Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day #7981 Continued - Dollywood?

Well, after 11 hours of driving through Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, my mom and I have finally arrived in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Apparently Dollywood is nearby, but unfortunately I don't think we will have the time to take that in on this particular trip. The drive went fine, nothing too crazy or anything. I think the most "exciting" parts were when we were about halfway through Indiana and suddenly there were hills and then I looked at my cell phone a few hours later and realized that we had in fact changed time zones. I don't know why, but for some reason that hadn't occurred to either of us Tennessee was not only south of Schaumburg, but also far enough east where the time would change too.

I'm already about one-third of the way through "Eat Pray Love" and am really enjoying it so far, though it could largely due to the fact that the first part of the woman's journey takes place in Italy so it was making me homesick for Verona and really good pizza. But in a good way!

Anyway, we're here. I've promised to be on my best behavior and at least attempt to act like, you know, a responsible and respectable young lady. Yeah, I'm laughing on the inside, too...

Day #7981 - Really, really early


It's bizarre - I can wake up and actually get up when my alarm goes off at 4:30am, yet on normal days when it goes off at 7:30, I sleep through it until 9.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day #7980 - On the Road Again

Not going to lie, I wasn't going to blog tonight, but I like that today's day number is at a nice, round, divisible-by-ten state. Yeah...welcome to the inner workings of my mind.

Today was pretty meh. Went out to St. Charles to get my hair trimmed up for the first time since January. Let me tell you, it's almost frightening how slowly my hair grows. That was followed by a trip to Borders, coming home and taking notes for my essay, and then packing for the road trip I will be starting in roughly six hours. Woooooot. So not the most action packed of days, but I'll take it.

In other news, I rediscovered both my high school blog as well as my blog from my early years of college. Wow. I'm not even sure that I would have been friends with me, so to anyone who was, even if only for a little while, my sincere thanks. I'd like to think I've grown up since then and while my primary forms of humorous expression still seem to be sarcasm and self deprecation, at least now I'm saying it only when it's actually funny to people other than just me.

One thing I've been able to rekindle this summer already is my love of reading books that are not assigned for homework, but are just fun. I recently finished rereading the novel Austenland (a great read for any fellow Jane Austen addicts out there like myself) and started rereading Pride & Prejudice in the car to St. Charles. However, P&P isn't exactly roadtrip reading, so while I was at Borders I bought the memoir Eat Pray Love - total chick book, but I've heard wonderful things about it. I've always loved biographies and memoirs, and as a bonus, this woman was traveling - she lived in Italy for four months, then India for another four, then spent the remainder of the year in Bali. I'm feeling good about this book.

Well, I should really get to bed. Though I am absolutely a morning person, waking up at 4:30 is still really, really early...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day #7977 - A Few Random Firsts

Why hello there, my few (but hopefully faithful) readers! I know it's been a few days, but lately I have actually been busy! It's crazy, I know, but it happened. Not really doing much out of the ordinary, though there are a few milestones that I have hit that have kept me away from writing here.

First off, I finally finished all of the required reading for my first grad school class! Now you're probably sitting there thinking 'so what? You were an English major - reading is what you do.' Well please let me elaborate. The course that I'm taking right now asks us to do all of the reading before we have to go to Champaign for what the school calls our 10-day "bootcamp" of a class that ends with a final exam. Rather than reading all of these articles on my computer screen, I had them printed and they now fill two 2" binders that are sitting on my dresser. It took me a few weeks, but I finally finished reading them all yesterday, and I'm feeling pretty good as a result. I still have a 500 word paper due before bootcamp in July which will require me to go back and re-read two articles, but I've left myself a comfortable cushion to get that done.

Another thing that I finally completed yesterday, for the first time ever in my life, was a journal. I've tried keeping a journal at multiple times, mostly during junior high, high school, and college, but I would usually only stick with it for a few weeks or months, then get bored or come up with excuses about why I was too busy to write and eventually just stop. Then when I would rediscover the notebook several weeks or months later, I'd usually rip out the pages I had written before (deeming their contents ridiculous and making me cringe) and then start the process all over again. But this journal was different, at least in the fact that I did not keep ripping pages out. I started writing in it on January 1, 2008 so it only took me two and a half years to fill the whole thing, but I think better late than never. It's a little terrifying to look over at my bookshelf and see this hard cover notebook and know that it is filled cover to cover with my thoughts. So even though I finished writing in it, I don't think I'll go back and read it anytime soon for fear of some major cringing and an over-use of the Awkward Starfish.

Other than that, it's business as usual. I went out to St. Charles to visit my friend Katie which was so much fun. She made dinner and we proceeded to watch an MTV documentary about Courtney Love (she has had quite a life) and then switching channels between Will & Grace and The Golden Girls. It was so great to hang out with her, and I'm not just saying that because of my current state of hermit-dom. It also felt great to just get out and drive - nothing quite like wide open spaces getting away from the more crowded suburbs with the sunroof open and the sounds of James Taylor and Carole King streaming out of my stereo - it was a great summer moment.

Keep reading! Sorry for the ramblings, but I really didn't know what to talk about this time. Maybe it'll be better tomorrow, but you'll have to come back to find out :o)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day #7973 - Shades of Beige

Last week, I finally went to see the movie Letters to Juliet with my mother. While it follows the predictable plot line that most romantic comedies use (and I'm a complete sucker for most of the time), this was a movie I wanted to see for different reasons. The second line of William Shakespeare's famous play declares that "In fair Verona, where we lay our scene." Verona, Italy of course being where I studied abroad two years ago and the whole reason that I started this blog in the first place. I was so excited to see this movie even if the story was terrible just because I wanted to see that skyline and the piazzas blown up on the big screen. However, the way that certain aspects of my beloved city and its citizens were portrayed irked me a bit - not a whole lot, but just enough where I felt it warranted space here.

First off, Juliet's courtyard and the letters that started it all. It's actually true that people from all over the world for over a century have been leaving letters for Juliet at her tomb, beneath her balcony, and mailing them to Verona from all over the world seeking her advice (or really, the wisdom of her secretaries). However, the movie bases its whole plot on the fact that every night the letters are removed from the walls of her courtyard - now when I was there, this wasn't done. People are no longer allowed to stick their notes and letters to the walls because they were finding that the chewing gum people were using as an adhesive was ruining the stones. In addition to this fallacy, there were the scenes that took place here. First of all, every time I was ever at the courtyard it was always PACKED with tourists - not exactly the sort of "off the beaten path" setting that the movie made it out to be. And benches for women to sit at while they sobbed and wrote letters? Yeah, not so much. I understand the need for these changes/inaccuracies - it makes for a cuter scene, a better shot, a good plot point. It's the same way that movies show people going to the Trevi Fountain in Rome and it's completely deserted except for the characters - yeah right, like that would ever happen in reality.

Also, while it is true that Italians love soccer, that doesn't mean there are always boys in the street kicking around a soccer ball. I feel like I have now seen this in every movie that's supposed to take place in Italy.

However, none of this bugged me quite as much as the color palate that the costume designer chose for this particular motion picture. Everyone was wearing beige, all the time! Beige, cream, khakis, pastels - if it was light and kind of bland, that's the color they were wearing. And not just the principle cast, but the extras too! I couldn't help but laugh and cry a little bit at the same time - the Italy I went to and the Verona I have pictures of are filled with explosions of COLOR, and vibrant ones at that. Again, I'm sure it was so people weren't clashing all over the place on screen, but I couldn't believe that such a blah color palate was used to show people in the land of love, life, and passion. But I guess que sera, sera, no?

So that's my rambling for this evening. Not exactly an issue of substance, but something I just felt like throwing out there. I'll get better at this with more time, I hope :o)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day #7972 - The Longest Day

Happy Summer Solstice!

Now for those of you who either don't know me or haven't been paying attention, I have an awkward love for anything to do with either solstice or equinox - they make for four wonderful times of the year to celebrate. June 21st means different things to different people - it's (technically) the first day of summer, it's the longest day of the year in terms of hours we have of sunlight, it's the anniversary of the release of the 5th Harry Potter book, etc. Whichever you choose to acknowledge, from now until December 21st, the days will be getting ever so slightly shorter. Also, I know that the whole myth about being able to stand an egg on its end is something that actually goes along with the Spring and Winter Equinox, but I did it today during dinner. Pictures will be coming soon, never fear.

Let me just fill you in a little bit on the crazyness that has been this weekend. Friday there was a storm that came through - not a huge one, but apparently enough to knock out our power. After 56 hours of no electricity, it finally came back last night (of course, right after I had brought my computer and phone over to my grandparents' house so that I might charge everything up, update this for you the readership, and check facebook. Clearly I have my priorities in order).

On a brighter note, Saturday was a day for the ages. While at Woodfield Mall with my mom in search of an acceptable Father's Day present for Dad, we could not help but notice the huge crowd that had formed outside Field of Dreams and the entorage of mall security flanking the door. Seriously, I did not know that Woodfield even employed that many guards. Anyway, upon reading the sign outside the storefront we saw that they were expecting two athletes to come and do autograph signing. About two minutes later who should come down the escalator but Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg of the CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS!!! I was quite excited, I've never seen any members of the team before other than on tv because I've never been to a game. It was really cool. As if that wasn't enough hockey goodness for one day in the off season, later on Mom, Dad, Steven and I went over to Elk Grove for the Rotary Fest parade. I ran into some people from high school which was awesome because it wasn't awkward and then we staked out prime spots on the curb for the main event. As part of his designated day with the trophy, John McDonough decided to share it with his neighbors. I could barely contain my enthusiasm as I saw the STANLEY CUP with my own eyes on a float with "Chelsea Dagger" playing in the background. Yes, pictures were taken - my current facebook pic is me standing in the street grinning like a fool with the Cup behind me. And it wasn't just me - the street was full of Hawks fans and even the rest of my family could not deny how it cool it was to be so close. When the float stopped, the mayor said some nice words as did Mr. McDonough and then that was that. It was nice to have something fun happen in the middle of our power outage.

Father's Day was yesterday, and so I must give a shoutout to my own amazing DAD - You Rock! KB!! We were supposed to have people over here, but we were still without power so instead we brought the party over to Grandma and Grandpa's where the Curtis "funeral" took place, Bocci ball was played, we rolled down the hill, and all around good times were had. Finally after we got home, the lights came on around 9:30. A nice way to end the weekend.

So that's all that's been happening really in my world, loyal readers! Please keep the comments coming - it makes such a difference to know if anybody is looking at this thing. And if there's ever a topic or random factoid on which you'd like to hear my ramblings, please let me know! Bring on those emails and enjoy the rest of your solstice!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day #7969 - For Curtis, A Eulogy

Originally Written on June 18, 2010

It pains me to write this for it is a day I had hoped would never come. However, for the last few weeks, I have been unable to continue ignoring the signs that our time together would soon be coming to an end. It is for a truly remarkable being that I write this eulogy: for Curtis, my Halloween Pumpkin.

It feels like only yesterday that Curtis became a part of my life. In the town of Savoy, IL, it was early in the month of October with the chill of autumn in the air. Out of all the others, there he was. An appropriate size, perfectly round, and Illini orange, I knew he was the one for me. He came back with me to Champaign and using my paint-pens, I gave him a face. We've been together ever since.

Curtis was an ideal roommate and companion. He never made a mess, was never needy or demanding, and always had a smile on his face to greet me after a long day at class. We were nearly separated in December - it was time for me to move back to Schaumburg. He sat by as I packed, keeping out of my way as I organized everything in my own way. Before long, my room was empty, the van was packed, and it was time to go. It was that a day when we almost had to say goodbye forever - Mom was about to throw him out in the hall garbage when I suddenly cried out, "You can't kill Curtis!" It wasn't until this moment almost two months after he became a part of my life that I finally gave him a name in honor of Curtis Orchard where he had come from. It was decided that he too could come north to Schaumburg and to continue to support me as good friends are supposed to do.

When I later learned that the name Curtis means "courteous," I thought it was a fitting choice for my vege-friend. He has become to me what Wilson the Volleyball was to Tom Hanks's character in the movie Cast Away. He has been so much more to me than just some inanimate object - he has been by my side through one of the most trying and exhausting challenges of my life - student teaching. Day after day, it was so nice that Curtis would be sitting quietly waiting for me.

It was only really in recent weeks that he started to take a turn for the worse - a seemingly minor spot on his otherwise flawless orange complexion began to develop into an unhealthy looking growth. What was once a blemish became a large and squishy orifice on his forehead. It is time for his suffering to end and for Curtis to be welcomed back by the Great Pumpkin to that giant pumpkin patch in the sky. You have been loved, Curtis, and you will be missed.

*EDIT - JUNE 20, 2010*
A video recorded by my brother of Curtis's send off, if you could really call it that...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day #7968 - And I'm back in the blogosphere

Hello there, friends and hypothetical readers!

I'm sitting here trying to think of an excuse that would actually sound believable to explain my one-year absence from this, my blog, but really nothing comes to mind. Sure there's the standard 'I have been so busy lately, I never had time,' but I'm always busy or at least pretending to be so that wouldn't work. I could go ahead and try to justify not writing here this past semester by blaming student teaching and saying that I didn't want to hurt my professional reputation and was afraid that my students would find this or something, but again, who are we kidding? No no, for this one I'll just have to go with the truth - I had accepted/come to believe that the only people reading this were my parents and the writer in me had been hoping to reach a wider audience. A break was necessary to regroup and hopefully this comeback will bring some people back, at least for a time. And if not, meh. That's okay, too. I've kind of missed spewing my random thoughts out into the great void that is the World Wide Web and then waiting to see what could possibly become of it. (I absolutely blame the Julie & Julia Project for that idea - I saw the movie and am unfortunately one of those people who seems to be a sucker for Nora Ephron movies.)

So! Twelve months is kind of a long time to be quiet, so I'll just give the reader's digest version of what I've been up to. Last summer I was never able to find a job or internship, however I was a Vacation Bible School counselor in August, which was fun. I finally turned 21, just in time for my senior year of college. Fall semester went well for the most part - living in a single room in Barton Hall was fine, though kind of lonely especially after being in the apartment with two roommates the year before, but it worked out since I was almost always up to my eyeballs in homework. I moved back home in December after final exams and student taught at a high school for 14 weeks. It's still difficult to answer when people ask me "What did you think of student teaching?" On the one hand, I loved getting to know my students - I have always felt that high school students have some of the most interesting perspectives on things (when you can get them to actually focus on what it is you're trying to teach them). On the other hand, it was really hard to get up day after day knowing that they did not like me, they did not think of me as their "real teacher", and being a person who has always had a hard time making friends, it was especially hard on me to be away from the ones I had while they were still at school and living it up during our final weeks as college students. But hey, I survived! I graduated last month, not all of my kids completely hated me (I hope!), and to say that my four years of college flew by is a huge understatement. If I could go back and do it all again, there are plenty of things I would change, but overall I think I turned out alright.

Which leaves us only with the present. What am I up to now? Still unemployed - some things never change. I applied to a lot of school districts last semester as well as around town for part-time work, however no luck. Hopefully I'll find something sooner rather than later, but I currently have my plate pretty full with GRADUATE SCHOOL. That's right, folks, I just can't get enough of learning. I applied to the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at U of I back in February (which is ranked as the #1 library school in the country) and I found out in May that I got in. I'm doing the program all online (at least, that is the plan for now) and am already up to my eyeballs in reading homework, but I think this will be a good fit for me.

In other news, my social life continues to be non-existent, my room is actually clean for the first time in forever, and I am slowly but surely getting my guitar skills back from last summer. Oh, and my boys, the Chicago Blackhawks, won the Stanley Cup! I'm sad that hockey season is over, but watching them all year was honestly one of the biggest helps in getting me through student teaching. Now if only the Cubbies could take a leaf out of that book...

So that's it for now, I suppose. I'm sure you're all terribly excited that I'm back online and I really do plan on making this a regular sort of column again. I think that's how I'm going to treat this, at least for a while, and see how it goes - sort of a random topic of the day. Thoughts? Send me your comments, per favore!!