Monday, June 30, 2008

It's All About Respect

Oh, kids these days! They just don't have any respect for their elders. They think they have it so easy. They, blah blah blah...

I've heard it all before. I'm some young no-good idiot kid with no idea what real work is because Mommy and Daddy never made me think or work in my life. I don't know what it's like to go hungry, and I've never lived on the streets, and I haven't had to work a really hard job.

Though my parents might have messed up a few tiny details in how they raised my sister and me, they got one thing down: respect. In all my years growing up, I was rarely allowed to call an adult by their first name. My teachers were always "Mr." or "Mrs." Our neighbors were also last-name titles. Once in a great while, I could use a first name. My best friend's parents who lived behind us were one example. My mother's friends were the only others as far as I can remember.

Even today, I prefer titles for people older than me (like, 10 years older or more, sorry friends). My professors in college were always "Dr. So-and-so," never by their first name (unless I was corrected, and usually more than once). The man who writes Astoria Rust calls himself "Guy," but he'll always be "Mr. Guy" to me. It seems fitting. I think he likes it... maybe not, but he's still a "Mister" to me. That, and he hasn't corrected me... :)

My family gets titles, too. My aunts and uncles are always "Aunt Jane" and "Uncle John." My cousins are referred to as "Cousin James" when I'm talking about them in conversation, but I use their first name when I am talking to them personally (same age group, right?). My grandparents have been "Grandpa Smith," not "Grandma Sally." When I am talking to my grandmothers, though, they're just "Gramma" (and yes, I do say it like that).

It's all about respect. Kids these days are learning it, and some will grow up with it and pass it on to their kids. Before you start lumping us all in the same boat, know that there are exceptions who learned things the "right" way.

How did you learn? What did you teach your kids? How do you feel about being titled?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Shoe Shopping Nightmare

I can't remember how many times I've ranted about my shopping woes on the blog, but yesterday just about did me in. Later this year, I'm going to be a bridesmaid for both of my college roommates. They managed to both pick the same color bridesmaid dresses, so I only had to buy one dress for both weddings. The dress is beautiful (shocking, right?), and I'll get miles of use out of it after the weddings (even better). It's a black satin tea-length strapless dress, simple and tasteful for any occasion. But finding shoes for the dress is impossible.

Let me say this once and for all: I refuse to wear uncomfortable shoes. I won't do it. My feet, knees, and back are too important for me to be wearing ill-fitting shoes. Blisters are not an option, even in dancing shoes. I will not be uncomfortable, and I will pay whatever it takes to not feel that way in shoes. No compromises. And no, I don't feel guilty or snobby about this either: it's a matter of health and peace of mind. I'm pretty much only this way about shoes and bras, and I'm okay with that.

Shoe shopping is a pain for me: I wear a size 9AAA usually. When I do buy shoes, I stick to the same brands that offer narrower widths at atrociously high prices (but they last forever and look good to the very end). Even with narrow shoes, I have to buy insoles to make the arches high enough and the shoes snug enough. It's a huge drag to go shoe shopping. I see really cute styles and fun-looking shoes, but I know they won't fit. I have twenty-four years of experience telling me that those pointy-toed spiked heels are just not going to be fun after 3 minutes.

Yesterday, my boyfriend accompanied me on the longest shoe-shopping expedition I've gone on. I was determined to find shoes for the upcoming weddings, and I was very specific in what I wanted: flats with an ankle strap (or at least mid-arch strap), black and dressy, or as close to a "Mary Jane" style as I could find. Current fashion trends, however, aren't exactly producing what I wanted, and nobody was selling the styles I was looking for. We both looked high and low, and I tried on a couple pairs, but still, no luck.

I have to hand it to Kevin: he's a real trooper when it comes to shopping. He has taken the time to try and figure out what my personal style is, and he does a damn good job helping me look for stuff. He would pick up a shoe, shake his head, and put it back down. Part of me giggled inside (out loud sometimes), and part of me couldn't get over how awesome he is to take shopping.

After countless stores in two different shopping malls, I ended up not being able to find the shoes I wanted. We ventured over to a music store for my consolation prize (hey, new piano music is an educational venture as well as a lifelong love, and that $20 will get me through next year, so screw my budget). We went home defeated.

On my drive back to Corvallis, I decided to make one more stop at a rather new store. I walked all over until I found a pair I realized I couldn't leave the store without. They're black flats, and they're dressy with just a hint of outdoorsy girlyness. They have two straps across the arch (yay!), and they were under $50. Both Emily and Rachel know what they look like, and they both agreed the shoes would be fine for the weddings (phew!). And my shoe shopping nightmare is officially over.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

D'OH!

In case you missed things looking slightly different on my blog, they do. Why? Oh, I just broke my own blog code late Friday night. I was tinkering around with the CSS and somehow managed to mangle things up pretty good. Just as I went to revert to my last save, I saved the bad code by mistake. And I have no back-up copy. Yeah. I'm an idiot. So I had to download the code again, tweak it as good as I could remember, and called it a night. Not happy with myself about it, but what can ya do?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Will you hold my hand?

I saw Wall-E tonight, and I'm both overjoyed and heartbroken in the same instant. The movie was fantastic (especially the opening cartoon)! But I wish The Boy could have been there with me. My sister really wanted to see the movie, and with both of our boyfriends out of town, we made it a girls' night out. My sister is great fun, and we both enjoyed the film.

Something about the movie, though, made my heart weep. When Wall-E and Eve try to hold each other's hands, oy! The Boy and I do that, too. Doesn't matter where we're going or what we're doing, we're hand-in-hand. It was such a natural thing for us, I guess... and we both love it. Maybe it's because we're dancers. Maybe it's because we like having the other person close to us. I don't know what the reason is, but the fact remains: we're hand-holders through and through.

Last weekend, when Mom and I were walking down the street, I instinctively reached out and groped for that familiar hand. After groping about in thin air, I realized he wasn't next to me, and a tiny part of me cried out. Ugh, I sound so sappy, but it's true.

Go see Wall-E. But make sure you have someone who you can hold hands with when you go. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Angel on my Shoulder has an Irish Accent...

...and I think he goes by "Murray." He tells me when I'm about to go wrong, and he doesn't pull punches either. Murray warns often, "'Ey, ye bleedin' eejit, don't do thet!" Sometimes he swears at me. I worry about angels swearing--that can't be right--but I guess if it gets the job done, he's okay. Murray plays a fife (he's not very good at it). Oh, and he doesn't have wings, either. An angel without wings... seems like a problem to me. What else can I say about the little guy from Éire? Murray's not too fond of the guy next door.

Speaking of the devil (har har), the left shoulder-rider sounds a bit like Joey Lawrence. He doesn't have a name. He is rather scrawny, but what he lacks in brawn he more than makes up for with wit and persuasiveness. I've almost burst out laughing with his occasional "Whoa!" and other snarky comments. The devil enjoys surfing, philosophy, and things that go "beep."

I really wish I was making all of this up. ;)

What do the devil and angel on your shoulder sound or look like?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Random Questions IX

Are you happy with your given name?
Sure

What is your guaranteed weeping movie?
Not sure there's a specific movie, but I can't read Where the Red Fern Grows without bawling.

What is the one thing you like to do alone?
Too many to count, probably... practice on the piano, read, write, or sing top my list.

Describe your bed.
Twin-sized with light blue flannel sheets and a light blue down comforter, neatly made

What do you carry with you at all times?
Chap stick, nail clippers, cell phone, wallet, keys, and often my camera and sunglasses.

How do you eat an apple?
I usually slice it into wedges, core it, and eat it with peanut butter or caramel.

What kind of first impression do you think you give people?
Intelligent, with a hint of snobbery I imagine. I am told that I'm intimidating at first glance.

What should you be doing instead of this?
"Should" is such an awful word. I "should" do lots of stuff. Does that mean it's going to happen? I don't think so, mister. I'm going to blog, then maybe take a shower. Maybe not. We'll see.

Who was the last person who called you?
My sister, I think.

Are you ready?
Never. Even when I think I'm 100% prepared, I'm amazed at how things turn out.

What is the last gift you gave someone?
A pillow, to Grandma, because she asked me to make one for her.

Does everything happen for a reason?
No. Shit happens. Sometimes it just does.

What color is your bedroom?
The walls are white. The blinds and curtains are white. I'm going with white on this one.

Do you consider yourself to be a nice person?
There is a difference between "nice" and "respectful." I'm respectful of people, but I might not be "nice" to them until I get to know them better.

What kind of watch do you wear?
Fossil

What’s one car you will never buy?
A Lexus (HA, Kevin!) Seriously, though, I can't see myself buying Geo or Kia anything. Why even bother?

Would you die to save the life of someone you dearly love?
Absolutely.

What was the last thing you typed before this survey?
Facebook status, I think.

What is the little physical habit that gives away your insecure moments?
I have no idea. Maybe folding my arms or furrowing my brow, but I really don't know. Does anyone have any ideas?

Name ONE trait you hate in a person.
Disrespect.

What’s one thing you’re a loser at?
Video games. Sports. Singing. Oh, just one?

When is the last time you made someone cry?
Other than my sister when we were little, I'm not sure I've made anyone cry. If I did, I'm heartily sorry.

Do you like the rain?
LOVE it.

Who was the last person you talked to in person?
Rachel.

What are your plans for the weekend?
Hmm, boredom covered boredom anyone? Oh, and then a wedding. Not mine.

How much money would it take for you to give up the internet for a year?
Do I get to keep my connection and use instant messaging, or are we talking zero online access? Do I have to give it up at work too? If I have to go dark completely, we're talking six figures. If I get to keep instant messaging, I might consider it in exchange for enough to cover my student loans.

How long have you known your best friend?
Sixteen or seventeen years for Matthew. Slightly less for Rachel. Just under one year for Kevin.

What are you listening to?
Silence. Because it's amazing!

What was the last thing you laughed at?
Myself.

What do you wish you were doing right now?
Making dinner for Mr. Wonderful (gosh, I'm such a stereotype!)

What musical instrument do you wish you could play?
It's so hard to say this without sounding conceited, but I've had an opportunity to learn so many instruments in my life that I can't pick one. I can play a piano and most of the woodwinds, and I don't particularly enjoy the buzzing of the brass instruments. I'd love to learn something with strings. A viola or bass perhaps...

What's the greatest thing that happened to you today?
I figured out that I won't die if I accidentally (or not so accidentally) double-up on my allergy meds, and that twice as much really does work twice as well.

What's on your bedroom floor right now?
Furniture. I'm kind of neat like that.

What's currently bothering you?
Work crap, missing my boy, and how lazy I am about actually getting exercise sometimes. Oh, and I haven't danced in three weeks and am going through withdrawls.

Are your toe nails painted pink?
No way, I don't like nail polish. I'm not really into pink either.

Are you close with your mom?
Sure. She's my mom. How do you define "close"? I guess we are... I mean, we get along much better now that I don't live there, but I come from a pretty close-knit family. Too close sometimes. I don't know. I love her, and I know she loves me, and we see each other about once a week, so yeah.

When were you last outside?
About an hour ago when I came home from work.

Look to your left. What is there?
Dresser, fan, computer, garbage can.

What time did you go to sleep last night?
11:30 (late!)

Why did you kiss the last person you kissed?
Because it was the right thing to do. :D

What were you doing at 8 am?
Working

What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Dinner-ing

Do you like your life as of now?
Very, very much

Last text message from?
Mr. Wonderful

Are you happy right now?
Not especially, but I'm working on it

Do you wear the seatbelt in the car?
Without fail.

What are you going to do tomorrow?
Work, sleep, read, and maybe cook.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Information needs to go both ways, Hello!

I had a moment in Staples tonight that I'd like to share with the whole bleepin' world. Yes, it is a bit embarrassing. No, I'm not an idiot. But sometimes I act like one.

At lunch today, I ran down to the AT&T store to price-shop some Bluetooth headsets. When I walked into the store, I immediately recognized one of the salesmen as a dancer. We greeted each other coldly (not exactly friends), and he asked if he could help me. I told him what I was after, and he shoved the most expensive models in my face. Um, yeah... no sale. I said my good-byes and marched out of the store without buying anything. His rudeness bothered me for the rest of the lunch hour, and I took my afternoon break to do some quick research about the headsets and about flash drives for my cell phone.

I hate shopping, so my pre-store-entry routine usually involves tons of research. I will price-shop until I know I'm going to get a good deal. I will wait for sales, will barter, will do just about anything to think I'm coming out ahead. So in my research today, I identified the two or three models of headsets I liked and would be interested in purchasing. I also found the memory card I wanted. Armed with a couple questions, a good hold on my wallet, and an attitude, I set out after work to Staples.

When I walked into the store, I made a straight line to the headsets. I was looking for the one I wanted most when I saw huge sale stickers. Reaching down, I realized *the one* was 50% off. SWEET! Oh, and I got the last one in the store. Neener neener neener. Having some extra cash due to the savings, I ambled over to the memory cards. Sale again! Score. 1GB for $15.

But then I hit a problem: how am I going to get information from the memory card in my phone to my computer? I needed a cable, a contraption, a device, a... something. I found some card readers, but they weren't labeled well, and I couldn't tell if they'd accept the card I was buying. And of course, because I had a question, nobody was around to help me. I walked over to the customer service counter and asked the nice lady for some help. She called a guy over to help me. I carefully worded my question, "I have a memory card that I'd like to buy, but I need to know if I put the card into the reader and connect the reader to my computer, will the reader also write to the memory card?" (Remember: DVD players only play, they don't write to DVDs, and the card reader specifically said READER, not read-writer. This is my logic.)
His reply: "The reader doesn't actually store data."
Um, no really? I knew that, which is why I asked the way I did. "Does the reader also write?"
He was dumbfounded that I didn't understand him the first time. "The reader doesn't hold information. You save data to the card, then you put the card in the reader, and then the computer reads the data out of the reader." Clear as mud?

By this time I'm running down. I'm not stupid, and I'm not a complete idiot when it comes to computers. The packaging didn't make sense to me the way it was written as a "reader" in the context of storage devices like CD drives or DVD drives. I have a USB drive, and I even know how they work, but the idea of a "read-only" card reader had me baffled.

Finally, another nice sales associate came over. I asked him the exact same question I asked the first guy. His response? "Yes." THANK YOU!

I know I have moments of utter insanity, and perhaps this was one of them. In any case, the packaging for card "readers" is misleading. They should be called card "translators" or card "transfer devices." That would be much better.

Now I have a hands-free wireless Bluetooth headset (so I can talk while I'm driving more safely, talk while I'm cooking, or just talk normally), a memory card (loaaaaaded with music), and a card reader (that also writes, thankyouverymuch). And I saved, like, $50. So there.

(I'm gonna go lay off the parenthetical notations now, k?)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Peterson's Butte Panorama View (picture)

From the top of Peterson's Butte looking from west-southwest to east.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's a wonder how I was able to climb my apartment's stairs...

Yesterday could not have been more busy. From 6:00am until 11:30pm, I was doing something. How much can be done in a day? This is as far as I was able to get:

-Pack car
-Breakfast on drive to Albany
-Unpack car
-Set up for garage sale
-Steal kitchen gadgets from Mom
-Run out of things to sell
-Visit other neighborhood garage sales
-Talk to Grandma and Aunt
-Take remaining items to Goodwill
-Lunch
-Drive to Lebanon
-Make two batches of homemade strawberry jam
-Clean up kitchen
-Wash car
-Vacuum car
-Clean bicycle, fill tires
-Squish bicycle into car trunk
-Visit other Grandma
-Buy gas
-Drive out to Waterloo
-Lose at two games of ladder golf
-Dinner
-Walk along river taking pictures
-Start fire, roast marshmallows
-Return sister to Lebanon, retrieve jam and extra strawberries
-Drive back to Corvallis
-Unpack car (again)
-Reassemble bicycle and find temporary place to store it in apartment
-Shower
-Food
-Blog
-Fall asleep at desk

I have to put this under the "Adventures" category. Yesterday was an adventure, and I feel so accomplished! I'm also sooooooore, tired, and have an incredible urge to go test Mom's waffle iron (it's all mine, all mine!).

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Perfect Day

So few days can be remembered as perfect, but this one was one of those special days. I took the day off and went to the coast with my boyfriend. We managed to grab several geocaches on our trip, and we had a great picnic at a beautiful spot overlooking the ocean. After the long drive back to the valley, we went swimming, made dinner, went shopping, and worked on a craft project together. I couldn't ask for more, and I couldn't have imagined a better day. Sorry this post is short, but I'm exhausted and the weekend hasn't even begun.

A perfect day indeed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Too Much STUFF

I knew I had a ton of stuff when I moved out of my parents' house last summer. My books alone take an entire truck to haul, not to mention ordinary furniture, a closet full of clothes, and those other household necessities. I'm kind of a pack-rat, too, though I give stuff away and recycle without much stress. Lately, though, I feel like I just have too much stuff.

My stuff all has a place, and I don't have much of that knick-knacky crap, so I feel like it's all good stuff. I don't really use all my stuff, and I don't really need much of it anyway. Tonight's plan: put stuff in piles. I'm going to try to get through my bedroom closet and the hall closet. I'm getting rid of STUFF. It will be garage-saled this weekend, and anything I don't sell will be donated. This stuff isn't coming back.

I'm taking over my own closet one box at a time. Bring! it! on!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Milestones

100,000 hits came and went just after 5pm this evening. I happened to be my 100,001st (th?) visitor (hey, I'd just arrived home from work and had to see if it was even possible to be the 100,000th, okay?). The milestone has passed, and I feel pretty much exactly the same as before.

Work is going well, and I'm still enjoying quiet evenings home to myself after long days at work. I thought I'd dread coming home to no one, but sometimes it's nice to simply get away from everyone. I recharge, and I take time out to think.

I've been thinking about religion a lot lately. This weekend, I spent all day Sunday deep in church doctrine, philosophy, and the like. I had to look words up sometimes, and other things were easier to understand. I spent most of Monday evening rereading and solidifying ideas in my head. I am trying to be objective and look at Catholicism from both their and other perspectives, though, and I am trying to find material to read online and in print that reflects both sides' beliefs. I have friends who are Catholic, friends who were Catholic and left the Church, and friends who are Protestant all telling me different things sometimes, so I'm never sure what to think.

I've been eating more fruit lately... which is pretty weird since I don't particularly like fruit. I had an apple last night and a banana this morning. Just before blogging, I managed to un-fur a kiwi fruit and slice it into bites without mangling it too badly. A bit tart, but still good. Strawberries are on now, so I'll soon be eating myself silly on those. Watermelon come a bit later in the summer, so I have to wait (oh dear, sweet, wonderful watermelon). The only other fruit I eat are grapes. But I refuse to eat the ones in the store from Chile or wherever not from this country. I'm not very fond of fruit, though you wouldn't know it by my current trend.

And then there is sleep. I enjoy sleeping, and I feel like I need to be in bed right now. That's all. Until tomorrow... adieu!

Monday, June 16, 2008

100,000 and Counting...

Sometime in the next twenty four hours, my blog will turn the magical 100,000 hits. Will you be that visitor? I've been at this over two and a half years, and I've been posting almost daily for two years... who ever thought I'd actually have that much to say? And who thought people would want to read it in the first place?

Thanks for all the comments, support, and continued readership. I feel, in some tiny way, like I've been able to reach out into the unknown and touch a few people through my writing. Even if only for a moment, it's still feels great.

If you have a blog post topic, idea, or suggestion you'd like me to write about in the future, let me know! If you'd like to guest/ghost write a post, send comment! If you like what you've read and seen here, my ego could use some gentle massaging. Or, if you think it's all phooey, well, I'm here.

I never thought I'd reach 1,000, let alone 100,000. Wow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Root Soup

I threw together a pot of soup today from simple ingredients, and it's actually pretty good. I didn't want a heavy cream-based soup, and I didn't want to cook meat either. What came out of my kitchen tinkering is a recipe I call "Root Soup." It's vegan-friendly, but it'd also be good with some chicken or turkey shredded into it, or even some sausage or beef. I added bacon bits for flavor--these are totally optional.

4 large Russet potatoes (Yukon Gold or red potatoes might also work - need to test)
1 medium white onion
2 liters (about half the stock pot) of water
5 bouillon cubes (I used chicken, but beef or vegetable would work, low-sodium if desired)
Black pepper, garlic powder, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and parsley to taste
1 tablespoon bacon bits (since I don't use salt often, and it adds a bit of flavor)

I chopped the onion and sautéed it until the onion was clear. Then, I added the water, spices, and bouillon. While the water came to a boil, I cubed potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Once the potatoes joined the other ingredients, I let the whole thing boil for half an hour or so. Some tasting ensued, but I pretty much left the pot alone. Not bad! I think some carrots and celery would help things out next time. In a pinch, this pot could feed several people. I enjoyed the simplicity of my Root Soup. Maybe I'll try it again another weekend.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over

Today was long and so very good. I got up early (on a Saturday no less) to meet my boyfriend at his parents' house in Salem, and then we drove up to the Woodburn outlet stores. I didn't have a huge list of things I needed, but he wanted to go, and I wanted to be with him. After a rather quick shopping trip, we drove back to Salem and then to Albany for an amazing lunch. Since we were in the neighborhood, I took my boyfriend to meet my grandma and to see my mother. After that, we shopped some more around Albany. We finally parted ways about 4pm. Next, I decided to run over to Lebanon and stop at my parents' house to see Dad for Father's Day (a day early, but hey, I was already halfway there). I was able to spend some quality time with him in his shop, plus I saw my sister, too. Then, I stopped to see my other grandma for a while. We had a good, long chat about everything going on in my life. After that, I drove back to Corvallis and stopped at Michael's for a t-shirt sale. I had to swing by my apartment to pick up my cans and bottles before heading to the store to return them. I came home with a ton of groceries and an appetite.

At one point today, my boyfriend asked if I needed to buy anything. I replied that I didn't. My life is pretty simple, and I don't really need anything. Instead of coming home with loot by the pound and empty pockets, I was able to see family and was fortunate enough to have wonderful visits with them. Today, my cup runneth over with love, and I couldn't be happier.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Night To-Do List

Since I will be gone from my apartment most of tomorrow and might be gone part of Sunday, I have quite the to-do list for this evening:

-cut my hair (yeah, I do that myself, and yes, I need to do it tonight)
-shower
-blog
-write a letter
-balance my checkbook (some of us young'uns know how to do that still)
-read at least a chapter in my book
-construct Dad's Father's Day present
-catch up on my Word Twist games on Facebook
-figure out how to operate an X-Box
-clean my apartment
-go grocery shopping
-return my cans and bottles
-two loads of laundry

I have less than four hours. It's going to be a long night! Maybe I'll have something more inspired tomorrow to write about. Maybe not. It's Friday, and I don't actually have to think again until Monday morning. Hallelujah!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Dentist's Prize Box

I've never liked going to the dentist. When I was little, however, going to the dentist was made a tiny bit better via the Prize Box. When the evil man finished scraping, polishing, sealing, and picking at my teeth, the nice receptionist would lead me over to a wicker basket full of toys. I could only pick one, but after ten years of prizes, I managed to get a lot of toys! Among the better toys I brought home, a few really stand out:

-rubber bouncy balls (I think Mom has sole custody of these now)
-balsa wood gliders (which all found their way into the neighbors' yards)
-paper doll books (burned, torn, or tossed)
-plastic rings (now residing on my elementary school's playground)

But the one toy I still have and still use: rulers! I somehow managed to snag three 7" rulers that are square in shape, approximately 1/4" on each side. These three rulers followed me through grade school all the way to college and beyond. I still have all three, and I've used them more times than any other ruler in my desk (including the big metal one with the cork backing). I used to have a few plastic rulers that had stencils inside them, but those broke quickly. I might have one or two somewhere deep inside my desk drawer somewhere--that wouldn't surprise me a bit.

They don't let adults take things out of the prize box at my newer dentist's office. :(

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Shortest To-Do List Ever

I only have one thing left on my to-do list today:

Blog.

check!

(Sorry, that's as creative as I can be tonight... nothing new, and I'm not coming up with any good material... so until tomorrow!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Fixers

We think of them as overbearing parents, friends who don't know when to butt out, and strangers who give unsolicited advice. They are The Fixers, and they're just trying to be helpful. When is enough enough?

I know a very nice older gentleman who, despite my protests, continues to give me advice about my love life. He's not trying to be dirty or get information out of me. He's simply trying to help me make better decisions regarding the people I am close to, especially my boyfriend. I wish I could be mad at the gentleman for continuing to try to reason with me, but his advice is actually sound if I remember to consider the era in which he grew up. His life is not my life, but his advice is still pretty solid.

Of course, parents are a good example of Fixers. They always want what is best for us, and they're willing to tell us or help us out in realizing that. They're the ones we go to for advice. When I need to buy something, I often call my parents and get their opinion about good deals. Sometimes Dad tells me to wait a bit and that he'll keep an eye out where he shops. I know he's trying to be helpful. Or when I have bad days at work and lean on a friend's ear, but they come back with a "solution" to my "problem." I usually just want an ear, not a solution.

The worst Fixers, though, are older siblings. They're just old enough that they think they know everything, yet they're also just old enough that they don't quite get your predicament. How do I know? I'm an older sibling. And it is written into my DNA that I must fix all of my sister's problems. She's my sister, how could I not want what is best for her? At the exact same moment, I force myself to realize that she needs to learn things on her own. I can't tell her who to date or what job to have or what to study in college. She isn't me. I can't be her fixer. I can, however, be there for her when she needs an ear and a hug, and I can support her in making those difficult decisions whether I agree with them or not.

No matter how much we know we're right, allowing someone to make their own mistakes and decisions in life is important. We need to love and support decisions (even the bad ones) of our friends and family. It's hard to do. The friend or relative that makes the mistake will eventually realize it whether you tell them you were right or not. The hardest part about being a Fixer is remembering not to say "I told you so."

Monday, June 09, 2008

Sick Day Philosophizing

It's a quiet Monday afternoon at work, and I'm at home. I didn't feel well when I got up this morning, and I didn't have much to do at work today (for once), so I took this afternoon off as a recuperation/relaxing/thinking time. I must say, I'm not feeling much better, but I've done lots of thinking.

So far, I've reasoned:
-mashed potatoes are spectacular. period.
-daytime television hasn't changed in twenty years
-naps are best on the couch under a warm blanket
-sleeping with contacts is painful, especially when waking up
-dripping faucets and ticking clocks are the loudest things on earth when I'm trying to think
-Mom's cookies brighten any day (thanks for the delivery, sis!)
-paid sick leave is amazing
-my ear hurts, and I don't know why
-yes, it is actually possible to play The Oregon Trail in under an hour start-to-finish
-none of my thinking has been terribly deep thus far...

Hey, it's a sick day, and I'm distracted by the mashed potatoes. Did I mention they're tasty?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Review of Corvallis restaurant Strega (oh, and the Best "First" Date EVER)

First, the review:

My boyfriend took me to Strega for our "first date" last night (more about why later). He made reservations online (not sure where or how) so we didn't wait at all. He and I are both very picky eaters and neither of us like to try new places often, but on the recommendation of our friends, he picked the place and I put my trust in him. At first glance, the menu is confusing. There are no "appetizers" and "main courses" sections. The restaurant specializes in small courses called tapas which range from $5 to $10. Slightly larger portions range up to about $20, and the largest portions (which are decent entrée sized plates) run about $20 to $30. Being picky, we both bet on chicken dishes. I think he tried some kind of pastrami or pancetta tapas and had the tandoori chicken as a second plate. I went with the larger plate of balsamic chicken with yukon gold potatoes and radicchio. Let me say now, for the record, that Strega has the most amazing fine food I've eaten. Potatoes should not taste that good. The chicken was perfect. I even went after the radicchio for a bit before deciding that weird cabbage stuff is still beyond me (tasted goodish, but I'm just not interested in limp purple lettuce). I give Strega a 9 out of 10, losing 1/2 a point for noise and 1/2 a point for not having a decent website up and running yet (hey, I'm making the rules here). I'll definitely be returning as soon as my budget allows.

So the second part of this post might get a little gushy. If you were here for the restaurant review, you can stop reading now. If you're really interested in my love life, though, keep reading!

Even though we've been dating several weeks and have known each other for almost a year, we've never "officially" gone out on a date. I've cooked for him, and we've eaten out before dancing and such, but none of those times were classified as a date. So technically last night was our first date. After a wonderful dinner, we came back to my apartment where my boyfriend surprised me with a super-cool activity: Legos! He bought us each a set to put together, a helicopter for himself and a catapult set for me. I know I'm goofy, and you probably don't understand how awesome that kind of activity is, but it was perfect. Last weekend, we were in a Lego store, and we were both little kids again. This weekend, he brought that back, and we assembled our projects and had a great time. I'm pretty sure a catapult is the best substitute for flowers ever.

As for the rest of the date, well, there isn't much to say: we watched a movie, and I fell asleep with my head in his lap, perfectly content. I could continue gushing about him, but I don't want to brag. Or swell his ego. Even though he's amazing. Ok, I'll stop. :)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

When Can I Stop Being Politically Correct?

A response to An Open Letter... by Michael Faris (as appeared in the OSU Barometer last week):

Growing up in a 100% Caucasian town (or so it felt) meant I wasn't exposed to diversity as a child. I didn't have friends who were anything but white protestants. Our foreign exchange students in school were usually from Europe, an Italian and a few Germans if I remember correctly. Still, my parents told me that there were people in this world who looked different and sounded different and believed other things. They told me that these differences didn't make either side better in any way. They enforced this nonjudgmental attitude. Even today, I approach every person as an individual. Anything less is unacceptable in my book.

Mr. Faris wrote a letter to the Barometer regarding a party held in Corvallis themed "cowboys and indians" and how he feels it is the responsibility of one minority group to support another minority group against discrimination. I have to say that I agree with his stance, though I approach the reasons from another perspective.

The subject of the article, the party, is of little concern to me. I wasn't there, wasn't invited, and don't care what people do behind closed doors. People are free to be as bigoted and racist as they want in the privacy of their own homes. The problem for me isn't that there was a themed party, but that the type of discrimination a theme like that includes pervades outside closed doors. I don't know many people who can be prejudiced on one side of the wall and not the other.

It is easy to overlook a "cowboys and indians" themed party as a trifling and funny event. I'm not an indian, what do I care? I'm also not a Jew, but I'm not very comfortable thinking about using the Holocaust as a theme for the next frat party. The majority (Caucasian protestants) openly mocks the minority at every turn. We hold "black outs" and forget the history of that unfortunate tradition. We use words like "gypped" and "wetback" without thinking about where those words came from. Seemingly unimportant things to so many people can mean so much to one or two.

People ask, "when do I get to stop worrying about being politically correct?" When gay people are allowed to walk hand-in-hand down the street without being sneered at. When the ratios of black and latino prisoners reflects that of society. When women aren't being paid less than a man for the same duties. When Native American mascots are no longer caricatures but reflect the spirit of the people they represent. When ALL people have the right to dignity and self-determination.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Random Questions VIII

1. What was I doing ten years ago?
I was fourteen years old and days from the end of 8th grade. I was dating my first boyfriend, was looking forward to high school, and wanted nothing more than to sit on my butt for three months without homework. I was also sad to leave my friends for those three months, and I was scared knowing how much high school would change me.

2. What are five things on my list to do today?
-Empty the dishwasher
-Find or make costume and/or dress for this weekend's dance
-Figure out how to connect my "new" X-box to my TV (for being such a geek, I have issues with stupid things like that, ugh!)
-Get through the work week without killing anyone
-Patch up the massive amount of hangnails I've acquired and haven't been able to fix

3. Snacks I enjoy?
Sun Chips, Red Vines, pretty much any chocolate without coconut or fruit, some rice cakes, Pop Tarts, nachos, and even the occasional apple. When I'm home and don't feel like cooking, I do eat a lot of salad as a snack (zero prep time, plus it's healthy).

4. Things I Would Do If I Were A Billionaire?
Give money to Oregon Public Broadcasting and the public library in my hometown! Those two things are the reason I'm not a bumbling idiot. If the TV was on while I was growing up, it was likely tuned to OPB. I can't begin to think of how many books I borrowed from the public library... hundreds maybe. Those are both worthy causes.

I'd buy my family's Donation Land Claim, raze the house that is on the property, and build a new one that my sister could design and decorate for me. I'd buy my parents a house with a big shop and beautiful kitchen and big bedrooms. I'd pay off my student loan and take care of my sister's tuition and loans. I'd probably give money to family and friends. I'd invest. I'd set up scholarships and endowments. I'd take a vacation outside the country (make that valley even!). I'd dance until dawn. And then I'd blog about it all.

5. Three of my bad habits?
I pick and bite at my cuticles. I snap my gum (occasionally). I anticipate.

6. Five places I have lived?
With my parents.
With the girls.
(With my parents again.)
On my own.
(That's all I have... and I'm very much okay with that.)

7. Five jobs I've had?
-summer "intern" with the court system
-"culinary detergent specialist" in a retirement facility
-student worker at an environmental research and education group
-telemarketer (more like "tele-beggar")
-jack-of-all-trades office slave in the ag/education industry

8. How did you name your blog?
I've never fit into categories or boxes easily. Some people call that "unique." But when you step back and look at me, I'm not all that unusual. I'm forever stuck on that edge between "slightly odd" and "ho-hum." I'm unique, but I'm still within the bounds of "normal." Not really, but whatever. I thought it made sense, and it's my blog, so just back off on the questions, okay?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My Family Reads my Blog

When I started writing this blog, I didn't have any intention of creating a "fan base." I didn't know that people would actually come back to read this darn thing every day. But they do, and it's great knowing that people want to read my thoughts and sometimes comment on them. I'm still not sure how I feel about having family members read this though. It's pretty weird.

When I blog something, I know that it's available for anyone to read. Sure, it'd be sweet to have complete control over readership, but then I'd be missing out on strangers stumbling by and experiencing something perhaps new and different. It feels kind of... odd, though, to know that my Grandma will wake up tomorrow morning and check my blog to see what I've posted. My mom might stop by and read while on a break at work. My sister will check five times tomorrow at random times all the while knowing I only update once a day (this cracks me up). Perhaps a cousin or an aunt will read. I don't know. But anything I've written about my life is here for the reading.

Knowing that family reads my blog does impact what I write. It's not that I have anything to hide, certainly not. If there's something I wouldn't want family to know, then I surely don't want anyone else to know, right? If my family didn't read this or know about it, I wonder how my writing would be different. Maybe I'd swear more. Maybe I'd write more about them and how even though my family is all crazy, they're all wonderful (hi!). Who knows...

I write a blog. My family reads it. My dad even found it by accident once searching for something on Google. Guess the secrets are coming out... oh well.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Motion Study (Picture)

I've been working on capturing motion with my camera for quite some time, and as I was goofing around, I somehow grabbed this eerie picture of my keyboard. Note that the keyboard was stationary and the camera was moving. This method creates some unusual photos, and I enjoy experimenting with "film."

Spooky, huh?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My name is Jaggy, and I'm a caffeine addict.

I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step, then, is probably fixing said problem, right? I'm workin' on it.

My caffeine vehicle is Diet Coke. At one point, I was drinking up to three cans of Diet Coke a day starting with breakfast, and I'd usually find a fountain pop at some point. I'd nurse a can for three hours before sucking it dry. On Saturdays when I didn't get my pop on the same schedule as a weekday, I'd get headaches. Sundays were usually better, but sometimes I'd get headaches then, too. Long ago, I promised myself that if I ever felt like I was becoming addicted to caffeine, I'd stop drinking it.

The time has come. I'm a full-fledged addict. And I'm doing something about it.

One month ago, I was opening one can behind another. Sunday of this last weekend saw me only consume twelve ounces of Diet Coke. I've spent four weeks weaning myself down to one can a day. The good news is that my headaches have disappeared almost entirely. I feel a ton better and am much less tense. This could also be due to a certain boy, but I'm going to chalk it up to my own self-control, k?

But I've never been one to drink water. Instead of drinking pop, I'm simply not drinking anything. This is not good. I'm saving money, but I'm even more dehydrated than I used to be. So now I find myself trying to think of non-water-flavored drinks to compensate for my decreased liquid intake. I don't like fruit juices (except apple juice, and that's only when I'm sick). Crystal Light has great lemonade, and I like their raspberry stuff. I don't drink coffee, tea, milk, or cocoa. Hot spiced cider is fine in January, but I'm not really into it this time of the year. I do like Propel, so I have that on hand (literally, right now, making it hard to type).

Points to me for recognizing a problem and fixing it myself. No points for being stupid and not drinking more water. What do you drink when you're in class or at work or sitting at home reading my blog?