Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tonight . . . And Tomorrow . . .

I am taking a chance.
I am attempting something I've never before attempted.
I am taking the Jeopardy! test online.
I'm going to gloat if I feel like I did really, really well with the test to my older brother, who took it last year and had a devil of a time with it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

She's Moving On, So I'm Moving Out

Once again, I find myself in need of a place to move to within the next month.
The last time this happened, my dad had decided he would charge me rent to live at home and I said, "To heck with that!  If I have to pay a landlord, the landlord isn't going to be one of the people who gave me half of my DNA."  Thus, my current roommate and I moved to where we presently live.
Said roommate's brother, who I'll nicely call flighty (but who, honestly, could probably drive Mother Theresa crazy if she were still alive), has decided that he's going to take his work's offer of paying for a house for his family and him to move to.  In Winnemucca.  Which is in Nevada somewhere.  Nowhere important, because when roommate told me about it, I think that's the second time in my life that I've heard "Winnemucca."  (In an aside, it's totally fun to say in an angry tone of voice and I think it it would make an excellent faux-curse word . . . as in "Well, what the Winnemucca do you know?")
Anyway, since his employer will pay for the house near Hades (to me, almost all of Nevada is Hades because it's either a) close to Vegas or b) not close to Vegas and therefore basically desolate except for a few random hicks and some stray prairie dogs . . . okay, I might be over-generalizing), they are keeping their current place of residence in Holladay.  Roommate will be allowed to live there while paying only Homeowner Association fees.
Meanwhile, I'm praying really hard to find a place that won't mind a supernally nice (although not supernally tidy, alas) young lady who only wants to sign a six-month lease.  I thought this in-between time while waiting for grad schools could not seem any more in-between, but the necessity of this move has achieved what would seem impossible.
On the bright side, since I didn't move too far away from my parents and they still see me once a week--at least--for Sunday dinner (twice, really, since my wonderful mother drives me to my once-weekly chiropractor appointments and then I spend the night at the folks'), I never bothered to forward my mail.
On the not-so-bright side, it has once again become time to collect boxes.  And to de-junk.  Of course, the bright side to the de-junking is that I won't need to collect tons and tons of boxes.  And I'm beginning to ponder if it isn't wiser to just invest in a bunch of portable plastic bins that can act as storage and boxes.  Two-in-one, yay!
Also, because the title is a subtle Billy Joel reference, I just have to add I hope that any stress over this move won't cause me a heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack.  (It shouldn't . . . I oughta know by know)
Since this will be the fourth move in a 2-year span of time, I'm beginning to feel my friend's assessment was probably truer than I'd like to admit.  But when someone tells you're that you're "like the frickin' circus" after you mention a move, you (and by you, I mean me) choose to interpret that as "You're so entertaining and lively that a tent full of elephants, lions, trapeze artists, and flaming rings ain't got nothin' on you."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Not So Well-Endow(ry)ed

Most of the time I laugh about some of the ridiculously antiquated notions people have about Mormons--that we're polygamists, that we do not believe in television or movies, that we're like the Amish but weirder.  I remember laughing delightedly when a friend who moved from California to Utah during junior high relayed how she had been surprised to see normal houses instead of log cabins.
But now I feel that my family, at least, is more old-fashioned than I had thought.  This is why: I have a dowry.  My sisters, though I didn't realize it at the time they got married, also had dowries.
Don't get me wrong.  These aren't the Jane Austen, please marry my daughter because I'll even PAY you--and oh, by the way, thank you for relieving me of the financial obligation a daughter is--kind of dowries.  Most of the items are heirlooms--inheritances of some kind from each of my grandmothers (one still living, one dead).  Some of the items, it seems, go farther back than two generations; some of them are heirloom heirlooms.  (And I'm petrified of being the one who somehow manages to destroy them and thus destroy a legacy)
I only recently became aware of the concept that I would have a dowry when my mom asked if I liked the quilt on my grandparents' spare bed.  She tried too hard to force a casual tone to the question, so I asked why she asked.  "Well," she said, "Grandma thought we might make it part of your dowry." 
"Oh," I said.  "I like it a lot.  That's fine."
And then I puzzled: how many other girls my age have dowries?  Several of the girls I grew up with kept hope chests--things I mercilessly mocked--and delighted in buying things they could store in their chests until they could married.  (And come on--who wouldn't mock a 14-year-old girl going into obvious raptures over a blender when she had come to the store with her friend, who needed a t-shirt?)
When I told a friend about it recently, he laughed out loud.  Asked what was in my dowry.  And then told me that, sorry, I didn't have enough belongings to make him a proper wife.
Perhaps my dad should invest in some cows?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Optimistic Impatience

As tends to happen to me on choice occasions, I have been too optimistic. Far too optimistic. When I mailed my graduate applications in order to meet or beat a December 17 deadline, I felt positively sure that I would know--at latest--by February whether said institutions loved me enough to admit me. And to pay me money to attend, but I'll be overjoyed with admittance. I have been out of the academic environment for far, far too long and my withdrawals are getting more extreme. (I know it's ironic and that technically, the more time away from an environment, the fewer withdrawal symptoms I should have--but what can I say? I'm an anomaly)

Imagine my dismay when I checked in with a couple of the places I've applied to learn they mail out decisions in March. Mid-March!! Come to think of it, I should have remembered this from my acceptances to undergraduate programs. They all came around the time of my birthday.

So, breathing deep. Trying to retain some optimism. Come March: Happy birthday to me?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Epiphany

I had a sudden realization today--a WAM! KAPOW! sort of epiphany. 
And yes, if you're wondering, I do think it's entirely possible Batman was somehow involved.
I have been blogging for more than a year now.  (I didn't claim the epiphany involved earth-shattering truths of any kind, so stop feeling disappointed) Granted, it's not been a whole lot longer than a year.
And thankfully, unlike my journal, my blog dates itself automatically--so it will never look like I'm repeating 2007.
(Thank heaven for that--2007 wasn't, by any means, the best year I've had)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Single-Minded (and -Eyed) Focus

This morning, I was worried.  It looked like a repeat of yesterday morning, minus the head chock full of phlegm and the fever--Trax was running late, which would in turn make me late for catching my bus, causing me to run the block from the library to the bus stop only to see my bus pulling away from the curb.  At times like that, I swear I can feel someone laughing at me.
Anyway, as I boarded the train, I was praying as fervently as a soul can about a bus--that my bus would somehow be delayed, that I could make it safely onto the on-time-to-work bus if I just hurried enough.  I admit it right now--I was in a hurry, and I don't look anywhere but straight ahead when I'm rushing.
I was so focused, indeed, I didn't notice someone stumble over my foot; indeed, I would have been completely unaware except that when I'd reached the crosswalk, a woman with an eye patch covering her left eye came up to me and said, "If you're going to trip me, the least you can do is tell me you're sorry.  I'm blind in one eye."
I looked that woman square in the face and snapped, "So am I."
"Well, then," she said, "Perhaps you should have been looking with your good eye."
She was saved from any number of vicious retorts by a walk signal--we were, thankfully, walking in opposite directions.  I scurried on my way, mulling over everything I could have said: "How long have you been blind?" "Were you looking with your good eye?"
I learned something from this exchange.  If I had actually felt her tripping on me, I would have stopped and said "Excuse me" at the very least.  But because I was so busy, I didn't notice.  And she didn't give me the benefit of the doubt, which irked me.  Normally, when I trip over people, I just assume they didn't notice and that they're in a hurry.
After all, everybody has their White Rabbit moments.
The admonishment that maybe I should have been looking with my good eye, while rude, also made me think.  In order for me to compensate for the utter void on my right side, I would have to walk through life with my head literally turned 45 degrees to my right.  Turning my head like that would, in turn, cause me to run into a host of things I actually could have seen on my left side.
It's a lose-lose.  If I try to accommodate the idea someone else has of where I should be looking, I only hurt more people.  And it's completely unintentional.  Huh.  There might be a good parable in here somewhere . . .
I also learned just how much of a quid pro quo reacter I am (Or should that be reactor?  It looks like I'm talking science or something when spelled with the 'o' . . .).  The idea of quid pro quo defines many of my interactions: in conversation I tend to match wit for wit, sarcasm for sarcasm, pun for pun; in written communication, I match letter for letter and e-mail for e-mail.  It's a concept well-learned and well-taught in my family, in the form of "Don't you dare dish it if you can't take it."
But it bothered me that in this instance, I found myself reacting to her anger and annoyance with anger and annoyance.  And I've been mulling about the incident all day.  Not because I'm angry with her, although I do think she could have been far less combative.
No, I'm angry with me.  I know better.  And I know I know better.  Maybe she doesn't.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Woe of Public Transportation

Normally speaking, I don't mind that I don't drive. Public transportation has its perks. It's a half hour nap in the morning on my way into work and a half hour of pretty much uninterrupted reading on my way home. Though some buses do have a distinct smell, it can be counteracted by strategically placed dabs of lotion.

But I have developed an intense disliking for a particular class of person on the bus. This is not the smelly homeless man who has begged for bus money, the person conducting a loud and vulgar phone conversation for all to hear, or the lesbian couple making out. (All these people, incidentally, have been on buses with me at some point or other.)

No, the class of person who has me on my soapbox today is none other than the driver. But not the regular, average-Joe, just-doin'-my-job kind of bus driver. This class of person I call the pansy bus driver.

This particular type of bus driver finds him- or herself intimidated by Prisms, by Civics, by Windstars, by Mustangs . . . in short, by almost any other type of car by the road. He or she brakes at green lights. Turns hesitantly. Cringes when people honk as a method of communicating "Move faster."
They seem to have difficulty realizing they are in a large vehicle. Such a large vehicle, in fact, that they don't even really have to be assertive to be assertive.

Now it is my understanding these bus drivers have to pass tests--written and practical--in order to become bus drivers. It is also my understanding that neither of these test is easy. But it seems to me there is a crucial element lacking in the way they test . . . specifically, I believe the first question on the written test should look something like this:

1. Do you have difficulty asserting yourself while driving your regular car? Do you drive like a pansy? If the answer is yes, please stop taking this test and find a new job.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Winter of My Discontent

I am running out of patience. Ironically enough, this is a continuing process. Just when I think I cannot lose patience with anything else, I do. I lose it with my working situation. Or my living situation. Or my church calling situation.

To put it succinctly: I. Hate. Waiting. I hate waiting more than I hate celebrity news. More than I hate people who refuse to get along with me. More than I hate the way 1984 ended. More than I hate olives and mushrooms. More than I hate how easily my older brother can get a rise out of me sometimes.

(Well, it started out succinctly, but then I had to elaborate. I guess that's what happens when I try to deny the part of my nature that likes to expound.)

The graduate school applications--most of them--have been submitted. Were, in fact, submitted precisely a month ago. Actually, the deadline was precisely a month ago. So they were submitted prior. And this has been a long, long month. And the rest of the month will be long. All days will be long until I know what will be happening with my life.

When I look at it that way, I suppose most of my patience problem could be distilled to the idea I am impatient because I do not know things I feel I need to know in order to proceed with my life.

How do the patient people do it?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oh, That I Had a Camera

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Today, I wish I had a camera. Of course, that would probably only do more to establish my reputation as an office oddball. I would then not only be the girl who writes poetry on her lunch break and who makes joking literary references, they'd also think I was some kind of Ansel Adams wannabe.

That aside, I will try to paint you a verbal picture of the one and only person in this office who does not like me. She is two years older than I am. Shorter and stouter, but our color is similar. Except that she's paler than I am, if such a thing is possible. And trust me, such a thing is possible.

She also has next to no personality. I don't mean this in an entirely critical way. Quite literally, her face has two expressions--impassive and malevolent. You think I'm exaggerating. But I'm not.

In fact, there is a much more concise way of explaining this. If you ever walked past her office and saw her out of the corner of your eye, you could easily mistake her for Severus Snape. Her hair has the right amount of grease, her clothes are the right kind of black, and her shoes--spot on, she's Severus. Until you actually look at her and realize she's a woman and not a greasy wizard man.

I realized this today. She wears a particular fur coat (faux, of course--but doesn't it look real?) when she's cold, and by heavens! She actually looks like Neville's Snape boggart dressed in his grandmother's clothing. I'd attach a picture, but it's just so much more delicious for you to remember what Snape looked like.*

*And I don't want to search for one . . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Kindness Begins (and Ends) with Me

Everyone at work has collectively decided I am as threatening as a stuffed cat. Actually, that's a lie. They think the right type of stuffed cat would be more threatening than I am. In short, I've gained a reputation in the last year. I'm the girl who walks fast, types fast, talks fast, turns around paperwork fast, and is supernally nice. Please stop laughing. It's true. At this place, I've actually gained a reputation for being kind. While I do view this assessment of me as a sort of collective office amnesia, I've realized why they think as they do.

I keep my cynicism behind closed doors. If I have catty remarks to make, I make them to my roommate. She has never met anyone I work with. If I think of funny yet hurtful things to say, I chuckle to myself and continue on with my day. If people do things that are dumb and funny, I wait to laugh at them until they've gone.

In short, I'm not any nicer than I was a year ago. I just hide my meanness better. Avoidance, I have learned, is one of my best methods for keeping the peace.

Some would argue avoiding people is a pansy's way of resolving conflict. In fact, it's dodging conflict. To some, it's an acknowledgement avoiders can't handle conflict.

My philosophy is this: I will face any conflict, head-on, that I know I can handle. When I'm in a conflict-appropriate situation. Work is not a place to have open conflicts. And when I actually fight somebody, trust me--that conflict is wide open. We're talking hole caused by a meteor open.

I try to avoid death and destruction of all kinds at work. That is why I'm hiding myself from the visiting manager. Because if he patronizes me, I'll explode.

Monday, January 7, 2008

In the Ghetto, in the Ghetto

When my roommate and I moved to our apartment in Salt Lake on the very last day of June, I was shocked in the best sort of way that my older brother actually helped with the whole moving process.  (If you've ever heard anything about the way my older brother and I interact, you would completely understand why I was shocked.  And also pleased, since he is my brother)  Anyway, his pronouncement upon first seeing the apartment was: "Katie, you're in the ghetto.  You've officially moved to a third-world country."  His reasons for that assessment were this: no dishwasher, a population that is roughly 70% Latino (with a 23% student population and 7% cranky-old-man population), a gaping holing of sub-floor, one window that wouldn't open, and a larger-than-usual average of cinder block.
Once all of the boxes had been unloaded and the helpers left, my roommate said, "I'll have you know we're only living in a second-world country.  I've lived in a third world country."  (At which point I thought, but didn't say, "Trust me, I remember.  When we were looking at apartments, you were excited if they had water, tending to forget that pretty much all places in America have that amenity.") 
As time has worn on, we've had our share of challenges.  The pipes are musical and apparently unable or unworthy of being fixed.  Not sure which, although the landlord actually looked at them a while ago.  We identify the D sharp tone now with five minutes of our own thoughts being driven out by the noise of the pipes.
The gaping hole of subfloor in the bathroom didn't get fixed until September, after some literal haranguing on my part and some well-done smoothing over while yet impressing the necessity of actually having tile in our bathroom on my roommate's part.
And then there is the joy that is our furnace.  We went through an insanely cold spell in October and our furnace was inoperable because nobody had actually bothered to connect all of the power pipes when they installed the thing.  Oh, how I wish I were kidding about that.  My roommate and I spent that whole week wearing sweaters and huddled under multiple blankets.
Then, the latest with our furnace: I ran a few errands Saturday afternoon and came back to an apartment that smelled like gas.  Because I have an extremely sensitive nose, I (in typical fashion) presumed that it wasn't too worrisome a situation.  Till my roommate got home and she noticed it.  Then we called my dad who talked us through a bunch of steps for lighting a pilot light before we realized that--hey!--our furnace is electric.  Then he realized that, in all reality, we should call the gas company.
The very nice gas company person came and we got an education on how our furnace works.  There were two leaks.  He mended one, but the other is internal.  I'd explain the technicalities of it, but I'm pretty sure I don't have the same capacity as the very nice man of explaining how it actually works.  Our furnace is now tagged and though we're not as cold as we were, it would be nice to go for a good long while without having any other maintenance issues.  Is that too much to ask??
I'm beginning to think my brother's right.  I live in a third-world country.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Confessions and Their Matching Resolutions

Confession #1: When I was thirteen, I wanted to see Titanic oh-so-badly. And why, pray tell, did I want to see this movie? Not because every girl in junior high ranted and raved about it. Not because I had a thing for Leonardo DiCaprio. I wanted to see it because I felt tingles every time I watched the music video for "My Heart Will Go On." I thought Celine Dion was speaking to my soul and the movie would too. Good thing my musical taste improved with age.

Resolution #1: Do not voluntarily listen to any Celine Dion music. Ever. Hey, I figure I should give myself at least one resolution that would be a cinch to keep.

Confession #2: Every year since I can remember, I've made a goal related to writing or publishing. Sometimes both. I've never met these goals because I'm a big fat scaredy-cat. I fret about things being bad; silly soul that I am, I tend to forget bad things can always be re-worked.

Resolution #2: Follow through with writing/publish resolutions. And stop being such a ninny.

Confession #3: Last year, I thought hard about giving up chocolate and I even tried it for a while (giving it up, that is--not trying eat it), because if I eat too much of it, it causes me massive amounts of head pain. I failed miserably at the giving it up idea. In fact, I may have induced at least one headache because I'd repressed the chocolate urge for so long I couldn't help but binge. I know. I have no will power.

Resolution #3: Moderation in all things is a true principle. At least, I'm pretty sure it is. So I resolve to eat less chocolate this year than I did last year. Because I know what will happen if I resolve not to eat it at all. Bad, bad things (*shudder*).

Confession #4: I don't remember the last time I saw the dentist. That's saying something, especially since I have a rather good memory. I can remember all sorts of things from my freshman year of college, but I can't remember the last time I saw the dentist. This could be a) because it's been a while or b) because I hate dentists and am purposefully suppressing. I can tell you this much: in a couple of weeks, I'll have been employed in my current position for one year. I've not seen a dentist since I started work here. In fact, I'm pretty sure the last time I saw a dentist, I was a junior in college. Somewhere in there. That makes it 2 or 3 years.

Resolution #4: I will go to a dentist this year while I still have insurance. Some time soon, since one of my teeth has been killing me. (Not literally, of course, I don't mean that it's got a gun and a vendetta. It just hurts. A lot)

Confession #5: I update my blog more often than I e-mail my brother on a mission. Something about writing to a general audience, getting feedback, feeling online-ishly published, getting fun comments from people I've never met in person (but most of whom I'd like to meet in person someday) . . .

Resolution #5: I will send my brother e-mails. By copying and pasting some of the more pertinent blog entries. And modifiying the tenses to make it more personal.

Confession #6: My room gets so messy that I have dreams about my roommate dying of clutter when coming in to find a book or DVD.

Resolution #6: I will keep my room tidier. Or at least clear a path to the bookshelves.

Confession #7: There is exactly one person at work that I can't seem to get along with. Ever. Possibly because I took her job and do it better than her. Also possibly because she has all of the personality all of a brick wall. Or perhaps because people like me and are rather vocal about it.

Resolution #7: Stop gloating. And stop letting others gloat on my behalf.

Seven seems like a good number. A lucky one, even. So and seven confessions just seems like a good number.

Also, I don't want to tell you too much :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Learning New Things

I have discovered something new, and I blame many MANY people for it.  You know who you are.
It's called Peircean semiotics and it involves lots of triangles.  And colors.  And personality traits associated with those colors.  I've been reading about it, non-stop, for the last two weeks.  (Well, non-stop as much as I possibly could; believe it or not, I'm sometimes actually required to do work at my job.  Odd, I know, but not entirely abnormal from what I hear)
And herein you shall find my lament: I'm struggling with a subject I find fascinating.  The theory.  Oh, I understand the theory.  I'm just having decided difficulties when it comes to putting the theory into practice.  Second-guessing myself.  It's a sad, sad thing.  And I know there's only one cure.  I need to find something I know, inside and out, to apply it to. 
And then ask above people I'm blaming for this interest if I'm smoking something and I've missed the point all together.
Drat my darned pride.  I so want this to be right, but deep breath and . . .
. . . maybe later.