Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oh god, oh god.

First day of school tomorrow.

I don't think I will never stop getting nervous the night before the first day. But I think that's a good thing - maybe it means that I still care enough about doing my job. (I do! I'm really going to try and keep my crap together this year.) I think that, when I stop feeling anything, it will mean that I should be looking for a new job.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 29: Hopes, Dreams, and Plans for the next 365 days

So, by August 24, 2011:

- Lose at least 30 pounds, if not the full 50
- Pass all my WFTDA skills
- Find a home for the Mizfitz to skate in (that's my hope for the whole team, not myself personally)

- Skate in a bout!
- Find a job in Portland and move?

- Attend my 10 year high school reunion
- Watch my officers graduate *sniffles*
- Celebrate Jolie's 2nd birthday

Best kids ever! They make everything worth it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 28: What's in my handbag/purse

Literally, right now, there's nothing in my purse, because most of the time, I grab my wallet and carry it in my pocket or in my hands, and my phone/keys are usually in my pockets. But, assuming I had no pockets, and I was going somewhere more important than just Target:

Wallet - yes, it matches my purse.


Philosophy's Be Somebody lotion - but since they only sell big bottles, I had to put some of it into a travel-sized bottle in order to be able to carry it around with me. I love the way it smells

Fresh Sugar lip balm - AWESOME stuff

Keys - that's right, I drive a Toyota. My key fob, though, also has a button for my hatch.

Canon Powershot SX120 - you never know when a photo op will present itself, especially with Jolie around
But like I said, most of the time, I roll with just my wallet, keys, and phone, and everything else stays home. I travel light because most of the time, I am carrying Jolie AND her diaper bag around with me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 27: My Worst Habit

No surprise here - I'm an emotional spender. Actually, I'm an emotional eater too. (And there have been lots of studies linking overeating with over-spending.) My upbringing is that deadly combination of privileged, upper-middle-class self-entitlement and Asian family party feasts! Unfortunately, I am a lowly teacher, and high blood pressure and diabetes run in my family. So I'm fat and poor.

I know I need to make changes in my lifestyle, but it's SO hard for me. You can't JUST STOP. It doesn't work that way. It's like trying not to scratch an itch.

Official skater photos!

I have to pick one of these for the website. I think I will do the second one, which is the same one that's currently my FB profile picture.

Major props to Crasharella, who was the photographer. She actually made me look gorgeous!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 26: Your week in great detail

I don't think I can be as detailed about this as I was about my day. I'm going to have to look at my calendar and see what I did.

What I did this week:

Monday and Tuesday were my first days back at school, but not even in an official paid capacity - I am an assistant coordinator for our school's Link Crew program. Link Crew is a national program designed by The Boomerang Project, in which incoming freshmen are "linked" in groups to an upperclassman Link Leader - it's kind of like a peer mentoring thing. The point is that if the freshmen all have SOMEONE who has been through what they're about to go through, they will be better able to adjust to life at the high school level. The BFD for Link Crew is Freshman Orientation, which has a component that is completely student-led - each Link Leader takes his/her group of freshmen to a classroom ALL BY THEMSELVES and leads them through various icebreakers and thoughtful activities, and there is definitely a set process and kind of a script for how these activities are presented.

Anyway, my job is to help train these kids. Yes, it takes a lot of work - you can't just stick 12 freshmen in a room with a junior or senior without any preparation. So we had two days of training, 8am-1pm, and it's all VERY high energy, high enthusiasm sort of stuff. We had about 90 Link Leaders signed up this year, so imagine trying to teach to a room full of 90 high school juniors and seniors all by yourself, and you're trying to teach THEM how to lead discussions with freshmen and deal with possible negative behavior and all that stuff. So I'm doing lots of LOUD talking (which I don't usually do - I'm a quiet person) and climbing on the table and "If you can hear me, clap once!" sort of things. It makes me sweaty and tired.

And then on Monday night I had practice, so I was totally wiped. BUT... not too wiped to stay up late watching Troll 2 with Jimmy. OH MY GOD. It is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO bad, but SOOOOOOOOOOO awesome. It's badly acted, badly written, badly directed... I think it has the lowest rating on IMDB. But I totally loved it - it just totally won me over.

Tuesday, after Link training, I went mattress shopping, and ended up getting a Cal King Simmons Beautyrest. (Firm, please!) I've never had a bed that big, and I was excited to have space to stretch out instead of sleeping at the verrrry edge of the mattress. It arrived on Wednesday, and I was so excited to plop Jolie down on it and let her crawl around.

Wednesday's practice began with a photo shoot! Crasharella, one of our skaters, is a photographer, so she offered to take our official skater photos for the website. I was super psyched. Okay, I admit it, I'm vain - hello, I have a blog where I take pictures of myself in makeup? I was excited to have some official derby photos. I really wanted to have something to show for my skating efforts - we're not bouting yet or officially skating publicly (not counting the fact that we do in fact skate in public, at a public park), so having a professional photo taken as a derby girl was extra fun for me :) Crash posted them, like, immediately after practice, and Facebook was all abuzz afterwards as we checked out each other's photos.

Thursday, you've already heard about :)

Today was Freshman Orientation. I had to be on campus by 7am, and I did not have time to get breakfast, so I went most of the day without getting food. I'm just the assistant coordinator, so I don't lead the assembly - instead I'm in charge of taking care of the stragglers, the late-comers, making sure things run smoothly so Joanna can focus on leading the assembly and doing all the other big stuff. It was interesting to see the freshmen come through - a lot of them do NOT look like freshmen at all! I saw some really big guys come in! A lot of them looked like they DID NOT want to try anything or do anything silly or energetic, but I guess you can expect that from 14 year old boys. I was tasked with walking around campus to check on all the small student-led group activities, so more sweating. I think Orientation went pretty well, and I'm really going to miss the senior Link Leaders - they're all really good kids.

Afterwards, I came home, had lunch, took a short nap, and then watched the episode of True Blood that I'd missed earlier in the week. Then Jolie needed to be fed, and we played around for a while until I drove her to my parents' house to spend the night. I just spent an hour and a half at Borders trying to find a book I wanted to read (I'm in the mood for some intelligent, cute, romantic chick lit, but I just didn't have the patience for anything I found), so instead I bought the new Rolling Stone, the new Bust, and the new Giants magazine. I picked up some iced coffee and cinnamon buns, and here we are!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 25: My day, in great detail

I'll try my best! I'm getting old, my memory is not as good as it used to be.

Got up at 6:30am. Took a shower. Wanted to wear my new derby shirts that I made, but the letters need to be ironed down some more (peeling at the corners), so that was out. Made a bottle for Jolie - we snuggle together in the morning while she has her bottle, so it's nice lovely quiet time. Occasionally she offers me her bottle, which I pretend to drink and she laughs at me when I make exaggerated smacking-my-lips sounds. Then she threw a crying tantrum when I had to put her back in her crib so I could leave to go to school. (As soon as I leave the room, she pretty much stops crying. She went right back to sleep.)

Got to school by about 8am. Supervising at senior registration - we are selling senior class sweatshirts and senior packages (the package includes tickets to Grad Nite at Magic Mountain and to our senior picnic, as well as a senior class t-shirt). Stood around in the sun until 11:30, when we finally got to leave. I think my face has gotten tanner, if possible.

Went home. Picked up lunch at Erik's on the way - I had a Thai chicken wrap and Jimmy got a Marrakech Express with a cup of chili. We split a strawberry shortcake. Jolie crawled all over the couch behind me while I tried to eat. She likes to play with the picture frames on the table. She's a total wiggleworm! I finally sat her on my lap, and gave her a couple bites of strawberry and of shortcake (which I put Cool Whip all over). Of course she loved that.

I put her down for her nap (crying, again!) and I was feeling pretty tired as well. We just got a new mattress yesterday, so I loooooooooove it. Both Jimmy and I ended up taking a nap. I got up again around 4 and packed up my stuff to go to practice. I had to drop Jolie off at my parents' house first, so I had to go pretty early.

My dad lets me drive his Prius to Morgan Hill because it saves me gas and because I get to drive in the carpool lane, because he has the stickers. I'm glad of this, because I don't have time to go fill my own gas tank right now. It usually takes me close to an hour to get to practice and I like to get there early enough to get a close parking space to the court and because I like to gear up leisurely and catch up with the girls, instead of throwing everything on and just jumping out there. I like to have time to settle down. Also, my shoelace on my right skate got torn up again yesterday, and I needed to re-lace it.

On the way there, "November Rain" comes on the radio, and it really is just so awesome.

I ended up getting there in record time (traffic wasn't nearly as horrible as normal today AND I got to be in the carpool lane), so a bunch of us sat around chatting about various things while other girls arrived and we all geared up. It's extra hot out, and we're all feeling pretty beat up from endurance night yesterday, and then Terribelle (as in, Terribelle Demise) tells us that we're doing MORE endurance! I wait until the last minute to finally get up off my butt and do warmup laps. My legs feel like spaghetti, and I feel a blister forming on the inside front of my foot because yesterday I skated with (footed) tights under my socks, and the friction from the tights against the socks was bad for my feet. So today, everytime I pushed off on my right foot, it hurt. It still hurts right now.

After warmups and stretching, we practice t-stops and plow stops. Terribelle blows a whistle to signal us when to stop. Apparently this really disturbs the dogs over at the leash-less area, because one of the dog owners comes over to give us an earful. Whatever, lady - it's a PUBLIC OUTDOOR PARK. I bet that if it were a basketball team practicing with a whistle on the basketball court, no one would complain. But since it's a bunch of tattooed girls on skates, apparently we're getting complaints. Terribelle does NOT put away the whistle. :)

We do a mix of a bunch of different drills, and then we do a pace line, with EVERYONE, which wasn't a whole lot of people, but there was a wide range of skill levels all in the same line, so that makes it a bit difficult. I have a hard time skating slow and maintaining proper form, and since a lot of the girls are newer skaters and aren't so fast yet, it takes a long time for them to weave through, so I feel like I'm skating awkwardly for what is a longer time than normal when it's just all the faster girls in one line. But we get through it all, ALL of us (SO PROUD of the new girls!), and then Terribelle has us do this relay where we have to essentially nudge an empty milk jug around cones around the track, like soccer players, but of course we're on skates. We ALL have a hard time doing it, but we all had fun.

Then we did core as usual, and Kathleen gave us cupcakes. I took a few, and borrowed her cupcake container to drive them home. (We know each other from high school, so it's okay.) On the way home, a car in front of me braked REALLY SUDDENLY and therefore, so did I, and the container flew off the front seat and landed on the floor. One of them actually fell out of the container onto the floormat (remember, it's my dad's car, so of course I have to be extra good about cleaning it), and two of them just smooshed into the side of the container. I was pretty pissed about the cupcake casualty. (Later on, I just scraped off the frosting that had touched the ground. What? The cake part itself was fine!)

Jolie was still awake at my parents' house, and about to eat. I grab myself some dinner (they always save me dinner on practice days), and watch Jolie eat hers. She keeps looking at me and saying "MAMA! MAM-MAM-MAM!" And my heart swells, like, Oh my god, my daughter can talk! She knows who I am!!! So then I go over to hug her, and then she looks at me and says, "DADADADADA!" and I'm like, WHAT? NOOOOOOO!!!!! So, I still don't know if she knows me as MAMAMAM or if it's purely coincidental. But I feel like she's been yelling that at me, specifically, a lot lately.

Took Jolie home, put her right to bed, and here I am. I make the rounds on Facebook - we Mizfitz always seem to get on FB to message each other because we have to talk to each other all the time! - where I explain to a student why I hate Katy Perry and where I see the new Rolling Stone cover with Eric, Sookie, and Bill from True Blood - naked and covered in blood. Yeah, that one's getting covered with black plastic at the book store for SURE. I had a cupcake and I gave some to Jimmy and now I'm blogging and I'm about to go to bed because I have to be at school tomorrow by 7am for Freshman Orientation.

Is that detailed enough? It better be, because the one about my week? Is not going to be as detailed, because then I would have to sit here FOREVER typing.

Month of Blog, Day 24: Where I Live

Right now I live in a condo, and I can't stand my neighbors. Since I can't think of anything nice to say, I won't say anything at all.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 23: A Youtube video

I'm posting this because we were talking about it recently at practice.

This block is legendary. Beyonslay is a blocker for Gotham Girls Roller Derby, and in 2008 at the East Coast Extravaganza tournament, she takes the jammer, Rice Rocket from Texas Rollergirls, for a little Slay Ride. BEST BLOCK EVER!.

(And please note that Rice Rocket takes it like a champ and just gets right back up. Because that's how we roll in roller derby.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 22: A website

Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.
Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice:
Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.

Etsy is no secret, but I think it's worth highlighting all the same. It's an online marketplace to buy or sell handmade products, crafting supplies, or vintage items. Hence, you can see why it's very well known among the crafting community. For sellers, it's very easy and very cheap to start your Etsy store and list your items for sale.

For buyers... oh, it's SO easy to lose track of time browsing the awesome, gorgeous items people have for sale. You can buy jewelry, you can buy knitted items (or even handspun or handpainted yarn, or handmade needles!), you can buy clothing - one of my good friends found her wedding dress on Etsy! And it was not ridiculously priced!

Here's a sampling of some of the awesome things that have caught my eye. (If you're reading this entry waaaaaay after it's been posted, it's possible the links/photos won't work if the items have been sold or removed from their listing.)

Month of Blog, Day 21: A Recipe

I'm really not much of a cook. All my recipes are from, like, Food Network. However, I love making sweets, and I especially love doing holiday sweets - on more than one occasion, I've done goody baskets/boxes for my friends and family at Christmas time.

The holidays are a huge deal for me (as I'm sure they are for a lot of people). The air just feels like magic. (Well, once you are clear of the manic, stressed-out shoppers suffering from tunnel vision.) Twinkling lights, cinnamon in my hot chocolate, the huge spreads of food during our holiday celebrations, watching my little cousins eyeing the presents... it's a fun time for me because I'm very big on family. And eating. And also, December is my birthday month, so in the midst of all the holiday-ness, I get to celebrate being alive as well. 

This white chocolate peppermint fudge has always been a big hit. I wish I could say it was my recipe, but alas, I got it from a holiday baking recipe magazine that I spotted in the checkout line at the supermarket. It ended up being one of the best purchases I've ever made :) The fudge is absolutely buttery and decadent and sweet, so if you're planning on making this to give away, you don't have to cut them into very large pieces, because really, any reasonable person could probably only eat this a bite or two at a time (unless you're my dad, who swigs really strong coffee with all his sweets), so one batch could go a long way. The only downside is that with all the peppermint candy pieces, it's very crumbly and a big sticky, unless you've pretty much crushed the candy into a fine powder, which isn't as fun, because seeing the red and white pieces stuck amidst the vanilla-colored fudge is really, really pretty.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 19: A hobby of yours

A hobby? More like an obsession! I am utterly, madly, totally crazy about makeup. I even keep a makeup blog, though it doesn't get many readers.

I know some people think makeup is frivolous and shallow, but I beg to differ. I don't wear makeup just to be a pretty girl. Makeup, for me, is an art form - other people work with pencils or paint or pastels, so why can't I work with powders and creams and gels and call it art? Makeup isn't just about looking good, it's about being able to change your persona with the stroke of a brush. It's self-expression using your actual self (your face). I love seeing how colors and texture and finish come together. I love how one little thing can completely change my face.

Also, I wear makeup for myself and myself alone. No one's pressuring me to do it. Jimmy couldn't care less (in fact, he wishes I wasn't so obsessed with it). I'm not submitting to a societal expectation. I'm just making myself happy. I don't feel bad about myself when I don't wear makeup, but I do definitely feel awesome when I am wearing it. I feel empowered; my confidence is boosted. And I'm not the only one - there are countless of women for whom one swipe of a brilliant red lipstick makes a huge difference.

My favorite brand is Urban Decay - their tagline is "Beauty with an edge," and that's how I like to think of myself. I'm not a total girly girl - I could give a damn about my nails or my hair. I'm tough. I'm tough, but I like looking pretty at the same time. In particular, I'm obsessed with eye makeup - eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, pigments, glitter, etc. It has the widest range of colors, out of any other category except maybe nail polish (which I'm not into, because it's smelly and you have to wait for it to dry, and it gets messed up really easily).

I try to keep up with the trends - my favorite beauty blogs are Temptalia and Makeup Geek, which do both reviews and makeup tutorials. I have a tendency to stalk the UD counter at Macy's and at Sephora. At any given time, I've got a beat on what products are available exclusively at each location and on the website. They should really hire me :)

Well, for more about my makeup love, please check out my blog (linked above and in the sidebar) - there's a full history of my makeup obsession, my quest for the perfect red, and a full swap list (I love to swap makeup I don't use anymore because otherwise it just sits there.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 19: A talent of yours

Knitting, also a hobby of mine (that's tomorrow's blog topic), has developed into a talent.

I first learned to crochet years ago, but really started tackling it in the spring of 2006, as a stress reliever when I started teaching. A few months later, I decided I wanted to learn how to knit as well, after spotting this issue of Vogue Knitting (at right) on the newstand and falling in love with the skirt on the cover. It was my dream project, and I vowed to make the skirt one day.

It took me months alone to get the motions down. Most people don't realize this, but knitting and crochet are opposite in terms of how they work. With crochet (which involves one hook), there are a few different stitches you have to memorize how to do (single crochet, double crochet, triple crochet, half double crochet, etc), but the motions are pretty much all the same - hook the yarn, pull through. With knitting (which involves two needles), there are only two stitches you really need to know - knit and purl - but the motions to do each stitch might seem complicated if you're totally new. Crochet involves working with one loop at a time, while knitting involves many loops at a time.

But eventually, I got it, especially with the help of one of my coworkers. And then I took off, and never looked back. I started off with scarves, like most people do, but I was quickly bored - who wants to do the same thing for 60 inches? Seriously! I got into knitting because so many of the garments I saw were beautiful - the pullovers and cardigans and skirts and hats - they were unlike anything I was seeing in stores. (And the ones I did see in stores were outrageously expensive - check out Anthropologie in the winter time!)

So, I moved on to sweaters. I purposely chose projects that forced me to learn new skills. A sweater like the one at right, the Twinkle Tunic, scared the crap out of me when I looked at the instructions, because it had three different cable motifs running at the same time, plus bobbles, plus it was bottom-up. I learned how to duplicate stitch, how to (finally!) sew seams together. I did lace knitting. I learned how to make gloves with actual fingers. I learned short-row shaping. I did some basic fair isle. (That's one I still need to improve.) I learned how to modify and pick up stitches and properly substitute yarn. I learned different types of cast-ons and bind-offs. I finally got around to blocking items this summer :) I learned to make buttonholes (and actually sew buttons). I've made adult clothes and baby clothes and baby blankets and purses and scarves and hats and gloves. (Still haven't made socks though.) I've crocheted a cupcake and I've knitted pasties. I've tried to learn as much as I can, and I know I still have more to learn, but considering how I've really only been knitting since the tail end of 2006, I think I've accomplished a lot in the short time that I have been knitting.

My proudest accomplishment is my Sylvi sweater - it took me a full year, not because it was too hard, but the boring stretches were just too boring. And also, I was interrupted by the birth of my child :) It was a long, laborious project, but I'm so happy I decided to do it, because it truly is the most beautiful thing I've ever made:

Yes, I would call knitting a talent of mine. It's something I'm good at (keeping in mind that a big part of being good at knitting requires patience, dexterity, and the ability to follow instructions). There are lots of knitters who are better than me, I know that, but there are also a lot of knitters who might not ever attempt their own Sylvi either. So yes, knitting has become a talent :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 18: My Future Wedding

Is it a cop-out to say that I have no desire to have a wedding? Because it's true - weddings make me think "tradition," "stress," and "fairy-tale princess fantasy wish fulfillment," and none of those things appeal to me. I have no interest in spending thousands of dollars on a foofy white dress that I'll wear only once, on flowers that will die, on invitations that people will toss in the trash.

I have nothing against the institution of marriage (I do plan to marry someday, even if I don't actually want a wedding), and I don't even mind attending other people's weddings (as long as they are people I care about - I can't tell you how many distant-distant-distant relatives' weddings I've had to attend, and they were excruciating!) But I have no interest in having one of my own, and I certainly don't care a lick for the societal pressure to do it bigger and badder than everyone else. I've never wanted to be a princess, and my "special day," to me, is already my birthday. I don't like dressing up for other people. I don't like other people looking at me while I stand there trying not to tip over. I don't like following conventions just because that's what everyone else does. I don't like being forced to wear white, because I'm no virgin (to quote Miranda from SATC, "I have a child! The jig is up!"), and I don't believe that half the people who get married these days are anyway, and I don't support the notion of forcing women to be pure for their men. It's sexist bullcrap. (I also don't like how weddings usually end up being all about the bride, and the groom's wishes never get heard. I recently attended such a wedding, and felt sorry for the groom the entire time. The wedding wasn't even in a language he could understand!!!)

But I do like the idea of celebrating the love between two people. In my case, it would be three - me, and Jimmy, and Jolie. If we're going to stand up and declare ourselves united for all eternity, then I am sure as hell including our daughter - I would want it to be about our family unit. I guess I don't really understand the point of standing up and declaring anything anyway - Jimmy and I have been together for 12 years now. If we stand up and say, "Yay, we'll love each other forever," I would only expect people to be like, "Well, yeah, I sure hope so - you two have a kid together!"

I don't want to come off as being judgy. Like I said, I'm okay with other people having weddings, because it's an occasion that means different things to different people. (Okay, so I AM slightly judgy about women who are totally all about the princess fantasy wish fulfillment and are like "ME ME ME" and want to spend 5 digits on a dress when you could totally buy a brand new Corolla with that kind of money. But only slightly judgy.) I will actually be IN a wedding coming up soon, for two of my dearest friends from college, and I'm so honored to be asked to be a part of their special day. So I'm not scoffing weddings themselves. I do scoff the wedding industry a bit, because people can get away with charging you up the wazoo because they know that there are people who are like, "NOTHING BUT THE BEST!!!!" (just like the baby/new-parent industry). I love simple weddings, I love non-conventional weddings, I love weddings that are all about the couple, and NOT all about putting on a show for everyone, you know? - What are you trying to prove? "Yay, I'm not an ugly, old, undesirable loser, because someone's marrying me"? That's not what weddings should be about.

Anyway. In keeping with the idea of making the wedding all about the couple, the truth is that Jimmy and I have zero interest, so... not having a wedding would be perfectly in keeping with our wishes. Me, I wouldn't mind just taking some photos and getting together for a dinner and keeping it all as dressy or casual as you would like it to be. I swear, I might just host a barbecue (RIIIBS!) barefoot, in a pinup dress. I don't want to squish my feet into painful shoes, and I do not want other people squishing their feet into painful shoes for me. I don't want to dance - GOD NO, I don't want to dance - and I don't want to have to listen to any religious talk or any of that. I just want to sign the papers, take some pictures, and eat some really, really good food. (I would still TOTALLY have a ginormously good cake.) We'll just hang out, and Jolie will be so cute that she'll steal all the attention anyway, and then we'll call it a night.

That's what I would want.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Officially a Mizfit!

Front page, baby!
I've been totally psyched about derby lately. Practices have been going really well for me - I can definitely see my improvement since the end of bootcamp - and our league is totally getting some exposure! We're on the front page of the Morgan Hill Times this week (I picked up two copies!) and on the online version of the article, there's a video clip of us practicing! (If you get through the weird blank part in the middle, you can see me jam and take a whip from Amber starting at around 6:33!! Woot!!! SO glad I didn't mess that one up!)

The Mizfitz have more than doubled since the first practice I went to in June, and we're still growing (we don't even have a ref squad yet! Just one ref!) I got one of my friends from high school to join and she loved her first practice, and all of us girls are getting closer and bonding and learning how to work together and scrimmage. It's funny, I've only known some of these girls for a month, maybe just a little more, and I feel more at home with them than some of the people I've worked with for a few years now. And that's no strike against my colleagues - it's just that you need that kind of chemistry for team sports.

Tonight we went through the WFTDA minimum skills list - not exactly being tested, but our coach was checking us off as we did them - and I was so pleased that I got better at the things that I passed the first time (with bootcamp), and I passed the things that I failed before (like crossovers!!!!!!) It confirms for me my suspicions at the end of bootcamp, which were that it's not that I CAN'T do this stuff, it's just that I need more time to work on it. I'm glad I got my "more time" with the Mizfitz, because I feel like I'm doing so much better, building upon and practicing the things I learned before. And we scrimmage! Well, sort of. We don't really have refs, and we're all still learning the rules, so it's not a real scrimmage exactly. But it's nice to put the skills we learned into practice, in a "real-life" situation as opposed to skating in a pace line or whatnot. We're learning how to recall these skills in a less-controlled situation.

It's going to be really hard for me once school starts to continue derby. And if there's any chance the team might relocate to Gilroy or Hollister, it will be damn near impossible. But for now, I will hang on and make it work, because this is something that I am in love with, and you just can't let that kind of love go :) And I'm so very lucky to have people in my life who are so understanding about all of this, about how much I love derby: Jimmy, his mom, my parents. Without them, I could NOT do this.

This isn't just a little hobby, a mere distraction from the mundane life I normally lead. It's a part of me that I didn't know existed, that I had to dig deep to find, and now that it's been discovered, I don't think I could bury it and put it back where it came from. I tried to live without derby for a few months, and I was SO unhappy. Skating with the Mizfitz has been rewarding and challenging and empowering and really just life-saving. I'm glad that I heard about them when I did, because it really brought fire back into my life.

Month of Blog, Day 17: An Art Piece

I LOVE Gil Elvgren's pinup art. They're beautiful, sexy, glamorous, and just totally timeless. (Okay, yeah, nevermind the fact that the women who posed for these paintings were often put in extreme, very uncomfortable positions... )

This might be the best Jane Austen spinoff ever.

Thanks, Miranda!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 16: A song that makes you cry

Month of Blog, Day 15: Your Dream House

(I know, I'm totally cheating by blitzing through all these blog topics.)

I don't have a specific type of house in mind (I know nothing about architecture), but here's what I would love to have IN my dream house (pictures are nabbed from around the Internet, and do not belong to me):

Month of Blog, Day 14: A Non-Fictional Book

If I've learned anything in the past few months, it's that I'm ultimately going to gravitate toward whatever is easiest and most convenient. While I'm deep in thought and staring at the ceiling, a Jenny Craig commercial comes on, so here we go. Cordless in hand, I dial.

Kirstie Alley answers and shrieks, "Yay! Where else can you lose weight and eat fettucine?"

I shriek too, hanging up the phone.

Five tries later, I finally get through her whole recorded greeting without exploding into laughter. I make an appointment with a local center for later this morning.

As I slowly drag my stiff, sore body up the stairs to get ready, I refrain from my usual inner dialogue, which generally sounds like, Yay, me, for trying! Let's have a cookie! I've let myself get away with far too much stupid, self-destructive behavior over the years because I gave myself mad props for effort, not success. The endeavor doesn't count in this situation. There's no more partial credit; I have to win the game.

I undress for the shower and glance at myself in the bathroom mirror. There's much work to be done here. Right before he left for Denver, Fletch said, "Do, or do not. There is no try." I thought it the most profound statement he'd ever uttered... even after I found out Yoda said it in The Empire Strikes Back.

Today I choose do.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 13: A Fictional Book

With a little luck, you'll dismiss this labor, react as Zampano had hoped, call it needlessly complicated, pointlessly obtuse, prolix - your word - , ridiculously conceived, and you'll believe all you've said, and then you'll put it aside - though even here, just that one word, "aside," makes me shudder, for what is ever really just put aside? - and you'll carry on, eat, drink, be merry and most of all you'll sleep well.

Then again there's a good chance you won't.

This much I'm certain of: it doesn't happen immediately. You'll finish and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You'll be sick or feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won't matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you'll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how. You'll have forgotten what granted you this awareness in the first place.

Old shelters - television, magazines, movies - won't protect you anymore. You might try scribbling in a journal, on a napkin, maybe even in the margins of this book. That's when you'll discover you no longer trust the very walls you always took for granted. Even the hallways you've walked a hundred times will feel longer, much longer, and the shadows, any shadow at all, will suddenly seem deeper, much, much deeper.

You might try then, as I did, to find a sky so full of stars it will blind you again. Only no sky can blind you now. Even with all that iridescent magic up there, your eye will no longer linger on the light, it will no longer trace constellations. You'll care only about the darkness and you'll watch it for hours, for days, maybe even for years, trying in vain to believe you're some kind of indispensable, universe-appointed sentinel, as if just by looking you could actually keep it all at bay. It will get so bad you'll be afraid to look away, you'll be afraid to sleep.

Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you'll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you ever lived by. You'll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. And then for better or worse you'll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you've got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name.

And then the nightmares will begin.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 12: Something you are OCD about

First off... I'm not okay with the casual throwing-around of terms like "OCD" and "bipolar" and joking around about cutting. These are real and serious disorders, and it's not cool to make light of what these people are going through.

Okay, that said... something I am very finicky and particular about? I'm pretty meticulous about how I organize my music on my computer. The band names have to be the same (no "Rolling Stones" and "The Rolling Stones" - it's one or the other), the album artwork has to be there, etc, etc. Songs that aren't accompanied by the rest of the album need to have the album name removed from the tags... yeah, my iTunes library is very carefully labeled and organized. For one thing, it keeps me from having duplicate mp3s, and it makes scrolling through my iPod a lot easier. (I don't end up with "Smiths" and "The Smiths" and "Smiths, The" and so on and so forth.) My taste in music is something that I'm very proud of, so I like to keep it neat and tidy. Too bad I'm not that way about, oh, everything else in my life.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More fun with lashes!

Ardell Accents #305

Month of Blog, Days 9-11

I know, I'm doing like, a bunch of these all at the same time, which defeats the purpose, but... oh well. It's easier to do all the photo ones at once, I think.

Day 9: A photo you took

Jimmy from a few years ago. He was playing the piano in his garage when I took this. I just really like the light/dark - the piano is stationed in front of a window. I almost never post photos of Jimmy on my blog (mostly because I'm not sure he would appreciate it if I did), but this time, he gets to be featured :)

Day 10: A photo taken over 10 years ago of you

Me as a baby. I placed this photo side-by-side with one of Jolie, and people could not tell the difference (except for Jolie's hemangioma... but then again, one of my parents' friends was like, "HEY, her birthmark has faded!!!!" Hahaha) You can see the comparison shot here.

Day 11: A photo of you recently

Skating at an expo with my Mizfitz! In a relatively short amount of time, derby has become very important in my life. Some people get into derby to escape - I got into derby, and I found myself.

Month of Blog, Day 8: A photo that makes you angry/sad

Angry. Definitely angry.

The thought of Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church alone makes me want to kick someone (probably Phelps himself) in the nuts with my skates on. But seeing children, who really don't know better one way or the other, sporting that slogan probably because their parents told them to and not really realizing the significance of such a statement... really makes my blood boil.

This right here? This is what I'm trying to stop.

Month of Blog, Day 7: A photo that makes you happy

No explanation needed.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Having fun fakin' it

So, I've been deathly afraid of trying false lashes because... they're just intimidating, I don't know why. And yet, I LOVE the look of them - I haven't been able to find a single mascara that can quite capture the majesty of a huge feathery fringe of lashes. I finally decided I needed to suck it up and give it a try, because I recently ordered Urban Decay's HBIC false lashes (and I just placed an order for Instaglam Technicolor), and if I want to wear them, I'm going to have to brave the glue and learn it.

So I started off with a NYX pair that I received as an extra in a swap. I figure, if I mess them up, I'm not out, like, 16 bucks. And I have to say... pretty good, pretty good! (These are EL 103 - Sugarlicious.)

So then I decided to try out my HBIC lashes. And WOW, they were way more dramatic than even I had thought (and I knew they would be!) I bought these to be a part of my derby "boutfit," but I have, like, zero peripheral vision with these lashes on. They're pretty sexy though :)

So, yeah, maybe these were a bit much, but I can't WAIT to wear the Instaglams when I get them. I think that this will only be the beginning of a beautiful relationship between me and false eyelashes!

Month of Blog, Day 6: 20 of my Favorite Things

  1.  Favorite food: Pho
  2. Favorite album: Radiohead's OK Computer
  3. Favorite store: Sephora
  4. Favorite makeup brand: Urban Decay
  5. Favorite sport: Roller derby
  6. Favorite Beatle: John Lennon
  7. Favorite place to eat: Mio Sushi in Portland, OR
  8. Favorite place I've traveled to: London, England
  9. Favorite color: purple
  10. Favorite thing that I teach: my film unit
  11. Favorite yarn to knit with: Twinkle Soft Chunky
  12. Favorite thing that I've made: Sylvie
  13. Favorite magazine: BUST
  14. Favorite celebrity crush: Viggo Mortenson
  15. Favorite style icon: Dita Von Teese
  16. Favorite way to kill time: Reorganizing my makeup collection
  17. Favorite yarn store: Yarndogs in Los Gatos
  18. Favorite vampire: Damon Salvatore
  19. Favorite scent: citrus
  20. Favorite baseball team: San Francisco Giants

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 5: Your Favorite Quote

"I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle." - Virginia Woolf, "The Mark on the Wall"
I post this one everywhere. (If you look over yonder to my sidebar on my blog, it's probably there.) It's my favorite quote because I identify with it intensely - it's almost like my personal mission statement.

The short way to summarize it would probably be, "I want things to be easy," but that makes it sound like laziness, which it isn't. It's not "I want things to be easy so I don't have to exert any effort" - it's more like, "I want things to be easy so I can go with the flow and relax and not be so tense all the time" It's a need for zen, for peace of mind. It's a need for mental and physical space.

In "The Mark on the Wall," the narrator is sitting in her chair, and she notices a mark on the wall across the room from her, and she doesn't know what it is. Instead of just getting up to look at it, she lets her imagination wander, coming up with all sorts of theories and associations, delving into the previous owners of the house and history and just all sorts of thoughts, until her husband comes in and tells her what it is. (It's a snail. That's the punchline.)

Anyway, who has time to let their mind wander in such a way these days? I certainly don't. I'm so constantly focused on what I'm doing next, where I have to go, when I have to be there, that it drives me crazy sometimes. I don't have many moments to just sit and think. Even when I'm driving that long distance to roller derby practice, my stream of consciousness is stressed out - oh my god what time is it? I hope I'm not late. What do I have to do tonight after practice? Do I have to be anywhere tomorrow? Holy crap, traffic is slowing down even more - gotta change lanes, gotta change lanes. And so on, and so forth. My mind buzzes like crazy, and I rarely have time to do what the narrator is saying in the quote - to think quietly, calmly, spaciously. I DO constantly have to rise from my chair (to do this and that around the house). I DO often get interrupted. I DO experience obstacles and even hostility (either on my part or the other person's).

So, consider that quote my pipe dream. I would love to have a moment just like the one described in the quote - it so perfectly describes what it is that I would like to achieve, what I strive to be: serene, peaceful, easy-going, thoughtful, and imaginative. Considering how I'm very restless, high-strung, and stressed out, I've sure got a long way to go.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 4: Your Favorite Book

(I have so much fun writing these blogs that I might just knock out a few of them in succession, without waiting until the next day! This is fun! Thanks, Adrienne!)

I will be the first to admit that it is very easy to choose P&P as my favorite book. It's a very popular book, and has spawned about a gazillion different spin-offs (my favorite being the British series, "Lost in Austen") and movie adaptations (nothing beats the Colin Firth one, by the way!), and there are just legions of girls and women alike who are swooning for their own Mr. Darcy.

Yes, I acknowledge the "chick lit" and "romance" aspects of the novel, because there's no getting around that. It's a good love story, and women just LOVE the period costumes and the proper language and dainty teacups and embroidered cushions and stuff like that.

But it's too easy to reduce P&P to just a love story. To do so is to completely detract from Austen's talent as a writer and observer of human nature. Any idiot can put together a captivating romance. Yes, Austen wrote period love stories, but embedded in these love stories is social commentary - about the military, the economy, the role of women, the role of men, the importance of literacy and exercise, fashion, society, familial relations, etc - and it's written in sharp, witty, intelligent prose. Austen's use of the English language is absolutely perfect. I know that Austen's novels have been fodder for insipid rom-coms, and people who've never really studied her would like to think of her novels as being shallow romance, but that could not be further from the truth.

P&P is perhaps Austen's most beloved novel, because Elizabeth Bennet is spunky and independent and playful. (BTW, people like to think of Elizabeth as a modern girl, but she really wasn't. She was very much a believer in the rules of propriety and she stays firmly in-bounds.) She challenges Mr. Darcy, she steps up to him, and he falls in love with her for it, and eventually they get married, yay.

Okay, but also take a look at the importance of marriage in a society like that - marriage was pretty much a girl's only option. And in a family like the Bennets, where there are only girls and none of them can inherit the family home, it becomes a necessity to marry a guy who can support you. Elizabeth faces the problem of whether she should marry for comfort or marry for love (and luckily for her, that actually no longer is a problem by the end of the book). Look at the other marriages in the novel for contrast - there needs to be a balance of love (passion), respect, and financial security for a happy marriage in Austenland, and the marriages that lack any of those components are not painted favorably.

People like to think of P&P as being chick-lit, and yes the heroines are female, but you shouldn't overlook her characterization of men. Austen wasn't a feminist who believed that men and women should have equal power. (In fact, Lydia, who makes her own sexual choices in the novel and in that sense actually behaves more like a modern woman than Elizabeth, is totally hated.) In P&P, it's when men fail to fulfill their given roles that things fall apart. Take Mr. Bennet, for example. He's a lousy father and authority figure. Yes, we love him because he's funny and he makes fun of his wife and younger daughters who are all idiots, but objectively, he's not doing a good job of making good decisions on behalf of his household. Take Mr. Collins, who is an obsequious little monkey to his patron, Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Even take Mr. Bingley, who easily influenced by Mr. Darcy and his two sisters in regards to marrying Jane Bennet! Austen seems to be saying, "Hey! If you want to be in charge of us wimmins, then stand up and be men, goddammit! Stop effing up!" (Okay, she would NOT use that kind of language. But you get my point.)

There are so many layers to peel away with P&P, and every time I re-read it, I pick up on new things. Yes, at the end of the day, my heart flutters when Mr. Darcy says "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you," (yes I typed that from memory) but it isn't JUST that. It's also all the intellectual English-major stuff that's in there too. And that's why it's my favorite book. It's beloved by both trashy romance novel readers and snobby Ivy League scholars alike, by both men and women alike. Austen is one of the most treasured British authors of all time for a reason.

And by the way, here's my Master's thesis.

Month of Blog, Day 3: Your Favorite Television Program

This is a tough one for me - there have been lots of tv shows that I've enjoyed, and I wouldn't call them all GOOD shows (again, the snob in me), but they've definitely gotten me hooked. But there are a few that I absolutely treasure, so I'll talk a little bit about all of them (warning, long post ahead):

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 2: My Favorite Movie

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - directed by Michel Gondry; written by Charlie Kaufman; starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo

Spoilers, just a warning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Month of Blog, Day 1: My Favorite Song

I love this song so much, I named my daughter for it:

Happy Birthday, Jolie!

Today is Jolie's first birthday. I can't believe how she's grown! At this time last year, I was experiencing extreme discomfort as I was getting ready for my baby shower, and a year later, I've got this little girl trying to chew on a remote control behind me right there.

I've been remembering/re-living all those early days lately, as Jolie's birthday has been approaching, and I still get emotional. I remember the delivery, the uncertainty, the quickness of the whole thing. I remember seeing her for the first time, tears streaming down my face. I remember being discharged from the hospital, and the volunteer wheeling me past the entrance to the NICU, and it hit me that I was leaving my baby behind at the hospital. I remember visiting every day, twice a day, and crying every time I left without her. I remember when the hospital finally succeeded in bullying us into doing a "trial night" in the family room - I hated being cooped up in there, but I was there with Jolie and my laptop and then we ALL finally got to go home the next morning.

Since then... well, I wouldn't say it's been a piece of cake, but actually, Jolie has been a remarkably easy baby. She was too little to cry needlessly, and by the time she was old enough to do so, she had already grown out of the colicky age. She was never picky about anything she ate, from the temperature of her bottle to the solid foods when we finally started. She hardly ever lets me be in the room with her without making me hold her, but at the same time, when we're at a crowded family party or out in public, she is totally unafraid - at worst she would just stare, wide-eyed, taking in the scene, and at best, she would make eyes at everyone and smile at them. She's never been sick (*knock on wood!*) other than a sniffly nose or some gas. Sure, she gets cranky sometimes now (usually when she's tired or hungry or getting her diaper changed), but she is seriously one of the happiest babies I've ever seen, and I'm not the only one who says that.

And she's such a charmer - the girl can't even talk yet, but she loves to joke around with you, get a laugh out of you. She'll coax you to let her have her way by kissing you, or she'll try to get some attention by fake-coughing, or she'll amuse herself by scaring the living daylights out of you. She sings softly along with you when you sing, and waves her arms to the music.

The first year has been both magical and bittersweet, because I knew that at some point, the first year would have to end, and now we will be beginning our second, and so on, and so forth. The baby years will draw to a close in not too long, so I'm trying to enjoy this while it lasts.

Happy birthday, Jolie! You are such a wonderful baby, and it will be exciting to see you as a wonderful toddler!

A blog post a day...

So, this was an idea I got from my friend Adrienne, whose blog I follow. She got the idea to do a blog post a day for the next 30 days, each one with a specific topic. I kinda like that idea too :) So, here's the list, and I will start tomorrow (or, today, since it's almost 1am):

Day 1 - your favorite song

Day 2 - your favorite movie

Day 3 - your favorite television program
Day 4 - your favorite book
Day 5 - your favorite quote
Day 6 - 20 of my favorite things
Day 7 - a photo that makes you happy
Day 8 - a photo that makes you angry/sad
Day 9 - a photo you took
Day 10 - a photo taken over 10 years ago of you
Day 11 - a photo of you recently
Day 12 - something you are OCD about
Day 13 - a fictional book
Day 14 - a non-fictional book
Day 15 - your dream house
Day 16 - a song that makes you cry (or nearly)
Day 17 - an art piece (drawing, sculpture, painting, etc)
Day 18 - my wedding/future wedding/past wedding
Day 19 - a talent of yours
Day 20 - a hobby of yours
Day 21 - a recipe
Day 22 - a website
Day 23 - a youtube video
Day 24 - where I live
Day 25 - your day, in great detail
Day 26 - your week, in great detail
Day 27 - my worst habit
Day 28 - whats in my handbag/purse
Day 29 - hopes,dreams and plans for the next 365 days
Day 30 - a dream for the future

Pause and reflect

I haven't written a blog post in almost a year. I've had a lot of stuff happen, some good and some bad, and I could've written a...