Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Packing Problems

Serious problem.

This semester, for the first in my life, I am not buying any books. Shocking, I know. I'm only taking 2 classes and they are both upper division grad courses for which the teachers believe themselves the only people qualified enough to be able to issue us information.

This isn't the problem.

The problem is that, without the necessity of carrying books back and forth from campus all I really need is a small steno notebook to takes notes. And I also need a small stack of handouts the teacher has passed around the class.

And a half filled Diet Pepsi bottle.

And a bag of pretzels.

Plus my wallet, keys and cell phone.

All of these things are kind of hard to manage without some kind of device in which to carry them.

I've tried cramming them in my purse, but the hand outs are too tall without folding them over and as soon as I add mittens to the mix the little magnetic button doesn't provide enough force to really get the thing closed.

The next logical step is to use my backpack.

This is where the problem steps in.

Many of you may come from other backgrounds than engineering, so I will have to explain why this is a problem. To do so I will use an analogy.

In the 80's women’s fashion in the workplace fell in love with a little accessory known affectionately as the shoulder pad. They were intended to give an otherwise beautifully formed woman the look of a linebacker and thereby make her and important presence in the board room. The shoulder pad was used to immediately demonstrate your power.

In engineering academia, the backpack provides a similar sign. The bigger, heavier and more stuffed your backpack is, the harder you are working to attain scholastic heights.

This semester I just don't have enough stuff to appropriately fill my backpack. If I put everything I need in my pack and sling it onto my back it would sit there, lying limp, telling the whole world that I am a slacker dum-dum.

This I cannot have.

I've thought about filling my backpack with extraneous books to make it look full and thereby fool the world, but that would just make me tired, and eventually give it up.

Maybe I could stuff it like a 7th grader's bra.

No, that wouldn't do because inevitably someone would squeeze the side and then rumors would fly around the department that I stuffed.

I guess the only solution is to keep juggling all my stuff and making people think I have such and unbelievably huge amount of books, binders and notes that there was just no physical way any human being could fit them into a backpack.

Monday, January 23, 2006

My trip to the dark side

Today I took a trip to the dark side.

Mustering all the courage that I could I took my first tentative step into (duh duh duh) the engineering library.

Although I am an engineer through and through, for some reason I have always shied away from entering the inner sanctum of the engineering library. It always seemed to me that the engineering library was the ultimate demise of all potentially well-socially adjusted people. It was like as soon as anyone entered the twilight zone of the engineering library they were sucked into a vortex of taped together horn-rimmed glasses and high-water pants.

Anyway, I needed to use a book that was put on reserve which mean (horror of horrors) I would have to actually sit in that library the entire time I was using that book.

I went up to the counter and couldn't see anyone there to help me. There was a little silver concierge type bell and a sign indicating I was supposed to ring it. As if I didn't already feel like I, the only girl with mascara on for miles, didn't really fit in, now I was required to sound a bell to announce my presence. I reached my hand out and touched the top of the bell. Time stood still as every head turned in my direction. As though I had a sign on me that said, "look at me, I don’t belong" I turned to the librarian lady who had instantly appeared from nowhere.

There could not have been a more typical librarian at the counter. Short, overly curly, prematurely graying hair was accented by beautiful cat-eyed glasses and lovely faux gold chain attaching both ears. In a completely irritate tone she asked me for the call number of the book I was checking out. With shaking hand I gave her the call number and in a moment she returned with the tome.

It must have been a very valuable book because in the stare down she gave me reminded me of that one time I got pulled over for speeding coming home from a party on New Years. I must have been barely up to her standards, because she haltingly handed over the book.

As I sat at the table and furiously scribbled information I felt completely isolated. There was not a single other girl in the entire library. It was strange. As I walked back and forth, from and to the copy machine (which BTW was 15 cents a page!) I felt like I was a model on a runway. Not that I was looking that great, but I had a riveted audience.

One short hour later I shut the book, threw it off into a return bin, and scuttled out of there. Don't worry, upon close examination there seems to have been limited effect of the engineering library on my psyche. No socks with my sandals...check. Full length jeans....check. Ability to speak to the opposite gender....check.


Usually I am all for having dinner parties. Most of the time they are my very favorite way to meet/spend time with people. They are just long enough to have a really interesting conversation with someone, and just short enough to be able to end something really annoying. The food always provides some kind of conversation starter and usually something funny always happens.
Every month my church congregation offers what they innocuously call "friendship dinners." The idea behind the gathering is to help members of the group get to know each other on a social level, instead of the formality of church attendance. The main thrust is to provide the new people a chance to worm their way into the already established friendships in the congregation.

These dinners usually end up being pretty entertaining, mainly because there is hardly ever anyone new attending these events.

Saturday night the ear doctor and I attended one of these dinners.

These dinners are a little different than normal ones.

To start off, no one chooses who is at the dinner party with them. This makes for some awkward situations. Secondly, the LDS community has a really bad habit of showing up late to things, and not RSVPing. You never know how many people will show up to your dinner or when. Lastly, people don't really understand the concept of pot luck, so you end up having nine zillion salads with no dressing and three plates of overcooked chocolate chip cookies.

Saturday was an exception to the rule because my friend just decided to make all the food and ask people to chip in a couple of bucks on the way out. The ear doctor and I arrived to the dinner first (because it was being held at his house). We sat on the couch and waited for the entertainment to arrive.

As the room filled with awkward people making awkward small talk, the ear doctor and I sat back and observed the dynamics of the room.

The make up of the room was 10 guys, and 4 girls. 2 of the girls were with their boyfriends, leaving 2 that were single. One of the single girls was new to the congregation and was an instant magnet for the marriage-crazed guy who was attending. He monopolized her every moment and didn't leave her alone for a minute. I ended up talking to the other single girl the rest of the night because it was pretty clear that she wasn't interested in talking to anyone else really. The one outsider sat on the couch and made comments which killed any resemblance to a normal conversation. The other couple was quiet and kept to themselves. The host put on weird music. And at the end of the night we all left.

I don't know if any real "friendships" were formed by the friendship dinner, but it sure was entertaining to watch.

Friday, January 20, 2006


In case you don't know anything that is going on in the NFL right now, the Denver Broncos are doing pretty well.

In a normal average season this city gets fully behind the Broncos, so you can imagine what it is like now. I can't go for 10 minutes of my day without hearing someone talk about the Broncos and their chance at the superbowl this year. Everyone is making bets and turning the game this weekend into a pretty high stakes event.

On my way into work today I heard about the most amazing bet.

This woman is a die hard Broncos fan. Her boyfriend is a hard core Steelers man. Therefore, this weekend's game is of particular interest to them, so they made a bet. If the Broncos win this weekend, the woman is allowed to SLEEP WITH ANYONE SHE WANTS once, and vice versa for the Steelers.

Am I the only one who is just shocked by this wager?

Apparently, she says they are in a committed relationship to which neither has ever been unfaithful.

I just don't get it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Doing what you want

There is a girl that is in some of my classes this semester who is miserable. She doesn't like the program, she doesn't like Colorado, and, for all I can tell, she doesn't really like me. Every time we talk she complains. From my perspective it seems like every day she wakes up expecting the day to disappoint. More often than not, she is satisfied.

Recently she has decided that she is going to finish the program a semester early and get out of this department.

When she told me this I thought for a moment and then told her, "good, you shouldn't spend one day doing something that you don't want to."

Deep, good advice, huh!?!

Since saying that a few days ago it has really been on my mind. Should every day be filled only with things you want to do? Is a life lived otherwise as deplorable as Hollywood would have us believe? Is there some merit to sucking it up for a while, doing something you don't want to do for the greater good? Or, in doing so, are you still doing what you want because what you want falls into a greater vision of happiness?

For example.

A while ago I wasn't really enjoying my job. I came in, and I left as soon as I could. I got the job done, and did it well, but I didn't really want to be there. I came to work because it provided me a means to live the lifestyle I wanted in the moment. Also, I came to work because I realized that it gave me experience and provided the necessary stepping stone to get me where I wanted to be in the future.

Looking at it from one perspective, I was doing something every day that I didn't want to do. From the other side of the coin, I was doing what I had to to get to where I wanted to be.

It is this latter perspective that keeps me going when I have a day like yesterday.

Hittin the slopes

Today it's snowing and, from the weather report I heard on the radio on my way into work, it is supposed to be constant all day today and let up tomorrow morning. How on earth am I expected to get anything done with this kind of distraction?!?!? Seriously, I've only skied ONCE on my brand new beautiful girls.

So far this semester is shaping up to be really awesome. I only have one class on Friday. No work and one class! How awesome is that? Too bad it is at 1 in the afternoon, making it kind of hard to get up to the resorts and back in time, but maybe I can go to eldora in that span of time? Maybe I'll try it next week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just a question

Ever had one of those stupid low self esteem moments? You're sitting there knowing that it really doesn't mean anything, but for some reason you're deep in a funk and you can't seem to find a way out. You fully realize that you're making a bigger deal out of things than they really warrant. You keep telling yourself that your friends really do like you, you really are smart, and not all that bad looking.

What? You haven't?

Yeah, well, me either.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The law of increase

It seems that 2005 was the year for people I know to make large acquisitions in their lives.

My sister acquired a husband.

My bff Kathy acquired the sweetest and most adorable baby girl.

My roommate acquired a huge sofa.

My friend genius acquired a degree (and a swell husband).

But for all this gaining experienced by those around me, one would suppose that the trend would rub off on me. Alas, this seems not to have been the case.

Being your run of the mill human, this realization makes me pause. As I allow myself a little moment of introspective indulgence I wonder, do I use acquisitions in life to give myself a little sense of satisfaction and accomplishment? In the long list of names posted to the universal classroom wall does my name have less gold stars next to it than it should?

If I am honest with myself about my belief of constant progression would I count 2005 as a wash because, really, what progression did I make?

Alright, sure, I am a year older and smarter, and I have a semester of grad school under my belt, but what do I physically have to show for the last set of 365 days?

More importantly, why do I feel the need to have something physical? Is it a product of my elementary school days where I got a sticker for having read 10 pages of a Judy Blume novel? Why couldn't the reading have been the reward itself? Is it my ultra-western-driven grooming that has produced this person who needs something to prove that my time has been well spent and that I am growing and learning?

Maybe, for the good of us all, we should eliminate those metallic gold star stickers from our society entirely.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Space for Me

Coming back to your real life after taking almost a month off is strange.

I feel like a totally different person.

So different in fact, that this new person required a total overhaul of my bedroom. I just couldn't stand to come back to the same room I left. For all my hard work on the old room, it never really felt like me. It never really made me feel like I chose it. It was an odd place for me to spend so much time because usually I can't stand to have many things happen to me that I'm not totally satisfied with...especially something that is so totally within my control.

So, this weekend before school started, I totally re-decorated my room.

The drab and somewhat boring yellow walls were covered in a beautiful intense green. The wall-to-wall furniture look was thrown out and I purchased a big beautiful white bookshelf to house the books which have shaped my ideas and molded me. The oppressively large TV was moved from an awkward position in the room into the closet where I can shut the doors to the pervasive influence of MTV streaming seamlessly into my brain. Photos of my family, my friends, and my ideas of beauty were framed and hung on the verdant walls.

After everything was done and I sat back on my crisp white bed. I felt calm and secure knowing that this, at least, was within my control. This was a choice I could make without having to worry about it's repercussions on anyone else. This was something that I could take total selfish pleasure in, and not feel the least bit guilty for doing so.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year

This is officially the longest break from real life I've taken in the last 3 years and it is a little weird.

It reminds me of the one summer growing up that my sister and I weren't enrolled in a million sports and science summer camps. We were both too young to get jobs, but both felt we were too old to go to the myriad of art/soccer/science summer classes that had previously filled our youthful summers. That summer I started every day at 10 am with a rousing game of the Price is Right. Bob Barker was my best friend that summer. Between my shouting "Bet a Dollar" and my spoonfuls of Trix I would think of ways to best ignore my little sister that day.

Following Price is Right there were old reruns of Golden Girls and Murder She Wrote on TNT. Ahhh, the good old days of quality programming. I learned many lessons from both Bea Arthur and Angela Landsbury that summer. After those two shows TV degenerated until it sunk below even my low standards (this was my pre-MTV phase).

After my day of TV I would eventually get showered and put some clothes on just in time to make myself a hot pot of Kraft Mac 'N Cheese. Oh how deliciously those orange bent tubes of joy slid down my accepting and grateful gullet. I still remember the day I decided to replace the 1/4 cup of milk with just more butter and created the most tasty blue box concoction. That day will remain in my memory as one of those shining days of youthful bliss.

Anyway, the afternoon was usually filled by some scheme to get my little sister in trouble while I got to do something I'd always wanted to. It usually went something like this:

Older sister sitting lazily on the couch, younger sister walking around doing who knows what.

With the careless air of only the most scheming of evil geniuses, the older sister pipes up, "Maggie, wouldn't it be cool if we could slide across our hardwood floor like a slip 'n slide?"

Turning on her heal, the younger sister is immediately entranced by the idea and said, "yeah, that would be fun."

With feigned submission the older sister would retort, "yeah it would, but too bad the floor isn't slippery enough."

Like she had be dealt a killer blow, the younger sister would visibly deflated and reply, "yeah, it isn't slippery."

If it had been left at that, nothing else would have ensued. Just as the younger sister was about to walk away and start doing whatever it was that she was doing before, the older sister piped up, "if we could only think of something that would make the floor more slippery. Maggie, can you think of anything that we use on wood to make it more shiny. Anything at all that is in the house and we use sometimes to clean the wood china hutch. If you could I would "PLEDGE" to you that I'd help you use it to make the floor more slick."

For a moment the younger sister racked her brain and then, after a minute of further prodding she guessed, "Maybe...well...the pledge?"

Quickly the older sister reinforced the idea, "yeah, good idea Maggie, we'll pledge the floor and then slide around on it in our socks. Here's the can and some rags and our slipperyist socks."

Two hours later the mom returned to a greased spot on her hardwood floor and two very guilty children.

Today I'm at home, with my sister, while my parents are both at work. After having watched The Ellen show, I don't really know what to do with my day, but something tells me that Maggie's husband won't let me talk her into pledging the floor to make a slip 'n slide. And I can't very well do it myself. I wouldn't want to get in trouble.