Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some neighbors.

As I mentioned in another post, I've started walking with my friend, and neighbor, Urme. At first, I felt really lame when I told people I was "going walking" because it makes me feel like a 35 year old mother of three, but after some analysis and careful calculations, I've finally realized that I hate running and it really hurts my knees and I don't want to do it anymore. See Table 1.

Table 1.


Do you like activity?

Does activity cause you physical pain?







So, I've chosen to adhere to my scientific findings and set aside my pride to become a walker. Though I may not feel as "cool," I have met a lot more people while walking than I did while running. Previously, I had not met many of my neighbors. Maybe because I'm in grad school and I work all the time, but probably because I used to run and would obviously run so fast that no one could even get a word in before I was at the next block. It was like talking to The Flash, except there was less lightning (figure 4).

Figure 4. The Flash, in all of his lightning and spandex glory.

So anyway, the first couple I met as I ventured into the wild blue yonder live across the street from me. They were planting mums in their front yard. Correction: They were planting TONS of mums in their front yard. I mean, they already had a lot of mums planted and there were still at least 6 pots waiting to enter the ground. When I walked by, I said "hello" and the wife just said: "Hello there! I don't know where we're going to plant all of these flowers!" And since I didn't know where she was going to plant them either, I just responded by telling her it doesn't matter where she puts them because her yard is beautiful already. They also have this incredible copper sprinkler that spins and shoots water out the edges. And though that description sounds like something all sprinklers do, it isn't. See figure 5.
Figure 5. Copper sprinklers that changed my life.

Now that you understand how awesome they are, I'll tell you that they have probably made my favorite things list, coming in close behind raindrops on roses and right before cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels. Actually, I really just love spinning things. Like spinning stools, tops, fans, pinwheels, merry-go-rounds (the kinds at parks, not the kinds with horses and random animals to ride), and lazy susans. While we're on the topic of lazy susans, I would just like to say that the most incredible lazy susan I have ever laid eyes on is in Hunan's, a chinese restaurant in Jeff City. Yes, that was a bold statement but I'm sticking to it. It sits on a huge, round, 12 person table and spins with amazing ease. Luckily, my family is large so we get to use it often. However, a large family+lazy susan also means that we share food, which is fine with me, except everyone always likes my dish the best, because it is the best. I could live on chicken and broccoli from Hunan's. And I wish I were joking. My mom is the worst about eating my chicken and broccoli because she always orders the Happy Family (because she likes the name) and no one likes the Happy Family (because it's gross).

Anyway, my walk didn't end there. And it would be really sad and pathetic if it did. After meeting up with Urme, we continued our walk through the neighborhoods of Columbia. We saw lots of things, like a squished snake in the road, a dead frog and the cutest little girl I've ever met. Well, maybe not ever, but she was up there. Anyway, when we walked by, she immediately held up a book about guinea pigs and yelled:
Guinea pig girl: Look how long this guinea pig's hair is!
Julie: Wow! That looks like a good book! Do you have a guinea pig?
GPG: No. I just like them.
Urme: Do you want to know a cool fact about guinea pigs? They are one of the only animals that will eat and eat and eat and never stop.
(Urme said this and GPG just stared blankly at her. Apparently, she didn't care about that guinea pig fact...)
Julie: What do guinea pigs like to eat?
GPG: They will eat any kind of vegetable, like carrots, lettuce, probably spinach.
Urme: That sounds like healthy eating. Do you like to eat healthy food?
GPG: ...and they like tomatoes.
Julie: Man, guinea pigs are so cool!
Urme: See you later!

We started walking away and after we passed a few houses, we heard a small voice yelling: "They also like to eat celery!" so we turned around to see her holding up the book, like we might be able to see the picture. So Urme yelled back: "That's so cool!" and we kept walking for a few feet and heard the small voice again, yelling: "...and broccoli!" so I replied: "Broccoli's my favorite food!" I pretty sure we made a new best friend.

Auction folk.

Since I'm not very good at liking football, I traded my ticket to yesterday's game for a trip to rural Missouri. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Tigers and I'd do almost anything to hear the Missouri Waltz, but I don't love:
-Waiting in an enormous mob of people to enter the gates to the stadium, or
-Standing for 3 hours because my seats are in the student section and that's how the student section works.

I'd much rather be with Grammy at an estate auction in Gerald, MO. I mean, what's better than dirt roads, roast beef sandwiches and priceless treasures for as far as the eye can see? Nothing. When Mom, Dad, Rachel and I pulled up, we parked and started the long trek toward the sounds of the auctioneers. I've always known that auctions were pretty intense in rural Missouri, but I guess I momentarily forgot until we literally had to park a half-mile away. No, that's not really that far, but when you compare the number of people in the area to the number of cars at the auction and then add in the fact that we usually get front-row parking everywhere we've ever gone, then half of a mile is actually quite a hike. It's all in the way you look at it.

Anyway, yesterday was the auction of a sweet lady named Clara who used to make all the quilt-tops for the quilters at Grammy's church. Thus, this was a big day for all the quilters in the area because Clara had trailer-loads of fabric in all shapes and sizes. There were trash bags filled with random scraps of fabric and people were paying upwards of $60 for them! That's where we found Grammy. By the trailer-o-scraps, directly in front of the auctioneer and let me tell you what, she had her auction face on and she meant business. Rachel and I were going to stand by her, so we kept trying to get her attention, but she was SO into the sale that she didn't see us signaling to her. In her defense, however, we couldn't signal too boisterously because if you wave your hand or make any quick movemen
ts, the auctioneers think your bidding on something, and we all know I have nothing to do with a trash bag of fabric. One time, at the Thanksgiving Dinner quilt auction at Grammy and Papa's church, I was just sitting there talking with my friends and I started playing with my hair and they thought that I was bidding. Luckily, someone else really wanted that quilted pillow or I would be up one pillow and down $40.

Anyway, Grammy finally saw us and after she organized the sale items in the truck bed, we went to grab some lunch at the food stand. As a side note, Grammy always organizes things around her. No, she doesn't work for the auctioneering company, but she still likes to make sure all the bags are lined up, the quilts are folded correctly, and the cups are categorized. Ok, back to lunch. Everyone who knows of my eating habits (and my tend
ency to avoid most meats and everything with a questionable texture) will be shocked to hear what I had, and enjoyed, for lunch. It was a roast beef sandwich! I know. This is a big step for me. I don't know how they did it, but they:
1) Turned the potentially tough and fatty roast beef into a texture that resembled tuna from a can. Think roast beef meets blender, and though that sounds disgusting, it eliminates the chance one might have to bite into a chunk of chewy fat particl
2) Provided wonderful condiments to accompany the roast beef: onions, pickles and ketchup, all three of which are close to my heart. Though I must say, ketchup is closer than the others. I could eat, and do eat, ketchup on almost anything. Honestly, I thought everyone ate as much ketchup as I do, but apparently most people only eat ketchup with their burgers and their fries, making me the "weird one" for putting ketchup on my turkey sandwiches, grilled cheese, fish, chicken, baked potatoes, chips, vegetables, and bread, to name a few.

In conclusion, this sandwich changed my life. When we finished eating, we headed back toward the auction. Actually, we hadn't really finished eating, but Grammy heard them start auctioning some quilt tops that she really wanted, so she frantically handed me her water and her previous purchases and ran back toward the mounds of fabric. Unfortunately, she didn't get the quilt top she wanted, but she did get two baby quilts that she is apparently saving for when one of her grandchildren has a baby. I vote Andy goes first because he's the oldest.

Another thing I love about auctions is that being at an auction automatically makes you friends with everyone there. If you're standing near the auction ta
ble looking at something, people will just come up and talk to you about it, oftentimes telling you it's entire history. Lots of auction-goers bring these auction books where they look up all the items for sale to determine their value, thus, allowing them to find wonderful treasures in the form of tiny glass figurines, creepy 80 year-old dolls, and colored glass butter dishes (figure 3).
Figure 3. Glass snail, found at auctions. Every bookshelf needs one and it may be worth millions.

It's like we're in a secret Auction-Folk Club that only auction-goers know about and you automatically become a member when you step foot on the premises. And it's awesome because, once again, I like it when people come up and talk to me. I also like when people wave at me when they're driving; It makes me feel like the local I wish I were. However, I recently realized that not everyone waves to drivers like I do. I mean, living in rural Missouri for a year brainwashed me into automatically waving at passers-by, but that is not how things go down in Columbia, MO. The other day I was walking downtown with my friend, Urme, and this car drove by and honked at us. Well, actually, she honked at Urme because she knew Urme, but the second I heard that honk, I just started waving. Why do I do that?! It's like Pavlov and his dog. I have been classically conditioned to start frantically waving the instant I hear a car horn or make eye-contact with a driver, which, once again, classifies me as the "weird one." Oh well. There was this little girl at the auction that had long blonde pigtails, round glasses and a shirt that said: "It's more fun to be the weird one" and I must say, I agree.

After the auction, we headed back to Owensville to see Papa, who, when I asked him why he wasn't at the auction, pretended that he lost track of time and "accidentally" missed it. I know the truth: he's not a fan of auctions. For dinner we went to Kline's in Rosebud, MO and enjoyed the personalized catfish special, which means that instead of ordering what was on the board (fried catfish with fries, cole slaw and hushpuppies) we ordered grilled catfish with a baked potato, green beans and a roll. You know you're in a small town when you can completely change the special and no one cares.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hello, Stranger.

For some reason, random people tend to just come up and talk to me. I don't know why. Maybe I look like a nice person? Maybe I look like I need friends? Maybe I look like I have all the answers? Yeah, that's probably it. I mean, it's a good thing that I like people and I like talking because that would be one big unfortunate mess if I were some antisocial hermit. I guess if I were an antisocial hermit I wouldn't be out in society anyway, so people couldn't talk to me if they wanted to. I would just sit in my underground home until my skin became completely translucent. I would probably have a pet Mediterranean Gecko because:
1) They are also translucent! And my mom always tells me that people get pets that look like them/begin to look like their pets, so the translucent gecko would fit that requirement perfectly. One time I wanted to get a Shar Pei, because I think they are one of the cutest creatures on the entire planet, but Mom said "no" because she didn't want people to think we look wrinkly.
2) I really like geckos. My older brother, Andy, used to have one when we were little and it changed my life forever. It was small and brownish purplish green and had these cute little suction cup toes. It was pretty much the coolest thing in the world from the time I was in about 3rd grade to the time it bit my finger and wouldn't let go. My Mediterranean gecko wouldn't bite though. It would just suction cup itself to me.
Anyway, one time, I was walking across campus and Habitat for Humanity was doing their annual fundraiser where they sleep in boxes outside the library for a week. Isn't that a wonderful idea for a fundraiser?! Anyway, I was walking by the cardboard houses and this kid on a bike yells to me and asks me: "WHAT'S WITH ALL THE BOXES?" The caps lock indicates that he was, in fact, yelling. I can't remember, but I suppose he must have had his iPod in because I don't know why else he would have been yelling to me. I guess he was like 8 feet away when he started yelling, so maybe he just thought he was further. But that's not the point of this story. The point is, he must have thought I knew a lot about cardboard or something because I was one of approximately 194 people walking in his direct vicinity.
I also tend to smile a lot, which could be another factor to consider when wondering why people come and talk to me. I smile when I'm walking, and when I'm sitting, and when I'm in class and when I'm in my room by myself. I like to think my teachers like it when I smile in class. If you're wondering, I'm that girl in the second row that smiles and nods in agreement during lectures. I mean, smiling is good, right? I'm not that weird girl who smiles all the time, right? Wouldn't it be crazy to be recognized all over campus as that girl who smiles all the time? I mean, I guess it would be crazy to be recognized all over campus for anything, like that kid who never wears shoes or that girl with the Hello Kitty bicycle or that girl with the pink moped and matching pink helmet. On a side note, "helmet" is one of those words that I always, without a doubt, spell incorrectly. Not cool. Maybe I should stick a sticky note on my computer that says "Helmet is NOT spelled H-E-L-M-U-T." When I was in 5th grade, I won my school spelling bee. My word was "dolphin" and I beat a 6th grader and I got a dictionary signed by the principal as my prize. I'm just lucky I didn't get the word "helmet" because I would most definitely own one less dictionary. Then I wouldn't be smiling. Spelling is serious business. Anyway, the other day, I was sitting in a coffee shop doing some homework and smiling, and this guy walking by looked at me, looked away, and then came over and said: "Do I know you?" I didn't know him, so I told him: "No, I don't think so." And he responded: "Oh, I thought I might know you because you were smiling." I didn't know him, but I guess I need to be careful who I smile at so I don't confuse anyone else.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Man in the Parking Garage.

Tonight I decided to exercise. I mean, I am getting my masters in Public Health, so I should probably follow my own advice and live a healthy lifestyle. Plus, I like to exercise because I get to listen to music; I have to deprive myself of music throughout the day because if I listen to music while I study, I tend to start singing and stop reading. On a side note, this was my first trip to the rec center this year and I must say it was quite overwhelming. I mean, really, I graduated from undergrad a year and a half ago and when I walked into the cardio room today, there were billions of new machines with thousands of buttons and touch-screens and televisions. I don't know about you, but technology is passing me by. So, after staring at the treadmill for a while, I had to ask this girl next to me how to turn it on. She just looked at me and said, "You just have to push the "Quick Start" button." Of course that's all I have to do. Why didn't I think of that? Oh, because I apparently can't read.

I just get so distracted and nervous when there are that many buttons for me to push! Honestly, if I had three wishes, this would be in my top ten: That I didn't have to check my email, or talk on the phone, or text people. I would be like this (figure 2):

Figure 2. A picture of pure joy.

For example, at this very moment I can't get the first paragraphs in this blog to stop being centered and I can't figure out how to make the font size the same. Why is this paragraph smaller than the rest? I have no idea. Technology hates me. What did I ever do to it?? I think it can sense my fear and intimidation so it just decides to mess with me. It must know that I would rather be writing on a piece of paper with a #2 pencil...

I do have one good thing to say about technology, however. One time I was on an airplane and I was sitting next to a man who was mute and he had an iPhone. So what? Almost everyone has an iPhone now. Well, with that iPhone, he would write down what he wanted to say, for example his drink order, and would just show it to the stewardess. What a wonderful use of technology!

Anyway, my technological skills (or lack thereof) are not the point of this blog.
So, I exercised today and when I drove to campus and turned into the parking garage, I found people walking every which-way. To be more specific, they were walking right in front of my car and their lives flashed before my eyes (and probably theirs as well) for a second before I hit the brakes. Yes, Mizzou is a "pedestrian campus," but I would still advise people not to walk in the middle of the road. Anyway, I was pretty frazzled at the moment and I don't know what I would have done if the man walking in the middle of the road right in front of my car weren't so happy. He was probably 65 or 70 years old and was the epitome of pure happiness. In fact, take the picture in Figure 2 and multiply it by 18 and you will get the happiness of this fellow. He walked by my car, waved at me and went on his jolly way. I want to be his friend. His best friend.