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.