6 reasons why you should let people suck your blood (NOT vampires)

I’ve been listening to Jefferson Starship and feeling nostalgic all day. 80’s music always does that to me even though I didn’t technically grow up in that particular decade, born in 1985. But I remember the song “Sara” when I was little and listening as my older brother Eric and his friends sang it to me for fun. Now that I know that the song isn’t actually about me, as I was falsely led to believe, I still like to listen to it and imagine that I am the “one that got away.” “Saaaarrraah, Saaaarrraah, storms are brewin’ in your eyes / Saaaarrraah, Saaaarrraah, no time is a good time / oh, I’ll never find another girl like you / we’re fire and ice, the dream won’t come true…” Yeah, I’m that girl, the one that got away…<sigh> I’m just so cool and elusive… What am I going to do without my manic pixie self?

Every 56 days (usually to the day) I go to the Red Cross and give them a pint of my homegrown, all natural, O negative blood. I love the Red Cross. They are amazing. So here are the reasons why you should go in right now and give them your blood:

1. They do awesome things with your blood. Right now they are giving it all to the people in Colorado and Utah that really need it because of the wild fires. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google “Colorado Fires” and read some freakin’ news once in a while, geez!) One pint of blood (1 pint = 1 donation) can save the lives of up to three people.

2. You get a free mini-physical in the process. They have to check things like your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, and hemoglobin (iron in your blood), before you can even donate, so voilà – free health care! Take that Obama! (Yeah, I know that doesn’t really make sense.)

3. The Red Cross staff make you feel like a super hero. Seriously, I’m not over-exaggerating at all. They are so nice and accommodating, their hiring process must really squeeze out any potential meanies and awkwards. They practically bend over backward to make sure you’re comfortable and have everything you could ever need or want. I know this has something to do with the fact that they’re literally sucking the life out of you, but still, they are very nice and make you feel like an angel sent from heaven to save the world from bloodlessness.

Or maybe the Red Cross Fairy Godmother? Just go with it.

4. This might just be me, but it’s kind of a rush to have a big needle poked into your arm. Yeah, I know almost no one will feel this way, but still…I like it. I also have to watch the needle go in each time and the person doing the sticking is always surprised that I do. One even said that most men who come in turn away and wince, while women handle the pain like it’s nothing. Part of me wanted to be like “I am woman, hear me roar with my high pain tolerance!” but the other part wanted to retort “Don’t give credit to my gender, I’m just awesome!”

5. The day you give blood, you have an excuse to do absolutely nothing. You don’t really feel that weakened, but it’s enough to make you feel tired and not up for much physical activity after you give away a pint of your body juice. So if somebody asks you to drive them to the airport really early the morning of, you can say “Nope! Sorry, I’m giving blood today and I need to get 7-8 hours of sleep.” If somebody asks you to help them move, you can say “Nope! Sorry, I just gave blood and I’m not supposed to do any heavy lifting today.” If somebody asks if you want to go see Magic Mike that afternoon, you can say “Nope! Sorry, I gave blood today.”

Sorry, Channing. I can’t stomach your beefiness whilst minus one pint of blood.

6. You get free cookies and juice. Seriously, all you want. Even if you cram most of it into your purse. Need I say more?

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

(That is supposed to be the cookie monster and if you didn’t know that go watch some freakin’ Sesame Street once in a while, geez!)

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A Disney princess with womanly curves? Oh my!

I finally saw Pixar’s Brave and found it quite enjoyable. I didn’t read any reviews before going in, only the trailers, and I think that’s what made me really like the film. You see, I tend to really hype myself up about certain movies right before I see them. I mean, really really get wound up, expecting it to be my new favorite movie every damn time. It’s exhausting! I will be so let down at the end that I won’t find the movie as enjoyable as if I went in without any expectations, because those are: a life-changing revelation, multiple boisterous laughs at insurmountable hilarity, and an ugly cry at the end, complete with snotty nose. What is an “ugly cry” you ask?

Here is a picture of me modeling a normal cry, the kind you get then you watch something emotionally touching or slightly melancholy, like the end of Toy Story 3 (don’t worry, no spoilers here):

You can see the sadness in my eyes but my composure is somewhat intact.

Now here I am modeling an “ugly cry,” which last occurred when I watched that other sad part in the middle of Toy Story 3 (again, no spoilers) when you think all may be lost:

*Missing: trails of snot and spittle on my chin.

As you can see, this is not something you want to occur in the light of day, but is acceptable in the darkness of a movie theater where people may only hear the “ugly cry.”

Brave caused the first normal cry exactly two times at two very touching moments in the film that occur between the mother and daughter. I think Pixar did a wonderful job depicting the complicated and complex relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter, more complex than I would ever expect from an animated film. I give major props to them for this. I’m not a mother of a teenage daughter myself, but remembering myself as a teenager has me thinking it’s really really hard.

<Steps up on soapbox>

*Note: I’ve never reviewed a movie before and while I know what “spoilers” are and most of these things are hinted at in all the trailers, I will try my best not to ruin the movie for you. If you have not yet seen Brave, read this at your own risk! (Oh, and go see it ASAP so you can come back and read this!)

You have a mother (named Elinor) that genuinely wants the best for her daughter, teaching (well attempting, at least) her everything she will need to know in preparation for marriage, child-raising, running a household, and being a queen. She teaches what she knows best, and boy, is she a determined teacher. You can see her love for Merida (the protagonist) throughout the whole movie, but also where she seems to go wrong in handling Merida’s continued resistance to all her lessons. If you’ve ever seen the Disney channel, there are a lot of sit-com plots that involve all-knowing, deceptively wise teenagers with absent, child-like parents which drives me crazy because it is so over-the-top unrealistic! Also, I want to point out the fact that Elinor is a princess’s mother that’s actually alive. I could only think of one exception: Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and her mother is pretty must absent most of the movie. Actually, do we even hear her talk once? Seriously, what is the deal with Disney hating on alive, present mothers?

On the other end you have Merida, which you can see from all the posters that she has awesome, unruly, curly red hair that stereotypically reflects her fiery temper and refusal to be tied down with responsibilities that don’t involve her bow and arrow or galloping her horse through the forest toward adventure. When she has to be strong, she is strong. When something needs to get done, she does it, and she won’t let a restrictive, formal dress hinder her in the process. But she is also a teenager with teenage emotions and views on what responsibility is. She only likes what she knows right now (shooting arrows at targets and climbing treacherous waterfalls). Also like a typical teenager, she doesn’t really care about what happens tomorrow, or in a few years; only the present matters, and that is how her decisions are driven because it works for her in that moment.

I don’t want to go more into it without ruining the movie for people (Merida’s decisions lead to something of the Ursidae variety) but the movie starts with a depiction of a battle of the wills between Merida and her mother Elinor that obviously occurs on a daily basis. Elinor acts like a typical mother might in laying down the rules and proper actions, expecting Merida to follow them without question or debate, after which Merida rebels to the lack of discussion and acts out, leading to the major conflict of the movie’s plot. The process with which they reach the conclusion involves mother learning about her daughter’s true strengths and skills and respecting her more for them, with daughter realizing the true reasons for her mother’s actions and loving her more for them.

Also, look at these guys! You can’t contain the cuteness!

The second props I give to Pixar is their decision to finally make a film with a female protagonist (a curly red-haired one at that!). I think they could have included more supporting female characters (all the clan members with speaking parts are kilt-wearing, sword-bearing males) besides the mother and the less-talking-more-shrieking, voluptuous maidservant, but I don’t want to get too picky here. A lot of Merida’s character traits made sense when I found out Brave was directed and developed partially by a woman: Brenda Chapman. She directed Prince of Egypt and has been involved in writing and animating for major Disney movies like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Fantasia 2000. However, it looks like she left the project halfway through and I’ve been unable to figure out why. Articles say she was “fired [because of] creative differences” but nothing seems clear and she still shared a director credit with Mark Andrews.

She also has awesome curly red hair.

I could write a whole other post discussing what I read online about the struggle of women in the animation world, but I’ll move on… (apparently it’s a real “boy’s club.”)

The first thing I noticed when I saw our heroine, Merida, was that she looks like a real 17-18-year-old girl. I had a hard time tracking down a still shot that truly displays what I’m talking about, but I found this:

Look! I could actually push a child’s head out of my vagina if I wanted to!

Merida has womanly, child-bearing hips! I almost exclaimed that aloud in the theater, but I didn’t want any popcorn thrown at me. Mind you, she still has the enlarged head and eyes of a typical Disney princess, but still! Look at those curves and that healthy-sized waist! She exudes strength and athletic-ability, not petite fragility and Barbie-skinniness like these unearthly creatures:

Except for Mulan, she’s cool.

The only hips I see are coming from Jasmine’s Hammer-time pants. I could snap all their arms in half like toothpicks and not even feel bad! Yes, I know that medieval(?) Merida probably isn’t wearing a corset and most of those above are, but still, everyone looks like they have anorexia or will fall over gasping at any minute, cursing their animators for their disproportionate figures. No one can look like that in real life!

Well, except for this freaky deaky.

I almost feel like Merida and her mother (who also looks like a normal-sized 40-ish year old woman who is clearly very intelligent and also as strong as her daughter) portray the start of a new “empowered Disney woman” but I don’t want to go that far. Maybe if Pixar would create a female protagonist that isn’t a princess I would truly think that. Just a thought.

So in conclusion, I applaud Pixar’s efforts at introducing a realistic mother-daughter relationship that doesn’t involve a skinny, Disney teen pulling another one over on a good ol’ unsuspecting parent and getting away with it, as well as a princess that looks like a real teenage girl and not Barbie, awesome archery skills included.

More, please.

<Steps down from soapbox>

Why Utah is better than Oregon.

When I got home from work today I lovingly kissed the top of a cat’s pleasantly fuzzy head and smelled poop. He had poop on his head. I kissed cat poop.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.

I am exhausted. I wasn’t expecting a drive to Utah to take so much out of me!  Between the 12 hour drive (one-way) and then the whole day of apartment hunting that made Husband and I grumpy, dehydrated, and almost at each other’s throats, I don’t want to go on any road trips for a long while. The trip was pretty uneventful, and I didn’t go to any Mormon compounds (I don’t think so), so sorry, no crazy Mormon stories for you. But I do have a list! (Note: I still like Oregon very much, but it’s been pissing me off lately, so read this and learn, Oregon!)

Why Utah is better than Oregon:

1. It’s the dry, pleasant climate of Los Angeles (no 90 straight days of rain! YAY!) with the friendly, welcoming culture of the Midwest. This means you get to have the sun and warmth without the pollution, overcrowding, and drive-by shootings, as well as the overall niceness and community feel without the racist Bible Thumpers. Basically, you don’t have to worry as much about being stabbed and preached/screamed at streetside here. Mormons are nice, yo!

2. You have the outdoor beauty and opportunity you get in Portland, without the “apathetic,” PBR-drinking, stocking hat in summer with too-big glasses wearing, hipsters that grace us with their presence every day on Portlandia’s streets, walking with their too-long strides and slumped shoulders while listening to “Oh, you’ve never heard of them” band like they don’t care what you think of them. I don’t like you Hipsters!

What is that, a plaid afghan?

3. Everything seems nice, new, and stretched out! Maybe it’s because Utah is one of the younger siblings in the United States family, but most businesses and houses in the southern part of Salt Lake City look like they’ve only been built in the past 5-10 years so everything just seems more organized. Streets are on a grid and numerical, and not half-assed like Portland. My mind soars! The highways are so well planned and wide, usually at least three lanes! That means more room to drive FAST to where you need to go, instead of being stuck in traffic at rush hour or being road-blocked by the asshole in the left lane driving the speed limit. Which brings me to my next point:

4. You can drive FAST in Utah! The speed limit on all the interstates is 75, suckahs! I swear, Boise is technically the halfway point in between Portland and Salt Lake City, but because the limit in Oregon is so damn slow, it takes you seven whole hours to get to Boise, while it then only takes five to arrive at Salt Lake City! All that slow driving in Oregon costs you two whole hours in the damn car! What is WRONG with you Oregon? Why do you want everyone to drive so SLOW?! You’re like Grandma in the back seat yelling “Slow down! Too fast! You’ll kill someone at this speed!” You’re so dumb Oregon!

More like “Welcome to Good Driver’s Hell.”

5.  I’m still hung up on the driving aspect. Utah drivers actually drive fast and move over when you want to pass them. One of my biggest pet peeves is the way people drive in Portland and the state of Washington as a whole. On the interstates they will hang out in the left lane in a 65 mph zone and drive, well, 65! They will drive just as fast as the car right next to them in the right lane (the SLOW lane, mind you) and when you drive up behind them, they pretend you’re not even there! It’s like their mind is saying: “Derp a derp a derp. This car in the right lane here must be lonely so I’m going to keep them company and be their buddy for the next 20 miles. Derp a derp a derp.” I pull up a little bit (not tailgating too close, mind you!) to give them a more obvious signal that I’m right there behind them, wanting to pass and go faster, but they still don’t get the hint! Somehow, probably unknowingly, they inch slowly past the car in the right lane, and I, fed up with just waiting around for them to do the obvious, pull to the right hand lane in order to pass from the other side. They see me! “OMG another lonely car! I’ll speed up and keep them company too!” To avoid rear-ending the fast approaching Semi I brake hard and pull in behind the same car again in defeat, maybe riding their ass until my exit just to spite them, even though they probably don’t even notice.

This is how I imagine they “parallel park,” too.

6.  With 0-20% humidity, the climate is ideal for healing sunburns when you need to peel off that dried up, translucent epidermis. To the housekeeping staff at the Best Western Timpanogos Inn in Lehi, Utah: I am sorry for what you found on the floor of our hotel room when we checked out Friday afternoon.  You probably thought we had smuggled a molting python in with us. I am incapable of controlling my urge to peel or pick at things, including the before mentioned sunburn, scabs, cuticles, and finger/toe nails. Sunburns are my worst weakness; grabbing the dried edge of the flipped up piece of skin like when you remove the tape seal off a DVD or CD, gently pulling so that it doesn’t tear and you have the satisfaction of picking off the longest, most in-tact piece possible. You feel like you win every time.

7.   Rumbi’s. As you can see from their website, most of their locations are in Utah for some reason. They serve delicious Hawaiian/ Caribbean food (there were things like fish tacos on the menu) and I am their newest fan. Apparently a lot of Hawaiian Mormon converts ended up moving to Utah back in the day. Oh, and there was also coconut rice.

Me + Coconut Rice

8. The cost of living is a lot cheaper than Portland, I’ll tell ya! First, of all, gas is like 50 cents cheaper. Second of all, I feel like paying a Sales tax instead of an Income tax works out for the best when you aren’t a big spender. Also, we were looking at a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment, roughly 1200 square feet that was only $1,150 a month! That’s including parking, water, sewage, Comcast cable TV, two pools, and a fitness center! Cha-CHING!

9. These babies. I could look at them aaaalllll day. The Cascades have got NOTHING on these (The Wasatches).

It’s like landscape porn.

10.  There are DINOSAURS there!

P.S. I found out how to do picture captions! Be proud of me!

P.P.S. I apologize for all the swears and hope it doesn’t hinder anyone from reading my blog.