My Birthday Bash Day 12: The Necklace

For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.

Erica and Jason at the Space Needle for dinner late that night.
Me and Jason at the Space Needle for dinner later that fateful day.

About six months after I started dating Jason, his parents, Jimmie and Jeanette came out to Seattle to visit from Virginia. Neither of them had ever been to the West Coast and Jason had only lived here for a short time, so it was a big tourist experience, along with me meeting his family for the first time. Part of their trip included going to Pike Place Market. What I love about Pike Place Market — and probably any Seattleite will tell you — is that while the Market is a tourist destination, it is not a tourist trap. Locals, both with our tax dollars and supporting the merchants, especially the farmers, keep the Market in operation. Without locals, some cold-hearted developer would’ve mowed down Pike Place Market a long time ago to put in condos with a waterfront view with a Louis Vuitton store below. (Now you have to walk five blocks to get from Pike Place Market to one.)

As we strolled through Pike Place Market, looking at the various vendors’ tables, I kept my eye for a necklace. I’d been wanting a new necklace for a while, but hadn’t found the right one. I don’t traditionally wear a lot of jewelry, and because of my petite frame, I find that many necklaces overpower me. I also love supporting local artisans.

And there among the booths, I found it: a beautiful, hand-crafted aquamarine and silver necklace. The artisan could tell that I loved it as he had me try it on and held a little oval mirror for me. But of course, when I asked him how much it was, I decided I really couldn’t afford it on a web producer’s salary.

But Jimmie saw me admiring the necklace. He came over and told the merchant that he wanted to buy the necklace for me. I tried to stop him. He had no idea how much the necklace was, and I attempted to do the hand-waves and verbal mutterings of ‘no, really this is very expensive and I just met you like 24 hours earlier.’ Continue reading “My Birthday Bash Day 12: The Necklace”

Birthday Bash Day 8: You have friends on the internet?

For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.

My cat Winston converses with his internet friends.
My cat Winston converses with his internet friends. They make cat macros all day.

“But they’re your internet ‘friends,'” my maternal grandma said to me after I visited her post-WriterCon in 2004 and I showed her the photos of my fellow fangirls. “They aren’t, you know, weird?”

While my grandma only has my best interests at heart, her line of inquiry is one I’ve heard a lot. Yes, I have friends on the internet and the vast majority I met on the internet. And yes, I’ve met around 60% of them face-to-face. No, they’re not any more weird than I am, and *knock on wood* none of them are serial killers. But with shows like How to Catch a Predator spinning around in the zeitgeist, I’m not surprised I get these question.

True fact: the one and only time I’ve ever been cyberstalked was in college and it was an ex-boyfriend that I’d had in high school. I imagine this is true of most cyberstalking cases. Heck, look at the current cyber bullying problem; it’s all done by people the victim knew “in real life.”

Social networking, blogging, hanging out on these intertubes, it’s what I do, and naturally, I’ve made it a place to find friends. It’s certainly easier to find friends interested in the same things I am — Captain America, fluffy bunnies, and Lost Girl — with the entire world as my oyster. I’ve found that once you’ve met a handful of your online friends, from them on, one person knows another, who knows another. The world is far smaller than you’d think.

My internet friends aren’t just internet friends. They are my real life friends. They are the ones who cheer me up on a bad day with e-mails, photos, and silly stories. My “internet” friends let me and Jason crash at their homes when we went to the Olympics in Vancouver and when we went to DC this past fall. Some of them are acquaintances; some are good friends; and some are like family.

In 2004, I met my friend Jess online. I’d left her a comment on a piece of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer fanfiction she’d written about Willow/Tara, and whatever it was, we struck a cord together. We started e-mailing and im’ing back and forth. Jess lives in Boston, but was unemployed at the time, and when we started co-writing stories together, she started living on West Coast time. Eventually, we started talking on the phone. (Both of us can be talkers, especially if we start going on about our stories.) And in 2005, Jess made a trip out west to visit me and her siblings.

Explaining how a co-writer fits on your family tree is next to impossible to a non-writer. Continue reading “Birthday Bash Day 8: You have friends on the internet?”

My Birthday Bash Day 7: Hair Monster

For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.

Erica with a shaved head
This was about 1 week after I shaved my head. From my family Christmas photos.

When I was 16-years-old, I shaved my hair down to a quarter of an inch and bleached it. I’d skipped out on school to visit my friend Justin, who’d run away from home. While talking with Justin and his friend Michael, the two flamboyantly gay boys convinced me that I needed to cut my waist-long hair off. Michael kept telling me that I was hiding my beautiful face from the world with the unruly rat’s nest I combed maybe once a week. For a moment, I was a gorgeous woman surrounded by my stylists.

I followed Michael up to his bathroom and braided my hair. Then we cut it off. Justin was laughing the whole time. Michael did the cutting and brought out the shears. When it was all done, I was disappointed. Disappointed because my hair naturally lightens in the sun and near my scalp, my hair was dark. So we solved that with bleach. They both pronounced me as fabulous as Annie Lennox.

Moral of the story: boosting my self-esteem in a non-sexual way is the best way to convince me to do about anything.

When I got back to school, for creative writing club, my friends thought my hair was great. My mother, however, did not. Continue reading “My Birthday Bash Day 7: Hair Monster”

Birthday Bash Day 2: The Pianist Child Prodigy

For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.

Erica playing the piano at her very first recital.
Tiny me at my very first piano recital.

In 1989, I got Barbie Beat for either my birthday or Christmas. Barbie Beat came with a cassette tape, which played Barbie and her friends’ theme music. You were encouraged to sing along with them. Like a good little girl, I’d spend hours jumping on my bed and singing my little heart out. (My bed actually collapsed once as my constant jumping on it loosened the screws enough that it fell apart. While I was jumping on it.)

My maternal grandma, whom I love and adore, used to tell me I was such a wonderful singer. She’d whip out her child’s recorder — all primary colors and big buttons — and record me singing whatever new songs I’d learned in school. Grandma still has those tapes as she played them for me a few holiday gatherings ago.

Like every small child in the US, I wanted to be a famous musician. However, I’m both completely tone deaf and have a bad voice. My singing career was cut off at the knees. Only my grandma would defend my voice today.

At 7-years-old, I started playing the piano at my mom’s insistence. When I first started playing the piano, I had to play inside the barn. My mom had been dragging around an upright piano rescued from a friend’s summer home, and the barn was where it was stored. I’d sit inside the hay-filled barn, listen to the mice, and play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” over and over. Then I’d go pet the cows. By the time winter rolled around, my parents moved the piano inside the house, where there were modern amenities like heat.

Then there were the recitals. I had to wear ridiculously puffy dresses to my recitals. To this day, I’m pretty sure scratchy tool constitutes as child torture by the UN. Continue reading “Birthday Bash Day 2: The Pianist Child Prodigy”

Adventures in the Windy City

I went to Chicago last weekend. Jason’s cousin Heather was getting married and we took the time to have a mini-family reunion as it’d been a while since we’d seen Jason’s parents and brother. We then took part of Sunday and all of Monday for sight-seeing in Chicago proper. My full photo set.

Here’s some photography I took of Jason and his family. And then, of course, the photos of me were taken by others.

On Sunday, we headed into Chicago and went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Lincoln Park’s a free zoo in the middle of the city. It was packed as the day was hot and everyone was outside. I love looking at animals, but wow, do people need some lessons on biology and not to be rude to animals. Continue reading “Adventures in the Windy City”

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Recap

The Olympics were awesome.

Jason and I drove up to Vancouver on Monday to my friend Sarah and her sweetie’s home. (Unlike all those suckers who waited in long border crossing lines on the weekend, we breezed through.) They were fabulous hosts and we had a lot of fun with some geeking out. I made these chocolate souffl√© cupcakes with mint cream as they are gluten-free for Sarah and the cupcakes were a delicious hit. We went out to awesome Thai food that night and explored some of the highlights of Vancouver Olympic Nightlife. Including standing in a large crowd watching ice dancing and everyone getting emotional. (Jason and Brad were so stoic.)

The next day, we got up early and I was a bad guest who can’t handle the morning and black tea on an empty stomach and got sick. Fail. But I was all better by the time Jason and I trudged off to find the bus to take us to Curling! We just followed the masses to the arena.

And to our complete surprise, we had 1st row tickets! Like you had to be banging a curler or disabled in order to get better seating. We saw Canada vs China (Canada killed them); Norway vs Great Britain (Norway had fabulous pants); Sweden vs Denmark; and Switzerland vs France (they were closest to us). It was awesome and a lot of fun. We drank overly expensive crappy Canadian beer and tried not to yell “Sweep.” (It’s rude to yell while the stones are moving as the players need to hear each other.) I did find it interesting that a lot of non-English speaking teams’ skips mixed their native language and English while making calls.

Some lovely older Canadian women tried to explain curling to us, until we informed them that we knew all about it and had even played it before. They said we could be honorary Canadians for the day. I was also amused by the guy next to me over explaining curling to his 10-year-old daughter when she asked questions. She got on her cell at one point and informed whoever was on the other line that curling “was kind of interesting, but boring.” Adorable.

Then Jason and I went to forage for food near the hockey arena. We ended up eating sushi and watching Canada destroy Russia in hockey. (Poor Ovechkin!) There were a few very loud guys yelling every time Canada scored. We were afraid sushi chefs were going to lose fingers.

We then went to see the Slovakia vs Norway hockey game. It was awesome. Again, I was surprised that we had 5th row tickets. We were to the left of the player’s benches. There were some crazy puck bunnies (hockey fangirls) trying to get the Slovakian players to notice them by throwing themselves as the players during warm-ups.

Only six minutes into the game, one of the Slovakian players was checked to the head and neck and went down. The EMTs came out and hauled him away. And then they cleaned the blood off the ice. It was weird because no one said anything over the announcements the entire time; even after, they only ever announced the penalty the other guy got.

Anyway, the rest of the game was great. It was 3-3 until the 3rd period when Slovakia scored another goal to win it. The crowd was going nuts the entire time. Though it was funny how people cheered for almost everyone or, you know, waved their Canadian flags. Slovakia was definitely the better team, overall. Two or three pucks ended up flying over the glass into our area and then at the end, a player tossed a stick and three rather large men fought over it. The guy who got it’s girlfriend was embarrassed by his behavior.

Oh, hockey, you are awesome sport.

If the photos weren’t enough, there’s video too. Video I took on my phone. Curling is so much easier to video than hockey.

We had a great time, lovely hosts, and everything went pretty smoothly. Winston missed us a lot.

Things of a Kind

Dandolin Wishes by Olivander
Dandelion Wishes

10 things I wish I could say to 10 different people I know (no names used):

  • I miss when you had dreams for the future.
  • I feel like I’m always polishing what you carved. The splinters are annoying.
  • I had this dream once that you were suicidal and only had one reason to live. My subconscious is pretty right about this.
  • I miss the stories you used to tell, but then you dropped off the face of the earth. For a long time, I was worried you died, but I’m glad you resurfaced even if we don’t know each other anymore.
  • I’ve know for a long time that you’re gay, but have never pushed it as we aren’t that close. But when you do finally come out, I just want you to know I’ll support you.
  • I wish I could hold your hand and show you what I see about you. But you’d probably just laugh as it’s something to discover on your own.
  • I thought you were really rude to me and dishonest about what you were expecting, mostly to cover your butt.
  • I love you. A lot. I always have and always will. But never in the way you want.
  • I think you should dump him and move on with your life. You deserve someone who will take care of you too.
  • I really want to be your friend and part of your community, but for some reason, always have a hard time connecting with you.

Continue reading “Things of a Kind”

Happy Birthday, Matt

Happy Birthday Dog by BarrieBarrieToday is my friend Matt’s birthday. Matt’s a dear friend who lives too far away and who’s easily embarrassed, which makes this all the more fun.

Happy 26th Birthday, Matt.

I met Matt my freshman year of college when we lived in the dorms together and happened to be taking a different section of the same Java 101 class. While I became a creative writing major rather than a programmer, Matt stuck with it and works as a video game designer. Unfortunately, Matt moved to California for work and I stayed in Seattle after college. Thus, why I am not dragging a birthday cake over to his apartment.

Matt is one of those friends that you want to move next door to you or live in the same building as you. He’s one of those friends who’s there when you need him. I know in some of my most trying times, Matt’s been the one I’ve sought his wisdom and comfort. And I hope that I’ve been a good friend to him when he’s needed it.

During our sophomore year, we really bonded when Matt’s house became my home away from home to escape. His room became the makeshift library, an often freezing library. His housemates in poor college student tradition decided they didn’t need to pay for heating. We’d often crawl under the comforter on Matt’s bed with our coats on to keep from freezing while exercising our brains. I frequently raided Matt’s sock drawer and sweatshirt drawer for extra layers. Usually ending up with something proclaiming his love for the Dodgers.

One of my favorite Matt stories is a time he came over to do laundry. The dryer in his place had broke. He managed to spill dry laundry soap flakes all over my living room, but I hustled him down to the basement to put in his laundry before someone else in the building got to the washer. By the time Matt came back, I’d already vacuumed. He felt awful and asked if there was anything else he could do. Sure, he could wrap the cord around the vacuum and put it away. I watched in fascination as Matt proceeded to wind the cord around the vacuum like a kite string. Then I asked him why he didn’t use the cord’s hooks. Turns out, at 20-years-old, Matt had never vacuumed. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Matt”

The Story of My Left Boob

Or Why I Support a Public Option Health Care Plan for All

Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer
Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer.
Boobs. As a woman with family history of breast cancer, I can tell you that boobs aren’t something we’re shy about talking about; breasts are important. They are battleground. A ticking time bomb. A much discussed enhancement of beauty and youth. A food source for human babies. There are Congressional bills about them. Despite the new guidelines, we all believe in self-examinations and starting mammograms at age 40. My beloved maternal grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. She’s a survivor. Those ubiquitous pink ribbons dot a lot of my mother’s accessories.

I went in a few weeks ago to my doctor’s for a routine physical. As my doctor’s asking me about my eating habits and checking my breasts, she finds an odd lump on my left breast. Lump + family history = ultrasound at a diagnostics lab. (I’m too young for a mammogram.) I freak out a little. My doctor says it’s probably nothing, just something I should get checked. I freak some more. I tell myself my mom’s had several benign lumps removed. Comfort comes in statistics and phone calls to friends. And then I freak out a little more.

At some point, I realize I’m not freaking out because I might have cancer and die, but I’m freaking out about my health insurance (or inn-sewer-ants, as Terry Prachett put it). Continue reading “The Story of My Left Boob”

Re-Cap: Bunny Sitting

Erica and NibRecently, Jason and I bunny-sat for one of my co-workers and his wife as they vacationed in a tropical paradise. The rabbit in question’s name is Nib. Nib is a black Mini Rex, which means he’s extra soft as his fur doesn’t have any guard hairs. It also means that when he gets stressed, he molts.

Nib is a very spoiled rabbit. His favorite treats include corn chips and books printed before 1960. Both which aren’t rabbit friendly. But he also like hay, apples, and carrot tops.

For those of you who don’t know, I used to raise rabbits when I was growing up. My first rabbit was an Easter gift when I was 7, and I showed them in 4-H as soon as I was old enough. Going to college was an exercise in not having pets.

Books aside, Nib was a good little rabbit. And also very cute. He liked to run around our condo and snuggle on the couch. Okay, maybe he was actually trying to eat whatever was on our plates.

This was also my time to convince Jason that if we get a pet, we needed to get a rabbit. (Rabbits are the best.) I think Jason really enjoyed having the rabbit around. But I think that he also wants to wait until we have house, specifically a library where we can store all our books and is a no bunnies allowed zone.

Now Nib’s home and I’m sure being extra super spoiled from his parents. Continue reading “Re-Cap: Bunny Sitting”