Saturday, January 30, 2010

Brush With the Underworld

Saturday morning cartoons were the best part of waking up on the weekends when I was little. Now, the best part of waking up on a non-weekday is it being past 5:30 a.m. But in an attempt to recall those golden days of youth, I'll share a Saturday Story.

A few years ago, two friends and I went to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch. It was chosen based on location and cheapiness, not on the quality of the food, but it was a good place to catch up in the midst of hectic grad school days.

While we were eating and chatting, we noticed a man in sunglasses and a suit. He walked in, flanked on either side by thug-like friends. The waiters began lining up to talk to him and shake his hand.

"Who is that?" "Why is he so important?"

In the middle of nowhere as we were, it didn't make sense for some dignitary to be around, especially at the dingy Pueblo Viejo. That's when my brilliance struck.

"Guys!" I hissed. "He's probably in the mafia! The MEXICAN mafia!"

"I don't know, that seems a little far-fetched," one friend reasonably said. "Wait, is that the manager coming out to talk to him?"

"Yes!" I whispered furtively. "Because he needs protection!"

Just then, the Mobster walked over to our table. We three froze.

"How's the food, ladies? Is it good?" he jovially called out.

We responded in unison: "Yes, it's great!"

He strolled out with his henchmen, and we stared out the window as he got into an older car with tinted windows.

"Maybe he IS in the mafia!"

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, he is. Unless he's like Erik Estrada or something, there's no other explanation."

Just then, a waiter walked by, and one of the other girls nearly grabbed him. "Who was that guy? The one in the suit?"

He looked at us excitedly. "Have you ever seen the TV show, CHiPs?!"


Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Would Text You Some Love

Aww, you all are so great!

I've been MIA the last few days because I started my new job on Wednesday, and have been busy trying to learn huge yachts of information... and then meeting up with friends after work. This is because 1) they all want to hang out now that I'm working nearby, and 2) they are worried that I will get lost on my way home from work and want to make sure I know where I'm going.

So it was AWESOME to return to this blog and, instead of dead desert with tumbleweeds rolling across the page, see all your encouraging comments. Thank you!
This would be much more impressive if I'd flipped the picture so you could read the text. Now you're going to have to try holding your screen up to a mirror or something.

About the new job: I'm conflicted about how much I should talk about it here. Not because I want to say bad things (I don't!), but because I want to take some time to decide how I'll define boundaries. I did that with my posts about teaching, too.

If you want to know the bare bones, you can get LinkedIn (shameless, but come on... you know you want to be professionally networked to me) and see where I'm working and my job title. To give that skeleton a tiny bit of cartilage, a lot of what I'll do every day involves writing, talking to people, and coming up with (hopefully) good ideas... fun stuff. Stuff I like to do even when I'm not getting paid.

How are all of you doing? Tell me in the comments! I'm trying to get caught up on reading all your blogs/Twitters/novels/etc., but even a teeny update would make me happiest of all Christinas.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mishmash, Hodgepodge & Tarnation

You wonderful people who have kept coming to read even when I've been less than faithful in my writing? I just want you to know I love you. This post is a giant "THANK YOU," catch-up, and newsy bit.


First, thank you for reading! Yes, you! Because your comments and Twitter love keep inspiring me -- love it! Second, I have to thank a few people for the blog awards they generously threw my way.

This one came from Nathanael over at This Is How It Feels. Although we've argued over the best future locale for Sara, we're generally blog buddies and this is a huge compliment. Thanks!

I don't think Monique (aka the SurferWife) meant to give me both of these, but I'm the kind of girl who takes advantage of ambiguity and will claim ownership of BOTH. That's actually why she likes me in the first place, I think.

Who gets the next round of these babies? I'm sending all three the way of Sara Spelled Without an H, the Aspiring Fashionista, and Sizzle Says.

I just wrote a review of soon-to-be published Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? ('Cause I Need More Room for my Plasma TV) by Karen Spears Zacharias. You can see it over at my other online home, Christina is Online.

If you've been following my saga, you know I recently moved to Washington State. Yay! And while I love the carefree lifestyle of unemployment (ha), I'm also happy to say I just accepted a new job! I start on Wednesday, and am looking forward to a new challenge.

What does that mean for this blog?

It will still be here. I will still be here. And I anticipate being able to post more regularly, because I'll have a stable schedule. So don't leave me (please!), because I want to grow old with you. Or... at least keep up the conversation. Okay?

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Think I'm A Flamingo

I've always liked the word "quirky."

It sounds fun and much more positive than "weird." And it's younger than "eccentric," which is my eventual life adjective goal.

Today I read a post by Glen Stansberry over at about embracing the things that make a person unique. I admitted, in the comments and on Twitter, that lately I've been making zombie noises when I get frustrated (so basically a CONSTANT soundtrack of the undead).

And here, I reveal exclusively to you Too Pretty readers that I noticed that when I shower, I turn into a flamingo and insist upon standing on one leg. Sometimes I switch, but never do I have both legs supporting me at once. Safety first? Obviously not.

Another quirk? Taking super cheesy pictures... WHILE STANDING ON ONE LEG!

There is a part of me that does not want to embrace those quirks. Another part of me that sounds a lot like my brain says embracing the weirdness doesn't necessarily entail admitting to it on the internets. So why am I?

Because this is who I am.

And because I once got advice from someone much wiser than me when we spoke about the possibility of my non-acceptance into the doctoral program of my dreams. I explained how I was worried that maybe my area of study didn't fit the "theme" the selection committee had that year, and maybe they'd snicker at such a Scandinavian-named girl coming in wanting to research Jewish visual rhetoric.

"If those things are true, but you were accepted anyway, is that a place where you could thrive?" she asked.

I blinked uncomprehendingly. "What do you mean?"

"If their goal is to reproduce scholars similar to themselves, then they will do so and select the candidates they think best suited for that goal. But if they want to invest in students who will go out and find their own unique niches, they will again work to find candidates who are suited to do so. What kind of student and scholar would you prefer to be?"

"Well, obviously the second kind."

"Then whether or not you're accepted, it sounds like it will be the best situation for you."

Which is another way of saying that my quirks not only make it easier to pick me out of a crowd of bland, but they also work as a filter to protect me from people and situations and haircuts that aren't going to help. I just need to love my quirks and let them live in my life.

I guess admitting to a few of them is my first step.

I miss you all! So jump into the comments, say hello, and tell me about the quirks you're embracing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lessons From A Dairy Farmer

Yesterday I talked to a farmer named Brock.

He grew up in the area, because generations of his family owned a local dairy farm. As we chatted, he greeted people and joked around with them. After each encounter, he told me a tiny piece of their lives... usually about their connection to the farming community.

He explained how difficult it's been to find ways to save his own farm. He hosts events, makes cheese, and used to sell raw milk before regulation made it unprofitable. His brother operates a roadside stand offering fresh produce during the summer and fall. In October, the two of them open up their pumpkin patch to families, and then chop Christmas trees in November and December.

We talked about Carnation Farms, and how sad it was when Nestle bought it more than a decade ago. It was one of my favorite places, mainly because during National Dairy Month they gave away free ice cream. I discovered that my childhood tour guide of the farm had been my new friend.

I've been gone from this community for so long.

When I run to the grocery store, I smear makeup on my face so that if I run into someone from high school I won't wonder if there are pillow creases on my face. When I see someone I knew forever ago, I wonder what they'll say to whom after we part ways.

But I forgot how nice it is to have things in common. To not have to explain my town's name, to know the same places, to share experiences common only to locals.

I realized yesterday that one branch of my family has lived in this area for about 100 years. It stopped me in my tracks. And while I don't know if I'll be here forever, I'm really glad this is where I started.

Thanks, Brock.

Monday, January 4, 2010

From Ghetto To Granny

Most of the time, I think I'm pretty awesome.

It's taken years of shaking off expectations, the weight of other people's goals, and personal insecurities to have that general attitude. But I like myself, and generally other people do, too.

Sometimes the reasons why *I* like me and *others* like me are different. This story represents one of the latter.

In grad school, I spent a lot of time in the cubicle I was given. It would've been fantastic if I'd spent all that time studying, but much of it was actually invested in grading, venting, and watching YouTube clips from "Teen Witch" and "Music & Lyrics."

But there was also a lot of singing and dancing, at least when Meng and I were in the office together. We'd take turns playing songs (or letting Jason serenade us with TLC's "Scrubs"), but one day I opted for something different.

For Meng's entertainment, I belted out Blaque's "She Ain't Got the Boom Like I Do" at the top of my lungs.

No one else was around, so I did a few gyrations to emphasize the classy lyrics... and amidst her laughter, I heard a cough.

"Um... Ms. Olson?"

How in the world did someone find his way through the cubicle jungle without a sound?

Thank goodness for teacher glasses and pulled-back hair, because it sped the transformation from ghetto to granny.

Love you, local radio station, for reminding me today of this precious memory...

Have you ever tried to regain your composure and professionalism in a split second? Tell me more, puh-lease.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Radioactivity And Lava

Now that it's been nearly two weeks since my move, I thought I'd summarize some of the activities. It might explain my less-frequent posting, my strange Tweets... or just confuse further.
  1. I watched fake snow fall in Westlake Center in Seattle... two days after the two-foot snowfall in DC that paralyzed the entire east coast. This snow at least looked radioactive to keep people interested.
  2. I met Rob Lowe's younger twin at a coffee shop when he struck up a conversation about my iPhone.
  3. I almost ended up in a ditch thanks to icy roads. I don't like icy roads.
  4. I learned how to put chains on tires (I didn't actually *d0* it, but I watched).
  5. I spent New Year's Day at my friend's house in the Cascade Mountains.
  6. At the cabin, I watched a snow plow driver nearly slide his vehicle into the house.
  7. I bought the most amazing boots with ruffles and happiness in every stitch.
  8. You may have missed the TwitPic, but Amy and Trevor and I made a gingerbread outhouse. With lava on the roof.
  9. My absence in Virginia has provoked at least one verified act of depression shopping, resulting in a huge television and Wii purchase.
  10. I launched another website,, to serve as a hub for all my online activities.
Now I've also learned that I'm kind of boring and/or forgetful.

At any rate, life is good. I'm happy about the new year, because I know if I survived 2009 then I'll be okay in 2010. Second day of the new year: how are YOU?