Wednesday, August 31, 2011


...just an obnoxious reminder that you can like this ol' blog on Facebook now! I made a fancy button!

Doesn't it look sophisticated? Could it be sharper and overall more well-made? NOPE!

There are many benefits of Liking Things Jill Likes:
1) You get updates of when I update. Which won't clog your Facebook feed too much, since I never update as much as I hope to!
2) You get to look at the adorable pictures of puppies that is my profile picture for Things Jill Likes. Yes, it is in fact just the first picture that came up when I Google image searched "adorable pictures of puppies." I will not re-post this picture here because I want you to go to Facebook to see it. And then like it. But trust me, they are ADORABLE!
3) I like when you like what I like by liking this blog. So much liking to go around! Okay, maybe this number is actually kind of annoying.
4) It will make me feel popular and loved, hence boosting my self-esteem, and hence boosting my ability to write great blog entries. Maybe?

Once again, what a work of art!

Let Down, Radiohead.

So I talked about The Bends on here a long time ago, and while this post involves moving on to OK Computer, I'm still not talking about the whole album. I need to just talk about one song. Because, dudes. I had an inkling of this notion about this song for a long time, but I feel like it was recently confirmed like For Real when it was featured on a playlist at work and I just decided, YES, This Is It. 

Guys. This is My Favorite Song.

This is a big deal! Because I like A LOT OF SONGS! But I've thought about it a lot; I think the only song that could come in second is this one. (Okay, and a second runner up would be Dreams by the Cranberries, OBVIOUSLY.) Of course, I may debate this in my head continuously, because your Favorite Song is a big deal, and thinking about it is more fun than thinking about all those other boring things you should be thinking about. But for now, I'm taking a stand on this one.

And listen y'all, IT'S NOT KARMA POLICE, OKAY, even though Karma Police came on the radio on my drive home from work the other night and I sang along real loud and it was real awesome.

It's this one:

Everything about this song is perfect for me, from the first notes on. I don't even have a lot I can say about it other than I have loved it for over ten years, and that it makes everything inside of me happy, and that I could listen to it over and over and over and still love it just as much.

And also, most importantly, when he sings:

One day, I am gonna grow wings

(a chemical reaction, hysterical and useless.)

--no lie, my soul suddenly expands inside my chest and then implodes in on itself. I don't know if this makes any sense, but it's what happens, and it's good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lake Tahoe; 2008.

August so far for me has been a month teetering between working hard and trying to figure out what the next year holds for me. Basically, it's been busy. September, however, is looking to be a month full of good times, including a mega-awesome trip to the East Coast including visits to both New York and Boston, with a family wedding squeezed in between. And trust me, weddings in my family are ALWAYS a legendary time.

But even though I know this is coming up real soon, the only terms I'm currently able to think about it in involve money. As in, are we going to be able to afford it, and how can I work as much as humanly possible before then?! Kathy has chided me a few times this month for biting off more than I can chew, and while I know she's right, I'm still having a little trouble backing down from hyper-work mode to more fun-loving-Jill mode. This regular Jill mode would already be making detailed plans of what we're going to do and see on this vacation, but instead I'm just thinking about making sure we bring enough snacks so we don't have to spend money in the airport, and are we going to be able to find people to help take care of our animals while we're away, and will I be able to pay my bills later in the month if I don't work for a week and a half, etc. What? Boooring.

I've had a little more downtime in the last couple days than I have in awhile and am trying to Get Back to Myself a little, and one of the things I know I've been neglecting, and which always helps me, is Hanging Out With My Pictures. (I described this Hanging Out With My Pictures that I do briefly here, last year.) And I remembered that, oh, hey, a long time ago I wanted to mention that the last productive thing I did with my website was upload a gallery of pictures from our trip to Lake Tahoe in 2008.

Lake Tahoe is significant because I feel it was the last time we really took a vacation. Now, many people who know us here think that we "take trips all the time." This is because yes, we do go back East to see our family and friends when we have the opportunity. (We also did used to take a lot more day trips than we do now.) But almost every trip we've taken since we've been here has been for a holiday or for a family wedding. Again, I should stress HOW FUN family weddings are, and holidays, too. DUH, holidays and weddings are awesome. I am sort of missing family and the East Coast a bunch right now, so this upcoming trip is going to be awesome.

But I think these vacations are different from true "vacation." When I think about vacation, I think about just Kathy and myself, going somewhere we've never been JUST BECAUSE WE WANT TO. Just for the heck of it! Just for the beauty of seeing new things! Doing whatever we want, with absolutely no responsibility attached! No schedules, no requirements. The whole notion of this type of vacation is an upper-class concoction, but it's a desire I harbor, anyway.

So fall of 2008. I had somehow strangely won a two night stay at a ridiculous casino in Reno. Reno = one of the few places in the world I had almost no desire to visit. And there was the whole matter of getting there. But, Reno is really close to Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe! It sounds so luxurious, and we would probably never go if we didn't go then. And we still had room on our credit cards then. (What a dream!) So, what the hell, life is short, right? So we drove there. Many, many miles and hours in our 1991 dusty red Toyota which also drove us across the country, which our family is convinced should die any minute.

We drove past Mt. Shasta, so amazing! Kathy's bladder almost exploded through hours and hours of nothingness in northern California! We ate Sonic--AND In 'n Out! Listened to lots of music! Road trips, you are my bestest friend! Even though my face almost collapsed into the steering wheel multiple times on the drive home!

We arrived at Tahoe in the weird sliver of Fall off-season, between Summer and Winter when the boating bums had left and the skii bums had yet to arrive. A lot of stuff was closed, but there was this almost strange calm to the whole place. Quiet, still, clear water. Big mountains, big trees, big rocks. The twisty-turvy road from the lake back to the desert floor of Reno that we traveled multiple times was scary but beautiful.

We stopped at weird places like that random rock formation, like Virginia City. We briefly walked around Reno; were depressed; went back to our room. We imitated ridiculous statues in the casino.

We took a boat ride. We ate lunch in Tahoe City and pretended we could live in ski towns such as Tahoe City. I love these towns. We felt weird about the desert. We drank beer, of course. We saw a real live Olympic flame for the first time! THE OLYMPICS ARE AMAZING!

We drove a lot, and then we drove even more, on our way back home. Kathy fell asleep a lot, I smiled every time I looked over and saw her mouth wide open. The I-5 corridor seems never ending. And then we got back, to our animals and our little apartment.

I like a lot of the pictures in the gallery, even if beautiful-big-lake-pictures may seem a bit repetitive sometimes. It was maybe an irresponsible trip, but I'm glad we went. It was only a few days but felt long, like all fun trips do. I like to picture that someday when we have real jobs, whenever that may be, we will take real vacations like this all the time. This is probably not a realistic vision, but, I'll keep having it.

But back to reality, for real: What should we do in New York? That doesn't involve Times Square? The High Line's the only thing on my list. We will probably already be super busy hanging out with all of our awesome friends that now all live there, but, tell me, tell me! Once I start over-planning and over-extenuating ourselves for the trip, then I'll actually be excited. And then I'll know I'm really back to myself again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Portland Bridge Pedal.


Had my first long bike ride - wow!- It was like flying! 
Like flying while getting punched in the vagina! - Sarah Silverman

Many of my favorite ladies on the internets frequently post about different races and other monumental physical achievements in their lives (see: Cat, Clare, Jasmine, Sarah, and Mandy). And while I normally don't fit in the same physically fit category as them, today I participated in my first biking event, so I'm going to write about it too! Whether you care about it or not! Yayyy! Since I've never written about something like this before, I wasn't quite sure how to make it not-boring, so, apologies ahead of time.

While the Portland Bridge Pedal is in no way a real "race"--while we were swooping down the far end of the Marquam Bridge they had volunteers on hand to warn us to "slow down" so no one got hurt, if that gives you a picture--I did get to wear one of those made-of-neither-paper-nor-plastic number things* on myself. Which I had never experienced before! The only other thing like this I've done was the Walk for Hunger in Boston, which was awesome and exhausting and which I did twice, but we only got stickers; no pinning involved. So it was pretty exciting!

But seriously, what is it made of?
* Also, so I didn't really have an official number or anything, but I still got to pin something to myself, so it counts.
 PS: All of the photos are really poor quality, since they were taken with a not-great camera, while I was exhausted and sweaty. Oh well.

The Bridge Pedal is a remarkable event in its own right. Portland is a city divided by the Willamette River, and while its official nickname is the City of Roses, it's also known as the City of Bridges, for the many awesome bridges that connect the West Side to the East Side. (I am obviously an East Side kind of girl.) The Bridge Pedal closes down, or at least severely limits traffic on, ALL OF THESE NUMEROUS BRIDGES.  (As well as many streets and a big section of the 405, a major city thoroughfare.) This includes the top portions of the Marquam and Fremont bridges, which carry heavy interstate traffic. This is quite a logistical feat. The fact that the city, for one morning each year, helps to essentially shut down the city just for a family-friendly bike ride, is pretty freaking awesome.

But in addition, I've had a personal thing going with the Bridge Pedal for a few years now. At my old job, where I worked 10+ hour days every weekend day every weekend, and which was in a suburb on the West Side that I had to cross a bridge to get to, I got snagged by the Bridge Pedal at least twice, two years in a row. Meaning, when you're sleepily driving to work and discover you can't cross any bridges and you need to cross bridges to get to work, you find yourself in a bit of pickle. (I eventually made my way to 205 each time, a pretty circuitous route.) This was the last cell phone conversation with my boss I remember about it:

Me: "Hey, so all the bridges are closed--"
Boss: "Ohhh, it's the Bridge Pedal."
Me: "Right, and I didn't know, so I'm driving all over the place and will be at least twenty minutes late--"
Boss: "Wait, didn't this happen last year, too?"
Me: "Uh, yeah."

And I told myself, Jill, one day, you are not going to be working 10 hour days every Sunday. One day, you will be ON those bridges on that Sunday in August. You will be IN the Bridge Pedal, enjoying the city you live in! And yes, finally, that day has come!!*

* Okay, so I still work every Sunday, at a different job, but I requested today off, so. 

There are a few different courses you can choose in the Bridge Pedal; the 6 bridge one which covers most of the main bridges downtown, the 8 bridge which includes another downtown bridge and the St. Johns Bridge way north of downtown, the 10 bridge which includes all of that and the Sellwood Bridge, way south of downtown, and which crosses one of the other bridges twice. (I find this to be a little disingenuous, really it should be 9 bridges, since you only cross 9 bridges.) The 10 bridge pedal is around 35 miles; the 6 bridge is 13; and the 8 bridge was around 25. I've been biking quite a bit lately and wanted to push myself while not dying, so I thought the 25 mile one was a good choice. Although considering I biked to downtown and back from my house as well, that adds on another 10 miles, and I also crossed the Hawthorne bridge an additional time each way, so really I pretty much did a 10 Bridge Pedal (according to their way of counting bridges). And hey, that was probably too much detail, but in conclusion, I win.

My route. Via.

I left my apartment at the bright and early time of 6:00, making it to downtown by about 6:30, and then we took off from the starting line at 7:00. From the starting line until after the first two bridges or so, everyone is pretty jam-packed--thousands of people from all over participate in this thing--and when you're on a bike, this can be a bit scary. But after that it started to thin out a little and really be enjoyable. 

By your third bridge or so, though, you are starting to hurt a little. Because the thing is, even though a lot of bridges might seem to be pretty flat, almost every one makes a sort of arch over the river, and you are pedaling up hill for half of those suckers. I want to write another entry about biking in Portland in general, but let me tell you: this is not a flat city, and the bridges are just the start of it. I did feel a bit of a competitive edge come out during the downtown section--which is really weird for me--and passed quite a few people, but by the time we got to St. Helens Road, it was back to normal for me because I didn't care anymore and everyone was passing me. Phew.

I somewhat dangerously tried to take a picture of every bridge I crossed while on my bike, so here they are, every crappy-quality-one! The only one I missed was the Ross Island, and while I actually have some sentimental attachment to the Ross Island since it's the one I cross the most, and it is pretty from the water, let's be honest, you're not missing much on the surface.

 First, waiting at the starting line. I got there pretty early, so there was a TON of people behind me too. The first bridge we crossed was the Hawthorne, which I took a picture of later on my way home, which is at the top of this entry.

This is a truly awful picture, but, this was the Marquam. We met up with the 10 bridgers here and it was hectic and scary. Also, the people in front of me here are amazing Canadians. Their hats are rimmed with Canadian flags. Can't beat that.

The Burnside.

The Broadway.

The Steel. When we first biked onto this bridge, a MAX train was crossing, and it really looked like it was going to hit us. But then the tracks curved and it didn't. So that was cool.

The St. Johns!

Taking a break on the St. Johns with my trusty steed.

The Fremont. Again, hard to capture in pictures, but this felt so epic.

In the middle of the Fremont there was an amazing Japanese Taiko band. You know. Just some taiko in the middle of the Fremont Bridge, no big deal. This was in fact so cool that it made me emotional and I may or may not have cried a little. OKAY DEAL WITH IT I CRY A LOT.


At the finish line there was this old-people marching band group, which I feel like Kathy and I have seen around once before. This also may or may not have made me cry, because seriously, who can deal with old people marching bands?? They are so happy! There are so many khaki shorts!! It is just too much!

Home, and sweaty. Yeah, this picture probably isn't necessary, but it, you know, proves I did it or whatever.

Some other random notes:
  • I took a few breaks when I really felt like my legs were dying, and the breaks were so totally helpful. I thought that it'd be hard to get back on the bike after getting off of it for a few minutes, especially if I was on a hill, but I actually felt refreshed and energized each time. Listening to your body apparently works!
  • I bypassed the first official break/snack station because I didn't want to deal with the crowds of people and their bikes. This paid off, however, because just a few blocks away in the St. Johns neighborhood we passed by a house with a family giving away free lemonade and brownies. I was made aware of this development by the two small children who were yelling "FREE LEMONADE AND BROWNIES! FREE LEMONADE AND BROWNIES!" over and over. Yet almost everyone was biking past them! What a travesty! It's FREE LEMONADE AND BROWNIES PEOPLE! Whatta combo! Sure, I could have gotten a healthier banana at the break station, but you're supposed to eat local, right? That banana came all the way from Ecuador, but this brownie came from THIS HOUSE RIGHT THERE.
  • After the brownie, I actually did stop at the second break station, and I did pick up a banana. And then I put it in my backpack, because I immediately realized there were like TWENTY BOXES OF COOKIES AT THE NEXT TABLE. So I obviously stuffed down a peanut butter cookie and a chocolate chip, because who can say no to cookies?
  • And then at the finish line there were people handing out ice cream bars and fudgsicles! So my arm reached for the fudgiscle because my body really can't say no to free chocolate! But in actuality it was only 10 AM and I was already on sugar overload and as I started eating it my body began to say no, and I had to throw most of it away. Lesson learned: It's hard, and I know it goes against everything you know, but in the future Jill, you - do - not - have - to - accept - every - free - food - item.
  • While we obviously rode the surface of all the bridges, we also biked underneath quite a few of the underbellies of bridges too, hence passing a lot of homeless encampments. This felt hard and awkward for me. Like, we paid $25-$35 to bike, for fun, for a few hours. You could use that to buy many meals. I don't know. Just a constant reminder that the homelessness in this city is crazy and awful.
  • On a lighter note, I passed quite a few things I had never seen before, including the area where the mounted police unit get to train/walk their horses! HORSIES!
  • If I do anything like this again, I need to invest in some of those dorky padded biker shorts, and an extra padded seat, pronto. I was in some pain for quite awhile.
  • Best quote of the day: "KEEP RUNNING!!" from a six year old on the sidelines.
Next up on the docket: I'd like to do a bike ride somewhere else in Oregon or Washington. And I'd also like to try running a 5K. And if we're around, maybe the 10 bridge next year. Maybe.

Monday, August 8, 2011

5 Patty Griffin songs.

While my love for Tori earlier this month was brought up by a random listening of a song, the random swelling love I'm feeling for Patty Griffin today was brought on by Jill (from Looks & Books) and her man getting a new dog (yay doggies!) named Chief. Not only is this a great dog name, it's also one of my very favoritest Patty Griffin songs, and today as I was crossing a street downtown it popped into my head and I haven't been able to get it out.

I listened to Patty a lot in undergrad; I saw her quite a few times in Boston. Going to a Patty Griffin concert was a magical, religious experience for me. She's this little thing with bright red curly hair and then she busts out this voice with all this emotion and it so so shocking and wonderful. One of those, "How does that come out of a white girl?" type of voices. I went to a lot of these concerts by myself, in the old crumbling Orpheum, and I'd sink into the creaky, wearing red velvet seats and let her voice wrap around me like a folks-y blues-y cocoon.

The last Patty album I bought was Children Running Through. I think she's come out with more since then, whenever that was, but her music has progressed steadily to more true gospel-y, blues-y type stuff, a rich musical tradition which I admire and which I love seeing live, but which, let's be honest, I don't listen to much on a day to day basis. Even five or so years ago at those concerts, as she started to sing more jazz-y soul type of things, you could tell there were those hardcore-folk peeps who just wanted to hear her first bare-boned-folk record, Living With Ghosts, so bad, because anytime she played a song from it (which wasn't terribly often) everyone freaked the hell out with their screaming. Listen. Us dyke-y people just can't help ourselves.

I haven't listened to a full Patty album all the way through for even longer. But there are a few gems of songs of hers that I will always just love to death, that I would sing at open mics if I had myself a pretty voice and could play the guitar (well).

PS. I've never actually watched a video for a Patty Griffin song until this very moment, and it actually feels pretty weird. So I would recommend just listening to the music, because that's what I've always done.

1. Chief

Chief is a wonderful storytelling song, which I think is why I like it so much, because I like me a good storytelling song so much. I love the first guitar strums and the first verse, and then how those guitar strums repeat and kick it up a notch little by little after each subsequent verse, especially at around 1:40. Also this line:

I don't really know what I'm doing
just watching myself in some play
and the actress looks like she wants to go home
and lie in her bed all day.

Who hasn't felt like that? And then the hippie-ish soaring bridge at just about 2:00, where she sings:

And I wish that you could see me
when I'm flying in my dreams
The way I laugh there, way up high
The way I look when I fly
The way I laugh
The way I fly

The way she draws out laaauuuuuuughhh and flllllllyyyyyy! And then back to that jubilant guitar! So wonderful! Enough to make the vulnerable, melodramatic Jill want to cry forever, while also feeling really empowered and happy!

2. Making Pies

Okay, so Making Pies is actually Patty's best storytelling song, and one of the best storytelling songs ever made. It tells the story of an old lady who has survived all of life's trials and tribulations and, as her constant all the way through it, made pies. It sounds so simple! The simple things always make me cry the most! It also reminds me of my mom a little, which makes me want to cry even more! Oh my god, this song makes me want to cry foreverrrrr! I know I just said that about Chief, but I lied a little, because this song REALLY makes me want to cry forever. It's all just so vaguely sad and lovely sounding and so full of a life well-lived! Gah!

The little snippets of this woman's life just absolutely kill me.
Did I show you this picture of my nephew, taken at his big birthday surpise at my sister's house last Sunday? This is Monday, and I'm making pies.
Did I show you this picture of my sweetheart, taken of us before the war? Of the Greek and his Italian girl, one Sunday at the shore? 

(followed by this entirely haunting line)

We tied our ribbons to the fire escape. They were taken by the birds who flew home to the country, as  the bombs rained on the world.


Patty then sums up Life in the last line.

You could cry, or die, or just make pies all day. I'm making pies.


Oh, sorry! I was busy sobbing.

Also, if you're into indie blonde British lady singers, there's a link to a live cover of Making Pies by Ellie Goulding & Lissie at the end of the YouTube clip.

3. Useless Desires

Oh dear. What a sad song. It starts with Patty saying goodbye to a place that clearly was not good to her/the narrator of the song. 

Say goodbye to the old street that never cared much for you anyway. Different colored doorways you thought would let you in one day.

Sometimes, you live in a hard place and it treats you hard even if it treats other people nicely. And sometimes you surround yourself with people who treat you hard, too. And sometimes you know you gotta go.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend, I can't make you stay. I can't spend another ten years wishing you would, anyway.

This song is basically a bunch of mournful, beautiful poetry about being in a place you don't want to be and wanting better for yourself. It is heart-breaking.

The sky turns to fire against the telephone wires. And even I'm getting tired of useless desires.

That is a great line.

Oh, Patty.


4. Top of the World




5. You Never Get What You Want

I can't find a video of this song aaanywhere that isn't a cover. Which actually makes me kind of angry. So. I don't know. The best I could do was this widget, even though it only plays a clip. So. I don't know. Just buy it or something, because it's a damn good song. And after all that weeping, I thought it'd be good to end on an angry note. Because who doesn't love some good anger! And this is pretty much as angry as Patty gets.

This song basically tells that person who's a real crankypants who takes out their anger on their significant other and/or other people--listen, STFU. It's not my damn fault you never get what you want, and I'm not going to take the blame for it anymore. In other words, it is a great song to sing along loudly to in the car if you're needing that sort of thing.

I also love how she pronounces so many parts of this song, with this very deliberate kind of twang that doesn't show up in most of her songs. (Although the lady is from Texas, so don't worry, it's no forced kind of twang.)  
You never get what you want, and I don't think it's my fault. You never get what you want, do you, baay-beh?

That bay-beh is so good! And I love the way her voice just cascades down so naturally and wonderfully at the end of every "want" in the chorus. So, so good.

Honorable Mention: Rain

I wasn't going to mention this one because I already had my five, but the animation in this video is just so lovely that I HAD to include it. Darn.

I know you all get the picture by now that Patty can sing some pretty damn sad-sounding songs, and this is yet another one. And when you're not in the mood for it, sometimes it can be a bit much. Like, LISTEN, I GET IT, IT'S RAINING A LOT, OKAY. But when you're feeling sad and are just needing a sad-sounding song? This is the one. I'm serious. You can listen to it on repeat and it'll be so damn comforting (in a sad way) every single time. But it's okay, because she's holding up underneath that shroud. Y'know?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August Goals.

+ Mark a big item off of my bucket list: participate in the Portland Bridge Pedal.

+ There are a few things I'm hoping to buy this month, although we'll see how far my fortunes are able to stretch: I need a new pair of sneakers like whoa. I have one pair and the soles have all fallen out and when I wear them I can feel every stone under my feet. They're basically like wearing worn old Old Navy flip flops, with a cover. These are the things I wear running, biking, hiking, etc. It's really bad. They also stink. I also need a new pair of jeans because mine (again, my one pair) have the inevitable inner-thigh-holes-due-to-fat-thighs thing that happens to every pair of jeans. Sigh. Also, my (one) bra is close to falling apart at the seems, literally. It, also, stinks.

+ On a slightly more fun and certainly less personal note, I will also complete my final class this month for my education masters. I know, I already went to graduation and got hooded and stuff, but there's still this annoying class left to make it "official." To congratulate myself when it's done, I plan to..dun dun dun...BUY MYSELF A BOOKSHELF! YAYYYY NERD! I already have two bookshelves, one large and one small-ish, but as you can tell from that crappy picture in the last entry, I really need another one. My book towers are getting kind of ridiculous. I did have the thought at one point, "Well, I should be minimalist and just go through and donate the books I don't want anymore." This produced approximately three books. So. Yeah, I just can't do it.

+ WEDDING GOALS: I didn't make any wedding goals last month, which was a big fail on my part. We've been so busy that we've hardly thought about wedding stuff, in an actual productive way, in quite awhile. This is all scary because Marriott has our deposit so IT HAS TO HAPPEN. We have to PLAN STUFF, and then, even scarier, PAY FOR IT. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT WERE WE THINKING. Anyway, making goals really helps in a real way with this. SO! This month, I/we will: make a wedding website, send dress ideas to my mom, actually email that wedding planner chick Marriott provides us with, and order Save the Dates.

+ Take the Toyota to the shop. I have been dreading this, but it has to happen. I've been driving with the disconcerting noise it's been making since our car got anonymously hit overnight (thanks, Portland stranger!) for way too long and I just have to do something about it. Hopefully I can afford whatever it is. (Doubtful.)

+ AND THEN, once we know the car is a-okay, take Toby on a yurting trip to the coast! Yayyyyy!

+ ALSO: take my bike to a bike shop to fix the shifting gears problem it's been having, so I can stop having to grit my teeth and mutter crazily to myself, "Jesus, even my BIKE doesn't work!" anytime it freaks out. All while I'm sweating and hipsters are passing me on their secondhand uber hip city bikes.

+ Finish The Omnivore's Dilemma. Start Shame of the Nation.

+ Go berry picking at Sauvie Island.

+ Call some good peeps I haven't called in way too long. This list of peeps could be potentially long, but I'm narrowing it down just for now to: Allie, Zoe, and Sam.

+ Cut down on beer. :\ No, really. I have to do it.

+ Get our trip to the great Northeast for Greg and Andrea's wedding in September all purchased and finalized.

+ Hopefully, kick ass at my second interview at Campfire.

+ Make FOUR new meals.

So, a lot of my goals this month aren't that exciting, and most of them involve money. So again, I really can't guarantee how successful I'll be. But...yay berry picking??

Monday, August 1, 2011

July Goals: Review.

Okay, it's happening. I'm sharing my goals on here. So now at the end/beginning of each month, you will learn some things:

1) More accurate information about what's actually going on in the daily life of Jill;
2) How boring and dorky the goings-on in the daily life of Jill in fact are!

So, you can ignore or read at your pleasure. I also maintain that this fits with the theme of the blog because I REALLY LIKE making these goals. (Also, mostly, I am fed up with Livejournal spam.) In addition to making me feel closer to things I want to accomplish in my life, it also makes me feel like a more authentic teacher when I stress to students the importance of setting goals. Even though I want their goals to be, "Go to college!" and my goals are like, "Get out of your pajamas and go to the farmers' market!" But, you know. Same diff. I will also try to jazz up my goals for the blog by adding in more photographic evidence.

So jumping right in, these were my goals for July.

+ At least once a week, carve out a time to spend a few hours at a local coffee shop to write.
NOT in a local coffeeshop, but
a delicious local beverage,
Half-success. This happened three times, mainly in the beginning of the month--I spent a few hours at Rain or Shine Coffee House, Guapo Comics & Coffee, and the aforementioned Speedboat. I've been plain too busy in the last couple of weeks to make time, though. I mainly wrote blog entries but also started writing A Thing That's Not a Blog Entry, A Thing That I May Submit Somewhere to Something. I mean, I didn't get very far with this Thing, but it's something. I'd like to try to keep doing this as much as I can. Plus, I mean. Local coffee shops are full of delicious things. And I like delicious things. So. Win-win.

+ Run at least three times in addition to continuing to be a biking fiend. 
Another half success. I ran twice, and really I'm surprised I ran at all, since I was pretty consistently tired from 1) biking, or 2) life. So, yay me. I was a really good biking fiend at the beginning of the month, and then had to drive the car a lot both when my dad was visiting, and when I worked a lot at my old job out in the 'burbs. I'm starting to get back into the biking groove but am still lazy sometimes and use the Toyota when I could perfectly well be using the Schwinn instead.

+ Also: complete at least one BIG bike ride.
 Bikes parked at the waterfront
for the beer fest this weekend.
Success, although not a necessarily fun success. I biked to the 'burbs to work once, which was only about a 13 mile ride, so 26ish miles round trip. This isn't TOO terrible, except that almost the entirety of the trip was up and down horrid, horrid hills on horrid, big roads like Barbur and Capitol. Blurgh. The only thing that comforted me was that, while I'm normally passed by throngs of hipster bikers in PDX, the only people that passed me on these roads were old, fit men dressed in serious biking attire. This meant that it was serious business, but most of them looked to be in pain on these hills too, so, I wasn't alone. I had to get off and walk multiple times and my legs felt wobbly the rest of the day and my whole body was drenched in sweat. BUT! After this horrible day, a bunch of the hills in Portland that previously killed me didn't seem AS murderous as they did before (only so-so murderous), and I also strangely now feel the urge to go on MORE horrible long bike rides.

Hamilton Mountain trail in
Beacon Rock State Park.

+ Making this goal for REAL: at LEAST two hikes; write about both.
3/4 success: went on two hikes, one I've done a few times now and already written about. The other one was new, AND we got to do it with the awesome Ellie B., but I haven't written about it yet.

+ Finish two J/YA novels, and start to read The Omnivore's Dilemma.
I'm going to say success, although I'm lucky I said "start to read" since that is very literally what I've done with Mr. Michael Pollan's book. Earlier in the month when my schedule wasn't as hectic, I got to read some great J (juvenile/children's) books as well which I'd like to write about in more detail here soon.

Just a small portion of my towering stacks of J & YA lit
yet to be read.
+ ACTUALLY catch up on all bills, and purchase at least one portion of our flights for my cousin's wedding in September.
Check. Prettymuch.

+ Upload my resume on to EdZapp.
Uh, no. I'm kind of behind the times in terms of applying for real teaching jobs in comparison with other people who were in my program, but I'm actually feeling pretty good about where I'm at.

+ Get caught up on my National Geographics.
Part of the Very Messy Desk.
Check! This took up a big chunk of my reading time this month, but it was way worth it. Some of my favorite articles included the disturbing one on child brides, Bill McKibben's piece on the possibilities/impossibilities of China going green, the upsetting one on the state of Myanmar, and interesting article written by a former US soldier returning to Baghdad as a civilian, and finally the article that I talked to everyone about like a nerd, Food Ark

+ Apply to volunteer, and hopefully start volunteering, at Outside In.
Half-success. Applied, went to an information session, and chatted one-on-one with the volunteer coordinator. I really want to get involved with the Employment & Education Resource Center, but a potential job I have a second interview for might conflict with the availability they need, so we're waiting to see.

+ Make at least TWO new meals. 
So for those new to reading my goals, this is the deal: almost every recipe I make is from Budget Bytes. Her food photos always look a hundred times better than mine, but I always take pictures of what I make anyway, as some sort of documentation for myself. OH also, so I can pretend to be a food blogger (even though I'm really not). This month I was able to more adequately afford groceries than in the previous few months (fighting my way out of horrifying money issues! yay!), so I actually made three new meals. Go me!

#1: Sriracha chicken, along with garlic parmesan roasted cauliflower. I had been wanting to make this recipe for forever, and it was good, although I think I baked the chicken for a little too long and it was a little dry. So of course we ate it with some blue cheese and the problem was quickly solved. However, it was my first time ever making any breaded chicken strip type thing, and I think I did a decent job. It's a messy, and somewhat wasteful, but somewhat fun, process. Also, the cauliflower was super easy (especially since I cheated and just used a bag of frozen cauliflower instead of fresh) and DELICIOUS. So cheesy and good. Cauliflower is the best.

#2: Sloppy joe's plus. The 'plus' part is substituting lentils for some of the meat (don't worry, there's still meat!). Which I actually thought worked quite well. This had a classic sloppy joe's type taste, and I thought the peppers worked really well in it, and the best part was that it made a really decent amount of food and lasted Kathy and I at LEAST three or four meals. 

#3. Huevos rancheros. Yeah, so my picture really doesn't look like hers with this one. Hah! The best part of this was that for the pico de gallo I used a huge yummy heirloom tomato from New Seasons. It was so pretty. And also really juicy and soft and hard to chop so maybe not the actual best choice for pico de gallo. But...yeah, it was pretty. And Walla Walla onions are in season. Overall, this was obviously good because how could it not be, but there was so much prep work I probably wouldn't do it again. I also really need to work on my egg flipping skills.

Overall, it was a very busy, but very good, month. Oh, summer, you crazy vixen.

5 Tori Amos songs.

Because every now and then you need a reminder of those crazy ladies whose lovely voices and melodies and lyrics got you through high school and taught you it was okay to be weird and dramatic and, once again, weird. Am I right or AM I RIGHT?!

There are so many things to love about Tori Amos, from her wild curly red locks to her crazy eyes. OH, and also, her music. Her twisted, mysterious, piano-driven music with those cryptic lyrics. Who knows what any of them mean? Who cares!

Also, the fact that PS22 loves her is just an added bonus.

(Although really let's talk about how amazing this video is. The teacher is SO HAPPY IT'S HEART-MELTING. And it's okay Tori, if PS22 were singing my songs, I would weep too! And if that wasn't enough, you can watch PS22 sing Winter. WINTER, PEOPLE! IN SANTA HATS!)

So, in my tradition of 5 Songs posts, here are a random sampling of some of my favorite Tori songs to get lost in nostalgia to.

1. Cornflake Girl

OH MAN THIS SONG IS SO BADASS. Especially when she starts singing about that man with the loaded gun who thinks he knows so much, THINKS HE KNOWS SO MUCH, YEAH. (Seriously, you have to listen to the song until it gets to this point.) Who exactly this man with the loaded gun is is a little less certain, but I certainly feel plenty pissed off at him anyway whenever I listen to this song. And then the way she bangs on that piano after this! Such a great way to focus my teenage rage! I never was a cornflake girl, bitch!

2. Happy Phantom

Talk about Little Earthquakes is so often centered around Silent All These Years, Precious Things, or Winter, and while it is completely valid to obsess over these songs, this little diddy is often forgotten. It's one of those wonderful little Tori gems that can actually make you want to dance. Don't worry, it's still a little creepy! But, you know, overall happy sounding. Even though it's about dying and being a phantom and stuff. But, whatever. I also just love so many of the lyrics in here, whatever they mean. Some of my favorites:

And I will never need umbrellas in the rain
I'll wake up in strawberry fields every day
And the atrocities of school I can forgive
The Happy Phantom has no right to bitch.


So if I die today I'll be the Happy Phantom
And I'll go wearing my naughties like a jewel
They'll be my ticket to the universal opera
There's Judy Garland taking Buddha by the hand
And then these seven little men got up to dance
They say Confucius does his crossword with a pen
I'm still the angel to a girl who hates to sin.

Naughties like a jewel! Confucius does his crossword with a pen! Such amazing lines!

3. Raspberry Swirl

So let's be honest. The Choirgirl Hotel--with Tori splayed on the cover art like she's trying to claw her way out of the picture--kinda scared me when I bought it, and it still kinda scares me now. At the same time, however, there is something intensely satisfying about singing along to the line, "I am not your seƱorita." And while "if you want inside her world, boy, you better make her raspberry swirl," does indeed sound like the dirtiest line ever written, it is, again, still pretty fun. I just love any lady who can make a song like this, and a song like Jackie's Strength, all on the same album.

4. Jackie's Strength

Well, since I mentioned it. To be honest I forgot this song even existed until I YouTubed Raspberry Swirl and this popped up in the sidebar. Oh, Tori. Years after Little Earthquakes, you still possess the ability to combine your lilting voice with pretty tinkling piano to create these overwhelmingly sad and lovely and dramatic songs that are so perfect. To hear Tori singing, So I show you some more, and I learn what black magic can do, is to pretty much hear the essence of Tori.

5. Merman

I couldn't decide which song to include as the 5th one--too many choices!--so I'm sticking this one in because I think it's relatively unknown and is just plain pretty. I love the just-slightly-out-of-sync singing in the chorus, so perfect, and this: Who could ever say you're not simply wonderful? If there is a nicer line sung any lovelier by anyone else ever, I would like to know. So I can properly get weepy over that, too.

As a final note, Kathy and I have been discussing singing Precious Things at karaoke somewhere for a long time, since we have a good tradition going of singing the most awkward songs possible at karaoke whenever we go. (We have proudly been loudly heckled as being a "buzzkill"!) So watch out, PDX: somewhere sometime soon, you will know what doesn't make you Jesus. Look forward to it.