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:

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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?!?!

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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.

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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.

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

 

The Comeback Kid

It’s my one year blogiversary…of not blogging.

I’ve been thinking of starting my blog up for a while now, and when I saw that the last post was June 27, 2013, I decided to make it a clean year in between posts. That way it would seem like a more momentous celebration of something when really it’s just me starting back up my personal blog.

There was a time when I was very dedicated to my blogging and set aside time every week to writing entries. And even though I really wanted to blog over this past year, I dedicated any writing time I had to writing something much more important: my MFA thesis.

I entered into my third and final year of my MFA last fall, also known as the THESIS YEAR. I had to complete my thesis no matter what. There was a time toward the end (somewhere in March) where I really wanted to jump ship and was having dreams about writing ANYTHING other than my thesis. Some authors that visited our MFA program talked about how they take breaks when working on longer projects to write short stories and I thought HOW LUXURIOUS YOUR LIFE IS but stop rubbing it in my face that you have all this free time to write whatever the hell you want. And then I also reminded myself that they are published authors with nothing else to do than write, where as I am (or at least was at the time) a 5th year grad student, a teacher, a fraternity House mom, a student, and a whole host of other identifiers. The writer part of me was sharing time with a 1,000 other things and it was the least I could do to finish my thesis without wanting to plan some horrible death for all my characters and call it a day.

Okay, so I’m being a little bit dramatic. But my time and thoughts were consumed with writing a novel-length piece that I actually love very dearly and have been working on for over a year now. When I turned in the for real-real copy, I ate a lot of sushi, drank a lot of wine, and went to sleep early. In other words I:parks-and-rec-treat-yo-selfI also started teaching at a local community college, continued to work as a house mom for my dear fraternity boys, and took my LAST CLASSES EVER as a graduate student.
People keep saying “don’t say you’re done with school, you never know,” but I do know. I. AM. DONE. (a sentence which would surely horrify my AP English teacher, who reminded us countless times—when we said “done!” at the end of a practice test—that we are not done, we are finished. Potatoes in the oven are done, students are finished.)

So now that my MFA program is completed, and summer is upon us, I have a little more time on my hands. Some exciting changes are upcoming: even though I am really sad about having to move out of the fraternity house and leave my boys behind, I am really excited to no longer be a student/house mom/teacher but just be a TEACHER. Part of the reason I decided to get my MFA was so I could teach, and I am excited to embark on this next part of my life as I leave the student identifier behind and can focus solely on teaching (and writing, of course). While I obviously loved being a House Mom, and a student (most of the time), I am REALLY really looking forward to not splitting my time so much. It’s exhausting.

Many exciting things have happened over the past year: other than finishing my MFA program, I saw Rahul many, many times, reconnected with some old and dear friends, spent quality time with family, developed a J.Crew addiction, applied for a 1,000 jobs, hung out at the White House, ran two long races, attended the weddings of two close friends, attended the graduations of my sister and my oldest best friend, spent weekends in New Orleans and Minnesota, read much YA fiction, and went apartment hunting with my mom and sister after deciding to stay in the DC area for at least another year. That’s right, D.C.! You’re not rid of me just yet!

2014 has shaped up to be a pretty awesome year so far, and I’m excited about the months to come, which you can read about here. I know you’ve been missing my random ramblings on movies, coffee shops, and life in general, and I’ve missed taking time every week to jot down the goings on and other nonsense. So don’t fret, dear readers: Wordifications is officially making a comeback.
First official random rambling, as it has to do with MFA programs: are we really supposed to believe that Hannah Horvath was accepted into the IOWA WRITER’S WORKSHOP!?!? I know this is old news, but give me a break. Let’s just hope if she actually attends the program it will make her less insufferable rather than more. 

 

 

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.

The countdown begins….

I’ve made some changes to my blog lately, one of which is the “Milestone” widget. You’ll notice it at the bottom of the page. When I first saw this widget, I immediately liked it, but couldn’t think of any use for it.

But wait! I entered the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in D.C. in December. And made it through the lottery. So now I have this race in a little over 2 months that I have to prepare for. I’ve run one half-marathon before, but that was two years ago and if someone asked me to just up and run 10 miles tomorrow I would throw up at some point during the run.
When my friend Rachel, who’s also doing the race, saw my widget, she sent me a text that said “Terrifying. Wanna run Saturday?” So maybe the little countdown widget will cast some magical spell over us that makes us constantly motivated to train.

That being said, I’ve created a detailed (and stolen from Hal Higdon) 10-week training schedule to get me up to speed. It starts off pretty easy (2 mile runs), so it was not hard to commit myself to it. Plus, I wrote it in my planner so now I have to do it.

I’m not going to obnoxiously post about my progress or shove it in your face that I’m training for something by posting pictures of my running shoes clad feet with a tag like “killing it.” Instead, I’ll post one annoying picture here of my now-I-have-to-do-it-because-it’s-in-my-planner race prep. And I’ll get excited as the countdown grows smaller and closer to the date.

This makes it real....

This makes it real….

Also, please take some time to check out what I’ve changed on the blog!