Thursday, December 25, 2003

White Christmas

It seems better to me that my first 'white Christmas' was not full of cold snow drifts and terrifying driving conditions. No, it was full of frothy ocean currents washing piles of seafoam high up the shoreline.

The waves have been impressive the last few days--they came up high and lapped angrily at the sand and rocks here on the Northern Oregon Coast. It was awe-inspiring. My mom, sister, and I, each armed with our digital cameras, ventured to the best vantage point in town south of downtown Seaside and en route to Tillamook Head just to watch the ocean turn.

If I get the chance soon, I'll post pictures.

Speaking of which, the kids' gift to mom went over well. Of course it did. We banded together to get her something good, something she really wanted, for the first time ever. We got her a digital camera. A Fuji Finepix A210, specifically. It's pretty snazzy. I think she will have a lot of fun with it. She is already taking spectacular shots of the results of some holiday fight between Neptune and everyone else on Mount Olympus.

I think everyone got a good haul this year. I got a new blender, some DVDs, the Magnetic Fields box set (finally), books, and several other nice things from my mom. My aunt sent a lovely cashmere scarf. My sister brought me a mortar and pestle from Chinatown and my brother bought me a copy of Al Franken's book (also finally). The latter was given to me saying, "You can borrow it or keep it, up to you. But Sarah wants to read it." Hah. I'll lend it when I finish, or while I'm gone if I don't finish it before then. I am not taking a hardcover book on the plane with me.

I neeeed to call Winnie. Things are sort of lined up--I need to stay in a hotel my first night in KL as the Malaysians will be in Singapore, but after that I get to annoy them from home. Yay! I got my shots and meds and all kinds of scary crap from my visit to the ARNP travel clinic and now just need to figure out how the hell I'm taking my stuff, and what stuff exactly I'm taking. It won't be much. The lighter, the better. I have the haul this shit around.

Not sure yet if I'll be heading back to Seattle tomorrow or Saturday. If I hear from Rachel tonight or tomorrow morning, I will stick around an see her, otherwise I'll go back to Seattle and pack, then have plenty of time to spend with Josie...and Kevin! Who changed his plane ticket to come home Sunday morning and see me before I leave because he is the best boy ever! So I will be busy and need to be ready to go before I have intensive Josie time and happy Kevin time. And I have to finish Josie's thing, shit.

So much to do and so little time!

I've been eating so well here. By well, I mean richly. Mmmmm. Shellfish! Vegetables! Cookies! Deliciousness in excess! Mmmm!

...I'm going to explode. After my teeth fall out.

And the weather has been exciting and so has the TV. So yay. Cable with HBO. God bless us, every one.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

This May Be the Last...

...time you hear from me before my trip. Before everything. But it's hard to tell.

We're still trying to figure out how to set up a network at the new house. Chris's room is directly below mine, but he's terrified of making holes in the wall/ceiling/floor to poke a network cable through. The outlets in my room are the only ones in the house not grounded, so Chris will have to do something makeshift to ground them. He's hoping it will be easy (just have to ground to the case inside the outlet), rather than stringing grounding wire all over creation. It's complicated.

The phone line is moving tomorrow, and it will likely take a few days for the DSL service to catch up. Chris will have to set this up remotely, as he is going to Wenatchee after we move everything on Saturday.

And today is my last day at work, land of wonderful internet access.

All this adds up to it being pretty likely I won't be touching blogger for the next week.

Maybe I'll catch up in net cafes in Thailand or from Meesh or Winnie's computers. But I am thinking maybe not. How connected do I need to be? Can't I just keep a paper journal and bring you three weeks' worth of highlights when I get home?

We'll see.

Everything is so up in the air right now, I don't know what to think. We've got about three days to get everything, I mean, everything, settled. Houses, rents, bills, furniture placements, trips, holidays, everything. I get a few days after Christmas to pack and spend time with Josie for the last time in forever (2-3 years is a fucking long time in my book). I need to figure out what and how I'm packing and put together an appropriate travel kit. I need to figure out luggage and daypacks and everything. I need to make sure I have money.

I made an appointment to see the same nurse practitioner I saw Tuesday on Monday, this time for a travel consultation. I think I'm getting a vaccine for Typhoid Fever and anti-malarial meds. On Tuesday I got the annual physical, including happy-fun gynocological exam (she told me I had a beautiful cervix) and Hep A and first Hep B shots.

Oh, I'm also putting together a semi-artsy going-away-present for Josie that will be left to the organizational powers of Christine to fill in the blanks. It is sort of time-consuming and requires Internet access. Why I'm not working on it now, I don't know.

Driving to Seaside for Christmas, probably on Tuesday. Maybe Monday after I see the ARNP I'll go to Olympia for the night, spend some time with my sister if she's not partying with her friends or definitely try to see Becky. Come home on the 26th, I think. Or the 27th. Rachel wants to visit, too. Mom wants to see Sua in Portland one day. May the weather not suck.

Kevin is leaving tomorrow night. I thought he was leaving in the morning, but it's great that he's not. I am going to make him help us move some stuff, maybe help with networking. Then I'll give him a ride to the airport. He wants me to go check on his stuff while he's away. He is very concerned with getting burgled. He even asked me to stay there, which is sort of a no-go. I probably don't get to see him until I come back from my trip, either, and I'm sad about that.

Good god, there is a lot going on. I can't believe how inactive I'm being considering how much is going on. We need to pack, move, and clean in the next three days or else. Fuck.

Then Christmas. Time with the family. Insane amounts of driving and, no doubt, traffic.

Then packing and intensive Josie time. (I suppose that's actually a good thing.)

Then trip.


Monday, December 15, 2003

Nice Weekend; Too Bad It's Over

Birthday dinners, Christmas parties, and game nights are wonderful things.

There were eleven of us at dinner Thursday night. We decimated four vegetarian dishes, a chicken plate, five naan, three plates of rice, and assorted desserts and beverages. It was delicious and wonderful. I tried kulfi for the first time, which was excellent. I want to try to make it with soy ice cream (so Kevin can try it) and ground-up pistachios, almonds, and cardamom. Yummy. Both Livia and Reid (Reid came! For the first time in months I got to see Reid! And she brought me a pretty assortment of teas!) tried Indian food for the first time and apparently enjoyed it.

People gave me birthday presents, too. Lovely surprises. Besides Reid's tea assortment, Lindsay gave me a cylinder of blackberry sage loose tea, which smells amazing. Chris gave me a couple CDs (the Postal Service and the Talking Heads' More Songs About Buildings and Food, both brilliant records and nice to have in the car) and Lauren gave me a box of vegan mac & chreese. Christine and Josie are way cool and got me a rice maker, which rocks because I make terrible stovetop rice.

Friday afternoon's party prep was quite abbreviated, as I arrived around 2 p.m. only to find the house was already cleaned and organized. I just mopped the kitchen floor and did a few dishes (for the house I haven't lived at for a week, nice). Livia used my computer after preparing the easiest brownies on earth (box + yogurt + stir) and I hung out with Josie. Christine and Danger showed up 45 minutes early and helped with things like slicing bread and listening to records.

It was a slow party that lasted until nearly 11 p.m. with chattering, music, snacking, gifting, and gaming. Jen was my Secret Santa and gave me a couple nice books--a seafood at fancy San Francisco restaurants cookbook and a book with advice on organic gardening. My Gift of a Llama went over well with Lauren, who, along with Chris, spent much time playing with the stuffed llama (a fabulous thrift find to accompany the information about the Heifer International donation and a card with a picture of a llama sandwich).

Lauren, Chris and I were the most inept and unlucky Cranium team ever. The game dragged; it did not quite live up to my expectations. I did, however, get to pantomime a "rainbow" for them by jumping around the room and trying to mock a leprechaun.

We stopped by Jesse's party only briefly, as it is likely to be one of the last times many of us will see him for several months at least. He was crowded in a bathroom with several others (both boys and girls), teaching the delicate art of eye makeup application.

On Saturday, I had the whole day free to do things with Livia that were not hanging out with an enormous group of my friends. I feel bad because she is so bored by almost everything that I really have to make an effort to do things that vaguely amuse her; she's a difficult houseguest, but somehow this feels like my fault. I suggested to go to the Henry Art Museum on the UW campus: it has interesting exhibits I've been meaning to check out for months now and is free with a student ID. We killed about an hour and a half wandering around there. The karaoke pods were most fun, of course, but there were some other interesting pieces. (And some sort of pretentious crap, but hey. What do I know about art?)

We then bussed to Uwajimaya, where we ate bahn mi for lunch and Livia tried a sip of my Vietnamese coffee, proclaiming it "bitter." I laughed and told her that, well, yes, coffee is bitter, but this coffee is very sweet! I guess it would be bitter to a girl who puts a spoonful of sugar in her whole milk. Then we wandered the store, picking out gift wrap and random food items including fresh tako sashimi, which tasted like very chewy king crab.

At my old house, we disassembled my stereo and packed it in the car, then met my mom back at the new house. Soon after, we went to Chamber Music Madness at University Prep, in which my brother's quintet was performing. It was long, but there were some pretty good performances, my brother's group included, of course. I hadn't eaten dinner and it was 9:30, so I went home and everyone else went home and Kevin came over and spaghetti was consumed. Hooray.

Sunday I had grand ideas about seeing the Bad Santa matinee with Chris, then heading to Reid's place in Edmonds for game night. The movie was excellent; very funny shit. Kevin was planning to come to game night, but when the time came, he was too tired to make it, so I was pissed about him flaking out again, but got over it enough. Chris and I picked up Lindsay and managed not to get lost or killed in the great gray area between I-5, 99, and Reid's apartment.

Anyway, here it is, Monday. I'm at work, covering for people taking finals. Hah! Finals. I'm done, seriously. And working. Yay money. Yay big long break coming up. Yay scary.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm officially well-established as a 20-something. Today is my 22nd birthday, hooray! I am still younger than at least half my friends, sure, but that's okay.

People will be meeting up at Tandoor for dinner. Hooray for Tandoor! Yummy. I think perhaps we should just order one of each item on the menu and share, but that might be too much.

Livia is staying with me a for a couple days. She is quiet so I end up talking way too much. I try to explain everything before I tell her to make a decision, like: "What movie do you want to watch? Let me tell you about every movie on this shelf." She rode the bus to work with me today and sat at a lab computer until 1 p.m., when I wanted to go eat lunch. Afterwards she went to upper campus, hoping to talk to admissions folks. I can only assume she got there okay, since I never heard my cellphone.

The other day, I made a visit to the Greenwood DOL to renew my license. I brought with me an abundance of paperwork with my new address, in case they wanted it to confirm I lived where I said I lived, despite my old address being somewhere my parents no longer own. However, this was completely unnecessary. It was a relatively quick and painless process (for something occurring at the dreaded DOL), aside from having to wait in line just to get a number because you have to explain what you want to do before the guy will give you a number, and that means some people take longer explaining than others.

The only problem was that as soon as I left the office, I checked my temporary license and noticed an error. Not of my address; she had me check that on the screen while I was there. No, no, something much sillier that I failed to check: my weight.

I know I told the woman 160. She put down 115.


Because I look to waifish! Hah!

Maybe she thought I was delusional. I don't know. But to the state of Washington, I weigh 115 pounds.

What's it called when you take abnormal psych and think you have all the disorders you learn about? Maybe I had that after the unit on anorexia/bulimia and didn't notice.

Things are all in order for the major gift-giving of the season. Mom's big present is ready to wrap, Kevin's presents have been ordered or already arrived, Margot's gift has been unearthed, and the Secret Santa present is ready to go for tomorrow night. I am excited about the Mom and Secret Santa gifts, as they are cool. I need to get something small for Paul and maybe things for other people, but not big things. Probably most people will be satisfied to receive a souvenir from my big Asia trip instead if they are, in fact, wrongly overlooked for Christmastime giving.

I have received birthday gifts already. Kevin gave me the 128mb SmartMedia card for my camera and the 160gb hard drive dubbed Nibbles last week so he could be sure they worked before the time to return defective items had elapsed. My mom brought me a sampler of delicious bite-sized desserts from Tasha Nichole, picture frames (ostensibly for the pictures I have my dad painted), and a CD/tape/radio boombox so I can blast the music (or NPR) while doin' dishes or readin' in the living room without just blaring my real stereo. I haven't had a tape deck for a few years now, so I can finally listen to my small collection again! Woo-hoo!

I am in a rotten good mood today for no reason...except it's my birthday!



Monday, December 08, 2003

Top Five Live

In ethics today, we discussed pleasure and offensiveness. It was a sort of lovely discussion, the kind where I can't quite formulate anything to say (except to point out that, at least for me, rock shows are effectively the same as attending a sporting event in that you can shed certain social controls, etc.) but I end up thinking a lot.

Side note: my neighbor's fucking neglected dog is barking again. I'm surprised the fucker still has the ability to bark, it is so constantly noisy. I'm glad we are moving, or that I have moved, for all intents and purposes. I receive mail at the new address. My stuff is there, except this desk and computer. I sleep there. It's nice. Anyway.

So I was thinking about that feeling of freedom that comes with being part of a throng of joy like that, the energy. It's what keeps drawing me to live shows, it's why I have to dance and enjoy the show by participating. I wanted to say things about some of the bands I've seen that exemplified the notions we discussed, like TchKunG! and the controlled anarchy, or Jason Webley and the marches down the middle of the road. One girl brought up how people were being jerks at the Red Hot Chili Peppers show and security got involved, though, so I didn't think this was my crowd to listen to that.

Not that I want to be a snob--even though I am--but normal kids getting rowdy at a funky pop band (they are pop now, dudes) is fundamentally different from the mild insanity at a good punk show. For reals.

God, I wish that fucking dog would shut up already.

Anyway, here's my top five live shows (bands I've seen multiple times grouped together) that get this kinda feeling, and how, and why.

  1. TchKunG! - They are fucking anarchists. It's incredible, the sense of freedom and rebellion that comes when you're part of a mob that's shouting to tear down the government. Even if I don't honestly embrace those politics (I am a lefty, but I'm not an anarchist by any means), I did for the duration of the show. It's liberating as hell, ironically, to be part of a group all saying the same thing.
  2. Jason Webley - There were two shows in particular (of the dozen times I saw the man) that made the disparate crowd feel like a loving family: The Birthday Show and the Halloween Show of 2001. The Birthday Show involved eating a giant tomato cake and made me want to give the man a hug afterwards (which I did). The Halloween Show lead us all on a long trek down the middle of University Way to the water, where we set stuff on fire and bid Jason farewell (forever, once again). Webley has fallen out of favor with me, however, after a Halloween show that put a nasty taste in my mouth and I was too exhausted to follow anymore.
  3. The Gossip - I've said it before, but Beth Ditto is one of the only performers who makes me want to put as much into my enjoyment of the show as she puts into performing it.
  4. Radiohead - When Becky and I saw them on the Running from Demons tour in 1998, it was the first big concert we'd been to, and it was nearly transcendant in that regard. The band is fabulous live, of course, and we danced and sang along and did everything possible to enjoy every last minute of it.
  5. I'm having a hard time coming up with, for now, it's four.

Sooo...I'm off to the new place again, this time with Josie and her laundry. Woo hoo for afternoons with friends!

Friday, December 05, 2003


These days are void of content. My new house, too. My mind. Drained of thought and purpose, just going through the motions.

Moving slowly is at once exciting and frustrating, and nothing at all. I'm alone in a house filled only with my possessions, and few at that. But still, I don't want to be here--at work or at my old house--I want to be louging on the hard futon, watching DVDs on my 13-inch television. I want to re-read my travel guides and butcher Thai pronunciation out of the phrasebook. I want to move boxes of things, one carload at a time, and arrange them in my new house. I want to settle in before I have to leave.

Here I'm already settled in. Too settled, maybe. But soon I'll be unsettled all over again. I'm losing my job--my own fault, really, for wanting to take a vacation during the quarter. I can find another. No more sitting in the high un-ergonomic desk chair, feeling fizzled by fluorescent lights. No more immediate knowledge of nearly any question. No more watching people feed $20 bills into a machine that seldom accepts them.

It's transition time. Will it be as lovely as a sunset fading into the horizon, or something more dismal, gray, and harsh?

Do I still really have to go to school? I have three more days of classes (today, Monday, and Wednesday) and then no more until spring. That's brilliant. I have a paper to write on the relative journalistic ethics of McCarthyism, Watergate, and the Starr report. I have to take a test on autism, childhood schizophrenia, and eating disorders. That's the end of psychology, by the way.

Before Thanksgiving, we watched a film in ethics about the Mumia Abu Jamal case. I'd heard bits and pieces of it before, coming from Olympia where the Greeners are occasionally obsessed with it, but it was much more intriguing in the documentary. In psych, we watched a PBS docu about eating disorders I'd seen in another class. One of the subjects was filmed at various Seattle locations: you could pick them out, especially the Tully's on the corner of 45th and Brooklyn, that fishbowl window and blurred Neptune marquee prominently featured. I walk by it every day and someone in that same window usually looks at me funny for daring to look back at them.

I've discovered the Postal Service makes nice driving music and I love Mojave 3.

I need to do Christmas shopping: we've got mom's taken care of (sshhhh) and I have one thing for Kevin, but I need to do a little more. I need to get Margot's and Paul's token (he got a huge birthday present, so Christmas will be little). I need to learn who my Harem gift exchange person is and get them something nice. I think that's the extent of my Christmas necessities.

I can't believe I'm leaving in less than a month. I'm excited, but it's still unreal. I slipped on the phone with my grandma on Thanksgiving and told her about it; I didn't know, but everyone tells me that she'll worry incessantly. So I'm sorry if she calls my mom every day and pesters her.

Things will happen, sometime.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

New Things Are Nice

I have a new house. I have a new house! New house! Yay!

It has a washer and dryer! But the washer must be ultra-low-water usage because I tried to run a load last night and I don't think any water came. It was on--it locked and spun--but no water. Hmm. Time for a chat with the landlords.

Already. Sheesh.

It sounds like we won't be able to finish moving all the big stuff until Saturday the 20th. Jeez. I am going to try to enlist Graylan and his truck to move stuff like bookcases and mattresses and move little things like pillows, small furniture, books, and kitchen crap in my car (and Kevin's and Steph's). Let's drag this process out as long as possible, shall we?

I understand why, of course. The weekend before finals is unacceptable for moving, and we can't move mid-week because the truck rental is being offered by Steph's parents, who have to work, and Steph works afternoons anyway. Besides, Josie and her mom and sister, I think, will be staying here the weekend of the 13th and need somewhere to sleep besides floor.

I am moving my stuff bit by bit as I can, anyway. I want out of this house and need some time to settle in the new place before I leave for three weeks.

Last night, Kevin and I brought up my vintage stereo (with the broken turntable that's been living in my room, being used as an amp attached to my portable CD player), CDs, and a futon. I am hoping to sleep there before I actually get the chance to bring up my bed, so I wanted something decent. The futon is nice on the floor. We also put up the bamboo blinds from Ikea.

Today I need to call my travel agent and give her my passport number (and figure out why I never received the email she said she sent), tell the landlord the washer ain't washin' and try to figure out what we can do to fix that, and go to the DOL to renew my license. I made the poster for my psych project last night--it's about drugs they give kids with Tourette's. It looks sorta cool despite being a relatively dull subject with little or no potential illustrative qualities (I dug up some random pictures in google).

I made the poster while watching a really terrible movie called The Magic Christian. It starred Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, and the repeated use of a catchy but annoying Paul McCartney song. I think it was trying to say something about capitalism and what average people will do for money, but through drug-tinged lenses. I'm not sure I've said "what the FUCK!" so loudly or as often during a movie in recent memory.

I would like to point out that the Peter Sellers thing is not mine. It's Kevin's. The man has a strange fondness for Peter Sellers (even greater than his passing whimsy about Gumby, it seems). Not that I dislike Peter Sellers, but I am not so into him. And since being with Kevin, I've seen more than my share of weird comedies featuring Peter Sellers. Some were good; some not so good. Really, I can only take so much Inspector Clousseau. Anyway, Kevin insisted on renting these two bizarre-looking Peter Sellers movies from the British Comedy section in Scarecrow, and I swear, one of those movies got a "Oh, I saw that when I was a kid; I thought it was awful!" remark from one employee to another in the back room.

Me, I wanted Bonnie and Clyde 'cause I'd never seen it and Fargo because I don't remember it.

Kevin gave me early birthday presents last night because they are computer hardware that needs to be tested before the ability to return them disappears. He gave me a 128mb Smart Media card for my camera (it read as having 205 pictures left! neat!) and a 160gb hard drive. Sweet! That effectively quadrupled my picture-taking capacity and gave me more than ten times the space for miscellaneous computer files. I think I'm going to make my current 13.5gb drive all Linux OS (right now about 3gb is OS, 8gb is fat32-formatted storage, mostly mp3s, and the rest is irretrievable swap) and set up the new drive as massive storageland. And give myself permission to use it without logging in as root.

Seriously, I think I will never use all of 160gb. That's what they all say, though, isn't it? You start downloading movies, and BAM! No space ever. Okay, I won't download movies.

I'll get all the crazy TV shows Chris has, though.