Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Unsolicited advice

Jon and I have been in a long distance relationship of the dating variety since December of 2007, and ever since we declared ourselves to be 'dating,' I've often found myself the receiver of a laundry list of advice. I've been told that my relationship is doomed for so many reasons, from the fact that we started out long distance (people magically ignore that we were friends for TWO YEARS before that) to the fact that he is my first boyfriend. I've been told that my relationship is doomed because of my behavior or because we struggle to agree to disagree.

I'm fed up. YES, I do tend to talk about my problems with Jon, but what relationship doesn't have flaws? You know WHY I talk about our issues, even when we are doing really well, having hit a groove I think most couples don't? Because of the damn naysayers. All the people who say we are doomed constantly push me to look at my relationship, to hold up all of the bad parts and go 'is this worth it?' and then I get told the same thing I was told before, forcing me to go back and go 'oh, hey, THIS is a problem, too.' This causes no end of stress for Jon and me, as I can suddenly lash out at him over something that was insignificant until, suddenly, it wasn't.

I'm getting better at letting these things roll off my back, at ignoring them or telling the person that is trying to impart their 'wisdom' on me that I'd rather not hear it, that I've heard this before, this is old news compadre. Some people are better at hearing this than others. I'm tempted to print up business cards, only something snarky, a reverse business card, to give to people when they do this:

"Hi! I don't need to put my name here, because, you know what, I'M JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! I feel an irrepressible urge to share my opinion with you, even if I don't know you that well! Don't want to hear it? TOO BAD! I have to tell you that you can't ever behave in selfish or immature manner, that YOU are a bad person for ever being mean to your significant other, that S/HE would not act a certain way if you didn't prompt the behavior. PS you are not a saint, and the only way to have a successful long term relationship is to date as many people as possible before settling down."

Too wordy?

The funny thing is that most people are supportive. People who weren't when they first got to know me are, because, if nothing else, they've seen how I get around Jon, how I relax. But I'm really tired of the unsolicited advice, especially the insistence that my relationship is 'doomed' because it is my first, because I'm having to learn some of this stuff as I go. It is so frustrating to have people tell me that I am going to fail, because 'so many' before me have failed. Not everyone fails, but I imagine that those that do aren't helped by their 'helpful' friends and their advice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

So, excited?

Freshman orientation started today at OU, which meant that I got to go sit in MemAud and happily sell a few dozen copies of the 'required' freshman English class reader, Cion. It actually went disturbingly well, especially compared to last year. Sure, it was the first day, but a girl can hope that THAT is the way things are supposed to go, right? With a wonderful lack of complaining about having to buy a book (AS IF COLLEGE IS ABOUT NOT BUYING BOOKS) or countless people INSISTING that their child tested out of Freshman English, which is a class almost no-one tests out of. Administrators can count on ONE HAND the amount of students who pass the test every year.

I wish I was joking.

The problem with orientation is that it serves as an ugly reminder that classes start soon. Of course, soon appears to be seven weeks away from tomorrow, if I am counting right. That seems really far away, but I know it will past like a dream. The little voice in my head is already starting the nagging, the quiet muttering about all the things I need to do, like review Chinese and buy notebooks and get that pink slip that I've been putting off getting and... the list goes on. The list gets particularly nasty when it gets late. My brain refuses to shut down and I lay there, curling into a ball, wishing I could look forward to next quarter without all the worrying I am living through. The 'what-if's have left me alternating between crashing hard and staying up until the wee hours, a cruel insomnia that has left me in love with streaming video on the internet. I watched the first season of Dexter a few weeks ago. At two am. Oddly, my dreams revolved around arguments, babies and cars, none of which has to do with Dexter.

It's almost amusing to see all of these people in Athens, after so many weeks of quiet. They all seem to be filled with this nervous buzz, this mixture of excitement and nerves. It's hard for me to not grab them by the shoulders, shake them and say, repeatedly, 'DO NOT TAKE 20 HOURS YOUR FIRST QUARTER!!!'

The voice of experience is always trust worthy when coming from a young blonde who is screaming in your face, right?

My nerves aren't helped by the state's current financial situation. We finally passed our budget, but they got rid of the tuition freeze (I'm expecting to hand over an additional $100 a quarter as soon as Winter Quarter), razed the Ohio College Opportunity Grant ($2496 turned into $1080 or something along those lines, and limited what institutions received that money), and... reinstated the Ohio Academic Scholarship, a scholarship I received when I graduated high school. It lost some money, but not a lot(all info I used here was taken from the Board of Regents site). But OU isn't listing the OAS until they get a formal letter from the state telling it that the OAS is being given out to students again. I had a VERY FUN TIME at the fin aid office finding this out today.

Like pretty much every other office on campus, OU's fin aid office has some student employees that they have working the front desks. This drives me INSANE, because these students are often stumped by my questions, and I'm not quite blunt enough to insist that I'd rather wait for a non-student to answer my questions. Today, I had to explain what I was asking about multiple times, explaining no less than THREE times that the OAS was a scholarship, not a grant, and NO, I was NOT talking about the OCOG. The girl had no idea what I was talking about, at all, and after about five minutes, a higher up came over and explained why the OAS wasn't on my fin aid letter. Basically, I just get to sit and wait and hope that Ohio gets those letters out before mid-August, when fall's first payment is due. If it had taken any longer for someone who actually knew what I was talking about to walk over and explain this, I probably would have ended up storming through the office, harassing people until I found someone who could answer my damn questions.

All of this has me wondering, how can anyone be excited about classes starting back up? My only saving grace right now is that I am very, very likely to be switching my degree program (or adding a third major - what's a little more insanity?) into an area that I find myself increasingly passionate about, which you'll hear all about once I've gotten everything worked out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


1. I have eaten almost half a cream cheese pound cake in the past two days. It was a little eggy fresh out of the oven, but once it had time to cool? Delicious. The recipe is here, and I am in love with it because it is, A, six ingredients, B, disgustingly easy, and, C, really pretty. It is rich and golden on the outside, and dense and creamy on the inside.

2. Gloves. I have had some yarn since my birthday that I planned to use to make a pair of elbow-length gloves. I am in love with this pattern and really looking forward to unleashing my knitting skills on it.

3. I bought my tickets for the Ohio state fair yesterday. I'm taking a friend who has never been, as her birthday present. Hope she likes livestock as much as me! Also, my mom is in the Fine Arts exhibit, so I'm looking forward to that. She can be a bit of a creative genius.

4. I also picked up an Orchid. No idea how to take care of it, but I have one now. It's pretty.

5. It's rainy and dreary and once again not looking like it is a summer month. Also, it is about six weeks until school starts again. Hold me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A wedding, a zombie after party, and an argument over the word 'bewildered'

One of my dearest friends, who now goes by Dr. Wife, got married last Friday. Dr. Wife got me through Chinese, and kindly reminded me that it is nearly impossible to fail that class after a near-epic failure of a final oral presentation. She's also amazingly funny, charming, and the type of person that you want around because she just manages to make things more fun.

Did I mention she and her husband decided that a post-wedding zombie party was the perfect way to celebrate?

The wedding was a little over a half-hour away from Jon's apartment, so we left with about 45 minutes until it was supposed to start. We had directions, we our zombie gear, we had everything we needed. What we didn't have, charmingly enough, was the knowledge that I-80 just off of I-76 is currently being repaired. Neither did any of the other drivers on the road, including the 12 billion semis in front of us. The best part was that, over a mile away from the construction, traffic stopped. Dead. Completely. Oh, it inched forward, creeping along at a snail's pace, but I only had eyes for my dashboard clock. Eventually, the brake lights disappeared and traffic crept through the construction, resuming 'legal' speed with Jon and I assuming our hawk-eye positions the second the bright orange 'END CONSTRUCTION' sign came into view.

We got there literally seconds before the bridesmaids were supposed to start entering the chapel.

The service was beautiful. The bride was spectacular - when Jon and I rushed in, I stopped, dumb-founded to find my friend so gussied up and, honestly, drop-dead gorgeous. I'd never been to a wedding before, so I found myself wondering if I was supposed to say 'amen' or something else every time the moment came to say something. Fish out of water, my half-Jew self was.

We were supposed to party immediately following the nuptials, but ended up getting rained out. You can't have a proper zombie bash indoors, you know. At least, it is very expensive to have a zombie party indoors. All the smashed glass and blood really does a number on your homeowners insurance. So we made plans for the next day and eventually parted ways. For most of us, it was the first time we'd spent time together in a month or longer, so there was no rush to return back to our hotels and apartments.

The next day was significantly more successful, at least, the zombie party was. Once we got there. Jon maintains that we got 'slightly bewildered for a while' while I maintain that we got 'lost.' There was a detour with no follow up signs and it took us a little while to realize that the exit we needed was probably on the other side of the highway, and if we got back on it, we might manage to make it to the zombie party before the big next day reception. We did, albeit with a certain amount of... tension in the car. But we got there!

I ended up being a zombie farm girl, while Jon went with Billy Mays. Taste? What is this taste of which you speak? One of Dr. Wife's bridesmaids was Paula Abdul's career, and Dr. Wife's husband was Heath Ledger. Taste is for other people.

The rest of the day went beyond well. There was food and booze and games, the kind that you actually want to play (a card game called Fluxx was played a few times). I did not want the weekend to end, and am looking forward to the next big celebration that draws my friends together. There's something magical about weddings, something I'd have to be a much better writer to capture. So, I leave you with a video:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Do the loopy dance for me

I'm packing up for a wedding, which has so far consisted of gathering things into piles and leaving them there, waiting for me to haphazardly stuff them into my bag. This isn't much different from my usual packing method, except I'm fitting in some make-up and shoes and wondering what I'm forgetting.

This will be the first wedding I have attended since I was a toddler, so I'm not sure what to expect. All I know is that it is going to be short and there is going to be a post-reception party that I will detail when I have the gory pictures to accompany the story.

Speaking of gory pictures:


Oh, and we can now cross the second item off my list, that ol' pesky learn to drive stick shift, thanks to my co-worker Bryan, who happily volunteered to teach me this summer when I first brought up the desire to learn last spring.

In this photo, I am going about 15 mph, because we were on a gravel road. I only stalled out two or three times (not counting when I tried to pull into his driveway), and got better with each try at the stopping/starting/shifting things you have to learn. According to Jon, Miata clutch's are some of the more difficult ones, so the fact that I didn't have that much trouble with it shows both, A, how much I have improved as a driver, and, B, how good of a teacher I had. It's all about the see-saw I have learned, and I don't plan to forget that any time soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Feast your eyes, box your ears

I've not been having the best few days, so I decided some pictures were in order. I love photos of fireworks, more than I can even begin to describe. They just make my heart swell with joy and anticipation, like the build-up before your favorite band takes the stage.

This was one of the first photos to really POP OUT at me and scream 'pay attention.' It reminds me of tinsel and christmas lights, without the feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach when you remember you have to take it all down in a few weeks.

Butterflies. Does anyone else see them? Or is it just me?

This makes me think of summer and deep sea creatures at the same time; the green at the top of the photo MUST be a light up antennae meant to attract a hapless fish. The lights at the bottom MUST be a wild strip of rides on the boardwalk. Although the boardwalk rides were often more colorful, they just make me think of boardwalk rides, and the pure joy of reaching the top of a ferris wheel, only to come plunging back to earth.

A dancer is there, surrounded by lights; the start and end of a dramatic scene - her lover has left her, and she is about to sprout the wings she needs. The shape of her head just says 'surprise and hurt,' doesn't it?

An animal, rows of wicked teeth, a fierce tail with a dangerous stinger. Its body weight should not be supported by its few delicate legs, but, like the bumblebee that shouldn't be able to fly, it walks. He seems lonely, up there in the sky, all by himself.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Marshmallows made from scratch? Check!

Making marshmallows from scratch was an extremely recent urge that I developed; I've wanted to make jelly and can for several years, but that just isn't as sexy, as quickly giftable as a batch of marshmallows seemed. But my mom sent me to Twig and Thistle's DIY peeps guide, which led me to Alton Brown's marshmallow recipe. It seemed both scary and perfectly easy, because I have an intense fear of boiling sugar.

I made the mallows last night, and found out that they are easy. The biggest problem I ran into was when I had to boil the sugar-corn syrup mixture, and my candy thermometer froze up at the 200˚F mark, when I needed it to last until the 240˚ mark. Turns out there's a test for that, and I'll try it next time.

The best thing about them is when they are first done and still marshmallow fluff, which is AMAZING. I dipped Oreos in the goo and wished that there was a way to keep them that way. They solidified far quicker than I expected them to, as I found out when I went to dip yet another cookie in the fluff for mom to try and it got stuck instead. They had been solidifying for about half an hour.

It was painfully easy and something I would do again. Everyone should try their hand at making these. It's easier than canning, and something fun to share with others. I'll be playing around with these more and will post a review to the recipe when I've made them a few more times. I'd like to see if I can make marshmallow rope, chocolate marshmallows, and oreo filled marshmallows.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mighty Summer List

I'm an avid blog reader, something a lot of my close friends and family know, but not many other people do. It's an awkward thing to admit, as a hobby, this blog reading thing. Do you know how many people act as if a crack addiction would be a more acceptable thing to do? They ask, "What do you do in your spare time?" And I cheerfully reply, "Oh I use Twitter and I blog and I read a few blogs."

Peoples' eyes glaze over as if I have whipped out a stack of photos showing happy shots of me and my boyfriend, or they act as if it is something DIRTY. How DARE I admit that I waste my time on something on the internet that isn't FACEBOOK?

But I do, oh, how I do. I love you, internet, and the more time I spend on it, I wonder how so many of my peers can be the INTERNET GENERATION and yet be so oblivious to the awesome that is the internet.

Which brings me to Maggie Mason and her Mighty Life List, which she started posting in March of 2008. Mighty Girl is one of my favorite sites to check regularly, and I often wish that I was living in San Francisco, which is something I generally wish for anyway. I imagine it is like Athens, only with access to SUSHI outside of the local Kroger's, and that whole California thing.

Maggie recently announced that Intel is sponsoring her life list. You can check out her site to see what she has done so far and what-not.

When I first saw Maggie's completed list, I was both jealous and intimidated. It seems impossible to dream that big, to think of things as wild and seemingly impossible as going to Puerto Rico to swim with bioluminescent plankton and then going out there and doing it. I can barely imagine the next three years following the basic 'get an education and then find employment' path. To be completely honest, the sheer cost of some of the things on her list freaked me out too. I can't even begin to imagine being at a point in my life where I can put 'Go to London to see the Broad Street water pump' on my list and knowing that I can actually DO IT when I do(it's a weird personal goal, I know, but it's mine). It is so much easier to stand still and wait for life to happen to you, for everything that you mean to do to just suddenly fall into place and be that perfect summer movie fantasy, you know?

Like a sack of bricks, the realization hit me that I needed to stop waiting and just GO AND DO. So what does it matter that I can't afford to go to London right this minute? That doesn't mean I have to sit around and do absolutely nothing. I started my Summer Mighty List that night and hope to start crossing things off this week. It's not too elaborate, because the goal is to have a good summer, to do all the things I always mean to do but end up pushing aside for something more mundane and easy, like watching a SpongeBob rerun.

So, in no particular order, I present to you, my Mighty Summer List:

1. Go to the Columbus Zoo
2. Learn to drive stick shift
3. Daytrip out of state (Pittsburgh is the goal)
4. Make a skirt/learn to sew
5. Make marshmallows from scratch
6. Go hiking
7. Go camping
8. Learn to play a song on my guitar
9. Actually go to the attractions in Cleveland
10. Make my room a happy living space
11. A grand loving gesture
12. Try the fruits I thought were gross or weird when I was younger
13. Catch fireflies with my brother
14. Sparklers with my brother(s)
15. Bubbles and sparklers at sunset with Jon
16. Visit my sister in Cincinnati and check out the city
17. Volunteer
18. Swim at the lake
19. Get in/on a boat
20. Go to the state fair

Some of these are a little more abstract, some are amazingly easy SEEMING, but I'm hoping to do all of them. If I come up with anything to add, you'll know.

What're some of your goals for the summer?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm a sister, not a saint

A brief snapshot of what will (hopefully) be beefed out into a decent little post on the No Doubt concert I saw at the beginning of the week:

I took my youngest brother, Iz, with me to see the band, as he has an undying love of the band and Gwen Stefani in general; I introduced him to their music in 2003, during the long drive to Tennessee for my great-grandfather's funeral, if I'm remembering correctly. He still loves their albums, six years later.

We missed Paramore, thanks to the long line of traffic and lack of police directing said traffic until a quarter mile away from the venue. We DID arrive with plenty of time to spare before ND took the stage, and we headed towards the lawn, working our way through the clusters of people. Many 'excuse me's and 'sorry, but he's not even five feet tall's later, we had a decent spot.

He loved it. LOVED it.

The best part was when they performed 'Running,' and I wrapped my arms around him, savoring the fact that he's still young enough to let me hug him in public. He leaned back and yelled, "Thank you so much for bringing me! I love you!!!"

It made up for the amount of times I had to yell at him to calm down or leave Jon's roommate alone in the day leading up to the concert. Made up for when he wouldn't just leave Jon's damn Nerf gun alone, no matter how many ways I threatened him (there are a variety of creative threats at your disposal when you are 3 hours away from home and still in possession of the kid's ticket, including leaving him at the apartment and selling the ticket to the first person I saw).

I'm a sister, not a saint, and I do my best to be a good sister. Sometimes I fail, but he always forgives me.