Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jump Around

I'm a lurker on a blog of a friend of a friend. I've never met this kid and he's only posted three times. But, I have been inspired. See, he's a big fan of jumping pictures. And, he likes them so much, it's consumed him and it's all he blogs about. Through him and his blog, I have discovered my own love of jumping pictures. Not only are they fun to look at, but they are ridiculously fun to take. I'm still an amature, not nearly as good as the pro who can create shapes and other themed jumps. But here are a few of my best shots:

I'm sure that many more jumping pictures are soon to come. I've discovered that it's a great way to add spice to an otherwise beautiful, but sort of boring, landscape shot (such as the latter two at Detroit Lake). As the friend of the friend put it best, "The jumping picture plants either an awe, a smile, or a perplexity that diverts the viewer's attention from the ability to be photogenic of the subject, to the wonderment of the photograph." Amen brother.

All I Want To Do Is Dance

Periodically, I make a vow to myself never to go to another church dance. This usually occurs immediately after walking into a church dance and thinking, "what the hell am I doing here?" For several years I was doing pretty good at abstaining, but every once in a while I'll succumb to the peer pressure, "c'mon, it'll be fun!" "Everyone is going." "Just this once." "If it's lame we'll leave." And you know what? It's never a good idea.

Tonight, I went to another church dance. And tonight, I reaffirm my vow to never go to another church dance again. Tonight was actually better than most church dances. Mostly because I have some girlfriends who really love to dance...and boy can they dance. See, it's not the dancing that I don't like. I LOVE to go dancing. It's one of my favorite things to do (which most of my friends can affirm). But, there is something about walking into a gigantic cultural hall (gym in norman talk) which is moderately lit with bad music and a few people swing dancing to some techno song and the rest standing idly by in the corner judging everyone. It makes me throw up in my mouth a little. The thing is, such things were really fun, once upon a time...a time when I was 15. Now I'm 29 and I feel way too old to be going to dances. I'm a grandma for heaven's sake...I might throw out a hip. Mostly they just make me realize the comically hopeless situation of being an older single LDS woman. I mean, seriously, am I expected to meet someone who I will love and marry at one of these things? Which one of the 12 year olds mac-ing on the other 12 year olds should I approach and engage in meaningful conversation? Which one of the guys trying to break dance in a big circle of white folk should I invite over for dinner? If I try this dance move will it entice the hot guy that every girl is after to come over and ask me to dance?

One of the reasons that I sometimes fold to the peer pressure requires a bit of family history. One day circa 1968 Mary Lou Donahue was content to spend a Friday night at home doing...oh, I don't know, whatever Mary Lou was into at the time...maybe typing? Her girlfriends were planning to go to a dance (not a church dance, this one happens to take place in a bar). She really wasn't in the mood to go, and tried her darndest to stay home, but her friends won out and she reluctantly went to the dance. During the course of the night, she's asked to dance by a quirky little guy named Frank. They dance a few dances, she tries to ditch him by going to the bathroom, but he finds her later on and somehow finagles his way into getting a ride home from Mary Lou's friends. Long story short, they get married. Longer story shorter, I am born. Moral of the story: if you go to a dance that you don't want to go to, you just might meet your husband, have a lovely family, and live happily ever after. I know it's a ridiculous thought, but family lore has a way of sticking in your brain and making you do all kinds of ridiculous things against better judgment. So, sometimes when I really really don't want to go to a church dance, somewhere in the back of my head I think, the more I don't want to go, the more likely it is that my husband will be there and if I don't go I'll miss him. This is made more ridiculous by the fact that I don't believe in "soul mates" or the idea that "my hubby" is out there somewhere waiting or searching for me and it's just a matter of finding him. However, the old mantra, "it'll happen when you least expect it" sort of applies here. I mean, where would I be less likely to meet someone than at a church dance???

Now, there are certainly exceptions to the horrific nature of church dances (i.e. LA1st/SM3rd combined Christmas Party of 2006 - a delightfully lovely evening of dinner and dancing or any kind of dance that takes place on a boat). As I've typed them out I've realized they are exceptions because they are not actually church dances. So, it's not the Mormons who make church dances horrible. Is it the cultural hall? Is it the bad DJs? Is it the fact that it reminds me of being an awkward 15 year old?

Tonight I learned a lesson from my friend Jeni: dances are much more fun if there is no expectation. They are fun when you go with the sole purpose of gettin' your grove on and cuttin' a rug on the dance floor. You do not intend to meet a single person (male or female), you do not expect good conversation, you do not expect to catch the eye of your latest crush, you do not expect to be asked to dance to a slow song. You simply expect to dance your heart out and not give a damn about the rest of the world. And you do it with people you enjoy being around. This is exactly why it's fun to go out dancing with your friends (whether it's at a club, or a bar, or a wedding, or in your living room). Dancing is fun and it's good for my soul. And when I go dancing in all of these other places that's all I'm doing is dancing. I'm not trying to attract a potential spouse and see how that night fits into my eternal scheme - reminding me that I'm a 29 year old single LDS woman. What dancing really does is remind me that I'm alive and I'm fun and I'm sexy, even if no one is looking.

So, instead of vowing to never go to another church dance again, I'm going to start treating all dances, including those in a moderately lit and mostly empty cultural hall, as a chance to feed my soul and rock it on the dance floor. No bad attitudes, no expectations, no miss poopy pants. Because really, all I want to do is dance!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Love LA!

I took a lovely little trip to LA this weekend for my friend Holly's wedding. It was a great excuse to go "home" and see my family of friends that I miss so much. It was a busy weekend, though I don't recall doing very much. I was just happy to be with my peeps. Since I've only been gone for 2 months, it didn't really feel like I ever left. Sure, there were a few new faces and some old ones gone, but for the most part, it was just like being home. We slid right back into our comfy relationships and picked up where we left off (including Jim's rudeness on Friday night). I learned a few things from this trip...I'm really happy in Portland and I miss LA. Despite what my friends think, they will never be replaced...they are truly irreplaceable. Since most of my blogging has been dedicated to my adventures in Portland, here are a few things I miss about LA:

1. My great group of friends.

2. My local food joints (especially the vegetarian burrito from Eduardo's).

3. Taking 5 freeways to get somewhere.

4. Spa Days with the girls (and the great gossip fest 2007 on the way to Claremont).

5. My school peeps (and my work peeps who, regretfully, are not pictured).

6. Late night rendezvous at the grocery store (I especially love Emily's look of disdain in this picture).

7. Having guy friends.

8. Having human contact.

9. Being ridiculous.

10. Being around people who know you well enough that they can create an exact replica of you or any of our friends (except Emily) on the Wii.

See if you can figure out who is who :)

There are many other things that I miss about LA, many of which I'm sure will start to become more apparent the longer I'm away. There is one thing, though, that I can categorically say I do not miss: LA Traffic (which turned a 1 hour drive to Claremont into a 2 1/2 hour torture fest for Kami in Friday night traffic and almost made me miss my friend's wedding on Saturday - though Alan is convinced that I get some sort of thrill out of always being late...perhaps I'll start to miss the traffic after all).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And I thought it wouldn't be hot enough...

When I decided to move to Portland, all anyone could talk about was how rainy it was going to be. "Ugh, but the weather!" they would say. I think it was just one of their many totally transparent attempts to get me to stay in LA...where the sun always shines...but I saw right though it. Sure, Portland is known for its dreary and rainy weather. But, everyone who lives here says that they have marvelous summers. All reports indicated that the summers are beautifully sunny with moderate temperatures. I liked the sunny part...but moderate temperatures? Like, in the 70s? All summer? Some of you may think that's perfect...but I'm the kind of girl who likes it hot. 70s don't cut it for my perfect summer. I like it in the 80s with occasional days in the 90s (very dry of course, no more Washington DC summers for me, thank you...I only like to feel that wet when I've come out of the shower). But hot weather is what summers are all about. I want the weather to make me feel the urge to run through a sprinkler or jump in a fountain. I don't want to be shivering in the cool breeze of a moderately warm day after I come squealing out of the arches of water spewing from the ground. So, I have to admit that I had my concerns that I wouldn't be hot enough this summer.

Well, all of those concerns were allayed this week. Actually, the whole summer has been more than moderately warm. I am convinced I moved to Portland at exactly the right time. It has been quite perfect on most days. There has been the occasional rainy day or cloudy morning, but all in all, it's been lovely...until this week. Portland has been in the middle of a record breaking heat wave. And, while the competitive side of me totally loves when records of any kind are broken, I'd prefer they not be broken while I'm stuck in traffic in a black car with no air conditioning that's been sitting out in the sun all day. I walked out of my nicely air conditioned building today and had I been a blind person I would have sworn I walked out the wrong door and directly into an oven. It knocked all of the freshly cooled air right out of my lungs and I actually gasped. Luckily, like Colorado and LA (and I'm sure many other lovely places in the southwest), it is a "dry heat" which is preferable to a "soaking wet heat" that you tend to get on the East coast and in the South. Typically, dry heat is nice because it means that it's a little cooler in the shade and there is usually a nice accompanying breeze that will cool you right off (which becomes important when you are driving a car with no air conditioning). However, there was no breeze in today's dry heat and even the breeze generated by driving on the freeway felt like the stream of air that comes from my blow dryer when it is on hot and high. No cooling effect whatsoever. Two days in a row I arrived home with visible sweat marks on the back and bum of my clothes...lovely. So, while I absolutely adore the heat, I also like being able to escape the heat in an air conditioned building or car and should really look into getting my a/c fixed. I obviously didn't prepare for this as I was too concerned about not being hot enough in the great Northwest.

In other hot news...I saw Live Free or Die Hard tonight. It was entertaining enough...just what you'd expect out of a Die Hard Movie (somehow battling robots are more believable to me than really fancy government buildings). But man...Bruce Willis still has it after all these years. He's still as hot and bad A as ever.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Just Like a Woman

I am a woman. I love being a woman. I embrace womanhood. I love all (well, almost all) that it entails. However, there are certain things about being a woman that sort of suck it. I'm going to talk about two of them here: bathing suit shopping, and hair removal.

We'll start with hair removal. I'm not sure if guys realize the amount of time, money, energy, and pain that is spent by women to remove hair from their bodies. This goes from the daily shaving routine, to the monthly eyebrow threading, to the summertime bikini wax. We spend countless hours trying to make our bodies smooth, touchable and hair free. We spend so much time at this and have become so good at it, that the world (or at least those in the US) have bought into the idea that women are hairless (except for those luscious locks on their heads). I'm not about to get on a soapbox and say that this is wrong and the societal norms need to change. I happen to think that hairless legs are prettier than harry legs (I mean, c'mon...have you ever seen the upper thigh of a man...ick!!). So, I'm not about to grow out the hair on my body (even though I live in Oregon)...but I must say that I'm really tired of all of the shaving and plucking and waxing and tweazing and threading that occupies such a big place in my beauty regimen. So, I've finally decided to do something about it...I'm going under the laser!!

Today I had my first appointment for laser hair removal. It started off like many other appointments at a "spa". I was ushered into a nice room, then I disrobed and slipped under a sheet. But, instead of this being followed by a relaxing and soothing massage, I spent the next hour and a half in some degree of pain. In anticipation of the pain, I had planned on doing some deep breathing exercises sort of like the ones I teach my patients to use in stressful/painful situations...or like pregnant women learn in Lamaze (yes, I was anticipating that degree of pain). What I didn't realize is that the laser device blows out this very forceful stream of cold air in order to cool the area that's being lasered. As many of you know, I have a VERY difficult time breathing when air is being blown into my face, as evidenced by nearly passing out while sky diving because I couldn't take a breath. So, while the area being lasered was nice and cool, I was suffocating and obviously not practicing my deep breathing! This only slightly distracted me from the pain and did absolutely nothing for my anxiety. Luckily, laser hair removal wasn't nearly as painful as I anticipated...except for the armpits...OOOOWWWEEEE!!!! I think all of the pain will be worth it though. Soon I can throw away all of my razors and never again worry about a boy touching my leg at church and looking at me as if I'd cut his hand with shards of glass. Just a few more sessions and maybe soon I'll look like this...

As if this post wasn't already long enough...I'm now going to move on to bathing suit shopping...another bain in the existence of being a woman. I'm not sure why, but bathing suit shopping is probably the least enjoyable activity on the planet for most women. I take that back...I know exactly why. It's because, after months of wearing sweaters and long pants, we find ourselves in a tiny room with bright florescent lights squeezing ourselves into suits of lycra that show off every flaw that we had been attempting to hide for the last 8 months. Our skin is that sickly pasty white, our stomachs have become a little more soft, and we haven't seen that much of our bodies exposed since the previous summer. All that, and we are trying to imagine ourselves in said lycra hanging out with boys that we'd like to smootch. Even the tallest and skinniest of women have told me they hate bathing suit shopping. But, it is a necessary evil in our lives...especially if we are going to find boys to smootch. So, a few weeks ago I spent a typical Thursday evening ruining my self-esteem by shopping for a bathing suit for a ward boating activity. While living in LA, I acquired a number of bathing suits (natch, since I lived near the beach). However, very few of these bathing suits are "suitable" for a ward activity, and the few that are I totally hate. So, if I was going to meet and attract a boy at this activity, I was going to need a new suit. The problem is, you can't go bathing suit shopping when you actually need a new suit. I went to several stores and must have tried on 50 bathing suits and still went home empty handed. It was horrible and sent me into a funk that lasted at least 2 days before I could finally kick it.

Well, today I was strolling through Nordstrom on my way to the mall when I happened upon the bathing suit section. "Walk on" said part of me. "But you need a new suit so you can go boating and find a nice Mormon boy" said the other part of me. The latter part won and I spent an hour squeezing myself into some lycra. At the end of the hour I found a very cute bathing suit and still felt really good about myself. This experience taught me some valuable lessons that I'd like to share:

1. NEVER intentionally go bathing suit shopping. If you are looking for a bathing suit, you will never find one.

2. You should shop for bathing suits when you "happen upon" the bathing suit section and have an hour to kill.

3. NEVER go bathing suit shopping the day (or even 3 days) before you need to be wearing said bathing suit. Again, the pressure is too much and you will never find one. Instead, utilize rule #2 and put yourself in a mall more often than not (shopping for make-up, shoes, and handbags of course) at the beginning of the summer or weeks before you know you'll need swimwear.

4. NEVER go bathing suit shopping on an ugly day. It only exacerbates the "I'm disgusting" feeling you get when standing half-naked under those florescent lights.

5. ONLY shop for bathing suits on a day you are feeling hot. And by hot I mean those days when you strut down the street and assume that every guy is checking you out, not the days you are sweaty because it's 90 degrees out and you have no air conditioning (see rule #3). Do your hair and make-up. And, since undergarments are required while trying on swimwear, pretty panties are a must (no bathing suit will look pretty over garments or granny panties).

6. NEVER eat a big bowl of pasta (or any large meal for that matter) prior to going bathing suit shopping. Hopefully no explanation is necessary for this one.

I unknowingly utilized these rules with great success on Saturday and found this little number that can be worn to (hopefully) attract nice Mormon boys. I'm sure it would help if I looked that hot in it. I'd love to hear if you ladies have any additional rules you have discovered along the way to make this necessary evil a little more bearable.

Women, I hope that despite these two difficulties, you embrace your womanhood. As Sark put are a wild and succulent woman (who might have hairy legs and feel horrible in a bathing suit)...but wild and succulent you are!! Love it! Live it!

More Than Meets The Eye

I saw Transformers tonight. And I loved it! I loved it so much that I had to come home and blog about it immediately. It was completely ridiculous and cheesy and unbelievable...but it's a movie about good and evil robots who come to earth and battle...what do you expect?? The dialogue wasn't as horrible as I was expecting and it was actually quite funny. A good way to spend a Friday night and $8.50 (that's right, student tickets in Portland are $8.50...whoo hoo!! And yes...I'm still getting student tickets, call me a thief...or as my mom would say...thieth). One thing that I realized tonight, is that I love that I have lived in two of the most filmed cities in movies (DC and LA...too bad I'm missing New York). I love that I've called those places home and can recognize my home in the totally fabricated shots of the pentagon and the streets of downtown LA. It just steps up my fuzzy happy warm spot smile as I enjoy my movie going experience.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Bombs Bursting in Air

I couldn't go without blogging about my favorite holiday, the Fourth of July. And, I couldn't go without blogging about the BEST 4th of July EVER. The problem is, I've been having bloggers block about how to write about the BEST 4th of July EVER. It was such a crazy event that I can't quite find the words for it. It was a 4th of July for the books. It's up there with last year's celebration at Claremont High School, 1999's hottest 4th of July EVER in Washington DC, and 4th of July's with the family at Front Range as a kid. It even beats 2002 when we accidentally went to the 9/11 memorial fireworks in NYC instead of the real fireworks show...oh, those were good times.

The day started off nice enough. It would have been one of those perfect Saturdays (except that it was Wednesday which is still throwing off my weekly clock). We toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory in the morning and then spent the afternoon playing at Cannon Beach. This is the beach with the famous "Haystack Rock" featured in one of my all time favorite movies - The Goonies. We napped in the sun, walked in the surf and just enjoyed a beautiful day on the Oregon Coast. After our frolicking, we went up to Seaside Oregon which is a lovely little beach town that reminds me a lot of Atlantic City, circa 1952. We had a delicious dinner and then headed toward the beach...this is where things get good.

On our way up the street I smelled the most wonderful and sulfur mixed with sea air. It made me feel all nostalgic and happy but I'm kind of an idiot and I couldn't quite place the smell...I kept thinking, "beach bonfire?" Well, the source of the smell became apparent as we rounded the corner and the view of the beach opened up. The beach was packed with people, all of whom had spent thousands of dollars on fireworks. I've never lived in a state where fireworks of this caliber are legal, and I'm not even sure that they are legal in Oregon. But, whatever the laws ...they were not abided on the beach that day. These fireworks went beyond sparklers, beyond whizzing whirly things that sit on the ground and throw flames and sparks, even beyond roman candles (though all of those things were there in abundance). We are talking full blown, for real fireworks being set off by (presumably untrained) every day Joe's who were most likely drunk (judging by the plethora of beer cans already strewn around the beach). Dangerous? Yes. Life threatening? Yes. Amazingly fun? Yes.

Most of the parties on the beach had dug these pits - not fire pits - but these gigantic pits in the ground that had a bench made of sand that went around the perimeter and were big enough to fit at least 12 people and still have room for a fire in the middle. I was pretty bummed that we didn't have a pit. Not only because it would have been super fun, but also because it would have served nicely as a fox hole. We certainly needed the protection. For at least an hour before the actual fireworks show started, huge fireworks were going off all around us. It was great to sit there in our beach chairs and watch all of the money people had spent being blown up in the sky for our entertainment. It was even great when I had to grab my friend and run, screaming "dive! dive!" in order to avoid being blown up by a firework being set off by some college kids right next to where we had been sitting. It seriously felt like a combat zone at times, with loud cracks and bangs going off all around, black smoke rolling from the source of the explosions, and the strong smell of burning things. I'm an extroverted person who thrives on external stimuli, and even I was a little overstimulated at times. Most of my patients would have had a serious melt-down.

But, all danger and PTSD triggering aside, it was a fabulous night. Just what the 4th of July should be - outside, hanging with friends and watching amazing fireworks. I finally understood what it really means when we sing, "The Bombs Bursting in Air" and got just a tiny glimpse of what it must have been like to fight for our nation's freedom.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The All American Pastime

It's summer time, and that means baseball. This is a relatively new thing for me. I didn't grow up with summertime meaning baseball. When I was a kid, summertime meant garage sales, soccer games, riding bikes and selling lemonade. We weren't a baseball kind of family. We're more of a football and hockey type of family. We like sports where there is a lot of full body contact and aggression.

Summertime has only meant baseball for me since I was about 22 when I moved to DC. My friends and I would frequently take trips up to Camden Yards to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Those are some of my fondest memories of DC. There is just something wonderful about sitting in a baseball stadium (especially beautiful ones like Camden Yards or Coors Field), eating a hot dog, and spending time with good friends. There is an energy there that just makes you feel like an American. The green grass, the soothing announcer's voice, and the familiar songs played on the just doesn't get better. My love of the game was further deepened when I moved to LA and became a Dodger's fan...well, not so much a Dodger's fan as a Dodger Dogs fan (the deliciously overpriced hot dogs at Dodger's stadium). We would often go to Dodger Games and sit in the outfield with all the teenage hoodlums. Eventually, I moved up in the world and had a co-worker with season tickets that he would frequently pass on to me. Many a night was shared with my LA peeps under the starless sky of Dodger's Stadium. In fact, the conception of this blog occurred at my last Dodger's Game with Dan, Evan, and Emily. Each time I left the Stadium with Randy Newman I would with him cheer, "I love LA!" And in those moments...I truly did.

I miss those nights of baseball, hot dogs, and friends...both in DC and in LA. Summer nights watching baseball is part of what epitomizes my time in both of those great cities. I was a little sad to be moving to a city where I didn't have such great friends and where there is no Major League Baseball team. But, what we do have here is PGE field and the Beavers (the AAA team that is affiliated with the Padres). And, while it's no Camden Yards, and it's no Dodger Dog, it is still baseball and it is still summer.

The Perfect Day

Yesterday I had one of those perfect days. It wasn't a crazy day, and wasn't totally out of the ordinary, but it was one of those days that's filled with a lot of things that I love...thus making it one of those perfect days. I think perfect days are like perfect moments...they are not planned or coordinated...they just sort of catch you in a moment of happy bliss doing something totally ordinary. Here are some of the things that made up my perfect yesterday...

Boating (I have yet to get a picture of me actually wake boarding, so a picture on the boat will have to suffice. And...YES, I have actually been wakeboarding, I'm not making it up despite the lack of photos. Just look at my hair for proof).

Napping by the pool (not pictured for obvious reasons)

Dinner at Rose's (one of the MANY amazing Portland Restaurants). I had a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup (one of my favorite combos). Preceded and followed by shopping on NW 23rd, which happens to be one of my favorite places on the planet. Very charming and cute, GREAT shopping (tons of little boutiques with reasonably priced and very cute things...the manager at Sloan now knows me by name, "didn't you try on those shoes last week???"), yummy restaurants, and some of the best people watching.


And, at the suggestion of Gamine, we finished the night off with Miss Potter, a delightful little movie that I highly recommend.

To top it all off, the weather was GORGEOUS...beautiful blue skies, warm, with a nice breeze. Who ever said the weather in Portland is miserable? (please no comments about winters in Portland or the alleged "rainy season". I'll believe it when I see it...which will likely happen in October...stay tuned).