Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stupid Nevada Drivers


Among the things I love about living in Northern California is the traffic. Not that I enjoy traffic jams, but it’s amazing, after living in driving hell for so long, how a traffic jam really works. In Sacramento, the freeways get jammed because there is a lot of traffic. There are tens of thousands of people trying to get to or from work, all in a relatively small window of time.

In Reno, though, traffic would jam because two cars were trying to get on the freeway. See, Nevada drivers do not know the term, “merge.” They have heard this word, and believe it means, “Turn your signal on and wait five minutes to get into the next lane,” or, “When you see someone put their turn signal on, speed up just enough so they can’t get in front of you…or behind you.”

It doesn’t help that the intersection between the two freeways, affectionately referred to as the “Spaghetti Bowl,” was fashioned to allow 10 cars to be on it at a time, regardless of the direction you are heading. Cram any more than that, and it’s an automatic jam. Add to that the constant construction (as long as we lived there, I have never been on the freeway and not had a lane closed or a slower speed limit due to construction. I was going on 9 years prior to moving here) and you have traffic.

Then you have the California drivers. See, California drivers know how to drive. (While this may not be applicable to places such as LA or San Francisco, most California drivers drive well.) They may speed and they may refrain from using their signals. Heck, they may even cut in front of you. But here, it is expected. It is done to you, because it is a well-known fact that you’re going to do it right back to them at some point in your life. This, though seemingly chaotic, is a good thing. It keeps traffic flowing nicely. You drive, expecting that the driver next to you will cram into that small spot in front of you. But they do it nicely. You let them in, because they will let you in when you “cut” in front of them two miles down the road. See? It’s not cutting. It is etiquette.

In Nevada, drivers try to mimic this. They, however, do not really know how it’s done, having been surrounded with other NV drivers for so long. They add this to the supposed “merging” and cause accidents, which slows down traffic even more (if that’s even possible.)

The list goes on and on with bad driving techniques I’ve witnessed while living in Reno, but, thus far, I’ve only seen two problems with California drivers. The first is the rubbernecking. A California driver is literally unable to pass by an accident (or even a police car having pulled someone over) without examining it on their own. They have to be sure everything is being handled correctly, which, of course, slows traffic down. Luckily, the number of freeway accidents is small comparatively, unless it’s a weekend when all the Reno-ites come to town.

The other problem is the Acuras. I first started noticing this phenomenon years ago, when I would travel to Southern California on road trips. Since then, I’ve been counting. Statistically speaking 2.5/3 California Acura drivers mean bad news. They drive like they are alone on the freeway. I’m not sure why this is, but I would be interested to find out what insurance rates are on California Acuras compared to any other vehicle. I’d bet the results would be surprising.

Of all the stupid moves I’ve seen from drivers around the Sac area, 98% of them have either been Acuras or Nevada drivers. Need I say more?

Friday, October 5, 2007

i'm in love

I think today may just be the best day I've had all year. Not that anything great has happened so far (it's only 7 in the morning)...except one.

The weather.

Today is supposed to be a high of 60 with scattered showers. Now some may already know what this means, but for those of you who are lost, read on.

This morning, when making the all-important-what-should-I-wear-today decision (which can be an extra hard one, because today is dress-down day at work, and I ALWAYS wear my comfy jeans on Fridays) I decided to pull out my box of sweaters. I know it may be a bit early, but I figure, it's snowed in the pass already so what the heck. I may as well.

So I grabbed my favorite sweater ever. You know, the one you pull on and instantly feel warm and cozy. I was slightly afraid that it may not fit right, that it wouldn't be as soft, or that it would just feel funny...but no. It was (and is) perfection. It is amazing how a sweater (or any other favorite piece of clothing, for that matter) can just make you feel good.

There's nothing really extraordinary about this sweater. It's black, soft, and has a little (tiny) red deer or something near the top right. (It's from Old Navy, so that may be their symbol or something.) But it's so comfortable.

I've decided that I may even be intrepid enough to pull out my tall boots and wear 'em to work.

Today is going to be a good day.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

thriller


Last night, Ben and I watched Final Fantasy, The Spirits Within. While the movie was ok at best (It was better than I thought it would be, but it will never make my top 10 list...) The special features, though, made the whole hour and 46 minutes worth watching. If you didn't know, the movie is done with 3-D animation in order to look very similar to the video games. There is a special feature in which a short film was created in order to test the movement abilities of the animated characters. In short, they created the Thriller video all over again, using the cast of the movie. It was fricken' hilarious. The facial features, the hands, oh my goodness. I laughed, I cried, I watched it again. This will definitely be one of those amusing memories that will stay with me for quite a while.

And so, my dear friends, I began thinking about wonderful music videos that I have loved in the past. Videos that have also given me wonderful memories -- though not necessarily in the same way this one did. (All of these are ranging from childhood to around high school era-they are the videos that stuck with me even 'till now.)

NOTE: I was originally going to do 10, but being as indecisive as you know I am, I couldn' narrow it down without feeling bad that some of the others didn't make it. So the list is 20-something videos long.

22. Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar.
For the same reason as Thriller, which will be named later, this video rocks! The dance sequence is awesome.

21. Call Me Al by Paul Simon.
So you're sitting there, watching this video, thinking that Paul Simon is just going to sit there while Chevy Chase sings his song. But wait, there's a penny whistle solo and some groovy grapevining to come!

20. “Can’t Stop” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
This video is so pleasing to the eye. There are so many different things going on, so many abstracts, so many bright and vibrant colors, and the song is pretty catchy.

19. Buddy Holly by Weezer.

This is just a classic. Most of the video's footage is actually from the original Happy Days show, and the portions that aren't are flawlessly added in. It's so dorky and happy and just plain wonderful!

18. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.

I actually posted the link to the Final Fantasy version that I was talking about earlier. You've all seen the original and understand its wonderfulness. Watch this one 'till the end; there's a part where they all make weird faces, and it's to die for.

17. “Like a Prayer” by Madonna.

This was one of my favorite songs when I was younger, and remains one of my faves now. I love the Madonna-before-she-tried-to-hard-to-stay-young-and-hip music she did. This video, as controversial as it was, is simply beautiful.

16. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty.

I LOVE Tom Petty. I've never heard a song by him that I haven't loved. Several of his videos would have made it on this list if it weren't for all the other worthy competitors. I love this one though. Based on Alice in Wonderland, this video is creepy, comical, and just all-around-Tom-Pettyish. I especially love the part where he cuts the "Alice cake."

15. “1979” by Smashing Pumpkins.

This is one of the quintessential teenage-angst-and-fun videos. It shows various activities teens took action in, from serious to fun. They ranged from spinning donuts in a car, the teenage party scene and the accompanying drama, bowling with soda bottles, and the stupid mistakes teens often make. It's a video that tells a story of what it means to be young and "invincible."

14. “Runaway” by Janet Jackson.

Ok, you may laugh at me, but I LOVED this video when I was a kid. The places she visited, the people she met. Truly amazing and fun and beautiful. And as with most Jackson videos, the choreography was awesome.

13. “Deadweight” by Beck.

First of all, this song is one of those that will stay in your head, in a good way, for days and days after hearing it. The video is simple and complex at the same time. As with most Michel Gondry videos (who, by the way, wrote the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is one of the best movies ever made) is wonderfully created, and tells a complicated, ironic, and beautiful story.

12. “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. This video is just plain funny. The Beastie Boys, who are extremely reminiscent of Starsky and Hutch, are just a crack-up in what I would call one of the most amusing videos out there.

11. “Natural Blues” by Moby. This video always captivates me. It's got to be one of the best animated videos in creation (I say ONE of the best, because of my number 3 choice.) It's a happy yet melancholy video, where the character sets out on a journey with his trusty dog. He meets many strange and interesting creatures along the way...and you can watch it to see what happens.

10. "Losing My Religion" by REM.

This video is beautiful, surreal, and perfect. The lighting and displays are in-keeping with the tone of the song, the shadowing is amazing, and the band's movements are mesmerizing.

9. “Redundant” by Greenday.
If you haven't seen this one, you need to. It's another story-teller with a simple storyline. While the band is talking about the redundancy of life, the video is showing it.

8. “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” by George Harrison.

This was my favorite video of all time when I was about 10. The singing and dancing animals ALWAYS got me watching this video over and over. I thought that when I watched it again, after all these years, it would be lame and ridiculous, but I loved it just as much as I did when I was younger. I had forgotten about Harrison's dance sequence and the chipmunk's pipe/sax solo, and I nearly cried I laughed so hard.

7. “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel.
This was one of those just-plain-weird videos that always had so much going on, that you couldn't help but love it. The claymation and animation in this video are awesome. Luckily, when I was a kid, I had no idea what this song was really about, so it's funny to watch the video again, noticing the obviousness.

6. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel.

First off, how can you not love those sunglasses? This video, with all its political innuendos, is amazing with all the different scenes, environments, and people you meet. It really portrays how the times have changed.

5. “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai.
The dance moves are groovy, the illusions are awesome, the song is brilliant.

4. “Everlong” by The Foo Fighters.

Another Michel Gondry video, this one is comical and serious at its core. Dwelling on a couple asleep in bed and the dreams they have, we encounter many of the things we tend to dream about. The video focuses on the way that these strange, unreal elements seem almost normal when you're dreaming. Plus, the main character has home-made nunchucks.

3. “Take on Me” by A-Ha.

Watch the video, and you'll see how revolutionary it was. It was the first semi-animated music video in creation. (Second was Dire Straits' Money for Nothing, which is another classic). It took on the music video world by storm, winning several awards in the 1986 MTV Music Awards. (It, unfortunately, lost Best Video of the Year to Dire Straits.)

2 "Estranged” by Guns’n’Roses.

This is the third video in a trilogy based on the short story "Without You" by Axl Rose's friend, Del James. It's a simply beautiful song and video. While it IS 10 minutes long, the last 2 minutes really make the video.

1. "Weapon of Choice" by Fatboy Slim.

Some may laugh that this made it to my number 1. It's a ridiculous song and a silly video. BUT LET ME DEFEND MYSELF! Any video that feature Christopher Walken dancing around (and even flying) is a fine video by my standards. Watch it; I'm sure you'll agree.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

the darndest things


Kids are too funny. I was tidying up my classroom last week and found a page-long love note from one of my kids to another. It was talking about how he was the love of her life, and how he was "lame for not realizing" that they were meant to be together. This, from the girl who, when given 15 minutes every morning to write a journal topic, will have, at best, a sentence or two written.

And then you get notes like this.


Oh, the silliness.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

fall has come again


Yes, I know, two blogs in one day, what was I thinking? But I discovered something important, so, here we go.

So it’s ALMOST apparently, officially, fall. It happens next week, though I wasn’t aware of it until today. I have been awaiting fall for so long, and wondering why it hasn’t yet come (summer decided to drag on FOREVER this year) so I went on a search to figure out when it was supposed to come.

It makes sense that it really is coming though, and making quite the debut at that. I meant to write about it when it happened, but, alas, the ever-busy weekdays strike, and I only seem to find the time to write on the weekends. On Wednesday, I awoke to find clouds in the sky. Yes, clouds. A phenomenon I don’t believe we’ve seen since last winter. I shook off the excitement, figuring that, as has happened many a time before, the clouds would leave and the hot summer sun would reappear later that day. The sky was smiling down on me, though, and it actually stayed around 75 degrees ALL DAY. It was the most heavenly day I’ve experienced in a while.

I love fall. It’s the perfect season. The leaves become the most beautiful colors you’ve ever seen. You can wear a jackets and hats, and won’t look silly, yet you can still wear summery clothes and not freeze. AND, now I get to pull out all my fall clothes. You know, the earth tone-ish outfits and the tall, leather boots you can’t get away with wearing any other time of the year. With fall clothing being the best clothing, one can only wish it would be fall for a greater time of the year.

I know I do.

Bring it on.

tales from the kitchen, part 1

Today I made a calzone. I am so glad that this kitchen is about twice the size of our last kitchen. With several mixing bowls (one for the yeast and water, another for all the dry, messy ingredients that get all over the place and merely spread or become fused to the countertop when you try to clean them with a moist sponge, and yet another for all the “inside ingredients.”) Now usually, I’m not a messy cooker. There must be something about flour and yeast that just gets me crazy in the kitchen or something.

While waiting expectantly for the dough to rise (this phenomenon is even more boring than trying to watch grass grow) I attempted to clean up my mess. Once the dough finally rose to its peak, I took it out of the fridge, only to realize that I do not possess the quintessential rolling pin. Why, oh why?

FYI, though, a can of refried beans will work nearly as well. It might not be as long as a rolling pin, and it might leave weird indentations in your dough, but it’s easily accessible and multi-functional as well.)

All in all, it was the most scrumptious of the messy dinners I think I’ve ever made. It dripped with homemade pasta sauce and yummy toppings like Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and black olives. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. Good thing I made enough for leftovers!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

wow

So this month has been craz-azy! I got a job. We got a new computer. Today, we are buying a car. Can life get any crazier?!

I have to say, though, that it's been crazy in a good way. I've made it through my first two weeks teaching and it's been simply amazing. To finally have my own classroom, full of what my prior employer referred to as "empty minds to fill," is just the most amazing thing I could have imagined.

Though I've got some tough kids in my class, I've really come to be attached to them...already. I see kids who have had really bad experiences in school, because they aren't quite up to par with where they should be. But what I really see is kids who need another chance. Another chance to shine, to get the answer right, to feel smart and safe and special. I see a classroom full of minds that, while not being empty, are ready to be filled with much more than they could imagine.

It's an interesting phenomenon to be teaching 5th grade. They are at the top of their school. Next year, they go on to that strange new world that is Jr. High, where things will be so different. They will go to different teachers for each subject. They will be called to a higher sense of responsibility. They won't get the second and third and fourth chances they are given in my class. They will go through social changes, family changes, and hormonal changes. Looking at each of them now, they are so unprepared for that world.

Hopefully in 9 months, though, they will face it with confidence, intelligence, and responsibility. Afterall, that's my job.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

testing, 1..2..3..

I don't know what to say. With all that's been happening, I must admit it's been hard not to get depressed. I still don't have a job, though everyone says I should have gotten one by now and that they are "crazy not to hire me." Apparently "they" aren't aware of this. My mom has been in and out of the hospital 4 times in the last few weeks, and I don't have the money to keep driving over there to be with my family. I feel helpless and lost, and I'm trying SO hard to be patient and to have faith that this will all work out for the best.

I guess it's these times that really test your integrity and faith, huh? I hope this is a test I can look back and say I passed with flying colors.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

mothers aren't supposed to feel pain

I just found out that my mom has colon cancer. She’s been in the hospital for the past week, with doctors doing several tests on her to see what was wrong. The findings ranged from colitis to abscesses, and the final conclusion was colon cancer. She will have to go through surgery, where her colon will be removed.

This isn’t supposed to happen, especially to mothers. It’s a sad occasion to hear that someone is ill or has been hospitalized, but when I found out it was my mom, I couldn’t believe it. All I could think about was how she was not allowed to hurt. When I told her this, she replied sarcastically with, “Oh, I guess I missed that memo.” She’s doing her best to take this in stride, while I (not the one who is sick) is worrying and fussing about the whole thing. She is more worried about my worry than she is about herself.
That’s the thing about good mothers. They care more deeply about their “babies” than they do about themselves.

And there’s something about our mothers, that, while we may not always agree with them, it hurts more than anything to see them in pain.


Do me a favor, tell your mother you love her.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

a mile in your shoes

A few weeks ago at TNT, we were asked to look at a pair of shoes and write a story about it and the person it belonged to. This is the story I came up with.





pink flip flops






Her faithful flip flops . They had cost less than any other pair of shoes she owned, yet they had seen and done more than all the others combined. Faded and worn, these shoes had seen the beaches of the Caribbean, the sands of Lake Tahoe, and the beach-front sidewalks of southern California. They had been with her through friendships, moves, and graduations. They were worn on the day she moved away from her hometown, when she saw her first ocean sunset, when she received her first kiss. Though her friends often made fun of her for keeping the old shoes, she felt a bond to them, as if they were the tie to her past, present, and future.


Monday, May 7, 2007

can a movie really change your life?

So I recently watched a movie that I was able to deem “my favorite movie” after just one watching. Now usually, I make myself watch a movie three times before concluding that it is, in fact, my favorite movie of the time. Such happened with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Italian Job and Back to the Future. (Yes, I happen to think that Back to the Future is the best movie ever made. If you don’t agree, it’s your loss.) But with this movie, I was taken in within the first five minutes. I forgot myself and even lost my sense of “I’m sitting here watching a movie;” this beautiful story was all that existed for that 123 minutes. To quote the comment on its IMDB site,

This movie has all the markers of a Crowe flick... an awesome soundtrack for starters. What is unexpected about this movie, though, is how funny it is. It deals with some heavy subject matter (death, suicide, failure) in a way that's fresh... and light. There are some scenes that had the audience crying, they were laughing so hard.It has many of the same American nostalgic qualities to it: that orange dusty tint to the American landscape that ultimately makes most people nostalgic for a home they've never had. The small town, where everyone knows your name (or in this case, your dad's name). Crowe introduced this movie saying that a lot of the scenes were from his memories of childhood and his family's eccentricities, which you definitely see. He completely succeeds in capturing the moments (often embarrassing) that families share... and outsiders never get to see.”

The movie, in case you haven’t already figured it out, is Elizabethtown. Since the first time I saw the movie poster advertising the movie, I had a strange sense of curiosity about this flick. I mean, it stars Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Now, I’ve never been one of those girls who croon over the “hotness” of Orlando Bloom, and I never really saw much depth in his acting. (Don’t throw the tomatoes yet, people!) In this movie, however, I was amazed at the intensity he brought to his character. Several times throughout the movie, the camera focuses in on his face. Without a single word or sound, with just facial expression, he was able to convey a vast number of emotions. I could actually feel the struggle of these conflicting thoughts and feelings as I watched his face. The first time it happened, Ben and I just looked at each other with surprised and amazed expressions on our faces. For that reason alone, I could have loved this movie. Of course, this was just the beginning. Kirsten Dunst plays the part of a neurotic girl who changes the life of Bloom’s character. At first, she seems as annoying as the kid who followed you around on the playground at recess and wouldn’t just let you be. By the end of the movie, though, I was actually rooting her on.

Another very important aspect of the movie is the soundtrack. Like in Forrest Gump or Almost Famous, the soundtrack makes the movie. This soundtrack did not disappoint. (I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the past three weeks and can’t seem to get the songs out of my head, in a good way.) Needless to say (again), this is my favorite movie.

And, as a footnote, I did watch it the required three times, and I have to say that, each time, I enjoyed the movie even more.

Friday, April 13, 2007

nobody is as mysterious as they think they are

So the new neighbors upstairs moved in tonight. Yes, tonight. As in, it’s 12:30 in the morning and they are still moving stuff. Shouldn’t they have the common decency to wait until tomorrow to do this, at say, anytime after I’ve woken up? I mean, it’s not like they started at 2 this afternoon and just had to get it all moved in. They didn’t start until around 8 this evening.

There’s just something about neighbors, especially in apartment complexes, that gets me. Maybe it’s just because we’ve always had such interesting ones worthy of speculation and analyzing.

For instance, in the apartment complex we lived in prior to this one, we had a neighbor who smoked. Now, he didn’t just smoke. He smoked. One could (and would) find him out on his porch smoking at 2 pm, 4 am, or just about any other time one decided to check the porch. Not only did he smoke, but he coughed. You know, the cough of one who has smoked for years. The cough that sounds more like a hack. Now, as a side note, if you know me at all, then you know I tend to make up nicknames for people. People I know or don’t know generally have a nickname, and I often refer to them by their nicknames. This neighbor was affectionately called Hacking Man.

Hacking Man wasn’t really a neighbor, as in, a person who shares a wall with you. His building was directly next to ours, though, with just a sidewalk between. Out my bedroom window, I could see him, standing on his porch, Budweiser in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Often he’d be talking to a friend on the phone (although most of the time, he merely spoke to himself or anyone else who happened to walk by). He’d talk about the weather or how annoyed he was that his wife “made him eat Pine-Sol again.” He would say this any time his wife mopped the kitchen and “stank up the apartment.” I honestly don’t know if he had a job. He would talk about work, but when could he have had time to be employed with all of his hacking and smoking and inhalation of Pine-Sol? I rarely had the occasion of walking by when he wasn’t on the porch. He often slept out there; I could hear him hack in his sleep through my window.



Then there was Suburban Man. He lived a few buildings down from the roommate and I. We used to sit on our porch quite a bit, and whenever he would drive by in his ugly, gold Suburban, he’d leer at us. This was the rubber-necking, can’t-see-where-you’re-going-because-your-head-is-behind-your-neck type of leering. It got to be annoying, but we never thought much of it. Until the day that we were watching tv in our living room, and he drove by. He actually stared into the apartment, as if looking for us. We noticed that he did this several times a day, and occasionally, he would drive around the complex several times, so as to pass by our apartment. It wasn’t scary, though, until we started seeing him at random places. Now, they were all legitimate places for him to be, but it was still creepy seeing that Suburban wherever we went. Luckily, he moved shortly after that, and we never heard from him again.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

worth coming home to

With the utter dizziness of...life, I haven't had time to write any blogs in quite a while. With all the transition having taken place, life has begun to slow down a bit. It's nice to have the time to write and not feel like I'm wasting precious time that could be spent on something important that needs to be done.
As I mentioned, things have been pretty crazy as of late. (As it always is. It's interesting how that always suffices as a "good answer" for when someone asks you how things are going. "Crazy," I say, and they nod their heads, knowing the craziness in their own lives. Why are we a society that can't seem to slow down and just...take a breather?)
Anyway...


We moved again. Actually we've moved two or three times since my last update. We're living in beautiful California now! I'm so excited to have left the drab brownness that is Reno to replace it with the fresh vibrance of green that is Northern California. We live (literally) RIGHT next to a beautiful lake, and less than two miles from another one. It's awesome, because, while the two lakes feed off of each other, they are completely different. One has the stereotypical atmosphere of a lake: calm, serene, and "room-temperature." This lake's temperature follows the weather, so in the summer it's nice and warm; it never gets too frosty to enjoy it. This lake has a laid-back personality to it. The other lake, however, flows like a river and has an aura of determination about it. It's always freezing, but it likes it that way. It dares to be different and it dares you, the enjoyer of lakes, to be different as well. Really, it's nice to be near lakes with personalities, you know? You can go to either, depending on your mood. Or you can just go swimming in the pool. Whatever.

Our apartment is awesome! It's so nice to have our things out again. (We were living with some friends for a while. As great as it was, it's nice to have our own space with our own possessions.) It's amazing how much I missed having MY things. It's like we identify with our "stuff." While, to some, it might seem vain or materialistic, I DO identify with my stuff. The things I own and decorate my home with reflect a little (or a lot) of who I am. The living room and dining room are cozy and country-ish, with wild flowers on the table and comfy couches. The porch has a comfy swing and windchimes that just call to you, "Come, Sit, Relax." The guest room is black and white, with the old falling-apart bookshelf that I proudly fixed, refinished, and painted to match. There are several photos (some of my own) adorning the walls. That room is my creative outlet. It's who I am. Then, the highlight of the place: the bedroom and bathroom. They display my wild side, full of tropical landscapes and bright colors. Some of the pictures are places I've been and some are fantastic places existing only on canvas. It's amazing how "at home" you can feel when you have a place that you can decorate with "your stuff." It just makes it worth coming home to.