Friday, December 25, 2009

Annual New Years' Blog! Things I Learned in 2009

It's that time again. Three years ago, I decided that instead of making a New Years' Resolution, which never works anyway, I would reflect on the lessons I have learned in the past year (or at least, the lessons life has tried to teach me...whether I've learned them or not is an entirely different issue!) and publish them on the Net in the hopes that some of you may benefit from my failures, successes, and utter humiliations as well. So, without further ado, here are the top 25 lessons I've learned in 2009.

-Commitment isn't scary-it's the unknown that's unnerving. Now that I've finally jumped into a committed relationship, I'm beginning to wonder what the hell I was so terrified of in the first place.
-There is no joy like that of seeing your students excel. Even if only one person in the world wants to learn from you, it's worth the effort to see them learn and succeed.
-It's OK to cry. Sometimes even in front of people.
-Rock bottom sucks. A lot. It sucks even more when you're alone. But no matter how bad things get, no matter how horrible life may seem, even when every tiny thing that could go wrong has, it will get better. Trust me. It may take months before even the slightest sign of improvement, but it will come. Just focus on any feeble rays of light you may be able to see, and you'll eventually pull yourself out of it.
-No matter what you think of organized religion, sometimes turning to God actually does help, even when you're not sure if you believe in God at all.
-Good friends will never abandon you, regardless of distance.
-Don't get credit cards. Just...don't. Trust me.
-Sometimes, just letting go and being completely reckless and carefree can result in the best memories. There's no harm in being spontaneous.
-Even smart people fail Latin. For a long time after I failed that class, I thought that I was just stupid and I couldn't possibly be intelligent enough to make it as an academic. What I really discovered was that I just wasn't playing to my strengths. Just because you're bad at something doesn't mean you're an idiot-it just means you're bad at that one particular thing. Nothing more, nothing less.
-Whenever you move from a place in which you were happy, you leave a piece of yourself behind. I left a piece of my heart back in Miami, and likewise, I have now left a piece of my heart in London as well (along with most of my books and half my clothes...). But as long as you leave it with good friends, it will be there waiting for you when you get back.
-There's no shame in asking for help.
-Working hard never fails to pay off. People will notice and respect you for it, regardless of what you actually achieve.
-Know your strengths. Likewise, know your weaknesses. It's OK to admit you don't know something.
-Don't get swine flu if you can avoid it.
-You can in fact live off of £4/week. It sucks and results in a lot of sauceless pasta, water, and walking everywhere, but it can be done. Trust me-I did it for 4 months.
-A boss who constantly gropes your ass isn't a good boss.
-Don't be petty. It gets you nowhere. The only thing it will get you is disgust from people who once had respect for you.
-When the papers say the economy sucks for job-seekers? They aren't kidding.
-Always remember who your friends are, and never forget to appreciate them.
-A true friend won't care if you can't afford to go out. If they really care about you, they're happy just to spend time together. £1 pizzas from Sainsbury's will keep you just as busy as a steak dinner.
-It's OK to need some alone time.
-Smoking is really bad for you. But it sure is fun.
-Facebook is great, but it's no substitute for human interaction.
-Using British slang in America isn't considered cool, just pretentious. Even when you're not doing it on purpose.
-It's OK to say "no" when absolutely necessary.

On that note, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, and the very best of New Year's to all!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving-less Thanksgiving

As I'm sure you're all aware, I'm still in the UK, for another 2 weeks anyway. Thus, once again, I spent this year sans Thanksgiving. True, it's a bit less depressing this time around as A) I'm now used to being in another country, and B) I'm only missing it by 2 weeks anyway, but I still feel I need to celebrate it in any way I can. So, here's my ever-so-cheesy, blatantly cliche list of things I'm thankful for this year.

I'm thankful for:
-Fiona for coming to visit me-I didn't realise exactly how much I missed her until she walked in the door.
-Rebecca, Stacy, and Chris for always being so enthusiastic about coming to dance class every Saturday-you guys are one of the highlights of my week!
-Lili for always making sure I don't starve when I'm destitute
-Zee for letting me into the cabaret show last week for free just because I held his camera for him
-Mimi for just being awesome-I'm so glad we got to know each other better this term, and I wish we'd gotten closer earlier!
-Charles for keeping me amused with philosophical conversations at society events
-Seb for being my poverty buddy. And for cooking me dinner that one time. And just being my friend.
-Adnan for our burger trips, random text message conversations, and Buffy trivia contests. I love hanging out with you, even when you are 30 minutes late.
-Everyone who put up with me this summer when I was in a serious funk, including Joe (especially Joe-poor guy was stuck in a house with me alone all summer!), Lili, Betsy, Rachel, Fiona, Matt, and my poor mother who had to listen to me whine on the phone constantly. Sorry about that, guys. It was a tough couple of months, but it's behind me now. Maybe I'll start referring to it as the Dark Ages.
-Betsy, Rachel and Fiona for keeping my chin up with the Latin fiasco and making me see the funny side to everything. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.
-Rachel for our Tuesday night pizza and wine dinners. They're the high point of my week.
-Clovis for being my new drinking buddy. We definitely should have started that sooner! Oh, well. Make your way to DC over Christmas and we'll make up for lost time!
-My sister Leigh for being not only an awesome sister and promising me Taco Bell immediately upon my return, but for being the bad kid so that everything I do looks tame in comparison. ;)
-My brother Adam for listening to me yammer to him endlessly on the phone when I'm bored.
-My dad for providing me with an outlet to bitch and moan when I need to.
-Will, Lizzy, Clare, and Mimi for working to make Honk! so much fun both times around; I really enjoyed that show!
-Caddy for letting me tag along on his Amsterdam trip without really knowing me. That's one way to become friends with someone!
-Lili for organising the France trip this summer, and everyone who came along-what an awesome experience! (And an extra shout-out to Fern for consistently feeding us in France!)
-Alicia Crane for always being willing to snuggle up in our pjs with teddy bears and watch a movie with me when we're both home.
-Betsy for being awesome, making my workday bearable via g-chat, bringing me trashy magazines when I was a depressed zombie, and putting together a ready-made group of friends for me in DC. Good work on that! :)
-Alex for being my London buddy for a while. God, that was fun. When are you moving back to DC?
-Stephanie for our Copenhagen adventures. Let's have more adventures when I'm back home, yes?
-Charlene for taking me out and buying me tea out of the blue-that was so much fun!
-Rhys, Gemma, Kendall, Rick, Rob, Dave, Daz, and Lou for always filling my Oxford trips with rip-roaring hilarity and never letting me get away with sobriety. (Particularly thanks to Rick for always letting me invade his house whenever I'm in town!)
-Shana for being so sweet and reaching out when she knew I needed it most.
-Manny A.F. for being my best friend, even from 3000 miles away. I'm so glad things haven't changed even after a year apart. Although this whole lack-of-a-dance-partner thing is starting to make me twitch....
-Grace for remaining not just a friend but truly family after all these years, and for making sure I was updated regularly when Parker was being born. That meant so much to me!
-Arianne for not only being such an awesome friend all the time, but for being so enthusiastic every time I call to the point of crying when I leave a voice message. That's love!
-Manny C. for our seldom yet always awesome phone chats. Talking to him always makes me smile!
-Nick A. for always randomly reminding me that he misses me in his own special way.
-Nick Osborne for still sending me random forwards that he knows I'll like even after I skipped off to another country.
-Liam for continuing to amuse me with random texts at odd hours of the night.
-Iona for being my friend-I always have fun with you, and so what if people always think I'm your big sister? Is that a bad thing? Huh? HUH?
-Dan Groz for being my halls buddy last year and for never exposing the dirt he has on me after countless drunk walks home (not that he could, given my dirt on him, but still!).
-Jeff for consistently walking home with me every night for an entire year. I miss me some Jeff.
-Matt for being the sweetest, most supportive man I've ever known. I would never have made it through the last 5 months without you. I love you. But you knew that.

I'm sure there are people that belong on this list that I've for one reason or another forgotten to include. I promise if I did it wasn't intentional! You all mean the world to me, and have made this past 18 months some of the best of my life. So thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In the Belly of the Beast

So my last post when I said that sometimes when it pours, it tsunami's? Well, sometimes when it tsunami's, it also hurricane's and earthquake's and Ice Age's and God knows what else.

I've never been a big believer in karma. I mean, yes, if you're horrible to people, eventually you'll find yourself alone, and if you're good to people, you probably won't. But I don't believe in the more mainstream idea of it where if you do something bad, nature will throw it back at you because that's the right thing to do, and if you do something good, riches will rain down upon you. And I hope I'm right, because if I'm wrong, then I must have taken to sleep-walking and butchering people in the night or something.

I know I have no real right to complain. As Matt, my boyfriend and the eternal screenwriter, says, I'm in the "belly of the beast" stage of epic storytelling, where the hero or heroine hits total rock bottom before things get better. And I know that most people do have to go through a phase where they've hit bottom. Hell, before they made it big with South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker were living in a one room apartment under a freeway, and watched the homeless guy outside their window make more money begging than they did making movies. And now look at them. I'm not saying I'm going to suddenly become famous and make millions, but I certainly hope this is all leading up to something good. I'm terrified that after all my hard work I'll fail my masters because I can't pass one stupid Latin exam, I can't quite seem to kick the last of this bug that I've now had for 3 weeks and counting, I'm so poor I actually can't afford to buy food (which I can handle for a while, but I've now been this poor for almost 3 months...bread and water is getting old). I don't know how I can afford to fly home in December, but I've got to because I REALLY can't afford to stay here. And I've been making an effort to reach out to people and reconnect with acquaintances so I'm not so lonely, and it's been going well, but it's hard to hang out with people when you're too poor to go out and do anything with them.

I'm sorry. I know my posts have been nothing but bitching and moaning of late, and the worst way to try and make people want to hang out with you is to constantly whine. But I can't help it-I think I've actually hit bottom. The only good thing in my life is Matt, and even that has it's torturous side, as we had 3 days together before being separated by an ocean again, and it's another 2 months until I can see him.

One day at a time. The only comforting thing I can think is, "This too shall pass". In the past, that's always been a source of comfort for me. But right now, it doesn't have quite the punch for me that it usually does. I guess just because I was hoping this period in my life would "pass" sooner. Guess I was wrong. 2 more months....somehow, I've got to make it two more months.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 4, 2009

When It Pours, It Tsunamis

You know the expression "when it rains, it pours"? Well, sometimes it feels like when it pours, it tsunamis. I know everyone goes through slumps and bad times, but I feel like this one just won't end. It's not even that big things keep going wrong (well, they do), but then it's little things on top of the big things that just keep adding up. Pretty much the only thing that's going well right now is my love life, except that it's 3,000 miles away. School went to the shitter when I found out I failed my Latin exam and my advisor decided when telling me about it to also inform me that I'm a terrible writer and I'm lazy, which didn't help the situation. Then I got a job, but couldn't start for a month because my boss was out of town. He's back now and contacted me, but I have no idea when he wants me to start, and in the meantime I have literally no money and credit card bills are due in 2 1/2 weeks, with rent due the week after. Most of my really close friends all moved to different countries last week, and the ones who are still here are for the most part out of town. And the health thing-well, you don't want to know. That's the big stuff. But it's little stuff too-like the dance class I teach once a week that pays for my groceries has now been cancelled 3 weeks in a row by the woman who hired me. Teaching wouldn't have really solved any major problems, but it would have at least solved the problem of "how do I eat for the next 7 days". The season change, as per usual, caused my asthma to start seriously acting up. Things like that. Normally I'm not one to publicly complain, but I just had to vent somewhere.

I've never been a depressed person. The longest I've ever stayed upset or down about something is probably 2 days, max. But it's like this month I can't find one single thing to cheer me up. The first couple of weeks, I was down, but at least I had my friends. But now they're gone. Matt's obviously supporting me as best he can, but sending thoughtful e-mails and letters isn't the same as hug when you really need one. For the first time in my life, I actually just feel defeated. A huge part of me just wants to move home now instead of December, but not only can I not afford a flight, but I can't back out of my housing and I have this stupid Latin test to re-take. I'm trying to see the positives, I really am. But I've never felt so alone in my entire life, and it's hard to look at the meager bright side when you have nothing but a stuffed dog and a ticking wall clock for company. I just feel completely isolated and lost, and I know that I'm pushing people away with my depression-the few people I have left here are no doubt sick to death of me being down in the dumps all the time. I'm trying to be cheerful when other people are around just so I don't lose everyone because I'm sucky company lately, but it's really hard. I wish just one thing would go right, like my boss would call and tell me to start tomorrow. We'll see.

I'm sure things will start looking up soon. I look at it this way-there's really nothing else that could go wrong. It can only get better from here, and bad things always pass in time. It just sucks while waiting for them to go on their merry way.

Sorry I'm a Negative Nancy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Change of Direction

As many of you have no doubt seen on Facebook, I'm considering moving back to the States come December. In response to the various "huh?"s and "what?!"s, I'm going to use my poor neglected blog as a vehicle to explain.

Due to recent events in my life, settling down here isn't really an option anymore. At least, settling down here permanently isn't. I've fallen madly in love with someone, and while I can work anywhere, he can't work here. If we're ever going to be able to be together, I'm the one who has to move. Please don't think this was his idea. It was entirely mine-he'd move here if I asked him to, but I never would. And to be honest, I don't know that I want to spend my life here anyway. I love it here, and the people are great, but culturally, I don't fit in. Also, as much as people in the UK preach tolerance and understanding of other cultures, there's not only a universal judgement but almost hatred for American culture here. I'm more than willing to adapt to other cultures, but constantly being judged for where I come from is exhausting. The US may have it's problems, but it's still my home, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life being treated as if I'm "less than" just because of my nationality. For both those reasons, a move back to the States is imminent.

Knowing that, I have 3 options:

A) Stay here for a year, then spend another three getting my PhD here, and then move back to the States.

B) Stay here for a year, apply for PhDs at home, and get a Tier 1 visa in the meantime so that I can work until August when I would leave for school.

C) Stay here through January when my visa expires, and go home to live with my mom and save up money until August when I move to wherever I get into school.

Originally, I was going with choice A, with choice B as a fallback. But honestly, the option of going to school here is pretty much gone now. I failed my Latin exam, and though my advisor has worked out a way for me to make it up without re-sitting it next June, I have to accept what that means. The reason I was looking at Kings (originally my first choice) was because I wanted to go into their History of Religion program. But that program requires Latin, and I have to accept that regardless of how hard I work, I'm not going to get in with a failed Latin exam, and I'm certainly not going to get funding. As Kings was the only school in the UK I was looking at for a doctorate, that eliminates choice A.

Choice B then became the plan; I got a job and was going to work on doctoral applications all year for programs in the States (I changed my PhD focus to something more modern that doesn't require the 5 languages my first choice did). But then I started running the numbers, and I just don't know if it's financially feasible. Right now, I'm making enough to support myself just fine. But the extra costs of living here are really adding up. First of all, a visa application is £450, and would need to be paid by October at the latest if I want to have my passport back by December to go home for Christmas. Then, there's the council tax that is due in January. I'm the only non-student in my house, which means I am entirely responsible for paying it. Yes, you do pay less if it's one non-student, but they only knock off 25%, which means I'd still be paying a least £1000. That's in addition to the fee for my visa and a round-trip flight home for Christmas. (Going home for Christmas is something I won't sacrifice...I only get to see Matt twice a year as it is, and I'm not going to give that up.) So altogether, that's around £2000, all shelled out by January. Then take into account the fact that my student loan payments start up in February at $500 a month, and you see the problem. I just can't afford to live here. I've made a lot of decisions in my life that financially weren't the best but provided me with great experiences, and staying here was going to be another of them. But I need to grow up. I need to be responsible and get out of debt sooner rather than later, and going home will certainly facilitate that. I would live with my mom (no rent, visa fees, or council tax), and could just put all the money I earn waiting tables or something towards paying off student loan fees and credit card bills. Then, if I get into a good PhD program and get funding, great, I'll move to wherever it is next August. If I don't, then I can start hunting for a more serious job and an apartment.

I won't pretend like Matt isn't a big part of this decision; he is. If he's willing to commit to a serious relationship knowing that we probably won't live in the same city for the next 6 years (US doctorates are 5 years long), then the least I can do is spend the 8 months I was going to spend putzing around here with him so we can actually spend some time together. We've known each other for 7 years, and the longest stretch of time we've had together is 3 days. E-mail is no way to start a long-term relationship. I've never been one to let a relationship affect my professional decisions, and I won't. I'll still go wherever I have to for school. But that doesn't mean I can't make any decisions with him in mind, especially if they're financially beneficial.

Lastly, most of my closest friends have officially moved to other countries as of today; Betsy, Jeff and Christine back to the States, and Fiona back to Ireland. I still have friends here, very good friends who I adore. But once the people you're closest to are gone, a place kind of loses its hold on you.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Finally Get It

Well, it happened. It took 25 years, dozens of good dates, more bad dates, and a lot of self-loathing, but it happened. I finally understand what all the love fuss is about.

I was always a cynic, too. I never believed that you could love someone unconditionally, or that you could have a relationship that was as natural as breathing, where even the difficult conversations come easily and stress-free. But I get it now. I finally understand that the cheesy songs, the lame poems, and the crappy rom-com movies have, if you're really lucky, got it right. And it just so happens, I'm really lucky. Despite the fact that, as we're on different continents, I miss him wretchedly, and as a result also understand exactly what the term "lovesick" really means, I wouldn't trade this feeling for anything.

I'm not trying to be a hopeless romantic either; I've always been very level-headed in pretty much every aspect of my life. I don't believe something exists unless I am given solid proof. So forgive my cheesy's just that I've finally found the proof.

Feel free to go and vomit now if you like. I've said what I needed to say.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I've recently been missing my Miami friends a lot. I mean, I always miss them, but for whatever reason, I miss them so much this week it almost makes me want to drop out of school and move back there just so I don't have to miss them anymore. I'd imagine the homesickness is so intense of late because it's Easter week, and pretty much all of my London friends went home for the holiday, resulting in a pretty lonely Easter for me.

But the point of this entry isn't to bitch and moan and try to earn pity. On the contrary; I hardly deserve pity if I'm lucky enough to have developed such close meaningful relationships with people that after 9 months I'm still affected this strongly by the distance. My point is, I can now see why some people think it's better to just not get close to people in the first place. I personally am not one of those people, but I see the logic. I lived in Miami for 6 years, which is a pretty significant amount of time-certainly long enough to build relationships that go beyond mere friendship. Arianne, Lucy, Manny C, Nick, Shana, Kevin, Monica, Manny (especially Manny)-these people were my family. Still are. But it's hard to separate from that kind of network. I naiively thought that maybe it would get easier over time, that we would grow apart, that after almost a year I wouldn't still want to call them every time something significant happens in my life-but that's not the case. I wouldn't trade these relationships for the world, but I am starting to understand how a less optimistic person than myself would choose to not build them in the first place so that when they inevitably separate they won't have to feel the pain.

Please don't misunderstand me-I would take a lot more pain than this as long as I got to keep those relationships. And my life is infinitely better for having them. And I'm not going to shy away from building those kinds of relationships here in London. But the pain I feel right now does give me pause-I don't intend to leave London anytime soon, but chances are it will happen eventually. Even if things do go as planned and I do my PhD here, what about after that? Academic jobs are so hard to find, it's almost definite that I'll have to move back to the US to find work. And by then, I will have been here 5 years. And I'll have to go through this separation all over again. I know most people fear starting out in a new place. They fear lonliness. They fear completely starting their life over from scratch. None of that scares me. What scares me is having to repeat this pain all over again with a whole new set of people, all the while still missing the old set no less than I did the week after I moved.

Like I said, it's not enough to make me shy away from getting close to people. But it's certainly no picnic, either.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dictionary for Americans

It has recently come to my attention that I've started to pick up so many British-isms that I don't even notice anymore. This is good for me, as I am now starting to fit in, at least as far as my vocabulary and slang are concerned. However, as most of my readers are American, I figure I should probably put up a vocabulary list so that you can decipher my musings. Enjoy!

Tube (n): Metro
Trainers (n pl): Sneakers (they can be any kind, not just running shoes. For example, my Converse sneakers are called trainers as are my exercise shoes)
Flat (n): Apartment, though flats can be as large as a townhouse, or even a duplex. Basically, it's anything that's not a free-standing house (which doesn't exist in London, anyway)
Top-Up (v): To put money on something, i.e. your tube card or mobile.
Mobile (n): Cell phone. Most people do pay-as-you-go, forcing them to top up whenever they run out of credit.
Pub (n): Anywhere with a walk-up bar that serves beer and food. If they only serve alchohol and not food, it's a bar, not a pub.
Mate (n): Friend. Only used among men. If a guy calls you his mate, and you're a girl, there's something wrong with either you or him. Probably you.
Snog (v): Make out.
Lovely (adj): Same meaning as in the US; however, it can be used by the general public as opposed to just by pretentious assholes. Is often used to describe a person's character, as in "Oh, he's lovely!" (N.B.: this does not imply that he's gay)
N.B.(?): Note well, look here, read this, etc.
Loo Roll (n): Toilet paper
Pants (n pl): Underwear. Never, I repeat, NEVER describes trousers (see below)
Trousers (n pl): Anything Americans would call "pants". Slacks, jeans, sweats, whatever.
Trakkies (n pl): Sweatsuit, work-out clothes.
Chav (n): The English version of white trash.
Hot Cross Buns (n pl): A breakfast food. Very good when they have chocolate chips in them.
Bit: Singular (adv): little, as in, "I like him a bit", or "I'd only like a bit of sugar"
Plural (n): 1) Orange juice pulp ("OJ with bits")
2) Chocolate chips ("chocolate bits")
Chips (n pl): Fries
Crisps (n pl): Chips
American (n or adj): An obnoxiously loud probably overweight tourist who wears a bumbag (see below)
Bumbag (n): Fanny-pack. Do not ever call it a fanny-pack.
Fanny(n): A rude word for the female genetalia.
Cheers (?): 1) The same as in the US, when toasting with drinks
2) Thanks ("Cheers for the pint, mate!"
Let's Go For a Pint: Let's Go Get Shitfaced. Does not necessarily mean you have to drink pints of beer. You can go for a pint and drink a bottle of wine if you so choose.
Bully (adj): Good, as in "Bully for you!"
Buggered (adj): Fucked (in the bad way)
Shagged (v, adj): Fucked (in the good way)
Knackered (adj): Tired
Gutted (adj): Exhausted to the point of feeling sick
Kings (n): Kings College London, aka The Most Evil Place in the Universe.
Uni (n): College (can also mean "campus", as in "I'll be at uni all day")
College (n): Last 2 years of high school
A-Levels (n pl): AP exams, except everyone has to take them
Well (adj): Very, way, as in "I'm well excited about this weekend!"
Fit (adj): Hot. Can also mean physically in-shape, but usually just means very attractive.
Society (n): Club, i.e. Drama Society, Chess Society
Professor (n): the head of the department
Lecturer (n): Everyone else who teaches at Uni
You all right?: How are you?
Fancy Dress Party: Costume party
Kebab (n): a pita-type thing filled with meat

So, with this guide, you should be able to successfully translate the following exercise (Picture a guy on the phone):
"Hey, you all right? I just took the tube down to Uni to have a pint with my mates, and I saw this really fit girl out at the pub with her friends. They were having a fancy dress party, so she was dressed as a Chav. I think it was a party for the dance society. All her friends were well fit! I'm a bit buggered right now as I need to top up my mobile, but if you're not completely gutted after meeting with your lecturers all day, then we should totally go meet up with them. Just put on some nice trousers and come meet me; there's a kebab-and-chips shop right near where we're going, so we can stop there on the way back to the flat. You should be fine to just wear your trainers. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get to snog one of them, or even shag them! Don't worry, I don't think any of her friends were Americans or Kings students-I think they're all from our uni. Right, see you in a bit. Cheers, bye!"

Once you can translate that passage successfully, you are officially competent in the art of British slang. Congratulations!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

French Frolicking

So my friend Alicia had this crazy idea that for her 21st birthday, a group of us should go to a villa in France for a week this June. I thought it sounded like fun, but a little far-fetched. But, lo and behold, due to her massive type-A organisational skills and bargain-hunting abilities, we're going! From June 13-20, 13 friends and I are staying in this lovely villa for only £105 per person:

Sometimes I love my life.

Another exciting aspect of the trip-I get to drive! I drove a tiny bit at Christmas, but otherwise, I haven't driven since August, which is very sad. I love driving. Unfortunately, me and my groups of passengers have to rent a car, due to the fact that everyone in the group who has a car drives a manual transmission and I don't know how, and nobody else is willing to drive on the right side of the road for 6 hours. (Silly British people thinking you're supposed to drive on the left side of the road....). I am a little wary of that whole driving-2-hours-on-the-left-side-of-the-road-to-get-to-Dover thing, as well as the whole concept of driving on the opposite side of the car. But I'll manage. It should be great fun-road trips are one of my favourite things ever.

I am well excited. (And judging my the structure of that sentance, am also picking up more British-speak than I thought I was...).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Life's a Journey, Not a Destination

My friend Fiona has a theory about me. She thinks that at some point in my unremembered past, I made a deal with God that I would be able to live a full life, but I would only have 25 years in which to do it, and thus I must live on hyper-speed. I hope she's wrong, because that means I'm dead as a doornail in 6 weeks, but I can see why one would think that. I'm always living for tomorrow. I have a list of things to do in life, and I try to stick to it like glue. My whole life up to this point has been conducted with the sole purpose of avoiding being one of those people who wakes up one day in their 50's and thinks, "Is this it? Why didn't I do more?". Of all the things in life I fear, that's the worst. I don't fear being alone, I don't fear an early death, I don't fear the unknown-I fear that. Regret for the things I didn't do.

But just recently I've started to wonder if maybe I'm not taking it too far. For example, the topic on everyone in my programme's mind right now is PhD applications. I will be honest-I don't really want to do one. It sounds nice in theory, but I'm not cut out to be an academic. I have the brains, sure, but I don't have the work ethic when it comes to studying or the competetive edge. I don't have the patience to sit inside studying ancient languages all day. I wish I did, but I simply don't. If I've learned nothing else from this year, it's that. However, I find it intensely difficult to reconcile myself with this, because getting a PhD is on my list of things to do in life. I really, really, really want to be called Dr. Prior someday. But honestly? That might be the only reason. Yes, I would love to teach at the university level, and I would love to write books on religion, but I don't need a PhD for that; I'd be just as happy teaching at community college and writing popular non-fiction for a less educated audience as I would teaching at UCL or NYU or somewhere and writing for academic journals. More than that, I don't want to spend the next three to five years still in school. But, I do want to be able to say I got my PhD.

I won't lie, it's probably a vanity thing. I want to be able to say I did it more than I actually want to do it. So which is better-ticking something off my to-do list or just accepting that maybe I won't ever have a doctorate and sitting back and enjoying life? Objectively, this shouldn't seem like a hard question to answer, but for me, it rather is. More than anything, it's made me reflect on other aspects of my life; am I too busy accomplishing my goals to spend the proper amount of time with all my friends? Or to meet a guy I might actually date for more than 3 months?

Of all the aspects of my life that have suffered, I think my love life is probably the worst. I've always just been too busy to date, and every time I do start seeing someone, I wonder if I won't get stuck in a rut and end up with the wrong guy and-you guessed it-wake up in 30 years regretting it. What if I do meet Hypothetical Dream Guy and am too busy to notice? What if he asks me out and I say no because I've got plans that night? What if I could have this amazing life with someone with a relationship that other people dream of having, but am too selfish to rearrange my life in order to be with him because he wasn't part of the original plan?

I know this all seems very far-fetched. But still...what if?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All Shook Up

Any of you ever get completely and totally stressed out for no reason whatsoever? For whatever reason, I woke up at 7:03 this morning freaking out. About nothing, about everything, I'm not exactly sure. It's like every little thing I should have been worried about this past year but wasn't suddenly built up and exploded.

What if I've been goofing off too much and I flunk out? What if the last paper I wrote wasn't at the MA level? What if I don't get this job I really want? What if I do and then I discover I don't have time to do my dissertation as well as I want to? What if I can't find a job at all and I just become another sob story, a casualty of the failing economy? What if all these new friends I've been making actually don't really like me at all? What if I'm fat and don't know it? What if I never find a decent guy to date because I seem to have a sign on my forehead that says "Socially Awkward Guys Stop Here"? What if I keep having uncontrollable asthma attacks and something bad happens? What if I can't get my visa sorted out? What if I can't afford to fly to the US to see all the people I love anytime soon? What if I don't get to meet Grace's baby until he's not even a baby anymore? What if I lose touch with Manny? What if I should be practicing my religion more than I am? What if I haven't studied enough? What if I'm the personification of the American stereotype? What if I'm actually a talentless ass-clown? What if I don't graduate? What if all my friends move away after school's over and I end up alone in a country where I have no family? What if I end up alone, period? What if I'm drinking too much? What if the occasional cigarette is worse for me than I thought? What if my diet is so bad that in ten years I'll totally regret it? What if my bad hip gets worse and I'll need a hip replacement before I turn 30 and I'll never be able to dance professionally again? What if I go broke and ruin my already-questionable credit? What if everyone actually hates me? What if I'm wasting my 20's just waffling around while everyone else in the world is actually working towards a career? What if I regress to my teenage self? What if I never recover from the horrors of high school? What if I die before seeing the Grand Canyon? What if I never write my crappy un-publishable novel? What if I'm actually dumb?

It's days like this that make me think I should probably allow myself to get stressed/upset/sad/angry when the mood strikes, and not brush it all off until it builds up to an explosion twice a year. I never take my explosions out on anyone else, but it's probably not healthy for my mental well-being.

Does anyone else ever feel like this? Or is it just me?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maybe Grandma Was Right...

When I was a kid, every time I would complain about being bored, my grandmother would invariably respond, "Boredom is reserved for those who aren't intelligent enough to entertain themselves."

If she was right, then my IQ must be about 47.

You know when you get to that state of boredom where you don't even want to do anything? Where every possible activity sounds boring as all hell? That's where I am right now. Latin homework? No way. Research for my paper on medieval Islamic scholarship? Not a chance. Shower? Too much effort. Eat? I feel fat. Call someone? No one to call. Go on Facebook? Been on it all evening. Watch a movie? Nothing to watch, despite the fact that I own probably 200+ DVDs. Go to sleep? Not tired.

Le sigh.

On the bright, non-complainy side of things, it was really nice out today! It got to almost 60 farenheit, which just made my week. I took my book and my ipod and went to the park across the street from my dorm and just sunbathed-it was fantastic. And, it's odd, although I adore living in the middle of a city, I never realised how much better it is when it's warm. The entire tone of the city perceptibly changes; people are just a bit more friendly on the street, there are couples out walking their dogs and playing in the park with their kids and people reading on the grass and out strolling just to be outside-the entire town just came alive today. I in no way have seasonal affective disorder (I rather like the gray damp dreariness), but being able to actually sit outside and enjoy it today just made my entire weekend. I hope the sun doesn't go into hiding again. It's such a rare visitor to Britain, it would be nice if it stayed around for a while.

In other news...let's see...not much other news to report, actually. I went to an acting workshop today which invariably reminded me once again how shit an actor I am. Nothing I didn't already know. Which I'm totally comfortable with; I'm ok with just being good enough to get to the next song or dance (things I'm actually decent at). Still, it was good to get some pointers. The guy teaching the workshop was really really good. (And really really pretty, which helps.) I did learn a lot...he didn't magically turn me into a decent actor or anything, but not everyone can work miracles. ;) Also on the performing front, I'm starting to build up a following of dance students...I'm teaching ballroom, tap, ballet, and musical theatre dance techniques for the musical theatre society at my uni, and I've got a lot of demand for more lessons. Mayhaps I can use this for future income...'tis a possibility.

I've also decided it's time to do a makeover on myself. I've always had a reeeeeally low opinion of my looks, but I do recognise that I can be decent looking when I actually make an effort to be so. Thus, I am going to the eye doctor this week to get contacts, I'm going to the salon next week to get my hair back to the red it used to be when I lived in a place that was distantly acquanited with the sun, and I'm going to do some serious dieting. There's no reason for me to be all bummed out about my physicality when there are things I can do to improve my self-image. More than wanting to feel attractive, I want to stop being all low-self-esteemie when I look in the mirror. Maybe not the healthiest way to go about it, but it's a start, anyway. So-makeover time! Also, on the dieting front, I'm starting to realise that if I don't get healthy now, I'll seriously regret it later in life. I already abuse my body in ridiculous ways with all the dancing I do, the least I can do is keep myself properly nourished and healthy so my insides are in better shape than my joints.

Speaking of nothing having to do with that whatsoever, I only have 2 more weeks of class! Less than that really, as I have no class the thursday or friday of week after next, and my wednesday class is Latin, in which I have a test Monday, meaning we'll probably all just go to a pub instead of having a lesson on Wednesday. (Another reason to love England-that's a perfectly normal thing to do.) Yay! Then my life becomes dissertation craziness, which I'm comfortable with. Sweet.

OK, now that I've put you in a state of boredom worse than my own, I suppose I'll sod off and go back on Facebook or something. Maybe I'll even sign on to Myspace; who knows?! But let's not get crazy....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Smelling the Roses...

In case you were wondering, this is definitely going to be one of those vomit-inducingly sappy entries.

You know when your life somehow arrives at that place where you're just inexplicably happy all the time? Where you sit back and look at the circumstances of your current situation and just smile? I'm there right now. It's not that I haven't been happy in London before now...I have been very much. However, I am one of those people whose happiness is really determined by my friends. Ever since I was a kid, my friends have been as important to me as family; once I get close to a person and really start to love them, I can't imagine my life without them. And when I get a good close group of friends that I truly love, nothing can get me down. And that's the point at which I've recently arrived.

Of course, I've had friends since about 2 days after my arrival in London; making friends has never been a challenge for me (thank God). But it takes time to get to the point in your relationships where you are truly comfortable with people and are able to completely be yourself with them. When you're just getting to know someone, it's kind of weird to call them just because you're bored, or to tell them something trivial that made you happy, or whatever. And I never really mentioned anything on my blog about this, but I was a little depressed for the first month or so that I was here, simply because I didn't have that yet. I had friends, but I didn't have best friends, if that makes any sense. But just in the last month or so, I feel like my proverbial cup has begun to runneth over. Of course, I would be lost without Fiona, Betsy, Jeff, and all my other friends from my course, but I've also gotten a lot closer to my theatre friends, and I think that's what really cemented my current giddiness. I know for a fact that if my soon-to-be-flatmates Alicia and Joe suddenly disappeared, I would be completely lost. Also, being a complete tomboy, it's been really disconcerting not having a bunch of guys around to hang out with. However, just recently I started hanging out with the musical theatre boys, and I finally feel like myself now that I'm hanging around a bunch of men all the time. That sounds silly, but having grown up with nearly all male friends and then going through college with mostly men friends, it has been very strange to try and be myself around almost all women. I love my women friends here more than life, but there's still a sense of comfort and security and ease that comes with hanging around guys, and I think the recent deluge of male friends in my life is largely responsible for the happiness I've been feeling lately.

Anyway. Friends are good. They make me happy. Now that I've finally found my niche, I don't think I could leave London even if I wanted to. :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Picture Time Again!

So I know in my last entry I promised Amsterdam pictures, but my dear travelling companion has yet to post them up on Facebook, thus rendering me picture-less. However, I do have a bunch of pictures from this weekend's production of South Pacific. I will state for the record that as I am STILL too lazy to buy a camera, these pictures have all been blatantly ripped off of my friends' Facebook accounts, with no attempt whatsoever at subtlety. As you can see, most of these pictures were not taken during rehearsals or performances when we were all reasonably composed, but during the after-party once the wine started flowing. I, contrary to all appearances, am completely sober in these pictures. Judge me how you will.

The entire cast of South Pacific. Good luck trying to find me; it's like a game of Where's Waldo.

My friend Rich and me backstage during Intermission

My friend Isaac likes to pick girls up and carry them around when he's drunk.

No, really. He does.

Rebecca, Asif, Rich, Helen, and myself. I apparantly didn't get the memo that we were supposed to smile and NOT look like idiots.

Sometimes my friends have naked time. I've been told that it's a chemical reaction that occurs when you mix alchohol and musical theatre boys; however, I suspect sexual repression is to blame.

Naked time with my director. That sounds a lot dirtier than it actually is.

The nurses during intermission of the final show.

This wasn't taken at the cast party, but it was a cast party, so it counts. Obviously, my friends and I are totally hardcore. Obviously.

I made my musical theatre boys come and crash my friend Betsy's semi-formal house party. I think the level of classiness went down about 10 notches upon our arrival.
NB: The guy attempting to lick my face is my flatmate as of this coming May. God help me.
That's all for now. I hope that in posting these I have now provided you with sufficient fodder to take the piss out of me for at least the next few months.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Hello, gentle readers! My apologies for the prolonged's been one of those crazy months without much of a break to speak of. But I'm back now from the great beyond, and shall proceed to fill your heads with the brainless minutia of my life that I know you've come to love so deeply. :/

First, the school update. Things are going reasonably well with my course; I've only got 5 weeks of class left, then my life becomes Dissertation Centrale. Our topics are officially due on March 2nd, which means I've really got to get on that whole picking a topic thing. I know I want to do something regarding the relationship between Judas and Satan in the Middle Ages, but I just need to shape it and sort out exactly what I need to be researching. Should be pretty interesting though-I'm excited.

Enough of the whole school thing-on to fares of a more interesting nature. I've decided I'm definitely going to stay in London for at least another year, hopefully more. I've already agreed to live with my friends Alicia and Joe as of this May, which should be tons of fun. Normally living with a couple might be a bit awkward, but I'm really close friends with both of them, so I'm not concerned. I think it will be great fun. Now I just need to commence the job search so that I can in fact afford to live here for another year without having to set up residence in a cardboard box.

In other more exciting news, I just got back from an impromtu trip to Amsterdam, which was awesome. I was out drinking with a group of friends last Wednesday, and one of them was like, "Hey, I've got to go to Amsterdam to do some research, who wants in?" Obviously, everyone said yes. However, sobriety-induced reason caused everyone but me to drop out afterwards, and it ended up just being me and my friend Caddy tooling around Holland for 3 days, which ended up being a lot of fun. We didn't really know each other all that well when we left, but we sure do now-being in a confined space with someone for 80+ hours will do that to you. We're both extremely easy-going, so it worked out really well, I think. We even ended up making a big group of friends in a trannie bar. Backstory: we were hanging around our hostel drinking beer and smoking some weed (it was Amsterdam, after all), when we decided that we should try and go clubbing, being on vacation and everything. So we got gussied up and went outside, only to remember that it was FREEZING at night in Amsterdam in February. Instead of wandering around looking for a club, we chickened out and ended up going into the first bar we found-which, naturally, ended up being a transexual karaoke bar. And it was awesome. We instantly made friends with a whole bunch of people who kept dragging us up onstage and having us sing with them. We then appeased them by singing some Phantom of the Opera for them, which started a trend of musical theatre-themed karaoke from there on out. One of the guys just so happened to be a salsa instructor, and he and I cut a rug for a good 30 minutes, which was a ton of fun. Another hilarity-ensuing moment: while Caddy was outside smoking, one of the men we were talking to came up to me and asked if I would mind if he flirted with my boyfriend. Now, the nice thing to say would have been either A) "he's not actually my boyfriend, but he is straight, so I don't think you'll get very far; it's not really worth trying" (the truth), or B) "Actually, I'm kind of a jealous girlfriend, and I don't really like it when people hit on him" (blatant lie, but would have achieved the desired effect). Of course, being the awesome friend that I am, I went for option C) "Of course not! I'm actually really confident in our relationship, so go ahead and hit on him as much as you want. In fact, if you can win him from me, you can have him!"

I'm the nicest friend EVER.

Anyway, long story short (too late), the evening was a complete drunken success with lots of fun had by all. I know there's photographic evidence of all this, but I don't have it-as soon as it goes up on facebook, I'll pirate some of the pictures and post them for your enjoyment.

Anywho, that's about all I've got for interesting anecdotes at the moment. I promise to update more regularly; my current show closes next Saturday, so I'll have a lot more free time on my hands as of next weekend. Until then, aribaderci!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

There is an Island Called Passive-Aggressiva...and I am Their Queen

My name is Colleen, and I'm passive aggressive.

I know the point of life is to learn...strive towards the ultimate goal of self-actualisation, all of that. And once I learn a lesson, I am grateful for the tutelage that life provided me. But the actual learning of the lesson? That's always hard. And I learned today that I am a bonafide passive-aggressive.

I won't go into the details of how I learned this, mainly because I'm ashamed of myself. But I discovered something important...I've always known that the reason I avoid difficult topics and conversations is that I'm terrified of confrontation. The idea of upsetting or insulting or offending someone, even inadvertantly, makes me physically sick to my stomach. But sometimes it's better to say something important that might be hurtful quickly. If you don't, then frankly, you're showing disrespect to the person you tried to avoid hurting in the first place. Obviously, if the hurtful comment isn't totally essential, it's best to leave it alone, but if it's something that absolutely has to be said, then it's disrespectful not to say it, as long as it's said in the gentlest possible way and with nothing but the best intentions. If things remain unsaid and you avoid conflict, all that will happen is a bigger confrontation once everything eventually comes out-and it most definitely will, of that you can be sure. So what's better in the long run-avoid confrontation out of fear as long as possible until you're forced to deal with not only the original problem but the compounded one of already hurt feelings, or just showing respect and getting it over with quickly? Obviously option B is rationally preferable, but I can't help making the mistake of choosing option A over and over again.

But I think I've finally learned my lesson. I've always considered myself a person who shows others the respect I would myself like to be shown. But dishonesty is certainly a form of disrespect, even if you think you're trying to be nice. My next goal on my road to self-improvement-man up and deal with problems when they arise. Everyone will be happier in the end.

p.s. sorry about the lame Grey's Anatomy quote for a title, but it just fit so well with the theme....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Glories of a Failing Economy

Disclaimer: in this entry, I am in no way trying to make light of the current global financial situation, nor am I trying to take pleasure in other people's pain.

OK, maybe I am a little bit. :)

As most of you are I'm sure aware, the pound has always been stronger than the dollar. And the Euro. And the Kraun. And the Australian dollar. And every other monetary currency that one can dream up. However, that changed last week when the pound dropped below 1.3 to the dollar, and is now equal to the Euro. And it just so happens that the pound dropped the exact day that my loan cheques were converted from dollars into pounds. Which basically means that although my loans are the exact same amount in dollars this term as they were last term, I now have almost twice as many pounds. That's right. My cheque increased BY 3,000 POUNDS this term.

I know the economy really sucks right now. But God, I love it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Making Responsible Decisions

It's not so easy being a grown-up. I mean, sure, there's wine and freedom involved, but I think today I finally started to learn that being a grown-up is more than that. It's about making difficult choices that will benefit you in the long run. For example, the last week or so I've been having some financial difficulty. Nothing too major, and I've now sorted it out, but it really got me thinking about some of the choices I've made in the past and how maybe they were not the most mature route I could have taken. For example, in college I built up a lot of credit card debt doing things that I didn't necessarily need to be doing, like backpacking through Europe and the like. Now, I'm not saying that I regret doing those things; I gained quite a bit of life experience throughout my various adventures. I think maybe there's a time and place for being young and stupid. But now that I'm older and perhaps a tiny bit wiser, I'm starting to look at the big picture. Yes, it would be nice to go travelling-if I truly had the money to do so. It would be great to take out a lot more student loans, but what happens when I finally have to start paying them off? It doesn't seem like such a big deal right now to make a late payment on a bill, but what about in 5 years or so when I decide I want to buy a house? Or even before that-what if next year I get a job in a city where I need a car and I don't have the proper credit to buy one? What if I don't build up my credit to where it needs to be in the next couple of years, and then end up wanting to get married? Not that I see that really happening in the near future, but what if it does? I can't bring bad credit into a marriage. I know this is all hypothetical at this point in my life, but to be honest, it won't be hypothetical a few years from now. And the time has finally come to start thinking about that. I can no longer be immature about my life choices and always opt for immediate gratification. Yes, it seems like a really awful prospect to have to wait a few years to start my PhD, but how smart is it to start one when I can't afford it? It's not like I'm going to medical school to be a brain surgeon; religious studies professors aren't known for their inflated salaries.

So I've decided to start taking the bull by the balls, so to speak. My current problems just about sorted, it's now time for a long term plan. I'm thinking seriously about donating eggs. I won't lie, my first priority would be to get out of debt entirely, but as high-paying one-off things go, it's a good thing to do. There are plenty of worse ways to make a lot of money. I know a lot of people have a moral objection to doing this; women only have a limited number of eggs, there will be a kid somewhere in the world with my genes, etc etc. But I don't see it that way. I see it as a chance to give an infertile couple the thing they want most. I mean, I personally think it would be wiser for said hypothetical couple to adopt, as there are millions of homeless children out there to love, but if they really want a child by birth, and I can give it to them and get out of debt in the meantime, why not? Like I said, there are plenty of worse ways to earn money. Step two on my road to maturity and financial stability-take at least a year off before my PhD. I don't really want to, but it's the smart thing to do. I need to find a job and save up money so that I can do this the responsible way.

Normally I'm not a proponant of New Year's Resolutions, as I see no reason why the Julian calendar and the position of the Earth around the sun should have any effect on our ability to efficiently resolve ourselves on a goal, but I guess if I were to make one, this counts as mine. It's time to start living like an adult and planning for the future. In 3...2...1..go!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The One With All The Pictures

So it occurred to me that because I'm too lazy to buy a camera, I haven't posted any pictures of my life in London, and it's about darn time I did. Worth a thousand words, yada yada yada. So I engaged in some stealthy thievery of my friends' facebook albums, and have come up with a succint photographic summary of my life thus far across the pond. They were supposed to be in choronological order, but they're not. My apologies to any OCD sufferers out there.

Michaela and me at Phineas, the on-campus student bar a couple
months ago.
Claire and me at Murphis (aka Murphy's with an I) Karaoke night
for Fiona's birthday last night. This is the legendary "Fiona Pose".

From left to right: Fiona, Rachel, Betsy, Holly, and myself at Blues Bar...November? December? Not really sure.

Kendall and I dressed up as Sherlock Holmes and Watson
for Andy's birthday party in October.

Reuniting with Manny C. over New Year's in Miami...

Lucy, Arianne and myself talking full advantage of Manny's self-serve
fully stocked bar on New Year's Eve.

Me, Monica, and "my" Manny on NYE

Seeing Manny again for the first time. Even though my arrival wasn't the surprise it
was supposed to be, it was still a great night.
Me, Claire, Betsy, and Rachel waiting to get into Blue's Bar. Less
drunk pictures of me have been taken...

Me and Fiona on our regular Phineas Wednesday night

All the girls-Betsy, Rachel, Fiona, Michaela, and me at Phineas. On a Wednesday. Again.

Me, Fiona, Jeff, Betsy, and Katie on our first night out as a group way back in October.

Jon and me at the Colliseum when we backpacked Italy in September.

Clockwise, from left: Dave, Genevieve, Jon, Janice, Swanny, Fiona (different Fiona), and me in Positano eating super-awesome pizza. We were all in the same hostel together, and thus befriended each other over pizza and trips to the beach.

That's all for now, folks! Hope that will satiate your thirst for pictures until I get around to actually procuring a camera...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Parker's On His Way!

So I just found out some great news-my best friend Grace went into labour today!!! I wish so much that I could be there with her right now...we've been through everything together since I was 8 and she was 6; it feels wrong that she should reach such a milestone in her life when I'm not there. But, we pull through.

Anyway. Parker. I'm too excited for words. I think I've said this before, but I find it amazing how much you can love someone you haven't even met yet. I'm just so jazzed to meet this baby. Don't get me wrong-I'm in no way ready to be a mom. There are a million things I want to do first (not the least of which is be in a relationship that lasts longer than 6 months). However, I am ready to be a proud auntie. I want to be there for Parker when he starts to grow up and becomes his own person. I want to be around to help guide him during those times when you just really don't want to talk to your parents about what's bothering you. I want to be the cool aunt that he feels he can connect to. Every kid needs an adult in their life who will be honest with them and won't judge them or be too overprotective; I want to be that for Parker. I've been sending letters for Parker to Grace for the last 7 months for her to keep for him for when he grows up; I really hope she does save them. I sent one over to him just today telling him what's going on in the world today while he's being born; the top 5 books, movies, songs, news stories, etc. I told him how old all his aunts and uncles are and where they live and what they are doing. I can only hope that when he's old enough to appreciate it, that will mean something to him. I told him how lucky he is to have such great parents who love him so much, and when he grows up to look for a girl just like his mom, and when he finds her, treat her just the way his dad treats Grace. I hope he listens. He really has no idea how fortunate a baby he is to have that family.

God, I'm so excited. I normally don't pray that often, not as often as I used to anyway, and definitely not as often as I probably should. But a safe delivery? That's definitely something I'll pray for. I always knew I liked kids, but I never knew quite how much until the news of Parker came along. I guess I am a kid person, after all. At least when they're someone else's kids and you can return them when they get noisy or start leaking, anyway. :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Most Important Lessons of 2008

I'm a firm believer that we never stop learning. I'm not talking about academics; it's life lessons I'm referring to. Life is, contrary to popular belief, actually quite kind to us. Every time something happens, bad or good, it comes with a lesson. The problem usually lies in the fact that we just don't, you know, listen. So because I'm a firm believer in trying to actually move forward with the knowledge that life unceremoniously throws into my face, here is my list of the top lessons I've learned in 2008.

1) If you work long enough and hard enough, what you're striving for will come to you. Maybe not in the way you expect, but eventually it will. The difficulty lies in getting back up after you fail and trying again. Trying to keep going after a failure is one of the most difficult and painful things a person ever has to do, but it will pay off in the end.
2) Be direct with people. Never stop being kind, but don't let kindness turn into falseness.
3) Be honest in everything you do.
4) No matter how many people you love, there is always room for one more. Love is funny that way; it doesn't spread itself thin.
5) Great friends are rare. A group of them is a downright miracle. Treat them well.
6) Overdrafts are bad.
7) So are credit card bills. Especially when you pay them late.
7b) Paying the minimum balance will only keep your balance from not going up; it won't take your debt down in any way. Interest sucks.
8) There will always be an "us" and a "them". Be very careful in making assumptions about the "them" of the day; human nature does in fact veer towards equality.
9) Gossip is destructive, and engaging in it will only lessen the respect others have for you.
10) Actions don't make people; intentions make people.
11) Just because you're bad at something doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
12) Age really truly is just a number. Maturity is what matters.
13) Surprise parties are almost never a surprise. But it's still nice to try.
14) There's a difference between knowing your talents and being cocky about them. The first is vital, the second lethal.
15) Every single person in the world has something to teach you.
16) Cigarettes will not in fact help you sober up. I learned that the hard way.
17) Some stereotypes actually do have truth to them. (I hate to say it, and no disrespect to my new country of residence, but British food? BLECH!)
18) Yes, it is really fun to sit in front of the tv in your pjs for hours. But don't do it more than once a week.
19) Having a straight friend of the opposite sex in whom you're not interested is a really valuable thing. When they give you romantic advice, listen to them.
20) If you have the capacity to help someone, do. It may inconvenience you a little bit, but not only will it come karmically full circle, but it's just the right thing to do. It's part of being a good person.
21) Take care of your body. You don't need to be a gym bunny or a health food nut, but now is the time when you should be taking care of yourself so that later you can retain the health you take for granted now.
22) Hobbies enrich your life and make you an interesting person. Make time for them.
23) Learn to recognize when he's just not that into you.
24) Read. Even if it's crappy vampire fiction (my personal form of crack), make sure you're reading something. Movies are great, but they are NOT a substitute for literature.
25) Every now and then, turn off your phone and spend some time with your friends. You won't realize how many hours a day you spend looking at your phone until you turn it off.

And my personal motto, if something isn't going to bother you three days from now, don't let it bother you today. It will only give you heart problems.