Inferior Imitator

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

Monday, August 29, 2005

It's been over a week since I've blogged, and I feel like I should, but I'm not inspired. I have all these things that I could blog about, but I'm just 'meh' about all of it.

Last weekend was Wilton's 150th anniversary celebration. I wouldn't have gone back for it, but I had an eye appointment I had to come back for anyway. I hate that town. I'm sure a lot of it is because I have managed to block out most of growing up there and just being there brings the feelings back. In an ironic coincidence, I saw a kid wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan, "I hate it here and I'm never coming back." Amen, kid. Amen.

And in other news, Mom starts chemotherapy the day after Labor Day. She'll be staying with me a couple nights, so she doesn't have to do a lot of running back and forth between treatments. In a conversation with one of Mom's friends last weekend, the friend asked, "Whatever happened to the bone marrow transplant?" Mom told her she had decided against it. "Why?! It's a cure!" "I decided it wasn't worth the risk just yet." "You should totally go for it!" And just kept arguing. I was irritated. She told you she decided against it, lady. Respect her decision. She's put a lot more thought into it than you have.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Do you know what a miter box is? Sounds like it's something to keep bugs in, doesn't it? Actually, it's a box that helps you cut straight and at specific angles and such. Pretty dang cool. I never knew they existed until I was wandering Menards yesterday, collecting supplies for installing quarter-round on my living room floor. I did two walls today, and they look pretty good if I do say so myself. I saved the hardest parts for last, of course. I have to get "sawing straight" and "hitting a nail on the head" down before I get to the more difficult doorways and such.

I'm going to wait and finish the project before I decide whether or not to take back this box or nails or not. When I was in Menards yesterday, I thought I had finishing nails at home, but when I cleaned and organized my junk drawer (!) yesterday, the ones I found were way too big. So I stopped by on my way home from church today and picked up a box. Then when I was down in the basement, looking for a paintbrush to touch up the trim, I found the box of nails. I feel incredibly silly taking back a 90-cent box of nails, but what am I going to do with them? It looks like I may be able to take back a length of quarter-round too, though, so that's another $7, so I won't feel nearly so silly.

When I'm there, I'm also thinking about picking up some sound board. I put some insulation under the stair cover for the apartment upstairs, because this girl for some reason is way louder than any tenant I've had up there before. I want to try some remedies for sound before I keep yelping at her to cut the sound down.

But it's on *all* the time! I think she's one of those that falls asleep to the television, which drives me nuts when I'm trying to sleep. There's this hum, which isn't very loud, but drives me up the wall. That was one of the things that Nichole, my dormmate freshman year, and I fought about all the time. She couldn't go to sleep with it off, and I couldn't go to sleep with it on. Just sensing it was on drove me bonkers. I was so hard to get along with.

I had a dream about being back in the dorms the other night because of this. It ended up with me and Rachael trying to beat the crap out of each other. Weird. No wait, it morphed into...on second thought, that dream was so convoluted, you don't even want to know. Or more likely, it's hard to explain with little payout. Suffice it to say it was one of my weirder dreams.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I am absolutely knackered. Jet lag in the extreme. I slept maybe an hour on the red-eye. I watched the sun set in Alaska, and then watched it rise in Minnesota over the five-hour flight. The sunrise was really pretty. I don't think I've seen such a deep red, though I don't watch many sunrises either.

We got in at 8:45, and Lew and I immediately took naps. I forced myself to wake up by 3:00. I was so ready to go back to bed the entire afternoon, by by evening I was so tired, I couldn't sleep. Horrible feeling, and I have immense sympathy for people with insomnia. I think it was 2 a.m. before I finally fell asleep.

Fun little Amanda story: on the way to the plane, I hurt myself three times in about fifteen minutes. In the Blazer on the way to the airport, Emily had set the dinner leftovers on our luggage, and it fell off as she took a turn. She asked if it had spilled, and I was in the backseat, so I volunteered to check. Turning around, I rammed my knee into the seatbelt buckle, and those things didn't move a whit. I wimpered in the backseat all the rest of the way there.

At the airport, I remembered I shouldn't have my camera in my luggage if I actually wanted pictures to develop, so I pinched my finger in my suitcase checking it. Then I remembered I had put it in the glove compartment of the Blazer, so I went back out to get it. On my way out the automatic sliding doors, I completely missed the opening and walked right into the door. Em and Lew thought that was a great show, and I couldn't helping laughing myself all the way out to the car. I'm such a klutz.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I challenge anyone to think of a greater invention than indoor plumbing. You don't appreciate what you have until you have to use pit toilets for a weekend. I think I went to the bathroom about half the time I usually did, just so I wouldn't have to go use the pit toilet. I can't think of anything that smelled so bad. It just made you want to vomit.

But the rest of it was fun. I didn't catch any fish, but my attitude about fishing is the same as for golfing: however you do, enjoy being outside. I did get pretty sunburnt on the one arm. Silly me forgot sunscreen at all the opportune times. We fished mostly Saturday. In the morning, we fished for trout in the main lake, and then we got this tip for a little-fished pond where the pike were biting. It was pretty marshy, so just me and Lew and Smitty (Matt's friend) went out there. I went in my bare feet and squished around. The water was only ever up to my ankles. By this time, it was the heat of the day, so nothing was biting. Smitty stayed out there, and Lew and I went back to camp for a nap. Smitty came back around suppertime with a whole mess of pike, so we ate that and some halibut he had brought along for supper. Mmm, mmm, good!

Today was overcast and cold and misty - the first day of not-so-great weather we've had so far, so we've been extremely lucky. We got back, unpacked, and cleaned up in time for our dinner reservations at a restaurant called the Brew House. I had the Alaskan King, so tasty.

We'll figure out something to do tomorrow, since our plane doesn't leave until 9:30 p.m. I'm not looking forward to losing those three hours!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Less pissed off this time...let's see what we've done the past three days. :)

Tuesday we went to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Our parents instilled in us a need to do the educational stuff while on vacation. Too many Civil War battlefields and factory tours. We learned a lot about the native peoples, today and "before contact". They set up several "villages" outside the center, to show what kind of buildings they lived in and how they survived.

On the way home, we stopped at the salmon hatchery and watched the salmon try and swim upstream. It was a little awe-inspiring watching them try to swim up the short waterfall. No wonder they only have time to mate before they die of exhaustion.

Wednesday we headed down to Seward. Talk about scenic drives. It was absolutely beautiful, with the mountains and the water and the glaciers. The water is the neatest color of blue, since glaciers are blue (as a result of the purity of the ice). We wandered around the Sea Life Center, which was pretty cool for a research center. There were interactive exhibits, including one where you could touch anenomes and starfish and such.

That evening, we went kayaking. Ever since MC told me about his experiences, I've been wanting to try it, so we kayaked in Resurrection Bay. We went from 7-11 p.m., stopping for a rest halfway through to take a short hike to a waterfall. We got some awesome pictures, which I will have to post later.

We spent the night in Seward, and went to the Ididaride Sled Dog Tours. It's run by the guy who won the Ididaride in 2004, and you tour the kennels, and see the puppies, and then take a ride on a sled with wheels. Our guide thought he was quite the comedian.

We then went on to Exit Glacier. There were of course signs posted to stay a safe distance away from the glacier, but Lew and I of course ignored them and walked up to touch. Lew broke off a piece and we ate it. Mom was absolutely appalled, but how many people can say they ate a glacier?

Not sure what the plans are for tomorrow, but we'll be camping and fishing this weekend. Here, fishy, fishy!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Well, I made it two days before getting pissed off. What is it about siblings that can annoy you so much and bring out the worst in you?

We had a decent flight. The puddle jumper from Cedar Rapids to Minneapolis was pretty rough for some reason, but the 5 1/2 hour flight to Anchorage was alright, except for my butt falling asleep. I ended up taking three naps - one in the Minneapolis airport during our three hour layover, and two on the plane, so I was pretty well acclimated to the time change. The change back is going to be horrible, I just know it.

Em and Matt met us at the gate, and we stopped by Denny's on the way back for breakfast 1 a.m. local time (4 a.m. Iowa time). We slept in until nine or ten, and then went downtown to the Saturday market, where they sell local produce and crafts and souvenirs and stuff. It felt kinda funny buying my souvenirs the first day there, but there was some pretty cool stuff. I bought a wool jacket and a Russian teacup. Which seems odd for an Alaska souvenir now that I think about it. Oh well.

We got a driving tour of the base, and went grocery shopping for the week. Prices were a little eye-opening. Eight bucks for a 24-pack of pop, and my favorite granola bars, usually $1.16, were $2.38. That and throwing pop cans away feels really weird.

Today we started out by going to see where Emily works, and we all ended up getting our hair cut. Then we went to the Alaska zoo, so that if we don't see one the rest of the time, at least I can say I saw a moose. We also went to Earthquake Park, which had an excellent view of Cook Inlet.

Then Matt invited us to the load barn where he works, and we watched him take his recertification for loading missiles onto an F-15. It was really pretty cool, but not as cool as getting to sit in the cockpit afterwards. There will be pictures.

Then as to what I'm pissed about - I cooked dinner tonight. I made lasagna and garlic bread while the rest of them finished watching Alien vs. Predator. Obviously, the movie was more important, because they finished watching the movie while I ate. Then Lew had the nerve to ask me why I didn't tell them it was ready. Besides saying, "It's ready", I counted down the time to them "Fifteen minutes" and "Five minutes to cool. What do you want to drink?" and ate alone in the adjacent dining room. Now they're downstairs, pissed because I'm up here pissed and not wanting to act like my feelings aren't hurt.

Friday, August 05, 2005

It's very difficult to see the three of the strongest men in your life cry.

Aunt Joan wrote a wonderful tribute, and I learned a lot about my grandma. I saw pictures I'd never seen before, and I learned that she had been a very beautiful, stylish woman. There was one of her as a baby, and you could tell it was her, because the eyes were exactly the same. I wish I could have known more about her life. If you look at when she was born, and the age she was during some of the most interesting times of the twentieth century...her life story must have been fascinating. She went to college in the late twenties. She had just gotten married and was starting a family during the depression. Her husband went to WWII while she had three children at home. She sent children to fight in the Korean and Vietnam wars. She saw inventions: the automobile, the washing machine, the television, the computer. The world she left was not the same one she came into.

We buried a kind, generous, resourceful, loving, incredible woman today.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I don't know what I was thinking. I have plenty of clothes. Except the jeans - those I needed, but I bought them, so I'm good on that front. Most everything I need to pack is at least pulled out of drawers, except for my swishy pants, which I think I'll have to hunt through my winter clothes tubs to find. I was very good yesterday while I was shopping: I tried on a bunch of clothes at Target, decided I didn't really need them, and put them back on the racks. Then I went and picked out $30 of snack food. Whoops.

Hey! We will be spending a lot of time on airplanes and in airports during prime snacking time, and I need choices. What with airlines getting all skimpy on the food, I'm going to need to know it's available, otherwise, I'll be hungry just on the mere principle of the thing. Let's see...I picked up Cheddar Flavor-Blasted Goldfish, chocolate Twizzlers, York Peppermint Patties, Ritz Smores, and beef jerky and sour gummi worms for the maroon. And juice packs. Emily said I'd probably need a suitcase just for snacks. Maybe I do. I am, after all, carrying mostly entertainment in my carry-on. Hopefully I can hand off one of the books to my brother - he's borrowing Half-Blood Prince, and I picked up The Historian, which is 900 pages long. I went to her reading at Live from Prairie Lights a while ago, and decided I wanted to read it. (Link includes Real Audio of the reading. Scroll down to July 12th.) Heavy books. Plus, I'll be carrying my bathroom bag, and pajamas and a change of clothes for potential loss of luggage issues.

Laundry is done, rides to/from the airport arranged, iShuffle updated...I think I just need to pack. I gotta be missing something. Maybe it's because I haven't packed yet. Easy to forget something if you think of it, and then forget it while you're packing.

I don't travel often. Can you tell?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'm starting to panic. I've got all this stuff to do before we leave on Saturday, and I only just did the first thing off my list just now (filled out the request to have my mail held). If I can get my shopping done tonight, I might feel better. I need jeans, a camera, a book, snacks...and oh my god, what am I going to wear? I don't have any casual clothes anymore, I even have only one pair of jeans that decent for wearing in public. Thus, the buying. Plus, Alaska is too cold to wear tank tops, which is the bulk of my summer casual wear. What about footwear? Can I wear flip flops? Otherwise, I have tennis shoes. Everything else is strappy sandals with cute little heels and completely inappropriate for walking. Then if I go out and buy a bunch of stuff, it's kinda pointless because I won't be able to wear it very much afterwards. Poop.

And then I start feeling guilty for agonizing over these trivial little things, when I'm supposed to be in mourning. And there will be a visitation and a funeral, and that takes out another evening for time to get things done. But at least I get to go to the funeral. It would have been upsetting if she'd held on a few days longer and the funeral would have been when Lew and I were gone. Which also feels morbid for being glad she died sooner rather than later. Yes, she was in pain and it was better that she doesn't have to suffer anymore, but it still feels horrible to be glad for such a trivial and selfish reason.

Death inspires such conflicting feelings for those of us left behind.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Evelyn Rose Marie Whitmer
October 14, 1910 - August 1, 2005

I helped my cousin's fiancee move on Saturday. Shawn moved into their new home, and then Rachael will move in after the wedding in October, so we did a little moving of Rachael's major furniture items, as well.

If I had ever felt bad about my housekeeping skills, I no longer feel bad now. Shawn lived with three other guys in this beautiful house on Market Street. For those of you not familiar with Iowa City, that area of town is filled with historical houses with big front porches, hard wood floors, built-in shelves and cabinetry, georgeous woodwork, and just all the wonderful little touches that give a house character that you wouldn't ever see in a house built within the last 75 years. Such a beautiful house. It was everything I could ever wish for in a house, but since it was a rental, it was a little run-down, and since four guys lived there, it was covered in layers of dust.

Gross. How do people live like that? I don't think I stopped sneezing the entire time I was there. His electronics looked gray instead of black, there were dust bunnies in every corner, the carpets looked like they hadn't been vacuumed since they moved in, and there was a haze in the air from things being moved. How hard is it to run a Swiffer around the floor once every couple of months?

And Rachael. Rachael has two cats. I walked in there and about choked. I said, "Girl, it stinks in here." She told me the litter box needed changed, but it was so much more than that. She was used to it. There was a layer of cat hair on everthing. It smelled like the proverbial old lady's house, and I was just in the living room, not the TV room where the cats spend most of the time (and where the litter box was). When I got home, I kept smelling whiffs of cat shit, so I checked the bottoms of my shoes, thinking I had stepped in it. No, it was my t-shirt. And I spent a total of half an hour in that living room, and moved only wooden furniture. This is why I believe animals belong outside.

Shawn was moving a particularly hairy chair into the new house when one of her friends made the comment: "I think I could knit another cat from the amount of hair on that chair." He said, "Yeah, it's a good thing I love her." I said, "I love her, too, but not enough to live with those cats." "I heard that!" she called from inside the house.

I'm sure they'll be better housekeepers together than apart.