Saturday, May 31, 2008

"So, Jaggy, what did your parents think of your boyfriend?"

I took my boyfriend to meet my parents last weekend, and all of my friends have asked me that question. They all want to know if my parents liked him, what they thought, what they said... I hate to let people down, but my parents didn't really say anything. Here's why:

If I asked my parents what they thought of him, and they responded, "We don't like him," how is that going to impact my relationship with them or him? Do I have to break up with him simply because my parents don't like him? Do I have to avoid my parents if I choose to stay with him?

If I asked my parents what they thought of him, and they responded, "We really like him," but after a few weeks/months I decide I don't like him anymore, am I obligated to give him "one more chance" simply because they do like him? How much weight do I need to put on what my parents think?

My parents don't say much about the guys in my life. They trust me to find quality people and spend my time being happy with those around me. They don't feel the need to approve every friend, and I don't feel obligated to introduce every friend to them. Yes, "meeting the parents" is a big step, and I really wanted my boyfriend to meet my parents. Family is incredibly important to me, and where I came from is a huge part of me. Taking him home is one way of sharing another part of me with him.

In any case, things did go well. I'm glad we had the experience, that the first meeting is over, and that my parents do like him. I mean, c'mon, how could they not? :)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Diagnosis: "Rectal Encephalopathy" Prognosis: "Continued Stupidity"

I don't blog about work very often, partly because it's not right, and partly because I don't have much to say. But this week, I answered the phone when one man called, and the conversation I had with him was priceless. My heart goes out to the poor IT slaves who suffer with stupid questions now... I feel your pain.

Earlier this year, I designed a new website for my company (without being compensated thus far, I might add). I'm definitely not a professional at web design, but I can hack through some basic HTML and CSS, and the new site looks like someone spent some time on it. It works, and that's really what we needed more than anything. So this week, a very nice man called to say, "Your website sucks! I can't get it to work." Uh... thanks? What follows is a transcript as close as I can recall:

Me: "Sir, what web browser are you using to access our website?"
Nice man: "The Internet."
Me: "Are you using Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox?"
Nice man: "I'm using the Internet."
Me: "I realize that, sir, but what browser are you using?"
Nice man: "The INTERNET."
Me: "Okay, sir, when you clicked on an icon to get to the Internet, what color was the icon? Was it a blue 'e'?"
Nice man: "Yes! That's the IN-TER-NET."
Me: "That's Internet Explorer, and our website is not optimized to work with that browser. If you switch to Firefox, Safari, or Opera, you'll be able to access all of our website's features."

I love my job. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trying to Become Un-Smelly

On most days, my goal is to simply not smell. I don't care if I smell good as long as I don't smell bad. If I shower every day and don't get too sweaty at any point, this is absolutely not a problem. But, I enjoy hiking and dancing and being generally active enough to get icky and stinky. Sure, I'm a girl, and I "glisten," okay?

Lately, my usual deodorant isn't working with me. Either I'm allergic to it, or the product has expired or sat on the shelf too long or something, but ~tears in the eyes~ oh my! I love the smell for about ten seconds, and then WHAM! horrible stench. I tried tossing the older product for a newer version of the same thing, but the smell is still awful. SO! Now that you know entirely too much about my personal life...

The good news is that I have switched to something different. It's actually cheaper and has a very good rating on EPA's Skin Deep website. The site rates different cosmetic and personal care products for safety of use (both men's and women's products). As someone sensitive to skin care products (stupid "fragrance" and "organic" ingredients), I've had to learn the hard way too many times that I can't use one product or another. I was very, very excited to find that my new antiperspirant is well-rated and safe for me to use. Most of my make-up rated well, also. It's kind of comforting to know that sort of information.

Before I forget: please don't send me remedies or suggestions that Tom's of Maine deodorants are "the best." The "natural" products are the ones that seem to make me smell worse. Secret and Dove deodorants also react with my skin. As a social dancer, that's bad. However, if you have tried a product that does work for you, let me know! Oh, and yes, guys, I'm sure your products work great, but in case you missed it, I'm a girl. I use GIRLY products.

I really don't like the word "girl."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Little Golden Books and others of my childhood

My friends were recently talking about how their parents taught them prayers or sang lullabies and other pre-bedtime rituals when they were young. For the life of me, I could not remember what my parents did. As I was wiki-surfing last night, I ran across a listing of nursery rhymes and found a link to the Little Golden Books wiki page. I remembered. We read. They read to me every night, pointing to the words as they said them. When I saw the nursery rhymes, I could recite most of them from memory as soon as I heard the titles, some of them I hadn't recited in twenty years. I remember those three little kittens and their dirty mittens. I remember that pokey little puppy. And so many times growing up, I heard about the little red hen. The Golden Books used to come with diapers, I think, or else they mysteriously appeared when Mom and Dad would come home from the store when buying diapers... I always put the two together for some reason.

As I grew up, my parents also bought The Berenstain Bears books and Mercer Mayer's Little Critter books. Our copy of Goodnight Moon is tattered and worn. My Courderoy book and The Ox Cart Man are well-loved. Love You Forever, Strega Nona, and The Quilt Story were among my childhood favorites, too.

My parents read every night, and after a while I could recite the books faster than they could read them. They'd point to a word and I'd know exactly what the word was without knowing how to read. Where's Goldie was one of those books I knew top-to-bottom. Go Dog Go! was another. When I wasn't ready for bed, I'd beg them to let me stay up and watch my one little-kid video, Wee Sing Together. I am not kidding when I say that tape almost melted. I can sing every song from that movie to this day.

I still have every one of those books, and I can't wait to pass them on to my own children in the same perfect way my parents did for me.

"A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Eucharist and Annoying Christian Habits (mutually exclusive topics)

You don't really have any idea how much you're putting yourself on the line until you open yourself to criticism about your own faith. Blogging about religion is scary. It is the second-to-final frontier on my blog (because I still refuse to write about politics). As always, my aim is not to convert or convince. I'm here to share: feel free to stop reading anytime.

As I continue to learn about Christianity both inside the church and as an outsider looking in, a few topics keep coming up in the back of my mind. I'd like to take this post as an opportunity to discuss two of them: The Eucharist and my most recent Christian observations.

I've been attending a Catholic church for a few months. This experience challenges me to see past the misgivings of protestantism, forces me to admit flaws in my faith, and brings a quiet peace. I adore the music, and I'm finally starting to remember the order of mass each week. The point of mass, however, is the Eucharist. Because I haven't been baptized as a Catholic (or anything else), I am not allowed to share in the body and blood of Christ. If the point of mass is to share in the Eucharist, and I'm not allowed to do so, going seems to be a bit of a chore, right? When everyone else goes forward to participate, I remain seated. Sure, I could walk forward and be blessed by the priest, but the fact remains that I'm still an outsider. Part of me desires to share in communion, and part of me remains true to my protestant roots that anyone who believes ought to be able to partake in the bread and wine. I don't know how to reconcile these thoughts in my head or heart. I fully respect the Catholic tradition in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The church holds it as the most important sacrament--I'm not about to argue. I believe in the mystery of transubstantiation (Jesus didn't say, "This is a symbol..."), and I understand how much the Eucharist means. I'm not sure what to do or what to think beyond that...

~insert elegant transition here~

Believing in a scientific approach to observation (objective, with questions and hypothesis), I've had the opportunity to experience Christians as both an insider and an outsider. Though I am a Christian, I am not a formally baptized one. Therefore, I am accepted by some and rejected by others. One might think, however, that Christians ought to be accepting of all people. I haven't found this to be true... ever. My observations have led me to conclude that the more someone goes to church and believes in abhorring anything different that who they are or what they believe, the more likely they are to not see the good in someone or something. These people become so wrapped up in making a point about their own holiness that they miss celebrating life with everyone. They'll offer up, "It's such a beautiful day. I took time to smell the roses!" but wouldn't dare say, "It's such a beautiful day. My male friends were civilly joined and are beginning their lives together!" The tragedy is not that two guys can share insurance cards now (it's just an example, one out of many), but that some people are so narrow-minded that they believe their church and what they think has the right to govern the lives of others. Another example would be modes of dress, and yet another would be what people consider "appropriate" movie content. These limiting Christians are missing such beautiful, compelling, often Christian-themed storylines simply because of one swear word or one kiss or one faked death. My sample size is limited to people in my area, though, so it's possible that I happen to live in a narrow-minded suburb of the world at large (not unlikely, actually).

Before you believe I'm trying to elevate myself by saying I'm 100% accepting and perfect, please let me admit that I have my own deep faults. My growth as a Christian and human is my own plight. I don't know how I'm going to reconcile my differing viewpoints about communion, but I have faith that an answer will come to me. I don't know how to help people become more accepting and respectful--if that is even my battle to fight. I don't have it all figured out.

I'm not sure I have any of it figured out. The journey continues...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Meeting the Parents

The longest drive ever. Nerves going haywire. Panic hiding on the edges of every thought. This was "meet the parents" weekend for both my boyfriend and me. The hardest part is over now, though, and I think we sailed through unscathed. Unfortunately, that's not what we were thinking before or during those precarious moments.

We didn't really plan things this way, but sometimes the things you plan and reality turn out differently. On Saturday, I was planning to have a quiet evening with some girlfriends, but since the boy's car is in the shop, he needed a ride back to town. I offered to retrieve him from Salem. He tried to set up dinner with some of his friends, but that wasn't in the cards. As fate would have it, I met up with him at his parents' house, and then we all went to dinner. Cue interview questions... I'd worked out a few good answers in my head on the drive up (because explaining to people what I do all day is like pulling teeth for me). In the end, I found his parents to be gracious and welcoming. Dinner was great. I'm very glad I had the opportunity to meet them.

My parents' planned weekend out of town didn't happen either. Fate, doing it's ornery thing, would have us in Lebanon while my parents were home. We drove over in the early afternoon and went hiking at McDowell Creek Park (one of Jaggy's favorite places in the world). The water was pretty high still with the recent sky irrigation. We hiked all over, even to the top of the high falls (~gasp~ too many stairs ~pant~). The overcast day kept things cool, and I am so glad he was able to visit this small slice of what I call home. We drove back to town and out past my family's farm before looping back to my parents' house. Then, after brief introductions, I dragged him away for a walk down to the riverbank along the South Santiam. Even though the water was very, very high for this time of year, we were able to find a dry bank to sit on and view the river. Mom had dinner ready just as we got back. I couldn't (and wouldn't dare) say a bad thing about Mom's spaghetti... other than that I'm still mad that I can't replicate it. My boyfriend even made Dad laugh (bonus points), so I have a feeling things went very well. We were back in town for church Sunday night, both of us tired from hiking and having our bellies full.

"Meet the parents" weekend is over. It's amazing how much you re-examine in these kinds of moments. I learned a lot about my boyfriend and myself in two days. I'm not sure I'd trade that for anything.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Blogging Process

People have asked me where my blog post ideas come from, and I can't give a quick answer. I'm inspired by history, by good conversation, by funny events, and by movies. If I'm having trouble fleshing out a post, I'll go take a shower and stew on it in there. Unfortunately, some of what I come up with in the shower doesn't stick in my head long enough to hit the blogosphere--though I'm sure it's best sometimes that it doesn't. This blog would be much more terse and pointed if I didn't sit on things for a bit.

Writing my posts can be an adventure. Sometimes I write the whole post in one shot. I sit down and the words fly off my fingers like pearly bits of un-wisdom. Other times I'll write my thoughts in an outline form with simple phrases and reminders. Either method works, but the second method probably results in better posts. Once in a while, I'll visually draw out how I want my post to be organized, and even more rarely I'll piece together more than one post to make my thoughts coherent. I'm not a fan of more than two drafts, though. Too much work!

Sometimes I jot down notes on post-its or index cards and keep them for later that way. I always have a little index file with me and a pen so I can take notes about subjects I want to write. Many of the notes never make it into full posts. They're still sitting there waiting to be fleshed out.

I don't keep a huge log of posts waiting to be published. Usually I write the post immediately before posting. Occasionally, I'll write two posts at a time and save one for another night. Rarely will I have more than five finished posts on the back burner. However, I do write posts that I have no intention of publishing. I probably have fifty drafts or completed posts that will never become part of the blogosphere. They're musings, rants, and silly thoughts I had to get out but don't necessarily want anyone to read. I know I'm not alone in that department.

Even though I love writing and do so every day, writing is not always easy for me. I struggle to get the words out the way I want them to read. On some days, the writer's block and inability to sound intelligent overwhelms me. Blogging is always an effort, and it's also a labor of love.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Un-Magic 94

There should be a law against playing the same 100 songs over and over and over every day. All day at work, my boss keeps a radio in her office tuned to 94.5 KMGE, "Magic 94." I used to like this radio station, and I have to admit they do a good job of keeping people updated during inclement weather or other breaking news stories. But the music never changes. About 2pm every day, I feel like taking The Eagles to their limit one more time...

Not only that, but the music is down very low. If it's quiet in my office, I can usually hear the music okay. When the phone rings or something happens to cause other background noise, I can only hear the bass line and maybe some high vocals. Sometimes I'll think I'm hearing one song and pop my head closer to the door and realize I've been humming a totally different song in my head than the one that's actually playing on the radio. I know, I'm so weird.

In the afternoons, when I'm not required to answer the phone every time it rings (we job-share that duty, sort of), and when it's not busy, I plug in some headphones and only use one ear piece so that I can hear what's going on around me. Wednesday, I was listening to some swing music (getting in the mood for dancing, of course) when I unplugged my headphones to go home for the day. Just as I unplugged them and the music stopped, I could hear the same song coming from the next office. Talk about scary and funny at the same time...

Sometimes I get home at night and can't wait to sit in a quiet apartment without the constant droning of the radio. Is that normal? I don't know, but I don't much care if it means not having to listen to any more soft rock and the Backstreet Boys.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pictures from a recent adventure at OSU

The words aren't coming to me tonight, so I am sharing some pictures. Flowers on campus are in full bloom right now, and I took this picture while geocaching with some friends. The second picture is of the Memorial Union's main floor. The third is of some phone booths tucked away in a corner, small relics of OSU's technological history. Fun day with friends and my camera!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Music Escapes Me

I went to campus last night to play one of the pianos there, and I'm a bit disappointed in my musical talent lately. While I have a keyboard in my apartment, I don't have or make time to play it often. Last night must have also been an "off" night or something, because I couldn't even get a single scale in without a mistake. Every song was bad. It's like I forgot how to read music or something.

The piano is one of my escapes, one of my happy places. I can sit there for hours with good music. Unfortunately, my lack of skill and patience render me inept at most songs, but I still try. My back can't take piano benches for more than half an hour anymore (seriously, did they make those things harder in the last five years?). I'm doing all I can to blame my imperfections on things around me, but in the end, it's my own fault I'm not better. I could play better, but the desire and time commitment are two things I haven't been able to muster lately.

When I was in high school, someone told me I wouldn't have time to play the piano when I was in college. They were wrong. I played nearly every day all four years. But now that I'm living on my own and have chores and duties and work, I really don't have time like I'd hoped. These are supposed to be some of the best years of my life, yet I can't find fifteen minutes every day to sit with the black and white keys of my keyboard.

Sometimes I feel like I'm not cut out for this whole "adult" thing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Prank that Keeps on Pranking

Waaaaay back in the day when I lived with two fabulous girls in a house during our wild college days (ok, three years ago, and they weren't wild days), we often pranked each other. They only got me once, but that one prank is STILL coming back to haunt me. What'd they do?

These two dear, sweet, innocent roommates placed two decks of playing cards all over my bedroom. Then, they covered every flat surface with napkins and drinking straws. I came home to find my room a mess and an underwear drawer full of jacks and kings. Because obviously that's where all the guys would hang out, right? Harumph!

The napkins and straws were easy enough to clean up, but the cards were more tricky. I was in a bad mood when I got home, and realizing I'd have to do some searching for these cards didn't sit well with me. The girls didn't prank me again.

BUT! Even though I found a majority of the cards that evening, a few escaped me. I found one or two over the next few weeks, and then they'd trickle in one at a time over the next six months. After college, I moved home, so I had to clean everything out. I found a couple more of these elusive playing cards. Then, I moved out last year. I found yet another card hidden deep in my dresser.

It happened again tonight. I was digging through a pile of old shirts when I touched something flat and smooth (which is scary as hell when you're going through old clothes, let me tell you). Carefully turning the card over, I couldn't help but smile as I looked upon a jack of spades. I never thought I'd be able to smile at such an ornery prank, but after tonight, I realize I can.

Girls, you got me good. Thanks. :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rave Dance

For the rave-themed dance, I decked out my costume/clothes in many glow-bracelets (glo-bracelets, whatever). When I got home, they were still glowing strong, so I attacked them with my camera. The first picture is a 15-second exposure where I took several 2-to-5 second shots and moved the camera around with the shutter open.

The second picture was achieved much the same way, but instead of following a pattern or line, I simply moved the camera around in many short, choppy movements for about 2 seconds each.

The last picture was a fun set-up. I stacked all of the bracelets up into a line and allowed them to fall over to one side. After that, I set the camera at the open end and left the shutter open for about five seconds. As you can see, the liquid doesn't fill the bracelets entirely (otherwise they'd burst when you crack them to light them).

In all, I took pictures for a good half-hour. Not often do I get to play with a photo wherein the subject provides its own light. Lots of fun, and I think they're pretty!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rave Reviews (of friends and dancing)

Yesterday was incredible start to finish. I had more fun than I've had in eons, and I can only hope the trend continues. My fantastic day was not due to incoming funds, glamorous events, or any special occasion. In it's simplicity and honesty, the day (though entirely too warm) was perfect.

My afternoon included lunch out and looooooong conversations with Matthew. He drove up from Eugene to spend part of the day with me. Because his wife was busy, we were able to hang out more or less by ourselves. While I would have, in no way, minded if his wife had joined us (she's pretty awesome), I must admit it was nice to have him to myself. He's me best bud, and our conversation was really fun. I've missed being able to talk about anything and everything without worrying how what I say is being interpreted. That kind of friendship is rare, and I feel so lucky he's been a part of my life since childhood. Well, until he started playing the piano and made me feel like a musical dunce... such talent, such skill... ugh. But I'm so proud if him!

After he left, I threw together a costume for the dance that night. Emily came down for the dance and met me at my apartment. We got ready, ate a quick dinner, and headed off for what amounted to an incredibly warm building full of already-sweating dancers. I met up with another old friend at the dance and was able to reconnect with him as well. Talk about good people all around me... yesterday was out-of-this-world wonderful. :)

The dance theme was "Technicolor rave." My costume was odd to say the least. I studded my parachute pants and white t-shirt with safety pins, smeared thick black eyeliner on my eyes, and attached as many glo-bracelets as I could to myself. I had twelve bracelet rings hanging off the bottom edge of my shirt, one off either pocket on my pants, two or three on each arm, and two glo-necklaces around my neck. It would be safe to say I lit up the dance floor in my own special way. HA! Oh, and my hair looked wet all night thanks to a generous helping of pomade (and sweat, sure). All of my rave research paid off, and I thought my look was pretty good. A few people had incredible rave costumes, but with my budget, I'm not displeased.

And to top it all off, I actually think I danced pretty well. I relaxed into the songs, found a beat, and felt like a dancer. I don't do that much: my body is not a dancer's body, and I certainly don't move like a dancer. I still don't identify as a dancer. I don't even refer to myself a dancer. Last night, either the stars aligned, or I was on a super-high from the recharging of great friends... Jaggy got her groove back.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Shirtless O'Clock

That's the time of day when it's too hot for clothes. Back in college (oh so many years ago, lol), my roommate and I would get home from class or work, strip down to our jeans and bras, make frozen hard lemonades, and sip them in the stagnant air of the front room. Sometimes our male roommate would come home and find us both lounging in our bikini tops and shorts on the couch, drinks in hand, and he'd grab a beer and join us. Shirtless o'clock is a great time of the day.

Today, I'm not so lucky to have awesome roommates with which to share my overheated woes. It's 85° in my apartment with no AC to be found and warm air filtering through a screen-covered window. My parents graciously sent an oscillating fan over via my sister today, and I stripped down to linen pants and a tank top (THANK YOU!). Jaggy does not fair well in warm weather.

In other news... blah, it's Friday, the week is over, and I've done nothing important outside of work. There is an ice-cold root beer ready and waiting, and instead of filling myself with the frothy wonderfulness, I'm blogging. Because I'm too hot to move.

Is it shirtless o'clock yet?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Power Struggles

they ask me about my
begging the
of sanity
..........not listening to the words
.....coming out of mouth
smiting scowls
pointing fingers
......that look of
...............disappointment and
like a razor tongue
reaching through bruised
.....deep within a core
beaten down
.....with passivity
a whole conglomeration of
.....left to ferment
to become the same
..........evil awfulness
that shadows light
of hope
and the storm steams over
.....weighty irons undoing
..........every fold
revealing flaws
.....destroying fabric
into threads
that wither
and knot again

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Post for the Women

Changing a woman's personal hygiene product is a bad idea, just in case anyone was wondering. The research involved in finding the perfect products can be everything from uncomfortable to downright embarrassing. I know. I've done a lot of research.

Brand loyalty is one thing. I tend to buy the same brands of jeans and shirts and shoes. When it comes to those items, however, brand loyalty doesn't quite cover how I feel. I will only buy certain brands, no exceptions allowed. It's not about buying the most expensive or cheapest or prettiest product: I want something that gets the job done.

It's not like I'm against improving a product either. I'm all for updating design, as long as it doesn't compromise function. Like changing the color of the box: it's okay if you go from green to dark green... but when I walk in the store and can't find what I'm looking for because you changed the entire color scheme, I'm going to get frustrated!

Free samples are nice, though, and I appreciate companies allowing me to do research on their products without having to pay for them.

My one other gripe: inside every box of tampons, there is a little instruction sheet. I realize that there is a first time for every woman, but once you know, you don't forget. Why do we need to have the instruction sheets inside EVERY box? Can't there be a single "starter kit" or something with the instructions and then just regular boxes for the rest of us? Think about all the wasted paper and ink... and you know it's not going to be recycled. Because really, why would you have a recycling bin in the bathroom?

I hate it when they change my products. That is so not cool.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Proust Questionnaire from Inside the Actor's Studio

From Inside the Actor's Studio, I present the Proust Questionnaire with my own answers:

1. What is your favorite word?
Swoon. I like how it sounds, and I think it could mean so much more if we let it. "That was swoontastic!" or "He's swoony." It has such a ring to it.

2. What is your least favorite word?
Sleuthing. Why on earth did such an awesome activity get such a horrible title?

3. What turns you on?
Crafting, creating, brainstorming... I love the act of making things.

4. What turns you off?
Narrow-mindedness and being closed to hearing new ideas, especially avoiding Truth and the things that make someone uncomfortable.

5. What sound or noise do you love?
As an Oregonian, it is my duty to say "the rain." I love hearing it on the roof and in puddles. I also get a lift from hearing a perfectly tuned piano being played well. My most favorite sound, though, is silence. I like being in quiet areas more than loud ones.

6. What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of a metal spoon clunking against the bottom of a tin can as you scrape the last bits out of the can. And real vomiting noises are bad, too.

7. What is your favorite curse word?
"Shit-ass" holds a special place in my heart. I'm a big fan of "damn" as well.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I still want to be a meteorologist. I'd love to chase storms and be scientific and nerdy and get paid to do it. For as much as technology has improved our lives (or not, you decide), we still look to the sky to see what we ought to wear every day. It's humbling to know that even though we think we've mastered the earth, Mother Nature reins supreme.

9. What profession would you not like to do?
You know that show on Discovery Channel, Dirty Jobs? Think about it: for a living, that guy does some of the nastiest jobs on earth. Every day. Not just one dirty job, but all of them. Now think about his cameramen. They go to all the same places, and sometimes they're stuck in the same muck and stink. But they don't get the celebrity status, and they probably don't get the same wages. No way am I doing that job.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
This is kind of a trick question that I've been working on a response to for several days. First, I thought Saint Peter was at the Pearly Gates. Don't I have to get through that line first? And second, I think most people who answer this question give their answer to "What do you think God will say when you reach the Pearly Gates?" What would I like to hear God say? "Welcome! Your family is waiting to the right, and here is your Steinway grand piano." But what do I think God will really say? "Go to Hell, go directly to Hell, do not pass 'go,' do not collect $200." Okay, maybe not that, but according to one bit of scripture, since I've broken a few of those commandment thingies, I'm toast. According to other scripture, since I believe in Jesus and that He died for me, I'm golden. It's not that easy, I know. I'm not perfect, and I'm going to make more mistakes. In all truth, my hope for the afterlife falls a distant second to living the life I'm in right now. So when I get there to the Pearly Gates and finally meet The Big Guy, my hope is that He puts out His hand and simply nods me into Heaven.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #8

His giggle stole my heart. His boyish charm and keen sense of humor had me, too. But he refused to date me. I wasn't like all the other girls, and we had differences of opinion about some big stuff. In the end, those differences were not the things that spelled our demise. It just didn't work.

Chris and I met in Lindy Hop class (you can read about that here), and we didn't talk much the summer after class let out. He was in Europe, and I was looking for a job. Six months later (with him stateside and me employed), we started hanging out at dances. Our Lindy rhythms clicked amazingly well (even today), and one talk led to another. I told my mom I'd never date him, though. And he said he wouldn't date me either. Flat out, just said it. So I stacked the deck. I gave him every reason to want to date me. Whatever I did worked (sorry, Mom). We started dating!

The relationship was fantastic. We got along very well, and we laughed often. But eating together was a chore since we like opposite foods, and while we enjoy the same kinds of movies, we didn't get much time to watch them. He was always busy, had tons of other friends, and liked to go wild on the weekends (casually, not crazy). My ho-hum attitude didn't quite mesh with his lifestyle. Still, the laughter was awesome. I loved being able to be myself with him.

Two months later, I got a call asking if we could talk. An hour later, we were both single. I wish I knew what prompted the end, but it doesn't really matter. We were terribly different for having so much in common. I thought I could see things working out better than they did, and it really hurt when we broke up. I hadn't let someone that close to me in a long time. The wave was great while it lasted...

Our relationship lasted a short two months, but in that time I grew miles. He forced me out of my narrow social bubble into the wide-open world of people. As a result, I'm far more outgoing now than I ever was. He's even amazed at the progress. I can't say I eat any more foods, but I'm working on a few. Chris and I still talk often. I dance with him when I can, and I enjoy laughing with him. We make good friends, and I'm glad that we're both able to be okay with that status.

Thus draws a conclusion The Boyfriend Chronicles. Hopefully I won't have to add any more guys to the list! Now about The Engagement Report... I'd love to write that one. ;)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Down, Bad Boys

He's the dream every woman wants: black leather jacket stretched tight over a crisp white t-shirt, worn blue jeans, and rugged looks that could kill. He's the bad boy exuding untamed masculinity. He's the guy with a motorcycle, a gun on his hip, and a cigarette that doesn't hurt anyone. He's too cool for everything, and he knows it.

It may not come as a shock to anyone, but my ideal guy is anything but a "bad boy." I like motorcycles, sure, but they have drawbacks just like everything else. The tough guys don't open up or want to have real conversations. They don't tell you what they're doing, and they don't try to include others in their plans. All that manliness and testosterone can't be good for a person, and I certainly wouldn't want to live with it.

Now I'm not going after the opposite either. I like confidence and the ability to make a decision, of course! I'm not really a romantic, and I don't want to be showered with gifts all the time (that much more to garage sale later, right?). But I can't handle a guy who clings to me, who worships me, who lives solely for me. I don't care to be quoted poetry, and I certainly don't want a guy who knows more about fashion than I do.

I don't appreciate the typical gender roles. I'm not into guys who pretend to be cool, smooth, suave dudes, and I don't like it when a guy is girly. To me, it's more about respect, balance, and compromise. Bottom line: when it comes to guys, I'll take an altar boy over a bad boy any day.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #7

At twenty-two, I was not ready to be the mother of a twelve-year-old. How could I possibly discipline a child more than half my own age? His younger brother was ten. Two kids. A mother. At twenty-two. Um, yeah, as the saying goes, "it was a time in my life..."

We met on the dance floor. I'd seen a motorcycle in the parking lot, and once I walked into the dance hall, I immediately recognized it's owner. He wasn't wearing the typical do-rag or leathers, but the goatee gave him away. I knew. I just knew. He didn't seem like a typical dancer, and his off-beat humor struck me somehow. What started with a humble (and jerky) west coast swing dance ended in a moonlit conversation deep in the warm, humid countryside.

He was twelve years older than I, but in true honesty, our age difference mattered little. He was tall, handsome, and witty. We shared a passion for imaginative writing, and we both enjoyed the usual movies, hikes, and dancing (okay, that's normal for me anyway). He only had his kids every other weekend, so it didn't really click with me that he was a father. My own life was so different, I couldn't quite understand what divorce was like. ...Now I know.

Two wonderful months saw me growing and adapting to a different life and new roles. I enjoyed being around his kids, and I was learning how to accept what people would whisper about our age difference. That was probably the hardest part: we were fine with our age gap, but nobody else liked it. I'm sure you're sitting there with that smug, disapproving look, too. And I still don't care. I wouldn't change dating him for anything.

The end was not pretty, though, and I blogged about it then. You can go back and try to find those posts... I'm not going to sort through them again. One day, he ended things. The next week, I found out he was dating some other woman. Now they're married. I do hope they're both happy. I'm also glad it's not me. He had a history of cheating on women, and I think he did cheat on me. I don't know. It's over now, and I've moved on.

I still think about him, though, and wonder why I went after him. Part of me misses the boys: they were young gentlemen, and I hope the best for both of them. All of me knows, however, that I was not (and am not) ready to be a parent, especially to a teenager. I still feel like one sometimes!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Worst Public Schools in Oregon (ah, the memories)

People are probably going to read this post and think I had a horrible education. In truth, my formal education was anything but horrible. Thirteen years in Oregon's public school system--and in one of the lowest income districts--was not without its trials, but I came out well-prepared for college and the real world (or as prepared as an 18-year-old can be). My teachers were mostly good to excellent, and I felt challenged in nearly every class in one way or another. I look back on those years with good thoughts. For anyone who thinks I'm posting to bash public schools, stop reading now. Even though the things I'm about to say might shock some, I still support public schools.

Remember how I said those formative years weren't without trials? Growing up in a low-income school district is a rough experience. All three of my schools were condemned before I arrived, yet they still pushed children and teens through them. My grade school was built in the 1930s and operated until 2002. I remember the plumbing in the old building was awful, and sometimes the water pressure in the girls' bathroom sink was non-existent. By 2nd grade, the administration removed the merry-go-round, and by 4th grade the slide was gone. We couldn't afford safe replacements.

My middle school was beautiful... in that decrepit sort of way. Built in 1909 and remodeled in the 40s, 50s, and 70s, the building was literally falling apart with each passing day. I was the 4th generation in my family to attend school there. The main part of the building was three stories tall over a daylight basement. As a 6th grader, most of my classes were high up on the 3rd floor. There were stairs on either end of the main part of the building, but to prevent traffic from heaping on one end and causing the building to tip, the north stairs were the "up" stairs and the south stairs were only for going "down." [I can't say I never went the wrong way.] When 300 6th graders would crowd into the main hall after class, the floor would shake and buckle. I remember the first day of 6th grade in my history class when Mr. Cline told us we were going to die if the building ever caught fire. He said he'd throw as many of us out the 3rd-story window as he could and that we stood a better chance of surviving the fall than we did trying to get down the stairs the wrong way. Hype or not, we all listened. The middle school's chemistry labs were inadequate: we couldn't use the gas lines because they might catch on fire. The art rooms were too small, and the library was poorly planned and understocked. Our lockers closed most of the time... anyone who actually used their locker did so at their own risk. Even still, I love going into old buildings and feeling the chipping paint on the handrails at the stairs. I like having the linolium floor crackle with each step. Old buildings remind me of home.

My high school was better, kind of. The walls might have been an inch thick near the courtyards. We were never warm enough. Having a bucket or two in the classroom to catch leaks was common, and I don't remember a year we didn't run out of money to buy paper and basic supplies. Our gym floor rotted beneath or feet, and the showers in the locker rooms stopped working years before my time. [Imagine having PE at the beginning of the day with no chance to shower afterward. Yeah, we tried not to sweat. Ever.] The language arts wing was a cluster of windowless rooms in the center of what was probably a beautiful quad looking out to the football fields. Then, in the 70s, another wing effectively closed in that quad as modular classrooms became the fix-all to overflowing class sizes. I remember vividly how bad those rooms stunk when something died underneath one. I saw ceiling tiles fall on students, and it wasn't a big deal to have floor tiles simply missing.

For all the negative things I can say about my public school experiences, I can give you dozens of great things I had the opportunity to see and do. We had fantastic computers updated yearly or bi-yearly, and I went on neat field trips. I traveled with my marching band, worked with both OSSUM and Odyssey, participated in SMILE, and and learned more than I can possibly recount.

No matter what, every day was an adventure in school. Whether it was the buildings falling down around us or the teachers motivating us, we didn't sit still for long. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Robert Downey Jr. SINGS (and Jaggy swoons)

I didn't believe it, but after having seen the videos and listened to the music, I'm sold. That man can sing. He's also a darn good piano player (which takes him up a notch for me). Who is Robert Downey, Jr.? Click on the Wikipedia or IMDB links. Instead of me gushing about his music, I'm posting YouTube videos so you can see and listen for yourself.

Oh, yeah, and it's not often I write posts about celebrities, so when I say that I can't get over how awesome this genre is and how well it fits me, know that it's a freakin' huge deal to me. And if you don't like it, that's fine too. We don't have to like the same things. I'm still sharing, though. :)

Very special thanks to anyone who has posted these clips and graciously allowed me to repost them here. Click the play buttons to listen!

Singing Man Like Me from his album The Futurist

Singing Broken from his album The Futurist

Singing 5:30 from his album The Futurist

Singing Kimberly Glide from his album The Futurist

Singing Details from his album The Futurist

Singing Elton John's I Want Love

Singing Chances Are from the Ally McBeal soundtrack with Vonda Shepard

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

One More Chapter in Our Lives: from Friends to Coworkers!

I have written this post twenty times in my head, and now I can officially say it aloud:


My dear friend was offered a new job today, so she's leaving the forest for greener pastures, literally. She'll be joining me where I work, though in a vastly different capacity. I'm incredibly excited, proud, and honored that The Powers That Be have chosen her for the job.

A position opened several months ago in my department, and Rachel decided to throw her hat in the ring to see what would happen. I didn't think much of it... she has a related degree, but I figured my bosses would be looking for someone with tons of experience and knowledge about what we do. As the pool of candidates narrowed each week, I realized that Rachel stood more of a chance than I thought. Mind you, I knew she had applied, but I didn't tell anyone at work that I knew her. Two coworkers figured it out on their own (hmm, two girls who graduated from the same smallish high school in the same year... so hard to figure out). I was not part of the interview process, and I kept quiet as long as possible. I even took the day off when she interviewed so that things would be less awkward--plus I had vacation to burn and things to do, so it all worked out. Finally, the day after the interview, coworkers came up to me having figured out that we know each other. I thought it was hilarious, but I think it made things a bit weird for everyone. They all became very hush-hush about things, and I respect that.

One of the biggest reasons I'm excited to have Rachel working with me is that I'll finally have someone at work close to my age. With one exception, my coworkers are all at least twenty years older. I'm not complaining--remember, I worked in a retirement facility for five years, and I like working with people older than me. It can be trying, though, when I'm trying to relate to people and use an example about some pop culture reference that they don't get. Having Rachel around should help me to feel less like a nerdy young whipper-snapper. Or something. ;)

I can't tell you exactly what she'll be doing without telling you where I (we!) work, but we won't be working side-by-side. I'll be in the office all day like usual, and she'll be out of the office doing outside stuff. I have no desire to be outside in the sun, and she has no desire to be tied to a desk: zero job competition. We'll see each other every day, and we might even have lunch together occasionally, but we'll have a different boss, and we have different duties entirely. I think it'll be good.

Rachel can move back to the valley, move back near her family, and will be able to spend more time with her fiancé. For those reasons alone I'm ecstatic. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Congratulations, again, friend. I'm so incredibly pleased.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Refreshing Change from New Perspectives

Variety is a rare occurrence for me, and I don't do it well. Yesterday, though, I made a point to do everything differently than I ordinarily would. I didn't have my morning waffles, and I didn't drink my 9am pop. I washed some dishes by hand when I'd usually stick them in the dishwasher. I did laundry on a Sunday--it's usually done by Friday. I crafted something new, then tore it apart and started over. I watched a movie in a genre I typically don't. I went shopping someplace I don't go to often. I wore clothes that don't match, and I left a project unfinished.

Today, I had a turkey sandwich instead of peanut butter. I answered the phone differently at work. I switched the order of my work around, and I talked to people I normally wouldn't. I folded my sheets tonight fresh and warm out of the dryer instead of letting them sit there to wrinkle for a few days. I made regular macaroni and cheese for dinner (I prefer the shaped noodles), and I didn't put applesauce on it (though it was on the side, of course). And before a late shower, I cut my own hair.

Even more than all of that, I find myself listening to a musician I'd never heard of. My favorite kind of music is hard to describe, but I found someone else who understand the fantastic world of slow, lyrical, jazzy ballads over a simple melody. It feels really nice to listening to something new. I'm having fun trying on the different songs, closing my eyes, and going for the lyrical ride. As a pianist, little could be better.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #6

It all started with an innocent message on Facebook. "I think you're a neat girl, and we should get together sometime." I surfed his profile, deemed him interesting, and set up a place to meet. We talked, laughed, the usual... nothing fancy. He was pretty cool, and he was very good at listening to what I was saying and then using that information in creative ways. He really seemed interested in me, and I thought he was super cool.

Until the truth came out.

I don't want to call him nerdy, but he was a nuclear engineering student. It's pretty hard to find an NE that isn't nerdy, and try as he might, he still was. His life revolved around school and his World of Warcraft habit. When I could drag him away from the computer, he proved to be a decent dancer. Well, a decent dancer for a stocky nerd who always wore sandals...

I'm not usually one to fall for puppy-dog eyes, but he could look at me and I'd do just about anything for him. He'd ask if I'd sit with him while he did his homework (boring), or if I'd watch him play World of Warcraft (does it get more boring?). I did, at first, until I realized I wasn't getting anything out of the relationship. It also made me upset that he somehow had time to play basketball with the guys every other day and never managed to have an hour to spend with me. While I'm neither needy or clingy, I do demand a little time in a relationship. It's called "give and take," not "take, take, take."

On top of everything else, he was (is?) a Marine. He was working his way up the ranks from the very bottom, and while he looked super sharp in his dress uniform, there was something I didn't like about the "oorah!" shouting and jarhead mannerisms. The one thing I disliked most was how he informed me of things. He would only tell me what I needed to know exactly when I needed to know it. I never knew about things in advance, and I never felt like I was on the same page as he was. That was hard for me. But still, I tried to make things work.

It wasn't all bad. We "dated" for five or six weeks, and in that time, I felt complete and safe. While he didn't spend much time with me, the time we were together was mostly good. I think back at how blind "love" can be and laugh. It wasn't love, and I sincerely doubt there was even any infatuation. Just two people who met online and wanted to see what would happen.

Technically we were never "going out." He refused to use the word "girlfriend" to describe me, and he often told me how much he hated titles in general. Try as I might, we never became official. After several days of silence from him, I decided to move on. He invited me over unexpectedly one evening, and I knew it was coming. Before he could get the words out, I ended things. He expected me to cry, but I didn't: there was nothing there to cry over.

In five short weeks, I learned a lot about relationships. Not all of it can be expressed in one blog post, nor could it be contained within the entirety of a novel. Suffice it to say that I didn't learn my lesson about military men, but that all changed with the next guy.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Potting a Gazillion Plants, and other things

Maybe not a true gazillion, but it felt like it. I went to Lebanon this morning to help Rachel and her family pot dozens of flowers for her wedding. The ceremony will be at home, so the family is trying to make the garden and yard look pretty. We planted blue and white flowers everywhere. Rachel had spray-painted fifty terra cotta pots royal blue, and we put little white flowers in each one. I haven't much experience potting flowers, so today I got my full education. We also planted larger pots with several flowers in each one. It was definitely a workout, but I had a good time.

Sometimes I look at my friends' families and I don't see anything like what I'm used to. I don't hear the same conversations or the same types of relationships. I really like Rachel's family for perhaps this reason: her family reminds me of mine. Her grandmothers are just like mine, and her parents respond to her just like mine respond to me. I enjoy that kind of familiarity. I like seeing where my friends come from, and now (even after so long!), I know one more awesome thing about Rachel.

My morning dawned with Roth's maple bars, mmmmm. I was also able to spend some time visiting my parents. After hanging with Rachel all morning, I was able to go back to my parents' house and play their Wii while they were gone. I am still awful at video games... but I had fun trying (with nobody there to laugh at me).

If ever I tell you I enjoy driving on highway 34, remind me of today, k?

Once I got back to Corvallis, I stopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics and bought two yards of light blue cotton plaid, complete with shiny threads woven in, for $8. I ran into Michael's to get some beads and some silk flowers. For a grand total of $12, I'm redecorating my bathroom! Tomorrow I'll have to do some sewing and some serious hand-beading, but the new pieces should work nicely with the existing shower curtain's pretty colors (light blue, lavender, and very light green). I think I need to paint a picture to hang up in there... that'd be nice, too.

So today I got to spend quality time with another family, got to investigate a rather new form of entertainment (Wii=whee!), and started two new craft projects. Oh, and I had maple bars, watched a great movie, and managed to get over a bad headache. I did a bunch of laundry, and I even had time to eat a good dinner. I call it a day well spent. :)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Random Questions VII

Last time you consumed alcohol?
Super Bowl party (I think)

When was the last time you saw your best friend?
Oy, um... his wedding last December. Oooh, I am not a good best friend. But I get to see him next weekend if our schedules coordinate, yay!

What were you doing at 8:00 this morning?
dragging my tired ass into work

What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and thinking of a much better blog post than this one

How do you feel about the person who texted you last?
I think he's swell. :)

Three words to explain why you last threw up?
bad food poisoning

How's your heart lately?
still tickin'

Where did your last hug take place?
by my front door

Who was the last person to hold your hand?
as a boyfriend, Chris. as a friend...

Did you have a good birthday this year?
I haven't had my birthday yet this year. The last one was good, though, thanks for asking.

Are you tired right now?
It's 10pm... what do you think?

Have you ever been called a tease?
Sure have, and I'll do it again

Three days from now will you be in a relationship?
One can hope

How old will you be in 11 months?

Was yesterday better than today?
in some ways yes, and in some ways no

What does your last text message say?
"Yay! Congrats!"

What month is your birthday in?

When was the last time you saw your dad?
Two or three weekends ago when we hiked Peterson's Butte

Relationship status?
I'd like to be in a committed relationship, but I'm not desperate. I can wait. Whatever.

What is your favorite color?

Do you like coffee?
hell no!

Do you like iced tea?
just as bad as coffee

Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed?
um, the big flat side?

Do you know how to play poker?
sure do, Grandpa taught me

What were you doing at 12:00 last night?
sleeping, which I should be doing now

Do you smile a lot?
when I'm really happy I do, but no, I prefer blank stares

Do you know how to drive a stick shift?
sadly no, but I really want to learn!

What is your favorite thing to spend money on?
books, piano music

Do you wear any jewelry?
sometimes, but not often. I don't feel the need to display my wealth or status to society.

What time did you go to sleep last night?
11:15ish, far later than I wanted, darnit

Where did you sleep last besides your own bed?
Emily's, if I remember correctly. Maybe with Chris... it's hard to tell without looking it up.

Have you ever kissed someone?
Uh, yeah. A few people. Like... a few people.

Have you ever done yoga?

When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
Trust me, I was not capable of coherent thought when I first looked in the mirror this morning. If I could think, my first thought might have been something like, "brush teeth. comb hair. go to work." Thought was not yet an option, however, and I did not reach thought until at least 8:15am.

Do you know any foreign languages?
I know bits and pieces of several languages, some broken conversational French, and a made-up language with my sister. I am also fluent in Amie. Hi Amie.

Are you crushing?
I am crushing you up like a soda can, dawg.

Who was the last person you had in your car?

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?

How are you feeling?
Good. I feel good. In fact, only two things would make me better. No I won't share.

Who do you text the most?
my sister, awwwww

Are you going on vacation this summer?
Where are you going to pay for me to go? I'd love to!

What's the area code for your cell phone?

Where did you buy the shirt you're wearing now?
Mervyn's, before they went out of business

What is the closest purple thing to you?
my shirt is purple, and my pants are purple plaid

When you're at the grocery store do you use the self checkout?
If the lines are shorter, and if I don't have anything with an ink tag, yeah.

If you were abandoned in the wilderness, would you survive?
I'd like to think so, but it would depend on temperatures and ability to find water more than anything. If I can find a stream in the mountains around here, I'd be good. Anywhere else in the world, nah... I'd try, but I cannot say for sure.