Thursday, August 30, 2007

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

24 hours.


In Redneck Territory, where everyone likes to shoot at things in their backyards.

I wish my nine-year-old cat, Spectra had a little camera attached to her head so I could see what adventure she had the past day or so. On Tuesday night after work, Dave was hard at work in the garage working on the Dodge Neon (my soon-to-be gas saver)-- so when I came home from the gym I made coffee and brought him out a mug. I then sat down on the couch, did some work online, read a little and then fell asleep. Dave came in, got ready for bed, woke me up and then we went up to bed. It was around 11:00. Something was missing. THE CAT.

Dave told me that when he came in from the garage, the door was open. I knew she got out. She's only ever gotten out once before, but we got her right away. She must have been lured away by a firefly or something and eventually wandered off. I looked around in the yard, but couldn't find her. I decided to sleep downstairs with all the windows open, hoping she'd meow and I'd hear her and let her back in.

I woke up Weds. morning very early and went around the yard and the woods looking for her. No luck. My neighbor to the left, Jean heard me yelling and said-- from her bedroom window- she thought she saw a cat chasing a rabbit earlier in the morning. So, she came down and helped me look for a little while. No luck. I had to get to work. On the way to work I called my other neighbor to the left of me to let her know. Before I left for work, I put food on both porches, as well as a blanket so she could curl up and wait for Dave or I to get home.

After watching the Secret a few months ago, I learned to not think negatively. So,even though my imagination was playing out all sorts of plots, I just focused on my day at work, didn't talk about Spectra and just thought positive thoughts. I came home, and my neighbor Doloris had put catnip on the porch for me to help lure Spectra. That was so nice. Dave and Doloris and I looked again for quite some time. I then continued, walking a half mile or so up and down the highway, looking along the side of the road for, gulp, Spectra. And called, and called for her. No luck. It was about 24 hours now. My positive thoughts were wearing thin.

Before I went to bed, something told me to look again. Cats are on the prowl at night. So I grabbed Dave's flashlight and headed to the yard again. Jean had said she saw the cat and that also her boyfriend thought he heard a meow somewhere in the afternoon. But Spectra didn't answer our calls, and she usually comes like a dog when you call her. So, I decided to try Jean's yard/garden one more time.

As I shined the light through some plants, I saw her scared eyes. She didn't come when I called her so I hd to just scoop her up and carry her home. I have no idea if she was there the whole time, but something tells me she was and she was just too scared to come out because maybe she didn't know how to get home, or maybe the traffic scared her....

At any rate, her adventure is over and she's back to bothering me as I type. ; ) She slept with me all last night and I fed her a feast of wet food- her favorite. I usually only give her half a can, or a 1/4 of the larger cans-- I gave her an entire can. And I gave her a good brushing to make sure I didn't see any fleas.

My Specky's home! Nine years I've had her, and now I guess she has at least eight lives left.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Random Thoughts

I heard something sickening today on NPR during my morning commute.

A (go figure) Southern Baptist college in the south- forget the name now- does not allow women to take courses to become a pastor. That's not the bad part. Guess what classes they offer, which are only open to women?

How to be a wife and mother-- the spokespeople at the school say that these classes prepare women for their most important role their ever have.... being a wife and mother.

The world changes so much. For instance, I am typing on a oooohhh computer. And I am able to communicate with blog readers via the WWW. We have cars now. We have DVDs now. We have telephones...

Anyway, my point is this. If we ae embracing so much change in most other areas of our lives-- why are their still such conservative views being preached to young women in institutions of higher education. After all, what kind of EDUCATION is that?

I'm going to college to learn how to freakin' iron and change diapers. I'm going to college to wear wrinkly unwashed clothes. I am thankful for the culture and broad worldviews I was exposed to at Wilkes and I pity the people who enroll in that class.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Valley-itis: A Disease with symptoms like 'lack of ambition'

I love the Wyoming Valley. Many people I know have escaped the Valley for the bright lights and big city. There are truly exciting things out there. It is so cool that someone will take a risk and leave everything they know behind. I admire that and in my going back to college as an adult, I lived vicariously through the blossoming young writers who headed to NYC, London, LA, San Franciso, Philly and more. That is cool.

However, many people say you HAVE to leave the area to have a good career. In certain cases if you are going into a very specific field—for instance if you are going to school to study transportation you may have to move to a city that has more of a transportation system. But if you have a more ‘general’ degree such as business, marketing, communications, education, etc. you don’t necessarily have to leave the area to make your mark. So, the people who say there is NOTHING here… they are lying. You just have to look.

Many people remain in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas and have great careers and great lives. There may be lesser options and you may have to work smarter and harder, but it can happen here. Staying here does not make anyone not ambitious. However, there is something in this area that is spreading like wildfire. It is a true sickness and I didn’t realize how bad it was until recently.

Before I get into that sickness, I must also add that there is culture here—there is arts and entertainment galore—you just have to find it. This area truly has many things big cities have…

But many people who are tied to this area have no ambition. None. I am the first person to say that I can respect someone with a menial job or limited education as long as they are aspiring to be the best they can be at it. However, since I live in a rural area, the past few months I have been growing more and more disgusted with certain types of people around here. If I call them rednecks, will anyone be offended? And, there is also the general redneck mentality that is infiltrated to the city.

Case in point. I know someone from the West Side who hated her job. We had many, many talks about this. I inspired her to find a new job. I inspired her to take a risk and change her life and just be happy. I even helped said friend get job. And I did something I will NEVER do again: I put my name on her. She was hired. She was supposed to start there in two weeks. Then you know what she did? She rescinded her job offer and opted to stay at the place she was so miserable at. I cannot for the life of me figure people like that out. (P.S. I know how miserable it was because I too worked there and I left for the same reasons, if not more, as she wanted to… )

I was mad for a few days—not so much about my putting my name on the line—but angry at her and the people like her who are so afraid of change and so afraid of doing something with their lives. Now I write this blog as therapy.

There is a term called “Valley-itis” here in the Wyoming Valley. It’s used to describe people who will settle. People who are happy with menial jobs, no or low education, etc. These people have a limited worldview and are in general so very ignorant of the world around them. They laugh when someone has a different accent. They scoff that a Korean food restaurant opened in Sweet Valley, as one example. People are afraid of things not like them. Why? They also laugh when I say I am getting my master’s and ask me why I’d want to go to school past high school. (Because I don’t want to be like, you, you jackass!)

I run into people all the time at these country bars. I can carry a conversation with them about what Paris Hilton has done recently, but if I try to talk about what I do for a living, they start to get all awkward and goofy because they don’t understand. Anyone have a similar situation? When someone doesn’t understand the subject matter, they start to mock it. I cannot tolerate this ignorance and I do not want to go to these places.

I seriously had an epiphany the other day. I am the type of person who loves everybody and I never wanted to look down on someone. I have always been accepting no matter what. But you know what? Now I know why people go to upscale bars and cultural events—because you will be surrounded by like-minded individuals that you can actually converse with. (Or to be frank- it weeds out the trash.) I don’t think I could afford to go to these places all the time, but the reality of it is, I may have to start. Either that, or just make sure I am with a group of people that I want to hang out with. I am a social person and like to talk to everyone, but if I keep going to these country bars- whose poor grammar-ridden menus and handwritten signs say things like “Jello Shot’s 50-cents”—I think my own level of intelligence may dwindle. I met one girl and her sister- they live in a two-bedroom house with a family of seven. That’s right. No one ever moved out. None of them went to school. All of them work in fast food or at gas stations. What a way to live your life. Cooped up with my four siblings and parents. No drive. Except to drink at the redneck bar.

I am not saying these things to be mean by any means. I am just starting to realize the difference between people who have ambition and those that don’t. I think education plays a vital role, but not always. In certain trades and fields a higher education isn’t necessary. There are many self-taught geniuses and self-made millionaires. So book education doesn’t mean everything—but being open-minded and knowing about the world around can replace any deficiency in education.

There IS a Cure For Valleyitis. No prescription necessary. (I am sure that every area has a similar sickness.)

1) There are many fine institutions of higher education in Northeast Pennsylvania. Pick one. Finish there.

2) There are many print publications in our area that contain classified ads. Grab a marker and start circling. But the trick is, after you circle it, send in your resume or stop by for an application, depending on what kind of job it is.

A job will most likely ask you to come in for an application, while a career would have you send a cover letter and resume, just so you know the difference. A career is better, but it may take you some time (see #1), so a job is also acceptable. There are A LOT of jobs around here and at least you will be off your ass.

3) There are wonderful bars in this area. However, keeping a set schedule and always showing up to the bar at the same time each day does not mean you have a job. Do not spend all day at said corner bar. Use the corner bar as a place to unwind after a day at your job or career. Do not use it as a place to exist.

4) If you have a job or career, look above you. (Not literally.) Where can you go from here? Just because you are gainfully employed does not mean you have to stop where you are. That is called “settling.” Perhaps parents or other naysayers said you could settle. Don’t. Please.

5) Newspapers. Read them. Books. Read them. NPR. Listen to it. Then, watch your vocabulary grow.

6) Other cultures. Why are we so hung up on ourselves as Americans? Hello! The Earth is a tiny speck in the universe, just like America is a tiny speck on the Earth. Learn about other cultures. Realize that there are people different than you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tomorrow is the day I've been waiting for. I just forgot about it.


What does a gal do when she has a semester's worth of Computer Science 115 work to cram into one evening? Simple. This is what she does:

1) She spends a few hours working on her creative writing class.
2) She adds applications and friends and photos to her ressurected FaceBook page.
3) She does a 50 question MySpace quiz.
4) She e-mails some pictures to friends.

Procrastination is evil. In fact, procrastination is what got me where I am tonight.


5) She blogs.

Okay, let me continue. So, as some of you know-- I was supposed to graduate last May, but during my senior audit, there were a few things that didn't add up. This was partially because there was a lapse in when I began my undergrad and when I decided to return as an adult learner. The graduation requirements changed duing this, um... decade. So, I was all set to take a challenge exam for Computer Science 115. I have worked with computers from as long as I could remember, so all parties are confident that I will pass. It was just a procrastination thing. I should have done this a year ago. I am doing it now.

I think part of it is psychological. I think that part of me just feels a certain amount of comfort at Wilkes and within the community. However, when I decided I wanted to pursue my MA in Creative Writing, I really kicked my ass in gear. Luckily for me there is a certificate version of the program-- I was accepted to the program, but since I did not officially hold the BA, I am enrolled as a certificate student. However, all that will change tomorrow.

Pending passing the test- which I am condifent I will- I will finally- after TEN YEARS- earn my BA in Communication Studies with my minor (almost double major) in sociology. I will FINALLY walk across the stage in September.

So- I need to not be TOO confident. I need to read the text book Dr. Lew let me borrow. I did read through it over the past few months, but since I scheduled the exam, I forgot. Today when I came home from work I realized that it was tomorrow.

So. Here I cram. It's okay. Cramming's all I know how to do. With the exception of one or two 2.5 and 3.0's- I've been successful in academia waiting until the last minute. Why stop that pattern now?

I found an online practice area for-- don't laught-- junior high computer classes. I took several practice tests and scored well-- face it- technology is being taught younger and younger these days so these practice exams are helping. If only I wouldn't blog, or MySpace or FaceBook or work of the MA coursework between.....

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bazaar Season: Indulging in Beer and Potato Pancakes

Newcomers to Northeast Pennsylvania always ask, “What is a bazaar?”

Usually thrown by a church or emergency rescue organization (fire, ambulance), bazaars are annual fundraisers, which involve drinking, eating, games of small chance, music... and drinking. Bazaars are a tradition in Northeast PA and they lure out all types of people. Normal people, esteemed people and people like the people I wrote about from my trip to Wal-Mart. But we're all there together, for the same reason.

The picture to the left there is the beer truck-- usually a cheap beer like Busch is served. Pitchers are $8 and then $6 for a refill-- not a bad deal. Most of the food is homemade- at least the food stand which has the biggest line:

Potato Pancakes!!
That’s one of the greatest things about bazaars. The potato pancakes. Circles of potato batter deep-fried to a greasy, golden goodness. You top them with salt and pepper and dip them in sour cream and, man are they freakin’ delicious. (The pic below just makes my mouth water!)

Other staples of the bazaar are also Polish in nature- haluski (cabbage and noodles) and pierogies. The music is always great—many of the top local bands in the area enjoy playing them as it gives them a change of scenery from the barrooms and allows fans of all ages to hear the music, as opposed to those of drinking age.

Dave and I went to the Lake Silkworth Fire and Ambulance bazaar last night and met up with some of our friends. We ate, drank and enjoyed 40 lb. Head. Then, since the night was young, we decided to head to the Hunlock Creek Tavern, which is kind of like the bar I blogged about a few days ago. Entertaining.

Nicole and I at the bazaar. I look like a ghost next to her!

At the bar, we had a few beers- and were entertained by a great band- 3rd Degree. They were really, really good and got the crowd going pretty well. We were also entertained by the antics of some very drunk and backwoodsy patrons. We then did a few pitchers of Kamakazie shots-- which were made with way too much lime juice. I got sick this morning. It was from that, I am sure. I don't think it sat well with all the food I ate at the bazaar.

Karen, Colleen, Nicole and I at the Tavern before the fun ensued.

One of NEPA's finest getting his groove on, Busch in one hand, stogie in the other. Note the girl in the mini-skirt on left of him. I have a better pic of her-- she had boots up to her knees and notice her dancing with her hands in her hair? They didn't leave her hair all night. I think they were stuck.

When we arrived, there was a reserved sign on the table. We were told we could sit there anyway. I put the reserved sign on my chest. I thought it was funny.....