December 19, 2008

Sweet Reminders

Sometimes, when my faith is lacking, I'm blessed with a little reminder of just how beautiful God's love is. It came to me tonight in the form of a song: "Divine Romance" by Phil Wickham. It's been a while since I've heard it, and I was so thankful to rediscover it on Nicole's lovely Grooveshark widget:) Check it out to the right. The song is gorgeous, and it makes me wonder how anything could be as satisfying as a life devoted to praising something even more beautiful. Enjoy!

December 16, 2008

Rolling Backpacks


Is it really that hard to lift the backpack up, throw both arms through the straps, and carry it around like a normal person? Kids in high school sometimes used rolling backpacks (although some also carried a duffle bag so they could, obviously, have all of the contents of their locker with them at all times), which just didn't make sense because of staircases. Surely lugging that thing up two flights of stairs, letting it smack each step as you grunted and panted, pulling it up with you, was much more difficult than just putting it on your back...but then again, maybe not. I'm fairly confident my brain doesn't work in the same way as the brains of the people using these contraptions.

What will be next? Notebooks on wheels? Will we have to drag our pencils behind us on strings because they are too difficult to put in the rolling backpacks? They're already at ground level! BACKpacks, people, BACKpacks.

December 15, 2008

A Different Kind of Christmas List

Lauren and I are watching MTV's The Hills, our weekly indulgence, and we try to pretend we're as fabulous as them. Except we are sitting around in sweats, eating bowls on cinnamon toast crunch, so we know we aren't. But we do know we aren't as messed up as them because we are able to offer the occasional psychoanalytic comment when the characters (excuse me, "real" people) do something particularly stupid.

For instance, in response to Spencer, "He's only like that when it's just the two of them because he doesn't feel like he has to compete," and then, when he proposes while she's clearly not in the state of mind to make a decision, "What a mature, confident guy, waiting until she's drunk to propose. This is something she'll really be happy about in the morning." And then we couldn't stop musing about how much Whitney's new love interest Jay looks like Barry Gibb. It's that lush, feathery hair.

Enough about that. I realized I've been posting way too much about last year's overseas escapades, and it probably looks like I have an unhealthy obsession with that time in my life (I do) and that I can't really get over it (I can't) and that I don't want to try to move on (I really have no desire to do so); however, to keep from driving you, dear reader, crazy, I am going to refrain from all talk about traveling. Done. Over.

So...let's see...what to talk about...well, it's cold outside. Christmas is in just over a week. Oh! I know. You've probably noticed I have another obsession: making lists. I make lists about everything: things I like, things I hate, things I have done, things I want to do...they're just so satisfying. 

So here is my list of things to do over break:

1. Read The Princess Bride, Pride and Prejudice (for the millionth time), The Four Loves, and anything else I find time to do.
2. Bake and cook and fry and saute and the whole shebang. Curry chicken, sugar cookies, thin mints, paglia e fieno and anything else I might crave.
3. Paint my toenails. They haven't been touched since my birthday in October, and they need it. Desperately.
4. Build my running tolerance past the one-mile I've currently reached. I was easily pushing 45 minutes this summer, and I've been a lazy bum this semester. It's time to feel the pain.
5. Clean out my closet. Momma's been begging me to do so for years, and I've put it off for just as long. I suppose it's time.

Episode's almost over-- gotta go:)

December 14, 2008

Maybe things aren't so bad...

Another glorious Sunday. It's cold and wet outside, but I'm warm and dry, curled up in my dreamy bed (I have the best bed ever, I really do) with my laptop, a larger-than-life mug of Lipton Green Tea with Honey (my current obsession) and a playlist consisting of Adele's "Chasing Pavements," Duffy's "Warwick Avenue" and Amy Winehouse's "Love is a Losing Game." Hm...wonder if I'm missing London?

Finals begin this week and I'm somewhere between caring just a little and giving up. In recent weeks I have discovered an inverse relationship between the amount of studying I do and the resulting grade. Case in point: I got a 98% on my most recent management test, the highest grade I've received in that class, and I put in fewer hours preparing than ever before. As you can see, any attempt to further study at this point is...well, pointless.

I've found myself focusing on more important things, like Christmas break. I tried to remember
 if I was as ready to go home last year as I am this year, and I realized that last year I spent the week and a half leading up to Christmas lingering in a state of exhaustion in frigid, Irish hostel beds (with Carrie to keep me warm) and various countries' airports. I very distinctly recall being ready to come home, probably more so than I am now, but it was different kind of ready, one mixed with hints of desperation: the two days before the 25th I was worrying about just making it back in the country by Christmas Day. 

After missing my flight from Heathrow to Chicago) due to weather-related issues that held up my Dublin to Heathrow), I was lucky enough to catch a stand-by flight to D.C.. I think my dad contemplated driving out to pick me up. I got into D.C. late and missed my connecting flight to Chicago, so I pulled an all-nighter in the airport (with the help of my German friends and about four Starbucks grande-sized, sugary concoctions), washed and dried my hair in the bathroom (the only reason I can see fit to justify those terrible air hand dryers environmentalist-types seem to like), and caught the 7 am to Chicago on the 24th. 

'Twas a lovely experience, but I have no desire to do it again. 

November 18, 2008

Spring Break in Sin City

Tonight I decided to steam and exfoliate. Bad idea. My face is red and stings. I don't think that was supposed to happen. Let's all pray that I don't have a nice pink, swollen reflection in the morning. 

I cooked lunch for some friends today. We sat around and discussed a possible Spring Break trip to Las Vegas. I think it sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but I'm a little upset Celine Dion's run is over. She's been replaced by Bette Midler...blah. To me, that's like replacing the diamond in your ring with a popcorn kernel. When I was younger I used to karaoke almost daily to "The Rose," but that's because it was on the only split-track CD I had. And I didn't know any better. Nowadays, the chances of me paying to see Bette Midler are smaller than the chances of finding a McCain bumper sticker on a Prius. It's just not going to happen.

Also, Las Vegas is known as Sin City. Now I have no problem with the occasional streak of naughtiness; in fact, just the other night my roommate and I went out for a particularly sinful night of steak and James Bond. But just what kind of shenanigans can I get into in Vegas? I won't come home married, will I? Although I'm not sure who would be the bigger loser in that situation-- myself or the poor guy that was fooled into tying the knot with me.

That said, it's got to be warmer than Indiana in March. As long as I have water and sun I'll be happy. Off to find some lotion.

November 17, 2008

I'm Annoyed

This post is dedicated to my good friend A.H. I'm honored he would read the ramblings of a gentile such as myself.

I have decided to make a compilation of things that really irk me. I don't just mean the things that cause me to roll my eyes or shake my head-- we're talking things that I flat out hate. Things that drive me crazy and make me want to...throw ice cubes at people.

10. Realizing that there's no toilet paper just a little too late...

9. That commercial about smoking where the girl says, "Is anybody listening?" "Does anybody care?" Unfortunately, we are listening. But we don't care.

8. Tangled clothes hangers. Grrrr.....

7. Fork tines that stick up a little higher than all of the others. They will catch your lip. Or scrape your tooth. And it hurts.

6. Smokers that hit their pack of cigs against their hand for an incessantly long amount of time. We get it. You want us to notice that you smoke. You're cool. Now pack that nicotine! Pack it! 

5. Those posters where children are dressed like adults and there is one "accent" color, such as a yellow rose or light blue umbrella. You know what I'm taking about-- the "little gentleman" is usually dressed in a trench coat and fedora, receiving a kiss from the "little lady" sporting a frilly dress and oversized shoes. Too cute! I think Angela on The Office has one. Bonus points if it's in puzzle form.

4. Self-portraits used as profile pics on Facebook. Now, I must confess that I am guilty of this. I have, in the past, used a picture of my roommate and myself that I took. However, I took in a mirror and you can clearly tell I'm doing so. Unfortunately, we do have puckered lips, a crucial element in the self-portrait profile pic, or sp3. The sp3 usually also has an arm extending to the outer limit of the shot, because this is the appendage used to take the picture. The photographer typically has a cocked head and is attempting a "sexy" pose. Sometimes we get the best sp3 of them all-- one that has been photoshopped to give it an "I'm deep and I want you to know" look to it-- blurred edges, a haze, transformation to black and've seen them.

3. The grocery cart with the bad wheel. I hate going to get groceries and picking the cart with one, or if you're really unlucky, two, bum wheels. You're stuck going in circles all night, much like the spiders we tortured at church camp. We'd pull off all but one leg, set them back on the bench, and watch them go round and round and round and...well, you get the point. If you aren't stuck going in circles, you're screeching through the store and by the time you leave your biceps ache from pushing against the resistance provided by the bad wheel(s). This can be avoided by switching carts, but often times you have the "late bloomer"-- the cart that develops the problem half-way into the trip-- leaving you with two options: a) retrieving another cart from the front of the store and switching all of your goods over, or b)  sucking it up and using the faulty cart.

2. Cracked heels catching as you slide your feet into the sheets. Gross, and it really doesn't require a lot of explaining. It's just like running a rake across a chalkboard. Luckily, it's nothing a little petroleum oil and nice pair of socks can't fix.

1. Confusing your/you're, it's/its, two/to/too, and there/their/they're. Oh, and it's spelled definItely.

November 12, 2008

Where has the time gone?

Is it really November? I can't believe the semester has flown by so quickly-- it's been such a blur, what with school work, IUSF duties and job searching-- I can't believe I've managed to make a few memories in between everything!

My 22nd birthday has come and gone. I still forget and tell people I'm 21. I did decide this year that I feel at least 20, but certainly not 22. That's just so...old! Do you ever really feel your age?Do you wake up one day when you're 40 and think, "Hey, I'm 40!"? Anyway, it was a wonderful birthday weekend with friends and family, who always make it so special.

Fall weather is truly here. I've broken out the scarves and Uggs, and there seems to be a constant drizzle coming down. It's almost as bad as London in the summer. The leaves have all fallen from the trees, and the sky never gets very bright. I think my mood always changes in the fall-- it gets a little bleaker and starts to match the weather. 

I find myself complaining about everything going on, but the truth is that I really do love it. I like being busy. I don't know what people who don't have a million things on their to-do list do with themselves. Surely they don't just come home from class and...relax. Don't get me wrong, I'd kill for a night of sleep where I didn't wake up early panicking from something like realizing I'd forgotten to get an Indiana State Raffle License form in the mail on time (long story-- it's taken care of), but what fun is life without a little stress?

Besides-- I'd rather worry about things like this than the things that will wake me up in a year, like panicking because I forgot to pay my rent. Life is good, I just need to take a few moments in the middle of it all to breathe and truly appreciate it. That said, I need to plan tomorrow (drop fundraising kit off by 10, meeting with advisor at 11:15, pick up fundraising kit at 2:30, class from 2:30-5:15, business ettiquette session from 5:00-8:00, pick up another fundraising kit at 8:00, documentary screening at 9:00) and finish my paper and homework due in the morning. Oh yeah, and study for that silly test tomorrow afternoon:)

October 27, 2008

Fabulous Fall

It's been far too long since I've posted, so, in prime fashion, I am going to give you an update on this things that are currently making me happy while, at the same time, procrastinate doing that necessary evil called "homework." 

*I have my computer up and running again! My power cord snapped in two, so I was out of commission while waiting on a replacement. 
*I'm going to Texas! That's right...I've been saying I was going to do it for ages, and I finally bought the ticket. I'm heading down to Dallas soon after Christmas for a joint- visit with Sarah (my Kanakuk co-counselor who I haven't seen in so long it hurts) and the Hubbert sisters (one of the main reasons I miss London). So excited!

*Heading home this weekend to see the family and relax. I love Bloomington, but sometimes you just need to get away. 

*I've decided to read the Gospels, and Luke is blowing my mind. I have about 20 questions for every chapter, and a special thanks goes out to Nicole, who has been patient and answers my silly questions.

*Greek's Pizza. If you leave Bloomington without trying it, be shamed.

Be sure to stay tuned for a special election post! It's taking some time, but I think it'll be fairly interesting. Now go jump in some leaves:)

October 11, 2008

Some deep thoughts...

...about deep thoughts.

Sometimes, when reading friends' blogs or online articles, I realize how silly and trivial most of the topics I write about are. For instance, there's an election coming up, in less than one month, and I am writing about my ideal birthday, coming up in less than one week. There's an economic crisis, and I write about my own personal crisis: finding skinny jeans that fit. People post incredible poetry they've spent time writing, I quickly copy lyrics to a favorite song.

I have friends that write blogs about religion. They're so full of deep thoughts that I often have to read them a few times just to understand them. They're packed with insight and big, rich words and analogies that don't naturally come to me. They're beautiful and I LOVE them- I just can't write like that.

Sometimes I get discouraged, but then I think: at times, we need something light and airy and easy. And that's where I come in. Sure, I don't expect my blog to change your life, but I do hope it does make you smile. Or, at the very least, shake your head at the ridiculousness of it all. 

October 9, 2008

Birthday Countdown: 1 Week!

In 1 week, I will turn 22. In honor of it, I've decided to create my perfect day. And none of that stupid, "I'd wake up in Hawaii..." junk. We're keepin' it real. Besides, I don't want to spend my birthday with jet lag.

So....(begin rippling screen dream sequence)

I would wake up LATE. Unfortunately, not next to Roger Federer, because that would be wrong, but he would be in my kitchen making me breakfast or something. Actually, I'd probably go to Waffle House or somewhere just as shady and have a ridiculously greasy breakfast of biscuits and gravy with eggs and bacon and hash browns and pancakes. With real butter. And orange juice and tomato juice. And it would all be calorie-free. Ooooohh, and apple butter would be somewhere in the mix.

By the way, I would probably see to it that there was a soundtrack playing in the background for the day. I've always wanted a soundtrack to my life, and there's no better day to have one than on my birthday, right? From here on out, I will include requested track. (Breakfast would be something like Taylor Swift or Mariah...something made for singing along.)

After breakfast, and because I wouldn't have classes on my birthday, Rog and I would go shopping for a killer dress for my big night. We'd probably go up to Indy in his really fast car, but he would let me drive and pretend to shift gears. And cops wouldn't pull me over, but even if they did, they'd let me off the hook because it was my birthday. It would be an overcast day and we'd be listening to the The Fray or Coldplay's older stuff. Good driving music and good driving weather.

I would have lunch flown in-- paglia e fiena from Yellow Bar, vino di casa from Acqua Due, a burrito and sangria from Eby's, a salad with goat's cheese from The Oil Shoppe (all in Florence), a kebap from some random stand in Valencia, Spain, chicken korma from Brick Lane in London, cashew chicken from Jay's Thai, and waffle fries and sweet tea from Chick-Fil-A. Probably some sushi, too, better get that from Mum's in Long Beach. During lunch I'd have no music, mainly because I'd want to really concentrate on stuffing my face. If there's music I have to sing along, and if I sing along I can't eat as much as fast.

After lunch, I would nap. Then, to work off some of the food, I'd go to the diving well for Lo and we'd search for hair bands. Because it's my birthday, they'd all be no-metal ones. And we would listen to fun music, like Backstreet Boys. After we'd found no less than 14 hair things, we'd dry off and go get ready for that night. My dress would be flattering yet comfortable, my hair would have great volume, I wouldn't cut my legs shaving, and I would figure out how to do my eyeliner so it doesn't smudge all night. While we were getting ready we'd listen to Ne-Yo and Chris Brown and anything else we could dance to.

Dinner would be late, on some twinkly-light lit patio under the stars with all of my best friends and family: those from home, Bloomington buds, Texas gals, girls in London, Italy and Africa...they'd all be there, and everyone would get along beautifully and have a wonderful time. The weather would be somewhat warm, not humid, and there'd be a nice little breeze. And we'd sit and have a long meal with wine and cupcakes and candles and laugh and dance and listen to beautiful voices like Pete Yorn and James Morrison and Michael Buble. Michael might show up, too, and sing. And the Backstreet Boys could make an appearance at any time throughout the day.

Then, I'd fall asleep and would be carried to bed, where someone would put me in comfy clothes, tuck me in, open my window, and turn on a fan.

October 8, 2008


I just heard Joss Stone's version of L-O-V-E (<= click here), and it's fantastic! 

Here are the lyrics to one of the sweetest little songs ever:

L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore can

Love is all that I can give to you
Love is more than just a game for two
Two in
love can make it
Take my heart and please don't break it

Love was made for me and you

October 6, 2008

Random Memory #1

Every now and then I recall a particularly funny, cool or just stupid story. Here's the first:

Last November, my friend Jamie and I were visiting Venice with a large group of kids from our overseas program. Being the socialites we are, we decided to be the two that didn't volunteer to share with anyone else and just have a two-person room. 

We carried our bags back to the room and tried to figure turn on the heater so the temperature would go up from "below freezing" to "slighty below freezing" while we were out exploring. 

When we returned that night, it was not much better. I messed around with the heater a while longer and finally got it to kick on. We were cold enough we just turned it on high, and then we ran the shower and sink on pure hot, letting the steam from the adjoining bathroom roll into our tiny bedroom. Then, we did what we do best: turned on Italian MTV, pulled out some trashy European magazines, and got under the covers. We eventually turned off the water, but left the heater on high, figuring it wouldn't ever really get warm enough to matter anyway.

Sometime in the middle of the night I awoke and sat straight up, gasping for air. At about the same time, Jamie did the same thing. The room was so hot we couldn't breathe. 

I crawled, glassesless, over to the heating unit. It read 90 degrees. I searched for a way to turn it down, but my blindness, the sleepy state and exhaustion  I was in combined to make that an impossible feat.

"Just turn it off!" I heard Jamie gasp from somewhere behind me. I found a switch and flipped it, crawled back into bed, and prayed for relief. 

When we awoke the next morning, we were shivering. God bless America and its efficient heating and cooling systems.

October 1, 2008

A Bicycle Built for...One

Never mind that it was cold outside today. Never mind that I have a paper due tomorrow. Never mind that the Cubs blew it tonight.

I got a new bike!

That's right, my parents got me the hook-up. It's a sweet, gray (men's) Tourney with a canvas pouch on the front, and it's awesome. I took it for a spin tonight and it really performed. Allow me to elaborate...

What started out as a short trip to Circle K to get some candy turned into a long trip around campus. Lauren decided that she needed some chocolate, and so she gathered her spare change and we bundled up to make the trek. I quickly realized, however, that it would be an ideal chance to try out my new bike. Lauren doesn't have one, so we figured we'd just ride double.

I got the bike outside and did a few laps around the parking lot just to make sure I hadn't lost my "touch." They say that once you learn you never forget, and I guess that's true, because in no time I was doing tricks, popping some major wheelies, and just being an all-around stud.

We decided, after a few failed attempts at letting Lauren steer, that I would ride in front. Lauren would sit on the seat behind me. This worked...for about twenty feet. Lauren started screaming. I pulled out the ol' tough love and kept going. Until she put her feet down and stopped the bike. I assured her that I used to do this all the time with my friend Brooke, and that she really was in the best hands. 

After crossing a few major roads, getting a few honks, and a few rough stops, we finally made it to Circle K. Once we got into the store we decided to get Pumpkin Cappuccinos. There really is nothing better than cheap gas station beverages. Then, we realized there was enough change for a doughnut. And then, after that, there was enough change for ANOTHER doughnut! Lauren really spoils me. 

We decided not to try to ride with our goods, so we walked over to a cement wall. The drinks were too hot to swallow, so Lauren showed me how to pour bits at a time into the lid, blow on it, and drink it from there. It worked very well, despite the strange looks we got. Then a man came up to us and asked if there was a movie theater around. He was going to see "Nights in Rodanthe" and was trying to walk. We explained that the closest theater was at least a few miles away, pointed him in the right direction, and took off for a ride about campus. 

Unfortunately, between the very, very hard seat and the bellies full of cappuccino, we had to take a number of walking breaks. Hills were a problem, as well. We finally made it back and are currently looking for a banana seat or pegs online. 

September 23, 2008

Mom and Dad are NOT going to be happy...

I just ordered this book from Amazon:

And here's the description:

Congratulations - you've finished school. But if you're not sure you're ready to settle down into an office environment, Delaying the Real Worldis chock-full of creative ideas and practical information that will help you craft your own life-changing adventure: Teach English in Thailand; Take a road trip; Build houses in a Mexican village; Counsel at a children's art camp; Work on a cruise ship; Lead excursions in the Grand Canyon; Intern at a wildlife sanctuary; Bike (or drive) across America; Guide snorkeling groups in Australia; Hike along the Pacific Trail; Create (and fund) your own service project; Travel around the globe on one affordable plane ticket; And much more! In this one-of-a-kind guide, Colleen Kinder scouts out experiences that will not only satisfy your free spirit but also pay the bills, make the world a better place, and maybe even catapult you into a future career. Including stories from young adventurers and detailed information on making these dreams a reality, Delaying the Real World is a road map for the new graduate, inspiring and directing you toward making your twenties the most rewarding (and adventurous) decade of your life.

September 22, 2008

Proof That Beauty Really is Timeless

I really will do anything to put off school work...

Most Likely to Skip School to Steal Rave Hairspray and Stirrup Pants.

Most Likely to Join the Cast of "Saved by the Bell."

No "Most Likely" here, we just look exactly like our moms.
(Although Lauren could be the love child of Karen and John McCain...she's got his chin.)

And just because I'm that good of a friend.


If I could, I certainly would. This time last year was better than this time this year, no doubt about it. Why, you might ask? Because this time last year, I was on a beach in Capri. Or leaning against the tower in Pisa. Or eating gelato while looking out over the Florence skyline. Or maybe, just maybe, boarding a plane bound for Barcelona.

This year, Thursdays consist of class and Cru. Last year, Thursdays consisted of landing in a new city, and every weekend was a new adventure.

This year, I spend Sundays complaining that I have to go back to class. Last year, I spent Sundays complaining that I had to go back to Florence (boo-hoo, I know). 

This year, I come home from class and cook spaghetti. Last year, I'd come home from class and cook spaghetti-- but in ITALY, you see.

This year, I'll turn 22 in Bloomington. Last year, I turned 21 in Florence. It was an amazing night: a trip to the ballet, blueberry steak, chianti wine and the best chocolate cake you can imagine. Did I mention that all of this was in Italy?

Over the weekend I caught up with some of the friends that I met while abroad. It was a lot of fun, but the evening had an overtone of sadness as we all admitted that we weren't over Florence. She was a little bit of everything: beautiful, loud, smelly, disgusting, inviting, warm, cold...and we all fell in love. None of us have been able to get over her.

I don't know which I miss more about that time: the big things or the little things. I loved the independence I gained through finding my way around a strange country where I didn't speak the language, but I'll never forget the sense of accomplishment I felt when I got groceries for the first time. Sure, it was incredible to see Michelangelo's David, but it couldn't compare to some of the Tuscan sunsets I witnessed.

Don't get me wrong, I love Bloomington in the Fall. It's fantastic. It's great to be back with my friends. And I know that even if I were to go back, it just wouldn't be the same, because it's no longer a new, exciting adventure. I've been there, and I've done that. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't do it all again.

I'll add some pictures later.

September 21, 2008

School must be back in session...

...because I'm finding any reason I can to procrastinate. I have a to-do list a mile long, but not motivation to start checking things off. My room is a mess, I have a four page paper due at midnight (I'm taking the class pass/fail, so my goal's a D-) and the only things I have in my fridge are eggs and Turkey Hill Diet White Tea Peach (and yes, that was a plug, because the stuff's amazing AND on sale for 99 cents at Kroger right now). And some mayo.

The past three weeks have been crazy, but as most of you know, I'm not happy unless I'm stressed. I'm taking 18 credit hours (which will allow me to take only 12 next semester) and so far, had more homework than in the 3 previous years combined.

Student Foundation is in full swing, and I'm in charge of around 50 juniors who are doing some sort of philanthropic work. Our first meeting is Tuesday and we'll vote on a project for them to get involved in throughout this semester.

I'm also hosting a weekly podcast called "Hoosiercast." To listen, click here, or search for it on iTunes: podcasts: Hoosiercast. Part of the gig required me and Max, my co-host, to pose for marketing photos. So, as of next month, we will periodically be featured on campus busses and newspaper stands. Don't worry, I've come to terms with that fact that I'm going to be a huge celebrity, and there will be no Lindsay Lohan behavior from me-- I will continue to wear underwear and not date women. Although, if offered the chance to star in a blockbuster like "Herbie: Fully Loaded," I might have to take it.

And then, of course, is the most important aspect of school: my social life. The welcome-back-from-summer hellos are over, and it occurred to me that this was the last time I'd do that. In high school I remember anxiously awaiting the 4-H fair-- a chance for everyone to see who'd blossomed over the summer and was coming back to school a hottie-- and getting that amazing outfit for the first day of classes. It's kind of like that here, but we've given up trying to look good for class, and nobody really hits puberty anymore, so there's a lot less excitement. Nonetheless, it's always great get back to everyone.

Well, that's it for now. This paper isn't going to write itself. But then again, if I'm aiming for a D-, I don't really have to write it, either. Be sure to check out this video, and then this video, and stay tuned for more!

August 16, 2008

Lions and Tigers and...Clydesdales?

Oh what a week. I returned from Chicago and headed straight to St. Louis. I didn't plan on doing a whole lot, just the usual gorging on pasta and custard, but managed to squeeze in a trip to Union Station, the arch, the brewery and the St. Louis Zoo.

The arch was pretty amazing-- a $10 fee gets you a spot in a tiny pod (see me cramped, below) and a five minute trip to the top of the structure which is, according to M. Freebersyser, "as wide as it is tall." The view from the top includes Busch Stadium, the mighty (brown) Mississippi River and the St. Louis skyline. It's quite a view, but the trip is not for the claustrophobic.

The brewery was like a Willy Wonka Factory for adults. The grounds and buildings were immaculate and beautiful, and it smelled like grain. The famous clydesdales have a pretty good life there. They usually stand about 6 1/2 feet tall, and weigh in at a ton. At the end of the tour you get to sample any two kinds of beer they produce. And not just dixie cups, we're talking pint-sized cups. They are not stingy. While on the tour someone asked who owned the company, and the tour guide replied, "We do!" Not true, perky blode tour guide who laughed at way too many of your own jokes, Anheuser-Busch was just purchased by Belgian company InBev Inc.
The zoo! I haven't been to the zoo in years. It was a last minute decisioin to go, and what a great last minute choice it was. Freebs and I booked it (when we weren't lost) through the winding trails, but managed to see the monkeys, reptiles and amphibians, rhinos, bears, elephants, girrafes, lions, tigers, some filthy birds, penguins, crocs and gators and lots and lots of children. If I was a babysitter, I would definitely dump children at the zoo and just have them meet me at the gate when it closed. This is probably why I'm not a babysitter. Check out some cool photos below.

We were sooo close to what are, in my opinion, the best argument for creative design.

Ok, so kinda immature, but a cool picture, don't you think?

This is my mom's name. Interestingly enough, the chimp's nickname was "Smarty Pants."

Just taking a smoke break.

August 14, 2008

Kyla's baacccckkkk...

That's right boys and girls, I am back. Well, not in Indiana, but in the good ol' US of A. I'm currenty sitting in a posh hotel room in St. Louis. Dad came out to work, I got to ride along and play. Today I visited my good friend Freebs and we had a darn good time exploring the city known as the "Gateway to the West."

But first, a quick update on my last few weeks in London:

I was able to go see "The Phantom of the Opera" before leaving, a real dream come true. Seriously. I've wanted to see it ever since I first heard the soundtrack. And even though I had the absolute worst seats in the house, and even though I paid nearly $100 for a ticket, it was well worth it. I got goosebumps when that driving 80's organ power ballad style overture started rocking the theater.

My ten weeks at Richmond Towers Communications concluded with a darn good presentation on my part and a game of Rounders (similar to baseball) in the park, complete with a South African BBQ (with impala steaks! thanks to Jon!). It was a lot of fun, and while I don't think I see myself having a future in the glamourous world of PR, I certainly enjoyed my time at RTC and all that I learned there. I met some amazing people and am really going to miss them all dearly (N,S,J,D,L).

I already miss my sweet, sweet roommates something terribly! They were all amazing, and I have such great memories with each one: tube rides and after-work dates with Aviva, the last weekend with Ayumi (and her fantastic bf!), trips to the park and talks about Texas with Cassie and Sally, my first Saturday night at the Westbury with LA glam Nikki, trips to the Sarah's theater to watch the fantastic productions she helped put on and talking (arguing, maybe?) tennis with Kayla. They were such phenomenal people, and I'm sooo lucky to have had a chance to meet and live with them!

London was a great experience. I loved the hustle and bustle of the city, the excitement of the morning tube rush, the endless laughs and lunches shared in the basement with Leang, any type of food you could possibly want, runs in the park every night, hating the neighbors, all of the birthday celebrations-- I could go on and on and on! I've officially spent more time overseas that in the United States in the past year, and even though I have no money left as a result, I wouldn't change a thing. It has definitely been the best year of my life, and I soemtimes find myself trying to think of a way to go overseas again. Soon.

Oh, and this time, when I returned, Dad hadn't grown out his hair or beard again, but he had shed over 50 pounds! Way to go Dad! (Note: When I returned home from 4 months in Italy my dad looked like Grizzly Adams. He stopped shaving and cutting his hair the day I left. It was quite the surprise when I got off the plane with my hair chopped off, expecting to be the big surprise, and saw him. This time, he stopped eating everything but raw food the day I left.)

Since I've been back I've been a busy little bee. I moved out of HC@H, my home for the past two years, I had one of those "what-a-great-way-to-start-off-the-new-year" nights in Bloomington for Lo's 22nd, I went to Chicago to see Wicked with my family (amazing, amazing, amazing!) and I'm in St. Louis right now. Today Freebs and I went up in the arch, toured the Anhueser-Busch brewery, visited Union Station, and were treated to the best Italian you'll ever have west of the Atlantic: Cunneto's. Ice cream at Ted Drewes wasn't so bad, either.

My next few weeks consist of moving into my new apartment, a possible trip to Elkhart or Chicago and endless phone calls with my lovely friends across the country to catch up on summer happenings. I'm going to try to keep this thing going, so please check back to this space and join me as I document what looks to be a crazy, ridiculous and exciting senior year.

Ciao for now.

July 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Brooke!

The childhood best friend. If you didn't have one, you wanted one. I was fortunate enough to have Brooke. Brooke and I, we were pretty different. She was a city girl (ok, ok, a Royal Center townie), an only child. I grew up on a farm with two brothers. In kindergarten, her favorite song was "Bat Out of Hell." I had Disney soundtrack cassettes playing on repeat. She had cool matching outfits and a perm. I was lucky if I brushed my hair and was known to go to school with my shirt inside out. Nevertheless, we defied societal norms and became best friends.

Well, today is  Brooke's 22nd birthday. In her honor, I am going to list 22 of my favorite memories that include her:

22. Picking flowers and then walking around the neighborhood trying to sell them as "carpet potpourri."

21. Taking wilted, brown, leftover "carpet potpourri" and giving it to teachers on the last day of school.

20. Walking around the neighborhood selling cleaning services. And massages. 1 hour = $1. (Where were our parents?!)

19. Writing love notes from one grandparent to the other ("Tommy Boy" and "Doris Darling").

18. Cancun!!!!!

17. Inviting all of the kids on the bus over to watch us perform Beauty and the Beast. Sadly, no one showed. I, of course, always insisted upon being Beauty. Brooke was a good sport.

16. Selling seedless grapes. We picked a few from the vine by my house, split them and half and ripped out the seeds, and soaked them in a bucket of water we found in the sandbox until our first customer (Brooke's mom) showed up to buy some. (Note: Diane, I saw you casually dump them under the car as you got in.)

15. Giving Brooke her first bloody nose. I was doing a cartwheel and my foot hit her nose. She 
bled all over her dog, but thanked me for it.

14. Getting snowed in for 5 days at Brooke's house. I'm sure her parents were thrilled about this one. I still can't tell, to this day, if it helped or hurt our friendship.

13. Endless chat room sessions with people like "SpeedyBoy." (How do I still remember this?)

12. Going to Outback and having, between the two of us, a $40 meal. On her mom's credit card. We both got in trouble for that one.

11. We also both got in trouble when we offered to mow the yard and then stopped half way through. 

10. Designing her first tattoo. It was a beautiful, and I drew it on a napkin at Grindstone Charlie's. 

9. Ace of Base and Spice Girls. 'Nuff Said. Oh, and All Saints.

8. Watching The Osbournes on MTV. Actually, anything on MTV. Brooke was so cool. She had a TV in her room with satellite hooked up. I wasn't even allowed to watch TV at home during the week, so I had to sneak peeks there.

7. Jet skiing with her dad and his..."hairy" friend. Thankfully, Brooke rode with him. The guy had a back like a gorilla, and poor girl, always the good sport, had to put her arms around him. But then we went to Indiana Beach in our cut offs and bikini tops (the epitome of trashiness, also something we'd always wanted to do) and had ice cream comes, which made it all better. 

6. 4 Wheeling. We totaled the 4 wheeler and her dad had to buy it.

5.  BB guns. Brooke's dad (a sheriff) confiscated two and brought them home for us. 

4. Deciding to be rebels and sneaking a taste of rum the summer after we graduated. Now mom and dad, I think this was a good thing, as we tried cooking rum and it was so bad it deterred me from any future underage drinking. 

3. Various trips to Lafayette and Kokomo. Fond memories include: racing a diesel truck, taking off our clothes so we could tan while waiting on highway construction during a particularly hot trip in the farm truck, and calling information to get a store's number, to get a boy worker's number. (Totally for Brooke. I didn't like boys until I was like, 19.)

2. Chasing her 7 year-old cousin Austin down the stairs and, in mimicking him, jumping the last 5 steps. Problem was, I was about a foot taller than him, and clothelined the doorway.

And my number one memory from a childhood with Brooke and (apparently) no parental supervision:

1. Brooke's funeral. When we were like 10, we (actually, probably just me) decided it would be funny if we faked Brooke's funeral and then made her parents come to it. So she laid across the couch, surrounded by pictures and flowers we'd found around the house, with Titanic music playing in the background. I went and got her unknowing parents from the other room and led them in, by the hands, saying, "I'm so sorry about your daughter." Her mom started screaming that we were morbid and made us clean it up. I'm pretty sure I saw a smirk on her dad's face, though.

Happy Birthday, Brooklyn:)

July 11, 2008

Our apartment is too dirty to clean...?

Well done, roommates. I got home tonight and found this note on our kitchen table:

Dear Students!

Please can you tidy up the sitting room and kitchen for the maid to be able to provide you with a good service. The next cleaning day will be in one week. Thanks.

My room, thankfully, was clean enough to clean, but it looks like we'll have to live with a messy common area for another week. 

Kyla does the math

As of tomorrow, I've been in London for seven weeks. I am here for 10 weeks total. Thinking cap on: this means I have only three weeks left. Today I discovered Itsu frozen yogurt. It's amazing. Try to understand the seriousness of this: delicious frozen yogurt not available in America, only three weeks left. This means that no matter what, I'll feel like I was cheated out of seven weeks of decadent, frozen yogurt pleasure.

And while we’re on the subject, we have the ice cream truck from hell go down our road every so often. That’s right, a few times a week Satan himself sits behind the wheel of a colorful vehicle and drives around, blaring the most evil-sounding version of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” you can possible imagine— it’s like a demonic horn going through puberty, all piercing and warbling and enchanting children out to purchase its sugary, processed delights.

Confession: To be honest, I don’t really know where the sound comes from, and while I do hear the song from time to time, I’ve never seen said Satan-mobile. But if I do run into it one day, I’m not ordering the “FudgeSickle.” 

July 4, 2008

Kyla might have to move back home

I come from a town of less than 1,000 people (832 at the 2000 census). When my mom had twins she really boosted the population. The biggest thing to happen to our town was in 1997, when the football team won a state championship. When people hear this they often say things like, "Oh wow, you probably knew everyone, didn't you?" Yes, I did know everyone. I also knew their entire extended family, the last three cars their family's driven, their dog's name....etc.

Royal Center's not quite an economic hub, either. We have one gas station (Bonnell's) and a weekly newspaper (The Royal Center Record). Oh, and one blinking light.

Needless to say, I don't plan on spending any time there after graduation. This has my dad really upset, as everytime he emails me he mentions that I should intern with the Record. I always respond that I'll move back home when Royal Center gets a public transportation system, a lenghty way of saying never.

Well, this morning I checked my email and found this:

I went to Bonnell's yesterday and bought my first Royal Center Record in a long time. So anyway, I couldn't believe my eyes. I immediately went to their website and tried to cut and paste it onto here, so you can see it too....I think it's great news.....hope it comes through...


In a surprise news conference held at the Royal Center Public Library, Gov. Mitch Daniels today announced an experimental program funded entirely with a grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) . Royal Center will be the home of Indiana's first intercity trolley . Under terms of the grant, the trolley must stretch to all parts of the city, with one line stretching from the far north to the deep southern tip of the city. Another line will travel fom the eastern tip to the western edge of town. The bisection of the two lines will be the site of the new Royal Center Union Station.The project is expected to be completed by April of 2009.

Local resident Fred Henry (typical small-town neighbor who my dad's obsessed with), the head of Royal Center's "Moving Ahead Alliance," stated, "We've waited a long time for this. For too long we've seen a lot of our kids leave town for college and never come back. We're hoping they will now see the great opportunities here."

Although most residents are excited about the project, there were also some dissenters. Local resident Wilson Green (my grandpa who tends to disagree with my dad on anything politically related) said, " It's 'indiscrimination', that's what it is. I already pay enough taxes." One unknown resident yelled from the crowd, "Is it a tool, or a toy?" (inside joke here...)

There is already talk of eventually extending the trolley from the eastern suburbs to the western suburbs. This would mean one could hop the trolley in Lucerne (smaller than Royal Center) and would be able to ride clear to Bell Center (even smaller than Lucerne). If that goes well, a line from Logansport (our version of a DOES have a Wal-Mart) to Winamac (slightly larger than Royal Center...also where I was born) will soon follow, thus the whole Royal Center metropolis would be covered by the trolley. Housing prices are expected to double within three years, as demand for housing will outstrip supply. Already, "For Sale" signs are popping up in Carmel and Broadripple, as people are planning to move to Royal Center, which is now being called the last and best hope for capitalism. With the expected surge in population, and housing prices shooting to all-time highs, many local students returning home will actually have to live with their parents, as even a starter house will be well beyond their budgets. Indeed, all is well in Royal Center.

Well Jane, thats about it. I hope that came through ok. I tried to save the paper to send it to you, but Mom spilled a Diet Coke all over it. I hope you're as excited about all of this as I am.

Hope the Record is hiring.

July 1, 2008

Kyla is having the best week ever

It's been fantastic. A few of the highlights:

5. A thief broke into my apartment (my room, to be exact) and stole my prized Halloween panties. The burglar, who is now known within my circle of friends as "The Great London Panty Snatcher," has a warped sense of what's valuable and what's not. Now this might not seem like a good thing, and to be honest, I'm a little distraught about it, but it makes for a great story. I'll use this one at cocktail parties for years.

4. I saw Dan, a guy I know from IU (ok, he's a big shot, the student government VP) in central London the other night. What are the chances?

3. I celebrated Canada Day. (With my Canadian roommate, I don't do this weird stuff alone.) And then went for some vitamin T, better known as tapas.

2. I just found out that my favorite book, 'The Time Traveler's Wife,' is going to be made into a movie with my favorite actress, Rachel McAdams, and one of my favorite actors, Eric Bana. This may have me more excited than the release of the best album ever...

And the number one reason I'm having the best week ever....

1. I saw Roger Federer play on Center Court at Wimbledon!!! I entered the gates of the great athletic complex with no knowledge of the game and left obsessed. Or at least until I find another sport full of hot players to watch. Also saw Serena Williams walk by. And Tommy Hilfiger.

June 26, 2008

Greetings from Kyla's Roommates!

Hello Indiana! This is Cassie, Sally, Ayumi, and Kayla, four of Kyla's roommates here in London. Kyla made the mistake of leaving her computer on downstairs, and we are taking advantage of that tonight.
As far as updates in Kyla's life, we are all getting ready to go to a Karaoke bar for the evening. She is wearing the new gold gladiator sandals she bought today, they are so hot right now. Tomorrow, she is going to Wimbeldon to watch tennis hotties like Andy Roddick sweat, in real life! Saturday, we are heading to Portobello Road Market so we can indulge in Kyla's fav, a chicken burger. In other news, her favorite pair of Halloween underwear was stolen from the floor of her bedroom this evening. The culprit: a drunk man in a brown hoodie seen jumping from our balcony, bottle and underwear in hand, before being seen by a good samaritan on the road who alerted us to the situation.

Kyla just walked into the room, and didn't notice me creating a blog entry on her computer, but did take the time to show me what we think may be a bunyun on her little toe. It's time for karaoke now, talk to y'all again soon!!!

June 20, 2008

Only in London...

Just got an email at work with the subject line "Anyone fancy Istanbul for lunch?"

At home we're limited to Italian, Mexican or Asian Fusion. Also, fancy's a funny word.

June 19, 2008

Kyla has a prayer answered

Sometimes, in your life, there are things you just can't tell other people. I don't usually admit to liking the taste of my upper lip after I work out (it's the salt, I swear). I don't often tell people that I have a secret fear of getting bleach on my teeth and having them rot down to the nerve.

So when I found out about the Naked Bike Ride set for last Saturday, as much as I wanted to go, I couldn't bring myself to ask a roommate to accompany me. No one wants to be anointed the creepy roommate, and this would definitely put me into that category. I'm straddling the fence though, after looking up from my book on the tube the other night and randomly commenting on my roommate's great cheekbones. Whatever, she has fantastic bone structure.

My point is, it doesn't fly when you say, "Who wants to go watch a bike race with naked people with me?" when you're sitting around the dinner table. I didn't want to go watch the ride for any creepy reasons. I don't think I wanted to see anyone naked, I just wanted to see how many and what kind of people would take part in such an event. And I think, deep down, you'd feel the same as I did if given the chance to behold such a spectacle. Giddy.

Well, I was lucky. While sitting at a pub Saturday afternoon (after the assault incident, there is some redemption) I heard a rambunctious noise outside. I ran out to see what was going on and was pleasantly surprised. There, right in front of me, was the phenomenon that is the Naked Bike Ride. Twenty minutes of naked riding going by, to be exact. It was full of people of every shape and size. There were women who looked like they'd teach your Sunday School class. There were men who'd wear a suit and sit next to you on the tube. People of all age, race and economic demographics joined together to ride the streets in the buff, working to spread their messages of protest against oil dependency and car culture. It was everything I'd hoped it would be, and possibly much more.

Imagine if people used this method to protest everything.

"No need for a union strike, let's just ride through the city streets naked!"

"Fantastic idea! That will really raise awareness for our desire for wage raises and better working conditions!"

I have some great pictures, but my parents might look at this and I don't want them to make me come home.

Kyla gets assaulted

Tonight I'm staying in. My roommates and I desperate for food, but short on groceries. We're searching for recipes that require the three ingredients we have: butter, sugar and flour. But we're pretty flexible-- it can be brown OR white sugar, because we have both. Looks like we're having shortbread. We found an easy bake oven recipe, so we're going to try that in a real oven. We'll just halve the temperature. Sally's in the kitchen right now, mixing ingredients. She'll make a great wife someday. I'm sitting on the couch, dictating the recipe to her and looking up measurement conversions. I knew fractions would come back to haunt me someday.

You're probably starting to get jealous of my crazy life, but just know it's not all fun and games. In fact, just last weekend, while on the tube, I was viciously, verbally attacked by the threatening words of a crazy man.

It all started out innocently enough. A friend from home, we'll call him N. wait, that's too obvious... Nolan B., and I were heading to a market in Notting Hill. I needed a German chicken burger, and he needed a carton of blueberries. Portobello Road is the only place in the world with both. My roommate was with us, as well. The three of us found our seats in an otherwise empty carriage. A man of African (what is the proper term here? can't really use African American...) decent got on, too He had his phone up to his ear, and it was blaring reggae, much like a boom box. This guy was straight thuggin'. As he passed, I looked up at the him-- a natural reaction when someone walks by you dancing to their phone/boombox. No big deal, right? Wrong.

I have always heard you're not supposed to make eye contact with strangers on the tube. I now know that's not a myth. A few stops later, as the carriage filled up with other passengers, the man got up and walked over towards me. I was sitting by the door and assumed he was just waiting to get off. Wrong again. He had come to yell at me. It went something like this:

"You're UGLY! You've got an UGLY FACE! I'm going to SMACK it and BREAK it. And your boyfriend's (Nolan) ugly, too. Your face is UGLY. "

This goes on for a few minutes and I was, maybe for the first time in my life, speechless. He screams in my face, others look, and then he stops. I turn to Nolan and say,"Anyway..." and try to think of a story to tell him to reduce the awkwardness.

The guy starts again. Same sorta thing, only he ends it this time by saying, "I'm joking," and looks out the window. Then he turns back towards me and says, "But I don't like the look you gave me. I might be ugly, but you are too! You look at me like you're so much better than me. You're no better than me. You're UGLY and I'm going to hit you and your boyfriend's faces."

At this point I look at a man across the aisle, who does the international symbol for crazy (pazzo, loco, etc.)-- the finger spin at the side of the head.

And maybe I should mention that earlier, before screamfest began, I watched the guy pick up his Red Bull can and attempt to chuck it out the door. Unfortunately, he missed and it bounced off the window, back into his lap. He picked it up again and heaved it out the door, this time, successfully. I watched the whole thing because it was, for lack of a better word, awesome. This guy didn't give a darn. He didn't respect authority. He had better things to worry about-- like his public jam session.

So I might have made eye contact there, too. But if he would looked a little closer he would have seen revenrence in my eyes-- I've always aspired to be a rebel, but I think anyone who knows me knows how far from that I am. In 4th grade, I told on myself because I went into the boys' bathroom on a dare. I lost sleep over it the night before I confessed. I got myself so psyched up for the imminent punishment that I was actually a little disappointed my teacher didn't cserve some up. She didn't even care-- she didn't try to scold me or tell me I had misbehaved -- she actually thanked me and COMMENDED me for being honest.

Anyway, this guy was cool in my book. But he didn't know I felt like that. He finally finished ranting at me, and everyone on the tube reassured me that I needn't be embarrassed, he was obviously crazy. Later Nolan and I were talking.

"All I could think was, 'I hope Nolan can take him,'" I said, "because I was pretty sure he was going to hit us."

"Oh I could. I'm trained to kill," Nolan responded. "But I was going to make sure he knew I wasn't your boyfriend, so it would never have gotten that far." Thanks, buddy.

And then, on the way home, Nolan was trying to get me to do a pull up on a hand bar in the tube.

"No. I don't want to make a scene on here," I responded.

"YOU don't want to make scene on the tube? Hmmm..."

Cookies are ready.

June 13, 2008

Kyla goes green

Now, don't start judging and assume I've turned into a hippy. That's simply not so. I'm not going to attach solar panels to my computer. I'm not going to reduce the amount of toilet paper I use. However, my job has required a lot of environmental research and I have been bombarded with enough green facts over the past three weeks that I'm starting to feel like Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio's love child. This has made me think about my own actions and I've come to the conclusion that I'm pretty irresponsible.

There are some that completely disregard the planet and the consequences of their actions. You know the type-- they rev their SUV's engines just for the heck of it, they pull up in front of their apartment and, instead of taking their trash into the house, throw it under the car...I could go on and on.

But then there are extremists on the other side of the spectrum. They spend an inordinate amount of time protesting in trees, they make their clothes out of recycled newspapers...kooky stuff like that.

I like to think I've found myself tucked somewhere in the middle. My actions haven't completely caught up with my good, green intentions, but I really am going to try to make a more conscious effort to be a better global citizen. I don't know how true the facts about global warming are. I don't know how much longer the oil reserves will last. I don't even know if some species of birds are really worth all of the effort to save. But I do know that it doesn't hurt to make some small changes that can only help make the air cleaner, my body healthier, and my (limited) bank account stay a little fatter.

Therefore, I pledge to do the following*:

1. Turn my fan off during the day. I sleep with a fan on. I'm not going to change that, it's one of my favorite things. Ever. Probably even more than fruit gushers. But there's no reason I can't go over and shut it off when I wake up in the morning. Same goes with lights. In fact, unplugging isn't a bad idea at all. I've read somewhere that energy is used whenever something is plugged in, regardless of whether or not it's on.

2. Walk to campus/Kirkwood when possible. There are just some times when I'll have to drive, and I'm fine with that. I'll have to drive when it's raining, when conditions are arctic-like, when I'll be coming home too late to catch a bus, and when I can't sweat. But there are a lot of times when I just need to run on and I don't need to turn the car on to do so. I walk home here every night, and it takes over an hour. Getting to and from campus takes less time than that.

3. I will throw my trash in the trash can. This doesn't really do much to save the Earth or reduce waste, but it keeps it from ending up in my front yard, a bird's throat or the paws of a raccoon who might want to ''give it a whirl.''

4. I will reuse grocery bags. I think it's a proven scientific fact that the average American has, at any given time, approximately 400 plastic grocery bags hidden under their sink, in the laundry room or shoved in a drawer somewhere. It's a little tacky to do so, I suppose, but there's no reason not to take your bags back and reuse them at the grocery store. I think they have a name for this sort of behavior over here-- it's called a 'no-brainer.'

5. I will hang dry my clothes whenever possible. At home, Mom and Dad love to hang towels to dry on the line. I hate the resulting scratchy feeling, but it makes a lot of sense. They aren't paying to run the dryer, and it probably makes the towels last a little longer. I can do the same with a lot of my clothes. *NOTE: This action may improve mental health, as well, as it eliminates clothes shrinking, a major contributor to an overwhelming number of depression cases.*

There are about 2.65 million other things I could do, but I'm taking baby steps. I think you should think about your actions, as well. If not for the environment, for yourself. Walking more than you drive can only help you (unless you live somewhere like which case, please drive...and lock your doors), making both your heart and your checkbook healthier. I challenge you to make a small list of five changes you can make, as well, and really try to adhere to them.

*Conditions subject to change once I return to the States and my fuel-, efficiency-driven life.

June 2, 2008

Kyla learns about ostrich riding

Went to lunch with the boys today. We started sharing stories about squirrels: Jon, the lover of all things wild, pulled out his phone and showed us a picture of a squirrel he'd taken earlier this morning, Simon ranted about a particularly messy instance involving a squirrel and an extractor (above the stove) fan, and Leang and I just listened. Apparently American squirrels are better behaved, as between the two of us, we couldn't think of a single story to tell.

The conversation then shifted to childhood experiences. I shared the usual stories: bottle feeding a newborn calf back to life (or so I like to think), sending the dogs and cats down the slide in the back of a Tonka Truck, playing with our twin piglets (Leslie and Kendra, I think I named them, after my best friends from church camp that year), and, with my brothers' help, sneaking the trampoline over to the side of the pool to catapult each other in while Mom wasn't looking.

Jon, our resident South African, had a few interesting stories, most involving wildlife, of course; however, the one that really takes the cake is his account of ostrich riding. He claims that it's quite popular in South Africa, and after a short web search I found this to be true.

Not a common form of transport, however the Ostrich's poweful legs and bulky body make it more than capable of supporting a human being. Their ability to run at up to 35 mph while carrying a person has led to ostrich racing, which is popular in Africa and some Arab countries. A dangerous sport, like horse racing, it demands a considerable amount of skill to stay on. (

And so this, my friends, is how the elusive sport of ostrich riding works, according to Jon:

A rider climbs up a bit, on a fence or something, so it's easier to get onto the ostrich's back. Riding the bird is quite tricky, so you have to be sure to stabilize yourself as best as as you can. This involves putting your legs under the bird's wings. If you've picked a respectable place they'll lift the wings for you. Otherwise, you're on your own. After you've scooted your limbs under the wings they are put back down, securing your legs into a seat belt of sorts.

"Wait a minute. Isn't this a little awkward?" I asked Jon, pausing him mid-way through his explanation.

"Of course," he replied. "These wings are massive, and it's hot and moist under them. I mean, you can imagine an armpit, well, it's like putting your legs into the big, smelly, hot, damp armpit of a bird. Only with feathers."

Giant, disease-carrying, feather-covered, smelly, moist, hot pockets. Just what I'd want to stick my two favorite apendages into. At this point, our food comes.

Anyway, once you get your legs situated, you grab the neck, give it a smack, and off you go.
"But they're quite stupid, aren't they?" asked Simon, who, like myself, has never been fortunate enough to ride one of the oversive birds.

"Oh yeah, they're incredibly stupid," said Jon.

"Well then, how do you stop?" asked Leang.

Jon then went on to explain something about how they run down these lanes and just stop at the end, where you 'dismount.' And, I assume, immediately burn your pants and wash your legs.

"The thing I've always been a little nervous about is if they drop you and turn back and begin pecking at you," said Jon. "They have these huge beaks. They're this big" (He then shows us an area about the width of his hand.)

Sign me up.

May 31, 2008

Kyla tries on "skinny jeans"

Well, today I decided to take a walk. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don't ever casually stroll. I....well, I charge. People have cried trying to keep up with me. This isn't really important, I just want to give you as clear an image as possible. Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to see where my new apartment was situated and so I set out to find it.

I brought my trusty map. I always carry it with me. Not only is is useful, it's a lot of fun. I enjoy passing roads and looking up my location, just to see how much further I've gone since I last checked. I'm not sure if I think it will make my trip any faster, it just gives me some sort of weird satisfaction. Unfortunately, my map habit is kind of embarrassing. There's no better way to look like a tourist than by pulling out your map and staring at it, usually quite perplexed-like, for extended periods of time. And the size of mine adds to the problem. While it stores as a nice little sqaure, it folds out into a not-so-discreet HUGE rectangle. However, I have come up with a great solution: I unfold my map INSIDE my purse and look at it, all the while pretending to be looking for something, like chap-stick. Then, once I've figured out what I need to know, I raise my eyebrows and nod my head in an "AHA!" sort of way, pull out and apply the "lost" chap-stick, and then continue on my way. (Note: If you are going to do this, try to switch up the item you're looking for. People around you might think it's strange that you have to search for and apply chap-stick every minute or so. Other suggested items: gums, sunglasses, sanitizer, maybe a q-tip...the possibilities are endless.) It's a little tough, but I only unfold to reveal the area I need.

An hour, quite a few map checks and some very smooth lips later, I made it to my future apartment. It seems to be pretty nice. It's in a clean, safe part of town (although you have to walk through an area that seemed like Turkey or Iraq or some other Middle Eastern country to get there) and has a gated entrance. It's no Hoosier Courts at Henderson, but it will certainly do. I'm very excited to move in because I'll be living with three other American interns and I'm just tired of the hostel life. Getting ready for work out of a suitcase every morning is getting to be kind of difficult.

I decided to take the tube back. Not because my feet hurt or anything, but because I felt I really should time the journey for work purposes. I wouldn't want to misjudge it and be late! It took just under 20 minutes to get to Oxford Circus, the center of busy Oxford Street. This means it will take no more than 30 minutes to get to work. A little longer than the current three minute commute, but I can live with that if it means having my own bathroom.

I decided that while I was on Oxford, near so many stores, I might as well look for some "skinny jeans." I think it's safe to say I don't really have the ideal "skinny jeans" shape. I've always been a bit...athletically built. Nonetheless, I have been eating less, walking a lot, and, truth be told, I've been a bit self-conscious walking around in my flares while the rest of London confidently strides about in their ankle hugging pants. So, I grabbed the nearest pair that looked like they'd at least snap and headed to the dressing room (or, as I now like to call it, the "box of shame"). I needn't go into details or be too graphic-- let's just say that getting the"skinny jeans" on (or at least halfway up) and then back off was comparable to a work-out and I left the store sweating, panting, and humbled. To make myself feel a little better, I, you guessed it, grabbed a bite to eat and began to search for some socks.

Not a bad day.