Under Pressure

Well, it’s been a long time.

As to be expected, life started interfering with this little ol’ blog around a year ago. And when I say life, I mean the sheer amount of grading I was dealing with on a daily basis. And while I still have a whole lot of grading to deal with on a daily basis, I have managed to discover a slightly better work-life balance over the past year. I’ve figured out how to make time to read (for pleasure), to see friends on a regular basis, and to basically take some “me” time. (And, of course, I continue to have the time to watch the 130454234 shows I’m usually watching on a regular basis, which I always made time for. Priorities, y’all.)

Anyway, to get to the point, I’ve been feeling the urge to write lately. Ever since getting my MFA two years ago, this urge comes and goes in waves. Not being “required” to write for workshops anymore is a double-edged sword: on one hand, I don’t have to pressure myself to finish a story in time for others to read it. And then, on the other hand, I don’t have the pressure of needing to finish a story in time for others to read it…in other words, I have discovered that I seem to operate well under pressure. (Cue Queen.) This doesn’t come as too much of a shock, as most everything else in life that I consider myself successful in involves pressure in some way. I grade on a schedule because my students need their papers back. I run on a weekly basis in order to do well in whatever race I’ve signed myself up for (side note: I’ve noticed that running long races is probably the craziest thing I do). I even turned re-watching “Gilmore Girls” for the 1234983520954 time into a thing of pressure–I pushed myself to re-watch the whole series before attending the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest and by golly, I did it.

Anyway, the point of this post is to be open about my writing and how I find myself yearning to write. I find myself still creating characters and stories and listening to conversations around me for inspiration. However, when I sit down to actually put these ideas on paper (or rather, computer), I face a brick wall. The process breaks down. I don’t feel a sense of pressure; therefore, it becomes easy to continually put off something that is usually such a large part of my identity.

Last Fall, I had pretty much decided that my blogging days were over. Blogging was taking up a chunk of my time and not that many people were reading it, so what was the point? But now, as I harness this desire to write, I see that readership and receiving a million comments is not the point, especially when you are blogging because you love to write. So I’m hoping if I return to blogging, I’ll not only be writing, but perhaps find that sense of pressure that is apparently a necessary part of my writing process.
Plus, at least I’ll be writing in some capacity .

 

 

Blogging vs. Real Life: Sometimes Real Life Wins

Things have been busy around here! Between wrapping up the last two weeks of teaching the 6-week summer program, day trips and weekend activities, and a girls’ trip to Nashville, I got a little behind on my blog. I really try to stay on top of the posts, but sometimes real life gets in the way, whether it’s in the form of a grading marathon, or a relaxing afternoon at a winery, or endless lesson planning. All three, plus many more, present good reasons to put the little ol’ blog on the back burner until more time opens up. Don’t fret: next week I will return with the next coffee shop post on Slipstream near Logan Circle. But this week, I am planning and gathering my materials for the Fall semester, which starts on the 31st.

The whole planning process takes a lot more time than expected. There are so many layers. First, you have to decide what’s due when. Then what reading to do on certain days. Then what overarching activities and objectives you want to accomplish. Then what you will actually do to accomplish those activities and objectives. It’s borderline overwhelming. In many respects, it feels exactly like this:

635191

At the same time, I love organizational tasks, so I don’t really mind.

With summer drawing to a close, I’m sad about the impending coldness and weekends full of grading, but glad that I was able to make the most of my summer over the past few weeks. Also, there are fall leaves already. WTF?!?!

why-the-face-gif

Having Rahul here PERMANENTLY is amazing, because we not only get to see each other every day, but we can enjoy our weekends together. We’ve explored our city a bit more, drunk wine and “listened” to a 90s cover band with friends (the band was far away and mostly illegible), visited the beach for our engagiversary, celebrated multiple friends moving away (with joyfulness and sadness), saw “The Book of Mormon” at the Kennedy Center (so funny!), and much more. In doing so, I’ve marked off a few things from my DC area to-do list, which included going to the beach in Maryland, going wine tasting in Virginia, and seeing as many plays as possible at The Kennedy Center.

IMG_3053

IMG_3092

I also enjoyed a fabulous weekend with some of my dearest friends in Nashville. The weekend officially kicked off our wedding countdown–less than 100 days to go! It was amazing to spend some quality time with my best gals, while also dancing it up all over Nashville. Country music everywhere! We stayed in a house for the weekend, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting the Nashville area. We were in East Nashville, which is an easy and cheap Uber ride to the city. Plus, we had space to spread out and hang during downtime.

IMG_3134 IMG_3135

 

Now that I’ve entertained you with details about my fabulous life, I promise to return to my regularly scheduled programming next week.

 

my head is fuzzy and there are kleenexes everywhere

The title of this post perfectly captures the state of my current self, apartment, car, and everything in between.

At some point last week, Katherine caught something sicky. Then at some point last week, this sicky thing progressed slowly to what was most likely a cold. Katherine self-medicated, watched hours of “Friends,” and basically did nothing in an effort to recover. She finally broke down last Thursday and went to the urgent care, where the doctor very annoyingly only prescribed sudafed and Robitussin, because the next morning she woke up with an even worse pain: A SINUS INFECTION.

This sinus infection has many side effects, which include: general tiredness, attachment to comfy surfaces, inability to sleep from coughing, Netflix binging, speaking in the 3rd person about oneself, general complaining and whiny noises, and just downright discomfort.

I’ve had what I thought were sinus infections before, but I was wrong. This pain is TERRIBLE and if I have ever experienced it before, I definitely blocked it from my memory because it was not a pain I wanted to hold on to. Luckily, I visited a much better doctor this past Saturday who gave me the medicine I need, but my head still feels like it’s been taken hostage. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t feel my teeth, I can’t organize the syllabus for my upcoming classes without forgetting everything I’ve ever known about teaching composition (because it all gets lost in the fuzzy brain), and there are literally kleenexes everywhere. Not symbolically. Literally. It’s like that scene in You’ve Got Mail where Meg Ryan has kleenexes all over her apartment, except without the Tom Hanks part.

Writing this post has been a nice distraction from the fact that I can’t focus on preparing my class syllabi without the head fuzziness kicking in. It’s a good thing the sickness is happening now, otherwise my poor students would have to suffer through confused ramblings. However, if I could be as funny as Leslie Knope when she’s sick and talking, I would be okay with that.

 

Instagramming India

Last time I was in India, I failed to update my blog on a regular basis with updates and pictures about our adventures. I promised this time that I would be better about updating and, well, you know how those … Continue reading

Swanson’s Got Swagger the Size of Big Ben Clock

This past Thursday, I was able to spend ten glorious hours in good ol’ London town. My last flight to India was direct, but this one had a layover in London. And I have to say, I give a big … Continue reading

#lastminutenycadventure

I love living near D.C. In fact, when I found out I was going to be going to school right outside of D.C., I told people I was moving to D.C. instead of Maryland because 1) it’s more recognizable and … Continue reading

India, Here I Come!

The countdown is on. I leave for India in 15 days. Actually, the countdown has been on for quite a while, I just haven’t gotten around to sitting down and writing this post. I meant to do it a month … Continue reading

Eating Whatever the Hell I Want: Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Recap

Gathering at the starting/finishing line, the Washington Monument.

Gathering at the starting/finishing line, the Washington Monument.

I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on Sunday, and since then my biggest question has been how long can I use that as an excuse to eat whatever the hell I want? Pre-race pizza? Yum. Post race muffins? Necessary. Next day spaghetti? Sure. Next next day Indian food for lunch? Delicious. Next next day ice cream? Okay, now it’s getting a little out of hand.
To be fair, the ice cream was from Ben & Jerry’s free scoop day. So I feel like that shouldn’t even really count.

Rachel and I looking confident before the race started. Post race: confidence still there??

Rachel and I looking confident before the race started. Post race: confidence still there??

The race itself wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was going to be. In fact, it was actually great—although my face in some of the official race photos will try to tell you a different story. After waiting in the longest bathroom line ever—don’t think I’ve ever waited so long to use a Porta Potty—Rachel and I were able to start the race in the same corral. We were in the 10:30-minute mile one, which meant we passed the elite runners looking ever-so-cool at around their mile five right after we started. A fellow green-miler yelled, “whoo hoo fast runners!” to which her friend told her to stop focusing on the real runners and on her own running.

Love the costumes.

Love the costumes.

That was probably one of the best parts of the race, and what made it feel like not 10 miles. Since I was running with about 15,000 of my closest friends, there were always people around me. That’s a huge motivating factor. It’s even more motivating when you have fun things to look at, like the guy dressed up as a flower, or the America-themed couple. This was my first large race, and I was honestly expecting a madhouse. And while there were people EVERYWHERE—someone needs to teach those tourists to cross the road with conviction. If you’re going to cross the road with hundreds of runners coming toward you at a much faster pace, commit to it. Don’t stop and look at us—it was a good kind of crowd, as the crowd was a big reason to keep moving forward. That and the awesome signs passed along the way, two of my favorites being “This is the worst parade ever” and “Run like Phoebe!” Oh, and I definitely couldn’t have done miles 6-8 without Rachel running beside me, as my legs were absolutely ready to quit. But that makes sense when the longest I ran in training was six miles. Like a dummy.

Run run run! Run like walkers are out to get you!

Run run run! Run like walkers are out to get you!

This is my longest race since my half marathon two years ago, which was a much different scene. The night after the race (like we’re talking 8 hours later), I was helping myself to a generous serving of cake at an event I attended with my parents when a woman said, “Slow down, remember it was only 13 miles.” Yeah, it was ONLY 13 miles. I feel like that equals out to at least several pieces of cake.

I’m going to walk home today from the metro instead of using the bus, as a half-assed attempt at equaling out the ice cream consumption. But really, I can’t help but still operate under the fact that yeah, I ran 10 miles on Sunday. ONLY ten. So pass the snacks.

What Happens When You Lose Your Blog Password: A Study in Laziness

So there was a time when I was really good about posting on my blog on a regular basis. I made blog writing and posting part of my weekly routine–treating it just like a homework assignment–and was very religious in ensuring I always had something fresh for my readers.

Ha! That time has passed.

Over the past few months, there have been many different reasons for why I’ve found it hard to keep my blog updated. At first, it was adjusting to a new schedule and a new school year. And then it was because I ran out of things to write about and didn’t want to share my dumb life with strangers. (disclaimer: I don’t actually think my life is dumb.) And lately? Well, to be honest, I forgot my password and, after changing my password a handful of times because I kept forgetting it, and kept forgetting where I wrote it down, I just gave up. It would have been easy to change the password again, but I wasn’t feeling it.

To sum up: I’M LAZY.

But as the semester draws to a close, I finally decided to embark on the dreadful task of changing the password and here we all are. It’s springtime outside (and actually feels like it today) and with that comes new possibilities.
I could write inspirational cards, don’t ya think?

Exciting things that have happened in my (dumb-not-so-dumb) life lately:

The finished quilt top. Next step: the actual quilting.

The finished quilt top. Next step: the actual quilting.

1. I’m making a quilt and also going to finish a quilt my grandmother started decades ago and never finished. My amazing and talented friend Anna has been the inspiration behind this. If you are a quilter yourself, please check out her blog!

2. I’m staying for a third year to complete my thesis for my MFA degree. My thesis currently looks like this: ASDMKLASDJLWEJKWJK INSERT AMAZING SMART WONDERFUL BRILLIANT AWARD WINNING WORDS HERE ADJKASLDRJWELRKJQWELRKQW.

Happy!

Happy!

3. I saw Rahul over Spring Break! I also got to see my family, pets, best friends, Sonic, favorite sushi and Mexican restaurants.

4. A few friends and I pulled a pretty epic April Fool’s Day by putting googly eyes on EVERYTHING in their office.

5. Kid President is from Tennessee. Not just Tennessee, but like 20-minutes-from-where-I’m-from in Tennessee. Okay, this isn’t MY life, but it still feels pretty important.

6. The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler is in two days. The longest I’ve run in preperation for it? Six miles. Here’s hoping for a miracle….

7. There may or may not be a rat infestation under the PSK house.

And three of the more interesting things I’ve done lately….

The view from the Exec Building. Oh hey, Obama!

The view from the Exec Building. Oh hey, Obama!

8. Got to go INSIDE THE EISENHOWER EXECUTIVE BUILDING. Felt like a legit bad ass and also like Leslie Knope, except Joe Biden wasn’t there.

9. Attended an event about the documentary “No Job for a Woman: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII” at which SOLEDAD O’BRIEN was the panel moderator. And I’ll tell you something: she is SKINNYTINYSKINNY in real life!

Hey there Soledad O'Brien, Michele Midori Fillion, Leisa Meyer, Missy Ryan, Ann Rondeau, and Kristen Rouse. You are all awesome and I will probably never be as awesome as you are. K bye.

Hey there Soledad O’Brien, Michele Midori Fillion, Leisa Meyer, Missy Ryan, Ann Rondeau, and Kristen Rouse. You are all awesome and I will probably never be as awesome as you are. K bye.

10. Attended the 42nd Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, held every year by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Who was the 42nd lecturer? Just this dude, Martin Scorsese. NO BIG DEAL.

My new BFF. Just kidding. I didn't get close enough to make that connection happen. NEXT TIME.

My new BFF. Just kidding. I didn’t get close enough to make that connection happen. NEXT TIME.

I will try to do better to keep this guy updated as the semester ends. But I can’t make any promises….

Gettin’ Crafty With It

I’m not the most artistic person in the world. As of late, I have begun painting my nails with some interesting and fun designs, but I don’t really think that counts. Two Christmases ago, I painted a pretty spectacular (as in my definition of spectacular) painting of a tree at an Art by the Glazz class. And I think that I have put together some pretty crafty gifts for Rahul, but for confirmation on that, you’ll have to talk to him.

So when my friend Anna offered to teach my other friend Rachel and I how to quilt, we took to the idea quickly. Anna taught herself how to quilt over a year ago, and now makes an impressive amount of quilts, pillows, gifts, and more. The girl is an impressive machine when it comes to quilting, and makes some really beautiful stuff. So who better to learn a craft from than from someone who knows it backwards and forwards, and won’t get frustrated when you accidentally de-thread her sewing machine a thousand times. I’m not saying that was me, but….

Anna, Rachel, and I before participating in a Case Study Competition last week.

Anna, Rachel, and I before participating in a Case Study Competition last week.

The trip to the fabric store was completely overwhelming, but we left with some beautiful fabrics for our quilted pillows, which was our first undertaking. Rachel and I picked some pretty complicated patterns for our pillows–well, complicated for first-time quilters–so the process is still in the making. We had to make 64 half-square triangles for our pillows, which involved a lot of cutting, pressing, and matching. But, even though the process is long, being able to witness a creation come together–and know that you’re the one making it–is an experience unlike any other. Take that, store-bought pillows! You have a new competitor in town.

My first fabric purchase!

My first fabric purchase!

The chevron design I am using for my own pillow.

The chevron design I am using for my own pillow.

My fabrics cut into squares!! The process has begun!

My fabrics cut into squares!! The process has begun!

Meet Jane, Anna's sewing machine!

Meet Jane, Anna’s sewing machine!

After sewing a color piece to a plain piece, the pressing comes next!

After sewing a color piece to a plain piece, the pressing comes next!

Cutting the pieces into smaller sizes.

Cutting the pieces into smaller sizes.

And voila, the pattern begins to take shape!

And voila, the pattern begins to take shape!

More of the pattern.

More of the pattern.

The patterned rows sewed together!

The patterned rows sewn together!

Our next project, after the pillows are completed, is the Giant Star quilt. Check out Anna’s blog for this pattern, as well as her wealth of other pictures and design tips. She is definitely the expert here! I’m excited to take on this next step in the learning process, and have the fabric ready to go. Picking eight fat quarters from this selection for the quilt is not going to be easy….

Fabrics galore.

My latest fabrics purchase. So pretty!

My latest fabric purchases. So pretty!

Fabrics galore!

Quilting fun.

Quilting fun.