Remember the Time….It Was My Birthday?

Most people’s 21st birthday has something to do with alcohol and drinking, and possibly spending the next day miserably hung over. As soon as you’re old enough, go for it, right?

At the time, I didn’t (and didn’t really want to) drink at all. I was apathetic about doing something special for my 21st birthday – being 21 was reward enough in my opinion. So I decided to let my mom run with it. She wanted to do something where my little cousins could come have fun, as well as the adults. The venue would be John’s Incredible Pizza. I was a little worried about the general age range of birthday parties, but went with the flow.

You can imagine that most of the normal birthday-boys and girls were at least 10-12 years younger than I was. It was apparent on the faces of the staff when they came into the room expecting a pink-garbed little girl and nervously said, “Well I guess you probably don’t want to wear the party hat?”

The room was decorated the way you’d imagine a kids’ birthday party would be, and my family sat around the tables and ate our pizza and cake and ice cream, then went out into the arcade. This is where the party went from kind of awkward to immensely fun.

My little cousins Catie, Elijah, and Jeremiah were just at the age where they could enjoy the arcade games and bumper cars with a huge amount of blissful joy. The best part was probably the bumper cars – all of us grabbed our own round, rubbery-sided cars and drove around bumping each other with mad glee. We waited in line to go on multiple times with the whole family, and had a blast.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting the arcade – playing Dance Dance Revolution, SkeeBall, and some of the more chance-oriented games where you have to hit the button at the exact time to get the amount of tickets necessary to pluck that giant stuffed animal down from the shelf. Even now, if you offer me a stuffed Pikachu for prize tickets, I’m probably going to try my luck at getting enough tickets for it. Playing DDR with a group of family members cheering you on (or even joining you) is enough to make your cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much.

Although at the time I felt a bit awkward about having my 21st birthday at a place for little kids (and the staff certainly didn’t help) it’s a fond memory now, even just a few years later. I’m glad that I was able to spend the time around my family, having fun doing an activity we don’t normally do together, and just having a blast being silly or bumping each other in big, rubber-sided cars.

 

This post is for the Remember the Time Blog Hop hosted by Emily at The Waiting.

 

Things I Love (Almost) Inexplicably

This topic  has been circulating the blog universe in the past few weeks, and I’ve really enjoyed reading a lot of them. Here’s my list of things I love (almost) inexplicably.

1. The feeling of sprawling on my bed after standing/running around all day.

When I’ve been sitting at my desk all day, and then sitting upright to drive home, the minute I get home it’s the best feeling to sprawl out on my bed and give my back a rest.

2. Talking theory and strategy for the games I play. Because I’m a nerd.

Seriously, if you play World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Diablo III; and you start talking about gear stats, rotations, gemming, mitigation tactics, etc., you might not get me to shut up. I read guides, try to get any character I play in any game optimized, and learn strategic methods to be the best player I can be. It’s become a problem, maybe, but I think it helps my problem-solving skills. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

3. Fuzzy. socks.

I collect fuzzy socks. When I was working retail, I bought a couple of sets, and now people have been giving them to me as gifts. Fuzzy socks cradle my feet, and they are the best for lounging around the house, or wearing under boots on a workday for a hidden, comfortable refuge.

4. Black and white photography (shooting, hanging it, and looking at it). 

Black and white film photography is some of the most breathtaking photography for me. It is so surreal and outside of the realm of real life, since we all see in color. My bedroom has almost all black and white photographs hanging around it, and it’s comforting to me.

5. Using a towel fresh out of the dryer.

One of the best things is getting out of the shower and using a towel that’s still warm from the dryer. Considering the setup of my house and my need to have a towel ready by the time I get out, it doesn’t happen often.

6. Black pearls.

Pearl is my birthstone, so growing up knowing what it was has influenced my fondness for them. I think black pearls are the most beautiful. There was a time I thought that I’d like my future wedding or engagement ring to be a small pearl. They’re unique and not so sparkly.

7. IKEA comforters.

When my mom and I were shopping to send me off to college, we went on a huge IKEA shopping trip to make sure my room in college would be like a home-away-from-home. There were quite a few of those purchases that have stayed with me since I moved out on my own after college, but the hands-down best is my duvet comforter with switchable covers. It’s soft, comfortable, not too long, and incredibly warm. I love it because it’s sufficient all year, and because of my hate for top-sheets I can keep my bed the same way all year.

8. Hoodies. Especially ones with letters, patterns, or designs that I deem ‘cool’. 

I’ve gotten better about not buying as many hoodies, especially because I mostly shouldn’t wear them to work. It doesn’t mean I don’t still have too many (and want more). I have zip-ups, pullovers, in pink, black, blue, red; and from lots of trips, organizations or schools I went to. I remember part of the reason I was excited to work at summer camp was so that I could have a hoodie with “STAFF” on the back. Sadly, they stopped doing that right when I started working there. -_- I’m pretty sure the next one I buy will be an Alliance hoodie from Jinx.

9. Shellac manicures.

This is usually a pretty special treat for me because they tend to be expensive. I love them for the convenience of not worrying about broken nails and the bonus of them looking really nice for weeks at a time. I currently have one that has looked perfect for a week now, and shows no signs of chipping. The last time I got a really good one, I moved between apartments, carrying boxes, moving furniture, etc. That includes shoving things up the steep stairs with no railings. I didn’t even chip a nail. It was a miracle.

10. Old buildings.

Something about old buildings makes my heart leap into my chest with happiness. I don’t know what it is. A sense of adventure and exploration fills me and I want to photograph or write about it immediately, or just set up camp inside and write about it while looking around its hallways and rooms. I think part of the reason I liked the East Coast so much was because there were historic buildings everywhere. Honestly, it’s really what sparked my interest in photography in the first place.

 

Now tell me, what do you love almost inexplicably?

The Room of My Heart

This post was inspired by Jennie at Tip of My Tongue. You can see her post here.

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What would the room of my heart look like?

It would look like a Victorian house. It’d have wall to wall bookshelves with hundreds of books on them, tall enough that I’d have to climb a ladder and sail along the length of them like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. It’d have a cozy hearth, with a roaring fire all the time to keep me cozy and warm (since I get cold at all times of the year). It would have a three-sided window with pillowed seat for reading and looking out the window into the world. It’d have hardwood floors and a four-poster queen sized bed that wouldn’t give me a backache if I decided to sleep in.

There is a giant beanbag chair that I can kick back in with one of my many Moleskines and write the day away if I feel like it, or sit with an all-powerful laptop and play games if I want to. There is a shelf displaying all sorts of cameras, from Rolleiflexes of all years to Holgas to Hasselblads and Canons and Dianas. Some of my photography decorates the wall above it.

There are also photos all around the walls, arranged artistically. They are like photos from the Harry Potter world, moving pictures where my family, friends and loved ones are laughing and moving and waving. They are closer to the center of my heart’s room than anything else.

Tell me, what would the room of your heart look like?

 

Reading Comics When I Can’t Brain

For most of my life, I’ve stuck to reading novels to feed my reading itch. More recently, blogs have been added to that as well. When I was in high school, a friend of mine lent me some of her manga that I enjoyed reading (even though I was a little “whoa” at reading them ‘backwards’, but it was cool!), and I’ve dabbled in online comics, but I haven’t read them regularly in a long time.

I’ve been watching YouTube a lot more than usual, mostly for World of Warcraft lore videos (yes, I am a nerd). A lot of them take images from the WoW comics to illustrate the story. I then remembered that there are actually other comics I want to read, and I’ve suddenly gotten the urge to start reading them all at once.

The Dark Tower Comics

Oh, Roland. :)

I just read the Dark Tower series from beginning to end last summer, and I’ve already been pining to return to its pages. What better way to return to the world than through the comics? The story is well done, although obviously not as richly detailed as the books are. My favorite part so far has been seeing more of Cuthbert and Alain, characters we only get to see during one novel in the series. They made me laugh out loud more than once. I’m up to The Journey Begins, which covers some of the events of The Gunslinger. At this rate, I may have to read The Dark Tower series again before the year is out.

Warcraft: Sunwell Trilogy

I liked getting to know the story behind Kalecgos better.

I finished reading these last week. The author of these comics is Richard Knaak, who also writes some of the Warcraft novels, and he’s definitely not my favorite of the Warcraft authors. However, his writing comes off better in the comics, except for Kalec and Anveena constantly going “C-can” or other stuttering that doesn’t make any sense in the context. The art was gorgeous, and gave me a better perspective of characters you don’t see in the game. Of course, I had to go and solo Sunwell Plateau immediately after finishing these, which sadly completes Anveena’s story forever. Even if you’re not into the Warcraft games, the universe is pretty cool, and I enjoy reading them for the stories themselves.

World of Warcraft comics

Valeera is KIND of awesome. I may be biased because she’s a blood elf and a rogue.

Nobbel87 on YouTube has a lore video about Valeera Sanguinar, a friend of Broll Bearmantle and King Varian Wrynn, on his channel. I knew that Varian had been a gladiator when his consciousness was split in two, but didn’t really know that he had made lifelong friends in the process. Of course, this series about these three characters is just one of the many stories in the Warcraft series, but it’s where I’ve started. I haven’t finished these yet, but Valeera’s story is compelling, her loyalty, her courage, and her strength to overcome anything thrown at her makes her a great character to read about. Plus, seeing a side of Varian where he’s accepted someone for their character rather than what race or faction they belong to is great as well.

The Sandman series

I’m excited to read these!

In case you haven’t heard yet, Insatiable Booksluts is hosting a readalong of The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. Sadly, I still haven’t gotten around to reading any of Neil Gaiman’s work, so having the excuse to start with a comic series is pretty cool. I’ve heard rave reviews about it for a long time, and so am excited to start reading. For more information on the readalong, here’s the introduction post, or you can click the button on my sidebar. 

Do you like reading comics? Have any to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!

About Dining Alone

There are many times when I’d prefer to dine alone.

There’s something about sitting alone, maybe with a novel, a notebook, or a camera, and focusing your entire attention on the plates of food in front of you. There’s something about savoring every bite, and thinking about exactly why you like it or don’t like it. Sometimes being alone with the food without any distractions gives you the time to understand exactly why that wine you’re sipping with dinner tastes so scrumptious with what you’re eating.

It’s fun to cut through the stigma of the lone diner, the one people stare and point at, the one that even the waitress kind of side-eyes as she sets the menu on the table. “Are you waiting for someone?” she asks.

“No, it’s just me,” answered with a dazzling smile and a companion conjured out of nowhere, whether it’s a book or the glass of wine that you’ve just ordered, at least to get people to stop wondering about you.

It’s a time to spend with yourself, and learn about yourself, things you might not have observed if you had to entertain another person sitting across the table from you. Another person sometimes brings even more noise into your life than you already deal with every day.

Personally, I enjoy my time to enjoy food on my own – whether I’m sitting outside my office on the beaten up old barn porch with my breakfast-for-lunch I walked to get, or sitting down to a nice dinner at the backstreet, cheeky restaurant and bar downtown, I feel satisfied by the simple pleasure of food, wine, and desserts.

Do you ever dine alone? Do you prefer it?

Fitness Band Problems

I was thrilled on Christmas Eve to open my present from the boyfriend, and inside was a Fitbit Force.

I had been thinking of purchasing one, and he had read my mind. Plus, it was a wristband that could function as a watch, tell me how many floors I’d climbed every day, help me get an idea of what calorie burning looked like, track my sleep, and give me goals to reach (because who doesn’t like to level up?). It even had a silent alarm that I could use as a backup in case I slept through my Morning Worm alarm (but come on, who’s going to sleep through a siren?).

I had a happy few weeks of wearing my wristband all the time, only taking it off to shower. It went with me everywhere and stayed with me while I slept, ate, went on walks, lugged groceries up my stairs, and raided with my guild. It even stayed with me while I was sick and my step count was atrocious since I was hardly getting out of bed.

But, there was trouble in paradise.

I began to get a skin irritation that looked like mosquito bites, or at least, how I react to mosquito bites. I switched wrists to avoid the irritation, and then that wrist flared up too. Still thinking they were mosquito bites, I continued wearing the wristband, putting band-aids over them to prevent my shirt sleeves from rubbing them, slathering on topical Benadryl like my life depended on it, and generally being miserable, both with the itching and the gross appearance of my wrists. After even going to the doctor and getting them looked at, and many weeks of using hydrocortisone cream, they are finally getting back to normal. That’s when I saw this article, and realized I’d been wrong all along.

The Fitbit Force had been causing some users skin irritations, probably because of the exposed metal (a combination that includes nickel)  that comes in contact with your skin. Despite being decidedly not allergic to nickel, I’m assuming some chemical reaction between my skin and the metal and sweat caused my skin to flare up into the disgusting picture it was a few weeks ago. Fitbit is recalling all of them and giving any users a full refund. They also have said that they will be developing a next generation wristband, coming soon (TM).

On the other hand, Fitbit has another wristband, the Flex, that is completely waterproof and can be worn in the shower, in the pool, etc. However, it does not have a screen or an altitude sensor, so I would not be able to track floors climbed.

So, even though I’ve been asking around already, tell me what you think. Once I get my reimbursement check, what should I do?  Should I go with the Flex? Should I wait for the “next-generation” wristband they’re coming out with next? Or should I forsake Fitbit completely and go with a Nike Fuelband or something similar? Let me know in the poll below and your thoughts in the comments!

How Fast Can a Snowboard Fly When You Feel Like an Idiot?

As you might have concluded from this post, I am not athletic. The idea of snow sports wasn’t really even on my radar until I began attending private school in sixth grade.

Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, even waterskiing, wakeboarding, and water tubing were all foreign to me. In seventh grade, we had a day ski trip scheduled to Bear Valley ski resort. I wanted to try at least, and signed up for the ski weekend and a ski lesson while I was there.

After going through the rental, boot fitting, and equipment pickup processes, I went to my lesson.

I should probably stop here to remind you that my family doesn’t do any snow sports. At all. I borrowed snow clothes. Bright yellow, suspendered, marshmallow-like snow pants and a mishmash of my own jackets and sweaters. No goggles. I’m not even sure if I had gloves on that trip.

I was already feeling pretty embarrassed, but it got worse when within ten minutes of the skiing lesson starting, my skis had gone from parallel and close together in the proper form to a sliding, slipping V that ended in me crying in pain while my knees were inverted between my skis and my ankles were trapped in my boots. I couldn’t stand up to free myself, reach my boots to unclip them, or fall over sideways to stop the pain. I ended up being helped by an instructor and carted off to the first aid station where I swore off my skis for the day and went to sulk in the lobby with my ankle elevated and watched everyone else ski from the window.

You’d think after all that, I’d just smile and nod when people talked about snow sports.

In college, a group  of friends and I decided to go snowboarding over a long weekend. We stayed at L’s parents’ big house, and enjoyed a good portion of the weekend watching movies, laughing and playing games.

The day we went snowboarding, I left the house clad in another borrowed snowsuit and determined to learn to snowboard. It seemed like fun, and despite the fact I’d never truly learned to even skateboard, I was ready to learn.

I rode the lift up a couple of times with A, on a slightly harder hill than the bunny hill and he guided me down, teaching me the ways to “cut” the board into the snow so that I’d control how fast and where I was going.

I began to get the hang of it, excited that I was learning. I began thinking that maybe what people told me about being either good at skiing or snowboarding was true, and snowboarding was just my thing. But, that’s also when it all went downhill.

See, A had a crush on V. And V didn’t know how to snowboard either. So I went up the hill with the two of them, and was promptly ditched the moment we hit the hill. Not sure if I could manage on my own, I tried to maneuver my snowboard the same way, but after wobbling like a bow after it’s been shot and having my feet slip right out from under me, I decided the hill was a little too much too soon to go by myself. Dejected, I unthinkingly took off my snowboard and removed the safety wire that kept my snowboard attached to my boot.

I also didn’t realize you could ride the lift back down.

I began hoofing it down the hill, slipping and sliding as I went. A particularly nasty fall landed me flat on my back, and my snowboard bounced out of my hands. My rented, probably $300 snowboard.

It landed slippery side down, and went flying down the hill faster than I could get up to snatch it. I sat there horrified as it sailed merrily past confused looking snowboarders and past the grouping of trees on the side of the slope. I hoped it’d hit a tree and stop, but it managed to slip between all of the gaps and disappeared from sight.

I stood there gaping at it for a few minutes, before trudging down the hill, dodging snowboarders that gave me weird looks and asked questions half-to-themselves as I passed them. After managing to arrive back at the lodge, minus my snowboard, my friends began to ask what had happened. I had to go to the reception desk, file a report, and let them know what happened, between eyebrow raises and incredulous looks that wondered why I didn’t know the way a ski resort worked. The woman at the desk roughly said that if they didn’t find the snowboard, that I’d be charged for the full replacement cost. As a college student that had spent most of her extra funds on even going on the snow trip in the first place, I left the resort with a lump in my stomach at my oversight.

I am glad that six years after the fact, I can laugh about the whole thing, especially the sight of the snowboard sailing off into the distance. However, snow sports are lumped in with the other athletic failings I have. I think I’ll stick with sledding or tubing if I am visiting the snow.