Archive for October, 2009


#17: Visit a Haunted House

October 31, 2009

Date of Completion: October 2009

Yeah…. I don’t have any pictures for this one. You know why? Because they ALL DISAPPEARED. But we’ll get to that.

This item was really only on my list because two of my friends talked me into it. And I put it on the list so I wouldn’t (couldn’t) chicken out, and I had to do it. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then October rolled around, and what with Halloween being everpresent throughout the month, that’s when all the creepy freaky stuff goes down. So, Molly got us a hookup with a tour of haunted houses PLUS a tour of what is like the most haunted house in Des Moines (maybe Iowa? I don’t really know.) I tried to back out, sorta, and was met with resistance. Turns out her and my friend Maria are both super paranormal nuts so they were way excited and provided me with all sorts of supplemental information. Mostly I just stayed creeped out. 

The walking tour was fun, the guide was this adorable electic lady who actually lives in said haunted house, and she kept us entertained with stories and anecdotes and all in all it was more interesting than scary. Then we arrive back at the house and apparently we’d paid for a tour OF the house, so we all went on inside. It was a gorgeous house, but it was obviously pitch black out, and she had most of the lights off, so that made it a bit eerie. Before she let us disperse to wander the house at our leisure, she told us about all of the confirmed resident ghosties that lived (“lived”) there. She also flipped on some infrared lights up in the attic because that’s apparently where they gravitate when there’s a lot of commotion in the house. So I guess ghosties get scared too. I dunno.

We wandered the house, tried to hang out in the attic for a while, Molly tried to coax the ghosts into showing up in a picture or two to no avail, although at one point we went back downstairs and some other tourists (for lack of a better word) said they saw one of the orbs hanging out next to me. So… that was weird.

We did, however, have a sort-of “experience” – we were in the basement and we were standing around talking and just on our way to head back upstairs when a toy keyboard played a short note sequence. To which we all went “whaaaa…?” and turned around to look at it, but of course it just sat there, like inanimate objects do. We went upstairs and were telling some of the other people about it and we thought we heard it again… so a few more people came back downstairs with us and we waited and waited and then, lo! it played the same sequence, but this time lit up. I poked at a few buttons after that to see if it was a pre-programmed jingle that might have gotten bumped (even though there was no one around it and it really wasn’t that fancy of a keyboard to be able to rig up to randomly play stuff, but I’m no tech genius, so who knows.) 

Then we went and got pizza, and Molly and Maria sat and discussed the various ghost-hunting shows and our piano serenade and were trying to rationalize it and then decided it probably had to be legit. I just ate my pizza, because I know nothing of ghosties and was just rather proud of myself that I went and didn’t freak out.

Then we went home, and like I always do after an evening out, looked at all the pics on my camera before going to bed. There was nothing exceptional about the tour or the house, but I did take a picture in front of the “ghost tours!” sign for this very purpose, and we had some cute ones of us at the pizza place. Molly and Maria wanted to scour the other pics at full size, “just in case” there was something there, so I promised I’d get them all uploaded the next day.

Which is what I intended to do.

But when I stuck my memory card in my card reader the next day, they weren’t there. Absolutely NO pictures from that evening. Confused, I pulled the card out and put it in my camera, cause I knew I had JUST LOOKED AT THEM the night before. Nope, not there. The pictures ended with the dog-walking pictures from the previous Saturday. So I put the card back in the reader, and nothing. It’s not like I accidentally erased my card, because there were exactly 349 other pictures still hanging out on there. Everything from that Friday was gone. Erased. From the parallel parking picture I took before we left (I think I mentioned in that post that I had to keep trying to re-take it until I got a good pic to use), to the tour, to the house, to the pizza place… all gone. JUST THAT DAY. Wiped out.

Now, I’m not saying I believe in this sort of thing, but it kind of weirded me the hell out. And I was sad. Because I am very possessive of my pictures and that’s what I do: I take lots of pictures. So I alternated between being sad, annoyed, and creeped out. I have no explanation for it and I don’t have any pictures. I do know that now I put my pictures on my computer as SOON as I get home, so my camera doesn’t eat them overnight, but, perhaps the ghosties were just camera-shy and didn’t want to be sorta-seen. If my blog stops working after this, we’ll know why.



Bonus Item: Jump in a Pile of Leaves

October 27, 2009

Date of Completion: October 2009

Ok, this totally wasn’t on my list, but it probably should have been. It was completely spontaneous and awesome. I recommend everyone do it when/if you get the chance.

I went up to visit my dad this past weekend and as I was driving up the street, he was raking up all the leaves in his yard. Which, if you’re familiar with Iowa, is a bitchton right this time of year. He had two giant piles and a third little one that he was in the process of burning. (One of the awesome smells of fall, by the way). I immediately knew I had to dive into one of the piles. As soon as I got out of my car, I made a mad dash and flopped into it. It has been YEARS AND YEARS since I’ve done that. But damn, I have not seen such a jump-worthy pile of leaves in probably my whole life. It was just begging for it. 

He was still making fun of me as we went inside for dinner, and his girlfriend, sad that she missed it, decided that I needed to re-enact it so she could document it. Because we are picture people in my family, we are. Being the attention whore I can be, I figured, why not? It took a few takes since that camera isn’t built for action shots, but we finally got a few that were deemed satisfactory, so I even have pictures to document. : )




#29: Parallel Park

October 23, 2009

Date of Completion: October 2009

You know what’s unfortunate about street parking? Inevitably, you’ll have to parallel park. Unless you want to park blocks away and just walk the extra distance to save yourself the trauma and embarrassment.

Which is what I have always done.

I have parallel parked before. I was in Driver’s Ed. Which means it was a freaking long time ago. Once with cones, once with real cards, and I’d had my fill. But I’ve never done it without supervision. Or since I’ve had my actual license. I outright refused to do it. Parallel parking = scary.

Well it just so happens with my new residence that I have to park on the street. Usually there’s plenty of space and it’s not a problem. 

One night, however, one very fateful night, I came home, and someone down the street was having a gathering. The only parking space left on the street was between two cars across the street from my house. I was feeling brave. And didn’t want to have to find a different street to park on. And it seemed like a fairly spacious gap. I lined myself up with the front car and went for it. Fortunately, I’d been riding with my brother-in-law a couple of weeks prior, and he’d parallel parked into the same space, and I’d been observing him closely, mostly out of curiosity.

And, my dear bloglings, it was beautiful. It was a textbook parking job. I slid into the spot gracefully, evened my car out, squealed in excitement, and got out of my car to admire my feat. PERFECT spacing between all three cars. I refrained from doing a dance right there in the street (people were starting to come out of the party, after all), but I ran inside and texted a whole bunch of people and announced it in ALL CAPS on Twitter. The only bad thing was that it was, naturally, dark, and so I couldn’t take a picture.

I felt like I was in possession of a new superpower. I was unstoppable. I was unafraid to park anywhere. I did it a few more times, of course when it was too dark to take a picture, and it was awesome. I found myself actually kinda sorta maybe wanting to “have” to do it. But, see, I couldn’t count it yet. I needed photo documentation. Which I did actually  manage to get, but that’s a whole separate entry as to why I don’t have that one anymore.

The picture you see below, however, I would like to say – it was probably the most impressive feat ever. I didn’t have a wide open space between the two cars like the first time. It was exactly the right size, and that was it. No room for error. The odds of hitting either of the cars beside me were much higher (to be fair, one was my sister’s, and other than the fact that she was in the car with me, probably wouldn’t have been an epic tragedy). It took lots of maneuvering, a re-start, and lots of tiny backs & forths… and lo! It was magical. It was also dark, again.

But, the next morning, both cars were still there so I could finally take the damn picture that I’d been wanting. PROOF!




#11: Find a Little Black Dress

October 17, 2009

Date of Completion: October 2009

To be fair, this item was listed as “find the perfect little black dress.” However, my friends, until I accomplish #12, this ain’t gonna happen. There aren’t a whole lot of sexy little black dresses when you’re not little. Still, I did find something resembling that ubiquitous LBD, and it totally counts until I lose some weight and find something better. I’ve also already worn it twice, so it’s totally lived up to its expectations.

It also came with a scarf, which is somewhat trendy right now. I think that makes me trendy by default, yes?



#27: Walk a Dog

October 13, 2009

Date of Completion: October 2009

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I must have had a horribly deprived childhood. (I wasn’t allowed to have a video game system, either. Rub it in.) Really, though? We’re cat people. And it took a hell of a lot of pleading and (ironically) puppy dog eyes to even convince my dad to let us have a cat. We had the world’s most low-maintenance cat and even so, my dad, having grown up on a sorta-farm, maintained that all animals should be kept outside. We finally won him over, and so we had our kitty, and then I got my own kitty, and my sister and her husband got kitties, and my mom got a kitty, and… well. We just never had dogs. It wasn’t really an option.

Also, I am sort of uneasy around dogs.

I don’t DISlike them. I just need to be able to warm up to them. Little dogs are usually okay. It’s the big ones that jump on you that make me really nervous. I mean, one time when I was little, this big huge lab decided it wanted to play and it was literally bigger than I was and it jumped on me and apparently traumatized me more than I thought. Also, doggy drool grosses me out.

Anywho. I was thinking about it and I realized that I have never, ever walked a dog. Even for a little bit. There is just something that seems relaxing and fun about taking a dog out for a walk when it’s nice out.

Unfortunately for me, it was NOT nice out when I got my opportunity to walk a cutie-pie little doxie named Barney. It was freakishly cold, even for October in Iowa standards. But my friend Calee and I took her new little puppy (all dogs are puppies in my mind, I don’t care how old they are) out for a jaunt around the ‘hood. He was a determined little guy, despite his short little legs. And yes, he even got to wear a sweater for the occasion.

So, I got to walk him for a few blocks and it was quite enjoyable. And I didn’t even have to clean up after him, so that was a bonus.

I’ve now got ‘er crossed off the list, and while it was fun, I think I shall stick to my kitty cat. Although she did try chewing on my (p)leather computer chair earlier, so she’s sort of part dog, I guess. Weirdo cat. img27


#25: Go Tailgating

October 12, 2009

Date of Completion: September 2009

Confession: In my four years as a student at a state university, I had never gone tailgating. Well – I went to a pseudo-tailgate when I was 19, but that hardly counts, because, well, it just doesn’t. It was lame and not fun and I’m pretty sure one of the main components of a successful tailgate is beer, of which we couldn’t have, because we were too young. And, really, if you drink underage at a tailgate, you’re pretty much asking for an MIP. No thanks.

By the time I was old enough to Actually Tailgate, I was too busy to even go to any of the football games. And I moved away and then moved back and every home game, I regretted missing out on this life experience.

Well as it just so happens to turn out, you can tailgate when you’re old too, so all was not lost.

It was everything I’d hoped it would be, and more. Naturally, I couldn’t just “sorta” tailgate – I really tailgated. I drug myself out of bed at 8:30 (on a Saturday! Voluntarily!), which is “late” by morning-game standards, but, well, anything sooner just wasn’t happening. It also just wasn’t any old football game – it was the big in-state rivalry game. This is like, A-game tailgating. It. was. awesome. The thing is, when you suspect your team is probably going to lose anyway, it doesn’t really matter how the game goes… your time is much better spent drinking in the parking lot all afternoon. And, that, my friends, is what I did. I acquired a lot of free beer (which is what happens when you are ticketless and forced to “guard” the cooler while the rest of the gang is in the stadium)…. and I learned to play Flippy Cup* – which, by the by, I am awesome at. Who knew?

*(and no, I didn’t learn in college… I was apparently busy doing other things. Like not tailgating.)

It was a gorgeous day, it was a ton of fun… and while my team did, in fact, lose, it didn’t really matter because it was still an awesome day. I unfortunately was out o’ town for the next few games (yeah, I still live in my college town, WHAT OF IT) so I haven’t been back, but, I’m glad I finally did it, and I will for sure be back.img25


#5: Sell A Piece of Artwork

October 8, 2009

Date of Completion: August 2009

I hesitate to call myself a photographer because I feel like an impostor most days. But when it comes down to it, it’s my favorite art form, and anyone who knows me, knows I never go anywhere without my camera. I used to have an exceptionally good eye for what I considered to be “artsy” photos… and sometimes I found other people who agreed. (I have an art site set up at DeviantArt where I’ve posted sporadically over the last four years or so). I haven’t taken much new in years – my creative spark died when I graduated college and let myself get weighed down with money concerns and health insurance and other grown-up type things. Yet, I’ve always loved it and always thought my stuff was pretty damn awesome, but it never occurred to me to try and monetize any of it.

But then I got to thinking, and why not? Artists sell art. Photography is art. Photography is MY art. My photography might even be art to people besides me. (It’s kinda like, you know, how your mom always thinks you’re awesome, but she’s biased, because she’s your mom – these photos are my babies and I love them all and naturally I think they are fantastic).

An opportunity arose in August for Market Day, hosted by the Market Street Media Foundry in Des Moines. I responded to the call for artists to fill the last few spots as almost a joke or a whim – no way I’d be good enough to participate. But, to my surprise, they said they’d love to have me. I almost died. And then I spent a frantic week trying to get ready because naturally I have to be impulsive about the weirdest things (and get painfully pragmatic about others). I don’t think anyone thought I’d be able to pull it all together in a week. Hell, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. (And yet – that’s what I do for my day job. I produce miracles and get. shit. done.)  It was good for me. It helped me rediscover my art and the photos that have lain dormant for a few years. I printed and cut and framed and organized and then it was Thursday and I was ready and had two days to self-doubt and second-guess myself. I got a lot of encouragement from my friends and my new Twitter friends and so I did it.

It was a slow traffic day, by all accounts. I sold a couple magnets, and the only framed piece and notecards I sold were to my friend, but it totally counts. People saw my art. And what’s better, they liked it. I got so many compliments. And, sure, what else do you say when the person that took the photos is sitting RIGHTTHERE and watching you watch their pieces. Still, it was a great experience. I didn’t even break even on the show entry fee, let alone all the money I poured into resources, but I had planned to do the September show (got pulled away by out-of-town obligations) and I think October & November are more specialized shows… But next summer, I’ll be ready. I might start an Etsy store but it almost gives me panic attacks to think about it. I’m such a headcase.

At any rate. I sold a photograph which makes me think maybe someday I can sell more. People might actually like my pictures enough to hang them up in their home. I get irrationally emotional about the concept.

Here’s the only pic I have from that day, a snapshot of my booth at the show before it started.



#21: Go to the Iowa State Fair

October 6, 2009

Date of Completion: August 2009

The Iowa State Fair. My God, where to begin. It’s one of those prime, people-watching events and one of the things that gives Iowa all its stereotypes. The nice thing I’ve found is, there are some very cosmopolitan areas in the state, so to speak, and I’d like to think there are people just as classy and sophisticated as anywhere else. But, there’s no denying you’ve got your missing-tooth, mulleted, ripped-off-sleeve and fannypack wearing crowd who’s really just there to eat deep-fried [insert something edible] on a stick. I’ve been to the State Fair approximately once in my life, when a poster design I did in eight grade won Best In Show in my county and made it to the Big Time. (Yes, my friends, I was a budding designer even back then, but without a fancy shiny Mac or any knowledge of Adobe’s existence). Had no desire to go back.

And yet, as years went by, hearing peoples’ stories and anectdotes, they made me curious. Still, even with things like my friend’s State Fair Bingo (“Kid on a leash! Check!”), nothing motivated me to go. Until this year. When one of my favoritest musicians of all time, Matt Nathanson, was playing on the free stage. That did me in. I grabbed two of my good friends, and we went. I was determined to make it a respectable State Fair experience, even if we were only going for a few hours and even if it was the last day. I ate fried oreos and a porkchop on a stick and the “hot beef sundae” (like it sounds, with mashed potatoes instead of ice cream, gravy instead of fudge, beef instead of peanuts, and a lil tomato instead of a cherry). I saw mullets. I breathed secondhand smoke. I tried not to touch anything. It was a delight. (So was Matt Nathanson. Swoon.) I did, unfortunately, forget to go see the butter cow, but I saw that when I was twelve, so I think I’m good.



#9: Visit a Winery

October 6, 2009

I’m kind of a strong proponent of “Pics or it didn’t happen!” – so I’m going to provide photographic evidence for as many of these as possible.

But first – the ones that snuck in before I posted the list, but after I’d started. So they totally count.

#9 – Visit a Winery
Date of Completion: August 2009

Went to the local winery and sampled all their wines – all of them, even the ones I knew I wouldn’t like. Dry reds = no thanks. I like sweet wines, so sue me. My sister peer pressured me into buying a bottle, even though I was broke and even though I knew they sold them at the local grocery store. Still, it was fun, and I found a couple new wines that I really like.img009