Life, Life, Life…

So, in the interest of transparency, I have a lot going on right now.

I’ve accepted a promotion at my day job, which means I am leaving the place I have worked for the last ten years, and taking a new position in a new location with the same company. It’s scary, and I’m crazy nervous, but you know – nothing ventured nothing gained. I’m ready to leave the nest, and grow and learn in a new environment.

But because that is happening, it’s going to be a big adjustment period for me, so I’m going to… have to decrease my posting. I missed a Monday a couple of weeks ago, so I’m sure this isn’t entirely unexpected for those of you wonderful people who read this blog. Once the promotion kicks in, I will be working more hours, plus we’re heading into the holidays – and, if you didn’t already know, I work retail, so the holidays are basically murder. I’m trying to get a podcast off the ground with some friends, and I have my own writing to work on. Plus, until I find an apartment in my new location, I’ll be dealing with a commute that is NO FUN WHATSOEVER, and which will likely take a massive toll on my free time.

I know this just sounds like a lot of excuses, but I really don’t want to burn myself out. So… we are cutting the twice weekly posts to weekly. I’m considering posting on Wednesdays, which is a nice middle of the week slot, but may keep it to Fridays instead. As for this week, there will be a Friday post, but no Monday post next week!

Thanks y’all for your patience! And if you have any blog posts you would like to see, send them my way!

 

 

The Hawk

Today, I was cruising along on my way to get my post-work Starbies (a venti iced cocoa cloud macchiato, if you wondered) when a flutter of feathers caught my eye. I directed my gaze just in time to watch a majestic hawk swoop down from atop a telephone pole and snatch a poor, furry creature – either a chipmunk or a squirrel, not sure which – up off the ground, and then fly away to enjoy the spoils.

So, basically… I witnessed a murder.

But, after I processed the trauma of seeing my second brutal rodent death (the first was a squirrel vs. van incident), I got to thinking. I felt bad for the rodent, of course – it didn’t deserve a grisly death, even though that’s the way of the world. It was just trying to scurry through some tall grass and find some seeds or nuts for lunch. But I think I also felt a kinship with it.

In certain elements of my life, I am more rodent than hawk. More discreet, meek, and aiming to squeak by unnoticed. The kind of creature that gets swooped on, scooped up, and made a meal of. Who fearfully watches the skies for any sign of talons, and hides from the shadow of wings overhead.

But, as I grow and learn, I am trying to be more like the hawk. I don’t want to be someone who snatches up and preys on the innocents, however. No… but someone who is keen-eyed, goal-oriented, and sharp. Who sees what they want and goes for it, even if it takes great patience to accomplish. Who strives for results and is not afraid to reach for them, even in the face of potential failure. To be feared, instead of fearful.

There is value in the way of the rodent – learning to be quiet, and to listen. To be watchful and mindful of others. But similarly, there is value in the way of the hawk – learning to be patient, but driven. To be strong-willed and willing to strike to achieve results.┬áSo maybe, the best way is to be a bit of both. Not quite feared, but not too fearful.

Or, you know…. just be a bear and hibernate for months at a time, or something.

 

 

The Choices We Make

I have technically been an adult for 9 years, but in many ways, I feel like I’m not quite there. I sometimes forget that I am the master of my own destiny, the bearer of my own burdens, the navigator on my own stretch of road, and I determine the path, and how to handle the obstacles that arise. I can go out, buy a whole cake, and eat it all by myself if I feel like it, with no one but my conscience to stop me.

I’ve wanted a Nintendo Switch for a while now, and planned to buy one next month. Thanks to an employee special at work, I would be able to get one for a great price. And then, come November, I’d be playing Pokemon Shield, and making my way across the Galar region. And there would be a lot of Mario Kart, and maybe some Let’s Go Eevee! until then. Plus, I could play online with my two best friends – Mario Party is great fun when the three of us play together.

But I had my car inspection this week on my beloved Nissan, Vice. It has been a long while since I’ve needed anything done to it – I usually breeze through inspection with maybe a couple of tweaks, nothing major. So it was time, and $337 later, my wallet was a bit thinner than I would like it to be – and I’m looking at new tires in the near-ish future. Which won’t come cheap.

And so, I had a moment of clarity – that the choices we make can reflect where we are in our lives, and our values. I have bailed on plans because I don’t have the funds, but have also spent money on things that aren’t necessities. No matter how badly I want that Switch, it is going to have to wait until my Nissan has some new tires, even if I miss my initial chance to become the champion of the Galar League. So, I must be an adult for now… but eventually, play time will come around again.

 

Boop

Like all dignified cat owners, I love to give my cat, Reese, little ‘boops.’ Boops on the nose, boops on the head, etc. However, much like me, Reese also spurns the majority of affectionate gestures, so she typically acts incredibly affronted when I do this to her, and then ignores me for hours afterward.

Here is a pic of the demon, for reference. My adorable, antisocial tortoise-shell kitty. She’s about twelve now – but she’ll always be a “kitten” to me. She does love the occasional cuddle, but only on her terms.

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Recently, Reese has taken to laying behind the living room couch, which is a decent sized strip of carpet that leaves plenty of room for her to loll around, and she can see when people come and go from the house through the stair banister.

Recently, I came home from an outing – I believe from my viewing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – and Reese was waiting patiently behind the couch. She stuck her head through the bars of the banister and meowed eagerly at me, likely upset that I’d left her so long without food, not at the simple joy of seeing me return from being gone somewhere.

On a whim, I stuck my face toward her. Normally, she shies away from such gestures, but she tentatively stuck her head further toward me… and she booped my nose with her nose. Her little pink, velvet nose booped mine, like a tiny kiss.

I was stunned. She’s never done anything of the sort before, and she immediately scooted away from me afterward, so I almost didn’t believe it had happened. I filled her bowl with food, and she chowed down, the moment forgotten. But my heart was warmed… and even if it never happens again, I will always remember that boop. I will treasure it.

It truly is the little things, isn’t it?

Just a Moment…

This week, landscapers came to do some yard work at our house. So, being the occasionally nice human being that I am, I figured I would park my car in the street so they could pull into the driveway, which would hopefully make it easier for them to get their work done.

The issue is, I forgot to do this the night before. So when I blearily awoke, around 7:40 AM, I remembered the plan and dragged myself out of bed to go and move my car. It would only take a moment, I thought. So, frizzy-haired, in my PJs, and with my feet shoved in my mom’s too-big clogs, I clambered into my Nissan and maneuvered down the driveway, then pulled into the street…

…only to realize it was also trash day. So the trash and recycling bins were set up on the curb. I would have to park a little further down to give the trash truck room, but that would mean parking adjacent to a neighbor’s car, and thus, making it even more difficult for the truck to get by. Plus, I was dangerously close to my other neighbor’s property line. Since she is a horrid person, I didn’t want to give any reason to set her off.

So, I figured, I’ll just swing around the block and park along the street on the other side of my driveway. Yet again, I thought, it would only take a moment…

… except I saw the familiar brown of a UPS truck lumbering down the street in my rearview as I swung around the corner. I looped the block, then, as I made my way down my street, I saw the UPS truck parked in front of our house. Right where I needed to park. And because one of my neighbors parks his big honkin’ red truck right on the rim of our property, I had to wait in the middle of the road for the UPS truck to move.

And I waited… for five minutes. Which, needless to say, is more than a moment. I would have gotten out and asked him to move outright, but because I looked like a troll, I didn’t feel like making my presence known. Eventually, he moved and went about his business, and I was able to park my car well out of the way of all passing trucks, both mail and trash, and leaving the driveway clear for the landscapers.

The whole process took about seven minutes. Which is hardly just a moment… so maybe, I would be better off expecting the unexpected from now on.

And the best part?

…The landscapers didn’t even park in the driveway.

Lottery

When I was about seven or eight, I was obsessed with the musical CATS. Like, properly obsessed – I used to watch it every day after school, knew all the words to the songs (even though I didn’t know what half of them meant), and dreamed that I could be one of the characters onstage someday. Seeing as I can’t sing or dance, this was a lofty – and unreachable – ambition. But child Allie kept on dreaming. And my favorite cat was Skimbleshanks (the Railway cat), if you were wondering.

I loved it so much, my mom took me on a bus trip to NYC to see the show on Broadway. I was psyched. It felt like my dreams were coming true – what could possibly be better than seeing CATS on Broadway?

The day of the trip, the bus was full. Lots of dancin’ feline lovin’ folks, but I was easily the youngest by a significant margin, and definitely the only person whose age was still in the single digits. Also this was circa, like… 1999, for reference. This was the original Broadway run of CATS. To pass the time on the bus, the people who organized the trip arranged for us to play a game. A lottery-type game.

So, everyone who wanted to participate would put in $1 into a pool, and then everyone who put money in would write their name onto a slip of paper and put it into a bucket to be drawn. The last name drawn would win the entire pool. My mom added a dollar on my behalf, as well as for herself, so my entry into this contest was legit.

I think you can tell where this story is going.

One by one, the names were read out, occasionally accompanied by a groan or a sigh of disappointment. The slips of paper in the bucket began to dwindle. My mother’s name was read out, but I kept waiting for mine, until there were only two names left. Needless to say, I won, which upset many of the other passengers, but my mom made sure to shield me from disapproving glares and grumbles, so I wasn’t really cognizant of that.

I won $45, which, to a seven year old in the year of our lord 1999, might as well have been six figures. My mom kept it safe for me since we were going to see the show first, but we would have some shopping time afterward, and I had plans for that cash.

The show was incredible, of course – CATS really opened my eyes to the wonderful and expansive world of musical theater. I still can’t sing or dance, but I love watching other people do it. They also let the kids climb onstage and explore a bit during the intermission, because the show was a big hit with the younger crowd. But after loving the music and watching the VHS over, and over, and over again, it was a total dream come true for child Allie to see it live. I also get to be smug and brag about how I got to see it during the original, previously record-breaking Broadway run. And Skimbleshanks is still my favorite.

After the show, we got some pizza at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and then… it was time for the next stop on our trip. A little place called FAO Schwarz. For those unfamiliar, it’s the toy store in the movie Big where Tom Hanks plays the giant floor piano. It’s not open any more, but it was insane, like a Toys-R-Us (R.I.P.) on steroids. And I was a child with $45 in my velcro wallet.

I’ll give my mom a lot of credit – she didn’t try to rein me in. I was a kid with whims, and I wasn’t about to put that money in the piggy bank to save for something like college. No, that didn’t even cross my mind. If there was anything at that point in my life that I loved as much as CATS… it was Pokemon.

I spent all the money – and I mean all – on Pokemon stuff.

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To be fair, twenty years later, I still have some of it. I have five talking figurines and a couple of plushies. I also bought a poster of the original 151 Pokemon to hang above my bed, because that’s the only Pokemon that existed at the time – it started at Bulbasaur and ended with Mew. The picture is of the figurines, which currently stand guard on my bookshelf, and sneaky peek of Raichu’s head. Squirtle also only speaks Japanese for reasons beyond my comprehension.

Was this the most responsible use of that money? Probably not. But I was young and $45 was a treat for me. It was like winning the lottery. If I won $45 now, I would probably put it toward bills. Either my car payment or my student loans. Because I’m 27 now, not 7. I can’t just toss money away on a whim.

Though it would be very tempting to spend it on Pokemon stuff…

Fling the Shoe

The mind of a child is an incredible thing.

When we were very young, my childhood best friend and I invented a game. We would swing on her swing set, go as high as we could, and fling our shoes off of our feet and send them flying across the yard, and see who could send theirs the farthest. We called this game, “Fling the Shoe.” Not the most creative name in the world, but it got the point across.

It’s such a simple thing, but it held a lot of meaning for us. We would muster all our strength and release the shoes at the peak of the swing, aiming for the brink of the neighbor’s yard. It all came down to the timing – if you waited too long, you’d accidentally send it flying straight up, or do it too soon and you wouldn’t get the proper angle. There was a certain art to it, and we could play for ages trying to achieve the perfect technique. I don’t know who won more often, but I don’t think we really cared who actually flung their shoe the furthest. We just had so much fun doing it.

We spent countless sunny afternoons playing this game, and lamenting bad weather because it meant we couldn’t. In the summer, her backyard was full of our laughter, and the air was full of sneakers. Every time I see a swing set I think of those days and how much fun we had together. We weren’t glued to the television (at least, not all the time) or engrossed with computers – which there is too much of these days, even though I am pro-technology. All we had were our imaginations, our creativity, and the simple bliss of childhood friendship.

“Fling the Shoe” was such a simple thing, but it’s a dear memory. Because it meant so much more than that, and still does.

 

Remember This

When I was in my 11th grade AP U.S. History class, my teacher told us there was one date we needed to remember. May 17th, 1954 – Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. The landmark decision that declared racially segregated schools as unconstitutional, and sparked several crucial events in the civil rights movement. It’s also an event that has become prevalent again, considering the volatile state of our country.

Over the course of the school year, he reiterated this date – and we would often have to repeat it back to him, to ensure sure we knew it verbatim. There were other dates that he impressed the importance of upon us, but that one was the big one.

In fact, one time, he was speaking to one of our principals while three of us were sitting in his room studying during a free period, and he merely turned to us, got our attention and pointed at us, like a maestro giving a cue.

One of us instantly said, “May 17th, 1954 – Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas.”

Not to be outdone, I said, “June 6th, 1944. The Normandy landings, otherwise known as D-Day.”

And the last of us said, “September 17th, 1787 – the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Our teacher then looked at our startled principal and gave her a look, as if to say, “See? What did I tell you?” He had us trained, and trained well. When that date showed up not once, but twice on the AP U.S. History exam that year, I gleefully answered those questions with confidence.

And I haven’t forgotten it, all these years later. I didn’t quite realize the gravity of that date, and that landmark decision, back when I learned it – even though he so adamantly told us to remember it. It was some distant thing that happened ages ago. It was little more than history. Since then, I have come to understand the importance. When it comes up in movies, I can better place the context. When I read it in books, I gain a better understanding. When I see what happens in the world to this day, and the injustice that people face, that date blares in my mind like a siren.

So I consider it a blessing that I listened when my teacher said, “remember this,” because now that I am older – and maybe, just maybe, a bit wiser than a 16 year old girl from rural PA – I am able to better grasp the relevance of May 17th, 1954. I have forgotten tons and tons of things I learned in both high school and in college – it’s all too easy for tidbits of info to slip between the cracks of memory.

But that date is one thing I will not forget.

Sentimental

Sentimentality – it’s both a blessing, and a curse, when you attach memories to objects. It becomes so difficult to let them go. Or, in some cases, far too easy.

I had something mentally and emotionally taxing happen to me in the January of my last year of college. When it happened, I was wearing (tastefully) ripped jeans and a red-and-grey striped hooded tunic sweater. In the aftermath, I got rid of them both – even though both were relatively new and would have lasted a long while. The sweater was actually a big favorite of mine and I loved wearing it. However, I could no longer wear them because whenever I looked at them afterward, they reminded me of that event, and how bad my last semester of college was because of it. So, they went into the donation pile.

After my grandmother passed away, I had trouble letting go of gifts she gave to me over the years, even if clothes no longer fit, or items were no longer of use. It would make me feel guilty to even consider it. My grandmother was one of the best people in my life and had a profound influence on me. Of course, I know that the true treasure is my memories of her – of the good times we shared, and the things she gave me that were intangible. I have held onto a few key items; a stuffed corgi, and a music box that I had once given her as a gift. But I have gradually let some of the other things go, and even though I have a sentimental attachment to all of those things, I know I am not betraying her by doing so.

Books are a big one for me. Since getting an e-reader several years ago, I have thinned out my physical book collection. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to let a title go. I’ll remember reading it for the first time and hesitate to put it in the donation pile, but little by little, I have done so. It helps to realize that by letting them go, I am sharing those beloved titles with new readers, and that first-time reading experience with others. Sure, my shelves get a little emptier, but it does make my heart lighter in the end.

I form attachments to things that others might consider trivial. Movie ticket stubs and movie posters. Toys, collectible and otherwise. Snowglobes. Old video games that no longer play. Gradually, I will let these things go too, but I don’t think there’s any harm in holding on a bit longer than others.

Ultimately, I think the positives of sentimentality outweigh the negatives by a significant margin, but it is vital to remember that items do not always equate in importance to memories. Memories remain in your heart, good and bad. Certain items may bolster that, and getting rid of them doesn’t destroy those memories.

Recharge

The past couple of weeks have been an odd combination of relaxing and wild – hence the total lack of blog posts last week. But it has also been a much-needed breather.

At the end of last month, my best friend and I drove down to Williamsburg, Virginia to visit another friend who moved there last autumn. And it was a wonderful time to reconnect and recharge, hopefully for all of us.

Over three days, we explored the area and found a delicious cupcake shop (I got the carrot flavor) and an incredible used bookstore called Mermaid Books, where I scored a 50th anniversary edition of my favorite Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. I could have stayed there browsing the titles for hours. We also stumbled across a World Market, so I stocked up on my favorite foreign cider, Rekorderlig. I haven’t had it since I went to England five years ago, but it’s one of the few alcoholic drinks I actually enjoy, so I was happy to find them.

But the best part, of course, was getting to spend time with friends. We played boardgames, card games, and I dominated at Mario Party… for once. We had many rounds of Mario Kart, also… I stick to Dry Bones with the Comet bike and slick wheels, and it works for me. It was good to get away from work and just enjoy spending time in a new place with people I care about. And the friend we were visiting has an adorable dog, who enjoyed jumping on me every morning, which, as someone who loves with an aloof cat, was nice. I’m so glad I got to make the trip, relax, and experience a new place, and I’m grateful my friend asked us to come down and visit her. I also drove the two of us there and back – the longest road trip I’ve ever taken my car on, and as someone who fears the highway, it was a great experience.

Of course, then we had Avengers: Endgame and The Long Night, which were events in their own right, and equally as emotionally draining to watch. And I got to go to a free screening of Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart, which was especially cool.┬áThen my best friend took me to a BLACKPINK concert in Newark on the 2nd. Now, I’ve said it before… I am what is called a “novice” when it comes to K-pop. I’ve always been more of a J-pop and Mandopop girl, but I was more into K-pop during the early days of SHINee, the Wonder Girls, and Super Junior, and I’ve followed almost the entirety of BoA’s career. Other than what my friend has played in her car, I don’t really seek it out. I do like it a lot – I just find the fandom to be a bit overwhelming. I also accompanied my best friend to a B.A.P. concert in D.C. back in 2017, and it was a blast, but I am definitely “well meaning mom at an anime convention” at such events.

20190502_202534_hdr134745674902261769.jpgI didn’t know anything about BLACKPINK going into the concert – like, I didn’t even know their names – but I have come out a fan! I can see why so many folks are drawn to their music and style. Their songs are major bops. My favorites have to be “As if it’s your last” and “Boombayah” but I was dancing along to all of them! These four girls are definitely a force, and I’ve had their tracks on repeat in my car all weekend. I can’t wait for them to put out more songs!

I think these last couple of weeks have been the whirlwind recharge I needed. I look forward to throwing myself back into writing and blogging!