28 April 2010

Two years.

Has it been that long?

Two years ago, I was living in a little 700-square-foot apartment in Merriam Park a block away from O'Gara's with a circus performer.
Two years ago, I was working a hateful job at an embroidery shop, doing everything short of the finances and the embroidery itself - the work of two or three people - and was barely making ends meet.
Two years ago, I had lost faith in radio, and listened exclusively to my iPod or CDs.
Two years ago, I drove a PT Cruiser automatic with a 6-CD changer and a moon roof.

Two years ago, my world was shaken by the emotional earthquake that was losing my grandmother.  And I'm still feeling the aftershocks.

Since then, I've been trying so hard to live the life she'd have wanted me to live.  I've been doing things I hope she's proud of and, well, some other things I hope she looks the other way on.
Today, I live in a 3-bedroom apartment with a couple and their 6-month-old daughter.  I'm able to see my Tiny Roommate grow and change incrementally every day.  And I've seen her, cradled by her grandmother, in one of the chairs that used to belong to mine.
Today, I'm working as a "temporary employee" at a company I've been at for over a year now.  It's the longest I've stayed in one place.  The people here are phenomenal, and sometimes that's half the battle.  The other half is the work itself - it's constantly changing and, therefore, never boring.
Today, I listen to MPR 89.3, The Current.  Alternative music with a local bent to it, and completely supported by member contributions.  Every shred of faith in radio I had lost was returned the day I discovered The Current.
Today, I drive a Jeep Wrangler manual with crank windows, manual locks, and both a hard top and a soft top (or I can go topless).  I learned how to drive a manual, and listening to the Current more than replaces the CD changer.

Today, I'm still feeling the aftershocks.
It's a big year in my family, with my brother graduating from high school and my sister getting married.  My cousin Kyle just had his first communion as well.  There's a lot going on that she's not here for.  (And yeah, part of me wanted to end that sentence with "that she's missing," but that's hardly fair at all.)
The one scenario my sister and I keep playing over and over is Grandma, up in the Great Beyond, with her sister-in-law, Rose.  Grandma and Aunt Rose passed away about a month apart, and, having married brothers, were pretty close.  Rose's grandchild is getting married on the same day as my sister.  I can only imagine the hijinks that will ensue up Yonder and, having seen the two of them at weddings before, I can only hope that there's cab drivers there, too.

26 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 23: The Bard (though I'm rolling late on this one!)

This week's Friday 5 honors Shakespeare's birthday! Fun for me because of all those collegiate-level courses... and my "Shakespeare's Contemporaries" seminar. You know, the one that gives you the major? That one.
Here we go!

1) In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lysander says,
“Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth…”
How has this proven (or not proven) to be the case in your life?
It never does.  In relationships, and even with the things I love to do.  Take sewing.  When I'm working on a project, I'll get so entranced in it that I'll forget to eat, or stay up until 4 in the morning fixing a mistake I made at 2am.  It's a battlefield.  But seeing that completed project, and getting to see (or not!) the life it has after me... that's love.  And it's not easy.

2) In Hamlet, the title character says, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” Who in your life has proven this not to be true? And if you’re willing to share, who in your life has proven this to be completely true?
Oh man, easy: I witnessed my friend, Kathy, give birth to her daughter, Illyanna.  The only drug she had was pitocin, which is a synthetic hormone.  No painkillers.  And twenty-six hours of labor.  Ain't nothin' frail about that.
As for someone who has proven it to be true... I'm not going to answer that one.

3) In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pistol says,
“Why then the world’s mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.”
Ignoring the possible sexual meaning here, how do you feel about oysters?
Wow, yeah, that is dirty.
I love oysters, actually.  It kind of freaks me out how much I like them.  But between my ever-present love of seafood, and my dad's recent turn toward it, we've definitely split an oyster bar at one of the restaurants around here.  I'd love to do it again.  Damn, that was good.

4) In The Merchant of Venice, Lorenzo says,
“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.”
Do you agree, and have you known anyone who seemed to be completely unmoved by any kind of music?
I agree with my whole heart, and cannot abide by people who do not have wide-ranging and ever-changing tastes in music.  Those people bother me, and I don't really associate with them.

5) Is Shakespeare overrated, or is he truly the western world’s greatest writer?
This isn't an either/or question, really.  Yes, I think Shakespeare is a tad bit overrated, and no, he's not the western world's greatest writer.  I think that the fact that Shakespeare overshadows his contemporaries isn't fair.  Yeah, he did a lot more writing than most of them, but there are other good plays and written works from that period.  He's not the greatest writer in the western world, either, because other writers have had different impacts and affect people differently.

23 April 2010

Events Roundup: Kick off Springtime and Support Your Local!

We've got a big weekend ahead of us here in Minnesota's capital city of St. Paul, and a lot of events that won't take more than a bus ride or a choice parking space and a good pair of sneakers to visit.  Here we go!

Friday, 23 April, from 6-10pm
Saturday, 24 April, from noon-8pm
Sunday, 25 April, from noon-5pm
This tour of the Lowertown area of St. Paul covers three of my favorite things about St. Paul: the access to public art, free shuttle rides, and cool old buildings and spaces.  It's a fantastic opportunity to meet local artists and see where they work, what they do, and how they do it.  Kudos to all of the artists to have opened up their studios to any and all who come by - I'll try to stop by this Saturday or Sunday!

Saturdays 6-11am
Sundays 8am-1pm
The St. Paul Farmer's Market opens this Saturday, 24 April, for their 2010 season!  They'll be open until the end of November.  Hey - if you're already in Lowertown for the Art Crawl, check it out!  Grab a bag of fresh-from-the-garden produce and head into a warehouse to check it out.  There's also great people-watching, a good selection of produce and fresh flowers, and occasionally street musicians and performers.
Check out the website for more locations and dates.  Farmer's markets are a great way to support the local economy, and stay a little more green.  Buying local cuts down on shipping and production costs.  And it's good for you, too.

Saturday 24 April, 1-6pm at The Bottling House
I know I was highlighting St. Paul, but don't be afraid of the twin across the river.  On Saturday in Minneapolis, MNfashion Week is sponsoring the Alter/Nation event, promoting the creative reuse of garments otherwise thrown away or forgotten in the back of the closet.  CounterCouture hosts, along with Ever After Gowns, Anthem Heart, Yelp, taj salon & spa, Je Ne Regrette Rien and I’ve Got Your Style, with the help of volunteers.
The event includes, but is not limited to, a clothing swap, formal dress donation, on-site tailoring and alterations, fashion shows, live screen printing, and even hair and make-up.  Check out the link (above) for more info on the Facebook event page!

MNfashion Week is going strong!
Check out  the various event continuing through this weekend, culminating in Christopher Straub's premiere of his new collection at the St. Paul Hotel on Sunday night.  (Yes, the Chris Staub from Project Runway - he's local!)

At any rate, even if it's raining, there's plenty to do!  So go out, explore the capital and its twin, and support your local!

by Maggie
(cross-posted in Maggie's Etsy team blog, HandmadeMN)

22 April 2010

Celebrating Earth Day - Do You Have the Skills?

I was excited when, a few years ago, the Discovery Channel created "Planet Green." It's a wonderful channel with a lot of good ideas, and a pretty comprehensive website. I found the article "99 Skills for an Eco-Friendly DIY Lifestyle" to be particularily interesting, especially since I already do a lot of these things myself!

Here's some tips of my own based on Planet Green's list:

16. Have a repertoire of vegetarian recipes you can use for various occasions.
For lunch today, I had tabouli, a wonderful Mediterranean dish that's easy and cheap to make, and delicious to eat.
2 c bulgur wheat and 2 c water - saturate until it's done.
Add: chopped bundle of parsley, 1 cucumber, 1 tomato, a couple of tablespoons of lemon and a tablespoon or so of oil. You can also add mint or black pepper depending on how you like the taste. It's good as a salad, or on pita bread, and it's 100% veg and diabetic friendly - no meat, and bulgur has a low glycemic index.

28. Sew well enough to make your own clothing and reusable shopping bags.
Can do! As I said in an earlier post, I am endeavoring this year to buy as few new pieces of clothing as possible, and instead try to recycle what I have or buy second-hand. Though, I'll admit, I caved and bought a Woot Shirt last week.

44. Find what you need by bartering, or using CraigsList, eBay, and thrift stores.
I'm a big fan of this method of furnishing my apartment. In fact, all of my furniture is either inherited, a craigslist or garage sale find, or salvaged from the trash. And you know what they say about one person's trash.

53. Plant a garden for your climate
This one's a big deal here in Minnesota. The growing season here is pretty short. I also have the added difficulty of living in an apartment with no yard to speak of. However, my roommmates and I have plans in place for an apartment garden, where we'll grow herbs in old milk cartons. Just like elementary school.

69. Know how to use herbs and natural remedies to treat common illnesses.
Not enough people know how to do this right, and it bugs me. Yeah, you can go out and spend all your money on Tylenol Cough and Cold and Excedrin Migraine, but here's a thought: read the labels. Understand them. Tylenol and Excedrin have the same main active ingredient - acetaminophen. The only difference is the side stuff. Tylenol PM is acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, which is the active ingredient of Benadryl. Excedrin is usually acetaminophen and caffeine.  Just knowing that can help cut down on the number of pill bottles in the cupboard, the danger of combining meds and overdosing, and the tendancy to spend too much on those tiny little bottles.
In terms of natural remedies, ginger can be used to treat upset stomachs.
Coffee and other foods with natural caffeine can help to treat headaches.
Honey can treat pink eye.

74-78 are Transportation Skills.
One thing I'd definitely add to this is "Utilize public transportation."  Here in the Twin Cities, Metro Transit does a pretty good job of making sure folks can get to one area from another.  It is possible now to get from the Mall of America to Elk River by train, with one transfer from the Hiawatha LRT to the North Star at Target Field. I might just do it for the hell of it one of these days.
While they don't yet have an app for the iPhone or Android market, the website's pretty comprehensive, and they stay on top of the schedules.

85-99 are Conservation Skills.
Embrace Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is really what these amount to.  If you don't have to create garbage, don't.  If you do, create as little as possible.  And if you have to throw something away, know how.  Old TVs, coumputers and batteries have special disposal places and methods.  Recycle bins aren't just meant for the kitchen - those boxes that toothpaste comes in and empty toilet paper rolls are paper recyclables.  Sort accordingly.

Happy Earth Day!

Coming soon: A preview post of weekend events around St. Paul and possibly Minneapolis, highlighting springtime and staying green!

16 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 16: Faces

It's time for this week's Friday 5!

1) How’s your poker face?
Terrible. I can come up with elaborate deceptions, but when it comes to little things like that... I can't seem to hide it. Like when I think of a really good joke. I typically have to tell it twice because I laugh the whole first time.

2) When were you last red-faced?
Angry? Embarrassed? Probably yesterday. Had a bad day yesterday, got angry, and I was in my car and hot, so that could also have been a contribution.

3) When will it be time for you to face the music?
When I get to a point where I'm able to pay all of my bills instead of picking and choosing all the time.

4) What’s an issue about which you’ve done an about-face?
Capital punishment. I used to be whole-hock against it, but as I've gotten older, I can see the merit.

5) Who’s overdue for some face-time with you?
Mr. Ware Carlton-Ford. I haven't seen him since, like, last decade, and due to not having the money for gas, I haven't been able to make it down to Illinois, either.

There it is - another week, another 5.

I'll be posting every day next week with reduce, reuse and recycle entries for Earth Day! So many cool ideas, so little time.

09 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 9: Multimedia

This week's topic is multimedia and, after looking at the questions, I think they mean in the traditional sense - music, movies, the paper, TV and the radio. All topics I'm all about.

1) What Rolling Stones song best summarizes the week you just had?
Hmm. Good one. Because I did have a birthday this week, and it's been a very productive and social week. Hmm.
Probably "Shattered" because it's catchy.

2) What movie reminds you most of your childhood?
Definitely "The Little Mermaid" or "Hook."

3) What part of the newspaper do you never (or almost never) read?
The Classified section or, honestly, the Front Page. I typically skip right on ahead to Local.

4) What television show is a lot better than you thought it would be?
Glee. I thought it looked like another stupid teeny-bopper show, but now I'm so hooked on it it's kind of ridiculous.

5) What station is the radio nearest you set on at this moment?
Thankfully, 89.3 The Current from MPR. Thanks again for the radio, Mom!

There you have it - another week, another 5!

06 April 2010

Two bits!

Today is my 25th birthday. Feels like a regular day, save for the free eatings and the fresh flowers on my desk from my dad. But yeah - another year has passed since my birth.

To commemorate this fact, I'm putting together a playlist.
25 songs, one from each year since I've been born.
Let these songs reflect my beautiful me-ness.

1985 - "How Soon is Now?", The Smiths
1986 - "Danger Zone", Kenny Loggins
1987 - "The Way You Make Me Feel", Michael Jackson
1988 - "Where is My Mind?", The Pixies
1989 - "And So It Goes", Billy Joel
1990 - "Birdhouse in Your Soul", They Might Be Giants
1991 - "Under the Bridge", Red Hot Chili Peppers
1992 - "To Be With You", Mr. Big
1993 - "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", The Proclaimers
1994 - "Undone (The Sweater Song)", Weezer
1995 - "You Oughtta Know", Alanis Morissette
1996 - "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)", LeAnn Rimes
1997 - "Crazy Game of Poker", O.A.R
1998 - "Tainted Love", Johnny Clueless (cover)
1999 - "She's So High", Tal Bachman
2000 - "Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)", *NSync Featuring Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes
2001 - "One Step Closer", Linkin Park (AKA the "shut up" song)
2002 - "Dreaming Of You", The Coral
2003 - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl", Jet
2004 - "Hey Ya!", OutKast
2005 - "Sex at Six", The Profits
2006 - "Dreaming With a Broken Heart", John Mayer
2007 - "Not Ready to Make Nice", Dixie Chicks
2008 - "If It Kills Me", Jason Mraz
2009 - "The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo", Lucero
2010 - "Written in Reverse", Spoon

02 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 2: Baskets

This week's Friday 5 is in honor of this weekend's festivities, including, but not limited to, Easter. I'm also stoked about the Twins debut at Target Field, and the wonderful picnic weather! What's more fitting than a Friday 5 about baskets?

1) What is your laundry basket like?
Which one? I have 3 - one is from IKEA, and it's abused, ripped, and non-functioning for the time being. Then I have a tall one and a short and wide one filled with clean laundry and dirty laundry, respectively.

2) What in your life is threatening to go to hell in a handbasket?
Oh man, what isn't? Most of all, probably my financial situation. I owe a LOT to my student loans, I'm paying off a car, and I've been living paycheck-to-paycheck for like three years. It kind of blows, and any period of unemployment hurts me for MONTHS, but I'm working on it.

3) What was the occasion for your receiving your last gift basket, and what was in it?
My cousin, Kyle, got me one of those awesome red apple baskets full of fruit for Christmas. I think I'm going to turn it into incidental yarn storage. It's a really cute basket!

4) When could you last have been described as a basket case?
Um... only always.

5) How’s your bread basket?
Mmmm... hungry probably. According to the game of Operation, your bread basket's your belly, right? Mine's still got some winter weight on it, but I'm working on that.

So there it is - another week, another 5.

Coming next week! I turn 25, Easter recap, and a "how I made my own portfolio" tutorial. And Booth and Bones finally make out. I hope.