Saturday, July 28, 2012

I'll Have the Usual

*Insert awesome movie scene*

Watch from 5:49-6:10

There are two kinds of people in the world. People who are cool enough to be able to request "the usual" at the local joint that they frequent on a regular basis, and people who try to order the usual and fall short of being recognized.

Most of my life, I have fallen into the latter category.

Until now.

On Wednesday, during lunch, I was at my favorite on campus Mexican place. I stepped up, prepared to order, and had the man working the counter take the words right out of my mouth. "Chicken taco?" he asked. I smiled and nodded, "Chicken taco." :). Further down the assembly line, I was asked by the lady putting toppings on the food, "Cheese and lettuce?"  They know me too well.

15-minutes of fame achieved.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Way I Am

"Cause I love you more than I could ever promise, and you take me the way I am."

5 Words/Phrases that are Probably Overused in my Vocabulary

While most people, including myself (don't get me wrong), love Fridays, this particular one I'm just not looking forward to. A sacrilege, I know, but the realization that Friday came so quickly this week also lends itself to the realization that exams start in three short days.

But there was one thing I was looking forward to this week, and that was another addition to Molly's new Friday Five. Up this week: 5 Words/Phrases that are Probably Overused in my Vocabulary. I'm struggling with this one guys, help me out if you can think of any better ones.

1) Y'all: Like any self-respecting southerner, this contraction is a staple in my everyday jargon (credits to Molly who made me realize I say this a lot too. And the next one...).

2) No Problem: I went through this weird phase where I thought saying "you're welcome" sounded somehow pretentious, almost like I was chalking up my own greatness for doing something nice for someone. The by-product: the habit of saying no problem even though the principal of my high school hated it. Sorry, Fr. Konzen, this one stuck.

3) I-dentical!: Said exactly like this.

4) In typical _______ fashion: Go back and read some of my old posts; this shows up waaaaay more times than it should.

5) Jk: I hate myself for this one. There is nothing worse than speaking text lingo, but no matter how I much I hate it, I can't seem to get rid of it. Lol.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Couch to 5K: Week Two

Day One:

Pre-run thoughts: My weeks are all out of wack because ironically, I am starting week two on a Friday. But hey, at least I'm actually running three times a week. That's a lot more than I could probably ever say before.

Post-run thoughts: Oof, today was pretty hard. It didn't help that it was really muggy and started to sprinkle a little bit, but it felt like the running was never ending. Shower, here I come.

Day Two:

Pre-run thoughts: I'm really hungry. Starting to worry that this might affect my run.

Post-run thoughts: Today's run was actually really good. A big improvement over how I felt during the last run. The program is always saying that a big breakthrough always follows a period of struggle, so I like to think that my big breakthrough is coming soon, haha :)

Day Three:

Pre-run thoughts: I haven't run in so long.  I'm nervous that this is going to be a horrible run.  I think I'm really only doing this because I'm currently without AC.  If I'd rather be outside sweating in the middle of summer, then I think that's a testament to how hot it is inside right now.

Post-run thoughts: This run was a really long time coming.  It started out with just missing a couple days of runs, and then my ankle hurting for about a week and a half, and then pure laziness became the reason why I hadn't run in about three weeks.  But in an effort to escape the muggy room (and as an excuse to not be studying for finals), I decided to go running.  And my body was definitely protesting.  This was definitely one of those instances of mind over matter as I forced myself to keep going even though I could scarcely breathe at some points and despite the stitch in my side and the cramps in my legs.  I will say that the last ten minutes of the run were the best though.  This could probably be equated to the fact that it was slightly downhill, but it felt like I was finishing strong.  I even got some hello's from some guys who looked like they run all day, every day, so I like to think that I look like a legit runner too.  But maybe not ;)  Here's to hoping I can get back into a regular running schedule!

Dinner Party

Fun little graph theory problem from my applied combinatorics homework today:

"Carolyn and Richard attended a party with three other married couples. At this party, a good deal of handshaking took place, but (1) no one shook hands with his or her spouse; (2) no one shook hands with himself or herself; and (3) no one shook hands with anyone more than once. Before leaving the party, Carolyn asked the other seven people how many hands she or he had shaken. She received a different answer from each of the seven. How many times did Carolyn shake hands at this party? How many times did Richard?"


Monday, July 23, 2012

The End is Nigh (or Neigh, as the case may be)

There's only two weeks left in the summer semester, and I think a Snoopy dance is in order. Granted this means that exams are barely a week away, but I'm so ready for a fresh start with a new semester. The best part: I won't be taking physics which in my book means my classes should hopefully be a breeze. I'm probably just fooling myself, but the thought of not having to take physics for the next five months is enough to make me jump up and down. Physics is not my cup of tea--I'm just flat out bad at it--and if there's one thing I've learned at Tech, it's that there's nothing like a few bad grades to make you feel horrible about yourself.

On a better note, I really like my math class which is a relief. You know, since it's my major and all. But my professor (who's actually a grad student) is really cool and seems really nice. I always like having grad students for teachers because they seem to be able to sympathize about our work loads more since they're going through the same hell we are. He's a little sarcastic which fits my personality perfectly and if someone asks a question, he actually takes the time to answer it which is a lot better than some other professors. Needless to say, how much I liked the class was a pleasant surprise, and it's geared me up for my math classes next semester. Abstract Vector Spaces and Probability & Statistics, here I come!

To celebrate the impending end of summer classes though, I started the weekend early by leaving to go horseback riding. My family started riding at the Southern Cross Ranch over two years ago, and ever since, we've been addicted to the delicious food, great wranglers, and, of course, to the amazing horses. Having over 250 horses, it's hard to find one that you don't bond with perfectly, and I know that I have a few favorites! I'm a seasoned veteran riding Luna and Cookie, but coincidentally, I was unable to ride either one of these two sweethearts this time. Cookie was taking a rest in the pasture for a couple weeks because of some girth sores that she had, and Luna threw a shoe literally right before I was supposed to ride her. So instead, for our first ride that morning, I rode Monroe. However, like her namesake (Marilyn Monroe), this horse was prissy and slow. She wasn't that stubborn like some horses can be, but she had a will to avoid mud at all costs. Having rained heavily the night before, this resulted in me being subjected to a couple run-ins with some tree branches, and I rode into some spider webs a few times.

For the afternoon ride, however, I settled on a different horse and rode Sweetie. And Sweetie was in fact a sweetie. She had an easy-going pace but wasn't as slow as molasses and definitely knew how to pick up the pace when I wanted her too. It was sweet because all of the wranglers referred to her as an old lady since she was older than most of the other horses. I don't know how to differentiate between a horse that's say five or twenty, but I was very happy with Sweetie, and even though it rained some, I was very happy with the trip too.

But now I'm back at school...  Who wants to do my math homework?  And for that matter, who wants to take my exams for me?

Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Friday, July 20, 2012

5 Things I Vowed I Would Never Like But Ended Up Really Liking Anyway

So, my dear friend and fellow blogger, Molly, presented a challenge on her blog today in the form of what she calls the "Friday Five." The gist: she will come up with a topic every week and then list five things about herself pertaining to the designated topic. To spice up my blog life, I've decided to follow along (and because I will admit that I've always wanted to participate in something like this).

So, to kick things off, I present week one and the 5 Things I Vowed I Would Never Like But Ended Up Really Liking Anyway.

1. J.D. Salinger books: After reading A Catcher in the Rye in the ninth grade, I convinced myself that J.D. Salinger was the worst author in the world. No offense to Holden Caulfield fans, but his perverted musings about young adult life never struck a chord with me. Am I missing the point of the book? Probably. But I decided to give Salinger's classics another chance when I, almost as a joke, picked up Franny and Zooey from the public library. And my viewpoint was completely changed. This book was a wake-up call of sorts for me, and I plan to re-read it soon (see this post).

2. Sour cream: This tangy dairy product used to be a big no-no in my book. I partially developed my aversion to it from its name alone. Seriously, who wants to eat sour cream? But when I finally tried it again after many years, I discovered that it can make already delicious chili even yummier. Call me a convert.

3. Math: Okay, so I can't say I ever vowed to not like math, but never in a million years did I think that I would come close to liking it as much as I do, much less making it my major.

4. E-readers: Nothing beats the smell of the inside of a good book, so for the longest time, I swore off of Kindles and other versions of the new electronic reader. And although I don't own one today, I have used some extensively and will confess that I wouldn't mind owning one, if only for the convenience.

5. Baths: When I was little, in an effort to save money, I used to share my three inches of bath water with one, sometimes two, of my sisters. Naturally, my revulsion for baths peaked before I was even ten, and it took me years to fully appreciate a well-drawn bath. Of course, now it involves the luxury of actually filling the tub to capacity with water and bubbles, and it's moved on from a method of cleaning to a session of relaxation. Win.

P.S. Check out Molly's blog and her own personal Friday Five. She's the bomb.

A Little Weekend Wisdom

"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at eighty and gradually approach eighteen."

- Mark Twain

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Here Is My Heart

This past Wednesday night, I had a night that really rejuvenated me as I met up with six people that changed my life two and a half years ago.

When I was a senior in high school, I took a class called Prayer and Meditation. The class met four times a week in the school chapel in a room that over the years came to be called "the upper room." This room earned its name literally and figuratively; it was literally the room located in the rafters of the chapel, but it also became a place of transcendence for anyone that stayed in it. As we would climb the candle lined stairs to the upper room, we would begin to feel our heartbeats slow down and our breaths deepen as we slowly settled onto our yoga mats and felt the weariness of the day melting away. This was a place of trust and understanding, joy and hope, and, above all, a place of prayer and closeness to God.

Class always started with a few minutes of quiet before we would take up our yoga poses at the front of our mats and started the Surya Namaskara, the Sun Salutation. Focusing on heavy breathing, the heat of the room would slowly rise as we carefully contorted our bodies into the positions that were meticulously ingrained in our muscles.  We would do this for about twenty minutes until we were just starting to sweat, and we would start our meditation.  Most of the times, they were guided meditations, led by our teacher, Mr. Fecas, one of the most amazing men I have ever known, but sometimes we were free to do whatever meditation we wanted under the stipulation that we didn't fall asleep, something which I will personally admit was sometimes hard to avoid.

Some classes were more unique than others.  Sometimes, when our class coincided with lunch, we would walk over to the creek bordering the campus and picnic by the water, drinking in the sun, skipping stones, and just enjoying each other's company.  Mr. Fecas always had thought-provoking questions to initiate talks amongst us, and it was moments like this that cultivated the relationship that formed among all of us.

Part of the class was both meditating by ourselves twice daily as well as journaling two times a day as well.  I've always kept a journal for most of my life, but devoting time twice a day to do so was initially a struggle.  I found myself running out of things to say before I realized I was trying too hard.  Yes, it was going to be read by my teacher, but it finally dawned on me that Mr. Fecas wasn't judging me.  If I had a bad meditation that day, he really didn't care.  Rather, he wanted to know if we were undergoing a transformation from the course.  He understands better than anyone that building a relationship with God and with other people is a journey, and through years of study, he's learned that sometimes the best way to unravel the joy and love within ourselves is through deep introspection.

At the end of the trimester, the class culminated in a weekend retreat in a cabin in North Carolina.  And it was hands down one of the best weekends of my life.  It changed me.  I laughed.  I cried.  I smiled.  I experienced every human emotion, the best of which was a love so great that I didn't even know could be felt.  A love so deep and transcendent that I can feel tears welling in my eyes as I write this.

That was another thing I learned that weekend: that not all tears are tears of sadness.  There are tears of love, and tears of joy, and tears of laughter, and tears of gratitude.  I share these tears with all of the people that I took the class with, and they have my heart.  Here is my heart.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quick-knit Hair-bow

Looking for something to do last night, I had the idea that maybe I could make my own hair-bow. I had just purchased some new yarn the day before in an off-white color, and I figured this would be a good neutral color that I could wear with any number of outfits.

To make the actual bow, I cast-on 15 stitches and knitted a total of 16 rows before binding-off. Then, after weaving in my ends, I wrapped and tied off some extra yarn in the middle to cinch the center in to make the bow. All I did was loop a bobby-pin in the back, and I had a finished product!

Five Books That Changed My Life and the Adventures That Came With Re-reading Them

I've been reading books for essentially as long as I can remember, and while my favorite books have ranged from everything from The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles to the first book in the Outlander series, I can't deny that there have been five standout books that I have read over the past few years that, to put it bluntly, blew my mind.  They were the kind of books that, at the time, made me sit back and re-evaluate my life, and I have recently been wondering if they would affect me in the same way upon a second reading.  The five books are all listed below in the original order in which I first read them, and I plan to read them again* as soon as I finally finish reading George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords (damn you, college, for sucking away so much of my reading time).

1) Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
2) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
3) The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
4) The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

*Posts to follow on the outcomes of these grand re-reading adventures.

Friday, July 6, 2012

100 Degree Weather and a Trip to Kentucky

Whether they actually take the time to write it down or not, most people have "bucket lists" or at least a mental list of things they want to do in their lifetime. When I was finishing up my senior year of high school, I started to write my own personal list. Maybe it was the large transition I was about to make as I headed my way into the unknown world of college, but it felt like the perfect segue into a new chapter of my life.

One such thing to do on my bucket list is to spend the night in each of the 50 states. Over the course of my childhood, my family used to take road trips across the country, but I decided at the start of my list writing that I only wanted to count states that I visited from that moment on. As a result, my list boasts only five or six states even though I'm pretty sure I've visited well over half of the country, but I wanted to make sure I had a solid remembrance of all the states I would one day visit.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Kentucky, a new state for me. David's sister was going to a wedding there, and in exchange for a mini-vacation in the Bluegrass State, David and I were going to babysit her three kids on Saturday night while she and her husband were at the wedding. We left Atlanta around one in the afternoon on Friday, and what would have regularly been a six hour trip to Louisville promptly turned into a nine hour drive considering we were riding with three kids all under the age of five. The two highlights of the drive: stopping for dinner at a great barbecue place on the outskirts of Nashville, and finally making it to the house we had rented. Little ones were put to bed and water was put in the kettle for a nice relaxing cup of tea--the perfect ending to a long day on the road. Combine that with A Storm of Swords and a big bed and I was definitely content to spend my first night in Kentucky.

The next morning, we loaded up the van and drove towards downtown Louisville for breakfast at Lynn's Paradise Café per the suggestion of David's Kentuckian friend. And it definitely lived up to its reviews! This goofy restaurant was decked out in crazy, brightly colored paraphernalia, and after scouring the menu for a solid ten minutes, I settled on the Bourbon Ball French Toast. When the food was placed before me, I was face-to-face with a plateful of four slabs of cinnamon swirl French toast, topped with bourbon vanilla custard, chocolate sauce, strawberries, sugared pecans, and mounds of whipped cream. I essentially had dessert for breakfast and could only finish two slices because it was so rich.

Later in the day, we escaped the 100+ degree heat by going to the Louisville Science Center. It was a small disappointment for David and me since we weren't expecting it to essentially be a giant playpen for children, but there were some interesting things to look at and play with that appeased the kids in us too :)

Enter the babysitting extravaganza. In a nutshell, it was a giant six-hour nightmare, and I can say with confidence that I am nowhere near ready to have my own children. It was joked later that we could sell babysitting jobs to high schoolers and college students as a means of birth control. Seriously. I was not more grateful for putting the kids to bed and for when the whole thing was over. As soon as David's sister and brother-in-law got home, David and I went straight to Kroger to buy ice cream and beer, and we unwinded by watching a hilariously bad Sci Fi movie and consuming our loot. A greatly needed ending to a crazy night.

Wrapping up the trip was a visit to Mammoth Cave National Park on our way back to Atlanta. It was a little unnerving, the temperature difference between the scorching heat outside and the cool dampness inside the cave, but it all added to the dark, eerie atmosphere. We only took the short, self-guided tour since we were eager to get home, but it was cool to see such an old and magnificent part of the Earth. Overall, the visit was a much needed break from the car and a perfect ending to my first trip to Kentucky.