Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

I've really gotten into cooking, Blog. And by "into cooking", I mean I've hit my mom up for a couple staple recipes so I can stop spending so much money on my lunch every day. About a week ago, I made enough chili to feed a family of 17 (or 6). It's delicious, but I am just thankful for Thanksgiving (appropriately enough) so I had a chance to change up my food intake. One thing about being single and on your own is that any sort of cooking you do means that you are eating the same thing for at least a week. Good thing I'm a fan of chili. It's been 8 days and I'm still eating it.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, guess who I got to hang out with...

This poser.
Why did no one tell me that nieces are the shit? Because they are. They totally are. You give me someone else's baby, and I don't care. You give me my niece and it's on!
It certainly is on, bitches.
Unfortunately, she's only 10 months old as of yesterday, so there's not a lot to write about when it comes to the funny things she's done or said. Basically she's just at the point that babies get to where they wobble around next to a coffee table and hit it like they're running an unruly courtroom. That and I've had many extensive conversations with her that consist of the words "bah, bah, bah". 

"Bah bah bah" translates to "You're in my personal bubble Aunt Sam".
I have to say she tugged at my heart strings when it was time for me to leave North Dakota on Saturday, what with her crawling after me as I made my way out the door. I think we bonded, Blog. It feels good. Granted, her memory of me will probably have faded by the time Christmas rolls around, so I'll have to start from scratch with making a good impression. But it wasn't too hard to do this past weekend. Maybe I will bring her gifts of pickles and my hair since she seems to like both of those things.

And of course, we can't forget that my grandparents are now great-grandparents. Yeah, they were surprised too.

Where did all these babies come from?
Turns out my niece not only is awesome, she's also massive compared to her second cousins. At least she can pull off a santa hat like nobody's business.

Other things happened over this Thanksgiving weekend besides my niece, but she's obviously the highlight. Other happenings include:

1. Putting a good 800 miles on Kerin's car for her. I know I should thank you for lending me your car Kerin, and I am grateful. But you're welcome for giving Sheila (I've named her) a taste of the great expanse known as ND for a second time. And this time she went even further west into Cooperstown. Not the one in New York.

2. Finding out that a flight from Minot to Minneapolis is extremely expensive.

3. Finding out that a train ride from Minot to Minneapolis is much cheaper and more romantic.

4. This song. And a special thanks to my sister-in-law Heather for attempting to sing it to me in the back seat of the car by simply going "Sail! ERRRR.":

5. My mom's dream of mixing fancy cocktails coming true with this recipe that she couldn't wait to try out for the holiday weekend.

6. My Saturday night return consisting of way too much sushi and a martini that I drank as a tribute to Heather. Drinking a martini in the city was something that she wanted to do, but could not. Heather does not live in a city. But she is married to this guy:

Who me?
And that makes me happy because we're all related. Every last one of us.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Summary

If I were into Facebook statuses, which I'm not, I'd post the following, Blog:

Laundry done, clothes folded, chili made. Hair colored, sheets changed, refrigerator stocked. All in all it's been a productive weekend... and I only started producing seven hours ago.

Everything else that happened this weekend took place on a couch. It's an amazing feeling to take a Saturday and do absolutely nothing. And by absolutely nothing, I really do mean, absolutely nothing.

Upward and onward.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Finally Happened

Well Blog, it finally happened. After over a year of cringing at the thought and the likely possibility of it happening, it finally took place. I'm honestly incredibly surprised that it hadn't happened sooner, or even on a more regular basis. I think the fates have been kind to me over the past year what with misaligning my morning walk to a timed perfection. But this morning, they finally decided to put me on a path that undeniably lead to the moment of awkwardness and intrigue that I have anticipated since last fall.

I finally ended up in an elevator with my ex.

I mean, there's got to be some sort of destiny at work here since my ex has been my ex for over a year now and has worked a mere floor below me the entire time. Sure I've seen glances of him here and there, but it has been on anything but a regular basis. And for the amount of time people around here spend in the elevator lobby waiting for one of the four to bring us to our respective floors, it's a goddamned miracle that this hasn't happened sooner.

It's also a goddamned miracle that I was nearly done with, for lack of a better term, a walk of shame from that guy's apartment. You know, Blog. That guy I've been dating. He happens to live incredibly close to skyway access and therefore my workplace. I happened to unexpectedly spend the night last night, because that's what you do from time to time when you date that guy.

Nothing like running into your ex and then having to ride 10 floors up in an elevator with him as you wear the same clothes you wore the day before without any make up on and an entire half hour of your day already behind you. That's right. I had been out of bed for half an hour at that point. Terrific.

At least I dressed cute yesterday.

At least I had had a terrific time with that guy last night.

At least this is a tangible confirmation that I really don't care what my ex thinks of me. I may have looked like shit, but it doesn't matter. And here's where I try to extrapolate on that, but I care so little about the entire situation that I can't even think of anything to say about it. Everything that there is to say has already been said.

All that's left is the fact that I need to shower something fierce. That and a special thanks to Kerin for bringing in a shirt for me to wear so I didn't look exactly like I did  yesterday. This is what friends are for, Blog. Take note.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rules Are Being Broken

Blog, I was just looking you over and I noticed that my biggest tags are "Blogging" "Drinking" and "Family". I guess at least one of those is redeemable, so I've got that much going for me.

Maybe I should try to find something else to blog about besides the act of blogging itself. And maybe I shouldn't be drunk while I do it. At least I have a family that has no idea how much they are mentioned on the internet.

I've broken my irrational rule of posting strictly once a day. For some reason I feel like multiple posts can come off as needy. Like I'm all "Look at me, look at me! No seriously, look. I did stuff today. I DID STUFF TWICE."

I'm going to have to get over that irrational rule if I'm ever going to get anywhere with anything.

I Don't Think I Even Like Oysters; Nonetheless...

How silly of me to be thinking on the bus ride into work today that I had nothing to write about to you, Blog. No sooner had I arrived at my cubicle this morning, my long-faced supervisor asked me if I had heard. I hadn't, but I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Time to freak out about job security.

At least this time they decided to surprise us with the news instead of notify us a week before anything actually happened. I only lost my appetite for a couple hours this morning until I was reassured that once again, my position is safe. I have once again avoided being laid off.

However, this whole experience of feeling like I'm going to lose my job twice in the span of one year is not for me. My response to my supervisor this morning was made with teary eyes and a statement that blatantly summed up how I no longer have any desire to work here. It's not worth it. Online education is a fad that has come and gone. Everyone knew it all along that the self motivation required to sustain a student through an online degree program is hard to come by. Retention isn't in the cards for online school. Or maybe it is, but I just am not innovative enough to see it at this point.

The best and worst part of this is that I don't know where to go from here, but I know I get a chance to discover it. Once again the world has become my oyster; really it was mine all along. I seem to have briefly forgotten that since I last returned from Europe. I had goals that ended up fizzling away and I didn't bother to replace them. I don't like that. I'm going to have to take some sort of action here, even if it is small, so I can feel like I'm actually worth something in my day to day life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle... Again

I wanted to make a point to post today, Blog, for the sheer sake of having something that is time stamped with today's date. There's really not much to say outside of the fact that I really need to crack down on my line memorizing if I'm going to be kicking ass and taking names tomorrow night at Huge Theater. I'm in a pretty good spot, don't get me wrong, but I want to lock it in. Polish it up. Make the most of it. "It" being the half a script I am currently memorizing only for the other half of it to be improvised by someone I haven't met yet.

Anyway, there's that, and then there's the time traveling I did last night when I stepped into the Jungle and back into 2006. Five years ago, I started working there. Two years ago I stopped. Last night, I came back. While some things have changed, it for the most part is the same old Jungle that welcomed me to my life in Minneapolis. The lights were dim, the coffee was brewed, the patrons were old, and everything had tassles attached one way or another. There was a point where I found myself literally hugging the concession stand, because that's how I communicate my elation to inanimate locations. I cleaned the cappuccino machine, I counted the money. I poured wine, I described cookies. I rang the intermission bell, I peeked into the theater to see the end of the show right before the lights went down for the evening...

There are so many memories I have there.

Also, I am obsessed. It doesn't always happen where I like a song enough to listen to it on repeat. This is one of those songs:

I fear if I don't get this under control soon, I'm going to end up hating it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Little Brother Text Message: Part Deux

Blog, I couldn't help but be tickled this evening when I received a text from my brother. That never happened when he was overseas. It's just another perk of him being back stateside. What tickled me even more was that I happened to be eating a delicious meal at Red Lobster with that guy I've been dating. You know, Blog; the one who is also stateside. (This stateside thing is turning out to be incredibly convenient on all fronts. I mean Europe is great, but Jesus, it's far away.)

Why was I so tickled by the seemingly mundane fact that I was at Red Lobster when I received this text you ask? Because the last time my brother texted me I also happened to be enjoying a delicious meal at Red Lobster of course! And just like last time this occurred, I'd like to relay to you, Blog, a brief (and accurate) synopsis of what went down on my crappy phone's screen o' communication.

Ian: Hey! I was in Minneapolis earlier today. Then I left. Now I'm in St. Louis. Uggggghhh.

Me: OMG! Was it for a layover? Mom told me you're getting Heather's car. You should take a detour and come through here.

(Note: Apparently the Air Force was only able to get Heather's car from Italy to St. Louis. Ian's picking up their slack on that one by driving it back to Minot, I guess.)

Ian: Yeah I'd say it was about a 10 minute layover. I think I'm going to go to Kansas City and then up 29. I don't know the other way through Minneapolis. I'd probably get lost then kidnapped.

Me: Oh ok. Kidnapped is no good. The last time I texted you I was at Red Lobster. Guess where I am now!!!!

Ian: Long John Silvers!!! (I'll just stick with sea food)


Ian: O!   M!   God!!!!! What are the odds?!?!?!?!? Let me call my bookie!!! One order of clam strips for the lady!!!!

Me: Haha! It's good to have you back in the oooo essss ehhhhh.

Ian: If you're lookin for me you can find me in the oil fields frack-in!!!!! YEEEEEEEEHOOOOEOEOOOOOOWWWWWWW.

Me: 15 dollars an hour at Taco Bell!!!!!!

Blog, I don't expect you to get those last couple lines, so I'll just say we were referencing North Dakota's oil boom that is causing things there to be basically the opposite of anywhere else in the country as far as this "land of opportunity" goes. It's not only novel for me to receive text messages from my brother, it's also novel to see North Dakota getting national media attention for something besides flooding for once.

Anyway, as I stated earlier this week, my brother's back. I'm happy about it. After all, he's the only person in this world who had pretty much the same childhood I had. I've got to make the most of that relationship, you know?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Theater is a Safer Bet Than Gambling

So I tried my hand at gambling this weekend, Blog, and I failed miserably.

By "fail" I don't mean I lost tons of money. No. I really only ended up losing about four bucks. I failed because I didn't take risks. As we know, gambling only pays off if you take risks... if it pays off at all. Since I was so staunchly reluctant to insert my precious dollar bills into the machines that were full of chance and numbers and lights, the pay off I experienced was non-existant. Instead I found myself annoyed by the confusion I felt when trying to figure out the nature of the so-called penny slot. I also was experiencing a lot of defeat when it came to loss after loss after loss. After that third loss, I threw my towel in. I don't like not having any control over machines; especially over machines that have a high flash quota about them.

I did find some entertainment in watching a game of blackjack though. However by the time I had gotten to that point in the evening, the smoke that hung in the heavy casino air had started to give me a headache and I had consumed just enough wine to make me sleepy.

Wow. I'd do great in Vegas.

Luckily, the guy I'm dating (yes, I'm actually dating a guy; a real guy who is not six time zones ahead of me at all times and who has a general understanding for things like the horrors Michele Bachmann has to offer our country) was ready to turn in at that point as well, despite his penchant for signing "hit" and "stand" to an overweight yet charming dealer.

I must admit there was part of me that wanted to let loose with some cash and see what I could do. But the timing that this trip to the casino had with things like rent, bills, and when I'm next paid couldn't have been worse. That, and I can't get over the fact that gambling to me is just a form of giving my money away. Granted, I'm giving it away to a Native American culture that has suffered unfairly for hundreds of years at the hands of my very own white ancestors. It's still hard to part with; especially if I'm just getting a chance to hit some lit up buttons and listen to creepy noises reminiscent of a circus in return.

So that was my failed trip to the casino, Blog. Maybe if there is ever a next time in my future for an "opportunity" like this, I'll put myself out there a little more. Maybe casinos can teach me life lessons in risk-taking. But for now, I'm happy with the four bucks I wasted and the several hands of blackjack I witnessed.

In other news, I'm performing this weekend at Huge Theater's "Off Book" production where I am forced to memorize one half of a scene while the other half is improvised by a scene partner who I am to meet mere minutes before we go on together! I'm nervous, excited, scared, and elated that I have a chance to experience this weird and completely original form of theater. This has absolutely nothing to do with casinos outside of the fact that I'm taking a huge risk. The biggest thing is that I know with this risk, I'll receive a great payback not in monetary amounts, but in the satisfaction I will get for making an ass out of myself on stage in front of a paying audience. I'd like to see the opportunity to cash that in at Treasure Island...

And thus Samantha proceeded to further her theatrical nerd-dom by stating satisfaction gained from performing was more valuable than the money that she had previously stated she valued. Sigh.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

He's Ba-ack!

Blog, can I just say how nice it is to finally have my brother back home in the states? It's really nice. After four years of living in Italy, he's back. And he's not only back in the country, he's back in North Dakota. Granted, he's on the other side of North Dakota in Minot, he's still in North Dakota. That's about as good as you can get as far as proximity goes in this massive country of ours. Maybe not as good as far as Air Force base assignments go... I wouldn't want to live in Minot. I mean, it is nicknamed "Magic City", but all that flooding...

It's funny to think about the four years he's been gone. I was the one who dropped him off at the airport when he flew away to Italy. He came back a just few times over the years to visit, and with the immense distance that was always between us, I've grown used to the idea that my brother will just never be a staple in my life. I remember dropping him off in the wee hours of the morning so he could catch his flight to Europe. All he had was a big duffel bag/back pack filled with whatever possessions he could fit into it. It is impressive to think about him leaving with that bag since he has since returned with a wife, a baby, and a shipment of furniture and other belongings that is currently on its way to North Dakota via a semi truck that picked up said shipment somewhere in Texas after it had spent four weeks on a boat crossing the Atlantic.

My little brother walks away after finishing up his basic training...

Bam! Four years later, wife and baby. Thanks Air Force.

It's amazing how much the military does for those who work within it. Capella can't even provide me with decent cutlery to accompany my lunch let alone offer to pack up my belongings and sail them across an ocean for me. Thanks Capella.

Then again, Capella won't send me to a war-torn desert where I have nothing to do but play yahtzee and sleep in a tiny room with 8 other people for five months. So there's that.

I digress. It's nice to have him back. This Christmas will be the first Christmas I've spent with my brother since 2006, I believe; and I honestly have no recollection of what that Christmas entailed. Even better, he's got this wife and kid now so it'll be extra special family times. I mean, there's a baby involved. A baby who apparently looks like me. How fun is that?

Not only is it nice to have him back in a holiday sense, but also because he can now hang out with my mom and keep her occupied instead of resting that entire task upon my shoulders. I love my mom, but it's hard to make the 4+ hour drive to North Dakota on a regular basis to see her. And the few times she's been down here have been stressful since she's terrible at navigating city streets and I have nowhere to put her up. But now my brother is back and can remind my mom that she actually has two kids. My brother was also brilliant and procreated so he can leave his spawn with my mother (which satisfies her beyond belief) and traipse about in the metropolis of Fargo with his betrothed. Win, win, win, win. The only one who loses out is the baby and that's only because she's not on a routine yet with her grandmother.

It's weird to think that my mom is a grandma. Of course I've known that she is a grandma for over a year, but it's only becoming a reality now that everyone is on this side of the Atlantic. It's strange how much of a difference has already been made with Ian being back and I haven't even seen him yet. Just a couple weeks and Thanksgiving is upon us. So is a reunion with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece. Had you asked the 13 year old version of me if I was excited to see my brother for Thanksgiving back in '98 I would have awkwardly laughed in your face and then felt some sort of strange and obscure Catholic guilt about it, but still would have known it to be utterly ridiculous to think that I at any point in time would wholly appreciate my brother's presence in my life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dietary Boredom

Blog, I finally bought some peanut butter. I was weird about it at the store though and found myself having a hard time committing to a full sized jar. I have this irrational fear of buying food and then not eating it all. I stood in the peanut butter aisle at the grocery store contemplating for longer than I should have on whether or not purchasing a full sized jar was an investment worthy of my money and time. It has been a year since I bought the stuff, and despite my previous and ongoing desire to eat it all the time, I felt that I was not in the habit enough to commit to a full size 18 oz. jar. I mean, that's over a pound of peanut butter. So I ended up going with the little 12 oz. guy. It was less money spent and less of a commitment, even though in a week I have a feeling I'm going to be regretting that decision since all I do now is spread peanut butter on bread whenever I get the slightest hankering for anything.

This is me not liking changes to my diet. I eat a very undiverse array of food. My trips to the grocery store are uneventful. My kitchen is the least creative place in my apartment. Why would I cook when I can make some toast, slap some mayo on it and slice up a tomato? Bon appetit, if you don't mind me saying so myself.

Here's the part where if I had more people reading this, I'd ask "what are some recipes you consistently go to?", so I could get a feel for what other people eat and maybe make an attempt to broaden my dietary horizons. But unless Kerin has started eating not crackers and cheese at every turn, I'm shit out of luck on that one. Hey, as long as I'm not going hungry and have enough to eat, right?

I know I made a promise to update more on what I've been up to, Blog, but that's a hard promise to keep when I don't get up to much. Although this weekend I'll be making a trek to a casino for the first time since college. And this isn't going to be any Palace up in Cass Lake. This is the real deal. Treasure Island, folks. It's going to be a classy time. So perhaps over the next few days I'll have some life anecdotes to reflect on with you, Blog. It should be a good time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Look, Old Friends

Well Blog, I've revamped you. Now that I've finally made you public once again, I decided you needed a bit of a facelift. You know, just in case someone comes across you and decides to actually read you. I actually put a little bit of thought into how you look today and got some super sweet international permission from my good friend Carly Swenson who currently is residing in the Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean known as the Azores. She has so graciously allowed me to use a bit of her art as your background. It of course is just barely seen on the edges, but the whole piece looks a little bit like this:

And by a "little bit" I mean "actually".

 That art right there was a big deal for me last year at this time when I found myself turning my life around on a dime... or a hundred bucks... however you want to look at it. It's as if Carlis herself (yes, I call her Carlis from time to time; a nickname for the nickname "Carlis of the O'Clare Kind" that I somehow came up with in college) knew from even thousands of miles away that the little phrase "I'm feeling better every day" was exactly what I needed to hear, see, and believe. Plus I think the colors she used in this one are really pretty.

Carly is the reason I met the Englishman. She actually met him before I ever did. She's the reason I learned about Death Cab for Cutie and Eddie Izzard in college and was the first person who ever told me that blue and brown go together (I'm artistically inept if you haven't noticed). She taught me how to effectively shop at a thrift store and would make massive amounts of this delicious vegetarian chili that I should really try and get the recipe for one of these days. She hasn't lived in the states for the past four of five years due to her free-feminist-spirit-self ironically marrying a straight-laced (or so we think) guy who happens to be in the Air Force, but she's one of my closest friends. Despite the vast distance that is always between us, we've managed to see each other on a somewhat regular basis. It actually is making me sadder than I thought it would to think that this December will be a year since I've seen her and I don't have any current plans to visit. Turns out the Azores aren't the easiest islands to get to. But I'm hoping that come late winter or early spring I will be able to make the trek to the middle of the Atlantic to spend a week or two occupying a tiny Portuguese island with her and laughing about whatever ridiculousness we happen to come up with.

You know you've got a good friend when you can take incredible absences from one another and go massive distances to each other and it's as if you never left the comfort of your own dorm room on the third floor of the B wing in Maple Hall.

Are we in Minnesota? Are we in England? Does it even matter?

To the .00004 % who actually came across, took the time to read, and made it this far into my blog, you can learn more about Carly and her art at her very own blog where she writes about how she's trying to be creative on tiny islands in the Atlantic.