Friday, June 29, 2012

rock, paper, cannons

If you ever think you will have a hard time convincing me of going somewhere, just sell me on its history. Especially if that history has cannons. 

I had no intention (at all, ever, nope, you can't make me, not going to happen) of visiting the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge. I had half a mind to attempt to find their Rural Life Museum (because I am THAT nerd), but the abundance of purple and gold that exudes from all-things-LSU-related has so far turned me off. I am whatever the opposite of "fan" is of sports, especially of teams with nothing-less-than-obnoxious fans. While visiting Baton Rouge the other night, a friend of mine insisted I visit the campus. 


"But it is where I went to school!"


"But it is part of this area's culture and you should at least visit it to be familiar with the culture."


"They've got a live tiger! We can visit a live tiger!"


"Two cannons fired at Fort Sumter were donated by William Tecumsah Sherman to the school and are on display."

"YES! What are we waiting for, let's go!"

So I got to see the cannons. I was also excited about Sherman's once-upon-a-time presence at the site, but then my friend had to let me down gently, informing me that Sherman was the president of the school when the campus was in Pineville, not the current site. Bummer. It's like that old saying: you can take the girl out of the battlefield park, but you cannot take the interest of battle history out of the girl. Or something like that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stayin' Out of Trouble (the best I can)

Not that this is breaking news, but there is not enough time in the day for me to do everything I want to do. I have always felt that way and will probably feel that way when I die. "What? This is eternity? There isn't enough time in eternity to do everything I want to do!" I had a day off today and kept myself busy just about the whole day.

I got two of my tires replaced (ka-ching), I ran some errands, I visited a friend in the hospital, and I worked in my "garden." Gardening proved to be the most fun. It also proved the sweatiest. I did not know one body could produce so much sweat in less than a half hour period with minimal exertion (before 10AM). I would have been impressed with the human body and its ability to turn itself into a functioning fountain if my eyes hadn't been burning from the drops that had accumulated in the two minutes after I had stepped outside. I had two thoughts: "I should stop drinking water and maybe I will stop sweating," and "Clearly, if I don't keep drinking water, I will die and they will only find the leathery remains of my skin encasing my bones."

My patio now looks nice. And I didn't die.

I did get to take a monster nap this afternoon. I'd call it a "glorious nap" but all naps are glorious (so I'd only be stating the obvious). I seldom take naps, but when I do, I enjoy every sleeping second of them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rest in Peace, Ranger Hall

Flags flown at National Park Service sites have been at half-staff for the past two days out of respect for Park Ranger Nick Hall who died during a rescue at Mount Rainier on Friday. I notice when visitors ask, "why is the flag at half-staff," they generally expect to know the person, at least by name, and often act awkward when they learn that it was a park ranger that they've never heard of before. Should they express apologies? Should they extend condolences? Did I know him? They know it is sad, but how are they supposed to respond? Part of my role as interpreter is providing an "out" for that moment, providing a form of comfort to complete strangers. 

Nick Hall died doing something he enjoyed. No, I didn't know him. But I know what it means to wear the green and grey, to protect the iconic, to preserve wonders, to live out your passion while sharing it with others. I don't believe Ranger Hall was doing anything less than that.

My heart goes out to his family, those who knew him well, and to those at Mount Rainier who already suffered loss earlier this year. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

vending machine pizza

I read this article the other day about a pizza vending machine. The wonderment of the whole thing nearly overwhelmed me! Let's start from the top:

It's pizza.
Duh. This one should be a given. Although, since I have my own food group labeled "pizza" in my personal food pyramid, this may just be a given for me.

It's about time!
Finally! Guys, the Jetsons aired in the early 1960s, showing us how technologically-produced food was possible. If you can dream it, you can do it! You are telling me it took us nearly half a century to get our act together?

The Godzilla-style concept video rocks my world.
Rather than citizens of Japan running from a giant lizard, it is a wannabe Spice Girl showing us the steps of vending machines. This must be produced for Americans by non-Americans because if there is something we understand, it is vending machines. Regardless, when I see a film with a voiceover translation, "Go-ji-ra!!" inevitably pops in my head.

British accents sound smarter. Period.
The second video hosts a narrator with a particularly smart-sounding accent. This is a brilliant idea because the accent said so!

It would especially handy if they would go ahead and create one at my apartment complex. I wouldn't even have to worry about walking across the street to the store to get a frozen pizza! Ah, the future. Who knew it would get here so soon?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Yesterday, I walked out to my car to discover God has decided, yet again, to provide me with a trial, another opportunity to practice patience. On my way to the grocery store, I discovered my car had a flat tire. All air, gone. Curses!

I am aware of how to change a tire, but I pay that extra $5 a month for roadside assistance so I don't have to! No need to risk chipping a nail if I can help it! Roadside assistance showed up within 15 minutes of the call, were super friendly, and got their potentially nail-breaking task completed within the next 15 minutes.

So now I am waiting at the auto shop, hoping they can just patch that puppy and it won't cost me much. And thinking thoughts about how I can't control about 94 percent of my life (hiccups, included!). It's how I deal with that 6 percent that I can control that makes the difference.

That's what I keep telling myself this fine morning, anyway.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 18, 2012

Real-Live Blogging

The following post contains some adult language. Reader discretion is advised.

Actually, reader discretion is always advised, regardless of content. 

I started blogging as a method to document my trip to the central Pacific over three years ago. Then writing posts became 1) a way to keep my long-distance family "in the loop," 2) my version of revving my writing engine as I sat down and worked on my thesis, 3) a stress reliever. After graduate school, I played around with blogging, writing about my journey of getting a new job and moving to a new area. I find I enjoy this medium. My family can still keep track of me (and make sure I haven't completely fallen off the deep end... at least until they read until the end of this post). I can express ideas, stretch my writing skills, and I find that writing still serves as a form of stress relief for me.

For a hot minute, I struggled with the direction of this blog. "What's the point!? I am writing to the air, publishing to the vast interwebs, and who cares!?" My awesome[st] brother-in-law [ever] encouraged me to write. The last time I visited him, he reminded me of the advice that seems to float out there about just doing what you enjoy and doing it often in order to get better. That sounds like an excellent idea!

I channeled my "perishing without a vision" feeling into creating another, more directed blog about theories regarding my work/studies/ideas on both. I was reading interactions of other bloggers, chewing on the ideas they set forth, biting at the bit I had imposed upon myself. I want to be a part of that conversation, too! So I made up my mind to do just that.

Creating my History and Interpretation blog freed me up to goof off even more on this one. I am still working on the "engagement" aspect of my other site, but discovered the opportunity to get my feet wet in the world of interacting-by-blogging for this blog. And it turns out, my story includes late-night Twitter decisions, similar to those I will be interacting with (wait for it, you'll see).

I follow a wide assortment of Twitter personalities, from the super-serious to the super-ridiculous. Michael Ian Black just happens to be one of those. And only one. He recently (and by "recently," I mean "last week") published a book entitled, America, You Sexy Bitch, with Meghan McCain and the two of them have been promoting it. One of the promotions rested in a retweet by a blogger, Mandy, of The Well-Read Wife. This retweet advertised free copies of this book as a means for Mandy to launch Mandy's Blogger Book Club.  When I first saw the notice, I thought to myself, "that'd be fun, but it is probably for real-live bloggers and I am just an amateur." I went about my day, planning how I could make myself into more of a real-live blogger. Then I got home and drank a Shiner Bock, wrote a little, read a little, wrote some more, and ran across the announcement again via Twitter. "Why not!?" I filled out the form, pressed "submit," and put myself to bed. I am going to be a real-live blogger starting tomorrow!

Today, Mandy announced the bloggers who will be receiving free copies of America, You Sexy Bitch to review. My name AND blog is listed. I worked myself into a tizzy and had to calm down before the end of my lunch hour after seeing the announcement. I still had a solid four hours of work left, after all. I am aware that my reaction to being selected to be a member of a blogger book club may reflect the dad's response to receiving the "Leg Lamp," in A Christmas Story. It's not a lamp, it's a major award!

You've been warned that I will write again about this book. A real-live review! Don't worry, however. I have a spastic-enough attention span that I will continue to write about whatever it is that pops in my head, too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

worth a thousand words

Recently, after my creation and attempted upkeep of a more serious blog, I thought "maybe I should make my blog icon a little more serious to reflect the seriousness I am trying to convey." The "About Me" features a oldie-but-goodie image of me goofing off at the Atlanta Aquarium. I like it, but it may detract from the more intellectual nature that I am trying to present to the digital world. 

So I started reviewing any and all recent photos of myself with the intent of replacing it. Here is what I came up with:
You can't enjoy the fullness of Graceland
without a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.
You just can't.

That's why we are friends.

My first piloting experience.

Buddy Holly would approve.

A pirate's life for me.

I don't eat real shellfish.

Classy lady.
It looks like I need to start being serious before I decide to depict serious.

Friday, June 15, 2012

here comes the rain again

Louisiana summer rain proves a blessing and a curse. 

The humidity insists that time moves slower here. Or maybe the humidity's oppression slows everybody down. Storms rumble their announcement long before the arrival of rain, thundering from a distance while the sun beats down. Even as the dark clouds devour the blue sky, the temperature stays the same. Heavy drops punctuate the heat, repeating small splashes of cool relief until clothing becomes soaked through. 


These showers provide a reprieve from summer's brutality. But only momentarily. The lion of a storm roars past and leaves barely a trace of its ferocity, not five minutes old. The remaining fair gray sky wrings out a few leftover sprinkles. 

I anticipate the sun's return with dread. And cling to the memory of each cool plop of rain, though brief in their exhibition.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Years-worth of my internal ramblings
My mom set a good example and journaled when I was a kid, encouraging me to keep a journal. I have been keeping a journal for about as long as I can remember. When in high school, I threw away all my middle school journals (I thought they sounded stupid then- I'd probably just laugh at them now). Yesterday I found my journal from the year I went to Africa for the summer (ten years ago!). I have gone through different journal-type phases, sometimes larger sizes with room to sketch, sometimes smaller sizes for the convenience of traveling. And there have been dryspells, times where I did not write at all (months at a time, even).

I journal for myself, mostly. It is a way for me to sort out thoughts and express frustrations. I think the historian in me also feels the need to document my life (but really, all I am doing is documenting my crazy). Future researchers will probably end up more confused about my life after reading my journals. They should just stick to reading the eventual Wikipedia entry about me.

Blogging serves as another form of journaling (in which I attempt to hide the crazy for public viewing's sake). I still document my life, but I do it to share. When I write, I know very specifically of five people who will read this, all related to me (by blood or marriage). Maybe more read, I don't know; I know I am google-able. Sometimes I write with a point, sometimes I write just to post, and sometimes I just ramble.

Like today.

But sometimes when I externally ramble, all I am doing is sorting out my internal thoughts and ideas. I journaled extensively in my private journal this morning. It may not even make sense to anybody who may read it, but it helped me. And maybe in ten years, I will look back and wistfully think "wow, look how where I was contrasts where I am today." Or maybe I will look back and think "what in tarnation was going on with me?!" The latter. I am going to bet it will be the latter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

defining success

success, n. (suhk-ses): the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

How do we measure success? What is it? Merriam-Webster defines success as a "favorable or desirable outcome."In order to have success do you have to have a goal first? These definitions indicate levels of effort or tries, but in order to have success do efforts need to have a projected outcome first? If the "prosperous termination of attempts" is different than expected, do we still consider it success?

I fit in a run this morning during my nothing-officially-scheduled-therefore-not-so-busy-day-off. I am attempting a 38 day run streak, courtesy of a challenge put forth by Runner's World. It is only a mile a day (minimum), but the streak is every day from Memorial Day to Independence Day. Yesterday, I did not run (and I did not run the day I drove back from Tennessee). But I have run every other day so far! And while I am no longer officially meeting the goal of consecutive days of running, I know I had two choices after breaking the streak: keep trying or quit. I am still aiming to complete the streak between now and July 4th. I am going to call not quitting "success" even though my goal shifted during my efforts.

Last week, I gave a ranger program at the public library in Lafayette. From past experiences of giving programs at libraries, I told my co-workers "I will be happy if three show up." Public program attendance, in general, can be hit or miss. Ten showed up!
I show a short clip from the "America's Best Idea" series by Ken Burns
when I give my talk on the National Park Service.
Never mind that six of the ten were there to earn some credit for an assignment for a college course they were enrolled in and that those six were happy that I would send them verification of their attendance so they wouldn't have to write an essay on the program. The next day, one of those six attendees visited the Acadian Cultural Center "to check out her backyard national park!" Woop! Having ten percent of my audience make the effort to visit the park is how I define "success."

I am still working on defining success in my own life. I had spent so long in school, a time where grades and edits and assessments were how I defined success, that I have neglected to develop my own gauge for success.

Now to complete the rest of my today's to-do list: listen to the rain, sip my coffee, read a little, write a little, remember that using my day off to rest is its own form of success.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

put your hands up

It isn't easy being a single lady in the 21st century. I was chatting with another single lady (who lives practically in the middle-of-nowhere-south-Georgia) about the difficulty of getting a date. We laugh about it. We exchange stories of awkward encounters and dream dates. We pretend it doesn't really bother us and we are doing exactly what we want. But we both know that the freedom we enjoy in our singlehood comes at the cost of, well, being single.

I get a lot of advice about my status, some intentional, some unintentional. 98 percent of this advice is what I need to do to not be single any more. The other 2 percent usually sounds like, "just hang in there and be patient." What if I am not doing it right? What if I am just not following the advice and THAT is why I am single? I believe I shall review all the pieces of advice I have received the past few years in an attempt to reveal what it is I may be doing wrong:

1. "You are too picky."
I am going to call this "high standards." I know what I want and I know what I certainly do not want. Simple as that.

2. "You don't put yourself 'out there' enough."
Out where, exactly?

3. "You have grandma-like hobbies."
Admittedly, I like to crochet, garden, run, paint, watch movies, read books, write, and bake. These are not team-sport-type hobbies in which I can meet new people. So maybe my shut-in-ness decreases my chances of meeting new people (while simultaneously allowing myself to fall in love with characters created by Jane Austen and the like).

4. "Your fung shui is not correct."
Evidently, the fact that I have created a functional sleeping space for me and only me means I am not allowing the correct energies to flow through my life.

5. "You are not feminine enough."
It could be the ranger boots, love of military history, penchant for belching, or anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better attitude.

6. "You are too feminine."
It could be my hatred of all-things-sports, my love of dolling-up, and infatuation with anything pink, lacy, pearls, polka dots, or Barbie.

7. "You don't give off the 'I'm single and am looking vibes.'"
I don't really know how to fix this. Maybe carry a sign? Get a tattoo on my forehead?

8. "You should try online dating."
Yeah, there is no way I can legitimately describe myself on a dating site without sounding crazy. Let the suckers at least meet me first before they make their assessment.

9. "You don't go to the right places."
A friend and I went to Target last week and he made the comment that Target was clearly the place for him to meet the sweet, attractive, single ladies. I don't know what Target's equivalent is for meeting single guys.

10. "You are too much, tone it down a little."
If you know me, you might agree with the first part of this statement. At the same time, if you know me, you understand that this won't change.

So there is my basic list of advice pieces and my attempt at counter arguments. I will continue to tell myself that it isn't that I am doing something wrong but that it is that my Mr. Right (sooooo cliche!) hasn't come along. And I will continue to sing to myself, believing in my own fairy tale. But I am also one to believe that the Loch Ness monster is real and that there is still an undiscovered island waiting for me to be the first to explore it, so who knows?

A Wanted Woman

I'd like to think I am a rogue, living on the edge of life, laughing in the face of danger. I dream of being a pirate, after all! In all reality, I am an upstanding, rule-abiding, regulation-quoting citizen who polishes her boots daily (according to NPS Reference Manual #47: Uniforms). So when I receive a notification from the State of Louisiana regarding my neglect to pay a speeding ticket, I melt. Especially when the notification threatens me with 30 days to pay the ticket, plus a $100 fee, or else I will lose driving privileges.

I sped my way through Evangeline Parish and got caught in Pine Prairie back in February. I will stand by my story that I honestly did not realize I was going 54 mph in a 40 mph zone (I thought it was still 55 mph). In fact, I was impressed with myself that I was actually going one mile less than what I thought was the posted limit. I had been reading a series of detective stories that painted an ill picture of law enforcement personnel in south Louisiana. This series is both dated and fictional, but it was enough to keep me cautious on the backroads of south Louisiana. Minor terror flooded me as I saw the flashing blue lights signal me to pull over. The officer was friendly and wrote me the ticket and I thanked him as I drove away.

Over the following weeks and months, I essentially forgot about this ticket and my obligation to pay it. Oh, it crossed my mind once or twice that I received a ticket and somehow misplaced it and I told myself, "don't forget to look up that parish's court's number so I can call them about a replacement ticket." Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Lesson learned.

After I told myself to keep it together (after falling apart over receiving this notice yesterday), I called the number listed to ask how I go about paying the ticket. When the women told me the ticket fee I commented that the amount was more than I remembered. "Oh, honey," she said, "you have warrants out. This pays for those, too." I thanked her politely, ended the call, and fell apart again. I am a wanted woman! And not even for something cool! I am eligible to spend time in the slammer! And I am only wanted for my carelessness and neglect!

Thanks to help from my parental units, I can pay this great state of Louisiana and remove myself from the wanted list. Maybe next time I do some law-breaking it will be for something noteworthy, like plundering a ship or skewering another pirate.

*If you see the time stamp on this, you will take note that it is during a working day. Rule-abiding me would like to express that I wrote this during my lunchbreak from my own personal mobile device. No government time was harmed in the creation of this blog post.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

post-graduate school pizza

I know, I know. It has been 10 freakin' months since I graduated. It's about time I got over that whole "recent graduate" thing, right? Eh, maybe. I am still trying, however, to figure out me. What do I like to do? What am I here for? What day is it? I spent last week in Tennessee, catching up with family and friends (the only sad part of the trip was leaving). One other "recent graduate" mentioned how he can't seem to get anything done in a timely manner anymore. Me, neither! I used to have such precious free time that I rigorously timed all of my "to-do" lists, ensuring I got the most "bang" for my buck (or in this case, for my minute). Now, I feel like I accomplish nothing. And I sit on that "I can do it tomorrow" reason more often than not.

I am working on it.

I did go above and beyond my frozen pizza self last night and created some homemade wonderment. It started with my garden (or what is left of my garden in this Louisiana heat!). I had an abundance of tomatoes and basil.
What's a girl to do with all that? Attempt a Bohemian dinner, complete with dough-made-from-scratch, feta cheese, kalamata olives, roasted garlic, and (of course) tomatoes and basil! I will admit that my kitchen skills are rusty. Once upon a time, I envisioned myself as one June Cleaver, cooking and baking perfection with the wrinkle of my nose (wait... that's the wrong mid-twentieth century TV housewife). Then I went to graduate school and had no time (hence frozen pizza and a stouter waistline). So last night was an experiment. This was one of the many things I told myself I would be allowed to do upon graduation.

Kneading dough used to be fun and now it is just a puzzle. Is it kneaded enough? What is this "smooth and elastic?" What makes yeast smell funny? I followed the directions rather than using that little June Cleaver inside voice that was yelling at me. "Too much! You are kneading it too much!" I let it set, then rolled it out, like instructed.
I just wanted to eat the pizza then, it looked so good (and because making the dough took so long, I was particularly hungry). I baked the pizza, like instructed.
When it came out of the oven, I was beyond impressed with myself (ask my parents- this is not an uncommon occurrence).
It looks amazing, right? Too bad I didn't listen to that June Cleaver voice; the dough was tough, indicating how I worked the dough too much. But the fact that I made a fancypants pizza all by myself with stuff I grew all by myself overcame the over-kneaded dough as I sat myself down to a delicious dinner and took one small step closer in the direction of figuring out my post-graduate self.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

celestial events

Somewhere in one of the many boxes currently en route from Germany to Tennessee (my parents' household goods), there is a faded purple piece of construction paper with two cut out circles on it. One circle is yellow, the other is black. The black circle is glued over the yellow circle, allowing just a sliver of a yellow crescent to peak from behind.

That is the only tangible piece left from my viewing of the solar eclipse in Hawai'i at the ripe ol' age of five years old. I did not realize how fortunate I was to have had the chance to view such a celestial marvel then. I remember making a box viewer to avoid looking at the sun. I was told repeatedly not to look directly at the sun (I remember reporters making that announcement prior to the viewing). Have you ever told a five year old not to do something? She will. Especially if her name is Elizabeth. Indeed, I peaked at the sun as the moon passed in front of it. The sky turned a purply-dark color. Whenever I read post-apocalyptic novels with descriptions of atomic fallout skies, I think of that solar eclipse sky.

I found out about the astronomy department far too late in my undergraduate school to change degrees, but the skies have always been fascinating to me. If I weren't a historian, I'd be an astronomer. Maybe that comes from being a young astronaut. Maybe it is the concept of mystery resting in worlds that may exist beyond. But maybe it was the craft somebody sat down with 5-year-old me to created, explaining the basic ideas of our solar system.

I am unable to view today's celestial event. I am living in a place where I could only theoretically see 50% of the Venus Transit this evening (if we had no cloud cover, so in reality I am seeing 0% of this event today). Regardless, it is interesting to think about whole worlds moving and rotating and soaring through space and wonder. I like to wonder.