Writing at 9 Years Old

The year continues to be challenging, but I’m hanging in there.  This past weekend was spent  avoiding snow and cold temperatures and pretty much staying inside. We also stayed home on Monday, partially because of the conditions and partially because we were both feeling under the weather. Today was my first day back at work, and it felt like a Monday. Jon also got news of a wrench thrown into our budget plans for the next few months, so that was pretty disheartening. I’ve been depressed anyway, so I’m having a hard time going with the flow right now.

On a positive note for the night, it was chilly but not horrible, so Jon and I took a walk down Poyntz. I was in a funk, so I didn’t really stop to enjoy things, but being outside was somewhat therapeutic. We also attended a geocaching event at the mall. It was just a quick flash mob, but it gave me a chance to wear my jersey, which still doesn’t fit well, but I can put it on now. Progress!

One interesting thing I did this weekend was to read some of my old journals. Blogging really isn’t new to me, I just did it using pen and paper for years. Oh, and I kept it secret. Which is good, because the first journal I picked up to read was from my second semester in college, and boy…was I strange. I was angry and stressed, my priorities were completely out of whack, I had mean thoughts about everyone and everything, and I spent a lot of time “having fun.” I always remember college fondly. When anyone asks me, I truthfully say that I had a blast in my time at Lake State. But my journal reminded me that not everything was sunshine and roses. Of course, it was only a short time frame I was reading about because I tended to write pages and pages for just one night or one event. Still, it was a bit uncomfortable.

After traveling back to freshman year, I went even further back and pulled out my diary from third grade. Hilarious!  I talk about all kinds of important things, like what I had for lunch, who I hung out with at recess, the recap from the latest episode of Jem (because she was, and always will be, truly outrageous), and the boys I thought were cute (2/3 of the list was actors).  My favorite thing, though, was a story I started writing. Besides the content, it was funny to see that I’d very carefully written out every word, like I wanted it to look like it had been typed.

To perk myself up and to show what a goofball I was at such an early age, I’m going to share my story here. Feel free to skip if you’re not into the (word for word, I kid you not) creative writings of a nine-year old.

The Stranger – by Amanda S. 

A man in a black suit walked down the street. His pants were tight-fitting. His shirt hung loose around him. His black jacket was slung over his shoulder. His black boots were dusty. His shirt was tucked into his pants and his pants were tucked into his boots. His hair was black, and he wore dark sunglasses.

Nobody in the small town of Alonta, Michigan had ever seen him. Little did they know, he would become their worst nightmare.

Sue Antonio was daydreaming as usual on the job in the “St. Luey” coffee shop. She was an unmarried woman of 23. She was tall and slender. She had frizzy, strawberry-blond hair, and bright blue eyes. On either cheek, she had a small sprinkle of freckles. Sue worked in the St. Luey coffee shop from 9:00am to 12:00pm. She lived with her boss, also her best friend, Maria Maio.

Sue got payed well enough to buy herself a house. But she had come to think of Maria’s house as home, so she never left. 

Sue was the first to ever see the man. She was working late one night when he walked in. 

“Hello. May I help you?” asked Sue. 

The man sat at a stool near the counter. 

“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll have a coke.”

She got him his coke, then leaned against the counter.

“What’s your name?” the man asked.

Sue was too wary to give him her name, so she said, “What’s yours?”

“I asked you first,” said the man, without even flinching. Sue didn’t like the way the man was looking at her. “Sue,” she replied, hesitantly. 

“Just call me Wolf.”

Epic, right?? Besides the fact that I think I’m describing Danny from “Grease,” I have no idea where I came up with this stuff! Also, do baristas really make enough to buy a house? Especially when they only work for like four hours a day? I really did spell it St. Luey, and I love the melodrama of “He would become their worst nightmare.”

I kind of want to write this as an adult, now. I’m pretty sure I already have some ideas of where to take this.

On that note, I’m cold and tired, so I’m going to shower and sleep. Hoping tomorrow is a better day all around.



Reunions, Nostalgia, and Chocolate Shakes

I had originally wanted to get up super early this morning and do some geocaching before we went to Jon’s high school reunion. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I hit the snooze for an hour, feeling the need to sleep in. It wouldn’t have been too bad, but we both needed showers and then we were just slow getting around. We grabbed Drew and went to Sonic for a late breakfast, and by the time we were done, it was time to head to the reunion.

It was a potluck lunch, so we stopped and bought two eight piece boxes of chicken at Dillons.  We brought food, but we didn’t actually eat there, which was partially on me because I was having some anxiety. I also just wasn’t hungry due to the late breakfast we had.

The reunion was being held at a large cabin on a farm near where Jon went to high school. It was a pretty area. In hindsight, I should have walked around more, both for exercise and just to enjoy the view.

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Instead, I sat around and visited with the other wives I knew and watched videos of Jon and a bunch of people I didn’t know. Which is really the thing about reunions…if it’s not your class, it’s just kind of weird and awkward. I think I was lucky that I knew a couple of people, but it was still a little bit uncomfortable.  On a more positive note, though, it made me remember my own high school years. Being that I don’t live in Michigan anymore, it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to one of my own reunions, but I still have great memories of high school. Part of me is okay with not going back.  Reunions sometimes dredge up the bad stuff too.  I have such good memories of my four years, and I’d kind of like to just keep those as they are.

We stayed for a couple hours before leaving. The reunion was going to continue at a local bar later that night, but we didn’t end up making it back. After the lunch, we found two geocaches in Derby and grabbed some lunch at Talliano’s. We hadn’t been there since before I moved to Manhattan. It was a buffet, but it was cheap enough for me to justify not eating a whole lot.  After lunch, we headed back to Rose Hill. I had a toothache most of the day and was ready to take some pain killers and curl up for awhile.

Back at the house, we watched The Muppets and hung out with Jon’s dad for awhile.  He always makes us choose what to have for dinner, even though we don’t have a preference and we hate choosing because they always treat us and we don’t want to pick something overly expensive. So I suggested we get burgers from the local burger joint and just chill at the house. They seemed cool with that, and I had another meal that wasn’t disappointing.

We went out geocaching again after dinner but got a late start due to having to come back to get a pen and picking up Drew. I thought getting more in the area would be easy, but we had a little trouble. The first one was under a bridge, but there was caution tape all over, so we weren’t sure about going in too far. We thought we saw something, but it would have involved reaching in and grabbing, and with all the creepy crawlies, I wasn’t doing that.  We found the next one, but it was dark by the time we tried the third one, which incidentally was also said to be a tough one. We looked all over and couldn’t find it, so we called it for Rose Hill geocaches, especially because this town is full of nanos, which are hard to find when it’s light out.  We stopped to watch a spider unspinning his web, which was actually a bit of a fascinating process, even though I’m not a fan of spiders.

Drew suggested we take a trip to Derby to get a Braum’s shake. A Braum’s chocolate shake is one of my favorite things. I should be glad we don’t have a Braum’s in MHK, because I’d be out of control with those things.  We took advantage of the extra trip and found three quick LCP caches to add to our list.  Before heading back, we stopped at Dillons for grapes and a package of pens for us to keep in the car so we have them on hand when we go out geocaching.

It’s been a long day and I’m sleepy. We’re talking of trying to get up early again tomorrow to hit some more caches, but not sure if it’s going to happen. Tomorrow is another long day, with a drive home, a Pathfinder game, and handing out con information at a Movies on the Grass event. Hopefully we’ll be home in time to get some good sleep for Monday morning, because I need to get a lot of stuff done this coming week.


The Smell of Snowmobiles

Today, I had a scent-memory moment on my way home from work. I was behind a vehicle that had the distinct smell of gas mixed with oil, and it made me remember snowmobiling when I was a kid.

I remembered riding snowmobiles on the acreage owned by various members of our family. I rode with my friends, my siblings, my cousins. I was young, but I could usually handle myself. Unless I got stuck, which happened a few times. Or unless I tipped the snowmobile, which happened a few times. But mostly it was just fun. I’d ride around the property, using the long trails to open it up and go faster.

When it was a family thing, we’d end it by watching movies or having a hot dog roast with hot cocoa and marshmallows. On holidays, we’d play games or cards afterwards, but even later at night we’d suit up and head out again for a night ride. I remember one of the coolest things to do was to be able to go riding with my dad and my aunts and uncles. I was a kid, so anytime I got to stuff with the grownups I was excited.

It wasn’t just the good memories that brought about the feels today, but it was also the realization that it wasn’t just summer that gave me great memories. Winter did, too. I just lost them over the years and in the scramble of all my other feelings for winter, mostly ones of hate for the cold, snow, and ice, and in seeing winter as the enemy.

Winter gave me a lot of things to love: snowmobiling, hockey, sleepovers with friends (I remember more winter ones than summer ones) a chance to cool off during college parties. Even remembering snowy nights at college where I stood outside smoking with friends gives me a happy feeling of nostalgia.

I don’t hate winter anymore. Sure, I complain about the snow and ice when it stresses me out while driving, and I’m known to swear at the cold (though I could help that if I’d break down and wear a hat and gloves). But in the past few years I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of it and the natural order of time that brings the season.

And being able to remember the past happiness winter gave me makes it that much easier.

Snow Days and Technology

The end of a year is drawing near, so inevitably I feel the need to brush off my blog and start rambling again to anyone who’s still listening. Considering I always say I like to write and blog, you’d think I’d do it more frequently.

Now, at 11pm at night, I have the urge to update, an urge borne of sleeplessness resulting from an afternoon nap and too much Mountain Dew. This is what I get for ignoring consequences. And while others are waiting for the end of the world (which may or may not happen in an hour…and I’m leaning heavily towards may not), my topic is way less exciting.

Today, I took a snow day.

Since I haven’t blogged here in awhile, I should mention…in case I haven’t already…that J. Felbs and I moved at the beginning of summer to a small town about twenty minutes away from where we work and go to school. The commute hasn’t been bad and I like living in a small, quiet town much more than living in the louder college town. However, winter weather was something we knew we’d eventually have to tackle.

Snow came through last night and it had already been determined that if roads were bad, people could use their judgement to stay home. And I started thinking about how things have changed between now and when I used to work and go to school in Michigan. Some of it has to do with my age, some of it with the fact that I’ve passed some time in an area that doesn’t get as much snow as the UP. Some of it has to do with technology.

Back then, I’d listen for the weather report on the TV or radio. If school wasn’t called off or work closed, I just went, braving the roads, driving slowly without a cell phone, walking carefully on the ice. Sure, I’d complain about it all day long, but there never seemed to be another option unless I wanted an absence (school) or loss of pay and an irate manager and co-workers (job).

Now, I can get online and check the weather and the road conditions. I can message and email friends to see how the roads are. I can read other Tweets in the area to gauge what’s going on. If I venture out, I’m armed with my cell phone, and I text when I leave and when I arrive so friends and family know I’m safe. If applicable, I can work from home.

Which is what I did. And it worked out okay, but it felt weird. When we lived in the larger town, a snow day wasn’t a huge issue since everything was only five minutes away. But this morning I was scared to drive the twenty minutes on the highway without doing all kinds of research on what was going on out there. Even after I got several pieces of informational feedback, I waited for it to get light and then I tried to venture out only to be thwarted by the ice on the outside stairs. While there was a time when this too would have been defeated, it got the best of me. I went back in, turned on the computer, and proceeded to take full advantage of the joys of technology and telecommuting.

I’ve seen memes and posts that insinuate how much better people were for surviving those times without internet and cell phones, and of course I “Like” them or “Retweet” them if they’re particularly clever. I’ve been known to get my own pretentious on about living in Michigan where a little snow never frightened us, not like it does down here where people aren’t “one with the snow.”

But to be completely honest, I like the current way of things. I like having all the info, I like the security of having my cell phone with me wherever I go, and I like knowing that I can work offsite and still be productive when it’s needed. I know not everyone has that with their job, but even taking into account the access to more information and the ability to make better decisions about staying or going is definite progress from the early morning weather updates and school closing lists from my youth.

I do hope, however, to be able to get out tomorrow, because I haven’t progressed enough to beat cabin fever.

Apartment Update

Things have finally settled down for the most part, which means that they’ve also become really boring. I still have stuff to do, but I have no exciting blog topics. Which hasn’t stopped me before, so that’s no excuse for avoiding it.  While I have no pictures at press time, I thought I should give an update on the new apartment.

The Commute – While I made an issue about the commute being a huge adjustment, it really hasn’t been that bad. In hindsight, it’s about the same as it was in OKC but with less traffic. Though neither J. Felbs nor I are a huge fan of getting up early, we’ve managed to make it part of our routine and I manage to get to work on time.*  

The Finances – The new place has brought about some new expenses. After three years of having utilities be part of the rent, we now have to pay them separately. Because of the commute, we’re also spending more in gas, and my car insurance went up a little bit (though we went ahead and paid for the full six months, so that’s saving us some in the long run). Our internet is also more expensive, and this is probably the thing that irritates me the most because it’s not very good. We were paying less in MHK for faster and more reliable internet. But gripe as I may, I knew there was that possibility. It was, in fact, one of the things we thought about before the move. So while we reserve our right to complain, I wholeheartedy realize that we did make the choice and knew what we were getting into. 

We’re saving money in other areas, so it seems to be working out. We’re cooking at home most nights of the week and taking our lunches most days. I’ve been meal planning and grocery listing again, and we’re getting our money’s worth out of our shopping trips, especially with Aldi and the Sara Lee bread outlet as our main grocery stores. We’re also not required to have renter’s insurance in this place, and while it’s something we’re going to look at for the future, right now it’s not an expense we have to worry about.

The Not-So-Great Stuff – Beside the internet, there are a few other things that are a little harder to get used to. Being social has been a little challenging because it’s harder to wait around in town for things to start. Likewise, J likes to game a couple nights a week, and since it’s not fair for him to give up the things he likes to do, I’ve had to be creative in what I do with my free time. This really isn’t all that bad. It gives me the chance to get in an extra gym session or some reading time at Hastings. But it does take extra planning and we often don’t get home until late on these “social” nights.

As far as things in the apartment, one of my biggest personal challenges is the shower. The first time I used the shower in the new place I thought I was going to need medical attention. The water went hot and I almost slipped in the super slick bottom of the tub. We’ve since bought bath mats and I’ve learned how to handle the water changes, but it’s still annoying when the shower randomly goes scalding hot or ice cold. I also haven’t been able to set the water at a comfortable temperature, so most of my showers end up being kind of cool, which is good in the summer, but when winter hits I’m going to have to make a deal with the warm water spirits or something.

Finally, the Good Stuff – All the negatives and challenges don’t counter the fact that I really do love our new place. It’s quiet and comfortable. I like being on the second floor and being able to actually see the sun or the rain or the thunderstorms. I have a real kitchen and a real bathroom (one in which the toilet is not stuffed into a cubby hole). I have space to move around. Putting things on the walls and making it “homey” probably helped too. It also makes me think of my grandparents’ vacation home in Michigan where I’d spend time during the summer when I was a little girl. I couldn’t tell you what that house looked like, but this apartment makes me feel like I’m there again.

While I condensed the good stuff to one paragraph and stretched the other stuff into three, I still think the good stuff outweighs the bad, and I’m happy with our decision to move.

*There was one instance where my alarm didn’t go off, but that may have happened no matter what my proximity to work is. In fact, it has. Several times.

Ode to a Woodchuck

Okay, this isn’t actually going to be an ode or a poem or anything creative. I just wanted to post a picture of this bottle of Woodchuck Hard Cider (Granny Smith). This was the first of a six pack. I have three left and plan on actually drinking them before they go skunky, something I sometimes forget to do when I buy alcohol.

Woodchuck reminds me of Michigan, but I don’t remember ever drinking it in Michigan. If I did, I never went through a phase. There were other phases: Amaretto and Coke, Amber Bock, Triple sec and OJ, anything with grenadine added. Malibu. But Woodchuck didn’t happen for me until I moved to Oklahoma, and then it only happened once.

I’m still not going through a phase. I just picked this up for drinks and gaming with friends. But that nostalgia is still there. I don’t know where the connection comes from, but I’m loving it. Definitely worth a six pack of good feelings.