30 December, 2010

Pursuit #57: I'm not talented

But Christina Perri is:)

I get chills listening to her. The good kind. There are a few wishes I have in this world.
1. To be a ballerina.
2. To be a breakdancer.
and 3. To sing like this:

15 December, 2010

Pursuit #56: My new look

Since Mother Nature is failing miserably at her job and needs to be fired, I have acquired a new look (out of necessity really). We need a more hospitable planet!!!

brrr...all this and long johns for a measly dog walk.

02 December, 2010

Pursuit #55: A smorgasbord

I haven't had anything really blogworthy happen recently. Here's a sampling platter to satiate your palate however.

Recent Lessons Learned (I like lists):

1. Sometimes you may wake up to your alarm contemplating how Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor and his on-screen wife were a really good match on Home Improvement. Take it from me, you just can't refute your subconscious on this one.

2. According to my Developmental Psychology teacher, we are finally back on track to living several hundred years, as Moses and Methuselah* of Biblical times did. Now the maximum age of a person is like 122 years old. Only 847 more years to go! She also tells us that there is no biological reason for aging...this is why she doesn't teach biology.

*Methuselah reportedly lived to be 969 years old, while Moses reportedly lived to be 120.

3. Sometimes people will hire someone to walk their dog during the middle of the day, even when they are home. We don't know why.

4. Sometimes dogs pee on each other. We also don't know why.

5. Always ask how much the sushi lunch buffet is BEFORE you fill up your to-go box. But the tempura sushi sure was tasty!

09 November, 2010

Pursuit #54: Pursuit of Authenticity (?!?)

I read another article recently in Natural Health about how pursuing happiness basically backfires and makes us less happy. Sad face, :( womp womp.  

So instead of pursuing happiness (which according to the article only sets us up for disappointment because our goals are too high and continually get higher as we progress and we're not able to achieve all the things we set out to do to make us happy), what should we pursue? 

...Authenticity!! Woo hooo!!!! Let's all race each other to be more authentic than our neighbors!!! But wait. What does being "authentic" even mean? Well, Natural Health says essentially it means living your life as a normal (read: authentic) human being, letting yourself succumb to sadness and disappointment once in awhile as the feelings come to you. The old adage "taking the good with the bad" would apply here.

Well, ok. I can be authentic. In fact, I think I'm always authentic. Sometimes I'm happy. Sometimes I'm a little sad. Instead of touting pursuing "authenticity" they should really just say, "Let's just keep our expectations low. You know, then that way we'll never be disappointed! Huzzah!!"

01 November, 2010

Pursuit #53: Vegetarianism Through the Eyes of My Aunt

"Here's some rice. Don't worry, it's just chicken flavored."

"Try this veggie soup. I doctored it with some beef bouillon to make it taste better."

"I made these chicken enchiladas for dinner. You can just pick out the chicken, there's not that much in there."

28 October, 2010

Pursuit #52: Deep thoughts, by Me

Lately I have been pondering this questions a lot:  What Should I Do With My Life? It's an age-old question that many of us ask ourselves periodically (or perhaps all the time? Ha). In April, after a couple years of quarter-life crisis-ing, I finally decided to quit my job and change my career path. After talking to friends and an analysis of what I want out of a job and my personal qualities and job shadowing, I decided on Occupational Therapy. Now 6 months later, and knee deep in prerequisite classes that are required for admission to an OT program and grad school applications, I seem to be asking myself that same question. AGAIN. Or rather, is this really what I want to do with my life?

Maybe I'm just one of those directionless people. A career nomad. Or maybe I still haven't figured out "who I really am" yet and don't know myself well enough to choose something. Or maybe I'm holding back from what I really want to do out of fear, and have only chosen career paths based on false pretenses. I think I'm a pretty intelligent person. So why is answering this question so difficult for me?

I stumbled upon this book which has assured me that I'm not alone in these thoughts. Author Po Bronson surveyed 900 people over 2 years about this omnipresent question in order to write this book. It has also reassured me that for these people in the book "It wasn’t just a matter of finding the right puzzle piece to match their skills; they had to grow as a person first." 

The past 6 months have definitely been a growing experience for me. They have made me realize a few things:

1. Sometimes the things we think we want, aren't really what we want. 

2. The way to figure out what we want should not be a heavily analytical process. The answers (as hokie as it sounds) are in our hearts, not our minds.

3. Our true callings are rarely "epiphanies." And they're usually rather unclear. 

4. Making mistakes is part of the process, as it is necessary for learning. We learn from the failures.

I don't have it figured out yet; but I decided for now that that's perfectly acceptable. I'll continue to meander down my windy path and hopefully I'll find some good things along the way...

Pursuit #51: Isn't it ironic?

A couple weeks ago, I was doing some reading in the magazine Psychology Today and I was a bit surprised at what I found. Consequently, yes, Alanis, it is ironic that according to psychological researchers people who seek happiness are less likely to actually achieve their goal of being happier. Well, shoot. There goes my "Happiness Project." Poof! Just like that.

But you know what? If there's anything I've learned from my 3 recent psychology classes, it's this: psychology is a science (as is the case with all branches of science) that is full of lots of theories (read: not necessarily true), correlations with less causation, and lots of generalization with exceptions. That doesn't mean there is no truth to the study they did. But it also doesn't mean that there is...See? Now I'm talking like a real psychologist:)

So I say, go on, seek happiness. I mean what's the alternative, really? Seeking unhappiness? That's just silly. It's all about the approach. Trying to be happy is not like trying to learn how to master something. It's simply about surrounding yourself and filling your life with the things that make you happy: friends, family, riding your bike, watching TV, collecting stamps, metal detecting on the beach, chasing tornadoes, making your own cheese...ya know, whatever floats yer boat.

14 October, 2010

Pursuit #50: Chi-Town

I love Chicago. Like, I want to marry it. It's got delicious burgers (try the kobe burger - probably my favorite burger ever), hot dogs, tea cafes with visible brewing rooms in the back and tea-infused eats, aggressive plans for making the city greener, intriguing architecture, good shopping (Wicker Park and West Town etc), rivers and lakes, a beach, blues/jazz clubs. It's like NYC, but at least 11 times less filthy (this is evidence-based research since every time I am in NYC I get dirty fingernails and black boogers by the end of the day...but not in Chicago!) and 7 times less crowded. I used to love NYC, and I still hold it dear, but then...I found Chicago and it is my latest love affair. I was also excited thinking there were less hipsters in Chicago, but then I went to Logan Square and that's where they all live apparently.  Anyway. Chicago or bust. 

Chicago at night:)

The theatre

View from our hotel room of Marina City, House of Blues & the corncob buildings

Fall colors by the Art Institute

Just a giant eyeball, no big deal

10.10.10 and the runners are off!

It actually got up to 84 degrees on marathon day. HOT!

Remember this scene from Married With Children?! "Love and marriage, love and marriage..."

Bridge city

Bike racks at the subway stations, what a novel idea (DC hint hint)

The brewing room at Argo Tea

Cool architecture everywhere

The cloud

Not a UFO, it's an ampitheater

A fountain face

12 October, 2010

Pursuit #49: Macaroon craze

I'm part of a macaroon craze, that consists of...me. (Well, I have 2 friends who also enjoy these treats, though they haven't formally inducted themselves into my craze). I'm spreading the word: these are tasty treats. I bought one of each flavor at Alliance Bakery in Chicago, for a total of 8. Newsflash: 8 isn't enough to satisfy my craze. They were all incredibly delicious. Pistachio, Chai, Rose, Blueberry, Raspberry, Orange, and I think Peanut Butter and some other delicious but unknown flavor...did your head just explode?

PS If you need a quick fix Trader Joe's carries some frozen versions which aren't bad.

One happy little macaroon family

Pursuit #48: Chair in the sky

Today I flew through the air. Now, I didn't just fly, but I flew at speeds of 600 mph. Impressed? There's more. I flew all the way from Chicago to Dulles, VA. That's a distance of 577 miles. AND all the while, I was just sitting in a chair snacking on pretzels (nom nom nom), sipping soda and reading a magazine.  AMAZING RIGHT?!?! 

Flying on planes is, well,  INCREDIBLE. And wholly under-appreciated. The comedian Louis C.K. made some very excellent and amusing points in his stand-up when I saw him a couple years ago live. Every time I fly now I think about this spiel:

27 September, 2010

Pursuit #47: O.M.G. the G.R.E.

Am I ready you ask? Hmm, interesting question. Well, friend, I would say, "That's debatable." Let's examine further.

Writing Section (Issue Essay and Argument Essay)
Conclusion: Sure.
Evidence: I have 20 odd years of practice in school writing about "issues" and "arguments" (aka B.S.)
Assumptions: I can only hope I know enough about one of the broad topics they give me like environment or education systems to make a decent sounding argument for or against it.

Quantitative Section
Conclusion: There's a semblance of hope.
Evidence: My scores have generally improved from my diagnostic exam throughout my practice exams.
Assumptions: Math is like riding a bike...(?) I stopped riding this bike about 10 years ago. It's rusty. I'm rusty. I won't be popping any wheelies or riding without hands on the handlebars on the bike anymore, but at least I don't need the training wheels!

Verbal Section
Conclusion: Unclear. 
Evidence: My Diagnostic Exam score was higher than my 3 subsequent practice exams. (WTF prep class?!) And to polish that off, my instructor informed us that our actual Verbal scores will be approximately 70 points lower than what our practice scores are predicting. Ouch.
Assumptions: There is a God and He wants me to get into grad school.

1 Someday I will (hopefully) be glad "September Ashley" pulled through and took a (time-sucking, life-draining) month-long prep class to (allegedly) aid my cause in getting into grad school. But until that day, I would just like my life back.

2 I'm envisioning an Office Space moment involving a bat, shredder or blow-torch and my prep books when I'm finally done with this (forsaken) test.

24 September, 2010

Pursuit #46: Dream House

Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England is my dream house. The house is full of eclectic, sometimes bizarre art, and the some odd thousand acres of land it dwells upon are spectacular. Really. Flower gardens, rock gardens, hedge maze, lakes, a cave, an Asian-inspired gazebo, funky statues and sculptures, immense fountains, a farm yard, chickens...that doesn't even cover it. The hills are verdant green, littered with sheep. The photos just don't even do it justice, but I'll try.

The entrance

The foyer. Chatsworth House welcomes you!

Disembodied feet...

Disembodied hands...

Dismembered bodies, yet the hands and feet don't match up...

I like the way these plates are stacked in columns on the wall.

Cool fabric on this settee


A stroller designed with snake handles, naturally.

Hand-painted wallpaper. I covet.

Hard to see, but this is a painting of a violin painted on a door. The painting is amazingly detailed and looks like a 3-dimensional violin hanging on the door.


Reminds me of Greek or Roman ruins

Pastoral beauty

Sets of these statues were here at the bottom of this extremely long cascading waterfall that ran down a big hill, as well as at the top.

Plump chickens...mmm...

Asian-inspired gazebo overlooking this idyllic pond. Below this was a cave-like alcove.

This statue is watching you. Makes me think of Alice & Wonderland.

Fountains were turned off at this point, but the pond extends so far you can't even tell where it ends!

A more modern addition

22 September, 2010

Pursuit #45: Camera Love

I finally got my new camera. (Well, replacement camera from the one I broke falling off the unmoving carousel in York...yeah). Looking through my photos from England/Scotland makes me want to go back really badly. What an amazing trip! Don't believe me? See for yourself:

The Swans of Salisbury

This is where we ate breakfast at our Bed & Breakfast in Bath

The B&B patio

Afternoon Tea at The Pump Room in Bath

Roman Baths  

Bath flowers

Molly, look! MAGNUM!!! Oh, how I missed you!

Actual road sign in Stratford-Upon-Avon 

Oxford is a sepia kind of town.

Pretty Blenheim Palace

C Overload: Cute Cottages of Chipping Camden in The Cotswolds

Warwick Castle - reminds me of the castle I had to build in 5th grade

Amazing Breadsall Priory in Derbyshire. We stayed here:)

The "Caution: Lambs" signs weren't kidding around.

View of Chatsworth House from part of the (immense and spectacular) grounds. I want to live here.

We stumbled upon the York Stone Carving Festival, a treat to witness carvers at work. This guy is so artsy.

Edinburgh is hilly. The best part is the underground tour that walks you through the streets of centuries ago that are now buried beneath the city.

One should be behind bars for wearing this much plaid. Oh, Scotland!

These are some mere highlights. So many more amazing pictures, in fact I'm going to do an entire post with just pictures from Chatsworth House, because it was just that amazing. Le sigh.