Home Sweet Home

Home from Denver today.  I had a great time doing a bunch of crazy stuff, but more on that later.  The more exciting part about coming home is getting the apartment ready for my new kitty!  I got a call from my Uncle just before I left that some friends of ours were looking for a kitty-home while they go off on a crazy trip of their own.

No pictures yet (we’re a little bit camera shy), but my roommate and I are now the proud owners of our own grey and white, middle-aged, slightly chubby, borrowed cat.  I’m very excited as I was considering adopting a cat before and one came around looking for a home.  I think this is going to be an interesting semester.

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Before and After: Haircut

Okay, so this before and after isn’t so much my own work as the last one (well, actually the before kind of is).  But I wanted to show off my new haircut because it’s fun.  Not a massive change, but a fun story anyway.

Ever since I found a coupon last semester for a $10 haircut at the Sassoon Academy here in Chicago, I’ve waiting for a chance to use it.  This week seemed like my chance.  I made an appointment and walked to the salon.  When I checked in the receptionist had me sign a wavier.  Basically saying that I was going to get my hair cut by a student and I couldn’t sue them if it flopped.  Scary.  Even scarier was waiting in their cafe while people bustled around the salon, also looking nervous.

A man came through and talked to each of the 6 or 7 of us who were wearing those hideous black gown things (and I put thought into that outfit), asking what we wanted done today.  He almost immediately looped back to me and asked if I would be his model for the class today.  Umm, okay, why not?

A few minutes later he brought me into a room with a dozen or so chairs and about half that amount of students.  He asked me to repeat what I had wanted and then explained (to them) what he was going to do.  When I came back from shampoo, he was drawing on the white board and telling a story.

Through the whole haircut, he explained the theory behind how he was cutting my hair.  Everything from the direction he was cutting to the angle he was holding the scissors.  I can tell you a lot about how my hair is.  My favorite was the bangs as he explained how it was all different lengths and he called it fringe.  I felt quite silly for calling it bangs after that.  Also, I’m not allowed to cut them anymore.

In the end my hair is nearly the same length, but the ends are a thousand times cleaner and it looks a lot more professional.  I guess we’ll see how it looks after the first wash, but I love it so far.  And the best part was that it was completely free.  I stopped by the receptionist and she was all, “It looks great, hopefully we’ll see you in a few months.”  I went out and walked a block before I realized that I hadn’t paid.  When I went back she said that August is their free month.  What’s better than a $10 professional haircut?  A FREE professional haircut.  Awesome.

Before and After: "Wit Beyond Measure"

The before picture.  Or the first picture I remembered to take because I had kind of wanted a before picture.

Before and after pictures of the bookcase that I was working nearly two weeks ago now.  My whole living room was a disaster area for a week and a half, but I’m really happy with the results.  I got the two bookcases for free.  I had been working on a project where they were set pieces and asked if I could have them.  It was a fun project to fix them up.  I scraped all the hardware foam off one of the cases, and off the removable shelves of the other, then painted the case and shelves to coordinate nicely with my room.

I painted an inscription on one of the sides, and still want to do the other as well.  The first says “Wit Beyond Measure is Man’s Greatest Treasure,” from Rowena Ravenclaw out of Harry Potter.  I haven’t quite decided what I want the other side to say.  At first I wanted to pick something from Doctor Who, but I think the poster (see below) covers that obsession.  Now I’m thinking I may put something out of Firefly.  If I do it will most likely be “Burn the land / Boil the sea / You can’t take the sky from me.” out of the theme song.

Mostly clean

Taking a break.  My feet are covered in sparkles and pink paint.
Painting
The finished product
Next to my massive Doctor Who poster
Inscription says, “Wit beyond Measure is Man’s Greatest Treasure”  a quote from Rowena Ravenclaw out of Harry Potter.  What can I say, my nerdom knows no bounds.

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Around Town: Rocks and Stuff also: Denver

On my way to Denver today.  Going to visit my Uncle and do some rock climbing.  I’m pretty excited for this trip even though it is pretty short.  It will get me out of town before school starts which will be nice, and it will also give me a chance to go rock climbing outside.  I’ve only ever been indoor climbing, and I’m kind of addicted.  So today, a few pictures of my bestie Allason and I climbing in good old San Francisco.
While I’m gone I have a few posts lined up.  A few before and after projects that I’ve been super excited to show off.  Catch you on the flip side.

This chica is about to embark on a crazy awesome trip to Uganda and the Congo for a few months.  I’m so excited for her and I’m praying for her so much!  I’m going to miss her like mad, but I think after all is said and done she will be coming to spend some time in my bathtub (sorry, inside joke).

Can’t Take the Sky From Me

This past Saturday I, in a display of complete nerdom, went to an event called Can’t Stop the Serenity.  It was a charity event supporting a charity called Equality Now, supporting women’s rights around the world.  For me, it was more of an opportunity to see Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and Serenity on a really big screen than anything else, but that it benefits charity is an extra plus.

There was an auction, and a costume contest, and a friend of mine that come into town to come see it with me.  So much fun.  Next year I want to enter the costume contest.  So much.  I’d never been to something like that before and it was really fun to be around a bunch of other people who also loved something as much as I do.  It was hysterical to see “Fandom” used as a legitimate word in conversation.  And by hysterical I mean awesome.

As a bonus, yesterday my roommate and I went to Borders to check out the reduced price duds for their going out of business sale.  I snagged a few seasons worth of TV including…. Firefly!  I’ve seen it all before, but it will be nice to have it legally in a hard copy and to see the special features.  An in-depth consideration of all things Joss Wedon is inevitable, I’m sure.  I just have to see some Dollhouse so that it can be a bit more well rounded.

Tell Me a Story

I have always been addicted to storytelling.

As a child I was happy just creating a story and a character in my head.  Imagining for a moment what it would be like to be someone else.  Someone older or younger or louder or prettier or meaner.  Someone from a different time period or someone from a different world.  Whatever it was, I would rather be lost in the world of the story than living in reality.  I was constantly consuming new stories, new ideas, and new worlds.

When I was a pre-teen I discovered a new kind of storytelling.  I found a whole slew of new worlds lived right inside of my TV.  I was drawn in by the characters that these worlds presented.  It didn’t matter to me that there was murder and gore in CSI.  The graphic nature of House didn’t phase me.  I focused instead on the characters, the relationships.  I watched Booth and Bones squabble, Ducky of NCIS talk to corpses, and Margret scream at people on M*A*S*H (I like to think that even as a middle schooler I had good taste in television).

In high school it only got worse as I discovered The West Wing and following 30 Rock.  I longed to create my own characters, but couldn’t figure out how to make them realistic.  I took Creative Writing, and I had my first stab at NaNoWriMo (and failed miserably).  I learned that anything could be interesting if I took the time to find the story that was in it.

Now I’m learning even more about how to create drama, and how to make characters seem real.  I’m looking forward to a day when someone will be able to connect with what I’ve written and believe in what I’m saying. This year I’m thinking about trying NaNo again.  I want to get into a habit of writing more often and between school and this blog I hope to be overflowing with ideas.  Can’t wait.

Coming Soon

I’ve been working on a project recently that I’m excited to show off. For now let’s just say that my feet and nearly my entire apartment has been covered with glitter lately. That part I’ll be happy to be done with soon.  Meanwhile I’m putting the finishing touches on a bookcase I’m redoing and I should have pictures for you guys soon.

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This Moment

Today I walked down to the library to try and get a book for a mini-book club a friend and I are starting, and was struck by the amazingness of Chicago and of how far I’ve come. My family as a whole is from here, but my imediate family spent so much time moving around that I didn’t know where to call home. I would come to visit, but never to stay.

Two years ago I was passing though. Quite literally, my mom and I were on a road trip from our former house in New Jersey, bringing the car to our new home of San Francisco. I toured my school for the first time on that visit. And I got a chance to see my crazy Uncle who was, at the time, home from working in Bagdad. I was so happy to see him, and so excited to be in the city. Expectant and nervous about the future. Uncle John told me that I would be back, and he presented as if I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I laughed, but the funny thing is that I’m not so sure that I did have a choice in the matter.

Last year I was back again, preparing for moving here, attending college orientation. I was here, but also still competely invested in my life in San Francisco. To some extent I still am. I was a little scared, but putting on a brave front of not minding.

And now. Now I am here for the long haul. I have an apartment in a location I love. I have a growing support system here in Chicago that includes not only family, but classmates, friends, and members of my church as well. I am excited as ever to continue to explore the city and learn even more through school, church, and life in general. I’m excited to be able to share it all with this here blog as well. I don’t know how many people are reading, but I’m glad to be able to put these thoughts into the world. I’m sorry if I seem to be waxing poeticly positive nonssence quite a bit recently, but I’m very excited about living right now and I hope it’s not too over the top.

Also, how do you like my hat?  I just got it the other day and I’m wearing it everywhere!  Can’t get enough.

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20 Before 20: Learn to Navigate by Bike

I set out at the begining of the summer with this as my goal. What I lreaned: there’s really not much to it. I already knew how to ride a bike, and since I have a drivers license (in two states even), I know the rules of the road. Really all it took to navigate by bike was combining the two together. There were some things that I did learn over this summer of spuratic bike riding though in San Francisco, Montreal, and Chicago. These are the rules I try to follow when I ride.

  1. Comunicate. This is sort of a blanket rule that I think a lot of things can be squished in to. Motion to drivers when you’re going to be going into their lane. Shout that you’re about to pass another biker. Make eye contact with drivers, pedestrians, anyone who’s path you may cross who you want to make sure they know you’re there, try to make eye contact. Smile and say hello to people who can hear you. Just for fun.
  2. Lock it up. Properly. Get a big old hefty U-lock. Find either a bike rack or a tall pole to tie your bike to. If you choose to lock it to a parking meter then the more power to you, but be sure that your lock dosen’t allow the bike to be lifted over the meter (learned that one the hard way. When you lock up the bike you want to make sure that both the frame of the bike and the front tire are included with the lock. If you know how, then for extra protection you can pop the front tire off the bike and then lock that, the back tire and the bike frame to the rack/pole. I’ve found that back wheels are much more difficult to take off and are less prone to being stolen.
  3. Put your phone/keys/other things likely to fall out of your pocket in your bag. There’s nothing worse than your phone falling out of your pocket while you’re riding down a busy street. I’ve had it happen to me a few times, and while nothing’s broken yet, it’s still very inconvenient. Backtracking means you loose momentum and time. No one wants that.
  4. Know where you’re going. I think this may be the most important thing of all. You do not want to be stopping in the middle of traffic to try and figure out if you’re supposed to turn or go straight. You don’t want to find out at the last second that you were supposed to be turning left up here, and should have gotten in the turn lane half a block back. If I’m going someplace I’ve never been I study the map carefully and then draw my route on a post it and stick it to the handlebar for reference. Works every time.

Those are the rules I go by though I’m sure there are others. I’ve also just gotten a bike check up which has helped my bike emencely. My new favorite thing, now that I’m riding fairly regularly in Chicago, is riding under the El. When I come to a stop light I use the El support beams for balance so that I don’t even have to put my feet on the ground. It’s like a game for me. Riding over the Chicago River is fun too. A lot of the bridges have only grates as the street over the river so you can look straight down into the water.

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New Layout!

Anyone notice anything different?  It’s a new layout!  Granted it’s not a custom design or anything, but I made the header myself and I’m pretty proud of it if I do say so myself.  I don’t have photoshop so this was a picasa and picnic dealio, which is fine with me.  I do wish the image was a little sharper, so maybe once my photoshop expert comes back from vacation he can help me out.

{Trevor if you’re reading this, come home!  I miss you and our late night IM conversations discussing TV shows and our crazy families.  Also, I need to show you pictures of new IKEA furniture}

Anywho.  I’m very excited about the new header for two reasons.  One of which I’ve already mentioned, that I made it myself.  The second reason is because I’m working on creating multiple versions.  Since I am so lucky as to be able to call so many different places home, I am creating different banners for different places where I feel at home.  Whenever I change locations the banner will change to show where I am.  The banner right now is a picture of San Francisco that I took while waiting for the bus.  I am working on a banner for Chicago (because that’s where I actually am right now), and possibly one for traveling as well.  I’m hoping that this will be an effective way to say where I’m blogging from without having to mention it in every post.

I’m very excited for this whole thing (can you tell).

Edited to add: Chicago header is now up.  You should have seen how excited I was with how both of them came out.  Very happy.