California Dreamin’ No More

December 31, 2007

I have arrived in California.

Right now I’m in Orange County staying with some family until Roommate J and I find jobs and an apartment. She is flying in on the 3rd, and after that point I hope this trip will start feeling more like life instead of just a vacation.

I will have to fill y’all in on the details a little later because right now I’m getting ready to go to bed. I have to take my mom to the airport tomorrow (sad), and after that D and I are setting up some great New Year’s plans in Hollywood on New Years night and then perhaps to Pasadena to see the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. Needless to say, after a 4-day drive from Minnesota to California, I need some really good sleep though, so I’m turning in early tonight.

I promise I’ll get back to blogging regularly in the next several days.

Good night!

I am posting on a Sunday night.

And let me tell you, the last few days have been hectic. They’ve been hectic because I’ve been on a couch getting better from my third, mind you, THIRD cold since I moved back to Minnesota in October. And I’ve had a whole bunch of stuff to do. Stuff that I’ve been getting done more last minute than I’d like, but you know, it’s all coming together.

I leave for California on Wednesday. WEDNESDAY. THAT’S TWO DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS AWAY! Tonight I called D just to let him know that I’ve packed some stuff in my car already. I have no idea how I’m going to fit it all, but that’s how I always feel when I move, and it always works out somehow. I have a big next few days ahead of me. My goal is to get the rest of my packing, cleaning, and loading the car done tomorrow before the Christmas Eve service at my grandma’s church, so I can just spend time with my family Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without worrying about all the little things I have to get done. I will go to the bank tomorrow and take out cash for the drive. I can’t believe it’s actually here. I’ve been planning this move since May, but it seemed like it would never get here… all those nervous nights of waking up, thinking, “What in the world am I doing?!?!” when all I could do was plan. I’m much more of a do-er. Most of my nervousness has quelled now that I have something to do in preparation of the Big Move.

And D? Yeah. He’s excited, so he tells me. It’s been nearly five months since I saw him last. This will be very, very good.

So, here are the boring details of my trip for those of you who care to know:

Mom and I will leave the morning of December 26. She is driving to California with me. The drive should take around 24 hours without stops. We’re going to stop for the night on the first night and hopefully make the trip in two days, depending on the weather. When we arrive, we’re staying with my mom’s cousin S and her husband B. I will also be staying with them after mom flies out until Roommate J and I find jobs and an apartment. Mom and I are hoping to go see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum Of Natural History in San Diego. Mom is flying out on New Year’s Eve around noon.

Then, well, it’s time for me to start acclimating myself to California. After Mom leaves, it will start to feel less like a vacation or summer camp and more like, well, LIFE. I can’t think too far ahead of myself here, else I will panic a little. One step at a time. Right now I just need to focus on fitting all that stuff in my car.

But this ill girl is going to bed. Packing the car to its full potential can happen bright and early tomorrow morning.

I leave you with some photos, courtesy of my sister-in-law A:

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Eat yer gruel, ye scurvy baby! Yar.

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Garage Sale-in’

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Garage Sale-in’, Cont’d: Would Anyone Care To Purchase This Baby?

Oh, and one more thing… I got my hair cut on Saturday, and it’s a cross between Little French Girl and Cleopatra. It will be fun once I have a chance to play with it more, but for now, I feel like I ought to be wearing a slinky gold dress and a bejeweled headband. I like it though. Pictures will come.

For Reals?!?

December 21, 2007

The shower is generally a prime location for deep thoughts, and this morning was no different. Today it occurred to me that most reality shows on television are about people who, in many ways, don’t have a lot of common sense or may lack some of those down-to-earth qualities that average people have. Do people ever get turned away from reality shows because they’re too smart? Do the producers meet their quota for smart people after just a few and send the rest home? Or are smart people just too smart to even want to be on the show in the first place?

Now, you may or may not agree with me on the brain-state of most reality TV stars. But let me support my assertions by naming off just a few of the many reality shows featuring people who are less-than brilliant: America’s Next Top Model, The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Girls Next Door, and even America’s Most Smartest Model is pretty iffy. If you gauge smarts on whether or not you can name a river in France (and most of the contestants can’t) or whether or not you can name an Italian designer (um, think just about any designer… Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Roberto Cavalli… and most contestants can’t), well, then I guess these models aren’t really smart. Would they even be considered smart if they could merely recall rote knowledge, as the questions ask them to?

I haven’t watched any of these shows extensively except ANTM, but they all have the same idea. America likes watching stupid people compete, or watching rich people who are also stupid live their daily lives. Now, these rich people may have the tenacity or insanity to make a lot of money, but they do not have the intelligence it takes to raise smart, hard-working children or solve conflicts within relationships.

So, what if we created a show called Smart People, and it was all about, well, smart people. My first though was that I should have a reality show made about me, moving to California. Because I’m smart. And I have smart friends. And we’re funny. It would be about a writing group that gets together for editing, or what we talk about on the weekends, or about the huge argument D and I had the other night about the meaning of the word prolific:

Ann: No, you’re wrong. Prolific has nothing to do with quality. It’s all about the quantity of things. When Dr. B told me I was a prolific writer, she didn’t necessarily mean that it was good — she just meant that I do it a lot.

D: No. When you call something prolific, you mean that it’s good.

Ann: No, D, let’s look it up in the dictionary.

D: I am looking it up in the dictionary.

Ann: So am I, but my dictionary is better than your dictionary.

D: What makes you say that?

Ann: Mine is a $2 dictionary I bought at an antique shop, and it’s like 8 inches thick.

D: Whatever. Yours is just old. Here, let’s ask John [D’s roommate]. John has his master’s degree. You should listen to him. Hey, John, what would you say the word prolific means?

[John’s muffled voice is in the background, but I can’t quite hear what he’s saying]

D [speaking to John]: So, you wouldn’t say that it has anything at all to do with quality?

Ann: YES! I KNEW IT! D, JOHN HAS HIS MASTER’S DEGREE, SO YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM!

Our reality show could also feature us taking IQ tests and looking up things in our dictionaries. We could have specials about writing research papers, and subtitles with definitions of the words we use so the common public could understand what we’re saying. This would especially be helpful with D’s Philosophical Phriends. And if we ever got into fights, the show would feature us having debates in suits, with notecards.

EDIT: My friend Lee Ella posted this video on my MySpace in honor of my upcoming (5 DAYS!) move to California.

The funniest part about this is that the cows’ accents are exactly like those of the middle-age farm wives I worked with at the fruit packing company.

Handmade Christmas Sneak Peak

December 20, 2007

So, I totally had another closeup shot of a different gift I made to give away, but I accidently deleted it off my camera before I had a chance to put it on the computer. Why didn’t I just take another? Because I got overly eager and already wrapped the gift. Oh well. I’ll take another picture after the recipient opens it.

So, this is all I’ve got for you:

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I’m super excited about the gifts I’m making. It’s been a great past few days just being creative. I leave for California in six days!

My longer-than-a-week hiatus has two real excuses.

1.) I was under a blog detox. A while back I posted a lolcats picture, and for the past few weeks, my search engine terms have been crammed with people looking for FUNNY CATS! Seriously. There has been little else. In fact, my hits have been nearly 250 hits higher than average. It was really annoying me. I was disappointed that I couldn’t check my blog stats and be proud that I had 358 hits. They really didn’t care about my writing. They just cared about the FUNNY CATS! So, I deleted the lolcats picture off my blog, and it took about a week for Google Images to figure out that the post no longer exists.

2.) Work has been nuts. Every night I’ve come home exhausted. This job has really made me appreciate assembly-line workers. I can’t imagine working on an assembly line for more than a month. I’m so thankful that it worked out for me to have this job for this short time that I’m home, but today I am even more thankful that tomorrow my paycheck will be in my hands, and I can move on to bigger and better things….

LIKE CALIFORNIA! BECAUSE I’M LEAVING IN 9 DAYS!

Also, some pretty amazing things have happened in the past few days that remind me just how great God’s faithfulness is. The money came through from the insurance company for the Great Rear-Ending of 2007, and with some generosity from my father, it covered the cost of my new car, the Sable Who Has No Name. My dad also did some work on the car for me, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a mechanic father. Let’s just say that after he told me everything he did on the car, all I could say, with wide eyes and an unsquelchable smile, was, “Merry Christmas to me!” I was planning on getting him honey roasted cashews for Christmas or a new set of keys he could use to clean out his ears. I guess I’ll have to re-think those options.

Also, a dear friend of mine took it upon himself to send me a little package in the mail today. It was quite lovely and touching. Thank you, friend. You know who you are. I will send you an email sometime tomorrow to thank you personally.

Speaking of Christmas, I didn’t have to work on Sunday, and I went Christmas shopping with my mom and grandma. I’m planning on making most of my Christmas gifts this year, and I had a great time in the craft stores picking out the materials to purchase. I can’t wait to post some photos of what I make, but that, of course, will have to wait until after Christmas and the gifts have been bestowed upon their recipients. And, of course, after I actually make said gifts.

One thing I did purchase for my nephew Ezra is a baby toy of the future, and I can’t wait to give it to him. It’s a new take on a typical baby toy, and I knew it was great when my mom saw it and was disappointed that she hadn’t gotten it for him.

Speaking of my niece and nephew… I love them. They will be the hardest to leave in 9 days because they will be so much bigger when I see them again. It has been truly wonderful to be around them for the past month and a half. I don’t regret the decision to come home for a little while at all.

I promise that I will start writing about homeschooling soon. Today was my last day of work until I find a job in California, and I’m looking forward to letting my body rest for a while. For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’m working out all day every day. Tomorrow I am sleeping in!

Today, while going through a box of old college papers and pitching about 75% of them, I ran across my folder of poetry. Now, this folder is generally something I don’t know what to do with. It is where I stash all types of pieces of paper on which I have written anything even vaguely poetic in case it might some day inspire a great American masterpiece. So far all it has done is grow. In fact, I don’t think I have actually ever looked through and read all of this gobble-de-gook. I just keep adding to it. I must be saving up for something big.

When I opened the folder, I did feel a certain pang from those days when I wrote prolifically and had all types of friends nearby to be excited about it. They didn’t even have to read what I was writing — they were just excited that I was writing, the same type of excitement that my boyfriend expresses when I tell him I’m working on something, which isn’t too often these days.

As 2007 is drawing to a close, I’m thinking about doing some sort of 2007 wrap-up on le blog, which will be a synopsis of my top 5 greatest movies, books, TV shows, etc. to see if they’ve changed at all through the course of the year. When I started thinking about the books, I had to smack myself. I’ve been such a bad reader this year, and, consequently, a bad writer. This blog conflicts me a little. While it is good that I am practicing the discipline of writing every day (and believe me, having an audience helps, so thanks! I appreciate you all!), I am not practicing the discipline of re-writing. I sort of just type what I’m thinking and hit publish, only going back in to clarify or fix the punctuation. That, my friends, is not writing. It is drivel. Now, it may be enjoyable drivel, but it is still drivel.

Which brings me to a funny story. About three years ago, I had the honor of living with a house full of awesome girls during our senior year of college (and HK was a grad student). We were all sitting around the living room one afternoon working on homework, but HK was looking at a book her sister had left at our house after we threw the sister a Book Shower for her birthday. Book Showers are very popular birthday parties in my camp of things. Each guest that comes to the party must bring the birthday girl/boy a book as a gift. It can be used, new, whatever. It just has to be a book. I think we had three or four Book Showers in that house for various people the year that we lived there. Anyway, the book was given as a joke to HK’s sister, and the title was something like, How to Be a Good Christian. Now, I am a Christian and have nothing against Christianity as a religion. But I hate, hate, hate it when supposed Christian big-shots pretend like you can have a step-by-step guidebook on how to live a successful Christian life. It’s so trite and cliche and revolting. But all that is a post for another day.

I had the good fortune of living with other Christian women who believe the same as I do about how sad it is that these Christian big-shots shoot up their fellow believers with a bunch of jargon that has nothing to do with making the tough decisions. HK was looking at the book when I walked in, and all I heard was my other roommate A saying, “…why are you reading that Christian drivel?”

“What Christian drivel?” I asked.

A looked at me, smirked, and said, “Your diary.”

That was just another highlight of 616 Maple Street. We got our kicks at 616.

Anyway, back on the topic of my poetry folder… I found a sheet of paper full of lists. At the time that I wrote the lists, I’m pretty sure I was reading a chapter from The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, which is quite the brilliant little manuscript. In it, Shonagon writes these fantastic, concrete descriptions. Amazon.com’s summary of the book says, “The Pillow Book is a collection of anecdotes, memories of court and religious ceremonies, character sketches, lists of things the author enjoyed or loathed, places that interested her, diary entries, descriptions of nature, pilgrimages, conversations, poetry exchanges–indeed, almost everything that made up daily life for the upper classes in Japan during the Heian period. Her style is so eloquent, her observations so skillfully chosen, and her wit so sharp that even the smallest detail she records can attract and hold the attention of any modern reader.” Some of the lines will make you laugh out loud. Others will strike you in such a way that you will never forget them. The description is that precise.

When I was reading this book, I attempted to write lists of things similar to Shonogans’. Mine are certainly not as poignant as hers, but just the same, here they are:

Things the people with whom I grew up consider scandalous:

Theft
– Lashing out at other people
– Spending large amounts of money on frivolous things
– Pornography
– Murder
– Abuse
– Racial prejudice
– Benny Hinn

Pathetic Things:

The way a woman opens her mouth when she is putting on mascara
– A dead fish floating in a tank
– The accidental sight of a stranger’s naked body
– The uncontrol of what one eats
– Vomiting

Things of which I am afraid:

Dead things
– Grasshoppers and centipedes
– Being attacked by a crocodile
– Suffocation (in the forms of drowning or being buried alive)
– Heights
– Organized sports
– My own indifference and apathy
– The deaths of those close to me
– Leering men
– Small talk

Things I dislike but will endure to be polite:

Naughty children
– Eating tomatoes
– Hunger
– Bad poetry
– Gossip
– Bad coffee
– Teenage enthusiasm
– Discussions on politics
– Overt flirtatiousness
– Phone calls from acquaintances (I only like talking on the phone with people I know and trust. Otherwise, I loathe it. I’m one of those awkward phone people.)
– Exclamation point rampancy

Things I embrace:

– A good pen
– Hot baths
– A movie as a study break
– A good book on a rainy day (how trite)
– A creative project
– A deep conversation
– New shoes
– Old jeans
– Hard work
– 8 hours of sleep
– Physical affection
– Having friends over for dinner
– Theme parties
– Smiles from kind strangers
– A long email about nonsense
– Bare feet
– Mutts
– Old houses
– The smell of an extinguished candle

Added To the Blogroll…

December 6, 2007

Y’all must check out my friend Lee Ella’s blog. I nominated her for the Subversive Blogger award last week, and unfortunately, her Xanga account was set to private, so no one got to experience the wonders of her writing. She has started a new blog, and I am proud to mention it. Take a look here.

A Brief Homeschool Hiatus

December 5, 2007

Hi, Friends. I’m working on the homeschooling information for the blog, but I may not actually be able to get it out to you until early next week. I’ve been working super hard at le fruit packing company the past few days, and my wrists hurt so badly from tossing grapefruit into boxes on an assembly line asfastasIpossiblycan that I’m having a hard time typing. Plus, I’m so tired when I get home from work that I sit down and try to write a post and all my creativity shuts down with my tired little eyes. And we’re getting ready for a garage sale this weekend, so that’s just one extra big thing on my plate right now. (In case you’re wondering about the sub-zero temperatures here in Minnesota, we’re having the sale inside at the local community center.)

Also, as I’ve begun trying to write some background on my homeschool experiences, I’m finding out that I need to consult my mom and brother on a few things. I was only about three years old when we began the whole homeschool extravaganza, and though I have a pretty good memory, I know a few things are a little fuzzy in my head. It would be nice to have their input.

Before I go to bed and the boringly early hour of 10 p.m., however, I must say that I am moving to California in three and a half weeks. I’m a little terrified. I keep praying for the right job and for wisdom and that the money I’ve been saving will stretch far enough to carry me until I find that job. (Is it taboo to talk about finances on a blog? Well, I’m only twenty-five. It must be pretty obvious that I haven’t exactly built up a nest egg yet.)

Anyway, before I go, I do have to say that I find it pretty funny that some people have such strong opinions about homeschool, and it seems the ones that have the strongest opinions are those who have never actually experienced homeschool.  There are plenty of stereotypes — I pride myself on being able to point homeschoolers out in a crowd of people — but there are also the average homeschoolers. Plenty of my friends have heard the words, “What? You were homeschooled? But you’re so normal!”

And this is the perspective that I operate from, the former homeschooler, yet no one would know it. I cut and dye my hair. I watch R-rated movies. I have a bikini. Yes, all these things, and I was homeschooled.

Minnesota has been very cold lately, so I decided to counter-act the frigid by taking a really hot bath when I got home from work today. It was just the ticket, but now I’m so relaxed and sleepy that I just want to curl up in my bed. While I was in the bathtub, however, I thought of a new topic to blog about for the next week or so. It may not be quite as interesting as long-distance dating, but just the same, I get asked a lot of questions about it, so I’ve decided to unlock this mystery of mysteries: Homeschool.

In church yesterday, there was this litttle girl who was sitting in front of me, wearing this gauzy, sparkly, pink little dress. I’m betting she had dressed herself that morning, and if her sister’s fuzzy Elmo sweater was any indication, she had done the same. I love, love, love it when kids dress themselves. The outfits crack me up because I see so much of myself in those girls, so much of the little girl who wore purple jogging pants all the time and refused to wear socks. Stirrup pants were my wardrobe staple for a while, and I owned a neon green sweatshirt. Remember scrunchies? Yeah. Had ’em. Wore ’em as bracelets.

Most of you probably don’t know that I was, indeed, homeschooled for most of my life. But mark my words: I swear that I never wore inordinate amounts of denim.

Tomorrow I will begin writing about the things that made homeschool a successful experience for me. And I have a pretty good grasp on the particulars that made homeschool difficult at times. So, if you’ve been homeschooled, are thinking about homeschooling, or just plain think homeschoolers are crazy (my boyfriend D claims to be in this camp of people, but guess what, he’s still dating me), catch me tomorrow when I plan to be well-rested and ready to share all the deep, dark, dirty secrets of homeschooling.

When I began this series, I wrote down a number of points in my journal that might be good to cover. For the most part, this will be the last entry of the series, but I might come back to it every once-in-a-while when I learn something new or if anyone has a topic for discussion that they would like to share. I do have a few more things to add, however, and most of them are practical things.

1.) Never underestimate the U.S. Postal Service

USE THE MAIL. There is nothing like receiving a good old-fashioned letter from the sweet dumpling in your life, or even a care package. As many of you know, I’m really into fashion (I write a fashion column on finding discount fashion at ZIA), and I really like dressing people. I especially like dressing guys. I try to stay away from getting clothes for D because he has two sophisticated sisters who have taught him well. Plus, he’s just got good taste. But I have sent him a few surprise articles of clothing: an excellent shirt that I bought at the GAP when I worked there and had my tremendous employee discount, and a red and grey scarf that I crocheted:

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D is excellent about sending me mix CDs. In fact, one of the ways that we got to know each other so well over the phone in the beginning is because he sent me a bunch of mix CDs with playlists like…

“To Be Young” by Ryan Adams
“Sugar Magnolia” by The Grateful Dead
“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
“Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan
“Ocean Breaths Salty” by Modest Mouse
“Novocaine For the Soul” by The Eels
“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” by Wilco
“Thank You For Sending Me” by the Talking Heads
“Baby Blue” by Gene Vincent
“Down By the River” by Neal Young
“I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You” by Tom Waits
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
“Visions of Johanna” by Bob Dylan
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

They were excellent. I reciprocated by sending him some of my favorite music, and we had a good time discussing what we like and dislike, etc.

We also tried something that kind of flopped, but it might work for other people. D had the idea that we should send each other brief homework lists once a month with a book to read, music to listen to, and movies to see. We each sent one another one homework list, but neither of us ever completed them. I am still chipping away at Crime and Punishment, and D still has not sent me those Seventeen Magazine-style, heartthrob photographs of himself that I requested. I guess we can tell which of us is the one with depth in this relationship.

Speaking of photographs, digital cameras make it a lot easier to share photographs of events family, or yourself. D loves it when I send him pictures, even if they’re just my outtake photos from masthead pictures for this website. I also send him pictures of stuff I’m doing because he lives so far away and often can’t be there.

D and I have also sent one another books and DVDs for borrowing so we can read or watch them and then discuss. Also, we both listened to his copy of the audio book of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. That gave us a lot to talk about.

2.) Use email extensively because it’s free!!!

D and I email each other articles, notes, messages on Facebook, links to short stories and poetry, and basically anything that interests us. It’s a great way to touch base on a daily or weekly basis. Also, Facebook now has applications where you can engage in a little bit of healthy internet competition with your significant other and friends. D and I often play Scrabble with each other over the internet. Nothing beats playing a game with him in person, but Scrabble on the internet is just one of the little things we can do to keep in touch and have fun together without having to talk on the phone all the time.

3.) And lastly….

When you’re in a long-distance relationship, it’s easy to get in the rut of being extremely gushy and relationship-y when you’re on the phone. You know what I’m talking about… those people who get all mushy every time they talk to each other. People in close-distance relationships do the same thing, but because they have to spend time with other people on a regular basis, it doesn’t have the chance of happening as often. I’ve learned, however, that at least for me, it’s better if I don’t say, “I miss you,” unless I really mean it. If I say it constantly, it diminishes in value. I want it to surprise D and make him feel good. I don’t want it to become a routine.

In a long-distance relationship, it’s also really important to make an effort to be vocally affirming. People who live close to one another don’t have to be quite as intentional because they can hug and kiss each other at least once-a-week. D and I don’t have that privilege. If I want to tell him that I like him, I have to tell him. I have to say things like, “You’re my Little Cracker, and I’m your lady, and you’ve got some seriously symmetrical elbows there.” Or whatever works.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I’m not saying that I know all the answers or anything, but I know several people who read this blog are in or have been in long-distance relationships and could also provide some advice.

Thanks so much for reading this series! I’ve enjoyed writing it and enjoyed your comments.

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