So Computer Illiterate

I’ve recently been in the market for a new computer.  And by recently, I mean for the past four years.  

What I use now is a Google Chromebook by Samsung.  It is a cheap plastic version of a tablet, except with a keyboard.  It does not allow software and has limited memory.  Very limited.  I purchased it last year because I’m cheap and I only needed it for writing.  I was not yet attending school, however, and quickly realized my purchasing error shortly after beginning classes in the fall.  A computer with software and memory is necessary if one chooses to be a writing major.

It is an unfortunate thing to be born in to the Age of Technology and Information and be entirely ignorant about technology.  I tell you this firsthand.  When it comes to technology, I am lost.  That’s what’s nice about this plastic keyboard-tablet-book, it’s simple to use.  So when I go into the store to look for a computer that’s perfect for me, it goes something like this:

“Hello, welcome to Best Buy, are you looking for anything in particular today?”

“Well, I am looking for a computer, but I need something that’s cheap and easy to use.”

“What will you mainly be using it for?”

“Writing.  Oh, and surfing the intranets.”

silent stare followed by a short scribble of notes.

“Anything else?”

“I need a little bit of memory for photos.”

“Do you use Adobe Photoshop or anything like that?”

Laughter.  “No…Well, not now, but maybe?”

More scribbles.

The customer service rep then goes on to ask which type of processor I’d like, how many gigabytes and hard drive and something about a module and cryptic references to a secret intelligent system that I’ll never be a part of.

I stare for a moment.

“Yeah! Whatever you think.”

They then stifle a laugh, because clearly I have not answered their questions properly and he/she leads me to a computer of some sort and tells me all of the cool things it does.  It even has a touch screen!

“I mean, this looks kind of complicated,” I say. “Can I put Microsoft Office on it?” 

Another stifled laugh, “Yes, absolutely.”

“What if I don’t want to touch the screen?”

“You don’t have to.”

“Why is everyone around us laughing at me?”

“Because they can see how big of an idiot you are.”

I end up panicking and running home and hugging my sweet little Chromebook.  At least we understand each other.

Every computer I have owned has been either a hand-me-down or an ancient Dell that grew from the earth and spawned viruses from the Devil himself.

I tell friends and co-workers “I’m looking a buying an Asus.”

“Are you kidding me?  Those things are like cheap MacBooks.  You should just get a Mac, save yourself the time and energy.”

or if I say I’m interested in learning more about a HP, Dell, whatever the brand, everyone has an opinion.

“That’s so idiotic, Hannah.  This brand is better.”

“No, this brand.”  “No, I like this”   “Those people don’t know anything, this kind is the best.”

My Chromebook and I have been cuddling nightly.

I’m exhausted.  The search still continues because I don’t know the truth.  All I need is Word, dammit, why is the struggle so large?

Do I bite the expensive bullet and get myself a Mac?  Or do I keep it simple and go with something cheap that will get the job done?

Are you knowledgeable? Please help me without making me feel like an ass. Please? Pretty please?

Here’s to Microsoft Word, you selfish brat, it’s all about you these days,

Cheers!

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How to Assault a Stranger Under Police Supervision

Once upon a time, from 2010 to 2012, I lived in a magical place in the Western hills of Wyoming known as Jackson Hole.

I lived in a castle high on a mountain and lived happily ever after.

The end.

Okay, being perfectly honest now, this place was pretty magical, and it was a fantastic place to spend a couple years when I decided to run away from home.  If you’re unfamiliar with Jackson Hole, it is a tiny tourist mountain town that looks like this

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where you go on hikes with your new puppy

(this was actually taken by someone else who took my puppy on a hike #badowner)

and it looks like this

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and this

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because when I try to snowboard, I mostly just lay down.  So in the case of epic snowboarding failures, one can always rely on this

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Let’s be real, I am much better at rolling down hills than boarding down them.

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Okay, okay, you get it.  It was wonderful.

There were a lot of things, however, that irked me about Jackson.  Some things that nearly ruined that town for me.  Tourists were one of them.  Granted, a two years’ stay doesn’t exactly make me a local, but the tourists, especially in the winter, were often times self absorbed rich kids on vacation with mom and dad’s money.  Most of them were dudes.  And definitely not men, that word carries way too much respect and responsibility.  No, these guys were 100% dudes or bros, or something else really douchey.

Near the end of my stay in Jackson, my brother-in-law informed me that a couple of his friends from work were coming to visit.  (These were men, not dudes, just to clarify.)  I received their numbers in hopes that we could meet up at some point and I could show them around town a bit, and was happy to offer my assistance.  Did I mention my brother-in-law is a police officer?  

There was one night when it finally worked to hang out with them.  I got out of work somewhat late, but as fate would have it, there is a bar just above our basement steakhouse, and that is where these gentlemen chose to hang out until I was finished.  I invited some of my friends from work to join us and we all chatted, laughed, and drank (and in my case, chair danced) the night away.  

 My new friends were staying in a nearby village that was a decent taxi drive away, so at the end of the night, they offered to have me hop in the taxi with them and take me safely home instead of having me walk in the subzero winter temperatures the couple blocks to my apartment.  What was this chivalry I was experiencing?  It seemed nearly impossible.  I didn’t hesitate to hop in to skip the frigid walk.  A couple other strangers who were headed in the same direction as my friends boarded also and we headed in the direction of my apartment.

When one dude (yes, we’re talking about a dude now) realized that I lived only a couple blocks away, he started brutally mocking me and calling me names that I would not like to repeat since I choose to only include respectful language here. There were a lot of cuss words.  At first I retaliated and said some harsh words back until I began fuming so intensely that I fell silent.  

Listen people, I can get pretty argumentative, but that’s always good news.  It’s when I stop speaking and begin stewing in my anger when you need to worry.  We are talking back up and hide in a closet, because shit is about to get real.  

The dude kept talking.  I remained quiet.  (Don’t worry, my new friends were standing up for me in my silence)

We pulled into my driveway and the door swung open.  The light in the van went on and I saw the dude’s face.  I couldn’t help it.  I snapped.  I wound up, swung hard and vehemently and slunched him in the side of the face.  (Slunch is an undecisive punch.  Half slap, half punch.)  He was completely caught off guard and I continued to slunch away at him while shouting things like “Your mother should be ashamed of herself for raising such an idiot!”  “You are a sad excuse for a man!” and maybe some other things that I should again, not repeat.  Meanwhile an uproar began with the other passengers and I was slowly escorted from the vehicle.  

It isn’t my proudest moment.  I didn’t turn the other cheek.  

But dang, it felt good.  And let’s be honest, sometimes, jerks need to be smacked.  It’s healthy for them.  Trust me.

My new friends let that dude hear about it the entire ride back to their hotel.

Violence isn’t the answer, people, but when police officers are present when you physically assault a stranger and give you thumbs up and a pat on the bag, I’d say your angry retaliation is A-OK.

To not raising self-absorbed idiots, may you spank them when they’re assholes,

Cheers!

Polar Vortex fail.

I know, I know, I can’t believe another blog is up already either.

This past weekend, Ryan and I decided to treat ourselves to one last little getaway to Chicago before getting back to the grind of school and work.  I had earlier found a fabulous deal on Groupon that included a one night stay in a king suite with a $50 gift card to use at the spa. Sold.  We also decided, since my car is questionable to drive on even short commutes and also lacks an efficient heating system, while his has wheel bearings that need to be mended, to opt for a lovely ride on the Amtrak train from Grand Rapids to Chicago.  Sold.  Oh my we were ready.

The morning of Saturday, January 4 arrived and we were bundled and ready for our adventure to begin.  We snagged a couple of seats, reclined our chairs, busted out our fleece blanket and quickly fell asleep for a smooth ride South.  This is the best part about the train.  You have space to stretch and lean back and, did I mention that it reclines?  Not just a half an inch like on an airplane while your feet remain cramped, but we’re talking a good half a foot of reclining enjoyment, and then, beneath your seat, is a footrest that pops out!  Just like your favorite Lay – Z – Boy! Not joking.  We definitely woke up with an hour to go and threw some honey whiskey in our coffee.  Because we could. Because we were not driving.  We were already on the winning on this trip.

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When we arrived at Union Station, we hailed a cab that whisked us away to our hotel, The Essex Inn.  We were prepared to leave our luggage at the front desk and go on with our day until our proper check-in time of 4pm.   No waiting necessary, a room was ready and I shit you not, it was a corner suite with floor to ceiling windows.  We didn’t mind at all.

We did touristy things for the remainder of the day.  We saw the Chicago bean, watched the ice-skaters, found a local sushi spot, and drank a lot of beer.  It was an eat, see, drink sort of day, and although it was freezing, I could rarely feel my toes, and the whisper of threatening weather could be heard all over town, we were all smiles.

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As we wandered in search of our next spot for a beer and an appetizer, I suddenly saw a familiar sign.  It was for a sports bar that I had been to years ago when I visited with my family.  The details are fuzzy, but I remember we had left it up to my brothers-in-law to find us a place to eat and watch a Tigers game.  They chose this spot and were red with embarrassment when they realized they had brought my mother and father, along with their own wives and sisters-in-law to a place called The Tilted Kilt, where the waitresses are wearing cleavage-bearing bras and short, plaid skirts.   My family laughed about it for the rest of the trip and will never let them live that down.  (No, we are not so conservative that this was an enormous deal, but had they been aware of this detail, I don’t think they would have brought their mother-in-law there.)  There was no way Ryan and I were going to pass it up.  We sent this picture to my brothers and then enjoyed some incredible fried calamari.  Our server, Marissa, was adorable and fun and gave us tons of great hints to travel cheaply around the city, which we never used.

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We did have one place that we particularly wanted to stop, and that was at the Signature room.  After our afternoon of wandering, we went back to the hotel to freshen up before our night on the town.  The Signature room is on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building on Michigan Avenue.  It’s shnazzy. (I don’t want to mention that they’re silverware setup in the dining room was somewhat entirely incorrect for fine dining, but I also can’t just not say anything about it, ya know? Especially since prices easily averaged over $100/person.  C’mon guys, let’s step it up a notch.) We sat in a fog that engulfed the building, but when it happened to clear for a brief moment, holy shit, it was pretty spectacular, and we will definitely be back on a clear night.  And come on, only $42 for two cocktails and a dessert?  Who can pass on a deal like that? (Hi, are we reading that sarcastically? Good)

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We again chose the healthy route for dinner and split some wings and a pizza before hunting down a place I loved on my previous visit with Blake (hannahstwenties.com/the-avatar-survives-chicagoland).  It’s a whiskey bar called Untitled, and it was enormously disappointing this time around.  No matter, it was time to call it a night.

The following morning was a shit show.  Our train was scheduled to leave Union Station at 6pm Sunday evening and bring us to Michigan City where my parents had graciously offered to pick us up and bring us back to Grand Rapids.  However, through the night the polar vortex had caused complete mayhem to the midwestern world of our great United States, producing icy winter storms and bone chilling temperatures.  News broadcasts on every channel warned the public to stay inside and avoid this “life threatening weather.”  The highways in Michigan were down to one lane and dangerous.  My parents were apprehensive to make the drive, and rightly so.  We decided to remain stranded in Chicago rather than force the four of us to become stranded in Michigan City.  Hello Groupon and another hotel deal and hello waiting hours on hold with Amtrak to deal with a customer service rep who was clearly as frustrated as we were. We rescheduled our train ride for the next morning at 7:20am in Kalamazoo where Ryan’s friend offered to brave the roads in his heavy duty truck.

I didn’t even cry, it was a miracle.  Bloody marys saved our souls and after everything was booked and scheduled, you bet your ass that we bundled up and walked to Shedd Aquarium and then to the Planetarium. There were times when I literally thought I was going to blow over.  We ran and laughed and almost fell and definitely took pulls from a flask of whiskey (oh come on, how else are we supposed to warm our blood?) Never again in my life will I go on a trip in the winter without my heavy duty Sorel boots.  Never.

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The next morning arrived way too early as our phones buzzed and dinged our wake up call at 5:30 am.  Our taxi struggled to deliver us to Union Station where our 7:20 was delayed to no estimated time of departure.  At this point we had already been informed that every plane had been cancelled to Grand Rapids, as well as the train scheduled to leave after ours that morning.  Not to mention the highways leading to and from Michigan were also closed entirely.  This 7:20 train was our last hope.

“All Aboard” could not have brought about louder or more dramatic sighs as we loaded up with our fellow riders only to get stuck on the track for two hours.

Look at us now, we are back in Grand Rapids, safe and sound.  No polar vortex could hold us back!

So to weekend getaways that lead from one adventure to the next, and to hoping you have a wonderfully warm coat to get you through these blustery days,

Cheers!

 P.S.  Remember that $50 gift card to the spa I mentioned at the beginning?  Well, what Groupon failed to mention was that the spa was not in the hotel, but was instead a 15 minute cab ride uptown and the spa was so wildly overpriced that I couldn’t get a manicure for that price.  What the cuss, Groupon?

Hey there, 2014

So, seriously? You thought I got a face lift?

I get you every single time!

Anyways…

Ahhh a new year.

To me, starting a new year is like taking a really deep, full breath of fresh air.  Even if the year before was cloudy and murky and full of questions like “what if?” and “why?” and a lot of things look sad and hopeless, there’s still something about counting down the last seconds to midnight and shouting in celebration that what comes next is totally new.  We can say we did it.  We made it through 2013.  Through every high and every low, through every happy moment and every seemingly defeating tragedy.  You made it.  So did I.  That’s pretty great.

I was looking back this morning on the past 365 days of my own life, and I’ll tell ya what, 2013 brought about a couple of jumbo changes for this girl.  The biggest ones being:

1. I went from being anti-college and vowing to never return (and also being extremely confused about what to do with my life), to re-enrolling to my once least favorite place on earth, Grand Valley State University.  It is now a place I’ve come to respect and enjoy, and I’m excited for what the future holds.  What. The. Heck.

2. I had also been single for quite some time, and was always happily so until it started raining engagements and babies and I faced the realization that I was single, not quite ready to mingle, 26 years-old, living with my parents.  I had a couple melt downs.  I had gone on so many terrible dates that I was beginning to lose hope in the race of man.  I was pissed off.  Had every guy become a disrespectful douche bag with no manners and no sense of chivalry?  I started looking at apartments and a lot of cats, as I was sure I was headed in that direction.

Now I’m not saying that that entirely changed.  No.  I still live with mommy and daddy, and at the time Ryan came around, I was still pissed off and apprehensive.  He caught me majorly off guard.  I don’t have time for that full story today, but I’ll just say that nothing as wonderful as Ryan has come along in my life in a very long time.

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Oh my gosh, that is so cute I could barf my brains out.

As for the rest of 2013, I ran a couple of fun races with some great friends

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I went on a couple adventures with more incredible people

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and have witnessed (as mentioned before) my own friends start their families.  As it turns out, it’s actually really, really amazing.

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Friends have gotten married and engaged (and yes, I was able to remember that we all live life at our own paces and I could not be more happy for each and every one of them.)

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and I have not only been able to constantly be with my own family, but have been beyond blessed to get to know another group that I have truly grown to love dearly (ahem, Ryan’s family).

2013 was a good year.

One thing I haven’t done in a long time is make resolutions.  I don’t like them. I feel like resolutions end up looking like a long list of things you need to change about yourself, and I think the world would be a better place if we could all look at ourselves just the way we are and say “I hope to always strive to be a better me, but I’ll love myself every inch of the way.” (unless that person is a murderer or rapist or just a hateful person in general, in which case, they should totally make a New Year’s Resolution to change every single thing about themselves)

However, a friend of mind recently started a blog about his “To-Do” list.  He’s been making them every year for a few years now, and I feel like this is the way to do it.  You can read about them here: ryan40in14.wordpress.com

I really like this idea.  I’ve just begun my list, but it already looks challenging and wonderful.  I may share from time to time, but I definitely encourage you to check out Ryan’s page.

(sidenote: this is not “my” Ryan)

So for 2014 I wish you nothing but better and better.  I hope you look at the struggles with appreciation, as they will mold you into a stronger person.  I hope you melt into every good moment and capture it in your heart instead of just your iPhone.  I hope you make time for the people you love, and only surround yourself with those who make you better.  I hope you step outside your comfort zone, and force yourself to love those you now see as unlovable. I hope you search for understanding and peace.

I hope this for you, my friends, as I also hope it for myself.

Cheers to 2013, thanks for bringing us here!

P.S.  Remember in 1999 when we were scared shitless about the end of the world?  and then again in 2012?  HaHaHa…we are such weirdos.