Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tag! I'm it...

I was recently tagged by Emily at But the winking of an eye to answer some questions. Emily and I went to the greatest college ever together. She lived down the hall from me freshman year, along with some of the greatest girls I've ever met. Good times. Anyway, everyone knows I love answering random questions, usually randomly, so here we go!

{1} Have you accomplished any of your childhood dreams? If so, which?
Well, I haven't become a princess or even found my Prince Charming yet. I'm not sure I ever had very realistic dreams as a child. They usually involved traveling to other planets or fantasy worlds, for which I blame my family, because they were all in to things like Star Trek and Star Wars and Back to the Future. Can you blame me for not having normal dreams? I can say that my childhood dream of never growing up has certainly been accomplished. I work in an elementary school and my office is full of toys. It's awesome.

{2} All-time favorite CD?
This is a hard one, but I think my favorite is also one that I lost. The Christmas album by N*Sync. That's right. Judge away. It's amazing. I need to download it on iTunes. It's that time of year again, ya know. The most wonderful time.

{3} What is your favorite character from a book?
With as many books as I read, it's hard to come up with a favorite. Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels is hilarious. Or I could be super cliche and say Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. It's true, but still cliche.

{4} Do you remember the moment you realized you were an adult? What were you doing and when was it?
Hasn't happened yet. I'll probably cry when it does. Sure, I get little glimpses every once in a while, like when I'm paying bills or driving in rush hour traffic, but most of the time I pretend to be blissfully unaware that I'm quickly climbing the 20s.

{5} Where is your happy place?
My head. Or the world of books. I moved around so much as a kid that I couldn't really pick a physical location. I make up stories in my head (and sometimes write them down) or open up a book, and I feel safe. And usually happy.

{6} What is your favorite time of day, and why?
Hmm...I really like the late afternoon/early evening time, when my day at work is over and I have the whole night ahead of me. It's my time to just breathe for a few minutes. I also like it a lot when I wake up at like 2 in the morning and realize I still get to sleep for a few more hours. I almost enjoy that more than sleeping straight through until my alarm goes off.

{7} What was your favorite cartoon when you were little?
Lady Lovely Locks! If you haven't heard of her, you NEED to find episodes on YouTube. So great. These girls with gorgeous long hair, and little creatures live in their hair. Sounds gross, but it's MAGICAL. I wanted to BE Lady Lovely Locks when I was little. I also loved The Little Mermaid. I think we rented that video every time we went to the rental store when I was little. My parents finally bought me the video when I was in elementary school.

{8} What is your weirdest quirk?
Just one? I don't know. I'm a pretty quirky person in general. This would be a better question for my friends and family to answer.

Now I'm supposed to tag 8 people and ask them questions. However. I don't have that many friends with blogs. Sooo, I will tag the few people there are and hope for the best! :) First, my questions:
1) If you could live during any time in history or the future, when would it be and why?
2) If you had a day entirely free, no obligations, what would you do?
3) Where would you go on your dream vacation?
4) What is your greatest hope for your future?
5) If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
6) Are you doing what you thought you would be doing at this point in your life? If not, what did you think you would be doing?
7) When was the last time you stayed up through an entire night, and what were you doing?
8) What is the meaning of life, to you?

And now my lil tagees:
1) Andrea at Oh Andrea
2) Randi at Hubert Happenings
3) Kim at Minnis Moments
4) Clay at Clay's Ramblings
5) Nik at Handkerchief Confessions

It won't hurt my feelings if you guys don't answer the questions, but I thought I'd continue the spirit of the game of tag! Have fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A world of bullies

You know how it is. Dramatic music, grainy picture/video, patched together soundbites…that’s right.The perfect formula for a terrible political commercial. I really hate this time of year. Election time. Not a time when candidates come forward and talk about reasons why they should be elected, buta time when candidates hide in the background and let annoying commercials tell everyone whytheir opponents shouldn’t be elected. To tell you the truth, I have very little idea where some of the candidates stand. I have seen maybe one commercial where a candidate spends the whole time talking about what he wants to do, and why he would be a good leader.

This is not good. In a society where bullying is a huge (and growing) problem, how can anyone justify putting out such negative ads? That’s what those ads are, by the way, a bullying tactic. Spreading rumors and trying to tear down the other person. Trying to undermine their confidence and others’ confidence in them. How can we stand up and say bullying is wrong when those people we have elected as leaders use dirty bullying tactics to get what they want? What kind of lessons are we teaching kids? Kids are watching those commercials, by the way. How could they not? There are full blocks of commercials that have been bought out by one party or another. I just mute the TV during commercials, or turn the TV off altogether if there’s nothing specific I want to watch. It makes me sick.

We have created a climate in our society where bullying is okay and not okay at the same time. Giventhe choice, which way are kids, teenagers, even adults going to go? It’s so easy to bully. It makes you feel good about yourself. It’s easy to justify. “They deserved it,” or “If I don’t join in, I’m next,” are common thoughts. Even just standing by and watching it happen falls into the realm of bullying. I have been guilty of this myself. Joining in to feel like I belonged. Or simply not saying anything because it “wasn’t my business.” Shocking, considering I was bullied horribly as a child. As in, one summer Irefused to leave the house because I was so afraid I would run into someone who would make fun of me. It’s terrifying, and yet we allow it in the workplace, in church, in government, and any other number of places. The only place it is being scrutinized is in schools. I think there’s something wrong with that.

What is also scary about bullying is where it leads. There have been dozens of news stories lately about teen suicide related to bullying. And those are only the ones being reported. Less severe, but no less damaging, is the psychological pain that victims of bullying have to deal with, possibly for the rest of their lives. Self-esteem issues, relationship issues, even job issues in adulthood can be related to bullying. The politicians in those negative commercials are, for all intents and purposes, attempting to ruin one another’s careers.

What is underlying in bullying? Bullies’ self esteem, for sure. It is a pretty weak person who needs to get their ego boosted by bringing someone else down. The scariest one for me though is the underlying hatred in bullying. People who have a hatred for a person or group of people because they’re different. They don’t look right, they don’t talk right, they don’t believe the right things, so we hate them. I watched part of a documentary on Auschwitz this weekend, and they interviewed people who had been soldiers. Few, if any, of the soldiers, who had been part of the mass murders, firing squads, experiments on children, had any remorse, because they were still harboring their hatred for a group. They are bullies. Hitler was a bully. See where bullying can lead?

I’m not sure what point I wanted to get across here. All I know is that when I watch political commercials, all this sickening stuff comes up. Who is going to be the first to change? How can we expect kids to change if we’re not willing to model that change for them? And if we don’t, then who will?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm a big kid now

Most of you who read this probably know by now that I recently started a new job. If you know me well (or at all, really) you will know that I am so super excited for this job, and have been wanting to do it for ages. I am now the school-based therapist at an elementary school in Des Moines. I get to work with tiny humans again! I haven't really worked with younger kids since my days as an after school teacher, which was probably my favorite job ever. I'm not sure what it is about kids that draws me in. They just see the world in a completely different way. I love it.

So far in my professional career, I have continued to live the schedule of a college student. Because I worked evenings, I didn't need to get up early in the morning. My attempts periodically to train myself to get up early and work out or run errands failed miserably. Mostly I just slept until 9 or so. Then, of course, I would stay up late. It was rare for me to go to bed before midnight. My meal schedule was all screwed up. I was constantly mobile for the job, going to this meeting or that, driving to various client houses. In some ways this was good, as it kept things from getting too boring. However, it just added to the feel of continuing my college life. Not that I'm bagging on my job for the past two years. I was blessed to gain that position, and I have learned so much from my time on that team.

However, it's amazing how different I already feel. Well, mostly I feel tired. Haha. Now I get up early every day. My alarm goes off before six every morning. (I'm a huge fan of the snooze button.) But I'm also home by 4 or 4:30 every day. All my work happens during the day. I have my own office. I'm dealing with things like billing and insurance. I feel like an adult. It's weird. I mean, I've been a professional therapist for two years, and I really feel like one for the first time. I am the therapist for my school. It's crazy. In fact, I think I've gone a bit too far the other way. I'm now usually ready for lunch by 10 or 11, supper by 4, and bed by 7 or 8. Not that I give in to these urges...except yesterday, when I ate my lunch at 10. That was a looong afternoon, I'll tell you what!

I'm not sure what the point of this post is, other than to announce that I officially get to be an adult now. Because I have a job where I get to play with toys all day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Things I Love

I love commercials for experimental medications. I love how they tell you that there is a chance you might die if you take it, but if you don't die then, you might die if you stop taking it. I love how they use a soothing voice to talk about all the horrific things that can happen. "You might have explosive diarrhea every two hours for the rest of your life, your nose may bleed uncontrollably and unpredictably, and you will probably die a very painful death, but it's okay because my voice is calm and gentle, and instills you with a sense of security." Yup, I love those commercials.

I love Facebook. I love that we have found a way to share every bit of mundane information about our lives. Earlier today, I was able to upload a picture of Skittles. And the other day, I was able to share the very important information about poking myself in the head with my keys. I love the fact that I am so connected to Facebook that as soon as I publish this blog, it will be automatically posted to my profile. I love that when I'm on a trip, taking pictures, I am constantly captioning them in my head as I go. I love how people say whatever they want on Facebook. Whether it's sharing information that would (should) never come up in normal conversation or trying to start fights, anything goes. Yup, I love Facebook.

I love cell phones. I love that my phone plays music, surfs the internet, tells me when I have email, sends messages to people, posts to Facebook, carries my calendar and calculator, tells me what movies are playing nearby, shows me maps of how to get wherever I want, allows me to play many different games, and is small enough to fit in my pocket. I sometimes wish my phone was better at making phone calls, but I love it anyway. That's right, I love cell phones.

There are many other things I love, but I'm bored for now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Potpourri: A random mixing of thoughts

I think it's weird how potpourri is spelled. They should spell it popurry. Or poughpureigh. Yeah. That one.

I just disabled my okcupid account. So take that, you doubters who said I really wanted to be on it and was just pretending.

I got 6.5 inches cut off my hair last week. My head feels very light. I have no pictures to show, but if you look at a picture of me and hold your finger over approximately 6.5 inches of my hair, that's what it looks like. The bottom part though. I can't levitate my hair. Yet. I know it's a good cut though, because one of my 17 year old boy clients told me so, and if a crazy 17 year old boy says it's good, it's good. I think there's a saying like that out there...

I really love fall. The colors are amazing. I love the cool, crisp air, especially in the morning. But the best part is crunching the leaves. Honestly (because there is, of course, a possibility that I might lie about this), I would rather crunch one really good leaf than step in a whole pile of them. Don't get me wrong, I still love walking through a good pile of leaves, but the individual ones are most satisfying. Mmm. I'm gonna go stomp some now. Of course, the side effect to this hobby is that I look like a drunken sailor walking through the parking lot, which isn't always a good thing, such as when I'm walking into my office. But I don't care. Nope, not at all.

I just watched "Beauty and the Beast." So great. One of my favorite movies of all time. It sends a great message, I think. It's what's inside that counts and all that. Of course, after they learn the lesson, they all get to be beautiful, but still, good good flick. And GREAT music. Happy.

I start a new job in a week and a half. More to come on that later ;)

That's all for tonight, folks. Gotta get a flu shot tomorrow, so I better get rested up. :P

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Social Experiment, Pt 3: What I learned

Sometime in the next few days, I will be writing emails to the few guys with whom I have been corresponding and then closing my profile on okcupid. It was an interesting experiment. As will all good experiments, I need to have some sort of conclusion. (Pay no attention to the fact that I didn't follow the other steps of good experimentation. I use what I need as it suits me.) So here's what I learned from this two week experiment:

1) There are a lot of freaks out there. Seriously. That sounds mean, but I really wonder what people are like in real life after talking to them online. I try not to judge, but...well...

2) America has a terrible literacy problem. It's a huge problem if I can't even tell what point you're trying to get across in your profile. I am such a spelling and grammar nazi, I automatically leave a profile where there are multiple spelling and punctuation errors. I'm not talking about the occasional missed letter or misspelling. I'm talking about reading a profile that sounds like it was written by a middle schooler. Ridiculous.

3) People lie. Or are super hypocritical. I tried the whole "putting myself out there" thing and messaged several guys who talked about their faith in their profile. It didn't go well. As in...they didn't respond. And not once did I use the "I think we should get married" line. ;) I guess I had hoped that guys who were strong in their faith might look beyond outward appearance. Wrong.

4) I have no desire to meet someone on a website. Not right now anyway. A couple of the guys I was messaging with wanted to meet me. And I didn't want to. At all. It made me anxious. Not sure why.

5) I have a lot of other stuff to work on before I can fully devote myself to looking for Mr. Right. I want to become more healthy, physically and spiritually. That way, when I find someone, I won't settle. I will know what I deserve, and I will be able to be fully "in" a relationship. Hard to explain. I also want to make more connections outside of work. I love my work buddies, but I'm really excited about the prospect of making friends through church, or by taking community ed classes. So many possibilities.

So yeah. Sorry this wasn't as amusing as the other entries about my experiment, but I actually learned a lot about myself during it. Did I give it a fair chance? Maybe not. Will I try again someday? Maybe. But for now I'm going to go out and experience real life and real people. I'm going to stop searching for Mr. Right and live my life as fully as possible. And that's a promise ;)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Social Experiment, Pt 2: The People

First of all, I want to thank those of you who commented or messaged about internet dating. Trust and believe, I know that internet dating can and does work. I know several people living out their happily ever afters after meeting on the internet. I'm just not sure it's for me. For many reasons.

Reason number one? I attract the creepers. I'm not joking. I give you three examples below, three of the first to message me on the site. I couldn't make this stuff up.

1) Wolfman
I cannot describe the message this man sent to me, so I will just share it with you. The only reason I do this is because I know for a fact that he copied and pasted this same message to at least one other person, and I would guess several more, so I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I copied and pasted it here.

you know, when i saw your pic, i exclaimed, "countach." in the piedmontese dialect, it's the verbal equivalent of a wolf whistle. it means, "oh wow...amazing." it's usually uttered, when a man sees a woman of exceptional beauty, such as yourself.

Yes. I asked him what "piedmontese" is, and he said it's an area of Italy, and that Italian men used to yell it at his mother and it used to make him mad, but now he understands. Yup. He started a chat with me. I didn't follow his line of thinking, but bascially he told me that he quit college because a friend showed up in a lambourghini, which told him he needed to take more chances. I don't know. That's all.

2) Romeo
This one is kind of typical of a lot of messagers. Romeo wasted no time with pesky "get to know you" questions. He went right in for the, "I'm looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with and I think it's you." Or something along those lines. I asked him why, and he said that he is a loving and caring guy and he would treat me better than anyone else. What more could I want, right?

3) Zombie
Zombie was extra-special, so I saved him for last. He started out by simply saying, "You're cute. I want to get to know you better." Oh, I should mention that the reason I call him Zombie is because he has possibly the worst profile picture he could have selected. It looks like someone just said, "Hey you!" and he was like, "Huh?" Plus, his eyes are glowing. Like I said, it started out innocently enough. He asked about my writing, and said he was sort of a writer. As in, he wrote 3 pages in 2 years. That's fine though, we all work at different paces, right? So I asked him what sort of writing he did. Horror. Okay, interesting. So what made him decide to write horror stories? Well, you see, that's a fascinating story. See, he was working at Dairy Queen when it came to him. He thought of all sorts of ways people could die at Dairy Queen. Aaand, that's where I exited.

You'd think that's the end, right? Ha. He messaged me again. I started asking questions about his weekend and stuff, thought it was safer ground. He told me he was going to a cousin's wedding but wasn't looking forward to it because his family is the devil. Another pause from me. How am I supposed to respond to that? He responds again by asking the question I LOVE..."so why are you single?" I gave some cliche answer, and then figured turnabout was fair play and asked him the same thing. His answer? "Because women are blind." Nice. He did a fabulous Eeyore impression, woe is me, girls don't understand how awesome I am, etc etc. There was more, but I just lost interest in sharing it.

So, there you have it. A couple of semi-normal guys have messaged me, and I have had some enjoyable conversations. Still not sure how long I will stay on. My ADHD is kicking in. Plus, my heart isn't in it. We'll see though ;)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Social Experiment, Pt 1

This week I embarked on a social experiement of sorts. I mean, I majored in psychology and minored in sociology in college, so obviously human nature fascinates me. So. I joined Yup. I've heard good things about the site, and a couple of my friends have gotten dates off it, so I though, hey, what the heck? I mean, my sister and brother-in-law met through the internet. (Okay okay, before I get in BIG trouble, I should clarify...they did not meet ON the internet. Their friends did. And when their friends met, they went along. And ka-boom. They lived happily ever after. The end.) While I know good things can happen on internet dating, I'm pretty sure it's not for me. I joined a "penpal" site in college and got wedding proposals from the Middle East. I did a free sign up at eHarmony once, and it was more stress than it was worth. Plus, it's a great way to get rejected 10 times a day. And last year (?) sometime I tried I don't want to talk about it... Long story short, my time on these sites < 2 weeks typically.

It has already been a fairly entertaining experiment. Just perusing the site is very educational. Therefore I decided to discuss it in at least two installments, maybe more, depending on how long I last. In this first chapter, we'll cover simple do's and don't's of creating a profile. From my perspective. Because I know what's best. ;)

- Write about yourself in the boxes. It's not "funny" or "cute" to say things like, "If you really want to know, you'll ask me."

- Use spellcheck. Please. And as much correct punctuation as you can. Typos happen, but it's not really helpful if a profile isn't coherent.

- Post decent pictures of yourself. Ones where you can see your face. Maybe smile. Maybe even post ones where you've washed your hair recently.

- Come up with something more clever in a message than, "You're cute." Actually read the profile of the person you're messaging and comment on something they've said.

- Use "text speak" to creat your profile. It gets really annoying to try to read.

- Post pictures of yourself cuddling with members of the opposite sex. Somehow it sends the wrong message on a dating site.

- Post pictures of yourself taking pictures of yourself in the bathroom mirror with your shirt off. Just...don't. (This is mostly aimed at guys, but it would probably be a bad idea for girls too ;))

- Talk about how stupid or blind the opposite sex is in your first messages. Bitterness is not sexy.

- Say in the first message that you are desperate to meet someone and you think it's the person you're messaging. Again. Not really attractive.


I could go on, I'm sure. But those are the basics. It shouldn't be rocket science, but you'd be surprised! That's it for now. Stay tuned in the next few days to hear about some of the charmers I've already met on the site. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When I grow up

I have many dreams. And not just the kind that happen when you sleep. Although, I do have lots of those. The other day I fell asleep and dreamt I was in Egypt. I want to go to Egypt someday. That would be awesome. Anyway, that's not the point of this blog. The point, my friends, is that I still don't know what I want to be. I never quite grew out of the dreaming stages of childhood, where you really really want to be President just because then everyone has to do what you tell them. Even after four years of college, two years of grad school, and two years in the working world, I still have lots of plans for my future. And, you lucky readers, I am going to list just a few of them Just. For. YOU. You're welcome.

ROCK STAR: I love to sing. I can play the tambourine too. And probably the maracas, though I haven't tried those as much. I really want to learn to play my guitar better (it's red), and it would be awesome if I could hone my piano skills as well. I want to spend all my time just singing and singing and dancing and being adored by crowds of screaming fans. Except when I want them to leave me alone. Then they will.

AUTHOR: I really am still working on writing a few different novels, one that is fairly close to completion. If I could get published, it would be totally awesome. I would love to quit my job and just spend all my time in my head, creating characters and storylines and bringing joy to my millions of readers worldwide. I would buy a lake cabin where I would do a lot of my writing. My desk would be in front of a giant picture window overlooking the lake. And I could sleep in every day and write late into the night. I would probably have to do book signings and such, which would make my hands hurt, but if I could make myself ambidextrous, it would be a little better.

TEACHER: I like kids, especially when they're sweet. I would have the best kids in the entire world. And my classroom would be full of sparkles and rainbows. My reading corner would be cloud-themed, so the kids would feel like they were reading in an oasis. And I could read there after school until the janitor would come and give me strange looks. I still miss my after school kids.

PHOTOGRAPHER: I like to take pictures. Especially of the sky and other pretty things, like people. I often get taunted for how many pictures I take. If I became a famous photographer, I could have shows all over the world, and then I could send postcards to the people who made fun of me, and the postcards would say, "What now???" and the people would be all, "Aww, I wish I hadn't made fun of her, she sure showed me." Yeah.

TRAVEL WRITER: I want to travel. A lot. So many places to see! People to meet! Since I can't afford to travel, I will become a travel writer so that I will get paid to visit places. I will stay in the nicest hotels and do the most fun things any given location can offer. And then I'll write about it in witty, charming articles, because I am witty and charming. If I'm really good, maybe I'll get my own show, and they can follow me on my adventures. I think I would need a co-host for a show though, because I work best playing off other people.

CRUISE ENTERTAINMENT STAFF: It would be like being a camp couselor, except for adults and on water. I actually considered applying to work on a Disney Cruise one summer, but I was too chicken. I used to want to be a singer on a cruise ship, but it seems like a pretty thankless job, and everyone loves the entertainment staff. I'm really super fun, so we would have the best staff ever. And I could give discounts on cruises to my friends and family and take other ones where I could have fun. It would be awesome.

REALITY TV STAR/TALK SHOW HOST/RADIO HOST: I would be really good at entertaining people. If it was my job to be entertaining, I would be a kajillionaire. Then I would buy a plane so I could travel.

Well, that's the short list. Any of those would be awesome. What would you like to be?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fair Daze

As the days are getting colder, and I begin to find crunchy leaves to step on, I can't help but wonder where summer went. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE fall. It's my favorite season. All the vibrant colors, the cooler temperatures, the smell of burning leaves in the air...I absolutely love it. In fact, I'm such a girl that I've planned out a fall-themed wedding. Yeah, sad, I know, but happy at the same time, since it has to do with fall.

But I digress.

The summer seemed to disappear fast, and while I didn't get to take an actual vacation, I did get the opportunity to go to the Iowa and Minnesota State Fairs. I'm not sure what it is about state fairs, but I love them. There's so much to see, and everyone is always so happy. Kids are excited and you see the patiently amused (and sometimes panicked) faces of parents trailing after kids hopping from one exhibit to the next like rabid squirrels. There are any number of different smells as you walk down the road, from crazy fried food to fresh baked cookies to the sweet smell of manure. ;)

I usually go to the fair with my family. This year I went to the Iowa State Fair with my parents and my brother's family, and to the Minnesota State Fair with just my parents. My mom and I usually break off from the group, since we tend find staring at animals for extended amounts of time slightly boring. This year my mom helped me in my quest to find many things on a stick. It was awesome.

Part of the reason my mom and I end up going off alone is because my dad gets very focused on what he's doing. My dad LOVES fairs. He could probably go every day the fair is going and never get bored. He judged at both state fairs, which he also loves. And I love that fairs make him so happy. The problem is, when you go to a fair with my dad, you spend a lot of time waiting for him or looking for him. We can be walking through a building and suddenly he's not there. Usually he's stopped at some other booth. Then we have two options. We can either wait for him or keep going. Chances are, it will end up the same way either way we go. We'll still lose him. It's inevitible. If we take our eyes off him for a second, he will be gone. Next year I'm planting a GPS chip on him. At least he wore an orange cap this year. Made it easier to spot him...sometimes. You think I get distracted...phew...

Anyway. I'm already looking forward to going to the fair(s) next year again. I'm also looking forwad to lots of good things coming this fall. Did I mention I love fall?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My happy place

I love my apartment. It's not a big place. I am sitting on the couch in my living room and can see the entire apartment from this spot. Except behind me, because my head doesn't turn that far. I spend a lot of time in this apartment. I have spent the past day and a half here without leaving, since my throat is apparently rebelling against the "no pain" rule I have with my body.

My apartment is peppered with little things that brand it as mine. My pictures, my books and movies, my mail left scattered around. Right now it smells of squash bread. The air conditioner is chugging away, and even though I'm not really watching, Scrubs is playing in the background. In a little bit, I'll go to bed, and all will be quiet, except for the occasional beeping of the key pad at the door under my window, and the thumping of footsteps of people coming home. Night is my favorite time of day here. Coming home from work, knowing there are no obligations until's the best feeling in the world.

My apartment is my refuge. My apartment doesn't know what happened during the day. It is still here when I get home, comforting and solid. It has witnessed break downs and my crazy leaking all over the place. I am myself here, completely. I know the familiar sounds, the little quirks that every home has. I've only been here for two years, but it feels longer.

This is a really weird, cheesy entry. I apologize for my lack of funny lately. I'm feeling much more introspective than humorous. Life is changing, and so am I. I hope the funny comes back soon. Until then, hang in with me!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Knock knock!

Today I had the privilege of spending some time with my nieces. Maddy started kindergarten this week, so I went over after work to go with to pick her up and have celebration ice cream. I had a great time playing with Allie before we left. She brushed my hair to "fix it," and chattered away about the weather just like at the salon. Then she fell on the floor giggling. Those girls keep me laughing almost all the time.

I stuck around to eat supper with the family, and during it the girls got into a round of knock knock jokes. This was Allie's favorite:
Knock knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
Banana wiggle my hands!

The best part was that as she finished she would collapse into a fit of giggles. Nothing better than the laughter of a child! She told it over and over, and got to the point where she was giggling so hard she couldn't even finish the joke!

Maddy tried to do the banana joke as well. She is getting better at it. When she was Allie's age, it went something like this:
Knock knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
Aren't you glad I didn't say banana?

Now Maddy's jokes border on bizarre, and follow along these lines:
Knock knock!
Who's there?
Curtains who?
Curtains going to eat you up and throw you in the dumpster!

A little disturbing maybe...but really funny when she's telling it. I don't think I could pull the same thing off without the nice men in white jackets paying me a visit. I'm a little jealous of what kids can get away with sometimes.

I love that my nieces are already honing their joke telling skills. I hope they end up having a sense of humor like their auntie...and learn that it's okay to be weird!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A living arrangement tangent of sorts

It’s an interesting thing to live alone. Most of the time I absolutely love it. It’s nice that things stay put (usually) where I leave them, and that the temperature is completely under my control. What? I don’t have control issues. Anyway. I enjoy being able to watch TV whenever, or sit all day with the TV off, reading or staring out the window. I get the bathroom when I want, and I have an entire apartment in which to store things. No sharing of space. I don’t do well with sharing. I failed kindergarten. (I didn’t really, but it sounds good. No, it actually doesn’t. What am I talking about?)

Anyways. When you live alone, you get very used to being alone. Duh, I know, but I think that living alone has helped me to learn to be alone other places as well. In college, I never liked going anywhere alone. It stressed me out if I had to go eat at the Commons alone. It’s still not my favorite thing to eat alone in public, but I have had to do it enough (partially because of my job), that it doesn’t really bother me. In college, if I had to go to the store, I would find a buddy. Now I prefer to shop alone. I feel like living by myself has forced me to become a more independent and self-sufficient person. Sometimes a little too self-sufficient.
Living alone can be very lonely. Today, after an absolutely terrible session, I just wanted to be able to come home and decompress with someone. Talk about what was going on, and then move on. Besides the practical side, like having someone to split rent and bills, I miss having a roommate. Someone to laugh with and chat with. Someone to share dinners with. Someone to know where I am.

I have had some of the best roommates in the world. My sister, of course, was my first “roommate.” We had some good years. We had tape down the middle of our room in Ackley, IA. Her side was always neat as a pin, while mine had very little floor visible. She used to enjoy forcing me to play school (she would let me go for "recess," complete my homework for me, purposely answering questions incorrectly, and then mark them wrong in a red pen) or kicking me out when she had friends over. I enjoyed putting her things out of place and annoying her by being sickeningly cute when she had friends over so they would want to play with me. We lived together until I was in fourth grade. Even back then, and despite her being a typical "older sister," I remember appreciating having someone else around. It was weird staying in a room by myself. Of course, I got used to it. In high school I had the whole basement to myself, but I could always hear my parents moving around upstairs.

Kaija was my freshman year roommate. We braved the new world of college together. We had our ups and downs, but we’re still good friends. Solberg 101 forever! (Wait…was that our room?) We always enjoyed having very unique names together. We bonded over it. That, and Honors Religion. And our matching gold chairs.

Sophomore year was the year of craziness. I lived with my dear friend Nik. She and I share a brain, and we had things in our room such as the ceiling of hotties above our desk, and our “face door,” which we created way before Facebook. We painted our loft with chalkboard paint and made people sign it when they visited. We played many pranks together. It was a good year.

Apparently this has turned into a roommate rundown. Don’t worry, there are only a few left. My junior year I lived with Kristen. (She just had a baby, by the way. Beautiful baby. :)) We had crabs (the hermit kind). Their names were Skohotentot and Skolinkenlot. I might have named them. We also had special plants called “living stones,” but we called them butt plants, because they looked like little butts. I also lived across from Kristen senior year, when we both had single rooms. We would leave our doors open and it was almost like we were still living together :)

Between my senior year of college and my first year of grad school, I lived with Heidi. Heidi was crazy. She is my only former roommate with whom I have no contact anymore. That’s all I have to say about that.

Going into grad school, I thought I was going to have to live alone. I was at a wedding for a woman who worked in the office where I did work study for four years, and was talking with some of the other student workers. One had graduated a year ahead of me. She was pretty awesome. Her name was Jill. Well, her name still is Jill, actually. :) It just happened that Jill’s roommate was getting married and she was looking for a new place to live. Just like that, I had myself a roommate. That was totally amazing, because I really couldn’t afford to live alone. It was double amazing because Jill turned out to be an awesome roommate and is still a dear friend. We used to sing together and just had really good talks. Oh how I miss my Jilly.

My last roommate was Sarah. It was a similar situation as with Jill. I knew Sarah in college, but we were never super close. However, we both happened to be looking for roommates at the same time and randomly found each other. Living with Sarah was almost like living alone, because our schedules were so opposite. There was just enough of that camaraderie to keep things from being too lonely though.

Long story short…roommates are great. I love living alone, but I think in the right place I would enjoy having a roommate again. A bigger place than my current apartment for sure. In fact, if all my former roommates could live in a house together, life would be perfect. Wait…

Or. I could just get married.

Wow, I need sleep.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Will we ever learn?

The past several weeks I have spent a lot of free time watching DVDs of the show "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman." It's becoming a bit of a problem. You see, I'm a bit obsessed, and my apartment is not self-cleaning.

I love this show. I am so fascinated by history, not so much what happened, which is important, but how people lived in the past. We have so much technology and convenience now, I find it hard to imagine living without things like microwaves, cars, and hair straighteners. Where the fastest way to get a message to someone who lives across the country is by telegraph or pony express. And the news in the letter is weeks old by the time it reaches its destination. I can't imagine taking weeks/months long trips because it takes so long to get somewhere, or to say goodbye to someone knowing you may never see or hear from them again.

There is a place in Des Moines called Living History Farms, which is like a playground for someone like me. It takes you through decades of progress, how people lived in many different times. I love walking through the houses and hearing explanations of how people went about day to day living. Seeing how women were able to do the cooking and cleaning (yes, mostly just women, just a fact). Fascinating. Really. (Facebook friends, if you haven't seen my album from LHF, it is here.)

I also love the small town feel of Dr. Quinn. Everyone knows everyone else, and there isn't anything like TV or video games to distract, so they have to create their own entertainment. Dances and picnics are a regular occurrence. Now, I realize this is TV, but still. It's wonderful :)

We have come a long way from the world of Dr. Quinn. In some ways. In other ways, though, I feel as if we still have a long way to go. A constant frustration for me, and for Phyllis, who is borrowing the DVDs from me, is the ignorance. Again, I realize it's a TV show, but my guess is that things were actually much worse than they show. On the show, they want people to have compassion for their characters, so they give them some redeeming qualities and things usually turn out decently. Not so in real life. The way that Native Americans were treated is appalling. What gave anyone the right to come in and take the land? And then shuttle these people, who had lived on the land for hundreds of years, into small tracts of crap land and force them to live like white people. Really? They were called savages, but I think anyone with a brain can figure out where that title actually belongs. The show depicts cruelty and discrimination against Indians, blacks, hispanics, women...basically anyone who is different, or does things differently than expected.

And I don't feel like things have changed that much. How often do we make judgments about people before even talking to them? We see them and decide we know who they are before they have a chance to defend themselves. We think with our eyes, instead of using the wonderful blob in our heads. We assign them attributes based on cultural expectations and our own prejudices. We forget that people are people, no matter what they look like. That person you are avoiding because they're not good-looking enough may be the love of your life, while the person you're devoting your energy to may be the biggest jerk in the world. As much as we use our sight, we are blinded by it.

I don't really have anything else to say on that topic. Well, I have a lot, but I think that's enough. I started another more entertaining blog a few days ago. I'll finish that at some point soon. Right now, I have some more Dr. Quinn to watch. :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A salon guidebook

I realize that to some people, trips to the salon may be boring or pointless. Why go to a salon when you can cut your own hair? they may wonder. Perhaps others worry about what a trip to the salon is like. What should I expect? you might ask. Anxiety can be especially acute when trying out a new salon. I have decided, as a public service, to put together a synopsis of what someone might expect on a trip to the salon.*

Trips to the salon are fantastic. Okay, so first you go in and they sit you in a chair and you get to wear a CAPE. They put it on backwards, but still, pretty awesome, right? And you're not weird, because EVERYONE is wearing a cape just like you, and no one makes fun of you for wearing it backwards. After that, they hand you this book with a bunch of different colors of fake hair (at least I think it's fake). You get to pick whatever colors you want from the book. I thought hot pink looked fantastic, but settled for a brighter red then normal and light blonde. The hairstylist disappears to "mix the colors" and leaves you all alone in a SWIVEL CHAIR. So great.

When the stylist returns, your dizziness changes from being due to excessive swiveling to being due to the fumes rising from the bowls of color. You may wonder why she is putting purple in your hair, but don't worry, it usually isn't the color it looks. Kinda like paint when you paint your wall and it looks a different color in the can but then isn't quite that color when it dries, except even more so with this because the purple turns your hair blonde, not just a lighter shade of purple, which is good, because I would love to have purple hair but it probably wouldn't be very professional. The stylist begins to paint your hair and wrap it in foil. It's fun to have someone play with your hair. Of course, the first part of the time your hair is in your face and it kinda gets stuck in your mouth and in your eyelashes and it gets kinda hot if you have lots of hair and you can't read your magazine because there's a giant sheet of hair in your face, but it's still nice.

If you have as much hair as me, you end up with about the equivalent of an entire roll of tin foil on your head and resemble one of those crazy people who thinks they can pick up alien frequencies with a tin foil hat. Silly people. I only pick up radio waves. So you rock out to the radio waves being directly transmitted into your brain, and ignore the strange looks you get as you stand up and start dancing. Seriously, these people are wearing their capes BACKWARDS and they're giving YOU weird looks? Sheesh. This goes on for about 30 minutes until it's time to say goodbye to your radio waves and get the foil removed.

The salon has these awesome chairs that have a sink actually attached to the top, so it's always at the perfect height. Plus, the stylist hits a button and a footrest rises from under the chair, so you're all sprawled out while someone else washes your hair. Pretty amazing. It's like something out of Star Trek. You can sit and pretend you're in some futuristic world getting your hair washed to distract you from worrying about your hair coming out with the foils. It happened once on Step By Step. It was okay on the show, though, because it became the style and then everyone wanted a bald spot. Somehow I don't think that would happen in real life, but it sure worked out well in a half hour sitcom.

The hair washing part is amazing. You lay there and they massage special potions into your hair. It lasts at least five minutes, probably longer. The mix of smells is intoxicating, and you start to think you're having your hair washed by fairies in a magical meadow. These potions make your hair smell amazing and it ends up all shiny and soft. Of course, this only lasts until you have to wash it again. It's kind of like being Cinderella, where the spell wears off at midnight, except you shouldn't shower at midnight because if you go to bed with wet hair it ends up all kinky and it might look like you have a square head if you can't get all the bumps out with a flat iron. But I digress.

You're taken back to a different chair, which also swivels, but you don't really have time to really enjoy it because the stylist doesn't really leave you alone again. You may wonder if she realizes something happened before... She takes out her scissors and proceeds to chop into the locks you have lovingly cared for for so long. It's a little sad, and it's okay to cry at this point. The stylist will probably ignore you, but if she doesn't, you can probably make up some story about flying hair landing in your eye. It's plausible.

After the cut, your stylist blows your hair dry (this may take a while if you have enough hair to cover three heads) and then puts some more potion in it. She flat irons it better than you ever could yourself, spraying something on it that makes it shiny and smooth. One final application of yet another magical substance really makes the hair shine, and it lays down smoothly. At this point, your hair will look the best it will probably look for the next six months, color bright, flyaways and curls tamed. It's enough to bring another tear to your eye, but I would advise against this, as you've probably already used the "hair in my eye" excuse and people start to look at you out of the corners of their eyes like you're crazy if you get too emotional too often. Especially in a hair salon.

You are asked to relinquish your cape, which you must do, or they probably won't let you come back. And you will be back. They will probably ask you to leave after you stare at yourself in the mirror for 30 minutes or so, so you should probably plan to have a good mirror in your car. Just be sure to hide it before you drive home. No need to cause car wrecks over fabulous hair.

My trip to the salon was a magical adventure. I hope yours is just as amazing! Good luck, and good hair.

*Of course, be aware that these trips vary according to salon and stylist used, and service requested. Please don't sue me if your trip is not as amazing as this guide makes it out to be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My new career in haiku

I need to make a quick clarfication. My last post was originally supposed to be funny. The many "loves" of my life, because I very easily slip into infatuation. I never went through that "boys are ucky and have cooties" phase. I have been boy crazy pretty much since birth. Hence my lifelong desire to be Cinderella. I love love stories, and I'm sure I will love love if I ever experience it. I did get a little deep, and I stand by the statements I made, but I didn't mean to sound uber depressed, so I apologize if that's how I came across! I do appreciate all the comments and messages on my blog and on Facebook. You guys are great. It's good to know so many people are there for me! At least if I end up a spinster, I know I'll be a spinster will A LOT of friends ;)

Now, I can't just write a post about that. Well, I could, but it would be boring and I might start to lose the few readers I have ;) So.

Today I was driving back to work with Phyllis (we went to let the guys in with my fixed TV!) and there was a truck that drove by with something on the back that *almost* rhymed. We both thought it rhymed (even though it didn't really) and I came up with a brilliant new career move. I am going to paint work trucks. With haiku. For example, the company who fixed my TV is Messerly TV. For them:

Messerly TV
We fix your TVs, yo
So give us your dough

(Actually, I didn't have to pay for my TV repair, and they were very helpful and wonderful to work with. Never once did they demand "dough")

My friend Nik's husband is a Schwan's man. maybe they need a new logo..
Here comes the Schwan's man
With a truck full of great food
Order some now, please

There is a commercial on for Hamburger Helper. I don't know if they have a truck, but they should. And this is what it should say:
Hamburger Helper
It sometimes tastes like cardboard
But it sure is cheap

I could do commericals too, or print ads. Maybe the CW wants to advertise for Star Trek. I would if I were them.
To boldly go where?
Where all the coolest kids are
Watch Star Trek at twelve

I could even do a slogan to advertise for referrals at work!
Helping your kids cope
Hooligans and angels too
Orchard Place is fab

Maybe I should do something about the depressing ASPCA commercials.
Don't hurt your pets, please
They just want to love on you
Not cry on TV

Okay I'm done. I could do this all night. Seriously. I'm officially obsessed with haiku. And, is the plural of haiku, haiku?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tis better to have loved...

I found out recently that my first love is now married. And not to me. *Sigh* I was four when he asked me out. We were taking turns riding his tricycle, and as he rode in circles around me, he said those words. "Hey, wanna be my girlfriend?" How could I say no to such a romantic suggestion? We were together until kindergarten, where he met "the other woman," Vanessa. Of course, I had my own interests to deal with in the boy who brought me an entire bag of seashells and gave everyone else just one after his trip to the shore. Oh kindergarten...

I left it all behind me when I moved from New York to rural Iowa. In first grade, there was Rusty. We shared a birthday and had to decide who was going to bring treats when. He was such a gentleman and agreed to let me have our actual birthday. What a charmer. In third grade came Steve. He was shorter than the other boys, but just too adorable. Plus, my best friend liked his best friend, so it worked out rather well.

Another move left me without a crush until 7th grade, when they actually started getting serious. I mean, these were the days when you might actually talk to the boy you liked or sit next to him at lunch. In 7th grade, a tumultuous year (as many middle school years are), I fell in love with a boy we nicknamed "The Voice." His voice changed into that deep baritone before any of the other boys in our class. I loved to hear him talk. Of course, when he spoke to me, I forgot how to use my tongue and just stared at him, mouth gaping, looking like a fish gasping for water. Very attractive, I assure you. My love was short-lived, however, and one day in gym The Voice leaned over and made a rude comment about me to a friend. Poof! No more crush. Which is good, because weeks later we were assigned to be seated at the same table in library study hall and he yelled, "NO!!!" quite loudly. I'm pretty sure that isn't a good basis for the start of a relationship.

There have been several infatuations/loves/crushes since then, but of course I am not going to disclose them on here, as many of them are still my Facebook friends, or friends of friends, and some things are better left a secret. What isn't a secret is the fact that I am a romantic. For a team building activity, my coworker had us each cut out pictures from magazines that we thought represented each other. Mine consisted of weirdness, happiness, dancing, and romance. I have mentioned before that I want to be Cinderella. I don't think it's wrong to want the fairy tale, as long as it's grounded in reality.

I have long since had an idealized view of love. Of course, that has matured as I've grown older, and especially as I went through the education and experience to become a marriage and family therapist. I know love is hard. It takes sacrifice and compromise. And bravery, because the ones you love the most can hurt you the worst. I have awesome examples of love in my life. My parents, grandparents, and siblings show me all the time how to make things work, and that things aren't perfect in love. So in theory, I know a lot. But despite all my infatuations, despite my strong feelings of something, I don't think I have experienced that thing called love, constantly elusive to me.

I am thinking right now of my metaphor for my "love life," and I'm not going to share it on here, but if anyone is interested, let me know. I will share it in private. It involves desserts. On a conveyor belt. Which prompted me to call it my "conveyor belt of love," which coincidentally become a cheesy dating show that was on for one episode last year. Oh I am laughing a lot right now.


As more and more of my friends fall in love, get married, have kids, it makes me think about the whole idea of love and family. I love being single, but I also have a desire to be married and have a family. I mean, I would be an awesome housewife. Sometimes I clean. And I'm great company. PLUS, I can cook. I mean, just tonight I was trying to figure out what to eat, and I came across macaroni and cheese. Boring, right? No way! Using my wits and what I could find in the cupboard, I turned that boring kid's meal into a stellar pasta dish fit to serve at a fancy dinner party! (You can so serve tuna casserole at a dinner party.) See what I mean?

Sometimes I wonder how much to believe in fate. Is there just one person out there for each of us? If so, how could we fall in love so often? And why do some of us never fall in love at all? How many times have you been in love? How did you know it was love? And how do you know it will last?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A great synopsis of greatness

This past weekend I accepted an invitation to go along with my sister and her family on a mini-vacation to the Amana Colonies area in Iowa. I was super excited because I haven't been on a vacation in ages, and the plan was to stay at a hotel with a WATER PARK. I mean, seriously, could it get any cooler?


When we got to the hotel, there were a bunch of CORVETTES in the parking lot. Apparently they were part of some organization out of Illinois. I scoured the drivers for my future husband, but alas, the youngest of them appeared to be in their 50s. Bummer. Oh well.

Maddy and Allie were so excited to be at the hotel. We couldn't check in yet, so we played on the wooden playground. Allie hung out the windows and I ferried Maddy across the monkey bars. Emily and Martin played too. On the tire swing. It was awesome. Finally, we got to check in. Dinner at the hotel was so delicious I took a picture of it. The chicken was shaped like a heart. Awesome.

We played at the water park for a while. Maddy was fearless, going down the slides she was just barely big enough to ride, and jumping off the side of the pool like a pro. She just passed level one of swimming lessons. My favorite part, however, was the whirly pool. No, not the hot tub/whirlpool. It was a round pool off the main pool that carried you around in circles. Kids were trying to swim against the current, but I just put my feet up and swirled forever. It was awesome. I can now say that I have an idea of what it feels like to be a turd.


Friday we went into Coralville. We were sitting in the food court and Allie was chowing down on her pizza when she announced, "This is the best day EVER!" which Maddy followed up with, "I've always wanted to take a vacation in Iowa!" I made some snarky comment under my breath along the lines of, "You don't hear that every day," and Maddy looked at me and said, "That's only because I usually don't say it out loud." Touche, little one, touche.

In the mall there was a children's museum. I've decided that when I get rich I am going to replicate it for my children. So much fun. I wish I had someplace like that when I was little! Even Martin enjoyed playing in all the different areas. We learned about grocery shopping and making pizza, doctor's offices and the post office. The girls even put on a puppet show for us. Afterwards we watched people skating in the indoor ice rink by the food court, and wandered the mall. I found super cute little yellow ballet flats. It really was the best day ever, especially with more time in the whirly pool later on.

Now, in the hotel, I got the privilege of sharing a bed with my five year old niece, Maddy. Sharing a bed with a five year old is an interesting experience. They notoriously move a lot, and Maddy is no exception. It didn't help that I had joked about cuddling with her. While I love to cuddle when I'm awake, when it's time to sleep, I prefer not to be touched. I always joke that when I get married I will have to get bunk beds. So that first night, no sooner did I try to get to sleep, but Maddy was attached like a monkey to my back. I tried to scooch her back over and she just rolled right back, as if there was a magnet pulling her to be as close to me as humanly possible. My sister got up and tried to move her several times in the night, as did I, but it didn't work. I think she was trying to sleep on me. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night, and certainly not good sleep. The second night was better, since we had a talk before bed. "But I just like to cuddle with you, Auntie Rena!" she said sweetly, big brown eyes open wide. She's too too much.

Saturday was a long day of shopping in Williamsburg at the outlet mall. I got a lot of good deals, but I am so not a shopper and it totally wore me out. In fact, I slept 12 hours last night just to try to recover. Insane. While we were shopping, I heard a couple of girls talking about some shoes they found. One goes, "Wow, these are cuter than crap." I tucked that statement away and shared it with Emily and Martin later. We decided that there are actually a lot of things that are cuter than crap. We made a list. For example: grass, cows, road signs, the road, computers, meat, my cell phone, toilets, water, mail, toenails, and Allie's boogers. So I really have no idea how cute those shoes actually were.

I had a fabulous time. I've spent today, Independence Day, sitting on my couch watching movies. It's been a good day, really. I can already hear the fireworks people are setting off outside.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's an addiction

I love books. I'm reading the book "Inkheart" right now, and the main characters love books as much as I do. Every time the author goes into a description of why they love books, it's like I'm reading my own thoughts. It's the idea that there are so many stories out there to be told, and in a book, you get to be a part of them for a while. In a book, you can travel the world and beyond, you can fight dragons and fly with fairies. You can escape to a world beyond your own for a little while. What I love so much about books is that the characters, the people, come alive in my head however I want them to. Reading is an exercise in creativity, something that is sorely lacking in other areas of life.

I will read books about just about anything. I enjoy mysteries, trying to solve them along with the characters. I enjoy fantasy, where worlds are spun from words that create new perceptions and expectations. I love stories about love, all kinds of love, friendships, romance, family love. I love stories written in first person, where the reader is privvy to every thought in the main character's mind, and ones where the point of view hops from person to person, making the reader feel like some omniscient being watching from above as the story plays out. Books bring out crazy emotions in me, I cry along with the characters, feel anger and frustration, and even fall in love a little with each book I read. I love going into libraries and old bookstores. The smell of books is intoxicating. If they made a perfume called "Old Book," I would definitly buy it, just to spray on my new books ;)

I have watched several movies based on books lately. "Inkheart," of course. Also "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," and the first two "Twilight" movies. (The third comes out tonight at midnight! I'm going tomorrow night, and I'm super excited!) It's fun to see your favorite characters on the screen, to see beloved stories come to life. There are several problems though. I mean, what happens when the characters are a far cry from how you picture them? I don't mind Robert Pattinson, but he is definitely not how I pictured Edward from Twilight. And if you only see the movies and don't read the books, you miss out on so much! Since you can't have a five hour movie (at least not one people would sit through), it's necessary to cut characters and plot from the book. There are all these layers that are missing, and much of the richness and creativity are lost. Another problem is the need for movies to add so much action. I remember being super upset with the fourth Harry Potter movie, when they cut an entire important storyline and put in a five minute dragon chase sequence. But I suppose that's what people want. Which is why I'm glad I can always go back to my books.

I will read books several times over. I have read the Twilight and Harry Potter series (I don't know how to make that plural) several times each. I am planning to read the Percy Jackson series again soon. Each time I discover something new about the characters. Some people think it's weird that I read books over, especially so many times, since I clearly know what is going to happen. But for me it's like going to visit old friends. I miss them. Weird, I know, but true.

I could care less if a book is considered "literary." It drives me nuts when people write these depressing books with big words and are given higher praise than those who write in a more relateable way. In my creative writing course in college, most of the stories turned in were depressing and dark. The first one I turned in wasn't. I write for teens/young adults. I got the most ridiculous comments because of it. Stephenie Meyer is often ridiculed for not being "literary" enough, and for having a poor writing style. Guess what. She has several best sellers and a movie series based on her books. I don't think she cares!

I have started working on my novel again. Hopefully I can finish it out, and who knows, maybe I will get lucky and get published someday. It would be my dream to be able to write for a living. I know it probably won't happen, but it's fun to dream. There are so many stories in my head just waiting to be told. They won't be "literary." I write like I talk pretty much. I want my books to be something people can read and really get into the story, rather than stumbling over difficult words and odd phrasing. It may not always be grammatically correct. I often end sentences with prepositions. And I giggle every time ;)

So. The point is, nothing can compare to books. I am completely addicted to them. If I'm in the middle of a good book, I will go on very little sleep in order to read just one more chapter (or five). If I had to choose between only reading or only watching TV and movies, reading would win. Every time. No contest. Gosh I'm a nerd.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Defining moments - Not a funny one, guys

Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking about who I am. I have spent years, well, my whole life really, figuring out who I am, what makes me tick. What are those defining moments that changed the course of my life? Who would I be without them? We always joked in my family that people probably thought my siblings and I were adopted. My brother, Ben, is a redhead. My sister, Emily, is a blonde. And then there's me, the brunette. We all have vastly different personalities as well. My parents raised us all the same way, we had the same rules (mostly...things may have been a little different for my brother because he was more of a "wild child," as wild as we ever got anyway), and all still adhere to the same morals and values. My brother is adventurous and busy. He spent several summers working at day camps in other countries, and still takes many trips to go backpacking, kayaking, anything outside. He has a million hobbies and is always doing something. My sister is happiest sticking close to home. She spends most of her time with her husband and kids, and likes it that way. I'm not sure even one of her hobbies and my brother's intersect. I fall somewhere in the middle, which is sort of the way it's always been. I would love to travel more, and a good chunk of my weekends are spent visiting friends in other cities/states, but I also enjoy my weekends at home. I tend to be happy doing whatever someone else suggests.

So how did we end up so different? How did they end up going to school for education, which my parents both did as well, while I ended up going to school to figure out what makes people tick, and to help those who cannot help themselves? I think I really would have enjoyed teaching as well, but something pulled me into the social services field. As I considered this, I thought about those defining moments. One stuck out in my head. I'm sure it's not the only one, but it was certainly a moment I will never forget. And not in a good way.

I didn't have a very good middle school career. I know, I know. Everyone says middle school sucked, things were horrible, it's that awkward stage, blah blah blah. But seriously, it was terrible. I was the fat girl. I got made fun of a lot. My nickname was "Rena the Rhinoceros." Kids can be incredibly cruel, especially in a small school where you don't fit in. In seventh grade, I was in a year-long feud with my best friend. I read an old journal I kept during that time and in it I wrote that I could write an entire book about my year in seventh grade. I wouldn't necessarily go that far, but there are surely several short stories that could be told.

During this year, I became friends with a girl named Karla. She was more popular, and I felt special to be included in her world. She had a crush on my brother, though he was six years older, and I wonder sometimes if that is why we became friends. I guess it doesn't really matter. I thought she was my best friend. My new best friend, since the old one was going around telling things about me she swore to never tell. (To be fair, I wasn't being much nicer to her. Like I said, kids can be cruel.) During one of our study halls, a group of girls would get together and go to the counselor's office just to hang out and chat or whatever. It was a super cool thing to get to do, and we made a pact that anything that was said in there would not be repeated to anyone not in the room. One day, we went, and Karla got up to go to the bathroom or get a drink or something, and the other girls launched into all these things about her that bugged them. Before she got back, they reminded me that I wasn't to say anything since she hadn't been in the room at the time. I kept my mouth shut, though I was torn between sharing with my friend and the sacred confidentiality of the group.

But Karla knew. She knew things had been said, and she got angry. After PE one day, she started yelling at the other girls, telling them that I told her everything they said. I hadn't, so I was shocked that she said so. I approached her and quietly said, "Karla, I told you I couldn't tell you..." And she went off. "You are so pathetic!" she screamed. "People call my house and ask why I'm friends with you. I'm tired of it! Leave me alone, we are NOT friends!" And she slammed out of the locker room, leaving me standing there, stunned. I was frozen for a few seconds, and then made my own escape to the bathroom down the hall. I cried harder than I ever had, more than when the boys made fun of me and told me I was going to break the playground equipment, more than when my siblings were mean to me, more than I did even when my former best friend let her friend yell at me about how fat I was.

Band was next. With puffy eyes, I entered the band room, and could feel the eyes on me. Karla sat across the row, studiously ignoring me. Halfway through putting my instrument together, I broke down again and asked to be excused to use the restroom. The band instructor took one look at me and let me go. I stayed there the rest of the time. I sat through that period and through choir. I don't remember much after that. Only the really strong memories stay with you, I think. I think Karla tried to apologize, and I refused it. I can't be sure if that's a real memory or not though, because I often retreated to my head when I was upset and came up with scenarios of what I would do in different situations.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to share this painful memory. I guess to illustrate my point. I wish I could go back and tell that little girl that it's okay, that things will get better, that not all people are like that. But at the same time, I still have parts of that little girl in me. The parts that tell me I'm pathetic some days. The parts that make it hard for me to trust people, and easy to believe that they are just using me. It's why I get offended very easily, and am a little paranoid at times. It's the reason I use humor to cover up the worst parts of me, to take the focus off the parts of myself I am ashamed of.

That moment, and the many others like it, have helped to make me who I am. Though I call it a defining moment, I refuse to let it define me. Without times like that, I'm not sure I would be as compassionate as I am. I can relate to my clients on a different level, to be in the moment with those who have been hurt, and to help those who are doing the hurting to relate to their victims. Is it difficult at times? Absolutely. I see so much of myself in some of my clients it's almost scary. But I think it makes me better at my job, and better able to handle adversity in life. A little part of me will always be "Rena the Rhinoceros." But what I'm learning is to embrace that part of me as much as any other part, to learn from it instead of running from it.

Life is an adventure. Life is a lesson. Life is living. So live.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I get no sympathy! But my friends are very patient.

I mentioned at the end of my post yesterday that my walk resulted in several blisters on one of my feet. Really annoying. So I went to my dear friend Phyllis looking for sympathy because I was in pain. Did I get any? You be the judge...

me: my toe hurts

andrea: lance it

me: no

andrea: it'll feel better

me: or it'll fall off!!!

andrea: it won't fall off good grief

me: how do you know?

andrea: well for one I am assuming the bone is still attached. . .and two, it's a blister which means it's only skin deep. . .you are probably gonna have to do a lot more damage before your toe falls off

me: what if i try to lance it and i slip and CUT IT OFF???

andrea: well then you are lancing it wrong. . .you should be using a needle to lance it. . .if you cut your toe off with that then I don't know that anyone can help you

me: i don't have a needle so i was going to use a butcher knife

andrea: cause you have nothing between a needle and a butcher knife

me: well i only want to have to poke it once

andrea: you only have to poke it once with a needle

me: what if it goes through to the bone?

andrea: were talking about a needle here rena. . .you really can't do much damage with the needle

me: have we met?

andrea: I still contend it's a needle. . .I don't think even you could do much damage with that

me: you come do it and bring a needle cuz i don't have one

andrea: I will do it for you at work tomorrow

me: but i might scream

andrea: I'll bring a piece of leather for you to chew on ya wuss. . .have you really never lanced anything before, you can't feel it

me: i don't believe you. what if you slip and paralyze me

andrea: it's ur pinky toe. . .are you this paranoid about everything

me: i'm not paranoid. who told you i was paranoid? was it nicole?

andrea: I don't know why I even attempt logic with you most days. . .it usually ends up making me crazy

She went on to blame me for her craziness. But I guess she kinda has a point. I do at times make it a point to do things that will make her think she's crazy. It's fun. And I get bored easily. Is it wrong to mess with people's minds like that? If it is, then I don't wanna be right...

Oh yeah, and I did end up lancing my blisters. With a fingernail clipper. Don't worry, it was sanitary. And I used bandaids.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A day in the life

My TV quit turning on the other day. Quite annoying, actually, because I have the urge to watch movies lately, which doesn't happen that often, and now I'm stuck watching them on my old computer. It's okay though. I'm not missing much on TV. So I was thinking, gosh, with no TV to suck me in and distract me, what a wonderful time to work on the novel I started last November! I really do want to finish it, but for some reason, motivation has been severely lacking lately. Somehow yesterday I managed to avoid it all day. I finished my book, messed around with the TV, wrote an email to Samsung (they are NOT helpful), went to see The Karate Kid (definitely worth seeing!), and then wasted many hours reading through my old entries and on If you like my sense of humor and don't have too much of an aversion to some swearing, go read it. It's hilarious. I sit and giggle to myself when I read it, which probably makes me look crazy, but nobody can see me (I think), so I'm not too worried. ANYWAY, so about 1:00am I'm like, oh crap, I didn't even look at my novel. Oh well, bedtime!

Today I was SURE I was gonna do it. Positive. I need to sit down and read the dang thing again first, and then I'll be golden. Not hard, right? Wrong. This is sort of what my day has looked like thus far:

- Get up. Wander around a bit. Decide it is too early to be up. Go back to bed.

- Wake up again, wondering about dreams that include the author of (weird, maybe need to slow down with the reading) and people I knew in middle school. Think maybe I should friend them all on facebook and reconnect.

- Upon further consideration, decide not to friend people on facebook I haven't talked to in over 10 years because they might find it creepy to find a message from me saying "I had a dream about you last night..."

- Decide it's high time I curl my hair, which I haven't done in two years. Spend extra time making ringlets. Sing into the end of the curling iron when appropriate.

- Go to check my email. And Facebook. And And See if anyone has commented on my blog today (they haven't). Go back to Facebook and look through albums my friends have been tagged in.

- Decide to make mac n cheese for lunch. Fill pot with water and set on stove.

- Remember it's Father's Day and I should call my dad. Talk to him for a long time while playing Solitaire.

- Remember that I was making mac n cheese and wonder why the water isn't boiling. Turn on stove.

- Get out box of mac n cheese.

- Try to plug TV in and push button until water boils.

- Look for box of mac n cheese. Find it on the couch.

- Ponder ways to use my non-working TV. Come up with following ideas:
~ Giant paperweight
~ First exhibit in my new sculpture garden dedicated to broken technology
~ Open it up and play with the parts inside (after unplugging)
~ Invite people over for a movie and stare at the TV, laughing every once in a while as if there is actually a movie playing
~ Bedazzle it
~ Draw a face on it and have a conversation
~ That's all I got for now

- Fix mac n cheese. Enjoy.

- Decide to take a walk even though it might rain. Consider all the ways to blog about walking in the rain

- Stop to examine nature on the walk. Go around the park an extra time to burn off the extra mac n cheese calories. (Giggle about the fact that sometimes I type "man and cheese")

- Come home and collapse

- Get a drink of water. Get another drink of water. Notice an old napkin on the refrigerator where my dear friend Masako (she is Japanese, super cute!) wrote all the requirements for my husband on 11/2/06. Signed and dated. They are as follows (quoted directly from napkin, numbers are list of most important attributes, others are negotiable):
Renata Husband Must:
~ Be Brit or Aussie, or accent with Italian, Irish, or Scottish
~ (1) Christian - non denominational
~ (4)Musical - sing, guitar, and/or piano, no dancing necessary (but certainly welcomed!)
~ Taller than 6 feet
~ Teddybear huggable *picture of bear* No skinny boys need to apply. No bodybuilder please.
~ (5) Love kids
~ Not a pastor nor a hitman
~ No older than 2-3 years older. No younger than a year.
~ Small town boy living in a city, not in Sioux Falls forever
~ (assumed) Good kisser and hugger and cuddler
~ (assumed) In LOVE with Renata
~ (2) Outgoing, sense of humour, bizarre one like Renata's
~ Likes Jill and friends
~ (3) Respects family of his and Renata's
~ Respect Renata's personal time and space
~11/2/06, (signed) Masako Izumi

- Giggle about the list and think about possible exceptions. Try to remember who came up with most of them, me or Masako.

- Check facebook again. Write on walls. Check other websites.

- Decide it's high time for another blog.

- Write incredibly long post. Wonder how to make it longer without people quitting halfway through. Figure they probably already quit. Cry.

Phew. And that brings us to now. I suppose unless I put a DVD in my computer, I haven't much else to keep me occupied, so I should go work on the novel. I really do want to finish this book. room does need to be cleaned...

Update: Since finishing this blog, I went and returned my redbox DVD (Nine, don't see it, I didn't even finish it), had dinner, and now I'm watching Golden Girls on my computer, playing Solitaire, and chatting with Phyllis. Clearly I don't have nearly enough time to work on my novel. AND I have four blisters on my right foot from my walk, including one that is bulging out of the top of my little toe and may possibly be a miniature pod person who is going to pop out and eat my brain. Or clean my house.

Update #2: I was talking with Phyllis and said this: "I just had a panic attack cuz my phone vibrated but i couldn't find it and i threw my blanket and shook it out and looked in the couch cushions and it was on the kitchen counter." Phyllis told me that she giggled more picturing me doing that than finding my box of mac n cheese on the couch. This led me to wonder if I'm funnier when I don't mean to be, or if Phyllis is just twisted and easily entertained. Probably a little of both.

Update #3: Apparently I update a lot when I don't have TV. I really need a life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The technology monster

Technology is great. Don't you think? I mean, we save so much time with technology. Everything is automated, so we don't have to talk to real people unless we really want to. Cooking is a breeze as long as you are good at pushing buttons. Even cars are getting to the point where you can start them with just the push of a button. Because turning that darn key can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, ya know. It's hard work. And we already work hard enough, right?

So what happens when good technology goes bad? I used to use my phone as an alarm clock. I did for years up until just a couple weeks ago. See, sometimes my "phone" (I use that term loosely, since making calls is only a minor feature on phones these days) decides it's too tired to actually make noise when it goes off. Oh, it still vibrates, but if you have two fans running and the window open then the blinds clicking in the wind, vibration doesn't really stand out as a "wake you up" sort of sound. Of course, it chose to play this game on a day when I actually had to be at the office at a specific time for supervision. I woke up 30 minutes before I was supposed to be at work, and it takes me 15 minutes to get there. I rushed around my apartment, leaving a trail of destruction in my path. (Where is the technology that gets you ready for the day while you're eating breakfast??) I finally reached the office, only five minutes late, and once again my power locks on my car refused to work. And it's not like I can just leave three doors locked and lock the driver's door manually. This "convenient" feature unlocks all the car doors when the car is put in park. Yeah...not so convenient when you have to contort yourself into weird positions to lock all the doors or run around the car and lock them individually. Not cool, dude. Of course, I couldn't call my supervisor to tell her I was running late, because my "smart phone" decided to boycott that silly "making a call" feature and I didn't have time to sit and wait for it to restart.

Sometimes it seems like technology causes more problems than it fixes. Seriously. Yet we have become so dependent on it, we can't imagine doing some of those things for ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I lusted after a dishwasher for two years, and I am completely infatuated with the one I have now. I hate washing dishes. I would never want to go back to washing clothes by hand. I enjoy being able to check my email and facebook on my phone as I'm sitting in random parking lots between therapy sessions. I think the internet is fabulous. I'm glad that medical procedures are a lot less invasive than they used to be. All this technology is grand.

But I also sometimes wonder what damage we're doing. Does so much time on computers make our eyesight worse? I have no idea, but it can't be good for it. There are all sorts of "stimulating" and "educational" shows out there for kids. But doesn't that just keep them from using their own creativity and imagination? No wonder we have so many kids diagnosed with ADHD. They need the constant stimulation they're used to in order to keep their focus. Sometimes I think we're headed in a very scary direction.

Okay, that got a little serious. I could go on, but I won't, since most of you reading this probably have ADHD as well and would rather see something sparkly.

Ooo, pretty.

In conclusion, technology good. But sometimes technology bad. The end.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Further proof that I am, in fact, crazy

I find it amazing that people put up with me sometimes. I can be as cool as a cucumber, or as hyperactive as a kid on Christmas morning who got up early and ate all the candy out of her stocking and drank Red Bull and syrup before jumping on her parents' bed to announce the arrival of morning and opening presents time.

Case in point. I had this conversation with Phyllis tonight:

*Note: Capitalization and punctuation are rare in our conversations. As are correct spellings.*

andrea: I hear clanging and one of the cats is missing. . .that can't be good

me: oh dear i bet you now have a zombie ca t

andrea: I'm sure that is what's happening better make sure I am not a zombie when I get to work in the morning

me: he probably got bitten by the rabid unicorn

andrea: Oh I hope they didn't get of their cage, I was trying to keep him contained until he got better

me: well tell the elves to mind the locks or you'll replace them with ogres. who will eat them

andrea: that seems a little harsh don't you think

me: it'll make sure they're doing their job

andrea: I know but I try to avoid threatening death on a first warning. . .one of the elves is Dobie's cousin and he's a little jumpy sometimes

me: oh dear. well the ogres won't really eat them, they're vegetarians

andrea: good to know

me: yeah, so dobby's cousin will be okay, no worries. unless the unicorn bites him. zombie elves are nothing to mess around with

andrea: it's true we can't have that

me: sometimes they shoot rainbows out of their eyes

andrea: why would they shoot rainbows out of their eyes. that seems rude

me: i told you you don't want to mess around with them

andrea: so how exactly did I end up with one in the basement

me: well you don't have one yet unless the rabid unicorn bit him. sheesh, keep up

andrea: wait a minute who shoots rainbows out of their eyes, the unicorn or the zombie elves

me: the zombie elves

andrea: Oh I thought you were talking about unicorns

me: no unicorns are great unless they are rabid, then they turn any mythical creature they bite into a zombie

andrea: so can the mythical creatures turn non mythical creatures into zombies or should I just let them play in the basement

me: no, if they bite you, you will fall into an enchanted sleep until the zombie prince kisses you and then he will turn back into a normal prince

andrea: and where per se is this zombie prince. . .in case I need him of course

me: probably roaming around going "mauuggghhhpppphhhlleett" or something like that. you can have the elves send for him by pterodactyl mail. or just use your cell phone

andrea: I can't believe I am having this conversation. . .do you have the princes phone number

me: no, but once you fall into the enchanted sleep, you will speak it in your sleep, so you better make sure at least one of your elves is not a zombie elf because zombie elves are terrible at using the phone and the pterodactyls don't like them

*Insert random conversation about Star Trek here, because we are just that cool, and I want to have a holodeck installed. Maybe where the dishwasher is.*

andrea: oh okay just wondering anyway continue with zombie elves and princes and unicorns

me: what else do you want to know? i am very knowledgable

andrea: I don't know but I am thinking i need to check the basement before I go to sleep tonigth

me: oh you don't want to do that right now they might not even know you're there but if you show yourself to them, they might lurk while you're sleeping. nothing worse that lurking zombie elves

andrea: speaking from personal experience or what

me: no i don't have a basement

andrea: I meant about you showing yourself and them lurking in your apartment

me: oh they don't lurk here they know better

andrea: so you have had personal experience with them

me: which they'll not soon forget

andrea: I bet you went all ninja on their asses didn't you

me: i cannot reveal my secrets. however i am nodding sagely. just picture it in your head

andrea: most of the time when I picture things you tell me to I just giggle

me: that's why i added the word "sagely." "wisely" would work as well. otherwise you would just picture me as a bobble head, and ninjas never look like bobble heads

andrea: okay even with wisely thrown in there i am still giggling

me: so let me get this straight you are sitting in your 12:40 am. giggling to yourself. the zombies are sooo gonna get you

andrea: eh well didn't really want to go to work tomorrow anyway

me: oh they'll make you go to work. they will just be controlling you from your basement. they'll probably make you jump up and do the macarena and the YMCA. probably every 10 minutes

andrea: oh you think so huh. maybe they will make me stare at you all day and scream bazinga in your ear every 10 minutes

me: well i know they will be watching me. waiting for me to make a mistake. i won't

andrea: tomorrow's looking to be an interesting day at this point

me: oh goody! I'VE GOT IT!

andrea: you've got what

me: if we don't have anyone to staff, I will use team meeting time to teach you all how to defend against zombies and protect your unicorns from rabies!

andrea: oooooh maaaaaan I miss all the fun stuff

Soooo. Yeah. Uhhhmmm...ahem...

Why on earth do I post these things? Seriously.

Andre...uhh....Phyllis gets like ten million points for not only putting up with me but playing along. Seriously. That's friendship right there. Or maybe she's just as crazy as me. I'm leaning toward that one.

If it makes anyone feel better, we do occassionaly have serious conversations. But mostly they're like this one. Now EVERYONE is going to want to chat with us. And who can blame them, really?

It's late. My bed calls. And I'm sure I'll regret this in the morning...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Like slipping on a banana peel

My toe hurts. The little one. Yesterday it hurt so bad I was convinced it was broken. Why, you ask? Well, as I was stepping through the doorway to my apartment building after work yesterday, hands full of crap, as usual, the mat, usually meant to keep people from slipping, slid right across the floor, my foot right along with it. This started the inevitable house of cards collapse, with the house of cards being me in this case, of course. I went down hard, phones flying, foot twisting, knee skinning. I'm also pretty sure it happened in slow motion, as my falls tend to do. I lay in shock on the floor for a few seconds, then quickly (well, as quickly as possible) got to my feet and limped up the stairs to my apartment. Thank goodness no one saw...I don't think... (unless of course it was a setup and someone cleaned the floor with Pledge so the mat would slip and catch the first schmuck unlucky enough to step on it and it was caught on video, to be shown on a hidden camera show at a later date and time...but that's just the paranoid version)

Really I think it was a cosmic sign that I should write a blog that I have been planning to write for a long time. One based entirely on the embarrassing moments that we all cringe to think about, but yet are essential to the health of our humor. I have been sitting here all night giggling to myself (not as crazy as it sounds) as I wrote some of this post in my head, as more and more moments of potential embarrassment flitted through my memory. I'm glad that my tolerance for embarrassment is fairly high, because I have realized that I fall down a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Seriously. Just a few examples...

- Freshman year of college. I had a night class, Spanish, in the Humanities building with my roommate, Kaija. It was on the third floor. After class one night, I was at the head of the heard descending the stairs when I took a misstep and stumbled down the last couple of steps to the landing below. I ended up on all fours, with my hair surrounding my face. Kaija was at my side in an instant, concerned because I was shaking, and she thought I was crying. Nope. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe or sit up. Still makes me giggle.

- Freshman year, terrible ice storm. Walking with two other girls to the Madsen Center, holding on to each other for support. I slipped, taking one of the girls down with me. The other one let go to save herself. Smart girl. My butt was sore for days.

- Graduation day from Augustana. Lunch at the Ground Round. My family was already gathered on the upper seating platform. Three measley steps. And I fell up them. In slow motion. My brother still rolls on the floor laughing when reliving this story.

- Orchard Place. Before the upstairs waiting room was used. Carrying a load of junk up, my toe catches and I, once again, fall up the stairs. Of course, the usually empty room had at least five people there to witness my tumble.

- Yankton, SD. Playing at a park before a friend's wedding, taking pictures. I step in a hole and go down. Yet another time my falling is described as being in slow motion. Kristen made me reenact it for picture-taking purposes.

So yes. I fall a lot. And I love it. It makes for such good stories! The above ones are only the ones I can remember right now. I'm sure there are many many more. Embarrassing moments build character. I think we need to be able to laugh at ourselves, to not take everything so seriously. Not all my embarrassing moments involve falling. There was the time I got stuck in the car wash, or getting stuck between glass doors at a friend's apartment. Being forced to role play in staffing, or any of the random idiotic things I tend to say on a daily basis. I love it.

What are you most embarrassing moments? Do you mind if I laugh at (with) you? I showed you show me yours! ;)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

There's no place like home...or home...or home...

"Where are you from?" Other than, "What's your name." this is probably the most common question people ask when they first meet someone. And it's a question I have always dreaded. Because I think waaay too much, I always go into a tailspin when I know this question is coming. Do I tell them where I was born? Where I lived the longest? Where I graduated high school? The last place I lived? Where my parents live? Or any of the others in between? "It's complicated," I usually reply with a smile. "Right now, I'm from here." Growing up with a pastor for a father, there wasn't much time to put down roots. In my life, I have lived in 7 different towns (plus a couple random summers elsewhere) in four different states. I attended four schools K-12. It was always strange to me that people had lived in one place for their entire lives. That they had known the people they went to school with since preschool. That they had family living in their town.

I was talking with my dad the other day, and he brought up a good point. When we moved from the midwest to New York, it was a turning point for our family. It really forced us to rely on each other, to become our own little solid unit, because we were a good 24 hours from the familiarity of Minnesota. Even though I was young, I think this was the time that I really solidified my idea of "home" as being wherever my family was, rather than a childhood house. When my friends say they are going "home," they typically mean to the house in which they spent most of their early lives. When a lot of people picture "home," they see a house, an old bedroom, the creaky swing on the porch. I see the faces of my family, and now my friends.

I was thinking about this as I drove home from visiting my dear friend Kristen in the cities this weekend. Yes, I was driving home...home to my apartment, where I sleep most nights, where I keep my things...but I was also leaving home, because Kristen is home to me. I am as comfortable at her house as my own, even as where she has lived has changed, because she hasn't changed. My sister's house is home. I am there frequently, and know my way around her kitchen almost as well as my own (sometimes better). My parent's house is home. They have moved out of the town where I graduated high school, but they are home to me, no matter where they live. My brother's house is home. I have homes in Denver and Kansas City, in Indianpolis and Minneapolis. And many other places. As long as I'm with those I love, I am home.

I used to think I couldn't leave this place, that I had to live near my family forever. And maybe I will. I don't know. But if I don't, I know I will always be connected with them in ways that distance cannot touch. And they will always be my home.

(It's okay to cry. Phyllis.)