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.

 

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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.

Why No One in My House is Sleeping

First of all, I realize that many of you will not be able to sympathize with what I’m about to write. Those of you that live in big cities or other development areas where the rude alarm clock symphony, consisting of jack hammers and giant dirt claws, happens on the regular will probably just roll your eyes at this. But I gotta say it: I can’t take it anymore!

A few weeks ago, we started noticing a few strange things outside our house. First, part of our parking spots disappeared, replaced by a huge hole in the ground. Then, suddenly, there was a twin hole across the way in our FRONT YARD, destroying the flower garden and sidewalk. The hole was bad enough, but what made it worse was the fact no one was warned before the hole appeared. Somewhere along the way, we discovered they were looking for a steam leak that was affecting a plant behind the row. This came as no surprise—for a while now, steam has been blowing out from the grates and sometimes directly from the ground itself.

The basketball court disappeared!

The basketball court disappeared!

Then, the big news came: the steam leak had been discovered, and it was right underneath our basketball court. The positive news is that we’re getting a new top for the basketball court. The negative news is that, for about three weeks now, my annoying as hell phone alarm has been replaced by the annoying as hell jack hammer outside. And it’s always the jack hammer first thing in the morning. Why do they have to start with the loudest thing first?

Currently the noise is one comparable to a helicopter flying low to the ground. Which, of course, reminds me of the gross helicopter scene in 28 Weeks Later. The reference is outdated, but I only saw the movie for the first time last night and, let me tell you, if I had a choice, I choose “The Walking Dead” zombies over the ones in 28 WL. Those zombies can run and know how to beat people! No thank you.

Which also reminds me, check out “The Walking Dead” Season 3 Recapped in Memes. Hilarious. Also, THAT reminds me of my biggest question about the show: why do they not just climb trees to escape the zombies!???! My friend Alex says this is not a valid theory, but I refuse to believe that not one person in that group knows how to climb a tree. I mean, are you trying to tell me Merle doesn’t know how to climb a tree???

But back to my main point. No one in my house is sleeping beyond 7 a.m. And it’s making us all look like zombies around midday from lack of sleep.

(Like how I brought that back around?)

Freakin’ Marx

After being in some sort of college for nearly 8 years, and studying English in some way for even longer, I’ve finally realized: Marx just will not leave a girl alone.

I took Lit Crit as a college freshman. When I was a freshman I was more concerned about who I would invite to my sorority’s next date party than learning about a bunch of old theorists. As an English major, I’ve always leaned in the creative direction. The word “theory” alone makes me gag and the idea of being an expert for an ENTIRE LITERARY PERIOD absolutely terrifies me. I mean, seriously? A lot of books exist in the world. I’d rather just read the interesting ones, thanks.

It wasn’t until my MFA program that I questioned my motives for becoming a writer. Many of my fellow writers seem to have specific reasons for why they write. Even if they’ve been writing since childhood, like me, they also seemed to have a specific reason for why they continued to write as adults, backed up with knowledge on their favorite authors and such. Me? I have my favorite authors and I like words, but honestly, I continued writing because I enjoyed it. I never worried about that reasoning until I realized that, no matter what, I’m not going to be able to shake these theorists that I’ve consistently learned about and also consistently forgotten about. And Marx just keeps on coming back around again. Does forgetting about him make me a bad writer?

Okay, so my logic is not super solid right now. It’s the end of the school year. I just wrote a 15 page paper on Natasha Tretheway’s Beyond Katrina: A Mediation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where I used the word “coast” 47 times, “Tretheway” 62 times, and “Mississippi” 35 times. My brain is tired. And now it’s being invaded with these “don’t screw around on your Winter break” thoughts to which I just want to respond “Shut up! I’m gonna go watch ’30 Rock’ now.”

I am determined to make my Winter break successful. I got really good at writing everyday at the beginning of this month, only breaking the habit because of the Tretheway paper. Now I have to decide what books to read, and if they should be those “these will make you a better writer” book or “I want to read Life of Pi and Les Miserables because the movie previews look awesome and, let’s face it, I should have read them a long time ago.”

But honestly, MARX. Freakin Marx. He’s like the rude party guest that keeps showing back up, just when you think you’ve gotten rid of him…. We discussed him in class last night and I had honestly forgotten about the lecture over him that we had three weeks prior. That’s how much I’m ready to get rid of that dude.

I’ve Never Been to a Hurricane Before

Doesn’t look too bad now, but has been raining all day long….that person driving is a daredevil! Even though that was me and Anna a few hours earlier….

Even though I experienced Hurricane Irene last year, I still wanted to use this Facebook status of my friend Airek to describe what’s currently going on. Plus Airek—the inventor of the name of this very blog—just says the funniest things.

Even though I lived in MD during Irene last year, Sandy already feels totally different. In other words, she is making her presence known. It’s been raining all day, the wind has picked up, and the university has closed for Monday and Tuesday, as well as much of D.C.

Probably can’t tell here either, but this tree is a moving and a swaying in the wind.

The hurricane preparations/frantic behaviors of others/crazy weather of course reminds me of growing up in a state inclined toward tornadoes. However, with tornadoes, the bad weather is often immediate, allowing for little time to prepare. That being said, I failed my first test of hurricane preparedness. I was able to get gas before the prices rose, but not water bottles as they were completely out at the grocery store. I’m stocked up on food and made sure all the windows I have access to are closed in the house and that the boys have food as well. The chances we’ll lose power are slim to none (knock on wood) as our power lines are underground and separate from the rest of the town, so hopefully it stays that way because I will HAVE no idea what to do if the power actually does go out.

My plants ain’t getting no sun today.

So, for now, all I’m left to do is just enjoy the free time off school. Which I’ll probably use to catch up on school work. I’m so boring. I’m also counting on watching SEVERAL movies and TV shows with Rahul, who gets to enjoy the hurricane vicariously through me.

 

What’s Happened in My Life Lately

So I haven’t posted on my blog in a looooong time. In 23 days, to be exact. It’s something I was aware of, but didn’t really think about too much until my friend Mary Beth texted “I miss your blog updates” and when I responded “I haven’t had anything to write about lately : (“ she promised that we would remedy that. So in an effort to pick my tired writing paws off the ground and update this dear old web site, I’m going to go with one of my good ol’ standbys: listing.

What’s Happened in My Life Lately:

(in the order that they occurred to me)

1. I was chosen as the “tech person” for one of my classes. This only happened because I’ve taken the professor before, not because I’m good at technology. Because I’m not. But it turns out figuring out a few buttons to turn on a projector and stuff is not so bad after all.

2. Wrote a story for which I’ve had the idea for close to a year. The story of course was not the best thing I’ve ever written, but I was just happy to finally get it down on page.

3. Celebrated my two-year anniversary with Rahul. I still have one more gift for you, mister!!

What a beautiful bride!

4. Went to one of my best friend’s wedding in Minnesota! Ashley & Josh are SO perfect for each other and it was such a lovely wedding. Their wedding was outside and Minnesota is gorgeous. Josh nearly made us all cry with his vows and I got really good at pinning those boutonnière things.  Plus, it was great to see Ashley, who I hadn’t seen in about three years! WAY too long!

5. Explored D.C.’s nightlife a little more. Even though I miss my coffee shop days (haven’t been able to find a good day!), I’ve enjoyed exploring the city a little more.

6. Read a Philip Roth book (The Human Stain) that I actually DIDN’T hate.

7. Started back on all our TV shows with Rahul. We have quite a long list to get through every week, and I love it!! I watch WAY more TV shows than I read books. Oops.

My precious parents! Even though Dad is slightly upset still about the UGA loss to South Carolina….

8. Reorganized my apartment with my parents. Changes include: more shelves, more scarves racks, coat hangers, a new coffee table, new artwork, etc. The extra shelves were MUCH NEEDED as I have little to no space for storage. It was actually frightening when we moved my couch and noticed how much crap I’ve stuffed under there over the past year.

9. Had a fun visit with my parents, who went segwaying while I had to go to class. Not fair! We also had a delicious dinner at Founding Farmers and went to church at the National Cathedral!

For one night, all four of us were in the same place, so what did we do? Surprised Molly at the airport with fake mustaches to match her cat whiskers tattoo, of course!

Family photo!

Both of us are wearing her shirts. That’s what sisters are for, right? To borrow clothes?

10. Also had a fun visit with my sister. We explored D.C. and a little of Baltimore together (in the rain), and traveled to Pennsylvania to see her roommate’s band perform. We hadn’t seen each other since this summer, and we were both over 21 for the first time. So, as you can imagine, fun weekend. : )

11. Paid attention to the debates and politics and registered to vote absentee-ly and watched Mitt Romney style a bunch of times. BTW, what’s his deal with China??? Seriously, someone fill me in please.

12. Enjoyed Homecoming Week (theme: Fairy Tales) without having to plan ANYTHING for it. So relaxing. Plus, my PSK guys did amazing in their skits! Just to embarrass them, I’m posting the video I took here. If the angle is sloppy it’s because I was watching in real time instead of through the lens and would occasionally forget I was still videoing.

13. Read at my MFA program’s Mockturtle reading. There’s a video for that somewhere too, but I’m not sharing that. : )

14. Watched the first episode of “The Walking Dead” with Rahul when we couldn’t find “Don’t Look Under the Bed” for our Halloween movie watching. TWD was super creepy and awesome, but DLUTB is a classic Disney Channel original!!!!! I’m still determined to get him to watch it. : )

15. So far, enjoyed this fall a lot more than last fall. Nothing against last fall, but I do feel more settled this year and that’s such a good feeling!

I Almost Always Get Hit By Bikes

There a few things in my life that are consistently true, and one of them is that I almost always get hit by bikes.

I don’t know what it is about me that screams TARGET to bicyclists but I come into some kind of close contact with a biker—whether it be a swoosh, a graze, or else—on a weekly basis. Nothing marks the semester being back in full swing like a guy rushing past me on his bike on his apparent rush to get to the gym just after I crossed the BUSY FOUR WAY STREET. I mean, did he not see me? Does he not have brakes? And, for god’s sake, when you’re biking at night put some damn reflectors on your bicycle!

The whole thing just makes me bitter because this has happened way too many times. I may or may not have mentioned the time when I literally did get hit by a bike my freshman year and fell to the ground. Luckily, my backpack cushioned me and I wasn’t really injured. But still! You’re on a two-wheeled MOVING object, and I’m on two legs.

I became a little more understanding after I purchased my own bike and realized how hard, un-fun, and nearly impossible it is to bike on some of the major roads in the area. The sidewalks are not the best option, but sometimes ya have to. But I STILL find it hard to tolerate those who bike on the sidewalks like a bunch of DAMN FOOLS. I may find you annoying when you yell “BIKE BACK” several times, even after you’ve passed me (as happened to Rahul and I on the lake loop trail), but I will find you immensely even more annoying if you don’t warn me you’re about to pass me.

So to sum up: for you terrible bike riders that nearly hit me, I’M COMING FOR ALL Y’ALL.

Also, another thing that has been true for the last three awards shows Rahul and I have watched together (Academy Awards x 2, Golden Globes x 1) is that I have won the most correct guesses for the winners. But last night he bested me at the Emmy’s…sigh. Until next time, Rahul. UNTIL NEXT TIME.

What I’ve Done This Semester So Far

School’s been in session for almost three weeks and it feels like an entire semester has already passed. It’s amazing how the whirl of a semester starting can trick you into thinking you’ve already had to do a mountain of school work when, really, it’s only been baby steps.

I’m excited for this semester because I’m taking less classes and I’m now working as the Interfraternity Council graduate assistant—instead of Homecoming & Greek Week Advisor—in addition to serving as a House Mom. I’m looking forward to the challenges IFC will provide, and also SO stoked for the extra time I’ll have from only taking two classes.

Seriously, you have no idea. SO EXCITED.

Also, I’m trying to make this the year of getting A LOT OF SHIT DONE. I feel like the sudden change in schedule and time commitment when I moved to Maryland was very sudden and different and, instead of establishing a comfortable schedule for myself, I just floundered around a lot, working toward getting all my shit done and not working toward getting everything done in the efficient, time-conscious manner that I wanted. I never had this problem in Cape, and I had FOUR JOBS at one point.

But I also realized the reason I never had a problem then was because I had little to no time to mess around. I would often times have only one day to get all my work done and that was it: no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And even though I like having more free time now, it also can be a disadvantage because I often times end up spending hours playing stupid games or watching TV than actually getting anything done.

So far this semester I’ve been getting up early, working out, then GETTING MY SHIT DONE. It’s been working well so far, so let’s hope it keeps going that way.

What I’ve Done this Semester So Far:

  • Read two books (Falling Man by Don DeLillo for the 2nd time, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Natasha Tretheway)
  • Went to see Natasha Tretheway, the current Poet Laureate, speak at the Library of Congress. Also, I got to meet her and get my books signed AND didn’t make a fool of myself. SUCCESS!
  • Attended around ten annual meetings for the fraternities in my university’s council. The purpose of the meetings are to receives updates on the status of each chapter over the past year and work toward continuous improvements. They’ve also been great so now my knowledge of the chapter is  no longer just “Wait, who?”
  • Argued with Sears when they tried to sell me new tires and tell me a million other things are wrong with my car.
  • Written one half-decent story for workshop. Fingers crossed!
  • Been called Lauren by a member of the IFC I’m advising. Clearly he didn’t see my full name in the email address I wrote him from….
  • Met Testudo with a few of my friends/coworkers and took this excellent photo:

Testudo!

  • Bought my first ever wedding gifts and baby shower gifts for friends and family. I feel very grown up now.
  • Met the new guys living in my house and also became an official member of PSK athletics! Just kidding, I only have the jersey.
  • Watched most of the first season of “The Newsroom” and felt way smarter because of it.
  • Bought many things on Etsy.
  • Ran MANY, much miles, especially now that the weather is cooling. Thanks to my friend Rachel, who keeps my spirits up when running and makes a hill not seem so bad; we even ran 8 MILES yesterday and that’s CRAZY but also awesome and made me feel super motivated for future work-outs.
  • Drank a lot of Starbucks and coffee in general.
  • Spent a lot of time on Dogshaming and also sent many, many photos of cute dogs to Rahul.
  • Ate these fried oreos:

Sorry about my finger…I was just really excited to eat them!

Overall, it’s been a good first three weeks. Here’s hoping for many more successful ones.

Writer’s Frustration

I’ve been struggling with something lately called Writer’s Frustration.

Don’t mistake this for Writer’s Block. Even though they may seem similar, they are very different. It’s not that I have Writer’s Block. I have plenty of things about which to write. Ever since I started in on my collected stories project, I feel as if the ideas haven’t stopped, which is great. I think many writers would agree that it’s preferable to write a piece or pieces that are set in the same location, with the same characters. It’s Faulkner’s approach. But as I try to create my own Yoknapatawpha County, I’m running into something I didn’t quite expect: repetitiveness.

I guess I should have expected it, especially since my pieces center around the same family. And even though I feel I have some good plot points, twists, and more, I’m already getting a little tired of them after only writing a few stories, and that can’t be a good sign.

After a few days of frustrated writing, several “blaaaah” moments, and plenty of complaining to Rahul, I realized that I was writing the piece I was working on just to finish it. I knew what I wanted to happen, and I was rushing to get there. That should never be the case. Writing is a journey, and when you’re not enjoying it, it’s so evident in your work.

So, finally, I decided to pull up my big girl pants and step away from the piece. Even though I’ve spent all summer working on these pieces, I’ve reached a place where I don’t know what to do next and I don’t know if what I’ve done is good or needs to totally change. It’s a frustrating place but, I gotta tell you, it’s much less frustrating than actually forcing myself through a piece when I’m not actually sure I need to keep writing it.

With the 2nd year of my MFA program starting today, this blog post seems appropriate. I’ve since moved onto working on something else, and I’m hoping that I have better luck with this one.