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The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Also.

My new job is right along the waterfront. Usually I come to work around 6:30 am, with the dance music cranked and a cup of coffee glued to my right hand while I let cruise control do the work. I leave at 3:30 in the afternoon, just as the golden/magic hour is starting. Guys, I cannot express to you enough just how incredible the view is across the bay. Today I could see each one of the San Juans outlined across the water, different shades of gray indicating their distance from myself. The sun was hovering a few inches above the horizon, so there was this perfect golden line stretching from the southwest toward the beach. I literally let my van coast while I stared out my window, looking back every few seconds just to be sure I didn't hit a pedestrian. One of these days, if I ever replace the camera I lost while hiking Loughton glacier this summer, I'm going to stop and take a photo of this incredible view. Ideally I'll take multiple photos across several days, just to demonstrate the versatility of the beauty I get to enjoy. (If only I could see it from behind my desk, though, instead of only along the drive home.)
And then if that's not enough, as I rise up the hill and head toward the freeway, I can see a perfect view of Canada's Coast mountains to my left and Mount Baker in all her glory dead ahead. A coworker was telling me that every year, a Hawaiian highschool sports team comes to stay at our resort. Rather than request a view of the water, they request to be put in the very back every single year, without fail. They're tired of beach views, but not a one of them can get enough of the view of Baker.

I say. How is it I can drink a half a fifth of Jameson with no ill effects, yet am completely trashed after just two beers?

A question to ponder if ever there was one, surely.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Adventuring

Yesterday there was a huge snowstorm up in the mountains. The Higher Ups debated letting us take our tours out, but when it came down to Go Time they gave us the green. So up the highway I went, and Wow! It was gorgeous! My group and I were pretty much in awe the entire time.
We even saw a wolf. He crossed the road ahead of us and I thought hmm, a fox? So I slowed down and no, it was way too big for a fox. The wolf sat just off the edge of the road, watching us as we watched him. Then he turned tail and disappeared into the trees. The whole encounter lasted less than 10 seconds but it gave me chills the rest of the day.
Later, when we got to the furthest point, the snow was starting to come down again - and thick. Rather than pretend this was a normal day, we drivers gathered 'round and debated our exit strategy. In the end we formed a caravan and drove Very, Very Carefully back toward Skagway. It took an hour and a half to make what's usually a 45 minute to an hour drive. By the time we arrived at the train station, things were getting tricky. Two of our drivers had never driven in snow before and were losing their cool. The whole world was whited out, and where the roads had been wet but clear earlier in the morning we now had at least 3 inches of snow. Yikes! So we pulled into the train station, and our boss patted us on the back and gave us some very simple instructions:
"Get everyone onto the train. Turn off your bus and leave it, you're going home on the train too!"
So yeah. I got paid to ride the train in the snow. !!!!
Then today! At 10am we got the call to rally the troops, and we all piled into a minivan heading back up the mountain pass to do some bus retrieval. There were worries that the snow might start up again soon, so we had to Hurry Hurry Hurry! Except... Along the way up, we saw a bear. Ol' Buddy was just walking along the side of the road, so we slowed down and paced him for a few minutes. He was soaking wet and looking none-too-happy about the rainsnow mix falling on him, but he was a good sport about the loud vehicle with a bunch of nosy people gawking at him.
Up at the Canadian train station, our boss was all business. The train station is downhill from the highway, so we were worried about getting those big ol' things out of the snow. They don't have much for traction. Again, simple directions. "Get your momentum going and get out of here. Don't worry about pausing for traffic, I'll wave you through."
So that's what we did! It was a great adventure - completely out of the ordinary from everything else I've done. For a few days here I've been feeling a bit out of sorts, ready to finish up here and get out of town. I still want to get home to Le Ham, but if interesting things like this keep cropping up, I might actually be sad to say goodbye to this town!

Whoops

Nap time accidentally turned into early bedtime. So much for everything else I'd planned! :(

I dreamed that someone was offering me coffee. I reached out to take the cup, and woke up with a start at 1am, my hand straight up in the air.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's Cold Outside

Woke up early in this new home of mine for the next nine days and crept about, trying to get a feel for the new building. Felt slightly disconnected as I sat in the hallway, cross-legged and bleary-eyed, brushing my hair and sipping a mug of tea. The rest of the day followed in a series of moments where I felt, like then, completely satisfied that I've chosen the path I have.

Here's a portion of a quote, the full extent which can be found here:

"... treat one's enemies with polite inconsideration, avoid persons who are chronically in need, and be satisfied with life always but never with one's self." -- George Jean Nathan

Later this afternoon, as I waited for my next job duty to begin, I curled up in the front seat of my bus with the current book. Folk music played from my ipod while sunlight warmed my toes. It felt like hours passed while I sat there.

After work I went for a run. Tried a new route -- it took me 15 minutes to get to the top of the hill, and only 12 to get back down. Now I'm wrapped in blankets, huddled in the corner of my temporary room, trying to find a way to recapture that glowing post-run heat.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quote!

A half-read book is a half-finished love affair. -- Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Friday, September 17, 2010

Commuting to Work





Monday they flew people out to Juneau again. The pilot decided to take a shortcut coming back, since we had to get to Skagway before nightfall. Instead of flying up the canal, he veered over the ice field and cut through mountains, getting us within almost-touching distance of glaciers -- sometimes wobbling the plane so we could get a better view, other times pointing out specific bits that he really liked.

Somehow I don't think I'll be signing up for a desk job any time soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day Off

Sunshine. Whiskey and towels on the hot cement. Painting toenails, chatting with the passerby's. New dress, new sunglasses, not-so-new friends. Gossip and giggling, and most of all the feeling that yes, this can happen in an Alaskan September.

Good day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I've got the hookup

Today I saw a moose!

It jumped right into the road, hesitated for a few moments, then took off into the woods on the other side. The whole encounter lasted less than ten seconds.

And this is why my job is so rad. I feel bad for all the people in the passenger seats behind me, only getting to see this scenery once and with a crummy view of the back of my head.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Summer Job!


I may not be lifeguarding, but that doesn't mean I'm not getting in the water! Some of my passengers took these pics on one of the last sunny days in the Yukon. Now there's fresh snow on the mountaintops. Siiiigh.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Life Lessons

Had some drinks tonight, then decided to see if the tent I inherited from Jeannine's boyfriend's dad really works. Turns out... It's a bit bigger than I expected, and the inside is covered in dirt and chicken feathers. So now I'm going to break into J9's room and steal her tent for tomorrow's camping/climbing trip. Also, lesson of this story? When you've been drinking and want to pitch a tent in a hotel room: Don't.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Neverending Conversation

My buddy Nick is a special, special guy. We've been bff's since freshman year when we'd sit around playing X-Men Legends and not talk about that fact that he was in love with my cousin. Sophomore year, after she moved away, we'd sit on my front porch and chain smoke while dissecting the day. Junior year we lived together with 2 other guys, and that was the best time. We barbecued in the snow, threw costume parties, made many Bad Decisions, had kung-fu marathons and actually started calling each other BFF.
These days we don't see too much of each other. He graduated, moved out of town, and found a serious girlfriend. Soon he'll be going a step further and moving to Canada, of all places, for school. Meanwhile I've been doing things like living in Mexico and Alaska for months at a time.
Luckily for us, we both have unlimited texts! I have to delete my whole phone's memory every few days to accommodate for the hundreds of messages we send each other. I'm about to do it again, but before they disappear, I'd like to share with you some of the choice tidbits that keep me entertained while on the job.
  • I fucking love ice cream sandwiches. I would do terrible things to a Klondike Bar.
  • I admit to having questions about the mechanics of girl on guy dead sex. I feel rigor mortis only gets you so far.
  • I'm worrying about how much food you're getting up there.
  • If [the dead lady they found in the movie theater where he works] cursed Theater 1 with a neverending stream of shitty movies I'll believe that it's haunted, for sure.
  • I don't understand why you always bring us back to necrophilia.
  • omg a customer just spit at Noah what is this
  • Are doves pigeons? They certainly look similar. Or maybe pigeons are doves.
  • Magic has a really awful reputation and I'm on a one man crusade to fix it!
  • The best wolf themed song is by werewolves of london by warren zevon.
  • I think Nicole wants to start moving in tonight. I'm planning a mutiny.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oddly fitting

Read this today, after getting back from a run and being psyched over my next hike:

"One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

— From a speech to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana in 1978 and in Colorado, which was published in High Country News in the 1970s or early 1980s under the title “Joy, Shipmates, Joy.”

AB Mountain: DONE!

Take one more down off the Trail Checklist! This Monday I set out with a mission: Climb That Goddamn Mountain.

AB has turned into my Everest over the last two summers. It haunts my dreams and teases me from my bedroom window. Every time I'd make plans to take it down, I'd be foiled by hangover sickness or weather or lethargy. But September is upon us, and I'm literally counting down the days before I get behind the wheel of the Great White Shark and wave goodbye to this town (for good, maybe, hopefully). I've realized that if I don't finish all my Skagway Adventures, they may never happen! And so now all holds are off, all hesitations are ignored. I'm running at breakneck speed into as many opportunities, Bad Decisions and Adventures alike, as I can find. For better or worse: it's happening!

So now I present to you Hike 9: AB Mountain! 8/30/2010, 10 miles, 4,900 ft elevation gain
Photos courtesy of my buddy Reegis, since Laughton Glacier ate my camera.


Failed jumping photo, whoops!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Trail Checklist

This summer, one of the local mountain shops is inspiring people to get out on the trails by hosting a Trail Challenge: 12 trails, one summer. My new friend Jeannine and I have been bonding over these trails, fighting through the thirst and sweat and hunger and pain to come out on top and looking damn good in our photos. And so I present to you: our hikes so far!

Hike 1: Sturgill's Landing, June 27th. 7 miles and my first overnight camping trip of the summer.
J9 busts out the hiking whiskey as soon as we set down our packs!
Hikes 2 and 3: Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls, July 3rd. 6 miles.


Hikes 4 and 5: Upper Dewey Lake and Devil's Punchbowl, July 9th and 10th. 8.5 miles total, and another overnighter!

Hike 6: The Chilkoot Trail! July 15th- 19th, 33 miles and my first extended backpacking trip!
The summit after the Golden Staircase! I'm amazed I made it.
Just above Deep Lake.

Hike 7: Lost Lake, August 6th. 2 miles STRAIGHT UP.

Hike 8: Laughton Glacier, August 15th. 5 miles.

Bonus Hike: International Falls, August 8th I think. 6 miles in the fog!
So stay tuned, there are only 4 left! We've done Lower Dewey multiple times, but repeatedly forget to take pictures. Smuggler's Cove is being saved as a champagne victory hike, so the true challenge is to get AB Mountain (10 miles) and Denver Glacier (6 miles) before the end of the season. These days it's tough to get good weather and a day off at the same time, so wish me luck!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Semi-drunk blogging, mostly rambles

Some nights (like tonight) my nerd-level exceeds orange. If no one is around to share the nerdness with (like tonight) I start to shake and reach near-panic levels. Did you know Steven Moffat created a modern-day take on Sherlock? And that the Holmes character exhibits many Doctor-esque traits, all super intelligent and cryptic and erratic. Also Gunnerkrigg Court started a new chapter today and it's going to address Jeanne! (Although it will doubtless introduce more questions about the Court than it answers.) Also: finished V. and it has definitely earned a place on my bookshelf as both maddeningly literary but also a decently rollicking fun read as well. Started Lamb and all that fear I had of it being over-hyped was unfounded - within the first pages I was hooked and now look forward to my downtime at work to read it. Other nerdbites: Robert Downey Jr is starting to replace John Cusack in terms of neurotic nice-guy actors, and I think I'm okay with that. Especially after watching Grosse Point Blank and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang back to back.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

The planets finally aligned and the impossible happened: a sunny day in Skagway and a day off all at once! After spending the whole day lazing about, appreciating the sun and drinking early in the afternoon, a group of us finally pulled together and put plans into motion. We drove up the highway to the local's swimming hole, grilled some hot dogs and chicken, drank a few more beers and went swimming in a barely-warm-enough pond. I smell like lake water, bits of algae made the trip back home with me, and I've got a whole slew of new bug bites. Now I'll be enjoying a hot shower and a cold beer. Hello, summer!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Excerpts

It's always while sitting in the 6am shuttle heading into work that my ideas for this blog come to me. Chances are, if I do have a piece of paper and pencil handy, I'll get 5 words down before work interferes and I have to start driving / smiling / being On The Job. What happened to downtime?? Man I miss cashiering at the pool...

Anyway! My reading list has pulled a huge turnaround and I'm suddenly enjoying the hell out of books again. That Donald Barthelme -- his recommendations are SERIOUSLY hit-and-miss. Tell Me a Riddle? Couldn't put it down! I kind of wish I'd brought it with me to Alaska just so I could page through a story every now and then. I'm Not Stiller? SNOOZE. Some days I'd find myself seeking out people I generally avoid because they'd be more entertaining than that book. It was so bad that I'm getting frustration flashbacks just thinking about it....

As for good ol' Thomas Pynchon - this guy is fabulous! I've been keeping him on a pedestal of overwhelmingly good-quality Capital L Literature for years, ever since reading Mary Karr (in her 2nd memoir, Cherry) reminisce about her super-intelligent friend gushing over Pynchon's writing. Later finding Gravity's Rainbow among my brother's books only cemented this idea that Pynchon was beyond my reading ability. And I'll admit that there's probably a second or third level that I'm still not quite grasping (people have written companion reader books about how to interpret V!), but there are large portions of V. that are just romping galloping adventures of booze and sex and political intrigue.

I say this all as an introduction to a passage that literally stopped me in my tracks. I was so impressed that I took out my pencil and marked the passage in the book. (I never write in books. I enjoy books that have been written in by others, but it feels like a sacrilege to do it myself. It's up there with dog-earing the pages - verboten!) So here it is: a woman's response to a man's selfish monologue about how he's insincere, cannot feel love, and is only in it for the sex.

"You have to grow up," she finally said. "That's all: my own unlucky boy, didn't you ever think ours is an act too? We're older than you, we lived inside you once: the fifth rib, closest to the heart. We learned all about it then. After that it had to become our game to nourish a heart you all believe is hollow though we know different. Now you all live inside us, for nine months, and whenever you decide to come back after that."

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dirty Skags

Juneau's had a bit of trouble with drivers this year. It's nothing bad, but the drivers they have are running out of hours and on their busiest day, they sometimes don't have enough people to cover all the work. So what's an overworked segment of a larger mega-money tourism company to do? Yup, you guessed it! They fly drivers in from Skagway!

Today I got up and caught an early morning flight out to Juneau, and enjoyed a quick hour-long town orientation before being put to work. And by put to work, I mean I sat around for hours on end waiting for the busy portion of the day to begin. Much like Skagway, Juneau can handle itself just fine for the most part - it's just one shortcoming that becomes a glaring problem. I only really truly drove for 3.5 hours, but those hours were crucial to the day coming across smoothly.

Either way, that's not the point! The point is that after a day of getting to know another division, coming home to Skagway just felt right. At the beginning of the summer, as Riley, Bethany and I pulled into town that first evening in early June, I felt a tugging in my gut that said Run! Turn around! Go home now! Now I roll into town and breathe a sigh of relief. How much of this is Stockholm Syndrome in effect, and how much of it is a genuine affection for the town is hard to say. But I approve of this place.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Drinking Song!

This book is full of goodies!

Why are you leaving the party so early,
Just when it was getting good?
Were the crowds and the laughter just a little too tame,
Did the girl you had your eye on go and forfeit the game?
O tell me.
Where is there music any gayer than ours, and tell me
Where are wine and ladies in such ample supply?
If you know a better party in the Southwest
Protectorate,
Tell us and we'll drop on by
(Right after this one)
Tell us and we'll drop on by.

Creepy Ass Lullaby

Brought to you by Thomas Pynchon, in V.

Dream tonight of peacock tails,
Diamond fields and spouter whales.
Ills are many, blessings few,
But dreams tonight will shelter you.

Let the vampire's creaking wing
Hide the stars while banshees sing;
Let the ghouls gorge all night long;
Dreams will keep you safe and strong.

Skeletons with poison teeth.
Risen from the world beneath,
Ogre, troll, and loup-garou,
Bloody wraith who looks like you,

Shadow on the window shade,
Harpies in a midnight raid,
Goblins seeking tender prey,
Dreams will chase them all away.

Dream are like a magic cloak
Woven by the fairy folk,
Covering from top to toe,
Keeping you from winds and woe.

And should the Angel come this night
To fetch your soul away from light,
Cross yourself, and face the wall:
Dreams will help you not at all.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Another day in Alaska

Went for a mini road trip with my friend Brian today. We've been hearing a lot about the road up Montana Mountain for a while, and if Brian has one single hobby he excels at, it's finding his way up old mining roads. So after driving around the Yukon Territory for a bit, we finally set off up the hill in the late afternoon. The weather was getting progressively worse -- after an hour the clouds had dropped down and visibility was getting worse. We'd risen about the tree line and were crawling through an alpine meadow when - get this! - another truck comes rumbling down toward us. The men in the truck were also Washington-via-Skagway residents, who'd gotten the same hankering to drive up the mountain as us. So there we are, sitting 3,500 feet up the side of a narrow mining road in the gray and damp, discussing abandoned mine shafts and trains. And here's the kicker: both men in the truck were also named Brian -- Brian Sr and his son, Brian Jr. We wished them well and waved them off, then continued on with our journey up the mountain.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Night Biking

True night is coming to Alaska earlier - we lost another 4 minutes of daylight today. Riding home at 11:40pm, I actually wished I'd brought a light -- this same time just a month ago, I was sitting around taking pictures by the waterfront. The weather was pleasantly mild then. Now, moisture hangs in the air while each breath comes in crisp and clean. Mist rose off the Skagway river as I biked across the bridge. The streetlights reflected off its rushing waters, and the noise and the cold and the exhilarating feel of pedaling faster and faster all combined to make it one of the best bike rides of my life.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Things I Want

A shower that consistently spits out the same temperature water.

Also acceptable: a shower that fluctuates only between mildly hot and mildly cold, and none of the extremes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Adrenaline Crash

Let's sum up today's feeling so far:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck ASS SHIT FUCK fuck fuck fuck.

Repeat.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(Drunk Blogging, Hooray!)

Tonight, Pizza Station turned into Secrets/Embarrassing Stories Night. I only wish I could tell them all, but it was too golden to be recorded accurately.

Needless to say:

One story told the tale of shitting ones' pants before having to give a tour.

The other began: In highschool, I had a mustache...

Friday, July 2, 2010

AWESOME

Today. I saw a bear on my tour. I timed all my arrivals perfectly. I made it out to the Yukon and back with the worst coach in the fleet and didn't break down! I impressed my passengers by successfully making the tightest turn ever. And then I made lots of $$ in tips.

Then I got off work and went for a run, and ran faster than I ever have before. And then I did sprints, which were the worst most painful thing ever, but I challenged myself and won!

Then I made dinner. Heated up some chili. That chili is badass delicious.

I feel like such a bro right now. I am full of my accomplishments and my self and basically, I cannot be brought down!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Trucking Along

Work this summer isn't nearly as hectic as it was last, but that's not saying much. Things still move fast and hectic around here, and it's hard to find idle time for projects. Reading and writing and communicating with those far-away have all fallen by the roadside as I use every moment of spare time to chatter with the people in my line of sight, to catch up on a few hours of sleep, or to head for the hills and explore the new terrain on foot.

There's lots to be said, but little time to get it down. And I'm very, very happy about it all.

Dream Fever

n. the intense heat on the skin of a sleeping person, a radioactive byproduct of an idle mind humming with secret delusions which then vaporize when plunged into the cooling bath of reality, thus preventing a meltdown that could endanger those close by, who tolerate the risk because it gives them energy.

via The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Update from the North!

Things have already developed into a wonderful routine around here. Wake up at the crack of dawn, work work work work work, get off around 6pm, strip off my clothes and wash the bus air and tourist noise off of me, then hang out in the kitchen making food and/or drinking until I feel like going to bed.
This is called a spirit bear. Very rare!

I'm not completely shout-out-loud in love with this job, but it has a ton of perks. One of which is how easy it is for me to find someone to join me on adventures! Back home, I'd be drinking and feel like riding bikes, only to have no one to ride bikes with. Here, it's just a matter of walking up and down the hallway a few times before I gather a gaggle of enthusiasts. The other night we rode out to Liarsville and back, measuring the distance to the bridge via an iPhone app with a British accent, all so we would know how to judge ourselves on our jogging endeavors.

The road trip up was long and exhausting. We hit the road around 6:30pm on Saturday and drove through until 6pm on Monday evening. We stopped to sleep for a few hours a night, got one real meal a day, ate Cheez-Its and Monster energy drinks the rest of the time, and stopped for gas every 250 miles. By the time we arrive in Skagway we were barely being civil to each other, smelled like sulfur from the Liard hot springs (SO mad I didn't get any pictures! But I was too tired to think about those things), and could think of nothing except the hot showers waiting in our hotel rooms. It was fantastic, and I think my dad and I are going to do the drive back together in October. We're taking the long route home just so I can sit in those hot springs again.

Today the cook at Liarsville, Doug, gave me a bunch of salmon fillets. Jeanine, Adrienne and I are going to cook up some rice and veggies and have a hearty meal before we take off to go play Capture the Flag in Dyea (aka drink a lot of wine in the woods). Ciao!

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'll leave the gun at home, though

I keep forgetting that crossing the border is not like boarding an airplane. Yes I can have scissors. Yes I can have liquids. And hey - it doesn't have to all weigh less than 50 lbs! Shit yeah I'm gonna be prepared this summer.

Tomorrow's To Do List:
  • Graduate
  • Commence road trip

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Britain Does Things Right

Aw man. Come on Doctor Who. You're supposed to be a family-friendly somewhat science-fiction TV show, not a show that makes 23 year old women cry over the tragedy of Vincent van Gogh's life. (This is also why I love you, Doctor Who.)

Amy: We didn't make a difference at all.
Doctor: I wouldn't say that. The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey, the good things don't always soften the bad things but vice versa, that bad things don't always spoil the good things or make them unimportant.

And for my ginger friends (you know who you are):

Amy: If we had got married our kids would have had very, very red hair.
Doctor: The ultimate ginger.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hobbies

I sure do enjoy bird-watching at night. So fun. So many birds.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

witness my glory

For those of you who are extra-sharp readers, literary geniuses if you will, then this story is no surprise. But in case you didn't catch on, yesterday was an excellent example of blog-post foreshadowing. You see, yesterday, as I was making my merry way to work, I realized I was driving on a flat tire.

I'm not the most perceptive of drivers. The Great White Shark is great because it requires very little upkeep (at least as far as I'm aware!) Where someone of the male variety may have noticed before ever getting in the car, I had driven 2 blocks before I suspected something was wrong. When I finally did pull over to check things out, I almost had a heart-attack right there as I started imagining all the ways I no doubt had just ruined my wheel rims. See, I really don't know much about what a car can handle.

Calling into work was fun, too. I couldn't just ditch the car and ride my bike in - the car was stranded on a no-parking zone and I was too scared to try and drive it home. And I couldn't just say "I'll be in 30 minutes late" - I've never changed a tire before! Who knows how long that kind of thing would take! (As it turned out, it took an hour. Stop laughing.) I'm sure I'll be in heaps of trouble for calling in over a flat tire, but there you go.

I have to say. I felt pretty bad-ass sitting in the back of my empty party van, surrounded by jack parts and instructions, little-by-little figuring out how to put things together so I could take things apart. Pretty soon my hands were covered in grease, my jeans picked up more dirt than they had all weekend at Sasquatch, and people walking to school would cross to the other side of the street in fear that I'd ask them for help.

(One kind soul did offer to help, but I was feeling pretty good about myself at this point. I told him if he wanted to stick around and watch that was fine, but otherwise I was good.)

Unfortunately I still can't say I've changed a tire on my own. I came damn near close, but as fate would have it I'd pulled over in front of a fire station. One of the firefighters came running out to help, and before I could tell him that I'd be fine eventually, he'd taken the spare from my hands and gotten to work. He straight up stole my thunder right out of my hands!

But that's okay, because my spare was flat, too. They got called out before he could take the tire in and fill it up, so I called Les Schwab road assistance, but then they came back surprisingly quickly so I canceled the call. This time two firefighters came out, and they filled that sucker up and popper her on and sent me on my way in less than 5 minutes.

While I'm still a little mad that this isn't an "independent woman" story, one where I take on a task normally reserved for men and succeed, I'm very glad those firefighters had an air pump.

And finally, I urge everyone to always go to Les Schwab for tire issues. Seriously, those people couldn't be more fantastic. They got everything fixed in under 30 minutes and didn't charge me a dime!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Smasquash! Smaaasquaaash!


Sasquatch Weekend 2010 was a huge success! Friday afternoon we attempted to fill a Subaru with all our piles of camping equipment, but inevitably ended up taking the Great White Shark. Ol' Sharky has been having issues with its front tire lately, so every time we stopped it was one of the boys' job to check the tire pressure. (And we made it the whole weekend without incident! Not so lucky today, though...)

Our driving music options were limited only to bands playing at the Gorge. Our food came in three forms: hot dog, PB&J, or beer. Our tents struggled to stay upright against the winds that inspired the local restaurant to be named "Blustery's Burgers". Allison and I took photos of everything that moved, and often several things that didn't. One night we huddled in my van and drank Bud Light in the dark. Another night we foraged for firewood and came back with tree branches bigger than our bodies. In the daytime we went on interpretive scenic hikes and skipped rocks on the river and debated the pros and cons of climbing on restricted paper maché dinosaurs (instead we ghost rode metal horses!). We saw so much good music that the concerts have all rolled into one giant roving shindig, and whenever I think of this weekend again I'll only ever have one thing to say:

"Oh fuck it! I'm gonna have a party!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

I almost disrupted an entire computer lab full of frantically-studying students when I saw this. Fortunately I choked back the laugh.

via Defective Yeti

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Learning Things

It's been busy (not really) around here lately! Since I've started running again I've been out nearly every other day, minus 3 out of the 4 days I "celebrated" this weekend. It's only three more weeks until I head out on an epic road trip followed by 4 months of hard hard work, and between now and then it seems like an endless list of things to get done.

But you're not here to listen to me itemize my future.

Instead, let's talk about the second coming of the wasp who likes to buzz around my bedroom. While waiting for Quinn to bring me my lunch (side note: I think one of my favorite things about having money will be the tendency among friends to buy each other things like food and coffee and cute things we saw on sale) this stupidly enormous wasp came sailing in through my open window. He was also enormously stupid, because he then proceeded to knock into the window for about 10 minutes before I took pity and swiped him out with a magazine. I mean, this thing managed to fly in between the two panes of glass, but couldn't sense the fresh breeze blowing only a foot below? Do wasps really have no survival instincts at all?!

Also, today was the last day of swim lessons. I had this awful little girl for private lessons. She would splash me in my face and laugh and ignore everything I said and instead take off running across the pool to show me how well she could "swim". Meaning not at all. And every time I'd try to get her to try something new she'd insist that she either already knew how to do it, or that it was hurting her. Good God, I can't even begin to count the number of times she said I purposely hurt her stomach/neck/legs. When I found out her mom had signed up for private lessons, I wanted to scream. In the end though, this little girl and I found some common ground and learned how to work together. Honestly, I think she taught me more about myself as a swim instructor than I actually taught her in swimming skills.

It turns out that if someone is having trouble with a skill, I really, really like to just keep working at it until it comes out right. She taught me that instead of forcing an issue, it's easier to step back, work with something you can already do, and approach the new skill from a different angle. I'm sure every teacher already knows this. Parents, babysitters, and life coaches probably know this. But hearing the advice told and actually trying it out and seeing the results are totally different. I know I'm not a world-class swim instructor - shit, I really do want to get out of this as soon as I can - but it feels good to find new ways to improve.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Continued Saga

... of an unnatural obsession with a beer-providing establishment.

TAKE THAT, CROSSWORD!

Back in the day, nearly two years prior to now, a classmate and I used to passively rebel against our teacher by doing the New York Times crossword together. The past-time grew into a hobby, and the next thing you know, I was buying collections of the Sunday Times Crosswords from Barnes and Noble. I even bought several before I went to Mexico, and then annoyed my host parents about Spanish-language crosswords until we eventually figured out that they are so uncommon in Mexico, they don't exist. In Alaska I grew out of them (mostly because my iPod and its version of Solitaire was handier) and this year I've been almost crossword-free.

Until tonight.

When someone left the untouched crossword at the bar right next to the collection of beer lists.

Naturally I picked it up. Naturally I found a pen. Naturally I did this after my roommate and I had paid the tab and were ready to leave, and naturally I sat back down to get as much done as possible.

And Naturally, we finished it! It was a team effort, but GO US! We rock! We beat those brain-teasing New York elitists and filled that sucker out with minimal erasure!

And also, Dave gave us free beers to keep us motivated. "Is this the same Dirty Dicks I had earlier?" "... I don't know, I can't say if all dicks taste the same or not!"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Family

Why did I also neglect my brother? Friends have to understand one another in order to be friends; brothers are brothers in any case....

--I'm Not Stiller, by Max Frisch

Monday, May 10, 2010

things that scare me

THERE IS A CRANE FLY IN MY ROOM GET IT OUT.

Seriously. I need a screen for that window.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Starting Over

Ran my first mile since the Ankle Incidents! Feel strong and impatient to get back in the groove. Must remind myself not to overdo it - not too far, not too fast, and not too often.

My brother's a basic training grad! Now leaving San Antonio and heading up to the northern parts of Texas for tech school. Like any true military man, he's already tried to convince me to join up - "They'll pay you to go to grad school!"Doesn't he look good? A bit goofy with no hair and new glasses, but he's charismatic enough to pull it off. Also: he's got my mom's nose.

Other Items of Interest:
- The Honey Moon might start competing with Mckay's for favoritism. Outside seating, with evening sun and home-brewed mead? Very European. As my friend noted: Mckay's and the Honey Moon are both very European, one's a dark, noisy, back-alley pub and the other's a sidewalk cafe in one of the Romance language countries.
- The cruising season in Alaska is picking up, and friends are already starting to post pictures of bears and stories of tourist antics. I'm psyched to join them in a few weeks!
- With the new sunny weather, bugs have started to make their presence known. The wasp a few weeks back was just the start - now my room always has a mosquito or gnat or fly or two buzzing in and out of the open window. I also ate a gnat while running today. Not fun. Go away bugs! (for those of you in areas that actually have real bug problems, instead of the silly ones we Pacific Northwesterners make up: you're braver and more capable than I. Have fun with your cockroaches.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Wanna Know What It's Like...

Newest embarrassing moment:

While recounting to my roommate an embarrassing story of mistaken identities, our bartender (Dave of Mckay's fame, of course!) mentions how I haven't friended him on Facebook. "Of course I have!" I say. I think. "At least I've friended Mckay's, but not you..." "Why not?" "Well..." And here I do some fast thinking, "I don't know your last name!" Pause as we look at each other. "Who do you think Mckay's is named after?" Well SHIT. He caught me there. Roommate starts cracking up, laughing her ass off while I turn beet red and think about hiding under the bar. It doesn't matter that I earn "respect" for having the guts to go balls-to-the-wall all out and make the mistake anyway. I'm still the one with the most stories where I look like an idiot/ass. How many people out there have I offended? Creeped out? Alienated? Good God, I'm a threat to my own well-being.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

FDub: Everything You Want

... except for charm, character, class, or culture. Or even me, Chelsea! So really, everything but the important C's.

Meet Skyler, my honorary nephew. We went to Northwest Trek on Friday and later did some doughnuts in the parking lot.

FDub: Only OK because I don't live there

Went home for the weekend, and this time it was harder to come back to Bellingham than usual. Federal Way has slowly been improving over the years... Though not because the town is any better, but because the things I want from life are changing. $5 all-day pass to the fitness center, which has a steam room and a sauna. Nearly guaranteed jobs at 2 locations, plus a plethora of other possible employment opportunities that would let me show off/ practice my Spanish. Friends that I don't see nearly enough. Free room and board. A sweet, sweet bedroom. In the end, though, I'd be living with my parents and sequestered in suburbia, wasting 30 minutes just trying to get to the freeway to connect to other bits of suburbia. After being away so long, the extreme distances one has to cross to do basic errands is absolutely ridiculous. So I'll continue to be poor, scraping by money to pay for rent while dreaming of being able to afford things like yoga classes and gasoline.

Home Subject #2: When I'm not being a cantankerous bitch, my brother and I actually get along really well! We watched the newest Doctor Who episode together, laughing uproariously over the "Are you sure he's not a mad man?" "I trust him completely." dialogue, sharing theories about the cracks in the wall, and for me, finally getting the answers to some questions about the Doctor Who timeline that Wikipedia wasn't explaining (and watching all those old episodes was NOT an option).

He also got me hooked on a new webcomic: Hark! A Vagrant I can't stop reading it, and with every comic I'm also googling images of historical figures' beards, reading entire pages of Wikipedia, and generally wishing I was more of a history geek. Did people make fun of you in high school, calling you "smart" as if it were an insult? Are you now unabashedly proud of knowing things other people don't? Read this comic! It's fantastic!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All I want is a balcony with a bay view and newly renovated modern kitchen for less than $360 a month...

And the house hunt continues....

We saw a place today. It was literally a block and a half away from Mckay's! I was ready to sign the lease right then. Too bad for the landlord that we didn't - walking inside changed everything. The house was lovely, the yard was nice, even the little porch area was charming. But two of the bedrooms were so ridiculously small that it was doomed from the first moment we peaked inside.

After the tour we headed to the pub, ordered a pint and sat down to discuss. Not a one of us was the "bigger man". We all have full sized beds! It just wouldn't work! We argued back and forth about our options. I might have yelled at one of the guys a little (but not meanly. I think. I was supposed to be getting his adrenaline going?) In the end Dave brought us a free pizza (have I mentioned how much I LOVE MCKAYS??? And Dave. Love Dave) and he put in his own opinion. Aside from independently trying to get said future roommate's adrenaline pumping over the same issue I was fighting for, he also mentioned how he wants to buy the house next door to his bar. And if he did, he'd rent it to us. Now I know this isn't a future I should be banking on, let alone even daydreaming about, but it's nice to know our bartender is rooting for us.

We're going to find a home. And when we do, it will be PERFECT.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Disappointed...

No satisfactory Google results for "hobbit foot fetish", though plenty of options is you're just looking for 2 out of 3.

Other phrase written during last night's cold medicine induced delirium: naked baby thrower. A thrower of naked babies? Or a naked person throwing babies? Where did this thought even come from?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

(Drunk Blogging, Hooray!)

Being a local regular at Mckay's hinges on the idea that I don't FUCK UP MY FEET WHILE WALKING. Tonight, after 3 delicious beers and fantastic live music, plus free pizza (because we're regulars and Dave loves us!), I rolled my weak ankle on the sidewalk. Let me repeat: I ROLLED MY ANKLE ON FLAT GROUND. Need I remind you how many times I've done this before? There was the time in high school while I was running upstairs. There was the time when I was (again, ON THE SIDEWALK) going to see a movie downtown. There was the time I actually sprained it at a MGMT show. And then tonight! Barely days after my OTHER foot has been gracious enough to let me walk on it! How am I supposed to run, let alone function as a normally mobile person, when my feet/ankles refuse to cooperate and instead give out and break themselves at the least sign of stress?

Moral of this story: I like ice packs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fuck Whales - I Spot BEARS Motherfucker!

Got back behind the wheel of a coach today!!

I'M ON A COACH


I thought we'd start with something simple. Doughnuts around the parking lot, things like that. Nope! Instead, my trainer had me hit the road, and within 4 blocks said, "Okay, now turn right here."

Me: But that's the freeway entrance!
Trainer: Yup! Crash-course driving, let's go!

Luckily the only thing I hit was a gentle nudge against the curb as I pulled over on the street in Ferndale.

Days since last Stop sign: 307 and going strong!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Graceful, Like a Swan

taking my job seriously since 2004

Today I went full-weight, foot-first into the pool. The backboard I was carrying at the time followed me in and nearly crushed the heads of my coworkers. Fortunately the only thing hurt was my pride! (And the level of trust the public now holds for the pool's lifeguards...)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why maybe winter should last all year

A person can learn a lot about theirself based on their reaction to a dangerous situation. Some people get so filled with adrenaline they can lift cars. Some people pass out. Some people keep calm and control the situation. Some people stand in the background because they caused the whole thing to happen in the first place.

Me? I stand in the corner of my room and watch the wasp flying around, debating fleeing out the door but holding off because then when I come back, I won't know if it left. I eyeball the magazine on the other side of the room, the giant killer wasp buzzing between us and threatening to end my life. I also say in a very low, progressively panic-filled voice, "No no no, get out, go back outside, don't do that, go away, no, NO!, get out get out get out, go away, no, don't do that..."

(actor reenactment)

After about a whole Camera Obscura song of this (seriously, fearing for your life is surreal when someone is singing about how she's ready to be heartbroken) I very calmly grab a book and usher/wipe the wasp back out the window. Followed by heartfelt reflecting on how nice it is someone invented screens, and wouldn't life be better if every window had one.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

TRAGEDY

Did you now the El Salvadorean taco truck isn't open on Sundays??

I probably did, but I'd definitely forgotten.

So at work today, my coworker and I are bantering back and forth about the taco truck. Taco truck taco truck taco truck. "If I fix the stapler, will you make a run to the taco truck?" "Sure, but good luck on that!" "WHA-BAM, stapler fixed! Get gone I need a burrrrrito!"

But instead of a hit spicy tortilla-wrapped treat, I found myself staring at the empty spot next to the cigarette store. My world crashed and fell and shattered apart at my feet. My stomach flipped and my hangover returned full-force now that there was no hope in my life. I dragged my feet and cried as I headed back to work.

Moral of this story: Plan ahead. Don't build all your hopes and dreams off an idea. The failure can be unbearable.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Read this book!

I'm a sucker for a good cry, especially when it comes from a book.

When I was little it was the animal books. Where the Red Fern Grows, Watership Down, The Plague Dogs.

When I was in my early teens it was Bastard Out of Carolina, White Oleander, The Poisonwood Bible. I don't have a name for these books. Literature Lite? They were smart and poignant and yet... No one would consider them ground-breaking works. They made me nostalgic and sad before I had any reason to feel that way.

These days I've been devouring more light-hearted fare. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books. Travel literature. Harry Potter.

But in the last 48 hours I started The Book Thief, and I'm on the verge of finishing it. It was marketed as a Young Adult book - what idiot made that decision? Yes, children could and should read it. But so should everyone else!

But back to the crying thing. A few sentences and suddenly I have to put it down and frantically search for kleenex. I'm not ready for what's coming, and I know it. It's an oncoming wave and in these last moments I have before it swamps over me, I'm struggling to take a big enough breath. Hoping I can dive deep enough not to be dragged along.

****

Excerpt:

When another piece of broken wall was removed, one of them saw the book thief's hair.
The man had such a nice laugh. He was delivering a newborn child. "I can't believe it - she's alive!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making a Home

Mckays Taphouse is fast becoming a favorite hangout! If you're from Bellingham and have never been, seriously, go check that place out. It used to just be boring old Pizza Pipeline, selling cardboard pizza to hungry college students at late hours for cheap prices. But now! I can't believe I've waited this long to become a regular.

I'm working on their Beer Club, which includes 110 different beer varieties. Tonight I checked off numbers 7 and 8. (I'm just starting! And I didn't think it was fair to write down beers I'd drank before I knew about the Club.) The goal is to get halfway there, to 55, before I graduate and head off for the wild north of Alaska!

This evening I also enjoyed one of the perks of being a regular: the hookup. Before, I'd managed to charm the server into giving us free breadsticks he'd made by accident. That didn't quite count because he probably would have given them to the first person to suggest it. But tonight, after we'd chowed down pizza and guzzled some beers and asked for the check, the owner came by to plop down a glass of "dessert beer" (!!!!!) I didn't even know something like that existed! It was fantastic - chocolate raspberry alcoholic deliciousness.

I don't know what's best. Free beer, the fact that chocolate raspberry beer exists, or that I'm officially a regular at a bar. All I know is that I can't wait to go back and check off numbers 9 and 10.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Woe to the Unprepared

Had to borrow my coworker's guard shirt today because I (stupid, stupid) left mine nicely folded next to the door in my rush to leave. This coworker has an absolutely awful undiagnosed case of halitosis (or just bad oral hygiene, whatever), but what I didn't know is that laundry isn't big on the To Do list, either. That shirt REEKED. It was absolutely rank and foul. Out on deck, in the humid chlorine-heavy air, it was easy to ignore. But stepping into the cool quiet of a bathroom or lobby also released those pent-up smells, causing me to gag and hold my breath.

It gets worse. Later, as I'm changing clothes at home, I got a whiff of my own self. IT WASN'T MY BO THAT I WAS SMELLING. The stench of the shirt literally seeped into my pores, following me around as I continued on with my life. It was stalking me, haunting every step I took. I bet it spread to my sweater and is now, slowly but surely, passing on its terror to all the clothes in my closet.

Gross gross gross gross gross.

On the plus side, I will never, ever forget my own shirt again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why I Steal from the Internet

Hard drive crashed over the last few days. I lost mostly everything (but not EVERYTHING). Fortunately I'd been feeling uncomfortably stable financially. The price of taking care of it all put me right back where I feel safest: broke.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Only slightly kidding

What with my cold and all the times I'm writing "consumption" in this paper, I feel like giving it all up and burying myself in a Victorian novel. Back then, girls got by on being pretty and witty, and didn't have to struggle for things like degrees and management positions. I wouldn't mind going back to a time when consumption was less part of trending patterns and had more to do with your sick and dying sister.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Finals Week Distractions

Sitting in the computer lab, guzzling Dead Week discounted coffee, trying to write a final research paper. Instead, this:

Whiskey: He'll make you try things you'd never done before, then tell all his friends about it later. Yet somehow, you keep coming back for more.

Vodka: Seduce you and tell you how much she loves you, then wake you up at 7am, screaming and throwing things at you while you're still hungover.

Tequila: Catches you up in the madness of the moment, but the next morning you wake up alone, half-naked, in a part of town you've never seen before.

Rum: The bad-decision hookup that you're trying to convince yourself never happened, even as it's happening.

[added at 10:30pm]
(Irish) Coffee: That friend that's always there for you the next morning, but you'd only ever think about hooking up with when you're really desperate (and then you're just imagining that he's whiskey).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Overshare

I've had IBS since I was 18. Pooping is an awkward topic for most people; they don't like hearing about it. But it's such a huge and important part of my life that sometimes it's really hard to hold back. (That's why I like traveling so much. Travelers have pooping problems, and since we're all strangers we have no qualms about discussing it over breakfast. The best travel stories involve poop.)

So last night, I had a dream that I pooped. It was a big, wonderful, fully-shaped and solid disposal. Just like the kind I almost never see.

When I woke up and realized it was just a dream, I felt pretty bummed. Today's not looking so hot after that start.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Let me tell you 'bout a friend of mine

We met years back, so far back that I can't remember how old we were. Maybe if I tried really, really hard I could pinpoint the year, but it's easier to explain in terms of who I was then. I was in junior high, I used sun-in to highlight my hair, and I was still interested in going to church camp with my cousin and trying to stay best-friends with an old Idaho friend. We'd seen Mallrats earlier that summer; I'd bought a VHS copy on sale and we'd watched it repeatedly for weeks on end.

That's how I met this friend. Because of Mallrats.

Someone was talking about it, and from across the pavilion I shouted, "Mallrats is the best movie ever!" Oh, the moments that define our youth. The commentator and I talked excitedly about our shared movie, and then his friend walked up. I was introduced to this friend, and it just so happened that I had his name on a piece of paper in my pocket. Turns out that silly summer camp games can be worth something, because I "got" him. We hit it off pretty well from there.

That summer he almost lit his hair on fire in the woods behind the camp. Later, he got an older friend to drive him 45 minutes down the freeway so we could hang out at the water park in my hometown. He picked me a daisy on a walk to the convenience store.

Fast forward a few years. I'd see him occasionally, in sporadic bursts. It seems like it was always summertime. We'd go to music festivals in Seattle. I envied the easy relaxed atmosphere in his group of friends; I always felt like I was faking something to fit in around him. I watched him fight a friend with kendo sticks by streetlight; later someone was bleeding, but I don't remember if it was him or not. One night I brought a highly-valued water bottle full of vodka to his house. In the middle of looking at funny pictures of cats on the internet, he took a giant swig of the "water". Whoops. I'd forgotten to tell him. Another summer he introduced me to the guy who pierced my tongue without asking for ID. The piercing lasted less than a year. But I still have a black-and-white photo of that friend sitting on the couch at the tattoo parlor, backlit from the sunlight shining through the windows.

Then off to college! This friend and I saw each other a lot less. He got a girlfriend, I got a boyfriend. His girlfriend broke his heart; the same happened to me. We didn't see much of each other. Instead he sent me pictures of the sharks he caught while out on his commercial fishing jobs. Once he came up to visit and we got very drunk and, well, things got a bit awkward after that night. I didn't try so hard to see him anymore.

Well, this friend is back. He's down in the harbor, working on the fishing boat that will soon take him out to sea. Alaska this time; a first for him. He used to fish out of Astoria, just minutes away from that same cousin who was with me when we met. He called me up and wanted to hang out. Despite my bravado in always telling him that "we should hang out soon!", I wasn't really sure how it would go.

But silly me. I guess when you've known someone over as many years as we have, it takes a lot to ruin the friendship. We drank wine out of jam jars; we smoked cigarettes in the rain and talked about baiting hooks; we heated soup in the microwave and watched Fargo with a sleeping bag for a blanket. And things aren't so awkward as I thought they'd be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Comfort and Achievement

On Sunday I went all sorts of apeshit on my room and cleaned that sucker out good. I also rearranged the furniture and dusted the windowsills and finally tossed out that poor sad jade plant that got root rot while I was in Mexico. Seriously, the room is impressive. You know how that rug really pulled the room together? Well this furniture arrangement would make the rug nothing but a trivial decoration.

But the BIG story is how I've rearranged my bookshelf. Unread books go on the bottom shelf, hidden by pictures, postcards, candles, unused disposable cameras and the statue of a cowboy riding an armadillo. The middle shelf is composed of completed books and unfinished books. I made a rule with myself that I've got to settle on one book at a time and do some heavy damage to those victims of my short attention span before I can start any of the ones I've acquired recently. And you know what? It's working! In the last few days I've finished off the one about Latin American politics, the one about language, the one about blind people, and the one about Africa. Now I'm torn between devouring another Stephanie Plum novel or working on that expensive literary one I bought in San Francisco.

One great thing about this new room arrangement is that I can read a book and look out the window, watch my curtains wafting in the wind or spy on the neighbors smoking cigs, and watch the sun creep across the floor in the early afternoon. It all feels so safe and inviting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The FUTURE (WoooOOOoO)

Me: Who wants Boomer's?!
Lauren: I'm actually at Casa right now :)
Me: Balls

Later, just as I'm unlocking the kitchen door and resigning myself to heating up some leftover pizza, Lauren comes stomping around the corner and practically accuses me, "Did you already go to Boomer's??" I'm still holding my keys in my hand as she launches into an account of how her dinner turned into a "let's unload our drama" night out, and she needs a milkshake and a rant session. (No, I promise I didn't point out the irony.)

So we get settled with burgers and shakes, and eventually the topic turns to happier themes. One of which, in passing, is how her friend who came with us on the Lost Lake hike suggested me as a potential roommate for next year. I sighed and said something along the lines of, "If only..." and then we talked about something else.

But the idea stuck.

I'm graduating in 4 months, but then what?? Move to Alaska, okay. But that only lasts until October 1, tops. And then? The plan is to just bide my time, earning and saving money until I can catch a plane to Europe in either May or June. I flirted with the idea of being an au pair in Spain, or Norway, or in Germany for my friend Anna's family... But then nixed it. Then the plan was to move back in with the parents, but I start to itch and fidget when I think about going back there for more than a week. The same issues every college grad confronts are finally sinking in: tests are going to be over soon, and then I have to find something else to do.

I like Lauren. She's the only rational voice in a house that would otherwise having me believe up was down, black was white, and that leggings can sometimes pass as pants. She likes hiking and making healthy dinners that make me reconsider my diet of bagels and pizza. She listens to me wax poetic about running, and doesn't judge me when I fail to actually run. She's wonderful! Now, what if I lived with her in a scenario that didn't include all our nutty roommates? What if it was just me and her and her hiking friend and maybe another chill girl?

Basically I'm overcome right now with daydreaming about all the wonderful things my life would be. I like the prospect. In fact I'm in love with the idea. I want to start house-hunting right now. But my short-lived infatuation with being an au pair in Norway has taught me my first lesson in contemplating my post-grad life: Give it a week or two. So now the idea will rattle away in my brain, and I'll consider it from all angles, talk to the parents, consider the drawbacks, and maybe this time next year I'll be sitting on a different colored carpeted floor, typing away at the same ( but maybe a little more beat-up) laptop, thinking about running Padden in the morning.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Makin' Money, Sittin' Pretty

Today I kicked ass at work.

I arrived and immediately set into a "Gettin' Things Done" mode. Made calls, entered data, took money, gave change. I earned a cookie and bantered with someone's Dad. I never got around to reading the detective novel I'd brought in my purse.

Some days I wonder if college is really my thing. I mean, there's no way I want to keep using the stuff I'm learning in my business classes. ROA and Game Theory, no thank you. I'd rather file papers and answer phones while gossiping about my least favorite coworker. But what does that say about women's equality and all these issues of gender roles when, in fact, I really am happier being a secretary? I guess it's a matter of job comfort. Probably after I get my first big post-college gig, I'll be pants-peeing scared for a few weeks before the routine sets in and it all starts to feel like the same old same old. I mean, just today I thought up a way we could improve our data entry system, and there's no way I would have come up with it if it weren't for all the time I spent on Excel this week for a class assignment. And maybe, if I had a job I cared about just a little more, I'd be ballsy enough to implement that improvement.

Yeah. I think I'll stick this college-thing out. Four more months isn't so bad I guess.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

History Lesson

Also, the other day I was hanging out with some friends and mentioned "I'm going to blog about this!!"

T: "Um, no offense but... Does anyone read it?"

And fair enough. I don't think there are more than 4 or 5 of you out there! But it doesn't matter. I've been doing this since 2002. That's a big commitment. Even if I only post once a month, and only about how "Man this beer tastes good. SUCKAZ." I'm still going to stick with it.

And for all y'all out there that want to read about my life since I was FIFTEEN (I don't think I've changed much since then, actually), well, here are the links:

The First: Drinking Glue (June-December 2002)
The Second: Sniffing Glue (January 2003- January 2005)
The Third: Rare Wit and Charm (January 2005- October 2009)
The Fourth: Recycled Words (October 2009- present)

I can't explain the glue thing, except that I've always had a weird sense of humor and a giant streak of obstinacy. Rare Wit and Charm and Recycle Words are, respectively, newglue and lastglue in their domain names. I have no idea what I'll do if I ever make another blog... ZombieGlue, maybe? ResurrectedGlue? JustKiddingGlue? Who knows!

What have you eaten lately?

There's something about pizza that automatically induces hunger. Maybe it's the melted cheese, or the scent of spicy-hot pepperoni, or the way someone carrying a box of pizza is always so damn happy, but just having pizza in the same room sends me into a salivating food-zombie.

Part of it, I think, is that I haven't been eating much pizza these last few months. Don't get me wrong! I'm still gorging myself on the stuff at least twice a month. But back in the day of family-roommate dinners and working across the street from Little Caesar's and their $5 carry-out... Let's just say that my cravings never went unfulfilled.

These days there's no room for frozen ones in the freezer.

Now, imagine my pain when I've been on campus (sans-food) for 6 hours, working on group projects and various other trivial assignments. Then suddenly, something starts working its way through Bon Iver and Excel. My concentration's shattered. Someone... Someone's eating pizza! I look around the computer lab, but there's no trace of it. So I shrug it off and keep working. But the smell's persistent. It tap-tap-taps at my concentration, working my stomach up into a rousing re-enactment of the last scene in Dirty Dancing. Finally I just can't take it anymore and slam my things together, running out of that lab as fast as I can (which is pretty fast, seeing as I've been running lately). And there it is! A giant pile of piping hot pizzas from Pizza Time, sitting on the table next to.... A bunch of guys in suits. About to go into some boring Accounting Club meeting. There's no way I could fake like I belong. Instead I push my way through the group, not making any eye contact, and walk home with a mad craving for something hot and greasy.

So basically, no, I didn't eat that salad I'd planned for dinner. I had nachos. Deal with it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My guide to English language!

Johanna:
I have a question for you. I am going to apply for an internship in UN field office in Dominican Republic. I probably will not get it, but i might try cause it's in the Caribbean! They ask me to:

"Please include with this application a short paper (no more than 5 pages) or an extract (5 pages) from a longer paper prepared by you in compliance with your academic requirements. It is preferable that the paper be in English, but texts in either French or Spanish are acceptable."

Im puzzled with the expression "in compliance with yout academic requirements" What do they want from me? Im still going to claim im fluent in both English and Spanish :D

Thank you!

Me:
Huh. The wording of that sentence confuses me too. It looks like the phrase is referring to the possible extract you can submit... So, say you've turned in a huge 30 page thesis paper. You can turn in part of it for the application as long as your university doesn't have any rules against it.

Do they explain what the paper is supposed to be about, or is that the only description? Because if that's it, then I'm not sure if that's what the phrase means.

Hope that helps!

Johanna:
Hmm, they just ask me to give a sample of my writing skills, that's all its about. It doesnt really matter what it's about. I just dont get the part about "in compliance with your academic requirements"...

Me:
well, some universities have rules about plagiarism or publishing works written at the school... so as long as you're complying with your university's rules, you can submit an already written paper.

Johanna:
Ah ok, thanks! And i call myself fluent in English... :D

Me:
that was a fucking weird description, I'm not even sure I'm understanding it right.

Johanna:
:D ha ha! I also asked my friend who's been workin in EU projects where they love to use fucking weird and hard expressions, and she said the same.

***Moral of this story: I get my dream job in the Foreign Service, you can bet I'll be dealing with awkward wording ALL THE TIME.***

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reading

When I first entered the university, I really wanted to be an English major. I wanted to spend afternoons reading dusty novels, deconstructing meanings, bashing writing styles and getting into arguments about the personal lives of long-dead writers. But after only one English class at the university level I realized one very important thing: I had no writing talent of my own. No original ideas. I could analyze and critique until the sun came up, but I would never have a thought that would inspire others. If I tried to make a career out of being an English major, I would end up just like all those other university English majors- full of worthless talents and no job prospects. That, and I had started to resent the books that I used to love reading so much. The thought of coming to hate one of my favorite hobbies because it was being forced upon me rattled me into making one of the most intelligent decisions I ever made: I switched majors to something I was good at, enjoyed being good at, but didn't enjoy to the point that it became an obsession. Instead, I'm a very well-read businesswoman.

In fact, I have an entire section of my bookmarks dedicated entirely to lists of books I want to read. They can be recommended reading lists, or the amazon.com link to a specific book. If I was really organize I would have a word document in alphabetical order with summaries of why the book is on the To Read list, but I haven't given in to the compulsion just yet (mostly due to lack of time).

My current obsession is a reading list that wasn't compiled by any website, any columnist, or any Britain Bets America is Illiterate, Add a * to the Books You've Read to Prove Them Wrong spam emails. Instead, I stumbled across an article by some dude who didn't like to read. He just never thought it was worth it. Until one day, someone handed him a well-worn, often folded, highly-annotated list of 81 books listed as recommended reading for some university course. The professor of this course was one Donald Barthelme. Wikipedia tells me that he's an author "known for his playful, postmodernist style of short fiction." Look, I've never heard of the guy. But the writer of this article then goes on to describe his hunting through used book sales, his obsession with finding these books anywhere he could, and how they changed his entire perception of literature and that under-appreciated hobby of reading books.

Then he posted a scan of this list.


The directions for the list are: No particular order. Just read.


I doubt I'll spend a summer searching endless racks of used books like the author of that article. I'll probably just pick them up off amazon.com . But I've copied the list into my notebook and I take it with me wherever I go, just in case the opportunity to browse some dusty shelves comes along.