Archives of Our Lives

{a narrow and broad look into the lives of people I love}

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Nervous Breakdowns

My day started out well enough, with me taking the opportunity to enter my very first Blogger Giveaway. A person I e-stalk, Loralee, is holding a contest to name a stuffed chicken, and I entered a fabulous name [Stalwart P.]. The person who enters the best name will get a $15 gift certificate to, and I was sure to win with such a rad name. Things were off to a winning start.

Then I went to work at my bad job which is always a test of my sanity. Bad. Then I got $50 in tips in under four hours. Good. Then I spent lots of money on scrapbooking supplies for my wedding album/guest book. Bad. Then I came home exhausted and tried calling every friend I had to come love me. They were all busy. Bad again. Then my mom and I had a joint nervous breakdown together over our broken dishwasher, worthless microwave, dead dog, summer heat, and the month of August as a whole. Uber bad. Then I decided that even though nobody had time for me, I would still go register for our wedding at Target. Good in theory. Then I got to Target and realised that, without a fiancee by one's side--or a big sister, or a maid of honour, or a best friend, or anyone--registering for one's wedding gifts is...lonely. I was lonely at my favourite place in the country. Bad. Then things took a turn for the better when I went to visit a dear friend from high school. Good. Then she told me how when I get married, I will endure the pain of sex, pregnancy, weight gain, labor, post-partum, child-rearing, empty-nest syndrome, and menopause, and then...I will die. Very bad indeed. {Enter nervous breakdown #2. } Top it all off with a day full of self-conscious nigglings about being uglier and fatter than one's fiancee's ex-girlfriends, and it makes for a generally bad day overall. I broke out in hives. So there you have it. The Good, the Bad, and the Nervous Breakdowns.

To all who care and have commented on the engagement photos, thank you!! It means a lot to me, really. I am interested in what people think, and I appreciate the feedback. Results of the photo poll will follow soon...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Truth and Consequences

I am home after a short (much too short) weekend in Canada.

As I was going through Customs in the Calgary International Airport, I had to fill out a declaration form. I didn't have anything to declare besides an overstuffed suitcase full of sweaters and scarves which I was planning on leaving at my fiancee's house (where they will stay until I move up there in October and actually need them). Luckily, it isn't illegal to bring sweaters into Canada (imagine how much people would have to pay in duty...) so I didn't have to admit anything about Kyle, or my plans to become a Fairbanks on October 20th. I even took off my engagement ring because when I don't, they ask me if I am engaged to a Canadian, and I get very nervous when lying to people in uniforms. Every time I cross the border, I feel like a complete fraud. At any rate, I made it through customs--whether or not I'll make it through the gates of Heaven remains to be seen.

The biggest reasons for the trip were to see my fiancee, make wedding plans, and shoot engagement photos (though if you were to look on my Customs Declaration Form, my one and only purpose of the trip was to visit "family"). Here are some of the fruits of our photographic efforts.

Photo 5

Photo 6

I posted the top six favourite Announcement photos, and I hope everyone takes the opportunity to vote for their choice in the poll to the right. I would like to say that your vote will count for something, but when it comes down to it, the choice will probably just be up to Kyle and me. (If the results are totally obviously in favour of one, though, we will take that into consideration. Good citizens of Blogspot and LiveJournal, let your voice be heard!!!)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Can You Handle any More "Me?"

Time to finish talking about myself, but after these six random tidbits I write about moi-meme, I will only post interesting things on my blog. Promise.

1. It has been a long-standing New Year's Resolution for me to go see a movie alone. I don't know why I have a problem with this--I don't group up with other girls to use the restroom, and I was 100% content to spend an entire week touring Paris alone. But for some reason, to see a movie in a theatre all by myself seems the ultimate symbol of loneliness and rejection. My friend Lindsey enjoys it occasionally, but me? I dread the day when it comes to that...

2. When I was eight or nine years old, I spent an entire year speaking with a British accent. 24/7--during school presentations, when bearing my testimony from the pulpit at church, even at the dinner table. Sometime during my childhood, I was taught that if I worked hard enough, I could become anything I wanted--and I truly thought I could turn British. I even fantasized about going off to boarding school (my mom was hurt when I asked her if I could go); I suppose you could say I was a bit fanatical. I don't know when--or for what reason--I stopped. No matter, really. God bless the U.S.A!!

3. My favourite flower is the Antirrhinum (commonly known as the "Snapdragon" [available at a Home Depot near you]). They are lovely and come in a variety of colours, and they are practically impossible to kill. Plus, they are functional--I mean to say, they really DO something...they snap.

4. I like the smell of manure. It's true. The processed kind that is on everyone's lawns throughout the glorious month of October--love it. Every fall, I drive around my neighborhood with the windows down (okay, sometimes I walk, too) just to get my fill of the pleasant aroma. I know it's only cow dung and chemicals, but to me, it is a symbol of everything autumn. And I do love autumn.

5. As a girl I hated my name so much that I got my entire sixth grade class (plus the teacher and the school principal) to call me "Cammie". But as soon as I got to Carson Jr. High, I met three other "Cammies" (or variations of the spelling) and decided to go back to the more unique me.

6. It takes me a long time to decide whether I like a person, but once I decide, very little can alter that decision. It's like they say in Pride and Prejudice, "My good opinion once lost is lost forever."

So now I'm done. {Please forgive the lack of photos in this post...I just don't feel overly crafty when I have to write so very much!}

Now I tag...Melenie, Tessa, Lindsay White, and...Brandon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Land of the Living

I can nary believe I lived through the trauma of yesterday. Of course such an heinous thing would happen in August. I would say I "lived to tell the tale," only there is no WAY I would tell that tale over the internet. To do so would require the use of words that would instantly turn my G-rated blog into something far, far worse--like Double-X.

Anyway, I am alive; I have been tagged by my lovely friend Afton Willis, so I guess that means you have to sit there at your computer and read a bunch of stuff about me (I always like reading other peoples' tags, I just don't think people will find my own all that interesting). I call this:

The Time I Got Tagged
by Camille P. Strate

1. Au Pair in Belgium (Glorified word for "nanny"). This was amazing. I speak French.
2. Administration assistant at Arizona School of Real Estate and Business (glorified word for "secretary").
3. Sales associate at Interior Fabrics. I sold fabric. Of the long line of people who have worked there since me, I like to claim that I was the One Who Started it All. (It's not a claim--it's true; for some reason it sounds like an arrogant thing to say, though. It's just a fact. [That still sounds arrogant!])
4. Sales associate at Ann Taylor Loft. I don't think I ever brought home much of a paycheck. All I have to show for my 1.5 years at ATL is an extensive (and somewhat outdated, now) wardrobe. I like clothing my body in the latest fashions; I wish I could do it more often.
5. Delivery driver at Jason's Deli. This is a current part-time job I hold. It is not my claim to fame, and I get embarrassed any time I see people I know while I'm on the job. But it's an honest living--Walking Tall, right?
6. I also work as a sales associate at Images of Nature in the Scottsdale Fashion Mall. I dis-enjoy the Scottsdale Fashion People but I love the job, and my fellow employees.
7. Sundry other positions, like janitorial services, lawn-mowing, and even newspaper delivery. And yet, I still have no money.

-I have no problem traveling far away, even if it's only for a few days. My dear friend Chelsie once went to New York City (from Mesa) for only 18 hours. She's my hero. That said, I would pee my pants to go to any of these places: Prince Edward Island, Australia, the Ngorogoro Crater in Africa, Antarctica, Vietnam, Maine, Haggerty Georgia (fictional place, but still), or any state I have not yet seen. Traveling is one of my lifelong passions.

-I am embarrassingly easy to please. Basically any chick-flick will do. Some of my legendary favourites include: Anne of Green Gables, the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, You've Got Mail, Princess Diaries, Lord of the Rings (all). I guess that makes me thoroughly predictable. Oh, and I really liked Stardust, too. I don't care what you say.

1. Diet Dr. Pepper
2. QT Chicken Taquitos
3. Naps
4. Spending any money at all is something I usually have to rationalise.
5. Lip Gloss

1. Mesa, AZ
2. Lethbridge, Alberta Canada
3. Brussels, Belgium
4. My heart has kind of always lived in New York City. Does that count?

-How about I just redirect you to this map...

Doesn't Colorado look lonely?

Plus Canada, Mexico, France, Belgium, England, and Scotland.

-Pickles. Krazy Sub. Carne Asada Burritos from Super Burrito. Poutine. Ramen Noodles (Maruchan, not Top). Tuna fish casserole. Uncooked vegetables with ranch.

-Let's just say the first kiss that really mattered was on the green couches at Kyle's parent's house. I am pretty sure all his siblings have kissed on those couches, and I can't decide whether to be proud to join the ranks, or kind of creeped out by that. Either way, they're in our basement now...let us hope they have good karma.

-I cannot fathom that anybody is still actually reading this. I'll do it tomorrow, so as not to kill off my friends--death by boredom would be very bad indeed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

All You Need is Love...

...and an OB/GYN, according to what "They" say.

Whoever the heck "They" are. "They" say that I should go visit the gynecologist before I get married--I say "Hogwash!", but for some reason "They" have more seniority. I guess "They" have been around a lot longer than I have. After all, I am only 20 (but I'll be 21 by the time I get married, which makes me feel better about myself...).

"They're going to do WHAT????"

When I called to make my appointment, the receptionist gave me a list of things to remember [come early, bring insurance card, etc.], and when she asked if I had any questions, I kind of had a nervous breakdown:

Me: Well, I have been dreading this day all my life, really. I mean, I have heard horror stories about this visit. I just know it is going to hurt, and I can't even imagine how beyond awkward I am going to feel.

She: Oh, it's not that bad.

Me: (With the vulnerability of a 5 year-old on his first day of Kindergarten) I know. The thing is, though... I am really scared.

She: (Pregnant pause [no doubt while she contemplated the lameness of some people in the world]) Would you like me to leave a note on your file for her (the OB/GYN) to be gentle?

Me: (Moved almost to tears by her kindness) Oh, would you? Thanks--that's really nice of you. You're really nice. I hope the good Doctor is as nice as you are...

I am so not looking forward to this...

Tomorrow is a really big day for me. If you have any spiritual tendencies at all, please say a prayer for me Monday at 1 p.m.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Division of Interests

I have a confession: I missed blogging during my six-day hiatus. My last post was a cry for help, really. "Do people even care," I would ask myself. "Do people know that I care? Do people who know that I care actually care that I know?" Tiring and tedious, anyone with a blog can probably relate to these feelings of vulnerability. And I wanted to know if people cared. So I asked for feedback, and feedback I received. Due to the relative volume of comments on my last post (13!!! All-time high for me), I have recommitted myself to the cause: Bloggers unite--I am back by demand (whether that demand is popular remains to be seen), and probably for good.

Today's post is about art...

Da Vinci Code, anyone?

Now, wait. Before your culturally-unaware eyes glaze over, read me out: COOL people like ART!!! I love art (If cool people like art, and Camille loves art...). Seriously, though, I can spend beyond hours at art and history museums; I get lost in the translations of what an artist might have meant by her work, and what I, personally, learn from it. Love it. Love, love, love. That said, I can understand why people might not find the same joy I do in works of art. Some people, for example, like to exercise. Exercise people like to be active, and I don't. I would much rather walk leisurely through a museum than hike even a very small mountain. (The one exception to this was the time I ran through the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa before closing time.) So if you are an exercise person, I understand if you don't want to finish reading this post.

However, if you prefer the freedom and vastness of the world of art, please feel free to stay tuned my next post: Cubism at a Glance. [Just kidding. I won't write anything on my blog about Cubism, because I think it's lousy. Take that, Pablo!]

Really, though, I am likely to write a few posts about some of my favourite and most-loved works, and I might write a guide about some interesting art movements throughout history. But I promise, I will make it very interesting--that's the Camille Strate Guarentee.

People who look like this just belong in a museum, particularly if that museum is in Paris... Good thing I am not an exercise person!

Friday, August 10, 2007

All Good Things...

Good news! The polls are in, the scores have been tallied, and the outcome is as it should be. It is confirmed that, among my friends and fellow internet stalkers, there is not one person who believes August is the best month of the year. (It doesn't matter which month was voted best, really. All that's important is that it wasn't August.) I feel like all might be good in the world--or at least not very bad.

Another good-ish thing is that I have figured out how to add music to this blog. Please feel free to scroll to the bottom of this page and listen to any of the five lovely songs I've chosen for this week's playlist.

Lastly, I think I am finished blogging. This is probably the last you will hear from me. Thanks for the good times; I have really enjoyed my brief venture into the blogging world.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Blogger Finger

def. 1. Blogger Finger [blah-grrr feen-grrr] (Modern American English): Intense soreness and physical discomfort in the right hand, most commonly found at the joint connecting the second metacarpal and second proximal phalanges. May also occur in the left hand, in cases of left-hand dexterity. Said to be caused by many hours of using a computer notebook trackpad for many daytime and nighttime hours on end. No known cure. ex. Ms. Strate's doctor said her case of blogger finger was caused by e-stalking, and would curse her all of her days.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Today I Think... should eat more Nutella.

The original chocolatey hazelnut spread, Nutella has been around since its conception in Italy in 1940 (used as a substitute for chocolate during the scarcities of war). And I say this is the year it should make a full-fledged immigration and take over the Americas at long, long last.

Eat it on plain bread or toasted bread, pretzels soft or pretzel sticks, Ritz crackers or Cracker Jacks; or just grab a spoon and dig in without reservations! Available wherever groceries are sold, I think. But for sure at AJ's Purveyors of Fine Foods.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cherishable Notions

I laugh with my future mother-in-law that I am much better at relating to elderly people than to youthful people (by "youthful" I mean childish [by "childish" I don't mean immature--I mean children]). But it is true. So many people say they learn a lot from their children, but I say, "That's absurd. How can you learn from someone who knows so little?"

I, myself, prefer to learn from people who know; the ageds' wisdom comes on warranty--backed by years of experience and a degree from the school of Hard Knocks. Children might accidentally say profound things because they don't know any better, but elderly people are eloquent because they cannot be anything else--their histories of trials-and-errors are sure to produce some fool-proof advice to help others.

This is my Grandma Strate on the pier where we went fishing many times in Texas last month. I consider her to be one of the most beautiful women I know--her grace and poise is comparable to the beloved Audrey Hepburn in her later years... Such a gem. [By the way, I can never be like Audrey Hepburn because she and my grandma both love the children. Pity.]

I love all my grandparents so dearly. I was grateful for the opportunity I got to spend time with my far-away Grandparents Strate last month in Texas. Isn't this photo (of my 90 year-old Grandpa) precious? I got to tour an Aquarium for several hours by his side, and this was his expression the entire time:

Look at those laugh lines! I will never inject myself with anything that could possibly hinder my acquisition of laugh lines--I think they're something in which to feel pride. I hope Kyle ages exactly like this when he grows up...

I suppose what I am trying to say is this: Love the children if you must, but please--please--remember to cherish your elders.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Kicking Myself Later...

I am a girl of extremes. If I do something, I do it dramatically and with fervor. Sometimes that is a good characteristic, like when playing a major role in a ward Road Show. Other times, however, it is less good...

...Like how I don't usually get embarrassed, but when it happens, I can't forget about it--I'm a dweller. I either let it bounce off me, or I get embarrassed to the max. I can still remember, for example, the time I was 13 and took my best friend to a ward outing and we met some boys to whom I made the comment, "Mountain View sucks butt!" and immediately regretted it. Quite horrific, and it was even around a campfire, so the boys couldn't really see us. I felt so silly, though, and am dwelling on it almost 8 years later.

Practising pirate faces can be embarrassing if captured on the digital memory of a camera...

Another time, I was riding in the backseat of a Volkswagen Jetta. There were two boys in the front seat: one I had a little inkling for, the other was his friend (who later turned out to propose to me). And I asked the first boy--the inkling boy--flat-out if he had a girlfriend (when it was obvious he'd been flirting with me all night). I thought it would be funny, but it turned out that he actually was seeing another girl at the time, so there was a pregnant pause and then he replied, "Yes". I then turned to the other boy, mortified, and tried to save face. "Oh, well," I said casually, "then you and I should go on a date sometime!" A voice inside my head was saying, "Camille, you are a complete idiot! You should be locked up and fed sardines on saltines for the rest of your life--you don't deserve to exist in public." Amazingly enough, boy #2 agreed to going out with me, and somehow grew to love the dork-off that is me. (Either that, or he is marrying me out of the same pity he felt for me that night.)

I wonder why I have such a hard time forgiving myself my trespasses...

Sometimes I think it is going to be so wonderful to move to Canada, where very few people know the real me. That way, when I get there, I can start fresh, and always think before I speak, and then maybe nobody will ever find out about how socially backwards I actually am at times. Canada is a sweet escape.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Gem--Whatever Gets Me Through the Month

Despite the supreme August-ness of this last week, I stumbled across a little gem of comic soothing. This kid is getting his voice made into ringtones all across North America and Europe. His parents are thinking about getting an agent to handle the production of "I Like Turtles Kid" bobble heads. Someday I will succeed in getting video footage directly onto my blog, but for now a link to the YouTube page will have to suffice--watch it here. I hope you enjoy the 17-second clip as much as I do! Oh, and just for the record, I quite like turtles myself.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Walking Tall, Seven Days a Week

I never thought I would be one of those girls who works at a mall. But now I do--at the Scottsdale Mall, no less. [I am glad I can at least say I work somewhere reputable, like an art gallery, as opposed to Forever 21 or Limited Too or something teeny-bopper like that.] The Scottsdale Mall can't just be called "The Scottsdale Mall," however. It is more correctly known as the Scottsdale Fashion Mall. For fashion people. (Although my fiance's niece Ady is most definitely a fashion girl, most people who know me cannot argue that, sadly, I do not fall under this category. See?)

Fashion people wash their hair even when they aren't going anywhere...

Anyway, the Scottsdale Fashion Mall is like nowhere else in the country (except maybe 5th Avenue in NYC, or the entire universe we know as Beverly Hills). I went into work today and was reminded why I usually choose not to shop there. I parked my 1999 white Toyota Camry at the only place available by the time the mall opens: The Outcast Lot. Nobody who actually lives in Scottsdale will park there, because they are afraid their H3s and Jaguars and BMWs will get keyed by the frustrated-with-their-station-in-life bourgeoisie. But there, amongst the other late models, Tamra the Camry felt right at home.

Tamra Camry, ever unassuming. Doesn't she look unassuming? I bet if she had a mind, she would spend all day just thinking, "I don't assume much."

The Outcast Lot is strategically placed at the entrance between Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, and Prada, so as to remind the untouchables of their status (or lack thereof). I entered the mall wearing a white eyelet skirt I got on clearance at Target, a hot pink wrap-around top that I've had for years, and nondescript white wedges from Payless (where I paid impossibly less because of a back-to-school sale my senior year. Of high school). Oh, and a Hawaiian shell necklace my sister got me as a souvenir, just for a bit of frosting.

I think the Scottsdale Fashion Mall is on high alert for people like me. It's like the CEO put out a memo: "Attention all security personnel: This is an APB. This is not a drill. Be on the lookout for tall, overweight Caucasian females. May be seen wearing a number of generic brands at any given time. Possibly toting overstuffed pleather handbags. If searched, said pleather handbags likely contain a variety of Bonnie Bell lip glosses. These cosmetics are highly mediocre--again, highly mediocre. Be on high alert. This is not a drill."

Walking tall, though, right? Seven days a week.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Gone are the Days

It's August, and I feel drained of all inspiration. I do so dislike the month of August. SYTYCD last night was pretty lousy, as far as SYTYCDs go. But really, what should I have expected, what with it being August and all...

Canada is a good place because they have a holiday in August. I don't know what they are celebrating, but all the Canadians get off work next Monday. Good for them. It's sad for me, though, because Kyle will be at the family cabin with the family down in Montana for the long weekend. And I am missing it. To read about Kyle's beautiful sisters (& their adorable children) click here. You might also find something about his parents... [If you are an internet stalker like Afton, you will just love this!!]

Since it is August and there is no good in the world, I don't really have any good photos to put on here--nothing good has happened recently. But let me take a look into my File of Happier Times, and maybe I can find something interesting--for a blog is not a blog without photos.

This is a time when my hair looked better (see Lindsey Burnham's blog for more information on how you, too, can look this good every 6-8 weeks).

One year ago in NYC, I had some good hair too. Again, thanks to Miss Lindsey Burnham.

Well that's all I have. Lame, I know, but oh-so typical for the times.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Year's Longest Month

Nothing good happens in August. It has long been my opinion that August is the one month the calendar would be better off skipping. If only August could be more like September...there's so much hope in a September; so many good things are bound to happen as soon as September rolls around: the heat finally mellows, autumn smells are in the air, and the general consensus of the world is that life is good.

Flowers like this happen in months like September.

And October! I have always thought October to be the most hopeful month. Seeing all my neighbors out in their front yards, spreading manure and dusting off the ol' oscillating sprinkler (dug out from a pile of similarly forgotten sundries that are completely worthless in the summer, like rakes and grass seed and pride in one's lawn) does my heart good. There is hope that the newest winter grass will be greener than ever. There's the ideal that this year's Halloween costume will make history. There's the Homecoming floats, and the anticipation of sweater-weather; if every month was October, there would be no depression in the world--no crimes, no sorrow... If only.

Flowers like this happen in August. (Can't see any flowers? It's because there are none. Because flowers are good, and good things don't happen in August).

Alas, it's August, and all is not well. August is bleak. By the time August rolls around, the heat is at its peak, but we're all so sick of it we don't even have the energy to brag about it like martyrs anymore. In August, school starts, and (though I am a strong supporter of higher education for one and all) I am not going to sucker
anyone into believing that I like starting school again. August brings no sight of hope for Autumn to descend, even though it deceivingly starts with the same lovely letter amalgam--that's so typical of August: sneaky. It does: August sneaks up on the world like the devil himself sneaks up on the stalwarts. Independence Day parades come and go, and suddenly, August. Sucking the life out the innocent like a dementor from Azkaban, August comes in all its dismal glory. Almost makes me want to curse.