Monday, November 22, 2010

Haphazard Celabratory Wino

I want to write. Seriously? Yes, seriously. Despite the fact that I spend every "free" moment of my life these days writing, I still desire to put the pen to the paper--or fingers to the keys--if you will. However, I don't feel like I've got anything substantial or organized to write about, so I'm going to ramble as I happily sip on a delightful glass of wine...

Love is in the Air
It's been over a month now since Victoria and Seth's wedding, so maybe I should start there. Now we all know that weddings and general are beautiful, but this wedding was just plain exceptional. From the start, I was honored to spend the day with the lovely bride as she prepared for the big ceremony. Dawn and I were with Victoria, her mom, and sister for most of the day as we all got our hair and makeup done. As for the ceremony, it was the most holy, blessed wedding I have ever attended, and probably will ever attend. Seven, yes SEVEN, priests served as concelebrants, which just really helped to demonstrate the sanctity of this sacred sacrament. You also could have sworn that everyone in south Louisiana was in attendance; so many guests were honored to witness the unity of this most blessed couple. If there's one thing I learned about Victoria and Seth is that they are loved...loved my many, loved by all. That's pretty darn special, if you ask me.

Skip forward a bit, and I attended another wedding recently--just yesterday, in fact. Jessica (better known as J-Smith), one of my officemates, married the love of her life, Jason. It was my second-ever outdoor wedding, and first-ever Baptist wedding. Not that I didn't expect there to be cultural differences, but there were a few traditions and dances, etc. that were completely new to me. It was definitely a learning experience. As all brides are, J-Smith was beautiful indeed, and her wonderful soon-to-be-husband was in awe of her glory. It was so sweet. One thing I took away from this celebration was the beauty in making a wedding all your own. Every bit of this wedding oozed personality of the happy couple. From the silly faces and hand-picked cotton decorations, to the unity soil, to the grand exit via John Deere, Jessica and Jason's personalities shined through. If I ever get married, I want it to be that way. I want to share food and traditions that are rooted deep in my being with all of the people who mean the most to me. That, to me, is one of the purest ways to honor the couple and their God that the designed them so.

Job-ly Juggles
Another thing that seems to be in the air these days is job juggling. One of my roommates, Courtney, recently got accepted for a managerial position at the NC State Vet School. She just left her job at the NC State Employees Credit Union and will be starting at the vet school next week. Another roommate of mine, Emily, went on a job interview for an Agricultural Education teacher position way out east near the coast. (She hasn't heard back yet.) Several of my classmates are actively (and not so actively) pursuing the job front. Jess is applying for Extension Agent (4-H & Livestock) positions across the state. It seems as though Justine and Elizabeth may just get lucky and have a couple of AgEd jobs fall right into their laps at just the right moment.

As for me, I don't think I mentioned that I applied for a Program Coordinator position at Victory Junction Gang Camp way back in September. About 6 weeks later I heard they were really behind in the process, and that we should assume we did not get the job if we didn't hear from them by Nov. 17. Well, last I checked, today is Nov. 22, and I've yet to hear anything so I'm going to assume that I didn't get the job or they decided not to fill the position (I heard that too.). I'm totally cool with that because, this way, I have all the time in the world to commit to writing... In any case, I have been thinking a lot about camp lately, which means that I really hope the stars align for me to spend a fourth summer at my home away from home. Now that, is a recipe for heart happiness. <3 br="">
-Rascal Flatts' newest cd came out last week and once again I am pleasantly pleased...or in love...however you want to look at it! Just like I did 19 months earlier, I listened to the cd four consecutive times in the first few hours after acquiring the album. Two things were different this go round: my dearest Nicholas was not present to press "repeat," yet my lovely Lendy patiently relished in my obsessive anticipation of the awesomeness that is a new RF cd! Let's just say it was a good day. (I should note that I'm currently listening to the album for oh...about the 12th time...tehe.)
-Today I turned in the first three chapters of my thesis to my committee chair. (Yes, I am celebrating by drinking a whole bottle of wine by myself.) AHH!! Wahoooooooo!! (Ontomotopias continue.) Granted, my Chair has revised Chapters 1 and 3 about three times by now, but it was my first go at Chapter 2. Hopefully, I won't have to make too many revisions this go 'round, and instead I can focus more on data collection and formatting the chapters that I do have, before I start writing again in a few weeks. The plan is to finish data collection and analysis mid-December, have Chapters 4 and 5 as well as a conference paper submitted by mid January, a presentation designed by mid February, my defense March 2nd, the manuscript submitted by April 1, and a journal article accepted for publication by the end of May. So much to do! I have to say, birthing a thesis is much like birthing a child--exciting, and scary, and proud, and overwhelming all at once. Thank goodness I've got my rocks to care for me along the way...and share in the silliness while we're at it. 8-)
--All this talk about submissions can only mean one thing...the semester is almost over!! I'll save much of those details for perhaps another day, but let's just all get excited because we're one month, and one semester closer to the enddd. While we may spend the holidays writing, it will be worth for all the days in sweatpants and nights curled up watching movies on the couch. I may not be the most jovial at this time of the year, but I will admit that there are some definite perks to the season.

I must say, although the wine is delightful, if I don't stop now, things may get interesting. Forgive me for the lack of cohesiveness in this here entry; maybe I'll find something better to write about soon. That, or I'll just open another bottle and return again shortly, jk...maybe?


Ta-ta for now, folks!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Life Lesson #57826

With all this talk about anxiety that is life (or grad school), I felt like it might be a good time to talk about another type of stress relief--vacation! While music is a great coping mechanism, especially in the "immediate" and the "short-term," everyone needs a break from time to time. For most of us, we may have experienced Fall Break only a few short weeks ago, and the holiday season will soon be upon us (Thanksgiving in a little over 2 weeks, Christmas in 6?!). But what about in between the holidays...those weeks that we seem to just exist, mindlessly, turning in one paper after another, or floating from one day to the next, never really knowing what came before or what comes next?

To put it simply, we need a vacation! I know, I know, you're thinking, "Lauren, vacations cost money, and quite frankly, I cannot afford (both financially and schedule-wise) to get away for a week (or even a few days)!" Despite the fact that some of you may think I don't actually do any schoolwork, I do understand financial and scheduling constraints associated with vacationing.

In regard to financial constraints, I'm not sure if any of you have heard, but there is a new phenomenon gaining popularity--staycations. According to the ever-resourceful, a staycation involves, "Staying at home during your vacation instead of traveling to a pleasure destination. This can be caused by high gas prices, or just a shortage of money." The idea of a staycation sounds pretty cool; stay home and play games with the family, cook, watch movies, read books...or be a tourist in your own hometown, looking at the city with rose-colored glasses and exploring sites you've always said you're "too busy" to visit.

I hear staycations can be pretty fun. In fact, one of my good friends said her family did a staycation as a way of saving money for an upcoming wedding they were planning. They all seemed to really enjoy it, and it severed to be a great excuse for family bonding time. Who can argue with that?

And yet another alternative to the vacation is...the daycation! Again, our friend the defines daycation as, "A short trip out of town for only a day. Leave in the am and return in the pm." Daycations encourage the exploration of new or different locations, but typically don't break the bank or put a wrench in your schedule or standing commitments. So, for the mid-range financially burdened one, or the busy-yet-needing-a-break one, daycations may be the answer.

Daycations are probably the most challenging for me to wrap my brain around because I'm such the concrete/sequential individual who isn't entirely adept at changing plans on a whim. However, the daycation seems most properly excecuted as a last minute decision to have a daylong adventure. Thankfully, I have a bit of a diverse group of friends, many of which challenge me to step out of my comfort zone every once in a while. ;-)

That being said, I'm finally getting to the true inspiration for this entry. Yesterday, Lendy and I went on a daycation! What started out as the idea of an opportunity to visit the mountains of Virginia for photographing the beauty that is fall foliage turned into a day filled with interesting sights and sounds, as well as a lesson in spontaneity.

Recovering from an interesting night of playing "gallon" (ha!), we didn't get on the road quite as early as we might have anticipated. But hey--it was just the first of many ways I learned to accept the "plan to not plan" for a day. Leaving Wake Forest, we headed northish, making our way up to Caswell County and our first stop in Danville, VA. Lendy showed me her childhood stomping grounds, including the schools she attended and a true southern style general store before stoping to have lunch with her mom and younger brother.

From there, we headed northeast toward the mountains of southern Virginia. On the way up, we drove through Martinsville (home of Martinsville Speedway, for all of you NASCAR fans out there). Out of appreciation for my family, I asked Lendy if she minded a quick detour to take a picture of a sign at the speedway. Being the all-accommodating-and-awesome Lendy that she is, she selflessly agreed to take me to the speedway. After grabbing a quick snapshot of the sign at the main entry, she offered to drive down closer to the track in hopes of getting more pictures. As it turned out, some very nice lady was out near the entrance to the track, and when we asked her if we could walk up to take pictures, she offered us the opportunity to drive Mike's (Lendy's husband) truck out onto the track to get a better look at to take better pictures. Umm...excuse me? Yes, I did just say that. We walked out on the track, and drove a complete lap around the speedway!?!? AHHH! I literally thought I was going to hyperventillate. It was A-MAZING! My family is so jealous, lol. What a freak occurance! ...And thisss is why sometimes, I have got to learn to be more spontaneous!

After a quick pit stop (ha!) at the little Dunkin' Donuts express, where Lendy made her own iced coffee (don't tell Ravi!), we continued our journey. As we began our ascent, the trees got prettier and the roads got windier. At the top of the mountain, we came to Chateau Morsiette, a beautiful restaurant and winery. Lendy and I walked around a bit and took part in their (very busy) wine tasting experience. On the way down, we stopped at Maybry's Mill, an old grismill (whatever that is). There, we had the most awesome photo shoot, though I guess that's being a bit boastful because most of the pictures are of me acting a fool...aka having my very own ANTM photo shoot. lol. I tried to be artistic by taking some creative/artsy photos, and of course, I captured a few of the lovely lady, even though she swears she's not worthy of being featured in the shoot. (In the words of my crazy roommate, "WRONG!")

Eventually, we made our way back down to *Pelham, NC, Lendy's hometown, for dinner with her mother and brother. Our experience at Frank's Italian just might have involved way too many french fries and fried pickles, but it was well worth the experience. We ended the night with a dive through a Lendy-titled episode of "Hoarders," looking for the treasure that would become our office Christmas tree. Lendy's mother welcomed us into her lovely home, and I was able to dig through some not-so-embarassing photos and childhood memorabilia. Tehe.

Our daycation came to an end only 13 hours later, as we arrived back in Raleigh just after 11 p.m...which finally gets me to the point I have been trying to make all along. Even when we think that we're too busy, we don't have enough money, or there just isn't the time, we all need to take breaks. Whether it's a full fledged week at the ski resort over thanksgiving, or a day trip to the beach, or even an afternoon playing games and watching movies, vacations are inevitiable--and necessary. I'm not saying we should keep procrastinating or spend hours on Facebook (heck--I, and you, will do that no matter what), but I am saying that we have to treat ourselves every now and again. Thank you, Lendy love, for teaching me Life Lesson #57826. <3 br="">
Guess I really am getting an education after all..

~Oh and...I saw my first shooting star! :-D