Wednesday, August 29, 2012

this day will never happen again

I apologize for not writing at all this week. I have been non-stop.

And. It. Has. Been. Awesome.

I have bounced around the state of Tennessee, spending time in Rutherford, Chester, Davidson, and Stewart Counties (traveling through a few others). I have had the opportunity to visit family and friends and family of friends (and even some friends of family!). Between picnicking, overseeing tree-felling and chainsawing activities, trivia-ing, game of Life-playing, and moon pie-eating, I don't know where I had the most fun. 

My original plans included me traveling back to the Pelican State today and start back to work tomorrow. Then Isaac showed up. Hurricanes stink. This is the second time I have worked at a park in which a natural disaster totally disrupted (and shut down) operations. I feel odd about the whole thing. I don't like the not-knowing (who does?). I don't like the waiting. I don't like thinking that people could be hurt or killed by this storm. I feel guilty that I can't be helping from two states away (I still receive the "we need your help" emails from the American Red Cross). But I am glad I have a reason to spend a few more precious hours with my family. I got to go for an easy run with my sister today (and discovered that my foot is no longer in pain when I run, woop!). I got to spend an extra evening with my parents and their crazy dog. I will have an opportunity to hang out with my favoritest baby in the whole world tomorrow. I get to spend a whole extra day in my favorite state! 

I am trying to treasure these extra moments without worrying about what the storm has done or what it will do or how it will impact my upcoming work weeks (tentatively, work months if it is anything like that tornado). I am trying to hold onto the idea that this day will never happen again and I should live in the present. I do what I can. I think I am better than I was but I am certainly not where I want to be.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just a Little Excited

My days have been going something like this:

Alarm goes off. Wake up. [Hey! Next week I'll be waking up in Tennessee!]

Brew coffee and inevitably spill while pouring a cup. [Hey! Dad ALWAYS spills, too! I'll see Dad in Tennessee next week!]

Get ready for work. Polish boots. [Hey! Former supervisor in Tennessee would be proud that I still keep these polished!]

Drive to work. Listen to a mix of the Pistol Annies, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Jason Aldean and other assorted country music artists on the way. [Hey! Nashville, Tennessee is a great town! I am excited to see it next week!]

Arrive to work. Prioritize day's "To-Do" list. See "Tennessee" sprawled across desk calendar. [Hey! I will be in Tennessee next week!]

Go about day. [Hey! Tennessee!]

Drive home. Shake my fist at abundance of bad drivers. [Hey! Tennessee!]

Check mail. [Hey! Tennessee!]

Get home and peel off uniform. [Hey! Tennessee!]

Go for run.* [Hey! Tennessee!]

Make dinner. Eat. Clean up. [Hey! Tennessee!]

Kill time before bed. [Hey! Tennessee!]

Fall asleep and hey, dream of Tennessee.

I may just be a little excited that I am leaving for the Volunteer State tomorrow. Well, like at midnight on Tuesday, but that is kind of like tomorrow. I just have to get through tomorrow, first. [Hey! Tennessee!]

*Sad note: I have hurt my foot and am currently on my 9th day in a row without completing this step. It is killing me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I don't really have a formula of how I write, but I certainly have consistent behaviors that I model in preparation to write (and while I am writing).

First, I have notes for ideas everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I don't suppose that is a very systematic method of gathering thoughts, but it is what I do. The backs of envelopes, the margins of "to-do" lists, dry erase boards, and Post-It Notes galore possess the ink scrawlings of my jumbled ideas. Sometimes I want to remember an idea or a quote. Sometimes I want to sort out a thought. But I am writing all the time. I don't read through books anymore, either. I usually have a notebook of some sort handy to record thoughts prompted by reading. It is constant. I can't seem to turn off my brain, even if I try.

When I am about to actually sit down and write, I have to get my blood pumping, first. I might play a song and dance a little. I might do some sit-ups and attempt pushups. Often, I will sit myself down after a run while my head is still clear to flush out my ideas. I am not sure why I need to spike my heart rate, but it works for me.

I also have to play my "studyin'" playlist that starts with Enya's Storms in Africa. I understand the complete cliche of listening to Enya when writing, but it is how I do. [Note: the video is cheesy as all get-out. Today is the first time I have ever seen this bizarre mess.] The playlist includes songs from The Shins, The Postal Service, Feist, Silverspun Pickups, and other similar alternative bands. I suppose there is a cliche in listening to alternative bands while writing, too. Next, I will be wanting to write out my stories on a typewriter while chain smoking. It could happen.

Then I just have to write. Sometimes it is something I am content with. Sometimes it needs many revisions. Sometimes I feel comfortable posting what I write the day I wrote it, other times I may revisit the piece several times over. I think I enjoy blogging because I know it does not have to be perfect when I publish it. Yes, it is published to the vast interwebs, but it doesn't seem as permanent as maybe a book (and I know I am not about to receive a grade, like for school papers). The lack of pressure makes it easier to write. I am not trying to impress anybody so I can just write.

There are days when I can take all the proper steps and do like I usually do, only to find the words get stuck. On those days, I just can't seem to type out anything. Maybe I don't feel like I have anything to say. Maybe I feel like I have too much to say. Maybe I feel that what I want to say will come across negatively (and my little Jiminy Cricket reminds me if I don't have anything nice to say, it should not be posted to the world via the internet). And sometimes, I just don't want to. But those days, I still try. I see this as a minor way to maintain a skill set that I worked very hard to develop while in school and will continue to improve over my lifetime. This serves as a way to at least maintain that skill set (even if only at status quo... I sense if I stop writing, I will lose the skill set, too). I also know this is one way I can discipline myself; without goals (complete with tasks and deadlines), I can see myself very quickly perishing without a vision. And I don't want that.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Playing Tourist

I spent yesterday playing tourist in New Orleans. Usually when I go to the city now, it is either for work or to visit with friends Mid-City, so I rarely see the touristy stuff anymore. I forget how much fun it can be to play tourist. 

On Saturday night, we went out to see some of the Cajun country (hence the cowboy boots- I wanted to two-step). Then Sunday morning we rolled out of Acadiana and into the French Quarter. My friend pointed out "New Orleans is like the Disneyland for adults." She's right. No rides, but plenty of characters, food, and things to see. 

Yep. I even found my flag. It matches the tattoo I also got on this trip.*

*Just kidding, Dad!

Friday, August 10, 2012

brief update

After a series of phone calls and investigations, I have received word that my missing friend is alive (even if out of touch). As with about 95 percent of the stuff I post on here, there is more to the story. But like everything else, I will leave it at that and express my relief knowing she is alive.

Tomorrow I have a friend visiting from out of town and we are hitting the Cajun dance scene (to include a barn dance) then headed out early Sunday morning to play "tourist" in the Big Easy. I'll be back on Monday morning, however, servin' 'Merica.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

a quiet summer morning

This evening I am giving a ranger talk at the library so I get to go into work a few hours later than normal. I had intentions of using my two extra hours this morning to go for a run or to knock out a "to-do" item, like wash my car or go drop off my recycling. But now that I am up, I just want to enjoy the morning peacefully. I have noticed how the sun hides its shine until just a little later in the day, tucking itself in a little earlier, too. That means 1) fall is coming, 2) temperatures should drop, soon, 3) fall is coming. It also means summer will be drawing to its own end, as well. As much as I love summer, I adore the fall.

This time last year, I was enjoying my summer days (my first days filled with free time in many years). I was also fretting about where I would work and what park would hire me. I definitely let summer slip away. I suppose I need to enjoy this summer, too.

So I am going to take my coffee in my favorite purple mug, sit on my front porch, embrace the quiet morning, and see how long I can last before the mosquitoes drive me back inside. Then I am going to sit inside and embrace this quiet morning before my week officially starts at work.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ups and Downs

I wonder why I don’t feel like I have heard as much on the shootings in Wisconsin that I heard after the shootings in Colorado. Is it because there were technically less victims? Is it because this one seemed less “senseless” because it wasn’t as random, being a specific hate crime? Is it all the other news-worthy excitement happening (between the Olympics and NASA landing its Rover on Mars, we’ve seen a fair amount of headlines generated)?

I am fighting to keep my chin up this week. It is necessary that I stay abreast of local and national news, but that doesn’t always inspire hope. The interplanetary news has been exciting, but I still think about that shooting. Why do we excuse a hate crime but find a crazy person with lethal weapons a mind-blowing scenario? Neither instance is acceptable, but our collective attention span has seemingly moved on. My heart goes out to the family members of those killed at Oak Creek.

I honestly have lots of good things going for me, many reasons to be thankful and keeping my face toward the sun. Projects at work move forward (albeit, slow… I still appreciate the forward motion). I keep running and that makes me feel good (even if it is just the endorphins making me feel that way). My apartment is STILL clean (shocker). Have you noticed the AWESOMENESS that is my new background on this blog? I get giddy looking at it. The one and only JLC over at Mild-Mannered designed the background for me. I love love love it. This weekend, I have a friend visiting me and we are going to play “tourists” in New Orleans on Sunday. AND [cue drumroll] I get to go to Tennessee in two weeks.


Home! That is probably the best part of my life right now. I generate personal positive vibes when I think of that trip, smiling just thinking of the family, friends, and places I’ll get to see that week. I have so much going for me right now! 

But then I have other things on my personal proverbial plate, too. The biggest one weighing me down is a missing friend. Yes, missing. I don’t know what happened to her. Her family doesn’t know what happened to her. The few mutual friends we have don’t know what happened to her. So my heart hangs heavy. I hadn’t seen her in over four years, but we kept in touch through text messages and emails. She had expressed being in a bad place (emotionally and literally) and then stopped communicating entirely. After hearing from her mom, I feel devastated. I can’t seem to focus on anything without thinking about her. What if something horrible has happened to her? What if that missing person report gets misfiled, misplaced, or labeled wrong? I knew she was having a rough time in life these past few months (well, last year or so), but now this? There is nothing I can really do but wait. Even with all my sunshine, there are still clouds. And these clouds lack silver linings.

You’ll have to excuse me if I operate on auto-pilot for the next few days (or weeks) (or months). This part of life's roller coaster hasn't been very fun at all.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Night Philosophizing

I have been wondering about the idea of courage. My mettle had been challenged recently. Courage comes from the same word for "heart" in French (coeur). To have courage is to have heart. Well, I have that (I think). So maybe something else is in the way? What could that be? Well, I suppose the opposite of courage.

What is the opposite of courage? My first response: fear. So I started thinking about the idea of fear. And I don't mean it in a "ahh, monsters!" kind of way. I am thinking fear as mental limits that I have created as a safety net. I let this fear define my boundaries. Fear of the unknown. Fear of potential. Fear of success. Fear of failure. If I limit myself, then I lessen the chance for heartache. "See! Look at me! I didn't have to work so hard and now I have reached my goal!" I let the limits keep me from stretching myself. I sit comfortably in my confined approach, not wanting to see how much further I can go.

But does fear play a role in courage? Isn't courage an active conquering of fear? Doesn't courage stare fear down and take command over fear? So if my own self-imposed boundaries are supported by my fears, it will be my courage that will break them down. I use my awareness of my fears to feed my courage. It will be my courage that allows for dreams to have life (rather than letting fear squelch them). It will be my courage that overcomes the fears disguised as emotional safety.

This is vague on purpose, in part because it can apply to many aspects of my life.

But I know there is something more there for me. I have to have the courage to chase after it.

I am on my mettle.

Changed my Mind

The official unveiling will be either tomorrow or Monday. Or even tentatively Tuesday. I find myself fairly regularly not having enough time after work to fit in everything I want to accomplish.

On a side note, I ran an eight and a half minute mile this evening. I have only ever done that one other time in my whole life.

Curtsy, curtsy.

Wait for it

I know I said I was done changing my blog's appearance, but recent developments have caused me to change my mind. The official unveiling will be this evening. Wait for it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Filming at Barataria

I went to the Barataria Preserve today to do some filmwork for a short video about exotic, invasive plants. Specifically, I am working with two interns to develop a video that will create public awareness about these problems, let people know what the park is doing about them, and ultimately remind folks how they can help contribute to solutions. The interns and accompanying ranger were helpful. I especially love seeing people passionate at their work. My eyes glazed over more than once whenever they'd drop their science-y lingo, but overall, we communicated. They took the time to explain what probably felt like basic science to them (sound familiar, Friend in the OK State?). I think I got enough material to make some quality products (we have an idea to do more than one video).

I also interviewed a local gentleman, somewhere around 75 years old. He told us of the many changes in the landscape (including changes related to these exotic plants clogging the bayous). I enjoyed listening to his stories.

Today is on my list of "good days."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Life as a Musical

So, I have this thing I have to share about myself: I live in a musical. I mean, I live in reality (just like everybody else), but I constantly have to fight the urge to spontaneously break into song and dance. Throughout the day, I can see the scene, where everybody's marks are, and the best steps for choreography. I can also hear where songs are going to best fit in.

My days usually go something like this:

I wake up and hear this (yes, Hugh Jackman sings to me):

As I clean up and shower, I wash my hair with this tune (yay, sister):

My route to work crosses a railroad track and traffic often backs up because of trains. I hear that whistle down that line and figure it's just Engine Number 49 (the only one that sounds that way, on the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe):

My arrival to work reminds me how I still consider myself the New Girl In Town:

That does not bother me, for I have confidence in sunshine (and rain):

Giving boat tours even becomes a production, particularly when I have to remind visitors of safety rules (please sit down, you are rockin' the boat):

At the end of the day, as one of our maintenance workers calls out "goodbye, ladies!" I start pickin' and talkin' a little (talk a lot, pick a little more):

Leaving work, all I can think about is how I have places to go and people to meet:

No matter how my day goes, I remember tomorrow is a Brand New Day:

Don't even get me started on what my days off sound like!