Thursday, December 27, 2007


Apparently just coming to my weblog isn't enough to actually be able to read the most current posts. I've made changes and posts, and they're in the archive, but nothing I've done after the 23rd is displaying on my main page. It's very Groundhog Day.

And I know that after I post this, I'll be the only person able to read it unless a.) the problem is fixed, or b.) a visitor happens to check my archive. So it's like I'm talking to myself. HI ANDREA!!!!!

Well. In other news, I got a Christmas present that I'm really excited about: a digital sketchpad. Now I get to draw on the computer.... which is awesome because I love drawing and I haven't done anything artistic in years. I still sketch and make doodles all the time (and that's probably the majority of what my new gifs and jpegs will be-- doodles), but now I can do so much more with them. I can't wait to get home and hook it up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This year read more like a Bronte novel than a sitcom.

For the first time in my life, I wished that I weren't the youngest child in my family.

This Christmas, while full of thoughtful gifts and lovingly-made treats, was haunted with a heavy cloud. The cloud reeked with the passage of time and the inescapable end of a long era of familiarity for many of us in my family (that is, those of us who are not off living new lives with families of our own). Well, maybe I should just speak for myself. I moved out this year, and things just ain't the same back home.

We keep trying to make Christmas as magical as it used to be. We watch the same VHS-taped TV specials. We eat the same kinds of Christmassy snacks. We play the same taped-from-radio Christmas music cassettes that Dad made in 1986. But it doesn't work anymore, and nobody wants to be the wet blanket who comes out and says "It's not the SAME. We have problems and sadness that Christmas just can not fix this year. We don't have the money we used to, we have an uncertain and uncomfortable future ahead of us, we don't even have that dumb dog to cheer us up anymore-- and damn it, we TRIED! We tried to make everything as good as it used to be."

I wish I could preserve the sense of tradition and childlike wonder that has always accompanied the holidays. I sort of feel responsible for striking the final blow to my family Christmas. Nobody has done anything to make me feel guilty for it, but it doesn't matter. It's just how it works, being the youngest. As long as I believe in Santa, there will be presents labelled "from Santa" under the tree (which there aren't anymore, but that was just meant to be an illustration of a point). But I can't stretch it out anymore, the childlike tendency-- and we all know it.

It's the same as it was with that poor, aging dog we put down. None of us wanted to be the one to say "okay, that's it--" and pull the plug. But we knew that any more efforts to prolong her life would be fruitless, and maybe even a little cruel.

One day, I may have another dog. And one day, I rather intend to have a family of my own where Christmas can be everything I'm used to it being. In the meantime, Christmas will just end up taking some new form. I just hope I like it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Don't complain-- I could've given you syphilis.

Today was Christmas with all my brothers and sisters and their kids. Mom and I got back home from it all around 8:00, but I swear it felt more like midnight. You tell me: I'm 24, I'm young, I'm spry-- and I don't even OWN any of these kids-- if I'm tired out after six hours of them, how exhausted must their parents be? Geez.

For most of the kids, I bought Giant Microbes. I gave Nicholas the flu, Olivia strep throat, Haley whooping cough, Leo salmonella, and Natalie the common cold. I would have gotten a microbe for all 9 kids, but those five were the only ones at the store that weren't venereal diseases.

"Thanks for giving me the clap, Aunt Andrea" isn't something I want to hear on Christmas. That might just be me, though.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I actually have that one in paperback AND hardcover

When I came back home today, I spent some time in my old room looking at the obscene amount of books I've collected. I never sold back any textbooks-- for me, the payoff was not equal. I would rather have the resource of information in my posession than twenty sorry dollars that I'd probably just blow on, like... half of a sweater or something.

Not that I have actually gone back to use this wealth of information, mind you. I was really amused by the books I kept from my European History and International Studies classes (not that I took very many, but they really like to load you up with paperbacks for those liberal arts classes). I wondered if I should read some of those books again, because I cannot remember more than a fraction of the arguments I regurgitated for all those term papers.

Then I realized that I have a sort of stupid presumption about myself. I always think that I'm smarter at the present moment than I used to be-- or, rather, that information given to me today will stick better with me than information I received at an earlier age. For example, I'm convinced that if I read Havel's The Power of The Powerless today, that I would, like, TOTALLY get it. Not that I read it three years ago or anything. I swear I read that book, but I can not remember a single thing about it. But I'm so much more in control of my mental facilities these days, you see. I won't forget anything. That was then. This is now. blah, blah, blah. (Is the sarcasm coming through clearly enough?)

Heck if I know what any of that means.

What am I going to do with all of those books? I create such high hopes for myself by keeping them all. I don't want to give up on them, because MAYBE I will need to look something up. Someday. Or MAYBE I just want visitors to think I'm more well-read than I really am. How disgusting.

Someday they'll be vintage (and obsolete, yes, but that's neither here nor there)-- and perhaps they will become an addition to a stunning university library. Naturally, that'll be after I cure cancer and have a university named after me. But one thing at a time, here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

time to bring out the vomit salt

No matter where I am, I can still recognize the sound of a school bus. There's one that drives by every afternoon-- I've never even seen it, but it sounds the exact same every day, and I don't really even need to see it to prove to myself that it's a school bus.

The very sound of it, to this day, still makes my stomach knot up. It brings up a lightning-fast stream of thoughts-- "i'm late for the bus. i'm supposed to be somewhere else. someone threw up on the bus. i didn't do my homework. frau thellmann's gonna kill me. where am i going to sit in the cafeteria today? i bet i got another peanut butter and jelly sandwich. my life sucks." and then the pulse of adrenaline is gone, and suddenly I'm back to being a grownup in a cubicle.

What a relief.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I think co-workers are one of life's more underrated pleasures.

Maybe I've just gotten lucky... five times in a row... but I've had nothing but overall pleasant experiences in the jobs I've held. Coworkers give me a chance to talk to people I normally wouldn't have anything in common with. And what's more so, they surround me with real characters...and thus, endless entertainment.

People-watching and group dynamics are art forms that will never get old for me. At least, I hope they never get old.

A day at work is full of subtle nuances that validate the art of people like Scott Adams and the writers of The Office. I mean, there really IS a co-worker who keeps the office door open and yells confidential information into the speakerphone. There IS always someone in your depatment who you suspect may be a form of artificial intelligence. There ARE useless meetings to which everyone brings crossword puzzles and snacks (if they can get away with it).

But really, I love that stuff. I love the nuances. The little quirks throughout the day that let you exchange knowing glances with the other "normal" co-workers who notice them, too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

But I'm not one of THOSE people, am I?

Sometimes, thoughts about the future make me panic like a spooked horse.

I think what I fear is choosing to do something, and then not being able to back out of it or change my mind. Or, perhaps, not being able to change my mind without unacceptable consequences. Experts may call that "fear of committment."

I never thought of myself as a "fear of committment" kind of person. I'm not one of them. I'm one of the good people! I'm someone people are supposed to be able to depend on. Or at least, that's what I'd like to be.

But I'm afraid of being trapped.

I don't like this. It's not a good way to be. I'd like to be able to comprehend committing to things that actually matter in life, and not be hung up on the what-ifs. I'm afraid that I'd always wonder if I had made the right choice or not, and maybe even hate myself for doing the wrong thing (or worse, maybe I'd be inclined to take it out on the unfortunate others I committed to).

As I write this, I recognize it as an immature attitude. This is not the person I want to be. I hope I grow out of it. I really do. But isn't there something to be said for recognizing the severity of the consequences of one's actions?

I feel that major decisions generally shouldn't be made if you can't really throw yourself behind your choice. Ah, but it's so hard to choose when so many things in life are no longer matters of black and white.

I suppose as we go along we just make choices and then live with them, and that there's really no way any responsible person can get around that.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another year of being fabulous

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

On this day, December the thirteenth, in the year of our Lord nineteen-hundred eighty-three,
*ahem* I was born.

Other December 13 birthdays of note:
Dick Van Dyke
Christopher Plummer
Jamie Foxx
Ted Nugent
Taylor Swift

The other EID fellow working in my lab, Missy, made me Funfetti cupcakes and decorated my cubicle with pop-up post-it notes. She had bought these off-brand pop-up post-its earlier, and they neither stuck to anything, nor accepted ink very well. We wondered aloud what we could do with the rest of the post-its. Someone suggested that they might be good for decorating purposes if they were sort of stretched out (since with these post-its, the opposite ends of each alternating piece of paper are glued together). They had potential. But alas, these indeed being made of off-brand adhesive, they fell apart. So by the time I got to work this morning (Missy arrives earlier than I do), the decorations had fallen apart and my desk was just plain covered in yellow post-its.

She also bought me a gift: Post-it brand pop-up post-it notes, and a dispenser.

Today is a very good day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

April-December? No thanks.

I wanted to bring it to the attention of the world that I got my very first Dirty Old Man Pick-Up Attempt this week.

I was picking up a prescription at the drugstore, and I had to give my phone number to the pharmacist behind the counter. This old guy sitting in the waiting area blurts out, "CAN I CALL YA? HEH HEH HEH"

Y'know, they all said my life would change when I moved to Richmond...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

No title, thank you

I think I need one of these shirts.

I bought a Mental Floss book last year, and it was a worthy purchase. Maybe I should subscribe to the magazine.

I'm so tired today.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rock you like a hurricane

I bought a new cd this weekend, and I'm almost embarrassed at how much I'm enjoying it.

20th Century Masters: The Millenium Collection: The Best Of Scorpions.

This purchase comes straight on the heels of having watched This Is Spinal Tap on DVD-- both the feature film and an hour's worth of deleted scenes. So while I'm enjoying some major guitar riffs, most of the time I'm imagining the lovable Nigel Tufnel being the one who's threading those hot licks. And to me, it's David St. Hubbins singing in a rock-whisper at the beginning of "Still Loving You." And those are happy thoughts.

But still... I love the music.

Best $7.39 I've spent recently.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Here we are, as in olden days

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Truer words were never spoken, boy.

I think I WILL have myself a merry little Christmas. Now.

The years go by, and I get sappier. Cripes, I can't wait for the year when "Auld Lang Syne" makes me sigh and slump down in my office chair. That can't be too far off.

Really, though, the version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" that Bert and Ernie sing in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street tugs at my heart strings-- especially since Mr. Hooper is there in that scene, too. Ah, the faithful friends who are dear to us.

It's so awful to lose people. It doesn't even have to be an especially near-and-dear loss to be worth remembering. Sometimes I think about the teachers who made such a difference to me back in elementary school. I'm sure many of them (some, I know for a fact) are gone.

People are so important. Christmas is a great time of year to think about all the things they add to your life. I feel that who we are-- the conglomerate identity of each person-- is really just a collage, a smattering of papers and daubs of paint, that everyone adds to. And wherever you go, whomever you spend your time with-- these things add to your texture and color and make you the piece of art you are. Whether you like it or not.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas cards

Yesterday I had a mission: Christmas cards.

I wanted to be really creative and put together some kind of special, handmade Christmas cards for my friends, so I went to Ben Franklin's (the poor man's Michaels) to pick up some dandy supplies. I really should've brought some of my art supplies with me when I moved, but I figured I'd be so science-science-science-all-day-all-night that I wouldn't have the time or desire to do anything creative. That has, in fact, turned out to be the case, but I digress.

Unfortunately, after going up and down every craft-ridden aisle in the store, I just couldn't come up with the inspiration or the materials necessary to make a card (let alone 20) that I could be proud of. I used to like rubber stamping, but somehow I just felt my friends deserve better than the tired, campy, stamped-up cardstock I would have churned out. It's cute if Aunt Doris or whoever uses rubber stamps and embossing powder and crazy crafty scissors to do 'em up real nice, but I just lack the funds and personal drive to do rubber stamps the way God intended.

So I bought cards at Target.

I actually think they're pretty cute.

But then, there's the rub. Why just cute? Christmas is so much more than that. Even if you don't believe the same things I do, Christmas should still capture the spirit of It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol (namely the Muppet version). And the older I get, the more those movies mean to me, and I can only assume the same is true for my friends. So isn't it appropriate to try and send cards with such in mind?

However, I have not yet found an age-appropriate, stylish card that relates any real feelings. The message is always something very surface and trite. "Have a nifty holiday." "Seasons Greetings, you thing you."

Invariably, when I find a card with a meaningful message, the front is some sappy oil painting of a rustic, snow-covered lodge or something. And what's the point of sending a card if the front half just isn't interesting to look at?

I would love a card that combined some sort of hip, vintage Christmas picture with the kind of message I really want ("Oh my God, it's CHRISTMAS! And we're all still friends, and we're alive, and we have food and water and presents and people who love us! Isn't it freaking awesome?").

I just settled for "cute" this year.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I ain't got the time

I think music is a lot like books.

A bit too much attention is paid to the top 40 (in terms of books, that would be Oprah's Book Club or the New York Times Best-seller List)-- meanwhile, there are generations of musical works and literary works that-- if they're lucky and they play their marketing just right-- get their day in the sun and then are never appreciated again.

A good education usually includes knowledge of the classics, both musical and literary, and then one's own taste takes over in adulthood. Then most people's exploration of music rarely goes beyond the Top 40. I guess most people don't read a whole lot, either.

I think iTunes is the equivalent of Cliffs notes for music. And maybe blogs are the equivalent of radio for literature. It takes out the work/pleasure (depending on your view) of investing time in listening to an entire album or reading an entire book/article -- you just cut out the middleman, so to speak, and buy the one popular hit you wanted. Or you cut straight to the point of the story. Or, in cases of blogs and radio, you cut straight to what someone else thinks is important.

I wish there were radio stations that played not just to entertain and have background music, but maybe with programs that really explore sub-genres and artists and meaning behind music. A station where the DJs are not prattling nitwits that just provide noise, but are knowledgable about real music and all the things that go into the art.

I guess I could've gotten that knowledge if I had taken music classes in college. But I really didn't have time. What a shame.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Making a difference

Most of us say to ourselves, at one time or another, that we want to make a difference.

I wonder how many of us ever come to a point where we feel we're making a difference. A significant difference-- significant enough to satisfy whatever urge it was that led us to desire such results from our life in the first place.

I'm pretty sure there's no standard rubric for knowing when you've done the right thing with your life and when you haven't. Once I might've said that you could probably just plain know when you were doing the right thing, but honestly-- I find that a lot of people seem to know a something or other that just plain happens to be untrue.

Well, crap, there's a big can of worms right there. Maybe I don't want to go down that road.

I wonder if any of us will ever really know if we made a difference, or if we'll just convince ourselves that we did the best we could (even if we didn't), and simply have to be content with that.

Wait, I think I just described life.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Don't look at me.

I went to yoga class yesterday. I got there kind of early, so I had to stand around for a few minutes before I was allowed to go in the room (it's held in a room at a very large gym facility).

I wonder sometimes if I should take some kind of tranquilizer before going to the gym. While that may seem counterintuitive, the intent is that I could go to the gym and simply exercise without being visually hyperstimulated by the crowds of gym bunnies and meatheads flailing around on elaborate pieces of machinery.

The closest I can get to such a state of blissful ignorance is visual ignorance; i.e., not wearing my contacts. All the details of bright, reflective footgear, and ruddy, sweat-smeared faces aren't clear enough to distract me.

Also, there's nowhere to look when you're just standing there at the gym. Look to the right, and there's a legion of thirtysomethings on the stairmasters and rowing machines. Look to the left, and there's some dame doing her pre-yoga warm-up stretches. She's already got her shoes off and everything. How can ya walk around a gym barefoot? Like, "I am sooo spiritually centered that I want to be one with the energy of a thousand bodies sweating in unison."

There's something so vulnerable and intimate about seeing people exercise. I sure-as-pectoralis major can't do it, and darn if I want anyone watching me, either. I think it's sort of voyeuristic.

Taking actual classes at Das Gymnasium doesn't make me feel as violated, though. In the enclosed yoga room, nobody's there except for to take the class. We're all just a group of bendy chicks in awkward positions that render us unable to look anywhere except the backs of our knees.

Also, no cute guys in yoga. Ever. Thank God.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I often find myself getting annoyed by how not in a hurry all the drivers around here seem to be. On Saturday this was the case as well. I just wanted some efficiency in my driving, gosh darn it.

But suddenly I asked myself, "Why am I always annoyed with other people's slow driving?"

I guess if I were always late, that would be one thing. But I'm usually on time. And driving-- I enjoy it. I'm not anxious to get off the road.

Who am I mad at? Am I really mad at the driver in front of me? Or am I mad at myself for having such inner stress that I can't take a simple trip to the mall without being overcome by its innate disorder and chaos?

There's no peace in being a person driven by a need for order. Order... balance... justice... whatever. And I'm not quite sure that either the productivity or the self-satisfaction yielded by such a drive is enough to compensate for how cumbersome it can be on the things that don't really matter.

I still straighten hangers at stores. while shopping.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

home is where the mattress is

I came home from "home" this morning.

When I was with my friends and family, it seemed like I had never left Ohio. Walking around Easton with Beth was just like it had been the last time we walked around Easton. Lunch with Mary and dinner with Tami gave the same satisfaction it did back when I lived in Columbus. And, as usual, I didn't want to leave town to come back when I had to. But the minute I stepped into the Richmond airport, I was quite comfortable with being back here.

It's nice that it isn't a big ordeal, going back and forth from "home." I do entertain the thought of staying here after my fellowship is over (although I would not stay here long-term unless I had a very good reason-- I currently do not have one). I think it would be relatively easy to live here and still keep Ohio in my life.

Of course, I miss living life with my friends. But that may be a cost I should consider paying one day, because I have to go where the future is.

I still worry about what my decisions will do to the people who hope I'll do one thing or another. Honestly, sometimes all I want is for everybody to be happy (with me?). I know what a stupid thing that is to hope for, because it'll never happen. And I know that's not the point of making decisions about your own life. But I feel bad when people are disappointed, whether it was something I could have helped or not.

I spend a lot of time feeling bad about everything. I feel bad that people do asinine things to people who don't deserve such treatment. I feel bad that, half the time, I'm the one doing (saying) asinine things to the people who don't deserve it. I feel bad that the things we love can't stay the same and the things we hate, we can't make go away. I feel bad that it's just impossible to make people happy-- really happy-- with light entertainment and pop culture references.

I'd like it if the guilt complex could go away. Simple logic has, to date, not been enough to do so.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why the makeover?

A lot of changes--major changes-- have happened in the past few months. As a result of the ol' changing of the life seasons, my personal life has taken a nosedive. And what is the appropriate response when one's personal life takes a nosedive? One blogs.

Yesterday we had to put down our dog, Abby. We had her for 15 and a half years. It hurts a lot to know she's really gone now, but in a way I feel it's symbolic of a lot of old things wrapping up in my life.

When I was in my early college years, Abby was starting to get older and slower, and I was afraid of her dying at any given time. I made her promise she wouldn't pass away until I had found a nice boy to settle down with. Because, I mean, how could I make it in life without my trusty dog unless I had found someone else who could be comparably trusty?

Last month (when I came home for a friend's wedding, actually) I had to release her from our pact. Not that she had ever verbally agreed to stave off death until I held up my end of the deal, but she sure did hang on to life for a suspiciously long amount of time. I wondered if perhaps I had been unfair in expecting her to live forever-- or at least until *I* was ready to live without her.

Anyway, things in life often don't turn out the way we'd like. That fact becomes a little more real to me every day.

And it leads me to suspect-- maybe I've been living in the past. Or at least holding on to it for an inappropriately long amount of time. I think I have to grow up a little more. Again.

I wish everything were funny again.

But-- while the lack of bright, distinct humor and levity certainly makes an impact on life, it does not ruin it! There IS more to write about. There IS more to discover and discuss. There has to be. And I want to find these things that are worth being found. And maybe-- maybe--write about them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New blog, new you

Welcome to the weblog re-launch. It's like a lame party thrown by your neighbors-- you're not that sure you want to go, but you'll feel bad if you don't at least stop by.

Follow me in my new, wacky, Viriginia-flavored misadventures.

What's nice is that everyone can leave comments, or so I understand (but that doesn't mean they will).

This blog is a continuation of my xanga blog that, I feel, has jumped the shark. So let's look at this new blog as a sort of "cousin oliver" addition... or maybe a switch to a new network to raise the Nielsen ratings.