I wonder if every town has a bad part - where the unsavory people live/meander and cause trouble. I didn't think Ames did until this year. But now I think I live in that part of town.

When I moved in, there were kids running around outside the apartment building. I didn't think much of it, because it was nice out, and kids need to play! But later that evening I realized that their parents were not watching them at all. True, they do leave their apartment door open (all day), but I don't think that counts. The parents were too busy cussing up a storm on their cell phone (so everyone could hear it) and acting like gangsters. Now I hear my neighbors from an entirely different apartment building screaming at their kids all night, and letting their dogs park until the wee hours of the morning. I want to have my window open because there is a nice breeze, but the noise is so annoying!

I wouldn't be surprised if I heard partying and people talking, but what I am hearing sounds like child abuse, dog neglect, and drug deals. Maybe I should write a screenplay about it all.


Data looked as lazy as I felt today on Datacam so I sped him up a bit.


Borrowed from kapgar and Write Coast.

Just bold the things you have accomplished in your life.
1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink.
2. Swam with wild dolphins (although I did not know it at the time - my family was yelling (from the shore) "Dolphins!" but I did not hear them).
3. Climbed a mountain (even a small one). I think I have, but it could have just been a really BIG rock.
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive.
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid.
6. Held a tarantula.
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone.
8. Said "I love you" and meant it.
9. Hugged a tree.
10. Bungee jumped.
11. Visited Paris.
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea. Sea? No. Ocean? Yes.
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise. But not on purpose!
14. Seen the Northern Lights.
15. Gone to a huge sports game.
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa. For €20?! I don't think so!
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables.
18. Touched an iceberg.
19. Slept under the stairs.
20. Changed a baby's diaper.
21. Taken a trip in a hot-air balloon.
22. Watched a meteor shower.
23. Gotten drunk on champagne.
24. Given more than you can afford to charity.
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope.
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment.
27. Had a food fight.
28. Bet on a winning horse.
29. Asked out a stranger.
30. Had a snowball fight.
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can.
32. Held a lamb.
33. Seen a total eclipse.
34. Ridden a roller coaster.
35. Hit a home run.
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking.
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day.
38. Actually felt about about your life, even for just a moment.
39. Had two hard drives for your computer.
40. Visited all 50 states.
41. Taken care of someone who was sh*t-faced. (unfortunately, more than once)
42. Had amazing friends.
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country.
44. Watched wild whales.
45. Stolen a sign.
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road trip.
48. Gone rock climbing.
49. Midnight walk on the beach.
50. Gone sky diving.
51. Visited Ireland.
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love.
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them.
54. Visited Japan.
55. Milked a cow.
56. Alphabetized your CDs.
57. Pretended to be a superhero.
58. Sung karaoke. But not in a bar.
59. Lounged around in bed all day.
60. Posed nude in front of strangers.
61. Gone scuba diving.
62. Kissed in the rain.
63. Played in the mud. Soccer.
64. Played in the rain. Soccer.
65. Gone to a drive-in theater.
66. Visited the Great Wall of China.
67. Started a business.
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken.
69. Toured ancient sites.
70. Taken a martial arts class.
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight. What is D&D?
72. Gotten married.
73. Been in a movie.
74. Crashed a party.
75. Gotten divorced.
76. Gone without food for five days.
77. Made cookies from scratch.
78. Won first prize in a costume contest.
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
80. Gotten a tattoo. Fake.
81. Rafted in Snake River.
82. Been on a television news program as an expert.
83. Got flowers for no reason.
84. Performed on a stage.
85. Been to Las Vegas.
86. Recorded Music. In an Orchestra.
87. Eaten shark.
88. Eaten fugu (puffer fish).
89. Had a one-night stand.
90. Gone to Thailand.
91. Bought a house.
92. Been in a combat zone.
93. Buried one/both of your parents.
94. Been on a cruise ship.
95. Spoken more than one language fluently.
96. Performed in Rocky Horror Picture Show.
97. Raised children.
98. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour.
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country.
100. Picked up and moved to another city just to start over.
101. Walked the Golden State Bridge.
102. Sang loudly in the car and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking.
103. Had plastic surgery.
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived.
105. Wrote articles for a large publication.
106. Lost over 100 pounds.
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback.
108. Piloted an airplane.
109. Petted a stingray.
110. Broken someone's heart. Probably!
111. Helped an animal give birth.
112. Won money on a TV game show.
113. Broken a bone.
114. Gone on an African photo safari.
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced.
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun or pistol.
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild.
118. Ridden a horse.
119. Had major surgery.
120. Had a snake as a pet.
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours.
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States.
124. Visited all 7 continents.
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days.
126. Eaten kangaroo meat. Gross.
127. Eaten sushi.
128. Had your picture in the newspaper.
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about.
130. Gone back to school.
131. Parasailed.
132. Petted a cockroach.
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes.
134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey.
135. Selected one important author who you missed in school and read.
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
137. Skipped all your school reunions.
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language.
139. Been elected to public office.
140. Written your own computer language.
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream.
142. Had to put someone you love in hospice care.
143. Built your own PC from parts.
144. Sold you own artwork to someone who didn't know you.
145. Had a booth at a street fair.
146. Dyed your hair.
147. Been a DJ.
148. Shaved your head.
149. Caused a car accident.
150. Saved someone's life.

Well, I guess I am still young.


My mom is the most difficult person in the world for me to talk to on the phone. She is always doing a million things when I try to talk to her - none of them being listening to me. I know she is busy. She works, she babysits my nephew, she takes classes, she cooks for my family, she shops a lot... but sometimes, you just need to talk to your mom!

Your mom is the person you call when you feel sad, lonely or just need to complain about something. You can't always call your fiance! You don't want him to know how much you bitch and moan (besides, what if is is about him?). You can't call your friends, because you don't want them to know how unhappy you are. And you can't just talk to a random person, because then you would just look crazy...

So what am I supposed to do? I know my mom is not going to be "free" anytime soon. Maybe I just need to start talking to my little sister more. Maybe sisters are good for something!

MY BED | AUGUST 27, 2006

I forgot how much I love my bed in Ames. I don't know what kind it is - just that it is a double size pillow top mattress, and every time I lay down on it, I fall into a deep sleep. I sleep so well on it that when I wake up, I feel like it was just minutes ago that I went to sleep!

There is a slight problem though. I never want to get out of bed in the morning! I just want to lay there and roll around in the sheets and keep my head on the pillow. It takes extreme effort for me to get out of bed, and once I do, I have to make the bed right away so I am not tempted to get back in!

So I am blaming any lack of progress with anything on my bed.


Today is Tom's 47th birthday. He is not here to celebrate it, but I know that he is living on in the hearts and memories of my family, and his wide group of friends.

Yesterday at work, another student employee asked me how I got a job at Environmental Health & Safety, since I am an architecture major. I started by saying "My uncle was friends..." and I choked. I got stuck on the word was. I wanted to say, "My uncle is friends with... " I eventually finished telling him the whole story, but without a lot of enthusiasm.

It's silly that simple situations like that can make me feel so awful and remember that Tom is not around anymore. It is hard for me to talk about his death with anyone. I become emotional and cry. It is easier just to talk about good memories, rather than discussing how I feel (or how anyone is feeling).

Today I was running around on campus, trying to add a class. I ended up taking an add slip over to Alumni Hall. When I walked in I noticed that one of the men had a bulletin board next to his desk with classic car pictures all over it (most people have pictures of their kids). The woman next to him helped me. When she saw my last name she asked, "How do you pronounce that?" I pronounced it for her, and the guy next to her asked, "Do you have any relatives in Cedar Falls?"

I didn't respond right away because I didn't know what to say. I was afraid he was a friend of Tom's, and maybe didn't know about what happened, and that I would have to be the one to tell him. I started to tell him that my grandparents lived in Cedar Falls, but then I just stopped and asked him if he knew any Ilax there. Then he told me that he was friends with Tom, that they knew each other from car events. I told him that today would have been Tom's birthday.

His name is Tommy Shaw. I talked to him for awhile, mostly while the other lady was filling out my add information for class. He told me about how fun he thought Tom was, and that his death was a shock that makes him feel grateful for every day he has. It was nice to talk to him, even though I felt a bit nervous.


In the middle of my summer in Rome, a thought crossed my mind that I tried to ignore. I even started to write a post about it here, but decided against it. I thought I was just overreacting, but now I think I wasn't.

I was thinking about how I am not very close with my sister or brothers. I hardly know what is going on in their lives - what their work is like, what classes they are taking (if applicable), what they like to do for fun in their free time... I felt worried that I should know more about them, or keep in better touch with them. I do not have any reason not to, we all get along just fine (most of the time).

The more I thought about it while I was in Rome, the worse I felt. So I decided to just blame it on my seven months out of the States and try to forget about it.

But now that I am home, I think I had a right to be worried. I missed a lot in their lives while I was busy not keeping in touch. I ask them questions now that probably seem stupid, because I missed out on something while I was away.

My brothers are still quiet and not very talkative; I notice the most change in my sister. Her attitude is the same, but I think that if I understood more about her daily life I would understand more about the decisions she is making now.

It is like not seeing or talking to a friend for a long time, but you feel like it is impossible to catch up. Even though I am back, I am not where they live. They all live 100 miles away from me.


Researchers at Iowa State University are trying to figure out how they can turn ethanol gas into drinkable alcohol (I read about it on the ISU homepage today). According to the article, it should be easy and cheap to do - all it requires is a more purified distillation system.

Doesn't that kind of weird you out thinking about it? I don't know much about chemistry (oops), but I have heard that alcohol and car fuel are just a few molecules (or whatever) from being the exact same thing. Just like margarine and plastic - apparently they are almost the same thing too.

So to everyone who harasses me about using margarine and not butter, it seems like drinking alcohol is just as bad as well...


I don't have a very legitimate excuse for not posting these last few days. Just that I don't have my computer and I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

So now I am back in Ames doing the "school thing." I am trying to get back into the motivated, hard-worker state of mind, but it hasn't happened yet. Oh well.

I put some photos of Nick and Courtney's Wedding Reception on the photos page if you are interested.


Here is something that only recently crossed my mind, but that I can't answer - when a person is planning on giving someone a gift, do they usually plan out what they are going to buy them, or do they just walk into a store and buy the first thing that tickles their fancy?

Either way, it is still the thought that counts, and blah blah blah... but sometimes I wonder how much thought people really put into it. Not only concerning me, but from other stories I have heard about receiving gifts too.

I used to be really good about giving gifts. I listened for hints all year long and then tried to buy the person that thing that they really wanted. But as I got older, had more money and could afford to buy more gifts, it actually became more difficult.

What do you get for your grandparents when they already have everything they need and probably want? What do you get for your boyfriend's parents when you barely know them but feel like you should get something for them anyway? What do you get for your brother's girlfriend that you barely know because you have been away at school all year but know that she is getting something for you ?

Of course, it is not always difficult. I have never had a hard time finding something to buy for the children I know or for my sister. It is actually really easy with my sister - CLOTHES, jewelry and purses!

But now I have an easy solution to my stress over gift-giving - I have no money, so no gifts for anyone! Maybe I.O.U.s until I start working again!


While I was driving in the Chicagoland area on Sunday, I heard a radio ad that I thought was a joke, but unfortunately it isn't.

I don't remember the ad exactly, but I think it was a man calling different places, asking for a wake-up call, like you can at a hotel. All of the places he calls say that they don't do wake-up calls. So he calls McDonald's, and sets up one with them. Or something like that.

The point is, I thought this was some premise to an ad for breakfast food at McDonald's. In a way, it was - for some 2 for $3 breakfast sandwich campaign (which isn't really a good deal anyway). But if you call 1-888-GO-McWAKEUP, a McDonald's telephone service will actually call you and get you out of bed. It is not a real person, but a recording.

I am not sure why, but something seems very very wrong about this idea. It's not like McDonald's is doing you a favor and getting you out of bed to go to work or school. They want you to get out of bed and come eat their nasty breakfast food.

This is such a strange marketing technique. I suppose it is so strange that it works though. I remembered about the 2 for $3 deal, didn't I? There is no chance in hell I am calling that number or eating at McDonald's, but I remembered it nonetheless.


It is "back-to-school" time. I had to spend yesterday in Ames, setting up my apartment and meeting with teachers, and I could feel the back-to-school frenzy in the air.

Classes don't start for a week, but new students are moving in. They are wandering around with their parents, looking lost. They are creating long lines in the bookstore. They are buying everything at Walmart. They are driving around town, trying to figure out where they are.

And even though this is my fifth year dealing with all this school BS, it still stresses me out a bit. I am already nervous about starting classes, and having to be social with everyone all over again... and the environment doesn't make me feel any calmer.

I am happy this will be my last year dealing with all this.


Cost of ingredients: $14.06 (including tax)
Time spent chopping and mixing: 1 hour
Result: Damn that is good!



What is the difference between a chance of scattered thunderstorms and a chance of isolated thunderstorms?

I am obsessed with checking weather.com, especially when it is close to a time that I will be traveling. I almost always know what the temperature for the next day is supposed to be like, and whether or not it is supposed to rain/snow/hail/etc. The problem is that I share this information with a lot of people, who probably do not care.

We are traveling to Guttenberg, then Cedar Falls next week for a mini-vacation. I know that Steven is really excited about using the jet-skis at the river, so I hope today's forecast that it will rain while we are there will turn out to be false.


I am still trying to "organize" my things at home, only now I am going through my box of photos. All I can say is, "What an awkward adolescent!"

Every picture I find is more embarrassing than the last. I have on strange clothes (not strange because of the era, strange because of my taste!) and am making strange impressions on my face. And I am with people in these pictures that I don't even talk to anymore. The photos are just bad reminders of my failed friendships.

Do I throw them away or save them?


Until this afternoon, my closet was stuffed to the brim with clothes I have not worn in seven months - t-shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, pants, tank tops, blah blah blah... you get the idea.

So I went through my closet, taking out as much as I could to give to the Salvation Army. What is the point of keeping all these clothes if I do not wear them or they do not fit? And you know when you are not going to wear something again - it has just been hanging there, lifeless for a few years.

I am ashamed. Here is what I now have to give to the Salvation Army - 27 t-shirts, 13 tank-tops, 12 long sleeved shirts, 8 blouses, 7 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of jeans, 4 pairs of pants, 6 bras, 4 sweatshirts, and 11 random other things.

That is awful. No one should ever have that much unused clothes hanging in their closet. No one should ever have that much clothes at all! When I was living in Italy, I only had enough clothes to wear something different each ten days. It didn't bother me, and everyone else was doing the same thing.

I am on the brink of having too many possessions. Okay, I do have too many things. At least I can feel better thinking that my gently used (and some not ever used!) clothes will go to people less fortunate than me. I just hope that mother never finds out I gave so much clothes away - not that she purchased them for me - but because she believes in saving everything.


I have been working on reformatting my site for over a month now, and here it is, in all its glory!

I have made a lot of changes the most drastic being the new background. I wanted something a bit more professional. Let me know if you think it is too dark or difficult to read.

I have redone all the different links portfolio, resume, photos, wedding, archive and added two new ones links and about.

I separated the portfolio link into three sections architecture, artistic, and web design.

The photos page has had the most work I added a lot more photos, and plan on adding more when I have time. There are eight different categories of photos there now.

The wedding page does not have a lot of new information on it, but will soon! We are getting married in a year!

I added a links page to share all my favorite websites with you.

The about page has my contact info, and a little explanation of me and the site.

I hope you like the new format. I put a lot of hard work into it, and enjoyed working on it. As always, please tell me what you think good or bad!

I AM HOME | AUGUST 7, 2006

I am home - incredibly sick - but home.


Goodbye Rome.


This has been a summer of "I can't believe." It started with "I can't believe I am choosing to work in Rome for three months," then quickly turned into "I can't believe my uncle passed away." Then it was "I can't believe my brother is getting married," "I can't believe it is so damn hot here," " I can't believe I have already been here for two months," then... "I can't believe I am coming home so soon!"


It is so strange that I am leaving Italy for good, after living here for seven months. Of course I can come back to visit, but visiting a city is never the same as living in that city.

I really enjoyed working this summer. Sometimes I thought that I didn't like it, because I hated getting out of bed in the morning. But then I realized - I just hate getting out of bed! I liked going to work and building models and talking to the people that I work with. I didn't mind not speaking Italian and understanding only half (if that much) of what was going on. I liked the serious/laid-back atmosphere. Instead of being really stressed, we just worked our hardest.

I feel sad to be leaving all the wonderful friends I have met here. I really hope I am able to keep in touch with them, but we all know how difficult that is. But now I have friends to visit in Paris, Zurich and Rome - so I suppose I will just have to travel!


The girl I have been spending most of my time working with, Claire, came to work on Monday with a horrible rash on her skin. Hundreds of little red bumps covered her arms, with bigger red spots on her face. She looked horrible, and told me that they itched like crazy. I thought maybe it was a heat rash or an allergic reaction to food, but today she went to the doctor, and he told her that she is allergic to working in the model shop!

The air there is filled with chemicals, there is bad ventilation, almost everything we work with is toxic... it is a wonder that she is the only one with a bad reaction to it! Often, I have to leave the office for a few minutes to get fresh air because the air inside smells so awful. A few times it has given me really bad headaches. We wear face masks, gloves and aprons, but it is difficult to avoid contact with the materials all the time.

I hope I don't start to develop some strange rash when I get home!


I usually have a mini-depression in the beginning days of August. I am sad that the summer is ending, upset to go back to school and leave Steven, and upset to have less free time. This year though, I seem to have surpassed it.

I am excited about this school year - my schedule is very lenient, and I get to work on a lot of independent projects. That means I get to study what I am interested in!

And after being away from my family for so long, being in the same country as them is a really exciting aspect. I know that now I will spend as much time with my family as I can, since I am able to!


I find this fairly humorous.

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