Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm hopeful, Yes I am, hopeful for today

I've always been a bit of a crier. Okay, fine! That's an understatement. When growing up, if my mom raised her voice even one octave higher than usual, I would storm to my room screaming how insensitive she was to my feelings and then fling myself onto my bed in a fit of tears. I have a flair for the dramatic one might say. Not sure, but I think I might've inherited that from a certain Grandmother of mine who dresses like JLo and has a pink vintage truck, just a hunch though.
Anyhow, as I've always been prone to tear-shedding at something as mild as Cottonelle toilet paper commercials involving puppies, I shouldn't have been surprised yesterday when driving home after a particularly harrowing day at work when I burst into tears at a lyric in a country song. I mean really serious, fat rolling tears streaming down my face and theatrical whimpering that I thought the person in the monster truck next to me at the stoplight should've taken note of and given me at least an appropriate nod of sympathy instead of just hitting the gas to pass me.
While the country song had nothing to do with why I was really upset (I despise my job) it hit another chord within me (the I want glamorous driving on the highway thinking of you country song love). And once the ball starts rolling with me, being dramatic and all, it simply isn't enough to just be upset about one thing, I have to find all the other reasons why my life is a giant piece of grody gum stuck to the shoe of life.
The fact of the matter here is this: Working as a customer service rep in the health insurance field is all well and dandy for some. I honestly believe there are people out there who really enjoy, possibly even thrive on this job. I, however am not one of these people waking up in the morning with a smile on my face and a skip in my step to solve issues of the "why in the bloody H aren't you paying my $10,000 doctor's bill, you ass!?" variety.
I sit there getting more and more angry as to why, I (creative lover of books and astounding writing and photography) am stuck in a job which doesn't even begin to pay all my bills, nor make me happy? Wasn't this why I went to college again? To avoid all this pain and existential agony? It is in fact! Not to sound all pouty tantrum here, but I want a writing job! I blessed want to be doing something vaguely in the field of what I love and just shelled out 56,000 dollars to get semi-good at! Is that so much to ask!?
I really don't think it is. Yeah, yeah, I know we are in an economic cul-de-sac of crap, but so what? Ever the optimist, I say that's not good enough for me, America! Your dilemma is no longer my dilema. Some may say oh hush, child, you're lucky to have a job, or in these times take what you can get. Posh on all your faces! I am not going to settle for less, because that's what I do when I'm scared. And to quote Macaulay Culkin, circa his Home Alone days, "Hey, I'm not afraid any more! I said I'm not afraid any more! Do you hear me? I'm not afraid any more!"
That's right. I am not afraid of failure, or losing a job I quite frankly don't give two figs about. I want something better and no one who's ever done great things accomplished them without some daunting adversity first.
So I would like to tip my hat to all my fellow college grads facing the same sort of anguish I am, doing something or nothing in the field of their dreams and say, It's going to happen!
Just keep swinging my friends, one of these days you're bound to hit that ball right outta the park.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A few of my favorite things... (here in Green Bay)

I am a lover of all things, cute, quaint, local, thrifty, old-fashioned, vintage, inexpensive, tasty, chocolately, cozy, nautical... well you get the idea. Since moving to a new locale, I have had the welcome thrill of discovering all sorts of new haunts to make my senses quake with excitement. And I would like all of you to know about them! So here is my list of favorite things about my new hometown.

Kavarna- a darling lil vegetarian coffeeshop with the most exquisite chocolate chip cookies I've probably ever come into contact with, (and believe you me, chocolate chip cookies and I have had a number of run-ins)
The River St. Pier- a hole in the wall restaurant located near my house in Howard, with fishing nets draped from the ceiling and sailboat decor covering nearly every surface. Even better than the decor, this amazing sandwich I had with sunflower seeds in it! Try it! Scrumptious!
The old fashioned signs- reference my picture to get an idea of all the wonderful old-timey flashing signs that there just aren't enough of outside of Las Vegas. Tis a shame because they are classic!
A Place in Time- an antique store that literally makes you feel like you've slipped down the rabbit hole into something magical and decadent where you kinda wanna sing some Sinatra and start snapping your fingers as you take in all the glory of the good old days. Or maybe that's just me...
Fish Creek- oh doesn't the name just say it all? It's this perfect town with shops filled with fudge and beach gear, touristy t-shirts and homemade jewelry. The fact that it's a harbor town located on the majestic Lake Michigan is also a huge bonus.
The Pancake House- YUM! And as I told Emily this weekend, if you can't say yum with a growl of intensity, then it's just just not that yummy. This restaurant has pancakes twice the size of my head and oodles of other amazing tasties for prices that you just don't normally find in the city. This girl just became a regular.
Goodwill/Salvation Army- As everyone who knows me can attest to, I am mad for thrifting. While I have visited scores of Goodwills and SA's, I have to say I have had some sickening good luck with the stores here. I actually got just plain furious when I went in today, with no money (HUGE MISTAKE) and what did I find? A brand-new Gucci tote, for 30.00. Naturally since I could not afford it, Em bought it, because Lord knows Gucci cannot be passed up. However, the second I saw it in her fingertips, I nearly reached marked hysteria that it would not belong to me. However, if a Gucci should go to anyone besides me, it should be my best friend, so I was grateful for the bargain on behalf of Em. That and the fact that I got a pretty sweet sympathy coat out of the deal. Such a darling my best friend is.

I am sure there will be oodles more for me to discover here, but for now, those are simply a few of my favorite things. And if you would like to break out in a number from the Sound of Music at this point, feel free. I, along with Julie Andrews would applaud you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A good man is hard to find

Who hasn't uttered this phrase about a gadzillion times in their life thus fur? And if you haven't had the sheer relish of bemoaning this particular phrase, then you've most certainly heard it from your friends, grandmother, aunts... you get the drift. Why is this lil diddy so popular to say? Because it's TRUE! Take it from me, I am a veritable jerk-magnet, I know the good men exist, I just can't seem to pinpoint where they're all herding, and then dive-bomb their hideout. Let's be honest, I am not one for stealth.
Now before I get ahead of myself and give the impression that I am looking for a man, let me clarify and say that I most certainly am not. My ex-boyfriend (gosh that is SO weird for my to say still) did a real number on me and I don't quite think I have recovered from the shock of what a real relationship feels like, accompanied with real heartbreak, and all those other emotions that I'd rather not carry on about at this venture in time.
I don't want to give any credit to Valentine's Day for sparking this issue of what it means to find a good man, because I for one think Valentine's Day is kind of a huge crock of shit. And no, it's not my bitterness talking, either. My bitterness did do the talking for the better part of my life, yes, but for the first time I can honestly say, I think giving tacky red balloons and even crappier chocolate, mass produced in even tackier heart-shaped boxes as a symbol of your love and affection once a year is bologna! Show a girl you love her on January 7th with flowers, or May 31 with a love letter by the coffeemaker. Don't wait until February 14th to dash into Wal-Mart with all the other last-minute men trying to pick out something red and pink that boldly states Be Mine!
All right, enough of that.... way off topic. This isn't about Valentine's Day. This is about good men, because quite frankly, I don't even want to talk about bad men. We as women spend waaaaay too much time talking about, obsessing about, and giving two shits about the bad men. This is a complete ode to the good men of this world, who yes, are hard to find, but well worth the wait.
My grandpa Rajala for instance comes to mind. Saying this man was a good man, doesn't do him anywhere near justice. But one particular story comes to mind that I would like to share. My grandma recently told me that some years ago she woke up in the night from a bad dream in which she was having some other man's baby. When my grandpa asked her what was wrong, she told him about the dream and how it unnerved her. My grandpa proceeded to tell her she needn't worry for if that ever happened he would stand by her. Now my grandma was shocked! It was merely an uncomfortable dream, but here was her husband telling her that if something like that ever happened (not that it would) he wouldn't leave her, he loved her too much. That blew me away, not his love, because anyone who saw the way he looked at her would know his love in an instant, but the fact that he would so openly overlook something most of us would run to the nearest divorce lawyer for.
Another great man is my dad. When thinking of great men, most girls instantly think, or should think of their dad. My dad is great because while he may not be a romantic love poems and sweep you off your feet kinda guy, he knows how to make his children feel loved. That is an important priority of his. The joy I felt growing up when my dad would sit and watch Saturday morning cartoons with us and crack up at elmer fudd's antics, had us kids in stitches. He has this ability to make us feel special with just his smile and calm demeanor. The way he whips up these altogether bizarre foods like spam on tortillas(spamwraps) and swells with pride when we all actually eat them is just a mark of his talent at fatherhood. In fact, while playing a game over the holidays my sisters and I all had to pick a phrase that described my dad and when all of us turned over our cards to share what we'd picked, it was unanimous: a good father. Having an amazing father is something precious that not all people are blessed enough to have, but something I am grateful for everyday.
My brother Jordan is also someone who actually surprises me sometimes with his insight and heart that would melt most sensible ladies into a puddle of romantic goo. This is surprising only because he was such a little deviant growing up, whom I wholeheartedly plotted his demise. He called me the other day and talked to me about trying to be a blessing in other people's lives, so that I would know more blessings than I could count. How many 22 year old men do this? I hope more than just my brother.
And I am certain there are more great men out there, in fact I do know of loads more, my uncles, my grandpa Sturos, some of my girl friends boyfriends and husbands, you know who you are. Thank you for being good men. For treating your wives, your children, your girlfriend's friends the way they deserve to be treated, for showing the rest of us, that it isn't just a myth that good men exist and that they're not all taken or gay.
I have been thinking all of this lately because I have been starting to feel yet again that maybe something is wrong with me. That I don't have what it takes to really find someone who loves me the way I deserve to be loved. But then I reckon why am I fretting over this? I've spent most of my life chasing men who don't really give two figs about my happiness. Isn't it about time I sit back and wait for one of these elusive good guys to seek me out and go, hey, you're pretty freaking spectacular, I thought a good girl was hard to find. And I'll say, no, no silly. That was just a myth, I've been here all along.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The time has come the walrus said...

Ah, it's that time of winter where I've started to realize the sickening extent of my sedentary lifestyle. I'm sitting at work all day, then I come home after dark and sit and watch tv and take out my daily frustrations on a pan of brownies/cookies/chocolate buttercream cake... yes like I said sickening. And it didn't really hit me that any of this was catching up to me, until a few days ago when I was snarfing down a peanut butter cookie while talking on the phone and I walked past a mirror in my kitchen. My face resembled one of those cartoon squirrels that has a cheek full of acorns. To say that it ruined my appetite would be a stretch, however it did slap me with a cold dose of reality to the way I have been eating/not moving pretty much at all since I moved to Green Bay.
I knew I had to take action at once. How very lucky for me that the local Curves was having a sweetheart of a deal (their words not mine) and you could join for a whole month free! I knew this was my get out jail free card.
So in I marched yesterday determined to get my heart beating and my blood pumping... and more importantly make my cheeks look a little less bloated. As a former member of Curves I knew the drill, they were going to do all sorts of unpleasant things involving measuring areas of my body that I usually tighten with spanx, and the dreaded body fat tool that looks like something 8yr boys use for flight simulations, but trust me, is much, much more threatening.
I filled out the required paperwork, had a few pleasantries with my new trainer, and then the dreaded tasks were upon me. I thought, whatever, I'm practically a pro now at uncomfortable situations involving my weight, there's nothing I'm unprepared for.

I was wrong.

I like to believe I am not just paranoid and that some people really do say things they shouldn't, but some of my friends (you know who you are... Emily) would disagree with me. I got the vague impression that my trainer genuinely thought it was long overdue that I'd joined a gym. And frankly, she's right, but she didn't need to make it so obvious. For starters she wasn't even delicate on the scale. Normally people weighing me with those old-fashioned doctor's scales have the common decency to way underestimate my weight and then look all puzzled when they're not getting an accurate reading, before discreetly sliding the heavier weight at the bottom over another notch. If you're a girl, you know what I'm talking about here. So this, coupled with the fact that I was already vastly uncomfortable with her attitude about me joining was making me want to bolt for the nearest fast-food chain. And then the final blow. I got the supreme pleasure of having my body fat measured, every girls fantasy.
So while she explained how this hideous contraption worked I thought about ways to pretend the results weren't really that nauseating. Until my trainer had me hold the stupid thing and said, "now this is going to measure how fat you are." No joke. Not, this measures fat cells, it tells you the percentage of fat on your body, simply: how fat you are. Ouch! That felt like a bloody personal attack. I'm not fat, I'm just big-boned. Curvy. Voluptuous. A smidge heavy-set. Okay, fine, if you want to be cruel, you could say fat, but I wouldn't say fat, and neither should she.
By this point my chubby cheeks were now burning with humiliation. Apparently I had overestimated myself and my ability to handle the cold hard truth, yet again.
Once i scraped up my last shreds of dignity and slipped out the door, I immediately called my sister to vent. She told me what I wanted to hear("how dare she!?" and things along those lines) but also told me never to go back. My roommate said the same. But no, I have been insulted before and I am not one to run away with my tail between my legs. This girl may be big, but she is also bold. And all I have to say is look out Curves, because all you just did for me was make me want to work harder and stick it to you.
I'll show you Curves that you never knew existed.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I had a very enlightening Sunday, for numerous reasons. I woke up early, without an alarm clock, entered a few sweepstakes (I’m officially addicted and determined to win anything—Teflon frying pan, stainless steel water bottle, new washer and dryer, trip for two to Maui , a year’s supply of dog food…) and then looked at the clock and much to my surprise realized I was up early enough for church. I quickly scrambled to get ready and then bolted out the door. I have been on a bit of a mission lately to find a church that really speaks to me. While I grew up Apostolic Lutheran and will always cherish the foundation of faith it built within me—with the help of my parents unwavering guidance and faith of their own—I’ve known for some time that I needed something more.
I attended the Church of Christ Lutheran church this morning and finally, finally found what I was looking for. At first I was hesitant, and critical, like I am every time I try a new church. I think: Why are people wearing jeans? And what is this new age-y music, I want to sing Thank You Jesus. These people seem a little too peppy. I mean, too sincere about… well, God. And that sounds just plain ridiculous, doesn’t it? How can you be too involved with God, or too pumped up? Okay, take that back, some people do take getting pumped up about God to levels of heinous atrocity (but that’s the rare case) but otherwise, being all revved up about the Lord is pretty amazing.
Now before you think I’ve gone all gospel on you, I just want to take a step back a bit and explain myself. Growing up, I felt quite reserved in my religion. When I saw those shows on TV with the southern Baptists in their choir robes singing and clapping up and down the aisles, while everyone in their pews raised their hands and declared "Amen, oh praise the Lord, Hallelujah!" a part of me was astonished at their lack of inhibition, but another part of me was intrigued. They made going to church look like a whole lotta fun. And quite frankly as a child I thought church was just something I had to get through in order not to go to Hell. I used to fret over this constantly, going to Hell that is. I was well aware God knew I was counting how many times the minister’s coughed in a sermon and giggling instead of paying attention to scripture. But the sad fact was, I felt like God couldn’t blame me for the fact that I was severely bored.
I don’t want this to come off as a bash session against my religion. I couldn’t have loved the way I was raised any more than I do. And there will always be the part of me that knows our slow and steady hymns that God himself is surely swaying to just can’t replace the upbeat tempo of newer Christian music. However, after attending this new church, I felt the lure of something profound. Something deep inside me that I wasn’t even sure had always been there.
For what I’m certain is the first time in my life, I left church with a skip in my step and a newfound sense of hope in what’s to come. I know this is a big step and one maybe not everyone will appreciate, but as for me, I finally understand what it’s like to want to get up and start clapping in church.

In fact I did.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I think I'm going to like it here...

Since picking up my life in Michigan and trekking on over to cheese country, I have found that good ol' Wisconsin might have more to offer than I first anticipated. And instead of boring you with my giddy child-like glee at discovering this tundra also has lighthouses, Lake Michigan, quaint towns, and winding country roads aplenty, I thought I'd let the pictures do the talking.

a thousand words