Jul 232014

Last week, the Rainbow Foods located two miles away from home became a Cub Foods, which means the Rainbow Pharmacy became the Cub Pharmacy. That in itself isn’t a big deal: the pharmacists are the same, the phone number is the same and the medications they give me are the same. The biggest change I noticed were the new prescription labels on the bottles.

They’re larger, they have a few extra warnings and they also include a little more information on them. For example, the old bottles didn’t show the name of the company that makes divalproex (the generic version of depakote, one of my medications for epilepsy). The name of that company? Dr. Reddy’s Lab.

I’m told it’s a fairly mainstream producer of prescription drugs, but when I read “Dr. Reddy’s Lab”, I think of some guy in his basement mixing ingredients together to make a variety of medications while sitting next to a bathtub filled with chemicals he uses for making meth.

Jul 202014

I was initially thinking about a title involving “fulfilling the urge of creativity” or something along those lines, but I got home from summer camp a couple days ago and they have a lot of bugs there. They bite. Bites itch. Can’t imagine why I’m not completely out of that mindset yet, right? But I wanted to write a blog entry for two reasons.

1) I haven’t written anything in a really long time. Like, a shamefully long time. Posts have been really infrequent for a couple months now and that just ain’t cool. I might be writing for an audience of one, but it still ain’t cool. There’s not much point in having a blog if I never use it.

2) I have mixed feelings about 750words.com.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the website. It gives me extra motivation to sit down and write for 15 minutes or so, pound out a bunch of words every day and I’ve currently got a streak of about 180 days in a row. (It offers little badges for various achievements and I get a pterodactyl badge at 250.)

However! By writing 750 words every day on that website, it scratches the itch that arises every so often, an urge to write, to create something where once there was nothing. To fill the void of existence! To justify my presence in the universe! To practice hyperbole on the grandest scale!

Sometimes I use it as a brain dump; sometimes I write a bunch of random crap. Whatever the case, when I’m done, I’m satisfied. I’ve fulfilled my urge to create something. (When I look at it that way, maybe the title of this post should be “Scratching the itch of creation”, although that only brings to mind “Creation” and “procreation”, neither of which I engage in on a daily basis for 15 minutes or so.)

This isn’t an apology, per se, just an explanation of why I haven’t been using the blog as often as I have in the past and probably should in the future. I like reading what I have to write, maybe you do as well, so why not give us both a more-often-than-monthly treat? In the meantime, though, I’m off to find some ointment that’ll help soothe some of those other itches I picked up during summer camp.

Jun 182014

The time is currently 8:16pm. Trust me, this will be relevant at the end of this entry.

I guess the title might be a little misleading because vlogging probably wouldn’t be a consistent effort. If anything, I’d probably do it less frequently than writing here on my regular blog. Which could mean “almost never” for the time being. I could do it once in a while for practice’s sake, but I wouldn’t do it with any consistency until October. Why October? Because that’s the next time I’ll be taking an extended vacation.

Looking back at other ventures (like my trip to Norway four years ago), my writing blog entries only lasted for the first few days out of the trip because, well, it was taking too long. I can be long-winded when I’m speaking in person, but when I’m writing a story, it can take several pages to cover just one day. A lot of stuff would have to happen to make an entry worthy of that length, but it can (and would) happen. Writing several pages per day when I’m supposed to be enjoying going outside and experiencing what a completely different culture has to offer… it’s not worth the time and effort, so I inevitably fell off the proverbial wagon.

I’m trying to avoid that this time around. My mother got a new laptop, I bought a new webcam (that’s another story that can wait until later) and I’m hoping to put them both to good use. My initial plan was to write “e-postcards”: send people emails with a short video and possibly a digital photo attached. Cheaper than a postcard, I can say more than what I could write in a tiny space… I found some compression software that reduces the resolution of a video and thus reduces the size so a 30-second video might be 3MB instead of some huge amount of space that’s too large to attach to an email. BRILLIANT! (If you don’t think so, well, I’m not gonna send you an e-postcard! Pptbptpbptptpbtp!!!)

That was my initial plan: use the webcam to send people messages. Then after spending hours upon hours of surfing through YouTube, it occurred to me that perhaps I could talk about the trip on video instead. It wouldn’t be as detailed and I wouldn’t be able to constantly edit and reedit the whole time I was recording, but that might be a good thing in the long run. If I try to give a general outline of the day’s happenings in five or ten minutes, that’s a lot less time than it’d take to write a blog entry every day or two. (Time check: 8:33pm.)

I could come home and do a better job providing details, make the videos look more interesting and entertaining… stuff that requires more time and effort, which I would have upon getting back to the States.

So at this point, I’m looking at it as a time-saver more than anything. Record a short video at the end of the day and post them when I have internet access, which should be pretty frequently: we’re taking a scheduled 12-day tour for the latter part of the trip that’s supposed to be using primarily four- and five-star hotels. Good stuff. There might not be an available connection on the night when our room will actually be floating on a river, but aside from that, I might be able to upload videos pretty consistently while we’re there.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned where the trip is heading yet, but I might as well say where we’re going now instead of trying to hide the details for some future blog entry: Mom and I will be traveling to Thailand.

Writing this last paragraph, I’m already going back and forth about some details and word choices, which is pretty much the issue I always have to deal with when I’m writing blog entries and something I could avoid by recording myself with a webcam and posting that online instead. It might not look amazing—it might all be just one camera angle with no cuts or anything like that while I’m there—but hopefully, the amazing details spoken aloud will cover up that deficiency. If not, well, I’m really doing this mostly for myself anyway, so ptpbptptppbtptpbpt!!!

That’s my current plan: save myself a lot of time and effort by just recording videos talking about each day’s goings-on and that should suffice instead of trying to write a couple pages worth of material on any given day. I might do a little bit of editing, cutting and pasting and what not, but for the most part, I might be able to just go straight through for a couple minutes. If I’m lucky. And if I’m not lucky, it’ll still probably take less time than it takes to write and edit a blog entry.

Note that this has included very few details of things that have happened in the past. Not much in the way of stories, mostly just talking about plans for the future. I may have neglected to mention that the trip will last from October 23rd to November 13th, so I’ve got plenty of time between now and then to change said plans or to practice recording and editing video if that’s what I decide to do.

As a side note, it just struck me as funny that when you’re on TV or in movies, they always tell you not to look directly into the camera and you will get in trouble if it screws up a shot. (I was once an extra in a movie and the director got mad at me. The problem? The people he wanted me to look at were directly between me and the camera, so I was also staring straight into the lens. Oops…) Conversely, vlogging entails looking at the camera and directly at your audience. It’s contrary to everything I’ve ever been told doing work with video before, so it just feels a little odd.

But I digress. The point I’ve been making over many, many paragraphs is that if I record videos, I might delete one and record another if the first one sucks, but it shouldn’t take too long if I try to make them short. Blog entries? It’s currently 9:03, which means I’ve spent 47 minutes writing many, many paragraphs and not actually making a decision about anything. The question still remains: To vlog or not to vlog?

(Final time check after writing, editing, rewriting and reediting: 9:17. Sheesh…)

Jun 012014

From what I’ve read online about anniversary themes, this year is pottery and leather and it seemed like an interesting combination.

Why is that relevant? Because today is June 1st, 2014. The 9th anniversary of the television debut of Beauty and the Geek. Yikes almighty.

Jun 012014

I read a bunch of friends’ status messages and comments with this hashtag on Facebook, so I was inspired to do a little research, read a few articles/blog posts and check out #YesAllWomen on Twitter for an hour or so. I think I need a shower.

Perhaps the strangest part about writing this is that I feel kind of awkward and almost guilty. It feels like this is women’s territory for sharing their feelings and experiences and a lot of guys using the hashtag #YesAllWomen sound like major assholes.

“Are all of you on the rag or something?”
“send nudes to me please all are accepted and appreciated”
“Because these bitches need to get off Twitter and back into the kitchen.”
“its mentally unstable women writing about their irrational fears of men because of what the media says.”

But the other almost guilty part is that I looked back through my blog archives and linking to this entry back in 2005 feels kinda like I’m bragging. I discovered firsthand how poorly guys can treat girls in social settings. I’m not going to speculate what anyone’s mindset was that night, but I just knew that the situation was bad. It felt wrong. I shouldn’t be patting myself on the back about that, but after spending a couple hours online tonight, it seems almost appropriate.

Years after that incident, I went to a fundraiser. It was kind of expensive for my budget, but the organizer was a friend of mine and she talked me into attending. It turned out to be mostly older people, but there was a Russian singer who was supposed to perform for a bit. (I don’t remember if it was because she had a sore throat, but they had to play a few of her songs off a CD instead.) Then they started playing regular dance music and I ended up joining her on the tiny dance floor.

It was just the two of us out there together and the only thing vaguely resembling “bumping and grinding” was when we were back to back with our shoulders together. It was lots of fun and she thanked me for dancing with her before she and the guy accompanying her took off. Now I’m thinking back at how innocent it seemed to me and how not innocent it might have seemed to her or anyone else who’s currently writing about #YesAllWomen.

The guy with her was a local newscaster who gave a brief speech before they played the singer’s CD. She asked him if it was okay for us to dance; he shrugged it off and said, “Sure.” At the time, I couldn’t imagine why she’d ask for permission. Now I think about how she might have been letting him know she’d be on the dance floor, she might have wanted to check if he thought it was safe… her question might have been worthy of shrugging off. But it might not have been.

I like to think I have good and pure intentions, but that’s what’s going through my head. What about a woman’s head? I have no idea. The more I’ve learned tonight, the more I’ve realized that I know even less than what I thought. I wave at passing strangers, I make eye contact, I smile when I talk to people. I have never, ever been afraid of doing these things. A lot of women have.

I’ll probably never be able to really appreciate that point of view, but what I can do is avoid perpetuating the problem, so I’m writing this blog post. Yes, it could be interpreted as bragging, but it could also be… if you’ll bear with this analogy, it could be like being a writer. When you first get started, you don’t know what you’re doing, you draw the basic framework of a story and barely scratch the surface. With more time and experience, you learn to dig deeper into implications and mindsets and make it more thorough, more complete.

And maybe that’s what this is. A story about how my viewpoint is becoming more complete. I’m learning more about what women experience on a regular basis and it’s kinda scary. I can’t exactly apologize for my gender, but I can be more cognizant on my own. I can keep pretend-drunkenly shoving guys away from girls who say “No.” I can remember that her not waving back at me doesn’t mean she’s not nice. I can avoid fighting with people who are developing a sense of mutual respect and support on Twitter. I can ignore hashtags that men are using to defend themselves and focus on the one that’s most important and deserves the most respect: #YesAllWomen.

May 272014

This is something that’s been bothering me the last few days. Looking back at what I wrote, it just doesn’t flow very well. I like being able to create a smooth narrative that’s easy to follow and… it doesn’t. I think it’s because the more I thought about it, the more clear it became that I basically smooshed two blog posts together into one.

The message in the first part? It doesn’t really require me. What I want remembered about me are my relationships to family and friends. I’d like to have a positive impact on the world, but those are the people who are most important to me. As for the quote from Beauty and the Geek… I don’t matter. People don’t have to remember me, but I want the message to have an impact on people’s lives. “Aside from their appearance, they’re really not that much different than I am.” Attribute that to whomever you want—if it turns out that Abraham Lincoln said it first because everything you read on the Internet is true, that’s fine. I don’t care about my part in the equation. You don’t have to remember me, but try to remember that if you look past superficial details, we’re all a lot alike.

Then there was the story at the gas station, which was an interesting experience. A woman in the car had gone into the gas station first (the model’s friend who’d been driving, maybe?) and prompted the guy behind the counter to announce that donuts were on sale. That’s right, it wasn’t cookies, it was donuts. Either way, I’m sure it was still a nice change from egg whites. But I was still talking about how you never know when you might need donuts without looking around and had no idea who belonged to the voice on the other side of the gas pump.

When she appeared around the corner and said she’d been in the fitness competition, she flexed her arm with no prompting from me. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by trying to return the favor. I have wussy-looking arms in comparison. But as she talked about how it was a Miss Minnesota competition and how she placed fifth, I told her that was cool because it was.

The fact that she was in front of the counter when I got in the station was probably a good thing: I wanted to make sure I said “Congratulations” instead of just “That’s cool” (plus cheer about her buying donuts), so I didn’t have time to wander to the back of the station and grab something to eat or drink. A thing that wasn’t good is that because she was an attractive model, a part of my brain said that I shouldn’t pay too much attention to her because I didn’t want to seem like I was fawning over her or something. Thus, when I was in line and heard her say she achieved her goal, I didn’t turn to ask what it was. Top ten? Top five? I don’t know and I feel kinda bad about that.

After all, it was a conversation. She wasn’t preening or puffing out her chest… hmmm… perhaps that’s not the best analogy to use for a fitness model. But it wasn’t like she was saying, “Yeah, screw the other competitors, I’m fucking awesome!” She was proud about placing really high in a Miss Minnesota competition and wanted to tell me about it, but I was trying to be all non-sexist and ignore the fact that she was really attractive, thus completely forgetting about what I said on TV. I didn’t put her on a pedestal and marvel like I might have in the past, but I also didn’t react like I’d want someone else to if I told a story like hers.

Miss Minnesota. Fifth place. She achieved her goal. That’s HUGE. I’d want to talk about it, too, but I stopped listening at the end. I’m proud of myself because I didn’t stare or drool or anything like that, but bailing on the conversation before it was over? Not as proud.

So like I said, two separate blog posts with two different conclusions: I want people to remember the message more than they remember me, but I need to remember the message myself as well.

 Posted by at 7:15 pm