Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where are you from?

At the beginning of the new semester there's one question that quickly follows asking for your name...
"Where are you from?"

It's a simple enough question but my answer to that question has been teased since I came to college 3+ years ago. (yes, it's been that long!) I always say:
"Northern Virginia, right outside of DC."
What's wrong with that? Well, apparently it's me having an attitude about where I'm from. I'm not the only one who does it, we all get that response those of us from NOVA. It's because we are not from just Virginia. We're from Northern Virginia. It's different. 

Some of the things that mean you're from Northern Virginia:
  • You take major highways to school (66, 28, 50, 95 etc)
  • You constantly complain about there being nothing to do, even though you're right next to DC
  • You have at least 2 friends who have no idea what their parents do because it's "top secret" government work
  • It takes 15 minutes (at least) to get everywhere, regardless of how far away it is
  • Local news is national news
  • Despite the fact that Virginia fought for the south in the Civil War, you are NOT a "southerner"
  • The cars in the student parking lot are worth 3x those in the teacher parking lot
  • There are at least 3 malls within 20 minutes of your house
  • When traveling, you can choose between 3 airports
  • An inch of snow means you miss 3 days of school
  • You're driving on the beltway at 2am and there's still traffic
  • 9:30 isn't just a time, it's a place
  • If you stay on the same road long enough, it'll have 3 different names
  • The beltway isn't just a road, it's a border
  • You've been to Williamsburg on at least one field trip in your life
  • You tell West Virginia jokes
  • Your remember the blizzard of '96
I'm proud of my status as a Northern Virginian. It may get some eyebrow raises and some follow up questions, but I love it. And I'm sure everyone can agree that they know someone from the area and it is indeed pretty awesome.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trending: The Kardashians

I have a guilty pleasure. 
As of late, it has taken up a LOT of my time.
I've become partial to the letter K.
I have the urge to call people "doll".
It's dramatic.
Mostly stupid.
And it's on Sunday nights at 10. 

Yes, it's Keeping Up with the Kardashians
I have a problem.
Natalie and I sat as vegetables for like 5 hours catching up on the current season.
We also nearly ended a party to watch the latest episode.
I recently started following my favorite sister on Twitter. (love you Kourtney!)
And with help from Natalie, we have successfully analyzed the whole family.
Basically, Khloe does everything, Kim is a diva, Kourtney does whatever she wants. 

I'll get around to school eventually.
For now, watch this

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stepping Out

Here we go, Fall Semester 2011.

Usually in preparation for a new school year I am stressed. I am running around enjoying the last of summer freedom, giddily setting up a new apartment, running endless errands and getting all my school supplies all ready. This year seems different though.

As I packed to come out to school I was very relaxed, stress free even. I'm moving back into my same apartment so things are already pretty settled here. I do have some errands I'm doing but I am really just not feeling the stress too much. 

Thinking back, I haven't been my stressed out self in quite some time. Being in London and spending the summer at home really took a lot of the stress out of my life. No need to make big decisions, no real time crunches, no day-to-day scheduling and to-do lists. So now as I head back into a new semester, I'm stressed about being stressed. Silly or what?

I'm a little worried I've taken on too much. As of now I'm in enrolled in 16 credits and have a job. There may have to be some readjusting but I'm just really jumping in head first here. 

I just finished reading a book by Noelle Hancock called, My Year with Eleanor. It's based around the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
It's all about facing your fears. Whether they be skydiving or having an uncomfortable conversation.

So in preparation for this semester I'm ready to take on Eleanor's advice and do things that scare me. I'm a pretty introverted person, not necessarily shy but I don't particularly thrive in new situations. So a new semester where everything is new and changing... not my greatest time to shine. But, I'm going to really try and fight my instinct to put my iPod in and walk in solidarity to class, to pick the row with the fewest people so I can be left alone, to only go to parties where I know the majority of the people there, and to only talk to my friends. 

I'm pushing the boundaries this semester. You can hold me to it. While I may not be doing anything radically crazy, I'll be stepping out of my comfort zone for sure. 

Step 1: conquer my new job as a TA in a department I'm not entirely familiar with and doing something I'm not entirely comfortable with. It'll take some adjusting. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

So Long Sweet Summer


My last few Virginia days were well spent.
I made a few stops into DC: eastern market, newseum, dinner with Katherine
Saw a movie with the family: One Day (oh how it made me ache for Europe)
Ate at some of my favorite restaurants: The Counter, Nandos and Rio Grande
Had a pleasant pool day
Experienced an earthquake
Hugged friends goodbye
Packed up cars
Packed up my life
Made a final Cafe Rio stop in Maryland and flew to Utah. 

As I was sitting on the plane, I was thinking about this year so far. 
It started with a BANG in Europe and then I was in Virginia.
Honestly, I was feeling really conflicted about being home for the summer. I had friends in Provo and home is just never quite the same as all my college co-eds can attest but, I'm oh so glad I did. 

It was nice to spend some quality time with my parents and I think I helped ease them into their current state as empty nesters. It was so homey to have an established routine with my dog. When I went to bed every night I would leave my door open a crack so that Nikki could come wandering in the next morning to cuddle with me. I loved getting to spend some time doing things with people that I rarely see and even with people I see all the time. And I really love my trips downtown. 

So as I mourn the loss of summer and the warmth, at least I can feel good about how I spent those hot summer days. 

so long sweet summer, I stumbled upon you and gratefully basked in your rays

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kids Say the Darnest Things

This summer I returned to my job as a "recreational leader" (aka camp counselor) for a group of 1st and 2nd graders. While I may not remember every funny thing that has happened this summer with those munchkins, I have to admit I do really like my job. I'm exhausted and frustrated at the end of every day but I always have a story to share.

One of my favorite overheard conversations between 2 boys: 
"When I grow up, I'm going to go to a government building, use one of their machines and get super powers!"
"Are those even real?"
"Of course they're real! Like Captain America!"
"DUDE! Why didn't you tell me about this sooner!?"

Not all of my time spent with the little ones was fun and games though, it has given me a boatload of experience. I have talked to kids about how their parents are getting a divorce, dealt with behavioral issues that are much deeper than they appear, helped kids who are overwhelmed by family situations, and dealt with unmentionable amounts of injuries and bodily fluids.

It's an incredible feeling to be loved by these kids. To be the one they run to when they're upset. Whether it be your boyfriend breaking up with you (the couple in question was 6 and 8 haha), your older brother hurting your feelings, missing your mom and dad, none of the kids being nice to you, feeling sick or just needing someone to cuddle with. It's priceless to those kids and to me as well. I love being "Miss Sara".

The summer's over and after some fist pounds, hugs, final pokes and tickling I said goodbye to Summer Fun. Thanks for two good summers.

And if you want to hear any more stories about throwing rocks, punching kids in the face, me getting pinched, my supposed wedding that got planned, rumors about my co-workers or who the favorite kids/counselors are... let me know.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

finally reading

we read to know we are not alone - c.s. lewis

I've always been a reader. When I was younger I had a flashlight hidden under my bed so that I could read after my mom had told me to go to bed. Then I was reading Dear America books and the Harry Potter books. 

However, my love for reading was silenced for a few years. I would read when on vacation and occasionally here and there but it seemed rare. It was probably due to just life and being busy. No one really reads in high school anyway and while in college I just have to many textbooks and other things to do.

When in London I was in a literature class and the way it was planned out was that we would read a book every week. The books were written by English authors and correlated with our history class and what we were doing in our program at the time. For example, when going to Ireland and learning about the Irish Famine we read books about the Potato Famine and another book based in Ireland around Irish traditions. It was awesome. While truthfully, I didn't finish all the books (sorry Professor Crowe), it was a great way to get me back into my knack for reading. 

So since I've been home that's what I've done. I've been consistently reading, researching books, spending afternoons in bookstores and keeping my Goodreads account up to date. It's been awesome. Honestly, books set in London have caught a lot of my attention but so have memoirs. I have really loved learning about people and understanding them through their books. (now if Kate Middleton would just write one...)

In all honesty, this summer has been a bit of a recovery and relaxing summer from my high speed European adventure so I have spent a lot of time laying in my bed just needing some time to myself after sharing a room with 12 girls for a few months. But, reading kept me company. So that's where the C.S. Lewis quote comes into play, I knew I wasn't alone because I was with Jerramy Fine, Jeanette Walls, and Gretchen Rubin- among many others whose stories I read. (with the help of my handy dandy Nook and "Keep Calm and Carry On" bookmark)


Some of my favorites this summer have been the following:
Someday My Prince Will Come
Room
The Happiness Project
The Glass Castle
The Help

Hopefully I can figure out how to keep reading while at school. I guess I'll have to go to Barnes & Noble frequently and stick to my goal of 30 books by the end of the year. I am halfway there after all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Number 34

Due to the new ranking from CNN Money's list of "America's Best Small Towns" with Herndon, Virginia (aka home sweet home) being number 34 of 100 (not to mention the other 25,375 others) and Herndon High School being in the 5th percentile of the country's schools according to Newsweek....

Here is my ode to Herndon.

I moved here when I was 5 and have attended K-12 at all Herndon schools. 
I am a proud Herndon Hornet.
Not to mention I was a cheerleader. (If that isn't town pride I don't know what is.)
I have walked in many a homecoming parade.
I frequented the Herndon library during the summer reading programs.
I have attended most Herndon Festivals, even hosting a birthday party there once.
-it's always in town during my birthday weekend-
Friday Night Live was a hotspot in my younger years.
You name an organization with the word Herndon in it, I'm probably a member.
I sport a Town of Herndon sticker on my car.
We are conveniently located right outside of Washington D.C.
When a friend's parent dubbed Herndon "the ghetto"- we quickly stood up for our sweet town.
The Trail (aka the W&OD Trail) is frequented for walks, bike rides and even picnics.
I have painted "the rock".
I have a ridiculous amount of apparel and memorabilia with Herndon written all over it.
I have received paychecks from the Town of Herndon.


My Herndon has meant the world to me as I've grown up, made lasting friendships, created meaningful memories, and enjoyed the joy (and sometimes the curse) of my small town.

So here's to you Herndon.
You'll always be home.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"You is Kind"

Since I heard that there was a movie coming out based on the book, "The Help". Everyone has been telling me left and right to read it. Admittedly, I didn't get the book until Thursday and then made plans to see the movie Saturday so unfortunately, finishing the book is still a work in progress. But, I love the story.

We made plans to go see the movie with some of our favorite families yesterday and it seemed as if we filled that theater. The Turners, Neels, Buhlers, Fredricksons, Freemans, Wrights, and McKoys had a night full of The Help.

I loved the movie and how it was based on a story that was so real and emotional yet, I was smiling throughout the whole thing. You can't help but love Minny's excentric sense of humor, Celia Foote's quirky personality, Miss Walter's gumption, Aibileen's kindness and Skeeter's drive. Together, they all made for some great entertainment.

I have to say my favorite part of the whole story though is the confidence and good values that the maids teach the little ones. When Constantine taught Skeeter about what ugly really is and when Aibileen teaches Mae Mobley to remember, "I is kind, I is smart, I is important." I think we all need those reminders sometimes and may even need to remind others of those important lessons from time to time.

After seeing the movie everyone headed to our house for some good chocolate pie (without that special ingredient). The men lounged in the family room, some played games and others had meaningful conversations. I think we all felt pretty good about ourselves at the the end of the night. As mentioned as the final people went out the door: "good movie, good pie, good friendships". I think that's how all of us felt as we went to bed that night.

Now even though I'm still working on the book, some of those in attendance last night got the idea to fry up some chicken with Crisco as a Sunday night treat. (In addition to Trina's waffles!) And so continues the celebration of The Help.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

breaking my heart

Unless you've been under a rock lately or cutting off all social networking use, you've heard about the recent events in London I assume?

No, not the Royal Wedding.
No, no other english pop princesses have died.
No, there's not another Hugh Grant movie coming out depicting a specific neighborhood.
(Well, maybe there is... I don't know)

There are these riots going on. Mostly for the sake of rioting and having the right to "do whatever you want". (obviously there are more details than this but I feel this is what it boils down to)

It is out of control. There are videos depicting terrible acts of violence and vandalism, numerous accounts of how terrified residents are of leaving their homes, and of businesses boarding up their windows in fear of getting looted. There are hundreds of arrests and who knows how many injuries.

It is breaking my London-loving heart.

London is supposed to be perfect, classy and timeless.
Right now they are being chaotic, senseless and reckless.
Go back to being the London I know and love please.

It's terrible to hear about Queensway where I did all my late night grocery shopping, Camden where we ate excessively and tube stations being defaced and destroyed. 
Please stop.
If anyone ever needed to, "keep calm and carry on"... this is it.

I just hope there are more people like the woman in this video. 
(excuse the excess language)
"Get real people, get real."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Choosing

This last week 2 things happened that made me realize how important choosing your reaction really is. Doesn't make sense? It will. Read on bloggers, read on.

Incident #1:
I went to the Taylor Swift concert in DC with Erin, Shaunessy and her friend Melissa. In preparation for Tay, she had two opening bands that we mostly just chatted through and enjoyed as background music. It was then that we noticed this oddly tense woman next to me who was strangely interested in our conversation and was giving me a slight case of "the creeps". As Tay got closer to her performance, a group of people about my age came to sit in front of us and were eagerly chatting and Erin and I remarked, "it will be fun to sit behind them". As soon as Taylor came on they stood up and started dancing. Normal right? Well.... no. We were up in the nosebleeds so standing up was completely unnecessary and because of the family friendly nature of the show, a lot of parents were there with their kids and were happily settled in their seats to watch the show. So these people standing up was somewhat a disturbance. Particularly to me and this woman because they were directly in front of us.
The woman was infuriated. After fuming for a few minutes and her soon urging her to settle down (probably out of embarrassment), she fiercely tapped the girls on the shoulder and demanded they sit down. They retaliated by saying that others were standing, it's a concert and I'm sorry. They were right. The woman however was more mad then ever and was sick of arguing with them and screaming so she just said, "shut up! I don't want to listen to you." She then pestered them the entire show by moving and obnoxiously using body language to make her point. Ugh. How embarrassing. Needless to say, after the show I made it clear to the girls that I was in no way related to that woman.
Incident #2:
At work I am constantly dealing with statements made by 6 year olds like, "she said she wouldn't be my friend!"; "they're being mean to me!"; or "I don't have anyone to play with!" Usually, (actually 95% of the time) it's completely false and dramatized, they're 6! But this particular conversation went above and beyond my usual response of "well play with someone else"; "i'll talk to them"; or "you can just hang out with me". These two girls were having an argument about how Hannah was not playing with Julianna anymore. Hannah claimed she needed a break and Julianna just cried and cried. I tried to explain that Hannah has the right to play with others and Julianna has plenty of other people to play with. But instead, Julianna kept crying and I eventually got sick of trying to nicely make her stop with reason. So I took another approach. I told her that she was choosing to get upset about what was going on and is not even taking into account the endless apologies that Hannah was offering and advice I was giving. She just sat there crying while we were trying to help. I told her that her only choice now was to calm down and decide what she wanted to do because sitting there fighting and crying was ruining everyone's afternoon. She took a few minutes, then stopped crying.

I realized these two long winded stories seem unrelated but, as I compared Julianna and Taylor Swift lady, I realized they weren't all that different. They both chose how they were going to react to a situation that wasn't in their favor. Tay Swift lady decided that once her view was obstructed she would be incredibly rude and outright mean. (imagine how dumb she felt when Tay played, Mean) I however - not to toot my own horn - laughed it off and tilted my head and snickered at the psycho lady next to me. Julianna chose to have her afternoon ruined by sitting there crying and not letting anyone help her. Hannah chose to apologize, try to make it better and when it didn't work, she went to play with her friend Lexi.

Sometimes it's hard to ignore or change the emotional response you have to things but sounds to me like it may be the best thing to do. It's a learning process but what a difference it makes.