Monthly Archives: January, 2006

Post 450, or, I Finally Have a Crazy Fun Driving Story

Here’s the Friday Five: Firsts
1. First time you cooked for someone else? I make dinner for my family every now and then. The first time was probably after we moved into our current house, so maybe three or four years ago.
2. First time you threw up in someone else’s toilet? Eww. Never.
3. First time you did anything illegal? I’m so straight-edge it hurts. I drive over the speed limit, but that’s about it. (And it’s not even that far over.)
4. First time you saw snow/the ocean (whichever is more exotic)? I don’t remember. It snows every winter in Maryland, and I went to the beach fairly often when I was younger. Darnit, a memory f5. I lose at this.
5. First thought when I say “crumple-horned snorcack”? Luna! Second thought: That is so misspelled. Third thought: Hogwarts is Home, the HP LJ community I belong to. I also just found this HBP spoilery comic there. That is exactly what I thought when I reflected on that scene.

The first retreat committee meeting was moved to tomorrow, so I went to Mass at St. Ignatius with my mom and Ryan on Sunday. We went to Iverson Mall afterward, where I got new shoes. I haven’t had new everyday shoes in a very long time, so they make me quite happy. We ate at Wendy’s, where I was reminded that I’m not a big fan of chocolate ice cream or things resembling it.

I really cannot remember what I did on Monday. It was my last chance to sleep in before break ended, so I did. I spent the day gathering things together for the trip back to campus and generally wasting time. I woke up and watched some cartoons, feeling fine, but by the end of the day, I had a full-blown cold. I felt like crap. I managed to sneeze within about fifteen seconds of blowing my nose, and my left eye was watery all day.

I had to wake up early Tuesday morning, which didn’t seem fair because classes didn’t start until the next day. My dad was expecting the pest control guy by 10am, though, so I decided I should be dressed by then. My cold was basically gone, which was a great relief. I finished my laundry and crammed everything into bags, then my dad drove me back to campus. It was weird coming back after being away so long. I have this strange sensation now where the concept of home is being blown apart. Reminds me a little of Garden State. If I’m out on campus, when I say I’m “going home,” I mean my dorm room about as often as I mean my family’s house. At least they’re in the same state, the same county; my situation isn’t as rough as Sara’s or Andrew’s. But when I go home (there it is again) over break, I don’t take everything. So many times over those five weeks, I reached up to my bookshelf for my dictionary, only to remember that I’d left it in the dorm. So as we drove onto campus, I wasn’t sure if I was leaving home or going back to it.

Maura was on her way out when my dad and I finished bringing my things up from the car. I had to pick up my books and deposit some checks, so Hana went with me. I met her out between our dorms, where she gave me one of her awesome running-start hugs. She said she jumped on Andrew. Not missing a beat, I asked if he’d caught her. She said yes. The walk to the Book Exchange was infinitely better with such great company. There were a billion people there, and the line was really long, but we made it out in a reasonable amount of time. We hiked all the way back up to the bank in the Union before we came back around to our dorms. I’ve always wondered what would happen if I totaled (that word looks weird) the amount of my checks wrong. Would I have to write it over, or could they credit it with the wrong numbers I wrote?

Dinner was lovely. It got weird eating alone while watching tv at home, or even with my family, instead of forty-five people my age. (I’ve decided that “forty-five” is my new way of referring to large groups.) Diner food was appropriately unappealing, and we set a new record for Most People at One Table: twelve. We filled up a whole table in the upstairs room of South Campus Diner. I’m not quite sure who some of the guys at the other end were, but I knew at least ten of my dinner companions. Good times. I went over to Sara’s room to watch American Idol with Rebecca, Hana, and her. I don’t usually watch American Idol, but I didn’t feel like sitting around in my room any more than I had to. And they had some amazing singers, so it was all good.

I was tired from getting up early to move and unpacking, so I was in bed by about 11:30. Crazy. I had to get up before the sun, though, for breakfast before Spanish class. Maura was still asleep when I left. I was pleased to discover how much Spanish I retained over break despite not reading or speaking it at all. I hate speaking Spanish anyway. My teacher is from Minnesota, which is a big change from Argentinian Laura last semester. I found out I can reuse my book, which I kept, and don’t have to pay for access to the online stuff again. Yay for spending less money.

After Spanish, I had an hour of downtime, so sat the front part in McKeldin to work on discussion notes for the Scholars Program (the class I’m “teaching”). Ly came up to me, which was nice, and I think I saw Tim, but he didn’t see me. Then I went to Susquehanna for Shakespeare class. I called Hana, hoping she was already up, which she was. I was so proud. Leinwand seems like the cool guy Hana said he was, and I generally like Shakespeare, so I think I’m going to enjoy that class. I’ll enjoy it even more if Hana comes to class to keep me company during lecture. We had lunch with Sara, Rebecca, Andrew, and Ana afterward.

We sat around forever, as usual, then I went over to Cole Fieldhouse to kill some time before my Scholars Program meeting. I was there first, also as usual. Alice brought us cookies, though, so I felt better. (I have to start eating better, though, Diner food notwithstanding.) They got a much lower enrollment than they expected, so I have two fewer classes to teach. And I still get paid the same. After the meeting, Liz and Akshay mentioned how, when they told their friends about Scholars, they’d complained. Usually, they make you pay for student teaching instead of paying you, yet we’re getting paid despite lack of experience. I love it. I don’t, however, love having to lead the introductory discussion next week. What if they don’t have anything to say? I have some notes, but I’ve never really led a discussion before. I’m excited and scared out of my mind. Remind me why I chose teaching as my career?

I had one more class Wednesday afternoon, British Lit. The class was way too full, and I knew so many people in it, but I already knew I wouldn’t be able to stay. The Scholars Program is 1-2:30 on Wednesdays, but the window is too small to get back from Severna Park in time for class. I wanted to take it so much, but I knew the time crunch those days would kill me. I stressed over it so much, but I gave it up in the end.

I went to Mass Wednesday night. It was good to see Father Bill again. Dinners don’t start until next week, so I met up with The 4400 afterward. It was so incredibly cold that night, I half-ran back from the CSC. This crazy weather is blowing my mind a little bit. Most of us camped out in the blonde boys’ room to watch the end of Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, during which I demonstrated my mad skills, and another episode of American Idol. I didn’t plan on staying out that long, but we were experimenting with what I have termed “social inertia”: once we get together and get somewhere, we are incredibly resistant to getting up and going home. It’s not being lazy; it’s a social science experiment (pun pun pun).

Thursday morning there was more Spanish, then another hour of downtime before African-American Lit. I read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138 in McKeldin, then went back to Susquehanna. It seems like it’ll be an okay class, and Liz is in it. I had a feeling someone I knew would show up there and call my name. Not five seconds later, Liz did just that. My intuition is scary lately. I had lunch with Hana, Sara, and Andrew (I think; so many meals with so many combinations of friends is not good for my bad memory).

I had my first education class after that, Adolescent Development. The class was absolutely full of people, but I got there early, so I was fine. The professor did the standard syllabus overview, then decided to fill some more time by telling us about himself. He’s seventy-four years old and on his third marriage, so his oldest daughter is in her fifties while his youngest daughter is seventeen. And that’s not even the extent of the strange things he had to say. But I kind of like him. I have a theory that older people are polarized. Once you’ve lived that long, you have to decide whether you want to be nice or mean, ’cause you don’t have time left to play around anymore. We also talked about what “adolescent” means. Scholars and that class are weird for me, because I don’t feel like an adult. My parents still claim me on their taxes. I don’t feel like an adolescent per se, so I’m not quite sure what I am. Perhaps I’ll be able to figure it out after this class.

Sara talked me into going to Adele’s with Hana, Andrew, Scott, Dan, Ana, and her. I had thought about going to Mass that evening, but she took all the people I would have wanted to meet for dinner afterward, so I gave in. The food was good as usual. The company was fabulous. I made it back through the cold, cold wind in time for Smallville. It was such an amazing episode. The teaser literally made my jaw drop. I IM’ed Guy while I watched it, and he forgot it was coming on, so when I sent him “ARE YOU WATCHING? OH MY GOSH!” after the teaser, I imagine he thought I’d finally fallen over the edge. Clark pretty much ruined his life in that one.

It was hard to get up Friday morning to face the American Lit class I picked up to replace British Lit. It’s right after Spanish, so I have ten minutes to get from Jimenez to Susquehanna, which I’m pretty sure I can do unless it blizzards on me. But when I found the room yesterday, the class inside seemed well underway, so I hung outside for a minute, thinking the previous class was running late. Another guy showed up and walked right in, so I awkwardly followed and found a seat. Not a great start. Then I realized the professor was assigning oral presentations (already!), so I was even less comfortable. As he started discussing why “American” probably isn’t the best term for literature before 1810 (which is what the class is about), I had the distinct feeling that everyone in that class (except one guy I recognized from 301 and 280 last semester, who answered a question mostly incorrectly) is older and smarter than I am. It’s a 400-level class, which I didn’t think would be an issue, but now I’m worried it will be. I hate scheduling. It was really hard to get the gap I needed for the Scholars Program, and now I don’t think that American Lit class was the best idea to leave that gap. And Brit Lit was full with a waitlist, so I’m definitely not going to be able to get back in.

Plus, I already switched books. I dragged the books for Brit Lit back down to the Book Exchange to return them and buy the one for American Lit, then went over to Vertigo Books for AA Lit. It was a cute little bookstore. I have no problems with independent bookstores, but I keep getting giftcards to the big chain bookstores, so for now, that is where I will shop.

A few hours after I got back from book shopping (that walk is killer!), I went to dinner with Hana, Sara, Rebecca, Andrew, Scott, and Seth; Guy showed up later. All of us except Andrew went to see Rent at the Hoff. We got there early, so Scott and Seth geeked out over Sudoku while we waited. The movie was really food. Those actors are all amazing singers. I had heard the film recording when Sara drove to RennFest, so “Leap of Faith” had made no sense. But when I saw Idina Menzel sing it in the movie, I understood what it was about and why she’d chosen to do it live. I imagine it’d be really hard to lip-sync a crazy performance art song like that one. Sara cried through most of the movie, but she wouldn’t take the tissue I tried to give her.

We wound up back at the blond boys’ again after the movie. We played Boggle in the basement lounge for a while. Sara beat me, but I came in a respectable cumulative second. We had to switch to Go Fish when Boggle got cutthroat. (There weren’t enough chips for poker, anyway, so it doesn’t matter that I don’t know how to play and don’t really want to learn.) At some point, the others decided they wanted ice cream, so we crammed into Sara’s car to drive to McDonald’s. Sara was behind the wheel, obviously. Guy shared the passenger seat with Rebecca, basically warping his spine. I sat between the blond boys in the back, with Seth lying across the three of us. (I’m cracking up just remembering it!) Scott took a picture of me and Andrew, each looking very uncomfortable under our respective thirds of Seth. Andrew and I climbed (I chose that word very carefully) out once we got to McDonald’s to make the drive-thru trip less ridiculous. Sara thought it would be very funny to drive off, leaving us outside while she made a U-turn at the next light and came back. Then she discovered that she couldn’t make a U-turn at that light. So she was hitting every red light as I was waiting, slightly annoyed, for them to come back around, because I knew they would eventually. Rebecca tried to call me, but my ringer was too quiet, so I called her back, and Guy started telling us how to walk back to his apartment. Sara eventually made it back down and we rearranged for the trip back. Rebecca sat on the tray between the front seat so Guy’s spine could get unmangled, and Seth sat on Scott’s lap. (Sara actually had a much better/raunchier way of putting it, but you get the idea.)

We piled out again over at Wicomico and watched random Google videos for a while with Hana, then she and I walked back and I went to bed. I woke up about an hour before my alarm, but I refused to get up, so I laid around until it went off, then got up to get dressed for shopping. I had breakfast (never brunch) with Sara and Rebecca, then we went to the Book Exchange and Target. We picked up Sara’s friend Grace and went to a cute little art supply store in Silver Spring. There were a bazillion people there, and Sara and Grace each spent over $100 on supplies for their art class, but I was happy to be an extra pair of hands to hold giant clipboards and newsprint pads.

I intended to get started on my reading before dinner, but I was distracted by email and Jack Chick until dinner. We managed to fit tonight’s group around a round table, but just barely. Everyone else went ice skating, but I knew I had work to do, and it’s a personal rule that I only go out one night of the weekend, especially when that one night gets me in bed at 3am.

In closing, I love my friends, I think I’m gonna hate that American Lit class, and The Merchant of Venice is a pretty cool play.

Open the Eyes of My Heart

Thankfully, I was wrong, and I do have some things to blog about today. I have room to get deep, though, since I covered most of the “here’s what I did today” blogging on Wednesday.

First, the Friday Five: The News.
1. What is your preferred trusted news source? I get my news from various places: the Washington Post, whatever comes up in the Yahoo!News headlines in my email, and occasionally the (PG County) Gazette, tv news, or the Diamondback.
2. What is a news source that you will never trust? I rarely read the Diamondback due to the bad copy editing. Most of you will know that I tested to be a copy editor last winter and didn’t get the job. I tried to make a difference, it didn’t work, and I stopped reading it. (Not because I didn’t get the job, but because “syllabi” is not spelled with an O.)
3. What is the news topic during the last calendar year that you feel got the worst coverage? I’m not big on the intelligent design coverage. They always seem to think any people with religious convictions are stupid backwoods country folk, which I am not.
4. What news item do you feel got too much coverage in the last calendar year? If I paid more attention to what was covered and what wasn’t, I might have an opinion.
5. If you had complete control of your favored news source(s) (answer to question 1), what would you do with it that is not already being done? I’m not big on news, like I said. News and politics just aren’t my thing. The last presidential election was dizzying enough.

I’m so glad my assignment at Regulus is over. I like having the chance to earn money in short spurts over breaks, but I could use something more interesting. Or at least closer to home. I’m pretty sure my car couldn’t take commuting to school; driving to work every day isn’t easy on her, either. I was tired of running through all those batteries in my CD player, and tired of listening to CDs over and over. I like the radio because I like my music random. Right now, I have MediaMonkey playing every song I have on my computer in random order. It’s very telling that I just heard two Switchfoot songs in a row.

Anyway, the last couple of days weren’t quite as bad as last week. There was so little work left on Wednesday, they let me go early, so I was home by about 2pm. It was a nice break, and I got to drive home in full sunlight and everything. The same thing happened on Thursday, but I went to adoration at St. Mary’s before I came home. I’d never been there before, but I looked them up on MassTimes and saw they have adoration a lot. I hadn’t done it since I left campus for break, and I missed it, so I wanted to go. I got lost trying to find the right chapel (we had the same problem with Ryan’s baptism at St. Ignatius), but I asked a man I came across and he showed me where to go. There was an older man there when I came in, but he left around 3, so it was just me and the Eucharist for a little while. Two other men came in after about ten more minutes, and then I left. I’m pretty sure I drove out the part marked “entrance only,” but there was no other way to go, I saw another woman leaving the same way, and the road was clear. I stand by my choice.

On Thursday, when I was waiting for my afternoon break to end, this black guy came over and started talking to me. He asked me what my name was, and I told him, and he replied, “That’s a white girl name.” I was so offended. First off, even if he thought that, he shouldn’t have said it. Not, you know, “That’s a pretty name.” Not, “How do you spell it?” Not even, “Oh, okay.” It’s true that I’ve never met another black girl named Lindsay, but I thought of Kelvin as a black name until I met a white Kelvin in astro lab last spring. I, however, had sense enough not to say, “That’s a black name.” I remember telling him that I knew a black guy with his name, but it definitely wasn’t as condescending as that guy. I have enough issues with feeling whitewashed; I do not need a stranger commenting on my name. I love my name.

Speaking of being whitewashed, I was at the Facebook profile of a girl I knew in high school named Stephanie — another black girl with a “white girl name”? I like looking at the groups people belong to, and found that Hampton has two groups I loved: “I Don’t Talk White, I Talk Right” and “I Ain’t Gonna Lie… I Jam To a Few White Folk Songs!” I just joined the UMD version of the former, but we don’t have one of the latter. I think we should. I love *NSync and my brown-skinned self is not afraid to admit it.

This morning, my mom permed my hair for me. I hate getting my hair permed, so I avoid it for as long as possible. The frizz was starting to take over. It’s such an awkward process, and she only did the new growth, so the bottom is still fairly frizzy. It’ll even out eventually… I hope. It got so tangled, though, I wanted to cut it all off. If I weren’t so afraid it’d never grow back, I’d do it. But as of yet, I’m still fighting with nineteen years worth of hair every morning. I was getting frustrated when i neared the end of the fourth hour of the process, by which time my stomach was growling audibly since I usually have lunch on weekends at least by 2pm. I did finish getting dressed eventually, though I was not going to go through putting on my makeup after all that with my hair.

I went to St. Charles (that’s the mall, not a church) with my mom this evening. I got new jeans and this year’s Valentine’s Day shirt in Old Navy. I can never resist those $5 seasonal t-shirts. And my jeans are a size smaller than I usually wear, a phenomenon I still can’t explain. We looked for shoes in Kohl’s. My mom was down the aisle looking at pair and said, “Do you want to try these on your feet?” I said, “Where else would I try them on? Did you think I’d put the shoe on my ear, or what?” I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with my family, but my grandma does ridiculous things in public, too, so it’s a hereditary defect. And that pair felt weird when I walked, so we pretty much caused a small scene for no reason. Then we went to Target, where my mom commented on how all the Targets must be undergoing renovations, and I reminded her that we’d been in that same Target a few weeks ago. Ryan’s our only hope for normalcy at this point. And I got him Cinnabon gift certificates for his birthday, which I know he’ll love, so I’m not even sure about him.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Going back to church has led me on this course of figuring out how to live my faith. I pray more, I go to Mass a lot (three times a week in the latter part of last semester, which would have been unthinkable even a year ago), and I read the Bible and meditations from The Word Among Us every day. Of course, it’s not just about internalizing the sit-stand-kneel routine. Christianity in general has a lot to say about dating, sex, and marriage. After Maura and Cary, If You Really Loved Me, and Greg, there’s so much to ponder. Breaking up with Greg indirectly led me back to church, though religion isn’t why we broke up. He has his issues with Catholicism, though. I can say with almost complete certainty that I would not have gone back to church if we’d kept dating. In the last year, the time since our breakup, we’ve fought almost every time we talked, either about our relationship or about religion. I was sucked into a fight in his LiveJournal with his friend Rachael over religion one night after he posted part of the AIM conversation we were having. I wasn’t prepared to argue like that, so it was really taxing for me. I can’t help talking about God a lot. That’s a big part of who I am now. But that really isn’t the best topic for us to venture into right now, with our history. We had something of an emotional divorce, but now, I think we’ve finally both moved on.

The question for me is where I’m going. I broke up with him, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel any pain. In some ways, I’m still recovering. There was only Mark before Greg, and I still debate to this day whether he counted. Now, I’ve fallen into this rut of discernment. I subscribe by email to Boundless, a really good webzine from Focus on the Family. (They’re evangelical Protestant and I’m Catholic, but it’s all Christian.) There have been several articles lately on marriage and singleness: whether one can be too content with singleness, whether delaying marriage is selfish, the problems with intimate male-female friendships that don’t lead to marriage, and so on. Of course, since they’re Protestant, none of these writers ever talk about celibate vocations other than single life. (Crash course for the uninformed: In Roman Catholicism, there is the concept of religious vocations. The only non-celibate vocation is marriage. The others are the priesthood, religious life (brothers and sisters, usually known as monks and nuns), and single life.) I’m the world’s worst decision maker, so I imagine discernment is going to be a really long process for me. That’s what I do at adoration. I know it’s supposed to be about… well, adoring Jesus, but if I don’t think about something, my mind will wander. It’s more about focused prayer for me, “at” something (someone?) specific instead of “at” everywhere. Omnipresence is annoying sometimes.

It feels weird to share all this. Most of the people that I know read my blog already knew about my discerning, but not everyone. I’m ready for it to not be a secret, though. It’s still personal, and it’s still totally between me and God, but I don’t feel like it has to be completely private anymore. If I am called to marriage, my future husband’s out there somewhere. Maybe he’s someone I’ve already met, maybe not, but that is pondering for another day. (Also, today is the feast day of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr — at twelve years old, mind you — so perhaps that’s a nudge from the Holy Spirit.)

My goal for this semester is to increase my faith and Biblical literacy, and to work on discernment. And to not get so many B’s. I’ve fallen below my own standards. And next semester, I’ve got classes and my job, which I’m pretty sure will mean I have to rearrange the schedule that was tricky to assemble in the first place. If you’re so inclined, pray for me that I’ll keep growing in faith and be focused this semester, on God and on school.

Number Monkey

I have broken my own blogging rule. I was discouraged by the lack of comments. I never intended to be the kind of blogger who craves comments, especially considering that I am listed in only one web ring, St. Blog’s. Alas, that is me. (Translation: Please comment! It makes me feel special.)

Last week’s Friday Five is much better than the one before it. There was a whole debate going on in the comments about how much it sucked.
1. What is the most adventurous food you’ve ever tried? Sushi. Never made it past the seaweed, though. Oh, and either hummus or baba ganoush, which is made from eggplant. They looked the same, so I’m not sure which one I got. It was gross, though (and yes I tried enough to really know what it tasted like).
2. What is the most adventurous food you’d be willing to try? I don’t generally try new things. Probably something else green. It’s been my goal to work my way past lettuce enough to actually eat a salad someday. (Stop laughing, you.)
3. Would you have a problem eating dog meat and why or why not? Yes. See previous answer re: new things. I think that would fall next to deer in my mom’s “it’s too pretty to eat” reasoning.
4. For the most part, do you consider your diet to be balanced? ::dies:: Of course not. I eat terribly. I overlook Maura’s messiness, and she overlooks the things I eat. It works out nicely. And I take multivitamins, eat wheat bread, and drink water, so it’s not all bad.
5. Which is more appealing – being a vegetarian for the rest of your life or being a strict carnivore for the rest of your life? I’m going to take “strict carnivore” as “never eats vegetables”, so despite my love of potatoes (yes, that’s a starch; no, I don’t care) I’ll have to choose that one. Veggies are not my friends. Even VeggieTales is iffy.

Last week was long and boring. I started my OfficeTeam assignment for the week on Monday. Now, I’m not big on trying new things, so heading out to a place I’d never been before to work for two weeks was not high on my chart. Unfortunately, I am a student — and one studying for an underpaid career — so I can’t pass up a chance to make some money. That said, I got up super-early (before 5am) to go for drug testing and then to my job. The plan was to get up earlier than early, go do the drug test, then get to work a bit late. I was supposed to report at 8am, so I figured I’d get there around 8:30 easy.

I had such a rough day.

I’d prepared for the day by getting three sets of directions from MapQuest: from my house to the drug testing place, from the testing place to work, then back home. Imagine my frustration when, just after I got dressed, my mom knocks and says, “You don’t have to take 95 North, do you?” In case you missed it, that was the morning a pedestrian was found dead on the road just before dawn, causing an unbelievable traffic jam due to the police investigation. I struggled to get ready on time, printing the “avoid highways” version of the directions to the drug test. I like to look at the pop-up maps before I use MapQuest directions, to try to visualize the route, but I was already running late, so I had to skip that.

So I got in my car and headed down Route 5, glancing at the long line waiting to get on 95, knowing that it would be even rougher than usual for those people. I followed my MapQuest dutifully… or so I thought. I got to a traffic circle that wasn’t in the directions (should have looked at those pictures!) and went straight, hoping to find my turn eventually. Then, another traffic circle. I was so stressed out. It was taking way longer than I’d thought by that point. The road I was on ran out — I hate it when they change the names of perfectly straight roads like that — so I made a U-turn and headed back to the last circle. In the circle, I saw a turnoff for 95 North, so I took it, and wound up on the highway I’d been trying to avoid. So much for that idea.

I switched back to the highway directions and followed them up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Highway. Not sure which direction to go, I turned left and headed down the highway. That was a bad choice. I drove down the road, squinting at every sign I passed, looking for my turn. I’d been driving for at least ten minutes when I realized I should have gotten to the right street very quickly, so I followed the confusing traffic and wound up making a right turn. I saw a row of parked cars in the right lane, so I pulled over, hit my flashers, and called my mom. “Mom, I’m lost, and I’m late.” I panicked, then managed to calm down while she called OfficeTeam and MapQuest-ed from her office to help me figure out where I was. It was around 9am or so by then, so all hope of being remotely on time for work was long since lost.

So, once I had new directions to the drug testing place, I set out again. I wound up on what OfficeTeam told my mom was the right street, so I was so excited. Then I went the wrong way on it, so I made one of the many, many U-turns that dotted that morning and went back the other way. No luck. I pulled into a parking lot and called the place to tell them where I was, so they could tell me how to get to where they were. Again, I set out down the highway… and it changed names. I was so worn out. I drove around and pulled over yet again to call my mom. Then I finally found the right office plaza, where it took a little more wandering to find the right office. I drove for two hours straight to get somewhere that should have taken about thirty minutes.

The drug testing place was remarkably crowded for midmorning. It was around 9ish when I checked in. I left around 10, having survived a number of awkward moments. I don’t even usually drink caffeine, and that’s nice and legal.

Then, it was back out to 95. I’d assumed the traffic would be gone by then. The investigation actually went on for most of the day, but I only had to go two exits, so I was okay. I made my way to the BW Parkway, and proceeded to go much too far, so I had to turn around. Fun moment: the police car I’d spotted facing the direction I originally went had pulled someone over after I got off and back on. I got to Greenbelt Road, where, you guessed it, I went the wrong way again. I was pretty much ready to die at that point. And I was dressed up for work, which only added to my discomfort. By the time I got to my assignment, it was just after 11am. Three hours late. I called my mom, weary and not looking forward to the hours of work ahead, but finally in the right place. Luckily, OfficeTeam had not specified how late I would be, so I didn’t have that against me right off the bat.

I walked into the lobby to find only elevators. No desk. I called OfficeTeam on my cell phone to ask where I was supposed to be going; the staffing person I’d talked to wasn’t there, but the woman who answered knew. I went upstairs and asked for Mary, my supervisor. She introduced herself, then the receptionist asked where I’d parked. I said I was on the side; I’d bypassed the spaces marked “visitor” since I didn’t think I was one. Of course I parked in the wrong place. It seems I am… and one who couldn’t remember her license plate for registration with building security.

So, after two hours straight of driving and a drug test, I was sent away to move my car. Yet another thing I couldn’t get quite right. Only by the grace of God did I not have a complete nervous breakdown right there in my car.

When I went back upstairs, Mary was busy, so I had to sit and wait for her. Then she got the floor manager, so I waited longer for her. Angie gave me a locker for my purse and lunchbox (I’m supposed to be making money, not spending it on food) and a smock. It’s this gigantic white shirt with sleeves generally too short for my arms, but all except the highest employees wear them, so I deal. Then she handed me off to Brenda, another number monkey (my term, not theirs).

Brenda gave me a crash course in Regulus’s (HARRYPOTTEROMGZ!!!!!!!11 — the sole bright spot of my day) brand of data entry, and I got to it. You know how, when your bills come in the mail, you fill out the little coupon and write your check and send it away? Well, several local companies (from Cingular to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) have their bills sent to a post office box in Baltimore, from which they go to Regulus’s Greenbelt center. Some people open and sort the envelopes, another group scans them into the computer, and then they come to the big batch of computers, where we enter the info on the checks and stubs to send it all to the company to update the customers’ accounts. What I do is navigate my way through the computer program until a check or stub pops up on my screen. Then I type in the amount and move to the next check or stub. I do this over and over until it’s time for a break, around two hours at a time. I start at 8, and I leave at 5.

It’s a really boring job, but like I keep saying, I do it solely for the money (and also to alleviate boredom, but I can read for pleasure for hours and hours at a time). Brenda was really helpful, considering she was doing her own work while she helped me out. There were two other temps from OfficeTeam last week, both guys that go to Maryland. We were on the same schedule for breaks and lunch, so we talked a little. I dressed up again on Tuesday (though I can’t remember why exactly …), but I’m back to jeans now. The smocks cover up our clothes, so people wear everything. That first day, Angie was wearing a velour tracksuit. I mostly keep to myself, but it doesn’t really get lonely. Just tedious. And I figured out to bring my CD player; most of the people listen to music while they work. I’ve entered checks ranging from 2 cents (seriously) to just over $300,000, though last week one of the manager had a million-dollar check. I also learned that Verizon uses Cingular. I’m not sure what for, but that’s ironic.

Here are some of the things I’ve pondered as a number monkey that I wish to share with you:

  • CD players go through batteries a lot less quickly when you turn off the anti-skip thing, since it stays flat on the desk anyway.
  • Many people don’t know how to properly write a check.
  • Many people use ridiculously illegible handwriting, even on important legal documents, such as checks.
  • I’m pretty good at reading ridiculously illegible handwriting, which could come in handy as a teacher.
  • Please note the correct spelling of the following words: forty, ninety, thousand, fourteen, nineteen, eighteen, two, six.
  • Sending a completely blank check will not get your bills paid.
  • Sending a check that is dated, made payable, and signed will only get your bills paid if you write in the amount as well.
  • The second line on a check (under the “payable” one) is called the legal line.
  • If your check is a mortgage payment, make sure the legal line says what it’s supposed to say; that is what we enter.
  • Notice that after the legal line is printed the word “dollars”, written out. This means you should write out the amount on this line in words. Don’t rewrite it in numerals; if we can’t decipher your numerals, that is entirely unhelpful.
  • If the amount you put on the legal line is not a whole-dollar amount, you should list the cents as a fraction. This agrees neatly with the “dollars” printed at the end of the line. One dollar is 100 cents; therefore, your fraction should be X/100, where X is replaced by the cents. This is not the same as 100/X. If you have a whole-dollar amount and wish to write in a fraction anyway, please make your 00/100, no/100, or XX/100 legible. It might look like other numbers, which is very frustrating for the number monkey that has to read your check.
  • If you make a mistake and wish to correct it rather than starting a new check, crossing it out and writing it in the empty space is a much better idea than trying to write over it.
  • If your check designs are Kiss (the rock band) or I Love Lucy, know that you made a number monkey smile.

I’m always in bed by 10:30pm, so my days have been odd lately. I intended to crash hard on Saturday to make up for my weekday exhaustion. Stupid body clock woke me up at 8:30. I grumbled and forced myself back to sleep for half an hour. Saturday was spent mostly resting and lounging at home, which was lovely after working all week.

I did, however, have to go to Wal-Mart. My car’s oil light beeps randomly. I checked the dipstick last week (I have so many skills) and it was fine. The last time I had this problem, I had my oil changed and Mindy (my car) was fine, so I planned to try that remedy again. I drove up to Wal-Mart a few minutes behind my mom and Courtney, who was getting her nails done. (We are such opposites.) The last time I went, I parked in the wrong place and screwed up everything. Mom had to come to my rescue. (Okay, so not that many skills.) So this time, I parked in the right area and went inside, where I waited for quite some time before the people working there got around to helping me. I was sent back outside to move my car (horrid déjà vu). I came back in and told the attendant guy what I wanted, gave him my keys, and went back into the store to kill time (read: shop) for an hour. I timed it perfectly. I came back to retrieve my car, only to be told, “Oh, yeah, they didn’t do yours,” and receive a perfectly useless sheet marked “CANCELLED” in big black letters. My oil pan is damaged, probably from my accident. I managed to get past that, and now it’s come back to haunt me. And I have to just deal with the oil light.

I went to church with Mom on Sunday. Our guest priest was awesome. He’s a former campus chaplain, so I can tell Fr. Bill will still be awesome in twenty years or so. He actually made us laugh out loud, but we were chuckling all through his homily. It was a great Mass; I complimented him on my way out. Monday was a very welcome day off. I have some “state of the world” race-related comments I could make, but in the interest of saving your eyes, I’ll refrain for now.

This week has been more of the same. More numbers, hours of typing. I am excellent with that number pad now. The storm this morning wasn’t fun. I’m pretty sure my wiper blades need replacing. Mom let me drive her car once last week, since she only goes to the Metro station, but I’m more comfortable in my car, old as it is. Work was so slow today that they let us go at 1:30. I could have used the extra hours, but I’d already managed to get paid for time spent staring at the screen, waiting for something to enter, mentally singing along to my CDs, so I avoided rush hour and got gas so I don’t have to squeeze it in tomorrow morning.

Darnit. Blogging today means I’ll have nothing to say on Friday, or even Saturday. Then again, I never really do.

Just Like Playing, Only for Real

My “shorter and better” blogging plan did not work, it seems. Back to the essays, then, starting with the Friday Five.
1. Take a book you’ve read. Now take the main character. Put them in a band. What would the band’s name be? Well, you have Harry Harry, or Susie’s Lovely Bones. I’ll go with the latter.
2. What instrument would that character play? Harp.
3. Who else would be in that band? A bunch of dogs.
4. Would they stay underground or get popular? Not exactly underground… kind of above ground, really.
5. Why did you choose that book? Because it’s the one I’m currently reading, and these are sucky questions, so they deserve sucky answers in return.

I worked on Monday. I covered the receptionist’s desk at Long Fence and Home, the same place I worked last summer. I was confused and a little overwhelmed at first. I’d never done reception before, and I had to get through 83 messages left during the Christmas-New Year’s Day interim when they were closed. It took until lunch at 12 for me to get through all the messages, with calls coming in the whole time. I had trouble figuring out how to transfer a call using the speed-dial buttons, but once I got it, I was okay. I even got to read DV16 Part 2 between calls, finally. It was so amazing. Cassie Claire rocks the fandom. The best part was seeing so many people again, and that I got to be a receptionist. I used to play secretary with my friend Jenn back in Japan. We’d get spare phones out, and sometimes spare computer keyboards, and pretend to be receptionists, basically. But on Monday, when I picked up the phone and said, “Hello. Thank you for calling Long Windows, Siding, and Kitchens. How may I direct your call?” there was someone on the other side. Driving home was horrible because it was rainy and my wipers need replacing, but I made it back safely. Again, I’m thinking it’s not a coincidence I got St. Frances of Rome for this year. Must read up more on her.

I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and yesterday relaxing some more. I’m about halfway through The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. I bought it like-new from eBay last fall, but only got around to reading it just now. It’s weird, but the voice is really authentic, and the mood is perfect. I also did some more coding, touching up this layout and working on my fanlistings. Profile and links page next. Rajni mentioned that she has a personal links page for her browser home page. I thought about doing that for myself, but I’m so accustomed to using the Bookmarks menu now.

I called in available to OfficeTeam yesterday, so I have a random data entry job for the next two weeks. It sounds really boring, but then again, so did sorting files. Wait, that was boring. Erm, at least it’s more productive and profitable than sitting around the house reading or glued to my computer screen. I had to go in this afternoon to fill out background check paperwork, and I have to go for drug testing before work Monday morning. It makes me wonder what kind of data I’ll be entering, but whatever. I’ve had my background checked twice before, though both times for child-related jobs. Hmm.

After I got back from OfficeTeam, I took the Metro up to Gallery Place to meet Guy for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was lovely. The film is just as beautiful as the trailers made it look. Tilda Swinton as the White Witch was fabulous, so emotionless and cruel. Aslan was beautifully rendered, and Liam Neeson voiced him like a favorite uncle. (I can’t think of a better way to put that.) The Stone Table scene was heart-wrenching. It helps if you know what’s going to happen, though. All the kids acted really well. Older Edmund was kind of hot. Overall, it was a great movie. I hope they make the others and they turn out as good as that was. We went to Fuddruckers afterward, which has really good burgers, even if they are enormous.

Okay, so not so much with the essay length this time. I just don’t do much at home. … Back to reading.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I’ve got a week and a half to cover, so despite my lack of doing much, I’m still going to go on for a short story’s worth of blogging. I imagine you’re all used to it by now, though. Hang in there.

The HS reunion dinner wasn’t fabulous, but not horrible, either. I liked seeing Megan and Stephanie again. Hope, Paul, Greg, McClain, Steph’s boyfriend Ian (a.k.a. black Ian), and Gonzo (a.k.a. Thomas) were there, too. Steph picked me up way too early, so we waited in the parking lot for other people to show up. When a car pulled up way too fast, barely missing a little girl, I wondered out loud who was driving. It was Paul. Gonzo and Hope had already shown up, then Greg completely missed us all sitting in the parking lot and was inside before anyone could yell for him. I wound up at the same end of the table as Greg, which was unfortunate but not horrible. The food was awesome — it’s IHOP; it can’t not be. After dinner, we went out to see King Kong in Waldorf. I hadn’t really wanted to go, but I can be a lemming when I feel like it. We ran into Freddie there, who was startled to see so many of us together so randomly. He was on his way to see GoF, yay. King Kong was super long, but very good. It was visually beautiful, and I liked the story. I could have done with shorter action scenes, though, which would have cut the run time considerably. Yes, there are huge crazy creatures on Skull Island. We get it, Peter. Move on. I didn’t get back until almost 1am.

Christmas was good. I got up early, not to open presents, but to get ready for church. My dad works mornings, so my mom pushed present-opening until later in the day, leaving us a convenient opening to go to Mass. I was glad I didn’t have to talk her into going and taking the rugrats, since it was a twofer Mass: Sunday and a Holy Day of Obligation. I’ve only missed one Sunday since I’ve gone back to church, a fact of which I am very proud. So we went. There were more people than usual, but not many. It’s a small church. The poinsettias behind the altar were beautiful. My mom loves poinsettias (born for Christmas, remember?). I liked that the “Gloria” was set to the tune of “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The carols about angels are some of my favorites (that and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”). I’ve never been to Mass on Christmas day before. We had the reading from the Gospel of John, but the priest did such a good job explaining why we didn’t hear about shepherds and angels that it didn’t matter at all. My knee went out toward the end of Mass. I usually stay kneeling until the priest sits after Communion time, but I had to sit early, and then it buckled on my way out so I almost fell on Ryan.

I came home and ate some cereal while we waited for Dad. The rugrats and I opened our presents first, as usual. I got more cute cross jewelry, a new Old Navy giftcard, new clothes and Hello Kitty pajamas, and a new HP calendar, which I only remembered to flip to January just as I wrote that. I also got the soundtrack to GoF, which explains my current favorite song. My mom liked her sonnet a lot. The rugrats cleaned up. Ryan now has an entire AND1 outfit, spiffy new basketball shoes, and an electric guitar that he cannot yet play. Courtney got a cell phone, which means my parents’ minutes will be much lower than usual. She’s basically my complete opposite. The rugrats liked their calendars (yay for fun practical gifts), and my dad never got to see all the episodes of The 4400, so the first season on DVD was a good buy.

A few hours later, we trekked out to visit my grandma. The food was so good, as usual. My grandma can cook. I recognized all my relatives right away, which was a welcome change. My grandparents gave me super-cute Tinkerbell pajamas, and Aunt Cookie (who is not really my aunt at all) gave me a super-cute automatic umbrella. I love my black polka-dotted one, but putting it up and down does get to be a nuisance. For the first time, I think, I really like every present I got. Lots of love.

This last week has been as boring as every other time I come home. I finished the book I was reading this semester, If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity, by Jason Evert. It was amazing. I swear I read my life on some of those pages. I’m not comfortable discussing it in depth here, and I doubt most of you are interested, so I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say that I feel better about being single now.

I went back to OfficeTeam on Wednesday. I got there early and had to wait a few minutes. That happens a lot, now that I think about it. Maybe I just always make appointments when they’re not busy. The receptionist had told me I’d only have to fill out new tax paperwork, but I had to do a whole new application since it’d been so long since my last assignment. Dian re-interviewed me, which was unexpected but easy. She called me back on Thursday to say Ridgeway, my supervisor from the summer, needed someone to answer phones tomorrow, so I have that to do. Getting up super-early won’t be fun, and neither will getting to sleep so early tonight, but I could use the money, and apparently Ridgeway liked me. Yay for impressing bosses, even if they are temporary. It’s just the one day as far as I know, but that file room was huge, so there may still be more for me to do.

At the gas station before I went to OfficeTeam, I was waiting for my tank to fill when I heard the woman at the pump on the other side of mine say, “She didn’t hear you.” Naturally, I turned to the little girl who was trying to talk to me. Well, that’s what I thought. Turns out the evangelizing Jehovah’s Witness woman wanted to give me a tract. I took it, not wanting to hurt the little girl’s feelings, finished getting gas, and went off to my appointment. I didn’t really look at it until I got to the OfficeTeam building, but I read it when I got home. “Why You Can Trust the Bible,” printed in 1987, is actually quite tame. It didn’t tell me I’m going to hell for being Catholic or anything. I know the JW’s have been to our house before. Janet always said they’d given up on our neighborhood. Their Kingdom Hall is right on the street that runs by my neighborhood, so I’d wondered why they hadn’t come knocking until she mentioned that. Most of the people on the main street are Christian (are JW’s Christian?), so there’s not much room for evangelization down here. I’m upset that the woman had her daughter tract me instead of doing it herself, but it was an effective tactic.

My New Year’s Eve was blah. I edited Guy’s grad school essay for him, which was a welcome break from web design and generally sitting in front of my computer. I channel-hopped the Times Square coverage. Mariah Carey did a good performance, but her dress was so unbelievably tiny, I can only imagine how cold she was. Even her dancers were wearing gloves. They gave her this big, I-hope-it-was-fake furry stole partway through, but she didn’t keep it on. My mom dragged me into the living room for sparkling apple juice at midnight, then basically called me boring and old as we watched replays of the Dick Clark show performances.

I somehow managed to get up and ready for church this morning. Another twofer: Sunday and the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. The frizz is kind of taking over my hair. Perm time will come before school starts up again. It was just me and my mom this morning. We had lunch at Subway, where I reaffirmed my love for flat, sauceless sandwiches, then went to the BX before we came home. She tried to talk me into eating some black-eyed peas for luck, but I avoided it as usual. (It’s a Southern tradition, black-eyed peas cooked with a neckbone for good luck in the new year. I think they smell weird.)

Beginning to Look Like Home

Happy new year, and welcome to version seven of my blog. My new layout (finally! you say, after a year of the old one) features Switchfoot, the awesome Christian rock band that has found such a good niche in the mainstream. Every time I hear a Switchfoot song on the radio, I give a little cheer. I discovered them through the wonderful soundtrack for A Walk to Remember, bought their CD The Beautiful Letdown for $9 before they were so popular, and have loved them since then, despite the technical issues with Nothing Is Sound. Nothing Is Sound, their latest CD, features the first single “Stars,” which became one of my favorite songs ever and provides the lyrics you see scattered about.

The new header also reveals that I have changed the title of my blog. I’ve outgrown Musings from Calliope. I’ve been looking for a new host precisely because I want to change my blog. My new title, as the banner shows, is Contrariwise. This wonderful word is used most famously in Alice in Wonderland, my favorite book. It also represents me. I have never been normal. I’m obsessed with Harry Potter, I’m really into school, and I’m a NeoCath(olic, one of those crazy young ones who like tradition and the old-fashioned ways of thinking). So, I live my life contrariwise. Comments on the new layout are much appreciated, especially for anything that’s showing up strangely. My normal image host is malfunctioning, so everything you see is hosted on TinyPic. I apologize for slow loading. Problem solved.

Happy Catholic, one of my blog-hopping stops, puts a quote and trivia fact from a tv show or movie in her sidebar. She rotates through everything from Serenity to Frasier to The Simpsons. A few days ago, it was from Joan of Arcadia! And it’s the quote I use for my “church and food” away message. Yay, Holy Spirit. HC is also the place where I found the link to request a patron saint for the year. I have been chosen by St. Frances of Rome, patron of automobile drivers, among other things. I’ve had some near misses, and I always thank God and my guardian angel for keeping me out of them… perhaps there’s a saint watching out for me, too. I’ve also adopted St. Jerome, unofficial patron of sarcastic bloggers according to the Curt Jester (an atheist-turned-Catholic blogger).

With that out of the way, here’s my belated Friday Five: a twofer this week.
1) What was the first album/CD/Cassette you ever bought?
The first CD I bought was Aqua’s Aquarium. I still love “Barbie Girl.” The first music tape I owned that wasn’t a book on tape was Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill.
2) What was your first fave song? I remember really liking The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.”
3) Which song gives you that “funny nostalgic feeling” every time you hear it? “Iris,” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Every single time.
4) Name the first concert you ever went to. I’ve only been to one real concert (the shame, I know): *NSync in 2002. It was amazing, though. I couldn’t stop smiling until long after we were out of the MCI Center.
5) What do you consider the worst song of all time? Anything by Macy Gray. I can’t stand her voice.

1) Name your fave song at the moment.
“Do the Hippogriff,” by the Wyrd Sisters. No, seriously.
2) What is the most recent album/CD/Cassette you purchased? Nothing Is Sound.
3) Which song will you never get sick of hearing? The “Gloria” we sing at church on campus. I know that’s kind of a cop-out answer, but it’s such a good arrangement; I love it.
4) What is your current fave music video? I don’t see a lot of videos since I stopped having time to watch TRL. The video for Nickelback’s “Someday” is awesome, though.
5) If you could be a famous music artist, what type of music would you produce? I don’t know. Something danceable with good sing-along lyrics?

For normal blog-ness, see (gasp!) my other post (NOTE: Until Blogger Support gets back to me, the “other post” is BELOW this one. Newer posts are supposed to be at the top, grr.) Yes, dear readers, my resolution (NOT a New Year’s Resolution because I never ever keep those) is to post smaller entries. I’m going to work on that “more often” part, but for now, you get an intermission.

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