Sunday, July 3, 2016

New adventures!

I'm trying out the dark side of tumblr with a new blog: Kian and Shey in the USA. My boyfriend and I are travelling for 6 weeks this summer, by car, through the United States. We will slowly make our way from New Jersey to Oregon and back, visiting about 25 states and 10 national parks. Follow our adventure at the new blog!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Role Reversal

I am the luckiest girl in the world because I get to live, sleep, work, eat, drive, play, and also work at another job...all with my darling boyfriend. Tonight is a rare night apart: I spent too much time at work (as always), he left after a bit to go to his second job and then, later, trivia night.

As I sit here in my matching pajamas typing, I've cleaned the house, showered, gone to the pharmacy, renewed my library books, paid my credit card bill, and have already started thinking about preparing food for tomorrow and the weekend. Sounds all pretty standard.

At the same time, I'm making my NFL picks for the week in my money league, researching fantasy moves for my hometown friends league, setting my lineup, watching old episodes of The League, thinking about the Rutgers game on Saturday, and checking Instagram for pictures of pretty girls. I also ordered delivery Chinese food for myself -- nary a vegetable to be seen -- and washed it down with a delicious, no-guilt-trip lager.

My boyfriend just finished his second job working with children and will soon be off to a terrible restaurant to hang out with his friends and brother, eat crappy food, and show off how smart he is. If he's feeling frisky, he'll indulge himself in a Coke before driving home to set up the coffee for tomorrow morning and then snuggle me.

Like I said...lucky as can be.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Conversation, Just Now 2

"Oh, I have my period." -random observation I made to my boyfriend
"Oh. Maybe you had PMS yesterday?" -boyfriend
"What? No. I don't get PMS."
"But you were so mean. Maybe you do get PMS and you just always chalked it up to being anxious and a bitch."
"Hmmmmm." A pause, for thinking. "No, it wasn't PMS."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Her Diamonds

I've heard this song a million times, and so have you. The lyric "She'll be all right, she'll be all right, just not tonight" always stood out to me. For the first time recently, though, I actually listened to all the lyrics. I really listened, then listened some more, and now it's been two days where I've mostly only listened to this song on repeat. It's a good song.

I'm talking about "Her Diamonds" by Rob Thomas (of Matchbox Twenty), which was released as a single off his solo album in 2009. The expressive, official video is also impressive, but my favorite part of the song is the lyrics, presented here in their entirety:
"Oh what the hell she says
I just can't win for losing
And she lays back down
 
Man there's so many times
I don't know what I'm doing
Like I don't know now
 
By the light of the moon, she rubs her eyes
Says it's funny how the night can make you blind
I can just imagine
 
And I don't know what I'm supposed to do
But if she feels bad then I do too
So I let her be
 
And she says oh I can't take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
 
'Cause I can't help her now
She's down in it
She tried her best but now she can't win
It's hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling down, way down
 
She sits down and stares into the distance
And it takes all night
And I know I could break her concentration
But it don't feel right
 
By the light of the moon, she rubs her eyes
Sits down on the bed and starts to cry
And there's something less about her
 
And I don't know what I'm supposed to do
So I sit down and I cry too
But don't let her see
 
And she says oh, I can't take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
 
'Cause I can't help her now
She's down in it
She tried her best but now she can't win
It's hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling down
 
She shuts out the night
Tries to close her eyes
If she can find daylight
Then she'll be all right, she'll be all right
Just not tonight
 
And she says oh, I can't take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
 
'Cause I can't help her now
She's down in it
She tried her best but now she can't win
It's hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling
 
Ooh, I can't take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
But her diamonds bring me down
 
'Cause I can't help her now
She's down in it
She tried her best but now she can't win
It's hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling down
 
I can't take no more
Diamonds on the floor
No more, no more, no more
Diamonds falling down
I can't take no more
Diamonds on the floor
No more, no more, no more
Diamonds falling down
I can't take no more
Diamonds on the floor
No more, no more
Her diamonds falling, all her diamonds
Diamonds falling down
 
I can't take these diamonds falling down."
So much yes, and even more when you watch the video and listen to the lyrics simultaneously. A few things really stand out to me, but I'm still gathering my thoughts. I'll get them articulated soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Showers

Happy April! Just as I love the changing of seasons, I love the changing of months and the feeling of starting fresh. This month is no exception. April brings warmer temperatures, sunnier skies, happier people, and some travel I'm really looking forward to. I just got back from a day trip to Connecticut and am super pumped for upstate New York later this fall, all for cubing competitions. I'm at the exciting time in my cubing career where every competition should improve my average or give me a personal best. So far, so good.

April is also time for Camp NaNoWriMo, an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month, which is November. For camp, I'm excited to start work on a young adult novel...something that I actually think I might be able to do. For last year's NaNoWriMo, I "won" and wrote 50,000 words...almost none of which I ever think will or should be seen by anyone. I hope for this month to be different.

As always, with my optimistic thinking for the beginning of the month, I have a few goals in mind. I've been doing abysmally with most of my New Year's resolutions, but a girl can dream! Besides, a monthly challenge feels a bit more fun. Besides all the writing I'll have to do to keep with my Camp NaNo goals, I also want to spend far less time on my phone. We'll see how that goes. I'm also participating in a weight loss challenge with some people at work...so again, we'll see how that goes. My clearest, should-be-easiest goal for the month is to try and make myself brush my teeth every single night. By embarrassingly admitting here that I don't do that, I'm hoping to shame myself into it. Um, we'll see how that goes. In my most ambiguous update, I'd like to think that April will also be a month of exciting changes, career-wise, and, ultimately, education-wise.

We'll see how that goes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Eric

me as a boy, right
me as a girl, left
Back when I was about seven, I desperately wanted to be a boy. I called myself "Eric," insisted that I was a boy, and delighted when I was once mistaken for a boy at McDonald's. The sad fact that my mother allowed my hair to be cut so short is only mitigated by the knowledge that, were it not, I'd likely instead have the same Pebbles-esque ponytail as my sister. I was a decided tomboy and was exceptionally skilled in climbing trees. I'm going to go ahead and mostly blame my obsession with the Baby-Sitter's Club for turning me back into the lovely young lady I am today...even if I always did identify most with Kristy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Not Exactly Gilmore Girls

My mom was eighteen years old when she had me. She had married my father, who was nine years older than her, about two months before I was born. She didn't know it at the time, but a year later, she'd be pregnant with her second child and, six years later, she'd be divorced for the first time. As a result, all of my real memories are with divorced parents. I have only glimpse of recollections, most of them probably false, with my parents living in the same tiny house together.

I've never watched Teen Mom, but I can imagine the drama and the glossing over of the hardships of being a teen mother. From what little I've read about it, they do a disservice to teens everywhere by making motherhood seem like not so big a deal, or even glamorous. At the very least, it seems to rewards these young ladies who have generally made terrible decisions by making them borderline famous. When I was a teenager, we had Gilmore Girls. Now, Gilmore Girls was no Dawson's Creek, in that I didn't worship it, create a binder with all the magazines clippings about it, tape every episode I thought I might miss, nor call my best friend after each show to talk about everything. But I did catch an episode here or there and understood the premise. I think, for many of my friends, they saw me as a real life version of the insanely close, mother-daughter duo.

This was absolutely false, of course. For one thing, the family dynamic was completely different. I had a sister close to my age and saw my dad weekly for most of my growing up. When I was ten, my mom remarried and I also have sisters 11 and 14.5 years my junior. I was always close with my grandparents, who had always been extremely supportive of my mother. And, my mother and I didn't have a strange, best-friend-like relationship where we talked in fast quips to each other all the time. I wasn't quite as smart as Rory and my mom wasn't as pretty as Lorelai. To be fair, my mom did dumbly name me after herself.

But that might be the only similarity, at least the only one I know of. Growing up with a single mom was interesting, to say the least. Many of the things I took as just normal aspects of growing up, I realize now were indicative of having a young, somewhat clueless person bring me up mostly on her own. For starters, I developed terrible food habits that still haunt me to this day. I started off life being a picky eater and primarily consumed macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, Pop-Tarts, and Spaghetti-Os for most of my meals. I drink more milk (as does my sister) than almost anyone I know. I wean on and off of soda and cannot tolerate diet soda as much as I try. I never had Chinese food until I was in tenth grade and went with a boyfriend, but I ate tons of "regular" fast food. I never had sushi until I was in my twenties, let alone anything more exotic. I tried KFC for the first time a few months ago. I struggle every day with making myself eat fruit and vegetables and trying to be healthy.

I think food is one of the most significant ways that I suffered as a child, though I didn't know it at the time. I built terrible habits that are so much more difficult to shake now. I wish I could see grapes as a snack and not crave milk with every bite of chocolate. I wish I didn't associate cookies with just eating the dough or prefer boxed brownies to homemade ones. I wish I haven't been on and off diets since I was in sixth grade. But, all those things are true, and maybe some of them would be even if I didn't grow up with a teenage mom. I make a constant effort now to try new, healthier foods. And, while my mom hasn't reformed her ways, at least one of my three sisters is a naturally healthy eater and insists on keeping things like apples, carrots, and hummus in the house. She'll happily munch on nuts and drink water when my mom brings home McDonald's for herself and my youngest sister on a near daily basis.

What else besides food? My work ethic is entirely self-driven, which is also evident when you look at my sisters and I. That same healthy-food-eating sister and I are complete high-achievers, constantly pushing ourselves to be the best, and work insanely hard, of our own volition, to get there. And as for the other two, the youngest of each pair of sisters, they have always skated along to merely get by. School is/was just not important to either of them, and so they put in a little effort to be average students. When I went to college, absolutely everything was a struggle because no one knew anything. I was responsible for absolutely everything, including explaining to my parents what a major was and how to fill out financial aid forms. As every oldest sibling knows, everything is so much easier for all the younger ones.

Every child, to some extent, is an extension of their parents in the wardrobe department. In my case, my mother bought everything for me and dressed me until I was almost a teenager, because I didn't have much of an interest in clothes. I was a mini version of her, apparently even in looks, and dressed as such. Imagine being twenty and having your own little girl to dress up just like you. I think my mom enjoyed that aspect of having all girls for sure. A lot of my outfits as a preschooler made me seem like an eighties fashion poster child. I suppose it's amusing to look back now.

As for now, my mother and I have had a lots of ups and downs. I became a teenager when she hit the ripe old age of 31, and neither of us were ready for the next 12 or so years of tumultuousness. I went through periods of completely ignoring her, to trying to be close with her, to begging to live with my dad, to being a little brat all the time. Things got slightly better when I left for college and only talked to her when I wanted to, but then went right back to ups and downs. After one benign fight, she decided to stop helping me pay for college at all. On our worst days, I know it's important, for now, to remain on the best terms we can be so I can stay close with my two little sisters, who still live with her most of the time. At best, we tolerate and love each other without particularly liking each other. I know the feeling goes both ways, which mostly makes it easier. I've also learned tips and tricks to getting along with her, such as not being her friend on Facebook because I get too upset at the ridiculous things she posts for everyone to see. For the past few years, we've reached a mutually understandable and respectful distance.

Though I'm fairly content with all that, it doesn't stop me from wishing I had a different upbringing, an easier time as a teenager, a better relationship with both of my parents now. Because of all that, I've met some amazing older friends I really look up to and stay close to. These not-quite-surrogate parents are spread from an old boyfriend's parents, my best friend's mother, and people I used to volunteer with or baby-sit for. Most of them are older than my mom and all of them fill a void in my life. I know some people think it's weird to call someone thirty years older than you a friend, but that's exactly what many of them have come to be. I think the relationships are insanely valuable to me and I would hope that any teenager or young person has older friends or actual mentors to help them get through rough times.

When I look now at some of the relationships my friends have with their parents, I often can't help being a little jealous. Maybe they find it annoying that their moms call them all the time and ask lots of questions, but sometimes I wish my mom would ever call me or ever ask a question about my life. They might think it's a hassle to be expected at family events and holidays, but I think it'd be nice to ever have a family event or truly celebrate a holiday. I suppose the grass is always greener, and I know my parents are, by far, not the worst in the world, but there is always room for improvement. If I ever have children or foster children, I have a lot of knowledge about what not to do.

I'll end this with a little love and happy wishes towards the people I know who have lost their parents young. Several good friends of mine have lost a parent, and one even both parents. When I'm feeling especially frustrated or angry, I try to remind myself not to take having my parents, and still all four of my grandparents, for granted. I do believe that, for the most part, they did the best they could and have learned some from their mistakes. No matter what their mistakes, I will miss them when they're gone.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tears, Skiing, and the Internets

I was technologically advanced at an early age. Before most people had a home computer, perhaps before most people knew anything about what a computer really was, my grandfather did. As an electrical engineer, he was interested in everything and anything powered by electricity. I'm not sure what he did on his computers in the late eighties and early nineties, but he did something. I don't ever remember not having a computer at my grandparent's house, where I spent almost as much time as I did in my own home.

at the computer with my grandfather while my sister looks on, 1991
I remember sitting on his lap at the computer a lot. There were a few 8-bit games I used to play with my sister, most notably a firetruck game that had us saving people from burning buildings. It involved moving the fire ladder so it was in line with a window and pressing the spacebar so the person would climb down to safety. We pretty much thought it was the coolest thing ever. Later, my grandfather's computer had a mouse of sorts, which meant we could draw in some sort of primitive Paint-like program. Endless amusement.

But I recently learned a more endearing story that I don't actually remember happening. Apparently, a little later on in life, we had a computer with an early form of Windows. In my playing around, I made the taskbar disappear. My little fingers could not find a way to make it come back and my grandfather found me at the computer crying my eyes out. I told him that I broke the computer and I was so sorry and I didn't mean to and I'll never go on it again.

Instead of scolding me or telling me to never go on it again, my grandfather gave me a hug and a tissue. He told me to calm down, it was all OK, let's see what we could do. He then sat me back on his lap and he showed me how to make the taskbar appear again. I gasped and laughed and was generally adorable. He then told me that I should not be afraid to try new things. I had to experiment in order to learn. It was OK to make mistakes and I probably wouldn't actually break the 'puter, which is how I pronounced computer back then. And may start doing again now.

I wish I remember this story explicitly, but I don't. Instead, I've taken it to heart both with things related and unrelated. I've always had a love of the computer and, later, the internet, and been first among my peers to try new things and be a part of different online communities. I was reading 'zines and had my own email address while still in elementary school. Though this is commonplace now, I don't think most 27 year olds can say that. In an unrelated way, I try to push myself in other ways. When I learned to ski at the relatively old age of 20, the mantra in my head was, "It's OK to fall. It's OK to fall." Another person I respected very much told me as much, reminding me subconsciously of the message my grandfather instilled in me. If I wasn't pushing myself and trying the harder trails, then I wouldn't fall. But I wouldn't get any better, either. Those friends never let me stay very long on easier trails.

This is certainly not to say I don't worry about things, that I don't get frustrated, that I always open change with open arms. None of these things is even remotely true. But I've been lucky to have people behind me along the way to support me in various ways, family or not. My grandparents were more influential in many ways than my own parents, growing up as well as now. When I was older, the people who taught me it was OK to fall while skiing became a surrogate family to me. It's easier to fall and break computers when you know you have someone to help you get up and to fix computers.