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Fight the Good Fight

Zits. Pimples. Whiteheads. Pimple. Pustule. Acne. Since puberty, almost everyone gets zits. In particular, you’d get zits on the side of your chin (right side, to be specific) below your mouth – reoccurring like a volcanic island chain. The embarrassing spots on your face will subside for a few weeks and then boom! They’re back and they’re making you uncomfortable with going out in public! What can start as tiny little dots so quickly explode into a mess that never seems to go away. Don’t pick! everyone says. Oh sure, you’ll just let that white head grow and feel everyone staring at it throughout the day. It’s not like you can cover it up, unless you want to wear a band-aid over it. So you pick it, you can’t help it, we understand. You pop that little shit like a you’d pop a grape and oh, victory.

But then it bleeds. And gets red. And before you know it, you look possibly worse. So you spend every night putting Neosporin on it, in the attempt to help it heal faster – but no, you didn’t get all the whitehead, so it comes back a little. The process of extracting the gunk from your face happens again, and this time, you don’t stop squeezing until you have little dents in your face from your nails. Yeah, beat that, zit army. Your hormone driven rage is nothing against the years of practice I have had against your kind. Possibly, your face goes into remission, but you’ve probably scarred yourself in the process. So you keep using the Neosporin, or perhaps straight up Vitamin E oil, to help reduce the darker areas.

While you mostly feel pretty good about your face, there is also the nagging knowledge that some day your enemies are coming back for you. So you wander around the skin care aisles and look at new products and wind up accumulating a plethora of things you may or may not use and may or may not work. You read beauty blogs and send your best friends neat “best of” drug store makeup and facial cleanser lists.  And eventually you lose your damn mind and ask for a Clarisonic Mia 2 for Christmas. And you get it, because your family is amazing, and you try it and YOU LOVE IT. YOU LOVE IT SO MUCH. But, as advertised, “Transient acne is a potential side effect for first-time Clarisonic users. The stimulation of the skin can cause bacteria to rise to the surface in the form of a pimple…scale back your use to once a day, but keep with it. Things should clear up after about two weeks of continual use.” BEHOLD. The acne cometh.

But you’re trying to more of an adult about these things and stop picking at those spots (please see above) so you use one of the many products you’ve picked up since you discovered Ulta and Beauty Blogs (once again, reference above). You use a drying solution – that very much resembles calamine lotion (if you’ve ever had poison ivy, you know what I reference) and you slather that on the effected area of your face. But not before you’ve Clarisoniced your face with your preferred face wash, used a makeup wipe to get rid of the last remnants of your mascara, moisturized with an anti-aging night cream, put on your anti-aging eye cream, and possibly put any Vitamin E oil/Neosporin to any other healing places. It takes forever.

You know it takes forever. But your vanity begs you to find a way to stop the oncoming horde. Anything to get rid of that teenaged angst, forever, if possible. And preserve your skin for as long as you can. So really, you’re combating both your youth and your oncoming age at the same time. You’re fighting for stasis.  Good luck, and godspeed.

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No. No you can’t.

 

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Stand Resolute or Something

I like the idea of resolutions. I’m not super great at keeping them. Last year I did pretty good until about March, then I sort of lost steam. I have no idea how you fix that. But yeah, I like the idea. I think that the first of the year is a good time to restart a goal or make a new one. It’s symbolic. I think you should also remember that you can decide to make a change any time you want. Basically, you too, can do what you want.

This never gets old to me.

I don’t like resolution haters. I get it. You think everyone else is dumb. Resolutions are stupid, you never keep them, blah blah blah. It must be very rewarding for you to poop on everyone else’s intentions and sincere wishes to follow through with a new idea. I hope you one day have someone make a snide comment about a thought you’re having and masticate on that feeling for a while. People who are making resolutions aren’t hurting anyone. It’s like Thumper’s mom said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Obviously, I will punch you in the face over this.

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So, back to resolutions. I could tell you that one of mine would be to work on my rage, but as you can see from the above paragraph, that’s probably not going to happen. I briefly tangoed with the idea of trying to tamp down on my road rage in particular. I spend a lot of time talking to the other cars on the road and I thought, hey, you look like a crazy person and if you ever have kids, is THIS how you want them to learn all their curse words? I feel really bad for my best friend; mostly because I always call her when I’m driving. I USE THE HANDS-FREE. But her conversations with me are nearly always interrupted. Let me give you an example.

“Yeah, so I’m working all these hours at the tattoo parlor and I’m really only going home to sleep for a little bit, so I said to her – ”
“SON OF A BITCH GET OFF THE ROAD, sorry, go ahead.”
“I said to her, you’ll have to call me at another time – ”
“Look at this shit…WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
“And we’ll talk then.”
“I agree, you were totally right there – USE YOUR BLINKER!”

And so on and so forth. I did really well with this for about an hour. If you have ever driven in the DC/Northern VA area, you know why this is almost impossible to do. I find it impossible. The rage will continue. I like to think it’s endearing to my passengers to see that I am a complete lunatic. So, that is not on my resolution list.

As I am constantly telling myself that I need to eat better and lose weight, I don’t think that will make the list either. I started the 21 Day Fix on the 4th, but that’s not really a resolution either. That’s a month long commitment that will hopefully remind me to do better. Weird thing about the Fix: I know it’s considered a diet, but I am NEVER hungry. There is always plenty of food. And yet, I lose weight. SORCERY. (Yes, I am aware that eating the right things aids in weight loss…SORCERY.) What_e68efc_2292486

So…what are my resolutions? Well, they shouldn’t be that hard to keep.
1. Keep in better touch with my family. I have a whole bunch of those dudes living out on the West Coast and I have not done well at texting them or calling them. So, I’m hoping to send them more random texts from time to time.
2. Read more intellectual books. Or, as I like to refer to them, “Learning Books”. I read a lot of stories from all sorts of genres, but I’m not great at picking up a book purely for knowledge’s sake. Buying them is another matter…
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3. Live with intention. Vague on purpose and more a general kind of kick in the pants for me to put a little more effort in to what I’m doing. Been feeling a little lazy these days, so this is just a little push to try a bit harder.

That’s it so far! Maybe I will come up with more, but who knows. What about you? Any great resolutions? Go forth, dear friends, and do what you want.

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Family Drama

I’ve been having lots of thoughts lately. Thoughts about writing, about fitness, about family; really, all about life. That’s a bit of an asinine statement, when is anyone not thinking about life? But I’ve been thinking about writing them down; so here I am, back to my neglected blog.  I have a couple of things percolating in my head, but for now, I’d like to start one of my family thoughts.

I have been incredibly lucky (blessed, fortunate, fortuitous, charmed) to have grown up with all four of my grandparents. It wasn’t until I turned 23 that I lost my grandfather on my father’s side. Twenty-three. I had friends growing up who never knew their grandparents, they’d already passed away while my friend was too young to remember them. I’m almost thirty now, and I still have three surviving grandparents. That’s pretty amazing. So, what I’m about to tell you next, I feel like I should caveat first.

1. I love and respect my grandparents a great deal.
2. I, in no way, want you to think that I take any ailments on my grandparents’ part lightly.
3. This is how I cope with stuff; I laugh about it. Cause, you know, it could be worse.

I recently got to spend some time with my mother’s parents while I did a series of meetings and stuff for my job in Washington. It was great to see them and spend time with them, as well as the rest of my family that I don’t get to see very often because we live on opposite sides of the country. My grandmother is a dynamo of a lady who ignores her intolerance to gluten at every chance she gets and refuses to let anyone do anything for her. My grandfather is a smart, stubborn cuss who has recently started showing signs of Alzheimer’s and has had a run of weird health problems. They are both starting to slow down quite a bit and each has a plethora of health issues. My grandparents have what I like to think of as a “traditional” relationship: he was the family provider and she ran the household and took care of my mother and her two brothers. That tenet of their relationship is still in place, Grandma takes care of Grandpa and Grandpa is himself. This is a gross oversimplification of their relationship, so take that as you will. They’ve been married for 60+ years, they are my marriage heroes.

So here I am, at my grandparents for the second time in a year, big win there, and my grandma sits me down and she says, “Lindsey, I would like you to look around the house, and if you see something you like, we’ll put your name on it.” Let’s take a closer look at this situation. In fact, let’s just take my interpretation of her words and put them to paper: “Dearest grandchild who I do not see very often, I would like you to look around at our family heirlooms and antiques and let me know which ones you want to have responsibility of forever upon my death because of family guilt.” That’s right, Grandma is taking care of business and wants to me to peruse their house like a vulture in the case of their imminent demise so she can put my name on a china cabinet.

Hard pass

I return home. Maybe two weeks later, I get a call from my mother. Grandpa is in the hospital because his chest has been hurting and he is pretty under the weather. Mom informs me that he’s been in the hospital for the past two days, but her mother was just letting her know that day. (My family rocks at communication.) More tests were coming and they would have more information the next day, but the doctors had expressed concern about Grandpa’s liver and kidney functions. They hinted to Grandma that those organs might not be functioning as they should. Please take a moment to put yourself in my shoes. I felt that I was basically hearing that my Grandfather’s body was shutting down. I started to prepare myself. I thought about taking time off work and flying out to see them before everything went sideways. I thought about the cost of flights and how my brother would not be able to afford the flight. I spoke to my husband about covering that cost for my brother because between the two of us, we’re doing OK and family is important and getting Ryan out to Washington was important. The test results from the next day would let us know the true severity of the situation. Mom would call me once she knew what was what and I would have to wait for her call.

So I waited. And I waited. And I finally called Mom. And Mom says to me, “I didn’t call because I’m a bad person. Your grandfather is being released today. The chest pain was a pulled muscle.”

Whut.

Whut.

The conversation continued:

“What do you mean a pulled muscle?” I said.
“That is the pain in his chest, he pulled a muscle,” said Mom.
“What about his kidney and liver function?” I asked.
“Apparently no longer a concern. I don’t know what happened to that,” said Mom.
“…Mom…what was he doing that he pulled a muscle? The only heavy lifting he does is bringing a spoon from his plate to his lips!” I exclaimed.
“I know,” said Mom with a sigh. And we go on from there.

True story. This happened. In one weekend, I went from believing my Grandfather was on his death bed to finding out he had a pulled muscle in his chest. I’m super happy that the death bed part is not true, but good Lord. Grandpa has always been something of a drama queen and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called with reports of an ailment that might do him and then the next thing I know, he’s right as rain. I know it’s really tough for him, but I am also convinced, without a doubt, that most men are big babies. In fact, that might be my next post – the stereotype of women being drama queens and why I think it’s complete and utter bullshit. And just so you know, when Mom first called me about this hospital visit, I DID ask, “Mom, how concerned are we?” I was trying to gauge how much time I need to put into finding a flight out to Washington, how upset I needed to let myself be. That’s when she told me she would know more tomorrow. PULLED MUSCLE.

Alright then.

Family, you guys. Gotta love ’em.
Could be worse.

 

Not What I Intended

Man, I love people. I really do. I like to watch them (creeper alert), I like to listen to them, I like to see what makes them laugh. I love to make people laugh. Which really gets me to thinking: what in the blasted fuck am I doing in a “serious” job that requires me to be serious about the possibility of being contaminated by a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon? I mean seriously, how did I get here? How did I start onto this road of serious topics when what I really like to do is make people laugh and read books?

I think it all started in high school. Probably around 9/11. I was a sophomore in West Virginia and a terrorist attack was so far out of my scope. But then it happened anyway and it was pretty culturally shocking for the United States. A giant shift, if you will. So, I think it’s safe to say that I was probably affected, although I was not personally touched by the loss many people were. Makes you think about service to your country and protecting people, especially your family. And we can just be real for a second and call me a drama queen, but the thought of so many families losing loved ones really put the hurting on my teenaged heart. So for a brief moment in my selfish teenaged existence, I thought about joining the military. I don’t think I was very serious about it because I never discussed it with my friends or my mother, but the thought crossed my mind. However, I don’t think I would be suited to the service. I have two reactions when being yelled at: 1. Laugh (or rather, giggle) 2. Cry (because damn I hate confrontation and yelling serves no purpose). I understand there is a lot of yelling in boot camp. Plus, I’m not really a fan of going places I don’t really want to go.

What is the point here, Strain? The point is that eventually the thought that flitted through my head of joining the service left and I decided to be a teacher. This is equally as hilarious as the notion of me in the service because I have little patience for men and women children who think they are the shit. What in the name of all that is good and holy would I have done in a classroom with hooligans who are incredibly impressed with themselves, just as I was as a high-schooler? The first time one of the kids back-talked to me, I’d be out of a job faster than a fart slips out during a squat at the gym.

So, I eventually fell into a new major in college called “International Affairs”.  Cue all the, “I didn’t know you had to be international to have an affair!” jokes. Yes, your wit and rapier intellect astounds me. For me, international affairs gave me economics (hates), the social sciences (neat), and history (favorite). That’s all pretty broad. I have no idea what job you can do from that, but I’ve always thought I lacked direction. In fact, I’m strangely OK with lacking direction. I have general goals in mind, some things I’d like to accomplish with my life, but nothing very concrete. Getting off track here, but the point is, I had a very vague idea in my mind that I wanted to help protect people from terrorist attacks and I did not want to join the service.

This is where it gets fuzzy. I have no idea how I started looking at schools in Washington, DC, except that I was sure that I needed more education to get to a point where I could be hired to do anti-terrorism work, perhaps with the FBI. So, I started looking into master’s programs, and I’m sure my mind just arbitrarily picked DC, because hey, it’s a happening place. I applied to a few schools out here, but not before moving here with my fiance (now husband, poor dear) and working at a garden center and being an unpaid intern for a Congressman. I applied to three schools, got into one – I am depressingly average as a student and did not test very well on the SAT. So, I landed in Missouri State University’s satellite campus in Vienna, Virginia and started work on my Master’s in Defense and Strategic Studies. I love it when people look at me funny after I say that, because really, what does that mean? I usually follow up with, “That is code for paranoia and nuclear policy.” And yeah, that is definitely what I did there, I got real paranoid about nukes and I learned a lot. Some of my favorite classes were not about those things, in fact they were “Intelligence” (another vast subject) and “Strategic Culture”. And then I wasted spent a lot of time writing my thesis and agonizing over if I would ever get a big girl job.

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Get to work, Strain.

And now I am a defense contractor and I work with a government agency that does CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) preparedness training. I do a little bit of everything, but it’s still not enough. I don’t know enough. I sometimes wonder if I ever will feel like I’m truly qualified to move onto a job with even more responsibility. Hell, sometimes I don’t know if I know what I am doing right now. That make sense to you? Me neither. I think that it’s a work in progress and I should not expect myself to jump out of school or a job fully formed, like Athena from Zeus’ zit or whatever, and know everything. I think it’s my own pressure to get stuff done before a certain age because I am constantly reminded by EVERY MOTHER EVER on FACEBOOK that “life is short” and “cherish your time”! That is another rant just waiting to happen. Maybe next time. Harry-Potter-No-Offense-But-I-Dont-Really-Care-GIF

 

I know life is short. But, I think I should take my time, work this stuff out, try to be a good person, and work on making people laugh while I also work on that protecting thing. Because that is what I want to do. I want to protect people, and then I want to make them laugh. I do what I want. And I will do this. So, in summary. How did I get here? This post started as a talk about how I like people and then I gave you the rundown of my decision making process (granted, a very loosey goosey process) and how I came to be a contractor. Really, you have just read my own pep-talk to myself. I hope you feel inspired. Go forth, youths, and do great things! Or, you know, eat some cake and don’t be too hard on yourself. This shit is going to work itself out and you just have to be the best you can and keep yourself open to the possibilities. To quote a line from one of my favorite books, “Imagine a meadow or some shit.”

I mean, it could be worse.

Polar Vortex Causes Brain Damage

In the past few weeks, a good portion of the United States experienced what was referred to as a “Polar Vortex”. I had planned to talk about what a polar vortex is and what that really meant for the U.S., but Wikipedia was too complicated for me to really understand, so I’ll just sum it up by saying it was really damn cold. While I was not in one of the worst affected areas, it was still below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and lower with the wind chill. So, yes, very cold, for a week or more at the beginning of January. It was during this time of supreme cold weather that I realized that I had left my keys in my house. My office was having its holiday party, so I was little distracted and I left my keys before I went to work. This has not happened to me since sometime in my early college days when I locked myself out of my dorm room. I can’t remember the last time I actually locked myself out of my mother’s house or any of the apartments I rented during college and after with Matt. Oh, I thought to myself, no big deal – there is another set! Husband has one. I’ll just let him know that I don’t have mine and he can let me in when he gets home from work.

Yes, that simple.

Sure.

Directly after I sent him an email, I received a phone call. Through some terrible twist of fate, he had also left his key at the house. Doors are all locked. We can’t get in. The dog is in there, but as he lacks opposable thumbs and a mental capacity beyond a human toddler; we were up the proverbial creek. That creek sounds terrible. Guess what. IT IS. Matt decided to call a locksmith and went home to wait for the service provider to show up. I continued with the post holiday festivities that my office was hosting. (For the record, I got a really terrible hat shaped like a pig in a Redskin’s jersey. I was able to trade it eventually for a coffee mug with a handle shaped like an elephant. Lucky me.)

Upon returning to my cubicle, and checking my phone, I was presented with proof that that day was the most popular day of my life. Four missed calls. Hot damn. Too bad they were all from Matt (and someone else’s phone) letting me know that, 2 hours later, the locksmith hadn’t showed and Matt’s phone was dead in the water. Awesome.

Dammit.

Dammit.

Shortly after this, a friend called – Matt had been able to contact her via g-chat and she called me to give me the numbers Matt wanted me to call in order to get someone there to get our door open. So, I called the first place, which was the service that Matt had called first. I couldn’t even get to them, their system was that weird. Then, I called the next place. A strange, young sounding man came on the line. He filled his sentences with “um’s”, long pauses, and took forever to complete a sentence. He informed me that if I wanted to send someone out, it would be past their normal working hours (some people really do stop working at 5:00 PM) and they would have to be paid overtime. OK, at this point, I’m started to loose my patience, mostly because Rain Man on the phone is taking his sweet time telling me what I need to know and TIME IS A-WASTIN’. It was 4:30, surely this could work.

With a locksmith dispatched, I headed home. I arrived on the scene to a horror movie. Matt is sitting in his car, extreme displeasure on his face. To the right of his car, a child-molester van is in my spot. At our door, a skinny dude shorter than me, dressed entirely in black. He has long, frizzy, red hair tied back in a pony tale and an evil-villain skinny mustache and goatee. Even though I was standing beside Matt’s car, which is at least 8 feet from the front door, I can tell this guy was fumbling with the lock. That was his attempt to pick it. When I saw him, I knew, I KNEW, it was the same guy I had just talked to on the phone. I was right.

For the next HOUR, Matt and I watched the “locksmith” fumble with the lock, drop his keys, and display a “if I try hard enough/never give up” attitude that was frankly, impressive. Meanwhile, I’ve got a hangry (hungry +angry) Matt on my hands, because he didn’t eat before he left work (or it was feeding time, I can’t recall correctly). He’s also pissed because we had to pay for the locksmith’s “work” and we were supposed to go meet with friends in DC that night. Additionally, he’s mad at me because I didn’t pick up my phone.

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Sidebar: If I got 3 dollars for every time I have called my husband with a question that seemed important at the time or felt that I needed him, and he didn’t answer, I could have paid for a whole new door. Installation included. I have said, repeatedly, to friends and family, “If I die in a ditch, Matt will be the last to know.” And now, he’s giving me crap because I didn’t answer my phone. Adorable.

Gurl.

Gurl.

During the time Matt and I had our stereotypical married people argument, I took breaks to go harass the “locksmith”. It took everything I had not to ask this poor soul if this was the first time he’d done this. And it was getting progressively colder. Meanwhile, the OTHER LOCKSMITH MATT FIRST CALLED FINALLY SHOWS. And when we told him we waited for him for too long and we had called someone else, he wanted us to pay him his fee for showing up. Oh hell no. He did not get paid. I have heard nothing further on the subject, but rest assured, I will karate chop anybody who has the balls to show up way past an extended time period and then expect someone to hand them money. The rage. Of course, it did cross my mind that maybe I should have let that guy work on the door, it might have gone quicker.

Finally, I asked villain locksmith what other options there were for getting the door open, because I’d reached the limit of how many time I could watch this dude drop his pick and shift around as if he could see into the keyhole. As it turns out, you can drill your lock, which jacks your tumblers in your locks all up, and that’s what we did. Not that it didn’t take him another 20 minutes to complete this task. So, it was roughly 7:30 by the time he managed to get us into the house. Thankfully, we did not have to pay him for the hour he dicked around with the lock, but I think that was mostly because he was super afraid of our wrath at this point. Good. All should fear me.

$216.00 dollars later, I was able to enter my house. I now have back-up keys to my back-up keys. I also check my pockets about seven times before I leave the house and ask Matt if he has his. Then I have a miniature heart-attack when I close the door. Just in case.

Could be worse.

I DO WHAT I WANT.

Wow. The last time I was here to post was October. OCTOBER. What have I been doing? Now, I did log in on the 9th to start a blog post about Disney, which I may still do. My main problem, outside of LIFE HAPPENING TO ME, is that I keep being unsure where I want this blog to go. And then sticking to my plan. I suck at sticking to plans. Ask my thesis (which is done now, thank you very much).

What I have been doing:

Finishing a thesis (That sucked. A pox on the educational system and their student loans. And paper writing.)
Traveling for work. (Went to: Netherlands, Germany, Japan, etc. as well as some places in the United States.)
Trying to become a fitness instructor (Oh my gawd, what a lark. That will be a fun post.)
Getting a dog (I will have pictures.)
And that’s just a shortened list. I’m sure I’ve done other things. I’m not sure what it is right now, but I’ll get back to you on that.

I’ve had trouble finding a central theme for this blog. For a while, I thought I should be doing some sort of food blog. The thing is, I don’t take great pictures or make my food pretty like other food blogs out there. I get this weird idea in my head that I should be doing something just as well as other bloggers do it. Oh yeah, reproduce professional photos with your old digital camera that you got in ’06 for $80. That will pop out photos that look like Leonardo painted them himself. Of course. Fabulous.

Then, I thought I would try to do a photo blog, because I really like other people’s photo blogs. However, see the above. And I don’t really have that kind of artistic talent. So, that’s sort of a no-go. Right on the heels of that, I considered making the blog more of an internet diary. Many people do that and they have really interesting thoughts and ways to share. Can you imagine me with an internet diary? I can’t really. I don’t want to be all serious and dark, and I’m afraid that is where I would go, almost immediately. I mean, I’m all for sharing the feels, but I’m not for bringing everyone down into my crazy train thoughts with me. It’s a strange place and the ride back can take a while. Many curves. See, we’ve already started. Lord.

I ran through a few more ideas in my head, all as unlikely as the last. Crafts (if it involves crayons), rants (aren’t there enough angry white girls on the internet?), and exercise (exercise escapades, more likely). Therefore, I’m not sure what I’m doing with this blog. I do all sorts of things, none of them overwhelmingly well, and I’ve always felt pretty average about my talents. Which are currently unidentified. So, then I thought, HEY. I LIKE GIFS. AND TUMBLR. However, I’m unwilling to move my blog. Again. To places others can’t go. DARK RECESSES OF THE INTERNETS. And while I’m unsure of what I’m doing with this blog, I can tell myself one thing. People think I’m funny. I don’t know HOW funny or if I’m consistently funny, but I’m amusing, at least. So I think, I’m going to aim for that. Funny. Try to get a few giggles out there. Shouldn’t be too hard, everyone thinks poop jokes are funny, right? I mean, I do. It’s my duty. (Haha, dooooody.)

To sum everything up, please see the below animated picture. Says everything, really. I should be back much sooner than the last time I said that. I hope.

 

Frack That

Things I would rather do than write my thesis:

1. Re-watch Battlestar Galactica and finally watch the last season.
2. Learn Japanese with the Rosetta Stone program I have.
3. Write fiction for funsies.
4. Blog more.
5. Get perfect scores on all my super-awesome Lego PS3 games.
6. Re-learn how to knit.
7. Teach myself to play the guitar.
8. Learn how to mix delicious drinks.
9. Cleaning my apartment to a more ocd-alicious state.
10. Research laser eye surgery.

This is just a short list of the things I would rather do than work on my master’s thesis. If you had a big project you didn’t want to do, what would you do instead? Let me know and I’ll make a super awesome new list with all the cool new things.

Excellent. Rock on. Thesis on.