Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Almost Alumni

By this time next week, I will officially be a Texas A&M University graduate.

Guys, holy cow.

I...don't even know what to do with myself. I'm this crazy mix of emotions. Predominately happy and sad. Happy because, well, it's about freaking time! Sad because I've enjoyed my time at A&M and in some ways I'm not exactly ready for it to end. And then there's the nervousness. Because in a few hours less than a week, I will be walking across the stage in front of thousands of people. And I'm really terrified that I'm going to trip.

So there's that.

But I'd say I'm mostly excited. I graduate at 9 a.m. December 17th, so I'll be getting up pretty early that day. That's okay, though—I have big, fantastic plans to drop by Starbucks before I go, so I should be caffeined-up and ready to rock the cap and gown.

And since I can't mail you, my lovely followers, my graduation announcement, I thought I'd post a picture of it.

The front!
The inside!
Ordering announcements was an adventure in and of itself. Way too many options for me to process, and way too many extras to add. And way too much money to spend. I managed to keep it right at $100, but still. Good grief. That's a lot of money for just 30 announcements. Even including the envelopes, seals, return address labels, and such. Fortunately I won't have to do this again. Unless I go to grad school. But I am choosing not to think about that yet.

All that's really left to do is order the diploma frame. And, you know, do the whole walking thing. Then I can finally stop stressing about it.

Yep, then I can just start stressing about the whole rest of my life.

But I've got plenty of time for that.

I've been spending a lot of my time thinking about graduation day, worrying about it, mulling it over. In the end, I've decided that instead of completely freaking out about the ominous "What's Next?", I'm instead going to take some time to just enjoy being done. Just being proud of what I accomplished.

Plus, Christmas is coming up. And Christmas is my favorite holiday. So I'm really intending to focus on fun, family, and happiness.

I should have a couple of new things coming up for you guys—I'll be posting some more of my writing. I've had a couple of people express interest in reading what I wrote for the Gross Out assignment in my workshop. I also plan to post what I wrote for my final, which is basically a parody of a final. So that should be fun.

Stay tuned, and as always, thanks so much for following my blog, guys!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Evening with Stephen King

Tonight I had the wonderful privilege to attend An Evening with Stephen King—hosted by A Real Bookstore. Many of you may already know that Stephen King is basically my idol. So I'm sure you can imagine just how thrilling this was for me.

But just in case you can't, I thought I'd relive the experience here for you guys. Also, I have pictures to share.

I found out about this event last month—completely by accident. I'm ashamed to say I had no idea the wildly talented Mr. King would be in the area at all. I knew his new book (11/22/63) was coming out soon, but it never occurred to me to check and see what kind of a book tour there would be.

Turns out, it was a really small tour. I got lucky. He came to Dallas—twice. Once at the Majestic Theater, and the second time, the one I went to, at McKinney North High School.

I'm not exactly sure why A Real Bookstore picked the high school as the venue, but I'll tell you this—it was actually a really great place for this. It seated about a thousand. And rest assured, it was a full house. We were allowed in the parking lot at 4 (after school let out). Which, in this case, was great. Because since no one could park before 4, there was absolutely no rush to get there before 4. Otherwise I would have felt the need to camp out by the door as soon as the sun rose. Anyway, I got there a little past four—traffic, of course—but we only had to stand in line outside until 5. Then we were allowed in.

I have to say, it was really awesome to be able to sit and wait instead of stand and wait. Because the actual event didn't begin until 7.

I also have to say, I'm really glad I picked up my ticket the day before because the will-call line didn't move at all until we were practically being let inside.

Seating was first come, first served. Another reason I insisted on being right on time, or as close to it as I could manage. I ended up getting a pretty darn good seat, if I do say so myself. Not quite in the front row, which I would have loved. But still close to the front. And I got a free A Real Bookstore tote bag in my seat. Another plus!
My ticket! And my free bag!
I sat next to a couple of friendly people (who had also come solo), which was awesome—I had brought my iPad along, expecting to be bored out of my mind while waiting, but instead I had some very pleasant conversations and got to talk about favorite King novels, how early I started reading his work (somewhere around 5th grade), and how excited we were to be there.

While we waited, a brass trio played jazz for us. And then the McKinney High Jazz Band played some songs. They were actually really good! And I was super surprised at how fast those two hours went by. A Real Bookstore had also put together a slideshow of Stephen King trivia and fun-facts (most of which the woman next to me knew!). There was even an official Twitter hash tag for the event!
The jazz trio. :)
I was all set with not one but two cameras (and my iPhone), and had triple-checked to make sure the flash wouldn't fire—the only condition of photography; it was allowed as long as we didn't use flash. But then I discovered that the red-eye light was also not okay. I panicked a little bit, thinking I wouldn't be able to figure out how in the world to cover up the thing.

Guys, I even went so far as to put bandaids over it (which actually worked pretty well). But then I decided I'd actually look in my camera settings and...voila! I figured out how to turn it off. On my Canon. My Nikon, I'm sad to say, was not so lucky. So it stayed in my purse the whole time.

And I gotta say, my Canon did a bang-up job. It was an excellent sidekick for the evening. And a trooper. Because, believe it or not, I took a whopping 260 pictures during the event. But I learned a long time ago, take a ton of pictures—if you do, you WILL get some good ones. Better safe than sorry. That's my philosophy.
The King!
The whole thing was a blast. Stephen (yes, we're on first name basis) looked so comfortable up there on stage—he owned it. And guys, he's funny. Seriously funny. It was sort of like seeing a stand-up comedy routine. He cracked jokes, poked fun, and was all around delightful and charming. He told stories about people mistaking him for Spielberg and Coppola, and about his experiences in Dallas while he was researching 11/22/63.

If you want to know what11/22/63 is about, here's a summary.
On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force.*
And hearing him talk about writing was a dream come true for me. As an aspiring author who can't wait to be published, I couldn't ask for advice or wisdom from a better person—especially considering King is a huge influence for me. I mean, I learned to embrace the beauty of a well-placed sentence fragment from this man. The best advice of the night, at least for me personally, was this: And I'm sad I must paraphrase, but still: "If you're someone who wants to write, you needn't worry about the business side of things. Just get your words on paper. Words on paper, words on paper. The rest will follow." Again, that's a paraphrase. But the basic idea is there.

Words on paper. Words on paper. Words on paper.

Yes, this is my new mantra.

He talked for a little while, shared stories, and was met with generous applause and laughter. Then he read a short section of his book, which was highly enjoyable. He's got a good voice to give a reading; not boring or monotone or unengaged? something like that? And the excerpt really got me excited to read the book.
During the reading.
After the reading, he did a Q&A. I wish I'd really sat down and thought of a good question to submit, because after I got in the car to head back I thought of a million I wish I'd asked. But he was such a good sport and he answered all the questions asked of him, and was genuinely appreciative of the response he got from the audience for the evening.

He also talked about some upcoming books—another in the Dark Tower series,

All in all, it lasted a little over an hour. It was the first time I'd ever seen Stephen King in "real life", I suppose you'd say. And it was great. I always worry that people I idolize will be...disappointing in reality. But Stephen is anything but a disappointment.

He is a charismatic, charming man. Brilliant. Overflowing with ideas, creativity, and he is truly passionate about writing. He loves what he does—at one point in the evening, he said doing events like this were always a little uncomfortable for him because he feels he's meant to be in a room by himself writing stories.

I love the way he puts it—he's made to write stories. Not to get published, be famous, make millions. But to write stories.
Listening to a question.
This man is such an incredible inspiration to me, and I am absolutely thrilled to have had the chance to see him in person, and in a fairly intimate setting. One thousand people is a lot, but being as close as I was, it didn't feel like a huge venue.

And I walked away with a whole new appreciation for the man who's practically always been my favorite author.

I'm sad to report that I did not get an autographed copy of the book (250 autographed copies were mixed in with the 1,000 that were handed out to us). But the woman sitting next to me did! (Congratulations!)

But that's okay, because the experience itself was the true treasure for me. And I really enjoyed sharing it with you guys!


*Excerpt from Amazon's book description.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 Crazy Days

Happy November, folks! Halloween has come and gone, and do you know what that means? It's National Novel Writing Month again! (Or NaNoWriMo, for those of you who've heard of this before!)


What is National Novel Writing Month? Well. It's this crazy thing some of us who like to write do. It takes up the whole month of November—all 30 days. And in 30 days, we aim to write 50,000 words. A novel!

It's a lot of fun. It may sound impossible to write so much in a mere 30 days, but I'm here to tell you it IS possible! I'm a NaNo veteran and I've made it to the finish line on more than one occasion!

The idea of National Novel Writing Month is to just write your novel—don't edit, don't think too hard about it. Just let the words come. And come. And come. There's plenty of time to rewrite and change and add and take away in December. Look at it this way—you can't edit anything if you don't write anything to begin with!

Are any of you guys taking on NaNoWriMo this year? I am!

Considered it, but decided against it because you don't have a plan or plot outlined? Reconsider! I don't have a plan or plot outlined, either. And if you'd like a Writing Buddy, feel free to add me over at NaNoWriMo.org!

It's free to sign up, and there is absolutely no penalty if you don't reach 50k. There's no way to LOSE at NaNoWriMo. And even if you only write 5,000 words, that's 5,000 you didn't have before!

Interested? Head over to NaNoWriMo's website and learn more! You can also check them out on Twitter and Facebook! And be sure to stockpile lots of coffee and snacks—there will likely be late nights of writing furiously involved.

NaNoWriMo starts today, but don't worry—there's still plenty of time to get started!

So, who's joining in this year? If you are—do you have a plan? Or are you winging it like me?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Aggie Ring Day!

If you've been keeping up with my blog, then you undoubtedly have heard me mention that I'd be getting my Aggie ring soon (It finally happened!) and you've probably heard it mentioned on more than one occasion.

I've been meaning to type up this post for awhile now. I did, after all, get my ring on September 16th. I know, I'm a tad behind schedule. A lot of this is my fault. I've been so lazy. It's shameful. But, on the other hand, I did leave for a week long trip to Colorado shortly after Ring Day (But that's a post for another time. Honest!) so things did get a bit hectic for awhile there.

Anyway, I've finally got my pictures sorted through, and I'm super excited to share them with you guys!

So, without further ado, my Ring Day!

My parents drove down the morning of, and it was really exciting when they showed up! I wanted to be over to the Alumni Center early, so we headed over shortly after they arrived. And, true to form, the first placed I stopped on the way was Starbucks. Because I don't like to start my day when I'm absent my coffee.

Me and Dad at Starbucks.
Mom's behind the camera. :)
That was our only stop on the way—after Starbucks, we headed straight to the Alumni Center. Well. Straight to the parking garage. Then we walked a few blocks. THEN we were at the Alumni Center. But it was a nice walk; the way was pleasant. Not too hot, which was a miracle—the past several days down here in College Station had been in the upper 90s. And it was fun to walk with my parents on campus. I got to point out some of the places I see all the time.
Like this!
Our usual bookstore is getting a remodel.
So it's taken up residence here in the Coliseum.
Since I managed to score a spot in the first round of ring pick-ups, it wasn't very busy when we got there. We even managed to get a spot indoors, in the air conditioning. Winning! Inside was much more crowded than outside. Full of anxious Aggies eager to finally slip that Aggie Ring on their finger.

Our Yell Leaders (we don't have cheerleaders) up on the balcony.
We had a quick Yell Practice about five minutes before the first pick up!
Pick up areas were split off into three sections, by alphabet. My line happened to be right by the door we walked in. So convenient! We took our place in line—well, I did. And my parents stood with me!—and counted down the minutes. We were only about half an hour early. Just early enough to get a good spot in line without a super long wait.

Right under that maroon and white balloon arch.
That's where my Aggie Ring is. :)
Once they called the first pick up time (2:00, if you were curious!), things actually went surprisingly fast. Props to A&M for figuring out a way to organize such a huge event. Over 3,500 Aggies got their rings on that day, and pick up times were in 15 minute increments; from 2:00 to 7:00. I walked under the arch, and in the room we were again split up by alphabet. I stood in line behind a group of people, not quite sure which line they were in, and then Dad figured out that they were in the line next to where I needed to be—no one was in my line! So I stepped right up, presented my student I.D. and driver's license, and my Ring Day ticket, then signed my name and TA-DA!

I'm presented with my Aggie Ring! WHOOP!

Putting it on for the first time! :D
After finally getting my ring (isn't it GORGEOUS!) we headed outside. I had a coupon for one free professional photograph at my choice of a few 'landmarks' around the Alumni Center. I chose one of my favorite statues; two replica Aggie Rings.

This is the picture Mom took of me getting my picture taken. :)
And that was that! I had my Aggie Ring! FINALLY. And it was so awesome to get to have my parents down, even though they could only stay for one night. We went to dinner at Ninfa's to celebrate. Because their enchiladas are to die for, and they have fantastic margaritas, too!

The professional photo has reached my house—I haven't seen it yet. I haven't had a chance to go home yet! But Mom says it looks good. So here's hopin'!

And I'm already developing a tan-line where I wear my ring. Because I wear it pretty much all the time. I just take it off to sleep. :)

It feels really great to finally have what's come to be, to me at least, a symbol of all I've accomplished. Just looking at it reminds me of all the hard work I've done, and all the hours I've put in, and the effort I've put forth. It's all worth it. So worth it. And I'm so proud! I'm glad I finally got to share this experience with you guys. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Man's Best Friend

There are certain things you learn when you become a dog owner. Not only do you learn a lot more about dogs—the things they eat, the things they chew, how many bottles of Resolve you go through during potty-training—but you also learn a lot about yourself. I know I have.

I wanted to share with you my wisdom. Or, the wisdom I've been granted thanks to my dogs—both past and present.

A few of my lovely dogs.
Top right; Kelsi. Top left; Tucker. Bottom; Cowboy.
Standing around, repeating, "Need to?" and "Go teedle!" will make you humble. So will stooping over to pick up their...leavings...

"Doggie Bags" will no longer bring to mind restaurant leftovers.

You can tell a dog owner by the slobber on the inside of their passenger window.

You are much more capable of baby talk than you ever imagined.

Sometimes a comforting lick is just as good as, if not better than, a hug.

Toys that boast, "Will keep your dog busy for hours!" will probably not live up to that promise.

When puppies are teething, NOTHING is safe.

The difference between acceptable behavior and unsocialized behavior is the difference between "your dog" or "their dog."

Dogs can totally laugh at you. Also, they do totally laugh at you.

Dogs are way more loyal than people. They always listen, they love to be around you, they don't care what you look like with no make-up on, they'll never stab you in the back, they'll forgive you for anything, and they would lay down their life for you without a second thought.

Feeding your dog table scraps can backfire. Big time.

You will become that person who always brings a conversation back to your dog.

You will find reasons to show everyone pictures of your dog, whether they want to see them or not.

My dog has made me a much more patient person.

It is almost impossible to disappoint a dog.

The entire world obviously smells much more interesting than you will ever know.

Dog hair gets on EVERYTHING. Even places that your dog has NEVER BEEN.

Every dog has a different personality.

My dog is probably smarter than me. That would not surprise me at all.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Attack of the Lazy

As you may have noticed, it's been quite some time since my last update!

For this, I am truly sorry.

I wish I could give some sort of long-winded but legitimate excuse about being super busy with countless important things... Alas, I cannot. I did get busy a couple of weeks ago—I spent about a week in Colorado visiting family!—but after getting back, I haven't really been doing anything important.

So long story short, I have no excuse.

Can you ever forgive me?

I hope so.

Anyway, moving on! I have a couple of things I want to share with you guys, but they both deserve their own posts. So I'll just allude to them here, and let you get excited to read them when they come up. It WILL be soon, I promise.

First is Aggie Ring Day. If you've noticed my Ring Day Countdown Clock on my blog, then you've likely also noticed that Ring Day came and went, and without any blog post about it. That is soon to change, my friends. On top of my admitted laziness, while I was away from my desktop I was unable to go through the pictures I took that day. Now that I'm back home with my beloved iMac, I can finally sift through the pictures and find the best of the best to include in my post. So pictures and paragraphs praising my lovely new Aggie Ring are soon to come. I can't wait to show you guys!

Here's a sneak peak! ;)
Secondly, I wanted to blog about my trip to Colorado. It's always a lot of fun seeing family, especially when story swapping happens. I spent several evenings sitting with my parents and my uncles talking about family history, their childhood, anything and everything. It's such a treat to get to listen to these slice-of-life anecdotes. One, in fact, I'm attempting to write. Bits of it are fictionalized, of course—it's one of those tales where 'nobody knows the whole story'. But still, I just thought it was interesting. One of these days, maybe I'll post an excerpt. Anyway, the problem with getting the Colorado post up and running is this—for once, I didn't take many pictures myself. I come from a family of photographers, so Dad took a bunch of pictures, not to mention video, and my Mom took the other half of the pictures. As soon as I get copies from my parents, I'll be going through them and picking some out for the CO blog post.

But listen, I know it's kind of a cop-out to write a blog post about upcoming blog posts, so let's talk about something else now.

I've been thinking lately (I know, it's dangerous.) about life and how it's going and what I'm doing and where I want to be and what I want to do. I know, a mouthful, right? The thing is, I've always been a homebody. I like being around my family and I like being in my comfort zone. But then again, every time I visit another state, I think about how cool it would be to live there. Or how interesting it would be to live somewhere else, even if just for a year or two. And then my cousin (who you'll hear more about in my Colorado post), she got married in Hawaii and looking at her pictures made me think, how cool would it be to live in Hawaii?

Seriously. What's wrong with this picture?
Okay, so that's kind of a no-brainer, I guess.

But the point is, I'm starting to wonder if maybe the reason I get so excited at the thought of moving is because I'm secretly desperate for a change of scenery. Vacations are great, don't get me wrong. But honestly, they're usually just long enough that I wish I could stay longer. My trip to New York, for instance. Amazing. Action packed. And we definitely did a million and one things. But I was only there for a week, and you just can't do New York in a week. Just about the time things get comfortable and familiar enough to really relax, I had to leave. And then this trip to Colorado. Another week long trip, and I wasn't ready to leave at all.

Don't get me wrong, I do love Texas. I mean, I was born and raised here. I feel like, at least for me personally, you can't grow up in a place and not feel at least a little bit at home there.

But you know, the older I get, the more I realize that moving doesn't have to be forever. If I decided to move out of state, or even out of country, it's not like I'm committing to living there forever, whether I end up liking it or not.

It's sort of a weird thing that's happened, now that I'm older. When you're young, home is where your parents are. You live where they live. If they move, you move. If they don't, you don't. But then, you grow up. And you realize you have all of this freedom. You get to make choices yourself, and suddenly you don't have to be where your parents are if you don't want to.

I guess I'm just thinking out loud, really. Food for thought, and all that.

What do you guys think? About relocating. Sometimes I think I need to just get out of my comfort zone. A sure-fire way to do that is to pick up and move. But it could be a little drastic. Anyway, I'm just babbling at this point.

So I'll wrap it up.

And go back to looking at pictures of tropical islands.

Oh, and writing. I'll be doing that, too.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rut Vs. Groove

Have you ever wondered what exactly the difference is between a rut and a groove? I have. I figure, a groove is something comfortable, familiar, positive even—a habit or schedule you're happy with. A rut can be comfortable, definitely familiar, but the way I see it, people aren't always happy to be stuck in a rut. They've much rather get in a groove.

Or maybe that's just me.

At any rate, the past couple of weeks have found me struggling to get back in my groove and not stuck in a rut. It isn't exactly working out so far. Basically I've been reliving the day where I'm going to get the groove thing going. Only it's turning out to be more of a rut. I've been spending my days being generally unproductive, and each day I think, 'Tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day I'll get out of the rut and into the groove.'


As you may have guessed, I'm definitely in more of a rut than a groove.

But at least I'm working on it, right?

I've got some free time on my hands this semester, which makes it really easy to get sucked in to kicking back on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. (Or playing video games*, if you must know.) So the challenge for me is to use my time wisely instead of wasting it. So I've been really trying to focus on writing. I want to make a real habit of it, a daily thing. And not just a sentence or to. Typing out emails and text messages just don't cut it. They aren't making me a better writer. The things that will better my writing? Writing, of course. And reading.

And honestly, I can think of way worse ways to spend my off time. I mean, I love writing. And I love reading. So really, I'm not sure what this rut I'm in is all about. Expect maybe a general laziness on my part.

But anyway.

September. How is it already September? That December graduation date is sneaking up on me—It'll be here before you know it. I'm not sure how I feel about that. But at least September is a good month. For a couple of reasons.

In just a little over a week, I'll finally be getting my Aggie Ring! (WHOOP!)

I'm super stoked for this, you guys. I mean, I'm really freaking excited. And happy. And my parents are coming, and we're all going to be excited and happy together. So there's that.

And toward the end of this month, I'll be taking a trip to Colorado with my parents. My cousin is getting married. Well, she's getting married in Hawaii. But they live in Colorado, and that's where they're having their reception. The best part? I mean, besides the visiting Colorado part? Since I only have one class this semester, I'll be able to be gone for like a week and still only miss one class day.

Excellent.

No 100s! No 100s!!!
But perhaps the most exciting development in my life right now is that Texas has finally decided to calm down on the heat wave. Why, just the other day I took a trip to Starbucks and sipped my coffee outside. OUTSIDE. A miracle. The forecast for the week down here may be full of 90s, but that's much better than the triple digit misery we'd been having!

I may be a bit premature, but I don't even care—Fall is in the air, you guys. I can feel it.

I love Fall.



*specifically, one video game. Dead Island. Which I recently acquired. And boy, I do love killing zombies... What? No, I'm not ridiculous... Okay, maybe a little ridiculous...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Change of Sorts

If you're reading this, then you've likely noticed the new layout happening over here on my blog! I've been trying so hard to find a new layout, a new design, a new anything to spice it up. I'll just be honest—what I had been using...well, I'd been using it for quite some time. And I was ready for something a little different.
This here is my new layout, folks. What do you think?
This is probably only the third true 'revamp' I've done. This is mostly due to the fact that I know little to nothing about HTML and the like, so once I get a template working for me, I'm hesitant to go back to the drawing board.

But it was time. I hope you guys like the new layout. To be honest, I'm not 100% sure that it'll really stick around. I'm still in the process of looking at other options. Actually, I've been spending the bulk of my time trying to figure out how to make one of my own. Or at least use one of my own photos for a background. I have high aspirations, but unfortunately it's much easier said than done!

That being said, I'll probably leave this up for a little while. I may keep tweaking things.

So if you come back to my blog tomorrow and things look different, never fear! It's still me here. And all is well.

And don't worry—I've got more blog posts in the works.

I was just excited about the proverbial face-lift my blog has gotten.

What do you guys think? Feel free to sound off in the comments!

Also, for you Facebookers out there, feel free to mosey on over to Pencil to Paper on Facebook and "Like" what's going on over there!*
We're having fun over on Facebook! I'd love for you to join in! :)


*Yes, this is a shameless plug.




EDIT
I know I literally just posted about how I made some changes and whatnot, but...I've made some more changes. Again. Not just because I'm weird and I can't commit to a new design, but actually because of an issue with the 'Comment' feature. The issue being that with the new template I had, there wasn't a way to leave a comment without a few extra steps.

So. I've got another new look happening now. I think I like it. I'm still toying with it in Photoshop to see if I can't personalize it a little more, but by using a background instead of a template, it's easier for me to customize my blog using Blogger's page editing tools. So consider this The Revamp, Take 2.

What do you guys think?
New layout. 2.0.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A For Effort

Hey guys! I've read a million times that when one has failed to post a blog in awhile, one shouldn't apologize for it and/or point out one's absence. But rules were made to be broken, right? So. I'm sorry I haven't updated in awhile! I'd say it's because I've been busy, but that's not totally true. I have, in fact, been busy enjoying not doing much of anything. If that makes sense. But I am finally taking a moment to sit myself down and write up a little something for you all.
Proof that I don't always suck at Math!

First of all, some excellent news! I'm officially finished with that pesky Business Math class! And guess what? I made an A! A freakin' A!!! This is cause for celebration. That's what I think. Because despite the fact that I did much better than I'd anticipated, going to class and wrapping my brain around equations and numbers even just long enough to apply it on test day was like pulling teeth. So I'm very proud to say that Math is behind me.

So there's that.

I've also begun the countdown to the start of the Fall semester. I go back and forth on how I feel about that. In some ways, I'm excited for school to start again. Especially because, honestly, I'm just taking one class. And it's a writing class. So I'll get to really focus on that and that alone, which is awesome. But thanks to Math, this summer seems so short. Like it's flying by and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not ready to start being responsible again. (Yes, I've basically shirked all of my responsibilities this summer. It's been great!) And I'm not ready to leave my friends back home. But the good news is, only 38 more days until I get my Aggie Ring! That's practically less than one month! Yes, I'm super excited.

I've already commanded my parents to make sure they aren't working when Aggie Ring Day rolls around. Because I expect them to drive down and celebrate with me. (Ring Day is a HUGE deal down in College Station. I mean, a really big freaking deal. You will get a glimpse of just how big a deal it is when mine rolls around and I blog about it.) I keep telling them, "Don't you want to be there to see what all that money paid for?" I also keep telling them, "Be glad I am not a boy. Because boy's rings are basically twice as much as the girl one." I'm not sure that's making them feel any better about the cost. But—I admit it—I don't care! Not that I don't care how much in the sense that I don't appreciate what they did for me, but I look at it this way. I will wear my Aggie Ring for the rest of my life. So if you divide the cost of the ring by the projected amount of years I am statistically likely to have left, it's really not that much.

But anyway. More things that I am excited about.

I have a new computer! It is an absolute beauty.
My temporary set up.
If it looks like it's set up on a table...in my kitchen... Well, that's because it is. But that's only temporary! Being home for the summer means struggling to find extra space for new things I acquire. In the case of this computer, there's simply no room in Dad's office. We already have something of a Mac Museum happening in there. But I have plans to relocate it to my desk at my apartment when Fall rolls around. The best part? It's so big, I think I'm actually going to have to rearrange my desk. Probably I will need to move the shelf thing off of it. I don't mind. I've been using a laptop since I started college. Don't get me wrong, I love my laptop! But there's something very pleasant about using a desktop computer. I had almost forgotten how much I love it. Especially for writing. Which is basically all I'll be doing next semester. So I'm pretty thrilled. Isn't it beautiful!?

Also. I started working again, sort of. Picking up odd jobs and doing a little work from home for my old boss. It's nice to be getting paid again, even if it's just a little spending money. That's about it for what's going on in my life at the moment. Besides the unbearable heat going on in my neck of the woods right now. So many days over 100ยบ. And no rain. I would throw a party if we could just get one really good thunderstorm. I'm just sayin'.

I hope everyone else's summer is going wonderfully!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Painting with a Twist

Last week, I unleashed my inner Van Gogh.

Literally.

It was for a birthday party. Instead of seeing a movie, or going out to dinner, we all met up at this place I'd never heard of—Painting with a Twist.
Painting! With a twist!
It was actually a really cool little place! It was already set up for us when we got there, and we each had our own easel. It was BYOB. I stuck with a bottle of water, but someone brought some wine, and there were a couple of beers cooling in a bucket of ice. There was an artist there to walk us through our painting. We recreated Starry Night. Which just happens to be my favorite painting. So I was pretty thrilled about it.
My work space. Appropriately labeled.
We started off by painting those trademark swirls in the sky. I think I got mine a little too big. But...creative license, and all that, right? Anyhow, it was time consuming (especially for a perfectionist like me!) to get the sky where I was happy with it. But it was worth it.
My sky. Minus moon and stars.
I was mostly happy with it at this point.
After that, we worked on some of the hills and ground stuff. We didn't get as complicated as Van Gogh did—we only had a few hours to do this. But we included something our artist called the wheat field. I think. And some rolling hills. That part wasn't so bad. That is to say, it's hard to be picky when you're just painting hillsides.

We'd break periodically and take our canvases to a table in the back where, two at a time, we hit 'em with some hot air via a couple of hair dryers. Then we went back to painting, without the fear of smearing what we'd already painted.

After the wheat and the hills, we moved on to that famous...green thing...in the foreground. I think it's a tree. I've always thought that, but our artist talked about it like it was up for debate. So maybe it is. Either way, I think mine turned out pretty darn good.

Pretty much the last thing we did was add the buildings. I didn't go too crazy with them. I was afraid I'd spoil the painting. The smaller details were already giving me trouble. So I stuck with painting a church. And two little buildings. I probably could have added more without it looking bad, but I decided not to risk it.
My finished product!
All in all, I was really proud of what I turned out! I hadn't painted in quite some time, and honestly I hadn't expected to walk away with anything I'd ever consider hanging. But you know what? I think I'm going to hang this piece. Somewhere. Surely there's room on at least one of my apartment walls. I even went as far as to paint the sides of the canvas, so I don't need to frame it. And I didn't just paint it a solid color—no. I had detail. I continued the painting around to the sides and top. Not as much on the bottom, but really, who's going to see that?

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to tap into some creativity I don't usually work with. I play it safe and stick to writing typically. But this was so much fun. It made me want to branch out and stretch some creative muscles I tend to ignore. I used to love to sketch, paint, what have you. This experience made me take a second look and think, why not now?

Fun is fun. Creativity is creativity. Why limit myself to one form or another? It's all fair game. And hopefully seeing this hanging on my wall will be a daily reminder that just because I think I can't do something, doesn't make it the truth.
Ta-da! Move over, Van Gogh. There's new talent afoot.
;)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm Kreativ, mmmKay?

I was recently informed that Maggie over at Maggie the Artist passed on the Kreativ Blogger Award to me!  How lovely. Thank you, Maggie!

It seems I have a few questions to answer. It goes along with accepting the award, and all. So here we go!

What is my favorite color? Purple. Pretty much hands down. I've always loved it. But honestly, I really like a lot of colors. So purple is my top pick, but the runners up are many!

What is my favorite animal? Dogs. I'm such a dog person. I really love dogs. Particularly my dog. But, again, I'm kind of an animal lover all around. But I just have to go with dogs on this one. Puppy love, you see.

What is my relaxation place? Oh, this is tough. Because I could pick the place I go the most to relax, or I could pick the place I'd most like to go to relax. How about I just do both? The place I typically go to relax is my room. I also go to Starbucks to just kind of hang out and exist and de-stress, but when I really need to relax, my best bet is where I live. Because there is where I can find peace and quiet. Now, the place I'd most like to go to relax? That's a bit more abstract. Like, think 'cabin in the woods', or 'quaint little house on the beach'. Somewhere with a view, preferably. If I ever travel to that perfect place, I'll let you know.

What is my vacation hot spot? Again, tough. I do so love vacations. My three favorite states I've actually vacationed in are New Mexico, California, and, most recently, New York. All lovely states. All great vacation spots.

Do I have a boyfriend? I do not. I'm one of those single ladies.

What color scheme did you wear in outfits this week? Color scheme? Oh dear. I'm afraid this week I've been too lazy for that. I wear jeans a lot. Does that count as a scheme?

What movie did you watch last? I watched the new Star Trek last night with my parents. Much fun was had by all!

What is your most used phrase? It changes. Lately? "Excellent."

Do you study or do you work? I would say, I work hard at studying. Especially this summer, what with my unfortunate (but necessary) run-in with Math. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

What is your favorite number? Probably 5. Or 17.

What are the names of your favorite friends? Well now that's just mean. I'm definitely not playing favorites. So there.

Do you drink soda, and if so, do you prefer Pepsi or Coca Cola? I actually don't drink sodas much anymore. I gave them up for quite some time—honestly, there's nothing nutritionally worthwhile in them at ALL—although lately I've admittedly succumbed to a soda or two. When I do, I enjoy Mt. Dew. Also, Sunkist. Or Sprite. (Let's face it, despite their utter unhealthiness, I do think they taste pretty good.)

What items do you carry with you always? Well, my iPhone is basically surgically attached to my hand. I also always carry my camera, my Kindle and/or my iPad, wallet, gum... All of this—except the phone, which you'll recall rarely leaves my hand—I carry in my purse. Which I also carry with me all the time.

What is your favorite day of the week? I don't know. Not Monday. Maybe Friday or Saturday. Or Sunday. Weekends are good.


And, now that my 'interview' is over, I get to pass on the award! I'd like to give this one to my good friend Bennett, of Grits 'N Gravy. Much much love to her! Be sure to pay her a visit!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

I don't know about you, but my holiday weekend has been surprisingly busy. I hope all of you had a Happy 4th of July, whether or not you were celebrating! Hey, a good day is a good day, am I right?

I ended up celebrating with a lovely group of people. And, as it turns out, a very musically inclined group of people. After we all chowed down on burgers and hotdogs, we gathered around the baby grand. There were three of us on guitar, and most of us singing. We played up a storm, sung old hymns with a blues beat, and then moved on to some Beatles tunes. The talent in this group of people blows me away. But that's not the point. The point is, it was a ton of fun. Music is a huge part of my life, though I'm not near as instrumentally gifted as some. So spending the 4th the way I did—and with the people I was with? Well, not much could top that.

It was so much fun to meet new people, and to visit with people I've known forever. A couple of people in attendance I have literally known my whole life. Most of them I've grown up around—Dad's co-workers and my parents' friends.

I left feeling so fortunate and so blessed to have the family that I have, and to know the people that I know.

The time I spent with friends and family was much more enjoyable to me than any fireworks show or parade. It's not really the size or grandeur of the even that matters, so much as who you share it with.

At least that's what I think.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Hunger Games Music Project

Guys, I have some links to share with you. I know I've mentioned the highly talented Matt Bukaty to you all before—he blogs, he composes, he's excellent. And now? He's collaborated with another composer, Edward Underhill, and created an unofficial score to the upcoming Lionsgate film, "The Hunger Games".

And it's really good. I mean, really good. These guys have some serious talent.


Personally, I've read The Hunger Games—the whole trilogy, in fact—and the music these two musicians have composed fits perfectly with the way I envisioned the scenes. But it doesn't matter if you haven't read the book. The music is still fantastic!

There are a few different places for you to check out The Hunger Games Music Project. Never fear! I am linking to them all.

First, their website. Here you can listen to all the tracks. If you've read the book, the titles will make sense. If not, it's still great music. You should really check it out. You can also read about the composers and learn more about how this project came about!

Second, their Facebook page. This is a great place to interact with other fans—we're ready for you to join us! It's also a place where you can share your feedback. Don't forget to take a second to 'Like' their page!

Lastly, you can check out their YouTube page. Here you'll find music and promo videos.

These two guys are truly talented. I think you'll enjoy what they have to offer. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mavericks = Champions!

Guys, I'm so excited. I just got through watching the game; Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat. I'm a die-hard Mavs fan, and I was so hopeful that we'd wrap up the series before Game 7 and stick it to Miami on their own turf. And WE DID IT. And yes, it deserves an entire blog post. A short one, but still.

This is the first championship for the Mavericks in 31 years—the first championship in the franchise's history. It's a pretty big freakin' deal, that's what!

I watched the game at home with my family, and we were all cheering our boys on. Tucker got overwhelmed by all of the shouting, clapping, et cetera, and retired to my room for a large chunk of game time. I can't stop smiling. We played a great game tonight, and I've never been more proud to be a Mavs fan.

Congratulations, boys. You deserve it!

Dallas Mavericks. 2011 NBA Champions!
First-time NBA champions, from left, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry
show off their hardware after a Game 6 victory. (AP Photo)*


*Click the photo for its source—AOLsportingnews.com

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Makes Me Lazy

I know, I know—It's breaking some cardinal rule of blogging to acknowledge and apologize for my extended absence. But rules were made to be broken, right? I know it's been some time since my last post, and though it's really not important enough to go on and on about, I feel bad. I keep sitting down to work on posts, particularly my Kindle review, but I've officially caught the Summer Lazies. I just haven't had the gumption to do anything.

But I want to catch you guys up on what's been going on with me. Not so much as an excuse—not like, "See? Look what I've been doing! THIS is why I've been MIA." No. Rather, consider this the internet equivalent of sitting down to chat over a cup of coffee—we've just got some catching up to do.

Here we go. I'm going to make a list. I thought it sounded fun.

10 Things That Have Happened Since My Last Update

1. I got my car back! Yes, I was starting to think the time would never come. But the repairs were finally finished. Mostly. I still have one thing that needs fixing, but the part is on national backorder. So one of these days I'll have to take it back in. Whenever they get the part. Fortunately I've been told it will only take one day. I plan to hold them to that.
Good as new!

2. I took a road-trip to Austin! I was down in College Station, quite restless, and so I decided to embark on a mini-road-trip. I visited this great book store, Book People, that I'd been told I needed to check out. It was awesome! I picked up two new books. A classic; As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. The other I chose simply because the title caught my eye. "I Was Told There'd Be Cake". It's a collection of essays. It's actually really funny. At least the ones I've read.
Hello, Austin!
Book People.

My purchases.

3. My car mileage, uh...spelled out? my birth date! I thought it was neat.

4. I added another coffee mug to my collection. This one came from a great little coffee house in College Station called Sweet Eugene's. You probably can't tell from the picture, but it's a rather hefty mug. I have a thing for mugs. And when I saw this one, I knew I had to have it. And now I do.

5. I rescued two baby bunnies! My dogs scared them out of their little hiding place under some bushes. Heroically, I herded the canines back into the house and saw that the little rabbits made it to safety. Under a different bush. Adorable.
I totally didn't even use zoom to take this.

6. I have been whole-heartedly cheering on the Dallas Mavs in the playoffs. I picked up some Finals gear—the place I went had TONS to choose from. Sadly, I could only afford three shirts. But they're good shirts. And I've worn one every game since. (Side-note: We totally kicked butt tonight. I'm so excited. I literally just finished watching the game and then retreated to my room to write up this post for you guys!)
Mavs gear galore!

7. I have officially ordered my Aggie Ring! Since I've been back home and not in College Station for most of the summer, I had to order it via mail. I sent off the form a few days ago, and have now begun counting down to my Aggie Ring Day. Which, if you care to know, is September 16th. I can't wait!
Stamped and ready to be sent!

8. I bought True Grit. The day it came out. This may not seem like a big deal, but I've been desperate for it to make it to DVD since I saw it in theaters. In fact, I plan on watching it. Tonight. Right after I finish this post. I love it.
Seriously, I love this movie.

9. I started my one and only summer class. Business Math. If you'll recall, Business Math and I had a run-in a couple of semesters ago. Unfortunately, I didn't fare well in this run-in. But I'm back, and ready to take this class on again. My first class was today, actually. And it went really well. Surprisingly, I know someone in class with me. And the professor seems nice. He's awkward, but funny, which is something I appreciate.
My parking permit makes it official.

10. I have seen my parents off at the air-port. Which is a first for me. It's their anniversary this month, and they took a trip to California to celebrate. Leaving me to watch the house and the dogs. It's been kind of fun, really. The house-sitting, I mean. I've had a really laid back week, although I have some serious cleaning to do before they come back. But that can be our little secret, right?
Dad sent me this. The view from one of the places they stayed.
Yeah, I'm jealous, too.

So there you have it. Ten things. Summer has definitely gotten off to a busy start! And I'm already counting down to the end of my Math class. It's still the beginning of June, and already so much is going on. I just know I'll have more to catch you guys up on next time! Until then...keep your eyes peeled for my Kindle review. It's coming soon!

How is everyone else's summer going?

Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm 24!

This may be several days late, but that's only because I've been suddenly busy! That, however, is a story for another time. Because this post is strictly reserved for birthday related activities, events, and the like. So we're going to pretend like it's actually May 16th again. And I'm going to tell you all about how much fun I had, and all the things I did, and hopefully you are going to enjoy it!

Shall we proceed?

Excellent.

The morning of my birthday started off with a delicious breakfast (Thanks Mom!) involving scrambled eggs, tortillas, cheese, and onions. I didn't mean to eat it as quickly as I did, but it was so wonderful I couldn't help but devour it in a frenzy. I mean, can you really blame me?
Breakfast. I love you.
Okay, to backtrack a moment—Technically my morning began much earlier than my breakfast, when my Dad popped in my room on his way to work to wish me a Happy Birthday. But I promptly went back to sleep, so starting with breakfast seems only natural. But since Daddy had to work all day, and I was going to be gone all night, I had specifically requested that he wake me up before he left. I'm glad he did.

Now, where were we...

Ah yes. Then Mom surprised me with a present! I love surprise presents. I'm kind of hard to shop for because I impulsively buy things all the time. This makes it hard to anticipate what I will or won't buy for myself. But Mom definitely did awesome, and I wasn't expecting what she got me at all! But, of course, one must always open a birthday card before opening the present it goes with.

The card is absolutely precious! My Mom even went out of her way to make sure the Boston Terrier looked as much like my little Tucker as possible!

The present is gorgeous! Mom got me a beautiful bracelet with two star charms on it. For those of you who don't know, I adore stars. They've my favorite. Needless to say, she got a BIG hug. (Thanks Mom, I love my bracelet!)
My gift!
My adorable birthday card! Thanks Mom & Dad!
My bracelet! On my wrist! Love.
After several hugs and "Thank you!"s, I loaded up my car and prepared to drive to Frisco. My friend and I had impromptu-decided to get together and celebrate.

But of course before I left town, I had to stop by Starbucks and grab some coffee. I had my free birthday drink coupon, and everything. And a coupon for a free petite pastry, which...I just couldn't let that waste.
Me and my coupons. Exciting!
My birthday drink and pastries. So yummy.
My Mocha Coconut Frappuccino, ready to accompany me on my drive!
Now that I've got my morning coffee, I'm ready for the day!
After picking up my Frappuccino and savoring my Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, I was ready to tackle the drive up to Frisco! My destination? California Pizza Kitchen. Quite possibly my favorite place to get pizza. Well, my favorite chain, anyway. Their BBQ Chicken pizza is fan-freakin'-tastic. And it's also what I ordered for my birthday lunch. Excellent.
CPK. My lunch destination.
Myself and my delicious BBQ Chicken pizza. Heaven on a plate.
A close-up of my pizza. Because seriously, I love it so much!
After we ate, we walked around Stonebriar Mall to settle our bellies and shop around. And I made another trip to Starbucks (and finally bought my Dallas mug there!). I also spent some money at Bath & Body Works.

Then we decided to head back to her place and hang out. On the way, we stopped by Velvet Bake Shop. They make some seriously fantastic cupcakes. I decided to pick up a few...or four. Instead of a cake. Don't judge me, it was my birthday!
Velvet Bake Shop. Nestled amongst other little shops. Yum.
My cupcakes. Coconut, Chocolate, and Raspberry Chocolate.
And no, I didn't eat them all at once!
The rest of the day was spent kicked back on the sofa, nibbling cupcakes and sipping milk and watching T.V. It was quite pleasant. And most definitely an excellent birthday.

Now to start planning for Birthday #25...