Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pajamas of my Youth

When I was younger, I didn't wear traditional pajamas. My grandmothers bought me long, pink gowns in an effort to put me in feminine pajamas, but the girly stuff always ended up in the bottom of a drawer or the back of my closet. Mom and Dad never complained. As long as I wasn't running around naked, I could wear whatever I wanted to bed (and I doubt they'd have cared if I was naked in my own bed anyway).

What did I wear? I wore big t-shirts. Dad-sized t-shirts. One shirt came from a NASCAR race at Sears Point, the only race my parents ever made it to see. The shirt had Kyle Petty's car and number all over it, the MelloYello ugly-ass green color splashed across the white fabric. I wore that shirt out.

I wore t-shirts with all sorts of designs and patterns on them, from generic logos to funny sayings. Sometimes, I'd get shirts my own size, but they never slept quite as well as a Dad-sized t-shirt.

My parents always laughed at me when they saw me sitting on the couch, my knees tucked up to my chin, my big t-shirt drawn down over my legs so that only my arms, feet, and head poked out of the cottony warmth. I loved to be in that position. Even right now, at my age, I'm curled up in my desk chair, chin on my knees, my arms extended past my legs to the keyboard. My shirt isn't big enough to pull over my legs, otherwise, I might still do that too.

I remember other shirts, too, that I turned into pajamas. Several times, when it was cold and a long t-shirt wasn't enough, I'd find myself wrapped in one of Dad's big flannel shirts. I could button them up to hold my legs in close to my chest, and I'd slip the ends of the long arm sleeves over the ends of my toes. Of course, this made me quite vulnerable to any tickling... :)

Not that I'm ticklish, no, not at all. Never. Un uhn. Not me. No way.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A little down... just a little

I'm a little down today, and I can't explain why. Work wasn't fun: I tore paper along perforated lines for two hours, and then I stuffed those papers into envelopes or filed them away. Later, I entered codes into the computer to generate more reports that I'll get to tear apart tomorrow and mail or file. As boring as that sounds, I'm getting paid for it. My arms are actually sore from tearing apart four-part copies for the last two days. Ugh.

My mom came to visit me at work today for a few minutes as she was on her way home from training some people in a different office. I'm glad she was able to stop by campus and check out my little corner of the world.

Dinner was uneventful, spent reading while I forced down some icky fried rice. Every time I go to Panda Express, I'm reminded why I don't eat there very often. Not good.

The evening picked up. Some intelligent philosophizing and quick dancing made me smile more than usual. I am excited that I had a dance partner for a WCS that actually gives back some of that chemistry I try to weave. If only I actually knew how to WCS! LOL.

I was riding a pretty big dance high until just after the hour break when I stepped outside for some air. *whoosh* the energy all went out of me. My stomach tied itself up and started hurting, and the second hour was a frustrating hour of poor dancing on my part.

I hate feeling like I do right now. I'm surrounded by people that love me, and I'm healthy with no reason to be down. But I feel alone. Not that people aren't listening, or that no one cares... I'm just feeling alone. Usually I like that feeling. Tonight... not so much.

Maybe tomorrow will solve all of this purple I see in my thoughts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Drawing Blood the Hard Way

I am not a tough girl. I don't wear 'big girl panties.' And I can't believe I did this in high school.

In tenth grade, I jumped feet-first into a college-level Anatomy and Physiology class. The teacher was stern, and the class proved difficult for most students. Even my college A&P classes weren't as challenging as that class. We studied Latin in addition to the bones, muscles, and other guts for the class. We made models, drew gigantic diagrams, and took hundreds of tests, quizzes, and exams. We dissected all manner of dead things from worms and raw chicken legs to cats.

The teacher wasn't liked by several students, but he and I seemed to be playing on the same level or something, because we clicked. He was a veteran, ex-Navy or ex-Marine, I forget which, and he was a large man, tall and muscular like a retired linebacker. He was tough.

One of our labs included blood typing ourselves. We were supposed to use lancets to prick the end of a finger, and then we should have squeezed a tiny drop of blood onto each of four little bits of paper. The lab had more directions, but I have forgotten those as well.

The teacher offered extra credit (in the form of bragging rights) to any student who could draw blood for the lab without a lancet. He provided sterile razors and told us not to do anything stupid. Nobody moved. I looked around, looked at him, looked at the razors, shrugged my little girl shoulders, and went for it. Lancets scare the piss out of me. At least I knew I could control a razor.

I walked to the back of the classroom away from students so that I could concentrate on removing my own flesh. Not wanting to open a new wound, I picked around a scab until it came off. I swear, before or since, that's the only scab that came off without bleeding. Working slowly and deliberately, I opened up the old wound until blood oozed up, one slow blood cell at a time. Minutes turned into an hour, and time was running out. I poked harder, but it hurt too much. With seconds left in class, I poured my tiny bit of blood out onto the paper, finished up the lab, and started slapping on the bandaids.

For some reason, the test was inconclusive. The blood didn't work with the materials at hand or something... now, almost eight years later, I still don't know what my blood type is.

That wound was so ugly, it took almost three months to heal. Talk about bragging rights...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Twenty Thousand Hits

My first ten thousand hits took sixteen months. I crossed the twenty thousand hits mark a few days ago, just under two months for the second ten thousand people to stop by and say hi.

Holy shit.

That's a lot of people.

That's more people than live in my hometown.
That's more people than attend Oregon State University.
That's more people than stupid, useless facts about me on this blog.

That's a feckin' lot o' people.

I'm glad you're here. Thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment... or don't... I write because it makes me feel good, and while your musings generally bring me great joy, part of me doesn't give a shit what you think of me.

Twenty thousand.

Thanks. :)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Beloved Stories of My Childhood

I finished another book today, a feat I've not accomplished in several years. I read the sequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry called Let the Circle Be Unbroken. Powerful storylines that left me wanting more. The third book in the trilogy, The Road to Memphis, sits in my lap waiting to be opened.

My parents both love reading, so I was exposed to words from day one. Mom or Dad would sit me on their lap, and they'd point to each word as they read it. Nothing fancy, no lessons in phonics or anything else, just learning letters and words one at a time. I was either at or slightly above my reading level until fourth grade. Whether I had a fantastic teacher (which I did), or if it was just my time... I started reading in earnest.

About this time, my dad started taking my sister and me to the public library. He'd get a book or two, and my sister might find one or two, and I'd walk out with ten. My parents let us stay home alone during the long summers while they worked (and we didn't need a babysitter), so I'd read all day. Sure, we watched TV and did art projects... mostly I read. I kept up this reading pace through middle school when I finally ran out of books.

High school and college took up more of my time academically and musically. I wasn't quite old enough to read adult books while in high school--couldn't relate very well to the characters. One genre that fascinated me was war history. I read everything by Stephen E. Ambrose in a few short weeks, and I've since purchased several of his books. Shakespeare bores me, and I've never been able to get into the classics. And to be honest, I don't think I ever finished a required book for a college class...

About this time, I began my search for those books that shaped my childhood, those books that I first read in fourth and fifth grade that stayed with me. These books I highly recommend in no particular order:
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.
  • Apples in the Sky by C. M. McDade (Oregon author)
  • Shabanu and Haveli by Suzanne Fisher Staples
  • The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • Locadio's Apprentice by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (out of print, can't find it anywhere!)
  • The Clay Marble by Minfong Ho
  • On to Oregon by Honoré Morrow
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
  • Canyons by Gary Paulsen
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
  • Down River and River Thunder by Will Hobbs
  • On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  • Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
  • Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
  • The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and Donna Diamond
  • Are You There God, it's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (Oregon author)
  • Kavïk the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey (Oregon author)
Of course, those are just a few... my bookcases (plural, and I'm only a twenty-something) are overflowing with good books. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Poverty Can Be Fun

I went to my professor's office hours to discuss a term paper. After he'd looked it over, told me it was crap, and explained exactly what he wanted me to write about (the easiest way to an A), we got to talking about real life. One of the great things he told me was, "When you move out, you'll likely find yourself having a hard time making ends meet. Just remember this: poverty can be fun." I blew him off completely after the term ended, and have only talked to him once since. Poverty can be fun? I laughed. It takes money to have fun.

A few months later, I found myself living on my own with two wonderful girls. We rented a house in Corvallis while we endured the last eighteen months of college together. One of the girls did not work, nor did she pay for her schooling. One of the girls worked occasionally, and she definitely knows how to work hard, but her parents helped her out with college as well. I can't find a way to say this without sounding bitter, but I worked two jobs throughout college and paid my own way all four years. I only needed student loans the last three years, and my loans only covered tuition. My parents did help me out, $100 or $200 when I absolutely needed money for food or gas, and they paid my car insurance while I was living on my own. The key part of their loan was that I'd have to pay them back as soon as I got out of college. Last month, I was finally able to do that. :)

Our combined income (excluding what our parents helped us with) was less than $10,000/year. People have told me that 'college students can't live in poverty.' That's like saying 'college students can't be alcoholics.' I assure you, they can. I was living on about $700/month, and my rent and utilities took up a good $450. After food, gas, books, and other necessities, I had about $25 to myself each month if nothing went wrong. Something usually did.

I didn't eat out very much... come to think of it, I didn't eat much at all. Emily and I would eat ice cream and pop tarts for dinner, or we'd share a box of mac and cheese. Rachel and I dined on home-canned vegetables some evenings. My parents were considerate enough to supply me with my waffles from Costco (I'd grab a package every weekend when I went home, because I didn't have a freezer big enough for the whole box at once). Luckily, boys and other friends kept us supplied with chocolate and alcohol, otherwise we probably would have gone broke on those. We threw some awesome parties on $10, and Rachel hosted several dinners where we made the main dish and everyone else brought a side dish or something.

Our house wasn't grand by any means, and our couches were so hideously ugly that I nearly cried the first time I saw them (but now I miss them!). The TV was so old, it took twenty minutes to have a clear picture on it, and even that was pretty bad. Our walls were covered in pictures of us doing silly things, and we even had an empty heart-shaped box of chocolates on the hallway wall as decoration. You know what? People constantly told us that our house didn't feel like a college house when they visited. For all of it's misgivings, our house was clean, tidy, and had a lot of laughter in it. It felt like a home.

We didn't have a lot of money, and I certainly wasn't afloat several months. But those eighteen months were the best months of my life. I forged life-long friendships, had awesome adventures (yes, Mr. Guy, I mean awesome), and grew up in ways I know I haven't realized yet.

Poverty, indeed, can be so much fun.

Friday, May 25, 2007

No sleep, again

I don't know what it is about springtime that causes me to not sleep well. Growing up, I was a light sleeper, but I rarely awoke during the night. Even in college when I was busy with work, homework, dancing, and tormenting boys, I'd still sleep seven to nine hours a night. Then, last spring, something changed. I started sleeping three or four hours before waking. Maybe I was really too busy to sleep... that's possible. But summer came, and my sleeping pattern returned. Throughout this last autumn I slept well. In the cold of winter I slumbered well under my electric blanket. I slept pretty well in beds that weren't mine (staying with Emily or Rachel, or with a boyfriend), so I don't think it has anything to do with location. My bed is comfortable, supportive, and when I sleep well, I wake rested. What is it about this time of the year that causes me to not sleep well?

Also, I seem to get more headaches in the spring. I have an inkling that my headaches might be due to the increased sunlight. While most people become depressed in the dark winter, I thrive through the cooler months. I avoid going out into the sun, preferring to do anything outside in the early morning or late evening. If I spend more than an hour in the sun, I'll usually develop a headache and feel sick for the rest of the day. Hiking is one of my favorite activities in the spring and summer, but I stick to shady, forested areas almost exclusively, simply so I can avoid sunlight.

And then the sneezing. Yes, I have allergies. I don't know what I'm allergic to specifically, but it's causing me to sneeze about twenty or thirty times a day right now. I take a daily antihistamine, but it does little to help anymore.

Ugh. Is it autumn yet?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oregon is sustainable already

We were talking about sustainability at work a few weeks ago. One of my coworkers recycles everything she possibly can and eats only natural foods. Other people aren't quiet that dedicated, and I know I'm certainly not about to give up my earth-destroying mac and cheese *sarcasm*. A guy explained to us that the state government was instituting a bill requiring 25% of our state's energy to come from wind, sun, and wave (renewable) energy sources. I questioned the bill immediately. Here's why:

The bill requires the energy to come from wind, sun, and wave energy, but never states anything about energy coming from water. While damming up rivers isn't great for lots of reasons, hydroelectric power is renewable energy.

In case you haven't noticed, a significant portion of Oregon's energy comes from renewable sources already. The BPA has a nice paper on how much it has done for the state and region. I'm sure someone is going to balk at me about how dams are killing fish and destroying the earth and all manner of bad things. I'm not saying dams are a fix-all. I'm saying that at least 25% of Oregon's energy already comes from renewable sources, that's why the bill specifically leaves "water" off the list of sources (otherwise we'd already meet the requirement).

I think it's kind of funny. Smart, sure... we're miles ahead of other states, yet we're working even harder to be more sustainable. That's awesome.

And before you go off on me, telling me that I don't know anything about sustainability, I can assure you, I know. I worked with one of the leading sustainability groups in the state AND helped to spearhead the OSU sustainability initiative. That doesn't mean I'm a tree-hugging hippie... definitely not, but I'm at least informed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blog Stats

I enjoy watching people, seeing their habits. One of the reasons I keep an eye on my stat counter is to find out where people visit, what page they enter on, what page they leave on, etc. I'm able to see this information, and yes, I track IPs quite extensively. I know how often Mom visits my site, and I know how often I'm driving my own stats up with updates.

One of my favorite things to do is watch someone link over from MySpace or Facebook and see where they go. Some people enter and leave on the main page, and others click around a little. My most popular pages are "Random Questions," "Recipe for the Perfect Man," and "100 Things About Me." The "Posts of Note" section and "Labels" sections are probably the most clicked on, and people rarely click on "Archives."

I keep track of keyword searches too. The vast majority of people hitting my blog come from a Google search, "random questions" and all of it's articulations ("random witty questions," "list of random questions," etc.). I've had recent hits from, "apple haiku" and "she waits zero1." Part of me questions if these are really searches by humans or if they're spambots.

I'm high on the list for "Silver Falls State Park photos" and "value of handwriting."

How did you find my blog?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Wanted Joey to Win :(

Joey Fatone lost to Apolo Ohno tonight on Dancing With the Stars. I'm not heartbroken, but I am disappointed. Joey's talent has long been underrated. Apolo may be an Olympian, but Joey's not a bad athlete. I dance: there's no way I could pull off some of the stuff Joey has done this season. Congratulations Apolo... for what it's worth, my vote was with Joey.

Pronounce "Realty" Correctly!

Buying or selling a house? You might need a realtor. "ree-al-tor" NOT "ree-lit-or"

Want to sell other people's houses? Go into the realty business. "ree-al-tee" NOT "ree-lit-ee"



Monday, May 21, 2007

New Favicon, New Dance Moves

In case you missed it, I created and uploaded a new favicon this weekend. It's not terribly fancy, but it's better than what I had the first time. The larger version is posted here. What think ye?

And in other news, I went dancing tonight. The West Coast Swing group at OSU held a small function just outside of Corvallis tonight, and I needed the exercise so I attended. For $6, I got an hour-long, nearly-private lesson and three-and-a-half hours of open dancing. The lesson was very helpful, and between the few little things I've learned in the last few weeks and what I walked away with tonight, my WCS has greatly improved. I think I found where the "swing" comes in finally. Knowing my body and being comfortable with my body helps... I think the new jeans helped some too. ;) Unfortunately, I had to leave after only an hour of dancing, but I was exhausted and incredibly happy when I left.

That, and one guy couldn't stop staring at my boobs every time he danced with me. I didn't intend to put them on display, but my shirt was pretty form-fitting. As Chris put it, "that just means he was appreciative of what [I] brought to the dance." Appreciate my eyes, creepy dude...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Changes, Updates, and Cleaning House

I spent my weekend focused on organizing, updating, and cleaning out a lot of junk.

My computer is also my TV, and I record TV shows directly to my hard drive. I realized I had several dozen gigabytes sitting around, so I burned what I wanted to keep onto DVDs and tossed the rest. I also set my recording quality much lower so that I'll (hopefully) be able to get more than two hours on a disc.

My bathroom drawer isn't big, and I have a couple shelves underneath the drawer for all of my bathroom supplies. I didn't really think I was much of a diva, but I seem to have collected a ton of crap. I ended up tossing a pile of old make-up, and I'm letting go of all the old pairs of glasses that are outdated and the incorrect prescription. I'm keeping my very first pair of eyeglasses from second grade, and of course I'm keeping my current pair (duh), but I'm donating the rest.

I revamped my MySpace page, updated that profile, and updated my Facebook and Blogger profiles. I went through Picasa, removing duplicated pictures, labeling photos, and uploaded nearly 100 photos to MySpace and Facebook. I also added a few more to my blog (below).

Yesterday morning, I vacuumed and wiped down the interior of my car, washed the outside, and touched up a bunch of rock chips in my hood. My car looks fabulous again, and that makes me happy.

I haven't been motivated to blog lately, thus you've been seeing a lot of pictures. Dancing played a role in that, and I'm sure I won't be around much this week due to more dancing. I feel like this is a critical time for me to be dancing: either I'm about to grow a ton and really move on with dancing... or I'm going to fall out of love with it. Dancing is an expensive commitment, even more so since...

I BOUGHT NEW DANCING SHOES TODAY!!! Um... I better not stop dancing... :)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More from The Oregon Garden

Large "Water Feature"

"At Meadow's Edge"

This is called a Chocolate Vine. It is not made of chocolate, nor does it make chocolate. Methinks it should not be called a "chocolate vine."

"Arbor Mort"

I don't know what this is, but it looks really neat. :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

I Ate Gravy

To any normal person, that seems like a ridiculous blog title. "I ate gravy." Whoop-de-freakin'-do. That is, unless you're... me. Until about two years ago, I vehemently despised gravy. I wouldn't eat it, make it, and even avoided looking at it. Nothing screamed disgusting to me like congealed meat products. Oh, and when someone put gravy on bread or a biscuit... oh that is so wrong!

Tonight, Mom made chicken-fried-steak. I'd never had it before. The steak was good, but I'm not a fan of her breading... and when my parents were in Missouri last week, Mom picked up a packet of Amish country gravy mix to try. We tried it out tonight on the steak and some mashed potatoes. I've always eaten my potatoes plain or with salt and pepper.

I went out on the limb. I tried gravy. I ATE GRAVY. You know what? Kinda tasted like slimy... well... gooey... um... potatoes. Not bad, but not great either.

This week has been good for me, trying new things every day... it's exhausting (surprisingly), but nice to get out of my comfortable ruts every once in a while. While I can't recommend gravy to "spice things up," it's not a bad alternative to dry, plain, bland mashed potatoes.

But Hell will freeze over, pigs will fly, and I'll become very skilled at video games before I'll EVER eat gravy on my bread or biscuits. So Help Me God.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What a Crappy Week

I've had a bad week, and I'm pretty depressed right now.

Work is going pretty well, aside from being made to feel young or stupid every day. I do my best to get the job done right the first time, but mistakes happen, especially when I'm still learning a ton of stuff. Every day brings something new, and I like that--don't get me wrong--but I'd like to be able to work with something and fully understand it before moving on. *sigh* I'm still an idealist...

I haven't sat down to a piano in weeks, perhaps months. Between work, dancing, and updating this monster of a blog, I rarely have time anymore. I wish I had more talent... my passion is waning.

Dancing recently has been a ton of fun. I learned a new style of Lindy Hop last night, and that was a neat thing to experience, but my heart is still in Savoy Lindy. Even though I know it's not the case, a little tiny part of me dislikes the fact that the really good leads never ask me to dance... as if I'm not good enough. I realize I'm not great, but I don't totally suck. *sigh* more depressed.

And I learned this week that one of the residents I befriended while working in the retirement facility passed away earlier this month. She always looked gloomy until she saw me in the morning, and then a bright smile and "Hellooo, good morning dear!" would widen her face. I kept her stocked in strawberry jam, and she was always good for a hug. I'm going to miss her.

Short of winning the lottery or another big prize, I can't really think of a way this week is going to get better. I'm just praying it doesn't get any worse--because it definitely could.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Silver Falls State Park: Pictures

click on the pictures to make them larger: the resolution is excellent!

One creek flowing into another.

Upper North Falls
Silver Creek State Park
May 13, 2007

North Falls
Silver Creek State Park

-from behind

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pictures from The Oregon Garden

I hope my garden looks this good someday...

Something about water on unnatural rocks makes this look weird to me.

What a vista... and so much green!

I don't know why this looks so neat, but the trees make some neat reflections in the pools below them, and that made me smile. :)

Some kind of peony, I think.

The smallest waterfall of them all, and quite possibly my favorite one of the whole day.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gardens and Waterfalls

Talk about a weekend adventure! After shopping and dancing Friday night, I had a busy Saturday and Sunday too. Saturday morning I cleaned the house for my parents before I left. They've been gone for a week to Missouri, and I thought coming home to a clean house would be a nice treat. Of course, with an OCD mother, it doesn't really matter how good of a job I do, it still isn't good enough (which was kindly proven to me tonight).

As if shopping for lingerie Friday wasn't enough, I needed new jeans as well, so I dinked around in Salem at the mall while waiting for TH to get into town. I'm a bad shopper: I ended up spending more than half my time in a toy store looking at kid's games and decks of cards. Part of me never hopes that changes about me... :)

TH finally got into town, so I picked him up and took him on a drive through French Prairie, north up to Hwy 219, over to River Road, and back down to Keizer. The grass fields are as green as ever right now, and the orchards look fabulous. I wish I knew what all the different crops were, but I knew a few... even if he was bored, my spirit was recharged in the rolling hills of north Marion County.

Dinner out, then some conversation. Unfortunately, I had to be home by 11pm to let my parents into the house when they got home at midnight. My sister and I ended up having a long, deep, thoughtful conversation, and I think we bonded about a few things important to us. While I didn't get to see TH much that night, I am glad I was at home for the experiences I had.

Sunday dawned entirely too early, and I was in Salem again around 10:30am. I coerced TH into joining me at the Oregon Garden for some exploring and learning. The Garden was quite understated and beautiful in it's simplicity. I was a bit disappointed that fewer plants were in bloom, but my allergies were otherwise thankful. No matter where I went, birds called all around me, so many kinds... while such clatter annoys me at home, I found it pleasant there. The overcast weather and slight breeze made the walk refreshing. For someone who usually thinks "plants are only good for salad," I definitely enjoyed the Oregon Garden.

Knowing that the Willamette Valley isn't all about grass and flowers, I decided that TH needed to see some trees too. I drove us out to Silver Falls State Park. The waterfalls here did not disappoint anyone. The restroom facilities left something to be desired... like a hazmat suit and biohazard cleaning chemicals... but they got the job done. We took off down the trail and walked at least four miles on our loop.

I had my first all-out panic attack at one point on the Canyon Trail. We were walking along a cliff edge when it hit me: shortness of breath, vertigo, trembling, chest pain... my biggest phobia is of heights. I wanted to be anywhere but on that ledge, and after a while, the little fence keeping me safe ended into nothingness. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Ugh, I hate heights.

Our hiking adventure was not all bad: we both got a bunch of great pictures, and we couldn't have asked for better hiking weather. We both got a lot of good exercise and fresh air, and I didn't spend my weekend sitting here on my bloggy--a great change!

I'm exhausted now, though. Hopefully I'll get pictures up soon... like, after I sleep for a week...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lingerie Shopping

I never thought I'd do it. Never could I see myself walking into a high-end lingerie store, trying on all sorts of crazy things, and actually purchasing anything. But I did all of that. And I had a great time doing it, too.

Girly things never excite me. I can't stand shopping, and I don't wear dresses, skirts, or frilly things if I help it. Heck, some days I don't even put on makeup. My clothes mostly come from department stores (JC Penney and Kohl's, and occasionally Aéropostale or Christopher and Banks), and the only thing I will really go all-out on is shoes. My undies are simple, understated, mostly without lace... they're surprisingly feminine though, as opposed to rough and manly I guess.

I won a gift certificate for a new lingerie store in downtown Corvallis at the charity dance a week ago. I was pretty embarrassed walking across the floor to pick the certificate up, but after thinking hard on the idea for a week, I figured I'd spend the money on something unique and special and out-of-the-ordinary for myself. Nothing to lose, right?

Except I wanted the moral support of a close friend, plus advice on what did or did not look good on me. My two best girlfriends are hours away, and I don't think I'd be comfortable showing my two best guy friends my body draped in silky things. Chris and I were talking about it, and I don't remember how it happened, but we (he?) decided he should come along and help. That's right: my ex-boyfriend came with me to shop for lingerie. :)

The store is beautiful. They specialize in full-figure sizes and high-end garments. I was a little hesitant that it would look like a porn clothing store or something, but I could not possibly have been more wrong. Feminine, gorgeous, luxurious shapes and fabrics... talk about the perfect place to pamper yourself or the special woman in your life. The women working there never made me feel uncomfortable, and that's astounding in itself.

They offered to professionally fit me and were most helpful in finding things for me to try on. Chris wandered around grabbing things he thought I'd like. Most of the hour we were there I spent in the dressing room changing into and out of articles of womanly things. Yes, I modeled them for Chris, and he was totally honest about what did and did not look good. I tried on slips, gowns, bustiers, bras, all sorts of panties and shorts, chemises, and some things I don't know the names of.

In the end, I selected a red chemise that Chris picked out himself ("Chris, can you find me something in red? I love red..."). It fits wonderfully and doesn't look cheap or slutty at all.

I don't often take myself seriously or spend money to truly pamper myself. As much as guys will tell me I'm attractive, or as often as old people tell me I look "cute," I have a hard time taking their kind words to heart. This shopping trip made me see something that I probably should have seen a long time ago. Having an opportunity to try these things on, to wear silk and satin and lace and all those fabrics that leave nothing to the imagination... I felt pretty.

Friday, May 11, 2007

How I Became a Dancer

TH asked me the other day about how I got into dancing. I thought I'd covered that, but after looking everywhere on my bloggy, I couldn't find the pathway. Just for you TH, the Whole Truth:

Dancing has long fascinated me, whether as a participant or simply watching on TV. My parents were a bit of an inspiration when they took country western line dancing lessons through the local community college when I was very young. The babysitter would always put me to bed before my parents got home, but as soon as they arrived, I'd fly out of bed begging Dad to teach me a few steps he'd learned that night. He always obliged me, if only to walk me up and down the long hallway in a two-step or around the living room once in an Electric Slide.

Every year in elementary school and middle school, we were forced to partner up and learn a new dance. Some years we learned country dances, and often we worked on traditional square dances. I hardly remember learning a basic waltz now, but I am sure teachers forced us to hold hands and count to three a few thousand times.

And then there was the TV. OPB was on more often than not in our house when I was little, so I saw tons of ballroom dances, DanceSport events, Latin Championships, etc. Like any young girl, I would imitate the graceful steps, pretending I was wearing one of those frilly, sequined, extravagant ballgowns.

As I matured through high school and college, I found myself studying music instead of dance. I'd never pursued any dance lessons, had never taken ballet, and was pretty much a klutz. Sure, I had great rhythm (most drum majors learn this eventually), and I could definitely count music, but it never occurred to me to learn to dance.

My senior year in college was halfway over. I only needed a few more required credits, but I still needed a lot of elective credits. Those credits could come from anywhere in the university, from any college or discipline, from any department or subject. I considered taking more science classes to pad my degree. I thought about art, music, and writing (easy classes to boost my GPA). I wanted to take some more cartography classes. And I've also held a life-long respect and admiration of disciplined martial artists. For days I reviewed class schedules and watched classes fill up until I could register. When the day finally arrived (at 12:00am, way back in the day when you could register the "night before"), only Ballroom I and Karate I were open. I had a class conflict with Karate I, so I signed up for Ballroom I.

My first days in the class were a breeze! I could already count music and was often the first person to pick up where the downbeat was. Several guys asked me if I'd danced previously, but I always told them no. Ballroom I was a ton of fun. The next term was even more busy with dance: Ballroom II, Nightclub/Hustle, Lindy I, and Salsa. I attended every workshop, every dance, every practice... I danced hundreds of hours in those last ten weeks of college. I skipped classes to dance and wrote papers when I should have been sleeping. It was truly a whirlwind time for me, but the absolute best time of my life.

After that, I think you can read all about my life as a dancer by clicking on "Dancing" on the left. I also have a list of the dances I can do, and hopefully no broken links exist to more information (Wikis and Movies) if you so desire. To anyone that does not think ballroom or swing dancing is not difficult or a work out, I challenge you to try it. A fast Lindy Hop will put me on the floor faster than a six-mile run any day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Did I Mention I have Syphilis?

That's right! And I got it from my father on Christmas morning. :)

Now that I have your attention... let me explain with a few pictures and a link.

My dad heard me talking about these guys from ThinkGeek, and being a science geek with a sense of humor, he couldn't resist. In addition to Syphilis (The Pox, pink), he also gave me Common Cold (purple) and Mono (blue). These fun, squishy, informative toys sit in my bookcase with my other medical and science books. They come with a little tag explaining what kind of virus or bacteria they are, and a microscopic view of the actual germs they represent. Giant Microbes also sells a few others I'd really like: Flesh-Eating Disease, Mad Cow Disease, and Giardia.
By far, my favorite thing to do is break it to guys that I have syphilis. They always respond with an aghast face, terrified of me for an instant. When I tell them I got it from my father on Christmas morning, they pretty much run away screaming. Hehehe, it's not nice, but it's funny! :D

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Most Memorable Kiss

Summer heat waned in the evening, the night air warmed by the concrete below. We had danced several hours earlier that night, and not wanting to part so soon, we walked along the waterfront, deep in conversation. The full length of the waterfront, all the way down and back we strolled, then across town to a park, and finally around the downtown area one more time... miles upon miles. For hours we shared stories and laughter, lots of smiles and questions. Midnight passed unnoticed. We finally wandered back to the parking lot where we'd left our cars. He walked me to mine, and we stood there, still talking, for another hour. The parking lot was dark and cool, lit only by a center pole and shadowed by bushes and trees. Few cars remained at such a late time, though one car not far away was inhabited by a sketchy character until he grew tired of watching us stand there and drove away.

Remaining stationary for so long after a lengthy trek, I kept shifting my weight to keep myself comfortable, alternately locking my knees. Either I waited too long to shift again, or the blood had finally pooled in my legs. My vision narrowed, and I started swaying. He reached out for me, touching my hand, steadying me. My other arm extended to grab for the car door, but I couldn't see it. He was talking--questions perhaps, but I was unaware of the words. I fumbled to get my car keys out of my pocket, and upon retrieval, he stole them from my hand and unlocked the car door for me just in time for my legs to give out. I slumped into the driver's seat sideways, my legs extending outside the car but not quite reaching the concrete. My head rested upon the headrest, my ear smashed to my head. I could feel his fingers on my hands, a gentle one feeling for a pulse at my wrist. Sitting down helped, and I wearily opened my eyes to find two very concerned ones looking back at me. He asked if I was okay. My body was weak: I struggled to right my head and clear my mind. After several moments of slow, deep breathing, I replied a quiet but distinct, "I'm okay." In truth, I wasn't, but he probably figured that anyway. He wouldn't give my keys back until he was sure I was able to drive home safely, and he took his time making sure. The early morning air stirred the leaves hanging over us. For being downtown, the only sounds were that of the river, a distant car engine, and our breathing. I looked at him purposefully and noticed some hesitancy. That was my only warning before he leaned forward and kissed me.

Whether out of surprise, instinct, or desire I returned that kiss, I will never know. It was a kiss made from the movies: his hand rested along my cheek and jaw, cradling my face, holding the kiss. I don't know how long it lasted, but if ever a moment truly warranted a kiss, that moment was it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Worst Job I Ever Had

I've done some thankless work in my short working life. I've volunteered in middle schools, worked for elderly residents, and served the public through the court system. None of these jobs could, by any means, be considered glamorous. The worst job, however, was kinda sweet. I got to sit in an air conditioned office, was surrounded by friendly people, and talked on the phone for as long as I wanted. The bad part? I was a telemarketer. I worked for a fundraising organization for a school. I'd arrive to work before 6pm, gather my materials and clean off the workspace to get ready to call people.

The calling system was automated through a computer system. I only had to put on a pair of headphones with one of those boom microphones, click "call" and wait for someone to answer the phone. Each number would dial and ring until I either clicked "no answer" or "next call" or someone picked up. I'd listen to ringing telephone noise for five or six minutes sometimes until a human finally came on the line. Once in a while, I'd get a really long string of ringing and be startled when somebody said, "hello?" We were allowed to do homework while we were waiting for someone to pick up, but we were not allowed to read. I spent much of my time with my anatomy coloring book and a box of colored pencils. That's probably the reason I passed my anatomy class. To this day, the sound of a ringing phone drives me crazy.

I talked to a few interested people while making these calls. Every once in a while, though, I got a wacko on the other end. I called one lady, and she answered the phone normally, but after a few seconds, she broke into tears. "I've just been waiting by the phone for someone to call me. I really need someone to talk to." Umm... boss? We've got a hot one... I had no idea how to handle the situation, partly because I thought she was pulling my leg. My supervisor came over and tried to calm the woman down, but she eventually hung up. FYI: I've done this to a telemarketer since. ;)

The horse people were a tragic phone call. I reached a family who, at the time of my phone call, were putting down their horse out in the barn. Due to organization rules, I had to speak with an adult before I could get off the phone. The little girl that answered the phone was in tears, "My mommy is out in the barn making our horse go to sleep forever." My immediate instinct was to get off the phone and leave the family alone. My supervisor was standing right behind me, and the business recorded all phone calls for review. I had to talk to an adult. Twenty minutes later, a woman came on the line, furious that I'd interrupted their night. I felt horrible.

My "favorite" people were always the guys who answered any question with, "I don't know if I'll give you money tonight, baby... what are you wearing?" Answers like that were grounds for removing the number from our database. My responses varied. Once, I just answered the question, "jeans and a t-shirt," which was the truth. I answered, "if I say nothing, will you still give me money?" once or twice... and I don't think I got caught by the recordings either. Sadly, though, I didn't make money off of those louses. My best response (and most used) was, "Probably more than you'd like. Have a good night, Mr. So-and-So."

In all, I worked at this place for six weeks. During that time, I raised over five thousand dollars, had one of the top three fundraising scores consistently, and never missed a day of work. However, I also felt my self-esteem plummet from the names I was called, became depressed, and most of all, never wanted to talk on a telephone again. Those were a very long six weeks.

Hehehehe, I pity the telemarketers that get through to me... I know a LOT of good tricks.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lazy Monday Meme

I don't have anything better to post tonight, plus I'm not exciting enough to have another adventure for you. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a real post up tomorrow night. Until then, enjoy.

"What's the first thing you think of?"

1. Beer:

2. Anorexic:

3. Relationships:

4. Purple:

5. Power Rangers:
Bill Engvall

6. Weed:

7. Steroids:

8. Cartoons:
Looney Tunes

9. The President:

10. Tupperware:

11. Florida:
orange juice

12. Santa Claus:

13. Halloween:
black cats and pumpkins

14. Bon Jovi:
that I should know who that is...

15. Grammar:

16: Myspace:

17. Worst fear:
haven't I covered this six thousand times?

18. Marriage:
a societal pressure

19. Paris Hilton:

21. Redheads:

22. Blondes:

23. Pass the time:

24. One night stands:

25. Donald Trump:

26. Neverland:
J. M. Barrie

27. Pixie Stix:

28. Vanilla ice cream:
my favorite

30. High school:
difficult, painful, easy

31. Pajamas:

32. Woody:
my HS principal's name

33. Wet socks:
cold feet

34. Alcohol:
makes me cranky, tastes bad

35. Love:

36. My best friends:

37. Food:
cream of wheat bread

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Story of a Former Band Geek

Many people have told me that they wish they'd never walked away from an instrument they once learned to play. "I never should have stopped trying to learn how to play the piano," or "Being a member of the marching band was one of the best experiences of my life," they tell me. What's your story?

I don't think my story is typical of any music student. My first notes on a piano were at a young age, perhaps three or four. My oldest female cousin and an aunt were both pianists, so they'd sit me down and show me a few things every time I saw them. Mom finally enrolled me in piano lessons in 2nd grade at a music conservatory. Four years later, I had graduated into sheet music and no longer needed a teacher. I started playing the flute in 5th grade, and I picked up my first alto sax in 7th grade. In 8th grade, I tried out to be the drum major. My band director flat out told me I'd never make a good drum major, that I should never lead a band.

*Note: a drum major does not play the drums. They are the people in front directing or leading the band on a field or in a parade. Sometimes they carry batons or a mace and have a wonky plume in their hat. Drum Majors keep the beat (contrary to what percussionists think), and they do not play the drums.

In 9th grade, I had a hard time fitting in with the band. I went from being the most accomplished flute player to being next-to-last chair in the transition to high school. Learning to march on a field was one of the hardest things I've done, but within two weeks, I had proven myself to be a most capable marcher and musician. People quickly nicknamed me "Noreen Jr." since one of the best musicians and marchers at my high school before me was named Noreen. In the spring, I tried out to be the junior drum major, which is usually reserved for sophomores-to-juniors. A girl one year ahead of me narrowly beat me for the title. Undaunted, I worked even harder. I snagged up a few other senior positions in the band through my sophomore year, including music librarian, uniform manager, and even 1st chair flute. By the next spring, I had studied, lived, breathed, ate, slept, and geeked nothing but band. I once again tried out for drum major, the only senior position I did not hold, and not surprisingly (to me), I earned the title. The moment I was named drum major will have to be another "Memorable Moment" post another day.

From that day my sophomore year to the end of my senior year, I directed the band. Or, at least I though I did... the band teacher was a heavy-set, middle-aged Mormon with a quick temper who didn't believe women should have leading roles. I tried to organize fundraisers, tried to get people more active in making decisions in the band, tried to boost morale, tried just about everything to make the band better. The students weren't on board, and my director wasn't on board, so my work was for nothing. Every year we planned a big trip to San Francisco or Seattle or LA or... the list of destinations never mattered since the director never followed through on his plans. He would sit in his office and play chess on the computer while I tried to direct songs. Nevertheless, in the two years I spent as drum major, our scores consistently increased in competitions, and in the end, we took our scores up over twenty points even though we lost half our members. That kind of success is unrivaled before or after our band in the history of our competition circuit.

As time wore on, I became more and more frustrated and depressed as a music student. The piano was separate and still brought me great joy, but playing the flute or directing became a chore. Don't get me wrong, some of my best memories are on a football field, wading through inches of frozen mud, straightening ranks... but the shine has tarnished.

Being a band geek was rough. I didn't have many friends (both due to my lack of social skills of any kind in high school and my status as the ultra-geek), and I got teased a bunch for being in band. I spent a lot of time in the band room, so I didn't get much chance to even break away from my circle of friends there. Band made me very happy, but it also contributed significantly to my teenage depression.

When I left high school at graduation, I also walked away from the band. I walked away from most of those friends, from competition, from the work, from the fun. OSU has a marching band and several different symphonic bands, but I had nothing to do with them. Some people regret discontinuing their instrument, but I haven't looked back. I still play the piano often, and that passion rarely flags... the piano is my instrument, a part of me. I don't look back on my time in the band with regret as much as disappointment.

I never knew what the word "bittersweet" meant until I realized all of this. Now I know.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I'm never buying another raffle ticket!

Last night was better than I could have ever expected. I convinced Emily to meet me in Albany for some yummy pasta at PizzAmoré. Jeff came too, and another friend joined us. I had the delight of introducing Jeff to the (truly) one and only Eddie Izzard via audio track on the drive to and from Corvallis, and he seemed to really like it. :) Of course, if my conservative father can sit and listen to Eddie Izzard and think his comedy is funny, just about anyone can. Dinner was spectacular, as always there, and we laughed so hard that I almost had spaghetti come out my nose. I've had water and pop do that, but spaghetti is pretty wonky to go out your nose. My stomach still hurts from laughing so much.

After dinner, I met back up with Emily at OSU, and we went to the charity dance there benefitting kids who need surgery for cleft palates. We didn't dance a whole lot... there were too many girls and not enough guys to be able to dance every song, but we did get a few great dances in. I had an awesome partner for the first swing, and he really pushed me hard to get all the leads right... even though I totally screwed up one turn and went the wrong direction. ;) My shoes were still a bit tight, and that made my toes hurt some, but I toughed it out. I danced with someone I've never really danced with before (which is pretty amazing considering we're at almost every dance together), and he surprised me--he's a smooth dancer and an easy-to-follow lead, which I adore. He does make some funny faces when he dance though, and that can be a little distracting. ;)

There was a raffle, too. When Emily and I paid to get into the dance, the guys behind the booth didn't have change for my $10, so they gave me two raffle tickets with my admission. That's fine... I know the money went for something good. I didn't really want to win any of the prizes--they were for local bars and restaurants that I don't eat at much. Emily promised me if one of my tickets was drawn, she'd claim my prize for me. ...But the plot thickens. One of the organizers came over to Emily later during the dance and asked if she'd help him draw raffle tickets for prizes. She agreed. When the time came, she pulled out ticket after ticket for different prizes. I was "lucky" in not winning anything. Someone won a free piercing at a tattoo shop, and several people won small gift certificates to shops and eateries around Corvallis. One of the big prizes was a $25 gift certificate for lingerie.

And guess who won?

That's right. ME. Since Emily drew the ticket, I had to walk the long way across the wooden ballroom floor to claim my little white envelope. Snickers, laughter, shouts, jeers... I heard it all on that marathon of a walk. So now I have $25 to spend on lingerie... that I won't even get to use because I don't have anyone to wear it for, and I'm pretty cool just wearing cotton or nothing at all. A few people came up to me later with the snide comment/question, "So Jaggy, you gonna get leather or lace?" Ugh. I think that's the equivalent question for females what "boxers or briefs" is to a male. Makes me rethink ever asking that question again...

We had a fantastic night, complete with tons of laughter, some good dancing, and even winning a raffle drawing (embarrassing as that was).

I've uploaded a movie (below) of myself dancing with [yet another] Chris. You should watch it, leave a comment, and make me happy today. :)

Lindy Hop Movie

Thanks, Chris, for keeping such an awesomely steady beat while filming that I had no trouble looping the audio track on top. Yay for Lindy! Check it out:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Slush Fund Ends!

I had an opportunity to pay off the last of my "slush fund" last month--the last of the money I owed my parents for the car insurance and cell phone they paid for me while I was in college. Once I moved back home, they stipulated that I couldn't move out again until I paid them back. My goal was to have them paid by April 1, and I could have done it... but I took another month and dumped some money into my savings account instead.

Blog readers, I have fantastic news: I am OFFICIALLY paid up. I owe my parents $0.00.

And that is an amazing feeling.

If only my student loans looked that good...

I think this little event justifies a trip to the craft store, or maybe even a night on the town with Emily tomorrow night, complete with dancing. Hehehe, that doesn't sound very adventurous... what would YOU do to celebrate achieving a huge goal?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield.

Some days, I feel pretty down on myself. Today, unfortunately, was one of those days. I have zero drive to do anything important, and even though I've been craving some delicious Local Boyz cuisine, it just didn't taste as good as I'd hoped.

I think it all started with my dream last night. Now before I launch off into a tirade about the intimate details of a dream, let me remind you: there is nothing more boring than listening to someone else describe a dream. Quick summary of the nightmare: I got married... to no one. I had a wedding dress and my parents were taking me to my own wedding, but I wasn't marrying anyone. Nobody was there, and nobody was expected to be there.

I'm sure that has to mean something in the extremes of the cosmos...

Upon waking, I realized it was all a very weird dream (and had been thinking that during the dream, "this can't be real, it just can't be!"). But then, I also realized I was waking up alone, yet again, in a tiny bed, in a stark room, in a small town... sometimes I despair over little things.

And then... my pants. Mom insists that my sister and I need to get new pants. Neither my sister nor I disagree with her. Since Mervyn's pulled out of Albany, and Eddie Bauer left Salem, and there are no places to get Levi's close, we have a hard time finding jeans that fit at a cost that's reasonable. Furthermore, what you are not hearing is the way Mom tells us to buy new jeans. I think it translates roughly to, "You need to buy new, bigger jeans."

I've been working in a desk job for seven months now, and I have gained a paltry five pounds. I've also reached that point where a woman's body is primed for popping out kids. Previously, guys have mentioned that they like girls with just a little more curve... so I don't worry too much about having a healthy weight by any and all standards. And NO, I don't believe I need bigger jeans. I need jeans that haven't been washed six hundred times and have shrunk two sizes.

Before dancing tonight, I burned some time in Staples. I ended up getting a new, larger tripod for my camera (so hopefully my movies won't make Auntie sick) and found some neat watercolor pencils that I just couldn't live without. Nothing says a bad day like 'shopping therapy'--even though I dislike shopping.

My boss told me today that my vacation day last Friday isn't paid vacation. I'm not going to be eligible for any paid vacation until October. Sucky.

Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Memorable Moment #2

I was always the good kid, the straight-A student (until high school anyway), near-perfect attendance... but in 5th grade, I had this horrible habit of not doing my math homework. One of my most memorable moments (and lowest points) was in 5th grade when Mrs. Barber gave me lunch detention.

Why, if I was a great student, did I not do my math homework? It doesn't stand to reason, seeing that I've always been highly capable of doing math. In 5th grade, I think we were working on long division. My logic was probably 'do enough to show the teacher you know what you're doing, a couple story problems, and call it good.' Apparently the teacher didn't see things the same way.

One day, she wrote some names on the board. I'd never, ever had my name on the board for any reason, so I ignored her. "These are the people who need to stay in for lunch detention today," she stated. I glanced over the list, but must have brushed too quickly. At recess, I got up to go outside, and she stopped me at the door with a shout. When I turned around, my eyes immediately spotted my name, and tears welled up impossibly fast.

I'd screwed up, and Mommy wasn't going to save me from the inevitable.

My teacher handed me a stack of assignments and told me to finish them that afternoon or else I'd have lunch detention for the rest of the week. Lunch detention wasn't like regular detention--it didn't go on my permanent record, and it didn't mean anything other than not being able to go out and play. Except I didn't know that then. I essentially had an insta-melt-down. My teacher sent me up to talk to the counselor.

We determined together, during lunch, that I had too much on my plate to get my math homework done. Between being in the 5th grade band and the citywide Big Band, being a Peer Helper, being on School Patrol, ,mentoring a mentally and physically handicapped student, and taking piano lessons, I was stretched pretty thin. I was only in class about half the time, maintaining excellent grades, and never missed a day of school. The counselor talked to the teacher, but she wouldn't budge. I had to do the homework.

Either do the homework, or give up other things.

I had that math homework done in under an hour--all six assignments...
and I never had math detention (or any detention) again.

I also turned in every required assignment, even in college. Sometimes they weren't perfect, but I turned them all in.