Monday, August 31, 2009

Why I'm vegetarian

I think this is the second post in the last few weeks that has been written in response to something that Magaly wrote, and this time she posted about a certain encounter with a vegan. Hmm, I guess a good way to start this post about vegetarianism is to share how I first became vegetarian.

I'd sort of thought before about becoming vegetarian, but I loved my meat too much. Seriously, my two all time favorite meals were a cheese whopper (hold everything but the meat, cheese, and bread, please) from Burger King, and a nice steak with baked potatoes. But one day that all changed.

I was petting my cat, Kokopelle, and I was thinking about how in some places people eat cats. I was thinking "Oh my gosh, I could never do that! They have their own personalities, their own characteristics, and this and that and..." Suddenly it hit me: so does every other animal. At that moment, I became vegetarian.

(I do want to take a minute to point out that being vegetarian is not for everyone. Some people get sick when they try it -- my mom did. So pay attention to your health if you become vegetarian, and if you start getting sick I highly recommend you either check it out with your doctor, or simply start eating meat again.)

Magaly also points out in her post that plants are living beings as well. It took me a while before I really started thinking about it, and when I did the result was inner turmoil. I was really upset, and didn't know what to do. I didn't want to continue harming living beings in order to stay alive, but in order to continue living it's necessary.

After struggling with it I finally came to terms with the circle of life:

Death is life, and life is death.
To live one must die, to die one must live.
To live one must kill, and in death one gives life.

Simple really, in a way. I just had to realize it, and then come to terms with it. By the way, I put it (and something else later) in a weird way because really these have become...I'm not sure how to say it. At the core of my beliefs, I guess is a good way to put it, and so I want to emphasize their importance in my decisions.

I continued to be vegetarian, but for slightly different reasons. During this time of inner turmoil I came to the following realization:

Life is sacred,
all life equally so.

So my next concern was: how do I preserve life, while continuing to live myself? I decided to simply try to do as little damage as possible, which meant continuing to be vegetarian. (Ok, so maybe there's a better alternative, but I'm not aware of it.) After all, plants are always at the bottom of the food chain. That cow you had for lunch? Yep, lots of plants went to feed it. So, not only are you eating that cow, but to my way of thinking there is also all those plants that the cow ate before becoming your lunch that should be taken into consideration.

I hope I did a good job of explaining that last bit. On the few occasions I've explained it before I usually just confuse people. If that's the case again, say so and I'll see if I can reword it in another post. But basically, I decided to put myself at the bottom of the food chain.

These days, even though I consider myself a "devout vegetarian," I do eat meat on occasion. But I really don't feel like typing that all up now, so I'll explain the reasoning behind that later. I will say, however, that the decision to occasionally eat meat is based on my spiritual practice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Playing around

By the way, yes, I am playing around with my blog. It's probably a safe bet that you'll see some changes in the appearance of the blog over the next week or so. Then again, I might decide the heck with it and leave it as is. We'll see...

Oh, and if anyone does happen to know of any cool backgrounds or anything that you think will fit this blog, I'd love to be pointed in that direction. :)

Volunteering

Unless I have something that forces me to get out of bed in the morning, I will sleep in until noon. At least. I don't like to admit it, but it's true. And simply setting my alarm clock won't get me up either -- or it actually will since it's across the room from my bed, but I'll just turn it off and go back to sleep. No, what I need to force me to stay out of bed is some kind of commitment.

Since summer term ended I've been sleeping in, except for on Fridays, because I volunteer at my local library Friday mornings. Well, I was at the library today, volunteering to mend books, and when I was leaving I ran into the volunteer coordinator in the circulation area. (By the way, circulation is totally separate from my book mending stuff, which is in technical services, and involves totally different people. Just a little FYI.) I'd been meaning to e-mail her about the possibility of volunteering more days of the week, but somehow never have.

There was nothing to stop me from asking her about volunteering more when I saw her today, so I did. When asked if I could volunteer in circulation Mondays through Fridays from now until school starts she just looked at my weird at first and asked "Are you trying to set a record?" lol No, actually, I just need something to do.

So with book mending on Sunday afternoons that will put me volunteering at the library six days out of the week. And, I'll only get to sleep in on weekends.

Goodbye, sleeping in! Hullo, being constructive! :D

Blog Button...


At the very list I'm using this one, but I discovered that I need to do a smaller version of it. So since I need to upload it first, and the one on facebook doesn't seem to count for some reason, here it is.




EDIT: Ok, I sharpened it...











EDIT EDIT:



Ok, so I'm doing some experimenting here....just ignore me in this post...lol


























Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blog Button

I'm getting sort of into this whole blog button thing, and in a fit of creativity made three different buttons for this blog. (And yet more ideas might come to me.) I'm not sure which I like best, so I've decided to put the three I've made so far on the blog and see what my followers think about the matter.

This first one is made with a photo I took at Marylhurst University.








This second one has books I've had as textbooks in previous terms.








And I took this photo a while back at Trillium Lake. You can see Mount Hood in the background, though with the image at this size it sort of looks like a weird cloud. lol






So, what do you think? Which one should I use as my blog button? Or should I just say what the heck and do more than one?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fur Baby Friday

Over at Jupiter's Corner Jupiter has started Fur Baby Friday -- every Friday, she talks about one or other of her furry friends. I like this idea, and have decided to do it at least occasionally myself.

Today I'd like to talk about Socks. He's the oldest of our cats, and I think my parents got him for me the summer before I started first grade. By the time my parents got him, however, he'd already been through at least two homes. The person at the pet store we got him from questioned my parents to make sure that they were willing to take on a cat, clawing and biting and all. It was only after they assured her that we wouldn't return him that she let us take him home.

I can't prove it, but I think that having been through a couple homes before coming to us has left a mark on him: he mostly comes to mom and me, but he doesn't have one person that is his own. I used to not think much of it, but I eventually realized that his behavior might be due to what he went through as a kitten.

He's technically mine, but if he's still around when I move out (which is questionable, since he's old now and I probably won't be moving out for a couple more years) I'll be leaving him with my parents. When we moved into our current house a couple years ago he took the move really badly. And I mean really, really badly. I'd rather not put him through that again needlessly, and as I already said he goes to mom about as much as he comes to me.

One thing he likes to do is scratch. He scratches mostly on the carpet, and shuns the scratching post entirely. He also bites. He bites when he wants attention, when he's happy with the attention he's getting, and when he's tired of being petted. Ok, so he doesn't bite quite all the time, but he does bite often enough that I refer to him as a "biting cat."

Regardless, he's a sweetie, and I love him. Don't ask me why, but I do. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Piano

When I first auditioned for the music therapy program at Marylhurst I had voice as my primary instrument. For the audition I had to sing two contrasting songs, and accompany myself on a third one. Much to my shock, they told me that I'm better at piano than at singing.

After some discussion and confusion, I finally decided recently to have piano as my main instrument. In a way it's a strange thought -- piano being my main instrument -- because I've always thought of myself as a singer first and foremost. But, when I really started thinking about it, I realized that believe it or not, piano has taken me to a place where my singing never has.

I only have one piano piece that I can play blindfolded at this point in time. Ok, so I haven't actually played it blindfolded, but I generally play it with my eyes closed. And when I do, something happens. Simply saying I become lost in it doesn't describe it adequately, but I don't know what else to say. It happens so subtly that I don't even notice as it happens. But, if I openly my eyes abruptly at the end of the song, I have a bit of a shock of "Wait, I'm here in my house, but...what...?" To avoid the shock, I have to make a point of taking maybe five seconds (or more) after I finish playing to take myself back into ordinary reality before opening my eyes.

I don't entirely understand it. It doesn't feel like shamanic journeying, but I know, coming out of it, that I haven't remained entirely in this world either. Whatever it is, it's amazing, and I've never experienced it while singing.

On the other hand, I've experienced other amazing things while singing that I've never experienced while playing piano. But that's for another post, I think, and none of those experiences seem to take me out of ordinary reality.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Publishing poetry

Remember the stereotype of the starving poet? When I decided to see about getting some of my poetry published, I decided that it's one stereotype that might have some truth behind it. Well, it might have some truth for those poets who try to make their living off of their poetry, anyways.

I admit I've only got one poem published, so I'm not the ultimate authority or anything, but I've seen what most magazines pay the poet when they publish the poet's work: absolutely nothing. But I'm fine with that. I'm just looking to share what I've done with people, not get rich off of it. Of course, when I do find a magazine that also pays the poet, that's added incentive for me to submit...lol But most of them don't. And the best I can tell, when they do pay, it isn't much.

I've looked at websites for various magazines or e-zines, and I've got a few I'm looking at submitting to. (Only one of which will actually pay the poet.) I don't think I'll submit to all of them all at once -- I'm not sure that I've got enough poems polished enough for that yet unless I submit individual poems to multiple publishers, which is something that some publishers frown on -- but I wanted to share them here.

First of the magazines (and/or e-zines...I want to use the words interchangeably but suspect I shouldn't...), is Stickman Review. In a way it's sort of near and dear to my heart, since it's the first place that rejected my poetry. lol When I got their rejection e-mail, I felt like a true poet. :P Maybe I'll have better luck with them this time. I also got a polite rejection note from Wild Goose Poetry Review, which I'm thinking I'll try my luck with again.

One magazine that I considered submitting to before but didn't was Brave Hearts. I can't remember why I haven't submitted to it. Oh, and I found a poem that caught my attention on their web site: "Change of Mind" by Lois Muehl. It's a beauty.

Another poem that caught my attention was "Limitations" by Amy Walker. (I know that name. Where have I seen it before?) This was at Poet's Haven, which is yet another place I'm considering submitting to.

Other magazines I looked at are Inkwell, Poet's Ink, and Avocet. None of these seem to publish online, however, so I wasn't exactly able to browse what they publish at my computer. :( My local library doesn't seem to have them either, unfortunately.

I'll sort out where to send what poems in the next couple days. And yes, if any of my poems get published online I'll be sure to share a link here. :D

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ads

You know, it's interesting how advertisements can be targeted for specific people.

For example, I'm a member of Amazon.com. I've mostly only ever bought books from them, but more recently I've been drooling over their jewelry. They seem to have figured this out, because they keep sending me advertisement for 1) earrings, and 2) silver jewelry. I'm waiting for them to put one and one together and start tempting me specifically with silver earrings, which is what I have the most difficulty resisting.

Then there's facebook. They know that I'm single, so they keep throwing ads at me that are all about meeting cute Christian guys. Whenever I see these ads, I keep wanting to ask "Ok, so you've figured out I'm single, why can't you also figure out that I'm Pagan? That's also in my profile info, in case you haven't noticed." I mean, I have nothing against Christian guys, but if they really want their ads to succeed, wouldn't they also look at a person religion in addition to their relationship status?

Anyways, I guess I've seen one "cute Christian guy" ad too many, and that's what got me to blog about it. lol

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Scarf

I'd just like to share a photo of something I made on a knitting loom from yarn I spun myself.


I still don't know how to use the spinning wheel the scarf is lying on, but give me time. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Job hunting

I just wanted to make a little note about that job I've been looking at. You know, the one where I'd be getting paid simply to do stuff I volunteer to do at my local library? Well, I interviewed for that job yesterday, and it's not as simple as the stuff I do at my local library. The basic concept is the same, but there's more to it.

I'm still interested in the job, and I'll hear back one way or the other in less than two weeks. We'll see what happens.

Goals

I have a few goals to accomplish during break, before school starts again. So I've decided to share them, and how I mean to accomplish them, here.

1) Get a job. Obviously I'll accomplish it by job hunting, and I've already started the process.

2) Learn about Hawai'ian deities and religion(s). I figure this is probably a good idea, since Pele has decided to be my matron goddess, and doesn't show any signs of leaving. I'll do this by Googling the subject, and also by visiting my local library. I'll share tidbits of what I learn here, to prove that I'm following through on this goal, and am not getting lazy.

3) Get more of my poems accepted for publication. Obviously this doesn't depend solely on me, but also on whether the publishers I submit my poetry to want to publish my stuff, so I may not accomplish this. But, I can try. I'll start by taking a look at the latest edition of Poet's Market at my local library (unfortunately I can't take it home, since it's a reference book) and taking note of which magazines publish the kinds of poetry I write. Then, I'll just have to submit my poetry, and hope for the best! I'll share which magazines I submit to, and also share whether they accept my poetry or not.

So, from the looks of things, I should probably visit my library pretty soon. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Job hunting

Yesterday I registered for fall term classes at Marylhurst. And because I was finally officially registered, I was able to finally apply for a work study job.

I almost found my dream work study job. It's at the Shoen Library (the university library), doing things that I currently volunteer to do at my local library: pull holds, and process them. I would also process incoming materials from other libraries, which I haven't done in a while at my local library, but have done in the past. From the job description I might also wind up doing odds and ends of other things, but the holds and processing incoming and outgoing materials looks to be the bulk of it. So, it looks pretty good. I mean, come on -- if I get the job, I'll be getting paid to do stuff I volunteer to do at my local library!

Now I just have to convince the people at the Shoen Library that I'm the one for the job.

You may have noticed, though, that I said it's "almost" my dream job. My dream job would really be mending books at the Shoen Library. lol Ok, that's probably not gonna happen. Still, I can dream, can't I? :P

Friday, August 14, 2009

Finals and FAQ

I turned in my final essay for my writing class on Wednesday, and I had my final math exam today. So, I'm all through with summer term, and am totally free until fall term!!! :)

Well, ok, so perhaps I'm not totally free. After all, I need to sign up for fall classes on I think the 17th (I need to double check that date), and then apply for a work study job. I did try to apply for a work study job earlier, but the financial aid office told me that I'm not allowed to do that until I'm actually enrolled -- and plans to enroll don't count. So once I'm enrolled I'll apply, and I'm assuming I'll start that job before start of term. We'll see.

Now I'll get on to the FAQ part of this post.

Before the exam today, one of my classmates asked "Where are you from?" I cannot tell you how many times I've been asked that. The answer just automatically pops out of my mouth now: "I'm from around here. I assume you're asking about the accent? It's actually a speech disorder."

I've mentioned the speech disorder before, in my last post about my passport problems. I'm fairly certain it's Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS), though I haven't been diagnosed. A person with FAS develops an accent after head trauma. Weird thing is, if you put this FAS person in a room full of language specialists, the specialists will be convinced it's an accent rather than a speech disorder, and they won't all agree on what kind of accent it is.

Anyways, after I tell the curious person that I've grown up here, and that my "accent" is a speech disorder, they often apologize. On the other hand, they're sometimes totally convinced that it's not a speech disorder, and that it's actually an accent that I've somehow picked up. When that's the case (and sometimes even when that's not the case), I find myself explaining further:

"I'm sure it's a speech disorder -- I should not be speaking like this! I should be speaking like anyone around here, with maybe a bit of a southern accent picked up from my parents. You see, I fell on my head when I was about a year old, lost what little language I had, and when I started speaking again I had all kinds of problems. So yes, it is definitely a speech disorder."

Often enough people tell me "You should just tell people you're from some exotic place!" Maybe they think they're being original, but no, they're actually not. I've heard that one plenty of times before. To be truthful, I did once consider tell people that I'm from Europa -- one of Jupiter's moons. :P But I haven't...yet.

What I find interesting is hearing the places people think I'm from. People have guessed places on both hemispheres! It's funny. The two places people most often tell me I sound like I'm from are England and Australia. I've also heard New Zealand, and sometimes people think it's a USA southern accent. Then again, I once told a girl that some people think it sounds like a southern accent, and she explained to me that there is absolutely no way I sound like I'm from the south.

It's interesting, though, explaining to people in my hometown that I'm local.


...ps. The Firefox spell checker doesn't like "Zealand." Weird.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tobacco

Something I didn't mention about the drum circle the other day is that tobacco was offered to each of the directions. I was surprised at first, until I remembered that the woman in charge has Native American background, that tobacco is used in Native American ceremonies, and it is highly respected.

I mention this because I want to share something that someone said after the drum circle. Several of us said that we don't like being exposed to second hand smoke (I don't remember how the topic came up -- definitely not from the tobacco offering, because it was sprinkled, not burned) and someone offered the following advice: whenever you find yourself near someone who is smoking, silently acknowledge the spirit of tobacco, its power, and that you hope that the smoker will someday understand exactly what it is he or she is abusing. The guy offering the advice said that second hand smoke doesn't bother him when he does this.

Being an animist and into shaman type stuff, I naturally find this appealing. Heck, I've talked to plants before, so why not tobacco? Unfortunately, this advice hasn't worked for me on the few occasions I've tried it. Maybe the spirit of tobacco simply doesn't like me? I'll have to think on it. In any event, I thought I'd put it out there for anyone else who doesn't like second hand smoke. Maybe you'll have more success than me. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mushroom garden

I'd like to share a little conversation mom and I had last evening, while we were fixing dinner in the kitchen.

...

Me: You know, I once saw this thing in a catalog that you could buy to grow mushrooms inside the house.

Mom: You were hallucinating.

Me: No I wasn't.

Mom: Yes you were.

Me: Then what did I see?

Mom: I don't know. But you are going to be surprised when I get it for you for Christmas.

Me: *squeals with delight*

...

This is the first time we've had this particular conversation, but we've had others concerning my desire to grow mushrooms before. You see, we grow herbs and veggies, so when I fell in love with mushrooms it naturally occurred to me that it might be nice to grow them. Of course, when I mentioned the possibility of growing mushrooms in the backyard, Tall One explained to me that he goes to great lengths to stop them from growing in our yard.

But think, wouldn't it be so cool to have a little area of the yard where giant mushrooms grow, the grass is uncut, and where little gnomes can be seen romping around? ...ok, ok, so if (or is it when?) the mushrooms were to get into the neighbor's yards, they'd get irritated with us. Still, a little corner of the yard looking like that is cute to picture in the mind's eye.

So I guess I'll get some old tree stump, or whatever, with mushrooms growing on it for Christmas. I don't even know what kind of mushrooms, though -- all I know is that any kind of mushroom I eat is yummy, and that we better get some that aren't poisonous to cats.

ps. Mom, if you read this, please know that I'll try to look surprised on Christmas morning. :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Financial aid

I am figuring out the strange world of financial aid. My mom has been helping me, for which I am extremely grateful, since I am frequently unsure what I need to do next. (Of course, it gets difficult when we each think that the other is in charge of stuff...) It also came as a surprise to me that these are loans which I will have to pay back. I somehow hadn't realized that before. But that's fine. I'll start paying them back when I've got my degree.

I'll be receiving a certain amount of money, and I am eligible for work study. I don't know yet what my work study job will be, though. When I talked to the financial aid office at Marylhurst they said that I can't apply for a work study job until I'm registered for classes. So I'll just have to make sure that I get myself over there when I register for classes to find out about getting a work study job.

And I've just got to rave about Upromise, which is sort of part of my financial aid. Through it I can actually get a bit of money for college by participating in research surveys -- just think, I get money for just doing surveys! It's not much, but I figure every dollar I earn will add up. I also discovered today that when shopping I can get some nice deals though it, and earn money for school if I simply register things like my Safeway card. Is this nice or what? :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

This, that, whatever

So when you've only had like five hours of sleep, do you find that you tend to be surprisingly awake the following day? Or is it just me?

...anyways...

I finally discovered my schedule for fall term. Of course, I'd already met with an advisor and got a list of classes I need to take. But now I've actually looked at the catalog. Unlike at PCC, at Marylhurst it seems that I don't have to ponder what class to take when. Each class I need is offered at only one time, and it looks like someone carefully scheduled things so that they would nicely fit together for someone (like myself) who is entering the music therapy program. Neat.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I've got my passport now!

As I shared about a month ago, Uncle Sam wasn't content with the five pieces of ID I provided when applying for my passport. Realize, I provided the same things that my mom and brother had when they'd applied for (and received) passports before me. What I didn't mention on my post was that we -- "we" being my family and me -- suspect that I had been red flagged for some reason by the woman who I spoke with when I presented my ID and paperwork. I don't know for sure why I would have been red flagged, but there are a few possibilities:

1) Maybe it was my speech disorder. People pretty much always think that I'm from another country, because it sounds more like an accent than a speech disorder. I cannot tell you how many times people have they thought that I was from England, Australia, New Zealand, or some other place. So, maybe it caused the woman to think that I was an illegal alien?

2) My complexion. I think it's safe to say that I get my complexion from being 1/4 Native American, but I can be mistaken for other ethnic backgrounds. Once a woman from Syria mistook me for a fellow Arab, I kid you not. So, my looks are another reason I might have been flagged as an illegal alien.

3) My pentacle. Need I say any more?

4) Any combination of all the above.

Perhaps the most annoying thing is that I don't know the why of it. All I can do is guess. And might I add, the extra forms I received to be filled out were all in English and Spanish, and asked one or two questions that seemed like they just assumed that I am from outside of the states, in spite of my birth certificate saying that I was very definitely born inside the states.

Oh, and the extra bits of ID they wanted? They wanted copies of the ID, rather than the originals. We found that rather sad, since anyone with a computer and a scanner could easily forge such ID.

My mom sent a letter to one of our elected officials about this. She explained the situation, our concerns, and pointed out that asking for copies of ID isn't a very good way to do things. She wanted to know if we'd been singled out for trouble, or if it isn't uncommon for people to have to jump through hoops.

We haven't heard back from this official, but I can tell you this: I got my passport in the mail yesterday. I even got an e-mail ahead of time telling me when to expect it (my mom and brother didn't get such an e-mail about their passports by the way), I got it sooner than the e-mail said I would, I got a little card to keep on me with emergency numbers for if I get in trouble when I'm out of the USA (my mom and brother also didn't get that), and I got my birth certificate returned in the same envelope as the passport (my mom and brother got theirs separate from their passports).

Whew. I can stop worrying now. :)