Friday, June 29, 2012

Uninspired

I'm having a less-than-ideal week.  My brain hurts from the stupid questions I've been asked this week, and I really don't have the gumption for appropriate responses at this point.  I never realized just how draining it can be to be around people that just don't get it.

(By "it" I mean the understanding of anything that has been around after the 19th century... yes, there was a typewriter involved.)


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Grotto: Take Two

The Man and I went to Portland last weekend to help his mother celebrate her birthday.  We went shopping in the Sellwood District, went to lunch in Clackamas, and then we out to The Grotto in east Portland.  Shopping was fun enough as we discovered some new shops and learned a bit.  The weather was more like a winter day than a summer one, but the warm rain didn't go unappreciated as we are not hot weather people.  We only got sprinkled on once or twice.


The Man's mom had a great idea to go to The Grotto.  I haven't been there since 2009, and I didn't have my current (awesome) camera then, so it was a huge treat to visit such a quiet place in the city during the summer.  I was able to take some really good photographs of the roses in full bloom, and even the statues were beautifully framed by greenery.  I couldn't have asked for a better day to have my camera with me.


(Click on the pictures to enlarge.  I don't know what any of the flowers are called except "rose" or "not rose."  Yes, I know some of the flowers are wet: we missed a rain shower by [presses finger and thumb together] this much.)






Thursday, June 21, 2012

On Dads and Daughters

I grew up a very, very lucky girl.  I had a great relationship with my father from early on, and he's still one of the people I run to most often with a question.  I am a better woman because of how my father (and mother, not to be outdone) raised me.  Recently, I read this article on the Huffington Post, Rules for Dads Raising Daughters: The Good Men Project's List.  Go, read, and then come back.

All of these suggestions are fantastic, and they summarize so many of the ways in which my father and I interacted.  I think #15, #19, and #24 were some of the best lessons Dad taught me.  He included me often in his activities.  He helped me realize what strong women are and how I am surrounded by great examples in my own life (and no matter what anyone says, it takes a Good Great Man to appreciate a strong woman).  While I'm sure he and Mom put me in dresses when I was very little, neither of them pushed me to be a particularly feminine girl--and I really appreciate not having those fights.

Though every suggestion on Huffington Post's article is a great suggestion, I'd like to add one more:

#26: Teach your daughter to be independent.  Teach her to trust her gut.  Teach her to manage her finances well and live within her means.  Help her learn to shop wisely and consider the value of each purchase.  Teach her to call difficult people and request difficult things.  Encourage her to take responsibility for her own choices and not blame others for her failures.  Beyond teaching your daughter how to change a tire, teach her to maintain a wireless network, to use power tools, and to start a fire safely.  Show her what forgiveness, respect, and honesty are every day of her life.  Help your daughter find her voice, the voice that knows when to ask for help, when to ask for time off, and when to stand up for herself.

My father never let me put barrettes in his hair or put nail polish on his toes.  He never played tea party with me.  He didn't even teach me how to drive a stick-shift car.  But he (and Mom) taught me #26.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teetotalin' Three Years and Counting

It isn't often I write a blog post that goes unpublished.  It is even more rare when I actually write a post, don't publish it, stew on it for over two years, and then decide to go ahead with a whole new draft.  Today is one of those re-do days.  I didn't sit on this post because it wasn't written well or didn't have a point: I sat on it because I didn't understand why I was writing it.  I didn't understand the me behind it.

Three years ago from last weekend, I consumed my last alcoholic beverage.  I'm not proud, disappointed, happy, or any emotion.  It just isn't my thing.


The problem with being a teetotaler, a non-drinker, is that everyone wants me to have a reason.  Everyone seems to want me to have been an alcoholic or have been witness to extreme alcoholism or have an addiction to something else.  It isn't acceptable to simply not like drinking alcohol.  "There's a drink for everyone," I've heard so many times.  Not true.  Even in the sweetest daiquiris, I can still taste that bit of alcohol, that stinging bitterness that doesn't go down quite right.  I just don't like it.

The other problem with being a teetotaler is that I have consumed alcohol in the past.  Though I was completely alcohol-free until after I was 21, I did drink very occasionally for a couple years.  I have sampled the whole range of alcoholic beverages, from micro-brews and small-batch wines to top-shelf tequila and whiskey.  I know what I'm missing out on.  I know from experience how I am effected by drinking alcohol. I am not a mean drunk or a nice drunk, more or less inhibited, more giddy and alive, or sleepy and dragging.  I am raw.  What little brain-to-mouth filter I possess while sober goes completely out the window, and I turn into a version of myself I'd prefer not to become.

I've spent the last three years looking for a defense of my not drinking, trying to wrestle out of myself some reason why I don't drink, seeking that perfect one-liner that gets people off my back in restaurants for ordering the sodapop instead of the stiff drinks.  The only thing I've really figured out is that I shouldn't have to defend myself.  This little bit of self-confidence was the me I was missing.  I don't need a reason.  I don't need to formulate an elaborate story that explains why I don't drink alcohol.  It's just a choice I've made, and if other people don't like it, that's their problem.


I'm not proud of myself for this decision as much as I am finally satisfied by it.  My not drinking is okay.  It isn't a judgment thing.  It isn't a righteous thing.  This decision isn't a moral argument or religious conviction, and it certainly has nothing to do with ideals.  I don't have a problem with other people drinking responsibly as long as other people don't have a problem with me not drinking at all.


Three years and counting, I'm a teetotaler.  It's a label I accept, and a target I will no longer defend.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Powering Through

My three-day weekend was spent quilting.  Okay, not entirely, but I managed to get almost two-thirds done with the piecing on a king-sized quilt, so that's something.  We also went out to look at a few houses, had a nice visit with my parents and reworked their wireless network, and watched four movies.

Aside from it being bloody hot in our apartment, The Man and I had a very nice quiet weekend at home.  The Man just returned from a two-week business trip, so it was important for us to just be home together again.  With an important speaker at commencement in town this weekend, we learned to avoid traffic downtown and around campus.  Having two full days at home was a huge blessing.

Also?  We can skip summer now.  I'm ready for the rain again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On Oceans and Water Stuff

Pacific Ocean  and Nye Beach from Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, Newport, Oregon, March 2010
I've been watching a TV show lately called Bondi Rescue.  The show doesn't air in the United States, but I've been fortunate enough to find it on YouTube in various places.  Bondi Rescue is a reality television series that follows the careers of Australian lifeguards on Sydney's Bondi Beach.  I guess it is sort of like Deadliest Catch in that it follows the lives of people pulling things out of the water for a living (but there are sharks instead of icebergs and beach-goers instead of crabs; also, way less smoking).

As a native Oregonian, the idea of a beach full of people is beyond my comprehension.  I am used to beaches that are miles long with very few people in the water let alone on the beach.  During an average summer day at the coast on an average two or three mile long beach, I might expect to see three surfers, ten swimmers, and fifty people on the beach.  On a holiday weekend with very hot inland temperatures, the beach population might quadruple.  South Beach at Newport might see a thousand people stretched over five miles of beach.  Seaside will have more surfers, of course.  We're talking a population density of about one person every 260'.

Bondi Beach?  They get 40,000 people on a Saturday.  Say only half of them are there at any point during the day.  The beach is a kilometer long.  To translate that into terms I understand better, that's 0.62 miles.  If each person stands in a two-foot square, you'd need twelve squares deep spread across the entire beach for each person to have their own space.  With eight lifeguards on duty, each lifeguard is looking after at least 2,500 people.  If even one third of them are in the water at any point, that's still over 800 people for one person to watch.

Holy freaking crap.

On one hand, I sort of wish the beautiful Oregon beaches were a bit warmer so that we could have lifeguards.  On the other, I really like going to the beach when nobody else is there (you know, mid-November during a massive storm that nearly kills me).

Another tiny thing that always weirds me out about watching the show is that north and south are all backward to me.  I'm a west coaster.  When I look at pictures of the beach toward the ocean, I know instinctively that the water is west, the north is to the right, and the south is to the left.  Bondi Beach is on the east coast of Australia.  The open ocean is east for them, north is left, and south is right.  No matter how many times I watch the show, every time the lifeguards refer to the south end, I twitch left and think, "no, that is the north end!"  It just boggles my tiny Oregonian mind!

The big idea I just can't get over, though, is why people go into the water if they can't swim.  On every episode, lifeguard haul some half-dead non-swimmer out of the ocean, give them a lecture, and turn around to do it all over again.  Why are people so stupid!?

Maybe it's because I realize that Mother Nature Always Wins, but I have no desire to fly to Bondi and jump in the ocean.  Even though I grew up less than a mile from a pretty substantial river and am surrounded by some of the most clear and beautiful lakes in the world, I never learned to swim well.  The water in Oregon is usually somewhere in the temperature range of chilly (50° average on the coast in the summer) to snow/glacier-fed, so I don't do that whole swimming outdoors thing.  Jump in the Pacific Ocean?  No, no thanks, I've experienced that once and enough.

While the Bondi Beach-goers might leave something to be desired, the show's drama is pretty cool to watch.  I enjoy watching the lifeguards interact with each other with friendly banter and pranks, and I appreciate how different that part of the world is from where I live.  Their accent takes a lot of getting used to, and the rapid pace of the show is daunting at first.  The lifeguards are attractive on the whole, though, so even if I have no idea what they're saying, it sounds quite nice.  :)

Something tells me that even though I wouldn't mind visiting Sydney, Australia, I will still appreciate the view of the Pacific from these quiet beaches a little bit more.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gotta Love "Suits"

You might file this one under "I watch too much TV," but both The Man and I have been waiting nine very long months for USA Network's Suits to start a second season.  The new season begins tomorrow night, Thursday, at 10pm.  We've both got our popcorn ready and the couch cleared for what we expect to be a fantastic show.

The writing is stellar, the cast is gorgeous, and the show flat out rocks.  If you are in need of a great summertime show, check out Suits!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Back on the Quilting Horse

As quickly as it was over, my quilting journey has begun anew.  My parents agreed to a new quilt pattern for their king-sized quilt, and we went out to purchase new fabric on Friday.  By Saturday evening, I'd washed, steamed, and starched twelve yards of fabric in twenty-four different colors.  I absolutely love the new colors, and I'm stoked to be working in squares this time (triangles, blech).  I spent Sunday cutting half of the fabric into 4.5" x 4.5" squares.  I was super-duper careful and am confident no square is off by more than two threads in any direction.  If this quilt fails, it will surely not be because my cutting wasn't up to par.

In other news, The Man and I had a go of it this weekend regarding our Netflix account.  He was out of town last weekend and will not return for a couple more days.  In his absence, I decided to watch something on Netflix via the X-Box while I was ironing my new fabric.  His X-Box would not connect to Netflix the first time, but it pulled through and allowed me to watch something on my second go.  Yay!  (Also, I really loved watching Out of the Wild: Alaska and Venezuela!)  Later, when I went to cut the fabric in another room, I tried to pull up Netflix on my laptop.  It usually automatically connects and works perfectly, but this time I had to enter a password to get into our joint account.  The password didn't work once, twice, or even on the sixth time.  I tried every permutation to our passwords I could think of, but it wouldn't let me in.  I thought to myself, "there's no way he would change the password to our account without telling me first, right? right!?"  I finally called Netflix, and the very nice man allowed me to reset our account password.  I immediately changed it back to what it had always been so that I wouldn't have this problem again.  Poof, problem resolved!  X-Box is happy, my phone that plays Netflix is happy, laptop is happy, all good.  Until The Man called and told me he changed the password without telling me.

This, dear readers, is what keeps my world spinning.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Admitting Defeat

Dear readers, I write to you today as a defeated quilter.  I have labored on and off for six months to finish a king-sized quilt.  After days of careful cutting, sewing, ironing, and ripping out seams and starting all over, I've decided the Purple Quilt nightmare must end.

This is the first craft project I've ever abandoned.  I have a firm policy to never start another craft project until the last one has been completed, so I've been sitting here for four months dying to start something and hating my current project.  It wasn't a fun place to be.

My parents spent good money on nice fabric in order for me to make them a quilt for their bed.  I didn't destroy the fabric by any means, and my intentions were all good.  I was exacting with my cuts and tried to be careful with each stitch.  Somehow, though, the project just fell to pieces and can't possibly be corrected.  I can blame myself, the instructions I was following, my sewing machine, my ruler or rotary cutter, accidents, anything really, but I don't know where the errors--and there must have been several--occurred.

I explained my dissatisfaction with my own work to The Man a few weeks ago, and he tried to be encouraging.  He pushed me to try to understand the problems and be creative with solutions.  He supported me if I wanted to continue to struggle, and he was consoling as I discussed admitting defeat.  He knows how proud I am of my work (not in that ugly way, but it is good to be proud of accomplishing things, right?).  And he helped me realize what I wanted out of the project.

What I wanted was a quilt that I made for my parents.  What I was getting wasn't something I could stand to give anyone let alone scrap into a baby blanket.

In my judicious use of fabric, I managed to not cut up the large piece of muslin backing yet.  We hadn't purchased any batting.  I did save a few scraps of purple fabric.  Though approximately $100 of fabric won't be salvaged, I will be able to use the rest on other projects and in the next quilt.

I won't say a king-sized quilt was biting off too much to chew.  I will say, however, that the pattern was far more challenging than I should have been taking on at this point in my quilting life.  I don't have much experience sewing many triangles, and this pattern had almost 3,500 triangles.  Yeah.  All purples.

As terrible as I feel not being able to finish this project, I am relieved to put it behind me.  I've spoken to my parents about starting a new quilt project for them (funded by me, since I haven't spent a dime of my craft budget in four months! Sell your JoAnn stocks, people), and they seem receptive to the idea of a nine patch or Irish chain quilt--no triangles in sight, thank God!

I hate admitting defeat.  I hate letting someone down.  But I won't allow this particular defeat to get me down any more.  On to bigger the same size and better projects!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

On Shower Heads and Short Thoughts

I have complained at length about our apartment maintenance crew, so I won't get into that again.  However, I have noticed a new "man" driving around in the maintenance-mobile golf cart.  If he is old enough to have a driver's license, I apparently need to have my eyes checked.  My only hope is that he's on some sort of juvenile probation where he's working at our complex instead of going to a detention center, because if that's the sort of rabble they're hiring for maintenance, then it has been made more than clear they don't care about quality around here.

Not that I ever had the illusion the maintenance crew considered quality or professionalism...

Anyway.  Shower heads.  This ramble has a point.

We make a few upgrades to any apartment right away when we move in including replacing the fixed shower head with a shower-head-with-a-hose dealybob.  I like the hose for easy shower cleaning, and we both like the shower head we picked out more than the fixed one our apartment came with.  It's as simple as screwing some pipes and hoses together, plus it is easily reversed when we move out.  Easy peasy, right?

Our shower has a super stealthy feature that puts a kink in our plans: the shower arm comes out of the wall and aims just about neck-high on me.  That's just over 5' tall.  The Man and I are both several inches taller than our shower head.  Even with the added height of a shower head standing in a hose holster thing, we barely fit under the stream of water.

If we owned a house, this wouldn't even be an issue.  We'd tear the crap out of the wall and fix the whole problem the right way.  Because whoever put the freaking shower arm at 5' was stupid.

There are these doohickeys that you can buy at Home Depot that extend the height of the shower about six inches, but they won't hold up under the weight of a shower head with a hose.  We tried.  Twice.

So that leaves us with a shower head problem.  And calling the maintenance crew to come screw two pipes together to make the shower arm taller?  I am terrified to think of how they might make it work.

Here's to hoping they don't notice the slight improvement I'll be making tonight with my own little s-curve shower arm found at Home Depot for $15.  It's staying with the apartment, but they can't get mad at me for making something better, can they?

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Best Excuse to Not Attend my High School Reunion

Do you remember where you were in June, 2002?  I do.  I was 18, full of Senioritis, and very much ready to leave behind the only world I'd ever known.  I graduated high school with honors and distinction.  I had college plans, a two good summer jobs, and was unattached to any boys.  I was stepping off that huge cliff into a much, much brighter life.

The Man and I both face the decision of whether or not to attend our 10-year class reunions this year.  That's right, it has been ten full years since we both received our first diplomas.  We're 28, educated, married, and successful by any standard.  He has decided he wants to attend his reunion.  I, on the other hand, probably won't attend mine.

The many excuses people use to get out of going to their high school reunions all sound the same.  It is virtually impossible to say "I don't want to go" without sounding bitter, like you have poor self-esteem about your physical state or accomplishments, like you are shunning the kids you grew up with, or can't afford the expensive trip back home.  I don't have any of those excuses.

Lots of my classmates are probably figuring that they won't go since they can all stay in contact with classmates on Facebook.  Most of them probably do keep up that way.  I don't.  I elected to delete (no, really delete, it can be done) my Facebook profile.  I didn't accept friend requests from people in high school simply because we went to the same schools.  We weren't friends then, and I hardly see us becoming friends now online.  I don't want to see the false-front of their lives, and I don't want to worry if I look one way or another to them.  My friends exist in the non-electronic world.

I can't use distance as an excuse to not go.  I live a mere half-hour from where I grew up (and, shockingly, just a few blocks from the hospital where I was born).  My grandmother still lives in that town, so I'm over there every couple months for a visit anyway.

Many people use the "but I'm fat now" or "but I'm not rich" or "my job is lame" excuses to get out of their high school reunions.  Neither The Man nor I can use those.  Of course I do weigh more than I did in high school, as does he.  It would be unhealthy for us to both weigh that little at our ages (we were incredibly "blessed," if you like the idea of being so skinny people constantly teased us about it).  We aren't wealthy, but we have no debt, and we strive to live within our means.  Our careers have been slow to take off, though The Man has two degrees and I have one.  We are both employed full-time with benefits.  That's good enough for me to be proud.

I don't particularly dislike anyone from school, and I certainly don't hate anyone enough to avoid attending any reunions.  I wasn't popular by a long shot, seeing how being the biggest band geek in the school can ruin a social life pretty quickly.  But I was smart and determined, and I think my classmates recognized that.  For as awkward as I was (and the teasing I endured for thirteen years because of it), I'd like to think some of them almost respected me.

I can't use any of those common excuses.  I am not far away, not expecting any children, not going out of town that weekend, not sensitive about my shape or status or choices in life.  I should go, right?

Wrong.  The best excuse to not go to my high school reunion?  I don't want to.

Who I was then and who I am now are so completely different.  I don't want the Former Me reintroducing itself in my life, and I don't want Current Me on display for people to judge or label.  I don't seek affirmation from people I last saw ten years ago.  I don't wish to partake in the gossip circles, the inevitable Trip down Memory Lane, or the reintroducing myself to people I didn't really want to know when I was 18.

It's not personal.  I just don't want to go.