Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Things I Like

I like spearmint flavored gum.

I like blue ball-point pens, and tend to get sad when the good ones go missing.

I like meeting deadlines.

I like movie theater popcorn.

I like the smell of crayons.

I like watching nature programs in HD.

I like staying home on Saturday nights and watching guilty-pleasure movies on cable.

I like Domo.

I like the random collection of plushie sea creatures on my desk.

I like saltine crackers. Plain or in soup.

I like shaking the toner cartridge for my printer when it's running low.

I like watching people hock their stuff on Pawn Stars.

I like Mike Doughty's song "I Hear the Bells."

I like the pictures I can see on my desk at work: one of my dad playing the organ, one from my mom's wedding, one of my friends from college on our spring break trip to San Francisco, and a few pictures of two of my nephews (which seriously need to be updated).

I like baseball.

I like shiny beads organized in fishing tackle boxes.

I like grocery shopping with my roommate.

I like learning how to cook, but I still don't like cleaning up afterwards.

I like that the person in the cubicle next to me just said, "Is there anything I can assist you with? I am his assistant," to the person who called.

I like making lists.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I can't believe it's been almost a week since I posted here. That's really not like me. Especially when there's so much going on in my life this week.

I had Monday off for President's Day, which was awesome. I figured, since I had the day off, that it would be a good day to get my annual physical exam. Yippee! Or something like that. A few days before the appointment, I got a letter in the mail telling me that I didn't need to fast for the physical, and that it would only take about a half hour.

Half hour my ass. I was there for over two hours. It wouldn't have been nearly that long if they didn't leave me sitting in the exam room for 45 minutes wearing nothing but a thin gown that barely closes in the back. Of course, this happens almost every time I go to the doctor's office, so I should really stop being surprised when it happens.

But the other reason it took so long was because some issues came up. My doctor has been concerned about my heart for the last six months or so. I've got high blood pressure - while not typically unusual for my family, it is unusual for me to have developed it so young. I'm on medication for that, and it hadn't really gone down very much since the last time I had been in. So the doc upped my dose. But he was also concerned about my heart rate, which was elevated. Also not common for someone who is not quite 30 years old. So I got an EKG. It actually showed a normal heart rate, but raised another question - something about the thickness of the muscle in the heart. I don't remember the term he used. But just in case, he ordered an echo-cardiogram. It's really just to check and make sure everything is ok.

Remember how the letter the clinic sent me said that I didn't need to fast? Yeah, that wasn't true, either. If I had fasted, I could have gotten my blood work done that day. Now I need to go back (no easy task - from my house, it takes 3 buses and over an hour to get to the clinic) and get some blood drawn for some test... not even sure what they're testing for anymore. I also need to collect my pee for 24 hours. That's gonna be awesome. (More details on the pee test later... that's worthy of its own post).

So, tomorrow I go in for my echo. I'm also going to do my fasting before then so that I can stop by the lab and get my blood drawn (which I hate - both the fasting and the blood thing). Yippee.

In other news, it's Olympics season! I tried to boycott the games this year (because of the plight of the women ski jumpers, but I just couldn't. I love the Olympics. I love the crazy sports like the biathlon and curling. I love the national pride (for all nations, not just my own), and I love seeing gold medal winners singing along with their national anthem.

Last night my parents had a few of us over for game night, and apparently I missed quite the night of Olympic goodness. Phooey on that.

Oh, remember when I went to the doctor's office the other day? I was due for a tetanus shot, and I finally got my flu shot and H1N1 vaccine. Now my arm hurts. Still. 3 days later. Grr.

Lastly, I've been noticing a lot of ice on the sidewalk by my house. I always leave the house from the back door (that's where I keep my shoes, and I don't want to go stomping through the living room when my roommate is sleeping below), and I walk down the sidewalk to get to the corner to wait for the bus in the morning. This morning, I looked down the sidewalk, saw the ice, then looked in the street, didn't see any ice, and decided that would be the safer path. First step into the street? Hit a patch of very slick black ice (didn't see it at all), slipped and fell smack onto my knee. I didn't damage anything too badly - my pants got a little wet, but they're fine now, and my knee barely hurt by the time I got to the bus stop. Of course, now the bruise is swelling up, and it really hurts.

Curse you, winter. Curse you and your icy death traps.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, Nobody!

This post is going to be a bit of a rant. Just wanted to give you fair warning.

I used to describe myself as a hopeless romantic. I loved anything with a love story, and had countless fantasies where I found true love with the perfect man, and we'd live happily ever after. I just knew it had to happen to me some day.

Then I grew up. I'm still a sucker for a love story in fiction, but when it comes to myself, I've lost hope. One of the reasons I've decided to have my big birthday party in Vegas this fall is because I've convinced myself that I'm never going to have a wedding - you know, the day you get to dress like a princess and profess your love in front of your family and friends - and I want a day that's really all about me. I want to have a kid someday. Really. But I also have a hard time seeing myself as the single mom type, so I doubt it's going to happen because I'll never find a father for the little tyke.

I am now a skeptical romantic. Deep down, I want to believe that everything I thought of as a kid is true, and magic will still happen. But the realist in me knows that's never going to happen.

This brings us to the matter at hand: Valentine's Day.


Sorry about that. It's just that we've been hit over the head so many times with how wonderful Valentine's Day is, and how great it is to celebrate the love you share for your partner with a special day filled with candy and flowers and... all that magic crap I dreamed of as a kid. Except it's all hogwash. We're hit over the heads with it because it's all about money. The candy companies and the flower companies and the diamond companies want you to buy into the implied necessity to shower your significant other with gifts. I mean, if your boyfriend doesn't buy you a diamond necklace for Valentine's day, he doesn't really love you, right?

Allow me to reiterate: *puke*

Yeah, presents are nice. I wouldn't reject that diamond necklace if someone gave it to me. But it sucks that presents are considered the norm.

You know what? I'm sick of Valentine's Day. I'm sick of people talking about Valentine's Day. I'm sick of hearing about the special things people are going to be doing for their husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends. I'm sick of it all. I'm sick of the wave of Facebook posts that say "change your profile pic to one of you and your significant other and say how long you've been together." I'm sick of all the stupid hearts everywhere - and I like pink! I just get overwhelmed by the bombardment of the color everywhere this time of year.

Here's a good one: I'm sick of seeing commercials on TV for online dating websites. Give me a freaking break.

I'm sick of it all. I'm even sick of the "alternatives" to Valentine's Day. Anything for the "single folks" on the day is just a slap in the face. "Aww, you're alone! That's so sad!" It's always pity, even if it's pity disguised as a party or a TV episode or something of the sort. I don't want a pity party because I'm single.

I'd probably feel differently if I were in a relationship. I'd probably have plans to go out to a nice restaurant instead of plans of staying home and watching the Food Network in my pajamas. But in my entire life, I've had one date on Valentine's Day. And that day was fine. Not ideal, but fine. But in the end, he dumped me later that week. And I hate that. I hate that that one incident makes me hate Valentine's Day even more - and rather than just supporting all my other Valentine's hate, it just flares up a whole new feeling inside. It's the feeling that says, "no, you're not so bad off that you can't find anybody - you're even worse because you can't hold on to the ones you do find." And then I hate myself because that guy was so not worth it.

So there. I'm going to shut up now before I make myself feel even worse.

In other news, I've decided that I like shrimp. As long as it is battered and fried to the point where it no longer tastes like shrimp.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Ads and Nifty Presents

Yesterday was the Super Bowl. I wasn't too invested in the game itself because I didn't care, really, who would win. I was technically rooting for the Saints because it was their first Super Bowl, and New Orleans is a cool town. But I've always been a sucker for the other part of Super Bowl Sunday: the commercials.

I know. They're ads. I shouldn't like them. And I really shouldn't do a write-up of them in my blog summarizing my favorites because I'm just feeding into our money-driven, consumerist culture... but, well... I'm a sucker for a well-written ad.

My top 5 favorite ads, in no particular order (I'm giving them my own names because it's more fun that way):

Sad Intel Robot:

The "Be a Man" Car Commercial:

Betty White Gets Tackled:

Sappy Google Ad:

Pantsless Men Singing:

I think the Google one and the Intel Robot were my actual favorites, but overall I thought it was a lackluster year for Super Bowl ads. Maybe it's a reflection on the economy or something, I don't know. A lot of the commercials got a good laugh out of me, but that's because I was at a party with a room full of other people laughing. Had I been alone I probably wouldn't have laughed as much.

Oh, and an honorable mention goes to the Brett Favre in 2020 ad. No idea what that was a commercial for, but it was funny.

The other bit of my blog entry today is about presents. I'm coming up on my five year anniversary at work. Five years. That's a new one for me. I've never worked at a job this long before.

An email was sent to me so that I can pick a present to reward me for being a loyal employee. Of course, the email was automatically generated, and it triggered my spam filters. I almost didn't look at it because I assumed it was a scam, then I remembered that my first milestone anniversary was coming up. Sure enough, the link inside the email sent me to a page with a message from the company president (well, sort of... eh, that's a long story that's not worth getting into here) and a list of presents (jewelry, watches, backpacks, duffel bags, crystal glassware, a Shop Vac, a Dooney & Bourke wristlet, and a number of other fabulous prizes) I can choose from. This will be a tough decision.

I have narrowed it down to the "diamond" necklace shaped like a Triforce ("diamond" in quotes because they're so small you can barely see them), a "pearl" ring ("pearl" in quotes because it's cultured freshwater pearl), a watch, a nice Cuisinart saute pan, a cool-looking globe, or a telescope.

Pros and cons... let's look at the cons first. The ring might not fit my fat fingers. The necklace might not fit my fat neck. The watch might not fit my fat wrist. The pan isn't non-stick. The globe is just a globe and I don't have anywhere to put it. The telescope is probably poor quality and I probably won't use it.

Geez, maybe I should just get the Shop Vac. Or the home theater speaker system. Or the coffee pot. Or the big tool box. Or the Swiss Army knife.

Ack. I need to think about this.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Small Step is Still Progress

Baby steps. That was what I kept telling myself when I started this whole "new outlook on life" thing in 2010.

We are now more than 1 month into the new year. Let's take a look at some of the financials:

As most of you know, I slipped a bit in the end of January with the eating out and the whole concept of not-spending-money. Baby steps. Overall, for the month of January, I spent more than $250 LESS than I spent in the month of December. This includes eating out, entertainment stuff, other stuff, AND bills, monthly obligations, transfers to savings, etc. Also, I made a number of charitable donations in January.

Conveniently, my online banking will show me my "spending report," which is where I'm getting all this information. It also breaks down how I spend that money, though it's not entirely accurate, as I tend to pay for my groceries with a personal check to my roommate (for example).

According to the spending report, my average monthly expenditure in restaurants (for 2009) was in the neighborhood of $500 (huh... if you do the math, that adds up to $6000!). January's restaurant expenditure? A mere $200. ($200 * 12 months = $2400 a year. That's considerable improvement. I wonder if I can get that monthly average down for the year... there's a fun goal!)

Retail/Department Stores (which I assume includes Target, where I shop the most on my own - but remember, this doesn't include groceries). Monthly average for 2009: $200 (spiked a bit in December due to Xmas). Total for January: less than $50. Bam. That's what I like to see!

In total overall spending, I really can see improvement. Online banking totals up all spending ("outflow") for the month, and my total for January was more than $500 less than the monthly average for 2009. And that includes money transferred to savings, so technically that money wasn't "spent."

I'm saving money, and I'm proud of myself for that. I really hope I can keep it up. I'm going to print out my 2009 end-of-year report and keep that so I can refer back to it a year from now. I'd love to see how much changes over the course of a year now that I've started to be more frugal in life.

I haven't been nearly as successful with the whole getting-healthy thing. But, I have a feeling that seeing my success with managing my finances will give me the confidence I need to change what's necessary to get myself healthified. I can do this.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Emotional Frequency

Disclaimer: I took an acoustics class back in college. It was January, junior year (so... 2001). I don't remember anything. I don't even remember if we covered anything remotely related to what I'm about to talk about. So, please, bear in mind that this post contains very little science. What science you may find is likely inaccurate. Chances are, this entire blog entry is hogwash.

A quick bit of research (thank you, Google) shows that I haven't coined a new phrase. But I really don't care. I'm not trying to start a revolution or a movement or anything. This is just something that I've noticed about myself.

Sometimes, when I listen to music (or any sound, now that I think about it), a specific quality of sound will resonate with me in a way that makes it pleasing to me. It's more than just "hey, that sounds cool!" Certain sounds can be felt. And it's not always a pleasing sensation - when I have one of my headaches, I've noticed that there are sounds that make it hurt more. I figure this has something to do with acoustics and frequencies and all that. Like I said above, I remember squat from that class. But I know somewhere in my head that this makes sense.

I watched a movie last night (an animated movie that came out last year, 9, produced by Tim Burton) that elicited a very strong emotional response from me. It's a story about some robots in a post-apocalyptic world... I'm not going to get into it here, because that's not important (if you're interested, though, I do recommend it - it's worth seeing, even if the idea of the movie isn't altogether new). It may have had something to do with my mood at the time, but when I watched the movie, I just started crying. It wasn't particularly sad. I think it just hit the right emotional frequency for me.

You see, this isn't the first time this has happened. When I was a little girl, I watched the movie The Land Before Time and started crying about five minutes into it and didn't stop for about a day afterward. I was a wreck. I was a little puddle of tears on my living room floor. To this day, I can't watch that movie (even writing about it now is making me tear up a bit). It was the first movie I remember hitting me in this way, and it was the first of many. It's now at the top of the list of "Movies Becky Isn't Allowed to Watch" because it makes me cry that much.

Sometimes, of course, I need something to hit that emotional wavelength and trigger a flood of emotions. Times when I'm holding my feelings inside so that things don't seem so bad... if I don't let it out somehow, I turn into a pressure cooker of strong, bad feelings that releases in the form of a total nervous breakdown. Without the help of an "Emotional Frequency Movie," I'm hopeless.

It's not limited to movies, either. Episodes of TV shows (any episode of "Mercy," "The Body" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and "Jurassic Bark" from Futurama, to name a few), songs ("I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie), and books ("The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger) can have the same impact. Even some TV commercials can do the trick (there was an anti-smoking ad a while back that always got me... I'd post a link, but I can't find it in youtube).

Where was I going with this? I swear I had a point when I started. Oh well. There you have it. My theory on emotional frequencies. Sounds like hogwash, right? Think about it. Are there any movies (or shows or songs or whatever) that cause a surprising emotional reaction from you? Maybe I'm not full of it after all.

For the record, here are a few movies that hit my emotional frequency (otherwise known as the list of movies I'm not allowed to watch):
- The Land Before Time
- 9
- Nell
- The Notebook
- Wall-E
- Hook (Yes, the Robin Williams-Peter Pan movie)
- Big Fish
- Finding Nemo used to be on this list, but I've actually watched it enough times that it's not as bad anymore.

There are a number of other movies that still make me cry, but these are a few of the ones that make me a complete hysterical mess. It's sad, pathetic, and true.

In other news, I bought a belt over the weekend. It smells like fish.