Almost Christmas and other stream-of-consciousness

It’s almost Christmas and there’s so much I still haven’t done. I haven’t wrapped ANY presents yet. That’s right, not a one. I haven’t driven around to look at Christmas lights. I haven’t decorated Christmas cookies. I haven’t watched very many Christmas movies. I haven’t worn all my red sweaters. I haven’t even eaten a single candy cane! (although I’ve got one swimming around the bottom of my purse, waiting for a weak moment when I will cave and devour it, most likely right before supper, thus ruining my appetite and yet making me quite content).

But I’m not that worried about it. The gifts will be wrapped… soon. The cookies will be made… although it might be January. The lights may not get seen. But I decided that this year, I’m not going to stress out about what needs to be done for Christmas. I’m just going to enjoy spending time with my family, continue to catch up on sleep, and relish the fact that life will go on if I don’t check every item off my to-do list.
As my family likes to say… “good enough.”
I am quite excited about my other Christmas tradition though–using my time off from work to lie around my house and breeze through novel after novel, catching up on the wonderful stack of books that have been calling my name for months. I’m a good ways into Wuthering Heights, and I love it, but I’ve got a Pat Conroy novel waiting in the wings, and a Barnes & Noble gift card burning a hole in my pocket.
I should save that candy cane for one of my leisurely reading afternoons.
In other news…
The number one question I get, now that I’m finished with grad school, is “Now what?” Apparently the proper thing to do after one finishes a masters degree is to change jobs. Nobody wants to hear my answer: “I don’t know. I sure do love my job. I love my boss. I find my work to be incredibly interesting. I love the enormous amount of vacation time I get. I love that I get to help people. And I love that my commute is super easy. So yes, someday I may change, but I’m quite content where I am today.” I’ve decided that I’m extremely A.D.D. when it comes to hobbies/projects/after-school activities, and yet when it comes to my job and my church, I am loyal and enjoy the stability that comes with staying in the same place for several years (6 years at one, 5.5 at the other). I’m not sure what that means… the psychoanalzation will have to continue for a bit longer. But I do wish folks would stop asking me the “now what.” That, and the “What do you want to be when you grow up” question. Because I honestly don’t know. I have some inklings, but telling someone you want to stay home and write novels while sitting on your back porch in your pajamas, drinking coffee out of a giant thermos, sort of sounds frivolous.
I had a blind date tonight. I really shouldn’t go on these, as they never turn out, but blind dates are a gold mine for funny stories that I can tell for years to come. Tonight’s was disappointingly uneventful–other than a giant pimple that popped up on my forehead about three fateful hours before the date, there was no drama, no tragedy, no humiliation. It was simply a nice dinner, some pleasant conversation, and the quick realization that there would be no need for a second date. But I did have the most AMAZING flour-less chocolate cake for dessert. So totally worth it.
I am officially in half marathon training mode. I squeezed in a run tonight between work and the date. I should know by now that even after I finish running, my face will continue to look like a red, sweaty tomato for several more hours. Yet I so easily forget this minor detail, so I was still a tad red/sweaty for the date. I’m clinging to the hope that my redness was mistaken for a tan… and not some horrible disease. I guess in either case, it really doesn’t matter. Oh… but did I mention that chocolate cake? (sigh)
I’ve got a month off from teaching Sunday School, so I have time to study something that’s just for me. I’ve decided to hang out in Hosea for awhile, and let me tell you, my Bible Commentary is definitely my friend. This book’s a challenge, but challenges are good.
Off to bed… Christmas Eve launches in just a few hours, and I have some wrapping to do! Merry Christmas, and God bless.


It’s so odd, I should be feeling tons of relief right now. And I am, but I’m also experiencing the aftereffects of a 3 1/2 year adrenaline rush. I have had to go-go-go for so long, and now that it’s over… I have experienced a huge wave of exhaustion. I’d really like to go hide under my comfortable electric blanket for a few days and simply read novels and avoid most of civilization. But in reality, I’m just going to try to take a few nights off to rest and recharge. If you don’t see or hear from me… you’ll know where to find me. Buried under my covers with a good book.

But I promise I won’t stay there for long. You know me… I get my energy from being around others… so just give me a few days and I’ll be back to my normal, energetic self. Only I’ll be better rested.
But first… off to pick out that novel.

Insert sigh of relief here

Did you hear that?

That’s the sound of me NOT DOING HOMEWORK.
Scratch that. That’s the sound of me jumping up and down, doing toe touches and back flips as I think of all of the many things I will be able to do with my life that don’t involve research at the library (okay, so these days research in the library actually means remoting in from home while wearing my pj’s), writing horribly long and boring research papers, taking tests, and reading thousands of pages of stupid journal articles that nobody really cares about.
Okay, I’m sure SOMEBODY cares about the stupid journal articles. Like the moms of the authors. But maybe not. I have the most fantastic mother ever, and I don’t think she ever read the article I had published. I don’t blame here. It was 25 freaking pages! I wouldn’t want to read it either, unless I’m suffering from insomnia, and then it’s a surefire way to get some sleep.
But all that is over. Tonight I finished my VERY LAST HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT EVER. It was a simple 15-page term paper that I churned out in less than four hours. Just as I’m getting more efficient than ever at writing these silly papers… poof, it’s over!
And praise the Lord that it’s over!
I still have to defend my thesis later this week. And I still have to sit through three more classes. But I have no more assignments to turn in. They’re all finished. FINISHED I TELL YOU. And I am a very. happy. girl. Giddy, really.
So giddy that I may not sleep. Hopefully the Benedryl will take care of that.

San Diego

Just got home from my last trip of the year. After adventures in Miami, Colorado, California, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Croatia, I think I’m ready to hole up in my house for a little while and cocoon. I’m only a month away from being done with school, and between now and then all I want to do is hide and nest and eat cereal.

But San Diego was plenty beautiful. I’ll upload pics soon (have you noticed I often promise pics and rarely post? It’s because I know all of you probably see them on Facebook, and it takes too long to upload them twice). But I’ll do my best to upload them. Really. Probably. While I was in San Diego I walked along the beach in front of the famous Hotel del Coronado, I ate the most splendid Spanish food at a spot in the Gas Lamp District, and I enjoyed seeing several hundred marines at my hotel one evening for a marine ball. Many had come alone, it was just a darn shame that I hadn’t packed my cocktail dress in that humongous suitcase of mine. Sigh… maybe next time.
I also got to speak at the national PRSA Conference. That was a bit of a career highlight for me–2,000 public relations gurus at my industry’s largest conference of the year, and somehow I ended up getting a bio in the event guide! I only spoke at a break-out session, nothing huge, but still it was one of those neat resume-building experiences that I’ll probably never do again. All in all, it was a pretty nice trip indeed.
Back to the cocoon… I will see you in mid-December.

This time…

I worked a 15-hour day on Tuesday. Okay, confession, three of those hours were spent sitting in class. But that’s a whole lot like work (especially because I was still wearing my work clothes), so I’m going to just lump that in with the other 12 hours. I got to work at 7 a.m. and got home at 10 p.m. Yeah… a long day.

Which might explain why I accidentally ran into a store display at the gas station. I had to stop and get gas about 9 p.m. right before I headed back to the office to take care of a few last things, and decided to run inside to grab a Gatorade to hold me over until dinner (yeah… no dinner until 10… I’ve started eating that late about three times a week… great for the figure I’m sure). Anyway, I was in a total rush, as usual, and so tired that I wasn’t being very careful, and just plowed right into a big store display of chips and candy bars. I have a nice big bruise on my hip to prove it. Off came the candy bars, scattering all over the floor, as the other customers–all there to buy their beer and lottery tickets–stopped and stared at me in unison… giving me that judgmental, “Uh huh, I bet she’s drunk” look. Awesome.
But I have good news… 36 days until all of my assignments are turned in, my thesis is defended, and I am DONE FOREVER with school. That’s just five weeks from tomorrow. Praise Jesus!

I passed!

PS–I got an A in summer school! I guess this proves that procrastination is perfectly acceptable, since I wrote my 50-page paper in just four days. It was kind of like ripping off a band-aid, only to reveal a raw, bleeding wound. So glad it’s over.

Ten classes down. Two more to go. I’ll be completely finished with grad school in only four months. Praise Jesus.

Nine down…

I finished classes number 8 and 9 this week. It was my seventh semester in grad school. The end of my third year. Two more semesters to go, three classes left. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…

And the good news is, I was hoping for B’s this semester. But I got A’s instead.
I’m looking forward to a 5-week reprieve from thinking, which I will happily enjoy as I sit on a boat in the Mediterranean for three weeks, and then back home as I entertain my British relatives for two weeks while they visit for my sister’s wedding. This may be the most fun five weeks I’ve ever had. I can’t wait!
But now, back to my friend Beth Moore as I finish up Sunday’s lesson (while munching on cinnamon bread sticks). What a great start to my vacation!

Cookin’, and hangin’, and wishin’, and dreamin’

I have so much in my head that’s just begging to spill out onto the page, but it will have to wait. I’ve got somewhere between 15-20 people coming to my house for Easter lunch on Sunday, and I’ve got tons to do to get ready for it! I absolutely LOVE hosting people at my house, and can’t WAIT to have everybody here together. Most of the people, besides my immediate family, are other single people from church whose families are out of town and needed some place to go. It has become a tradition to host at least one random person at our family holidays, but this year is definitely a new record! I figure, the more, the merrier! I’m so happy to have friends take part in a special celebration. Plus, I like an excuse to cook for hungry people.

And in true Bethe-the-overachiever form, I am determined to have a well-decorated dinner party! So my good friend is coming over to help me hang curtains on Saturday (the ones that have sat in a box since they arrived in early January), I need to plant some spring flowers in my garden, and I need to figure out how I’m going to seat 15-20 people in my rather small dining room. I have purchased perfectly color-coordinated placemats and napkins for the occasion, and even found some of my discontinued dishes on E-Bay so that I could increase my collection from 9 to 15. I’m not sure what the other 5 people will eat off of, maybe a paper towel or something. I’ll be sure to buy the 2-ply just in case.
In other news, I found out that my research article is going to be published next month in a major academic journal! We got the official approval this week, and while you normally have to wait months to see your work in print, ours just fell into place and it worked out that it’s coming out in the very next edition! Ten months and 28 pages later, I think it just might be worth it! My professors are happy to have a student get published, I got a free trip to Miami out of it, and I learned a thing or two along the way. Of course, the next time I get published, I’d prefer to actually get PAID for my work. But that’s the beauty of academia. 

The good, the bad, and the ugly cry

Today started out very badly. I got up at 1:00 a.m. to register for my LAST TWO graduate classes. I had hoped to take two relatively easy electives in July… a simple 4-week session that might turn out to be a bit intense, but then I’d be DONE with classes and only have my thesis to write this fall. I could practically coast right into graduation in December.

But best laid plans, right?
I woke up at 1:00, only to be locked out of the enrollment site. I was trying to beat all the other students who were also gunning for those two easy classes. So I tried again at 6:00 a.m. And again at 8:00 a.m.  That’s when I got the bad news…
I can’t take those two classes, because I am not in that program. But the catch-22 is, I am required to take electives outside my program. And I’ve already taken just about every class my program offers. So I’m stuck. There’s literally  no summer classes for me to take. Which means I now have to take two classes this fall. And then DELAY my graduation until May 2010 while I finish that thesis.
That’s when the tears started to flow.
I had been so excited about the possibility of being finished with grad school in only a few months. I’ve been on this merry-go-round of demands for the past three years, and I’m tired. I haven’t had a good night’s rest in months. I’m ready to quit. The only thing keeping me going was the knowledge that I’d be finished in December. Until now.
So I cried. Those big, ugly, crocodile tears. The kind where the mascara runs down your face, and you don’t even care. Thank goodness my office has a door, so nobody else witnessed my extreme moment of weakness.
Thankfully, the head of my department is also my professor this semester, so after a frantic phone call to him, he started working to see what he can do (bless him). It looks like they’re going to try really hard to find me some random classes to take. But of course, these random classes won’t be nearly as easy as the other two.  I will continue to have no life this fall… something I thought I might get back. But no, probably not.
Thankfully, my very bad day got much better, because it was Opening Day for my beloved Rangers, and my friend scored me third row tickets for the big day. A few hours of sunshine and baseball helped me gain perspective (or at least helped the tears stop). My team won, and someday I may even look back on this little class scheduling snafu and laugh about it. 
But right now I’m just going to try not to cry. And I’m going to finish off the ice cream left in my freezer.

Eureka! And other things…

To decompress after a long couple of days, I went for a three-mile jog around the lake near my house. I typically run there on Saturday mornings, and there’s usually another runner or two, but it’s never crowded. Tonight, right after work, my little trail was packed! It felt so nice and neighborly. I’ve become a real sucker for suburban life… I love the little Leave It To Beaver moments I get every now and then in my happy little neighborhood. –sigh–

While running tonight I had one of those Eureka moments… actually several, but just one that I’ll talk about. After several weeks of stressing about what to do my final project on (to finish  my master’s I have to do a final project this fall, similar to a thesis, with a committee of professors, I’ll have to defend it, and it will be horribly long). The whole thing gives me a stomach ache whenever I think about it, mainly because it sounds like another boring task that will suck away all my spare time as I compile 50 pages of useless information that nobody will ever read or care about.
And I have to pick that useless topic ASAP. Like yesterday, if I want to graduate in December.
But tonight as I ran, it hit me! I know exactly what my project will be, and this one will be fun and interesting and might even involve a few celebrity encounters. Plus I’ll be able to use some of the research I’ve already done (thank you God!) which should save me from starting from scratch. I’ve still got to work out a few details, but as soon as I get the needed permission from the necessary folks, you all will be the first to know! 
In the meantime, here’s some stuff that I got a kick out of today… maybe you will too!
Who says research can’t be fun? While working on that blogging ethics paper, I stumbled across this hilariously hateful exchange between the editor of a major-market newspaper and a very disgruntled journalism college professor, who accused the paper of plagiarizing its code of ethics… oh the irony! Anyway, it’s quite entertaining to watch the exchange get more and more heated. I like to picture their little red faces, veins popping out of their necks, sweat collecting on their strained foreheads, as they conjure up an appropriate comeback to one-up the other. It’s pure gold, my friends. In case it helps, Steve Smith is the editor.
Did you know AIG is going to change its name? Like maybe we won’t notice and suddenly think, “Whatever happened to that AIG anyway?” Slick, AIG, very slick.
And finally, because you know I can’t stand him… A-Fraud is involved in yet another scandal. Apparently Madonna may not have been his first indiscretion. Imagine that.