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.

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

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.  

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.



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

B#2:How I washed my bike gear while showering (kinda like this lady**:

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.

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.


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?

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?


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?