Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Morning, Monday!

It is 7:20am. I argued with myself about waking up to run this morning. [But I don't wanna!] I justified staying in bed because I could hear a light rain falling. [Just do it] After I finally hauled my butt out of bed, I got ready but had misplaced my keys. [Ugh] I missed the time to run with my running group, so I settled on hitting the gym for a shorter run. [I got this] Upon my arrival at the gym, I slammed my door, looked at my car seat, and realized that I just locked my keys in the car [^&%$]

Good Morning, Monday.

Campus Police helped me out and I fit in a one-mile run (after all that, I should have just stayed in bed!!!). I want to throw my weight around and be cranky this morning. But I caught myself: whether the events in my life make me feel like I have a good day or a bad day, it isn't my day. The day is a gift of mine to use wisely. I showered, made some coffee, pumpkin oatmeal, and I am ready. So bring it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Emily and Tom

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all.
~Emily Dickinson

While some people may consider me obscure and random (just a touch), I know exactly how I got to where I am. This poem is a favorite of mine. I recently saw it in a piece of artwork I would like to recreate and started looking up some background to Miss Dickinson's writing. In the process, I discovered that Thomas Wentworth Higginson contributed as one of Emily's literary mentors. Thomas Wentworth Higginson also served as the colonel of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers (the first Federally-authorized African American regiment) and wrote the work "Army Life in a Black Regiment." If you are familiar with my research, then you would understand why seeing a relationship between Emily and Thomas struck a chord with me. I will continue to investigate this puzzle piece of history I have discovered. In the meantime, I have to make a trip to the Lobby of Hobbies so I can get the materials needed to paint the poem.

A thought: Dickinson suggests that hope never fails or maybe that hope will always exist. I appreciate that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

All Work and Some Play

I love this.

I also love this: ranger posters in the hotel rooms.

Whoa! That's the biggest arrowhead I have ever seen!

I left on Monday morning with a crew from the battlefield to head to Mammoth Cave National Park for some Operational Leadership training. I can't complain; I love Mammoth Cave and the training proved fairly interesting.

A thought that intrigued me the most during the training concerned the high incident rates amongst National Park Service personnel. Additionally, in an OPM survey, the NPS ranked something like 249th out of 251 government agencies in work/life ratio. A huge percentage of National Park Service employees are dedicated to their mission. Many are so dedicated that it blinds them to their own safety (hence the high incident rates) and even their home life and families. Some are so dedicated, they've tattooed the arrowhead on their arm. Just kidding, Dad...

It is a blessing and a curse to work with so many talented, passionate, and dedicated employees. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love to visit other parks and meet other rangers who also devote so much to their job. But I think I have to take care that I don't fall into the my-job-is-the-center-of-my-world mentality. That could prove problematic in my future (imma thinkin).

In other news, I met with my thesis advisor last week and the meeting went well. I actually feel motivated enough to pull out my research again. Maybe I can finish this thing so I can move on with my life. And by "move on with my life" I really mean "be a park ranger somewhere." It will happen.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I have the best job in the world

I leave tomorrow morning for three days of training in Operational Leadership. "Operational Leadership" is just a fancy word for "being safe." I will take it. While some people might dread the hours of class time covering mundane material that may actually seem like common sense, I am excited. The training is hosted by Mammoth Cave National Park, site of the longest cave system in the world.

I have the best job in the world.

P.S. This afternoon I busted the lead singer to a fairly famous country music group for riding his bike with his kids where he wasn't allowed. He made an honest mistake and I maintained a pleasant attitude towards the rule-breaker. I also kept my professionalism about me and treated him like all of our visitors. I don't think he knew that I knew who he was. So there was my (minor) brush with greatness. And my example demonstrating Wallace Steggner's line about national parks being "America's Best Idea." I don't care who you are, these parks are for all- democracy in action, baby.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You did it! Congratulations!

I feel like this:

It could be the peppermint mocha.

Monday, September 13, 2010

pumpkin spice

At the turn of each new season, I get very excited. Usually, I start spouting how the upcoming season is my favorite season and can hardly contain myself. I also try to encourage that season's early arrival. I break out my shorts a few days before it is actually warm enough to wear them in the spring. I purposefully leave my winter coat at home in March, hoping that will going to stop any biting, winter winds (it doesn't). I rival any eight-year old kid in my Christmas excitement (and no, tearing off extra links from the Christmas countdown chain does not make the 25th of December arrive any faster).

At the end of August, I bought a pumpkin spice air freshener. Maybe if I pump more freshener in my house, the temperature will drop and the leaves will start changing. I love fall! Fall is my favorite! Bring on the excessive use of pumpkin and cinnamon! And the sweaters! And school books and fall hikes! And excuses to drink hot cocoa and wear shades of purple, orange, and brown!

Wait a minute! What am I doing!? Falling into the same trap I do every season. Letting my now become my past before I take the time to appreciate it. I have to savor my end of summer before I rejoice in autumn's arrival. My pumpkin spice will have to wait.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


In my heightened excitement this morning (over the race and my coffee), I left the house without putting on a vital piece of my uniform: my sunscreen. Summer wished me farewell with one last Ranger-shaped sunburn, complete with a farmer's tan and a blazing red triangle at my throat. Thank you, UVB and UVA rays. I owe you.

endorphins + caffeine

I consider myself a running enthusiast. This morning I ran my first 10K race. Very few understand this new-found love I have of running. Unless you have risen at the crack of dawn, pinned that number to your race shirt, grabbed paper cups of water from strangers only to throw them off the side when you are done, then crossed the finish line with hundreds of other sweaty runners, you don't get it. Each heartbeat fuels my push to run faster. Faster. Faster. I run for race day.

This morning's race was different. I took a break from running all week because of my cold and may or may not be fully recovered. Eh, life. I may or may not have visited the Frist Center of Visual Arts last night when I should have been sleeping (it's not my fault! I wanted to see their "Golden Age of Couture" exhibit! it's last day is tomorrow!). I did not finish with my best time, but I finished and that was my initial goal. With each race I think "ah, next time I will have a base time to race against myself!" It is rather bizarre, as I never considered myself an athlete of any sort (I was in Math Olympiads in sixth grade and did receive a trophy...). So the more I train, the more I amaze myself in my enjoyment of something I used to think I hated.

After my run this morning, I had to go to work. To lead living history programs. With my cold. Leading living history programs may be one of my least favorite activities, as it makes me nervous. I think I am afraid that I will say something incorrect or forget my lines or something. To make up for it, I decided to treat myself to some liquid deliciousness before work. I have recently discovered that peppermint mocha-flavored creamer is now sold year-round and not just at Christmas. I decided this morning would be an excellent morning to enjoy my peppermint mocha coffee. You know, to loosen up my congested chest. I also thought that enjoying my beverage before rolling into work would help me calm down a little, as I could just take a deep breath of the yummy smell and let my cares melt away (like they do in the commercials). Big mistake.

Between my "runner's high" that lasted most of the day, my nervousness regarding programs, and my consumption of caffeine (that I am NOT used to), I could not be kept still. A fellow ranger insisted that I did not walk anywhere today, I was skipping. I very well could have been, but I was on such a rush that I can't hardly remember a thing. I believe my ranger programs went well. I did once say "Hello, my name is Ranger." And a fellow ranger wanted to know why I was wound up tighter than his watch. I don't even know what you are talking about Jim this isnormalanditisprobablyendorphinsalthoughitcouldbethecoffeeidecidedtodrinkthismorningbutitwassogoodhaveyoueverhadpeppermintmochacoffeeiamsogladthatitisayearroundflavorbecauseiamgoingtobeaddictictedyouhavenoideabananas.

Maybe I should reduce my peppermint mocha consumption by half. Because I won't stop running. Ok, so maybe I will reduce it by a third. Or just a sip. Every once in a while...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Snapshots of a Sick Day (worked)

6:25am Alarm sounds, my head is pounding, I can't breathe! [press snooze]

6:32am Alarm sounds, head still pounding, I still can't breathe out my nose [press snooze]

6:39am Alarm sounds, the sensation in my head is more like a throbbing than a pounding, I can slightly wheeze through one nostril, my cat informs me she is starving with her scratchy "rowr," I contemplate calling in sick [press snooze]

6:46am Alarm sounds, the idea of medicating myself entices me out of bed, I actually turn alarm off.

6:50am Feed the cats, take some tylenol and pseudephed, boil some water for enchinacea tea. It's going to be one of those days.

7:01am Start shower, hope the steam will loosen up my congested chest. Indeed, the meds don't take effect soon enough and I attempt to condition my hair before shampooing and use facial soap to scrub my body. Mmm, minty.

7:24am Attempt to use Mary Kay products to cover up my sickly-looking face. Give up, and throw on some eye-liner, mascara, and powder. I am going to blow my nose enough to rub off any makeup, anyway.

7:46am Peanut butter toast and tea for breakfast. Grab a can of soup for lunch. Pack a box of tissues and my meds. Hope I have everything in my bag.

8:22am Walk into work. Immeadiately am asked about three different tasks that I think I recall? from last week. Explain my space cadet-like condition.

8:40am Turn on computer. Stare at screen. Wish for a warm bath and a soft pillow (in vain). Blow nose and wash hands, instead.

9:02am Still staring at computer.

9:26am Reply to emails. Hope they sound coherent. Blow nose and wash hands.

9:50am VIP kids from local high school visit. I help them wash the park van and car.

10:43am Back to desk. Stare at computer. Think about weekend programs. I should probably finish my scripts for the weekend.

10:46am Contemplate taking more meds. Is three and a half hours close enough to four? Can I hold out another half hour?

11:06am Take more meds. Blow nose again. Wash hands.

11:13am Find regimental files to start script writing.

11:16am Look at opened regimental files on my desk, hoping the script will write itself.

11:30am Give up on writing to eat lunch. MMM, soup. My choice of southwestern veggie will surely get my nose to run a little?

11:56am Blow nose, wash hands, consider calling it a day and going home.

11:57am Check email again. Persevere.

12:08pm Is it time for more meds, yet? Heat up water for more enchineacea tea. Those scripts won't write themselves. Blow nose and wash hands.

12:12pm I need lotion for my hands and nose.

12:47pm Have found old scripts to work with. That is a start.

12:56pm Reading about cannonading only reminds me of my pounding head.

1:14pm Why do supervisors need to talk to me? Can't they see that I would rather be lying down under a rock somewhere?

2:00pm Check to see if any visitors would like to listen to a stuffy-nosed ranger talk. Nope. Back to the dungeon (after I blow my nose and wash my hands).

2:06pm Weigh the pros and cons of staying or going home. Stinkin' work ethics. Just do it.

2:08pm Continue flitting back and forth between writing, fighting the urge to leave, washing hands, and blowing nose.

3:28pm Have you ever noticed how lots of medicines are either red, white, or blue? Mine are. Patriotic meds. These are the thoughts that run through my head BEFORE I take them...

4:10pm Nap? Nope. Only in my dreams. More tea.

4:13pm Ony 47 more minutes. Come on, 5 o'clock! Let's go, 5 o'clock! Arrive just a little bit faster.

4:22pm Blow nose (very gently because it is near raw) and wash hands.

4:34pm Start cleaning up for the day.

4:46pm Help close visitor center. Wish someone a happy weekend (and proceed to get reminded that it is, indeed, only Tuesday). Think long and hard about my pillow and how my weekend is actually still 4 days away.

4:49pm Yay. I get to go home. And take more meds. And sleeeeeeeeeeep.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Caterpillars Galore

So if you know me, you know that I am not a huge fan of bugs. I am much better about not wigging out about creepy crawlies than I have been in my past regarding the things, but still can't understand that phrase "cute as a bug." I particularly loathe insects that jump (ask anybody in my family about my feelings regarding grasshoppers) but caterpillars tend to freak me out, too. Maybe it is the way they move. Maybe it is the fact that they are fuzzy. Maybe I am just weird.

The other day while I was babysitting, the three-year-old ran up to me with a thick, fuzzy, green caterpillar. "Miss E-bizbiz! Miss E-bizbiz! I found a caterpillar!" I imagine the thing's head had already been crushed by the toddler's fingers, but I didn't want him to come near me with it. "You have to be gentle with the caterpillar. Go put him on the grass so he can grow up to be a beautiful butterfly." After tossing the caterpillar into the lawn (the three-year-old's version of gentle), he ran out to look for it. After a thorough examination with his hands on his knees, the baby had no such luck finding said caterpillar. He looked up and exclaimed, "Miss E-bizbizz! The caterpillar must now be a butterfly and flew away because he is gone."

Aww! He is cute as a... not bug. He did make me appreciate caterpillars for a moment. A very brief moment. Then today at work I was just typing away, working on revisions or report-writing or something when I felt a tingle on my middle finger and mindlessly brushed at it. A caterpillar rolled off my hand and into my lap. Rockets shooting up into the air have nothing on how fast I popped out of my chair. How did a caterpillar get on my hand while I was at my desk in the basement!?!? I was a good park ranger and rather than killing the nasty thing (against my better judgement), I took him outside to let him live to see another day. I am still puzzled by the situation and will have minor paranoia attacks in the upcoming days regarding those icky things. Ew.