Monday, December 31, 2007

Memory Month: 2007 - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I can't believe that 2007 is almost over! I say that at the end of every year, but this year is particularly close to my heart - I'm almost afraid to see it go. It has been truly amazing and full of so many ups and downs. Here is my year in review:

The Good

1) I got married! It's true what they say - it was the most amazing day of my life. But it's also true that it doesn't all go downhill from there. In fact, my love for Roy has grown so much since our wedding day. Our relationship has matured in a way that amazes me (not that our relationship was immature before or anything). I truly can't wait to see what the future has in store for us.

2) I found out who my friends are. I have built some incredible friendships this year. Having Mandy as my woman of honor in my wedding really strengthened our bond. Having Melinda and Kim to talk to about wedding/marriage/life ups and downs (not to mention the antics of really stupid people that we all so love making fun of) really drove home the point that people you meet online can turn into awesome friends. Working with Myra on a daily basis showed me that you really can meet the coolest people in the most unlikely places. Of course, along with these newer friendships, there are still my old friends, who I see less often or never at all: Candice, Genevee, Lynn, Laci, and Amanda. And who could forget all the girls that I hang out with online on a regular basis? (Exceptions abound in the online department, because let's face it - some of those bitches on the Nest/the Knot are crazy. Or stupid. Or both.)

3) I caught the dreaded baby fever. Worse things could happen, I'm sure. Acknowledging this desire of mine as something that I'm finally ready for has been confusing. Having children has always been something that I felt was better reserved for the future. It is so weird knowing that the future is finally here. Well, sort of.

4) I became a part of the blogosphere. Although I kept a blog on MySpace prior to my blog here, that doesn't really count. I can't believe the sheer volume of interesting blogs out there - I'm so glad I switched and was able to join the network.

5) I wrote a decent poem and many good blog posts. Writing is still one of the main things that centers me and defines who I am.

6) I read a whole lot of books, most of which were good. Reading is so important to me, and despite how busy and chaotic this year was, I'm glad I was able to take the time to read some books.

7) We got a new car. And it's awesome. Neither one of us will be needing a new car anytime soon.

8) I became part of a new family. I am so lucky to have 2 California mommies that I adore, a sister-in-law who I consider my friend, a brother-in-law who tolerates me, and my adorable nephews and niece.

9) I quit smoking. After 10+ years of smoking, I finally quit - and this time I feel it's for good. It was truly one of the best things I've ever done for myself, especially because it was not easy. I managed to quit cold turkey in March, in the middle of planning a wedding and finishing up finals week. I'm very proud of myself.

10) I realized, like never before, that it's the people in your life who make it what it is. I really used to keep myself at a distance from others. I had major trust issues. I still have them, but I'm learning not to let them get in the way of forming important relationships. I would be lost without the people I love. I didn't really realize this until I got married. Something in me changed that day (and in the days and months leading up to it). I realized that we are all connected and that it was meant to be that way - because human beings need each other.

The Bad

1) Roy got into a car accident. I am so relieved that he didn't get hurt. That would have been so awful.

2) I didn't get the job I wanted (which still really bugs me). I'm still trying to find another job. So far, no luck. There's a possiblity within my own department, but that's a whole other story.

3) My current job has made me apathetic and lazy. This is something that needs to change. I'm not sure if it's my attitude that needs adjusting or if I need an actual job change.

4) I'm suffering from burnout in regards to school. I really want to finish, but I can't make myself care as much as I used to. I used to be a big-time overachiever and highly motivated. I am still a good student, but not as good as I used to be.

5) I cried. A lot. I have cried while watching Scrubs, Gilmore Girls, My Name is Earl, and trailers for upcoming movies. I have sobbed over videography, photography, and flowers. I have wept over the loss of a friendship and the deaths of those I've never even met. This penchant for tears, while embarassing, is something I'm grateful for, because it's how I express my sorrow, frustration, and happiness.

The Ugly

1) I found out who my friends are. Turns out that my friend of 20+ years and I aren't really connecting anymore (which I knew way before this year). In a moment of extreme sadness, when I realized that she wasn't coming to my wedding and didn't think anything of it, I told her how disappointed I was. She called it a guilt trip. I called it honesty. We haven't spoken since - and maybe it's for the best. I still think of her often, but we have really grown apart. It sucks, but it happens.

2) People died. So many good people left this life in 2007, as people do every year. Some of them were brave enough to share their battles with the world through their blogs, and I think they are incredible. As depressing as it may be, I'm going to be adding a section onto my sidebar for those who have passed on and left their wisdom behind. It's really the least I can do to honor them and to raise awareness of the diseases that killed them.


As you can see, it was one hell of a year. So sorry to see you go, 2007. Bring it on, 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memory Month: How We Met Our Woogas

Who: me and Roy/Roy and I
What: looking for fish to fill the fishtank that we got for Christmas
When: New Years Eve 2005, approximately 6 PM
Where: Petsmart

You know how it goes. Once a girl goes into the puppy or kitten section of any store, you'd have to pry her away. Such was the case with me when I met Roy at Petsmart on New Year's Eve 2005 to buy some fish for our new fishtank. I beat him there (I had been working) and went to go look at the kittens to kill time. It was truly a good thing.

After Roy showed up, I brought him back to the room full of kittens in cages, because he's a fan of all things cute too. The Humane Society woman was struggling with a tiny grey tabby kitten who had just escaped from its cage - and that's how we met Ashe, who we adopted that night. (I admit it, I totally begged. Thankfully, I didn't have to beg much, because Roy loved her just as much.) She was sooooo cute. What's funny is that at the time we thought Ashe was a boy, because the Humane Society lady told us she was. (We figured out the truth when we took "him" in to get neutered a couple of months later.)

Anyway, Woogas was about 3 months old at the time we adopted her, and she was on Death Row at the pound when the Humane Society rescued her. She had a leaky eye, which is due to a virus and still flares up from time to time even now. But still, we fell in love with our little bundle of joy and took her home with us to stay forever.

Woogas and I have grown to be very close over the 2 years that we've been part of each other's lives. She absolutely loves for me to hold her (when she's in the mood, of course - as sweet as she is, she's still a total biatch), but only when I'm standing up and walking around. She will follow me from room to room around the house. She literally gripes at me when she's hungry or wants attention. She will lick my face and rub her face on mine. I love her to pieces and am so glad that we found her and took her home that night.

Happy 2 year anniversary, Woogas! (Don't ask me how I came up with the name "Woogas." I really can't remember. But it somehow suits her better than "Ashe.")

A Very California Christmas

I must confess, I have been really lazy with my blogging lately. Even so, I think my first California Christmas still deserves a blog post. So here goes...

On Christmas Eve, Roy and I walked down to Mandy and Paul's house to spend the evening there. We weren't there for long because we found out that Mandy and Paul got engaged earlier that evening. Apparently they went for a walk up Mt. Rubidoux and he popped the question with a huge, obviously fake diamond ring (that was actually big enough to be a bracelet if you have really skinny arms). Paul has been working on designing Mandy's ring for quite some time now, but it's still not ready (hence, the gigantic ring). Mandy had dropped plenty of hints that she was totally ready to get married and would have said "yes" to an onion ring (her words), so Paul bit the bullet and proposed.

Naturally, Mandy was all excited and ready to collect the bridal magazines and books that I'd been hanging onto just for her, so she and I walked back to our house and picked them up. (I am so glad to be rid of those things!) We then walked back to their house and spent the evening watching Home Alone, eating pizza and cookies, and talking about wedding stuff. Patty, Cherie, my brother-in-law Jake, and my niece and nephews were all there as well.

Here's a pic of the kids (from left to right - Merlin, Gwen, and Noah):

I captured this picture of Cerby early on in the evening. Obviously, he ranks high on the cuteness scale.

Roy and I went home and crashed. We woke up at 6 AM on Christmas morning and opened our gifts. Even Kerwin and Woogas got gifts! I was so happy that he got me the camera I'd been wanting! After we were all done, we left the living room floor covered in wrapping paper and walked over to my mother-in-law's house to witness our nephews and niece opening presents. They got so much stuff! I don't think I ever got that much stuff as a kid. They each got a new bike, clothes, and toys. Each of the boys got a new skateboard, and my niece got a new scooter.

Here they are, waiting anxiously for presents:

I just love this picture of Merlin. It's the epitome of childhood Christmas magic.

Later on, we went over to Roy's grandparents' house for lunch and afternoon family catching-up. One of Roy's cousins also got engaged (on Halloween), and another set of cousins are expecting their third child. So it looks like the family's going to be expanding in a big way in 2008! We did our Secret Santa gift exchange, and that's when I got my beloved Photoshop from Patty. I had drawn Jake's name, so I wrapped up some cash in a box, which was then placed in a larger box, which was placed in an even larger box, which was placed in a bag. Yeah, I'm a brat, but I've always wanted to do that!

I spent much of the day taking pictures with my new camera. It is so awesome. I can't believe the difference in quality from my point-and-shoot. Here are some of my favorite pics that I took. They're not all that special, but they would have been impossible to take with my other camera.

Anyway, we left a few hours later and went home. Mandy, Paul, and Patty ended up coming over that night and staying for several hours so Mandy could move her iTunes library from Roy's computer to her laptop. What started out as a relatively simple (but lengthy) procedure ended up being very complicated, and it took much longer than expected. Once they left, we called it a night, as we were both really tired by that point. And the next day, we got up and went to work. Boooooo.

I really enjoyed my first married Christmas here in the lovely state of California. It was such a relief not to have to travel in the Christmas chaos. I did miss my family, but I think it's important that Roy and I have our own traditions as well as try to spend this very important holiday with his family as well.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Memory Month: The Best Books of 2007

At the start of 2007, I told myself that I would read 10 books each month. Believe it or not, this used to be an easy accomplishment for me, as I read extremely fast. However, 2007 was an entirely different animal than years past, so reading took a back seat to everything else. I have managed, though, to read 75 books as of this posting and am hoping to finish off a couple more before the end of the year, as I have quite a few in progress right now. One thing I did this year was reread quite a few books, so I won't be including the books that I reread on my list of best books of the year.

Without further ado, here is the list of books that I enjoyed most this year (in the order I read them), along with the reasons why. I didn't force myself to pick 10 books; it just happened that way.

1) What No One Tells the Bride by Marg Stark
One thing every bride needs is a good book that helps her understand her many conflicting feelings that she encounters as she plans her wedding. This is one of those books that I'm so glad I read before getting married. I was one of those moody brides who had very happy highs and really depressing lows. I felt a lot of confusion about all my different emotions, and reading this book (as well as The Conscious Bride) really helped make sense of it all. I ended up embracing all these feelings (even the negative ones), and even though they were hard to handle sometimes, I count myself a better person for having gone through planning a wedding. Books like What No One Tells the Bride really helped me keep a firm grip on my sanity in dealing with family, friends, vendors, Roy, and even myself and my own expectations.

2) No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is an amazing writer, and this is an amazing book. The story is compelling (and violent), the writing is top-notch, and I couldn't put this one down. It was suspenseful and interesting. I would love to see the movie, but I'm afraid it just won't live up to the book. However, I could just see the book unfolding in my mind as I read it, so maybe it'll make a good movie after all.

3) The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
Sue Monk Kidd is a delicious writer, particularly in this book. Her writing style makes me want to engage in all things sensual. Her descriptions are incredibly vivid, so much so that her writing sometimes contains echoes of the Latino/a tradition. The story is one that every person can relate to, where the protagonist goes searching for something she can't quite put her finger on and ends up with a better understanding of herself and her life. The myths and legends within the story really gave it its punch and depth. The ending was surprising, which is always welcomed.

4) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
This was probably the most anticipated book of the year, and I am so happy that it lived up to the hype. It answered all my questions and tied up all the loose ends. It also brought up some relevant issues, giving this fantasy story a strong basis in reality. It was a definite page-turner. I laughed, I cried, I got angry. Despite the epilogue (which I thought was unnecessary) and very weak concluding sentence, I was completely satisfied with this book - and also happy to see how the series matured and found its real theme and subject.

5) Was by Geoff Ryman
This was an excellent book. It's The Hours meets The Wizard of Oz, with an obvious twist of Wicked. The story was powerful, complicated, and challenging. The writing was great. All in all, Was is a very brave book that seeks to reexamine stories and characters we've all grown to know and love.

6) One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
I highly enjoyed this graphic novel. I could relate to it very much. Each of the stories/chapters contained within struck a nerve with me, because they showcased the demons that latch onto us and follow us around all our lives. In a sense, this book reminded me very much of PostSecret, in that its very personal revelations felt like they were about me personally, not about some woman (the author) I've never met. The writing was good, and so were the accompanying graphics/pictures/illustrations. I highly recommend this book for everyone. Remember - graphic novels aren't just for nerds!

7) Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
I thought this book was pretty amazing, and I've actually already talked about it in another blog entry. It actually forced me to reexamine my eating habits by telling it how it is. This book explores the horrific happenings in slaughterhouses, how different foods affects our body, and what we can do to make ourselves healthy. Essentially, the book is all about diet and exercise, but there's no feel-good spin to it. It's very matter-of-fact. Some would even call it bitchy. But I liked the attitude - it helped drive home the main points the authors were trying to make.

8) Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
Every woman should read this book. It taught me so much about my body and really made me realize how lacking my health/sex ed classes really were. It is amazing how ignorant most women are about the processes of their bodies - well, this book demystifies it all. It also explains a natural method of birth control, which sounded far-fetched to me at first. But it really works if you know how to do it correctly. I would recommend this book to any and every woman out there. Even though it was first published 10+ years ago, it is still groundbreaking.

9) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
This book was an easy, fast, and gripping read. For the most part, it lives up to its critical acclaim. It is a great book. But it's not the best book I've ever read, and it won't be going on my "best books of all time" list. It's pretty easy to guess the ending, and I wouldn't say the writing is absolutely phenomenal. What I would say, though, is that this book is extremely relevant. It offers a look into Afghanistan through the eyes of its natives and reveals a timeless story of love, friendship, and family.

10) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
This is a hefty young adult book. At 500+ pages, it's quite daunting. However, I read this book in the space of a day or 2, mainly because much of the story is told through pictures. These pictures are pretty amazing works, and they are composed entirely of pencil. The story would be nothing without the drawings. It's not just a book with illustrations added in for fluff - the drawings simply make the book. Although there's a strong story behind the drawings, both story and drawings would be incomplete without each other. This is a really fascinating read.


As much as I enjoyed these books, I doubt any of them are going to make my Favorite Books of All Time list. If I had to choose any, though, I would probably choose No Country for Old Men and/or Was.

I am not really going to make any reading goals for 2008. I would really like to make a dent in my unread books though, but the only way I'm going to be able to do that is if I stop buying books (yeah, right) or get rid of the ones that have been on my to-be-read pile for years (which I do quite often, actually). So, who knows what 2008 will bring?

Christmas Loot!

Best gifts I got (in no particular order):

a bowl of lemons from Mandy and Paul

Photoshop from my mother-in-law

cash! from my mom and Roy's grandpa

Twin Peaks box set from my mom

Canon Rebel XT from Roy

Best gifts I gave:

LOVE to everyone (I received lots of love as well)

Snowpunk from li'l chicken's etsy shop for my brother

80 GB black iPod classic for Roy

wedding photo albums for key family members with this picture on the cover


Christmas recap coming soon!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Low-Key Christmas Eve

So far my Christmas Eve has been very mellow. It doesn't even seem like Christmas Eve, but I'm not complaining - I am really enjoying the extra time off from work. This morning I woke up at my normal time, saw Roy off (he had to work a half day today) did some random things around the house, and went to the post office. To my delight, the third season of LOST came in earlier than expected! I am so excited to watch it!

Since I got home, I've eaten a Del Taco breakfast burrito and some pizza, made 24 cupcakes, done some laundry, taken a shower, and napped on the couch. I guess this all seems rather boring and mundane, but truthfully, I have travelled every year for the last 7 or 8 years - so it is really nice to just take it easy at home this year with Roy and the cats.

Tonight we are headed over to Mandy and Paul's to make cookies and watch Home Alone with our nephews and niece. Last night we (Roy and I plus Roy's family) had a Christmas dinner with our friends Phil and Nan. Roy and I went into Hallmark before, and I saw a stuffed Rodney Reindeer. I almost started crying right there in the store because Rodney reminds me of my brother and all our childhood Christmases. For a split second I wanted to be a child again, back there at home with my family, when Christmas was magical and fun. It still is magical and fun, but life is infinitely more complicated now.
Truthfully, being an adult sucks sometimes. I just miss my family and wish that we all lived closer together. At the same time, I am so grateful to have a life that's mine (and separate from theirs). I am so very lucky for all that I have. I just wish sometimes that I could have all the people I care about in one place at one time. I guess that's what our wedding was for!

This post has really gone in a melancholy direction, and I'm actually feeling pretty good about things. I'm going to take that as a sign that I should stop writing.

I wish all of you a very happy holiday season!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Memory Month: Child of the 80s

Here are some of my favorite commercials while growing up. Ahhh, memory lane!

I love the 80s!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This calls for a recap!

1) My co-worker and friend Beans got me The Omnivore's Dilemma for Christmas. I thought that was very thoughtful of him.

2) I got an A in the class that I took last quarter. I guess my paper turned out pretty well after all.

3) When I got home from work the other night, I couldn't find Kerwin. I almost tore the entire place apart looking for him. When Roy got home, I was close to being frantic, tears in my eyes and scared out of my mind that he had gotten out somehow. We finally found him under the bed - he and Woogas had apparently torn a big hole in the thin fabric that lines the bottom of the boxspring. He was hiding out inside and was only being held up by the fabric that hadn't torn yet. Crazy cat.

4) I have really been enjoying my time off from school. It's nice not having to think about it for awhile.

5) The department manager now knows that I didn't get the job. She came to talk to me yesterday morning and told me that she wants to put me in a different position because she knows I'm not being utilized as well or as much as I should be. While I'm not sure yet that I totally want the job, it's an attractive prospect that would earn me a pay raise, a possible change in status, and an opportunity to learn a different skill set. I could still keep my proofreading duties if I wanted to as well. However, the position doesn't exist yet and has not been approved yet. I am going to think it over during the time I have off.

6) Speaking of time off, Christmas is almost here! No last minute shopping for me - I am totally done!

7) The other night when I got home from work (the same night I couldn't find Kerwin), there was a small marching band walking down the street playing that "Glory Glory Hallelujah" song. I was completely transfixed for some reason, and then 2 young girls approached me for a donation to help them in their cause. So I gave a donation, and then they asked if they could pray with me. I felt a little wary since I am not at all religious, but I just couldn't say no to these very sweet girls. So I held hands with them and then we hugged afterwards. It was actually a really nice, warming experience.

8) We our our white elephant gift exchange at work on Wednesday. I started out with this, and to my surprise, it actually got stolen from me!

So I opened a new present and got this soap.

At my insistence, another co-worker stole my soap, so I could steal this bottle, which I love.

I was happy.

9) I'm still happy. Life is good.