November 28, 2008

i became one of those people

Every year after Thanksgiving, my parents, aunts, and uncles would leave my cousins and i to go shopping as early as six or seven in the morning. I thought they were nuts. Why would you wake up early on a day off to go fight crowds and spend money?

Maybe it was because I have never been a big fan of the shopping process. I do love new things, but the lines, the crying children, the trying-on-of-things-that-mostly-didn't-fit, and the money-spending are just not that exciting to me. And doing it in a stressful environment? No thanks. Everyone else can have their fun, if that's what Black Friday was to them. I would stay home and shop later.

So how was it that I found myself standing in a line stretching around the Kohl's parking lot at four o'clock this morning? Though that short time in the chilly pre-dawn was nothing compared to the two-hour line that snaked through women's pajamas, menswear, pots and pans, and shoes to end at the cash register.

What in the world could be worth the madness? Well... fifty percent off pretty much everything. And the fact that I have a Kohl's card and can pay it off in increments. The early bird specials help make it possible for my budget to afford reasonable gifts this year. Combined with the deals we found later at Target, Big Lots, and Michael's (all with less people and practically no more lines as the morning went by), my Christmas shopping is 90% done. Peace of mind? Priceless.

I don't think I'll do it again. Though Sophia said that if she wanted to next year, I had to tag along. Fair enough, since this year's trek was inspired by my lapse in judgement and a moment of irrationality. However, i don't really regret it. It's a twisted American tradition, so it's worth trying at least once.

Tomorrow shall find me in the company of a sewing machine, paint, cards, and other craft supplies. And my pillow. I'm sleeping in.

November 25, 2008

Do you love me like I love you?

Almost Thanksgiving... which means everyone starts blogging about the things for which they are thankful. Sadly, I'm not in the mood to write that kind of entry. It's not that I'm not thankful- I am. In fact, such a list would probably grow sappy with thankfulness. And it's the sappy that I'm not.

There's a trend on my dad's side of the family. When babies were born, they received a family name and a biblical name. I don't know if our parents planned this, but that's how it worked out. And that's how Joshua, Andrew, Sarah, Bethany, Rebecca, Daniel, and (Claudia) Abigail came to be. I ended up with Malinda- the family name- but instead of the traditional scripture-inspired middle name, I was handed a name to share with a third of the girls born in the eighties- Renee (the other two-thirds got "Lynn" or "Marie"). As a child, i felt branded as the only pagan among my holier cousins. To my mother's credit, I have always liked my first name. And now I know that the combined meaning is "gently reborn"- pretty fitting for a girl whose life is a constant growing journey with the Lord instead of a dramatic conversion story.

But i guess that I just turned sappy.

November 16, 2008

protesting the end

Oh, Sunday night, the saddest of all moments. You are more melancholy than Monday morning, even. At least on Monday, there is a bit of motivation to face the week head-on (the desire to face the week non-withstanding). But on Sunday night, you are still technically sitting in the weekend, but without enough weekend left to grasp. Like accidentally dropping an earring down the drain, that moment when you can only watch it disappear, helpless.

But i'm being melodramatic, and I know it.

I knocked a few things off the to-do list this weekend, which is encouraging. The biggest news is the fires. To all my far-away family friends, we are thankfully safe. The sky is perpetually smoky gray, and being outside makes eyes sting and throat burn, but that's only a minor inconvenience compared to anyone directly affected. My heart goes out to the thousands of people who've experienced extreme loss, and prayers for the firefighters who engage in battle against the flames.

Not to give the impression I live in a bad neighborhood (because it's really pretty average), but Friday night the sound of sirens woke me up from *just* falling asleep. I looked out my window to see a random car speed by, followed by FIVE police cruisers with lights and sirens blaring. One of them even pulled to the other side of the road to try to cut of the guy. No high speed chase was on tv so I have no clue how it ended, but it was kind of exciting to watch for a few seconds before going back to sleep.

In other non-relevant news, I am totally ready for the holidays. I do refuse to jump into Christmas until after Thanksgiving (with the exception of some light Christmas shopping, but really that's reasonable). Thanksgiving is really such a lovely holiday, why rush it? I am burning a gingerbread candle (food smells count for multiple holidays, not strictly Christmas), and I got apple cider at Wal*Mart. Though, for the record, it is not as good as the local ciders I used to get back in Ohio in the jugs like milk jugs. The cider was darker than this stuff and tasted better, fresher, and cider-ery. But i'll take what i can get. I'm trying to hold off watching my Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dvd until at LEAST next week. And i'll be contributing no-bake jello oreo pie to this year's family Thanksgiving dinner.

On Thanksgiving, the family does a drawing for who-buys-for-who for Christmas. This requires creating a Christmas list. Other family members have also asked for my list, as I will not be returning to Ohio for the holidays. I've faced an internal dilemma. First, I thought, "I don't need anything for Christmas. I'm very blessed, especially in light of recent events. I would rather people donate to fire victims or World Vision or something instead of buying me a present." Then, selfishly, I thought, "Though it really would be kind of a bummer to have nothing to watch everyone open gifts on Christmas and walk away empty-handed." This was followed by, "Holy cow, that was a pretty selfish thought. I should definitely just ask for donations to charity instead of gifts just to teach myself a lesson!" The flow of thought ended with, "But that wouldn't be very good motives. If you're going to suggest such a thing, you better mean it sincerely. Like, SERIOUSLY." Then I wondered why I sounded like such a valley-girl in my head. A decision has yet to be made.

Friday night I'm going to see "Twilight" with work friends. V. fun. Much looking forward to it. However, it does represent how much i'm killing NOvember this year. With work craziness, the Christmas play, and the occasional social event like this one, November resembles all the hectic months before it. Vacation was the best, most NOvember-like thing I've done all month. Otherwise, it's just been church play/kids kingdom stuff. I did turn down a trip out to eat with Soph and a friend. However, I WAS going to Magic Mountain Saturday, had it not been closed due to fire......

Can I take a true sabbatical for a month? How do people afford that?

This entry had turned rambly and unfocused. I just have one more thing to say:

While I strongly believe in being active in your community and standing up for what you believe, I would suggest those who oppose Prop 8 to move forward instead of whining about how it passed. I say this not based on my own personal opinion on the proposition (though, for the record, I did vote yes after giving it much thought and prayer), but because waving a sign and ranting on myspace isn't going to accomplish anything. Become involved in an activist group or take a part in local government instead. If you feel strongly about ANY issue, then you should do something proactive about it. Educate yourself about all sides of the issue, know why you believe, and search for positive solutions. As for Prop 8, it's over, it's passed.
Also, if you don't live in California, thanks but no thanks for your input. Again, do something proactive in your local community. If you feel that strongly, move here so it becomes your community and do something proactive. There were other angles to Prop 8 besides yes or no that most of the country didn't pay attention to- for instance, the fact that it had already been voted on, then overturned by the court despite what the people wanted. No matter what the issue is, our system of government is built on giving people as much power possible. When judges or leaders use their position to overturn what the entire state voted on, it only undermines the power of the vote. If enough people want to overturn the original decision, there are proper ways to put it on the ballot again. I'm assuming, all of you who have sent me Keith Olbermann's video, that you do care about these details as well. ;)

Alright, the news is on with fire updates. I'm praying that the three firetrucks who raced by here a bit ago don't mean anything serious.

November 13, 2008

a day like every other

i have hairy legs today. When i opened my eyes this morning, I took a moment to admire the sunrise-orange sky from my window, then weighed my options of more sleep or snooze button. The snooze won- for an hour. And my skilled procrastinative self jumped up, got ready, and was out of the house in twenty minutes.

Save one minor detail. I wore a skirt. This decision was made due to said skirt not needing the iron (ironing takes time, you know), and the lack of quality time in front of the mirror. Fortunately for me, I was behind a desk half of the day, and my hair is somewhat light. Unfortunately, i felt like a yeti most of the day... Sasquatch in a skirt.

But maybe everyone was too busy too notice. After all, we had an earthquake drill today. A big promotion where everyone in the predicted destruction path of the San Andreas sat under their desk at 10am. But God loves me and wants me to be entertained. The monthly management meeting was scheduled for this morning. That meant at 10am, our management team was seated around the table in the large conference room, the one with the big glass wall right near my desk. I got to watch each and everyone of them crawl under that table. It made my week.

I also got to see L.A. from one of the skyscrapers downtown. My boss and I visited the Canon open house to consider our options for an updated copier. I can't imagine working every day there, on the 54th floor... or higher. My ears popped in the rushing, wobbly elevator (an elevator i could NOT take on a regular basis. Seriously, childhood claustraphobia is pretty much gone, but elevators are still freaky).

Then in the afternoon, I saw building tenants (who apparently still had too much dignity left after the morning's drill) digging in the dirt outside the front door. The building management offered plants to any willing soul before the landscaping is removed for construction next door. A couple of my co-workers joined dozens of others with shovels and gloves, still dressed in business attire.

i don't even know how to end this entry. It's just a day... .colorful like every other. It's actually part of what I like about where I live and work. Normalcy, after all, is not worth our time.

November 11, 2008

a lot of catchin' up to do

So my plans of updating from San Diego didn't quite happen. We were too cheap to keep paying for internet access in our room, and I was too lazy to try to update from my phone. So now you get a recap.

Luckily for me, the recap comes courtesy of my brand new laptop!! Woohoo!! While the tragic and devastating crash of my hard drive still stings (farewell, lost files. I will miss you), there is some comfort from my new Dell Studio 15. I can log in with my fingerprint, take photos straight from the memory card from my digital camera, and utilize up to three USB ports. It's designed for media... movies, music, photos, editing... and the top has a durable rubberized cover in plum. :) Once i finish adjusting the settings to my like and exploring the options- like sidebar gadgets and a blog manager that sadly doesn't work with myspace, i shall try editing projects and maybe reviving my youtube account. Oh, and if i get bored with all THAT fun? There are games. Not only solitaire and minesweeper, but fun other games. And a built in microphone that I haven't had a chance to try. So it's safe to say i love my new computer. But enough fawning, vacation recap time.

You might have seen the pictures I posted (if not, check 'em out :) ). Let me sort it out into something manageable....

I left our last entry on that low-key Monday with little to tell. Really, we just got settled in. So how about a day-by-day summary? Imagine all events laced with sleeping in, time to read, and visits to the jacuzzi.

Tuesday: Originally planned on kayaking, but waking up to rain dampened our plans (lame pun, i know). Instead, we went to the grocery and explored Oceanside a bit. It was a day to relax and unwind. We went to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner (since it was right next to the hotel and all), and Dairy Queen for dessert! I miss Dairy Queen now that it's not so conveniently located.... It was in a convenience/bait and tackle store buying a postcard for Claudia and ranch dressing that we heard McCain's speech and realized Obama won the election. I can't say I was all that dazzled by Obama's acceptance speech, but we'll see if he can come through on any of the change he promises. I do hope to see Sarah Palin in national leadership soon. Maybe she'll be a senator?

Wednesday: Kayaking!! I waited so long.... sigh. I love kayaking. It's hard to believe i've really only gone a couple times. Like the proverbial bike-riding, it was so easy to get back in the groove once we were out on the water with paddle in hand. We saw leopard sharks and sea lions up-close-and-personal, and ventured into the sea caves for a brief-but-way-cool look around. As we made our way to the shore, we flipped the kayak. No biggie, the water wasn't that deep at that point. I love when the waves over take you and turn you in somersaults... crazy, i know. But being in the ocean and just letting it spin you around... it's happy. We also checked out La Jolla cove and the sandstone cliffs. There's nothing like a sunset as waves dance over rocks....

Thursday: A tip from our kayak guide led us to a mountaintop veterans memorial with a fantastic view. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring Balboa Park in downtown San Diego. I read online a few weeks ago that it's the "Central Park of San Diego" if that helps you get a mental picture. Lots of gardens, museums, and the zoo (which we visited another day). Highlights included amazing architecture, sushi and miso soup outside the Japanese friendship garden (which was itself was surprisingly tiny), the butterfly garden, the palm tree jungle trail, and the fact that there was more than we could see in a day. At night, we checked out the way groovy weekly Oceanside street fair and went to the water's edge to collect seashells in the dark.

Friday: We went back to the beach in the morning, and just hung out and waded in the water. I could get all poetic about the water baptizing my feet and washing away whatever it is that needs washing away, or describe the smooth rocks in the sand that literally glitters with specks of gold (yeah yeah, mica), but really, unless you were breathing in the salty-air moment it sounds like a cheesy piece of whimsy. You truly did have to be there. Soph's mom and stepdad joined us for the weekend.

Saturday: San Diego Zoo! A place i've wanted to visit since childhood... And it was pretty nifty. I missed feeding the giraffes, sadly. But my day will come.... Some of the animals are immortalized in my pics. Randomly, i kept thinking of my childhood dreams of marine biology and zookeeping this week. Nighttime found us in Old Town San Diego, and at the Whaley House. The landmark is reported to be the most haunted place in America by tons of experts... now I don't particularly believe in wandering souls, but i DO believe in demons and spirits. So you better believe i prayed my heart out before we walked in! Soph's stepdad is into the whole ghost thing, and was snapping photo after photo in hopes of catching something supernatural. He actually got a couple of creepy shots, including what looks like a wispy face by a lamp. The lamp is in one of the children's room, and the employees (who report all sorts of creepy happenings they've witnessed first-hand) say that if they turn off that lamp at night, they return to a mess in the room the next morning. And my pictures? Though i took a lot of pictures in the same place/time, I got nothing. The house itself was interesting though. History bores me, unless it's really getting down to what it was like to live day-to-day in another time. Stepping into a preserved home was pretting interesting, even if it WAS crawling with ghost-hunters. Oh, and if you're interested, I have Soph's stepdad on my friends list (Drums of Mordor), and he posted the pics online.

Sunday: We visited the aircraft carrier USS Midway. It was gigantic, like a city in itself. Again, imagining day-to-day living on a massive boat was crazy....

And now it's back to "real life" and work again. I'm training for the new position, so it's challenging in a good way. So far, I like it. But it keeps me hopping all day! (which, hopefully, will burn more calories. Because since the layoffs in August, the stress at work has reduced me to stress-eating. And checking out some of the vacation photos i DIDN'T post, you can totally see the effects of my comfort cookies, pizza, or margaritas. Though a new challenge has emerged... tonight, thanks to the free drink promotion, I was introduced to the peppermint mocha latte from Coffee Bean. Oh, happy holidays....).

When i was a freshman in Mr. Rettig's English class, I had a planner with a map of the U.S. One day, i circled a dot labled Oceanside, California. I declared this would be my future home (with summer headquarters in Hawaii, of course). Sure, my decision was based on three simple facts- 1. It was halfway between L.A. and San Diego, 2. It was right on the coast, and 3. The word "ocean" was in the name. After spending time in the town for real, I realize my 14-year-old self was brilliantly right on the money.

Just a little test

Big entry coming soon... highlights include vacation and free coffee at Coffee Bean. Right now I'm testing some of the features on my new laptop. While losing my entire hard drive was at the most extreme level of suckage, my new laptop is AMAZING. Right now i'm using a built-in blog manager to update. If i can figure out how, I might be able to update both myspace and blogger in one fell swoop. Now if only it could upload pics and stuff to picasa/myspace/facebook all at once. Really, it's getting a bit ridiculous.....

November 03, 2008

vacating, day one

It took us a bit to get on the road, so the morning was filled with last-minute packing, getting Jolie all taken care of, and even a little Guitar Hero until Soph was ready to go.

Driving to San Diego wasn't bad. Of course, that could be because our destination is technically Oceanside, so it isn't as far south. Near Camp Pendleton a big ol' flock of military aircraft flew over us.

We couldn't check in until four, so we drove down the road a bit and ate at a tiny little roadside diner. Next door was an itty-bitty vintage clothing store.

We are staying at Soph's mom and stepdad's timeshare. It's randomly located by the harbor near the freeway and train tracks.... but is saved from ghetto status by being amazingly near the ocean. I can see the water from our balcony. Happy.

So our biggest accomplishment of the night? Hanging out in the jacuzzi. THAT was the moment i started to relax. Now I just sit while Soph watches random campaign coverage on tv.

On that note, I will be SO GLAD when the election is over. I voted by mail-in ballot last week. It's to the point where everyone has made up their minds and are only bickering. Ready to move forward....