Saturday, July 31, 2010

When I was 17

I kept an online journal from 2005 to 2008, and it's a treasure trove of random adventures, rants, woe-is-me stories about boys I liked not liking me back, anxiety about getting into college, anxiety about taking AP tests... wow, lots of anxiety, period. Some of it was written by a girl I no longer recognize. Some of it aligns exactly with the way I feel today. This entry, from February 21, 2005, falls somewhere in between:

"I was wondering the other day how many times I have traveled the same path home and looked at all the same things as I drive by. I always notice these places when I pass them, for lack of anything better to look at, but it has never occurred to me to wonder how many times I have seen them in my life. I can only guess its in the thousands, or tens of thousands? I have no idea.

"In terms of time, it always feels like I'm changing, getting older and making progress toward something. I don't know what that is. But really, after all those trips back and forth between my house and different places, where am I except exactly where I started? What has really changed as a result of all those trips?

"When things change, they seem so monumental, but later on you realize that maybe really nothing has changed at all. Or, maybe what was new is now normal, and doesn't feel like a change. Maybe change is so constant that we never notice it; like every second we are irretrievably different and will never be the same as we were the last second. I don't feel any different than I did a month ago, but I am an entirely different person who has a month's worth of experiences more than my old self. Nothing amazingly important happened in that span of time, but I was probably affected in tiny ways by each and every thing I saw, heard, said or did.

"Life seems to not be about progress, but about maintenance. Like we all think, 'Hey, we've got a good thing going here, let's keep it up.' People fall into doing the same things every day, things that make some sort of difference, somewhere, and we just keep doing them because we're supposed to. How much do these things help? What are we helping? What good does micromanaging every little detail of life do? Wouldn't you be just as successful, and a lot more happy, by being equally driven but more laid back?

"There is so much unnecessary worrying, discussing, debating, arguing and who knows what else going on in this world. Personally, I have heard so much worrying about senior year stuff going on. I know people who are intensely worried about getting the right prom date, the right prom dress, the right person to walk down the graduation aisle with. In the end, senior year is about finishing high school and having that achievement. No date or dress or graduation escort will take that away, and it's stupid to worry about things like that.

"I used to worry so much about every little thing I did. I used to think I would die if I didn't graduate with a 4.0. I don't know if its just the effects of senior year, or an awareness that makes me realize that most things aren't worth worrying about, but I find these thoughts frequently in my mind: "Oh well;" "Good enough;" "It won't kill me." Maybe this is a descent into mediocrity, or maybe it's just a good shedding of anxiety. Really, how many times have I been in a situation where I actually thought I was going to die because of something? So many. And here I am, still alive."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This morning I was thinking about Legos. My big brother used to have a big tub full of them, and we would dump them all out onto the floor of his room and build stuff for hours. Well, he would build stuff, cool stuff, like helicopters and tanks. I mostly built towers (i.e. random, aimless stacks of Legos) and stables for my extensive My Little Pony collection. Hey, what I lacked in skill, I made up for in enthusiasm.

Anyway, even though my amateur Lego projects were mostly aimless, I always had a very specific idea of which piece I wanted to find next: a long, skinny, yellow piece with four dots, maybe, or a red, rectangular thingy. If I could only find that one piece, I could finish this darn stable for good. The My Little Pony herd would be happy.

You can see where this is going. I could never find the one piece I wanted. A giant pile of Legos on the floor is good for one thing: stepping on with your bare feet in the dark and causing you to strongly consider pawning your children off to the nearest band of gypsies. It is not ideal for building the Lego structure of your dreams.

I often found that as soon as I stopped looking for that one piece I wanted, I would come across it in my search for something else. Sometimes I was delighted and couldn't believe my luck. Others, I realized that an alternative had worked just as well in its place. But either way, it was only when I stopped looking for what I thought I wanted that the universe decided to give me exactly what I needed.

I'm a big fan of having plans, so I often need to remind myself to not fear life's interruptions, to not forsake its detours.

Focus is admirable, but the narrow-minded pursuit of one thing will blind you to the other possibilities. It's always a good idea to take a look around; perhaps a fresh look at where you've been will redirect where you're going.

(Excruciatingly posted from my Vibrant)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

They got me

Let's back up for a second.

I'm not on the forefront of technology. We've established this. If I have something that works perfectly well, I'm happy with it. I don't need, want or even care about getting a newer, cooler version of it.

But I was forced to.

I was on a Verizon family plan with my dad and my brother, and we were all happy with splitting the bill and keeping our costs down. No fancy-schmancy data plans or anything like that — just a modest number of calling minutes and unlimited texting, since I nearly gave my dad a heart attack about two years ago with a bill that was a little higher than usual. Like $150 higher. Allegedly.

But my brother lives in the Bermuda Triangle of the Eastside, somewhere between Kenmore and Redmond and the Twilight Zone. Verizon's wireless service there is sketchy at best, which is also how I would describe the cleanliness of my brother's bathroom. Using it is an experience of the near-death variety.

But I've also let some tile fungus grow every now and then, so I shouldn't talk.

When my brother finally let his phone — which was even more archaic than mine, if you can believe it — die a tragic, outdated-phone death in the washing machine, my dad decided it was time to switch carriers. T-Mobile's wireless coverage includes the Bermuda Triangle, according to my brother's roommates, so T-Mobile it was. This meant that we all had to get new phones.

That meant I had to pick one. And pay for one. Ugggggghhhhhhh.

My dad and I went to a T-Mobile store last week and perused. I was prepared to choose a simple phone with a QWERTY keyboard — gotta have my QWERTY — and be done with it. But my dad had heard a rumor that this T-Mobile store was hiding a brand-new phone in its locked cabinets, one that it hadn't even displayed yet. He had his heart set on this phone, maybe even solely because it seemed to be inaccessible.

The Millses love a good challenge.

I wanted to see the phone, too, before I chose mine. A girl can't let her dad have a cooler phone than she does, can she? So the sales guy let us play with it — the Samsung Galaxy S (also known as the T-Mobile Vibrant).

It was purty.

And then my dad decided to take this shenanigan a step further and ask the manager if we could wildly take advantage of some buy-one-get-one promotion T-Mobile had going and get one of these phones for free. The manager started sweating. Then he got all shifty-eyed. Then he asked, "Well, are you going to buy accessories?"

We got the deal. We did not buy accessories. Zing!

(That makes us sound just terrible. We would have gotten cases, but T-Mobile didn't even have them in stock yet. We'll be back, Shifty Eyes.)

So I have no idea what I'm doing with this phone. I've gotten the texting down. I've made a few calls. I managed to locate a McDonald's in Olympia via GPS this morning when I desperately needed something from the dollar menu. But there are so many features that I have no clue about.

Did I mention that it came pre-loaded with Avatar? Like, the whole movie? Just for no particular reason.

I see you, Neytiri.

I did absolutely no research on this phone and had never heard of it before walking into T-Mobile. I'm pretty happy with it, though, and this review from Google 24/7 seems favorable:
This the the best screen I've seen on a phone, period. That's coming from someone who has been using an iPhone 4's Retina Display for the past few weeks. Sure there are more pixels on the iPhone 4 (most of which I can't see) but the Galaxy's much larger four-inch, Super AMOLED display more than makes up for the lacking pixels. If you have any doubts, check out the Avatar video that T-Mobile includes with their phone. Not one person I've shown this to hasn't been blown away (expletives abound).
The best part is that even with unlimited data and unlimited texting, my share of the monthly wireless bill will be comparable to what it was with Verizon with no bells and whistles.

I just love it when these things work out.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Decisions, decisions

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Sometimes even if it is broken, I don't fix it. Take my laptop, for example. It died in February while I was in the middle of making lemon-thyme cakes. Luckily I had finished making the batter and just had to remember how to make the glaze (butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice — amazing combo, by the way), so I was actually more thrilled that I could finish making the cakes than I was upset that my laptop was dead.

I could have used my mom's computer to pull up the recipe, I guess. But somehow that seemed like a huge inconvenience back in February.

Anyway, that laptop survived four years of college. Hours of studying. Hundreds of hours of Facebooking. (Let's just be honest about the studying-to-Facebooking ratio.) When that tired screen turned black and refused to turn back on, I mourned for approximately seven minutes, stashed it in a closet and ate some lemon-thyme cakes.

Honestly, it helps to have freshly baked treats on hand when expensive electronics go to the light.

That old laptop — from 2005, mind you — is not worth fixing, and I'll buy a new one when I have the money and when I actually need a laptop (when I move out). But for now, I'm just fine using my mom's desktop computer. I'm that way with most things — I will use them and use them and use them until it's no longer practical or sane to do so, even if they're hopelessly out of date and uncool. If I don't absolutely need a new something-or-other, why buy one?

I used my first digital camera for about five years, and I only got a new one because the old one had to be held together with a rubber band. Oh yeah, and I used it with the rubber band for about a year, too.

My iPod is a mini. Not the new, super-thin kind. This one.

I still have my very first cell phone, which I've been known to reactivate if my current phone dies. Then I'm that girl with the clunky flip phone from 2003, back when having a camera phone was a novelty. While you're standing in line for your iPhone 4, I'm digging in the back of a drawer to find the trusty ol' clamshell.

I swear I'm not a hoarder.

But the granddaddy of them all, the ultimate manifestation of this charming combination of frugality and just plain refusing to care what people think about me, is my car.

I'm sorry, let me clarify: my minivan.

I've be rollin' in the family minivan for about 4 years now. I grew up with this periwinkle monstrosity — it was brand new when I was six years old. You may scoff at the mere idea of this ancient vehicle, but 1993 was a very good year, and this minivan is quite a gem. It came fully equipped from the Dodge dealer with the following:

- A cassette player
- Manual windows and locks
- A slider door (with a child-proof option on the lock)
- A radio that works sometimes
- Four tires
- An engine
- Power nothin'

Jealous? It gets better.

The windshield is cracked. A hubcap is missing. Sometimes pieces of the interior fall off and I'm not sure where they came from in the first place ("What's this plastic thing?"). There's a handle on the inside of the trunk that's broken and hangs in such a way that it will keep the trunk from closing unless it's turned juuuuust so. The driver's side door cannot be unlocked from the outside (this is a recent development) and WD-40 has no effect on its obstinance. Therefore, I enter my vehicle from the passenger's side. This can be embarrassing, but I think onlookers assume it's an OCD thing, and I'm clearly fine with being thought of as that weird OCD girl. I mean, welcome to my blog.

I would get the lock fixed, but I recently had $1,200 worth of repairs done to the whole rest of the van and I'm not too excited about going back to the repair shop again. (I will take this opportunity to mention that the repairman said he had never seen struts so worn out before. NEVER in his whole career. The distinction kind of made me proud, in a weird, wow-that-was-really-unsafe-to-be-driving kind of way. Don't try it at home.)

Despite all of its cosmetic flaws, I am now driving the Ferrari of minivans thanks to these repairs. That baby runs like a dream — a really bad dream, in which I am mistaken for a soccer mom at 23, but still a dream.

I've wanted to honor this vehicle, which I do adore, for a while now with a good bumper sticker, but I haven't taken the time to find the right one. Now is that time. Here are my options:

If this van were periwinkle, it would be a slam dunk. But I think it's a little boring.

Funny, but I am violently opposed to the offensive hyphen, random capitalization and poor composition of this one. For shame, bumper sticker designer.

I so wish this were actually true. I was not, am not and never will be cool. Please refer to the above paragraphs for proof.

This one, as you can see, is available in a 50 pack for your 50 closest minivan-driving friends. I sense doom here.

Speaking of doom...???

This one would be funny just to mess with people. And also to cheat in the HOV lane.

I take that back. As a compulsive rule-follower, I believe there is a special place in hell for people who cheat in the HOV lane. Yes, even for you. Don't do it.

Nothing felt quite right with these bumper stickers, but just when I was about to give up, I found what may be the perfect one:
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