August 30, 2010

Shoulda been a cowboy...

Y'all, I'm back from Nashville, and let me tell you--what a trip!

The highlight and original reason for the trip was a Haute Couture exhibit at the Frist Center for Visual Arts. It was all the high society, glitz and French-ness we could handle. My mother, my "Sparkle Mom," and one of Sparkle Mom's best friends were my travel companions this time.

After the exhibit, we coined the phrase "Get your Couture on," which served as our mantra for the rest of the trip. Although in a place like Nashville, even Coco Chanel couldn't escape the pull of honky tonk.

By night, we strolled Broadway, a street famous for live music, Southern eats, and denim. There's nothing like fried catfish and hush puppies to make your "Couture" fit a little tighter. Our costumed attempt at country-trashy fizzled to merely fitting in with the crowds inside the bars. Even my "double denim" outfit and red wig didn't stop the show.

Determined to get the attention we surely deserved among the little black dresses and shining belt buckles, on the last night, three out of our four donned leopard print and a big attitude. Aside from the time I went in drag, I have never had so many comments on my outfit. Bars announced the arrival of the Cheetah girls and the tipsy bar-goers were enamored with our audacity to wear nearly matching dresses.

Glitz, glamour, and double denim aside, it's still Nashville, and it's still country. I was born in a state that shows a bucking bronco on the liscence plate, and this trip reminded me of my down-home roots. There are times when I wonder what would have become of me had I stayed in Wyoming. I could be living the dream on a ranch, roping colts, or whatever they do out there. So here's to the little rodeo in all of us, and to the great Toby Keith. Indeed, I should have been a fabulous cowgirl.

August 25, 2010

People want to know me -or- Wow! That's Awkward!

I must be a pretty fun person to know.

I choose places like Cambodia just because, I prefer drastic hair make-overs, and I have a new life plan every three days.

Most of all, I have a flare for injecting drama into everyday situations. Whether it be via a highly embellished story or a heavy dose of awkward, I bring a certain nervous zeal to any situation. I have a feeling it's really entertaining and slightly uncomfortable to watch me do things like meet a new person or navigate a crowded room. I've heard that awkward is "my thing"--it's what makes me so dang charming.

Being anxious and using lots of hand gestures is fine in public. At home, however, awkwardness translates to a major hurdle in decision-making. Especially with grad school options, my interest in a program can be totally spastic. One day, I'm ready to sign up for Linguistics in Hawai'i, the next I'm on the Peace Corps website, and by the third, I've given up all of it to start a small business. Some people call it: "leaving my options open." I call it: "really frustrating way to move further from any decision."

I blab and blog about my indecision a lot because it's a big deal for me. I want to do something as stimulating and challenging as Cambodia with a degree, rewarding career and comfortable salary waiting for me at the end.

But what is it?

August 20, 2010

Coffee, Workee, and Lunchee

Today, going to work was good for my soul.

On the way to work, I treated myself to a coffee from The Mill, a coffee shop located conveniently next door. Although my blog began as an ode to the better-ness of work with coffee in hand, this morning I remembered just how much better it is.

Vienna roast in my little Styrofoam cup, I dutifully labeled bags that would soon hold Cherry Chews, Sweet Finnish Licorice, and Salmiak Rocks.

About halfway through my coffee, the "Licorice Ladies" surprised me with birthday lunch. Talk about good for the soul! They brought a spicy Asian-inspired salad and pepperoni rolls for everyone to share. Because they know I love cold and sweet, they let me pick out two pints of Ivanna Cone's delicious ice cream--they even sang "Happy Birthday".

Today, it didn't feel like I was at work. We were eating good food, critiquing various icecreams and enjoying the simple pleasure of a birthday party. I've only been selling licorice for a few weeks, but they've already made me feel like I belong. That means a lot to me. And getting paid to work with such good company isn't bad, either.

And I'm not just writing this because they know about my blog now. I swear! That's just lucky coincidence.

August 13, 2010

The Year of Perpetual Summer

Summer is the time when it's okay to like the new Usher song or refer to John Mayer as your other boyfriend. It feels good to lose the news in favor of trashy re-runs. It's the time of year that flip-flops have melded to your feet, and that sundress is perfect for any occasion.

In Cambodia, it was summer every day. My students may have missed the references to John Mayer, but I had a flip-flop tan for sure. This year, I got to skip out on a brutal winter, replacing the prairie with the tropics. I came home to the heat and humidity of summer on the plains, sandals at the ready.

Now the Nebraskan Dog Days have come and (with any luck) gone, and Lincoln Public Schools will begin in two weeks. The end of summer used to mean buying notebooks, pens, and hopeless organizational tools that would not make it past October. But this year, come fall, I won't have the usual transition back to school. My birthday will again signal the start of a new term, but I won't be in class.

Maybe if I keep wearing flip-flops, my year of perpetual summer will blaze on and those big, important decisions can wait for the first snow.

August 11, 2010

Labor of Licorice

Thank goodness for my job. Every hour that I don't spend slumped in the armchair with my laptop open is time well spent. Today, as I was offering advice about salty licorice, I realized that I was enjoying myself. Now that I've learned the basics about licorice, I can help people find candy they will enjoy. As a salesperson, I get to showcase my increasing knowledge of licorice, as well as my affinity for foreign countries and languages. I get to ask lots of questions and put the answers together like a puzzle that ends with a little bag of candy--and a cha-ching on the cash register. They walk out the door with a sugar rush, and I walk out with a paycheck. It's good for everyone.

August 8, 2010

Every Vacation Needs a Soundtrack.

It's the essence of family vacation. In our rented Impala, we shared a moment of true family togetherness in a sing-a-long to Ke$ha's "Tik Tok."

There's nothing like your mom and 10-year-old brother harmonizing while your stepdad drums on the steering wheel. "Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack..." Don't stop, guys. Don't stop.

My family met my German grandparents, Opa and Oma, in Hawai'i in honor of their 70th birthdays. Ten days of family togetherness isolated on an ancient volcano. Sounds like heaven or hell, depending.

Armed with David Sedaris books, my journal, and lowered standards for acceptable in-car music, I had a pretty good time.

My favorite meal was from Giovanni's Shrimp Truck near the North Shore. I ordered the only plate that comes with a disclaimer. Extremely spicy, no refunds. Since Cambodia, I've been craving all things mega-hot, and my taste buds met their match in these shrimp. Actually, they were so hot that my whole face turned red.

Besides watching the ripped Hawaiian lifeguards at the beach, my favorite activity was the forest trek. Flashback to Cambodia! My family became the Hawaiian Adventure Crew for an afternoon. The slippery mud and do-it-yourself stepping stone bridges were challenging and rewarding. Sam and Achim jumped off the cliffs at the waterfall while Oma and I marveled at human bravery. Or was it stupidity? By the end, we were soaked in sweat and caked in mud, but we had an unusual adventure. And, I forgot to think about graduate school for a few hours.

We always give Oma and Opa a hard time about their after dinner shots of Schnapps. At home and away, they drink a little of the hard stuff to calm the stomach after a good meal. The house we were staying in had a supply of only one whiskey, so after dinner, we waited for Opa to pour shots of, what else, Jack Daniel's.

Sunshine-filled memories courtesy of Ke$ha.