Updating is So Hard to Do

I hope you haven’t been checking back on the blog daily waiting for an update, and if you have I apologize 25 times– once for each day that you were so harshly robbed of the insights from my corner of the world.

Wow, that sounds a little ego-centric, huh? To think that the happiness of your day would revolve around me sharing my slightly sub-significant musings about homework and soy lattes. . . let’s check my big fat head at the door and start this over:

Hi! I’ve missed you, my faithful readers, even though I can’t really tell if you are reading or not. I still missed you and the idea that you are enjoying these words while you have some coffee/tea/orange juice in the morning.

Okay, I promised after that one marathon post I would never do that again. So I won’t update you on EVERYTHING that has happened in the last almost-month. Quickly, we’ll do some highlights. Hopefully it will satiate you Katie craving.

Highlights:
1. Vacation to Half Moon Bay, Calif. was Aaaaaaah-mazing. Amazing. “Yay yay wonderful” is about the extent to which I can articulate how fantastic it really was. I was definitely ready to give up my “real life” and become and organic farmer/artist and grow pumpkins, artichokes and olallieberries. Trust me, you want to click that link to Wikipedia and check out the wicked pedigree chart of the olallieberry.

2. School is crazy ( I think I say this every time). 14 credits is about 5 too many for a grad school semester, but I would never admit that (and you didn’t read it here). The CHE Ladies (my school group of friends) decided the other day that we only get 1 meltdown per semester and since I so foolishly wasted that in February, I have had no choice but to just bite the bullet and push through all of the work. In a more ethical school issue, I have a class that continues to reward me for bad behavior. I haven’t been working hard in the class at all, but I keep getting some ridiculously good grades. I know I shouldn’t complain, but I feel kind of guilty. However, I have gotten through this far without too much work and now that other things are picking up so dramatically I am not sure I can really dedicate any more time to the class anyway. But she literally gave me an A+ (which made me feel very much like I was in fourth grade, actually) for an assignment that I hardly remember writing.

3. Signed a lease on a new apartment in the Uptown area. This can be a quick update because the best thing about this is a handful of things: cute place, neat area, fun roommates, reasonably priced. All good.

4. This weekend I discovered the fine (and so delicious) line between a live fish and a dead raw fish. Live fish give me the absolute spine-tingling heebie-jeebies, but I tried sushi for the first time this weekend and I loved it. Now, I will admit that I was in excellent company and maybe that influenced my taste buds towards a preference for sushi, but raw fish is still raw fish. I am not sure that even being a little smitten for someone can overcome that if I really didn’t like it.

5. And, finally, two things in life are certain: death and taxes. Brought the taxes home and had an excellent, and very well-priced, tax-preparer file my taxes for me this year (thanks, Dad) and was pleasantly surprised at my return. It pays to be poor. . . once a year. Especially since the tax-preparer’s other employee makes a delicious chili (thanks, Mom).

Okay lovelies, Happy Monday and hopefully I will be back sooner rather than later. As long as something interesting happens to me.

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Today’s Episode Brought to You by the Number 16

I really hate doing the marathon updates like I did last time where you get stuck reading a narrative about what I find fascinating in my own life, even though I know it isn’t actually fascinating. So, today I thought I would try a “By The Numbers.” I was first introduced to the idea by the Star Tribune, who summarizes some of their biggest stories with a By The Numbers on the front page of the paper.

Six. The number of Mexican-themed meals I have consumed in the last seven days.

Nine. The number of hours worked at “The ‘Bou.”

Twenty-seven. The number of laps I swam Wednesday morning.

Five. The number of loads of laundry that still need to be completed tonight. Yikes.

Five and a half. The average number of hours of sleep per night this week. Thanks a lot, Midterms. . .

Three. The estimated number of POTS of coffee (10 cups per pot) I consumed this week. This may explain the previous entry.

Twenty-eight. The length of time (in minutes) that it is supposed to take an ‘express’ load of laundry to wash.

Forty-two. The actual length of time (in minutes) of an ‘express’ load. (There is nothing express about being tardy, Maytag, nothing.)

Six hundred, twenty-three. The number of times I thought about chocolate cake this week. I assure you, this is not exaggerated.

Six. The number of classes attended this week.

Four. Number of classes enjoyed this week.

One. Number of days until I leave for California.

Eight. The current setting on the electric blanket.

Seventeen. The number of minutes that could have gone to something productive (like 5 loads of laundry) that instead went to this update.

A Month in Review– Sorry!

Hmmm, the whole point of a blog is to actually update on a regular basis so I don’t have to come here on the eve of a month of absence and try to pick out what have been the highlights of the month to share with you. For all of this time I think Wow, I don’t really do anything that people will want to read about. And then it has been a month and I feel like there is so much to share! I will try to keep it concise (a skill I struggle with in academic and personal writing ALL the time).

Let’s see, the last entry was the beginning of a minor and expected lapse in mental health– it is grad school after all, this gets hard sometimes! And I surprised myself by realizing I had gotten homesick even though I live so much closer to the family than I have in the last 4 years. Regardless, I had to push through the stress and rewarded myself with an end-of-the-week mini-vacation in Lakeville. I needed that in a major way– I reconnected with all my favorite people: Bridget, Mom and Dad, Kim and Erik, and even myself a little bit. I logged some serious hours in the basement working on a painting (more on that later) and I forgot how wonderful painting is for my mental health. Very few activities relax me and energize me with such calculated balance as putting on some loud music and mixing color.

When most jeans get the kiss of death due to an ill fit or massive hole, mine get labeled “PAINT” so I remember not to wear my nice pants to art in. Because they all end up looking like this:Things at Caribou have been going well and I am getting promoted to Shift Supervisor. Ha! This after I did a few choice things at work:

1. Brewed a full pot of coffee into an already full pot of coffee. All that does is create overflow– and 1.5 gallons of coffee on the floor. Classy. . .
2. Spilled an entire bag of beans into a whole bunch of beans that have been measured to brew. Well, you can’t have a mix so EVERYTHING has to be trashed and remeasured. Excellent. . .
3. I worked the bar for the first real time this morning. I miscreated 6 drinks. Okay, so I probably made 30-40 correctly, but I don’t like doing things wrong.

So basically, I am pretty surprised that after less than a month of working there I am getting promoted, but at this rate I will own Caribou in about 14 months. I’ll be sure to get you a discount when I get there. . .

This is already getting long, and there is definitely more coming. Seeing as we just discussed Caribou Coffee, why don’t you go ahead and brew yourself a pot and come back to the blog after you get a cup. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

That feels better, huh? Okay, let’s continue through 28 Days of Katie:

Went to the water exhibit at the Science Museum with the family and I really liked it. It was interesting because Kim sure knows a lot about the science of water and the ooogie-booogies in it, and I am much more interest in the social aspect of water (wasting clean water, access to water, responsible use and storage, etc.) and it seemed to be a fun balance of those two things. We also saw the Goosebumps exhibit about fear and that was pretty cool. I was a ‘fraidy-cat and wouldn’t do some of the activities. I have never really considered someone who is scared of much, but a lot of these had to do with being surprised and I don’t like creepy or scary surprises. Only good onces. Like cake. That’s a good surprise.

My SPH friends and I finally had a much needed “girls night” after a crazy week of projects and we saw the movie He’s Just Not That Into You. If you want a fairly comprehensive recap of the Katie dating train, sometimes going recklessly full speed ahead, whistle a-blowin’ and sometimes painfully derailed, just watch that movie. It was interesting– and the fun part of seeing it with a group of good friends is that we have watched each other go through a lot of the situations in the movie.

Went to a formal hosted by the School of Dentistry about mid-month (Shivan, one of the roommates, is a dental student) which was affectionately dubbed “Tooth Prom.” A good friend from NDSU, Steve, came down for the event and we had a wonderful time. Steve and Shivan have been friends forever probably, and it is fun for me to spend time with them and have some cohesiveness between Fargo friends and Minneapolis friends. We had dinner at Palomino downtown, which is a little out of my price range for regular dining, but for a big event it was great fun. Remember the discussion about good surprises? Dinner here would fit well in that category.

Have another cup of coffee. Really, I am not done yet. I have a lot to share, and I try not to skip the finer details. They really make the story. So really, do a yoga pose or two. I’ll be here when you get back. . .

I guess there are maybe just two more topics. . . and since one is about art (aren’t all my posts about art in some way these days?) I can make it shortish. The painting I worked on at home? I sold it. Well, I made it specifically to be sold. It is going to habitate on the wall of a classmate who saw the sketches of my Spoonbridge and Cherry and wanted a big painting. So, here it is:

Don’t get too attached (this means you, Katie Muehe) because she is, in fact, leaving. It’s a major milestone though– first painting I have ever sold. Feels kind of cool. Makes me a professional, sort of.

Last topic (I am going to save one for a later post in case this week is ultra-dull or something): The Spoonbridge and Cherry was disassembled this week so the cherry could be cleaned and repainted. Seeing as this is one of my favorite places (which should be obvious by the number of times it appears in some format in this blog), I went to take some pictures and enjoy another wintry afternoon at the Walker. I will leave you with these photos. By this time you might be on your second pot of coffee. . . or maybe you won’t even make it this far in the blog entry, wishing I would have just said “The last month has been busy, love you!” Sorry, that’s just not my style– you know that.

The last month has been really busy. Love you all!

The Higher You Are, the Harder You Fall

I have always had personal issues with confidence– overconfidence, that is. Overconfidence is kind of a funny thing because I don’t believe that we should neglect or be embarrassed by the things we are talented at or have worked hard to achieve. For example, sometimes it is kind of hard or embarrassing to discuss intelligence or academic achievement with people (especially friends who are not at the same level academically), and while I may gloss over my actual scores and grades when I talk to people, I refuse to allow other people to think I am not smart or that I am not proud of high test scores, a remarkable undergrad GPA, and getting into a competitive Masters program. But even that last sentence makes me sound a little full of myself. It’s not an ego-stroke, its a confidence issue. Overconfidence has been a blessing to me in a lot of ways– I have tried new things, I have stood up to and for people, I’ve demanded to be heard, and I’ve earned a lot of respect for using my confidence wisely.

Sometimes I don’t use it wisely at all, and those moments lead to some of the best misadventures the modern mugwump has yet to experience.

On numerous occasions in high school I utilized my overconfidence to beat a point to death (i.e. “Hey Romans, Christianity is swell, but I really appreciate that you invented democracy and I would judge that to be the best contribution you made to the modern world. Don’t get me wrong, yay Jesus and all, but allowing me a voice in how my world is created and controlled is a little cooler”).

Unfortunately for the NDSU administrative staff, they all have a few more grey hairs after my overconfident wrecking-ball of a self made some reasonable demands, er, requests from the school. For instance, if I get a letter that says you cancelled my scholarship despite 3 consecutive 4.0 semesters and no one will fix it, I create appointments out of thin air. And if you can’t reasonably work out why it might have been stupid to send official pre-graduation documents that were time-sensitive to my home address 270 miles from my local address, overconfidence may make me believe that its reasonable to sit in your office for 2 hours until you fix it.

And overconfidence hasn’t just struck in my academic life, it has seeped into my personal life as well. All the stories of my youth seem to end in “And then Katie took her toys and went home because no one would play by her rules.” Okay, that might be more controlling than confidence, technically, but I think in those situations they went hand-in-hand. And later in life my overconfidence really shined through in a break up in which a fairly nice gentleman who had stopped being fairly nice for about a week, finally had the guts to actually end our courtship (we were definitely NOT in a relationship) by saying I was a nice girl, but he just didn’t really like me. My response was not one of hurt feelings or acceptance that he just wasn’t in to me. Instead I honestly said to him, “That’s not true. It’s something else because NO ONE doesn’t like me. Everyone likes me. You maybe aren’t attracted to me, but you like me– everyone does.” I cannot believe I said that, but even more embarrassing is that I definitely believed that, and I still sometimes do.

And while I will continue to be overconfident and say things similar to “Driving is easy, anyone can do it” and then fail similar things to a driver’s test, this week has been a good lesson in the practicality of “The higher you get, the harder you fall.”

Last semester was punctuated with phrases such as, “Grad school is a little more difficult, and I have to work a bit harder, but I was definitely up to the intellectual challenge and if you pay attention it’s really a breeze.” And then the 4.0 of my first grad school semester rolled in and I wasn’t even on Cloud 9. I built myself such a gorgeous pedestal of awesomeness, that Cloud 9 was simply a spec below my feet. I mean, really, a 4.0 in grad school? You can just go ahead and sign the diploma now.

Ahhh, second semester: this verse just like the first, eh?

CRASH!

Gravity was a little stronger than I remembered, because when that pedestal cracked earlier this week I missed Cloud 9 because I blinked on my way back to earth. Long story short of this semester: I can see that the words are English, and I can see that my professor is human, and I even recognize the meaning of some of the words by themselves, but when they talk or I read I have no idea what’s going on. And my friendly shadow, Overconfidence, led me into a project that is maybe a little bigger than I was ready for. But Pride, the buck-toothed first cousin of Overconfidence, won’t allow me to pick something easier. There is a lot to do, in a little amount of time (which is, of course, why I am blogging and not doing homework). I got a little overwhelmed, and I would say it almost got to me today. But then the good parts of overconfidence came rushing in like little EMT’s with a stretcher and reminded me that not everyone goes to grad school and it is an honor to be in such a wonderful program. I am smart enough to be here, and I will make it through this. And I was foolish for thinking it would be easy. Nothing this expensive is ever easy. Except vacation. Which this is not. And if nothing else, at least they like me– everyone likes me. 😀

Things I Am and Things I Am Not

I am:
1. A serious student.
Wow, I have 14 credits this semester, which is a lot for grad school. In truth though, one of the classes is only 2 Saturdays and one is only the second half of the semester. It’s all manageable and I love what I do at school. A lot of times when I get home at the end of the day I am absolutely electrified about what we have talked about in class during the day. A lot of my classes right now focus on planning and evaluating health programs, which is certainly key to what I will someday do in my career, but they are very information-dense courses. In the evil step-sister corner of my public health education is a second semester of biostatistics. Mathematics and I get along well, however this semester brings on SAS. Unfortunately, this is not ‘sass,’ as I have already mastered being sassy. This is statistical programming software that taunts me with error messages every time I try to run my program, resulting in my squinting at the screen, combing through every entry in search of the one forgotten semi-colon (out of dozens of code lines). Because without that single semi-colon, the program tailspins into mathematical destruction. Gah.

2. A Caribou Coffee Barista. Yup. I started work this last week at Caribou Coffee near Uptown. I am still learning the ways of the job, but its a job and I am very thankful to have a little income right now. I have been working early mornings twice a week and that is definitely an adjustment, but it feels very doable. I am definitely tired at the end of the day, but I can also afford to take some naps on the days that I work so early.

3. A Nanny. Well, I haven’t really started but I have also been hired to nanny for about 3 hours a weekend for a Minneapolis family. The kiddos are cute and the family is so wonderfully flexible with my school and work schedule. My first job with them is actually cat-sitting while they are in DisneyWorld. I wouldn’t mind a trip to DisneyWorld.

I am not:
1. A Natural-Born Swimmer.
I started swimming this morning with some of the lovely ladies I go to school with and we are planning on going twice a week for the semester. I don’t exactly know what I would say about what happened in that pool this morning, but I swim about as well as a one-legged stone duck. The positive side? Swimming (or thrashing in a general direction through the water) is an excellent workout, I had fun with the girls, and I can only get better. Because if I get worse, I will probably drown. Also, this training brings me that much closer to my goal of completing a triathlon this summer. Five months to go!

2. Immune to the Winter Cold. All that training from four years of living in Fargo is absolutely gone– if the temperature dips below ten degrees I don’t even want to leave my house. I have spent more time with my electric blanket than any other possession in the last week. I love that silly thing. It can warm up any time now.