Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 10 Too Pretty Posts of 2009

You know I'm not a resolutions girl, but I am all for Best Of compilations. So that's what we're doing today: celebrating the year's best Too Pretty posts.

What has been popular in 2009 around here? According to Google Analytics...

Why Am I Too Pretty For This? It's a good question.

A Week of Slight Improvements Apparently, I'm not the only one who avoids anything BUT baby steps.

3 Things You Can Do Today to Communicate Better If you're a regular reader, you know I like the number three.

What Daydreams Revealed It wasn't quite what I expected.

More Than a Haircut Donating my locks wasn't what I expected.

The Power of Hair We women like our hair, but I decided to get rid of mine.

PhD in Procrastinating I doubt I'm the only one with this degree.

45 Things That Don't Make Me Gnash My Teeth
With a word like "gnash" in the title, how could this not be a popular post?

The Cranky Professor In which I experience a professional dumping.

I'm the Heroine of This Story A story of hardship that ends with the brave Christina eating a donut.

I'll be honest, I'm surprised by some of these Top Tenners (really, my amazing video didn't make it??). What did you enjoy this year? And what would you like to see increase in 2010?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Be Really Good At Being Really Bad

"If you can't be good at something, Christina, you should be really good at being bad at it."

I took my mother's advice to heart.

One time, I knew my tires were low and was hoping to get someone to put air in them for me. So I drove to an auto supply store, and in a wide-eyed, damsel-in-distress fashion, asked where the tire gauges would be and what they looked like.

The guy behind the counter could see he was going to have to be a hero, so he guided me to the tire gauges, explained why I didn't need the most expensive one they carried, and showed me how it worked. After I paid for it, he then demonstrated -- on each of my four tires -- how to test the air pressure.

"So," I asked cautiously, "How does one get air in the tires once you know they're low?"

My new friend explained that he couldn't leave the shop to fill my tires at the gas station across the street, but gave detailed instructions. He hesitated, then asked how far I planned to drive that day.


"Because you have a bald tire. And I mean, it's really bad. I'd be worried that it might blow if you get on the freeway."

Oh, dear. That was a slight problem. It got dealt with, but here are the truths I think this story demonstrates:

If you don't know something, ask. I really didn't know where the tire gauges were, and I didn't know how to use them.

Make it clear that you know someone is doing you a good turn. It made that guy's afternoon that he got to save the day for pretty little me. And I batted my eyes, hung on his every word, and thanked him for his help to let him know his expertise and assistance were appreciated.

Sometimes, you get more than you expected... and that's a good thing. People like to help when help is appreciated. Not only did this guy make sure I bought the most reasonably priced tire gauge, make sure I understood how it worked, and then check all my tires, but he threw in an extra bonus when he told me I was gambling with my life every time I zoomed up to 70 on the interstate.

We both benefited and felt happy about our interaction. All because I was really good at being really bad at something.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Anti-Resolution List

I'm not a resolutions kind of girl.

Mainly because I know I'll lose my list long before the end of the year, so even if I wanted to keep any eye on my progress, I wouldn't be able.
My name is Christina and I lose everything.

But I also avoid resolutions because I don't think life is about creating new hateful habits (exercising a bazillion hours every week! surviving on carrot sticks and lemon water!) or breaking old ones I like (you will never take my coffee away). If I'm going to reflect over the year, it's to see what I liked and what I want to try differently the next time around. I won't be building myself guilt traps. I'll be giving myself permission to enjoy life and grow it into something amazing.

Here's how I try to do it.

I plan to do at least one big thing that I haven't done before. This is kind of an every year plan; 2009's Big Thing I Haven't Done Before was a roadtrip with my best friend. We had a vague plan for the journey, only knowing for sure we'd stop at two old southern cemeteries. On a whim, we drove down to St. Augustine, enjoyed the day, and then drove all night to Virginia so I could teach a 7:40 a.m. class.

I wrote a Dammit List. I wish I could say this was my idea, but it actually came from the brilliance that is Havi Brooks. Basically, it's a manifesto, a collection of personal statements, that define for you (and others) how your life will be conducted. I built upon the Dammit List concept by actually organizing a Dammit Day, and convincing others to write their lists, too. (I get pushy when it comes to the well-being of others, but if they don't like it they can stop talking to me.)

I commit to trying to ask myself the right questions. Welcome to nerd talk, but I truly believe it: if you don't know how to ask the right questions, you're never going to get helpful answers or solutions. So when I come up against hard decisions or scary choices, I try to ask good questions: Am I making this decision out of fear? If so, what am I afraid of? Do I really have more time than I'm giving myself to choose? How might I grow through this opportunity?

I laugh. Because most things are funny from the right perspective, and even the bad things can make for a good story -- it's all in how you tell it.

Now it's your turn. What works best when you contemplate a brand new year? Are you a hard-core resolutions writer or a que sera, sera kind of person? Share your approach in the comments!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In A Strange Land

I didn't realize I'd stepped through the looking glass.

But things -- little things -- didn't add up.

The hours of waiting. The strange sounds. The phone calls that never came. And that disembodied voice that intoned, "You've got mail."

Yes. I'd left the Land of the Living and stumbled into 1995.




So while I'm residing in this strange land for awhile, I was smart (lucky?) enough to bring my iPhone and laptop. And although new posts won't appear every day, I'll be writing often (meaning more days than not) and Tweeting throughout my waking hours.

I will also be taking obscene numbers of cheesy photos with my overweight dog.

How are all of you? I feel like I've been missing out on your lives, so please fill me in!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Plan Was Super Easy

The plan was super easy: I was going to get on a train Saturday morning, arrive in Washington, DC three hours later, and enjoy a day of tromping around the city with friends before flying to Seattle the following night.

And then it snowed.

You may have seen the TV coverage of the two-foot blanket of white we received. It was really rotten timing, and I was mad. Unlike many, I've always distrusted snow. Sure, it looks pure and friendly, but it shoves cars off the road, freezes pipes, and takes all the bread off grocery store shelves.

The night of The Big Snow, I stayed with my travel buddies. In the horrifyingly white morning, Hunter dug out his four wheel drive truck and took us to the train station. We managed the difficult, uncleared roads and hills just in time to get the truck stuck in the parking lot.

But then we rushed aboard the train just in time! We were safe! And headed to a Big City with a Big Airport where everything would be okay. The train started off, and we relaxed in the knowledge that we'd all get to our destinations.

Then the train stopped. It continued stopping, with very few interruptions, for ten hours.

Meaning we got to DC around 11:00 p.m., about 13 hours after left. Amtrak's slogan waved goodbye: "Amtrak: Enjoy the Journey!"

Bah, humbug.

We arrived at the hotel at midnight and collapsed into bed. The next morning, we learned my flight was still on time (yay!), so we spent the day wandering in the snow and drinking coffee.

In the late afternoon I took an exciting shuttle ride with a friendly man who eagerly disregarded lights, lanes, and laws to get me to the airport on time.

I got some food! I found my terminal! I waited to get on my plane! It was delayed ten minutes!

Wait, what? That's not good. My layover was only scheduled to be 40 minutes... but the DC airline rep told me I'd be fine.

The airline rep in Minneapolis apologized instead, and handed me vouchers for food and a hotel stay.

So I wearily waited for the Ramada shuttle. I climbed aboard, and the driver announced that our hotel was next door to the Mall of America. I checked my ticket for the next morning: 7:20 a.m. So no cheesy sight-seeing for me.


I was zoomed next to a creepy hotel that was apparently modeled after the one in The Shining. The woman at the reception desk said to take the elevator to 2R, and then find my room -- 436 -- from there. Um, okay, that makes no sense, but I figured maybe it was a rambler-type hotel and then ran out of both 200s and 300s and thus had the 400s on the same level.

What a silly thing to believe. No, the hotel hallways actually SPIRALED upward to the 400 level. Creepy noises and poor lighting led me to believe I had a fair chance of being murdered or see rivers of blood, so I kind of sprinted up the spiral until I found my tastefully decorated room.

I called people to say goodbye in case I was murdered in my sleep, and went to bed.

Jumped out of bed the next morning, raced downstairs, and climbed on the airport shuttle. Bad-breathed debate team members with Minnesota accents discussed the merits of speeding up and slowing down speeches while analyzing them. I refrained from leaping onto my seat and yelling that I am a speech professor ON VACATION and they all NEEDED SOME BREATH MINTS.

(Santa's watching. Plus I hadn't eaten breakfast and really didn't have the energy.)

Hours of being shuffled around by people who didn't understand that I really meant it when I said I TRIED to use the kiosk check-in already -- yes, both Northwest AND Delta -- and it didn't work because it wasn't working, NOT because I'm an imbecile... and then a brief stint of securitizing, and I was on a plane to Seattle.

It arrived. As did my best friend, who was picking me up. And we didn't get into any accidents or explosions along the way home.

But I'm really scared to try leaving again.

So yes... while this is not the world's worst travel story (I met one girl who was on her third day of delays and was worried about missing her wedding!), it was pretty tiring and also why I needed to decompress a bit before reliving it for you here.

But now it's your turn: tell me YOUR travel horror stories!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Soon soon soon!

I haven't died. I haven't given up on this blog. I've just had an extended travel experience that I will soon share... but for now I need to focus on sleeping, eating, and teaching my mom how to [quietly] play Catch-a-Mouse on my iPhone while I work.

Don't leave me lonely, though! Tell me how you've been the last few days in the comments. Or you can interact with me on Twitter (big thanks to those of you who kept me company on that train ride... wow).

Hope your days have been merry and bright! I'll be back soon!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Good Man

A good man died.

He showed up in my life when he showed up for my grandfather’s memorial service in 2005. Despite years of hardship and illness, he came to say goodbye to his best friend… and to make sure I knew my grandpa.

He told me stories; stories that were familiar but not how I’d heard them.

Once, my grandpa told me a story about a man in the concentration camps, who saw his friend selected for the gas chambers.

“He was a good employee and a good friend, so of course the man had to save him,” Grandpa said. “So he took a corpse from the barracks – someone who had died during the night – and put it in the gas chamber. Then he grabbed his friend and took him away. The Nazis counted the bodies. They didn’t care who was actually in there.”

“Your grandpa, he was a good employer and a good friend,” came the new version of the story. “So of course he had to save the man. He was smart, your grandfather. He knew the Nazis would only count bodies.”

Story after story transformed in each new telling. My grandpa was the hero in all of his own stories. His best friend wanted me to know.

He sent me a card when I graduated from college, telling me confidently that his best friend would be proud of me.

He came to my grandmother’s memorial service, and praised me for working on my master’s degree. “You are very smart, like you grandfather. Him,” -- here he gestured toward my then 12-year-old brother -- “He’s a ladies’ man. Also like your grandfather.”

The last time I saw him was this past March at my cousin’s wedding. It was hard for him to speak, and he tired easily. His wife confided that he came mainly to see his best friend’s grandchildren.

We sat down, and he told me more stories. One was about how my grandfather stole his name, but he forgave him. He told me that if I chose to pursue my PhD in New York, I was welcome to stay with him and his wife.

“I wouldn’t want to cause you any trouble!”

He gazed at me for a moment before speaking. “How could I not do something good for my best friend’s granddaughter if I had to the power to do it? What would I say to him? You aren’t trouble. You are Jack’s granddaughter.”

He was a good man who wanted to comfort a grieving grandchild. He was a good friend who wanted stories and a legacy to continue.

You might not notice the difference, but I do. The world is poorer without this man in it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Goodbyes Can Be Good

In a few short hours, I won't own most of my stuff anymore.

A fraction of my belongings got shipped west. I nearly broke my back carrying one box of books, so I was really glad when the Post Office gentleman offered me a cart for the remaining three.

But most of my things are get adopted by new homes, because sending it cross-country doesn't make sense.

So I said goodbye to the couch. It's held me on cold days when I curled up to read, when I threw myself down to cry, or when I laid there for hours staring at the ceiling, struck down with swine flu.

I bid my bed adieu. The place where I dreamed, studied, and talked on the phone hours into the night... we're going separate ways.

My dressers full of clothes and secret stashes of gifts and chocolate. My desk and swivelly green chair that never got the use they should've (studying... in college?). My tables and bookshelves and coffee mugs... it's time to part.

But as I shed these old things, things I like or love or have attached to memories, I'm shedding weight that could keep me from the things I want more.

I have to say goodbye, because my life is being made new.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Confession Session

Today's a fun day, friends! Not only is the sun shining and my coffee getting downed, but I'm also guest blogging over at Confessions of a Twenty Something Year Old.


Cheryl's one of my favorite bloggers, and runs a weekly series about bad dates. If you pop over there right now, you can read about one of my mine.

Uh... yay?

So go read my guest post, but be sure to check out Cheryl's writing if you haven't yet discovered her. Fantasticness personified.

One more plug: if you'd been following me on Twitter, you would've heard about this last night. Who wants me in 140 character increments?

Happy Hump Day, friends!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Questions I Never Heard

I don't always hear things correctly. When I respond to something entirely different than what was actually said, I realize by the looks I get how inappropriate I've been.

I also come across as someone with whom people can be open, honest, and say strange things. So in honor of yesterday's random conviction that I would be arrested and last night's looooong dream about cleaning my microwave (yeah, I'm on a wave of weird right now), I'm giving you a taste of questions I've asked or thought I heard.


"So you said there's a dead foot in your car?"

That's what I thought he said. He actually asked if I could fit a bookshelf in my car. It isn't the same.

"It's going to shit. In a handbasket. Who even WANTS shit in a handbasket?"

It's a valid question.

"You want to be me? You want my job? Then you're going to be constantly hounded to wear a slutty nurse costume."

Yeah, I had a job (err, boss) like that.

"What eunuchs are you planning to do?" "Um, I don't do eunuchs."

I'm surprised people don't confuse "eunuchs" and "units" more often. I can't be the only one. My professor seemed to think I was, however.

PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who occasionally makes these mistakes!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Not In Jail, So That's Good

This button has caused me untold sorrow and frustration. It almost got me arrested.
Last night, I was driving home from a Christmas party when I discovered that my car windows didn't work. None of them.

So I wearily made a mental note to call the garage in the morning and see how much money it would take to fix this problem. Because it's fun to drop a few hundred on car windows around Christmas time.

At 4 a.m., I woke up panicked. I realized that I could get pulled over! My windows wouldn't roll down when the cop came over! I'd open my door and he'd yell at me for getting out of the car, and before I could explain I'd be thrown to the ground and handcuffed! And if I tried to tell him about my windows, I'd be charged with resisting arrest!

Those stupid windows were getting me put away, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I didn't fall back asleep. So I worried for two more hours until my alarm went off, and then I went to give an exam. I stopped at Starbucks before heading to the garage, and explained to a friend how I was probably going to jail because of my broken windows.

"Um... could I take a look at them?" asked my friend. "I don't know much about cars, but I'd hate for you to go to the garage or get arrested."

"Sure, what's the harm?"

Andy walked out to my car, pushed THAT button, and suddenly my windows worked again. Apparently I have a window lock.

While my friend was nice enough not to laugh at me, the mechanic was not. But I am not in jail.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Three Pretty Things : 12/13

Pretty things, pretty things... yes, they happened, but did I pay attention this week?

Not as well as I would've liked. But here are some that I did manage to catch.

My last drive to teach my last class at the community college.

Makeshift menorah when I couldn't find my own. This picture is abnormally clear because I didn't take it: my friend Renee (with whom I celebrated the first night of Hanukkah) snapped this one.

This picture makes me laugh. Laura came to help me pack, because she knows I always end up hyperventilating. This picture was taken the moment after she dumped out an old purse onto my carpet.

"It looks like... turds!" she screeched. "No, wait. These are cookie crumbs. Why do you have cookie crumbs in your purse?"

"Because someone put a cookie in my purse," I responded with an eye roll.

Ah, memories.

Tell me: with the holiday rushing, were you able to notice the pretty things? If so, what were they?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blogging...

This is my apartment.

This is me.

Is there a connection? Probably.

Sorry, guys, but I'm off to the land of boxes and Windex today. I'm bringing in reinforcements, so we can clean and make faces faster.

If you miss me desperately, go see the latkes I made last night for Hanukkah. And then follow me on Twitter, because I'm pretty sure I'll make witty remarks about packing throughout the day (like, "WHY, GOD, WHYYYYY?").

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fresh Memory

For reasons big and small, I'm all about remembering.

And once you start that trip into Memoryland, you find more and more moments you stored away, and you get to enjoy them all over again. Like Russian dolls... you open one up and you find ANOTHER one. And ANOTHER. You have no idea how long this will go, and it's kind of fun.

So here's what we're going to do. We're going to share memories today, because I LOVE that. I run the show here, so while I get to dictate, you still have to choose to participate... please do! I'll even start off with a memory made today. Yes, you get the freshest memories on this holiday. You're welcome.


While grading at Starbucks, I was chit-chatting with my friend Andy. An exam response triggered one of my favorite rants; it goes, "Rhetoric is the third oldest profession! Only farming and prostitution precede it in the annals of history!"

Andy didn't realize I only stopped to take a deep breath, because he responded. "I don't know that it was a recognized profession back then, Christina."

Confusion. "Wait, what wasn't recognized as a profession? Farming?"

And then people laughed at me. I did, too, once I remembered not everyone loves rhetoric and ancient Greeks the way I do.

Now it's your turn! Tell me a fun memory in the comments. Pretty please?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

STUFF (And Christmas)

I like stuff.
(One stuff I like is a soy, no-whip peppermint mocha.)

Having things makes me feel safe. I haven't always felt that way, though. Growing up, I was in a kind-of big family in kind-of small house occupied by a herd of kind-of pack rats. I swore that when I was on my own, I'd have a bed, a dresser with my clothes, and maybe a single book.

That was it.

Anyone who has ever hung out in my apartment or ridden in my car knows I failed to keep that solemn childhood vow.

So moving is difficult, because it means choosing what is worth keeping and what needs to be tossed. And the time frame that I gave myself (uh, super-super short) necessitates quick decisions. I barely have time to say goodbye to everyone I love, so you can bet I don't have time to sell things on Craigslist. What does this mean? It means I've giving almost everything away.

I'm giving away books. I'm giving away teaching jobs. I'm giving away clothes, and vases, and miscellaneous canned food (tangent: why did I buy canned asparagus?).

In a seems-more-than-coincidental twist, giving away Things I Want To Keep is freeing me. And more than any pine scent, peppermint mocha, mall Santa's Shop or holiday melody, this process of giving important stuff has excited me for Christmas.

I didn't expect to find joy here. So while I still like my stuff, I'm thankful to let it go.

Where are you unexpectedly discovering bits of holiday spirit?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Heart Cracked Open And Pride Gushed Out

I am so proud of my students.

Today was my last day teaching one of my classes, and they gave impromptu speeches on topics I selected. Because I like to be entertained, the topics ranged from "Camels Make the Best Transportation" to "Why Gravity Is My Favorite Physical Law."

They did amazingly well. They also supported one another, cheered for success, and reflected upon their semester in ways that made my heart swell. While eating donuts they'd brought to celebrate, they cracked jokes and shared stories and admitted they were going to miss the class.


One international student thanked me, and handed me a gift. When I opened it later (at his request), I found a note that threatened the safety of my mascara.

Why do they do this? Don't they know how much of a teacher's heart gets invested in these classes? It's so hard to say goodbye already... why must they be nice, too?

I've watched them transform over the course of the semester from scared freshmen to confident young men and women who have built new friendships, survived college exams and heartbreaks, and conquered some of their biggest fears. They gave speeches about their favorite household appliances... and about human trafficking. They studied together for exams, opened their lives wide to include new people, and changed their minds and majors.

It is a hard thing sometimes to be a professor. You meet amazing young people on the cusp of adulthood and mentor them. You watch with pride for a season as they try to navigate life, often succeeding in ways they hadn't imagined.

And then you bid them farewell.

I'm so proud. Goodbye.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

5 Songs For Instant Energy

With all the cleaning and packing and goodbyes lately, I've needed music playing constantly. If you're anything like me, the right music can get you moving and energized.

Unfortunately for me, the wrong music can have me watery-eyed and wandering aimlessly around my apartment, a box of Kleenex under one arm and the other shoveling food in my mouth.

Even if you aren't moving, the holidays can be stressful. The end of the school term can be stressful. Hey, LIFE is stressful. So today I thought I'd share with you five songs that give me that extra push into positivity.

Not a Springsteen fan as a general rule, but I love this song.

"I don't think they can handle this!" Oh, but I can.

Is this a surprise?

I've never understood the "shaggy dress," but other than that... it's superb.

Just makes me feel wonderful.

Tell me in the comments: what songs make your day better?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going Is Easy



I pack. I throw away. I give away. I sell. I pack some more. I use some Kleenex. I run out of the house because I want to feel normal for a few moments, as if the life I've led for eight years isn't ending.

Then I come back... and pack. And find old cards and old memories. Laugh at old pictures. Grimace at old hairstyles. Find comfort in old friendships that have already weathered a few storms.

I sit, wrapped in a blanket. On the floor, because I rarely sit on furniture if I can help it. Disconcerted by empty shelves and boxes that don't belong here. Writing cover letters that convey how amazingly awesome I am only in a way that is modest and professional.

I don't remember the man's name, but I remember what he said: "Going is easy. Leaving is painful."

I think he was right.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Three Pretty Things : 12/6

You may have noticed that I took yesterday (and a big chunk of today) off from posting. Sorry for the unannounced departure, my friends, I just needed time off from *everything.* It was good to go read books, take a drive with a friend, drink coffee slowly while sitting and talking. Enjoying moments instead of speeding through them.

If you thought your world might end without me (come on, you know the thought crossed your mind), consider following me on Twitter. If you're not already, you missed the Christmas tree in a typewriter picture and are bound to lose out on other great moments, too.

But for now, let's see Three Pretty Things.

Mexican food with friends. Blurry and poorly lit... but our friendship shines gloriously anyway (why, yes, Hallmark, I would be interested in writing for you).


Yes, I'm a lazy photographer who can't focus her iPhone... but my friend gave me a golden Cinderella carriage ornament because I said I admired it. Next time she says she likes my hair I'll have to shave it off and put it in a box for her, because that is the type of deep friendship we share (That sounds much more sarcastic than I mean it, but I don't know how else to state it so it's staying unedited).

What made this week pretty for you?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reflections? Trust Me, I Have Some

December has always been a time of reflection for me. I like to look over the year and see how far I've (hopefully!) come.

But right now, I'm grading. I've been doing it for like four hours straight, and have at least that much more to do today (and I STILL won't be done!). So today's December reflection will default to a familiar theme: I am too pretty for this!

Christina's List of Things That She is Far Too Pretty For
  1. I am too pretty to spend to be grading exams that include answers made up of random words strung together -- they are not even sentence fragments!
  2. I am too pretty for my efforts at surprising my best friend with a redecorated office to go unappreciated (I moved her desk into the middle of her office when she stepped out for 35 seconds... it was amazing, but amazingly enough she was not impressed. How rude!).
  3. I am too pretty to pack my apartment... aren't there fairies who are supposed to take care of that?
  4. I am too pretty to break my friend's phone. Oh no wait, I'm not. Sorry.
  5. I am too pretty to keep forgetting to eat. Because seriously, skeleton Christina is not pretty and it would be a shame to morph into her just because life is busy and stressful right now.
Okay, that got some of the whine out of my soul. But I reserve the right to add to the list later.

What about you? What are you dealing with today that you are FAR TOO PRETTY for?

If catharsis doesn't work, refer back to the Too Pretty Strategies for Losing the Funk (still giggling over that!).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How To Lose The Funk

Two days ago, you shared some of your ideas about how to beat the blues. Lose the funk. Just plain old feel better.

Yesterday, I needed all of those suggestions. So in one marathon session, I did every single thing you told me to (kind of). Here's what happened.

Thank you for your help!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm Stuck On Hump Day

Hump Day?

It must be, because in trying to overcome it I got stuck. I'm sprawled on the hump with no idea how I'm going to find enough energy or momentum to make my way over it.

I have been productive. I remembered to eat. I drank some coffee (okay, a lot of coffee).

It's not the externals that are hindering me. It's all the hang-ups inside of me, all the exhaustion and frustration about life and lack of chocolate in my apartment and oh my gosh I just want to eat carbs all day in my pajamas and watch TV and WHY do I not own a television set?!

I'm working on finding some balance. Part of that is planning the next few weeks in a way that is soothing because I know I can make it all work. Part of that is accepting that I will, in fact, flip out a few times before it works out but it's okay because flipping out is part of the human experience.

It's also part of the mysterious aura of a woman ("Mysterious," because you literally have no idea what version of my personality is going to do something unexplainable next. Whatever.).

Right now at this very moment, I'm just going to sit and type quietly at this little coffee shop. Watch through the window as the rain hits the brick sidewalk. Talk to my friend who kindly met me here to compile lists and spend time before I leave. Breathe deeply.

And then I'll go home for more dinosaur time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Misunderstood T-Rex

Today I am miserable.

And I wish I could watch, because when I'm miserable, I should be selling tickets. It's quite the performance.

I flop onto couches like fainting Victorian women in too-tight corsets. I sigh significantly as I gaze out of windows or just away from my audience. I wrap myself in blankets and mournfully huddle in a corner, as if to protect myself from the bitter cold of my [heated] apartment.

One of the most anticipated and rarely-seen acts of my repertoire is the T-Rex stomp (I'm serious, people have begged to see this). Bundled in my Cranky Blanket and tucking it firmly beneath my elbows, I stomp angrily around the house. My forearms have limited motion, thanks to the elbow situation, so I gesture awkwardly as I growl out my frustration and slam things around.

I really get into character for this one. I enjoy seeing myself as powerful yet misunderstood tyrannosaurus.
A rare T-Rex sighting!

What's funny is that by indulging in this kind of melodrama, I begin to feel better. There's something about the ridiculousness of fake faints and dinosaur stomps that tends to put things in perspective and help me laugh.

What do you do to get out of a funk?

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Don't Participate In Cyber Mondays

Cyber Monday makes me laugh.

Why? Because I have a sense of humor more similar to that of my 14-year-old brother than what one would expect of a college professor.

The phrase "Cyber Monday" is funny to me for several reasons. First, "cyber" is such a dated term. It makes me think of the late 90s, when everything was e-this or e-that. Hearing the word makes me want to break out Backstreet Boys music.

The datedness factor leads me to the second reason "cyber" makes me giggle. As you may or may not know, textbooks are not written by the audience to whom they are addressed. No, they are generally penned by old academics who are trying desperately to make their content seem relevant. Which is awesome... most of the time.

This time it's just awesomely funny.

One of the textbooks I use explains to students that sometimes, when grown-ups love each other very much and are very far away from one another, they use the internet to "cyber." Yep, that's the word they chose. So when I see that Twitter is alive with Cyber Monday references, I can't help but imagine an online orgy.

Thanks, old academic textbook-writers. You gave me a priceless image that simultaneously makes me shudder and laugh.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Three Pretty Things : 11/29

How was your Thanksgiving weekend? I hope it was filled with happiness and memory-making, as mine was.

The entire week leading up to the holiday was one for which I am thankful. So many pretty things... but here are three that made me stop and smile.
It's a family joke that we're related to Sherlock Holmes (we aren't, because he is pretend). Seeing this display at Barnes and Noble made me giggle and made other shoppers step away from me.

My friend Ashley and I wrote a letter to Santa. As she put it in the box, I saw the Believe Meter's hand move to the right!

Okay. I moved it myself. Whatever.

This is a tree from which birds tend to poop on cars, so I try not to park near it. But without leaves (and without birds), it's really rather beautiful.

Tell me in the comments: what made your life pretty this week?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Glamorous Life?

This past Monday I told you I was going to work on adding some glamor to my life.

It wasn't as if I planned on transforming into Marilyn Monroe (because there was this one time I just tried to imitate her and instead of looking gorgeous while holding down a billowing skirt, I looked like I was touching myself in public... not okay). I was actually just trying to prevent myself from turning into Liz Lemon.

I documented the week in pictures, so let's take a look together, shall we?
You can't see it, but I'm also wearing grey skinny jeans and knee-high black leather boots. Does that aid the glamor factor or make it a hooker-worthy ensemble?

The Glamorous: outfit looked pulled-together (and I was later validated by seeing a similar outfit worn by Maegan of

The Not-so-glamorous: having friends flip through iPhone pictures and demand to know why you're taking pictures of yourself in a Starbucks bathroom.

The point was to showcase the bright red lips I sported all day. Instead, you can see I was pre-gaming Thanksgiving dinner with lots of pasta, cookies, and snacks. And that I would never make it as a model with those weird faces I make.

Ahh, Thanksgiving. I thought plaid seemed "American" enough to wear to celebrate. It seems that I also wore food on my shirt to celebrate (some sweet potato casserole leaked on me during transport).

This is definitely not glamorous.

Yeah, even the second picture of me is all like, "Are you serious, Picture One?"

Last day (today), and looking down at this snap made me feel like I didn't accomplished my goal. What I did accomplish was 1) putting more effort into my appearance, 2) trying a few things I wouldn't normally (was surprised to like the red lips), and 3) thought about some of the glamorous people I know.

My friend Meng, for example. She is gorgeous enough to be a movie star, it's true, but what draws people to her is a sense of humor, desire to have fun and be silly, and to always make other people feel important.

As I thought about Meng, I said to myself, "I could work on those things... heck, I already have the humor. Maybe I should just work on becoming a better person."

Even though that seemed like a Liz Lemon thing to think, I was okay with it. Maybe being like her isn't really all that bad.

And then I accidentally took this picture.
No more better person crap. I'm on my way to glamorous!

Friday, November 27, 2009

45 Things That Don't Make Me Gnash My Teeth

Yesterday I suggested you take a look at Havi's list of 77 Things That Don't Completely Suck. Today I'm doing my own version, because while it's hard to be actually thankful without pumpkin pie, I can admit there are a few things in life that aren't causing much gnashing of teeth.

Havi poured some lentils into a bowl and they added up to 77. I poured out my bottle of Aleve, and there were 45 pills. So welcome to my list of 45 Things That Don't Make Me Gnash My Teeth.
  1. I'm drinking a soy peppermint mocha.
  2. I think I'm recovering from the week-long Festival of Food... my belly is no longer faking a pregnancy.
  3. The Nutella cream pie I made yesterday went over well.
  4. The turkey I helped my friend Laura cook turned out really well. Minor miracle, since neither of us really had any idea what we were doing. We wore gloves and disinfected with Clorox wipes all day.
  5. I watched TV yesterday for the first time in forever... oh my gosh I love commercials and Myth Busters.
  6. When I tell people I'm moving, they're all sad and teary and asking when I'm coming back to visit (unless they're west coast friends... those ones cheer and demand we start scheduling the next six months of fun-ness).
  7. The idea of moving has made me start appreciating some aspects of this town I took for granted.
  8. Like traffic that doesn't suck all the time.
  9. Like warm weather in November (high 70s? yes, please).
  10. Like being able to drive no more than 15 minutes if I want to see friends.
  11. Like getting coffee with former professors so I can retain some of my academic brain cells.
  12. I have fantastic glasses.
  13. My hair is really amazing, too. Because I'm being honest here.
  14. People like Laura make me happy because when I went over to her house to help her cook a turkey, she met me at the door with a horrified look on her face and told me that turkeys were gross and I'd be the one handling the corpse and taking out the innards but she had gloves for me to wear. And she took pictures.
  15. She also gave me toothpicks so I could stab the neck flaps of the turkey together. That was nice.
  16. Laura is also the kind of person you can call when you're sad. She will tell you nice things or feed you.
  17. Amy is another good friend, and she will tell you nice things but not always in the gushiest and nicest way... so you know you can trust what she says.
  18. I also got a great text message last night wishing me a happy Thanksgiving while simultaneously calling me a hooker. That made me smile.
  19. Trevor promises to wear a light-up Christmas sweater in public. Do I have to explain why that is wonderful?
  20. Ashley promised me that I will always have a job as a carnie if I need one. She also is teaching me the proper vocabulary for that profession.
  21. I still have a lot of cookies in my kitchen.
  22. There are people who understand my sense of humor (that is far from being everyone).
  23. I've just been informed that understanding my sense of humor takes some practice... so that means that for the people who do get me, they're willing to put in the effort. That's kind of awesome. It's probably because of my hair.
  24. I have small ears. I'm really glad about that.
  25. I won the first round of Pit the other night. I hate that game, I didn't want to play that game, so victory was twice as sweet.
  26. There is a sequel to "The Hunger Games" that I didn't know about until recently. I'm going to read it on the flight to Washington.
  27. Tonight is Milkshake Night.
  28. I assign homework. While grading isn't fun, it's more fun to be the teacher who evilly gives out projects before the holidays than the students who have to do them. Bwahaha.
  29. It's nice that I haven't had to birth a child. Teleporting them out of womb: that is the way of the future.
  30. I am wearing "nice clothes" from the waist up, and pajamas from the waist down. This is kind of my uniform unless I'm in a classroom.
  31. Puppy play-time yesterday was fun.
  32. On Sunday, I discovered I'd lost some weight... making me the lightest I've been in about a year, and thinner than is a good idea. This doesn't make me gnash my teeth because it happened right before the Thanksgiving Stuff-a-thon, so now it's like I'm normal even though I ate enough for a small country.
  33. The Book of Revelation fell out of my Bible. I've never really understood or liked it, so now I don't have to worry about it anymore.
  34. I have a dishwasher.
  35. Oooh, project that I'm completely excited about! Wish it had been my idea, but thrilled that someone thought I'd be a good addition to the Top Secret Team of Awesomeness.
  36. The heat came on just now, which is utterly fantastic because I was thinking about how I was probably going to curl up and fall asleep and die of hypothermia. That is what made more sense than me putting on more clothes or turning up the thermostat.
  37. Shoes.
  38. The painting I have of my Grandpa Jack dancing with my two-year-old self at a wedding.
  39. Hearing from readers, friends, or stalkers (or all of the above) that something rotten was going on, and out of the angry soul bubbled up the words, "I am too pretty for this!" Good to know I helped out.
  40. Blackened chicken pasta. Yum.
  41. Equally good in an entirely different way: weird dream-inducing kosher dogs at The Weenie Stand.
  42. Blog comments (especially ones like what Sara wrote on yesterday's post). If you write, you know what I mean.
  43. Sleeping in on Black Friday. I don't need anything that much.
  44. No "work" this week. Again, a benefit of teaching.
  45. I have a smartphone that is smarter than me (one day, when it starts mocking me, I will be sorry I ever bought it).
Are there other things that might qualify as gnashing-less? Sure. I'll probably think of them later, and I'll probably wonder why in the world I included my ears on this list. But that's okay, because it isn't definitive, this isn't Thanksgiving, and it's all true right now.

What about you? Anything that doesn't completely suck or definitely doesn't make you gnash your teeth?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgivingly Making Messes

If you live outside the United States (or inside them and in a cave somewhere), you might not know it's Thanksgiving.

That wouldn't be a problem if you were in the kitchen with me now, because you'd smell the turkey in the oven (I've never cooked a turkey before!), see the sweet potatoes cooking on the stovetop, and could peek into the fridge to check out a Nutella cream pie setting. And I'd probably slap you upside the head if you asked why there was so much food and then exclaim, "It's Thanksgiving! Be thankful for something while you help me clean up the mess I made in here."

So I'm busy making messes and food today, but I'll be back here tomorrow if I've woken from my food coma. Meanwhile, I think you should check out Havi's list of 77 Things That Don't Completely Suck... I might follow her lead tomorrow instead of punching elderly ladies in the face for a Black Friday discount on the last pair of socks.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We Can Buy All Sorts Of Potatoes!

I am posting super late today for many reasons. I am so thankful for all of them, but here are two.

I am thankful for the high price of airfare, the long lines for security at the airport, and even the luggage that occasionally gets lost en route. The "inconveniences" we experience in traveling allow us to see people who live all over the country and world more than once or twice in our lives.

This week, all the combined problems of airports and airplanes brought me three days with two of my favorite people, Ashley and John. They recently moved from Virginia to California, but came back thousands of miles for a visit. This allowed Ashley and I to engage in our favorite holiday tradition: writing to Santa.
I'm also thankful for huge corporations like Wal-Mart. I am thankful for the miles of crowded parking, the packed stores with tired faces, and the cheap wares they lure me into buying.

When I stopped there today for last-minute ingredients for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast, I saw families carefully checking their shopping lists and counting out their dimes and quarters at the cash register.

Because of places like Wal-Mart, families who are struggling to pay their bills will still be able to celebrate the things they do have with a traditional meal. And what's even better? Because of all those "cheap wares," we can celebrate with whatever tradition we grew up with because we have choices. So while my friends grew up eating mashed potatoes (they're buying russet), I grew up eating roasted potatoes... so I'm buying red baby potatoes. That's kind of amazing if you think about it.

I sound cheesy. Okay, fine. But cheesy or not, I'm taking time this holiday to see which of my "problems" might actually be symptoms of blessing and bounty.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving if you celebrate, and a great Thursday if you don't.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How You Know You've Made It As A Blogger

I've made it as a blogger.

I didn't know if this would ever happen... I mean, lightning rarely strikes twice, and I had my first bit of electrocution as a celebrity gossip blogger. So I'm just flattered and trying to prepare myself for the fame that's sure to be around the corner.

How do I know I've "made it" as a blogger, you ask? Well, it's when you start having people come to you for things. With the celebrity gossip thing, I had publicists contacting me out of the blue to promote their shows, artists, whatever. And while mostly that just meant I got a lot of press releases from Animal Planet, National Geographic, and Playboy, it was something.

And you'd be surprised how much a site's Google rankings improve when you include keywords like "nude," "Victoria's Secret models," and "Playboy." Especially when they're all in one sentence like that.

So this past week, when I was told by blogger Feelmore that she was naming me as a recipient to the award below (I didn't forget!), I was honored.

But I guess it brought my blog to the attention of some of her important friends, because NoNine Recordings emailed me soon after and gave me a song from their new artist, David Minor.

So obviously, I've made it.

I've also disclosed that I got a freebie, so now everyone (*cough* government regulators *cough*) can be happy.

So thank you all for making this happen. I'm tearing up a little when I think of all my fans and my supporters, and the long hard hours I've put into this blog for 2.5 whole months. Oh, gosh, I don't want to forget my friends, my family, my dog... everyone who has made this journey with me.

This also means I may need to stop associating with some of you non-freebie-receivers. Sorry, but now that I'm in demand I really have to focus on my work and perfecting my craft and dodging the photogs.

(Or you can just enjoy the free song by David Minor, too, thanks to the generous people at NoNine Recordings. That would actually fix everything.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Am Not Liz Lemon

A few nights ago, I sat on my couch watching "30 Rock" on Hulu. I was eating Nutella from the jar, having already downed take-out teriyaki and my daily serving of fruit (V8 juice).

And that's when it hit me.

"Amy, I am eating Nutella from the jar while watching television. I'm one stick of fried cheese away from becoming Liz Lemon!"

I got a text back: "No. If you were Liz Lemon, you would've peed in a jar in order to scare off a roommate. I'm pretty sure you haven't done that."

"Maybe I have..." I mysteriously responded.

"If you had, you would've called me immediately to brag. And that's only if you didn't have your phone within reach to call while you were doing it," Amy texted.

She was right, because I am predictable. I am much like Liz Lemon, minus the crazy antics. That leaves me with glasses and neurosis.

Let me clarify: I am not opposed to comparisons to Tina Fey. She has been called the pin-up girl for smart men, and I am okay with getting lumped into that category. But Liz Lemon is the smart, hard-working, slightly frumpy gal who takes everyone's crap and sits at home eating in her free time -- not my life's dream. So I started wondering... what is the antithesis of Liz Lemon?

My conclusion: anyone with an ounce of glamor. So this week, I won't give you the play by play, but I'm working on incorporating everyday glamor. Research (read: "Google searches") shows that there are diverse opinions about what constitutes this state. Red nail polish? Platinum hair? Expensive belongings? Or is it more of a way of being...?

These are the things I'm working on figuring out. And while most people work their entire lives or careers to achieve something like glamor, I'm aiming to have it done by Saturday.

I'll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, help me out: what do you think makes someone glamorous? I'd appreciate the shortcuts, since I only have six days to get this right.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Three Pretty Things : 11/22

My week has had so many lovely moments. It was difficult to choose just three to share with you.

Some things that didn't make it -- not because they weren't great, but more because they didn't photograph well -- were excited text messages from friends who are arriving from California tomorrow (!!), good conversations with great people, cooking breakfast for friends, and an hour of flying with my two favorite pilots.

And I know this week promises more of the same kind of happiness.

For now, though, I'll show you Three Pretty Things from the last seven days.
I'm amazed how a tree, reduced nearly to the appearance of dead wood, can still be so beautiful.

The shape and color of these leaves are delicate and perfect. When I cross them on the brick sidewalk I feel like a bride, before whom the lemony petals have been strewn... that in some way, the ground has been made more beautiful in preparation for my feet.

If you didn't know: I love cemeteries, and this is one of my favorites. I went for a long afternoon drive last week, and stopped here to enjoy the aura of peace in the church graveyard. I left when someone apparently called the church's security team and they came out to give me dirty looks for quietly wandering their open, unlocked cemetery.

Tell me about the highlights of your week. What has made it pretty?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dear Virginia Driver...

Dear Virginia Driver,

How are you doing? I'm sure your day is going well, because you managed to get yourself out of a tight spot. I mean that literally -- the parking spot you chose was just a little squished for your car and your abilities. I know, because in your efforts, you managed to leave a dent and streaks of paint along my back bumper.

What you didn't leave, however, is a note.

I know, I know, times are rough with this economy and all. I'm sure you didn't work my car repairs into your budget. I've bumped into a few vehicles in my day, so I know the way your stomach churns at the thought.

But I left a note.

I left a note when I was making minimum wage working retail over summer breaks. I left a note when I was certain the dent could just be hammered out and the paint chips buffed off. I left a note because I am not a bitch, and think other people might be attached to their belongings and have a reasonable expectation that cars won't be banged up after a 15 minute stop at the grocery store.

So Virginia Driver, whoever you are, I want to thank you for giving me another reason to be happy I'm leaving this town. Thank you for reminding me that I behave better than you, I'm probably prettier than you, and am a whole lot less rotten on the inside than you.