Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Last night I carved pumpkins with friends and created this lovely lady.
Any ideas what I should call her?

I've graded a few papers today, but have spent a good chunk of my time helping prepare for a charity Halloween party tonight, where I'll be volunteering. I still get to dress up though -- yay! -- and I'm aiming for 60s bouffant hair and winged eyes. Somehow I must incorporate a bright orange staff shirt... I'll probably send out a Twitpic, so if you haven't joined me on Twitter yet, do it now!

What are your plans for tonight? I'd love to hear about your costumes and plans in the comments!

Stay safe tonight!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Firsts

Hey, look at this! It's a video blog!

It's weird hearing my own voice and watching myself speak. I sound a lot tougher in my head than the priss in the video.

Too Pretty readers, please head over to Makeup and Beauty Blog if you haven't already done so, and take a look around. Yes, because I'm there, but also because Karen's a fantastic blogger you should get to know.

For those of you who are new to, here are those links I promised you!

Too Pretty Stories
Background: Why I Donated My Hair

Hope all of you are having a great Friday! Can't wait to hear about everyone's Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

3 Things You Can Do Today To Communicate Better

Yesterday's post sparked some good conversation in the comments section (check it out here), but I realized that just saying communication is something worth improving isn't the same as doing it.
(photo taken by Rick O'Neil)

Since I work in the field, I thought I might be able to help. I've written ad copy, radio scripts, fundraising letters... built and maintained donor relationships... edited and written for websites of every stripe... and currently teach public speaking and interpersonal communication at the university level. So while I don't pretend to know everything, I do know a few things.

If -- like me -- you're always looking for ways to learn and grow, here are three things you can start doing right now to be a better communicator.

1. Listen. Maybe it seems counterintuitive, but effective communication can only occur when all the participants feel heard. Many arguments aren't based on real disagreement -- they're based on misperceptions about what you think someone else meant (and didn't mean at all). If you take the time to listen -- without multitasking and trying to decide what you'll say when it's your turn -- you're going to be a better communicator.

2. Ask questions.
You have to actually do Step 1 before you can do this one, because otherwise you won't have any material to ask about (I'm so tricky). But once you start listening and wanting to understand someone else, you're going to demonstrate interest by asking follow-up questions. You know you love it when people want to know more about your kids, your painting, your (fill in the passion blank)... so why not be the person you love talking to?

3. Be mindful. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "mindfulness" two ways: "bearing in mind" and "to be aware." When you're in conversation, other people won't say everything they mean. But if you "bear in mind" and work "to be aware," you might catch the slight pause or wet eyelashes that indicate a deeper meaning to the words he or she is saying. Those tiny elements can radically change the meaning -- and the direction -- of the conversation.

"Hey!" you might be saying. "You gave me three tips to communicate better, but none of them involve ME saying a word!"

Yep. That's right.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Should We All Be Good At Something?

Lately, it seems like I've read a lot of articles with a similar theme: don't focus on making your weaknesses better! make your strengths stronger!

But I disagree... Kind of.

The idea is that if there are two things you do, one of them is going to be a pathetic 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, and the other is a very respectable 7. These are where you rank naturally, with no training or practice or whatever. Experts and others with opinions have said that it's a better idea to put effort into improving the strength and not the weakness. If you put two hours a day into the strength, you might increase ability to a rank of 9 or even 10. Good job! But those same two hours, invested in your weaker area, might only produce a 4 or a 5, which is pretty mediocre considering how much time you've spent working toward improvement.

So basically, you could go from a talented coffee shop guitarist to a full-time pro... or you could go from a terrible baker to one who manages to follow a Tollhouse cookie recipe correctly (most of the time).

I understand what everyone's getting at -- do what you're good at and become even better. That makes sense most of the time.

But there are some areas in which you may not be naturally gifted, but should still focus energy into improving -- and I think communication is one such area.

If you can't communicate about your gifts and talents in other things -- or even create the opportunity to showcase them -- what good are those gifts and talents? And if you can't infect people with your passion for a cause because you don't know how to tell them about it, what impact will you really be able to make?

I know I'm biased, but I honestly believe communication is one area in which everyone needs to possess some level of proficiency.

Do you agree? Do you think there are other areas that people should devote energy to improving, even if it isn't a natural strength?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Phantom Texter

Seconds after I posted yesterday's list of things I'm too pretty for, I could've added to the list.

Why? Because of this text message:

"I have a question!"

I didn't recognize the number and it wasn't programmed into my phone... but the Seattle prefix encouraged me to give whoever it was the benefit of the doubt:

"Okay. I don't have you programmed in my phone."

That's when it got weird...

"I know. We've never met and probably never will, but I've had your number in my phone for awhile (Trish gave it to me). My question is do you want to get to know someone new?"

I immediately texted Trish asking who she was giving my number out to, and she had no clue who this person could be. Meanwhile, my new buddy texts again:

"If not I will delete your number and you won't hear from me again."

Maybe I should've told him to go ahead and delete, but I wanted to know who this person was. I've had my share of creepiness in life, and knowledge goes a long way to being able to sleep at night.

"You're kind of creeping me out since you won't tell me who you are."

"I never said I wouldn't tell you who I am. My name is Ryan Pierce. I live in Seattle, Washington, I'm 26, and obviously a little random."

Trish was questioned, she admitted she knew him, and told me he was the same guy who, two years ago, had wanted to fly across the country, drive eight hours from the airport, and take me out to dinner. His devotion was inspired by pictures he'd seen in her apartment that were probably much like this one:
(Yuck. It might actually be this one for all I know.)

So... according to our calculations, Trish and I estimate Ryan has had my phone number for two years and is just now choosing to use it. Awesome.

"That's probably not his smartest idea," Trish uneasily admitted.

I responded nicely since he's still a part of her life, but said no thanks to this new friendship.

I'm too pretty for these things to keep happening...

P.S. I change names. I'm not quite so heartless to tell damning stories with real ones.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Things That Make Me Say...

"I am too pretty for this!"

(This is the only picture I have of the face I make when I say it!)

I've said that phrase a lot lately, but here are a few examples of when I break it out.
  • When my computer overheated midway through video work and I had to start over from scratch. My computer is apparently going through menopause... hot flashes are becoming more and more common.
  • When a friend suggested I date a 19-year-old Russian carnie because "he can make homemade vodka!"
  • When her friend agreed with my sarcastic suggestion I date a (hypothetical) former criminal with three illegitimate children and a shady career path.
  • When yet another friend (where do I find these people?!), after hearing the above, offered up the idea I find someone with mob ties (yeah, I've done that and it's not as much fun as it seems).
  • When I discovered my Kermit the Frog shirt has not only burn marks but a HOLE in the back from when friend lit me on fire (I've worn it since said on-fire incident but not since the hole discovery).
  • When the students who were frantically emailing me all weekend about last-minute details for their Monday speeches chose NOT to show up for class today. Glad I spent my weekend helping, guys.
These are only a few of the things that come to mind (yes, there really are more). I bet you have some similar stories from your week, too -- share them in the comments!

And then say it with me: "I am too pretty for this!"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Three Pretty Things : 10/25

This has been an amazing week in so many ways. If you've been reading along with me, you know why.

But in addition to the big crazy moments have been a few that stopped me in my tracks, struck by the beauty of life. So often I'm tired or busy or uncaffeinated and I miss them. Luckily, a few made their way onto my iPhone this week, and I get to share them with you.

Here are Three Pretty Things.

Sunrise from my apartment building as I left for work.
One thing I love about the east coast is the vibrantly-hued leaves. They don't come in as many colors back home.
In no way does this picture do the Blue Ridge Mountains justice, but it's what I see when I drive to my Thursday night class every week.

What moments this week made you just drop everything to soak it in?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thank You

Technology hasn't been my friend today, so I apologize that I made you wait for a post. It isn't the one I planned, but it's necessary just the same.

Thank you.

Thank you for visiting my website. For reading, for commenting, for passing it on to others. Some nice person submitted to a site aggregator that apparently loved it -- lots of hits yesterday! Thank you, whoever you are.

Thank you everyone who supported me, loved me, and encouraged me through the hair donation.

Thank you to my friends, family, and mentors who have told me to keep writing.

Thank you to those who have started following me on Twitter, became a fan on Facebook, LinkedIn me, or just emailed to say something nice.

I don't think you know how much those things mean to me. They mean a lot.

So thank you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Than A Haircut

I did it.

I was so afraid I'd burst into tears and make myself look like a big baby. I mean, it's just a hair cut, right?

Except that for the past several years, that's what people noticed and complimented. Whenever I mentioned the possibility of cutting it, an overwhelming outcry broke out -- sometimes coming from people I barely knew -- saying I should keep my long curly locks.

Sometimes that made me want to chop just to remind everyone who owned this hair, but I never did. I got attached to it, and finally had the princess hair I always wanted.

But I wasn't prepared for the dread I felt when I finally decided it was time to donate. The identity I've built for myself has included long hair for years, and now I was suddenly going to be one of those shoulder-length girls.

There's so many of them.

My friend Renee comforted me on the drive to the salon this morning, reminding me that while my hair might be less eye-catching, I still have my signature big glasses. And while talking to her, it occurred to me that in a very small way, this is probably what my friend Marie meant when she said her identity changed when she lost her hair.

Except for one big difference: cancer stole that from her. I was choosing to give mine to spare an already-hurting person from a tiny portion of that experience.

I stopped whining.
And I experienced joy.Goodbye, hair.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Frizz On Purpose

I'm frizzing my hair.

Why on earth would someone do that? you ask in [understandable] bewilderment.

Because tomorrow I'm donating my hair (gulp), and one of the many things required is that mine have no product on it. I wasn't sure if conditioner counted (since it coats the hair and leaves a smoothing film), so I didn't even use that. Now it's all air-drying into a puffy, frizzy mess.
You can see how I feel about THAT.

It's worth it. And I'm glad I can do this for someone who's going through so much.

Not everyone wants to grow their hair to their butt and then chop it off (today is the last day I'll have to use huge handfuls of shampoo!), but that doesn't mean you can't make a difference. Over at Makeup and Beauty Blog, Karen is matching donations you make to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. If you were thinking of giving, this is a great way to do it.

UPDATE: The salon asked me to straighten my hair ahead of time because it's SO curly, SO long, and SO thick. After an hour with the straightener, this is the result: Now you know why hair product is vital if one doesn't intend to look like a furry creature.

Still worth it...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Joy Of Legacy

Two days ago, I wrote about the legacy left to me by my Grandpa Jack. At the end of the post, I asked how you honor the sacrifices and stories that have put you where you are now.

I've continued to think about the idea, and tried to see how I have succeeded or failed in this. I decided the ideal answer would be to say that I create legacies for other people. But I looked at my bare ring finger, and then down at my flat stomach, and wondered, "How am I investing in other people, in future people, if I don't have a family for whom to sacrifice?"

That really bothered me. It isn't that I want people to know my name after I die -- though that would be nice -- but I want my life to be a transformative power for someone else.

I was sad. I cried a little bit. I called my mom and ate a lot of cookies.

Then I had a student come to me after class, and timidly ask if I could meet with her outside of class. She wanted to talk about some things she was going through, but didn't think her friends had the perspective she needed.

My first reaction was surprise ("Umm, okay. But... why me?"). My second reaction was inward pouting ("It's because she sees how OLD I am!"). The third reaction was an "aha" moment, when I realized that I was being given the opportunity to invest in a life.

In a small way, I was creating a legacy.

My heart was enveloped with joy, the kind that smells like vanilla and cookies and comfort. My life wasn't just a trek to meaninglessness or self-absorption... I had something precious to contribute.

It's almost funny that I haven't made this connection before. I love teaching, and I really do believe that if students pay attention in their Communications classes their lives can be richer for it. But I thought the skills and thought patterns I taught would create transformation... and it isn't just that. It's the way I teach. It's being approachable and caring and flexibly-scheduled.

And it's remembering that legacies don't travel through DNA.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Happening

My hair is scheduled to be chopped off this Friday. I'm happy that I'm doing this... but I'm also many other things:
  • Impatient ("Let's get rid of it NOW!")
  • Scared ("I'm going to look fat now! My hair balances out my hips!")
  • Excited ("No more headaches, neck aches, or back aches from wearing a ponytail!")
  • Cost-conscious ("I'm going to save sooooo much money on shampoo and conditioner!")
  • Self-congratulating ("Some cancer patient is going to have beeeyootiful hair... good job, Christina!")
  • Melodramatic ("My one beauty -- gone!")
The list could go on, but you get the point. I have mixed feelings, even though I know it's a good thing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Weight Of Legacy

The last few days I've been thinking about the people who have contributed to my life.

And on many levels, that means friends, mentors, educators, parents and siblings. But I have been thinking about my grandparents, and specifically my Grandpa Jack.
My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor. The concentration camps didn't only take away his family and friends, but it stole his opportunity for education, the health of a family coffee business, and the community in which the Azous name had existed since Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.

It would've been easier to die, you know. He watched his mother, his sister, his niece and his nephew forced into the gas chambers. He risked his life by stealing potato peels, eating them so he could stay strong enough to live. And when he was finally liberated by Allied Forces, he returned to a nation that immediately sent him to fight in a civil war.

Grandpa Jack left Greece for the United States as soon as he could, and overcame language barriers, a failed marriage and the challenges facing a single father in 1960s America. He built a business, a family, and a new life. My grandfather's home was a place of joy and food and tradition, where he taught his grandkids by story-telling and through a life well-lived. His smile and laughter filled the space and the hearts of those who spent time there... and when he died the echoes still reverberated.

And while the ending of Grandpa Jack's story seems to show us that all the hardship was worthwhile, he couldn't know that in the concentration camps. He couldn't know that when he looked down at his three young daughters and had to figure out a way to raise them alone. He couldn't know that everything was going to work out when he thought he'd lost one daughter forever.

When I think about my own life, I think about the people who fought so hard to live and create meaning and provide opportunities for me. And I think about the privilege and burden of these legacies, how they force me to live a life of meaning to honor the sacrifices made just so I could exist.

Who has sacrificed for you? And how do you honor the legacy left to you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Three Pretty Things : 10/18

Midterm grading is kicking my butt, but I have been so fortunate this week. I have people in my life who truly care about me, who drop everything to make my life beautiful. These people are the ones I think about when I think of the highlights of the last seven days.

The Three Pretty Things are just that -- pretty. They enhance my life, certainly. But you may notice a theme: they reflect experiences with people who matter to me.
This picture was actually taken more than a week ago by Hunter Cox, but I first saw it this week. If you can't tell, I'm the lucky duck getting a piggy back ride. In a metro station. Soon to be up an escalator.

Homecoming weekend just ended, and I attended this party. Fugitive dogs, wrecked golfcart, and watching a young man light a cigarette in a bonfire on a windy night... a good time was had by all.

Not only is the view here beautiful, but it's where I was when I tearfully texted a friend that yes, I would love it if she rearranged her entire day to have coffee with me. I spent a few minutes with Frederick Buechner, too, who managed to calm my spirit and dry my eyes before I left.

Tell me: what has made your week pretty?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Midterms Make Me Boring

I have nothing insightful to say today.

I figured I'd be honest, partially because that's a nice thing to do and partially because I don't have the energy to fake it. You teachers out there know that it's MIDTERM season, and I have exams and projects out the ears to grade (the upside is I don't have to wear earrings... exams-out-the-ears work as accessories).

So I've spent hours this week trying to get everything done, but it leaked into my weekend in a big way. I do have two assistants, though.

Say hello to Bandit and Maddie, who have helpfully shed all over my textbooks, exams, and pants.

Meanwhile, my streaming audio has taught me several things about the 1950s and 60s:
  1. People were MEAN back then! One song was about some guy laughing when he left his girlfriend crying... only he didn't because he didn't have the backbone.
  2. Elvis has been gone for decades, but he can still make me tear up. "I Can't Help Falling In Love"... that dead jerk.
  3. Andy Kim was underrated. Baby, I love you, too. C'mon, baby, n'n'n'n'n'n'nah...
I feel myself longing for a brain-dead day in front of a television.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Got Manure?

When life hands you a life full of manure...

Go inside, clean up, and bake cookies.
You didn't think I had a new use for horse shit, did you?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cranky Professor

I'm currently a grump.

Rainy, cold weather. Irritating circumstances that I'm trying to fix. The realization that I need to decide VERY soon what I'll be doing and where I'll be living in two months' time. All of these things have joined forces and melded into a day that I don't really have the energy to feel good about.

And instead of wearing pajamas and eating cookies all evening, I'm going to go teach my once-a-week night class. They're wonderful, so the bit of me that isn't being self-centered feels bad they're getting a cranky prof tonight. It's a very small bit. I drowned it out without even really trying.

Grumpy Me is still going through the motions and trying to be responsible, and that's why I opened up my email. I found a short one from my special student, saying he's withdrawing from my class. It's probably a good thing for him, so I wasn't too sad. But my jaw DID drop when I read the following:
"I just wanted to let you know that I withdrew from the class. It's not because of you it's because of me."
He just it's-not-you-ed me! I got professionally dumped!

Today hates me. I am SO too pretty for this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In the past year, there have been several people who have treated my life like a furnished apartment.

They came in, made themselves at home, and rearranged everything.

"Hmm, that bookcase is too close to the doorway... I'm going to push it into the bathroom. And this rug? Let's roll it up and lean it in the corner. Yes, that's nice. Okay. Now there's room for the kiddie pool I wanted in the living room."

None of it makes sense, right? Right.

And these people have forgotten one very important thing: this is not their space. It is MY space, and the things in it are MINE. It is important to ME.

And for far too long, I stood like a flabbergasted onlooker, unsure what to do about these rudely-behaved hooligans. I let them rearrange my life into such disorder that I am still reeling from the effects of it, even after I shooed them out of the apartment. And now I have a mess to clean up.

I don't quite have a solution or formula for success in such situations. It would be nice to come out of it with something tangible to show for all my trouble. But I do know that from now on I'll stand my ground, I'll point them out the door, and I will remind myself I'm too pretty to fix other people's mistakes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Know You're A Nerd If... me, you have photographic evidence to prove it.

These are pictures that *I* took. It isn't even like I can blame someone else that these images exist.

You Know You're A Nerd If...

...You see a lunar rover and immediately feel deja vu... because you used to make them out of K'Nex with your science students.

...You see a recreation of the leg lamp from "A Christmas Story" made entirely from Red Bull cans and are amazed. The appropriate reaction should be of pity for the person who made it and quite possibly doesn't have a life.

...You got so excited when you saw a rerun of "Saved By The Bell" that you took a picture of Mr. Belding and Zack Morris (I don't have a TV, okay?).

...It absolutely makes your DAY that you posed with a faux British soldier.

All right, so I let you see my nerdy quirks. Tell me: what makes you a lovable nerd?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Getaway

You all figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't updating the site this past weekend. It's true: after several weeks of frustrating circumstances -- car death being the most obvious example -- I needed time off. A few friends and I left town for a couple of days to outrun our problems.

It worked!

A few memories:
  • Three girls, one bed.
  • "That Pennsylvanian is driving erotically."
  • Matching Twister shirts = lots of unanticipated attention.
  • Running in the rain.
  • Piggy-back ride up the escalator (scary!).
The only bad part of the trip was that it had to end.

I had hoped that some of the glow would rub off on my Monday so I could ease into the week. Instead, I found two dead bugs in my second cup of coffee after setting it down for only a moment. They were probably on a kamikaze mission to sabotage my day.

Too bad. I'm a hard egg to crack, and I'm determined that even this bill-paying, lesson-planning, exam-writing, grading-grading-grading day is going to be a good one.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Garlic In The Glove Compartment

It has been a LONG week, and I haven't been good about posting here. But there is good news...

I finally purchased a car!

I took this picture yesterday after I got home. When I called my mom later in the day to tell her about it, I wandered outside to my balcony... only to see two blue Toyota Camrys parked next to one another. And I didn't know which was mine.


Luckily the car came with a beeper thing, and I was able to point and click. The prettier of the two blue Toyotas honked politely and flashed its lights at me. My mother then advised I hurry and put garlic in the glove compartment before anything bad happened.

Why garlic in the glove compartment, you ask?

Because my Grandma Paula was from Transylvania, and it's traditional to put garlic in new cars and homes to ward off vampires and evil spirits.

This morning I found that one thing garlic will not protect against is "check engine" lights. I immediately took the car back to the dealership, where they agreed to take care of the [minor] problem since I bought the car less than 24 hours ago.

Either the world is finally realizing that I *am* too pretty to deal with crap... or the garlic worked. But as long as things keep looking up, I don't care too much about the reason.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One Day This Will Be Funny

This portion of my life is going to be great... one day.

When I have put enough distance between myself and the current Now, it will be a great story of endurance, survival, and belly laughs. At the moment, however, it is definitely an "I'm too pretty for this!" tale.

Some of you remember that my dear Chrysler LeBaron died last Friday. Since then, my friends Hunter and Laura have been schlepping me everywhere -- car dealerships, work, etc. For some reason, they love me that much. But even the best of friends don't deserve what they endured with me yesterday.

First, Laura picked me up for work. This meant that she left the house about 45 minutes earlier than she normally needed to. I taught class, and afterward was approached by a student asking if he could give his speech that he missed on Friday.

You might remember this guy. It was the same one who told me he missed turning in an assignment because "he couldn't get out of bed." And yes, you'd be right if you guessed he slept in this time, too. I refrained from telling him that even with my car breaking down on the way in to campus, *I* still made it on time.

After class, I visited my vehicle and put a note in the window explaining it was broken down and I was arranging for a tow (fingers crossed that it's still there). I then went online to reserve a rental car. My first choice -- Hertz -- was out of vehicles for the day, so suggested Enterprise. I booked the car, Hunter came to get me, and we headed to the airport to pick up my compact.

When we got there, we discovered Kayak interprets location loosely. When I said I wanted a car at the airport, the website took that to mean "within 10 miles of the airport," which is really not the same thing if you're on foot. Luckily I wasn't, so Hunter I went to the office several miles away.

Where they did not have a car ready for me.

Nor did they two hours later, when they promised to.

Or an hour after that. Or that.

In fact, Enterprise didn't have a car for me until 5:45 p.m., though my reservation was for noon. And when I climbed into the Yaris (aka "The Most Poorly Designed Car Ever"), I was choked by cigarette fumes... which is why I didn't notice the "check engine" light till I got home.

I called today at 10 a.m. to complain, and the branch manager assured me she'd call when they had another car to trade me. It's now 5 p.m., and I haven't heard back.

Oh, and did I mention that the car that I had hoped to test drive -- the one I would've test driven had I a vehicle when I'd arranged for one -- was sold an HOUR before I got the keys to the rental?

I am waaaaaaay too pretty for this.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Three Pretty Things : 10/4

It has been a long week.

And while a lot of things went right in the last seven days, a lot of things went wrong, too. I'm glad I began this Sunday project, because in the name of continuity I was forced to review my week and search for the good moments. They were there, hidden perhaps in the shadow of dead cars and frustrating circumstances, but I found them.

That's a copper dome that I see twice every week, shining in the morning sun.

I see this majestic building twice a week, too. I can't believe I get to work on such beautiful campuses.

This image might not seem "pretty" to you, but it is to me. The night my car died, my friend Trevor played Scrabble with me from 3,000 miles away. He did not let me win.

Tell me: what tiny pretty moments have you enjoyed this week?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Statement Of Purpose

Today I was confronted with a challenge.
"Statement of Purpose: Focus on the fit between your intellectual interests and research training with the course and research opportunities at Prestigious School for Communication."
This made me pause. Firstly, because I haven't had to write using my expensive, academic, master's degree vocabulary lately. Those hard-earned words are important to incorporate, because doctoral programs tend to shy away from accepting the un-smart. The second reason I paused was because it struck me how rarely we state to ourselves our own purpose.

If I were to follow the instructions above, modified to apply to everyday life, what would I say was my purpose? How would I relate my past and current activities, interests, and work to what I hope to accomplish in the future?

It's difficult to say, because goals -- like so much of life -- are fluid and ever-changing, at least for me. I don't always act methodically toward them because I don't know if they'll still exist when I get to them. So many vanish the closer I approach.

BUT here's the thing: I think the question is worth asking, even if the answer isn't entirely clear.

I don't have an answer completely formed yet... but asking the right question is half the battle. It gets me thinking in a productive direction.

This is my modified Statement of Purpose question:

How do your current passions, skills, and pursuits prepare and guide you to the life you want?

I'm still working on my answer. Do you have one?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Goodbye, Friend

Today I lost one of my best friends.

We'd known each other for more years than I can count, but have been nearly inseparable for the last seven. So it broke my heart that this morning, softly, my car sputtered and passed away.

We met as children, when my grandparents bought LeBaron and drove around the island ensconced in the padded-velour interior. I sometimes rode along, but never dreamed that one day my Grandpa Wayne would send me to Virginia in that car.

LeBaron and I have been through a lot: Canadian goose attacks, cross-country road trips, highway racing with Rev. Jerry Falwell, cement posts, accidental break-ins, and a constant barrage of pseudo-compliments ("couch on wheels" sounds comfortable, but not sexy or fast). It's been an exciting friendship.

The first rumblings of trouble began two years ago. First, the rear view mirror fell off. We laughed, my car and I, about how we were getting older and our parts weren't what they used to be. But LeBaron was soon after diagnosed with a bad transmission. It was weeks before we knew she'd recover.

Ever since, we've carefully watched for signs of illness. It was as if we both knew that we were on borrowed time, and we had to make the most of it.

The terminal diagnosis came in May of this year, when the starter and cluster both gave out. The starter was an easy (though pricey) fix... but electronic clusters are nearly impossible to find. So though we navigated the same streets and routes as always, and I took special care of my poor car, LeBaron was fighting a losing battle.

And today, she breathed her last.

The official cause of death was a shredded belt and a bad tensioner, but the futile search for a cluster is what made her give up hope.

I will miss my car.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Longer Pretty Song

Last night, I got exciting news.

The Too Pretty song had been extended!

Yes, my friend Renee added more verses and recorded herself playing it. This time, her lips match her voice. Amazing!

You may have noticed a furry creature scampering about in the background. Feel free to speculate in the comments about what type of critter it is... I'm assuming it's a rodent of unusual size.

If you're here for the first time and aren't familiar with the phrase "I'm too pretty for this," please read up on it here. I'm relatively certain you'll want to sprinkle your conversations with the phrase once you learn how to use it properly.

Now, if I could only get that song un-stuck from my head...