Friday, July 29, 2011

Childhood favorites

I grew up with a solid mix of 60s and 70s rock hits, with a little bit of the 50s thrown in for good measure.

I started to think about those summers at the lake, or doing chores around the house to these songs. I'm hoping, that maybe, they would be nice to share today.

The first song in this playlist is a song I will never forget my Dad singing along to every time it came up on a cd, or on the radio. He loves this song. Something about the tone and quality of his voice singing "raindrops keep fallin' on my head..." makes me unequivocally happy.

I hope you enjoy the tunes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spirit Animal

My best friend Kristin posted a few days ago about the concept of spirit animals. And she asked her "readers" which include me (on a daily basis) what theirs would be. This made my post for today nice and easy.

However, I don't think my animal is a typical pick, because it is definitely not featured on her handy dandy animal totem interpretation key.

The animal that I have been drawn to since I was a little girl is the sloth. Yes, those slow moving animals that grow moss on their coat. I love them. Always have. No explanation. I just love them. They are the first thing I want to see when I go to the zoo, they are the animal that I shout out when asked my favorite, and when I see photos or videos of them I get all smiley and excited. 

But what could a sloth stand for? My best guess: tranquility, patience, contentment, strength, solitude. Essentially - my spirit totem stands for everything I am not, but aspire to be. That seems to make sense.

Now for the best part of the post - sloth photos. And even a video. Get excited!








Meet the sloths from Lucy Cooke on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sleepy nap nap time

If you haven't heard the Samuel L. Jackson reading of "Go the F*c* to Sleep" children's story - you need to do so immediately. I am fairly certain it can be listened to for free on audible.com, but I make you no promises.

The reason I am thinking about said book is that I would love to go the f*c* to sleep... this instant. I don't do well with overcast, muggy, dark days. They make me want to curl up in my comfy bed, in my air conditioned house, with my cuddly dog.

Things these days do not make me want to do:

1. work
2. be productive (in other words work)
3. think (also linked to most work)
4. use my problem solving skills

I could make a cup of coffee, but it doesn't sound good. I could make a chai latte, but I don't want that either. I could pinch myself repeatedly but that would hurt. I could walk around the building but then I'd be hot. I could even act like an adult and force myself to be a good employee through the rest of my sleepy day - but I'd rather not.

Instead, I'll whine on my blog and go back to waiting for emails to arrive in my inbox.

(I feel it necessary to tell you that I have actually accomplished quite a lot today - but by no choice of my own)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hey Stella!


Stella just seemed like the right name for the little chihuahua who showed up at my house and claimed my family on Satuday. Now, was my brother thinking of Marlon Brando or a Street Car Named Desire when he picked the name? Not likely - but I choose to believe somewhere in the depths of his over-developed mind he was referencing that little snippit of 1951 pop culture.

I woke up on Saturday morning and half-fell out of my bed as I stumbled towards the kitchen to get a drink of water. But halfway through my underwear and t-shirt clad pilgrimage I noticed my dog staring out the window, mesmerized by something on the sidewalk below. When I followed her gaze on down, I saw that we had a little intruder on our lot. A teeny tiny black rat dog, panting and limping up my sidewalk.

Naturally, I rushed to the kitchen, got a bowl of water and headed downstairs to try and water the broken wanderer.  But as soon as I opened the door, she ran away as fast as her limping physique could carry her. And then she posted up at the end of the sidewalk and barked at me.

We danced this tango of "let me feed you and water you" "no, screw you, I hate you human" for most of the morning. I gave up and left the water and food outside sometime before 2. But when we got back from the pool, my little brother, Mom and friends found her still wandering the grounds of my estate.

After many more failed attempts to call her close, we left for a movie. When we returned - there she was - scratching at my door to get in. This time, she let my Mom get within a few feet, and refused to leave the porch. I scooted my way by and opened the door - and in she went. Stella had chosen this house, and chosen these people.

But it was when she met my baby brother that she really fell in love. She didn't want any of us to touch her or feed her, but when Lukey came down the stairs she lept from her towel-bed and jumped into his arms. She had found her human. He fed her from his hand, cuddled her and on Sunday bought her a collar.

Whenever he leaves the room, she looks for him or follows him. See below for video of the old, emphysema riddled New Yorker who adopted us - the great, the legendary - Stella.

video

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shenanigans


Just when you start to get a handle on things - your life turns upside down again. Isn't that the nature of things? Or is that just my life?

Just when I get into a groove of living with my sister and sharing a bed with both her and with Emma, she is moving out. Just when I have found a rotation of close friends to play with, talk with, and laugh with - they move away. Just when when I stop being impossible in my relationship, the possibility of my significant other relocating (across the country with my luck) looms on the horizon.

Don't forget that my family could move at any time, I'm starting grad school this fall, one of my best friends is getting married (I'm a bridesmaid - clearly) and my job is at it's most stressful in the fall, with two conferences, student org interviews and advising for the big Spring rush of study abroad students.

It's a shenangians merger. All of the shenanigans in my life have come together to create one shenanigan-conglomerate. Please see below for my favorite image that came up during a google search of "shenanigans".




Luckily, even with all of that to come, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am getting a handle on this young adulthood thing. I feel better equipped to manage life as it comes. I feel less fragile and unstable than before. I am happy for the people in my life pursuing new interests, new goals and new dreams. I can imagine more alone time being a good thing for me and my psyche. And I am even looking forward to reading assignments, roadtrips and a full schedule.

Bring it on season of harvest - I am well rested, well fed and I took my happy pill this morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Smart people

Yesterday I kicked up the nerd level to a solid 7 by downloading stitcher on my iphone. It's an app (search that shit) that let's you string together podcasts you love in categories and then automatically updates them for your listening pleasure.


I've never been a big podcast fan, mostly because the ones I'm aware of are the ones my significant other listens to - and those are all involving Kevin Smith and his friends. I am a big fan of some Kevin Smith - yay Dogma - but most of it falls a bit short on the mentally relevant for me.





I think the Smodcast  about Doc Brown being more than a time doctor so that he could provide an abortion for Marty and thus solve the problems of Back to the Future II was my breaking point.


But yesterday, I discovered smart people podcasts. NPR podcasts. Hallelujiah. I'm improving my brain and enjoying a podcast. There are the relevant and enjoyable podcasts like Fresh Air and This American Life, but there are also the unexpected like "Pop Culture Happy Hour."


Pop Culture Happy Hour is "a special audio frolic in which I sat down with NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, NPR.org arts editor Trey Graham, and comics blogger Glen Weldon to talk about movies, TV, and what we're loving and not loving these days." (to quote creator Linda Holmes)


It is a perfect amalgamation of witty, current and hysterical.


I am relieved to find that smart (funny) people make podcasts for elitist listeners like me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Woman's best friend

I would consider some very basic things to be man's best friends:

beer
dogs (supposedly)
sports
movies where stuff blows up
bratwurst 

And yesterday I decided that there are a few (more specific) things that could be considered a woman's best friends:

good wine
dogs (definitely)
reality television you don't morally agree with but can't stop watching
movies with long dresses and kissing
exotic take out when you don't want to cook (thai or indian preferred)

Yesterday I had quite a few of those. 

I ate take out indian food with one of my long time best friends (thanks Air), watched a movie that had Emily Blunt in a long dress kissing Matt Damon, recaps of bachelorette episodes,  and my dog Emma to do weird things like lean on Air in a way that suggests she is simply exhausted by our antics.

I had an evening that definitely qualifies as woman-approved.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy songs

Sometimes, you just need a happy song. I recommend these couple songs by these goofy Austin natives.

Enter The Noise Revival Orchestra...

Songs of Forgiveness - click me!

Crushin' on You - click me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Modern plans



This past week I got together with a close friend of mine and we decided to create a list of "mental health goals" for the month. Both of us are perfectionists to a fault, and horribly over committed socially. We find that between work, friends, family, home and the daily grind of being a sexy young thang - we tend to wear ourselves out, especially mentally.

One of my goals was to enjoy my relationship. I tend to be the kind of person who looks for ways to improve on everything instead of reveling in the greatness that is what I have. My relationship has become one of those things. I'm always looking for ways for us to be more connected, more appreciative of each other, more interesting, more adventurous. These days, I rarely sit back and appreciate how much fun it is to watch Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too back to back while planning off-beat Halloween costumes.

This means I come dangerously close to missing out on how much fun my relationship is, how easily we talk, laugh and enjoy each other.

Well this month - no more! I am going to appreciate not only my relationship - but my roommates - my family - and my city.

One of the things I am most excited for is utilizing the incredible arts district we have in Fort Worth. Two nationally renowned art museums are down the street and I never even stop in to say hello. That needs to change.

There are concerts, shows, movie screenings and all kinds of things to experience in Fort Worth. And they are calling my name.

First Sundays are free at the Modern. August 7th - you and I have a date with modern art.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Family Affair

My parents were supposed to leave Little Rock, Arkansas 6 minutes ago in order to get here in time for the Vet appointment I set up for them at 4. Have they left? Of course not. 

But as I started to steam and fume in my office this morning, I decided to redirect my thoughts. I thought about the fact that I haven't seen my Mom or older little brother since May and I haven't seen my baby brother or my Dad since Christmas. I'd say that getting here late is substantially less important than getting here at all.

I have such a close-knit, over the top, hopelessly in love with each other family that I take them for granted at times. I don't value our time together in the moment, too often I wait until they've left, or we've been apart for months, to appreciate them. 

And this closeness, this appreciation doesn't stop at my immediate family - it extends to my Nana, my Papa Ralph, my Cousins and Aunt in Uncle in Omaha. I am already counting down the days until Thanksgiving - and looking forward to conversations about Matisse, Hemingway and modern day poets I've never heard of. I'm looking forward to the nightmare that is black Friday shopping. I'm looking forward to speed scrabble games I know I'll lose. 

But most of all I'm just looking forward to spending time with these people I love.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Night Light

"I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me--that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns." 
 Anne Lamott (Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)


Sometimes it's ok to wait for the light to turn back on. Faith is knowing it will turn on... eventually.


I'm not looking for a chandelier to light up - I just want a clever little night light to turn on. Nothing fancy - simple, fun and bright.







Monday, July 11, 2011

Me vs You vs Me

"Never compare your insides to everyone else's outsides." 
 Anne Lamott

I wrote about perfectionism earlier, and I realize that the perfectionism phenomenon seems to be a direct result of comparisons. We compare ourselves to others without knowing anything of depth about their lives. We want their car, their boyfriend, their dog, their jeans, their salary. And suddenly it's the me vs you vs me debacle.

Me vs You : you are competing with a total stranger - determining who's life is more idyllic, more trendy, more exciting.

You vs Me : you assume that if given the chance the other person would look at your life and determine that they get to check the "super sick-nasty cool life" box and you don't.

What I've realized : you miss out on how phenomenal your life is by focusing on how fantastic you think someone else's might be.

We could be so happy and thankful for our lives if there weren't other humans walking around with their cool selves and their cool stuff out in plain view.

I'm going to work on looking, admiring and moving on. Maybe we all would benefit from such an approach.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Difficult and Knowing It

The constant battle in my mind between being thankful that I am content with my life and being terrified at the basic idea of contentment rages on.

I had settled in nicely for a stretch of time. I had accepted so many things about my new life that in theory weren't at all what I was looking for. 

But for the past week I find myself wrestling with the idea that what defines me and what makes me who I am is slipping away little by little. The passionate, enthusiastic, engaging parts of me - slipping away as I ease my way into settled suburban existence.

I tried to explain this last night to someone who puts up with me on a regular basis. I said "I used to be the inspired and irrational girl who moves to Africa - now I'm someone who goes to an office 8-5 and rushes home to feed their dog."

I don't know if I'm being overly analytic of my "could have been" and now "is" life, or if I'm turning a microscope on my already introspective nature and feeding the unhealthy part of me that is always looking forward and never enjoying the present...

"Expectations are resentments under construction." My life has been one long string of high expectations - is that why I'm feeling so resentful?

I find myself exhausting. I read this post over - and although it is genuinely how I feel - I sound like a spoiled existentialist who is wasting a beautiful life by wishing for something else. Eff that noise. I'm taking yet another lesson from Anne:


‎"...most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of the people around you."


And that is absolutely more than enough.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Funny Little Things

Every so often I stumble upon something that someone else scribbled for me, or I scribbled myself, and I think "we may be more loved and wonderful than we realize." It's like these little reminders of how thoughtful people can be, how much you love the strange little things they do, or how much you actually like yourself.

Today I looked up and realized that I have a little pink post-it hanging from my computer monitor at work. It has been there for months now - just long enough to start to be overlooked and ignored.

The post-it is a cartooned out reference to the Marcel the Shell viral youtube video. My little sister drew it and left it on my desk one day when she was visiting me at work. To be honest, I didn't even notice her doodling while we were talking. And when she left I had this little remnant of our shared sense of humor to stick to my work station.

Just a little note, probably meant to be thrown away, that makes me think of her and how much alike we are now, how much I love her, and how nice it is to have a sister.

If we are distracted enough we miss the funny little things that remind us we are loved and that we should love ourselves a little more.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bored with Perfection

"Perfection is shallow, unreal, and fatally uninteresting." 
 Anne Lamott

Yet again, Anne nails it.

I have spent an impressive chunk of my life pursuing some form of perfection. I started off trying to be the perfect daughter, then sister, then friend, then student, then socialite, then employee, then serious girlfriend.

Maybe you figured this out sooner than I did - but it's freaking hard. Scratch that - it's freakin' impossible.

Perfection always felt like the goal, but now it seems as unattainable as waking up with hair I can wear to work as-is. And you know what? The more I realize how boring perfection really is - the more I'm alright with accepting I will never be just that. I will never be boring. I will never be perfect.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

World love

In my line of work I get to spend all day talking about countries around the world and how students can spend summers or semesters exploring them. People ask me on occasion, "Doesn't your job make you hate your life a little? Helping students go on these incredible journeys while you sit in your office?" My first thought in response is "Eff you guy - my job is amazing. Scratch that, my life is amazing. I don't know, how's your job going? Oh wait you don't have one? That's too bad..." but my secondary response eeps out "Yah, sometimes, a little..."


But the truth is - my job gives me an opportunity to make my international experiences matter to someone else. When someone is getting ready to head to Florence for the semester and is trying to decide if Rome should be one of their stops, I can tell them about the Colosseum, the flower markets in the Campo De Fiori and the street performers who play their flutes at a frantic and unimaginable pace.

I get to tell them about the beauty of clothing hanging out windows, and the old world feeling you get as you pass beneath the belongings of strangers, put out for anyone to view.

And then every so often...with the right student... I get to talk about Africa. I get to talk about all the reasons that experiencing cold showers, unidentifiable food, and over-packed public transportation was the highlight of my life so far. 

I do miss being abroad. But if I can't go right now... I'll relish the opportunities to help others venture out.