Things I learned…recently

It’s been a while since I have taken the time to sit down and write one of these blog posts.  It’s not that I haven’t learned anything, it’s just that I have a case of the lazies.

It happens.

So, what have I learned?

I learned…

…that field geology is not my thing.

This past semester I took a historical geology class to fulfill a science requirement.  It was an interesting class, challenging and time-consuming.  I learned a lot and that’s always a good thing.  The course was geared toward geology majors, and I was a little apprehensive about that at first, but my fear proved unfounded.

I rocked that class.

<see what I did there>

However, one of the things my professor required for course completion was a bit of field work.  He believes that he cannot allow his students to walk away from historical geology without at least one day in the field – mud covered rock hammer in one hand, chunk of fossil-filled platy limestone in the other.

Okay.  No big deal.  I can do that.  Dig around in the dirt for an afternoon, maybe find a fossil or two, identify an unconformity or a fault, take a strike-dip measurement.  Not my favorite things, but whatever.

I did a little research on the site where we were to do our field work.  It’s a place on the North Sulphur River known to contain Cretaceous period fossils.  According to a few maps, the site boasts a park of sorts with an outbuilding and concrete stairs leading down the steep river embankment.  Okay, no big deal.  I can do that.

The day of the excursion was rainy, a chance of severe weather loomed, but we went anyway.  We are geologist, a little thing like a tornado watch isn’t going to scare us – or so our professor told us.  The site was in the backwoods of nowhere, down an overgrown two lane farm to market road – and not where we thought it was.  There was no outbuilding, and there were no stairs, but there was a trail – or so our professor told us.

Now, I have to tell you, my professor is an older man – late sixties, almost seventy, but he is the most energetic person I’ve ever met.  If Indiana Jones were a geologist, he would be my professor.  He is also a dirty rotten liar.  There was no trail, only a runoff path that spilled down a sixty degree drop through overgrown brush and misshapen trees into the river bed thirty feet below.

Sixty degree drop; thirty feet below. 

Oh.  Did I mention it was raining?  Yeah, so the ground had turned to slick as snot clay mud.   You know that stuff, right?  It might as well have been a sheet of ice.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not an outdoorsy person, and the whole scenario was so far out of my comfort zone, I felt like I might drown in my own anxiety.  That nagging voice of reason in my head was doing his best Lost in Space impression, “Danger, Will Robinson.  Danger.”  But I ignored him.  After all, I have expanded my horizons in recent years, ventured into uncharted territory, overcome a few of my more benign phobias.  I could do it.  

Right?

Right.  So, I took a deep breath, sat down on my butt and did the crab crawl –  inch by inch, down into that fucking river bed.   I spent two hours trudging through mud so thick it stuck the bottom of my shoes (I grew two inches) and caked the hem of my jeans.   I foraged for fossils, took a strike-dip measurement, almost dropped my compass into a mud puddle, and suffered the indignity of a really bad hair day.

Then I clawed my way back out, up thirty feet (at a staggering sixty degree incline) inch by fucking agonizing inch.

Success!

And it only took three weeks for all the cuts and bruises to heal.  Bonus.

The experience ranks right up there with whale watching from an inflatable raft in the middle of the churning Pacific.  I’m proud of myself for doing it, but I will never, ever do it again.  Ever.

…that one of my new favorite things to do is sit in a bookstore coffee shop with my daughter sipping a cold frappy, nibbling a calorie heavy treat, and reading a good book.

…that sometimes blog spam is amusing.  I normally don’t pay much attention to it – just hit the delete button and move on.  But today I found this attached to one of my reading challenge entries:

Thats just because youre still mad at him for winning the starting RF job over your man-crush last April.

It’s like I’m in a fight with someone and I didn’t even know it.  Such drama.

…that the 10 hour drive to South Padre Island is so much more fun than the 11 hour drive home.

…that we have entered that point in tennis season where I am again forced to question my long-standing Federer allegiance.  I can forgive a loss at the Australian Open to Murray, but a loss on clay to Tsonga in the quarterfinals?  I’m at the breaking point…seriously.  If Federer doesn’t step up on the grass in London, I’m out.  I mean it.  For real this time.

that there is a Great White shark lurking just off the coast of Cape Cod.    Note to self:  no beach excursions during future trips north to visit my Boston peeps.

…that there is an Atlantic Green sea turtle named Allison at Sea Turtle, Inc. on South Padre Island with a prosthetic flipper (think boat rudder, only for a turtle) to help her swim.  Go read about her – and all of the good work this amazing organization does – (here).

…that I will take a Stats class over Art Appreciation any day of the week.   I had two objectives going into this summer – knock out a couple of required courses I have put off because I know they will suck and get a tan.  Well, it’s only a few weeks in and I’ve already failed.  No, my tan looks great, but I seem to have hit a hurdle with that other thing.  It turns out I’d rather jab a stick into my eye than sit through 10 weeks of art appreciation, and its endless string of mindless “art” projects and presentations.  I couldn’t drop it fast enough.  Of course, now I have to take an extra class in the fall to make up for it, but I think art history will suit me much better.  I sure hope so.  On a side note, Stats is going to work out just fine.  Who’d have thought?

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my sweet daughter and her band awards.  I’m not proud or anything…

Things I learned this week

I learned this week:

…that Historical Geology is not going to be a cake walk.

From the course material:

“The study of sedimentary rocks can involve many scientific disciplines.  Considerable knowledge of mathematics, biology, and physics is required to fully understand the mechanics and processes associated with weathering, transportation, lithification, the preservation of life forms, and the postdepositional alteration and changes that may occur.”

My horror at seeing the words “mathematics, biology, physics, and required” strung together in a cohesive sentence was only compounded by my professor’s declaration that Historical Geology is not for the “faint of heart.”  And, just when I thought for sure it couldn’t get any worse, I spied logarithms in lab assignment number two.

Excuse me while I vomit.

It seems college algebra has risen from its darkened mire to torment me once again.

Of course, maybe it won’t be so bad.  The first thing I thought after I typed the word “mire”:  low energy environment; muddy sediment with fine clay particles; decaying animal and plant matter; peat; bituminous coal.

…that I have been paying out-of-state tuition for the last several semesters even though I live in the state, and haven’t moved since my house burned down in 2006 – which was prior to my enrollment.   It took two full hours to convince them I haven’t been commuting in from some faraway place every semester – you know, to take advantage of their renowned education opportunities.

I’m not sure this is the spirit of efficiency Max Weber had in mind when he penned the six characteristics of bureaucracies.

…that Roger Federer has made it into the semi-finals of the Australian Open.  This is usually the point where he lets me down and has his ass handed to him by Rafe Nadal.  But maybe there is a ray of hope this year.  Federer’s chief rival is out with a knee injury.  Could this ensure victory for my favorite aging Swiss tennis pro?

I think.  Maybe.  Yes.

Wait?  What’s that?

Novak Djokovic defeated David Ferrer today to move into the finals at the Open?

Damn it.

Update:  Federer lost his semi-finals round to Andy Murray. 

<facepalm> 

Update 2:  Djokovic defeated Murray for the title.  I’m okay with that. 

…that Beyonce Knowles – aka Mrs. Jay Z – likely lip-synced the national anthem during President Barak Obama’s inauguration.  Big freaking whoop.  I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here, but do I need to remind the media that there are more important things happening in the country and around the world?  Don’t make me list them again.  I’ll do it, you know.

…that I have been nominated for a couple more blogging awards.  I am getting behind in my acknowledgements.  Let’s see if I can fix that.

From jazzytower over at thoughtsandentanglements, I received a nomination for the Beautiful Blogger Award.

versatile-blogger-300x300From Kevin at nittygrittydirtman, I received a nomination for the Liebster Award.

From Kitty over at kittyb78, I received a nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

If you guys keep this up, I’m going to get a very big ego and begin to channel my inner Sally Field again.  You know how messy that got last time.

(please, don’t stop)

Thanks to Jazzy, Kevin, and Kitty.  Go check out their blogs.  I’m sure you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Okay, as always these things come with rules and regulations.  I’m going to try to combine them to save space and time.  First, here are some interesting – or not – facts about me:

  1. I am a hardcore grudge holder.  I’m still mad at the snot-nosed brat who broke the personalized license plate my dad gave me for my bike when I was ten.  Her name is Melissa, and she is the devil.
  2. Last summer, I taught myself how to swim.  I’m not going to be competing in the next Olympics, but I can get myself from one end of the pool to the other without drowning.
  3. I still prefer traditional print material to digital, though not because I think physical books are somehow superior.  I just can’t seem to remember to charge my eReader.
  4. As an introvert, I find a lot of social interaction exhausting and awkward.   I’m learning to adapt, though there are times when I wish I had a t-shirt that read:  “Do this introvert a favor and shut the hell up.”  Too much?  I’ll have to work on that.
  5. I am addicted to the History Channel – H2, not the one that plays hours of Pawn Stars and Top Gear, the other one that plays marathons of Ancient Aliens.  A girl has to have standards, right?
  6. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist – until my dad told me I would have to board a boat, sail out onto the ocean, and dive into the water.  You know, with all those scary things that live underwater.  Yikes.
  7. I love picture frames.  The only issue – I tend to forget to have photos printed to put in them.  So, all around my house you will find frames displaying generic photos of people I don’t know.  I’m looking at one right now on a shelf in my office.  I should fix that.
  8. I like to cook, but I hate cooking dinner.

Okay.  That’s all I’ve got.  I’m not all that interesting.

Now some questions from Kevin:

  1. What is your favorite time of day and why?  My favorite time of day is first thing in the morning, just as the sun in coming up over the horizon.  I love the stillness that comes with dawn.  For me, there is nothing more peaceful. 
  2. How and when did you first discover your passion, whatever that passion is?  I first discovered my love for writing in the third grade when I penned a short story based on the Aesop’s Fairytale the Tortoise and the Hare.  I wrote it as a class assignment, and it wasn’t received well, but the process really did foment my passion for the written word.
  3. Hopefully, you’re familiar with The Breakfast Club for this question.  When you were in high school, in which social group did you best fit?  I suppose I was a social misfit, though likely not in the true sense portrayed in the movie.  I was always introverted, unpopular, and walked to the beat of my own drum. 
  4. Where do you write your posts and why did you choose that place?  I write anywhere I can find a quiet corner: at school in the common areas between classes, gymnastics practice, the bagel shop, the coffee shop, the library, the carpool lane.  Just about anywhere and everywhere.
  5. What always makes you laugh and why?  This is going to sound cliché, but my daughter makes me laugh.  She is probably the funniest person I know.  Sarcastic, witty, insightful, cynical, silly – she’s the whole package.  I look at her sometimes and wonder how I got so lucky.
  6. If you could appear on a televised talent show, what would your talent be?  Oh, geez.  I can wiggle my ears.  What kind of show do you go on to highlight that talent? 
  7. Which flower reminds you of happiness?  Big fat yellow sunflowers, bluebonnets, and poppies.
  8. What is your favorite book and why?  Pride & Prejudice.  What’s not to love? 
  9. It is important to eat your vegetables, but which vegetable to you always resist/avoid eating?  I honestly cannot think of a veggie I will not eat.  Fruit on the other hand – I hate apricots and mangos.
  10. What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day? I love to curl up in my favorite chair, with a cup of tea, and read something frivolous.
  11. Who is one celebrity, past or present, you would like to meet – what would you ask that person?  Jennifer Garner.   I’d love to ask her why she keeps making all of those pathetic Rom-Coms.  Put us all out of our misery and bring back Sydney Bristow. 

Passing these along is tough.  Not because I don’t know anyone deserving, but because I know a lot of people who are.  I’m going to stew on this for a while.

…this week’s awww moment of the week is brought to you by a girl and her dog.

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Things I learned this week

“What fun is it being cool if you can’t wear a sombrero.”

– Bill Watterson

Indeed.

I learned this week:

…that it is possible to earn an A in Geology.

Who knew? Not me.

Let’s see if I can do it again next semester.  I am feeling so froggy about it that I have registered for Historical Geology.

Take that scary science.

…that having a home office does not guarantee peace and quiet.  The night before my two most challenging finals, I retreated to my new sanctuary for a little study time.  I’m not sure when it happened or even how it happened, but an hour in I looked up at the sound of an awful ruckus and realized my space had been invaded by two cats, a dog, and a kid.  Really?  I had more solitude in the living room.

…that dropping my dog off at the groomers (until two months ago, I’d only owned cats) was a little like leaving a toddler at daycare for the first time.  There was lots of whining and crying and forlorn looks that said:  “Why, mommy-lady?  Why are you so cruel?  I’m really sorry I ate your slipper.  Really.  I am.  Don’t. Leave. Me.” Of course, as soon as I left the building, Kevin the groomer dude became Rocco’s new best friend and I was completely forgotten.

…that I still don’t get the allure of twitter.  I used to have an account a couple years ago – for about a week.  I didn’t understand the point, so I deleted it.  This week I am trying my hand at it again.  All of my writer friends are doing it.  I feel left out.

29 tweets and 23 followers later.

Um…yeah.   Still don’t get it.

I think it’s just beyond my capability.  All those cryptic codes and hash tags.  It makes no sense.  Plus, it seems like an awful lot of work to maintain.  I can’t even get myself together enough to blog regularly let alone come up with something witty and interesting to tweet several times a day – in less than 140 characters.

…that I am too old and snarky to spend 11 hours riding on a bus to and from Houston with a bunch of sugared-up middle schoolers without the benefit of coffee…or booze.

…that just when I thought human depravity had reached its peak, I am yet again proved wrong.  I cannot begin to fathom the level of grief felt by the families of those killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.  My heart aches for everyone involved.

I usually don’t like to delve too deep into political (or religious) ideologies on this blog.  I find that in this digital age where every Tom, Dick, and Harry has an opinion, a keyboard, and the luxury of anonymity such discussions deteriorate into hate filled tirades not intended to find resolution, but rather to shock and offend.

Having said that, I would like to have my say:

I believe in the Constitution. I believe in the Supreme Court’s authority to interpret the intended spirit of the Second Amendment.  I believe in an individual’s right to protect his/her person and property.  I do not, however, believe civilians have a need for military grade assault weapons or magazines that hold dozens of rounds.  I do not believe a ban on such weaponry would seriously impinge upon a citizen’s constitutional rights, and I think it’s passed time for rational dialogue on how we prevent the recurrence of such senselessness.  Of course, then there is the issue of the perpetrators themselves – the ones who yielded these weapons.  I do not have hard statistics, but I think a blind man could see that a good number of these shooters are plagued by some form of mental illness.  This is a problem.

How do we fix this?  I honestly do not have the answer to that question.  What I do know is this:  This will happen again unless we can set aside our egos and self-promoting ideologies and move toward a real solution through meaningful conversation and compromise.

…that I don’t have an awww moment of the week, so I will leave you with a photograph I took recently of the Day of the Dead bride and groom figurines I brought back from my last trip to Mexico.  I bought them to commemorate the 15 years my husband and I had been married (at the time).  We are now two weeks shy of our 17th anniversary.  I just love these little guys.  They make me smile.

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Feeling squirrelly?

I am.

I made it through another semester.

With all A’s.  Even in that damn Geology class.

Bring on the tequila.

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Not really.  I don’t drink all that much, but it sounds good.  Right?

Things I learned this week…and more

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

– William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

I learned this week…

…that finding a link between Truman’s Cold War policies and the civil rights movement is easy.  Writing a paper arguing the connection is not.  I can’t remember the last time I wanted to bang my head against my desk….oh wait…yes, I do.   Last semester when I wrote that paper about Thomas Hobbes and absolute power.

…that waiting for my professor to grade the above-mentioned paper is excruciating.  Generally speaking, I am a pretty patient person.  I don’t get too worked up about things, and I’m far from someone who requires instant gratification.  Except when it comes to my writing.  I think, in part, this speaks to the level of insecurities I have about my own ability as a writer.  I worked hard to construct a meaningful work, and when I submitted it to my professor, I was confident I hit the mark.  Now, more than a week and a half later, I’m having doubts.  Did I take the topic in the right direction?  Is it in-depth enough?  Is it too detailed?  Have I made a persuasive argument? Should I have picked this particular subject matter knowing my professor is a Cold War enthusiast?

As you can see, the wait is killing me.  I have gnawed my fingernails to the quick and am currently resisting the overwhelming urge to drop by his office unannounced or send him a string of stalker emails with the following:

“Have you graded my paper yet?  Have you?  Have you? Have you?”

“Did you like it?  You liked it, right?  Say you liked it.  You didn’t like it, did you?  Damn it.”

“Please, please, please Dr. P, grade my paper.  I need to know.  Like, now.  Before I die from not knowing.”

“Ugh!  Tell me!”

…that despite my best efforts, I’m still prone to bouts of resentment.  I like to think that I have evolved enough to rise above the pettiness and spite that comes with disdain, but in truth, I have not.   I’ve complained ad nauseam about my group project.  It’s been the bane of my existence for weeks now.  Last Friday, we did our final presentation.  Two of us earned an A.  The rest of the group…well…frankly, got a free A to boost their lagging course grade.  And yes, that boasts of bitterness.   And no, I don’t care.  I’m not feeling overly charitable at the moment.   I have marked them all off my Christmas cookie list.

…that I’m going to have to take some sort of statistics class.  That really pisses me off.    So much so, that I can’t bring myself to find any humor in it.  Give me a week or two.

…that my spare bedroom furniture will soon be gone and I will be the proud new occupant of my very own home office space.  I’m over the moon about it.  My family is pretty stoked, too.  They will finally be able to venture into the kitchen without being leveled by my stink eye for disturbing my creative vibe.

…that I’ve lost ten pounds since the beginning of the semester.  Stress is a hell of a diet plan.  I don’t recommend it.  I’m a firm believer in healthy weight loss – i.e. eating rabbit food and sweating like a pig.  However, I’ve got to say, it’s kinda nice knowing I’m going into the holiday baking season with a little wiggle room.   Bring on the snicker doodles!  And the chocolate peanut butter fudge, and the peppermint almond bark, and the cocoa ginger crisps…

…that I think I am looking forward to the holidays.

I’ll give you a minute to absorb that.

Okay.  Are you good?  No one needs medical attention?

I’m not a big fan of this time of year.  I dislike the clutter, the crowds, and the commerciality of it all.  Yes, this makes me a jerk.  I’m alright with that.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (because it bears repeating) – my ideal holiday involves sun, white sandy beaches, and a margarita – or ten.  I make no apologies for myself.

I feel a little different this year.  I find myself wanting to drag out that damn tree and all its messy trimmings.  I’ve bought a half a dozen Christmas gifts, scoped out a few more, and ordered my Christmas cards.  I even R.S.V.P.’d to an annual Christmas party I have successfully avoided…well…always.  Of course, I’m not sure this last one counts.  It’s being held in the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and I’ll admit to an ulterior motive in accepting the invite.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.  I fear someone might have forgotten to wash their hands and has now infected me with the Christmas spirit.  Not cool, people.  Not. Cool.

…that Princess Kate is going to have a baby, and is suffering from a bad bout of morning sickness.  Okay, I love the romantic notion of the Royals as much as the next gal, but is this really front page, above-the-fold, news?  Call me a killjoy (it’s okay, I’ve been called worse), but I think the looming fiscal cliff, the UN recognition of a Palestinian state (and the Israeli reaction), the absence of good faith negotiations and compromise in government policy making,  the implication that the Syrian government may be contemplating the use of chemical weapons, the moving of Patriot missiles to Turkey, and…oh yes…the new Egyptian’s president’s move toward a totalitarian government just a tad more important than a Royal bun-in-the-oven.

But what do I know.

…that I do love a story without a happy ending.  Why?  Because life is messy, and happy endings are the stuff of legends and fairy tales.  Cynical?  No.  Realist.

I just finished John le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.  It’s an early Cold War spy thriller set in 1963 when the Wall was new, Germany was divided, and Khrushchev ruled over the Soviet Union.  The thing I love about this story is that there is no clearly defined good guy or bad guy.  Certainly there is the fundamental clash of ideologies – individualism and democracy vs. totalitarian socialism, but what you see in this novel is a questioning of morality on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and the lengths each will go in order to advance their political belief systems.  I found it a fascinating study of human nature.

“A man who lives apart, not to others but alone, is exposed to obvious psychological dangers.  In itself, the practice of deception is not particularly exacting; it is a matter of experience, of professional expertise, it is a facility that most of us can acquire.” – John le Carre

“People who play this game take risks.  Fielder lost, Mundt won. London won – that’s the point.  It was a foul, foul operation.  But it’s paid off, and that’s the only rule.”  – Alec Leamas

And as always, I am amazed by le Carre’s ability to weave such an intricate story with arcing tension without the use gratuitous action.

…that this blog entry seems to be nothing more than one big negative rant-fest.  My inner rebellious self seems to be in a bad mood this week.  I shall have to work on that.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my silly dog, Rocco.  I went a little snap-happy with the camera this week and he let me know it was not cool.  It’s the same look my daughter gives me.

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Things I learned this week

“We must have a pie.  Stress cannot exist in the presence of pie.” – David Mamet

…that sometimes it takes the intervention of a professor to get the attention of a wayward group of young people.  As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been having a bit of trouble getting my project group to focus, take the assignment serious, and produce an A worthy presentation.  This week I’d had enough.  I called in the big guns and arranged (along with another student) for an early morning heart to heart, or as my husband likes to say, “a coming to Jesus meeting.”  Hopefully, they have seen the light and by the weekend, I will be in possession of a well-written, cohesive presentation.

Think good thoughts for me, please.  I have a feeling I am going to need them.

…that there is a band from Norway called Katzenjammer and they make me want to dance a jig in a pirate’s den – dressed like a tavern wench.  What?

Thank you to cresting with words for posting a great blog about them and giving me something new to add to my playlist.  Check them out.

…that Selena Gomez appears to have dumped Justin Beiber.

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of millions of tweens all over the world, heaving a collective sigh of relief.

…that for the first time in years, I will have an empty house during the week of Thanksgiving.   It was hard for me to make the decision to opt out, but it had to be done.  I’m not going to bemoan my overburdened semester again.  I’m sure you all are totally over my incessant whining.  Hell, I’m tired of listening to it myself.    However, it doesn’t change the fact that I simply do not have time for Thanksgiving and all that goes along with it.  It breaks my heart, because the best part of the holiday for me is spending a week my nephews. They’ve been a fixture in my house every Thanksgiving since…well…forever.

I guess I shall have to be content to think of them as I sit at my desk, hammering away at my African-American history paper, eating cold pumpkin pie, and listening to the deafening sound of an empty house.  It’s just not Thanksgiving without hearing:

Them:  “Aunt Peggy, Cory won’t let Megan and I have a turn!”

Me:  “I don’t want to hear it.  Figure it out.”

Them:  “Aunt Peggy, Cody won’t agree to the movie Megan and I want to watch!”

Me:  “You know the rules.  No unanimous decision – no movie.  Work it out.”

Them: “Aunt Peggy, Justin just farted on us!”

Me:  “Justin, stop farting.”

Them: “Aunt Peggy, what are you going to make for breakfast?  Uncle Nolan told us to ask for biscuits and gravy.”

Me:  “Tell Uncle Nolan to come ask me himself.”

Them: “Aunt Peggy, can we have chicken tacos for dinner?”

Me:  “Really?  Don’t you think we should worry about that after breakfast?  Maybe even after lunch?  Certainly not before I’ve had coffee.”

Them: “Aunt Peggy, you’re our favorite.  Will you make us banana pudding?  Not the diet kind. The kind that tastes good.”

Me (feeling all warm and gooey inside):  “Of course.  Just for you.”

<sigh>

I’m going to miss those boys this year.

…that I am finally going to sell the bedroom set in my spare bedroom and make myself a proper office.   Why haven’t I utilized this unused space before, you ask?  I have absolutely no idea.  Now, who wants to buy a 5 piece twin bedroom set in near stellar condition?

Anyone? Please? My unfinished novels are begging you…

…that for the first time since September 25th, I had the itch (and the courage) to take a peek at my WIP, Retribution.  I’ll be honest, I have had no real desire to delve into it.  The problems run deep, and at the moment, I don’t have the time, nor the energy to sit and sift through the rubble to find the usable stories that lies buried there.   In spite of this, I couldn’t help but read through the first chapter.  I needed reacquainted myself with my beloved Anna.  She hasn’t changed.  She is just as I left her – a staunch realist, who holds no illusions about the harsh world in which she lives.  She understands all too well the battle between good and evil is one fought in the shadows, on the edge of civility, with an armory stocked with less than honorable tactics.  To survive, and to ensure the survival of the free world, one must let go of any idealistic notions of morality.  Sometimes it is necessary to do the unthinkable, the reprehensible – all in the name of the greater good.  Of course, these things come with a price.  They always do.

I want to sit and do nothing but write today.  Unfortunately, I have obligations that take me in several different directions and none of them involve a computer or a notebook.  Poor Anna.  Destined to ignored for another week…at least.

…that the Christmas shopping season has begun.  I’m sure it will come as no surprise to all of you, but I am annoyed by this.  I like to take things as they come – one at a time, and in chronological order.  Just once, I’d like to get through Halloween and Thanksgiving without being reminded that Christmas is looming in the wintery fog, ready to pounce.  I know it’s there.  I can see it’s beady little eyes glowing in the dark.  It is quite unnecessary to throw decorated trees and twinkling lights in my path, or blister my ears with tired carols and annoying jingles.  There will be plenty of time for that after the turkey and pumpkin pie have been properly devoured and digested.  And, really, there is no need to worry dear retailer giants, I’m not going to forget the real meaning of the modern season.  Cold hard cash.  I have every intention of spending plenty of my money down at the local mall.  But not until after December 1st.  So stop bugging me.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this beautiful little girl who is celebrating her first birthday this week.

Alright, everyone all together now –  awwwww….

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Things I learned this week

“A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it.” 

John le Carre

I’m on a bit of an early Cold War era spy kick right now.  Two reason for this:  I am writing a paper for my African-American history class that explores the Cold War’s influence on the civil rights movement; and I recently picked up a couple of John le Carre novels at my local second-hand bookseller.

I don’t have the luxury of a lot of free time this semester.  I spend most of my days immersed in a bubbling vat filled with school, work, and family obligations.  However, I have been able to sneak in a few minutes here and there – mostly in the carpool line – to delve into the 1963 classic The Spy who Came in from the Cold and the dark world of aging British spy, Alex Leamus.  It’s not a book packed with action.  Indeed, most of the story plays out within Leamus’ head as he struggles to find moral justification for his life’s work.  I find his introspection fascinating.  John le Carre is a master of his craft, and I am more than a little jealous of the intricate and thrilling story he weaves – without blowing anything up.  Amazing.

Alright, so now that I’ve bored you to tears with my spontaneous book review, let’s get down to business.  I’ve learned a lot this week.  Some good; some not so much; all of it meaningful to my journey of self-discovery.

I learned this week:

that I missed having the BFF around.   This week she and I were able to meet in the middle of the day, on a whim, for a little coffee and girl talk.  It’s been years since we’ve lived close enough to do that.  It was a fabulous way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

(rant of the week)

…that sometimes I expect too much from of my higher education experience – and my professors expect too little from their students.   As I’ve said before, I am in the midst of the group project hell.  In general, I struggle with these sort of things because a) I am a control freak; b) anything less than perfection is failure; and c) I am an introvert who finds prolonged interaction with people I don’t know (or necessarily like) exhausting.  It is no different with this project, though I do generally like the members of the group.

This assignment is two part:  written paper and oral presentation.  Everyone has an individual part to play, but success is contingent upon cohesion.  Bearing this in mind, I took my portion of the paper to my professor for help with an unusual citation.  I would hate to get it wrong and the group grade suffer for my incompetence.

He took it from me, read the first line, looked up at me over his reading glasses and said:  “Are these your own words?”

I said:  “What?  Of  course, they are my own words.  Why on earth would you ask me that?”

I glanced down at my paper because, by this time I couldn’t remember what I had written to illicit such a reaction.  It was a simple opening statement, short and to the point.  No fuss, no muss.  No ten dollar words.  Nothing complicated or provocative.  As you might imagine, I went through a medley of emotions:  shock, indignation, anger.  He backtracked then, but the damage was done.  I walked away from the conversation feeling irritated, more than a little offended, and wondering why I was voluntarily subjecting myself to such nonsense.

Over the next few days, the group began to email me their portions of the paper for editing.  My professor’s cynical attitude solidified before my eyes.  It turns out that decent writing in these sort of survey courses is not necessarily the norm.  Needless to say, I was flabbergasted by the lack of quality, and dare I say, effort, I found in their work.  While I understand everyone has different writing skills and styles, I had expected by this stage in the game, they would have gained the ability to produce a passably intelligent product – with complete coherent sentences.  You know, with a noun, a verb, and the occasional adverb or two thrown in for good measure.

I was wrong.  Lesson learned.

…that my dog’s most prized possession is his raw hide chewy thing, and it is imperative that it be kept stashed in a secret spot until it is time to finish it off.   As a novice dog mom, I am perplexed by canine behavior.  Cats are easy and predictable.  They expect to be fed, acknowledged upon demand, and left alone to nap wherever they choose.  Dogs are different.  Mine reminds me of a mischievous toddler – left to his own devices, mayhem ensues.

While in the backyard this week, I  watched Rocco dig feverishly in a remote corner.  I went to investigate.  He was burying his chewy thing.  I’m not sure why he thinks such a drastic thing is necessary, but there was an air of desperation in his actions.  I suppose he could be worried about a cat uprising.  He is, after all, the only dog in a houseful of felines.  He would be stupid not to feel a little paranoia.  I’m sure even as I type this they are plotting something diabolical.  Hmmm…it seems I understand Rocco a little better than I thought.

…that Skyfall is the best damn Bond movie I’ve ever seen.  And I’ve seen them all.  Multiple times.  In the beginning, I wasn’t thrilled with the choice of Daniel Craig for the part.  When they announced it, I was peeved.  He didn’t fit.  He wasn’t right.  I swore I wouldn’t see Casino Royale.  I was convinced it would be complete shit.  Then  I saw it.  I was speechless.  Bond had evolved.  He was grittier, rougher around the edges.  There was a vulnerability emulating from him, giving him a new level of humanity and mortality.  Despite all of my efforts to the contrary, I liked the film- I liked Daniel Craig as Bond.  I went into Skyfall with high expectations.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with another review.  If you like this sort of thing, go see it for yourself.  Tell me what you think.

…that my daughter has suddenly decided that jeans with rhinestones on the back pockets is not so repulsive after all.  I’m not real sure what to make of this sudden shift, but rest assured there is a boy involved.

that last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by a ladybug I stumbled across in the garden.  He was an uncooperative subject who dodged my best efforts to shoot him from his more photogenic side.  It was almost as if he was mooning me.  Surely not.

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Things I learned this week…um…last month

“Ideologies have no heart of their own. They’re the whores and angels of our striving selves.”  – John le Carre

I’ve fallen off of the WordPress wagon again.

My tumble was (and still is) completely unavoidable and entirely of my own doing. You see, in my single-minded desire to realize my academic endgame, I constructed a semester devoid of that frivolous little thing called free-time. I don’t even have time to do the things I need to do.   I guess it’s true what they say about hindsight.  I’m sure I will find the humor in my predicament – eventually.  Perhaps when I have more time.

I learned this week (last month)…

…that the best part of fall has passed me by with nary a whisper.  Sure, I went to the state fair with my family and friends.  Sure, I ate a fried Samoa – it was yummy.  Sure, I hated the crowd and swore I would never go again.  But, that’s all I did to pay homage to my favorite of all seasons.  I didn’t schlep down to the local pumpkin patch with a horde of children in tow.  I didn’t spend hours meandering through rows of fat gourds looking for just the right one to guard my door against the ghouls and goblins of Halloween.  I haven’t taken the time to find where I stashed my fall decorations.  I haven’t bothered to darken the door of my favorite coffee shop in search of a full-fat, sugar-laced pumpkin spice latte.  There simply hasn’t been any time to do all of these things I love, and now the holiday season stands looming on the horizon, bearing down on me with an intensity that takes my breath away.   Perhaps this year would be a good time to make good on my threat to spend the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the New Year on a remote Caribbean beach sipping frozen margaritas and listening to Jimmy Buffett’s greatest hits.

…that dogs are weird.  I am a cat person, and have been for as long as I can remember.  My husband is a dog person.  He’s an accommodating man who loves me, and therefore has suffered a houseful of cats for some 17 years.  This week, we adopted a cute little dog from a local animal shelter.   We are still in the learning stages, trying to figure out how to be dog people.  I must say, our new addition to the family is a strange fellow who loves to roll around in the grass, steal acorns from under the oak tree in the backyard, and bury his gross chewy things between the couch cushions.   I do think I may love our sweet Rocco, though I do find my preoccupation with his bodily functions rather disturbing…and disgusting.

…that it is possible to earn an A on a Geology exam.  Could I actually pull an A for the semester in this class?  The hopeless dreamer in me says: Yes!  You can accomplish anything you set your sights on.  The nagging realist says:  Don’t be stupid (as he cuffs the hopeless dreamer in the head and slinks off to outline yet another mind numbing textbook chapter).

…that Ben Affleck’s Argo was everything it was supposed to be and much more.  I was born in the early seventies and the Iran Hostage Crisis was my first exposure to the ugliness that lived just beyond my safe haven.  Of course, at the tender age of 8, I was incapable of appreciating the magnitude of the situation; that this deplorable action was a calculated reaction to a foreign policy put in place decades prior.  Argo lays out the politics of the time, the road that led the Iranians down the path of revolution, and the role the American government played in the rise of the decidedly anti-Western sentiment that had enveloped the region.  There is an element of humor to this film that I was initially put off by given the seriousness of the subject matter, but as the story unfolded, and the tension began to build, it seemed to bring a much needed balance.   My only complaints:  the unnecessary cleaning up and “happy ending” of main character Tony Mendez’s personal life – completely irrelevant to the story at large, and Affleck’s homage to President Jimmy Carter that followed the closing credits.  While I understand old Ben’s undeniable biases, I felt that it was a little like a rewriting of history and an attempt to polish Carter’s tarnished presidency.  Of course, this opinion is largely brought about by my own biases, so my suggestion:  see it for yourself and drawn your own conclusions.  Next on my list of must see movies – Bond.  James Bond.

(Cue theme music now)

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Rocco, the newest member of the Isaacs’ family.  He is as sweet as he is adorable.  We are very lucky to have found him.

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Things I learned this week

Learn we may be with another man’s learning:  we can only be wise with wisdom of our own. – Michele de Montaigne

I learned this week…

…that a simple thing like a hair color touch up and a trim is enough to ease the sting of a trying week.  It won’t make up for the B (very low B) I earned on that Geology exam, and it won’t erase the craptastic essay exam (worse heap of horse manure I’ve ever produced) in my African-American History class, but at least I will feel pretty as I go forward into the aftermath.  I can weather anything life throws at me, as long as I have perfectly coiffed hair.

…that Andy Williams has died at the age of 84.  He is best known as the crooner of the classic Moon River, but to me, he will always be the voice of Christmas.  I’m not a big fan of Christmas – never have been.  It’s nothing personal, I’m not a holiday advocate, in general.  You can read more about that here and here.   My mother, however, loves the holidays and one of her prized possessions was an Andy Williams Christmas album (circa 1963) – on vinyl, of course.  From December 1st until December 26th, that record played ad nauseum.  It took a little time, but it grew on me.  I don’t listen to it very often anymore, but sometimes, when the moon is full and the stars are aligned just so, I add it to my playlist and dream of sugar plums, sleigh bells, and snow covered hills.  RIP Andy Williams.

…that football, at the middle and high school level, is serious business in my neck of the woods.  As a Texan, however transplanted, I should understand this, accept this, and even relish in the glory of the Friday night lights.  I, however, do not.  I’m not a fan of the game and, under normal circumstances, would never entertain the thought of spending my evenings sitting on a cold, hard metal bleacher, in the chilly night air, watching kids try to plow over one another in their quest to get an oblong ball from one end of the field to the other.   It’s really sort of barbaric, if you ask me.  And boring.  This year, however, I have a middle school age daughter in the band.  The band plays at the football games.  Ergo, I am spending a good deal of time sitting on a cold, hard metal bleacher watching a game I do not like.  Of course, if you know me, you know that I’m not really paying much attention to the action on field.  Instead, I prefer to watch the parents sitting around me.  I am treated to an extra special dose of crazy at these things because not only do I get to watch the football dads freak out over an erroneous off side’s call (I’m not even sure what that is), I get to observe my favorite exotic beast, the Cheer Mom, in her natural habitat.   That right there, makes it all worth it.

***Side note:  My daughter’s middle school band rocks!

that Alias has arrived on streaming Netflix.   Score.

…that after years of boycott, I am going to put aside my grudge against Ben Affleck and see his new movie.   Yes, I know this goes against my longstanding vow to loathe him for all eternity.  However, in the infinite wisdom that comes with age, I have found it is unrealistic to stringently adhere to such limiting assertions.  Sometimes, for reasons beyond my control, I must adapt and evolve, especially when it is most self-serving.  I love a good spy thriller – one that is smart, well-written, and keeps me on the edge of my seat from the opening frame until the closing credit.  By all accounts, his new film, Argo, will do just that.  I have thought it over most carefully and have come to the conclusion that I would not forgive myself if I were to allow this work to pass me by simply for the sake of a grudge – a very worthy grudge, but one I readily admit falls slightly to the right of juvenile.   Of course, this does not mean that I am going to abandon my feelings.  I will allow Mr. Affleck to wow me with his directorial (and acting) genius and then it’s back to business as usual.  My rationality and goodwill only go so far.

…that I have to participate in a group project/presentation for a political science class I am taking this semester.  At first, I was pissed off about this.  It seems to be a growing trend among professors, even though it really is not representative of workplace reality.  At least, not in my workplace.  I can’t tell you the last time I had to work in conjunction with a colleague on a project.  I am largely a solitary worker, responsible for my own successes and failures.   I like it that way.  It keeps me from committing acts that might be construed as felonies under the current rule of law.  Having said that…this week my group had its first meeting.  They’re an interesting lot – young and energetic, full of misinformed ideology and false hope.   I sit and watch them through the eyes of the cynic I have grown to be, wondering how they will make it out in the wilds of the real world.  This week, however, I realized that all of my fears were unfounded after one member of our six-man team failed to make an appearance at our little get together.  Group participation is key to our success and as such, any weak link will be detrimental to our overall grade.  My fellow classmates took it upon themselves to nip a potential problem in the bud, and informed our absentee member that if she didn’t produce her part of the project by the next meeting, she was out.  Period.  No excuses.  End of discussion.  Please pack you knives and go.

Alright, then.  I think they are going to be just fine.  And perhaps this group project will not complete suck, after all.

…that school is putting a damper on my creative endeavors.   I apologize for the neglect this blog has suffered since the beginning of September.  I fear it will not get better until December when I can finally put this hellish semester behind me.  The lesson to be learned here – Geology is an evil best endured solo without the added distraction and pressure of…well…everything else.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Underdog and the Chick-fila cow sharing an intimate moment during a recent football game.  Heartwarming, isn’t it?

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Things I learned this week

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”  – Winston Churchill

I learned this week…

…that I am not destined for a career in field geology.   For the last few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time staring at dozens of rocks and minerals of all shapes and sizes.   Some are colorful, some are not.  Some have texture, some do not.   Some have cleavage, some do not.  Some look like flaky sheets of tissue paper, most do not.   Some are lithified, some are not.  Some have foliation, most do not.  During my exhaustive hours of observation, I’ve come to one very troubling conclusion: Minerals look like rocks, rocks look like minerals, and the probability that I will correctly identify any of them on a test is pretty low.

…that the Back to the Future trilogy, even in digitally re-mastered Blu-Ray, has not withstood the test of time.  The 1980s was the decade that set our imagination on fire.  It was a period of pioneering advancement in cinematography that raised the bar for cutting edge special effects and gave us the likes of E.T., Aliens, The Terminator, The Empire Strikes Back, Tron, Howard the Duck (what?  you know you watched it), and yes, Back to the Future 1-3 .  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, technology has continued to advance exponentially and what were once thought to be works of shear genius are now nothing more than six or seven hours of mind-numbing product placements, cheesy pop-culture references, and a flying skateboard that will not die.

…that people are strange.   I know.  This is no great revelation, but it is something that has become more obvious to me in the last few weeks.  I am a creature of habit. I value consistency.  It gives me comfort, adds a measure of equilibrium to life’s imbalances, and, above all, allows me some semblance of control – however imagined.  As such,  every morning on my way to class, I stop for breakfast at the same coffee shop.  Without fail, I order a toasted whole wheat bagel with light cream cheese and a medium coffee – heavy on skim, light on sugar.   Usually, I keep to myself.  I may be an early riser, but I am far from a traditional morning person.  I try my best to avoid interaction with people until it is absolutely necessary.  However, sometimes all of my efforts prove in vain.  This week I was ambushed, set upon while I innocently fixed my coffee, by a weird little man in a bright yellow polo.

He stood shoulder to shoulder with me as he added milk to his large coffee and said:

“I worked until 5 this morning.”

<eye roll>

Me:  “Oh?”

Him:  “Yes, and do you know what I read while I was on a conference call.”

<sigh>

Me: “Um…hmm.”

Him: “That in a few years we will all have cars that drive themselves.”

<weirdo alarm has been activated; move calmly, yet swiftly, to the nearest exit>

Me:  (As I reached for a lid and a useless cup sleeve) “Good to know.”

I’m going to have to find value in variety.

…that I’ve been nominated for a couple of blogger awards.  I know it’s probably a bit self-serving of me, but I do love a good blogger award.  Why, you ask?  Justification? Validation? Narcissism?  All of the above.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Who doesn’t like that?

The two awards, The Booker Award and One Lovely Blog Award, were both given to me by Wordsurfer over at Cresting the Words.  I sincerely thank you, Wordsurfer, for the honors.   Go check out her blogs Cresting the Words and Cresting the Sounds.  One deals primary with writing and such; the other music.  Good stuff. You won’t regret it.

As is usually the case, these awards come with rules and guidelines.  The Booker Award dictates that I must share my top five favorite books of all-time.  I’m going to ponder this one a bit and get back with you.  The One Lovely Blogger Award asks that I reveal 7 things about myself.  Here goes:

  1. I am an excellent Canasta player.  I will kick your ass.  Fear me.
  2. The smell of Ketchup makes me want to vomit.
  3. Alias is my all-time favorite television show.  I blame Ben Affleck for it’s demise after only 5 seasons.  I will never forgive him for that.  Ever.
  4. I will choose a spy thriller (movie or novel) over a chick-flick (or lit) every time with one exclusive exception – Pride & Prejudice.  There is just not enough Lizzy and Darcy in the world.
  5. I don’t eat most sauces, condiments, or dressings.
  6. Fall is my favorite season.
  7. I love beets.

Now to pay it forward.  The rules say I need to pick 15.  I never follow this rule.  I like a more manage number, and today I feel three is more my speed.

Kim the FanGirl:  She loves Florence + the Machine just as much as I do and writes about it (among many other things, of course).  She is a beautiful writer with a flare of description that will leave you breathless.  Check her out.

Julie at Word Flows:  I’ve given her a couple of these blogger awards but she remains on my short list.  She’s a great writer with the enviable ability to amass an impressive word count in a remarkable short span of time.  Check her out and follow her whirlwind journey.

Leanne Cole:  She is a photographer from down under.  I enjoy her work very much. Go check her out.

That’s all for now.  I reserve the right to revisit this issue at a later date.

…that last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my mother’s cat, Domino.  She’s a beautiful cat with a bi-polar personality.  I had to be quite sneaky in order to get this shot.  I’m sure such a deed will not go unpunished.  Even now, she is likely plotting my demise – something slow and painful.

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Water droplets

I’ve been busy.  This semester is shaping up to be brutal.  I blame the science. 

Today, I spent a great deal of time trying to differentiate between unconformity, disconformity, angular unconformity, and nonconformity as they pertain to the calculation of geologic time.

I know, right.

I suffered a complete brain short.

So, I went outside.

Do you know what I found?

Water droplets. 

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Enjoy. 

I did.

Things I learned this week

In nine lifetimes, you’ll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you.”

– Michel de Montaigne.

This week I learned…

…that after taking the entire summer off, I am having a hard time acclimating to the new schedule.  Actually doing things – every single day, all freaking day long – is hard.

that Andy Roddick is retiring from the sport of tennis.

(insert a hearty “YES!” and an Arsenio Hall worthy fist pump here)

I am neither shocked nor saddened by this news.   He’s never been one of my favorite players.   In fact, I really sort of loath and despise him with every fiber of my being – strictly from a fan/professional athlete perspective, of course.  I imagine he’s a perfectly lovely person.  Really.  Surely, he doesn’t throw juvenile temper tantrums alaJohn McEnroe when he’s not on the court.  I doubt his wife would put up with such behavior any more than his tortured circuit line judges.  Then again, I could be wrong.  It’s been known to happen.  Maybe he is, indeed, a sniveling snot in every aspect of his life, not just during game play.    Hmmm….I suppose, I should be gracious and acknowledge his contributions to the sport, but, yeah…I’m not feeling it.  I bid you farewell, Mr. Roddick and if you could do me one small favor as you fade quietly into oblivion, please take Rafe Nadal with you.  Please.  Thank you.

that, speaking of tennis, Roger Federer is out in the quarter finals of the U.S. Open.

(sigh)

…that it takes roughly six months to recover from a yoga-induced hip flexor injury. Good to know.  Of course, it would’ve been nice to have this bit of insight eight months ago.  I could have avoided the whole damn mess by choosing to fulfill my physical education credit with something a tad less ambitious – like “walking for fitness.”  They even offer it on-line.   What is it they say about hindsight?  I suppose I should tuck this lesson way for my blog entry “Things I learned in my 40s.”

…that my husband sometimes says things that cause me great concern.  This week, while driving in the car, he was complaining about a series of dysfunctional ROMs he recently downloaded for his cell phone.   I am ashamed to say that I was only half listening.  I’m not big on technology.  It all seems like a bunch of voodoo magic to me, and besides, I’d heard that song and dance before:

Week one:  Download sparkly new ROM for phone; profess love for said ROM;  it’s the best ROM ever.

Week two:  This ROM is shit.  Everything is totally effed up.  My phone keeps rebooting. I’m going to have to find a new ROM.

It’s cyclical and as predictable as the rising sun.  The ROMs are revolutionary in the beginning, but inevitably they all end up being worthless pieces of buggy shit.  However, this week, my husband figured out the source of his problems. It seems that all this time, he was…

…flashing dirty.

I hate it when that happens.

…that I must continually remind myself that change is good; and the desire to step outside of my comfort zone is what drove me back into the classroom.  This semester I am taking a geology course and a discussion based history course.   While I find the earth’s processes interesting, and have been known to tune into the science channel on occasion, it’s just not my thing.  History, on the other hand, is my thing.  I love it, perhaps even more than writing (EGADS – say it isn’t so!).  However, the discussion driven format of this particular course goes against the grain of my introverted personality.   I struggled with the decision to take this class, even put it off two semesters.  In the end, my desire to learn the covered material over-ruled any anxiety.   Plus, the professor teaching the course is one of my favorite.  He is a character unto himself who rails against our over-regulated, liberal society and the established state mandated educational bureaucracy that dares to dictate his curriculum, lock him into an unworkable timeline, and require he complete a laundry list of menial administrative tasks.  All of which he finds idiotic and nonsensical.  Unfortunately, as we close out the second full week of the semester, I find myself pained at the prospect of attending this class.  The unorganized format has increasingly dissolved into a full out free-for-all complete with irrelevant  arguments, wandering points, and, on occasion, rampant hostility.  All things that set my teeth on edge and have my inner rebellious self fantasizing about jumping up onto a desk, shaking my fist in the air, and screaming STFU!

Of course, I’m sure that would adversely effect my GPA.  Bummer.

…that after a two week absence from WordPress, it is absolutely impossible to read all of the blog entries sitting in my Reader.   I shall have to do better.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little guy.  I found him feverishly stowing pecans in his secret hideaway.  As I have a nifty new lens, I stalked him with my camera until he caught on to my game and promptly outsmarted me by disappearing into the high branches of an old live oak.

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Things I learned this week…and last

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

– Albert Einstein

This week I learned…

…that sometimes I do stupid things.  I know, hard to believe, but true nonetheless.  This week, I beamed myself in the head with my own car door.  I blame the rain – and my vain desire to protect my freshly straightened hair from falling victim to the frizz factor.  What’s the lesson to be learned here?  Making a mad dash from the house to the car through a steady drizzle with my head down doesn’t help me avoid getting wet, it just means I will inaccurately judge the angle of the opening door.  Ouch.

that you will never catch me driving along a rural Norwegian road at midnight.  It seems in doing so, one runs the risk of literally running into a moose – and a bear.  Crazy, I know. However, one unlucky motorist in Norway did just that.  I haven’t written a Man vs.. Beast blog in several months, but I can’t help to think that this incident lends credence to my long standing assertion that the animals are conspiring to take over the world.  Obviously, the moose and the bear were intent on a carjacking.  The question is:  Why?  Perhaps an errand for the Great Whites lurking just off the New England coast?  It bears consideration.  (See what I did there?)

…that the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is fabulous.  As one who is enthralled with history, especially biblical history, this exhibit gives incredible insight.  It was definitely worth schlepping an hour or so west, through rush hour traffic, white-knuckle construction zones, and torrential rain.   As I said in a previous blog, my family was wholly uninterested in tagging along.  That’s alright, I bear them no ill will.   I recognized the glazed over look they got in their eyes whenever I mentioned going.   It’s the same look I get when my husband mentions that Dream Theater is in town.   I shudder at the very thought…

…that my daughter is turning into a cynic.  This week, while we were camped out on the living room floor watching the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, a commercial for a popular adjustable mattress aired.  It boasted that 93% of users saw improved sleep.  Out of the blue, my daughter says:  “Sucks for that other 7%.”  Indeed, it does.

…that the war on women continues.  I don’t like to infuse politics into my blog.  I firmly believe political ideology is something that should never be thrust upon the unwilling.  I think doing so polarizes the nation, and breeds hostility and hate.  I believe the same can be said for religion.  I usually make a point to avoid the discussion of both.  Having said that, I’d like to take this opportunity to address something that I find troubling:  The far right’s preoccupation with the mysterious inner workings of the female reproductive system.  I’m not really sure where they received their general knowledge of anatomy, but I’d like to reassure the male establishment that my girly parts (and those of every other woman in America) do not have mystical superpowers bent on world domination.  While I agree, that might be kinda cool, and would perhaps lessen the sting of the dreaded “monthly inconvenience”, it is, in fact, not possible for a vagina to take down nations.

I think it’s time to focus on a more imminent threat to the country’s well being – a broken economy.

On a similar note:  If you’d like to have a good laugh,and have an appreciation for the ridiculous, check out the Borowitz Report over at The New Yorker.  Maybe not for everyone, but I sure do get a good giggle out of it every now and then.

…that classes begin again next week.  As always, I’m filled with a host of emotions: excitement, trepidation, annoyance.  I am taking a freshman level science course this semester.  I’m not thrilled.  Science is one of those things that I could do without.  I understand the relevance, even appreciate its need in molding our young people into individuals who can competitively carry our country into the future.  I get that.  I just don’t want to sit through a three hour lab with said young people.  Does that make me old?

…that a See’s Candies has opened up inside my local mall.  This is bad.  Very, very bad.  But it’s so very, very good.

…that I’ve been nominated for the “Addictive Blogger Award” by Katy Brandes.  I always get a big kick out of these awards.  It’s the narcissist in me, I’m sure, but it’s always nice to receive a bit of acknowledgement from one’s peers.  Thank you, Katy.   It is greatly appreciated and puts a big smile on my face.  And, I’ll admit, found me standing in front of my bathroom mirror channeling Sally Field:  “You like me!  You really, really like me!”

Just kidding.  About the Sally Field part – not about the the appreciation part.  I do sincerely love that you may be addicted to my blog.

As always, these things must be paid forward.  The list of blogs I find addictive is endless, but in the interest of brevity, here are the first five that come to mind:

Cosy Travels of a Viking and his Kitten – a chronicle of European travel highlighted by some truly beautiful photographs.

The Writer’s Advice – lots of writing advice with a sarcastic edge I enjoy.

Word Flows –  lots of writing inspiration.  One of my favs.

Mike Osborn Photo – some great photographs from across the pond.

The Sugarlump – love those cats!

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment.  I was going to bring you a fabulous photograph of the Monarch butterfly I saw this week at a local nature preserve.  Unfortunately, I never got a clear shot because my lovely daughter photo-bombed me.  So, in retaliation, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my mischievous daughter.  Enjoy.

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Things I learned this week

I learned this week..

…that I’ve successfully conquered another semester – with all A’s, thank you very much.  It’s a great feeling, like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and the road to a carefree summer is now within my grasp.  As I drove away from campus yesterday, I was feeling good.  I had the windows down, the wind in my hair, and my new Sting compilation cranked up for the whole world to hear.  I’m not a believer in a lot of intangible things, but sometimes, ever so subtly, the universe speaks to me.  As if on cue, a song with a distinct island vibe began to play.   The hustle of midday traffic faded away and I found myself standing on a beach with velvety sand between my toes, a warm sea breeze caressing my skin, and a frozen rum-filled concoction in my hand.  Swaying in time to the intoxicating rhythm, I danced in slow drunken circles across the sand, feeling blissfully numb, and raised my glass in one final salutation to the sun as it descended into the abyss…

HONK!

Sigh.

Reality bites.

Yes, I realize that this imagery is probably not what Sting intended when he wrote Love is the Seventh Wave.  More likely his intention was to protest Cold War proliferation and all of the evil that went along with it.  I’m going to choose to overlook that (and the ridiculous 80’s video) and focus on the drunken beach vacation aspect of it instead. 

…that yoga for a grade is over.    Of course, as one final insult to the emotional injuries we’ve sustained over the course of the semester, my instructor decided it would be fun to have a party on the day designated for our final exam.  If you will remember from last week, we had our final early.  We were instructed to bring food – preferably something healthy, in order to keep with the spirit of the class.  We all brought store-bought cookies.  It was our little bit of revenge.  Of course, revenge is one of those things in life that tends to come back and bite you in the ass.  In response to our cookie rebellion, she made us watch the video she made of our final.    Oh, the agony of defeat.

…that in all the years I’ve watched the summer Olympics, I have never bothered to sit through any of the Equestrian events.  It’s not that I don’t like horses, I do.  It’s just that I’d much rather watch paint dry than watch a horse and rider navigate through a mindless obstacle course.  This year it will be different.  I don’t usually watch real-time television.  I rely heavily on my DVR.  But the other night I happened to catch Rock Center when I was supposed to be studying for my Sociology exam.  Harry Smith (who I really sort of despise) did a story about a horse and rider who have both been through serious hell and have barely lived to tell about it.  Needless to say, I bawled like a baby and have now committed myself to watching every Equestrian event these two will compete in.  I feel that, as an American, it is my patriot duty.   Check out Harry Smith’s story Horse Power, but grab a box of tissues first.

…that the Blue Jay who visits the feeder in my backyard teases and taunts me.  For weeks, I’ve seen him feeding – nearly every day.  For weeks, I’ve tried to sneak a few photographs of him.  For weeks, he’s alluded me.   No worries, though.  I will prevail…if its’ the last thing I do.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my fat cat, Rollo.  Aptly named, he is enjoying a little nap in the warm afternoon sun.  What a rough life he leads.

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Things I learned this week

This week I learned…

…that sometimes being a responsible adult sucks.  It’s that time of year again when everything converges and there just isn’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.  There’s certainly no time to do the things I want to do – read, write, sacrifice a few brain cells sitting on my couch wearing holey pjs, eating ding dongs, and watching everything the Bravo channel can throw my way.   It’s just the nature of things, and usually I am very good at accepting that this is the journey I chose to embark upon – you know, that whole personal growth bullshit.  This year, however, my rebellious self seems to be having a little trouble keeping his eye on the prize.  Spring is warm, sunny, and intoxicating, and the allure of it all, is just so damned tempting.   So, what do you do when you have a nagging conformist on one shoulder and a mocking rebel on the other?  You lock the conformist in the closet, and you go out to play.  Duh.  Of course, these little bursts of self-indulgence are not without their consequences.   I’ve spent the last week or so digging out from a stack of homework so deep it surely rivals Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stouts’ garbage pile.

…that after sitting through a lecture on sleep deprivation, I realize that I should probably reevaluate my anti-napping ideology.  My husband will be relieved to hear this, and I’m sure he will take full advantage of it should I decide to change my stance.

…that just when I thought I might actually miss “yoga for a grade”, the instructor goes and does something that makes me want to roll up my mat, go home, and say screw the GPA.  From the onset, this class has been disorganized – and that, I feel, is being generous.  Goals and expectation were never established and we’ve had very little guidance in the actual fundamentals of yoga practice.  All of these shortcomings and failures could be overlooked, indeed forgiven, because for the most part, I enjoyed the physicality of the class.  We did, of course, have that little incident early on with the humiliating quiz – you remember, the one where we had to each perform a single pose at the front of the room for our classmates to guess. Charades for a grade.   Couldn’t get much worse than that, right?  Guess what?  I was wrong.  I should have seen it coming, but alas, I did not.  Two weeks before scheduled final exams, she dropped the ultimate bomb on us.  It was nuclear.   It seemed our final exam would require us to come up with a sequence of yoga poses, combine them into cohesive segments, and then teach them to the class.   But wait, there’s more.   We had just two class periods to get with a partners, choose the poses, arrange the poses, practice the poses, and choose our accompaniment music because she wanted to do our final a week early.  Oh, and by the way, our performances would be videotaped so that we could relive our most humiliating moment at the end of semester party she’d planned.  I’m sure I will see the humor in all this someday – when the scars have healed.

…that there are few things in life more enjoyable than sitting poolside with my BFF, a little drunk on wine, trading child rearing war stories.

…that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died.  There have been a lot of notable deaths of late, but I find his to be one of the saddest.   I can’t say that I am an ardent fan of Beastie Boys’ entire body of work, but their first album brings back fond memories of my favorite summer.  It would be my last carefree summer; not long after, the reality of adulthood reached up and bitch slapped me.

…that the three seat belts in the backseat of my car are deceiving.  It is nearly impossible to fit three passengers back there.  Guess I should have considered that before I volunteered to carpool a Sunday field trip to Boyd.

…that I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by my fellow writer Julie over at Word Flows.  It’s always so nice to receive an acknowledgement from one’s peers.  It is doubly nice when it comes from someone you admire and respect.  She, herself, is one inspiring lady.  Go check her out.

…that my work in progress, Retribution, has evolved into something quite different from my original vision.  I blame the outlining.

…that when you add a warm late spring day, a community swimming pool, and a tennis ball together with a group of twelve-year-old boys you will get stupidity to the ninth power.

…that last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little creeper who has taken up residence on my back patio for the duration of the season.

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Things I learned this week…

I learned this week…

…that oral presentations aren’t all that bad.   (insert cheesy laugh track here)  I’m just kidding.  Oral presentations suck.  However, they do get easier.  And by easier, I mean that I only wanted to pass out once or twice and the uncontrollable shaking only lasted for half of the class period this time.  Progress.

…that middle school crushes are complicated.   My daughter likes a boy.  He likes her back.  Sounds simple so far – trust me it’s not.  Just getting to that admission was mind-blowing.  Now, as Valentine’s Day approaches, the question of what to give this boy in celebration of the Hallmark holiday has surfaced.  Card?  Stuffed bear? Box of chocolates.  This week, I quietly trailed behind her in the seasonal aisle of my favorite big box store as she grappled with this difficult decision.  After twenty minutes or so, she decided on an oversize Hersey Kiss.   I thought it was a good call.  Getting a boy something too affectionate or personal at this stage of the game is risky business.   Equally risky, I’ve discovered, is the mode of delivery.   She tells me that she can’t very well roll up to the park on her bike and hand him a giant Hersey Kiss in front of his friends.   That would be the kiss of death (har har).  No, she’s given this a lot of thought, consulted with many of her little girlfriends.  The general consensus among the great minds – she should most definitely drop, ring, and run.    This should prove interesting.

…that I am an introvert.  This is not a revelation,  I took the Myers-Brigg personality test years ago – several times, in fact, just in case I was doing it wrong.   I am a ISTJ and scored 1oo% introvert every single time.    As I age, I’ve learned to deal with it, and what I once viewed as a near crippling personality flaw, I’ve grown to accept and even, embrace.  This enlightenment, if you will, has aided in my journey of self-discovery, given me the courage to try new things, and overall, helped me grow comfortable in my own skin.  Susan Cain’s book Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is a must read for introverts trying to find their place and purpose in this life.   I’ve got a list of folks who could use a copy of this book.  Maybe if they understood me a bit better they would stop bugging me to speak up and contribute to debates I find pointless and beneath me.  Yes, I know – I am an elitist introvert.  Or so my husband tells me.  Sue me.

that Nicholas Cage is not a vampire.  This is good information.  For a minute there, I was worried.

…that another great musical voice has been silenced.  I am saddened and aggrieved by the loss of Whitney Houston.  Premature death, no matter the circumstances, is a tragic thing and one that deserves a measure of understanding and compassion, if for no other reason, than for those who are left behind to grieve the unimaginable loss of a loved one.

…that four weeks into “Yoga for a Grade” I find myself looking forward to the class.  I still think the instructor is a flake, and that she has failed to read the college’s catalog description of the course.  There is no way this class is beginner level, but I’ve kept up, and though my hamstrings have not quite gotten with the program, I feel my core strengthening and my stamina increasing.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I enjoy this class, but I don’t dread it.  Now, that might change if she makes us do another elementary level art project.   That was just humiliating.

***Warning!  Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that nothing make me angrier (and this is a bold statement because there is a lot of things that make me angry) than being manipulated and threatened, no matter how veiled.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable, and quite photogenic, kitty getting all spruced up for a night out.  I don’t know the source of this photo because my husband shared it with me.  If you don’t smile at this picture, then you need to see a doctor about that heartless whole in your chest.  Enjoy.

Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday Update

No, I’m not delusional.  I do, in fact, realize that it is Monday.

I’ve written a lot this week…

(golf claps all around)

…just not much in the way of fiction.

(boo)

Nope, this week has been devoted to the life and times of Thomas Hobbes.  The excitement is overwhelming, I know.  I feel largely the same and  I’ve only myself to blame.  As a returning student, and one familiar with this project, my Western Civilization professor allowed me (and two others) to pick my topic, in exchange for presenting first.  There is always a catch.  I tried to choose wisely, but my choices were limited.  He gives out topics as they relate to his lectures and schedules the presentations throughout the semester to coincide with such.  Ergo, I had a very short list from which to choose.  Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, or the War of Austrian Succession.

Hmmm…

I must admit, this is not necessarily my favorite part of Western history – the English Civil Wars and the Enlightenment.   I much prefer Imperial Rome or the Renaissance or the Cold War to the happenings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  But,  such is life.

I didn’t particularly liked this Hobbes fellow, though I understand his place in western society and his contemporary relevance.  I wouldn’t want to live in his world, or be ruled according to his Leviathan.  I fear it would be a dank and dismiss existence.  Having said that, in my research, I discovered some rather humanistic qualities about him that I found intriguing.  He played tennis until he was 75, he loved to sing, and he wrote poetry – not good poetry, but it is something.

So…my goals…

Last weeks goal – make progress on short story:  Goal met.

I finished the set up, brought a few pages for my writing group to critique, and outlined the next section of the story.  Hopefully, I will be able to decipher the chicken scratch that is my handwritten outline.

This week’s goal – finish up the next section and present it to the writing group for critique.

Wish me luck this week.  I am not a confident speaker, in fact, it scares the shit out of me. This time tomorrow I will be sweating like a pig, shaking like a leaf, and wishing the buzzing in my ears would stop so that I could hear myself speak.

Things I learned this week…

This week I learned…

…that nothing strikes fear in my heart, or pisses me off more than being surrounded by young, obnoxious kids in a freshmen level class.  This semester I am taking Intro to Sociology.  It is a low-level course and thus, it is expected that the majority of the class will be under the legal drinking age.  I knew this going in.  I was prepared for it.  Turns out one can’t really prepare for a surprise invasion by six hockey players.  They sauntered in five minutes after the professor began to take roll, and proceeded to occupy all of the seats at my table.  I can’t tell you what to expect this semester in Sociology. I can’t tell you when our first exam will be, or what our first writing assignment entails.  However, I can tell you that the six hockey players are all good buddies and play for the same team – their camaraderie is nauseating;  Collin College is just a pit stop – they fully expect to be scouted soon; they all think that Sociology is going to be a stupid class; they are all in agreement that it is a good thing that this professor will not be grading attendance – I myself can’t attest to this as I was unable to hear that part of the introduction; and one of them insists that he is from England and can turn his accent off at will – I call bullshit on this one.  If he’s English, I’m the queen of Denmark.  It’s going to be a long semester; and before it’s over, I might need bail money – and a good defense attorney.

…that Rick Perry has come slinking back home to Texas.  I am relieved by this. I don’t look forward to his continued leadership, but at least I can watch the nightly news without seeing his smug mug and incompetent gaffs splashed all over every channel.

…that the librarian who mans the circulation desk at my college library conspires against me, I just know it.   I am a huge advocate of their online card catalog system that allows a student to electronically browse all of the districts books, media, etc.  I can order any book I choose – as long as it is not checked out – and it will be delivered to my campus.   All I have to do is go pick them up.  I love this and take advantage of it every change I get.   Unfortunately, the books seldom arrive at the same time.  This is where the conspiracy comes in.   I will pick up part of my order with the expectation that the rest will not be delivered until a later date.  Inevitably, twenty minutes after I’ve left campus, the librarian will call me to tell me the rest of my books have arrived.  She does this to me every semester.  She did it to me again on Friday.  I think she holds my books behind that circulation desk of hers and waits until she knows I am too far away to turn around and come back.

…that my new “Yoga for a grade class” is going to very interesting.  Very touchy-feely; much like I imagine group therapy to be.   I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m not much of a “kumbaya” kinda gal.  I’d rather remain anonymous, quietly sitting in the back of the class assessing my classmates.  An impossibility in this one.  On the bright side, I’m sure I will benefit from the five minutes of meditation that will close out each class period.  That just might keep me from doing harm to the hockey team in Sociology.  Or, at the very least, allow me to contemplate a proper disposal method.

…that after five months, I finally finished the third installment of Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series.    I don’t want to give the impression that it wasn’t a good book.  It was.   Great, in fact.  I just have a very hard time committing myself to doing nothing but reading.  Yes, I can hear my fellow writers groaning at me.  Shut up.   I always have something else that takes precedence.  Since Christmas, I have been determined to finish it and I had to resort to an audio-book to get the job done.   That worked out so well, that I’ve decided that audio-books are not cheating after all and am going to listen my way through the rest of his books.  I am already a third of the way through the next one.  The only problem I have with audio-books is that sometimes in the carpool line when I am watching the moron’s around me, I lose track of the story and have to back up.

…that a new spy thriller has quietly been released when I wasn’t looking.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  It’s based on the 1974 novel of the same name by John le Carre.  Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth and who?  Benedict Cumberbatch?  My new favorite Sherlock Holmes?  Where do I buy my ticket?

…that I am going to have to step away from Retribution or else I will end up burning it.  I tried the weekly word count push, but if the story isn’t there, it isn’t there.  No matter how much I desire to finish it, I feel that I am force it.  I think I’ve just made it too complicated and I lack the experience to work through.  Does this make me feel like an utter failure?  Yes, and I don’t want to talk about it.

…that upon editing this post, I notice that I had a lot of negative energy this week.  Hmmm…

…that – in trying to find something a little more positive – the smell of new leather in a new car is almost as good as the smell of rich, dark chocolate – but without the caloric consequences.

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable baby hippo.

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Source:  http://pinterest.com/pin/138345019772779073/

Things I learned this week…

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“Que sais-je?”
Michel de Montaigne

I learned this week…

…that it is necessary, from a quality control standpoint, to sample all of the treats I bake before giving them out to my friends and family.  Unfortunately, my stomach did not get the memo that we would be ingesting such a large amount of sugar and fat.  He was not amused.

…that baking and writing don’t mix.  The other morning, I packed my daughter off to school, made a mental list of the things I needed to get done and set a short-term goal for myself.  I wanted to accomplish at least two things before the sun went down: 1) finish baking cookies and fudge for my coworkers; 2) write between 2,000 and 4,000 words for my novel, Retribution.  I arranged a makeshift writing space at the kitchen table with my laptop, steaming cup of coffee, plot diagram, and research notebook – all within easy reach.

(Why is Robert Burns whispering in my ear…again?)

I finished the cookies.  I did not, however, write the intended number of words.  I eked out a grand total of 157 of them.  Disappointing, but I learned a valuable lesson.  I can either bake or I can write, but I cannot do both.

…that there is just something about logging onto the college website to find my grades staring back at me, on the homepage.  I get all gooey inside from the tremendous sense of accomplishment I feel at successfully completely another semester, with a near perfect GPA intact.  Good thing, too.  I’m paying a butt load of money, out-of-pocket, for this education; all in the name of “finding myself.”  (Cue eye roll from my dear, supportive husband).

…that sitting next to the Christmas tree at my daughter’s gymnastics practice is a bad idea.  A very, very bad idea.  You would think that I would remember this from years of past experience.  After all, we’ve been going to the same sport’s center for the last four years.  But alas, no.  I am a creature of habit.  I have a favorite chair and when it is unoccupied, I will sit there every time, without fail. Unfortunately, during this time of year, the chair sits right next to the Christmas tree.  Needless to say, because of my inability to adapt, I spend most of practice shooting the stink eye at small children for nearly toppling the tree, in their attempts to reach the candy canes that are scattered among the branches.  The candy canes they are forbidden from touching.   I’d love to have a nice long heart to heart with the genius who thought up that decorating idea.

…that the movie Hanna is probably the worst film I have ever seen.  I don’t even know where to begin with this one.  But considering the fact that I’ve just spent the better part of two hours watching it – two hours of my life I will never get back – I think I will pass on a more detailed review.  I’ve wasted enough time on it already.  Now I’ve wasted your time by telling you that I’m not going to waste my time.  I feel better now.  Misery loves company.

…that the mall on the last full shopping weekend before Christmas is a frightening place.

…that Hollister is not a store, it’s my worst nightmare come to life.  Before this weekend, I had never stepped foot in that store.  I’ve always been put off by the sounds and smells wafting from it’s cloaked interior.  However, it is Christmas and there is someone on my list who requested a gift card from this establishment.  Upon entering, and after my senses adjusted to the loud music and overwhelming stench of cologne, I was struck by how very dark it was in there.  Indeed, so dark that I nearly tripped over several small children and a salesperson.  I’m not sure I understand their marketing strategy.  How the hell do they expect customers to buy a product they can’t see?  Seems pretty fishy to me, like maybe they don’t really want you to know what you’re buying.  Or maybe the store is secretly a front for a special black ops division of the CIA.  That must be it, and now that I think about it, I’m sure I caught a glimpse of Sydney Bristow, disguised as a college student, just before she slipped into one of the “dressing rooms.”

…last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this touching tribute to the brilliance of Bill Waterson.  Enjoy.

Things I learned in the last two weeks

Yes, yet again, I am running behind with my weekly blog entries.  I always have the greatest of intentions.  I really do want to get them finished and posted in a timely manner, but sometimes that nagging little thing called responsibility screws up everything.  However, I think I have myself back on track – at least until classes start again in mid-January.  Then I will try to think up new, more creative excuses for my tardiness.

In the last two weeks, I’ve learned…

…that there is some unknown force that seems to have invaded the brains of the parents at my daughter’s middle school and sucked out all of their common sense.  Or perhaps, they are just booger eating morons.  I don’t know.  Of course, if I had to choose, while the former is more visually pleasing to the writer in me, the latter is likely the most obvious conclusion.  I can tell you, though, that it does not require a doctorate in civil engineering to know that there is only one way in and one way out when navigating the carpool lane.  School administrators have even been kind enough to paint brightly colored directional arrows on the concrete for those among us who are visual learners.  Even so, day after day, these parents just don’t understand that parking in the out lane is counterintuitive to the overall spirit of the intended process.

John Calvin - Unknown source…that studying for my Western Civilization final too close to bedtime will result in dreams of John Calvin and Martin Luther with a side of Petrarch and Machiavelli.  Needless to say, the resulting Renaissance/Reformation mash-up did not leave me feeling well rested at all.

…that the office manager in my former dentist’s office is evil.  I’ve never liked her, or the dentist for that matter, but I tend to suffer through such things out of convenience.  However, I do enjoy getting back at her in my own passive/aggressive way.  She’s a stalker.  By this I mean, she will run you down to confirm an appointment or make you that appointment for the 6 month check up you don’t need but they want you to think you need.  I like to dodge her calls.  It’s become a sport to me.  You know, to see how many times she really will call before she gives up.  Mature, huh?  Well, it backfired on me this week.  I dodged all of her “please confirm your appointment” calls and when I showed up for my appointment, she informed me that she had given the slot to someone else.  What?  Oh, the agony of defeat…

…that the little elf thing parents have resorted to using, in an effort to incite good behavior in their unruly children, is creepy. Really, really creepy.  If my parents had done that to me as a child, I would have ended up in therapy, at the very least.  With my overactive imagination, I might have even ended up locked in a padded room for insisting that the elf was hiding a big butcher’s knife beneath his pointy hat and had been sent by Santa to murder me in my bed.  After all, I did think that there were cobras living under my bed for the better part of a year after seeing a certain Disney movie when I was six.  I’m still traumatized by that experience.

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…that Asian tacos are pretty tasty even though they look strange with all that pickled cabbage stuff.  Thai coconut soup, on the other hand, not to so tasty.

…that it’s just weird to have the FedEx guy ring your doorbell and hand you Styrofoam cooler with a ham in it.  For a minute, I thought I’d received someone’s transplant organ by mistake.

…that Rick Perry is a…um…well…hmmm…I find that I have no words to adequately describe my feelings toward the governor of my fair state.  Until now, I have remained largely indifferent to him.  Well, I say that, but I still hate his guts for that whole HPV mandate debacle.  Aside from that, by and large, and though I do like to ridicule his backwater way, I’ve not allowed myself to be bothered by him too much.  Most of the nonsense he spews does not amount to much, in the grand scheme of things.  Now, I am mortified that he has been unleashed on the nation.  It’s kind of like when your crazy cousin Larry shows up uninvited to your wedding and spends the entire night reminding you why he has been permanently banned from all family functions.

…that conquering the elliptical has become an obsession for me now.  Let’s face it.  Working out can be boring.  To stave off the boredom,  I set goals for myself.  Like:  I am going to do X amount of miles today in X amount of time; or I will go until the indicator tells me I’ve burned X amount of calories.  One of the biggest challenges with the elliptical is resistance.  It’s easy to truck along at a low setting, but I don’t want easy.  Up until now, I’ve played it safe and stayed within the level 8 range.  This week, I kicked it up a few notches.  I started out at level 10.  I did a good steady pace for 5 minutes, then raised the level by 2 to 12 and did that for 4 minutes.  For the final one minute, I raised the level even further, to 14.  Then I started over.  I did this for 6 repetitions for a total of an hour.  It was awesome.  Of course, the next day my body bitch slapped me and reminded me that I am staring down the business end of 40.  But it’s nothing a little over-the-counter pain reliever can’t fix.

…that there are 22 days left until the end of the holiday season.  Just sayin’.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this amazing photograph of two baby chameleons.  It is, of course, altered but still…

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Source:   http://takacica.deviantart.com/art/A-Tree-Branch-Separates-Us-189658504