Monday, December 11, 2006
Okay, everyone out there in internet-land..... Where, oh where, have all the good roomates gone? With the help of my best friend, Mr. Internet, I've recently been searching for a new place to live. I have a couple of criteria that restrict my search:
Restriction #1: I'm broke. I love the idea of having my own little studio apartment to myself, but most of those run at about $800 a month, and my budget is only about $500 a month. Sigh.
Restriction #2: I have no car. My little Thunderbird that I bought two years ago decided to crack a cylinder head, despite all the love and care my boyfriend and I had given her. I know, it's depressing. I'm twenty-five years old, and I'm tootling around this city on the same bike I used in junior high. I console myself by saying that it's good for the environment, and that I'll have a taut, toned little bikini body come summertime (*snort*..yeah, right!), but it doesn't really help. So, I have to narrow my apartment search to within a couple miles of school, and that does NOT help with restriction number one.
You know what? In the interest of not being picky, I'm not even worrying about whether or not the potential roomate(s) are female. Of course, I have NO idea how I'm going to explain it to my family if I end up moving in with a couple of guy roomates, but I'll worry about that later. Yes, I know it looks bad. Yes, I know it's a bad idea. Oh, well. I've made worse decisions in my life. And hey, if I do end up with a male roomate(s), I'll never have to worry about the pickle jar being stuck, right?
Anyways, moving on... So, with those two restrictions, I have been scouring craigslist, rent.com, and the recycler for rental apartments. Now, I figured that after a couple days of searching, I might have a couple of leads. It makes sense, right? I live in a huge city... how hard can it be?
Ha. I should have known. I am going to let all of you in on a secret: APPARENTLY EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IS A PARTYING, POT-SMOKING NUDIST.
Well, maybe it's not EVERY single person, but it's definitely every single person I've come across. I'm thinking of helping people out with this one. It's kind of like the personal ads.... With personal ads, things always have a secret meaning. For instance:
"Weight proportional to height" means that the person is fat
"Mature" means that they're getting ready to move into a senior citizen's home.
"Fun-loving" means that they're probably crawling with every STD known to man.
You get the point. So, here's my new dictionary for searching for rentals.
Easy-going/laid-back atmosphere = If you can see the kitchen through all the pot smoke in the living room, consider yourself lucky. Of course they're laid-back. They also have red-rimmed eyes and the munchies.
Fun-loving = Oh, were you planning on sleeping? So sorry. In order to find your way to the bedroom, you're going to have to thread your way through the undulating bodies of all the dancing, drunken strangers. Of course, once you're there you'll probably have to kick out whatever couple has decided to "make sexy-time" in the relative privacy of your bedroom. Once you're in your bed, be prepared to stare at the ceiling and listen to the walls vibrate with the bass until 4 am. Congratulations! You live in a party-house!
Almost Never Home = Yes, they are. EVERYONE claims that they're never home. They're never home, they work long hours, they're away on weekends...In fact, after you've read through the ads for a while, it hits you. Why are these people even bothering to pay rent at all? If they're really home as little as they claim, couldn't they just catch a quick nap on a park bench somewhere, and avoid the whole renting mess?
Shared Room/Rent Free = Congratulations! If you answer this ad, this makes you a bona-fide mistress/prostitute! Has anyone EVER answered these ads in the affirmative? And for goodness sakes, this is CALIFORNIA. You don't actually expect women to believe that a good-looking, clean, respectful, rich man is having such a hard time finding female companionship that they resort to renting out their room to an insta-girlfriend? Sheesh. We're more likely to believe that your weight really IS proportional to your height, or that you really DO love long walks on the beach.
Nudist = This is probably the only claim that I believe, right off the bat. And you know what? It's gross. I do NOT want to be sharing an aparment with someone who's wandering around in their birthday suit. Think about it--- they sit on the sofa nekkid, and they don't even put a towel down first? What if they sit on the arm of the sofa? And then, later on, I rest my head where their... their... their "stuff" just was? No, thank you.
Smoke-free = Hey, do you guys want to know something really cool? Smoking pot really isn't smoking! No, seriously! There are TONS of smoke-free apartments out there that ABSOLUTELY HATE smoking.... but they smoke pot. Oh, don't worry... they also burn a lot of incense to cover up the smell of the pot smoke, so it's not a problem. Excuse me? Let me see if I've got that straight... you don't smoke, and you don't want to rent to someone who DOES smoke... but you burn little sticks so that they'll produce a LOT of smoke, in order to cover up the smoke from the still-illegal drugs that you smoke? Yeah, that makes a LOT of sense to me.
Must love cats/dogs = Run. Run away from this apartment, right now, as fast as you can go. Because if they've moved from "pet-friendly" to "must love", then please understand that your new roomate will ALWAYS believe the dog/cat over you. Oh, so sorry... did Poopsie-poo chew up your shoes? Well, you should be ashamed of yourself! Those shoes gave her little tum-tums indigestion, and she threw up... and now you owe half of the vet bill it took to calm her back down.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit on some of these, but come on!!! I've been looking for days now, and all I've found are the dregs of society. Where do these people hide when I'm not apartment-searching? I'm scared that by the time I finish searching, I'll be completely burnt-out on the human race.
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Sunday, December 10, 2006
There’s nothing quite like failing yourself to make you realize your own humanity. Now, before anyone gets the idea that realizing your humanity is a positive, uplifting experience, let me explain that I believe all humans are essentially bad.
What? Whatwhat? Bad? Butbutbut… what about love, and happiness, and charity, and goodwill? Surely I don’t actually believe that ALL humans are evil? What about people like Ghandi, or Mother Theresa? How do I explain people giving to the Salvation Army, or the innocence in a child’s eyes, or the way some people are willing to lay down their lives for one another?
How do I explain that? Well, let me tell you. It’s simple, really. The reason that those instances come to mind, the reason that Ghandi and Mother Theresa are so lauded, is because they’re not NORMAL. Humans, when left to their own devices, are essentially selfish little money-hoarders, whose main concern is their own life. It’s true--- no matter how hard you try to love, to open your heart to others, to try and be philanthropic… it’s just so much easier to focus on the immortal “ME”. When someone cuts me off on the freeway, my initial reaction is not to gently worry about their safety, or to offer up a prayer that the Lord will help them get to their location in a timely manner (after all, it must be important, because they’re in a hurry!). Nope. My initial reaction is one of selfish anger. That’s MY space they just cut into. They just forced ME to slam on MY brakes, and give up MY bit of freeway to them. Who do they think they are? Now, if I’m having a good week, and I’m actually trying to live like a Christian should, I’m usually able to quell this surge of frustration/anger. Nevertheless, it’s still my first response. Even if you were to argue that my anger is based on fear…well, why am I afraid? It’s because they have endangered MY life. I may be able to overcome this reaction, but the truth of it is that my initial anger is because I’m angry/scared that they’ll take away MY life. In that quick moment of reaction, I couldn’t give a hoot about their life or their problems. Given enough time I can muster up some concern for their welfare. But my immediate reaction? It’s not very nice.
I don’t think many people would argue against me on anything I just said, but they might argue against me for what I’m about to say.
Babies are inherently evil.
Yes, yes, I hear your moral outrage. Not babies! Not those cute, little Gerber-eyed babies! How can anything with such soft cheeks, and wide, innocent eyes be evil? What sort of messed-up individual am I to actually sit around and think that babies are evil? They can’t even tell right from wrong!
Aha. That is EXACTLY my point. Babies aren’t born knowing right from wrong. When they’re born, they’re basically just squishy little sacks of selfish needs. Feed ME. Change ME. Fix MY wrinkled blanket. It’s a good thing that humans are automatically programmed to think that babies are cute, because I doubt many of us would willingly submit to the demands of a baby otherwise. Think about it--- have you ever tried reasoning with a baby? “You know, Junior, Mommy was up every forty minutes with you all last night because you couldn’t figure out how to burp, and it gave you an upset tummy. It’s now eight in the morning, and if Mommy doesn’t get some rest soon, she’s going to run through the neighborhood naked, screaming at the top of her lungs. What do you say, Junior? Can Mommy hold off on feeding you for two hours so she can take a nap?” Hah. We all know the answer to that one. No-way, Jose. When Junior gets hungry, Junior wants his bottle, and he wants it NOW. Junior couldn’t care less how Mommy feels.
Let’s fast-forward about a year or so. Junior is a young toddler, somewhere around two years old. His gummy smile is now tooth-filled grin, and he’s learning an average of forty new words a week. Finally! Mommy and Junior can have some direct communication. Up until this point, Mommy (I suppose I should say “and Daddy” to be politically correct… but… eh. Who cares about political correctness? I’m a girl. This story is going to be told from Mommy’s point of view.)
…Now, where was I? Oh, yes, that’s right. Mommy, up until this point, has been communicating with little Junior through her female intuition. She has to try and figure out what his different cries mean, what this little scrunched-up face means in comparison to that little scrunched-up face. Finally, at last, Junior can communicate his innermost feelings to her through the use of words. (We can all see where this is going, can’t we?)
“My food. I hungry. My toy. Give! Givegive! My toy! Up! Me up! Want up! Want up! Waaaa-aaaa-aaant uuuuuuuuppppppp”… Okay, let’s leave that little scene of domestic bliss, with Junior stamping his little feet, face red with the exertions of his screams. Junior, apparently, is still the self-centered little being he always was. Nobody had to teach him how to look out for Numbero Uno. He was born knowing it. Think about it: everyone is concerned with teaching their kids how to share, right? When’s the last time you saw a frustrated parent trying to teach their child how to be selfish? “Now, Little Susie, you need to learn to not share all of your toys. Sometimes you just need to say no to the other children. No, no, Little Susie, Daddy doesn’t need your help carrying the groceries in. The fact that you straightened up the living room so Daddy would be in a good mood is good enough. You're such a sweet five year old.”
Yeah, right. It'll never happen. Little Susie, at least that version of little Susie, just doesn't exist. Of course, that’s not to say that Little Susie won’t grow up to have a doormat personality and end up behaving like that---some people are, inherently, over-givers. They give too much of themselves. I, usually, tend to be one of them. That’s for a different entry, though. Right now, we’re focusing on humanity’s evil nature. In fact, if I remember correctly, my point at the beginning was that there’s nothing quite like failing yourself to make you realize your own humanity.
Allow me to illustrate with a completely personal, and totally gossip-worthy example:
I am a Christian. I haven’t always been a Christian (nobody has), but I have taken my faith very seriously from an early age. Following the Bible’s teachings and trying to model my life after the life of Jesus Christ is what kept me sane through high school. Sure, it may have made me miss out on some of the more “fun” aspects (high school “fun” is a VERY debatable term), but emerging from those turbulent years with a relatively unscathed heart and body was mostly due to the fact that I never allowed myself to be in a situation where I would be tempted to do anything that was unwise. You know what? It’s a really good plan. It’s really hard to do stupid stuff you’ll later regret at three in the afternoon, on a public street. Unless you’re a very strange individual, it’s virtually impossible.
On the other hand, if you’re alone in your boyfriend’s house, nestled up next to him on the couch, and it’s eleven o’clock in the evening on a warm summer night, and there’s some Jack Johnson playing in the background….You know what? It’s a lot easier to be stupid. In fact, it’s virtually impossible NOT to be stupid.
For those of you who are REALLY interested in all the gory details, no, I didn’t lose my virginity that night. But you know what? I went a lot farther than I had ever planned on going before my wedding night, and frankly, that was almost worse. I think if I’d gone “all the way”, I at least could have reveled in my guilt, or maybe even blamed the boyfriend. As it was, I had nobody to blame but myself, and that’s a very soul-searching place to be. Up until that point in my life, I’d never even considered the fact that I could possibly be weak in such an important area. I mean, heck, I was ME. Becky. The godly girl of the youth group. I was the spiritual leader of the young, and the shining beacon of hope for the elderly (“That Becky girl, she’s one smart cookie. She’s got it together. It‘s so nice to see a young person with such devotion to God.”)
That morning after I failed myself, that was a very pensive morning. It wasn’t that I’d failed God, although it really should have been, and it wasn’t that I’d failed my parents or my family, or anything like that. It was that I’d failed myself, and I hadn’t even dreamed that such a thing was possible. It’s a rough thing to look yourself in the eyes and realize that you’re just as human as everyone else, no matter how much you’ve tried to avoid it. It’s tough, when reality rips the rug out from underneath you--- there really is nobody on this earth you can fully put all your faith and trust into, not even yourself. It’s a gut-wrenching realization to come to, but it’s also a freeing one. Because until you realize how low you can actually go (and trust me, this is just one small example… I’ve done one or two things that I’m still trying to forgive myself over), you don’t actually realize how great God actually is. I think up until that point, I’d actually just taken it at face value that God loved me enough to send down his Son to die on the cross from my sins. It sounds a little childish to put it so plainly like that, but that’s essentially what happened. And I think that, right up until that moment, I’d actually just figured that OF COURSE God would do that. I mean, it’s ME we’re talking about, right? It’s MY life that’s being saved, and naturally, I have a lot to offer God. Why wouldn’t he want ME? Until that moment, I don’t think I realized what true sin really feels like. I’d never really hated myself before. Now, I’m not talking about teenage angst-ridden self-doubt, or anything like that. I’m talking about the moment when you meet your own eyes in the mirror and see the person that you’ve always feared becoming staring right back at you. I’m not saying that what I did that night was all that bad. To someone else, maybe it wouldn’t be anything at all. But God knows where our strengths and weaknesses are, and if you’d asked me in high school what area I would be least likely to fail in…well, screwing around with someone before marriage would be at the top of the list.
But you know what? I’m glad I did it. Well, let me rephrase that. I’m not glad that I did it, per se, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn what I did. I’d sat there for years on Sundays and Wednesday, singing those same words with everyone else….
White as snow, white as snow,
Though my sins were as scarlet
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see.
I could go on and on. There’s all sorts of songs that talk about the way it feels to be forgiven, but until you’ve actually been there, I don’t think you can really understand.
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Thursday, December 7, 2006
Procrastination is a beautiful thing.
Quit rolling your eyes! I am *not* rationalizing. It's true. If I weren't exceedingly accomplished in the fine art of procrastination, I'm not sure where I'd be. When I think of all the wonderful things that procrastination has done in my life, I just get all teary-eyed. Sniff.
Okay, maybe I am going a bit overboard, but it's true that I've learned a lot of very useful skills from being a procrastinator. What are these skills, you ask me? Well, since you're so interested, my loyal audience, let me share with you. In fact, I'll even put these useful skills in bulleted-format, to make it easier for you to read. No, no, no need to thank me. I'm just helpful that way.
- I know how to prioritize. Without procrastination in my life, I'd be hopelessly lost in a sea of responsibilities, without any idea where to start. Thanks to procrastination, however, I'm very good at assessing my duties and assigning exactly the importance they deserve.
- Example: I was a latch-key kid from the age of eleven on. I know exactly how long a task will take me. Nobody understands the true value of time like someone who leaves EVERYTHING until the last minute. As a teenager, I knew that if I started putting the dishes away ahead of schedule, I had a tendency to linger. However, if I waited to start putting the dishes away until I heard the sound of one of the parental units' vehicles coming up the driveway...weeell, it's absolutely amazing how fast your hands can move when your adrenaline is pumping. I also know that if you take everything that's out of place in the living room and shove it in a box, and then hide that box underneath your bed, it can look like you spent HOURS cleaning the living room.
- Note: Procrastination and forgetfulness are a dangerous mix--- the Parental Units were rarely pleased when they found boxes of important items/bills/vehicle registrations/tax returns/etc underneath my bed months later.
- I can multi-task. I've proven that I can simultaneously pay my bills on the LAST possible day (over the internet)...while typing out a book review on a book I've never read... WHILE making half-hearted conversation with the boyfriend over the telephone. Hah. Beat *that*.
- Speaking about that review... I've learned the tried-and-true method of reviewing a book you've never read. Are you ready for this? It's great. (Note: You have to be a fairly-fast typer, as well as a fairly fast reader.) Okay, here goes:
- Divide the pages in the book by the minimum amount of pages necessary for the report. (Example: a 200 page book divided by a 10 page review equals 1 page review for every 20 pages.)
- A page usually fits approximately four or five short paragraphs (double-spaced), give or take. So, dividing that into the pages, that would be about 1 paragraph for every 4-5 pages of book.
- A paragraph is composed of at least four sentences. So, dividing that into the pages, you must type one sentence for every 1 page. Voila.
- And Dr. P, if you're reading this---thank you for my "A' on _Last Days of the Sioux Nation_. I'm so sorry, but I can't remember a single thing about that book, even though I turned in a 15 page report on it. It had a pretty cover, though. Wait... I do remember something about the book. I remember thinking that one of the Native Americans on the cover was in very good shape... in fact, I thought he was downright hot. I also remember wondering, very briefly, about whether or not I actually deserved to go to heaven. I mean, there I was, reading this well-written (actually, it was kinda boring) book about the travesty/near genocide done to the Native American population by our nation.... and I was checkin' out the abs on a very-dead-dude. In fact, I just found a picture of it on the Internet. I'm sure you can all agree with me. Yes, I'm a shallow little Californian, but you have to admit--- but that is one athletic Sioux-guy. Check out his six pack.
- I've learned that somethings can be put off, while others can not. You can talk your way out of late-payment fees on a lot of things. You can even talk your way out of missing jury duty, if you're persistent enough. You cannot, however, talk a library out of turning you over to the collections agency if your fine is over a certain amount. Librarians are a rather rigid sort. They take their books very seriously. I've also learned that putting of returning your library books can cause the late fees to accrue at a horrifically fast rate. Did you know that it's possible to owe a library over four hundred dollars in late fees? Neither did I... until procrastination taught me that.
- I've learned that you can NOT put off shoveling snow. Putting off shoveling snow allows that beautiful, fresh, fluffy snow to freeze into not-so-beautiful ice, and you end spending the rest of winter clambering over a brownish-mound of ice just to off your front porch. Winter snow becomes a lot less romantic when it becomes winter icky-brown-gunky ice.
- I've learned that you can NOT put off throwing away the carcass of a dead, rotting deer. If you do, maggots will take advantage of your laziness, and set up residence. Would you like details? Well, tough. I think I'm going to share the story of my pet dead deer (Edward) at a later date. Edward was with me for six weeks. He deserves more than a passing mention.
Okay, I'm sure I can go on and on... but you get the point. There's no way any of you can argue with me--- where would I be without the valuable lessons taught to me by procrastination?
Hmm. You know what? I don't think I want the answer to that question, because I'm pretty sure that the answer to "where I would be" might involve an alternate universe in which my credit is still good, my savings account is full, my bachelor's degree is already hanging on my wall, and I'm driving a vehicle that DOESN'T have a cracked cylinder head because I put off taking it into the shop. I think I'm depressed now. Sigh.
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I love the look of the buildings, the decor inside, the snazzy music that they play... I love the scent of the coffee, I love the friendliness of the employees... And oh, oh, oh, how I love the taste of their coffee. Don't even get me started on their whipped cream. I've been known to damage small children that come between me and my Starbucks whipped cream. I'm crazy about that stuff; heck, I think I'm pretty much feral when it comes to whipped cream. I feel like I turn into some sort of snarling, wild creature at the zoo. This is the Beckyus Greedicus. See her in her natural habit, stalking the defenseless coffee cup. Note the single-minded determination, and the controlled grace as she approaches the coffee counter. This is a true coffee predator. Do not attempt to make the Becky to share in her "kill". Approaching the Becky whilst she is enjoying her whipped cream is considered extremely dangerous. In the event that you inadvertently approach the Becky during any point of her Starbucks consumption, make slow, non-threatening movements and remove yourself from the area as soon as possible. Ah, Starbucks. How I love thee.
But do you know what? I hate Starbucks. I do. I hate them! I hate the quasi-Italian labeling on their drinks. I feel STUPID every time I start rattling off my combination of favorite tastes. "I'll have a grande three-pump extra-hot vanilla latte, in a venti cup so that I can get extra whipped cream." Did you know that the aforementioned drink has almost 700 calories in it, when you factor in the narcotically-delicious whipped cream? Don't get me wrong; I'm not a calorie-counter, but 700 calories for a drink is a little unbelievable.
I hate the fact that I know the difference between a "three-pump" and a regular vanilla latte. I feel like I've sold my soul somehow, to whatever Consumer god it is that oversees all of Southern California. I hate standing in line sandwiched in between those unbelievably-skinny, Nordstrom's-outfitted, Botox-infested real estate agents. I hate listening to them order their tall, non-fat, no-caffeine, dairy-free Mocah-GreenTea-Frappi-Latte-Whatever. It embarrasses me to be in the same line. It embarrasses me when I have to pull out a five dollar bill in order to pay for my coffee, and that after tipping, I'm only left with a dollar.
Did you know that when I worked at the police department, I drank a Starbucks every shift? Occasionally, one really sleepy days, I even drank two. Now, if we round up to four dollars for every coffee (because sometimes I tip extra), that's 112 dollars every month (not including the days I had two). I worked at the department for over eight months before I decided to return to school. So, that brings my Starbucks-money-wasting to $896 for eight months.... and I'm SURE that I had some Starbucks on my days off. If you factor in everything (the extra coffees, the few extra weeks over eight months that I worked, and the coffees on my days off) it brings it up to about $1000.
One. Thousand. Dollars. ON COFFEE. And the only thing I have to show for it is some acne on my chin, and some extra cellulite on my thighs. Oh, and I also have an addiction now. Great. I'm an addict.
Starbucks, you (insert foul language). You stole my money, you stole my self-esteem, and you stole my sanity. Even now, as I'm writing this, I'm wondering when I'll have my next coffee. I can't get you off my mind. It's like I've joined some sort of cult, and I can't escape. That's not coffee you're selling; it's concentrated evil. It's the heroin of the new millennium, isn't it? Just try one sample... isn't it good? Would you like another one? Well, you're hooked now, aren't you? Stupid Starbucks.