Friday, December 28, 2007

A haypenny will, in fact, do.

Hope everyone's holidays were happy. Mine were just fine. The gift I gave that seemed to be the most well-received was in actually the least expensive thing I gave. Thanks to a series of generous people, I ended up getting about a dozen round cone-shaped windshield scrapers at no cost to give as gifts. Mine has proven to be at least twice as effective as a regular one as far as surface area being scraped, and many who have received one from me agree. My little brother was so excited to try it that he went out to scrape his car right after we had opened gifts. It just tells you how little inexpensive but useful gifts can be big hits with your loved ones. Nothing says "I love you" like a cleaned windshield in less time.

The gift I'm the most excited about receiving is the voice lessons I'll be taking in the coming weeks. I decided it might help me gain the confidence I need to audition for community theater and feel like I might even have a small chance of getting in. More specifically, the Hale Center theater is doing Into the Woods in October, and their auditions are this summer. I've always wanted to be a part of this show, and in this case would love to be Little Red Riding Hood, so that's what I'm shooting for. I know it's pretty unlikely with all the other much more talented and experienced people out there, but it would be a good experience just to at least try.

I've been tagged by Jenny to write 6 facts or habits about me, and I've done this before, but since I'm just so blasted full of quirks, I thought I'd do it again. Enjoy!

1) Speaking of Christmas, I never consciously remember believing in Santa Claus. Never. This might have to do with the fact that Santa always suspiciously had the same handwriting as my mother, that he used the same wrapping paper as my mother, and that our chimney was never ever used. So he comes in using magic? Riiiiiight. Then when I was about nine I remember getting up to get a drink and catching my mom filling my stocking, and I wasn't surprised in the least. But this being said, I was completely and totally sold on the Easter Bunny. Go figure.

2) When I was younger I lived in the Airport Hilton for a time (the one you drive past as you're headed west on I-80 with the giant pond in the back.) My father was the manager at the time, and while some housing things were being figured out we lived in a suite on the top floor. I was pretty young so I don't remember much, but I do hear many stories about my brother who is 3 years older than me causing all kinds of trouble while living there, including jamming the elevators and riding his bike into the pond. I wish I had been older so I could remember more.

3) My nostrils sometimes flare when I'm singing. I can see them out of my bottom periphery vision, and I think I've caught on to a pattern... It's only when i'm descending in pitch, and it's only between certain notes. Usually when I'm going anywhere from a high C down to around an E. I notice this especially when I'm singing the alto line to Angels We Have Heard on High. I hope you all now understand why I can never sing in front of any of you ever again.

4) I have a condition called Geographic Tongue. It isn't severe by any means, but every now and then you can see patches on my tongue where the little papillae are gone. It's especially evident when I'm sick. I didn't know it was a condition until I was about 18 and the first thing my new dentist said when I opened my mouth was, "Oh, you have geographic tongue." Until then, I just thought I had strange shapes on my tongue that would come and go mysteriously, like little tongue crop circles. I hope you now understand why I can never stick my tongue out in front of any of you ever again.

5) I love the Super Nintendo, and can't seem to move on past it to the more advanced gaming systems available. In fact, I received two new Super Nintendo controllers and an expansion adapter for my system for Christmas, so I can play Bomberman with four people at a time. Too bad no one living with me these days has much of an attention span to play it with me.

6) I've never been in an accident (though I came the closest I've ever been to being in one today.) On a related note, I received my first speeding ticket EVER about two months ago. I totally deserved it. In fact, I've been deserving them for years, so it's about time the law caught up with me.

There you go. If anyone who reads this blog feels inspired to do the same and hasn't for awhile, do it! It's kind of fun to thing about obscure facts about yourself.

...Still minus a camera, by the way.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I came home on Wednesday to find one roommate frantically talking to her mother on the phone, and the other one in the basement rustling around. I raised an eyebrow at the one on the phone and she pulled her phone away from her mouth long enough to say, "our house got broken into while we all were at work."

My first thought was my laptop, not because of how much it was worth but because of all the pictures and writing projects I have saved on it. I ran around the corner into my room to find it looking surprisingly a lot like I left it. My drawers were a little more pulled out and askew than usual, a handful of clothes were strewn around the room, my desk covered with miscellaneous items, and thankfully, my laptop sitting undisturbed where I left it that morning. I breathed a sigh of relief. The relief actually kept me pretty numb to panic when I discovered that my digital camera was NOT where I left it. The thought I had when I noticed that was, "but at least my laptop is still here."

The thief (thieves?) actually didn't take much at all, but what they did take was unsettling. They took the hundred dollar bill my roommate had sitting on her dresser, two cameras, and keys. Jenny had a giant keyring taken that had all the keys to about everything that requires a key on the property (including tractors, cars, barns, etc.) and my roommate Cristi had her spare car key stolen. Why did they leave multiple laptops, expensive electronic equipment, pricey guitars, iPods, and other expensive things and just take keys? Because they were planning on returning for other things, was the only thing we could deduce.

So the doors with windows got borded up (which is how they got in in the first place... broke a window in a door and just reached around to unlock it), and Jenny and I spent a restless night sleeping in the living room and waking at the slightest sounds throughout the night. Our house got re-keyed the next morning, and for now anytime Cristi's car is home it gets barricaded next to the house by someone else's car until she can get her car re-keyed. But of all the costs and things stolen, we miss our sense of security the most. I'm suddenly very conscious of the knives in the kitchen and how close I am to them in any given room in the house. We're also seriously considering getting a dog.

...Which, I won't be able to take pictures of. In fact, it'll be awhile until I can replace my camera and give you visual updates of what I'm writing about, and I'll save you from any more pitiful drawings in paint. But I'll write about my Christmas later with or without visuals.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just call me Haley "beam in the eye" Greer

I have this thing I like to call my Pride Pendulum. Back when I was a teenager I didn't think too highly of myself and was fairly insecure about a lot of things about me. In high school my pride pendulum started to swing from the negative end of the self-esteem scale toward the middle somewhere, and that's when I kind of discovered who I am and what I'm about and started enjoying being me. But, since my mission I've felt my pendulum swing from the middle part labeled "confidence" toward the positive end of "arrogance" on occasion. In short, every now and then I'll catch myself thinking pretty highly of myself. And, consequently, my pendulum will hit something that will stop its positive trajectory and swing it violently back toward the humility end where it belongs.

How this usually happens is that I'll perceive someone to be less happy than they could be, and I'll start to tell people how they should change their behaviors in order to be a happier and more successful person. The first problem with this is that "a happier and more successful person" really means "more like me" without me realizing it. And, much to my amazement, not everyone appreciates this advice. While I'm giving it I am agast when it is taken with anything less than graciousness and gratitude, but in retrospect I correctly realize that, in fact, people don't like being told (or reminded of) what's wrong with them. Even when it's someone they respect and trust. ESPECIALLY when it's someone they respect and trust.

I did this same thing to one of the least deserving of my friends this weekend, and when the response wasn't nearly as positive as the "oh thank you Haley for bringing this to my attention!" that I was expecting for some reason, I was once again reminded that I am NOT as awesome as I think I am sometimes. And after the inital socked-in-the-gut feeling of guilt starts to go away, I'm grateful for the reminder. I am grateful for friends who aren't afraid to call me on it when I'm in the wrong.
It reminds me of my favorite institute teacher Brother Blake, who would every now and then show us parts of an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation to make his point for the day. One of the ones I remember most vividly is an episode called "Remember Me," where Dr. Beverly Crusher thinks that everyone else on the ship who is slowly disappearing is in an alternate dimension. She says, "If there's nothing wrong with me... there must be something wrong with the universe."

After repeated attempts to figure out what has gone wrong and how to right the universe again, she ends up realizing that in fact SHE'S the one who is in "the bubble." Don't worry, she gets out... but only after she was able to admit that the problem was hers, not anyone elses.

I'm sure you see where I'm going with this. I was also reminded of this principle today when my visiting teachers came and talked about charity. More specifically, that true charity is unconditional love that inspires people to be better, rather than doing things that forces them to be better. Charity builds, it does not tear down.

So I'm still digesting my humble pie. But I'm grateful for patient and understanding friends and family around me who are quick to forgive when I get in one of those moods, and who feed me said pie as nicely as they can.

Thanks to Jeff whose recent post about Star Trek inspired me to reference it in my own blog entry. I'm not a Trekkie by any means so it won't be a regular thing, but I thought it was appropriate for the subject. To round things out, I'll also reference the song "Popular" from the musical Wicked:

Glinda: Elphie, I've decided to make you my new project.

Elphaba: You really don't have to do that.

Glinda: I know. That's what makes me so nice.

Okay, one more musical reference. I once played the role of Lucy in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and in the song "The Doctor is In" Lucy tells Charlie Brown that the way to cure his depression is to make a list of all the things that are wrong with him. He sings about his shortcomings, and she adds to his list. I really loved playing that role, probably because being a brat came almost too naturally to me. This is an actual picture of the performance. Man, I can pull some interesting faces...

Still no AA batteries for my camera. I keep forgetting to purchase them. I almost decided to use the ones in my alarm clock, but figured that probably wouldn't be a good idea come Monday morning. Hopefully I'll post some holiday-esque pictures soon...

By the way, I don't commenly refer to my pride as "Bob"... I just liked the picture of the pendulum and thought I'd use it. My pride is more of a "Stanley" anyway...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Two AA Batteries

...are the only thing that stands between you and accurate visuals of what I've been up to lately. My camera is great but it sure wears through batteries quickly, and I keep forgetting to purchase new ones at the store.
So, I'll try and illustrate the details to the best of my ability... literally.

My roommate Cristi and her family participate in a bell choir every year, and my other roommate Melissa is the usual vocalist for a couple of their numbers. However, there are a couple of performances she wasn't able to make it to, so I was the pinch, uh, singer.

Now I like to sing, and I'm slowly getting better, but I'm currently not a great soloist by any means. However, someone recently challenged me to do something impossibly uncomfortable every day, and this definitely qualifies. Ironically, of the three performances in which I sang, I think I sounded the best at the old-folks home where hardly any of them could hear me and would probably not remember me anyway. The whole experience did help me decide what I truly want for Christmas: voice lessons. I will sound like Karen Carpenter yet!

While at one of these bell performances we were able to look through a small Christmas boutique (you know, one of those craft-show things that looks like the Quilted Bear himself threw up everywhere.) As I was wandering my eye was caught by a stand that wasn't selling wooden signs or little trinkets; it was selling flavored oils. The man at the stand saw us pause and beckoned us to come over and sample some things.

Free samples of oil aren't necessarily at the top of my "favorite free samples" list (in truth I've never made such a list, but if I did it would include any form of marinated meat), but he put a single drop in a tiny spoon and said, "Try this lime flavored oil. It's great in fajitas." As I put the spoon in my mouth my tongue was greeted by a pleasant explosion of citrus goodness, and his words of "It's great in fajitas" rang in my ears and burned itself into my mind (picture me standing with a sample spoon in my mouth and my eyes closed to maximize the lime flavor I was enjoying while a thought bubble appears over my left shoulder, and Oil Man's head in the thought bubble speaking in a haunting ghosty kind of way, "It's greeeaaat in fajiiiiiiitaaaaas..... ooooo...". Of course that's not what really happened but if I were making a film about this experience then that's how I would direct it.)

I bought the bottle of lime-flavored oil intending to give it to my dad for Christmas, but became so curious as to whether or not I could even MAKE fajitas that a few days later I decided that I'd make fajitas for my roommates. Then, hours later, I decided I'd make fajitas for whoever wanted to come and try them. Thus commenced Operation: Fajita. (Original, I know.)

So thursday night I rushed home from work and started cutting and chopping and cooking probably 10 lbs of chicken and onions and peppers [special thanks to my roommates and Erin (of the previously mentioned Amazing Race adventure) for helping clean the house and prepare the food.] Though my first try at using the oil almost had me burning the house down, I refined my method and ended up making some very good fajitas. About 15 friends came over to partake in the feast, and it seems they were well-received all around.

Friday was my work holiday party, so I "worked" for about an hour before I went over to help decorate. You see, I'm a member of something at my work called the "Bureau of Merriment," which essentially is the party-planning committee. They need one representative from each branch of the agency, and since my branch of the agency consists of me and my boss, I automatically got recruited as the one who has far more expendable time to do such things. I'm not arguing against this fact; I'm far less important than my boss is. But I'm also far less irresponsible than she is too, so it's probably better this way.
Our party consisted of a catered meal, a few games, and some feel-good stories from the different branches of the agency. One of the games was a white elephant gift exchange, and I've never seen such competition! Each person drew a number that told them which order they go in, and in each situation you could either open a new present, or steal someone else's. I successfully stole a 6 piece plyer set from someone else, and then anytime someone would consider taking them from me, I'd give them a pitiful look and tell them how much I needed them to keep my bike in working condition (which wasn't entirely true, but they bought it.) I was able to hold onto my tools, and now I'm excited to purchase myself a box in which to place them.

That's pretty much what I've been up to. Oh, I turn 26 on tuesday the 11th. It stings a little bit more than 25 did, but not much. It seems that for about 3 months before I turn any given age I prepare myself mentally to become that age, so when it actually happens it's not a huge transition. It seems like I've been 26 since September, really.
My apologies for the drawings. Especially the one that looks like a lemon-worshipping cult.