Thursday, December 31, 2009

Au revoir, 2009!

Well, it certainly is that special time of year, the 'most wonderful time' as some have taken to calling it, and while it is wonderfully enjoyable it is also incredibly busy! I left my last update with finals yet to be taken, and those are finally over. Obviously. I wrapped up my first semester at Texas A&M with 2 As and 2 Bs and a respectable 3.461 GPR. So one of my goals for 2010 is to bump that up to at least a 3.5. But that's another story.

Right now I'm sitting here (watching The Simpsons, as per my usual habit) and thinking, "Where in the world did 2009 go?!" It seems like only a few months ago I was ringing in 2009 with friends. Looking back, there have definitely been a lot of things that happened this year. Some good, some bad. Even still, it seems like it went by very fast. I made some big changes this past year. I graduated from Navarro with an associates degree and transferred to Texas A&M to complete my undergrad. That included a move about three hours away from home to College Station, Texas. Lost almost 40 pounds! (and gained a few back, but...that's neither here nor there. And I intend to lose them again. You listening, 2010? You better be!).

2009, with all of the ups and downs, is coming to an end. It's time to welcome in 2010, and it is with high hopes that I do so. I have a lot planned for the coming year. A list that, I'm sure, will come to you in more detail in the next post or so. I've only mentally started to compile a list of resolutions, but they've been on my mind.

As it is, I'm about to ring in the new year with some close friends so it looks like the actual writing of the list will have to wait until after midnight, but I feel that that's acceptable.

So what have you all spent your last day of 2009 doing? Me, a few things, some productive, some just fun.

  1. I slept in.
  2. I lounged around watching The Simpsons, and from there moved on to lounging around reading The Picture of Dorian Gray (so far quite an entertaining read, if I do say so myself).
  3. I got out with Dad and ate a way-too-big lunch at Saltgrass Steakhouse. Bread, BBQ chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, and two Bud Lights later, I'm still stuffed. And it's been several hours.
  4. I bought a calendar, so now I'm totally prepared for the new year. Take THAT, 2010! Look who's one step ahead!
  5. I picked up a copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles, which I can't wait to read. Read it several—and I'm talking SEVERAL—years ago, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was the dumbed-down children's version, and after seeing the new Sherlock Holmes film—twice, since it was FANTASTIC—I've decided it's worth buying.
  6. Now I'm with Heather and Cadessa, and shortly we'll be trekking to Gabi's to welcome 2010.

So, to all of you, I say HAPPY NEW YEAR! Stay safe, be careful, have fun! And start off 2010 with people you care about, or by yourself, or wherever you want to be, but remember that this whole new year is about to start, and with it comes endless possibilities!

Friday, December 4, 2009

NaNoWriMo, Registration, Bad Days, and SNOW

Well guys, it's been awhile since my last update and I'm feeling kind of like a bad mother. I haven't meant to neglect you all, but things have been so crazy in the Life of Sarah! November was hectic; not only were classes starting to wrap up, but also NaNoWriMo was in full swing and amidst all of the other homework, writing 1600 words a day, it turns out, isn't so easy! So close to the end of November found me struggling to keep up and I was a good 30,000 words behind, so things were looking a little on the dismal side. But, hark! Miracles DO happen, and I managed to forcibly rip from my fingertips the remaining words needed for the NaNo word count in the days between Thanksgiving at November 30th. Yeah. It was rough. But well worth it! Crossed the 50k finish line at, oh, like 11pm? Just an hour shy of the deadline. But we know me, and it would just be unnatural if I didn't wait until the very last to get it done.

But anyhow, that's my story of NaNoWriMo '09 VICTORY. Novel Title: Unhinged. And, as it happens, it's still in progress. And I'm pretty excited about it.

Moving on!

My first semester as a Fightin' Texas Aggie is almost up! And it can't come soon enough. I'm more than ready for a break, and I'm much more enthusiastic about the classes I'm taking next semester. (Which, incidentally, I registered for between furious writing sprints to catch up on my word count.) Officially I'm down to two class days left, which is fabulous. If I can just endure finals....

And in other news...Have you ever had one of 'those' days? The ones where it's not that anything really big and terrible happens--it's all of the little things. Little crummy things happen and add up until finally you just feel like it's been, well, one of 'those' days?
Yeah. I had one of 'those' days yesterday. Allow me to explain.

My List of Bad Things That Happened Yesterday:

1) Morning: I wake up, sick. Allergies, mild cold, it matters not. I feel groggy and stuffed up, like someone had somehow inserted a balloon into my head (for some reason that I don't understand) and then slowly began to inflate it to full capacity. I am uncomfortable, groggy, and stuffy nosed. All in all, it's not exactly the side of the bed you want to wake up on.

2) Oh, right. Greek quiz. Super.
Oh, right. A paragraph to translate. Super.
Ultimately, the quiz was (quite possibly) a terrible failure. And the translation? Incomplete. But half credit is better than no credit, right? ...Right?

3) Driving home from campus, drowsy from meds (to fight the cold/allergies I woke up with) and disappointed about my Greek quiz. Oh, and disappointed in the fact that over THREE weeks after our test she still didn't have them graded--I kind of need to know how I did so I know if my studying was effective or not, thanks--and as I'm getting out of the car, my phone slips out of my pocket and, following the laws of gravity just like it should have, it fell to the concrete below. Cursing ensued. Phone remains functional, but finds itself babied. Possibly unbearably so.

4) Oh, right. Research paper. Due tomorrow. Super. AND I'm still groggy.

5) I'm reading research, jotting down page numbers and quotes to use, and as I'm doing so I find that I'm wrong; the essay I was reading, that I thought was an essay by Herman Melville concerning his views on Transcendentalism, but actually it was an essay by EMERSON about Transcendentalism. Definitely not the same point of view, as Emerson was a Transcendentalist, while Melville was not. So the ideas I had for the paper? Wrong! Quotes? Useless. Back to square one. Enter HEADACHE.

6) I decide to take a nap. I'm stressed and I might as well be resting because I'm not getting anything done on the paper anyway. So I lay down for a 30 minute nap, and wake up to whining and this weird noise which I eventually realize is Lola trying to dig her way out of her kennel in Megan's room. I try and tell her to stop, but she doesn't respond to commands from a whole room away, so I get up, go to the front of her kennel, and ask her nicely (or demand sternly, it's...hard to say...) if she could please cut it out so Aunt Sarah can get a little shut up before going back to the misery of writing a research paper over something I know nothing about. She seems to be agreeable to the idea. Until I get back in bed. Then she starts up again, and I think, 'Oh man, we didn't have an understanding after all!' So I get up to ask again, (or demand sternly...) and when I lay down again I realize something. I'm awake now. So, nap = fail.

7) While desperately trying to find resources for my works cited, I get a call from Dad. Long story short, I learn that I got a ticket for running a red light. Thank you, Red Light Camera. How I loathe thee. So, cherry on top of an already lousy day.

8) And I top the day by staying up until 4 in the morning trying to finish my not-so-awesome research paper on Melville and his views on Transcendentalism. And only get about 4 hours of sleep. And, yep, as you probably guessed, I did wake up again with a stuffy nose and another inflated balloon occupying the space where my brain should be. And then I was late to my English class because I stopped at Starbucks for a dose of caffeine to make up for my lack of sleep, and I swear there were at least 22 people in line. But do forgive me, that's getting in to my list of "Bad Things That Happened to Sarah Today".

But fortunately that list is much shorter, and thus requires no further explanation. And pretty much any of the bad was seriously overtaken by the simple but blissful fact that it SNOWED today!!! In College Station! Must be that 'Global Warming' thing...

So there you have it. My underdogged victory of NaNoWriMo '09! My casually terrible Thursday. And snow! And today = TGIF! I'm immeasurably grateful that it's finally "The Weekend". And, as such, I now plan to start a movie, have some pizza, and just kick back in general.

21 days until Christmas, you guys!


Thursday, September 10, 2009


God puts a lot of people in our lives. Just think of all of the people you know. The ones you know well, the ones you've met briefly, the one's you've only heard of. Plus millions more that just occupy the same planet as you. These people all have the ability to impact our lives, often in the smallest ways. But that's okay, small can be good. For today, I'm talking about positive impacts. For today, I'm talking about learning from these people. Let them teach you. It's the best deal you could possibly get. It's free, there's no homework, no finals, no grades, no pre-requisites. Heck, half of the time they won't even be aware that they're teaching you. Take advantage of this. Schooling isn't always easy, and it isn't always cheap; especially not at a higher-education level. Take it from a poor college student. But aren't some of the most important lessons those not taught in schools?


Don't fall down. Did a teacher ever give you those directions to follow? Don't fall down. Don't trip in a crowd. Don't land on your face. No, that's a life-ism. You learn this in conjunction with learning to walk. If walking upright, proud, tall, successful is your goal, then what naturally is what you don't want? To land on your face. To get hurt. To suffer embarrassment. To fail.

You don't have to wait to be told this to pick it up. So why wait for anything else?

Don't hold out for an instructor to impart his irrefutable words of wisdom. Let yourself and the people around you be as much your teachers as any certified ones. If you see a co-worker mouth off to the boss over the lack of a window in his cubicle, and subsequently he is fired, let that be a lesson to you. Choose your battles. Which is more important? Daylight distraction? Or steady income? Choose accordingly.

And don't forget to let yourself teach....well, yourself. You're smarter than you give yourself credit for! (Probably.) They say you only have to burn your hand on a hot oven once to know not to do it again. Don't be that person who doesn't learn from past mistakes. And don't think that just because you've never actually been told something, it must not be right. You don't have to hear something for it to be true.

Also, we're all different. Me, I'm different from you. And you, you're different from the guy next to you on the bus, or in class, or in line at the movies. Sure, you may share some similar qualities, but just because that dude with the 'fro can wait until the day before the test to study and still pull an A doesn't mean you shouldn't just go ahead and start looking at those notes.


I learned that if I get an idea for something to write, I need to at least jot down the basic idea. And I mean fast. Because if I can recall it later-- and I mean if-- usually the feeling of epiphany is long gone and it's harder to manage very much coherent, enlightened thought. I learned this from a couple of times where great ideas were lost to a couple of hours of sleep, or watching TV. Now I know not to trust that I'll remember them with great clarity even in the near future. Especially after doing something else.

Another Example.

I am not a fun person to be around when I don't get sleep. Enough sleep. Lots of sleep. Ask anyone. Ask my parents, my friends, my dog. I mean it. Some people can pull all-nighters and be functioning members of society the following day. I, however, am not one of those fine individuals. I don't really have much midnight oil to burn. I get emotional, easily frustrated, irritable, inattentive, plus many other not-so-fantastic qualities. Yes, it sucks. But yes, it's true. So I try to get a decent amount of sleep, and all the best to people who stay up late, get up early, and on, and on, etc.

Parents are also fabulous teachers. Seriously. I know everyone has heard their parents tell them that, "You'll thank me when you're older," or, "You'll understand when you're older." Well trust me guys, I'm old enough now to tell you that THEY ARE RIGHT. And I'm still young enough that you should believe me. Your parents know what they're talking about. They've been there before, even if you can't imagine them as teenagers. They did it. They overcame it. They had homework, they had peer pressure, they had parents telling them 'No', they had annoying siblings, and guess what--They also came out on the other side. It can be done. And you should trust them. Learn from them. Take their advice, use their experience to better your own. You won't regret it. Cross my heart.

I would challenge you to be aware, be on the lookout for opportunities to take full advantage of the people that God has placed in your life. Learn from them, listen to them, take their advice and chew on it, figure out if it works for you. Figure out what works for you. Get to know yourself. It's so much easier for other people to get to know you when you know yourself. It takes awhile, it's not always easy, and really it's just an on-going process so don't expect to spend 45 minutes on it and be done for life. It comes and goes, pops up when you least expect it. It's in that advice your Grandmother repeated to you countless times, in that long talk you had with your Dad. It's in actions, too. Like the guy who didn't watch where he was going and fell flat on his face. Try not to do that. It's just common sense.

Here are a few things to get you started.

My Grandmother always told me, "Space is the cheapest form of insurance." This will make a lot of sense to you when you start driving for the first time.

My Grandmother also told me, "Don't give a rat's behind what anyone else thinks. Who cares!?" This is fantastic advice. I try to take it to heart every day. These are wise words. The sooner you can embrace them, the better.

My Dad taught me, "Pick your battles." This is not easy. Especially when you feel very strongly about something. But weigh it, think about it. Figure out if it's worth it. Sometimes it isn't.

My Mom taught me that, "A clean room will make you happier than a messy room." This is...I can't even explain how true this is. I hate cleaning my room. Don't get me wrong. But I hate living in a messy room even more than I hate cleaning.

My Great Grandmother taught me, "Don't cry over everything." Well, she tried to. But I was quite young. And I'm far too emotional. But this is still a very good lesson. It's too emotionally tiring to cry over everything.

My Grandpa taught me that sending someone a birthday card, or a Christmas card, or any card for any occasion can make that person's day so much brighter. Let people know that you think about them, that you care. I loved getting cards from my Grandpa.

My best friend, Matt, taught me that you should never leave a glass of milk in a hot garage for an extended period of time because it will solidify and that's just gross.

These are just a few of the lessons I've accumulated so far in my life-long life lessons education. Take them, chew on them, and feel free to add them to your life-isms catalogue as needed.

Carpe diem.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Destination: College Station

Moving for the first time is a life changing experience. As an adult, I mean. I've moved before, but that was back when my parents did most of the packing for me. Although...come to think of it, that's not much different from this time.

Kidding, kidding.

But seriously. I always knew I had a lot of stuff. All of those things that you accumulate throughout the years, all of those things that are far too important to throw away, even though you probably wouldn't notice if they went missing. Those things also happen to be the same things, the same stuff that you just can't fathom leaving at home when you're moving to a new place.

I know this. It has just happened to me.

This last Thursday my parents and I loaded up a UHAUL full of stuff and headed down to College Station to move me in to my new apartment. Naturally this meant that I didn't finish packing until the morning of the move. Even as I was pawing through my things, making last minute decisions about what I could and couldn't live without, I started to realize something. I have so much stuff that I don't even have the energy to pack it all, much less UNpack it, reorganize it, find a new place for it.

And so this begs the question...

Do I have too much stuff?

If all of the junk, odds and ends, books, clothes, shoes, amount to more than I'm willing to load up and bring with me, one could argue that maybe I should try getting rid of some things. And yet somehow it always seems like instead, I just buy more.

For example, after halving my possessions and transferring them to my new place, I realized that the first thing I needed to do was--you guessed it--buy MORE stuff. I mean, it's not all my fault because let's face it, before now I've never needed stuff like that for myself. I had some of that stuff at home, but not here. And I've never shopped for a dining room/living room/kitchen before. Not really. But still.

Considering all of the stuff I brought, we managed to get unpacked pretty fast. The most tiring part was probably my Dad's--He got the noble task of building my bed, desk, chair, and nightstand. And he got the bed done almost right after we got to the apartment and unloaded the UHAUL, which happened to be at about 8:30, or 9. Pretty much way later than we'd planned on getting there. So thanks to him, I had a place to sleep the first night. Everything else got built on Day 2, and on Day 3 decorations started happening. It feels much more homey now, and I'm settling in pretty well. Minor separation anxiety happening, but I'm an only child who is very close to my parents, so I've definitely got some adjusting to do. And I'm not the only one. My dog, Tucker, is still getting used to this new place and he's really missing our backyard at home. The way I see it, that just means I'll have to take him back every now and again.

I found pretty quickly that the biggest problem with getting all new stuff for a move is that now--when I look around my room-- nothing is familiar. I didn't initially bring much besides clothes, odds and ends. The big ticket items, the most noticeable items in the room (such as the bed, the desk...) all new. All more or less unfamiliar. All have only ever existed in my life since moving to College Station. Still, it feels pretty comfortable. Having Tucker with me, my trusty four-pawed sidekick, definitely helps it feel like home.

And for those of you who haven't had a chance to video chat with your friends and family online-- you're seriously missing out! It's actually quite...a relief, I suppose, to be able to see familiar faces as you're hearing familiar voices. Just make sure you don't pick your nose or anything, because they can actually see you. This is a very important fact to remember.

Anyway, I've done it. I've made the move. Soon I'll be starting classes at Texas A&M. (WHOOP!) And my room will continue to accumulate more stuff that I won't like/want/need near as much when I eventually have to move again, but for now I'm not worried about that. For now, I look forward to new experiences, new people, and furthering that good ol' education. Oh, and how anxious I am about starting classes. Positive thinking! Maybe that's the key...

As always, more later...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A 4th of a Road Trip

Stars, stripes, patriotism, fireworks... It's that time of year again! We caught the tail end of Midlothian's fireworks show last night, and spent the day taking a day trip to Weatherford. To me, spending time with your family is an excellent way to celebrate freedom. I know I sometimes take for granted the fact that I can basically do whatever I want, whenever I want. I don't have to worry about not going to that side of town that's being bombed, or what have you. This truly is a wonderful country we live in.

We intended to get an early start on our little road trip, but little Tucker wasn't feeling well. So once we did get out, the first stop was lunch. We ate at Colter's, and let me just say that it was indeed fantastically delicious!


After that, we stopped at Starbucks because it just wouldn't be a holiday without a nice cup o' coffee. Or, if you're me, a tall Java Chip Frappuccino. 

Then, on to Weatherford! We were hoping to check out some Antique shops and the like, but a lot of places turned out to be closed. Even still, we took some pictures of some cool buildings and we had a really great time! 

But if you don't want to take my word for it, take a gander at the pictures we took!

I call this look "determination". :)

Me and Mom!


We decided to head home so that we could meet up with some friends and see Public Enemies. It was so crowded that not all of us could sit together, which was kind of a bummer. My parents and I ended up in the third row, or something. It was one of those situations where having glasses is irritating because I couldn't quite fit all of the screen into my glasses, if that makes sense. (If you wear glasses, you'll know what I mean.) And since we were so close, I had to pick one thing to look at on screen. Like Johnny's left eye, nose, hat. Okay, maybe that's a little big of an exaggeration. But you get the idea. It was more or less impossible to focus on the whole screen at once. And action scenes took me so long to focus on I'm pretty sure I missed them all. But the good news is, from what I could tell, the movie was really good! It would help to see it in order, though. Yeah, our theater had for some reason had to tinker with the film reel they were sent, and as a result we saw Public Enemies out of sequence. It was a tad bit confusing. But we got free passes to any other movie at the theater in return, so I figure that solves the problem.

After the movie, we trekked over to IHOP for a late dinner and stayed there chatting until about 11. At that point, I was starting to get sleepy, and Tucker was in the kitchen at home and had been ill the last couple of nights so we wanted to make sure he was alright.

All in all, it was a wonderful 4th! Especially if you consider the fact that it was spent with my family and a couple of close friends. I hope everyone else had an eventful, fun-filled 4th of July! :)

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

PT Cruisin'

There's something incredibly exciting about getting a new car. Actually, there are several things that are incredibly exciting about getting a new car. Maybe it's the thrill of investigating all of the new nooks, crannies, gadgets, slots, etc. Or maybe it's that feeling that you're the coolest cat around cruisin' in the new wheels. It could also be the newness of it all, even if it's not a 'brand new' car; it's new to you!

Personally, I think it's all of those things. And probably a few more that I'm not clever enough to put into words at the moment.

Either way, I'm feelin' it right now! I got a new car, which brought a long a lot of new experiences. I remember getting my last car, which, as it turns out, was my first car. But what I remember about that involved more of the joy, excitement, thrill, etc. Also, the last time I wasn't actually present for the purchase. I just test drove it and we left without it, and the next day Dad went to get it while I had a hair appointment, so actually getting the car was a surprise. :)

This time I was there for all of it. 

I found the ad online, which isn't too unusual. When one is obsessively seeking out a new car, finding online ads isn't exactly rare. But for once I found an online ad that Dad thought might be worth checking out. The night I mentioned it to him, I had to work, so we couldn't go then. But we talked about going the next day. That night, I am not ashamed to say that I dreamed about getting that car.

It was a 2006 Inferno Red Limited Edition PT Cruiser, 26,500 miles, a sunroof, leather seats, power everything. It was fantastic.

The next day we started getting ready to go to the dealership and Mom called to make sure the car was still there. I couldn't hear all of the conversation, but at some point she came in and asked me where I saw the ad. This made me think that the car had sold and they wanted to know which ad they hadn't taken down. Apparently I was much more excited about this car than I realized, because when I thought it had sold I pretty much just wanted to cry. I was really disappointed. After Mom hung up with the dealership, she immediately got a call from someone else so she couldn't tell me what the dealership said. So for about half an hour I was really bummed out thinking the car I wanted was gone.

While it wasn't fun at the time, fortunately it did give me a clue as to the fact that I didn't really need to ask myself if I wanted the car. It was pretty apparent that I did. I was thrilled when I found out the car was still there.

I was so thrilled, in fact, that I wasn't even interested in going to lunch before we went to the dealership; and for those of you who know me, it takes a lot to keep me from being excited about eating. ;)

We had called ahead to the dealer so they were ready for us when we got there. I figured out which car was the one I'd seen when we drove up, and it wasn't long before we were walking out to check it out.

It was way better looking in person, but I was trying to play it cool like my parents had talked to me about. Seemed like a mighty fine idea, but when you're excited it's definitely a challenge to keep the outbursts of, "Isn't it great, Dad?" and "Ooh, look at that! I didn't know it had that!"s to a minimum.

I'd say I did alright.

I'm not sure if my parents would agree, but I think I kept it pretty cool.

We did some of our family discussing when the dealer wasn't around, and agreed it was a great deal for the price. Dad asked me if I would like it for me (Both Mom and I have been looking into getting new cars) and this was when I was especially glad for the dream about getting it coupled with the disappointment I experienced when I thought it had sold because I for once could say I did without wondering if I was making a hasty decision and not shopping around enough.

After we test drove the car, we ended up back indoors and sitting at a round table with our dealer. I think he knew he had me sold since I saw the car, because he gave me the key to hold on to while he and my Dad talked price, and all that stuff. It's actually pretty shocking how long it takes to buy a car. We probably got at the dealership around 2:30, maybe even a little earlier. When we sat down and started talking about prices and such it was probably 3--3:30, and our salesman told us he could have us out of there by 4:30.

He lied.

It took much longer. I'd say we left around 6. I did the best I could to stay interested, or at least to continue paying attention. He had us do the typical 'write-your-offer-on-this-paper' deal, and it was sort of fun to see that happen in real life. :)

Eventually we settled on a price, and they made me hit a gong. Apparently that happens when you buy a car. You hit a gong. I didn't really want to, but I have to admit it was fun. I got a round of applause from everyone else inside. Plus we took a picture. Observe:


At this point, I was getting hungry for dinner but we still had financial stuff to settle out. We ended up getting a warranty that should cover the transmission, motor, engine, etc. as well as the mechanical stuff; CD player, power windows, sunroof, etc. Which is really great because I should be able to just take the car in to the Chrysler dealership in College Station if anything ever goes wrong. Which will save me or my parents a trip one way or the other just to get things sorted out. Handy, indeed!

It was very surreal to sit there, key in hand, knowing I would walk--or really, drive--away with a car. And that it would be mine. My own. My precious.

Even though I literally held the key in my hand, it still felt sort of like a dream. But dream or not, fiddling with the key kept me entertained during some of the discussions.

PhotobucketI also stayed pretty entertained thinking about my soon-to-be car. I never expected a brand spankin' new car, but let me just say that even though this car is a 2006, it looks totally brand spankin' new. The leather is flawless, no scratches, no spots on the headliner, floor, no dings on the controls, no buttons worn off. It literally looks like a brand new car on the inside, and on the outside! And being a Limited Edition, I got a lot of little "cool factor" additions that I wouldn't have normally been able to get. Like chrome detailing, a spoiler, a fancy grill. It's absolutely incredible because I feel like I'm actually getting the experience of having a brand new car. I want to keep it totally clean, it isn't already a little dingy so that I don't care as much about keeping it perfect. Apparently the man who owned it before was a military man, and he kept the car immaculately clean. He also hardly broke it in mileage wise. I really did get a flippin' sweet deal. :)

When we sealed the deal and left the dealership, Mom took my VW and I rode with Dad in the Cruiser. I sincerely wanted to drive, but I wasn't quite sure where we were or how to get back to where we were going, plus that left me free to play with buttons, check the radio (it has a fantastic sound system, just by the way), and fawn over my cup holders. For those of you who don't know, the cup holders in my VW are...irritating. Not quite big enough to fit some cups, and good luck fitting a water bottle in there. So having cup holders that hold not only bottles and cups, but those over-sized combo upgrade drinks is pretty fantastic to me.

I talked my parents into having Sam's Pizza for dinner. And I indulged in all of the joys that come with being the owner of a new car and ogled it through the window from our table.

Needless to say, my July started out wonderfully! (We got the car on the 1st!) Now if you don't mind, I think I'll go make sure my new PT Cruiser is tucked safely in the garage. Because along with the joys of new ownership come the concerns, like hail, cat scratches, general damage, etc. But it's a small price to pay for being behind the wheel of a car you really enjoy having, driving, owning.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

How to spend your day as though it's NOT your last.

It's amazing how little it takes to waste an entire day.

For starters, try waking up late. If you can manage to remain buried under your bed sheets until at least 11:00 a.m., you're off to a fantastic start! Because then, if you take your time dragging yourself out of bed, indulge in a leisurely breakfast, and then drag your feet all the way to the shower you've probably managed to stretch out getting ready for another hour.

Try spending half an hour under the spray; make sure to lather, rinse, and repeat. A few suggestions of ways to make a shower last longer include but are not limited to:

  • Shaving
  • Washing your face
  • Making use of your back scrubber
  • Scented bodywash
  • Getting rid of that nasty dry skin on your heels that you've really been meaning to get to anyway...

  • Be creative! The above listed items are merely suggestions.

    Then, if you're like me, you'll easily use up another 30 minutes-1 hour on after-shower-activities such as moisturizer, deodorant, outfit-picking/putting-on, hair drying, hair straightening, and make-up application.

    By now, if you slept until at least 11 as recommended, it should be at least 1pm, perhaps even 1:30.

    Next comes a late lunch. A very late lunch. While it's true that hopping in the car to pick up fast food does a bad job of taking up time, it's usually what's most likely to happen on one of these ridiculously lazy days. Pick your poison, drive through, and bring it back home. Because if you eat it in the car, that's even more time you're not wasting.

    By the time you get your food back home and eat it, it's probably somewhere between 2 or 2:30. You're well on your way to wasting the whole day!

    Another thing that can eat up some time is turning on the T.V. while you eat. Chances are you'll finish your food within 20 minutes, but if you find the right show, or pop in a DVD, you'll greatly increase your chances of watching T.V. for several hours.

    By the time your eyes start to get tired, or you start to get a headache due to lack of physical activity, you'll be ready for a nap. Naps are excellent ways to relax the hours away as they can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. And the best part is, since you've spent your day doing just about nothing anyway, when you wake up from your nap you'll probably feel groggy.

    Since you probably took a nap on the sofa, your trusty remote keeping you warm, you can just sit up and turn that T.V. back on. By the time you watch one or two shows you'll probably be awake enough to realize that you're getting hungry again.

    And because you won't want to break the habit of the day by getting industrious and cooking yourself dinner, you can snag that frozen dinner out of the freezer or maybe order yourself a pizza. They deliver, you know, so you don't even have to get out.

    Don't be afraid to pop in a movie while you eat your dinner. That's another entertaining two or so hours.

    After dinner and a movie, it's likely to be about 9 or 10 pm. Which means bedtime is coming up. And since you just ate, if you give yourself another half hour the food will start to settle in your stomach and you'll inevitably want to go to bed soon.

    So there you have it! The perfect way to do absolutely nothing productive all day! Simply sleep late, take your time getting dressed and ready, drive
     through for lunch, watch T.V., nap, watch T.V., eat, watch T.V., go to bed.

    Like I said--it's almost uncanny how little it takes. If I can do it, you can do it.

    Best of luck!

    Saturday, June 6, 2009

    A Night with a Fiddler

    If I were a rich man!

    Alright, if I were a rich man, surely my life would be very different. But aside from that, if I were rich, I would most definitely make more trips to the theater. If I were a wealthy...woman.

    I had the delightful opportunity to go see Fiddler on the Roof with my family, and what made the experience even more exciting and once-in-a-lifetime was that this particular performance would be the last for the play's longtime star, Topol. For any of you who have seen Fiddler, I don't have to tell you that Topal is not only the star, but he IS Tevye. He was invited to open Fiddler on the Roof in London's West End in 1967, and also starred in the 1971 film, and since the opening he has appeared as Tevye over 2,500 times.

    2,500 times! Can you believe it? And you know what? He's still got it!

    It was so fantastic to get to see my absolute favorite musical live on stage and starring the Topol.

    And when I say we saw his last performance, I mean we really did! This is his farewell tour and, at least as far as my neck of the woods goes, we saw the last performance at Music Hall at Fair Park. It was running May 19-24. We went on the 24th. It was awesome!

    We managed to get there early, as was the plan. Before the show, we grabbed dinner at this great Mexican food place, El Fenix, but we were still about half an hour early for the show. Which gave us the chance to buy any souvenirs before the show, as opposed to waiting in long lines after, or during intermission. And it also all but guaranteed that any shirts/sweatshirts, etc. would still be available in our desired sizes. Which they were. And I would know. I got a tee-shirt and a pullover hoodie. :) I love them.

    Better still, our seats were great! Sort of front/middle, with a very lovely view of the stage. I didn't take any pictures during-- who really wants to be that guy, spending more time on figuring out why the flash only illuminates the heads directly in front of you instead of the actors on stage, and effectively annoying everyone directly around you? I didn't! I did take a picture of the curtain before the show started. Because it had some pretty cool looking stuff on it. 

    And while I'm on the topic of seats, seating, and so on, I'd like to point out that I don't understand wearing updo's to performances such as this. I agree that they look classy, elegant, and can really top off a nice dress (no pun intended), but the thing of it is, it's not exactly stadium seating. And I can't very well sit in a booster seat just so that I can see over the top of your 'do, ma'am. But it's not just ladies! Granted the guys don't necessarily toss their locks up in fancy twists, buns, or whatever, but they can have hair that's hard to see around -- especially because they're usually taller in the first place. I, on the other hand, am not. Tall. I'm short. So even the guy sitting in front of me who'd decided to style his hair in the popular and easy-to-achieve messy style posed a problem for me. Particularly because the one part of his hair that was really sticking up was in the back. To me, it almost looked like an unwanted tuft of grass on the stage. But that's not really the point. It wasn't too problematic for me this go around, but I imagine I'm not the only person who has trouble seeing over hair. Anyway, maybe I'm wrong, but trust me, it's not very much fun to dish out your money for good seats and then have to crane your neck to see over or around the tall, done up, big, or excessive hair belonging to the person who's seating in front of you. Just a thought.

    I also snapped a couple of pictures of me and my parents while we waited. Proof of our going was necessary. At least that's how I felt. But after that, there wasn't much else to take pictures of, so I put my camera away and we skim-read our playbills.

    When the play started and the first song began, I won't lie; I got a little emotional. Mostly that joy kind of emotion, because I mean it when I say this is my favorite musical ever, and Topol's voice is fantastic. The dancing, the singing, it was so awesome to be there and actually get to see it as it happens instead of on a television screen. All of the acting was great, too. Seriously, hats off to all of those incredibly talented people! Topol was amazing, not that I expected anything less, and the music was wonderful, too! Really, not a bad thing to say about the whole thing.

    Probably one of the less recognized talents of the night, though, was the woman directing traffic in the ladies restroom. We had a mere 15 minute intermission with which to use the facilities, and I don't know that it would have been possible if not for the woman at the head of the line, an employee of the venue, who would call out "Two available!", "One available!", "One on the left!", and herd us through the process. It was really quite effective, much to my surprise, but Mom and I still have to run to make it to the theater doors before they closed us out at the start of the second half!

    One of my favorite parts had to be seeing Topol do the signature dance (if you've seen the movie/play, you know the one) during If I Were a Rich Man. Definitely one of the great moments. But it would be impossible to pick just one.

    It was a long play, but never too long. The story is engaging anyway, and the second half didn't lose any steam or fall short of the first half in any way. And in that same respect, the audience's enthusiasm never diminished. The standing ovation at the end lasted from the finishing line through two bouts of cast bowing without dwindling or breaking up; and it erupted when Topol made his front and center gracious bow.

    Leaving was a bit trying, since everyone else is trying to leave at the same time. Mom took my picture next to the poster for the performance, but what really took longest was waiting for our car. When we got there, valet service was very helpful --no need to hunt for a spot, or make a long walk and not be early after all. But the poor guys (and at least one girl, I saw) were swamped with little valet tickets and were doing the best they could to run back and forth between dropping off a car and going for the next. Some of the actors came out the stage entrance/exit doors, but there was such a big crowd of people waiting, presumably for Topol, and as I've said I'm short so seeing over their heads wasn't an option. The wait for our car took so long I thought I might get to see Topol after all, but just before we got our car, someone came out and told the waiting throng of people that he [Topol] thought we were his best audience and he was thankful for us, but that he wasn't feeling well. Or something to that effect. Again, big crowd, me in the back, not so easy to hear what was said. I didn't really mind, though, because that made it possible for me to leave without feeling like I was missing out on something.

    Anyway, it was an unforgettable night; a night I'll never forget! I'm so thankful I could go with my parents and that we got to see it with Topol. I highly recommend actually going to a live performance of something. It's much better than the movies. But the movies are nice, too, for when we can't go to a show, or don't have enough money. 

    But definitely go. 

    And don't wear your hair up, just in case someone short has seats behind you. ;)

    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Endings, Beginnings, the number 22, and Vacation!

    To say that the past month or so has been busy would  be largely an understatement. I've had several things going on, including but not limited to finals, graduations, a birthday, moving preparations, and vacation. Fortunately all of these things are good, positive, etc. If they weren't, I'm not sure I would have managed to survive it all.

    It seems like a lot longer since I wrapped up my finals and graduated with my Associates. At the time, panic was pretty much what I was feeling. Thankfully I passed all my finals. In fact, I managed to make straight A's this semester. Who knew? There was a brief moment of extended panic when I went to pick up my cap and gown -- because the letter I received in the mail informed me that I could pick them up starting April 20, I assumed that meant I could pick them up starting April 20th. Turns out that's not true. In fact, it wasn't until May 4th (give or take a few days) that they were supposed to be on our campus. Naturally the 4th was when I got sick, and remained so until the end of the week, which meant I was a little last minute picking up my cap and gown. Although if you ask me, saying you'll have them April 20th and not actually having them until May 4th is a little last minute as well. Anyhow, when I went to pick them up on Friday, I discovered the bookstore (where I was supposed to get them) closed at noon. It was about 2pm. So I ask another lady and she says I might have to drive to Corsicana if she can't get ahold of someone. I was so not going to drive to Corsicana. That would defeat the purpose of graduating in Midlothian, as if that didn't go without saying. She did manage to contact someone who said there was an extra cap and gown and I could pick it up after I signed in on the day of graduation, which had me a little antsy. Oh, by the way, the letter that told me I could pick them up starting the 20th? Apparently it also SHOULD HAVE told me that I needed to ORDER a cap and gown. Which it didn't. So I hadn't ordered one. So it was just a miracle that the one they had wasn't too long, too short, too small, too large, or any other too you could imagine considering I was just fingers-crossed hoping it would work fine.

    But as it turned out, all went well. I ended up lined up next to a guy I graduated high school with. Small world. I didn't trip, or fall, or make a fool of myself when I walked across the stage. My only complaint would have to be the overwhelming amount of screaming children that littered the audience. Those little guys I could have done without. It was shocking.

    Anyhow, as all of this was happening I was also waiting for a college acceptance letter. It was my hope to transfer to Texas A&M in the Fall, and I'd already worked out where I was going to live, who I was going to room with, etc. etc., so I was very anxious to find out if the most important part was going to come through or not. As luck would have it, I got accepted! So my graduation celebration sort of morphed into this "Whoop! I graduated, and Yippee! I got accepted!" thing. I was able to more or less immediately register for my New Student Conference business, which is actually coming up on Tuesday, so that's all moving right along as well. Again I entered a brief extended panic mode when, after checking online and seeing that I needed to register for my conference, and deciding to wait until I got home (I was staying at a friends), and then LATER checking and reading the horrible words, "Your deadline for registering has expired", I was afraid I'd messed up by not doing it sooner. Again, fortunately, that was cleared up as my deadline wasn't as soon because I'm a Transfer student.

    So there's that.

    Then the birthday. My birthday. Yes, I'm 22. And I'm still not sure exactly how that happened. Or really where the time went. And on my literal birth date, my best friend's graduation was taking place, so I more or less spent the day doing that. But I'm not complaining. I'm very excited for him! And as I am off to A&M in the Fall, he's continuing HIS education by attending NYU for his Masters. So we had a joint graduation-birthday hoopla.

    Then the FOLLOWING day, as in the day right after my birthday/his graduation, we loaded up his car with luggage and three other people and made an 8 hour drive up to St. Louis. Which is where my vacation happened. Which was fan. tastic.

    We stayed with his sister and her husband, who were gracious enough to let us live in their home for a week. We had so much fun! We went to the St. Louis Zoo, the Art Museum, the History Museum, the Science Place, the park, a Cardinal's game, the Arch, the Landing... I have literally hundreds of pictures, partly because I bought myself a new camera before the trip and it's wonderful. We did so much that separate updates are called for, so after I wrap up this "Here's what's been going on!" post, I'll get cracking on more. So many exciting, new, enjoyable experiences with some really awesome people. 

    Thank God for vacations.

    I just got home yesterday, and tonight I'm going to see Fiddler on the Roof! Absolutely my favorite musical. So no doubt I'll be posting about that as well.

    Tomorrow I'm leaving again to attend my conference in College Station, so there's another few days I'll be gone. It's definitely been a busy few weeks, but I'll take busy-fun to busy-miserable any day of the week. :)

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Project Resolution: Spontaneity

    Well, I've done it again. I've gone and started posts and had to leave, saving them for later and then neglecting them completely.

    For instance, here's one from January. Yes, January.

    And, in fact, that is the reason for this update. To bring my latest update, but not my "newest" update, to the top of the list. But without having to change the original post entry date.

    So, ta-da! Click that link and you can read my most recently completed entry. It'll be good, I swear. There's Casinos--well, one casino...-- mystery, merriment towards fellow man... Or at least some pretty pictures!

    Now, back to wrapping up some other incomplete entries that have yet to be completed.

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    Super Granny

    With a title like Super Granny, you know she had to be a very special lady. And she was indeed that. She bestowed the title upon herself, but she always was so super that I never questioned it. Instead, I assumed that she really was everything she had claimed to be. She was always super--Heck, maybe even super duper. In fact, lose the maybe; she was even Super Duper-- and that was all I needed to know. She more than lived up to the title.

    My Super Granny would have been 85 just a couple of days ago, February 5. The fact that we didn't get to celebrate that birthday with her is something that I know cuts deep, not only for me, but for my whole family.

    Super Granny was a giver. Of many things. To me, she gave love, joy, good advice, lessons on life experience, and a lot of fabulous presents! To my Dad she gave life, love, discipline, understanding, support, and, among countless other things, an incredible and undying model of parenthood. And I know that when my Dad married my Mom, she gave her many, many of those very same things.

    And let's face it; without her, our Christmas tree would never have overflowed quite like it has for so many Christmases past.

    It's so strange for me to think that I'll never see her again. I saw her just this past Christmas, and she was fine. Just as headstrong and independent as ever. I think it'll be a  very long while before I forgive myself for not even saying goodbye. I knew she was leaving, the last day I saw her, in the back of my mind I remembered. But I was in a hurry, as so many of us are these days, and I somehow just assumed that I'd hug her neck and say a proper goodbye later. 

    Unfortunately that wasn't the case.

    Hearing what had happened was like a slap in the face. It was always what Mom and I would call our "worst fear". Even still, when it actually became reality, it seemed like the least likely explanation. That there must be something else, or that it was some kind of bad joke. Or maybe just a miscommunication. Still, what was our "worst fear" turned out to be the very best for Super Granny. She passed away in her sleep-- in her bed, in her home. What better way is there to go?

    I will always miss Super Granny, but she's keeping better company now than she ever could here with us. It's always hard to say goodbye, and it's even harder to remember to celebrate their life rather than dwell on the sadness of loss. I just try to remember that it's only a "loss" for us. For her, now, everything is perfect. Everything is as it should be.

    I love you, Super Granny. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being absolutely everything that a super granny should.

    My family, at the LaDuke Family Reunion
    Summer 2008

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Spontaneity, Thou Art Achieved

    Still in an attempt to better myself in the ways outlined by my belated New  Years
     Resolutions,  I made a very spur of the moment trip with a couple of friends just across the Oklahoma border.
    To gamble.

    Yes, we made a mini-road trip to the Winstar Casino and, although none of us three walked away millionaires, or even thousandaires, we had a really fun time.

    And I have pictures to prove it.

    Behold! Evidentiary support that will without a doubt prove to you, the esteemed members of the virtual jury, that I have in fact succeeded at least a little in the area of increased
    What you are about to see will prove that 
    without a shadow of a doubt--

    I gave this one some 'special effects' since it was blurry in the first place.

    A pretty spiffy fountain, if I do say so myself!

    Mel tries her luck!

    At one point, luck seemed to be on my side for once! I had put in a $20 and lo and behold, I'd increased my assets by a little, totalling $50 from that one twenty I'd put in. Instead of behaving sensibly, like I'd told myself I'd try to do, I figure what the hay, maybe I can turn that fifty into a hundred! Here I am, wearing a very proud grin as I wait for the machine to finish counting up my last win:

    So things are going fine (if you overlook the fact that I only have a dollar left to my name, at least as far as the casino is concerned) and we're all having a great time. This one machine we keep coming back to. It's pretty fun. It's called "Poppit".
    Now I really don't know much, okay anything, about gambling, but I know that I can press buttons as good as anybody I know, so this game totally appeals to me. But I guess at some point during my avid button-pressing, I offend the leprechauns dwelling inside, because the next thing I know, the machine stops working...

    I wasn't quite sure what to do, so Megan took it upon herself to track down an employee. Of course as soon as she walked away, someone else came and fixed my machine. And since I had pretty much no cell signal (Thanks AT&T for raising the bar!), I couldn't call her to let her know I'd found someone, or rather that someone had found me, so she eventually returned with someone who was likely not too thrilled to arrive only after the problem was solved.

    But still!

    It was, all in all, a fantastic time! I tried something new, something I'd never done, and it was a blast. I'm no where near wealthy enough (or irresponsible enough) to gamble very often, but I'd definitely go back. 

    So there, that's my little pat on the back for seeing one of my New Years Reso's come to pass. 

    Spontaneity. Thou art achieved.

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Project Resolution

    In an attempt to actually realize all of the goals I've set for myself--and to know when to break out the champagne and celerate victory-- I am enacting a little something I'm calling Project Resolution.

    Project Resolution will be a series of posts, each for a different New Years resolution I've accomplished.

    From now until, really, the end of the year I suppose, each time I meet one of my goals or do something that gets me closer to aforementioned goal, there will be a new Project Resolution post. Complete with which resolution has been met.

    So, ta-da! This is my plan for reaching my goals. I have high hopes that it will succeed.

    Only time will tell.

    To be continued...

    Friday, January 9, 2009

    Happy New Year!

    Alright, alright, so I'm a bit late. But it's not because I don't care. It's just because 2009 kicked off and hasn't let up much since it started. Between work, maintaining a semblance of a social life, and writing and rewriting those resolutions I haven't had time to just sit down and exist without multitasking in some way shape or form.

    So, I hope that everyone had a wonderful New Year's Eve and rang in 2009 with plenty of gusto! And also that it was a safe day for everybody.

    Now, about those resolutions, which I expect are or have been conjured up by many more people besides myself, (which subsequently may or may not be strictly kept). I may still add some to my list, but so far mine are as follows:

    The Resolutions* I Hereby Make for New Year
    *Resolutions are subject to change without notice.  
    Any resolution listed may be amended or discontinued at any time. For further information, please see our FAQ's page.

    1. Lighten up. 
    Don't take yourself so seriously, and try not to take everything  personally. It'll add years to your life, and will make you more fun to be around.
    2. Be spontaneous.
    It's fun, it's unexpected, what could possibly go wrong? Okay, so a few things might go wrong. Still, what have you got to lose? Besides, don't they always say to expect the  unexpected? Maybe that's not such a bad idea. Or even if you don't expect it, look to participate in it.
    3. Ditch the comfort zone.
    At least a little. You don't always have to be uncomfortable, but try going new places, meeting new people. Break out of your shell and experience things you wouldn't necessarily have thought of in the first place. Don't turn up your nose at something when you don't know for sure whether you'll like it or not.

    4. Set goals.
    Who says you must suffer a flogging if you don't reach a few of them? It never hurts to try, and if you don't set any goals for yourself then you sure as heck won't meet any. Not only does it give you something to do, even a purpose if you will, but it also makes you feel pretty darn good when you succeed.

    5. Be proud.
    Don't be afraid to let yourself acknowledge your accomplishments. This doesn't mean you have to be a braggart. There isn't anything wrong with telling yourself "Good job!" or having pride in something you've done. Now, rubbing it in everyone's face might not be the best thing to do, but it sure isn't great to walk around as if you're a useless slob who has yet to accomplish anything in your whole pathetic life. It just isn't so. Hold your head up high and say not only "I can," but also, "I did. And I did it darn well!"

    6. Be yourself.
    Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Stop looking to others to see where you should be, what you should have accomplished, what your goals should be, and what you should want. It's okay to be you, it's okay to be different. It's not a race, it's not a competition. Allowing yourself to be comfortable where you are and with what you have will open doors to success in many other areas. Just think, with all of that time you spend thinking about your shortcomings, failures, etc. now free, there's no end to what you can accomplish!

    7. Grow up.
    Take responsibility for yourself, and all of the things that fall under the category of "should be taken care of by me". This means bills, chores, work, all of it. Don't expect everyone else to be there to do the things you don't want to or the things you think you can't. Manage your time and money properly, learn to tell yourself no. Things can wait. Responsibilities can't. It's a hard fact of life, but it's a fact that's better learnt sooner rather than later.

    Since 7 is one of those good numbers, I'm stopping there. That's all I've got. Certainly more could be added, and might be if I can think of other things I'd like to see myself strive towards. But for now, surely that's a lot to work on as it is. I'm far from perfect, and sometimes a little self-reevaluation is a positive thing. It gives you the opportunity to sit down and really think about and realize what you are, who you are, and if there are things you'd like to see yourself do different. I know I have plenty of those things myself.

    Good luck to everyone on keeping your resolutions! Hopefully we can all better ourselves and maybe next year have even less resolutions than the year before. Or at least all new ones. I mean, of course one of mine is "drop a few pounds", but that's such a cliche why even bother adding it to the list? I don't even think it's an earnest resolution anymore, so much as a daily mantra.

    Again, I hope everyone's New Year is off to a great start, and will only continue to get better! If you haven't made your resolutions yet, never fear and don't despair! There's still plenty of time to figure out what resolutions, if any, you should have. 

    Until then, enjoy the conversation with your inner-self. If yours is as attention starved as mine, it could be a long talk. 

    Perhaps it's best to grab a cup of coffee and settle into a comfortable chair...