Sunday, August 31, 2008

5 Reasons I Didn't Attend the State Fair

I love the Oregon State Fair, and rarely has my family missed it. This year, however, I chose not to go. Don't take it personally, carnies, it just didn't hold that luster for me.

1. Price. My budget is pretty small, and finding the extra $30 for a day at the fair wouldn't have been easy. After $10 admission, I know I'd have to hit up a food stand for fries and a ridiculously overpriced pop. There might be a souvenir or other item I'd find I couldn't live without (curse you, chamois man!), and I have to factor in gas. It's a lot of money that I simply couldn't justify.

2. Green Theme. I'm sorry, "green" labels are frustrating at this point. Going "green" is not a hip new fad: it's a responsibility. When the State Fair isn't composting or providing recycling options instead of big black trash bags everywhere, I don't believe they're following through on their theme. Not impressed.

3. Reduced number of textile and craft exhibits. Forget the "Fairway o' Crap Give-away," I always make a straight shot to the craft stuff to see what Oregonians are doing. The woodworkers, the glass blower guy, and the blacksmith are always fascinating to watch. I enjoy looking at the beautiful quilts, seeing each county exhibit, and wandering through jars and jars of canned preserves. If you take these things away, my entire reason for going is pretty much gone.

4. Nobody mentioned to me that Bill Engvall would be at the fair. The fact that I missed him in Oregon pisses me off. I'm not going to the fair now on principal. *stomps away*

5. I guess I didn't want to go this year. That doesn't have to do with the fair as much as it does me, but it's my list, and I didn't want to go. Everything looks the same year after year, and even the people don't change much. Instead, I spent time with family and friends not spending money.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Random Questions XI

1. Last time you had butterflies?
Before giving my Maid of Honor speech last weekend. While I love public speaking and excel at it, the adrenaline rush is always accompanied by a knot in my stomach. I was pretty nervous, but it went well.

2. How is your mood today?
Blah. I'm tired, and I don't really want to be doing this survey, but I'm too lazy to write anything coherent. So you get silly answers to silly questions. Heh.

3. Do you like seafood?
I like shrimp, crawdad pinchers, white fishes (halibut, trout, and tilapia) that haven't been overharvested, and the occasional smoked salmon. Not huge on lobster or crab unless I know where they came from and who cleaned them. Oysters, scallops, and mussles are a definite no.

4. Mints or chewing gum?
My boyfriend thinks I'm a chewing gum addict, but I swear I'm not. Gum helps me when my gag reflex gets a bit too intense (seriously, if I could pick any type of corrective surgery, that'd be it). I might chew three or four pieces of sugarfree gum in one day... some days none. Just depends what I'm doing or where I'm going. Mints are good, but they have sugar most of the time. If they're Altoids, though, I'm game! If they made gum flavor last as long as Altoids, holy crap, that'd be a winner.

5. What do you do all the time in a car?
I drive home. Doesn't matter where I'm going, I'm always driving home.

6. Do you like to read?
Yes, very much so. I read every day, either blogs or books, websites, news, or comics... I'm a total reader. I even read picture books when I'm bored.

7. Have you ever changed your clothes while in a vehicle?
Yes. No, I don't want to talk about it.

8. Who was the last person to make you cry?
Probably my mother... she's good at that. Did I deserve it? Maybe.

9. What is one thing you miss about your past?
I miss the innocense of childhood, of not having worries, of not wondering so much. But all that worry and frustration is good for me, right? I don't know how to explain it, but if you have ever seen Finding Neverland, what I mean follows that movie closely. When Barrie leans down to Peter and explains about the moment we lose our childhood forever, I know how that feels. I remember those moments that stripped away my childhood ambitions and caused me to realize what life is all about in a hurry. I still have an imagination, but that innocent childhood ambition is gone for good. That's what I miss.

10. What's the largest age difference between yourself and someone you dated?
13 years. I don't recommend it if you care about the age gap. We didn't care as much as everyone else seemed to care about it for us. Still, that much of a difference was a bit hard.

11. When was the last time you cried?
Probably in February sometime. I guess I just needed it.

12. Do you ever use your full name?
Yup, I use it for legal stuff, but most occasions only call for my middle initial. I don't care either way, but most people don't care about middle names, so I don't worry about it.

13. What is one thing you've learned about life?
Never assume.

14. What was the last movie you watched?
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

15. Is anyone jealous of you?
I have no idea. While I may be poor living paycheck to paycheck, eat small and cheap meals, and don't get out a whole lot, I'm happy. I have what I need and not much else. That's exactly how I like it. If someone is jealous of me, they have low standards.

16. Has a friend ever used you?
Heck yeah. Mr. Wonderful uses me as his pack mule because I carry a bag with me (it's not a purse as much as a camera case/lunch bag/book bag/TimBuk2 carry-all). He uses me as a personal chef at least two nights each week. And he even occaisionally uses me as his entertainment when I find movies for him to watch and such.

17. Who was the last person you drove with?
Mom

18. What is something that you want to do within the next week?
Clean my apartment (like, empty the closets and toss/donate stuff)

19. Who was the last person you hugged?
Mom and Dad

20. Do you use post-its?
At work, all the time. I don't have them at home, though. Too expensive.

21. Do you have more friends that are girls or boys?
It's about even. I know way more boys, but my circle of friends is rather even.

22. Have you ever made out with someone you weren't dating?:
Nope.

23. Is there a difference between the word 'best friend' and 'friend'?:
Hmm... I have four or five "best friends" and many "friends." Who is my best friend is hard to say, but yes, I believe there is a difference, or rather a hierarchy to the friendship loyalty ladder.

24. Do you care what people think of you?
A little. I don't care if people like me as long as they're willing to listen or attempt to respect me even if they disagree with me.

25. Is silence really golden?
Silence is the best sound of all.

Friday, August 29, 2008

He may be 25, but he still acts 5...

He finally agreed to let me post a picture of him as long as I didn't make the entire post about him. So now, enjoy the picture as I ramble about broccoli. I think NOT.

Anyway, Mr. Wonderful is a ton of fun to photograph, and chasing him around a park was no problem. With lighting this good, who could complain?

There you have it. I'm dating a child masquerading as an adult. And I'm okay with that!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Fourth Date (and counting!)

Last night, Mr. Wonderful and I went on our fourth date. Technically he can say he paid for it since he paid for dinner, but I vote we split the cost since I drove from Corvallis to Monmouth and back. In any case, the trip was his idea. We went up after work to see the Severin Sisters perform in Monmouth's Central Park.

Have you ever had a friend invite you to see "one of their friend's bands" and later realize just how awful your friend's taste in music is (and how little talent their friends have)? The Boy is not like that. The first time I saw the girls perform in March at OSU, I was a bit hesitant to go to a bluegrass show, especially by performers I'd never heard of. Thankfully, the music was good both in the spring and last night. Bluegrass isn't really my thing, but the park was beautiful, and the music was well-played and sung. Even if I don't appreciate the style, I do appreciate the talent and skill (spoken as a musician, of course).

As we were leaving halfway through the show, the Sisters waved good-bye to The Boy (he's a friend and a groupie!), and the entire crowd of (aged) 50+ bluegrass fans stared. Hehe, it's like he knows famous people or something.

I had my camera there, and I got a bunch of really awesome photos as the sun was setting, but since Mr. Wonderful is also Mr. No-Pictures-of-me-Online, I can't share most of them here. Which is fine with me... I understand what he's saying, and I don't need to populate every post with a picture.

We spent the rest of our evening at Borders. I think book shopping is the one place where we are usually in the same store and not standing side-by-side. It's cool: we walk in and go our separate ways. Eventually one of us will get bored and find the other, then we drift apart, find each other, drift again, and so on until one person decides to give up shopping. One of our first days together (before dating) was spent up at Powell's, so book shopping has been a part of our relationship from long, long ago.

That was a good day, and so was last night. Is it wrong to feel this lucky?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blogging on Empty

I could never keep a journal. I think I've started five eleven eighteen of them, but after a few days, I get bored and stop writing. Some people keep diaries for years, and I always gave up within weeks. The irony is that I'm a blogger now, a certifiable blogger. I'll reach that 1000th post mark right around my 25th birthday in a couple months. Oh, how my little bloggy has grown.

Content isn't getting any easier, though, and some days I just can't think of anything to write! So, in order to spark some comments, some reviews, or maybe just some thought, I have a few questions. I know you're reading this. I know you'll skim my list of questions. Please don't give up on me, dear reader, not quite yet. The thirty or forty of you that read daily... I would very much appreciate responses.

-What category (label, topic, etc. from my list of "Filed Under" topics at the left) of blog posts would you like to read more about?
-What information would you like to know about me that I haven't posted?
-Are there any subjects or posts you'd like me to flesh out more?

Without feedback, I'm afraid this blog will turn into one of those "once-a-week-ish" blogs where people rarely update with anything meaningful. Or else I'm going to end up posting day after day of the MySpace bulletin questionnaires where every sixth question is "What is your favorite color?" and constantly change my answer. And believe me, you do not want that to happen.

Feedback, please! (I moderate comments, so if you just want something to come to me without others reading it, let me know. If you don't say anything, though, it'll appear as a comment here.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Getting over the me-me-me's

Sometimes I have to tell myself to get over myself already. How can one person possibly be so hard on themselves? How can one person be so constantly negative and self-assured at the exact same moment? Ugh.

Someone recently told me that they believe I have low self-esteem. I instantly balked. I got defensive. I put up façades and stacked the walls so high even I couldn't see over them. But later that night, as I was escaping to my shower, I began to remove those false fronts and let the walls crumble. Maybe he's right. Maybe I don't believe in myself enough.

I want to blame others for my faults. I am still that little girl who wants to kick and scream and cry when she doesn't get her way. I can't stand losing or admitting I'm not perfect in every way. It's all about me, right? Right? Then the adult in me takes over. I keep those tantrums on the inside. I am humbled daily by acts of kindness and wisdom far beyond anything I could have expected. I try to be responsible and hope that my actions have positive consequences.

It's hard.

I'm not very good at getting over myself.

But I'm trying.

Monday, August 25, 2008

An Ode to Free Weekends

I remember a time in my life where I'd have month after month with no plans. Every weekend was free, and I could do whatever I wanted (as long as it included staying at home and sitting in front of the TV or computer). But as I've progressed into the exciting (and expensive) realm of adulthood, I've found my free weekends becoming more and more scarce. In June, I actually had to break out a calendar and plot my plans for every weekend through Labor Day so that I didn't double-book anything. Throughout the entire summer, I only had two weekends with nothing planned ahead. Between weddings, bridal showers, and family events, I'm well socialized now!

As summer draws to a close, however, until the holidays, my weekends are looking more available. Which is good: I have projects aplenty to work on, parents to help move, and I really miss waking up on a Saturday morning with zero plans standing in my way. I could use those two days away from work to actually relax. I could bake! I could read books. I could *gasp* watch movies in one sitting even.

Oooh, I can't wait!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Congratulations to Rachel and Jessie

...on your wedding day!

I wish I knew a better way to say this, but my Maid of Honor's speech pretty much said it all:

I'm here because my very dear friend is getting married. Rachel and I met the same year that Rachel met Jessie, probably our very first day of 6th grade.

We've had a lot of fun together since then, sharing many different types of relationships, from classmates, teammates, and competitors, to roommates and co-conspirators, to college roommates and now as coworkers, and she's always been there for me (sometimes when I didn't want her to be), but especially when things got tough. Whether it was pranking Emily or crying over silly boys, she was there like a second sister.

From the first time they went playing in the snow together over two years ago, Rachel didn't really have to say much to make it clear to me that Jessie was The One. All the signs were there... the special looks ... the way her face would light up when he was around. When Rachel text-messaged me to say she was engaged, it all felt right. I've felt that way about them since the very start: it just feels right.

As right as it all may be, there are a few things I can foresee as "hurdles" down your road of life that ought to be mentioned: I don't think Rachel will ever get Jessie to put his dishes in the right place. And I'm not sure Jessie will ever teach Rachel the finer points of calling turkeys. Even though I'm sure she'll practice every chance she gets (especially when we're sitting inside a car with the windows rolled up).

With those tiny exceptions, I know Jessie and Rachel have the foundation for a wonderful marriage: not just as husband and wife, but as longtime friends as well. I'm so glad you're married and am overjoyed that I'm able to be a part of your lives today and always, and I'm also glad that Rachel's rain premonition didn't come true today.

Thank you for bringing a pleasant bit of chaos into our lives, and I hope there's plenty in yours for many, many years.

To Rachel and Jessie!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please, no more chicken!

My quest for a chicken-free week actually worked. Good thing, too, because I was starting to grow a beak and wings. While my diet is usually varied, I don't eat a whole lot of meat products. I don't morally object to eating meat, nor do I avoid it for health reasons. I simply don't like tons of meat in my diet, especially red meat.

Growing up, my parents always made dinner for us. At least four nights a week, we had chicken. Maybe one night each week, we'd have pork or beef. The other nights were probably either pizza or meat-free. Based on that trend, I never got in the habit of making steaks or roasts for myself. Chicken is cheaper, too, so naturally I tend to buy more chicken.

I only buy certain kinds of chicken, trim it very well, and cook it completely. I'll dress it up with spices, but since I can't stand marinades (seriously, don't even suggest it, I won't eat them), my chicken can become a little... "boring." It tastes great! and I'm a pro at replicating the flavor! still, not that exciting.

After seven days of no chicken, I can honestly say that I look forward to a good chicken taco or chicken nugget. Maybe next weekend. ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Un-vitees (no RSVP needed, thank you)

I know I've blogged about a few of my pet peeves before, but I'm going to send this one out again. Obviously, people didn't get the message the first time. All I'm asking for is a little common courtesy... how hard is that?

DO NOT INVITE YOURSELF OVER OR ALONG!

Yeah, all caps, that means I'm shouting. at you. now. so listen up.
  • If there were invitations and you didn't get one, you're not invited.
  • If there were no invitations, but people were asked informally and you weren't, you're not invited.
  • If the party invitation said "guests welcome," that usually means ONE guest, not all of your friends.
  • If it is a small gathering of friends and your name was not specifically mentioned, ask if the party is invitation only, but do not invite yourself along.
  • If a group of your friends are going to a public event together, do not automatically assume that you're welcome to go along with them. Just because it's public doesn't mean it's public.
  • If you do end up inviting yourself along, don't change everyone's plans at the last minute.
  • Family events are not an exception. Just because you're family doesn't mean we want you to be there (odds are that we do, but don't assume)
Have I covered most of the bases yet? Seriously. DO NOT ASSUME that you have been invited. Even if people are talking about an event right in front of you, unless you are TOLD, do not demand or expect an invitation. Everybody clear?

Okay, good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wonderful!

Can it be only three months ago that you first called me a sea monster? How time has flown. Each day has been a blessing, though, and I am beside myself with joy that you've been a part of my life this last year.

Thank you...
...for listening to my rambling thoughts and worries.
...for being gentle and patient.
...for inspiring and motivating me to be more than I am each day.
...for dancing with me in the moonlight, in the rain, and when there is no music.
...for holding my hand and not letting go.

Happy 25th Birthday!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Too much church?

This weekend was church-filled, or at least I spent more time within churches this weekend than in the last, oh, ever. I went to mass Friday night and Sunday morning, and then to another church (but not for a service) Sunday afternoon. If someone would have told me that I'd be doing this on a regular basis six months ago--or even two months ago--I'd have laughed at them. But I went. I learned some stuff, remembered some stuff, and am trying to forget a bit as well.

How I've changed since my senior year of high school in the Mennonite Church's youth group... oy! I'm just as headstrong, but I don't pick the same types of battles. I've learned that fighting about tiny bits of scripture isn't productive, nor is trying to convince someone about anything related to scripture worth my time. People will believe what they want. I'm not in the habit (nor have I ever been!) of forcing my beliefs on others when it comes to God, churches, or personal salvation. I think the biggest change I've made since high school regarding religion has been how I approach understanding things. I used to go around asking my friends what they believed. This has taught me little. Now, instead, I try to see things historically, like when and how things came about, and I try to figure out what the differences are between religions or denominations. Instead of trying to put a face to the church, I try to put a church to the major ideas of Christianity.

How I view the great idea that is "church" hasn't actually changed that much, though. Realizing this was an interesting development. The things I like about churches, and the way I picture or would want my church to feel is pretty much the same as it was when I was five years old when I hadn't been in many churches. Maybe it's the juvenile wishes or unspoiled dreams that never got washed away by the harsh reality that comes from being subjected to forced churching that keep some of the mystique in it for me. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination. How I view "church" hasn't changed much, unlike how I view my approaches to religion.

I guess that's a whole lot of rambling that boils down to the fact that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed still. Oh, and I'm no more fond of preachy people now than I used to be. UGH!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pay Attention to Me!

Because I think it's hilarious.
Because it's totally something my friends would do.
Because it's totally something I would do.

...especially the silly hat part.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Andes Mint Cake

He wanted a minty cake, so that's what I made for him. My boyfriend is turning twenty-five next week, and this weekend is his birthday party. I asked him a few times what kind of cake he wanted. We agreed that an Andes mint cake would be fantabulous. Well, I thought "fantabulous..." he might have been thinking a different made-up word.

Recipes for mint cakes aren't exactly abounding. Guess that means I'll have to wing it! And I do love "winging it" with my cake designs. I already decided that the cake would be chocolatey and the frosting would be minty. First, what kind of chocolate cake: milk chocolate or devil's food? In my vast experience with chocolate cake mixes, the milk chocolate cakes are always dull. Devil's food has that extra POW of chocolatey goodness. But, it's also rich. In the end, I settled on the devil's food cake mix because... the deciding factor is brilliant here... that's what I already had.

As for mint frosting, well, nobody sells that stuff. I knew I'd need a base frosting, and I don't keep milk (since it's gross), so I couldn't just make it. Enter the Tub o' Cheap Vanilla Frosting! ~trumpet fanfare~ The single most versatile frosting on earth ('cuz it works miracles on ugly cookies as well as cakes). And, like the cake mix, that's what I had in my cupboard. I applied about, oh, something like a liberal sprinkling of peppermint extract and um, well, a bit too much green food coloring. In any case, taste and color to your own preferences. It doesn't matter.

Bake the cake. Duh. Let it cool completely. Or, if you live where it's 100-effin'-degrees at 10:00am like me, let it cool for a couple hours, and when it still burns your hand, stick it in the fridge for a bit. Cake baked and cooled? good. Moving right along...

So now you should have two cooled 9" round cakes (sorry I forgot to mention what size to make it... but really, it doesn't matter: it's cake!). Get them out of the pans carefully. Flatten one cake by cutting off the dome-y part on top. You can't squish the other cake on top of the first--it will crack after a bit. Frosting does not repair cake cracks, so just trust me, cut the first cake into a level, even playing field. Then cover your flat cake with about 1/4 to 1/3 of your green frosting. Apply the first cake to the top of the second. Now (and I know this is the hard part) frost the cake. I used a butter knife, a spatula, and my fingers (there was no licking of fingers until I was done--behave, people).

I stuck my cake in the fridge a bit to let the frosting firm up (it was sliding all over in the heat) while I chopped the Andes mints. How many did I use? I dunno. I ate a few while I was chopping, so it's hard to tell. Maybe twenty or thirty? Chop 'em up good, then sprinkle them all over the cake. Not sure if "sprinkle" is a culinary term, but that's what I did.

Don't throw away that delicious top part of the cake! Use any remaining frosting for that and give yourself a taste-test break. Can't argue with testing, right? It's important. So important that I had to stop chopping mints to eat more cake.

If you're still with me, thanks. I'm about to go into a sugar-induced coma now, but I wanted to say one last thing before I leave: OM-NOM-NOM YUMMY CAKE AHHH MMMM

(Yeah, it's that good.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shadow Hikers

Mom and I went hiking long ago, and this is one of my favorite pictures from that day. I post it now because (a) I'm too hot to come up with anything witty tonight, and (b) it's a cool picture that was taken in an incredibly cool place (literally and figuratively).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Roasting and blogging do not mix well

It has been a while since I blogged about an ordinary day. Other than 100°+ temperature today, it was a fairly ordinary August day. I worked. I laughed. I planned and schemed and worked hard on projects.

Okay, so I also tried to fake 'n' bake tan with a sunless spray tanner. Last time I tried this, I turned into the orange zebra monster. Here's to better luck this time around!

I've had turkey sandwiches three out of the four days so far this week. If I have to see turkey one more time, I think I'm going to grow feathers. Chicken, too. No more poultry for me until this weekend. Okay, at least tomorrow. It beats the heck outta beef... and it's way cheaper than fish.

My plan to give up caffeine has not been working lately. I'm down to about twenty ounces a day, but I'd really like to be under ten. Maybe next week, right?

It's almost 85° in my apartment. I'm hot.

The Boy is teaching me to Samba a little bit each week. I am having a hard time doing one of the steps backward (don't ask me what it's called - I don't need to know what the moves are called in order to do them), but otherwise I just look goofy attempting to dance a proper Samba. My hips still hurt from my last lesson on Tuesday night. Ugh.

Time to go read in front of my fan. Wish this was a bit more exciting, but exciting pretty much ceases at 90°. I'm out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cow-Bacon

I had a bit of a moment Monday morning when arriving to work. What follows is as close to an exact transcript of my train-of-thought derailment:

I smell bacon.
Who killed a cow?
*pause*
Bacon doesn't come from cows.
*sigh*
Could bacon come from a cow?
Why did I just think "cow" when I smelled bacon?
I don't even like bacon.
I like to eat cows.
Maybe I could invent cow-bacon.
I'm hungry now.
Gotta get it!
Still smell bacon.
Smells like yummy cow.
*pause*
Stupid! Bacon does not come from cows!


D'OH! I think I'm starting to lose it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

No disrespect, but... seriously!

Call me an equal opportunist... I happen to believe that everyone deserves respect until they prove otherwise. I'm saying everyone. Unless you're in jail 'cuz you did something really bad, you will probably still have my respect. Even people I don't particularly like I still respect.

HOWEVER!

There is a fine line between respecting you as an individual in your own space and bending over backward to make you feel respected everywhere. Some examples I've recently encountered:

...The woman in the grocery store who stank up the entire aisle with her eau-du-rubber-tires-in-cabbage perfume. I respect your rights to (a) stand there yakking loudly on your rhinestone encrusted iPhone directly in front of my Macaroni and Cheese without noticing my frantic motions to move yo' ass, and (b) to wear the entire bottle of perfume in one day. But, I will not tolerate you telling the person on the other end of your ear-bling that I'm making faces and eavesdropping. Sheesh!

...The woman driving in front of me down Kings Boulevard on the way to work while putting on makeup. I respect your right to (a) apply makeup, and (b) to operate your vehicle. However, doing both at the same time endangers not only your own life, but also mine and the lives of all other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians within crashing distance of your clown face. And when you had the gall to honk at the truck in front of us and shake your fist because his gentle slowing caused you to get mascara in your eye... oh, how I laughed!

...The individual at Subway who insisted that every single vegetable be lined up precisely on his sandwich. I respect your right to have your sandwich with so much food on it that it falls apart each time you pick it up. I do not, however, respect your right to hold up the line so long that I end up missing half my lunch-hour waiting for your pickles to be aligned by the pimple-faced lackey behind the counter. And I still can't believe you made him measure your mayonnaise!

Respect, indeed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Oregon Towns Quiz

You think you know Oregon? My grandma does. She's so clever, she thought up a list of towns and places in Oregon and gave clues about them. How many obscure places can you name? (Answers are in comments.)

1. 3rd President of the United States
2. another name for a shelter for cattle
3. a fruit tree
4. a Biblical town
5. a shady town
6. a maker of watches
7. a fisherman's preference
8. a swampy place
9. perfect bliss
10. popular at Yuletide
11. Annie's pal
12. Girl's name
13. sound reflected
14. a bird
15. cooks a meal
16. a lady's name (peak)
17. headgear (mountain)
18. relatives
19. a maker of firearms
20. a tall man
21. a dessert (river)
22. a material
23. a gem
24. your daily dozen
25. an ocean hideaway in the mountains

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I have a piano!

It's on loan while my parents move, so it's not technically mine to keep. For the next couple months, however, my pride and joy rests upon the black and white keys in my living room. I keep telling myself that piano time comes after all the other chores and responsibilities of adult life... for some reason the child in me isn't listening.

Most people don't understand what a piano means to me. It's not about the music. I don't really care what the notes or how the piano is tuned. Sure, pretty songs are great, and a tuned piano definitely helps! For me, though, the physical sensation of having my fingers on the keys brings about so much peace. When I play, I truly play for me (unlike those people who say that but then end up wanting to play for others all the time). I don't know how to improvise, and I'm awful at music theory beyond scales, rhythm, and dynamics. It's about the notes, the sheet music, the translation of dots on lines to sounds and melodies. Sometimes I get the notes right, but sometimes I change the music to how I want to play it. I hate to use the analogy, but my relationship with a piano is a rather physical one... doesn't matter what it says as long as it's there.

I can't believe I just wrote that.

Then again, I have a piano in my living room. What the hell am I doing sitting here?

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Well-Spent "Mental Health Day"

Gotta love paid personal leave. My Friday off was ultra-productive. I got tons of important stuff done, and I even took time to do some fun things. How much can one person accomplish?

-slept in until 9:00, a glorious start to any "Mental Health Day"
-finished my letter begging the court not to charge the full fine for my traffic ticket
-mailed my letter and life savings to the court (note to self: don't speed! it's expensive!)
-returned last night's rented movie
-watched another movie today online
-beaded a pearl bracelet
-sent my complaint to the evil doctor's office for last month's hospital incident
-made lunch from last night's leftovers
-cleaned my kitchen
-watched some TV
-measured all of my living room furniture
-rearranged my entire living room
-vacuumed
-long, hot shower
-dinner with my parents
-played the piano
-started a new book (even though I'm halfway through the current one)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The same, only different

Opposite attract, right? My boyfriend and I don't fit that trend at all. We're so much alike that we scare each other sometimes (okay, it freaks me out a bit, but it's cool). I'm not a huge fan of comparing people. I don't like saying one person is better at something--it's just not fair. There are occasions, however, when looking at two individuals can be fun. Like right now.

Here are a few of the ways we're different:

-anatomically (do I need to explain indoor vs. outdoor plumbing to anyone?)
-I love spicy stuff, dill pickles, and sausage where he likes beer, cheese, and yogurt
-he's into video games, and I'll play, but they're not really my thing
-he's lean and athletic (I'm softer with my womanly curves, but still in decent shape)
-he's private and reserved about some things in his life (I'm a blogger with very few secrets)
-he likes hanging out with younger children where I'm more comfortable with old people
-he hates folding laundry, but I can't stand doing the dishes

We're the same in some interesting ways, too:

-we both love flannel sheets
-we like (love in his case) maple syrup on just about any breakfast food
-we like talking walks late at night in the cool summer air
-neither of us are very good swimmers... I think it takes too much coordination
-we both have seasonal allergies
-we have a thing about vacuum lines in the carpet
-our hands are exactly the same size, but his fingers are a bit wider

We're not opposites. We're not identical. In what ways are you like or different than your special someone (or a close friend)?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I miss the rain...

It's August, and I'm parched. As a native Oregonian, it is my solemn right and responsibility to demand a rainy day. I want to feel raindrops hitting my outstretched hands, big fat ones that sting a little and leave enough water on my fingers to cause drips off the bottom edges. I want to feel sideways rain and upside-down rain and rain so hard you can't see through it. I want to look out my window and not be able to tell a difference between the color of the concrete and the color of the sky. I want to dance in the rain, kiss in the rain, and sing in the rain. All at the very same moment. Yeah, I've got it bad.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jaggy's First Speeding Ticket

I deserved it, I guess... Can't exactly say I didn't, because I was speeding. Typical scenario: sat too long trying to get through a construction zone, tried to take a shortcut back to work to save some time. I wasn't going excessively fast, and I wasn't unsafe by any means, just a little faster than the cop who pinged me would allow. I didn't give him a hard time. No reason. I was only a couple minutes late getting back to work after lunch, so even that wasn't a huge deal. My own fault.

I figure it's been a long time coming... but it would have been nice to at least get a warning first.

Anybody want to donate to the "Jaggy's First Speeding Ticket" fund? Didn't think so...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weatherford Architecture

Let's see: square, rectangle, triangle, circle, arch, line, line, square...

I love architecture. I don't particularly enjoy drawing it or planning it, but I can definitely appreciate a well-thought-out building. This picture isn't special by any means, but the building has fantastic lines. I couldn't help but look up and take notice of the contrasting colors and multitude of shapes in Weatherford Hall's architecture.

The building is one of the oldest on Oregon State's campus. I think more of the buildings should have been built in this style, whatever it is. Plus, I'm told that the building is haunted. This girl can't argue with great architecture and a spooky history!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Breaking the Bad Summer Trend

Three years ago today, I made one of the biggest relationship mistakes of my life. I hurt my sister and myself in the process, and I learned a very important lesson the hardest way possible. Not something I recommend, by the way.

Two years ago today, I was unemployed. I was living with my parents, downtrodden after job hunting through the summer. I was lonely, frustrated, scared, and broke.

One year ago today, I was told I might be losing my job. On that same day, I found out I got my dream apartment and would have to turn it down because I didn't know if I'd have a job. When I got home, I got two more doses of really bad news. It was one of the darkest days of my life.

Summer isn't exactly my favorite season. Every year seems to bring with it another hurdle, another setback. This year is different. I'm sure of it. I still have my job. I ended up getting a better apartment in the same complex. Those two pieces of bad news aren't entirely resolved, but they're holding their own. And I'm in a super relationship with Mr. Wonderful himself. I don't want to curse things now (there's still some summer to get through)... but things are looking great so far.

Here's to breaking trends, setting a new standard, and looking forward to the autumn rain.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Jaggy's List of Perfect Gifts

I'm too practical. Blame my mother; I know I get it from her. My idea of the perfect gift is something useful, something that isn't going to sit around collecting dust or living in an attic. The problem is that practical gifts are not always fun or interesting to receive.

Example 1:
Bridal shower and bachelorette gifts. Rachel and Emily are getting married this year, but with my budget, I can't afford to get them really nice things. I know they'd never expect me to get them something fancy, but I want to get them something nice anyway. Their registries are full of reasonable gift ideas, but who wants to get a spatula as a bachelorette party gift? Instead, I scoured a few stores looking for cute pajamas and fun girly things. Nothing jumped out at me. Instead, I fell victim to the oldest trick in the book: gift baskets. BUT! I made my own with stuff I know Rachel will actually use. Some of it smells good, and her man might even like some stuff in the basket. I'm just too darn practical to give those other girly gifts.

Example 2:
Gifts for my parents are a nightmare. Mom and Dad aren't exactly wealthy, but if it's not a huge purchase, they'll simply buy what they want for themselves when they find it. Sometimes they wait a while, and they do price-shop... in any case, if it's even close to being in my price range, they already have it. I could always go with linens for Mom... nothing says love like an entire closet full of towels. Dad's a bit more difficult to buy stuff for since he doesn't wear ties, already has every tool he'll need (x4 in some cases), and doesn't drink, smoke, or hunt. I have given up.

However, when the idea strikes me, I can find incredibly practical things to give my friends for birthdays, housewarmings, and other events. Thus, I present to you,

"Jaggy's List o' Perfect Gifts"

-kitchen towels (can a person ever have too many?)
-hangars (ten extra is never enough)
-socks (better to go plain than sorry)
-a nice writing instrument (the Parker Jotter is a classic ballpoint pen <$10)
-a stationery set or a few notepads (Post-Its are super easy!)
-car stuff (car waxing supplies, a new brush, or a CD case)
-alcohol (it's down-and-dirty simple, $30 for a nice bottle of just about anything)
-picture frames (who cares if they all match? make sure they can hang or stand freely)
-board games (especially for people who like dinner parties, college students, and ME!)
-groceries (stuff they wouldn't normally buy for themselves: cake mixes, olive oil, imported cheese or wine, summer sausage, etc.)
-tickets to museums or places of interest (if the place is free, make some fake tickets yourself)

If you can't find one thing on that list for someone, I'm sorry. You are stuck. Leave a comment with your conundrum, and I'll help if I can. Practical gifts are my specialty!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Catholic Mythbusting

I've been learning about Catholicism for almost seven months now, and I'm finding that most Protestants have some serious misconceptions about their religious counterpart. As a non-Catholic, I'm sharing what I've learned. You can be assured that these rosary-related myths have all been presented to me at least twice by different people. I'm here to share what I've seen, not to persuade or dissuade. Believe what you want: this is what I've lived.

1. A Catholic worship service is all about Mary.
I've been to Mass several times since the beginning of the year, and I can only remember one place in the entirety of the service that refers to Mary, the Nicene Creed (partially quoted).
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, the only-begotten, born of the Father before all ages. Light from light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin, and became man...
Not exactly a huge part of the Mass if you ask me. I can't think of any other moments when Mary even comes into the picture, let alone a focus of the service.

2. Catholics vainly repeat prayers.
I was with you on this one for a long time. After a bit of thinking, though, I realized Protestants do this as well. Every time my family gathers to feast (okay, every time my family gathers we do feast), the mealtime prayer is exactly the same. We recite, "Come dear Lord and be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed. Amen." It's not fancy, but it is chanted in unison. How is saying this prayer any different than praying a traditional Catholic prayer? My concluding idea is that it's not so much about the words as it is the piety and honesty with which the words are said. Sometimes I find more comfort in the words someone else has written than I find in my own pathetic attempt at stringing together the right thoughts in vowels and consonants. Also, I don't think any attempt at prayer is vain. God listens to every prayer, right?

3. Praying the rosary is a waste of time: it's all about Mary.
Seemed like it to me until I knew what the rosary was for. How can saying all those prayers be any better than sending up a faster, easier prayer? The Holy Rosary is NOT all about Mary. In fact, the whole thing is about Jesus! While saying those Hail Marys, one is supposed to be meditating on the life and works of Christ. Furthermore, asking Mary to pray for you is no different than asking a friend to pray for you. One does not say, "Mary, we pray to you..." rather, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners..." Catholics pray through Mary to God. The rosary is a string of beads (a sacramental if blessed) that helps keep track of all that prayer time spent thinking about God. And I don't know a single Christian that would argue against spending time thinking about or praying to God.

4. Catholicism elevates the rosary above the Word of God, and it does not encourage people to read the Bible.
Never, in seven months of attendance, have I seen a single rosary in church. The entire Liturgy of the Word (the first two-thirds of the Mass) is dedicated solely to the Bible. The other third of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which, if memory serves me, is actually in the Bible and was what Jesus said and did. Additionally, every time I've listened to any of the priests or deacons speak, they've actively encouraged the laity (parishioners) to read the Bible on their own time, to pray, and to spend some time with God in a Holy Hour. I'm pretty sure that trumps some beads on a string.

Are there any other myths, questions, or concerns I can address? Is there something else you want to know? I'm learning all the time, and your ideas might spark some for me, so ask away.