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.

19 September, 2010

Pursuit #44: Adventures in Blog Stalking

Have you ever blog stalked someone? (Maybe you're slyly nodding as you blog stalk me right now...)

Well, I am a blog stalker. I occasionally read the blog of a person who is an acquaintance of mine. I rarely see this acquaintance, but oddly now am fairly well-versed in this person's life. So when I actually did run into this person, I had to pretend like I had no idea about their new job, their weekend plans and their favorite things about fall. I felt it would be more creepy if I told them "I READ YOUR BLOG. I KNOW ALL ABOUT YOU EVEN THOUGH WE ONLY MET TWICE."

I am a horrendous liar so I'm sure the awkwardness of the conversation was felt across the room. I gave this person some "Congrats" on an event in their recent life. They look puzzled and even said, "...how did you know?" I covered up with a, "Oh, you know, Facebook," which they bought and is also partially true.

Then what else can a blog stalker say when out of the safety of her home and de-armed of her laptop? Pretty much nothing since any conversation attempt spiraled into utter ineptitude. But don't worry. I welcome all blog stalkers (like me!). All for one, and one for all!!

18 September, 2010

Pursuit #43: There's a (gym) rat in my basement

...and it's me.

I bought a bunch of equipment (very similar to the equipment they have in the physical therapy clinic where I work) to use at home for strengthening, conditioning and general sweat-inducing move busting. I canceled my gym membership earlier this year and now I can't really afford one, so this is my solution. Voila!

It's private. It's open 24/7. And I love it. 

Free weights, ankle/wrist weights, resistance bands, stability ball, jump rope, weighted medicine ball, yoga mat + videos, and some exercises for each bit of equipment (many of them come with a print out of the exercises). All you need!

17 September, 2010

Pursuit #42: My mouth is on fire

and I love it! Trader Joe's Spicy Hummus is amazing. I knew there was a reason it was always sold out. That is all.

16 September, 2010

Pursuit #41: Misconceptions

The other day I was running and started thinking about odd comments people have said about me, to me or to someone I know. Granted everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think I can safely say I am none of these things. Suffice it to say that each of these comments were made by A) a total stranger B) A peer in a class who I barely interacted with or C) an occasional friend or family member who obviously doesn't know me very well.

1. "She has intimidating eyebrows."- middle school classmate to a friend of mine

2. "Your hair is so emo!" - some Korean girl I talked to at a random house party

3. "Do you play soccer? You just look like a soccer player." - tons of people asked me this in college, to the extent of asking me this when I walked by them in a classroom wearing regular school clothes or on the street. I dressed up as a soccer player for Halloween Junior year cause I thought that would be funny and ironic, only to have people ask me with all seriousness how soccer practice was.

4. "Were you a dancer? You walk like a dancer." - this just happened recently at work. One of the PT's asked me this cause she said I walk with my feet turned out. Thanks? I do have a secret regret of not becoming a ballerina, so I'll take it!

5. "She looks like she writes poetry. She doesn't cry in movies. Her clothes show she is in style, but doesn't care about being too trendy."- my Communications Theory professor had me and a few other people stand in the front of the class while class members answered specific questions about each of us based solely on visual perceptions (writes poetry? cries in movies? etc.) I am the opposite for the first two at least.

6. "Still waters run deep." - a family member, which is true sometimes I suppose. I call it "selective sharing."

7. "She's intimidating." - some girl in college freshman dorms to my friend, this still baffles me.

8. "You have sad eyes." - 7th grade friend, awkward moment.

9. "Excuse me, young man?" - old man to my back when I had a pixie cut.

This is sort of a running list. I may have to add to it periodically. I like re-reading them for a good chuckle.

12 September, 2010

Pursuit #40: The Tao of a High Schooler

Next time you feel oppressed by authority, overbearing in-law, or perhaps just a meddling neighbor, just tell them "You do you." You can also throw in an "I do me" for further emphasis if warranted.

Yes, a high schooler taught me this. But who better to advise on the oppressive regime of authority than a teenager? 

11 September, 2010

Pursuit #39 I am officially a woman!

Never before had I looked at Woman's Day magazine, out of no intentional bias, i just didn't feel I was the "target audience." But I perused one at work the other day and I found out within a few pages that I am now officially a woman because Woman's Day is relevant to ME!

It seems to have a lot of good tips that interest me in my old age, like how to properly ventilate a room...yawn, actually maybe I'm not ready for that one yet. But most importantly it mentioned Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project and gave readers advice on how to start their own happiness projects, like ME!

And if you hadn't noticed the theme of my post, er my entire blog so far, it is ME! I just wanted to ensure you that this blog is still my own version of my Happiness Project and it's mine. So while sometimes I feel like posting seemingly off-tangent things, that's just kinda how my brain works. I'm still happy and pursuing more happiness!

To prove it, I made a short list of some of my little happiness-factors:

1. I use lots of exclamation points in my written communication now!!! (How many more exclamation points can I use and still be cool??)

2. I am slowly but surely powering through my never ending to-do-list, mostly school related.

3. I finally got to drive a pick up truck whilst blasting country music. Bucket list, check!

4. Have I told you lately, that I love SUSHI??? Anyone who knows me knows this is TREMENDOUS. I actually crave it now. Oh, and I like mushrooms now. Within reason (read: portobello burgers are still gross, but sliced up and mixed in or on my pizza is OK).

5. I learned that in a study where participants were asked to hold something in their mouths that forced the corners of their mouths downward (as in a frown) while doing an activity, they found the activity less enjoyable than those who were asked to do the same activity while holding something in their mouths that forced the corners of their mouths upward (as in a smile). So SMILE!

08 September, 2010

Pursuit #38: Ode to Summer

This is a time machine that allows you to people watch, in the past! (Thanks S.T.)

The song, the singing, the clothes, the people...I love everything about this video. Everyone seems so classy. Except the woman reading that magazine while Anita performs...um hello?!

Farewell summah time, you will be missed!

07 September, 2010

Pursuit #37: Who let the dogs out? Well, I did.

Only this time, one of them ran away. In the pitch blackness of night. In a wholly unfamiliar neighborhood. On my FIRST dogwalking/sitting gig of my dogwalking/sitting career.

I called for him. No answer. No sounds. An eternal 15 slow-motion yet hyperactive minutes of searching. I paced. I searched for a flashlight in a foreign house. I panicked. I cried. Never before have I literally wanted to just crawl under a rock and hide. Scratch that: not just hide, but die. I was a mortified, terrified mess. I had to call the owner of the dogwalking company and explain to her that on my first assignment, I...lost....the...dog. Oh, but wait. I FORGOT TO SAVE HER PHONE NUMBER IN MY PHONE!

Then I hear howling in the woods in one general direction of a not too distant neighbor's house. I run. No dog in sight, just sound. But a disembodied dog howl from the woods is not particularly helpful WHEN YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY A FOREST AT NIGHT.

I finally got ahold of the company owner (that's another stressful tale, but not worth getting into). I am waiting for her call back (thinking I'm surely fired), when I decide to make one last attempt in the general direction of the disembodied howling. And what do I hear? Dog toenails clanking on the pavement. I see his silhouette standing on the edge of the neighbor's driveway like he did not just cause my veritable heart attack slash almost make me commit suicide. I dragged him home while calling the owner back to call off the crisis.

Lesson to be learned: Dogs that look and walk like walruses covered in fur, are actually stealth ninjas, so do not be fooled. That, or just always use leashes for dogs you are responsible for the well-being of...

04 September, 2010

Pursuit #36: Just say "No!" to poop.

I started a second part time job today: dogwalking/sitting. I can take on as many gigs as I want to earn a little extra cash on the weekends and such which is nice.

So essentially I show up, pet, feed, and hang out with a couple dogs for approximately 30 minutes a couple times a day.  I "walk" them by taking them out to their fenced in backyard. But I soon learned that really my main goal for these two dogs is to not let one eat the other's poop. The dogwalking company owner had forewarned me of this, but I laughed it off. But then it really happened. The one dog voraciously tried to eat the other dog's poop. So I had to intervene. 

I learned a great life lesson today: When someone tells you, "Just don't let them eat poop and everything will be ok," you should listen.

02 September, 2010

Pursuit #35: The Tangled Interweb

I thought it was odd when I got an ecard from some old grandma in my email inbox.

I ignored it and moved on with my life. (What grandmas are internet savvy, I mean really!? Suspicious!)

Later, I received another ecard from her, which I ignored as well. Then my elderly secret admirer/internet stalker sent me an email with an online photo album....ignored again. I thought this must be some hoax or malicious email virus thing. Then when she tried to add me as a friend on Facebook, I thought, "Oh, this poor old lady is just confused and has gotten my email address mixed up with someone else's!"

But the Interweb suddenly just got even more tangled. (Sounds like a catchy movie preview ad one liner. Are you hooked yet??) The latest email:
Hi Guys
As you know jusy spent last few days with Nan and she would really love it if we could all get together for her birthday, The weekend best would be after so weekend of the 15,16th and 17th October.
Can you all let me know if you can make it so I can let Nan know for definite.  Will also be good for us all to touch base about New year as well as having a nice birthday celebration for Nan.
Was thinking of a nice meal and any ideas on what to cook great i'm sure we can all club together or doa hot buffet what ever anyones fancies!
Speak to you all soon
Lorraine xxx

Suspicious part deux! And this is from an entirely NEW internet stalker, in the UK no less. (The UK has also been trying to recruit me, since I get weekly emails from some job site there telling me my resume looks great and they want to hire me. I never sent anyone my resume in the UK...) The above email was only sent to a total of 4 email addresses, all in the UK, except mine. There are no attachments. Pray tell, what does some internet evildoer gain from such an email as this? Do we really have to get so personal? Can we just leave Nan out of this mess for crying out loud!?! (P.S. I googled the sender, and she's a registered Hypnotherapist. Interpret this information as you will.) Or perhaps it really was just another Interweb fluke.

Nonetheless, a SHOUT OUT to all my internet stalkers out there:

I'm flattered. I really am. I appreciate all the requests to join your families, which I'm sure are fine families. But I already have a family. I don't need to join yours. I don't want to move to the UK (not yet at least). So let's all just work together to untangle our Inter-webs and go on living anonymously and ignorantly in this virtual world. Thank you and good night.