Friday, January 29, 2010

The Stories I Want to Tell

I learned today in my Native American Studies class that in 1948 the UN held a genocide convention to outlaw all practices of genocide. (Want to read it? Check it out: All the countries involved were to sign the document and hence start the support of preventing genocide and prosecuting those who committed it.

The United States was against the document from the beginning and would not sign it. It wasn't until 1988, forty years later, when the only other countries to have not signed it were Iran, Iraq and Syria, that the United States signed the document. The fear was that our government leaders and military personnel (and any American) would be vulnerable to charges of genocide if they committed it.

So, basically, the government of the time was okay with telling other people not to do it (like Hitler), but didn't want the law turned back on them. I feel angry about that, especially considering how the people native to this land were treated when the Europeans first came over to America, "the New World," and decided they wanted it.

Speaking of that page in our nation's history, I just saw Avatar in 3-D. Wow. What a beautiful, powerful story. I think it had something really important to say about the Columbus story, as well as how our current national and global cultures function, and the way different cultures are treated from within a group. Plus, it was breathtakingly beautiful and emotionally stimulating.

I feel incredibly inspired by the story--that is the kind of story I want to write; something that matters, something that makes a difference, that sees and understands something important and reaches the world with it. I don't haver the words to explain how the movie made me feel, except to tell you that I cried at the end, out of both joy and sorrow, and for almost an hour after I kept breathing heavily, as if to drink into my body the story and the beauty of the world. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it very highly. I have never seen a movie that touched me so deeply and said something so powerful, and really spoke to every one of my emotions and my deep yearnings. I believe that this is the power of story--to charge the very core of your life spirit and make you feel why life is worth living.

Learning Lots,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I learned how to "cross country" in water aerobics today. It is kind of like cross country skiing, except in the deep end of a pool. It may be the most awkward, infuriating, and exhausting exercise I've ever done. I was breathing heavily by the end of the first lap and if it weren't for the waist flotation belts we were required to wear, I would have had to stop! It was frustrating because it was impossible to move quickly if I was doing it correctly, but I'm sore now so that means it must have been a good work out!

I also made this hamburger helper-like dinner, with egg noodles and a homemade sauce mixed in with the ground beef. It was delicious, and the best part is that there is half of it left, so we can eat it again tomorrow.

My haibun for the day is below. I was inspired to write the haiku first, so the first part of the haibun feels incomplete/forced to me. any thoughts?

Walking to the store, rainy snow blows in my face. Walking home, the same. I cannot see my breath and I cannot feel my nose. Three months until spring.

Pine needles in threes:
bird footprints
in silky snow.

Learning lots,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I went to a zumba class today at the rec center. I've never done zumba before, and I have very little rhythm and almost no dance experience. I went mostly because I had missed my regular sculpt class earlier in the day and didn't want to totally skip my work out.

At first I was a little uncomfortable being totally out of my element and with no friends in the class to talk to, but soon I couldn't help myself; I was having a blast! It was so fun and I spent a good deal of the time giggling at myself and with the other women around me who were also having fun. By the end I was completely sweaty (gross? maybe. but awesome? definitely!) and I've decided to keep going to the classes. I felt happier and more energized than I do after a normal work out that is challenging but dull--bouncing around a room with more than fifty other women, sweating to latin dance-inspired music and learning some new moves is totally in line with my new years resolution!

On another note, I've been warily keeping an eye on my printer which has been "out of ink" for weeks but still printing good-quality pages nearly every day. I finally bought new ink two days ago because I was sure it was going to conk out on me soon and I didn't want to be without a replacement. Today (actually, about five minutes ago) the ink finally petered out and it left me thinking: is this just a weird fluke of my printer, or is is a company scam to get me to keep buying new ink cartidges when the one I have is still fine? The printer icon that pops up on the bottom of the screen when printing to show the status of the job has shown an empty black cartridge and a huge yellow exclamation point and the giant letters "WARNING" right above it, probably to scare me into submission and dropping another $25. Ha! Well, little did they know, I'm a poor college student and I milked that sucker dry. So, *sticks out tongue* thpbpbpbpb to you, Canon. I won this round.

Making macaroni and cheese tonight. I still have to take a shower and do mega-loads of homework before bed, so my next krazy kitchen koncoction (wow that last word looks weird) will wait until tomorrow. I can't decide on steak or more chicken... any thoughts?

Learning lots,

Monday, January 25, 2010


I am cooking chicken today! As a self-proclaimed foodie, I am quite ashamed to say that I've never actually cooked chicken before. I've cooked many different kinds of meat: ground beef, shrimp, hotdogs and hamburgers, made an incredibly-failed attempt at cooking steak, am still nervous about cooking fish, but I've somehow managed to avoid cooking chicken all these years.

Whenever I try a new cooking strategy, I try to remember my mom's motto from when I was younger and she used to experiment with cooking new dishes pretty frequently: "If it sucks, we'll just order a pizza." This helps me remember to not put so much pressure on myself and to enjoy the process of cooking instead of freaking out about the results.

I found a delicious-sounding recipe on for Italian baked chicken and pasta that I'll be trying out ina few minutes:

Tomorrow I am going to try making chicken kiev! And soon, very soon, on to steak and then fish. Wheeee!

On another note, here is a haibun I wrote today:

I walk toward the pond and pass the tree that used to have a stump shaped like a heart. It was cut away in the fall. It is winter now, and still I feel sad at the loss. Now there is just an empty hole open to the frigid winter wind. I walk on without a smile, but I carry the tree in my heart.

Crust of ice
with a hole
along the bank.

Also, I am making progress on my sister's scarf! Check out the picture.

Learning lots,


Sunday, January 24, 2010


In the past, weekends have been the time when I seriously lose my motivation to do pretty much anything--homework, write, read, cook, exercise, eat well... I think it comes from the cultural norm that weekends are our time to rest, take a break from work, relax, recuperate--as if doing the things I love and working hard aren't fulfilling--which they are. I felt enormously connected to my world and myself, nourished and joyous last week when I was just starting to write haiku and haibun, making an effort to spend time with people I love, and writing and reading instead of watching TV online (silly technology era, it's so easy to indulge in my addictions!).

I did not have a very nourishing weekend because I didn't do the work to make it so. I have it ingrained in my mind that weekdays are work days and weekends are rest days, but the thing is, if I've really worked to have a full week then I don't need to "rest" on the weekends! I'm working on breaking the habit of creating crappy weekends just because I think I have to sit around and do nothing. I feel more rested and recuperated by living a full life than I do by sitting around, watching movies and eating bad food.

I wrote a new haiku yesterday on the way to Findlay:

Garbage bag ribbons
wave in winter wind,
cling to wire fence.

Learning lots,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiku and Haibun (big risk!)

This semester I am taking an independent study with a favorite teacher of mine. I'm studying the haiku and haibun forms of writing, and striving to bring more consciousness and spirituality to my every day life--even the walks to class or downstairs to get some water. Also, and very importantly, I'm writing creatively every day, a task which I've known for a while that I should be doing anyway but which I have had a hard time putting into practice. I think it's a lot easier for my brain, the calculating logical part of my mind, to conceive of writing a haiku every day (strictly, three lines of 5-7-5 syllables) than to vaguely "write" every day.

I have known the basics of the haiku form for a long time, the academic rules that are easy to teach younger kids just learning about poetry. What I'm discovering is that haiku is so much more than "three lines, with 5-7-5 syllable counts, and usually about nature." Although historically these rules were probably true more often than not, in today's modern age there is more freedom--say, for instance, to write in 5-8-6 (syllables) if the individual poem calls for it. And the haiku is not strictly observational, or objective, as I believed. There's a great deal of subjectivity and the author's imprint in the haiku that helps touch the insight of the moment, and not just the "here's what happened/I saw/existed" in the moment.

I'm very new to the haibun form, which is, historically, a travel journal infused with haiku. The best way I have found to explain it is, "If a haiku is an insight into a moment of experience, a haibun is the story or narrative of how one came to have that experience," according to Bruce Ross. I am excited to start reading more about this form so I have a better grasp on the nuances. The haibun is not a short story and it's not an essay--it's lyric prose, condensed, as I've heard, rather like haiku. Usually each entry is closed with a haiku that doesn't necessarily relate directly to the prose before it. It is up to the reader to make the connection between them. Newer forms of haibun often have haiku interspersed throughout the entry and sometimes at the begining. For now, I am following Matsuo Basho's lead, and keeping my haiku at the end of my prose. (Basho is an ancient master of the haiku who, in his later years, implemented the haibun, and these journals have paved the way for the form's popularity.)

Here is my first attempt at haibun:

He and I walk, talk about women. He asks, "If I ask for a girl's number, will she always think I want sex?" I want to tell him no, not all women think that way. But I remember I did. I tell him yes, but I don't know if that is true either. We walk on in silence. I try not to walk too close to him.

Narrow road into--
I do not know--how
pleasing to see nothing

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vulnerable, Engaged and Sustained

It feels so much better to me to be vulnerable with people (expressing my emotions, asking for help, stating my opinion, being a host) than to be disengaged for fear of being rejected. Sometimes I worry that if I am rejected by someone then I must not be okay--not be a good person, not be interesting, not be a successful hostess. I think this is something that many of us face; looking outward to see if what we're doing or who we are is okay, instead of looking in ourselves to know that we are okay anyway, whether or not the world or the people around us acknowledge us. And even making a mistake doesn't negate the fact that we are okay, it just means that we made a mistake.

The mistake I made today (and have made nearly every day of my life that I can remember) was choosing to be disengaged because it seemed safer to not care about something than to care and be rejected. I was feeling very powerful and engaged and looking forward to a class I was going to, but when I got into the room I chose, pre-consciously, to look disinterested and to not talk. It was a 1000-level class and my assumption was that no one wanted to be there, most of the students were just taking it to fulfill a requirement, and they would hate me for being the "teacher's pet" or judge me for being a "loser" for being interested or "that bitch who always talks."

All of this went on in my mind and happened so quickly that I didn't notice it until my professor began to talk and I felt this awkward pain in my chest from wanting to ask a question but forcing myself to hold it in because that would crack my facade of being "cool." As soon as I became conscious of it, and how much I wanted to participate and engage despite mind-reading my peers and acknowledging the fears I had that they wouldn't like me, I changed the way I was sitting, began taking notes, and raised my hand. So maybe there are people in my class who have labelled me "that bitch who always talks," and maybe some think I'm a loser for being interested, but that doesn't matter to me so much as how fulfilled I felt from engaging and being vulnerable and leading the life I wanted to lead in the moment despite a possibly un-affirming world around me.

Learning lots,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MORE Life!

This weekend I was in Chicago assisting at the MORE Life Training weekend with the Wright Leadership Institute (you can become a fan of them on Facebook or check out their website at from Friday evening to Sunday night. In my last blog post, I made a prediction that I was going to learn a lot about myself while participating in this weekend, and boy did I!

On Friday I filled out a packet to help me understand my leadership strengths and weaknesses and discovered (not much to my surprise) that my biggest gap in leadership is taking risks and making mistakes. For the rest of the weekend, whenever I did a project or worked with people or went to lunch or pretty much anything, I worked on being conscious of taking risks--that is, doing things that take me out of my comfort zone, asking for projects that I knew would challenge me, accepting assignments that I had never done before, and asking for help or clarification when I was working on something that was unclear or beyond my capabilities. On Friday night when the participants went home, I took the big risk of asking for different responsibilities than I had been given that evening, and on Saturday I got them! I felt seen and heard and like I matter to the group when my requests were honored, and also so much more engaged with the material, the participants, and my fellow assistant team members.

On Saturday I got to join a group of the participants (along with their team leader and assistant) on a lunch outing a few blocks away from the Institute. Everyone was given an assignment to follow as many urges as they can during the lunch break, and so in the restaurant we all ended up having a napkin fight (as opposed to a food fight). I surpressed an urge to start throwing food, and one of the participants next to me pointed out that I wasn't doing the assignment because I didn't follow my urge. We started having a conversation about the importance of being conscious of the urges we suppress every day, and choosing moments when following those urges is right and when--like then, throwing food on a man in a $500 suit--was probably not right. The participant asked me, if following urges in the moment is based on what you deem to be right, was Hitler right in following his urge to start the Hollocaust? He kept pressing the matter, trying to get me to either admit that Hitler was right (which I do not believe is true) or that the assignment was bogus and that I, and the Institute, was wrong for asking us to follow our urges. I felt very scared by the way he was pushing me and very hurt by what he was trying to do. I carried this conversation around with me all day and finally talked with another assistant about it at the end of the day. What I discovered is that this way of manipulating a conversation to prove that someone else was wrong and bad was something that I had done to an old friend of mine all the time. When I had been doing this to my old friend I was conscious of what I was doing, but I had no idea how painful it was to be on the other end of a conversation as manupulative as that one. It was such a deep, raw truth to learn about myself, and my feeling of vulnerability when I apologized to this old friend yesterday was such a relief. We cleared the air of so many old heartbreaks and opened the doors to new growth. Although I felt angry at and hurt by this participant on Saturday, I also feel grateful to him for helping me learn this about myself.

Sunday was also about taking risks for me. I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things that scared me, but I felt so happy to be engaged with new material and to be working in different ways with my team. I participated in more activities, I got to do the things I asked for, I received help when I needed it, and at the end of the day felt full to the brim or nourishment that can only come from a life of engagement, truth, adventure, and support. My boyfriend and I shared some deep truths with each other and have already improved our communication and intimacy a hundred-fold. I came back to Ohio and engaged with my old friend and then again with my boyfriend. I supported him in a difficult talk with his parents and shared my feelings of anger and hurt.

Although consciously I know that being a vessel for truth, living my life as an adventure and like every moment matters, engaging fully with those around me and taking risks lead to a fulfilled, nourished life, I constantly need to remind my pre-conscious and subconscious minds that doing the things that scare me lead to the most growth and fulfillment. Expressing my feelings and my deeper yearnings helps me engage more fully with life and the people around me. I am working on catching my urges to talk with people, to write, to do something new, to sing, and everything in between. What I felt this weekend I want to feel every day. I was more vulnerable than I have been historically and I felt more hurt and fear, but I also felt heaps of joy, love, acceptance, affirmation and connection, more than if I had been disengaged and numb.

I live my life as if every moment matters.

I am a powerful woman with thorns and valleys who branches out and expands with inspiring variety and who creates space for the flow of life.

Learning lots,

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Today I learned the history of the world. Not only that, I also learned the history of the human psyche, religion, and poetry. Interestingly enough, all of these things are so intertwined that it is difficult (and impractical) to try to separate them from each other. This is a huge insight for me, because I often feel disconnected from things in my life, as if my poetry is completely separate from my school work, and both are separate from my relationship with my boyfriend, and all or separate from my friends and family and... whew! No wonder I always used to choose numbness over engagement--when I believed I had so many separate lives it felt impossible to live all of them at once, so I just gave up.

My insight for the day is that I live one life. The Monica that is a student is the same Monica that loves her boyfriend is the same Monica that writes poetry is the same Monica that knits... There may be different facets of me, and different ways I choose to live my life based on where I am and what I'm doing and who I'm with at the time, but when it comes down to it, all the facets make up one complete whole.

The way I have lived my life as long as I can remember (probably stemming from my parent's divorce when I was still inelementary school) can be described like this:
I had different lives--let's say, for the sake of visualization, different circles. One circle for school, one circle for love, one circle for writing. I lived only one third of each circle, so each circle felt incomplete and not always worth living. I tried putting each of the thirds together into a new circle two years ago and fell into a very dangerous place. I didn't realize that I had to live each facet--each circle--of my life fully and create a bigger circle encompassing the wholeness of all parts of my life. By putting the thirds together I was only compacting the problem, not expanding my life.

Today, this is the biggest thing I struggle with. I am afraid to dive into my life fully because if I make a mistake I will feel it even more harshly. But the other side is that when I succeed I will feel it a thousand times more wonderfully.

I am going to a weekend training in Chicago this weekend that I know will push me into zones of discomfort, and also that I will have more tools when I leave to help me live a fuller life. As I will have limited access to computers starting tomorrow afternoon, I probably wont be posting again until Monday. But I know I can count on having a lot to say, many new insights, and more things learned about myself than I will be able to articulate when I get back. I am both extremely excited and very scared. Yay!!

Learning lots,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rut (for Janice)

I am in a rut! I had an incredibly moving, motivating, painful, inspiring, inspired, creative, risk-taking semester before winter break, and whether because I'm afraid to go back there again or I'm just tired--or probably both--I've slipped back into my familiar, complacent/apathetic rut. While this rut is familiar and dangerously welcoming, I'm not longer comfortable in it. I've begun to notice a distinct nauseous, physically painful feeling in my body when I'm stuck and numb (strange, that I should feel something when I'm numb... oxymoronic? yes. true? also, yes) and unengaged.

Hence, this blog. This is a way for me to follow through on the things I have committed to--leading a fuller life, having more adventures, learning and making mistakes. I feel obligated to you all to continue posting and, secondarily, obligated to myself to follow through with this resolution. I hope to switch my priorities so that sticking to this resolution is less painful and more enjoyable and so that not letting myself down is the most important factor in keeping true to my word.

Something that I know will help me with this resolution, but that I am having trouble accepting gracefully, is the death of my DVD player. I had given up watching TV addictively a few months ago, and to my dismay, slowly began to watch DVDs addictively in its place. It was very difficult for me to turn off my DVD player and be with myself in the silence of my room, or play music instead--there is something comforting to me about seeing and hearing another human in the room with me, even if it is a 2D fictional person speaking and moving quietly in the background. So yesterday when my DVD player quietly broke, I desperately tried disc after disc hoping that maybe it was a disc-error and not a problem with the machine.

Now that I do not watch or have cable in my room, nor a way to watch movies (except my laptop, which I abhor watching movies on), I have myself, my music, my writing and my imagination. And my knitting. I am in the process of learning to inspire myself and not rely on the short-cut method of finding inspiration. I was able to do this for my thesis last year, and change almost entirely the way in which I live my life and the person I want to become, and I know I can do it again now. I am taking direction from my fellow blogger, Janice ( I recommend following it!) and pushing myself to do anything and everything I can to be the writer I know I can be and lead the life I am inspired to lead.

Learning lots,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Feminism, Poetry and Myself

Yesterday I went to my first ever class about feminism. It turns out "Interdiscplinary Studies in Literature" is actually "Women's Literature and Feminist Theory" here at BG. Who knew?? Well, apparently everyone but me. I stayed for the hour and fifteen minutes of the first class and then decided, Hey, I'm pro-women's rights, but I don't think I'm a feminist. I'm not sure how to feel about this--as a woman, should I be a feminist? Or is it a label I can do without but still hold many of the same ideals? I think I will do more research on feminism to find out more about it--meanwhile, I have dropped that class.

Today I went to my second round of BG's 4000-level poetry workshop class. It is being taught by visiting poet James Ragan who already seems like a wonderful potential mentor, or at least really cool guy with neat ideas and an interesting background. The more I am exposed to poetry the more I realize that I actually really like it, and listening to James Ragan speak made me realize, again, that I want to do something about it. Up until recently my poetry hasn't had much of anything to say because I was afraid to say much of anything, but after taking classes with Theresa Williams (a wonderful mentor and friend and one of the greatest sources of inspiration in my life) and now James Ragan, as well as being inspired by my peers, I am thirsty to write things of meaning. I have statements to make and beliefs and my own mythos, and I want to speak to the public instead of to myself or the few people who read my stuff in workshops. I want to be more active with my writing, both poetry and fiction. I want to put myself out there and take more risks and make more mistakes. I think words are a powerful form of activism, and this is something I want to explore more within myself.

Learning lots,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Michigan Left

I made my first Michigan left turn today. I also explored Mount Clemens and went to a movie by myself--Sherlock Holmes, and I was disappointed.

I could have avoided making one of the crazy Michigan left turns, but I decided that I wanted it to be my new learn/do for the day. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Michigan Left, it goes something like this: On many major roads, instead of making a direct left turn onto it, you need to make a right turn then get into the left lane and, a few yards later, make a quick u-turn-like left to go on the opposite direction. These left turns involve crossing a wide "median" and often waiting for a light to turn green and cross-traffic to stop. This is the only occasion that I am aware of where it is legal for right-side-of-the-road drivers to make a left turn on red, since you wouldn't have to be crossing traffic, just pulling out into it.

I also learned that I am comfortable going to the movies by myself, eating lunch by myself, and sitting in a public place (like a Panera) while reading or knitting by myself.

That's all for now!

Learning lots,

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Knitting--Changing Colors

Well I'm up in Detroit with my boyfriend for his MC drill weekend, and I spent today lounging around the hotel room knitting, reading and looking up new recipes on I decided to start a different scarf for my sister--the 55-stitch across scarf I had started was too long to sit comfortably on my knitting needles, and took way too long to get across one row. The new scarf is 35-stitches across and much more managable. Since this afternoon, I've knit about three inches and I just changed colors from red to white! However, learning how to change colors was more than "just" doing it.

I spent about an hour on the internet today looking up the proper way to change colors for a striped, knit scarf. I found different advice, from tying (leaving a knot) the new color onto the old, or knitting it in for a full row and then dropping the old color, or knitting the new color in for just a stitch and then dropping the old, or not dropping the old color at all and just carrying it up a few rows until I need it again. Holy cow! How is a woman to choose??

Despite my reservations (what if I messed up? what if it was bad advice? What if the scarf unravelled and I had to start all over all over again?), I chose the third option, knitting the two colors together for one stitch in the new row and then dropping the red, leaving a tail to sew in later--which leaves me with the necessity of finding a needle large enough for a piece of yarn very, very soon. Perhaps my local craft store? I can only hope.

The scarf seems to be holding together nicely despite having now three loose tails that have yet to be secured, but I feel bouyed by success and hopeful that the final project will turn out nicely.

Tomorrow I will be making my first Michigan left turn. I have much to say about the Michigan Left, but I will leave that for tomorrow. You can wait with anticipation for my rant, and it will be satisfying, at least to me.

Learning lots,

p.s. Ever wonder what the things on the bottom of jet wings next to the engines (they look kind of like elongated silver footballs... see the pic below) are? They are hydraulic actuator covers--aerodynamic covers for the hydraulics that move the flaps on the wings! Thanks, Yahoo!, for this bit of trivia.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Today I learned a few things (from Mythbusters, my source of endless, useless factoids--as well as endless entertainment):

1. You cannot ricochet a bullet off three objects and have it come back to the shooter with lethal force. It is possible to angle materials (steel, lead, concrete) so that the bullet returns to the shooter, but by the time it comes back it will have lost most of its energy and would not be lethal. You can, however, bend a steel pipe almost into a full circle and shoot a gun into it and have the bullet return to the shooter with lethal force.

2. You cannot use a tree to catapult a dead body over 40-foot walls of a castle that's 100-feet away. Conifers are the ideal tree to use, but even using the most elastic tree (I think it was a kind of spruce), chopping off the done and all the branches, and pulling it back to its near-breaking point, Buster (the Mythbuster crash-test dummy) could not fly over the castle walls.

3. Milk is the best way to cool a mouth and ease the pain of eating too many hot peppers. Some other remedies tested were water, beer, tequila, toothpaste, wasabi, and petroleum jelly. Milk wins!

I really do enjoy Mythbusters. It is the only show that I still look forward to watching occasionally since I have given up my TV addiction. Plus it makes me feel smart :-)

Learning lots,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Breaks! Pool and Nose Surgery -- for Sarah

Sorry I missed my post yesterday, for the few of you who are following this blog. I was out playing pool with my boyfriend and some of our friends, and then woke up this morning feeling quite under the weather.

I am not an avid pool player--I enjoy the occasional game with friends--and I almost never break at the beginning of the game. I tried it once and was so embarrassed by the results (cue ball in side pocket, no more than four or five balls moving out of the formation) that I didn't want to try again, and I've gotten along just fine without knowing how to break for many, many years. But last night my boyfriend and one of our friends doggedly urged me to break, so though I was resistant to learning a new skill (funny for the woman whose resolution it is to learn new things!) I got help setting up the angle of the cue ball to the formation, the "proper" way to hold the cue (note my cynicism, haha), and I just went for it. It was a fairly successful break, but I ended up losing that game.

Today, in honor of my friend Sarah who got nose surgery this morning after a terrible break and then weeks of doctors giving her bad advice, I looked up information about nose surgery per her request. The break in her nose did not deviate the bone (cock it to the side and make it look crooked like you ordinarily think of when someone breaks their nose), but rather it broke straight on so it didn't even look like anything was wrong. Because of this odd breakage, the doctor she saw at first told her that she couldn't have surgery because there was nothing that could be done unless it healed poorly, and then she could have it fixed. But then after seeing a specialist she found out that, in fact, she did need to have surgery immediately or else it would heal badly and that would create a slew of other problems. So this morning she went unter the knife and from what I hear was in recovery by 10:45--and I still didn't know anything about nose surgery.

As the internet savvy woman that I am (aren't we all, in this digital age?), I hopped onto google to find out what I could. At first I googled "nose surgery," then "non-deviated nose break" then "non-deviated nose surgery," and came up with peanuts. Mostly I found out what I already knew--in the case of deviation, the doctors need to reset the nose within 7-10 days, the surgery can cause breathing problems, numbness, nose asymmetry, scarring, swelling, and the possibility of revisional surgery (this I had not thought of!). I assume that, excepting the resetting, non-deviated nose surgery risks about the same things.
I looked up nasal reconstruction and found this website, for those of you who are interested:

Here is Sarah's take on the surgery: "All I know is they're gonna break the shit out of it and then put it back together like a puzzle. And that it's different from a nose job." She also told me that they're going to make an incision arund her mouth as well, and that the list of things she cannot do after the surgery ranges from no wearing shirts unless they zip/button down, to no brushing her teeth, to no vigorous exercise or anything that get's her breathing heavily. They even went so far as to ban sneezing, as if any human can prevent that.

I will probably learn more about this particular surgery when Sarah is functional and emotionally ready to tell me the details, and if I learn anything of note I will be sure to record it here.

Also, if anyone is wondering, I have about an inch and a half on my sister's 55-stitch-across scarf! But shhhh, don't tell her!

Learning lots,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Hey guys!

Today I learned how to knit--well, more specifically, I re-learned how to knit. I've done it before but not in many years, and when I got the needles into my hands this afternoon, I couldn't even remember how to tie the slip knot onto the needle. (Wait, it's a slip knot, I know what that is! So why couldn't I tie it? Probably because I thought there was some magical, knitting slip knot that rivaled any complex sailing knot. I found out I was wrong when I watched a video about it. Silly me.)

I bought two large balls of yarn with the vain thought that maybe I could get started on my sister's birthday present right now and have it done in time to knit myself, my mom, and all the women in my family scarves by the beginning of March. Haha, yeah right.

I googled "how to knit" because I didn't want to buy a $10 instructional magazine, and found this wonderful website that got me through two hours of casting on, knit-stitching, and, finally, casting off. I ended up with a cute little red trapezoid of knitting sucess, which I have named Zoidberg. It's trapezoidal shape was not, sadly, formed because I calmed down and loosened my stitching as I went, but because somehow I started off with 10 stitches on the needle and ended up with 13. Hmmm... But I didn't drop a stitch anywhere! I think if I practice for an hour a day, I could have my sister's scarf done by Christmas.

I've added a picture of Zoidberg at the bottom of this post, as well as the site that got me started.

Learning lots,

(check it out:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Warm snow?

As some of you may know, I live in a house with no insulation (no, I'm not exaggerating, it's just a very old house) and a poor heating system. A few times in the cold months so far I've been able to see my breath in my own home! When I woke up this morning and found it snowing, but my house warmer than usual, I wondered why. Here's the answer:

Very cold air can't hold moisture. The water vapor that remains in the air becomes frost, evaporation is reduced, and humidity remains low. When the air is warmer and more humid, like the 23 degress it is today as opposed to the -7 (with wind chill) it was yesterday, it can hold moisture which can turn into snow. Precipitation is possible and, as we all know, the freezing temperature of water is 32 degree farenheit, so the precipitation that results is snow (not rain). So, in fact, it's not the snow that makes the air warm, but the warm air that makes the snow possible.

(I got my answer from this site: To verify my facts, I checked other sites too, but this one is the most friendly to the non-scientific mind. Plus there is a cute cartoon guy bundled up and looking confused, so I liked it immediately.)

Learning lots,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Buscuits, Football, Engines, and Macaroni

Hey all! So as you probably read in my first post, my first big new learn of the year was that a can of baked beans works perfectly well as a substitute for a rolling pin. The biscuits that came from that Macgyver-esque episode of mine were, sadly, not as inspired as the rolling can idea, but I was not discouraged!

The next day, I found out all about engines from my boyfriend whose car is kaput despite having a brand new, four cyllinder engine. His options seem to be either A. replacing the engine again, this time putting in a 6 cyllinder (which may or may not fix his problems but would probably give him more power under the hood), or B. getting a new car. Apparently changing the size of the engine in a car (from a 4 cyllinder to a 6) requires more work than just getting a new engine! Since there are more cyllinders in a 6 cyllinder engine than in a 4 (of course), it stands to reason that the engine would be bigger too! So he'd also have to get a new fan shroud to change the capacity of the engine compartment.

Now if I need to replace an engine in a car anytime soon, I'm a little closer to being able to do it right!

We also had a good, long conversation about football (which I do not follow nor really care to) and how at the end of division 1 college football they do a Bowl system which is different than the Playoff system of professional football and division 2 and 3 schools. Why is it different? And why does it matter? Because in a Bowl system, more teams get to play at the end of the season, and it's organized by conference winners, second-place winners, and third (though that may be wrong, he wasn't sure when he was telling me). The first-place winners of the top conferences get to play in the bigger bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, and one other) and so on down the line. Conferences are organized by region (pretty much) and history of the game. However, in the NFL and division 1 and 2 schools, they do a Playoff system, which guarantees that the top teams of the season will play each other at the end, even if they wouldn't have been contenders in the big Bowl games because of location and history.

For being someone who knows next to nothing about most sports, being able to recall this much information from yesterday is stupendous! Go me!

Finally, today I made baked mac and cheese for the first time ever by myself. I even improvised on the recipe when I didn't have enough of the cheese asked for in the recipe, didn't have the right bake-ware and (those of you with weak stomachs or mother-complexes, stop reading now!) even used sour cream past it's expiration date--but don't tell my boyfriend. It was delicious, and so far neither of us are sick. Let's just cross our fingers that in the morning we feel just as good ;-)

Learning lots,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

About this Blog -- New Year's Resolutions and Living a Fuller Life

So, it's the new year, 2010, a new decade, and time to make resolutions.

My resolutions in the past have been the usual suspects--exercise five days a week, go vegetarian, stop drinking pop, et cetera, and the only one I ever kept was to stop drinking pop (I quit for about six years, and now only drink it rarely). I thought for this year I wanted to make a resolution that I could keep, and then I amended that to making a resolution that I wanted to keep. So I decided that this year, I would commit to learning and/or doing one new thing every day.

This idea came on New Year's morning when I decided to make biscuits from scratch (a first for me), and discovered that I didn't have a rolling pin. I was upset at first, considered just throwing away the dough that I had already kneaded, but then decided that I didn't have enough money to replace the ingredients I would have been wasting, and anyway if I didn't make them now I probably never would. So I found a giant can of baked beans and used it as a rolling pin instead. And it worked! The biscuits kind of sucked anyway, but I was so proud of myself for not giving up and having my lack of proper kitchen utensils ruin my morning. I went on facebook later that day and updated my status about "the first new thing learned this year," and the rest is history!

I think potentially this resolution could devolve into me googling something I don't know just before midnight on some nights because I didn't want to break the resolution, so I also decided to attach it to a vision for myself and think about why I wanted to learn and do new things--what benefit would I get out of it? Here's what I came up with:

1. I will step out of my comfort zone (by learning how to grill food, or relearning how to drive stick shift, for example)
2. I will step out of my comfort zone (by admitting that I don't know everything, by asking questions, and making mistakes)
3. I will lead a more adventurous life; I will take mroe risks
4. I will continue to learn, and not just academically
5. I will do the things I always thought about (needlepointing, knitting, dance, more cooking)
6. I will be more present and engaged with my life and the world around me

By having these purposes backing me up, I will be less likely to quit or forget my resolutions. So it's not just about learning new stuff, but about living a life of adventure, power, and engagement.

So I will be posting every day (or at least every week) about the things I've been learning and the adventures I've been going on during this new year. I am keeping track of the things I learn (on my phone, notecards, journals, my computer, my hand... just about anywhere!) and I will be sharing them with you. I hope I can inspire others to learn and do new things, and I hope you all will comment on my posts and inspire me!