Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Up and Down, Round and Round

What a weird day.

I woke up this morning feeling UP because it's Pay Day and I had an appointment with G. the Meanie.

Then I was a little DOWN because there was only one $72 deposit in my account from the district. But then I was UP because I found out that because my last day was in May, my check will be available for pickup tomorrow at 8:00 am. Then I was DOWN DOWN DOWN with worry--what if there's no check? So I left a message with the payroll people asking, "Is there actually a check for me? Not just this $72 whatever payment?"

Then I went for a run and felt UP through that and through my butt-kicking appointment with G. the Meanie. Then I was DOWN because next week is our last appointment and I'll miss the little shit. I told him to keep checking in with me from time to time, and he promised he would.

I walked home feeling UP from the adreneline and my super atheletic powers, and because I weighed 1.6 less than last week and G. the Meanie was all kinds of complimentary about how I'm doing an awesome job (pozitiv ree-inforsmentz: I needz dem). Then I was DOWN with a huge tinge of worry because really, what if $72 is all I get this month? I'll have to call 1-800-MOM-NDAD to get my rent and bills paid, which will suck.

Then I was MEH about the low calorie, low-sodium potato soup I bought at Safeway recently. Still prefer my own, made from scratch.

Then I was UP because I got to take a lovely shower and get all the sweat out of my hair and crevices.

Then I was a wee bit DOWN because last night I discovered that my camera was missing. Yikes! I was very, very UP to find that I had, indeed, left it at PetCo on Sunday after taking pictures of the darling baby kitties currently up for adoption. And I continued to be UP at Blockbuster, because I had three movies to trade in for new ones, and I'm finally, finally going to watch "To Kill a Mockingbird." I adore the book but have surprisingly never seen the movie.

Then I came home and felt DOWN because no one from Payroll has called me back and I'm starting to get a little paranoid.

But then my cell phone rang, and it was a lady from a school district in San Jose, wanting me to come in for an interview. It's a K-8 district, and the job is choir/visual arts. I explained how I'm not authorized in visual arts, but basically taught it anyway these last two years.

And frankly, I'll even take training if I need to, and earn an authorization, if they'll hire me and get me away from the BIG DOWNER that I applied for unemployment yesterday and may be washing Mom and Dad's cars and cleaning their house several times this month if I have to borrow money from them to pay rent.

(Here's the most awesome thing about Mom and Dad--they'd help me out in a heartbeat, and they never expect anything in return. Here's the thing about me--I'm almost 32 years old and I don't want to take advantage of them.)

Things, however, are looking UP. I might go on a date tonight with a guy from OKCupid. I weigh 1.6 pounds less than I did a week ago, meaning I'm officially in the 150s. I have a job interview for a position I'd be happy to take. I have a job interview, period. I have three movies to watch over the next few days, and most likely, a paycheck coming to me tomorrow. And if not, I won't be reduced to trolling the street corner to get the rent paid.

Yeah, that's the biggest UP of all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Somewhat Lazy and Absolutely True Summer Adventures of Meg

1. Unemployment

Well, I filed for unemployment yesterday. I basically have no idea what I'm doing, and hope that soon I'll get a hold of a human being at the Employment Development Department (EDD) and get some information beyond the FAQ section on their web site.

For example, what if I get a part-time retail job. Can I still collect unemployement so that I can keep the rent and bills paid? Because part-time retail ain't gonna do it, and my next option after 1-800-MOM-NDAD is to find a Sugar Daddy.

Which isn't my style.

It doesn't help my peace of mind that the Republicans and Democrats are bitching and kvetching with each other about benefit extensions for the unemployed.

2. your thing!

I'm finally there. Where's there? I'm finally at that place where I'm actually ready to date. You know, that place called Self-Confidence. It feels pretty good.

So Neighbor Boy turned out to be a dud (as some do) and has been dry as Yosemite Falls in August. There's been one very nice-seeming gentleman that I've been corresponding with, but I'm quickly realizing that there's not much else on Match to hold my interest for $34.99 per month. So I've ended my supscription and joined the all-free OKCupid. And whaddaya know, it's way better.

So far, I've had a flirtatious conversation with a very attractive man who lives in my former hometown, Folsom. There's been some workout talks with another gymbo, but they seem to have died off. There was an invitation to have drinks with a very handsome man when he's out my way on business this week (he lives in San Jose). But he hasn't replied to my last message and I'm thinking that might not pan out. An honest-to-God bullrider contacted me, and I'm flirting a little, even though I am pretty morally opposed to rodeos.

It's been a lot of fun, and I've had a lot of interest from guys--way more than I used to get.

3. "Don't lose ALL the padding..."

I've had two guys say this to me--both on Sunday. First was Neighbor Boy, and the second was a random dude on OKCupid. I had to laugh. The "padding" isn't going anywhere, no matter how much weight I lose. It's part of me, and I'll always be curvy.

I just find it funny that these dudes seem almost afraid that my getting to goal wait will make me some kind of skin-and-bones girl. It's okay, boys, not gonna happen.

4. PB&J

There came a point in my school years (probably around 5th or 6th grade, I don't remember exactly when) that I got completely sick and tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To the point where it just sounded disgusting. So for years, I went without, thinking, "What a boring sandwich! I'd rather have turkey on sourdough any day."

But a couple of weeks ago, G. the Meanie mentioned one of his favorite night-time snacks: whole wheat bread, blackberry jam, peanut butter, and sliced strawberries and banana.

Since that discussion, I have found an organic blackberry-vanilla jam (no high-fructose corn syrup, and yes, every bit as delicious as it sounds!) to go with my organic peanut butter. Sometimes I'm too lazy to slice up the fruit, and just have the PB&J. Either way, it's like dessert. So delicious. So gratifying. Have a salad or a bowl of soup with it and I'm a happy girl. It's way too hot to cook beyond heating something up on the stove and slicing a few veggies for a salad, anyway.

5. Three weeks 'til Keane!!

Nothing more really needs to be said. They'll be here three weeks from today, and I will be there, front and center, lovig every second.

6. Scrapbooks and Movies

When I'm not filling out online apps for jobs and unemployment benefits, I've been doing some scrapbooking and watching movies--at the same time, yes. I set up a table in front of the TV and I've happily scrapped my March trip to Monterey with Meghan and a trip to the Jelly Belly Factory made with Summer several months ago. Now I'm moving on to a day Summer and I had in Sonoma. Ahh, wine country. I think I'll use a lot of purples and greens in that one. : )

And that's about it. The last several days have been pretty lazy, overall, with moments of getitng stuff done and some excitement on the dating front.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Music: MY BOYS

I avoid posting official videos (and in most cases, embedding is disabled), but in this case, I must post the official video for "Is It Any Wonder." This one is off of Keane's first album, Hopes and Fears. The director set up a little roller coaster track for the camera, set the guys up in it, so the resulting footage is chaotic and awesome.

The song's not bad, either. ; )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Verdict Is In

Neighbor Boy is kinda dull.

Okay, that's harsh. He seems like a nice enough guy. But he's a wee bit on the dim side conversationally (if you've hung out with me, you know that I need stimulating conversation--that's why I hang out with you). He also frustrated me by being indecisive to the point where I can tell, if I pursued something with him, that I'd be the one always making decisions because he 1) doesn't want to offend or 2) can't make them himself. Look, I don't want some Alpha Man who controls everything, but after a few minutes of back-and-forth, a person should be able to make a decision, not just sit there on the phone waiting for me to talk. Again.

It's a pet peeve of mine. Date Boy back in December did the same thing and ultimately, I just couldn't deal.

Here's what went down:

1. I called him yesterday, which you all know about already. We talked about meeting up at about noon today to work out. This, in my mind, means, "Done Deal."

2. My cell phone rings at 8:15 this morning. Fortunately, I was awake, though still in bed. We chat for about five minutes. I mention our previously arranged time of noon.

NB: "I've got something at noon."

Me: "Oh...well, I have to clean cat cages at 10:00." (This is non-negotiable. The pet store opens at 10:00, and I don't want to keep those cats waiting. I made a committment to AFC, and I keep it.)

NB: "Well, maybe we could meet now..."

Me thinking: Dude, I'm still in bed, in my jammies, with my cats curled up next to me. I could happily spend another hour here.

Me: "Hmm. Okay, how about nine? I can't work out on an empty stomach, so I'll need to have my protein shake."

NB: "That's good."

Long pause.

Me: "Okay, yeah. Let's meet at nine, then."

NB: "Okay."

Me: "So...see ya then! Bye!"

NB: "Okay, bye."

Me: *click* *shake head* "Oh, good grief."

3. I catapult myself out of bed and start taking care of business. Deodorant? Check. Workout clothes? Check. Grab the shoes. Make protein shake (my usual breakfast). Check email. Oooh! Flirty response from very cute guy I've been flirting with on OKCupid. Nice!

Finally, it's about 8:50. "Ring-ring!" chirped my cell phone. Oh, maybe he's here.


"So, you want me to come over now?"

Imagine me with my cell phone to my ear, smiling tightly, rolling my eyes, and taking a deep breath so all that doesn't come through in the tone of my voice.

Me: "Sure! Come on over. I'm ready. Had my breakfast and everything."

NB: "So you have your workout clothes?"

Me: "No, I'm in my stripper outfit."

Okay, so I didn't say that.

I assured him that yes, I'm in my workout clothes, and I'm ready to go. Because, remember, I've already told him, more than once, that I clean cat cages at 10:00.

To be fair, maybe he's used to people who say, "yeah, let's meet at 9:00" and then he arrives and they're not actually ready at 11:00. Who can say? He's not going to know, right off the bat, that 9:00 means 9:00 for me. I'll give him that much.

4. So he finally arrived at about 9:00. We "worked out" for about half an hour. I put that in quotes because what we did (some pushups, some situps) is not what I call working out, but rather "warming up." But he was hung over and tired.

I think he tried flirting a little but I just sat there thinking, "No, dude. I'm not into you."

And that's okay. He seems nice enough, but consider this conversational gem:

Me: "So, what do you do?" (After talking about my job for a few minutes. And being told I seem "conserve." Which yes, I am, a wee bit conservative with strangers.)

NB: "I just work."

Me: ", where?" MUST NOT ROLL EYES!!!

NB: "I just work and go to school."

Me: "Cool...what do you study?"

NB: "Well, I was studying psychology, but I don't like having to memorize everyone else's theories and stuff, so I think I'm going to go undeclared."

Me: "That' What else interests you?"

NB: "I don't really know. I just want to go undeclared and do what I want to do for a while."

Me: "Ahh, yes...explore your options." You big man-child. Anything you end up picking is going to entail "memorizing everyone else's theories and stuff."

He left shortly after this, talking about working out again, when he's not so hung over. I smiled and said, "Sure! Hey, drink lots of water! See ya!" and gratefully closed my door behind him.

They can't all be winners.

Hey, it's okay, though. I've been flirting back and forth with a couple of cute guys on OKCupid, and I might meet one this week for drinks. We'll see what happens. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bucket List

I've been thinking, lately, about things I'd love to do in my lifetime. I've been really, really fortunate--I moved to England to teach, spent Spring Break 2003 in Rome, did London Semester in 1999. I've had some awesome experiences, and they've opened my eyes and mind to the wide world and all of the possibilities.

That said, there are tons of things I haven't done, places I haven't seen, and experiences I haven't tried. So I've decided to create a Bucket List.

Here are fifty things, and they are presented in no particular order. Some are Big Adventures, and others are more mundane.
  1. Participate in a flash mob.
  2. Ride the Indian Pacific Railway from Sydney to Perth (or from Perth to Sydney, doesn't matter!).
  3. Climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
  4. Visit and walk to the top of Borobudur in Indonesia.
  5. Get at least one autograph from a member of Keane (preferably Richard, but I'm not really that picky).
  6. Participate in some kind of volunteer excursion to Africa, either Habitat for Humanity or Volunteer Africa.
  7. Go to a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.
  8. Pay my respects to Athena at the Parthenon in Greece.
  9. Be a foster mom to a pregnant cat, and witness the birth of her kittens.
  10. Get married in Yosemite National Park (just me and the guy).
  11. Have a book published, whether its something I write or a book of my photography.
  12. Have my own garden, where I can grow oodles of daffodils, maybe some tulips. I'll definitely have a plastic flamingo.
  13. Walk along  part of the Great Wall of China.
  14. Listen to jazz music in New Orleans.
  15. See A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte at the Chicago Art Institute. It is the most famous of Georges Seurat's paintings. I've seen some of his others, but this is the one I most want to see.
  16. Join a bowling league. I was in one in middle school, but since then I've never had the time and the money at the same time.
  17. Visit Yellowstone National Park.
  18. Get my kicks on Route 66.
  19. In fact, a road trip across the United States and back, hitting as many states and cheesy tourist traps as possible.
  20. Stay a night at one of the surviving Wigwam Motels.
  21. Attend Glastonbury Festival, especially if Keane is playing.
  22. Go hot air ballooning (thank you, Alana the Crazy Liberal, for unknowingly reminding me of this one!). Over Napa or the San Francisco Bay would be nice, but I'm not picky.
  23. Ride a riverboat down the Mississippi River (if they're still actually moving, not just docked).
  24. Take classes in ballroom dancing.
  25. Have a dinner party using my grandmother's china.
  26. Even though I'm not a big fan of the idea of horse racing, I would love to attend one Kentucky Derby, and, of course, wear a fabulous hat.
  27. I suppose I'll have to go parasailing, like Mom did. : )
  28. Crunch leaves under my feet while visiting New England in the fall.
  29. Ride in a gondola in the waterways of Venice, Italy.
  30. Attend (and look fabulous at) a masquerade ball.
  31. I really, really want to compose at least one decent song in my lifetime. I have little scraps of ideas, and some know-how. I just need to do it, really.
  32. Learn to ski and snowboard. Now that I actually have some balance, I could do it without hurting myself, I think.
  33. Run an 8-minute mile.
  34. Visit the various ruins of the Aztec, Mayan and Incan peoples of Central and South America.
  35. Make a road trip around England, stopping in little towns and all the tourist spots.
  36. Spend at least five days exploring, shopping and riding rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.
  37. Shop at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
  38. Visit the Great Barrier Reef. I'm not sure I'll ever try SCUBA diving, but I wouldn't mind seeing the reef from a glass-bottomed boat.
  39. Get a Master's degree in music (I'm thinking vocal performance).
  40. Learn to get used to the flat keyboard of a laptop computer...then actually invest in a laptop.
  41. Ride a mule in the Grand Canyon. Horses, apparently, aren't as suited for the terrain.
  42. Visit all fifty states (I'm at something like 22 or 23).
  43. Go to the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco (this should be easy enough), or a Lantern Festival in China.
  44. Celebrate New Year's Eve in London. (For New Year's Eve 2004 and New Year's Day 2005, I opted to be in the US of A with my family.)
  45. Have a living room with green walls (this WILL happen).
  46. Make a Midi recording of my World Beat Music Poster (a playable piece of music that happens to be a map of the world--check out the link).
  47. Buy a Eurail pass and head off to every country I can possibly pack in to a trip...preferably at least one month.
  48. Watch the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) from Norway. All while avoiding lutefisk.
  49. Experience a Japanese tea ceremony in Japan.
  50. Complete and entire cryptic crossword without peeking at the answers.
Good grief, it took about three hours on Saturday night and many more than that on Sunday to finish this! I'd walk away to think or look at my map of the world. I also read email, played around on OKCupid and Facebook, worked out, etc. in between. But it was really, really hard to come up with fifty unique experiences (rather than just "go to this place, go to that place").

Now, I want to know--what's on YOUR Bucket List? Post in the comments, or write your own blog post and put the link to it in the comments so I can visit.

Flying Blind

Oh, dear.

Today's the designated day. I have a phone number, and I'm going to make a call.

The only word that comes to mind is an ear-splitting EEEEEEEKK!!

This Dating Game stuff is foreign to me. All through high school, I stuck mostly with my girlfriends, my only real date being Junior Prom, and even then, I went with a friend, not a potential boyfriend. In college, I thought things would explode for me, but here's the thing--you have to have confidence to get noticed. I was cute, I was smart, and I often blended into the wallpaper because I just didn't make myself stick out in anyway. I dated here and there, I had a couple of quasi-relationships and some definite heartache, but I left college without having a Major Relationship.

And something else happened. I let the silliest boy ever make me feel unlovable. When Mr. Funny sent me a "let's-just-stay-friends" email and three days later ended up in my best friend's bed, I guess I just decided that I wasn't lovable, or desirable. Things went to hell.

I had a brief reprive in London Semester. I met some cute British guys who were only too happy to flirt and kiss and dance, but it could never really go anywhere, with me flying back to the U.S. in a few short months. When I got back to Chico, I just fell back into the I'm-not-worthy habits. I fell straight into eating to comfort myself, and the weight piled on.

I spent the whole of my twenties fighting those demons, but also doing some awesome things. I got to go to Italy, England, France, Ireland and Canada in those years. I met some wonderful people. I took jobs and honed my teaching skills.

In Antioch, things hit rock-bottom. I did a brief stint on a personals site and got a date out of it, but I also got to my heaviest weight, went on blood pressure medications and anti-depressants. At 27, I had a bout of sciatica and spent a few days using my dad's cane to get around.

We all know what happened--I left Antioch, and got a job in Stockton. I turned a lot of things around, and I've become a new Megan. Sixty pounds lighter, several clothing sizes smaller, with a 10-minute mile and some mad weight lifting skills. I stand a little taller, walk a little prouder. I'm getting more glances, more interest. It's a good feeling.

Last weekend, I went shopping with Summer. As we drove around, we got talking about my unemployed status and my efforts to get out and date. If you look at my life as it stands, maybe spending so much time thinking about meeting people and dating might seem like a waste of time--after all, my life is kind of up in the air right now. But as I said to Summer, with tears streaming down my face, "Sometimes I feel like such a loser. I'm unemployed. I'm not getting job offers. And I don't even date." (Which technically, isn't even true--I briefly dated a guy back in December, which has to count for something.)

It was a hormone-induced moment of feeling sorry for myself, but I can also be honest and admit that it's true--I am looking to get out and date because I need something to make myself feel a little better, in addition to feeling so awesome about my weight loss and newfound athleticism.

So the other day, the most amazing thing happens--a cute guy sees me, red-faced, dripping sweat, barely coherent after a grueling run, and comes back to give me his phone number. I've done the giddy girl-talks with Summer and Heather, I've done the obligatory blog post and Facebook status update. I even told G. the Meanie, because he loves seeing the evidence that everything he's helped me achieve is having such a wonderful impact in the rest of my life.

Summer and G. the Meanie agreed that waiting 'til today (Saturday) was best. He gave me his number on Thursday, so don't call Friday. Mom and Dad laughed, and Dad said, "This is above my pay grade!"

So here we are. It's Saturday, and I'm about to do something I've never actually done before--take a phone number given to me by a guy who was definitely giving me an "I like what I see" look, and make that call. I'm terrified. I don't know how to act, what to say. Be myself, sure, but how much of myself do I want to put out there so early in the game?


I called him. We really only talked about working out, and how he's trying to get into personal training, which makes me question if he's interested in Meg the Person or Meg the Guinea Pig. I'm just going to roll with it, and we might meet tomorrow to work out. Eek.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This Stuff Doesn't Happen to Me...

I decided to challenge myself today when I went for my run. Last week, I ran a mile at about 10:20 or 10:30, and I was quite pleased with myself. So this morning, I made a new goal: 10:00 or less.

I knew I could do it, if I really pushed myself. And push myself I did. Rivers of sweat were streaming down my face, my neck, my back. My running clothes were soaked. It took a few minutes of walking back through my apartment complex to calm my breathing down when I was finished. But I did the whole block in 11:23. According to The Daily Mile, that's a mile in 9:51.

Obviously, I'm quite pleased with myself.

But its what happened after that mile that boggled, excited and flabbergasted me.

As I reached my building, a cute guy walking just ahead of me turned around, smiled, and said, "Hi, neighbor." Feeling cute, I smiled and said, "Hi, neighbor!" right back. Introductions were made. I reached my apartment and let myself in, smiling and saying, "See ya."

A few minutes later, there was a knock at my door. Sure enough, there was Neighbor Boy, smiling.

"I was thinking, maybe we could work out together sometime."

I agreed with him, and he gave me his phone number. Eeek!

This stuff doesn't happen to me! I used to just fade into the wallpaper, or not elicit any notice from the men of the world. Suddenly, here I am, with a cute guy noticing me, giving me his phone number, wanting to get to know me...when all he's seen of me is sweaty running clothes, a ponytail plastered to my neck. Red-faced and breathing like a steam engine as I try to slow my heartbeat after an intense run.

This stuff doesn't happen to me...and yet, it just did.

I practically skipped to the gym, and I didn't feel at all self-concious in my swimsuit as I did laps in the pool. I bragged about my sub-10-minute mile to B. the Gym Manager, who grinned, said, "Shut. Up." and high-fived me. Later, I caught up with G. the Meanie, who high-fived me, introduced me to his client, and proudly said, "Megan's lost over 60 pounds." (Oh, yeah: I weighed in yesterday at 159.9. I don't care that the lunch I ate later tipped me back into the 160s--as far as I'm concerned, I'm officially in the 150s now.)

Suddenly, I have a strong urge to buy a lotto ticket.

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Officer, a Gentleman, and a (Slightly) Famous Hotel

 This was originally posted to The Anxious Traveler on March 31, 2008.

I admit it: I love "An Officer and a Gentleman." This is a young, hot Richard Gere portraying a Navy boy. If you know me, you know that I love a nice Navy Boy...almost as much as I love a flyboy (once and Air Force Brat, always an Air Force Brat). But I digress.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I found I was living within 30 miles of where this delightful bit of 80s cinematic fluff was filmed upon moving to Washington in 2005. Driving into Port Townsend one day, I realized that the cute little hotel on the edge of town was, in fact, the hotel used in "An Officer and a Gentleman," right down to it's familiar, and kitzchy, sign:

Much of the movie was filmed at nearby Fort Worden State Park. If you're familiar with the movie, these pictures might be familiar.

Monday Music: MY BOYS

Every once in a while, Keane pulls out a cover (like "Inshin Denshin" of two weeks ago). I love "With Or Without You" by U2, and then I heard this version. LOVE.

Enjoy the pics of the boys in this video, courtesy of YouTube user zanysophiex. The audio is from a live radio show. Richard abandoned his set to play some smaller percussion instruments like the shaker and tambourine.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

California Dreamin': Part 4 Chico

Note: There will be more San Francisco installments, but for right now, I've got some hot-off-the-digital-camera shots I want to share of a trip I made to Chico yesterday.

In August 1996, a couple of big, life-changing events happened in my life. The first was my 18th birthday. The second, a week later, was my departure for college.

My college of choice was California State University, Chico. Actually, it was the only college that accepted me, because it was the only college I got around to applying to. I received my acceptance letter in November 1995 and decided that because this fine state institution had accepted me, and I was completely sick of writing application essays, that Chico would do me just fine. Besides, it was only a two-hour drive from my hometown, and that was a big draw for a young woman who was terrified to leave her friends and family.

Chico State is located smack dab in the middle of the city of Chico (hence the name), a small urban area that lies roughly in the Middle of Nowhere. The nearest communities are mostly farming towns, and Chico itself is surrounded by uninhabited hills and mesas. As you can see from the map below, it's almost directly north of Sacramento (about 90 miles).

Eighteen-year-old Meg was not the Meg you know and love today. You're probably thinking, "Well, duh--you're in your thirties now. No one goes from 18 to 31 without changing at least a little bit!" But the changes I've made seem massive. Eighteen-year-old Meg was a church-going, non-drinking, never-been-kissed and extremely naive girl (as opposed to Meg at thirty-one, who is Pagan Megan, wine-loving, been-kissed, bit-more-worldly).

But this post isn't about me, it's about Chico, one of California's many little delights. I visited on Friday, for the first time in a very, very long time. I took a lot of pictures, encountered many, many memories, and realized just how much I really do love that crazy little college town in the Middle of Nowhere.

I'll start with Chico's biggest, most famous institution, the university itself. Here's the institute of higher learning where Meg of the LPB labored for her BA in Music Education. I think you'll agree, it's a gorgeous campus. (Click here for an interactive map--very cool!)

The Performing Arts Center, as seen from the corner of 2nd Street and Normal.
I spent a lot of time in this building.
To the uninitiated, it was the P.A.C. (each letter pronounced individually).
To those of us who lived there, it was "The Pack."
Walking up the sidewalk on the back side of the PAC, there's a lovely view of Lassen Auditorium.
Kendall Hall is the main administration building.
I've heard people say that the brick buildings remind them of Ivy League campuses.
Chico students love the campus for its many trees and flowers.
Another view of the PAC--a side entrance that took music students
 directly to rehearsal rooms and classrooms.
The banners are new since my last visit...but the motto is not.
Trinity Hall houses Chico's bell tower, which chimes every half hour.
The Student Union was just beginning its expansion when I was leaving Chico. It now boasts a student fitness center and some nice cafes.
Meriam Library--a massive four-story structure.
I have good memories of studying for Music Theory 3 with my study buddy, Justin, a talented pianist.
I was sad to learn that he commit suicide a couple years
after we toiled our way through Dr. Burnham's difficult class.
Chico Creek runs through the middle of campus,
providing a little bit of peace and beauty to an already lovely campus.
There are little unpaved paths for walking, and I would often
 walk them to gain some peace in an otherwise hectic life.
As I approached the other side of campus,
 I noticed some major construction going on between the three on-campus dormitories
 (a Wikipedia read-through confirmed my guess that it's additional dorms).
Next to the dormitory I lived in as a freshman is Tehama Hall,
home of this computer lab, where I first became addicted to email.
 It's hard to believe that there was a time that I didn't have email, or an Internet addiction.
The window in the very middle of this picture was my dorm room in Whitney Hall.
I was lucky to have a single room, and never regretted the peace and privacy it afforded.
I still had to share a large community bathroom with 50 other girls.
 At this link, there is a layout of the residential floors of Whitney Hall.
Room *29 was mine (229, as I was on the 2nd floor).
Whitney Hall is actually the tallest building between Sacramento and the Oregon border (it has nine floors).
 It is the largest of Chico's dormitories.
One block down from Whitney, there's a residential area.
 I used to walk down this street every day in my freshman year,
to attend classes in the building at the very end of the street.
 Every day I admired the cute houses along the way.
A cute mural on the education building.
I majored in Music Education, which was based in the PAC,
so I didn't have much to do with this building.
If I'd stayed in Chico for my credential, my classes would have been here--
but I moved back to Folsom and earned my credential through National University.
Hamilton Building is where all of my classes were in my freshman year.
I was in a program called General Studies Thematic (GST),
 a program in which we earned 33 of our 48 required General Ed units in one classroom,
using a thematic scheme of work.
There were only 36 students (all freshman) and six professors.
 In retrospect, it was a great program,
but I was immature and didn't really take it seriously at the time.
Every GST class created something to leave behind,
so I suppose one year must have made this
 (and I'm glad they did, because I could not for the life of me remember where the hell the classroom was!).
My class made a Greek column, which, sadly, is gone.

Another view of the creek--there are several bridges crossing over it on campus.
The next few pictures are some student sculpture and pretty views along Chico Creek.
The George F. Peterson Rose Garden was planted in 1957.
Peterson's father was the gardener and horticulturist for John and Annie Bidwell,
 the founders of Chico. There is a fine for anyone caught picking roses here.
A close-up of Kendell Hall.
Chico State was once Chico Normal School, a teacher training school.
Chico's motto, "Today Decides Tomorrow," is engraved above the main entrance to Kendall Hall.
In front of Kendall Hall, many classes have buried time capsules.
 I was a part of the class of 2001.
Laxson Auditorium seats 1,200 and is in near-constant use by
 performers from around the world and Chico States own performing programs.
 I sang, played clarinet, and even worked as a stagehand on Laxson's stage.
The architecture of Laxson is described as Romanesque.
I never paid much attention to it when I was a student at Chico.
An impressive mural on one end of Taylor Hall, by the artist John Pugh.

Bidwell Mansion sits at one edge of the campus. John and Annie Bidwell were the founders of Chico (named for their Rancho Chico). Their mansion is open for tours.

The mansion from the side.
I'm thinking these must have been stables.

I'm sure you'll agree that the campus is impressive, for a state school. There is a certain level of snobbery in California, where people tend to tier colleges and see the University of California (UC) system as "better" and "more elite" than the CSU system. I figure I got just as good an education as I would have at a UC school, and I got out of taking the SAT2, and tuition cost less. I wouldn't trade my time in Chico for anything, including UC Berkeley, UCLA, or UC Davis.

The University is almost intimately linked with downtown Chico, and indeed, downtown is in heavy use by students throughout the school year.

I can't get away with a whole blog about Chico without mentioning the notorious "party school" reputation the school carries on its back. In 1989, things got out of hand at a Pioneer Day celebration, and riots ensued. The negative press caused people to think that Chico students are a bunch of Animal House wannabes, and it didn't help that Playboy magazine had ranked CSU Chico as number one on its "best party colleges" list in 1987.

Pioneer Days festivities were called to a halt, and things mostly settled down. By the time I arrived in 1996, there was a lingering reputation, and I'm sure that many other incoming freshmen were there because they wanted to have some fun. I'm also sure that many of them ended up washing out, as many college students do.

Face it, any college is going to have its share of partying, alcohol and even drug use. Chico is no better or worse than any other college I've visited or heard of. But as this letter to concerned parents points out, Chico is a true college town, and most of the students live within a two-mile radius of the campus itself. If you live that close to campus, you are also very close to downtown Chico, home to many bars.

Things can get out of hand, but I'm happy to say that in my first few years at Chico, I was able to safely celebrate Halloween without fear of injury or harassment. My last year, some friends and I went downtown, and we didn't encounter anything bad...but we did hear later that there had been stabbings and fights. In recent years, Halloween has become less a fun chance for Chico students to parade around downtown in hilarious costumes, and more a chance for bad things to happen. This is due to people coming in from out of town, ruining things for the students, who just want to have some fun.

But I digress. Downtown Chico is a fun place by day and by night. By day, it is a family-friendly place, largely devoid of chains. Many of Chico's finest shops and restaurants reside there.

A particular favorite is the Madison Bear Garden--but no one calls it that. Affectionately known as The Bear, it is a restaurant and bar by day, and a club by night. It serves one of the best burgers in all of Chico, and has plenty of atmosphere. Opened in 1977, it has been a beloved part of downtown ever since...if it ever closes, I fear that all of Chico will be sucked into a giant sinkhole. That's how catastrophic it would be.

The inside of the Bear is an eclectic collection of...well, junk.

If you tire of drinking at the Bear, there is no shortage of other bars in Chico. The rest of downtown is full of bars, restaurants and shops, old theaters, a city plaza, and everything else a proper downtown needs.

The one time I celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Chico (you have to be 21 to do the bar crawl), I stood outside Normal Street Bar at 4:00 am waiting to get in at 6:00. We drank green beer for a few hours, and then I stumbled two blocks to the PAC for a 10:00 choir rehearsal, because Dr. Gemmel had threatened chaos, mayhem and bodily harm to anyone who missed choir because of St. Pattie's.
A few shops. At the very left is LaSalles, another bar that got my patronage in my legal drinking years.
Jon & Bons is your standard frozen yogurt place, but it's family-owned and has been part of downtown for a long time. On Friday's visit, I stopped for a small cup of low-fat French Vanilla with cookie dough balls.
The music store that was here has since moved, but this awesome Beatles mural has remained.
The Upper Crust is a delightful little bakery, beloved by students.
Aca Taco was good for lunch, but my favorite was a total dive restaurant near 5th and Ivy streets called Tacos de Acapulco. I'm not convinced there weren't vermin in the kitchen, but at 2:00 am, when the bars closed, Tacos de was the place to get a burrito to take home.
Another true Chico tradition is Collier Hardware--in business since 1871. On Friday, I noticed the hanging sign was missing, and had a brief moment of panic, thinking Collier had closed. I would have burst into tears on the street if this had happened--fortunately, they're going strong, and I did my part to keep them going by buying some wooden spoons for my kitchen.
Tres Hombres is a favorite restaurant in Chico--one of the nicer sit-down Mexican restaurants. Sadly, they were badly damaged by a fire back in December, but according to the boards outside, they'll be back.
Town Founders John and Annie Bidwell. It was Annie who donated a large chunk of land--approximately 2,500 acres--to the city of Chico that today is the beloved Bidwell Park.
This is new since my days in Chico, and I don't know much about it, except that I like what they've done with the exterior of the building.
Old Town Root Beer replaced Pizza Face, which made me sad.
There were several artistic benches throughout downtown that were not there in my day. I liked them, as they show off the creative talents that live in Chico.
Crazy Horse Saloon was a fun place to go dancing. I never rode the mechanical bull...I have no regrets.
In my Chico days, there were three music stores downtown--Tower, The Underground, and one that I think was called Sundance. Sundance closed during my time in Chico, Tower shortly after, and The Underground a few years later. Where the kids go for used CDs now, I have no idea...but then, they're probably all like me, buying music on iTunes. Or illegally downloading, which I don't do.

The Chico City Plaza looks hugely different than what I knew--gone are the gigantic old trees, and much of the grass is gone, paved over and replaced with a fountain and small pavilion. At first I thought, "No, this is awful!" but I've come to learn that many of the old trees were diseased, so a remodel was in order. 

The war memorial is new, and a very nice touch.
A lovely old building across from the park.
Just a block from the plaza is the old Senator theater. I used to see movies there, but these days, it's used for live acts. At least its used--many old theaters aren't so lucky.
The plaza provides a fun fountain and small pavilion stage for live music. Perfect during the Thursday Night Farmer's Market.
Chico's downtown post office.
I liked the elm court for its lovely chess tables.
I had forgotten all about House of Rice, and was delighted to see it is still in business. It is one of those wonderful, eclectic Asian import stores--I remember laughing once over a "family-sized" tube of wasabi sauce, smaller than a standard tube of toothpaste.
Bird in Hand is another favorite store, and home to Chico's own National Yo Yo Museum.
The world's largest working wood yo yo. I challenge any college town to beat this.

Naturally, I found the Snoopy yo yos.
The El Rey showed new-release movies until its closure a few years ago. Happily, they're showing movies again, and apparently, this weekend's feature was "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." I saw Leo and Kate in the weepfest "Titanic" at this theater in 1997.

Chico is a thriving small city, with modern conveniences, malls, mega-movie theaters, and even an auto mall. But the heartbeat of Chico is heard loudest in the areas described in this post. While all of my Chico friends have moved on to bigger cities, or nearer their families, we all agree that our time in Chico was a great time, that our experiences there made us who we are. While most of us wouldn't go back to Chico to live, we carry it with us always--it is truly a small gem in The Middle of Nowhere, California.