Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday introduces Jerry

Christina: Your Christmas sounds like a good one! I sometimes wish I had a bigger family to be around during the holidays. Mine is tiny.

Cassie: I think I know that guy you kissed onstage. And it truly is surprisingly easy for a girl to reach the age of 21 and remain undated, unkissed, unattached. Read on for blandly un-sordid details. And everyone, Monday’s boyfriend is wonderful. They are amazing together.

Alexandra: I like your story. Very matter-of-fact, but with an interestingly romantic (if slight) bent to it. Sometimes, when you know, you know. Hope you had a good honeymoon!

So I’m a bit torn when it comes to telling romantic stories. I have a whole lot of dumb, lame anecdotes involving persons entirely unsuited for me. And I have one amazing, almost-seven-month-long anecdote involving person entirely suited for me.

For the sake of humor—and Anything for Humor, right?—I will first tell you about Jerry.

Around homecoming season of my junior year of high school, my best friend at the time had just started dating a guy named Josh. He went to a different high school from us, and asked her to go to his homecoming dance with him. Of course, she could not go alone, so she dragged another friend (Heather) and me with her.

Josh had two friends who were to be our dates. Heather’s date’s name was Mike, and he was entirely nondescript and therefore shall not be mentioned further. My date’s name was Ryan, and he was touted to me as the most fun-loving, caring, enjoyable fellow. It was hinted more than once that we might be just perfect for each other. I began to get excited about the dance.

Fast-forward to the day of the dance, four hours before the doors open.

Ryan is sick.

Enter Jerry.

Have you ever seen Napoleon Dynamite? Ok, good. Imagine Kip (Napoleon’s brother), in a grey version of Napoleon’s leisure suit, with Uncle Rico’s haircut. Now make him five feet tall and incapable of functional social interaction.

That’s Jerry.

I don’t think Jerry was even still in high school. I’m pretty sure he had dropped out, even though he was our age.

We went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant where I had contracted mononucleosis only months before. I don’t remember what I got, but I remember that Jerry got a salad. Which he did not eat.

Carlyn, attempting to make conversation: “Do you, uh, not like your salad?”

Jerry, attempting to attempt to make conversation: “… I have food allergies.”

Carlyn: “Oh.”

Jerry, attempting to attempt to attempt to make conversation: “… Do you have any food allergies?”

Carlyn: “… No.”

That’s basically the extent of the conversation we had.

I spent a good portion of the dance avoiding him in the bathroom.

My friend tracked me down and coerced me into one slow dance with him, which he took advantage of by grabbing my wrists and, I kid you not, swinging our arms wildly and hopping around in what I can only imagine to be… Never mind. I can’t fathom what in the world he thought that was. But it was better than actually slow-dancing with him.

At the end of the night, we all made our way back to my friend’s house for a bonfire. She and her new boyfriend were all aglow with post-dance endorphins, and Heather and I were avoiding our dates as best we could. We decided to make a run for it, citing work the next day.

As we said our goodbyes, Jerry seized the moment and asked me to be his girlfriend.

I was dumbfounded.

I told him I was seeing someone, which was a downright lie.

That was the last I ever saw or heard of Jerry.

I’m going to save my better romantic story for another week, as this post is already getting about as long as I write ‘em these days. I hope you have enjoyed the Story of Jerry.

Have a good New year, everyone! I’ll see you in 2012.

Tuesday is Back From her Honeymoon

Which is as relevant a segue into romance as I can make. Obviously, my romantic life is doing well, as I am married and living with my husband and I'm not sure where we can move from that. I have mentioned before that I was in a relationship with a Japanese man a few years my senior, back in high school. He is a nice guy, but we haven't talked in a long while. He's been in a bit of a rut since his brother died, hasn't talked to many people but his boyfriend.

I've never really had any other relationship, and to say my first one was conventional is certainly a stretch. Age difference, long distance. I mean, I got my firsts from the guy (and I will leave it at that), so it counts in that regard, but... it was very casual. It was a friendship with some fun, I guess. That sounds crude, perhaps, but it was just what it was, not much else to say. We broke up when he decided he'd try to settle down with Masashi, but it was on pleasant terms. I basically didn't date again for about seven or eight months, which is when I met Al.

And Al, well, we were hardly normal. We met in August and were engaged by November. We met when we were both out of work and out of school (at least for the time - he got a job two weeks later and I started school up around the same time), so we hung out every day often for hours on end. We did the movie and dinner thing, but we also spent hours on the couch watching movies and playing video games. We were... upfront with each other. I think we discussed every topic you're not meant to talk about on that first date. Past relationships, abortion, children, marriage, politics, religion. Neither of us could date a theist, I don't think. It's one thing to know a few, even love a few in a strictly friendly way. But to discuss a life of hard choices and maybe, who knows, child-rearing with somebody who, ultimately, has beliefs we fundamentally cannot agree with is just not a possibility for either of us.

I think, coupled with the fact that I had a terrible landlord and a worse apartment at the time, we just... we compacted the year or two's worth of dates, discussions, and dreams into about two months. And over the nine months until our wedding, with Al injured and out of work, visiting my family in New York, struggling with finances, with school, with immigration... I think we just covered it all in a year and we're young (him less so, perhaps), neither of us has a long history of relationships, but I think we're both mature enough and honest enough to know what we were getting into and nothing in the past year since I agreed to marry him has changed my opinion on that matter.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mondayszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Whoops! Sorry, girls. Fell asleep there a minute.

I don't know about any of you, but on Monday's end, it has been an exhausting holiday. A great one, but an exhausting one, and I am looking forward to finishing this post, curling up in my Christmas jammies, and heading off to sleep

Anyway, I loved reading about all of your holiday traditions, and was surprised to see how similar some of them were to my own! I hope everyone's holiday has been wonderful and relaxing and enjoyable!

On to today's topic: relationship stories.

Here's a secret: Discounting the one I'm currently in, I've never been in a romantic relationship before. I mean, I've had crushes, and I've been on things that others called dates that I certainly do not (it was supposed to be a group thing, everyone else bailed, and his mom was along. Not a date, folks. Not a date.), but I've never been in an actual relationship. I'd never been out on a date, and I'd never been kissed  except for onstage encounters (most of them with the same guy . . . )

See, I went to high school with a group of peers who were vastly different than myself. My school was very much part of a farming community, and all the guys were in the FFA and liked to hunt and either played football or wanted to, and here was this weird, artsy girl who sang and liked theatre. For the most part, we didn't have much to talk about.

So the pool of potential dates dwindled to the guys I did theatre with a town away, and I don't know what you've heard about theatre guys, but a lot of the stereotypes are true -- meaning, a decent percentage of them are gay. I had the hugest crush on my best friend for a year and a half -- took him to my senior prom and everything -- before he came out of the closet. I think a part of me always knew, but I was still crushed.

So, I came to college, and I was just too busy, you know? And the one time I did manage to develop a major crush on a guy I was in a show with, I practically threw myself at him and he remained oblivious. After that, most of my friends focused down to the members of my fraternity, who were almost all either gay (theatre fraternity) or already taken, and I decided it just wasn't worth it. After all, I was a strong, independent woman. I was in college to get a degree, not a boyfriend, and I didn't need a man in my life to define me.

So how easily can a girl reach the age of 21 and remain undated, unkissed, unattached? Turns out, surprisingly easily.

Enter the Pledge Class of 2010.

The story of how my boyfriend and I met is not particularly interesting, largely because I honestly don't remember, and neither does he. It was certainly not an "eyes meet across a crowded room and all sound of the conversation around us dwindles as the orchestra swells to indicate that this, this is a significant moment." I'd seen him in a couple shows without really remembering, and when we'd voted in the class, he was one of the three names I had to check photos on to be sure I had the right person in my head. Our first real conversation was during pledge interviews, where the pledges of Theta have to interview so many members as part of their process. His was one of several that happened one night at the pizza parlor after our meeting. It was slightly unusual because we went off on a half-hour tangential conversation geeking out about Harry Potter and Firefly. Then he left and moved on to his next member, and I thought, "He was pretty cool. Who's next."

Terribly romantic, huh?

Probably the most interesting thing about the start of our relationship was that his jaw was broken at the time. Shortly after the night of the interview, he was mugged on his way home from a party. I remember getting the email from the fraternity president and thinking, "Oh, no, and such a nice guy, too!" I remember declining the invitation to visit in the hospital because I thought it would be weird, since we didn't know each other very well. I remember admiring his stamina and determination when he went through the next pledge event on low pain meds with a broken jaw and fractured vertebra, determined to complete the process even if he had to be stoned out of his mind at the time.

We started really talking at Theta's weekly study tables. And that's when the spark really began. He started asking each week if I'd be there the next. I started hanging by the door, waiting for him to walk in. We both made sure to arrange the walk at the end of study tables so that we would end up walking next to each other over to the meetings. Then there were the eye-catching moments across the room during the meetings, the goodbye or congratulatory hugs that lasted just a little too long, and finally, the invitation to coffee that I couldn't accept because I was going out of town for a week, followed by walking me home after some event and the first kiss goodnight.

Not a whirlwind romance, to be sure. Not a wild, crazy, sweep you off your feet losing of heads and minds. Not the gooey, gushy, crazy fairy tale romantic stuff I always thought I'd be in for when I pictured such things. But honestly, having been in this relationship for almost two years, and knowing with utter certainty that it will be lasting for many, many more, I can look back and say that this was really perfect for the two of us. There is love and trust and friendship, and it's been steady and sure from day one, which may make for a less exciting love story, but I think, in many ways, a truer one.

And now that I've waxed poetic, I'm going to wrap this up, say Happy Holidays to you all, and I'll see you again in the new year!

Week 42: Romance is in the air

Sorry. Christmas fail at posting topic. Here 'tis.

Romantic relationships- any good stories from the past (horror or otherwise)?

Look for me later today!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Traditional Friday

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and all other holidays!

My mom is Christian and my dad is Jewish, so we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in my little family. Really, we've celebrated Christmas my whole life, but it wasn't until I was around five (I think) and learned about Hanukkah that we started celebrating that too (my dad isn't a practicing Jew, so it was at my insistence). The main holiday is still Christmas though.

As I write this post I am partaking in my family's biggest Christmas tradition- we're staying with my aunt and uncle in Massachusetts. All of my mom's and dad's families live in Massachusetts and Connecticut, so we always come out here for Christmas (and Hanukkah, though we're not always out here during the actual eight days, since they don't always fall during the same time as vacation). This year, however, we are here for Hanukkah (right now) and we'll be seeing my dad's family for a Hanukkah dinner too! I don't get to go to many authentic Jewish holidays with my family, so I enjoy it when I can. Anyway, I'm digressing. So, my parents and I come out to New England for Christmas every year. I enjoy it out here. Two of my aunts (the ones we stay with when we're out here in the winter and summer) live in rural, Western Massachusetts. It's a bit middle-of-nowhere, but in a way that I like. When I was younger I dreaded losing cellphone service while out here, but now I don't mind- it's nice to have a break from my phone.

Really, my family is a bit boring in that we don't have any real traditions except getting together at my aunt's house for Christmas (it's been the same aunt for as long as I can remember, except for one year when we gathered at another aunt's house since the former was doing renovations). Oh, we also do a gift exchange among the adults instead of having everyone get everyone else a gift. The children get gifts from everyone until they're 18 and then they have the choice of joining the exchange or not. I'm doing it this year and got paired with one of my aunts, which is lucky because I've found it hard to get a good present in previous years when I got paired with one of my uncles!

Hmm... other traditions... I suppose it's traditional by now that everyone arrives about two hours later than they said they would. It seems like we open presents later and later each year, though that also probably has something to do with the fact that all the children are college-age or graduates now (save one or two grandchildren who are sometimes here) and therefore aren't as much-open-presents-now excited.

Of course there's the food too, generally everyone chips in and makes a little something. This year I'm making carrot cake as one of the desserts (there are multiple, of course). I actually made it tonight so that the kitchen will be less crowded on the actual day. It smells so good though, I need to just ignore its existence for the next two days.

Well, that's it for now because I am falling asleep as I type. Goodnight and Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday does things a little differently these days

Christina: Welcome back! I’m glad you have traveled safely and hope you continue to do so.

Cassie: Boy oh BOY does your family make candy…

Alexandra: Your Christmas sounds like it is going to be wonderful! Enjoy your travels. I vote Tardiness Amnesty : )

My family is a dynamic creature, and so are our holiday traditions. For Christmas, when I was young, we would all hop in the car about two weeks before Christmas and go pick out a tree. We would then take it home and decorate it with family-favorite ornaments to a soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, my mom’s parents would make the two-hour drive from Mom’s hometown to join us for Christmas Eve church service and Christmas the next day. That night, my sister and I would stay up late plotting a scheme that would get us to our presents without waking up Grandma and Papa, who slept in the room where the tree stood. We would have a hard time falling asleep and then wake up at quarter-till-too-damn-early in the morning, crawl around the house to our stockings, sneak back to open them in one or the other of our bedrooms, re-pack them, sneak back to the fireplace, and put our stockings back, to pretend we hadn’t opened them at all.

We would wait as long as we could possibly force ourselves to wait and then ever so gently awaken our parents by sneaking into their room and whispering, “Mom! Dad!” until we annoyed them enough to make them awake. Then we all went to where Grandma and Papa were waking up and opened presents. We had dinner at around noon, which was always (as per Papa’s insistence) a deli tray—a food variety that no self-respecting child should ever enjoy. Then we spent the rest of the day enjoying our presents and doing a whole lot of nothing.

We do things quite a bit differently these days. For one, we no longer put up a tree. Several years ago, we decided that it would be easier and just as fulfilling of Christmas tradition obligations just to cut a tree shape out of foamboard and decorate it with construction-paper replicas of favorite ornaments. It’s the best tree ever; we unfold it afresh every year and prop it up against the wall, no watering or pine-needle-stepping-on required. This year, we made a new construction paper replica of our advent calendar.

My family has liberalized quite a bit in recent years, not a little bit due to our lessened (for many of us, eliminated) religious inclinations. We no longer go to Christmas Eve church (or church at all). It is quite a relief to be part of a family that doesn’t guilt its members into going (though Grandma might, if she had her way).

My sister and I no longer connive over Christmas-morning-goings-on. We stay up late watching TV and sleep in, getting to presents when we’re good and ready to be awake. Most years, Mom and Dad are awake before one or both of us.

Dinner now happens at normal dinner time, 5 pm or later. And it consists of lasagna and garlic bread instead of a nasty deli tray (everything on those stupid things tastes like pickles anyway) and all our favorite accoutrements and desserts.

The only thing that really remains the same is that we spend the rest of the day enjoying our presents and each other, only it’s a whole lot better than it was when I was growing up.

So that’s my family Christmas “tradition.” A very Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday is Festive

As a child, holidays were primarily celebrated by not attending school. My family was, back a couple of generations, atheistic - we didn't even acknowledge Easter, and Christmas was - as it is for many Americans - a chance to exchange gifts. I didn't like the music, the decor was mostly annoying (we had to move the dining table into the living room to make room for the tree), and I was mostly content to just have my birthday for the gifts (though, hey, a Wii? I'll take it).

As an adult, maybe even just in the past couple of years, I have grown to like the atmosphere. I like the decor, I like the feelings, I like the carols - sans the ones sung by Justin Bieber - and I like Christmas. Of course, as an adult, I don't really exchange presents. My parents might send me a check, and my mother-in-law took me out to get a pedicure and we went clothes shopping together, but really, we don't have so much as a wreath and no physical gifts have been purchased. The only gift I've given was Skyrim, for Carina (my BGSU friend).

Of course, this year, I am going to Disney World. Specifically, in fact, I'll be at Universal for Christmas. Harry Potter World for Christmas - talk about magical. :)

Regarding the other holidays... well, there really is nothing to say. I never liked Thanksgiving, because aside from the pumpkin pie, the food doesn't really appeal to me. I'm not one to keep from the spices and cheese, and turkey roasts get a baste at much, the stuffing is too gritty to eat, and everything else is just buttered vegetables and the highly questionable 'cranberry sauce'. Until I moved up here, Thanksgiving was an excuse to see my grandpa, which... wasn't much. My grandma came over, too, but she came over no less than twice a month, sometimes twice a week, so it didn't really matter. These days, Thanksgiving is (a) on Columbus Day, and (b) a torturous event in which I need to hang out with a bunch of in-laws, some of whom are tolerable, maybe two of whom I like, and at least one of whom I loathe passionately (and she was pregnant this year, so she was infinitely less tolerable).

Valentine's? I never really had a boyfriend - I had a long distance one, but we didn't exchange gifts... because of the distance. And my husband and I were already engaged by the time our first Valentine's came around. Further, my husband's birthday is a week later, so I don't feel obliged to get him anything. He got me a Chocobo plushie and I made a nice big dinner, but we sometimes just do things like that, so it wasn't really special. Just an excuse to do something fun, really.

Halloween - I marathon a couple of horror movies and make treats. This year I made a jack o' lantern rice krispie treat, some cinnamon popcorn, and some 'worms in a cup' chocolate amalgamations, plus some apple cider and a bowl of candy. Most years this is how it goes. First year of college, Matthew and I watched a bunch of old Halloween-themed Disney cartoons, Nightmare Before Christmas, etc. and ate candy, and as a kid, my mom and I would watch horror movies and eat candy. It's a reliable pattern, if nothing else.

I don't so much as acknowledge any other holidays, so... yeah. And, on a final note, my flight back from Disney World is... next Tuesday. And I'll be on a plane for nine hours of that. Statistical odds of me making a post rely entirely on me arriving home and not being dead tired, or there being free Wi-Fi in the Chicago Airport during our layover. Think up a punishment or something now, everyone, and I'll see you when I get back. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday wants snow, damn it!

Hello, girls! It's Monday! And I am sitting in balmy, warm, snowless central Ohio. Can a girl get some Christmas snow, please??? Yeesh!

Most of the year, balmy weather = yes, please. But from December 15 to the New Year? Monday wants some snow. Please and thank you.

So, I'm at my parents' right now, surrounded by their Christmas decorations (two trees, dozens of nativities, and 213 santas), and it's a bit surreal, because this is the first Christmas I won't be spending at home. We (the boyfriend and I) are doing Christmas with my folks on the 21st because we'll be at his folks on Christmas Eve and Christmas, so I'm building some new traditions.

Up til this year, though, Christmas has always been one of those holidays with long-standing traditions in my family. We always went, all five of us, to get a live Christmas tree from the tree farm down the road. On Christmas Eve, we'd have two candlelight services at church, and between them, we'd open one gift (usually clothes for the service). On Christmas morning, my younger brother and I would get up obscenely early, and be allowed to open our stockings on our own. Then, when my older brother finally dragged himself out of bed, we'd open gifts before breakfast. Then, once lunch was down, we'd all get in the car and head up to grandma and grandpa's. Second Christmas would be on the 26th or 27th, once all the aunts and uncles and cousins had assembled. Constant activities during Christmas in my extended family include an UNO tournament every year in memory of Ethan (Champion 2005, 2007, 2008 - Yours Truly. I must win back my crown), night sledding on BG's one and only hill, and Christmas carols in the living room every night.

But Christmas, for all its traditions, has never been my family's biggest holiday. That is Thanksgiving.

I've briefly touched on my family's Thanksgiving tradition, but I'll go into more depth here. My family makes candy. Specifically, my family makes 209 3/4 pounds of 23 different flavors of hand-dipped chocolates - four kinds of caramel, nine kinds of fudges, seven kinds of creams, three kinds of truffles, and toffee. It takes us most of a week, with six dippers, six cooks, and an ever-moving rotations of cutters, rollers, dishwashers, and gophers. It is an art, and it's one we have down to a science. We've been doing this for four generations, ever since the Great Depression. We make candy for one week of the year, and give it all away as Christmas gifts to teachers and coworkers and friends and family. I've already told my boy: Christmas we can spend with your family. But Thanksgiving will always be spent with mine.

So, yeah. Christmas and Thanksgiving are the big ones. I celebrate Halloween less and less each year, Easter is observed more than celebrated, 4th of July is more about my birthday than the holiday.

I look forward to reading about your holiday traditions, and I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!

Week 41: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Topic from Christina:

Holiday traditions! What holidays do you celebrate, what's your favorite, and what do you do?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Coming to you from... America!

This is a very good week to have JAB because I am back home for the holidays! I got back last night at 6:30, promptly passed out in my lovely bed at 8:30, slept for nearly 12 hours, and have (so it seems, fingers crossed) evaded jet lag! Well, I say I've evaded jet lag, but I am still very, very tired (part of me still feels like it's 1:00 am), so this will have to be a short update.

I love being back in America. Don't get me wrong, France is fine and all, but living there has made me realize just how wonderful America really is. All the space! The restaurants! The ease of everything! (I acknowledge this is because I grew up here.) And all the space! Today I made my own breakfast, baked chocolate banana bread, watched Fellowship of the Ring extended edition special features, had Swedish meatballs for dinner, and saw my friends. It was a great day. :) I also got to just sit on a couch, read, and relax. I only ever get to do that in France if I'm visiting my family friends in Paris and even then I don't get to read or do whatever I want because I'm talking with them (which is enjoyable, but you get my point). It's so nice to just be able to stretch out on a couch.

Living in France is a great experience and I get to travel and see new countries, but I am also really looking forward to being back home for longer than two weeks. This experience has made me realize that I want to live in America and, more importantly, near family and friends. When I was younger I used to think about moving to France, but I now know that that life direction is not for me. I'm not miserable over there, but it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life. America does have many, many problems, but it is, overall, a great place and I'm glad to be back.

Oh, and Cassie I will think of topics and get those to you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday is nipping nostalgia in the bud

Christina: I have a penchant for used bookshops, too. It’s especially bad if there’s an antique book section… Welcome to how I decorate my apartment. Old books and old glass trinkets. And light. Lots of light. And welcome back to the States (tomorrow)!!!

Cassie: I’m glad to hear the performances went well! I heard several were tear-inducing. And I can’t say I’m surprised. You bring out beautiful things in those kids. And I can’t imagine Jeffrey’s hair French braided… Goodness.

Alexandra: I watched Skyrim being played for the first time tonight. Those are some beautiful graphics! If I had time, a game console, or a television bigger than 13”, I would consider playing.

So. My life.

Oh! Here’s something really fun and awesome. My girlfriend and I have some friends who are getting married in April, and they recently sent out their Save-the-Dates. And Meghan got one—addressed to both of us! We got our first piece of mail! I hugged the groom the next time I saw him. Once for hello, and once for OMGTHANKYOUTHATMADEMYDAY.

Also, I am 4.5 pages’ worth of a paper away from being done with my first semester of graduate school. I can’t believe how fast it has gone! This last paper, a statement of my theoretical orientation, is a bit of a b****, but it would have been easier to write if the class had in any way prepared me to write it. Oh well. It is all that stands between me and three weeks of deliciously relaxing break.

I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I’ve acclimated well to my new city, I’ve made some pretty awesome friends (most of whom are guys, regardless of the expectedly female-heaviness of my cohort), and Meghan and I are getting the hang of a long-distance relationship. It’s not always easy, but it is >100% worth it. That girl rocks.

I also can’t believe how long we’ve been at this blog project. Twelve weeks after this seems like a lot yet, but then I think back to the fact that we’ve already written forty posts each. That’s crazy. And we’ve all had some pretty cool life transitions in that time!

But this is hardly the time for a blogstalgia post. We’re not done yet, ladies! I’ll save the flashback-sequence writing for another time : )

Anyway, enjoy your weeks, everyone! I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday is Dovahkiin

There is a game called Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim; if you are a gamer or know a gamer, you have probably heard of it. My husband is a big fan of the series, particularly the third game in the series. I was skeptical, at first. I had played Oblivion, the fourth, and wasn't really into it. Admittedly, I don't know if I gave it a fair shot, but it seems to be less liked than the third, so perhaps I was not wrong.

Still, Skyrim offered a lot. Beautiful graphics, a decent variety of races (four men, four elves, two beasts), some interesting factions, dragons, and a combat system I could get behind. And since my husband had bought the game for himself, I said "hell, I can play while he is at work, give it a go". My life has been Skyrim ever since. Every page on my tumblr has two to five posts about Skyrim, be it reblogs of 'skyrimconfessions', videos of covers of the main theme, or just me posting about my Skyrim adventures.

You'll be getting a condensed version of that in 3, 2, 1...
  • My Argonian character - a lizard woman with tusks and feathers - was what pulled me in, really. Light armor, one-handed weapons, high sneak, lockpicking, pickpocketing. Made a great thief and assassin, and she was a fantastic character. I named her 'Ophiucha', of course. Snake bearer for the lizard girl. It was fun, but it was... inexperienced.
  • The obsessive nature of gaming came in. I had wasted a few levels playing with perks in two-handed weapons and goodness that just wouldn't do. I created a wood elf, named Olwen (as an aside, I have a fondness for women whose names begin with O, and clever readers might note a tendency for my FMCs in my novels to have names beginning with O). Similar stats, here. A tendency towards the sneakier arts. But with archery. Archery is a beautiful thing, if you have high sneak, because you really can just sniper people and get away with it.
  • You can also get away with it if you are Thane. There is a preacher who - I swear to Talos - is preaching 24/7 out in Whiterun, and I was forced to kill him. The guards ran up to me, asking me to pay for my crime, to which I replied "yo, I'm Thane" and they were like "oh, carry on then". Fantastic.
  • I desperately wish I could marry Delvin Mallory. He is a member of the Thieves Guild, based on Jason Statham (in appearance and accent), and my goodness, I am in love. He's an author, a thief, a friend of the Dark Brotherhood, he's sexy, and hell, he's just a good guy all around. Not one of the marriageable people in the game though (and there are several, too).
  • This game seems to encourage homicide. I had a husband who, unlike my other husbands Vilkas and Balimund, was a sexist pig. Your spouses can make you meals, you see. Vilkas and Balimund both say something along the lines of "here you are, dear, I'll have another one for you tomorrow", but Sadri? He's like "I should be asking you that... but fine, here, shove off."
  • I murdered him and hid his body under the table so Aela (my new wife) wouldn't find it.
  • I have made several characters, beaten the game in two or three different ways, joined every major faction at least once, and yet I am still not content to stop playing this game.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday . . . has nothing to talk about . . .

Hi girls! It's Monday!

And I . . . have nothing to talk about.

See, last week, I had to write a short post because I was in the midst of a prop-making, costume collecting frenzy, freaking out about whether or not my students were going to actually be memorized for the production, but they performed on Saturday, and all three classes did wonderfully. The audience loved them, and I always love to watch students do so well after putting in so much work.

And now, my schedule of obligations is pretty much wide and clear until the week before Christmas, when I go to several different Christmas celebrations with several different groups of people. So I'm in the process of crafting and purchasing and delivering my Christmas gifts.

The Project for Awesome is coming up, and while I'm not making a video myself, I did help with both my brothers', which means I spent the evening helping to brush, straighten, and French braid my little brother's hair.

Let me explain. My little brother has hair. A lot of hair. It's dark and long and bushy and curly. And he spends a decent amount of his time looking kinda like a hobo caveman Jesus. Well, last year, he decided to blog every day for a year, agreeing to be punished if he missed days. He missed six, and the punishment decided on was that his hair would be brushed, straightened, and French braided. His charity is Locks of Love, and all this will be on YouTube this weekend. I'll post a link next Monday.

Hmm . . . what else? I hit my book goal at the beginning of the month. Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan was my 125th book of the year. My boyfriend challenged me to hit 150 by the end of the year, so I'm attempting to read 25 books in the next 19 days. Well, 20 actually, as I'm five in. If I make it, I get a yet-to-be-decided reward.

Yeah . . . not much else to talk about. Sorry about the randomness of this blog . . . Christina, as a reminder, the next three weeks are yours for topics!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week 40 - JAB Away

Well, girls, if you can believe it, we are entering into the final three months of this project! week 40 is upon us, and it's another JAB week, so let us know. How goes life on your end?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christina loves used book shops

Welp, my internet's not working again! After nearly a month of wonderful, unlimited internet, it has suddenly stopped working for no reason. Sigh. The wait begins again to see when it will be fixed. But I will be home in America in 6 days, so nothing can get me down!

Carlyn asks where I must avoid going if I don't want to spend money. My answer: used book shops! There's something about used book shops over regular book shops that just make me want to buy ALL the books! This even happens in foreign used book shops as evidence by my Dutch copy of Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter en de Steen der Wijzen) which I cannot read and probably will never be able to. I think this is justified because it's Harry Potter and I think it's a nice little collection to have difference copies of Sorcerer's Stone. Hey, I stopped myself before I also got Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix in Dutch! But I digress. I just love used book shops: the smell of old books on the shelves, the teetering shelves groaning under pounds and pounds of books, the feeling that the shelves are going to collapse on you, everything. I also like used books because other people have read and (hopefully mostly) loved them. They have past lives; someone else has held them, brought them to work, taken them on vacation, etc. To me, used books are so much more appealing than new books. My love for used books plus their lowered price tag means I need to steer clear of used book shops if I shouldn't be spending money.

I'll be heading back to American for Christmas on the 15th, I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday is a crafter and grocery connoisseur

Christina: There is a lot to be said for Liz Lemon. She is awesome.

Cassie: Good luck with the props! And the next 25 books ; )

Alexandra: I love the word “turophile.” Props for being one and knowing it!

As for my wallet and me, we spend too much of ourselves at various places. Like Cassie, I am an absolute sucker for office supply stores and Hobby Lobby. Oh, Hobby Lobby… That place has everything. Am I making jewelry for an upcoming wedding? Oh, look! Beads are on sale! I will buy ALL THE BEADS. Am I foraying into horticulture via baby spider plants from my girlfriend’s mother’s gigantic plant? Oh, look! Fun-colored flower pots! I will buy ALL THE FLOWER POTS. Has Meghan made the mistake of introducing me to Sculpey polymer clay, the most fun art thing ever? Oh, look! Every color and tool imaginable! I will buy ALL THE SCULPEY. I could go on. Believe me. Right now, I am working on a wedding commission for which I will earn about $100. I have spent over $200 in supplies already (though I get to keep the supplies I don’t use, which should help me actually make a profit).

And groceries. Oh boy, groceries. I cook for only myself (while the cat eats Senior Cat Cat Food [which I find hilarious—Old Man Cat Food oughta be a brand name]), and I don’t cook terribly often, but I somehow find a way to spent over $100 every time I go grocery shopping. This last trip, a good half of that was taken up with stocking up on the supply of cards (birthday, thank-you, encouragement, congratulations) I keep on hand to send when momentous occasions happen and three bottles (again, to stock up) of face moisturizer. I do perhaps more than my fair share of stocking up on things when I have the money, and this tends to get me in slightly large grocery bills.

The place where I do most of my impulse shopping is online. I’m a year-round Christmas shopper (I’ve been mostly done since August), and find myself in the clearance section of many a cool online store before I can blink twice. My wish list is filled with dozens of 75¢ books that I didn’t let myself buy just yet, for instance, and I’ve been known to spend $50 just on interesting-looking books from the bargain bin. In fact, after I post this, I think I’m going to do a little shopping before hitting the (text)books and going to bed.

I think this is about the longest post I’ve had in a while! Hope everyone and your loved ones are doing well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday is a Turophile

I don't have a problem when it comes to shopping, for the most part. Mostly, I don't buy things from shops at all. Books are far too overpriced at most stores - Barnes and Nobles, or Chapters as it is now that I live in Canada, is particularly bad. They'll charge you $30 for a hardcover book the size of Twilight or so. You can get that for $10 less on Amazon. Same with games and movies and the sort. It's all much cheaper online, with a selection far broader. I don't need to hold a book to know I want it, a synopsis, a few pages of an excerpt, that's enough for me.

I don't particularly care for clothes shopping. Oh, I like clothes, and if I'm in a shop that carries my size (that is, if I'm in Lane Bryant), I will undoubtedly pick out a new bra and a pair of jeans. But I can usually keep myself to the bargain bin if I'm on a budget. This lovely shop downtown has a $5 and under section with some very nice sweaters. I don't feel the need to get anything *expensive* from a clothing store, so I don't feel very obliged to avoid them.

My sin is food, as the quip about my pants size might imply. But, more specifically, it is cheese. On a budget, my grocery shopping is generally limited to bread, cheddar, pasta, sauce, mozza, parmesan, a box of chicken breast, rice, and restocking the herbs, broths, milk, eggs, butter, oil, and root vegetables (the ones that last a while). I can live with about $100/week, which has never been outside of our budget. I get creative with the basics: if we can't afford pizza, I am completely capable of making pizza dough with the flour and water we undoubtedly have.

Cheese, though, that's my Achilles' heel. Can't really do without it. And I don't mean the aforementioned cheddar, mozza, parmesan. That's the basics - I can make eighty meals with those, no harm in it, really. No, my sin is a shop called Benton Brothers. A cheese shop. Local BC blues, Cheddar and Stilton from the places that can claim the name (incidentally, Stilton cannot actually be named 'Stilton' if it was made in the town of Stilton, where it got its name), the finest from Quebec and France. If I am so much as in Vancouver, I cannot avoid the temptation to pick up cheese.

And it is expensive. Don't doubt me when I say that I can spend $100 on a single night's worth of cheese and crackers - and I don't drink wine, my friends, that's just the cheese. 8-Year Cheddar, from Silo, that costs about $10 for a block as thick as your thumb and as wide and tall as your palm. Think about how genuinely little cheese that is. For comparison, you can get some Cracker Barrel cheddar about as thick as two thumbs and about three times as wide for the same price. Bleu d'Auvergne, a sinfully sweet blue from France, can't go without $15 worth of that. There's always the temptation to grab a bit of buffalo mozzarella for a nice proper Italian dish. The Stilton, the finer goat cheeses, my mum-in-law always appreciates us bringing home some Brie; it's hard not to spend a week's pay check at this store.

Hell, we got a cheese platter for our wedding.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday loves books . . . and office supplies . . . and craft things . . .

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

Short blog from me this week -- my students perform on Saturday, and I'm up to my ears in waiting craft projects also known as all the props I have to construct in the next five days. I've found I develop a strange need to explain myself to the cashier at Ben Franklin's when I hit this point in show mode. I don't want her to make her own conclusions about the fake bird, bag of stones, plastic vegetables, three pieces of foam core, and black masking tape. You know how it is.

But that leads nicely into this week's topic. Where do I avoid going when I'm poor because I know I'll spend money? Places like Ben Franklin's. Or Michael's. Or Hobby Lobby. Craft stores are my undoing. Because fabric paint's only 99 cents a tube and scrapbook paper's only 59 cents a page and stickers are only $1.49 a sheet, and before you know it, I've spent $50.

The same can be said of office supply stores. You've all seen the pictures of my Neville Notebook. My planner is just as colorful. When Sharpie came out with their eight color highlighter set, I thought I was made. I soon discovered that eight isn't nearly enough, so when the 10-color set came out the next year, I bought that, too, despite having eight colors in common. I just needed the extra two, you know? I do all my longhand writing in spiral notebooks or college-ruled composition books (which are ridiculously hard to find, by the way), I'm insanely picky about my pencils, and I'm in love with black Pilot .07 ballpoint pens. And yes, hello, my nerd is showing.

But my real undoing when I am poor? Bookstores. If I had all the money in the world or no self-discipline, I could drop two hundred dollars in a bookstore without even thinking about it. I mean, my relatively small two-bedroom apartment? One of those bedrooms is our library. Three bookcases. All full. 85% my books, 15% the boyfriend's, best estimate, and I think I'm being generous. There are just so many books that I want!

Speaking of which, I hit my year goal of 125 books a few days ago. Chase then said, "You could get to 150 before the end of the year if you worked at it." To which I said, "Challenge accepted, sir."

So we'll see how that goes.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got eight more tombstones to make.

. . . yeah, don't ask.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week 39:The Black Hole of $$$

From Carlyn:

Week 39 Theme: Where do you avoid going when you are poor because you know you'll spend money?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Heroes, and not the tv show

I very nearly forgot that it was Friday and I had to post, but then I saw that Lex had uploaded her sarcaschicks video and I realized it was Friday! It's a sad statement on how big a part of my life youtube is that this is how I (apparently) now gauge the days of the week. .... yupp, it really is. Moving on....

Congratulations on winning NaNoWriMo Cassie!!

Who are my heroes? I have always been horrible at answering this question. I don't know if I really have heroes. I have people I look up to, are those technically heroes? Perhaps. Okay, the people I look up to! Like Cassie, I hated this question when I was younger because I never knew how to answer it. And I still don't, apparently. Looking back, I loved my fourth grade teacher Mr. Schmittle. He was awesome. I think I can count him as a hero from my childhood. I also loved my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Thompson. In hindsight I think she was one of my heroes back them, judging from how happy I would be to see her even when I wasn't in kindergarten anymore. A few years out of elementary school, in seventh grade, is when I discovered Harry Potter and, as cliché as it is, J.K. Rowling has been a hero of mine ever since. I look up to her for her intelligence, kindness, imagination, and natural elegance. She just has a wonderful presence to her. Throughout most of college I would have most likely said that Tina Fey was one of my heroes as well. I identified so much, and still do to an extent, with Liz Lemon and her. Looking back, however, I don't know how wise it is to emulate Liz Lemon because that manifests itself mainly through lots and lots of eating and watching tv. That's really why I identified with her though- those are two of my favorite activities... *hangs head*

These days I still count J.K. Rowling as one of my heroes. As I thought about this question I also realized that I have some personal heroes as well. I don't want to name any names, but I believe that I can count some close family friends as heroes of mine. They are so kind and welcome to me and everyone they meet really. They are really like extended family to me and I admire how welcoming and kind they are.

Well, I think I've exhausted my list of heroes. I'm surprised I came up with that many actually! I used to have so much trouble with it.

Okay, that's it for Friday- see you all next week!