Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day #8037 - LEEP Write Run

Hey there, readership! I promised you a slightly more detailed account of my birthday, though there's honestly not a whole lot to say. After a good run on the treadmill in the morning, I spent a good portion of the day at the library checking out the children's books I need to have read for my class next week and taking notes on them. Came home, had lunch, and after I got myself satisfactorily organized for the semester, continued on my quest to finish re-reading all 7 of the Harry Potter books. (FYI I finished Deathly Hallows Tuesday around 2pm because I took my time, thus ending my 4,100 page journey.) My grandma, her sister, and my bro's gf came over for dinner, there were some hockey-themed gifts (!!!), and then my next door neighbors joined us for cake. Their 6 year old daughter drew me a lovely card and told me that the picture on the front was what she thinks I'll look like in my wedding dress - I tell ya, kids say the darndest things and it was adorable so I couldn't help but smile. But honestly, I very ordinary day and that's what made it so good.

So what else is new besides being 22? My grad school classes started yesterday (I'm in what's called the LEEP program through U of I) - I've had two 2-hour lectures online so far, and I think they've gone pretty well. So far I'm interested, which is a good start. I'm proud of myself for staying on top of the readings so far and keeping organized - not so difficult right now because the projects haven't started yet, but hey, baby steps.

In addition to my many hours of reading and notetaking, I've found a revived love for my journal. Pages and pages of ramblings can be good for the soul, and plus I've adopted the use of multi-colored pens which just makes it even that much more fun.

And then there's the running. Now I would not call myself an athlete by any definition - mostly I take advantage of the treadmill in my basement because I know I should take care of myself (especially given my high Nutella intake). But yesterday, my friend Heidi convinced me to register do do the Mad Dash on Madison 5K sponsored by the Blackhawks downtown next month. It's coming up quick, September 18th, and I haven't done a 5K in over two years. For the last two days, I've run a mile and a half on the treadmill which is big news for me, but I can't even remember the last time I ran outside. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited. It gives me something to work on everyday that I won't get graded on, and it feels good to run after sitting and doing homework and online lectures during the day. All in all, good times.

So that's it from Wednesday. Keep it classy, readers, and until next time...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day #8035 - Birthday Blog!

Getting this in just under the wire!

Reader's Digest version for now:
Yesterday I was 21. Today I'm 22. Was a completely ordinary day, and because that was the case, one of the better birthdays I've had in a long time because I didn't hype it up before hand. Good times.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day #8034 - Another Year Gone

In just under an hour and a half, my life as a 21 year old will be over. I know that a lot of people joke that turning 22 means your life ends because it really means you're an adult (because now you've had a year of legal drinking, which means you ought to be more responsible about life), but I have mixed feelings. It has been one crazy year.

It's hard to believe that this time last year, I had just moved in to Barton Hall, yet to experience the joys of CI403, and the chaos that is student teaching was still five months away. It feels like all of that was so much longer than a year behind me. So being 21 was full of big changes - legal life, a temporary return to dorm life, leaving the campus that had been my home for the last three and a half years, surviving a semester as "Miss Fuma - Student Teacher", graduating from college, changing my life plan and starting my master's degree, a new puppy, travels near and far, I could go on and on and on. There have been plenty of ups and downs, many of which have been documented either here or in my journal, but I made it. We're back here again.

So I should be hitting the sack soon seeing as tomorrow, in addition to being my birthday, is also the first day of the new school year. My classes don't actually start meeting until Tuesday, but I'm going to go to the library and try to get ahead on some homework anyway. So so long, 21. It's been quite an interesting time to say the least. Catch you on the flip side.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day #8033 - Stuck in the Middle

I have a confession for you, readership. While my love of Harry Potter is deep and true, a factoid that I'm sure many of you have no doubt picked up on by now, I must admit that I love some of the books rather more than others. Not that I could necessarily pick a favorite novel from the series (I like different things from different books for different reasons), but I can say without a moment's hesitation that my least favorite would have to be book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I don't really know what it is about this book, but it's always seemed to rub me a bit wrong. Like an itch right in the middle of my back that I can't reach, but I force myself to keep trying for it anyway. It is by far the longest book in the series, too, so the fact that it is the hardest for me emotionally to get through is only amplified. There's teen angst. There's awkwardness. There are people refusing to and unable to understand where others are coming from. Maybe I have such a hard time with this novel because it reminds me way too much of myself.

Except, I can't say that I dislike the whole thing. I love the parts about Dumbledore's Army and when Fred and George decide to leave school in style. But mostly, my favorite part of the book is the final 120 pages. These last chapters are easily the most depressing as well due to the death of a loved character, the revelation of a sad prophecy, the start of a war, and the somber note it ends on with all of the characters facing uncertain futures. However, after 740 pages of wanting to punch something and feeling as frusturated as Harry himself, the last eighth of the book is so beautifully and poignantly written, I don't mind that the subject matter is on the sad side. In fact, I've always been able to connect with Harry most strongly at this point in the series. Now that I've just finished the novel, I feel exhausted but at the same time relieved because the I know the next two books are literary masterpieces, at least in my opinion, and truly reveal the genius of JK Rowling's imagination, planning, and story telling.

Also, the last time I set out to read the whole series was right before the 7th book came out and I cheated by watching the 5th movie rather than reading the book because I was running short on time. But not this time!

So here's to having 5 books down, 2 to go! Keep it classy readers!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day #8032 - Back in the Saddle

Don't worry, readers. For those of you who have met me and my incredible clumsiness, never fear - I am speaking figuratively, not literally. I am not actually talking about riding horses (though that would be a fun time). I'm referring to the fact that the dawn of a new school year is upon us once again. Or at least, upon me.

Though my classes don't actually start meeting until next Tuesday, I've been spending this week doing all of the required reading that has to be completed prior to each of the first lectures. Who ever thought I'd be grateful for homework? The start of the school year is perfectly timed, because I have just about gotten to the point where I was running out of ideas of how to fill my days productively, especially given my lack of employment at the moment.

And this time, I'm determined to do better. My summer class and 10-day boot camp down in Champaign showed me several things about this program. For starters, this is NOT undergrad - the readings are longer, more challenging, and the professors will be expecting much more of me. Secondly, this really is something I want to excel at. I never took notes on the readings for my summer class, and that was a mistake. By the time I got to campus, all the different articles felt like they had melted into one big confusing puddle in my head. But not this time. This time, I will be organized. Finally, my focus and attention levels need to stay high. Starting next week, I will be going to the library to do my school work. Quiet, big tables, and not being able to wander to the refrigerator every time I'm tired of reading is exactly what I need.

In other news, I'm 100 pages into book 5 (Order of the Phoenix) in my Harry Potter reading marathon. Those 2 days of being sick really threw me off my game, but I think I may still have a shot. It'll be close and maybe it's not going to happen, but if I finish the series before my birthday ends Monday at midnight, I'll consider this a rousing success haha

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day #8028 - I Get Knocked Down

Let me tell you, readers, when I get sick, I seem to get knocked down to the floor. Not fun to say the least. At least with colds you can usually feel it coming, but I have no idea what's gotten to me. I wasn't able to sleep at all last night due to this continuous feeling like I was getting punched in the stomach, which has been continuing all day combined with a headache to boot. Oh the joys of summer. I'm more bummed because I was excited to run and get back into my regular workout routine, but I think if it were possible, my head would kill me if I tried.

It brings my thoughts back to the saying "be careful what you wish for." How many times in college did I probably wish, 'If only I could stay in bed all day.' Maybe on a rainy Saturday afternoon watching movies and I had no homework or other obligations, but being in bed all day not feeling well and knowing you have a to-do list waiting for you just sucks the fun out of the whole experience. I just printed out my syllabuses for my classes this fall and I already need to start my readings that need to be done for my first days of classes next week. So I better feel better by tomorrow, or else I'm still going to drag myself to the library and convince myself that I'm fine. Will power, baby!

Here's hoping all of you are doing well, readership. Stay healthy!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day #8026 - When the Universe Speaks

Let me tell you, readers, I've always been a bit on the fence when comes to the idea of believing in "signs." I mean, I'm a fairly religious and spiritual person, but the idea that the universe or God is trying to show me signs about my life has always been a difficult for me, usually because they're so subtle that I probably miss most of them.

However, sometimes (like right now), the universe will choose to speak quite clearly. Last night, on my way home from being out, I stopped by the house of someone I was friends with in high school because he's in town for the weekend. Now, this person and I have had a fairly blundersome relationship to say the least - a lot of headaches were involved and hurt feelings especially back in high school, but ever since going our separate ways to different colleges and states, it's been different. We rarely talk, except for once or twice a year when we're in the same state at the same time. It's always been difficult for me to let this friendship go because it used to not be so ridiculous, but at the same time I always know that I'm better off without this part of my life dragging on. This knowledge doesn't make the choice I have to continually make any easier, though.

That is, until now. Like I said, I was on my way home when I stopped by this person's house and we got to talking. It was a nice talk and everything (we mainly discussed sports, a safe topic) and then when it was time to go, I saw that the universe had spoken VERY CLEARLY - someone had egged my car. ROTTEN EGGS THROWN AT MY CAR!! Not good. I told my family about it, washed my car this morning, and am incredibly pissed that the egg shell actually chipped the paint on one of my doors. Anyway, I firmly believe that this was probably the work of some drunk teenagers, but also the universe telling me, "STOP! When will you realize, Monica, that you need to let this go!?!" Well, I have gotten the message loud and clear and have the marks on my car to prove it. Time to make peace with this and move on. As if that alone weren't enough of a sign, I got a facebook message from another acquaintance I haven't heard from in a long time and I was so glad to. Time to move forward :o).

And when in doubt, egging someone's car is NEVER a good idea.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day #8024 - Page by Page

There's an old saying that says, "Idle hands are the devil's handywork," meaning that if you have nothing to do, you'll get into trouble. At the moment, it's a sentiment that I can certainly understand. With just under a week and a half before school starts again, I am surprised to find myself with so much free time, yet not much to do. I make my daily calls to try and to register my teaching certificate in my region (but that's a story for another day) so that I can finish my applications to become a substitute teacher. I'm getting back into the habit of running in the morning and all that jazz. I've even been practicing my guitar and sounding slightly less terrible. Yet there is still a lot of open time in my days, at least for the next week and a half anyway.

All of this has led me to my crazy goal. In the last week and a half, I have read three novels. More like flew through them, actually. So I've set up a challenge for myself - to reread all 7 Harry Potter books before my birthday and the first day of school on the 23rd. Is it completely ridiculous? Oh heck yes. But given the current state of funk that I've been stuck in for a while, I think these novels could be just the boost I need to snap me out of it. It's been several years since I've read them, so it also makes for a nice trip down memory lane. I can remember where I was they days I got each of these books, even the first one which I got in 1999.

So wish me luck, readers, as I attempt to dive into this magical world all over again. Anything to distract me from the crazy high temperatures and humidity we've been getting here in Chicagoland! Yeesh!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day #8022 - From Under the Sea to Under the Weather

Before you jump to conclusions given the title of today's blog, no I am not sick. My back is slightly stiff as of late if I'm sitting on my bed reading for long periods of time, but other than that I'm pretty much fine. The one who is under the weather is the newest member of my family, our maltipoo, Addison Lynn Rae.

It makes me so sad to see Addy not feeling well, especially when she has come so far in the few months she's been with us. She's only about 6 months old, but recently she has made such huge leaps. She's finally trained to go outside, she's stopped biting, she's more responsive to her name, she's so much fun to play with. Especially since summer school ended, I've been particularly conscious of my lack of social life. As a result, when I'm not burrying myself in reading books I've come to consider my journal and Addy my best friends - they are always there, and with Addy I can always count on her affection and silly antics to put a smile on my face. It made me so happy when she was excited to see me when we went to pick her up in Milwaukee a few days ago, so I'm naturally crushed that she's got some sort of bug and according to the vet, there's nothing in particular we can really do for her right now other than hope she responds to the medication and hope this works itself out of her system.

So here are my two cents - for those of you who have never had a pet, you may fully understand what I mean when I say that a pet is a member of the family. But it's true - Addy is my sister, and while she will never take the place of Lizzie, my family's Yorkshire Terrier who passed away 7 years ago, Addy has made her own place in my heart and continually brings a smile to my face during this new part of my life. So people, take care of your pets. They may make us crazy sometimes, but they will love you unconditionally if you just show them some affection, too.