September 30, 2012

Unsurprising Surprises

Since my early college days until pretty much now I've encountered people who have been surprised that I can write. This baffles me because I've always loved it, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense that people would react with surprise in finding out I can write decently well.

The first reason, which is the one I'm least willing to admit to myself, is that writing is still considered an art form, and when people say they're artists we just kind of assume they like to paint on the balcony but only their mothers think they're any good. Even though I tend to look at writing in a more scientific way, doing diligent research and having a well thought out plan, it is therapeutic (that's how it all started), and is an expression of myself. That I happen to be able to apply those skills to be useful to other people is the surprising part.

The other reason may be because I'm a girl (damn, I'm turning 27 in a few days... maybe I should start calling myself a woman). Women and girls are still, and probably will always be, considered far more emotional than rational, and when doing any sort of art or subjective work, like writing, we assume that emotional side will come through. I'm not exempt from this: when other women tell me they're artists or designers or something I go "well that makes sense" (though when I meet other women writers I don't have that immediate thought... strange?). This blog, since it's mine and I can do whatever I want with it, gets emotional. But my life is going to be emotional and when you tend to write about your life that'll show through. But like half the time, or maybe even more, I write about things that are going on that affect other people or animals. Sure I'm stepping in with my opinion, but again, this is my blog, so that's allowed. 

When I was starting my internship back in college I asked the editor if I could write an article for publication. It took me a few months to convince her, partially because it was for a parenting magazine and I clearly had nothing to contribute to that, but also because it was a magazine that was well respected and widely read, and they obviously needed to make sure the content in it was useful and appropriate. How much could they really expect from a young, childless intern? However, when I finally submitted my first article the feedback I got from the editor was "You can write really well. I had no idea." Damn I was proud. They let me write a handful of other articles, which were obviously edited a little for tone and audience, but still, I got published. 

Recently I was told something similar by two coworkers. One told me he'd seen this blog and knew that I was a capable writer and that the client of his I'd be taking over would be in good hands as far as the blog writing went. I was pretty pleased to hear that from a colleague. Just over a week ago another coworker said almost the same thing: he hadn't originally voted for me to join the  team, preferring another candidate, but after working with me the last two months and seeing my abilities, writing included, said I'd proven myself and he was glad I was part of the team.

While I feel like these little surprises others feel shouldn't be surprises at all, I also feel glad that they've come to those conclusions about my writing. It's something I love to do, take pretty seriously, and is supporting me (less so now, but still). I would hate to learn the oposite, though I doubt anyone would actually come up to say that to me, so hearing that I'm surprisingly good at writing is always nice to hear, even if I don't think it's surprising.

September 29, 2012

Why I Love Fall So Much

The only time of year I feel it's acceptable to dress up the animals.

When I start talking about how I love fall the first response I get is usually "well, cause it's your birthday." Which is true. I know a lot of people who love summer who were born in summer, so it stands to reason. Plus, I do love my birthday. 

Halloween being in the middle of fall, and being arguably the best holiday (especially if you're an adult), also helps a whole lot. 

Anyone can like a season or even have a favorite. I'm a little obsessed with how much I love fall. People typically feel about summer the way I feel about fall, which makes a lot of sense to a lot of people. But part of the reason why fall warrants a slight obsession is because it's so short. The fall season doesn't start until late September, and here in Southern California September and October are very summer-y months (much to the dismay of some of those summer-loving people, who get stuck with May Gray and June Gloom). This year the autumn solstice was one of the hotter, more humid days. Instead of cool breezes we got hot, dry Santa Ana winds. Rather than an overcast morning it was pushing 80 degrees before 9am. By the time it feels like fall it'll be halfway through October, and often it won't really feel like fall until November (especially if San Diego burns to the ground this year, which I have a sneaking suspicion it might). Then, as soon as Thanksgiving is over we're on to Christmas, almost a month before the winter solstice.

Actually that's a lie. I was in Target tonight and there were Halloween decorations right next to Christmas decorations. It's not even October yet.

So, fall doesn't really start until mid-October and ends as soon as we finish the last bites of pumpkin pine on Thanksgiving. Like, 5 weeks of autumn before we have to get ready for Christmas and winter. 

At least I get the whole month of October to enjoy, starting with my birthday and ending with Halloween, even if both days are hot and dry.

September 25, 2012


The first being I ever loved, as in the first thing I felt love for and recognized the feeling to be love, was for my cat Milo. I loved my family, said "I love you" to relatives, and loved abstract things and ideas, but the first time I had that feeling and knew what it was it was directed at a cat.

However, anyone who has known me really at all knows that cat wasn't some ordinary cat. Milo was a family member, he was known around the neighborhood, and he was loved by almost everyone. (I only say almost because he was a cat and some people really hate cats.) My former neighbor enticed him back to our old neighborhood with chicken so he would scare off or kill the rats in her garage, leaving me, a 14 year old girl, sobbing every night for two weeks because I was terrified he'd died. Milo helped himself to our neighbor cat's food, then woke up the neighbor's daughter by just walking into their home and hopping into her bed. He brought me a prize about once a month, showcasing his talents as a hunter (which I eventually accepted).

It seems unsurprising to me that the first time I knew what love felt like I was feeling it for that cat. After that, I knew when I really felt love for others. My sisters, my best friends, my pets, other people's pets, my boyfriends, my city, jobs, an apartment, even my old car... all of these things and more I've felt that unmistakable pang of love for. I always referred to Milo as the love of my life, something that's gotten harder to keep saying.

I've had that same lovin' feeling a lot the last year. Far more than usual, even. It seemed like every day I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach, usually when I was doing something mundane like typing or watching TV or getting the mail. All of a sudden I'd just feel it and get really happy. But I also felt being loved more than I ever have. I recognize that feeling in the boyfriend and I know he feels the same thing. It's the intensity that's new.

And it all started 15 years ago with that cat. Happy 19th birthday, Milo. I still love you.

September 20, 2012

In Which I Am An Adult

I'm a Thundercat!

At least, that's what it's starting to look like.

For the first time in my whole life I have business cards. With my name on them. And my work email. OMG.

And I have, like, a million. (Alright, the box says it's just 500.) Now I can drop a business card in those little jars for the free lunch! Or, you know, network.

They seem to have come just in time, too, because I'll be going to my first professional networking event next week where someone might actually want one. (Unlikely, since the event is hosted by a fellow Thunder employee and will probably be attended by much of the office, which is comprised of people who are savvier than I and who also have business cards.)

Other than my business cards, very adult things have been happening around me. While I'm still not counting my chickens before they hatch and waiting until my 3-month probationary period is up, I have to admit it's looking like I'm in. They're putting my photo on the wall of employee faces, I'm writing for the company blog later this month (which I'll be bragging about here in a week or so), I'm the account manager for multiple clients, and they did just give me 500 company business cards with my name on them. And a mug. Also, this might be the year I finally join the ranks of the working insured. That's right: health care might be right around the corner. So that's exciting.

Adult things have been happening in my personal life, too. Another first for me is watching someone close to me plan a wedding. Other than seeing random tidbits from former friends and acquaintances on Facebook (and lately seeing more wedding photos of strangers than I ever thought I'd see), I've never been privy to the process. Having it happen in my own apartment is eye opening and interesting. 

Which leads me to another adult occurrence: looking for an apartment on my own. I did this once before (I still miss Community) and it made me feel very grown up. Having to have a roommate because you have a shitty job that barely supports you will very quickly make you feel like a child. My roommate moving in with her fiance (an adult thing to experience second-hand) in a couple of months, combined with my relative security in my new position means I'll not only have the opportunity to live alone again, but have the means. And I might even step it up to a one-bedroom, rather than a studio.

Which leads me to my final nudge into adulthood: the topic of living with the boyfriend. Seems like I can't go more than a week or two without being asked if we're moving in together, both by close friends and people who barely know us. So... I guess I'm at that age now where it's acceptable, even expected, that you live with your significant other after a certain amount of time. This is perhaps the most baffling adult feeling: I'm so used to people not asking that in my relationships, people expecting us to live apart and with roommates, people who would have been surprised if I'd lived with a boyfriend. Not anymore. Which means that when we do start living together people will probably be supportive and happy for us, not surprised and asking questions like I would have expected.

Plus, even though I have a lot of debt now (because people are jerks), the boyfriend and I have solid jobs that will allow us to save for traveling. By spring I'll be able to pay off my debts and save up for an East Coast trip. And traveling definitely makes you feel pretty darn grown up.

September 12, 2012

Calm The Fuck Down

This is what I need to tell myself on a far more regular basis.

And possibly post more anteater pictures...

Anyone reading this somewhat regularly since... well, I started, knows that I was loosely diagnosed with eczema. I'm still not 100% convinced this is what it is, especially since my symptoms are pretty much all wrong. The only thing that still makes it look and act like eczema is the all over itchy rash that makes me want to claw my skin off.

Anyway, I've discovered that whatever it is is stress induced. I've been to Planned Parenthood a few times this year alone issues that could be tied to whatever skin rash I have. The last time I went she asked me if I felt stressed or worried in my relationship (resounding no) or in life. I said, "well, I'm always stressed," in a nonchalant, this-is-typical-for-me way. Because it's true. There's always fucking something.

This time I've got it pared down: started a new job (3 month probationary period, looking at it like an extended interview, trying to be the best); sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed in my new job because I'm surrounded by some really smart people who know what they're doing and who are giving me very real responsibilities; some jackwad ran into my car and caused me $800 worth of repairs that my full coverage insurance won't cover; and the cherry on top is some other jackwad stuck a business card on my car window which slipped into the door frame as I rolled the window down because I didn't notice until it was there until it was too late. Boom, stress rash. And then I freak the fuck out and try to figure out if it is in fact eczema by looking at photos and descriptions online, which just makes me itch more.

But I honestly shouldn't be that stressed, definitely not enough to cause a rash to break out on my arms and legs. I did just get back from a very lovely vacation; I'm very happy in my job and mostly unworried about the probationary period because they seem to like me a bunch and the fact that they are giving me big responsibilities is telling; even though I sometimes feel overwhelmed the very next day I feel like I have a handle on things and that I'm just as smart as my coworkers; I can afford my car repairs (I'm just mad that I have them); taking on a very small bit of debt when I have a steady income shouldn't freak me out.


The vast, vast majority of my worry and stress stems from money (thanks, mom and dad). I know what makes me happy and I've pretty much got everything I need and want: my cat who sometimes loves me, a job that fulfills me, a boyfriend who adores me, an apartment I'm going to be sad to leave, a roommate I'm friends with, an easy 10 minute walking commute, a neighborhood and city I belong in, and dozens of opportunities every week to satisfy my little desires. But I just wrapped up debt and started to save up for things I want, rather than just the things I need, before being unemployed for a brief period, which added to a vacation did give me back some credit card debt, which I had been happy to be rid of. Add to that my new car repairs and the car insurance I still haven't finished paying off (all thanks to timing) and I've got myself some saving to do. Plus, there are the things I've wanted for a long time that I would much rather not postpone anymore: a new bed, my own apartment, and (maybe) an iPhone. As long as I wait until mid-November and know I'm secure in my position I think it'd be OK to take on a little debt (famous last words, right?). Fortunately, I make enough to save that money in a few months as long as I stick to the frugal lifestyle I adopted in college and never really grew out of. By the new year I should be debt free again and able to start saving for my next vacation, build up a security savings for when the next something happens (because it always does), and start paying down my car faster.

And in the meantime, tell myself to just calm the fuck down. I got this. I really do.

September 9, 2012

Everything Clever Comes From Reddit


I was having a conversation with some friends not long ago and we were discussing stories we'd heard about and articles we'd read (news, politics, economics, all very informed stuff). After several minutes, and once I realized that everything I had to contribute to the conversation was something I had read on Reddit, I remembered my friends probably also had found their information from Reddit. 

So when my turn came to contribute again, I said that I read on Reddit an article about whatever it was that we'd been talking about. One of my friends nodded and said that's where he'd seen it too. I figured we all knew we spend time on Reddit and most, if not all, of our intelligent conversation was coming from things we'd seen on the site, so we might as well just admit it. 

Which was kinda cool, in a way. Here we are, young professionals having a beer and talking about things that are going on in the world right now, all because we spend an hour or two (fine, fine, 6) browsing this one website. We're informed in politics, we have an educated opinion about the economy, we're aware of our environment and we care about events across the world. 

The other day I saw a picture of an engagement ring some guy had posted, asking for luck as he flew to another country to meet his girlfriend to propose. Some people had commented that he better hope she doesn't see it and the surprise is ruined, while others were offering suggestions on how he should actually propose, since he hadn't figured that part out yet. He said he figured she wouldn't see it, since she'd already been traveling for a week with friends and wouldn't have had the time to browse enough Reddit to see it (it wasn't on the front page, so it would have been unlikely she'd go through pages and pages to discover it), and that if she found out his brilliant or clever or romantic proposal came from some idea on Reddit she'd be OK with it because she already knew anything clever or interesting came from Reddit. And that's when I realized it's the same with me.

Kind of impressive to think that one website can have so much influence. Because I browse Reddit for at least a few minutes every day (some days much more) and subscribe to "subreddits" that I'm interested in, I'm up to date on things I care about. In fact, a lot of the articles I read on the site show up on Facebook and in the Huffington Post a day or two later. (Aside: I can usually tell which of my Facebook friends are Redditors based on the articles they post.) We're becoming a generation who is not only interested in what's going on outside of our immediate lives, but we have an opinion and sometimes we even care enough to do something about it. It's fantastic. 
Fuck yeah!

I really hope that this experience is turning us into activists who decide to not sit by and let bad things happen.... maybe that's just the idealism talking in me but it'd be nice to think that all of this information being spread around to all parts of the world has to have an impact on something. Right?

September 6, 2012

Road Trip Part 2: Oregon

Part 1 of our road trip, the California Coast, is here.

Weird state.

Oregon! Finally! The boyfriend was snoozing and asked me to wake him when we were close, but by the time I realized we were on the border we had passed it, so I turned around to get a photo. Other than being full of stretches of beach interspersed with stretches of redwood and sequoia forest, the drive along the Oregon coast was uneventful.

But very scenic.

There were a few really old and beautiful bridges that we drove on, each with a date later than the bridge before it, showing a very real timeline of the history of Oregon. And we passed lots of lakes and rivers. One of which (we saw as we passed over one such bridge) we could see emptying into the ocean. Weren't able to get a picture but we could see exactly where they met by the colors and mineral differences. So cool.

Almost like a postcard.

We drove up the Oregon coast for a couple of hours and then when we left we drove East for almost an hour, and saw lots and lots of lakes, rivers and forests. No wonder people there are so into outdoor activities: there's just a lot to do. We didn't get a picture of them, but the area we were staying in is known for the dunes where people ride quads. Some of the dunes were the size of small mountains. My cousin asked if we could stay after the wedding to hang out and ride quads and I'd said yes before accepting my job, and once I was there and saw how much fun it looked like I was sad we had to get back so quickly.

 This was fun!

All of the roads were windy and slowed us down. It was a lot of fun driving up there, though, especially in a new car that could corner pretty well.  There were stretches like this, of open road where you could see the ocean off to the left, and stretches going through shadowy forest. Very beautiful.

That part of Oregon, the part right off the 101, is all about camping and activities in nature. After a few more hours of driving we got to Winchester Bay, the area my cousin was getting married, and 4 miles after that was Reedsport, where our hotel was (which is a whole 'nother story, totally worth reading if you ever plan on staying in a hotel). Winchester Bay had 1 exit off the 101, making it easy to miss if you weren't paying attention.

Oregon coast. Less beachy than California, but just as beautiful.

We left before 7am Sunday morning after the wedding, when almost no one was on the road. I filled up at a gas station before we left... well, I went to two gas stations that looked open before finding one that was. And when I got out of my car to pump the attendant was standing right next to my car expectantly. He asked what I wanted and I said I was just going to fill up. I was a little creeped out. He said he'd do it and before I could protest he said he had to because it was state law. He probably noticed my California license plate, or my completely dumbfounded expression, because he explained that New Jersey and Oregon had this law and were the only states to outlaw pumping your own gas. So, I stood there awkwardly while someone else put gas in my car. A truck pulled up at another pump and the driver stayed put, waiting for the attendant. So this really was a thing. So weird. A few hours later I got out of my car again and pumped my own gas. Like a normal person.

We got gas in Weed, CA

The drive back was a bit rough and not something the boyfriend and I are planning to do again. Three hours of Oregon and alllllllll of California. Like, everything except for about 20 miles. Through Bay Area traffic, grapevine traffic, lane closures, and goddamn LA traffic for almost 17 hours. The plan was to get a burrito as soon as we arrived in San Diego but that didn't happen until midnight and I'd been trying to sleep for several hours. If we'd been able to break that drive up into two days it'd have been a thousand times better, but I had a job to get back to.

But it was a fantastic experience and a few great and not-so-great stories came out of it. And the boyfriend and I finally went on a trip together, finally stayed in a hotel together, finally went to a wedding together, finally spent a whole week together. 10/10, would do it again.

September 2, 2012

People Are Jerks

You don't even really notice it...

I left my car in a Costco parking lot for about ten minutes the other day and came back to a gaping dent in the bumper. At first I thought I went to the wrong car, because my little silver hatchback can be easily confused with any other of the half dozen hatchback style cars out there right now... but no, the spot was mine, that was my license plat, that's my car with the fat dent.

My heart just sank. I bought this car in December brand new, not a scratch on it. Nine months to the day later and someone hits it, hard, and just drives off leaving me with an unmissable hole in my car. And as you can see, I'm not exaggerating the size of this dent. Sure it's in the bumper, probably the cheapest part to replace, and sure the bumper is meant to take a beating like that, but it's still going to cost me a grand to replace, money I just don't have right now and won't have for another month or two. Which means no new bed for my birthday, second year in a row, because something else came up. 

Because it happened in a Costco parking lot (which also had an IKEA and a Lowe's), and the size of the dent makes me think it was someone with an SUV or truck, I would find it very hard to believe that this person did not have the means to pay for the damage they caused. They probably didn't even look before driving away, just hit and run and hope no one saw or whoever did see won't say anything (which is exactly what happened in a rather busy Costco parking lot on a holiday weekend afternoon), but if they had looked they'd have seen a very new, very economy car with a dent that will most certainly not be missed. 

Earlier that morning I took my car in for an oil change, tire rotation and wash at the dealership, taking care of it after a grueling road trip of over 2,000 miles. And the universe repaid my little car with a rear-ending. It's a day later and I'm still fuming mad over it (if that's not coming through already). My insurance deductible is $1,000 so I'll be footing this bill myself, unless it happens to cost more than that, which I kind of doubt. 

Oh yeah, and they scratched the fuck out of it, too. Real nice.

I suppose I am lucky that my car wasn't hit hard enough to push it into the truck my car was facing in its parking spot, and this asshat didn't cause more damage. And I suppose I'm somewhat lucky that I wasn't in the car to experience whiplash and have neck or back pain for days or weeks, still without insurance, and still not be able to catch who did it. But those are very small condolences.

In my anger and frustration at whoever was so irresponsible to put that big of a dent in a car without leaving a note, I made a post to Reddit asking people to please be responsible when driving; if you're on the phone or not paying attention or speeding or whatever, just take responsibility for when you fuck up and don't leave someone else to clean up your mistake. The response I got was not supportive (though maybe that's my fault for expecting support from the internet)... one person even said they wouldn't claim responsibility because the person would just say the damage was worse than it was and try to fuck him over. So, whoever this is would just drive around, hit other cars, and leave them to deal with it, because he has a life savings that he worked hard for and he's not going to let anyone take it from him. It'd be nice if I had a savings to take from to pay for this... but now I'll just have more debt instead. I'm not letting this dented bumper sit until I have the money - I promised I'd take better care of this car and I will. It's not my fault I have this new expense considering I wasn't even in the car when it happened, but now it's my responsibility to keep my new car looking and running the best it can.

Thanks, society. I was just starting to say nice things about you, too.