Inferior Imitator

ep·i·gone n. A second-rate imitator or follower, especially of an artist or a philosopher.

Friday, May 28, 2004

One of my birthday presents from Ken was VAST’s new album, Nude. VAST, like many of my current music interests, is an artist I discovered through Buffy, or more precisely in this case, Angel. The song ”Touched” from his first album plays over a montage in the episode “Lonely Hearts”. Jon Crosby, the artist behind VAST, has come to be my favorite musical artist.

VAST is one of those artists whose music you appreciate more and more on subsequent listenings. It’s not nearly so much the lyrics to the songs as the intricacies of the music that draw you in. The lyrics aren’t bad, in fact they’re very self-searching and introspective (“I looked into your eyes, And saw a world that does not exist, I looked into your eyes, And saw a world I wish I was in” or "I'm looking for inspiration, And I think I found it in your heart, It's the kind of thing you find when you're not looking, It's the kind of thing you had from the start"), but they pale in comparison to and are infinitely enhanced by the music. I don’t know enough about music to talk about his use of instruments and such, but I do know that every time I listen to one of his songs, I appreciate something different - whether it be the baseline or an instrument that you just don’t usually hear in mainstream music.

Of all three albums, I believe “VAST” to be the best. It was a perfect album. Crosby’s next offering, “Music for People”, was very good, but while it had some great individual songs (the best of which was the hauntingly beautiful instrumental “Lady of Dreams”), it didn’t have the cohesion as an album that “VAST” had. “Nude” brings some of that cohesion back, along with the daring intricacies that makes VAST my favorite artist. Songs like “Don’t Take Your Love Away”, “Winter in My Heart”, and “Can’t Say No (to You)” all have that haunting quality that makes VAST’s work stick in your mind. However, some songs on this album don’t quite exhibit that VAST trademark, none so much as “Lost”, which could easily be mistaken for a U2 song on first hearing.

I can’t recommend VAST enough. Start out with his self-titled album, or download songs from VAST's website.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Inigo Montoya

Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

roasted new potatoes

What potato dish are you?
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High maintenance? I admit I'm pretty set in my ways but high maintenance? But I'm not sweet potatoes, so I post. I am French, though. "Why do you think I speak in this silly accent?" I so need that movie. *skips off to add to wish list*

Mmmm...potatoes. I miss the WD. Have we heard anything on when it might be back up?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Sonia is the oldest of the cousins. Sonia is three years older than I am; Rachael and Cassie are both one year older, and then me. The next oldest cousin is Jacob, then Emily, Lew, and Nicole. Sonia was the ringleader. It was usually she who came up with the ideas, and the rest of us followed. It was her idea to make a swing out of the hook that hung from a pulley in Grandpa’s barn, that I fell off of and ripped the back of my thigh open. It was her idea to follow the creek behind our house as far back as we could go, and she pulled the leeches off my ankles when we did. We did cool things, like follow the railroad tracks and build tree houses and catch tadpoles or fireflies. I worshipped Sonia. She decorated her locker at school with the neatest things she made out of paper, and we made ‘mailboxes’ and slipped letters to each other through the slats between classes. I had the most fun when she was around, especially when it was just us. I was her little buddy, her cohort in crime, and I felt special for the attention.

When Sonia chose to go to Pennsylvania to go to college, I felt betrayed. I felt like I was being left. The days of playing together had already come to a close, but I still felt a hole beginning to rip in our family. There was something missing when Sonia wasn’t there. School was still very hard for me, and my family was the bright spot in my life. It was when I could forget my troubles and be happy.

That hole became much bigger some years later when she became pregnant before marriage. That devastated her parents (my godparents). They lied about what was happening to Sonia for a while, and many feelings were hurt because of that. My godparents began withdrawing from the family, and eventually moved 60 miles away to Homestead. Things were never the same after that. The hurt feelings and absence of the people we loved made family gatherings less happy for me.

I think I blamed Sonia for it all, for choosing to go away, for making my godparents go away, for taking my biggest source of happiness out of my life. I was a bit devastated as well: my idol wasn’t perfect. She had done what I didn’t know could be done – she had challenged the beliefs we held so dear. At the time, I didn’t understand. I do now. There are things that I now believe or have ceased to believe as time wears on and I think for myself. Those things that seemed so important then no longer hold sway, and I didn’t know then that that could happen.

I admit being naive in my thinking, a little too unrealistic in my expectations, and at times too trusting. But it still shapes who I am and how I react. I know it’s illogical to take people’s leaving as abandonment, but again some of the happiness is being taken out of my life. Without Emily’s contagious laughter at the dinner table, jokes will be less funny. The only new clothes I’ve bought all year is my banquet dress, because Leah isn’t around to drag me shopping. And Monday night, tears welled up as I cut potatoes for grilling.

As much as I miss them, I know they miss me, too. And I am truly happy for them, following their dreams and reaching for their goals, and becoming what they were meant to be. And I’m learning to understand. I’ve got goals and dreams of my own. For right now, those goals include putting down roots in Iowa City. It will take something or someone pretty important to make me rip them out, but that possibility isn’t so remote, now that I know the world doesn’t end when the people I love are far away.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Okay, change of post. I really should go to bed, because I only had six hours of sleep last night, but here I am. The call of the internet.

The wedding was really, really nice. Everything went reasonably well, with only a few minor snafus. Em and I started the day getting our hair done at Jan's (she cut our hair until she moved to Wisconsin - Jan's been with me through many-a do, including perms), and she made breakfast for us. A belt broke on Mom's car on the way back, so we had to leave that in Durant most of the day. It was inconvenient, but not a crisis.

We stopped by Shirli's, where the rest of the girls got their hair done, and then ran back home for dresses and supplies. Then we went up to the church and ate Subway and watched Cinderella while we did makeup and got dressed. The wedding was beautiful. The church was somewhat dimmed because it was evening, and with all the candles, it was gorgeous. The church was packed. I cried, of course, but I had stowed several kleenexes in the front of my dress. Not that I needed the padding, but universal pocket, you know.

The reception was fun, the only thing is that I wished more people had stayed around to dance. But by the time we ate, did toasts, had the obligatory dances, etc. it was 9:00, and a lot of the people we know are old. I was surprised Grandma Whitmer stayed as long as she did. The woman is 93 years old, and was still awake at 11:00. But there even more people at the reception, and I didn't get to talk to nearly enough people. I had nice chats with Marianne, Toni, cousins Aaron and Sonia and Josh's Aunt Eleanor, but I think those are the only people I talked to at any length. Other than that, I was a dancing fool. Sometimes the only dancing fool, but I was feeling pretty and didn't mind the attention. I did get a lot of compliments.

My wedding toast, reproduced here for your perusing pleasure:

Family is precious. The more I see of the world, the more I know how truly blessed we have been to grow up in our family. Not only Mom, Dad, and Lew, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends...all who love us more than we probably deserve. Birthdays, holidays, or even just Sunday dinner, family and faith has been the center of it all. I don't think we could have asked for a more perfect life.

Family is strong. We have been given our share of difficulties, but we have also been given more than enough strength to overcome them. The love and encouragement we are able to provide each other has gotten us through many tough times. That same love and encouragement also makes the happy times more happy. There has been a Hallmark card sitting in my desk for some time now, waiting for the right occasion to give to you. The sentiment goes, 'You know we're friends, because we have more fun than it makes sense to be having.' That goes for family, too.

Family is a never-ending cycle. I want to read aloud a line Emily inserted into the bulletin: 'The flowers on the organ are placed in loving memory of the bride's grandfather Richard, whose love and strength lives on in everyone who knew him.' Reading that caused my first cry of this process, because I was struck by the truth of that statement. Grandpa may be physically gone, but his influence - his love and faith - will be passed down through his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and every person they touch in turn. The love that unites us will never change, because it is the love of God that lives in us and that we share with each other.

Family is always with you. Something Mom said to me once has stuck with me. Most other families I know spend Christmas Day traveling, driving around visiting family, while we have always spent Christmas Day at home. One year I asked Mom why, and she said, "Well, your dad and I decided to start our own tradition." Now that you are starting your own family, you will take the things that remind you of home and make them your own. No matter where you go, the love we have for each other will go with you, to hold you up during the hard times, and celebrate with you during the happy times.

So, to my sister and her husband: May the Lord bless your marriage with the kind of love that is like family - precious, strong, never-ending, and always with you.

And on that note, I had a nice, quiet birthday. Mom found the type of lawn chair I've been looking for for two seasons now, and Dad gave me a can of peanuts. It was one of those things I was talking about with him: it may seem silly, but it's one of the sweetest things he's given to me, and how he shows he loves me.

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Flip-flops do not proper footwear make. I didn't even really intend to wear flip-flops for all the running around I did today, I brought tennis shoes home even, but no, I had to wear flip-flops and now my legs ache like no other. I finally got back to Wilton about 1:00, after the appraiser came and did her thing, my laundry got done (with a few rounds of Tetris in between). I was set immediately to work, loading my truck with things to be taken to the church, picking up the meat, taking it to Davenport, stealing a couple trees from another church...don't ask.

There is so much stuff! Trees and fences and garden furniture and bows and flowers and...stuff! "But it will look so pretty!" I can't decide whether I would want Mom to make as much of a fuss over me or not. Cross that bridge when/if I come to it, I guess. We're decorating the church and the reception hall tomorrow, then running home to change and (hopefully) shower before the rehearsal dinner. Matt's request was Pizza Hut, so I'm wondering if that's still the plan. We'll see.

Tuesday night Josh and Chelsea came over. He brought me birthday presents. The aforementioned Tetris - hundreds of hours of little blocks falling into place, just for me! And he gave me a copy of his final photography project, all matted and framed...I hung it in a place of honor over the living room couch, moved Grandpa. It looks so nice, all professional-looking. And it's got such great composition - he'd better get an 'A'.

I made him a copy of the photo Kristen took of us at the Homecoming game last year, from the black and white roll debacle. It was kind of ironic, since he had been looking through my photo album and had pointed out that one as one he particularly liked. I put it in a cranberry looked good. I got one for me, too.

Oh, and Mom was showing me some garden furniture she had gotten: "Do you like this?" I approved. "I thought I'd give it to you for your birthday." I couldn't help but laugh, "What? 'Here's your birthday present, I'm borrowing it before I give it to you'???" It is pretty cool. I can't wait to have a backyard that it will look nice in. There's landscaping to be done.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Got to spend yesterday sick in bed. Yuck. I'm still pretty tired, and I probably won't make it through an entire work day today, but I'm feeling better.

Saturday was the Graduation Party, weeks in the making. We had a blast. The pinatas were every bit as fun as we anticipated.

Tacia learned from my mistake. I kicked a pinata with my sandals on...broke the sandal. Put a good-sized hole in the pinata, though.

OK, Josh says this is his jump front snap kick, and after looking more closely at the form, I think I agree with him. Sorry, sweetie.

See that puff of white coming from Brian's pinata? That's craaaack. :)

I haven't played Twister in years. Chelsea and I kept being the first ones out, thus the butt picture...

But I eventually won the consolation round after a furious bout with the Frostin'.

Us girls cemented our friendship with matching tatoos from the pinatas.

These are some of the best pictures, but I have tons more. There will have to be a picture party later on or something. I hope Tacia was able to get all the paint chips out of her carpet. I had a hard enough time getting them off my hands and feet. The spray paint was not meant for Twister.

Em, Katie, Sarah and I went around Sunday afternoon and took crazy pictures with the Herkys on Parade. They brought props was absolutely hilarious. We only got pics with about 40 of the Herkys, because we got really tired, but there are some good pics. I don't have them, but Em's going to make an album. Maybe I'll get some later to post.

I have to say goodbye to Josh tonight.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

It feels like Sunday. I think it is because I had to get up early, dress up, sit through a long boring ceremony, and then go stuff myself. Graduation, not church. I yelled for everyone, except for Juan Carlos and Laura Piatt, because when their names were called, it took me by surprise and I hadn't been looking for them. I also cajoled Emily into letting me have her digital camera for 24 more hours. Well, I say cajoled, but you don't cajole Emily...she graciously allowed me to keep the camera. I am researching cameras, because I believe I am now addicted.

Yesterday, I took my Friday afternoon off and did all the things I said I would do, but just have not gotten off my butt to do. I said I would ship Leah's stuff Monday, but when I took it in, it turns out you can't ship rootbeer airmail. The containers will explode in the non-pressurized cargohold of the plane, so I had to unpack the thing and take the rootbeer out, and I didn't get it back to the post office until yesterday. I sorry. :( So to make up for it, I went and checked on Leah's consignment sale at Houseworks, which will take another week, because I don't have her account number (did I ever? I don't remember) and saved her bike from the bike shop. I had to go to two bike shops before I found the right one. Good thing you didn't take it to the first one I went to, because they said it would have been gone months ago. But Bike World still had it, and the guy was very nice. He said it would have been theirs June 1st (just in time!), but he was glad someone came for it. They knew you were going to Germany, but didn't have any way of contacting anyone. He said they had been making up stories about you and why no one had come to pick up your bike yet. I thought that was funny.

I have to go make strawberry shortcake. I cut up the strawberries yesterday, and now they're all sugary and liquified. Mmmm. I had some for breakfast.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I'm much better at regular Trivial Pursuit than I am at Pop Culture Trivial Pursuit.

A Little Later that Same Morning...
Is that a song lyric? It's got a rhythm and a tune in my head, but nothing more than that line.

Anyway, that's not my point. What was it, Wednesday night, I read the then-latest draft of Josh's play, because he wanted feedback and suggestions. Besides being completely honored that he would ask me to do that for him, it made me remember how much I used to enjoy writing. I mean, back when I was in grade school. We did a lot of creative writing in school, and I ended up doing a lot outside of class, too. I remember writing a lot of collaborative work with my friend Michael, though I don't know where any of that went. I dragged out my Trapper Keeper (hee!) where I kept a few of my stories and poems and such. They weren't horrible, considering how young I was. I remember how proud I was of "Brian the Sailor" and I even drug out Mom's typewriter and typed it up. One of these days I should type it up for you, sic and all. Excerpts from my creative writing journal are in there and the last comment from Mrs. Waech went something like this: "Write, write, write some more. You may have a future."

I don't remember why I quit, but every once in a while I'll run across some depressed poetry I've written in my journal or some such. Once in a while it crosses my mind that I should try writing something again. I picture myself sitting in a lawn chair in my backyard with a notebook and a pencil. Which seems a little antiquated, but when I'm composing, I just think better that way. I'm writing my wedding toast that way. Shit, I need to finish that. The bulk of it is written, but it needs some more revision and the actual toast.

I wish I had kept more of my stories. I threw them out because I didn't think they were very good, but it would have been fun to read them again. It may take a couple months, but you may hear back from me on this subject.

A Little Later that Afternoon...
Playing with the Photobucket option Annika suggested...

Nick, Kristen, me, Chelsea, Josh

Hey, this might be okay! Now if I only could put photo editing software on my computer...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

You would think I'd already have a lot to do, the way I complain. But I'm taking on something else, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going to teach Principles of Accounting II at Kirkwood Community College this summer. It's an eight-week course, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-10. One of my bosses is in Rotarty with the Dean, who asked him if he knew anyone who might be interested. Seems all you need is either a master's degree or a CPA, and I've got both. I met with the Dean and the head of the department on Monday to go over the curriculum. It's pretty much all laid out, but I have some flexibility in adapting it and in grading policies. I think I'm going to stick mostly with what they have, and make modifications sparingly. I've started reading the text. It all looks obvious to me, and I think my greatest fear will be talking over their heads. A lot came back to me, in terms of remembering learning the material, so hopefully more of that will return, so I know which concepts I had trouble learning. I do know now which ones are important to know, though, so hopefully I can bring those out. Poor kids. It sucks having a first-time teacher. I hope I can overcome that so they can learn something. And have a little fun in the process.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Signed mortgage papers this morning. [dance of joy]

Alright, Chelsea, let's see you duplicate this!

And for Kristen:

speak and spell
You're a Speak & Spell!! You nerd, you. Just
because you were disguised as a toy doesn't
mean you weren't educational, you sneaky

What childhood toy from the 80s are you?
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I loved Speak and Spell! ...I *am* a nerd...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Lew (we used his initials to differentiate around the house from my dad – it would have been horribly confusing, and he goes by Lysle anywhere else) is my brother. He is a natural clown, and spent a great deal of his childhood making us laugh. Half-a-man, boy in a tube, Deebo…the very thought of these antics are enough to make us burst into giggles. Half-a-man! The visual on this one…man, I wish there was a picture. Somehow I can’t help but think that Lew is the instigator of our dinner laugh-fests, but it just doesn’t work when all of us are not there, so I know we feed off each other. Ever seen the Blue Collar Comedy Tour Movie? It’s like when the four guys are sitting together at the end, just making each other laugh, and half the fun is seeing them crack each other up. It’s like that at our house.

Lew likes cars, machinery, things that move. Once when he was two, he got himself locked in the cab of the combine. We have no idea how he got up there, but there was an hour of panic before we found him. He’s spent the past several years of his life and a great deal of his own money restoring Dad’s old ’53 Ford half-ton. I’m not sure it will ever be finished, but it gave Dad and Lew something to bond over, and I envy them that.

There are two basic things my brother and I do together: play video games and wrestle. We have damaged furniture, each other, and any respect as young adults by our antics, but we just can’t help the attack when the opportunity presents itself. It usually ends when we start fighting too dirty (poking is okay, but downright tickling is dangerous) or we get too tired. We don’t get on each other’s nerves like Emily and I do. I don’t know if that is the age difference, or our personalities don’t clash as much, or the simple fact that we didn’t have to share a room.

Lew and I are a lot alike. We both take our schoolwork extremely seriously, and have high expectations of ourselves. We both have trouble with anxiety. I have lightened up considerably as the years pass, and I’d like to think I would have been more like Lew was in high school if I hadn’t had such difficulty in grade school. A little more social, a few more friends, a little more confident. Who knows?

Lew is going to make some woman an excellent husband. He is sweet, considerate, smart, handy around the house, hilarious as hell, and he puts the toilet seat down. Oh yeah, and I suppose he might be pretty good-looking, too. But don’t tell him I said any of that.

Monday, May 10, 2004

I need to find some free webspace that I can upload some pictures to. I've got banquet pictures! I've emailed some to a couple people, but that just doesn't feel adequate to me. I'm gonna have to get me one of these digital-type cameras.

Banquet was fun. I looked georgous, though between the length and the tightness of the dress, I felt like I was pulling on it all night. Oh, well. I was voted "Most Dedicated Female" so that was way cool. Thank you peers! I think a lot of it was that I still came to class while working 60 hours a week (and went to work way early in the morning so I could) and teaching on the side. That and I voted for myself. I feel a little guilty about that. I coulda left it blank. I wonder, though, how much the voting is actually taken into account. I just can't see how Jeremy won tournament MVP. Both came in third in sparring, and I don't think Jeremy even competed in forms, and Josh took first. Josh totally worked hard for that distinction, and what with all the work he puts into the club, he deserved the award way more than Jeremy does. Grrr.

I signed an offer to purchase my house this weekend. We built in the option to do a seller-financed mortgage, and Sam is now having a cow because I called up and asked if he would consider letting me change the offer to bank financing instead. I'm learning not to throw old people curve balls. They just can't catch them anymore. I think we're okay, but for a while there, I was panicked because he wasn't sure he wanted to sell to me anymore because I was asking him to consider other options than the one they'd been going with all weekend. I just want this to be bought and over with. I can't stand the uncertainty. I'm having a hard time with the curve balls, too, I guess.

Pinatas are almost finished. We have to figure out how to suspend them and decide whether to put the googly eyes on or not. I like the blank faces, but the googly eyes are so great!

For Mother's Day, Great-Uncle Vernon had an 80th birthday party. There were a lot of relations there that I didn't know, and recoginized a few faces. I did a lot of chasing after Calvin. One of my favorite activities. That and the food. Mmmm, potluck. And pie. Lots of pie...

Friday, May 07, 2004

Two entries in a row, I'll start off with an apology. I realize that not everyone knew I was out of the office this week, thus my lack of updatiness.

The audit went well, I think. It was my first time in-charging an audit, and I don't think I screwed up too bad. I'm just glad I had Rebecca with me, my voice of experience. So now I go into wrap-up mode, and I'll be finding out if I screwed up. The fraud stuff was pretty tough. All the new regulations stemming from the Enron debacle and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Sar-Ox in accountant-speak) went into effect starting last December 31st, and this was the first audit I've been on with all that extra work. First year audits or regulations are always tough, because there's no precedent to base anything on, and these regulation requirements are especially extensive and time-consuming.

Let's see...what else? Testing was Friday, and I got my brown-tips. Or skid-marks, as Kristen refers to them. Very exciting. Ethon taped my belt and said "It's about time." It hasn't been that long, has it? Nine months? I'm conservative. I don't want to test just to test. I want to be comfortable with the level and it's requirements before I go on. The last thing I want is to test and make a fool of myself, like some people have done in the past (do a couple black belts come to mind?). That and it takes my muscles a while to learn what my mind knows. That's why I'm a klutz. ;)

But the banquet is tonight. I'm so excited! I get to wear my dress, and I did a test run of my hair on Wednesday, and it will look great! I'm going to do Chelsea's too, because she said she was just going to leave it down, and I couldn't let her do that. I found a great 'do, that I think will look awesome on her. I just hope she has enough hair for it to work. I'm going to borrow Emily's digital camera, so there will be pictures for Leah. I love getting dressed up! And I get to do it twice this month! Emily's wedding is two weeks from today. She is sick as a dog, poor girl. She gets sick every single finals week. She literally has not been well for finals ever in her college career. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so horrible. I'm still working on a speech, though I've given up on theatrics. I'll just do what I do best, write from the heart and make people cry.