Our Lady of Perpetual Sleepiness

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sigh. It's been a while.

I've decided to do the 101 things in 1001 days, starting... February 1, 2010. So that gives me until... October 29, 2012, right before my 28th birthday.

I've checked off the things I have done this week - made a blog entry (this one!) and donated blood last Monday. Some are already filled in, such as some books I have read, or movies that I have seen. My goal is to complete at least 90% of the items on this list, since some of them are a stretch (such as the language learning). But i believe that most are attainable.

  1. Apply for my passport
  2. Go thrifting/antiquing for a day on the 127-mile Yard Sale
  3. Spend a day drinking beer in a tube on a river
  4. Leave the US for a week or more
  5. Visit the Napa Valley
  6. Go on a cruise
  7. See all of the MLB ballparks in DC, NY, MA, and PA
  8. Do the Texas Barbeque Trail
  9. Attend the taping of a television show
  10. Go to a Star Trek convention
  11. Write down the recipes I like on cards
  12. Learn 10 signature recipes (0/10)
  13. Make 5 cocktails from memory (0/5)
  14. Improve knife skills
  15. Buy a set of kitchen knives
  16. Grill a steak
  17. Make mozzarella cheese
  18. Bake one loaf of bread a month (0/33)
  19. Cure a salmon for lox
  20. Grow tomatoes, peppers, and herbs on my patio
  21. Plant a fruit tree
  22. Pick fruit at a farm
  23. Can jam
  24. Have people over for brunch
  25. Throw a cocktail party
  26. Eat at a four star restaurant
  27. Make a picnic dinner in the summer
  28. Read a book a month (0/33)
  29. Read Infinite Jest
  30. Read 5 plays (0/5)
  31. Read 5 books of poetry (0/5)
  32. Read all of Jane Austen’s books (1/6)
  33. Read the first Harry Potter in Spanish
  34. Do a whole week of NYT crosswords with no help (0/7)
  35. Memorize 3 poems (0/3)
  36. Learn about life and health insurance
  37. Really learn how to use Photoshop
  38. Really learn how to use Illustrator for cartography
  39. Improve typing speed to 65 wpm (currently 50 wpm)
  40. Learn how to drive stick
  41. Improve SQL skills
  42. Become conversant in Spanish
  43. Learn basic German phrases
  44. Keep an idea sourcebook
  45. Knit a sweater
  46. Sew a dress based on a vintage pattern
  47. Make a Halloween costume
  48. Embroider a set of handkerchiefs
  49. Screen print an image onto a t-shirt
  50. Make a stained glass window
  51. Throw a clay pot on a wheel
  52. Make 3 prints (0/3)
  53. Make paper
  54. Practice calligraphy
  55. Refinish a piece of furniture
  56. Do an art collaboration with Jamie
  57. Take a social dance class
  58. Learn a card trick from my dad
  59. Learn how to make a cool pillow from my Mom
  60. Write a journal entry once a week (0/143)
  61. Draft a children’s book
  62. Learn how to do 5 origami projects (0/5)
  63. See 15 musicians/bands live (0/15)
  64. Spend a day at an art museum
  65. See all of the movies nominated for Best Picture (5/30)
  66. See all of the documentaries nominated for Best Doc (1/15)
  67. Watch all of Errol Morris’ docs (1/9)
  68. Go to a drive-in movie
  69. Decorate a Christmas tree
  70. Make Valentines for people that I am grateful to have in my life
  71. Sing a song at a karaoke bar
  72. Buy a gaming system
  73. Beat a video game
  74. Start a Roth IRA
  75. Build my emergency fund of expenses to 3 months worth of expenses
  76. Start a savings account for a “big” purchase
  77. Create a 1 year plan, a 5 year plan, and a 10 year plan
  78. Learn how to manage an investment portfolio
  79. Donate blood every 3 months (1/11)
  80. Volunteer at the food bank (0/10)
  81. Hit a bucket of balls at a driving range
  82. Go climbing at a rock gym
  83. Learn the butterfly stroke
  84. Go canoeing/kayaking 2 times (0/2)
  85. Go hiking 6 times (0/6)
  86. Go camping 2 times (0/2)
  87. Wear hair in a beehive for a day
  88. Learn how to apply black eyeliner
  89. Buy a pair of kickass boots
  90. Catalog music in iTunes
  91. Put high school pictures in an album
  92. Graduate with my Master’s degree
  93. Find a job that uses my degree
  94. Fine tune my resume
  95. Learn how to write a great cover letter
  96. Publish an article out of my Master’s thesis
  97. Finish the article from my undergrad thesis
  98. Retake the GRE
  99. Apply to library school
  100. Make a professional portfolio of maps and other graphic designs
  101. Attend 10 Toastmaster’s meetings (0/10)


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My friend Aaron says that I hate my blog. Poor thing, it has been suffering form a high degree of neglect. It's just that life, as always, finds new and interesting ways to throw me for a loop and completely befuddle me.

I am still living in the Rio Grande Valley and am in a much better place in my life than I was last fall. I decided to stop feeling so sorry for myself and made some hard decisions. It sometimes seems easier to not make a decision than it does to settle on something. Failing to act is harder to recover from than simply making the wrong decision. At least with making the wrong decision, you learn from your mistake and retain that knowledge and go on to do things differently. Failing to act only leaves regret.

Never would I have thought that I would make it this far into my commitment. I have been here for almost nine months, which is amazing when I thought I would go home before the end of the first. So when I look back to who I was in September and compare it to who I am today, I know I have changed. I can't really quantify how I am different- I just feel it. More reflection is needed.

So, in the gaps between November and today, I have:
  • Taken the GRE;
  • Applied to 5 graduate schools (UWashington, UWisconsin, Texas A&M, UArizona, and Penn State);
  • Been accepted at the last 3;
  • Committed to attending Penn State;
  • Ditched a roommate and moved apartments;
  • Written 3 grants totaling over 2.5 million dollars;
  • Found a fabulous mentor at work;
  • Become more assertive at work;
  • and lost 5 pounds by working out.

I'm trying to get some other things started in my life , such as expanding my cooking/baking skills and crafting more. I would post pictures of my creations, but lack a digital camera. Maybe I will take up drawing and post court recorder-like sketches of my life.

I'm content, yet not complacent.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clumsiness is a virtue?

I've been on a frugality kick, partially by choice. Mostly because my salary is so low, it is called a "stipend." The lifestyle changes that I have made mainly consist of me not buying things besides food or gas (though the Christmas season will change that) and eating out MUCH less. I eat out about twice a week. Anway, I enjoy cooking, so this wasn't really a big deal.

Until I became a casualty of the kitchen last night.

I was making an ad-hoc chicken pot pie, since we haven't gone grocery shopping in about two weeks. Seriously, we had a desicated squash, one carrot, five pounds of potatoes, some parmesan cheese, and frozen chicken breasts. I didn't want to go to the store yet, so I made do, no worries. Like Tim Gunn says, I made it work.

While setting aside the broth from the pan that I poached the chicken in, SOMETHING happened. I still quite can't figure what. Anyway, the bowl I was pouring from shattered and all I could process was "hot liquid, get away!" So I stepped back and slipped in the pool of chicken broth, landing on shards of bowl. I twisted my right ankle, bruised my left shoulder, and cut my hands up from the bowl.

It was a pretty hard fall, so now I'm still all achy. We ended up going to Chick-Fil-A for dinner. Free chicken sandwich with the purchase of any combo? Heck yes, that is still frugality at work.

The pot pie came out really nice, so at least I have dinner made for tonight. After which I will make a trip to the grocery store.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I know everyone (including myself) is probably sick of hearing about this, but here it is again.

I hate it here and I want to come home (Houston, Austin, or College Station... it doesn't matter).

It just hits me in huge waves, this homesickness. I still have no idea what I am doing- no one has told me anything and it keeps getting pushed back. No one has even given me a freaking key to the building yet.

Right now, I don't even want to consider graduate school. I can't do this complete uprooting again for a while- moving to where I don't know anyone, somewhere I haven't even visited.

Why did I do this?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Well, I have been promising Aaron an new blog post for over a week... maybe even two. I have three posts that I want to do, but they might take a while. So, to tide you over, here is a story of my dinner tonight.

I got home and was starving. All day I had been craving Mexican food, but suddenly beans and tortillas didn't sound so appetizing. Looking at the counter, I saw some jalapenos that someone gave me from their garden. Then, inspriation struck.

Pulling out the corn meal, I followed the recipe for cornbread, but added 2 tablespoons of dried jalapenos and the two chopped up fresh ones. Additionally, I threw in a teaspoon of cinnamon. Why? The tiny chef in my head told me to (saw Ratatouille last night- so good!).

While that was baking, I sauteed a sliced red onion in olive oil until soft and then added a can of Ro-Tel (I always have a can of this on hand) and a can of rinsed ridney beans. They simmered together until the bread was done.

Then I brushed some butter on the cornbread after taking it out of the oven and sliced it into quarters. Finally, I scooped out a quater, spooned the beans on top, and added a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese, and some chopped cilantro. Dinner was ready in 30 minutes!

The only thing that made it better was the addition of a cold beer. While I was eating it, I was really sad that I was getting full, because I wanted to eat more. That is kind of sad, yet you cannot deny the delicious simplicity of this.

Monday, July 09, 2007

My arm is incredibly sore from the tetanus shot that I got this morning. Why did I get this shot? Not only am I trying to be a responsible citizen in keeping up my immunizations (and use as much of the insurance as I can before I am kicked off), but I also was potentially exposed to tetanus this weekend. The pictures on Wikipedia are incredibly scary, even more so when viewed in the wee hours of the morning. So I went in first thing.

How was I exposed to tetanus? That is where the interesting part of the story comes in. My lovely friend Jamie came to visit me in Austin this weekend. We wanted to spend some time outside as the sun was actually shining for the first time in weeks, so we trekked down to Barton Springs. Unfortunately, the pool was closed due to flooding- the water was really gross, smelly, and murky. Walking along the creek, we stopped just below the pool area, where the water shoots out from the dam and it becomes a creek again. It is posted "no swimming" and is apparently popular with the dogs (one of my co-workers called it the poor man's Barton, since you don't have to pay). Since our feet were tired from hiking about a mile in flip flops, we sat on the side of the banks to watch the people and dogs swimming. It was peaceful.

Then, two kids began screaming for help. They had swam into the part of the creek where the water's current was incredibly fast. Jamie ran in the water after them and I ran in after her. We pushed the boy towards another swimmer who was out of the current and helped the girl get across out of the current to the other bank. The girl would not climb up onto the bank (it was really brushy), so we pushed her up there and walked up.

Now, I am new to Austin and Jamie, of course, was a visitor, so we did not know that there was a bridge across the stream about 20 minutes away. Thus, we thought the only way was to swim back across. Jamie helped the girl across and I stayed behind to watch them, just in case they got into trouble.

Just as the girl made it across, the woman that was watching her showed up next to me on the bank. She didn't think that anyone was helping the kids, so she swam across as we made the rescue. Panic was written all over her face and she had jumped in wearing jeans and tennis shoes (we were in our bathing suits). She and I talked about how to get across as I tried to calm her down by pointing out that the two kids were now safely back on the other side. Also, I tried to get her to take off her jeans and tie them around her waist so they wouldn't restrict her movement. She refused, saying she didn't want people to see her "fat butt."

Finally, we tried to make our way across. I stayed near her, but I didn't want to get too close in case she tried to grab on to me. She got weighed down by the jeans (didn't listen to me), tried to swim directly across the current (didn't listen to me), and grabbed back onto the brush (did listen to me). For a moment, I really thought she was going to drown and I was so incredibly sad and guilty, but I couldn't risk helping her swim across. The woman had about 3 inches and 50 pounds on me and had managed to get herself into another swift current, just by the flood gate. I thought she was going to get swept up into the gate, held there by the force of the water. I thought I was going to see someone die.

Somehow, though, she got a hold of that brush and pulled herself up. She walked around to the far off bridge and was reunited with her son. I'm Catholic, a bit of a lapsed one, but I thanked God for giving Jamie and me the strength to do this and for Him not subjecting us to seeing someone die on Saturday.

After the rescue, while the lady was walking back, we watched the kids who we rescued (not her children) and her son. Her son was in a rage- he was so pissed that the other two kids dared each other to swim into that current. He was throwing rocks into the creek, narrowly missing people. It was incredibly awkward to try and get him to stop. Jamie told him that he sucked when he missed something that he was trying to hit (a tree?), which she didn't mean to do, but it was funny. She also asked if he had anger management issues. He told her "that's what my counselor said." Eeek! We also talked with the kids we saved, who had hippy-dippy names. They were remarkably chilled out, what with their near death experience.

Later, the lady walked up, soaked and angry and grateful. I saw her coming up the path before her son did, so I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed. He ran to her and wrapped himself around her, crying. It was really quite touching. She thanked us and they went on their way. Jamie and I left before we had to save anyone else. We were all bruised and scratched from who-knows-what with water contaminated with invisble nasties. Thus the tetanus shot.

But then we got to lay out at Zilker Park and life was good.

Oh yeah and thanks, indifferent Austinites, for ignoring drowning kids and their rescuers and offering no help at all before or after the event. Good form, really.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day! This holiday has always inspired me to reflect some about its nature. I try each year to read the Declaration of Independence (I know, I am a history nerd) and imagine what it must have been like to draft it. So much has changed in the 231 years of our nation's freedom, yet this document still exists and thrives. It resonates when you read it out loud, the way it was surely meant to be read. Through multiple wars and corrupt leaders, we can still go back to this document and be inspired to change.

I worry about the state of our government right now, after today's read-through. Life today just moves so fast and is on such a larger scale that I wonder if our leaders think the Declaration almost quaint- if they believe that they are above the standards set by the leaders of long ago. It seems that our most recent politicians are in it for personal gain, not because they believe they can improve the lives of the citizens of this nation.

I saw Sicko, directed by Michael Moore, today, as a part of my effort to be a well-informed, active citizen. It made me cry in several parts, because there were times that I could really identify with those he was interviewing. In several months, I will become one of the 45 million citizens that are uninsured. "This could be me," I thought to myself as I watched. I will write up a review with my impressions of the film tomorrow of this weekend, as it is definitely thought-provoking.

Finally, I want to leave you with a video of Keith Olbermann's Special Comment from 7/3/2007. In it, he calls for the resignation of both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. He sums up the whole sorry affair known as the Bush Presidency much more eloquently than I ever could: