Friday, May 30, 2008

We spotted the ocean

For Memorial Day, I took my car on its maiden voyage down to the Outer Banks, NC, to join a thousand of my closest LDS single friends for our annual trip. It seems that most of the singles on the East Coast are there, and a handful come from the rest of the country. It really is great fun. A lot of new friends are made, it's culturally acceptable to run around half-naked, and nothing beats relaxing on the beach for three days, unless you're one of the lucky people who can stay the whole week.

For the first time since 2004, I had an excellent birthday. Birthday wishes, hugs, spanks, and love galore! It's great fun to have 60 people sing "Happy Birthday" to you. Thanks to Gonzo for letting me hint heavily for three weeks that my birthday was going to happen at the beach, and to Smash for letting me steal the extra frosting. Also, if one must go to church on their birthday, it's great to have just one meeting. And, if there is a fireside later, it's best when it's brief, on the beach facing the surf, and in one's swimsuit. Technically, I was in a skirt. Finally, I started winning matches on "Guitar Hero" on this day and it was suggested that I start playing on Medium. Then, I failed miserably on another song, and it was agreed I could play on Easy for a bit longer.

I also realized that being the birthday girl, and being on the beach, allows one to be unabashed flirt. I flirted like crazy this weekend. Moreso than I've felt up to in a long time. Usually, I tire of it if there is no reciprocation and others are competing for the same person's attention. Neither problem really occurred. Most of those I flirted with flirted back, and I really wasn't competing with anyone, at least at the same time. It was great fun! I even scored some hammock time with someone. Woohoo!

The weather was perfect, my friends (both old and new) are amazing, and I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. I got tons of compliments on my car, and I love it even more than I did last week. We all secretly (or not-so-secretly) hope that we won't be there next year, because we'll be engaged or married. There are 361 days before the next Memorial Day, so it's entirely possible. Still, if I'm not married, spending another birthday and a long weekend on the beach with people I love sounds like a great alternative.

Friday, May 23, 2008

All this and more before 24

To add to the list of things I've accomplished thus far in my life, I have now successfully purchased my very own car! My poor VW was, technically, my first car, but my dad helped me buy it and co-signed on the loan. This one I, ultimately, did on my own, and I got a GREAT deal. There were lots of phone calls to my parents and Jane was with me as a sounding board the entire time, but it was my decision, and I'm so excited!!

Sunday night, I was considering the merits of buying v. fixing, and mentioned, to my roommates and parents, that I was interested in a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. Monday morning, I started getting phone calls and emails from local Honda and Toyota dealerships. I thought my house/phone was bugged until I realized that my dad had requested internet quotes on my behalf. Thanks Dad!

After two days of test driving, six days of freaking out, a lot of prayer, and remembering how to drive stick, I finally signed on my car last night! I now drive a 2008 Honda Civic LX, manual transmission.

Isn't it a sexy car?

And just in time for a road trip and a weekend on the beach! Outer Banks, here I come!

This weekend also marks the end of this nifty little giveaway at Project Domestication! Check it out!

Nobody likes you when you're 23

I'm turning 24 on Sunday. I actually really like birthdays, despite the fact that my last three all have very negative associations with them (breaking up, losing a job, car breaking down during a rush hour), and I'm looking forward to this one. I can't think of a single thing that could go wrong on that day, and what can beat a birthday with great friends on the beach?

Still, it does bring a change, of sorts. I will be in my mid-twenties, instead of my early twenties. This a marker that I'm inching ever closer to 30. Also, being young as I am and accomplishing the things that I am has always been a source of pride. This won't suddenly change when I'm 24, but, in my mind, it's not as impressive. Other people still think it is. I was talking to an auto insurance agent today and he was really amazed at everything I was doing/have done, especially compared to my peers. I love hearing that.

I do look a lot older than I did just a few years ago. To me, my face has aged quite a lot in the last five years. This could be from some of the stress I've dealt with, free radicals in the air, and just generally getting older. It's not like I look like I'm 50, but I certainly think I look more mature than I used to.

Surprisingly enough, just two weeks ago, I was asked if I was a student at the high school this person and I were at. Then, the very next day, find out that another friend thought I was closer to his age, which is 30. It's actually kind of fun.

So, not much is going to change when I can flip another year on my personal calendar, but it does require a certain amount of reflection. This last year has been really good for me, and I can only expect more great things in the year to come!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shut Up and Drive

I knew my car was overdue for a safety inspection. I also knew that whatever noise was coming from the passenger side wasn't normal and I would need to get it checked out. So, reluctantly, I made an appointment at the VW dealership for a safety inspection and a diagnostic on the noise. (I know that taking a car that is not under warranty to the dealership can be an expensive thing, but I had a coupon for a free inspection and I wasn't going to have any work actually done. I thought.) I convinced The Universe to come with me, since he knows more about cars than I do, and he's not someone you want to mess with, should they try to convince me unnecessary work was necessary. Still, I was expecting something like this:
Last night, as I was driving home, I noticed my passenger side headlight was out. No problem, as I happened to have a spare bulb and I'd already replaced the one on the driver's side. I was about to fix that when The Universe arrived at my house this morning. We worked on it together, and jumped into our cars to caravan to the shop.

Then my car wouldn't start. Wouldn't even turn over. The Universe jumped it, but it wouldn't stay on. When we did get it running, it idled really low. After toying with it for a while, I finally called my insurance to get a tow truck. They arrived much faster than we expected, which was great, and it was nice that I already had an appointment somewhere, and that The Universe was with me to help out. We authorized the diagnosis and then headed off to continue with our day. (By our day, I mean me tagging along with everything The Universe had planned. My day was pretty much shot by this point, and it was only noon.)

Then, I started getting phone calls. A few of them, actually. They replaced the battery and then found multiple other reasons why the car wouldn't start, and at least one thing they have to fix before it will pass safety.

The cost is significant. Suffice it to say that I'm now going to get some second opinions before I authorize any work, and possibly consider just trading in my current car for something newer and won't just randomly fall apart. I am not pleased.

Silver lining - The Universe is letting me borrow his car, at least until Monday. Also, this didn't happen next week, which is the week I'm planning on joining the annual pilgrimage to the Outer Banks.

My car could have died in a fiery explosion. I could have been stranded, alone, in the middle of nowhere. It could always be worse. But having expensive car repairs on the horizon is not a good thing.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Going for speed

I spent yesterday morning in traffic court. That was fun. Apparently, they don't really like it when you go 86 miles per hour in a 65 zone, even if it is the middle of nowhere. Plus, in Virginia, anything over 80 mph is automatically reckless driving. Joy.

So, charged with reckless driving, I had to appear before a judge. I had to wait for 2.5 hours for a gazillion other people to do the same thing. A lot of them were getting their charges reduced to improper driving and just having to do traffic school. Some were there for possession of marijuana and DUI! Those are not the same thing as a first time reckless driving offense, thank you very much. I spent the entire time I was sitting there thinking either Can we be done yet? or Oh crap, I'm going to jail! The judge was a kindly older gentleman who was being very nice to these people, even the ones who clearly had no idea what was going on. He'd give them their punishment and send them on their way.

Until it was my turn.

Judge: "You've been charged with reckless driving for speeding."

Me: "Yes, your honor."

Judge: "How do you intend to plead?"

Me: What? EVERYONE else got reduced charges. Fine. "Guilty, your honor."

Judge: "86 in a 65. You need to slow down. That's almost the speed where you could face jail time. You keep speeding like this, you're going to lose your license pretty quick."

Me: *wide-eyed* "Mm-hmm."

Judge: "Traffic school and court fees, logistics blah, blah, blah"

Me: *sideways glance at the officer who caught me* "Thank you, your honor."

And then I got the heck out there.

Since I was 1) The only white woman in the court room and 2) The only woman dressed quite nicely, I felt like the reason I got the only lecture I'd heard all day was because he saw me as some spoiled little rich girl or something, which is far from the truth.

However, the opinion that everyone else has is that I'm the only one whose future is salvageable. The druggies aren't going to quit, but if I slow down, that's one life saved.

I haven't gone over 80 in weeks.

The court fees were $72, and I can take the 8 HOUR TRAFFIC SCHOOL online for about $50. It could have been way worse, and I'm immensely grateful for that.

Fittingly, I ended my day by seeing Speed Racer with Princess. The movie = Good summer fun! Traffic court = Completely the opposite.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Strumming my pain

I did it! I played Guitar Hero! Saturday night, I was just chilling at Casa Crothers (my main social base in Maryland, home of Smash, and others), and it ended up just being me and Gonzo. I had her teach me and ended up having a lot of fun. "One more song" turned into "two more songs . . . or 9:45 . . . or something" turned into me saying at 9:44:37 "It's not quite 9:45 yet. . ." I even got pretty good. By the end of the evening, I was consistently in the 70-80% notes hit range.

I'm actually really looking forward to the next opportunity I have to play. I won't be beating anyone just yet, but one day soon, perhaps.

In other news, I spent the majority of Saturday at Six Flags in MD. A few poor souls got sick after only a couple rides and went home, but I was not among their numbers. Overcast skies made for perfect amusement park conditions with little to no lines, I got to meet some really cool people, and I discovered that Superhero even knew my name! It was a really good day. Both Superhero and I were down for the count after a crazy spinning ride, but it was worth it.

Other events I need to blog about: Fran finally coming to visit me (over a week ago now), and the chopping of my hair (it's still long, just not as long). I would prefer to include pictures in these posts, but my home computer is currently rather lame, and I don't want to put pictures on it until I know it's going to be okay. So, my dear readers, either you will be waiting for me to fix my computer, or I will just post without many pictures. We shall see.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Eat it, just eat it

I think that's what some kid did to his music.

Why did the teacher even return it?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I feel the earth move, under my feet

I love geology. It was always my favorite of my science classes. So, I was quite excited to learn that the random wave I felt under my feet yesterday was, in fact, an earthquake!

At the time, I just thought it was a really big truck rolling past, but it was not! I do realize that a 2.0 isn't particularly rare, and my Californian readers are going to think I'm crazy for getting this excited, but that's okay. It's still going on my list of natural disasters I have survived.

So I'm going home

When I read a book, I always picture the action, the people, the settings, etc. I usually have a pretty clear picture of what's going on, and it doesn't change if I re-read the books. The abundance of Harry Potter movies has somewhat skewed how I imagine the characters, but I still always picture Hogwarts as a variation of my high school. In The Giver, Jonas' home is the apartment my family lived in from when I was 6-12, as is the house in Memoirs of a Geisha. I've noticed a pattern that the homes my character's live is usually a variation of a place I've lived in, or at least somewhere I've spent a significant amount of time, like my grandparents'. This has recently started changing. Bella's house and Edward's house in the Twilight series look nothing like anywhere I've lived or am familiar with that I can think of yet, nor is the home of Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles of Narnia or Kaye's in Tithe. It makes me wonder if I'm becoming more creative, have been to more places than I can remember, or if it's the influence of the writer and the descriptions they use.

But, the reason for my post is this, what do you imagine or see when you are reading a book? Familiar settings or people? Or something completely different? Or do you not imagine it at all?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

While my guitar gently weeps

I have never played Guitar Hero. Ever. Considering the numerous opportunities I've had to play, this may seem to somewhat strange. At first, it was because I didn't know how, and I was embarrassed to ask, because all my friends seemed so good. I didn't want to look totally stupid, especially considering one of the first nights I was around it was a night I was already feeling pretty stupid anyway.

Then, I decided it was a kind of a badge of honor, like the fact that I've never seen "Titanic" or any other things that it seems the majority of my generation has done.

Last night, whilst watching The Universe and Princess play for a few minutes, and declining yet another offer for a turn, I realized it really was just the former, especially around guys. I wouldn't mind if I looked dumb around the girls, but I don't like to look totally inept around the menfolk. I also can be a bit competitive, and I would lose horribly. This is the same reason I watched a LOT of N64 in high school. I didn't have one, or anything gaming system (except a Virtual Boy and an old Sega), and I totally sucked compared to my friends who did. So I just watched most of the time.

Granted, I don't have a lot of time to just sit around and improve my gaming talent. I do, sometimes, drag out the old Sega, which I ended up "borrowing" from my brother and taking to DC with me, and play Sonic. But those skillz do not compare to Super Smash Bros. or MarioKart. I am awesome at the Wii, but it's not the same.

So, I want to learn Guitar Hero and possibly be awesome at it too. Playing is more fun than watching. Anyone want to teach me or let me borrow their gaming system whilst I have a break from school?

Speaking of looking silly, I started taking piano lessons again about a month ago, and I'm loving it. I'm learning this piece (for real now, I've been poking at it for years), but do I have to look as laughably serious as the composer does when he plays it?