Monday, October 29, 2007

Really quick...

Just updated Local Stupidity.

Life is good but busy. Dave is starting his first wave of student teaching today, so good luck to him!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's Halloween Time!

(our pumpkins. The one on the left is Dave's. It's the King of Town from The one on the right is...well, a kittycat, and it's mine.)
Hello. Halloween may not be until this Wednesday, but we've been getting into gear for the holiday this week. Over the weekend we went to a party that was thrown by Mike and Jamie, celebrating both Halloween and their son's first birthday. I appreciated it because it gave me an excuse to go out and buy a costume, even if it was just a simple one. Plus, it was a fun party. We (Dave and I) don't really throw parties very often. I'm not good with that kind of thing, but Jamie and Mike did an awesome job and it almost makes me want to try it :)

Oh yeah--on Friday we had a low key party for me at Larissa's place. We played monopoly and watched Thoroughly Modern Millie (which was greatly mocked by all present). Jana built me a cake, and my friend Attie was able to come, too. There was much laughter and merry-making.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Karen's B-Day, #23

(philosophical/reminiscent crap)
I don't remember the exact moment I decided that I wanted to stop getting older. I mean, you spend your childhood and most of your teenage years wanting to grow up, but then there's a distinctive barrier that stops that way of thinking at a particular point of your life. I believe it is when you realize that it's time to be a grown up, not look forward to being one.

I really had a hard time when I turned 20. I think that's when I hit my barrier and realized I wasn't a teenager anymore, and that I had no excuse for holding on to it anymore. Maybe I felt like I had wasted so much time during those years, and when I finally started having fun with them I was nearly an adult. So when age 20 hit, I was pretty unhappy and had a depressing time with it.

Since then, I've been mostly okay about birthdays.

Yesterday I turned 23 years old. It honestly doesn't feel special. It's not a landmark age or anything. I don't feel old, I'm just a "twenty-something" and I'm cool with that. I still miss the teenager stuff once in a the carefree lifestyle and the friends and the ease of life with all of these opportunities spreading out in front of me. I should have taken advantage of that more than I did.

Anyway, I'm happy now, so it's all good.

(my birthday)
Yesterday was pretty much a normal day, but there were some special people who helped to make it awesome. I woke up to find that Dave had made an adorable (yet random) background for the computer that said "Happy Birthday!" for me. I had to go to school, but it was a pretty good day and Dave kept calling and leaving messages on my phone saying "happy birthday" to me and it made me feel special. I got some texts and facebook messages from other people as well, wishing me a happy day. After school I met with Jana and she took me shopping. That was fun, as always, but she bought a shirt for me as a present. :) I also saw my other sister Larissa. She had paid for my ticket to the Muse concert as my birthday gift, and seriously--what an awesome gift that was!

After that, Dave and I met up at home and I opened the package that had come in the mail from my parents. Imagine my shock when I discovered a pink digital camera inside! I wasn't expecting that! I was so excited! Dave helped me learn how to use it and it was great fun for all.

It sucked to go to work, but as soon as it was over Dave was there to pick me up and he took me out to dinner. I picked The Training Table because I really wanted some of those cheese fries! When we were done, Dave took me for a drive. It was supposed to be a surprise but he kind of got lost. He wanted to show me the city lights of our city from the other side of the lake but he couldn't find the spot he was looking for. We were sort of let down but then I said, "Come on, let's just get some sodas and eat the cake" (yes, he even make a cake for me!). So that is what we did. And it was sweet.

Here are some pictures we took while messing around with my new camera.

(these ones aren't so great because of the flash, but this camera takes amazing pictures!)

Dave's gift for me won't be here for a couple of weeks...but I am really excited about it :) (I swear I'm not greedy about presents or's my birthday--I'm excited, that's all!!)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Meaning in Life

For one of my classes, we have been reading Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Yesterday in class we had a discussion about the book, talking about various aspects of it and thinking about the important points.

One of the last questions we discussed was "what is the meaning in your life?" I'm sure everyone can answer this question without too much trouble. But as I sat in class and listened to some of the answers, I started wondering. In his book, Frankl discusses the things that make us want to keep going through the hard times, the things that are most important and make life worth living. For the people in his concentration camp who literally had nothing left but their own bodies, sometimes this was simply a memory of someone (who was most likely dead), or a single hope for the future (although they were unlikely to have one, since they would probably die before they were liberated). For others it was related to their work and jobs. It could even be a material thing, like a home or car. But the people who were liberated found that, once they were ready to return to their 'old lives,' they no longer existed. The people they had loved were dead, their possessions gone. So much of what had given them hope for the future wasn't there anymore. Imagine realizing that. What would you do then? It would be so shocking to find that what had given you a reason for living for so long, what staved off death, wasn't there. You would have to start completely over.

This brought up the idea that you shouldn't stock all of the meaning in your life in one thing. This seems strange, but if you put all of yourself into one thing you will be devastated to lose it. I don't think this means that you shouldn't love someone with all of your heart, or work really hard for a single important goal. I just think it means to find meaning in many parts of your life.

By the end of class, I was really thinking, "Where do I find meaning in my life?" This was on my mind for much of the day. What in my life is so important to me that it actually creates a reason for me to live from day to day? What makes it worthwhile? For me, it is really people more than anything else. My husband, my family, my friends--they are all more vital to me than anything else I can think of. But beyond that, it has been a little tough to decide what really, really matters.

I do have goals, but many of them seem flimsy to me right now as I think about them. For instance, I want to be a writer, but who knows if that will pan out the way I dream it will. I've worked long and hard for my English degree, but other than a piece of paper I don't know what it will get me. I haven't found complete fulfillment in many areas of life, and I honestly don't know how. What do I want to do for a career? How far do I want to go in school? I have glimpses of ideas and crazy dreams, but when it comes down to it what am I actually passionate enough about to go through with it and actually reap the benefits?

I think that this epiphany has led me to realize that, in some ways, I have been living a life rather void of direction for a very long time. I mean, generally I know what I want, but I don't have goals. Real, possible, realistic goals. Dreams and hopes are not enough. I need to act instead of follow little streams of inspiration here or there that eventually taper off into nothing.

I'm not trying to discount the things I do have, like my friends and family, and above all my awesome husband. Together we have goals for the future, like plans for our life (his teaching job, our kids, buying a home, etc). But as far as goals for my personal fulfillment go, there's not much. Does that make sense? It sounds selfish, but everyone needs to be sometimes, about things like this. The question is, what do I want to get out of life, and what can I, personally, put into it to make it the best it can be?

The first thing that comes to mind is to really get into my writing. I want this, I just haven't been taking it seriously enough. I need to write a novel, and try to publish it. That's a goal for has been for a while, but now I think it is really important for me to do it--to find more worth within myself, and meaning. Maybe, through this, I can find my true life's calling.

I also think I should try to learn new things. I am always afraid of taking risks and failing at things, but life is too short to think that way anymore. I could learn a musical instrument or work on a new talent. I could take a completely random class next semester just to see if I'd like it (like business or astronomy). I could try something I've always been afraid to do.

I know I won't do most of those things, but lately I have been desiring to add meaning to my existence. It just seems so vital right now.

If you have been reading this, feel free to comment and answer the question, "Where do you find meaning in your life?" I am truly interested to see what you have to say.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Um. Okay.

Today, as I waited for the bus to go home from school, I was talking on my cell phone with my sister Jana. As I stood there and chatted (and I swear I wasn't even being obnoxious or annoying) this fat, red-headed guy came up to me. He stood--I kid you not--no more than a foot away from me, and and as he invaded my personal space he held his hand up to his face to look like a phone and said something to the effect of, "Hello. I'm doing great, how about you?" He then smiled, hung up his imaginary phone, and walked away. It's not even like I was the only person at the bus stop on my cell phone...was he trying to make fun of me or something? He didn't seem quite right in the head to begin with...

Ahh, I love public transportation.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My hair, the sequel

I really post too much sometimes. Sorry the last post was so ridiculous. I don't know what to do with myself sometimes when I get ranting.

My new haircut. Thanks to Jenny, once again, for making me look like a total babe. I let her give me bangs, and they look wonderful but I'm still a little scared of them. I must learn to overcome the fear of having hair in my face constantly. I really do look better with a fringe.

Today was nice. We were able to spend much of it with family and it was, as always, nice to see them and find out how everyone is doing. And, of course, there are always cute babies. Sometimes it makes me want one ;)

Good Earth Natural Foods = The Wal-Mart of the health food world

In case you didn't know this about us already, Dave and I have a particular diet that makes it hard at times to shop just anywhere. I mean, we usually shop for groceries at Smith's or Albertson's for the bulk of our food, but there are certain things you just can't find at such places. For seitan, a wide selection of vegetable-based broths and mixes, and other vegetarian specialties, your local grocer probably isn't going to cut it.

We have been shopping quite frequently at this place called Harvest Fresh, a (seemingly) locally-owned, rather large health-food grocery store. They have always offered a pretty big selection of foods and other products that Dave and I can't find at Smith's or Albertson's. Plus, the prices were reasonable. We started to favor this place over Good Earth NaturalFoods (another health store close by) because we found it to be a better store overall and, in many cases, had a better selection and was cheaper. When we began cooking with seitan (wheat gluten), we could count on Harvest Fresh to have it in stock, while employees of Good Earth didn't even know what seitan was. We counted on Harvest Fresh to have what we needed and went there often.

A couple of months ago, we noticed that Harvest Fresh no longer carried seitan. This was annoying, but we lived on the hope that they would bring it back. They didn't. We were a little let down but we still shopped there anyway since they had the other stuff we needed. We didn't realize then that this was the beginning of the end.

Well, yesterday we dropped by Harvest Fresh to do some shopping and noticed something strange--there were signs on the doors that said "All Sales Final." We shrugged it off and went inside. As we took in our surroundings, we realized that most of the shelves were empty and there were employees cleaning up the place. We walked into the produce section to find a very small supply of fruits and veggies, most of which were moldy or squishy. Almost everything was gone.

Without buying anything, we left the store and Dave asked someone outside if the store was closing. They told us they were, and mentioned something about another bigger store opening on main street in AF.

A little heartbroken, Dave and I decided to venture to this other location and check it out. We were mad that the location so close to our home had closed, but we were happy that a place with even MORE selection had opened.

As we drove down main street in AF, we passed the store that the man had mentioned. Unfortunately, it wasn't a Harvest Fresh. It was a brand new Good Earth Natural Foods.

Horrified, we realized that in all likelihood this new Good Earth was the reason that our beloved health food store had been forced to close down. There is only so much demand for stores like that in this valley, and two Good Earth stores were plenty. I like to think that they really have build a brand new location for Harvest Fresh, but after checking their website I didn't see anything to confirm that hope. I really think they're gone for good.

Well, at least this Good Earth looked larger than the other one we knew of. So we went right on in to discover that...well, it wasn't. If anything, it was smaller. With sighs of dismay we perused the aisles and bought what we needed--what we would have purchased and Harvest Fresh--and were grateful to at least find some (vastly overpriced) seitan in the frozen food section.

I guess that monopolies in the retail world aren't limited only to the likes of good old Sam Walton. From now one, I guess we'll be shopping at the over-priced and nutrition supplement-packed (I swear, half the store!) Good Earth. What else can we do?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Last Weekend

Does anyone else hate that feeling you get on Sunday afternoon? You know, the feeling that is born of the realization that the weekend is all-but over? It's such an awful, empty, helpless feeling. Weekends are pretty much the only time I have that is guaranteed to include plenty of time with Dave, as well as friends and family. Once Monday comes, I know I have to push other things aside and dedicate my time and energy to work and school endeavors. siiigh....

I don't want to go into detail, but in a to-the-point way here is what happened over the weekend:

cold, rainy weather
wedding reception
took work off on Friday :)
Krispy Kreme
movie night
12 Angry Men
visit to the in-law's house
Settlers of Catan
Wasted time
Used time wisely
Perfect Dark
Reading (but not enough...)
Dinner with Jana
Dyed my hair
walking with Dave
many conversations
burned cookies

I miss the weekend :(

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Change of season

Fall is here.

I live in a beautiful state and all, but it is my opinion that only a few months out of the year are actually bearable, weatherwise. There are spring and early summer, which are just about perfect for me--rain, a fresh chill in the morning, lovely breezes. Then there is fall. Fall is a delicate balance between the last warm rays left over from summer and the harsh wasteland of cold that is winter. Fall is a scary time simply because it teeters so close to winter. And there's more to it than that.

Automatically, I get anxiety when fall comes. I have been conditioned to hate fall because it was the beginning of a new school year when I was a kid (back when I really hated school), among other things. But now, I become anxious because of what happened last year. Fall semester one year ago was one of the hardest times in my life. I was always worried, often depressed, and on the brink of some kind of breakdown. I was sad, and I cried a lot. I was stressed out beyond anything I'd ever felt before. Poor Dave must have equated this to me disliking our marriage, but really it was just a combination of the depressing weather and a very, very difficult school semester. It was horrible. It was a hell I don't even know how to describe fully, and would never wish on anyone.

But this year is better. I do feel a touch anxious, but when it gets bad I remind myself that it is due to memories of last year, not because I'm actually sad now. In fact, I'm feeling better than I ever have in many ways. I'm almost done with my associates (a small but satisfying academic step for me), my classes are hard but not impossible (and are, in fact, fun!), and Dave and I are happier together than ever. I feel generally more confident about school, people and relationships. I know I am one who is prone to depression, and some days feel eerily like last year, but on the whole things are great. Doesn't it feel wonderful to look back on something that was just so hard, so draining of everything that you are, and realize that you made it through?

Those things still don't change the weather, though. I have to tell you--winter in this state is one of the worst things on earth. I hate snow. Hate, hate, HATE! Once in a great while, I feel brave and am willing to go outside and play in the snow, but mostly I just want it to go away. I don't enjoy any winter sports, and I don't like walking in snow or standing in it while waiting for the bus. It is in the way and it's cold and deadly to drive in. Fall is nice now, but in a short time that white stuff will fall innocently from the sky and cover everything. but trust me, it's not innocent at all. Arrgh!

Sorry. Sometimes, though, I actually do miss living in Arizona. Best. Winters. EVER.

On the bright side, though, Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, and those are my favorite holidays. They are a brightness in the midst of the drudgery of those cold winter months.