Friday, March 25, 2011

How To Have A Thrilling Family Vacation With The Langes In 10 Easy Steps

Hey-O from Arizona! For the past week, I've been hanging with my fam in Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Sedona. It's been pretty glorious, so I thought I would give you all a few pointers on how to re-create this experience for yourselves.

Step 1. Choose a spring break locale that is typically warm, but during spring break is actually quite cold. I might suggest the Grand Canyon, where our average temperature this week was 38. And yes, that's degrees fahrenheit. Lovely.

Step 2. Choose another spring break locale that specializes in gambling and naked women. Like Las Vegas! It was all I could do to keep from covering Micah's eyes everywhere we went.

Step 3. When you're in Las Vegas, make sure to get into the elevator with a guy and his lady-friend. It'll make for a couple of hilariously awkward moments as it dawns on you that this is not a family friendly atmosphere.

Step 4. Plan your main hiking in the Grand Canyon the day after it snows. That way the trails will be icy, muddy and downright treacherous. It's fun for everyone!

Step 5. Definitely don't pack for winter weather. Where's the adventure in having proper attire for cold outdoor activities? It's more exciting when you can't feel your face.

Step 6. Make sure Papa Lange sees you EVERY time you go close to the edge of a cliff. This will result in one of the following statements/exclamations (and they never get old):
a. "(Insert Name Here, possibly repeat several times)! You are WAY too close to that edge!"
b. "Walk on the inside of the trail!"
d. "Don't even joke about that. That is too creepy." (Usually follows a pantomime of me throwing myself over the edge of a cliff.)

Step 6. Get my mom to say something in Spanish.

Step 7. Go to an outlet mall and watch my parents have the inevitable how-long-we're-going-to-spend-shopping haggling session. It's fun to watch my mom talk my dad from 1 hour to 2.5, or my dad persuade my mom that 4 hours is going to literally kill him.

Step 8. Bring only one iPod/iPad/iPhone charger for the whole family. It never ceases to amaze me how many Mac products one family can have, and how they always need to be charged at the same time.

Step 9. Let Papa Lange get to sleep before you. You will never feel so much joy as you do when you try to fall asleep to the peaceful sound of bulldozers, aka my father's incessant snoring.

Step 10. Play the car-sickness card as much as possible so you don't have to sit in the back of the van.

See? It's easy to have an unforgettable time in the Southwest! But in all seriousness, I love traveling with my family. My brothers are hilarious, my parents like doing a lot of different things, and we all get along just swell (for the most part!) It's been great having what might be one of the last few family vacations together. I'm a fam gal through and through and I am so thankful to have these trips. Now, if only we could go somewhere legitimately warm...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lemonade Punch (Yum!)

Hello again, blog-o-sphere! Sorry I've been absent and haven't provided some of you with your at-work procrastination efforts (ahem, Davo.) Believe it or not, much has happened in my life in the past week and half. And when I say "much" I mean mostly things that are insignificant in the long run, but some things that are. Let me divulge.

After a lovely, relaxing weekend with girlfriends in Chicago, I came home to a letter politely telling me I didn't get into grad school at the art institute. Curses! Disappointment abounded. Now I'm going to try to keep this lighthearted for the sake of Sparkle, Sparkle, but it was a pretty sad moment. Now it's only a few days after the fact, and my mind is rapidly formulating various "Plan B's." So many options now that my preferred path is not available. The problem with Plan B, is that it generally doesn't suit a Type A. Us oldest children like our letters to match up, you see.

So I've been thinking about the concept of Plan B, both in what it means literally for what I'll be doing in the next year and more abstractly for what it signifies in my life. All through high school and even college, I have expected the best from myself, and usually gotten it. (Academically speaking at least.) Now I'm facing a new arena where I no longer stand out quite so brightly as I used to. The pool has gotten larger and more vibrant, and it's quite difficult to shine in that sort of field. So myself and many others like me revert to our Plan B's. For me, it's easy to slump into the idea that Plan B means failure, that I didn't get what I really wanted. Somehow I must not have worked hard enough, or made the right use of my time, or something like that. For a Type A, Plan B is a little embarrassing.

But it shouldn't be that way! There shouldn't be a feeling of shame when the initial dream doesn't pan out. I recently heard that UCLA received 78,000 applications for next year's freshman class. 78,000! Think how many Plan B's come out of that number! And I'm sure many schools (undergrad/grad/med/etc) are facing the same issue. That leaves a LOT of people out there who are working on Plan B. Including myself. The hard part is getting excited about Plan B and turning it into your new Plan A.

When I don't get what I want, I get upset. That makes me sound like a spoiled brat, but I think it's human instinct to feel disappointment. How do I shake that feeling of missing out and embrace the alternative opportunities? Well, I can't tell you, because I don't fully know. However, I suspect it has something to do with rolling with the punches and making lemonade out of lemons. Yes, the old cliches come back to haunt us. When life gives you Plan B in a crumply brown paper sack, we have to keep our chins up and re-wrap Plan B in a cute gift box with a flouncy bow. Just because it doesn't look nice on the outside at first doesn't mean it can't be re-worked and re-decorated to be absolutely gorgeous. It's all a matter of perception. Suddenly, I'd much rather have the nice gift box because I just know there must be something fantastic inside. All of a sudden, voila! New Plan A.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for nice gift wrapping and pretty things, but I think my metaphor works. And I know there will be hard days where I wish I was somewhere else. But for now I'm going to mash all of my catch phrases together and make lemonade punch, which actually sounds quite delicious. Exact recipe to come, once I figure out the whole "life" thing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

That Most Wonderful Time in Life...PSYCH!

As I sit here on a Saturday morning, fully rested after sleeping in, sipping coffee out of my Christmas mug from Deva, and yes, still in my pajamas, I feel quite content and satisfied with life. Which is why it's the perfect time for me to complain! Or, as I prefer to call it: question the great wide void why things are the way they are. It's much more diplomatic, no?

So my question to the void today is: what's up with this new age group people are talking about? Have you heard of it? It's US. Post-adolescent, pre-adult, post-college, pre-career people. AKA the 22-28 ish age range. Apparently we are not growing up in the same way that our parents did (duh.) We are delaying families, marriage and even careers to "discover ourselves" and "find out what we want in life." Well, that's all well and fine I suppose, except for the fact that this seems to apply more to males than females. Ahhh, yes, now you see where this is going. My dear friend Courtney sent me an article titled "Where Have The Good Men Gone?" The main premise is that while women are off fending for themselves (aka having an income and getting educated), men feel less needed and in response have become whiney and immature. Ha! Just kidding, kind of. It's not that harsh. But it does point out that many guys these days seem to live in an extension of the frat life, riding out the high of college, refusing to settle into adulthood, etc.

Now, as a recent graduate, I can't say I'm exempt from this lifestyle. I still sometimes wish I could go back and re-live senior year again. But ultimately, I would like to have kids before I'm 40, so I realize I must move onward. Unfortunately, I cannot have said kids unless someone from the male population steps up and contributes to the cause, so to speak. (Disclaimer: this is NOT a blog post begging for a boyfriend. Yuck. I'm just using myself as an example. I'm sure many girls feel this way.) And according to the article, as long as I keep finding ways to occupy myself in the meantime - like working and going to school - guys will be turned off by my "independence" and revert to video games and binge drinking. Or something like that.

I feel like this is getting convoluted, what do you think? My main point is this: there is some strange and unstoppable cycle happening here. Girls want to get married. Apparently you can't just do that out of the blue. So they get jobs. Guys see girls with jobs. Guys feel they aren't needed to bring home the bacon. Guys are content to let sleeping dogs lie. Girls get impatient. Girls climb the corporate ladder. Guys feel even less needed. Guys get insecure about their role in a girl's life. Girls get kinda whiney about the lack of guys. Guys are turned off by said whining. Girls and guys resent each other resulting in the lack of relationships and the world's population of married couples drops dramatically resulting in fewer children birthed by young mothers and by the time people finally let go of their grudges and have kids they are old and will not live to see their children graduate from college and then the world will be full of a generation of hurt and clueless 20-somethings who are in dire need of the wisdom of their parents and in turn run away from any type of relationship or commitment... See?? CYCLICAL.

I realize this entire blog post is a vast generality, but I think there are a few truths in there somewhere. The hard part is extricating those parts from my ranting. Questioning, rather. I suppose in the end, the most important thing is that whatever you decide to do with this most wonderful time in your life, do it with sparkle and style of your own. And don't shy away from being a grown-up every once in a while. :)