Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions for 2011

I love this time of year. It combines so many of my favorite things -- writing lists, looking forward, making plans.

I've compiled my newest set of New Years Resolutions. For the year 2011. Never thought it would come.

2011 has always been this far off, imaginary time. The year I graduate from college. Those four digits have been on applications and resumes (and even a red baseball cap gathering dust in my closet) for the last three years, always distant and abstract. But now it's here and it's real and it's kinda freaking me out.

And because the make-up of the next year is hazy at best, my resolutions are also fairly vague. They'll solidify as we creep into the new decade, I'm sure.

I hope.

I mean, right?

Anyway, here, my friends, are my resolutions for the new year (and in part, the new decade).

Gingerbread Houses and Other Wintery Things

Wednesday I spent the day with Desirae, a good old friend of mine who shared "total nerd" status with me in third grade. We bonded immediately, and we've managed to stay in touch pretty regularly since then, thanks to good ol' snail mail. It's always nice to see her again.

She invited me over to her house around noon, where we immediately set to work making gingerbread houses. But not just any gingerbread houses. Deluxe houses complete with M&M trees, marshmallow snowmen, and powder sugar snow to cover the rooftops.

So many candy options to choose from!
My masterpiece! Skittle fence, candy cane
door, and Nerds Christmas lights. 

I have rekindled my love for making gingerbread houses.

After putting half the candy on our houses and the other half in our tummies, I was invited to be a part of their large extended family bowling trip. So we all piled into cars and headed to the bowling alley across from the cemetery.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

. . .

‎"Progress is impossible without change,  
and those who cannot change their minds 
cannot change anything." 
- George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Readjusting Expectations

Coming back to my hometown always takes an adjustment. The city (does it really count as a city?) never seems to change -- same streets, mostly the same businesses, mostly the same people-- and yet it all feels different.

There's now nothing to do.

I have no idea how I managed to stay entertained in high school.

Also, the house I grew up in has since been sold, so when I'm here I stay in a new place with different smells and sounds. I know it doesn't seem like much, and I guess I'd have hoped that by the time I was getting ready to graduate I wouldn't need that traditional "home" feeling anymore. But I still do. And it's not there anymore. A bit sad, in a way.

But I'm not saying that I completely dislike the challenges of a new place. They can be fun. For example, as I've stated before, setting up a new kitchen is really a blast.

And I love organizing other people's stuff. I get this strange satisfaction from looking at a mess and transforming it into a comfortable, livable space. Clutter stresses me out.

So, being the great guy that he is, my dad has pretty much given me free reign of setting up and organizing his apartment. Currently sitting on his kitchen counter is a running list of all the things he needs to get his bachelor pad in good shape for after I leave.

I think that if all my other career ideas don't pan out, I'll just become a professional organizer and have people hire me to organize their lives.

I'm reluctant to admit I can think of only a handful of careers that sound like more fun. Writing, producing, and wedding planning are some of them. I think I'm officially adding professional organizer to my list of potential life paths. The more the merrier, right?

Back on the topic of adjustments . . . The other thing about coming back to Billings is that people move or change, or both (which is good). Very few people have stayed the same, even if it sometimes feels like this town is in a constant state of stagnation.

So the list of people I make a point of seeing every break keeps getting smaller and smaller, until I'm at the point where I only see three or four people (though those three or four are very special to me). I spend the rest of my time at coffee shops, writing and thinking of home. Oklahoma is home. Temporarily, at least.

Then I'll move and make a new home.

Sorry I keep talking about this. It's been on my mind a lot lately. I've termed it "the plague of the petrified soon-to-be college graduate." Catchy, right?

I'm looking into trademark options as we speak.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Uphill Both Ways in Freezing Weather

I flew into Billings yesterday, leaving balmy Las Vegas behind for the frigid winter wind of Montana -- of which Dad and I had ample time to appreciate, as we stood outside for a solid twenty minutes waiting for the taxi to arrive. Just goes to show how small my town is. We probably got one of only two taxis in service that day.

Side Note: Dad is sitting here and would like me to clarify that I was in Henderson, not Las Vegas. He says that Henderson is the second largest city in Nevada. However, since they bleed together and there is only a tiny sign to indicate the change from one city to the other, I will continue to call it Las Vegas. Sounds much more exotic that way.

The last two days have been filled with rearranging/cleaning/bleaching my dad's apartment, seeing friends, experiencing my small hometown's public transportation, and walking to the Dollar Tree to buy more utensils for my dad's kitchen.

It's actually quite fun to help buy stuff for someone else's kitchen (using someone else's money). I'll probably be over the moon when it's time to get stuff for my own kitchen (though I am much less enthusiastic about the spending my own money part). But seriously, setting up a house is so much fun. And the dollar store is actually the best thing that was ever created for said homemaking. For example, why would you go to a regular store (even Walmart, the cheapville of them all), when you can get that same vase/oil dispenser/wine glass/measuring cup set for a fraction of the cost at the dollar store? One buck for everything? Yes please.

Then, of course, came the adventure of walking home with my loot. See, Dad's not-so-trusty, ancient-beyond-belief station wagon finally bit the dust not long ago, and as such, I am without a car. Which means walking long distances to get places (ten blocks to the grocery store -- uphill both ways in snow and ice) or taking the bus.

Oh, the bus. See, in small-town Montana, not very many people take the bus. I have yet to be on a bus with more than four people at a time. The city is too spread out, and the public transportation too sparse, to make it very convenient to not have a car. So most people have cars. And no one rides the bus.

Except me.

Five quarters will take me anywhere I want to go -- as long as there's a bus station nearby, of course.

It's very interesting to see your hometown, the place where you've grown up and spent 13+ years, from the back of a bus. Just sitting there, bumping along. It's a different feeling, though it's hard to describe. And I kinda enjoy it. I don't particularly enjoy being limited in mobility or anything, but it's a new adventure to attack Billings by bus. It gives me a new challenge during my week or so here.

That and keeping my balance on all this ice. I shall consider it an immense accomplishment if I manage to stay on my feet and off my butt while walking around out here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of joy, love and family.

Mine had a healthy dose of wonder as well. Baby Isabella's first Christmas was a thing to behold. Pictures and stories to follow.

May peace be in your heart,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Today I went to Egypt...

... and England, Monaco, and New York City.

It was a busy day.

Evangelina had a hair appointment in one of the hotels on the Strip (Who still cuts hair on Christmas Eve?), so Stan, Dad and I went with her and walked around for a few hours while she got a cut/color.

I guess midday on the Strip is for families. They were everywhere. I was amazed at how many people 1) spend Christmas in Las Vegas, and 2) take their kids with them when they come.

Vegas isn't really a place for kids. Sure, they have some magician shows and the Excalibur hotel (think mideival castles and real jousting tournaments). But there are more pictures of half-naked women here than in a Maxim magazine, and probably just as raunchy.

The Excalibur

While wandering, we walked through the Luxor, which is a giant glass pyramid and has a little Sphinx inside. Then we walked across a skybridge (all those big hotels are connected) to the Excalibur hotel. Then we went on to New York New York -- which is probably my all-time favorite hotel on the strip.

That's because inside, they have a food area that is made up entirely of "miniature" NYC buildings that stand about one and a half stories tall. The first floor is to scale, holding restaurants and little cafes. Then, above that first floor, they've miniaturized the buildings and squeezed in another two or three "stories." It's adorable.

Found me that NYC townhouse!

Also, New York New York has a roller coaster. A big red roller coaster that winds around the outside of the building so you can see the Strip from an entirely new perspective. Stan and I rode the coaster on the way back -- rather pricey, but oh so much fun!!!

Then we walked through the Monte Carlo (which is actually a huge hotel in Monaco -- lots of my friends took a day trip over there while we were at Cannes) and then on to the CityCenter, which is apparently this huge new hotel with the best shopping and gorgeous paintings lining the halls (which the concierge at New York New York said was better than paying to walk through some gallery.

Near one of the entrances to the Monte Carlo.

After walking all the way down to the CityCenter (which was probably at least five super long NYC blocks), we took the free trams all the way back down to the Luxor, where Evangelina was getting her hair done.

We had some time to spare before she was done, so the three of us got fluffy Christmas drinks at Starbucks and sat around chatting (which included, on my part, a complete recount of the plot of Casablanca in an attempt to convince the boys that it was more than just another old black and white movie). Let me just say that while Christmas drinks at Starbucks (with their red holiday cups) already fill me with a special joy every year, they really come through after a few hours of walking around gaudy, expensive hotels. Gingerbread spice never tasted so delicious.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

No Place Like Vegas for the Holidays

My older sister Evangelina currently lives in Las Vegas, and she is graciously letting the family crash her beautiful home for Christmas. I picture lots of eating her scrumptious cooking and hours of fighting over and playing with the cutest creature on the planet, her baby daughter Isabella (It'll be her first Christmas!).

To get from Arizona to Vegas, Mom, Stan and I are driving eight hours, starting tomorrow at the painfully early hour of 5:00 a.m. Which hopefully means we'll be missing the morning traffic when driving through Pheonix (about an hour and a half away from Tucson). However, since there is a teeny-tiny, ever so slight chance we might possibly hit traffic when passing through, I have taken the responsibility upon myself to commandeer the car through said big city. My wonderful mother, while I love her dearly with every fiber of my being, scares the living daylights out of me when she drives under stress.

Big City + Morning Work Traffic + My Mother = Possible Heart Attack

This is something I would like to avoid.

So I will be doing the driving.

I'm actually pretty excited about it (except the rising-before-the-crack-of-dawn part, of course). Since I don't have a car in Oklahoma, I'm always jumping at the chance to drive people around. It's a simple joy, I guess. But when something is a special occasion, it's gonna be fun. And driving, for me, is definitely a special occasion.

I realize this makes me strange.

Also, the landscape between Las Vegas and Tucson is really different from anything I'm used to. I grew up with mountains, trees, shrubs and tall brittle grass.

Out here it's the desert, with a million different kinds of cactus poking awkwardly out of rocky dirt. Lots of cactus. Lots of dirt.

And an occasional roadrunner. I know what you're thinking, and yes, they actually exist outside the Looney Tunes.

I just discovered this too. Changed my entire outlook on life.

So anywho... tomorrow we're headed to Las Vegas to begin the rest of the Christmas festivities. I'm excited about Christmas in Vegas, but I'm a bit sad to be leaving Tucson and my sister Rebecca. My stay here was way too short -- four days just isn't enough to catch up with family that you haven't seen in four months. But hopefully, if things go according to plan, I'll get to spend some time here after I graduate (before I start a real job, perhaps?).

Wait. Who am I kidding? THERE IS NO PLAN! Gah! *nervously gash teeth*

(Oops. Seeing as this blog is already full of a gazillion tangents, I'll leave that one for another time).

See y'all in Vegas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Three Days Until Christmas!

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

Warm, rainy Arizona weather isn't exactly what gets me in the mood for Christmas. I've even slipped on my daily ritual of Pandora Christmas music while aimlessly cleaning the house. The last part is probably the direct result of not being at home anymore (not that my sister would mind if I randomly started 409-ing her house, I'm sure).

In short, I've been feeling much less Christmas-y in the last few days. But hopefully today will cure that. I'm braving the malls with my mother (what shouts louder of holiday cheer than a massive throng of frustrated, harried shoppers?) to find me a pair of black flats (yay Christmas presents!), and then my family and I are going to that rich neighborhood with all the Christmas lights that I was telling you about earlier.

I'm also buying some real film for the old camera that my mom is letting me borrow (made in the 70s = true vintage), so maybe there will be some pretty pictures of my Christmas festivities up on the blog soon.

Until then, may your days be merry and bright!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

. . .

"All the things that truly matter,
beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace,
arise from beyond the mind."

— Eckhart Tolle

My Ritzy Christmas Wish List

What if you were walking along one day, minding your own beeswax and leading a simple life, when all the sudden the phone rings and it's your mom telling you that a close relative has suddenly inherited a billion dollars and, being so fond of you, wants to get you a few things for Christmas? 

My friend, will you be ready when that moment comes?

Well, today it occurred to me that I might not be ready for that moment either. I thought, here I am, over two decades old, and I still don't have a good answer for the classic question, "What would you do with a million/billion/gazillion dollars?" 

Then I started feeling really unprepared. I hate feeling unprepared.

So I decided to draft a Christmas list for exactly that kind of occasion. Just in case. You never know what might happen. The world is full of surprises.

My Ritzy Christmas Wish List

Ridiculously nice, expensive car -- maybe with doors that open vertically?

A Canon or Nikon DSLR -- Soooooo pretty!

An iPhone-- with my data plan prepaid
for forever.

A dress by Dior, s'il vous plait!

I think I could enjoy owning a villa in Tuscany.
And maybe a townhouse in Manhattan...
... complete with an elegant library packed with books.

In a good bookroom, you feel in some 
way that you are absorbing the wisdom 
contained in all the books - through 
your skin, without even opening them.
- Mark Twain 

Monday, December 20, 2010

You Know The Holiday Has Arrived When...

1. I went to bed at midnight. It was so early, I had to double check all my clocks to make sure that was the correct time. Because going to bed at midnight is, for me, about as rare as seeing a unicorn-- and definitely just as miraculous.

2. I woke up at 12:45 p.m. Arizona time. Which means it's 1:45 p.m. Oklahoma time. Which means I definitely slept solid until mid-afternoon. Excellent.

3. It's already an hour later, and I haven't gotten any further along in getting ready for the day than putting on clothes (though, in my defense, said clothes are workout clothes, and I'm currently in the process of convincing myself to go on a run. This is difficult business, I can assure you).

4. I ate macaroons and Russel Stover chocolates yesterday like it was nobody's business. See, my sister is a teacher, and a pint-sized pupil's favorite gift over the holiday season is chocolate and candy and some more chocolate. So all those sugary treats are now overflowing her kitchen table, and I've taken it as my personal responsibility to make a sizable dent in that pile before I leave (hence, as previously stated, my need to go for a run).

5. It's time to start figuring out what you got everyone for Christmas. The good thing about buying everyone's Christmas gifts in June is that you don't have to go shopping now, when the mall is hell and their parking lots are a special kind of purgatory. The bad thing is that, being so long ago, I now completely forget what I bought everyone and can't remember who is the one person I still haven't gotten anything for. And I can't check because I thought ahead and stashed all my Christmas gifts in a bottom drawer at my sister's house in Las Vegas (where we're all spending Christmas). Woops. Being a planner has come back to bite me in the butt.

6. Our evening plans consist of driving around one of the wealthy neighborhoods in town that has over-the-top Christmas light displays. So excited! Apparently this particular neighborhood we are going to is so legit that they have horse-drawn buggy rides going through in the evenings. And in warm 65 degree Arizona weather, that sounds absolutely wonderful.

7. Because of the many weeks of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down," Pandora has perfected your Holiday Music playlists so nicely that Mariah Carey doesn't show up your Bing Crosby playlist -- ever. So nice.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

. . .

"Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive, and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. [. . .] Man will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer--because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of achievement." 

-- (Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged)

Graduating w/ Distinction (and Some Street Smarts)

It was with no small measure of pride that I watched Brittany, one of my amazing roommates and a very good friend for the last three and a half years, walk across the stage this morning and receive her college diploma. She is officially a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, and it is incredible to me that she has already reached this point in her life. Where did the time go?

I can still remember so much about freshman year -- sitting in the hallway on edge as we waited for our sorority t-shirts (telling us which sorority we'd be a part of), suffering from unrequited crushes on upperclassmen, Tuesday lunch dates at Couch Express (best bread bowl soup ever), getting all gussied up for girls night dinners in Bricktown, painfully awkward sorority date parties, our trips to the gym at 11 p.m. (we were crazy), freaking out because we had to write a five page paper, the point system we developed to attempt escape from the Freshman Fifteen (10 pts for going to the gym, etc... you needed to earn 20 before you got to get dessert at the caf).

We came into university life all doe-eyed and ambitious, and while I think we leave with a little less naivety and unsupportable idealism, we definitely leave with the same healthy dose of ambition -- grounded in reality and the successes we've all seen over the last four years.

I am so proud of my roommates. Not just Brittany, but all four of them. And when it's time for the rest of us to walk across that stage, I think we'll be ready. Like the commencement speaker at Brittany's ceremony said today, we've been trained well. OU and our lives here have perfectly prepared us for that moment when we shake hands, take pictures, and hold that little square of paper that tells us we are officially ready for the real world. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Open Letter to Anyone Who'll Listen

Ladies and Gentleman,

I am officially done with the last FALL semester of my undergraduate career. Done. Finished. Fini! 

Ginormous CCEW Presentation? Check.
Paperwork for Advanced Production film? Check.
American Independent Film final? Check.
Shakespeare's Comedies and Histories final? Check. 

Check and check mate. Done and done. Swoop! Christmas break, here I come!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today is my roommate Madison's birthday, so, in keeping with tradition, the rest of us roommates surprised her at midnight last night with cake. Well, with brownies. And it was a miracle that she was actually surprised.

It all started when Madison had a final last night from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

I have her car and am supposed to pick her up when she is done. Halfway through said final, however, I remember that I haven't gotten her the cake yet. But before I can go out and get one, Madison calls and said she is finished. Damn. No time left to buy cake.

My roommates and I decide we'll just bake her some homemade brownies, which I thought was a brilliant idea. Until I get halfway to campus and realize that Madison's killer sense of smell is never going to let us get away with that. But it's our only option.

When Madison and I get back home, she miraculously decides to take a shower. As soon as the door is closed, Brittany and I sprint to kitchen and stir up some brownie mix. It goes in the oven pronto, but there is still over thirty minutes of bake time left when I hear the shower water fizzle out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When you just can't convince yourself that these finals are worth it...

"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and a greater strength for our nation." 

Dinner Reminiscing

A great way to not do homework and study for upcoming tests is to think about where I'll be in a week. I will be in Arizona. I am so excited about getting to have an entire week with my mom, my sister, and my brother. I haven't seen them since August, and we always have so much fun just spending time together and catching up.

I was thinking about this today-- One of my favorite parts about being with family members is that dinner is always delightfully full of Remember-When's. Almost every dinner hour is filled with stories and laughter (My poor brother-in-law... he usually is out of the loop on everything) and recounting all the funny things that happened to us as children.

For example, when we were very young and growing up, my mother was quite the health nut. Typical meals consisted of rice, veggies and maybe a little tofu sprinkled in, and there was almost zero sugar to be found around the house. My earliest memories of drinking pop are when the grandparents would come up to Montana to visit and, probably taking pity on us poor children, would bring bottles of Cherry Coke and chocolate milk with them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An Ode to ModCloth

Loving Right Now

1. The opening sequence of Love Actually makes me tear up every time.

2. The New York Times: 14 Actors Acting = Incredible acting. Tilda Swinton, in particular, is stunning.

3. All these amazing movies coming out now (LOVE OSCAR SEASON!):
  • Black Swan  - Already opened in early December
  • 127 Hours - Already opened in November
  • True Grit - Opens 12/22/2010
  • Biutiful - Opens 12/29/2010
  • Blue Valentine - Opens 12/31/2010
I've seen the last two, but the first three (esp. 127 Hours) look uh-mazing!

4. Jason Lee and the amazingly creative/adorable photos he takes of his daughter. More HERE.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Writer Reality Check

I love this blog by Kristen Lamb. So great. It's all about things to expect when you become a writer, including not having anyone take you seriously. It also talked about how important it is to take the word "aspiring" out of your vocabulary (Don't try. Just do.), and that it's okay to spend all your time watching movies and reading books, because it's called research. Brilliant. And inspirational.

However, at the beginning of the blog, she says she is talking to those people who just decide one day to become writers. And my first thought when reading was... Does one really just become a writer? Is that realistic? As if one day you wake up and say, "By Jove, I think I'll write a NY Times best-seller today!"

I don't think it works like that. Sure, you may suddenly feel the heavens align when you don't have the urge to kill anyone after writing that one-page poem in your fifth grade unit on Edgar Allen Poe. You may realize you don't have a complete aversion to creative writing like your friends do. Papers aren't the devil.

But I definitely didn't have that eureka moment when I realized that I wanted to be a writer. I think I just kinda became one. I started blogging in high school for the local paper, and it was a fun way to express myself. And then I kept it up in college because it was a good way to keep my parents in the loop.

Perhaps, though, there is a moment when you think, "What if I did this forever? What if this was my career?"

Now that is a moment. A clearly defined moment. For me, it came as I was sitting in the library last semester, writing a blog about growing up in the country, and I realized that I enjoyed blogging more than anything else I was doing all that semester. I enjoyed it even more than my film classes. And I had a pretty consistent following on my blog, so somebody had to enjoy what I was saying. Maybe that is translatable into longer fiction pieces?

I still don't know if what I have to say is interesting or even if my particular "voice" (or whatever) is transferable to fiction. And I haven't even finished a novel yet (though I'm still trying!). So I can't necessarily just up and quit everything, graduate with a B.A. and move to Greenwich Village to become a self-involved, beatnik writer who meanders through Central Park without shoes, writing poetry for free to the tourists passing through. As much as I'd like to.

I guess I need to get a big-girl job, whatever that will be. And writing will be on the side.

For now.

Finals Week

We're coming into the home stretch. I can almost hear the hallelujah bells now.

However, sitting squarely in my way of home cooking, sunny Arizona, skiing in Montana, and Santa Claus, are two papers and two finals. And zero motivation to really do anything. Perfect.

It's a challenge in self-motivation. Time for inspirational quotes and coffee on an IV drip. Can't wait.

Friday, December 10, 2010

. . .

- Eddie Rickenbacker

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Taking My Health Seriously Again - Midpoint

A week and a half ago, I wrote about taking my health seriously again, and I made a list of all the things I was going to do differently in the next three weeks to feel better about myself.

Let's see how I'm doing now...


Chess Club and Upending the King

Every Wednesday, there is a group of guys who play chess in the library coffee shop (I'm pretty sure they're an official student organization), and I always see them playing when I stop by to kill time and get my caffeine fix between classes. I literally can't see a chess set without feeling the urge to play, and I kept telling myself that one of these days, when I didn't have anything pressing to do, I'd stop and ask them if I could play a game of chess.

Yesterday was that day.

I'd just gotten my coffee, and I looked at the clock on the wall. I had about forty minutes to spare before my last class of the day. Why not finally play that game of chess?

One kid sitting there doesn't have an opponent, so I walk up and ask if I can play. He sizes me up. I can almost hear him laughing inside. The chick thinks she can play chess, huh?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today Was a Good Day

The weather is beautiful, the prospective student I showed around campus actually talked to me, and I successfully caught my sneeze with a tissue. Couldn't ask for more.


Betraying My Inner Nerd


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Open Letter to Walmart Man

Dear Sir,

Normally I think it's a little creepy when random older men talk to me in the grocery store. But you were nice and only needed help finding the Jet Puff stuff. Sorry I couldn't help you out there.

I am so happy that I ran into you again later in my shopping trip. I'm glad you found the Jet Puff.

And THANK YOU for sharing your wife's fudge recipe with me. You didn't have to give it to me, even though you insisted you had more copies of it at home. And, seeing as both you and your wife signed the recipe copy at the bottom, I have a sneaking suspicious you found someone to share that recipe with on purpose. I'm honored you chose me.

Thank you for finding your own small way of spreading holiday cheer.

Happy Shopper

To continue my animal theme...

<a href=";from=sp&amp;vid=30e5b80e-3fdd-43a5-b26a-7ce59e4b1ef3" target="_new" title="Penguins Chase Light">Video: Penguins Chase Light</a>

Monday, December 6, 2010

Penmanship Issues

I hate writing the letter I. The lower case version is okay, I guess (though really boring)--- but that capital I? Atrocious.

How do you make that look pretty?! It's all straight lines and angles. No room for a swoop. And the cursive I just think looks foolish.


Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

It was a productive weekend. Just Valerie and I were at the house, so it was quiet, the house stayed clean (it's way easier to clean up after just two people), and we got a lot of work done. And yet, even though getting a ton of homework and studying done should make me feel really accomplished and all, I actually consider our little try at baking as one of best parts of the weekend. 

We made peanut butter cookies. But not just any peanut butter cookies. These babies are special.

Why, you ask?

Because they are quite possibly the easiest thing to bake on the planet, and I can almost guarantee you have every item in your kitchen cabinet/fridge (except maybe chocolate).

The kicker: It's only FOUR ingredients. Easy as pie. 

The Easiest, Most Delicious Peanut Butter Cookies on the Planet

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
Hershey's kisses (or chocolate chips)

Mix the peanut butter, sugar and egg in a bowl. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. While the cookies are cooling on the sheet, press the kisses in their centers (or melt chocolate chips in separate dish in microwave and then pour in the center of the cookies). 

Viola! Pure deliciousness!

Last cookie on the plate, prior to being devoured by me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Big 12 Championship

OU is in the Big 12 Championship today, and OU's YouTube channel just released the pre-game video (made by students).

Hells yeah.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Waiting Game Begins

Yesterday was my final Teach For America interview. Everyone keeps asking me how it went, and my answer really is, I'm neutral. It wasn't terrible, but I don't feel amazing about it. I guess that's a pretty decent place to be about those sorts of things.

All in all, I'm just glad that that part of the process is over. I'm ready to just sit and wait (until January 18th). Thankfully I'll have Christmas in the middle to distract me. So excited!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For Your Mid-Afternoon Entertainment

I literally laughed until I cried.

From My Brother's FB Status

Just had a cop follow me for at least a few blocks, a couple turns, and through an entire grocery store parking lot. Turned out he just wanted some Panda Express too. I let him order first.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I have thirty minutes until I have to be somewhere. But I just got done watching Magnolia and my head hurts -- both from the movie and natural causes. So instead of tackling my very intimidating, very important list of things that HAVE to get done tonight, I am sitting here blogging and reading blogs. This does nothing to alleviate my stress. But it does feel good to complain a little.

In all seriousness though, has anyone seen Magnolia? That movie takes you for an emotional ride, and it huuuuuuuuuurts. It's so painful. There's zero no comic relief in a three-hour-long saga of various stories that thread in and out. And the central themes are loss, pain, death, loneliness, the devastating effects of emotionally abusive parents, and falling frogs. Yup. Frogs fall from the sky.

I looked it up online, and apparently the falling frogs are a Biblical reference to Exodus. And during a part of the film, there's a TV audience in which someone from that audience is holding a large sign that reads "Exodus 8:2." I looked it up. The verse reads, "And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs."

Goodness. So heavy handed. And really funny. Everyone in my class couldn't help laughing as it rained giant puffy frogs down on the unsuspecting characters running around the San Fernando Valley in pain and despair. The frogs splatting (sight and sound) was rather graphic, but it didn't take away from how completely bizarre it was.

I wish I could be in class tomorrow to discuss the movie. Movies are always better when they can be discussed with other film friends. We overanalyze the same garbage and make the same pompous connections in movies (like the frog thing above). It's quite fun.

Open Letter to Caffeine

Dear Four-Cups-of-Coffee-a-Day Habit,

I have something to tell you, and it probably wont be easy to hear. Do you want to sit down?

Here's the deal. I realize that we have been in an on-again-off-again relationship for about four years now, but after finals week, we're through. For reals this time.

I'm sorry, but you just aren't good for me. You make me nervous and uncomfortable. I can focus with you, but then I'm so high strung that once you've left for the day, I crash into a tired, weeping mess. I really do weep a lot-- especially lately-- and I blame this on you.

So to save my heart, I have to let you go.

Jittery Emotional Student

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Optimist Creed

Promise yourself…. 

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind;

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet;

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them;

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true;

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best;

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own;

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future;

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile;

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others;

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear; and too happy to permit the presence of trouble;

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds;

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

By Christian D. Larsen

Monday, November 29, 2010

In My Inspiration Box

When I made my day planner in August (or my Daily Action Plan, as I like to call it-- sounds best with a snobby British accent), I included a small box, tucked away between my boxes for Applications and Two Minute Tasks, called Inspiration.

I thought, "Oh hey! I'll include this little box and fill it will awesome sayings and drawings. It'll be great!"

But the sad thing is, I'm usually too busy to write anything in that box. I mean, the actual writing part doesn't ever get done. I read lots of quotes online whenever I need inspiration, but none of them make it into my actual action plan. Which is a shame. I think that little box gets pretty lonely.

Except today. Today I flipped the page to Monday, and lo and behold! Something was sitting there in my tiny inspiration box, just waiting to inspire someone.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Open Letter to the Universe

Dear World,

While I'm not entirely positive-- and more conclusive evidence/experience is needed-- I'm pretty sure the absolute best thing that ever happened to you is the Christmas season. I am convinced.

Laid out below are my most unbiased, objective reasons for this claim.

- Drinking steaming hot chocolate with a giant mound of mini marshmallows while cuddled up by a fire (real or the TV yule log kind) on a lazy evening.

- Driving around and admiring twinkling Christmas lights -- especially white icicle lights. They're my weakness.

- Snowflakes, snow piles, snowboarding, snow angels (especially while hot tubbing)

- "Last Christmas" -- especially the Wham! version. YouTube it. You wont be sorry.

- Watching Elf and then quoting it for the rest of December. "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?"

- Reading the "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" editorial. It's so elegant and inspiring.

- Singing "Baby It's Cold Outside" in the most seductive voice possible, then debating the song's creepyness vs. awesomeness with friends.

- Listening to Christmas carols while studying. Josh Groban's velvety voice will soothe your stress away.

- Tacky Christmas sweaters. My favorite is when people wear them to be ironic, but you know they just really love that thick wool knit.

- My bright red sleigh bell earrings with green bows. You better bet I'm going to wear them to class. And jingle all the way.

After such strong evidence has been laid before you, I trust that you will agree with me on this claim of Christmas's superior position within the existence of humanity.

And to thank you for this delightful bright spot in the middle of such dark, dreary months, I would present you with a commemorative gift, if I could. As it is, I can only offer you a hearty imaginary handshake to show my appreciation to you for allowing this wonderful season to continue on forever. Which, I trust, always will (*hearty handshake turns into intimidating squeeeeeze*).

Please don't ever let Christmas disappear, no matter how much some Scrooges like to complain that Christmas is over-commercialized. Don't listen to them. They have a glass half-empty attitude, and their parents probably didn't let them believe in Santa Clause. They're still bitter.

Discerning Holiday Connoisseur

On the Road Again

While the break has been relaxing and it has been wonderful to see my relatives again, I'm ready to go home. I'm turning into quite the little homebody, I think.

When I was a freshman, Montana was my home and Oklahoma-- the dorms, OU, Norman-- was just a temporary place to live, meet people, and keep my stuff. But the opposite is true now. Living with some of the best friends I've ever had, it's the only place I don't feel restless, really belong, and have my own bed.

The scary part is that I only get to keep this for a year. It's almost too sad to think about. Because while I am really excited about all the adventures to come after graduation, it's unnerving to see my comfortable little world be replaced with unsettling newness. I'm going to miss this.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Writing a Novel: Day 12

Status: Trudging Along
Word Count: 10,061

My pace has slowed down. Having the holiday break has been nice and I've been able to write a lot, but I'm starting to lose focus with my story. It's meandering and the conversations between my characters are putting me to sleep. Seriously. I fell asleep typing last night.

And there are only so many ways for one character to express her annoyance at the other handsome, pompous character. She's exasperated, irriatated, irked and annoyed. Repeat.


I think I am going to take a little time and do a few character sketches so I can really map out who my characters are, where they come from, etc, so I can get a better feel for their personalities and motivations. Right now, they too closely resemble the originial book (I'm writing a modern adaptation). Except that they aren't as cool as the characters in the original book. They're booooring.

The reason I didn't do this earlier is because I was on a deadline. A time crunch. There was no time.

But now I can, because I have a confession to make. I've decided to not stress about finishing my novel by November 30th. Because, as I'm sure you've noticed, there are only four days left until then. Four days and forty thousand words to go. That would equal writing exactly 10,000 words A DAY starting tomorrow.

Which actually really sounds like it'd be fun-- if I didn't have other things to do (that have non-negitiable deadlines and very real consequences for not doing them). So all these very real, very pressing deadlines mean that I can't possibly push them aside for even one day. Real life doesn't stop for creative kinds of things, no matter how much I wish it would.

But don't worry. This definitely does NOT mean that I'm giving up on my novel. I'm plugging away. The new plan is to finish the novel by Christmas. That gives me four weeks. I think I can manage 10,000 words a week.

On the bright side, I have officially written more words on this story than I've ever written on any story before. And I'm exactly one-fifth of the way done! Woo-hoo! I can see the end in sight!

My Thankful List

Disclaimer: This post is uncharacteristically sappy. Reading not recommended after a hearty meal of turkey leftovers. The sentimental/tryptophan combo could be lethal.

The other day, I was cleaning up a pile of papers, and I found one of the many running lists I'd made while on shift at work last year. It was a list counting my blessings (perfect timing, with Thanksgiving right around the corner). For those of you who weren't around for that part of my life, I used to be a cocktail waitress at a bar. It was the worst (though best paying) job I've ever had.

When people ask me why I quit, my standard response is that the job sucked my soul. I kinda think it's funny to say it that way, but I guess it's too dramatic for most people because I usually just get a blank stare from them. Anyway, while that reason is obviously an exaggeration, it wasn't too far off at times.

The job constantly dragged me down. I was working in an environment where, in order to make money, I had to pander to/smile at/flirt with people who looked at me like I was less than them (just because I was a waitress). I wasn't used to people treating me that way, and sometimes it was downright humiliating. To this day, I'm amazed I stuck it out for so long. If it hadn't been for my strengthening friendship with good ol' Lincoln, Jackson, and Franklin, I'd have quit the day after football season ended.

One day when the job was particularly bad, I flipped over one of the waitressing notepads in my apron and on the back I started a running list of all the things in my life that I was grateful for. The list started small, but by the end of the night, I had over a hundred tiny bulleted points. What started as a 'Hail Mary' ended up being critical to maintaing my sanity that night. Just taking the time to acknowledge my blessings did wonders to my "poor me" attitude and grumpy spirit. Because truly, I have a lot to be thankful for.

The landscape of my life has changed considerably since the time when I wrote that note a year ago. Aside from still being a college student and having the same core group of wonderful friends, so much of what is around me has shifted. I have a niece. My family looks different. I am hunting for post-college opportunities and preparing for living in the real world. I have been single for the longest stretch I can remember since I started dating way back in high school, and I'm loving it. I don't have to work at a bar anymore, and instead I get to reclaim my Friday nights for friends and my Saturday mornings for painting. I'm looking at pursuing other careers besides film (though loving films will always ben ingrained in me -- and if someone asked me to produce their film, I wouldn't say no).

So that is the first thing on my Thankful List this year. I am thankful that my life is in a good place right now.

In no particular order, I am grateful for:

1. My neice Isabella and the fact that, while I may be light years away from being ready to have my own kids, someone else is not. And that particular someone (my gorgeous sister) was kind enough to grace the world with something as precious as that little bubble of light.

2. The opportunity to live in a nice house (within walking distance to campus) with my closest friends -- whom I have gotten to know so much better and have appreciated so much more over the course of this semester.

3. The chance to stretch myself by working on a business team that's creating a software company. While this isn't a project that I would normally have pursued otherwise, I've really enjoyed learning what it means to belong to a start-up company. Also, I have a fun team, which one should always have if one can help it.

4. The existence of Saturday mornings, which I can fill with painting and not feel guitly about it. And I'm grateful that my roommates actually let me put my paintings up on the wall. That's cool too.

5. Having a clear enough schedule this November to try my hand at writing a novel (and having people who support my creative whims -- where would I be without you?).

6. The growing readership on my blog and the fact that I'm not just writing for my immediate family anymore (though I'll always love you).

7. And last but not least, I'm grateful for the opportunity to write and share my Thankful List (which is considerably more fun than a New Years Resolutions list -- much more positive and far less critical).

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

. . .

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." 

~Melody Beattie

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Break has begun!

I hope everyone has a wonderful break and gets to eat all the pumpkin pie their hearts desire.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Writing a Novel: Day 8

Status: Elated
Word Count: 6388


*insert happy dance here*

After literally calling every place I'd been on Sunday (that poor woman at Barnes and Noble sounded really concerned for my well-being when I thanked her, in a super depressing voice, for checking the Lost & Found for me), and after taking every single gum wrapper and wad of paper out of both Valerie's and my backpack in search of the flash drive, I still couldn't find it. It was nowhere to be found.

I'd basically given it up as lost, and defeated, I couldn't pull myself to do any more writing. I'd just lost so many words (and such good ideas) that it felt like it didn't matter how much I wrote anymore.

Then, I was packing my backpack for the day, and I picked up a pencil to put in my backpack. I have those little circular pockets in my backpack just for pens and pencils, but I couldn't put the pencil anywhere because they were all full. And that's when I saw it! The flash drive had been shoved into one of those tiny little pockets!

I'm so glad I found it. Now I can start writing again. But before I do, I am going to save that stinkin' story in a couple hundred different places all over my computer. I'll never risk losing it again.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

So I, like the rest of Norman, saw the new Harry Potter movie this weekend. It was impressive. Intense. And very very dark. I feel like I can count the funny/lighthearted moments in that movie on one hand. Overall, I thought they did a pretty good job.

Though, with all the intense, spine tingling, and heartbreaking moments, there's really just one scene that sticks out to me for some reason. I can't forget about it. My mind keeps replaying it over and over in mental anguish.

It was at the wedding.... when Harry and Ginny kissed.

First of all, where's your bra, girl?

And second, that's no kiss for two people in love. Those two have absolutely zero chemistry (as evidenced by the painfully awkward kiss). Squirming moment commence.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Writing a Novel: Day 7

Status: Petrified.
Word Count: Currently unknown.

I wrote a bunch of words today. A bunch. I was close to 5,000 words. But now I can't find the updated version of my story. I can't find it anywhere.

When I was writing today, I wasn't near a power source. So when my computer was about to die, I put my story on Valerie's flash drive and transfered my story over to her computer, where I resumed working for another hour or so.

But now I can't find her flash drive. It's not in my backpack. I literally took out all contents of my bag to look for that little silver thing. And it's not in her backpack either. The only place left that it might be is in Val's other purse at home.

I'm scared that I might have lost almost an entire day's work (not to mention all of Val's files). Five thousand words = ten percent. I was ten percent of the way done (and yes, I know that's not nearly far enough). But ten percent is a hell of a lot closer than only four percent -- which is what I'm back to, if I can't find those pages.

And worse than the numbers is the fact that I really liked what I'd written today. And it might be gooooooooooone. *sniff

Teaching for America, by Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman has to be one of my favorite writers of all time. His opinion articles for the New York Times are always insightful and dead-on.

And this article is no different.

In it, he talks about how everyone agrees that there is something wrong with our education system. But he offers at least one potential solution, which has been proposed by the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

We need to raise the importance and prestige of teachers in the United States, in order to recruit the best and brightest for the position.
Duncan’s view is that challenging teachers to rise to new levels — by using student achievement data in calculating salaries, by increasing competition through innovation and charters — is not anti-teacher. It’s taking the profession much more seriously and elevating it to where it should be.

Even here at OU, it feels like people look down on those in the School of Education. It (wrongly) has the reputation of being an easy major, for those just looking to get an MRS degree.

What is wrong with this picture?!

Educating our youth should not be seen as an easy job. Not everyone can teach. It takes skill, patience, and endurance. Don't ever let anyone tell you that teaching is anything but difficult. This summer I worked with people who came back every night from teaching, exhausted and scared that they weren't making enough of a difference in their kids' education. Teaching challenges even the smartest people, and our society should reward it as such.

I can't wait for the day when public schools only accept those from the top one-third of a graduating class. Or for when people stop believing things like, "Well, teachers get the summer off, so we shouldn't really pay them much." Or even just for the day when I don't get doubtful expressions when I tell people that I want to teach. By wanting to become a teacher, I will not be settling. I will be making a difference.

Friday, November 19, 2010

. . .

Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, "This is the real me", and when you have found that attitude, follow it.

- James Truslow Adams

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writing a Novel: Day 3

Status: Enthusiastic and loving it.
Word Count: 1048

I'm definitely not as far along as I'd like to be with my word count, but other than that, I'm loving this whole writing a novel business. I forgot how much I absolutely love writing fiction. I enjoy blogging and all, but that's just telling you what's already on my mind. But with fiction, there's a rush, an almost heady feeling, when I hit on a good idea. When a plot point works, the dialogue snaps, and the characters and their motivations start making sense, life is good. There's no better feeling.

That being said, on practical terms, I really do wish I was further along in my word count.

Yes, I do realize that I only have twelve days left. And yes, I kinda think I'm delusional too. But I'm having so much fun!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things I Learned From Pioneer Woman

Today was a good day. It was a good day for many reasons, but mostly today was good because I got to hear Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, speak. For those of you who are new to my blog, I'll let you know now that I may have a sorta huge girl crush on this woman. She is an amazing writer, photographer and cook, and all I want to do right now is copy her blogging empire and make it my own. I admire her so much. And now that I've met her, I'll tell you that my opinion of her hasn't changed in the slightest. She's just as funny and quirky in real life as she is online.

You know, sometimes I'll go listen to speakers and while their speech topics make me think they'll be super inspiring, they just fall short. Happens all the time, it seems. And I definitely left plenty of space for Pioneer Woman to fall short in my mind, since I'd put her up so high. But she didn't disappoint. I loved every moment of her talk. I learned so much and I left feeling so inspired.

Below are the things, practical and abstract, that I learned from Ree today:

1. I need a new hosting site, so that the platform and designs I use better reflect who I am as a writer. Did you know that Pioneer Woman also started out on Blogger? Yup! But then she decided that the templates available were too limiting and she couldn't get the look she wanted, so she branched out. And the more I've thought about it, the more I think she's right. I'm getting really tired of my current template, and it's time for a change. I'm going to start looking around for other hosting sites and a different look.

2. I need to get my own domain name. Pioneer Woman, like me, started out using Blogger as her hosting site. And she, like me, had that ending, which is lengthy and looks uncool. So she put up the dough and got a domain name and server space. I think that's my next step. Hosting doesn't cost more than $4 a month, so why not?

The only problem so far on that one is that I don't have a really good name for my blog yet. To be honest, I've started to hate the name VirginiaFilms. Well, hate is too strong a word. But that title tells you nothing about me, except that my name is Virginia. I don't even talk about films very often, so that's a misnomer there. I just wish I was better at titles. I need help. Any suggestions?

3. Not only is Ree Drummond writing a book -- putting her Black Heels to Tractor Wheels story to paper -- but Columbia Pictures has optioned the screenplay. Seriously can't wait.

4. Photographs make a blog so much better. People are highly visual nowadays, and they need pictures.

5. When she started blogging, it was only to keep her mom (who lived in another state) up-to-date on her growing family, etc. But she found she actually really enjoyed writing, and it developed from there.

6. When Q & A time came, I asked her how she was able to be so honest about her personal life -- her romance, her parents, etc-- when she knew that the people she was talking about would be reading her posts. And her answer was perfect. She said that she made sure that she never said anything to hurt someone intentionally. She was never critical or mean. The only person she makes fun of on her blog is herself. She said that she could sense when her stories, like that of her parent's divorce, had moved out of her realm and into being their story to tell (and she'd left it that way).

Then she gave me some of the best writing advice I've ever received. She told me that you can't start out with a box, labeling and defining everything you will and will not write about. Blogs shouldn't work that way. Start with writing about what you love. Be honest. And if you feel you are overstepping a boundary, you probably are. Then just retrace and start again.

7. Before starting her blog, Ree Drummond didn't know anything about photography. Anything. She is a self-taught photographer, and I think that's amazing. And very heartening. If she can learn, then so can I. At least, that's what she kept saying. Throughout the entire talk, she kept stressing that she was just a normal person who took something she loved and stuck with it. 

I left the talk full of ideas and feeling empowered. First step = get a new name. Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Turkey, stuffing, and as much pumpkin pie as I can stuff in my face = only nine days away!

2. Everything Glee -- but especially this part.

3. The fact that Pioneer Woman will be here tomorrow. And I'll finally get to meet her. Is it weird that I'm a little anxious about that?

4. “The Author's Prayer:

Our Father, which art in Heaven,
And has also written a book...
- Anon
5. Of those who applied, every single one of the people whom I had the wonderful pleasure of working with in Philadelphia this summer were accepted into the Teach For America corps last week. They'll be going all over the place, including Charlotte (North Carolina), New Orleans, and Baltimore. And with my application, I found out that I've been invited to the final interview (and get to skip the phone interview step). So excited!

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