Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Time to Chill

Last weekend, I was ready to bang my head against the wall. It was Saturday, and I was trying my hardest to work ahead and study for a Tuesday test. Who knew it was possible to study before the last minute? So I'm diligently working my way through the review material and things are going fine until I meet problem number 4 in chapter 5. Solving this problem requires use of a concept I have seen before, so I quickly work the problem to arrive at ... the wrong answer. I think I know what went wrong, so I erase like crazy and try again. And again. And AGAIN. Seriously? Still wrong?!!?

I find myself in a resentful state of mind: if I'm going to spend my Saturday night doing homework, it would be nice if I at least accomplish something. Because I can think of a LOT of other things I would rather be doing.

After several failed attempts with no greater insight into the cause of the wrong answer, I give up. I turn to something that calms my mind and helps me relax: I spend time creating. This is a dangerous alternative, as anyone who creates anything knows, because creating something wonderful can be difficult. The desired effect can be elusive. But I risk it because I just can't deal with my calculator anymore. Luckily, odds were in favor of success in this pursuit: I decided to make some homemade greeting cards, and I was already in possession of some fabulous raw materials.

There is satisfaction in overcoming a challenge and arriving at that "aha" moment when everything comes together. There is intrinsic reward in working hard. But sometimes, I crave more immediate success. Sometimes I need to accomplish something without relying on the resources within every last brain cell. Sometimes, it's nice to start something you know you can finish well.

I didn't get any more homework done on Saturday night, but the cards I made became birthday gifts at our family party on Sunday. Best of all, I went to bed relaxed and satisfied with my accomplishments. Later, a friend from class was able to enlighten me and point out the very basic mistake in my calculations, thereby putting me back on track to being prepared for Tuesday. And the detour wasn't so bad either.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

You know someone is a true friend when...

...they call to tell you about a great shoe sale! For whatever reason, Crocs was having a huge warehouse sale near where I live, for four days only. My friend called me on Thursday, the first day, to tell me about it. I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to make it to that part of town, and I admit I was skeptical that it would be worth an extra trip. But this afternoon I was able to stop by because I had another errand literally right across the street. So why not?

Well... four pairs of Crocs later, I'm pretty excited about my finds. The silver pair, which exactly replaces a pair I've completely worn out, was only $5!!! Holy cow!! I'd been planning to buy a pair of the flip flops for this summer, but for the regular full price of one pair, I got two pairs with enough leftover for... well, more shoes! Thanks Dorissa!!!

The sale also had boxes and boxes of Jibbitz, the little decorations for Crocs. I've been wanting some, and when I found this cute little turtle, I couldn't resist.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Book: Twilight

I just had to read this book and see what all the fuss was about. I mean, if millions of people are reading it, it must be good, right?

Perhaps if I was seventeen again, this would be exactly the kind of story I would love. Perhaps if I was seventeen again, I wouldn't be as terribly pragmatic as I am today, and would be able to overlook the problematic aspects of falling in love with a vampire. Like the Sweet Valley High books I read when I was in high school, this romance satisfies the ideal romance that the average seventeen-year-old might have: stolen glances across the cafeteria, passing notes during class and who is going to invite you to prom. Only the guy happens to be a vampire.

Perhaps if I was seventeen again, I would be able to overlook more than 300 pages of what seemed like relatively mediocre writing to reach the point where the plot was interesting enough to qualify as a page-turner. The early chapters of this book definitely had me wondering what the millions were thinking. Not that I claim to be a brilliant writer, but I'd like to think I can identify it now and then... and rightfully conclude that this wasn't it. I may be a bit harsh as the book was written for high-schoolers, and therefore my expectations may have been too high; but I've lost count of the number of my contemporaries who rushed out to see the movie when it was released recently.

Although single, my 30something idea of romance is quite a bit different than it was when I was seventeen. Yes, I would love it if you send me flowers and magically save my life when I'm in imminent peril, but will you help me navigate the daily challenges of life and love? A romantic walk in the woods is nice, too, and if you're a good kisser like the book's hero, all the better... but if you don't happen to be human, I'm just not seeing a long-term future for us.

So that said, the debate is on: to read or not to read the rest of the series? This book would have been a great light read for a long plane ride or afternoon on the beach, so the next time I am anticipating that kind of free time, I might reach for number two. After all, the teaser chapter at the end of book one did kind of capture my interest. Once I got the the good part, I really couldn't wait to see how it ended, and I admit I'm kind of curious to know what happens next.

by Stephenie Meyer
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Random things

Three weeks have gone by since I've taken time to stop by here. I've lost track of how many times I've thought, "I should blog about this!" but then clearly haven't done it. So here's some random things I've been up to.

I saw He's Just Not That Into You a few weeks ago. GREAT cast, it was fun to see so many famous faces, and let's just say that the dating advice was actually decent. I'm guessing most guys wouldn't have much appreciation for this movie, but I give it a general recommendation.

Yesterday I went to the local second-run theater to see Bride Wars, which was cute. Again, great cast, but the ending was WAY too neat and cliche, even for a chick flick. I really like Candice Bergen, and I think it would have been fun to see more of her.

I went to the beach today to help with a beach cleanup day. Why is it that people think things like their gum and cigarette butts and empty bottles and cans aren't trash? Our group also found lots of icky unmentionable things, as well as a poker chip, old pillow, a military ID (oops!), clothes, plastic bags, etc. Particularly interesting was how much trash there was to be found on the ground right next to the trash can. Hello? If you miss the trash can while doing your Michael Jordan routine, pick it up and try again.

My dad turned 60 last month and we surprised him with a family lunch. He thought he was going to Bible study, and "Surprise!" what ARE all these people doing here?

My SIL turned 30 a couple weeks ago and we celebrated with a fabulous dinner out. I decided to get crafty and made her birthday gift (at right.)

I finished reading Twilight. Review coming soon. I admit I'm kind of tempted to see the movie just to see what they did with it... and to see if perhaps by chance the movie is sometimes better than the book.

I've made it through several tests already this semester and it seems to be going well. The hardest one so far was last week, and I did better than expected. I'm learning that it pays off to use every available minute to work on the test. I was one of the last people to leave, but I know some of those questions I only got right because I worked on them three times.

This week's stock market rally has been good news for my imaginary portfolio... now only down about 1% from when the project started.

I visited the Nixon Library and Museum two weeks ago and got to walk through the helicopter that was used by Nixon during his presidency. Noticed that unlike the beach, the helicopter had an ashtray at every seat.

I learned a great quote last week that has been helping me stay motivated to reach my goals and keep up with my New Year's resolutions. This is the last random thing for today.

"The chief cause of failure is trading
what we want most for
what we want in the moment."

- Eleanor Roosevelt

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