Sunday, March 30, 2008


Last Friday we went to Jimmy Mak's to hear Stephanie play.  She's recording a new album with Keith Shriner of Dahlia and they're working on a whole new sound. 

We got a great parking spot for downtown on a Friday night and as we approached the bar, I saw a guy wandering down the block with an open Mac, searching for wifi, which I thought only happened on TV commercials.  As we got closer, I said, "Tony!? What are you doing?"  Tony is Steph's bf and a fabulous musician.  Turned out he was trying to book a nice hotel for a stop on his next tour--but he gave up and followed us in.

Steph and Keith played together the first set, with him doing electronica beats and prerecorded backup vocals over Steph's solo playing.  It doesn't sound very exciting in print, but it was amazing.  And Keith was so cute, sitting here in front of his Mac, a skinny white guy with a little gangster knit cap with a brim, rocking back and forth, pushing buttons and adjusting levers.  I suspected, and later confirmed, that the vocals were being mixed in on the spot, which upped the cool factor by about fifty.

Steph kinda ruined their cool rock star image though when she shared the details of their recording environment. They record in the basement of Keith's house, which is pretty standard, but above them is a house full of children, wards of the daycare run by Keith's wife. So after laying down some really sexy track, they go upstairs and wait in a line of three year olds for the bathroom.  Ah the life of an artist.

It seems like it's getting to be tradition for me to get a little drunk when I go to JM's to hear Steph.  It's always preceded by a full day of working on my dead mom's house, which seems like as good an excuse to drink as any. 

The first time was six months ago, and I'd been working on sorting out the many boxes of stuff in the basement.  Jess, who drinks occasionally, ordered a margarita and when I started taking sips, suggested I get my own.  I was pretty cranky at that point, so I did, figuring it would mellow me out.

We had a large group and the waitresses had been rude to us from the moment we walked in, which didn't help my mood.  It took thirty minutes just to get my drink.  When it finally came, all eyes were on me while I sipped it slowly.  "Areyoubuzzedyet, Areyoubuzzedyet, Areyoubuzzedyet?" 

"No, I don't feel anything." I said.

But about halfway into my glass, my brain got fuzzy and my mood got much better.  Everything was suddenly hysterical for some reason.  I proceeded to become a textbook first time drunk, talking loudly, laughing hysterically, and announcing my condition to anyone who would listen. 

I immediately understood two things: A) Why I hadn't done this before and B) how people get very hooked on chasing the buzz.  It was a nice reprieve from my mood, but as a coping mechanism, I thought my usual brownies and ice cream was probably a more economical choice--and certainly kinder to my liver.

Though we'd ridden our bikes to the show, Jess threatened to make me ride home in the car with my sister.  I suggested we kill some time by walking (unsteadily) over to Cacao for drinking chocolate, which we did.  By the time we came back to our steeds, I had sobered up enough to ride and still beat Jess up the Interstate Hill.

So here we were back at the Mak after a day of contractor estimates and looking at carpet samples to replace the smoke stained mess in mom's bedroom.  Our friend John made a reservation and invited us to join his table, and J's friend T as well so we had a great table facing the stage just a few rows back.  We're pretty sure that John is a lesbian trapped in a man's body, cause he loves hanging out with us.  He's pretty fun to be around and it's always nice to meet cool guys that don't creep us out.

I decided twice a year was probably an OK drinking schedule so J and I ordered something called JB's Live which involved raspberry vodka.  It was sweet, which I like in a drink and we split it about 60/40.  Since Jess was driving I felt I should take one for the team and consume the majority of the alcohol.

My goal this time was to play cool once my buzz hit and I succeeded pretty well.  I did give a big "WHOO HOO!" when Steph forshadowed the first few chords of "Guilty" but was quick to assure everyone at the table that I would have done the same thing sober.

Everything was on the D.L. until about halfway through the second set. Stephanie was getting ready to play "Salty Blues" but she was sick of telling the story.

"I've told this story way too many times," she said.  "I'm sure there's someone here who can tell this story."

And before you could say 'impaired judgement,' my hand went up and I found myself volunteering. "I can tell it!" I announced boldly.

Steph was thrilled. "Kronda! Great, I trust you. Tell the story."

I stood up, thinking to myself, you are so drunk. This is a really bad idea.  But it was too late.  I tried to pull my thoughts into some sort of coherence.  Keep it simple.

"Well, Stephanie had this boyfriend, and they broke up," I started.

Steph laughed.  "That seems to be the beginning of every story," she deadpanned.

I went on. "And then she got a pocket phone call from the the guy, does everyone know what that is? It's when your phone dials accidentally 'cause it's in your pocket and it's really tight..." I saw heads nodding in recognition so I went on.  "So she listened in--but not that long--maybe 5-10 minutes tops, right Steph?"

The whole audience burst out laughing.  Oh yeah, I forgot that part was funny---

"And he was on a date!  And he was being really charming and saying all this stuff he never said to Steph." OK, wrap it up before things get out of hand...  "And the moral of the story is, don't piss off a song writer.  Hit it Steph."

I sat down.  The whole thing had probably taken just over a minute. I was quite pleased with myself for not having rambled and felt like I'd gotten away with smoking a cigarette* without my parents finding out, but I shouldn't push my luck.  People were applauding and Steph said I was hired to come to all her shows and set up songs.  And that she'd buy me a drink later, which I was sure I didn't need, as we had finished the first one and moved on to a margarita when I started to lose my buzz.

The song was lovely as usual, one of my favorites.  I sat quietly for the next few songs, keeping a low profile.  And then, in the silence between songs, Steph suddenly called me..


"What?" don'tpanic don'tpanic don'tpanic...

"I'm gonna go set up for the next song.  Tell the story."

Oh crap.  It wasn't so much that I was scraping the bottom of my margarita by this time as that I couldn't really remember the story that well.  She was headed for the piano, which I knew meant "Professor Sunshine" was next.  But my mind was a fuzzy drunken blank.  "Uh..I don't really remember..."

"You can do it, I'll help you," she said as she walked back and started adjusting a mic.

Clearly I couldn't let her down so I stood up. "'s Amelia right?" I started.


" there's this dancer named Amelia--except that's not her real name, Steph made it up.  And she disappeared." I knew I was missing something important.  "And um...this professor, he came to see her all the time but one night she didnt show up and never came back.  And this is Steph's version of events."

I sat down, feeling unsatisfied with my rendition, but everyone applauded even more than the last time.   Steph added what I'd forgotten--that the club was a 'gentleman's club' and the dancer nicknamed the guy "Sunshine," so everyone called him Professor Sunshine. It's not known if he was actually a professor or not.

"I'll do better when I'm sober!" I said, feeling bad.

"You did great," she assured me and started the song.

I wasn't called on again, much to my relief and my buzz was wearing off by the time the show ended, although I still felt pretty wobbly.  I had a ton of fun though and I can't wait for the new record to come out.

My designated driver got us safely home and I woke up the next morning, none the worse for wear.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


LiveJournal Tags: ,

When I was in elementary school and my sister and I got good grades, my parents would sometimes take us to Benihana for dinner as a reward.  And later, we'd go for birthdays and other special occasions.  Their fried rice is my favorite in the city--probably more to do with nostalgia than objectivity.  And how can you not love food that has been cooked in front of you while your chef throws shrimp tails into his hat and makes volcanoes out of onion rings? 

I've been thinking about Benihana a lot for the past month or two and since my grades were all A's, I decided to treat myself to a totally indulgent dinner out.  I went alone.  Jess doesn't generally like Chinese (or in this case Japanese) food, and they only have one vegetarian option anyway.  I lucked out and got a table with a family of five who didn't feel the need to talk to me. I read contentedly during most of the cooking.

Usually, I get the Benihana Delight with chicken and shrimp, but I really wanted scallops and life is short so I went for the seafood combo and didn't regret it.  Except when it was over and I wished I could come back again the next night.

When I was little the chef hats were color coded so you could tell who was still in training.  Green hats were OK chefs, but red hats were the best.  Now it seems everyone has red hats, so I'm not sure if the system is still in place.  Our chef had horrible aim and seemed to just toss the shrimp tails at people randomly.  But he did make a good volcano and more importantly, the food was scrumptious.  I always ask for a side of the ginger salad dressing as an extra dip.  It's also a good way to end up with extra you can take home, without paying $4.00 for a side.  I figured I was giving them enough money anyway. 

I probably should've stopped eating a lot sooner than I did, but it was so good, I just decided to see how much my belly could stretch.  I did manage to take home a little bit of leftover shrimp and veggies which were excellent the next day.

I expect I'll work very hard when school starts again on Monday.

Why We Don't Shop at Fred Meyer

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I don't think I'm going to learn this in yoga

I've been deeply pained that I couldn't afford to see the latest Cirque du Soliel show in Portland this past month. So I decided to sublimate my pain with Cirque videos from Netflix. So far, it's working pretty well. And in moments like the one pictured here, it's really nice to be able to rewind and freeze frame so I can tilt my head to the side and go "How?????"  What I love about Cirque is how they think up really hard things and then say, "Now what would be impossible?  And then do that.  Enjoy the moving version of this balancing act below.

Monday, March 24, 2008



My sister posted this on Facebook and yes, that is all my real hair. What she didn't say is that it was Halloween and I was dressed as Diana Ross, which I think mitigates the 80's-ness of it all. I normally didn't let it run around off-leash like this. I had too many monkey bars to climb.

And of course, make up is out of the question.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We're Aunties!


Late Monday night J and I went to the airport to welcome home our friends Lisa and Spike and their newly adopted bundle of joy (or poop, depending on the moment :), Essex.  He is even cuter than pictures can accurately display, and from all reports, a pretty mellow baby.

It was good we brought both cars, because they were loaded with four suitcases, carry-ons, stroller and car seat, plus two very tired new parents.  Then it was off to their friend's house to pick up the car and their very large dog, Otis.  The friends have two dogs of their own, and everyone on two legs or four was very excited with all the activity.  Jess and I were the only night people in the group, so we were the only ones not up past our bedtime.

After introductions and cooing, we loaded everyone back up and dropped them off home, where they could get some much needed rest.

As we drove home on the nearly empty roads, we pulled up to a red light a few blocks from home.  I gave Jess the universal 'roll down your window sign.'  She did.

"Pardon me, would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?" I said. She laughed, and the light turned green.  I love doing that.  Once when I was twelve or so, I did it to a guy sitting next to us in a truck while my mom was driving.  She was horrified, to say the least, which only made it funnier to me.

Today Jess went over at 3:00 to help organize all the baby stuff.  I became extra motivated and finished my homework and last final in time to pedal over and join them for an hour.  Essex was a bit fussy after eating--he loves the eating and doesn't so much like the stopping of the eating.  Lisa cuddled and bounced and cooed, but to no avail.  The only thing that would calm him down was a baby Vangogh video that his former caretakers let him watch all the time.  It was chilling the way he instantly calmed down the moment bright shiny objects appeared on screen.

Six months is just a little too young to be hooked on TV already!  I have no doubts that a healthy direction towards self amusement is already underway. 

Once, when I was in highschool, I figured out that I watched, on average, seven hours of TV PER DAY.  And yet, I also got good grades, read everything I could get my hands on and rode my bike all over town from the time I was twelve.  I only wish I had that much time on my hands now.

2008 03 19_Essex homecoming_0001.JPGAfter some play time, more fussing started, so we took a walk around the block.  Essex loves anything that involves movement, so the stroller is one of his favorite things.  Lisa promised to get a Burley trailer so we can come by and pull him around the neighborhood and I can't wait.  If he thinks the stroller is good, he's going to love the trailer.

We had only reached the corner, when we encountered several neighbors and their kids out in front of their house.  Only a few seconds went by before the woman, who turned out to be Desiree, said, "Oh I see you guys all the time at work."

I was thinking, what do you mean, I don't even have a job, when she revealed that she works at REI.  Busted again.  I got used to a certain amount of retail fame from years of working in customer service, but getting recognized for being a patron of a large chain is a first.

After our short walk, we left L & E to entertain the next person in what's sure to be a stream of visitors this week.

I'm looking forward to getting to know little Essex better.

I rode home, though I could have copped out and put my bike in the car. Instead I raced Jess up Williams and held my own until Killingsworth, where we both ended up at a red light.  Her window rolled down.

"Got any Grey Poupon?" she asked.

The light turned and so did she. I raced home, but didn't beat her or the rain which started pelting me just after we parted ways.  My legs got pretty soaked, but hey, that's what wool is for.

It was nice to get some baby time and have a somewhat relaxing evening.  Tomorrow I start on my last project, which is really a make up of an incomplete.  If not for that, I'd be on spring break right now, but I'm working hard to forget that fact, and focus on this last bit. 

Friday, I'll celebrate with a Stephanie Schneiderman show at Jimmy Maks.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Best Church Ever or How to Have Fun Without a Keg


We hosted the last Church of Waffles of the season this morning and it just so happened that we saved the best for last. All credit goes to our fabulous friends who are so much fun to be around that all we have to do is put them in a room together and keep the carbs flowing and the fun blossoms like spring flowers.

We love to see fresh faces at COW, and today we were happy to welcome three new friend/girlfriends of friends, Kim, B and Alicia. Ankesh is one of my Live Journal buddies and he showed up (on his birthday, no less) to hang with us. We met at an LJ meet-up years ago and have been reading each other ever since. He seemed to have fun despite initial worries about being the only boy (there was one more to keep him company, but I'm not sure they ever even talked).

We met John last fall at the Voices For Silent Disasters concerts and we've been exchanging lots of email lately. I love hanging out with him because we like a lot of the same things, mainly, bikes, lesbians and movies, not necessarily in that order. He's one of those guys who can say things that would get other guys in trouble, but with him, I just laugh. I'm pretty sure John is probably a lesbian trapped in a man's body, like that guy from first season L-Word. (How else can you explain a guy coming to a party full of lesbians and leaving with a phone number?) John, you can come back to our house anytime. Uh, anytime we're having a party that is.

Jess's friend T won the award for 'over-achieving potluck guest' with her homemade scones that she brought over ready to be baked on a Pampered Chef baking sheet. She's also been known to bring us homemade chocolate chip cookies which Jess says she likes better than mine. Fortunately my love of a fresh scone trumps baking insecurity every time.

I was thrilled that my friend Lauren showed up, since I hadn't seen her in almost a year. And there's always one or two couples that have to be dragged out of bed via text message threats and cajoling, but then become the life of the party when they finally show up. Names are withheld to protect the sexy.

Sprinkle in a dash of Rodrigo y Gabriela for background music and you have yourself a pretty fine morning.

I was a bit more of a control freak about waffle iron access this morning so we didn't have any major disasters like last time. Despite the added workload, I was pretty relaxed and enjoyed myself immensely, watching my friends meet each other, share hugs and stories and laughter. What can I say, I love bringing the people together, especially when the people are so darn cool.

There was only a brief period when the noise level went to bar levels and I could see Jess wincing--but it quieted back down to tolerable levels. I'm definitely the extrovert of the family, and I'm lucky I have a sweetie who's willing to indulge my fondness for entertaining.

The whole shindig lasted a little over three hours. John was one of the last to leave and noted to Jess, "Wow, your house is about to go from completely full to totally quiet."

"That's totally fine with her," I told him, and we all laughed.

The nice thing about church is the easy clean up, especially since some nice house elves had come through and put everything away and loaded the dish washer! Within 30 minutes, the house was cleaner than before we started and all furniture was returned to it's proper place, leaving us most of the day to chill out and enjoy the silence, with the memories of laughter echoing in the halls.

You can enjoy the slide show of waffle-based fun below, but I highly recommend you check them out on my Flickr page (with captions & notes).

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Minding My Own Business

Last night, J & I went to the Bike Portland Social hour at Roots Brewing. I decided I wanted more RAM for my Mac and Macforce is just a few blocks from the bar. Dual purpose/double occupancy always makes me feel better about driving. And luckily, we weren't stoned for arriving at the bike party by car.

When the noise level exceeded tolerance, we headed up to Hoda's Mediterranean restaurant on 34th & Belmont, where a helpful, familiar-looking woman helped me park the car (we were deciding whether we had enough clearance from the driveway--she thought we did. It was very SE PDX).

I hadn't been to Hoda's since last year after the Pedalpalooza Parade, where I had the misfortune to discover that I had contracted food poisoning (NOT from Hoda's--Sushiland on Weidler if you care to avoid it). Jess ate and I spent the whole time in the bathroom being turned inside out like a shirt. It was good to go back and have a more positive experience.

I was facing away from the door so Jess reported any interesting people watching opportunities. There was a young interracial couple with the cutest little boy (has anyone ever seen an ugly interracial baby?). They were seated behind us and then a few minutes later, Jess said, "That women is smoking outside the door. Do you want to go have a chat with her?"

I chuckled, thinking she was just referring to a random person creating a smoke gauntlet for us to run through when we left the restaurant, but in fact she was talking about the mother of the little boy. That really did make me want to go talk to her. I probably would've said something like, "I guess you don't want to live to see your kid's 30th birthday huh?" I resisted, knowing how obnoxious it would sound and that there was a .00000001% chance of doing any good and a 99.999999999% chance of pissing her off.

Just one more of the side effects of being half-orphaned--the sudden urge to confront almost every smoker I see and make them understand the real consequences of their deeply ill-advised choice.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My New Bike

I went and test road some more bikes this week but this is the one I really had my eye on. It's what all the cool kids (AKA bike shop employees are riding). That's good enough for me. Now that spring is around the corner, I'm itching to hit the trails. I almost got one this week, but I'm going to wait for the next sale, which should be sometime in April. Guess I better do my taxes...

Down the--Oh Crap I Already Used That One

We're in our home office, which still looks like a baby room because there hasn't really been time for decorating in the past year. Jess is writing in her blog, which officially makes us hopelessly disgusting. I swear, five years ago, I couldn't have stood to be around us. But now I think we're the cutest thing ever. And apparently so does John Francis, but that's another story.

I had a dream about my friend Adrienne, so I sent her an email, and she sent me an invitation to the play she is doing right now with Artist Reperatory Theatre, called Rabbit Hole.

The play is about a family dealing with grief from the unexpected death of a child. I don't know if it's in spite of or because of the subject, but I really enjoyed it. I'm sure a big part of that is because it has plenty of funny moments as well. And also because it's superbly written. The playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, really gets it. And the actors made it feel more like peeping into someone's kitchen window than watching a play.

The hardest part about watching was really all the sweets they eat. Every five minutes, they're eating cake, or lemon bars, or creme caramel something. I wanted some bad. I even texted Adrienne during intermission to inquire about what happens to the left-overs, but she said it was a free for all--the cake was really good tonight. I'm sure for the actors it gets old, but watching, I just wanted to poach the leftovers out of the fridge when it was all over. But Adrienne confirmed that she and cake will probably part ways forever when this is all over.

Rabbit Hole runs until March 23rd and there's half price coupons in the Chinook Book if you happen to own one. I highly recommend it.

In other news, Jess is continuing the healing process. She started physical therapy today and they expect her to make quick progress. She's out of her brace a lot, doing exercises, and using her hand as much as possible without too much pain or strain. But most exciting to me is that the dishes have been washed twice now without my assistance. Oh it's the little things that bring so much joy. When she gets back on her bike (probably another month), there will be serious celebrating. And pedaling.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

Stranger #74 Craig
Originally uploaded by i5prof

I got a cryptic message that said someone had found five of my social networks using Spokeo. I had never heard of it before so of course I went to take a look-see. It's a social network aggregator that finds all the public Internet content of anyone in your address book.

Talk about a TIME SUCK!

Of course I joined.

Although I can't seem to help a propensity for public navel gazing, most of my friends do not suffer the same affliction--which makes it very hard to stay in touch. Spokeo promised me new and amazing information about where the lurkers in my life are hanging out on line.

So far I've been able to dip into it in quick spurts, like a bag of Frittos that you force into a friend's hands to hide from you after a few chips. That way I get to look forward to new surprises every day.

Like the photo, taken by the director of my educational teen theater group from high school, seen above.

It turns out she's quite the photographer and she's participating in a project called 100 Strangers. Go read about it and then go check out her 100 Strangers Flickr set. Totally mesmerizing.

Hey, you had a few hours to kill, right?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to Have a Weekend

I tried this new thing all the cool kids are doing this past weekend: I had some fun.

Sure I had to stay up till 4:30am Saturday morning to finish enough homework to justify it, but it was worth it. I think it's the first weekend I've had all term that I wasn't super stressed out about finishing something.

It wasn't easy to get out of work mode, but I managed.


Slept until noonish and made Challah French toast for breakfast. Later we met up with Jess's friends T & L to help them with their bike shopping. We met at River City to start. It was a MADHOUSE. I haven't seen it like that since last summer. Turns out they're having a spring sale and it was a Saturday with pretty nice weather. Do the math.

While T & L tried out a few Specialized Globes, I took another spin on the Cannondale Rush mountain bike. I tried this bike out a few weeks ago when I test rode a bunch of stuff. I thought I had my heart set on a Specialized, but those all felt weird and this bike fit the best. Not to mention a large percentage of RC employees own and race this bike. That's a pretty big endorsement, considering that most of them get new bikes every year. Our sales guy was going on his third year with the Rush. The big question is how I'm going to fit another bike into our garage, especially in it's current state of disarray...

From there we went to Urban Grind for caffenation before moving on to REI, where we had one of the most painful shopping experiences I've ever had. I had someone paged to help us (REI is also having a sale, go figure) and he promptly helped someone else ahead of us. Another 10 minutes of waiting got us another employee, who didn't listen, was sort of rude and not very helpful. Then he deserted us and in his stead, brought over a woman who was just dumb. I had to ask the same question about six times and I did more to help them try out the bikes than she did.

Before we left, I used my dividend refund and a coupon to get the last winter item on my list (smartwool base layer shirt) and some new hiking pants.

We decompressed from insane shopping world with a short hike on the Macleay trail in Forest park. I really should go up there more often. Maybe I'll do that in my spare time between 2-4am.


We stayed up late (again) and slept late (again). A game of phone tag with Ru ended in the mid afternoon with confirmed plans for dinner at Laughing Planet later. Then she made fun of us for still being inside on such a gorgeous day.

So I prodded us into going for a walk. I even wore 'summer' clothes, in the form of capris pants and sandals. It was plenty warm when we left, and we wandered south and east towards our friend Rox's house. She and her gf J were in Sunday chill mode and we ended up visiting with them for several hours. R loaned us her car to go to dinner so we could stay longer and come back for J's fire spinning later that night in the backyard. Jess and I both took pictures but as usual, she got the money shot:


That one is from her new camera on Fireworks mode. My camera doesn't have that feature, but nightscene worked some pretty cool magic as well:


I have some video as well, which I'm sure I'll upload to Youtube--in my spare time between (say it with me now) 2 and 4am.

It was nice having some guilt-free time off and now it's back to the books for one last push.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cycle Seen

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Cycle Seen is an exhibition celebrating the diverse and dynamic culture of cycling/cyclists in Portland, Oregon. The exhibition will take place in June 2008, throughout metro Portland. Some Cycle Seen events such as rides to gallery locations will occur during Pedal Palooza, Portland’s bike fun festival.

Cycle Seen is currently seeking submissions for a juried exhibition. Portland area Photographers and Artists are invited to submit up to 10 images for consideration. We are interested in showcasing work that addresses the theme of Portland’s diverse bike culture. Work in all two-dimensional media is eligible for consideration.

I got invited to this from a Flickr friend several weeks ago, but of course, I didn't get my submissions in until tonight, 30 minutes before deadline to be exact. Jess sent some photos in too--she takes excellent photos. I've just spent some time perusing through most of the submissions and if you like bikes, Portland or both, it's definitely a fun way to kill some time.

Check it out here.

Friday, March 07, 2008


All I wanted, was to find this link, so I could put it into an email. But the link was posted by my sister on Facebook. So I logged on to Facebook. But then I had to read the mini-feed. I saw a link for Twitterfeed, which takes your tweets and updates your Facebook status with them. I've been meaning to try it so I subscribed, which meant going over to the Twitter page to remember my password (turns out I didn't need it anyway).

What was I doing? Oh yeah, I need to send that email. Switch back over to Gmail. Remember why I opened Facebook in the first place, but now 20 minutes have gone by in which no productivity has been seen or heard of.

And that is why the Internet is EVIL.

What? No, I'm not blogging to procrastinate, why do you ask? Excuse me, I have to get back to work.

Posted from XP on Mac


I feel like this is becoming the dead mom blog so I'm going to ramble on about some other stuff for a while. I will say, the house is finally empty, but things got much worse before they got better.

I'm still in school. I realize what a glorious luxury it is not to have to work while I'm in school full time. Thanks Ford! I really really hope to continue that trend for the rest of my school career. Mostly my days are filled with homework right now, trying to finish up projects for the end of the term. Today was Java, tomorrow is PHP and CSS. If you followed that last sentence, then you are probably somewhat geeky.

I'm working becoming more geeky but it's slow going. I finally installed Ubuntu Linux as an extra OS on my Mac so I could see what all the fuss is about. I used VMWare Fusion, which I originally got so I could defile my Mac with a Windows installation. It's a necessary evil for school purposes and truth-be-told, it's not Windows I mind, so much as the viruses and crashes that seem to come with it. But it's been fine so far.

I haven't had much time to monkey around with the Linux, but I noticed that the mouse functions weren't what they could be. I needed to install VMWare tools to get more seamless functionality but the graphical installer wasn't working. So I successfully used my root user privileges in the command terminal and installed it that way. Go me. So now I'm posting this from Firefox in Ubuntu.

All my t's and i's are just about crossed and dotted for my transfer to AIP next fall. I'm really looking forward to my last term at PCC. I designed my schedule with an eye for classes that will definitely transfer over to my new (very expensive) school and as a result, my schedule is structured to stretch my brain (and body) in every possible direction:

Drawing: Although I will eventually focus on programming, I have been adamant that I wanted a program where I could learn design principles as well. Hence the art school. Everyone takes drawing and color theory. At this point in my life, I can draw a stick figure and that's about it. I'm both excited and nervous about this class.

Math: My math requirements are sufficient for the two-year plan I started out with, but for a bachelor's, there's a little more math in my future. I had a choice of three different focuses: A) Liberal Arts, B) Business/management/life/social science or C) hardcore science/engineering. I'm not sure how you skew math in those different directions, but I chose B as soon as I saw the name of my old math teacher from last year in front of it. I like his teaching style and he wrote me an awesome recommendation letter for my Ford scholarship. Plus he's totally into bikes, so we were always talking about our steeds after class. He came to a Dirty Martini show at happy hour when class was over and was a witness to my first drunken binge--but that's another story. Math will be hard, but cool.

Since it's my last hurrah, I decided to totally indulge, so my third class is Creative Writing Nonfiction. Can you say, 'Excuse to blog?"

Last but certainly not least, I signed up for a yoga class, three times a week. I've only been talking about taking yoga for the last 15 years, so now I'm taking the plunge. My new massage therapist forbade me to stand on my head and ruin all her hard work on my neck.

See? Mind and body. Since I'm not taking any programming or hard core geekery this term, that means I can take all my classes at the Cascade campus 15 minutes from home. My schedule is 9-2 MWF, and 2-5 TH which means I'll have to get off my butt and ride my bike to school every day. I'm sure that will do wonders for my mental health.

In other news, I have an actual paid writing gig for a new magazine all about the Portland bike scene. I never really thought about it, but it is kind of ridiculous that we are widely considered to be the best cycling city in the U.S. but we don't have our own magazine. My friend Curt aims to fill the gap. I ran into him last fall while working a rest stop on the Bike to the Future ride. I met Curt a few years ago when I was still on a long term mission to get mom a bike. He was working at River City Bikes and he was extremely helpful and nice to us. Mom actually put a down payment on a Specialized Sirrus, but then changed her mind. Stubborn. It was another two years before I forced her into buying a bike, which she took one ride on before things went downhill (and there we go down the forbidden path again...)

Anyway...of course I mentioned that I was a writer so Curt promptly offered me the Women on Bikes monthly column. The first issue will be out in April, check your local bike shops.

Jess and I are having a hard time getting to bed before 2am these days, what with her out of work because of her wrist and me not having any classes before 1pm. She has become quite the social butterfly, and is always off on some date or another with her friends, since all I do is read and mumble unintelligible things about objects and methods. Her old camera died (RIP Casio) and the new one arrived today and she's been obsessing about photo organizing programs, and picture hosting for the last several days. She even started her own blog, which you should add to your feed reader immediately. Her new camera makes movies with sounds and she's busy learning to edit with her Movie Maker program and if I hear myself say, "Hi movie watching people" one more time, I'm going to pull out what's left of my hair, but since I've been the one behind the camera till now, I guess I'll just suck it up.

OK, I'm going to stop typing now and go to bed, despite the fact that I just discovered the built in games in Linux, one of which is Tetris. I *really* did not need to know that.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hard Day's Work

I've spent most of this week working on my mom's house. It's been a series of fits and starts in terms of sorting through a lifetime's worth of stuff. I've been fortunate to have lots of willing helpers along the way, but it's still a sucky task.

For a long time I couldn't visit without having a breakdown. After this happened on a simple trip to grab a shovel out of the shed, I boycotted the house for several months. My friend and old neighbor was kind enough to mow the out of control grass and keep an eye on it.

Of course, time marches on, and we can't really afford to have the house sit vacant forever, so this past month I've been formulating a strategy for getting the rest of the stuff out.

When Jess gets the whiff of a hint that I'm working on something, she will usually start researching and sending me information. I love her for this, even as I often find it annoying, because it brings up completely irrational feelings of inadequacy--but I can't deny that she is a huge help in making things happen. Even when mom was sick, and I was spending almost as much time at her house as ours, Jess would quietly request that maybe we could think about getting X house project done in the next few weeks--we had just moved after all--and I would somehow find the time and energy and life at home remained somewhat normal. And that's why she wears the BGOTP crown.

Jess also found Nora and after a bit more stalling, I finally called and she agreed to come look at the house. Nora was completely unfazed by the piles of furniture, boxes and dust that have been overwhelming me for months. She thought it wouldn't even take a full day to get the job done, and she quoted me a price that was more than fair.

With a third neutral party involved, I really had to start following through. I called Oregon Community Warehouse and made an appointment to have them pick up a donation of furniture and kitchen items. Then came the hard part. I didn't want to be slowing Nora down by trying to sort through papers, pictures and sentimental items while she worked.

I went over on Tuesday and spent three hours boxing up things I either knew I should keep or would need to go through later. I was simultaneously amused and annoyed at how much stuff mom saved. Among other things, I found two envelopes of baby teeth, many pages of elementary school homework from me and Traci, entire boxes of loose pictures, newspaper clippings and the invitation to my great grandparents wedding anniversary party. I'm sure I'm going to enjoy going through it at leisure sometime, now that it's not taking up space in the house.

Thursday came and Nora showed up promptly at 9:00am. Her basic task was to go through everything in the house and sort into piles to be donated, recycled or trashed. She was a whirlwind and mostly I just carried furniture into the living room for pick up the next day and made runs back and forth to the recycling center and Goodwill. On my first trip, there was a field trip of school children touring the recycling center and I had another 'I love Portland' moment.

I had thought about using my new Zipcar membership to get a pick up truck, but by the time I made up my mind, none were available. So Jess came over and helped ferry loads of stuff to Goodwill.

In six hours, the worst was over and I let Nora go with a bonus that wasn't enough and free lunch. It's definitely the best money I've spent all year.

I put the broken stove on craigslist and met someone this morning to pick it up and took the rest of the recycling away. I'm one dump run away from having an empty house. It's kind of strange, but seeing the house filthy is actually more depressing than seeing it empty. I think I will feel much better when it's cleaned with a new stove and carpeting (the smoking, in addition to taking her life, ruined the carpet).

Till then, I keep this picture up on the wall, just so it still feels a little like home.