14 December 2012

fill in the blank friday

1. When it comes to holiday shopping, I   am more of an online shopper.   

2. A few things on my Chritmas wish list are...   shoes (I'm still rebuilding my collection after this summer when my dermatologist told me had to get all new ones), sweaters (as if I don't have enough already), books (of course)...I think that's pretty much it.  I'm a simple girl.

3. An intangible gift I would like to receive is   knowing where I'm going to be come May.  It's down to DC or Georgia.  

4. A gift I would like to give this year is   gifts are supposed to be surprises.  I can't tell!.

5. My Christmas will be spent   at home in IL with the family.

6. My most favorite Christmas gift of all time was   hmmm...that's a  tough one.  Getting that Nintendo 64 was pretty awesome as a kid.  And the pool/air hockey/ping pong table with a basketball hoop was pretty great too!   

7. The best thing about the holidays is  being able to relax with my family, eat great food, and remember the reason we celebrate.

07 December 2012

fill in the blank friday

1.  The last thing I do before going to sleep is make sure the alarm on my phone is set and say my prayers.

2.  When I can’t sleep I drink a glass of milk.

3.  The first thing I do when I wake up is put the pot of coffee on!.

4.  When I’m tired I get really cranky.

5.  My dream bedroom would have all-white linens, down pillows and comforter.  And would probably be in Greece.

6.  If I could wake up anywhere tomorrow morning it would be on the beach?

7. The longest sleep I’ve ever had was ummm....when I was a baby probably.  If you know me at all, you know that I don't like to take naps/hate sleeping in.

8.  I sleep on my on my side with a pillow between my knees because I hate when they knock together.

9.  When I sleep, I like to wear not socks!  As a general rule, I don't like socks.  But at night I detest them! It doesn't matter how cold it is...I will NEVER wear socks to bed.

10. My bedtime is usually midnight during the week.  Thereabouts or a little after on the weekends.  If I make it until 2 am it's a miracle.

Can you tell what I would rather be doing instead of writing papers?

Have a great weekend, y'all!

01 December 2012

Getting Serious [on a Saturday]...

This song pretty much sums it up.  Last week I found wrote about the effect my goals and ambitions have had on my relationships.  It's something I think about a lot.  Especially lately.  Not knowing where your going to be in six months can really take its toll.  "Be still and know that I am God" runs through my head when I wake up pretty much every morning.  Easier said than done.  

Growing up, I thought I would stay in my hometown forever.  Except for maybe that phase in fourth grade when we were studying the Iditarod and I was convinced I wanted to go to college in Alaska (do they even have colleges in Alaska?).  But in all seriousness, I love my hometown.  I love the smell of the darkest, richest soil I've ever seen.  I love how you can see for miles and miles.  I love that I grew up less than ten minutes from my grandparents' house.  I love having roots.

But I also love having wings.  Somewhere along the way I developed a restlessness.  A gypsy soul.  I long to travel. To see the world...all of it.  I can't settle down yet.  Luckily (or maybe unluckily too) for me, I have chosen a career path that will allow me to travel.  Or at least the opportunity to live in different places.  I've already punched my ticket -- I just don't know what my destination is.  I know that odds are I won't be going home to my small town in Illinois.  At least not for now.  It's a strange feeling, but I'm learning to accept it.  Lord knows I've cried tears over it.  I'm going to miss my family more than words can express.  You're probably thinking, "Grebner, you already moved away from home, what's the big deal?!"  And to a certain extent you're right.  But at the same time, each time I left home, it had an end date.  A day when I knew I was coming home.  And come May, there is only uncertainty.  It's exciting.  And it scares me to death.

So I have a request -- pray for me, y'all. I've never been good at waiting.  Patience isn't my thing.  Pray that I find peace.  That I might be a little less restless.  That I worry a little less.  I love you all to the moon and back.

Here are the lyrics to this song.  They express what I cannot.

Somewhere in this lonely world  
There is a place where I belong  
And I have seen its fields and streams  
They have been revealed in my dreams
But you see I cannot settle down  
There's just too much left unfound 
I keep drifting like a cloud  
On the wind, on the wind
Loved ones and friends lost along the way 
I hope they have no ill words to say  
'Cause I have cried so many tears 
Leaving behind precious hearts throughout the years
I must keep traveling on  
To find the place where I belong 
And if I travel 'til the day I die  
I'll make my home somewhere far beyond the sky
'Cause you see I cannot settle down  
There's just too much left unfound 
I keep drifting like a cloud 
On the wind, on the wind

30 November 2012

fill in the blank friday

1. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is..." Buddy the Elf would say to "sing loud for all to hear," but that might not be the best way for me to spread a little holiday cheer.  I'm a big fan of sending Christmas cards -- be on the look out, mates!  They are finished and waiting to be put in the mail!

2. The holiday season is a time for traditions...old and new.  

3. When it comes to holiday decorating... I absolutely detest colored Christmas lights and those inflatable lawn ornament things.  Go ahead and call me Scrooge, but I like to keep it classy.  White lights, a wreath, and a little garland.  P.S.  Downtown Bloomington, Indiana has it going on in that department right now.  The square is beautiful!.

4. The thing I look forward to most about the holidays is finishing up my school work and heading home to rest, relaxation, and reading for fun.

5. My favorite holiday tradition is Christmas Eve at my grandparents'.  Or Christmas lasagna.  Or decorating the tree to the sweet sounds of our Bing Crosby album on the record player.  It's a toss up!

6. This year my Christmas plans include Christmas Eve at my grandparents', candlelight service at church, breakfast with the family on Christmas morning, that lasagna for lunch -- the usual!  Oh, and probably watching a lot of cheesy Hallmark Channel movies with my mom.

7. My favorite holiday food is does pumpkin pie count?  Roasted almonds are up there too.  

Have a great weekend, y'all!
Much love,

26 November 2012

Perpetually One of the Boys...

A few weeks ago, I got serious about something I had been struggling with -- faith and politics.  A series of events brought me to where I am today, getting serious once again.  This time its completely unrelated to politics.  It's my struggle with always being one of the boys.  It's about my (sometimes) blind ambition and refusal to compromise who I am/want to be due to a guy.  So buckle up, mates.  I'm getting serious again.

I was a tomboy growing up.  I liked Hot Wheels cars, would rather play sports than dolls, and I thought cuts and bruises were cool.  I liked to ramp my bike and trade basketball cards with the boys.  I even wore boys' clothes a lot of the time.  For the most part, I got away with this when I was younger, but I remember when I started junior high I realized that things had to change.  If I wanted to be "popular" or have a boyfriend, I was going to have to change some things.  Yesterday, I thought back to those days.  The days when every girl was boy crazy.  To an extent, I was too.  But I struggled because boys didn't like me...

...because I was one of them.  For as long as I can remember I have had more male friends than female ones.  And for the most part, I have always been okay with that.  Basketball and sports in general were my portal into their world.  I knew (or maybe know is a better word) all the latest sports news.  I can throw a spiral, shoot a reverse layup, or dive for a fly ball.  I can talk about defensive lines, pass routes, run games, setting screens, and runs batted in with the best of them.  What guy wouldn't want that, right?  Apparently not very many.

When I went off to college, I began to identify myself as a feminist.  To an extent, I think I probably always was, but I am so thankful for my Women's Studies class.  I learned that there was nothing wrong with me.  Being a tomboy wasn't bad.  Or wrong.  That part of my life helped shape me into the strong woman that I believe myself to be today.  Without really knowing it, I had already realized that I could do anything the boys could do.  I had already learned that my dreams were just as important.  Today, I have a greater awareness of that.  Moreover, I have a greater appreciation for the women who worked so tirelessly so I could realize my full potential. And again, I am so thankful for my family who loved and supported me, even though I know they couldn't have been thrilled about their little girl wanting to shop in the boys' clothes.  I'm thankful that they let me grow into my own person.  Because for what might be the first time, I can say that I am proud of myself and the decisions I have made.

Last night, a relationship ended because I have made the decision to leave my hometown.  Because I need to strike out on my own and see what I can make of myself in this world.  Because I need to be my own person.  I need to make myself happy.  I need to do something for me.  Because I can't follow a boy.  And luckily for me, it was the boy who reminded me of this.

It's an empowering feeling.  But it's a scary one too.  And knowing that you're doing something good, doesn't always make it easy.  It doesn't always make you feel better.  You still shed some tears.  Maybe even more so.  There's one question that always lingers at the back of my mind -- will my ambition leave me with nothing but my career in the end?  It's days like today, that I wish Hillary Clinton was my fairy godmother.  What I would give to be able to ask for her advice.  What would she tell me?  There's this brilliant quote from HRC about how she knew Bill Clinton was the one because he wasn't afraid of her.  In talking with a friend today, we both said, "That's me!  I need to find that man."  Well...maybe not exactly that man, but you get the point (See, told you I can't be serious for very long).

So in the end, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm proud to be one of the boys.  And men shouldn't be intimidated by women like that.   

14 November 2012

Hope's Political Crushes

So to get in the spirit of Joe Biden's appearance on Parks and Rec tomorrow night, I thought I would share my top political crushes with y'all.  Yeah, yeah.  Most people have celebrity crushes -- not this kid.  So without further ado...

#7 -- A Young President Gerald Rudolph Ford (R-MI)
I think it's the football thing.  Yep, that's definitely it.

#6 -- Congressman Aaron Jon Schock (R-IL)
Politics aside, I'll give my boy from the Fightin' 18th some love!  I mean look at him (and all those books!  He gave me a Snicker bar once...

#5 --  Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden (D-DE)
 Just like Leslie Knope, I have a thing for Joe Biden.  It's his smile and the way his eyes crinkle.  It gets me every time.  But in all seriousness, I view Biden as one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th (and 21st too) century and one of the foremost authorities on foreign policy.  He might be a little colorful at times, but that's what makes him so loveable!

#4  -- President Barack Hussein Obama (D-IL)
Sexy.  For so many reasons.  But I think the biggest reason for me is that I truly believe he is a good husband and a good father.  I'm proud to call him a "son of Illinois"...even if he is a Sox fan.  And the man plays basketball!  Need I say more?  I am also proud to admit that I have had an I Heart Barack Obama shirt since my senior year of high school

#3 --  Senator Robert Francis Kennedy (D-MA)
I'm not really sure what to say about RFK.  Other than that I love him.  Passionate.  Tenacious.  Loyal.  Those are all pretty attractive qualities, I'd say.  And then there's his work on civil rights and civil liberties.  'Nuff said.

#2 --  President William Jefferson Clinton (D-AR)
Okay, y'all -- we're getting into pretty serious territory.  Say what you might about Bill Clinton, but my adoration for him hasn't faded.  Or maybe it did, but it has definitely resurfaced.  Putting his personal life/past aside, I find him fascinating.  Endlessly charming and charismatic.  And that Southern drawl...does it get any better than that?  His speech at the DNC this year was phenomenal and he continues to do amazing work with the Clinton Global Initiative.  Plus, he managed to marry Hillary Clinton.  She's a smart lady -- if she sees something good in him, then it must be true!

#1 -- Senator Birch Evans Bayh, Jr. (D-IN)
As if you didn't already know who my number 1 would be.  I have a huge crush on Birch Bayh circa 1972 or so.  Equal Rights Amendment, 18 year old vote, Title IX.  I could go on.  It's pretty much my dream to meet him.  And it's a dream that actually has a possibility of coming true.  Hopefully it does!

13 November 2012

Tuesday Tune-Day: Billy Joel Strikes Again

In case you're just tuning in, the theme of my semester has been happiness (I'll be even happier if I win that vintage Billy Joel vinyl I'm bidding on on eBay right now).  Happiness that just seems to multiply with each passing day.  And this song pretty much encapsulates that happiness.  In every sense of the word (and lyrics).  I've been singing it constantly.  Can't get it out of my head.  And I'm okay with that.  So sit back and enjoy a classic!

P.S.  Be on the look out for tomorrow's post where I will chronicle my top political crushes.  You definitely won't want to miss that...

12 November 2012

Playing Catch-Up

...not to be confused with ketchup (or catsup if you're weird and spell it that way), which I hate.  If you're close to me you know that I absolutely loathe that red condiment.  Like I struggle to watch you eat it kind of hatred.  But I digress...I've been blogging this semester about how much fun I've been having.  I realized today that I've been having even more fun than I have shared with y'all so here are some scenes from the past month or so!

 In October I journeyed back to my beloved alma mater and caught up with wonderful friends.
 And this one, who I am so glad to have met at marching band camp and to have had sitting next to me every day in ILA.  They all called me Mom back then.  She still does.  I'm so glad we ran into each other!
 The next night it was off to my 5 year high school reunion.  My best friend (since we were 4!) Maggie did an amazing job of putting everything together for us!  It was great to see everyone again!
 I haven't changed that much have I?  The hair has definitely improved.  In fact, I have oddly been receiving a lot of compliments about it lately.  Who knew that all I had to do was to let it go?
 The next weekend I was back in Illinois yet again.  This time I traveled north to Chicago (and saw way more of the Chicagoland area than I ever wanted in the process) to hang out with my sister and watch the U.S. Women's Soccer team take on Germany.  The above photo displays how serious we are about tailgating.  Serious about Dunkin' Donuts, that is.
 After watching the team practice the day before, I didn't think it could get any better.  But check out our incredible seats!
 And I got to see Abby Wambach score a goal right in front of me!  Incredible!
 I usually don't get into Halloween...at all.  But this year, I was persuaded by these lovely ladies to attend the HGSA Halloween party.  I channeled my inner-baller and went as a former version of myself.  Sweet kicks and all.
Then the day I'd been waiting for finally arrived.  And I was seriously FIRED UP!  Enough so, that I spent my afternoon baking donkey and elephant cookies.  I'll spare you the photos since I can't frost a cookie to save my life (in my defense, I hate icing so I have trouble rationalizing spending a lot of time on it).
 Just when I thought I couldn't possibly have any more fun...I got to go to my first IU men's basketball game.  Thanks to a great friend!  I've never experienced anything quite like it!  I now know why Assembly Hall is one of the most difficult places to play.
We're ranked #1 in the country, y'all!  I might have to get myself a pair of those candy-striped pants after all!

Wow that's a lot of photos!  My bad, y'all.  But here's to having more fun!

Much love,

05 November 2012

Getting Serious On Election Day Eve

Divided we fail, y'all.
Most of the time, I try to keep things light and fun with this blog.  But today, on the eve of the election, I feel the need to step up on my soap box.  To speak my mind.  To say my piece.  To share my thoughts about something I've been struggling with during this contentious campaign season.  So here goes.  My thoughts on faith and politics.

So many times during this election, I have been told things like, "You can't be a Christian and a Democrat," "Christians don't vote for Obama," or "How can you reconcile your faith with your political views?"  And here's my answer:  I don't have to reconcile my faith with my politics.  Vice President Joe Biden said it best in his most recent debate, "My religion defines who I am."  So for me, it informs every decision I make.  Biden went on to say, "I just refuse to impose that upon others..."*  And I agree.  I'm not saying that I am against evangelism or missions, but I am saying that I don't think that the federal government has the right to privilege one religion over another.  That's the bedrock of our country's existence.  That's why we exist as a nation.  Believing this doesn't make me any less of a Christian.  It doesn't mean that I think there is more than one way to Heaven.  It just makes me tolerant.  And if tolerance is my only crime, I will gladly plead guilty. 

I believe in loving all people...no matter what.  I believe in helping others and in putting them before myself.  I believe in forgiveness and mercy.  These are things I learned as kid in Sunday School.  And these are the things that make me who I am.  And inform my beliefs when it comes to government.  I make an attempt to support candidates who believe these things as well.

That's how my faith informs my politics.  I appreciate that my family has let me form my own opinions and that they respect them.  I like to think that I have made informed decisions and thought enough about the issues to do so.  I just wish other people could respect that.

So here's my call to you -- respect other people's opinions.  Don't tell them who they should vote for.  Let them make their own decisions.  Let them form their own opinions.  Do your homework.  Research all the candidates, regardless of party.  Attempt to find unbiased media sources.  Vote tomorrow.  And be kind to one another.  Divided we fail.

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, it's time to prepare some awesome Election Day cookies!**

*Quotes from Biden's remarks are from Reuters.
** Clearly, I can't be serious for very long!

02 November 2012

fill in the blank friday

1.  Something I swore I'd never do, but have ended up doing anyway is    get my masters degree.  And I'm getting two of them.  I always thought that I would be a four years and done kind of girl, but I'm so glad that I'm doing this   .
2.  Something I've always wanted to do is  backpack across Europe.  Or Asia.  Or Africa.  Basically I just want to go travel   .
3.  Something I have absolutely no desire to ever do is   go rock/mountain climbing.  Or drive a race car.  No thank you.  .

4. The best thing I ever did was   hmmm...that's a toughie.  I feel like this is the question one usually answers with marry my husband or raise my child, but since I haven't done that yet, I'm not really sure.  I would probably say spend a semester in Washington, DC.  I learned a lot about myself and gained the confidence that I need to make it in graduate school.  And I met some incredible people and had a lot of fun too.  .
5. When it comes to trying new things, I am  not a big fan.  I like my routines.  .

6. One thing I've never done is  any kind of drugs.  Not even a cigarette.  .

7.  My favorite thing to do is  snuggle up with a good book and cup of coffee  .

26 October 2012

{bringin' back} fill in the blank fridays

1.  My favorite feeling in all the world is    when I just finish a run or workout.  I like the way it hurts, yet feels so good at the same time.  So spent, yet energized   .
2.  My favorite smell is  depends on the season -- right now it's probably pumpkin anything.  In the springtime, its lilac.  In the summer, it's chlorine. But coffee is up there on the list all the time.  And clean laundry.  Apparently I have a lot of favorite smells   .
3.  My favorite taste is   sour.  I absolutely love sour things.  Sour Patch Kids.  Lemonheads.  Granny Smith Apples.  Oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  .

4. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen was   Concord Falls/the rainforest in Grenada, West Indies. Or pretty much Grenada in general  .
5. The best sound ever is  the banjo.  I can't get enough .

6. A smell that reminds me of my childhood is  apple crisp baking in the oven while we ate supper.  Those were always my favorite nights.  Or clean laundry.  It reminds me of clothes hanging out on the line on Saturday mornings .

7.  My favorite of all the senses is   sight.  I wouldn't be able to do my job without it.  And I love taking in all of the beauty God has created for us .

Have a great weekend!


16 October 2012

Tuesday Tune-Day: Eddie Vedder Says it Better

Okay, judge away.  Yes, I am an Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam fan.  Little known fact about me.  Side note:  His stuff for the movie Into the Wild is incredible.  Beautiful music.  Real music.  
But anyway, don't you just love it when you hear a song that fits exactly what you're going through?  Exactly how you're feeling?  I think it is one of the greatest joys of music.  Lyrics can bring us together.  They help us remember that we're not alone. And this song just fits.  Eddie Vedder says it better than I ever could.  I'll let you use your own detective skills to figure out why.  And...as an added bonus...the ukulele is the main instrument.  Doesn't get much better than that!

06 October 2012

Weekending it

Weekends are pretty great.  Possibly the best idea ever.  Usually I use them to catch up on homework and reading, but lately I've been busy having fun instead.  Last weekend I journeyed back to Illinois and went on a road trip with two dear friends from high school/undergrad to Tanner's Orchard.  Is there a better way to spend an autumn morning?  Or a better excuse to wear flannel?  I think not. 

Just look at those beautiful apples.  Okay, so I have to admit that those apples probably aren't actually from Tanner's.  They probably aren't even from Illinois.  Usually you can pick your own apples there, but with the drought this summer the apple crop wasn't so hot.  But they still look good to me!
But, I think we had more fun goofing off, taking pictures, and feeding the llamas and goats.  Yeah, we went through the petting zoo like we were on our 1st grade field trip.  It was awesome -- and I am proud to report  that the llamas didn't spit on me like I feared they would.  We tried all the free samples of cider, apples, salsa, etc.  And then I finally found what I'd been searching for...

...an apple cider doughnut.  And if that photographic evidence isn't enough for you, let me tell you -- it was delicious (and still warm).  Eat your heart our Krispy Kreme.  You don't even hold a candle to Tanner's.

And then this weekend it was Homecoming football time at IU!  Forget hot dogs and beer, our version of tailgating consisted of bagels and coffee.  And the Hoosiers almost won!  You know you root for a losing team when you create a hierarchy of losing.  We only lost by four and everyone was ecstatic.  It kind of reminded me of being at a Cubs game.  But it was exciting nonetheless!
It was cold...but sunglasses were a must.  And now I'm sporting an awesome sunburn with some raccoon-esque lines from my sunglasses.  Can someone please tell me how I can go all summer without getting burnt, but when it's October and forty degrees outside I'm as red as a beet?
The whole gang!  Look at that IU school spirit! So much crimson!

Stay tuned, y'all -- I have a couple more awesome weekends on deck!  Next weekend at Monmouth Homecoming and the following weekend in Chicago to see the USWNT!

23 September 2012

Life is good, mates.

 I've been having so much fun this semester that I could almost forget that I'm in graduate school.  Lazy Monday mornings.  Long runs on Tuesday afternoons.  Three dollar burgers on Wednesday nights.  Thursday nights at Atlas with the History Department crew.  That's where I discovered my new calling -- shuffle board.  I make up one half of Team Jope and Change.  We like to channel the 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama and are currently undefeated.  Yep, I'm 80 years old.  And then my weekends have been pretty great too.  Trips to Indianapolis to eat the most delicious soul food of my life.  I literally died and went to sweet tea heaven.  Corn bread, fried green tomatoes, barbeque -- I think I need to make another trip.  WNBA basketball games.  IU Opera performances.  A weekend in Illinois here and there -- and visitors from Illinois too.  Hikes.  And church on Sunday mornings.  Oh, and somewhere in there I suppose I go to class and work and read a lot.  But I couldn't really tell you when.

Okay, brace yourselves.  It's about to get real for a paragraph or so.  I honestly don't know if I've ever been this happy, or content, or whatever word you want to use.  Despite not really liking where I'm living or my classes, I'm loving everything else.  And that's a big departure for me.  My senior year of undergrad was rough.  I like to call it disillusionment or ennui -- it was probably just senioritis.  My first year of grad school (at least the first semester) gave me fits.  But in that time, I grew up.  A lot.  And I learned to be more laid back.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still a neat freak with borderline OCD who is constantly looking at her watch...but I've watched my perfectionism fade.  I still strive for success -- I've just given success a new definition.  My own definition.  Mine.  That's the biggest lesson I've learned at graduate school -- to live my life for myself.  To do what I want to do.  It's an uphill battle.  It's a struggle I deal with everyday.  I'm a people pleaser.  I'm hyper-aware of others.  None of that has really changed...I've just learned how to factor in myself a little more.  And maybe it took falling flat on my face to realize it, but I'm sure glad that it did.

Phew, well I'm glad I got that off my chest.  Now, in completely unrelated news...can I just say that the number one reason I love fall is because I can eat pumpkin everything?? The leaves start changing and it's all I can think about. I picked up the first box of Pumpkin Delights of the season today.  They will probably last me all of 3 days...if I'm lucky.  I had my first pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks last week.  I cannot wait for pumpkin pie.  Pumpkin bread.  Muffins.  Ice cream.  You name it. 

And lastly, if you see me on campus this week...please ignore my left eye and what will certainly look like a nasty rug burn by tomorrow.  Or pretend that I got in a wicked/awesome fight.  You know, the whole "You should see the other guy" thing.  What really happened, you ask (or maybe you're not... I have no way of knowing)?  Let's just say I'm really talented with a hair straightener.  And if you've seen me in the past two days I appreciate that you didn't say anything about it -- because I look ridiculous. 

Happy Autumn!

Much love,

11 September 2012

Tuesday Tune-Day: In a New York Minute

Today is September 11.  A morning when we all realized that everything can change in a New York minute.  At least I know that I did.  I was 12 years old.  Sitting in my 7th grade science class.  And then we were going home.  Classes were cancelled so we could be with our families. Even though we were thousands of miles away. What was happening?  I remember being afraid to go to sleep that night.  The feeling of safety and innocence of our youth was gone.  It was almost as if we lived in a different America.  Even at 12 years old, I knew that something had changed.  And I wanted to remember it.  I collected newspaper and magazine articles.  Read everything I could.  Kept my eyes glued to the television.  Maybe it was nothing more than morbid curiosity.  But I think that in a time of great tragedy and horror, I found my love for history.  By experiencing history...as removed as I was...I gained a sense of how important it was to remember.  To never forget.

And so today, I remember.  We remember.  We remember the men and women in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon, on that plane in Pennsylvania.  The police departments, fire departments, EMTs, and our military.  We will never forget.

10 September 2012

{Better Than a} Movie Monday

Wow, it's been a long time.  When I blog on Mondays, it's usually about a movie that I've seen recently.  Welp, I haven't seen any movies lately -- but I've spent the last two weeks watching something even better.  It's Convention Season!  And I couldn't have been more excited!

I love it!  You tell him, Mr. President!
My boss recently introduced me to someone as a "political junkie."  I laughed at the time, but it's true in every sense of the word.  It truly is an addiction.  The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is scan the headlines on The Hill.  I have a campaign button collection.  I've had a penchant for power suits since I was about 19.  Like I seriously envy Hillary's closet.  I read histories of the Senate and biographies/autobiographies of politicians for fun.  My computer's search history is full of Congressional bill numbers.  H.R. this.  Or S. J. Res. that.  I want to walk down the aisle to the opening titles from the TV show, The West Wing.  You think I'm kidding.  Click on that brilliant piece of music composed by W.G. "Snuffy" Walden and get a taste of what my future wedding will be like.  And lastly, I considered skipping class on Thursday night so I could watch the DNC in its entirety.  I've got it bad.  And lately I've been wondering how I got hooked.  What was my gateway drug?  Part of it is history.  You really can't study it without being somewhat interested in politics and government.  Another larger part of it was living in D.C.  It's almost like it just seeps into your pores or something.  It gets in your blood stream.  Okay, I'm making it sound like horrible disease and it isn't.  But it really is in the air.  It's a city that is charged with something -- power, ambition, intelligence (most of the time), history, legacy, a sense of purpose and importance.  Just being in that environment leaves you wanting more.  And then the last part is working with Congressional papers.  I have had to learn a lot by necessity.  The Congressional Record really is my best friend...and I'm okay with that.  So maybe I'm in need of an intervention, but the conventions definitely fed my addiction over the past couple of weeks.

So what did this junkie think?

Michelle Obama is the epitome style and grace.  Her speech brought me to tears.  And it was just apolitical enough to be politically brilliant.  She stole the show.  And her dresses!  And shoes!  But in all seriousness, I know that we're better off because she has the President's ear.  Clint Eastwood.  I still have no clue what was going on.  That was THE most bizarre political moment I have ever witnessed.  And hopefully ever will.  I love you, Bill Clinton.  You used more math in your speech than I have heard since high school, but I appreciated it.  Your speech went on and on forever -- but it was good.  Imagine what it would have been like if he and Obama actually got along.  I don't know what it is about him -- maybe I associate him with the feeling of safety of my childhood -- but I will continue to defend him as a president. Heck, I even liked Joe Biden.  I won't lie, every time the guy opens his mouth I get nervous.  But if the good Dr. Jill Biden sees something in him, I guess I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.  Gabby Giffords showed so much courage and perseverance as she walked across the stage to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  It was wonderful to see her -- and I just know she'll make it back to the House some day soon!  Mitt Romney does not know how to relate to ordinary people.  Even when he tries to be spontaneous it seems scripted.  And Paul Ryan, I have no words.  Other than that I hope the only thing we have in common is completing the Washington Semester at American University. President Obama's speech reminded me more of a State of the Union address, but it was effective.  He reminded me why I voted for him four years ago and renewed my faith in him as a man and a leader. 

Wow, that's a lot of blogging for me.  Brace yourself, I'm sure there will be plenty more where that came from before Election Day!

Happy Monday, y'all!

26 August 2012

A Weekend Checklist

 Little known fact...I start out every morning with coffee in bed.  It's my favorite time of day.
And the weekends are my favorite time of the week (but who doesn't think that?).  Here's my weekend checklist:  

 1.  Run 5 miles.  Check.  I'm not sure what's gotten into me.  Even when I was in high school I couldn't run that far.  Even when I was playing college basketball I feel like I could barely run over a mile.  I'm chalking it up to cutting back on my dairy consumption.  It's probably a completely bogus reason, but I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.

2.  Read a book for fun.  Check.  WHAT?  I'm still surprised at this one.  Especially since the first week of classes usually leaves me overwhelmed.  I seriously haven't read a book for fun since last Christmas.  I was starting to get concerned that graduate school had robbed me of one of my favorite things.  And I'm in LIBRARY SCHOOL for crying out loud.  I think I'm supposed to love reading, right?  Or at the very least be capable of reading.  But I bought Hope Solo's autobiography on a whim, hoping that I would get around to it eventually (probably over Christmas).  I'm only a couple chapters away from finishing it!  I'll be sure to blog about it and her incredible story!

3.  Enjoy some friend time.  Check.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of catching up.  Deep conversations.  And history nerd conversations.  Quotes that should be written down.  Sitting in a restaurant until it closes.  Pints of ice cream. I am so thankful for the wonderful group of women that I just happened to talk to on that first day of orientation last year because our mentors weren't at the meeting.  And we've never looked back...

4.  Get my hike on.  Check.  It's probably one of the best parts about living in this part of Indiana.  There's always a new trail to try.  And yesterday we drove out to Brown County to hike in the Yellowwood State Forest.  It was pretty buggy, but there were some beautiful views.  And it made me want to go camping something fierce!  Although those of you who know me well know that camping and I don't tend to get along.  One word for you:  chiggers. 

5.  Go back to High Rock Church.  Check.  I started out going to Sunday services there last fall and quickly fell away as my schedule got too hectic.  But today I made a point to get up and go worship my Lord and Savior on a beautiful August morning.  And I was reminded that no matter how far I wander, God's love is deeper.  So often I get caught up in what I want to do with my life -- what I want to accomplish.  So often I get caught up in wanting to be the best, in wanting to be perfect.  But this morning, I remembered that everything I do, I do for His glory.  And so today I decided that these words will be the theme of my final school year:

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection *

 Have a great week, y'all!

* These words are a verse of the song "How Deep the Father's Love for Us."  We sang it at church this morning -- it's one of my favorites.

24 August 2012

"I'd Rather Be in the Hunger Games Than Play Kickball": End of Summer/Beginning of School Thoughts

Okay, so I'll explain that quote in a minute.  But first, summer is coming to an end.  My first (and most likely last) summer in Bloomington is over.  My first summer school experience is finished!  Can I get an Amen?  And by the way -- I totally rocked it -- straight A+s.  Like kindergarten, but way more stressful.  I got the best tan of my life without really trying.  I grew my hair out and my mom called me a hippie...my life is now complete.

I got to spend two glorious weeks at home with my family in Illinois.  I was completely swept up by Olympic fever.  And I formally apologize to all my Facebook friends for my seemingly hourly updates on the U.S. Women's Soccer Team.  Okay, I'm not that sorry.  I spent a weekend back in my old Monmouth stomping grounds with old friends while making some new ones too.  Another weekend was spent in Chicago -- taking in the city that I am growing to love and enjoying the history and atmosphere of the Friendly Confines.  The Cubs lost (of course), but I absolutely love spending an afternoon at Wrigley. 

I don't think our seats could get any higher, but at least we were in the shade and had a nice breeze!

 Then, last weekend we were off to Cincinnati for the Western and Southern Open.  I won't lie to you, I'm not a huge tennis fan.  I watch Wimbledon (mainly as an excuse to eat strawberries and cream), I'll go out to the courts to play a few sets if I can find someone to go with me, and I am a pro at Wii tennis, but that's about it.  I was a little nervous to spend an entire day watching the semi-finals.  I mean matches can go for hours!  But it was awesome!  We got to see some of the players at the practice courts that morning.  Novak Djokovic was literally less than 10 feet away from me...and Roger Federer too!  And then we got to see two great semi-final matches.  Not to mention I had my first Skyline Chili experience.

Center Court baby!

Now it's back to work in the Archives and I've been in class for a week.  It's my last fall semester ever! It's been great to meet up with my friends again and catch up after our summer "breaks."  And that means going back to our crazy conversations about how our professor was 30 minutes late to our first class and arrived wearing swim trunks.  Or where I end up saying things like "I would rather be in the Hunger Games than play kickball."  I think I'll stand by that quote. 

It looks like it's going to be a great semester!

10 August 2012

Confessions of an Olympics Addict Pt. II: Seven Years Old Again

As the the 2012 Olympics draw to a close in London, I'm still held captive by the spectacular display of athleticism, talent, and sportsmanship.  Yesterday, as the U.S. Women's National Team won gold in soccer, I was reminded that this truly is the Year of the Woman at the Olympics.  More than anything, I hope that this display of greatness sparks more interest in women's sports.  I hope it inspires a new generation of female athletes. 

I know that the Olympics sure inspired me.  Every four years, for two weeks at the end of the summer, I feel seven years old again.  I'm transported back to the days when I would play Olympics out on our driveway.  Playing tennis against the basketball backboard.  Dribbling the soccer ball down through the gravel and back.  Pitching the baseball to myself.  Breaking out the goggles in the pool.  Gymnastics on the trampoline.  Creating my own sports -- like rollerblade basketball.  Keeping score in chalk on the sidewalk and getting so mad if it rained and washed the scores away.  For two weeks and probably months afterwards, I was Mia Hamm or Lisa Leslie or Dominque Dawes.  I remember getting my first soccer ball during the Atlanta games.  It had the mascot from the games on it...man, I wish I still had that.  And going to soccer camp for the first time. 
If you want to make me seriously happy, find me something with this little guy on it.  His name was Izzy, I think. 
 The Olympics remind me of those great times...when I dreamed so big.  And they kind of make me a little sad too -- knowing that those days have passed.

But more than anything, they give me hope.  Today, I know that there are little girls all across the country who are out on their driveways pretending to be Abby Wambach or Diana Taurasi.  They're doing flips in the basement pretending to be Gabby Douglas.  They're in the pool pretending to be Missy Franklin.  And that's a beautiful thing.   

07 August 2012

Confessions of an Olympics Addict: Soccer and Kirani James

Since the Opening Ceremony over a week ago, watching the Olympics is literally all I do.  It's been that way since Atlanta in '96.  I don't know what it is, but it consumes me like nothing else can.  And sure, I'm always a fan of watching swimming and gymnastics, but this year it's women's soccer and track and field that have me talking. 

The USWNT's semi-final match against Canada yesterday was just sick.  Sick. 4-3 in extra time with a last second header from Alex Morgan!  Incredible!  And Megan Rapinoe plays the beautiful game beautifully -- she had 2 incredible goals.  I mean it's not every day that you see the person taking the corner score a goal!  I'll admit, I got way too into the game.  And I'm pretty sure at one point I fell off the couch in mid-celebration.  I cannot wait for the championship game with Japan on Thursday afternoon.  It's rematch time!

And then there's Kirani James.  The first medalist the tiny island nation of Grenada has ever had.  And it was GOLD!  I visited Grenada in high school and fell in love.  So I always keep an eye on them in the Olympics.  Last night, tears came to my eyes as the nineteen year old won their first medal and they showed footage of the Spice Island and James's hometown of Gouyave.  Here's some photos of my visit there -- almost 10 years ago now.  

 That's us.  Walking the streets of the tiny fishing village nestled in the hills.
 Who knows...maybe I met Kirani as I visited with children that morning.
It was at this elementary school where I fell head over heels in love with the people of Grenada.  Look at those beautiful smiling faces!
And there's Kirani after his win.  Waving that beautiful flag.  I still have a patch of the Grenadian flag on my book bag...and probably always will.  And just so you know, it's a nutmeg on their flag...not cacao like the commentators last night said.  They grow more nutmeg than any other country in the world.  And I can smell it now just thinking about it!  Congratulations to Kirani James!  He is a great ambassador -- everyone could see how much he truly loves his country!  And I love it too!

01 August 2012

Who Are You When No One's Watching?*

The great basketball coach John Wooden once said, "The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one's watching."  But who am I when no one's watching?
A nine-year-old on a sugar rush, that's who.  
Exhibit A.
At school/work I'm put-together, driven, and serious...most of the time.**  But when I'm at home, the only thing I'm serious about is being a goofball.  In public I'm usually quiet and reserved.  Kinda cold and standoffish. But once I get to know you, there's a whole different person comes out. And once I let you in, there's no going back!  You're stuck with the goofy kid who dances in the kitchen, tries to get you to box with her in the dining room, sings at the dinner table, raps in the car, wears 3D glasses around the house, skips down the hallway, does 360 cannonballs off the deck into the pool, hugs you all the time, laughs until she cries, and sleeps on the floor.

Yep, this is pretty typical around our house.  If I had a nickel for every time someone said, "Hope, you are so weird," I would be rich! But anyway, we were baking cookies and I created my alter ego -- a superhero called Oven Mitts.  Unlike Clark Kent and Peter Parker, who take off their glasses when they transform into their superhero versions of themselves, I put my glasses on.  And then I'm off, saving the world one oven at a time!  What can I say? With great power comes great responsibility. *** I am also deathly afraid of fire so the oven mitts are an essential part of my wardrobe.  And they double as pretty decent boxing gloves in case I get caught in some hand-to-hand combat.  They would also make pretty good mittens in case of a snowstorm.

So that's who I am when no one's watching.  Who are you?

 * My apologies if you thought this was going to be a serious post.  About the meaning of life or something.  Maybe later.  I'm on vacation.

** I've found that I'm somewhat of the class clown of graduate school.  Partially, humor is how I choose to combat my insecurity.  It always has been.  If I don't know an answer, I come up with something witty.  It's worked pretty well so far.  One of my professors said she gave me an A because of my "good humor."  I'll take it.

*** If you didn't catch that Spiderman reference, I'll forgive you.  But just this once. 

18 July 2012

What-If Wednesday

What if I could have any job in the entire world?  What would it be?  For some reason I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  Maybe it's because I'm excited to see what the future holds.  Or maybe I'm just tired of being in school and can't wait to have a job.  Yeah, that's probably it.  So here are my top ten jobs -- in no particular order.

1.  Police Detective.  Seemingly very different from what I actually do, but similar in many ways.  I love mysteries and solving puzzles.  And I watch entirely too many crime shows.
2.  The Woman from the movie National Treasure.  I'm not exactly sure what she did, but it seemed like she had a pretty sweet gig.  I mean, she was the keeper of the Declaration of Independence, after all!
3.  Host of a Travel Show.  Could there be a better job?  I don't think so.  Traveling around on a network's dime?  Spending time in fabulous places?  Sign me up!
4.  Professional Basketball Player  Keep dreaming, Grebner.  This was my dream for the longest time.  Sadly, I stopped growing around age 11.
5.  Chief of Staff for a high profile politician.  I want to be the right-hand woman.  Behind the scenes.  It can't happen without the staff.
6.  High Profile Politician.  Or maybe I could try my hand at running for office.  Maybe someday.  If I get over this whole shyness thing, that is.
7.  Director of the Newly-Created Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Archive.  So this doesn't actually exist, but I'd like to think that the one day the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame will add an official archive/research center. 
8.  The U.S. Senate Historian.  I'm currently looking into internships with the archivist in this office in Washington.
9.  Ambassador to Grenada.  A beautiful country with even more beautiful people.  I wouldn't mind spending most of my time there!
10.  And more realistically, an archivist in a political papers archive.  Maybe a Presidential Library.  Maybe a Congressional archive.  Maybe on a university campus.  Maybe as part of a politician's staff.  Who knows!  But I do know that this is probably what I will end up doing.

So there it is -- my Top 10 jobs.  Notice a trend?  Yeah.  This summer I have come to the realization that I know with 100% certainty that  I want to be connected to politics in some way.  I was told today that I'm going to be lost to that world one day.  And my response was, "I hope so!"  Maybe I'll be a staffer, maybe I'll run for office, or maybe I'll just archive their papers.  But if my Internet search history is any indication -- it's pretty much a mixture of Senate bill numbers, public laws, Congressional Record citations, different executive agencies, and White House documents -- I am most definitely a political animal.

08 July 2012

Weekend Update: Happy Birthday America!

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.  Probably second only to Thanksgiving.  I was pretty bummed that it happened to fall on a Wednesday in the middle of a long week of summer classes.  But...I am so grateful that I have an incredible group of friends.  We grilled out, laughed, went on an adventure to the Bloomington fireworks, sat in the car in traffic for a really long time, and laughed some more.  Here's some scenes from our 4th!

We picnicked.  And it was H-O-T hot.  But we look pretty happy, don't we?

And we topped off the evening with some post-fireworks Bomb Pops.  That's Bomb Pops -- not Rocket Pops.  We had a Midwest vs. East Coast debate on the proper name for these delicious summer treats.  Feel free to weigh in with your opinion!

I spent a good portion of my day working on homework for my government information class.  Which actually means I spent a good portion of my day taking breaks from my homework for my government information class.  And that's when I stumbled across this gem of a photo of the one and only Birch Bayh.  And added these lyrics from what could possibly be the most annoying song of the summer.  But Birch Bayh can call me anytime!  This might be the nerdiest thing I've ever done, but I couldn't resist.  I'm seriously crushing hard on this guy.  My first octogenarian crush! ;-)

Speaking of politics -- I questioned my friend Rachel's dog, Quincy, on her political affiliations.  Democrat or Republican?  I'm pretty sure I phrased it "Democrat or Republi-can't," but oh well.  So yes, this a photo of me having a serious political conversation with a dog. 
Now I'm home in Illinois, for the weekend.  Eating strawberries and creme for breakfast as I watch Wimbledon tennis matches at 7 am.  Relaxing on a raft in the pool.  Getting dive-bombed by bats.  Working on Spanish translations and government assignments.  Life is good.  I'm not ready to head back to Indiana (and reality)!

01 July 2012

First of the Month Favorites

You said it, C.S. Lewis!
My favorite things are constantly changing.  I'm always discovering/on the look out for something new.  So what are my favorite things on 1 July?
  1. What is your favorite book?  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon VanAuken.  I doubt that one will ever change. It's beautiful. 
  2. What is your favorite song?  "The Gardener" by The Tallest Man on Earth -- it's a great song for summer!
  3. What is your favorite color?  Yellow.  Especially when it's paired with gray and white. 
  4. What is your favorite destination?  Outside the U.S.?  Grenada, West Indies.  In the U.S?  Washington, DC.  That I really want to go?  Right now I really want to visit the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia. 
  5. What is your favorite memory?  That's a toughie but it's probably this (A picture's worth a thousand words, right?):  
  1. What is your favorite TV show? Castle.  It's literally the only show that I can watch over and over again.  Although The West Wing is my current obsession.  P.S.  Why did the numbers start over with this question?
  2. What is your favorite movie?  Another tough one -- probably Woman of the Year.  Classic Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy. 
  3. What is your favorite food?  Chips and Salsa is my favorite summer food.  I think I could even eat them for breakfast. 
  4. What is your favorite dessert?  Pie.  Peach Pie. 
  5. What is your favorite treat? Iced coffee.  I'm currently on my third of the day and I haven't even been up 12 hours. 
  6. What is your favorite car?  I'm really digging the Chevy Volt right now. 
  7. What is your favorite piece of clothing?  Like in general?  Or that I own?  I love cardigans and/or button up shirts.  I'm also a fan of the sweater vest.  But that I own?  I just bought a pair of lime green shorts that I like a lot. 
  8. What is your favorite fashion accessory?  My watch. 
  9. What is your favorite perfume?  This is such a lame question.  I don't really have one. 
  10. What is your favorite leisure activity?  Leisure activity?  Who wrote this?  I would normally say reading, but graduate school has ruined that leisure activity for me (at least for the time being) so I would probably say running or swimming. 
  11. Who is your favorite author?  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  12. Who is your favorite actor/actress?  Katharine Hepburn and Dick Van Dyke.  But present day?  Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. 
  13. Who is your favorite singer?  Brandi Carlile. 
  14. Who is your role model?  I wouldn't say that I really have a role model anymore -- I'm trying to do my own thing.  I have people that I admire, but that's about it. Growing up I looked up to professional athletes.  I guess you could say that I still look up to them.  Oh, and Amelia Earhart, of course.  How could I forget her?  She was so fierce.  I pretty much admire any powerful and independent woman.  Lately, it's women like Hillary Clinton or Gabby Giffords who get my attention. 
  15. Where is your favorite place to be? In Bloomington?  Probably just hanging out where ever my friends are.  Anywhere there isn't traffic or construction this summer.