Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blog #118: Things I did & Want to do

To review, in 2011 I:
Moved to a new & better office. Got heartbroken. Totaled my car on an icy highway. Had an awesome GNO with a limo from my boss. Got a new car. Got an iPhone. Saw every musical at Starlight. Traveled to Washington, Texas, Colorado, and Louisiana. Introduced my nephews to the mountains. Jumped out of an airplane. Had the best ever internship experience at Solace House. Went to my first country music concert. Went on my first business trip. Tried oysters. Chopped off my hair. Graduated with a Master's Degree and a cumulative 4.0. Made & consumed vodka gummy bears.

Here are 12 things I want to accomplish in 2012:
1. Read Gone With The Wind. Also on my reading list now that I'm done with grad school: The Help and The Hunger Games.
2. Visit NYC
3. Eat alone at a sit down restaurant
4. Keep a daily notebook.
5. Take a picture a day.
6. Work back up to my 20-mile week regimen once the weather warms up
7. Knit a scarf
8. Volunteer
9. Simplify - meaning I want to pare down & organize my belongings
10. Go on a float trip
11. Prepare a traditional home cooked meal with all parts made fresh or from scratch.
12. Send flowers to someone who needs a pick me up

I like the idea of a "2012 Bucket List" rather than resolutions. What do you want to do next year?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blog #117: fourpointoh

Well, I am officially done with all things grad school. I had my last night as an intern at Solace House on Monday. So bittersweet. I cried. And then today my official final grades were posted... which means that I can legit claim that I maintained a cumulative 4.0 throughout grad school. I'm kind of a big deal.

Anyone who was thinking of giving me a Christmas or graduation present should just head on over to http://www.solacehouse.org/ and see what they're all about. Then mail them a check with however much you were going to spend on me. Counseling at Solace House was one of the best things I've ever gotten to do.

Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I'll have more exciting news to share. For now, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog #116: Okay, here are real things I like

"Stuff" really does add up and I ultimately tend to provide for myself and therefore if I want something enough will get it one way or the other, but here are some things on my "want" list right now. This could be considered a Christmas list I suppose, only whether I get any of these or anything at all for Christmas is of little consequence because I much prefer giving presents to others to getting presents. Not in a "holier than thou giving is better than receiving" way but rather in a "I feel awkward when people give me things and would much rather selfishly make them feel awkward by giving them something" way. So I'm less of a good person than you think.

Of the images below, some are less specific and more representative of an idea. For instance: Statement necklaces, knit scarves, cowls, bold colored blazers, over the knee socks, fun texture/color tights, and feather earrings in general are on my list. The Keurig and the One Pass are fairly specific, and I do really love that exact coat from Old Navy. Size small probably. Also: BARE MINERALS FTW.
Christmas Wish List


Old Navy toggle coat
$65 - oldnavy.gap.com

BB dakota
$65 - lulus.com

Forever21 floral lace tight
$13 - forever21.com

Forever21 thigh high socks
$6.80 - forever21.com

Necklace
$48 - francescascollections.com

Forever21 feather earrings
$4.80 - forever21.com

Old navy scarve
$18 - oldnavy.gap.com

Scarve
$28 - francescascollections.com

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blog #115: News and Such

The second biggest news of my week has been that my internship hours are working out so that I will be officially done before Christmas and not need to work into January at Solace House like I thought. While I am very, very sad to be leaving SH it is thrilling to know that I will have a completed Master's degree and diploma by year's end.

The first biggest news is a secret. For now.

just one of the little pieces of Christmas festivity at my desk.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blog #114: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love December, even though I hate winter. Mostly because it combines two of my favorite times of the year: the Christmas season and the Division II football playoffs. Now, I am QUITE spoiled as a football fan because my team (ahem.. THE BEARRRRRRRCATS) has played football in December every year for the past several. This year is no exception and Saturday we have a chance to avenge our regular season loss against the Gorillas by going to their house and ending their season. I CAN NOT WAIT. I don't get to go watch it this time but believe you me I will be listening and hootin' and hollerin' loud enough to be heard all the way in Pittsburg, KS.

But I digress.

It's December now which means it's time to write my letter to Santa (SANTAAAA! I KNOW HIM!) Now, I'm pretty good to go on "things". And by good to go, I mean I have way more than I could ever hope for or need and my apartment is a disaster of stuff so my list is going to look a little different. Plus, since this is a list for Santa, I am not afraid to shoot for the stars.

1. Three (3) more wins for the Bearcat Football Team this season. This means that they would win this week against PSU, next week in the semifinals (likely against Delta State) and then again the following week in the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. Yes, I know all these events take place before Christmas but I consider that a plus. It gives Santa less to do on the actual day. I'm thoughtful that way.

2. An offense for the Kansas City Chiefs at the very least capable of getting a touchdown. Because when your team is so down on their luck that they have to sign KYLE ORTON you know you're in trouble.

3. I'd like my apartment to just magically be clean and in order. I don't have a ton of time to clean but I am craving a clean living space. An alternative to this would be my own robot butler to keep my apartment in order and feed my cat, as long as he doesn't become self aware and try to take over the world.

4. A guaranteed job in the counseling field beginning in the early spring.

5. An extra 3 waking hours that do not come from giving up sleeping hours every day.

6. Jason Segel. Basically I want to live our own version of The Muppets. I just know if I marry him we will get to hang out with Kermit all the time. Also, I would get a muppet version of myself created to hang out with the Jason muppet.

7. The ability to go to the sold out Florence + the Machine concert Monday.

8. The invention of a teleportation device so that I can visit all the people who matter a lot to me but live far away. (In places such as Austin, NYC, St. Louis, Colorado, Washington, etc) on a regular basis.

9. For Community to NOT be canceled or taken off the air midseason. Seriously, NBC. How dare you do that to such a brilliant show while still supporting the likes of "Whitney".

10. For my parents' Kansas City house to sell ASAP.

See, nothing major.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog #113: I'm thankful for...

  • A job wherein I can legit say "we've got a photo shoot for our Fittest Exec Challenge today and wellness meeting at 7am tomorrow." In a time where anyone ought to be thankful to just be employed at all, I am beyond lucky to have a great job with a great boss that provides me different opportunities for learning and growth every day and allows me the flexibility to pursue my Master's degree.
  • The opportunity to pursue a Master's degree in a field I'm passionate about - complete with an internship that allows me the honor and the privilege to sit with people in intense moments of grief.
  • That I have never ever been hungry and wondered how I would eat.
  • That I have never ever been cold and wondered how I would get warm.
  • That I have never wondered if I would have a safe place to sleep.
  • That I have always been healthy (physically and for the most part mentally)
  • My wonderful and big family who I don't see as much as I wish I could. Every time I get to see them, I'm reminded of all the love we're so lucky to have for one another.
  • Grace & forgiveness that I couldn't earn if I tried.
  • The luxury of a safe and fuel efficient vehicle to carry me through my daily travels.
  • Friends near and far who will get excited about little things with me and take the time to indulge in little celebratory texts or phone calls - and the opportunity to do the same for them.
  • The ability to stay connected in busy times through texting or social media - with both my friends and my family.
  • A deep appreciation for music and books... and the resources to indulge in that appreciation.
  • Air travel and the resources/opportunity to use it to see long distance family for special days like Thanksgiving.
What are you thankful for this year?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog #112: An Open Letter to my Upstairs Neighbor

Dear Upstairs Neighbor,
I'm proud of you for being responsible and wanting to have clean laundry. Really. That's something that I typically only get to about once a month. Kudos, you. I'm a little concerned, though, at your timing. As you're aware, we live in an apartment complex in which the laundry hookups are in the bedroom. And your apartment is directly on top of mine, therefore your washing machine is directly on top of my bedroom. This isn't a problem, really, if we both agree that 11:30 on a weeknight is not an appropriate time to run your washing machine unless it's one of those super quiet fancy ones. Which, here's a pro tip for you: it's not. Plus, I think you might need to readjust the alignment because I don't think it should be shaking as much as it does. You're probably damaging it... and the walls.
I'm glad I got to bring up that your bedroom is above my bedroom because that leads me to my next point. Look, I am happy you're in love. At least I assume you are. If you're not, whatever it's your life. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm thrilled that you're "getting some". That's really great for you. I wish you the best of luck with it all. But remember the thing about your bedroom being right above my bedroom? Unless you have one of those mattresses that don't spill wine when you bounce (and I am fairly certain you do not) 5am on a Saturday morning is a completely ridiculous time to be moving and shaking. Let me tell you a little about myself. I work 16 hour days 4 days a week, 8 hours on Friday, and then on Saturdays I still get up around 7:30 to go into my internship. When I hear rhythmic thuds at 5am that wake me up and don't allow me to go back to sleep, I get a cranky face. Other times that rhythmic thuds interrupting my precious, precious sleep will give me the cranky face (for your reference): anytime between midnight and 5am Monday-Friday.
Look, I am a fairly good neighbor. I am barely ever home and I always get back too late to take the good spots in our parking lot which leaves them open for you. Yes, I occasionally interrupt your loving times by beating my fist angrily on the ceiling but that's just my way of trying to communicate to you that I have to wake up in 3 hours and I wish you would wait until daylight. All I ask in reciprocation is for you to respect the evening hours more consistently. I don't think it's asking much.
Sincerely,
Marissa
PS: Are you a giant, ogre or troll? I've never met you but from the sounds you make when you walk around your apartment, you are roughly 12 feet tall and 600 pounds.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blog #111: Vintage Blogging, Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year:
He goes to MO West which I affectionately call "K-Mart College".

My cell phone is at the Burger King in the Denver International Airport. (see, losing important things is a habit I've had for awhile.)

Bob Costas is super cool. (I still think that!)

Today my media writing teacher walked into the room wearing shorts that seemed shorter than what a man should wear. They weren't terrible. Just slightly distracting.

We're going out to lunch at a sandwich shop tomorrow. That's what we do. We go to sandwich shops. If you have a problem with that you should see our manager. That might be difficult though because we don't have one.

My hope for today is that today would be as great a day to be a Chiefs fan as  yesterday was to be a Bearcat. If the Chiefs beat the Broncos tonight, that would also combine some of my favorite things: 1. the Chiefs, 2. football, and 3. winning.

In our bathroom here at South Complex, there is a toilet that we call the "uber flusher". When you flush it, it goes for a solid 2 minutes... at least. Really gets the toilet bowl clean.

i went and played some flamingo football. the girls lost but we had fun. i tackled boys and got tackled a couple of times and now i'm kinda sore.

my roommate rocks like one hot piece of pumice.

now that i'm not a teenager anymore maybe i should try to be a little less silly... but then, where would the fun be in life?

will somebody please bring me a lozenge? or some soup? hot chocolate? ice cream? humidifier? hot bath? nyquil? my mom? a day off? a million dollars?


There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those who sleep on the top bunk... and those who only wish they did...


so that's 15 credit hours plus 12 hours of work scattered throughout... but i think i'm going to give it all up and become professionally good looking like derek zoolander -OMG - I seriously want this schedule back.


WHO THE CRAP PUT THAT PIECE OF DUCK UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE IN MY ROOM??????  WHY IS EVERYTHING SO COMPLICATED? WHO'S THE FOWL FIEND?


saturday night we went to a bonfire with mostly a bunch of people we didn't know. there was hobbling girl, face boy, and conversation girl... among others.







Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog #110: Vintage Blogging, Freshman year

So, I rediscovered my Xanga the other day, and thought it might be fun to share some quotes from when I was stupid and naive younger and more innocent with you. So that's what's going to happen this week.
From Freshman Year:  
"So it's off to the far away place called homework land, where every minute is an adventure...or...something...like...that..."

"There are worse things than having acute sinusitis. For example, I could have an ugly sinusitis... I mean let's face it... not everyone is as lucky as I am to have such a good looking sinusitis. When the nurse lady person told me that I had acute sinusitis... all I could do was smile and say thank you, because I just know that someone like her must see an awful lot of sinusitis and for her to say I have acute sinusitis... well, it just means a lot. Haha, I bet she's seen really ugly sinusitus. But like I said... we can't all have acute sinusitis. I consider myself lucky."

"On a lighter note, last night, during the candelight part of our Christmas Eve Service, my little sister caught on fire."

"Happy Study Day everyone. I'm celebrating by swinging the cramming bat at the biology pinata right now."

I'm thinking of throwing a huge kegger. I mean, isn't that what all the cool kids do when their parents go out of town? That's what I've heard anyway... when my parents go out of town I usually just play my cds really loud on the sound system and dance on the coffee table pretending to be a rock star. That's probably what I'll end up doing.

I didn't go to any of my classes today. I slept until 1pm  - the day after the AMAZING Yellowcard/Something Corporate concert I went to at the Beaumont my freshman year.

I just try to be funny sometimes. I'm not very good at it.

Bad news, the ice cream place on campus is out of the soft serve ice cream that they use to make my reeses peanut butter cup blasts. If I would have known yesterday that the blast I was eating was my last one for the school year I would have savored it so much more.

May is going to fly by like a freakin bat. Because man, bats can fly fast. Not a baseball bat... a real bat, though I suppose a baseball bat could fly fast too if someone threw it hard enough. But that's beside the point

I'm glad I only have to be a freshman twice in my life. Because man, no one likes freshmen. It's even worse to be a freshman for the second time because you know that when you were in high school and you were a sophomore, junior, or senior, you really just didn't like the freshmen, they were annoying. Then you go on to college and you are a freshman and you just have this feeling of annoyance with yourself just for being a freshman. You're like "man... freshmen are so annoying, wait, i am one...NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" And now that feeling is over for me.

Oh yeah, I took Catharine's advice and got myself some pimp names.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog #109: Well.

Some of my favorite nights ever have involved me losing my keys in some way shape or form.

This weekend was no exception.

Although I really should do something about my tendency to lose important things.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blog #108: The Contents of My Desktop (physical, not software) by Marissa

I am always working in basically what appears to be chaotic disaster at my desk. Here are some things you will see around me if you looked at my desk right now:



  • Salt & pepper in disposable shakers: because you never know when your working lunch might be a little bland.
  • A box of Optimal Support packets by Mannatech - vitamin supplements I take twice a day because typically, if a lunch is able to be a "working lunch" it is not full of nutritional value and is usually just a granola bar or coffee (neither of which I add salt or pepper to)
  • Several empty Optimal Support packets by Mannatech - I'm not the best at throwing things away even though my trash can is literally directly behind me.
  • 6 bottles of nail polish - 3 Essie, 2 OPI, and a Sally Hansen all in various shades from red to coral to mint to beige. I do my best nail work when I get to work early.
  • A speaker dock for my iPod that is not currently plugged in - I haven't listened to my iPod at my desk in months. Not since I discovered Spotify and XM on my laptop.
  • My Macky - My 2007 black macbook sits open and playing music all day long
  • A small stuffed "Cookie Monster" that makes noises when you knock him down. - I have no rational explanation for this. He's not even my favorite Sesame Street character (GROVER4LYFE). Suffice it to say it was an inside joke with my boss.
  • Two plastic star trophies - One for winning "improv night" at my cousin's birthday party and the other for being a "Star Volunteer" at Solace House. I love a good trophy.
  • A hair brush, a small mirror, and a pack of bobby pins - for midday grooming Also included here would be the tube of mascara and the powder brush in the back that I don't think I've used in over a year.
  • A tiny replica of the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland - my cousin asked what she could bring me back from Scotland and I told her "A CASTLE." She took me seriously.
  • Various lotions and hand sanitizers - whether I need to feel clean or moisturized or both - I have a solution.
  • My Garmin cup that I've been refilling 5 times a day with water since I bought it when I worked at Garmin in 2008 - Boss gives me grief for this occasionally, but I love that cup.And I always drink out of a straw
  • Coffee cup from my best friend that I fill up with 12oz of coffee and drink first thing every morning when I come to work - I should probably wash it more often
  • Tide pen - I am accident prone
  • Goo be Gone - because in keeping with my tendency to ruin things, the sticky tack stuff I used to pin up my bulletin board may or may not have screwed up the walls.
  • Glasses cleaner 
  • Aleve - I rarely take this anymore, but always keep a full supply on hand because my boss often has sore muscles from all of his sports playing. 
  • Business cards strewn in a disorganized manner
  • Personalized invitations to the holiday party
  • Inspirational Maya Angelou quote
  • Printout from "Stuff No One Told Me."
  • Random Piece of foam
  • Bracelets
  • stray staples
  • USB cords
  • tape measure
  • bowl I eat oatmeal from sometimes in the morning
  • various keys, desk supplies
  • phone
  • monitors
  • stands to hold more junk
This is actually pretty out of control. I'm going to try to get a semblance of order now.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blog #107: Nevermind I hate football. Also, every sport.

I'm going to become a master crafter instead of ever caring about football again. Yarn and pipe cleaners may  not be as exciting but they also won't take my heart, put it in a blender, and press "liquefy". So they've got that going for them. All I need are some pinking shears and those bases to make wreaths and I will be unstoppable. Everyone better prepare for some kick ass homemade Christmas gifts because I"m about to have all kinds of Sunday free time.

Also, on Friday I cut most of my hair off. Well, I didn't do it, but my awesome stylist did and I like it a lot but I forgot my iPhone so I will have to upload photos to tell the story later.

And then on Saturday I WAS IN AN EARTHQUAKE AND ALMOST DIED*.

*I was (kind of) in an earthquake and almost (but actually not really at all) almost died.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blog #106: Yes, I love football. No big.

So I like love football and I am a girl.And not the kind of "tomboy" girl who was raised with only brothers growing up and always played Madden instead of Barbies and hates to wear dresses (Though that girl is no less a woman than me.).  I have a difficult time grasping why this is such a big deal. Probably because I happen to have some wonderful women in my life who ALSO get passionate about a football team and love the game even though they TOO are also very fashionable and feminine women.

Yesterday as I was raving in great detail about the Monday Night Football Chiefs game in a morning meeting, one of my colleagues stopped me and asked, "Do you have brothers?"  And of course, I do. I have sisters too, though. And the majority of my time in childhood years was spent with a single Mom and a much older sister. And I would doubt that my brothers had much of an influence at all in how I started loving football. When I was growing up I rarely watched any game other than the Super Bowl and couldn't understand what was so good about a first down if you didn't get any points for it.
Chiefs Victory Lamp

However, the disbelief and fascination experienced by others when they first experience the depth and excitement in which I talk about football is a common occurrence. At the games, at the UPS store when I'm jawing with the guys about the most recent game, and at the office. It's always in complimentary fashion, but it does get a little old.

I started being really interested in football in high school. First, as a social outing and then as our team developed from a hapless perennial disappointment to state champions I recognized the excitement in the game. From the ages of 13 to probably 18 I liked it when the Chiefs won more out of relief that my stepdad would be in a better mood than any real allegiance.

It's Beautiful
In 2003, I was a freshman in college and THAT is when I really discovered and embraced the NFL. The Chiefs had a very exciting year going 9-0 before losing to The Bengals (who I will now forever despise) and then not making it past the first game of the playoffs (story of our lives.) I began watching games with our brother floor, and learning everything I could about it. The game requires intelligence, strategy, and physical excellence. It was enthralling.  My college was (and remains) big on our own football team and so college football began to be revealed to me as well. I loved it, and I didn't want to be one of those people (who, yes, are typically female) who tried to go to the games and engage but really didn't understand it. (There were girls like that behind me at Arrowhead Monday night. It was aggravating.) I was (and am) truly interested in the game's storylines, players, and rules.
w/my bro at the MNF Game

And now, more than ever, I love the sport. I love being at the games and being the "12th man" on defense. I love the sore throat and headache I have the day after a game. I love doing the tomahawk chop and the hey song. I love watching Tamba Hali knock Philip Rivers down by his ankle and sheer will. I love a good interception (as long as it's by MY team's defense) and a huge hit (again, my team.) I am excited by watching a receiver artfully tap both is toes in bounds just after securing the ball and before getting hit to fall out of bounds, a running back battling through the tackles to break a big run (especially if a QB throws a block. That's hot.). The intensity of a well done 2 minute drill makes my heart skip a beat. I love reading breakdowns of the games on various blogs (well, after a win at least) and watching replays of my favorite moments.
Victory walk out of Arrowhead Monday night

However, here are some things I ALSO love:
Nail Polish
Makeup
Getting all dressed up
Shopping
Chick Flicks
Fashion (and fashion blogs)
Texting
The red carpet at celebrity award shows
Chocolate
Pedicures
Wine
People Magazine
Music - especially the kind with thoughtful emotionally wrought lyrics and beautiful melodies
Kids(both my family members and the ones I have the joy of counseling)
Getting my hair washed at the salon
OMG SHOES

So there you have it. I'm a girl and I LOVE football. And it's really not that big of a deal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blog #105: Lately

Have you heard this song yet?
How about this one?

I'm in love with both songs and both of their beautiful female artists. (In a very heterosexual way, of course.) (Not that there would be anything wrong with the other way.) (I was just clarifying that my particular girl love happens to be platonic.) (Except maybe for how I feel about Kate Middleton. I don't know the right word for that infatuation.)

And now a list:
1. GO CHIEFS!!!
I went to visit best friend in STL and was thrilled to be able to cheer the Chiefs to victory over the Faiders with her.
2. Got some awesome products I ordered from Birchbox today! Ask me about Birchbox. It's awesome.
3. My boss's big charity event for Community Linc (provides housing for homeless/transitioning families), The Rent Party, was a hit!
4. Fall is the best season.
5. If I were to try my hand at fashion blogging, I would use a picture like this, and I would tell you that my shirt & vest were on sale at Old Navy, my jeans are Target from a few months back, and my boots are Steve Madden and yes, they are wonderful.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blog #104: Singledom PERKS

As I sat in my bed last night solving logic puzzles on my iPad and eating microwave scalloped potatoes out of their serving dish, it occurred to me that I have been taking my singlehood for granted.

Seriously. I was eating cheesy carbs in bed and doing puzzles. I call that winning, but something tells me that wouldn't fly in a marriage. Or maybe it would. If you know a guy who doesn't mind bringing potatoes into the bedroom (to eat, pervs) let me know.

As if that isn't enough to convince you and me that being single is awesome (because that's what I'm going for here - for both of us) here are a few more perks of singledom:

1. I'm about to have my Master's Degree. Okay. I know there are plenty of happily married individuals with growing families that do this. I know myself, though. I'm very much 100% or 0% about most things. While it's not necessarily a strength, it still means that I would probably not have given up my time and energy to grad school if I were involved in a serious relationship (the one last year was well after grad school began).  It exhausts and stresses me out now, so I can only imagine managing a marriage or family on top of that. Kudos to you super men/women that do it.

2. Autonomy. If I'm not at work/internship/school, my time is MINE. I get to decide how I spend it. I get real stingy with my time because I don't have a luxury of it at the moment. And that's okay, because I haven't committed it to belong to anyone else (like you do in a marriage) so I can make plans at the last minute without checking with anyone or sit at home and drink wine and catch up on my DVR (which I like to call "Friday").

3.Weird eating habits. This actually might be more of a function of being single than a perk - but I don't mind it. Between work/internship/class I eat at weird times and not always normal things. Microwave scalloped potatoes isn't a normal evening snack but it was what I had on hand that was easy.

4. My space (not MySpace) is my space (not MySpace). I kind of like living alone. I get the whole closet to myself, don't have to fight with anyone over what shows to record on the DVR, and am in charge of whether (I originally typed "weather" here. I am NOT in charge of the weather, but that would be awesome.) I have a nice quiet evening with a book and a glass of wine (no noisy TV in the background) or if I want to watch Sunday Night Football and scream at the TV. I clean up when it suits me. I have my nephews or friends over when I feel like it.

5. Money. That's a big deal and it's one of the bigger reasons marriages that don't work, don't work. I like that I get to decide what I buy and when and am not quite ready to share that kind of decision with someone else. I'm sure when I meet the right person that will be something I will get to, but for now I really enjoy the freedom.

There you have it, 5 good reasons to stay single for awhile if you're single. I know the benefits of a fulfilling relationship and marriage reach far and long, but that doesn't mean that growth and happiness can't happen in the single life too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blog #103: 3 notes.

Just a few things:
1. Yesterday I got to work before 7am and then was at Solace House until after 10pm. I am not complaining because my job is not hard and Solace House is super fulfilling, I just can't help but wonder what life will be like when I only have one job/major obligation. Again, I fully acknowledge that grad school was a choice I made and an amazing opportunity that I had that is a blessing rather than a burden and that there are people out there who have it much more difficult than me. I am still SO glad I am pursuing this degree. I just want to be irrationally whiny for a brief second about how tired I am all the time and how jealous I get when other people talk about doing fun stuff after work and I go do more work after work. Now I'm done and back to embracing an attitude of gratefulness about it all. If push came to shove and someone put a gun to my head and asked me to choose between just job or job + Solace House, I would continue to choose my work at Solace House every time. Carry on.

2. Lenny's Sub Shop in Lenexa is one of my favorite places for lunch. I had been obsessed with their roast beef sandwich but yesterday I discovered their chicken salad kaiser sandwich and I will now proceed to eat that every day with some baked chips and if I'm feeling indulgent, a giant chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookie. Throw some lettuce/tomato/pickle on that thing and it's perfect.

3. On Monday night I watched The Sing Off "with" my BFF. The "with" is in quotes because due to her remote location we used DVR technology to synchronize our watching and texting to communicate our thoughts on each performance. Here's a tiny taste of what it was like. We were talking about the all girl group, Delilah here:
Full disclosure: I'm mostly sharing this because I wanted more people to laugh at me for using the term "girl boner"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog #102: The Year of the New

Can you believe that we're already halfway through October? There's only like 10 weeks left in 2011. 2011 started off kind of rocky for me with the whole having my heart ripped out of my chest and blown up into a million pieces and then totaling my car thing. However, it made a pretty quick turn for the better and I embraced a lot of new things this year. It's technically a little early for a "year in review" but I'm proud of all the "new" so far in 2011 and I feel like sharing.

1. New office
January 21, 2011

2. New Car
February 2011 
3. Also in February 2011, I got my iPhone. Totally revolutionized my life.

4. I went gallivanting to do some wine tasting in Washington, and developed some new sophisticated tastes.
April 2011

5. My mom got a major promotion, possibly opening up opportunities in a new city for me. We'll see. I went to visit.
May 2011

6. I went to my first country concert. It says Kenny Chesney but I was there to see the Zac Brown Band. ZBB didn't sing "Cold Hearted" but I loved them anyway.
July 2011

7. Kansas City finally got a Trader Joe's giving me a new place to get groceries.



8. I jumped out of an airplane. That was new.

September 17, 2011
9. I went on a business trip. My first one ever. And I got picked up by a limo.

10. There's more to come in the next 10 weeks. 2011 has definitely been the year of the new.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blog #101: Adventures in Conversation

I have an identity crisis almost every time someone asks me what I do for a living. It's not an easy answer because my pride won't allow me to just say "assistant" because I know I am only in this role because it works while I'm in grad school and I always feel like I need to clarify that. But that always invites more questions and small talk that neither me nor the asker (who is probably just being polite) is interested in going through. By saying, "assistant while I finish grad school" I end up being asked the following questions immediately:

1. Oh, where are you going to school?
2. What are you studying?
3.Oh, how much longer do you have?
4.  So what do you want to do with that?

Three out of those four questions are really easy. Number 4, however, is tricky. And again I have to choose between something that will invite further questions or a simpler, less impressive answer that will end the torture conversation. Yesterday was a big day for that for me, and both of the major offenders were men in their mid to late 40's who appeared to also be hitting on me. (Side note: perhaps I should start rethinking my skin care routine.)

The first of these conversations took place at the conference I attended in Denver.  Thankfully, I'd forgotten my business cards so I could honestly say no when the guy asked. He was really harmless though, and I had an easy excuse to get away.

The worst was this guy that practically followed me around the grocery store last night trying to make conversation. He was there with his daughter who was sprinting all over the place, but he made sure to mention his EX wife and divorce as obviously as possible. I was tempted to mention a "live in boyfriend" as a means of discouraging him since I obviously wasn't wearing a ring or anything... but then I figured the fact that my cart held four individual sized "just add water" microwave desserts, a People Magazine, and a pack of Midol would give me away as I turned down the cat food aisle.

Not only is the situation uncomfortable enough as it is, but it also sends me into the tailspin of uncertainty I had thus far been able to avoid by embarking on the business trip. However, I return to Kansas City, and there reality is - waiting to meet me in the form of a mid life crisis..

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blog #100: Purple Corduroy, Then & Now

Yes, this is my #100 blog on NST! Not my 100th blog ever though. I've been a fickle blogger on many different platforms. I figure I'll celebrate by writing about something frivolous and silly to lower expectations of meaningful posts so that I can blow you away with those later.

I don't have a picture handy of the purple corduroy overalls I wore constantly in the 5th and 6th grade with the same purple & pink striped shirt every time, but boy were they wonderful. I wore that outfit at least once a week and with the same brown Doc Marten style boots (but not real Docs...the budget friendly kind.) I was a fashionista from early on in my dressing life, obviously.

One time, before I realized how terrible I am at the sport, I did a basketball league at my elementary school and forgot to bring a change of clothes. So, when my mom came to watch me play, she saw me running up and down the court in what else? My purple corduroy overalls. One of my many proud, shining moments in sports.

I bring this up because I have discovered a grown up version of my purple overalls, and I love them:

Gap corduroy leggings in aubergine (a really fancy way to say deep/dark purple). I got the petite size so that they would hit just above my ankle and look great with pumps OR boots. I'm rocking them today with brown pumps, khaki blazer, and turquoise striped long knit shirt. I'm glad that 15 years later, I can incorporate purple corduroy into a grown up look. Bonus: super comfy. Maybe even comfy enough to play basketball while wearing them... but you won't see me trying.

What was your favorite outfit as a kid? 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blog #99: Sad Bearcat

I am so not ready to talk about the Pitt State game.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get there.

And because of that, I'm not even feeling up to talking about the Chiefs victory.

So, instead let me tell you this story from high school, that I feel is the perfect illustration to how I interact with the opposite sex.

My junior year of high school, my BFF and I had a double date of sorts with a pair of guy friends in whom each of us had our own interest. When I say "double date", I mean that we met them at the local Subway after one of my cross country meets, got our own sandwiches (I probably bought Cate's. I always did as long as she asked for hers to be cut in the "u-gauge" style.) and then sat at the table with the guys. So we were chatting it up and I had zoned out a bit and I guess they were talking about pick up lines.

So, the guy who I was there with turns to me, and illustrated that the distance from one shoulder to my neck, was the same as the distance from my neck to my other shoulder, where he then rested his hand. ("Did you know the distance from here to here, is the same as the distance from here to here?")

Failing to realize his arm was now around my back, I responded, "Well, DUH!"

And that's pretty much how almost every interaction with a male in my life outside my family has gone since then.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blog #98: Help me pick a theme song

Birthday excitement abounds as party day creeps up!

My birthday is actually Saturday but since that day is dedicated to the Bearcats and a marriage, I am celebrating Friday the 30th with margaritas at lunch c/o my boss who will finally get to meet my BFF.

I'm certain our outing will be legendary. It includes a hotel room downtown, three of the most fun and amazing ladies I know, and P&L. Who knows what will happen.

Thanks for assuring me I'm not crazy. I am putting aside my indecisive crazy for the weekend so that I can just relish and enjoy the moment, but will be back to weighing my options come Monday.

Since I'm about to start another year of life, it's probably time to start thinking of a theme song for the year. When I was 25, it was Jimmy Eat World's "Praise Chorus". (Side note: I LOVE Jimmy Eat World.) I can't quite remember if I picked one for 26... but I know I was especially connected to Scandal's "Warrior" and Wilson Phillips "Hold On" for a good portion of my year.

So what will it be for 27? Some that I've been considering:
"Waiting for My Chance to Come" - Noah and the Whale
"Don't Rain on my Parade" - Barbara Streisand
"Stay Young, Go Dancing" - Death Cab for Cutie
"Dog Days are Over" - Florence & The Machine

Those obviously aren't the only options... just a few that have been in mind. Wherever I end up, 27 is going to be a year for new experiences and adventures, I'm sure. Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blog #97: No seriously, I can't make a decision (expansion on #96)

Yesterday I demonstrated how when there is a major life decision that I'm having trouble making, I tend to be paralyzed in EVERY OTHER decision from the important to the mundane by posting a very silly list of choices I struggle with on the daily. The thing is, it was not really a joke.

With grad school and 2011 coming crashing to a close in just about 3 short months, I am faced with a HUGE question mark for I think the first time in my life. Every other "big" decision that others might be tormented by, I've made with fairly youthful impulsiveness and not regretted. I applied to one college after I visited and fell in love with NWMSU. I got a 30 on my ACT and had great grades and school involvement, so I probably could have gotten into someplace with a little more "prestige" but I loved NW, chose it, and have always been very happy with that choice. I regularly gave up my summers and uprooted myself to work at camp. I wanted to try to move to CO, but when the job market didn't work out for me up there I came home and got a job right away with Garmin. When I decided to go to grad school, I did a little bit of research and went full speed ahead to Avila. I only interviewed at one place for my internship. AND NONE OF THESE DECISIONS I REGRET. They've all worked out great for me.

Research actually shows that the more choices/time we're given to make a decision, the less likely we are to be completely  happy with the decision we've made. Isn't that crazy? So, it's worked out well for me that I tend to just "decide" on something and then do it. The problem now is, well, I was put in a situation where I had several months - actually it will end up being about a year from the first time the option appeared to my first opportunity to act on it- to make a big decision. One might think that's a good thing (I can really think it through!) but it's not. I have made my decision and changed my mind about 5 times now and it's a big deal and I feel like I should know what I want BUT I DON'T.

Or maybe I do, but want to be seen as the person that wants the opposite. Which doesn't make any sense. See what I'm going through? And now, because I'm stuck on that big choice, I feel like I don't know what I want in ANYTHING. And if the pull to the big change I was considering isn't enough to make with reckless abandon like all my other changes, then maybe I'm supposed to wait?

Please, someone tell me I'm not crazy.

Great. I'm crazy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blog #96: Life Decisions I Suck at Making

1. Should I keep my bangs?
2. Where should I live?
3. What should I wear Friday night?
4. What snack do I want from the vending machine?
5. Should I get myself a Pumpkin Spice Latte this morning?
6. What angle am I going to take on my case study?
7. Should I clean or watch all the shows on my DVR?
8. What kind of job do I want after graduate school?
9. Am I human or am I dancer?
10. Chips, apple, or bread with that bowl of soup from Panera?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blog #95: Shel Silverstein

I mentioned that I picked up a copy of Shel Silverstein's latest (published posthumously obviously by his family).


I was SO EXCITED to get a chance to read some of his poems for the first time again, something I haven't been able to do since like 5th or 6th grade. I remember when he died. It was near the end of the 7th grade school year and my English teacher, Mrs. Restivo, wrote it on the announcements chalk board. Yes, chalk board. You kids these days with your whiteboards and smart boards. Totally missing out.

Anyhow, I went out right away and got it, and sat down and read it in its entirety and it was a delight.


One of my favorite things about Shel Silverstein has always been his ability to pack big, important, and profound  meanings in just a few short lines. 

When I was young, I loved his silly stories and poems. I learned a lot about clever uses of words from reading Shel Silverstein’s work. It wasn’t until I grew up a bit (or a lot in some ways) and went back and reread his poetry that I discovered what other, much bigger lessons he was teaching me. Part of me wonders now if he intended to make the metaphors I find in many of his poems now, or if it’s my life experience that creates the perspective that creates the metaphors. From what I’ve learned about Mr. Silverstein, he was always very purposeful and intentional in his work. I believe that he knew he was imparting wisdom that might not be realized until later on in his young readers’ lives, and that it was his goal. Much like The Giving Tree teaches about friendship in a simple poignant way, the poems in Everything On It tackle big issues like hiding your true self, growing old, and loss directly but gently. It is not without the silly, nonsense poetry and drawings that Silverstein is known for either. Much like every book he's published, you will likely tear up and giggle within a page of one another.

The trend of silliness with wisdom sprinkled in continues in this latest publication, and if you were ever a fan, you still will be. I'm the proud owner of all of his children's poetry books. 

*Nobody paid me to write about this. Seriously. There are like 1.7 people who read this blog. I'm not attracting any sponsorships. I just really love Shel Silverstein.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blog #94: Awesome & Lucky People

The title for this post was inspired by the most adorable quote from my nephew. We were driving back home and my oldest nephew was entertaining us by using an app on his phone to tell us which celebrities were celebrating birthdays. Then, out of nowhere, my younger nephew, 7, said this little gem, "We're lucky people. We're awesome and lucky people."

And then my heart melted. Which made it difficult to drive.

He's right though, and it's been on my mind all week. There were awesome things about every day, though nothing ridiculously extraordinary. I think my mind was primed to see the awesome in everything because of the amazing weekend I had with my family - it was just what I needed to reset myself and re-energize. So, even though my iPhone took a swim in the toilet Saturday night (oops), I had a hard time feeling too down about it. Here are just a few awesome things from this week, that have me feeling lucky:

Monday:
- Got super exclusive CEO parking spot
- Totally absorbed in a project at work, got it done much quicker than expected and felt extra productive.
- Unexpectedly got to go home early from Solace House, and got to spend the evening watching the premiers of How I Met Your Mother, The Sing Off*, and Castle

*Absolutely the best reality/competition show on TV. The judges are Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles and Sean from BoyzIIMen. It doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday:
- Parking Spot again
- Treated myself to a Starbies PSL because it was an early morning at work.
- Office wellness class at 7:30am involved using fun stretch bands and dancing/punching around to fun music.
- I got to show off my Sky Diving pics
- Through the magic of cell phone insurance, I got my replacement iPhone at a significantly reduced price
- More awesome productivity
- Potluck night at Solace House = awesome food
Wednesday:
- Discovered that the family of Shel Silverstein released a collection of previously unpublished poems. Immediately went out and got myself a copy. Read it. It was wonderful. More on that later.
- Modern Family season premier (best sitcom on TV, as evidenced by Emmys.)
Thursday:
- parking spot again
- stopped by Hyvee before work to discover they were FINALLY carrying the holiday coffeemate creamers... including Pumpkin Spice (I'm a pumpkin FIEND in the Fall.)
- Also noticed that the movie Bridesmaids had been released. HAD to get myself a copy.
- Excellent talk at Solace House with my supervisor & other intern. Was there until 9:45 but didn't even notice!

Friday is awesome because it is Friday. Tomorrow I am going to Cider Days in Topeka (another Fall obsession: apple cider and honeycrisp apples) with my Grandma. Party move, I know.

Life is great.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blog #93: So... I jumped out of an airplane.

You guys. I jumped out of an airplane on Saturday. It is one of the coolest things (possibly THE coolest thing) I have ever done. Experience five! Let's recap!

 It all started bright and early on Friday morning when I loaded my nephews in the car, got myself some caffeine (and them hot chocolate) and hit the open road. Let me just say that these two are the most well mannered best little road trip troopers I've ever had the pleasure of hanging out with.
Getting goofy at my typical stop in Colby, KS - "The Oasis on the Plains!"

The boys hadn't ever been to CO! I couldn't wait for them to see how awesome it is!

We got to my aunt's in CO Springs around 5:30 and proceeded to party hardy with Glee Karaoke on the Wii. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of me rocking hard with Rachel Berry to "Don't Rain on My Parade" so you'll just have to believe me when I say that happened. Glee Karaoke was one of our family's more epic sing-a-longs. Which is saying something, because we frequently burst into song together at random. After the party we hit the hay early, because the next day was SKY DIVING!!! Let the pictures speak for themselves. If you want my commentary and some more pics, you can check out my facebook album.


 I survived the fall and went on to join my family in some sight seeing at Garden of the Gods!

 
I'd been missing my mama! We are on top of the world!

A great shot of the kids on the rocks!

Best. These guys LOVED the mountains. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog #92: Disciplinary Action

Well, we're just not going to talk about the Chiefs. That game was DISGUSTING. It was more of a very real nightmare than a game. Oh my gosh. Did the Bills really blow us out at home? And did we lose Eric Berry for the season? Who the hell is Sabby Piscatelli? I might throw up.

Sorry. I said we're NOT talking about it. I've always got my Bearcats. (Outscored our first 2 opponents 117-20, THAT'S WHAT'S UP)

Anyhow, remember all those times I said I was going to clean out my closet and sort through my clothes to get ready for Fall? I had absolutely zero follow through with that. And then, I still bought myself some new Fall items/preliminary birthday gifts, meaning my room basically has clothes for carpet. I have been BAD and am grounding myself as punishment. Except for I'm still going to Colorado this weekend to sky dive and see my family. And then I'm still going to go to Cider Days and Iowa next weekend. And then I'm still going to celebrate my birthday. I could really get used to this brand of discipline.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blog #91: Welcome Back NFL and oh Hey there, Fall

There's technically 12 more days until Fall is official and I know at least 3 people who would punch me in the face for rushing it because of that heinous season that comes next. However, I. LOVE. FALL.

Football is BACK.
Hoodies are BACK.
Tights are BACK.
Sweaters are BACK.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes are BACK.
Soup season is BACK.

What's on my Fall shopping list this year? I'm glad you asked.

First and foremost, boots like these:


I'm really excited about some tall brown boots with a flatter heel. Also on my fall shopping list is a pair of fun 
colored skinny jeans.
I see some great possibilities for such jeans. I'm also in the market for a chambray shirt like so. Only instead of spending $68 dollars I will probably find one at a thrift store.

I'm also very excited about the Essie fall line of nail polish colors.

I'm going to look at thrift stores for some cool belts and jewelry, stock up on various textures and colors of tights, and maybe even pick up some thick socks and leg warmers. I'm SO READY. I also love sweaters, and will probably end up with one or two fresh picks for the Fall too.

Well, that's it for the day, I've got to get to work! I have class all weekend but will also be setting aside time to scream for my Bearcats and Chiefs! THIS IS THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! 

Does anyone else get excited about Fall? It's the best.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blog #90: Welcome, September

Fall is in the air! Well, not so much today. It's supposed to be in the 90's today. I guess it's traditionally summer until this weekend is over and technically summer until the 21st BUT pumpkin spice lattes are back, as well as college football. Here are some more ways I can tell it's more Fall than summer in my heart:

1. My craving for country music has faded away and replacing it is the familiar desire for alternative and indie rock. This is comforting to me because I felt like the Marissa everyone knows and loves was disappearing into a sea of y'alls and cheatin' husbands. (Topping the list: Lana Del Rey, The Vaccines, Foo Fighters, TATE of course, Joy Formidable, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and more)
2. I straight up salivate over the idea of boots.
3. I listened to an entire football game on the radio and hooted and hollered at every one of the Bearcat touchdowns in the 65-3 stomping of the Truman Bulldogs.
4.  COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS ON ALL DAY TODAY AND I'M MISSING IT.
5. I'm going to wear tights to work on Monday. Booyah.

There you have it. 5 non-weather indicators that Fall is upon us. AND I AM SO READY.

Have a good long weekend everyone.










Monday, August 29, 2011

Blog #89: 10 Dating Tips for Guys That Want to Go Out With My Friend Amy (And maybe this will work on other girls too.)

*DISCLAIMER* When my friend Amy asked me to write a post with dating etiquette tips for guys, I was uncertain. I don't date much, nor do I care to. I find dating, when not set up by at least a little bit of friendship, to be awkward, uncomfortable, artificial, and a little weird and I've decided not to do it anymore. Seriously, two mostly strangers decide to have a meal together and see if they can make a relationship out of it? THAT IS NOT REAL LIFE. I am busy and when I have free time I want to spend it doing things I like to do with people I like already, so that pretty much means no more random dates for now. I'm a terrible date. I'm a really good friend and a really good girlfriend, but date? Not so much. I talk too loud and about things like where I like to shop for jewelry and how I hate the smell of buttered popcorn. I have trouble maintaining eye contact and then I feel guilty that this nice guy has bought me a meal and I don't feel interested. So, for now anyway, any possibility of me being a girlfriend would come from being a friend first, and isn't that really preferable anyway? (End disclaimer)

That being said, I still want to help you guys out. I want to help you get a date with gals like my pretty and smart friend, Amy.You can decide whether I am capable of giving this kind of advice after the disaster that was my first paragraph, but here goes nothing.
This is me with my friend Amy. She's in high demand, but no one seems to understand the best way to woo her. I think that's probably true for most of the educated, attractive, and strong female set. So, please heed these guidelines:

1. I know smart, pretty, and strong girls can be intimidating, but being wishy washy and passive is NO WAY to get her attention. Strong girls aren't necessarily looking for weak men to push around, but rather strong men to partner with. That means that you need to be man enough to handle possible rejection face to face. Look, I get that it is much easier said than done, but your chances of rejection are actually LESS if you forgo the texting/emailing/facebooking and just call or walk up to a girl and ask her out. (I mean, not out of nowhere though. Then you're just the creepy guy who asked her out without at least talking to her first.) It's much harder to say no to someone in person or on the phone than it is via text based communication. Bonus, even the act of asking in such a direct manner shows how interested you really must be.

2. Don't go to a movie for the first date. I mean, come on. How is she supposed to realize how strong and awesome you are if your sum conversation over the evening is "Hey, you look nice (insert two hours of silence here) Well that was fun!" You don't have to be crazy creative, just thoughtful. Go to a nice, quiet restaurant where you can have a real conversation. (This probably means no to any place where there are TV's on the walls.)

3. Even strong, intelligent, and pretty women like to have doors opened for them. At least the ones I know do. Open the passenger side car door for her, open the restaurant door for her, OPEN ALL THE DOORS. Maybe not the one to her apartment, that could be a little presumptuous.

4. Be interested in things. That means have some kind of real hobby so she doesn't feel pressured to be the main entertainment in your life if she agrees to go out with you. Nobody likes to be "insta-girlfriended." It's too much too fast. Whether you never miss your alma mater's home football games or you have a standing poker night with your buddies, do something. A dating life should add to a full life, not be needed to complete it.

5. Listen. This seems obvious but is harder than it sounds. This means don't be thinking of charming responses to what she's saying while she's talking, don't daze off wondering if she'll invite you in for a night cap, don't just stare at her. Hear the words she is saying, and respond to them. It never stops being flattering and refreshing when a guy shows that much genuine interest in what girls have to say.

6. In my opinion, the first 3 dates should take place in no less than a 3 week period. That could just be me and maybe other girls would like seeing you 3 times in 3 days... but it feels like "insta-girlfriending" to me and it makes me wonder if you have any sort of life or friends outside of this brand new dating relationship. I mean, it's great that you want to spend so much time with her and I get that, look how awesome she is! However, each date needs time to marinate and process. That doesn't mean there can't be any communication in between. It just means you respect her time enough not to monopolize it right away. (And, it shows that you are an interesting person with a full life.)

7. Have your sh*t together. Part of showing strong girls/women that you are a good and strong match for them is having your own life plan and be working diligently towards it. That coincides a lot with #'s 6 and 4.

8. Walk the fine line between disappearing and being clingy. This is a toughie. Doing the whole "wait 3 days before calling or texting" thing is old and in this day and age of fifty million ways to communicate feels like an eternity and gives the vibe that you're not actually interested. However, writing on her facebook wall, AND tweeting at her, AND sending a text, AND writing an email, AND calling later that night is a little (a lot) much. It might seem exciting and sweet at first but gets old very quickly (like, before the day is out). Find a middle ground.

9. Wear a nice, collared shirt and either khakis or slacks. Don't show up for your date in jeans and a t-shirt or hoodie (at least, not a first date). Take some time to look nice is another way of communicating that you respect her time. That's not to say you should go crazy on hair product and douse yourself in cologne. Don't do those things. Remember, everything in moderation. It shouldn't look like you spent as much or more time getting ready as she did. Rather, that you recognize the magnitude of opportunity you have with this date.

10. Don't take yourself too seriously. I know this kind of goes against the 9 other things I just said, but everything is a tightrope. Balance is important. Just make sure you're having some fun while trying to follow proper wooing etiquette.

Can any of my other smart and pretty girlfriends help me out with more tips?