Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

1. Today is my birthday.
2. I'm 30 years old.
3. I usually don't make a big deal about my birthday and don't tell people about it.
4. But I always secretly wish that others will make a fuss about it.
5. I've never had a surprise party, but I've always wanted one.
6. I love surprises.
7. I thought I would have accomplished more by this age.
8. I thought I'd feel like a grown up by this age.
9. I've been in Madison for a week and still don't know a soul here.
10. Making friends gets a lot harder when you get older.
11. I'll probably spend my birthday getting a parking permit, making envelopes for a craft swap, reading, and tracking down the birthday surprise that my parents planned. I think it's flowers, but I'm not really sure. They gave me directions to an address, a person's name at that address, and a window of time when I have to be there.
12. I'm 30 years old and my face is completely broken out. I know it's from stress and travel and not drinking enough water. But I'm still really annoyed that at this age, I still have pimples.
13. I'm 30 years old and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Or maybe I do, and I feel like it's too late.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Welcome to Wisconsin!

So I've made it to Madison. I actually arrived on Wednesday afternoon, but just got my Internet connection hooked up this morning. My apartment is nice, although a bit narrow and in need of some TLC. My mother said that they used to call these "railroad" apartments, or something like that. It's just one long, narrow rectangle broken into rooms: a bedroom and a living room (although it's not clear which is which), a kitchen, and a bathroom. Entrances at both ends. The street I'm living on is fairly quiet, although it could just be that most people haven't arrived yet. But I have a very noisy upstairs neighbor who seems to think that 2.00 a.m. is the ideal time to move her collection of cinder blocks. At 2.45, I finally asked her to do whatever it is she was doing at a more reasonable hour. Things quieted down after that. I must look pretty scary at 2.45 in the morning.

I've only unpacked a few boxes so far, because I don't have anything to unpack into! My only furniture at the moment are two folding lawn chairs. My bed is supposed to arrive today. Fingers crossed. Guess I'll be hitting Target and Goodwill this weekend.

What my apartment lacks in charm is made up for by the location. I'm two blocks from one of the lakes, about six blocks from the capital, a short walk to State Street (a pedestrian-only street with loads of stores and restaurants), and a mile or so from campus. This is the first place within the United States where I've been able to walk just about anywhere I need to go. This weekend, I may get brave enough to try out the buses.

Rowen and I have been doing lots of exploring the past two days---long walks along the lake, down E. Johnson Street (another cute area for shopping and eating), along fraternity row (and it is so unfair that a bunch of drunk college boys get such beautiful houses right along the lake!), and around the capital. I've found a couple of deli/markets within a block of the house, a pizzeria I won't be going back to after getting sick last night, a well-stocked video store, and a used-book store. The essentials. I still haven't found a grocery store, though!

Today, I'm mostly being lazy. Waiting around for my bed to be delivered and having some downtime after a very stressful week. And I have lots to do next week: registering my car, getting my new license, getting Rowen registered, finding my way around campus, etc. I hope to take some pictures in the next couple days, as well.

And maybe catch my breath a little before classes start!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chicks and Ducks and Geese Better Scurry

I wish I could tell you something about Oklahoma other than that the Welcome Center isn't pet friendly and there are a lot of bales of hay. But it all sort of went by in a blur as I did my own scurrying to make up for lost time. And I did manage to drive for nearly ten hours and got through the entire state of Oklahoma and a little past Springfield, Missouri, before I stopped. Then I had a nervous breakdown. Which was due in part to Missouri's irritating insistance on marking distances every 0.4 miles. When you've been driving for eight hours and you have 130 miles to go until the hotel, you really, really don't want to see the distance marked so frequently.

So I took things a little easier today. I finished Missouri, which had more hills and curves than I had expected. I was beginning to feel gipped, that I had missed the whole Midwest experience of endless flat roads. Then I crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois. And got to I-55, which may possibly be the most boring road. Ever. It is flat and straight and surrounded by corn that's about as high as a baby elephant's eye. I think I may have lost consciousness several times. By the time I got to Springfield (Illinois, and can't anyone be bothered to come up with original town names?), I had to take a break. So I pulled off into a residential area, and Rowen and I took a short walk around. Other than that, I haven't seen a bit of the states I've been driving through. One of these days I will learn to schedule more time than I actually need so that I can see more than the standard highway greenery.

Tonight, I'm in northern Illinois, in a tiny farm town just off I-39. I've got about 2 hours of driving left for tomorrow. I probably could have made it to Madison tonight, but I would have gotten in too late to get the keys for my apartment and I would have had to unload the car after another long day of driving. So I let myself have one more day.

In other news, I finally called my parents last night. My father acted like nothing had happened; my mother was cool at first and we had a long, drawn-out conversation that ended with absolutely nothing resolved other than her agreeing that she probably should not have not called me and me realizing that she's just never going to change and I'll have to find some other way to deal with the situation. Tonight we went back to our usual denial of any problems. Not ideal, but I made it through the whole day without crying or having an anxiety attack, so I guess it'll do.

The photos are a bit out of order because Blogger is f-ing with me tonight. Sorry.

"My turn to drive?"

Where did all this stuff come from?

Sleeping Beauty wakes from her first night in a hotel.

More stuff!

For the Simpsons fans.

"Let's go!"

Mike saves the day! (Lost was a huge help, too, but she wouldn't let me take her picture.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

I Want My Mommy

And my daddy, too. His entire goal in life is to avoid major conflict, so he's also not speaking to me.

But about twenty times yesterday, I desperately wanted to call my mom. To get some comfort or support or perspective. I hate not speaking to her. And I'm very close to breaking down and calling her. I'm also getting increasingly angry with her for abandoning me at such a major time---when I'm moving halfway across the country---again---and starting grad school. Two huge life changes.

But since my Irish stubborness is tempered with German practicallity, I'll probably be the one to give in first.

I just can't even tell you how much this hurts.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ready. Set. Go.

So I had every intention of being in Oklahoma City tonight. But we know where good intentions get us.

The fact that I'm out of Austin at all is due in no small part to Mike and Lost. Despite dire illness, they showed up bright and early to help pack my car (read: do all the work while I stood by and fretted). They did an awesome job with an impossible task: Fitting a Uhaul's worth of stuff into a small SUV. Mike got extra awesome points for coming back later in the day to pick up boxes to ship when I finally admitted that I couldn't fit everything in.

Rowen also gets mad props for being the World's Greatest Pup. Despite having only about a fifth of backseat, and having to share that fifth with her blanket and a sleeping bag, Rowen was a trooper. She carved out a little spot where she could look out either the front window or side, and she spent most of the trip happily watching the world whiz by. Now she's sleeping away in the hotel room. It took some convincing to get her into the hotel and into the elevator, but she's a good girl. Worth all the stuff I couldn't pack to make room for her!

Anyway, with all the packing and repacking and cleaning and freak outs this morning, I left Austin about four hours later than I had intended. So I'm not in Oklahoma City. I'm not even out of Texas. I'm in Fort Worth. I made it a whopping four hours north.

It's going to be a long week.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

1. My mother is apparently not speaking to me.
2. As far as I can gather, it's because of an offhand comment during a conversation on the way to the airport last week.
3. My father had given my mother directions from my sister's house to the airport. My father's directions are usually suspect as they usually involve "shortcuts" based on the roads he knew 30 years ago.
4. I suggested that we follow the signs that said "To Airport" instead of using my father's directions.
5. Turned out that the directions were the same.
6. Conventional wisdom in my family is that I can't find my own ass with a compass, a map, and detailed directions.
7. Yet I am the most well-traveled member of my family. I have visited and lived in more places than the rest of my family combined. I have somehow gotten myself to the far corners of the planet and back. In doing so, I have developed rather good navigational skills and a certain resourceful independence. But no one will let me forget the one time I got lost in my home town. About 16 years ago.
8. Somehow questioning my father's directions led to my mother calling me "mean." I'm not clear on the progression.
9. My mother has called me "mean" at least once each of the past three times I've been home.
10. Once was because she came into the family room where I was watching television, sat next to me on the couch, and proceeded to make an extended phone call. After she finished the call, I said something to her about it. She told me that I was being mean.
11. Later that same evening, she scolded my father for talking on the phone in the family room while she was trying to watch television.
12. This time, after she called me "mean," I responded that she could be mean, too. I then dropped it and changed the conversation.
13. She seemed fine when I left---even hugged me goodbye---but the next day, when I called, my father told me that she was upset. She apparently told him that I had called her "mean." She left out that she had called me "mean" first.

So that's where things stand. I think. My father wasn't at all interested in my side of the story. And I refuse to once again give in to my mother's emotional manipulation by being the one to call. I know that seems stubborn and petty, but trust me when I say that it's a necessary break from an unhealthy pattern.

There's slightly more to all this than can be encapsulated in 13 points, but the entire story goes back 30 years and you'd probably charge me by the hour to listen to it.

The last I heard from my mother was a terse e-mail earlier today: "Have a safe trip. I hope you and Rowen will be happy in Madison."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Birthday Girl!

My baby is two years old! Or fourteen, depending on how you count.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Hello? Anyone there? Anyone?


So normally I love my alone time. And particularly after a week of family craziness. But I haven't gotten an e-mail all day and no one is returning my calls and I'm starting to feel a little paranoid.

And I haven't even started drinking yet.

Oh my.

Maybe I Am a Mean Person . . .

So one week from today, I leave Austin. By this time next Sunday, I'll probably be somewhere in Oklahoma. Yikes!

Now, common sense would say that I've spent the past few days packing, hanging out with friends, taking care of last minute chores, seeing and doing all those things I always meant to see and do in Austin.

But no one has ever accused me of having an overabundance of common sense.

This is what I've been doing:

* Going to see An Inconvenient Truth, which was interesting and restored my faith in Al Gore (Damn you, Florida!) but didn't really tell me much that I didn't already know, i.e. that our consumerist lifestyle is polluting the atmosphere and leading to a global warming trend that is disproportianate to expected variations in weather and creating some really f'ed-up conditions, like massive droughts and supercharged hurricanes and Greenland melting.
* Going to see John Tucker Must Die, which was amusing and cute although certainly not a classic of the genre. Wait for the DVD.
* Putting together packages for two swaps, which includes making two journals, because I really needed one more thing to do.
* Starting a new knitting project, even though I have several still on needles, including the gift for my sister's wedding, which was last week. Oops!
* Buying more yarn and a stack of knitting magazines, because exactly what I need is more stuff to pack.
* Watching Law & Order marathons, with the occasional break for a Lifetime movie.
* Letting my mother get to me, even though I keep telling myself I shouldn't.
* Looking around at the piles of boxes and unpacked stuff.
* Sighing.
* Looking at the Target Web site to figure out if I really wouldn't just be better off getting rid of everything and getting new stuff when I get to Madison.
* Wondering for the 1,123rd time if I'm doing the right thing.
* Lying awake a night.

Rowen, being the more sensible of us, is simply hiding in the closet.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Totally stealing this from Bearette. And others. But I can't remember who at the moment.

There's tons to write about the wedding, but I'm not sure what I want to write. I'm always worried about what my family would say if they ever found this site. And, no, my family doesn't know I keep a blog. There are a lot of things my family doesn't know. I'm also hesitant to post much because the exhaustion from travel and from a week of sleep deprivation has my nerves rather ragged and I'm afraid I might post something I'd regret.

So instead, you get this:

1. For most of junior high and high school, I wanted to be a journalist.
2. I changed my mind in my senior year and decided that I wanted to work in corporate international communications.
3. I still regret not pursuing journalism.
4. Despite studying French for 7 years, spending a semester in Paris, and receiving a degree in French, I still can't speak it.
5. I've also studied, either formally or informally, Latin, Spanish, Italian, and Chichewa.
6. I can't speak any of them, either.
7. I'm terrified of public speaking. In high school, I used to get so nervous about oral presentations that I'd scratch at my arms until I had welts.
8. But I'm not afraid to dance or sing on stage.
9. I took dance lessons for 15 years.
10. Despite that, I can't sing or dance with any skill.
11. I once sang "Bohemian Rhapsody" during karaoke. It was the longest. song. ever.
12. That was the same night I participated in my first chugging contest.
13. I can't chug worth a damn. My team lost because of me.

As a bonus fact: I'm once again blunking in Liz's honor!