It came to my attention this week that J.D. Salinger recently died at the ripe old age of 91 or something like that. Naturally, this has caused all sorts of major upset in the literary world and whatnot.

I mean, boo hoo and stuff, but really? I feel like if you chose to live your life as a recluse, you're kind of dead to the world anyway, right?

Personally, I thought JD was dead like forty years ago. Apparently not. I just don't know how to mourn a person who intentionally removed himself from society ages ago.

And now, of course, Catcher in the Rye will be all over the place. People will laud it's literary-ness instead of seeing it as like 200 pages of some pubescent boy bitching about school. Because I'm sure nobody has ever heard that before.

Really freakin' original, buddy.

And, just for giggles, here's the official news release from The Onion. It will only be funny if you've read six sentences of Catcher. Not even six consecutive sentences. Just six sentences from any variety of parts of the book.
Because I'm on my way out of the institution known as "school," people like to ask me about my future (which is the f-word, though sometimes I'd like to respond with a very different f-word).

What are my plans? Where am I going to grad school? What's happening after graduation?

It happens every day. Which is astounding, really, because that means I'm coming into contact with someone I'm moderately acquainted with but haven't talked to in a while every single day. I had no idea I knew that many people who were the least bit interested in my f*ture.

I suppose I'm flattered; I don't really know.

Searching for jobs for which to apply can be fruitful some days and pointless other days. In an attempt to cast a wide net, I'm looking for jobs in a variety of categories that interest me, not strictly writing. Writing jobs are scarce these days, anyway.

Besides, I'm not a one-dimensional person with only one interest. I'm a very well-rounded person in fact, and as such I have a wide variety of interests. Having a one-dimensional job would be a nightmare. I'd like a multidimensional job that encompasses several things I'm interested in. Too much to ask? I don't think so.

In an effort to widen my search parameters, I decided to take all sorts of aptitude tests online just to see if perhaps there was some particular thing I have a natural inclination or affinity for subconsciously.

As expected, though much to my disappointment, my results returned things like "outdoors" and "education" and "non profit work" and "writing/publishing" and "agriculture." How I missed the boat on agriculture, by the way, I have no idea.

Anyway, it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, which was kind of frustrating. Maybe a little comforting that I at least know myself that well.

Somedays I'd really just like to give up and enlist in Star Fleet. I think I'd look good in one of those blue sweaters.
I hate grocery shopping, which is unfortunate because I dearly love to eat. Cooking doesn't bother me. Heck, I can even do the dishes... it's always the grocery shopping that kills me.

It's some weird combination of buying food and then not knowing for a fact that I'll eat it before it goes bad and thus I waste money AND food and there are all these people who have neither and then I feel like a big, fat jerk... it's dumb. And the process itself is horrible.

More than anything I think I hate pushing the shopping cart. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I hope I find a guy who knows that, probably above all other domestic tasks and responsibilities, he will HAVE to push the shopping cart because I will absolutely refuse to do it. I hate having to maneuver around other carts and in narrow aisles and I constantly think I'm in someone's way. Oy. I hate it.

I even hate picking out food. Last week I needed more peanut butter and stood staring for twenty minutes at eighty different peanut butters. No, I don't want one with jelly mixed in or one that's flavored like chocolate or one that's low sodium or low sugar or low fat. I don't want one that comes with a free toy or a coupon for some off-brand jam. I don't want one that comes in a jar too big to fit in my cabinet, or one that costs $8. I don't want the soy one or the all-natural one.

Peanut butter used to come in two varieties: smooth and chunky.

But they've even made that complicated. There's extra smooth and extra chunky now. Extra chunky I suppose I can understand. You can always put more peanuts in. But extra smooth? What the hell does that mean? Are they putting less than no peanuts in it? Are they putting negative peanuts in the peanut butter?

I DON'T THINK SO!

So, finally, after spending half my morning in the pb&j aisle, I picked up regular, store brand, chunky peanut butter.

I'm grateful for the aisle with the ramen and canned tuna, which should be renamed the "Almost as poor as dirt" aisle. Or the "food that will survive a nuclear holocaust" aisle. I'm a fan of either of those. I generally enjoy that aisle because that's where I can find all my friends. I don't always know the people, but I know their type... college students or the newly graduated who found that, despite no longer being a college student, they have come in to no more money than they had as a work study filing papers in the dean's office. AND they have loans.

Anyway, it's a comparatively decision-free aisle. You just have to know how much you want. Last week when I went to get my weekly ration of ramen I found the individual packages next to the twelve packs. Stay with me. The individual packages were 15 cents (don't get me started. I remember when they were 7 or 8 cents). The 12-pack was $1.82. Let's walk through this. 12 individual packages would cost me $1.80. A box of 12 would cost me $1.82. I felt mighty proud of myself as I loaded 12 individual packages into my cart. I figured the extra two cents was to pay for the classy and attractive packaging. Raw cardboard and stretchy orange plastic that always seems to be covered in some sort of powder.

The freezer section is also not a horrible experience, though it's getting worse. I just want toaster waffles and someone dropped an A-Bomb on the Eggo factory or something and now there's this massive, national shortage. DAMN THIS RECESSION! It's ruining my life! So I have to try other brands of toaster waffles. Admittedly, they'll all taste like freezer burn anyway so I'm not sure it's worth my money to buy designer toaster waffles. And, for the record, I don't want mine with blueberries or chocolate chips or to be shaped like pancakes or to have Zac Efron's face in the middle. Am I reaching for the stars in my desire to have normal toaster waffles?

I think the absolute worst part of the food-picking process is easily produce. I always wonder who woke up one day and decided that of everything growing in the continent, THESE particular things would be cultivated and widely distributed.

I just don't know HOW to pick this stuff. Obviously, if there's a sunflower the size of my face growing out of my potato, I know not to eat it. But there are so many other things like.. like.. melons and stuff. You just can't get a good one. OH! Cucumbers. Somewhere in the middle of my long list of oddities is the fact that I like cucumbers on my sandwiches. So last week I decided I should buy a cucumber to, well, put on my sandwiches.

It occurred to me that I had never before in my life bought a cucumber and I've come to the conclusion that they make me very uncomfortable. They're all weird and waxy and, above all, inescapably phallic. I'm up to my elbows in cucumbers looking at them and feeling them and squeezing them and wondering if they should be softish or firmish. If little bumps are ok. If it should be curvy or not. If that little extra stem is normal. It got to the point when I had to wonder if I was even thinking about cucumbers anymore at all. I don't know, but I was blushing quite a lot, so I just grabbed one and ran for it.

It's embarrassing to admit that such a mundane errand can cause me this much upset, but I can't help that. I can obviously not handle having choices.

Walmart

8:05 PM | 0 Comments

I got back to my apartment from being at home for two and a half weeks and immediately had to go to Walmart because I had nothing in my refrigerator but moldy cheese, rotten eggs, and an inch or so of Pepsi in a two-liter bottle that has been there since October.

The cheese was obviously the most appetizing thing but, alas, it belonged to my roommate.

I thought going to Walmart midday on a Monday would be blissful. Like an early Sunday morning while church was still in session, sparing me from having to play bumper cars with my shopping cart and witness a variety of parents yelling at their kids for, well, yelling.

Much to my chagrin, there were people in Walmart. Lots of people, in fact. Just not the usual crowd I'm used to dealing with.

I'm convinced a senior center had some sort of field trip to the store and, based on what these folks were buying, and the quantity in which they were buying it, I easily concluded that these little excursions aren't at all frequent.

I saw one lady in a motorized cart shove as many skeins of yarn into her basket as it could possibly handle. No two skeins seemed to match, either. It looked like she just wiped out the yarn shelf in the craft section. Maybe she wanted to be sure she could tell which yarn belonged to which kitty. Maybe she just has a lot of really small knitting projects that require only one skein. Maybe she's planning on making one really, REALLY big project that's all funky and eclectic. I'm not judging.

One couple bought EIGHT packages of Charmin. EIGHT packages. I imagined them bemoaning the nursing home's scratchy excuse for toilet paper.

I got in line after pacing up and down the check-out side of the store three times deciding which register would be fastest when I realized it was futile. I knew I'd be stuck behind an elderly lady or gentleman, but wanted to at least pick a comparatively quick-moving one. No luck.

The lady ahead of me was adorable in an old-person way. She was very sweet and gentle and so... precise, I suppose you could say, with things. She had her list and bought only what was on it and had a coupon, of course, for everything under the sun. But they were clipped so perfectly.

She also had no teeth, smiled with her gums, and was wearing very plaid pajama pants with ugg boots under a long, puffy coat that was more like a sleeping bag with sleeves... which, I realized after giggling in my head, isn't all that different than what I see the sorority girls wear around campus most days.

The yarn lady snuck up behind me in her silent shopping scooter. I jumped when I saw her white poodle hair poking out from behind the mountain of yarn. I wanted to ask what all that yarn could POSSIBLY be for, but didn't because the lady ahead of me was heading home to hopefully find her teeth and it was my turn to pay.
Last Wednesday was my 21st birthday and despite the fact that it fell smack dab in the middle of finals week and that I'm not much of a drinker at all, I decided I couldn't let the momentous occasion pass without having SOME alcohol, right? It seems like a rite of passage sort of thing.

Anyway, I took (and likely failed) my finance final (which I was having serious difficulty caring about) that evening at like 5 and stopped at the grocery store on my way back to the apartment.

From simply being around heavy drinkers (and living with more than a couple), I knew that you could do one of those mix-and-match six-pack dealies with like Smirnoff Ice and Mike's Hard Lemonade and things like that. So I decide that's what I would do.

I felt awkward in the store because I didn't want to look suspicious like I might be underage or anything and I didn't want it to look like it was my first time buying booze, either.

Luckily, it was a bit crowded. Albeit, the crowd consisted of some fairly shadester folks who breathed heavily through the gaps in their teeth.

I found my little mix-and-match thing fairly quickly and filled it with things I was familiar with (again, Mike's and Smirnoff Ice... though I had never tried Mike's) and headed for the check-out, ID in hand.

Naturally, the cashier dude asked me for my license and I handed it over, not making eye contact because I didn't want this big whole to-do because it was my birthday...

But nothing escaped this guy. He gave my ID back without saying anything and then, rather loudly, said "IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY! YOU NEED MORE THAN THIS! IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY!" Which caused the classy people in the liquor store to join in with "OH, WOW! IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY!? HEY, IT'S HER BIRTHDAY!"

There had to be a dozen people there. Some of whom began to treat me to their "When I turned 21..." stories. Others tried to push me in the direction of the hard liquor.

I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, but the best I could do was blush like the cute boy in math class just brushed my arm and get the heck out of there with my wimpy fruity beer.

Thanks for not making a scene, liquor store guy. I appreciate it.
It's Christmas break and one of the only times I can see old friends from high school who all mostly stayed in state for college. So rarely do private and public school breaks line up.

The list of obligatory but nevertheless enjoyable people to see has shrunk dramatically over four short years and I've simply come to accept the fact that time and distance can put paid to relationships very efficiently.

Still, there are a couple of friends I still make an effort to see.

I went out with one a couple of nights ago. It was snowing heavily which hindered travel and both of us had long forgotten about what there is to do, exactly, in town and where to find it, so we settled on Starbucks for something warm to drink.

I'm not a fan of coffee... or paying through the nose for designer cardboard cups, so I don't spend too much time in Starbucks-es. But I have to say I felt very grown up and rather collegiate sitting there, chatting with an old friend... being astounded at the fact that I felt old enough to HAVE someone to call an "OLD" friend.

She graduated from Colorado State last May and spent most of her time in school hanging out with various extensions of the high school group of friends I had long lost contact with. We talked about all the people who managed to get engaged or married or, even more perplexing, pregnant in the last five years. And about the people who haven't.

She told me of a few girls who have been dating guys semi-long-term who are expecting rings in the immediate future. They have, apparently, given their beaus ultimatums. They've literally given them deadlines by which they have to propose or it's over.

To some extent I can understand why some women feel that way. But older(ish) women. It's that weird "Go or get off the pot" mentality, I suppose. Like, if she's 30 and has been dating a guy for 3 years, I get it. I don't agree with it, exactly, but I get it.

But these girls are 21, 22 years old. I realize dating a guy for a year and a half seems like a lifetime, but, c'mon. We're all so young. How can we really say for sure what we want? And our lives are so crazy right now. We're graduating from college, we're hopefully moving into careers... it's a lot of stress and pressure, so you really want to add more of that volatility onto your relationship? If it's going well now, maybe just let it be that way for a while before things get figured out.

And, I don't know about you, but the idea of kind of "forcing" your boyfriend to propose is horrible to me. If my boyfriend doesn't want to propose on his own accord, doesn't that mean something? Doesn't that mean he's either not ready to be married or doesn't want to marry me? It sounds like enslaving someone in a marriage.

There's one girl who was biding her time and just taking her relationship one day at a time... until she caught a glimpse of the ring box in her boy's dresser drawer. It was his grandmother's ring willed to him to give to the woman he'd spend the rest of his life with. My friend fell instantly in love with it and the pressure has been on for him to propose ever since. Every other word out of her mouth is "engagement" and "wedding" and "proposal." It's sickening.

I don't think relationships should be about ultimatums or striking deals or fancy jewelry. If it's not the right time, it's not the right time. There's nothing wrong with being patient.

The friend who was telling me all this recently broke up with her high school boyfriend of 4.5 years. They had talked about getting engaged, even. But things didn't work so well. That's kind of what happens wen you date a jackass. They went through this horrible break-up that lasted about a year. In the meantime, all these other high school friends are getting married. I'm sure it was rough on her, but she's much better off now. She's too strong and too independent to be tied down at this point in her life and she totally understands that. It feels good to know there's at least one other GIRL out there who doesn't seem consumed by all this madness.
I have to say that A Charlie Brown Christmas is my absolute favorite Christmas movie. There's not much competition, really. Sure, Rudolph and Frosty are ok, I guess, but nothing ever compares to Charlie Brown.

I think it's because Charlie Brown's evident frustration with the overall commercialism of Christmas is something I go through, more or less (and this year MORE) each time the yule tide season rolls around.

Don't get me wrong; I can't find the words to express the joy that Christmastime brings into my heart. But after a couple of weeks the excitement, I guess, or the novelty of it being Christmastime, wears off and I can't handle the same old stupid Christmas songs on the radio or the packed shopping centers full of irate people loaded down with stuff.

I don't mean to be a Scrooge. But it gets depressing to witness. Going out is discouraging.

"Isn't there anybody who knows what Christmas is all about!?" shouts Charlie Brown after his failed pageant rehearsal.

Enter Linus to save the day and offer Luke 2:8-14:
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them: and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not. For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

I'd be lying if I said that part doesn't bring tears to my eyes every year. Maybe it's because it's one of the few things on tv during Christmastime that actually discusses what Christmas IS all about. Or maybe it's the sweet simplicity with which the story is told. It's probably both.

Either way, when I get gloomy with the state of Christmas and what it has become, I like to think of Charlie Brown and his buddies and, above all, the child who was born to die to save someone as unworthy as me. And when I think of those things, I feel like I'm able to overcome the sadness and the frustration Christmas never fails to bring me and feel only joy because I know I am celebrating the Savior.

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