April 28, 2009 at 8:13 am (Uncategorized)

I feel like crap today.  It’s mostly because I have a headache (and it’s very likely the same headache I had yesterday morning).  I’d hoped that drinking some extra water this morning would help, but no dice.  I should have just taken Aleve and been done with it.

Plus, it’s raining, kind of.  Not really raining, so it’s not really worth using an umbrella, but it’s enough rain that I arrived at work rather damp.  Even knowing that we probably need this rain doesn’t make me any more inclined to be happy about it.


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Rick Perry really needs to just shut up.

April 17, 2009 at 10:05 am (Politics, This Makes No Sense) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Okay, I was first going to call this post “Texas, please stop embarrassing me,” but I realized that the state of Texas is actually an inanimate object that, as far as I am aware, has never done anything to hurt anybody.

But that’s not to say certain Texans *coughRickPerrycough* aren’t capable of embarrassing all the other Texans on a Texan-sized scale.  Everything is bigger in Texas – including Rick Perry’s hair, his lack of rational thought, and his lack of common sense.

I really wish that somebody would just sit him down and explain that he was only re-elected as governor because Texas law doesn’t require run-offs.  He seems to have missed the fact that, though he did get more votes than anyone else, 61% of the people voting in that election didn’t vote for him.  He also seems to have missed the fact that a significant portion of those anti-Perry voters were Republicans (Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Republican running as an independent, got 18% of the vote).

So when Rick Perry starts implying, in public, with reporters around, that Texas can secede from the Union (and that maybe it should), he’s embarrassing the state of Texas and all Texans on a monumental scale.  Texas is not a sovereign nation.  The Republic of Texas willingly joined the United States back in 1846 because the 10 year experiment with nationhood left it bankrupt and unhappy.  And the state willingly re-joined the Union after the Civil War because of the ass-whipping the Union delivered to the Confederacy.  I have to say, it sure takes a pair to beg for annexation in 1846, and then thumb your nose and secede 15 years later because that same country that annexed you is expecting you to follow its laws.  I really hope the irony of that is not lost on people.

I also really feel the need to point out, since this goes along with the stupidity of Rick Perry at the moment, that the so-called “tea bagging” movement is highly contradictory and hypocritical (and very inappropriately named).  As far as I can tell, people are protesting high taxes (the rates of which were voted on by a Republican Congress serving under George Bush), among other things.  They are also blaming all of it on Obama, who hasn’t even finished his first 100 days in office.  Because somehow, the economic crisis, size of government, and current rate of taxation (all of which happened before the 2008 election, as well as the Inauguration in January) is President Obama’s fault.

There also appears to be a lot of criticism towards the current government, coupled with statements of patriotism.  Do these people not remember the past 8 years?  Apparently, from 2000-2008, criticizing the government made you a bad American, treasonous, or actually a terrorist.  I may joke about people saying “Why do you hate America?” in response to any legitimate criticism, but that’s what it felt like they were saying.  But now, since the damned liberals are “the man,” criticizing the government to the point of advocating secession is somehow patriotic (and it’s not just Perry who has gone that far).  Because it is just so incredibly patriotic to declare your sovereignty from the entity you claim to be loyal to.

Seriously, I think that being critical of our politicians and other officials is about as American as it’s possible to get.  But there is a point at which it becomes rather counterproductive and, dare I say it, un-American.  Criticizing them because you believe in the system and want your officials to do better (or leave office so someone else can do better) is one thing.  Criticizing them because you’d like to withdraw your loyalty and give it to another entity is something else entirely.

I also feel the need to point out that this “tea bagging” movement is something that was entirely engineered by established conservative pundits, politicians, and think-tanks.  It’s not a real grass-roots movement, because it wasn’t brought about because of ordinary private citizens (or even smaller scale politicians).  This movement is much more properly labeled Astroturf.

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April 15, 2009 at 9:00 am (Travel) (, , , , , )

I’m having a hard time with the fact that it’s only Wednesday.  It’s sad, because I had two vacations just recently, but I feel like I need another one.  Only this time, I need a vacation that involves nothing more complicated than me sitting around my apartment and amusing myself in whatever way strikes my fancy.

Going to Houston was great, but I didn’t really have all that much down time.  I planned it that way on purpose, because there was kind of a lot that I wanted to do, and a lot of people I wanted to see.  I wouldn’t have been able to make the most of my time there if I’d planned on having time to do nothing.  But, of course, when I got home again, I had missed out on my weekend, and still had all the chores I wasn’t able to do over the weekend (plus the chores around unpacking).

And, in hindsight, it was maybe not the very best decision to plan a trip home to Houston that would have me getting back home just four days before Amiel’s parents visited.  I hate having visitors when I feel like my life isn’t quite in my control, and it always takes me at least a week after a trip anywhere to feel like I’ve got it all in hand.  So I spent a bit more time scrambling in that week than I otherwise would have.

But their visit was nice, and I enjoyed it.  We were able to go out to the coast, to Depoe Bay, and that was fun.  I’d never been up the coast that far north, and it was really quite gorgeous.  On our way up, we drove mostly up the coast on 101, and I think everyone but me was really surprised by the scenery.  But the Pacific coastline they are all used to is nothing like the Pacific coastline in Oregon.

We also stopped in this little town called Waldport that’s a little ways south of Newport and Depoe Bay.  I thought it was a cute little town, and had I been on my own, I might have wanted to poke around a bit.  There was a flea market I’d totally have gone into if I’d been by myself, too.  Flea markets usually sell junk, but I love looking through them anyway.  We stopped to eat at a restaurant there that looked to be half pizza parlor, half fish and chips stand, with Japanese bento boxes thrown in for good measure.  It’s sometimes almost comical the lengths that restaurants in Oregon will take “fusion food” – I suppose I can be thankful that there wasn’t any fish and chips in ramen type meals.

Anyway, we were all pretty hungry at that point, so I think all of us would have been just fine with “adequate” food.  It was a lovely surprise to find out that the fish and chips, at least, were actually pretty good.  Amiel and his parents all had halibut as their fish.  I tried a bit of Amiel’s, and it was tasty (I’m a fan of halibut, and it’s particularly good in Oregon).  I decided to get popcorn shrimp, and they were absolutely delicious.  Shrimp in Oregon can be a sort of hit-or-miss kind of thing.  Anything at least as big as your pinky finger was probably from somewhere else and frozen.  The little “shrimp meat” is sometimes good, and sometimes rather indifferent.  The popcorn shrimp I had at this restaurant was small enough that it could have been fresh, and I think is the best tasting shrimp I’ve had in Oregon.

The drive home from Depoe Bay was another story entirely.  Since it was just Amiel and I at that point, we decided to take a faster route that left the coast at Newport.  Since it was insanely windy that day, we were thrilled to be getting away from the coast that quickly.  It’s really too bad it was so windy, because the road we took was quite picturesque and winding…but the wind made it rather challenging to drive on.  I think Amiel and I may try to go back that way sometime this summer, and hopefully it won’t be quite so windy.

And, of course, when we got home, we had to go to the store and get ready for the week.  So I find myself, on Wednesday morning, desperately wishing for the weekend.  Fortunately, the only thing I have to do this weekend is get a new tire on my car, and that shouldn’t take more than an hour, hopefully.

So, that was the past week or so in a nutshell.

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April 8, 2009 at 9:14 am (About Me) (, )

Sometimes, after you’ve just been sort of cruising along for awhile, not having to deal with anything out of the ordinary or anything unusual, life seems to just sort of hit you with a whole lot of things at once.  They’re not always bad (and in fact, sometimes they are good), but it can be surprising.  The past week has really been like that for me.  I can think of half a dozen different posts I could write just about the last 7 days.

For now, I think I’ll just stick to writing about Houston.  The strangest thing is that everything there was so incredibly familiar.  I knew it would be familiar, because I grew up there and haven’t honestly been gone that long, but it felt as though I’d never left.  The only way I could tell that I’d been gone for a year and a half was that my memory of street names was a little fuzzy at times.  But otherwise?  I could have just been returning from a short vacation.

I just never expected the familiarity and, really, the comfort of it all to hit me so hard.  I immediately remembered all the reasons why I’d wanted to go back, as well as most of the reasons I was happy to be away.  That’s what made me think so strongly that “this is home” – I wasn’t just remembering the positives so suddenly.

Even with all of that swirling around in my head, I’m extremely glad I was able to visit.  I was able to see nearly all the people I wanted to, and eat in most of the restaurants I’d been missing. 🙂  I had a lot of really good conversations with some people, and they’ve given me a lot to think about.  I’ve been reminded of just how much I appreciate some people, and just how much I think I’m needed by others.

My flight home was a little rocky, but only because the whole trip started out late, which meant that my close connection became even closer, and my bag didn’t make it on the same flight as me.  Fortunately, it arrived in Portland several hours after I did, and I’m supposed to get it via FedEx this morning.

But the most amazing thing about this whole trip is that I don’t know that I realized just how…torn I am between where I live now and where I grew up.  Because that instant familiarity I had with Houston?  I had it when I got home, too.  Even though I was gone for nearly a week, it was as if I’d never left.  I slipped right back in to my life here with barely a stutter.

How is it that one person can feel so strongly about two places?  And yet, they don’t actually compete with each other.  I feel equally strongly about Oregon and Houston, but it’s still different.  Houston is and always will be the home of my childhood, and I’ll always feel a very close affinity with it for that reason alone.  Oregon is the place where I’ve settled into my adult self.  And I’ve been and will continue to be happy here.  I think I’ll always want to be able to visit both places, for the people and just for the places themselves.

But it struck me that I’d really better get used to this feeling, because it’s only going to amplify as I get older.  Because of the circumstances of my life, I will not be able to settle anywhere permanently for awhile, unless I just get really lucky.  I will almost certainly spend my 20s being relatively nomadic.  Unless I just refuse to put down roots in all the places I live, pieces of my life will always have an indelible association with the location where they happened.  Certain times of my life will always be wrapped up in where I was living at the time.  I know this is completely normal, but I don’t know that I really understood exactly what that meant until now.

Fortunately, the idea of all that doesn’t scare me as much as it once might have.  I’ve proven to myself that I can make a home in a new place that I’ve never been to before, and that I can be happy with it.  It’s frequently hard, and it often sucks, but I’m doing it.  Surprisingly, I actually look forward to doing it again.  If anyone had told me I’d say that 5 years ago, I’d have called them crazy.  But even knowing that it will be hard and it will often suck, I still look forward to the experience.  Maybe it’s false optimism, but I think I sometimes need to be forced out of my comfort zone.  I know that every time I ever have been in my life, it’s been good for me and I’ve ended up liking myself that much better.

And you know, if being happy is living truly without regrets (and not just saying that because you wish you could), then I am.  When I look back at my life so far, the times when I have been the most dissatisfied and unhappy are those times when I wished I could have done things differently.  The times when I have been the most comfortable in my own skin, and the most happy, are when I think I did everything just exactly right.  At the moment, if I were to have a chance to live the past couple of years again, I don’t think I’d change a single thing.

Who’d have thought that one small vacation could teach me so much?

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Oregon didn’t want to let me go!

April 2, 2009 at 9:23 am (Travel) (, , , , )

So I’m visiting Houston this week, for the first time in a year and a half. This is the first time I’ve been back since I moved to Oregon. It’s sort of surreal in a lot of ways, although I think I’m going to talk about that in another post.

What I really wanted to write about was my trip to get here. I’ve done a lot of traveling in my life, but I think yesterday’s experience may still have made my top 5 of “most memorable trips.” And not in a good way.

So, I flew Southwest, which meant I had to fly out of Portland. It’s a bit of a pain, because it’s a 2 hour drive, but it’s nothing terribly serious. I could have taken the Amtrak, but it would have been really inconvenient, and not really any cheaper.

I managed to get myself on the road by about 8:30, which would get me at the airport an hour and a half before my 12:00 flight. About 30 minutes into my trip, my car started acting a little funny, and then I saw rubber flying at my windshield. Thank god I realized there was a problem and pulled over, because yep, I had a complete tire blowout. Half the rubber was completely gone.

So I got to sit on the left shoulder of the interstate, in the cold (because it was cold), and wait for the AAA tow truck as cars whizzed past me at 65 mph. It was terrifying. But, after half an hour, the tow truck got there and changed my spare for me (I could have done it myself, but it would have taken me just as long, and this was just better all around). Then I got myself back on the interstate, not able to drive more than 50 mph, and drove 20 miles to the next town. When I got there, I went to a tire place and bought a new tire. So, one hour and $67 later, I was good to go…but it was 11:30.

So I called Southwest, and was able to change my flight to one that left at 3:00 and would arrive in Houston around 11:30. 15 minutes and $230 later, I was finally able to get back on the road to Portland. I made it to the airport without any more incident, although it was raining the whole flipping way there. I almost forgot to turn off my headlights when I parked, because the shuttle to the terminal was about to pass my car just as I was getting out, and I didn’t want to miss it. Fortunately, I know I turned off my headlights and locked the car, so there shouldn’t be anything the matter with it when I return to Portland.

So I got to the airport, printed new boarding passes, got through security, and went to Wendy’s for lunch. They started boarding the flight a little bit late, but I wasn’t seriously concerned because my layover in Las Vegas was an hour and a half. But an hour after we were supposed to have taken off, they announced that the airspeed regulator wasn’t working, and they’d either find a new one or switch planes. Five minutes later, they told us all to get off, collect a plastic boarding pass to get back on another plane, and go across the hall to another terminal. Finally, about 4:45 we were ready to take off, although by then pretty much everyone on the plane with connecting flights had to be re-routed.

So I finally got to Las Vegas around 6:30, with just over an hour before my next flight. I got myself a new boarding pass, and then got on a plane that didn’t even have B group because it was not even half full. That was kind of awesome.

And, at 12:30 am, I finally met up with my parents at the airport to go home.

So, here I am in Houston, hanging out with my dad. The dog maybe remembers me, but at the very least, he’s decided that I’m not scary or anything. He slept in my room last night, and it took him for flipping ever to finally settle down and go to sleep. At 5:30, he wanted out so he could eat. Then he came back right before 7:00 and decided that it was time for me to go downstairs, too. Lucky for me, I was going to get up at 7:00 anyway.

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