Friday, January 28, 2011

Brought to you by the letters C, R, and T

So I have a couple of new letters to add after my name.

I took my CRT exam today, which is the entry-level certification for respiratory therapists.  I was supposed to have done this several weeks ago, but the snow happened, and I had to reschedule.  I was afraid I was going to be the last person in my class to take the stupid thing, but I was actually testing today with two of my classmates.  Not that it made any difference, because we were expressly forbidden from speaking to each other.

Anyway, I got a little apprehensive about the whole ordeal when reviewing my confirmation email this morning.  Not because of the test - I mean, it's a big deal and everything, but we've been taking practice CRT exams at the end of each semester since I started school, and I passed them all - but because of the instructions on how to locate the testing center.

The first thing that stuck out to me was the instruction to park in a parking deck across from the bus station.  Now, I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but there are a lot of very sketchy people that hang out at this bus station.  It's a very lovely building, but it's kinda hard to see the beauty of it when there are vagrants vomiting in the bushes around the clock.  Also, it has been heavily graffitied.  However, the graffiti-ists were not the most creative of people.  So the entire building is covered in rather non-descript messages in black spray paint.  As I have never tagged anything myself, I don't know if this is actually the current style of graffiti.  I suspect we just have really bad graffitiers.

(I really wish I had a picture to show of this, but I sure as hell wasn't going to hang around long enough to take one.  My apologies.)

Anyway, the directions went on to instruct me to walk up several blocks and look for a building with a green awning.  Not a problem.  Green awning.  Got it.  Then, they instructed me to walk passed the door of the building and down an alley.

An alley.

I didn't really know what to make of that.  I mean, I try to avoid alleys at all costs.  Mostly because I tend to be a tiny bit on the nervous side, and I've watched entirely too many cop dramas on television over the years to ever consider hanging out in one for any reason.  But I reasoned that the testing center people surely wouldn't send me down an alley for no reason.

The next step was to look for an unmarked door behind a Dumpster.

At this point, I started to suspect that the testing center was actually a speakeasy in the 1920's.  An unmarked door.  Behind a Dumpster.  Seriously.

The door was, of course, locked.  So I knocked.  And waited.  Alone.  In an alley.  Behind a Dumpster.  I really expected someone to jump out of it and knock me in the head and steal my purse or something.  So I waited for someone to let me in.  In reality,  I probably waited about 30 seconds.  But they were the longest seconds OF MY LIFE.

Once inside the testing facility, I got to go about proving I am who I say I am.  I used my passport, because in most cases, a passport counts as two forms of identification.  But not here.  I'm lucky I had my driver's license on me, because I was not about to walk back through the scary alley and passed the bus station to get it.

I then had to remove all of my jewelry and prove that my eyeglasses were eyeglasses and not some kind of crazy cheating device.  I couldn't even bring my own pencil into the testing room.  We were provided with a golf pencil and one piece of lime green scratch paper.  All of my other belongings were placed inside a canvas bag, which was then locked and attached to the back of my chair.  I had to argue with the woman for ten minutes to get her to let me keep my inhaler out.  She really didn't want to let me, but when I pointed out that in the event of an unexpected problem I could be dead by the time she unlocked my bag, she relented.  But I had to sit it on the table behind me.  In case I had crib notes written on the canister or something.

I can't really say much about the test itself, because apparently the first rule of CRT testing is you do not talk about CRT testing.  But 86 minutes later, I walked out of that place with my scores in my hands, and I didn't even notice the alley or the bus station.  Because it was over.  And I passed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Typed up while wearing super-cute fingerless gloves

I'm feeling particularly Slytherin-like today (and if you don't understand what that means, I don't think we can be friends anymore).  And it's not just because of these:

Although that *is* part of it.  I mean, maybe a true Slytherin wouldn't have the little flowers, but I like to think that at least one would appreciate the dichotomy of liking ambition AND pretty flowers.  And you can't really tell from the picture, but my toenails are painted green, too.  I should be wearing a green shirt, too.  But I ordered this baby from ThinkGeek and it came in the mail today:

It's only the most amazingly epic shirt EVER.  I was so tempted to also purchase the Tim the Enchanter hat and evil bunny slippers, but I refrained - for now.  No promises that they won't be winging their way toward me at some point in the future.

It's been a lazy couple of days at Chez Erin because we got some snow, and as I mentioned before, snow means staying at home if at all possible.  It was very pretty snow, though:

I hesitate to complain about our paltry four inches when I know that New England is getting hammered by feet upon feet of the stuff.  But other parts of the country are far better prepared for it than we are.  Hell, we don't even have snow plows.  We have a couple of Bubbas that slap makeshift plows onto the fronts of their pickups.

So it's not the best of situations.  But it usually grants us at least a couple of days off of work or school, which is always appreciated.  Particularly those of us in college who are not required to physically make up snow days.  Sure, we're responsible for the work missed, but at least they can't add days to the end of the semester.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I have a confession to make.

Socks are not my only love.

Let me give you a minute to process that shocking information.

Yes, it's true.  While socks have a very, very special place in my heart, I also have a weakness for hats.  The bigger, the better.  The crazier, the better.  It is my dream to one day attend the Kentucky Derby for the hats alone.  Give me something huge and gaudy with tulle and sequins and feathers, and I am in heaven, y'all.

So naturally, today is one of my favorite days of the year.  It is National Hat Day.  The day to celebrate all things millinery.  Now, as I mentioned before, I live in a tiny, tiny room.  Which means that my biggest and best hats are currently stored away for safe keeping.  But rest assured - my cramped quarters have not stifled my love of hats.  Just steered me toward slightly smaller versions of my lovelies.

There was a woman named Willie Oates who was a state legislator and major philanthropist in Arkansas who died a few years ago, and she was officially (as in decreed by the governor) dubbed "The Hat Lady of Arkansas."  I had the pleasure of meeting her on a few occasions before her death in 2008, and fell instantly in love with her, and not just for her outrageous headgear.  But that was definitely part of it.
I may never do the things that Willie did in her life, but she will always be an inspiration to me.  And MAN, I want that hat.

So from the cloche:

To the cap:

The porkpie:

To the bucket:

The fur-lined with ear flaps:

To the beanie with a propeller on top:

Happy National Hat Day, y'all!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's a red-striped kinda day.

In honor of the snow that effectively shut down my entire state:
I know it's kinda misshapen, but I promise it's a penguin.  With snowflakes.  I just didn't think to take the picture *before* I put the sock on.  And it's like 19 degrees outside, so I'm not about to take it off.

I have to go out and do real people stuff today and tomorrow, which will probably end in tears and/or tragedy.  But at least I'll be able to get a blog post or two out of my adventure.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pretty sure I'm now made of noodles

So I did some yoga today.  That is, I TRIED doing some yoga today.  In the spirit of being bored and needing something to do that didn't a) require a lot of floor space and b) make a mess.  I've dabbled in yoga before, but I can control it.

Well, no, I can't.  When you aren't exactly a yoga expert, it is not a good idea to attempt a workout from a video on the computer, especially when your computer is placed on the opposite side of the room from where you have enough space to try the asanas.  And you have terrible eyesight.  And no idea what you're doing.

The lady on the video was so excited about teaching yoga.  Holy crap.  Within five minutes I started thinking that maybe she and yoga needed a moment alone or something.  She would give a perfectly reasonable explanation of the pose, and then contort herself into a position.  I tried to imitate her, but inevitably I would end up in some bizarre bastardization of a pose that looked nothing like what she was doing.

Yoga Lady:


Yoga Lady:


Yoga Lady:


Eventually, I just gave it up as a bad job and decided instead to drink hot chocolate and watch SNL reruns.  Unfortunately, I did just enough yoga to make my arms and legs feel like spaghetti.  So I ended up spilling my hot chocolate all over my shirt.  See, this is what happens when I try to do anything remotely productive on my vacation.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We're at SnowCon One, Folks

I live in a town that is nestled high in the 'mountains' of Arkansas.  While this means that driving in and out of here is generally about as easy as directing water buffalo ballet, it does not translate to an increase in wintery precipitation.  So when Dashing Young Weatherman predicts snow, it's pretty much the same kind of general chaos as in the rest of the south, only a tiny bit scarier for two main reasons:

1.  As we live up in 'mountainous' terrain, there are lots and lots of hills that turn cars into self-propelling automotive death sleds.

2.  When the power lines were run into the county, some genius decided that we only needed one set of main transmission lines, which come in over a river and are anchored on the side of a cliff, making it only accessible by helicopter.

The particular cliff is heavily wooded, which makes the chances of power disruption by falling snowy branch abnormally high.  And when that line is damaged, the entire county loses power for however long it takes for the power people to scrounge up a helicopter and dangle someone off the cliff over the river to fix it.  This usually takes about a week, which I'm sure you can imagine is an incredibly long time when you're freezing your tootsies off.

My only consolation in all of this is that the house I live in has wood heat, so while I might die from Internet withdrawal, I won't actually freeze to death.  Me and the dogs are going to hole up with a stack of blankets, a stack of books, and a stack of dog biscuits.  See you on the flip side.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My life is so fascinating

This is what I generally look like on a normal day:
And this is me on vacation:
I would definitely consider myself one of those people who literally shuts down when I don't have responsibilities.  I mean, I pretty much live in one room, so it's not like it really matters that I smell funny or am not fit for human companionship.  My dogs don't seem to mind, anyway.

I did muster up the gumption to leave the house today in search of sustenance.  Not easy to come by in  a teeny tiny place like this in the middle of the off season.  Anyway, I ended up at a local 'fine dining' establishment, by which I mean all the food comes on plates and you can't actively spit peanut shells onto the floor.  I ordered a chef salad that, according to the menu, was  supposed to consist of "thinly-sliced turkey and country ham over a bed of fresh lettuce with tomatoes, onions, cheese, carrots, and boiled egg."  What I got was a plate piled high with lettuce, three sad little tomato wedges, four pieces of shredded carrot, some ham that I'm pretty sure was just lunch meat that was pulled into shreds by someone's fingers, and about a gallon of cheddar cheese.  I didn't mind the onions being missing because I don't really care for onions to being with, but no egg?  Are you kidding me?  The little pieces of boiled egg are why I EAT salads in the first place.  I basically had a ham and cheese sandwich minus the bread on my plate.

The restaurant itself was fairly empty except for the round table.  I'm sure at any local restaurant in any small town in the world there's something like this round table, unless you're in some place that doesn't have restaurants.  Or tables.  It's just this one table right by the door that is being manned by a group of men who apparently have nothing more pressing to do in their lives than sitting at this table and drinking coffee all day.  It's always men - I think they've taken a page from the Little Rascals and formed their own He-Man Woman Haters Club, only instead of a clubhouse, they have the round table.  The cast of characters is always something like this:

Theoretically, they talk about current events.  But in reality, it's just a gossipy group of old men.  They are almost always angry about some fool thing, usually involving the city sanitation department.  Today, they were talking about southern California.  This is especially hilarious when you consider the fact that most of them have probably never left our county, let alone the state.  How they think they know what's going on in Southern California is completely beyond me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

This has never been done...

Holy cat crap, people.  I have had this blog for less than 24 hours and I've posted FOUR TIMES.  This is just insane.  Of course, it's also still Christmas break for those of us still whoring ourselves out to the gods of higher education.  On a usual day, I spend about six hours a day on my computer (between actually checking my email/facebook/journals, doing jigsaw puzzles on, playing KOL/The Sims, and StumbleUpon), but since I literally have nothing else to do at the moment, now it's more like 16 hours on the computer.  I'm looking forward to school starting because I'll get to pretend to be a responsible person who does important things like study and shower on a regular basis and go grocery shopping and vote.

I don't really want to talk about politics, because most of it makes me want to tear my hair out and set it on fire.  But I do think that you should have to take a basic intelligence test in order to be able to vote.  I mean, people should have to prove that they have put actual thought into decisions and know the difference between socialism and fascism and can count to 20 without removing their shoes before being allowed to select the people that should be running our government.

Also, my socks today are navy blue with green deer on them:

The deer look surprised, as if they have just spotted something startling.  Like a canary with a cannonball for a head.  Or Sarah Palin.  I used to not really care for hunting for sport - it seemed so silly to go around killing things for the sheer pleasure of the kill - but after living for a while in a very rural area, I say kill whatever you want.  I am tired of having to put cages around my vegetable plants and replace key pieces of my car every five minutes.

If I had a hammer, all my problems would look like screws

Through a series of unfortunate events, I have ended up living in a small room in a house with five other people and four other dogs.  I have not lived in conditions this cramped since I moved out of my parents' house after high school.  Of course, I know that my predicament isn't all that precarious - I mean, there are lots of people in the world who don't even have four (bizarrely thin) walls around them and a (loud and creaky) roof over their heads.  But for a person who cherishes her alone time to dick around on the Internet without being judged, this arrangement is highly distressing.

My poor dogs are having a difficult time adjusting as well.  They are used to having rooms and rooms to themselves, lounging about on any old piece of furniture they decide to climb.  Now, they are restrained to just my room, and occasionally my (shared) bathroom.  They are so distraught by the new living situation that they routinely follow me in there, huddling behind the toilet while I'm in the shower, terrified that I might leap out and give them a bath, but even more afraid to venture out into the big scary house without me.

Brown Dog is so terrified with the new arrangements that he alternates between hiding under my desk:
 And partially concealing himself in the bedding:
Apparently, he subscribes to the ostrich theory of personal defense.  Fluffy Dog is much more chill about the whole situation:
But then again, Fluffy Dog is pretty zen unless the food bowl is empty.

So the dogs and I are trying really hard to make the best of our situation.  We spend most of our time holed up in our room, listening to music at a very modest volume and attempting to ignore everything else going on in the house.  It's hard, especially because of the other dogs.

The other dogs are awful, wretched creatures that are mean and loud and teaching my wonderful sweet babies bad habits.  There are, as I said earlier, four of them: Old Dog, Evil Dog, Ugly Dog, and Confused Dog.  They are all dachshunds.  Since living here, I have discovered that I hate dachshunds.  Now, I'm sure that somewhere out there are many very sweet, very intelligent, very normal dachshunds that aren't stupid and mean and evil, but these four are enough to make me hate the breed on principal.

Old Dog is about a million years old.  He is partially blind, mostly deaf, and losing most of his hair.
 He shuffles aimlessly around the house, stopping only to scratch and bite off what little hair he has left.  Which means that there's this constant 'clickity clickity clickity clickity, pause, thump-thump-thump-thump-thump, pause, clickity clickity clickity clickity' noise that is completely inescapable because the house has all hardwood floors.  Occasionally, he half-sees something threatening, like a sock left on the floor or a piece of furniture that has been in the same place since the beginning of time but that he has forgotten about in his old age or his reflection, and it sends him into a fit of loud barking.  Naturally, this sets off all of the other dogs.  At first, my dogs were frightened by this and would hide when the cacophony started.  But now, they join in as well, adding their voices to the demented chorus of yowls, yips, and howls.

Evil Dog is just that.  Evil.  He is Satan on four paws.  He is wickedly smart, inhumanly (indoggedly?) strong, and apparently immune to death.  I have seen this dog consume an entire pound of chocolate fudge without so much as a fart.  He ate an entire box of teeth-whitening strips - and not the cheap-ass Crest ones, the fancy wax ones from Rembrandt - and while his pointed canines were oddly bright for about a month, he again suffered no ill effects.  He can jump up onto the kitchen counters and open cabinets and generally cause chaos everywhere he goes.
 He is pictured here plotting his next dastardly deed.  I know he looks deceptively innocent here, but don't be fooled.  In reality, he's about three feet long and made of pure evil.

Ugly Dog looks like a giant, long-haired rat.  He is roughly the size of a shoebox and looks like a Swiffer cloth that desperately needs changing.  He has red eyes.  RED EYES.  He also thinks tissues are the greatest snack food ever invented.  He would commit felonies if it meant that afterward he could nosh on some tissues, and then vomit them up in front of the refrigerator.

Confused Dog is the least offensive of the brood.  Mostly because he's the newest addition and, as such, has not yet decided what his role will be.  For now, he spends most of his time wearing ridiculous sweaters and baying.  I've tried reminding him that he's not a beagle or a basset hound, but he persists.

During the day, it's not so bad.  Mostly because my dogs and I keep to ourselves.  But at night?  The true horror of the house comes to light.  Old Dog no longer sleeps.  Or if he does, it is in minute bursts in between the incessant clicking and thumping and barking.  The roof is creaky, and I'm pretty sure it doubles as a dance studio for raccoons.  When they really get going up there, Evil Dog decides to be sneaky and start barking, which causes all of the other dogs to wake up and take off running for the windows, vacating their previous spots and giving Evil Dog his choice of spots to sleep.  On top of this, several of the other people in the house snore.  Most of this might even be tolerable if the walls weren't so thin.

I am not used to the sheer volume of nocturnal noise here.  I live in a very rural small town with fewer citizens than there are shoppers in an average Wal-Mart store at any given time of day.  I expected to drift peacefully off to sleep each night, wrapped in a cocoon of quietness.  Instead, I get this:
The clicking.  The thumping.  The barking.  The snoring.  Add to this the horrible hacking cough from the basement, where the asthmatic college kid sleeps next to a wood-burning furnace, and the phantom beeping from some infernal electronic device (which I'm beginning to think was hidden by Evil Dog for the sheer hell of it to drive me insane), and you end up with a deafening glut of NOISE that keeps me from ever falling asleep.  I tried earplugs, but those only kept me from hearing my alarm in the morning.  I tried a white noise machine, but was told to turn it off because the volume I had to keep it at in order to drown out everything else was apparently keeping everyone else awake.  I have no idea how that one little thing added to the din made that much difference, but I'm so delirious from sleep deprivation that I don't care anymore.  It's gotten to the point where I just wait until everyone leaves in the morning, hurl the four dogmen of the Apocalypse into the yard, and power-nap until I absolutely HAVE to get up or risk the wrath of the dog owner when she gets home and sees her horrendous monsters precious babies in the completely fenced and perfectly safe big scary yard all alone

Don't Tell Anyone, But I Think I Might be Criminally Lazy

I am so ridiculously lazy, it's not even funny.  I mean, feel like my time on any given day should be spent thusly:
 But I feel like instead, my days pass more like this:

My dogs are more productive than I am, and they spend most of their time sleeping on my bed and chewing on each other's ears.

Maybe having this blog will help change that aspect of my personality.  Maybe it will inspire me to actually get shit done on a regular basis.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My socks? Totally awesome.

My mom is always at a loss for things to put in my Christmas stocking.  I guess in some traditions, the Christmas stocking is filled with candy and oranges, which is really confusing to me.  I mean, oranges aren't even in season in December.  Maybe it's a Christmas miracle?

Anyway, she usually ends up putting in whatever little random odds and ends she can dig up in my stocking.  Which means that come Christmas morning, I get the following items:

One tube of Burt's Bees lip balm, one nail file, one pair of brown shoelaces, two bottles of hand sanitizer (in Midnight Pomegranate and Clean Cotton scent), a set of Razorback nail tattoos, an Ambu CPR mask keychain*, a bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol, and a pair of scissors.  Of course, this is better than what my brother usually gets, which is usually an assortment of toothbrushes, personal hygiene items, and pens.

This year, however, I told my mother that what I wanted in my stocking was socks.  The crazier, the better.  I have to wear very specifically colored scrubs at work, and my only tiny form of individuality/rebellion is in the wearing of awesome socks.  She came through in spades.  This is only one of the beauties waiting for me Christmas morning:

I am in LOVE, y'all.  Hot pink and green argyle toe socks with tassels.  TASSELS!!!  My mother was actually afraid that I wouldn't like them.  They are only the most amazing socks on the planet.   I wore them for the first time today:

 I felt like I was wearing those old-fashioned majorette boots all day.  Amazing.  Anyway, I got to thinking when I got home from running my errands today that someone with such incredible socks would be incredibly selfish to keep them to myself.  So I started this blog.  I can't promise it will always be about socks.  Sometimes, it may be funny, and sometimes it may be sad.  But rest assured that underneath it all, I will ALWAYS be wearing awesome socks.

*The Ambu keychain is actually a pretty awesome gift.  It's a little plastic mask to use if you ever have to give CPR to a stranger outside of the hospital.  Although one of my colleagues thinks it's stupid.  "Sex is rampant," she says.  "You can jump into bed with any old person you want to, but God forbid you give someone mouth-to-mouth."