Friday, June 25, 2010

on birth

Remember last week when I said I was going to write something on superheroes?  Yeah, that was a lie.  This week, however, I have caught up with Sunday Scribblings.  "The topic is birth?" I thought disappointedly when I saw the prompt. "Is there anyone who isn't trying to convince me to have a baby?"

(Although I do feel justified in buying the occasional, exceptionally adorable baby clothing item now that I'm married, there is no bun in the oven, no pea in the pod, and no other clever food-related euphemism cooking in my kitchen.)

Babies are an interesting bunch.  I don't have one, and I don't remember being one, and I don't know one that can speak very intelligently, so all my experience is speculation--but how weird it must be to be a baby!  Whenever movies portray the thoughts of a wee one, the narrative is always in full sentences and coherent statements, as if the baby has the thoughts of an adult but no way to convey them.  It's pretty obvious that this isn't true, but as hard as I try, I can't imagine living in that state of not knowing--not knowing how to speak, not knowing how to formulate a thought, not knowing how to keep food in your mouth.  When we're born, I think it's safe to say that we have no knowledge, no recollection, because we have no earthly experiences to know or recall.  In its very basic and original meaning--the appearance of a brand-new being--"birth" entails a complete lack of intellectual past (at least in a mortal sense). 

As you all know, because I am the product of years immersed in the study of the English language, I like words.  I am a Scrabble-playing, thesaurus-using nerd, and it's interesting to me the way in which we use the word "birth."  When a style of thought comes back around, we use it (e.g., "the rebirth of classicism").  When someone is spiritually converted, we use it (e.g., "born-again Christian").  However, even if something is new or transformed or cleaned, it can't really be birthed again, because being new or transformed or cleaned is relative to a state in which it was before.  Therefore, its new existence is based on past thoughts and mortal experiences to draw from, which influences the new state and is arguably different from the product of a experience-less birth in nature. 

"Katie, this is all very dull," you're thinking. "Is there a point here?"

Probably not.  Or, if there is, I haven't had the jolt of inspiration that will lead me to it.  Isn't it interesting, though, how we as a society are so inspired by "re-births" or "new beginnings"?  You really can't be re-born, or start over, but you can certainly change--which is what the process entails, but not what people call it.  Perhaps the word "birth" seems more final than "progression," but it also seems more idealistic and more sudden, which is probably the appealing part.  Births and deaths seem to require a lot less effort than all the stuff in the middle.

Monday, June 14, 2010

on the discovery of blog inspiration

Before you have a minor heart attack over my third post in two weeks, please know that I am not on my deathbed, have not lost the use of my legs, and am not on house arrest (...yet).  In other words, I am blogging out of desire--not because I no longer have the capabilities for doing anything else.  (If I WAS in any of those situations, I would expect each and every one of you to send me a baked good.  Consider this a trial run.)

I discovered something.  A writing kind of something, even, which are generally my favorite type of somethings.  The majority of the blogging universe is accentuated with pictures of people, their vacations, their pets, their adorable new blobby babies, and various other life happenings--unfortunately for you and the rest of the people that happen to stumble over my budding tree of a blog amidst the forest of blogosphere, pictures are not my forte....or even my mezzo-forte.  I enjoy TAKING them as much as the next person, but my brain lacks the motivation to ask my body to upload them here.  When it does try to muster up the stamina to request such a process, my body disagrees.  It's a messy process.  I avoid it.

What I'm getting at here is a justification for my lack of pictures.  Who needs pictures when you have words, right?  Language!  What seperates us from the beasts!  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I'll take the kilo's worth of expository writing.  (Stop worrying, I won't really write that much.  Wimp.)

There are only so many things to write about, however, before everyone and their dog starts getting seriously bored.  It should be noted that dogs can't even read, but the I'm pretty sure the sheer volume of words overwhelms them into boredom.  With this in mind, I have made a discovery:  It's pure genius, and pure simplicity--they post a one-word promt every Saturday, and then you write a blog post that corresponds to the prompt the following week.  I will be doing this, mainly because I can't come up with a good reason to HAVE a blog if I'm not putting anything worthwhile in it, and what can be more worthwhile than weekly ramblings on an assigned topic?  I know--you can't think of anything either. 

In fact, since I'm sure a lot of you use your respective blogs as a primary journal, consider this an invitation for you to join me!  I've always felt that a journal should be more than a catalogue of life events and extend to capturing the "essence" of the journaler.  So bring it on, people!

This week's topic: superheros/heroines.  More to follow.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

on how much I hate hair care

So, let's talk about my hair.

95% of all first impressions people have of me have something to do with it.  I'll admit (and I may even boast) that my hair is pretty unusual, and I love it.  I'm grateful that I've grown out of the high school stage of wanting to shave it all off out of frustration, and that I have delusioned myself into thinking I actually know how to control it.  (I don't.  My hair is like a wild animal--after years and years of domestication, it trusts me and will sometimes do what I say, but you always have to remember that it is a very dangerous creature.)

There's a certain routine that comes with having hair this curly.  It's a routine so fascinating that I have had people stop what they're doing (band trips, sleepovers, new housemates, etc.) to watch and/or comment and/or ask questions about it.  It involves t-shirts, diffusers, various layers of hair products, and--most importantly--NO SHAMPOO.

Shampoo is the atomic bomb for curly hair.  Why?  Because 99% of popular shampoos have sulfates in them.  To provide a short, and very mangled, chemistry lesson: most hair products and conditioners contain silicones (dimethicone is the most popular, from what I've found), which coat hair strands and, for a short time, make hair look shinier/softer/etc. than before.  However, after time, coats of silicone--which usually aren't water soluable--can actually prevent moisture from getting to hair strands, making them more dry and unhealthy than before.  Sulfates, which are in most shampoos, are used to break down silicones and remove product buildup from hair.  This would be great news, except that sulfates also strip natural hair oils, which are absolutely vital for proper curly hair maintenance.  (Imagine how frizzy my poor 'do would be if my scalp wasn't working overtime to calm it down!)  The moral of the story is that I avoid shampoos--and silicone-based conditioner/product--like the plague.  Instead, I use water-soluable product and my hair is as buildup-less as can be....

...until two months ago, when I'm forced to switch conditioners because John Freida discontinues his curly line (sigh), so I simply change to another Freida conditioner and think nothing of it.  Well, my hair has been a garbled, frizzy mess as of late, and (to add injury to insult) my scalp has been an itchy, flaky mess.  (In my very hair-conscious world, this is the equivalent of someone ripping the cover off my 1911 copy of Peter and Wendy, or dropping my wedding ring down an elevator shaft, or something equally as terrible.  Call me dramatic, but anyone who has seen my hair in action will know how hard I work to keep it less-than-ferocious.)  Well, I traced my hair problems back to the time of "the switch," and I read the product ingredients to find that the second most common ingredient is a stinkin' sulfate!  In my conditioner!  I'm washing my hair three times a week with a chemical that's supposed to get rid of buildup that I don't have, and I'm wondering why my hair is being destroyed?  I would sue someone, but even the best lawyer couldn't make a case out of "I guess I just didn't think to read the label.  My bad."

In a not-so-dramatic ending to the story, I went to the store, read the ingredients on (literally) every brand of conditioner I could find, and only found one (made for African-American hair, no less) with no silicones OR sulfates.  That one, I bought, and my hair has since been restored to its healthy, bouncy self.  I know you were worried.

You're probably thinking to yourself at this point, "Did I really just read five paragraphs of Katie talking about her hair?"  Yes, you did.  Not only do I feel better after dumping that story on you, but I'm sure you have taken the message to heart and will now always make sure you know what you're putting on your head.  (Seriously, I thought I was suffering from a scalp condition.  Conditioner!  Who knew?)  You can thank me later.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

on the subject of Florida

I've discovered that the only way to motivate myself to blog is to read the most recent entry of every single blog I follow, even if they haven't been updated in a thousand years.  In fact, this is the IDEAL situation, because I begin to think, "Holy jeez, Robin/Elizabeth/Megan Bauer/Sara George-Kreider/various other bloggeritas, why haven't you updated your blog so that I can read about the life you are leading oh-so-far away from mine?" (Robin is the exception to this, because she is close, but I still like to see pictures of video games and bacon and the like, so there.)  Directly after these indignant thoughts stew for a moment, I then realize that my own poor, neglected blog has been lonely for like, six weeks.  Do you realize how long a wait that it in cyberspace?  They should have a Blog Protection Services agency to take blogs away from people like me--the people who promise that they're ready for the commitment and then shirk away from all updating responsibility.  (As a side note, they probably already DO have "the BPS," but it's probably part of the FBI and they hunt down people who use blogspot to plot terrorism, or something.)

In other, less conspiratoral news, Ricky and I made a road trip to Florida last weekend!  As usual, I did not take any pictures, mainly because all we did was look at a quantity of apartments that exceeds the number of X-files episodes ever seen by a certain SGK, and I didn't think anyone wanted to scroll through repetitive panels of off-white walls and beige carpet.  I figured this extensively long (15 hours) road trip would be a great time to start a new hobby, since reading in the car makes me motion-sick. (I still try every time just to see if I've outgrown it.  Next year?)  So, I bought some eggplant-colored yarn, a crochet needle, and set off to become the new starlet of crochet-dom.  To give you some backstory on my yarn-related experiences, I used to knit.  In the 4th grade, to be specific.  My school had a knitting club, but it was run by a teacher whom I loathed to my pre-pubescent core, so I refused to join...but still wanted to knit.  I expressed this to my better-than-the-knitting-club-lady teacher, who then sat me down and helped me knit a blanket.  "I'm a blanket-making prodigy!" thought my 9-year-old brain, who then promptly lost all interest and moved on to Pokemon cards.

So there I was, over a decade later, trying to dredge up some elementary school crafting expertise as I branched out into the exciting world of crocheting.  After a lumpy 4x4 square comprised of all the basic stitches in my "how-to" book and some enthusiastic praise from Ricky (you see why I married him), I went back to eating Cheez-Its and watching Strong Bad emails on my iPod.  My attention span hasn't matured much since age nine.  Maybe one day the post-married crafty gene that seems to be popping up in 90% of people (and blogs) I know will activate and suddenly I'll be whipping up wall hangings and baby shower gifts and maybe even care enough to save up for a sewing machine.  Or, I could just continue to kick everyone's collective rear end at Super Smash Brothers.  Whichever.

What was I blogging about?  Florida.  Right.  Fast forward 14 hours from the crochet episode, and Ricky and I--after passing Disney World (with exchanges of "WE ARE SO CLOSE TO DISNEY WORLD!") and Tampa ("WE ARE SO CLOSE TO THE YANKEES' SPRING TRAINING FIELD!")--are in beautiful, rich, manicured Naples, Florida.  Did I mention I got three nights at our hotel for $140 total (including taxes and booking fees)?  I did.  Bargain hunting should be an Olympic sport.

Seriously, though, Naples is gorgeous.  I mean, the town was (really) named after Naples, Italy, because the people who founded it thought it compared in beauty.  That sounds greats and everything when you're reading it, but being there is entirely different.  It's not often that I'm excited to move someplace--I really looooooathe (I hope your mental voice held out that "o") uprooting--but I'm excited to live in Naples.  We toured Ricky's law school (loved it!), visited the beach at night (a requirement), and even went to the movies (Prince of Persia for $3 each!  The movie wasn't that great, but hey--three bucks!).  There are so many ethnic restaurants in that city that I'm pretty sure we're going to be cardboard box-living broke within a month of moving, especially now that we've discovered this totally authentic, totally delicious Greek place.  There's also a Mexican place called "Mr. Tequila," which is obviously the English-speaking twin of "Don Tequila," and we took that as a good sign.  (We're going to call it "Mr. T's," in honor of good old "Donny.")  It was a struggle to leave, let me tell you.  In-between apartment shopping, we even toured Florida Gulf Coast University--the place where (fingers crossed) I'll be starting my English M.A. program in August!  I say "fingers crossed" because I haven't finished my application yet (I'm taking the GRE this month), but I've got a good feeling about it.  The original application deadline was in February--well before we knew we were moving to Naples--so I thought I was out of luck.  When I called the head of the program to beg for an exception, however, she told me that the deadline had been extended until August!  If I hadn't been trying to pass myself off as a mature, responsible, emotionally stable adult over the phone, I would've cheered.  Instead, I went with, "I'm quite pleased to hear that!" or something around that level of lameness.

Speaking of school: a lot of the apartments we looked at were "income-restricted," meaning you couldn't make over a certain amount if you lived there. (I'm sure you're not surprised when I tell you it's a government thing.)  Cool, fine, whatever--but you can't have both renters going to school full-time, either.  That was what killed the deal for Ricky and me, because he wants me to be able to go back to school if I want to...and, obviously, I do. (Enough to pay out-of-state tuition for a year until I get FL residency, even!  Sigh.)  Therefore, we picked someplace else.  Two bedroom, two bath, carpeted, and even a separate dining area, which is a serious step up from our current apartment.  It's practically a just-under-1000-square-feet palace. The best (or worst) thing about being graduate students is that they allocate living expenses in your student loans, which means that Ricky's student loan amounts are absolutely through the roof, but it gives us the money to pay off our entire lease up-front.  (When I saw the dollar signs, I had to keep telling myself that this is how 95% of everyone pays for law school.  Otherwise, I was going to pass out.)  This is an extra blessing given the fact that jobs in Naples are few and far-between, and I probably won't be able to find anything until we move down there.  Worst case scenario, I take Master's classes and don't worry about being a grown-up with a job ever again!  :D

I promise I'll put pictures up of our new apartment once we're there.  Or, better yet, you could just come visit!  We'll have no friends and a second bedroom, so why not import some already-established friends to Naples?  Eh?

On our way back from Florida, we stopped overnight in Charleston for a blitz visit with some of my long-time gal pals (and guy pals, even).  We attempted to visit Waffle House at 1:00 am once the Sabbath was over, but the federal holiday weekend struck and the place was packed with potheads and some seriously wasted 20-somethings.  Back in the car to IHOP (I definitely wrote that as "iHop" just now)--less crowded, but it took forever to get our food!  FOREVER.  We didn't get back to Alaina and Thomas's townhouse until 5:00 am.  Birds were chirping!  Ricky and I consider this a huge breakthrough for married couples, because we have yet to know anyone personally who has gotten married and stayed out this late.  The lack of sleep did have me making a fool of myself, of course, but what are high school friends for if not for accepting you as an idiot? :)  Special thanks to Lainy and Thomas, who let us crash at their house even though they were (literally) moving in when we got to Chas.  They are, quite possibly, the coolest people to ever exist. 

So there you have it, friends.  Another traveling adventure in the lives of the Jensens.  We also went to a Yankees/Orioles game in April, which I just remembered that I forgot to blog about, but trust me when I say it was good...and cold.  And the Yankees lost.  But Ricky bought me hot chocolate and a pretzel, and we had a great view, and Ricky was happy to be there, and baseball is much more exciting in person, so it was still good.

In later April, we went to Monticello, home of the oh-so-famous Tom Jefferson, whom I don't really like much as a person but have to respect as the author of the Declaration of Independence.  My verdict on the house: definitely cool, but I wouldn't pay the money ($23 each!!) to go again.  I'd just walk around the beautiful grounds.  Ricky and I have a list of historic VA sites to visit before we leave.  Williamsburg is next on the list!

We also booked a bed-and-breakfast in Palmyra to go see the Hill Cumorah pageant in July!  Neither of us have been before, so I bought the room as Ricky's graduation present.  We're stinkin' excited.

As a closing note (and perhaps the best part of this entire post), I got to play Scrabble with Professor Dransfield--and won.  We're having a rematch, of course, but seriously.  It was awesome.