Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

In Which I Return to Reality January 3, 2011

Happy 2011, everyone!

Tis I, your favorite unemployed writer/photographer/adventurer extraordinaire returned from the jungles of our nation’s capital and beyond. After three weeks of fairly solid R&R (my definition of which is admittedly a bit wonky and includes exploring the frigid streets of New York and Washington, learning to run hills because northern Virginia’s Escheresque laws of physics cause streets to only run on a steep, perpetual incline, and holiday activities such as taking our car to the mechanic twice and baking 657 cookies that I couldn’t eatΒ  due to my Christmas-crushing wheat allergy….), I’m returning to reality with superhuman motivation.

Par example: In three weeks’ time, the cats had transformed our cozy little apartment into a DEN OF DESTRUCTION. It was like a feline Lord of the Flies – reduced to their primal instincts in order to survive (never mind we have automatic feeders and a friend was checking on them every other day…), they’d removed two-thirds of the Christmas ornaments from our tree and hid them strategically (or not) around the house, dragged the faux moss from one of our houseplants into their litter box and somehow managed to track litter into *every* corner of the house.

But, with the precision of two seasoned cat owners, Jeff and I tackled the wreckage in a matter of a couple of hours (eat your heart out, FEMA). Then it was on to more important matters – namely, that I am still jobless. And yet, somehow I’ve managed to rack up a To Do list longer than Bernie Sanders’ filibuster. The common thread among the items on this list? The shared goal of putting my talents (besides my ability to balances sixteen water glasses on a single tray) to work. Granted, I can see that if I don’t act fast to get myself some kind of temporary back-up, I’ll be running into an old friend I like to call Financial Ruin. But even if I’m stocking quilted duvets at Bed Bath & Beyond or (god forbid) waiting a table or two again, at least I’ve got The Machine whirring away in the background. The gears have been greased. My list of Things and Stuff is rolling. I feel like I’ve been playing the role of starving artist ever since college and that maybe all I really need to do is push it just a notch harder, work just a little smarter, shrug this idea off my shoulders that creativity is for the privileged few, and make. it. work.

I may be getting a little redundant with this line of thinking, but if it’s a pep talk I need, then that’s what you all get as well πŸ™‚

Now – off to finish designing my business cards (finally finished my Photoshop tutorials *AND* got PS5 for Christmas!!) Oh – and today’s photo features Skipper, my canine companion in D.C., looking rather fearless, which I found apropos of today’s post. Also, he rocks a fauxhawk like nobody’s business and that alone makes it worth a look.

 

How Not to be a Rockstar September 14, 2009

9631_536941278496_28501299_31826005_6709213_n…Β  Jeff’s proposed title of the compelling bestseller he proposes I write. Not a bad idea, really, for a girl who spent a good 6 years pursuing a career in music, only to realize the pursuit had made her into something she was not. Into someone she did not envy or admire. And thus, she walked away from it all.

Not to say I was anywhere close to infamy. But those years did produce some pretty great stories of experiences both hysterical and terrible, both bittersweet and just plain bitter. SO maybe this is the new direction of my masters thesis… for the grad program I haven’t been accepted to yet…. because I’m still working on the application…. and because I can’t decided if it’s the right thing to do.

Which brings me to my next point.

Today is one of those thankfully rare days when, never mind all the a##-busting and name-taking you’ve been doing, you feel like you’re just not doing enough with your life. In fact, you can’t figure out what exactly you are doing, and why any of it hasn’t gotten you somewhere beyond serving shrimp teriyaki to college kids.

((Oh- great story – today, an elderly woman of questionable sanity walks in and tells the hostess that a friend recommended our sushi restaurant to her. For seafood. She is also allergic to shellfish. So when we settle on the seafood tempura, with only red snapper and salmon, I think it might just work out. I even bring her ketchup in lieu of cocktail sauce (Cocktail sauce. In an Asian restaurant. Seriously?). She looks pleased, but when I glance over a while later, she’s calling me over. “Honey… I’m sorry, but I just don’t taste any fee-ish in theya anywaya,” she says. She has eaten all the salmon, but the red snapper is there untouched. “I know it’s hard to see it with the batter, but these are the white fish,” I explain, pointing out all the fish she hasn’t eaten. “Well, I know forah fact they’s onions theya,” she says, pointing to the one white thing on her plate that, true, is not fish. Soon, I convince her to open up one of the “potatoes” so that she’ll see it is, in fact fish. She puts a small piece in her mouth. “Well that don’t taste like no fee-ish I evah had; try it,” she adds, actually offering me a piece of fish. I tell her that’s really okay, that I believe that she is unsatisfied with the fish and will see what I can do. I’m able to comp half of the price of her meal, tell her so, hand her the bill and get back to my other tables. Moments later, the hostess comes walks over and tells me the woman is at the front desk trying to get her bill decreased. I take a huge breath, trying to summon whatever patience I might have left. And to not drop my tray and run screaming for the hills. (Did I mention there is NO MANAGER ON DUTY??) Once again, I try to explain to her that we’ve already given her a huge discount on her meal. Somehow (and I’m a little foggy on the details here; I may have blacked out in order to save my head from exploding), I get her to pay 7 of the $7.51 she owed me. Victory? I’m still not sure.))

Clearly, my life is not glamorous.

But I don’t need it to be. The years in which I sought musical stardom (in one form or another) were some of my most exciting but undeniably my loneliest as well. I’ve traded it all in order to be true to myself, and was rewarded by meeting a most amazing partner. Together we traveled to a more happy latitude, and finally I live by the sea.

It’s like working on a puzzle, and your down to your last few missing pieces. But as soon as you find one that fits, you realize another has gone missing, and this continues until you feel like you’ll never get the damn thing together.

But if history repeats itself (and clearly it does) I know the feeling of being completely overwhelmed will only last so long, that tomorrow I’ll wake up with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism. Happens every time.

‘Til then I’m summoning my patience, not running for the hills.

 

The Incredible Disappearing Girl January 8, 2009

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But I can explain! I can.Β  There was this insane, almost two-week vacation (see preview above) I was granted during the holidays (from which I am still recovering but the busy week at work is preventing such things). But I will materialize in full force, New and Improved Girl, before you know it, and in the following mediums:

1) I have what may be my final show this weekend. At least for a while. It’s difficult to pound the pavement and sing frequently gut-wrenching songs that you wrote when you were a completely miserable, pessimistic Debby Downer once you’ve found serenity, hope and barf-worthy happiness in love. That, and I’ve been putting all these other projects on the back burner that I now think deserve their moment in the sun. Which brings me to….

2) A new blog. Never fear, Curiouser will remain as my personal blog. But, as I become increasingly enamored with my hometown, I wanted to find a way to express Columbus’ understated magic. While I don’t have the means to launch a publication (and besides there are too many of them – done poorly I might add, and the print format is losing steam in the current economy), I do have the ability to take what I’ve learned here and apply it to a new blog with a tighter focus. So… introducing “Keen on Columbus.” You can find it in its preliminary stages at http://www.keencolumbus.com, but content won’t really roll out for the next couple of weeks. And finally,

3) Curiouser will get its just deserts! The great Holiday 2009 post is on its way and can be expected this weekend. It is a bit of a massive undertaking, and is taking longer than normal due to the many breaks I have to take to avoid headaches as my mind strains to recall what the hell I was up to two weeks ago. It’s not the drugs, I swear πŸ˜‰

So, now I leave you with an xkcd that has only served to validate my paranoia and give it a new outlet.

All the best,

~a

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Animals? Lights? Animals AND Lights?!?! December 19, 2008

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Things We Learned From This Year’s Wildlights (our local zoo’s annual light display) Experience:

1) Wildlights = Good (but EFFING FREEZING) Times

2) I heart manatees. (And, apparently,Β  faux, light-up flamingos as well.)

3) Animals do not heart the cold. (Most were asleep in their indoor shelters, so – more lights than animals.)

4) Tights, cords, thick socks, fur-lined snow boots, t-shirt, sweater, fleece, fur-collared coat, hat and gloves = still not enough clothing for 2 hours of Wildlights.

5) There is a reptile called a skink. J hearts skinks.

6) Definitely something to do on an off night. I heard the lines for this thing on the weekends had reached up to two-hour waits. (Oh HELL no – I don’t wait two hours for much of anything). We went on a chilly, weekday evening and had the run of the place. In fact, there were plenty of moments when we found ourselves completely. alone. (muah-ah-ah…) πŸ™‚

7) The hot chocolate is at THE FRONT OF THE PARK. (Halfway through our tour of the zoo, we were jonesing badly for something toasty to drink; little did we know we’d passed the hot cocoa when we went left instead of right at the entrance. Granted, its discovery at the tail end of our trip made for a grand finale. Drinking hot chocolate with REAL whipped cream by a fire whilst watching the animated light show around the pond = priceless.)

** I hereby solemnly swear, from this moment to eternity, to never again use the word “heart” as a verb.**

~a

 

In Which I Time Travel (The Only Possible Explanation) December 10, 2008

So I’ve been awake now for, oh, 3 and a half hours, and, up until about 5 minutes ago, seriously believed with all my heart that today was Thursday.

I have just been informed otherwise.

I swear I’m 27 going on 77 sometimes.

Didn’t help that I awoke late and rushed out of J’s house to be greeted in the face by fat drops of 33-degree rain and gusting winds (which generally are blinding when you have very long hair).

Which gets me thinking – I don’t know about you, but the winter in the state I live in goes a little something like this: Mid-November the chilly rains set in. By December, the odds of having more than 2 sunny days in a row match those of winning the lottery. Temperatures will undulate just above and far below freezing for months, resulting in alternating rain and snow. This may end, if we’re lucky, by April. (Although, I distinctly recall moving out of my dorm in May one year of college in an endless frigid rain).

Must we bend to this inevitable nasty weather, hang our heads like drooping flowers and give in to hibernation and lethargy for 5 months?? Easy as it would be to give in to temptation and live in sweatpants and pajamas and watch marathon sessions of The Office until May, I have to believe I can do better, that my curiosity and joie de vivre can thrive even when my world is a popsicle.

I feel like we’ve been doing a good job so far…. but it’s only Month 1. If we look at this as a 5k, we’re just getting warmed-up. So, here are some ideas we’ve done, and some still to attempt. Granted, some of them are specific to my neck of the woods, but feel free to swipe them for your own, and to offer additions, too:

When the weather is chilly, but not too precipitous:

1) Take a road trip to a nearby shopping destination (I’m NOT talking outlet malls. Think more along the lines of tiny, quaint and/or eccentric locales with town squares or main drags dense with little shops and eateries – if you look hard enough, they’re everywhere). A dusting of snow generally triples or quadruples the nostalgia-factor.

2) Take in a play. Chances are, you definitely don’t do this enough when the weather’s grand (although, here we have a Shakespeare in the Park company that puts on relatively entertaining outdoor shows), so take this opportunity to discover a community theater or local company. Some of the small, fringe ones put on the most intriguing stuff, so if you’re not exactly up for another rendition of “The Sound of Music” or “Death of a Salesman,” try one of these instead. (They also tend to be much more affordable than traveling Broadway series-type shows).

3) Local music. I cannot toot my effing horn loud enough on this one:) Having been on the stage-side of the music scene for so long, I know the winter months are bleak for musicians. Do them (and yourself) a huge favor: cozy up in a warm, little venue (I’m not saying you must go to some piece of shite dive bar only to have your eardrums blown out by an uberloud punk band – unless you like that sort of thing), grab a beer or a glass of wine, and be serenaded by an acoustic duo or a bluegrass band… or a girl who maybe rocks the piano a little too hard πŸ˜‰ My roommate’s doing a holiday show in which she will front the band whilst tap dancing. Always ridiculously entertaining.

4) Go to the zoo. No. Seriously. I know it’s cold, but our zoo, and many others across the country, deck themselves in trillions of lights each holiday season, and usually offer features like ice skating, hot chocolate/cider stands and pics with The Claus’. Animals? Lights? Animals AND lights?? What’s not to love?

5) Go to the art museum. Yet another trip we don’t take nearly enough in the warm months, because, let’s face it, who wants to spend two or three hours indoors when it’s 78 degrees and blue-skied outside? Now, however, escaping into a brightly-lit, heated building sounds like a treat. Evil Twin and I have been known to hit up art museums whenever and wherever we can. One time we took the audio-tour of an Egyptian exhibit (with headphones that know which piece you’re standing in front of and give you details accordingly) and I can’t remember why the narrator was so hysterical (I think maybe he just sounded like a pretentious windbag, but who knows?), but Evil Twin and I couldn’t stop laughing at him, and because we had headphones on, our laughter was the only sound in the cavernous rooms and we kept getting dirty looks from the elderly volunteer woman. Awesome.

6) If it has snowed, but the temperature is tolerable, bundle the hell out of yourself, and go for a walk. Do it up right: slide around on the ice (J and I successfully redefined “ice dancing”),Β  stop to make snow angels in a fresh patch, nail each other with snow balls. Walk to a restaurant or coffee shop where you can warm up and drink something warm before heading home.

When it is just too effing cold to leave the house:

Before you resort to flipping on the television, please consult the following list:

1) READ!!! For the love of god, do not watch t.v. when there’s a good book around. (Check my reading list if you need suggestions)

2) Um. Blog? If you’ve got one, this is a good time to fatten it up a little.

3) Cook or Bake. Warm the house up by putting your oven to use. Now’s a great time to try out recipes you didn’t have time for before. AND you end up with something warm and gooey (and potentially chocolate??) to eat when done.Β  (Bonus if you make something that allows everyone to lick the bowl).NOTE: If you take the aforementioned dessert or meal and sit in front of the t.v. with it, you lose major points. Sit in front of the fire, or light some candles at the kitchen table, and chow down on whatever you’ve created while you watch the snow fall outside instead.

4) Clean the house. I know this sounds lame, but while Spring Cleaning gets all the glory, there’s something to be said for using all this time cooped up indoors to perk up your prison cell πŸ˜‰

5) I don’t know how to put this….. um…..”Quality Time” with your S.O., if you have one. And by “Quality Time” I mean whatever that means to you and yours. I put intimacy WAY before Lost reruns.

6) Get your friends together for Rock Band. Or find out which one of your friends has Rock Band and/or MarioKart capabilities, and organize a winter concert and/or tournament at their place. I used to be adamantly anti-video game, but with the advent of the Wii, these things are much more valuable – not only can I actually play them (due to the more obvious controls), but they require interaction and can be great social activities.

7) Devote some time to your inner artist. Whether you play music, draw, paint, sculpt, craft or write (or anything else I left out), spend some time doing a little art for art’s sake. No pressure. No deadline. Just your imagination and a couple of hours to give it some exercise.

8 ) Speaking of which, just because you can’t make it to the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t get a workout at your place. Plenty of free downloadable workout videos exist on the internet, or, if you have an animal like Gabe, give that sucker the attention he craves, and I guarantee you will both get a workout.

Right, well, my stomach has just informed me via strange noises that it is beginning to consume itself, so time for lunch. Promise I’ll be back to fill this list out a bit. At its current length, you’ll be out of ideas by New Year’s Day. While I scarf, please enjoy the following xkcd comic, entitled “No One Must Know“:

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~a

 

Trading Up December 8, 2008

Today, I post with a purpose, mes amis: to sing the praises of my favorite jungle of healthy sustenance, Trader Joe’s.

First, for those of you who do not live in one of the 23 states graced with these bastions of affordable organic wonders, allow me to paint a picture. Trader Joes’ (Trader Joe’ses??) are fashioned to appear as massive trade ships of exotic culinary treasures. Although relatively small compared to Whole Foods, Joe’s is packed with hard-to-find products, unusual produce and a staff that doesn’t look at you like you’re from another planet if you don’t smell like patchouli, make your own clothes and/or wear your hair in dreadlocks. Joe’s also has its own store brand that, in general, is EXTREMELY affordable (read: dirt cheap) and boast no artificial colors or flavorings.

For anyone who thinks they can’t afford such luxuries as organic or whole foods, you should know that on the whole, Trader Joe’s is even more affordable than my neighborhood grocery store (the only drawback being their size and specialty means I have to make a second trip to the regular store for certain items). Ok, I lied. There is a second drawback, and that is that there are only TWO Trader Joe’s in my city.

Seriously? You guys are always packed every time I take the trip out there; people love you; we would certainly love you even more if you were closer to home. (Pst…just by the way, Trader Joe’s, there is a really great furniture store that closed down and would make an exquisite location for something in the way of, say… a health food store?? Just a thought).

Perhaps, however, it’s not so bad that these stores require a mini-voyage. It makes the experience feel special, rather than mundane errand-running, and I definitely give myself the extra time to explore. (As a person with a wheat sensitivity, Joe’s has become a treasure hunt, with new gluten/wheat-free products showing up on every return visit: bagels, waffles, pumpkin bread, gnocchi… brownies!!) And, should you need any other reason to make the trip yourself, I have two:

1) A CNN study just rated Trader Joe’s fourth among “healthy” national grocery store chains (see full story here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/diet.fitness/11/11/Healthmag.healthiest.grocery.stores/ picture-23

2) A recent Facebook status thread reveals the secret behind Joe’s popularity with the female demographic:

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So, there you have it. Set aside an afternoon or even a Friday night (the store stays open ’til 10pm), and go explore the mounds of wild produce or foggy freezer aisles (and perhaps grab a bottle of well-priced organic wine, or experiment with a six-pack of an unknown import).

Enough with the plugs, though. Two and a half weeks until Christmas break (the company I work for gives us a mandatory 11 days off – we couldn’t come to work even if we wanted to – which we don’t, but still, a nice gesture). I’ll be out to my parents place for a few days, then down to North Carolina for New Year’s with J. Can’t wait to have the whole family together for Christmas, though. The Evil Twin will be coming up for the occasion, and little Bro will inevitably hitch a ride with me out to my parent’s place. The Gabe monster will get to go, too, and everything will be as it should be for a few days. And I feel lucky to say (because I’ve heard many a dysfunctional family holiday story from friends and coworkers) that this, for me, is what Christmas is about.

The only possible tiff I can see is that I bought the Evil Twin a present that I , myself, covet dearly, and I may, out of desperation, be forced to hide her gift (after she opens it of course), so that she will “accidentally” leave it behind, at which point I will have to make use of it until she returns so that it does not go to waste in the meantime.

(Kidding, of course! I would never!)

(Or would I?)

(Muah ah ah…).

~a

 

Cute Gone Bad… December 5, 2008

Filed under: happiness,humor,nanowrimo,thoughts,writing — curiouserx2 @ 3:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

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The economy being what it is, our lives ever in flux, our paths perpetually uncertain, it is more important than ever that we not take ourselves too seriously. So when I came across this little webcomic gem, I had to add it to the weblog, to pass it on to all of you. These “adorable” little icons will ensure that your heart never gets too heavy (and your head never gets too big). And, if I’m to be honest, this speaks to my inner freak (a good 2/3 of Meghan’s daily comics are pretty twisted).

Ah, Friday at last. And what will this weekend hold? One night off, one night babysitting and one day escaping the city to do a little Christmas shopping. Oh. Yeah. I’m 27 and still babysit from time to time. I actually find this activity refreshing and extremely valuable. Granted, I’m a free-spirited, wanderlusting Jill-of-all-trades today, but I feel in my gut that this will quickly change for me in the next few years, and it will do me well to get a little extra practice under my belt before that time comes. Besides, the four-year-old I babysit is fascinating. Some of the things that come out of this kid’s mouth – and the LOOKS she’ll occasionally fix you with – and the CRAP she’ll try to pull on you!! πŸ˜‰ She’s just enough of a challenge to be good for me and getting goofy with a kid 24 years your junior is amazing stress-relief.

Anyway, her mom keeps a really great photo-blog called Fish Food (you’ll see a link off to the right) I highly recommend to young parents or anyone with a heartbeat.

~a