goals update – better late than never!

I know I was supposed to update this last night, but I completely spaced. Seeing as I spaced last week, as well, I figured I’d better make up for lost time.

Weekly / Daily Goals

1. Cooking – I have been pretty good at this, excluding the Jubilee Jazz Revival, which is totally understandable. I’m still trying to get away from pasta…but it’s so easy!

2. Running – I went on a fantastic, long, hilly run the other day…but I almost got lost, and I definitely would have appreciated a few more sidewalks. I need to find a better place to run, but at least I’m doing it when I can! Who wants to run with me at KLX?

3. Hundred Pushup Challenge – I am finally making some progress on this! I have completed two weeks of the challenge, and I maxed out last night at 18 pushups, which is three times the number I started the program with. It really helps to have friends doing this with me to motivate me.

4. Blog on Schedule – I’ve been doing okay at this – certainly better than I ever have in the past! Some days, though, it’s just hard to remember.

5. Practice Like a Rock Star – Jubilee Jazz Revival has passed, and the practicing has come to an end, but I’m pretty proud of all the work I put into the pieces for the show. I definitely could have used more time to practice one section in the fan dance piece, but it just didn’t happen. I am trying to be more professional about performances every time I participate, and I think this was a mostly good year, despite the near panic-attack I had the day of when I couldn’t figure out how to do the fan circle…

Overall Goals

1. Grad School – I am making some good progress here, but I am running into a new challenge: no one is emailing me back! Pretty soon, I am going to resort to researching a professor’s office hours and surprising them with a phone call. Right now, I need to work on my statement of purpose; I’m hoping to have at least the first draft by the middle of October.

2. Job Hunt – This is still on hold for Grad School. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my temp job through the end of winter; after that, Grad School apps will be in, and I can focus on being gainfully employed in a steady, non-temporary job.

3. Jubilee Jazz Performance – Like I said, it went really well this year! I worked more on the Chorus Line piece, and I learned the Fan Dance routine; I learned a lot more about professionalism (a bit of it through making mistakes), and I learned a lot about working on choreography. It was a good experience.

Miscellaneous

My room is still (mostly) clean! I need to pick it up a little after the Jubilee Jazz Revival, but otherwise, it’s looking good! My morning routine, though, has slipped just a little bit; I’m still getting to work on time more often than not, but I’m trying to squeeze out every ounce of sleep that I can.

That’s about it for now. All suggestions for new goals for October are welcome!

Advertisements

on my love for my new hair color

I do not know why I didn’t dye my hair this color years ago. I feel so much more natural with this dark brown hair than I ever have before; it’s surreal, actually, how comfortable I am with such a marked change.

In particular, I love how it changes what I’m able to wear: I can wear yellow without being washed out, and I can wear bright pink lipstick without fear of looking like a clown. And red lipstick? I can’t even tell you how sexy it is. This hair looks so natural with my skin tone, and I absolutely love it.

Also, pro-tip: if your hair is light and you’re thinking about going darker, you can use eye shadow to make the color of your eyebrows closer to your new hair color. It makes everything look more natural, and it’s a really easy, really cheap fix.

In short: if you need a hair stylist in Atlanta, look at Vivid Hair Salon; Grace was my stylist, and she was both skilled and affordable. Also, if you tell them I recommended you, we both get a $20 off coupon!

competing in solo jazz: i only have myself to blame

They make me sick to my stomach. I get in front, and my mind goes ”           .” While this is fresh on my mind, I want to share how I feel — not because I want the encouragement or techniques on how to get past the “deer in the headlights” effect, but because the more I understand how I feel, the more I will be able to combat that feeling in the future.

The setting: I am at the Jubilee Jazz Revival, and it’s been great; One Leg Up was playing, and I absolutely loved every song in their set. As such, I was having a great time, despite some wardrobe challenges and shoe issues.

I love solo dancing to good music, but comps are another thing. A little bit of goading, though, and I agreed to compete — if only for giggles and shits. Realistically, this is a small event, and it’s just for fun…but it still makes me nervous, and I wasn’t particularly confident or interested in competing. I planned a couple of easy entrances, thought up some of my favorite moves from the Tranky Doo, and I was done. Easy, right?

For the all-skate, I felt okay: I did some mostly-clean, moderately creative solo work. But when that first spot light came on, I completely forgot what I was doing. Tranky What? What’s Charleston? Am I supposed to look at the audience? WHY ARE YOU ALL LOOKING AT ME? MY SHOES ARE SO INTERESTING…

The worst part is that I knew the song. It’s by the New Orleans Racket Makers, and it’s actually one of my favorite songs to solo dance to. It’s a good, moderate tempo, with some great musicality and fun hits. But it wasn’t until the third spotlight that I was able to calm down enough to remember how the song went and dance with the music — and finally, that spotlight went mostly okay! But that was all I had, and the song was over, and I had no chance to sit in my groove and really enjoy the dancing.

I think the most frustrating part is how many people came up to me afterwards to tell me what a great job I’d done. Granted, most of those people were beginning and beginning-intermediate dancers who are just impressed that a few people had the balls to stand in the middle and pretend to know what they’re doing. Regardless, I knew I didn’t do a great job. The only remarkable thing I did, in fact, was actually get up there and try…but I wasn’t prepared, and I don’t feel like I gave it my all.

And there, folks, I think we have the bottom line: I didn’t give it my all. I half-ass competed because I was nervous and I know solo jazz isn’t my thing (yet), and so before the dancing even started, I gave myself a mental “pass” if I didn’t do well. I gave up before the competition started. And so to have so many people tell me how great a job I did is…well, it makes me embarrassed for myself. Maybe if I’d been in the right mind set, or if I’d planned on competing and I’d choreographed a couple of phrases — maybe then I would have been more confident and I would have put more into it. But I wasn’t feeling it, and I was nervous, and so I backed out of throwing myself into it. So much for that plan I’d made, right?

Now that I think about it, I don’t even think it’s that I drew a blank in those first few counts of my first spot light: instead, it’s almost like I didn’t even care to write something. I knew I wasn’t going to place, and so I didn’t even try. And that, my friends, is absolutely the worst thing you can do to yourself, whether dancing, competing, job hunting, working, or existing in day-to-day life.

So, for all future comps, I resolve to not compete if I don’t think I can give it my all. And if I agree to compete, no matter my reservations? Well, then I will make a social contract with myself: to always smile, look at the audience, and (at the very least) do my best.

 

grad school: I’m (mostly) not afraid of you anymore

This is mostly for my mom, dad, and various close friends who are vaguely interested in my impending career path.

Some Realizations

A month and a half ago, I may or may not have panicked over grad school. And by “may or may not,” I mean there was a lot of crying, a bit of desperation, and a whole ton of soul-searching. On the other hand, I have had a month and a half to figure my shit out, and I’d like to share all the progress I’ve made.

I’ve learned a lot about what my end goals are, and consequently what I want from Grad School. For example, I would prefer to attend an applied school than a theoretical school – meaning, I dislike research. I want a Masters with which I can step out into the real world and say, “Look! I have a skill! And I’m good at it! Hire me!” I do not want to go into research for the rest of my life. I do not want to be a professor. I want to work for the government or a company – mostly because I want my work to have a result. A visible, physical result.

On the other hand, I am not inherently opposed to research. It is a necessary, vital part of work. And in fact, I have learned something quite interesting about myself: I like statistics. In a gooey, makes me sit on the edge of my seat kind of way. In reality, like I said, I like producing a visible, physical result. Thus, I believe I have found my specialization: Geographic Information System, or GIS. Essentially, I want to collect data (or take data that has been collected by someone else) to create maps. In particular, I want to create maps that answer questions and visually explain results.

There are a lot of reasons this focus is important to me, but what it boils down to is that I don’t want to research one particular system or animal or disease; instead, I want to research and collect all the data I can physically manage, put it in a map, and make it easier to find the results that we may or may not have been looking for in the first place. And then I want to make that data accessible to any researcher who needs it.

What I’m looking for in a School

So what do I need for a career in GIS? First, I need a broad understanding of Environmental Science as a whole; as such, I am looking at broader programs which are more technical based than research based. Second, and more importantly, I need a school with a moderately good GIS program. So, I’ve narrowed it down to the following schools, where the bold schools come closest to what I am looking at:

  • Louisiana State – Emphasis in Forestry Resources or Renewable Natural Resources
  • University of California at Berkeley – Emphasis in Forestry
  • University of California at Davis – Emphasis in Ecology or Conservation Biology (high in GIS)
  • University of Denver – Emphasis in Ecosystems or Geospatial Analysis (GIS)
  • University of Georgia – Emphasis in Forestry or Ecology
  • University of Washington – Emphasis in Forest Ecology or Wildlife Sciences; alternatively, Masters of Built Environments.

The next steps are as follows:

  1. This week, I will research 1-3 professors for each school. I will then email each professor to try to set up a phone conversation, which is both easier to schedule and manage, as well as more memorable and more useful.
  2. After talking to professors, I will re-evaluate how close each school comes to meeting my needs. Subsequently, I will see about arranging a trip to see these schools and meet some professors and graduate students in person. I hope to visit late October, but the possibility of this happening depends heavily on both time frame and financial situation.
  3. I will start talking to professors, employers, and whomever necessary about recommendation letters by the beginning of October.
  4. By the end of November, all my applications will be filled and sent off. And then I can cry and be stressed again – but only then!

So there you have it. I’ve figured out what I want to do, I’ve narrowed it down to some programs I think will work, and I have a plan about talking to professors, seeing if a visit is possible, and making this all happen. Boom. And if it doesn’t work this go round? Better luck next year.

But really. I want this to work. Now.

food on the table – great for wannabe cooks!

food on the table, recipes, cooking, cooking for beginners, iphone app, android app, easy recipesI know absolutely nothing about cooking. I mean, I can boil water, and I know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich — but ask me to cook dinner? I’m stumped.

However, I want to change things — I know I’ve said it before, but I have a kitchen, and I want to make it useful. That is why I absolutely love the app “Food on the Table.” There are hundreds of helpful cooking apps out there, but I really love the clean look and thoughtful setup!

Steps:

1. Optional: select the grocery store you use most.
2. Select the ingredients you use and dietary restrictions.
3. Select Recipes. There are pictures, descriptions, nutritional information, cook times, and reviews. Standard, but helpful!
4. See your Grocery List.
5. Cook! There are, of course, easy-to-follow directions.

The feature I love most is that you can change the portion size, and the recipe automatically recalculates everything from how much you buy to how long it takes to cook.

And on that note, my second favorite feature is the Grocery List — it takes all your recipes, combines the same items together (if there’s overlap), and puts it right there on your phone in list format. Add the fact that you need milk and ice cream, take off the butter you already have in your fridge, and your grocery list is already set.

Finally, the icing on the cake? The app even finds the stores which have particular items on sale. No joke. It does all the hard work for you, and then it saves you money.

There are, of course, a couple flaws to the app. First, you can only choose three recipes per week if you are using the free version. I mean, you can view and see the instructions for all the other recipes, but it will only add three recipes to your grocery list. Second, the menu is a little limited — it is quite varied, but it is short, and that can be frustrating if you’re picky (like me) or if you have a limited amount of time in which you can cook.

You can also explore their online page at foodonthetable.com, where it’s fairly easy to navigate the website, there’s easier access to more recipes, and you have an unlimited number of recipes you can add to your menu. Score.

I highly recommend this app for wannabe-cooks; I’m sure you “experts” already have a system down, but for those of us who are just getting started? This helps. Enjoy!

goals update: 9/12

Weekly / Daily Goals

1. Cooking – I have been so good! I’ve been eating a lot of pasta, which I’m trying to get away from, but I always use the pasta made of vegetables to make it healthier. Today, I even made enough so that I can bring the leftovers as lunch, rather than a PB&J.

2. Running – I have been running twice; once last week, and once this week. However, I have also hiked Stone Mountain, which I think should count at least as good exercise, even if it wasn’t a run.

Note: Running in the dark on a nature path? Not a good idea.

3. Hundred Pushup Challenge – I suck at this. I keep getting side-tracked and not holding myself accountable. Suggestions are appreciated. Motivational texts, messages, and emails are welcome.

4. Blog on Schedule – I had an emotionally challenged weekend, and I failed to update on Sunday. I didn’t know what to say, because the only thing on my mind was inappropriate for such a public forum. I’m good now, though, and back on track! I even wrote this post last night!

5. Practice Like a Rockstar – Every spare moment, I am going through choreography in my head. Also, sometimes dancing in the Library, which has earned me a few sideways glances. I’m also trying to adjust how I act in rehearsals — there’s asking productive questions, and there’s fretting over something I can work out on my own time. I’m trying to accept criticism with fewer excuses and more responses along the lines of “Thanks, I’ll work on that.”

Overall Goals:

1. Grad School – I am putting in a concerted effort to determine where I want to go by the end of the month. I have almost finished an initial evaluation of all the schools I’m interested in. From there, I will call advisers and professors in hopes to make a personal connection and see how my interests will fit in. I want to visit my top schools, if I can, sometime in October. Soon I will have to find some references (I think I have two — but who for the third?!).

2. Job Hunt – I have been focusing on Grad School, which might be counter-productive; after all, my need for a job might be surfacing much sooner. I’m going to get on this.

3. Jubilee Jazz Dance Performance – less than two weeks away! I’m both excited and nervous, of course — mostly, I’m just working on my choreographies! I did get to practice a bit of showmanship last Monday in a jam circle — any chance I get, right?

Miscellaneous:

Some cool things worth mentioning:

I have been able to keep my room actually clean for the last week and a half! While I am an organized person, I am far from clean, and I have a habit of leaving things around to be picked up whenever. Not so with this room! It’s so nice and neat that I want to keep it that way!

I’ve also been managing to keep to a really nice morning routine! I am traditionally someone who sleeps as long as possible and then rushes out the door only sometimes on time, which means I regularly end up being ten minutes late. This past week and a half has been different — in fact, I’ve felt almost relaxed in the mornings, because my routine is so nice! It’s been an appreciated change.

Things I am trying to plan or keep in mind:

– visit Six Flags with friends before the season closes (and hopefully when traffic is low!)
– work on Solo movement — lots of dancing to lots of live music!
– continue being thoughtful about what I post on this blog
– figure out my plans to refashion an awesome little side table

It’s been a tumultuous week, but I think I’ve landed right side up, and I think this month is going to be hella productive — especially if I can figure out how to motivate myself to do pushups!

i’ve decorated! (and I feel at home)

Last weekend, I moved — it was only a couple miles away, but it involved packing everything, unpacking everything, and adjusting to a new space. I won’t lie — I dislike moving; I’ve moved a minimum of twice a year for the past six years. It’s annoying, labor-intensive, and often stressful.

But I am so happy I’ve made this move.

  • I have a kitchen. A fully-functioning, full-sized kitchen, with a refrigerator and a stove and everything. My last kitchen was more of a hodgepodge of counter-top appliances. Effective, but not efficient. And now I have a real one. For real food.
  • I have a TV. I haven’t had access to TV since I went to college. I’m not even sure how to work it…
  • There are dogs. Really friendly, really adorable dogs. Need I say more?
  • My roommates are fantastic. Young professionals, all responsible, all interesting, and all nice. I’ve never known any of them before, but they’re great.

I know I’ve been there only a week as of today, but I already feel more at home in this space than I have in any dorm, house, or apartment in which I’ve lived before. I think there are some key things to consider in this feeling.

First, the house is large and fully furnished, with multiple sitting areas which are easily accessible and comfortable. Second, did I mention I have a kitchen? And third: I’ve decorated. This is, in fact, the most I’ve ever decorated a room I’ve moved into (and so quickly!), which greatly aids how at home I feel. My space is clean, organized, and colorful. I’m really able to relax, and I’m really proud of how the hodgepodge of things which I own has come together into a comfortable space.

And now, I have pictures!

Obligatory “before” shot. I honestly wasn’t sure everything would fit…

My bed set-up! The headboard is courtesy of my friend Emma — but the fabric didn’t match! I was looking for what I could do, and I realized I didn’t need my shower curtain anymore, and I loved the colors, so I bought a hot glue gun and worked some magic! I had to glue it on corner-to-corner, because the shower curtain wasn’t wide enough to fit — but it all worked great!

Pro tip: hot glue guns are hot.


The futon / sitting area! So many little blankets and quilts! The painting is one which my brother bought for me a year or two ago, and it adds a great pop of color on that wall so it doesn’t feel so big and lonely…

My vanity set-up! The bathroom is too small to comfortably use for makeup and hair, so I took a dresser which I acquired from Shoe, who was moving out of the country, and worked some magic! The necklaces are hung up on a tension rod (supported by tacks, since it kept falling down); the hooks are actually open-ended hooks which I had leftover from the shower curtain. I love reusing materials! So cheap!

My closet and bookshelf! Everything is so organized and neat! I love the flowers hooked into the wire of the bookshelf doors, and the scarfs hanging over the edge of the closet door. It adds a little bit of color and fun. I really want to refinish that bookshelf…it would look so good as a dark brown!

For the record, all of the pictures and mirrors are (mostly) straight — I hung them all myself, using my phone as a level! I felt so adult, and that makes me giggle. It was fun, and I’m glad I had the initiative and willpower to get it all done!

Things I would add if (when!) I have the time / money:

  • Curtains. Preferably neutral ones in an earthy tone.
  • I will eventually change the fabric drawers in the dresser / vanity to turquoise or bright blue, I think. It would be so pretty!
  • I would sand and refinish that bookshelf. Again — it would look so pretty dark brown! Maybe with white shelves?
  • More art. Not pictured are my 1940’s black and white print (I’ll try to get a picture of it soon) and a frame of some photos of my family, but I would really love some more art! Especially black and white, vintage, sepia, nature-oriented, abstract of some sort…really, whatever catches my attention. I’m going to keep an eye out, but if you have any suggestions for cheap artwork, let me know!

***

So there you have it! The decorating is with whatever I had at hand, so it’s a bit eclectic — but it’s colorful, it’s comfortable, and it’s all mine. I feel very at home in this space, and that’s more than I can ever say about the place I lived for the last year!