Sunday, November 7, 2010

train your dog. & your computer battery.

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." - Nelson Mandela

Hey, internet. It's been a while. Well, actually - it hasn't been that long since I last updated my Twitter (approx 1 minute), checked Facebook (approx 2 minutes), read & responded to a blog (last night probably around midnight), responded to a LinkedIn message (one day), etc etc. My obsession with social media aside, it has been a while since I have blogged beyond my daily microblogging on Twitter (40-45 tweets a day, apparently. whew!).
To be honest, I'd given up all hope on my blog until a few days ago. Let's be honest - the only people reading it were...well... the only person reading it was my mom. And while I love my mom (see, mom, I didn't even ask for money after saying that), she can talk to me anytime she wants via cell phone or in person. I focused my attention on reading and responding to other's blogs - blogs about everything! Blogs and articles about cupcakes, yorkies, college basketball, Oprah using a port-a-potty (for real)... you name it, I read it and gave my own two cents. But then I realized despite the joy I was getting out of reading and interacting with others' blogs, something was missing. Day in and day out, I was reading books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, and I was soaking up information and engaging with people regarding what I'd learned - asking advice, debating issues, hearing opinions. And although doing all of these things is great, it suddenly occurred to me - in the middle of a job interview - that I could not remember the last time I wrote something longer than 140 characters that was purely For me. About me. I had gotten caught up in the rush of @ replies and RSS feeds that I forgot to take care of my own little corner of the internet that was mine; that I had created in the first place for the sole purpose of amusing myself & anyone else that happened to stumble across my little pieces of mind. So, I returned from the interview with a refreshed, renewed approach to my blog. Excited to go back and write the first post since August of last year, I made a cup of coffee, put on my snuggie, opened up my laptop to turn it on and... NOTHING. My 9 month old yorkie puppy Alexa (aka 'weapon of mass destruction') had chewed through my Macbook adapter power cord, and due to the battery not being "trained" (Applespeak for 'give us more of your life savings'), the computer would not turn on. But I never back down from a challenge. Because here I am, internet! With $80 less in my wallet, maybe, but no less originality, whimsicality, and perspicacity than before. And I promise, I won't leave you ever again. So, mom, go ahead and bookmark me in your newly downloaded Google Chrome browser, because I'm here to stay - whether anyone notices or not.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

just (make yourself) do it

Going to the gym, attending a religious service, editing a friend's 20 page paper, playing GI Joes with your little brother. All things that you may dread doing, but once you actually start getting engaged in doing them, you actually feel better than before. What would happen, though, if you were to actually start doing these things on your own rather than when you felt guilted into it by yourself or another?

I took that idea and ran with it - literally. If you know me or you've read my blog before (hi mom!), then you know I have an unhealthy love for bikes. But, I've never been big on running. Various complaints and excuses have been issued over the years in order to avoid it. Having recently decided to start training for triathlons, & being in love with my bike and a natural in the pool, I knew I had to face pounding the pavement.

When you think about it, running is the only sport that is actually considered another sport's punishment. But I digress.

I always felt better after a run, high on endorphins & refreshed. So I decided that in order to not only not be reluctant to lace up my Nikes and get to work but also possibly gain a love (or even just a 'like') for running, I needed to hit the streets (or the treadmill) every day. Once I became accustomed to it, being routine-oriented, I assumed it would become an essential and enjoyable part of my day.

First, I eliminated any excuses. I decided to join a gym so that "it's raining" or "it's too hot out" were moot complaints. Plus, being competitive, I'd be around other people who were also running, and therefore I'd train harder. Secondly, I did what any woman would do when trying something new- I went shopping. In my closet. For my first week at the gym, I wore my cutest workout clothes, so, at the very least, I'd be excited to change clothes to drive over there. Thirdly, I scouted out all the gyms around town. I didn't need to join somewhere that was incredibly expensive or pretentious. I didn't want to do any sort of classes, I didn't need a pool, and I definitely had no need for the pushy salesman, at one gym that will remain unnamed, who looked like he wouldn't know the difference between a treadmill and an elliptical machine, if he ever managed to venture onto one. Finally, I made a decision (which I have been incredibly happy with), signed on the dotted line, and got on the treadmill.

Starting running again after taking so much time off was difficult at first. Like I said, I hated it because it was slow (in comparison to cycling, especially) and incredibly repetitive. But one week going to the gym to run a few miles turned into a month, and now, in my second month running, I can say that I have gotten much faster with more endurance...and I'm more than happy to run every day and try to beat my personal best.

The whole experience has taught me that something that makes you feel great, even if only after you complete it, is worth the time and energy to go out of one's way to do. My life would probably be no different if I didn't go running every day, but now there's something to look forward to after work, an alternate method of training besides cycling, and just one more thing in my life that makes me happy. And there's no such thing as too much happiness.

Friday, July 3, 2009

kiss and pay up

"Are you still faint from the run? Or was it my kissing expertise?" - Edward Cullen, Twilight

As I was sipping my coffee Friday morning at work, I was perusing the
entertainment headlines on Google News (after checking to see if my beloved Brewers beat the Cubs last night-they didn't) when something caught my eye: two women paid $20,000 each for a kiss on the cheek from Twilight actor Rob Pattinson.

Granted, I'm all for fake sparkly vampires and money going to charity, but $20,000 for a kiss that doesn't even involve tongue? Plus, you know those women's already slim chances of dating Rob disappeared once he knew them as the crazies who shelled out 20 grand for the kind of kiss you'd give your grandma.

But, after the initial shock passed, I wondered why I was surprised at all. Celebrity crushes in general are ridiculous. There was a time in my teens that I would have paid that much money (if I had it, which I didn't and don't if I want to eat and pay rent) for a kiss from none other than *N Syncer Lance Bass. That's right. The "gay one." Who actually did turn out to be gay. I was in loooooooooove with Lance (or so I thought). Posters on my wall, pictures in my locker, names with hearts drawn around it on every square inch of paper in every color of gel pen, and a cardboard cutout of him that now resides in a closet in our basement (no pun intended). Looking back, this probably was a very blatant portent of my future. Ever since, I generally dated metrosexual (umm, closeted) guys. And I definitely have a poster of Anderson Cooper on my wall (what? I'm a journalism major! it's legit). My last serious boyfriend (ok, at 21, my only serious boyfriend) had the same trademark blonde hair, deep voice, and desire to be around boys who like boys that Lance has. Yeah, I'm not sure why I wonder why it didn't work out...

Back to the subject at hand: why do we like celebrities? Sure, they're attractive, but no hotter than the guy at the gym I always stare at while I pedal my heart out on the stationary bike (I could watch him run for hours, which is prob why my calves look especially great ever since I joined). They're wealthy, but there are plenty of rich guys whose photos we wouldn't wallpaper our room with (unless Bill Gates or Larry Page is really your type...). We don't really know their personalities besides what the tabloids and bloggers tell us to think, so that reason is out - or is it?

It's so true! We love and hate our celebrities based on their supposed "personalities." My coworker even chastised me for playing Chris Brown music after the Rihanna-beating debacle went down. Think about it: they need us. Not in a way that Matt Damon is going to call me if he's having a bad day and just needs to vent about how Ben Affleck can just be so self centered sometimes, but in a way that we, collectively, make or break them. If we don't pay attention to them, good or bad, the paparazzi and entertainment execs can't make money off of them. Why are there so few pictures of Megan Fox pre-plastic surgery circulating (c'mon, don't tell me you thought she was all real)? Because no one cared about her back then! In her case, hotness trumps personality, therefore it's easier to assume she's a good person. The Jonas Brothers, purity rings and all, just must be good people because they are products of the Disney channel. Speaking of Disney alum, you have to admit there are still a lot (MILLIONS) of people willing to pay good money to see Britney Spears despite her ups and downs. People are praying for her, and she's stayed pretty blameless when it has come to her personal problems (bad influences caused her to get involved in boozing, drugs, and toxic couldn'tve been her own free will that caused her to marry Kevin Federline).

As a society, we have created and destroyed these people. The public is fickle, we can fall in and out of love with celebrities at a rate more alarming than Oprah's yo yo dieting. Our money, our ideas of what's attractive or humorous or morally acceptable have shaped exactly how celebrities act (or how their PR agents tell them to act). Jon and Kate and their litter of puppies (I'm sorry, but having 6 children at once is not only irresponsible, it's also kinda gross) go from being regaled and reviled almost hourly! It's commonly acceptable for an athlete/rapper/washed up TV star to say something offensive and/or stupid (or get arrested if you're a Cincinnati Bengal). We are initially indignant, but forgive and forget their trangressions once the case/hype is over. Only when a celeb does something we consider "out of character" are we surprised, and we are often quick to sympathize with them and forget their malfeasance if they are one of the "good guys." The bad boys and girls have it easy, because, if Lindsay Lohan or Colin Farrell gets a(nother) DUI, the public considers it just another day. The personalities we give them are static, however, and it's not surprising that so many celebs have trouble maintaining stable relationships with the identity crises they must face weekly.

That said, I don't feel too bad for them. Yes, we giveth and taketh away reputations. But, back to the ubiquitous Rob Pattinson. He didn't even have to work for his stellar reputation as an insanely handsome, good hearted, sigh-inducing gift to women everywhere. Don't lie, you wouldn'tve noticed that skinny kid who needs to wash his hair before he was a vamp. By accepting the role in Twilight, he immediately won hearts worldwide despite the fact that he is, in fact, NOT Edward Cullen. Not only do vampires not exist, but, even if they did, Edward Cullen is a fictional one (unless Stephenie Meyer is holding out on us). If Rob were to kill a puppy in broad daylight in public, I think Twilighters would find an excuse to justify it as a humane act, as disturbing as that is. And although we give them their public personalities (and because of that, provide their livelihood), it is important to keep in mind: What Rob is actually like in his private life, secret puppy killer or not, will only be known to those close to him.

Which, those two women who paid 20 grand, will never have the apparent honor of being, grandma kiss or not. But, I guess, they will have a great story to tell their kids about how they wasted money that could've gone toward college tuition...or been spent on something very sparkly that is acutally real.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

to dye for

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy

Well, I'd like to inform all of you that I have decided to go through with it. Not without reservations, of course. But I am going to commit the cardinal sin of going from brunette to blonde. Not bleach blonde, mind you, but more of a Jennifer Aniston brown-blonde that will brighten up not only my visage but hopefully also my mood.
That's right, you heard me. My hair color is going to change my personality...sort of.
Dying one's hair may seem like a simple change to you (especially if you are male), but its implications are, in fact, numerous. Just think about it: if you've heard one blonde joke, you've heard them all. And although there may not be that many (if any) brunette or redhead jokes out there, there are definitely stereotypes. "Hot headed redhead" or "mousy brunette" are two of the many (some even contradictory) characterizations that come to mind. You can't escape the fact that when you are describing someone, hair color is one of the first things that comes to mind. Many guys have even told me that they are only attracted to girls with certain haircolors. Yet, it means so much more beyond being a defining adjective of tangible features.

After facing hardships or life-changing events, people often feel the need to change their view of both themselves and the world. Someonewhere in this identity crisis, people want to change what they see in the mirror everyday. The last year has been nothing short of tumultuous for me, but I will be the first to say that I am happy with my looks. As an athletic, energetic blue-eyed brunette, I have lived the last 21 years to the fullest, through the triumphs and the tragedies. But I think it's time to give the color a rest, for a few weeks or a few months and try to develop both a new look & outlook.

You may ask, why blonde? Truth is, I have always been fascinated by blondes. They've captained the cheerleading squad, charmed employers, stolen boyfriends from me, and are known stereotypically as "having more fun." Who doesn't love fun? Yes, I have friends who are blonde, and I know that not all blondes are the stereotypical peppy, outgoing, sexy image that media (and some real-life blondes themselves) even promote. Despite my happiness with my looks, part of me always wanted to experience the life of Malibu Barbie...or at least her sun-kissed locks.

Superficial? Maybe. But what's important to keep in mind is that whether or not the change makes me look (or feel) attractive or awful, renewal of confidence or reappearance of insecurities is not due to the color itself. It all comes back to my perception of myself. I've looked at plenty of those "What does your hair color say about you?!" web sites to know that no matter what color your hair is (brown, red, pink, blue, green, etc) it's up to you to make the actual life changes. My mini identity crisis is not going to be solved by a trip to the salon, although it's a step in the right direction if it boosts my confidence further.

Plus, it is, in the end, just hair: if I don't like it, I can always dye it back.
By the many blondes does it take to change a lightbulb?
One: she holds the lightbulb & the world revolves around her.
(Sorry. Couldn't resist)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

txt me, i'll txt you

My parents received a rather hefty package in the mail last week. It was my cell phone bill. And it was 70 pages long.

Now, this incredible length had nothing to do with any actual speaking on the phone. It was not from phone calls to friends who were studying abroad, not from long talks with my brother who is a med student at Yale, not even from millions of calls to & from the hundreds of friends, foe, and family in my address book. The culprit of the commodious bill was one offender & one offender only: texting. In the span of time in which my mom sent 400 texts, I had managed to send over 4,000 of these 158-character missives.

Which brings me to wonder why, in a day and age when we (I know I'm not the only one) are so easily accessible to one another, why human beings still lack the actual necessary skills to effectively communicate.

Don't get me wrong. We can still form sentences - although in some cities, due to instant message and text shorthand schools are finding much to their dismay that their younger students cannot write at their grade level - and we can still say such sentences out loud to another. Talking itself is difficult enough to interpret. I can't tell you how many times I've debated with friends what exactly that cute guy from poli sci meant when he said he'd call later (Would he or wouldn't he? He wouldn't say he would if he wasn't going to...Maybe he was just trying to be nice? Or maybe he just wants to study, he didn't mean I'll call you call you...) We still wonder whether or not a compliment on our sweater or English paper was really genuine. We aren't sure whether "I'll see you at 9" means 9...or 9:30 (or, with some people, 10).

In fact, texting makes it even more difficult to tell what a person is actually saying to us. We can't see the expression on their faces or the tell tale hand gestures that imply either a joke or completely seriousness. Sometimes, due to autocorrect spelling, even the sender doesn't communicate the exact words they planned on saying. Even more troubling, in some cases, is that we aren't even sure who the sender actually is. Sure, we know the phone number, but anyone in my house could pick up my phone and send a message to anyone in my address book while I'm in the shower (Desperate Housewives, anyone?).

In a world of interconnectedness and supposed openness, however, the only thing we even have the ability to control is our own reaction upon receiving these messages. Whether or not we get upset over something meant as silly but taken as a statement is entirely up to us.

So I guess nothing about communication has changed with texting - besides the ability to reach one another no matter how far away or busy we are. Because even if I am able to read a text from a potential suitor during a meeting at work, I'm still going to wonder if "ttyl" means "a few hours later" or "a few days later" or, quite possibly, "never."

Monday, May 4, 2009

king me, baby

"Always walk around like you have on an invisible tiara." - Paris Hilton

The phrase "high maintenance" and I are not strangers. I have been referred to as such, as well as a litany of other phrases (a personal favorite being "Jewish American Princess") by various friends, boyfriends, and family members. But, living in a world where those in power are those who know what they want & subsequently seek it out, what's wrong with being a little bit demanding now and then?

Don't get me wrong. I am definitely not a Veruca Salt character, demanding to have the best anything and everything before anyone else does. That aside, I know what nice things are, and, to put it quite simply, I like nice things. If you think this means I dress solely in designer brands, then you probably will be disappointed to find out that 80% of my outfit generally comes from Target or Old Navy. When it comes to fashion & accessorizing, the most important thing to me is knowing what good taste and style is and being able to replicate it on the cheap. And sure, it might take me several hours to get ready in the morning, but I have never heard a complaint about what I walk out of the house looking like (from anyone except my mother, she's extra picky sometimes). If time is the bigger investment I make in getting ready, rather than the clothes themselves, then it's my capital to spend how I want. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to settle for a .5 carat diamond engagement ring either. Big ticket items such as that are an entirely different story...

Another component of my supposed snob status is apparently that I know how I wish to be treated by others, and I'm not afraid to tell them so. In return, I do my best not to have a double standard in regards to how I treat others. It's important to me to explicitly state what I expect from others, because if I do so, then there is little room for error. This leads to less chance for confrontation. If everyone did this, a lot of misunderstandings and anger could be wholly avoided. How hard is it to not do something you've been warned not to do? Even if you may find it a bit trying, I can tell you that it's a lot easier than trying to just guess what lines you can't cross.

Finally, the last reason why others may see me as "too much:" my confidence. Sometimes it's mere bravado, but generally I have a high opinion of myself. Some would refer to this as arrogance. True, one of my weaknesses is that I can't walk by a mirror without looking in it - but that's so that I can fix my hair, not gaze at my own beauty. To be honest, I have the exact same insecurities as any 21-year-old co-ed. I'm just better at internalizing or hiding it. If you talk the talk, it's much easier to walk the walk. I was never one to sit in the shadows and wait for life to happen to me, and even if I'm having a bad day, I can usually convince myself of something good about myself. There's so much to love about life, and it's easier to love anything or anyone if you start with loving yourself. I have been known to respond to compliments from guys with "I know" instead of "thank you," but come on, as flattering as whatever compliment it is, it's just a line in a bar. Experience has taught me not to depend upon others to build up my own self esteem or confidence, and therefore I often self affirm.

If caring about how I look, am treated by others, and liking myself make me seem a little finicky or aloof at times, so be it. Setting the bar high merely means that I never will settle. And, if not settling makes someone high maintenance, that means that every beautiful, respected, and confident girl thinks she is a princess. In that case, go ahead and crown me, because I love who I am - and I'm certainly not going to change for anyone.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

post game wrap up

"Whoever said, 'It's not whether you win or lose that counts,' probably lost." - Martina Navratilova

As finals approach and the semester draws to a close, many college students can't help but wonder how time passed so quickly, and I am no different. Over the course of the last two semesters, a lot has occurred, and being the competitive personality that I am, I have definitely kept score. So how will my junior year be marked down in this chapter of my life, as a victory or defeat? I've never worked harder in my life on anything before this year, whether it be academics, athletics, or relationships. All three have been incredibly tumultuous as well as taxing in their own right.

Classes this year have been harder than ever. Statistics quickly became the bane of my existence; the combination of numbers, letters, hypotheses, and graphs at often times seems like an entire other language to me. Yet, I also took the most rewarding course in my entire academic history. For those of you attending IU, journalism majors or otherwise, I recommend J349, Public Relations writing, with Jim Parham. Beyond merely a writing class, Jim restored my confidence in my writing as well as expanded my repertoire of types of pieces I was capable of producing, from speeches to emulation pieces to crisis plans. A lot of my work from that class is showcased on this blog. In fact, I doubt I would have even written this blog if not for this class. A man who has met many people and done a lot of admirable things throughout his life as well as the current COO of Hirons, a major PR agency, Jim showed me so many different facets of the PR industry. He also was unafraid to constructively criticize and give our class the kick in the ass we needed to bring out the best in ourselves and reflect it in our writing. Thanks to him, I not only have a portfolio I am proud of to show potential employers, but also the confidence to believe that I have the skills & talent to achieve the job of my dreams.

However, not all dreams came to fruition this year. I did not ride in the Little 500 race, as I had been planning since last year. However, cycling has played a major role in my life in the last year, especially when it comes to dealing with stress, so I am definitely not giving it up. In fact, I have begun training to be a triathlete. The cross training will definitely help me not only stay in shape but become a better athlete in all three sports. It will also give me a great outlet for extra energy as well as a way to deal with any anxiety.

As for relationships...I'm not sure where to start. I thought I had it all in August, and quickly the relationships with those I loved deteriorated. At one point last semester, I was unable to carry on a conversation with anyone close to me without arguing. Following an admittedly messy breakup with a questionable boyfriend, I decided to reevaluate and reprioritize. Since then, I have become much closer with my parents & brother. Home in Indianapolis has become more than a place for me to run away to when the going gets tough in Bloomington. I love and appreciate my family for giving me the time to work out what I needed to and a second chance to show them that I do care about them very much. New friendships have been formed back on campus, and I am thankful and blessed to have the wonderful people I now surround myself with.

It's exhausting to try to recall all of my memories from over the last school year. I am not really sure whether I laughed more or cried more. I don't know how exactly many quizzes I failed or tests I passed, friends I made or friends I lost, personal records I broke or times I could not beat. But really? I can't argue with the results. Any way you add up my triumphs & tragedies from the last few months, you get winning results: lessons learned, new goals to strive for, and being lucky enough to have the most amazing people in the world to celebrate future victories with.