The Single Greatest Expression of Mugwump Joy

The One-Woman Dance Party.

I often leave Facebook status updates when I am hosting the one-woman dance parties (complete with updated guest list) and a friend yesterday commented that I seem to have those often. And then it dawned on me that perhaps not everyone does this? At least, not with regular frequency.

I am no stranger to being an anomaly, regardless of the company I keep, so I can’t say that I am necessarily surprised or disappointed that I have found an activity that I love that most people don’t do (and maybe wouldn’t even consider). I mean, really, let’s just tack the one-woman dance party at the end of: painting, geocaching, running holiday-themed 5Ks, eating frozen grapes, sleeping with a light on, talking to strangers, etc.

And I can think of a host of reasons people do not throw themselves dance parties:

1. You are committed, and thus always have a dance partner.
2. You believe you are a terrible dancer.
3. You find better things to do with your time or do not feel as if you have time for such silliness.
4. The idea of having any fun whatsoever makes you want to peel your own skin off.

If you fall into the 4th category, I cannot help you and we maybe shouldn’t really hang out. Because I will make you want to peel your skin off– I can be kind of a firecracker.

But I think more people should engage in the one-woman (or one-man, we don’t judge here) dance party. First, let’s refute reasons 1-3 why you may not, and then I will give you ALL the reasons I think you oughta. You really oughta.

1. You’ve found someone to share all things with, including your dance party time. Uh, yeah, this is lame. Well, dating/relationships/marriage/whatever the kids call it these days may not be lame, but you have to be alone SOME of the time right? If you are spending every minute with that person, I think your dance-party hosting capabilities should be at the bottom of your list of concerns. We all need some space from significant others, friends, roommates, family, whomever. Take your space, clear it out, and dance like crazy in it. This is not to suggest that small group dance parties are unfun or unacceptable– they just aren’t quite the same, are they?

2. You believe you are a bad dancer. OF COURSE YOU ARE A BAD DANCER! How do you think you got that way? Lack of practice, i.e. not enough solo dance parties. Well, I have had a lot of solo dance parties and I am still a bad dancer, but that’s because I just keep practicing bad skills. Solo dance parties are the ultimate safety zone where all bad dance moves magically become good (in a related note, not knowing the right lyrics to songs also becomes cool here). The running man? Excellent choice. Moonwalking, or pretending to? Crowd pleaser. Perhaps you don’t even know these moves– it’s okay, just shake about (there are even good songs for this, namely Rooney’s “I’m Shakin'” and Metro Station’s “Shake It”).

3. You find better things to do with your time or do not believe you have the time. Average song length, is let’s say 3 minutes, but probably not even right? And the oldies, those gems are a little shorter. You don’t have 3 minutes? Bollucks. You found 2 to brush your teeth this morning, you can find 3 to drop it like its hot this afternoon. You may have to be strategic a bit– I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this in the middle of a large work meeting or exam (those three minutes belong to someone else). But right when you get home is an excellent time or right before bed. Or for the entire time between “just got home” and “going to bed,” if you prefer.

Like I said earlier, if you have an aversion to fun, I really can’t do much for you other than suggest an attitude readjustment.

Other reasons I solo dance party:

1. Do it for health. An adult needs a solid 60-90 minutes of moderate intensity activity a day to maintain or lose weight. 60 minutes is 20 songs, and you will be surprised how that time flies.

2. It’s a good stress reliever. There is little better than taking a few minutes to literally drown out the world around you with some blasting music in your headphones and just do your own thing. This is not a long-term coping mechanism, although I do dance party more when I am at either emotional extreme, but for a few minutes to decompress and gather yourself I think it is totally appropriate.

3. It’s inherently funny. I like to pretend that my dance moves are good, but deep down I know they are not, and thus the dance party becomes ridiculously entertaining. People enjoy others who can laugh at themselves. If you aren’t comfortable doing that now, the solo dance party will help get you there in a hurry.

4. There is nothing wrong with being totally comfortable and at peace with yourself. Really, at the end of the day, there are few people I would rather celebrate my day with than myself. We all have our insecurities and issues, our hang ups, blow ups, frustrations, and disappointments. Accept them and dance them out. And with the potential exception of getting “busted,” which is slightly embarassing but mostly hilarious, no one is going to see you. And if you can’t dance with yourself, who can you dance with?

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Euphemism of the Day

George Carlin once had a great piece about euphemisms and how we use them to weaken and water-down things that are bad. While we don’t feel as bad about them anymore, we do a great injustice to those situations and states and the people who endure them. It really is an excellent piece, and so I thought I would take note from the great philosopher, Mr. Carlin, and discuss a euphemism that certainly applies to my life today. It does not, however, have the great social power that Carlin’s discussion had. But any of you who have dabbled through a quarter-life crisis will still relate, I am sure.

Transition, when applied to one’s life. As in, “Little Tommy is just living at home for a while again as he transitions to the next phase of life.” Yeah, Little Tommy is 38 and eats cheese puffs in his parents basement playing World of Warcraft for 16 hours a day, stopping only to wash his face and fingers in Mountain Dew.

Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with the following things: being 38, basements, parents, cheese puffs (I happen to be a fan myself), Mountain Dew, or video games. It is the unique unification of these things that often has disturbing and undateable results.

Transition sounds nice. Just as springtime could be considered the transition between the harsh winter and the welcoming summer. But even from the weather we learn what transition really means.

I have no idea what the hell is going on.

There. That’s the big secret. That’s what “transition” means. It isn’t some great metamorphosis (at least not intentional) into something bigger and better than you already are. Let’s examine the weather example first before we extrapolate this idea to the life of a quarter-lived Mugwump.

Springtime in Minnesota- the transition from winter to summer. In a planned, gradient-esque manner, as we often think of a transition, springtime would be marked by a steady increase in temperature, getting slightly warmer each day than the day before. It would perhaps get slightly sunnier each day in a similar fashion. Regardless, it would continue to make forward progress towards the warm, sunny, watermelon-y summer we love. But it doesn’t do that. Instead, we get a first peek at summer with a nice, balmy 60 degree day. Things green up a little– how lovely the slight breeze through our hair feels. We may even brave driving with the window down. Ahh, the transition starts and we begin to look forward to the steady climb towards summer.

The following 30 days, starting around the middle of April go something like this: blazing hot, rain, rain, rain, barely above freezing, ahhhh 65, BLIZZARD WARNING, blazing hot, winds that make jet engine blasts feel slight and delicate, torrential downpour followed by freezing rain, hot and humid, hot and humid, snow, ahhh 65. Lather, rinse, repeat. For weeks.

All of a sudden your closet is bursting at the seams because in the same day you may wear a tank top and shorts, a sweater, a snow suit, your swim suit, and have to change your socks six times because your shoes keep filling with snow/water/ice. This is not a transition; this is a laundry-costs-a-dollar-a-load nightmare.

And all these cute “transitions” in life we all fawn over as if we are caterpillars becoming butterflies are no less chaotic. By the way, a lot of caterpillars get eaten in their little coccoons while becoming butterflies. Think about it, chewy gooey middle and a crunchy outer shell. What predator wouldn’t eat that?! Not so romantic anymore, is it?

The life “transition” of a modern mugwump is that awkward stage (marked by the sum of the years between birth and death) where things are chaotic and stressful and stupid decisions seem right and the right decisions seem stupid. But, secretly, it is kind of fun. I am beginning to feel that transition, for me, is not a series of phases that bridge the gap from one big thing to the next. The crave for change and novelty in my life is so strong that I think I will probably transition forever.* This changing from one thing to the next, it isn’t gentle and fun like we think transitions should be. And what a joke to discuss the idea that moving from childhood to adulthood feels natural and comes easily.

George Carlin discussed shell shock in his euphemism skit, and how we call it all kinds of things that got cuter and cuter as the years went on. Shell shock, battle fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder. As if shell shock was similar to having too much to do in a short amount of time at work, please. It is our basic language restructuring that lets us downplay what other people are going through when we could not possibly understand their situation. Maybe if we called transition what it really was (“absolute nightmarish chaos” works for me) some of us students wouldn’t get so much flack for “putting off the real world” or “having it easy.” There is nothing unreal or easy about racking up thousands of dollars in student loan debt to write grant proposals that are 50% of your grade in a must-pass in order to go on fashion. It is sometimes a very vulnerable feeling to know that amid all the chaos your chewy gooey middle isn’t well protected.

*I had a friend read/edit this before it went up and she said “Aaaahahaha, you’ll always have a gooey middle, then.” Thanks, pass the bag of Oreos.

PS. I apologize that this post is a bit disjointed– I wrote it over several days, section by section. It doesn’t flow well all the time, but I still wanted to share. Perhaps it is simply a good reflection of the week’s craziness.

WhoTube?

That’s right, it’s WhoTube now, as in “who hacked my YouTube account, and why on earth would you?” And like I wasn’t gonna figure it out. . . it’s like you don’t even know this Mugwump.

Okay, the hacker probably doesn’t know me. And I don’t know if this would qualify as a “hacking,” per se, because this really involves no sensitive information. It does, however, affect my viral video viewing habits.

I looked for a synonym of “habit” that started with a V for a 4-V alliteration phrase, which would have been absolutely epic for a Sunday night. I looked for an embarassingly long time online, but came up with nothing. I am sorry the use of the word “habit” is such a let down at the end of that sentence.

In light of my hacking experience at YouTube, I have created a “How to Know if Someone Unknown to You has Tampered With Your YouTube Account” to share with you. I will dispense my knowledge here.

1. Log in to your personal account at YouTube.com.

2. Look at your “Recommended for You” videos on the homepage.

3. Say to yourself, “Huh, some of these videos seem like odd recommendations. I have never searched or watched this kind of stuff on YouTube before.”

4. Accept that YouTube is a giant, twisted web of videos that sometimes connect in funny ways. For example, in a search for something simple like moon landing, you first get the following video of the actual moon landing:

But if you continue to click on the recommended videos that pop up in the viewer after the video is over, eventually you get:

I came to the Open Eyes Sneeze Mythbusters clip after only watching 3 videos after the moon landing. 4 degrees of separation between the moon landing and an open-eyed sneeze? It’s a video web on the virtual web. . .

5. Okay, so accepting that sometimes videos are linked in strange ways, it is not unusual to get some strange recommendations.

6. So here is where your super-sleuthing skills are important. Vital, really. You must now find how your “favorite” videos could possibly be related to the videos recommended. I will give you an example of one of my pairings and perhaps you can see if you can find a link.

A favorite video of mine:

Yeah, a puking kitty. Really?

So, if you hacked my YouTube, stop searching kitties. Search cool stuff. Like stop motion music videos and the Make Art series. Or maybe something I haven’t thought of. But not puking cats or romantic wedding proposals or animated nursery rhymes.

Google: Making Us All Hypochondriacs Since 1998

If you Google any combination of the following symptoms:

– Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
– Headache
– Stiffness in neck and back
– Slight fever
– Aches
– Fatigue

You may have the following diseases:
– Cat scratch fever (I didn’t even know this was real)
– Mononucleosis
– Lyme disease
– Scarlet fever
– Tuberculosis
– Plague (this has to be my personal favorite)
– Lymphoma (cancer in your lymphatic system/immune system)

So, since Google has been right about so many other things, I was sure that I had some unheard of, chronically fatal, mega-disease (which I have recently termed ‘Cat Scratch Scarlet Plague-oma, with Lyme’). Somewhere in my ridiculously hectic weekend I found some time to at least see a nurse practitioner, hoping they would be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of my certain death. You would never BELIEVE the diagnosis. . .

“You’re tired. And not getting enough sleep. And maybe not eating as well as you could be. Go home, take a nap and eat an apple. If your lymph nodes are still swollen in ten days or symptoms get worse, make an appointment to see the doctor.

And stop Googling your symptoms.”

And no lies on that last line, he honestly said that. So, so far I have not woken up dead and I feel that I am on the road to recovery.

“Oh, it’s safe to go into ventricular fibrillation here. Don’t worry.”

Seeing as I complain all the time about school eating things I value– time, social life, sleep, sanity– let me introduce you to what I am actually doing at the School of Public Health this semester.

Semester Two: The Sleeping Giant of Semester Projects

For the duration of the semester, many of my classes focus on a semester project, where each assignment is one more step towards a completed product to turn in at the end. Community Health Theory and Practice II, my major’s core course, has plunged me feet-first into the world of sudden cardiac arrest and automated-external defibrillators (AEDs). This topic of my choice is not really related to emergency preparedness, I know. Here’s why: when one is first learning the public health model and the theories we use to justify behavior change and message creation, it is advantageous to use a topic that closely fits the public health model and that fit is supported by empirical research. This is not the case for emergency preparedness. So, while I love emergencies, I was not interested in absolutely mutilating my self-confidence in my ability to learn this semester by choosing a topic that was going to require so much work to justify why it even fits as a part of public health, much less completing the assignment tasks.

I had no idea how ridiculously interesting sudden cardiac arrest and the role of AEDs would be. I mean, the role of an AED in a cardiac incident is pretty straightforward– it saves lives. But some of the statistics I have come across are astonishing and certainly point to the need for more people to be trained in AED use. For example, while sudden cardiac arrest typically only strikes 450,000 people in the US each year (this is really not high compared to people diagnosed with other diseases such as cancers or STDs), 95 percent of people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest will die within 4-6 minutes of the occurrence of irregular heartbeat. Sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack, although many people who have a heart attack later go into cardiac arrest. A victim of sudden cardiac arrest has no warning signs or symptoms of heart trouble until they simply faint with no heartbeat. Most people who suffer from a sudden cardiac incident are young adults in their mid-thirties to mid-forties and are in all visible ways healthy.

Like I said earlier, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest has approximately 4-6 minutes before permanent death sets in. Serious health complications can certainly begin to set in earlier than the 4-minute mark. Each minute that passes from onset of irregular heartbeat reduces the victim’s chance of survival by 7-10 percent. However, the average response time of emergency medical responders is 11 minutes in the best conditions. So, add some urban traffic, road construction, or a rural location and that response clock begins to tick away potential heartbeats.

My project is designing a program that ensures that all employees at selected high-incidence locations (health clubs and golf courses to start in the pilot program) are trained to use an AED. The program also begins a coalition to build support for legislation that requires AEDs in high-incidence locations in the state of Minnesota. The state currently only has two laws related to AEDs on the books. The first includes AED use in the Good Samaritan Law and the second is a funding earmark to make it easier for AEDs to be present in squad cars of local and county law enforcement. Great laws, or at least a good start. But it really isn’t enough. And in fact, AED placement isn’t enough. We do see AEDs in a lot of public locations. After starting this project, I am hypersensitive to them and every time I notice one in a public place I usually say something about it. However, an American Heart Association survey showed just how ineffective simply increasing access to AEDs has been in increasing their use. 89 percent of the respondents said they would be willing to provide help if they were on the scene of a medical emergency, but only 15 percent felt confident to use an AED. Unfortunately, bystanders used an AED as a lifesaving technique only 2 percent of the time in all public sudden cardiac arrest incidents.

AED training programs allow people to get familiar with the technology and practice using it outside of the hysterics of an actual emergency. The training is really not at all about giving people the skills to use an AED because spoken and illustrative instructions in several languages make the device terribly easy to use. Instead, the training is focused on giving people the confidence to use the device and understand that they cannot actually do harm to a sudden cardiac arrest victim by using an AED. While no medical device is flawless, advanced technology in the AED is designed to distinguish ventricular fibrillation (the irregular heartbeat characteristic of sudden cardiac arrest) and will not deliver an electrical shock unless that rhythm is detected and the device can determine that the pads are correctly placed on the individual. In fact, instead of lawsuits claiming that AEDs are dangerous or have done harm, there is a recent trend in lawsuits filed because a business or event venue did not have an AED on site.

My most recent assignment for this class regarding AED use was to submit a draft of my program implementation plan, a budget, and a budget justification. I have never done these things before, so I am sure they are really rough and I accidentally overlooked a lot of things, but I certainly feel I am learning a lot. In some ways, by using a real topic of interest, it feels a bit like trial by fire, but I will be happy to have these skills in the “real world.”

I am using the same topic in my Skills for Policy Development class, where I am learning to create different documents and use different communication outlets to support two Minnesota statutes that would “encourage” AED training in high schools are part of the regular health education curriculum. I think the passage of these bills into law is kind of a long-shot, although it doesn’t require any additional state funding. I just don’t think it is on the minds of legislators this session.

I am taking a host of other classes, one which has a semester long project as well. It is not exciting and certainly NOT worth spending my free time writing about. My feelings about that class: Worst three hours of my week. Ever.

Speaking of all these classes, I guess it is time to go back to my eventful Saturday night of peer reviewing and editorial revisions. Ahhh, livin’ the dream, livin’ the dream.

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.

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.