Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fun With Acrostics

Dear Readers, I have been inspired by a friend's Christmas letter that was made in the form of an acrostic poem.  For her letter, she used the letters from "MERRY CHRISTMAS," which in my mind is a very ambitious undertaking.  She was able to pull it off perfectly, but I don't have the patience (or the exciting life adventures) to do 14 paragraphs of information, so I chose a more reasonable phrase, "GOD JUL."  Bonus points if you know what that means (and what language it is) without using Google.

Here goes.

Gasoline.  I sure used a lot of this stuff in the past year in my commuting to work, school, home, parents' house, etc.  I anticipate that the coming year shall be more of the same, but thank goodness that my car gets good mileage.  Thank goodness also that my generous father sometimes likes to fill my gas tank on the weekend.

One more.  That is how many years I have left in my graduate school program if everything goes to plan.  It has also become my personal mantra when I am feeling overwhelmed with homework.  I just realized that overwhelmed is another "o" word.  Neat.

Daria on DVD.  This animated show used to be a favorite of mine on MTV.  This year it finally came out on DVD (the entire series) and I nearly sang for joy.  Sadly, a lot of the original music is not included (copyright issues) but it still gets the job done.  Oh joy.

Jack Russell Terriers.  My parents own two of the most awesome dogs in the world.  Seriously, I know all dogs are awesome in their own way, but these two are magical and they make my life a lot better.

Unplanned expenses.  Yes, I did have a minor car accident this fall and it was not cheap.  I realize that this is something that could have been avoided.  Now you tell me.

Last minute vacations.  Thank goodness for my awesome friend and her travel-loving husband who put together an amazing trip for eight to Tuscany all in the space of a couple of months.  Thank goodness also for professors who show mercy to those who need to miss the last night of classes in order to be able to go on this amazing trip.

I think that turned out rather well.  I probably could get a bit more creative with more time, but off the top of my head, this really works.

Monday, December 20, 2010


First of all, I have made an executive decision to halt the 12 Days of Christmas pictures.  There are not enough days left, first of all, and second of all I am just not inspired at the moment.  Big things have been happening.  Some are happy, some are sad.  Mostly, they are things that I cannot share at present.  Give me a few weeks. 

In the meantime, I am having a REALLY hard time not sharing one piece of news, but I know that it is VERY important that I keep it to myself.  This means that when I am finally allowed to speak of it, I will be so boiling over with pent up energy and excitement that I will likely explode in a giant glittery cloud of oversharing.  Be prepared.

In the meantime, we are in the final stretch for Christmas.  Are you ready?  I sure am.  All of my presents have been delivered, so I'm just waiting to give them to their respective future owners.  Now I just have to figure out how to convince my parents that I do not need to rent a pair of cross-country skis for this weekend.  Honestly.  Snowshoes would be more than acceptable for me.  Contrary to my Nordic roots, I do NOT have any natural skill at cross-country skiing.  I believe that a blindfolded giraffe in roller skates would be more graceful.

If you're interested in updates, I may perhaps have my laptop with me this weekend and may be able to post updates.  It may be interesting, especially if there are any accidents.  Also, the puppies will be there.  I expect that hilarity may ensue from them as well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Adventure

First of all, an update on my school situation.  Last night I turned in my paper and did my mini-presentation.  It went... OK.  My professor likes to have people go in alphabetical order, which meant that I presented second-to-last.  On the negative side, I had the whole class period to stew about it.  On the positive side, everyone else was so relieved and tuned out by the time I went that I don't think many people were paying too much attention.  Tonight I am going on a field trip for my last class, so I'm actually looking forward to it. 

Now for my adventure.  OK, so it's really more of an unknown journey with mysterious and unpredictable outcomes.  Hm.  No.  It's not really any of that.

Basically, this morning at work we had our annual "health benefits meeting."  This is where our insurance rep comes in and explains our coverage basics for the coming year, including costs and new inclusions/exclusions.  As is the trend with most things in life, our insurance has grown more expensive with each passing year.  This year is no exception.

The big change is that this year, I decided to try something new.  I went online and completed the application forms and checked out pricing and coverage for individual plans.  Turns out, for less money per month I can get a plan that actually meets my needs and concerns.  AND if I don't go on my employers plan, my company saves money by not having to pay monthly for my group premiums as well. 

So... pending approval from underwriting, I am going to be insured all by myself for the first time in my life.  It's a bit scary, but the insurance company is one that I've used before and it fairly reputable (relatively speaking). 

I realize that this may not have been the big and exciting story you were all expecting, so as consolation, here is a drawing for the Days of Christmas series:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the first day of Christmas...

My own version of events for the classic countdown tune.

What can I say?  I love turkey burgers!  OK, let's me be honest, I love burgers of any kind, but cow, beef, bison and chicken do not rhyme with "me."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Final Countdown!

Perhaps the title of this post is a bit of a misleading statement.  For the record, I am NOT graduating after this semester, I am just completing another set of classes towards my graduate degree.  However, this past semester has been my most challenging and irritating one so far, and I am therefore exponentially much more excited to finish it. 

Let me bring you up to speed.  I have been griping about my research paper assignment and my lack of motivation to complete said assignment.  Happily, I can now report that the difficult part of that assignment (the actual paper) is done.  I now need to finish my abstract (a brief summary of the paper), fill out my reference list and make a power point presentation that can last no longer than five minutes. 

I suppose you are all now curious as to whether or not I was able to get any work done over the weekend that effectively sealed me in to my parents' house with deep, cold and snowy walls.  The answer?  No.  Well, I did spend some time reading my articles to be used as resources and wandering around the house with a lost expression on my face.  Actually, I was waiting for inspiration to hit, but my parents were a little worried.  I think.

Also, my brother and his girlfriend came up to visit.  This is not an event that occurs very often, so I think I was justified in not wanting to spend the weekend squirreled away in a room with my laptop.  Additionally, we did exchange a few Christmas gifts and I receieved Super Mario Brothers Wii, so of course we had to play.  My brother is much better at navigating video games, so he was able to help me get to a higher level than I would normally be capable of.  In his absence, I will hopefully improve to the point that I can be a non-laughable challenge to my 10 year-old cousin next time I see him.

So, do you want to know what finally inspired me to rattle off this resesarch paper?  One word:  potluck.  Yes, the holiday season is truly upon us when my office has its annual potluck party.  Usually, this means that everyone brings food and then congregates in the lunch room area and generally wastes half the day.  Unfortunately, now that I am working in the customer service area, I do not have the freedom to sit and chat for hours on end as we have to make sure that there is coverage to serve our customers. 

This year, we decided to even the playing field a bit.  Instead of having a mid-day time waster of an event, we are waiting until after hours to start the rabid feasting.  This way, we do not have to worry about customers and can stay as long as we like.  It ALSO means that when we have finished eating, we do not have to return to our desks where we will likely pass out from lethargic post-meatball and cocktail weenie comas.  Instead, we can leave work and head home... or to happy hour.  I'm pretty sure I will be doing the latter option. 

With this in mind, I had no choice but to complete the heavy thinking portion of my paper last night.  (It is due on Wednesday.)  My inspiration carried over last night into the completion of the journal for my other class (due Thursday), so I am now almost completely ready to end the semester!  Bring on the Jameson party!  (More on this later.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Dress Your Baby: Holiday Edition

I seem to have found my creative muse for the season.  Unfortunately, it has not yet been parlayed into the creation of my final paper.  In order to loosen the gears in my head and stop the distractions, I have decided to let loose a new batch of baby clothing design options, especially geared towards Christmas in my family.  Again, if anyone out there would like to create one of these for an actual baby, please do so.  Just be sure to send me a picture.  Enjoy.

1.  I am a Happy Christmas Tree

This is the most obvious of my designs.  It keeps babies warm AND it has cool flashy lights so you can find your baby quickly should they wander off in the department store.

2.  Circle of Pine

Again, this is another obvious choice.  Honestly, I am very surprised that no one has thought of this before!  People love wreaths.  People love babies.  Wreath + Baby = Ultra Holiday Happy Cheer Spreading Machine.

3.  Purely Ornamental

Now we're starting to get a little more creative while still staying close to basics.  What is more classic than a shiny red ornament and a silver tinsel boa? 

4.  Sweets for the Sweet

Personally, I am not a huge candy cane fan, but they certainly do put people into a holiday mood.  As an added bonus, the crook of the candy cane can be used as a handle to restrain or pick up your little minty mayhem maker.

5.  Do NOT Re-Gift!

Personally, I have never eaten fruitcake, nor do I have any intention of doing so.  The same goes for babies.  Does that make this a perfect pairing?  Perhaps.

6.  Shake It Up Baby!

Let's just face it, snow globes are awesome.  There is something so calming about them, and what child couldn't stand a little calming action?  In case you couldn't tell, the baby's head is NOT in the water. 

7.  Just a Little Lefse

You might need to be an American of Scandinavian descent to understand this one, but for my family, nothing says holidays like fighting over the plate of lefse.  For the uneducated, it is a tortilla-like flatbread made with potatoes and cooked on a special lefse griddle using a special lefse turning stick.  My favorite preparation is with butter and sugar, all rolled up (usually without a baby in the middle). 

8.  Eat at Your Own Risk

If you want to know more about lutefisk, Google it.  I can't say too much more about it without triggering my gag reflex, but it remains a popular holiday item in these parts.  Please note that the baby's headgear represents the enormous pat of butter that would be necessary to make the lutefisk even 1% edible. 

9.  Family Traditionwear

This one may be a bit out there, but it is absolutely necessary for me to include it.  Fattigman cookies are a family tradition in my household, and my father claims to have eaten more fattignman in his lifetime than anyone else now living.  He makes that qualification because there are probably some people now deceased who could have competed with him.  But a lifetime of eating pounds of these fried delights has earned him certain bragging rights. 

This concludes my fashion show for now.  I hope you enjoyed it and are feeling inspired.  If not to go out and make one of these fine creations, then just to get yourself in a holiday mood.  And maybe make me some cookies or lefse.  No lutefisk please.


There were a couple of extra fashions that I didn't finish in time for the first version.  Please excuse my tardiness.

10.  Let There Be Light

Christmas lights are nice.  They enable otherwise mild-mannered homeowners to jazz up their house exteriors and make passersby think that they are cool.  Some people make a competition out of it, but in the end, it's all in good fun, right?

11.  The First Day of Christmas

The title of this design should make it obvious what I am trying to portray.  However, if you are still unsure, here is a hint:  it is NOT the Jolly Green Giant!!! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time Travel Volume 1

Let's take a little break from the norm, shall we?  In reference to the fact that I should in fact be spending more time composing an original essay for school and not writing new things for this blog, I am going to post some "vintage" entries.

By "vintage" I do not mean older blog posts.  Good grief, I'm not at that point yet.  At least I hope not.  No, I will attempt to delve back into my pre-adolescent mind and share some of the ramblings and angst that I experienced in seventh grade.  If I need to, I MAY change names to protect the innocent.

Here we go.

Entry No. 1 - 12/27/1992


You're my 3rd diary that locks.  My first one, I got 3 years ago from my grandma.  Eventually my 2 brothers broke the lock and read it, and I have kept it hidden since.  My second one was a birthday present 2 years ago when I turned 11.  This one I just recieved for Christmas from my aunt and uncle.  One thing I especially like about this diary, is that it doesn't put the date in for you.  You write it in your self.  That's good, because I probably won't write every day.  You'll probably notice the space between entries.  At least I won't waste paper.  This seems like an English diary, the type my aunt & uncle would buy.  They also gave me a pair of suede pants, a book called "The Children of Charlecote" and a necklace.  More later!  -Meg


Wow.  Aside from the fact that this may be the most boring entry ever made by a 12 year-old, there's not much to this at first glance.  There was a GLARING spelling error committed here, and I almost self-corrected, but I want to stay true to facts so I left it in.  I'm pleased at my ability to successfully use contractions properly.

Honestly, I am not sure about the locked diary thing, but my memory 18 years ago was probably much more clear.   I do remember dealing with the problem of diaries with pre-written dates.  It always made me feel like such a failure.

Suede pants, huh?  I believe they were purple culottes.  They were all the rage, I'm sure.

I think there's time for one more.

Entry No. 2  -  2/8/93


I never told you who I like.  No one had better be reading this!  I like [name withheld].  He's kindof a femme, but he's a babe!  He plays piano and he's REALLY good!  I mean it!  Like the best in the school! He's got a good voice too.  He's really nice.  He goes to my new church Evangelical Free.  I never knew him before because he went to the Christian school.  My Dog is being innocent after a crime.  I know she's up to something.  She's kissing my leg and I'm wearing leggings!  She just nose printed my diary!  [Initials of crush] is a BABE!  Stars & Stripes Forever Man!  Dogiss!  Maggie!  -Meg 

This is a recreation of the illustration I added to this entry.
Oh.  My.  Please keep in mind that I was 12.  Ugh.  Yes, I am withholding the name and initials of the crust in question.  Mostly to protect him from mortification.  Fair warning:  future entries are going to be much more name heavy.  Perhaps I should devise code names?  We'll see.  Actually, in junior high my friends and I assigned numbers to our crushes so that we could talk about them in code and scribble said numbers all over our belongings.

One last interesting note - I mentioned that I was wearing leggings.  I believe these are back in style for some people.  Does this mean an imminent return of suede purple culottes worn over tights?  One can only dream...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lunchtime: A Retrospective

It has just occurred to me that most of my recent blog entries have not been very historical/story oriented.  On a slightly odd note, the French word for story is histoire.  Coincidence, no?  To remedy this horrible laziness on my part, I will attempt to be a bit more amusing and a bit less all about the current events updates.  At least today.

Instead of choosing one episode from my mildly amusing past, I am going to write today about a theme.  The theme is LUNCH.  Please be aware, this not lunch in a general worldwide historical sense, this is just lunch in my experience for the past 30 years.

The Early Years

I really don't remember much about the time before I could consume solid foods, so let's just forget about that. 

In my pre-school days, I was home for lunch with my mother and brother.  My mother was a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) which meant that we spent a lot of "quality" time together.  While I know she was happy to be able to do this, I'm pretty sure there were some days she would have gladly shipped us to the moon.  At least if the entries in my baby book about my epic brattiness are to be believed.

I am not now nor have I ever been a picky eater, but in the early 80's in small-town Minnesota, there were not too many interesting options for toddler food.  My mom did the best with her available resources, and I personally think she did a great job.  Kids are finicky, but they also seem to like routine.  This explains why we ate pretty much the same thing every day.

Here is the typical menu:  butter-under-peanut butter toast, apple slices, cheese slices and milk.  On rare occasions I would switch it up and just have peanut butter toast.  Or buttered toast.  That's about it.  Actually, when I was about 3 or 4, I decided to make my own toast and shocked my mother by demonstrating that I did in fact know how to do this purely based on my observational learning. 

Please note that although my lunch menu was not highly varied, we did eat different foods at different meals.  This was just the easiest thing to do as it covered the nutritional basics, was quick and easy, and was clean enough for us to feed to ourselves.  It was a very happy time in my life from a lunch standpoint.

School Days

As my early days had established a strong love of lunch in my mind, I was optimistically curious about the unknown and oddly appealing notion of eating lunch at school.  My kindergarten year was a bit disappointing as I only attended for half a day which meant that I did not eat lunch in the cafeteria.  First grade was a different story.

In anticipation of the school cafeteria experience, I was given a blue Carebear lunchbox.  It was amazing - I think I would have carried it everywhere with me if I could.  From its ultra-secure fastening to the super sweet thermos, it was a sight to behold.  Sadly, it was not to get much use.

I'm not sure how they do things any more in elementary schools, but back in those days, there were only two options, hot or cold lunch.  "Hot" lunch was provided by the school cafeteria and was subject to the menu creating whims of whatever sick and diabolical madman (or madwoman) who had to the proper authority clearance.  "Cold" lunch was whatever your mother sent from home. 

At first, I think the idea of school cafeteria created lunches were interesting and maybe even appealing.  It must not have lasted long.  If there is one thing I distinctly remember about my early elementary school years, it is learning the scent of a school cafeteria.  This smell is universal, no matter what school or what size of cafeteria.  It is hard to describe - an odd combination of rot, preservatives, cheese, soap and despair.

By the time I reached middle school, my love of lunch had been completely destroyed.  Lack of adult supervision left me with an interesting loophole in the school lunch requirement setup.  I simply chose not to eat.  Was this a colossal waste of my parents' money?  Sure.  Was this a terrible nutritional choice?  Probably.  Did it lead to chronic migraine headaches and dehydration?  Yep.  Did any of that matter to me at the time?  No.

Junior high brought me a new option - the snack bar.  The cafeteria lines were starting to be somewhat more diverse - we had a regular lunch line and a soup/salad/sandwich line - but my appetite could never get past the omnipresent stench of cafeteria.  The snack bar was a beautiful oasis of prepackaged and therefore untainted options.  Unfortunately, the snack bar did not accept lunch tickets as payment; cash was required.

Whenever I was able to get money from my parents, I ate well on a healthy diet of chocolate shakes and cookies.  (Keep in mind that I had a 13 year-old's metabolism at this time.)  When I lacked funds, I simply did not eat.  Again, not a brilliant nutritional strategy, but there was no convincing me otherwise.

By high school, I finally started to let my guard down.  Our facility was brand-new and options grew much more varied.  In addition to the hot lunch line, we had a salad bar, a pizza line and a burger line.  We still had a snack bar, but I learned quickly what few items in the regular lunch offerings were somewhat palatable, and I survived.  I certainly did not love lunch by this point, but I hated it less.

College was a completely different ballgame.  Our food service was amazing and our options were virtually limitless.  I managed to stay nutritionally satisfied while still avoiding the "freshman 15" curse.

Working Girl

Upon graduating from college, I started my first job.  I actually still work for the same company, almost nine years later.  When I first started here, I lived about five minutes from the office.  Every day for my 45 minute lunch break, I would get in my car and motor home to relax, watch some TV and eat whatever was available in my own kitchen.  In poor weather, I would occasionally remain at work and dine in the tiny break room.  This is when I learned about microwavable meals. 

There are many different brands and varieties, but they are all basically the same.  A prepackaged frozen entree that is advertised as "lean," "healthy," "smart" or "kashi."  One important lesson I learned is that one should be wary of meals of this type that contain any type of meat.  Don't ask me to explain why.  Just trust me.

Back when times were better, my employer would spring for office lunch to be brought in once a month to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.  Not only was this great as it was a break from my monotonous lunches from home, but it was a fun time to chat with my coworkers.  Now that times are a bit leaner, we no longer have office-sponsored lunches.  Once a year we do an employee potluck, which is still pretty fun, but not nearly often enough.

In 2005, I moved into a new department within my company.  It was a big change in job duties, but it was also a change in culture as it was a small department and was primarily made up of older men.  Older men who never brought lunch from home and went out to eat every single day.  Slowly I was sucked into their world of constant restaurant hopping until it started to spiral out of control for me calorie and money-wise.  So I pulled back and resisted; I only allowed myself to go out once a week on average.

This worked out pretty well.  Then, about a year ago, I moved into a different area of the company.  I now work with mostly females in a more customer service oriented setting.  Due to coverage issues, it is not as easy to take off for lunch whenever I want to, but I have also lost interest in eating my frozen prepackaged meals in the dungeon break room.  So, inevitably we end up eating together near our desks some form of take-out or delivery.  Occasionally my coworker will bring in leftovers from the previous nights' dinner and we will feast on regular food.

Essentially what I am trying to say is that I feel a bit like I have come full-circle in that I have learned to again appreciate the meal that is called lunch.  Not only does it symbolize the middle of my work day but it stands for yumminess and a short break from work.  Who knows what it will come to symbolize in the years to come - maybe someday when I am in a nursing home eating pureed food I will long for the days of the school cafeteria.

On a side note, I need to remember to stop drinking so much coffee.  Last night was pretty much a nightmare of waking dreams and unfulfilled sleeping needs.  By the time 6 a.m. rolled around, I was borderline delirious.  Like all Mondays, the thought of taking a personal day briefly flashed across my mind, but in true Megan form, I decided to save my personal days for really important future events, not just simple brain malfunctions.

I arrived at work in one piece, but I immediately accosted the coffee pot and proceeded to down at least three full cups before lunch.  Hopefully this does not spell disaster for my hopes of an early bedtime tonight. 

In other news, I have a paper due in nine days.  I have all my sources (articles) picked out.  I just have to read them and assemble it all into a coherent thesis and paper that is at least ten pages long.  In true Megan fashion, I'm sure it will be a slam session where I just hammer the whole thing out and refuse to reread and edit any mistakes I may have made in my rush to completion.  Or maybe not!  This time maybe, just maybe, I will be diligent and proofread my own paper before I turn it in. 

Crap.  I just realized that I have concluded my awesome theme entry with personal updates.  Is this OK?  Hm.  Well, I guess I did start this entry about a week ago, so it's probably alright that I added to it.  Just think, in less than two weeks I will be able to write entries completely unfettered by the restraints of schoolwork.  Hopefully I will be able to spend enough time at my house to accumulate some more home repair sagas and create some new and elegant drawings!