"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."
-- Unknown

Saturday, January 31, 2009

An embarrassing realization

I was at a get-together with some folks from my Sunday school class last night when I suddenly had an embarrassing realization:

I'm sort of famous on my street.

One of the ladies was talking about moving into a new house a couple of months ago, and I said, "Oh, that's right. We're neighbors now! You live just down the street from me, right?"

About that time, her boyfriend's eyes lit up. He turned to me and said, "Ooooh! You're the girl that we see chasing her dog in her night clothes sometimes!"


I guess my neighbors all know me as "Crazy Pajama Girl."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hide and seek

Here’s a little Toby story to start your day:

Last night, I got home from grocery shopping and decided to change into work-out clothes and do a little kick-boxing. I laid out my socks and shoes then went to the kitchen to get some water ready (since I’d more than likely be sweating bullets and need to rehydrate).

When I went back to my room to suit up my feet, I could only find one of my socks. I could have sworn I’d picked up two, so I started searching the floor.

After checking under the bed, I stood up, puzzled. I noticed Toby sitting on the bed with his head cocked sideways, looking at me curiously. So I did what any logical person would do. I asked him where it was. I said, “Where is it Toby? Where’d it go?”

And to my surprise, he jumped off the bed and ran into the living room. He was back a second later, sock in his mouth, wagging his tail like an idiot.

He KNEW what I was looking for. That little stinker is smarter than I thought.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A letter of annoyance

Weekly writing assignment from Mama Kat: Write a letter to someone who bothered you this week.

Dearest Dave,

I have to admit that I had great expectations for you and your friend Daniel on this season of the Biggest Loser. My heart went out to Dan, who at only 19 weighed more than 450 pounds. The show was a positive push in the right direction for him – encouraging him to get healthy and live a longer, happier life. I admired your determination to stand by his side and offer moral support, while taking control of your own health as well.

After your team was split up, you went home to prove to America you could lose weight without the Ranch. Dan worked his butt off to bring you back. He pushed himself to levels he never thought possible. He worked through the pain and lost 60 pounds in just four weeks.

You, on the other hand, went home and stuffed your face with fried chicken. You didn’t exercise. You went back to your daily life with little-to-no regard for the well being of your so-called “best friend”.

To top it all off, when y’all were up for elimination this week, you casually mentioned to the other teams that you didn’t really care if you were there or not. You said you’d just as soon be at home (where you'd be able to hit up the local buffet on a regular basis.) After all of the sweat and tears that Dan poured into his month there, you showed complete disregard and acted out of pure selfishness. You said you felt “trapped” being on the show. How could that be? You were gone for three weeks! What about Blaine, who is sacrificing time with his four children to lose weight and get healthy? Think he feels trapped?

Inevitably, you guys were voted off the show last night. While that might not bother you, it severely ticks me off, because I think you should have sucked it up and toughed it out for your friend.

Fortunately, it seems Dan is determined to do it at home. He’s lost 101 pounds (I think you’ve lost 46?) Thanks to his hard work, he doesn’t have to take his diabetes medication anymore. I expect to see phenomenal results from him at the finale.

You? I’m not so sure about your results. You get what you give, my friend. And so far, you haven’t given a whole heck of a lot.

Irritated in Alabama,

Monday, January 26, 2009

More love!!

It seems the universe (or at least the blog-world) is working in my favor today. (Which is good since I'm feeling like death warmed over.)

The lovely Diane, my bloggy big sister, has passed this pretty little thing my way:

It symbolizes all of the friendships we've made through blogging. You know, the people we'd otherwise never know. The people who leave comment love and offer bits of humor and encouragement, each and every day. When I started this blog, I never imagined that I'd become so connected with all of you wonderful people. Your posts are thought-provoking, insightful, and often hilarious. Thank you all for sharing your life with the blogging community!

So, this one is for:

Jessica, Lacey, Mel, Jenners, Hebba and Breean. Each one of you have become an important part of my life. And Diane, I'm so proud to be your little sister! Can't wait to see you in D.C.!

Nothing like a little love to brighten your day

Me again. I know... twice in one day? Lucky you, right?

Lucky you, indeed. I'm back to share some bloggy love.

The hilarious Lacey over at Don't Make Drugs has graced me with two very cool blog awards.

I did some research (aka: read Diane's blog) and found that the Premios Dardo Award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.

If that is, in fact, what this award is for, then I can think of no better recipient than the wonderful Jenners over at Life With a Little One and More, Find Your Next Book Here and I Can Do It...Maybe. Her blog trifecta covers everything from personal goals to literary reviews. The woman is amazing!

Next, Lacey gave me this jewel:

Which means I have to list 10 honest things about myself, then pass the love along:

  1. I love to be barefoot. I know this doesn't help the preconception that Southerners are all a bunch of barefoot hicks, but I can't help it. I don't put on shoes unless I absolutely have to. The shoes are the first thing to go when I walk in the door everyday.
  2. My Christmas tree is still up. I KNOW. It's been a month. I hate the boxing up and packing away process. I'll get to it this week. I promise.
  3. I expect a lot from people. I tend to put a lot of faith in people. I expect them to live up to the image I have of them, and they fall short sometimes. I don't know if I should be disappointed in them, or in myself for putting them on such a high pedestal to begin with.
  4. I love to cook. Don't get confused. Loving something does not automatically mean that you do it often. I live by myself, so it's hard to muster the motivation needed to cook very much. But I really do enjoy it.
  5. I'm addicted to trashy TV. I already talked about this one. So I'll just leave it at that.
  6. I went through a "sailor" phase. Meaning my language was less than desirable. I won't lie here and say that I don't slip up and say some "ugly words" every now and then, but I'm tons better than I used to be. I used to have a couple choice adjectives to describe nearly everything, but I've learned that it's much more fun (and sounds a lot nicer) to stretch my vocabulary and come up with better, more descriptive words to express my disdain for something.
  7. I have a permanent knot in my right shoulder from carrying a way-too-big-for-me purse. You never know when you might need a flashlight. Or an entire bottle of lotion. Or a notebook. Or whatever else is living in my purse right now.
  8. I don't know how to do a cartwheel. It seems like that was some sort of prerequisite for being a girl, but I never learned. I also never mastered the art of painting my own finger nails. There are probably many other "girly" things that I don't know how to do. But if you need someone to change your tire, I'm all over it.
  9. I want to learn Italian. Impractical? Probably. I can't think of any situation where I'd need to be fluent in Italian (unless I decide to go live there one day, which I'm not opposed to.) But it has always seemed like such a pretty language. I think I'm going to buy the Rosetta Stone program and get to learning. Then I'll write an entire post in Italian and make you translate.
  10. I want to run away. Okay, not really. But I've always imagined spontaneously starting over somewhere new. Once, while I was still in college, I requested relocation information from Montana. I have stacks of papers and pamphlets outlining places to live and work, where to eat, etc. I guess I'm ready if I ever decide to go!

I think I'll pass this one along to my cousin Jen. If you've never checked out her blog, you definitely should. She is a sweet, funny, adorable person. I know you'll love her!

Worry not

A few days ago, I posted a little "Truth According to Me" bar at the top of my blog that read, "As a child, I thought love conquered all. Adversity could be defeated by blind faith and a powerful emotion. The older, more jaded version of that child has realized that love isn’t always enough. It takes selfless giving and compromise. It takes trust and unwavering strength. It takes hard work. But in the end, you have to be willing to work hard. Things don’t just happen. They don’t magically work out. You have to actively pursue what you want and make your own fate. Not everyone is prepared to do that. "

For all of you who have called or sent text messages, wondering if I'm okay, worry not. I'm fine, I promise. I'm feeling a little confused about some things right now, but it's nothing I can't work through.

And I think those words are true. They don't have to be taken negatively, as some people have read them to be.

Anyway, thanks for the concern, but I promise, the usually happy-go-lucky, optimistic me will survive. :)

Although, in other news, I do think I might be dying. I'm home sick from work today. Head and chest congestion and a pounding headache - nothing a few meds and some sleep won't fix.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back to work

Wow. I've only been gone since Tuesday, but you guys have been busy. I feel so behind on my reading!

This week has been really interesting. As I said, I left Tuesday and headed to Destin, Florida to work the annual meeting for the trustees of our company. And let me tell ya, I learned SO much!
For example:
  • Old people are either really sweet, or really cranky. There's very seldom an in-between. 95 percent of the people at the meetings were absolutely lovely; the other 5 percent? Not so much. Our trustees were given everything they could have possibly wanted — or so I thought. Apparently the abundance of delicious food and free drinks was negated by the fact that there was no honey. For what? Iced tea? I'm not sure. But one woman was very displeased that we had not taken her honey request seriously. As was the man who went to swipe himself an extra four or five Sprites to keep in his room, only to find that the drink table was sadly out of his favorite beverage. Never mind the fact that there was a drink machine in the building. But then he'd have to shell out 50 cents, and that's unacceptable. When did we get so spoiled? I guess that little saying, "Give an inch and they'll take a mile," is really true.

  • I love chit-chatting with complete strangers. I don't know what it is, but I love making small-talk. I think that's the only thing I really liked about my college years in retail hell. I love that I now have a job that allows me do that on a regular basis without selling clothes and working a cash register. I'm so blessed to be able to work for such a wonderful company. And the people I work with? So sweet.

  • Southern humor is the best! We had a hilarious woman come speak to our trustee's wives, and she was a hoot. A former beauty queen, she bragged that while she didn't win Miss America, she did win Miss America's boyfriend. And it's true! She married him! She told so many funny stories. If you ever need a speaker for an event, check out Jane Herlong. She will have you in stitches.

  • While Destin is absolutely beautiful, it's not nearly as enjoyable when it's 25 degrees outside. I woke up Wednesday morning and started a pot of coffee in my room, thinking I'd sit out on the balcony and watch the sun come up. Needless to say, when I pulled open the balcony door and felt the arctic air coming off the Gulf of Mexico, I decided I'd just have coffee downstairs with my breakfast. Here's the view from my room:

  • I love Creme Brulee. I do. It's absolutely yummy. If I trusted myself with one of those little blow-torch things, I'd teach myself to make it at home. On second thought, it's probably best that I don't. Did I mention I'm doing Scale Back Alabama and have to lose ten pounds for my team? Yeah. No more Creme Brulee for this girl.

  • Toby loves me. So. Much. I don't think he ate the whole time I was gone. And his hair is falling out by the hand-full. I guess he thought I had abandoned him for good. But he was so excited when I picked him up from the kennel this morning! The first thing he did when we got home was run to his food bowl and start eating. Poor thing. It's like he thought, "Oh good! She's back. I can eat!" I hope he stops losing hair, too. I'm not sure how he'd look bald.

Overall, I had a great time at my first Trustee Update. Now it's back to the daily grind. No more seafood or views of the ocean. Just me, my computer and my little cubicle. Fingers to the keyboard. Time to work.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Another weekend gone

Is it really Monday already? Wow. Here’s a little run-down of my weekend:
  • I left work at noon Friday to go the memorial service for Prof. Warden. I debated all week about whether or not I was going to take off to go, and I’m so glad I finally decided to do it. The service was perfect. So many people from his life shared stories that were true testimony to amazing the life he led. I learned even more about a man I already admired beyond belief.
    After the service I stopped by and visited with one of my old college roomies. We laughed and cut up, just like old times (“old times” being 8 months ago, when I moved here.) It made me realize that I actually miss having a roommate. (Of course, had I visited with a different ex-roommate, I would probably have left praising Jesus that I now live alone.)
  • Saturday was pretty good. I slept in, worked out and got together with all the girls from my Sunday school class for supper at my friend Kelley’s house. And then bed time came and I COULD NOT fall asleep. I tossed and turned, took a Unisom, and eventually got in the car and started driving around aimlessly. (I usually get sleepy driving at night.) After two hours, I still felt wide awake. I think I finally dozed off somewhere around 6:00 Sunday morning. Needless to say, I turned off my alarm and skipped church.
  • After waking up around 10 (four whole hours after falling asleep), I moved to the couch and watched more episodes of House. I was semi-productive. I worked out, washed dishes and did a load of laundry. But that was the extent of my activities. Kevin didn’t come for his normal Sunday visit because he was at home puking his guts up. (Sorry for the visual.) And me, loving girlfriend that I am, didn’t want to be anywhere near that. I can’t afford to be sick right now. I did offer to take him some Sprite and crackers, but he said his dad would get it for him, so I didn’t press the matter. I love him to death, but wasn’t thrilled about driving an hour to watch someone vomit. I promise I’m not usually so insensitive.
  • I didn’t want to say anything about it until I was sure it was something I’d stick to, but I started counting Weight Watcher points on the 3rd of this month. So far, I’ve lost 8 pounds! I know I still have a way to go, but I feel pretty confident that I’ll make it. The treadmill is finally being used to its full potential, and my clothes are starting to fit a little better.
And now, here we are at Monday. I’ll be leaving after lunch tomorrow to help with some meetings for our Trustees in Destin. Poor Toby will be kenneled until Thursday. And the poor vet assistants will have to listen to him bark obnoxiously and struggle to clip his toe nails, which have become sharp talons of pain once again.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Six of many

The wonderful Jenners tagged me for a bookshelf meme earlier this week and I have been waiting for the perfect moment to sit down and write it out. I loved reading about her books and now I'm excited to share mine with you!

Tell me about the book that has been on your shelves the longest:
That would be my old, faithful copy of Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. The edges of the book are worn and the pages are yellowed with age. I honestly read this book more times than I can count growing up. The touching story of Billy and his two dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, probably helped shape and nurture my own love for our four-legged, slobbery friends. This book will forever hold its spot at the top of my "favorite reads" list. Even though I know how it ends, I cry every time I get to the end. The pain of losing a pet - a friend - is heart-wrenching. My heart always breaks for Billy. Of course, if it comes as a surprise to any of you, Old Yeller was my favorite movie as a child. Another sad story of a boy losing his best friend. Why do they do that to children? "That's the real world, kid. Pets die. Sorry."
Tell me about a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (i.e., a person, a place, a time, etc.):
When I was in high school, I knew this guy who defied every stereotype of a male athlete. He played football, rugby and wrestled, yet he also played the piccolo and was fluent in Latin. Academically, he was the top of his class, and physically - he resembled a Greek god. Tan, rugged and smoldering hot (if we're being honest) he was pretty much the ideal guy. (And he was nice, just to top it all off.) Well, we were talking books one day and he mentioned A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. He said it was philosophical, and talked about the symbolism, going in to deep character analysis and making me feel like a dummy for never reading it. So, that weekend, I rushed out the store and found the book. I spent the next two days reading it cover-to-cover so I could tell Mr. Athlete how much I loved it. And you know, I actually did love it. I've re-read it several time since then, and though it's been years since I've talked to Mr. Athlete, I think of him each time I glance at the book.

Tell me about the most recent addition to your shelves:
My most recent addition is not really a book at all, not in the paper sense. I got a Kindle this Christmas and LOVE IT. I was a little worried that it would be weird reading an entire book from a screen, but it is absolutely amazing. We don't have a bookstore in the little town I live in, so it's really convenient to be able to browse 100,000s of titles and instantly download whatever interests me. And it definitely saves gas money, since the closest town with a bookstore is 45 minutes away.

Tell me about a book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used book store, prize, etc.):
When I turned 21, my mom and step-dad gave me very practical, "Welcome to adulthood" gifts. I was given a power drill and Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover: A proven plan for financial fitness. This book teaches the importance of saying no to credit cards, building a nest egg and not living above your means - all very important lessons for an amateur adult.
The dedication from mom reads: Heather, Happy 21st baby. You're an adult now - legally, anyway. I hope you will read this book, follow the plan and stay away from debt! Credit cards, car notes, personal loans - they will all suck the life out of you and I want you to have a great, joyous life. I love you always! Mom

Tell me about a book that has been with you to the most places:
I've always had really vivid, movie-quality dreams. So when I came across The Dream Sourcebook and Journal, I knew I had to buy it. It delves into the realm of dream psychology, explaining (or hypothesizing) what different aspects could mean in your daily life - interpreting the subconscious. I used to be really intrigued by that kind of thing, and I still am to an extent. Anyway, I used to take this with me when I traveled, just in case I had any strange or recurring dreams I wanted to look up.

Tell me about a bonus book that doesn't fit any of the above questions:
One of my favorite, quirky, darkly-humorous books is Dogrun by Arthur Nersesian. In the book, Mary comes home from work to discover her live-in boyfriend, Primo, dead in front of the TV. She realizes that she knew very little about Primo, so she hunts down all of his ex-girlfriends in an attempt to learn more about the man she'd been living with.

So, now for the rules:
  1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!

  2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.

  3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.

  4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…

  5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.
Okay, I tag Jen, Jessica and anyone else who wants to attempt it! I know some of you have already been tagged.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Glutton for punishment

Weekly writing assignment from MamaKat: Write about a scary encounter with one of your old professors.

My freshman year, I walked into my Honors Composition 1 class with confidence. I had always excelled in my high school English classes and had no reason to expect that this would be any different. The professor came in and I thought, “Oh, he looks like a nice man. This will be fun.”

Then he opened his mouth.

Dr. Day came down hard on us from the very beginning. He said he knew, as honor students, we had coasted through school with much praise for our infinite “talents”. He assured us we’d get none of that in his class. He told us that up until that moment we had been ignorant underclassmen, but if we could admit that, work hard and prove ourselves, we might turn out to be worth something after all. He yelled at us. He told us his class was going to be hard and that we would not be babied. He made a lot of people really, really mad. I found it amusing.

We had numerous writing assignments throughout the semester, most with self-generated topics (meant to teach us to think for ourselves.) He rarely gave us any direction until after the papers were handed in. And here’s how the critique process worked: At the beginning of the semester, we picked a pen name and anonymously signed it to a sheet of paper that was placed into an envelope and sealed with hot wax. When we turned in our assignments, we used our pen names and ran enough copies for the whole class. Then, everyone would pass their papers out, face down, before Dr. Day came in the room. Once he came in, each paper was reviewed aloud by the class, each person making comments and criticizing various aspects of your work. Sometimes it was harsh, but looking back now, it really makes sense. No one knew who you were, so there was no bias in the critique. Nothing personal. And it really prepared me for the real world, where my work is criticized on a daily basis. You have to learn to take it constructively and grow from it.

So the semester continued, with the ever angry Dr. Day shouting at us while constantly insulting our intelligence. He pushed us to be unique — lecturing us on the uselessness of clich├ęs. He made a lot of enemies that semester. I found that many students weren’t strong enough to take such brutal tactics, and I was pleased that it wasn’t affecting me on that level. I saw people cry after class, and each time I became more determined to do my best.

Finals came, and as we expected, Dr. Day did things his own way. Instead of a written paper, we had a Viva, which he explained was the testing process at Oxford (his Alma Mater.) He had graded our pseudonym all semester and this was the moment of truth. He would finally know the real person behind the name. We were called one by one to the front of the class to answer his questions aloud. No paper, no time to think. For the first time all semester, I was genuinely afraid. And my question? “Miss O’Quin, your papers have been decent this semester, but I really don’t want to give you an A. Why should I?” Seriously?? I rambled on about taking constructive criticism and trying to grow, seeing the positive in things and staying true to myself. And then he said something completely unexpected. He asked me about the people of the Holocaust. “Do you think they were able to see the positive in life while they were locked in Auschwitz, Miss O’Quin? Do you? Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, you know?” I was floored. Surely he wasn’t comparing his class to a concentration camp? My jaw dropped. And then he laughed and told me we were done. I got my A.

For many students, that was their last experience with Dr. Day. Me? Glutton for punishment that I am, I took him for five more classes before I graduated. I realized that he had our best interest at heart. He wanted us to not merely survive, but to thrive under pressure. Why settle for what you are if you can push to be something better?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time for a confession

Today, I come before you to confess an unhealthy habit, a strange new obsession – a guilty pleasure that I can no longer keep to myself.

I’m addicted to trashy TV.
Currently, I’m fixated on Rock of Love Bus. Yes, the girls are tacky and dress like strippers, drink too much and get into fights, but it’s like watching a train wreck. I just cannot look away. They’re annoying and petty and stab each other in the back multiple times a day. It shouldn’t be funny, but I think I shed tears of laughter every time I watch.

This is not my first offense. I’ve religiously followed several trashy reality shows – all of the Flavor of Love and I Love New York seasons, not to mention the past two seasons of Rock of Love. On all of these shows, numerous catty women lived in a mansion together, forced to stay three or four to a room, where their tempers flared. Weaves were pulled out, drinks were thrown – and of course, there was the loogie heard round the world.

But, what if you take those girls and put them on a tour bus for an entire season? Closer quarters will surely mean more tension, right? That’s the genius behind Rock of Love Bus. On the first day, the crazy Brazilian chick strangled the stripper girl (I’m not stereotyping here. I actually think that was her job before the show.) Makes for great TV. (Or, really, really terrible TV. Take your pick.)

I’ve yet to figure out why girls keep auditioning for this crap, unless it’s really just an underlying need to make themselves look like giant hoe-bags on national television. I guess some of them really think if they win the affection of Bret Michaels, they’ll live happily ever after. Hello. Newsflash here: There have been two other seasons and the “winners” have not wound up with him!

But that’s okay girls. Keep auditioning. I love the laughs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My wild and crazy life

So, I know I haven’t posted much lately. I don’t know what the deal is. I’m usually so chatty. I just don’t have much going on to gab about.

Instead of any sort of structured post, I’ll just update y’all, bullet-point style:
  • Friday night I rolled over in bed to find a disgustingly warm, gooey surprise. Apparently Toby got sick but was too lazy to get off the bed. Incase you’ve never had the pleasure of waking up with your hand in a pile of dog puke at 3 in the morning, let me assure you – you’re not missing much. YUCK. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much the rest of the night.
  • Saturday started with good intentions — I was going to get all of my chores done and FINALLY take down my Christmas tree. (Don’t judge me. It’s still up. I don’t know why I keep putting it off!) Instead, I read about half of a book and hung around the barn with Kevin, his dad and all of their horses. Productive, right? I know.
  • So, Sunday started with good intentions… sound familiar?? I went to church and came home to do chores. Two loads of laundry in, I got distracted by the second season of House, which I was watching on DVD. Four episodes later… what laundry? Yeah, I should probably finish that tonight.
  • I found out that I’ll be headed to Arlington for a week in March for a conference, and I’m pretty stoked. I know it’s a business trip and I’ll be in meetings for half the day, but I’m flying up a couple days early and coming home a day late, so that leaves plenty of free time for exploring Arlington and the D.C. area. Annnnnd, if I’m lucky, I might be meeting a very cool bloggy friend in real life. *Ahem* Diane…

And that, my friends, is it. I know my life is full of exciting twists and turns. “Will she read a book today?? Watch House?? Ooooh, maybe she’ll do laundry!”

My life is so fast-paced - I know you must be exhausted from trying to take it all in.

I’ll let your brain rest for now.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A (possibly) undeserved award

A few days ago, Andy – over at Wild ARS Chase – gave me a very cool, very original award, and I’ve yet to take the opportunity to properly thank him.

So, thank you very much Andy, although I’m not sure I deserve even a tie for best compliment.
While I could say all kinds of wonderful things about you, singing your praise with kind words is obviously not the way to win your affection. Apparently my compliment, comparing you to the gay friend I always wanted, is much more appreciated. So, anytime you need someone to question your manhood or make politically incorrect comments about your questionable sexual preference, just let me know. I got ya covered man.

And for the record, Andy is not gay. He has a lovely girlfriend who gets listen to his hilarity 24-7.
If you’ve never checked out his blog, do it now! Seriously, go on...

Why are you still here??? I meant now, dang it! GO!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Defining me... all you want to know and more

Weekly writing assignment from MamaKat: Ask a loved one to use 6 descriptive words to describe you and report your findings. How well do they know you?

*Note* One of this week’s prompts asks you to describe your pet. You should know that I seriously considered that one, but thought you all might be sick of hearing about my idiot dog. He’s interesting to me, but I’m not sure how anyone else feels about him. So I will spare you another Toby post (for now.) But fear not, I’m sure he’ll do something stupid soon that will merit mention.

Okay, I decided to make a list of the words I would use to describe myself, and then ask someone (without telling them what words I picked) what they would say. I figured that was the best way — so neither one of us were influenced by the other’s description.

For starters, I see myself as:

Stubborn – I’ve been told that I’m a bit of an arguer, and I tend to agree. (Surprising, right? Someone as stubborn as me, openly admitting that they’re stubborn?) If, deep down, I believe I’m right about something, I will tell you I’m right until I’m blue in the face. And if there’s something I want to do, you better believe I will do everything in my power to do it, no matter how many times or different ways you try to convince me otherwise.

Impatient – I’ve never been good at waiting for anything. I’m the immediate gratification type, which is odd, considering I’m such a procrastinator. If I have something to say, I have to say it RIGHT then. Even if you live in another city and I have to call you five times and interrupt you while you’re in the middle of doing something really important, just to tell you some asinine thing I’ve just discovered.

Loyal – I’m loyal to a fault, even to people who have time and again proven they’re not worth it. If I, at any point in time, considered you a friend, you can pretty much bet that I still think of you that way. Even if you’ve done something awful, hurt my feelings or made me mad beyond belief. And more than likely, I will make excuses for you and take up for you when people say mean (probably true) things behind your back. Because I’m just that nice. Or stupid.

Friendly – This morning I had to go get blood drawn, and while I was sitting in the waiting room, an older woman (by older, I mean at least 90) tried to make casual conversation with some of the other old people in the room. I was shocked when most of them kept staring at whatever magazine they were holding, pretending like they didn’t hear her. (And I know they weren’t deaf. They all got up when the nurse called their names.) Sure, she was looking for pity, talking about living alone for 38 years, how her husband died and her near fatal fall off the toilet this morning, but STILL. So what did I do? I gave her the sympathy she was looking for. I talked to her. And when it was time for me to go, she waved goodbye, smiled and said, “Nice talking to you honey.” I’ve never understood why it’s so hard for some people to be friendly, even to strangers. What does it hurt?

Emotional – I don’t mean this the way it sounds. I’m not some emotional wreck who bursts in to tears the drop of a hat. I mean that I’m primarily led by my emotions. I tend to do what “feels” right, not what logically makes the most sense. And my emotions tend to be very intense. If I’m happy, I’m bubbling over with happiness. If I’m sad, I tend to pout and drag it out. And if you ever catch me mad, watch out!

Nerdy – Not the pocket-protector, math-whiz, genius type of nerdy – I just read a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. I read seven books last month, even with the craziness of holiday travel. Seven books that were at least 600 pages a piece (with the exception of one, I think.) And I already have eight picked out for this month. So yeah, I’m kind of nerdy.

Now, here’s how my mom described me:

Chatty – I agree with her on this one. I can hold a conversation with dang near anybody.

Friendly – SEE! I told you I was friendly.

Sensitive – This sort of goes along with my word, emotional.

Pushy – Ha. Thanks Mom. Fits in the “stubborn” category nicely, doesn’t it?

Unpretentious –This is true, too. I’m going to be me, whether you like it or not. I don’t put up a fake front for anyone.

Pretty – Awww. Isn’t that sweet? I think she has to say that because she gave birth to me. No one wants to claim an ugly child.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The loss of a mentor

How do you begin to pay tribute to someone who helped you through some of your most trying and defining years?

That is that task I face today, just hours after learning that my beloved college advisor and mentor, Chris Warden, has passed away.

Known by many as “Prof”, Warden was an easy ear, an insightful tip, a constructive critique and an amazing teacher. He made himself available for students 100 percent of the time (he gave out his cell number, just incase you needed something and he wasn’t in his office.) He taught his classes with odd bits of humor and the wisdom of years in the field of journalism. And most importantly, he believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

During my junior year of school, I found myself missing classes, falling behind and struggling to stay motivated. I worked a lot and started using that as an excuse for not getting school work finished. Some people don’t know this, but I actually quit going to school for about three months, and family members were wondering if I was going to enroll the next semester. I was feeling burnt out. Trying to balance school with a full-time work schedule was harder than I thought it would be.

And on a deeper level, I was doubting the path I had chosen with my major. I began wondering if I was cut out for a job in Communication. Was I really a decent writer? I didn’t know anymore. I did know that I couldn’t face working at that terrible shop selling clothes for the rest of my life, so before the next semester, I went and sat down with Prof for a little heart to heart.

He had been my advisor for a few years at this point and I respected him beyond belief. I was terrified to go before him and talk to him about missing practically a whole semester of school. I was afraid of what he’d think of me — after all, two of the classes I missed were his. But the conversation he had with me that day helped me get my act together and my priorities in line. He said he respected the fact that I was working hard and trying to be financially independent, and that he knew how hard that was, especially with a full school load. But he assured me that it wasn’t too late. With a little hard work, I’d be able to finish up my classes and still graduate on time (which was a year late because of an earlier diversion into the nursing program for a year… but that’s a completely different, much longer story.) He said he knew I could do it, and that he would help in whatever way possible. He helped me make out my schedule of classes and he checked in with me constantly that semester, making sure I was keeping up with the work load. And I was. I knew I couldn’t let him down after he said he believed in me.

And that wasn’t the only time he was there to help boost my faith in myself.

During my last semester of classes, I had a quarter-life crisis at about 2 in the morning. I was digging through some documents, trying to put together a story that was due the next day, and I honestly felt like I couldn’t string two words together on paper. I’d been at it for hours. I’d type a line, read it and delete it. Nothing seemed to work. I e-mailed Prof, telling him I didn’t know how I’d ever get a job and that maybe this wasn’t really for me after all. It wasn’t so much a cry for help as a way to vent my frustration, so when my phone rang the next morning, I was a little surprised. Prof said to come by his office when I got out of class.

I thought, “Oh, no. He’s going to tell me to stop being such a cry baby and suck it up.” But he didn’t. Instead, he told me he went through the same thing. He told me about how he questioned himself, quit going to class for a while, then struggled to find a job after school. He told me that whatever I chose to do was up to me, but that he believed in me and thought I was an excellent writer. He encouraged me to stick with it and see where it could take me. It sounds cheesy, but he lifted my spirits and gave me the confidence to keep working at what I love.

And that’s just my story. Prof touched countless other’s lives in his time here. So many students are better for having known him.

He will be greatly missed and always fondly remembered.