Sunday, November 28, 2010

'Tis the Season to be Crazy

So Thanksgiving has come and gone. That little holiday that doesn't give us much time off from work but does give us that blessed excuse to eat like our life depended on it. The turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the COOL WHIP! Yes, cool whip might in fact be my favorite part of Thanksgiving (or any major holiday involving pie.) As my grandma told my aunt who brought dessert, "Make sure you bring one container for Abby and one for the rest of us." So what if I eat it like candy? I don't even care if you're judging me right now.

My friend Courtney re-posted her blog about Thanksgiving traditions (read here! and it made me think about what I enjoyed most about this Thanksgiving. I have to say, Thanksgiving dinner conversation is probably my favorite. For example, the board game Candyland was featured at this year's dinner talk. My cousins and I had played it the night before (at my request) and somehow it got mentioned at dinner. As my uncle said, "There's nothing like getting sent back to Plumpy and still making a big finish to win." A word from the wise.

The day following Thanksgiving involved some low-key Black Friday shopping, if that's possible. After contemplating for 45 minutes or so whether I wanted to go super early and shop like the pros, I decided, "No. I like sleep." So I went out with my aunt and cousins around 9 and we still found some good deals. Although around 11:30, I started getting that feeling like the walls were closing in on me and the need for my personal bubble, which had long since been bursted, came back full force. Let's just say I prefer shopping when I don't fear stampeding at any moment.

Saturday was Christmas Decorating Day! Or should I say, Christmas Decorating Day, Part 1 of 17. Because that's probably how many days it will take to finish. My grandma has over 65 boxes of Christmas decorations, so you can see how it takes some time. Don't worry. She also has a organizational notebook so we know what decorations are in which boxes and what boxes are in which closets. Things got a little frantic when she thought she lost the notebook this summer, but thank heavens we found it. So as the Christmas tree went up, my cousins and I were assigned the joyous task of decorating it with approximately 35,000 Christmas balls. About halfway through this task, disaster struck. The dozen strands of Christmas lights on the tree inexplicably went out. Cue moment of panic. Immediately, thoughts of "Good lord, do we have to take this all apart??" went through my brain. I stepped away from the tree, hoping my brain would not explode. I took a break in the kitchen and by the time I got back, voila! Lights back on. Christmas magic! Anyhow, we finally finished and the tree looks overstuffed, but still quite lovely.
(Not our tree. But you get the picture.)

And now, as we're all coming off our Thanksgiving buzz, I'm back at work. On a Sunday night. For the class that I'm auditing. I'm looking at about 4 hours + in the printmaking studio tonight. Hopefully the result will be cheap Christmas presents for everyone I know!

I hope all of you had a marvelous holiday, and that you got to enjoy your own Thanksgiving traditions. I'm sure the upcoming season of crazy holiday preparations will provide much material for entertaining blog posts. At least you'd better hope so, for your own sakes.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blog World, Dave. Dave, Blog World.

This is my friend Dave. You might ask, "Abby, does Dave meet qualifications to be institutionalized?" I would reply, "You might think so, but it's really just the photo."
Here is Dave as a baby, sans beard. Look at him play that bass! He's very talented.
Dave is also Devin's friend. They're my "D" friends - Dev 'n Dave.
The three of us hang out sometimes. Here we are, creating an artistic tableau.
Dave has a mini-guitar. I try to get a picture of myself and the uke during every visit.
How does this relate to Sparkle, Sparkle's overall theme of life, love and Devin/Abby? It doesn't. Except that Dave has been whining consistently for the past month for his own personal blog entry. So here you go, Davo. Enjoy your custom-made shout out.

But seriously, everyone should know that Dave is one of my dear, dear friends. He keeps me entertained via gchat, often making me laugh out loud during work. AND HE CAME TO VISIT ME IN NEBRASKA! (Granted, he was primarily visiting family, but that's not the point.) So yes. This is Dave. Get to know him if you have the chance.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

7 Things That Would Make This World A Better Place

I've been a little serious on the blog lately, so I'm bringing back the Sparkle, Sparkle with some ideas for improving life on earth.

1. All skirts should be made with a slick lining so that they don't stick to your tights. Am I right, ladies? No awkward clinging.

2. Cupcakes would be an essential part of a balanced diet. Frosting would only make you healthier.

3. Everyone should have to rock/hold a baby for at least 30 minutes a week. Check this out for reasons why (Thanks for the link, Deva!)

4. Mixers and meeting new people would somehow magically not be awkward or frightening at all. Maybe I'm just being a whiner on this one. Whatever. Large groups of new people overwhelm me.

5. AT&T would build a tower riiiiight outside Seward so I wouldn't have to suffer through an average of 4 dropped calls per conversation.

6. Fluorescent lighting would NEVER be used in bathrooms or dressing rooms. This seems ridiculously logical, I'm not even sure why I have to bring it up.

7. Dance parties would be a regular occurrence. As in every day.

Granted, some of these involve changing laws of food chemistry, but overall I really don't think I'm asking for too much. So if any of you run for office someday, you know what issues are the most important to this constituent.

Have a sparkly weekend, friends. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Closure. Overrated or not? Cast your vote...

Closure. It's a word most often used to define that "moment" when you're finally OK with a situation gone awry. Break-ups, moving, graduation... oh HEY! Those sound familiar! But don't worry, I'm not going to whine (you're welcome.)

The idea of a single moment that suddenly rights everything that had previously gone wrong is sort of strange. If you've spent so long feeling upset about something, is it realistic to think that *click!* you'll just feel better about it? I have to think that people who say things like, "I just woke up one morning and realized it wasn't worth worrying about..." are kind of lying. Because let's face it. Has that ever actually happened to you? Really, has it? If so, then I'm totally jealous. I'm sure it would be nice to magically be able to walk away from one emotional state at the drop of a hat. It would be so incredibly convenient.

However, I'm sure I'm not shocking anyone when I say that I don't think life is supposed to be convenient. I think we get punches thrown at us and obstacles placed in front of us and floors dropped out from beneath us for a reason. Because if everything was convenient, it wouldn't be called life. It would be called "Disney." And don't get me wrong, I love Disney movies and Disney World. For better or worse, real life is just that, it's real. And it's what we have to work with.

When I don't get closure on a situation, it tends to fill my entire mind. I literally can't think about anything else except the situation that's bothering me. There's no moment when my brain completely empties out. But the dust of that situation does seem to clear out over time. (And as my good friend Mr. Ben Folds says, "Time takes time, you know.") And I have a confession to make. Sometimes, that real life feeling, that one that makes you want to throw yourself off a building, that grit between your teeth - sometimes it feels right. We shouldn't just turn our backs on people, places or the past. We have to learn to deal with them. Because whatever we experience will always be a part of us, whether we like it or not.

So maybe instead of trying to find closure, we should try to fashion our pain and confusion into something that gives us a backbone. Don't we always think of the strongest people as the ones who have gone through a lot of crap in their lives? I'm not saying my life has been terrible or hard by any means. I've been really blessed. But I feel like I should try and take the hard parts and make them useful. (I think our grandparents would call that "building character.") So I'm voting "overrated" for this week's poll. I'm going to use everything I've got in my life's arsenal - pretty and ugly. Won't you join me? :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not to be a copycat...

...But I too will be using J-May lyrics to preface this blog post.

I am in repair.

I'm not sure how I feel about people pouring out the deepest and most secretive details of their personal lives, but I'd like to touch on something slightly closer to home. As many of you might already know, I had a rough summer due to a relationship that came to a close. The exact details aren't important, but it left me feeling like someone had pushed me off a cliff by surprise.

So as I fell I spent a lot of time feeling bad about/for myself. I'm not really proud of this part - I'd like to say I was one of those girls who got up, brushed herself off and moved on - but that was not the case. I felt broken and confused, and I thought there was "so much to do to set my heart right" (as good ol' John says). I had a lot of time to myself this summer. So I read. And prayed. And cried. And slept. And that about summed up my free time.

BUT! This is not a story to get sympathy, I promise. It's actually a precursor to an exclamation of great thanks. I just spent a weekend with some of the best people I know in the world. The time I spent with them was not only fun and hilarious, it was the best step forward I've taken in 5 months. Every single minute, I was surrounded by friends who have become my family. They inspire me, they make me die laughing, they defend me, they console me. They make me happy. Chances are, if I saw you this weekend, you're one of those people. So thank you. Thank you, thank you! You probably didn't know, but you're what keeps me going.

And then there's those friends that I unfortunately didn't see this weekend, but who are nonetheless vital to my existence. When I get to work this morning, expecting a normal Monday, I see that Deva has posted on the blog! A joyous surprise! And not only that, but she points out the very thing I am thankful for: that some things never change, like our friendship. Sure it has evolved over the years, but deep down, we are still those girls that want so badly for each others' lives to succeed that we're even willing to ignore Spanish class to describe our house layouts to each other (a tough sacrifice). She has been walking along with me this entire journey and without her, I would simply be lost.

Basically what I'm saying is this: It's surely good for me to find my own way in the world, and I am definitely working on that. But it is also surely good to have reunions and reminders too. I am certainly so thankful for these moments.

I'm in repair, I'm not together but I'm getting there.

Thanks for helping me get there.

Monday, November 8, 2010

stop this train

So here's something.

I just registered for my last semester of grad school classes.  After I get through next semester, I just have an internship and then next December, voila! I am an MSW.  Where is all this time going? Didn't I just start high school a few years ago?  I am feeling really impressed that I've been able to pack so much action into the last nine years.

I often wonder what will happen and what I will be thinking this time next year, or this time two years from now.  The truth is, I can't even imagine it. I can't imagine what having a full time job will be like, or what that job will be, or where it will's just that so much has changed in what seems like just a short amount of time.

When Abby and I were Sophomore's in HS, we used to pass notes back and forth to each other during the passing periods.  We didn't have any classes together, or maybe just one, but we refused to let this stop our communication throughout the day.

The notes were filled with the plans we had for our lives.  Where would we live? Who would we marry? It seems a little 1950s, but honestly, I never really thought about what I would do for a living until oh, probably my Junior year of college. It never occurred to me that I would have to provide for myself, or that I should plan on doing anything other than Dance for the rest of my years.

Now look at me. Look at us.  I wish I could still pass you notes, Abba.  I guess in a lot of ways we still pass "notes".  But I just can't get over how quickly everything happened, and how far off our 16-year-old predictions for ourselves were.

Some things never change, though.

And it's nice to know some of the people you loved when you were 16, you still love today and always.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tap Your Heels Together and Head... Where?

Something very odd happened to me the other day. My boss was telling me about how an education professor said something to the extent of "Why would you ever get an art major? What would you do with that?" in a meeting. (No, this post is not about the merits of art. Maybe another day.) My boss was kind of upset that this education professor was not supporting the other departments and in response, I said, "That's really weird, I mean, we're well-known for our art department!"

Pause. Immediately realize what I've said. Re-think. "We're known for our art department."

In one short sentence, I subconsciously became a part of Concordia University as I never had before. It's only been 112 days since I started my job here in Seward, and I've already placed myself into the "we" context.

When I went to Denmark in 7th grade for 6 months, I was very conscious of not saying anything that made me a permanent part of the people and places. Mostly because I was a spiteful teenager and I resented being away from my friends for half of a year. But I was also terrified that I might become attached to something there, so I never called it "home." It was always "I'm going back to the apartment." If I ever slipped up, I corrected myself to make the point. And up until now, I think I've been doing the same thing here.

I won't lie to you, faithful readers, I was not so much a happy camper this summer. Life had thrown a hundred major changes at me, and I didn't want to accept that things were changing. I didn't want to become part of a "we" in Seward. This town was merely a placeholder while I figured out the next step of my journey. And yet, now I'm saying "we" and not even realizing it. Can a place become our home without our noticing? When we try to fight it?

As a post-grad, home is a strange concept to grapple with anyways. Sure, I say I'm from Champaign, but I haven't lived there for any more than a few months in 4 years. That's basically 20% of my life. Which is kind of significant. So is that still my home? My house is there. My parent's house is there, actually. Where is my home?

Maybe home is where we find ourselves saying "we" and not realizing it. The "we" sneaks up on us and makes a cozy nest in our chests. And before we know it, "we" have found a place to be, and a place to belong, and a place to call home, even if only for a while.