...many times a simple choice can prove to be essential even though it often might appear inconseqnetial.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Post That is No More

I seriously thought about not writing about the article that was written about the condos that are being built next door. I watched the clip and read the article making sure they didn't mention street names or anything that might indicate where exactly in the neighborhood the development is at. So with nothing mentioned but the name of the neighborhood, I posted it anyway.

Uh, yeah, so I needed to be reminded that I'm not in Wyoming anymore.

So, when MA left me a comment about maybe the post not being such a great idea, I realized while Denver may be a big city, the neighborhood isn't that big. If I could Google the development to find addresses and prices, then so could anyone. So yeah, once again, I've corrected myself and given myself a little kick for being a little too small town.

But if any of you are still interested in wanting to know about the article, or are interested in dropping a good chunk of money to experience the joys of urban living, I'll send you the link.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to doing absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cat Stevens…I Love Cat Stevens!

Besides Harry Potter, P also made me a mix CD for my birthday. Back when were just coworkers and friends, he created RA soundtracks and made copies for the entire staff. Now that we’re dating, I get my own personal collection. I loved his mixes then, and I love them even more now. The RA CDs personified our staff in some strange way; if you mix The White Stripes with The Who with Tom Petty with Jorge Ben with Cat Stevens and David Allen Coe, you get the inside jokes and subtle (and not so subtle) references that characterized our staff. My personal volumes personify a side of P I didn’t know when we were just friends. Willie Nelson mixed with Wilco, mixed with The Beatles, Dire Straits and Marvin Gaye reflect our own inside jokes and references (subtle and not) that have become our relationship. Maybe that’s why these CDs remain in constant rotation on my MP3 player and stereo at home and work. They aren’t just groups of songs, they’re groups of people, memories, new beginnings and lasting relationships.

There are a good number of songs from all the mixes that I’ve never heard and it makes me realize my musical knowledge is very small. On this most recent mix is a remake of George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. I’ve heard the original plenty of times and have always liked the song (George is still my favorite Beatle, after all), but this particular version, recorded by a group called Girlyman, is, for lack of a better, more deserving word, absolutely beautiful. The harmonies and the clarity and simplicity of the entire song brought tears to my eyes the first couple of times I listened to it. I haven’t been moved by a song that much since hearing Pines of Rome live in Ft. Collins a couple of years ago. (And as a side note, if you only see one orchestral piece performed live, I would highly suggest that be it. Truly amazing…surround sound and stereo in its original form.)

I love music, but since graduating from college I feel more out of touch with it than ever. Listening to My Sweet Lord in P’s pickup driving back from dinner with our former coworkers, I somehow felt a little more connected again.

I’m sure I’ll never hear that version on the radio (even if the radio station I listen to here kicks some major ass), but I will add that to my list of songs that must be turned up and sung along to.

Spring Break Part II: Fresh Air, Orridians and the Weekend That Was My Birthday

Well, folks, I’ve just returned from up north (L-town to be more precise) where I spent the first half of my second spring break. The extended weekend became four and a half days of enjoying unpolluted, crisp air, sunshine, reunions, delicious dinners, Harry Potter and the general lounging around that comes with not having to work.

The break also overlapped with my 23rd birthday, and because of everyone’s varied schedules, I “celebrated” my birthday on four different occasions. And in all honesty (and despite my constant inquiries about my presents, I just find that amusing more than actually wanting to know what I got before I open my presents), I don’t like making a big deal about my birthday. And since turning 21, birthdays don’t hold the milestones that they used to. 23 doesn’t feel a whole lot different than 22, and I have a feeling that 24 won’t feel much different either. Having said that, I think my sister J’s new ritual of celebrating her birthday over a period of several days (as we did this past September, and trust me, this isn’t a complaint), has now rubbed off on me.

Saturday: After spending the majority of afternoon with P and some other friends in the mountains fishing, we went out to dinner with a large group of our former coworkers. At the end of each semester our staff would go out to dinner together; these meals usually involved side splitting laughter and someone was always surprised with a birthday song and complimentary dessert, even though it was never anyone’s birthday. Almost a year has passed since our last staff meal, and a lot things have changed. The group was smaller, as not everyone lives in L-town anymore, or people had prior engagements. Some social circles no longer overlap, while news ones have intertwined and formed. Yet, despite these changes, we laughed just as hard as we did last year and I think it was decided that the birthday song and dance is only funny when it’s no one’s birthday (fine by me, no sombrero wearing for this birthday girl!)

Sunday: P and I returned to the Cajun restaurant where we had our “first date.” We had the entire place to ourselves for most of the meal and I was able to open my gift from P in private. As we enjoyed our dessert, in walked a table that included one of P’s former residents. At this point we decided that with our combined years as live-in-staffers, as long as we’re in Wyoming, we’ll be running into our former residents for a very long time. Maybe we shouldn’t restrict these encounters to Wyoming. When my two good friends D and S (and who were also live-in-staffers), came to visit me this summer, D struck up a conversation with two college-aged kids on the train ride back to the suburbs from downtown. As it turns out, both of them used to hang out with residents from the floor D and I were in charge of one year. Apparently run-ins aren’t just for small towns anymore.

Tuesday: Since this was actually my birthday, P and I went out to a bit more casual dinner where he dined on the thai chicken that inspired the recipe from his Mom that I made at the week that was Thanksgiving. P not only had to go to work that day, but he also had to prepare for a two-day job fair; dinner was a great beginning to the cap on our day.

Later that Night: A made birthday cake. She also agreed to cover work for P so we could go out to dinner, so we enjoyed cake with her, D and any other live-in-staffers who happened to be around. I was already pretty full by the time we started eating the cake and I didn’t make it too far into my chunk of dessert. I also didn’t make it very far into Elizabethtown before passing out from yet another food coma.

P and I did manage to watch 1 ½ Harry Potter movies (hooray for birthday presents from boyfriends!) and I did my best not to geek out. But P kept asking questions and I really had to restrain myself from not spouting off everything that is in the books and not the movies. I had almost forgotten how big of a Harry Potter fan I am, and how excited I am about the seventh book coming out, even though it’s probably still over a year away.

I’m back in Denver now, and I don’t plan on doing a whole heck of a lot for the rest of my vacation. My former landlords are planning something to celebrate my birthday this weekend. So, I’ll spend the next couple days recovering (mainly from food consumed) from the previous couple of days of celebration. Hopefully by then I’ll be ready to face the weekend.

Hooray for birthdays!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Who Would Have Guessed

I’m involved in what, I have been told, is referred to as March Madness. Apparently this men’s NCAA basketball tournament is a really big deal. People get really excited about it. I have participated in this annual rite of spring one other time in my life; I was in the 6th grade. Our social studies class filled out a bracket for kicks and giggles. I didn’t fair very well, but considering I picked teams because they either had an obvious good ranking or I preferred one name over another (Wake Forest…that’s a great name), I wasn’t too upset that my bracket didn’t pan out.

This time around is a completely different game. Last year, I became vaguely aware of the tournament because P’s beloved Fighting Illini made it all the way to the championship game. I think the entire staff we worked with became more aware of the tournament because of P’s investment in it. We don’t need to discuss the outcome, it’s not worth mentioning and it’s not the point of my story...The point is when I started dating P, I knew what was coming well before March started. And when your boyfriend, a good chunk of your boyfriend’s family, and good chunk of your coworkers can hardly wait for the tournament to begin, you can’t help wanting to be like the cool kids and join in on the fun.

I’ve invested money into our office pool, I even solicited advice from P on who to pick for my bracket. Being the office manager it fell upon me to keep track of the money and to tally points and keep the bracket up to date. Because of this, I’ve been watching basketball like I’ve never done before. I know which teams should be winning because they’re supposed to do well in my bracket (thanks a lot, Ohio State), I have discussions at work with T about who will win (if Duke wins this, I’ll never hear to end of it from him, 14 year olds can be relentless). When I was home on Saturday and Sunday, the TV was turned to basketball. I feel like I have much more invested now then I did when I was 11. That being said, when I figured out the points today, I was a little crushed. What place did I find myself in? Last. Dead last. I knew I wasn’t doing that well, but last? Really?

This would be so much more fun if I was winning, or even if I was in second to last place. I guess there’s always next year. Because there will be a next year, oh yes. I need to redeem my reputation, somehow.

And next year I’ll be rooting for P’s beloved fighting Illini even more because, well, let’s face it, my alma mater will never make it far into the tournament, and I’ve got connections now, so I can be a fan, right?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Spring Break Part I: Baking Cookies, Visiting Family, and the Best Chile Rellenos in Denver

One of the perks of working at an organization that runs after school programs is that the employees get to enjoy (to some extent) the same vacations as the students. Because my spring break isn't the same as P’s (or anybody I else I know, for that matter), I get to partake in spring break twice. My break comes at the end of the month, but P’s started this past weekend.

We had originally planned on meeting up in Steamboat Springs to hang out with some of his good friends. I haven’t gotten the chance to meet any of P’s pre-current-college friends, so I was doubly excited for the weekend. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned (D and J, I really hope this week is going better than the last and we’ll see you in May!); so P came to visit me in Denver instead.

We spent the weekend hanging out at my apartment, making a couple trips back to the suburbs to visit J, brother-in-law P, sister A, her boyfriend D, my parents and grandpa who were all also visiting for the weekend, watching basketball, bad TV (which we thoroughly mocked), baking cookies and eggrolls, and the general lounging around that comes with time off from work and school.

We didn’t hit the slopes or the beach; copious amounts of alcohol were not consumed and we didn’t stay up until dawn partying with the throngs of other spring break celebrators. I have absolutely no reason to complain, I had a wonderful, relaxing weekend. P stayed an extra day and I got to spend my lunch break on Monday away from the office, for once. P and I dined on the “Best Chile Rellenos in Denver” as boasted by the Mexican restaurant a couple blocks from the apartment. But best of all, I got to come home from work to find someone waiting for me. As we stood in my little kitchen, chopping up carrots and celery for our eggrolls, I not only felt incredibly domestic, but completely happy and content. Seven months ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that this was how I would be celebrating the arrival of spring, and now that I'm here, I wouldn’t change a thing. This was a fantastic pseudo-spring break, and I can’t wait to enjoy my own time away from work.

And to set the record straight (and to protect my integrity when it comes to my emotions and chick-flicks) I did not cry while watching this movie, as it has been so inaccurately portrayed in P’s most recent post. I occasionally like to indulge in a shallow, happy movie, but I certainly don’t need to stock up on the tissues as a precaution before going to the movies. Unless it’s The Fox and the Hound, then I might need the Kleenex.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Because I Can't End the Night Like That

While all of you should feel much better now that I can better protect myself in the big city, I would rather end the night on a different note.

So instead, you are going to get a good bit of randomness thrown into the mix. When I hear these songs (depending where I am) I have to either turn up the radio (or stereo) or stop what I'm doing and dance around my apartment (just a little), and sometimes even attempt to sing along (when no one's around, of course).

Video by India.Arie
Black Horse and a Cherry Tree by K.T. Tunstall
Over My Head (Cable Car) by The Fray
Here I Am (Come and Take Me) by Al Green
Get Up Offa That Thing by James Brown
Umbabarauma by Jorge Ben
Me and Julio Down by the School Yard by Paul Simon
Papa Dukie and the Mud People by the Subdudes
I Wanna Be Sedated by the Ramones
Brown-Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

So there you have it, a good bit of randomness. And if any of you are still worried about me living here by myself, just think of me trying to subtly groove out at work or full out dancing around my living room. It might at least make you chuckle for a second or two, then (if you must) you can go back to worrying.

Because a Sawed-Off Shotgun is Kind of Illegal

It has been brought to my attention over the last couple of days that numerous people who are very near and dear to my heart are worried about me living alone in Denver.

Rest (a little more) assured, the pepper spray has been ordered and it's in the mail. In 3-5 business days I will have a keychain that has the capability of temporarily blinding someone. That's much more effective against potentially threatening folk than the goldfish that currently adorns my keys.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

18 Going On 23

I don’t necessarily want to feel or be 18 again. That time in my life was fun and all, but really I like having my own place, not having to worry about homework or my roommate and her WyoTech boyfriend who practically lived with us…in our dorm room. I now have a car, albeit, one with “issues”, but a car none-the-less, nifty things like health insurance that covers all of my “issues,” a steady income, and permission from the government to legally consume alcohol (I occasionally like to have a glass of wine with dinner). I’m no longer a member of the marching band, I’m no longer dating an overly jealous and (as I cringe to admit it) controlling guy.

As I was picking up around the apartment this morning after a successful trip to get my car’s oil changed, still basking in the newness of the grownup world, I realized that there were some events that occurred when I was 18 that I’ve never done since, but would like to do again. I’m not sure there’s any reason why I haven’t repeated these things. A part of me thinks it might have had something to do with the previously mentioned guy; both events which I’m about to discuss happened very early in our relationship and he really didn’t have much say in the matter because I had already made up my mind to what I wanted to do before we had even met. The fact he wasn’t really thrilled about either one probably subconsciously made me decide to not repeat these events.

So what were these events you ask? Well the first, isn’t anything I plan on repeating anytime really soon, but I’m always toying with the thought. Thanksgiving Break of my freshman year of college, with A just barely 16 and J home from college for break as well, the three of us went and got matching tattoos. Small and subtle, we had a Celtic triskele that resembles the symbol for the Druidic Threefold Sister Goddess forever painted on our leg just above the ankle, representing, among other things, the power of three. Our Mom had to come to the shop to give consent so A could get the tattoo, and promptly left before any work began. For the rest of the break my Mom told a good number of people about our new body art, our relatives at Thanksgiving Dinner, other family and friends we ran into when in Sheridan, I’m pretty sure it was still a topic of conversation at Christmas that year as well. My Mom’s pretty damn cool.

Since then I’ve always thought about getting another tattoo, I don’t know of what, and I don’t know where it would go or when I would get one, but the thought always lingers in the back of my mind. I’ve heard from several people that piercings (I won’t go past my ears) and tattoos can become addictive. I can definitely see where they’re coming from.

Secondly, over Christmas break of that same year, I returned home, went to the same hairdresser who had given me my first real haircut, cut it and made it look stylish after two surgeries that required about a quarter of my hair to be completely shaved off (under-layers, thankfully, but still a large amount of hair) and fixed my hair for prom, so she could cut off 11 inches to be donated to Locks of Love. I could have waited until my hair was a bit longer so I could have some length leftover, but I didn’t want to wait another four or five months, so my new haircut was shorter than I had (or have ever had) it. It was a beautiful thing, but being a poor college student, I couldn’t really afford the upkeep, so I just grew it out.

A perk of being almost 23 and not 18? The steady income. The perk of a steady income (among other things)? Being able to afford and maintain a real hairstyle. I realized though, my hair is a fairly decent length as it is, and chopping off that much would just be a waste. After watching a segment on the Today Show (yeah, I watch the Today Show before work, I admit it, okay?) where people donated their hair to Locks of Love, I decided I needed to donate my hair again. I’m crossing my fingers that by the end of this summer I’ll be able to cut off the minimum 10 inches needed for a donation and get back the short cut I wish I would have kept when I was 18.

While I appreciate that the 18 year old version of myself has reminded me of certain aspects of my life I need to reclaim. I like where I’m at; I’m perfectly content with this version of me, even if I have to live with one tattoo and long hair for awhile.

Here's the 18 year old version of me, short haired and tattooed. The boy who didn't like the short hair or the tattoo has been, deservingly, cut out of the picture.

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Little Reminder

Well, folks, I don’t think the post that I mentioned previously will ever be up to the standard that I want it to be. At the same time, it feels wrong not to write about it. What happened a couple weeks ago is exactly what I was told at one of my interviews for the organization: No matter how bad your week may be, no matter how tired you are or if the work day feels incredibly long, wait until the youth come in to work; you’ll quickly be reminded why you’re there in the first place.

Our communications intern became my first little reminder. I had spent the previous day working on database entry (after a certain amount of time, this becomes excruciatingly mind-numbing), and that night—Valentine’s Day, no less—I went home with more database entry to do. I was feeling a little bummed because P and I had to spend our first Valentine’s Day a part. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the holiday, I still wanted to be with my boyfriend. So after hours of a single mind-numbing, tedious task, and an evening spent only being able to chat with my Valentine, work did not seem so appealing the next day. I also knew that I had to give a presentation with our communications intern for the United Way that day. I should also mention that the day before I was asked to speak at the presentation because our development director had another event to attend. Last minute public presentation, neat.

I’m not a terrible public speaker, but I also don’t enjoy it all that much. This presentation wasn’t going to be for a large audience, but I still had to figure out talking points and try to go over everything in my head at least a couple times. Earlier in the week, as well as the previous week, the development director and I made sure our intern (have I mentioned he just turned 14) practiced his part of the presentation in front of us a couple times, we told him the importance of talking points and practicing his speech. The day of the presentation was particularly hectic and I barely had time to jot down thoughts and ideas, or anything that came close to an approach to this speech. When I picked up T from school that day, he was nervous and prepared, I was nervous and feeling fairly unprepared.

I really shouldn’t have worried. T stole the show. Our audience (a construction firm that chooses to donate to the United Way, and because we are supported by the United Way, we help with presentations to such companies) was attentive when the UW representative and I spoke, but when T spoke, the audience laughed and asked him questions, and in the end, asked if they could place a rather sizable order with our t-shirt company. As I gave T a ride back to his house, I told him that everyone thought he did a great job. With a huge smile and a tone that exuded sheer satisfaction, no arrogance and no attempts to be nonchalant, T said “Yeah, I was pretty good.”

The look on his face and those five little words made my entire week. Yeah, T, you were great. Way to go, kid.