Unforeseen Attack by Darth Raccoon

As I’ve mentioned before as an adult I’ve developed a wariness of raccoons. Last night the little bandits struck again, this time in my dreams.

Let's call him "Roger"

Let’s call him “Roger”

By the end of the story it's name is Emily

By the end of the story it’s name is Emily

Imagine, if you will, a raccoon. He’s a jovial fellow, clearly not the normal creature that roams the night knocking over garbage cans and looking for shiny objects. Instead this guy can talk to you and you two are even friends – crazy right? Then imagine that, for whatever reason, he has a stuffed animal that he always lugs around with him Calvin & Hobbs style. The two go on all kinds of adventures and cause all manner of hijinks and shenanigans. Easy enough? Now we’ll enter our story:

You’re walking around your room, picking up books and clothes that are scattered about the room. After a little while you hear a knock at the door and head to the hallway. From there you go down the stairs to let in your friend Roger. Per usual Roger is dragging his stuffed animal behind him, despite the fact he is an adult. It doesn’t phase you though, you almost admire the fact he still has such a vivid imagination. The three of you head upstairs to chill. Roger places the animal in it’s tiny chair that he brought over years ago. Once situated he takes off his bag and hands you his new album. After you two have listen to it a few times through the lights oddly flicker. Shrugging it off you head downstairs to grab a snack. You gently walk up the stairs balancing two cups in one hand and a box of crackers with a plate of cheese in the other. Approaching your door you hear a small voice you’ve never heard before. Toeing the door open you walk in to see the stuffed animal moving. Shocked, you drop all the snacks. The animal turns to look at you and as soon as your eyes meet its glass ones your head is filled with a name…Emily. Creeped out beyond belief, you break the stare and drop down to clean up the mess.  Placing the ruined snack on your desk *you carefully approach the two raccoons who have started to fight. You watch as Emily folds herself up out of the chair and escalate the battle to a physical one. She slaps Roger and they seem oblivious to you watching. After awhile Roger notices and pushes Emily away from him. Slowly he backs away and raises his hands, that’s when Emily switches targets and lunges towards you. As she reaches your face you feel furry pressure on your cheek and bolt awake. That’s when you find Vader (your cat) picking the worst possible time to start snuggling.

Doesn’t that sounds like a brilliant way to wake up? I didn’t need more convincing to get out of bed at four this morning to let him out. I sometimes wonder if animals have secret powers, how else would Vader now to hit me in the face at that exact time?

Until next time
~Q

*Full disclosure part of this story is made up. I can’t remember how the two raccoons came to be in the room, but the bits after the asterisks are an honest account of the what I remember from the dream. I figured I could create a bit of context for the last half. I also do remember that the stuffed animal was somehow possessed by the spirit of a little girl named Emily. How do I know this? Why would I dream these things? Not sure, but that’s what happened.

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I am not bilingual

Ever since I was a little girl I have been fascinated by language. You would think this might translate to me having an excellent grasp on my own, but no cigar. I remember walking through the J section of the library straight back to the language section. I would pull book after book off the shelf and the wander to the checkout. Once home I would sit and pour over the pictures. Occasionally trying to pronounce unfathomable words with characters I had never seen before. When I grew out of the J section I started checking out audiotapes (yes, actual tapes, although eventually CDs) of various languages: Arabic, Russian, Italian, Hebrew, Japaneses, etc. The world was my oyster and I wanted to hear it all.

In primary & secondary school I began my more formal study of a second language in the form of Spanish. During my first years of study we mainly learned the basics ie vocab: colors, numbers, animals and themed units (travel, rainforest etc). Why so basic? Well for the first two years we only met once every 6 school days and the following two years we only had it for about seven weeks of the school  year (exploratory class). To this day I’ll still say ‘caballo caballo caballo‘ in the same manner our Argentinian teacher would. She had this toy horse that would ‘gallop’ as she repeated the phrase. Once translated it seems mad that I do this. Who walks around saying ‘horse horse horse’. Oh well, c’est la vie.

I survived my first years of training and eventually hit high school. Spanish was no longer required but languages still were a fascination so I signed up. I also had some vague notion that colleges wanted you to have some sort of experience and if you didn’t have it going in then you’d have it by the time you left. College language courses would be about 1000x harder. Prepping in high school was an obvious choice. Then there was the fact that in our third year we take a week long field trip to Spain. I wasn’t going to miss that.

Here is where it really started getting tricky. In case you didn’t know, the English language makes little to no sense. Especially when compared to other languages. It’s a hodge-podge of several languages all shoved together to make a whole. Apparently no one took a leaf from Doctor Frankenstein’s book. If they had, they’d remember grabbing bits and pieces and throwing them together does not a man make. Now I know this is taking the argument towards the ridiculous, but I’m a creative, I’m using my license. Also, hyperbole.

The more I look at other languages the more I see that comparatively English can be quite tricky. For starters the word order is different. Please note, this isn’t applied to every language in the world – just the ones that I’ve perused on a deeper level than passive listening. In Latin based languages (italian, french, spanish etc) the word order is Verb – Subject – Object. Adjectives follow the noun, verbs are conjugated as a whole to agree with the subject. So many differences! However, they all follow a set or marginally followed rules. You can claim that English does too, but the ‘i before e except after c’ rule is broken more than it’s followed. Weird right?

Once I graduated high school I didn’t have much reason to keep up my limited Spanish. Although I kept the theories and general rules in my head (there are 6 verb forms, adjectives swap their ending to be gender specific, start sentences with verbs and go from there, etc) I forgot the many of the specifics (leer ‘to read’ or libro ‘book’). This partial reset both helped and hurt when it came time to learn Italian for my semester abroad. I was at an advantage because the theory still existed, all I had to do was load new verb endings and learn different vocab. However, as I said, it was a partial reset. Every now and then a Spanish word would creep in and I wouldn’t catch that it was wrong. Fun times. Italian eventually became dominate of the two. I remember I even had a dream in Italian while I was away, that was a magical experience.

Now, years later, if I’m called to recall either it’s a hot mess. At work last summer there was a Hispanic couple who were trying to find the right words for what they wanted. Eventually my mind came up with an option but by that time we had figured it out through gestures etc. Good thing too. After the fact I was talking to one of my sisters and as I recounted the tale I used my words. She is a certified Spanish teacher although she teaches social studies. As I was talking she just started shaking her head. Oh I’d come up with the correct word alright. Only it was in Italian and I couldn’t tell the difference.

Since then I’ve put aside any thoughts of having casual conversations without a refresher in vocab. I still have my fascination with languages though. However I keep it to myself a bit more. As I fall asleep at night I now have added two books into my rotation of options. Now, along side of Merlin and the Dragons and The Legend of Sleep Hollow, is The House of Usher (in Italian) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (in Russian). Truly my world is an odd one.

Funnily enough last week I was listening to a Spanish radio station. It was in the middle of the news section. The announcer was talking fast. At first I tried translating words individually. Then I remembered that was stupid. For starters in any translation its not a straight word-for-word swap. Secondly I don’t actually understand much Spanish. However, pushing that defeatist attitude aside I started listening to sentences as a whole. Not as individual pieces. A narrative began to unfold. She kept mentioning ’90’, ‘not permitted’ and ‘California’ (those last two more than once). In the end I decided she was talking about the measles uprising. Like I said, I am not bilingual…but its fun to pretend.

Enough rambling for now. Until next time
~ Q

Apparently the word of the day is….

I’ve come to expect a certain amount of randomness in my life. Too much data with no discernible outlet. Today ‘random’ hit bylodging a word in my brain for no apparent reason. What was the word? Dickensian. I didn’t even know the definition of the word. That didn’t matter. It would not move to the side and be ignored until I looked it up.

Dick·en·si·an (diˈkenzēən) adjective
adjective: Dickensian
  1. of or reminiscent of the novels of Charles Dickens, especially in suggesting the poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters that they portray.

Now I’ve never actually read Dickens. I know. Shocking. Especially considering how much I like to read. Although my family did watch A Muppet’s Christmas Carol over Christmas. I hardly think that is the same thing. Why, or more importantly how, this word was jammed in my brain I cannot say, but today I learned something. So that alone makes it a good day.

Until next time
~ Q

Importance of the random: keep brushing up against people, books, experiences we don’t yet know what to do with.”
― Alain de Botton

Perception is Everything?

‘They’ say perception is everything. I’m not sure if it’s actually everything or not but it certainly plays a major role in how we each individually work within the world. If your perceptions on something change then your whole world can change instantly.

Perception: noun

  1. the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.
  2. immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment: an artist of rare perception.

The other day I went to work out and had my perceptions completely altered. Let me preface this by sharing a thought I have never understood. That is the thought of why people carry notebooks with them in the gym. I have never been much into fitness so keeping stats seemed weird to me. The designer in me would think maybe they wanted to do some type of info graphic like I had to do while studying abroad but I don’t truly think that was why. Not that it bothered me at all, I just have never seen the need. This, as it turns out, has been proven false as I try to recall what fitness I have done when. Perhaps a notebook is the way to go. I find a side note added in my planner works just as well. But I digress (shocker).

A couple of nights ago I was heading into the center to workout. Right before slamming the door of my car shut I decided to grab my notepad. This is the notepad I’ve taken to keeping in my purse because I never know when I’ll want to jot down some notes on a random prompt or do some other writing. I went in and cahnged; grabbed my headphones, notepad and pen; and then made my way to the treadmills. I was all situated, started my workout, and then flipped open my notepad. As of late I have found that my mind starts to wander as my legs start to move. I was hoping to harness some of that wandering time to get some writing done.

Writing

Yes, this is how one prompt began. Quite messy, but ended up just fine. (Image links to entry)

Have you ever tried writing while moving? It is not the easiest task (as you can see to the left, it’s quite sloppy). I dropped the note pad once and was lucky not to biff. Anyway I didn’t get a lot written but I did get a lot thought out so I guess it works out. I started feeling high maintenance about half way through and decided to focus on the faux hills I was traversing. As I jogged a tangent popped into my head. What if other people are doing what I do? What if they aren’t recording their stats of how much they benched or how far they ran? What if they are taking down the random little details that pop into your head when your body is otherwise engaged? Perhaps I’ve been wrong my entire life. No, that certainly can’t be it. I’m sure most of them were keeping notes, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to think about people carrying notepads around the center the same. My perceptions have been permanently altered.

A different example that starts with the fact that I’ve taken to I forget that I have been out of school for nearly five years. In that time I have become more efficient and able to take on a work load bigger than those who have only been out for one year. This makes sense when you think it through, but it was made apparent last week. I was talking to my coworker and commented how I had gotten my tasks down to nine more things to work on. I had intended this to be a happy thing, I had started the day with a lot more and had worked to cut it down to an easy rest of the day. She however thought something else. This was obvious in her, “Oh, I’m sorry” response. Perception. If I was still in my first or second year out and had that many tasks I would feel swamped. Now I’ve learned a bit more how to handle the ‘stress’ and work in general. Funny thing time. It works without you realizing it. It’s good to be reminded that people operate on different levels and to play on those. Divide and conqueror so to speak. Which we do, quite often.

As I write about these things I’m reminded of some lyrics in the Musical Wicked:

“A man’s called a traitor – or liberator
A rich man’s a thief – or philanthropist
Is one a crusader – or ruthless invader?
It’s all in which label is able to persist

I hope I am able to remember these type of things in the future. Especially if I happen to be at odds with someone. The above examples it didn’t matter that my perceptions were different then other people, but if I can just remember that everyone else is coming from a different place then i can do my best to see it from that place too. True, I might not succeed, but maybe my footing will change to somewhere that is at least even with the other.

Until next time
~ Q

New Year, new beginnings, that’s how it works, right?

See? Just chilling at home

See? Just chilling at home

As I sit at home, drinking coffee and relaxing on my day off, I can’t help but wonder what the year will hold. I know, earth shattering, right? No matter, as I muse over what resolutions to make this year, if any, I recall my last year. What things did I enjoy about the past year? Both special and everyday.

For instance some special things:

  • traveling to San Francisco with my buddy Allie
  • the backyard camping experiment with my family
  • the boarder line fiasco that was camping with my friends (there were broken bones – shockingly none of which were mine – and an ER visit)

and everyday things

  • playing volleyball
  • randomly joining a bowling league
  • literary adventures (aka reading)
  • creative writing
  • crafting

So what to resolve? The blatantly obvious like lose 15 pounds or travel more (both great goals but I’m already working on one and the other is too vague). Again, where does that leave me? Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to, once again, make some resolutions. All of which will be quantifiable, because otherwise its too easy to argue the point one way or another.

  1. read 3 non-fiction books in all likelihood these will be autobiographies by comedians (Have you read Bossy Pants because you really should) because they are amusing
  2. write 150 blog entries this comes down to, roughly, 3 posts a week between this or my free writing blog
  3. get healthy I know, vague, but as I wrote back in October I’m waiting until the end to reveal my goal – I allowed myself to be set back for the last couple of months with the holidays, but that just means i need to hit it hard for the next couple of months to get back on track
  4. spend 5 weekends out of state that’s one way to define ‘travel more’ – right?
  5. learn a new skill okay this is the least quantifiable one on the list but I haven’t settled on what that skill should be, but I am anxious to try some things out. Will it be archery, I did always like the unit in PE, long bow of course, not compound? Knots? Knife throwing? Wow – those all seem awfully Hunger Games-esq which isn’t necessarily bad but stepping outside of that mind set I’ll add ‘sight reading music’ or ‘learn to play an instrument’ to other things in the mix for my new skill

So that’s it, five resolutions for 2015 that come to mind as I sit here. Not sure what my future holds, but rather than obsessively trying to dictate it by making too many bound-to-fail promises to myself, we’ll try staring with these.

So how about you? Are you the type to make resolutions? If so, what are yours for this year? I hope you have a wonderful New Year and I look forward to sharing mine with you over the coming weeks.

Until next time
~ Q

So this, happened…

This month is full of firsts for me. First I’m writing about health and fitness and now (regrettably) media and politics. Earlier this week I saw a blurb that a news anchor said that young women shouldn’t bother voting and stick to tinder and match.com. Upon reading that snippit I was furious. Looking into the situation (here are websites that had various reports on the incident, there are many more: Huffington Post, Media Matters & World News) I was further annoyed to read the article stating that young women don’t have the same life experience as older women, so they can’t make an informed decision. Okay. Let’s back up the truck.

1) Young women don’t have the same life experience as older women
Has there ever been a more obvious statement? Yes, the life experience of an 18 year old is not equivalent to that of a 38 year old, 58 year old, 78 year old etc. Is there some magical property in the Y chromosome that makes guys that are 18 as wise as older guys? Nope, that is not a thing. Please keep gender out of this. Either say all young adults do not have the same life experience as their older counterparts or just drop it. Obviously that is a true and redundant statement, guess what? That doesn’t change the fact that they still have the right to vote when they are 18. What are you going to do, change the voting age? If you do, when are people ‘old enough’ to have the necessary knowledge?

2) They are too young to make an informed decision
Okay, now that we’re foregoing the gender part of this statement, when is someone old enough to make an informed decision? 20, 25, 30, 35….how old? We already have an age limit on how old you have to be to represent people (Quick recap: 25 to be a Representative, 30 to be a Senator, and 35 to be President) As displayed in the first part, young voters can’t make a decision based off of experience but they can definitely do research and instead vote based on data. “But they don’t care enough to actually do research!” you might argue. Are you telling me that every veteran voter researches the candidates thoroughly and votes being fully informed? Or that every veteran voter has lived the necessary life to gain the required insight? How often is it generalized that voters side with their party no matter who the actual candidate is (regardless of their age)? Answer: all the time. Isn’t it hypocritical to say that young voters aren’t allowed to vote because they don’t know what’s going on when others might not either?

3) Stick to tinder and match.com
Really? Really? Should I also be discussing with my father what my future husband can expect in my dowry? Guess what, women can do more than just be a wife/mother/partner/girlfriend/fling/whatever. In today’s society we have to be. Not to mention the fact that I don’t know too many people (men included) who are satisfied with just being one thing. To somewhat imply that young women should put aside thinking about such complex things that might make their little heads hurt and just find a man is downright idiotic (and borderline insulting) for any person, especially in media, to say. Is this reporter aware that less than a century ago there were women being sent to jail for fighting for their right to vote? A little perspective please. It is important for people (women included because we are indeed actual people) to be involved and voting is one way we accomplish this. Please don’t discourage the next generation from performing their civic duty.

Now if you click through any of the sites I listed above you’ll see that this is really just a snippit and when taken out of context has rage-inspiring potential. If you take what they were saying, and put it through a ‘don’t be stupid’ filter they arguably made some valuable points:

  • Everyone (not just young voters) needs to be making informed choices and not be voting for who this actor supports or who that celebrity knows
  • Voters need to know the issues and where each candidate stands on those issues
  • People need to look at the big picture (Part of the argument was that young voters don’t have the same concerns as other citizens. They don’t have many bills to pay, no mortgages, children, etc but they still do represent a demographic of this country. If all demographics looks at what’s best for just themselves it’s not going to work out too well)

In the spirit of making informed decisions here are some quick links you can reference as you get ready to vote in the upcoming weeks. (Please note, these are just a few of the sites that popped up as I start figuring out who I will be voting for this year. I do not support one site over another, merely offer these as starting points. I haven’t even had time to fully look them over.) For this midterm election Iowa has 6 names on the ballot, five of which are viable (one candidate, Douglas Butzier, passed away but will still appear on ballots). Who are they?

  • The Democratic nominee Bruce Braley (1|2|3)
  • Republican nominee Joni Ernst (1|2|3)
  • Independent nominees
    • Bob Quast (1|2)
    • Rick Stewart (1|2)
    • Ruth Smith (1|2).

Most people want their vote to ‘count’ so they limit their choice to the party candidates. Here a couple links comparing Braley and Ernst. (1|2|3)

I hope everyone will vote this November 4th. I really don’t care who you vote for, just that you vote knowing what you are doing. This is one of the few times a year the general public gets to voice their choice. It’s pretty easy, just grab an absentee ballot or hit up the polls.

Until next time
~ Q

Fall is here!

Has it been two months yet? Not quite? Well, that’s okay. I suppose I can write a post any way. So Summer is over. Shocking no one I wasn’t able to blog 15 weeks in a row. August really took me out and September stomped me down, but here we are in October. Not to say bad things happened in August and September, quite the opposite! It just kept me busy and I didn’t take the time to write. Refocusing on that now.

The house keeps inching along and there is light at the end of the tunnel! Which is fortunate because I will have 6 house guests for a long weekend in just over 6 weeks. Wow, I really shouldn’t have written that. Puts things in perspective a little too much. However it’s also quite weird to think that that means Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it extended family time! I’ll hold photos of the progress for another time since I want to finish this post before my mom gets here. That’s right, we’re working tonight. (To those of you who know my father/my family this will not come as a shock, but I have a detailed list of every single thing (I think) I need to do everyday of the week in order to have everything just ‘so’ before winter/the holidays hit. It’s intense and I love it. Keeps me focused which, let’s face it, I need.)

Already I’ve had a reunion with one side of the family. Two weekends ago the Quarnstrom’s got together for a Northwest Missouri Bearcat game. Both my father and uncle went to school there. My dad only has one brother and they both managed to get all of their kids (and grandkids) wrangled together for a Saturday of fun (even me, who swore up and down I would NEVER go to a game in Maryville. Well played dad, well played). After 6 or 7 years, it was nice to be able to catch up and see what my cousins and uncle & aunt have been up to.

With what little free time I have left (that I don’t decide to just loaf around at home) I’ve managed to cut out some time with the friends. Just last night I went to a concert with one of my buddies.

Hear that weirdo laughing? Yup. That’s me. Good times. We even waited around after the show to meet Ingrid. Although she was quite pressed for time so we only got a few moments with her we got to talk to Billy (the dude singing on stage in the video) for a short while which was quite fun. I don’t go to many concerts so it was a nice break from the norm.

Okay, well time is tight and I have some wood shoes to measure and cut.

Until next time
~ Q