Friday, April 30, 2010

At work, but...

Story of my life.

Things I Love Thursday

Ok clearly these are not happening on Thursdays anymore but I'm still awake so technically it's not Friday until I go to bed.  Stop judging me.  I had a really busy daaay-whine whine, etc.

(1) Reminiscing about school days. It's been on my mind lately (see middle school post) but various chats with friends have had me thinking of the days of yore.  Like the unfortunate fashion choices that were made in elementary school.  Think bright culottes and prairie boots. It was like Laura Ingalls Wilder time travels to 1992, minus the bonnet.  I shudder to think of the terrible dictatorship of clothing choices I was subject to.  It's fine, I'm over it, whatever.  Love you, Mom.

And then the things we did in high school because we thought we were the bomb diggety.  Like when my sole extracurricular activity was joining the literary magazine because I thought I was basically a modern day Virginia Woolfe. It was called the Erendrake, an old English word for messenger. The fact that I even know that makes me shake my head and laugh at my 16 year old self.  Did I mention that the rest of the Erendrake staff consisted of three of my friends and both of my siblings? To this day, I am quite sure the only reason Eva and Sam joined was because I was their ride home...

Anyway, one winter the deadline was drawing close and we were low on submissions (giant surprise there) so we got it in our heads to advertise on the morning announcements.  Of course I would not allow just a simple statement to be read. No, I had to write a song.  Since it was near Christmas, I rewrote the lyrics of Jingle Bells to fit our needs. And then added about six verses.  And then sang it with my sister and our friend Sarah to the entire school over the intercom.  What I thought was a humorous and beautiful song turned out to be nearly 10 minutes of a really bad rendition of a beloved Christmas carol.  I returned to class expecting to receive a round of applause and instead got a room full of this:
I blame it on the poor sound quality of the intercom system.

(2) The J. Crew Summer 2010 Collection.  Such as This dress  and this cardigan. Clearly this is an attempt to redeem myself of my sordid past with clothing.  Clean lines, classic colors, yes please.  And enough cardigans to send the crotchety old woman in me into fits of delight.  Not that I can afford any of it.

(3) Oranges.  Never really been a huge fan of this fruit until recently.  When I was a child, I had to take medicine mixed with orange juice every day for 6 months or so.  It took me a long time to disassociate the awful taste of that medicine with oranges.  Sense memory is a powerful thing. Anyway, I've recently come to love eating an ice cold orange before bed. It's a rather strange habit and I don't know why I started it but it keeps me from eating junk food at night.  Smarter food choices = win.

(4) SPRING. I love spring. It's quite possibly my favorite season.   I love that it's pleasantly warm without a breath of humidity but still cool in the evenings. I love the heady smell of flowers everywhere. With the exception of the dogwood trees. Why a tree with such beautiful white flowers insists on smelling like rotting fish carcass is beyond me.  I love the days when the wind is a mere breeze that causes the gentle rustling of leaves.  I love the days when the wind is a gale, impatiently jerking my skirt against my legs and then furiously changing direction.  I even love the spontaneous deluge of rain that leaks through my decrepit umbrella and drips into my school bag.  I love the grinning smile of the blue sky after such a long winter. I love the promise of summer that hangs in the air.  And my soul waxes poetic...

(5) Switzerland. No particular reason. Except that they have a strong economy while managing to remain politically neutral in the 21st century.  And their country is almost entirely carbon-neutral. 56% of their energy comes from hydroelectricity and 39% from nuclear power. Yes I got those stats off Wikipedia.  The environmentalist in me weeps with happiness. Why else is Switzerland awesome? Hmm, is it their amazingly efficient health care system? That they have not one, but four national languages? The beautiful landscape? Nope, it's the chocolate. Although those other things don't hurt either. 

(6) The Fruit Game. Try and think of a fruit that describes you. Then think of fruits that describe your friends. That's it. I don't know if you were waiting for a point to this game but there is none. It's just an amusing way to pass the time. And it's interesting what other people think you are. For example, according to Hattie, I am a pomegranate: interesting and surprising. This pleases me.  Other variations of this game are the Animal Game or if you want to be oddly specific, the Baked Goods Game.  FYI, It is the highest compliment if you are considered to be a scone.  I have been kind of obsessed with comparing my friends to fruits lately, entirely in my head of course.  There's no unawkward way to approach the subject. "Lauren, you would make the perfect pineapple."

Ok you delicious kiwis and mangoes.  Time for me to get back to the homework at hand.  Leave me some love.  And tell me what kind of fruit/animal/baked good you think I am.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Life Advice for BABIES

I am pleased to announce I have two new boy cousins, born ten days apart.

Congratulations to Aaron and Jami who brought young Mateo David into the world on Thursday, April 15th!

Congratulations also to Matt and Christina, who brought one Gillis Hamilton into being on Sunday, April 25th!

Welcome, little darlings! In my opinion, you have been born into one of the greatest families on the planet.  We are strange and imperfect creatures, but there is life, laughter, faith, and LOVE immeasurable.  It's enough to put Hallmark out of business.

A few words of advice from your old cousin Ellie:
1) Be kind to your older sister. She can be weird, moody, and really bossy but she loves you just the same. Just try to stay out of her room. And don't you dare read her diary. Unless she starts a blog and then all bets are off.
2) Be patient with your parents.  As soon as you were born, a giant piece of their heart detached itself and will be walking around with you for the rest of your life.  Everything they do is out of love. Plus you are inevitably going to be exactly like them when you grow up.
3) Give your grandparents a call occasionally.  It will make their day. No matter what you do in life, they will think you personally had the moon installed in the sky.
4) Brush your teeth (once they come in). It's ok if you lose the first set but take good care of the second.  We're not sharks though, so it ends there. Unfortunately for you, there are no dentists or orthodontists in this family so dental care is going to be expensive. And braces are just a middle school nightmare you don't want to have.
5) Eat your pork chops. Just do it, or else you'll be sitting alone at the dinner table in the dark. Eventually, they're going to get cold and then they taste even worse. When you're old and on your own, you'll never have to eat another one if you don't want to.
6) Pay attention in Kindergarten. Some, if not all, of life's most important lessons are taught in grade K.  For example, eating paste/play-doh/gum from the floor is never a good plan.  Learning to share your crayons is the first step in the giant ladder of Compromise that you will be climbing your entire life. Also, there is no point in life when biting someone who is making you mad will get you your way.  Treasure these gems.
7) Don't try to rush your childhood.  There is no logical reason for a nine-year old to have a cell phone. Didn't you just learn how to read, like yesterday? Go play with your Legos.
8) Don't be a sheep. What's cool is not always right and what's right is not always cool, blah blah blah. I mean it. Smoking kills, drugs are bad, alcohol is stupid, tattoos are permanent and when someone says "jump", you ask "why?" and not "how high?"
9) Make your decisions for yourself. Be conscious of how your decisions affect others but never make a decision in order to please someone else. Ultimately you are the only one who has to live with that decision.
10) Get your higher education at Purdue University.  It is the greatest university in the world. This is in no way influenced by the fact that the last four years of my life have been amazing due in large part to this particular institution. Yes, this is awkwardly specific. Don't ask questions. (This one is exempt from rule #9, in case you were going to argue.)

Ok, wake up, I'm done lecturing. HEY. I love you, and I haven't even met you yet. I hope you are as kooky and spectacular as the rest of your family.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Angst! Woe! A Typical Day in Middle School

Saturday in the office = perfect time for another of Mama Kat's writing prompts

18. Describe a typical day during your Jr. High years.

Oh, Junior High (or Middle School as I've always called it). If the constant humiliation, awkwardness, and self-loathing of those preteen years are supposed to be character building then I ought to have the character and moral fortitude of the Dali Lama.  No disrespect.
The following is a typical day in the 7th grade:

Morning. Wake up to the sound of Mom's voice. Stare at her balefully.  Take a shower.  Dress myself in one of four woefully unfashionable outfits I seemed to have on constant rotation. Scrape my still-wet hair back into an unbecoming ponytail/bun/bird's nest.  Rearrange the wire sticking out of my braces that is always poking me in the cheek. Get on the bus and ride for an excruciatingly long time.
School. Watch Channel One News in Mr. Marlatt's homeroom, secretly wish I could be Maria Menounos when I grow up. I bet she never had braces. Avoid Ms. Ragsdale's freakish clown makeup eyes in Math class because don'tcallonmeIdidn'tdothehomework.  Get excited for Geography class because I get to stare at Micah's amazingly blue eyes for the whole period. Thank my lucky stars for assigned seating.
Lunch. Sit at the end of the too-cool-for-middle-school kids' table with Stephanie (because she's cousins with one of the cool kids so we have diplomatic immunity). Share a bottle of Strawberry Passion Fruitopia and talk about how much we hate having braces.
Band. Flute, sixth chair. Share a stand with Becky. Pass notes with Mythili C. and Mythili S. (To this day, it still amazes me that I had two Indian friends in middle school, let alone that they were both named Mythili, considering we lived in rural Tennessee.) Try and avoid getting hit by the baton as Mr. Kinney inadvertently chucked it around the room.
More class, mostly forgettable drudgery.   
Last period. Reading, with Ms. Blair.  Get our spelling tests back stained with a pungent yellow smear because as a part-time minister, she kept her "anointing oil" in her school bag for some reason. Try and ignore Weird Ashley, who kept trying to show me the cartoon about anime hamsters she was always working on. Pass notes with Angela and Brianna and make sleepover plans I know Mom won't let me keep.
After school. Get picked up after school by Mom and then go wait in the parking lot of the Elementary school for my siblings.  Claim the front seat with the self-righteousness and entitlement of "permanent dibs" that comes from being the oldest and the attitude of someone who is "so over" elementary school.
Afternoon snack. Spend the rest of the afternoon/evening in my room reading books, writing stories, and sending letters to my BFF Jeni whom my parents cruelly ripped me away from when we moved to Tennessee in the middle of sixth grade. Dramatic, mournful sigh.
Night. Pick at the food on my plate at supper. Ignore family. Go to bed and have the tortured, angst-filled dreams of adolescence.

Whew. Not quite a pleasant trip down memory lane.  Middle school wasn't unbearable, but nothing really sticks out in my mind as being particularly fun or exciting.  I had no close friends or fashion sense and even less self-esteem.  I felt the need to constantly compare myself to my younger sister, my polar opposite.  I was quiet, moody, and continually angry at my parents for making me move away from Kentucky.  Little did I know that was not the last time my parents would uproot our family.  Looking back, I see it was all part of the growing process that made me who I am today.  That said, I still feel the need to apologize to my family for that sullen, metal-mouthed 12 year old.  Mostly because that 12 year old remained sullen until midway through age 15. Fortunately, what you have now is a 22 year old more prone to cheesy grins (thanks braces!) and witty comments.  Not that I'm Suzy Sunshine all the time, but I certainly don't slam as many doors.

I know you're all dying for a picture of what the 7th grade creature looked like but fortunately for me (and your eyes), digital cameras weren't popular until I was in high school.  The photographic evidence of that era is safely ensconced in a few albums on a bookshelf. Crisis averted!

So. What were YOU like in middle school?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Good evening beautiful people! Happy Earth Day! Green it and mean it!

Let's cut to the chase, you know the drill.

(1) Presenting my thesis - Last time I will talk about my thesis, I solemnly promise on the graves of Liberty and Justice Frog, my favorite two of the many goldfish that eventually ended up in our septic tank. More than anything, this was my favorite part of the whole process. The paper is finished, defended, and graded. The final piece was presenting it to the History Department. There was less pressure because there was no grade and no expectations.  History professors, my parents, and friends came and I basically got to talk uninterrupted for fifteen minutes about my project. The questions and comments I received afterward were so satisfying because it meant people were really interested in my work.  It is so exciting to me that something I care about so deeply actually translates to other people.  I feel like I'm on to something big and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

(2) This video.
This is why alcohol is unproductive for our society.

(3) Helpful charts that answer questions you didn't know you had. Is your beard trustworthy?
(Ctrl + Click, to open a new window and click again to make it bigger)

(4) Russian nesting dolls.
It's weird and reeks of 50 year old cat lady, but I'm obsessed with these painted wooden figures. Mostly because they are so fun to photograph.
(5) Get-togethers with friends  - Last weekend = epic. Spent the whole weekend with 25 of my nearest and dearest.  Good fellowship and good food. Nothing like time with friends to relieve stress.  Even though I was Master and Commander of the kitchen, which had the potential to be a disaster.  Fortunately, I had some fail-safe recipes and the excellent help of my dear sister.  We won't win any awards for our cooking but no one complained or died of food poisoning. I'm going to chalk that up as a win.

(6) Chocolate chip banana pancakes - so good. Eva, remind me to high-five you for that genius idea the next time I see you.

(7) Baudev!lle - This is random and probably does not apply to anyone who reads this but I have to talk about because I was so impressed.  We recently got this company approved as a vendor for employee recognition and gifts.  What sold me was the quality of their products, their excellent prices, and the incredibly fast shipping.  For example, on Tuesday afternoon, I ordered 25 green mugs (pictured below, with the other thing I ordered), regular ground shipping, for our leadership reception and they were here by Wednesday morning
  I couldn't believe it. Meanwhile, last month I ordered kitchenware from Anthropologie and it took SIX WEEKS to get here.  Absolutely ridiculous. Anyway, you can order single items from this website too, so you don't necessarily have to be buying in bulk to get a good price or fast shipping. So that's my sales pitch for the day. Even though I'm not being paid by Baudev!lle to advertise. But hey Baudev!lle, I'm totally open to being sponsored.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my other blog. I haven't been graded yet, so I don't know if Professor Browning has seen it.

I love you! and you! and you!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm sorry!

I feel like all I ever do anymore is apologize for missing Thursday. Well here it is again. SORRY!!!
But I have a legitimate reason and hard evidence for my absence. Behold:
I had a class assignment in which I had to write a paper about a Congressional process and use video examples from C-SPAN.  Since it had video, we were instructed to put it in a blog. Rather than bore you with a ridiculous post about special orders, (and expose my professor to unnecessary life stories about me) I thought I would create a separate blog and just share the link in case you need some reading material to lull you to sleep tonight.

So, there it is. Do with it what you will. You don't even have to read it, just post helpful comments such as, "what clarity, what depth of analysis! This paper deserves an A!" Maybe my professor will see them and take it to heart.

Please, Professor Browning?

Here's hoping!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Epic Battle

Today I defended my thesis.

The following video will demonstrate how it went:
Hint: I'm the snake.

Indeed.  National Geographic took some creative liberties as they told my story but what you just witnessed was nearly true to form.  Unlike the unfortunate snake, I managed to escape with my life intact but it was a scholarly assassination like I'd never experienced before. On the plus side, the professors did not take any gleeful victory laps around the room holding the carcass of my life's work.  Also, I managed to receive a passing grade so it was not a complete bloodbath.

Alright, I'm off to nurse my wounds. Have a pleasant evening.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Things I Love Thursday, Birthday Edition

Hello my pretties! So, Tuesday was the big day, in more ways than one. For starters I turned

[insert cheering & confetti]
No big deal.  I remember feeling ridiculously aged at 20 so I'm over it.
Although apparently 22 opens the door for people to start making age jokes.
"Hey oldie! I got you an interview with a nursing home for your birthday!"
My friends are so uncouth...
Anyway, yeah it's technically Saturday Sunday but time is a fluid concept in the blog world. It's Thursday when I say it is! And for the 5-7 minutes you're reading this, it's Thursday. This Thursday, I love the things that made my birthday an awesome day.

(1) TURNING IN MY THESIS. yes. you read that right. I finally finished the biggest assignment I have ever undertaken. Ever. FIFTY PAGES. (ok it was like 46, but the bibliography made it 50. stop looking at me with those disapproving eyes.) I stayed up the whole night previous to edit, edit, edit! Went to class, turned it in, and then took a four-hour nap.

 ok that's technically the last draft but I turned in the final copy

I noticed as I was handing it in that I managed to misspell a word on the title page, but I'm taking that as a hint to never stay up all night again. Lesson learned! I defend it on Tuesday and then....we wait.

(2) Skyping with family. Thank you Skype. Because of you, I got to open my presents in front of my family and it was like they were all crowded into my tiny room with me and not hundreds of miles away. awwww.

(3) O'Charleys + Hattie & Ramsey. First, amazing food at that restaurant. Second, oh the times with these two. They are the only people I repeatedly sit in a restaurant for three hours with and not notice the time going by. Oh the stories!! And then they made me a bundt cake. A PURPLE BUNDT CAKE.  (the one pictured above with the awesome sparkly #2 candles) It was so warm and delicious. I almost died of happiness.

(4) Turning in my thesis. Oh, did I say that already?

(5) The weather. Pleasantly warm and sunny. I love having my birthday in spring! Well, this year I did. Two years ago, I distinctly remember snow on the ground...

(6) Presents. There, I said it. I'm not going to pretend it was all self-fulfillment and immaterial things that made me happy on my birthday. I am human, after all.  Everyone loves presents. They included, but were not limited to:
-a GPS. I no longer have an excuse for ever getting lost and interrupting Dad in an important business meeting to ask for directions.  Duly noted, Dad.
-chocolates from Switzerland (side note: 83% dark chocolate is serious business. Apparently it has enough caffeine in it to kill a small animal. I didn't die, but my eyeballs were vibrating all night.)
-a mini tripod for my Flip cam
-a Polaroid camera (!!!!!!!) Saddest of sadness, they don't make film for this particular camera anymore. But you can bet it will be displayed with my camera collection in my room/future lodgings. Special thanks to Matt!

-some sweet books, including a cupcake recipe book & a book of Chagall Bible illustrations

-a box of the best/most useless items in the world that made me laugh for a long time. Included such items as Littlest Pet Shop toys and WWE Uno Cards

Of course there were others. Thank you to EVERYONE who wrote/called/texted and wished me well. It's nice to know people think fondly of me on occasion.
[insert warm fuzzy feelings]

Here's to a year of big decisions, blogging, and bad good hair days. Love to all you invisible, wondrous beings who are reading this. And those who aren't.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gravity is a Pack Rat

Occasionally I do a deep clean of my living space, really scrub out the corners.  It's hard work but the  results make it worthwhile.  It also makes me think about other things that need cleaning.  So I cleared out my hard drive and found this in a corner.  Not to make you paranoid, but check this out: (Click to make it larger)

It's something we don't think about but pollution is a problem in space too. What can you do with defunct satellites? Nothing. They're stuck in Earth's orbit. Thanks gravity!

So HEY. The next time I catch you throwing your trash into the sky....
Respect the planet. AND the atmosphere.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Things I Love Th-zzzzzzz

I am so tired I don't even know how to start this blog post. Basically, I am writing to tell you that I won't be writing today. ....what?

Yeah I don't know either.

Anyway I have a super sweet birthday post half written but I'm going to give it the proper attention it deserves and finish it when I've had more sleep.  Which is not tonight.

I'm sorry this is the lamest post on the planet. But just for reading, here is a treat.
I present to you....Procrastination.

Procrastination from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

...and then I discovered FIRE!

Obviously, Things I Love Thursday did not happen. Indeed, this week contained a Thursday.  And of course, there were things I loved. Like successfully leaving my room with clothes on right-side out for five straight days. And professors who cancel class for the rest of the week.  And managing to get out of bed in the morning. I know your world came crashing down on Thursday when you checked and nothing was here. Well guess what?


Nope, nope, I take that back. That was uncouth and uncalled for. I apologize, I left my social graces somewhere back in last Monday.  It all comes down to one thing:
Not getting enough sleep.
You thought I was going to say my thesis, didn't you. Well I didn't.

Seriously, I have only been averaging 3.5 hours every night for the last week.
Well ok, it IS because of my thesis.

If cameras followed me around 24/7 I feel as though my words and actions this week would have proven to be comedy gold.  I don't know how people survive who get <6 hours of sleep on a regular basis. 

It made me think, though.  It's amazing how a lack of just one thing can reduce us to animal-like behavior. I remember how to eat and walk and talk (even that was a stretch) but aside from basic motor functions, I am in a state of Neanderthal.  As I write this, I am sitting on the floor in a hair shirt, mindlessly scratching my backside and watching a fly buzz around the room.


But seriously.  The power of reason and the ability to control my emotions are severely handicapped. Example time.

Scenario 1: A harsh buzzing noise jars me out of a deep sleep. I blink repeatedly. Still buzzing. I notice the orange thing lighting up on my makeshift bed stand. I pick it up and smack its face. Buzzing stops = yay. This happens a couple more times.  After awhile, I notice there are numbers that say 8:17. I stare at it: "But what does it meeeeeean.....?" I lay back down and think about it. Twenty minutes later, I have finally connected all the dots to realize that it was the alarm clock on my phone and I have to be upright, dressed, and in class in 23 minutes. I would like to point out that I set my alarm for 8:00, but it took me thirty-seven minutes to figure out what was happening.

Usually my brain is like a slightly used Mac: moderately fast start up and then snappy response time for the rest of the day.  In this case, my brain was my family's old Gateway PC running Windows '95: a lot of cranking and rumbling but nothing really happening for an obscenely long time. I feel like I have been going through the week with a pixelated hourglass over my head.

Ellie Loading. Please wait.

Scenario 2: Having put aside all regular weekly activities to write, I waited until I was down to my absolutely last piece of clothing that was publically acceptable to wear before doing laundry.  Even so, some would say I crossed the line. Yes Mom, I did wear that maroon RIT sweatshirt from the 80s. Yes, it still has a massive hole in the armpit.  And yes, I feel the sting of your disapproval from 120 miles away.

Anyway, the story. I grabbed the detergent and took enough clothes to get me through another week down to the laundry room. There are approximately 125 people that live in my building. We only have three washers and four dryers at our disposal.  Poor planning, Mr. Facilities Director, poor planning.
So as usual, all machines are in use. By the same person. Fortunately there are only 3 minutes left on all of the washers. Sweet, I can get my stuff in soon. But of course not.  The person came back with a full hamper.
Person: "Ohhhh were you wanting to use the washers?"
Pompous Creature in my head: "No, sometimes  I come down here with a basket of clean clothes and silently mock people who are doing their laundry."
Out loud: "....yes."
Person: "ohhh...this is awkward...I still have three loads left....I'm going to keep using the washers."
Pompous Creature in my head: "for real? you already have three loads in the washer and four in the dryer!!! girl please! are you doing laundry for yourself or the Duggar family? "
Out loud: "Well can I at least use one of the machines?"
Person: "ohhh"
Pompous Creature in my head: "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? DO YOU?!?"
Out loud: "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? DO YOU?!?"
Apparently when I am angry, I am a man-lady in a business suit. And the other person was actually a girl. Whatever, my clip art options are limited.

And then I stomped out. Usually the biting, snarky comments don't make it past the gate but friends, Romans, and fellow countrymen, consider the gate broken. What surprised me most was how quickly I got angry.  It was borderline rage.  I don't do 'rage'. Especially not over something as silly as someone being inconsiderate in the laundry room. And I definitely do not play the "I'm more important that you" card. Like ever. Even though the Pompous Creature in my head constantly revels in the glory of being both the Hall Governor and the Student Office Staff Supervisor.  I am fully aware that both titles mean nothing outside of my residence hall. Which is why don't walk around wearing a crown and an attitude.
I believe these two scenarios have effectively illustrated the extent of my tiredness.  Which begs the question, what in the world am I doing blogging at 2 in the morning?  Well, I'm actually at work right now, keeping the chair warm and the lights on til 7:30 a.m. Yay third shift!! Clearly, being Student Office Staff Supervisor is rife with perks.

And so I blog. Well, you're welcome for the update. This cavewoman must go pour the rest of her elegant prose into a certain unfinished thesis.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I am able to write so coherently through my fatigue, it is a delicate mix of 65% extensive practice from nearly four years of college, 20% unsafe amounts of caffeine, 10% pure talent, and 5% Wheat Thins.  But I am a trained professional so kids, don't try this at home.

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