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 .blogspot.com 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!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing a Novel: Day 1

Status: Still excessively optimistic.
Word Count: 0

I signed up online at NaNoWriMo today. Officially threw my hat in the ring. And I got a lovely email in response, the author of which is most definitely a writer. They're very encouraging. For example, the subject line of the email read: NaNoWriMo loves VDuke. They know me too well.

That email was just so inspiring. They told me how to get plugged into local writing groups (too late for me to join one now though). They told me to just keep going. They assured me that it was completely natural to not have any idea what I was doing.

And they introduced a foreign concept to me-- writing without editing.

I am a classic case of edit-as-you-go. I almost never write completely new drafts of papers because by the time I've reached the end of the essay, it's really already been edited five or six times through. So this new approach to writing will be a challenge for me. A very big challenge. Probably the biggest one (after writing all those words, of course).

Here's an excerpt from that awesome email:

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it's hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn't. Every book you've ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.  

My favorite is number three. I've definitely already told all y'all about this novel business. Here's to hoping you'll make me stick to it.

I should probably start writing now.

. . .

"If you trust in yourself . . ."
". . . and believe in your dreams . . ."
". . . and follow your star . . ."
". . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy."

-The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

President Boren Takes a Paycut

I definitely have a lot of respect for OU's President, David Boren. He's a really neat guy in person who absolutely loves talking to students when he gets the chance.

And he has an open-door policy. So if you have a real problem with someone, you can actually just go walking into his office to give him a piece of your mind. I have yet to hear of someone abusing that privilege, and I think it's pretty neat that Boren does that.

Also, I just found out that, in light of all the projected budget shortfalls, Boren is voluntarily taking a pay cut. Now that is something I really respect. At a time when the OU football assistant coaches are getting a pay raise (I know, it's a different budget. But still... it's the principle of the thing), our president, who works tirelessly for this university, is offering to work just as hard for less, in order to help OU succeed. That's commendable.
OU President David Boren recently addressed the Faculty Senate about potential budget shortfalls, Shilling said. Boren will be taking a 6-percent paycut and OU vice presidents will see a 2- to 3-percent paycut depending on their pay grade. Boren said OU department heads should prepare for budget cuts upward to 5 percent.
From here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Writing a Novel

I can't resist. I really can't. I tried. I surfed the web for an hour. I wandered aimlessly through too many Facebook pages (and found out that some friends from high school are engaged. Congrats!). I did anything and everything I could think of to distract myself from this silly idea that I could write an entire novel in sixteen days. Two weeks and two days.

I'm crazy.

But who cares? I'm officially going to try.

Thanks to Rhonda, I'm listening to my intuition, heading the call of my heart, and channeling my true purpose (hopeful byproduct = courage). In other words, being too stupid to say "no" just might come in handy already.

I'll see you on the other side.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo = Writing a Novel in Thirty Days

My Dearest Readers,
Ohmygoodnessgracious! HOW DID I JUST FIND OUT ABOUT THIS NOW?!?!?!

I just found out that there actually exits a contest where you can sign up and receive a certificate if you write a novel of 50,000 words during the month of November.


It's called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and apparently, you start writing on Nov. 1, and you submit your work before midnight local time on Nov. 30. And if you finish, you get all sorts of badges and certificates and the pride that comes from knowing that you-- yes you!-- just wrote a complete novel in only one month.

If only I had known!

*wring hands in despair*

If I had known about this before November 1st, I would absolutely have joined the club. Not that I have any particularly good stories to tell (I'm still looking) or any extra time at all, but I still haven't given up on the idea of completing a novel before I graduate college-- and this could have been my chance.

I would have signed up in a heartbeat, instantly turning into a harried kid typing away like mad in the corner, spurred on by the challenge of writing 2000+ words a day.

But alas, I just heard about this. And November is halfway over. And writing 50,000 words before the 30th means that I would have to write at least 3125 words EVERY DAY, starting tomorrow. To give you perspective, that's about five-- 5, cinco, cinque, cinq-- Times New Roman, 12-pt font, single-spaced FULL pages of writing. And it's all creative stuff, no less. That takes tiiiiime.

I wish I could do it though. I wish ever so terribly that I could. There's just something about setting a non-negotiable deadline that makes writing that much easier. Until there is a deadline in front of me, there's no pressure to get it done now.... which means there's no pressure to complete it ever.

I don't know. Maybe it's not too late? I could fit that in somewhere, right?

An overbooked yet still optimistically undecided student

P.S. Decision still to come. I'll let you know in the morning.

. . .

When you heed the calling of your heart, you are following your purpose. Having purpose in your life gives you the courage to do the things you are meant to do. When you are purpose driven, you have learned to listen to your intutition and never let no get in your way. 

- Rhonda Britten

Friday, November 12, 2010

If the World was a Fempire

. . . 

Here's a brilliant commentary on equality in the workforce-- written by a man. I'm not saying that I agree with everything Daniel Manus says. But a lot of his ideas ring true... True equality means completely ignoring gender and hiring the most capable, qualified candidate -- regardless of sex.

But read and ponder. I'd actually love your opinions if you want to chime in below.

Is there a doctor in the house?!

Why yes, there is.

My awesomely-intelligent roommate Valerie was accepted to OU Medical School this week. Sha-BAM!

For kicks, I am going to start calling her Dr. Miller. Especially when we are around other people. What's love without a little embarrassment?


It's a rainy day-- the awesome kind where it thunders in the distance and water pours down at a constant rate, though with an occasional outburst of extra-enthusiastic rain globs.

That's one thing I'll give Oklahoma. The rainstorms here are much cooler than in Montana. Because while MT may beat OK on the fresh feeling post-storm, the storms themselves are waaaaay better here. The raindrops are bigger and they fall with more gusto. And there's more of it (which makes for some of the best puddle-jumping I have ever experienced-- and I had some pretty good puddle-jumping moments in high school.)

But now the question is, do I try to leave the house? Coffee shops during rainstorms are magic. But you have to get there first, which means braving the elements and potentially destroying your hair.

Magical moment vs. good hair. Such a dilemma.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

. . .

"Success is not final, 
failure is not fatal; 
it is the courage 
to continue that counts." 

-Winston Churchill

Bloody Brilliant

So I may or may not be obsessed with greeting cards. All cards, in fact. When I'm somewhere new, I'll drop five dollars on postcards easy. And I can't even pass the card aisle without buying something, which means I usually avoid that part of Walmart instinctively. Hey, I'm not made of money.

I'd like to think I have good reason to purchase ungodly amounts of greeting cards though. I keep in contact with so many people through the mail these days (who doesn't love a traditional letter?), that I can easily buy a pack of ten cards and send every single one of them fanning out across the country the next day. Yup. I have that many friends. Be jealous.

And if you are one of those friends, get excited. I feel a splurge coming on, of which you'd be the lucky recipient. Please admire the brilliant, absolutely hilarious cards at foxyblunt.com. The deadpan humor kills me.

Can't wait to share the sarcasm with others.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For A Late Night Chuckle

1) Go to Google Maps
2) Click "Get Directions"
3) Type "China" as starting point
4) Type "United States" as ending point
5) Check out #42 on the directions list

(Courtesy of a random message that's been going around Facebook-- gotta love it.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

More, Please.

I need to spend more time being positive. I have this great friend named Geales (see post below) who has the most inspirational blog. Almost everything she puts up there lights the page with positivity, inspiration and love. It's literally one of my go-to places when I'm feeling down.

I appreciate that so much. Genuine, heartfelt love coming from someone real makes everything better.

I can't even begin to say how much people need more of that in the world. Especially me and my friends, I think. My house is a stress-ball. Everyone is worried about upcoming tests and papers. But bigger than that, deadlines and notification days loom. We are in the thick of hearing back about this application and that program.

Where will we be in a year? Where will we be in six months?

None of us really know. Sure, some of us think we see the horizon. But it's all squiggly and different colors, with a gazillion variables.

I know this is normal. This is what life looks like for everyone else my age. And from some snooping/unofficial research, I guess I've realized that this is normal for everyone. Once you are outside the confines of your standard twelve years of public education and four years of college, it's all a gamble. Even people in their forties, with their future on lock, can have things change.

So for now, I'm trying to let go of the definite. Accept the change and chance and adventure that is coming my way. And while the foundations are shifting and the eight ball is shaking, I'll just move with it. Less worry and more love.

And for those times when I forget, there are good people in the world like Geales to remind me of that.

Taken from the blog of my beautiful friend Geales...

"When I look at the lives of the people I most admire it’s these daily decisions I honor the most. The tiny choices, the kind you make over your cup of morning coffee: Put your mug in the sink and go to the studio, it’s time to get back to work. Get out of bed and make the kids breakfast, after cereal we’ll work out what’s next. Forgive him, he’s sorry – this will set you both free. Be yourself because there is no one better.

The grand prize is that we all get to do this – we get to live here and love here and make our own way. We get to choose who we will be and what kind of bold beauty we will leave behind when we go. It takes real pluck to choose kindness and freedom and art. It takes balls to show up for your life. So I may think you’re rad if you are up for a bungee jump but I think you’re miraculous if you are up for today."

-Anne Carmack

From here.

Lights, Camera, Action!

It's amazing how that first one-- lights-- takes the loooooongest. We've been on location for over an hour,  setting up lights, dressing the set, finalizing camera angles. And we don't really even have that much equipment. If there was more, this process would take twice as long. Our poor actress, who in this scene is supposed to be napping on the couch, probably is actually asleep on the couch right now, waiting for something to happen.

And I'm in the corner, typing away. I'm the producer on this short, but with all student films, one wears many hats. For example, this morning I went with a lovely French beret.

Kidding. But I am, on top of producing, acting as the script supervisor, which means I'm taking notes on all the happenings so that the editor has something to go by later. I'm also watching for continuity (like, wasn't her left foot over her right in that last shot?). It's a fun, painless job (especially since I get to type it all into Excel -- someday I'll tell you all about my love affair with that hunky program).

But now, back to the shoot. Something's about to happen. Filming maybe?

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Q: What do you call a line of 
bunnies jumping backward?

A: A receding hare line

To Continue with My Obsession...

Pioneer Woman is coming to OU! 

Active Study - How to Learn

Rarely does anything informative or helpful come out of my sorority's chapter meeting. It's usually, "dress up, walk in, get paper, sing/recite, listen as people read directly from said paper, recite/sing a bit more, leave." Repeat every Sunday.

But at our last chapter, we actually got this really neat hand-out telling you how the human brain retains information. Fascinating.

For example:
1. The human brain learns best and fastest when there is kinetic energy involved-- the in-putting of information must be active. "The 'recording disk' of the brain accepts new material much faster if it "hears," "sees," "feels," "tastes," and detects motion (kinetic energy) during input or recording time." 

2. Learning requires the expenditure of energy. With notecards, "the student must be actively engaged in producing the sounds, using muscles and burning energy to make the sound." 

3. Some experts believe that information is better mastered if you group it all in groups of seven items or less at a time.

4. Association is a key to memory:
   a. You remember approximately 10 percent of what you read.
   b. You remember approximately 20 percent of what you hear.
   c. You remember approximately 30 percent of what you see.
   d. You remember approximately 50 percent of what you hear and see together.
   e. You remember approximately 70 percent of what you say (if you think as you are saying it).
   f. You remember approximately 90 percent of what you do.

Makes me wonder if I should reinstate jumping jacks into my study routine. Kinetic energy + burning calories = smart and thin. Ka-ching!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fireworks in November!!!

Photo stolen from my friend Megan's FB page.

Still not sure why that just happened... but that was officially THE COOLEST thing ever. Random fireworks in November? Yes please. 

    Best Firework Show I've Ever Seen
    Brisk, Beautiful Evening
+ The Company of a Good Friend 
An Awesome Saturday

Update: Apparently we just watched the firework show that was supposed to have gone off on the 4th of July. But since it rained on the 4th this year, they postponed the show. Until tonight. 

I love surprises!

Friday, November 5, 2010


Never have I been more grateful for a Friday. For the weekend. For a chance to breathe, sleep, and rejuvenate.

I've been dragging through this week, accomplishing the bare minimum, neglecting emails and phone calls and other important communications that really should have gotten done this week rather than next. Usually I'm not this bad. I can usually kick myself in the butt at some point, after days of dragging my feet, and force myself to get it done (even though that normally happens at 3 a.m. after a couple hours of blogging, web surfing, and other time-wasters).

But not this week. Nothing could compel me to check off those to-do items.

I'm losing motivation and quickly. Except for CCEW, I'm feeling remarkably uninspired. SFPC is becoming frustrating, since it doesn't seem like people are wanting to take the initiative on production. Okay, that's not true. There are at least three film shoots this weekend that I know of. That's exciting. But somehow I feel like the club itself is losing its interesting edge, and I don't know what to do about that.

And my motivation for school is officially zero. With the things that I'm applying for right now, none of them look at Fall 2010 grades. They're all looking at previous grades. So maybe getting another B isn't going to kill me... while clocking in less than 4 hours a night for an entire week probably will.

Things need to change. I need to get better at managing my time. And I need to prioritize. I need to sleep.

I will become a Super Cook!

The lifesaver of every person who has ever looked in their pantry and said, I have nothing to make! No ingredients! Oh, what to do?!

Supercook.com to the rescue! Just plug in all the ingredients in your pantry, and it will look for ALL THE RECIPES that use only those ingredients. Brilliant.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Read This Article!

The article says it all.

This is why Blue Valentine is amazing. And why Derek Cianfrance is amazing. And Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are amazing.

And why this movie HAS to get rid of that silly NC-17 rating so other people can see it and realize how amazing it is too.

"All the world's a stage..."

"... and all the men and women merely players."

Tuesday morning, my Shakespeare's Comedies discussion group performed selections of As You Like It. I think it went pretty well. I only forgot one line (which wasn't even one of the lines I was tripping over in practice-- what's up with that?), I didn't fall on my face when I jumped up on the stage-left stump, and people laughed more than I expected (though not quite in the places I'd expected).

Things I learned from this experience:
1. I should have been an actress. Not a movie actress, because even though they're more likely to be famous, they don't get to experience the joy of a live audience. Seriously though, it's awesome. Movies are stop-go-stop-go, and cast will spend upwards of an hour and a half just waiting for the set and lighting departments to do their thing before they get to act for thirty or forty minutes. But stage actors have rehearsal time and then perform the show a whole bunch of times for people who laugh and clap and give instant feedback. So much cooler.

2. When costume-hunting, trying to find something specific in Goodwill or Salvation Army is practically impossible. Unless, of course, you're looking for shapeless shirts from the 90s.

3. Putting on a play (or anything this big) will automatically take 1.5 times as much preparation as you'd originally thought.

4. Rehearsals are always more fun when there is plenty of chocolate to go around. The more, the merrier.

5. When possible, always try to have someone married on your team-- especially when their husbands are handy carpenters (hence, our awesome tree).

6. Playing a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman is quite amusing. And lends itself very well to discussing transvestitism in Shakespeare in as many papers as possible.

7. Learning your lines is always more fun with friends (which leads me to #8).

8. Road trips make for particularly captive audiences.

In my Ganymede costume, standing next to the
AWESOME tree that Amanda's husband made for us.
Props for the show.

Anyway, so glad that part of my semester is over. Time to think about other things.

"... that reason wonder may diminish/ how thus we met/ and these things finish."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

For All You Music Nerds Out There...

You'll love this.

(Dad, I posted this gem with you particularly in mind. Enjoy!)


My excuse for not voting because I don't live in Montana (and haven't been following my hometown election races) is no longer valid. If astronauts made it happen, I should have too. I am ashamed.


One pitiful excuse I'll throw your way is that at least I wasn't completely hiding under a rock these last couple months. I was definitely paying close attention to the gubernatorial race here in Oklahoma, as I had very strong opinions about the outcome. In fact, for the first time in my life, the thought flitted through my mind that I wish I was a resident of this (rather politically backward) state, so I could vote on the next governor. Thankfully, the thought was a brief one. Then all the reasons why I love Montana more came to mind, and my sanity was restored.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pioneer Woman, Oh How I Love Thee

Cristina introduced me to Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman, this summer. I will never be the same again.

Not only is she a prolific writer, but she:
- cooks (and sells awesome cookbooks with delicious recipes)
- goes on talk shows and cooks from said cookbooks
- takes fantastic pictures (and gives you tips on how to do the same)
- has a killer sense of humor
- gave up city life for love (when she met the man of her life-- who just happened to be a cowboy)
- has a very romantic story about how she met her husband, Marlboro Man
- home schools her kids!
- and SO much more (It's impossible to channel that woman into one blog post).

Not to be one of those creepy people who think they're the exact right person for a certain celebrity or anything... but Ree and I really do have a ton in common. Maybe we could be friends...?

Anyway, on the loooong list of things we have in common.... We love to write (though she's funnier than me). I was homeschooled (as she does with her kids). Our parents seperated when we were the same age (and we, oddly, had very similar emotional reactions to it--- reading her story was like a verbalization of my own thoughts). Like her, I wanted desperately to leave small-town life for the big city (though unlike her, I'm still hellbent on doing that). I love photography and want to start incorporating it more into my blog (like hers currently does swimmingly).

Read her stuff and tell me she isn't amazing. I dare you.

If I could be that funny, and create that kind of empire out of my writing, I would be one very very very happy person.

Aaaaaaaand.... she is currently holding this awesome contest where four lucky winners, and friends, are invited to her home for a weekend to learn to bake holiday goodies, feed cows with Marlboro Man, sip coffee on the porch in the countryside, meet her kids, etc. My friend Cristina-- also in love with Pioneer Woman-- sent me a text telling me about it, and of course, I immediately put my name in the hat. If I win, she's coming with me, and visa versa. And even though there are already over 20,000 people in the contest (!!! - stiff competition), I remain hopeful. After all, we already live in the same state and share a gazillion of the same interests. Is that too much to ask? 

The Best Part About Halloween...

... is not all the readily-available Kit Kat bars or the fact that this is the one time a year it's okay to dress like a slut.

Nope. Not even close.

The best part about Halloween is that all these adorable little kiddos (who you think couldn't possibly look any cuter) manage outdo themselves in tiny pumpkin and animal costumes. 

It is impossible to be sad when looking into the fresh, soulful eyes of a little sweet pea.

(my beyond precious niece)

Monday, November 1, 2010

OpenBeta 5

On Thursday night, a bunch of the guys on my CCEW team and I drove into Oklahoma City and attended OpenBeta 5, an event that attracts all the software start-up minds in the area. It was so interesting to me to see how many people in middle America are interested in programming and developing software. I mean, I'd expect big numbers to attend if we were in California (and this definitely didn't attract that many), but there were still a decent number of people here that came out for the evening (maybe 40 or 50 people?).

Besides being a great networking opportunity (though I didn't get there quite early enough for that), the event itself was actually really fun. The keynote speaker was a teleconference with one of the guys who started WePay, which is a brilliant site that makes collecting money (for anything) quick and easy. Then we had a couple rounds of "Lightening Powerpoint," during which people from all over presented slideshows on their new company or idea that they've been working on lately. The trick, though, is that each slide is set at 20 seconds and it moves on whether the speaker is ready or not. And of course, there were adult beverages, delicious sushi, yummy deserts, and samples of super expensive scotch to appreciate during the numerous breaks.

But the absolute BEST part of the evening was, hands down, when everyone played PowerPoint Karaoke.

Basically, some poor volunteer with a glutton for punishment (or killer improv comedy skills) goes up and is given a completely random slide deck (that they've never seen before) to present to the audience. Hilarity ensues as people stumble through, trying to be funny with "How to be a Twitter Ninja" or a random assortment of lolcat pictures.

You know you're in a room full of nerds when we all get a huge kick out of watching yet another PowerPoint presentation.

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