Archive | May, 2010

Three Day Weekend

30 May

The last few days have been quite busy! Lots of things going on at work and in my personal life.

On Thursday I had breakfast with Katie before work. It was so nice to see her – it’s been so long! It’s still so weird to see friends who are married. I don’t feel old enough for that. When I finally made it to work, we did a sheep heart disection workshop at the Museum. I was so glad to learn how to do it the real way, and not the weird method the official lab guide tells you to do. I feel a lot better about doing them now. Let’s just hope that sheep hearts are the only thing people want to dissect! Otherwise I’ll have to learn all the other things soon…

That afternoon I packed up all the Outreach stuff and headed up to Abingdon for the Mother and Child Exo. This was one of those events where you go and set up a booth and promote your business or service. I took all the Museum info with me, as well as the gecko and the cockcroaches. It’s usually just the gecko with me, but I had the cockroaches as well for a program the next day. Kids always love meeting those animals – they’re usually a big hit! I’m surprised the gecko puts up with as much as she does – she’s got to be the most patient animal in the world. Anyway, it was a pretty successful event, I think. There were lots of people there, but the music was so loud! That’s the one thing that kind of made the day long for me. That, and the fact that I didn’t get home til about 9. And didn’t get to eat dinner til then, either.

Friday morning I went to a school in Kingsport and did the Creepy Crawlies program. It was their last day of school, so the kids were pretty excited about what was going on. They had some face painting going on somewhere in the school – several of the kids came into my programs with all kinds of random stuff on their faces. They were using up some field trip money they didn’t get to spend earlier in the year; with all the snow we had, they had to miss a field trip one day, so they had that money left over. So, they called up the Museum and wanted to have the gecko and the roaches come out for the kids to meet. As usual, there were plenty of kids who were really into the animals, and those who didn’t want anything to do with lizards or bugs. I have to admit, I kind of like doing that program. I’m not a huge cockroach fan, but they kind of grow on you. They’re creepy, for sure, but they’re harmless. And you just get used to handling them.

That night Amanda, Nikki and I went out for dinner at Scratch, which is this little store that sells brick-oven pizzas and is only open on the weekends. It’s in a an old house downtown, and it’s so tiny! There were only five, maybe six tables inside, and not much room to move around. They’ve been there for a while, and my mom and I always said we wanted to go down there and try it out, but we never did. We decided the other day that we would get together and have dinner there on Friday. We ordered a Trust pizza, which basically means you tell the guys at the counter you don’t care what they put on the pizza – you just want to be surprised and want them to have full creativity! I don’t remember what all we got on ours – some kind of ham or proscuitto or capicola, onions, olives, tomatoes, spinach, and lots of cheese – but it was delicious! I love creative pizza toppings. We had a really nice time at dinner.

Saturday was quite memorable. My cousin, Carrie, got married in the early afternoon. It was a tiny little wedding – there couldn’t have been more than 50 people there. It was my dad’s side of the family, who we barely see or talk to. So most of the people there I’d met before, but not many times, and didn’t really remember all that well. It was a nice wedding – not exactly my taste – but not as awkward as I was expecting. Carrie is 20 – the same age as my brother, which just blows my mind. So basically, out of all my cousins, James and I are the only ones who are not married and/or have no kids. I guess we’re a little behind…

Today we went out to the lake on my dad’s boat. It’s bout time – I haven’t been out there all summer yet! There were tons of people out on the lake today; being Memorial Day weekend, I knew there would be a lot of people out there today. We had a really nice time. It was pretty hot, but we jumped off the boat and swam around for a while. Until the fish started biting us! My dad was still in the boat fishing a little bit, and those tiny minnows started nipping at me and my mom. It didn’t really hurt that much, but just got more and more annoying. So swimming got cut short a little bit. I was really dumb and didn’t wear any sunscreen today. I don’t know why I do that to myself – i guess I was just in a hurry today. I don’t do well in the sun, which is so unfair because everyone else in my family tans like crispy bread. But me? I just turn out to be a sore, blistering tomato. I just don’t understand how that gene missed me. Both my parents, my brother, and both sets of grandparents all tan really well, and don’t really get sunburned. I can’t go out into the sun for any amount of time without sunscreen. Yeah, I know I should technically always wear it just for good protection, but I hardly ever do. It’s just not fair. So anyway, now I’m sitting at home with a burning back, chest, and arms. I guess I’m going to be paying the price for this for a while.

My dad and I had dinner and margaritas at the Mexican restaurant he loves so much. This is the second time this weekend he’s eaten there, and the third day in a row he’s had quesadillas for dinner. If I were to guess his favorite food, I think I could safely put money on that… I’ve definitely eaten well this weekend – so much good, rich food in the past three days! I really need to get back on the bandwagon with my eating right and exercising. I haven’t been keeping up with it the past few days. I don’t feel terrible, but I need to get out of my rut. A little vacation has been nice, though.

I’m in the middle of baking some cookies at the moment. I’m trying a new recipe I found online, for Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. They look delicious! I’ll let you know how they turn out. I’m pretty excited about the combination of caramel, chocolate, and sea salt. And you make them in a muffin top pan, so they’re nice and thick and chewy. I can’t wait to try them. My first batch didn’t turn out great – I overfilled the muffin pan so the cookies were really hard to get off the pan. But I’ve since improved them a little, so hopefully these last batches will turn out better. I just love baking!

I’m having quite a lovely three-day weekend, and a much-needed break! I’ve worked hard this whole month, so I’m so glad to have a few days off to do absolutely nothing!

This is What my Heart Looks Like:

28 May

An all-time favorite food:

Insert Clever Title Here

26 May

I’m back in the office today after two days of being out at schools doing programs. It’s nice to have a day off – well, not really a day off, because I’m in the office today – but it’s nice to just have some time at the Museum to catch up on some work, respond to emails, return phone calls, and prepare for programs. That’s what I’m doing today – it’s a low-key day for me, and I’m just getting caught up on things I can’t do when I’m out on the road doing programs. I’ve spent most of the day working on my new Art Around the World program. I’m starting that series here in about two weeks for Girls Inc, as part of some grant funding we have but haven’t used up yet. I’m developing eight different sessions for the series, all talking about art in different countries – places that don’t really follow the Western ideal of art and expression. It should be really fun and interesting for the girls, and hopefully I’ll learn a few things, too!

Monday I was out at South Central doing BioFuels. I’m pretty sure I can do that program in my sleep now. And even by myself – we used to take two people do it, but with me being in charge of Outreach now, it’s usually just me by myself. Yesterday I was back out at the same school to do the sheep heart dissection again. I really hope I’m doing it right, because it seems really messy. I’m supposed to be helping out with a sheep heart workshop at the Museum tomorrow, so I’ll definitely learn how it’s done for real. We’ve been getting ready for that today, so hopefully it will go OK for us. We were planning to do it back in February, for National Heart Month, but it got snowed out that day – and then every single day we rescheduled it for several months! Seeing as it’s the end of May now, I really hope we don’t have more snow tomorrow. I think at that point we should just give up on it!

I’m excited about tomorrow – even though it will be a long, busy day – because I’m having breakfast with Katie! It will be an early morning, but breakfast was the only time this week we could get together! She’s moving to Birmingham this weekend, so I don’t know when I’ll see her next. We’ve been trying to get together forever, and I haven’t even seen her since the wedding. She’s always been such a good friend, so I’m excited to see her soon.

I finally got to go to yoga tonight, after weeks of not going. I can tell that I’ve lost some of my flexibility since I’m out of practice. It was nice to go and de-stress; I always feel so relaxed and re-energized when I leave. That’s the thing I love so much about it – that after a long, stressful day, I can go and just chill out, and get a second wind. Not that I could run a marathon or anything after, but I just have a new sense of energy and forget about the busyness of my day. I’ve really missed going to it. I must get back in the habit of doing that.

I’m going over to Nikki’s house tonight to watch the American Idol finale with her and Amanda. I haven’t seen a single episode of it this season – or really any season, for that matter. I’ve never been a huge fan of the show. But I thought I would go and hang out with them for a while, and pretend like I have a social life. I’m tired of coming home at night after work and doing nothing – just having dinner and going to the gym. I mean, it’s nice in its own way, but it’s boring. I sometimes feel like I don’t have friends. I’d like to add some more excitement and friendship to my life. And not feel like such an old lady.

Ten Things Tuesday – May 25

25 May

Ten things on my to-do list:

1. Order temporary tattoos for the Museum. So I’ll have something to do at all my summer events and won’t have to facepaint for hours on end!

2. Pay my credit card bill. It’s not too crazy right now.

3. Go grocery shopping. Living with my parents and my grandmother, I usually don’t have to do this. But if I want super-healthy things like my favorite Lean Cuisine meals, granola bars, and Skinny Cows, I have to get them myself.

4. Buy frozen shrimp for my turtle. He loves these things – I’ve literally never seen him eat anything so fast. They’re a good source of protein for him, so I better get on this one fast.

5. Hem my pants. I just went pants shopping a few weeks ago (I’m down one size and everything was falling off me!), but now they’re all too long. They need some serious hemming so I don’t rip up the bottoms too fast.

6. Call Katy. I haven’t talked to her in forever, and I really want to hear all about her first year of grad school and find out about her life!

7. Organize the recipes in my room. For years, I’ve been collecting recipes from magazines and online, in the hopes of creating my own cookbook one day. So far, they’re still in a big pile in my room. Maybe that will be my summer project…

8. Finish The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Seriously, it’s been months. Why can’t I finish this book? I just don’t give myself any time to read anymore. I need to get back into that habit.

9. Buy all the art supplies I need for my upcoming series called Art Around the World. I’m starting this in about two weeks with Girls Inc., and I need to get it together. I need lots of materials for this eight-week Outreach program. Not to mention finish my lesson plans…

10. Finish the rest of the pending TTT lists that I’ve started as drafts but never completed! I feel like I’m running out of inspiration. Any suggestions?

This is It vs. Is This It?

23 May

What a fun weekend it’s been! It’s been a while since I’ve had an entire weekend off, to do just what I want, and I took full advantage of it. I spent the day in Knoxville yesterday with Andy, celebrating his graduation. He had a graduation party in the afternoon, and then graduation that evening. I’d never been to a graduation at night before – I think it really made him nervous to have so much time waiting around during the day!

I drove down to Knoxville early yesterday afternoon for his party. It was kind of a drop-in thing, at the clubhouse of a neighborhood where his mom is the realtor. It was supposed to be a pool party, but the water was so cold that no one ended up swimming! I met a lot of his family there – too many to keep up with! Most just kind of came and went as they could – there weren’t ever tons of people there at once. I felt kind of awkward (as I do in most social situations), but everyone was really friendly, which made it easier. There was a slide show playing of pictures of him and his family, which was really cute. He also had his art portfolio playing on another computer, which I thought was a really good idea. I’d already seen it, but I know everyone really appreciated getting to see all his work over the last year.

Having driven from out of town, of course I stayed for the whole party. Toward the end, he opened his cards and presents; I had gotten him a set of paintbrushes, some pencils and other drawing supplies, and a brush holder. He really loved it! I always feel kind of weird buying art supplies for other people, because you never know what they already have, or what they really like to use. But I guess I made some good choices because he thought it was great. After the party, we made a quick stop by his house so he could change for graduation and get his robes and everything. We headed downtown, to the Thompson-Boling arena. There were tons and tons of people down there! It took me forever to find his family again once we got inside. I finally found them, just as everyone started processing in. There were between 500 and 600 graduates, so I was expecting a long ceremony. It wasn’t nearly so long, though, because they really sped through the names. The last graduation I went to was my own, a year ago, so it was different to be on the other side of it. The ceremony was pretty nice, though, as they go.

Afterward we waited for Andy to get his official diploma and meet us back upstairs. There were a few pictures, then we left to have a late dinner. We went out to a pretty nice place – me and his parents, his sister and her boyfriend, and his grandparents. I had a really good sandwich with turkey, bacon, goat cheese, and avocado on it, with some sweet potato fries on the side. It was delicious! I had some leftovers that I ate for lunch today.

Even though I kind of felt weird and awkward going down there – as I do in everyday life – it was still really fun. I was really surprised but excited that he invited me, and I’m just glad I was able to go down and support him. It’s always nice to be a good friend! I drove back really late last night, and have just been relaxing for the last day of my weekend. It’s a busy week coming up for me, so I have to prepare myself for it! Although it was a really great weekend – I’m glad I got to have some “me” time for a change. It was most excellent.

This is What my Heart Looks Like:

21 May

 The ubiquitous Coco Chanel

In Service to America

20 May

I’ve been editing my personal mission statement the past few days – making sure it is current and on track with the things I believe, the goals I have for myself, and what I think a life should be. Going through it again makes me think about what’s happened in my life since I wrote it. Have I really lived up to it? What can I do to make it better?

Thinking about my experience in Nashville this past weekend really makes me feel like there’s something bigger out there for me somewhere. It might be doing something small and relatively menial, but in its own way will have a big impact. Before this trip, I just felt like I was working at the Museum, rather than serving as a member of a larger team providing a service to the community. Now that I’ve seen what we can all do together, and separately, it becomes clear that I need to redirect my thinking into a global sense of purpose. I can’t be everywhere at once, or save the entire world single-handedly, but I can do my part to help out in my own way. And rather than just thinking of myself doing my job here in my corner of the world, I should think about the impact of my entire AmeriCorps team across the state. And then, all the different AmeriCorps programs coming together to do great things, wherever they may be. I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this, but at the same time it didn’t have such a personal impact on me. Now I realize how important this really is, and how much of a good thing we’re all doing. I’d really encourage everyone to check out this program, and find some way to volunteer your time in your own community.

I feel like lately all I write or talk about is working. Technically, serving. Not working. Maybe that was my problem – that I really still referred to this as working. Even though I’m paid a stipend, and have more of a professional position than other AmeriCorps members, I’m still in service, just like them. Thinking abut it in different terms really helps me to get back to the heart of what it’s all about. I’m not doing this for professional reasons – I’m doing it to fill a gap where help is needed. I haven’t put much effort into having a social life lately, or thinking about much else than what’s immediately happening in my life. I do miss having intellectual conversation at school, and thinking about things bigger than myself. I’d like to make an effort to get back into writing about ideas, rather than just events. I’m not looking for some profound statement that’s going to change the world, but just trying to elevate my intellectual capacity to something beyond recording the day’s events or thinking about what my next outfit will be. It’s all well and good to be concerned with your everyday life, but it leaves a little hole of emptiness. Without something bigger, you don’t have anything to work towards. Nothing bigger to think about. Nothing to stretch your mind.

So starting right now, I’m going to hold myself accountable for the things I write. I’m sure most of what you see posted here will have to do with my day-to-day life and happenings, but I’m really going to make an effort to write something better. Not some Great American Novel. But just think about something other than myself for a while. I’m not thinking about something serious here, but something beautiful. Something I’ll be proud to have put out into the world, and not cringe with embarrassment when I read it again in five years.