Friday, November 6, 2009

Lacking Motivation

Here is a little teaser pic of Greece for my next post...I just don't have it in me to get one together right now. What you see there is beautiful Oia on the island of Santorini. Just looking at that pic has my mouth watering for feta cheese.

Apparently, my writing juices only run while in Iraq. Why is that? Could it be related to the high hours of boredom and the disconnect from the world? That seems too simple an answer, but it is probably right. I honestly can't say I've been too busy to post. Or that I have nothing important to say, b/c honestly, EVERYTHING I say is more important than anything anyone else has to say. So lets stick to that simple answer. Since leaving Iraq, it has been an odd combination of too much to do with too little to do but lots of t.v. to watch. Owning a tivo is both good and bad for the latter. I don't have to set my schedule to accomodate Top Chef or Flashfoward, but I do wake up to delightful late night comedy and tivo recommendations that include Seinfeld reruns, E True Hollywood Story, and cooking shows. And I don't think leaving my bed to immediately plant it in front of the t.v. is the best way to start off productive.

What else has been going on? Well, I'm entering into the last month of the first semester of grad school. It is going to be a stressful month. I have multiple term papers and short papers due right after Thanksgiving, so I'm trying to buckle down now and have rough drafts done by Thanksgiving and just edit like crazy that weekend. You'll all know how successful I am depending on the level of stress I exhude when you see me. And while I am extremely excited to be going to NYC the weekend before Thanksgiving, in hindsight, probably not the best time. But I won't let that keep me from having a great time. I'm hoping to go to the Museum of Modern Art and walk around the Klimt display talking boredly about how I've already seen all of them while traveling in Europe--because I firmly believe that the most important reason to go to Europe is to act better than others and let random mentions of your amazing time fall into everyday conversation. Steven and Tamara, you are on the cusp of being our most recent elitists.

Other things of note, Max got a haircut last weekend by Kyle's Wichita bessie and let me tell you, he looks ridiculous. I kind of love it. It is in the style of a classic poodle haircut, so parts of him are super fluffy and other parts are almost completely bald. Also, I have yet to assemble that futon Steven, Elise and Sarah helped me get...Steven, you completely intimidated me about assembling it, so I just haven't wanted to attempt such a feat yet. I hopefully will do it this weekend, but if I don't, it's on your head Lambson.
I have yet to get a job...I really just want something part-time that isn't too demanding when I am there and lets me have the occasional weekend off. Talking to my advisor this past week does not have me any more eager to hunt a job up. Basically, the next two years of my life are going to be immersed in stress. Neat. Remind me why I'm willingly doing this?
So, that's me in a "can't seem to write a blog for two months" nutshell. Sometime in the next two months: Greece recap.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday night is alright...for watching reruns of Project Runway

I can't believe it has been over a month since I posted. And I really don't have a good excuse. Don't get me wrong; hold a gun to my head and I'll come up with a few, but none that will hold up without that gun there. I guess I just haven't felt motivated/like I had anything to write about that didn't develop into a 10 paragraph post about what stresses me out. But no excuse. So, even though I still don't have that normal burning desire to verbally vomit all over the internet, I'm making myself break this bad pattern of not writing. To do so, I'm doing my favorite kind of post, the random one where it's more free flow than coherent.

-Whenever I hear Coldplays "Viva La Vida", I just get excited. For what, I don't know. I think it is just one of those songs that just pumps me up for listening to it, living life, all sorts of things. I already love Coldplay (though not as much as Kirsti), but I think this may be my favorite song by them. There, I said it. It may beat out "Politik". Other songs that either still, or at one point gave me that inexplicable feeling of just anticipation, joy and excitement:
*Bon Jovi "It's My Life" and "Saturday Night"
*Feist "Inside and Out"
*Regina Spektor "Better" and currently "Eet"
*My Chemical Romance "The Black Parade"
*Faith Hill "This Kiss"
*Keane "Somewhere Only We Know"
*Kings of Leon "Use Somebody"
*Kelly Clarkson "Since U Been Gone"
I could go on a bit more, but that gets boring. These are what came to mind almost instantly, and they aren't to be confused with favorite songs of all time, though many of them are on the list. The song has to be something that just makes you want to crank up the volume and hit repeat.

-It is remarkable how easily it is to get back to normal. Iraq seems a very, very distant memory and almost completely unreal. Like I had a year-long out-of-body experience. What is very vivid are those times I went on R&R. You know that perfect Christmas you idealize and live every year hoping to match up to that perfect combination of happiness and contentment? That's what these vacations were like. EVEN with the sickness that inevitably came with it. Or the stress of getting out of Iraq. Or the extreme sadness when they were over. Or the slight cringing over the money spent. They were all perfect. I remember last October just giddy with happiness...getting to hang out with all my friends, seeing all my family, eating amazing food, and just living every day like it was my last (and in a way, it was...returning to Iraq loomed closer and closer). I was deep in the dumps on my return. And then getting to go to Europe not once, but twice! Who gets to say that? And to have two very different trips that were both equally perfect. I am going to NYC with friends later this year, and though I am filled with anticipation, it will probably not match up to that perfect feeling I had on the last few trips. But I think in order to have that again, I will have to move back to Iraq, and that sure as heck isn't happening.

-My apartment is still a bit of a wreck. I can't believe how little I started off with and how much more I need to get, yet that itself is a problem, as I have too much crap. And now I'm saying I need more crap to manage the crap. But I do. I still need an entertainment center, a futon, another bookshelf, end tables, another dresser, and a nightstand. And that doesn't even take care of the problem of my shoes!!! I have too many, but getting rid of one pair would be like getting rid of a child. Same with purses. I wish Kirsti were here b/c I would let her pick two purses and no matter what, I would have to let her keep them. Even if it is my all time favorite purse. That way, I'm purging while letting someone else enjoy them (and I can potentially re-borrow it). I might make a condition that one of them has to be a clutch, b/c that is my latest obsession. I probably own over 10 clutches. I just think they are perfect. So perfect.

-Having Max as my starter dog has been great. He isn't too demanding in terms of my time, just wants me around as much as possible. It has been two weeks and not one accident. I'm blaming Sadie for his bad behavior; she enable him. And when we do go outside, he just immediately goes, no waiting on my part. And he is so darn cute.

-I'm really excited for fall to start...I have tons of scarves and sweaters I want to wear with my fantastic boots. And I can't wear any of these till the weather cools off.

-I'm also excited for fall television...I think Flash Forward is going to be really good. I saw a preview for it and it gave me chills. And finally saw the pilot of Glee, so I'm positively brimming with excitement over the new episode this Wednesday. Can't wait to here what songs they convert next. I hear they are doing a Heart song sometime...will be buying that one on itunes.

-Speaking of Heart, went to their concert at the State Fair a few weeks ago. It was like a white trash convention. Despite that, it was an amazing concert. Those ladies can still wail.

-Guilty confession...I haven't yet vacuumed. I need to--there is still leftover pieces of Styrofoam from when mom and I put my bed together, but I haven't even lugged my vacuum out of the trunk of my car. I HATE cleaning floors of any kind. I would clean 20 toilets before cleaning a floor. I have no problem keeping up with my dishes or counter tops or laundry, but vacuum? I can't do it.

-I like how all these networks have money-saving shows on how to shop smart, cook smart, etc. Our parents have been doing it for years, and yet these people act like it is brand new information that it is cheaper to cook at home rather than go out to eat.

Okay, I think that is enough for now...I think now that I've re-broken that gravy-like skin of writing, it won't be so long till I post again.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back in the saddle again

Oh, how I have missed this unobstructed internet. It has been a long couple of months without my laptop, and I've felt every minute of it. As all of you know, my precious baby, my laptop, decided to go crazy and not work whilst in Greece. I think my life was too perfect at that moment, and there had to be opposition in that, so hence the laptop not working. No biggie, I thought. I have an I-Touch and it can pick of wireless, so though it would be tedious to type a whole blog entry on a phone sized gadget, it would still be internet. Well, our wireless in Iraq is so wonky it didn't work. So I was left with work internet, which blocks twitter, blogging, and I'm sure other stuff (but I really only care about twitter and blogging, so I wouldn't know). I found a way around the twitter obstacle (thank you, AOL), and every now and then I could do a random enough search on google that I could view your blogs, but not very well. For instance, pictures on Em's blog NEVER upload on my work computer, so I was clearly missing a big chunk of meat in that pie. Yeah, i like meat-pies; deal. And I definitely couldn't blog myself, and I have a lot of things to say. All the time.

SO, without further ado, I will do my favorite blog activity and that is to list free thoughts of mine:

-Reason I have unobstructed internet is because I'm in KUWAIT!!! Hello, tent city. Nice to see ya. Love paying 5$ an hour for internet (actually, I really don't mind b/c I've missed it so much and the air conditioning is good in here).

-You all are lucky I didn't have the ability to blog b/c for the past three weeks it would have been a rotation on 1) I hate my job and I hate training, 2) I can't WAIT to come home and eat some Jack in the Box, and 3) Why are all middle-aged people so darned annoying and dull?

-The flight from Iraq to Kuwait was AMAZING. From previous posts, you all can deduce that flying out of Iraq via their military planes is horrific and I would rather suffer through the Spanish Inquisition than get on that plane willingly. So when I went to the ADAC last night, I was fully prepared to be so miserable, I would be sobbing later into my pillow (that is only a slight exaggeration). BUT, for some reason, I lucked out and the flight that was leaving was nicknamed a Moose, which stands for a bigger, awesomer plane. Seriously, ya'll, soooooo much different than the craptastic C130's I was stuck on. This one was like if you married a military plane and a commercial plane and they had a baby. I love their baby. It was well air-conditioned, comfy seating, no overwhelming smells of jet-fuel, and incredibly smooth. I slept through most of it, happier than a clam. Didn't get settled into Kuwait until 3:30 a.m., but so worth it. My spirits are high and my coming home soon doesn't even play into it right now.

-I weirdly felt a bit sad to be leaving last night. I spent most my afternoon convinced it was a fool's errand to try and work my way onto this flight, so I skulked out of there not making an effort to say goodbye to a few people. To be fair, I HATE goodbyes more than almost anything. I will do a lot of things to avoid them. I just didn't think I would succeed so well. I wouldn't go back and change things, I'm just a bit sad. I'll write them a note I think. Who doesn't like mail? Really, though he got on my last nerve for the past 4 months, I will miss Dave. And though Jackie, my replacement, found nerves to annoy that Dave managed to miss, I will miss her too b/c she is very supportive. And I will miss seeing the fireworks when Dave and Jackie butt heads for the first time, which I anticipate will be in the first hour. It's going to be crazy.

-I do NOT feel the least bit sad about leaving the work. It was getting ridiculous and even more bureaucratic than normal. And chaotic. And still boring.

-I used to hate Combo's, but then tried the salsa/tortilla combo and it is fantastic. Addictive even.

-I have so much to do when I return, but in my opinion, most of it is fun stuff. I need furniture, a new bed, all sorts of things that I threw away when I packed up my stuff last year b/c I didn't want to deal with it. In hindsight, my laziness will very likely cost me some money.

-Was contemplating going into Kuwait City and staying there for a couple of days before my flight leaves, but since I just left my steady income, I don't know if I want to drop money on the hotel.

-Been watching Simpsons episodes. Classic. I missed this show and didn't even realize it.

-Have I mentioned how insanely excited I am to come home? Seriously, so excited. I may tackle Elise at the airport in my joy. Though I will have been traveling for hours and hours, so Elise, if i don't tackle you physically, know that I am doing it in my head.

My hour is just about up, so I'll leave you here while I brave the Kuwait heat. I almost miss humidity when I'm out there. Almost, but not quite.


(oh, and spellcheck isn't working, so don't hate on my bad spelling abilities)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cry Me A River Part Two

I'm so happy to have gotten the response on the last post I did...I was hoping to, if only to get some books to add to my reading list. First, some responses to the comments left on the post:

-Genny, so funny you mentioned "Anne of Green Gables", b/c folks commenting on the EW web post mentioned that one a bunch. It was up there with "The Lovely Bones", Harry Potter, and a few others as books that made many, many people cry. And now I'm going to have to look for "Tiger Eyes" to read. I love Judy Blume, so I have no doubt I will enjoy this book, and probably have a crying jag after I finish. Oh, and "She's Come Undone" is on my reading list. I've read "I Know This Much Is True" by the same author, though I don't remember crying. I might have. Good book, and I also plan to read his latest, "The Hour I First Believed."

-Steven, really? Not at ALL at Harry Potter? Not even when Dumbledore died? Wow, you might be dead inside. Or just need to really find a book that opens up the tearducts for that particular medium.

-Juli, I have "The Devils Arthmetic" on my list of books that made me cry, but I had to make some cuts, and since "Jacob Have I Loved" stands out the most, it won. Yeah, that one is fantastic and had me crying.

-Elise, I was sooo going to mention Stan's death on The Commish as a t.v. example, but you stole my thunder. Ah, memories.

-Em, "East of Eden" was also some cartharsis for me. I need to read it again. So satisfying on so many levels. And you know I have your copy of "Lovely Bones" and have for a while (I'm a horrible person) and still plan on reading it b/c of all the amazing things I've heard. I loved "Education of Little Tree"...didn't cry as much as you mentioned you had while working a shift at Mac Shack, but definitely emotionally worth it.

Okay, so onto some television. My last post about this will be movies, so don't worry about me neglecting that particular medium.

Television was the hardest for me to remember things that really made me cry. Even though I know it is probably the most likely of the three (books, t.v. and movies) that I will tear up at simply due to sheer exposure. So I'm eager to hear what television has made you all cry. Without further ado though, here is what sticks in my mind as tear-jerker television:

-Well, what first comes to mind is the Olympics Opening Ceremony. This one is funny b/c I have been very vocal with how I find both the opening and closing ceremonies a waste of 5 hours of television (and thats just for one of them). I guess I've never just sat down and watched them. Not that I did this last time. I was working out on the trusty elliptical here in Iraq during the summer olympics and naturally, anything sports-related was on. It happened to be the opening ceremony. I groaned inwardly and immediately started trying to find something to drift off into thought with. But as my eyes kept going to the screen, just seeing these athletes, who have worked so hard for 4 years, rise to the top of their sport and get their moment on the center stage of the world, it got me. And seeing the pride of each nation in their athletes. What a spectacular feeling that must be. So it wasn't just sweat dripping down my cheeks that morning.

-While we are on sports, it must be mentioned that certain pivotal games make me cry. I get wayyyy too invested and the whole play-off experience is already so emotionally draining, that I can't help but cry when my team loses or wins. More often than not, they lose. The game I remember crying the most at was the 1997 loss of KU to Arizona. Man, I sobbed after that game. It still hurts in case you were curious. Their winning of the championship last year went a long way to healing that (and the Syracuse) wound, but still...

-I used to be OBSESSED with ER. If anyone dared call me during the hours of 9 p.m and 10 p.m. on Thursday night, I would refuse to talk to them. That was my time. Now, that time is whatever time Lost is on, but once upon a television, it was ER. I remember being terrified and filled with anxiety for the week after the episode where Carter is stabbed on Valentines Day, just praying that they wouldn't kill him off. And I remember that same season, in the season finale, crying when Carter finally admitted he had a pain-killer addiction (due to the stabbing and subsequent surgery) to Benton, after taking a swing at his mentor. They get on the plane together for rehab, and man, that was a good episode. But it was nothing compared to the one where Dr. Green dies. Oh, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed at that one. I think Elise watched it with me, an ER novice herself, and she sobbed as well. ER has been replaced in my heart, but that episode never will be.

-Funny about that Carter season finale, it also had the episode of Friends and Frasier that made me cry. It was the episode of Friends where Chandler proposes to Monica, and the episode of Frasier where Daphne picks Niles. It was an emotional night for me, and that Friends proposal still chokes me up. It is the perfect proposal and my favorite Friends episode of all time. I was apparently a basket case that Thursday night.

-Any episode of Oprah featuring mothers or someone getting their wildest dream, and I am a bucket of tears. I can be in the pissiest, least emotional mood ever, and all it takes is someone recognizing how amazing their mom is to have me crying hard. It doesn't even matter if it is on in the background as I get ready for work, I am always reduced to tears. Darn that Oprah and her emotionally manipulative episodes.

-The episode of Buffy where her mom dies is one of the best episodes of television ever. They use a Sarah Mc. song to perfection in that ep.

-The Gilmore Girls have me crying at many, many points, but that final episode was soooo good and I think I spent the whole thing crying, from the theme song to the last shot of them in the diner, I was dripping like a leaky faucet. It was similar to Harry Potter, where I knew I was saying goodbye to them, but man, when Lorelei tells Rory "It's too soon", oh, I'm just crying right along with them. Gosh, I absolutely love that show. It is my favorite show of all time. That's right, I said it. I have many competing heavily for number two, and I'm not saying it is the best show ever made (that would be The Wire and Arrested Development), but it is my personal favorite, go-to, comfort, tear-jerking escape.

-Last but not at all least is Scrubs. There are too many episodes that have reduced me to tears to count, so I'll just say that there is no show out there that can have me laughing so hard I'm crying and then in the next second, just simply crying. Episodes that stand out are the ones with Brendan Fraser, any episode that has Dr. Cox emoting, and the one where J.D.'s dad dies. And that finale this year? For any Scrubs fan out there (looking at you Em and Joe), it was tear-jerking and completely satisfying. The perfect finale. My favorite part? "Hooch IS crazy."

So, there it is, the t.v. that has me crying. I'm missing so much from this list, I know. I haven't even delved into those old Hallmark commercials at Christmas time or the cotton commercials or anything involving old people, so feel free to remind me of some great television that is cry-worthy. Next up, movies...(not that that won't be enormously predictable, but it's still coming).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cry Me A River

Last week, during my regularly scheduled phone call with Mom and Dad, we were talking about something (can't remember what) and it came up that I hate to cry. Mom was surprised and I went into my explanation of how I keep myself from crying at movies and the like (I think of funny scenarios like puppies playing in flour or episodes of Arrested Development). If I don't cry, I not only don't get splotchy face, but I can maintain my emotionless superiority over the rest of you tear-buckets. However, there are moments when no amount of reminiscing about Gob-isms can prevent that pounding heart, the dripping nose and the little gasps for breath as you hold back sobs. They come in a variety of circumstances, one of which I just finished reading about on the Entertainment Weekly website: books. Now, I should say this has inspired me to reminisce not only about the books that make me cry, but the movies and t.v. shows, so this could become a series.

But first things first, a sampling of the books that I can't help but sob while reading. Many of these will be familiar to all of you, and those that aren't, I promise not to spoil the ending for you in case you want to pick it up with a box of Kleenex.

-Well, no tear-jerker book list can be complete without a mention of the last three Harry Potter books. This will not be spoiler-free b/c you all have read these (and if you haven't, you are clearly not a member of my family/extended circle and I don't need to accommodate you). I remember reading the 5th book, as Harry is in Dumbledores office, completely out of control and I'm just bawling my little eyes out. I lived at home at the time, it was a Sunday night, and Mom comes down to get me to come to dinner, and I have to explain to her with my red eyes that now wasn't the time. Well, each book got successively more tearful. In book 6, it was in the middle of the night that I'm finishing it, and it wasn't until Dumbledores funeral with Hagrid sobbing and Harry realizing what he has to do, on his own, that it hit me and I cried and cried. I had refused to believe he was dead all through that battle with Snape and with everyone else discovering he had fallen, but the funeral made it real. And his office, with his portrait sleeping on the wall. By now I was ready and prepared for what J.K. would throw at me in book 7. I remember Kyle and I were reading it and trying to pace each other so we didn't binge too fast on the experience, but I'm a naturally faster reader than most, so I would have to put it down and wait for him to catch up. However, after the escape from Gringotts, there was no way I could halt my reading, and when I knew I would start crying (The Battle at Hogwarts), I had to leave the living room so I wouldn't inadvertently ruin it for him. From that chapter on, it was just straight tears with the occasional laugh, gasp, hiccup, sob, up until the end. Parts that especially get me include the forest scene of course ("will it hurt?"), when Hagrid carries his body sobbing, when everyone refuses to believe his death is real, the house-elves coming out with Kreacher in front, Neville, and the epilogue. Man, I'm tearing up just thinking about these scenes. And it isn't just the amazing story J.K. wrote, it was saying goodbye to one of the best cultural experiences I will ever have. It's not a forever goodbye though, as I can pick of the books at any time in the future.

-Next book that I thought of was Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson, same author that wrote Bridge to Terebithia. I know it is the less typical pick of the two in terms of favorite books/tearjerkers, but it is the one I lean towards. It is also the first book I remember that reduced me to soaking my t-shirt with my waterworks. I've always had a strong sympathy for the sibling that is, for lack of a better phrase, "the wind beneath the other siblings wings." This one epitomizes that theme.

-Which leads me to East of Eden, a book that was introduced to me by Emily; I will be forever grateful. It is another sibling book where my favorite character is the outwardly lesser of the two, Cal. Interestingly enough, both books are also loosely based around biblical tales, with JHIL being based around Jacob and Esau, and EOE around Cain and Abel. Just funny that these are two books that no matter how many times I read them, they will move me, touch me, make me think, and leave me drained at the end.

-It was Juli that had me reading Little Women, another one to add to this list. I don't recall which part makes me cry more, Jo's rejection of Laurie, Beths death, Jo's discovery of Laurie and Amy (that one has me crying from fury), her budding relationship with the professor, I don't know. Man, I need to re-read this book.

-The Joy Luck Club is kinda a downer book, so you expect to be depressed through a lot of it. But for me, its at the end when June goes to China for reasons I won't detail in case you haven't read it that I lose it. The movie is equally sob-a-rific, but that is for a potential future post.

-I think the last one I will mention is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I must say, I was not at all anticipating crying in this one. It is written in a non-traditional format, it is bleak, stark, depressing, dystopian, and just didn't have me anticipating the gut-punch it gave me at the end. I remember staying up past 8 p.m. to finish it, b/c as depressing as it is, it is still a really good book, and tearing up at the end, satisfied with the read. And as I got up to get ready for bed, I just kept thinking about it and within seconds, I was sobbing. It was so intense. I laughed at how ridiculous I was through my tears, and still didn't stop crying. I think I cried myself to sleep. It is the last book (with the exception of re-reading Harry Potter) that I have cried so hard while/after reading. I don't recommend it to everyone for the reasons I mentioned above, but for those who think they can handle it, it is completely worth it. Plus, it is also a yet-to-be-release movie starring Viggo Mortenson, and if you read it, you will realize how absolutely perfect he is for the role.

Now its your turn. What was a book that surprised you with tears at its intensity? What is your go-to crying read? What book do you remember first made you cry? I'm sure we have some overlapping tastes, just as I'm sure that different books and stories will elicit different reactions from us. But maybe we can all get a new book to add to our reading list and have a good ole cry over it. And I had some fun with this, so anticipate a film and t.v. version soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Bright Spot in a Dusty Day

It is sandstorm season here in Tikrit, which means that Flo is going to spend every day hacking and coughing and pretending that every little cloud she sees is proof of worse sandstorms to come. It also means that getting out of Tikrit for any reason, by any means, is all the harder. So I approach my upcoming R&R with some trepidation. I will either get to Baghdad extremely early and have to find some way to spend my days in a place I remember to be as bad, if not worse, than Kuwait, or I miss my oppurtunity/flight and have to find some way to meet up with Kathy and Kyle later. But these are things to worry about in a few days.

In the meantime, I have to mention the amazing care package I got the other day from Tamara and Steven. Completely unexpected and entirely delightful, it is the best part of my week. They wrote little notes for every item, which just added to the amusement. My personal favorite that still makes me laugh out loud was attached to a mini "Daily Spanish for Dummies." It said (written by Steven): "Some Spanish to help for your trip to Greece. (Tamara in backgroung) 'Um, I think they speek Greek in Greece, not Spanish.' Me, 'Babe, I am the geography king. I won the Oakland geography bee in the 7th grade. Don't argue.' (Tamara rolls her eyes)."

Classic high jinx from these two.

It also included some chocolate yummies, gum, a "Middle-East Conflict for Dummies", EW, crosswords, a recycled bag, and a few other goodies. Thank you so much you was so very thoughtful and well-received. I love you both and I hope you had as much fun compiling this package as it seems you did.

On another note, I'm watching Firefly, lent to me by my very gracious sister, Sarah. With the way I'm plowing through it, I should be watching the movie shortly. I think I've mentioned on twitter that it is hard to keep watching knowing that it is going to end very soon. It only took a couple of episodes to become absolutely hooked to these characters and the unique stories that are told. So if anyone wants to talk Firefly in the future, I'm game.

Other than that, things are pretty much same old, same old. I have an Iraqi version of senioritis, where it is really hard for me to care/invest in anything I do here since the end is so near. I planned out my 2nd and 3rd R&R's with the intent of having the longest stretch of time behind me by the end of my 2nd, not realizing that I would come back so not wanting to work or do anything. And pretty much resenting anyone who dares ask me to learn anything new. I struggle every day to get through it and just keep telling myself that if I continue with this attitude, the gods will smite me and force me to stay another year, all b/c I counted my going home eggs before they hatched. I fear the time after this upcoming R&R most of all. The fact that it is hard to quit and just walk off will work in my favor here. For all those wondering, I will probably stay till mid-late July. I want to stay on so Dave can take his R&R, which he plans to take at the beginning of July, and then hang for a week after, so I don't thrust the whole program at him immediately after he lands. I don't think there will be anyone new to train, b/c word on the downlow is that they are cutting back so much here, there will only be one project controls person (that's what I do, if you are confused). So naturally it would be Dave...and hopefully he isn't thinking the same about me.

I miss you all dearly and really don't know what half of you are doing right now/how you are doing. Heck, I'll call you out...that way, if someone else knows how you are doing, they can shoot me an email. Juli, Kirsti...hmmm, not as many as I thought. I've gotten a couple of cards from Elise, so I know she is well enough to address an envelope, I talk to mom and dad weekly, so I know how the pets are (and every story delights me more than the last), Sarah blogs regularly, Steven and Tamara just sent me a package, so they are doing fine, talked to Em last week and despite being the caretaker of a male sickhouse, her crew is doing fine (headed back from Wisconsin, if I believe), so yeah, that just leaves Kirsti and Juli. Are they alive? Are they well? Someone drop me a line and let me know.

Have a great day of the dead (what I used to think Cinco de Mayo stood for and would wish people, and I find it so amusing how wrong I was that I continue to do it)!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

This internet connection chafes at my soul.

I'm taking a break from my workday since I skipped going to breakfast, and saw that my internet connection was at a 'very good' level, which it is NEVER at. It wavers between disappearing and hovering at low, reconnecting itself so frequently that downloading anything, even a short song from itunes, is a practice in patience and not throwing my laptop against a wall. Well, as I type this, it has quickly switched to 'very low'...apparently the wireless has mood swings. Maybe it has seasonal affective disorder and the dust storm is making it feel down. All I need to do is get it a bright light and sit it down in front of that light for 20 minutes a day. Maybe then it will be consistent enough for me to get a post written.

All silly hypotheticals aside, I did want to take advantage of its 'very good' reading and get some random thoughts out a.k.a. letting you know I'm still alive. And thats not to imply that I think you all still think of me as in this dangerous warzone or anything. Rather, I'm sure many of you suspect I may have started toying with extreme sports and heavy drug usage if only to give me something to do besides counting the many ways in which I could be bored to death here. How do people do this for their lifetime? HOW? I am immersed in this constant battle of security vs. happiness, and while I think it is really hard to be happy without feeling secure (I'm talking financially, roof-over-your-head sort of secure), it is probably not that hard to feel secure and not feel happy. I'm surrounded by people who live it every day, in my humble opinion. And I used to believe that all I needed was to be secure in my finances in order to be happy. That is not to say that I've completely changed my mind or that I am unhappy. But I really don't think I could call my life here a happy one. It is a settled one, a routine one, heck, even a content one. But happy? I don't want to attach such a great word to how I live. Small things make me happy, such as the birthday card I got from Elise yesterday, very appropriate by the way. Or when I treat myself to a diet coke or ice cream bar from the DFAC. Or talking on the phone to various family members and not getting interrupted by the early arrival of Flo or Dave. But these are really small things in very long days. And I'm not claiming I lived a life of sheer happiness while in the States, but at least those stretches of bliss were a bit longer and more under my control.

Wow, this is so not where I thought this post would take me. Free thought and all that. Basically, I am doing fine here, but dreaming of the day when I can drive for no reason, play board games, eat a cupcake (they don't have them here, and lets face it, cake is NOT the same), call one of you up for no reason except to talk about a weird commercial I just saw, have a steady internet connection, have a day off, sleep in and not feel guilty, eat beef that doesn't make my stomach churn later, work with people who are only 10 years older than me, own a dog, go to the, I can't wait.

Some random thoughts for you inspired by an interview with crazy ole' Matthew McHOTehey:

-I have about 10 books sharing my bed with me. It doesn't take more than the minimal effort to get up and put these on a shelf, but I haven't done that yet. Why? I have no clue.

-I love InStyle magazine (where the MM interview was) even though I can't afford their "budget buys" (seriously? A 200$ purse is a budget saver? Really?) and I naturally feel hideous next to the celebrity they are focusing on. But they are just so accessible to the average fashion lover (hear that Vogue? Your ad's may be pretty, but come on, most of us do not work in fashion), their layout is very asthetically pleasing (calling you out again Vogue), they have a great feature where they talk about planning the perfect theme party, and I just like the stuff they choose to feature.

-That latest Harry Potter trailer is CRAMAZING!!! I am trying to recall if any of the other movies trailers brought out such excitement for me, and I'm fairly positive they didn't. Maybe its because this book is the one I have the least problem with them toying around with. Maybe its because this is the first movie being released that isn't overshadowed by the fact that we STILL don't know how it ends. Maybe its all the great marketing and the well-made trailers. I don't know, but I get chills when I see the trailer and I cannot wait to be seated in an air-conditioned theatre with my big diet coke, my snuck-in goodies, and some family members around me watching this thing.

-I got approved for my R&R, which sadly does not involve a visit home, but wonderfully does involve two weeks in Greece. As Greece has been my numero uno foreign destination dream for some time now, my excitement is palpable. We are thinking of doing a couple of days in Athens, hop over to Mykonos for two days, then Paros for two days, then Santorini for a week, and then back to Athens for our last couple of days. I will probably get skin cancer for the amount of time I plan to spend sitting on a beach there. And I'm okay with that.

-Hugh Jackman twitters...I'm following him now...maybe this will one day lead to us meeting, I don't know. A girl can dream.

-Finished Watership Down. It is as good as Em and Joe say it is, so check it out folks. It took me a long while to get into it (in that I kept putting it down to watch Jon Stewart or to read a magazine or other book), but once I did, it was fantastic. Hoping that when I attempt the LOTR series, it will be a similar experience.

-Lost has been awesome (spoiler alert for the 2 people out there who don't watch this show)
...who knew that this season would have Sawyer becoming my second favorite character (ain't no one gonna oust Sayid from that spot, no matter how many children he shoots) and Juliet in the top 5? And Hurley's reference to Back to the Future? HILARZ!!! And so along my train of thought when it comes to time travel.

-Ordered 4 swimsuits from various places online in preparations for above stated R&R. Why so many? Well, I don't have one and I also don't have a handy mall nearby, so I need options and plan to return the other 3 when I try them all on. Sounds painful and I think it will be painful...all that shipping.

-Kyle has a pug puppy named Hugo and I am totes jealous/happy for him and his puppy. I really, really, want a dog, and I will admit to spending free time looking at for the future focus of my adoration. I don't even know if I will be able to own a dog next year, but I still look.

-No one seems to understand my fear of sea snakes here. I think they need to watch that part of Planet Earth where they are en masse, and where my fear truly started, only to be heightened by Lonesome Dove, when a guy falls into a nest of water moccasins and dies. Snakes that can go from land to water? WORST THING EVER!!! And did anyone read the story about the pythons that escaped from baggage and were on a commercial flight from Australia (or somewhere close by)? Apparently it isn't just a bad movie starring Samuel L, it is a horrific reality.

-I really like oatmeal...especially when I put strawberry jam and some french vanilla creamer in it. Give it a try, your taste buds will thank you.

Okay, I could keep going, but I have been absent from work far too long...have a great weekend!!

Oh, and Happy Birthday Sarah dear!!! I hope it is amazing and that your fish cooperate and that you eat lots of good food and have a great time. LOVE you lots, sarah-bearah.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A smidge of my European trip...

Well, I believe most stories that have no real center are told better in person, so forgive me if I just post a few European pictures with some comments on them. My trip was a story without a center. Some amusing anecdotes, a lot of random observations, a bit of gushing, and some lessons learned. I'll give one of each before I start some pictures, and then if you want to hear more, you shall when we see each other again.

Amusing anecdote: Kyle and I had quite the easy time in London. We figured out the tube system immediately (by we, I mean Kyle, and I caught on by day three), we fit in pretty well, we enjoyed London for what London is (a tough contender for my new favorite city of all be fair, I'll have to visit Chicago again and see if it holds up), we had it all under control. Feeling a bit arrogant at the ease we took to European life, we eagerly anticipated Paris and the challenges we would conquer there. We figured with our combined charm (once again, I mean Kyle's charm), his french abilities (he can pronounce things right, I can't), and a positive attitude, we wouldn't encounter any of that french rudeness we had heard about. Well, about an hour into Paris, at our first outside cafe, Kyle ordered us a couple of sodas and an appetizer to share in what I thought was really good french. That is, until the waiter walked away and mocked us as soon as he left, not attempting to lower his voice, probably assuming our french was so bad we wouldn't even understand when we were being insulted. We were able to laugh at our conceit at the idea of even trying to fit in there, and just accepted we would stick out like sore thumbs during the Paris portion of our trip. And we did. And Parisians/the French are as arrogant and distinct as I had heard and dismissed. I love them for that alone. And love them even more for their love of cinema and carb's.

Random observations:
-Europeans LOVE bicycles and hate helmets. Or maybe don't even know bike helmets exist. I think I saw one person in London wearing a bike helmet, and that was it. To be fair, I was most terrified for bicyclists in London than any other city, so good thing I saw the helmet there.
-Chocolate is better in Europe. I didn't even get any fancy, chocolatier chocolate. I'm talking average candy bars at a convenience store...its just better.
-Amsterdam had the best t.v. for a lazy American looking for an escape from culture. They had both BBC's (which meant wonderfully entertaining quiz shows in the evening), MTV, CNN, ESPN, and a couple other channels that had random episodes of shows like Suddenly Susan, which I had to take a picture of to show that in some parts of the world, this show is still relevant.
-London had the best subways, hands down. They had the most convenient seating (read: they didn't force you to bump knees with strangers), they had the clearest connections/maps, so clear, they were instinctual, they DIDN'T smell like urine, and they love them some escalators, which is wonderful for the walk-heavy tourist or the person carting their heavy luggage to the train station. Oh, and they have this pleasant voiced british lady saying as you got off "Mind the Gap", which I loved so much I got the super touristy t-shirt that says that same thing.
-Cathedrals are cold. I think I've already gone on about this, but I feel it needs to be mentioned again. I mean, dang. I get that they are historic and all that, but invest in some space heaters or something. Jeez.
-Peeps in Amsterdam love them some french fries, so I love the peeps in Amsterdam. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why quick, convenient, fried food is so popular, so I'll just enjoy the fringe benefits.
-There are TONS of beggars in Paris. And shifty characters looking to scam you in Amsterdam. And lots of street musicians in Austria.

Gushing moment:
One of my favorite moments of my trip was definitely one of my most blatent tourist moments. Mom had brought along The Sound of Music for us to enjoy on my portable dvd player while we traveled through Austria. Well, we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us from Graz to Salzburg and figured we would just watch it then. But it caught the eye of a few other bus passengers, and through the graciousness of our hosts/bus driver (our dvd didn't work in the foriegn dvd player, so they found their own copy), we were able to view the movie on the t.v.'s above our seats while we enjoyed the drive. And while we were enjoying the movie, we were driving through the most gorgeous scenery ever. I have driven through many places, and have many more to go, but I think I can say without a doubt, the drive to Salzburg is one of the top three most scenic drives ever. It was breathtaking. I'm not even a mountains obsessor like most others, but I may have to convert. SO, if any of you go to Austria, shell out the dough, rent the car, and drive through the countryside for a bit. You won't be able to watch Sound of Music at the same time, but surely you can get your hands on the soundtrack.

Lessons learned: I had to teach myself to not stress over all the things I didn't do. There is simply not enough time to enjoy everything Paris has to offer. The sheer thought of it overwhelms me. I just had to accept I would return and visit other new things. So we didn't stress that Versailles didn't happen, or that we didn't really explore any of the other districts outside of the center ones, or really go shopping in some of the fabulous stores. We did see the Eiffel tour, walked along the Seine, the Champ de Elsyees (I so know I got that one wrong), went to the Louvre, ate lots of bread and cheese. We just enjoyed our time. And it was the same with all the other cities to which we went. No, I didn't see any of the royal residences in London, or get up close to the Big Ben, but I did get to go to the famous street market on Portebello Road in Notting Hill, and I did get to see Billy Elliot in Victoria at the famous Victoria Opera house (I might have that name wrong, it might be the Albert and Victoria Theatre or something), and I ate fish and chips in a pub called The Three Greyhounds in Soho. In Amsterdam, we missed out on the museums, but loved our canal tour and visiting the flower market and eating french fries every day covered in flavored mayonaise. In Austria, we saw a lot in the short amount of time we had, and so I had to be okay with not just sitting for 2 hours on a street cafe in Graz, or going to the opera in Vienna. We did use our free time well there and went to the Belvedere museum and saw the Klimt exhibit, which was completely worth it. It is as breathtaking as it promised to be. And in Munich, I definitely did not get enough time there and I cannot WAIT to return and fully appreciate it. I did get to see their famous Glockenspeil, shop a bit, and finally eat my steak (long story short, it had been 5 months since I had a decent steak, so to have it for my last meal before I left, worth it on so many levels).

Basically, many may focus on what I missed out on, but I'm going to focus on what I got to experience. And it was a heck of a lot.

So, that went a bit longer than I anticipated. I'm way too wordy. I'll try to tone it down when explaining the following pictures.

Picture 1: Kyle in the quintessential symbol of England, a red telephone booth. I think he's going for "Wow, they still have these things on cords!" look.

Picture 2: Me at the Tower of London, posing on the backdrop of the Tower Bridge. This was the farthest we ventured in London, as we mainly stuck to the center area.

Picture 3: I clearly don't need to explain where we are at here...just enjoying the view.
Picture 4: Posing along the banks of the Seine, along which we walked towards the Eiffel tower/Louvre and such. It reeked of urine this close to the river. Clearly, others appreciation of the beauty of Paris was more literal than ours.

Picture 5: This picture just makes me laugh. Walking in Amsterdam, just happened upon these large shoes perfect for posing.

Picture 6: Posing at one tiny part of the enormous flower market. Despite the early spring chill, there were still lots of flowers to be had.

Picture 7: Mom at the summer palace of the Austrian Monarchy. Can't remember how to spell their last names...wikipedia that if you really want to know.

Picture 8: Mom had just eaten baby cow...thought you all should know why she looks so evilly delighted with herself.
Picture 9: Posing in front of one of the Sound of Music landmarks, though without 7 children singing and marching around me, it loses its context. Just trust me.
Picture 10: At a fortress at the top of Salzburg. This view doesn't even begin to do Austria justice...just a small taste of an exceptionally beautiful country.
Picture 11: Mom and I on the last day of traveling, my birthday. Just another gorgeous day in Salzburg. It must be said that it did rain that night, thus further proving the curse that is my birthday and the 28 year record of it raining on that day.

There are tons more pictures, but they are better shown with me giving a running commentary, so if you have an interest, let me know and we'll hang when I come back home.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quick note...

Guten tag familien. (Steven, feel free to correct my absent article there). Forgive a possible error laden post due to the fact I am using a german keyboard which confuses me to no end. Also forgive lack of details in that I have only paid for an hour and I think it is more than halfway up. As I type this, mom should be flying back to the states, sarah and kirsti should be home with my car completely unscathed from their adventures, steven and tamara should be back from AZ, and others should be doing other things that i don't know about because i have been incommunicado for almost 3 weeks.

I just want you all to know that it has been a great month, both at home and here abroad, and I am already anticipating my deep depression that will commence in approximately 48 hours at not being home with ya'll but rather in Kuwait and then Tikrit. So, to circumvent that a bit, I have already bought two accessories for my upcoming Greece trip (end of May, methinks), and plan to rewatch Gilmore Girls upon my landing at Speicher. If anyone can get me out of a funk, or at least help me ride it out, its Lauren Graham.

Had a great time with mom, though after the 1,000th picture I have declared my intent to vacation with Dad next as long as he promises not to join the 21st century and get a digital camera. Just kidding mom...but seriously, she took a lot of pix, ya'll. Austria was amazing and weather was great, except in all the blasted catholic churches, or as I was corrected in the last one I went into, cathedrals. Well, excuse me, miss catholic tour overseer. Seriously, those these churches are stunningly beautiful, I think I can go a while without seeing another one for at least 6 months.

I will detail it a bit more, but after two weeks here, London was my favorite city to visit. Now before you all judge me and assume it is because they speak english there, that has very little to do with it. I mean, Kyle and I didn't learn ANY dutch knowing that everyone in Amsterdam spoke English, so the language is not the deciding factor. It is just so cool. Great vibe, so many different areas, easily navigatable transportation that did not smell like urine and was not covered in trash, tons to do, all of it. I have loved everywhere I have been and if I'm lucky, will get to return multiple times in my life, but London is at the top of my list. I could live there, high cost of living be danged.

It is drizzly and cold here, so my umbrella has finally gotten some use. Isn't that crazy? No rain to deal with until my second to last day here. The gods were smiling on me. I think I'm off to a tour of Dachau, so I'll end it here. That is, if I don't cave and go to my hotel room for some warm socks. I'm hoping I'm tough enough.

More to come...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I totes want to vom in my mouth

I know, classy title. But "I'm in Kuwait!" seemed anti-climactic since its really just a stopover into happyville, and frankly, its not like I haven't led with that before. Seriously though, ya'll, I totes want to vom in my mouth. I am almost quite literally just off the plane/bus and I still feel insanely nauseated (is that the right tense? I remember being constantly corrected b/c I would say I feel nauseous, and that would be the wrong way to say know what? Screw it. You know what I mean), to the point where I am slowly sipping orange gatorade I just bought at the 24 hour PX and hoping I don't make a spectacle of myself here at the internet cafe.

You know how I love to be dramatic and claim that something I just went through is the worst thing in the world to ever go through, and how I would do a thousand other torturous tasks if it meant I never had to do that one again? Well, brace yourselves, b/c I'm about to make another bold declaration. I mean, it is HORRIBLE. I swore I would bring water, breathe deeply, and think positive thoughts to NOT feel sick, but no go. It is like the least fun amusement park ride in the world, and you are stuck on said ride for 2 hours, smelling overwhelming smells of gas fumes and military plane...something, sitting in the most uncomfortable seat ever, wearing a heavy helmet that DOESN'T fit, so it keeps sliding down your head, wearing obtrusive earplugs, no stretching room b/c you are packed to the gills, and in the extreme temperature zone (either too hot or too cold) and sometimes, under a crack in the plane where you get water dripped on you when the plane jerks, which is ALL THE TIME. Wow. Yeah. That is flying military air in a horrible, horrible nutshell. And I'm sitting there, almost praying my back goes out so it will distract me from the cold sweats and the overwhelming need to vomit while weeping. Why the weeping? Well, mainly b/c I fear it would turn into a Goonies/Chunk situation where my vomit inspires the hordes to vomit and it all escalates rapidly to the point where everyone hates me and I'm covered in my own barf. Which, would not be pleasant b/c I had a roast beef sandwich for lunch and I fear that wouldn't be the best upchuck to wear for an already miserable flight. I did not vomit, but like the last two times I flew, it was truly touch and go. And I think it was more touch this time than the other times.

I've been told there are doggie bags b/c spewing is a semi-common occurance, but I have yet to see one. I see plenty of oxygen bags which do not look user-friendly at all, so I will totes be that person who needs someone to assist her in case the need for them arises, but I do not ever see any doggie bags. Therefore, I am stealing one from one of my commercial flights and hording it. I think what makes experience all the worse is not knowing where I could barf, with the exception of all over myself/in the helmet I need to wear on my head. So maybe having a viable option will make me feel better. I also plan on taking not one, but two of my emergency muscle relaxants so I will possibly be almost comatose for the flight. Hey, you can't yark in your sleep, right? I know I should be ashamed of my planned prescription drug use, but considering the fact that flexiril is almost over-the-counter with how tame it is, and also considering how MISERABLE I am, I'm not ashamed. Feel free to call the A&E folks for the show Intervention (which I kinda love). I just don't want to have to experience that ever again, and knowing I do is almost enough to make me never return to Iraq, abandoning my laptop, at least 10 books I haven't read, my LOTR trilogy, and my series of Gilmore Girls on dvd. Almost.

Just to beat this dead horse into the ground and give ya'll some perspective, things I once said I would never want to repeat, but am now willing to repeat if it meant I never had to take a MIL-AIR flight again:

-Dentist visit, including fillings (but there is a slight condition on has to be with Dr. Mathis who is really good at it compared to the masochist I went to before coming here)

-Allergic reaction to aloe when my back is sunburnt (remember that HORRIFIC experience mom?)

-Being sunburnt to the point where I have blisters on my neck (yeah, it happened after three days of no sunscreen at Johnson Shut-Ins immediately followed by an all day softball tournament with more no shirt stuck to my oozing blisters)

-Strep throat so bad I have to spit in a bowl b/c I can't swallow

-That horrible Kuwait airport experience where I thought I would either have to live at the airport, or accidentaly agree to be a mid-east slave to one of the guys leering at me (Offensively put, I know)

-Having my tire blow out the night before my sisters wedding and having to walk to a pay phone, with my flip-flop breaking, so having to walk BAREFOOT on gravel/sharp sticks to a dirty gas station and pull my mom away from much more important things to pick me up

I know I could come up with more, and interestingly enough, I couldn't bring myself to put down "experience the massive anxiety of asking someone to recommend me for grad school." Maybe that time is still too fresh in my mouth to use it. I'm sure shortly following any of the aforementioned experiences, I wouldn't have quite the perspective I have now. Who knows? Right now, I'm merely consumed with thoughts of how I will kill time for the next 72 hours, and where I can go vomit that doesn't smell like sewer.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ode to Conan & Oscar

Hello all! Wow, it has been a great weekend for pop culture. I've been attached to for the past three days, reading updates, making comments, viewing videos. I speak of not only the Oscars, but of Conan O'Brien's last episode of Late Night before he makes the move to the Tonight Show. All in all, what a great weekend.

First, lets talk Oscar...

If you've been keeping up on my twitter posts, you know I've been experiencing some crazy insomnia lately. Before this happened, I had plans to go to bed early on Sunday night, wake up at 3 a.m. to catch the live broadcast of the Oscars, and not miss out on one bit. But then that insomnia hit, and I was seriously doubting my plan to get up early if I was actually asleep...not to mention the fact that I might not even wake up. You would think that after a few nights of seriously deprived sleep, you body would finally collapse. You would think. I know I held those misconceptions whilst experiencing jet lag, so the fact that I deluded myself this time around is pretty foolish. Last night rolls around, and like clockwork, I'm up for hours. I think I finally fell asleep around midnight, pretty much planning on missing the Oscars. But the insomnia worked in my favor. I woke up around 3 a.m., tossing and turning, and couldn't go back to sleep. Huzzah! So I turned on the t.v. and began enjoying the show.

Random thoughts (very free-flow, so I apologize):
-Ick to E!'s red carpet coverage. But not surprised.
-Delighted to see ABC got Tim Gunn to be one of the hosts for their red carpet coverage. He is truly a class act, and makes me miss my Project Runway.
-LOVED the opening number. I was grinning from ear to ear. Yeah, the lyrics weren't always funny, but they were well organized, it was energetic, and Hugh did a great job bringing down the house (and props to Anne Hathaway for her pipes).
-Found a LOT of the transitions and segways very awkward, made the show feel unorganized at times. I think the editor (steven, correct me if it's some other behind the scenes guru) must have been dipping into the champagne.
-ADORED the acting presentations. They had 5 previous winners giving a short monologue describing the nominated's performance and giving them a bit of time to shine. Yes, I did get a slightly sick feeling imagining how long the show could go if they did it for every category, but they didn't, and man, it worked for me. Made it more personal, great to see past winners (except Cuba...seriously? Tim Robbins wasn't doing anything? Or George Clooney?), and just classily done.
-Found myself "meh-ing" about pretty much all the winners. I haven't seen anything except The Dark Knight (which, nice shout-0ut to the ridiculousness of it not getting nominated in the opening number).
-Loved Tina Fey's and Steve Martin's presentation. They were hilarious and fun to watch.
-Hated Jack Black and Jen Aniston's presentation. They kept cutting to Brangelina, which was tacky and just ridiculous.
-Found most of the set pretty, but some of the props were odd. Can't be as bad as the Emmy's were though, eh?
-Really, really wanted to love the Baz Luhrman musical number, but, once they brought out the High School Musical kids, and the kids from Mamma Mia, I was out. Hugh still sang/danced great, but it was just awkwardly placed in the show, a bit overdone at parts, underdone at other parts, bad song choices, and just felt like a bit of pandering with the performers chosen.
-I love me a good montage, but still found the categorical montages a bit off. And allowed crappy movies to take notice...lame-ish.
-Really liked them lumping the boring categories together, like with Will Smith. A time saver so they could focus on the classy.
-Liked the In Memorium for the most part, with the song adding a personal touch, but it was hard to read the names and not get dizzy with the fast paced/edited clips. But man, Paul Newman was truly a great actor. He will be missed. Same with Paul Schofield. I'm like JD from Scrubs when he says "God bless all Molly's everywhere" but replace Molly with Paul.
-Though I haven't seen any of the films and know nothing about performances, I was secretly glad Mickey Rourke didn't win b/c looking at his face makes me want to vom a little in my mouth. Harsh, I know.
-Read above, but still delighted Kate Winslet won. I really like that gal and find her charming, gorgeous and truly talented. AND, I laugh b/c she was right in her guest appearance on just takes a "bloody movie about the Holocaust" (paraphrased) to win an Oscar.
-Liked how they used past winners to tie into the nominated best pictures, emphasizing that great movies follow basic themes, twist them up, and give new reflection to them. Really liked it. And miss Steven Speilberg winning oscars...rumor is he's got an Abe Lincoln biopic in the works with Liam Neeson rumored to be the tall guy. DELIGHTED.

I think that's it for my notes. I have spent the last couple of days reading all info about how the Oscars were recieved and if anyone enjoyed them as much as I did. Well, almost everyone universally hated the musical number, but everything else was pretty split. Whether it be Ben Stiller's scathing portrayel of Joaquin Pheonix, or the way they presented the acting trophies, it's a mixed bag. I'm delighted to say that the heavy majority of viewers/fans, was thrilled with Hugh Jackman's performance (Oprah included...makes me love Oprah that much more b/c she was the first to call him and congratulate him on the Oscar gig) and think he should return. I do as well. I have sooo much more to say about this, but it'll come out better in a convo rather than me verbally exploding all over this post.

Moving on...Conan O'briens last show. I was incredibly happy when it was announced he would be replacing Jay Leno as the Tonight Show host. I can't think of anyone more talented in the late night realm. Yes, Craig Ferguson is charming (it's that accent), and yes, David Letterman is a classic, and yes, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have me in stitches on a daily basis. But when all factors are taken into account, this was an easy decision. What I DON'T understand is NBC's decision to appease stupid, not funny, sexist and uncreative Jay Leno's massive ego and give him a nightly spot in primetime in front of Conan. BAD choice NBC. I think I can pretty much cut your network for my primetime enjoyment if that's what you think is watchable. I mean, Jay is NOT funny. At all. Not even close. It's painful and I cannot even stomach watching him when there is nothing else on and all I want to do is veg out in front of the t.v. I have been known to watch that horrible MTV show Next in place of watching Jay. It's that bad. And the people I work with not only do not think Conan is funny, but they think Jay is hilarious. Who are these people? How do we communicate on a daily basis without me just screaming constantly to block out the sounds of their voices? If you are a fan of Jay, now is NOT the time to share b/c I will judge you mercilessly. That's fine that Conan is not everyone's cup of tea. Some people don't like witty, self-deprecating, creative and realistic humor. I can abide by that. But I cannot, and will not, be okay with Jay fans. Makes me sick.

Back to Conan, so yes, it's a smidge insulting that they are pandering to Jay like this. But Conan is a true class act, thanking him and many others in his final speech, almost choking up (causing me to choke up) and just ending the show on a great note, bringing in our old friend Andy Richter (who hilariously said "I told you you would never make it without me!!!"), giving us great montages, and showing Conan's favorite clip "Oldtime Baseball" which I had never seen, and man, was I missing out. Sidenote, was that last sentence the worst run-on sentence ever or what? I'd fix it, but I think I just set a record.

Conan, you will be missed at the 11:35 slot, and I worry the Tonight Show might send you down an irreversible path that leads you to a fate similar to Jay's (though I don't know if Jay was EVER funny), but I will still tune in and hope that you bring us classic bits similar to these (my personal favorites):

-Walker Texas Ranger lever
-Abe Bagoda
-You traveling ANYWHERE (comic gold)
-In the Year 2000
-If they Mated
-Anytime you are doing a bit with producer Jordan
-Your string dance
-Your nerd impersonation "I know..."
-Your stint at UPS
-Your reaction to situations out of your control, i.e. writers strike, blizzards, NYC's blackout

Feel free to share your favorite moments from either the Oscars or Conan...I know I've missed many things, so I eagerly anticipate reminding.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Photo Tag and the Killer Cold

There is something about being sick that is inherently selfish. I kinda like it. I mean, your health is down and no one can blame you for taking time to ignore everything else except babying yourself. Moreover, if you have a loved one nearby, they support this effort in focusing all TLC on you. So usually, if I get a cold or something similar, I accept it as natures way of telling me to slow down and take many, many naps. But I don't think that cheery outlook is going to work this time. I have come down with what I'm dramatically terming the "Killer Cold that ate my face"...this title was inspired by this cold making my face ache. Like I ran into a brick wall and didn't break anything, but sure as heck bruised the majority of my face. Moreover, its affected my ability to take all those naps. I can't breathe through my nose, and breathing through my mouth tickles my sensitive/not-yet-sore throat to where it keeps me awake. Oh, and when I do manage to sleep, the Sri Lankan room cleaners/maintenance guys are bugging me to clean my room or something. The first time, I gave them some privacy and went into work where I just sat there wanting to die a little bit. The second time, I think we misunderstood each other and they left for parts unknown and I attempted to go back to sleep. The third time, I was like, screw it, and let them in and promptly put on my sleep mask, burrowed under my covers and let them have their way with my room while they drilled...something. I'm sure they thought I was crazy. Whatev's. So here I am, staying up to watch Lost, still wanting to die while my head threatens to explode and my nose rubbed raw from continual snot emissions, switching from hot to cold to hot about every 20 minutes, and really wishing I could get some of that aforementioned TLC. But since I can't, I'll just lay here and feel sorry for myself.

On a much more positive note, I've gotten a couple of amazing care packages from some dear family members in the past month or so. Thank you all of you. Now I just need one of you to ship yourselves over and come baby me while I act like the world revolves around me. Seriously, they are so good. I'm going to need each and every one of you to live in a warzone in the future so I can attempt to reciprocate. Get on that. I think I have one last package (of my own doing) arriving before my R&R in two weeks. TWO WEEKS!!! That is CRAZY!!! I mean, there were definitaly times I felt like I was going to go crazy and end up that stapler-obsessed guy from Office Space if I had to stay here one minute longer. And that might still happen. But the past two weeks have flown by, and I'm fairly positive the next two weeks will as well, and very soon, I will be hanging out with the Southerland clan, forcing Joe to teach me the same French phrase I won't remember, playing with my HUGE nephew (no, that's not a fat joke...seriously, that boy has some long arms and legs...when did he become a little man?) and shooting the breeze/psycho-analyzing with Emily. This will of course involve some Jimmy Johns and/or CPK. Just sayin'.

Lastly, I was tagged in a post by Tamara earlier this week and totes did not even notice until I visited it for a second time. Funsies!!! I'm not going to post the explanation b/c I'm not going to tag anyone since you alls were already tagged and/or know to what I refer. And, I can't follow the 5th picture in the 5th folder rule hardcore b/c my fifth folder has no pictures in it, so I pretended it didn't exist and present to you the following:

This is a picture taken about a year ago (I think??) by our photographer extraordinaire, Emily, in front of The Pasta House after a delicious Saturday brunch. Yes, you read me right...The Pasta House not only has a brunch, but they serve it on Saturdays as well as Sundays, a rarity in brunch world. And I think they started on the brunch thing to compete with other CWE eateries and their brunches. I don't recall what I had, but I'm sure it was delicious. Kyle was in town form some random weekend, and this was the best way to visit with the Southerland crew and get a meal in...and I'm fairly positive we went straight to The Cupcakery after this. We are a group ruled by our stomachs and the enticement of walking there so we feel like we've burned off some calories. I miss that necklace I'm wearing, as it was misplaced by my friend Jenna in Wichita, and then Kyle was supposed to pick it up at the store she left it at and never did. Boy owes me a necklace.

Mmmm, that was a good memory. Thanks Em for taking pictures of the good times in our lives!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Boring Post Warning...

Okay, I realize that I not only failed to sell the following post, but I attached a warning to it as well. I just thought you alls should know this entry may not entertain the masses (and really, how egotistical of me to assume my other posts entertain the masses) as it is related to the latest in sports information. So fatheaded minnow, this one is for you (read the comments of another Lambson blog to get to whom I refer). And anyone else who cares about my musings.

First off, the KU-MU game. Oh what a treat to discover they were airing it on ESPN as part of their rivalry week (what a great week) and I was able to watch most of it. As we all know, the time to watch this match-up is when KU is visiting MU, if only b/c that's when MU stands a chance. Doesn't matter the current skill level of either team, 9 times out of 10, they give us an amazing game that has me at the edge of my seat, if only b/c for most of it, I'm not even sure who I'm rooting for. Often, if MU is just atrocious and has no post-season hopes, it's for KU b/c I want their rank to be higher. Other times, I'm rooting for MU b/c KU can stand to take the hit and I happen to like particular players on MU's team, like in the year of Derick Grimm and Jason Sutherland. This year, I was rooting for both. Each possession had me screaming defense, throwing up my hands at a hastily shot 3-pointer, and glorying in the beauty of a perfect fast break. And so it was rather easy to celebrate MU's win, if only b/c they were the home team, they were the lower ranked than KU, thereby making them the underdog, and KU, while a very talented group, will more than likely not win the championship again this year, so I can just bask in their growth as a young team. An extra treat was hearing the announcers say "Columbia, Missouri" and picturing being there in a short amount of time.

Man, I think I can unequivocally state that college basketball is the best sport around. I love many other sports, but it's the combination of conference play, a season that only lasts 4 months, raw talent being molded by honorable coaches, the fact that money is not the reason for the season (at least not openly like with all pro sports) and the perfect post-season contest, that make this sport so spectacular.

Which brings me to my next favorite sport, baseball. While watching the only rivalry to beat MU-KU this morning, Duke-UNC, they happened to mention the A-Rod scandal. It was near the end of the game when it was clear that Hansbrough was going to get his fourth win at Duke, that Dick Vitale and some other guy (can anyone remember any other announcer when the overwhelming personality of Vitale is around?) brought up the A-Rod steroid usage. They stated how disappointing it was, how Alex has claimed to not really know what he was using, how he can save his career, yadda, yadda, yadda. I agree with most of what they had to say, basically that he needs to donate a huge chunk of money to charity, he needs to be willing to scratch off the homers from his Texas years from his record, and various other things. I've read many columns about this whole situation, and some seem to imply that everyone pretty much assumed he was using. I beg to differ. I don't claim to adore A-Rod, nor have I followed his career religiously. But even with my limited knowledge, I would like to think I could have ventured a hypothesis that he was one of the users if it was that clear to everyone else. Am I wrong? I mean, he never bulked up like Bonds or Cansenco, which was inspired on his part. Maybe I'm living in naive world, where someone of that talent wouldn't have to rely on something so dirty to keep him at the top of his game. Is it wrong that a small part of me is happy to hear this news? I HATE what it continues to do to the sport of baseball, just making that scarlet letter even bigger. But as a huge Derek Jeter fan, it's a bit of validation to know that the person Derek is constantly compared to is not the perfect athlete everyone claimed he was. I know, petty. I mean, in the worlds eyes, Derek has already won. Doesn't matter that A-rod is the highest paid Yankee, New York and all Yankees fans love Derek so much more, he has the rings, he has an assured place in the hall of fame (which A-rod may no longer have). I don't know. I'm meandering here without a point. I guess my basic statement is that I'm hugely disappointed that A-Rod turned out to be a user, I'm angry that the unions and owners still haven't done enough to stop the rampent steroid use, I'm hopeful that the Yankees can get past it this season, I'm hugely relieved it wasn't about a player I love (that would be a crushing blow).

Last note...during the same sports discussion Vitale had while Duke was throwing up prayers against a well-honed North Carolina, they mentioned Favres retirement from football and how they wished he had gone out as a Packer, as that's where he spent almost his whole career. And it was mentioned that they would hate to see Derek Jeter in any other uniform than a Yankees uniform. I couldn't agree more. Yes, it hurt when Roy Williams went to UNC, and yes, I was a smidge bitter for that summer...but, it makes sense. It's where his roots are. And frankly, I think all parties are quite happy right now. KU got their championship with Bill Self, a great guy, Roy got his with UNC, and still had the class and loyalty to root for KU last year when his own team lost to them in the previous game...I'd like to think we are all content and over any negative feelings we may have once had. But if Derek Jeter goes to any other team, it would truly break my heart. I think the only way I would at all be okay with it is if he followed Joe Torre. I'm still hurting over Steinbrenner's idiotic move to not keep Torre, but I don't hold it at all against good ole' Joe. And the Dodgers are a good team to coach instead. I mean, it's not like he went to Boston. Maybe it's foolish to wish that Derek never leaves the Yankees, especially when the almighty dollar rules all professional sports these days. But I'm going to continue hoping that he does. That he stays as classy as he has been his whole career, and not cling to a career long over, and not seek out money above loyalty and legend, and stay in those pinstripes.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Alternate Realities

Well, I haven't had much to write about as of late. Nothing has really changed since my last post, I'm still stressed, still anxiously awaiting my R&R, still wishing grad school didn't make me sick with anxiety. Therefore, I haven't written. But then I noticed it's been two weeks!!! Where did time go? As anticipated, this month is flying by. It's not without it's never-ending trials, but at least they are going by quickly.

What else is happening with me? Well, the idea of life paths has been on my mind. Many reasons for this:
-I'm reading a book that involves time-travel...a nice brain candy read that won't necessarily enrich me but does make me think
-Planning for the future, i.e. grad school
-Learning through slightly convoluted methods about where past friends are at in their lives right now
-Trying to figure out what makes me truly happy
-Visiting wayyyyy too much

Stuff like this always seems to pop up in my mind right as I'm trying to go to sleep, and b/c the sleep Gods are cruel, I end up fixated for the next hour with my mind racing on these and other topics. Quick side note, my itunes shuffle just picked the Dixie Chicks "Taking the Long Way Around" to play, a perfect song for this post. The point I'm trying to make is wondering about the "what-if's." I was just telling mom last week that if I hadn't gotten myself into the financial crisis that I did all those years ago, I would have finished my degree at Northwest, I would have more than likely switched majors to speech communications, gone immediately to grad school as a grad assistant to a speech team (I was leaning towards K-State...I know, kind of a betrayal to my KU loving core, but KU doesn't have a speech team), and then most likely taught at a small college or high school, coaching a speech team. I was so close to that fate. I know I would have been happy, but at this point in my life, I can't imagine it anymore. Going back further, what if I had gone to KU? I was planning on majoring in religious studies, which would have probably led to a study abroad for a semester or two (I love eastern religions...especially Buddhism), and then grad school after that b/c honestly, who could get a job with an undergraduate degree in religious studies, and then who knows? More than likely, teaching somewhere on the subject. And what's so funny to me is that now I'm trying to put myself on a path that will probably end in teaching, but this time Sociology/gender studies.

So all of these paths that I'm trying to take or almost took, end in me teaching. Isn't that funny? I never thought I would be a teacher. I remember my childhood dreams were pretty typical--marine biologist. If there was anything else I wanted to be, I can't remember. It wasn't until high school that a fascination with psychology began, and combined with an ineptitude towards biology, it was clear my dream of working with dolphins was not going to happen. And who knows? I could still do psychology. If I go for a PhD, I would really like to get one in Social Psychology, combining the best of sociology and psychology. But once again, the end of that rainbow is more than likely in academia. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Okay, so getting to my point again, I can't help but wonder what other jobs I would seek if I could live my life over again. There are so many. And they fall into two very different categories: realistic and dream. For instance, my top 5 job choices that I could honestly see myself doing, and who knows, might end up doing if something else happens in my life to wrench my path in another direction, are as follows:
1) Low-level politician. I'm talking member of the school board, working on city council, something that still encourages third parties and grassroots movements.
2) Journalist. I did have an interest in that for a year in junior high, and I still think I could do it. Yeah, that journalism degree is pretty important. But I think I could have gotten that and gone into print journalism (my preferred medium).
3) Work for the U.N./Amnesty International/something with Human Rights. This would involve me honing up on some foreign languages, but I could do it.
4) Lawyer. Preferably environmental or animal rights. It wouldn't be about money at all for me, but about being part of the change I want. Or a judge.
5) Bookstore owner. I know, kinda cliche. Who doesn't want to try to recreate the library gift Belle gets from the Beast in any way they can?

Hmm, that was harder than I thought. I know I'm going to think of a few that I completely forgot, but that's what the comments section is for. These were pretty free-form though, not over-thought or anything, so I find it interesting that most of these involve trying to be a significant part of world change. Maybe it stems from my desire to be world dictator.

For funsies, my top 5 dream jobs (they are dream jobs b/c I either do not have the skills to succeed in that field without working myself to the bone, which I'm inherently against, as I love a bit of relaxation here and there, or jobs that are next to impossible to get/maybe don't exist):

1) Marine Biologist/Zoologist/Veterinarian: I love, love, love animals. Wait, strike that a bit. I mainly love mammals, and to be able to work with them as a career, oh, I would be so happy. If I were a marine biologist, I would specialize in dolphins (natch). If I were a zoologist, I would specialize in primates, and work on national geographic documentaries and such. If I were a veteranarian, I would specialize in puppies, but only ones I could save. I don't want to ever have to put down a puppy.
2) Writer for Entertainment Weekly. I would like to work in all sections of Entertainment Weekly, but if I could truly have my way, I would have a monthly column like Stephen King and rant about various things in entertainment. And I would contribute to the other issues, like reviewing a t.v. show or movie or book here or there, but mainly, rant about why my tastes are better than yours. First up, why there should be a Veronica Mars movie/attempt at a show again, and how it should end. Or a Gilmore Girls movie.
3) Travel writer, light on the writing, heavy on the dining of ethic foods and laying on the beach. I would love to be paid to travel the world. I'll even go to stupid ole' Australia, which has more poisonous spiders than any other continent, as long as I could meet Hugh Jackman. He has a favorite Sunday breakfast spot in Sydney that I'm making Kathy stalk when she goes to Sydney in two weeks. But if he leaves his wife for her, I'm ending the friendship. He's mine if he isn't his wife's.
4) Para-Psychologist: That's right, a ghost hunter. I love the idea of other-worldly phenomenon's, but I don't want it to be as extreme as Supernatural, and not as crime fighting as X-Files, so I'll just hunt out paranormal phenomenon. Man would I love to have a true paranormal experience.
5) Cupcake taster...J/K, b/c they would make me taste spice cake ones and I hate spice cakes. No, my fifth would be a chef. I would love to make cooking my only job, but not if it means I have to be open to eating all things. I will not ever eat snake or other reptiles, and that challenge on third season Top Chef that involved unique animals for cooking, well, it made me want to vomit. I would just want to own a small cafe where I can be creative, bake/cook what I want, and maybe hone it into a Food Network show where I finally get to meet Paula Deen, Ida Garten, and Sandra Lee, who I know is half drunk b/c she is always making a cocktail on her show. And we would all cook dinner for one another, and take turns driving Sandra home, and have fabulous kitchens with islands and fresh herb gardens and fresh flower arrangements. That would be amazing.

So this was also a bit free-form when thinking of my dream jobs, and once again, I find it interesting that a nice chunk of them involve me trying to be creative. I say trying b/c I am definitely lacking in the creative field. Left-brainer all the way. I get frustrated with creativity, b/c I feel both overwhelmed and completely uninspired when met with a creative challenge. I don't know about writing, but cooking is one area where I feel even slightly creative (thought I am a pretty rigid recipe follower...that darn left-brain is in charge).

Well everyone, did this post leave you confused with my messy train of thought, my unfinished arguments, my hatred of eating snake and spice cakes? Or did it get you thinking of "what if" or wondering if you were given another life to try out, what would you do with it? Assume all other factors remain the same, your childhood environment, you basic personality characterisitics, your values. What would you be? What would you dream to be?

Feel free to share in the comments, or feel free to disregard this post completely. I understand completely the importance of making our one path as meaningful as possible, so spend your time where it makes you happiest.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A martyr complex like none other.

It is the end of a very long day. It's been raining all day long, but cold enough to make it even more miserable. To get to the DFAC on days like this is a practice in your hopping skills. And since mine are subpar (I have remarkably bad balance), I've had wet feet all day. Add this to the constant work and the increasing stress of grad school (I'm not even in, and I can't imagine being more stressed than I am at the moment), and I'm soooo ready for today to be over. But sadly, the same problems will still be there tomorrow. Sleep may restore muscles and brain cells, but it doesn't solve problems. Someone needs to work on that.

Anyways, I've been thinking about negativity a lot lately. Let me preface this by saying that one, I recognize I'm a glass half-empty kind of gal, and am the first to admit that naive optimism makes me cringe, and then mock. Moreover, I've been known to play the martyr (not the good kind) from time to time. There's something very enticing about punishing oneself for the view of everyone, and in turn, making them feel guilty that you are in that position. It's a HORRIBLE characteristic of mine, I know, and I like to think it's gotten smaller and smaller as I've grown. (If it hasn't, I kinda don't want to know right now...wait for a better month to tell me). BUT, I don't think I even come close to the constant martyrdom/negativity that is Flo.

For the most part, I enjoy Flo's company, random remarks, movie knowledge, and easy friendship. But, a more martyred woman I have yet to meet. And it's kinda a bummer. You can't help those who won't help themselves; while I may play the martyr from time to time, I do like to think I don't complain without a resolution to change that thing or at least shut up about it. She is not the same. Long story short, we have a new E&C chief, and he rubs people the wrong way. Flo especially. And she isn't without reason here. But, not only do the side complaints get really old to listen to, she also now refuses to accept the small olive branches that have been offered out of sheer stubbornness/martyr complex. I can sympathize, but for only so long. So lately, my office has gotten a smidge toxic in the attitudes, and it's wearing on one's soul when you are there every day, all day. I will definitely be more in need of this upcoming R&R than I was of the last one.

Also, some may have already heard, but I directly have suffered from this new tinge of negativity going around. After a delightful conversation with Emily on the phone last week, as I was leaving to go to the gym, Flo stops me. Apparently, my conversations with friends and family go on too long, and it's disturbing the office. Now mind you, she claims she's speaking on behalf of our E&C chief and wanted to warn me so I know not to talk when he's in the office. I of course, know there is more than that. Before my first R&R, if I came in the office before 6 a.m., it was almost always empty. There was the rare day Flo would be there, or that Colonel Snyman would be there, but he has his own room, so neither of us disturbed one another. Since I've come back though, Flo has the new habit of being in there from 5 a.m. on, which is definitely at a time I arrange to talk to you all. So I know this new complaint of my phone habits has to be coming from her as well. I have no doubt there is some truth to her blaming it on Dale (the E&C chief), as it falls within his personality to be bugged by something like that and to say something to someone other than me. And to be fair, there was a time I was on the phone in the evening. It was random, not long, but it was a personal call.

However, I am still completely within my rights. I believe I'm over-accommodating in fact. I gave Flo many chances to speak up and say my phone time bothers her, and she never took it, so I'm going to keep on keeping on. I'm incredibly annoyed that people are taking one of the few things that makes me happy so personally and turning it into an issue, but there isn't anything I can do about it. I'm certainly not going to stop talking to you guys on the phone. However, I will try to be more conscientious of the time. For that reason, I've already pushed my time with Mom and Dad earlier, and if any of you want to set up a phone time, it will probably be earlier than what it would have been a month ago. I apologize if this causes problems for anyone. But you all know how much I love to be righteously indignant, so this way, if another complaint arises, I can lord my accommodating nature in their faces. Meh, just add it to my faults.

That wraps it up here. I'm going to try to get through these next few weeks with at least a shred of positivity. I'm hoping I can. I'll just have to find joy in the small things (like a day off next week). Love you all.