Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More on this later...

What I really need to write about is the fact that I left NJ a year ago, and there are a lot of stories from that time period that need to be told. As well as photographs of things like my last days in NJ and my road trip across America (again) to Portland.

But I just want to write quickly that I have, after four years, halted the process that was turning me into one of those wackos who doesn't trust doctors. I still don't trust all doctors or all medical information. I look at that stuff with a critical (and I hope scientific) eye. I'm looking at you, terrifying HPV vaccine commercials!

Anyway, the point of all this is that I went to the doctor for the first time in four years, not counting the physical I had for work or this time in 2008 when I went to the Rutgers health center for a cold. I got everything I needed done, all at once, with my prescription on order. I've finally found a doctor/medical office that I like. I feel like my fancy health insurance is worth all the money I'm paying (out of pocket. The plan's as good as what I had in NJ, but 1/3 of the cost.)

Anyway, it's 8:30 and time to get to work!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spooky Saturday

A series of strange events has occurred, fairly unremarkable on their own but in combination downright creepy.

First, I received a cryptic e-mail on Thursday. Sent through the New York Times website was this article. Gardens in the Garden State is certainly an interest of mine (I am now more determined than ever to visit the New Jersey Botanical Garden in Ringwood!), but the cryptic part is that I do not recognize the e-mail address from which the article came. I searched my G-mail and there are no other records of this sender. Furthermore, no message was included to shed light on this. How does this person know me? Are they a former co-worker of mine? Or Community Gardener or volunteer who worked with me at the garden? A fan of my Winter Woodland Walk, perhaps? Are they a reader of this blog? Who are you!?

This morning I was awakened at 7:32am by my phone. My blurry sleep vision detected a "971" &mdash a Portland cell phone area code &mdash and I wondered if I'd perhaps overslept for work! But before I answered, my eyes refocused on the "917" area code. Where the heck is that!? The caller left a voicemail, just the sound of their phone hanging up. Exactly one minute later, the mystery caller called again, this time leaving a voicemail identifying herself as "Monica" Something and asking me to call her back at 917-xxx-xxxx. My parents are currently on a trip, and I wondered if 917 was the area code of where they are and if maybe something had happened and I was their emergency contact and someone was trying to call me!!!!! But no, "Monica" would have said as much on her voicemail. I tried to go back to sleep. But the phone continued to ring. "Monica" would not leave me alone! I finally called her back.

"Yeah?" Monica said, upon answering the phone.

"Um...hello...?" I wasn't really sure what to say.

A pause.

"Someone from this number has been calling me all morning."

"Yes, I have!" said Monica in a tone that indicated self-righteous anger.

Acquiring my own self-righteous anger, I replied with the unproductive declaration of, "Well, you're calling the West Coast and it's very early here!"

Monica asked to speak to my supervisor.


Monica then did not ask me, but told me, that my name was something (I think she said "August," but that is a boy's name) contrary to my outgoing voicemail message stating that this phone belongs to a "Sarah," and she would like to speak to my supervisor!

"Um...this is a personal&mdash"

"This is the Newark Airport and I would like to speak to your supervisor!"

"No, it's not the Newark Airport!" I announced, once I broke through my bewilderment and processed what she was saying.

Monica demanded to speak to my supervisor again. I informed her that she had been calling Oregon. She made one more demand to which I nearly shouted, "This is a PERSONAL CELL PHONE in PORTLAND OREGON."

"Oh. Sorry," said Monica.

More irritating than her mistaking my phone number for that of the airport (which has a 212 area code, because you call the Port Authority of NYC/NJ, not some random Newark cell phone number) was her ignorance of what I was telling her and insistence that I was not who I said. What kind of customer service line would lie in the first place, let alone invent a lie like, "I'm in a state most New Jerseyans aren't really sure exists! It's not California, right? Is it near there!?!??!"

A couple of hours later, I was driving to work listening to the radio, when my music suddenly turned into static and talking. Eventually, I realized that, although I had touched nothing connected with the stereo, the radio station had changed. I changed it back. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. Again and again, until I had merged onto and driven a few miles on the freeway.

This was when I began to wonder if there was some connection between the strange events of the past few days. Are aliens messing with my electronics? Is Monica not just some idiot from Queens, but really a spy? And who sent me that New York Times article!?

Something to celebrate

Next weekend marks my one-year in Portland. A year ago today, I relinquished the keys to my apartment in Morristown and began to pack my car.

The above photo taken last night by this artist represents one of the differences between my two home states. In New Jersey, not only are fireworks illegal, but so are sparklers. Like riding in the backs of pickup trucks and pumping one's own gas*, safe handling of these dangerous items is deemed outside the capabilities of the general public.

We still used sparklers in New Jersey &mdash but furtively, and usually only on the 4th of July. After watching the Lake Mohawk fireworks display, we would march back to my house, cluster in the backyard where, out of sight from the road and police cars, we could enjoy our forbidden pleasure from south of the border**.

Last night in Portland, Oregon, there was no need for such secrecy. We lit our sparklers on the front steps and twirled around with them in the front yard, in plain view of the street. Note the white lights in the top right corner of the photograph. I like to think that is the police officer we encountered who, upon driving by, not only didn't arrest us (but did inspire an atavistic, fearful ache in my stomach) but also rolled down his driver's side window, paused, and cheered at us and our sparklers, "YEEAAHHH!!!!!!"

* The latter of these is also illegal in Oregon.
** That is, South of the Border, a Mexican-ish hotel/crazyplace on I-95 in South Carolina and a necessary stop on family road trips to Florida.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Neglected Blog

Dear Botanylicious Blog and Its Readers,

I apologize for neglecting you so much over the past month. My mother is visiting from NJ this week, and next week I am going on a trip. Prior to that, I was busy preparing for these two weeks and also busy at work. When I get back from my trip (to Crater Lake and Northern California), regular blogging is expected to resume.

Friday, June 04, 2010

San Francisco Preview

After my trip to San Francisco, something wonderful appeared in my life.

Something wonderful, in spite of (or because of) the distance &mdash of an entire country between me and the people who love me back in Jersey. A wonderful opportunity.

When a picture of you looking like this appears, and most of your close friends and family have not seen you in at least four months, do you really have any choice but to e-mail it, with very little explanation, to everyone of your acquaintance? With the filename sixmonths.jpg?

I don't think so!

UPDATE: I thought I'd included this line before hitting, "Publish," but I did not! I am not actually pregnant. I just look pregnant in a lot of the photos from SF. I did send it to some people as a joke a few weeks ago, (but told them right away the truth) and we all had a laugh. My family, on the other hand, just said, "Nice picture."

Future news

A real blog post is overdue, I know. But here's a one-sentence update. After a promising meeting downtown yesterday, I believe I have found the graduate program of my dreams. Not in Botany, but in non-profit management.

And then I had the best pizza since I was in New Jersey. I don't know what part of this story is more exciting.