Thursday, February 28, 2008

Folding clothes is not like folding paper...

I'm not much of a folder. My clothes... mostly... not folded. Also, they're surprisingly unwrinkled. Oh, and I'm a girl. Who's not lazy. Go figure!

Socks: not folded. Matched up, laid flat, but since they're ankle-length anyway, they just get stacked in matching pairs. No folding.
Undies and bras: not folded. not even close to folded. who cares?!
Pants: folded in half, then hung.
T-shirts: okay, those get folded in half lengthwise, quartered, and the sleeves folded across on top... this takes the longest of all of my folding.
All collared shirts and dance shirts are hung on hangers - never wire - and are ironed if necessary.
Dresses, coats, etc. are hung as well.

What else is there? hmmm... I fold my towels and other linens, but the kitchen and bathroom hand towels are just hanging there on the bar unfolded. They dry hands better unfolded.

My blankets are mostly folded and put away neatly under my bed in large storage boxes, with one exception: my blue and red down throw. That thing is either on the couch in a heap, over the back of my desk chair, or on the bed and probably not neat. I pretty much don't care.

But I do care.

It either does get folded or it doesn't. I'm so weird.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lunar Eclipse & Ailing Women (exclusive events, I swear)

A 30-second exposure of the recent lunar eclipse from my front door. I live in a good-sized city, so I'm rather proud that I could actually capture stars as well as a bright, blurry moon. The moon wasn't in full eclipse on the West Coast, and this was about as awesome of a picture as I could hope for.

In other news, I'd like to send a very special "Get Well Soon!" to my grandma (a faithful, and I mean very faithful blog reader) tonight. Both Grandmas actually, and Mom. I hope you are all feeling better soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Double Life (Mac vs. PC)

I live a double life. I have Windows Vista at home and a Mac at work. Each operating system has nice features, and I don't have a preference of one over the other. In other words, they suck equally.

With Vista, I've experienced both the dread' Blue Screen of Death a few times and the even worse Black Screen of Death (full melt-down). Between clicking "allow" or "cancel" six thousand times and having a five-to-ten-minute start-up, I also spend my time searching for files that aren't where I put them, waking screen savers that appear randomly, and rebooting to fix minor updates.

With the Mac, I am a Level One Grand Master with the spinning Beach Ball of Death. I can make that thing appear ten times a minute, no joking. The start-up time on a Mac is impressive, but my particular Mac likes to hide files and make them reappear like magic... for unknown lengths of time. While I'm not a professional graphic designer, I've managed to kill my Mac with Fireworks many, many times. Today, I had to do a full reboot after opening the calculator. Didn't do any math... just opened the application. Beach Ball of Death.

The Mac mouse is a story unto itself: one surface acting as two buttons. Unless you're on the very edgy-edge of the mouse, you might make the mysterious and eyebrow-raising "middle click of unknown operation." Like, if I click right in the middle of the right and left buttons, which one will operate first?! Left or right, left or right? Usually the one you didn't want to click is the one that works first. And the mouse isn't even ergonomic. It's shiny and makes my hand sweaty. Yuck!

I live a double life, a double life of waiting patiently impatiently whilst killing my computer inadvertently. It's not my fault! I just want a computer that doesn't die all the time! ARGH!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Danced Until I Dropped--Literally

Today, I attended a polka-dot-themed ballroom and swing dance. I know I promised pictures today, but I'm literally falling asleep and can't type to save my life. The dance was great, and I cut a serious rug, er, something. My skirt performed beautifully. Unfortunately, though, my fake-and-bake tan didn't go so smoothly. I'm a bit streaky and have some orange patches--hopefully no one noticed. Make-up is a fantastic thing. Anyway, that's all I can muster. I have to get to bed so I can get up for work tomorrow. Work: The other four-letter word. (I do love my job, but not after I've been out dancing too late... especially on a Monday morning.)

OH! and if you haven't seen Juno, I highly, highly recommend you see the movie. Amazing storyline, superb acting... wonderful movie in every sense. Go see Juno.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Grew Up via Television. Seriously.

To say that I've watched a lot of TV would be a horrible understatement. I was thinking about it this last week, and I've come to a scary realization: I have seen every (or darn near every) episode of the following shows (in no particular order, except JAG, duh)...

JAG
Diagnosis Murder
Early Edition
Charmed
Baywatch
Baywatch Hawaii
Body of Evidence
(the one with George Clooney)
Walker, Texas Ranger
Sons of Thunder
Kids, Inc.
Brothers & Sisters
The Unit
ER
Saved by the Bell
Invader Zim
Growing Pains
Full House
Family Matters
Boy Meets World
Gene Simmon's Family Jewels
3rd Rock from the Sun
Melrose Place
Life
The Riches
America's Next Top Model
Mythbusters

And those are just the "every episode" shows. That list doesn't include the shows I've seen "more than half" or "many" episodes! My list would be soooooooooooooo long...

Nor does the list include miniseries, movies, or other films.

You might be thinking that I need to get out more. I won't disagree, but I might add that I also had the time to complete high school and college, work, and take up ballroom and swing dancing... I'm not a couch-potato. While I'm watching TV, I'm often crafting, creating, or simply playing with Legos. And I think all that TV enlightened me a little. Yeah. Especially JAG, ER, and Mythbusters.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm not a "People Person"

I think I get it from my father. I have to. Because Mom's the opposite. Mom's a "people person," and Dad and I aren't. I'm not "anti-people..." That might get a little complicated when it comes to dating and such, but I don't feel the need to surround myself with people.

Today's gripe: people consumed with other people's affairs. Any sentence starting with, "Oh my gosh, did you hear...!" should not come my way. I don't care. "Did you see what they did!?" and "Look at that!" are two more nails-on-the-chalkboard sayings to me. Unless it's a magic show, I'm not terribly concerned.

I'm sure I'll hear all about it tomorrow, all about how I'm a ruthless, uncaring, selfish person. I try hard not to be selfish and uncaring. I do care about the human condition, about family and friends, and yes, I do care about your starving second-cousin's best friend's uncle's mother-in-law. But I don't need to be told every detail about that person's life or hear for the fifth time about their affliction. I don't care who's pregnant (outside the family), and I couldn't be less interested in who got what job or how much they paid for their car or *gasp* what their hair color is now. I don't care who is living with whom, and I certainly don't need to know about what they do behind closed doors. I wouldn't want someone talking about me like that, so I make a point not to discuss it with others.

And I'm so tired of people asking, "Do you think so-and-so is a virgin?" or "Do you think they've slept together?" First, how the hell am I supposed to know?! Second, why is that important to you? If we are not to judge others, and you aren't in a position to ask that person yourself, you have no business knowing. GET OVER IT.

I don't keep up on fashion, on hairstyles, or on music. I don't know everything there is to know about any celebrity, and I can't say as though I feel like I'm missing out on any of the latest gossip. It's just not my thing. If you're following the law, respecting others, and not stepping on my toes, I don't care what you do. And don't take it personally when I don't gossip about you to others.

It's not that I'm anti-people... much...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not Getting Personal

It's not a secret, and it's not supposed to be a secret. But when I say I spent some time with "a friend," I don't want you to get mad at me for not saying who I spend my time with. If those other people concern you, I'll let you know. I don't leave out details like that casually--in fact, I'm very open about most parts of my life. But I also don't feel like everyone has to know about every second of my day. Last night, two friends were here. We did stuff. Yeah, stuff. I was with friends and we did stuff. Big deal if you want to know their names. If I wanted you to know, I'd tell you who they were.

Likewise with where I've been. If I give a general statement like, "I was on campus," or "I went to Portland," it's not to hide where I was. Sometimes it's easier to say "on campus" than "in the West Ballroom of the Memorial Union," especially if you don't know the campus well.

I'm not secretive, though I do keep secrets if you share them with me. I also don't want you to get offended if I don't use proper nouns. It's nothing personal. That's the point.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Playing Blog Catch-Up

I've been stitching a lot lately with my sewing machine, but none of my projects can be considered "finished," so I haven't posted any pictures. Do not fear: the pictures will be posted once I'm done.

Very special congratulations to my best friend Rachel and her man on their engagement!

I'm totally craving a Roth's maple bar today.

My kitchen light makes noise, "tick tick tick" when I turn it on. One tick about every two seconds. It's really annoying. Like dripping water. But it stops when I turn the light off, so I know it's not dripping water. My kitchen sick drips very slowly sometimes. If I turn my electric range on and let it click itself into warmth as the heat expands the metal, I have a full percussion section in my kitchen...

I need some quality boy time. Not like that, but just some testosterone instead of the daily estrogen ocean. I really don't like swimming in that particular ocean all the time...

My Local Boyz addiction is about to be satiated. That trumps blogging. Until tomorrow!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stretching Helps me Sleep

Stretching has been added to my before-bed rituals. Seems silly, right? I have been sleeping much more soundly lately, and stretching been a great five minutes of help. I've always slept well, rarely waking up before 6am. I know my body has changed in the last two or three years, and while I'm still sleeping, I find myself waking up more often. Not what I wanted.

I don't stretch everything every night, but I make an effort to stretch out my back and shoulders really well, and sometimes I focus on my legs, too. Some nights I forget entirely, or else I'm too tired and just want to crawl under my electric blanket and sleep immediately (though I don't get to sleep for twenty minutes or more sometimes). Other nights I'll take fifteen minutes and stretch everything down to my fingertips.

Not sure if my coordination is improving any, though... maybe stretching is helping me sleep, but it sure isn't making me more graceful.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Just because I'm not smiling doesn't mean I'm not happy.

My face is not naturally smiley. If I'm giving a blank stare or a deadpan face, I apparently look unhappy. When I'm lost deep in thought or am concentrating intently, my brow furrows ever so slightly. My friends tell me this makes me appear angry.

Body language is important, don't get me wrong! I use body language to communicate often, and I try to make my non-verbal communication very distinct so as not to be misread. Still, people see neutral as unhappy. My mouth doesn't turn down when I relax, so I don't fully understand why people think this. My sister has mentioned the same thing to me--that people perceive her neutral face as a hostile one.

Both of us show our emotions, and we can be highly expressive when we choose to be. Not every moment, however, merits expression. When I'm alone, lost in thought, I'm not often wearing an expression, and that makes me look unhappy.

People think I look depressed because I'm not smiling. It's not true. I'm just not smiling.

If you really want to know whether I'm happy or not, ask. A simple, "how are you?" can do amazing things (when you're willing to listen to the answer).

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Productive Afternoon Away from the Office

My boss gave me the afternoon off today since things were slow and the weather was so nice. How cool is that?!? I have three days of personal leave, so I used four hours of it instead of vacation or sick leave. It's like free time off that I get paid for and don't have to use spend my other leave hours on! YAY! I put that four hours to good use too:

-Drove to Lebanon to my parents' house
-Vacuumed and wiped down the inside of my car
-Washed my car
-Touched up the paint on the hood and rear bumper
-Read five cookbooks for ideas
-Sorted through a pile of piano music
-Talked to Dad for a few minutes and saw his newest crafts
-Added oil to my car
-Bought gas
-Stopped to grab a pizza and say hi to my pizza-making sister
-Drove back to Corvallis
-Stopped at Fred Meyer, Bi-Mart, and Borders looking for a DVD
-Went to the video store to rent DVD that I couldn't buy
-Took a shower
-Cleaned my kitchen
-Changed my linens all over the house
-Baked pizza
-Had friends over for a movie night

Yeah, I think that's a productive afternoon and evening. My car is clean and happy, and I'm clean, full, and happy. And I got paid for all of it. Awesomeness. Now... sleep! Because it's a Friday night and I'm tired. And I have two whole days of freedom from chores now! :D

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I blame the car for the bad parking job.

Parking shouldn't be this complicated. I'm not a bad driver... I promise!

My apartment complex has covered assigned parking, so I always get the same perfect spot. This is wonderful! I don't mind paying a little extra knowing that I don't have to worry about how far I have to park from my front door. The distance is always the same. Great feature!

But my parking spot and I don't seem to get along sometimes. On one side, I have to contend with a support post. I don't think the structure would collapse if I accidentally took the post out, but I don't feel like testing the water. On the other side of my parking space is Mr. Long Truck. I don't know how he wraps himself into that spot so effortlessly, but I know that he's a pain in the ass for me to wrap my car around and not take out the post on the other side.

I'm pretty good at parking and turning to the right into my spot, but that left-hand turn getting around the long end of the truck is difficult. I don't know why! From direction A, one try every time. From direction B... I could take five or six stabs at parking before I got myself between the lines. I'm a good driver, too! I really am!

My friends laugh at me. They think it's all mental. Maybe it is. I have a parking situation... myself.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not a Happy Hour of Piano-ing

My evening didn't turn out quite like I'd planned. I rushed all over town after work running errands and getting a ton of stuff done. I scarfed down my dinner in no time so that I might have an hour free tonight to sit at a piano again. Having a small keyboard in my apartment isn't nearly the same as a real piano, and it doesn't cost me anything to play the pianos on campus, so I went. I invited a friend along knowing that he's interested in learning to play, and I grabbed some easier music so that he might be willing to play too. Plan thwarted.

Another of our mutual friends joined us (me?)--and don't get me wrong, I really like him, and I know he's a fantastic musician. That's kind of my problem. When I sit down at a piano, I play the songs the way I want to play them. I play them with wrong notes and horrible rhythm and incorrect form... I'm usually alone, and that's how I want to play the songs. As a classically trained pianist, I think it's my right as a musician to determine how I want the song to sound. If I wanted to play the song with proper form and the correct sound, I can try. If I wanted someone standing behind me tapping out the rhythm with a ruler or pencil, I'd pay for lessons. But I don't want to be corrected or fixed or reprimanded for playing something the way I want to play for me.

So this friend--truly a great person--made me uncomfortable. He stole my moment of happiness that I'd been looking forward to all day. I know I have the ability to make things less awkward for myself, but still...

I'm not a great piano player. Knowing scales and knowing what the notes are doesn't make me good. I am horrible at sight reading. And I hate practicing. But I love to play, and I try to play well sometimes. So when I see or hear someone playing a piano with such ease, it hurts. It's hard for me to listen. I feel insecure with my ability, and I cringe when I attempt to follow their talent with my own...

It is my goal to never let another person feel like that when they play in front of me. I will not judge someone for not knowing a scale or mode or clef or rhythm. And while I might help them learn, I won't solicit help (especially while they're in the middle of a song and aren't specifically asking for my instruction).

I want my hour back.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Little Quakes, Big Hit

New products scare me, especially new products that resemble... something... healthy. I mean, why eat something that might actually be good for me? Why eat something that might taste good and satisfy those mid-afternoon tummy rumbles?

Oh, yeah, because they're awesome! I discovered Quaker Mini Delights and Quakes recently. They're rice cakes that taste good. So far, I really like the Caramel Quakes and the Cinnamon Streusel and Chocolate Mint Mini Delights. While I'm not trying to lose weight, I can't really argue with 90-Calorie packs of yummyness. Furthermore, I found them on sale at Safeway, so each pack ended up costing me less than $0.50. Cheap, good for me, and tastes great--plus zero guilt!

Seriously, if they sold these in Diet Coke flavor, I'd never eat anything else.

Monday, February 11, 2008

In Which Grandma Finds my Blog

Yesterday was the most successful day on my blog thanks to Grandma. Apparently my aunt told her I have a blog, and Grandma must have been bored, because my stat counter says she sat for four hours reading and reading and reading. She called me later and informed me (which is how I know it was her).

I never expected family to read my blog. Both my sister and my mom read it, but that's all I knew about. I write for a slightly different audience than family, but I don't care if anyone reads my blog. I stand by what I say. I wouldn't write it if it weren't true, or at least my own biased view of things.

So Grandma's new to the world of blogging. Hi Grandma! What bits of info can I give a new reader? The "Posts of Note" section are blog posts I find especially unique or important about me. They were updated this weekend, and I hope they are an accurate picture of me as a person and blogger. The "Places I Visit" section is a list of other websites and blogs I read daily or weekly. They interest me, so they might interest you. The "Profile Thingy" is self-explanatory... I hope... and the "Blog Archive" is a list of older posts in reverse chronological order. The "Filed Under" section is pretty cool: I label each post into a series of categories. If you want to read all about my dance life, click on "Dancing." Or, if you'd rather look at the posts with pictures, click "Pictures." Same thing with "Movies."

The "I Dance" section is an invention of my own. I have links to informational pages (the "W's"), links to movies (any M), and links to movies of ME dancing (click on the few that say "ME"). Below all the text on the left-hand sidebar, there is a little blue number. At the moment, it reads 69395. That tells you how many people have visited my blog. Below that, I have a link to ORblogs and a link to Technorati. Both of those websites help other people find my blog easier. Lastly, the little frog guy and the count is from Geocaching.com. You can follow along as I find each Geocache and watch that number increase!

If you like what you read, click on the "Musings" at the bottom of every post. A new window will appear, and you can type in a short note for me. You can write to me anonymously. If someone else has commented, you can also read their comments when the window pops up. I take criticism and suggestions, and I welcome open and honest conversation.

Beyond that, it's a blog. Read it. Or don't. I hope you're entertained, at least for a moment.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Crafting: My Way of Life

Sometimes it's all I can do to keep this blog from turning into an all-out craft blog. Yesterday, I spent hours upon hours crafting, some of the time with a friend and a few hours by myself. We both made costumes (or pieces of costumes) for different dances. All of the accessories turned out surprisingly well.

I've dabbled in just about every craft and medium, though paper and needlecraft are still my strongest areas. I've used wood, glass, and metal, and I've sorted through beads, yarns, and huge scrapbooking supply warehouses.

On occasion, the outcome is pretty awesome, but more often than not, my finished product doesn't look like my original plan. Sometimes I don't have a plan. I'll sit down with some supplies and see what happens. That's my "art prayer" or meditation or whatever--I call it fun.

Living on my own and on a tight budget has afforded (or not!) me the opportunity to create something out of nothing. My curtains are all bedsheets, and my couch pillows are hand-stitched cases from sheet remnants. My wall decorations are all of my own photography, and I folded the origami bells over my kitchen sink. I have a couple paintings hanging up from high school. Last weekend, I whipped out a table cloth from a fabric shower curtain--a $6 score that also merited me some fancy napkins.

The initial investment in a good sewing machine (a gift for Christmas), a source of cheap fabric, and a town with two--soon to be three--decent craft stores in close proximity really helps with textile crafts. Additionally, I try to only buy things on sale, and I am good at thinking outside the box on what supplies can double for other things.

Crafty as I am, there is no way I'll ever resign myself to calling a pipe cleaner a "chenille stem." It's a pipe cleaner. PIPE CLEANER!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Computer Games of my Youth

I don't think our parents were against video games, but we never had a Nintendo console. I can count on one hand the number of times I've played console games (except the X-Box, and only Halo then anyway). But I do not remember a time when my family didn't have a computer. The first computer I remember was a 286... a noisy, crawling, dinosaur compared to my dual-core Vista headache now. Since the computer was operated through DOS, Mom always had to type in all of the command prompts for the games to work. She'd struggle through until Reader Rabbit scrolled across the screen. At school, I learned on a Mac. Of course, as a student in the Willamette Valley, we definitely played Oregon Trail until the keyboards broke. We also played Odell Lake and goofed around with the classic Kid Pix.

Later, with our supercharged 486 (movin' up!), I discovered the world with Carmen Sandiego and worked my fingers into cramps with Tetris. Mom and Dad encouraged learning at the computer, but we played fun things too. My uncle introduced us to little games like Bow and Arrow, SkiFree, and my favorite, Chip's Challenge. I bet fifteen years have passed... Chip and I still meet occasionally. His challenge wears my hands out!

Through college, when I had my own computer, my sister and I filled it with The Sims and all of Hoyle's card and board games. We played some of the tycoon games, and once in a great while we'd find some random game that made us laugh.

Some games we only played at Grandma's house. Mom's mom has a computer (and recently got one that leaves mine in the dust--totally not fair). She liked to watch us play computer games, so my bigger cousin would install his manly games, and my sister and I would be allowed to play them. We especially liked to play Time Commando and Heretic.

I've played all sorts of computer games, and I've spent days and days building houses for Sims. I've killed demons, wrecked car after car, and gambled away millions of dollars. I've learned about economy and geography, history and culture. Nevermind what I've done on the internet!

Okay, that does it. I know what I'm doing with my weekend...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dancing Therapy

I had a bad day at work yesterday. I was pissed. I vented and fumed and steamed all evening. Then I went dancing. Whether it was the song or the partner or my dedication to the dance, I had a beautiful waltz. I sat down afterward and leaned over to my friend to say, "sometimes when I'm waltzing I feel like I'm flying." Cheezy, sure, and the word choice is anything but poetic. It's so true though. When I'm needing to dance, a waltz will cure whatever ails me.

Or so I thought.

Later, I had the giggly-est Lindy Hop ever. We were making moves up, and I was attempting to follow things I'd never learned--let alone seen. At one point, I could hardly stand up because I was laughing so hard! A good Lindy will make me very, very happy.

But THEN...

I had one of the most fantastic West Coast Swing dances with a great lead. I wasn't counting, worrying about footwork, or trying to look good. My mind was completely in the music, lost to the syncopated rhythm and feel of my partner's hands on mine. I felt as if the floor had turned to ice and I was sliding over it effortlessly. Turning right, left, right, and back, forth through the slot, a whip, a pass, a turn.

Let's just say I had a great time dancing last night. Swoonfully good. :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

For Lent, I Learn

My quest to learn more about religion continues. Please don't think I am updating you on my journey because I want to impress you with what I've learned or because I feel like telling you how my beliefs have changed. I'm recording. I'm informing. I blog about me and the things I'm interested in. If you don't want to read anything below this paragraph, I won't be offended. If you want to comment, that's fine too. I'm here to share my story, not convert.

I've attended Mass a few times, and I'm reading a handful of books recommended by different people. My online searches have taken me far and wide... I didn't expect to find so much information! That's one thing that has surprised me about Catholicism: it's wide open. Unlike some religions that hide in ceremonies and have secret handshakes or unwritten beliefs, Catholics want you to know what's going on. I've spoken with a few of my good friends who are Catholic, and they were all more than happy to answer my multitude of questions in a straightforward manner. I respect that. (Thank you!)

Why Catholicism? I don't want to say that nothing in Protestantism surprises me--that would be false. Protestantism seems to be the same thing as Catholicism with some things stripped away. By learning about Catholicism, I'm also learning Protestantism. I'm learning how the latter began and evolved, and I'm realizing where my own beliefs come from.

Today marked the first day of Lent. Many of my friends are giving things up or are promising to do other things to celebrate the season. I have given the topic considerable thought. I contemplated giving up chocolate or caffeine. Deep down, though, I realized that if I really wanted to give those things up, it wouldn't be a struggle. I have the will-power to do anything like that when I decide to do so. Like a light switch, I could walk away from either. The caffeine withdrawal might be ugly, but I'd survive. Neither of those would help me learn about religion or faith or the symbolism of Lent. I think this journey, this question for knowledge means more to me. Instead of using my stomach as a spiritual alarm clock, I'm actively seeking to enrich myself through continued study... while it's not something I'm doing just for Lent, this knowledge is about Lent. To me, I suppose that's more important.

"But Jaggy!" I hear, "What about the Bible? Why don't I see you pouring over it's pages instead of those other books you're reading?" I wish I could say I've read most of the Bible. I haven't. I don't know every story, and I stumble at finding my place in it. I don't think it's bad to read the Bible--certainly not. But I'm not looking to hear Bible stories, and I'm not in search of specific passages. I'm trying to learn about things beyond the Bible.

The Catholic church has been welcoming, more so than any other. I still disagree with a few huge pieces which I'm not willing to discuss on my blog at this time, though, so don't consider me converted. My Catholic friends don't push their beliefs on me. They don't tell me I'm wrong, but instead they quietly listen and wait. I like that. I especially appreciate how Emily goes about things: she takes one of my questions, answers it, and then asks if that sparked another question. The cycle goes on and on. She doesn't get tired of me, either.

Every day brings me new joy on this quest, and every page of my books leaves me hungry for more knowledge. I've had my ego torn apart, and I've learned how my first impressions were wrong. I've seen that my heart and faith, though, have always been right. Such comfort. Wow.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I bought a plant... I must be turning into an adult.

Six minutes left to write before I force myself into bed. I can't keep staying up late like I have been, mind absorbed in a book, body resting underneath a preheated electric blanket...

I'm working hard on keeping stress to a minimum lately. Worrying about so many things isn't helping anything, so I'm just not going to worry. I bought a little tabletop fountain and a green plant this weekend. So far I've just had to go to the bathroom more.

I swore I wouldn't get any house plants. Mom's dozens of African Violets cured me of ever wanting something green, growing, and dying in my house... but I felt like I needed something green. I bought a "lucky bamboo" plant (which isn't bamboo at all--it's part of the lily family). It sits on my kitchen pass-through window ledge looking into the dining room. I'll probably forget to water it and kill it. I wonder if I can eat it...

Speaking of eating, I've been cooking lots of potatoes lately. They're kinda fun to cook with. They're also cheap, nutritious, and taste great with ketchup. Yeah. I'm that kind of person. I murder potatoes and meat with ketchup.

Whatever. As long as it isn't mustard.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I confess... I went to Powell's... and I bought books!

It's time to let the cat out of the bag: I went to Powell's City of Books this weekend. I bought books. I don't really have the money to be buying books right now, but I couldn't stand it anymore. That, and a friend had the time to go up with me. It was a splendid adventure.

Powell's parking lot scared me a bit... if you can find a parking spot on the street, I recommend taking it. Nevertheless, if there is no parking on the street in a five-block radius, the lot will do. Just make sure your car is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, that you can turn on a dime, and that you get your ticket validated.

Bookstores bring me happiness, and any bookstore that has books on sale or at very low prices... well, now, that's just spiffy. I love walking up and down the stacks seeing and smelling history and knowledge. Most of my time was divided between the Red, Purple, and Rose rooms. So many books...

What books did I get? Two by Stephen E. Ambrose: The Wild Blue and Nothing Like it in the World; and Darby Conly's Loserpalooza - A Get Fuzzy Treasury. I also got a calendar at 75% off (price, not months, ha!). I know lots of people don't like Ambrose because he plagiarized some of his work. Just because it's plagiarized doesn't mean it's false. He's a fantastic storyteller, and I don't care what anyone else thinks. I love his books. The third book... well... let's just say I have a thing for Bucky Katt and we'll leave it at that. :)

I drove up to the big city, and my copilot never got me lost. He did a great job! Of course, my sister ranks #1 as a copilot, but since we click on a genetic level, I'd say I'm biased. My friend and I only got stuck in the one-ways one time and even that was only for about five minutes. And nobody ever honked at me when I messed up in traffic. Sure, I got cut off a few times, but the drivers were nice about cutting me off... I think. I grew up in a town with about ten stoplights, so Portland traffic scares the shit out of me. Powell's was worth it.

Talk about a change in mood. Getting out of town for a few hours, spending some time looking at new things, and buying books that will transport me out of my little apartment for a few hours... just what I needed. YAY for books!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Making Cents

I'm disowning my own generation. They don't know how to count change. They might know what a quarter is and how much it's worth, but if you had them $5, they'll punch it into the cash register before realizing how much to give back on a $4.79 purchase. So sad.

My generation ought to be known as the Metal Generation. We all have Gold, Silver, and Platinum credit cards. Our debit cards glow warm from being swiped so many times. And our change literally burns holes in our pockets. Our grandparents were the savers, the depression-era waste-not, want-not-ers. Our lives have been easy, and we spend.

I walked into a store this morning and bought something for $2.39. I handed the store clerk a $5 bill and 40 cents. She wouldn't take my 40 cents. I was really excited I had change on me, and I was a bit perplexed why she didn't understand what I was doing. How hard would it have been to enter $5.40 into the register, see than she needed to give me $3.01, and fork over the money? Oh no, she had to turn the morning into a math lesson. Seriously.

My mother was a grocer, and she taught my sister and me how to count change as soon as we knew our numbers. Mom would occasionally give us change when we went shopping, and we'd have to count it out and know how much we had so that we could buy something. Our goal soon became finding something cool enough for cheap enough that we could maybe find two things. Usually candy... we were kids. :)

People my own age. Even people older than me. No sense about cents.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Two Random Meetings

I ran into two people today that I haven't spoken to in six or seven years. They were both instrumental in my band life (so sorry about the pun), each in opposite ways. The first person didn't believe I could do something and outright told me I'd never amount to anything musically. While I'm not a performing artist making millions of dollars, that was never my goal. I did go on to lead my band in high school and am not a horrible pianist in any sense. It was his dismissal that drove me to work harder. He had a temper and a gentleness... not my favorite person, but someone I've forgiven internally.

The other person was a peer but not a friend. He was always kind, always professional, and always a little bit hesitant to let me lead since I am a female and he is a Mormon. I left high school a year a head of him, and we didn't make any effort to stay in touch. Seeing him today made me think back to those years as a high school band demi-god-complex-ed teen. Bittersweet memories.

After these two moments, I had to wonder who else I'd run into. There aren't many people from my education that I'd like to see again, to be honest. I have a few friends that I'm still in regular contact with (even if only through Facebook status changes and wall posts), and there are one or two teachers that I'd love to see again. Otherwise... I've moved on. I'm not going to turn anyone away if they want to talk to me, but I'm not actively seeking anyone I grew up with.

I think about the changes I've made in myself, the growth I've gone through, and the things I didn't do. So many of the people I grew up with are married, have kids (more than one!), some have completed tours in the military, and others are done with college (like me). A few have gone to jail, and a few simply disappeared. Some own their own businesses already. I know one guy is living out of his van on the coast someplace.

I'm single, educated, and have a long career stretched out in front of me, and I'm a young 24. Given the choices I've made, I can't imagine myself with children right now. I never had the sense to get in trouble. Short of college, I have a hard time thinking that I've done anything else. Seeing these two men today forced me to look at myself through another's eyes. Did I make the right decisions? Have I followed the right path?

Of course, I will always wonder these things. The uncertainty is what makes life interesting.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Always the girl friend, never the girlfriend...

A friend realized recently that I'm not a girly-girl. He tried to pin me down as masculine even, saying something to the affect that I'm not good in the kitchen or at other "womanly" things. In typical Jaggy fashion, there is a unique juxtaposition happening. The odd two-sidedness puts me both at an advantage with guys and an extreme disadvantage. I'm traditional and modern, conservative and liberal, cultured and sheltered.

Take, for example, my dual abilities:
On one hand, I know where a fan belt is and how to replace it in a car. On the other hand, I make wonderful soup and stew. I know how to use power tools safely, and I am not too bad with a sewing machine. I have a great aptitude for words, but I'm pretty good with numbers too. I enjoy both technical magazines and poetry.

For myself, I try to learn as much as I can about what I'm doing. Through that, I've became well-rounded. I think this turns many guys off. They want to date a girl that they'll have to help, fix, rescue, and protect. Guys don't want a girl who is secure in her independence. They don't seem to want someone who can keep up in the shop talk or the computer programming. The guys I know want a classic ideal. I can't live up to it.

My male friends either want to date a woman with much dating experience or none at all. I'm neither. They want overt statements of morals and values before considering me, and I don't do that. I'll always be too much of something and not enough of another thing. Still, I don't think I should have to define myself for someone else. I don't think I should have to relegate myself to being the dutiful woman or the hipster or the butch princess or whatever.

It's not that I march to the beat of my own drum. I don't: I'm not secure enough to try. I walk a little out of stride with everyone else. Same beat, just a little off.

Always the girl friend, never the girlfriend...