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.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wake me up when it's over.

I like to think that I'm pretty open minded. Yes, I have incredibly strong opinions and often will talk you into silence if you even hint at disagreeing (examples that come to mind include why Harry Potter rules, why a third party is incredibly important to a political system, why Bon Jovi is indeed a legitimate, albeit campy, rock band, why chocolate should be a food group, and why Trissy is one of the greatest dogs of all time), but for the most part, I'll still take others opinions into account when examining all sorts of issues. Furthermore, there are very few things that I am firmly against, no matter what. These things range from genocide (that's a 'duh' one), to Hooters (I don't care if the wings are good, I still won't respect you if you go there), to Family Guy (the dumbing down of America, and not in a good way like with Fear Street books or American Idol). Well, lets add another thing to the list that I am firmly against.

That's right, football. I HATE it. A more dull sport has not yet been invented. I would rather watch ants walk back and forth from their anthill than watch a football game. You would think that a sport that only gets played once a week and by only two leagues that the country cares about (NCAA and NFL), that I would only have to put up with the occasional interruption on my life. But NO, it is on ALL the time and I feel my brain leaking out in protest each second it is on the screen.

Okay, I need to backtrack here a bit. You all are probably confused by the direction I've taken. As most of you know, I try to go to the gym every day. And for the most part, I manage to do just that. I also try to go in the mornings, at 4 a.m.-ish, not only because it's less crowded, but that way I can be at work by 6 a.m. and not have to work past 6 p.m. This gym is not the luxurious workout spot that gyms in the U.S. are. By that I mean they only have one t.v., a big flat screen that is positioned perfectly in front of the elliptical machines. During the summer, I could be entertained by a number of things, whether it be the random movie on AFN's movie channel, an episode of Seinfeld, or something sports related, like baseball or sportscenter. My favorite was during the Olympics because I managed to go at that perfect time when M. Phelps was going for his 8 golds live. It was thrilling and helped me forget about my workout. Same goes for when Boston beat those stupid Lakers for the NBA championship. And if I were going to be here for March Madness, I just know I would be able to workout for an hour straight without thinking of all the excercise I'm plodding through. And isn't that the point of a television in a gym? To distract you from your workout?

Well, with stupid ole' football, the harder workout is to attempt to be entertained by a sport that is constantly showing shots of the coach on the sidelines, the scantily clad cheerleaders, and yet another football huddle on the field. How DARE anyone say baseball is boring when football has a flag called like every other second and we are treated to another shot of the ref making arm gestures to some random guy up in a booth? If I have to watch another pointless attempt to work one's team down a field by trying to run through a defense, I might kill someone. I mean, it is NOT thrilling to see them gain one yard at a time. And field goals, don't even get me started. In no way do these easy shots hold the thrill of a free throw at a critical moment.

I am willing (just barely) to allow that a Hail Mary is kinda exciting. But that 10 seconds of prayer and desperation do NOT make up for hours of sheer boredom. I will also allow that football movies can be great. I will argue this is largely due to great editing and a sympathetic hero like Rudy. However, even in movies, no football movie can make my top 5 sports movies of all time. And yes, it's great when your team makes it to the superbowl/bowl game, and yes, I did like Steve Young like every other mormon alive. But that was when I didn't pay attention to the mind-numbing monotony that is football.

I've always been a smidge prejudice against any sport that encourages brutality for the sake of the team. So to be fair, I came into this sport with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. Also, their cheerleaders "outfits" (if two scraps of fabric can be called an outfit) offend my feminist sensibility. But I never thought that trying to watch a game would insult my attention. Golf is much more interesting. Soccer? WAY more interesting. And while I'm not willing to acknowledge NASCAR as a sport, I bet it's loads more exciting than football.

Somehow, for these past few months, there seems to be a football game on EVERY time I go to the gym. I can't escape it. And while I do bring my ipod for something to listen to, it doesn't help me when I need a good focus point in front of me, and I can't avoid the huge t.v. taking up almost the entire wall. What I would give to have a boring show about stocks, or an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (a show I don't particularly care for...they are too mean to one another, and not in a funny way) over the dredgery that is a game of football. But no, now we are in playoff season. I would be grateful for the end of the college season, but unfortunately, we still have the NFL playoffs. And you would think that with the limited number of teams playing, I wouldn't have to suffer every day. But I have no doubt they are going to manage to find a football game somewhere to play for every day of the week. And I'm equally sure we will be tortured with Arena football once the joke that is the superbowl is over. I mean, when you have to spice up the culminating competition of your particular sport with getting-lamer-as-time-goes-on commercials and new episodes of House or Greys Anatomy, as well as a halftime show featuring an on-the-verge has-been (though this year it's The Boss, and I kinda like him...still won't watch though), clearly there is something incredibly dull about said sport.

Am I wrong people? I beg you to find some justifiable reason to waste even 30 minutes of my time with a sport that promotes rage/violence in men, yet still can't even be entertaining on a trashy level. In the meantime, I will be gritting my teeth and not praying that my workout ends soon, but that the football season will end/the t.v. will break.

(Disclaimer...I apologize for the awkward phrasing and heavy use of caps...this is a rant I would rather give in person, but a girls gotta rant when she's gotta rant, so my blog it is.)