This is unacceptable.

Guys, I feel like I haven't properly blogged in seven years.

It's only been a few weeks, but when you're on vacation (for me anyway) time slows to a deathly crawl. Which is great.

I just got back to the states yesterday and am ridiculously sick, which is typical with me and international flights, but I plan on spending tonight resting, tomorrow sorting affairs and being a big girl, and the next day is all for blogging/editing photos/painting if I feel like it.

So, I have a ton of things to blog about, plus I'm giving my blog a makeover. Just...not right now.


oh dear.

I really want to give more of an update, but I don't intend to spend my vacation on Tobias's computer making long, well thought out blog entries, so I will just summarize my past few days:

-Sweden is just as beautiful in March as it was in July. Just, chillier.
-I have already seen a few friends and made a few new ones too! I love my Swedish friends.
-I am still really horrible at speaking and understanding Swedish.
- "Sluta snackar om mig!" I was taught this phrase to use when others are speaking Swedish.
-I saw a Viking rune stone. It was so beautiful I almost cried!!!
-Tomorrow I go to the Old Town, the oldest part of Stockholm. Im so excited.
-I tried Swedish milk. It's not disgusting like American milk is.
-I can drink black coffee now! I prefer not to, but it has a very interesting taste anyway.
-I, unaware of Swedish 220v, burnt a large piece of hair off by accident with my curling iron.
-But you can't tell.

A real update might come soon, but not before I take a BILLION pictures with my new digital camera!!!!!!


The Old Dutch Store.

There's a cute little shop in Salt Lake City called the Old Dutch Store.  They sell all kinds of food stuffs from Scandinavia, Holland and Germany, and they have a great assortment of chocolate, plus the full deli which features delicious sausages, lunch meats, cheeses, salads (such as German potato salad and pickle salad) and they also have novelty items.  I still have my Sweden bumper sticker I bought two years ago.  Been waiting to get a car to put it on. HAHA!

Other than me, most of the people who shop here are immigrants from Europe. Ever since I started going, multiple customers have spoken to me in Dutch, presuming that was my tongue.  My stupid stares and smiles of idiocy must've made them think super highly of their nation's youth.  However, when I voice that I'm not Dutch, they always dismiss it like, "Oh! yes you are."  or, "Well  you sure look it!" One man was nice enough to say, "You look like the prettiest Dutch girl!" My mother insists that most of her roots are in fact Dutch, so maybe these people are onto something.

Still, it might be a little hard to call me Dutch with my new hair color.  Which by the way I am LOOOOVING!

I finally got around to changing my blogger profile picture and all, because seeing the blond made me kind of sad. I don't miss it, it's a lot of maintenance and I absolutely loathe looking like any member of my family, but still, it had a good run and it did a good run on my hair.  Heh.


Inside, next to the deli where I get a delicious thuringer and dill havarti sandwich probably way more often than I care to admit, (with pickle and mustard, on a croissant) there's a fridge full of drinks.  They have the more exotic things like lingonberry juice, but I always just go for a can of Coke.  I don't drink soda often and for some reason it tastes better when canned.  Anyway, the last time I was in there I noticed that on the side of the fridge, someone's plastered a ton of drawings OF the Old Dutch store.  Definitely smaller children, but you could make out the windmill sitting on top of the building.   The owner is always talking about her grandchildren, but the idea that the drawings are theirs is merely a theory.

Still, I saw them, and the seed was planted.

An hour later:

Disclaimer--I am NOTTTTTTTT an architectural painter.  I get way too caught up in the geometry of it and then I go into perfectionism mode and it just gets really ugly.  No.  I wanted to stay away from harsh blacks and loud colors, kind of what I'm known for, because the Old Dutch Store seems so soft with its pastels and brown lettering.  I gave in and darkened the picture in some spots, because painting without black is horrifying territory for me.  I was going for a whimsical, dreamy look--I think I may have hit it!!!

I can't wait to give this to the owner today.  It feels nice surprising (almost) strangers with something you've made.  It also feels nice to paint a picture of a place I love a lot and consider one of the best places in my city!


Rest in Peace, Davy Jones.

I know I'm really behind when it comes to these things.  The other day I was ecstatic when I saw a marathon of the Monkees, a show I watched religiously in my early teen years.  During the marathon, Derik came home and asked if the marathon was on because of "the death" to which I responded, "Don't be ridiculous."  Two seconds worth of googling and yes, it was true.....Davy Jones passed away from a heart attack.

I was shocked, and immediately heartbroken.  

My childhood was not one chock full of happy fluffy memories, but the Monkees were a proud obsession I had for years on end (many of my classmates can attest to this.)  I went through a "hippie" phase, and I watched and quoted the Monkees daily.  Jones was not only the "pretty boy", he was also the charismatic Englishman who carried the more awkward bandmates into stardom.  His ravenous fangirls in the day matched Bieber's.  Davy Jones was one of the iconic figures that stands out in my mind when I think of my few happy days as a youngster.

The episodes came on really early (like five am) and my mom used to record them on a VHS tape.  We had several labeled "Monkees" and we were even lucky enough to video-record a VH-1 made movie about the pre-fab four.  Ariel and I watched hours of the show while our parents left us alone for drinking and partying and playing in their band.  With all that time spent together sleeping in the living room floor, covered in blankets, laughing and in good company, I considered Davy (along with the others) a good friend. 

This video was from an episode where Davy's grandfather comes from England to take Davy back with him.  He's unimpressed with what Davy's life has turned into (being part of a band) and this scene happened when Davy took his last walk on the beach he lived beside, thinking about how it would feel to be separated from his bandmates and friends.  Ariel loved this episode--she was a huge fan of Davy's, along with my mother, who was an original fangirl--re-watching this made me tear up at the memory.

I regret that I don't know more about Davy in his post-Monkee years.  He himself said "The Monkees are like the mafia.  You can't ever get out."  66 is really, really young, but Jones had the privilege of an action-packed life.  Still, it's really hard to acknowledge that now he's gone.  I didn't know this would affect me this much; just a testament to his personality, I guess.

You will be missed, Mister Jones.


About being normal.

It's been no secret lately that I've gone from the headstrong and outspoken "normal" me to more of a neurotic, nervous shell who has panic attacks and can't seem to ever de-claw and unwind.  An obvious part of any de-stressing regime is learning to accept the things you can't change.  I've been pondering over this all night (while unwisely driving around in a blizzard with watery eyes) and I've come to an impass.

It would be awesome if this was an internal problem all the way: if I knew that I personally was just the source of too much unbridled emotion, I would work on restraining that and expending it healthier ways.  If I knew I was too bossy, or too mean, or too aloof, I would work on changing those things for the sake of it being my fault.  Whenever I do notice something I don't like about myself I either work to change it, or work on accepting it (my ridiculous teeth or big shoe size) so either way I'm being productive about the problem.

In other words, though I have my "off" days I'm in general always trying to better myself to become the person I want to be--not what anybody else wants from me, but what I want for me.

Here's the impass:  the underlying reason for my insecurity and the festering wound that was opened, (then lit on fire and had salt poured into it in 2011) has little to do with me, and the old phrase "don't worry about what you can't control" doesn't really work when the issues are with your family, and it's your entire life that's "stressing" you.

Though it's appreciated each and every time, I get so sick of hearing people tell me how strong I am.  And how strong I've had to be since a very early age.  They say it as though it was a choice, by the books I should be a drug case or a single parent on welfare and medication and with several children, or worse, dead, from either my own hand or mixing with the wrong crowd thanks to how I was raised.  I am aware that how I overcame was a choice, but it doesn't feel like a choice.  To other people, maybe they could've taken the victim route, but I had no intention of doing that.  I still don't, and I know I never will.  That doesn't make it a choice that I feel good about.  What the hell was I supposed to do? I got beaten, screamed at, I had to jump in between family fights, I got starved and abandoned.  Seriously, what the hell was I supposed to do other than leave?  The word "choice" may be true, but that certainly doesn't make me feel empowered.

And every memory I could have is tainted with another bad memory.  Any time I see snow, I think of the cozy winters we spent at home cutting our own Christmas trees and eating snow cream.  And I think of my father, mercilessly beating us (his wife and kids) and destroying our presents and bellowing at the top of his lungs about how Jesus is a fairy tale.  Every time I see a puppy and squeal with happiness I think of my dad punting my mother's dog into the air, or stomping his dog to death.  Every time I think about the visits I had with my aunt or my grandmother I get a feeling of sadness because my parents cut ties with them while I was still so young. And neither of them got to know me, or I them, as well as I would've liked, for reasons I couldn't control.

I have a lot to be thankful for now and I'm thankful, unbelievably so, every day, but my goal is never to fit in with the majority of people--though I guess I do a pretty good job at it.  I certainly seem normal, but you'll never hear of me spending the day with my sister or going shopping with my mom, or visiting my grandparent's property.  My family is not a part of my life and even with the dysfunctional families my friends have, their family is a core part of their strength and existence.  

What I have instead of a family, are a very spread-out, intimate network of people whom I love and consider family.  Sometimes I see these people, some of them I don't get to see but we talk occasionally, and some of us don't talk but maybe once or twice a year, but our bond is just as strong.  I'd not trade any of them for anything, and in a lot of ways they have benefits that family doesn't.  But still, THEY have families (most of them are on great terms with their parents) and so even though they make it known I'm no stranger, I am not their blood relations, either.  You can only be invited to Thanksgiving dinner so many times before you start to feel like a charity case.

And like I say, I have no intention of TRYING to fit in and that's why I don't like calling anyone my sister, brother, mother or father (whatever role they've stepped into) though I'm getting better about it, because I've come to find that some people like hearing that I think so highly of them.  I just associate those family terms with people who are NOT a part of my life, and calling people that seems so superficial.  Still, regardless of what I call them, my intentions are never to fill the void of shitty family with a faux-family.  I also have no need to pretend like my family doesn't deserve to be called horrible.  They do.  My days of wanting acceptance from my biological family are long over.  Not having it still hurts sometimes, but I make no moves to change their perception of me, because as I am right now is nowhere near good enough for them.

So I have a shitty family.  I have negative memories that carry with into the most mundane things, because apparently I have the memory of an elephant.  I can't change those memories, I can't change my family, and while I'M content with who I am, I'm very rarely content/at ease/at peace with the trauma that 1) plagued my early life and 2) got re-thrown in my face less than a year ago.  It was bad enough to live through and get over that once.  Twice is no easier.  In many ways it's worse, but I'm thankful for the support that I do have, and all of my friends who are my family.

But how am I supposed to overcome something so entirely out of my control to change or forget?


Oh, an interview! But I'm not even made up yet.

I got this nifty thing from Delightfully Tacky which is one of my favorite blogs to read! I have seen it circulating around but have been too lazy/busy to actually pursue writing an entry. Here I am, awake at 2am, so FULL SPEED AHEAD!!

The rules for this survey thingy are:

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them.

A photo, eh?
Since I have no makeup and again, it's 2am, I'm opting for a high-contrast cheap photobooth effect via webcam. You love it.

Eleven random things about me....

1.  I can mirror-write and read effectively.  As a kid I got a little obsessed over my left-handedness and researched the crap out of it, until there was nothing left to research. I got particularly involved with learning about Da Vinci, who could write in two opposite directions at the same time. WAY harder than it sounds.  Though I never mastered that, I did master writing full pages with my right hand.  I could probably still pull it off if I needed to.  I have no idea why I got so involved with this as a kid, but left-handedness is still a subject of interest with me and I can name twenty to thirty famous left-handers off the top of my head.

2.  My great-grandmother on my father's side was notoriously known as a witch.  Locals said that she used to read fortunes with a regular deck of playing cards. She successfully (or I have been told by several friends of the family) predicted my aunt Martha's death at 33 years old.  Before I was born, my older sister Susan had an experience with something she referred to as the ghost of this old woman.   I never found out about this until 2011, years after I had my own experience.  I was about eleven at the time.

3.  As a child I looked up to Mr. Spock more than any adult in my life.  I admired his lack of emotion and his deep thirst for information.  As an adult, I still admire both qualities, but I see how important it was for me back then to have a figure that didn't run their entire life entirely based on their raging emotions.

4.  I can't stand ketchup.  This is non-negotiable.  It does not enter my house.  We do not speak of it.  I will never have to smell it on my husband's mouth.  No ketchup allowed.  The end.  If I had a religion, ketchup and the Freemasons would probably be my equivalent of the Antichrist.

5.  Most of the music I listen to is ambient or soundtrack.  I write a lot (that's when I listen to music the most) and I find that lyrics or a lot of tempo change even, can distract my work.  So I put on something that's soothing, haunting, and stimulating all at once.  One of my newer indulges is the Vampire Diaries soundtracks because they're versatile and so emotional, which is a lot like my writing itself.  My go-to classic is the District 9 track, in particular this song which never fails to choke me up, put a lump in my throat, et cetera.  I know composers of movies by name, and sometimes during a new movie I'll blurt out "THAT'S SO-AND-SO!!! AND THE NAME OF THIS SONG IS SO-AND-SO!"  because I've likely heard the song before seeing the movie.

6. Speaking of movies, I have a hard time watching them.  I used to think it was because of my super short attention span, but I realized after watching the last hour or so of Apocalypto, it's because I ingest the movies and really get my heart in them.  Even the really stupid ones.  I am very empathic and I think that movies, with their visual sensory overload, really drive me into some imagination land.  So, for movies like Apocalypto which have sad or melancholy plots and endings, I can get really really depressed for days, even a week at a time.  I have to limit movie-watching.

7.  I am really smell-sensitive. I'm always the person who smells things first.   This can be pretty problematic (I think 70% of my hatred for ketchup is tied to its nasty smell) but I enjoy NOTHING like a good, high-quality hand-dipped incense.  I think it's probably one of my favorite things on earth.

8. I like dogs AND cats. I don't understand why people HAVE to have a preference.  I also like many other animals.  I'm not limited in what I like.  People seem shocked to find that I have a genuine love for both dogs and cats. It's like they expect someone who owns two cats to automatically hate dogs.  Um, no?

9.  I'm a second soprano.  I have been in multiple choirs, starting in foster care (church choir) and moving into women's choir in college.  There's really nothing more beautiful than a choir, as far as sound is concerned.  I would like to get back into choir singing again, but unfortunately most "community" choirs are church choirs and I'm obviously not interested.  I think the happiest I ever was while singing in a choir was this one time in Tennessee, I was like 17 and scared to death because we were the ONLY white family in a black church and the customs, sounds, everything was freaking me out, and mid-song this older black lady yanked on my shoulder and said, "Girl, you can SANG!!! You got the pipes of a black girl!"  I had to laugh, but I realized later just how much of a compliment she meant by it.  It was really boosting to my confidence.

Side note, here's a song we sang one year in college (my favorite of course) I can still remember the lyrics.
The choir singing isn't us. I WISH I had that recorded!  Gyorgy Orban's Mass No. 6

10.  I have huge feet. My dad used to call me "clementine." By third grade I'd already grown out of my mothers size 8 shoes.  These days I wear a 10-11.  I used to have severe issues over this but nowadays I don't really notice it, and neither does anyone else.  (I thank getting rid of some snobby girl friends who remarked about them for years helped.)   In fact, I love my feet.  They help me adventure!!

11. I can do a lot of accents really well. I learned my mafia accent by actually talking to members of the mafia who lived in New Jersey.  (They LOVE Southern accents---who knew?)

Danielle's 11 questions:

1. If money, schooling or time was no obstacle, what career would you choose?
Well duh, writing. But I'd probably expand that to get involved with movies in some way. I'm nosy like that.  Maybe an actress, or a scriptwriter.

2. What’s the one thing you look forward to every day?
Being alive?  No, seriously.  I'm ridiculously humble sometimes and grateful to even just go out to the mailbox and pick up the bills. THAT'S RIGHT, BILLS!!! To be more specific I'd have to say I love spending time with my kitties (totally not crazy cat lady right now) and I love exercising and gaming.

3. What is your number one, all-time, favorite blog?
I....am so not answering this........
I don't even HAVE a favorite.  But my topsofalltime are in my blogroll. Lazy, I know, get over it.

4. Biggest online pet peeve?
It's hard to say.  "Online" is pretty ambiguous.  If you're talking about how people act online, there's not a lot that bothers me about the trolls.  I just ignore them and find them pretty pathetic. I am judgy in that way.  If someone's obviously trolling, in one way or another they expect a response or attention, and shrugging it off seems like the only logical thing to do.  What are you supposed to do, emotionally invest in it?

What really gets annoying especially in the blogsophere and especially with military-related blogs (military wives and moms) I see a lot of passive-aggressive religious stuff and it grinds my gears.  Most of the time it's more ignorance than anything else, but I don't really accept ignorance as an excuse for most things in life.  Like, for example, just today I saw this on someone's blog entry:

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
-1 John 4:8

In a backwards way, that's saying that people can't love unless they know God.  How infuriating of a claim to make, and expect others to "respect" that? Yeah no, I don't think so.  I don't read blogs to read people's scriptures. I want to know about travel, fun, adventure, life.  I don't want to be preached to. I could just as easily turn this blog into a daily rant on atheism, but I don't.   Annnnnnnyway *gets down off soapbox*

5. What is your all-time favorite book?
Odd Thomas (though I can barely read it anymore, too sad) or Something Wicked This Way Comes.

6. What would your “last meal” be?
Something Mediterranean, preferably with salmon and lots of feta.

7. Do you believe in love at first sight?
*Spock voice* That would be illogical, Captain.

8. What would your ideal Sunday morning consist of?
Rain, overcast cloudiness, an open window with my cats in it, incense burning and good music playing, and a lot of writing, coffee, and then shower, yoga, and plans to see the people I love.  All of them.  Which is hard. They're quite spread out.  But this is "ideal" right?

and yes, I'm godless, and yes I do love.  Just thought I'd reiterate that........

9. Why do you blog?
It's just nice to have your own little corner of the web, which is all I intend to do really.  I started this blog to document my 25 before 25 list, but so far it's been more of sharing the things I love and love to do! And that's fine too.  I'm not picky.  :)

10. If you had to choose one color to wear forever, what would you pick?
Black. I'm boring, I know.

11. What is your all-time favorite band?
Led Zeppelin.
And before you get started, they were my favorite band at age 14. My mom hated them, but my dad liked them, so I told mom to buzz off and me and dad had us some jams.

Just like Elizabeth, I refuse to make up new questions.  These are really good and I'm lazy and I'm so attention-deficit that this thing took me like an hour to power through, so I'm not going to torture myself further.

Happy March, everybody!