Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Resolutions: AKA, reasons to be more interesting in life.

Have you set your resolutions yet?


WHAT???

Wait, WHAT?. I don't even know..









(You can take that as either a "What! You did? You go Glen Coco!" or a "What!?! You haven't yet! How dare you fall behind during this weird week of limbo between holidays and the next part of winter-that-has-no-holiday-therefore-is-pointless-and-horrible." *deep breath* Whichever suits your fancy.)

Me, in the meantime, I have set my ten goals for next year. And while I won't share the whole list with you (because you probably don't care), I will share number 3 on my list.


                   Liz's 2014 Goals.

                      3. Try 1 new recipe every month.

(It's about setting achievable goals, people. For more information about setting goals that won't make your friends role their eyes, go here

And that is where YOU come in. 

What is your favorite recipe that I should try? Email it to me at LizMcLaneEditing@gmail.com

(Do you see what I did there? I offered a fancy new editing email address. That's right, I'm about to launch my fancy new editing website. So stay tuned and don't act surprised when I spam you for editing jobs in the next few weeks.)

In the meantime send me a recipe that you think is worthy of 2014. Let me know which month I should try it, and what to serve it with. If your recipe is chosen, you'll win a slide show of pictures of me attempting to make that dish (maybe), as well as some leftovers (careful, if you live far away, you may need to plug your nose before opening the Tupperware).

So, you tell me, what's for dinner?




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Let's plunge, shall we?

The sign I made at work yesterday.


Growing up at summer camp, I was often met with a clogged toilet in one of the two bathhouses we had in the woods. Encountering these catastrophes as a kid, I would crinkle my nose, back out of the stall, and walk three stalls down to a less smelly, free flowing toilet.
After washing my hands, I'd promptly run away, afraid that if I told a counselor about my findings, they’d try to teach me “responsibility” and “initiative” and other crap like that.

The Waldorf, one of the bathhouses at camp. 

This pattern of discovery/running away continued for several years until I was a counselor myself at this very same summer camp. I skirted through the first few years on staff, avoiding all such clogs. I’d hide from campers when they saw the problem, hoping I wouldn't have to be the one to fix it. This worked great for three summers. Until the fourth. 

I was completely caught off guard. The little girl came right up to me. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.  

I had to plunge.

It’s occurs to me now that throughout my formative years, this was the first of many experiences I would have to plunge. Beyond taking care of far too many literal summer camp plunges since, I have had the opportunity to plunge and fix many uncomfortable situations. Bonding with a girl I had no desire to get to know. Talking down my cable company to get a discount for six months. Managing authors who were doing more damage than good with their writing. Each of these situations (and many others) needed plunging. And it was up to me to do so. 

Hudson, making his own mess that I have to clean up all by my-freaking-self.

As I grew into adulthood, I found myself more often than not unable to find someone else to fix these uncomfortable situations for me. Avoiding the problem was either not an option, or an option that would hold me back from my goal. And so, plunger in hand, I dug in.

And that’s how I found myself willing to drive my new friend to the airport, an hour away.
And how I found myself saving $20 a month on my cable bill.
And how I found myself talking with clients I shouldn't have needed to talk to and taking on projects that led to raises, promotions, and leadership.
And how I've found myself plunging—yes, literally—at work, when no else would. As in, today, thankyouverymuch.

Because in the end, someone has to do the dirty work. And if you can learn to do it yourself, you’ll grow. And you’ll reach. And you'll fail. And you’ll learn. And you'll succeed. And others will notice. And they’ll help you grow. And you’ll feel more powerful. And you’ll be more powerful.

Bring it on, Katniss.

Because life will always need to be plunged. And the sooner you learn to do it, the easier it’ll get.

Practice, practice, practice being uncomfortable. Expand your comfort zone. Repeat the hard challenges until they become routine. Welcome the awkward experiences. Rehearse how you’re going to handle them. Until they become easy and comfortable.
The more you plunge, the more progress you make.


Give it a shot. Because life is worth the shit. 

Livin' the dream.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Life Full of Life, Not Stuff: On Spending and Saving

Money matters.

You have to pay your bills. Your rent. Your mortgage. Your groceries. Your gas. Then you have to pay for your dog. Your new couch after your dog chewed up your old one. Your new shoes. Your night out. Your cable company. Your mom's Christmas present. Your toothbrush.

There're a lot of things to pay for.

And you're making only enough to cover it. Or maybe you're making plenty to cover it.

Or maybe you don't know.

Either way, you've heard of a budget. And most likely, you've steered far, far away from it because, ugh.

Budgets are hard. They make you work. They make you face the hard facts. They make you walk away from those beautiful pair of hot pink pumps. They make you eat weird food and never go out and hate yourself forever and make you feel guilty for every penny you ever spend and, ugh.

And, actually, they are incredibly freeing.

Let me explain: Last year, in August, I quit my job and moved north to work at a summer camp for three months. I kept my apartment and paid rent even while I was gone. Then I came back home and scrambled to find a job. And then after a few more months I secured a new, more interesting job out of state.

So I whipped out my credit card and bought some movers' time, a truck, a deposit, a fee, two months of double rent, and a dog. And then I had to pay. Loaded up with bills, things to buy for my new place, trips to see my now out-of-state friends, and a new dog who wanted everything in the pet store, I knew I needed to cut back my expenses.

And so I began to budget. Ugh.

Facing those numbers was hard at first. I realized I'd have to stall the purchases for my new apartment. I wouldn't be able to spend any money on myself for, like, ever. And in looking at what costs I could control and cut back, I decided to start couponing. At first, it felt like the most restrictive, limited lifestyle choice I'd ever made. But I wanted those bills paid off as soon as possible, and with that to guide me, I stuck to my plan.

After five months of cutting back my expenses, paying off my bills, and looking forward to a debt-free life again, I've realized that budgeting my lifestyle has been the most freeing experience so far this year. Here's why:


  • When I budget I know exactly how much money I have. No surprises. No "how did this happen!" No confusion. Freedom from the unknown.


  • When I budget I know exactly what I'm going to spend money on. I can calculate my regular monthly expenses and know just what it costs me to live. Freedom in knowing.


  • When I budget, I know what extra costs to expect. Run out of toilet paper? No problem--here's the $10 I set aside this month to purchase it. Buying a wedding gift? Bam! I know exactly what I'm going to get, what it's going to cost, and BONUS: I don't forget to buy it at the last minute. Freedom by planning ahead.


  • When I budget, I know how much money I have left over to cover unexpected costs. My dog ate the 5 steaks defrosting on the counter? Ok! I have $X dollars that I guess I'll be spending on steaks. Freedom from worry.


  • Okay, this is the BIG one: When I budget, I buy less stuff. A fellow budgeting blogger friend of mine, Amanda, touches on this concept in her post, but I think it's my favorite reason for setting a budget for myself. I've been working hard lately on reminding myself that stuff is wasteful. Amanda says that buying stuff is a habit, and we can stop spending so much money if we break the habit of buying (that was you, Amanda, wasn't it? Now I can't remember...shoot.). But I believe it goes further than this. We are conditioned every day by ads, by our friends, and by our expectations that we should be buying stuff all the time. We need new clothes every season. We need nicer furniture to prove our adulthood. We need a new car cause this one has a scratch on it. But, the truth is: we don't. And by setting a budget for myself, I can keep this thought in the forefront of my mind on a daily basis. So when I see my friends or strangers buying pretty things, instead of feeling jealous, I can remember my decision not to live that lifestyle. That ultimately, this isn't a game I'm too poor to win, but rather a decision that whether I can afford the entrance fee or not, I don't want to play. Freedom from a materialistic life.


And that has been the biggest freedom of all. Choosing a life of freedom from a consumer-based thought pattern and taking back control of what really is important in my spending. I now have the freedom to enjoy spending my cash on life experiences, rather than letting those experiences cause stress because I've spent too much money on stuff.

I've now paid off the last of my credit card bills, I've budgeted all my Christmas-present-buying money, and I'm looking forward to a month of getting to keep all my hard earned cash for myself. I'll be, what most would consider, perfectly well-off.

But I still plan on budgeting. I still plan on couponing. I still plan on writing down every single purchase I make on my spreadsheet so I can keep track of myself. I may let myself slowly purchase a few fun wants, but I like keeping my needs and wants separated on paper. So separated that I can easily turn away from a potential purchase and say, "No, I choose a life full of life, not stuff."



Thursday, October 10, 2013

BOOMER.



‘Twas the night before Texas, and all through the state
Not a student was stirring, not any roommate
The buses were parked at Lloyd Noble with care,
Prepared for the team, who would soon be there.

The players were nestled all snug in their seats
While burgers of Bevo were all they could eat
And Bell in his jersey, and Jaz with his grip
Had just settled in for long road trip

When out on the field there arose such a clatter,
Stoops sprang from his chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the press box he flew like a kite,
Turned on the big lights to check on the site

The lights on the breast of the new-painted grass
Gave the luster of mid-day to those who would pass
When, what to his wandering eyes would appear,
But a horse-drawn schooner, with two pony dears

With a little old driver, so lively and marry
He knew in a moment it must be Barry
More determined than soldiers, his faithful they came,
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Millard! Now Shepard! Now Williams and Wade!
On, Nelson! On, Saunders! On Johnson and Clay!
Down I-35 quickly! Straight into Fair Park!
Now touchdown! And field goal! Before it gets dark!

And then, with a bell, Stoops heard from behind
The sounds of his Sooners, like God’s mankind
“There’s a team in Oklahoma, Norman to be exact
Where champions are bred, with the records to back.

“We swear our allegiance to the crimson and cream,
and lay down our efforts to honor this team.
We stand in the shadows of champions past,
And guard every inch of this hallowed grass.”

Stoops bowed down his head, to his team gave a nod,
And knew it was time to win on that sod.
Down to Dallas he’d go, to fight the Longhorns
And to take on Mack Brown, who'd lose all and mourn.

With a first down, a blitz, a touchdown and all,
Stoops watched his team gain winning points for that Fall.
Mack cried his way out, Stoops had won that grand fight. 
"Boomer Sooner to all, and to all a good night!"


*This post was rewritten by me, since I couldn't find the original I read years ago. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How RealitySteve is Getting it Right, And We Should Too.


Ah, America. Land of opportunity. Land of equality. Land of using reality TV to make a living?


That's exactly what Steve Carbone does all year long. He's the man behind the popular blog RealitySteve.com who spoils the ending of the hit reality show The Bachelor. Before the season begins, he releases the names of the cast, the date whereabouts, and eventually the "winner." And he's right. Most of the time.

I think it was my senior year of college when I started watching The Bachelor. I was home for the holidays, full of free time, and terrible TV seemed like a brilliant idea. By the time I got back to school, I made it a weekly watch party with some of my friends. I'm of the impatient kind when it comes to endings, so when I heard about the-guy-who-spoils-The-Bachelor, I was all up in his business. I keep up with his blog here and there, and I still watch the show with friends. It's proven to be a really good excuse to eat junk food on a school  work night. 

Knowing who wins on this show is fun for me. I don't know how RealitySteve gets his information, and I'm not here to debate that, but every once in a while, he gets it wrong. And if you want to know what bitter tastes like, check out some of these tweets: 


 


Talk about 

So how does someone respond when they're oh so very wrong?



The next day, RealitySteve posted a recap of the finale with his thoughts, just as he does every Tuesday of the show's season. He took a lot of heat for being wrong. I mean, A LOT. You thought those dance moms were crazy? How about 100 pissed off sorority girls after too much wine. Yikes. Let's also point out that this guy have been sued by ABC multiple times and called out in bajillions of online magazines. Safe to say he should probably go curl up in a ball and cry for the next 3.5 years, right?

WRONG. Amazingly enough, RealitySteve is one of the most humble hate-taking people out there! Here he is making a living off of being right about this silly TV show, and he takes failure with great stride. Check out what he had to say about being wrong:

"I’m not sure what people are expecting today regarding what we saw last night. If you’re                     expecting a long drawn out explanation regarding the wrong spoiler for this season, breaking               down the who/what/when/where and why, I don’t have it. All season the information I was                     given had me 100% convinced Desiree was engaged to Brooks....Bottom line is I was                         wrong. No crying, no whining, no trying to pretend it was something other than it wasn't.  For               the first time in the last seven shows this franchise has produced, I got the season ending                   spoiler wrong. Sucks, but what can I do? Move on, focus on Juan Pablo’s season, and get it               right next time."
                         --www.realitysteve.com

And that's what he did. He didn't disappear. He didn't whine. He didn't try to blame someone else. He was wrong, he acknowledged it, and then he moved one, striving to do better next time.

When was the last time your friend, your spouse, your coworker admitted to being wrong, took full responsibility, and then moved on? Wait--better question, when was the last time YOU admitted to being wrong, took full responsibility, and then moved on?

If you're like most people, you may have not admitted it, maybe you tried to blame some of it on someone else, maybe you beat yourself up for days--years--not letting go. Heck, I'm still mad at myself for being too lazy to take out the trash three weeks ago which led to my dog eating everything in there (including chicken bones). Of course I want to immediately blame him for being nosy and eating what he shouldn't, but let's be honest, had I been more proactive, he wouldn't have had the chance to misbehave in the first place. 

RealitySteve might have a silly job. I mean, for heaven's sake he gets to make a living off watching dumb TV! But he also has to hear the hoards of crazies yell at him when he's wrong. He has to deal with public hate, bullying, and Internet trolls.

He's takes it in stride, accepts responsibility, and uses it to motivate an improvement in his job performance. I think we could all learn a little something from him.  


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Target vs. Walmart. The Ultimate Showdown!






You know you couldn't resist clicking on this link. Everyone knows that Target is far superior to Walmart, but let's face it, we all love reading about why! 

Well read on, dear Targeters. And if by chance you're on Team WallyWorld, you're going to lose. Might as well starting wadding up those panties now. 

A couple weekends ago, I left my brand new pooch at home alone to embark on the ultimate Target vs. Walmart challenge: price comparison.



As I explain in my previous post, I've put myself of a fancy-pansty budget for the next few months (or maybe forever...we'll see) which includes spending as little money as possible on food. I've always wondered where the cheapest groceries are, but I've never known how to really find out. Sure all those couponing website are easy to read, but let's be honest, I don't have the patience or time to cut and organize coupons. And since I live directly across the street from Target, I was really just looking for validation that my dollars were being well spent.

So this is what I did:

I planned my meals for a whole week. I wrote down what I was going to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday-Friday (the weekends generally end up as leftovers for me, whether I plan it or not). I made my grocery list, and then I set out.

I first went to Walmart, where I "shopped" for everything on my list. Instead of filling a basket, I filled a note on my iPhone with how much everything would cost. For items that had various sizes, I wrote down the weight so I could make sure to grab the same size box at Target. 

After completing this info-grab, I ventured back to my side of town and entered the beautiful world of Target. (SIDE NOTE: Has anyone else noticed the subtleties that make Target so much nicer? I mean, do you ever feel clean when you're in a Walmart? No. You don't. I've recently decided this is because of the floor colors. Walmart's floors are grey--dingy, dark, sad. I feel like I'm walking through the far end of a trash can and can no longer see the light. Target's floors, on the other hand, are white, making the whole store look brighter, cleaner, and more organized. Even the brown floors at the grocery end give the feel of an upscale grocer). This time, I filled my canvas bags ($0.05 off your bill per bag) with all my groceries and whipped out my RedCard at the register. It was time to see if saving 5% was making any difference in my grocery bill. 

And ya know what?

It did!

It made a whole $0.69 of a difference!

Here's the breakdown:
Please don't judge my terrible photography skills. I'm not good at this because my brother stole all the artistic genes in the family. 




As you can see, before my RedCard savings, Walmart had actually been winning. $48.44 vs. $50.26. However, once I got my 5% savings, Target came out on top by $0.69 (no pun intended)! 

Add to this the cost of gas that I won't be spending to get there since I can walk, and that's even more savings! 

BONUS! hauling all my groceries by foot means burning extra calories! #eatmorecookies. 

So there you have it. In the Ultimate Target vs. Walmart showdown, Target came out as our winner! Duh.




*Please note that this grocery total is way higher than my average grocery bill. Since I recently moved, I had to buy a lot of items that I generally have stocked--like noodles and frozen chicken. My average weekly grocery bill runs $20-$25.





Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's not what you know; it's who you know.

I have started to budget. Like, a for-real budget.

Ok, not a real, REAL budget, just one of those spreadsheets, inspired by this girl where you write down every penny you spend and set goals and keep up with them, blah blah blah so annoying. Also, my spreadsheets aren't as pretty.

On Saturday afternoon, I spent roughly 30 minutes planning my meals for this week, as every budget-conscious girl does (according to all blogs and pinteresters). From breakfast to dinner, I made a grocery list and compared prices in the circulars I had just picked up from the mail. I carefully counted my pennies and made my grocery purchase, filling my refrigerator with this week's supply. (I even price compared Wal-Mart vs. Target so see which store cost less. I ended up saving $0.69 by shopping at Target and using my RedCard to save 5%! But that's for another blog post.)

On Monday afternoon I was just about to defrost that evening's chicken when I received this text:

"We're gonna have extra pot roast if you want me to bring you some."

YES! Free pot roast!

And there went my perfectly planned meal list.

For those who know me, you know that my mother is quite famous. Not in a real-life-celebrity kind of way, just in a I-can-totally-hear-your-mom-saying-that kind of way. She has a few *catch phrases, and I often find myself mimicking her voice to earn a few chuckles from my friends (no offense, Mom!).

I'm here today to tell you about one of her catch phrases that is dead-on.

It's not what you know; it's who you know.

And it's true. I am not famous. I am not wealthy. I have not made any impact on the world that will land me in history books (will those exist in a hundred years?). And therefore I have no reason to enjoy spectacular events other than by pure luck. Except that I know some people. 

For example: I have had the lucky pleasure to travel to quite a few places around the world in my short twenty-five years. And that's mostly because I know my grandparents. 

Mt. McKinley, Alaska. Been there, seen that.
(Source: Wikipedia)

In America's Most Beautiful Place, I know several families who let me sleep/eat/boat with them all summer long.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Lake Michigan
(Source: me)

I have been inside Michael Irvin's house, met his wife (who was making banana pudding at the time), and hung out with his mother and aunt. (His aunt, Fanny, even came to one of my high school football games to watch me perform at half time many years ago).

Michael Irvin, Cowboys #88
(Source: here)

What do I know? I'm not a world travel expert. I don't own a beautiful lake house and a boat. I don't play professional football. 

But I know people who do. It's not about what you know, it's about who.

But the best part is, you don't even need to know anyone famous or wealthy. I went nearly two years buying little more than bread and milk because I worked out a deal with a friend who would buy me groceries as long as I cooked. WIN.

And now, despite my careful preparation to plan each of every meal, I'm given free food.

All because I know someone.



Who do you know? 
What cool experiences have you gotten to enjoy because of someone you know?
What do people gain by knowing you?
Leave your answers in the comments!

*For more on Mom's catch phrases, please refer to my childhood.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas."

Alternative title: "On Being a Big Girl and Moving Like an Adult."

In 2011 I accepted my first big girl job and moved to Oklahoma. I packed my car with all my belongings and trekked north. I pulled up to my new apartment (which I was going to be paying for ALL BY MYSELF) and unpacked my car. 

Here's a picture of me in a box on move-in day, January 12, 2011.


Three days later, my parents arrived with a U-Haul truck full of hand-me-down furniture we had bought off a family friend for pennies. It wasn't my style, but it was there, so I sat on it. 

The next day I bought a bed. 

Cue panic attack.

I hadn't thought about the furniture. The big stuff. The stuff that my friends had to move in for me 'cause I couldn't do it myself. The stuff that makes life feel more permanent.  I owned it. I knew The Next Time I moved would be intense. Like, Big Girl intense. 

Fast forward two and a half years and The Time arrived. I accepted a new job in a different state.

This Time, I was ready. I didn't even think twice about moving all my crap. I hired some professionals, let them pack the truck, and moseyed my way down the highway. Pulling up in front of my new apartment, I didn't feel any anxiety. Nothing that made me feel like this was a Big Step. 

Hunky men doing work for me, June 16, 2013.


I added a washer and a dryer to my stash of furniture, and it didn't phase me.


I'm A Big Kid Now.








Friday, June 14, 2013

You're doin' fine, Oklahoma.

Photo curtesy of Hillary Atkinson


"The south will rise again, man!" --Joey, Friends



Monday, June 3, 2013

Identity Crisis

I am now officially a writer.


Like, professionally.


Like, it's my job.


Like, I'll get paid to go into an office, sit at a desk, and write stuff.


I don't really know how it happened. One minute I was sitting at my current job watching The Office on Netflix, and the next I was signing a lease for a new apartment in another state with a new job offer in my purse.

The Unwriter is now a Writer.

If you need me, I'll be in the W section of the dictionary; I gotta figure out what this writing business is all about.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Before and After: Thoughts after the Moore Tornado

There may come a time in your life when something changes. 
Deep within you. 
A fundamental shift.


Unlike so many writers, I am not a huge reader. I always read the required reading for school, and I have read the Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games series more times than I can count, but I don't relish books the way so many writers do--or at least they way I perceive they do. I have editor friends who challenge themselves to read fifty-two books a year (that's once a week, if you do the math)! But that's just not me.

That being said, I am in a book club and have enjoyed many good books in the last year and a half that I would not have otherwise picked up. One of those has stuck with me in the way that all English teachers dream of.

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green

It's a story of the Before. And then it's a story of the After.

As I closed the book following my first reading of it, I knew immediately what my Before and After was. Those who know me, know I hold a particular grudge against a certain European country.

My dorm room in France was tiny. The curtains smelled of rotten egg. It snowed my second day. I didn't make many friends. But the food was wonderful, the view of the Puy de Dome was spectacular, and the traveling was cheap. I still get lost in memories as I look through my souvenir post cards.

I didn't hate France. But it will forever be the setting of my ultimate shift.

Before 
Good friends. Busy schedule. Easy class load. A plan. 


After 
The plan fell to pieces. 
And so did I.

Returning from France, I realized I had been subconsciously nixing my whole plan for the past six months. I didn't want to go back and live in France. I didn't want to work in International Something. I didn't want to keep studying the French language. Although I had finally figured out what I did want to study, I didn't have a plan to go with it.

And time was running out.

Thus began my After. The questions, the panics, the insecurities, the deadlines. I never saw them coming. It all weighed on me heavier than a cement block. It took a long time to learn how to plow through, finding a new stride that worked and taking the new changes with grace. I'm not done yet; it's shifted my whole self.

On Monday, I watched in horror as an F5 tornado ripped through my town. I live seven miles from houses that look like they've been processed through a blender, ready to be sprinkled over the world's largest salad. I personally know three sets of families who lost their homes. I lay awake at night now, still hearing the sirens that blared.


Maybe, there is more than one Before and After in a lifetime.  

Before 
Brunch at Jimmy's Egg. Errands at Target. Date at the Warren. Graduation party in a back yard. Christmas movies at friends' house. Siren test at noon every Saturday.

After











  

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Knew This Would Happen.

And that's why I hesitated starting one for so long.

It's Murphy's Law or something, right?

As soon as I committed to starting a blog, I'd get too busy* to keep it up.


I've already skipped a week. I had decided to make this a post-once-a-week ordeal, but here I am, two weeks since my last post, without anything decisive to say. Here are some topics I thought about writing about:

A#1: The Abercrombie and Fitch fiasco (yes, I still have some tank tops from high school in my closet with the little moose on them, and yes, I still wear them often enough. Do I care...eh?).

B#2:How I washed my bike gear while showering (kinda like this lady**: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z68tH-lnK60).

C#3: My face-to-face dilemma of the feminist issues of career vs. family (if I go back to get my PhD, I'll be 31 when I graduate. THIRTY-ONE! That's like, far older than I plan on becoming) and chivalry vs. girl power (wearing a Cheetah-print, belted work dress to a bike shop sparked this one).

D#4: My Twitter war on CVS and why you should boycott them too.

Each of these could have been an insightful, witty, maybe even hilarious essay, and yet here I am: sitting on a friend's couch, quickly hammering out something just so I can say I did, before launching myself into another project with a deadline.

*I have recently started watching The Office on Netflix and CANNOT STOP. So, yeah, I've been busy.
**TOILET PAPER IS ALWAYS WELL STOCKED AT MY HOUSE I HAVE A LEGITIMATE FEAR OF RUNNING OUT I ALMOST CONSIDERED SPENDING AN $80 GIFT CARD ON JUST TP SO I WOULD NEVER RUN OUT YOU CAN ASK HILLARY TO CONFIRM PLEASE DON'T THINK I DON'T WIPE 'CAUSE THAT'S GROSS!


Friday, May 3, 2013

Turned Off: A Week without TV



For the past week, I have not plugged in my TV. 

It was great. I had time to think. I had time to read a book. I reconnected with old ways of entertaining myself. I contemplated my life, enjoyed the birds chirping outside, felt the sun warm my skin. Without the distraction of TV, my eyes opened to the wonders of the world around me. It was a wonderful week.


What I expected the week to look like.


But I have a secret to tell you.

Come closer.



A little closer.





Almost there.








I LIED!

Ok not totally, I really did turn off my TV for a whole week. But it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. (This guy gets it; he stole my thunder two days ago.) 

Ok, I mean, at first it was great. 

I cleaned up my apartment. 

I put clothes away that had been lying out for more than a week. 

I finally made some alterations on work clothes that I'd been avoiding. 

I did my dishes.
And by "did" I mean "did some of them."



That took about an hour. 

The weather perked up so I went on several fun bike rides. 

I cheered on my friends at their marathon. (More about that here.) 

But then?


BORED!
Wait, why is R2D2 in this picture?

Oh, the boredom. I thought I was bored when I was watching TV. Without it, I was worse. No background noise meant I sat in silence. A Lot. Silence is great a lot of the times, like in moments of prayer or when evading Achmed the Dead Terrorist, but at home alone in your apartment, it's pretty lame.

Although, even though I was silent, my neighbors weren't. They had a great time watching TV all week. Are they always that loud?

But it wasn't all bad. I did make a delicious cake, without butter, eggs, or milk. 


This kept me going
for days.

Even better than that, I made frosting to go with it. Although I did end up eating just the frosting. (Come to think of it, sitting on the couch watching TV wouldn't have added all the calories that the frosting did. Oh well. Too late to worry about that now.)










Let's all say a small thanks that
the beard is back.


I also got a private concert from the bf since I wasn't caught up watching a show.






I should admit that I cheated once.

I watched Glee on Thursday when my friend came over for dinner. But this dinner is a weekly ritual, and no one wants to start messing with that. I turned it off as soon as he left. 

All in all, this week wasn't any better or worse than the week before it. I had time to think, but my thoughts were full of "gaaaaah so bored." I kept my apartment cleaner, but seeing as I'm the only one around to be bothered if it's dirty, I don't see much of a problem there. I'm sure I saved a lot on my weekly electric bill, but I'm not convinced to cancel my cable yet. I still spent plenty of time online and watched too many puppy videos on Youtube. 

Did you watch that video? If not, go back and watch it.





No really, stop and watch the video.






Did you?






RIGHT????


So there you have it. A week without TV = a week of riding my bike, eating frosting, and cleaning my apartment. I still enjoyed a variety of social outings. And I still spent plenty of time feeding my introverted self. My world wasn't turned upside down, but it was a fun challenge to accomplish. 

Did you join me in a week without TV? What did you do? What do you prefer over watching TV on a regular basis?


Friday, April 26, 2013

Sidewalk Chalk and a Challenge for the Week

As I was lying in bed earlier this week giggling at a rerun of Friends on TV, I saw a commercial for sidewalk chalk. Crayola, to be exact (I'll expect a marketing payment by next Wednesday, ah-hem!). It focused on a little boy who invites his neighborhood girlfriend out to the driveway to draw with his multicolored sidewalk chalk bucket. I guess Crayola has revamped their colors in preparation for the summer. Watching the children smile and draw and laugh and create while their moms look on lovingly at first made me roll my eyes (ugh, kids). But when I thought about my childhood sidewalk chalk memories, it hit me--I, too, smiled and drew and laughed and created while my mom/camp counselors looked on lovingly. Sidewalk chalk hasn't changed.

In this fast-paced, technology-filled world known as 2013, even a youngster like me at twenty-five has seen how much has changed. I didn't grow up listening to an iPod, using 3D glasses to watch movies at home, or writing notes on a tablet in middle school. But today, kids all over the country are doing just that.

Nevertheless when it comes to sidewalk chalk, my memories reflect this week's commercial. Surely by now, sidewalk chalk would come with 3D capabilities or a talking holder with a computer that tells you just how to outline a portrait of Beyoncé. But, no, sidewalk chalk still comes in a bucket. There are still a limited number of colors. It still gets all over your fingers. And kids still have a blast creating pictures in the great outdoors.

Thank God!

How badly am I making you want to grab a bucket and hit the concrete right now?

Well, that's my challenge for this week. In an attempt to find un-plugged ways to spend my time, much like I did as a child, and much like those kids on TV, I am going to turn off my TV for a WHOLE WEEK. No six o'clock news, no Food Network, and no Friends. 

I am going to spend my TV time looking for new (old) ways of entertaining myself. Whether it's as simple as reading a book or as lavish as decorating my front steps with sidewalk chalk creations, I'll spend seven days without my TV plugged in.

If you want to join me, comment on here and tell me what you're doing each day with the TV off (let's keep it PG people...). I'll meet ya back here next week to see what we all did!

Ready....GO!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Guess It Must Be Love--A Spectator's Perspective on an Upcoming Marathon

In eleven days, my best friend will be running her first marathon. So will a former coworker of mine. So will roughly 25,000 other people. I've been planning to make my posters, strap on my Chacos, and wait at the finish line for months now. Last year I watched my friend finish her first half marathon. I used my packing-tape-laminated poster as an umbrella as it rained. Why would I not go cheer her on again?

Two days ago, bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people died, with many, many more injured.

The news coverage, Facebook postings, and Tweets have been all over this event. They keep saying things like "Why hurt people at a marathon?" "Look at all the people who ran toward the bombs to help" and "Those who cheer on the runners were the ones hurt."

The spectators who stood near the finish line were hurt--were killed. And while I'm impressed and grateful for the wave of positivity pouring out of the American people, I can't help to wonder selfishly, Do I still want to go cheer for my friends? 

Many runners have already stated their intent to run next weekend. There are already blogs and tweets about how they won't back down, how terrorists (or crazies) can't break their spirit. But what about us spectators? What about those of us who can't run the length of Wal-Mart let alone a whole marathon? We don't have to be there. We don't have to prove anything to ourselves. We don't have to reach a goal toward which we've literally been running for several months. We just wanna watch.

So what makes me care to put myself in harm's way to cheer on these runners?

I guess it must be love.

Because you see, despite the extra security guards, despite the precaution, despite the runner's attitude, all hell might break out again. But I'm still going to show up. I'm still going to make my poster, strap on my Chacos, and cheer on my friends. I'm still going to put myself in the position of expressing my love toward my friends and the strangers who run with them. Each of these runners has been working hard to reach this goal. Each of them has been sacrificing their bodies, social lives, and diets to prepare for the long road ahead of them. But so have we--the spectators who plan on watching them. We've been preparing right along side them.

We've marked out our calendars, bought our craft supplies, and set our alarms. We've sacrificed our social lives for them. And we've sacrificed our diets as we carb load with them the night before. The runners may have an unmatched spirit, but those who watch them, we have a spirit too. We're the Robin to their Batman, the Vice to their President, the stage manager to their lead actress. We're a part of this too.

We want to see success, we want to witness the finish line. We want to watch our friends push to the end and achieve that for which they worked so hard. Because we love them.

And so in eleven days, despite my fear, I will let love triumph and watch the marathon. In person. At the finish line. Poster in hand.

I will defeat my own inner terrorist by being a very real, very present expression of love.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Literally (did not) Flip a Shit

"It literally blew my mind."

"He literally flew over to her."

"She is literally larger than life."

"I am literally going to die from this homework!'

"I literally flipped a shit."


___________

I hope you brain is in bits across the sidewalk, 'cause if not, you're doing it wrong.

I hope he's on an airplane, 'cause if not, he needs to tell scientists how he did it, asap!

How big is life?

I hope your homework is beginner's alligator wrestling, 'cause if not, you're being dramatic.

I hope your washed your hands before serving me my fries.


___________

Never walk away from a conversation thinking you did it justice. Millions of words are misused each day. Our vernacular allows us to interpret meaning based on the social acceptability of  Opposite Day phrases. Sarcasm was created by saying exactly the opposite of what we mean. But in it's wake, it's left a trail of misused words, and we rarely notice anymore. Listen to the next conversation you have. Or, if you're not ready to analyze yourself, listen to those around you--in the office, at school, in line at Orange Leaf ("OMG I've literally been dying to try this new banana-pudding flavor!").

Then ask yourself, what can you do to save the misused words? They need your help. Literally.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In Pursuit of Consideration

Today is a historical moment for our country. The supreme court is disputing gays' rights for marriage AS I WRITE and although I don't know what's being argued or what the outcome will be, I do have a plea for the country:

Let's be considerate.

Our Declaration of Independence initiated the public thought of a new country founded on freedoms and equality, but it also initiated our country's right to pursue happiness. It didn't define happiness for us, but it allows us to pursue it however we choose.

And I choose to do so with consideration of others.

Like most of the country, I choose sides for various political issues. I think I'm right all of the time, and I think you're wrong when you don't agree with me. I have an ego, and I'm perfectly willing to judge you for not agreeing with me. But I also see no reason to be rude about it. 

You can be on whichever side of the argument you want. That's the basis this county was built on. But to grow as an individual, to set an example for our children, to find sustainable happiness, you cannot ignore the significance of being considerate.

Let the car next to you merge, open the door for the person behind you, heck, let the lady on the cell phone go on ahead of you at the grocery store. Others may not notice your being considerate of them, but no harm will come from putting consideration out there. The best part? You'll start to notice others being considerate to you. Because let's face it--no one HAS to let you merge on the highway, yet we do it all the time. No one HAS to give you eye contact when you have a conversation, yet we do it all the time. No one HAS to answer the phone when you call, yet we do it all the time.

So feel free to argue your point all you want, but do so with consideration. Use respectful language, think through valid points, and don't be motivated by belittling your opponent's point of view. You'll never be happy by exploiting others and letting frustration overwhelm you.

And what's the point of winning if you can't be happy about it?

Let's pursue our happiness with consideration, after all, we have a right to.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let's get one thing straight. I am not a writer.

I am not a writer.

I never have been.  I used the five-paragraph formula to write papers from the moment I learned it in sixth grade to the moment I graduated high school. I purposely majored not in English so I could avoid writing papers. The fact that my French major snuck into being a linguistically challenged English degree was as much of a surprise to me as the lack of toilet seats in the country itself was to my backside.

At first I was like:
!!!!!!!
But then I was like:
!?!?!?!


I'm over it.



Even after college I found myself in a job where I didn't really have to write. Sure I created editorial notes and summarized some plots, but I wasn't, ya know, writing.  

Nevertheless, if you ask my dad, I'm a writer. He read a college application essay I wrote one night after a brilliant burst of inspiration and decided I was the next Charlotte Bronte (does he know who that is?). I'm not too sure I agree with him still, but I suppose each of us is entitled to our own opinions.

This blog is a chance for me to do something. Let's face it, when life gets a little boring, one can either watch a lot of Law and Order and HGTV, or one can find something productive to do with her time.

I have no idea what I'll blog about, how often it'll happen, who will read it, or whether or not it will end when I finally reach my life's goal of acquiring a puppy. However, I can make some guesses as to its contents. Here are things I'm interested in:

-Language: including linguistically theories, grad school possibilities, word choices, and spelling. (Have you played the iPhone game Spell Tower? I just discovered it yesterday and am now contemplating spending $1.99 to purchase it. This is big because I've never bought an app in my life. Unless Justin Little A downloaded one without my knowledge and Lianh the Ninja provided my password to him, which is more likely than not.)
-Parenting ideas: (I have no children, nor do I plan on having any anytime soon). We can learn a lot about personal behaviors based on good child-rearing tactics.
-Dog training: Having a dog is the top of my goal list. And when I do, it'll be the most well trained dog that has ever existed.
-Interesting (or not) thoughts: Let's face it, I think about some pretty interesting ideas throughout the day. You can be a part of those ideas.
-Food: because what blog isn't complete without the best cake/pie/stuffed chicken/lasagna discussion?

So let's recap: I'm not a writer. But I'll be writing, because, ya know, it's kinda fun now that I'm not being graded.

Here goes!