“i feel so adult!”

Yesterday, I moved into a new house in downtown Decatur with Heather. It’s a little further from Emory than ideal, but the rent is $900 a month, and I have two roommates. Fantastic? Yes.

My landlord is Miguel, and he is also fantastic. He’s a tango dancer, which I found out after I started looking into the house. He’s super laid back and a great landlord so far — right now there’s an electrician replacing every single outlet, and yesterday there was a plumber looking at all of our water. He’s really concerned that we’re living in a quality place. And, more than that, he’s lenient. He doesn’t care if we have dancers stay over, and he is actually giving us $200 off our first two months’ rent since our third roommate (Mackenzie) can’t move in until her lease is up.

The house is a little old, which is entertaining. Nothing is straight — the refrigerator leans to the left a little, and the floors slope in five different directions. A marble could probably roll through the entire house. But it has character! The kitchen and laundry room are laid out awkwardly, but that doesn’t really matter — after all, the house was built before your typical stove and laundry machine…so it’s not like they were planning for it.

Pictures will go up…soon. We are gathering the bulk of our furniture today, so maybe after that.

When I bought the $300 dining room table and stools which are made from antique wine barrels, I was a little apprehensive…I mean, $300? But in the magazine, the stools alone sold for $498 plus about $100 in shipping…so I was clearly getting a good deal. Anyways, as we were driving home, I leaned over and told my mom, “I feel so adult!” Though such a phrase might belie my age…I still feel that way. ;)

a whole lot of nothing

There hasn’t been much of anything significant since I quit SEE. But here are some of the smaller things that have happened…

– I won the Jill and Jack competition at the Gender Bender workshop, despite not having attended said workshop. I got a sweet tie out of it! That was a while ago, though…I’d just forgotten to mention it.

– I like tap. In a weird way. I’ve gone to two lessons now, and both have been challenging and fun. I look forward to next week’s lesson…and after all four lessons, I might do a recap for my own good.

– Finished two books. Pretty g0od, could have been better. Cleaned the house a lot, too. Pretty bored.

– Have arranged to volunteer at three events (Southern Belle, AVS, and Lindy Focus). This is…good.

– Birthday jams were fantastic. The one at Georgia Tech was just hilarious, if only because there was a line of leads and I was stolen faster than I could actually get a full swingout. I wasn’t even going to ask for a bday jam at HJ, but Nima wouldn’t let me slip under his radar…but man, that was a great jam, too. :)

– On the birthday note, best birthday ever. Got a phone call from Gloria, had dinner with the entire family, had lunch with Adam and spent the weekend with Chris. Could not ask for more love in my life.

– Waiting to move to Atlanta. Stoked about the house I’m moving into and the colors I’ve picked for my room.

– Watched Toy Story 3. WOW, fantastic…probably my favorite one, actually. Also watched Despicable Me. Not so fantastic.

– I got a fantastic new pencil skirt. Whoo! Now I have one in brown, grey, and black, all in different styles…so excited.

Wow, that is a whole lot of…nothing. The good news is, I move at the end of the week, so there will soon be much more in my life to be interested in. At least, for me, that is. Cannot WAIT to paint my room and have a good little place to live…

stone mountain…and then some

I finally went to stone mountain…and honestly, it wasn’t half bad. Well, the hike up the mountain was incredibly muggy. And the food was too expensive and not that good. And the laser show was pretty…well, it was a huge advertisement with some cheesy laser effects. But the view at the top of the mountain was breathtaking, the 4D show* was entertaining, the fireworks part of the laser show were fantastic, and the company was good. Oh, and we chased ducks in a paddle boat…mmmh, fun. See pictures below.

If you’re curious, my company was a boy. He’s a dancer from VT who is down here for the summer for an internship…and he’s super nice and super cute, and though I’d really love to take him into a back room and take care of that (and I got so close, only to face plant at the finish line…ask me about that story later), I have found there’s really not a lot of chemistry past my general sexual impulses. I mean, he’s smart and funny and cute, but I feel no overwhelming urge to jump him in public. So now we’re just friends, and it’s kinda nice. Strange, but nice.

Went to the tap lesson at HJ and learned more than I really thought I could — like, wow. It was really awesome. Also, I had some fantastic swingouts that night — in heels, even! Oh…and I got my hair cut! Picture also below.

Look! It's DINNER!

Fellow Duck Hunters helped us scare a whole flock into flight.

New hair cut! Kudos to Gelisa for her mad hair skillz.

PS. I gotta say, the little camera on my phone is fantastic. I mean, it’s not the highest quality in the world, as seen in the first picture here…but that middle picture of the ducks in flight? It’s sharp and clear and barely pixilated, even when you blow it up full size. Plus, it’s super handy, what with it being on my phone and all. I love it so much…

PPS. I uploaded a couple palooza shots. Be sure to check out the video that goes along with the riding lawn mower shot. I KNOW MY RIGHTS!

*For the record, I don’t believe in the fourth dimension. I mean, I see in 3D, and as long as I’ve been alive, scientists have told me that’s about as good as it’s ever gonna get. So I always kind of snigger at the idea of 4D shows, because…I mean, smelling a fart or feeling some water splash on your face is a sensation, not a dimension. So maybe they should talk about 5S shows, for the five senses…that would work, right?

the defecation has hit the oscillation

Yesterday, I quit my job at SEE. It was easily one of the most challenging decisions of my life — I have literally grown up at that outpost, and it’s as much of a home to me as anything else. Half the people there have watched me grow up — even scarier, most of them contributed to my development. I cannot tell you at what age I learned to moon, but I can tell you it was young…and it was a public excursion. When asked at a staff meeting how long I’ve worked there, I said “birth to present” — because honestly, it’s true.

A lot of things contributed to my decision to leave…but it boils down to the fact that I was not respected for the work I was doing and was instead punished for doing my best. I was always stressed. I didn’t leave SEE without crying. There was a lot of petty bullshit going on. For example, M. (the store manager) accused me of “fluffing” my hours because I stayed behind to mop and straighten up after the trips left, even though that was what I was supposed to do so the store would look nice the next day (cough, job description, cough). Another time, C. yelled at me one day because I was a dollar and a penny short in the cash register, and I wasn’t even the only one who had handled the register that day.

It always seemed like a power struggle between M. and myself, even though I didn’t even want the store manager job — long story short, the general store manager, T., bypassed M. because she was never available (who ever heard of a store manager working only one day a week?) and gave me more responsibility that M. had tried to take away…and in response, M. chose to hire two more store girls and reduce my hours in the store, even though I was supposed to be a full time employee. It was a childish power play which belonged in High School, not at work. So two days ago, when I complained to M. about my reduced hours, she told me it was because I was doing a poor job in the store. That was…well, it was crap. She said I hadn’t mopped or straightened up before I left — which, if you recall, she’d demanded I not do because I was getting too many hours. She brought up a bunch of petty things, and I called her out on them…and then she threatened to fire me.

I was livid. All the rest of that day, I thought about quitting — my mom had been trying to get me to quit for a while, and I had recently decided to put in my two week’s notice at the end of this Friday…but M.’s accusations and threat were upsetting. So I decided to quit. I mulled on it for twenty-four hours, and the next day, I followed through.

I had originally wanted to quit to T., who I had briefly complained to about M.’s attitude, and then call the owners (who I am good friends with and really respect) to tell them as well. However, when I called the outpost, I got one of the owners on the phone, and decided to go ahead and bite the bullet; he promised to address the issue, and he hoped that I would be back next year if circumstances permitted it. I called a few more people who I feel deserved the respect of hearing it from me, and I made sure they knew that I will always love working for SEE…but not when I’m being so disrespected by my two immediate bosses. I never actually got to talk to T., and I regret that, because I really like and respect her.

I did learn a lot, though. I learned to keep doing a good job, even if the management hates you. I also learned not to put up with the management’s bullshit. There’s a laundry list of grievances I have with the management — far too many to list here — and it became too much. All I wanted to do was go to work, talk with guests, and make the store look good…but I caught shit from every angle.

Right now, SEE is in a bad place. Out of the five areas of work at SEE (guides, store employees, bus drivers, reservationists, and the photography department), the current management has pissed off both my mom and I, who were the most experienced and well-versed store employees at SEE, the head bus driver, the head reservationist, and the head photographer. There are also a bunch of disgruntled guides, though no one particularly high up in the system — all the higher up guides are either shaking their heads and watching everything fall to shit, or they’ve already left. It’s…frustrating.

It was a hard decision, but now, another twenty-four hours later, I think it was the right one. I don’t have to go in to work on Thursday, after all. No more stress, no more crying, no more bull shit. I found out today that in my last time sheet, which is still in the Mo’ Money book, has FIRED written in big angry lettering on it…even though everyone knows I really quit. I went up to the Pines today to see all the guides, and no one really seems to care. They’re all still my friends…and they knew I was stressed. So, I guess it’s all good.

I’m just glad that my job at Emory has already agreed to take me back at the beginning of August. They pay me well, they give me as many hours as I want, and they respect me…and really, that’s what a job should be like.

palooza

Family reunions are pretty common, I know…but there are few reunions which compare to the reunion called Westbrooka-Palooza, held every summer in early July. This reunion started as a friendly get-together maybe 10 or 15 years ago…my Dad and a friend of his and both our families would get together, go rafting, go to the lake…hang out and have fun, really. Then my Dad and his friend had a falling out, and more family started coming out. This family is mostly from the Westbrook Family Clan, so it includes my Dad’s sister (my Aunt Vickie), and my Dad’s niece and nephews (who are technically his age and technically my cousins, but more like my Aunts and Uncles), and all their children. So this year, we have:

Family:
Bob, Barb (parents), Cari, and Evan. Amy was in Alaska this year, so she missed out on the fun.

Aunts / Uncles:
Aunt Vickie

Cousins:
Chris and Jeanine (related through dating), Beth and Bill (married in), Scott (and Rene is his wife, but she didn’t make it this year)

Second Cousins (all around my age):
Skyler, Libby, Austin…this leaves out a lot of people, like Claire and Shelbi, but not every person makes it every year.

Friends of the Family:
Don Crawley (old perverted uncle type figure), Brendan, Bujar (pronounced “Booyar”), and Mason (who is new this year). Heather also participated this year, which was fantastic, and Don Crawley’s sister and her family showed up, which was new and awesome.

So…what do we do that makes us so crazy? Well, first we buy two kegs and about $100 worth in cans and bottles. Then we buy about $200 in fireworks. Then, as common with normal, slightly less-than-intelligent people, we combine these two things. We play beer pong…as a family (note that not every person is 21). We play badminton, just because, well…someone brought and set up a badminton court. We pick blackberries. We play pranks. We go rafting (which was fantastic this year — Ocoee River with Bill, Smoke, and Potts as our raft guides…two old-timers who haven’t guided in 3 years plus one person who was my friend…). We go hiking. We go swimming at secluded places which require a bit of gumption to access. We make fun of people, like Libby’s minotaur-esque nose ring, Skyler’s “Yo Pussy” (aka Hello Kitty) tattoo, and the apparent Lesbian Love between Heather and I. Oh, and the 20-club folk kicked ass at some trivia at a local restaurant one night. We write “fuckisms” on our cups and hey…anything goes at Palooza. And we mean anything. (Ask me about this and I’ll tell you a couple stories that can’t be published on the internet.)

Every year, Palooza is different, because different people always show up. Mason and Heather were new this year, for example, but Brendan’s been coming every year for five years. Every year we change up the schedule slightly — do different rivers, different hikes, and drink different alcohol. But every year, it’s an awesome opportunity to really get to know some of my family.

Today’s the last day — I have to work in the store, but everyone else is going to go down to Tallulah Gorge and hang out. I’ll rejoin with them tonight, and we’ll probably all hang out around the fire and make obscene jokes.

Hopefully I’ll be able to post a couple pictures up here soon which I have on my phone. More than likely, I’ll just put a link to Heather’s photos when she uploads them.

Palooza 2010: Fantastic.

For full insight in the joke here, watch the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNPxIibhcKY

L - R: Gary and Beth Harper, Barb Westbrook, Smoke, Judy and Bill Norton, Bob Westbrook. Guides in the mid to late eighties, some longer than that.

fragment: a review

I’ve had a bit of free time lately due to work: I check people in at the beginning of trips, and then I clean…and then I sit, and wait for the trips to get back. Usually about an hour, but an hour a day means I’m finishing books with some regularity for the first time in a few months. Anyways, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes the books I read a quality read…because honestly, I’ve read a lot of good books, some of which has been sheer luck, but most of which is due to my Dad’s great taste in books.

So, a review. On Fragment, by Warren Fahy Continue reading