It's decidedly Autumn

Even though it's still August for a few more hours, Fall has definitely set in here in the Pacific Northwest. Leaves are falling, the air is crisp, football has started, and pumpkin ales are already being served (August is too early for that last one...). And although I am somewhat loathe to bid farewell to Summer--all five weeks of it that we had--I'm actually really eager to welcome in the new season.

Fall has always been my favorite. Partly because my birthday falls in it, and partly (read: mostly) because it meant the start of school. I admit it; I'm a totally nerd and I always loved going back to school. The start of a new year, sigh. True, anytime I had to make a change, say for instance from elementary school to junior high, I would make myself physically sick stressing out about the change and the worry of what if I didn't succeed that year (that's the makings of a different post and/or a session with the therapist), but give it a week and all was settled and well.

I was reading
Jessica's post the other day remembering the start of college and tripped down memory lane. After reading it, I found it hard to believe that we didn't go to the same university; the likeness between some of her memories and mine are uncanny (even down to the hopeless crush on the artsy English major, sigh). Starting college and that new phase in life is firmly rooted in the Fall and I feel all warm and rosy inside thinking of it all.

Although my school days have passed, I still get excited when it's time to flip the calendar to September. Funny how in literature Fall often represents aging and approaching the "winters of our lives." I seem to have so many happy memories of new beginnings in Fall.

Interestingly enough, almost all of the romantic relationships of consequence (and even those inconsequential high school boyfriends) have all started in Autumn. When I think about it, I've only had one real Valentine in my life, so if I'm single in February it's no big deal. But single in the Fall always throws me for a loop. And, well, as we usher in September tomorrow, I am thinking no loops will be thrown my way. I have a new friend.

I've decided that the best thing about new friends, on top of the butterflies and permanent grin, is that they make you realize your old friend really was not right for you. I mean your friends told you that over and over, and you even thought it was probably true, but no matter how much your friends said it, or how much you convinced yourself, it takes a new friend to really ground that. Thank you, New Friend.

So, goodbye to summer and hello to sweater weather, crunchy dried leaves, and the opportunity for new beginnings and new friends.



Have you ever had one of those weeks, where you just feel too busy to brush your teeth? Yeah, I'm having one of those weeks. I feel like every minute of this week has been double booked. I'm more than looking forward to the long weekend.

Note to self: Dental hygiene should take precedence over blogging.


I survived. Now bring on the giants.

The improv showcase went very well, thank you very much. I think the audience was entertained, but I left feeling the need for something more.

I remember finishing the 201 performance and feeling ecstatic. And, a little bit (I'm embarrassed to say this), feeling like I was the best improviser that has ever lived. Ever. Okay, clearly my adrenal glands had taken control of my body and mind; I may have been okay, or decent, but far from the Muhammad Ali of improv. But I left the show excited to take 301 because as the best improviser that has ever lived (ever), I was going to go into 301 and come out a star. That's right. People would be lining up outside of the shoddy little classroom on the fourth floor of the building in the Seattle center wanting my autograph on my yet-to-be-taken fabulously glossy 8x10 head shot.

Cut to week one of 301--no queue of autograph-seeking fans. What? Why? One slice of humble pie for Little Ms. Notetaker.

I liken it to the transition between know-it-all teenager and overwhelmed young adult. The phase where one day you know everything and could write the book on it all and the next day you realize all these other people in your life are absolute sages and you know nothing--and you've pretty much known nothing for quite some time and either you've been too haughty to notice or you just blatantly ignored everyone around you out of pure spite. Suddenly you feel lonely and you question everything, but you don't give up because you know enough to see that the other people around you, those yogis of [insert your topic here], yeah, they went through this phase and made it out successfully on the other end. So you can too. That's the intersection I'm sitting in.

So as I left the show last night, I know I did as well as I could for where I am now. And I made people laugh (phew), but I also know better this time. I know that technically our class had improved considerably from our 201 days--we have more practice and are starting to have a better grasp on the fundamentals. I know that I am NOT God's gift to improvising, but that I do have the gifts to be better. And I know that I want to get better, and that after leaving the show I know where and how I can get better, I just need to be challenged and pushed to get there. So I leave excited for the next chapter to grow and improve, but I need a little break. Some time away from improv is needed, which is good because tonight I started to go get lost in the woods.


Becoming a valley girl

Note to self: Stop thinking and just breathe and feel.

I'm anxious. I've been anxious for a couple weeks now. I've got an improv showcase tomorrow evening and I'm all up in my head about it. And, since I've been knocking around my head for quite some time, I think I have it all figured out.

I've been doing bad improv lately (is it any coincidence that when you type in improv in Microsoft Word, it auto corrects it to "improve?" Hmmmm), and that's been troubling to me. It's not so much that I've been bad that's bothering me, it's the fact that I just absolutely freeze. I'm not offering anything up to my scene partners and just lose all sense of character. I think this is the result of two things, 1) the natural process of learning, and 2) the ghost that haunts me.

I don't know why I think that I am exempt from the learning process--the process where you learn new techniques and skills, and without a doubt you always get worse before you get better. But it took me awhile to catch on to the fact that I was in that valley of trying to break myself of my old habits and incorporate new and more productive habits. I'm desperately trying to climb my way out of it, but I think I may need to wallow down here a little more. I'm trying to rush my way out of this "phase," when really I think I need to just be in it and soak it all in, so that when I do eventually get out of here, I'll be on solid ground and won't ever slip back down to the very bottom.

But the problem is that my little ghost is what's trying to nudge me out of this valley; the little ghost I like to call perfectionism. Ah, yes. That is one I have yet to shake, or at least tame. Ever since I can remember, I have been an extreme perfectionist, down to every minute detail. And that still appears to be my M.O. (case in point, the kitchen). Therein lies the rub between my natural tendencies and improv. In improv, there is essentially no right or wrong, there is just how you respond to what you are given. It's all about reaction. Sure there is thinking involved, but I think the key is to get as comfortable as you can with the fundamentals so that you can turn your brain off and just go with what you're given. And lately, my freeze is coming from me trying to make sure that I hit all of the fundamentals and that I make the perfect choice, or give my partner the perfect offer. And by virtue of stopping and thinking, I essentially render "perfection" impossible.

And, okay, this probably applies to more in my life than just improv.

So I'm going to resist the ghost and the urge to be perfect (am thinking this is much easier said than done), and I'm going to put on some good ol' galoshes and much around in this valley until I have a complete lay of the land. I'm going to try and stop myself from over thinking and allow myself to just react.


Santa, the Easter Bunny, and a bag of chips

I was listening to Internet radio today at work and heard a song that I don't really remember if I liked or not, from a band I'd never heard of--I know, good story, right? But I did happen to notice the name of the album, and that's stuck with me all day: "I believe in you. Your magic is real."

I love that.

I can't decide whether to place the emphasis on your, magic, or real? Actually, the emphasis needs to be on YOU (and in my case, ME). Note to self: We are magic. Really. Take that Tooth Fairy.


Land of the free

I'm still addicted to the Olympics. I imagine that anyone who grew up playing a sport has at some point thought about what it would feel like to play for your country, stand on a podium, lower your head and feel the weight of a medal hanging around your neck.

My Olympic addiction is keeping me up way too late, even despite the fact that I already know the results posted hours before their televised coverage. I'm postponing sleep not because I want to see the outcome, but because I want to see the athletes. I love seeing how they respond to pressure, to success, to failure. I have sacrificed for sport. By no means am I saying that I can empathize with the sacrifice an Olympic athlete make, but I did have to give up a lot in my youth. While I didn't get a gold, I did get a college scholarship out of it and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

My favorite part of competition--almost more than competing itself--was always the playing of the National Anthem prior to each match. I would not consider myself extremely patriotic, at least not in the ethnocentric, entitled, ugly American sort of way, but I am proud to be American. And every time I hear the Anthem it induces thoughts about just how fortunate I am, thankful for the opportunities that have been afforded me. Thankful for a loving family, a sense of safety, and a very fortunate life that had helped to get me there. Chills and choked up. Every time.

And watching the Olympics and hearing the Anthem opens the flood gates of emotion. To see the athletes, a majority of them everyday people with special athletic talent and fantastic work ethic (I played against a few of some of the big guns from these games in high school, they are normal people, incredibly talented, but normal, I swear), to see families up in the stands, imagining the sacrifices, the pent up emotions, and then to think about what I imagine competing for your country feels like, overwhelms me every time. No matter what you may think about the state of our country it has to be an unbelievable feeling of pride.

So when I sit here and hear the Anthem playing, it immediately takes me back to my pre-match routines and reminds me that even though I never made it to the biggest court in the world, the sacrifices I made helped get me to where I am today; the love and support of my family are my foundation; and that living here has most definitely made that possible.



In case you thought that I didn't take your comments to heart. Well, I do (and I'm not going to lie, comments make me smile), and I followed Shawn's advice and posted my kitchen on "Rate My Space" on HGTV. And I'm making hundreds of friends by the hour. Seriously.

Within the first 15 minutes I had my space posted, I had over 50 hits. Wow. How do all these people know about this? I'm telling you, people, I think this Internets thing is really catching on.

Instead of writing you a fabulous post about Hot Sauce or wiener dogs (wait for it... wait for it...) tonight,I've been stalking my space following the kind comments of virtual strangers--actually, they are actual strangers and virtual friends. But I can't keep up with all of the comments. Oh, and I can't stop going back and back and back to my space. I may have to take a restraining order out on myself.

But I'm not going to stop you from going there. In fact, you should go there now. Yeah, go there now and rate my space. Yeah, go there now and rate my space, and give me fives. I am not above begging for it. Validate me. Pretty please?


Buh-bye, Monkey!

I finished my kitchen (cue the triumphant olympic-esque music).

Almost all of my free time over the past week has been spent on getting this project finished--you may have noticed my lack of posting. I have three or four posts bouncing around my head and even a few more started, but I had to prioritize the kitchen because I wanted to get that crossed of the list.

I wasn't intending this post to be about the kitchen, but as I installed the final knob and vacuumed the floor that's been covered by three layers of protective cardboard since May 4, I realized that my whole life has been revolving around this project. Even when I wasn't working on it, it was still there, crowding out all other thoughts in my brain, forcing itself to the front of the line.

And this little project wasn't limited to the kitchen. It had taken over almost every physical room in my house. And even though I wasn't using my bedroom as a staging area for power tools or anything, I even felt the effects in there. There are currently piles of clothes and shoes to be organized and put away, and there are loads of laundry waiting to be washed. I've been a little worried lately, as I have kept letting the piles grow and felt no motivation to do anything about them. In my mind, I kept saying, once the kitchen's done, once the kitchen's done, but I wasn't sure if it really was the kitchen, or if I was becoming a lazy sloth who likes to live in filth. I was enabling myself because somehow it made sense that with the kitchen in disarray, living in squalor was perfectly acceptable.

But as I finished the project today and started peeling up the layers of cardboard, I felt the old me coming back to life. I started cleaning and organizing, and reclaiming my life and my house room by room.

Finishing that project not only gave me unbelievable satisfaction (I can't stop looking at all my pictures), but also a huge sense of relief. I hadn't realized just how tightly that monkey had been riding on my back for the past three-and-a-half months, but it had essentially dug its claws in and hadn't let go. I've kicked him to the curb (along with a big TV that has been sitting out in front of my house for a week) and am looking forward to rejoining life, monkey-free.


Lessons learned

I posted a few notes over at DomestiKat. Fortunately, I didn't lose my eyebrows. Phew.

On a completely unrelated note, I am a sucker for the Olympics--from the sappy sob stories to the serious competition. I'm an addict.

I consider myself a smart girl, and like to fool myself into thinking that I'm more clever than marketers, but when it comes to the Olympics, I'm not. I totally buy into the formula; and I know that they are going to keep teasing me with swimming finals telling me they are less than an hour away (when in actuality, they've already happened), and then they are going to force me to sit through judo, or race walking, or rhythmic gymnastics until they get to the prime time action that every other apple pie loving American and I are waiting for--the swimming and gymnastics finals. The events that the marketers have carefully manipulated us into wanting to wait for them.

And they know me, in fact they probably made me the way I am and they know it. They know that I am going to sit through the sports I'm really not all that interested in, especially when you give me a gut-wrenching emotional piece about the unbelievable adversity this person has overcome to reach elite athleticism. Cue the emotional swell of music. And then all of a sudden I'm a fan of synchronized diving. And I'm drinking a coca-cola, and buying a GM car, all on my Visa. And looking around for a big "Thank you" from Morgan Freeman.


I see London

Note to self: Before stepping out in public, make sure your clothes are in tact.

Last week, I had two very unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions. The first occurred when I was getting out of my car in the work parking garage. I couldn't understand why the person across the parking aisle from me was staring as I walked down the garage toward the elevator, so I continued to walk with my bag slung across my body. When I got to the elevator, I figured out what was so stare worthy: my cute little floral tunic had become completely unbuttoned during my drive in and I walked around the garage with my bra hanging out like it ain't no thang.

A couple days later, after hopping off of a bus and walking a few city blocks--with more than a few unexpected glances up and down--I realized the denim mini-skirt I was wearing had shifted more than 90 degrees. The fly was siting on my hip and with every step was inching itself into a full rotation around my mid-section.

These two incidents, while somewhat embarrassing, do not even compare to the ultimate apparel fiasco I faced as a kid--it was enough to make even Janet and Justin blush.

First-grade little me had just come in from recess and our class was about to head into P.E. It was a catholic school (this is before I went to my other elementary school where my friends and I gained notoriety as the singing detectives) and it was the early 80s, which means the uniforms we had to wear were polyester plaid little beauties. As girls, we had two options, we could wear plaid pants (think royal blue and kelly green Brady Bunch bell-bottoms), or jumpers in the same material and pattern. I was a jumper girl myself, and had three or four of them. On days when we had gym class, jumper girls would wear a pair of shorts underneath. When it was time to line-up at the classroom door to head to the gymnasium, jumper grils would strip down to their shorts. So I stripped off my jumper, threw it on my desk and got in line. It wasn't until I had been standing in line for a few moments that I realized I forgot to put shorts on that day. So there I was, standing in front of the class in my little blouse and underwear. Awesome.

You know how you have that dream where you're at school, naked? Yeah it was kind of like that, only I was definitely awake.


Eat your heart out, Bridezilla

The two thousand and eighth year of our Lord will forever go down in infamy as the year Little Ms. Notetaker lived the dream of starry-eyed brides-to-be everywhere--all the while remaining a hot little bachelorette. Indeed, this is the year I wore Vera Wang down the aisle; but something else magical, if not uproariously hilarious, has happened to me.

This evening, I stopped by a large bookstore and got myself a magazine. But not just any magazine, no. This magazine:

Why, yes; that is the August issue of Modern Bride. And before you get all, OH MY GOD! LMNT's ENGAGED! on me, let me assure you there is no fiance of whom to speak. I'm not shopping for dresses, seeking the hottest hairstyles, or comparing organza and tulle. No. I was looking for something else:


That's right. It's me on page 136. Yes, Internets, I am in the magazine. Hello!

Vera Wang, check. Featured in a bridal magazine, check. What's next? Prince Charming? Note to self: Hold your breath. These things happen in threes, you know.


Original photography by Heather Gilson, One Love Photo (who is fantastic, by the way). If you want more context on what piqued Modern Bride's interest, read this. And for my back story/commentary, read this.


Getting to second base

Last weekend, I had my "experience of a lifetime." Yes, friends, I was the guest groundskeeper at a Mariner's game.

"What does a guest groundskeeper do?" you ask. First of all, the guest groundskeeper gets to give two fantastic box seats to her lucky friends for the game, and she forces those friends to have fun, oh and to take pictures.

After batting practice, groundskeepers spring into action and start hosing, raking, chalking, and other groundsing and keeping activities. It is a very precise science, and because guest groundskeepers are not scientific in that way, you get to hold the hose above the ground so it doesn't drag across the freshly raked dirt.

Then you spend a lot of time standing around just trying to look good (and impress some of the, sigh, cute players in the dugout, but instead of impressing the player you've suddenly decided might need to be the father of your gaggle of children, you impress the team's trainer. Well, it's a start, and he gets to touch that particular player) while the real groundskeepers do their serious business. You don't do much until the bottom of the third inning, when you spring into major action.

As soon as the third out is completed, you run out onto the field leading all of the other groundskeepers out there--heart racing because you don't want to make a mistake in front of 30,000 people. I understand that the world is a stage, but seriously, I've never done anything where there's a potential for 30,000 people (that's 60,000 eyes, assuming everyone in the crowd has two of them... I'm just saying) to be focused on you.

Then you kick the base. Kick it real good.
Then get down there and pick it up. Hurry the rakers are coming from both angles. Get. The. Base. Out. And then plug it with your little plug thingy.Then just stand there and smile. Look at your friends frantically waving at you trying to get you to wave back. Smile bigger and try to let them know (through psychic-ness) that you've been given strict instructions to NOT WAVE, and realize they aren't picking up on that vibe and just keep trying to get you to wave.

When the raking is complete, put the base back in place and walk off the field--like you are a serious groundskeeper, because duh, you are.Then in the sixth inning. Stand in the grass with a shovel.

This definitely was the "experience of a lifetime" and gets the LMNT stamp of approval. It has been a long time since I've made it to second and this was well worth it--even if I did have to pay for it.


Lucky numbers

While Jo Jo and I were sitting shivering at the baseball game seven years ago, we came to a life-changing conclusion—we needed tattoos.

For many reasons, none seeming more important than my mom’s voice ever-ringing in my ears, “You know, it’s a sin to deface your body,” I never thought I would get a tattoo. In fact, not a month prior to this I emphatically told my then boyfriend that I would NEVER under any circumstances get a tattoo. Note to self: Never say never. Maybe it was the bitter cold that got to my brain that night, but never suddenly became tomorrow. Funny how after my then boyfriend became my ex-boyfriend, he went and got a legitimate mural inked all over his entire back, but that’s another story.

The next day, we walked into a tattoo parlor and after 30 minutes we both walked out with cute little tattoos on our right feet. In order for me to turn never into reality, I’d need to have something significant. So Jo Jo and I picked out a discreet little ladybug that signified our time in college, our time on the volleyball team, our time in the sorority, and our friendship. That was seven years ago today, the fourth of August, which made things more significant than we even imagined. Jo Jo’s jersey was number eight and I was number four, 8/4. And after all was said and done, the design we chose was a ladybug with four spots and together there are eight. I love my little ladybug, even when people mistake it for a pineapple. Or like the time this weekend when I was looking at The Ladybug Girl book with my goddaughter and I said, “what do you see down there on my foot?” and she replied unhesitatingly, “A STRAWBERRY!”

But I know what it is and for what it stands. And it goes to show that all these years and all the distance between us hasn’t gotten in the way of that everlasting friendship; Jo Jo e-mailed me this morning, as we were sharing the same thoughts of seven years ago, and to say, “Happy birthday, ladybug.”


Is there an itch associated with it?

Last week, I celebrated my seven year anniversary of moving out to the Pacific Northwest. Seven years! Time certainly flies when you're having fun--and even when you're miserable, but that was in the middle part so I don't remember too much of that, except I do remember being miserably cold.

My brand new little Jetta, Frans, pulled into Seattle carrying my friend JoJo, me, and as much of my stuff we could cram in there. After spending the first few days in Seattle, we headed down to Tacoma, which was home for my first two years out here. We settled into my basement apartment with what few possessions I had in Frans (some summer clothes, an air mattress, and my golf clubs...). The rest of "me" was on a moving truck making its way out from Denver.

I moved to start my new job at a great little university. One of the summer time activities the university sponsored for faculty and staff was a night at a minor league baseball game. Excited to go and meet new people, JoJo and I headed to the park. Ah, summer's pastime in the Northwest.

When I prepared to move to Washington, everyone--and I mean everyone--told me that it rained here. Shut up! Really? Thank you, Captain Obvious! However, nobody told me that it would feel like winter in summer. Information that would have been much more useful to me than, "it rains out there." Despite temperatures in the high 60s, we froze our butts off at that game. With chattering teeth and gigantic goosebumps, we stayed for one inning and drove back to my new home with the heat on full blast and seat warmers cranked up to 11. The next day, we hit the mall to look for sweaters, fleece, down-filled parkas, but to no avail. The employees at The GAP offered me blank stares when I implored, "But you don't understand, I really need a wool sweater." Sixty degrees in Seattle feels a good 20 degrees colder than in Denver, and all of my winter clothes--scratch that, not even winter clothes, all my clothes with SLEEVES of any kind--were neatly packed in a box on a truck somewhere in Utah or Idaho.

Note to self: Keep your sleeved winter clothes accessible year round when living in the Northwest.

To celebrate my seven years out here, Seattle commemorated it with a week of gray cloudy days in the 60s, not too unlike my first week here. Thank you, Seattle.

In spite of winter in July, I love it here. I'm sincerely surprised that seven years could pass so quickly. Driving into town all those years ago, I was facing a blank canvas--who knew the adventures that were in store for me. And if I could go back and pay a visit to a younger Little Ms. Notetaker, I know she wouldn't believe me when I'd tell her where she'd be and how she would get there. I'd tell her that she's going to experience more than she can even imagine, that she'll learn, love, lose, laugh, but most importantly live.

Live indeed.

And she may not believe what she hears, but I sure believe that she'd be proud of who she is going to become, and be excited to fill in that canvas--an entertaining, if not random, paint-by-number. And as I sit here today, I wonder what the future me looks like seven years from now. I probably wouldn't believe it. But I'm proud of her already; there are certain things I like to think are on the canvas and I cannot wait to fill them in with the colors of me.