Friday, December 31, 2010

Day #8165 - Another Year Ends

I don't really know why, but it seems like the general consensus is that people are more than fine with seeing 2010 come to an end. I suppose that overall I would be part of that faction as well. Now don't get me wrong- I am incredibly aware and grateful for the many blessings I have had this year, but I'm also feeling very good about keeping my eyes forward for what 2011 has in store for me. So now, without further adieu, I'll be doing a quick look at 2010's many events in my life.

January - Along with a new year, January brought the start of my adventures in student teaching at Hersey High School. Little did I realize how much my sophomores and seniors would come to change my life over the next few months, in many ways for the better.

February - My 21 1/2 birthday and a trip to the Chicago Auto Show on Single Awareness Day.

March - Spring break road trip to St. Louis with Gail was full of fun times. When I got home, Addison Lynn Rae Fumarolo , a Maltese-Poodle mix, joined our family.

April - Right now, nothing is jumping out about April. I assume it's because I was probably up to my eyeballs in grading and lesson plans.

May - I find myself sad to be saying goodbye to my students and my role as their teacher, but am excited to graduate from college! BA in English, minor in secondary school teaching, and countless memories.

June - An event 49 years in the making, the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in overtime during game 6. The sounds of "Chelsea Dagger" filled the air as the cup made its way around. I got to see it for myself in the Elk Grove parade.

July - My adventures in graduate school begin as I start my 2 year journey towards a masters degree with a 10 day class/bootcamp on campus in Champaign, IL. The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the #1 program in the US and has an online program that I'm proud to be a part of.

August - My dad's side of the family takes a memorable vacation to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas aka Hotlantis. Also, I turned 22.

September - Into my first full semester of grad school with a full time course load, I ran the Blackhawks Training Camp 5k and possibly maxed out on my limited athletic ability for the year. But it was so much fun to hang out with friends and the shirts were great!

October - Made my way down to the UC for my classes' on-campus weekend. Fun times with friends and acting like a 22 year old with a social life was great. Not to mention the quack attack was back as I reprised my Charlie Conway Halloween costume for the 2nd year in a row.

November - Fall break and the holiday season finally arrive and with much hard work and dedication, I regain the ability to touch my toes. The final Harry Potter movie part 1 comes out and blows my mind (along with the trailer for Cowboys and Aliens).

December - Semester 1 is complete and a complete success! Finish my final projects, spend time with family and friends, and my first Blackhawks game cap off the year. To my delight, we had a white Christmas and got to see the lights downtown.

And there you have it! My year certainly had more going on than that, but these are some of the things that seem to stand out as I look back. So here's wishing everyone out there a very happy new year in 2011. Be safe, be positive, and may nothing but good things come your way. :o)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day #8155 - A Very Snowy Solstice

Well we have finally arrived at one of the most hectic weeks of the year socially, emotionally, and (unfortunately, commercially) financially. With Christmas being on a Saturday this year, it brings about an interesting mindset. It reminds me of a typical work week - everyone with the focused goal of just making it to this weekend and knowing they'll have Sunday to use as a time to recover from the food-coma that may set in.

This first full week off from school was bliss - I actually feel caught up on sleep, I went out and had fun times with good friends, and it still looks like a winter wonderland. I know that not many people who live in the midwest are necessarily fans of the snow and cold, but I love it, and I'm of the mentality that if we do live in a place where it does get so cold, it better look beautiful at the same time. I don't want to see the grass until the end of February. Though we have been dealing with below-freezing temperatures for a while now, today is actually the first day of winter. Happy Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year! From now until June, the days will start getting longer. I am a huge fan of all things solstice and equinox related, so I am excited that today is finally here.

So in case I don't have a chance to write again before the weekend and all its crazyness is upon us, here is wishing everyone a very Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy Solstice. :o)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day #8148 - Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful

And not just the weather, either. Life seems to be in chaos-mode, full force lately. I haven't been able to write here in a while because last week all of my finals were due, and I can now happily say that I have finished my first semester of grad school. All in all, I think it went really well. A bit overwhelming at times, but I really was interested in most of the material, which always helps the time go by faster. I thought semesters flew by in undergrad, but at least those were broken up by sorority dances and football games and weekends going out. Living and taking classes at home kind of made this fall semester go by in one big blur.

Unfortunately, even once I did have the time in my schedule to start blogging again late last week, I didn't feel like I had much to say (or really, had anything I wanted to share with the rest of the world). They've sort of been black cloud days you could call them. Our fence was blown down by the crazy wind a few days ago - this is now the 2nd time in 4 months and since it's so cold, there's nothing that can be done about it until spring. And that's just the tip of the iceberg with things going wonky lately. It's sort of felt like the entire world has been turned upside down.

But then I got to thinking about the most recent episode of Bones. Not one of my favorite episodes, mind you, but there was a metaphor they used in it a few times that I really like. A while back, scientists invented a pair of glasses that turned everything people saw through them upside down. However, after three straight days of wearing the glasses, the brain turned the images right side up. Then when people weren't wearing the glasses, the world looked like it was upside down and it took another three days of being glasses-free for the world to right itself again.

So I guess what I'm saying is that it's easy to get lost in the chaos that seems to inevitably come with the holiday season, whether it's related to the holidays or not. But the important thing to try to do, if you can, is to take a step back. Close your eyes, try to take a deep breath. Things may feel like they can't possibly get any worse, but in time, with some luck and belief in the power of positive thinking, I honestly believe that the world will right itself again. It may not look or be exactly the same, but you'll be able to tell up from down. There is a British poster from WWII that reads "Keep Calm and Carry On" - I suggest we try. In time, things will get better. They have to.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day #8140 - Yule be Singing About What?

The sounds of the holiday season are in the air. Literally. If you're in Chicagoland, just tune into 93.9FM for all your Christmas, holiday, and snow-themed songs of the season. Now I love winter and I love Christmas carols, but you can't deny that some of them are a little brow raising. So let's start off with Monica's Top 3 Creepy Christmas Carols

3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Am I the only one bothered by this song? Especially in the version that sounds like a little kid is singing, almost proudly declaring that he's witnessed his mother cheating. I know some people might argue that in today's society with 50% of marriages ending in divorce, maybe Mommy is single and ready to mingle. But the lyrics clearly bring up the question that Daddy could walk right in at any moment. And what about Mrs. Claus, eh? Some sailors would brag about having a girl in every port, but poor Mrs. Claus could very well be married to a man with women all over the world.

2. Santa Baby
This song kind of reminds me of when Anna Nicole Smith was still alive and married to that millionaire who looked about 100 years old. While it's not uncommon for women to be attracted to older men, but I mean, this song just makes me go "ew." It's skeevy! I hear this and just think, "This girl must have some serious daddy issues" and that if Barney Stinson were real, he'd be taking advantage of her in a heartbeat.

1. Baby It's Cold Outside
Oh how I both love and get mildly creeped out by this song! I love the duet, it's incredibly catchy, and it just screams Rat Pack to me. But the lyrics do have a little bit of a "hey, wait a minute" feel to them. Girl needs to go, boy seems to be concerned for her safety and the fact that it's freezing, girl accepts another drink before she hits the road, girl realizes boy roofied her drink?! Okay maybe not that extreme, but I can easily see the girl coming home the next morning, makeup smudged and hair disheveled, asking her mother to stop yelling because she's got a hangover and is in desperate need of aspirin and some strong coffee. But unlike the other two songs, I'll happily sing along with this one because it's so dang catchy!

Honorable Mention: The Christmas Shoes
Now before you think I'm a horrible person for putting this on my list, let me explain. This song is actually very sweet, telling the story of a poor boy who wants to buy a Christmas present for his dying mother. However, me and some friends in high school believed this was just a cover story and made up an alternate. The little boy is only pretending to need money to buy his mom shoes - in actuality, Mom is a drug addict and has sent her son out to collect money from kind, unsuspecting strangers to help support her habit. What can I say? We were in high school and we thought it was hilarious. So now every time I hear this song, I think about my friends from yesteryear and our theories about what this song might really be about.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day #8137 - Losing a Legend

Two years ago for spring break, my family and I went out to Arizona for vacation. We'd visited a lot of National Parks in years past, but had never yet made it to the Grand Canyon and my dad wanted to make sure me and my brother both got the chance to experience it. It truly was a beautiful sight, but in all honesty, it wasn't what I had been looking forward to the most before we flew west. Because in addition to going to the Grand Canyon, we were also going to Mesa, Arizona - Spring Training Home of the Chicago Cubs.

I still have the baseball I brought to the park that day sitting in a display box on my desk. I don't really know the names of all the players who signed it - their handwriting is illegible and the only one I know for sure is Canadian pitcher Ryan Demptster, my current favorite player if I had to pick one. But his name is scrawled on the side of the ball. The place of honor between the seams facing the top of the box so I can always see it is Ron Santo's autograph.

I can remember the day easily. People were scattered all around the park, holding out baseballs, posters, and pens while calling out the names of players walking by to please autograph whatever they were holding. My brother and I noticed that there was also a line descending from the window of the broadcasting booth where people were waiting for Len, Bob, and Ron. Even though at one point Ron had to leave to do a post-game interview, he promised he'd be back so we continued to wait. What a guy! He was so nice, signed my baseball along with my brother's, and smiled for a picture. I could barely contain my enthusiasm when I got up to the window, pointed to my dad who was watching from a few rows away, and said "You're our dad's favorite player!" and so Ron gave him a smile and a wave.

It's a shame that he never got to go to the World Series during his playing career, nor did he ever see the Cubs get there in his lifetime. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all was that he was never voted into the Hall of Fame while he was still living to celebrate all his many accomplishments. It's amazing how good of a player he was, and to think he did all that he did while also having diabetes is incredible. But with true class, Ron never complained. In fact, when the Cubs retired his number, he said that it meant more to him than the Hall of Fame.

In recent years, younger generations of Cubs fans have grown to love him not as a player, but as one of the most colorful sports commentators if you listened to WGN radio. (I personally loved it when he'd get on random tangents about his cats.) He did so much for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and not even the loss of both of his legs could slow him down.

Chicago and baseball have lost a legend. (Don't forget, he played one season with the White Sox at the end of his career.) Ron Santo was a class act, a heck of a ball player, and he had a personality in a class of its own. So thanks for the many years of memories, Ron. May your family find comfort during this difficult time and may you rest in peace. When the Cubbies finally do win the ultimate prize, I'm sure you'll be cheering the loudest wherever you are.