Monday, August 19, 2013

2004 - 2008

Outside of my school in 2007 (RIP) 
This week is move-in week at Indiana University. I can't help but be a little jealous of all of the new students about to enter college. I still consider my time at IU the best years of my life. I wouldn't change a thing about what I have now, and I know that I'd have none of it if it wasn't for those four years that I spent learning about not only journalism, but life.

I became who I am today at that campus, met friends that are unmatched (some became colleagues!), made vital mistakes (in a somewhat safe environment), accrued a mountain of debt (that eventually made me a more responsible person) and challenged myself in ways that I didn't think I ever would. Not a day goes by that I don't think of something I learned or experienced between 2004 and 2008.

The choices I made there led me to my career, my husband, my hobbies... my life.

Good luck, new freshman. Welcome to the IU family. Don't waste a second of your time in college. It goes by too fast and you can't catch the same feeling ever again.

“I've learned one thing, and that's to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here - relax. Work is for people with jobs. You'll never remember class time, but you'll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on Wednesday. Spend money you don't have. Drink 'til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does.” - Tom Petty

Monday, July 29, 2013

happiness = a room full of kittens

Left to Right: Kelso, Kennedy, Kavan, Keegan
This year, I've been trying to bring more of what makes me happy into my life. One thing that has always made me happy is being around cats. I was a cat lady from a young age, from my very first cat (Boo-Boo) who brought years of happiness to my life and was literally rescued out of a tree by a local fireman (just like in books!) to my most recent cat (Jade) who had to move in with her grandmother due to my new boyfriend (now husband) being terribly allergic to her. I'm still not sure I made the right choice. Jade would have made a wonderful life partner. OK, I'm almost completely joking.

Given my hubs' allergies, we can't keep a cat. From time to time, I look at my two wonderful dogs and wish they'd purr. So, when I was given the opportunity to foster kittens (kittens small enough to stay in one confined area), I jumped on it. As most of you know, we purchased a house that is much bigger than we need right now. That means that we have a completely empty bedroom far away from any living space. Or, we did until it became the cat room.

I turned an empty bedroom into a cat paradise overnight and welcomed four 10-week old kittens into our home. For three weeks, I got up at the crack of dawn (a huge feat for me) to clean their litter box and whatever messes they'd made, feed them and play for a while before going to work. I drove home during lunches to let them climb on me and purr. I spent time in the evening with them, discovering each of their personalities. I found happiness in that room full of kittens.

Luckily, two of the kittens found good homes. The other two (Kelso and Keegan) are still patiently waiting while living in the free roaming cat room at the shelter. We'll be bringing a new litter into our home soon. While we can't keep them into adulthood, it is nice to watch them grow and have them be a part of our lives, even if only for a short time. Many people have told me fostering the kittens was such a nice thing to do. I tell them that it was a purely selfish endeavor. For me, happiness can be as simple as a room full of kittens.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pow! Pow!

Most of you know that I support strict gun control measures. I've been pretty vocal about that fact. Guns have never been a part of my life. But, about a year ago, a good friend of mine brought up the fact that we can't be against something we've never touched. Fear based on ignorance that leads to anger is something I despise, so we decided we were going to shoot some guns! We bought a Groupon for time at a shooting range and put off using it for a year. Yes, a year. The Groupon would have expired today. So, we used it on Sunday.

Yep, this photo sums it up.
I was terrified to say the least. My parents didn't even let my me and my brother own toy guns. BB guns were unheard of and ever touching a pistol seemed ridiculous. But, yet, there I was, being taught to load a gun while armed men stood shooting just feet away. After I'd asked if we could get targets that didn't look like people (the answer was no) and listened intently to the safety tips that my friend's good friend taught us, I was ready to fire the gun.

Even though I was wearing safety goggles, I didn't bother to ask why so I was more than a little shocked when a shell casing hit me in the face the first time I fired. But, I was able to hit the shoulder on my first try and the chest on my second try. I was proud, even though I yelled "Sorry, paper man!" more than once.

It was a good experience, and I'll probably go shooting again. I haven't changed my political stance on guns, but I am happy that I now know how to use one responsibly if the need ever arises and understand why so many people love the sport of shooting.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happiness in 2013

A lot went right for me in 2012. I now live in a beautiful home. I moved to the next stage of my career. I made tons of new friends and continued to grow my relationships with old ones. I spent time with my family as James and Lauren graduated after years of hard work. And, I was able to focus on my health and feel better than ever. There's really not a lot that I shouldn't be happy about. For that, I'm grateful.

I want to continue to grow that happiness in 2013 and that requires a lot of introspective thinking into what makes me most happy. As I mature, I want to eliminate the things that don't bring any value to my life and focus on the things that do.

Some goals incorporating the things I love:

  • Take meaningful steps toward graduate school (with the goal of starting in 2014)
  • Learn to cook
  • Take my career to a place that I'm not too comfortable but not too uncomfortable
  • Become a better wife and listen to Steve's needs more
  • Plan for a family
  • Be a better friend
  • Make our house a home and our own
  • Read the list of books that I promised myself I would
  • Volunteer for something I believe in passionately
  • Write because I love it, not just for work
  • Find exercise that I enjoy doing and will continue doing
Hold me to these goals for happiness. 2012 will be a hard to top, but I hope to do it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Journey Home

In 2009, Steve and I first toyed with the idea of buying a house. At the time, Greenwood seemed like the right place for us. We spent a day with a realtor looking at all that Greenwood had to offer in our price range - one that topped out relatively low. We didn't find the right place for us. I'm glad because, today, I wouldn't want to be trying to sell a small home in the Greenwood area. Although prices were low back then, our home wouldn't have had the things that we need to grow a family.

In early 2011, we looked into building. It seemed like such a fun process! We found an adorable neighborhood in Noblesville. At the last minute, when all the papers were almost signed, I changed my mind (much to Steve's disappointment). It didn't feel right and now, we see that it wasn't. The neighborhood was too far north for our current downtown jobs. That hour or more commute would have given us no time at home to enjoy the beautiful house we would have painstakingly designed.

In early 2012, we looked again. There were many houses we liked but nothing was THE ONE. We gave up our search and signed our lease for another six months.

When I got my new job in August, it became clear that we'd be in Indianapolis for a while. We decided this would be where we raise our family and grow our careers. So, the time was finally right to settle down into a good home. And finally, the search was on. This time for real with no trepidation about buying.

We looked at 10 houses, then five more, then five more and a couple of the ones we'd already looked at...
Our realtor no doubt wanted to fire us.

Then, one day, I was browsing through houses on the mini-website our realtor had set up when I found our future home. I saved it to our possibilities with a note that said, "I wouldn't be surprised if this was the one." And, I wasn't. We looked at it the next evening. I knew it would be our home when I heard Steve happily whistling upstairs as he walked around imagining all the things we could do to make it our own.

We thought we'd look at it one more time before making an offer, but after looking at pictures again and again, we couldn't wait. We made an offer and anxiously awaited a reply. Then, we made counter offer after counter offer and waited for replies. A little over a week later, we signed an offer and began the rest of the process.

We closed on October 17 and have loved our first two weeks of homeownership. We've already fixed up our living room and kitchen, bought rugs for the beautiful hardwood floors and introduced the dogs to their big backyard, the neighbors' chocolate lab and our new neighborhood. The past two weekends, our home has been filled with family as everyone pitches in to support us.

It took three years to get here, but it was worth the wait. We've finally gotten home.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Boo!

For NaNoWriMo this year, I've decided to write what horror writers should write best: a ghost story. I'm starting out by doing a little research on ghosts. I did some during my lunch break yesterday & am embarrassed to report that I was too scared to use the stairwell for the rest of the day. Old building. Eek!

I read a lot of really cool stuff. I'm intrigued by the stories of "white lady" ghosts. It seems like most cultures/areas have a version of this ghost, usually a woman in white who has tragically lost a husband or a fiance. Also, I was terrified to learn of some ghost stories from Read Hall at Indiana University.

A recap of one bone-chilling tale from IU:
A woman with long black hair and a bloody night gown is said to haunt Read Hall at Indiana University. Legend has it that her medical student boyfriend killed her with a scalpel and hid her body in one of the abandoned tunnels under the building. When questioned by the police, his guilt overcame him and he took them to the body. The woman’s ghost has been seen in several areas of Read Hall.

To think I studied in that creepy basement!

I am hopelessly afraid of ghosts. Yes, I firmly believe I've seen one (a story for another time). So, this November will be rather frightening for me, but it should make for a great story. Here's to entering into the spooky!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Sharp Objects

A friend bought me Sharp Objects for Christmas. She knows me well! I absolutely loved the book and read it quickly - a rarity for me, a hopelessly slow reader. I chose the book for our next book club meeting and can't wait to get feedback from all of the girls.

A short description from Amazon:
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

The book is full of both self-inflicted pain and sadistic hurt. Very similar to the themes I like to write, I found the content of the book inspiring & bone chilling. I did stare at the door of our bedroom until I couldn't keep my eyes open many nights. Why do I continually do this to myself?

I did feel that it was a little rushed at the end. A lot more could have went into uncovering the final twist (maybe that's the Stephen King fan in me talking - I'm used to 800 page mysteries.).

The book is truly creepy and psychologically thrilling. The writing is amazing. Each character comes to life subtly but perfectly. The book kept me thinking long after I closed it. It is a worthwhile read.