Friday, November 30, 2007

Stepping on my Own Toes

In a few minutes, I'll be headed across town for the last dancing event of the year. How will I survive a month and a half without waltzing or Lindy-hopping? Thankfully, I'll continue to help a friend teach some short weekend lessons. Without those few moments, December is looking grim. I really don't like my friends leaving town, but the nights home alone will do me some good.

I've been rather depressed all week, and I wish I could blame it on the Usual Suspects (boys, money, or PMS), but that would be a lie. I don't suffer from PMS, today was payday, and I'm going to be in some guy's arms in half an hour. Life should be a crazy-fun time right now. It's not, and I'm not happy.

Last night, I had a chat with someone that taught me more about myself than I wanted. He's told me several times this same thing, and it's finally starting to sink in. His words cut deeply. I would have gotten defensive, but I don't owe him or anyone else an explanation. The problem lies entirely within me.

The final blow of the week was realizing that I'm afraid of myself.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No More Questions

too many questions
that belittle my
intelligence
the smart you say
i am

i may not know
what
i want but i know
who
i am and what
i can do

this lack of communication
is a result of wanting
to be independent
to do things without needing
permission
to become myself
without meddling or pestering or
answering questions

no more questions
that is all
i ask
no more
trivial
useless
mundane
ungratifying
senseless
repetitive
unhelpful questions

instead of
questions
seek
knowledge of me
of the person you
claim
to know
but don't actually know because
you're holding conversation with me
in your head
and i'm not in there
i'm out here

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Get the Lights Right

Christmas lights are appearing around every house, up and down the streets here. I love seeing the pretty colors lit up at night, and I enjoy the originality with each house. However, the icicle lights irk me. Don't get me wrong, they're pretty. But icicles don't grow on gables! Those slopey sides drain, and unless there's something to stop the flow of water, an icicle won't grow there. Icicles grow on flat rooflines where they can drip consistently enough to create the classic icicle.

Just so you know. Your lights are not natural. The colored ones can go wherever you want. The mini net lights... toss those over every bush and tree. But icicles and icicle lights should only go on the flat sections where you'd find a gutter.

Yeah. I'm that picky.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

That's my Name, You Better Wear it Out!

"Jaggy" isn't my real name, but my real name sounds sorta like "Jaggy." Well, if you take off the J, change a few letters, add a couple more, and leave the "ee" sound at the end. Okay, so my real name might rhyme with "Jaggy."

Unless you shorten it. That's what this post is all about. If my name were really "Jaggy," I'd expect people to call me that. My mother has a name that can be shortened, as do all of her siblings. She purposely named my sister and me names that oughtn't be shortened. Nevertheless, a coworker called me by my shortened first name today. It would be like calling someone named "Sarah," "Sare." It works, sorta. I didn't get mad, and I'm still not mad. I didn't know and still don't know how to respond. Is work a place where that's even appropriate?

My parents shorten my name all the time, and that's great! I actually like it when they do. Two or three of my friends do it, too. I don't mind that. My sister can call me whatever she pleases, but we have our own names for each other anyway. Very few other people shorten my name, even among extended family.

I am not offended when people shorten my name. But it jars me somehow. I don't know why.

What do you think? Do people ever shorten your name? Do you prefer to be called by another name? Do you think there is a time and place for full names vs. nicknames?

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm stupid, but I'm learning...

Sometimes I'm amazed at how stupid I can be. Other times, I just shake my head and laugh at myself. Is that normal?

The mysterious yellow liquid dripping from my range vent hood has not been identified, but the maintenance guy came and investigated the vents in the bathroom and kitchen today for leaks. He didn't find anything. The dripping has stopped. I'm less worried now.

I developed a whopper of a headache last night, which I attributed to a caffeine imbalance (my fancy way of not admitting my wonderful addiction). I had a normal withdrawal headache on Thursday, but usually one day is all it takes for me to get over withdrawal. Between the running around all weekend, the dance lesson on Sunday afternoon, and the time spent in a hot kitchen, I'm guessing I'm probably significantly dehydrated again.

The headache didn't leave after a full night of sleep--and nothing sucks more than waking up feeling as bad as when you went to sleep. I went to work today because I had to attend an annual meeting (that ended up not teaching me anything new). I tried to sleep on the ride up and back but had no luck. My evening has been slightly better as I been forcing myself to drink water often. A bath felt nice. So now I feel like crap, but I'm too relaxed and lazy to do anything about it.

So I'm an idiot for not drinking more water. Again. How many times until I learn? ARGH!

In other news, I'm re-reading one of my favorite books. It's teaching me something new yet again, and I couldn't be happier with it. Such is that gentle grace, though...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Suspicious Yellow Liquid

...is dripping from the range vent hood in my kitchen. The yellow liquid does not smell, nor is it off-gassing. I have not checked for flammability. The dripping is slow, perhaps two or three drips per minute. It began early this morning and has not yet stopped. Corvallis has not seen rain in several days, so the leak is not rain-related. If anyone has an idea or suggestion as to what this suspicious yellow liquid could be, please comment.

-no one lives above me, and there are no plumbing lines running over my kitchen ceiling
-no smell, remember?
-I cooked two large pots of soup two days ago and ran the vent fan for at least three hours, but there was no dripping in the last two days. Could the steam have condensated in the vent and is now dripping out?

Suspicious yellow liquids are NOT welcome in my kitchen. Help?!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ego vs. God: A Prayer

Hey, God? I get it already. I understand that I am nothing. We don't need to keep rubbing it in, do we? Seriously. I get it.

I know you gave me this incredible musical talent that I haven't been all that dedicated at sharing with others, but you sorta left out patience, and that's not really my fault. Thanks for bringing amazing people into my life that have even more of that musical talent! Could you make it so that I don't feel like a musical moron when I'm around them though? Seeing people so effortlessly play kinda bursts my bubble. It's not that I want to be better than them, definitely not. I just wish I could sit down and play one song that didn't sound like a tank creeping over chards of broken glass.

Oh, yeah, and remember all that musical talent? I am appreciative in every way! Though we need to have a little talk about vocal ability. How is it that I can hear two notes and tell that one of them is off-key, and I can hear when my own voice is not correct, but I can't make the correct sound come out? What happened? Were you asleep at my creation and sprinkled on the musical talent at the last moment? I'm not complaining about what I've been given. Honestly, though... sheesh!

So you blessed me with enough hand-eye coordination to play Bach, yet you seemingly passed up giving me the video gaming ability too? That would have been nice, God. I could have used that today when I got my ass handed to me playing Wii with my friends. It's not that I lost once, or even twice, but that I lost so miserably it was embarrassing. I can waltz and swing dance and have incredibly fine motor control, but I can't hold a game controller and make my character do anything coherent. I know other people can't do the many things I can, and I'm truly thankful that I can dance and play music. Could we negotiate about the video gaming ability?

A day for ego-destroying, indeed. What little bits of ego I'd scraped together since the last ego-bashing were all tossed in the wind today, scattered around on the ground. I did have fun with my friends--the day wasn't bad. I'm just a little sore with how much cool they have and how much ultra-dork I got.

God? I get it. Thank you for putting me back in my place. I know I deserved it, but you don't have to be so rough about it. Really, I get it already. If it's okay, I'd like to go to sleep now, and maybe wake up tomorrow not feeling like I'm nothing. That would be appreciated. Thanks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Leftovers Day!

With a bunch of turkey left after yesterday's feast, Mom sent some home with me. I grabbed some fixin's on my outing today and made two huge pots of yummy turkey noodle soup (recipe at bottom).

I expected today to be incredibly boring sitting around my apartment with nothing to do. So wrong! I slept in late, got up and watched Ocean's Thirteen, made muffins and cleaned my kitchen, and did a bunch of laundry. In the afternoon, I ventured out to get another curtain rod and some sheets to make curtains for my living room.

My apartment has been losing heat somewhere, and I finally got tired of it. I was going to buy fabric and hand-make really nice, thick curtains for the living room. Then, I discovered I could get twin-size flat sheets for about $5.00 at Ross. Guess what: cheap, very nice fabric, some alligator clips on rings, and a $5.00 curtain rod! I have really fun and effective curtains in my living room now, and I have enough sheet material left over to make awesome pillow covers for the couch. Total cost: $20. ~big smile~

I watched Good Luck, Chuck while the soup was cooking tonight. Surprisingly good, excusing the eight or ten near-porn clips. The movie was funny. I can't help but relate to Jessica Alba's character--not because I think I'm anywhere close to being that gorgeous, but because the character is constantly fighting Murphy's Law. As much as I want to be a woman with grace and tact and charm... I know I'm not. I'm comfortable with my status as a geek. Sometimes, though, I wish I felt cool. And I wish I could find a guy that would see this girl that is constantly getting hurt, forever goofy, and completely incapable of saying the right things at the right time.

This is why we don't let Jaggy watch sappy chick flicks.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Jaggy's-Super-Simple-You-Make-Up-A-Shorter-Name-Turkey-Noodle-Soup

1/2 white onion, 3-4 carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery chopped up and cooked 1/2 hour over medium heat in a large stock pot (add 2.5 litres of water after the 1/2 hour). Add garlic salt and pepper to taste (I use a LOT of fresh-cracked black pepper). Using leftover turkey (it's better if it sits in the 'fridge overnight for some reason), shred it BY HAND. No knives. Bite-sized pieces. Add the turkey to the soup. Toss in 3 or 4 bullion cubes--use chicken because I've never been able to find turkey bullion cubes... wonder why. I generally add more pepper and parsley now as well. Cook 3 or 4 hours. Stir every half-hour or so. Taste often. The last half-hour is critical: add Reame's Egg Noodles. They're available in the freezer section, usually next to the frozen bagged ravioli or bagged vegetables. Other noodles break down or absorb too much moisture. Trust me, the noodles are amazing. Finish out that last half-hour, then EAT! Best with bisquick biscuits on a cold day.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Play-by-Play

Thanksgiving Day: up-to-the-minute reporting, mostly because I have nothing better to do...

7:30am: alarm clock sounded, but I crushed the screaming with my index finger. Six minutes later, I rolled my sleepy carcass out of bed for good

7:45am: checked e-mail, Facebook, blog comments, and other blogs for new posts; decided to skip breakfast in order to make it to my parents' faster

7:58am: dozed off at computer while Stumbling

8:15am: decided to get motivated and ready to go; bathroom stuff, and I made toast. So much for not having breakfast

8:35am: left Corvallis en route to Lebanon. Frosty morning and light traffic made the drive easy and pretty

8:45am: Mom called to say she needed me to pick up some last-minute stuff at Safeway.

9:25am: arrived in Lebanon at parents' house with last-minute ice cream in tow.

9:30am: Helped Mom get the turkey ready, including prepping the turkey bag and opening the oven door. Mom really let us help in the kitchen this year, yeah...

10:00am: kicked out of kitchen, eating another breakfast, and blogging...

10:15am: Watched Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Dad

12:00pm: tried to kill fly that managed to get into the house; had no luck killing said fly

12:30pm: retrieved Grandma and brought her home; attempted to create gravy from turkey drippings and succeeded after a while (and yes, I ate it)

1:00pm: feasted, Feasted, FEASTED!

1:36pm: rolled severely overweight body into living room after clearing the table; attempted to stay awake

1:50pm: copied piano music and assembled pile of "take-home wonderfulness"

3:00pm: dessert; chatted with the family; attempted to stay awake

4:30pm: returned Grandma to her home, drove back to Corvallis

6:00pm: showered and tidied apartment

7:20pm: worked on annual calendar project; chatted online with a friend; Rachel called

8:30pm: watched a movie

10:00pm: began another movie, blogged...

And I think that'll take me through until midnight and sleep. This was the most exciting Thanksgiving ever. Note dripping sarcasm. I'm already tired of Christmas music and the same Christmas commercials as the last three years. I'm not getting up early to go shopping.

No, I don't think I'll be writing an "I'm Thankful For..." post this year. God already knows, and I don't feel the need to repeat myself yet again about the important things in my life. If you would like to know what I'm thankful for, try browsing my "Filed Under" section over on the left.

Of course I'm always thankful for comments--unless your some spammer. Then I hope you had lumps in your gravy and soggy stuffing.

Bah. I'm gonna go turn my left-overs into my wonderful and amazing homemade soup. No sarcasm there. I really do make incredible soup.

Wow, I'm bored. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Three Childhood Memories

Late at night, before I nod off, I'll remember something vividly, some random and completely irrelevant memory of some odd moment in my life. I don't know what triggers them, or how they happen, but they're interesting. To me at least...

When I was little, maybe four or five, when my parents would take my sister and me shopping, I'd get to ride in the cart. I was far too big to fit in the child's seat by the handlebar. Safeway had the deep baskets, and I could ride in the deep part with my baby sister if I didn't torment her. For some reason, I didn't get to ride in the deep-basket-carts very often or for very long... My favorite store to go shopping in was Roth's. Roth's had shallow-basket-carts. The carts had a large area underneath with a rack in the front like most carts, and the back third was a raised section with another smaller basket under the top basket. The shallow top baskets meant less bending for the shopper, too. The best part about the rack underneath was that I could sit upright under the basket, hiding under all the food in the cart, eating the cookie that the nice bakery ladies would give me. Then, when I got tired of shopping, I could just curl up and sleep as Mom pushed me around the store. Many times I went home with those cart rack lines impressed into my backside. Sometimes, when I go shopping, I wish I could still ride underneath the carts.

I remember the giant maple tree in front of my first house. The tree covered both our lawn and our neighbor's lawn, and it dropped tons of leaves, literally tons and tons. The lowest branch was seven or eight feet off the ground, just high enough that I could never get up, just high enough that I wouldn't have been comfortable. The tree had aphids something awful, and the old lady next door would let the ladybugs go every once in a while. I'm not fond of bugs, but Dad taught me that ladybugs are good bugs. When the leaves on the giant maple turned colors and fell, Dad had to work overtime to keep the leaves off the front lawn. He'd go out after work and rake until the sun went down. Sometimes he'd give me the spare rake and I'd give a hand a raking. I don't think I did much good helping as much as I had fun jumping in Dad's huge piles and tossing leaves in the air. He'd bury me in the leaves, and I'd fly out of them, leaves scattering back across the grass. We'd go in hours later, our noses dripping from the cold, leaves still stuck in my hair, and we'd get warm by the big grey stove where I melted my boots by setting them too close to the fire.

Both of my parents grew up on farms, and my grandparents both had gardens when I was growing up. Dad's parents had a huge farm, mostly growing food crops. They had apple trees and a pear tree, and I remember rows of sweet, sun-warmed raspberries finding their way into my mouth, coating both my fingers and my tongue in sugary goodness. More than once, I walked back into the farmhouse with berry stains. Mom's parents had cherry trees, and we'd get to eat as many cherries as we could right off the trees. Yellow and red swirls on the outside, a pit to spit from the inside, what could be better? Grandpa grew rows and rows of corn that we weren't supposed to play in. We did. We tromped all over the garden through the mounds of zucchini and cucumbers, over the carrots and green beans, and behind the pumpkins and squash. Grandpa had a big garden to feed a big family.

They're little memories, small flashes of a life now gone. I don't fit underneath shopping carts anymore, and I think I'd look pretty silly riding in one. We moved away from the house with the giant maple tree. Dad's parents tore out the raspberries, and I don't know if the apple trees are still there. Mom's parents moved away from their huge garden and cherry trees. I don't have any idea why I'm remembering these things now, but I remember.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I didn't mean it like that...

Have you ever thought you said something one way, but what you said came out totally wrong? I can't begin to explain how often this happens to me. One of the reasons I write, and the primary reason why I prefer to talk to people through written language is that I'm much better at explaining things (and myself) through paper. Writing, as easy as that is for me, contrasts my love of public speaking. I suppose I am careful enough with my words that I feel comfortable telling them to a crowd 20,000 people.

But when you put me in a room with four or five of my friends, the words come out differently than I intend. Sometimes, the words tumble upon themselves and the proper inflections get put on the incorrect words. Once in a while, I'll say something like, "I disagree." I will hear, "I disagree, would you like to open that line of conversation up for discussion?" They hear, "I disagree, you're wrong, and your opinions are all crap."

Of course I don't believe anyone has bad opinions. I am comfortable being around people who have opinions that differ from my own. And I'd never tell anyone they were wrong or bad without also giving them a reason as to why I believe the way I do.

I think people misinterpret my questions as defiance. Always skeptical of people, situations, and what I'm seeing, I ask many questions. If I ask, "Why?" I'm generally asking you to further clarify what you're saying rather than being one of those brats that asks "Why?" just because.

I also think people misunderstand my succinct style for indifference or lacking compassion. I don't like to talk to much, and I try hard to avoid talking too much, babbling on and on for no good reason. Sure, sometimes I get on a roll and the words come out quickly and without hesitation--those are the good moments, and often the funny ones. Other times, I'm quiet and don't know the right words. Sometimes I purposely don't say anything, because nothing I can say can possibly help a situation. I try not to give unsolicited advice, too.

Short with people, yes. Terse, sometimes. Outright bitchy... that takes effort, and while I can do it, I don't enjoy it. I'm working on being less blunt and more wordy, but this kind of growth takes time. I've come a long way already. I still need to work on it a lot more.

But this whole communication thing would be so much easier if everyone stopped making assumptions and started asking more questions.

That's my rant for the day, thank you, please drive through.

Monday, November 19, 2007

So much for Etiquette - Part II

I have never had such a lengthy and thoughtful comment on my blog! And I am inspired. It's not the same as our long discussions at lunchtime in high school--but I've missed his humor and intelligence. Thank you, David! Here's my response (in red) to your comment (in black):

Honestly, I don't know which time period I prefer: the simpler one of the past with its refined elegance or the modern age of convenience. On the one hand the past seems more honorable (on the surface), there is the lack of such a depressing media, and hell, even their writing looks better. Their writing style isn't "better" as much as it is "different." The Victorian Era predominantly saw Spencerian handwriting, while we learned Zaner-Blosser handwriting. The style we learned is far more readable to young people and those with poor eyesight. 'Pretty' isn't necessarily 'good.' As for depressing media, I think we are exposed to the horrors of life differently. We aren't losing our children by having them fall under wagon wheels or trampled by horses. We aren't watching people die of influenza nearly as much. But we see other things more readily. Is this bad? Is it necessarily bad to know what happens in the world? Does this ability to perceive our own humanity (and inhumanity) render us less or more human?

On the other, we do have cars today. And more violence. And nuclear weapons. And a code of honor which leaves much to be desired. For all the social injustices which we pride ourselves in eradicating, it hardly seems like we've made much headway in treating each other kindly in our society. We hardly get a smile or "hello how are you." Instead we live in the age of the bumper sticker: I have no time to speak to you (we say as a culture) but kindly read the ass of my car, which invariably condemns your beliefs in favor of my own. Mr. Meek, you swore! You rock. :) That last line left me giggling. We do have cars, and we have nuclear weapons. I disagree about having more violence though. Our types of violence have changed. Our methods of dominating others have changed. Now, people commit murder, the murder is showcased in CSI, and then people know what mistakes to avoid. Criminals are becoming smarter. In true satirical fashion, I blame Hollywood!

We claim to be so far removed from the problems of the past but I truly feel we've made little headway: our inadequacies have merely evolved from the more easily obvious ones of the past. We point the finger to those who have tread before and say "dead, white male fools" with hardly a notice of our own personal evils. How much easier to point the finger to the past in hindsight than envision a more trustworthy and compassionate posterity for ourselves.

There are endless evils to point to in the past but, if we continue to look back and only blame, what have we really accomplished for ourselves. There are positive things to learn from which would greatly benefit our society today. Something as simple as a modern sense of etiquette or at least a sense of proper behavior may not be a bad thing for a people so far removed from common courtesy and common sense. There is much to be desired in our non-traditional age.

(I'm not trying to argue against anything you said...I read your blog and thought hey, I should write something satirical in response. After writing a sentence or two I got into what I was writing. It's not meant to be totally serious but I do lament some things lost to out modern age.)

Well Jaggy, it has been a long time since I have shared some political thoughts with you. Forgive the rushed nature of my comments and the obvious holes in its logic but tell me: what do you think?

David Meek

I've missed you. :)

You raise several good points, and I agree with most of them. I read through the entire thing not realizing it was a satire and took everything you said at face value. Imagine my shock! I'm not exactly a feminist, but I don't think all change has been bad since those "ancient" times. Example? I have a blog and can communicate with the world at a moment's notice my deepest, darkest, innermost thoughts. ...Okay, bad example. The advances of medicine, aerospace technology, and transportation have drastically changed the modern world. I could talk at length with you about military history (wouldn't that be a conversation!) and the advances in warfare tactics... or we could get into the changing role of women in society (not all bad). We could even talk about moving through the Antebellum industrial age into the post-civil-war era changed politics and economics for the better.

But, we agree. So there's no reason for discourse, right? Right? Oh, yeah, you're a history major. Crap. ~hangs head~ Bring it on...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Learning to Relax

I've never been one to "just relax" about much of anything. It's not that I'm always tense, I simply have a hard time relaxing. I'm not ordinarily controlling or dominant (though sometimes I'll play that role out of humor). And I don't generally have a high-stress lifestyle. I just can't relax.

Last night, though, I think I figured it out. None of my friends were in town or available, and I'd watched enough TV for a week by 5pm... my chores were all done, my kitchen was clean, and my belly was full. I thought I was doin' pretty well, but I still didn't feel relaxed. Grrr.

I tried a heating pad, but the nearest available outlet was across the room. I tried letting go of all of my muscles, thinking about each and every one. I even thought about having a drink but wasn't really in the mood. What to do...?

Water isn't really my thing. I don't often like swimming or being in pools or hot tubs. My apartment complex has both--though they're closed for the winter now. I deliberated. Would a bath make me feel relaxed? Would it help? What the heck, I don't have to pay for water here. I drew a hot bath. HOT bath. Too hot, really, as the first two or three minutes made me feel like I was being stewed. The water was high enough to cover me, and I had room to float a bit. I didn't know how to float until about five years ago... so the sensation is still kind of new to me. Sure, it seems innate, but I'd been a sinker until God decided to inflate these frontal flotation devices. ;)

I don't remember how long I laid in the tub: time was nothing. My ears were underwater, the sounds of my heart beating and breathing were the only things on my mind. I was completely and utterly relaxed. 100%. After so long, I was also medium-well done, but I felt good.

And today, I still feel good. A bit girly, a bit silly, and very relaxed. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I Still Look for You

I look for you in the old, yellowing light,
an un-silhouette of your face
when your ghost walks in the room
of the building where we first met.

I hope your eyes catch mine,
that splendid recognition,
but hope is fleeting, and you return
a nod, a faint smile, and a cold shoulder at the same time.

You were the breath and vision
of a young girl’s desire
until you drove away
and drove me away, both of us grieving.

I didn't understand you then,
and I can't hope to reach
you now, but I want you
to know that I still look.

When the night grows dark
and I walk into the shadows
of past lives and long-gone dreams
you're there beside me.

The instant your line
comes into my view, two emotions
tear one another to pieces.
Sometimes I can't decide who wins.

But I still look for you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So much for Etiquette

Wouldn't life be easier if we always knew the appropriate words to say or the proper articles of clothing to wear? I think that would be nice. Sometimes I struggle with words, and I have a difficult time deciding what to wear to semi-formal events. Etiquette books have been around for centuries, and they delve into these topics at length.

One of my favorite things to read about is "traditional" women's customs, specifically etiquette of the Antebellum and Victorian Eras. That is not to say I fancy being so proper, or that I, in any way, attempt to live that lifestyle. I'm entirely too forward and stumbling to pass for a real woman. Reading about the customs, though, is fun. The early 1900's idea of Eugenics is also intriguing, if only for it's unrealistic viewpoints of childhood.

The ideas about food mealtimes astound me! All the rules about what goes where, how to eat, how to chew, and even how to stifle a burp--oy, I just laugh. Menu cards, place settings, and what the waitress should wear... a waitress or butler. Because every home had a maid or two, a nanny, a butler, a footman, and a cook. I can't fathom allowing someone else to clean my house. Yes, I'm a bit picky about how my house is cleaned, but besides that, I believe it is a matter of pride to clean up after myself. No one else should have to do it even if I compensate them.

I recently found myself pouring over the items with which I must furnish a house properly. Each subsection had a title, "Glass," "Wood," "Silver," "China," and so on. I read through it thinking to myself, "China? I'm supposed to have china!? I can't even afford plastic." There was a detailed section about candelabras and candle placement around the home. I doubt there is a part in the books about how I should display my DVD collection...

A section I quite like of Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1948, covers "A Girl on Her Own:"
"It has been estimated that young girls, no matter how seriously they may be working, spend at least half their free time thinking about men. And how right they are! A job may not last a lifetime, but it is always to be hoped that a marriage will. What could be more important, or more worthy of the deepest concentration?"
Now I think about men quite a bit, but 50%? I'm sorry, I don't have that kind of time. I have family concerns, work stuff, and a host of other things that take up my thoughts. Maybe 45% on a good day. ;) A list follows on the next page for "A Lenient Set of Rules" a girl should always follow:
"-Never dine repeatedly with the same married man.
-Never drink enough alcohol to be even slightly affected by it.
-Never allow a man to come into your apartment if you are alone in it...
-Never go to a man's apartment after the dinner hour if he is alone.
-Never go alone with a man to his hotel room.
-Never allow a male guest to stay in your apartment after other guests have left.
-Never stay in a man's apartment after other guests have left.
-Never accept a valuable present from a man or possible beau."
Um, I broke all but three of those this week. Whoops.

I wonder what a proper woman of 1890 would think of me today: pants-wearing, swing dancing, spending time alone with boys, driving a car, eating off paper towels (or worse, with my fingers), handling money, swearing, voting, college-educated, and capable of swinging a hammer with grace. How different the times are, sure... and I have the ability to be a perfectly good woman when I set my mind to it. Still, I wonder about these things.

If only there was an Emily Post article about instant or text messaging etiquette... I know a few people who could use a course or two in that!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Reality?

I am amazed at what makes it into movies these days. Every story, no matter how small, seems to be dramatized.

I watched the last two episodes of Band of Brothers recently with a friend. Easy Company's story is incredible, and I'm so thankful to understand (in a way) what the 506th went through. But having just watched Zodiac, why was that made into a movie? What significance did a serial killer play in the course of U.S. History? What, from today, will be made into a movie of tomorrow? Will Paris Hilton watch someone play her in a feature-length film? Will I have to suffer through that (oh I think NOT)?

Why are "reality shows" called "reality" when they're not? They're game shows. They're not unlike Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit: contestants answer questions or complete tasks to compete for money. Cops is a reality show. The supermarket security cameras are a reality show. Even the news is skewed or sensationalized, and sometimes a story that's completely untrue slides through.

I think that's why I love shows like How it's Made, Unwrapped and Mythbusters. I enjoy watching things that are important, useful, informative, and help me to understand my world a little bit more.

Okay, anything that involves blowing up a cement truck into a zillion pieces has to be reality, right? :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Scott Grimes: Music that Defies Genres

His music makes me happy. His acting makes me laugh, cry, and celebrate. And he's cute! Scott Grimes rocks my world, and he and his musical partner Dave Harris make some incredible tunes.

I don't like loud music, and I'm not fond of instrumental stuff usually... but I'll listen to anything when the time calls for it. Grimes' music is a fun mix of rock and pop, a little soul, and a peppering of swing. It's fast, modern, and is great for listening to on my drive in to work every morning. I got his first album the day it came out, and I believe it's been in my car since that moment, half of the time actually in the CD player. The other half of the time has been split over burned CD mixes or other songs (likely Bobby Darin or Ella Fitzgerald).

The ballads are smooth, somber at times, and hold more emotion in the lyrics than movies can portray. With few other artists do I find comfort in their music. Scott keeps me smiling on those bad days.

Favorite song: From Livin' on the Run, "Hollywood Sign" or "Rock and Roll Girl;" from MySpace Music Player, "Waiting" and "What Love Is."

I can't wait for the second album, although waiting is really all I can do. In case you missed it, Scott Grimes also plays "Dr. Archie Morris" on ER Thursday nights on NBC (shameless plug).

Here's to Scott Grimes and Dave Harris, the dynamic duo who create music that defies any genre. You two are amazing!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Random Questions V

ANGER
1. Are you currently mad at someone?
- I'm nervously disappointed, but I'm not mad.

2. Which family member has the worst temper?
- We don't have tempers really... though making Dad angry isn't something we aspire to.

3. Have you ever thrown something at anyone's face?
- absolutely!

4. Does your face turn red when you're angry?
- not really. I don't get angry often, and anger is usually a secondary response.

5. When you're mad do you prefer to stare angrily or yell?
- I have a sharp tongue, but I work to curb it.

EXCITEMENT
1. Has anyone ever thrown a surprise party for you?
- nope

3. Which of your friends is most excitable?
- Have you ever seen my sister excited about something? Oh man... LOL!

4. If you won a million $
- house, college loan, OPB (because public broadcasting rocks)

5. If you could have anything right now, what would it be?
- The ability to understand the infinite grey areas of life

YOU
1. Name:
- Jaggy, of course

2. Where were you born?
- Corvallis (about 1 mile from where I'm sitting now, actually)

3. What's your main goal in life?
- to be true to myself, live for what is good, and to ask questions

4. Do you want to have children?
- yes, very much so (right after I find someone to help me with that...)

5. How do you want to die?
- painlessly and with my mind intact

OPINIONS
1. Sex before marriage?
- probably not a good idea, and I can't say that I will

2. Lower the drinking age?
- Why have one at all? I know 10-year-olds more capable of drinking responsibly than some senior citizens. I'm more worried about adults drinking and driving than teenagers drinking underage. The legal limit should be .00.

3. Abortion?
- Personally, I wouldn't. I disagree with abortion, but I also don't feel it's my right to judge someone for having to make that decision.

4. Recycling?
- it's an obligation, not a hip new trend, so get over your bad-ass neo-green self

LOVE
1. Do you have a crush?
- Not really, no. I have guy friends that I wouldn't mind if they looked in my direction, but I'm not holding my breath. I have bigger concerns than kindergarten crushes.

2. Who is the best hugger that you know?
- JEFF!

3. Do you believe in love at first sight?
- Anything's possible... but I won't take it to the bank.

LAST
1. Person you saw not in your family?
- a coworker? before that... two friends

2. Person you hugged?
- hmm... Dad, I think.

3. Movie watched?
- The Recruit

4. Song you listened to:
- Scott Grimes' Waiting

TODAY
1. What are you doing now?
- getting ready to go to "Super Amazing Grunting Manly Guy's Night (for girls only)"

2. What are you doing tonight?
- uh, see previous question?

3. What are you going to eat for dinner?
- whatever the girls are fixing for girls' night

TOMORROW
1. Is:
- a work day

2. What are you doing?
- fixing my website's broken links, replacing old files with new ones

CURRENTLY
1. Currently love someone:
- I love several people, but I'm not in love with anyone.

2. Like someone:
- Same as #1, only less passionately.

3. Do they know it?:
- I'm up front with everyone, and anyone should know where they stand with me at any time.

4. Is it a simple or complicated situation?:
- Oh, I think I'm pretty good at complicating the heck out of relationships... but right now, things are simple. I like simple.

5. Does someone like you:
- I never really stopped to think about it. I guess I only care as far as my family and friends, so if they don't like me still, I'm screwed. Guys? Bah.

IN THE LAST MONTH HAVE YOU
1. Had sex?
- uh, that's a negative

2. Bought something?
- entirely too much

3. Gotten sick?
- just over a month ago, yeah

4. Been hugged?
- yup, I'm sure of it. Jeff was here last weekend!

5. Felt stupid?
- this is only supposed to happen monthly? Try hourly...

6. Talked to an ex?
- Of course, more than one, and we had great conversations.

7. Missed someone?
- Every day

8. Failed a test?
- Nope, and I love it.

9. Danced?
- Who me? Dancing is for weirdos. I would never, ever, ever do that. *note sarcasm*

10. Gotten your hair cut?
- Oh yeah, I cut it every two weeks or so.

11. Lied?
- Sure enough, I've lied. I'm awful like that.

UNIQUE
1. Nervous habits?
- I bite, dig, and tear at my cuticles, sometimes until they are raw and bleeding. I also do this when I'm bored. My piano teacher hated me. :)

2. Are you double jointed?
- Seeing as how that's not even an anatomical term, not so much. But I can bend and stretch things pretty far... so I guess, according to common knowledge of that term, yes.

3. Can you roll your tongue?
- I can do some pretty awesome things with my tongue (and I mean that in a totally non-sexual way, you dirty, dirty people)

4. Can you raise one eyebrow?
- yup, and sometimes I raise more than one.

5. Do you make your bed daily?
- surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, yes, and I have no idea why...

6. Do you think you are unique?
- I've been told by more than one person that I march to the beat of my own drummer. Lucky enough for me, I found a few people in that band... and we march to the same drummer... oh, this is gonna get geeky, so I'll stop. Yes, I'm unique, but I'm pretty normal sometimes, too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Productivity Inclined

My mom tells me that I can be incredibly productive when I set my mind to it. My father is a "Productivity Coordinator" for his job, so I suppose getting things done runs in my family. I accomplished a ton this weekend:

-Bought keyboard
-Bought new sunglasses (to replace the last three pairs that all broke or fell apart)
-Bought gas
-Assembled keyboard and determined its living arrangement
-Spent afternoon and evening with Rachel
-Bought two t-shirts that look "soooo gooooood!" (Teen Girl Squad, fyi)
-Cleaned bathroom, including scrubbing the entire shower, shower curtain, and curtain rod (that had some funky brown stuff and red stuff on it when I moved in that I finally took care of)
-Cleaned the kitchen
-Mopped all hard floors
-Vacuumed
-Washed four loads of laundry
-Folded three loads of laundry (the rugs are still hang-drying)
-Set up a budget and started formulating my expenditures
-Balanced my checkbook for September and October
-Blogged (twice!)
-Printed four full-page-size photographs, mounted them on foam-core-board, and hung them
-Went grocery shopping
-Cleaned my desk
-Watched a movie
-Made cookies

I need to have more days like this weekend! Unfortunately, my productivity has meant I haven't been able to sit at the keyboard longer than a minute or two. My back hurts something terrible... and I'm starving.

But I got so much done! YAY!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Piano, Relaxing with Friends... Life is Good.

I finally relaxed and had a fantastic day with two great friends. K and I went to Albany this morning, and I bought a digital keyboard! Specs: 61-key, touch-sensitive keyboard that comes with a stand, sustain pedal, music rest, and can be connected to my computer. And it was less than $100 on a huge sale. I couldn't be more excited--well, other than that I had enough birthday and housewarming money that it didn't cost me anything out-of-pocket. :D

Then, after K left, Rachel came over. We made cookies from scratch, amazing wonderful oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Rachel and I watched Rent again, and we talked and laughed too. I can't believe we've been friends so long--we're still learning things about each other. The moments with her today made me feel good. I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not or try to put on a mask when I'm with her. I don't have to watch what I say or express my opinions carefully... Rachel would probably be mad at me if I wasn't completely honest. (Though I'm still working on learning what constitutes TMI with her, LOL!)

Today was a treat top-to-bottom, exactly what I needed after the last two weeks. I'm looking forward to tomorrow as well: piano playing, laundry, house cleaning, and more piano playing.

If you don't hear from me in the next few days, you can assume I've become attached to my new keyboard and can't be separated for fear of the music spilling onto the floor.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Stop the presses: I can eat a whole sandwich!

I'm going to eat a full meal. Few things grate at me as much as people expecting me to behave or appear in a particular way, especially in an outdated and unrealistic fashion.

I'm female. I have curves. I have beautiful curves. I used to be very thin, almost unhealthy looking, and was gently reminded by a good friend that men like women who look healthy. So I spent two years gaining weight. I don't gain weight easily, but I did it. I'm certainly not a size 0 anymore, and I don't think I'll ever fit into a size 4 again. I am comfortable with my body shape.

But I am not comfortable with people who are surprised that I can eat more than one slice of pizza. I'm anything but gluttonous, however, if I'm hungry, I am going to eat. If I go out for a hamburger at a fast food restaurant, sometimes I'll get two hamburgers and eat them both. If I order a salad, you better believe that I'm capable of finishing that salad.

I know I'm picky about the food I like. I often get tired of eating the same ol' things. But that's my decision. And I don't feel as though I should be made to feel guilty for eating everything on my plate.

The outdated and too-often repeated Victorian idea that women should be ultra-thin, pale, mindless waifs is wrong. I'm not saying being overweight is okay--that's not my argument. I am saying that women shouldn't be looked down upon for eating.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

There is such thing as Too Much of a Good Thing

Whee! Having a social life is so much fun. I love spending time with quality people, learning and growing with them, changing the world one waltz at a time.

I am not, however, enjoying a messy apartment, these huge bags under my eyes, or a refrigerator full of nothing but beer and salsa (neither of which do I like!). I've been on my own for over a month, and I haven't yet figured out how to balance my social life with my work and home responsibilities.

Believe me, it's starting to show.

My hair looks like I walked through a tropical storm and then straight out into the desert. My skin is broken out, and what was once naturally soft and beautiful girly skin has turned into some sort of sandpaper hide. I realize I'm dehydrated, and I'm doing all I can now to fix that, but I shouldn't have let it happen (again) in the first place.

In addition to looking, um, not good... I've started to feel things physically. The lack of sleep and overexertion are taking a toll on my bones. My knees are aching after a quick Lindy, and I get dizzy too fast while dancing and spinning. At least I've been eating fairly well, what with the ultra-rich soups, birthday cakes, cookies, cheesy breadsticks, and Halloween candy the last two weeks... HA! Time for this kid to get back on the veggies and home-cooked wonderfulness.

So I look awful, feel like my body hates me, and haven't slept a full night in two weeks. You think I'd learn, right? You think I'd take a night off and sleep, right?

Damn straight.

Just not tonight. I have important things to d...zzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Blog Year Retrospective #2

Two years as a blogger, a total of 621 posts including this one. 374 of those posts have been in the last year, and I crossed the 50,000 visitor mark at the beginning of this month. What a year it has been!

One year ago, I was living with my parents as a post-college-graduate, working as a temporary employee, still thinking about teaching, and had a boyfriend. My life has done a complete flip-flop. A few things have remained constant, however, and I've learned much.

Blogging has been a challenge and a passion. I'm here every night, working on scraping the thoughts that rattle around into something cohesive, entertaining, and insightful. My blog fell under a Creative Commons License this year, and I upgraded my blogging platform to Vista. A few headaches later, I've learned to get around Vista's quirks. I added a new favicon, too. Blogging allowed me to get to know some awesome people from other parts of the state and even Canada. Thanks to TH, Mom of Three, Mr. Guy, and Elle for their many comments and support. I met TH last spring, and he proved to be a perfect gentleman while I was in Astoria, a trip that was definitely an adventure. TH came to the valley one weekend, and I had a nice time showing him my part of the state. Blogging truly changed my life for the better.

I gained several friends this year, and a few aren't with me anymore. Matthew became engaged, and Jeff moved too far away. Still, with so many changes, I've maintained steady contact with Emily and Rachel, seeing them each about once a month. In addition to friends, I had a bit of luck on the boyfriend scale. The guy I was dating last year at this time went to the wayside a week or two later. I was single but interested in a guy until January when we started dating. Chris was a great friend and boyfriend until March when he ended things. I'm lucky enough to still call him my friend. In fact, I believe I talked to him today. I haven't had any other boyfriends since then, quite possibly my longest stretch without a boyfriend since early in college. The change is nice. I'm confident in myself, and I know who I am. Such are the life lessons I've been fortunate enough to learn.

My family has had some rough moments this last year. In February, my mom's dad went into the hospital and hasn't come home since. He went straight from the hospital to a care facility, and later to a different facility. His dementia and Parkinson's Disease have turned him into someone else. Grandma had several rounds of hospitalization, first for an angioplasty, then later for a perforated bowel and hernia. Needless-to-say, my mother has had her hands full. Her compassion and strength has been an inspiration to me, and I hope I'm as patient as she is when my turn comes. My other Grandma is still doing well. She's nearing 90, and sometimes I worry about her hearing, but she's well otherwise. For that, I can only give thanks. There were good moments, too, this year. My cousin Stacy married a fantastic man, Derek, on St. Patrick's Day. Cousin Cory and his wife, Samantha, had their second child. I got to see a cousin from New York and meet his children for the first time, too.

Work has been a source of intense stress and overwhelming positive notes. I unnecessarily retook the Praxis II essays to finish out my state teaching tests, and didn't know I didn't need the test until after I took it. If I want to teach, I simply have to finish a Master's program. However, since my temporary position turned into a full-time permanent position in March, I've nearly walked away from teaching. As much as I enjoy being in front of students, I do love my job. Unfortunately, I almost lost my job in August, but was relieved of that stress in late October when I became officially official. I've been given great work assignments and get to do some fun things. The work is important for the industry and state, and I look forward to going to work most mornings.

Dancing, that wonderful and ever-evolving source of joy in my life... I've danced as much as possible this year! I went to costume balls as a punk and a Sim, and recently went as a pirate wench. I took a lesson from the Lindy Hop King, Mr. Frankie Manning. I even made it up to Portland a few times, including the Ambassador Ballroom's grand opening. Swing and ballroom dancing keeps me healthy. My style has smoothed out considerably, and I have so much fun every time I'm on the floor.

Even though August and September were stressful months, I did make a day-trip to the central coast with my sister, and I had a great day at OMSI with my family. I was in a minor car accident that left no lasting damage, but the event scared me enough that I'm a much safer driver now (just don't ask my passengers). Throughout the year, I ventured out to go geocaching, nabbing the incredible First Geocache and my 100th find. I had my virgin visit to Powell's City of Books, and I also spent one very fun night lingerie shopping.

The year has been a series of ups and downs, not unlike life. Perhaps the most significant thing in the last twelve months is that I paid off all of my college debt except one loan, saved up for a few months, and moved out of my parents' house in October. I have a beautiful apartment all to myself, a corner of serenity that I call my own.

I have been truly blessed with such a family, with good people as friends, and with a job that I love. Taking this moment to step back and reflect on what the last year has meant feels incredible. I'm ready for another year. I'm ready to grow up a little bit more.

Here's to two years on the blog!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Questioning Online Personas

The online community is full of people hiding behind pseudonyms. We create these fake names to appear anonymous, to perhaps seem like we're more than we are. Avatars allow us to attach pictures to our fake names, thereby adding to our online personas. We blog under our pseudonyms. We attack each other or support one another through these fake identities. We lay claim to a series of words or numbers as extensions of our own selves.

I'm no different. I operate under the identity "Jaggy." I'm not really "Jaggy." My name does not start with a J. No one has actually called me "Jaggy" since high school, and only three people ever used that nickname then. But when I was thinking about what kind of moniker I'd use to pen my blog under, I couldn't help but think back to "Jaggy." I added some numbers to the end just in case the name was already in use elsewhere, not random numbers, but still, some numbers.

The idea of operating under another name has always bothered me. I make a point to be as open and honest with people as possible, yet I don't attach my own name to the things I write here. Seems dishonest. Seems cheap. Perhaps I do cheapen the words by not fully owning them. I don't know. Then again, I'm reminded that safety is a concern. I wouldn't want someone storming my castle for a few words I posted on this obscure corner of the blogosphere. I'd really like to keep the castle-storming to a minimum.

How do you feel about avatars, monikers, pseudonyms, and nom de plumes? Do you feel less honest by blogging under a different or fake name? Do you agree with safety measures (like not using real names or giving away locations)? Where did your online name come from?

Monday, November 05, 2007

So Many Thanks!

To my amazing friends: Emily, Eric, Ian, Jeff, Jenny B, Jenny F, Kevin, and Lucas...

Thank you all so much for making my weekend and birthday fantastic. Rachel will be down next weekend, so early thanks to her, too. Family, of course, not to be last or least, also contributed to a great weekend. THANKS!

Emily and I were taken to dinner by a handsome young gentleman on Saturday night, and seeing him after so long apart this summer made my day. You know who you are, and thank you for paying for our dinners. I hope your birthday in the next week is as great as mine was.

Emily: Thank you so much for the dice game, chocolate, and book. Anyone who combines reading material and chocolate has me pegged. For coming down, for going to the dance, for helping me into and out of the corset... you're incredible!

Jeff: it meant the world to me that you drove down this weekend. It was nice to meet your girlfriend, and I wish you all the best in that regard. :) Thank you for the chocolates, for the hugs, and for being here. I wish you didn't have to live so far away. *hug*

To the gang: you all threw me a fun party, and even though we didn't actually do much, it meant more to me that you were there and present in the moment than any games or activities. Thanks for the chocolates, the other chocolates, the chocolate cake, and the... yeah, that's pretty much the theme. :)

There was a time in my life where I had one friend in the whole world. I didn't spend time with people, and I didn't go anywhere. You have each influenced my life in different ways, and I am blessed that you've done so. More than I can accurately express, thank you for your friendship.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Duct Tape Corset

I can't believe I wore it in public. I can't believe I made it in the first place. What was I thinking!? Oh yeah, I remember... :)

My 24th birthday was celebrated yesterday with both of my favorite things: great music and fast dancing. The theme of the ballroom dance was "pirates." I couldn't have been more pleased with such a great theme on my birthday--a theme that I didn't help pick out (it's like a sign or something). So, in order to costume myself as cheaply as possible, I decided to dress as a wench and make a duct tape corset.

How does one go about making a duct tape corset? First, you have to start with a huge imagination, a sense of adventure, and a trusted friend. I thought about my plan for a few days, then asked my sister if she'd help me construct the skeleton. I stuffed myself into an older bra (why I still had it, I have no clue), and added some extra padding to create monster cleavage. Then, putting my faith in my sister, I allowed her to wrap my torso in plastic wrap. She held the box vertically and I spun around and around like you see in cartoons. We were giggling to no end. It wasn't tight, but it did restrict my breathing a little at this point. Scissors were always on hand just in case. Three or four layers of plastic later, I looked like a twinkie in cellophane. The plastic wrap pushed my great cleavage down a bit, and also gave me quite the uni-boob. We fixed that later.

Step Two: DUCT TAPE! I got my duct tape at the dollar store, $1 for 10 yards of tape. I immediately cut all ten yards of the first roll into 8" to 10" strips. We started at the top and taped downward, covering well above and below the intended bottom and top "seams." To add strength to the corset, as well as giving the image of boning, I had my sister strategically place five drinking straws (the plastic bendy kind). Two went from my belly up under each breast, one went horizontally between those two (to add necessary support under the bustline), and two vertically on each flank upside down to help the back curve in at my waist. We applied five or six additional layers of duct tape over the rest of the corset. I used over 30 yards of silver duct tape. We pulled out all but the last layer of plastic wrap out of the inside of the corset to reduce weight and bulk.

Step Three: Cutting, covering, and corsetting. My sister delicately cut the duct tape and plastic wrap off of me straight up my spine. Whew! I then shaped the top edge creating a slight curve over each breast, the two curves meeting in a modest plunge-V. I cut an inch off each side of the back "seam" to allow room for lacing. I also trimmed off the bottom edge to create a smooth look and curve. The entire corset had to be covered in colored duct tape next. I trimmed another 10 yards of black duct tape and covered every single speck of silver duct tape, including wrapping tape over the edges. Then, in a possible fit of insanity, I added "modesty feathers" across the top of the bust. Two quick notes: first, don't do this in the house. I have red feather bits everywhere, and the vacuum doesn't always pick them up. And second, feathers tickle. A LOT. The entire time I was dancing, I kept itching myself without remembering that the feathers were tickling me, not some creepy-crawly critter.

With the outside covered, and knowing I'd be sweating if I danced while wearing this contraption, I opted to cover the inside of the corset. I found some t-shirts very cheap at a craft store and bought a kid's large t-shirt. I split the shirt up the back and splayed it open on top of the side of the corset. Using a sort of dead-reckoning, I trimmed the shirt to fit inside and adhered it with, what else, duct tape all around the edges. I used the bottom edge of the shirt as the bottom edge in the corset--this proved a bit itchy most of the night. Suggest trimming the shirt seams out entirely.

So the corset was covered, feathered, and lined. How the heck was I going to keep it on? I bought grommets at the craft store and hammered them in to pre-punched holes (please buy a new hole punch--it was incredibly difficult to get a dull hole punch to go through the shirt on the back edges). Then, using what manual dexterity I had left, I laced six yards of black ribbon through the holes. Voila! A duct tape corset.

I covered the half-inch of bare skin between the corset and my pants with a fleece scarf from the dollar store (even though I'm cool with a bare belly, some people have a problem with that, and I didn't want to offend anyone). Emily helped me put the corset on last night, and she laced it perfectly. It was hot, indeed, and a few songs had me wanting more room to breathe, but I didn't have too much problem. The corset fit impeccably, as it was made from my own body's shape. The straws held nicely. The only change I'd make would be using a real bra under the corset, and then I'd simply tape over that. Better support, better shape. But OH! what a way to spend my 24th!

Admission to a pirate-themed ballroom dance: $5. (Thanks, Jenny!)
Total cost of supplies: $15.
Number of times I hammered my finger setting grommets: 20.
The look on people's faces as they realized I was wearing a duct tape corset: priceless.

Are your Dinkles showing?

I've spent some cold nights on a football field, and I've endured cold walks across campus that have left me breathless and chilled to my core. But today, sitting in Reser Stadium watching high school bands at OSUMBC... today is the coldest I think I've ever been.

You wouldn't think I'd be so cold just sitting in the breezy shade on a 40°F morning--right? I was wearing quite a few clothes: blue jeans, polyester undershirt, sweat shirt, two-layer winter coat, and two hats. The bad news is that my hair was wet for most of the morning, so I was losing a lot of heat through my head. I shared a fleece-lined canvas stadium blanket with my dad and sister, and we were still frozen. We had padded stadium seats, extra cushions, and were pretty high up in the stands, but none of that seemed to help. We were cold.

The bands were all very good, but three or four were most impressive to me. I loved Southridge's show, and Tigard did a great job. Sprague's performance sent chills down my spine. The best band of the day, and unfortunately the judges didn't agree, had to be Astoria's band. They rocked! Most bands there were competing with about 100 students and color guard, but Astoria's band and one color guard person totaled seventeen people. Their sound was good, and they had a fun show. They weren't out to be the best or the most flashy or loudest--when your band is that small, you go to go. I remember that feeling, and I support the smallest bands that have such soul.

We were in the stadium over eight hours, and I tried to move around once after my feet turned into frozen blocks attached to my legs. It didn't go well. We suffered in the name of experiencing great music, a slough of fun performances, and being able to say we went.

More about the birthday adventures to come, but I am so tired from shivering all day. "Tired" doesn't even begin to touch my exhaustion.

Oh, before I forget! Are your Dinkles showing? ;)

Friday, November 02, 2007

My friend Ruth

Coffee black, oatmeal with raisins, toast, and two slices of bacon. Serve with a side of laughter, a warm hug, and wonderful teases. My dear Ruth, I will miss you.

Ruth dressed impeccably. Every day, she wore these polyester pants and button-down tops that I'm sure hadn't faded one bit in their forty years of washing and wearing. Her hair was always in place, a perfect halo of white curls around her face. She couldn't see very well, but her poor vision never kept her from looking her best. I'm pretty sure those polyester clothes will survive the next ice age.

She teased me endlessly. I would share my college adventures with her, my boy woes, and my dancing events. She'd always tell me to be good, to stay out of trouble, to stay away from alcohol, and to have faith that a good man would someday find me. All good advice, to be sure, but it meant more coming from her than most other people. Ruth knew what each of those things meant. She was a strong woman. She was a stubborn woman. Her teasing and my witty retorts left us both in stitches some mornings.

My family has many ties to her family, more than I can name here, and I know my family is not the only one whose lives Ruth has touched. Even after I stopped working in the retirement facility, I'd go back and see her every once in a while. Her health failed several times, but her spirit and her laughter made up for any illness.

Ruth's sense of humor stretched to everyone she met. She called things funny names, but I always knew what she meant. For example, chicken wings and legs weren't "wings" and "legs," they were "fliers" and "trotters." And even though she shouldn't, she had a bit of a sweet tooth. More than once, we talked over a couple pieces of cake or brownies.

I remember one early morning when she came down to breakfast. I must not have been very cheery because she was pointing a finger at me. I walked over to hand her some coffee, and before I knew what was happening, she let out a hearty, "ARRRRR!" Ruth understood that, even though she was 90 years old physically, she was still 10 at heart. She knew I was into the Hollywood romanticized pirate thing, and she knew being completely silly would make me snap out of it. Can you imagine a small and frail old woman letting out such a sound? Ruth reminded me to not take life so seriously.

While her lessons continue to educate me in the ways of things, the memory of Ruth's courage and devotion bring me comfort. She was my friend.

Ruth: I know you don't want a service or any fuss over you, and I'm sure knowing I'm writing this post about you isn't making you very happy. Few people touched me as deeply and immediately as you did, and I am going to miss you. Rest well. Tomorrow night, I waltz for you.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Caught in the Act of Blogging (by my Father!)

One of my most favorite days of the year is my birthday--which is this Saturday. Lucky for me, the Oregon State University Marching Band Championships usually occur the weekend before or after my birthday. This year, they're right on it! My sister and I are planning to spend our Saturday sitting in Reser Stadium freezing our butts off while watching high schoolers play their guts out. What better way to spend a beautiful autumn day?

Dad was thinking about going with us. He was at work today, looking up the OSUMBC schedule when he found my blog on the top ten of Google's search results. He immediately called me to tell me he'd spotted my blog.

That's right, my father who has never read my blog found it by searching for a marching band competition acronym.

And then he called me to brag about it.

That's my Dad.