Thursday, June 12, 2014


The nice thing about working in education is that there are a million chances for a fresh start. There's the beginning of the school year, each new semester, the start of summer- all opportunities to make a change, to reflect, and to neatly mark the passage of time. 

Another semester has come to a close, and here I am at the outset of summer, my seventh in South Carolina, which is almost impossible for me to believe. But it was exactly six years ago this week that I loaded down the first car I'd ever owned, mine for less than a week, and drove it 600 miles south to the place I now call home.

Here I am, making Lucio an official SC resident of the road

There's no need to recap the past half decade, but I do feel that I'm at a crossroads of sort.  I turned 28 last week, and my 10-year high school reunion will take place in a few weeks.  The latter is enough to give anyone pause for reflection.  And in so doing, 2014 has been and promises to be a big year.

In March, one of my brothers got married, and this fall the other will make (already has made) me an aunt- to twins no less. In just five days, I will pack up my office, move 20 yards down the hall, and start a job I have dreamed about and worked toward since I graduated college. And in December, after a span of nearly five years that at times I truly never believed would end, I will graduate with my Masters in counseling.  So yeah, a big year. 

I joked to my aunt that my brothers and I were achieving all these life milestones this year while my parents were just lazing around.  She said that our accomplishments were their milestones. I hope they feel that way.  I have cried on the phone enough times after failed job interviews, hard classes, and bouts of homesickness to know quite seriously that I wouldn't have a milestone to my name without them.

In less reflective news, the first half of the year has also been a lot of fun. This spring, I felt like I was gone more than I was home. Smarty-pants Kristen had the good fortune to predict the coldest winter of our young lives, and I had the good fortune to be convinced to spend five days mid-Feburary with her in Boca Grande, FL.  We ate, read, laid in the sand, ran, talked,floated in the pool, and slept. It was VACATION.

I spent St. Patrick's Day in Chicago, where I finally got to meet my college roommate's son, a sentence that when I say it out loud is still surreal. I also attended my first St. Patrick's Day Parade, experienced The Aviary, admired the green river, and wandered through my beloved Chicago, eating, shopping, and admiring the lions roars at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

My parents visited during my spring break, and we spent the week doing projects around town, and then headed to Savannah for Easter weekend, which we managed to enjoy, despite an abundance of rain.  If you find yourself in Savannah, go to Narobia's and get their biscuit with sausage gravy.  Seriously. You'll thank me.

After nine of fifteen weekends spent away (I keep track of these things. For alibi purposes), May was finally a month at home, until Memorial Day, when I headed to Atlanta to visit with college friends in from Michigan.  And amidst all that, I spent two (separate) weeks on overnight babysitting gigs, house-sat for a week, made three weekend trips to Charleston, threw a baby shower for an old Greenville friend, started and finished my last two classes for graduate school, taught 5th grade Religious Education, conquered my fear of trying new classes at the gym, cooked some memorable meals, and logged a bunch of hours baby-sitting.  It was a good semester.

And here, I can prove it:

I know one Irishman who got kissed on St. Patty's.

My mom and I (separately) spent weeks hunting garage sales and thrift stores for these beauties. They were perfect for a tea party-themed baby shower.

We loved walking around the endless parks and squares Savannah offers. More walking = more food.

My hip dad

This little nugget had the nerve to come down with a virus during our Memorial Day Weekend in Atlanta. And we had the nerve to expertly diagnose it as "allergies" for a solid 48 hours... whoops.
Post-Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston. To be fair, I only partook of the brunch portion of the 'race morning'.

That smell? Coming through the computer screen? It's weed, and a lot of it (not ours).  St. Patty's Day Parade.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Turns Out I Have Some Kid Stories After All

I'm single mom-ing it this week with two of my long-time charges here in Greenville. Their parents have escaped to a tropical island for an extended vacation, and left me in charge to keep them clean and happy.  I've stayed with them before, but this is definitely the longest stretch. So far, everything is going well (donuts make excellent bribes) but we're only three days in. A pessimist would say that there's still plenty of time for things to go south.

I feel a cold coming on, but I can't find any adult medicine in this house, so I've been sucking down "Immune-Booster Gummies" and children's motrin by the fistful.  I also found a stash of m&ms in the freezer; every little bit helps.  The cold, though, is not as bad as the schoolwork they bring home. My conclusion is that homework is way, way worse for the parents than for the kids.

Speaking of things that are horrible, my mom sent me this picture today:

She said: "I snapped this photo of it NOT snowing this morning! I had to get it quick though."  My poor northern friends and relatives are suffering through the modern day equivalent of The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder-style.  Meanwhile, news outlets in SC are feverishly reporting on the possibility of up to an inch -an INCH! - of snow tomorrow night, breathlessly instructing us to check their website for hourly updates.  My favorite was the report on the city's "frantic attempts to prepare for a major storm moving into the area." I can only assume that means they opted for overnight shipping on those extra snow-plows they ordered off of Amazon this afternoon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's Not as Exciting as Life With Toddlers, That's For Sure

It's perhaps not a good sign when the sight of a card in your mailbox illicits more guilt than joy. I was joyful, for the record, to find a note from my beloved big brother waiting for me upon my arrival home today, but it was unfortunately overshadowed by the initial thought of "Crud, I owe him a letter. He beat me to it!"  Not good, on two accounts: 1. That I am so shamefully bad at keeping in touch, even with those I love most, and 2. that I haven't figured out a way so far in my adult life to learn when to let go of the guilt and instead expend my energy on a sincere attempt to be better.

I think the difficulty of keeping a blog going the past several years is my feeling like there's not really a place for it.  In the interest of keeping my job, which I happen to rather like, I generally feel like it's a good idea to keep my experiences there out of the blogosphere. But it's where the majority of my time and heart is spent, and where all my best stories come from (Ever made spaghetti for 250 kids on the fly? Or cut 700 pieces of partially-frozen Costco cake in an hour? You may be surprised to learn I work for a school, not a restaurant). 

So I'm left with the rest of my life to blog about, which often doesn't feel very exciting or newsworthy. I don't have the daily life lessons of marriage, the heartwarming tales that come with kids, a boundless supply of fashion advice, theological knowledge, mouthwatering food photos, all of which make up the blogs I frequent. I grant, though, that I do have adventures, in my own way. Today it was my brief stop at the grocery store on the way home from a Novocaine-laced dentist appointment, where I'm pretty sure I scared the cashier into thinking he was checking out a stroke victim.

I love reading blogs of my friends and family. I drink up the photos and stories of their children, most of whom live several states away from me. I pore over their thoughts- reflections on what God's teaching them through suffering, or takeaways from a recent book. I delight in the discovery that we're both raving about the same movie, or just uncovered the same new product we can't live without. I feel sometimes like I'm having a conversation with them, sitting somewhere cozy, despite the miles between us. It's pretty wonderful. So I must acknowledge that perhaps they would feel the same way to read that I'm currently loving this book, or to hear about my latest Goodwill find (Longaberger basket, $1.50).

God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to make me an introvert of the highest kind, and as such, I will likely spend my entire life fighting a losing battle with the phone calls I should be making and lunch dates I keep delaying. Again, I should point out, with people I really and truly love. (No, I don't understand it either. That's why it's God's infinite wisdom, and not mine). 

But guess what's a solitary activity? Writing. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane (But returning on a Train)

I can be quick to complain when I'm faced with long hours stress-inducing parents, but admittedly, there are some perks to working at a school. One of them is the generous amounts of vacation time, and tomorrow evening I'm leaving on my second 12-day vacation of the summer.

My last trip, over Fourth of July week, took me on a 2,000 mile trip where I hit seven cities in eleven nights. Check it out:

View Larger Map

This time, I'm flying to Vancouver, BC (where my brother and sister-in-law live) and then taking the Amtrak Empire Builder back to Chicago. 

Not too shabby, right? Once I'm in Chicago, my mom and I are meeting up with my other brother, his fiance, and my dad, and taking the party down to Southern Illinois for a family reunion. By the time the summer is over, I'll have hit 15 states and 1 Canadian province.

I'd like to say that what I'm most excited about is seeing my family or traveling across the wide open west, but let's be honest. There's only one thing this South Carolina girl really cares about, and it's this:

Sunny and pleasant? Bring. It. On.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Few Shots from Mom and Dad's Visit

Our favorite meal that week - zucchini noodles with red sauce and basil, greek salad, and grilled eggplant

We had these cuties over for dinner....

... and they made fast friends with my Dad, thanks to his vast knowledge of youtube tractor videos
This little nugget was more interested in his goldfish (I don't blame him)

There is never a shortage of "work" to be done on my car

And finally, something to file under 'unnecessary photos'. There are about six more of these, thanks to my dad's trigger-happy finger

Monday, July 8, 2013

I Pledge My Worst

I was reminded recently that I had a blog, and remembered that a blog is for updating.  Posting.  Basically doing the opposite of what's been happening here. If my parents were in charge of this blog, they would have given it away to a farm upstate on account of neglect (much like they did with my dog when I left for college. True story).  But I'm an adult, and despite the fact that my mom still does my laundry when she visits, I'm in charge of these things.

Speaking of my mom doing my laundry, I recently had my parents here for a week. I walked out of my summer class final at 6pm on a Wednesday, drove home, cracked open a beer, and enjoyed about 15 minutes of sipping on the back deck before my parents walked in the door.  Why waste a moment? Ever?

I've lived in South Carolina long enough now that we don't go hardcore tourist when they come anymore, which is maybe a shame. But if they mind, they do a good job of hiding it. Instead, we tackled about a million projects while they were here: cleaned my entire car inside and out (which you know is no small feat, if you've ever been within 15 feet of the thing), weeded my lawn, trimmed bushes, fixed my toilet, repaired my lawnmower, hauled piles of stuff to Goodwill, restored my laundry room door to working order, cleaned and organized my fridge and freezer, got my oil changed, had my car aligned, cleaned out my office at work, reattached my car's drivers side mirror (tragically broken when I got flustered at a parking lot pay station after a friend's birthday party and screeched away a little too quickly and a little too closely to the ticket machine), mended my clothes, cleaned my windows... it's like having little elves come to stay who make my dramatic improvements to my life while I'm sleeping or at work.

 I tried to make sure we played a little, too. We enjoyed a few good Western movies, entertained some of my friends for dinner, drove up to Furman, and ate lots of yummy food.  I'm so truly blessed by my parents, a fact I realize more with every passing year.

My dad reminded me of a Chesterton quote while he was visiting: if something is worth doing, it's worth doing badly. I consider July 1 kind of a 'mini new year' - it's the start of our fiscal year at work, and smack dab in the middle of summer, which puts me in the mood for starting over in the office, a sentiment that eeks out into the rest of my life.  I think this Chesterton quote will be my motto for this "new" year. I really struggle with making the perfect the enemy of the good, and it ends up causing more turmoil than good.

So, whether it's this blog, friendships, prayer, or working out: I vow to do 'worse'. If I can only muster the energy for a 20 minute run around the neighborhood, so be it.  If I forget to send a birthday card, I'll just email that day, instead of waiting three weeks while the guilt gnaws away at me until I finally get it in the mail.  So what if a blog post is a bit disjointed and only funny in spots? That's true to life, really, and anyway, the main reason to keep this blog is so that I have an account of these days for later on.

My dad spent two years in seminary right out of high school, and recently he and my mom have been reading through the journal he kept during that time.  It's mostly mundane stuff, about boring lectures and painful toe injuries, not exactly a soul-searching memoir.  But those are the things you forget about, and are so sweet to remember.  I watched a lot of recently-converted-to-DVD home movies at Easter, and the scenes that struck me most weren't the anniversary parties or choir concerts, but shots of me on the tire swing with my brother, and trying to do a somersault for my grandpa.

That's what this blog should be.  Sweet reminders of the moments that are only here for right now: this summer's bourbon obsession, the Sunday afternoons spent reading magazines on the deck, the excitement of getting new carpet and furniture at work.  I may not get every anecdote down, but I'd like to get some. I vow to do much, much worse.

Finally, a resolution I can keep.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Of Popes and Puke

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster week here. First, there was this business with the Pope, which is all very happy and exciting. Then I find out Google Reader is retiring in July.  What?! I don't know what to think. I'm up, then I'm down... it's not good.

So yes. It's been an exciting few days- weeks, really- to be Catholic.  Like the rest of my good papist brethren, I signed up for, I scoured the news reports, and I prayed for the cardinals (maybe did a little March Madness with them, too). I waited, patiently, expecting to be in for the long haul.  And I will never forget where I was when they announced Pope Francis as the 266th Bishop of Rome. BECAUSE I WAS IN A FREAKING STANDARDIZED TESTING MEETING.  That's right. As white smoke billowed out of the world' s most famous chimney, I was reminding teachers to make sure their students fill in the bubble COMPLETELY and don't just make a CHECK MARK on it.  As Cardinal Deacon Jean-Louis Tauran announced those famous words, "habemus papam!", I was handing out testing security affidavits to be signed.  And when our new father in Rome emerged onto the balcony in his plain white robe, and raised his hand in what is already an infamous, meme-generating greeting, I was answering questions on the protocol to be followed in the event a student breaks his arm during testing.  All the while, my phone, propped up on a nearby bookshelf with its ringer turned off, lit up again and again, as voicemail after voicemail after text message poured in. 

But all good things require sacrifice, and it's only fair to mention all the wonderful things that happen while I'm at my internship. For instance, I had the great pleasure of dealing with elementary school student puke for the first time today.  I was sitting in my adviser's office when one of the 5th graders popped his head in to inform me that "M just threw up in the hallway." He was not wrong. M had, in fact, thrown up in, and directly on, the hallway.  Unfortunately, I felt I wouldn't be of service to her since I was too busy hyperventilating into a paper bag, but eventually, some logical, adult part of my brain kicked in, and I got it together enough to walk her down to the nurse's office and call the janitor for clean-up.  After it was all said and done, I kept looking around, like "Did anyone see that? I just managed to not throw up on a puking kid. Hello? WILL NO ONE GIVE ME MY DUE PROPS?"  No one did.

Why didn't the white smoke go up then?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My New Orange Dress

I've decided that I would like to start blogging again. I've spent the last two years in the marathon that wouldn't end, of work and grad school and everyone I've ever met and loved getting married and all the other miscellaneous things I could seem to fit into a day.  I just kept waiting to get to the end of 'that season', whichever one it was that I was in, only to be washed over by a brand new season of a different kind of busyness.  The truth is that it felt very dark at times.  I was tired, and I felt useless, and most of all I hated being made to draw my feelings with crayons during class.  So I decided to take it easy this semester, cut it down to one class, and reluctantly let go of my Religious Education class, also known as the first graders who asked "did you had tv when YOU were a kid, Miss Miller?" First of all, you're six, so you can just suck it, and second of all, YES, we did have tv, but I wasn't allowed to WATCH it. Are you happy now?

The moral of that story is that I now find myself with expendable time for truly the first time in two years, and the idea is so wide-eyed-blinking-in-confusion to me, that even after a few weeks of a semi-normal schedule, I still haven't figured out how to cope, and frantically spend my evenings trying to cram in as much reading and bath-taking (I like to think that 'bath-taking' is different from 'bathing', being that one is done for the purposes of relaxation, while the other for cleanliness.  I only partake in the former.) as possible, before the 'crazy schedule' takes over and I spend the entire waking portion of my days away from home again (which is convenient when it comes to energy bills and toilet paper usage, but less so in the sleeping and sanity departments).

So I haven't been more productive yet, at least not in the way of "I made these baby booties for you child out of yarn I spun myself after a post I saw on Pinterest!" and instead all I've managed to do is re-watch two seasons of Friday Night Lights and cry at every.single.episode.  But this new schedule is here to stay, at least for a couple months, and if I ever hope to motivate myself into dragging out my sewing machine or finally learning how to (properly) use the hot curlers I got for Christmas last year, I think I need to give myself some things to do.  You're welcome, world. 

The big news here is that after two years at Clemson, I, for the first time ever, have a student ID card.  I've never needed one, because I spend as little time on campus as possible, but my awful, mean professor this semester decided he was going to go old-school on us and make us *gasp* go to the library to check something out instead of finding it online. I suspect this is because the necessary publication is "Special Educator Weekly", a periodical which I doubt gets much play with the collegiate crowd, and Coach K (no, seriously- that's what he told us to call him) needed our numbers in the flesh to keep the circulation alive. Cruel and unnecessary, but it did force me to literally triple the amount of campus buildings I had previously stepped foot in over the course of one afternoon.

Now I'm like a real student, and just in time for my first Clemson football game.  I'm headed to Death Valley this weekend, courtesy of a well-connected coworker, and as proof that I am fully living in the South now, I had to buy a new dress for the occasion.  I could write a blog that never ended of "things I never knew existed or could even imagine that I would one day be doing but are completely normal and second-nature now that I live in South Carolina."  One of those things is the fact that I will be donning a brand-new (orange, obviously) sundress and fancy sandals for a college football game in the middle of September and will likely be under-dressed and over-heated.  This from the girl who didn't wear heels outside of show choir until she joined a sorority at 20 and packed multiple sweatshirts to survive summer camp in Michigan.  Life. Amiright?

So that's it.  I hope to write here occasionally, and a little more honestly.  Not honest like "it all started when I pretended to shoot my dad with a fake gun from my carseat during a roadtrip when I was three" but more in a way that isn't me trying to (badly) write a humor column. My dear friend A once said that I write the best emails (I don't think a lot of people write her emails. She has a very low standard by which to measure) and so I'm going to aim for that.  Like I'm writing an email to my friend, the Internet.  Who, by the way, has been a steady and reliable companion to me for more than a decade, bringing me both good news and bad news, helping me get the stains out my carpet and settle bets about whether people from Michigan prefer to be called Michiganders or Michiganians, but The Internet probably deserves its own post...  Just something to look foward to.

PS) It's Michigander, by the way. (And I won the the bet.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Revisiting Italy

I'm in the midst of a multiple-week cleaning and organizing project at my house. During the process, I've uncovered many forgotten gems: senior photos of my high school friends, abandoned craft projects, and an unbelievable amount of disjointed electronic equipment accrued from my father (mostly against my will) over the years.

I also recovered the journal I kept during my two-week trip to Italy with Ryan four years ago. The journal contains a detailed description of everything we ate, saw, and experienced, which I'm grateful for now, having forgotten many of the little details of our trip (but not the bigger ones, including my accidental purchase of $35 worth of cheese, a result of linguistic overconfidence on my part).

Below is a list of reflections and memories I wrote out while waiting in the Milan airport for our plane home:
  • Sometimes you just have to pay a little more to sit down for a drink or meal
  • The tap water is no good
  • Most Italians in the service industry speak enough English to make things happen
  • Every city is SO different
  • There is definitely a more 'international, European' feel in the North
  • It's nice that you can travel anywhere by train, bus, etc.
  • I got groped on a bus in Rome and almost got robbed in Milan
  • Probably paid too much for my leather purse in Florence
  • I did a surprisingly good job packing
  • I hate birds!
  • Italian towels suck
  • The Swiss Guards are seriously funny-looking (what's their story??)
  • So very many tourists
  • Yay for Cultural Week! (free entrance to most museums we visited)
  • Incredibly blessed with no late or missed trains, planes, etc.
  • I lost weight, despite the copious amounts of pasta, wine and gelato consumed (all that walking!)
  • Every city except for Milan felt safe
  • Loved the tour at the Coliseum (must watch Gladiator!)
  • Street artists EVERYWHERE
  • I am terrified of trains and planes
  • Thank you God for keeping us safe thus far
  • I liked the side streets in Rome
  • Soccer really is a huge deal here
  • I can't believe I drank wine every single night!
  • Going to the bathroom is a pain - have to pay everywhere
  • There's no such thing as 'a huge cup of coffee'
  • Italian breakfast is dumb
I hope and pray I get to return one day. Best diet ever!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hi-Ho indeed

As I drove home from my Religious Ed on Wednesday night, I felt panic rise in my chest. My spring semester of grad school had finished the night before, ending my twice weekly drives to Clemson (90 miles round trip). I was about to hand in a massive project at work, one which had kept me in stress headaches for weeks. The RE class I was leaving was the last of the year, a year spent with 20+ little monsters of the first grade variety. Despite my often-stressful job and a heavy load of grad school, the one hour a week I spent with those kids was often the most exhausting one of my week. In the end, though, it was worth it. Playing a review game as part of our end-of-the-year party, I was struck by just how much they'd learned throughout the year. Who was our first Pope? What was Jesus' grandma's name? Why did Jesus die for us? They nailed almost every question- and, at the risk of sounding like a braggart, they can now almost pronounce Bishop Guglielmone's last name. ALMOST. I figure I can consider it time well spent if even one kid manages to hang on to the knowledge of God's vast love for him/her and what that means in his/her life.

The panic I felt was of the "what am I going to do now?" variety? I was genuinely anxious when I thought of the free time I was about to have on my hands. What would I do with myself in the absence of writing research papers on Charlie Sheen and figuring out a good craft to do for the second week of Lent?

Turns out my panic was unnecessary. The answer was spending Saturday morning garage saling with Alycia. Cooking in my kitchen. Going to a baseball game downtown. Spending time with John Paul.

Speaking of which, while I recognize the depth to which my prejudice runs, can we not all agree on the cuteness herein?

*I was singing the Snow White working song to him one day, you know- "Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go" and the only part that stuck with him was the "hi-ho". For whatever reason, it cracks me up every time he says it.

Life is good. I have a summer of great friends, beautiful weddings, and LOTS of reading to look forward to.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One More Class to Go This Semester and I am Wearing Thin...

This pretty well describes my experience in grad school thus far.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If You Give My Dad a Can of Rustoleum...

... he's going to want a jar of spot putty to go with it.

It's been a little bit 'If you Give a Mouse a Cookie' around my house this week. My parents are visiting while I'm on spring break from work, and my mom mentioned on the phone to me last week that they were bringing some stuff down to repair a few rust spots on my car. The conversation was something like "Oh we have this stuff, like a rust stopper, and I just thought we could spend a little time and put that stuff on, and then paint over it- you know, it's going to look great or anything, but it will hopefully stop the wheel well from disintegrating as you're driving down the highway one day." Okay, I agreed. That all sounds reasonable enough. Let's do it!

Oh, Karen of a Week Ago. So naive.

As we began to chip away at the relatively small area of rust, it revealed more rust underneath... and above, and to the sides and on and on. Power tools got involved and pretty soon the surface area had doubled, and then quadrupled. Alright, so there was a little MORE rust than we originally thought, but no big deal. We sprayed on the rust stopper and let it dry. In the meantime, my dad and I started watching DIY car repair youtube videos from the 80s, involving a product called Bondo Hair, which looks very much what I imagine would happen if you got an entire jar of peanut butter stuck in your hair. "Hey" said my dad. "This stuff looks better than the poly fiber strands we brought down. Maybe we should check it out at the hardware store." Okay, I agreed. There's an Advanced Auto Parts mere miles from my house. Let's do it!

Oh, Karen of Two Days Ago. So young.

On our way to the store we stopped for gas. While pumping, I was reminded that my windshield had been awfully streaky lately. "Hey dad, I noticed recently that my wipers have some little strings hanging off of them- is that bad?" He lifted one up and started laughing. "Uh, yeah. Those need to be replaced." "Really?" I asked? "How often are you supposed to do that?" He gave me a pointed look. "Every six months or so." I've owned my car for three years. Guess how many times I've replaced the windshield wipers?

So now wipers were on our shopping lists. It was about this time that my dad noticed that part of the casing on one of my back doors had become detached. Now, we can't have that, can we?

What had started as a minor spray-paint job had quickly evolved into an episode of Pimp My Ride, except I was drawing the line at painting lightning bolts down the sides of my car. (I drive a Ford Taurus. The idea of racing stripes doesn't exactly go with the 'roomy interior' and 'sizeable trunk space'.) It took multiple trips to both Advance Auto and Ace Hardware, but eventually we got our act together and would you believe that it actually worked?


*Not my actual car because we forgot to take a 'before' picture.

And after:

*Also not my actual car, but a spitting image. What can I say, I'm lazy?

Not too shabby, right? Only took eight hours to finish and a minimum of four years off of my life. All that stress makes me really want to go for a cookie. And if I'm going to have a cookie, I might as well pour myself a glass of milk to go with it...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

This Post is Off the Heezy

I am the youngest person by a good 15 years at my job, though I know a certain Headmaster's assistant who would swear up and down that she's 29 (a lie). But most of the women I work with are literally old enough to be my mom, and- much like my mom- aren't always totally up to speed on pop culture.

To help in their education, I recently decided to use my God-given gifts to start an 'Urban Word of the Day' email* for some of my less, er, culturally-inclined coworkers. Listed here are a few sayings particularly appropriate to my life.

Work Mouth:
A form of self-censorship practiced at work to avoid offensive or cuss words. Typically includes cuss-replacements you learned from your grandma. Potentially embarrassing if accidentally used outside of work at parties or in the company of your drunk friends. May also be used in the company of grandparents, teachers, preachers, and others who disapprove of cussing.

eg. At a party: -Did you just say fiddlesticks? -Yeah, sorry. I still have my work mouth on.

My mother has had her work mouth on since 1949, I think, though her angry phrase of choice is 'horsefeathers'. I will admit to letting the occasional f bomb fly, but when I'm really mad, when my ire is just at an all time high and I can't take it anymore, I let loose with an 'OH HORSEFEATHERS'. Then people know I mean business.

When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both.

Many of the women in my office joined Weight Watchers at the start of the new year, and let me tell you- most of them have been hangry since January 1. It is not a pretty sight, and I face death glares every time I pop a bag of popcorn with lunch.

The original version of a song that another band has made a remake of, often used in a sarcastic manner.

eg -Whoa, is that Journey singing 'Don't Stop Believin'? -Yeah, it's a premake of the Glee song.

This reminds me of dear Hannah, who likes to say that foods remind her of a food flavored that way- like "Wow! This banana tastes just like banana-flavored runts!" Same concept applies here- often the things which come later surpass their humble beginnings. And true story- when I hear Phil Collins singing 'True Colors' on the radio, I can't help but sigh and wish for the Glee rendition instead.

Social Terrorism**
When someone you know comes to visit unexpectedly and inconveniently, often staying for a long time, and you can't tell them to leave without being rude.

This... is my biggest fear in life. Forget actual terrorism- I am more scared of being cornered at a party by a random acquaintance, thereby being forced into MINUTES of painful small talk, than I am of a suicide bomber targeting my city. You know how they say that we can't let fear stop us from flying in airplanes or riding the subway or what have you, because then the terrorists have won? Well the social terrorists have won, my friends. I AM AFRAID.

I duck out the side door at church, I arrive at class exactly on time and leave the moment we're dismissed, and I hide in the kitchen at work events, under the guise of helping the caterer. It's become exponentially worse since I started working at a school, and have gotten to know more and more people in the community, which translates into more and more people to avoid at the grocery store.

So to any potential 2012 presidential candidates: if you want my support, let's talk about the REAL issues affecting our country, and finally declare war on Social Terrorism.

*All definitions provided by
** The best depiction of social terrorism that I've ever seen comes from here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Smattering of Adventures

As one can imagine, quite a few things transpired during my year-long absence from the interweb, which I will make note of as I think of them. Here's a random selection.

Last summer, I made a birthday cake for my sweet godson on the occasion of his first birthday, celebrated with a Curious George themed party. I was deliriously happy with the final product- I so lack any fiber of craftiness, that any creative victory, in my mind, is tantamount to producing the Mona Lisa. I can't even fake humility about it - I was all "LOOK AT MY CAKE. LOOK AT IT. IT'S LIKE WE'RE ON AN EPISODE OF CAKE BOSS OR SOMETHING".

Of course, what you can't see in this picture is the prep required for such an outcome.You can ask my sweet, patient roommates at the time: DISASTER IN THE KITCHEN. Seriously. I baked no less than 9 cakes to make that big yellow hat happen, and by the time the whole thing was over, it was like a frosting bomb went off in our kitchen and left no survivors. Not to mention that the assembling of the cake was a rather unsavory process that I'm grateful none of the cake-eaters were around to witness. There was a fair amount of 'smooshing' - that is, shoving bits of cake into holes. I mean, I washed my hands beforehand, but still, it wasn't pretty.

In August, we began the new school year. Our first crisis came on Orientation Day. The day before school started. Bodes well, doesn't it? Our Director of Student Life was out of the country at a conference and understandably, missed taking care of a few details. Like arranging for brunch for the 100+ new students and their parents who were coming in.

When we discovered this at 8 am the morning of, alerted by our panicked headmaster, my new boss, only there for less than a week, was sent to the closest grocery store for muffins and donuts, while I was charged with coffee duty. We don't have a kitchen in the school, and the only coffeemaker is located in the faculty break room, several long hallways and a staircase away from the cafeteria. On a day when we are expected to put our best foot forward, making new students feel welcome, and setting their anxious parents at ease, I found myself repeatedly speedwalking through the crowded halls with an open steaming pot of coffee in each hand, smiling reassuringly at newcomers, as though this was standard fare, an integral part of a truly Catholic education. While not one of our finest moments, it is certainly representative of what I live there, day in and day out- and why I love it so.

And lastly, New Year's 2010. Through a somewhat random processing of events, I found myself going to Florida for the New Year, after ten wonderful days at home in Michigan, during which I did very little besides eat, sleep, and shop. Truly- most days, I got up, ate a light brunch, read/watched tv/shopped, then cooked for the fam all afternoon, eating a heavy appetizer in late afternoon while doing a puzzle or playing a game, and dinner with wine in the evening. It's all a big blur of cream cheese and booze now.

I digress. My preferred Road Dawg Courtney and I decided we would make the drive from Michigan to Florida, in one day no less, and so we set out at 5 in the morning, arriving in St. Petersburg a mere eighteen and a half hours later. We joined two more friends there and spent the next few days cooking meals in our rented condo, trying to suntan, and going out on the town. Oh, and making tandem bike adventures around the islands. It was a really fun city, though I couldn't help thinking that we were driving around on a glorified sandbar and bound to sink at any moment. But we didn't, and I lived to tell the tale.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My, oh my, oh my. Hello there, blog. I remember you. I nearly didn't, and then I spent the past twenty minutes re-reading my life in 2009.

I haven't posted in more than a year, and since I'm guessing that my parents have long since stopped checking to see if I've updated, it's a safe bet that no one is even reading this, but I was thinking I should get back into the groove of blogging. It's nice to have a record of the things that go on in your life- especially the little memories. It's easy to remember flying home to surprise my mom two summers ago, but harder to remember reading the book Drunk aloud with friends at Borders on a Friday night.

It's almost comical how much has changed since I last posted, but it is the genesis for my absence. Last March, I was offered a job at a Catholic school here in town, a school I loved for a thousand reasons long before I even first set foot in it. From their mission to their staff to their curriculum, it's like a less homeschooled Hillsdale who pledges allegiance to the Pope. Not hard to see why I was sold.

I spent the week before I started there in Indianapolis, Chicago and Michigan, and while sitting in Patrick and Margaret's Lincoln Park apartment on a Tuesday night, I received an email informing me that I'd been accepted to Clemson's graduate program for school counseling. And so it began.

My seventh day of work at my new job, the headmaster called me into his office. The look of doom on his assistant's face should have tipped me off that not all was well, but like a chump, I assumed the big boss was just checking in to see how my first week went. And when he started out with "I'm not sure how to say this..." my naturally guilty mind immediately thought "oh no- they found out that I checked my personal email during work hours yesterday. It was just gmail, not like I was cruising the personal ads on Craigslist! But they must be really strict here..." So wrapped up in my Catholic guilt was I, that I nearly missed big boss telling me that my immediate boss had been let go the night before. The one I was hired to directly support. Ummm.

I didn't say much except for "okay" and nod my head repeatedly- a response that has gained me a certain amount of infamy in the time since. I guess you don't know what to expect when you give someone news like that, and you prepare for the worst, so the fact that I didn't run screaming from the room instantly gave me some street cred (or the Catholic school equivalent of it).

From that point on, things ramped up very quickly. Two days later, I threw my first event for 70 of our highest-level donors, feeling very much like I was inhabiting someone else's body the whole time. I was, to use the term loosely, promoted almost immediately, and my stress level consequently jumped about 9000 percent. While I loved everything about the school I worked for- the education we provided, the people I worked with, the perks (like half-days all summer long, and wicked awesome vacation time), in my first two months there, I began to experience headaches so bad that I finally went to a doctor and told him, through tears and sniffles, that I was certain I had a brain tumor, because I hurt every day, all the time. My doctor, to his credit, tried not to laugh, and instead ran tests, finally assuring me that I was neurologically sound and based on the events that had recently transpired in my life, my choices were a) anxiety medication, b) therapy or c) waiting it out. Guess which one this anti-drug introvert chose?

So that's the job. It's much calmer now, and the headaches are gone, for the most part, thanks largely to a newfound commitment to working out. I do love it, and everything else that has come in this new phase of life. Well, perhaps not everything- there are moments when I'm sitting in class, discussing Charlie Sheen's psychological issues, when I experience a bit of nostalgia for my calm life of a year ago, but those are stories for another post.