Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Retrospect

This year has been full of transitions.  I left a job, returned to Marquette, left Marquette (again) and moved to Minneapolis.  I started a new job at St. Catherine University and a PhD program at the University of Minnesota.  I left my friends who became family in Milwaukee and had to start fresh (thankfully, Minneapolis is full of good people, so I'm thankful to have already started to make some lasting relationships).  I have had to adjust to knowing that seeing all my best friends either means long drives (5+ hours) or taking a flight.  I haven't been a flight away from home really ever (except some summer internships) and realized I took for granted the luxury of driving home or having my family visit for the weekend.  I love being back in school, but forgot how much time it truly takes to do all of my readings and paper writing.  I did my best to stay balanced, but realized in the midst of all of this transition, I don't do well with keeping my workouts (my new fitbit is keeping me accountable and I'm turing it around!).  I love being in a new city, but forgot how it takes time not only to make friends, but just to learn our surroundings.  What's the best coffee shop in Minneapolis you may ask?  I don't know.  I have an idea, but I haven't gotten to explore enough (it's hard to do when you're working full time AND going to school full time).  We are relishing in this winter break.

And when I say we, I mean me and Bill.  This has been my constant this year, my relationship with not only someone I love very much, but one of my best friends.  We've had many adventures this year: we traveled to San Fransisco, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Darlington, Fairhope, and made the move to Minneapolis.  We both started new graduate programs and have weathered the transition together.  We won trivia several times, solved a Sherlock Holmes case, visited Minnehaha Falls, and joined a co-op.  I couldn't be more thankful to have him right here with me and knowing that soon we we feel more settled into our new home.  We will have more time to discover our favorite spots; it doesn't all happen at once.  We will have our "go-tos" and our community.  It just takes time. 

Tonight we're staying in and having a nice quiet NYE (and happy birthday, Bill!).  We got Chinese food from a place called Rainbow Chinese (it's won a ton of Best Of Minneapolis awards, so let us treat you there when you come visit us).  Not only is Chinese food the perfect thing to eat on New Year's, the meal always ends on a high with the fortune cookie.  As I opened my cookie, my fortune read, "You will always be surrounded by those who love you."  Even though 2015 was full of change, I have to remind myself that I've had a great support network of family, friends, and of course, Bill.  

So, 2016... I'm ready for you.  Not only will I be up for adventure, I know that I will be surrounded by people with whom I get to share in these adventures.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why the Symphony is Cool.

Miley Cyrus can sell out arenas, but as I've witnessed at the Milwaukee Symphony, they can barely fill their seats. Why is it that we don't appreciate the classical music? (I recognize that I'm making a broad generalization, but I also don't know too many folks that frequent the symphony on the reg, strengthening my assumption.)  Growing up, my family made it a point to take my sister and I to the symphony at least once a year, if not more.  I grew up learning that it's worth my time to sit and listen to the strings, the percussion, the brass.  And not just listen, but to feel the emotion behind the music, to witness those playing the instruments put their energy into those instruments.  I'm not going to lecture on culture, rather, I am going to prove my point merely by promoting a YouTube clip.  That's right, I'm hoping that technology will encourage you to consider buying tickets to your local symphony and take it in yourself.  Just give it a try - it's an hour or so of your night and I hope can make a huge impact on you and understanding why the arts are important.

The following video is indeed a few years old and I just happened to watch it this evening.  Yet, the impact of the video is great as it ended up on my feed on the Facebook in April of 2014.  In celebration of a city's 130th anniversary, they chose to not have a big fancy dance flashmob, rather, one that spread lots of JOY through classical music.  And they do make it look oh so very cool.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bill Nye the Science Guy

With the cold temperatures hitting the nation, many people decided to take science into their own hands.  Literally, with boiling hot water.  I'll admit, I watched in awe as boiling water was thrown into the air and turned into an instant solid and had a gaseous quality (maybe it does turn into a gas... I didn't look really too into the science behind it). 

It really brought me back to the days of Bill Nye the Science Guy making science fun and something you would want to try at home.  Personally, I'm a huge fan of science education and it's great that people were trying to enjoy the cold rather than stewing from cabin fever.  This was all the buzz with my co-workers.  We had a staff dinner Monday night and post dinner, a few of my colleagues took left over boiling water from our taco buffet and brought them outside to demonstrate this scientific phenomenon.  It. Was. Awesome.

The following day, my social media feed displayed countless videos from my "friends" or followers of this home science experiment.  Then, I saw the best article of all - pleading to ask Americans to stop throwing boiling water into the air. Or at least making sure you're down wind when doing so.  There were countless tweets displaying photos where this experiment went all wrong.  Boiling water causes third degree burns.  You know what this taught me?  Keep the science experiments to the professionals.  Or at least make it a habit to test wind direction before throwing something potentially harmful into the air.

Edited by: Ms. Beth Mannella, esq.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Year in Retrospect

2013 has been one hell of a year.  I fell in love, had my heart broken, met some new friends, lost old friends, re-kindled friendships, lost some loved ones.  I traveled to Orlando, Chicago, NYC, Oshkosh, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Columbus, Bloomington, Philadelphia, and northern New Jersey.  I ran my second marathon.  I decided to do bikram yoga three times a week.  I discovered I like to push my body to extreme physical limits.  I took the LSAT.  I also like to push my brain to extreme physical limits. I saw a lot of live theater: Les Miserables (twice), The Book of Mormon, Urinetown, The Old Man and the Old Moon, Wicked, Hamlet, and The Sound of Music.  I fell in love with Radiolab.  I then saw Jad and Robert live.  I discovered The Pigpen Theatre Co. I saw them live as a band, and as a theatre company.  I continued the tradition of seeing City and Colour live anytime they come to Milwaukee.  I saw Mumford & Sons.  I relished in afternoon impromptu dance parties and many hours spent at Camp.  I took a cooking class on the history of chocolate.  I listened to a woman perform feminist post-apocalyptic poetry. I spent many hours at Drag Queen Bingo. I sang to the ukulele on an outdoor patio. I witnessed a surprise engagement.  I was told of many exciting upcoming events in friends' lives including but not limited to: pregnancies, engagements, and returning to school for advanced degrees. I saw the Hunger Games, twice.  I introduced many a person to Thrift Shop.  I rummaged many rummage sales.  I watched the sun set on Lake Michigan.  I biked around Milwaukee and NYC.  I spent hours swimming under the stars.  I played in a summer beach volleyball league.  I danced on a rooftop in the East Village.  I was introduced to the silliness and awesomeness of Dave & Busters.  I was given too many hugs to count by a little girl who calls me Nenny.  I spent every summer Tuesday night I could at Chill on the Hill. I made countless phone calls to my mother crying when I was stressed and needed someone to talk to.  I discovered espresso and how it really keeps me awake.  I re-discovered my love for soul.  I ate lots of small plate dishes with great friends.  I discovered anyone important in my life likes David Bowie and/or Labyrinth. I listened to a lot of live jazz.  I rode in a taxi with a man named Saul who played Shakira videos to his passengers.  I danced to the entire film of the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense. I saw the best American contemporary art.  I relished in Thomas Sulley's The Torn Hat. I led 800 college freshman in a dance during their orientation.  I didn't cut my hair for 6 months. I sunbathed in Lake Park. I watched the Brewers play.  I ventured to Northwestern to see my Broncos play.  I cheered on my Buckeyes in the presence of the Golden Eagles.  I drove in a couple blizzards.  I ate a lot of pints of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. I completed a 1,000 piece puzzle.  I attended toddler music classes with my best friend and her daughter.  I helped start a junior astronomy club.  I spent some hours as a receptionist for the Urban Ecology Center.  I listened to Janet Jackson's Number Ones on repeat.  I was introduced to the show GIRLS.  I ate lots of Benji's.  I went on a tour de Midwest road trip, solo.  I snuck on a rooftop at Columbia.  I read Joyce's The Dead.  I took a nap almost every Sunday.

This is a snapshot of my 2013.  It is full of moments. Moments that I can't re-create and moments I can't take back.  Moments that taught me how to feel.  Moments that made me laugh.  Moments that changed me.  Moments that made me stronger.  2013 wasn't the easiest year of my life.  But, it was an important one.  So, thanks 2013.  I am appreciative of these moments and am looking forward to the moments of 2014.  I have a feeling it's gong to be a great year full of many blessings.  Who knows what it will bring and I can't wait to live in those moments.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beanie Babies
You had them.  You loved them. You had to have them all. I think Beanie Babies really hit their peak of popularity when I was in the 4th and 5th grade - I even had some friends cash in on this fad and make a little profit off of beaded name collars for your favorite Beanie Baby (they were a hot item).  And then there were the special collector editions - I remember going on the hunt for the Princess Diana bear.  I think we picked ours up at a card show in our local mall - it was a hot conversation topic at school the following Monday.   We loved our Beanie Babies so much that my family invested in those beloved plastic tag protectors to keep everything in mint condition.  Also, I'm pretty sure we got the full collection of the McDonald's Happy Meal toys.  So, my family may have all fallen for it and spent far too much money on these toys, but there was something so sweet about finding out their names, birthdays, and bio on each tag that we had to make them a part of our family.

After work today, while driving to head out to my "spot" to go for a run along the lake, I heard a story on NPR's "All Things Considered" about how the creator of the Beanie Baby, Ty Warner, was charged with tax evasion.  He plead guilty today in court and owes a serious amount of money, $53.5 million, in addition to facing jail time.  And all for what?  It saddens me that I was duped.  Duped to believe that these Beanie Babies were created for me to play with and create memories with.  Ty Warner wanted me to buy his bean filled creations so he could put more money in his Swiss Bank accounts for financial gain.  I mean, I get now as an adult that consumerism is something that drives our country - we can't do anything without purchasing something.  Advertisements constantly swarm around us, attempting to target specific groups to get those people to buy those products.  I get it.  And for the most part, I'm OK with it.  I mean, I like to purchase goods that are geared toward me.  I think was saddens me most is his gain was at the expensive of children and their families.  I do appreciate Warner's willingness to plead guilty to the charges and him coming clean now, but it still is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

I can say, however, I haven't really thought about my Beanie Baby collection in quite some time... I'm sort of excited on my next journey home to Michigan to find the bin they're all packed in and say hello to the gang. So I guess, in a way, thank you Ty Warner.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School, Back to School, to Prove I am No Fool...

Billy Madison spoke it best about why it's important to go back to school.  It got me thinking - today marked the first day of school for my students.  Hard to believe summer came and gone, but here we are back in the school year.  With that I'd like to give my personal top 10 countdown as to why one should enjoy the start to a new school year:

1) New outfits.  I remember growing up my sister and I would always do our back to school shopping, which included hitting up the local mall. (Shout out to Woodland Mall)  Unfortunately, my high school had a strict dress code, so I just had a plethora of collared shirts.  But, I did get to break out NEW collared shirts every year.  There's always a positive.

2) Getting back into the routine.  As much as we all enjoy galavanting around in the summertime, it's nice to have a little routine here and there.  I personally like being busy and the school year aids in that sense of business.  Maybe that's why I've continued to work in education...

3) Meeting new people.  A new school year means new people coming into school and the opportunity to make lots of new friends.  I have 750 people living in my building that just want to meet one another.  What a neat thing.  Part of what makes my job most exciting is getting a whole new batch of these first year students to help them with their college transition.  

4) Holding on to the summer anthem.  There's always a song that sort of summed up the summertime.  And although school's back in session, you can still jam out to that song and feel like you're still on vacay.  I think my favorite summer anthem that will take me back will have to be "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk.  Simply amazing.

5) Football season.  I know we've spent the summer enjoying America's pastime, but nothing beats watching a good college football game.  Enough said.

6) Crisp Fall air.  It's just around the corner.  Bust out those layering sweaters and boots - we're almost there!  And nothing smells better that taking in that crisp air, who's with me?!

7) Learning stuff.  Come on, our brains want to learn and absorb as much information as possible.  We might as well be useful and put more fun facts into it.

8) Free stuff.  Working on a college campus opens the flood gate for cool programs that come with a lot of free stuff.  For example, this upcoming Thursday, there will be a festival to celebrate our student organizations on campus with food, fun and prizes followed by an outdoor movie showing of The Great Gatsby!  All free!  Count me in!

9) Have I mentioned football season?  I'm sorry, I'm just so geeked to watch some football, preferably my Buckeyes (O-H)!

10) The countdown begins.  Although we're excited for the year to start, of course the countdown begins until the next break.  You've always got to have something to look forward to!

Happy Learning!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Best. (and shortest) Reunion. Ever.

To be honest, MTV has fallen off my radar as a station that I frequent.  I don't frequent TV in general, but when I do it tends to just be a lot of HGTV.  This changed earlier this week with the announcement that Justin Timberlake would possibly be reuniting with the group that started his career, *NSYNC.  I was so excited with the thought, I could have peed myself with glee.  Too much?  Let me further explain.  *NSYNC was my boyband.  Hands down.  I saw them twice in concert, once just following their Disney Special (please check out this link... their outfits are priceless) and the second on their first arena tour (they never came back to Grand Rapids after that performance because they blew up).  Following these live concert experiences, I often rushed home after school to turn on TRL to see Carson Daly play their videos, and on several occasions they were special guests of the show.  And although now I totally think JT brought sexy back, in 1998 I was mad crushin' on JC Chasez.  Obvi.

So, for the first time in years I had my girlfriends over for a little VMA viewing party.  We commentated on the outfits (or lack thereof).  We watched the performances (and were appalled by Miley Cyrus).  We ate cake (it was delicious).  We painted our nails (they look semi-professional).  And we freaked out the entire Justin Timberlake performance (duh).  For 20 minutes we were back in high school.  And I couldn't have been happier.  If anyone else noticed, JT started with more recent songs and slowly worked his way back to the *NSYC tribute.  So what if only 3/5 of the group are in shape? Sorry, Chris and Joey.  Love you both, but those jackets looked a little tight.  Granted, you still were able to seriously bust a move. It was the most amazing minute and a half of my recent life.  I was transported back into the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids, MI.  I was in seventh grade again, screaming my head off for 5 guys that sang of teen love and heartbreak. 

Tonight's performance gave me hope.  Boybands of the past have been making major comebacks.  This summer NKOTB, 98 Degrees, and Boyz II Men toured the nation. Could this be the start of *NSYNC's new beginning?!  I sure hope so.  Here's to wishful thinking.  Until then, I'll just jam out on Spotify in my office to their classics like "Digital Getdown," "Space Cowboy," "Here We Go," "Girlfriend," and "Dirty Pop."  Don't judge me.