Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday, Monday (doo dumm dum doo ditty dum)

Where has the time gone? I last posted on a Tuesday, which seems to be my most common posting day for some bizarre reason, which I happened to notice because I am a big nerd, and here I am on a Monday with almost a whole week between posts. So where have I been?

Nowhere exciting, unfortunately. For two days this week, I found myself in a Food Safety Certification workshop learning all about what internal temperature poultry must be cooked to (165 degrees) and how many parts per million a quaternary ammonium solution has to be at in order to be used as a sanitizing solution (200ppm). Then I took an exam, which I will find out in several weeks whether I passed or not.

Wednesday night, I drove to Erin's house to do something interesting. We didn't really come up with anything to do, though, so we just cut Stuart's hair and then I went home. Thursday night we tried again, and this time we had more time to play with because none of us had to get up early for work on Friday, so we went bowling and to a diner. At exactly the same time that we were driving to the bowling alley, a freak snowstorm hit the area where we were. It was one of those Buffalo-style, can't see two feet in front of you, zero traction on the road, dumping six inches in 30 minutes, crazy snowstorms. But an hour and a half later, when we left the bowling alley, the snow had stopped falling, and the snow had all shriveled to a shiny, slick coating on the roads that made getting lost on the way to the blue route all the more treacherous. But, I managed to break 100 two games in a row, which might not sound like much, but is pretty big deal for someone who generally scores in the 70-80 range. I give the credit to Wii bowling for improving my game.

Friday night one of the ladies I work with had a little gathering at her place for people from work. It was a lot of fun, especially since her idea of "light snacks" was more food than I have ever seen in one place in my life. And all of it tasty. Fun times were had, then I pretended I was a young, hip, popular person and made my way to my second party of the evening, which actually ended up being more of a "help Jon assemble furniture then watch TV" gathering, which was totally cool with me. Even stupid television is entertaining in HD. Oh, and with good company. Yeah, them too.

I worked on Saturday, though, and I worked again after church on Sunday, so the excitement of my week petered out into a fairly routine weekend. Which, frankly, is quite all right with me. The fact that normal people have the same two days off every week almost comes as a shock to me, now, as I have become so accustomed to my shifting work schedules. It's kindof nice, though, because it has allowed me to break out of the pattern of putting things off until the weekend, only to remember, when the weekend arrives, that it's not actually my weekend, and I need to find the energy for fun and work and still find time to sleep before the day is out. Going out on a Thursday night and sleeping in on a Friday is perfectly alright with me. Especially when it involves freak snowstorms.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Due for a change

Some people cut their hair every four weeks, in order to always maintain the exact same look. Some people never cut their hair, in order to always maintain essentially the same look. I cut my hair about once every six months, in order to be able to change it as dramatically as possible each time. And, in honor of my birthday, I dyed it, too.

This is just washed and dried, because I will need to be wearing a hat for work today, and spiking the back up with gel seemed impractical for hat wearing (although it did look very cool last night when the hairdresser spiked it up). It's nice to know that it works both ways, because I've never been a big fan of overly high maintenance hair.

The only problem is that now I think I need a new style of glasses. My brainy-lawyer wire-framed ones don't quite fit with this haircut. That's okay, though, I'm due for a new pair. My insurance buys me one a year, and I haven't claimed one yet.

P.S. A note on my photographs, mostly for the benefit of Liana, who asked. I have two cameras: One is a four-year-old digital camera that was bottom-of-the-line when we bought it. It's a 2 megapixel Olympus. My film camera is an old-school, fully manual Minolta SLR (SRT101). When I develop film, I usually order the photo CD thing so that I can post pictures here easily. As a general rule of thumb, any timely pictures (like today's) were taken on the digital, and any even remotely good pictures that are posted weeks late were taken on the Minolta. I also, on occasion, have borrowed my father-in-law's digital camera when I want both decent pictures and instant gratification. I suppose I should make a note of what camera is used when I post pictures, but I'm lazy.

P.P.S. Clicking on my ads would be a lovely birthday present!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Birthday Weekend

So, tomorrow is my birthday. Which means that this weekend was Birthday Weekend. Capitals required.

We had a big, Wakeman family birthday party on Saturday night, so I requested the morning shift on Saturday so that I could have the evening free. Why does there have to be a five in the morning as well?

Wakeman party was fun, even if I did start to tucker out from my long day around 10. It was a joint party for my birthday, Jer's birthday (which was in December), and a great aunt's birthday, which is also sometime around nowish. We played Things in a Box, which pleased me greatly. I'm so glad I found that game again. It had been hiding behind another narrow game on my shelf all along. Stupid non-uniform game boxes.

Among the gift awesomeness was a fancy edition of the board game El Grande, complete with all the expansions. We gave it a go today, and it's really fun. Like a mix between Puerto Rico and Risk without the dice. And if you understood that comparison, you've probably played El Grande, too. We can be board game geeks together.

Sunday morning was church, and it was a doubly awesome service. Some of you may remember me blogging about my church's need for heat, and the prayer vigil I participated in last September. Early on in the campaign, we managed to raise enough to install a one-room heating system for the reception hall downstairs, where we have been meeting for the winter months. But we had a long way to go in order to heat the sanctuary. And then, all of a sudden, several large checks came in, one right after the other, which put us over the threshold needed to hire the contractor. So, we had a brief ceremony in which the treasurer wrote a check, and the chairman of the board signed the contract, and we spent the rest of the service in thanksgiving and praise. And then, if it weren't already an exciting enough day, we had two new members join the church, one of whom just happens to be married to me.

And the weekend wasn't over yet; it was still my Birthday Weekend. Rachel and I both have variable work schedules, so planning events usually involves us lining up our two schedules and figuring out where the blank bits overlap (thank you Google Calendar for making this process so much easier!). It just so happened that this week, the only time with ample blank overlap was Sunday night. So, Sunday night it was. And, since Jon's new apartment is mostly assembled now, and since he missed most of his housewarming party last weekend, we decided to do it at his place.

It was a fun evening. And, at the risk of sounding gushy, I really felt blessed by my friends. I've always said that I don't care all that much about gifts, and honestly, with a hastily assembled, low-key party, I wasn't really expecting gifts at all, and I was okay with that. When Jeremy and I worked through The Five Love Languages, receiving gifts always ranked pretty much last for me. But I think that's because a gift, standing alone, bereft of significance, is just a thing to me. And I know there are people for whom a gift is a gift is a gift, the pricier the better, and that's fine for them, but it has never really said much to me. But Rachel managed to find a lap-sized down duvet, identical to the one we had both coveted on the Yarr trip to the cottage in Olean. And Dan bought me an album by one of my favourite Canadian bands, which he remembered me raving about when they happened to come on the radio one of the first times we hung out together. And the photo on the card from my church friends was one of the ones I had been admiring at Christy's art show, and it had been taken in the town where we both went to college. And actually, I could go on, but I don't want to get repetitive. Literally every gift had a story behind it, and it made me feel so loved. So, I guess gifts may be one of my love languages after all, but only inasmuch as gifts are a concretization of memories. Maybe that's why I like photographs so much.

And, in case the evening hadn't been awesome enough, it was topped off with some great conversation in the car on the way home, and doing donuts in an icy parking lot at midnight. Perfect.

P.S. In unhappy birthday news, my laptop may be dying. It does this thing where it randomly shuts down, and the power cord light, which has only ever glowed green or not at all in the 6 1/2 years that I have owned it, will start blinking orange. Then I need to unplug the computer, leave it alone for a while, and pray for the best when I come back to it later. I know she is old for a laptop, but funds for a new machine are very much not in our budget right now. And I know it's silly, as there are several other computers in the house that I could use if my laptop died, but she is comfortable and familiar to me, and I'd rather not have to use someone else's machine right now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just so you know: It's all my fault

It rained all night Saturday night, and pretty much all day Sunday. So when I packed up my tent on Sunday afternoon, it was still soaking wet. Not ideal for storage. Unless you really like mildew.

So I made a mental note to keep an eye on the weather for a bright, sunny day in which to set up my tent in the backyard, allow it to dry out, and pack it up properly.

Yesterday was that bright, sunny day. It was cold, but dry and sunny. It was perfect for drying out a tent. Only I didn't set my tent up yesterday. I set it up today, right before I went in to work this morning. And while I was at work, it started snowing. And it snowed all day; all over my poor, little, already-wet tent.

So, in case you were wondering why it snowed in Philadelphia today, now you know. It snowed because I set up my tent. Love me or hate me for it, but that's just the way it is.

My tent did look pretty under all that snow, however. Anyone want to go winter camping?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Jon moved to a new apartment in Manayunk this week. Manayunk, for those of you who aren't familiar with the geography of the Philadelphia region, is an old section of town that has, in recent years, become young, hip, and happening. Or something like that. It's only about 30 minutes away from me, which is better than the 45 minutes away that Jon's New Jersey apartment was. Plus, it's not in New Jersey.

Since I had moved about four times in the time that Jon had been living in his former apartment, I offered him my packing assistance a couple of times this week. And even though we were distracted quite a bit by Guitar Hero 2 and by his new 46-inch television, we did get a fair amount of packing done. At least enough to give him a boost for when his family and other friends who did not have to work on Saturday afternoon came to help him on the weekend.

So, the big move was on Saturday, and I had to work. Until 11:30 pm, which is still early if you're a hip, happening youth, right? So several of us decided that we would have a housewarming party at Jon's new apartment on Saturday night after I finished work. Jon agreed to this, somehow. I guess none of us were thinking too clearly.

And then I got lost on the way to Manayunk. Or rather, I didn't get lost, my directions were actually correct, but I second-guessed them and called Jon to confirm them. But he denied them. He misunderstood which direction I was going and sent me the wrong way. In his defense, he'd had a long day of moving, preceded by a long day of packing, and, I expect, a rather short night of sleeping. But once I got turned around and had completely no idea where I was, the battery on my cell phone died. I'm still getting used to this cell phone thing, and I expect it will be a while yet before I have a full understanding of the life expectancy of its battery.

Long story short, I eventually found Jon's apartment. Or at least, I found where I expected Jon's apartment ought to be, noticed the lack of available parking spaces at midnight on a Saturday night, right after the Eagles game had finished, and turned my attention to looking for a parking spot. Once I finally found one, not far from his apartment, as it turns out, I wondered loudly how I ever passed the parallel parking portion of my driver's test. But, I squeezed my car in eventually, and walked past Jon's apartment several times before I found the door, much to the amusement of several hip, happening, inebriated neighbors.

Jon's apartment, by the way, is awesome. It's the top floor of an older, store-front type building, and as such it has a sortof penthouse feel to it. It also has a huge porch or balcony or whatever you want to call it, big enough to pitch a tent on. We know this, because we pitched a tent on it.

But poor Jon, exhausted by his move, went to bed almost as soon as I got there. Which left the rest of us feeling a little bit bad that we were having a housewarming party without him, but, he assured us that he didn't mind, so we went ahead and continued our evening without him.

We didn't want to wake him up, so we moved out onto the porch. It was a gorgeous night - barely cold enough for April, let alone for January. It was however, raining. Just a tiny, little bit, though; not enough that you would say anything along the lines of, "Oh drat, it's raining, perhaps we ought to move indoors." At least not for a couple of hours, when someone might get up to go to the bathroom and comes back to discover that the cushion he or she had been sitting on was somewhat dry on one side, but completely soaked through on the other side where it had not been protected from the constant, misty rain by his or her buttocks. It was about then that we remembered the tent, and moved into the semi-indoors.

So, two firsts for me this weekend. I'm pretty sure I've never slept in a tent on a porch in the city before, and I'm pretty sure I've never slept in a tent in January before. It was such a fun evening, and staying up half the night talking about silly things with good friends felt like all the best parts of college all over again. (You know, the parts of college that didn't involve writing papers or going to classes.)

After church on Sunday, a few of us headed back to Jon's house to redeem our invasion of the evening before with a little bit of cleaning up and unpacking. We had tasty tomato pie, and I got a good portion of his kitchen put away for him, then watched part of a movie on his needlessly enormous television. Then I went home and took a nap. Because it might be fun to pretend I am still in college once in a while, but apparently, I am no longer 20 years old. In fact, I will be entering my last year of that particular decade in exactly one week's time. When did I get so old?

My biggest frustration with my cell phone battery dying was that I didn't have a charger with me, and nobody else had one they could lend me. I grumbled and complained at my own stupidity, and vowed that I would put my extra cell phone charger in my bag the minute I got home (the phone came with two identical and interchangeable chargers - one for the phone, and one for the bluetooth, so one could easily be the "travel" charger). I looked all over for the extra charger, but couldn't for the life of me figure out where it was. I finally found it today - in the bottom of the very same backpack that I had with me the entire time. Sigh. They do say the memory is the first to go...

Belated Picture Post

So, after about three phone calls from the pharmacy to let me know that my pictures were ready to be picked up, I finally remembered to pick up that roll of film I dropped off to be developed in November. Since I spent the extra couple bucks on the photo CD, I thought I would post a few of them here.

Remember that trip to New Hampshire I blogged about back in November? Here are some pictures of my friends taking little plastic dolls very seriously competing in the DnD miniatures tournament.




Remember that Guy Fawkes bonfire I also blogged about back in November? Here are some pictures of that, too.

Guy's effigy about to be burned:

Almost incinerated (perfect for marshmallows!):

Fire close-up:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Tales from Last Night

"Let's have an adventure."

"Okay, where do you want to go?"

"Let's just drive and see where we end up."

"That never works."

"Okay, let's flip a coin at every major intersection and let the coin tell us where to go."

"That could take us to exciting places we have never been to before, or it could just take us to boring places we've been to before the long way."

"Actually, it could take us in a huge circle and we'd end up right back where we started."

About an hour later, it did just that. So we threw away the quarter and went to Wegmans. It was that or a diner, because nothing else is open in the suburbs at 2:00 a.m. And diners cost money.

One day, when I'm rich, I'm going to have a proper adventure. With a 20-sided die at the international departures counter.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


There is something about the end of a year that seems to necessitate some soul searching and evaluation of one's place in life. I tried to avoid these kinds of thoughts this year, but it wasn't that easy to stop. Not only did December mark the end of 2006 for me, but it also marked our one-year anniversary of moving from Canada to start a new life in Pennsylvania. And, the "year in review" is more than a little bit depressing to recount. In brief, this is my 2006, with a few positives mixed in for good measure:

December 2005: Okay, not technically 2006, but essential to the narrative. We move to Philadelphia to start the next chapter of our lives. We "temporarily" set up residence in his parents' basement. Hopes/plans/dreams for the next year include finding jobs, securing benefits, saving up a downpayment, buying a house, and starting a family.

January: Jeremy and I start looking for jobs. Mostly Jeremy, though, because I really wanted him to find a job first, both for psychological reasons (like knowing that he would be able to provide for me if I took time off to have children) and for practical reasons (if he found a job half an hour west of here, I didn't want to be stuck with a job half an hour east of here.) No one seems to want to hire either of us. Feelings of negativity begin to take over. We find a good church.

February: Continued unemployment. Continued negativity. I start this blog. Beginning to go a little stir-crazy at home doing nothing, I enroll in seminary.

March: Continued unemployment for Jer. Continued negativity for me. Being in school again starts to take its toll on me. Not wanting to wait any longer for Jer to find a job with benefits, I find a job for myself at Starbucks.

Last three days of March: I drop out of seminary. Jeremy finds a job. A good one. Salaried with benefits.

April: Jeremy gets sick.

May: Jeremy still sick. I take trips to New York City and Ottawa with girlfriends.

June: Jeremy still sick and missing a lot of work. We spend our anniversary in the emergency room. I start working at a day camp in addition to working at Starbucks.

July: Jeremy becomes too sick to work at all. Still no idea what's wrong with him. I'm still working two jobs.

August: Jeremy still too sick to work, and his work is no longer able to pay him for sick days. I'm finished with my second job, and go on the Yarr camping trip without Jeremy. I get promoted to shift supervisor at Starbucks.

September: Jeremy still sick, loses his job. Jule Ann still feeling negative towards life. Still living in the in-laws' basement.

October: Ditto above unemployment, illness, and negativity.

November: Everything the same.

December: Still the same.

Yup, it's been a fantastic year. I've been working on various incarnations of this post for several days now, and as I read back over it, I feel like deleting the whole thing again. When I grow up, I think I will pretend that 2006 never happened. The year that wasn't. The year of treading water and making no progress. The year of stagnation and abandoned dreams and settling into hopelessness.

Except that it hasn't been just that. The general theme of this year has been dismal, but there has been a bright thread running through it all. I have some awesome friends, and when I can keep my mind off the dreariness of the overall picture, I've had some amazing times this year. I've deepened some existing friendships, and forged some exciting new ones.

And here, after fumbling through all the things I didn't really want to talk about, we finally get to the purpose of this post. Maybe all that context was extraneous, but I couldn't say what I want to say next without touching on at least some of it.

I received two unexpected and wonderful gifts from online friends this Christmas. I wasn't expecting anything; I didn't even get anything for my real life friends, and I know that both of these friends read my blog entry about hating the burden of Christmas presents. They were no-strings-attached gifts of simple appreciation for my friendship to them.

But what brought tears to my eyes, and made me willing to blog about my crappy 2006 in order to get myself to this point, was the letters that came with the gifts. Thanking me for being there for them during a year in their lives when they needed someone to talk to, someone to listen to them, someone to just be there, if only on instant messenger. And I was that person for them. And hearing that made me feel so incredible that I don't think I can find the words to describe it.

And honestly, those two letters were far and away the best Christmas presents I received this year. Because I needed to be reminded that I haven't wasted this year. I may have stagnated in my superficial life goals, but I have continued to invest in my friends, and they in me. And some days feel like I whine more than my share, that I am nothing but a downer to any friend who is willing to put up with me, but these two letters reminded me that it has been so much more than that.

So I'm not going to delete this entry, even though reading back over it, I am disappointed with it on so many levels, both literary and psychological. Because I needed to say thank you to those two friends, for giving me the gift of appreciation this year. And because I needed to say thank you to all of you who have read my dreary, complainey entries and been the voice of encouragement for me this year. And because I needed to remind myself that 2006 might have sucked, but it wasn't a total waste. And because I need to hash out these depressingly introspective entries every once in a while in order to clear the path in my head for silliness to escape. Because a backlog of silliness can be a dangerous thing indeed. It makes me invent terrible subject lines.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


So, I finally got my AdSense check. Which means I'm actually being paid now, however little, to do this blog thing. Ironic that I would become a delinquent blogger just then, isn't it?

To be fair, I have been busy. As long as people leave their Christmas lights up, it's still the holidays, right? And if it's still the holidays, then I'm still allowed to do crazy things like stay out half the night, right? Of course it's absolutely gorgeous outside right now, which means that no one will have any excuse to not go out and take down their Christmas lights this weekend. So next week, I'll have to come up with a different excuse for being delinquent.

I think I'm going to go with having a cell phone. Especially a cell phone that allows me to call my five favorite people for free. It makes an already impulsive Jule Ann that much more impulsive. Like Monday night, for example, when a few phone calls resulted in a spontaneous party of eight at my house. Or Tuesday night, when I checked my voice mail on my way home from work and discovered that Dan had books for me, and I was in the car anyhow, so I might as well go pick them up. Or when I called Erin on my way home from Dan's house with books, and decided that she should spend the night at my house, because a quick conversation about going out sometime resulted in plans to go to a rather monochromatically-themed club on Wednesday night, which necessitated a thrift store tour of a neighboring suburb on a quest for clothing in said color scheme, and she had no way of getting to my house, so it made the most sense to go pick her up then on the other side of the city, since I was in the car anyhow, and her family was on their way to a diner for a 1:00 am dinner, so I might as well join them, too. And when I found leather pants for $2, I just had to buy high-heeled boots to go with them. Okay, I guess I can't blame the cell phone for that last one.

Anyhow, I had a blast on Wednesday night, although I didn't get any pictures of myself in my get-up. And Thursday night I slept in, and then worked, and Friday I worked all day then hung out with some work friends at night. So I have been busy, and I love my new cell phone, and I apologize for the blogging delinquency and all of the run-on sentences which I pretend are justified because they embody a sense of frenzied busyness. And now, I have to go to work, where I will probably be making lots and lots of frappuccinos because of the unseasonably warm weather.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First post of the new year... Completely devoid of resolutions!

Well, I'm back from my uncle's house. I have been for several days, in fact, but I've been keeping myself about as busy as I possibly can since I got home. It's been fun, but I'm feeling bad to have been leaving all of you out of the loop. So, here is the uber-truncated version of what has been going on in my life over the past few weeks.

Had a great visit with extended family at my uncle's house. Tried to see a Bill's game on Christmas Eve, but couldn't get tickets. Ate a lot of cookies, watched a lot of movies, played a lot of Guitar Hero 2. Lost a gingerbread house competition because my house looked too much like an actual gingerbread house. Resurrected the annual 12 Days of Davis Christmas Presents song and made a chaotic video of it, including such sacred traditions as dizzying camera pans from one pile to another and off-key harmony on the "Five Useful Things" verse. Thoroughly enjoyed the chaos that is Too Many Davii in One Place.

Came home, had a big, Wakeman Christmas gathering, which is so much unlike a Davis gathering that I had to keep looking over my shoulder and wondering why no one was harassing anyone else endlessly. Got a lot of black clothes, because I had mostly asked for black clothes. It reminded me of my sixteenth birthday. Got some great new games that I am enjoying breaking in. Finally got to play with my new cell phone that I bought for Christmas.

Worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday to make up for taking a whole week off. Went straight from church to work, then straight from work to a New Year's Eve party on Sunday. Rang in the New Year laughing our heads off playing a karaoke game with a bad midi music track. Ate delicious fruit salsa.

Worked all day Monday, then came home and called a few friends for a spontaneous board games gathering. Brought home tasty Chinese food for dinner. Stayed up until three a.m. talking.

Which catches us up to today, with many unexplored themes and huge gaps that I am sad to not be able to expound upon, but perhaps will get to later. I don't work until 7:30 tonight, so I have some time to catch up on errands and household tasks that I have been ignoring, and maybe, if I am really lucky, I will also find time to read some of the 400-odd posts sitting in my bloglines. I don't work tomorrow, and I am looking forward to a little bit of down time. Not too much down time, though, because I am going out with some friends tomorrow night. Wouldn't want to let myself get too well-rested; that would be out of character.