Monday, March 28, 2011

All Aboard!

Cue moment of nostalgia:

One year ago today, I was packing for the trip of a lifetime - a one month, whirlwind tour to see the globe.  Ok, I saw multiple European countries.  Conquering the entire globe is still on my to-do list, right under "rewrite resume for summer job."

Anyways, I'm having one of those moments where the amount of work separating me from summer vacation seems insurmountable even though I'll be free from academia in just thirty days.  Papers, projects, tests, and thoughts about final exams are getting the best of me tonight. 

All I want to do is relive my month of train travel punctuated with the occasional schnitzel, Belgian beer, bike trip by the Alps, outdoor market in Nice, and Vaporetto ride around the islands of Venice.  Is that too much to ask for?  Yes, maybe it is.  Since I can't actually hop on the Eurail right now, I'll just think back to some memorable occasions onboard...

You can meet some really interesting people riding the train, especially abroad.  I mentioned him briefly on the (lame) blog I kept while abroad, but Eric Ericcson deserves a proper place in one of my posts.  Lindsay and I met him while we rode the train from Aachen, Germany to Brussels, Belgium.  To be honest, we both were a little creeped out by him at first.  I guess society did a great job nailing that whole "stranger-danger" thing into our brains.  He approached us when we were switching trains.  I think he asked us what platform we were going to and when we realized we were all headed the same way, he tagged along - uninvited.  There was also something weird about his ticket.  I vaguely remember some sort of situation where he could have waited a few more minutes at the station and taken a more expensive, faster train but he decided to take ours since we'd all ride together.  That would sketch out any nineteen year old girls traveling alone, right?

Well we had no choice but to be polite, very aware and cautious, but polite.  We boarded the train and sat a few rows away from him.  Eventually he charmed us and we decided he meant no harm.  He asked if he could read the TIME magazines my sister had brought for us.  We actually discussed U.S. political issues and the new healthcare reforms.  My knowledge of politics is pretty limited (I know, I know, shame on me) yet somehow Lindsay and I really impressed Eric and he told us we were the most politically-intelligent Americans he'd ever met.  This makes me think we were the only Americans he'd ever met, but oh well!

Eric was a suave Londoner, think super-posh accent, well-dressed and very well educated.  He told us that he was moving to Texas in a few months for a job with Ericcson.  He wanted to know if everything really was bigger in Texas.  He also wanted to know if people would think it would be humorous on the first day of work if he appeared to be "thug" - oh yeah, Eric was black and his idea of thug came from what he'd seen briefly on Cops.  Lindsay and I were not quite sure how to answer this question.  Our advice was to wait a few weeks and see what company operations were conservative is Texas these days? 

I was a bit depressed when we had to part ways with our new friend.  I'm a bit clingy when it comes to friendships and I don't like seeing them dissolve.  We did not have much of a choice with Eric though.  I've come to the conclusion that there are just certain people who walk in and out of our lives briefly yet manage to leave a profound impact.  Eric was extremely intelligent but down to earth.  He was easy to talk to, engaging, and funny.  My little story about him does not do him justice.  I hope you are able to recall someone like Eric in your own life.  Someone you only knew briefly but felt like you'd known a lifetime.  Maybe then you'd understand what this post is all about - I'm having trouble putting thoughts into words tonight.  Perhaps that's my sign to wrap things up here.

Eric, wherever you are, Texas, London or some place else in this big ol' world, I hope you are doing well.  Thanks for a wonderful train ride and such a unique memory.  You'll have to tell me, is everything bigger in Texas?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wanna go halfsies? I do.

So here's a fun little story:

As you can imagine, college students don't exactly rush to the gym on Friday afternoons (well, except for this lean-mean-academic-machine!).  They have...other things to do...  Anyways, last Friday I went to the gym after my last class and and I was joined by oh, twenty or so other students.  Needless to say, it was pretty quiet in there and really I couldn't help but overhear this one conversation:

Dude 1: Hey bro, how's it going?
Dude 2: Oh hey man.  It's good.  It's good.  Pumping iron, getting big, you know.
Dude 1: For sure.  I am just so ready for the weekend, I am going out and partying hard because after this, I have got to hit the books for the semester.
Dude 2: Definitely.  Are you graduating in the spring?

(Ok here comes the crucial part of the conversation, get ready!)

Dude 1: Maybe, maybe not.  I don't know if I'm really feeling this whole job-search situation.  Plus, I figure another semester or two here and I might meet someone.  A couple years from now I'll have settle down, get married, and share half my shit with some girl, so I figure I should start looking now.
Dude 2: Oh yeah, I got you, bro.

Ummmmmm what?  Ok, a few things:
1. That man was not your brother but yeah, you were both totally bro...
2. Hmmm, not really feeling the unemployment thing?  You and the rest of America.
3. On whose dime are you going to school on?  If you're willing to pay for an extra semester or two to avoid looking for a job and increase your odds of finding a girlfriend, can I have some money because you obviously have some extra.
4. Oh silly girl who agrees to marry/share with you.  Silly, silly girl.  Not that I've got a plethora of relationship knowledge in the bank but I'm pretty sure I'm not going out on a limb when I say you're idea of a relationship is a bit skewed.

The things one hears on a college campus...

One more random thing: The other day I spilled about half a bag of mixed frozen berries onto the floor.  Being a college student, the best available clean up tool was a broom.  When I was done, the floor looked like someone had tried to murder one of the Fruit of the Loom guys.  It was "berry" messy - har.har.har.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sweet Dreams

Most of my posts are the result of thoughts that swirl in my head for a few days, all with a common theme, that I eventually organize into one (somewhat) cohesive entry.  This one has been working its way through my brain waves for months now though. 

I like my baby blanket.  I like my bunny, Fluffy.  I have also come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the fact that I am twenty years old and I would rather sleep with both my Blanky and Fluffy than without them.  Even if that makes me the world's biggest loser...

Look at how cute they are they are!

The blanket was actually my sister's.  My mom cannot remember who made it for her but whoever it was did a darn good job.  Blanky will soon be 25 years old and it has held up exceptionally well.  There is one corner where the crocheted loop is bigger than any other but that is because when I was little I constantly held that loop with one finger tucked tightly around it.  Awww, I know, how sweet.  Everyone picture little Maura - I probably have "hot budge" sauce on my face from ice cream, my hair is a mess and I just might be missing my two front teeth from an incident involving the YMCA pool and a trip to the dentist...

Now picture me crying.  Why?  Because I have three siblings, whom I love dearly, but also sometimes want to kill.  Meghan has just threatened to take Blanky back because technically it's hers, she had it first.  Heck no, Indian-giver!  Kevin has probably just referred to Fluffy as "Lumpy" which is terribly offensive since she can't help that years of wear and tear have left her inner batting less than fluffy.  And Colin?  Well, as the baby of the family, he probably drooled on one of them or something.  

Despite my sibling-induced struggles with Fluffy and Blanky, they've always been faithful companions.  Coming on family vacations despite my deep fear of leaving one of them behind all alone in a hotel room.  Fluffy made journeys to various summer camps secretly stuffed in the bottom of my pillowcase - I'm sure you all did something similar!  And finally, they joined me at college...until the beginning of this semester, when I decided to try and "grow up" and be without them.

Guess what people - I  did grow up without them.  I realized that sleeping with a small crocheted blanket wrapped around my feet or a lumpy stuffed animal in the crook of my elbow does not make me a child.  Who cares what people think about my pastel Blanky and pink Fluffy bunny.  I like them.  I can do without them just fine, but I like them.  And that is just fine, even if I am a mature adult.  If you don't like it, too bad - just don't call her Lumpy!

So, what was your childhood security item?  Is it still around?  Is it secretly stuffed at the bottom of your pillowcase or displayed proudly on your bed?  I am fond of a little blanket and a pink bunny - and I could careless if the entire blogosphere knew this fact!   

Monday, March 14, 2011


"meow" goes the scaredy-cat.

Guess what world, I have a comedy-buddy. His name is Chris and together we are working our way through a book called The Comedy Bible. One of the first activities in the book was about dealing with fear. We were instructed to write down five things we would have done that very day if fear had not held us back.

Although I am afraid of all you readers knowing my fears and evilly using them against me, I am working on conquering fear, so here we go. In no particular order, five things I would have done last Monday had fear not held me back:

1. Shaved my head - I have always wanted to shave my head. When your own mother suggests a rather expensive smoothing treatment for your hair, you know you have a major problem with frizz and getting rid of my hair is a much less expensive solution than a keratin treatment. Plus, do you know how hot one's head becomes in the middle of summer due to a full head of hair? Oh the convenience of a clean-shaven head... Still, I am afraid. Afraid of what my friends and family would think and of course, what judgments would strangers make if they saw me?

2. Spoken up more in class - Yeah, this is kind of a lame one but it was one of my fears. I am afraid of saying something wrong that would make me look like an idiot in front of a whole classroom of my peers. I am also a little afraid of being right and then looking like a know-it-all freak. Either way, everyone hates me and I become "that girl." Are my fears irrational and a bit exaggerated, yes. Do they still exist, yes.

3. Asked someone one out - Do you want to know who I would have asked out? Really? You want to know? Ok, his name is....HA like I would actually tell you! I think most people have a fear of rejection and I fall into this group. Plus, I am a girl, so shouldn't he ask me? I know, I know, that's a stereotype - but I don't care.

4. Danced everywhere - Ok, this was when I was beginning to be reluctant about sharing my fears. But I do think that if I was not afraid of what other people thought about me I would dance more, maybe not as I made my way to class down College Ave, but perhaps I would put some extra pep in my step wherever I went.

5. Held a tarantula - This one came about from my fear of most things creepy-crawly. Most creepy-crawlies in my life are spiders, aside from the occasional cockroach in college dormrooms, and they get the brunt of this fear. Anything that can crawl up a wall and defy gravity just does not seem completely benign to me. Plus, they could crawl in my mouth or ear when I am sleeping and lay eggs - I've seen something similar on "Medical Mysteries" so it's definitely a legitimate fear...

Then The Comedy Bible told me I needed to conquer one of those fears. Ummm excuse me? Really not fair that you did not inform me of this until after I wrote my fears down. Should I have seen this coming, certainly, but I did not think "the bible" would be out to get me! Well what do you know, my friend Anne knows someone who recently got a pet tarantula. I prefer pet puppies, but that's just me. To each his own...

So sometime in the near future I will be holding a tarantula. If it gets all huffy and decides to jettison hair at me (that's how they attack) I will be holding/chucking-as -far-as-possible a tarantula in the near future.

Conquering fear is good though. It's healthy, right? It instills confidence and self-worth. At least that's what I am telling myself every time I think about my fears. Fake it 'til you make it. Confidence is key. Just a couple antidotes to get you through your fears, people. I have found that hitting "Publish Post" is like slaying a big ol' dragon of fear whenever I put a new post up. Take that fear of judgment, you are outta here!

So what are your fears? How are you going to conquer them? Would you like to go on a date with me where we hold hands tarantulas, go out to dinner dancing, and at the end of the evening, I just might let you kiss me good night shave my head!

"RAWR!" goes the confident-cat.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Groundhog Day

Meet Abbey:

- ain't she cute!
If you couldn't tell from that picture, Abbey is a morning person.

Meet Maura:

- ain't she...
If you couldn't tell from that picture, Maura is not a morning person.
(Maura is also done writing in third person.)

Oh you morning people, always cheerful and happy. It's almost like you weirdos enjoy getting up early - it's disgusting.

Just kidding.

I envy people who can roll out of bed, shake off morning grogginess, and actually be functioning human beings in the morning. Why does any of this matter? Remember that road trip I went on, the one where I epitomized Southern class. Abbey was my chauffeur! Actually Abbey is my friend. Yup, I have friends! And one of them decided she wanted to drive about 1,000 miles with me during six days of pretty much constant companionship. What a friend! And that driving began Saturday morning at about 6:30am. Ew. Maybe that does not sound terribly early to you but after spending the week staying up late to study for exams then staying up late to pack/getting up early to actually finish packing, a 6:30am departure time was pretty much torture for me.

Somehow, I managed to get all my packing and last minute cleaning done - it's possible I even greeted Abbey with a smile and a reasonably pleasant disposition.

It did not last long.

When I am tired, I am quiet. Abbey took advantage of me in my state of exhaustion. And talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. And I enjoyed. Every. Story. She. Told. Me. All fifty-three gajillion of 'em. Especially this one:

When Abbey was younger, her family had a garden. From how she described it, it was like Veggie Tales - on crack. She just listed vegetable after vegetable when she told me what they grew. You name it, they grew it. Nom nom nom!

There was just one problem though - the groundhogs.

The groundhogs would come and eat their vegetables, those devils! What is a man to do? Shoot 'em! At least, that's what Abbey's dad did. He was not alone in his elusive groundhog hunts though. He employed Abbey and her younger sister Tess. Their incentive? Five dollars. Yup, if Abbey or Tess saw a groundhog and told their dad about it, they got five dollars as a reward. It sounded like a good deal to me. It sounded hysterical when Abbey told the story because she ended it with, "I really hated knowing those groundhogs were going to get shot...but sometimes I really wanted five dollars."

The point of this blog post? I just really like that story.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Time to kiss vacation goodbye...

But before I do, here's a little preview of what I did on vacation
and what you'll get to read about in this blog very soon!
I know, you're excited.
Who wouldn't want to read about fun stuff other people did!
I promise I will make it entertaining though.

Highlights from Savannah/Hilton Head:
1. Eating at Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady and Sons
(Two words, people: Cheese.Biscuits.)
2. Miraculous recovery of a wallet and (most of)
its contents after it decided to go for a joyride...
on the roof of the car...on the highway.
3. Tying the record high temperature in Savannah,
rockin' that Southern Belle sundress!

Charleston/Folly Beach/Kiawah Island Highlights:
1. The ocean - 'nough said.
2. New crew neck sweatshirt, completely acceptable
as long as I never wear it with a turtleneck and/or "mom jeans."
3. Avoiding awkward encounters with hostel-mates in Charleston,
almost tops playing with cute lil' puppy also encountered at the hostel.

As you can see from those brief highlights,
the Spring Break Southern Belle Sorority Bonding
Road Trip was quite the success. Now it's back to reality though.
Less than two months until final exams and summer vacation.
Where has this semester gone???