Monday, October 31, 2011

October comes to a close

Happy Halloween!  I watched Paranormal Activity 2 last night.  I liked how it was integrated with the first movie.

Tonight is/was trick or treating (wrote this before October 31st and setting it to post).  Julia's ecstatic about Halloween this year.  If her holiday enthusiasm continues, I'm sure her enthusiasm for Christmas will be HUGE!

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.  I will try to do what I can, it would be great if I could actually complete it.  Or come close to completing it.

Sorry I've been so absent lately. My mind has been other places, and I haven't had any time to free form that much.  I hope to continue to post through November despite 5k training and NaNoWriMo, but it may be just short thoughts.

Hope you got lots of TREATS and no TRICKS tonight! ;-) 

Monday, October 24, 2011

From the voter pamphlet

The soul patch caught my eye initially, and then it just got better and better.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


It's difficult to know your own speech habits until someone else points them out.  When I was a teenager, a couple people pointed out that I said "awesome" an excessive amount (as in, a couple of times per hour).  I conscientiously tried to stop using it as much.  Some days, even now, I catch myself using it a few times per day.  Because I'm more aware of it, I tend to watch myself more.

My dad had this speech habit where he started sentences with "Hey...." quite a bit. They tended to be questions.

"Hey...want a piece of pie?"
" it raining?"
"Hey...what are you doing?"

Often times it just trailed off and he never finished the thought.  He got in the "Hey" loop.  "Hey...."  I turn to him and give him my attention. "Hey...." he says again.  

That was annoying when he went in the neverending "Hey" loop.  Then I started saying, "Hey what?" back to him.

After he got sick with multiple sclerosis (it was unclear when the disease actually began because of his poor lifestyle), forming sentences became even more difficult for him.  So it was a LOT of "Hey..."  "Hey...." because when you actually say it, "Hey..." doesn't take a whole lot of vocal talent.  He struggled with getting every other word out.

A few months ago this little girl I live with started saying, "Hey..."

"Hey...where'd my bear go?"
"Hey guys, come here."
Even better is the "Hey....Hey....Hey...."  loop.

To my knowledge, I don't say "Hey" very much.  Maybe I do and don't know.  I don't think S says it either.  Most likely it's a kid at school who she is mimicking.  Because, really, "Hey..." 100 times a day can't actually be genetic, can it?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Looking ahead to November

November is going to be an interesting month.  On the 5th I'm doing a training on the other side of the state.  I will only have 2 weeks to prepare for giving a 4 hour training.  I'm a little nervous about preparing curriculum, but I think I can do it, even on the short timeline. 

S and I are doing a 5k on Thanksgiving.  I've done enough training for it (I think I've done the route 6-7x now) that I think I will actually follow through the day of.  My running is lackluster, particularly the last mile that is uphill (why is the last mile on a steep upward incline?). 

I think I'm doing NaNoWriMo.  I think I can ... I think.  Or at least I can make a dent in it. If I think of it as one gigantic blog entry with a plot and characters, maybe I'll be able to pull it off.  I actually have an idea, but it's a topic I'm not very familiar with.  So I may need to do some prep before starting.

If you combine giving the training, doing the 5k and the preceding training to do the 5k, plus NaNoWriMo, you get an atypical but interesting month. 

S just finished the tile job in the main bath upstairs.  We saved about $400 by him doing it, and he spent about 60 hours on it.  Don't do the math on it because it would be too depressing.  But it looks good. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home Lives

You really don't know what people's home lives are like unless you spend time with them at their home.  I'm sure there are people I know who are alcoholics, whether or not they admit it to themselves or not.  I'm sure there are people I know who are abused at home. I'm sure there are people I know who contemplate suicide on a regular basis. I'm sure there are people I know who are continually full of regret.  I'm sure there are people I know whose home lives would freak me out if I knew the truth.  On the other hand, I'm sure there are people I know who I would adore taking part in their home lives - I would appreciate the companionship, the camaraderie, the love. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Warning Bells

I blame my Catholic school first and second grade education for the early onset of my uncle paranoia.  Back in the mid-1980s, McGruff the crime dog was all the rage. There were two scenarios that were repeatedly pounded into us via McGruff. 1) Old men who ask for little girls’ help to look for lost dogs are deviant pedophiles who will rape and kill us. 2) Relatives, most notably uncles, are deviant pedophiles who will grope you while you sit in their laps.

You have to give McGruff credit for raising awareness. However, I feared being left alone with either of my two uncles for many years because, after all, uncles were always used as examples in the “people you think you should be able to trust but can’t” category. I guess using fathers and grandfathers would be too creepy and taboo, so uncles were the best examples.  It didn’t help that one of my second grade classmates was abducted for a short time by some dude in a navy blue cargo van (I don’t think she was harmed), so we got the McGruff lessons multiple times.  Of course, the McGruff 1984-1985 edition ignored that the fact that females could be molesters and that little boys could be targets for molestation, but I digress.

I was probably 13 or so before I was reassured that my uncles weren’t child molesters. For some reason, my paranoia around strangers wasn’t quite that high – probably because I wasn’t an inherently social and bubbly kid. I was reserved, and it simply seemed more likely that a deviant stranger would go for a more effervescent girl instead of quiet, suspicious me. Although that ended up not being true since the quiet ones are less likely to talk.  Again, I digress.

As boy-girl relations began, I didn’t have much fear for my personal safety. First of all, with few exceptions, I knew most of the guys I was hanging around really well. Second of all, I’m physically fairly strong and could hold my own with most guys. Third of all, I like to think I’m fairly good judge of character.  And remember those deviant uncles that I had been warned about ended up not being deviant.  So I became more relaxed about these things. A little too trusting, a little too naïve.

There was one guy I met on the bus to community college when I was 16. I honestly didn’t know him that well. Sure, I sat and talked with him for several weeks, but it wasn’t anything more than surface stuff. He was a bad boy, and that had a certain appeal. One day he invited me over to his house to show me his new video game. I had the time since I didn’t have work that day, and I was feeling fun and impulsive. Sure, I say. We make tentative plans, and I go about my day. I meet him at the prearranged spot, and we’re off to his house.

The first warning bells go off in my head as we’re going up the stairs to his house (the house was a split level, meaning that you either go up the stairs or down the stairs when you get in the front door. The front door is usually raised.  Split level houses were very popular in houses built in the 1970s and 1980s in Washington. See picture. The neighborhood was eerily quiet, and there was an ominous feeling that hit me all of a sudden. 

The second warning bells go off in my head when he leads me down the stairs to the basement. I let him get far ahead of me and I pause to hear any miscellaneous noise going on upstairs. I hear nothing. The stairs to the basement look dark. It looks dark in the basement itself. I reluctantly continue at a snail’s pace.

His bedroom was in the corner of the basement. I stood in his doorway, clutching the strap of my backpack with one hand and holding the wall outside his bedroom with the other hand. I watched him take off his coat. I had never seen him without his coat since it was winter quarter at school. He had on a white t-shirt and had really nice arms. A lot of muscles, and I realized how much bigger he was than me. He had at least 100 pounds on me, which were now the third warning bells in my head. After he took off his coat, he started to take off his boots. My gut reaction was that I had to get out of there. I was in an obviously secluded place alone with him, and he obviously had far more physical strength than I did. And he was 4 years older than me. I finally realized that he didn’t think we were here to play the new car racing video game. I sincerely wanted to race up those stairs and out of that house, but that really wasn’t the smoothest move in the world, and I knew he could probably catch me since I only had about 3 steps on him, he was faster, and he was more familiar with the house’s layout.

He stood up and looked at me finally. I didn’t know what he expected me to be doing, but he probably hadn’t anticipated me clinging to his doorframe practically hyperventilating. He was gorgeous in that rugged, bad boy way. But more than that, he wasn’t like a typical guy in my high school who was as nervous as I was. He was a man. It was a whole new ball game that was a little bit exciting and considerably scary.

I was looking to see what he would do. If he made any effort to come toward me, I decided that I was going to run. I knew I wouldn’t be successful against him; I didn’t think I could make it beyond the first few stairs. My next defense was going to be pleading.

He was probably looking at me to gauge what I was going to do. Other than me muttering, “Nice room,” or “cool poster,” I hadn’t said much.  Still clinging to the doorway. Still very apprehensive. Still way in over my head. As we make very awkward small talk for a few minutes, he started to move closer to me to show me something that was in his desk. I started to back up out of the room. Not that he had intruded on my personal space, but I had to retain my slight edge in getting to the stairs.

I think he finally understood when he saw back out of the room. We had an interesting non-verbal conversation for the next few minutes. He went to the farthest part of the room and sat on the floor, turning on the radio. My favorite overplayed (in Seattle) song started playing.

Then he simply sat there. And things became clear. He had been under a different impression about the intent of the visit, one that I had been too naïve to see.  When I did figure it out, it scared me and then I thought things would end badly. He became hurt that I would think that of him, and he was trying to tell me that he wasn’t going to do anything that I didn’t want. 

I edged closer to him slowly that afternoon as I got more comfortable.  After about half an hour, I finally got within a few feet of him and ended up sitting on the floor as well. We ended up not playing video games, but I did see his gaming system on the shelf. We just talked for a few hours. When I was leaving, he said, “You know, you’re different.” Different? From what? I didn’t ask for clarification, but I could figure it out. I was different from all the other girls who willingly went back to his house and the afternoon ended up … differently. Okay, I got it. 

I knew that things could have turned out very differently that day if he was a different type of person. I would claim that I thought I knew him well enough to see that he had a decent character. Really, though, I didn’t know him well enough to make that definite of an assessment and should have erred on the side of caution by not going with him, especially because it was a secluded place and he was so much stronger than me. It was a roulette game that day that I just happened to win on chance. However, after that day I did put him in the group of people I trusted. I just had to be more cognizant in the future to not put myself in that situation again.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I love when people post photos from their lives. I'm the type of person who inspects photos thoroughly and will notice that you have Sweet Valley High #14 on your book shelf in the background.  And try to restrain myself from commenting on that fact.  I'll just say those things to my husband, who thinks I would make an awesome private investigator or detective.  Then I'll never forget that you had Sweet Valley High #14 on your book shelf, and I'll constantly refer to you as the person who collects Sweet Valley High books when I talk about you to my husband.

(Why did he marry me?  Was it the charm of someone who uses a magnifying glass to look at pictures? I have no idea.  Perhaps the Kardashian sisters weren't of legal age yet.)

Someone was posting old photos.  It looked like of Grandma's house. Of course what caught my attention was the Blue Photo.  Grandma had a Blue house.  Medium blue carpeting, dark blue couches, dark blue curtains, a dark blue bookcase.  I'm not sure if the walls were a pale blue or if they were supposed to be white but instead reflecting all that blue.  Anyway, the walls looked pale blue.  I couldn't see a lick of non-blue except for the doors and staircase.  Grandma, Grandpa, and Girl were sitting on the blue couch.  They all had blue shirts on.

My first thought was this song:

My second thought was that I bet $100 that I knew what color Grandma's car was.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I've never understood courtship rituals that involve flowers.  To me flowers say, "I cut this thing that was growing happily in the ground to show you how much I like you, and now it's on a quick route to death as you look on."  I don't get it.  It had to be something that women came up with originally since it makes absolutely no sense to me.

It may not surprise you when I say that I haven't gotten a whole lot of flowers in my life from potential suitors.  Of those guys who were ever interested in me, there were two types.  First type  The first type knew me well as a friend, and they knew that I probably would look at them strangely if they gave me flowers. "Huh?" as I would hold the flowers uncomfortably and tried to restrain my sighing as I scoured the house for a stupid beautiful vase.  This actually never happened because these guys knew to not go that route.  Guys that knew me well knew that they would get a heckuva lot further with a candy bar.  As an added bonus, the candy bar was cheaper.  Second type  The second type liked me from afar and thought I was the stereotypical girl who would like them more if they gave me flowers, which is a complete fallacy.  See, I take the flowers as an insult to my intelligence, which actually works against their efforts.  I think I got 4 of these bouquets in my life from different guys with romantic intentions.  None of them really knew me that well because if they did know me at least a marginal amount, they would know that I'm just not the flower type.  (A handwritten card + candy bar) = (100 x bouquet of flowers with a transcribed message from a flower shop employee)

All that being said, I remember receiving my first bouquet of flowers.  Because I remember everything.  Even flowers.

I was 10 years old.  My mom was a single parent, and at the time we were living in California for about 3 months.  During those 3 months, we were living in the equivalent of a hotel suite.  My room was the living room.  Even my mom didn't get her own room. She got the open loft.  The living quarters sucked.  School sucked too. We moved to California in the middle of the school year (Feb - April), and the school administration thought I was a migrant kid, which meant they put me in the ESL class.  It took them a week to figure out I had a firmer grasp of English than the ESL teacher.  Then I got moved to the 4th/5th class (they had two grades in most of the classes, and I was supposed to be in 5th).  After a few weeks there, they thought I wasn't being challenged enough, and they moved me up to the 6th grade class.  So in a span of 3 months, I went from ESL -> 4th/5th split -> 6th.  I had originally started 5th grade in Texas, and after our stint in the middle of the school year in California, I ended up finishing 5th grade in Nevada.  Geez oh man, I was a freaking resilient kid after the most disjointed 5th grade ever. 

While we were in California, if things weren't already confusing enough, my mom got called for special training in Somewhere, America (I really can't remember where).  It could have been a pre-trip to Nevada for all I know.  The point is that she had to leave me for a week, and she didn't know what to do with me.  Someone she worked with (who she knew for a whopping month or two) was supposed to take care of me while she was gone.  At this point, I could only roll with it and hope my caretakers for that week weren't serial killers.

After living in the hotel, staying with my mom's work friend's family was heaven.  It was heaven for many reasons.  They had a daughter who was a junior or senior in high school. I seem to recall that they had older kids who didn't live with them. At the time, I just knew of the daughter, and she was a typical teen who was all angst-y and was gone or if she was home, she locked herself in her room.  These people had 2 Japanese exchange students living with them, so I learned some about Japanese culture from them that week.  I'd help them with English, they'd show me origami.  The mom and dad were really nice, but above all you could see that they liked kids.  I didn't feel like I was an annoyance; I felt like they wanted me there like they wanted the Japanese exchange students who they had volunteered to host in their home.  I remember that week and watching TV with them in the family room, the dad reading the paper and talking to us while the mom ironed clothes.  I'd be practicing origami and talking with the Japanese exchange students.  The parents were planning their St. Patrick's Day party at the time, of course with green beer and green food.  It was all so home-y, and I remember wanted being adopted by them.

The school spelling bee took place that March, and I had somehow won as a 5th grader even though the school went up to 6th grade.  I didn't even think I had a chance at it, and honestly I was just spelling the words they gave me & I think I just lucked out with easy words.  As you can see with my disjointed 5th grade, I couldn't have had any concerted effort to try to win because I had no idea what was happening even the next day.  One day at a time.  I had miraculously won, which stunned the principal.  The new ESL kid was somehow the school spelling bee champion.  Well, that meant I had to go to the next level - the district-wide spelling championship.  Oh yeah, and the district one included junior high, so it went up to 9th grade.  I was so screwed going into this, and I knew it.  But still, the principal was excited.

My mom, however, was not excited.  She was going out of town, and my spelling bee triumph screwed up my school schedule because the district-wide championship was later in the day.  I didn't have transportation there, and then she had to tell the substitute parents for that week that they had to pick me up at 5pm or whenever it would get done.  It was such a nuisance, according to her.  She told me that my substitute parents for the week couldn't cater to my schedule, and I would just have to figure out transportation if I wanted to go.

I asked my principal for a ride to the spelling bee.  I'm not sure if he was planning on going anyway, but he said yes.  My mom had told the substitute parents about my annoying schedule change, and they said they could pick me up.

The day before the annoying schedule change I tried to delicately remind them of the 5pm thing.  The dad said it would be no problem, but he didn't really know what I was doing.  I told him that I had won the school spelling bee and I had to go to the district level and they scheduled it after school and there's no way I can win because it goes all the way up to 9th grade and blah blah blah it's a huge inconvenience and I'm so sorry and blah blah blah.  He said it was no problem, he was just wondering.

The principal drives me there. He sticks around.  I'm intimidated by these 9th grade boys who are huge and have facial hair.  I'm just a tiny 5th grader.  People get whittled down in the first few waves of spelling words.  I'm looking at my principal for encouragement.  But someone catches my eye in the crowd.  It's my substitute dad for the week, and he's holding a bouquet of flowers.  He came to watch me in the spelling bee, not just pick me up at the end like my mom would have done.  I wave to him.  I wish I could say that I beat those hairy 9th grade boys, but I didn't.  I was in the final five - not too bad for a 5th grade ESL student.  I was bummed because I felt like I let down my principal and my substitute dad, but they both were so happy that I did so well.  My substitute dad for the week gave me the bouquet of flowers afterward, and I felt like a princess.  I don't think it was the flowers; I think it was that he cared enough about this girl he got stuck with for a week that he took time off work to see her in the district spelling bee.  And he acted like being there was a privilege for him, rather than a nuisance like my mom did.

I wonder if his angst-ridden teenage daughter knew just how awesome her dad was.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pour Some Sugar on Me

Trying to do an e-mail post from my phone with some Def Leppard footage.  It was from my phone so not the best in the world, but I wasn't going to take my nice camera to a rock concert. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011


It's October, my favorite month.  Fall is my favorite season.  Halloween is my favorite holiday (plus no family obligations).  Scary movies are on for the whole month. Walking on the crunchy leaves is so romantic. You need to wear a coat. Haunted houses with the boy you like are a-maaaaz-ing. The newness of the school year is still there.  Pumpkins. And, the best reason ever:

My husband lets me bring out the space heater!  I position it on my nightstand and revel in the steady hum and heat.  It really only heats my face.  The rest of my body is cold. The dichotomy makes shivers run down my back. I like the shivers; it's a fascinating sensation.  Eventually the space heater heats up the whole room sufficiently so that I feel completely warm, the shivers stop, and the whole experience seems immensely less gratifying.

I am enamored with sensory experiences. Smelling and hearing especially.  I have really good hearing. I can detect the way a Honda engine turns over. I know all the various noises our house makes and freak out if there's a subtle new noise that I can't identify. Husband likely can't hear it or doesn't think it's anything important.  Nope, there's some meaning behind the noise, and I need to figure out why that noise is going on. 

I love the smell of leather. I like going into Wilson Leather and smelling everything. However, that's new leather. New leather smells different than old leather. Worn-in leather has traces of body oils, perfumes, smoke occasionally, and holds the mysteries of the person who wears it.

I had a leather coat. As a coat, it sucked. The lining was satin, which isn't a warm fabric in my opinion. But I didn't buy it for its warming properties. I bought it because I wanted to smell it. To make it an actually useful coat, I think it should have a fleece lining. However, that probably goes against some law about not combining sheep and cows into one garment. My coat slowly became worn in, and it became a more comfortable smell that I ceased to notice as much. Until I started dating a guy who also had a worn-in leather jacket, and I realized that his jacket had a completely different smell than mine. It probably was because I had been around mine for so long that I smell-tuned-it-out. I loved smelling his jacket with traces of his cologne and smoke and him and dirt and that fluid they used in photography dark rooms. I was so fascinated by the coat that he offered to give it to me to wear. He obviously didn't understand that if I wore it, it would start to smell like me and lose the novelty. 

I would totally have a leather coat (even if it had an awful satin lining) right now if it weren't for the fact that it's socially unacceptable to own leather. I do support the cow cause since I don't eat beef. My reason for not having a leather coat isn't just that I fear PETA torching me.