Monday, January 20, 2014

January Ramblings

I'd like to dedicate this blog post to Lisa, Lisa, and Dee, three of my most delightful and generous customers.  Thank you for the note, by the way.

I celebrated my 23rd birthday just a little less than two weeks ago.  By that time, all three of my brothers had left our home to go their separate ways, and my second-youngest sister was also preparing to leave the state.  Now, it's just Greta, Cookie, me, and my parents again.  The house is quieter, admittedly more peaceful, and a little empty.
My 13th birthday.  It's been ten years since I became a teenager.
I'm at a crossroads in my life.  It's been four-and-a-half months since I've come back to Minnesota, and I need a change.  The new year, of course, is the obvious time for change. This year, I want my resolutions to be more than flimsy good intentions scribbled onto a page in my journal, shoved away into a drawer and forgotten completely by March.  I'm serious about changing my life because I need that change. 

I know I'm not being all that I can be.

Okay, enough of the heavy (well, for about a paragraph).  I have actually found quite a lot of silver lining even in my disappointments and melancholy.  For example, I've struck up some awesome new friendships and nurtured old ones as well.   I'm also quite proud of my reading streak.  (I occasionally go through phases of Reader's Block, during which my mind is too restless for a book to hold its attention.  Reader's Block is especially frustrating for someone who loves books as much as I do).  Anyway, I read the Divergent trilogy in less than a week...
...and now am more or less coping with a literary-induced fugue state, letting tears drop unabashedly into my tea as I desperately seek comfort.  I mean, honestly.  It's been a long time since I've cried this much over a book. 

I won't give away any spoilers, but I will offer a little background for anyone who isn't familiar with the series.  The dystopian setting reminds me of The Hunger Games, but Veronica Roth breathes a fresh kind of life into her vision of a post-apocalyptic Chicago.  (Also, the writing is better).  In this world, people are divided up into five factions, each based on one of the following virtues: honesty, kindness, selflessness, intelligence, and courage.  The story follows Beatrice "Tris" Prior, a 16-year-old who shows an aptitude for three factions rather than one.  Because of this, Tris is a threat to the system and must guard her secret to save her life from the people who want to eliminate all "divergent" citizens.

I became interested in this series through a friend's recommendation but I didn't get around to reading it until seeing the trailer for its upcoming film adaptation. Of course, seeing the male lead helped to motivate me to read the books.  Ulterior motives aside, though, I found the trilogy to be deeply moving and surprisingly sophisticated for the YA genre.
Remember the ridiculously hunky diplomat in Downton Abbey who dies in a rather compromising way?  I always felt mildly guilty for finding him attractive in light of his general odiousness.  Well, the actor is in Divergent, he's tattooed, he's brooding, and he plays a sympathetic character!  Win!
I will not explain the emotional state the conclusion of the series has brought me, but I do recommend jumping on this bandwagon (or should I say jumping on this train...  It's in the book.  You'll get it if you read it).

I know it's a small thing but I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish a book or a series of books.  I think this is just one step towards my new year of productiveness. 

Now, I'm off to find the next good book, or maybe to just get more tea...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Canadian Road Trip

(Merry Belated Christmas!  I'm terrible at deadlines, which is why this post is weeks late.  Better late than never!)

In my last entry I wrote about how stifled I've felt and how much I need time with friends.  So, when my friend D asked me, half-jokingly, if I wanted to accompany her for a short trip to Ontario, I jumped at the opportunity.
Oh, Canada
Oddly enough, the two English-language audiobooks D packed for the car ride were the same two novels I brought with me to Europe this summer, neither of which I had finished: I found travel too exhausting to allow for reading, though I started The Stranger on a train between Romania and Hungary, and The Alchemist in the schoolyard in Madaras during my breaks between teaching classes).

Bright and early, Monday morning, we loaded up D's Jeep and headed north.  Between the two of us, our "essential" luggage took up the entire Jeep, which is hilarious since both of us have lived abroad and should know how to pack light.  Anyway, among clothes, toiletries, and laptops, we had snack food and audiobooks.  And let me just say: I was pumped for this road trip.  Ever since I came home from my summer abroad, I've been itching to travel again.  Sure, Ontario isn't all that exotic, but it's the first chance I've had to visit Canada since the passport laws made it impossible for me to visit.  (Up to this point, my Canadian experience had been rolled up into two summer days of a family road trip when I was thirteen.  The water in our motel's pool totaled six inches and was coated with algae, while the walls of the pool house were lined with broken box springs.  At Niagara Falls the next day, my mom told me to get out of the car and stand in a parking spot.  Within five minutes, a French-speaking couple nearly ran me down with their vehicle.  It was also the 4th of July, which didn't matter in the slightest to the parking spot thieves).  In other words, when D and I departed on our wintery adventure, I sought a better impression of the vast, mysterious country to the north. 

The air outside the car was excruciatingly cold, but the skies were clear for us as we headed up 35.  Black ice was really the last thing on my mind, but out of nowhere, the everything started spinning.  The scene before the car spun twice, impossibly fast, yet somehow it was almost slow, graceful.  Then, as suddenly as it began, it stopped.
We were in the median, the right side of the Jeep firmly planted in the snow.  D and I were both disoriented; did that just happen?  For some reason, I couldn't help laughing, which I now realize was probably my coping mechanism for our near-death experience.  I was giddy that neither of us were hurt, and the car hadn't sustained ay damage, either.  Unlike me, D owns a cell phone, so she called AAA to tow us out of the median.

Thankfully we'd had sweet potato chips to gorge ourselves on for comfort as we waited for the tow truck.  Apparently being ditched in the median is more dangerous than being stuck on the side of the expressway, so the tow truck arrived less than an hour after our mishap.  I suppose at that point, any rescuer would be a glorious site to us, but D and I agreed that we lucked out on our young, chivalrous, farm-boy handy-man of a savior.   (Man, did he know how to rock a pair of wranglers! We considered asking him for a photo together, but decided against it for the safety of the other cars on the road.  Sadly). 

After a pit stop at the gas station for a bathroom and the loading up of Nut Goodies, we were safely back on the road.  D and I continued our girl-gab, gushing over our rescuer and lamenting that we would never have that picture together.  D opted to drive considerably below the speed limit to avoid other ice patches.  We didn't stop again until Duluth, where we mildly tortured ourselves by walking outside in the freezing air before getting a bite to eat.  The hours went by and we found ourselves buying gas across the road from the Beaver Bay Mini-Mall.  Classy.

By the time we reached Grand Marais, we were both hungry for an actual meal.  Food could wait, though, because the sunset over Lake Superior was too sublime not to photograph.
The sheets of ice kept shifting in the powerful current as I took this photo.

My fingers froze in the winter air, but I think this picture was worth the pain.
I made the mistake of ordering a $20 bowl of soup from the local tavern.  The bartender serving us was excessively rude and obnoxious, but I couldn't stiff him on the tip.  Something inherent about being a waitress stopped me, which is unfortunate because he absolutely did not deserve a penny from me.  (Not to mention, the soup was arguably the worst ever boiled: soggy spaghetti and moldy tasting shrimp.)

Since the sun had set back in Grand Marais, the last stretch of our drive was in the dark.  As we approached the border, D and I dug our passports out for inspection and she assured me that the checkpoint was all a formality.  Recalling the endless border agent protocols in Eastern Europe, I was pleased to hear this.  Unfortunately, the Canadian border patrol proved to be more trouble than any of the officers I had encountered abroad.  He regarded us suspiciously from the moment we gave him his passports, rattling off questions that only became more pointed as the list went on:
What is the purpose of your trip?
Whose family friends?
What are their names?
What is his occupation?
How do you know a member of Parliament?
Where are you staying?  At his house?
Do you have any firearms in your vehicle? (He didn't trust our simple "no" but elaborated).
No automatic or semi-automatic weapons, hunting rifles, shotguns, handguns, mace, or knives?  (I was surprised that he failed to ask about throwing stars, blunderbuss, or bear spray).
But what about my Bear Spray?  Is that allowed, Mr. Border Agent?
At any rate, he ordered us to park and come inside for further questioning.  D was as surprised as I was at this sudden detention.  I handed my soup to her to toss in the trash can outside of the station, but it spilled all over her seat and had to be wiped up with my fleece blanket.  Joy.  In the station, we were ordered to sit until a snotty female border agent called us up to the window.  She proceeded to bombard us with personal questions, writing our responses on a coffee-stained napkin before handing us back our passports and allowing us to leave.  Welcome to Canada.

We finally made it to our hosts' house, but not before getting lost and facing mild despair.  They were relieved to find us safe and intact, feeding us hearty Canadian food before showing us to our basement rooms.  Mine was the bigger, windowed room, complete with a temperature of arctic proportions.  I shivered on my bed, waiting for the shower as I turned the space heater full blast on the nightstand.  I was occupied with chatting to my mom online when out of nowhere, everything but my computer screen went dark.  In the bathroom, D's blowdryer went silent.  For a few stunned seconds I sat in the dark, disoriented by the shock of cold air that now smothered me in the absence of my heater.  Freezing, I jumped up to find D and learn what had just happened.  The combination of the hairdryer and my space heater had apparently shorted the circuit in the bathroom and my room.  Since our hosts had already gone to bed, D and I decided to share her room, which was smaller, windowless and, most importantly, had power.  Between several layers of wool blankets, the space heater, and shared body warmth, the cold wasn't unbearable.

D had some business at the local college for a good chunk of the next day, so I settled in to the campus library, surreptitiously people-watching while pretending to read.  Most of the students near me seemed to be finishing their term projects for finals week, which made me terribly nostalgic.  Oh, how I miss the campus life.  Sadly, I didn't find an opportune moment to actually talk to anyone, thwarting my ulterior motive for the trip.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to bring home the souvenir I wanted.  Boo.
That evening, we explored Thunder Bay for decent photo-ops.  I misplaced my mittens in the Jeep, not realizing the very real dangers of -23° C; my battery died and my fingers went numb very, very quickly in the cold.  We were freezing, hungry, and exhausted by the time we made it back to the car and over to the Kangas, a Finnish restaurant and sauna we'd planned to visit.
Frostbite is a small price to pay for a stunning winter portrait.
We shared a plate of pierogies and pancakes, and I ordered a sandwich to top it all off.  I certainly can't complain about Canadian cooking!  Anyway, after we ate we went down to the sauna.  I always forget just how thick the hot air is in there, but it was a welcome change from the cold.  I also realized that this was my third international spa experience, after the bathhouse in Budapest and the hot springs in Reykjavík.  (I'm moving up in the world, apparently).

When we got back to the house, we had another full meal and played board games with our hostess into the wee hours of the night.  D and I both packed our things so we could load the car quickly in the morning and get started on the long drive back.  We also wanted to leave early to get a few sunrise photos.
Sunlight over cattails
The quintessential parka pose
The drive home was less nerve-wracking than the drive to Thunder Bay had been, but it was still a long trip.  Since it was a few degrees warmer, we made several stops for photos.  This time, we had no trouble crossing the border.
December Trees
Lake Superior
Me and D at Split Rock Lighthouse
Despite spinning into the median, choking down bad soup, detention at the border, PMS crankiness, and generally freezing, the trip was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my funk.  I definitely want to spend more time in Canada... but maybe next time I'll go when it's warmer.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


I went through a phase in my life where I claimed to be an introvert.  During my late high school and early college days, I deeply cherished the long walks I would take in solitude through the woods, the trips wandering the mall with nary but my own company, window shopping and browsing through used books.  I have always been highly introspective, so I convinced myself that I was, deep down, an innie.
Admittedly, my false assessment might have been due to social desirability.
I have since found my delusion of personal introversion to be entirely false.  I am an extrovert, through and through.  (I like the sound of my voice, but I like knowing others are receiving those sounds waves even more).  Because of my extroversion, I find my mood, my motivation, myself, really, wilting. I simply don't have enough daily socialization, and I am pretty sure that Greta's beginning to feel smothered by my constant attempts for attention and validation.  (After awhile, my jokes really miss the mark).
(I'm going heavy on the symbolism, here).
I had no idea post-graduate life would throw this at me: I've never had a problem making friends anywhere and, perhaps because of this, I often cherished my reclusive days with Buffy, Dark Shadows, or even the random YouTube doc.  What I took for granted about those times, though, was that I lived on a campus overflowing with people.  Even on the occasional Saturday where I hardly left my room, I could still knock on Lorelle's door, I could still hear the voices and laughter of my floor-mates.  Even the co-ed frat's weird chanting and howling reverberating outside of Heffron Hall somehow fed my need for community.

Everything is different now.  I desperately need more regular human contact in my life.  I can't enjoy my alone time because there's too damn much of it.  I like work, but it doesn't exactly meet these needs.  (The most eventful happening at work tonight was the toilet overflowing). 

I want to be the girl who stepped off of a plane from Europe three months ago, the girl who had taken on the world and was ready to change every corner of her life for the better. 
Senior dance, last winter.  I miss my college friends like nobody's business.
Alright.  Tonight's bitch-fest is over.  In spite of my general discouragement, I enjoy all three of my jobs (I just started as a homeschool tutor; booyah for unconventional education!) and I have made some new friends.  I simply need to find balance so that I get enough of my social needs met that my alone time is worthwhile and enjoyable rather than unproductive and something I dread.  Hopefully this blog post will compel me to stick to this resolution.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Late-Night Cinema's Uncomfortable Truths: The Hunger Games

Thursday night, Greta and I attended the pseudo-midnight premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  I love late night premieres.  The anticipation, the excitement, the techniques of sneaking in pre-bought candy... (as if I'm going to spend $5 of my hard-earned tips on one box of candy?  No thanks.  I'll gladly shop at Cub before the show).  To make matters ever better, the theatre we went to has recliners.  Like, of the caliber of leather living room chairs.  (A few weeks ago, my parents saw a movie at this theatre and came back raving about how comfortable the seats were.  I brushed it off, but I now know exactly what they meant.  It's heavenly).
I could devote a blog post to indulging the over-tired, overgrown teenager parts of me that wants to marry Peeta Mellark.  I could, but I won't.  You're welcome.
For anyone who doesn't know, Catching Fire is the second installment of the film adaptations based on Suzanne Collins's bestselling Young Adult book series, The Hunger Games.  As someone with a degree in literature, I can be snobbish when it comes to an author's stylistic choices, and I often criticize YA novels for not measuring up to my standards.  Regarding the Hunger Games, the prose itself doesn't move me to the degree that many other works affect me.  However, the heart of Suzanne Collins's work shines through in the narrative, despite an admittedly simplistic writing structure.  I devoured the trilogy in less than two days during the Christmas break of my junior year in college and was both disturbed and refreshed by what I read.  Katniss Everdeen is not just rough around the edges, she's downright brutal in her struggle to protect her family and to survive the oppression of the Capital.  However much she hates it, she is capable of killing and proves that fact more than once.  She fabricates a romance with the boy who is clearly in love with her as a ploy to win herself more time in the Games, which later spins into a messy, painful love triangle.  No, Katniss might not be a perfect role model, but she exudes strength, determination, and above all, unconditional love for her sister; these qualities, as well as her horrifying situation, render her flaws entirely forgivable in my eyes as a reader.

I was impressed with the film.  The production was wildly successful in transferring the book to the screen.  On an aesthetic level, the cinematography was spectacular.  Moreover, Jennifer Lawrence, although she's not exactly how I imagined Katniss to physically look, flawlessly plays the part, and her scenes with Liam Hemsworth and with Josh Hutcherson entirely convinced me of Katniss's underlying love for both characters, in spite of her fastidious struggle to close herself off from love altogether.  Actually, the combination of Katniss's denial of her feelings and series's overarching theme of the Big Picture is what makes this love triangle so persuasive; it exists, in spite of denial and in spite of the impossibility of a neatly wrapped solution.  Now, I could devote a good portion of this post to gushing over Katniss and Gale's first kiss scene, or to her raw anguish at her discovery of Peeta's capture, but I won't.  I appreciate all that as much as the next person (or maybe more, considering that cynics are actually just jaded romantics) but the omnipresent oppression and evil embodied by the Capital's forces struck a chord far more profound than any romance could.
Even if the rest of the movie bored me (and it definitely did not), I could sit through it again just for this scene.
The scene that resonated the deepest with me was, not surprisingly, the same scene that affected me the most in the book.  After their victory in the first book and film, Katniss and Peeta are forced to tour each district on behalf of the same regime that forced two children from that district to be killed by or to kill one another.  In the first district that they visit, Peeta and Katniss disregard the shallow speeches prepared for them by the Capital and instead speak from the heart, apologizing for the loss of their children, particularly 12-year-old Rue.  The crowd is silently moved, and one old man whistles the mockingjay's call and salutes Katniss with three fingers, imitating her poignant defiance of the Capital after Rue's murder.  The people in the crowd follow suit, but a riot breaks out, the Capital "peacekeepers" storm in and the old man is executed as Peeta and Katniss are dragged away.  It is brutally moving to read and even more powerful and disturbing to watch on screen and I know I am not only one who hold this sentiment.  When I came home from the movie, I logged onto Facebook and read something my dear friend Lorelle had shared as a reaction to that sequence:
As I'm watching this I start crying when they murder that old man, and when they ransack the Hob because all I can think is, "How many people watch this movie and believe this is fiction? Because this is REAL. This is what life is like for thousands if not millions of people living in Afghanistan, Syria, North Korea, anywhere an evil regime takes power and squashes the rights of its people." And it just makes my heart break to see these characters who aren't even REAL experiencing something that IS so real to so many people.
I am of the belief that any story holding any value to readers is valuable because it carries something true or authentic about the world of its audience.  Lorelle's insight emulates the very real suffering that far too many human beings have suffered, do suffer, and will continue to suffer at the hands of corrupt governments.  It's an uncomfortable thought.  What's more uncomfortable, though, is that to some degree, "we" the people of the United States of America are the people in the Capital.  It's not as clear-cut as it is in the universe of the Hunger Games series, but our collective hands as a society are dirty.

To illustrate my point, I will draw upon something Louis CK said in one of his stand-up routines.  (Before I get into that I have to admit that, much as I love well-done comedy, I'm wary of stand-up because I've come across too many cheap rape jokes and similar misogyny).  There are a lot of jerks who reinforce sexist and racist hegemony through what they brush off as entertainment, but Louis CK doesn't fall into that category.  I've come to appreciate him as a satirist and philosopher who, in spite of rough edges, actually seems like a decent guy.  
Louis CK certainly doesn't shy away from offending people; regrettably, this limits his audience.  I think if most people could get past the profanity and vulgarity and truly listen to what he's saying, they'd be better for it.

On a unrelated note, I recently discovered that Louis "CK" is really Louis Székely, as in Székely Hungarian, the specific ethnic group of Hungarians I taught and lived with this summer in Romania.

In the last segment of his "Oh My God" routine, CK enters into a monologue beginning with "of course" and immediately rebutting that statement with a series of uncomfortable "but maybe" scenarios:
Of course, of course slavery is the worst thing that ever happened. Of course it is, every time it’s happened. Black people in America, Jews in Egypt, every time a whole race of people has been enslaved, it’s a terrible, horrible thing, of course, but maybe. Maybe every incredible human achievement in history was done with slaves. Every single thing where you go, “How did they build those pyramids?”  They just threw human death and suffering at them until they were finished.  How did we traverse the nation with the railroad so quickly? We just threw Chinese people in caves and blew ‘em up and didn’t give a shit what happened to them. There’s no end to what you can do when you don’t give a fuck about particular people. You can do anything. That’s where human greatness comes from, is that we’re shitty people that we fuck others over.
Even today, how do we have this amazing microtechnology? Because the factory where they’re making these, they jump off the fucking roof, because it’s a nightmare in there. You really have a choice. You can have candles and horses and be a little kinder to each other or let someone suffer immeasurably far away, just so you can leave a mean comment on YouTube while you’re taking a shit.
His last point (about Chinese factories) particularly stood out to me when I first listened to that segment.  In college, a Chinese friend of mine was working towards her degree in International Business and asked me to help her with a business-related ethics paper.  She had chosen the recent Foxconn suicides as her topic and, because of her Chinese citizenship and connections, had obtained a personal interview from a Foxconn employee.  I was horrified to hear his account of the widespread dehumanization of factory workers; it was very like something out of a dystopian work of fiction, only it's not. fiction.  And for my own, selfish, personal reasons, what bothered me the most about the issue was--and still is--that the laptop I use to type this blog, was manufactured in a factory by workers of that same monstrous, oppressive, corporation.

How can we help our collaboration with the oppressive corporations that create these nightmarish conditions, though, when our entire lifestyle and livelihood depends on existing into the societal framework already in place?  How can we oppose factory abuses if we are, like most of the glamorous citizens of the Capital, oblivious to the harsh price tag on material wealth?  I'm honestly wondering, because I don't know how to escape this system.

Right now, I don't have any answers to these questions, but I'm thankful that Louis CK and Suzanne Collins have prompted me to ask them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Coming Back to Life

I just posted a long-overdue entry on my travel blog, and I've decided something:  It's time for me to pull myself up by the woeful-post-graduate bootstraps and take charge of my life.  (Note: I've always wondered... what exactly does a bootstrap look like?  None of my boots have straps).
Greta, Mom, and I went to the Apple Orchard last month.

Seriously, though.  I've had enough of this moping "life-is-so-hard-for-a-graduate-I-wish-I-were-back-in-Europe-poor-me-the-couch-is-my-home-now" attitude.  Yes, my summer abroad rocked.  No, that's not a reason to lose the zest for my life here.  Granted, I've done some productive things since I've been home: I do have a couple part-time jobs and I haven't completely retired from the world, but––as any number of Disney Princesses from the late 90s would say––I want more.  Not in a greedy, materialistic sense; I want to do more with my life, here and now.  I want to introspect, to nurture and cultivate my relationships, to produce more writing, more meals, more sewing and furniture projects.  Admittedly, I'm being a little hard on myself.  I haven't been completely pathetic these past ten weeks, but I know I can do better than I've been doing.  (Part of the problem is that I have zero balance.  For example: There's nothing wrong with getting into a show but marathoning four seasons of True Blood in a week?  Excessive).
To be fair, though, what isn't excessive about this show? (eg. "Sookeh")
On more positive notes:
I took this at the LA Public Library when I visited my brothers in March.
  • I joined my friend Torrie's book club.  It's time for me to pull out my Lasallian Honors shared inquiry chops and dig back into literature!  (I supplemented this milestone by opening a Goodreads account).  At any rate, I hope this club will meet my social and intellectual needs regarding books. 
  • I met my cousin's baby boy for the first time this past weekend, and he is a beauty.  It's exciting to again be part of an expanding family!
  • I'm obsessed with my new bread machine.  Until I find a day job, I should be more useful around our house, so my Craigslist treasure has been serving me well.
Speaking of bread, the machine just beeped so I'm going to end this entry now and take it out to cool.  Anyway, I hope I'll get to updating this blog with more regularity.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Rejection and An Offer

Who would have known that un(der)employment would feel so exhausting?  I certainly didn't expect to be so overwhelmed by day-to-day living.  Yet, this post-graduate life often surprises me.
Greta and I visited a local family farm to celebrate the autumn season.  These cows make me homesick for România.
Despite the occasional crippling episodes of feeling useless and ulcer-inducing worries about finances, there are benefits to an open schedule.  In between my duties as Greta's private chauffeur, I've started on a few additional furniture makeovers.  Even though my current workshop (our garage) has been stingingly cold these past several days, enough layers and a plethora of podcasts to keep me company have made the atmosphere quite nice.

I've also been able to spend a good amount of time with my family without worrying about job obligations.  Two weekends ago, I traveled with my parents and sisters to visit our brother David at college, and this past weekend we visited my sister Annie and her boyfriend at my old stomping grounds.  I do appreciate long, scenic car trips, especially after 12+ train trips I endured in Eastern Europe.  Moreover, in an attempt to stay connected to the realm of Humanities, I've tried to maximize my travel time by listening to audiobooks in the car.  (Thank God I kept my portable CD player from junior high days gone by).
Graceful Peacocks
At any rate, I'm doing my best to remain positive about my current state of life, but impending bills are increasing the urgency of my perpetual (and, admittedly) half-hearted job search.  This endeavor was half-hearted because up until today, I felt lukewarm about searching for work as I had already applied to a prestigious company I expected to be a perfect fit: Creative work place.  Literature.  40K annually and a full benefit package.  Um, yes please?!  I'd poured myself into the application and patiently awaited a response from the company.  Today, after weeks of waiting, I was informed via email that I was "one of 90 qualified applicants" for the position and after "carefully considering a talented pool of applications, we've offered the position to someone else."

Enter: Disappointment. *sigh*

I knew the job was a long-shot for a fresh graduate, but I had at least hoped for an interview.  That's what bothers me the most, actually.  If nothing else, being given the chance to interview for a job of this prestige would certainly allow me a little boost into the professional world...  That being said, it's no use to cry over rejection (and to be clear, I didn't cry about this; my retaliation came in the fashion of a motherlode of potstickers wolfed down to Emily Vancamp kicking ass in Revenge) and this turn of events simply opens me to something else.

I do have a job offer, actually, as a sushi waitress.  In high school, I worked for YX, a lovely Chinese woman a local take out restaurant I will refer to as "the Wok."  I've since visited YX and learned that she is opening a brand new Japanese restaurant in a neighboring town; she hired me on the spot, delightedly. The grand opening is tomorrow; in less than 24 hours, I will find myself in a position similar to one I experienced as a junior in high school, beginning a new job in a restaurant managed by YX.  I love my boss, so I suppose I have a lot to be thankful for.  I doubt I'll be pulling in 40K a year by waiting tables, but it's infinitely better than going $4.37 under in my checking account, as I did just last night.

I'll be updating with photos of my furniture once it's finished.  I have yet to sell my piano bench, as my Craiglist buyer backed out the day before our deal.  If you're reading this and want the bench in my last post... say something, please.  :)

Until next time,
Greta took this picture of me among the vines during our visit to Winona.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Furniture Facelift

I’ve taken up a new hobby.  Long term boredom does that to people.  (After all, I can only sit through so much Dr. Phil... I do have my limits). 

Furniture just might be my calling.  
Before: Broken, nondescript, generally gross
After: Cute, quilted, shabby chic
I’m really happy with how my piano bench turned out.  It was a spontaneous endeavor, and I finished the project only two days after I spotting the bench at Goodwill.  I stopped at the hardware store for new hinges, brushes, and paint and eagerly began my new project.  I removed the ripped vinyl cushion (with spongy foam spilling out... eew) and dissembled everything before sanding, painting, and treating the wood with my homemade beeswax and olive oil polish.  The most challenging task was the cushion, and the creative gears in my mind were set ablaze as I *nearly *started from scratch, having thrown out the deteriorating, yellowed original.  (I did have a board to use as a base and size reference).  At any rate, I built the cushion with hand towels, cotton stuffing, a piece of cardboard, tape, a plastic  bag, a pillow case, and a quilted pair of pajama pants I never wear.  Layering was key for creating the shape, while meticulous hand-sewing held everything in place.  My fingers were nicked in the process, but it payed off.  I love it!

Cushion completed, I assembled all the parts and found myself with a lovely albeit creaky bench.  Über creaky.  And no one wants a creaky piano bench... the instrument should be making the notes, not the bench!  Anyway, I fixed that problem with a little vaseline between the joints.  It’s quiet now, and oh-so-pretty!

The next step is finding a venue to sell this bench and other projects for profit.