Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Review

January seemed like a long month. A long month that went by too quickly. Confession: I went through twitter to remember what I did this past month.

Jan 3rd - I dyed my sister’s hair. Ok, attempted to. 3 boxes of hair dye later and we had a somewhat decent color! My little sis was a good sport about it. :)

Jan 4th - Shopping and dinner with my sister and grandma. I know we won’t always have this time with my grandma, so I’m enjoying and treasuring it as much as I can. 

Jan 7th - Ugh. I don’t have a problem with doctors, but sometimes I think when I go to see my doctor I’m healthy, but I leave sick. I felt fine when I arrived, but left with a fever, low blood pressure, and low sodium. More french fries? 

Jan 13th - Blog Post: Outspoken 

Jan 14th - Blog Post: Red Pen

Jan 18th - Packing for Florida with Alicia. We only packed 5 pairs of shoes! And a few extra outfits. We managed to make it fit in one large suitcase though. I’m impressed!

Jan 19th - FLORIDA!

Jan 22nd - Disney World. I don’t know what else to say other than it was amazing!

Jan 23rd - Home. Without seeing any alligators. It was the longest two airplane rides ever. The turbulence and crying baby made the flights seem even longer.

Jan 24th - Party with my favorites!

Jan 29th - Annie and Jacob are BOTH on Twitter!! Party!

And I had a million and a half wonderful conversations that were too important to tweet about. That’s what January was full of for me. Meaningful and memorable tidbits of advice and encouragement. January was a good month. I’m looking forward to seeing what February holds!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ariel and Fireworks.

If you don't know that Ariel is my favorite Disney princess and if you don't know that I love fireworks, well, you simply don't know me.

Nick's wonderful Christmas present to me was a trip to Disneyworld! We spent the morning and early afternoon in the Magic Kingdom and the rest of the day in Epcot. The highlights of my day were meeting Ariel and watching the firework show. And, of course, having Nick with me while doing those things!


Monday, January 28, 2013

manatees and power plants and marinas, oh my!

I love little beach towns. Absolutely love them. I love all the little old boats mixed in with the fancy yachts. This little beach town had a big power plant in it! The manatees were enjoying the warm water from it.

There's a manatee in there!

"Can we keep him?"

 Lisa and Jerry. Nick's mom and stepdad!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lettuce Lake Park

Nick and I walked around this pretty little park in Florida last week! Well, it was pretty until we found a snake. Then it was horrifying and I was done.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Alligator Search Party

I've never been a big fan of animals. There are certain animals I wish Noah would have left off the ark, actually. But, nevertheless, my trip to Florida as supposed to be filled with alligators! After all, Florida is known for their alligators, right? I thought so. Anyways, Nick and I looked and looked and looked and didn't find any. We did find what might have been an alligator egg, though! Next time I visit, I'm sure the alligators will be more widely available.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Red Pen

Seven writers of varying proficiencies sat around the table. The room was chilly and the raging snow storm happening outside mirrored the turmoil happening inside my stomach. It was the first day of critiques in my creative nonfiction writing class. This was a new experience for me. My usual routine of posting a blog or submitting a paper to a professor was being turned upside down. I didn't want to know what they thought. I liked my writing and that's what mattered.

The class and professor had been emailed a copy of my paper and were ready to have a discussion about it. I volunteered to go first. My anxiety was taking over and I knew if I waited much longer, a full on panic attack would ensue. The professor had me stand at the front of the room behind the podium and read my paper in its entirety. It's one thing to write a personal and emotion-packed paper, it's another to have other people read it, but it's entirely another thing to stand in front of strangers to read it and have it critiqued.

I took a few deep breathes before starting. It took just a few minutes to read it, but it felt like hours. I reminded myself to enunciate and to speak slowly and intentionally. I finished the last sentence and looked up at my audience for the first time. All wide-eyed and silent, I wondered if I'd done something wrong. Did I misunderstand the assignment? Did I disclose too much?

Vulnerability and trust are not my strong points. There are a few people who have walked through the ups and downs of my life alongside me. Not only the struggles and tears, but the laughter and successes as well. Even still, I initially have a hard time talking about personal things with them. Something inside of me flash freezes the second I begin to unpack my often scrambled thoughts. It takes a few minutes of mindless chatter to thaw me out. It's a daily process of warming up to them and reassuring myself that I can trust them. Once the hovering fear dissipates, it's gone until the next day.

It was time for someone else to be in the spotlight. I was done. Hot tears filled my eyes and I wanted to be out of that situation. Feeling overly exposed and empty, I quickly gathered my papers and slipped back into my seat.

"Thank you, Andrea. How brave of you to put words to that situation and those feelings," the professor said as she rose from her chair and moved to the podium.

I remembered to keep breathing at that point and quietly thanked her. She put a reassuring hand on my shoulder as she explained the value of exploring emotion in writing. Writing about a situation revels many unnoticed details to the writer. Nonfiction writing can be like counseling if done right. A situation is thoroughly processed through and come to terms with. A resolution or settling of emotions is not always brought about, but a greater understanding lends peace and a greater ability to move forward.

"Never again," I thought. Counseling should be between a counselor and a single person, not one person, a fictitious counselor, and a captive audience waiting to critique. It was settled - my next submissions were going to be void of all emotion and feeling.

The professor opened up the discussion to the other students. First came the positive feedback, then the general questions on the topic, and then finally the areas that needed work and clarification.

Word choice, how I handled the topic I wrote about, voice, sentence structure, general flow. Those were all strong points. I had been mortified in the moments prior to this segment of the critique, but the compliments ushered in hope. My writing was not terrible, far from perfect, but not terrible.

Why did I choose the topic I did? It seemed like a good story to tell. And it was, until I had to read it aloud that is. It was a situation that I needed help understanding so I thought I would attempt to do just that. I can't say that endless hours of rehashing details helped, but it thankfully didn't make it worse.

The criticism came next. I considered slipping under the table for this portion. My ears would work just fine from the safety of the floor. Tears filled my eyes again as the professor started talking through her list of concerns. Her words were gentle and constructive; there was nothing harsh about them. This put me at ease. The tone was set for the remainder of the discussion by her example. Questions were asked and a few clarifications were needed. I took notes because these would make my paper better. 

Not one negative word was uttered about the topic I wrote on. I was thankful for that. Everything said was constructive and considerate.

The storm raging in my stomach died down. My anxiety melted into excitement. These critiques would make my writing stronger. The occasional negative comment would, in the long run, give me more positive ones. This step was necessary. My writing was being tested and refined. If it could withstand fire, it would be made stronger.

Now I welcome the critiques and criticisms. Maybe not welcome them with enthusiasm, but I don't fear it. I see the reason for it.

I need the idiosyncrasies, irrational fears, and poor decisions pointed out in my life just as much as I need the unclear portions of my writing pointed out. I need the occasional red pen to sweep through, leaving behind the pieces of worth.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I sometimes have moments of being outspoken. I think my 4 hours at work today were those moments. 

Some Sunday afternoons are busy, but others are painfully slow. Today was a busy one. At Brighton Collectibles, we greet each customer when they enter the store. A man walked in and went directly to the charm bar. I asked him if I could do anything for him and told him about the fun promotion we were doing. He said the promotion sounded great and that he would like to do that.

He pointed to a handful of beads and charms and then asked what it totaled. I was still pulling things out and adding up the numbers in my head

"Could you go any slower? I know you don't have anything else to do, but I do."

"I'm almost done," I said patiently. Seriously dude, it had been 10 second since he pointed to a handful of beads and asked for the total.

"If you'd have gone to high school, you could do the simple math," was his belittling response.

"Excuse me," I rebutted as I shut the desk drawer hard, "you don't know a thing about me.

I think I caught him off guard. He may be used to trampling over people in his everyday life, but I'm not one of those people who puts up with it. Especially when he was blatantly being a jerk. I completely quit working and turned to face him.

"I have a double major and a minor and am in the process of applying to graduate schools. And I'm also in the process of working with a Pulitzer prize winner at the San Francisco Chronicle. I've had my writing and photography published in a few different places. I have a great future and this part-time job is simply a stepping stone, not the achieved goal. Anything else you'd like to know?"

He was silent and looked stunned.

I continued calmly, "so what can I help you with?"

"Uhhhh, I'd like some help making a charm bracelet for my wife's birthday," he managed to stammer.

"And I will gladly help you with that if you'd let me. It'll take me a few moments to find what you've asked for," I said as I continued finding the desired beads. "Your current total is $57.50. You need $17.50 more to get the promotion."

We finished the bracelet and as I rung up his purchase, he apologized. It was nothing special or meaningful. I think he was still a little taken aback. I forgave him and we both continued on with our lives.

Friday, January 4, 2013

two new cookbooks

My grandma got these two cookbooks for me! I don't know if they can be considered cookbooks, but I guess I have to start somewhere!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: Enough

My word for 2013 is "enough". I've never done a word-of-the-year before, but I think I'll try it! We'll see where it takes me.

God is enough. 

I am enough.
I have enough.

PS. This is my 300th post!! Woo-hoo!