Wednesday, January 8, 2014

a short guide to knowing when to post a photo of your coffee

It seems that a lot of individuals are confused about when to post a photograph of their caffeinated  beverage on Instagram or Facebook. Because of this conundrum, I have developed a short guide to help you know when you should go ahead and upload that latte to the internet.

1) The coffee/latte/frappe/macchiato/capuccino/mocha/whatever has impressive or adorable foam art, like a panda or a kitten.
2) The beverage has been poisoned by the barista and you need documentation.
3) The beverage is in an unusual looking mug.*
4) You are having coffee with the president, a world leader, or some otherwise famous person.

If none of the above apply to your coffee drinking experience, then you should just drink your beverage and leave the rest of us out of it. 

*If you are drinking out of a mustache mug, then please do send me a picture. I love mustache mugs.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

7 Reasons to Never Leave Home

So I've been on Christmas break since December 20th, which means I've been trying to catch all the lazy moments possible, because when life returns to normal schedule on Monday, things will get insanely busy again.

I had a stretch there for a few days where I didn't even leave my house. It really caused me to think about my life and how great it is to just stay home all day. It didn't take much thinking to come up with the
7 Reasons to Never Leave Home:
1) Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime Instant video streaming. There are so many things to watch. I've seen like five spy movies in the past eight days. It's much more exciting than going to Winco to buy groceries.

2) Your couch is right there. Chances are you purchased a really crappy couch off of Craigslist for $30. But maybe you have the most delicious couch in the Pacific Northwest like I do, and people come from far and near just to come lay on it. If you have ever spent time on my couch, you know just how hard it is to leave it. Every time I think about getting up, it begs me to stay just a little bit longer.

3) Sweatpants. They are hands-down the most comfy pants you can wear. When you never leave home, you can wear them all the time and there is no one to judge you (except for maybe your roommates who have realized you haven't gotten properly dressed for three days).

4) No need to do your make up or style your hair. This saves on time, money, and effort. Instead of wasting time to look presentable to the general public, you can spend time reading Lemony Snicket's new book When Did You See Her Last? Or you know, you could read the Bible, God's holy word.

5) You stay warm and dry. No rain. No ice. Now, I do know a handful of tight-budgeted twenty somethings who try to save dollars by wearing five layers of clothing and two pairs of mittens instead of turning on the heat, and these individuals may prefer to be at work where there is a consistent temperature, but I keep my house at 70 degrees, which makes it very difficult to consider facing the cold. If you are one of these tight-budgeted twenty somethings with a cold house and you'd rather be warm and sitting on a comfy couch watching The Avengers or episodes of Downton Abbey, I can invite you over. Just don't expect me to brush my hair.

6) Internet. Say you wanted to be productive from home. The internet allows you to do so many work-related things. You can send emails, do research, compose documents, access data, etc. Say you didn't want to be productive. Again, the Internet's got you covered.

7) Save on gas. When you stay at home it means you are not driving your car and using up expensive and environment polluting non-renewable resources. This is helpful because you can use that extra money to pay for pizza delivery. You also lessen your chances of death, because you are not in a tin can on wheels that could be t-boned at any minute. It's a win-win.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

14 for 2014

2014 is right around the bend. I'm starting my 2014 goals today, because as Jon Acuff would say "January 1st is for suckers."

To Do in 2014:
1) Ask for help and stop believing I am an inconvenience.
2) Eat more vegetables.
3) Be more outgoing and less afraid.
4) Pray more.
5) Go to the gym for at least 5 hours a week.
6) Delegate more tasks.
7) Rest more often.
8) Listen to God better.
9) Get to work by 8:00am.
10) Read fewer Buzzfeed articles.
11) Write everyday, even if it's just 100 words.
12) Convince a man to fall in love with me (it's okay for you to chuckle at that one).
13) Journal at least twice a week.
14) Write a letter to my great-grandpa at least once a month.

 Remember, some beats none.
Action always beats intention.

What are your goals for 2014?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shutting yourself in during Christmas Break

You guys. Christmas break has been full of so much lazy. I am catching up on all my sleep from the past three months. After four days, I finally took a shower today. While washing my hair, I was thinking Is this what it feels like for contestants on Survivor once they leave the show? Because you wouldn't think scented shampoo could feel so nice.

I was going to go to work for a little bit today and then go to the gym after, but I was working on painting the ceramic nativity set I still haven't finished from 2012, and then time sort of got away from me. Once it became dark outside (at 4:30) I said, "Nope, not going!" My reasoning is that I am really saving gas, because for the past two days I have gone no where. I stepped out of my house once for like twenty seconds to take out the garbage.

Also, I finally discovered where I can watch the third season of Downton Abbey on-line for free, so I've been doing that. And I've also been doing things like organizing my living room and sticking my nose in my Christmas tree for a few minutes every evening just so I can feel the full nostalgia and magic of the season.

What have you been up to?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holidays are hard when you are single

The holidays are hard when you're single. You've been stuck at the kids table for 12 years too long. You're left dangling on the roof as you attempt to hang your own Christmas lights.You're mailing people Christmas cards of you and your rabbit wearing matching Santa hats.

This is how I cope:

1) Make up stories about your future boyfriend. You might say to yourself "I've been waiting a good long time, when is he gonna show up?" Your negative attitude immediately thinks your future  love is out spending cozy Christmas time with some other chick--that he's having a great time without you hauling another girl's Christmas tree to her house while you struggle to shove that five foot shrub in the back of your Toyota Corolla.

Change that story. He's not kissing some other girl under the mistletoe. He's working extra hours to save up for your dream house. Because when you come along, he wants to give you the best. He's wishing every girl were you, but they're not. He's spending Christmas with his parents and younger cousins. He's running a toy drive gathering Legos and stuffed animals for little kids in need. He's writing a Christmas card to his older brother serving in Afghanistan.

2) Don't watch any ABC Family Christmas movies, unless it's Holidays in Handcuffs. What you see on TV is fiction. People don't fall in love two days before Christmas. Nobody falls down at an ice-skating rink and gets helped up by a hunky stranger in a cable-knit sweater. A soldier is not going to follow the trails of your hand-crafted Christmas card, wander into your home town, and offer to help at your father's saw mill. 
This movie is a load of croc. Release by Hallmark, though, not ABC.

Haven't seen this one, but I can tell from the title it is full of lies.
3) Know that you are needed. This isn't even pretend. Someone else needs you this holiday season. We don't always get to choose who needs us. I mean, I wouldn't mind a six-foot-three, brown eyed, dimple faced man who NEEDED help wrapping presents for 150 underprivileged children at his non-profit, but sometimes we are most needed by the people we overlook. So go out and help somebody. It will make your heart happy.

4) Become the life of the party. Learn a few magic tricks. Dress up as an elf. Tell a good story. Don't let couples (or babies) run the show. I've been rehearsing an entire routine for this Christmas Eve at my aunt's house. I'm starting out with a few card tricks, will move into fire juggling, tell a made-up story of how I served on jury duty and had to decide the verdict for a drug cartel leader, and then I will probably end with a short dance number from the Nutcracker.

5) Drink a lot of wine or peppermint schnapps, unless you are a recovering alcoholic. I support sobriety. But if you want to drink a second/third glass, wear a fur hat, and try to get your ex-boyfriend's cousin to dance with you at a Christmas party, I won't stop you. Sometimes the sheer hilarity of our situations help us get through.

6) Give unsolicited advice to the people of Craigslist. Create an email account (something like Dr J or Ann Flanders) and then message away! Encourage those posting in "missed connections" to man up and talk to the Albany Taco Bell cashier, or to ask the girl with the heart tattoo on her ring finger if you can take her to lunch. Or visit the personal ads and offer spelling and grammatical corrections. Just find something to take your mind off not having anyone to cuddle up and watch Christmas movies with. Because, I mean, I have a rabbit, so I'm fine.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


He was a piece of fiction. Stories and ideas that never came true.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sending Hope in a GiveBackPack

I had an awesome opportunity to combine teaching and love letter writing last week. One unique organization, The World Needs More Love Letters, founded by my friend Hannah Brencher, partnered up with another organization, STATE bags for a mission to give U.S. kids living in impoverished communities some hope.
 I just so happened to be finishing up a unit on letter writing with my third, fourth, and fifth grade students. Then this perfect opportunity arose. I showed my students both the More Love Letters website and a video from the STATE bags website. After I told them that the letters they would be writing would end up in a GiveBackPack to be given to a kid having a rough time, they were all game.

The kids practiced their letter writing skills, and then I gave them some fun stationery to write their final copies on. One student--fittingly named Hope--turned out to be a natural. I almost teared up at all the encouraging words written by a nine year old. I told her she probably could have a career working with More Love Letters.

What I loved the most was that after all of our letters got put in their envelopes, we circled up as a class and prayed over the letters and the kids that would receive them. I would never get to do that part in public school. I was reminded how blessed I am to work in a Christian school where my faith does not have to fit within boundaries. What excited me more was the fact that ALL of the kids wanted to say a prayer. Not one, not two, but ALL.

It was really cool to see God evident in their lives and to see the kids doing something that mattered for God. I have no doubt that the children who receive the letters written by my students will be blessed and that God will answer the prayers that were said for them.

I think this project was one of the best things I've ever done as a teacher.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parking Lot Workout

It’s 5:33pm on a Wednesday night and I’m sitting in my car typing this in the Kroc Center’s dark parking lot. I was feeling really good about myself, because I had actually gotten my butt to the gym and planned to attend not one, but TWO fitness classes. I know, I know, call me a Spartan.

After last week when I emerged from my room after a two hour nap, I said to my roommate, “I am a terrible person. I was going to just come home for 20 minutes and then go to the gym. I slept instead.” Justine then replied with the wisdom of Solomon. “Maybe you shouldn’t come home first. Just go straight to the gym.”

Well snap. I know that. I just don’t want to do it. I like being at my house. When I am a mere 7 minute drive from it, I want to come home for twenty minutes. But this week I heeded Justine’s advice. Even though I get done teaching at noon, I stayed at school doing other things until five o’clock. Then I changed and went to the gym, which is where I am right now. Well, I’m in the parking lot, anyway.

I arrived ten minutes early to get a spot in the weights class. But after scanning my membership card and filling up my water bottle, I discovered that the class was as packed as Walmart on Black Friday. Not a single open space.  For a quick second I contemplated doing my own weight training in the equipment area, but I did not bring my iPod and exercising without music is almost like death. Also, let’s be honest. The reason I go to group fitness classes is because I lack the personal willpower to train on my own.

I still want to attend the group Zumba class at 6:30, so that is why I am killing time writing this in my car. While getting my laptop out of the trunk, I noticed the kangaroo costume still piled in my trunk since Halloween.  I contemplated putting it on because it is 42 degrees outside, but instead I left the marsupial suit where it was and just blasted the heat in my car for a while to warm it up.  So most of me is warm, but I still have icicle fingers because I have like the skinniest fingers in North America and it’s hard for them to stay warm. In case you want to buy me a ring, my size is 3 and ¾. Seriously, there are eight year old girls with fingers bigger than mine.

This is my best friend wearing my kangaroo suit on a hot day.
Ugh. It’s only 5:54. We still have some time. Today I was in a concerned conversation whereupon someone said, “I think she may be living in her car. I saw a lot of clothes and things in there.” The second thing that popped into my mind was I wonder if people think that about me. Because I’ve got loads of stuff in my car. It’s like a portable office without wifi.

Let me tell you what I have with me, just right now:
Two jackets, a sweater, a package of plastic cups in a re-usable grocery bag, a tub of stuff for Bible Club (story book, pictures, attendance clipboard, etc. etc. etc.), garbage from last night’s dinner, three crusty oatmeal bowls and spoons, an apple, chalk, a notebook, a kangaroo suit, 10 wrapped shoebox presents to mail for Operation Christmas Child, a bin of work stuff for children’s ministries, a bag of 100 eraser toppers, a deflated basketball that somewhat reflects my hopes and dreams, a book bag, mail, a fan from my geisha/Mulan costume, and I don’t know what else because it’s really dark in here. Up until 3:30 today I also had a portable baby crib in my trunk, but I finally took that out and put it in the church nursery where it belongs.

I usually take very good care of my possessions, but the interior and exterior of my car is not something I really strive to keep in perfect condition. The main reason for this is so no one tries to rob me/steal my car. It’s got two missing hubcaps from some misadventures I’ve had in the past, and I’ve also got multiple scratches on the paint job because of the time I taught in the ‘hood and parked my car outside till 8pm at night while slaving away in the classroom. There’s also the chipping paint that pretty much takes over the entire front bumper. The paint isn’t wrecked because I got in an accident, but I figured I might as well not fix it, because now people take one look at me and stay the hell away since they think  I must drive like a maniac.

Okay, I’ve turned on the heat three times now. Just for like four minutes each time, but it doesn’t stay heated for very long because it’s so freaking cold outside. If I did live in my car, I would need a subzero sleeping bag and like, 20 pounds of Hotties to shake up and keep me warm throughout the night. I’m almost there, though.  Just ten more minutes of waiting.

Actually, I think I will just go home.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Men are dumb sometimes, and so am I

I was reclining on my couch, staring at the ceiling fan, contemplating my single life (as I often do) when a thought popped into my mind. I wonder if any guy out there sits at home and thinks about me so often it sometimes brings him to tears. Then my other self*, the one who is blunt and practical, thinks Well if there is, he is an idiot. Because obviously he should just tell me. 
I pretty much believe that if you like someone, you should just straight up tell them. No more of this pining for years crap. But I get it. People have a hard time being brave, and saying "Hey, I like you," makes you feel like you want to throw up. And rejection is pretty darn miserable too. I'm telling you though, if you are interested in someone, you should quit wasting time and suck up the guts to say so. I have witnessed so many relationships that took years to begin, when all along the two people liked each other but weren't brave enough to do anything about it.  Be brave.

*Sometimes I have multiple personalities. Also, I do not have health insurance. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Maid Service

You probably didn’t know this, but this past summer I was a part-time housemaid for Riverside Lodge. What is this lodge, you ask? It’s mostly my parents’ vacation home that I never get to vacation in, on account of how it is rented out to people all summer long. It is so booked up that my mother (head housemaid) had to enlist my help for cleaning, because there is not enough time for her to do all the scrubbing and washing and sanitizing in between people checking out and people checking in. My mom also hired my 14 year old cousin, Morgan, as a housemaid.

You know how people might come to your house for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and your mom has you clean every nook and cranny, and the whole process takes about two days, because you want your relatives to think you are a clean and organized person, when in reality you actually have an entire room devoted to junk and don’t vacuum that often? Cleaning Riverside Lodge is like that, times three.

We have to vacuum under all the beds (who does that every week?), change the sheets on six beds, clean three bathrooms, vacuum all the floors, mop, clean the windows, dust everywhere, re-fill everything, count the DVDs to make sure nobody stole any, and the list goes on. I won’t bore you with more of it.

Cleaning Riverside Lodge is a lot like cleaning my childhood home. This is because at least 40% of the items in the lodge used to be at my old house. My grandma’s clock. The picture my great-grandma painted. The woven coaster set from 1989. The dining room table I used to eat at every night. The decorative birdcage and knickknacks my mother used to keep in the living room. The kitchen is the only place that is foreign to me. It has all brand new utensils, appliances, and dishes, and most of them are either red or black. I grew up with macaroni cheese yellow linoleum floors and a bright blue counter top, so the red and black make me feel like I am in somebody else’s kitchen.

Cleaning up after complete strangers is quite interesting. As a detective, I like to imagine what kind of people stayed in the rooms. One time when I was making the bunk beds, I discovered boogers on the blanket.  Snot-nosed children, no doubt.  On one occasion, the guests left so much toothpaste in the sink, you’d think a dentist had held a teeth brushing instructional workshop in there. Another time, I discovered that the last occupants had the major munchies. On the blankets I found evidence of Life cereal and Dorito chips. The orange cheese stain on the quilt just about threw my mother over the edge.
“Tell me, DO YOU eat chips in bed when you are staying at a stranger’s house?” my mom asked.
“No,” I replied. “But I might if I was in a hotel. In fact, I am certain I have gotten a chocolate bar melted into my sheets before. But I would never do that at someone’s house.”  

An interesting experience was the time we cleaned up after a family of Chinese guests. The first thing I discovered was 14 empty shoe boxes sitting on the front porch.  There was also an empty cardboard case that had claimed to hold two bottles of expensive sounding champagne. I deduced that the family must have purchased many athletic shoes at the Nike and Adidas outlets because they had children who were training for Olympic gold, and then they decided to celebrate a successful shopping trip in America with a few bottles of the bubbly. Besides the shoe boxes, I found some packaging with Chinese characters on it. Morgan and I inspected it as though we could gain a cultural experience from reading the label of a foreign medicine bottle.

While cleaning the kitchen, I had the most horrifying experience. I opened the microwave to wipe it out and discovered a bowl of cold, pink, smelly fish sitting inside. I immediately slammed the door shut and screamed. It had to have been in there for at least two days. Morgan came to my rescue. She bravely opened the door and removed the bowl.  She inspected it as if trying to figure out what the sauce recipe was made of. “Don’t just stare at it!” I yelled. The smell was wafting. “Throw it away!” I held the trash can up to her and she emptied the bowl into it. While she set out to rinse the bowl and wash it, I sprayed the microwave with disinfectant and tried not to perish from the toxic odor that filled my nostrils. Our best guess is that someone had started to make a meal and just plain forgot about it. Unless it is some sort of Chinese insult, leaving dead fish in someone’s microwave for them to find days later.

While there is the occasional horrifying experience, there are some good things about cleaning up after perfect strangers. For example, I always check the freezer for treats after I’ve finished the job. Two out of three times, the guests leave ice cream in there. I consider it my tip. Another time, Morgan and I went grocery shopping in the pantry. The last guests had stayed for a week, and they left a lot of food behind since they were from Hawaii and couldn’t take it with them on the plane. I scored two boxes of cereal, a half-full box of Cheese Nips, those really delicious Mauna Loa chocolate macadamia treats that people bring you after visiting Hawaii, and a package of Oreo cookies. They also left soda and wine. I don’t drink soda so I didn’t take any, but my mother took the wine. You may think I’m taking my chances by consuming a half-full box of Cheese Nips that strangers left behind, but you need to know that during the summer I was only earning ¼  my usual income, due to my main job ending. I took anything that was free.

My mom, Morgan, and I have to get all the cleaning done by 3:45 since check in is at four, but Morgan and I have motivation to get done earlier so that we can go in the river. I have been washing windows or scrubbing the barbecue grill or sweeping the deck when I’ve seen kayakers and rafters go down the river, and it just about kills me.  One day in the beginning of August it was really hot outside and I was washing the windows. I wanted to just sneak down the hill away from my supervisor and throw myself into the river to cool off. But then one time Morgan and I enjoyed an exciting ten minute float down the river and later spent at least an hour fighting our way back up stream, cutting our feet on the rocks and wandering through the brush like we were on an episode of Survivor. That’s a whole other story in itself.  

Cleaning Riverside Lodge so thoroughly inspired me to go home and vacuum the cushions on my couch  and do extreme cleaning to the Nth degree, but of course by the time I got home I was always so wiped that all I did was lounge on my back patio and sip a cold glass of water. Maybe I’ll clean before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why aren't you wearing pants?

These are all true phone conversations I have had with my sister in the course of a Friday evening. 

Her: “Do you want to go to Winco with me?”
Me: “Uh, no.”

Her: “You know the crossdresser on the corner by McDonald’s?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Her: “He got a new dress. It has sequins and sparkles. And there’s a slit that comes up the side.”
Me: “Are you telling me this because you want a dress like it?”
Her: “No.”

Her: “I’m coming up the driveway and I hafta pee! Unlock the door!”
Me: “Hang on, I don’t have any pants on.”
Her: “Why aren’t you wearing pants?”
Me: “Because it was hot.”

Her: “Do you want to do something tomorrow?”
Me: “Like what?”
Her: “You could come to the dump with me.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

10 Things I will miss about living alone

I've been living by myself since June, but I am getting some new roommates at the end of this month. This has caused me to contemplate life and make a list.

1) I will miss getting to walk around in my underwear. Lounging in my underwear. Cooking in my underwear. Cleaning in my underwear. Crafting in my underwear. But at least the weather is cooling down, so wearing pants isn't as terrible as it could be.

2) I will miss having an entire spare room dedicated to clothes. Have you ever wanted 15 feet of closet rod to hang your clothes from? I had that. But no more. One cannot live in luxury forever.

3) I will miss hogging all the kitchen space. It was really freeing to have an entire fridge to yourself, because I didn't have to cram everything onto one shelf. I didn't think I would enjoy so much fridge space (and cupboard shelf space), but now that I have to give it up I realize the joy it gave me.

4) Ditto the freezer space.

5) I will miss using the main bathroom. I hadn't used my house's main bathroom for over three years since that was my roommate's space, but this summer I had the chance to try it out. It felt so strange at first, but now I am used to it and fully enjoy using the tub to shave my legs.

6) I will miss listening to my music as loud as I want.

7) I will miss feeling oh so comfortable napping on my couch at any time of the day.

8) I will miss not feeling judged for watching dumb TV shows.

9) I will miss singing loudly and badly.

10)  I will miss not feeling guilty about leaving my clothes in the dryer for three days.
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