Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stress-Induced Unhappiness

Apparently I don't react well to high levels of stress. My body has been going wonky this week as my search for an apartment escalates. My parents are breathing down my neck, hourly at times, with their questions, suggestions, and mandates. I tried talking to a friend, but he (as usual) berated me and only made me feel worse.

Last night, my stress got the best of me. I was with a friend, looking to drive home in the later evening, when WHOOSH! my blood decided it didn't want to be in my head anymore. I was dizzy, slightly disoriented, and shaky all at once. How I made it home in that 1/2 hour drive, I have no idea. I don't even remember it.

Today at work, I got a call from some property owners saying they had a 4th floor apartment open up in my 1st choice complex. I immediately phoned my mom, explaining the situation. She suggested I wait on a lower apartment ("You make your own decision" translated roughly to "4th floor, are you kidding?!?"). I can't believe I turned an apartment down.

The afternoon was terrible. The stress is triggering cluster headaches (again), a second set in under six months. So on top of feeling like crap, being generally dizzy, and having to look busy at work, my head feels like someone's setting off grenades under my skull. Yay.

My one act of stress relief was dancing tonight. I actually found myself grinning! I don't know how I held on or stayed upright, but one of the best dancers I've had the privilege to dance with asked me to Viennese Waltz. It was... wow. Left me breathless, that's for sure. As icky as I felt today, I had two short hours of happiness.

Then I got home. I tried to tell my parents about dancing and having so much fun, but they seemed to be engrossed in their TV show, so I stopped short. They did have time to ask more questions than necessary about my apartment hunting today... just enough to make me feel really bad again.

Sometimes I have trouble finding a reason to keep moving forward. *cradles head in hands*

I gotta get me some of THAT!

This story might be more funny if you knew my uncle. He's a smart person. He has some college under his belt, and he's a successful man with a good amount of common sense. My uncle is a guy's guy, a true outdoorsman, and, like most guys, sometimes... sometimes things don't go exactly as he plans.

A few years ago (or more, it's been a while), my uncle went hunting. He purchased all of his supplies and made it out to his campsite in good time. He set up camp, dug his latrine, and got to the business of hunting. A few days went by, and he wasn't feeling so good. He developed a bit of a rash and some itching and stinging in some pretty uncomfortable places. He also wasn't seeing much game. Unwilling to leave early, he stuck it out until his woodsy vacation ended. Poor guy.

The next year, my uncle wanted to go hunting again. He was shopping with my aunt this time, wandering through the store looking for supplies. He really liked the latrine paper he'd used the previous year and wanted to buy it again. He told my aunt, "I can't find that toilet paper anywhere on this aisle. It came in a box that had a bear on it." My aunt couldn't find it either. They looked and looked, every shelf, behind every box and roll... nothing. They finished up his hunting supplies list, and my aunt remembered she needed a few things. She was reaching for some laundry detergent when, suddenly, my usually quiet uncle shouted, "There it is! That's the stuff I was looking for!" My aunt's jaw dropped. "Hon, that's not toilet paper. Those are dryer sheets."

I bet the deer smelled him coming from miles.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Metal Mouth

They caused headaches, pain, and sores unlike anything I've had done to me before or since. Braces were pure torture, and they were also a lot of fun. I was in orthodontia of some form or another from 5th grade through 12th grade, and I wore proper braces about four years, between 8th and 12th grades. I had appliances ranging from a P-bar to headgear to those evil little rubber bands. I had chains, wires, and glue in so many parts of my mouth, I couldn't talk sometimes.

Was it worth it? Short answer, yes. But I learned a few important lessons along the way:

1. No matter how cool you think it looks or how much fun you might have with a 9-volt battery while wearing it, headgear is not fun. It is incredibly painful, and it is a nightmare to sleep in (one can take drooling to a whole new level while sleeping in headgear, let me tell ya!).

2. Rubber bands are useful for many purposes: hair ties, weapons, plumbing repairs... but I've never found them comfortable or useful for anything inside the mouth.

3. When given an opportunity to pick your colors out, remember two things: the lighter the colors are, the more spaghetti sauce will stain them; the brighter and more varied the colors are, the more you'll look like a clown.

4. If you take your painkiller of choice before you go to the Evil Man to have your mouth pulled sixteen ways at once, and then again immediately afterward, you can avoid a decent amount of pain.

5. Before you leave the office, run your tongue over every tiny bit of your mouth, especially where the wires stick out in the back. If anything is poking, it won't magically correct itself. Get it fixed asap.

6. Lipstick and braces do not mix. Trust me.

7. The more you love your braces, the more people will notice your smile. I enjoyed having them on (the pain lessened that last year a lot), and I liked my smile while wearing them. Losing braces was traumatic, and experiencing smooth teeth again was sooooo weird.

8. Candle wax is not an acceptable substitution for orthodontic wax. Don't even try it.

9. I've never met anyone who had a "permanent" retainer stay in place.

10. They work. They hurt, but they are worth it. :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It seems like I spend my summers searching for things.

Apartment hunting is not going as easily as I'd hoped. Three years ago, when I was looking to move out (the first time) into a house with my girls, three of us were scouring newspapers and ads, and we had very specific needs, so the hunt was much easier. Plus, the market was wider as we were looking for a house. All those things we didn't think about (having a garage, having a great landlord, having to do yard work, not having people living over or under us) are the things I'm thinking more about now. I'd prefer a duplex, but I am not going to limit my search to those.

It has been about a week since I posted on the latest in my life... my exciting and banal life. :)

Monday and Thursday nights were probably the highest points: Monday night watching a movie and having dinner with a friend; Thursday night with my sister, two girls tromping through the forest with cameras.

Tuesday night would have been better, because dancing is almost always a great time, but either the air was too thick or my shirt was too tight or something, because I could hardly breathe. The first hour was fantastic! One of my favorite leads smiled throughout our slower songs - dancing with him is a joy, because we both move so fluidly together. The second hour found me sitting out more than dancing. I did have a few good conversations with some nice guys, and I'm hopeful that this coming week will yield some better dancing.

Friday night... was trying. Mom and I went out to dinner in Albany, then we drove all over Corvallis looking at apartments. Since nobody shows apartments outside of M-F/8-5, we didn't get to go inside any buildings, but we narrowed down the list of places (rather, my parents are "suggesting" places I ought not live). I'm having a difficult time allowing them to help me make these decisions, but I also know that these are likely some of the last major decisions they'll be willing to help me make. I just have to say... *I'M* deciding which drawer the flatware goes in, okay?

Saturday was less trying, at least. I worked on my piano for a bit, writing a song (giving it one more go, because I know there's a songwriter lurking underneath my crazy writing skills), and getting the melody fixed. It will be a long time before that composition hits the airwaves, oy vey!

I really wanted to go dancing last night, but nobody wanted to go up to Sunnyside with me, so I ended up in Albany with my parents again. We went out to dinner, and afterward, Mom and I rented Zodiac. Nothing like a movie about a serial killer to brighten my evening... not! Mom fell asleep, so I essentially watched it by myself. In a dark house. That makes weird noises.

This morning has been amazing, and I can only hope the day continues in an upswing. I talked to two good friends about my most recent troubles, and they both gave me good advice. My day will include some crafting, and I hope to get my car washed before it gets too warm outside... and then, maybe I'll make cookies. I keep saying I'm going to make cookies, but it might just happen today: I have a huge craving for my own strawberry shortbread cookies.

I totally have an urge to learn how to play some video games. LOL, I'm so weird!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

McDowell Creek Park III






On a warm summer afternoon, my sister and I found the most amazing place to stick our feet in the water.













The creek is running low this time of the year, so crossing the water wasn't difficult just below these falls. I wish I could describe how fresh and clean this little park is... one of my favorite spots, definitely.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cursed Bad Knee

It started on a skateboard. Yes, that's right, this girl was quite the tom-boy when she was little. The skateboard belonged to my father when he was a teenager. It didn't look like modern skateboards: the board was flat and narrow, perhaps eighteen inches from tip to tip, broadening to a scant five-inch width. The board was painted a light blue, probably when it was new, with yellow accent colors and yellow wheels that had aged poorly. Dad gave the skateboard to his young daughters with an admonition, "Be careful, don't hurt yourself." I knew that I wouldn't be able to stand up on it and move without injury, but I became quite skilled at sitting down on the board, my butt over the rear wheels and my feet perched side-by-side (hanging well over the edges) over the front wheels. I'd put on some of Dad's gardening gloves, and I'd push as hard as I could on the back wall of the garage and across the smooth concrete until the board cleared that precarious one-inch drop onto the driveway. Sometimes I didn't survive the drop: I'd wipe out and have to pull concrete fragments from my hips and elbows. But other times, I'd sail down the driveway, leaning hard to make the turn onto the sidewalk. I called it "skateboarding," but I'm sure it looked something more like a 'driveway luge' than anything having to do with a skateboard.

One time I was determined to go the fastest and farthest I'd ever gone. I shoved with all my 9-year-old might against that wall, and I dug my fingers and palms into the garage floor, pushing myself out of the garage onto the driveway. I was going so fast, I didn't hear the car coming down the street. When I saw it, I realized I'd never make the turn onto the sidewalk due to my speed. I stuck my legs out to brake, but my right leg hyperextended, and I caught a face full of grass and concrete.

Thus begins the drama of life with one leg not like the other.

I nursed that knee through 4th grade, not a bad injury, but my first serious one. I was fine through middle school and high school as I stopped playing sports and chose to further alienate myself by becoming a band geek. Ah, the good ol' days...

Being physically inactive through so many developmental years was great for my bones, but my muscles didn't quite get with the program. I started college weighing about 130lbs, and I wasn't lean or fat or anything (hey, just like now!). Running between classes, working on my feet all day on the weekends, and actually doing more physical activity in two weeks than I'd done in five years took it's toll quickly. My knee started hurting something terrible, and against my will, I ended up seeing a doctor. Cute as he was, I didn't like what he told me: the cartilage in my knees has softened, and where the tibia and femur are usually separated by a cartilaginous cushion, I have bone rubbing on bone. My lack of muscle tone in my legs was causing my kneecap to track incorrectly, and I'd have to do all sorts of painful exercises to get it back to where it was supposed to be. Meanwhile, I'd have to wear this dorky, thin patellar strap just above my calf that was supposed to support my kneecap. Yeah, right.

I lost some weight in the first two years of college, not a lot, but enough that moving didn't hurt so much. I didn't do those exercises, though, and weekends on my feet were torture. But pain is what you make it, and I wasn't going to let one knee stand in my way of money or school. I was hesitant to take up dancing, fearing it'd ruin my other knee (which is mostly okay). In fact, the slow start of Ballroom 1 helped ease me into stronger legs and a knee that tracks correctly. I abandoned that knee brace after a few lessons, and I only use it now when I know I'm going to be on my feet for a long time. I'm able to do all of the spins and turns and fancy moves except one or two jumpy things (which require landing too hard on my right leg). Only when I've done too much do I have any pain.

But no more skateboarding for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Look a new un-post!

I wish I could have some witty post for you today, but Blogger was down all night, and I was out hiking and picture-taking. So you don't get anything new until lunch. Unless someone asks me to go to lunch with them. Then you won't get anything new until tomorrow. Unless someone actually asks me out tomorrow (LOL, I'm still clinging to that last bit of hope), then you won't get one until tomorrow night. If I had my way, you'd be looking at this same sad post for two whole days while I have a social life.

We'll see. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If I were a Pop-tart...

Thanks, Elle, for more great blog inspiration. I probably gave this meme more thought that I ought to have, but it was a good one. Hopefully I'll have something original tomorrow.

If I were a poptart... I'd be flat and rectangular, most likely a strawberry one.

If I were a song... I'd be "Rock and Roll Girl" by Scott Grimes.

If I were a movie... I'd be an non-action adventure dramedy. ;)

If I were a tree... I'd be a noble fir.

If I were a salad... I'd be leafy and green and probably covered in ranch dressing.

If I were a chocolate bar... I'd be sweet and sticky, probably filled with puffed rice and caramel, and taste very, very good.

If I were a color... I'd be green like the Oregon grass in June.

If I were a season... I'd be autumn for its warm days and cool, starry nights.

If I were a beverage... I'd be bubbly!

If I were a journalist... I might get paid for blogging.

If I were a hockey team... I'd lose a lot since I don't know how to ice skate very well.

If I were shampoo... I'd sting your eyes and make your hair poofy.

If I were lotion... I'd be Aquaphor (because I'd get the job done the first time!).

If I were a font... I'd be a traditional Spencerian script.

If I were a hymn... I'd be Sweet Hour of Prayer.

If I were a cartoon character... I'd be GIR!

If I were a sweater... I'd be a classic sweater-vest over a crisp oxford shirt.

If I were a food... I'd be warm sourdough bread.

If I were a berry... I'd be a huckleberry.

If I were a perfume... I'd be something spicy, not something fruity.

If I were a car... I wouldn't use gasoline.

If I were a children’s book... I'd be Goodnight Moon.

If I were a dessert... I'd be cheesecake.

If I were a sport... I'd be karate.

If I were an egg... I'd be scrambled, hard.

If I were a place... I'd be McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in California.

If I were a sandwich... I'd be peanut butter and jelly.

If I were ice cream... I'd be vanilla with a little chocolate syrup and peanuts.

If I were a muppet... I'd have someone's hand up my ass. Oh dear! Um, I mean, um... Cookie Monster.

If I were a dress... I'd be a red cocktail dress perfect for long nights of dancing.

If I were a Pez flavor... I'd be the red ones.

If I were a Pez dispenser... I'd be six inches tall and plastic.

If I were natural disaster... I'd be an avalanche.

If I were an accent... I'd be Irish!

If I were a potato chip... I'd be baked, not fried.

If I were a fictional detective... I'd be Nancy Drew.

If I were a Starbucks drink... I'd be hot chocolate.

If I were a book... I'd be historical fiction.

If I were a building... I'd be a museum of random, useless knowledge.

If I were a lake... I'd be clear and deep with lots of fish and happy campers.

If I were a store... I'd be Cabelas.

If I were footwear... I'd be all-terrain hiking shoes.

If I were a flower... I'd be a purple fall crocus.

If I were a holiday... I'd be Thanksgiving.

If I were a painting... I'd be painted by Ingres.

If I were a TV show... I'd be Jeopardy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I don't play hard to get. Get over it.

I've heard about this thing called "playing hard to get," but I never understood it. Why on earth would I want to lie to someone and try to convince them that I'm so important I don't have time for them? Why would I attempt to mislead someone? What possible gain is there in missing a great opportunity to spend time with someone in order to do something less important?

"Don't call him, don't instant message or text message him, and only acknowledge him if he initiates conversation," I'm told. You know what? That seems callous and self-righteous to me. I'm not much of a feminist, but I don't see the harm in starting a conversation with a guy if I want to talk to him. If I need to call for something, I'll call. I don't often enjoy simply talking on the phone, although I will and have done it (especially with my girls who live too far away).

"Find another guy to make him jealous." Wonderful, I'm supposed to use one person (lie to him) in order to make another guy jealous (who I'd also be lying to). It's a perfect idea in... no, forget it, that is a terrible idea. Jealousy is not a trait I'm looking for in a guy, and I certainly don't want to attract a guy because he's jealous of me or anything I have.

I'm not that fake. I don't like leading people on or making them think I'm too busy for them. No matter who the person is, I likely have time for them. It's the way I am. I can be running around doing a ton of stuff, but if my friends call and ask if I can hang out (and it's not a family thing standing in my way -- because family comes first), I'm so there.

Not playing hard to get can cause a guy to think I'm desperate or needy. I realize this little catch-22, and I think it's crap. Relationships aren't built on lies or pretending to be busy. New relationships do much better with openness and availability.

I don't play hard to get. I don't play games with guys' heads. If that means I'm going to end up missing out on a great guy, I'm a little hurt. My upfront attitude and willingness to be honest ought to count for more than some antiquated tactic. I'm not desperate, and I don't need a guy to be happy. But if I have a nice guy to spend time with (that I find myself interested in), I'm not going to suddenly find myself doing a bunch of things to appear more important. I won't play that game.

And I shouldn't have to.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happy 77th, Grandpa

Today is my grandfather's 77th birthday, and I'm not sure he knows it. Yesterday, Mom and I went to visit him. He didn't look good, and he was not having a good day. The whole time we were there, he was either asleep or so out-of-it that he didn't know who we were. Mom took him a present--a new shirt and pair of pants--but I doubt he'll recognize that they're any different than his old clothes.

Sometimes he has good days. Sometimes Grandpa is thinking clearly and can hold conversations. Other times, though, he retreats into his dementia and thinks he is elsewhere. His stories can be funny (like when he insisted we were going to go camping and fishing and he was going to build a big resort), and other times no one can figure out what he's talking about.

Grandma and his doctors are slowly taking him off all unnecessary medications. It hurts to think this might be his last birthday, but then again, no one can say for certain they'll reach another. On bad days, I find it entirely too easy to wish the end for him. His suffering is unbearable to watch. I know there's nothing wrong with thinking such things, but that doesn't make it feel any less cruel.

He'll never read this (and few people care anyway), but that's okay. Today is my grandfather's 77th birthday. I can't hope that it's his happiest (it won't be), but I can hope that he at least realizes it today and that it puts a smile on his face.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beautiful!

Perhaps my previous post sounded a bit too forceful. To summarize: instead of looking at all the ways I need to "fix" myself, I spent this weekend (inadvertently) recognizing how beautiful I really am. Of course, I'm not even close to the America's Next Top Model line, but that's because I'm smart. :)

Look, a new picture of me!

SO WHAT?

I've had my ego destroyed this weekend in so many ways. Between being told that I'm worthless and not living up to my potential and having to go shopping for clothes that never fit, I want to cry. I'm not saying I'm a strong person and never cry, but it's pretty rare. Yesterday, on my drive home from the store, it was all I could do to not let those tears spill over onto my cheeks (because it's hard to cry and drive--although I've done that too). I don't like where I am, and I don't like some of the things I have to do. I am feeling pressured to be someone different, and that just about kills me.

After shopping yesterday, I went to get my tires rotated. I've had car problems in the past if the lug nuts are tightened too tight, and I insist that the tire people not use the power wrench on my car at all. Yesterday, I took my car down there, explained my request to the nice lady behind the counter, and went to read my book. Suddenly, a guy burst through the door shouting my name. "You won't let me use the power wrench on your car?!" Oh Hell, here it comes. He refused to use hand tools (even stating that they didn't have any, which is crap). When I explained that I had no problems taking my business elsewhere, he let up a little. When I explained that I have a torque wrench at home and know how to use it, he gave in a little more. DO NOT underestimate my knowledge of either a woodshop or an auto shop. The only reason I had to take my car to those idiots was because of the warranty on my freakishly-expensive tires. Assholes.

I remember feeling like this last summer. I remember hating who I was through different years in high school and college. I remember who made me feel that way, and I remember the advice someone gave me that helped me get through it all. Perhaps, sometime early this morning, I hit a turning point. I realized that I like who I am. I love being me. I love the things I do, and I know how lucky I am to be able to do them. I like the people around me.

As much fun as they are to complain about, I love my curves. I have boobs and hips and thighs and arms and all those beautiful woman parts. They're neither fat nor ugly, and they don't belong to anyone else. I've been teased my whole life about the way I look. I've been made fun of for being smart. Even though I don't think I'm that smart, I'm told I'm smart. I haven't had much luck with guys, but I am not going to let that get in my way. I don't believe I need a man to validate my existence, and I've never been the type of person to cling to a guy for emotional support. However, I will not play hard to get. (Another post, another day.)

Listening to music this morning, and being in a bit of a country mood, I popped on some Toby Keith. "How do you like me now?" began. What a perfect song for today. I couldn't care less about most of the people I went to high school with, and very few people in college matter to me now--and yet I've hung on to those things they said and did to me all this time. You know what? I love me.

To all of you who put me down, teased me about my hair or voice or boobs or freckles, to all the people who said I'd never get through college, to all the people who insist on labeling me or categorizing my life, to all the hurt and anger brought about for no good reason: SO WHAT?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's Easier to Go Naked

I don't think it can be called "retail therapy" when it leaves me more depressed than when I started. This morning included a shopping trip in which I tried on more clothes than I've ever owned. I went alone, partly so I could go at my own pace, and partly to challenge myself to try on completely new styles and colors without other encouragement. Unfortunately, clothes don't seem to be made for my body shape. I think I'm going around naked from now on. :P

How could my body be so hard to fit? I'm not too tall, and I'm not short by any means. I'm neither fat nor skinny. I have beautiful, healthy curves, and I look good in most dark colors. But clothing manufacturers apparently don't care about making clothes for healthy women. The pants I tried on were either skin-tight up to my hips and ten inches too wide at my waist, or they were like parachutes around my legs and squeezed my kidneys together. Shirts weren't any better. I can't wear cap-sleeves (they just look stupid on me), and I dislike 3/4-length sleeves. Either the shirt had darts that accentuated my breasts and a plunging neckline that didn't cover them, or they choked me and bared everything below my ribs.

Why is it so difficult to find fitted clothes that hug my curves without cutting into them? Why can't women buy clothes based on measurements instead of sizes? UGH.

And why are sales associates in retail stores so... well... nevermind. I can't imagine anyone dreaming of doing that as a career, so I sympathize some, but if I were a customer service rep. in a department store, I'd surely try to learn the industry. A nice woman in a store today asked if she could help me find anything. I hesitated, knowing that my question was going to be odd, but went for it. "Can you help me find something in a 1940's swing vintage?" *blank stare* "I know that's pretty weird, but I swing dance, and I'm looking for something cute to wear while dancing." *blank stare*

I ended up getting two shirts that are very much out of my usual style, but they look like they fit well. As much as I like the shirts, I'm still depressed that I have such a hard time getting clothes to fit me. It sucks not being "correct" for whatever women are supposed to be wearing. I like my curves, but I'd like clothes to fit my curves.

I hate shopping.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Soul Window

Some people call human eyes "windows to the soul." I'm not sure what people see in my eyes, but I don't think many people understand me just by looking at me.

This is really my eye. I have done a slight bit of photoshopping, but the eyecolor is natural (clear contacts).

What do you see?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Moving Up, and Trying to Move Out

After a week with a lot of downs, I am starting to feel a bit more up. I began apartment searching in earnest today, beginning with obtaining a Corvallis Renter's Guide. Knowing that I want to live on my own in a one-bedroom apartment helps narrow things down. Also, my desire to live off Witham Hill and not in South Corvallis helps narrow things further. The decent apartments in the area left are running about $600/mo, and really nice one-bedroom apartments can be up to $800/mo. Sure, I work full-time for OSU, but let me tell ya, $600 is a significant part of my paycheck! I found a place not far from my work that is reasonably priced... we'll see.

In other news, my blog has gained it's 3rd place position back in Google's ranking for the search term, "random questions." The vast majority of my daily hits come from that search term, and I slid to 4th for a while. I'm moving back up, and that makes me happy. Why, I have no idea. I do feel a little bad for swingout.com (the people who run the Tigard Ambassador Ballroom's website). If you search "Ambassador Ballroom Tigard," my website is first, and swingout.com's is second. I didn't mean for this to happen, and I feel a little bad. BUT, my review of their opening night is excellent, and I can't want to get back up there to dance.

Dancing has been all-consuming lately, and I know I've written more about dancing lately than just about anything else. Or, at least, I know that's what's on my mind all the time. Dancing this week was good, but I really need to learn how to move my body in that sexy sort of way. This geek fails miserably in all ways of being attractive. I mean, I have the confidence and desire and ability... and some have even told me I've got the looks... but as with video games, I just don't have the coordination to put them all together. Blah.

Last night was a high point of my week. A friend and I agreed to watch a few more episodes of Band of Brothers with some dinner. Any normal people would call last night a date, but I don't think we considered it that. Of course, the opportunity to sit and watch Scott Grimes act is fantastic, and the miniseries captivates me to no end. At one point in the night, there was a hug shared... I haven't had many hugs that stand out in life (a hug is a hug, right?), and Jeff's hugs are hard to beat... but I must say, this one was pretty darn good. Maybe some practice will make things better. Er, um, *blushes* I mean... it's just a hug. Sheesh!

Even more, though, than hugs and Google rankings and apartment hunting, I feel like something big is happening in my life. I feel as if things are starting to take off. Maybe it's dancing (yay!), or maybe something great is happening at work. Maybe I'm starting some sort of new relationship or maybe I'm growing up. I don't know. I'm a little scared, too. Not a lot scared... nothing I can do about something I don't know about yet. But whatever it is, whatever this feeling is, I feel like it's right.

Or maybe it's just gas. Because apparently I'm full of crap.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Memorable Moment #3

Stuck in a car with the hottest guy in school for an hour. Sounds horrible, right? Well, it wasn't quite a dream-come-true.

Earlier in the week, I was asked by a friend if I wanted to get out of class to help set up a mock car crash on the high school's track. Seeing that class was boring most of the time, and I was interested in learning what a "mock car crash" was, I agreed. You must understand, doing something out of the ordinary was a big deal for me in high school. This band geek didn't get out much.

Toward the end of the school day, we met some firefighters and paramedics and did a quick rehearsal of the mock crash. I didn't understand much about what we were supposed to do, but the paramedic explaining things was very good looking. Priorities, right? I learned that my role was that of a crash victim: I was to appear as if I'd been ejected from the front passenger seat onto the hood of the car. We talked quickly about stage make-up that we might wear, and then we went home.

The next day, we got out of class around lunchtime to prepare for the mock car crash. We met, again, out on the track. This time, though, the fire department had brought in two cars that had obviously been crashed in real life at some point. The cars were mangled, twisted, crunched pieces of wreckage. We put on our stage make-up: to simulate blood, we did what any self-respecting high school student would do: we poured strawberry sundae syrup and ketchup on ourselves. I had red goop in my hair, down my face, over my chest, and on my pants. Then, carefully, I climbed into the wrecked car. Paramedics warned me that I'd be in a very dangerous position for a long time, and that there was a good chance I would be hurt in the simulation later, but they'd "do their best" not to hurt me. Wonderful. Gingerly, I laid my belly over a sheet of broken windshield and rested my head on a pile of glass on the hood of the car. I didn't know where to put my legs, so one ended up under me kneeling on the seat and the other was straight through the bottom of the car.

The "driver" of the car I was in was the hottest guy in school. He didn't talk to me in the hallways, and we didn't have anything in common anyway. That didn't change the fact that I was a babbling idiot whenever he was nearby. His injuries were less severe: a head wound and broken arm or something else minor, and he "survived" the accident. After positioning him in the car, the firefighters covered our car with a tarp.

There we were, two kids covered in ketchup and sundae syrup, stuck in a car with sharp stuff all around us so we couldn't move. And the car was full of ants. Mr. Hottie couldn't say anything nice to me, and the ants were slowly eating us. I had glass pieces working their way under my skin. It was also about 40°F that day, and we weren't wearing many clothes. Granted, it could have been a real accident, but simulating one seemed pretty traumatic to me.

At the end of the school day, the entire student body filed out to the stadium to watch our "mock car crash." First, a fake 911 call played out over the loudspeakers as tarps were pulled off the tops of both cars. Then police, firefighters, and paramedics arrived in real time to the "scene of the accident" and did their real-life rescue. Because I was playing dead, I had my eyes closed and didn't get to see anything. I felt fingers on my neck checking for a pulse. The fingers determined I'd died. Next thing I know, there's a man whispering in my ear, "sorry if we rip your pants off and expose you to your entire school." Um, yeah, hello! I have a problem with that! The strong hands started yanking on my body, pulling me up and grinding my body over the sheet of broken glass into the colder air. I was carried a short distance to the infield where they dropped me from about two feet onto another tarp. Someone covered my corpse with a sheet. I started shivering in earnest as the wind caught under the sheet and stuck close to my body.

I heard those "jaws of life" cutting Mr. Hottie from the car. I heard students screaming as they witnessed the mock crash. Apparently things looked very real to everyone. A news reporter from the local newspaper was on hand to capture our little play. He must not have realized I was "dead" under the sheet, because he stepped me. He stepped hard. After realizing what he'd done, he picked up the sheet, further exposing me to the frigid outside, and apologized. I was not impressed.

After the conclusion of the rescue, students were dismissed to go home. I was released as well, and wandered back to the school building. People were staring at me. I'd forgotten about the fake blood all over me in my state of hypothermia. I tried to get it off, but the redness had soaked into my skin and clothes. And I still had to walk home.

The walk home didn't last long. I made it two or three blocks and people actually stopped to see if I was okay. I turned around and went back to the school to wait for my dad to get off of work to pick me up. I think the redness freaked him out a little bit, too.

The mock car crash was supposed to teach kids the danger of driving while drunk. Many students were traumatized by the reality of the performance. A few students thought the act was stupid or silly. Nobody was laughing when four of our classmates were killed in a drunk-driving accident two days later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Spam Titles Makes me Laugh

"When he rejoined them, he nodded carefully." (Hmm, really? I almost want to click and see what all the nodding was about.)

"The sales of name-brand quality." (Are they selling brands or items of a certain brand?)

"Separate yourself from the men." (Uh, um... I'm pretty sure my girly bits do that quite nicely already, thank you.)

"Coretti gazed at the hotel and lost his nerve." (Remind me never to go there, k? And what kind of guy is named 'Coretti'?)

"This is entirely inaccurate." (Wow, even spam agrees with me!)

"Beware of fake pills." (Fake pills? Like... placebos? Or... pills from Mexico? How about I stick to not taking pills as long as possible, how about that Mr. Spamo?)

"She will love you more than any other guy." (She's gonna love me? Uh oh. I'm not really into that, thanks. I don't mean any disrespect, but um... *twiddles thumbs*)

One of my spam messages was from "Unwanted fat." I don't have much fat, and while a small part of it is unwanted, I really didn't want it to start spamming me. Sheesh!

"One more piece of SPAM!" (At least they're honest...)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Further Proof of my Dancing Un-Skills








If you ignore the girl in the foreground, you get a nice butt-shot of me in what I can only guess is the end of a whip. It could be just about any move, but we both look like we're smiling, so it probably wasn't a fancy move that I messed up.









From long ago, here I am doing some sort of pass-through or something. I don't have to know what the names of the moves are, I just have to know where to go when his hand goes up. ;) I'm on the left right side of the picture in black and lavender dancing with a stranger. (And I apparently don't know my right from my left.)







Tigard Ambassador Ballroom grand-opening! In the midst of Lindy-insanity, I found myself in the arms of a superb lead in a Foxtrot. Look at that form! LOL, we were really hot.




These are not my photos (for once). I've shamelessly pirated them from portlandswing.org and swingout.net.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It Feels so Good to Belong

Yesterday was an adventure, top to bottom. I met a new relative! My oldest cousin (who is seventeen years older than I am) was in town from New York with his wife and their three children. The youngest kid is not quite two years old, a new arrival since the last time the family was in Oregon. Being around kids has two effects on me: I want kids! and I don't want kids. I've determined that my children will be far better behaved than those kids were... holy crap. I want kids so much (eventually)! And the little guy... he was almost too much for my overwhelmed maternal instincts. Can I just take him home with me? :)

After lunch, I found myself deep in a caffeine withdrawl headache. I tried everything to make it go away: Aleve, more caffeine, a nap, chocolate, my piano, cool fresh air, not thinking about anything, overthinking something... none of it worked. I chugged about a liter of water as well, in preparation for my evening. I felt awful.

As evening rolled around, I spent a little while doing my hair and getting ready for the dance. I left two hours early to drive up to Portland to go dancing, and was actually on time and didn't get lost! But that water from earlier? Oh, it wanted out the whole drive north. Whoops! See, I new drinking water would come back to bite me. :P At least my headache went away while driving. Apparently the stress of I-5 took my mind off it long enough for it to disappear.

Dancing was AMAZING! I never took any West Coast Swing lessons, and I'm not confident in how to move across a dance floor. Last night, aside from some sloppy hand positions late in the night, I was on. I felt it. Maybe the leads didn't feel it--maybe they did, I don't know. I danced with guys I knew, and I surprised myself by following other leads well, too. Toward the end of the dance, the DJ asked me to dance. He's crazy-good, and I was hoping to hold on and not screw up too much. When he asked me what other dances I do (Lindy! and ballroom), he actually stuttered in his steps: apparently my "Lindy-ness" doesn't show through in my West Coast Swing (which is rare and difficult for anyone but advanced dancers to pull off). I was flattered and humbled by his compliments, and I had a great time dancing with him.

Of course, the best part of any dance, for me, is dancing with my incredible friends. My throat is sore today from laughing and talking all night (and maybe three hours of singing while driving). My legs are wobbly and my knee feels like someone whacked it with a 2"x4"--all that spinning and strutting wore me out in the best possible way. Great music, a few Lindys to leave me giggling, and such wonderful swing dancing I can only hope to repeat. Each time I go dancing in Portland, I feel like I grow as a person and a dancer. Yay for loving to dance!

Perhaps the most important part of the night was the very end. My friends asked me to go out with them after the dance. So rarely in my life have I been included in a group. I hesitate to say that due to my independence, and the fact that my girls tried so hard to make me feel like I was part of something in college. I didn't want to be a part of their groups though. I've always wanted to have my own friends, my own little moments of feeling like I belong. Last night, I had one of those moments. Sometime, about halfway through my milkshake, I paused to look around the table and see five incredible people smiling and sharing stories. I felt so thankful. Someone might comment, "You're just saying that to impress people." It's not in me to act fake about being thankful for incredible moments shared with good people. I could never have asked for a better night.

Okay, it was kinda warm in the dance hall, so some air conditioning and better breeze would have made things a bit more comfortable. And the dance hall could be an hour closer to home. But those are my only negative points. :P

A long drive home, a hot shower, and sleep rounded out my day of adventure. Part of me didn't want the night to end! and the sore part of me doesn't plan on moving today. :P

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Roughed Up like a Cheese Grater

I can't stand her sometimes. I want to scream and kick and throw a tantrum that only a twenty-something well-practiced female is capable of. I want to help her to understand just how stressed and frustrated I've become with our relationship.

But I can't. Because I know it won't do any good. It never does.

My relationship with my mother is absolutely beyond words. I asked a friend once to describe how he viewed our relationship (as he knows us both in different settings). He replied, "well, I don't know, but you gals could keep two therapists in business for a lifetime." Some help he was...

Very few people can make me cry. I don't cry as a form of emotional release, and I don't feel better after I cry. But my mother can put me in tears faster than anyone else. For some reason, her words cut deeper and drive home harder. I allow this to be the case, and that frustrates me even more.

I haven't spoken of this unique relationship much on my blog before because some family will probably end up reading it. At this point, I don't care. Maybe opening up about it, voicing my opinions, stating my mind will help. If not, I don't see how things could get worse...

It's not that I don't love and respect my mother! I DO! But sometimes she roughs me up like a cheese grater. Maybe all mothers are like this. Maybe I just got lucky. I don't know.

My latest rant is about how Mom tells me what to do right before I'm about to do it. This morning, for example: we were cleaning house as a family just like we do every weekend. That's right, we clean the entire house by hand every weekend. I knew that it was my week to clean the main bathroom, and I was waiting for people to clear out before I went in. Mom comes down the hallway to tell me, "It's your week to clean the bathroom, and I want it spotless." Um, duh? So I cleaned the bathroom, and it is indeed spotless. She asked me to put down all the rugs in the kitchen, and I knew I needed to put them down in my bathroom as well (surprising that those rugs don't do it themselves, sheesh!). As I was walking down the hallway to put the rugs back in the bathroom, she tells me, "You need to put the rugs down in your bathroom, too." It's not about doing the chores. I was in the process of doing them when I was told to do them. Seriously, WTF?!

I understand that I help create "mess" around the house, and that I ought to be involved in the cleaning. No question there, and I like cleaning. But I really hate being told what to do right before I'm going to do it. Mostly, I hate being told what to do. That's another story for another day, though.

Excuse me while I go find what shred of initiative I was once clinging to... unless you're planning to tell me to do that now, too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It may not be a formal religion, but it works for me.

In the process of planning a weekend dance event, I asked a couple friends what I ought to write about tonight. One of them suggested religion. My blog has been a mostly religion-free place. I don't feel like an authority on any religion, and I absolutely don't want anyone to feel pressured to believe one way or another. Writing about God scares me. If I write something that isn't true, I fear other Christians will call me on it. If I say something intelligent, I'm afraid people will ask more questions when I have so few answers.

The hesitancy with which I find myself searching for the "right" words is frustrating. I think most of my disappointment with Christianity falls with Christians themselves. We think we're welcoming, inclusive, and accepting of others from any religion or denomination, but in my experience, Christians are anything but welcoming and accepting. I've never felt like I belonged to any church. I don't go out of my way to go to church, partly because I don't appreciate being stared at like I'm some sort of alien. I don't know the words to make people stop pointing fingers and staring, but I wish I could find a group of people that wouldn't judge without getting to know me first.

Blog about religion? Well, I haven't studied religion. I mean, I haven't read the Bible or the Koran or legends or tall tales. I do know the great themes of most religions, and I understand basic and traditional Christian beliefs. But I'm no authority.

One thing I understand well might be prayer. Whether or not prayer works, it seems to make people feel better. Any religion I know about incorporates prayer or meditation or reflection in one way or another, and I pray and reflect constantly. Some of my friends only pray in church and before meals. Some pray before bed, and others don't do it at all. Some friends say long, rehearsed, unemotional prayers. Those rehearsed ones don't make sense to me. If this God we believe in is so great and powerful and awesome, shouldn't he know what we're thinking before we say it? Certainly, sometimes things need to be said aloud. At various points in any day, I'll find myself in a good moment and send up a quick, "Thanks." No "amen" needed, just a simple word.

My family gathers at holidays and prays before meals. The words seem hollow in their rehearsed harmony. They lack feeling. I know people that pray before every single meal, but they really don't understand what it is to be thankful. To me, it's more important that a person be honest with God than to simply say a quick prayer and move on to the chowing down. Sometimes, I'll quickly contemplate the effort it took for the food I'm about to eat to get onto my plate. That's usually enough to make me go, "whoa, that's a lot of work! I'm glad I didn't have to do that alone. Thanks, God, for this food, for one more meal that will keep me six feet above ground instead of six feet under."

I hope God has a sense of humor. :)

When it comes to religion, I don't know much. I don't know the right words or the right actions to make myself appear Christian. I know that I make mistakes and don't always get things correct the first time... but I learn and grow and smooth out this ball of clay I call "me" more each day. I'm not content to lie stagnant in my effort to improve myself and those around me either.

It's not by the book, and it's probably incorrect by many Christian standards: whatever that is, that continued self-improvement and the desire to be better each day, to love and grow and do some good... that's the religion I aspire to. Call me naïve or stupid, but I have always believed it is better to be a respectful, honest person than a mindless Bible-thumper.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

All Dentists are Evil. Period.

I'm not down on many professions. Every job seems to be necessary in one capacity or another, and I understand that while not every job is glamorous, it's the dirty jobs that make civilized life possible (thanks, Discovery Channel). But the one profession I vehemently dislike: dentists.

And I have good teeth!

This anti-love affair began early in life: when I was very young, my two front teeth were significantly larger and longer than the rest of my teeth, so the nice man in the white coat shaved off the bottom edges of my front two teeth. Permanent teeth. Drilled down, filed down. Without Novocaine. You want to know how much I enjoyed that little experience? I bit him. I bit him good. I'd do it again too.

After a few years, that dentist retired. My family had to find a new dentist. We wanted one closer to home, so we asked friends and family about their dentists, and ended up at one here in Lebanon. Within two visits, he'd given my father a massively swollen cheek and injured both my sister and me. The cheek thing was pretty awful for Dad: when filling a cavity, the dentist shot Dad's cheek up with Novocaine. He hit the main artery that supplies the face with blood with the needle. Talk about misery... poor Dad! We did not return to that dentist.

Shortly thereafter, we found our current dentist in Albany. The rest of my family seems to like him, and he's well-known across the state for his quality dentistry. However, to me, he seems to have the chair-side manner of a frog. He jumps around from place to place, and you never know where he'll land next. He doesn't say much, and that which he does communicate isn't clear enough for me to understand. And he just seems kind of... smarmy.

Today, as you might have guessed, I had to visit the dentist. Any day where a dentist is involved is a bad day for me, even if I'm not the one in the hot seat. I dislike the whole routine and am usually in pain the whole time. I'm no wimp when it comes to pain in my mouth either: I wore braces for five years, so I know if my teeth or gums hurt. X-rays, scaling, polishing, flossing... I got the works today. I'm pretty sure the hygienist cleaned out my small intestine and behind my ears while she was at it.

I'm not particularly vain when it comes to my looks: I'm definitely the last one to call myself attractive. However, five years in braces and attention to caring for my teeth has paid off in a pretty decent smile. I do try to maintain a healthy mouth, although, admittedly, flossing isn't always a top priority.

With only three or four exceptions due to braces, I've been cavity free my whole life. Today was no exception. The evil dentist told me I need to "never use my current model toothbrush again," though, as it's wearing away my gums at a crazy-fast rate. I like the rubber fingers on the sides, but those are very bad for gums apparently. So I splurged on a Sonicare toothbrush. I also acquired a prescription toothpaste to help fix my gums.

Dentists are supposed to be helpful, kind, trusted people. I have few reasons to think otherwise. But the whole industry of tooth pain leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, not to mention my heart. All dentists are evil. Period.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I feel so much better about my blog title now.

Stupid Printers! and other Crappy Day Adventures

The other shoe dropped today. Yesterday was fantastic, and today did not follow suit. I don't think I could have imagined two days being so incredibly different.

The day started with a jolt. Sprinklers outside my bedroom window awoke me entirely too early again, and the commute to and from work was a nightmare. I felt like I couldn't get caught up in my work all day. Each task took more time than it needed, and tasks stacked on top of each other like those little kid's ABC blocks. I was doing all I could to keep the stack from tumbling over.

At one point, I got into it with two very large printers. They worked fine in the morning, but just before lunch when I went to print some more reports, they decided to go wonky. I reset the first one, but as soon as I hit print, it readjusted itself to the wrong alignment. I couldn't figure out how to cancel the print job, so I fixed it while it was printing the second dead set. The other printer went crazy during this time, so I had to fix it a second time as well. Holy crap! I was just about to my swearing point when another person joined me in the room... I held my tongue, but it hurt. The printers finally worked after my sixth trip down the long hallway, ARGH!

I received a caustic message from someone that made me rethink my most recent opinion of humanity. I was doing really well liking just about everyone when BAM! no, humans suck. Why are we so mean to each other? Why do we love picking apart flaws in each other when we ought to be picking apart flaws in ourselves? It is my goal to be able to look at another human being without judgment until I am in a position to evaluate that person properly.

Then, this afternoon, I was getting ready to work on some important stuff when I found out that the computer system I use to enter the information was down. I screwed up some dates on some documents a week or two ago, and I really need to fix them soon, so I hope the system is back up tomorrow sometime.

My work e-mail is fine. My personal e-mail works great. But my inactivated and reactivated student account through OSU is being mistaken as my staff account (and it is auto-forwarded to my personal e-mail), so I'm receiving work e-mail at work and at my personal account. I don't know who I need to talk to about that, but it would be really nice not to see, "You need to fix these eight issues by 8:15am" before I get to work.

I miss Jeff so much these days--eating lunch alone every day is not fun.

I'm exhausted, too. I don't think I've slept more than five hours a night for several nights, even with my sub-zero A/C in this house. If nothing else, living with my parents through August means a cool house to come home to at night.

Have you ever had someone give you an "e-hug"? I appreciate the thought, truly, I do. I am going to start collecting on "e-hugs" when I see people again though. If you send them, be prepared to pay up. Because I like hugs.

Today, I need one of those. Yes, send me hugs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Yay for dancing, hiking, and great conversation!

How do you describe a wonderful day? Do you use words like "relaxing" or "peaceful" or "restorative"? What about "fun," "free," or "educational"? I don't really know the right words to tell you about yesterday. I had a great day, though, one that continued to get better as time wore on.

After work, I was able to read for a bit before dancing. I don't take time to read much, sadly, but I did get half an hour last night. As much as I like reading blogs online, there's something about holding a book that just feels better to me. I like books. I love reading Stephen Ambrose's work, too.

Then, dancing! What better way to celebrate 100°+ temperatures? It was crazy-warm in the dance studio: not often will I give up dancing a Hustle, but it was too damn hot to move that much. Some slow West Coast Swing left me feeling a bit down on myself as I've yet to learn exactly how to move my body and look attractive while doing so... grrrr. But! For the first time ever, one of the best dancers in Corvallis asked me to dance. The best part: I didn't suck at following his leads through the Nightclub Two-Step! I actually looked graceful and ... not sucky. Dancing was lots of fun, and people seemed to have a good time regardless of the sweltering studio.

After dancing, I went hiking with a friend out in McDonald Forest. The logging roads were letting off their soaked-up heat, and the Old Growth Trail was almost stiflingly humid. I developed some great blog material via our conversation and his continued inspiration... though it may take some time to flesh out a good post.

Being around good people more often and dancing more than once a week is helping me feel much better about myself. Work is awesome and trying at the same time, and I don't always feel like I quite fit there. I receive conflicting messages about the person I need to be quite often, and I'm still having a hard time fine-tuning exactly who I think I am. Days like today help very much in that effort. I'm slowly learning to love who I am, to see the good as well as the bad in myself.

That's a lot of words to describe a good day.

I am an M&M




Monday, July 09, 2007

The Ugly Side of Ballroom Dancing

Sweat. Sore feet and smashed toes. Aching arms. Social awkwardness. Heaving breathing. Dizziness. More sweat.

Ballroom dancing is a glamorous, fantastic adventure with a gross, disgusting, terrible side. It's more fun than I thought I'd ever have, but dancing also puts me in some of the most awkward, uncomfortable spots. Nevertheless, the good outweighs the bad. Usually.

My least favorite thing about ballroom dancing is pretty damn disgusting: In proper closed position, the male (lead) puts his right hand on the left shoulder blade of the female (follow), and their other hands are clasped to the lead's left. The follow places her left arm along the top of the lead's arm and positions her left hand on his shoulder (or at the cleft of his bicep and deltoid if she has short arms). As much as I hate to use the word, basically the lead puts his forearm right under the follow's armpit. On occasion, a lead will wear a long-sleeved shirt. Sometimes a girl will sweat out onto the man's sleeve. Then... the sleeve becomes saturated with sweat. And when I have to dance with a guy who has sweat-stained sleeves that feel cold and slimy under my arm... oh that is so gross! SO GROSS!

Ever had your toes stepped on? It doesn't feel very good. Now imagine having your toes stepped on eight or ten times really hard in one hour. It hurts! I'm convinced that beginning dancers ought to learn to dance in steel-toed boots. No kidding. It would save toes right and left (tee hee). I don't understand how girls dance in flip-flops or open-toed shoes. OUCH! I'm much happier in full leather dance shoes.

What about the dance partner who gets a little fresh? I'm not talking about the accidental brush of an elbow into a forehead or a knee into the back... I'm talking about moves in Tango and West Coast Swing where the illusion of sexual tension takes on physical tension of a very awkward nature. Sure, it's fun to play! But what about the guy who goes for it? Free spin and BAM! hands in the no-zone. Or a really close Tango quartet where you get to learn more about human anatomy than a college lecture might teach. Those really grabby people are not fun to dance with. As much as we hate confrontation, it's important to speak up if someone is in your personal space. Yes, there is such a thing as personal space when dancing.

Several people have told me that spinning for hours doesn't make them dizzy. I am not one of those people. Nightclub Two-Step can make me incredibly dizzy depending on the lead and how well I remember to spot. Even a fast Lindy or ECS can take me out of commission for a dance or two. Dancing while dizzy is quite an experience, though...

Any dancer has experienced some sort of dance-related injury or soreness at some point. I can't imagine learning to dance and not hurting some time. I'm a bit sore from dancing two days ago, but I'm going again tomorrow night... because that's what we do. Blisters can be mended, and sore feet massaged. Aches and pains can be medicated--but take it easy on your back (that part is harder to fix than a toe).

You thought ballroom dancing was easy? It can be. :) You thought it was clean and fun? It can be that as well. But ballroom dancing has an ugly side. Beware the sweaty sleeves!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lindy Hop at the Ambassador Ballroom

I wasn't sure I wanted to go. Four hours of dancing is a lot to handle for someone as out of shape as I am. When I learned the dancing would be all swing dancing and no ballroom, I pretty much put the idea out of my mind. A few days passed, and I mulled the idea of attending over again. I tried to get some friends to go up with me. I looked for reasons why I shouldn't go. I tried to find something else to do instead. But in the end, I wanted to dance.

The Ambassador Ballroom opened last night in Tigard, Oregon, with a huge crowd and fantastic music. The facility has three ballrooms, three amazing floors that are wonderful to dance on. Padded seats all around the rooms and mirrors on two walls of each ballroom made the rooms look gigantic. If you want to learn to swing dance, go up to the Ambassador on Saturday nights this summer.

My drive up to Tigard was not exciting, and I hooked up with the OSU crowd after a short while. In all my life, I have not seen so many swing dancers in one place. To say that the ballroom was "hopping" is such a ridiculous understatement: the whole complex was alive with Swing Fever! The dancing was awesome and inspiring. I danced a bit with friends to warm up and get into the spirit. After a bit, a guy I didn't know asked me to dance. I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to keep up (not knowing much more than basic swing and Lindy), but he was a great lead and I had no problems following whatever he threw at me. I danced with two other strangers during the night, and both tried an odd mix of swing/Lindy with me.

Most of my fun, though, came from dancing with my friends. I attempted to do a hilarious West Coast Lindy Swing something-or-other with one friend that left us both in stitches. He couldn't decide what he was leading, and I was having a hard time just holding on... it was a disaster, but we were both smiling and goofing off so much that it worked! :) I also got to know another guy from OSU better--we had a few great foxtrots to calm things down. Hardly anyone else would foxtrot, and getting around the ballroom with Lindy Hoppers bouncing everywhere was impossible. We tried, though, and the dance was simply divine.

My only complaint of the night was the heat. I don't know exactly how hot it was in the ballroom, but it was way too hot for dancing. All those bodies plus the hot weather made things crazy warm. Clothes were soaked after a few dances, and things didn't cool off much over the course of the dance. To my own credit, at least, I took my own bottled water and actually drank it all while dancing.

So I stepped way out of my shell, tried something new, went someplace new, didn't get lost, looked girly (I'll say it: I actually looked hot), drank all my water, and had a great time. I call that a successful experiment. YAY for Lindy Hop at the Ambassador Ballroom!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Piano Hands v.2

Inspired by Mr. Guy, thanks to twenty years of meager practicing, and brought to you by the letter D, I give you ME! playing the piano.

Trust me, it's nothing special. But it's real. And really short. And not the best I can do.

Friday, July 06, 2007

By The Numbers

One year of monitoring my blog statistics, and I'm clearing 30,000 hits this weekend. The last 10,000 hits occurred in under 40 days, about half that of the second 10,000. Looks like things are almost exponentially growing around here! I'm averaging about 20 returning visitors a day, and 200 page loads or more is a good day's traffic on the blog.

Not that you needed to know some other useless numbers about me, but I'm totally inspired by Elle's post tonight, so I just have to steal her idea.

Number of bones I've broken: 0
Number of people on my instant messenger lists: 50
Number of text messages I send each day: 2
Number of children I want to have: 2ish
Number of telephone numbers I actually have memorized in my phone: 10
Number of classes I've received an F in: 0
Number of states I've been in: 11
Number of foreign countries I've been in: 1
Number of men who have given me flowers: 2
Number of times I've been drunk: 0
Number of pairs of shoes I own: 11
Number of years I've lived in this city: 22
Number of DVDs I own: 28
Number of times I do laundry each week: 3
Number of blogs I read regularly: 11
Number of credit cards I own: 1
Number of scholarships I received: 2
Number of pairs of sunglasses I've lost or broken in the last year: 4
Number of umbrellas I've owned in the last ten years: 1
Number of sketchbooks I've filled: 2
Number of cadavers I've worked with: 3
Number of keys on my keyboard: 130
Number of living grandparents: 3
Number of Poopah Troopahs hanging from my ceiling: 3
Number of pieces of chocolate I ate today: 3
Number of cousins I have: 17
Number of years I took piano lessons: 4
Number of miles between home and work: 22
Number of dollars I spent on college personally: 20,000
Number of required readings I actually completed for class: 1
Number of bones in the body I can name in Latin: 150
Number of embarrassing photo albums of myself in this house: 4
Number of calculators I own: 1
Number of computers I own: 2
Number of stereo systems I own: 0
Number of cell phones I've owned: 3
Number of times I've had a good time at the dentist: 0
Number of years I have slept in the bed I currently own: 18
Number of times I've had to spend the night in the hospital: 0
Number of pieces of fruit I ate today: 2

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's Gettin' Smelly in Here

The human nose is not capable of smelling much. Most of my friends have terrible senses of smell. Whether I am blessed or cursed (depending on the scent, of course), I make up for my poor eyesight with incredible senses of hearing and smelling.

I have several favorite smells, and there are a few smells I can't stand. More than a word or sound, a smell will remind me of another event. A smell can change my mental state quickly as well.

One particular smell is difficult to explain, yet a joy to experience--if you're me. When I was very young, my dad would pick me up from the babysitter's house after work. He was a machinist, so he'd wash his hands really well before leaving, but always his hands would smell like work. Dad would kneel down and give me a hug, and I'd be wrapped up in Dad's work smells: grease and oil and metal and sweat. Now that I'm working and he arrives home before me, he showers before I see him. Every once in a while, though, after he comes in from working on a car or poking around in the garage, I'll smell that warm, metallic Dad smell, and it's like being hugged all over again.

Not to be outdone, my mother had one scent that comforted me. Just before she left for work in the morning, she'd put on perfume. That scent lasted all through the day, and it was the first thing that greeted me when she arrived home at night. Mom wore Fire & Ice perfume. The smell is spicy, like summer, but still cool... it's an appropriately named perfume. As I matured and was "allowed" to wear cologne and perfume (rarely, as I prefer to not smell at all), this was one of the few scents that didn't react with my body and turn wonky in a few hours. So yes, if you smell perfume on me, it's Fire & Ice. Because I'm cheap. And because it's one of the most comforting, positive smells I know.

While those two smells put me at ease, not every smell in the world is a positive one. I will never forget the first time I smelled the inside of a fraternity. Holy shit. Tears came to my eyes, my throat closed, and my nose ran for the hills. Whatever those boys had been doing, cleaning was not on the list. A combination of boy stench, rotten food, dried vomit, beer, and mildew sent me over my edge. What was I doing in a fraternity in the first place? Helping to clean. Yes, that's right. I. am. an. IDIOT. And I am never going into another fraternity. PHEW!

Cleaning smells rank high on my list. I adore the smell of Pine-Sol. Some people use bleach, some people use 409, and I know a few that get by on water alone (EEW!). I can clean a house pretty darn well with Pine-Sol -- although I do like Soft Scrub for the bathroom part. Pine-Sol smell reminds me of a job well-done. If the house smells like Pine-Sol, it's probably clean still. :) Although warm Pine-Sol is not a good smell: too much Pine and not enough Sol. We're not growing a forest here...

Being a Valley Girl is wonderful until allergy season hits and grass starts to pollinate. The yellow plumes float in over the town and I hunker down for a few weeks with my box of Kleenex. Thankfully, that time of the year is almost over, and the fields are being cut this month. The whole world seems to smell like grass and hay. Late summer evenings driving through the farmland with the windows rolled down... hehe, I'm like one of those dogs with their nose pointed out the window trying to smell every smell of summer all at once. I love that sweet hay smell.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'm a Wallet Girl

I carry a wallet in my back pocket. This seemingly trivial fact prompts more conversations than you might expect. How can a girl carry a wallet? Doesn't a girl need more than a wallet? Why would a girl want to carry a wallet? It it big? What exactly goes into a girl's wallet?

My standard response is that I carry a wallet because it makes my mother pissy. She can't understand how her sweet, refined, delicate eldest child can walk around with a wallet in her back pocket like a big, strong man. She begs me to carry it in a purse. She cringes when I tell her I even keep the wallet in my pocket while spending time with *gasp* boys.

My wallet isn't much different than a guy's wallet. I keep money and ID in it, my insurance cards and some membership cards to places I go to often. I don't have pictures, extra bits of paper, or business cards in it though, as those take up space and add weight.

Not carrying a purse has drawbacks. I keep chapstick and nail clippers in one pocket, and my cell phone slides around in another. Other than my wallet and those things, I don't have much need for a purse. What else would I put in one?

I do carry one partially to make my mother angry, but I also carry a wallet because it allows me to wander around without having to remember where I put a purse. I tend to wear tight-ish blue jeans and can tell if my wallet is missing--so I'm almost impossible to pick-pocket. AND I'm not out spending money on purses to match every outfit. Seems logical to me. :)

Yeah, I carry a wallet. What about you?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Blog Award

Thanks, Elle, for the award!


I'm honored by your kind words. While it has taken me entirely too long to do so, I've finally added your blog to my blogroll. Thank you so much for the comments and continued reading. I love your stories and reading about your life experiences. Keep up the great blogging!

I'm passing this award on to my two favorite Girl Bloggers: Mom of Three and Whit-O-Roni.

Monday, July 02, 2007

It Just Feels So Darn Good

Sometimes you don't realize what you have until it's gone. Sometimes it takes a while to realize what you've lost. Other times, you realize exactly what you're losing before you know it's leaving.

For me, one of the best things in life is being held, curling up close to a guy, putting my head on his shoulder, and having his arm wrap around me. It doesn't have to be a sexual thing--it isn't even about a protective man doing his protecting thing. I just love to be close to a guy.

Which is pretty darn weird considering I'm not a touchy-feely person.

I'm close with a few guy friends, and if we're watching a movie or hanging out, I have no qualms with being physically close to them. To me, there is a distinct difference between watching a movie and laying next to each other on the couch and "watching a movie" while making out. Nothing against making out... it's just not something I do unless I'm dating someone.

The first thing I miss from any relationship is the physical closeness. I know my relationships have ALWAYS been about more than physical relationships (I do have some morals, gosh!), but the ability to have my arm inside his as we're walking down the sidewalk, or the moments sitting in the park where his head rests on my leg, or even those things like hugs to say hello and good-bye--those are the things I miss.

I've spent a considerable amount of time single already in my short adult life as my relationships haven't lasted very long (for different reasons, mostly that it just didn't work out between us). As much as I like being in a relationship, I do enjoy singledom a lot too. But that part of me, that little womanly part that I suppress so much... she fits so perfectly into a man's arms.

*sigh*

I need a man. NO, not like that... just... oh forget it.

*eats chocolate*

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Day of the "Bob Ross" Clouds

I spent a lot of time driving today between Corvallis and Hillsboro. Throughout the trip, I'd occasionally look up at the clouds. They looked... fake. They were... weird. I don't know, they just looked different somehow, like whoever paints clouds in the sky didn't do a very good job today. My sister called it "The Day of the Bob Ross Clouds." If you don't know who he is, forget it.

The reason for my trip to Hillsboro is simple: BBQ with friends! Chris was kind enough to ride up there with me, and he didn't laugh at my, um, "getting lost" technique once. We were a bit early, but people arrived soon after we did, and in a short while, the party was in full swing. So much good food, lots of laughter and reminiscing about "those college days" (of, like, a year ago).

After food and homemade ice cream and all the fun of talking, we wandered downstairs to play and watch some crazy games of Twister. People were vicious and conniving and generally good sports about playing: lots of laughs and I have TONS of hilarious pictures.

The drive home was uneventful, quiet even as we didn't listen to music. I'm rather glad to be home and away from the stress of being social, but I did have a great time. I had a headache much of the day, cause unknown--and getting into bed is my only goal at this hour.

Here's to Bob Ross clouds and BBQs and good times!