Saturday, June 30, 2007

Freedom, if only for a while

My parents left today to go camping, so I'm officially on my own for a week. I haven't been on my own like this since I moved back into to my parents' house a year ago. True freedom will come in a few short months when I once again move out (hopefully permanently), but this week should be a blessing in many ways.

Moving home was a difficult decision. I labored for weeks over it. The other choice was moving up to Hillsboro with Emily and living with her parents. As much as I didn't want to live with my own parents, I can't imagine living with someone else's parents. I don't have it in me to mooch off others like that.

One week of freedom. I get to say when I have to be home at night. I have a choice in what I'm eating or where I fall asleep. I can watch whatever I want whenever I want, and I can even play the piano without headphones, the volume turned way up or way down. My parents more or less control everything here, and this one week not having them here to mandate each decision is a pretty big deal to me.

No, I'm not going to go crazy and have a party or tear the house up. I have lived on my own already. I know how this feels--except I have forgotten how GREAT it feels. I'm free to do as I wish.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Friday, June 29, 2007

I am a Terrible Liar

I think we can all agree that lying is a bad thing--and that we all do it. None of us has been absolutely honest every second. That said, it's never a good idea, and rarely should it be done. There are probably some exceptions where a little lie doesn't hurt anyone, but I haven't found one.

We all like to think we're honest than most other people. However, technically that's impossible. I do think I'm more honest than others: I'm a blogger that writes about very personal things openly, and I'm brutally blunt and forthright. My blog leaves little about my life to anyone's imagination, though there are a few parts I leave off out of respect for privacy.

I'm probably so honest because I'm a terrible liar. I never did develop a good poker face (although my cribbage face is a force to be reckoned with), and if I have something on my mind, you're going to hear it. If I'm troubled or something is wrong emotionally, unless I want you to know, you'll never know anything is wrong. I can't lie very well, but I've mastered hiding emotions. My best friend is the only person that can see through those façades--and he's scary good at it. I haven't found anyone quite that good at reading me since, though a few of my friends do seem to get when I'm stressed.

I make a huge deal about convincing people to ask, "How are you?" and mean it. Don't just ask the question as a filler in casual conversation. Don't ask questions you don't want answers to. But I think I say, "fine," "good," or "okay" more than anything else no matter how I'm feeling. I don't like to trouble people with my drama if I can help it, especially family stuff or personal internal crap. My coworkers will ask me how my weekend was, or how my evening was the previous night: "okay" is my standard answer. No need to tell them anything else.

This week, I've been mentally scattered at work. I am learning some more new stuff, and I'm trying to wrap my brain around the last new stuff I learned still. The manager retired--this was his last week--and several people were out on vacation. I had work coming at me in every direction, plus a ton of other stuff happening in my life that I can't control (and I hate not being in control of my time). I was sitting in one of my coworker's offices when a cluster headache came out of nowhere. BAM! my head imploded. I grimaced for a few seconds, but then it was gone. He asked if my face hurt or something. Um, no... the stress of everything around me is just causing my brain to misfire and go crazy, thanks. I told him I was okay (a lie), and the look on his face was that of, "Yeah, right, I ain't buyin' that." I ended up telling him enough that he didn't give me that weird "I'm concerned about you, but I respect your right to privacy" face any longer. I'm not a good liar.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Twilight Zone Drama

I swear I woke up in the Twilight Zone this morning. Every move I made felt weird, and I felt as if I couldn't get myself moving forward no matter how hard I tried. The drive to work was as crazy as well. I was almost out of town when traffic slowed considerably to gawk at a man crawling along the sidewalk. Whether he was intoxicated or injured, I don't know, but everyone around me was on a cell phone. It was surreal. Then, out on the highway, all of the oncoming cars had only one headlight turned on. Five or six cars in a row, a string of cars stretched half a mile. Within five miles of Corvallis, I passed under a magic line that separated dry, warm morning from wet, cold, winter storm. As fast as I entered the squall, I left it again. Just a weird, weird morning!

My week has been difficult to say the least. Sometimes I feel like my life is perpetual drama. Outwardly, I'm calm and smiling, but in those times when you can't see me, I'm freaking out. My drama this week has almost entirely centered around my grandmother's hospitalization due to heart problems. She was scheduled for an angioplasty this morning, but it was reset for tomorrow morning. Hopefully things will go well and she won't have to spend more than one more night in the hospital.

Mom and one of her sisters have spent more time at the hospital than I have, and for that I feel guilty. However, Mom hasn't really allowed either my sister or me to visit Grandma much. We will be expected to help care for her upon her return to her own home (unlike any of our other cousins), yet we are not allowed to make any decisions concerning Grandma. We both feel like pawns, like we're being used. Neither of us want to leave Grandma hanging--we don't mind helping out--but we don't feel like we should be forced into it. That has been a difficult piece of my week.

I know I haven't been a joy to be around this week, and for that I apologize. Nothing in my life is more important than family. I don't like having drama, and I certainly don't enjoy being cranky. If I've seemed a bit needy, it is my sincerest hope that you'll forgive me. I'm not accustomed to reacting like an adult yet to these stresses.

On a positive note, I actually have plans this weekend! This Sunday, I'll be in Hillsboro at Emily's parents' house with a few of our friends. A small gathering of great people, a chance to see my girls, and probably a lot of good food. I can't wait to get up there, and the journey itself is going to be an adventure. Yay for plans and adventure!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Smothered"

I want up, want out, want to be
anywhere but here
away from the fear
away from the taking faces
that tear me apart.

I want to do right by you
and make you understand
that I'm trying my best
that isn't good enough
because you're perfect.

I want to feel loved
in all the ways you've failed
and have you stand there
without pointing at me
yelling silently.

Cut the apron strings from
around my fragile neck
and let me grow a spine.
I want to breathe uncorseted:
unhalting, awake, and alive.

So while you destroy me
with your common nonsense
I'll be waiting
because there's nothing else I can do
but suffocate in your glory.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pre-Bedtime Weirdness

Because you actually needed to know a few more completely useless things about me on this here bloggy... I've been sucked into another meme. I'm not tagging anyone, partly because I only know about ten people on the whole planet, and partly because no one is actually going to read this. So there. And here!

Six Weird Things I Do while Sleeping or Getting Ready for Bed:

1. I have to go to the bathroom before I go to bed. This is for two reasons: a) I don't wake up in the middle of the night like most people, though I am a terribly light sleeper and awaken easily to odd noises. and b) I sleep better with an empty bladder.

2. I am a light sleeper. I wake up if people are looking at me. Seriously.

3. The closet doors must be closed all the way in order for me to sleep. I'm not afraid of closet monsters or anything, it's just a quirk. The doors must be closed all the way.

4. Little-to-no light in the room. I've been waking up at 5:30am recently due to light coming in the window (and the fucking sprinklers going off when I'm trying to sleep!).

5. I can't sleep with my contacts in. I also have trouble sleeping with my glasses on. Surprisingly, sleeping with those on doesn't actually mean I see my dreams better. It just means I wake up with itchy eyes or dents in my face.

6. While it doesn't always happen, I do prefer to go to bed clean. I've always showered in the evenings after work, after my day's adventures. Showering allows me a chance to unwind, think, pray, sing, and get clean. I don't need a shower to wake up in the morning, so I take them at night. I don't like going to sleep with wet hair, but I can. That way, I feel like I'm still clean when I wake up, ready to face the world.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Speaking of Saying Things

I'm not generally a sensitive person. People pick on me all the time, tease and jest and mock and poke fun at me. I don't mind a well-deserved ribbing on occasion--provided you're willing to receive one in return. You can make fun of my clothes or hair, or you can philosophize about my lack of intellect. You can tease me for nearly running a red light on my way home tonight. And you can mock my word choice and casually placed Eddie Izzard or Robin Williams quotes.

One thing I can't stand being teased about, though, is my voice.

My voice isn't obnoxious, it's just not what you'd expect. It's not high-pitched, whiny, or squealy. I don't have one of those compassionate voices that comforts people when they're ill (or maybe that's just my personality, whoops). I have a low voice for a female. It's not really low, low like a guy's voice, but it's lower than those of most girls I know.

A low voice comes in handy for public speaking--another thing I love doing. I can muster up a good guttural shout as well. My voice carries reasonably well: it's of a pure tonality. If I can find a song low enough, I'll sing along when I'm alone... I do sing often while commuting. Twenty years as a musician has helped me recognize that I probably shouldn't sing, but I enjoy trying. :P

My voice, though, is something about me I can't change. I can't make it higher. I can't make it lower. Usually it scares boys away. And it is hard to sound perky on the phone at 8am on a Monday morning with a low voice, but I try anyway.

I think of great voices in history, those orators and singers with true depth and speaking ability. They had low voices. Nnenna Freelon's amazing rendition of the popular jazz standard "If I Had You" tears me to pieces with it's sound. I could listen to her sing for hours and hours, and I'll sing along when I can. That slow, smooth, deep voice is utterly feminine. It's as if her voice has womanly curves.

You know what? I have curves. :P

And I have a low voice.

And I don't appreciate being teased about it. Please don't.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Communion Cup

On top of my old TV in my bedroom (the one I used before I put a TV tuner in my computer), I have a bit of fired clay, glazed and smooth. The clay has been shaped into a small cup and sort of saucer, a perfect set of imperfection. One of the few positive experiences I had while attending a youth group was a night where we were allowed to create our own communion cups.

I smoothed out a slab of clay and cut my pieces. The long piece rolled around a circle, not an imaginative way, but a functional way of forming the basic shape. For an hour I worked that clay, ensuring the bottom and sides were one piece instead of two. I used seashells to impress a pattern on the outside and painted the inside a light aqua blue. The outside is still the natural clay color, a light creamy beige, but I rubbed black into the shell marks in that way people use to antique new things. The whole cup has a clear glaze on top, almost glassy.

But communion isn't wine alone. The bread has to go somewhere. I made a saucer that looks more like a sushi plate (who says bread has to go on a bread plate?). The plate is flat on the bottom, a neat square shape with the corners turned up vertically. I pressed seashells into it as well, and darked their impressions. The bottom edges of the upturned corners are deep blue.

We never used wine or wafers for communion: we used grape juice and french bread, and every once in a while, we used Mountain Dew and Oreos. Absolute sacrilege to most people, I'm sure.

I stopped going to that youth group a few months after I made the cup and saucer. I don't believe it has been used since then, certainly not by me anyway. The lesson remains, the experience and memory of creating the cup, of sharing communion with others...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Power of a Touch

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. For all the swooning I seem to do, dressing in corsets and shipping myself back to the Victorian Era seems like a grand idea. Then I realize I couldn't wear blue jeans or write on my blog, and I snap out of my silly daydream.

Few things make me go as weak-in-the-knees as being touched in the small of my back. If I'm walking beside a man and he places his hand in that small, concave area... *swoon* I just love it. It's not a condescending thing, and I don't find it paternalistic, but it's not something a guy is likely to do unless he's comfortable with the girl. And I like it when people (guys) are comfortable around me. :)

I joked to a friend one time that I began dancing so that guys would grope me without me having to ask. LOL, I was absolutely joking (even though I think he took me seriously for as many times as he's mentioned it since). How wrong I was to even think such a thing! The guys I dance with are perfect gentlemen. If ever a hand has slipped or any part of my body compromised, it has been my own fault, and I've had several boys blush and apologize over something as small as accidentally brushing my ribs with their elbows.

Dancing is a close encounter with another human, no matter how you slice it. An elastic grip in a West Coast brings me great joy! But nothing compares to a solid frame for a spectacular waltz. Seems simple enough, but few leads understand how good it feels to rest my shoulder blade into their hand and float above the floor, my feet doin' that dance-y thing they love to do... *swoon*

Or when I'm having a bad day and someone comes along with a hug I didn't even known I needed. Hugs are not prized by many, or at least they rank much lower than kisses and flowers to so many people I know. It doesn't have to be a big, grandiose bear hug, but a short embrace between two people that says, "I understand, and you'll be okay." Sometimes, even a hand on a shoulder will work a miracle.

And then there is a great handshake. My father taught me how to shake hands, one of those lessons he passed on and expects us to live up to no matter what. It's not about how hard you grip or squeeze or bend the other person. And it's certainly not about being the wet noodle in someone else's grasp. I can shake hands with the best of 'em, and I greatly appreciate a firm but gentle handshake in return. Handshakes aren't really swoon-worthy, but they can be a powerful touch.

I don't come from a touchy-feely family. I'm awfully fond of my personal bubble. But I'm not going to bite if you put your arm around me for a hug. I won't break your hand in a handshake. And if you rest your hand on the small of my back while walking me to my car in the evening light, I'll probably even smile.

Friday, June 22, 2007

How do you see me?

It's amazing how much of who we are comes from how we believe others perceive us.

I didn't realize how much that statement held true until I became an adult. I don't even identify as an adult, yet I'm 23, employed, and for all purposes an adult. People expect me to act like an adult. But sometimes, after a long day at work, I break out my Legos on my bedroom floor and scatter little green army men down the hallway in a mock ambush for the next person to arrive home. I am only an adult because you want me to be one, and I want to make you believe what you see is true.

Several times I've been told I am intimidating to others. One of my former bosses said she wouldn't tell me what to do because she was afraid of me. My boss, a fifty-something manager with the power to fire me in an instant, was afraid of a nineteen-year-old college freshman that didn't have a clue what she wanted in life. I have had friends tell me that I can be intimidating. I don't understand. I'm not very big, and I'm far from educated in practical matters... I don't even take myself seriously very often. But if you find me intimidating, I'll run with it.

I had someone tell me once that they thought I did drugs because I always wore long sleeves. So every time I was around that person after he mentioned that, I made sure I looked gaunt and wore long sleeves pulled down to my knuckles, those dark circles under my eyes... eventually he stopped talking to me. I can't say I'm heartbroken. And no, I've never done any illegal drugs, no smoking, and pretty much nothing stronger than Aleve (except when I had my wisdom teeth pulled and spent three glorious days on Percocet).

People assume things about us every day, but they don't bother to tell us what they're thinking.

People have told me they think I'm some arrow-straight type-A personality that never has any fun. You might assume from my clothes that I'm a middle-class spoiled brat. You could see me in my glasses and think I'm a computer nerd, and you could see me dressed up to go dancing and think I actually give a damn how I look. Some of that might be true, but on every level, there is a part of me wishing you'll look past your stereotypes and assumptions and cultural-happy-places.

We have to make a conscious decision to be who we are regardless of how we think others perceive us.

And it's really sad that people don't take the time to just... ask.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why can't I play for you?

I don't understand myself sometimes. Whether fear overcame me, or I froze, or... I mentally stuttered in a moment where any other reaction would have been better. The event is insignificant enough, yet repeating itself on occasion, and I'm mad at myself for it. Grrrrrr.

What is it inside me that halts when I'm asked to play a piano for someone else? I am not terrible. I know chords and scales and music theory, and I have several songs memorized. I can sit and play for hours at home (as long as my back doesn't freak out). I can read music--and I love performing. I grew up on stage, and while I get butterflies, I thrive on that adrenaline.

Last summer, I was at a friend's house. His parents asked if I'd play their piano. No, no, I couldn't. I wasn't attempting to be humble. I wasn't afraid of hitting a wrong key or ten. I did feel like I was being put on the spot, but that happens... in the end, I didn't play for them. I don't regret that decision, but I would have liked to have brought some music into their lives.

Late last week, I was in a similar situation. A friend encouraged me to play his piano. My mind...just...froze. I couldn't think of any music, couldn't remember where songs start on the keyboard. Hell, I doubt I could have pulled off a simple chord progression. I don't know why I do this, and it makes me mad.

Perhaps I hesitate because each piano is different, and getting a feel for a piano doesn't always sound good. I'm not a brilliant musician ("okay" would be a perfect word to describe my talent). Perhaps I don't want others to hear my first attempt at a song. At home, I have the option of plugging in headphones to our digital piano and playing songs however I fancy, with wrong notes and missed notes and poor rhythm, and no one hears the music. Sometimes, I couldn't care less about the music: my love is only for the instrument.

I don't understand me. I don't understand why I have a problem playing a piano for someone else. The piano was my first passion, my first goal. I don't know how many times I've mentioned my love for performing on my bloggy. What happened between high school and this last year that turned me inside out? What can I do to open up and play for others now?

I don't know, but I have a feeling there will be a piano involved, and somewhere in the middle of a piano, I'm sure I'm going to have some sort of spiritual awakening. And that scares me just a little bit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pardon the Randomness

The pollen is kicking up something awful here on the east side of the valley. Clouds of grass pollen float about ten feet above the fields, and some of that blows over Lebanon. I didn't develop seasonal allergies until I turned twenty or so, and this year has been interesting. I was perfectly fine all morning and through lunch. Around 2pm, the sneezing started, and I teared up. Finally, I resorted to my old friend, Mr. Benadryl Allergy. RELIEF! and a groggy feeling that hit really hard about halfway through my drive home. Now I'm back at home, my sinuses are clearing, and I'm feeling a ton better.

Good news: dancing will resume next week after a two-week break! I am dying to get back on the dance floor and spend time with people my own age. I'm not an ageist person (as I've said and meant a thousand times), but I'm realizing how hard it is to be around people who have no concept of my generation. Sometimes, I just need to see someone that understands me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sports are SO not my thing

People spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on sporting equipment and game tickets. They watch and rewatch matches, place bets, and shout themselves hoarse about a contest.

I don't get it. I do not understand why people are drawn to watching or playing sports. My parents urged my sister and me to participate in organized sports growing up, although our lack of athleticism usually got us laughed off our teams... we both played basketball, and I played softball one year. Even though I never lost a game while on any team, I didn't have many positive experiences.

The whole idea of some sports makes zero sense to me. Take a look at basketball, baseball, golf, or swimming (I'd pick on soccer, but I'm afraid too many people would want to kill me):

Basketball: Five people on one team try to get the ball in one hoop more times than the other five people on the other team get the ball into their hoop. Halfway through the game, the teams switch hoops. And the people don't walk between hoops carrying the ball, oh no. They have to run and dribble the basketball at the same time. The physical act of putting a ball into a hoop isn't necessary for survival. Bouncing a ball also has no use in any other activity we encounter. And watching this game... it's back and forth, back and forth... for two hours.

Baseball: Get this, if you're the batter, someone is going to try to throw a ball close to you without actually hitting you a few times, and if you're lucky, you can try to use the skinny stick in your hands to hit the ball as hard as you can. Then, it's your job to run as fast as you can to these other three little white bags in a huge circle before the other team can hit you with the ball or get the ball to a bag before you get there. If the other team touches you with the ball, you're out. If they do this to the batter after you, that person is out. There are three outs to an inning per team, and nine innings. Throw the ball, hit the ball, run around in a circle, let the other team try it... zzzzzzzzzzz.

Golf: Okay, you're playing by yourself this time. You get this tiny ball and a bent stick. Your goal is to smack the ball as hard as you can in a relatively straight line in the attempt to get the ball into a little tiny hole in the ground a few hundred yards away with water, sand, grass, bushes, and trees in the way. Easy, right? HA! You get to do this eighteen times! (Yes, I've heard Robin Williams, so don't send me any links to his hilarity.) I've played golf, and I still don't understand the draw to this sport.

Swimming: it's a survival skill, not a sport. Get over it.

I have nothing against people with the physical skills to do these sports, and some sports actually have merit. Track and field events bore me to no end, but I do believe these events are truly sports. I love watching martial arts and gymnastics. The human body is a miraculous thing, and these two sports highlight how powerful a body can be when conditioned.

Sports are not my thing. I don't often watch sports on TV, and I don't like going to events. Perhaps it's my uncompetitive nature or some wiring gone wrong... I don't know.

Quick, get me a giant bucket of Gatorade for me to throw on someone!!!

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Cousin, My Hero

An ordinary guy trying to make his way in the world. He had just figured out what he wanted to do with his twenty-three-year-old life when he was assaulted by a man late one night. He knew the man through work, and he'd gone to the man's house to reclaim some property (kindly, not a hostile act) when the man attacked him. Matthew doesn't remember anything after the first punch. The attacker, a trained martial artist, beat my cousin's head into the ground until it squished and he bled out six pints of blood . When the paramedics arrived on the scene several hours later (a long series of miracles alerted the right people), my cousin was literally on his last breath.

Matthew was immediately transported to OHSU where he spent two weeks in a coma with the left part of his skill removed so that his brain could expand unhindered. He spent three and a half months in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility before having his skull returned. He lost his sense of smell entirely. And my cousin has a scar that runs from his forehead to his neck across the top of his skull.

I think people are afraid of him at first, not knowing what to make of his scar. He keeps his hair very short, buzzed almost to the scalp. I'm sure some people wish he'd cover it... they think it's inappropriate or something and stare. He wears hats sometimes, though not at more formal events. After surviving such an assault, I think he has every right to be proud of his scar.

In the year and a half since the attack, my cousin has overcome some incredible physical challenges, and he has an amazing spirit. Matthew is not my hero because he learned how to walk again. He's not my hero because he went wakeboarding less than a year afterward even though doctors told him he'd never do that again. He's not my hero because he's getting his life back together after losing everything he'd been working toward and fought so hard to achieve. Don't get me wrong, those are astounding things to have overcome!

But that Matthew had it within him to never despair over his situation and the time he lost in his life due to the assault makes him my hero. He never gave up. In fact, a recent addition to his body was an eighteen inch tattoo down his flank saying, "Never Despair." That has to be one of the most spectacular pieces of ink I've had the honor to see. He's also my hero because he forgave his attacker and negotiated a sentence of five years in prison, far less than the guy would have received for attempted murder.

I don't have many heroes. I don't idolize others, though I may see the good in people and try to incorporate those good parts into my own life. One of the mantras I use to keep myself going when I feel I've reached my end is "never give up." My cousin didn't, and for that, he is my hero.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Thank you, Matthew, for allowing me to tell your story, for reviewing it and providing your input.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dear Jeff

To a great friend on this, your graduation day:

While no words will ever quite summarize how incredibly lucky I feel to have you in my life, to have had these last three years as your friend, I'm going to try to get them out.

Do you remember our first date? It seems like ages ago that we sat together watching movies until the early morning, inches apart, yet both too scared to make a move. The girls found us sitting there while the DVD player's screensaver floated on the TV screen. I wasn't scared because I was afraid you'd push me away, but because I knew you were someone special, and I didn't want to screw anything up.

You were the first person I allowed close to my heart. No matter how stupid I sounded or how dorky and clumsy I acted, you saw through and loved me regardless of those flaws. You never laughed at me, only with me, encouraging me with your smile, and making me laugh at myself too.

I know our relationship didn't work out in the end, but I know I'm thankful that it happened. I'm thankful for every moment I've had with you, for the adventures and lunches, for the crazy nights you rescued me from my roommates, and for the thousands of hugs. Without a doubt, you give the best hugs a person could ask for.

Today, as you celebrate the end of school, the end of two decades of learning, please know that I'm with you. When, in the next couple weeks, you move away and begin a new life up north, know that I'm forever thinking two things: first, please don't blow the nuclear reactor up... that's not a good way to start your career. And second, how much I'm going to miss having you here with me.

It is my greatest honor to have you as a friend. Jeff, I'm so proud of you, today and always.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chronically Dehydrated

I wish I could describe to you the headache I've had today. At first, I thought it was a caffeine withdrawal headache, but it didn't ever hit as hard as those usually do. I thought it was from sitting in a warm car for a long time, but fresh air didn't seem to help me. A friend clued me in tonight (in his typical condescending way) that I'm probably dehydrated again.

Even though I've studied human physiology in detail, and I know how important water is to my survival and general well-being, I don't drink it much. A gallon of water might last me two weeks at times. My day-long hikes rarely involve more than half a liter of water. I even had a camping trip just after high school where I subsisted on a liter of water and four slices of bread (a trip which included hiking Iron Mountain and other adventures).

The fact that I've consumed a single glass of water in the hopes of dashing away this headache astounds me. I know it's not even close to being enough to help, but I feel heavy and weighed down already. The water is making me tired.

I keep telling myself that I'll commit to drinking more water, especially before dancing and hiking. Ten minutes later, I'll forget. Then, when I'm in the middle of a fast Lindy or one of those ridiculously slow and almost painful waltzes, I'll remember how much I need water. But, instead of getting water, I'll wander outside for fresh air, then go back in and dance through the night.

Seems easy, right? Just drink more water. I don't know why I don't! People are constantly reminding me to drink more, but it goes in one ear and out the other. Their words, not the water.

Ugh, my head!!! I'm never letting this happen again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Eyes DO Change Color

I've been mulling over a blog post about my eyes. Don't run away yet, I know you're already bored. How could my eyes possibly be blog-worthy, you ask? Well, they're... they... um... they're GREEN. Not like a pale pea-soup green, but a crazed-leprechaun-on-astroturf-GREEN.

Okay, they're only intensely green half of the time due to my green contacts. The contacts are a complement to my sometimes reddish hair. Most people think colored contacts have a clear center so that the wearer can see through the lens. My contacts are transparent green all the way across the lens, so I look through a green filter. Everything I see is tinted slightly green. It's pretty weird to get used to, and those green exit signs are obnoxious through green lenses, but the stares and comments I get in stores and restaurants are worth it. "Is that your natural eye color?" people ask me. I suppose I could lie or retort with a smart one-liner, but I've always been honest. The green contacts are a lot of fun to wear (plus they keep me from running into as many walls, parked cars, etc.).

The other half of the time I wear clear, plain, normal contacts. They don't seem as exciting. I've always identified with green-eyed people, and my natural honey-yellow color doesn't do anything for me. I have a hard time wearing make-up to accent the light hues and not make my dark hair look fake. And not surprisingly, I have never been the type of girl to pick up magazines for tips and tricks to bring out my natural eye color. When it comes to fashion and making myself look pretty, I'm anything but an expert.

But recently, I've been experimenting with eye shadows and eye liner and matching them to that honey-yellow eye color. I should probably turn in my boobs or something when I say I didn't know what eye liner was until last year... but they're attached... and that might hurt. Anyway, I've been playing around and found something I thought worked really well. I have enjoyed my natural eye color more lately than my green contacts (yay!).

Today, after my friends left me for better pursuits, I was sitting in Kelley Engineering Center listening to an 8-year-old girl play the piano. She was a bit awkward on the difficult songs, but she's already a better pianist than I'll ever be. Her mother was sitting there encouraging her in Chinese. The girl suddenly stopped playing and looked at me. She had this look of great surprise and elation, and to be quiet honest, it kinda freaked me out. She unabashedly came close to my face. She gestured to her mother, and in broken English said to me, "You have pretty eyes. Light, not dark like mine." I smiled and thanked her. How sweet!

It felt so good to hear something nice said about me. Friends assume they don't have to say anything, and family is always the first to point out something wrong. I'm not mad or anything that people don't pay me compliments or tell me I'm pretty--I'd internally disagree with them anyway. That little girl really made me smile.

Then, later, I was talking with Mom, telling her about my fruity adventure this afternoon (my virgin Jamba Juice experience), when she interrupted me in mid-sentence to say, "I don't like your eye make-up. Your eyes look weird, and you look stupid."

Talk about a mood killer. Thanks, Mom.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ask the Wall

I'm sitting at my desk, my fingers on the keyboard which sits on my lap, my legs propped up onto the bed. Any physical therapist would cringe at my posture. But I'm comfortable.

I just can't think of anything to blog about tonight. Rather, I don't have the energy to flesh out a great memory or expound on my delightful day. It is all I can do tonight to get a glass of water down... let alone be creative.

I'm not even looking at the monitor as I type. My eyes have mostly glazed over, staring off into the distance between my body and the wall opposite me. For some reason, the thoughts and colors in my head look more vivid against the stark white wall's semi-gloss bumps. The wall has a bulletin board on it. It keeps distracting me. I've tacked up some of my favorite comics, a few mementos, and some ribbons I've won in science fairs and other goofy contests. I hung my varsity letter from high school up, and my three graduation tassels (two for high school, one for college) slowly amass dust. I see a name badge from my student teaching days, a few keychains that indicate some of my passions, a note from Emily telling me to have faith and courage, and some ticket stubs from a Broadway play, a national forest, and the state fair. I have put up some wrist bands from various dances I've attended that meant something special as well. It's not a big bulletin board, maybe 18"x24". Somewhere in all that jumble of thumbtacks, I see a window between the person I once was and the person I've become.

It's not an exciting wall. I don't even know why I'm telling you about it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Had a Bad Day

I have this phrase I use when things get stressful in my life, a phrase that reminds me that things could always get worse. When I feel like I'm about to overreact, I tell myself, "If this is the worst thing that happens to you today, it'll be okay."

Today was a bad day.

My boss doesn't believe I'm showing enough enthusiasm in my work. She thinks I pick through the filing and only do what parts I want to do, and she still has an issue with how I answer the telephone. In truth, I sort through the filing to put it in like-kind piles, then I file each kind where they go. And until someone tells me what I'm doing incorrectly answering a telephone, I won't know what to fix. I didn't know there was a problem. Perhaps it comes as a shock to some of you, but I'm not a mind reader.

So the lecture continued until well past 5pm. I was forced to drive home in the mass of cars emptying out of Corvallis so late, and as soon as I got home, I was hit with a message from my grandma wanting to be taken to Urgent Care. Dad worked late, so I offered to take her.

We had an adventure, to put it mildly. I did get to watch a CT scan--that was AWESOME! for this science geek. I saw grandma's innards, her bones and organs... very cool. :)

In the end, she isn't doing too badly, or at least better than we expected. My day totally sucked, and I'm exhausted and dehydrated.

But at least I got to see some guts.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Best College Classes

Yesterday's list was about the worst classes I took in college. Today, the great classes. :)

Far and away the best class I jumped into in college was English 495: Language, Technology, and Culture. This class taught me to be a better writer, a better reader, and introduced me to blogging. I was a science geek, and an undergrad, and on a whim, I tossed myself into this mostly graduate-level English class. The class had all sorts of different students in it, and we each brought something very special to the class--and even more, we recognized that in each other. I made friends in there. Not just classmates, but people I actually stop and talk to, people I remember things about, people I inquire about and keep up with. Oh, and the professor was incredible! She challenged us, pushed us to get things out in words, and allowed us independence in our writing. I haven't felt more at home in any other class. ENG495 was just... special.

BI301: Human Impacts on Ecosystems made me *think* about the world around me. I remember a great deal from the class, and I've applied much of the lessons to my life. Crop rotation, pesticide use, better farming practices... I'm not a farmer, but I learned many things that I can take to my own garden. This class should be required for graduation.

History 201, 202, and 203, US History. I am not a fan of history unless it's about my own country. Yeah, yeah, I know, you hate it. But the subject matter wasn't as important as how the professor explained it. He went through history as a cause and effect story. Few big names, no specific dates... more like Theme A caused Theme B, which resulted in Event C and with Person D killing Person E, Theme F began. Every lecture was an adventure. I didn't study for most of my classes, but I know I studied days for my history classes.

Pharmacy 210: Health Science Terminology. Sounds boring, right? It was boring. The whole curriculum was memorizing some insane number of Latin terms. Memorize and regurgitate, memorize and regurgitate. But because I'd taken Anatomy and Physiology and Genetics in high school, and because I remember stupid facts forever, I did very well memorizing the Latin. AND all that Latin paid off with my science classes. I pick up on stuff most people wouldn't care to know.

English 323: English Composition. I took this instead of Communications (apparently I had the only degree without that being required). ENG323 taught me to show a story instead of telling it. I grew miles with my voice through this class, and I figured out how to be honest without sounding like a cliché. My blog voice emerged here, solidified here.

More than anything else, the one thing these classes all have in common is a knowledgeable, passionate, challenging professor. These classes could have been terrible, but they helped me more than any others. I learned about the kind of teacher I want to be. I learned a lot about hard work, long papers, late nights, cramming for tests...

...and I became a blogger.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Worst College Classes

I graduated from college one year ago. This last year has been the longest break from homework in my life, and yet I seem to have written so much more here than on any papers for class. Not every class I took in college was useful. Some classes bored me to no end. A few, though, lit fires in my soul and taught lessons I won't soon forget.

The Worst of the Worst:

English 106: Introduction to Poetry. I won't name the professor, but he was absolutely terrible. Poetry, to me, is about personal interpretation, not simply believing what the professor wants me to believe. Also, it should not take six weeks to cover what 'iambic pentameter' is, sheesh!

Physics 332: Light, Vision, and Color. I keep forgetting that I did take a physics class along with all the biology and chemistry. I looked forward to PH332 for two years, and I actually grasped most of the concepts in the class. The lab portion rocked! But when the professor took five points off my final essay for my using a proper noun in place of a pronoun, oh I lost it. And when I went to speak with him about the missing points and called him "Doctor ____" instead of using his first name, he took five more points off. After the dust settled, I walked away from the class thankful that it wasn't required for graduation.

Art 101: Introduction to Art. Sounds pretty easy right, Art 101? I took seven art classes in high school, and I have a healthy appreciation for many artists. I know the Elements and Principles of Design. Emily and I took this class together, and we both struggled in it. I can memorize anything, and she studied her butt off... we both took a hit in this class, and I can't remember any of it now. Useless, difficult class.

Z345: Introduction to Evolution. Emily and I took this class together too, and we refer to it as the "robust" class. Every day, Emily would tally across the top of her notes how many times the professor said, "um," "okay," "yeah," "robust," and a few other funny sayings. If the lecture was condensed without all the filler words, it'd take about ten minutes to say. I finally stopped going because I got bored and wasn't learning anything new.

ED219: Multicultural Issues in Education. This class was awful! The whole term, the teacher made a point of telling us that, simply because most of us are Caucasian, we were automatically racist. No matter what we said, he kept calling us racist. Hey, I've got an idea: instead of telling us that you know what we are, how about allowing us to discover our own biases and grow from them? Talk about an idiot. I think I'm more biased now than I was before the class.

The math department and I shared words more than once about MTH251 professors. I took MTH251: Differential Calculus twice, and I did understand the material the second time around. My problem wasn't as much with the coursework and subject as with the professors. The first guy was so bad that 80% of the class left by the end of the term. He'd put a problem on the board, scribble some incoherent smudge, and explain it, "so after you do all the algebra, it looks like the answer is... three." He never explained the algebra, didn't bother telling us his reasoning. The second term, I had a female professor. She was nice enough, and her lectures were good. My problem was with her grading. She didn't care about homework: the term's grades were based on your lowest test score. If you got A's on everything else but a C on the midterm, your grade wouldn't be higher than a C. I know that I test poorly. Yes, the math department and I shared words...

But not all was lost for me in the math department. I finished with MTH390, upper division no less. And I still love math. Wish I could say the same for stupid poetry professors or "robust" evolution professors.

What were the good classes? Tune in tomorrow...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Leopard Etching

I intended to write today, to blog out a bunch of important things. For some reason, the words were not coming up. I grew frustrated and sought other forms of solitary emotional release today. Few things ground me and allow me to open up as much as being creative.

The pastor of the youth group I attended my senior year in high school once told me that I had a gift for "art prayer." He somehow understood that my connection to the world around me is through creating and experiencing it with my hands. When I'm working on an art project, be it origami or painting or stained glass or any of the other multitude of crafts I've tried, I'm constantly engaged in thought. Creating is my self-prescribed therapy when I'm down and my release when I'm joyful.

The etching of the leopard took several months, mostly because I worked really hard in it one day and didn't remember it until a few weeks ago. The package contained one black slate, one carving tool, and some basic instructions. I did have a pattern (that you should be able to see if you click on the picture - I'm bad at staying inside the lines).

I didn't intend for this blog to be a "craft blog," but because creating is integral to my sanity, I will occasionally share some of the cool stuff I do.

One other thing that brought me great pleasure today was sitting down at my piano with some new sheet music, the musical score from the Broadway play Rent. The music is unusual, and I can actually play some of it already. Not often do I find music that my fingers wrap around the first week (or year). I've despaired over my piano skills for several months, and new music seems to have re-sparked my oldest love.

My question now is, "now what do I do?!" *looks out window* Hehehe, I'm going to go jump in the puddles.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Such a Kid...

Somewhere inside me, there is an adult hiding. The adult part of me accomplished a good amount today at work while multi-tasking with some serious thinking. But then, tonight for dinner, the adult part of me stood there in horror as the kid in me finished off a Reese's peanut butter cup pie that my father made last weekend. Yup, chocolate pie for dinner.

The kid in me has come out to play tonight, yes indeed! I was listening to Raffi when I started this post. Most people older than me don't know who Raffi is, and for some reason, few kids much younger than me know who he is either. He was popular in the mid-80s, a children's songwriter and entertainer. "Baby Beluga," "Down By the Bay," and "Bananaphone" are some of his more memorable songs to me... and "Shake Your Sillies Out!" Can't forget about that one, no way.

I've had a serious, difficult week. I have a ton of writing to do, some personal reflection and growth to accomplish this weekend. In the middle of all of this serious adult-y stuff, I'm sitting here, curled up like I am so often, my bowl of ice cream (yes, even after pie) and blanket not too far away. One of the things I love best about myself as an adult is that I rarely have a problem realizing how lucky I am. In the thick of life, I'm still finding ways to smile.

Well, it's all fun and games until I come off this sugar high... lol.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm not "That Geek"

It came out of nowhere, a lightning bolt to my psyche. The speaker was pointing, saying my name aloud, referencing my soul. "This girl, here, she looks like a geek." *Mental double-take.* WTF?! I look like a what? Did that woman just call me a geek?

Yesterday, I spent my work day in Salem at a seminar to learn how to answer a telephone and manage a front desk. The seminar itself wasn't terribly helpful to my line of work, and I found myself disinterested much of the day. Furthermore, I was mentally somewhere distant. Toward the afternoon, we were discussing computer security. The speaker paused for a moment, looked around, and then pointed directly at me. She used my name so that everyone in the room couldn't possibly forget it, and she said that I looked like a geek. I smiled politely, nodded, and simply looked down at my workbook. Nevermind that the guy two chairs down was wearing a Linux t-shirt and had a Firefox messenger bag. I didn't feel out of place in my jeans and logo-free fleece pull-over. I wasn't doodling or acting my nerdy self. I hadn't spoken out or asked any questions. Wherever the speaker got the impression I am geeky, I have no clue.

People get that impression from me entirely too often. I don't understand it. I've changed my look, changed my body shape, and I wear different clothes. Lost my glasses in favor of contacts in high school... and I have a fairly athletic body from all that sweet swing dancing I love. What gives me away? What about me says to people, "this girl not only reads blogs, but writes one as well"?

I don't have a problem telling people I'm a geek. I wholly embrace my geekiness, but I don't really want people to think of me as "That Geek."

My poor psyche is just about destroyed this week, and the speaker didn't help things.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Do I Have the Courage?

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning my desk drawers out when I ran across some writing I had poured forth when I was a young girl. The handwriting looked different, and the word choice was poor, but the message and themes were exactly the same. I am ashamed that my personal growth has not been more complete in the transition to adulthood. Unwilling to go through this again, I've found myself at a crossroads: either I can silently suffer and move on with my life like always, or I can unearth the massive fossil of emotion and let it go. This blog is a place for me to explore my thoughts and feelings, and I don't write for any one audience. The thing holding me back is that I've not spoken about the subject before, and I'm not sure I want to unearth it. This issue is perhaps too intense for one post or a series of short posts, so convoluted and deeply woven into my being that explaining it brings injustice to the other parts of me.

Know that this post comes with a loud sigh as I dig deep into the Memory Warehouse, pulling out the good and the bad. I wish I had some uplifting post tonight, but I don't. I'm looking for some courage.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More Photos from the OSU Campus









Women's Building Veranda:
a favorite place to wait with a book, or a cozy place for fresh air during long, hot dances.














"Mix and Match"
Door handles inside the Women's Building, northwest end

















"Up or Down?"
Ramps inside the Women's Building
(also, a pain to walk down in dance heels)













Strand Agriculture Hall
(my first campus job was in this building, and the building is one of my favorites)









Milam Hall

















Batcheller Hall














"The Bricks," a popular spot for vendors and tent villages during fairs, along the east side of the MU Quad

Monday, June 04, 2007

New Merrells + Rain = Happy Jaggy!

I am using a keyboard that is so slow, I have to type ten or fifteen letters and then wait until the cursor catches up to what I'm thinking with my fingers. Yes, that's right, I'm blogging to you LIVE! from the OSU campus. Today wasn't much different from any other Monday. I worked hard, laughed with coworkers, and tried to get as much done as I could. After work, I had some time to kill. Time is the enemy sometimes, as is a paycheck so recently. I enjoy the money I make, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I need to learn to just say no. I wandered downtown and spied a pair of shoes I couldn't live without. The good news is that I bought a pair of shoes that not only look great, they fit perfectly. The bad news is that these Merrells cost me $80. I've worn half a dozen pairs now, and I know that Merrell shoes rarely go on sale, maybe once every two years. If one is incredibly lucky, one can find a steal at Cabela's Bargain Cave, but the odds of finding a size 9 there at a good price is next to impossible. So I went for it. Tossing caution, vanity, and eating out for the next month to the side.

And I'm okay with that. Because I don't really need to eat lunch anyway. :)

Now, the sun has poked through the glorious clouds I've so missed this last week. I fortuitously have my camera close at hand, and I'm going to wander around for a bit before dancing late into the night.

Can you tell the rain puts me in a better mood? Yes indeed.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm not a model

I keep swearing the show off, and every time it's on, I seem to have nothing better to do, so I watch. Ever want your self-confidence destroyed? Watch America's Next Top Model. I'm an intelligent, goofy, likable woman, and I'm not in terrible shape... why do I pick every single flaw of mine apart after I watch the show? I'm not a model. I don't secretly desire to be a model. I'm certainly not into fashion and makeup and being a diva (unless a blog diva counts, lol).

The girls are so thin... I remember being model thin, and all I wanted to do was hide myself. While both a curse and a blessing, I do have curves. I'm shorter than they are. I have worse hair. I have lanky arms and wide hips and freckles all over my face.

Oh, yeah, that bothers me too. You ever see a model with freckles? No. And do you know how hard it is to wear make-up when you have freckles? Huge pain. But I LOVE my freckles, regardless of make-up trials.

So after watching the show for, um, *cough* hours, I ventured out to take my grandmother some fresh strawberries that we picked yesterday. Grandma updated me on the latest gossip at her retirement facility (where I worked my way through college), and I described all of my dancing adventures and boy woes to her. I learned a bit more about Grandpa that I didn't know--he died when I was 12, so I didn't get to know him as an adult.

I visited with a few of the other older women at the facility. Being around them, listening to their stories... it puts life back in perspective. I hear about life and death, and everything else melts away. Right now, I couldn't care less about what I'm wearing to go dancing tomorrow night. My life isn't going to be consumed with the latest trends or fancy hairstyles. A big heart, a careful ear, and a thoughtful personality will get me where I want to go.

This afternoon, I wanted adventure, but adventure was not what I needed most. Sometimes, when you least expect it, you realize that what you need is already in front of you.

Depression Confession

I had a fantastic post planned today, a whole pile of drivel for you to read. But now that it's written, I realize how fake it all is. In my effort toward making this blog as honest as possible, I either run out of new things to say, or I post the senselessness rattling around in my brain bucket. Today, you get some history and a whole lot of honesty.

I was a confident, independent girl, always out to be the best. I had the highest grades and stood out in every way possible through grade and middle school. When I hit high school, I didn't really know where to go, which group to be a part of. I joined the band, met a guy that I thought rocked my world, and proceeded to lose just about every friend I had. The guy was a senior, three years older than I, and controlling. Lost, alone, and unaware of my place in school, I looked to him to tell me things. We dated about six months, and he essentially told me where to go and what to do. I could only eat lunch with him. I had to call every day after school. He told me he loved me, and as much as I wanted that to be true, I didn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. One time, I saw him get frustrated with a girl. He grabbed her by the shoulders and started shaking her. His temper was shorter than any I've seen before or since. I still dated him, a few more weeks, I think, until we were hanging out at a school function one night. He pulled me out into the hallway, pinned me to a wall, and tried to do God knows what with me. I freed myself, and promptly "Dear John"-ed him: I haven't spoken to him since.

That six month period, combined with a pile of teenage angst, spun me into a depression. I disengaged from any sort of a social life. I didn't have another boyfriend until I was in college. With one exception, I don't remember my sophomore year of high school. I don't remember ever feeling suicidal, but I was very, very depressed. Every smile was forced. It was a dark time. Thankfully, I had (still have, really) a few amazing friends that didn't give up on me, and my last two years of high school are wonderful memories.

I've both struggled with and enjoyed different moments of depression in my life. I've stopped running away from problems, preferring to deal immediately if I can. College taught me to rely on myself more than ever. And my faith has grown in more ways that I could have imagined.

I don't have a final thought to end this post. Life continues, depressed or not, and I'm still trying to hold on. Can't be better than I am.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Why do I do it?

You love me one day and
push me away the next:
I'm confused whether or not
your way is the best.

You're forever looking down
on the person you've wanted me to become,
shaping me by your love
and telling me I can be the one.

I keep running back, coming back,
finding myself in your eyes,
running back, coming back,
realizing all the lies.

A kind word makes me smile for days
and one dark word destroys me.
For all the wrongs you've done,
For all the tears I've breathed.

I keep running back, coming back.

You're behind every thought,
a light in my dreams,
the support I always need
and sometimes believe.

The answer to a prayer
and a cruel joke to stop my pleas,
why do you throw me away
when I still have more to say...

I keep running back, coming back,
finding myself in your eyes,
running back, coming back,
realizing all the lies.

I keep running back, coming back to you.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Running Off at the Mouth

Ever feel like you need a mute button on yourself? I do. My "no more talking" feature must not have been included in the packaging when I was made.

I've been hanging out with some different people lately, a nice and welcome change to solitude. Of course, I'm still close with my good friends, but a change of pace can be inspiring too. Unfortunately, I'm still a social freak, and I wonder if my true personality shines through the dorky comments and off-beat randomness.

Even worse, I'm really a quiet person. I'm not loud or obnoxious very often. But sometimes... my mouth... doesn't know when to stop. And the questions I ask drive even me nuts, so I know they're causing everyone else anguish.

I'm contemplative, reserved, funny, and really sweet. And I'm frustrated with myself that those pieces of me are so often covered up by the brash, weird, dorky girl exploding with my voice and mannerisms.

This post won't stay at the top of my blog forever, but part of me thinks I ought to come with such a disclaimer. I'm really not a freak. Second chance? Third chance? grrrrrrrr

At least no one can say I'm normal or boring. So there.