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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Travelling in the Midwest

After enjoying a cup of coffee this morning, Rae and I headed out for day 2 of our road trip. After typing in our next destination, we discovered that we would be getting to Akron, OH a little earlier than expected, so we decided to make a stop at the St. Louis Arch and take a look from the top. So glad we did it! What made it better was that we got there early so there were hardly any other people in the observation area and we could move through the tour quickly, plus we got an early bird parking discount! 
After our little tourist stop we headed across the heartland of America: the midwest. We drove by nothing but corn, corn and more corn. It was very pretty through southern Illinois, but then it started to get monotonous once we passed through Indiana and most of Ohio and still saw cornfields. After passing the Indiana border, we made a lunch stop at Cracker Barrel. I had my chicken and dumplings and even had room for some carrot cake for dessert, then back on the interstate. We arrived in Akron, OH at around 8pm. After eating dinner at Chipotle and dessert at Coldstone Creamery we finally checked into our favorite hotel chain (Holiday Inn Express) and now I am currently laying in my nice queen size bed relaxing. 

Not too exciting of a day. Tomorrow we'll be driving through Pennsylvania for a large portion of the day. We should be in Rhode Island around dinner time! I will be keeping you posted. Thanks to those who have kept us in your prayers, we have had an incredibly smooth trip. Unitl next time...



Monday, August 30, 2010

Meet Me In St. Louis

The time has come for me to go back to school. It has been a fantastic summer as I have expressed all summer on this blog. Saturday my mom and I headed down to the Dallas area to meet up with Rae Sunday. We made a stop in Plano to see one of my mom's classmates from China and then headed down to Danell's. Danell has been a long time family friend and was sort of my nanny when I was a kid. She used to live in my neighborhood and she is the reason why I am a Christian today ( long story short). She is a preacher's wife so her and her family have moved around the country a lot, but I think that they have finally settled down in Dallas, and are there to stay. It was very nice to catch up with her as well as go to Sunday worship services with her in the morning. The congregation they have down there is truly great. They are everything a church is supposed to be, a big loving family. After lunch, we headed back up to Plano to get Rae, we packed up the car with her things and made the trek back up to Oklahoma. Rae has finally met Shirley in person and I think she got a kick out of her. After getting home, my mom made steaks for a late dinner and the guys came over one last time. I'm glad they had a chance to meet Rae, I feel like I have talked about all of them to each other so much, we were all old pals. 

This day has gone so smoothly, exactly as planned.This morning Rae and I got up and got organized. We had some extra time before we needed to leave, so I took her around town and showed her the important things and stopped for some coffee at Espresso 911 and said good bye to Micah. Then we headed over to Grand China to grab a bite to eat and say good bye to the Grand China gang and my mom and Charles. Then Corbin met us there in the parking lot to see us off, then we met Trevor at the Log Store to get gas on the way out and have him see us off. Our stop for the night was only in St. Louis so we did not do as much driving day one. Rae has an old family friend here in St. Louis, Stacy, and she has been kind enough to let us stay in her home for the night. We got into St. Louis around 5:45ish, so it was still daytime. Stacy took us to some St. Louis classic places. We had dinner at J. Bucks and then went to Ted Drewes for some frozen custard. I had actually seen this frozen custard place on the Food Network not to long ago, it's Bobby Flay's favorite. They make what they call a "concrete" as mixture so thick you can hold it upside down. 

Tomorrow we're planning to be back on the road at 8am on our way to Akron, OH. Keep us in your prayers, and lets hope the trip continues to be smooth. I'll be keeping you posted, until next time...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cool, breezy, summer night.

Here goes another late night blog post. All great bloggers or writers must be insomniacs, because I cannot imagine writing anything during the day. The end of the month must be approaching because my free Pandora radio hours are running low. I am sitting out on my back deck once again enjoying the cool summer evening. It is cooler tonight than it has been all summer, it's "Ooh I need a sweatshirt" weather.

Today has been a pretty nice day. Since we have guests staying at our house, the tv has stayed off, meaning I have gotten a lot accomplished. This morning I had to take my car back to the shop because there is still an oil leak in it, which is bad for the upcoming road trip up north I am about to take. When I came back I grabbed my laptop and a cup of green tea and headed out here to the back deck. I did the usual, checked Facebook, voted for Art Feeds, checked my JWU email, then checked my Gmail. After that was done I decided it was time to respond to all of those emails I read on my iPhone but forgot to respond back later on and email the list of people in my mind I have been meaning to email. If I learned anything from Rae this past school year was that you never get anywhere in life by not asking for what you want, so I emailed one of the head persons of CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) requesting that I be given more responsibility and more access to the media this year when I volunteer. I got a reply soon after and I got what I wanted. I also conducted some UIB business as well.

I have been very Chinese these past few days with our guests here. We went over to a family friend of ours for lunch, she made us "Shanghai" food. Being in a Chinese environment forces me to use my Chinese which is a challenge. We also played a little ping pong while we were there. I also spent a lot of time out in nature these past few days. Today, we picked pears from a pear tree and then we all worked together pruning my mom's garden. Quality time with the fam was pretty fun, I'm finally to the point where I appreciate it.

Charles set  up his big telescope and told me to invite my friends over to look through it. The sky was so clear and the moon was so bright. We took a look at the moon, a nebula, Jupiter, and other things (I don't remember). It was fun. We spent about 2 hours looking at stuff and by then it was midnight. No one really had anywhere to be too terribly early so we decided to go do something else. This is very difficult in a small town like this one but we settled on finding a spot to sit by the river. While sitting by the river we were all trying to figure out what our spirit animals were. One had decided quite a while ago his was a frog but no one else really had any idea what ours would be. Apparently you don't chose your spirit animal, it choses you. It reveals itself to you throughout life but you don't realize until you are open to looking for the signs. I guess my spirit animal hasn't revealed itself to me yet, or has it? There was discussion about mine being a spider since there are always spiders in my room and bathroom, I'm still wrestling with the idea of my guiding animal being a spider...yuck.

Sorry for the lack of really exciting or useful information, I suppose that is what's expected from a blog titled "Small Town Livin'" Unitil next time...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The end is near, but the beginning is nearer.

I don't know why I always get inspired to blog late at night. I always think they are so brilliant at this time too, and I read it the next morning and wonder why. I am currently sitting on my back deck enjoying the cool breezy summer night. It is perfect right now, I only wish I had someone to join me. I miss my roomie, ya know that automatic friend that's with you all the time? No worries though, I drive down to Dallas this weekend to pick her up and to begin our trek back up north.

My mom's old college classmate and her son randomly passed through Oklahoma and is visiting us for a few days. It's nice to see my mom interact with her old friends and talk about the days when she was in college. Her son is just a few years older than me, so right about the age of people I tend to hang out with. They got in last night and we all stayed up late talking about politics, religions, and everything in between. They live in Canada and we compared in contrasted the two countries. I really forget that Canada is a completely different country. In my mind it must be just a really big state or something. All of you liberals out there reading this should really emigrate to Canada, you would love it. Everything that the liberals are trying to do here in the states, Canada's already been there done that. Today I played tour guide and took them around the restaurant and the rest of town. She was very intrigued by the Native American culture so we went to the Heritage Center and took a tour of the village and museum. It's funny how I remember pretty much everything I was taught about the trail of tears in elementary school. I'm glad our schools took the time to take us on field trips to the historical sites around here. I'm glad that they are here but it is sort of throwing off my last week in town. I had big plans of seeing everyone and tying up all lose ends and packing, but I feel obligated to play tour guide and show them the sites. Rae kept telling me that this weekend would creep up on me but I didn't listen.

I am starting to get more excited about going back to school. It's not that I was dreading it or anything, I was just not dying to leave home just quite yet. I know I'll feel better about it when I get to say a proper good bye to everyone. The longer I stay here the more people think I am going to NSU and not going back to RI. Nothing against NSU, I just don't want to be perceived as someone who went away their first year of college, couldn't handle it, and ended up back at home. I refuse to be that person because that is not the case for me whatsoever. I have been asked countless times, "So are you going to school here now??" because I am still here and August is almost over. Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing others who have gone to college elsewhere and then decided to come back home. Every individual situation is different, mine is just not that way.

This may have been my last summer at home. I would really love to do something next summer, whether it is staying in Providence and working or an internship in DC. This summer has been the best waste of time ever. I thoroughly enjoyed not having any responsibility and doing whatever with no guilt of any other obligations and hanging out with all of my old friends. That was what this blog was all about: me doing nothing. I can only live like this for so long, it is time to be back in reality. It's time for me to look at life through a windshield instead of a rear-view mirror, and move on from the past and what is here at home and look towards my future again. The good things in my life here at home will stay with me, all of the others will melt away.

I wish I could stay out on the porch all night, but my laptop is about to die on me. Until next time...






Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When I grow up, I want....

Cool bike

Real strand of pearls

Classic black Louboutin pump

Perfectly tailored power suit

I'm a sucker for infomercials

A beautiful laundry room to hang out in + steam washer

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

It never loses suction

A basset hound of my own
Despite the corruption, I left my heart in DC


Friday, August 20, 2010

The Joys of Life

From time to time I feel heavyhearted, down in the dumps, not quite myself? Sometimes there is a reason, other times it happens for no reason at all. Sometimes it has to do with being home and bored. If I have a schedule that does not get filled I tend to get depressed. That must be why I'm in such high spirits at school; I am so busy. Some of you  must be thinking  I am crazy for getting depressed when I have no obligations, no real responsibility, no nothing. It was nice for about a month. I need to feel needed I suppose. The summer required nothing from me. When this happens I cannot handle sitting around and dwelling in it so I find things to keep me occupied and these are what I found joy in doing.

Exercise
Some mornings, it takes so much motivation to get myself out of bed before 11am to go to the gym, but when I do, my days went so much better. A little light exercise in the mornings is the best ways to start off hot summer days (especially for those you who have nothing else better to do in the summers). And on the days I really had nothing to do I would go back in the evening for a more intense workout. The days I didn't make it to the gym or did anything active were the worst. I always knew that exercise made me feel good but I had no idea it could have such an impact on my daily happiness. Remember: "Exercise creates endorphins, endorphins makes people happy, and happy people just don't kill their husbands." -Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)


Food
Eating is so much fun! In almost every culture, social activities revolve around food. Eating is the best excuse to get together with old friends, making new friends, and building relationships. This could be hazardous to one's health and wallet  if one doesn't make smart decisions as to what you order to eat. Since I didn't work so much this summer, cash flow was slimmer than usual. Instead of eating out, I started eating in. I am a believer in family dinner. I am to the age where I enjoy sitting down to dinner with my mom and stepdad and Bill O'Reilly. Also having cook outs and dinner parties are other great ways of socializing.

Did you know that there are actually foods that make you happy? There are certain foods that are capable of fighting depression and fatigue naturally? Basically all of these foods can be found on other lists of foods that are good for you in other ways. Essentially if you feed your body healthy foods, not only will you be better off physically, you will also be better off mentally. Simple lifestyle changes such as cutting caffeine, drinking for water, eating more whole grains and fiber, eating less processed foods and more fresh produce, cutting down alcohol intake, eating more omega 3 fatty acids like tuna, salmon, and nuts, and the list can go on and on. Healthy people are happy people.

Friends
Oldie but goodie
(have not taken a single picture this summer)
Friends sort of coincide with the other two subjects above. You can eat and exercise with friends and it makes it all more enjoyable, but there are also so many other great things to do with friends. I got a wall hanging last year with a quote on it that I always believed in firmly, "Wherever you are, it is friends who make your world." No matter what it is you are doing, if you are with friends, it's always a good time. I didn't do anything exciting this summer. We played cards and watched movies all summer. I was kind of bummed about it until I thought about how much fun we have just playing cards. We don't have to go out and do extravagant things to have a good time or create good memories. As we get older life is bound to get more complicated and more stressful. Make sure the people you voluntarily surround yourself with, ease the stress instead of create the stress.

Self-Improvement
This also coincides with the subjects discussed above. Don't get too comfortable with yourself. Set goals and expectations for yourself and no one else. Always be objective in the way you see yourself. Make sure you notice both strengths and weaknesses. Don't forget to give yourself credit for you strengths and don't let pride get in the way of noticing and fixing your weaknesses. Yes, it is easier to gripe about things that aren't going your way, but it is more productive to fix it to where there is no reason to gripe. Feeling unhappy? Do whatever it takes to make you happy. If you are happier, your world is happier.

Also, never underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes I catch myself doubting or getting impatient with my prayers but it always pays off in the end, God willing.

My name is Joy, and it is just wrong for me to not be joyful. This is what I find peace and joy in. May it benefit you the way it benefits me. Until next time...





"Be joyful always." 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fire, Spades, and Starry Nights

A cold front blew in and I am loving it! Sunday was Ben's birthday so we went to Chili's to celebrate...where else? After dinner we walked outside and it felt like it was at least 15 degrees cooler than when we walked in and the sun was setting. Gorgeous. We stayed out in the parking lot for a good while then made our way over to my house. After watching all that Laguna Beach I really wanted to have a bonfire, I had to sacrifice the beach, but my backyard sufficed. I think I was way more into the spontaneous cool weather and bonfire more than anyone else, but it just put me in the best mood I had been in in a while. It wasn't too different from any other night hangin out with the guys at my house only instead of playing spades in the sunroom, we played outside on my back deck. After a while we headed inside and watched the Marx Brother's Duck Soup, so funny. Comedy just isn't the same as it used to be by any means.

After the guys left, I took my medicine and expected to go to sleep, wrong. A crazy case of insomnia kicked in instead. Instead of laying in bed and starring at the ceiling, I decided to go out in my backyard and lay and stare at the stars. I could not get over how wonderful it felt outside. It was 79 degrees and breezy. I must have had a lot on my mind because I was out there for about 2 1/2 hours just sorting all my thoughts into neat folders in my head and listening to music I hadn't listened to in over a year. Ya know those songs you listened to a lot during one specific time in you life? I listened to the playlists of all of those specific time eras. Some songs were songs that I listened to on bus rides from band trips, football games, or airplane rides. Other songs were sad songs I listened to over and over again when I was feeling sad about certain people, and some songs were from tv shows that I used to watch a lot. I guess when I'm home for the summer, my life is at a  bit of a stand still towards the future so all I can do is be nostalgic. So crazy how music can bring back such explicit memories. Some songs can just bring me right back to a specific moment in time, it's almost like a time machine. Sometimes it's a little too much to handle listening to old music, but last night I was in the perfect to dig up all of those old emotions again. I stayed outside until about 4:45am. After laying in the itchy grass I had to take a shower before I finally went to bed.

Tonight I am actually sleepy and ready for bed, so goodnight all. Until next time...

Liquid Diet, Chubby Cheeks, and Laguna Beach

ednesday I got my bottom two wisdom teeth removed. Recovery hasn't been too bad aside from  having a face shaped like a squash. I spent days on the couch with an ice pack plastered to my face and the remote control glued to my hand. During the day I hung out at home by myself and the evenings were the usual, the boys came over to watch a movie with me but they also took care of me. I am so thankful to have such good friends checking on me, keeping me company, mashing bananas for me, and making sure I take my medication. 

I have spent so much time on the couch in front of the tv, I have watched just about everything on my DVR and Netflix Instant Queue. After my options got slim I started browsing through the newly added stuff on Netflix. Guess what I found...Laguna Beach. Now I wasn't a super big fan of the show while it was on. I watched it, but I wasn't proud of the fact. I watched the entire first season in one sitting, it was ridiculous. It was actually pretty fun and nostalgic. It is obvious that there is some manipulation of situations to make a story line, but the majority of it is deliciously real. I know that it is real because the dialogue is oh so teenage-esque.  The last time I watched the show I was in the 8th and 9th grade. It's crazy how watching their drama brought me back to the drama in my life at that time. It's also fun to watched because in the show, all of the characters are either juniors and seniors in high school. It was definitely more relevant to my life now that I have gone through pretty much the same thing they did in the show. The students at Laguna Beach High School are really not too different from here, the only difference is that there homes over look the beach and they have an obscene amount of money. The kids and emotions are the same regardless. Bad relationships are everywhere, mean girls are everywhere, and the weird sadness/happiness/excitement/fear of graduating high school and going to college is exactly the same. They even experience the same weirdness of being reunited with your old high school friends when you come home for Christmas and summer. I could relate 100% when it came to that. I guess this could be title Trashy Television pt.2 if you read my blog entry about The Real Housewives of New Jersey. 

The swelling in my cheeks has started to go down and I'm pretty much back in the usual routine. I get my stitches out Wednesday so maybe I will be able to eat solid food next week if not earlier. Yay! Until next time...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Retail Therapy...check.

After thinking all summer that I was broke, I realized that I wasn't. It pays off to pretend that you are poor because you end up with a nice surplus of money, at least more than you though you had. Since it was my Dad's birthday Saturday and Tax Free Weekend I took a solo trip to Tulsa. I never really think about if my dad wishes I was a bigger part of his life. I haven't been the best daughter but he hasn't been that great of a dad, I think that's how I prefer it. I decided to do something out of the ordinary and go see him on his birthday and I think it made him so, so happy. I gave him a gift card for his birthday and then he gave me a Promenade gift card for my birthday from a month ago, so it was pretty much an even trade. 

After I had lunch with my dad and stepmom I was off to do some shopping. I went to Old Navy and finally found some workout attire that I have been searching all summer for then I went to Woodland Hills mall. It was packed. So many people. I spent the minimum amount of time needed in there, but it happened. I got sucked into Teavana with their delicious samples and before I knew it I bought $85 worth of tea. So instead of waiting in the ridiculous lines at the American Eagle at Woodland Hills, I decided to spend my gift card and shop in peace at the Promenade. I've never done too much shopping at the Promenade, I never think to go anywhere else but Woodland Hills. Apparently I am not the only one that thinks that way. I got to the Promenade and it was pretty much empty compared to the other mall. After that was one, I stopped in Academy and went home. 

I really love going on shopping trips by myself, especially if I am on a mission or ready to do some serious shopping. I enjoy it because I can go where ever I want, when I want, and stay however long. Some people like to take a buddy so they can get a second opinion, but I usually never take their advice anyways. I also like going by myself so I can eat where ever I want, whenever I want, and drive completely out of the way if I want. Unfortunately I was pretty full from having lunch with my dad that I didn't fully utilize that. I had big plans of getting frozen yogurt, eating dinner at Chipotle, and getting a Jamba Juice before heading home but I was just not hungry enough to go back to 71st street to do all of that. 

Along side all of that shopping I did in Tulsa, I bought a new duvet set to match Rae's for our room in the fall (yes we're those roommates that have coordinating bedding) and Misty had a Premier Jewelry party tonight. I hadn't planned on buying much at the party, I don't wear much jewelry at all. But there were these 3 necklaces I just loved! I could not decide which to buy so of course I bought all 3. All 3 are just so "me". I'm predicting that I will actually have occasions to look nice once I'm back at school, unlike here, so I figured it would be a worthwhile purchase. I also haven't bought any jewelry in years, literally. I guess the money I spent makes of for all the years I hadn't made any jewelry purchases. 

Besides playing cards with the guys on a regular basis, buying new things is the most exciting thing that has been happening lately. I've got a big week coming up sort of. I am getting the exterior of my car fixed up hopefully tomorrow and then getting my wisdom teeth pulled Wednesday. I have put it off for about a year now so I better do it now before it gets more complicated and I will have it done before I head back to Providence. 

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moving On...in a month.

Today I received an email from the Resident Director for The Cove saying that my move in date has been pushed forward to Thursday Sept. 2 instead of Sunday the 4th. I requested that the date be moved earlier because I have already committed to helping with Freshman move-in that Saturday and Sunday. Deep down I was anticipating that the request wouldn't be processed and I would have as long of a summer as possible, but it is just now dawning on me that I just get to see Rae even sooner then planned.

Alright, I admit it openly here on my blog that I really miss Rae. Today I was talking to a few of my guy friends and I was asked if I were to get married tomorrow, who would be my maid of honor? I answered Rae without a doubt. Interesting how I have known her the least amount of time out of all of my friends, but I feel like she is going to be my close friend for a very long time. We are those sickingly close roommate/best friends. We are almost on the same level as those couples that just make you sick because they're such a good match. We motivate each other to be better, harder working people in every aspect. 

I decided to blog this right after I made the gushiest comment on her blog just now. I was slightly embarrassed about it after I posted it, but now I'm wondering shouldn't all friends be this way? Real friendships should be encouraging and supportive and be able to subject yourself to a little vulnerability. Do I have these same friendships here at home anymore? No one really needs me here anymore, they've adjusted to me being gone.  Most everyone else has obligations here because they live here full time. I have none. They have full time jobs, significant others, and even families of their own. This may very well be the last summer I spend at home. I think I needed this last summer to solidify that I will probably never live here for this extended bit of time again. It's been a pretty fantastic summer, I have been able to relax and do whatever I wanted to. It'll be good since my schedule will be CRAZY once school starts. I'm going to be a busy busy girl, I should take full advantage of this month of nothing to do.

So I've ended up going a bit of a different direction with this post. There's a little thoughts out of my head for the moment. Until next time...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lessons Learned: College Freshman Edition

1. Time management is key to success.
2. The difference between an ordinary student and an extraordinary student is that while they both procrastinate, the extraordinary student will not only get in done in time, they will get an A on it too.
3. The key to happiness is refusing to be unhappy.
4. You get nowhere in life by staying in your room and feeling sorry for yourself.
5. When you are employed as an adult you are no longer reprimanded for not doing your job well, you will just be judged silently...which is worse.
6. There should be a logical reason why a certain class in found in your degree plan, make sure you know what that is. If you learn that, there is no reason to fail.
7. Check your email and respond to them. You will forget about it later.
8. It's harder to keep up with your friends or become better friends when you are guaranteed by law to see them at school everyday.
9. Just because no one is telling you to go to bed doesn't mean you can stay up all night and not face the consequences.
10. Read you syllabus, good professors won't remind you about your midterm.
11. Network, network, network. How else will you get a job in this economy?
12. Learn to ask questions.
13. If you want something, ask for it. The worst thing they'll say in "no"
14. Volunteering is the best way to get experience, network, and a good reputation. (and you get free stuff)
15. The best way to adjust to new surroundings is to get involved.
16. With great power comes great responsibility.
17. A friendly email to a superior can open many doors.
18. Go to class. You paid for it.
19. There's nothing worse than being responsible and buying your textbook for class and finding out that you will never use it.
20. Always have a No. 2 pencil on you, you never know when you need one...and it comes in handy for when you have that surprise midterm you didn't know about because you didn't read the syllabus.
21. Get a real alarm clock. It's embarrassing to oversleep and be late.

I hope those might be of use to you. Stay posted for next year's edition of Lessons Learned. It's officially a tradition. Until next time...
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