Tuesday, August 31, 2010

. . .

"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”

-Marcel Pagnol (French novelist, playwright, filmmaker)


Monday, August 30, 2010

Open Letter to Rude Boy

Dear Boy on Cell Phone Hovering Over My Office Desk,

I am working. You are not. Standing over my desk while I am in the process of helping you is fine, but standing over my desk and answering your cell phone while I'm trying to help you is not.

When you are in a line or in an office and someone else is helping you, that is not the time to take a personal call. And if you must, please remove yourself from the room. No one needs to hear your daily agenda or how busy you are today or whatnot. That's your business.

Recap: Answering your cell phone mid-conversation with an official person (or even a peer) is rude. Please stop.

Working Student Assistant

Open Letter to My Readers,

Dear Readers,

So... a long, long, long time ago, I participated in this pageant. Or rather, I participated in this scholarship program for young women. It was awesome, as I loved being on stage at the time-- who doesn't love parading around on stage in a beautiful dress?! (There was no swimsuit element in this pageant, thankfully.)

Well, crazily, I won that competition, and became Montana's Jr. Miss 2007. And so began a short, but incredibly fun time during which I was a "title holder." Basically all I did with this pseudo-celebrity status was start a chess program at my local Boys and Girls Club during the year, and then the summer after, I went down to Mobile, Alabama to compete in Nationals.

But even though it was a short-lived adventure in which I didn't really maximize on all the opportunities I was being given, it was still an AMAZING experience. The program, America's Jr. Miss (now called Distinguished Young Women), did everything in their power to make every one of us 51 ladies (50 states + D.C.) feel beautiful, intelligent and welcome during Nationals.

The mission of the program was, and still is, to promote self-confidence in women by encouraging them to become the best they can be. They do this by providing college scholarships and creating a program in which we were able to shine as leaders (through public speaking opportunities and the chance to be role models for younger women).

From their website:
Our Mission

Distinguished Young Women is a national scholarship program that inspires high school girls to develop their full, individual potential through a fun, transformative experience that culminates in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments.

  • By encouraging continued education and providing college scholarships
  • By developing self-confidence and the abilities to interview effectively, to speak in public, to perform on stage and to build interpersonal relationships
  • By encouraging and showcasing excellence in academic achievement, physical fitness, on-stage performance skills, and the ability to think and communicate clearly
  • By creating opportunities to beneficially inspire the lives of others
While I no longer participate in pageants, I am eternally grateful for all that I was given through this program. I met a huge number of amazing, loving people, many of whom I am still in contact with over three years later. My self-confidence increased by leaps and bounds by having the chance to start programs (like my chess program), give Be Your Best Self talks, and be a role model to the younger women around me (both in the program and outside it).

Anyway... why am I going into all this, you ask? Well, for starters, I've had a unusually large number of conversations about pageants lately. Somehow it came out in Philadelphia that I was in pageants in high school, and naturally, lots of the girls wanted to know what that was like, etc. There was a lot of criticism towards pageants (not surprisingly), and while I did my best to defend them, I'm not very good at verbal debates. Give me a pen, and I'll argue away, but I lose my train of thought too easily when I'm talking.

Anyway, look for a post in the next day or so about pageants (their pros and cons). I don't have time to finish that post today.

But... moving on to the most important reason for why I am writing to you about pageants....

The Distinguished Young Women program is nothing like the pageants you've heard or read about. They require a high GPA and test scores. They look at your high school transcript and extracurricular activities/volunteer hours, etc. There is an interview, onstage question, evening wear, and talent portion, but there is NO swimsuit competition. Instead, we do this little dance/aerobic routine on stage (the goal is to show that each woman has embraced a healthy lifestyle, etc).

It is a program in which young women's interests come first. And they have, more than once, turned down the chance to integrate a swimsuit competition into the competition --even though it would increase their ratings, they refuse to allow this element into their program. For that reason, and many others, I have a lot of appreciation and respect for the Distinguished Young Women organization.

And now to why I am writing this...

The national headquarters for Distinguished Young Women is in Mobile, Alabama-- an area hit hard by the BP oil spill in April. Traditionally, the program has received significant local support, relying heavily on in-kind donations to successfully host their national competition-- which in turn enables them to give out over $100,000 in college scholarships (and make over $80 million in scholarships available to all the local & state competitors). Unfortunately, because of the environmental disaster, local charitable contributions will be significantly down this year.

However, there is a chance for the program to receive this much needed funding, in the form of a Pepsi Refresh grant. The Pepsi Refresh Project is hosting a competition to award $1.3 million dollars to projects that will refresh communities in the Gulf region -- not just environmentally, but also economically and culturally. There are four different categories (ten $5K awards, ten $25K awards, ten $50K awards, and two $250K awards), and the Distinguished Young Women program is currently in the running to receive one of the $250,000 awards.

The problem is, only the top two ideas will receive funding, and we are currently in FOURTH! So close!

This is where I need your help!

It is YOUR votes that will make the difference. Those who already know and love the program have been voting diligently, every day, for the last month. But there are only two days left and we aren't there yet.

We need you, the reader who hasn't heard about this amazing program and this amazing Refresh grant, to vote. It is YOUR votes that will make the difference here.

Please take five minutes out of your day today and tomorrow to log in and VOTE (using every email account you have -- I have five votes every day because I have five email accounts).

Also, if you are like my mom and don't like to give away your email or personal information, don't worry. Just be sure to uncheck the boxes at the bottom (that ask if you'd like to receive things in the mail, etc), and you'll never hear from Pepsi. I promise. I've been voting for the last month and I've never gotten anything from them (on any of my accounts).

So go to... http://gulf.refresheverything.com/distinguishedyw ... and please, please, please vote!

I will love you forever.

A Former Jr. Miss

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open Letter to TED

Dear TED Talks,
Thank you for being a constant source of inspiration to me. Whenever I feel I need validation for choosing a career focused on creativity (or whenever I need to remind myself why I do this), I look to you for help. And you never fail me.

I shall now share you with my blog-- all the time.

A Dreamer

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Reader,
Expect more TED. You can thank me later.

-- Me

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So Cool!

I always knew elephants were my favorite animal... The love has now been solidified.

(It's a little long, so you can let it download entirely before watching, and then scroll through the video quickly in "fast-forward" if you want. It's still amazing either way. Also, right around 6:15 is particularly awesome.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Excited about CCEW

To let y'all in on all the fun things I will be doing this semester...

The first thing that I am really excited about (after being President of the Student Film Production Club) is my business internship for this fall. It's with the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth (CCEW), and basically my team and I will be designing and building an entire software business (and bring a product to launch hopefully), all in the course of one semester. Crazy!

There are ten people on my team (the biggest of the three teams by far -- the rest have 5 people), and the breakdown is five business interns, four computer programmers, and one visual communications intern.

Our first task is to decide on what business we want to build in the first place, as we have a completely blank slate. We don't have any guidelines to follow-- no problem to solve or challenge to address, or anything like that. It's all up to us.

Which sounds like fun (and it is!), but it's also crazy intimidating. So far, it has been really difficult to pick an idea. We have tons of good ideas, four or five great ideas, and three awesome ideas that are obvious front-runners. Now we just have to pick one and run with it. I just wish it was as easy as it sounds.


I need a desk. The dining room table just isn't the same thing. Besides, without a desk, where am I supposed to keep my extensive pen and stationary collection? Such a dilemma.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School!

I feel like I'm in elementary school again. I was so excited about starting classes today that I had a hard time falling asleep last night. I also picked out my outfit for today before I went to bed, though I didn't go so far as laying it out (mostly because there is zero clear space in my room right now, since I haven't unpacked anything yet).

There's just something exciting about the first day of classes. I get a mini adrenaline rush when I wake up in the morning, and there's an extra bounce in my step as I walk across campus. Everything about the atmosphere here screams, "Today's the first day!!! Woohoo!!!"

At least, that's the way my atmosphere on campus feels. I pity the student who doesn't get excited on a day like today. It'll be a long semester for you, my friend.

Open Letter to My New Lunchbox

Dear Awesome-est, Snazziest, Most Effective Lunchbox Ever,
Thank you for keeping my sandwich and apple sauce cool all morning. Because you work so well (and look so pretty), I will be using you all semester to carry my lunch around.

You will save me money and make my life easier. I love you.

Grateful & No-Longer-Hungry Student

Sunday, August 22, 2010

. . .

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, August 21, 2010

. . .

"I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of."

-Michel de Montaigne

I took this quote from a friend's Facebook page because everything about it perfectly sums up my life in the past year and how I feel going into this next year of school.

I'm about to start my last year of college. I repeat. I'm about to start my last year of college. Maybe the more I say it, the more real it will feel for me. I am almost done with my undergraduate degree... then what?

I am about to enter a world where I don't have to go to school anymore if I don't want to. Where I get to/have to make all the decisions in my life, and the choices I make actually matter. What I say and where I go and what I do are important now on an entirely different scale of important, because I'm about to begin the task of building the rest of my life.

GAAAAAAAH!!! *At this point, panicked college senior grabs for paper bag.*

So back to that quote...

I know what I don't want out of life. I know the career paths and lifestyles that would make me unhappy and feel unfulfilled. But what about the rest? How am I supposed to work toward something if I don't always know what that something is?

At the very least, I hope this final year of undergrad brings me even a little closer to that elusive moment of perfect clarity. Until then, I shall run like the dickens away from any conversation that begins with, "So what are your plans next year?"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Current Happenings

Since getting into town on Wednesday night, things have been busy. I have lots to do in the next few days before school starts. Just hope I can get it all done!

So far my time at home has consisted of:
-- an "early morning" run around 10 a.m., during which I decided to jog over to the football stadium and run up and down the stairs. Until I got there and 1) was too tired and 2) couldn't get in because of football practice. So I stood at one of the gates and admired those boys running around in tight pants for a bit. I scooted before anyone caught me ogling though -- I'm not sure they'd believe me if I said I was just checking out their cute butts. Those security guards take spying very seriously around here.

-- a two-hour long meeting with the faculty advisor and Vice President of the Student Film Production Club (SFPC). I am really excited (and nervous) about being President this year, and so maybe I went a little overboard with our agenda. It was super long and really thorough. But at least this way, we have now hashed out all our ideas for the upcoming year and we're ready to start. Can't wait!

-- biking everywhere. Dios mio, was it hot yesterday! I don't have a car and so my means of transportation to campus is my beautiful little red Shwinn (much like the green Schwinn pictured here, except, well, mine's red). This means no air conditioning. Lots of sweating. Sticky grossness as I enter buildings and hurriedly try to look presentable.

-- "unpacking" my room. I use this term loosely. So far, some things are out of boxes, but nothing has a home. The problem is that I am missing key furniture items (such as a desk and dresser), so I have nowhere to put anything even if I were to unpack it all. This needs to be solved. Dear Universe, please have a beautiful desk and dresser arrive on my doorstep in the next few days. Preferably for free. Thanks a million!

-- a massive grocery shopping trip to Walmart. Starting a new kitchen is expensive. Those basic items that are "always" in the refrigerator or pantry, like mustard, basil, and tuna fish, actually need to be purchased at some point. Weird, I know. So that's what I did last night... I bought most of my basics. Like my roommate MBlock said, "Life without food is no life at all." Or something like that. (Side note: In order to protect the innocent -- or unknowingly-on-my-blog-- I think I'm gonna changed the names of my lovely housemates to MBlock, BStidd, TSlapp, and VMill. We'll see how long this resolution lasts.)

My To Do List (before classes start):
(1.) Purchase books online. Hooray for Amazon, and double hooray for taking a Shakespeare class -- the books are fun and cheap.

(2.) Finish unpacking/setting up room. Try not to obsess over the decorating.

(3.) Put some of my old books online so other people can buy them. Yay money!

(4.) CCEW Boot Camp (training for my business internship this fall).

(5.) Stand at a few involvement fair booths for SFPC, pass out mints, and convince people that our club is the answer to their prayers.

(6.) Buy soccer socks. I foolishly agreed to be a part of a community rec soccer team this fall. While I made it abundantly clear to my team captain that I have almost zero knowledge of the rules of soccer (not an exaggeration) and my feet are remarkably uncoordinated when it comes to kicking things, he didn't seem to think that was an issue. Maybe he thinks I'm just being modest. I'm not. But I'm playing anyway. Should be fun.

(7.) See Inception, which I meant to see when I was in Tucson. Woops. Because while most people just saw this movie for fun, I HAVE to see this movie. Everyone in my classes will be talking about it during the first week of school, and I wouldn't be surprised if a teacher started lecturing on it. So this is a necessity. I know, it's a hard life.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog!

After a full day of traveling yesterday, I am finally back in the land of Sooner football, fireflies, and Sonic. It feels good to be home.

Now... to unpack that room...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

. . .

"Fifty years from now, when you're looking back at your life, don't you
want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?"

- Sam Witwicky

Is this giving me permission to get in the car with strangers? Because I'm not sure how my mama would feel about that one.

. . .

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

- Jack London

Things I'm Loving Right Now

My friend always posts blogs of the things she is loving right now, and I LOVE that idea. So here's to copying (the highest form of flattery, right?). Cheers!

Things I'm Loving Right Now:


First of all, this arrangement is amazing. And this kid's voice -- so much better than Bieber. Second, please check out the surprise and admiration on the faces of the girls behind him. So funny. Like I've mentioned before, a woman loves a man who can sing. This kid just went from nerd to super cool in seconds. Love it.

2. I'll be back home in good ol' Norman
in two days. Can't wait to see my girls!!!

3. "The heights by great men reached
and kept were not obtained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
were toiling upward in the night."
- Thomas S. Monson

4. I think I've eaten an entire half bag of these delicious morsels tonight. Mmmm mmmm good!

5. Jason Mraz -- "I'm Yours" ----> I can't embed the video, but the link is below. It makes me want to travel again.


"Man cannot discover new oceans
unless he has the courage
to lose sight of the shore."
- André Gide

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Be a Lady

Today, after being called into my sister's home office to admire her new computer desk arrangement, I started browsing her bookshelf-- and I found the best book e.v.e.r. tucked away among the classics. It is titled, How to Be a Lady.

Now, normally I am very wary of these types of books. I've had a scarring experience with them. In high school, I was part of a mother-daughter book club that read some silly, completely backward book on how to be a lady. It was titled something about beautiful girlhood or ladyship or whatnot.

Anyway, all I remember about the book was that it was full of harmful, totally nonsense advice that came straight from the Victorian Era. For example, they said that a lady should never be alone with a man until she is eighteen and that a woman should always follow the advice of her father (and when she is married, the advice of her husband) because men are the head of the household. A lot of the author's ideas really irritated me, but it was easy to brush those notions away as old-fashioned.

It was the comments about how a woman should carry herself that really interested me. I wanted to learn how to present myself as a lady to other people, so I avidly read the self-improvement sections. I soaked that part up, until one day, I read that a true lady has a soft voice and tinkling laugh.

Well, let me tell you... I've never had a tinkling laugh. Never have, never will. I'd liken it more to a cackle or donkey bray before I'd liken it to a little bell. See, my laugh is really loud. I just don't see the point in being quiet about it. If you're gonna laugh, it should be a big belly laugh. And anyway, laughing is good for your health.

I've come to accept my way-too-loud,-super-embarrassing/annoying-to-my-friends-during-movies laugh. For better or worse (or fewer movie dates), it's a part of who I am. But in high school, I was really self-conscious about everything. So I would get so embarrassed when people mentioned how loud I was or told me to be quieter. Once, before going on a first date, my mom tried to tactfully tell me to not laugh very much during the movie. I think her exact words were, "You don't want to embarrass him, do you?" I was, of course, immune to the reproofs of my siblings because they were always "shush"-ing me, but criticism from my mother was rare indeed. Words to be heeded.

So to top off a month in which my laugh had progressively increased in decibels (or I had received an usually high number of admonishments), I read that passage in Beautiful Girlhood stating that a true lady never raised her voice or drew unwanted attention toward herself. Horrified that my laugh was making me less of a lady, I instantly resolved to be a quiet person. What followed was a sad time in which I laughed little and tried to speak in a whispering voice (which just meant people had to continuously ask me to repeat myself because I was barely audible). I decided after that that I wasn't interested in being a lady. And I went back to talking too loudly.

Naturally, after reading a book like that and going through such a scarring experience, any book telling me how to be a lady was immediately returned to the shelf for the rest of high school and most of college. Sorry, but I'm not interested in someone telling me about their particular brand of lady. I can be who I want to be, and as long as I'm polite and remember which fork to use at fancy dinners, I figure I'll do just fine.

But today, something drew me to open that book. And I was most definitely rewarded. It's great. So much fun. And full of practical advice, to boot. I've included the best ones here for your enjoyment...

A lady knows that false congeniality is
as obvious as bad false eyelashes.

A lady does not just order a salad at a
restaurant when she is on a date if she
really wants a hamburger. She realizes
the men who would not want her
because she has an appetite are not
worth the trouble.

If a lady doesn't see well, she wears her
glasses or her contact lenses. She doesn't
let vanity stand in her way of seeing all
life has to offer-- including traffic signals
and turn signals on the road.

A lady knows that she is at her best
when she is in good health. And for that
reason, she doesn't ignore her health.

A lady knows whether she has the
figure to wear tight clothing. She knows
that just because an item of clothing
comes in her size does not mean she
should wear it.

A lady does not feel the urge to wear
eight rings on one hand.

A lady does not crunch her ice.

A lady does not raise her voice when
angry. It is only proper to shout at
someone when he or she is in danger or
about to score a touchdown.

A lady makes it a point to know
the names of the teams playing in the
Super Bowl.

When a guest behaves less than
mannerly, a lady endures the actions of
her guest, but she remembers those
actions the next time she makes out her
guest list.

In the event a lady attends a party at
which someone is wearing a dress
identical to hers, she simply smiles and
compliments the other lady on her
excellent choice in clothing.

A lady realizes that the office
refrigerator is not the place to conduct
scientific experiments. She remembers to
dispose of her leftovers before they
begin to smell.

A lady is careful how she acts at the
yearly office party.

*All from:
How to Be a Lady
by Candace Simpson-Giles

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Top Moments in Philadelphia (Part 3)

CONTINUED FROM FRIDAY... The final installment of all that I loved about Philadelphia. I'm going to miss that place and the wonderful people I met.

Exploring Philadelphia
My first time out in Philly alone (on my first real weekend), I took an audio walking-tour of the most historic square mile in the United States. With GPS Gina as my "guide," I traversed that mile in my snazzy new sunglasses (which replaced the ones that went flying off my head on the Golden Gate Bridge) and some sturdy tennis shoes. Such a fun excursion!

Independence Hall

The Second National Bank

Military Museum

Christ Church Cemetery - the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin
and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence.

On the second weekend of institute, the girls in a room down the hall decided to move their four mattresses into their living room, on the floor, and connect them in one giant bed -- lovingly termed MegaBed. Only something like that could come out of such a fun/crazy room as 401N. Love those girls.

MegaBed became a thing of normal conversation and "Mega" became a standard prefix for everything ("mega-fun" was a favorite). Also, MegaBed became known to other staff members at institute, including our bosses and our bosses boss. Even a few corps members knew of MegaBed. So funny.

Sadly, I only got to experience MegaBed on the very last night we were at institute, because previously I had considered waking up in my own bed as an issue of utmost importance. But now, with the opportunity to snuggle and chat into the wee hours of the night with the 401 Family far behind me, I wish I'd joined them every night.

The invitation posted in the hall for all to be
a part of MegaBed on the last night of institute...
it didn't pan out in the end, but no matter. 401N was
still a happenin' place! =)

Waking Up to Happy Messages in our Hallway
The one advantage of living where you are working is that once and a while, our managers liked to show their appreciation for us in the form of happy messages on our door or large banners across the hallway. It was the best way to start a morning.

Solo Adventures into the City
Feeling cooped up in 1300 one morning, I decided to go into Olde City and find a good place to write for a while. I ended up getting coffee in a little coffee shop off a narrow cobblestone street (after escaping the rain in a small bookstore), and it finally felt like I was a part of the city.

the lovely little bookstore

And without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite parts of Philadelphia was:

My Amazing, Inspirational, Crazy, Loving, Beautiful Team
While I hesitate to get all dramatic because I don't want you to think I'm crazy or whatnot, I am sure that the greatest growth and some of the best moments this summer came from my team.

Not only did we have a really fun job (who doesn't love working with children's books all summer?!), but we became really close as friends. And oddly enough, we went through a lot together. It was a big summer for each of us in our own lives, but we were all there to help each other out (think lots of hugs and long conversations-- sometimes when we were supposed to be working. Woops!).

Me, Molly (our manager), Cristina, and Kelcey

Saturday, August 14, 2010

. . .

"The highest reward for man's toil is not what he gets for it,
but what he becomes by it."

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Our Planetarium Excursion

Some of my mom's friends invited us to go with them to the planetarium at the University of Arizona last night, and taking any chance to get out of the house and see Tucson, I was all for it.

We got to the place early, so we wandered around for a bit. Outside and up some windy stairs was a large telescope through which you could look up into the heavens. Except for the fact that the telescope was focused on two twin stars over 50 light years away that I'd never heard of (being too late in the evening to see any of the planets), it was still fun to look through the telescope-- if just for the sake of saying that I've looked through a real telescope.

After wasting time there and then going inside and wasting some more time looking at enlarged photos of the galaxy and such, it was finally time to go inside the theater. I was excited. The last time I'd been to a planetarium was in sixth grade during our end-of-the-year class field trip to Bozeman (the highlight of which was the pool party at the hot springs), and the only two things I remember about the show were loving how the stars looked so real and hoping that no one around me could smell my armpits, which by sixth grade smelled to high heaven (bahaha!) and were already sweating profusely from our galavanting around the museum.

So as I settled back comfortably into my seat last night, I was looking forward to a peaceful hour of planets and stars and bright specs of light that shimmered and showered down. All that happy stuff.

A volunteer from the university gave us a quick safety demonstration, including that the show may cause epileptic seizures. Wow, I thought to myself. Those stars must really shimmer. That should have been our first clue.

She also explained that the laser was made in the seventies and had been brought back in honor of its thirty-something-th anniversary. That should have been our second clue.

Cool laser machine -- looked like a giant bug.

Then the lights turned off and the audience twittered nervously in the pitch dark. Suddenly, a loud pulsing noise came throbbing over the speakers and a long line of florescent pink laser light appeared around the perimeter of the circular ceiling. It started flashing to the beat.

That's interesting. Annoying, but interesting.

But then, aaaah, there were the stars. That annoying pulsing pink line was still there, but at least the stars came out. I expected the loud music, far too intense for viewing the Milky Way, to start fading into something soothing and classical. But it didn't.

In fact, is that Pink Floyd?!

A little line of blue laser light appeared now and started tracing its way across the starry sky. I expected it to start spelling "Welcome to the Galaxy" or something. But it didn't. It just kept tracing its way across the sky in random patterns.

Then the blue line changed into lots of different things -- pulsating circles, odd figures that looked like falling babies (I kid you not), horses, more funky lines. And all in these gratingly-bright laser colors.

By the time the line had changed into the outline of a large man sitting on a chair spinning around in the sky, I'd had enough. Apparently, so had the rest of my group. One of the older women, Mrs. P, actually got on her hands and knees and crawled down the entire row to ask us if we were enjoying the show or not.

To give you a little back-story, Mrs. P and the other women I was with (including my dear mother) are the kind of women who only watch movies like Ever After and You've Got Mail. The most syncopated music they listen to is from Mozart, and almost nothing has a beat. They are peaceful souls, having put all memories/thoughts of that psychedelic decade behind them. So for these ladies to be stuck in a Pink Floyd super-trippy laser light show was too funny.

After Mrs. P crawled down the row to ask us our opinion of the show and then crawled back, all of the group just got up and left. Except Mom and I, however, who were in the middle of the row. This seating arrangement made it much more difficult to leave without being noticed. Besides, I was still laughing too hard at Mrs. P to get up when they left.

After a little whispering debate (Sorry, people sitting behind us), Mom and I were about to give up on a sneaky exit and just accept that we'd make a scene leaving (easy to do in a tiny room where all chairs are pointed toward the center and everyone can see everything), when the auditorium suddenly got pitch black again. I'm sure there was music going on, but I was still in such a fit of hysterical silent laughter that I didn't notice. Mom suggested moving down to the end of the row quietly while it was still dark. It was a great idea, except that the chairs were anything but quiet and we made a wonderful squeaking racket moving from chair to chair. I think the music softened then just for our benefit.

A few stray laser lights came up and the auditorium became cast in a gentle gray glow. It was still pretty dark, and I could see the exit right in front of me. Alright, now's the time.

Steeling myself, I stood up and walked toward the exit -- just in time for all the lasers to turn on in all their brilliantly-colored glory and light up the ENTIRE auditorium. Including the retreating backs of Mom and I. And to add to the effect, the instant we pulled open the exit doors, the music erupted in this huge bell/gong noise.

I could barely get out the door, I was laughing so hard. Trying to be polite, but really hardly caring, we ran past the confused college students behind the front counter and out into the open air where our friends were waiting.

Well, so much for the planetarium. We consoled ourselves with frozen yogurt, and it was great.

Top Moments in Philadelphia (Part 2)

CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY.... These are some of the moments from institute that I'll always remember. Thanks for allowing me to reminisce a little longer!

Making a scrapbook for my manager Molly throughout the entire night (read this as less than two hours of sleep) with my teammate Kelcey and bonding over Billy Joel's "Vienna" -- "Slow down, you crazy child..."

Making a mess...

... And the final product!

"It was June 17th/ when we first saw you..."
Singing a song for our managers (set to Taylor Swift's "Fairy Tale" song) about how much we love them, and watching them ALL get misty eyed.

*photos thanks to fellow OC Jessica

School Visits
One of the most inspirational parts of the internship was getting to visit three different schools where corps members were teaching summer school and learning through guest-teaching how to be teachers.

I so appreciated having the chance to sit in on the classes that corps members were teaching and having the chance in general to see the less affluent areas of Philadelphia. That level of poverty was something I'd never seen (in the United States), and it left such a impression.

And then, after the visits, I loved being able to talk about it and process it all with our manager Molly (while simultaneously feeling my heart contract with sadness and expand with hope). I learned so much with every trip.

Fourth of July
Sharing fireworks with over 500,000 people was magical. And watching a free Goo Goo Dolls concert on the Fourth of July -- talk about bringing back memories from high school.

TO BE CONTINUED (again)...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Top Moments in Philadelphia (Part 1)

Because I loved this experience and the people I met soooo much, I though I'd recap on just how awesome this summer was. Thanks for indulging me!

Moroccan Food Field Trip
About mid-institute, the operations team celebrated the arrival of our first paycheck with a food field trip to a Moroccan restaurant. Directions to the place were basically, "Walk down a narrow alley and knock on the large wooden door with the green awning."

And so we did, and a delicious seven course meal followed, the likes of which I hope very much to be able to experience again. The blog of my fellow coworker Geales has pictures ... http://onebeautifulview.blogspot.com/2010/07/seven-courses-of-awesomeness.html

Cab Rides
If you are gonna take a taxi, sit in the front seat. It's by far the best part about the ride, because up there you can make friends with the driver. Conversations usually begin with a question on my part (most aren't talkative until you open the door to conversation)-- my standard Q is, "So how long have you been driving taxis?"

I've discovered that most drivers have the same standard answer. "Oh, about twenty years now," they say. They probably say this so that I think to myself, Wow, this cab driver is so experienced. How reassuring!

And this used to be my reaction. That is, until the line is used on me by a kid that couldn't possibly have been more than five or six years older than me. So unless he started driving a taxi when he was still in single digits, I don't believe him. And now anyone else, for that matter.

But if I hadn't made it a habit of sitting in the front seat, I wouldn't have the opportunity to have such interesting conversations, nor would I have gotten to chat with the cab driver who kept saying that the smartest people always sit in the front seat (buttering me up for a tip, no doubt) and who plans to write a book someday about his antics called, This Cabbie is Full. I told him that I'd keep a look-out for his book. And I guess I'll admit it-- I did tip him a little extra.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Discovering Philadelphia's Magic Gardens almost by accident and taking a crazy amount of artsy pictures (and eating my first Philly cheesesteak)... such a good day.

Also, I think that as far as places go, the Magic Gardens are one on my top favorite places in all the city. There's just something so beautiful about a place completely overrun by art.

Sushi and Jessica's 21st Birthday Party
For my coworker Jessica's 21st birthday, all the OCs went out for sushi and decadent chocolate to celebrate her day.

The best part was sharing a meal together as a "family" and realizing that we have all become such wonderful friends. The sad part was realizing that we would soon be leaving each other for our old lives, which suddenly seemed so much less cool or important at that moment.

My awesome coworkers and I -- birthday girl is in yellow,
if the tiara didn't give it away already.

Love these two with all my heart!

TO BE CONTINUED... (trust me, this is going to be a looooooong blog)

. . .

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war,
while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."

- Sun Tzu

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My New Anthem?

"Slow down, you're doing fine.
You can't be everything you want to be
before your time"

Family Bonding Time

This is what my brother does for fun. He picks out random numbers and then multiplies them together.

Like: 934,789,056 x 624,832

And then he gets frustrated when he gets it wrong. Love him. And love our bonding time over the kitchen table at midnight. Many a good blog idea lately has come from his musings and antics.

Late-Night Haircuts

My younger brother needs a haircut. We both agree on this. Of course, in typical boy fashion, he waits and waits and waits until his hair is poofy (in a funny phenomena, it grows out and up before getting any longer) and he has a little rat's tail touching the nape of his neck before he decides it's gotten out of hand.

Naturally, after going days and days in this unkempt state, he finally decides tonight, at about midnight (also in typical boy fashion), that he cannot go another second without trimming the fuzz on the back of his neck. One more millisecond and the world will stop turning and all hell breaks loose. He's convinced that if he shows up to work in the morning with another fifteen hours of dead cells on his head, he's dunzo. Ka-put!

And of course, who does he recruit to help him in his predicament? Who does he drag off the perfectly cushion-ey couch, away from the welcoming land of Facebook, to assist him in this effort?

Me. The only sister around who's foolish enough to not look busy. I should have pulled up the New York Times when he walked in. I knew I had it bookmarked for a reason.

Not that I'm complaining -- or still complaining, rather (I definitely did my fair share at the time). Once he managed to drag me away from my creature comforts, it was actually quite fun to cut his hair. There is something very satisfying about cutting hair that is not mine. Perhaps I should scrap this film business and become a cosmetologist.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Listen Carefully, My Friends

A relationship is like a wildfire. It burns with an intensity that cannot be matched. It rushes forward, consuming everything in its path with reckless abandon. It cares not what it does, and it only realizes how much damage it has caused when it reaches the end of the trees or a large precipice over which it cannot leap. And there, seeing nothing left to consume, it looks back and goes, "Holy Sh*t. What did I just do?!?!"

-- according to an anonymous friend

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy 8-9-10!

Yup. A monumental occasion. If today wasn't merely a Monday, I would have bet serious money that all over the world, millions of people were getting married today to celebrate the date.

And it would have been such a great day to tie the knot too. With such a catchy date like today, all those brides could almost guarantee that their future husbands would never forget their anniversaries-- and if they did, they couldn't make up a good excuse for doing so.

Dear Isabella,

I cannot wait until the day that I can show you these pictures and say, "Here, look. You really were the cutest baby on the planet. I have proof."

I also can't wait until the day that I can be the aunt that brings you Christmas presents from faraway places when you are little and then takes you to those places when you are older.

And I can't wait until I get to share with you my ginormous Barbie collection that I am still saving. Just in case God gives me all boys (which would be spiteful), at least I can share them with you.

Aunt Ginny (or whatever pronunciation of Virginia you can manage as a toddler)

Hopefully Never Again

I was reading through old posts that I've written but never published for some reason or another, and I came across an old one titled, "How to Survive an Entire Day on One Hour of Sleep." The sad thing is, I know I wrote that blog from personal experience. Too much personal experience, if you ask me. I would loooove to never know what that feels like again.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Things I Miss About Big Cities

Everyone takes recycling seriously in big cities, and I love it. Almost every single public garbage can has at least two different compartments -- one for plastic/cans and one for trash.

Because of the huge number of recycling bins wherever I looked, it became second nature to me over the summer to pay attention to what I was throwing away. I would automatically categorize whatever was in my hand as "recyclable" or "non-recyclable," and then I would feel a twinge of guilt if I had to throw away something recyclable into the regular garbage can (which only happened when there wasn't one of those green bins around).

Public Transportation
You can get anywhere at any time, and you don't have to rely on other people to get you there (and you are being environmentally responsible).

Want to escape into the city for a morning? No problem. A $2 subway token will get you there. Going out for the evening with friends? A taxi ride will cost you less than a subway ride when you carpool with four, and you wont have to worry about finding and then paying for parking. Oh the freedom!!!

Exotic foods
Part of the magic of big cities is that they are melting pots for different cultures. People from all over the United States and the world make up the unique diversity of the city, and this spills over into the fabulous dining options available.

Because only in big cities can you eat Moroccan food one weekend (seven courses of deliciousness), have Afghani food the next (rose-water soaked rice with shredded orange peel, anyone?), dine on Kosher french toast one morning, and then eat sushi the weekend following (hands down the best sushi I've ever had). I have been spoiled, and my dining options at school will never look the same again.

Leaving Philadelphia (In Letters)


(7:00 a.m.)
Dear Alarm on Phone,
Thank you for not going off and waking up all eight or ten of us sleeping on Megabed.

(7:04 a.m.)
Dear Internal Alarm,
Thank you for waking me up, even when my phone alarm didn't. Because of you, I didn't miss my train.

Dear Friends,
You were all sleeping so soundly that I didn't want to wake you up. But I shall miss all y'all so very much. And I was serious about being pen pals. That's gonna happen!

(9:00 a.m.)
Dear Train Stations,
Thank you for existing. You brought me so much joy today as I sat eating my quiche and waiting to board my train.

(9:56 a.m.)
Dear Train from Philadelphia, PA to Wilmington , Delaware,
I am in love. Thank you for allowing me to check "Riding on a train" off my bucket list.

But I do wish that you hadn't been such a short part of my trip. A thirty-minute train ride is not nearly long enough. You will see me again.

(11:05 a.m.)
Dear Greyhound Bus to Salisbury (Maryland),
Thank you for giving me a huge cold.

Dear Huge Cold,
Thank you for being nice and not showing any symptoms until I got on a plane Friday morning for Arizona.

(5:25 p.m.)
Dear Shiloh,
Thank you for greeting me with a giant bear hug when I got off the bus. It was so great to see you. And thank you for introducing me to your daughter Lydia and showing me your cute little home.

At first she's not so sure what to make of me...

... but then she decides to give me a chance.

Making new friends!


Maybe not...

Also, I love that you allowed me to share in a little slice of your domestic comfort for an evening. I am now seriously considering a purchase of that Wii dance game (and I can't get the dance moves for "Hot n' Cold" out of my head).

(10:30 p.m.)
Dear Shiloh and Joe,
Thank you for ensuring that I got my daily intake of calcium and riboflavin -- in the form of the biggest (and most delicious) ice cream sundae ever.

Aaand... thank you Shiloh for giving me a ride to Philadephia when I missed my bus. You are the best friend a girl could ask for.

About Me

... A few thoughts to pass the time...