Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Confess... I'm a Geek

Maybe it's because things that go "beep" interest me. I like poking buttons. I like when technology makes my life easier. Gadgets are cool.

When it comes to the kitchen, my two favorite devices are the toaster-oven and the dishwasher. I hate doing the dishes, so having the ability to rinse them off and put them "away" immediately is a huge thing for me. I refused to live in an apartment without a dishwasher. The washer and dryer were somewhat less important (though I love having them all to myself). The dishwasher is my friend. My toaster is pretty incredible, too. I have a cool one that is both a toaster and a toaster-oven, and I use it just about every day. Between my morning waffles and my evening meal, I don't know what I'd do without it.

For all the cool gadgets out there, I'm definitely missing a few. I do not have an iPod, a laptop, a fancy cell phone (I have one, it's just not fancy), or even a proper DVD player. Between my computer and a borrowed X-Box, I get the job done. I don't have many tools or helpful products, just the standard hammer, pliars, and screwdriver set.

Without a doubt, though, my computer is the hub of my social network, career, creative outlet, and time sink. I spend hours upon hours staring into a computer screen each day, sometimes writing, sometimes reading. Without an Internet connection, I'm not sure what I'd do. It's not even about getting or replying to e-mails, reading blogs, or being online. I like having the option to be online.

I do have a GPS, but it's nothing special. My Garmin eTrex helps me find geocaches. While it doesn't go "beep," it is a pretty awesome gadget.

My most favorite gadget is probably my camera. Like my GPS, it's not a unique device, nor was it terribly expensive. I don't have extra lenses or special filters. I don't carry around a huge camera bag full of equipment. Those things always make me feel like I'm cheating anyway. I studied photography, and I continue to challenge myself creatively. I suppose I'm a professional as my work has been commissioned... the camera played a huge role in that. :)

I like gadgets. I don't need them. But they can be pretty cool.

Monday, September 29, 2008

10-year Reunion, I Think Not

As my friends and I age and make the journey beyond college, we're faced with one of those big life hurdles: the 10-year high school reunion. It's a big deal to a lot of people. They make plans months or years in advance, lose weight, change careers, or even get married for the sake of trying to one-up their former classmates.

I am not one of those people.

My high school class ('02!) was comprised of two types of kids: those who cared too much and those who cared not at all. The academic double-bell-curve divided us even further. I fell into the overachiever crowd, the group that wasn't satisfied with an A and had to have more than 100%. Most of those seventy-five-ish "smart kids" went on to colleges on the east coast, in California, or to private colleges in Oregon. A small handful of us stuck around to go to OSU, but we are the exceptions. Of the other group, some went into the military. A few went straight to jail. Some went back to their family farms to work. Many got married and have kids. These stories are not unique, no more than any other small-town school in Oregon.

But that 10-year reunion looms. I honestly don't think I'll go. I didn't have many friends in high school, and those few people I cared about I'm still in contact with through Facebook or MySpace. If I go, it won't be to check up on others or compare stories. I'm comfortable not needing to impress those people who picked on me for so many years. As much as I love my hometown and high school, I can't think of any reason to go back and relive four years with people I didn't care about then and don't really want to talk to now.

Anyway, how can you measure life or success (or hope to compare them) after ten short years? I don't want to go to the reunion. Maybe the 20-year... maybe then.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Short 'n' Sweet

It's way too late for me to make this post witty. The weekend was good, and I'm fine. I could definitely use another day to relax, though.

Corvallis has filled back up with school starting tomorrow, and I'm not happy about it. I've never liked this town. I especially don't like congested roads, poor drivers (or worse, distracted or even drunk drivers), and awful parking situations. I'll have to leave an additional ten minutes early tomorrow just to get the three miles to work.

A very kind woman sent me a ton of great blog ideas this evening, so you'll definitely be reading some interesting posts in the near future. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'm a bit wiped, so this is all y'all get tonight. Soon, though. Soon.

And now for some sleep... how I've missed thee!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blanket Season

It's finally here! Tonight, I curled up under a blanket with The Boy to watch a movie. A real, warm, fuzzy, blanket. The nights are cold enough that my apartment has a chance to cool off, so I've been adding an extra layer when I get cold. I love the weight of the blankets on me, especially my grandma's afghan or one of my quick-sew project blankets.

When I was a little girl, my mother made me a flannel blanket. One side was solid pink, and the other side had tiny pink flowers all over it. By the time I was toddling around, she made me a blue one out of light blue and blue flowered flannel. When that blanket finally gave out in my early teens, I requested a longer one out of lavender and lavender flowered flannel. I wore holes in the third blanket by the time I was twenty. So, when I got my sewing machine for Christmas, I finished the fourth replacement blanket. The flowered flannel print is still being made, but it's difficult to find. I settled for solid navy for the back side and white with navy stars and dots on the front. No fancy quilting, no elaborate machine stitching, just two layers of flannel with some batting sandwiched between, some long stitches length- and width-wise.

My sister makes beautiful nine-patch quilts. They have more sewing in the top side, plus the entire blanket is hand-tied, but they're the perfect weight and size for curling up. I haven't merited one of these yet (it's not like I couldn't make one myself...). She, too, understands the value of the perfect blanket.

Sitting in the stands at marching band competitions has taught me the value of a good outdoor blanket, too. For Christmas one year, my parents were lucky enough to receive a clever blanket. One side is heavy red canvas, and the other is a thick grey fleece. If you sit in a football stadium seat with a foam pad underneath you (especially one of those genius "stadium chair" thingies with the back that is attached to the seat) and tuck the edge of the canvas/fleece blanket under your legs, that is the warmest blanket on earth. It's incredible. And it's the perfect size that two people can share it. Each person tucks in the outside edge, and then they can share body heat, snacks, or whatever from the confines of a warm blanket.

Even as I write this, I'm curled up in my desk chair in a blanket. I truly do love blanket season. :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

10 Things I've Learned Living in an Apartment

I've officially been an apartment renter for one year today. With very few problems to speak of, it's been a great time. I love having my own place and space. However, there are a few things I've learned along the way:

1. No matter how many shelves you have, there are never enough.
2. Wall heaters are not cool.
3. There is no solution to empty pop can storage in an apartment.
4. Futons are not comfortable to sit on. They are also not comfortable to sleep on.
5. Laundry, no matter how hard you pray, will not do itself.
6. Taking your shoes off when you go inside really does help keep things cleaner.
7. Air conditioning is a blessing. I am not so blessed.
8. Decorations come later. Always later.
9. Plants are not as overrated as I once thought. Except African Violets (evil!).
10. Fire extinguishers are insurance. Buy one. Use it if you have to, hope that you won't.

Oh, and always, always, always, always, always lock the doors and windows when you live alone. Duh. (Seriously, they have TV shows about people who are dumb enough to not do this.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Goodbye Dripping Faucet

Sometimes I'm lazy. Sometimes I'm stubborn. Sometimes I think I have control over inanimate objects like my kitchen sink faucet. And sometimes I'm wrong.

I tried. Trust me, I tried. I had dreams about the faucet. I could hear the dripping while I slept. My friends teased me about it. I stared it down once, but that didn't work either. I hit the faucet, told it to stop more than a few times, and still... drip, drip, drip.

They're not hard to fix, I know, but I rent. I'm not allowed to do anything more than general upkeep and cleaning. Not sure how long the dripping went on, maybe a few months. It started off slow and occasional, but by last week all I heard in my apartment was the ticking of my wall clocks and the dripping of the faucet.

I was going mad, not because of the noise, but because the two click/drips were not synchronous! (A sure sign my inner band geek is lurking still.)

So late last week, I sent off an e-mail to my apartment managers asking for some help. They replied that someone would take care of the job on Monday. Monday night after work: drip, drip, drip, drip. I figured they were busy and would get to it on Tuesday, but that night... same thing. Ugh. Finally, on Wednesday, I came home to find that a repairman had been there just after noon for five minutes to fix a silly little gasket.

I could have done that months ago. Sheesh.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Doctor Redux

I don't know why I feel the necessity to blog about personal matters such as today's, but I guess I'd be doing my blog a disservice if I failed to note every traumatic event in my life. Thus, I present to you yet one more example of too much information. I apologize in advance.

Oh, and in case you missed it, this one is filed under "Girly Stuff." Guys might want to stop reading now. Stop. I mean it. (Okay, you're probably still reading, but at least you were warned.)

After my horrible doctor's visit in July for a womanly-bits infection that resulted in a nasty e-mail to the doctor's supervisor and an emotionally scarred me, I vowed I'd never return to that doctor's office. This morning, I realized I'd have to go see a doctor for another infection. Oh joy. I was thrilled. But, stubborn me, I put off going until lunchtime. Instead of going to Albany, though, I chose to go to Immediate Care at the Corvallis Clinic. I was able to see a female doctor who actually talked to me in complete sentences, a very friendly receptionist, and the sweetest pharmacist. How different can two experiences be?

-Albany: I'd been going there for ten years, yet they did not have a file with my name on it. They had no record of me existing. Corvallis: still had my old records dating back to my birth at Good Sam almost twenty-five years ago.

-Albany: half-hour drive, hour-long wait, six forms to fill out, another hour of waiting, half-hour drive to pharmacy, another half-hour of waiting, and the drive home. Corvallis: five-minute drive, ten-minute wait, one form, five-minutes at the pharmacy.

-Albany: scary receptionist with tattoos on her face and a smoker's cough that made me speak loudly and specifically about every problem I'd ever had. Corvallis: super-cool receptionist concerned about privacy and not specifics (she even shredded the paper I'd written my SSN on in front of me).

-Albany: mean, mean doctor. Corvallis: gentle, friendly, communicative doctor who had patience and time for me.

-Albany: pharmacy closed. Corvallis: pharmacy open and just down the hallway, staffed by informed people who knew their stuff.

No matter my physical outcome (I'm fine, by the way), I am pleased that nice doctors exist and that I was able to find one. Now can anyone tell me how to get the icky hospital soap smell off my hands?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Closing Open Wounds

It's amazing how we hold on to things emotionally. We embrace the big things, like when our parents tell us they're proud of a job well done or when a special someone tells us they think we're amazing. We also hold on to negative stuff, pretend we've let go, and secretly bear the open wound. I didn't realize I was harboring one of these awful open wounds for so many years until this weekend.

Kevin and I were wandering through the store and strolled into the sporting goods section. I was admiring the baseball gloves, longing for a person to play catch with me like Dad used to do. I reached down and picked up a brand new baseball, unmarred and perfectly bound in the smooth, white leather jacket, stitched up in neat red laces. The smell of springtime baseball fields wafted in my mind. A voice half-shouted, "move it up, bring it in, Jaggy's up!" I realized the voice was not coming from inside my head but from down the aisle. Kevin was teasing me exactly as my classmates had done when I was young. Without knowing, he instantly salted that long-open wound. I resisted the urge to replace his nose with the baseball, opting instead to let it fall out of my hand back into the bin.

I didn't realize how much a small jest could hurt, especially after so much time. For some reason or another, I've been carrying around with me this bitterness about silly childhood insults from grade school. His words weren't the most painful part of the moment there in the store. Realizing I could still be affected by something I thought I'd let go of was worse.

It's not about the baseball: I love to play catch and feel a ball slide into the glove's pocket. It's not about the hearing apologies from Kevin or any of those cruel classmates from way back when. I need to realize that I am not the same scared little girl who always got picked last in PE class. I need to let it go.

Besides, I may throw like a girl (maybe), but I can dance circles around every last one of those people. Well, except Kevin. He's pretty good.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grandma's 90th

Mr. Wonderful and I spent a ton of time together over the last three days, and while I enjoy my time alone, I very much enjoy my time with him.

Saturday was exciting. We went to Albany and washed my car at my parents' house before heading into Lebanon for my grandmother's 90th birthday party. (By the way, she's actually 90 today--HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) The Boy survived meeting my father's entire extended family, minus a few of my cousins. He met my aunts and uncles, a few other relatives, and was able to see Grandma again. Even though my dad's family is loud and blunt, The Boy survived. He left a good impression (my aunt told me so).

After having our fill of family, we drove to see Rachel and her new kittens. So tiny, so cute, so much work... oy! Part of me wants a pet, but I don't like pets indoors. My complex doesn't allow any pets anyway, so it's not even a consideration. But it was really nice to sit on the couch with a furry, fluffy, purring kitten laying on my belly.

This morning, after church, we went to lunch and then picture taking north of Corvallis. I'll post pictures soon. He took my camera and finally turned it on me, so now he has pictures of me (as the principle photographer in the relationship, pictures of me were apparently lacking... I didn't have a problem with it). Tonight, he made me dinner and cleaned my kitchen for me.

It all sounds so normal when I write it... so ordinary and inconsequential. In fact, we somehow made each moment special. We do that. It's pretty damn awesome.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random Questions XII

(Sorry about the spacing issues--I don't know what happened to this one!)

You'​re trapped in a room for 3 days with your ex, what do you do?
Depends on which one. I'd probably talk to him (or laugh a lot if it's Jeff!).

You'​re stuck​ on an elevator with the person you have fallen the hardest for. What happens?​
We make silly Kevin James references about elevators, pretend to get off on the wrong floor, and then do it all over again. Oh, wait, we already did that yesterday in the library...

Do you want to marry​ your boyfriend/girlfriend​?​
I don't want to jinx anything. Let's just say I really like him. Okay, I love him. Yes, I said it. We've said it. We're all mushy. Still, not jinxing anything!

When is the last time you were in a photo​booth​ taking pictures with friends?​
With my cousin and sister when I was probably eleven or twelve years old.

Who'​s the last person you had a sleep​over with?​
Emily? Whitney? I forget who has stayed on my futon last.

Have you ever seen someone you knew and purposely avoid​ed seeing them?​
Uh, yeah?

On average,​ what do you think​ you cry about​ the most?​
Losing people.

Do you have a friend of the opposite sex that you can tell every​thing​ to?
Yup! The Boy. I tell him stuff I wouldn't even tell my girlfriends--even about the girly stuff. We're like that, all "open" and "communicative."

Does it matte​r to you if your boyfriend/​girlfriend​ smoke​s?​
Yes, it does. He won't. If he does, I'm going to smoke his hide, that's for damn sure.

Do you think​ you have made a difference​ in anyone'​s life?​
I know I have. You're here, aren't you?

Which​ of your friends is the easiest to talk to?
The Boy, but Rachel and Emily are close seconds when I just need to girl talk.

What'​s going​ on between you and the last person you kissed?​
At the moment, he's in the other room watching TV. I'm alternating between the kitchen where I'm baking apple crisp and my bedroom where I'm blogging. So we are together, apart.

Are you going​ anywhere next summer?​
I'll probably be here. I like here.

Are you waiting for anyone to call right​ now?
Nope. I don't know anyone who needs to call me...

Are you shy?
Not particularly. I was when I was little, but now I don't care enough about convincing people I'm incredible. Everyone already knows I am. ;) HA!

Are you talkative?​
I have my moments of uncontrollable verbal diarrhea... but I can also be quiet for long stretches. Depends on my mood and how urgently I need to get the words out.

Do you announce when you have to pee?
Speaking of peeing, I need to do that. Be right back!

Who was the last person you cried​ in front​ of?
Grandma, actually. She held my hand, patted it, and told me it was going to be okay. It wasn't okay, but she did make me feel better.

Are you good at hiding your feelings?​
If I want you to know how I'm feeling, you will. If I don't, you won't. That's just the way it is.

How is life going​ for you right​ now?

Do you trust​ people easily?​
Not especially. It takes a long, long time.

Do you give out second​ chances easily?​
Pretty much always. I've only cut a couple people off. I forgive easily. Flaw?

Do you smile​ a lot?
Totally depends. Some things make me smile a lot.

One thing​ you'​re looking forward to?
Seeing the family tomorrow!

How do you feel about​ change?​
I do prefer quarters to pennies, but dimes are okay. Nickels aren't my favorite.

Have you ever cried​ from being​ so mad?
Yes, once.

Do you get the recommended eight​ hours​ of sleep​ each night​?​
No... I usually get slightly under that. Tonight, though, HELL YES. It's Friday!

Are you ticklish?​
In some places, yes. *points* Here, here, and here!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Radio me this...

As a commuter for so many years, I spent most of that time on the road listening to CDs.  I think I listened to the same ten CDs for six years, occasionally switching out a few, but always coming back to the same ten or so.  But now, as I drive the short distance to work across town instead of across the valley, I find myself tired of the same few CDs.  I need something new.  I've turned back to the radio for the first time since middle school.  I don't know who the popular people are on the airwaves now.  Perhaps that's a sign I'm getting "old."

Tonight, after work, I had to sit in my car poking buttons just to figure out how the radio works.  I've been the primary driver in my car for six years, and I have no idea how to operate a radio!  And let me tell you, for someone pretty "with it" when it comes to computer-y stuff, not knowing how to work such a "simple" device like the radio hurts my tiny ego quite a bit!

I wish I could say it was easy, but it wasn't.  I poked buttons for several minutes before figuring out that I had to turn the CD player off before I could turn the radio on.  Who would have thought?  Once I got it turned on, the radio needed to be "tuned."  I had to relearn how to use knobs and buttons and scan until I got static and voices.  AM versus FM might still be beyond me... but I have hope that I'll figure out which one I'm on soon.

As I ease back into the world of radio stations, I might need some help.  What radio stations do you listen to here in the Willamette Valley?  Do you have a favorite station?  Please give me suggestions or station numbers... all I remember is 94.5, 99.9, and 103.7FM.

Oh, and what radio station broadcasts OSU Football games?

I feel so lost... and it's just the radio!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mt. Angel Oktoberfest

Some would call it good, cheap fun. I do not call $4 sausages, canned sauerkraut, and pyrotechnic diarrhea good, cheap, and certainly not fun. This is why I did not eat any food from Oktoberfest this weekend.

My boyfriend wanted to go up, and I'd never been to an Oktoberfest before. With nothing else to do, we decided to drive up and meet some friends there. The day was perfect as far as the weather was concerned. If we were in the shade, we stayed pretty cool. The sun was warm, but we were there in the late afternoon, so it wasn't bad. We didn't burn at least (and that means it really wasn't bad!).

The idea of smashing a bunch of Bavarian food vendors together really had me smiling. I love good sausage. Even though I'm German by ancestry, I can't seem to get the cabbage down. Beer isn't high on my list either. But the sausage... oy! I don't care if it's Polish, German, Dutch, or covered in maple syrup... I love sausage. (The English and Irish, however, with their blood sausage... no. NO. That ain't right!) Between the apfelstrudel and the brats, I could smell home. Of course, I was disappointed that there was no schnitzel or kuchen or dumplings or any of the other foods I think of, especially spaetzle. How could they not have spaetzle?!

As the crowds were difficult to move through, we opted to walk up to St. Mary's in Mt. Angel. The building is visible from most of town, and I must admit the church was strikingly beautiful. We happened to walk in during the Saturday evening mass. The people were singing a hymn, and with the sun sparkling down in tiny beams from the stained glass, the setting was perfectly tranquil. I was pleased we'd taken the detour away from the crowds.

After trudging back across town, we drove into Salem to watch a movie and have dinner (less expensive, less greasy, less fair-food-like deliciousness). While the day wouldn't have been something I picked out, it was fun. I enjoyed the sights and smells, a bit of the waning summer sun, and being able to put my head on The Boy's shoulder after a long day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunset from Bald Hill

We decided at the last minute to hike Bald Hill on Friday evening. I knew sunset was going to be about 7:20pm. With less than an hour to prepare and drive closer, we planned the jaunt. I met Mr. Wonderful at his apartment, and we raced over to the trailhead. From the barn, it took us 13 minutes to hike to the top. My previous record was slightly longer, so I felt great about our time. Unfortunately (or not?), we ended up on top well before sunset. Our ten-minute wait was rewarded with a beautiful view of a fantastic summer's end sunset, though. I took many pictures while resting/wheezing/trying-not-to-fall-down-the-hill. (Seriously, take your time on that last bit going up. It was a doozy.) The trip down didn't take very long, either. I think we only took twenty minutes from the top to get all the way back to our car at the fairgrounds.

The picture here is looking due west toward Mary's Peak (that little familiar bump on the left). I have seen many sunsets from many places in Oregon. This one, thought, we earned. It was worth the crazy-fast hike a dozen times over.

Monday, September 15, 2008

More Organized Than Ever

I made a quick trip to K-Mart this weekend to see what they had on sale. On a whim, I passed through the home interiors section and spotted the exact shelving unit I wanted to build for my bathroom. The store had the last unit on the shelf still in the box, but there was no price sticker anywhere on it. I searched the shelves until I found the matching bar code number thingy. The white 3-shelf cabinet with doors was marked at $25.00. SCORE! I hauled the heavy box up to the checkstand where the youngest checker I've ever seen (he was too young for zits, let's put it that way) rang me up. "That'll be $35.00." Uh, excuse me? No. I informed him about the price sticker on the shelf. He still wanted me to pay the higher price. I refused. He called over a manager. The manager confirmed the $35.00 price. I refused again. "Oh, right, we raised the price on the cabinets, but we didn't change the stickers. We'll give it to you for $25.00." Damn straight! I paid the kid, stumbled the box out to my car, and drove it home.

Now, after assembly, I have a beautiful white cabinet and twice the storage space in my bathroom. I have space for girly bathroom stuff and no longer need to keep it in a box in my hallway closet. Even though I'm fairly low-maintenance, I do have quite a bit of bathroom stuff. A girl needs room for her make-up (admittedly not much), teeth stuff (it's a $5000 smile and counting...), eye stuff (contacts, grr), nail stuff (like, maybe two kinds of nail polish and some emery boards, k?), hair stuff (blow dryer is kinda bulky, plus hairspray for the three times a year when I need to look good), earrings, perfume, deodorant, lotion (x3), and then all that shower stuff. GOSH! That doesn't include my really girly stuff (*cough*), band-aids, pills of various types, beauty odds-and-ends, and toilet paper.

Because, let's face it, toilet paper is kind of necessary in the bathroom.
And I'm glad I have the storage space now to keep it there!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Tiny Update

I'm too tired to write much more than a quick update tonight on my ever-busy life. Mr. Wonderful (+1, inside joke) and I went to Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel yesterday, went to see a movie in the evening after dinner, and went to church and waymarking this afternoon (it's like Geocaching, but slightly different). I'm exhausted. He's tired as well. For a weekend we began with no plans, it came together very well.

Oh, to be young and in love... oh wait, I am! :)

Sorry, that was mushy.

(Yeah, I'm not sorry.)

I'll try to have a better follow-up post written later, maybe tomorrow perhaps. And pictures from our hike, from Oktoberfest, and from our afternoon adventure. Now: sleep.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blitzing Baldy

On a whim tonight, The Boy and I decided to hike Bald Hill to catch one of the last perfect sunsets of the summer.  The only problem was that we decided to do this with about an hour of good light left.  I drove over to meet him, then we parked at the Midge Cramer path at the Benton County Fairgrounds.  From there, it took us about ten minutes to get to the old barn.  My previous record from the barn to the top of the hill was a little over fifteen minutes.  This time we made it in thirteen.  Phew!

For the record, I do not suggest blitzing the hill when you haven't gone hiking, dancing, running, or pretty much anything but driving a desk for three months.  OY!

After taking pictures (I'll post them later, I promise) of the sunset, spending some time recovering, and then hiking back down (in even less time, thanks to gravity), we opted to soak in a hot tub for a bit.  I've never had a hot tub feel so good!

Let's put it this way: when we got back to his apartment to start watching a movie, I think I was asleep before the beginning credits ended.  Yeah.  Exhausted.

It felt good to be able to do something active for once! but I think I'm going to pay for this in the morning.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Address This!

I never realized how much work it is to change your address. My parents moved once when I was 9 years old: throughout my adult life, I've used their mailing address as my permanent address. Even when I lived on my own during college and when I moved out again last summer, I didn't change my address. Finally, though, my parents have moved to another house. My mailing address must change. I opted to change everything officially to my own apartment instead of their rented house. Oy! How many people have my old address?

-Bank(s), and I still need to order new checks
-Credit card company
-Student loan
-Doctor/dentist/optometrist offices
-Car/renter's insurance company
-Medical/dental insurance company
-Magazine subscriptions
-Coupon people (Michael's, JC Penney catalogs, etc.)

Can you think of anyone else I forgot?
My advice? Don't move. It makes life so much easier!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are you a Giver or a Taker?

[Editor's Note: This is the second post by guest blogger Rachel, a friend of the editor. We were recently discussing our current and former relationships when we realized we're both givers, do-ers, and generally ask-nothing-in-return-ers for the various acts we perform as part of our girlfriendly/wifely lives. We both have wonderful men standing beside us, and this post isn't directed at them. That said, neither one of us would turn down a kindhearted act in return for the work we do out of love.]

Have you ever seen a friend in one of those relationships where they seem to give everything to the other person and get nothing in return? Have you been in one of those? It seems much easier to see it from the outside looking in. These giving individuals may cook or clean, or always plan the dates, or just simply be there emotionally more often. The other person may appreciate the kind acts, and they may even say so once in a while (but not nearly enough). The taker may not even realize they do it. They can justify it by saying the other person "knows that I love them," or "I appreciate it everything they do, why do I have to say it?" Givers give because they want to: that's how they show their love. They also need to have the takers acknowledge it, or even *gasp* give something in return. It doesn't have to be money. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. It just has to be given, without condition.

My husband knows I hate folding laundry. When I come home and see my clothes folded, it means more to me than a dozen roses!

An interesting way to look at givers and takers and what you are/need in a relationship is Love Languages. Are you a giver or a taker?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A One-Pop Day

My quest to give up caffeine hasn't been going smoothly. I'm solely to blame. However, I might add that I didn't have a clear-cut definition of "giving up caffeine" to begin with. I simply wanted to get to a point where I didn't go through withdrawal headaches if I didn't get caffeine every day. I haven't had a withdrawal headache in probably a month, so I figured I was doing okay.

This afternoon, though, when I looked across my desk and saw water where my can of pop usually sits... it was hard not to run to the vending machine upstairs. The cravings are intense sometimes, and not so bad other times.

It's also expensive to drink pop all the time. I was down to two cans (or a can and some of a 20oz bottle, neither of which do I ever completely finish) each day, and now I'm pushing hard to be down to one can a day. Today, I will do it. Today, I will only drink one can of pop. I already drank it, actually, so the trick is going to be resisting the temptation to have another.

My boyfriend had a good point last night: this wouldn't be such a big deal if I'd never admitted I was addicted. Dang it!

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Lurkers

I see you clicking over while you're sitting at your desk on your lunch hour. I know you read. You're not fooling anybody, especially not me. Thanks for stopping by. Come back again soon.

When I started this blog, I honestly didn't think it'd last three weeks. I didn't figure people would read. Maybe my friends, possibly my sister... heck, I didn't even tell my family about it for a long time. It's just not something I considered. But now, several family members and a few friends come back to read my meandering thoughts.

A few people have discovered my blog and continue to read it who are of special note. At least four of my friends have parents who regularly visit my blog. These individuals are not my target audience. I realize my blog is public and can be read by anyone at any time (of course), and I don't post things I wouldn't want anyone to know (seriously, there isn't much I don't tell).

But I wonder what my friends' parents think when they read my blog. Do they think I'm crazy or interesting or silly or... These are people I actually know and respect, but I don't know them well enough to ask what they think. And by writing all of this, I suppose I'm doing just that.

I know you're there. I am glad you're reading. What keeps you coming back?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This is What Good Weekends are Made of

Phew, I can't believe it's Sunday evening. I haven't thought about my blog since Friday night, let alone had time to write something. It feels good to get away from computers every once in a while, though, and my weekend was well-spent.

Saturday morning, I got up early and started working on a project. I took four bags of clothes to Vina Moses (it's like Goodwill, but it's entirely local and zero-profit) before running over to Michael's to pick up some beads. My craft budget is minuscule this month, so having some good beads to work with for the next twenty days will be a great morale booster. I got home and immediately set to beading. I created two different bracelets that I disliked enough to dismantle before even wearing them. *sigh* it happens. In the afternoon, I met The Boy at his apartment so that we could drive up to Woodburn together to go to his friend's wedding.

Side note: what is it with lavish weddings? I'm sorry, but I don't really see the need to have seven attendants each, free airplane rides (the wedding was at a private airfield), bottles of wine on every table, or a huge catered dinner. The wedding was beautiful (of course). It just seemed a bit overdone to me. It's my opinion. No, I don't care of you disagree.

After the wedding, we stopped to see more of The Boy's friends. We got home late, maybe 10pm or so. The next morning, we met for church, then drove up to Salem to go shopping. We walked and walked and walked, but neither of us found anything we were dying to have. At least I feel like I got some exercise out of the deal. :)

With shopping frustrating us, we opted to drive back to Albany to coerce my parents into taking us out to Carino's Italian Grill. My parents had been there several times, but it was our first trip. I had the lasagna (it was okay--heavy, and I'm not a fan of carrots in my pasta). We had a nice visit with my parents. As we were leaving their house later, my parents generously gave me a new microwave (since the one I currently have, though it's fairly new, has a cracked seal and is slowly going to kill me with radiation (right, Mr. Nuclear Engineer Jeff?))

The Boy drove us back to Corvallis where we spent the rest of our wonderful weekend trying not to fall asleep, what with full bellies and too much excitement. I don't think I spent hardly any time this weekend without my hand in his... and that's the way I like it: side-by-side, hand-in-hand, walking together. If nothing else, this weekend taught me just how lucky I am (yet again) to have found someone so like me in all the right ways and unlike me in even better ways.

Oh, yeah, not only am I nerdy, but I really am friends with a true Nuclear Engineer. More than one, in fact. A bonafide N.E. who really works in his chosen field. And I think he's one of the nicest guys around. And maybe if I add enough flattery to this post, he'll comment. :P

Friday, September 05, 2008

Goodbye, ORblogs

My blog started with Dr. Lisa Ede's English 495/595 class waaaaay back in 2005. She had this fresh, young speaker come in and tell about how he got into blogging. That quiet man was Paul Bausch, the mastermind behind ORblogs. He told us about his self-created blogging community of Oregon bloggers. I have since used his website to find out more about my state than I could have dreamed (nevermind how well Oregonians write!).

My foray into blogging had a rocky beginning. Once I added ORblog's code to my site and had the site linked correctly, a few people discovered my tiny voice in the blogging jungle. Then after a few clever titles that garnered me a bit more attention, even more people started reading. Three years later, I have managed to make the "popular" column a handful of times, snagged a few high-click days, and even scored some loyal readers around the state. Without ORblogs, my blog would surely be nothing.

But, due to the amount of time ORblogs takes in Bausch's life and the lack of financial support he receives for his hard work, he's decided to take his website down. I was disheartened (devastated, honestly) that such a great resource will no longer exist. Small blogs like mine don't stand a chance in the blogosphere. Having that community, the smaller pool of like-minded close-by bloggers, gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts for a blissful three years.

With ORblogs gone, a huge hole exists. Where will we, the small blogs, go in order for people to find us? How will we make ourselves known in our neighborhood? How will I find new online friends like Mr. Guy, MissKris, and TH?

Still, without ORblogs to garner me that wonderful blog traffic, my blog will trudge onward. I will, as ever, attempt to blog daily. If my numbers fall, that's okay. I'm still here. I just wish I had my network of faithful Oregonians waiting in the wings.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Shame on you, Corvallis residents, letting Albany show you up!

Saturday night, The Boy and I were in Albany running some errands before dinner when we witnessed an accident. I didn't actually see anything, but we heard the screeching of tires and yelling. The Boy ordered me to stop the car, and he quickly exited the vehicle to go provide first aid to the injured parties. I parked my car out of the way (just like everyone else--nobody left the scene). He took control of the situation, calmed the angry parties, and made sure that nobody was dying. Within two minutes, I observed five police cars, a firetruck, an ambulance, and the chief's SUV arrive at the scene. After a brief visit with an officer, The Boy made his exit, and we went on our way.

Contrast that to the accident I arrived upon this morning in Corvallis perhaps five to ten minutes after it occurred. At least two vehicles ended up mangled in front lawns, one nearly inside a house. I saw one squad car, no ambulance, no firetruck, nothing else. People were sitting in the grass next to their cars as if in a daze. No one seemed to care. Traffic didn't even slow down to gawk.

I wish I could say these are isolated events, but they're not. Accidents happen often enough in both towns. If nothing else, these two scenes are a perfect example of why I have always disliked Corvallis. People are so absorbed in their own lives that they don't stop to care for another. After growing up in a small town where stopping for an accident wasn't just a courtesy but an obligation, Corvallis residents haven't impressed me one bit. If ever my life is in danger or if I ever need anything from someone else, I pray that I find some small-town person instead of a Corvallis resident.

Why do I live here if I dislike the place so much? Even with insanely high housing costs, it's still cheaper than paying for gas and living in a smaller (friendlier!) town.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

RSVP gosh darnit!

[Editor's Note: This post was guest-written by Rachel, a friend and recent bride.]

Does anyone actually know what RSVP stands for? Probably not. But we all know what it means ("Répondez s'il vous plait" or respond if it pleases you), or so I thought until last week. Last weekend I got married (yes I am the culprit that forced Jaggy to get all gussied up for a day, and damn did she look good!). I had 150 RSVP's to my wedding. We made it really simple: go online to our webpage or call a number. Everyone has a phone right?

We had one problem right from the beginning. Myself and the bridal party were hanging out inside when I casually asked my sister "how many people are here so far?" it was T minus 10 minutes. Her response "Most of the chairs are filled." We set out 182 chairs. How do I know this? I made Jaggy add it up 4 times. Right before the ceremony it was standing room only. In 95 degree heat. Several of my cousins with young infants actually got up and went inside to give more room for people (there was a large plate glass window they could watch through).

Second problem, food. Our wedding reception meal was home-cooked. My amazing mother-in-law and family did all the food. She figured not everyone who RSVP'd would come, and a few extra people would show up. After she had catered two other weddings this summer, she figured 150 potatoes would be plenty. Wrong. Two of my cousins didn't even stay for the reception because they didn't RSVP. (They didn't know I did for them as they are my cousins; I figured they'd be there!). So my question is, where did all these extra people come from?

All I know is that, in the end, the wedding and reception turned out okay – but I was still a little peeved because it just isn't proper to not RSVP. So even if it is a day before the wedding (we had several people call the day or two before) you should always RSVP or risk the wrath of a crazed bridezilla.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Well Shoot!

The Boy and his roommate took me shooting yesterday south of town. I wish I could say that I was thrilled to be there. My experience wasn't negative, and I have no regrets. However, I don't know that it's really my thing. My experience with guns is limited to one other encounter. I didn't grow up in a hunting family (uncles did, but Dad never went). My parents didn't expose me to guns at all as a child. I knew they existed, and I guess I always had a healthy respect for weapons of any kind. Guns were simply alien to me until I decided to learn about them on my own.

So the boys took me shooting yesterday. They walked me through gun safety (my second time, but a good refresher course, especially when said in a new way by different people). They let me pick which handgun I wanted to fire, and after demonstrating what it can do, I got my turn. As a [professional!] photographer, I already knew how to breathe and how to not anticipate. There is something different about the gun's "bang!" over the camera's "shhk" that separates the men from the boys, though. I think I fired five or six rounds with the Glock 9mm sub-compact. We weren't standing twenty feet away, but my little group of holes were exactly where I aimed the gun. That was all the shooting I did. The boys played with their handguns and a shotgun (I now know the fastest way to make cardboard boxes into pulp).

While they took turns shooting, I pulled out my camera and took a few shots of my own. The near silence of my camera, the smooth metal in my hand, my finger curved over the shutter button... click click click. So much the same, and yet so very different.

I know people are going to try to pigeonhole me into being either pro-gun or anti-gun. Honestly, I'm neither. I see how firearms can be used for both good and bad. I believe in the right to own weapons with one exception: if you've been convicted of any violent crime, you lose that right. I don't own any lethal weapons. That said, I don't have a problem with people safely owning, storing, or using any weapons. It's just not something I can see me doing. My experience wasn't bad in any way. Still, even after yesterday, I don't understand the thrill some people seem to get when they shoot something. I realize there is skill involved, especially at long distances. For me, standing twenty or thirty feet away from a target and firing round after round felt hollow. There was no challenge. Maybe that's why I would rather fire smaller rifles at much larger distances: if I'm not using a weapon for self-defense, at least keep the sport in it. After our adventure, the boys wanted to know if I'd be interested in purchasing a handgun. No, I replied. I know enough now about how to use one if I need to, and that's all I wanted out of the day.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Making Space

My name is Jaggy, and I'm a pack rat. Hello. Yes, hello there. Nice to meet you all. This weekend, my disease came into full focus as I helped my parents move. My father is also a pack rat. Apparently this condition is inheritable.

Mom and Dad asked The Boy and me to help them move their big stuff on Saturday. I've moved my own stuff before, but since my parents have only moved one other time in my lifetime (and that was just across town, a mile maybe) when I was 8, I don't exactly remember how much stuff they have. We got all the big, heavy stuff moved. Nobody lost an eye. Mom fed us twice. All-in-all, the day went fairly smoothly. They're on their own with all the boxes of little stuff though.

When I got home Saturday night, my long-weekend mission was to clear out some of my stuff. I went through old boxes full of grade school papers and tossed the stuff I no longer wanted. Sure, I kept a few reports and mementos, but my 16"x24" full box transformed into a three-inch stack of papers. I cleaned out my desk and organized it. My bedroom closet got emptied (although, admittedly, 98% of that stuff was put back). I tore through my dresser and got rid of clothes I haven't worn in years, which thankfully gave me an empty drawer to work with again. And lastly, the hall closet... oh my. Let's just say I tossed enough stuff to free up an entire shelf. Yeah.

I have three grocery sacks of clothes to donate, two bags full of paper materials that I'm recycling, and one box of crap that cannot be recycled or reused (duct tape corset anyone?). It's that much more crap I don't have to move next time. And yes, it feels good to make some space in my life.