Some days I am sure that
the branches in my heart
are but arms reaching
            out, furthering
their fragile, reddened grasp
to wrap around another’s.

They know my heart beats
better when I’m around you.
Stronger, somehow; filled
with blood and purpose,
the second of which is sure
to make the first flow sweeter.

Some take exercise.
Others, pills.
I get by with a breath of
prayer and a body filled
with furthering branches.

Who knew that a girl like me—
five foot two, and hardly a reach,
could house enough branches
to stretch out,
                           out, far past
the whining crabbing ships
and furrowing ocean brows

                       to reach you.

Job Hunting

Five Random Facts About My Kitchen

1. One of my earliest memories is playing with a rubber centipede on the kitchen floor. I tossed it (trying to get the cat to do it's catly duties and chase it), but when I went to pick it up, it crawled under the stove. Yes, that's right...a real, live, gigantic centipede had been chillin' next to my fake one.

2. My Mom forgot about hot dogs cooking on the stove during a garage sale when I was about seven. We had no idea why the fire department pulled up to our yard until they opened our door and we saw smoke wafting out like it was Lucille Ball's dressing room. I personally thought they might have been interested in purchasing my old tea set.

3. Grandma invited the fire department over for yet another adventure when she forgot about bread left in the toaster oven. This resulted in more smoke, more firefighters, and a sign taped to the toaster oven that reads "OFF LIMITS TO MARIE!"

4. I learned today that it's unwise to run the microwave and the toaster oven at the same time. Apparently, our appliances are so powerful and futuristic that they'll throw a measly ol' 2009 circuit breaker and cause the entire kitchen to lose power.

5. I make my food there.

17-year-old Laura...

She was complicated.


Special thanks to my guest model, Lauren!

Qualms for the Poor

I just finished filling out a job application to a local art supply store. I've always thought working at this place would be fun, considering I'd get to smell the potpourri all day and play with fake fruit (those grapes look so GOOD!) in between some actual work-doing. But now that I know how intense the application process for this place is, let's just say I definitely hold much more respect for the current employees.

Not that every other application I've filled out so far hasn't been in-depth or time consuming. I don't know how many time's I've had to enter social security numbers or old employer phone numbers or answer questions concerning violent and irresponsible behavior. But this application...this was just different.

The initial process was fine. I entered my name, address, contact information, filled in tedious amounts of backround employment information, privately sifted through entertaining memories of said employment. But then, completely out of nowhere, I had to complete a timed 10-minute logic and math test.

 Math and Logic.

Suddenly a job requiring the ability to arrange flowers and know the difference between 2B and an HB pencils was asking me complex fraction/decimal math problems. Word associations were also thrown in the mix, like "Qualm is to Trepedation as _____ is to _____."

I suppose I can see why they would want to do this. I mean, of course you wouldn't want to hire someone that has no idea how to do basic things, like...say...count change, alphabatize files, or know what the relationship between "Qualm" and "Trepedation" is.

So after freaking out about getting as many answers shoved down the computer's throat in the span of ten minutes as I could (hey, just because I'm not great at math doesn't mean I can't stock yarn and modeling clay!), I took a deep breath and calmly proceeded to the next section.

Pretty much every job application in America has some sort of section involving personality traits or tendencies that give the employer 'insight' into your mentality. It's always hard to tell where they're getting at with some of these questions, or even if they take them seriously. If you answer all of them with the obvious best choice, do they think you're a liar, or just a control freak? If you answer some of them negatively (or just plain honestly), will they appreciate your openness, or will they think you're too unstable for employment?

Because of these questions running through every job hunter's head, you tend to be a little less specific with your answers in order to give the employer what you think they want to hear. ("Sell yourself!" As they always said in high school.) I took a screen shot to show you just what I mean.

And hey, before you judge my answers, I promise you I had perfectly legitimate reasons for answering the way that I did! (Look at me, always the self-conscious one.)

To see the full-res pictures, click on the links above the photos (In case blogger's dont work).

Yeah, humans are too complicated to be able to answer such loaded questions with "Agree" or "Disagree", don't you think?
Oh, and this question pretty much made my day. It didn't inspire much hope for what they expect out of their employees:
Qualm is to Trepedation as Blank is to...oh, wait, how old am I again?

Wake Up Call: an Identity Crisis

10:30 am this morning:

Ring, Ring! (That's suppose to be my cell phone. It doesn't actually "ring", it has a ringtone...but I don't really know how to demonstrate that in text form. So yeah, my phone will ring in this case.) Ring, Ring!

Me: "Hello?"  
Caller: "Hey." 
Me: "Hey...what's up?" 
Caller: "Did I wake you up? You sound, like...groggy or somethin'." 
Me: "Oh, yeah. I'm still on New Zealand time. But it's fine, seriously." 
Caller: *silence* "Ah, right. Well, my mom kicked me out." 
Me: "What? Are you serious?" 
Caller: "Yeah." 
Me: "I thought you lived with your dad..." 
Caller: "Yeah, but he kicked me out before this." 
Me: "But you're still living up here?" 
Caller: "Yeah..." 
Me: "I thought your mom lived down in San Diego!" 
Caller: "What?" 
Me: "Your mom...I thought she lived in San Diego. Remember when I picked you up there?" 
Caller: *silence* "Um...who is this?" 
Me: "Who is this..." 
Caller: "Shawn. Is this Valerie?" 
Me: "No..." 
Caller: "Oh. Bye." 

I guess carrying a two-minute long conversation with a complete stranger under false pretenses wouldn't exactly be a regular occurrence, but when that stranger has the exact same voice as an old friend you talked to the day before (for the first time in almost a year), it can definitely happen.

But I feel kind of rejected, to be honest, being hung up on like that after he just shared something so personal with me. Do you think I became attached too quickly?

What throws me off is that the "New Zealand time" comment didn't give him any earlier clues...

Terminal Embarrassment (Mmhmm, a nice pun for you there.)

Do you ever feel a weird desire to impress complete strangers for absolutely no reason?

I was at the airport a couple days ago heading toward Terminal 3 to wait for my flight from New Zealand back to California. (Awesome note...Blogger doesn't recognize 'Zealand' as a word. It wants me to change it to 'Zea land' or 'Zealot'. Poor Kiwis.) I had to take an escalator to get where I needed to go, which usually excites me...I mean, once I got over seeing a kid almost choked to death by one when I was about 10 (the guy got his sweatshirt drawstring caught underneath the cycle...don't ask me how it happened), I've always thought escalators were the height of technology. They make me want to wear bluetooth devices and clip smart phones to my leather belt. If I wore one, anyway.

But this time I had a group of three Japanese people walking rather quickly behind me. Two of them were wearing high heels, and the rapidly approaching clacking sounds were already stressing me out.

Now, I've always heard the stereotype that Americans never walk up or down escalators. Apparently we just slump there in our bluejeans and crocs waiting for the machinery to slowly deliver our fattened bodies to their destinations. Being in a foreign country on my way to a flight toward the USA, I thought the people behind me might assume I was American, so I suddenly felt this strong desire to contradict the stereotype and suprise them with my willingness to perform physical activity. As soon as I got onto the moving stairs I began to hustle my way down.

The first couple stairs were fine. I was graceful and quick like a lone gazelle leaping effortlessly through the field (do I even know what a gazelle is?). But once I got to the fourth or fifth, the clacking heals behind me got louder and faster, and I completely lost my focus. I was overstepping stairs, hanging on too tightly too the railing, tipping off to one side, and pretty much looking like a complete and utter spaz. And the worst part is that when I got to the bottom part - you know, where you do that thing where you prepare yourself to step onto non-moving ground - um, yeah. I overcompensated.

So what was an honest attempt to represent the respectable American population ended up turning into a very tired redhead looking like she was in serious need of a walker.

After my stumbling spree, the Japanese people nonchalantly walked past me and continued on their own mysterious japanese-person journey. I, however, looked up to see an entire terminal of people staring at me with eyes that could only say "Oh, yeah. We saw the whole thing."

So what did I do? I looked a few people straight in the eye and smiled this goofy-looking "oh well" kind of grin, because I wasn't about to try and look dignified this late in the game. But the funny thing is that they all nervously glanced away as soon as eye contact was made. Either my goofy looking grin was a little too scary, or something very ironic happened: I'm embarrassed that I just earthquaked my way down the escalator, and theyre embarassed that I know they witnessed my embarrassment. I mean, will the self-consciousness ever end?

Sometimes it's fun to just sit and watch people, airport terminals definitely being prime spots. You notice people "reading" the same single page in their books for twenty minutes straight. People constanly check voicemails or hold a phone to their ear that you wonder if anyone is really on the other end of. Women clutch their purses and walk down the hallway with this overconfident stride that screams "You don't wanna mug  me, I'm a fierce, independent woman...I'm strong...I'm powerful...I think I can, I think I can...you don't wanna mug me, for Pete's sake, please don't mug me!" And you just kind of wonder...with all this time we put into wondering how other people see us, are they actually really seeing us, or are they too preoccupied about judgment themselves?

 I can be pretty bad at this myself sometimes. When I lived on my own for a while, I use to only buy wheat bread and natural juices because I didn't want the person at the checkout counter thinking I was eating too many processed foods.


Diary of a Younger Me: January 5, 1996

(Original spelling/formatting included.)

Dear diary,

I wrote a book today. It's called THE STORK. It is a good book I hope. If youl ever read it, it would probably be kind of dum to you because I am only eight years old. I was a lazy bumm today. I stayed in my pajamas all day. My sister saw something. She says she saw a gray car stop by and say to a woman GET IN! She could not see what the woman did because a tree was in the way. I'm tired now.