Friday, April 18, 2014

Potpourri

If you had told me five years ago that I would be eating quinoa with avocado and calling it an acceptable lunch, I would have…. Well. I would have asked you what the hell quinoa was.

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Today I had the unexpected pleasure of learning how many people in my office pronounce it “vayse” and how many people pronounce it “vahse.” I’m in the vahse camp.

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In my continuing efforts to maintain my position as Favorite Aunt I have had my niece and nephew come and stay with me for overnights, separately, for Fun Times with Auntie. When my 9 year old niece came to stay I bought her a cupcake and a bag of cookies and took her to a movie (Muppets Most Wanted). Then in the morning we got donuts for breakfast and went to the flea market where she bought a bunch of little glass animal figurines (a girl after my own heart). And THEN we went to the trampoline park. When my 11 year old nephew came to visit I took him to a baseball game and then we went out to dinner at this kind of cheesey arcade gamey place (where, for about $40 worth of tickets, he got a pair of wind up chattery teeth). Then in the morning we got donuts for breakfast and went to the flea market where he bought a crossbow and a Samurai sword and a lighter and I think I just figured out why my sister said she doesn’t want me to take him to the flea market anymore.

Speaking of Muppets Most Wanted, how awesome was that A Chorus Line reference? I wonder how many people got it.

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Last Friday night I went out to see my friend Lisa perform in Foreverland, which was just spectacular. And this is going to sound like a backhanded compliment but I usually hate live music. If I’m going to a bar and I hear there will be live music, I’ll pick a new bar. I don’t go to shows because I get tired of standing and bored of watching music. But anyhow I USUALLY hate live music, but I LOVE Foreverland. Enough to have seen them FOUR TIMES. This last time was 80s night, so the boy and I got dressed up in our 80s finest. I bought him some 80s finest at the Salvation Army, but he gets full credit for making a trip to Old Navy for the sole purpose of purchasing a purple headband. And I wore… stuff I just had lying around, which basically justifies every impulse buy EVER. And I grew up watching my sisters do their hair so I knew how to attain some killer 80s bangs.
I’m pretty excited to have a boyfriend (BOYFRIEND) who will dress up with me.

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Ugh. I actually wrote this post yesterday when words like quinoa and donuts didn't make me feel queasy and then today I had to leave work after an hour and a half because I felt so sick. Waves of nausea and cold sweats and having to call a lyft to take me home since I couldn't drive. The worst part was that I was in the middle of seeing a patient and had to excuse myself, ask one of the docs to take over my appointment, and cancel the rest of my day. Every once in awhile I get annoying nonspecific symptoms and abdominal pain so bad that I cannot function and it's super embarrassing and inconvenient. Especially when I'm IN THE MIDST OF A WORKDAY. Ugh. I'm cranky.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shopping Trip

I knew traffic was going to be terrible so I stopped at Ross on my way home from work tonight. Oh darn.

Question: Do I need this extremely practical travel purse? Hear me out. I'm going on a trip to Ireland in May and I'm thinking maybe I do. I like that it has a shoulder strap and a zipper. My regular purse is of the over-one-shoulder variety and I'm thinking perhaps I'll need my hands free to hold my beer and pet the sheepies. Anyway I bought it. It was $40, which is a bit steep at Ross, but it's The Sak and seems to be leatherish and sturdy and I dunno I just like it. For traveling! See the handy passport pocket?
Quarter for scale
I also bought a dress for my sister. I had sent her an orangey-pink dress for her baby and she was really excited when she first pulled it out of the box, "Oooh, it's just my color! I lo- oh, wait." So anyhow I saw this dress today and I thought maybe she'd like it.
I also got her this little floofy sweatery thing.
Not to wear together, but knowing my sister she actually might. I usually don't buy clothes for people that they wouldn't be able to return, but my sister kind of lives in the middle of nowhere and I want to send her a dress. I realized that I like the picking out and sending enough to justify the fact that it might not work out every time. I'm sending my sister these things and maybe it'll fit and she'll love it, or maybe not. And if not she can give them away to somebody else or cut them up to make new playclothes for the Von Trapps or whatever.
Even if I bought her a dress from Macy's where they have a great return policy she still wouldn't be able to return it for months since she lives nowhere near a Macy's of any sort. The point is that I thought of her and sent her something I thought she'd like and that makes me feel good, so yay. (It's this logic that led me to buy my other sister a purple dress from Belk when I was in Carolina.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

dolla dolla bills y'all

I recently took my car in for its 245,000 mile service. It was a minor service, which cost me $62 last time. But this time I had a surprise need for new brakes. The mechanic called me “You need new brakes, is that okay?” Me: Um. YES. Yes please. BRAKES. Give me the newest brakes that you have. BRAKES ARE IMPORTANT.
Anyhow, my “minor” service now consisted of new brakes and fixing a valve to the tune of just over seven hundred bucks. Which, that was fine.  I cheerfully slapped down my credit card, because BRAKES. My 1997 Honda is still chugging along (I hope I didn’t just jinx her), but this unexpected major expense got me thinking about money and how I manage it, which, incidentally, is not very well.

I tend to go in cycles. For awhile I’ll put everything on my credit card and studiously pay if off every month. And then I’ll start feeling like that is a Bad Idea because technically I’m spending imaginary FUTURE money when I use my credit card which can be dangerous and spin out of control. So then I’ll start paying cash and using my debit card, but then an unexpected expense will pop up and I’ll start getting nervous about the payments I have on auto debit so I’ll ‘borrow’ some money from my savings to pad my checking account a little bit and then I’ll start putting a few things here and there on my credit card and then I’ll go fully back to credit carding but I never feel like I’m completely settled in a successful way of budgeting.

This just won’t do. As of today I am implementing a new system.

Setting aside lofty financial goals (retirement) and other expenses (student loans), I came up with a couple lists of things I have observed about myself. My financial strengths and weaknesses, if you will.

Things I cannot do:
1.       Save money in my checking account- Can’t do it. I don’t know where it all goes but it’s like my account is a leaky bathtub. If it the money’s in my checking account it won’t be there for long.
2.       Save money in my savings account if it is easy to get to- Transfer money to checking, you say? Don’t mind if I do! And then: leaky bathtub phenomenon.
3.       Trust myself to keep an accurate calculation of all of my spending- I have my student loan payments and a couple other expenses on auto debit and I’m forever nervous that I’ll spend too much from my checking account and end up being overdrawn.
4.       Accurately calculate- Because let’s be honest.
5.       Pay for everything with cash or debit- See items 4 and 5.

And, to make myself feel a smidgen better. Here are some things I CAN do:
1.       Maintain a small ‘buffer’ of money in my checking account- I do an embarrassing amount of math every month to MAKE SURE I have more money in my checking account than I have things it is slated to cover.
2.       Save money in a savings account that is difficult to get to- I do save money. I do!  It is safer if it is difficult to access (It is safEST if I don’t even know it is there. Which explains why I've put cash in milk bottles and squirrel them away in hiding places so that I eventually forget about them (or have I?)), so now I have an account that isn’t affiliated with the bank where my main checking account is and I also don’t have a card for it or mobile access on my phone. I have weekly automatic debits set up that transfer money from my checking account to my savings. To access that money I would have to transfer it BACK to my checking account and THEN use it. For some reason that extra step helps the money actually stay in the savings account and not get bathtubbed away.
3.       Pay off my credit cards on time and in full- My mom taught me to always always ALWAYS pay off my credit card ON TIME and IN FULL. Always. Thus far there has only been one instance wherein I did not do this. It was during the time in my life when my crazy ex was being a human suckerfish and siphoning away all of my money/energy/self-esteem and I was trying to keep my whole situation from unraveling completely so I got a tad behind on some things. I couldn’t QUITE pay off my credit card bill one month and so I had to let the balance sit there and the fees start accumulating until I was moving and starting school again and trying to get things back in some semblance of order. So I womanned up and …  uh. Asked my mommy for help. She looked over my bank statement and SIGHED AND SHOOK HER HEAD (if you knew my mom you’d understand that this is actually quite terrifying and an awful punishment in and of itself). Now I always pay off my credit cards on time and in full. Always.

Okay, so I know you are waiting on bated breath to hear about my NEW SYSTEM. Taking into account what I am able to do and what history has learned me that I am definitely unable to do, here is my new system:

1.       Pay for most things with my credit cards- and obviously pay off my credit cards on time and in full
2.       Maintain only a small buffer of money in my checking account to make sure I’m never overdrawn when my auto debits and other payments go through- any extra money in checking gets transferred into savings
3.       Always have enough money in savings to cover the amount of my credit card spending at the time it is credit carded

In that way it’s like I’m using my savings account as a SUB-checking account, if you will. Pay for stuff with my credit card, pay my credit card off with my checking account, but have enough money overall so that I’m not actually going into debt when I use my credit card.
I’ll keep only enough money in my checking account so as not to ever be overdrawn because any extra money in there will just disappear. So instead of keeping it there and fighting against its natural tendency to disappear, I’ll transfer any extra dollars to the external savings account.
Technically I suppose AM spending future money that I haven’t earned yet because I pay my credit card off with the money from my checking account which I earn each payday. But I DO have the money, it’s in savings, it exists. And if I needed to I could take it out and apply it to my credit card payment, but I'd rather keep it in savings and apply my new money from payday to my credit card. If this makes any sense at all.

I was talking about this with Sunny and she told me that she has a system of three accounts: checking, savings, and spending. On payday the money goes into her checking account. Then she transfers a certain amount into her spending account to, uh, spend. And then if there is leftover money at the end of the month in her checking or spending, it goes into savings. Maybe I should have talked to her first and I wouldn't have come up with my system of buffers and credit carding, but we all deal with our leaky bathtubs in different ways. What's yours?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Worky Clothes

So I was looking back through my archives and I noticed when I first started my job I wrote about the outfits I was wearing to work. I thought it might be fun to do that again now that I’ve been there, wait for it, TWO WHOLE YEARS. Two years! That’s some seriously legit employment. For me, anyway.

I don’t recall if I explained this at all but in order to hire me my workplace had to actually have me come on as an RN and then transition into the role of NP. My current position is still somewhat a combination of the two (but I have learned that the profession of nursing is so broad that it encompasses quite the assortment of types of jobbies). The point is that I’ve had a couple different job titles and with those job titles comes different ensembular expectations.

When I first started at my job I did the New Job Dress to Impress thing until my supervisor asked me why I didn't wear scrubs like a nurse. So I wore scrubs like a nurse. About five months later my job title and requirements changed, so it was back to business casual for me. That was fun for about two days and then I started running out of options and realizing how persnickety I am about my clothes. I always have to wear an undershirt uh.. under my shirt and tucked into my pants. Should it ever come untucked from my pants, HEADS WILL ROLL. I cannot have the tops of my shoes showing, even sitting down they should be covered by my pants (by this I mean the tops, like the… mouth(?) of a boot, not, like everything except for the sole). I can neither be too hot nor too cold and I need to have the option of removing/donning layers. Mainly my rotation of outfits consisted of slacks with niceish tops and cartigans and it was a bit of a pain to remember that this sweater would go with this top but oh that one is dirty and I don't have the right shoes and why did I wear short/long sleeves today and these pants are too floody.

And then one day whilst I was pawing through my closet, I rediscovered leggings. Leggings are comfortable!, I realized. And leggings work with boots and dresses. So now, a year or so later, I think I have nearly perfected my work uniform. On any given day I can usually be found wearing some combination of long sleevie dress plus leggings plus boots.
Examples!
These are actually tights.
The long sleeves are for covering my tattoo.
Red leggings!
Long sleevie dress plus leggings plus boots = actual work OUTFITS.

Outfits I can actually, like, put together.
Yeah, I'm getting the hang of this.
Once I started looking, I was surprised at how many long sleevie dress options I could find (at Ross and Marshalls).

Don't I look somewhat put together? Ish?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

standing out, leaping in

I once had to get a restraining order against my ex boyfriend. Let me explain. (No, there is too much. Let me sum up.)
I broke up with this guy and he was furious. He sent me angry emails and texts. I blocked his email address and phone number.
He stole my social security number and used it to call the cell phone company's automated system and get my phone shut off, multiple times. I changed my phone number and my social security number.
He sent me increasingly baffling and threatening emails, texts, and messages through his friends. I sent him one message, asking him to leave me alone.

He didn't.

His messages became even more more disturbing and bizarre. He threatened to make, and then actually made, a humiliating and vulgar web site about me. I filed for a restraining order. I was awarded a temporary order until the hearing, a few weeks later.
A couple days after I got the temporary order, but before he had been served, he showed up at my apartment late at night and pounded on my door. I turned on the shower and called 911, but he was gone by the time the police arrived.

I got a lawyer. He had me re-file the restraining order, listing every single event independently instead of just writing "he is harassing me." I paid a process server to track my ex down and serve him with the temporary restraining order, once it was awarded.

I went to court. Maximum restraining order granted. I celebrated, figuring he would leave me alone now.

He didn't.
It took two more court dates and a warrant for him to finally leave me alone.


Throughout all of this my lawyer insisted that I go to the police and file a report every time I heard from my ex, so that when we went to court there would be a clear paper trail and evidence that I was actively trying to get my ex to leave me alone.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every time I showed up at the police station to file a report, I got some serious pushback. I would show up with my folder of emails and they would roll their eyes at me. They would huff and sigh and begrudgingly give me paperwork to fill out. The said things like "How do we even know this is really from him?" and "He hasn't beaten you yet, so...." and "But do you actually think he's going to hurt you?" and "If he's not local he probably wouldn't come all the way here just for you." and "He probably has a new girlfriend and isn't interested in you anymore."

Not making this up. Those are things they really said to me.

I had gotten a restraining order because I was afraid that my ex would hurt me or rape me or kill me. I was the victim, dutifully following the law and trying to do the right things. The police were supposed to protect me and instead they doubted me, questioned me, and shamed me.

The same thing happened when I reported my rape.
I did all of the things that you say you'll never do. I didn't scream for help. I didn't go to the police. I ran back to the hotel and took a shower and then flew home a couple hours later. I felt confused and panicked. I didn't know what to call what had happened to me and it took urging from my loved ones for me to even report it.

I had a rape kit done the day after my rape, after I had already showered. I reported the rape to the police two days later. I told the detective my story over the phone, and then a few weeks later in person. They asked me what I was wearing that night. They asked me what "other" substances I had been on (besides alcohol). They asked me if I had flirted, if I had liked the guy. They asked my friends if they had heard me scream, if I "do this often," and if I'm a risk taker. They told me that my case would probably never go anywhere.

Somehow we live in a world where victims are questioned and doubted. It is enraging when it happens about something as clear-cut as a restraining order violation. It is downright horrifying when it happens about a rape.

After I was raped I felt overwhelmingly guilty and confused. I felt dirty and shameful, like I had brought this upon myself. I felt embarrassed and weak because I didn't fight or scream or go to the police straight away. I felt like my friends probably thought I was being too dramatic.

Fortunately for me I have had overwhelming support from friends, family, and even strangers. I had an advocate, a psychiatrist, and a trauma counselor. And everyone confirmed that it was not my fault. I was the victim. No matter what I wore or drank or whether or not I called for help or pushed him away, it was not my fault.

In my head I know this, I do. But here's also still a deep, dark part of myself that thinks "Well...."
From what I've learned, this is pretty common.

Our society does a lot of victim-blaming, victim-doubting, and victim-shaming. The thing about victims is that we often already blame, doubt, and feel ashamed of ourselves all on our own. That's what abuse and rape do to a person. Even if everyone I know tells me that they are absolutely sure that my rape wasn't my fault, and even if the law says that, and even if I intellectually know that, I still feel like it was. It comes with the territory.

That's why these public cases break my heart. Victims in high profile cases have their credibility dragged through the mud while their abusers are lauded and it makes me die a little inside. I am surviving on a daily basis. I am living as a victim of abuse and rape and it's not as easy as I try to make it look. What if I had to do that, and endure seeing the world at large adore my abuser and doubt, shame, and blame me? That, my friends, is a horrifying scenario and the reason I'm not asleep right now.
How can anyone sleep in a world where this is not only possible, but it is typical?

As much as I would like to close the book on my experience and let my successful completion of trauma counseling act as a benchmark for a new chapter in my life, I'm now sure I can't do that. I signed up for a program (at the same place where I did trauma counseling) to learn about being on their board of presenters who speak out against rape and abuse. I'm afraid, but I'm going to do it. Sometimes I collapse on my bed and say "I can't do this. It's too much for one little person," but most of the time I recognize how lucky I am to have had so much support and it makes me feel like this experience has made me feel stronger than other victims might feel. Like maybe I could even speak up for victims, or stand out for victims. But I guess if you know me you would probably agree that I'd prefer to say that I can leap for victims.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

in a pot, not a pan

My 9 year old niece is very BUSY. She has a ton of interests and likes to do projects that often involve inventing or making something. She takes pieces of cardboard and bits and bobs she finds in the cupboards and makes them into little invented board games. This one time, about two years ago, she cracked open a whole bag of almonds from their shells and candy coated them with melted chocolate. All on her own. We didn’t know what she was up to until she came in from the backyard with a bag of shelled almonds and a hammer. This other time I was talking to her and she said “my pants ripped, so I had to sew them.” Sure enough, there was a crooked line of tiny stitches up one of her pant legs. I told my sister I was impressed and she said “Yeah, me too. I wasn’t even home.” So I guess what I’m saying is that once she gets and idea in her head she HAS TO DO IT. Anyhow, that’s not what this post is about, I just like those stories.

This one time my dad and I were hanging out with my 9 year old niece and she wanted to make lemonade. My parents happen to have a very prolific lemon tree so she got to work picking, cutting, and juicing lemons. Then she requested simple syrup because she knows that just regular old sugar won’t do. My dad volunteered to make it and I started looking up a recipe on my phone. My niece cut in with “Wait! Listen, here’s how you do it! You just take a certain amount of sugar and your own amount of water and you put it in a pot, not a pan, and then you cook it!”
My dad and I thought that was about the funniest thing ever, until my dad accidentally used confectioners’ sugar and burned it and then had to start all over again, but by that time my mom was home and she made the simple syrup WITHOUT MEASURING ANYTHING, which basically meant that my niece was totally RIGHT—she had SEEN my mom put a certain amount of sugar and her own amount of water in a pot, not a pan, and then cook it.

My sister (not, incidentally, this 9 year old niece’s mom) is one of those people who only ever wants cookbooks for her birthday and Christmas and spends hours in the kitchen trying and perfecting recipes. She’ll make things like homemade pot pie with homemade crust, or chicken tikka masala, or steak with twice baked potatoes and it’s all deliciously intimidating. “This recipe is so EASY,” she’ll say, zesting an orange while simultaneously stoving something and ovening something else.
I don’t like reading recipes or following recipes, or doing anything that involves more than about six steps, so I much prefer instructions like my niece’s simple syrup.

I’m not good at cooking. And I don’t like to cook. I don’t know why. I just DON’T.
Actually, I think it might go back to my feelings of inadequacy from this post. I guess… I kind of subconsciously (semi-consciously?) feel like if I don’t cook well and often enough, that I’m not doing it right and I just shouldn’t even bother. And it’s this sort of thinking that has resulted in 31 year old me to subsist primarily on buttered noodles, snacks, takeout, and an eclectic combination of whatever my current tastes are.
There was the tortilla soup phase. And the lentils with quinoa phase. The Israeli cous cous phase. And every once in awhile I get re-jazzed about getting farm fresh fruits and veggies delivered to my apartment and I’ll sign up again. For the first few boxes I’ll be all LOOK AT ME AND MY EGGPLANT HASH and OH NO BIG DEAL I’M JUST SAUTEEING SOME KALE LIKE A MFING BOSS. And then eventually I won’t cook it all up on the first day it arrives and I’ll have rhubarb and leeks spoiling in my fridge and the emotional weight of a thousand rotten dandelion greens on my shoulders.

I don’t have a solution. At work I sort of graze all day long- cheese, sliced meats, cut up veggies and dip, crackers, nuts. I also have recently decided not to let myself be hemmed in by this ‘time of day’ nonsense, because really who cares if I eat my leftover enchiladas at 10AM and then have a waffle for dinner? Nobody, that’s who. So leftovers or a bagel or nothing for breakfast, then grazing grazing grazing, and then something breakfasty (a waffle or eggs), buttered noodles, or takeout/snacks for dinner. Geez. When I write it out like that it looks terrible. But! Did I tell you I’ve cut back on soda on weekdays?

I’ve lived by myself for about 5 years now, so the majority of the food I prepare is just for me. And me doesn’t care whether I have a wholesome, made-with-love dinner or a glass of milk and a veggie roll sushi from the corner store. I just… I don’t want to go to all the trouble of making some big dinner if it dirties every pan in my home and the person eating it (me) doesn’t sufficiently appreciate it.

I would LIKE to have a couple of go-to recipes. Sometimes I do come home from work and I have nothing prepared and I’m out of eggs and milk and I don’t feel like eating noodles, so then I just have whatever I can scrounge up from my cupboards and it ends up being fairly pathetic. And what if, someday, it’s not just me eating the food I produce? I don’t envision myself becoming some domestic goddess or even a cooks-for-pleasure type person like my sister, because I’m just not going to. And if put to the task I CAN make food. I mean, I know how to put meats and vegetables into my oven and have them come out decently-tasting, and I can make my sister’s tortilla soup which is just this side of heaven, but I guess what I’m looking for is food that I can make easily and with only a couple of steps that will have the end result of looking something like a whole MEAL. Someone who can roast a chicken might roast that chicken and then make some rice vegetables to go with it. And I CAN do that, but it takes so LONG and it dirties so many DISHES and it’s just ME eating that it ends up feeling like too many steps and ugh, I’ll just have a waffle again.

Last week I made some pasta I like.
I don’t want to jinx it or get ahead of myself here, but I think, I THINK I have come up with something I might actually put into the rotation of Things I Cook, and actually keep it there.
Here’s whatcha do. I’m not including pictures because nobody really cares, right? Okay, so. Step 1. Buy some noodles and some red sauce and some alfredo sauce. The alfredo sauce should come in a smaller jar than the red sauce. Step 2. Cook the noodles (in a pot, not a pan). Step 3. Heat up the sauces both together. Step 4. Drain the noodles, pour some olive oil and the sauce mixture over the noodles. DONE. Delicious. Step 5. Duplicate and elaborate. No big deal but I totally added mushrooms and red peppers to the batch I made the other day and I FEEL like I could branch out to adding more veggies and also, say, chicken. It doesn’t so much change my day to day life (leftovers for breakfast, grazing grazing grazing, whatever for dinner), but it IS a food that I could prepare for another human person and they could eat it and be full and it doesn’t include any traditional breakfast foods or takeout or microwaving.  So here we are. I am 31 and I can now make a slightly more interesting pasta than plain buttered noodles, with the skill and instruction level of a 9 year old. PAT ON THE BACK FOR ME.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Best Tings

(My nephew pronounces things as "tings," which I find pwecious.)

I figured that instead of keeping everything in the survey, I might as well make separate posts for the things I REALLY want to talk about. So, the best things I have bought in the past year. They are, in no particular order: my Christmas tree, my Dr. Scholl’s Fast Flats, my nasal rinse bottle, Rubik’s Twist, and a maid service.

First, the nasal rinse bottle. Sometimes I get sick. And sometimes I get sinussy grossness that comes with being sick. And in the past I’ve managed this with hot tea, steamy showers, and feeling sorry for myself. There are people who swear by that Neti pot thing and it kind of scares me. I can’t get over the mental hurdle of POURING water up my nose. I feel like I would drown. So when I learned there was a squeeze bottle that used the same concept of flushing out one’s sinuses, I gave it a whirl. And it’s great! I love it! As much as one can love something that involves squirting warm salty water up one’s nose.

Getting a Christmas tree has really become an expense I can justify, even though I live alone. The cost and hassle and the feeling like I shouldn’t bother getting one because it’s just ME and what does anything matter is fully eclipsed by the fact that I HAVE A CHRISTMAS TREE! HOORAY! CHRISTMAS TREE! It just kicks up my general mood and Christmas spirit and it looks so pretty in my house with all the lights and ornaments and it makes me HAPPY. So, sixty bucks for huge booster shot of happiness in the winter? Sold. 

Speaking of Christmas, let me tell you about the Rubik’s Twist! I had seen it before on a couple of Swistle’s gift idea lists and I always kind of thought meh, I don’t really LIKE Rubik’s cubes. And then when I saw it was more something you PLAYED with, I thought well then what’s the point? Oh how wrong I was. I have a bunch of nieces and nephews ranging from age 1.5 to 14 years and the majority of them are on the upper end of that age range. I feel like they are getting more difficult to shop for-- I can’t just Melissa and Doug everyone and call it a day. So I re-perused Swistle’s lists and ended up buying Rubik’s Twists for a couple of my nieces and nephews and they were SUCH A HIT that I ordered more of them so that we could reduce the household bickering (sometimes *I* wanted to play with one and NOBODY WOULD LET ME). Anyway, two thumbs up for the Rubik’s Twist. Who knew? (Swistle knew.)

Right before Christmas I went to Vegas (with the boyfriend (BOYFRIEND)) to watch my USC Trojans beat Fresno State the Royal Purple Bowl (Sidebar: remember when I called this blog Royal Jewels?). ANYWAY, Vegas involved a lot of partying in dainty high heels, and then jumping up and down at the football game and walking walking walking A LONG WAY (part of the way) back to our hotel afterward and then some walking down the strip just to walk some more for good measure. And so my feet, they did not want to wear my heels OR my boots anymore. We stopped in at Walgreens and I bought THESE:
They are some seriously awesome emergency flats. I wore them out that night and I kept exclaiming “I love these shoes, have I mentioned that?” Which, yes. I had mentioned it. I’ll be bringing them everywhere with me from now on because they fold up so tiny and cute in their wristlet that they basically take up NEGATIVE space in my bag.

And finally, maid service. A couple weeks after I had recovered from my little skin issue, my mom said to me “I’m thinking we should get someone into your apartment to, you know, really CLEAN it.” It sort of made me feel like my mom thought I caught Butt MRSA because I live in squalor and filth, but whatever! You want to hire a maid service to come clean my home? I won’t be fighting you on that. So they came the one time and then I decided to have them come back once a month because OMG having someone else clean my house is just the best thing ever. I CAN clean my home. I have the skills. But it won’t all be clean at the same time and I just don’t do things like dust the shelves or steam mop the floor. Not going to happen. And coming home from work to a clean apartment and a made bed is just delightful.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Year

I think it’s pretty universal that people don’t tend to like blog posts about why someone hasn’t been blogging. But, whatever. This is my blog, and if a gal can’t be insufferable on her blog, then what? There's just nowhere left to be insufferable? Unacceptable. And actually now that I’m about to write it out it doesn’t seem like the long, obnoxious explanation I had in my head: Basically I could never figure out where to start so I just stopped starting. So here I am today because I’ve got to start somewhere with unclogging this bottleneck of words.
I’ve had this New Year’s survey in my drafts folder for… awhile. I just kept half assing answers and skipping ahead and then closing the computer in defeat. I guess I’m feeling more free-form this year.
Last year I felt totally cynical and just plain sad because 2012 had turned out so epically craptastic. So I spent a fair amount of New Year's Eve weeping and then picked myself up, had some champagne, and did my New Year’s Dip with my nieces and nephews to wash away 2012 and I was all set and ready to make a fresh start. Annnnd then I got BUTT MRSA. So I was like, what the hell, Universe? Why would you do this to me? But then I figured it out. You see, the Universe actually wants me to be on the LUNAR calendar. So New Year’s Eve was more of a formality for me, my ACTUAL year began on Feb 10, the year of the SNAKE. I’m listening, Universe. I’m picking up what you’re throwing down.

So. January 31 is coming up, which means I and my Lunar brethren will be turning the corner and welcoming in the Year of the Horse. (I already did my New Year’s Dip, because that’s a family tradition and I’m not going to mess with that timeline.)

Okay, so are we on the same page here? I'm finally going to post my survey, but it's actually not late because I'm on the Lunar calendar.
I’m just gonna cut out the ones I've been skipping over because BOTTLENECK.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
I started suffering from insomnia, mostly related to horrifying nightmares. And as a result I started taking sleeping medication.
Possibly related to this I started liking coffee- caramel mocha frappuccinos to be exact. No, I will never be able to spell that correctly.

I took my niece and nephew on a trip all by me onesie. We visited my other sis and her kids in SoCal and then went to a USC football game. So much fun. And so much spoiling of my nieces and nephews.

I went to South Carolina to visit Sunny and got to do all sorts of fun southern activities and eat delicious things that were either fried or cheese, or fried and cheese. I did get stuck on a grounded plane for 6 hours while flying out there. Not the most fun day of my life.
Speaking of transportation woes, I also took a day-long bus ride from Oregon back to SF. My flight was cancelled because of the plane crash and, strangely, flights to and from tiny towns in Southern Oregon weren’t high on the priority list of getting rescheduled. I rented a car and drove part way, and then I took an 8 hour long bus ride back to SF. Well, actually. I got off the bus to use the bathroom in Oakland and it left without me, so ALMOST to SF.

I went on vacation with my entire family. All 18 of us.

I got MRSA and a needlestick. Thanks, healthcare profession. But I did also get my own office in our new building and got everything squared away for my prescribing license. So it evens out.

I joined Facebook. 
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 1- when I was so so SO happy that 2012 was FINALLY OVER.
February 10- Lunar New Year, when I realized that the Universe actually wants me on the lunar calendar, because that’s when things started to turn around.
February 13- Galentine’s Day, which I have decided to start celebrating.
July 19- the day my clinic moved and also the day I was SUPPOSED to go on another trip to Central America with 0peration Rainb0w, with my dad AND my sister who is also a nurse. I asked for the time off MONTHS in advance, but I ended up not being able to go because my clinic moved. So that week was extremely busy and also infuriating.
July 26- my birthday, which I didn’t get off from work because of the aforementioned clinic move. This has inspired me to ALWAYS take my birthday off from work. Because nobody cares it’s your birthday except you! It was actually not SO bad because it was a Friday and my mom took me to lunch and my boyfriend (BOYFRIEND) sent me flowers. July 26 is ALSO the day when boyfriend and I became, like, official and whatnot.
[This sentence is just a filler so there is something between the previous item and the next one. These two dates are too close together for my liking.]
The weekend after my birthday weekend- will forever be remembered as my rapeiversary. August 5 to be exact, but for some reason the weekend, not just that day, gave me a lot of anxiety.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing trauma counseling. I can't believe how difficult and amazing it turned out to be.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration? 
Wendy Davis

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Jerky dudes. Jerky dude politicians.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, student loans, car repairs, my cat's extensive dental surgery.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
Vacations. Football season. Christmas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?



17. Compared to this time last year, are you: 

a) happier or sadder? Happier
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter
c) richer or poorer? Richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Angst and obsess.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Um. Amazingly, yes. Who saw that coming? NOT ME.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Parks and Rec, Chopped, Dance Moms, Sister Wives, Monk, House Hunters. Yikes, that’s a lot of reality TV.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
 No.

24. What was the best book you read?
The Rook, Divergent

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
There was this one morning when I got up and plugged in my speakers and discovered that my computer had been playing Thrift Shop on a loop for 24 hours.
That's 885 plays.
I have since adopted it as a unit of time. 885 macklemores = 1 day. So there are 37 macklemores in an hour. Okay? Good. Glad you're coming with me on this.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Now You See Me, Catching Fire, Pitch Perfect, Frozen

32. What kept you sane?

Vacations, medication, treats, caramel mocha fraps, texting, reading, hot baths, my friends, doing good deeds, twittah, shopping, my job, going out, staying in, bad reality TV, liquor, inappropriate jokes, my family, trauma counseling, going out of my way for other people.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jennifer Lawrence.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Marriage equality. Women's rights. Human rights.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012. 
Staying in is a perfectly reasonable and lovely thing to do.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pin-interest

Have you ever watched Extreme Couponing? I watched a season of it on Netflix and found it mesmerizing. People have so much dedication to their systems, it's kind of amazing. They plan and tally and work the system and manage to end up spending only a few bucks on carts and carts worth of stuff! And I admire it, even though the things they buy don't always make sense to me. I don't, for instance, understand why one would need sixty bottles of mustard (or, like, even TWO bottles of mustard. Mustard isn't that good and it kind of lasts forever). What I'm saying is that it looks like a satisfying thing to be good at. I don't have the desire or storage space necessary to buy hundreds of bottles of laundry detergent and chicken fingers, but I sure WOULD like to be able to march into a grocery store or Target and buy the things I actually need and only have to spend four dollars. I'd like to coupon, but without having to spend the sixty hours a week looking up internet coupons and stealing newspapers.
Um. Anyway the purpose of that whole paragraph was to explain: there are some things I just want to be good at without actually having to work at and learn it. It's why learning to sew on a sewing machine is still untouched at #13 on my Life Scavenger Hunt even though I got a sewing machine a couple years ago. I read the instruction manual and learned how to thread the thing and sewed a few crooked lines of stitches into an old pair of underpants, but now I just want to go straight to being able to whip up complicated quilts and whimsical stuffed animals. (I was also very disappointed to learn how much IRONING is involved in sewing.)


So. I would like to be good at some things (not EVERY thing) without having to work at it. DIY home improvement is something I'd like to be good at, but I hate reading instructions and also I don't have a workroom or, like, a basic understanding of tools and construction. I can daydream all I want about creating a built-in wall of shelves behind my bed but it just isn't going to happen. For the present time I tend to stick to smaller-scale projects and even they can sometimes turn out disastrous.

I saw this idea at a friend's house the first time, and I thought it was brilliant-- an extra shower curtain rod against the wall of your shower for all the miscellaneous crap that would otherwise be cluttering up the ledges of the bathtub! Apparently it was such a good idea that it had even made Pin-interest (what my mom calls Pinterest). Examples here and here.

The idea looked easy enough, so I gave it a go:
Ta da!
I bought a shower curtain rod at Bed Bath and Beyond and then picked up some cute pink and white plastic baskets at the Japanese variety store (it's like a dollar store with bento boxes). It was a bit of a challenge getting the baskets on there and then hoisting the whole thing into the shower and sproinging it out to secure to the walls, but I did it.
And it came out perfect!

Two hours later:
*crash*
Yeah... it fell down. And then I put it back up. And it fell down again the next day. And then I had someone stronger than me (anyone is stronger than me, but in this case it was boyfriend) put it up. And it fell down again. I gave up, pulled the baskets off the shower rod, and distributed them within the bathroom as freestanding stuff-holding receptacles. I won't tell you what I did with the shower rod (nothing. It's still in the bathroom, leaning against the wall).
My first pin-interest project? Nailed it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Potpourri

I bought so much felt food today that I could almost host a felt dinner party!
That was the sentence that I wanted to start this post with in order to explain that, hey everyone, I bought a whole bunch of felt food today that I'll be giving to my nieces for Christmas. But then I realized that's... pretty much it.

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I don't know how to tell this story without making myself sound lame and incompetent, but here it is anyhow: I got a needlestick last week. We had a patient come in who was having knee pain so the doctor decided we should aspirate the fluid from the joint. I was all sterile techniquing and prepping the area and whatnot and then the doctor handed me the (sterile) needle and the (sterile and empty) syringe and said "Okay now you have to make sure that the needle is on really tight because if you have an air pocket you won't get any fluid when you pull back." So I diligently grasped the needle and the syringe, attached them together, and then gave them a good twist to make sure they were nice and tightly fitted together.
And then my hand slipped and the cap came off and the needle jabbed THROUGH MY THUMB and into my palm and all of a sudden I was standing there with a bare needle in one hand and a handful of blood in the other and it was all just a crappy week from that point on.

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I was driving yesterday and I said to my boyfriend (yep, boyfriend. I'll have to tell you more about him later!) "Hey, I think that's the pawn shop where I sold some of my jewelry." And he said "Well, that's kind of sad." And I've been thinking about it and I guess it is sort of sad. Except for it was a couple of years ago and it wasn't any, like, heirloom or something from my parents. It was actually just some jewelry from an ex. I didn't wear it and I needed the money so I sold it and I don't regret doing so.
This has gotten me thinking about a couple other things. Ex boyfriend KC painted me a picture of my cat for Christmas a couple years ago and then got it all fancy framed for me. Which, at the time was nice except that it wasn't a surprise since he painted it in my apartment and also I later found out that back when he was with his ex girlfriend he had painted a picture of her cat and presented it to her as a gift and also that her painting included a love note written on the back. I wasn't sure which one to be more upset about at the time-- the fact that that mine did not include a love note or the fact that the painting itself was a RECYCLED GIFT IDEA. But I digress.
Anyhow I still have the thing, it's sitting in my storage locker and I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm not going to give it back to KC, who I haven't seen or talked to in two years. I'm not going to give it to the Goodwill because I don't want someone to buy it and have a portrait of MY cat in their house, but I also don't want to throw it away because it's of my CAT and if I'm superstitious at all (which I am) I feel like that might invite bad karma onto him or something. It's also not the best painting of a cat you may have ever seen-- he took a photo of Bowie and then enlarged it, and then traced it on a canvas and then sharpied a grid and used the grid as a guide for where to paint the colors, which means that you can see a grid in the background of the painting.
Relatedlyish, there was a dude I dated for a little bit who brought me a painting of a bicycle and then asked me to shave his back. I actually like the painting-- it is of an old-timey bicycle with, y'know, the HUGE front wheel. So I like it because it's quirky and looks like something I might have picked out for myself and I thought I might just be able to forget about the guy and his odd body hair request, but... Okay no. I just decided that I'm not going to keep it. Okay, is anybody in the market for a portrait of my cat and a painting of a bicycle?
I feel like I should circle back around here and point out that current boyfriend is a good gift-giver. He's also nice to me. Smiley face, etc.

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I started taking my nieces and nephew to the flea market which is a win-win because I get to hang out with them and I also get to go to the flea market. At first they were shy to talk to the booth owners but now they're total pros, "How much is this? Oh fifteen dollars you say? I'll give you eight." I STILL sometimes get flustered and embarrassed when I try to haggle "Twenty dollars? Ummmmmm. Yeah okay. Here. [Runs away]", so it looks like this is yet another way that my nieces and nephews are cooler than I will ever be.

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Whenever my dad goes to Starbucks for my mom he says his name is "Pete" in the hopes that someday someone will call out "Pete's coffee!"

Monday, October 28, 2013

Target Practice

Things I like about the new Target betwixt my work and home:
- There is a new Target on my way home from work
- It's NEW and it's TARGET and it's equidistant from my work and my home
- I could stop at Target on my way home from work
- I've been there twice now and both times they handed out $10 coupons at the register
- Tonight I bought a gift bag, which I hate buying. But it was only $1.43. (Did you know how expensive gift bags can be? The full priced ones of the same size as the one I bought were in the SIX DOLLAR range. For a thing that's meant to be the outer shell of a present!)
- Free parking
- I stopped at Target on my way home from work

Things I did not like about tonight's experience at the new Target betwixt my work and home:
- The guy in the Lady Items aisle where his girlfriend was trying to pick out the thing she needed and he was making fun of her and LAUGHING AT HER for being so picky and spending more money on the brand she liked. Oh, you think it's all a big joke, do ya, homeboy? You think it's silly for women to have PREFERENCES about those type of things that go in that very intimate, specific area? Oh, they all look the same to you, do they? I guess you'd know ALL ABOUT EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THIS, wouldn't you? Asshat. (Perhaps I was also so irritated with him for the very same reason I was in that aisle to begin with.)
- Falling up the stairs on the way to my car.
- The couple blocking the entire stairwell right after I fell and picked myself up. I thought they were making out at first (which I actually wouldn't have minded because, yeah, go for it) but it turned out that she was just shielding his face from the wind as he lit his cigarette. DO THAT ON YOUR OWN TIME, JERKS.
- The fact that other people seem to shop in this Target as well.

Whatever, I don't even care. There's a new Target! On my way home from work! My commute just got waaayyy better. But if this space isn't for me to air my grievances then what is it, really?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

110. go on vacation with my whole family

Well this is a little (a lot) belated, but I've been accomplishing some things from my Life Scavenger Hunt so I figured maybe I should blog again, like, EVER.
Anyhow. This past summer my parents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. They decided to go to Hawaii. And then they made the mistake awesome decision to invite all of their children and grandchildren on the trip!
That was a total of 18 people.
Nine children and nine adults (three children plus their spouses, plus one daughter who is single (one of these things is not like the other and will potentially be a spinster forever no big deal)).
ANYHOW.
It was really fun.
We swam and snorkeled* and lounged and ate shave ice and celebrated two birthdays and drank fancy tropical drinkies and ate yummy foods and swam and swam and swam and hung out all together and it was just the best.

*I have learned that snorkeling is not an activity I enjoy. I can't breathe well enough through the snorkel so I'm constantly hyperventilating and getting water up my nose and listening to my own noisy breathing is SCARY SOUNDING. So I invented a new way to do it called GOGGLING. Basically I just wear goggles and swim underwater for as long as I can hold my breath and then resurface and I feel like a beautiful mermaid.
(My nephew: "Why are you weawing dose, Auntie Julia?"
Me: "Oh, I like this better than snorkels and masks because the mask always fills up water and the snorkel makes me feel like I'm going to die."
My nephew: "The mask doesn't fill up with wawter. And the snowkel makes you feel like you're going to live.")     

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Potpourri

You know what I don't understand? Those newfangled car key doodles that are not actual keys but instead electronic fancy car remote thingies. What... why? I have a whole list of reasons I don't like or understand them: They're expensive. You can get a key made for a couple bucks, but those stupid electronic NON KEYS cost a couple hundred. Oh, and water ruins them. And what if you forget them somewhere, which is much easier to do since you don't actually have to get them out of your pocket to unlock the car, start it, or exit it. What if you're locked out? Exactly whom does AAA send for you, because I feel like it wouldn't be a locksmith.

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The last guy I dated told me that one of the reasons he didn't want to date me anymore was that he wanted to be the funny one in the relationship. I had decided to end things, but that was his parting sentiment to me. Great.

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Today I learned and performed the Dix-Hallpike test and Epley maneuver on a patient with vertigo. It's a way to diagnose vertigo and then to treat it. It's super weird because maneuvering the person around with their head and body in certain positions ACTUALLY does help vertigo. I know that it's supposedly science or physics or whatever, but it really seems like the maneuvers are sorcery. Which, given the names, I'm semi convinced they are.

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This past weekend I spent a lot of time with my sister. Communicating with my sister is like... Well. It's like communicating with my sister. If you ask her a direct question she might answer, or she might answer a totally unrelated question (Me: "Hey when are you buying your ticket for the 4th?" Sis: "I don't have diabetes!"), or she might just NOT ANSWER AT ALL. And you know she heard you. And it's not out of malice, it's just... how she is.

She will often tell you only part of the story and assume that you already knew the rest. I am constantly getting texts from her that read like we were in the middle of a conversation.
Sis: IV fluids.
Me: What? Who is getting IV fluids? What's going on?

This weekend she tried to tell me a story, but I got all hung up on what she apparently thought was a minor detail.
Sis: So I was walking home and I caught a snake right over there. And it was so weird it-
Me: Wait, what? You caught a snake?  How?
Sis: I was just walking and I saw a snake on the sidewalk, so I grabbed it. Anyhow, it-
Me: Why did you catch a snake?
Sis: To show it to the kids.
Me: Wait. You saw a snake and so you GRABBED IT?
Sis: Yes. Anyhow, it was so weird when we let it go in the yard it slithered all the way from the rocks to the bushes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In case of emergency

So. It has been awhile. I have a no sleeping and horrible nightmares saga to tell you about but that can wait.
Okay, I just wrote a whole long-winded paragraph here about how PRECISELY I came up with the idea, but let me just streamline that into: My sister mentioned that she wanted a Swiss Army knife to keep in her car. So, for Christmas, instead of just giving her the knife, I put together an Emergency Car Kit for her. It was really fun to make and she loved it, so it was a very satisfying present.
Since then I have made emergency car kits for a few other people. It makes a really awesome gift, if you're someone who tends to go a bit overboard for gift giving.

Let's go through the process. First, you get a bin. You'll want to get it at Target because you'll also be needing other things at Target. Then, you put things in the bin. And then you give that bin to somebody, or you keep it for yourself and put it in your car.

Here is an example of an emergency car kit. It just happens to be MY emergency car kit.

Photo 1: Jeans, black lounge pants, a long sleevie shirt, an undertank, a short sleevie shirt, flippity flops, socks, undies, dress, hoodie. All artfully flang over my chair.

Photo 2: Fingerless gloves, fingerfull gloves, work gloves (I didn't realize I had put so many pairs of gloves in there until I was taking the pic), poncho, umbrella, sunscreen, tissues, flashlight, lint roller, rope.

Photo 3: Gross yellow Gatorade (selected to make sure that I will only drink if it is an actual thirst emergency), various undesirable snackies, vodka, 5 hour energy drink, baby wipes, extra glasses, sunglasses, miscellaneous case containing phone charger, earbuds, lighter, one birthday candle. Just in case.

Photo 4: Here we have some items that go into two cosmetic pouches. In the Chanel pouch (purchased from a thrift store)- hairbursh, earplugs, razor, toothpaste, toothbrush, tampons, cotton balls, Q tips, conditioner, floss, chapstick, condoms (hey, we don't know what sort of emergency might come up). In the little black pouch- bobby pins (or, as I like to call them, Robert pins), sparkles, hair goo, lotion, eyeshadow, nail clippers, hairbands, mascara, eyeliner, perfume.

Photo 5: Packing it all up.... At the last minute I also threw in a notepad and a tarp. Because, well, I had a notepad and a tarp.

Photo 6: Now, this is the mini/satellite emergency car kit that lives in the FRONT of my car. This one contains some tinier things and also essential items that I might need to use more often than what is in the main car kit.

Photo 7: The items in the mini front seat emergency car kit. Flip & Tumble bag, wee notebook, matches, gum, sunscreen, handsatizer (that's what my nephew calls it) spray, alcohol swabs, chapstick, lens cloth, little pouch containing tampons and Robert pins, lotion, tissues, pill box with various meds, salt, pens, and a Sharpie. Not pictured and I'm not sure why- whistle.

Photo 8: And here we have everything neatly packaged into these two bins. Oh, I also added a sweatshirt to the big bin, which is what you see on top. I had room and I tend to get cold.

I feel like I should also mention that as a nurse I have a separate box in my car that contains things like bandaids, scissors, antiseptic, tape, and gauze. Oh, and a face mask for giving CPR. I'm not going back down to my car to get and photograph those things, you'll just have to use your imagination.
I also keep bandaids in my wallet (just like my dad), snacks in my purse, chapstick in just about every bag I own, and pepper spray and a window breaker/seatbelt cutter attached to my keychain.
Things I want to add to my emergency car kit: flares, emergency blanket, book, snake bite kit, hat, safety pins. Man, I could just keep going.
What might go into your emergency car kit?