Sunday, March 1, 2015

February Hike


Yesterday after Paul and I and our best friend Muhammad went to the farmers market and then out to pizza, we wanted to do something to commemorate what a beautiful day it was. It was warm, sunny, and very unlike February. Despite Muhammad's aversion to anything involving a cardio workout, we made him go hiking. It was great! We climbed Mt. Pisgah. I've hiked around at Mt. Pisgah before, camped at Mt. Pisgah before, swam in the river at Mt. Pisgah before, but I've never gone all the way to the summit. It was quite the hike, and I'm sore already, but the views were worth it. Here's Muhammad sitting on a bench in the parking lot, trying to convince us the views were just fine from there and we needn't continue the hike.  


February was busy and went by really fast. I turned 23 this month! For some reason, 23 sounds much older to me than 22. We're two months into 2015. I graduated college in 2013. It seems like life is passing by more quickly than I had anticipated. But I also feel like I'm just discovering what I want in life, and I'm kind of an adult, and I have the ability and privilege to make some of those things happen. 


Can't pass up a cartwheel and handstand on top of a mountain.


Despite a lot of uncertainty that I'm experiencing in my postgraduate life, I have really certain friendships. I was bullied growing up, and I know what it's like to not have a single friend. So I take friendships seriously. I have some fantastic people in my life right now that I'm really grateful for. Shout out especially to Muhammad who I've known for almost a decade. He's the best friend you could ask for. 


Weird faces, and Muhammad on a bench part 2.


Moral of the story: I love my friends, I love being 23, I love frogs, I love Oregon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ceramics


I'm still obsessed with ceramics. Here are some things I've made recently. I've now used an entire 20 pound bag of clay! I spent an extra hour one day making this cat bowl with legs. If you can't quite tell in the picture, the glaze is gold and metallic. This little guy is so cute! I made him to put Q-tips in, which is working well. While I was taking these pictures, Buffy knocked him over, and stole a Q-tip from me. 


I also made a hand bowl to put jewelry in. It's slightly smaller than my own hand. Then I have this neti pot, which was a request Paul made. If you don't know, you fill a neti pot with hot salt water and then you pour it in one nostril and it comes out your other, and it clears your sinuses. We haven't tried it yet, and I'm half way terrified, but also half way excited that this is going to help my allergies and general sinus issues I've had since I was little.


Then my favorite two pieces! I have started following a lot of ceramic artists on Instagram, and there's this one lady in particular that makes cute/ugly face pots and they're pretty small and she sells them for $300 or more! And they sell out instantly! I really have no idea why! Being the overly confident person I am, I thought to myself, I can do that. So I made face pots! And I think mine are really cute. 


For each planter I make, I'm allowing myself to buy a plant. Paul and I went on Valentine's Day to a local garden center and spent a long time each picking out a plant that we felt represented us. Paul is the ficus tree, and I'm the weird yellow thing. Obviously. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cartwheels


Today the morning class I transcribe was cancelled, so Paul and I went on a hike instead. We got to the top of Mt. Baldy, and Paul went off to look at plants, I was taking pictures, and I decided to do some cartwheels. Paul came back and said something to the extent of, "I saw you doing cartwheels again and thought, my girlfriend is so cool." He's cute. That got me thinking about my compulsive cartwheels. If I'm in a cool location, I want to be doing cartwheels. It's my first instinct for pictures. So I decided to go back through my blog and find all of my cartwheels. What's funny is that they're all exactly the same posture, my legs in the same position. I can also only cartwheel on one side. I think with all of my yoga recently focused on handstands and headstands, my cartwheel has improved, but it's pretty much the same thing all the time. Here I am at Canon Beach during spring break two years ago.


Here I am in Florence this December.


Here I am in the Painted Hills last January.


And here I am today, on the top of Mt. Baldy. In addition to cartwheels, I also practiced my handstands, which I realize look extremely similar in these pictures. But on the left I'm holding a handstand and on the right I'm in the middle of a cartwheel. Yoga's been an important addition to my life. I spend most of my time being upside down, doing handstands, headstands, and different variations of wheel. It makes me feel really powerful. I like it especially because it is challenging. Yoga can be difficult in general, but I was a dancer for most of my life, so even if things are hard, they still come to me. But being upside down did not just come to me. I've been working on it almost every day since September. 


Paul and I have been spontaneous recently, and I've been trying to say yes to more things. It's really easy to stay inside and watch Netflix instead of doing something. I do that a lot. But two years out of college, with lots of friends already moved away and with the possibility of Paul and I moving away someday, I think it's really important to put time into relationships. To say yes when someone wants to hang out, even if you're tired, even if you'd rather watch another episode of Gilmore Girls. This goes for my friends, but for Paul as well. Paul is so wonderful and excited about everything. He always wants to go do things. I'm trying to say yes more often. Like today, I unexpectedly had the morning off, and had a few hours before I had to be on campus again. He suggested this short little hike (it took 40 minutes to the top and back with lots of breaks for pictures). I said no, at first, but I realized I had nothing to lose. I'd be back in time for my next shift, I love hiking, and it was a nice day. There was absolutely no reason for me not to go. So we went. 


The hike was very steep, but it was short and there were great views! Oregon is so beautiful! I'm stunned every time. We might not always live in Oregon, as Paul's been applying to grad school and jobs lately that are not in state, so I want to appreciate it as much as I can, even if we end up living here forever, because it's so amazing and I'm really lucky.


On another note, here's my bathroom! It's blue, has a clawfoot tub, and has lots of light. I took these pictures the other day to show off the bath board Paul made me. He's been working with wood a lot lately, and has been going into the craft center to make a barrel from scratch, which is a pretty big project, but he also made me this bath board, something I've been asking for forever, and it's so great! The other night I put my laptop on it and watched Netflix in the tub. Perfect.


Here are my favorite bath products. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap is a necessity in our house. We always have it and we use it for so many different things. Shea Moisture is a really amazing company doing some cool community outreach for women in Africa, and it's all natural and contains ingredients like shea butter, argan oil, and manuka honey. I have picky hair and my curls react badly to shampoos with sulfates in them. So these products have been amazing for me and making my curls extra curly. I got them when they were buy 1 get 1 free which was an awesome deal. I also have a candle and body wash Paul's mom got me for Christmas which are two of the best smelling things ever. And then I have a soap I felted. Felting soap is actually really easy. I made Paul a bunch of them a few years ago. 


Finally, I was searching through my Facebook and found these pictures of me at 16 or 17. Cartwheel is still exactly the same.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Making Things


I'll start this post with an awesome sunset that happened a week or so ago. It was a beautiful day, 60 degrees, and Paul and I went to go eat enchiladas and play frisbee at a park. I really liked that day because Paul and I made something really good out of something really small. Instead of just admiring the nice weather but not really doing anything about it, we spent an hour at the park just for the heck of it. I like that. It's a good start for how I want this year to go.


And what a year it's been so far. I work on campus as a transcriber and I have breaks between the classes I transcribe. In my spare time, I've been going to the Craft Center in the student union. I got a term pass, and I've been making the most of it. I've almost gone through a 20 pound bag of clay! I go at least three times a week, for sessions two hours or more, depending on how long my break between classes is. I have a lot of things there right now that are still getting fired, but this is my first batch of things that I've glazed! I love making things. It's very satisfying to create something with your own hands that you're actually going to use. That's why I love knitting so much, too. You get to do a craft, which is fun in itself, but at the end of the day, it's something useful. So far I've made a citrus juicer, two cat bowls, and a skull.  


I wanted something cuter than the old Nancy's yogurt containers we've been using for the cats' food and water bowls. Also, Joey has a flair for the dramatic, and will sometimes knock over the water bowl, just for fun, and then look at me like I've done something wrong. So I wanted to make something that she couldn't knock over.


Look at the glaze on that! It's so pretty up close.


I also made this skull, which I'm totally in love with. I'm a part of this awesome feminist art pen pal thing called Babes Send Things (check out @babessendthings on instagram if you want to take part next month!). The people in charge of it matched us up with a pen pal, and for this month, we sent that person mail, got to know each other, and then made each other something. I don't think I could have been paired with a better person. She's a funerary archaeologist, did her master's thesis work in Peru, and obviously loves bones. Perfect match! All my favorite things! So I made her this skull. It was supposed to be a luminary and the holes in the back weren't supposed to get clogged with glaze, but I think the thought is still there. I've had such a good time getting to know her and getting awesome stuff in the mail. She made me this amazing journal made of old medical illustrations, vintage pictures, and Mexican folk art. My favorite kind of stuff. I made her this skull because it's hard to be a lady in a traditionally male field. And as girls, we grow up being told that certain things aren't for us, especially science, especially bones and dead things. But I love science and bones and dead things, and in my life when I've met ladies who love these things too (talking to you Sam) it's turned out very well for me. 


I currently have eight more things at the Craft Center that I've already made and am waiting to glaze, so expect another update soon! I'm kind of obsessed with ceramics. It's very calming. I have a thousand more ideas for things to make but am worried about running out of room in my own life for them. I'm thinking of maybe maybe maybe opening an Etsy store? But for now, it's therapeutic being in the ceramics studio, so I'll keep going just for that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sahalie Falls











I usually have a lot to say, but I think these pictures speak for themselves. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Paul and I drove about an hour and a half out of Eugene to hike around Sahalie Falls. It was beautiful. Oregon is beautiful. Just check out those rainbows. We had a fantastic day. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Year's


I don't really have a plan for this blog post. It's a little about my cats, and a little about what I've been up to recently. First, the cats. This is Buffy. I feel like she doesn't get enough love (picture wise), but that's mainly because as beautiful as she is, she's not very photogenic. Joey is always rolling around, posing, and being dramatic. But Buffy does a lot of sleeping in positions that make her look like a big rock. She was attentive for these pictures because she wanted to attack the wrist strap on my camera! I'm the first one to admit it, but I'm crazy for my cats. I'm obsessed. I talk about them to people I hardly know. So get ready. 

We adopted Buffy last Memorial Day weekend. I saw her picture on the Humane Society website, and I knew she was the one. Even when we saw her in real life and she was a little grumpy, and the people there said she didn't really like other cats, I had this feeling she'd be a perfect playmate for Joey. I was right. She's big, clumsy, and pathetically affectionate. She likes butt scratches, being on top of you, and kneading her big paws. 


Our cats aren't very affectionate with each other, but I hope they might be in time. They definitely like each other. They'll sleep next to each other, and Buffy likes to lick Joey's face sometimes (if Joey lets her). But they love to play together. It's cat playing, so it mainly looks like they're fighting. Joey (always the instigator) will walk up to Buffy, paw her in the face, throw herself down on the ground belly up, and then Buffy tackles her. Joey will escape, run away, Buffy lumbers after her, tackles her again. Joey escapes, runs away, hits Buffy in the face, lies down on her back, and then Buffy pounces on her again. It's the same every single time. Joey instigates, waits to be tackled, and then lets it happen.  


That's probably enough cat gushing. On to beautiful things gushing! For Christmas, Paul and I had some gift cards to play with at Powell's in Portland. Among other things (mainly cookbooks) we bought this amazing Mexican cookbook. First of all, it's gorgeous. But secondly, Mexican food is my favorite food, and I'm so excited to have this 700 page masterpiece to play around with. Paul and I make tacos several times a week, something we picked up after coming back from Mexico last December. But I want to make more than tacos and the occasional enchiladas. I'm thinking I might "Julie and Julia" this book, at least the vegetarian dishes. Yes, I just used "Julie and Julia" as a verb. I want to go through the book, dish by dish, and make everything. And blog the process? One of my new years resolutions is to make an effort to blog more, especially everyday things, not just the big fun things. Also, for Christmas, Paul's mom got me this beautiful Portuguese speckled baking dish, which I took a picture of just because it's so beautiful. 


Finally I thought I'd end this post with another bit on new years resolutions. A big one for me is to be more mindful. Mindful of my body: what I'm putting in it, picking up cues it's giving me on how it's feeling, how I talk about it to myself and others. Mindful of myself: my privilege, how what I'm saying affects others. I'm also trying to be mindful about things that make me happy. This term I'm working more hours than I ever have before. So I'm taking time to do things for myself. I've been going to the ceramics center on campus almost every single day. It feels good to be creating. It gives my hands a nice break from all the typing I do as a transcriber.

 I'm also trying to do things that I like, even little things, and not worry about what others think. I've been doing yoga almost everyday since September and I've been documenting it all on instagram.  Is it annoying to all the people following me? I don't know. But it keeps me accountable and lets me see my progress, so I'm doing it for me. Now I'm doing handstands, headstands, all sorts of balances, and being upside down, things I thought would be impossible. I credit it all to taking time everyday to practice, and document it. And isn't it silly? That we worry about such little things, like what people will think of something posted on instagram? I have a lot of really intense views on feminism and body positivity and social justice and all sorts of things like that. I want big changes. I want to do big things. But I'm starting with little things. Like posting pictures of doing a headstand on instagram because it makes me feel proud of myself. 

Another thing that kind of relates is blogging. I feel like I get really self conscious taking pictures in public. But I don't want to not take a picture of something beautiful just because I'm embarrassed. That's what these last two pictures are about. The picture of the front window of Red Wagon Creamery and the lake at Cougar Hot Springs may seem like they have no connection to each other. But they were both pictures taken this month, they were both these perfect little moments I thought were beautiful, and I took the pictures even though I was in public, and people were watching. Here's to 2015. Here's to the little things that make us feel like we can tackle the bigger things.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

End of the Year


Long time no blog, but I have been busy. I've been a transcriber for 13 terms now at the UO, and this past term I worked double the hours I ever have in any other term. So I've been mildly overwhelmed, but well paid, and happy to be busy. In that time, my little sister completed her first half marathon and I was very proud.  


This term was really great. Paul finished his internship after a year and a half and really began working on his thesis. I had morning classes and a night class to transcribe, but always had at least an hour or two in the middle of the day to come home and eat lunch with Paul. I also read a ton, which was amazing. In classes, I transcribe pretty much word for word what the professor is saying, but if there was a quiz, or free time to work on group projects, I just got to sit in the back and read my book until the professor started to lecture again. Classes were two hours long, and quizzes don't take up that much time, but with transcribing six classes a week, most of them meeting twice a week, that time added up, and since I'm a fast reader, I got to read about a novel a week. My job is amazing. I don't choose the classes, but get assigned to whatever classes the students in need are taking. I'm not a student in the class, so I don't get credit, do homework, or take tests, but I do get to go to every class and transcribe the lecture, so I get paid essentially to learn things, and sometimes, read books.   


I transcribed 8 am classes all term, but it was worth it to see sunrises like this one. I thought I might interrupt the regularly scheduled program here to do a little review of the books I read in the last few months. Rae, whose blog I love, does book reviews and I check out a lot of books from the library on her recommendation. I'm pretty sure I'm missing at least one or two books that I read, but here are the ones I remember. 


Valencia - If you've read any Michelle Tea, you will be prepared for Valencia. If you haven't read Michelle Tea, I don't know how to prepare you for this. Her work is always semi-autobiographical, slightly stream of consciousness, graphic, and in my opinion, awesome. I saw her perform live and I love her and if you want to read anything of hers, maybe start with her column on xojane called Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea. Anyway, Valencia documents Michelle Tea's (she's both the author and the main character) journey as a broken hearted, permanently drunk lesbian after moving to San Francisco. 

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher - This is a non-fiction book documenting the life of Edward Curtis, who spent decades in the early 20th century photographing Native American culture. If you've ever seen a sepia-toned/black and white picture of a Native American, I bet you five dollars it's an Edward Curtis portrait. He was an uneducated, self taught man who wormed his way into the circle of people like Teddy Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan to create one of the greatest and most expansive anthropological studies of all time. More than learning about Edward Curtis's life, you learn about Native American culture (and its brutal decimation) and I can't even put into words how important that is. If you read any book I talk about here, read this one.

A Tale for the Time Being - This book was lovely. It goes back and forth between the diary of a suicidal Japanese teenager who's writing to document her Buddhist monk of a grandmother's life and the lady who finds the diary washed up on the coast in Canada, with some diary entries of a Kamikaze pilot scattered in there. So you're reading the diary entries as the narrator is reading them, and then the narrator sections (the lady who finds the diary on the shore) are all about the narrator's response to the diary so far. It's non-linear, beautifully written, has some elements of magical realism, and I wanted to read it again as soon as I finished it. I loved this book.

Through the Arc of the Rain Forest - I read this book years ago in an English class, loved it, forgot about it, and wanted to read it again. This book is pretty wacky, so I'll just write what the back of the book says here: "This freewheeling black comedy features a bizarre cast of characters, including a Japanese man with a ball floating six inches in front of his head, an American CEO with three arms, and a Brazilian peasant who discovers the art of healing by tickling one's earlobe with a feather. By the end of this hilarious tale, they have risen to the heights of wealth and fame, before arriving at disasters -both personal and ecological- that destroy the rain forest and all the birds of Brazil." This is a satirical, ecologically minded novel, heavy on the magical realism, and if you're up for it, it's awesome.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - This book kept showing up on "books you should read" lists so when I saw it at a garage sale for ten cents, I bought it. It's from the perspective of a boy with autism as he tries to figure out who killed his neighbor's dog and ends up figuring out a lot more about his family and the secrets they hide from him because of his autism along the way. This book is being turned into a play, which should be interesting, but honestly I thought it was a bit "meh." I didn't dislike it at all, but I also didn't really think it was great either.      

Mockingjay - I wanted to read this before the movie came out. I've read lots of horrible reviews of this book, about how it's a terrible conclusion to the trilogy, about how Suzanne Collins ran out of ideas, blah, blah, blah. I see that. But I also didn't mind it. I thought that it was a logical conclusion to the series. It's a little frustrating how passive Katniss is, but in the book, Katniss is frustrated about how passive she is too. I don't really have anything else to say.

Bonk - Mary Roach writes these really great non-fiction books about weird stuff. I read Stiff, which is her book all about the history of what science does with corpses, and this book is all about the history of research on human sexual response. As usual with Mary Roach, it's really really funny and interesting, but if you're at all squeamish, don't even bother. 

White Oleander - If you've ever taken a creative writing class, you know that one person who just thought they were so great, but in reality they were cliche and used lots of big words and adjectives to disguise from the fact that they were horrible at writing? That's this book. It's from the perspective of a teenage girl going through the foster care system (which should be interesting) but every other sentence is a simile or metaphor and you have to read through eight obnoxious adjectives just to get to the point. I love poetic prose. If you want a beautiful and well written novel that reads like poetry, read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and skip this "fiction 101" crap.  


And now back to the blog! Yesterday, feeling a little spontaneous, Paul and I drove our friend Sam out to the coast. Despite being in the middle of December, it wasn't too cold. We talked, ate car snacks, did cartwheels and handstands, and searched for tide pools.



The Oregon coast is beautiful. We had the whole beach to ourselves.


Before/after.


While exploring the tide pools, there was this hole in the rocks that the tide would periodically burst through and create this big geyser effect. I caught a picture of Paul and Sam getting absolutely soaked. They were so thrilled. It was very thrilling to watch. But I was glad to be dry. The water bursts before this one were significantly smaller, so I don't think either one of them anticipated getting that wet. This beach trip was awesome. Other awesome things: eggnog in my coffee, the scarf I'm knitting, my cats, Serial, Gilmore Girls.