Sunday, May 30, 2010

- Muddy Footprints

This morning I took Emma out. Then we came back in. That is how the usual routine works. We were out pretty early because I had to babysit at 8, and it was still gray and kind of rainy. When we came back in, Emma jumped up on my bed that I had just made. My bed that has a white blanket on top. Now there are little footprints on my pillow, and across the bed.

I could have been mad. Upset. Sad. Whatever. I mean I NEVER even make my bed, and the only reason I did is because I'm having people over - TONIGHT. So I'm obviously trying to put my best - cleanest - foot forward.

Except yesterday as I was racing to the Emergency Clinic at the Vet School - I allowed my mind to jump off the deep end and think "What if it was a black widow, or brown recluse, or something terribly poisonous, and what if...she doesn't come back?" And I almost lost it.

Two and a half years ago I found Emma on Petfinder and the smart people that listed her at a Spartanburg, SC Chihuahua rescue knew that a video would sucker anyone into her sweet spunky personality. I fell hard for that little shaggy Scottie, who was chasing a dog in the next dog run and was so excited that her wagging tail was making her whole little butt shake. I watched that video no less than 50 times. Even though I contacted them within hours of finding her, I was already too late. There were two approved applicants. Emma Grace was spoken for, and I was crushed.

I tried to push on, and being the big believer in fate that I am, I knew that if she wasn't the right dog for me, then there was another one, a better one, waiting.

About a week later Emma was back on Petfinder. Within minutes I had sent an email asking what happened and if I could apply. When she sent me the application form I literally poured my heart and soul into it, concluding the 3 page SINGLE SPACED form with:

As a final note, I want to say that I have thought about Emma, or any other dog, as a part of my life for the next 12-15 years. While I rent now, I do expect to own a house some day, and it might be somewhere other than the Raleigh area. I also expect to get married and have children, however I feel confident that in all of these steps in life, Emma would be right there with me, and would remain as cared for and loved then as she would be now. I am truly hoping to give her a forever home where she is given the attention and love she deserves.
And there is the crux of the matter - I hoped instantly that Emma would a be a part of my life for MANY years to come. So, when I was faced yesterday with a small chance that it could come crashing down - it literally took my breath away. I am simply not ready to NOT have Emma. She is my baby. How else do you explain being a wreck after boarding her, and missing her so much it hurts when I was an internship? Owning her is one of the best things I've ever decided to do, for me AND her. I cannot quantify the fear I felt seeing her eyes and nose swell to 4-5 times their normal size and knowing that something was wrong with "Little bear". Let's just say that I totally understand why new parents rush to the emergency room or call the pediatrician at every little thing - this role of caretaker or Mom - gets scary sometimes.

So the $131.00 that I dropped at the Vet School yesterday, I would gladly pay again - and even more as I authorized up to $500 when we walked in the door. It is worth that much to me to have muddy footprints on my clean bed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


If someone could tell me how I "opted in" for the AARP newsletter addressed to Lawrence (my dad) that would be awesome.

I mean I'm old and all - but I'm not that old.

- Home!

As my 9 days of pet/house sitting comes to a close, these are the things I'm looking forward to:

Not cleaning litter boxes. I'm a bit more a cat person than I was before, and might even consider getting one (sacrilege!), except for the litter box thing. It's not that it smells. Or that cleaning up poop and pee grosses me out. I've changed diapers that were worse than anything I picked up out of a litter box. But, it's the texture of kitty litter. Stuck to my bare feet. I am very appreciative we grew up with outside tabby cats.

Sharing my bed with only one little furball, rather than 3.
Oh and not being woken up in an Edgar Allen Poe way. For 4 days straight, at EXACTLY 6:30 AM Sushi would hop into bed, walk on my head and eventually curl up on my pillow, resting a paw and her head on mine. That sounds sweet, right? And I'm assuming by the loudness of the purring which was reminiscent of an air show, that this was a show of love. Except all it did was remind me of Poe's short stories, particularly "The Black Cat" so then I ended up creeped out.
And if it wasn't on my head - she still found a way to get all up in my space. Which again was sweet - and actually made Emma jealous. After Sushi started doing this Emma became a lot more clingy. Although I think she misses having me all to herself, just a little bit.

Not getting licked, by a cat. I appreciate the sentiment from Sushi, I really do. And I'm glad that she likes me. But that sand paper-ish tongue and her lack of respect for my personal space - that I won't miss.

My bed. That I left clean sheets on before I left. It's going to be amazing.

Here's the thing - I like all of these animals. Immensely. I would say that it borders on love for Daisy and Sushi, but we have simply spent too much time together. It's like when you spend too much time with your best friend at a sleepover when you're 13 and by the end you're tired and cranky and everything they say or do gets on your nerves. That's the stage we're at. When I'm over here next babysitting - we'll all be good friends.

Well except for me and Emmy Kitty. I had really hoped to wear her down this week. Instead I settled for this morning when she got within 2 feet of me and meowed several times. And yet still hissed in between. It was like her way of saying: "Ok you're bringing my food, and I appreciate you doing that for the last few days, but the vow I made to hate you is still completely intact."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

- A Fabulous Freak Out

Today something changed. One little thing that has a BIG negative impact. It doesn't matter what it was. What matters is that it sent me into a tailspin and I could feel the anxiety building in the pit of my stomach.

You know what doesn't help calm your nerves? Your brain. I mean how do you turn that thing off? It races with all of these questions "What are you going to do?" "How are you going to fix it?" "What's the next step?" "Is it really that bad?" You know what Brain? You're not helping.

I usually don't like to dwell. I don't like to mope. I allow myself adequate time to wallow and then it's time to fix it. Be proactive. Pick myself up and take the first step towards resolution. But today as I was driving home I just kept sinking further and further. It was like it just kept getting more and more real and I couldn't really handle the direction it was going. So I did the only think I knew would help.

I called my Mom.

I'm 27 years old. By all definitions: I'm a GROWN ASS woman. But I don't know if you ever outgrow needing your mom. And I don't know that I want to. 20 minutes after talking to my Mom, everything was fine. I was breathing easy. I knew what I was going to do, and more importantly I knew everything would work out.

So now I'm just one glass of wine away from completely putting that freak out behind me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

- Fears and Favorite Things

I have a mild to severe fear of thunderstorms. Sometimes I can sleep through them and sometimes I end up in my closet with Emma surrounded by pillows. I bring this up because this weekend we've had three separate storms. During this last one I found myself telling the dogs that "Everything was going to be fine" - since they were completely unfazed I was mostly saying to reassure myself.

While staving off anxiety, I remembered the scene from The Sound of Music where the kids one by one run into Maria's room because they're afraid of the thunderstorm - even if they don't want to admit it. She sings A Few of My Favorite Things to distract them and they all bond. Man, I LOVED that movie growing up. I knew every word to every song, and every line of that movie. I watched it before I realized they were running off to the mountains to escape the Nazis, watched it after I understood, and at least once a year since then. I loved that pink dress Lizel wears when singing 16 going on 17, I loved when Maria makes clothes from curtains and they sing Do Re Me, and I love Edelweiss so much I think I'd like to use it in my wedding.

But speaking of A Few of My Favorite Things, remembering that song got me thinking about what my current favorite things are...

1. Leggings. I just got that pair in black on clearance for $3.00. Which makes my eighth pair. I like to wear them with long slouchy tee shirts and flip flops for a casual look, but I've also dressed them up and worn them with boots. My all time FAVORITE way to wear them, is as PJ's. I cannot express the joy I feel when I get home after a long day and take my jeans off to slip into my leggings. Yesterday I was telling people that at the end of the night when I say I'm ready to head home - what I'm really saying is that I'm ready to put my leggings on. The comfort level almost seems illegal.

2. SPF 100 - Within the last two weeks Target and all the drug stores have extended their sunscreen section since the pools are starting to open. Last year I was excited about SPF 70 so you can imagine my joy this year to see 100. I decided about 5 years ago that I was not going to mess around with the sun anymore. I mean let's face it - I'm a white girl and I wasn't meant to tan. Plus the last time I burned really badly Mamsie was all "I read on the internet that vinegar will take the sting out of the burn" - so in one of my less intelligent moves I let my mom spray me down with vinegar. AKA acetic ACID. How do you think that went down?

I cried from pain. And I thought I was dying. I decided during that constant stinging that felt like a million little needles pricking me at the same time, and was slow to wane, and did NOT take the sting out of my sunburn, that it was NOT worth it. Once I decided I was perfectly okay being the whitest person I knew, I realized it was time to up my arsenal of sun care.

I like to use Coppertone Ultraguard as a base. In the summer sometimes I just use it in replacement of lotion so that my arms and hands are always covered. Or my legs if I'm in a skirt. I have been known to sit outside for lunch and burn if I'm not careful.
In the few cases where I'm sitting by a pool or outside for long periods of time, I use this spray over my base. Since it's a cooling mist it's fun to reapply, and I do, often.
On a side note - I'm housesitting. I think I mentioned it a million times. I forgot to pack my shave gel and my house is too far for that and I was in the shower so I couldn't exactly go to the store. So in a moment of desperation I grabbed some sunscreen. It took about 5.7 seconds for me to realize that this was one of the dumbest things I've ever done. Sunscreen is waterproof. It turned to the consistency of glue and stuck to my leg, jammed up the razor and turned a 5 minute chore into a ridiculously long un-fun thing. I seriously had to scrub it off my leg, which was smooth, but no smoother than the other leg that was shaved with just water.

But, back to sunscreen, I was in the store today and saw this product in an SPF90 formulation and really wanted to buy it. One of the main reasons I'm also on the anti-sun train is for the anti-aging effects. So of course this label really suckered me in.
3. Getting carded/being told I look WAY younger than I am. I will NEVER get tired of this. I realize it is completely egotistical and I'm okay with that. This is probably mostly due to the fact that lately I've been hanging out with younger people. But there are three other factors: good genes, the sunscreen I'm obsessive about, and L'oreal Revitalift skincare. I started using anti-aging skincare when I was 25. I tried a few lines, but not until I landed on the Revitalift line did I really start seeing the benefits. This dual eye treatment is the reason I no longer wear under eye concealer.
I also use a few things from Loreal's Ideal Skin line, and really love this complexion equalizer.

4. Bangs. In January I switched from the side swoop that I'd been rocking for about 6 years to a full, straight, bang. And I L.O.V.E. them. I seriously could wax poetic about them and I'm not just talking about my bangs - I think everyone should have bangs. I think most people look better with bangs. Except for myself in middle school/early high school when I abused what bangs should be with a horrific version that earned me the nicknames "Bangz" and "The Shield" - which spawned several jokes in chem lab that I didn't need to wear safety goggles, because my eyes would be completely protected with "The Shield". Guys would even do the like hand shield motion and make a sound effect. After all that, it still took me nearly a year and a half to realize that I should grow those things out.

This experience left me a little hesitant to get back on the bangwagon when the side swoop became popular. But, when bangs are done right they can be amazing. Plus, not wearing bangs for so long made it really apparent that I have a very wonky hairline. Which I can hide with bangs! Plus, to say that you like the way your hair looks every day, is kind of a magical thing. Because if I'm having a bad hair day, I'm probably having a bad day in general. This full bang makes it really easy to have consistent good hair days.

I also kind of love the retro-ly reminiscent look that they have. It's funny, but they've given me the confidence to try out some different fashions that I normally wouldn't. Or maybe I just feel more confident with these bangs. I don't know why or how, but I'm digging it.

5. Happy Hour. I recently started asking some people out to "hump day happy hour" on Wednesday and I just love the decompression. It's like everything that's built up in the beginning of the week gets pushed away and forgotten so I can make it through the rest of the week. I feel like it makes the week go by faster - instead of "working for the weekend", now I have something to look forward to on Wednesday. Then afterwards it's just a short jump to Friday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

- Unadulterated Happiness

Emmy ate her pill!!! And she came out of her laundry room lair and is currently chilling in the bathtub. And she didn't hiss at me!

To say that things are looking up would be an understatement - I am completely THRILLED by this news.

UPDATE: This was apparently an accident because she hasn't eaten a pill since. Awesome. Now I'm just wondering how long until she starts peeing on the floor.

In other cat news - Sushi drools when she's content. I have never had a cat drool on me before. Today Emma calmed down enough for both her and Sushi to lay with me on the chaise. It was magical until Sushi decided she'd had enough, hissed at Emma, and ran off.

- Laurie: 1, A Bird: 0.5

The battle rages on with the cat. OF COURSE Emma pooped in her crate yesterday. In addition to twice on the floor now. Sometimes I really wish my dog gave signals. I made the mistake of waking up this morning and stirring but leaving the bedroom door open. This gave Emma all the encouragement she needed to go downstairs and harass Sushi, eat all of Daisy's dry food, and poop on the stairs on her way back up. Perfect.

But yesterday when she pooped in her crate that meant I needed to do laundry. And the laundry room is currently Emmy's lair. Yesterday she was laying behind the washer and was not happy when I started that up. She moved to the middle of the floor out of necessity. But when it was time for the dryer she was not having that and so she went and hung out in her - wait for it - litterbox. The same one that I was supposed to clean last night right about that time. Because if the litterbox is "too dirty" for Emmy then she will pee all over the floor.

On top of all of this - she has not taken a SINGLE pill since I've been here. She scoffs at the pill pockets! Every time I place one on the floor I can read the look on her face and it says "Screw that!" "HELL NO" and "I hate you so much". When Sandy's mom came over to try and pill her she was apparently ferocious. It was a valiant effort, but at this point we are giving up on pushing the medicine. She can take it but apparently won't. I'm only hoping that I can wear her down enough, and she will adjust and start taking them again. Oh and if she doesn't, she will pee on the floor.

I am not looking forward to what the rest of this week could look like for me. Not to mention the added stress of this cat being so important to Sandy. I mean if something happens...I don't even want to think about that. This morning I went in and she was back to her corner and had eaten all of her food from last night. I was able to clean her litterbox and give her more food and water, and another pill pocket, because maybe this is the one she'll eat. I think she only hissed once. I will call that progress.

I thought I had this narrowed to one difficult pet, but Donatello, the downstairs bird has decided to throw his hat into the ring. Yesterday the dogs were outside so I decided to see if Donatello wanted to come out for a bit. Sandy said he was a sweet bird, and that you could take him out. I should have listened to my inner bird expert which would have cautioned that birds really only like one or two people, and I am probably not one of those for Donatello. He kind of lunged at me in a non-friendly manner, so I said "okay, nevermind". Well apparently he took yesterday to heart because now he won't let me near the food bowl that he has in his cage.

I tricked him this morning by filling up other bowls with what he wanted and while he was eating from those I snuck in and took the other one out. But seriously, the saying "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" is becoming ironic in this household.

And this bird talk reminds me: Has Trevor cleaned Tweety's cage - because he REALLY needs to and he said he would when I was home last.

Friday, May 21, 2010

- Adventures in Philly

Or, a post NOT about animals. I've been meaning to share some of my airport experiences from my trip to Portland, so here are the Philly-centric ones.

My flight to Portland had a layover in Philly. I was excited that it would be a nice long flight that allowed for a good nap - but was not excited that Philly was, Philly.

The memories I have of this airport are not, shall we say, awesome. I flew into Philly for a wedding about 2 years ago. As I was waiting for a shuttle I saw a drunk guy get escorted out for apparently abusing his “girlfriend” on the plane, or something - I mean I don't know these people and I don't know how I acquired this gossip. Anyways, it happened. That same guy ended up at the rental car kiosk and got a car before I did. I watched him drive away. On the way back I got stuck in a ticket check in line that was so long it was blocking other airlines check in lines. I eventually “had” to cut in line at security to make my flight and was yelled at in a horrific northern accent from some tall guy obviously from the Jersey shore. That’s the worst accent ever. I hate to sound racist or regionalist or southern or whatever, but I’m just saying it's worse than the noise that comes out of Sandy's upstairs bird (okay one small animal reference).

Basically what I'm saying is Philly makes me a little nervous. But this time I just had to get off my plane and find the terminal for my next flight. Since my layover was almost 2.5 hours long I decided to stretch my legs and walk around a bit. Because this airport is HUGE. I walked down concourses A, B, and C to stretch my legs, and it goes through E before you catch a shuttle to F.

There are rocking chairs! I sat for a bit and had a good rock people watching. It was kind of like porch sitting, except in an airport. Couples with matching luggage make me laugh. So do women who fly in heels. Don’t you realize that if you wear heels you’re flight is of course going to be late and then you’re going to be trying to run through an airport in heels. Or you’re going to be that person carrying their shoes and running barefoot. Or you'll just be uncomfortable.

There’s a Gap. It looked nicer than the Gap we have at Crabtree Valley Mall, which is kind of sad that my store is completely being outdone by an airport store.

Since my flight was getting into Portland around 9, I figured I should eat because by the time I get there dinner time will be over. So, I stopped and ate at a sit down Asian Bistro. I had chicken pad thai – and it was surprisingly GOOD. Like better than a lot of pad thai I’ve had at restaurants outside of airports. Although those usually don’t cost $12. But on that same note where else do you bay $7+ for a water and a smoothie? Airport pricing is ridiculous!

While at the Asian Bistro I met a guy named Sean (or Shaun, or Shawn, who really knows) who had just been in Paris and Dublin. We had flights leaving at approximately the same time so we chatted. But what was really interesting is that he played Rugby and we were talking about Invictus, and then the guy the next seat down jumped in because he played Rugby too! Actually he still plays with the Old guy league in Lake Placid AND he said he’d played in the Cape Fear Sevens back in the late nineties. It’s so funny the people you meet in airports. And to continue the rugby theme - I stayed with a family in Portland and the dad had played a few time back in his college days. I mean 3 guys in one trip is pretty nuts, and I was NEVER the one to bring it up. Just kind of a crazy connection.

Once I got on the flight I realized my nap wasn't going to happen because somehow I was screwed out of the window seat I reserved and given the dreaded middle seat. Which provides no comfortable option for sleeping whatsoever. I ended up reading a lot of the new Dan Brown novel, the Lost Symbol and doing some more people watching.

There was this girl in the row across from me wearing earrings made out of light bulbs. It totally reminded me of Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter with her radish (or dirigible plum) earrings. I love a big earring, but a lightbulb?

During the flight the pilot came on twice to say where we were flying over, the first time it was Aberdeen North Dakota and the second time it was somewhere in Montana. Both times I was surprised to hear we were so far north, I know it's logical, but you don't usually think about he flight plan and what you're flying over.
Sometimes I’m just surprised by how many things I don’t really think about during the day.

Then I landed in Portland and went to a wedding (more on that later) and had fun and then I left. The flight back was less eventful, as the trip back usually is. But I have to say, Philly's airport does not hold quite as much trepidation as it did before.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

- Laurie: 1, The Cat: 0

I'm housesitting. And petsitting. Originally I was worried about how their golden retriever, Daisy, would handle everything. Daisy is fine. Instead, I grossly underestimated the inherent difficulty of a cat.

There are 2 cats. One cat, Sushi is fine. Sushi likes me. We have gotten along so well. We chased a peacock feather. I petted her. I pat her? Is petted correct english? Anyways she purred and life was good.

The other cat, Emmy...well let's just say it will be an uphill battle. Emmy took one look at Emma and decided that everything was NOT okay. And that I was to blame for this abomination. She gave me a look that very clearly said - "Who the hell do you think are bringing that up in my house?" After that I kept Emma downstairs - which was possibly a fatal flaw, because it allowed Emmy to take refuge under the bed. And never come out.

Over the course of 3 hours I came upstairs about every 45 minutes and wafted her food, and let her look her at. At first she hissed when I got too close. Eventually we moved past that to the point where the cat could care less about me. Which in cat world is pretty much affection. But as it neared midnight Emmy was still firmly planted under the bed.

Now a first reaction for most would be - who cares? Leave the food and the cat will eat when it wants. Yes. True. But, this is not just any cat. This is Sandy's cat that she's had since her divorce. She is older and must be given medicine at night. And Sushi will eat her food if she doesn't. And it's important that she be closed in the laundry room at night, for several reasons. SO, for everyone's well being that cat needed to get in the laundry room and eat and have her medicine. And at midnight, after 3 hours, we were no closer to that goal.

I called Sandy. Sandy told me I should grab her by the scruff of the neck and pull her out from under the bed. But. The cat was hissing. Since it's declawed I'm not afraid of getting scratched. But bitten. That is scary to me. Cat teeth are sharp. I just keep flashing back to the stereotypical picture of a black cat at Halloween - back arched, fangs bared, hair on end. Now might be a good time to clearly state that I am NOT a cat person. Yes, our family has always had cats - but they've been outside tabby cats. When I rode horses there were barn cats that loved me. I have a respect for them, and we can be friends, but I do not seek out the company of cats.

Sandy suggested I get a broom and lightly touch the back of the cat, which of course she will hate so she will run out from under the bed. I got a broom. I lightly touched the cats back - and Emmy got PISSED. All kinds of hissing and growling and attacking the broom - which I would like to mention did involve biting. But in no way did she move out from under the bed. I called Sandy back. At midnight she was going to have her stepdad come over. A big, burly man who was not afraid of no stinkin' cat. I felt terrible. On top of everything, Emmy was completely worked up. Oh did I mention that this cat has asthma? So I really don't need to work her up into an asthmatic frenzy. And look, I might not be a "cat person" but I certainly don't want a cat anywhere that hates me. Plus, I'm here for NINE days. This routine will get old.

I decide to give it one last try. With the broom I literally back the cat into a corner. With her butt up against the post at the foot of the bed. She could run for freedom and the safety of her laundry room, but won't. I move the chest at the end of the bed and try a different angle with the broom. FINALLY the cat runs for it. I immediately shut the bedroom doors, put a gate up blocking her into the hallway with the laundry room and close her in the laundry room for good measure.

I might have won this round, but I do not feel good about it.

I just feel like I need a Makers Mark on the rocks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

- The Unfairness of it All

As I was driving into work this morning I was at a left turn behind a NC State mounted police unit, and a truck. So obviously the mounted police unit is going to be slower in moving through the intersection, I mean there's no need to be hasty when hauling 2000lb LIVE animals. But the truck, he's not having any of that, and he actually HONKS his horn. So at this point I'm all for the cops pulling him over, I mean who does he think he is? Who seriously thinks they have the right to honk at a cop?

Everyone makes the left turn and then the mounted police are moving all slowly which I love because I can see the truck guy getting all irritated. The mounted police make a left into the University Police parking area and the truck like zooms around them.

And all this time I'm thinking that I manage to get a $100 seatbelt fine because a cop saw that I wasn't wearing mine - I wasn't speeding or anything else...but this guy...this guy gets to be blatantly disrespectful to uniformed officers (and their hairy counterparts) and get away with it.

How is that fair?

- Hump Day Procrastination

Today is Wednesday, also known as Hump Day. Today we are closing in on the weekend because it always seems like the last two days of the week pass faster than the first two. Which is great in many ways, but can also be bad for a procrastinator like myself, and let's face it I'm a pro. I mean if procrastination was an olympic event, I would definitely still be qualifying, despite my age. Because I've been procrastinating for as long as I can remember.

Clean my room? I'll do it tomorrow - or next year.
Study for a test? Well it's only 7PM, I have PLENTY of time.
Work on that project? It's not due until next week, I'll do it the night before.
Read a novel? Well I'm a fast reader, so probably the day before.
Write a lit review? I did it in a week. The month before my thesis was due.

Are you noticing a trend? A tendency to do things the day before? Or during the final countdown? Yeah, that's how I operate. I guess you could say that I work pretty well under pressure, because somehow in the end, no matter what the cost, I always pull it off. I've been recognized for this talent several times: "You're the most laid back grad student I know - and it's amazing, because you still finish on time!" or my personal favorite: "You're so smart, you never study - you just watch TV and still pass".

So now that it's Hump Day and a race to the weekend - it's kind of becoming a serious matter that I haven't run A. Single. Experiment. This week. I've had good intentions. But laziness just keeps creeping in. Today I was ready to go, except I was off to a late start. And I didn't really want to do it. Every excuse became a valid excuse. I settled for taking care of some very small things on the to-do list and calling it a day. At like 3PM.

But I know I'll get there. By the end of this week, even I'll be amazed with what's been done. And how it all fell into place. Because, some people have it, and some people don't...and my friends, I've still got it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

- A Case of the Mondays

Today is Monday. Usually I struggle with this day. It just seems that on Monday everything is doomed. Murphy's law takes over and if it can go wrong, it does. Today is not so bad except I'm EXHAUSTED. With the time change I lost a lot of sleep on Thursday and never really made it up before I lost three more hours coming home. While today isn't terrible because I am being lazy and cuddling with Emma, other Monday's have been awful. So, I thought I'd share something I wrote a while back...

Back in the day I absolutely loved Hanson. I had the CD’s, I sang the songs, I slept with their pictures under my pillow. I talked my dad into dragging me to three of their concerts in 4 days. Back when the internet was ruled by America Online I had a group of “internet friends” that I “met” through the Hanson website and then actually MET at concerts. Somehow in all that, there was time for someone to say “Oh this band Fuel is great”, and I totally believed them. Fast forward to me at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach standing out back getting a picture with the band. Even though I haven’t listened to that CD in nearly 10 years, I still have it. And I still remember some of they lyrics.This is all a completely embarrassing way of saying that Fuel had this song called “Bad Day” and went like this:

"She left a note and said I'm sorry, I had a bad day again. She spilled her coffee, broke her shoelace. Smeared the lipstick on her face. Slammed the door and said I'm sorry, I had a bad day again."

I remembered that song today, because I had a bad day. I didn’t spill my coffee. I can see how that would be depressing, especially if you just shelled out $5+ for a venti pumpkin latte at Starbucks. I mean those are delicious! And $5! That would actually suck.

I didn’t break a shoelace. I've never broken a shoelace. But usually I wear flipflops, so I’d be more in danger of a blowout. I remember this guy I met at State and he wore this old Jimmy Buffett tee shirt that showed a guy having a blowout on the beach. He still had his pina coladas though, so he didn’t mind. Regardless, I did not have a blow out, or a shoe incident.

And I don’t wear lipstick. I wear lipgloss. If I smeared it across my face, that would not a bad day make. I’d get a tissue and deal with it. No…and not even ALL of these things could come together and make a “bad day” in my opinion.

But you know what can make a Bad day? MONDAY. Monday is somehow predetermined to just absolutely SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF YOU. Oh hey Laurie, remember that interview you really wanted with Frito Lay, well we’re just writing to confirm that you were NOT accepted for an interview. Why? Oh who the hell knows? Maybe they didn’t want to hire a Ph.D. student because they’d have to pay them more. Maybe they don't really like you. There are better candidates (ouch!) - blah blah blah.

Oh and hey Mac, remember that time I spent $1700 on you. I saved and saved, and was able to pay cash for my biggest purchase ever, which I knew would be worth it because Mac’s are totally better than PC’s! And, remember that data file I’ve been working on for the last two weeks? The one that I stayed up till 1:30 last night perfecting? Putting in all those borderlines, making the decimal places just right…then remember today when I made all those beautiful summary tables and charts. Remember that? No? Really, that’s odd. Well do you remember the part where you mysteriously shut down excel saying it had “encountered a problem” and then you couldn’t re-open the file because the problem apparently was that you just corrupted my file?! Remember when my 2 weeks of work was just GONE 5 minutes before I was planning to present the results to my co-advisor? No, you don’t remember?

WELL I DO. And THAT. That right there. Losing my data baby. THAT will make a “bad day” happen real quick. This is me “encountering a problem” where I’m so upset that I want to yell and cry at the same time. I want to throw you out the window and yet hug you. It’s not like you crashed or anything. And can you really be held accountable for Excel, after all, you weren’t meant to support that kind of program. It was modified for you. I’m sorry I got mad, let’s kiss and make up. Best friends forever?

Still though, something like that happens, and I don’t care how you try to wrap it up, or what kind of bow you try to put on it, you had a bad day. There’s no use even trying to save it. It’s better to go home, break out the wine, watch some mindless TV, and go to sleep with the promise that tomorrow has to be better…because you don’t have any more data files to lose.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

- Missing my Emma

On Thursday I took Emma to the vet to be boarded for the first time. It was something I had been dreading all week, for two reasons:
1. It was going to be ridiculously expensive
2. I've never boarded her before
I'm very lucky that Emma has "grandparents" that love her to death and don't mind meeting me halfway between Raleigh and Wilmington to take care of her for the weekend. But this time Mom and Dad were going out of town as well. So I called the vet and made a reservation.

On Tuesday night Emma and I were cuddling on the couch and I explained to her what was going to happen. I apologized. I tried to tell her how "fun" it was going to be to hang out with other dogs. Told her she wasn't even going to miss me. She listened intently and tilted her head back and forth many times - but overall had no clue what was going to happen.
Wednesday I told her it would be her last night sleeping in our cushy bed for a few days. Said I wish she could take her penguin blanky with her because I know she loves it, but the vet won't allow it. I threw "Pinky" her favorite pink elephant squeaky toy for her until she was tired and didn't want to fetch anymore.
Thursday morning I took her to the vet. She hated it. I had to drag her in and she kept trying to run for the door. I didn't even really get to say goodbye before a kennel assistant had whisked her away. Then I went back to see where she would be staying. There's my baby in a cement block with a chain link fence door. With a little crappy maroon blanket on the floor. She's whining and trying to claw her way out - and probably thinking that I'm leaving her in this horrid place forever and doesn't understand what she did to deserve it.
I hightailed it for my car and barely made it before the tears started falling. The guilt of leaving her there was incredible. A weight I had only mildly experienced when I left her with my parents before I left for a summer internship. I wanted to cancel my flight. I wanted to call everyone I knew and offer them the same I was paying the vet to please come get her and stay with her all weekend. I wanted my parents to "save" her and pick her up on Friday and take her with them, some how, some way. I wanted to go back and get her and hug her and tell her I loved her.
But I didn't. As much as I love Emma Bears, she is still a dog. An adorable, well-adjusted, sweet little dog. She would get to have some play time with the other dogs, and some one on one time with a kennel assistant (which I paid for). She would get to go to doggy day care all day on Friday (which I also paid for) - and have play time again on Saturday. Since she's so cute, I knew she'd be a favorite and maybe get a little more love than the others. And let's face it, she's lazy. So when she wasn't doing anything, she would do what she always does - fluff up that little maroon blanket and take a little snappy.
I wouldn't be there to love her, but she would be OK. And she would love me all the more when I got home. And maybe, just maybe she would have fun - and get over some of her fear of the vet.

All weekend it's been hard to think about her, and when I have, my heart has literally hurt. I miss her like WOAH. I almost cried all over again writing this. I probably will cry when I see her tonight. But I will also give her a bigger dinner with green beans. We'll cuddle on the couch, and then we'll go out for our nightly walk. Then I'll say "Bear do you want to go to bed" and I'll pat the side and she'll jump up and snuggle down in the pillows on her side of the bed. Tomorrow morning I'll wake up with a little scottie that has somehow wiggled her way from her side, to be underneath the pillow that I sleep on. With just her little head peaking out.

And all will be right with the world.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

- Epic Fail

Lately I have been using the phrase "epic fail" a lot. Some people are familiar with this phrase, and some are not. When describing how best to use a new catch phrase I find that it is best to learn my example. Here is today's:

This morning I was getting ready - like every other morning. I like to wash my face, apply all my anti aging jazz and while that's "soaking in" brush my teeth, floss, and listerine it up. But this morning I couldn't find my toothpaste. This is not really a problem, because I have 3 tubes of toothpaste and several travel sized versions (I most definitely am allergic to only having one of something - there must always be options), but my FAVORITE toothpaste is missing. I find this strange because I have to have brushed my teeth yesterday morning, right? So did I put the toothpaste in some random spot? I walk around my apartment searching my room, counters, even the refrigerator (I've been known to put things there that shouldn't be there). While I'm walking around I start to wonder what would have happened yesterday that I felt the need to carry the toothpaste around with me. I mean usually, you take the tube, put some on your toothbrush, and then walk around while brushing. But you don't take the tube with you. The more I'm thinking about this, the more I'm having a hard time remembering whether or not I did brush my teeth yesterday. But this thought seems preposterous! Surely I did not go all day and never remember that this never happened. Or notice that my teeth were "fuzzy". That's insane.

But since I still haven't found my toothpaste this scenario seems to be more and more likely. So, to test this theory I text my brother to see if I left my toothpaste at home. I felt like when I packed up my bathroom stuff that the counters were clear of everything so I'm sure that I didn't leave it there. Trevor responds that yes I did leave my toothpaste there and that he decided to keep it because he was running out.

SO, seriously? I did NOT brush my teeth yesterday. At all. That my friends, is totally without a doubt, a 100% EPIC fail.

Monday, May 10, 2010

- The house my father built

As I mentioned I went home this past weekend. To say it was anything less than glorious would be a lie. Let me show you why it's so awesome.

This is what I see turning into the driveway.
This is the house my fah-tar built. I remember when it was just a poured foundation. Then I remember when walls were framed. Then I remember coming in after the hardwoods were done and walking upstairs for the first time. It was so big and everything echoed. It was just a house then. But when I came home after the furniture was moved in and the walls were painted and my family lived there - even when they lived there without me - it was a home. Now I go home and they're adding a deck onto the back. It's a constant work in progress. Sometimes my mom talks about selling it and "downsizing". This kind of talk makes me feel sad, and mad, and frustrated, and hurt. It's not the house that I grew up in, or even a house that I've lived in full time, but it feels like a part of me. I leave there feeling so centered and stress free - like I'm back to myself. And how could I not be - I mean look at what a typical day at this house is like...

The morning starts with porch sitting, one of our favorite family activities. Few know the art of porch sitting like we do. Usually we sit in the rockers or the wicker furniture my grandparents gave as a housewarming gift. This past time I enjoyed the hammock that Trevor put up.
We sit on the porch because this is the view from the porch.
You can't really tell from this picture, but we have A LOT of bird feeders set up in this area. So one of the main objectives of porch sitting is bird watching. After an hour or so we'll break for the daily activities, and then resume porch sitting around 4ish, with drinks. Sometimes it's Miller time, sometimes wine, but I personally like when Dad starts mixing the margaritas. Now that it's still light after dinner, porch sitting sometimes continues through dusk. Again with drinks. And binoculars always. I am not a birdwatcher - that's mostly my parents and Aaron. But according to them we get a decent amount of "activity".

Those guys are all pretty standard - but your homestead probably doesn't have one of these.
Meet Jeff. Jeff is a "pretty" rooster according to my mom. I mostly find him annoying. Did you know that roosters don't just crow when the sun comes up? No? Roosters crow ALL THE TIME. So yeah, sometimes he drives me crazy. But I do admire his loyalty to his women. He's downright mean if he feels like you're threatening his flock. We have TONS of "farm fresh" eggs. They taste like regular eggs, but are a bit smaller and more "yokey".

We also have a pretty substantial garden planted within the picket fence and beside the chicken coop. My parents straw bale garden. What it means for me is delicious food. They planted butter crunch lettuce this year for the first time and I had the best salad ever this past weekend. I can't wait for the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. And Mom's trying out some pumpkins and decorative gourds which could be cool in the fall. I'm particularly excited to see these bright green zinnias that she planted as well. And I love it when the lantana gets going and takes over one whole side. That also brings in tons of butterflies. Pretty soon that little fenced in area is going to bursting with color.

Sooooo, we enjoy the front porch. All of us. Trevor and I look happy there.
And Nina and Emma love the porch. They just don't like looking in the same direction, or even at me while on the front porch. Exhibit A.
Exhibit B. Emma is probably looking for anolis. She's an amazing anoli hunter.
Here's one of the kitties. On the porch. There are 2. They look exactly the same except one has a white tip to her tail. This one does not.
So, I think this one is Smudge since I can't really see a white tip. Smidge was elsewhere. When they were little I called them the "lil lils". One is fat and friendly and one is not so fat and a little weird. I can't remember which is which. Our family's tabby cats are some of the few cats that I like.

And that's what it's like at the homestead. I make a point to wear my pj's all day, eat good food, putter around the yard or hang out on the porch - and end up completely relaxed. It makes it hard to get back to Raleigh and the relative "hustle and bustle". The whole way back I have thoughts like "I'm only at mile 408 (or 364, 355, 328) - it's not too late to turn around and just go back". It's just a little sad knowing that I got so relaxed only to come back and get worked up again about experiments, deadlines, to-do lists, budgets, babysitting, and you know - life.

Clearly, Mamsie is not selling this house to anyone, except me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

- For Mamsie

One of my favorite nicknames my brothers and I have for our mom is Mamsie. I can't remember which of my brothers came up with it, although I suspect it was Aaron because he tends to be the best at making up nicknames. But, I do have to give Mamsie some credit because she's always had little nicknames for us and our friends. She calls Dad (Monty) Montalgo and also coined Fah-tar. Trevor has been a range of things from Trevis, Trevorski, and my constant favorite Poopie, or Poops. I've been known simply as La, or Punkin and Aaron came up with LaddyFaddyDoodieDady a few years ago. As a result of our constant Lord of the Rings obsession I've been calling Aaron Aaronus son of Aaroni for quite some time and when he was young we called him Bubba and he called me Sissy. This has become quite a tangent on nicknames...

But what I really want to talk about is Mamsie. This weekend I came back the homestead and have spent my time puttering around (more on that later) and thinking a lot about how wonderful Mamsie is - how lucky I am to have a truly great mother. A mom that has loved, supported, and trusted me my entire life. One that did not push her own expectations onto me or try to steer me down the path that she envisioned for me, but instead accepted me for who I was and who I wanted to be. One that has never passed judgement because I wanted to quit something, or try something new. A mom that always has told me and shown me that she 100% without a doubt loves me.

Although I didn't always feel that way. Highschool was defined by those angst-filled hormonal teenage years when I did nothing but drive home how much of a thankless job being a mother is. I was clothed, given expensive horseback riding lessons (not to mention the costs of leasing a horse and sending me to compete in shows), treated with respect, given one of the latest curfews of my group of friends because they trusted me to be responsible, and yet I still found ways to complain. I'm not proud of the fact that I know how to be disrespectfully sassy and spent many years doing so. But I am proud of the fact that I got through it and realized that my attitude was the problem, not my Mom.

In my defense growing up and being mature are hard things to master. But with a role model like my mom, it wasn't a question of if I would get there, just when. For me that was when I went to college. My parents packed me up and moved me to my dorm room at NC State with my brand new computer and college essentials. I remember standing outside of Sullivan Hall and being most sad to hug my mom goodbye. That's when I teared up and almost lost it. I was so excited about going to college and I was only two hours from home, but with every big change comes a decent amount of trepidation. Even if my mom drove me crazy most of the time (we probably had several spats while packing complete with huffing and eye rolls), she was ALWAYS there for me, and of course she still would be, but it would be different.

And different it was, but in a positively unexpected way. I guess I needed to see how badly other people had it. Not that they necessarily had parents that treated them poorly, but they had parents that didn't really know them or understand them. They had to hide their lives at college, or large aspects of them because they're parents would be "mad" or "disappointed" or something. They took classes they hated, or declared majors they weren't interested in because they were supposed to be accountants or doctors or engineers. I'm certainly not saying that I told Mamsie everything when I called for our weekly chats, but I also never felt like anything I did would make me less in her eyes. Over time there was less nit-picky fighting and annoyance, and more appreciation and respect.

I think it really set in the spring semester of my sophomore year. When I realized that chemical engineering was a terrible fit for me. I dropped my class and felt okay about it but all of my friends were like "What are you going to do?" "What are your parents going to say?" I was a little panicky when I called Mamsie to tell her, because of their frantic energy, but of course she came through. She was confident I would figure it out and trusted that if I didn't think it was for me, then it wasn't. There was no lecture. No disappointment. When I found Food Science a few weeks later she was excited for me, optimistic, and curious - just like I was. For me that was the beginning of the end of questioning her methods.

Mamsie knew every moment along the way how to gently guide me to be the best possible version of myself. She's hasn't told me what to do, she's taught me how to figure out what to do. She never told me who to be, she had faith that I would be the person I chose to be. She never expected perfection in how I lived my life, but that I have the moral integrity to realize when I was wrong, and that I would accept responsibility and fix it. She did all of these things out of deep, unconditional love. So today, on Mother's day, all I can say is that I am simply in awe of Mamsie. She has set the bar so incredibly high that I can only hope to someday be half the mother that she is, and if that's the case - I will be a much better mother than most because of what she's taught me.

Love you Mams!

For mother's day I helped Mamsie re-design her blog: Check it out!

Friday, May 7, 2010

- What a difference a year makes

A year ago I wrote something dismal; something completely self-loathing about being stuck in grad school with no end in sight. I believe the highlight of the passage was:
I'm 26. I'm not married or in a committed relationship and in grad school you don't meet a lot of people for dates. My social calendar is just sad.
I mean how "woe is me" is that? In my defense, I did write more after my whining that got more positive, but when I read it now I can tell I didn't really think that it was going to get any better. Let's just say that a year ago things were not coming up roses and rainbows. That was a dark and stormy in between time.

Here's the thing: no one is really honest with you about grad school. I mean other grad students will tell you it sucks or what not. But mostly everyone you tell about it is all "That's great", "Congratulations", "I'm so proud of you". And a MS program is so fast that there isn't time for it to suck too much. But a Ph.D. program, which is at least three years somehow is a completely different ball game. Few people really get down and dirty with you and tell you about the evil mind tricks it can play with your self identity and confidence. By no means do I want to sound ungrateful, because I cannot even express my appreciation that I was given an opportunity to earn higher degrees at no cost to me. It still blows my mind that I lucked into it, and that after my MS degree they wanted to keep me on for another! But I also don't want to sugar coat the internal struggle I went through. It wasn't easy for me to be of a certain age and not be able to adult things because at the end of the day I was still a student.

A year ago, I was coming up on my second attempt at the written prelim. Which means I was physically ill. I experienced stress induced lactose intolerance and chronic reflux. Then there was this weird thing where some days I was just nauseated. ALL DAY. My "written prelim diet" lasted 2 months and resulted in ~10 lbs of weight loss, which mysteriously never came back. Which was great! Except it was kind of hard to enjoy feeling skinnier when I didn't enjoy much else. I was single and feeling very lonely. I felt like my program was NEVER going to end. I guess it's how some pregnant women feel when they feel like they'll never give birth. I felt like I was never going to have a stork deliver a stiff envelope in the mail...

But now? Well, I laid the smack down on the written prelim. I only needed to get one question right that second time, so for good measure (and to show off a little bit) I answered FOUR more correctly. See prelim graders - I totally KNOW Food Science! Then I churned out a ridic amount of research. With reps and publishable results and everything. Look at me go! Now I'll admit this past January got a bit hairy - I was sick all over again from anxiety because there was a lot coming up and sometimes I question whether or not this is going to be the time that I put too much on my plate. But, I breezed through more research, a departmental seminar, AND my Oral prelim. I'm still single (and still trying to accept that I'm 27 and not married), and still socially lame (most of the time) but HELLO! Do you see that little speck of light in the distance? That's the light at the end of the tunnel baby! Seeing my first glimpse of it earlier this year, and watching it grow brighter and closer, has made all the difference.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

- DIY: Blog Edition

I'm pretty sure my Mom is going to be my only main reader for a while, and I know exactly what she'll say: "I LOVE it! It looks so cute, how did you do it?"

I wouldn't say it's been easy to figure everything out, but thanks to google and the fact that html is pretty straight forward it hasn't been too tough yet. Below is what I did, and it roughly follows the order that I did it.

My blog template is Wild Birds from - which is why that's posted at the bottom. There were lots of templates but I picked one that allowed for customization of all the colors and fonts, allowed you to insert your own header (most templates do that anyways) and had the number of columns/width with the general look I was going for.

My background is a tile from and I used the directions here to figure out how to code for it. Even though a lot of sites tell you that it's really easy to find tile-able backgrounds, I spent a long time searching for something I really liked.

Then it was time to find a fun scripty font to use as the blog banner, and post title text. This was a bit more involved, but I followed this tutorial and it worked like a charm. My font is Saginaw Medium and I found it for free here. I also really liked Susie's hand, but didn't like the way my name looked in that font as well as Saginaw. I used the basic blogger fonts for everything else on the blog, because I wanted it to be easy to read.
*The only problem I have with Saginaw is that it cuts off the first letter if it's a particularly scripty letter. That's why I've added the dashes in to the beginning of the title. I'm not a fan of this as a fix, but I've tried messing around with the code and nothing has helped.

As for customizing the colors, this color picker came in handy because Blogger only has a few color tiles to chose from, but there is a box to enter in hex codes. The link for the color picker is actually set to the gold color that I used for my post title text.

I saved the banner for last, probably because I knew it was going to be the most difficult. I didn't really know what I wanted, except that I wanted something I could easily change. I ended up settling on digital scrapbooking papers because I kept going back to the idea of using patterns. The cutest ones I've found are by Andrea Victoria, but I actually used a Jesse Edwards design because it matched the colors I had already landed on - lately I have been obsessed with turquoise, yellow and gray. Any really cute digital paper costs money, but $4 for 9 designs isn't too terribly bad. And I guess you could use them for other things.

I designed the banner in Gimp which is a free watered down version of the mucho expensive program Photoshop. I really have no idea how this program works, so I probably played around for 2 hours and only had a text box that I couldn't move. So yeah, there is definitely a learning curve. But overall I didn't think it was impossible, and free beats the $650+ price tag that photoshop boasts.

Speaking of $$ - I also went ahead and bought my domain name. When I first did the whole laurieelaine thing I was pretty sure the domain wouldn't be available, because I usually can't chose that as other things because it's already taken. But when I checked and it said it was I couldn't help but feel like I should buy I did.

Having gone through all of this just for appearance's sake, I do have to say that when I saw a screen shot of my blog pop up in my internet window, I was pretty happy with my first attempt!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

- What's in a name?

I’ve been meaning to get a blog up and running for a while. The old one I had just wasn’t what I wanted it to be and sometimes I just long for a fresh start. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a book only to restart it a few weeks later because I felt like I was missing things along the way. Similarly, I feel like my old blog was missing some big parts of me along the way.

Anyways, so a new blog…what should I call it? I wanted it to be a personal blog and about the things that are interesting me at the moment. Things I love, things I think about, things I do. I played around with a lot of names and concepts, but finally I just decided on my name. Why? I like my name. Actually, I love my name. I always have, and I’ve always felt like it was the best fit that it could be for me. I don’t think I could have or should have been named anything else. Sometimes I really wonder about the power of a name - did I grow to fit what I was given, or would I have become the same person regardless? Oh wow, that reminds me Mr. Shakespeare:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
And now a much more simplistic poem from a personalized mug I got forever ago
Laurie - meaning Laurel
Laurels are granted
To those who win fame -
Who, like you, have found
Great success and acclaim.
Because of your name
You are destined to be
Crowned with respect
And popularity.
Whatever you dream of
Will soon be obtained,
And each of your goals
Very quickly attained.
So I'm not famous, and I wouldn't consider myself to be super popular...but as far as being successful and obtaining my goals, this little ditty kind of nailed it. I've always really liked my middle name, and especially the way that both of my names flow together.

Which brings me full circle; my name is me and I am my name. If I’m going to talk generally about myself, I might as well give the space I do so, the same name I have.