Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Taken advantage of... and finally smart enough to realize it

I know I'm supposed to give until it hurts. It's starting to hurt.

My friends are great, and I'll do anything for them when I can. I love cooking for people, and I really have fun entertaining them when they come over. Most of the time they bring ingredients or offer to pay a couple dollars for food--that's how we do things. But when I go out of my way to make dinner or dessert and they show up for a quick bite before heading off to other friends' houses, I feel pretty bad. Not exactly a fun way to spend an evening.

At work, I'm expected to give money to buy flowers for funerals for coworker's relatives. I give for birthdays, parties, special treats, and other things. The department has fundraisers every month for the poor, the hungry, the freshmen... it's a never ending cycle of give, give, give! And I walk away from giving my precious $5 knowing that I could have used it for two lunches instead of suffering through my usual peanut butter sandwich.

Two evenings each week I get to spend with my sister before she heads off to late classes. Sometimes we cook dinner together (I'm trying to teach her to cook more than macaroni and cheese), and sometimes we just hang out. She has a key to my apartment, lets herself in, and studies until I get home. Among other perks, she can study in peace and quiet, in warm, comfortable surroundings, with food and water at her disposal. Sometimes I come home to find her stuff strewn in every room, food all over my desk and crumbs on the floor, and even dishes in the sink. I'm not complaining that she eats while she studies, but the dishwasher is right there. If she's not going to cook me dinner, the least she can do is get her dishes into the dishwasher.

The clincher for me was yesterday. I spent five hours of my precious day off (gotta love personal days!) following her around with a camera taking pictures of her. Then, once she left for class, I spent another two hours editing those photos. I fed her, taught her how to poach chicken, and gave her my undivided attention for the majority of my day. I don't recall hearing a single "Thank you, sis." AND THEN! Tonight, when I got home from a dance, I noticed she'd gone through those pictures without my permission and used them on her Facebook profile. It doesn't bother me that she used them--they're actually pretty good--but that she'd let herself into my apartment and snooped through my computer files... unacceptable!

I work hard not to be in debt to anyone for anything. I take pride in being able to do things for myself, and I really do like helping others learn new things. I enjoy feeding people. But I'm feeling very taken advantage of. I don't want apologies or offers from people to pay for things. I want attitudes to change. I want people to realize how hard giving can be on a tight budget and limited resources. This probably sounds like I'm a whiny brat, but I'm going to stick up for myself this one time.

Editor's Note: I wouldn't have posted such a rant if I'd not spoken to the concerned parties before writing it. While I may be airing my grievance here, I have already taken care of matters on my own. My blog is not a platform of communication for serious matters. I was simply ranting.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My name is Jaggy, and I have a sweet tooth THIS LONG

I love cake. White, chocolate, yellow, devil's food... the kind colored with sprinkles even, I love it all. I like frosting (as long as it's not that lardy crap from the supermarket bakery), and I have absolutely no qualm about eating a spoonful of that cheap frosting you can buy in the plastic tub in the baking section at the store. It's especially good on graham crackers--Teddy Grahams are a favorite, head first of course--but Oreos or other cookies work in a pinch. The heavier the cake is, the more I tend to like it (Pound cake over angel food any and every day).

I love cookies. Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, peanut butter... the list goes on and on. I don't like raisins, and I don't like crunchy cookies. Soft is better, and sugar cookies must be soft and flaky. I like the plain, with sprinkles, frosted, with icing, filled, and washed down with more cookies. I do not dunk cookies (that's so wrong), but I've been known to put Hershey's syrup on sugar cookies... it's like icing, but cheaper and faster!

I like hard candy, soft candy, chewy candy, candy with nuts, candy without nuts, candy covered in chocolate, and candy in any shape. Not a huge licorice fan, but some kinds are good. If I don't have to eat nuts, I won't. And I dislike candy containing fruit or any fruit flavorings (except strawberry and apple--those are safe bets). Coconut is completely unacceptable in any form under any conditions.

Muuuufiiiiinnnnnnssss, mmmmmmmmmmm. I like all of the usual muffins: poppyseed, bran, and blueberry. I prefer the Jiffy blueberry muffins over real blueberries, and I like plain muffins over anything with fruit in them. Muffins are great the second day when the outside gets a bit dried out. Coffeecake fits in here, too, and I like that with streusel all over the top. Did I mention I love muffins?

I like brownies pretty well, but I'm not a fudge person. Cheesecake is a favorite, with or without caramel sauce, berry sauce, and oreo-crumb crust. I like pudding if it's fresh, but no tapioca or weird flavors. Jell-o isn't high on my list, so I avoid it if I can (unless Dad makes it, then a little goes a long way). Oh, and I will not eat Jell-o if there is anything in it. I also don't like it used as flavoring for anything else.

Ice cream rates high if it's vanilla-based with chocolate or caramel ribbon. I like cookie dough ice cream, mint ice cream, and occasionally I'll eat chocolate ice cream. Drumsticks are the perfect size with all the right ingredients. Popcicles are fun, and I like Otter Pops, fudgecicles, and dilly bars from Dairy Queen (esp. butterscotch!). Cinnamon rolls are a favorite as long as they don't have nuts or cream cheese frosting. And I'm not sure who does the baked rice at Thanksgiving, but sometimes I get a hankerin' for that stuff.

No pie, though. Pie is awful, whether it's a fruit pie or a cream pie. Pie crust isn't great, and yes, I've had what people would consider to be excellent pie crusts. I will tolerate a chocolate silk pie if I must. Pie... *shudder* Grandma will probably be the only one who reads my blog and knows what kuchen is, and I hate to say it, but that stuff gives me the willies. I'm not a fan of custards or flan, and kuchen is a pie shell full of custard and fruit. That ain't right!

I have such a sweet tooth... anyone else feeling diabetic yet? You're probably thinking I must be huge for eating all of this tasty food, but I'm not. I'm not skinny, and I'm certainly not overweight. I enjoy a good sweet every day, but too much and I just wear out. A little bit is all I need. Well... unless it's a favorite on a bad day...

Favorites
Candy bar: Snickers or a plain Hershey's bar; Lindt if I am really craving good chocolate
Ice cream: just plain ol' vanilla... with a little chocolate syrup on top
Cake: devil's food with white frosting and dark chocolate lightly shaved on top
Cookie: oatmeal chocolate chip, but snickerdoodles if they're really soft (and Mom's sugar cookies at Christmas, but that's just a given)
Hard candy: butterscotch discs
Soft candy: Lindor truffles when I can, but Junior Mints otherwise
Chewy candy: Good 'n' Plenty are hard to beat, Red vines as well
Overall dessert: a good cheesecake or anything homemade... it's always better homemade.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Somebody should have told me...

I didn't realize I was doing it. Nobody ever said anything, and I didn't know. But now I feel awful about it. Even worse, I can't go back and fix it. I feel like it's my fault. I know it's my fault. How could I change something I didn't realize though?

Sometimes my delivery isn't so good. Sometimes I say something and it comes out differently than I'd intended. That doesn't mean I'm a bad person: I simply didn't deliver my message with the appropriate words or tone. Communication pretty much sucks in that respect, and I have much to learn. Again.

Sometimes my timing is off. I won't know the exact word to use in the moment and what pops out isn't quite right. I'll think I understand the conversation and *wham* something comes out of my mouth that invokes only the most horrific silence in my conversants. Enter Captain Embarrassment...

But lately, I'm told, I have developed a bad habit of not looking at people when they're talking to me. I don't look at the ground, and I've never been one to avoid eye contact. I'll simply continue what I was doing when they approach me and not look up at them. And this is bad. But I didn't realize I was doing it! I kept getting interrupted, so maybe by not acknowledging people, I guess I was hoping they'd leave me alone. I didn't know they were feeling offended... nobody thought to tell me.

And now I feel like an ass.

Okay, a bigger ass than usual. In any case, I take pride in my ability to self-correct mistakes, but I didn't know. Now that someone has pointed it out (gently and kindly, I might add), I can work to combat my own misbehavior. Because I'm an adult. Even though I haven't been acting like one.

If I've been doing something offensive, please tell me. If it is within my ability to change and correct the action, I will do so. I strive to be respectful. I really do want to be nice.

Editor's addendum: I'm not changing my beliefs or values for you, and I'm not covering up any more of me than I already do. There is a fine line between me being respectful of your wishes and me just telling you get the hell heck over yourself. And yes, I get to make that distinction.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Crafting my own Photography Supplies

I'm crafty. Not just crafty, like "I glue things together" crafty, but like "making something new and useful out of something old." This isn't much of a surprise to anyone who has read the blog before, but sometimes I even surprise myself. Yesterday, I did just that.

I knew I would be taking photographs in the direct sunlight, and as someone who actually studied photography (you aren't a photographer just because you take pictures, dammit), I know how bad direct sunlight looks. There were two options: find good shade or move indoors, or buy a reflector. A good reflector can cost upwards of $75 at a photography supply store. Even the cheapest ones aren't less than $50, which is waaaaaay out of my price range. Solution: make one!

What reflects light? Shiny stuff, duh. But most shiny stuff is expensive (I'm a girl, I know these things). I needed a big sheet of shiny stuff. Like a drip pan you'd put under a car (I'm a girl who knows about drip pans...). But not as expensive. Um.... like... one of those fold-up foil sun shades you put in a car. It is supposed to reflect light, right? Except they don't do a very good job for my needs. What to do...? I also needed a stiff, flat object, too. And lightweight, so it wouldn't be heavy if I had to hold it for a long time. What's stiff and lightweight and flat?

After careful deliberation, I selected the only remnant of foam-core board I had lying around. It happened to be approximately twenty inches on each side. Then I grabbed my roll of handy-dandy aluminum foil (it's tin foil that doesn't contain tin, so what?). I applied this wonderful stuff called 'spray adhesive' all over one side of the board and let it sit for a couple minutes while I tore off two strips of foil. In a fit of incredibly slow movements, I applied the foil and smoothly as possible to the sticky board. Each piece covered half of the board. Next, I trimmed the foil to the edges. But the edges didn't stay stuck down very well, and I had a weird seam in the middle. There was only one solution: shiny, sticky stuff. DUCT TAPE. I cut strips into thirds and trimmed the edges and seam.

You can get duct tape and tin aluminum foil at the dollar store, and foam-core board is only a few cents more at any craft/hobby store (or even Bi-Mart, Fred Meyer, etc.). Total cost: FREE if you have these things lying around, less than $5 if you don't.

Some reflectors are gold. Some are white. Some are multiple colors. Any foam-core board can be easily spray-painted with gold or silver spraypaint for exactly the same effect (but they don't use duct tape, so they clearly aren't as cool). Total cost there isn't much more. Bonus points for spraypainting or foiling over a board you previously used for homework. ;)

Another thing I might try is crumpling (scrunching, wadding, wrinkling, etc.) the foil before trying to glue it to the board. That might give another effect. Or, what happens if you just use duct tape? What about a few pieces of foil on the board with other colors or just white in the gaps? Must test these ideas...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Engagement Photo Shoot

My best friend got engaged in February to this amazing guy she's known forever, and they asked me to take their engagement photos. Mind you, I'm not a professional photographer by any means. I have a few skills, though, and they were fantastic subjects. I've never had more fun taking pictures, and I couldn't be happier with the results. Click on their picture to link to the album--they've generously allowed me to use their photos as part of a portfolio. They bought me new camera batteries and dinner in exchange for my time, and I feel so incredibly blessed that they asked me in the first place.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #5 (The One that Got Away)

He was totally into me, and I was totally into him, and neither of us knew it. So began a friendship and relationship that my life surely wouldn't be the same without.

Jeff and I met through a mutual friend. We met several times over a couple years without really remembering each other. In fact, I'm not sure I know when I realized his name was "Jeff" and that he was handsome and that I considered him as someone I could date...

Perhaps our first date was my first clue: he came over to watch a movie. Simple as that. Of course, we didn't stop with one movie... we ended up watching three movies in a row, late into the night. I couldn't work up the nerve to put my head on his shoulder, and I found out later that he was too scared to even put his arm around me. My roommates came out of their bedrooms to find us sitting in a dark living room watching the DVD screen saver on the TV because our movies were over and we were too lazy to turn either unit off. Just talking, mind you... we could talk for hours.

I think we became "official" about a week later. Our relationship was void of drama--a fact which both of us enjoyed immensely. We never fought, rarely disagreed, and occasionally picked on each other. I would be accurate in saying that he's as close to a perfect man as I've found. He can be romantic, sweet, side-splittingly funny, and compassionate. He can also be obnoxious, too critical of himself, and not so good on the dance floor. All things considered, however, he's amazing. I am fortunate that I got to know him, and I'm sure that someday he will make a woman very, very lucky.

We learned, though, that perhaps we weren't perfect for each other. Our lives were going in different directions, and we realized that. We both know now that we make better friends than partners. Though we broke up after only four months, I treasure him still. We're great friends, and I've talked about him several times on the blog. Life without him surely wouldn't be as interesting... If you'd like to know more about Jeff, type his name in the search bar at the top of this page.

Jeff: You knew your number would be coming up, and I could see the gears turning from this far away. I know you weren't worried about me saying something bad: I don't have a single bad thing to say about you. Thank you so much for the comments you leave here, for the support and love, and for each and every amazing hug. I miss you!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #4 (The Un-Boyfriend)

I've gone around and around in my head about how I should write about #4, and I haven't come up with a single good idea. You'd think, after almost six years, that I'd be full of witty remarks and carefully planned snide comments. It's not that I don't have things to say about him... it's that we never really dated. I never called him my "boyfriend," and he never introduced me as his "girlfriend." In fact, I've taken to calling the time we spent together way back when as "The Time." (Wow, that's original!)

How we met is unimportant. We met. End of beginning. After a few months of instant messages and e-mails, he invited me over to his apartment for an afternoon movie. One afternoon turned into a series of afternoons, months, and years...

Several people have commented about how they disapprove of or don't like "friends with benefits" relationships. But until you're presented with the opportunity, don't knock it. He and I were good friends, and yeah, there were some limited "benefits" to our relationship. It worked for us. After a while, the "benefits" ended. Our friendship continued, and we're still friends to this day. I'm not saying it wasn't hard to do, but as long as both people are on the same page and communicate honestly, the relationship is great. I never felt used, like I was an object, or anything bad. Of course, I also wasn't having sex (duh!), so that helped... Moral of the story: "friends with benefits" can be a good relationship, but it's not for everyone. And don't sit there judging me like I know you are. You're not perfect either.

So we never dated. We've shared stories, hiked mountains, watched dozens of movies, chatted thousands of hours, and supported each other many, many years. We go out for lunch and dinner from time to time, and I see him often. But still, no dating. We've been nothing more than friends for over four years.

He has the ability to make me angry, and he can make me very happy, too. He keeps me guessing, keeps me in line, and is sure to make fun of me at every opportunity. Like when I called him tonight to tell him I was writing a blog post about him... and he laughed. "Write whatever you want," he said. So I did.

The un-boyfriend: I sure-as-hell couldn't live with him, but I'd be sad if I lived without him.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Mighty T-Shirt -- and why Jaggy shouldn't be let loose in a craft store...

I've been ridiculed quite a bit recently for my fashion sense. Some call it too "northwesterny" and others call it "un-girly." While it's definitely not haute couture, it works for me. Okay, it works with my budget and for my body type. The rest is all fluff anyway, right?

My blog is peppered with rants and raves about different types of jeans and shirts, and I've occasionally lamented about how hard it is to find a properly fitting t-shirt. I like them to be moderately heavyweight fabric, slightly longer in the waist, have a small neck (not tight though), and have full sleeves (none of that cap sleeve crap). Normal! Like a normal t-shirt. Oh, and I wear an adult small. You'd think these shirts are everywhere, but they're not. They're either ultra-thin (it's a matter of pride to wear them out, not to buy them pre-holey!), ultra-short, or ultra-ugly.

BUT! I found the perfect t-shirts at the new Michael's craft store in Corvallis. The store opened last weekend, and I've been dying to check it out. Guess what! Jerzees t-shirts in all sorts of colors that FIT! They're awesome! Oh, and the best part: 2 shirts for $5. SCORE! I bought four of them, blowing the entire clothing budget for next month. I can buy some iron-on transfer paper at the store to run through my inkjet printer and make my own designs. Ooooooo, the ideas are flowing!

Okay, that was way too many exclamation points in one paragraph. I apologize.

Anyway, my only comment about fashion and the people who like to pick on me, well... take a long, hard look in the mirror. You obviously aren't wearing Sirop or Lacroix, so you don't really have a leg to stand on. Oh, yeah, by the way, I do know haute couture. And I couldn't give a rat's ass that you don't like my t-shirts.

Michael's is a great addition to Corvallis. I'm sure I'm going to hear all about not supporting "local" craft stores, but the craft stores here never had what I was looking for anyway. Too many times I found myself scouring Albany, Salem, and beyond just to get decent products at acceptable prices. Who can argue with a whole AISLE of cake decorating supplies? My friends are going to become so fat...

Did I mention insanely cheap good t-shirts? *angels singing*

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #3 (aka "Who needs the personality adjustment now, Bubba?")

Mom calls it my "not thinking phase" and my "warm body phase" interchangeably. Apparently dating him wasn't the smartest move according to her. I might be wrong to disagree...

We met in high school, though we never hung out or talked. He was a geek, and I was a nerd, and that combination was bad news in my high school. Plus, he was a year ahead of me. I knew him by name, and I knew about him, but we still weren't friends.

After high school, he left for college. I joined him (and 20,000 other people) at OSU the following year. Since my best friend had become good friends with him, I got to re-meet him and know him better. His roommate was pretty cool, too. After a while, I realized I was into him, and something must have clicked because soon we were a couple.

What are the key parts of a successful relationship? In no particular order, I think they might be physical attraction, common interests, and effective communication.

When it comes to physical attraction, this guy and I weren't exactly seeing eye-to-eye. His idea of a workout involved drinking while brewing more alcohol or playing a computer game. Don't get me wrong--he wasn't unattractive--but we had very different ideas of what "attractive" is. That, and I got tired of him telling me how to look better. Because he was one to judge?! WTF?

Common interests, then? Um, NONE. Literally zero. We finally figured out that the only thing we had in common was where we went to school. Nothing else. Not one thing. Seriously! I couldn't find someone more opposite from myself. And that whole idea about opposites attracting? That's stupid, and it's horribly misinformed. We couldn't talk about anything, could never agree on what to do or where to go, what to eat, and we couldn't even agree on the weather!

And effective communication... well... not really. I was commuting from my parents' house to school, so I didn't stick around much after class. Aside from the once or twice a week I got to see him socially, we mostly talked online--and that was spotty since he was busy with "homework."

To top it all off, I was getting the feeling that my boyfriend was only dating me to get to my best friend, who, I might add, was dating his roommate. Not a pleasant feeling, but I tried to get over it and hoped for the best.

Well, the best got served to me one late night after three months of dating. We were trying to instant message each other while a party was going on in his dorm room. When I decided he was ignoring me for the alcohol and women, I stopped talking to him. After a few minutes, he popped back up to say, "I've been thinking: if this relationship is going to continue, one of us is going to have to have a serious personality adjustment." I think he was referring to me. That was pretty much the end of things.

I've seen him many, many times since, and we talk occasionally. He lived with another guy I ended up dating at a later time (see Boyfriend Chronicles #5, once I've written it). I still don't know why I dated him in the first place... maybe I was just looking for a warm body to like me back. Maybe I wasn't thinking like Mom says. In any case, I don't regret it. Ah, yes, live and learn!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Apartment Woes (aka: What is that thumping noise?)

This is my first apartment. In college, I lived with my parents the first two years (and saved a ton of money by commuting), and then moved into a rented house for the second two years. After college, I moved home for sixteen months. Now, I find myself loving and hating apartment life.

The thumping is my least favorite part of apartment life. One of my attached neighbors has a subwoofer against the adjoining wall, and they like to play disco crap all night long. *whump whump thump-a-thump* over and over and over. I'm not kidding. DISCO. I'd complain, but it's not consistent, nor is it worth making someone mad about. Did I mention it's disco? Yeah.

The guy downstairs... well, let's just call him Mr. Guitar Hero. And he's not good either. Guitar Hero is a video game where the player pretends to play a plastic guitar by pressing on the "strings" (really, keys) and "strumming." The video game responds by letting you know if you're doing things correctly to play the song. If you hit enough keys and strum at the right times, you advance to the next song/level. I've seen people play, and I don't know a single song they were attempting, but the game didn't seem to take much musical talent. Mr. Guitar Hero downstairs must also be deaf, for his sound is way up, and his ability to match that sound with his little plastic guitar is... missing. It's just bad. But he's having fun, and he keeps it down on weeknights, so I don't bother him about it.

And the guy on another wall likes to vacuum often. That's fine! I like a man who keeps his house tidy. :) But this guy has a Kirby vacuum. It's L-O-U-D. My grandparents had a couple Kirby vacuums. They're fantastic vacuums, and they last forever. I'm not knockin' the vacuum here one bit. The sound, though, is unmistakable. You don't easily forget a Kirby's high-pitched whir. So I call him Mr. Kirby. Because he likes to vacuum. I wonder if he'll vacuum for me...

It's not all bad: I live alone, so I don't have to worry about anyone else messing with my stuff. I don't clean up after anyone but myself, and I don't have to feed anyone else. I know how everything works, how hot the shower settings are, and if the washer and dryer are free (in the apartment, oh yeah!). Apartment life is good... as long as the thumping stops.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dance Coma Sunday (aka the aftermath)

A weekend full of dancing indeed! I went to both the west coast dance on Friday and the ballroom dance on Saturday, and my legs are all tingly still from moving so much.

Friday night's dance was fun: not very many people were there, so the floor was more open to dance. I didn't improve any on my technique, but my social skills with a fresh crop of dancers got some exercise (yay!). I have a love-hate relationship with WCS dancing, and right now I'm leaning more toward the latter. The dance is fun, but I guess I just don't understand some of the mechanics or how to make it look good.

Last night's masquerade-themed ballroom dance was a lot of fun! I went a bit over my budget when I found a beautiful sheer white blouse at a new store in Corvallis that just happened to pair nicely with a long black skirt. A trip to the craft store proved fruitful with some mask decorations, and I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon hot-gluing silk flowers to a plastic mask and making a flower necklace. The mask was surprisingly comfortable! A trick I've learned is to put some thin foam inside the mask wherever it rubs on your skin (think: Foamies foam). Next time, though, I'm removing all of the mask under my nose. Nothing says icky like a mask full of condensation. As pretty as I think I looked (questionable?), there's something about dancing in a long skirt I don't like.

Now it's Sunday, though, and my body is rebelling to all of my dancing and activity. My knees and feet are sore, and the rest of me wants nothing to do with moving. I did make some soup (even spiced it with part of my finger) (there is no flesh in my soup, I promise), and I watched some TV I'd taped earlier in the week. Next up, maybe some cookies, but even that might be too ambitious. I'm just not feeling like going down my stairs. Such dancing often leads to an aftermath I like to call a "dance coma."

This, dear friends, is what I like to call a LAZY Sunday.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #2

My mother warned me about him. "He's an older man," and "You shouldn't date a senior," I heard. But I didn't listen. He seemed like Mr. Wonderful. Oh to be fourteen, and stupid again...

He was the senior drum major in the marching band. Not exactly Mr. Popular. As a rookie, I knew I had a lot to learn in the band, and no one was making it easy for me. The drilling, the music, the constant riding from upperclassmen wore me out. But they all seemed to respect the "man" with the whistle. He was seventeen and had all the power. I looked up to him. I wanted to be him. High on a pedestal, I placed my prize.

He and I soon became two geeks in a pod. I played all the right tricks: sitting by him, casually walking by his classroom doors, being generally girly. When it was cold at our night practices, I'd ask him to warm up my hands with his. I'd even try to have lunch with some of his friends so he couldn't avoid me. Creepy huh?

Well, Mom warned me. She tried to tell me not to date him. You know that annoying part about mothers being right? I refused to listen. He asked me out to our winter formal dance, and I gladly accepted. From January through April, we were either side-by-side at school or on the phone at night. How he ever got anything done, I'll never know.

After about a month, though, things felt weird. His hands became cold, and his kisses made me feel icky. I maintain to this day that I never kissed him back. One night, probably in early March at an after-school function on campus, we snuck out into the hallway between the band room and the auditorium. He shoved me against a wall and started kissing me. Surprised, I reacted the only way I knew how: Right knee, meet Mr. Groin. That should have been a clue, but I was still enamored with his position of power in the band. Because I'm an idiot.

One day in April, the band was outside practicing for a parade. We were stopped in the middle of a quiet side street. He was shouting orders and blowing his whistle as if his lungs would burst if he didn't make noise. One girl in my section dared to defy him. Without so much as a sound, he stormed over to her with long, powerful steps. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her until she screamed. While I agreed that the girl had been out of line, his behavior toward her was my awakening.

It took me two weeks to write a Dear John letter to him and finally end our silly relationship. I've only spoken to him once since. That was once too many. I am not always bright when it comes to picking great guys, but I will not tolerate someone who thinks it's okay to pin sweet, innocent girls to the wall or shake someone for disobeying. Unacceptable.

Some people would say that I regret dating him. I don't. I learned two very important lessons from that time in my life:

1. It takes three months for a person to tell you all of their lies. It takes three more months for you to figure out who they really are. (à la Fools Rush In)

2. Just because they have all the power and intelligence, it doesn't mean they'll be nice.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Lost Art of "The Nod"

Growing up in rural Oregon taught me many things (the least of which being redneck behavior, so I don't even want to hear it). One thing I've missed most since moving away from Lebanon is The Nod. At home, when I'd walk through the grocery store or when I was washing my car, people would nod to me as if to say, "Hi, nice to see you." When waiting at a crosswalk, I'd nod to the other person to let them know I was waiting for them to proceed. Nodding was especially helpful when working with elderly people because it shows interest and communicates respect without making noise or moving quickly.

Now that I live in Corvallis, I don't see people nodding. They honk, they rush, and they ignore. I don't feel like part of this community. There's no waving, not even casual glances... as if people here are only worried about looking perfect and one-upping others. I want to bring back nods!

There are two kinds of nods: up and down. The "down" nod is almost like a bow from the neck. It demonstrates respect and deference in this culture. It can be formal (slower, generally), or informal and short, almost imperceptible. I do a medium-fast nod most of the time, slower to people I respect more though.

The "up" nod I see punk kids doing to their friends, raising their chins and look down their noses quickly... I call this the "bobblehead greeting" because when one kid does it, the rest follow suit. Everyone ends up looking like a bobblehead. My friend informed me that he uses the "up" nod when he sees someone higher than he is (in the air--like on a ladder). In this case, I suppose an "up" nod might be better than a "down" nod, but I'm still not a big fan of it.

Nodding helps people acknowledge and respect one another. To show the top of your head, to show you see someone... I say we bring it back. Try it and tell me what you find!

Bonus points for tipping your hat. Double bonus points for tipping a top hat.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Boyfriend Chronicles: #1

He was the first guy I ever held hands with, the first guy I wrote my initials with in a heart, and the first boy I kissed. He was charming, funny, nerdy, and sweet. Ah, the memories of 8th grade...

Matt played the only oboe in the band, and I played 1st-chair flute, so we sat next to each other every day for an hour. Talking led to friendship, and friendship led to what can only be described as the most innocent, pure, dorky romance on earth. We only saw each other at school--never outside of class or lunch--yet we held hands as we strolled along the walkways between buildings. Innocent indeed!

Well, until The Kiss. One day, almost six months into our fledgling romance, our friends cornered us at lunchtime between the cafeteria and gym. They told us that we'd have to kiss each other on the cheek, or else they wouldn't let us leave. Our friends were pretty experienced (or so we thought, and really, in 8th grade it's all about appearance), so we couldn't let them down. They shoved us close to each other putting us face-to-face. I looked at him, and he stared back with that blank question mark deer-in-headlights look. Of course, I probably had that same look... but oh well. I leaned forward to kiss his cheek expecting him to present it. When he failed to turn his head, our lips touched. We kissed. Thus, Matt was my first kiss. (The first of many sweet, innocent kisses I might add.)

Summer officially ended school for the year, and we vowed to not date other people even though we likely wouldn't see each other until the next autumn. It wasn't exactly hard to avoid people when I never went out... and I talked to Matt on the phone every day. We were great friends, and we shared many of the same interests. But two months of being apart had strained our conversations. Maybe we grew apart... maybe we couldn't handle a real relationship... I don't know. I broke up with him over the phone. No tears, no apologies, simple and matter-of-fact.

We went to high school together, often sitting next to each other in band or in other classes. He dated other people, and I developed other friends. We still talked occasionally, but I don't think either one of us wanted to see about starting over. That's just how it was: uncomplicated.

I haven't talked to him since we graduated high school almost six years ago. He left the state for college. Even though we're no longer friends, I hope he's well and happy. If nothing else, he was truly special to me for that one shining moment called 8th grade. I won't easily forget him, nor will I ever forget that perfect first kiss.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Facebook E-vitations Anyone? Anyone?

It's all about the e-vitation and who's going to what events. And I'm not all about that.

Facebook, the social networking site that seems to have taken over my friends' lives, has an original application called "Events." On this application, a user can set up an event and invite all of their friends to it. The events can be totally private or 100% public, or they can be partially open to small crowds. If you are invited to an event, you simply RSVP with "Attending," "Maybe Attending," or "Not Attending." Users can see each guest list by type (who is and is not attending), and they can view more information about the event.

But I'm seeing an alarming trend: every happening moment seems to be marked with an event. Sure birthday parties and weddings deserve E-vitations, as do cultural events or other community goings-on. However, I'm not sure you needed to create an event to invite six friends along on your shopping trip. I'm not sure we need to have a full guest list for every single dance (seriously, will it matter in six minutes?). Not everyone RSVP's to every event, so the guest lists aren't even accurate. Furthermore, sending invitations to a public event is rather redundant. We all know about, and we'll go whether we RSVP on Facebook or not.

My friends continue to send me these E-vitations, and I continue to either ignore them or mark "Maybe Attending." If someone really wants to know about my potential attendance, they can e-mail me, instant message, text message, call, or just ask me in person. Sometimes I don't know and can't give an answer right away, so I won't say yes or no. That happens too.

I think I'm going to create an un-event. A moment in time, ambiguously in the future, located somewhere unimportant, with people that may or may not show up. I'm going to call it "Spontaneous Event," because it will miraculously happen in that perfect moment when no one expects it. After all, aren't those the events to live for?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Peterson's Butte Hike (Pictures) #3

 
Conk or artist's or shelf fungi, approximately 8" diameter by 5" height.















More fungi growing on the end of an old log. I don't know what kind it is, but it looked awesome!





Looking west toward Mary's Peak from the top of Peterson's Butte.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Peterson's Butte Hike (Pictures) #2




Looking over Lebanon, Oregon from Peterson's Butte













Lichen, grass, and moss all growing together on a rock. The white fuzzy stuff is wool from sheep that have been grazing on the hill.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hiking Peterson's Butte

As part of a Build Lebanon Trails organized hike, today I conquered Peterson's Butte. Rephrase: My father and I and about a hundred other people stormed to the top, took a ton of pictures, and slid back down.

Peterson's Butte is located just off Airport Road to the southwest of Lebanon. It is approximately 1400' tall rising from a 400' elevation at the base. The entire "hill" is privately owned, and no public trails lead to the top. Today was the only opportunity for the general public to climb to the summit (until more hikes are organized or a trail is opened). My dad and I jumped at the chance since the hike was canceled last year due to fire danger.

After parking at the bottom of the mountain on the north side, we met up with the beginnings of a very large mob. There, I ran into one of my best friends from high school (Hi David!), and we had a good chat. I'd even wondered aloud to my dad as we were walking from the truck to the trailhead if I'd see anyone I knew. "It's a small town and a big mountain... odds are good." I'm glad he was right.

The trail up was mucky with springs pouring water straight down the dirt paths. Footing was difficult in the slime, but if you watched your step, it wasn't horrible. I slid, but I never fell. And I didn't think 1000' up would change the oxygen levels too much, but holy cow, I was wheezing and gasping and sucking air like an accordion the whole way up. Now I'm in good shape--I dance every week and get moderate exercise, but there were some swift forty-year-olds passing me! Ugh! At least there was shade and a good breeze, otherwise it would have been too hot for this delicate girl... ha!

The views from the top of the mountain (an hour-fifteen later) were indeed spectacular. We could see Mary's Peak in one direction and The Three Sisters in the other direction. We could pick out highways and roads, houses, farms, even sheep and cows. Dad and I had binoculars, so we could see almost to Albany and Corvallis. The green fields spread out in every direction, a perfect puzzle of grass and trees. So pretty... words fail me. Breathtaking. Literally.

We sat on top for a long while taking pictures and had a snack before ambling down the steep hill. The whole jaunt, my knees and thighs cried out. I must be getting too old or torn up to descend such inclines... oh how I hurt! But the view was worth it, I told myself. ~stumble, stumble, slip, walk, stumble~

Hours on the hill: three
Number of pictures taken: ninety
Sore muscles: many
Probability of me walking tomorrow: one in several hundred
Hiking Peterson's Butte: absolutely priceless

Pictures tomorrow!

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Mother knows best" - or does she?

When I was living under my parents' roof (waaaay back in the day, like, eight months ago), they'd often accuse me of "hiding online." They didn't understand that, throughout high school, my connection to friends was through instant messaging. They didn't understand the catharsis of writing blog posts.

Whether I like it or not, instant messaging is one of my prime forms of communication. I've been "IMing" regularly for over ten years, from my earliest client (I still have the same 8-digit ICQ number, ha!) to my MSN Messenger and AOL IM days through my G-mail Chat use today. I have a Yahoo! account that I rarely use as well. My parents used to tell me that I could only be online for half an hour in the evenings--and that included homework, games, and instant messaging. Let me tell you, I learned to type quickly. When I got into college and my parents opted to finally get high-speed internet, I could spend more time online because the phone line wasn't tied up. My computer use quadrupled. So did my IM list of friends. Productivity... decreased. And even now, if I want to get something done online, I set myself as "offline" so friends can't try talking to me.

Growing up, I didn't go to friends' houses often. Either they lived too far away or my parents wouldn't allow me to go over there. I didn't have many friends anyway, just a handful--and I'm still close with most of them. IMing was how I talked to them, how I communicated with my world. It allowed me to voice my opinions and carefully hone my arguing skills. It taught me the value of cooperative learning, how to multitask, and how to procrastinate successfully. I learned patience as I waited for an answer on the other end, and I debated important topics (like politics and love and who makes the best cheeseburger). My life wouldn't be the same without instant messaging, and I mean that in the best possible way.

My parents were always on my case, though. They didn't want me spending my life sitting at a computer every night. I don't know if they felt ignored, or if they simply wanted me to have a real social life... I guess it doesn't matter much now, but I wonder why they were so insistent about the computer being my "hiding place." The world of instant messaging and blogging allowed me to open up, to grow, and to learn.

The words, "Mother knows best," don't seem to fit here. My mom is a wonderful woman to be certain, and she's very smart about many things (oh, how it pains me to admit that). But maybe she wasn't right about keeping me from spending time online talking to friends. Maybe, just maybe I was right.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Dance in the Shower

In the way that some people love sleeping in or meditating or cooking elaborate meals, I love showers. Of course, I enjoy those other things too, but showers are my thing.

When I shower, I'm alone. Some of you might wonder, "Aren't all showers alone?" They don't have to be... and someone could conceivable be in the bathroom with me (if I didn't live alone). But I am even more alone. I'm not distracted by the computer or my electronic leash cell phone. I'm not thinking about instant messages or the TV. In the shower, I'm left to my own thoughts and nothing else.

The shower is warm and relaxing. Even my bed, with it's electric blanket and down comforters, isn't as warm. And in the summer, the cool water refreshes me as well. No couch, bed, or even plush carpeted floor can be as relaxing as a good shower.

It is my escape from the world, my ten minutes of solitude and quiet. I look forward to those few moments each day when I can strip off my clothes, remove myself if only for a while, and mentally collapse.

My friends make fun of me for being adamant about my evening showers, adamant that I get one in before they come over for dinner. It doesn't always happen, and it doesn't break my heart when I can't shower right away, but I'll make an effort to squeeze even a quick shower in if I can. I've always taken my showers later in the day, and I can't see myself changing anytime soon. They're not all long showers either, so don't send me some mean comment about how I'm wasting water. I'm quick enough.

Some people dance in the rain. I admit that, yes, I've danced in the shower. :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

An Update on my Developing Religious Life

One of the areas my life has changed recently has been in religion. I don't write about it often, and I don't want to make it seem like I'm forcing these beliefs on you. Read if you'd like, but I completely respect you for not driving my ORblogs clicks up. ;)

For Lent, I attempted to devote a bit of time each day week to some religious topic or another. I wasn't always successful, and I admit that. Though Lent is over, Easter has come and gone, and I don't feel obligated to studying anymore, I still am. I've actually gone to church a few times, the last time unprompted. On Sunday, I even got up early to go to mass, and then I spent eight hours reading online. Oh, how much I've learned!

I can't begin to tell you all the things I've walked across, how varied the topics, or how deep I've thought recently. I didn't get into this subject with the hope of finding a church--that has never been my goal. I wanted to learn what the big deal was, what the history of the church is, and how different people believe. Now I know some of that.

And as I was sitting/standing/kneeling (Catholics do that a lot--and I like it), I was taken up with the ceremony and reverence. I used to think the rehearsed prayers were fake or that they lacked emotion, as if using someone else's words wasn't as meaningful as using your own (like plagiarizing prayers--and plagiarism is bad, kids). But now I enjoy the quiet repetition of prayers and the chants and the solemnity of mass.

I don't know if I could become Catholic... I'm still working a few things out internally. I don't understand many things still, and I'm learning. That's all I've ever wanted to do.

But one quick thing before I go: I'm getting really tired of people suggesting I don't have a personal relationship with God simply because I wasn't raised in church or baptized the instant I was born. I'm tired of defending myself, tired of answering obnoxious questions, and exhausted from getting that look of condescension. I'm SO over that.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Talking about Thinking

One-on-one conversations recently have yielded some amazing personal growth. I love having discussions about thought and philosophy, especially practical philosophy (not the unanswerable topics like "what is life?" but more like, "why do we behave like this?").

Tonight, as I was sitting down to write a very different post, an old friend/roommate called me to say he was in the area. He stopped by, and we ended up talking for a couple hours. We're different people with different outlooks on life--those differences don't stop us from recognizing the value in each other and respecting each other completely.

It's a bit weird, though, to think that I lived with him for three months and still find myself amazed by his depth of thought. He's fun to talk to, not because of his listening skills, but because of his ability to create more and deeper conversation. His listening skills are fine, though, not to put those down. He makes me think, and I hope I help him think a bit too.

Now that he's gone home for the night, I'm still thinking, and maybe I'll figure myself out later... at the moment, though, I see some ice cream in my future.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Uninspired

Even though I post something here just about every day, some days I wonder how long I can keep it up. Tonight, I feel like I have nothing important to say. Even worse is that big things have happened to me lately, but they're not the kind of thing I rush to the blog to talk about. Work is fine, my family and friends are well, and nothing earth-shattering has happened, but still, my life is changing whether I like it or not.

When I get home from work, sometimes the last thing I want to do is sit back down to a computer and try to come up with a witty post. Other days, I run straight to this screen and type as fast as I can.

But what good is any of it? All of this information about me in my own words... something for my children to read perhaps, far down the road when I actually have kids? I don't think I'm that interesting, yet I continue to write every day. I'm not sure why.

Maybe the call isn't to ask why I write, but simply to get it out... and so I shall.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Single Rose

I love quality camera time, and this rose (a gift) demanded pictures. With nothing of consequence to write today, I leave you with the picture.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Jaggy's Pet Peeves

1. Do NOT be late. Don't make me wait for you, and don't make anyone more important than you wait. Oh, and here's a clue: everyone is more important than you. We had a saying when I was in high school that stuck with me... "To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be dead." Do NOT be late.

2. Do NOT invite yourself over or along for the ride. If your presence is requested, then agree (or not), and leave it at that. Just because you were invited along the last six times doesn't guarantee you a spot this time. Oh, and NEVER invite yourself along and then bring friends. It's bad enough that you weaseled your way into the situation, and then you double the party with unexpected guests... bad form, especially if it's a function when food is being served.

The first rule comes with few exceptions, so don't think I'm a hard-liner. If you're simply meeting up with friends for a movie and are going to be five minutes late, big deal. I'm not talking about one or two friends showing up a couple minutes late to a casual afternoon outing. I'm not going to get mad if someone has to drive two hours to a family gathering and is half an hour later than they planned. Sometimes it really doesn't matter. But if a time was set, it's a matter of respect to let people know if you're going to be unreasonably late.

And the second rule comes with even fewer exceptions. One of my friends has an open-door policy with me, and likewise, he's welcome here anytime I'm home. But he damn well better call first to make sure it's okay if he stops by. You don't just show up. You don't! I wouldn't even invite myself along on a trip with my parents, and I don't visit them unannounced even though I'm welcome at any time and have a house key.

These are my pet peeves. Be on time, and don't invite yourself over.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Random Questions VI

1. What are your initials?
Jaggy doesn't have initials... "Jaggy" is short enough.

2. What is your favorite thing to wear?
comfortable clothes... I'm not picky as long as I'm warm, covered, and matching

3. Last thing you ate?
the yummiest yeastiest rolls on earth

4. Favorite recording artist?
Scott Grimes!

5. I say "shotgun," you say?
Haha, that means I'm driving, and you're going to be carsick.

6. Last person you hugged?
Andrew

7. Does anyone you know want to date you?
Not that I know of... but if he does, let it be known.

8. The last place you went out to dinner?
PizzAmore

9. Who is your best friend?
Haven't we covered this question a dozen times? Matthew!

10. Why are you still up?
Because I don't want to go to bed, so there.

11. Who/what made you angry today?
driving on the highway

12. Favorite type of food?
comfort food: milk noodle, cream-of-wheat bread, or swedish meatballs (Mom's cookin!)

13. Favorite holidays?
The ones I get off from work.

14. Do you care if your socks are dirty?
Yes, dirty socks are gross.

15. Has anyone ever sang or played music for you personally?
Um, probably. As a musician, I have had lots of people play music for me to hear, but I'm not sure if it was for me personally.

16. Do you love anyone?
Yes.

17. Have you ever bungee jumped?
No.

18. Have you ever gone white-water rafting?
Hell no.

19. Has anyone ten years older than you ever hit on you?
Too many to count...

20. Have you met a real redneck?
I grew up in Redneck Central, but I'm not, in fact, one of them.

21. Hows the weather right now?
Pretty darn good.

22. What are you listening to right now?
Nothing, and I like it that way.

23. What is your current favorite song?
don't know that I have one, but I'm fond of Ella Fitzgerald this evening...

24. What was the last movie you watched?
The Princess Bride

25. Do you wear contacts?
Yes, one in each eye. Would you like me to show you?

26. Where was the last place you went besides your house?
Work. As usual.

27. What are you afraid of?
I have phobias of spiders, heights, and dogs. But I'm not a big fan of stupid people either.

28. How many piercings do you have?
Two, one in each ear. Plain and simple.

29. How many pets do you have?
None.

30. What is one thing you've learned this winter?
Heat is expensive!

31. What do you usually order from Starbucks?
Nothing, ever. I've never been in a Starbucks, and I hate coffee.

32. Have you ever fired a gun?
Yes I have. A big gun.

33. Favorite TV show?
at the moment, Life.

34. Who would you like to see right now?
Mr. Right, whoever that is

35. Favorite movie?
The Peacemaker

36. Favorite flower?
purple fall crocus

37. Butter, plain, or salted popcorn?
kettle! I don't like buttered popcorn, and I don't like salty things.

38. What magazines are you reading?
none

39. Has anyone you were close to passed away recently?
yes

40. What's something that really bugs you?
depends... little things can bug me, and other times I let it go.

41. Do you like Michael Jackson?
not especially

42. What's your favorite smell?
Old Spice! and freshly-showered-boy :)

43. Favorite baseball team?
OSU BEAVERS! um, duh?

44 Favorite cereal?
Honey Nut Cheerios (but I have a soft spot for Fruit Loops)

45. What's the longest time you've gone without sleep?
3 days, no joke

46. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Anything's possible, right? I don't see why it's not possible...

47. Where is the weirdest place you have slept?
As a child, I would fall asleep in grocery carts. As an adult... I can't think of any "weird" places.

48. Who was your last phone call?
Mom

49. Who was your last text message?
Kevin

50. Closest green object to you?
Tatum, my little green caterpillar toy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It's not about the money. Oh wait, it IS!

...and then I peeled a $20 bill off the roll I'd had stuffed in my pocket. People stared at the greenbacks. I paid the... oh wait! I DON'T HAVE ANY CASH!

If the power ever goes out, I'm screwed. This morning, I was too lazy to make a sandwich. I've been really good lately about not buying lunch--a sandwich usually fills me up anyway (especially the kind washed down with a half-dozen couple homemade cookies). Instead, I figured I'd stop at the ATM and get $5 for lunch. No big deal, I do this all the time.

Except the ATM wasn't working. And I refuse to pay the $2 (or more) charges for using another bank's ATM. I tried going into another store in the MU today to see if they'd let me buy a pop and give me cash back as part of the transaction, but they refused. I even checked at the bookstore, and they refused cash back as well. No cash for me!

I had to eat at Panda Express since they're the only place that will take a debit card (and Carl's Jr. just sucks). I really, really don't like eating that crap. Even the steamed rice was gross today, and don't get me started on that shit they call orange chicken. Yes, I swore. Get over it.

As I was gagging down my pseudo-meat, I chastised myself for not carrying more cash. There is no reason a professional adult shouldn't be able to keep $10 in her wallet. Except that I like to feed my $1 bills into the pop machine upstairs... every day...

You know the worst part? Pretty soon I'm going to experience "Revenge of the Panda." While dancing. Lucky boys!

You know what's worse? I STILL DON'T HAVE ANY CASH!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I feel a vacation coming on...

Sometimes I can't remember the last vacation I had. How many years has it been since I left this valley? Was it almost two years ago for a wedding in central Oregon? Was it a year ago that I drove to Astoria? Do trips to Portland count as "getting out"?

Please understand, dear reader, that I love Oregon. I am a native, and I've traveled just about everywhere in this wonderful state. I've seen and done and been. I've lived here forever, and I have no intentions of ever leaving. And don't think I say such things idly... oh no. I've been to many states (north, south, and as far as the midwest). I've seen what the flatlands and mountains have to offer. The valley is my home.

I don't know where I'd go, though. I can't afford to go far, and I don't really want to fly anywhere... I don't have a passport, don't need to go to Mexico, and can't see myself shopping anywhere.

Where do you suggest I visit? Where are some of the places you've liked? Where would you like to go on vacation?