Friday, December 10, 2010

Well, I suppose today's highlight was the free pizza dinner I got as a staff member for the UB Post. It was our end-of-semester celebration; pretty low-key but nice because I got to meet some of the other production members for the first time (including the editor-in-chief, who organized it for us. I was hired by the production manager just before the last issue was put out so I didn't see much of everyone else).

I went to the shelter today for the first time as a full-fledged volunteer, too. I only got to spend about an hour and a half there, because I got a late start, but hopefully I brightened up a few kitties' days with some pets. I felt kind of bad because there was one that I took to another room to play with, and he was too scared to come out of his carrier. I still pet him too though. I hope he liked it at least a little better than being left alone.

I feel like I should go back a couple days too and write some highlights, mostly because I want to write about Wednesday. I went to the library that afternoon and posted some pics of 100 Elvises weekend on facebook; while I was doing so, fb must have published some to the newsfeed (even though I told it not to -- probably because I'd tagged myself in some of them) and a friend/former roommate whom I haven't talked to in a bit IMed me and we talked for awhile. He started by telling me how I looked pretty in my red dress (in the new pics). I thought it was sweet of him.

Also, that night was the last class session for my poetry class, so we had a sort of celebration at school, then a fairly large group of my classmates (myself included) went to a bar/restaurant just down the street afterward. I think it was one of the most fun nights I've had since being in Baltimore. A lot of my classmates are really cool and fun to talk to. And I got to know several of them a little better that night (thanks in part to liquid courage, haha).

Thursday yielded a few highlights as well; after work Maureen and I went to the MICA art market (I only bought one print, but it was fun to look at everything) then to an art supply store that I hadn't been to previously but is my new favorite, I think. I got some Mod Podge, a new sketch book and a roll of contact paper, which I've been wanting for awhile (and which is now apparently called "Protecto Film"). Afterward we shared a pizza from Joe Squared. I guess I just really love pizza.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I will spare you the excuses for slacking off yet again and get down to the highlights. I'll go back over this weekend at least, since some good stuff happened.

Friday I was sick with a cold. Not terribly sick but sick enough to not want to leave the house or change out of pajamas. I worked on my final project for creativity class most of the day. I also wrote a poem, had leftover General Tso's chicken and watched the wonderfully awful movie Point Break (or something like that -- Maureen had it). Where the highlight in that is, I'm not sure. Maybe the chocolate chip cookies I made after (just break and bake, but still delicious).

Saturday I was feeling better. It was Night of 100 Elvises day. The "Elvii" were fun; lots to see (including dozens of Elvis impersonators). Our friends Billy Woodward and the Senders played a fantastic set on the main stage, then played some more on the third floor where we discovered them and danced until 2am (when the last shuttle came). On the shuttle back to the hotel (where we parked) more music was played, and we walked into an Elvis karaoke dance party at the hotel lobby. We joined in on the dancing part of that for awhile, then got to hear the guys play some more music, acoustically, in their rooms upstairs.

Sunday my highlight occured at the "Mayor's Christmas Parade" in Hampden. It was SO COLD that day, yet the streets were packed with people and the parade was extraordinarily long (I really don't think we ever had a parade that long in Michigan). Candy was thrown -- I had a pocketful of Tootsie Rolls and other such treats by the time we left -- and many pictures were taken. But I think my favorite part was when a guy on one of the Christmas floats threw a stuffed snowman/bird sort of animal to me. I looked around after I picked it up to make sure I hadn't robbed any children of a new toy, then tucked it in my arm as my little friend. It seems silly and trivial, but I've been having a bit of a rough few days dealing with some emotional things (One being the death of a friend from home. We weren't close and I didn't know him that well, but he was always incredibly positive and kind and I regret not getting to know him better when I had the chance. The community has come together in a beautiful way to mourn him and it's hard not being able to take part in that). So having this sweet little stuffed toy given to me I guess meant more than it normally would have.

Today's highlight was my happenstance check of the Student Center site through UB. I figured while I was there I'd see if any spots had opened up in one of the classes I wanted to take next semester. Lo and behold, it had, so I registered for it. Also a sort of big deal because A) it was full before I even got the chance to register initially, and B) four more seats were added the following week and were full before I even read the email.

Another highlight was presenting/turning in my final project (which I was pretty proud of) and the gathering of classmates at Dionysus (a bar/restaurant down the street) afterward. I've tried to take advantage of opportunities to get to know my fellow classmates better, and I feel like the effort is paying off. Some of them are quite enjoyable to talk to.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh my, I've been slacking here. I have lots of excuses why-- the biggest perhaps being Jake coming to visit for a few days, during which too many fun things happened to just pick one per day (he bought me dinner Every Night he was here. EVERY NIGHT! I am a lucky girl). I tried out Cheesecake Factory, Dionysus, and Joe Squared, then revisited Mick O'Shea's and Turp's. We bought books, then got books for free at The Book Thing; visited the BMA, spent an afternoon in a local coffee shop, and checked out a couple events Saturday night before deciding to come home and watch The Big Lebowski.

He went home yesterday afternoon, so back to life as usual I guess. I need to buy my ticket to MI for December...

Anyhoo. Today's highlight was a return trip to Debois (I told you so...), where I did a bit of Christmas shopping and got myself a few goodies (and spent less than last time, too). I got a black belt for $1, a couple blazers for $2 each, and another skirt for $3.

Another highlight was my friend Emily's invitation to join her for Thanksgiving. I was supposed to be going to NYC with another friend, but they informed me Monday night that they were leaving Tuesday morning, not Wednesday like we'd originally planned (at least I thought). Jake was still here then, and I had to work (especially since I'm already losing hours for Thursday). So, three days before Thanksgiving, I suddenly had no plans. Plane and train tickets were both outrageously-priced, of course; I considered just taking the train into NYC on Wednesday and meeting up with them, but unless I wanted to leave at 4am, tickets were $98+, one way (4am was still $70).

Most of my other friends are going to their respective states for the break. Another friend, Regina, extended a possible invitation, under the condition that her uncle would allow two more friends to come (she wouldn't know until tonight), and my friend CJ invited me to her place even though they aren't celebrating, exactly. But my friend Emily came through today and said they'd love to have me join them. She's even coming to pick me up beforehand. The day is saved!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today's highlight was the vintage clothing shop at Debois Textiles. I saw an ad in the City Paper for it, and so this morning, instead of being responsible and doing homework and such, Maureen and I went and spent almost three hours (and too much money) shopping for dresses and other such goods. I found a (red) dress for Night of 100 Elvises, and a few other things (like a pair of red and blue Chuck Taylors for $5). Among Maureen's treasures were a new velvety coat, a crinoline skirt, and some scarves.

The back of the building is just an open warehouse, with huge boxes (sorted into groups like skirts, sweaters, women's blouses, men's shirts, and an "ethnic/hippy mix") that you just root through. And it's all super cheap -- most of the boxes were labeled $3-$6. But beyond that were piles and piles (and piles) of clothes that they hadn't even gone through yet. We just wanted to dive into them. Instead, I guess we have to wait until they go through them and put them out on the floor.

We really shouldn't go back anytime soon. But we probably will.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I don't much have the heart for thinking of a daily highlight right now, but I guess that's all the more reason to come up with one.

This weekend was a pretty good one, spent in the company of good people. There was just some family drama going on behind the scenes that's been getting to me a little. I really can't stand it when people aren't fully honest and won't say what they mean and what's really going on. Just lay it all out on the table and stop nitpicking with details. My brother and especially his wife are making waves with one half of the family and as much as I don't care to be part of it, I'm trying to remain the neutral center. I'm learning that this is impossible. Maybe I'm trying too hard to be the mediator. The two sides just seem to be on different wavelengths though, and I almost feel like I need to be the interpreter. You'd think after seven years this would be over.

But back to my highlight. I guess today's highlight was, coming home from lunch with my friend Jon and one of his friends, when I decided to stop into a thrift store I've never been to. It turned out to be amazing, and full of fantastic dresses and other finds (most of which weren't terribly priced). I texted Maureen about it and she joined me there, where we browsed the dresses (me for the second time) and I showed her what I'd found. I ended up spending more than I should have, but I got two new dresses, one of which was only $5 (but has a strap I need to repair) and a pair of fingerless winter gloves. I put two more dresses on hold, which I really shouldn't go back for, especially since none of the dresses (including what I bought today) is quite what I wanted for The Night of 100 Elvises, but... I've had a thing for dresses lately, and now that I'm here in Baltimore I have events to wear them to (thanks largely to Maureen and her affinity for finding fun events to go to, especially rockabilly-related).

So, today's highlight: new dresses. The weekend's highlight: all the cool people I spent it with.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today's highlight was when Jake finally bought his plane ticket to come visit next week. One week!

This once a month visiting is hard. I'm glad he was able to come still, even after the house fire. He had to postpone buying the ticket and wasn't sure for a bit if he'd be able to come at all. But he can, and is, and in about a month I'll be going to MI for a few weeks over Christmas break.

Today I also spoke briefly via text with my brother and my other brother (who is actually Jake's brother) and registered for classes. One of the three classes I wanted was already full, but I haven't given up on it yet. Even if I don't get in, I guess it'd be okay.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Yesterday, two great things happened. One, I went to court for my second parking ticket. I took the bus and got there on time, with no trouble (also discovered that this particular bus stops at a Wal-mart and at the Baltimore Sun offices. Never know when these places could be useful). Somehow on my court summons it stated that I'd requested an officer be present, even though I did no such thing. So I was praying that it'd be a situation where the officer didn't show and my case would be dismissed. For this reason I was particularly nervous about the whole thing, because I could just imagine him showing up randomly that day.

He didn't. I got a "not guilty" and all fines ($52, which is a lot when you're in college) dismissed.

On a side note, I was really amazed by the number of people who didn't show up for their court date. Especially when their fines would've been dropped if they had. They do all the officer-presence cases first and none of the officers were there.

All in all, I was at the court house for about 20 minutes -- made it home in time to eat before work at 1130.

The second thing, the even better thing, was deciding randomly to call up Nick. I haven't really talked to him much since I moved out here, though I did see him on my trip to MI for Jeff and Cari's wedding back in mid-October. He's one of my best friends, and I've been pestering him occasionally via facebook about the goings-on in his life, though I guess everyone else has too, with the fire and whatnot. He was at the Scottish Inn with some mutual friends when I called him, but we ended up talking for about half an hour anyway, about whatever. Made me miss hanging out with him, but he said to let him know once I have my dates for MI over Christmas, because he wants to make sure he takes some days off of work so we can hang out. I thought that was cool.

I got a brief conversation with Scott somewhere in the middle since he was there too.

We both (Nick and I) agreed that we should talk more often. And if I have to initiate conversation, I'm okay with that. I know how Saginaw people are. :P

Monday, November 8, 2010

Highlight for the day Sunday (yesterday) is a little different. The whole weekend was a good one; Saturday Maureen and I went to Target for some shopping, then to the animal shelter to pick up her new kitty (which they spayed as part of the $30 adoption fee). That night was the last showing of The Laramie Project, which was also the actors' best performance, I think. Following that was a cast party that the director arranged at a local cafe -- a private event for cast and crew with delicious food and wine, all at no expense to us.

Sunday was my first day off from everything in weeks; thanks to daylight savings, I had an extra hour to enjoy it. I eventually moseyed on down (well, up) to a new(ish) coffee shop called the Bohemian Coffee House; it's definitely worth returning to. I've been on a quest for a new coffee shop to sit and write at since I moved here, and this one seems to have an atmosphere close to what I wanted -- small and cozy without being too cramped; casual enough that I didn't feel like I should leave immediately after finishing my coffee. I spent about an hour there writing a letter to a family member, then took the bus up to a park to do an assignment, Andy Goldsworthy style, for my creativity class. My friend Dave came out and offered me company (not without occasional harassment, particularly when I wouldn't acquiesce to making a map of Saginaw out of the objects I gathered). This was followed by a trip to The Book Thing (like I need another book, ever) and dinner at Subway.

But the highlight of my day was actually a story that Jake told me when I talked to him on the phone later that night. He and his housemates just lost their home in a fire, and Steamer's (a bar in Saginaw that we frequent [me not so much anymore]) along with the help of some other Saginaw locals, threw a benefit party in Jake's, Scott's, Nick's, and Jason's honor. Apparently the turnout was much better than expected and the guys were given enough money to cover the deposit and first month's rent on their new place (which their new landlord, after reading of their situation in the newspaper, offered them first choice on despite the other people interested in viewing it). Not to mention furniture -- at least one bed, a TV, a couch... It was amazing, both to hear about the turnout and to hear how moved Jake was by everyone's generosity and support.

But the best part for me was regarding something one of the housemates did for another. My friend Scott lost the most in the fire -- his furniture, TV, x-box, and record and DVD collections were all in the living room, where the fire consumed the most. He also lost his laptop. He's a writer, and an artist, and of course had most of his work saved on the laptop with no alternate back-up anywhere.

This is said laptop.

I can imagine, as a writer myself, how devastated I would be if I lost years of work (as it is, I should probably work out a better backup system myself). From what I'm told, Scott got pretty depressed and left the house, giving up on the DVDs, records, etc. Jason went back over there and sorted through some of the records and DVDs for him -- turns out those things are more durable than one would think, especially when still inside their plastic cases.

But the best part is this: At the benefit, the four guys were gathered around a table at Steamer's (forgive me for not knowing whether all these details are completely accurate; I'm recreating this from a phone conversation) and Nick was offering up a toast. He said something like, "I'm really glad that we all still have our laptops, and that we didn't lose anything."

Scott said, "Except for me."

Nick continued, "It would be a shame to lose any of our work or anything we had saved, so I'm really glad we didn't."

Scott said, "Nick, I don't have mine, can we skip this part."

But Nick carried on as I can imagine, saying something like, "Hold on, I'm not done yet." He finishes his speech in some (probably ridiculous) fashion, and Scott is probably properly depressed again... At which point Nick presents Scott with his completely functional laptop hard-drive (or at least the data taken from it). Nick had taken the laptop apart at some point, retrieved the hard drive, tested it and discovered that it was undamaged. Scott didn't lose his work after all.

I just really wish I could have been there to see Scott's reaction. I understand it was joyous.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today's highlight was the energy of the Laramie Project cast before tonight's show. Everyone was happy, everyone was ready, everyone was feeling that nervous energy. As the assistant stage manager (and Cheez-It supplier, according to my friend Dave [who's on lights]) I don't get to interact with the cast too much off-stage -- though a couple of the ladies have been incredibly sweet and welcoming (the whole cast has been very friendly), and my stage manager Susan is amazing to work for. But tonight there was a stronger sense of... unity, maybe, of community. Or maybe I just felt more included in it. Anyway, before the show I had conversations with at least two more of the cast members in particular -- just the basic stuff, you know, where they're from, what they're doing -- but I like connecting with people like that. I mean, I suppose we're still just acquaintances, for the most part, but nonetheless.

That kind of happened yesterday too. Another cast member and I walk home along the same route for a couple blocks. It gave us a chance to talk last night and tonight (for whatever reason, I guess we'd never left rehearsal at the same time before then). I found out that she's an artist who manages to support herself without a "real job" (though she teaches painting classes from time to time). She lived in MI (where I grew up) for a few years too.

I'm hoping I manage to keep in touch with some of them, somehow, after the show's over.

One night down, two to go.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Today's highlight was -- well, there are a couple, but the first one was the library book sale. I work for the library on campus and every year they have a book sale. I volunteered to help set up this morning (at 10am, which I sort of regretted after having stayed up past 2am). But it was worth it. The book sale wasn't especially big, and was mostly a weeding of the business and social sciences sections, but there were some good "miscellaneous" books and a bit of literature.

Now since moving here to Baltimore in August I've acquired well over 80 new (used) books. Between The Book Thing and the book festival in September, it's been easy to get good books for cheap. But being an English major, I can't help but acquire more when the opportunity arises. Today was an opportunity. By volunteering with setup, I got to have first dibs on the books I wanted even before the sale opened to the public. And I found this ridiculously interesting book published in 1927 by General Electric titled Electric Refrigerator Recipes and Menus. I don't even know why I find it so fascinating. It has little color pictures and talks about food prep and storage and why every house should have an electric refrigerator. It's quite charming.

I found some other good things too: a book by Roddy Doyle (the guy who wrote "The Commitments"), Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and Hemingway's Farewell to Arms, among others. I got a stir fry cookbook too, though the one other cook book I have I think I used all of once...

Anyway, the other highlight was talking to a new classmate on Facebook chat. I don't know him especially well but we got to talking about big things going on in our lives, and it seems that we've both made some pretty big changes recently. He's just moved out of his comfort zone, out of a long relationship and a life that he wasn't completely happy in, and is in essence starting over. And you know, it's really... encouraging, or refreshing, maybe, to talk to someone else who had the courage to go after what he wanted, to leave his comfort zone and risk the unknown because he wanted more out of life. Too many people I know, even among my friends, have allowed themselves to settle for lives that aren't quite what they want and I don't understand why. I couldn't do it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today's highlight was probably unexpectedly finding a check in the mail from the University for $2500. I mean, it was completely baffling. It is the exact amount of half my scholarship for the year, but if it is for spring, it shouldn't have come until February.

Maybe that's not that much of a highlight after all, because now I won't get that money in Feb. and I can't spend it now anyway.

So maybe the highlight was the banter back and forth over the headsets during rehearsal for Laramie Project tonight. I'm assistant stage manager, so I'm back stage next to the video tech guy, Anthony, who's also on a headset. My friend Dave, who's running lights in the booth at the back of the auditorium, on a third headset. I can't really recall the details of the conversation here, much less replicate it enough to make it humorous, but it was pretty difficult to stifle my laughing enough to not be heard offstage. Something tasteless involving a strange correlation between lesbians and umbrellas and Dave having several (umbrellas). Anthony always has a one-liner or a wisecrack, and Dave's just funny. Even the stage manager got in on it. It was refreshing to be around people with a real sense of humor, especially after meeting Carlos, who was out with the group Maureen and I met up with for Halloween last night. His idea of a funny story was his first time in a gay bar -- which could be a funny story, really, if the delivery was better. But I'll not pick on him; he was trying, I guess.

Anyway, yeah. Highlight of the day: fun(ny) new acquaintances/friends.
I'm going to try something different with this, I think. I clearly can't keep myself in a mindset where I update on any regular basis, because I let myself fall behind so much that it would take even longer or more frequent posting to catch up. A vicious cycle and such. So, I'm going to try and post a daily highlight each night, of something good that happened that day. Maybe not every night. But it will only require a paragraph or two (depending on how much I want to explain) instead of a recap. Maybe.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's become really difficult to get myself to write in here when I have so many other places I need to be writing. I'm half tempted to just start pasting in emails that I've sent to my mom and grandma so that I don't have to repeat everything I've been telling them.

I'm writing from Baltimore. The trip was fairly uneventful; even the cat traveled better than expected, without the kitty tranquilizers (I got a couple from the vet just in case). She stayed overnight in the room with us at an Econo-lodge in Ohio, too, without any trouble. The only casualty of moving has been a lamp with a glass-paned shade; two of the panes and two of the bulbs got broken (the third has since burnt out). I was able to super-glue the panes back together (though it's obvious where they cracked) and it seems to be holding just fine.

In lieu of my last post though, I am learning quickly -- mostly not from firsthand experience -- that the "good" and "bad" sections of Baltimore aren't so clearly defined as those of Saginaw. Each of the main neighborhoods seems almost to be an island of "good area" with a moat of "bad area" surrounding (though it still holds true that West Baltimore is to be avoided).

The city and my lack of acquaintances in it have both done wonders for my sense of autonomy though. I used to do things on my own fairly often in Saginaw (I hesitate to say "back home" now, because in a strange way it feels like I can't go back there, and so Baltimore is "home" now) -- I'd go to the mall, or the coffee shop, or the library, etc. But I'd never taken a city bus by myself, for example (actually, I never took a bus anywhere in Saginaw. Their public transportation system left a lot to be desired). And I've done a fair amount of exploring on my own here (though M, my roommate, has been tremendously helpful in showing me where things are). I've spent a lot more of time on my own, period. Especially the first couple weeks, before I met anyone. Being alone in a strange new place adds a whole other level to it all.

I've caught myself once or twice while reading friends' updates on facebook forgetting for just a split second that it isn't 5 or 10 minutes to get to the Saginaw mall or coffee shop now. The flight from here to there isn't especially long or expensive, but there's a lot more planning involved in a visit than before.

It's kind of hard sometimes to read updates and to know that their lives are carrying on without me -- game nights, bar nights, etc. But my life is carrying on without them, too. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that if I could just bring two or three of them with me... but I know that's unrealistic. I can only hope that despite the distance we can keep in touch, and maybe visit once in awhile.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My new friend Katie (who I met through Maureen) and I went rollerblading today; she took me to a park called Centennial Park that has a trail around a lake. It was something like 3 miles around, we figured... we went all the way around, but it was exhausting, especially since it was so hot. She has a pool though, in her back yard, and she told me to bring a suit so we could swim afterward. And we did. Very refreshing.

I had my second class tonight, a poetry workshop. We didn't do any actual writing tonight but we talked about some stuff related to poetry, and the professor gave us this assignment where we drew three "first lines" out of a cup and we have to write poems about them. My lines were "Another word for father is worry," "No matter how many times I try," and "I am going to carry my bed into New York City tonight." I don't know what I'm going to do with any of those yet.

The other night after I got out of my first class I was walking to Starbucks, and this guy (not a creeper, just a normal guy) driving down the road next to me rolled down his window and said, "This is like the fifth time I've seen you today! Are you in the MFA program?" I was like, "Yes, I am," and he said that he is too, a second year, and that he'd seen me by the building a bunch of times (I didn't recognize him, but I couldn't see him too clearly because it was getting kind of dark and he was in his car). He introduced himself, said he was sure he'd see me around and drove off. Well yesterday I got an email from him -- it turns out he runs the UB Theatrical Society (which I'd signed up to get info about at orientation) and wanted to know if I would be interested in an officer position. He said he liked to have another MFA person in the secretary position because they would have similar schedules and could meet to discuss meetings, projects, etc. more easily. He offered to buy me coffee or lunch one day so we could talk more about it. Could be a good thing to have on a resume if I decide to do it.

Tomorrow I work at the library 11-3 then I have Friday through Monday off since Monday is Labor Day. There's talk of a trip to a swimming quarry on Saturday (Katie and Maureen are going) but other than that I don't know what I'm going to do, except probably hang out with Jon a bit. And do homework and maybe a bit of grocery shopping.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Once again I've managed a long hiatus of posting. So, a quick update: Baltimore was lovely, at least the part that the university is located in (and surrounding areas). It seems similar to Saginaw in that there's a "good side" (in Baltimore's case, the east side) and a "bad side" (the west -- lots of boarded up buildings and windows with bars on them). Jake and I spent a lot of the three days walking around and taking down numbers for places, which turned out to be fruitless. It also turns out that most of the people who post on Craigslist (or at least the ones located in Baltimore) fail miserably at communication, whether via email or telephone. Finally last week I found a place that's reasonably priced and in a good location with a landlord who actually knows how to respond to both email AND telephone calls. My new roommate (a fellow UB student) and I turned in our applications last week; hopefully we get good news soon.

Also, I quit my job July 9th, having decided to postpone my move date to July 17th. Well, the 17th has, of course, come and gone, but I'm still in Michigan because I had nowhere to go. Looks like the move date will be about August 1st after all. I've got some money saved up, and got my last paycheck from work just today, so I've got nothing to worry about in the meantime. Everything's packed, sorted into what's staying here and what's going with me (for the most part) and now I'm just waiting.

Friday, May 14, 2010

First visit to Baltimore starts a week from Sunday. I'm starting to get excited; I'll finally get to see the city that I'll be spending the next three years of my life in. Despite a few less-than-favorable reports online about the crime etc., I've been hearing only good things about it the from people I've talked to. I've done some searching on Craigslist for housing, and this week I'll probably search a little more and get into contact with some people. While I'm there I'm also going to tour my campus and register for classes finally... I'm trying really hard not to wish away my summer, because there are a lot of people that I love here and will miss terribly, but I'm really anxious to start this new chapter of my life.

In other news, I'm scheduled 26 hours at work next week. I also picked up a couple shifts this week to bring my hour total to 20. Much better. Not exceptional, but livable. Ha, my friend Jake and I spent last Saturday night rolling coins from my change bank (not the whole night-- we went out for dinner and such too) and stopped once we had $100 worth. That wasn't even all of it, so my change bank, while much more meager-looking, is not empty. I cashed the rolls in and tucked the cash away for the trip. I'll need more than that, of course, but it's a start.

I went and visited my mom Wednesday, a late Mother's Day visit, since I worked Sunday. I hadn't been sure what to get her (I've been really bad about gifts for parents/relatives for birthdays/holidays, and I'm trying to remedy that. I feel like I haven't been very good at showing people my appreciation for them). Tuesday night I went out looking for beads for her Pandora-type bracelet, since she's only got like two on there. Holy cow, those beads are expensive! The brands I found that were not Pandora started at $10. Ten dollars, for a single bead! They weren't even anything special. I couldn't justify spending that much, especially when they were just colored beads, so I went to JoAnn Fabrics to look at the beads they had there. Cheating, perhaps, since their glass beads are like $3-$4. Didn't see one I liked there either, but I did find some silver spacers with loops on them, and I thought, I could attach some crystal beads of mine and my siblings' birthstones to them for her bracelet-- then she'd get three beads instead of just one, and they'd be more meaningful.

In true procrastinator style, I stopped Wednesday morning, on my way to see her, to get the individual beads (the bead store was already closed Tuesday night when I started my mission anyway). Then I sat in the parking lot after I bought them and attached them to the silver spacers. I don't know why I didn't just do it in the store, as they had work stations; guess I felt weird about it.

Well, after all that trouble, it turns out the silver spacers were just a touch too small to fit on her bracelet anyway, because hers is leather instead of metal, making it a little thicker than I thought. Grumble. She was still thrilled with them (as moms always are with presents from their kids, it seems :P), and said she could just get a chain to string them on as a necklace. She already has so much jewelry though... Ah well. In my travels I discovered that the bead store also has Pandora-type beads. Though that doesn't really help me now, as her birthday is the next big event and that's not til November. I'll be gone by then.

I suppose I could just not procrastinate so much. I doubt that will change though.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The sinking ship that is my job is filling with water faster than I thought it would. I was made to sign a paper last week saying that I'd resign from my merchandising position once they found a replacement. Well, my replacement starts next week, which means I get to spend my last two months in MI as a part-timer. My health insurance runs out at the end of the month, and this pay period was my last for earning PTO.

On top of that, I was scheduled 12 whole hours next week. I emailed my boss, telling him that I absolutely cannot live on 12 hours, and reminded him that I can't really find another job on account of the fact that I'm leaving in two months (several friends/family members have since informed me that I shouldn't have let them know when I was leaving. I realize that now, but it's a little too late). To my surprise, he's actually trying to help me out; he called today and offered me a Sunday shift. I'm still going to have to roll up and cash in all the change I've been saving, but at least maybe I won't have to move back to my parents for my last couple months in MI.

Speaking of which, my unofficial move date is July 10.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The lightened load at work has turned out to last longer than I thought it would. In some ways, this is nice -- "more time to be creative," as my friend Jake says. And he's right, but on the other hand, with about 10 hours less per week than I'm used to, I'm taking a 30% cut on my paychecks. I still have bills to pay, and I'm trying to save what money I can for moving.

The problem is that they've restructured the managerial hierarchy at my store and my position is no longer full-time with benefits. I was grandfathered in because they didn't want to demote me, but in essence they're slowly doing just that. As of January first I was no longer guaranteed full time hours (though the last GM [who transferred to another store] was pretty good about giving them anyway) and as of June I'll no longer earn PTO. So it's pretty much a sinking ship. Good thing I'll be jumping ship soon.

I've started going through my stuff here at the house, attempting the daunting task of sorting it into three categories: what I want to take with me, what I want to store at my parents' house for the next three years, and what I want to just get rid of. And a lot of things fall into the grey area. For example, a tote of scrap fabric: do I bring it with me and anticipate that I'll have the time/desire to do sewing projects? I'm bringing my sewing machine, of course, for practical reasons. And my books: do I only bring the ones I haven't read? Only enough to fit on my bookshelf? Or should I leave the bookshelf and buy another once I get to Baltimore (since I'm going to need another anyway, whenever I settle down)? Three years is a long time. I know I'll be coming back to Michigan periodically, and that if there's anything I can't live without I can get it then... I think I just hate packing and unpacking. I am getting rid of a few things altogether (like some of the endless supply I call my wardrobe). It might help me make a few extra bucks for moving. EBay, here I come...

One thing that's had me in a pretty cheerful mood the last few days though is a story I started writing on Saturday. I finished a draft on Monday and started typing it up; I'd say it's probably the longest completed story draft I've ever done. I'm afraid, though, that it might turn into a novel. I don't want it to be a novel. It's a lot harder to get people to read a novel than it is a short story; they don't publish novels in literary magazines.

Don't get me wrong, one of my life goals is to write a novel. But maybe after I've made some kind of name for myself.

I'm probably worrying needlessly; the whole thing will probably only be 15-20 single-spaced pages completed. I just hope the people reading it are as absorbed as I was when writing it. It's nice to take a break from poetry; I'm going to be writing a lot of that once school starts.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Things have looked up significantly since my last post. Snapped mostly out of whatever "funk" I was in, so to speak. My work schedule is less hectic, and I finally got paid for all those hours. I also got some good news which cheered me. The first being that they chose me for one of the three scholarships, which I learned yesterday morning when I checked my email (a good start to my day) and then today I was informed that a friend of mine who also applied to the UB MFA program and got accepted, has decided after all to attend. So now I will know someone out there in Baltimore; he and his wife will be moving too. I kind of wonder if the people in the program realized how similar our applications were. He and I both went to SVSU and were involved with Cardinal Sins (though he was editor for a semester; I only ever worked on staff) and he works at the press I intern for.

Nonetheless, I have to let that sink in: I'm one of three scholarship recipients for an MFA program in creative writing and publishing, based in part on a portfolio of poetry that I wrote. I guess this counts as validation as a writer (slash publisher).

And the weather yesterday and today was basically as perfect as could be and I got to spend time in it. Went clothes shopping yesterday; had a mudslide and finished a good book today, then took a walk around the neighborhood and had a late lunch with a new friend. Hopefully inventory tonight at work (7pm-3am) doesn't put a damper on my otherwise-good day (anymore than would be expected, anyway, since it is work). Tomorrow's a day off and I've got a couple easy shifts for the weekend before another day off Monday. Good stuff.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I've gotta get out of this place

I woke up this morning feeling strange. My window was open, the sun was shining, the fresh air was blowing in and I didn't have anywhere I had to be (until work this afternoon at 330). These things would usually cheer me, but this morning they didn't. I don't know why, but it all made me feel sort of weary. I think sometime during the night my mind inadvertently moved these things into the category of "tiresome things that happen over and over." The same coffee shop I come to write at with the same people. The same increasingly-awful job that I've had for nearly six years (but with no sort of seniority that I can see; I work six days in a row, starting today, including all day Easter. And the pay isn't particularly great: my raise last year - for the whole year - was a staggering 16 cents). I know I should be grateful for the hours and whatever, but last week was hellish. I despise being given a day's worth of tasks and not being given the time to do them, and that happened four days in a row last week (it seems whoever is forecasting our business trends is terrible at it).

It seems like I'm running out of things to look forward to. I've stumbled into writer's block; the last book I read, while good, was uninspiring, and the book of poetry I started this morning reminds me of all the things I hate about poetry. I guess I've thought of various things to talk about, but nothing I know how to make a good story out of. Maybe I should move early and get to the shell-shock now. Maybe it will eliminate this weary boredom. UB has offered me enough financial aid (mostly in the form of student loans) to live off of without having to work for the year, but I don't want to do that. I have a dream of someday being debt-free. I'm waiting to find out whether I get the scholarship I applied for (should know by next week) so I can plan accordingly. In the meantime I've got to figure out how to get myself out of this funk.

Monday, March 29, 2010

So I've been coming upon this problem that sounds a little ridiculous. I think I may actually have too many friends. Case in point: Saturday night. I had, I think, four different options for how to spend my evening: my roommate was having people over, another friend was having a gathering in Bay City, a third set of friends were going out to Applebee's for drinks, and a final friend was coming up from Detroit (my Detroit friend got priority, since I see him the least). It could've been a case of the "I have plans so everyone wants to hang out" syndrome, but don't get me wrong: it makes a girl feel pretty cool to have that many people requesting her company.

It also kind of results in feeling like I don't really have a set "group." I've got my high school friends, my college friends, my Saginaw/coffee shop/bar friends (some of the groups overlap). I do like being a floater, if that's what you'd call it. I think it results in me being a little withdrawn from people too - always somewhere else to be (well, not ALWAYS). I don't always get to put the time and effort into individual friendships because I'm trying to spend a little time with everyone. But I suppose I should enjoy it while it lasts, because come the end of summer I won't know a soul in Baltimore. I think I'm up to the challenge of meeting new people; I've gotten more outgoing in my years of forced interaction via customer service jobs. And the strongest friendships I've made here will hopefully carry across the distance, right? Here's hoping.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Note to self: Half Price Books. They have books, movies, music - even vinyl! I went to one in Columbus while visiting a friend there and loved it. Of course, no store in MI or MD, so I'm going to have to remember to look for it when I travel elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

routines, routines, routines...

A friend of mine just got a job with the DNR here in MI, and one of the conditions to her being hired is a physical fitness test. Now, on paper it sounds pretty easy - the standards are always lower for women, and it seems like I recall having to do more than they require during the gym fitness tests in high school. What I remember from the DNR requirements were like 10 push-ups, 30 sit-ups, a half-mile shuttle run in 5 minutes, and so on.

My friend called me the other night, worried, saying she couldn't do the 10 push-ups. She's generally more physically fit than I am, so it got me wondering how well I'd do in this test. Today I decided to try it myself. I stretched out, limbered up, all that - I used to take dance classes, so I remember a fair amount of stretches; it feels good to do them every once in awhile (since I can't seem to get into any kind of regular routine). Well, I had a heck of a time with the sit-ups (the stipulation was that your elbows had to touch your knees) - I made it to 21 and had to stop for a breather before fighting my way through the last nine. Yeesh! What's worse though, I couldn't even do one push up. Not one. They make you lower yourself so that your chest is three inches from the floor and I didn't have the strength to get down that far. Pathetic. So, now I feel like I need to incorporate some kind of upper-body conditioning into my daily routine. Ugh! Like I don't have enough to do in one day. I'm terrible at new habits; it took me countless years just to remember to take my vitamins (almost) every day. I don't do so well at routines either. Might have to start making myself lists so I remember everything. I'm pretty good at lists...

-write something
-submit/edit something
-learn/practice some scales on piano

There's just not enough time in the day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

so it begins...

My last blog kind of bit the dust along with Haloscan's commenting system - well, that, and I never updated it - so I'm trying again. Fresh start and all that. I'm hoping that I don't fall into my usual trap of writing about my day, falling behind for several days and trying to catch up, meanwhile days turn into weeks then months, then I get discouraged and give up altogether. It's a problem I have when trying to journal on paper, anyway.

So, here's day one. I just got into an MFA program in Baltimore; I live in Michigan. So, now I have an excuse to completely uproot and move across the country; I just have to figure out how to finance it. Commence job searching. What a joke. Craigslist and careerbuilder, while useful, aren't really the tools to find a job in my field, apparently. Hopefully school will be an avenue for that. I am a little nervous, as for the most part I've lived within a two-hour radius of where I am now for my whole life. But I've always been a bit of a wanderer, with some kind of strange mindset that I don't really have roots. Probably comes from living in a broken home and blah blah blah. I don't mind it I guess. It's been a dream of mine to go to the "big city" and start some kind of successful life there. Boy, is it easy to come up with excuses not to go, but I know if I don't get past that and make myself do it now, I might not ever, and end up stuck here resenting this town more and more. So I'm looking for jobs not in my field, but still a step up from what I've got now.

That's the biggest thing on my mind now, this looming change in my future. There are lots of little things there too, but I'll save them for future entries.