Thursday, November 29, 2012

Week 11 Oops!

OH no! I missed my weekly blog post! See, I started this really epic blog post a couple weeks ago that I was going to post for this week, but I never got around to finishing it. I was determined to finish it last night but I guess this week just isn't a good one for an epic blog post...I have a lot to get done in the next few weeks for the end of the semester, and the last few days I have spent many hours immersed in trying to get something tangible out of my Korean TV show data. And adding stuff. And adding more stuff. And I have a pretty insane database going that still needs quite a bit of data, so I will still have something productive to work on during Christmas/winter break.

Ahhhh winter break. It's going to be so nice...

So I guess this week's blog post is going to be both late and disappointing...I'm sorry! I will make up for it over winter break...ahhhh.

And if I manage to finish the epic blog post in the next few days I will post!

In the meantime please go here: Catalog of American Portraits, Smithsonian and like their page. A good friend of mine is an intern here and if they get a 1000 likes the interns get a free lunch! And we all know that interns deserve free lunches!

Also, I have proof that Faith truly is addicting- and not just to me! I got Quynh hooked! I can't tell you how happy this makes me. Someone to share my excitement with! And to lose sleep with- because she also can't stop and stays up way late watching. Teehee. A warning label should come with some of these Korean dramas...

Look at the DRAMA!

Okay done being silly. The photos this week aren't all that interesting either, but I'm posting them for Mom to see that Ripley really does fit on that peace pillow :D

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week 10 Thanksgiving

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to remember all the things we have to be thankful for. Of course, this is something we should remember to do always, rather than just once a year. I try to remind myself everyday of how lucky I am: I have a healthy and full family, friends, a wonderful, supportive boyfriend, enjoyable pets, a chance at a career I can enjoy. I am lucky enough to be in school studying what I want to study and I have been lucky to have so many excellent professors, past and present, who are always willing to help and from whom I have learned so much. I have never truly lacked in anything and have always had food and shelter. That in itself is something we should all remember to be thankful for- there are many people in the world who do not even have the basics.

Of course I am not always as thankful as I should be. Sometimes I get frustrated or overly stressed about money, or frustrating people, or, more often, myself. Our frustrations come from things that we cannot control- and sometimes we cannot control the fact that we are frustrated. We just have to ride it out and remind ourselves that things do not always make sense or go the way we planned...but they always work out in the end. Human beings are extremely resilient creatures- the more I study them the more I come to realize this- and there is always someone who has overcome so many more hardships that any of us today, particularly those of us in American society, can even begin to imagine.

And so we should of course be thankful for all the things we have to be thankful for.

It is funny how at certain points in your life you are so close to some people and you tend to take those people for granted. You think that they will always be a part of your life. But this isn't true- life takes us all in different directions, our paths separate to cross paths with others. We should be thankful for the times we have had with the people we are no longer close to or who are no longer with us. We should be thankful for all the people who are in our lives now. And we should be thankful for the people who will be with us in the future- even if we might not know who they are. Just think about it: there are people out there in the world right now, living their lives, who will greatly impact yours, and you have not even met them yet, you don't even know who they are. Isn't that amazing to think about? Someone you may not even know exists may save your life one day, or you may save theirs. 

One final thing I would like to say, and certainly people will disagree with this: Please do not get caught up in the Black Friday craze. Black Friday is, honestly, an embodiment of many of the things that are wrong and broken in our society. We (theoretically) spend a holiday being thankful for what we have and enjoying time with family and friends. And yet the next day so many Americans rush the stores to fight for low prices, to consume-consume-consume before our Thanksgiving meal is even fully digested. The holiday is, in reality, torn from people unfortunate enough to have to work jobs like retail or food. Even if they have Thanksgiving off (which many of them do not, as many "Black Friday" sales begin on Thursday), I am certain that many of them spend it not in thankfulness but in dread. I certainly would dread a ten hour shift on Black Friday, fighting back the crowds, dealing with angry shoppers wielding pepper spray...Our culture is remarkably hypocritical, and the next two days are certainly an embodiment of it. 

If you want to run out on Friday and buy buy buy then that's fine, I understand it. But I'm not. And I send out a mild request to everyone to just think about it. Think about all that you have to be thankful for before considering all the things you need to buy.

Oh and of course, weekly pictures. I am aware that they are not overly creative and you keep seeing the same people and creatures, but hey, this is my life at the moment, so you get me, Dominic, Mr. Kitty, Ripley, and whatever buildings I happen to like photographing :D

Just hanging out.

Dominic couldn't resist trying this!

Columbia's Mall, getting ready for Christmas- and always showing Mizzou pride.

We do still have some Fall colors.

Ripley likes to wake me up early in the morning and after I'm up and about I usually find her back in here...

And Mr. Kitty likes to sit on the one place I really don't want him to- my computer. Cats are so good at that.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Sending lots of love out to all those who may need it, and all of those people who have been a part of my life- past, present, and future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Week 9 Almost "Break" Time

Next week is Thanksgiving (I suppose most of you probably know that). We have a whole week off here (the first time I've had a whole week off for Thanksgiving), so there will be a break from classes but no shortage of things to do...

This week is a final pre-rally rally- let's all get through this week and whatever exams or assignments are due, in order to prepare for next week: a week of working on final projects and writing papers. I have three big things to do over the nine day break: take home portion of stat exam, working on theory paper, and working on my TV show project. Oh four- finishing up my CLS application...but that shouldn't be overly time consuming (knock on wood).

While I really do enjoy classes and Thanksgiving break isn't really much of a "break", it will be nice to have a short break from classes before finishing up- I am getting to that point in the semester where I just can't focus in class like I should be. This is a serious problem in stat where focus is required for understanding...

Plus it will be nice to have a week to sleep off some stress. I've been kind of doing that this week (sleeping more than I should) and it's not yet an appropriate use of my free time.

I will be super happy when Friday afternoon rolls around, and I can take a guilt-free break Friday afternoon before delving into the whole "actually-getting-stuff-done-thing." One thing I do miss from Richmond/home is certain stress-reducing activities which I don't have here. Oh well, just have to find new ways to reduce stress like...

Getting obsessed with a Korean drama (Faith)! Technically, it counts as being productive because it's for my project but I love it way too much! It's a great escape show and is pretty much one of my new favorite things. The only thing is...the website I watch it on (Dramafever) updates my Facebook every time I watch it, so everyone gets to see when I watch an episode at 2 am. Oh well, I'm still being productive!

This show has pretty much all of my favorites things in it. History, science fiction/fantasy, super powers, romance, manly men who kick butt:

Okay, maybe he doesn't look manly but he will destroy you! 

I tried to find a badass fight video but all the youtube fan videos are romantic spoilers! Oh well, you'll have to just trust me on this one. He shanks himself then keeps on fighting.

Well, this has been a major source of enjoyment/happiness for me lately, other than these guys:

Ripley watching birds.

Dominic on his day off.

Mr. Kitty watching birds.

Our parking lot tree.

Until next week- take care everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Week 8 Missouri versus Virginia: Round One

Versus is probably not the best word for the title of this blog post. I don't really consider Missouri to be in competition with Virginia. They are, naturally, different. But Virginia will always be "home", where I grew up, where I envision family, childhood, comfort and familiarity. Missouri will always be that first place I lived after "home". A second home, in some ways all my own. And of course any place I live after this will be different than Virginia and Missouri...though I feel that these two might always on some level be the two most special (most special...?). But who knows where life will float us...I certainly would not have thought mine would have floated me to Missouri.

I refer to this post as round one since we have only been here for three months. Though that sounds and feels like a long time right now, I am sure than in another six, twelve, or forty-eight months some of my thoughts and feelings on this will have changed.

Additionally, in large part this is a Columbia versus Richmond post, as I really haven't gone out of Columbia enough to pass any real judgments on Missouri. We haven't even been to St. Louis (except driving through on the move) or Kansas City yet, so there is still a lot to discover outside of this tiny town.

I will try to avoid differences that involve fundamental personal changes on my part- of course things are different in terms of my sleep schedule or leisure time. I will save that for a Pre-Grad School versus Grad School post. Maybe that will come at the end of the semester, after we all get through surviving the next few weeks!

So lets start with the place for lovers...

What's Great/Different About Richmond, Virginia

1) Family and friends: I said I wasn't going to make it overly personal but this bears saying anyway. That is something Virginia will always have going for it in my book. I do miss being able to catch a meal or a movie with any one of my parents or friends. (I also miss the Masonic Lane house! What a great hangout house...and yard...etc...)

2) Great restaurants/shops/places to go with lots of character: I'm sure Missouri/Columbia has some of this...but I haven't really found any yet... Richmond is kind of a grungy city but in a good way, like your favorite pair of old socks or a cobble-stoned street. I miss The Village, all the miscellaneous sub shops and other good but grungy little Richmond flavored eateries, like Aladdin's. Dominic and I went to a hookah bar downtown here that only just opened up (we stumbled in on its grand opening) and the hookahs were great (huge!) but it wasn't a comfy little place to hang and chat with your friends. The music was loud, the lights bright and the floors bare. It was fine for what it was, but it doesn't compare to the shady corners of Aladdin's with the funky bathroom. I know the grunge factor doesn't sound appealing, but if you know and love Richmond, you understand what that means: it's quirky, homey and has character.

3) History: Okay, I know Missouri/Columbia has history. The University is pretty old with some great buildings. But it doesn't really compare to the "Capital of the Confederacy" with its hodgepodge cobble stone streets, museums, haunted spots and cemeteries. I will definitely have to get my fix when I get home.

4) Variety: Say what you will about Virginia, but you can't really beat the benefits of having DC two hours north, the beach two hours east, and the mountains two hours west. Plus a plethora of great rivers. Whichever direction you chose to drive in, you will always have something beautiful and interesting to look at and explore.

5) Sprawl: Maybe some people don't like this, in fact I didn't realize I had an appreciation for this until moving here, but in Richmond there is something everywhere you go. Sure, sometimes it gets to a point of overkill, but in Richmond going across town actually means something. There is a huge variety of restaurants and shopping and things to do...Richmonders do not appreciate this enough. Mark my words: you don't. In Columbia, you drive 15 minutes in any direction and you are out of civilization and into fields. This is not a bad thing, just something I'm not used to. I sometimes feel confined/trapped within a five mile radius and miss the spread, sprawl and variety that is Richmond and Virginia as a whole.

6) Diversity: There are plenty of different types of people in Virginia, and I've always been a person that prefers diversity (one of the reasons I decided to go to Mason for undergrad was because it was one of the most diverse universities in the nation). Columbia/Missouri is lacking hardcore in this arena.

What's Great/Different About Columbia, Missouri

1) No traffic, lots of parking: Okay, sometimes you hit traffic...At the intersection of Providence and Stadium, sometimes if you hit it just right, you might have to wait for an extra, I don't know, three or four minutes. But for the most part there is very little traffic in Columbia, at least compared to how debilitating it can sometimes get in Richmond on bad days (or in DC on good days, ugh). Also, the drivers here are typically ridiculously chill. There are usually a couple times a day when I need to remind myself to stop driving like an east-coaster. And parking downtown is a breeze- it's heaven sent really. You never have any trouble finding a spot, can usually avoid parallel parking if you hate it (like I do) and its free everyday after 6 and all day Sunday.

2) The sky: The sky is definitely different here. It's bigger and it does some pretty impressive things. The sky is beautiful anywhere- I mean, it's the sky- but here you frequently get different brighter colors, bizarre and beautiful cloud patterns, big haloed moons and lots of flashing stars. There have been a few sunsets that were absolutely breathtaking. One was all pink and purple. Another a brilliant orange.

3) The cost of living: I think this one pretty much speaks for itself. Going along with that, for those who like a boozy night out this is the place to do it: even buying drinks out is pretty cheap compared to a night out on the town in Richmond (and again, not even gonna mention DC prices: *shudder*). Plus their liquor laws are pretty lax- the liquor store is open until 1:30 am and the selection in Hy-vee is epic.

4) Less crowds: Even on a Friday or Saturday night, Dominic and I have not had to wait in line once to get a table at a restaurant. This is huge! When we lived at Masonic we only managed to go to the Red Lobster and the Longhorn once- every other time the line was out the door. I can't even remember how many times I've been out with people and we've tried to find a table at a decent restaurant on Friday or Saturday night in Richmond. Unless it's Mexico Restaurant, it can be pretty impossible. That hasn't even been close to an issue here.

5) School spirit/Tiger Town USA: I know there are probably schools with more school spirit than Mizzou (the University of Alabama, for example) but I have not experienced them, and so the school spirit here is pretty darn epic to me. I can hardly think of a single store or restaurant that does not have at least one reference to Mizzou in it (maybe the Vietnamese Restaurant...?). Grocery store fronts are painted Mizzou colors. You can buy Mizzou gear while getting your groceries or shopping at the Dollar General or stopping for gas. You want something Mizzou themed for your house? You got it. Candy bar? Check. Bed spread and matching curtains? Got it. Baby and dog clothes? Easy. Dishes? Yup. Lamp shades? I can't think of anything not Mizzou flavored. Even better- Mizzou gear can be pretty cheap! $10 sweatshirts and 25% off on Fridays before home football games. Everywhere you go people are wearing Mizzou themed clothing. It's contagious! And I'll admit that I enjoy it. I have way more school spirit than I ever have before.

6) The downtown and feeling safe: Would be even better if I had money to spend in its tidy restaurants and cute shops, but it is still nice for a walk around. It's clean and feels very safe- in fact this whole town feels pretty safe. I have yet to stumble into a neighborhood that makes me roll my windows up and not stop at stop signs, which can happen in Richmond quite a bit. I'm fairly confident that this type of neighborhood does not exist in Columbia because, well, I've already been 15 minutes in every direction...

There are plenty of other minor things, but I think these hit the major differences that I've observed in our first three months here. This is all me: I'm sure Dominic would have different/additional things to say about it. Though we both agree on the sky.

There is a lot to love about both places- there is a lot to love about anywhere if you are open to it. In sum, I guess I mostly miss the familiarity and diversity of Virginia and I love the crisp clean beauty and small town vibe of Columbia.

One final point: people always talk/ask about the weather. So far it has been a lot like Virginia weather, and I think it will be very similar overall. The summer was sizzling hot and the fall has been all over the place. I've heard a lot of people here say "Missouri weather- you never know what's it's going to do!" I've heard and uttered this exact statement concerning Virginia weather. So Missouri winter ism't scaring me...yet ;)

So that's my big three month update. We will see what will happen in another three. This past year has been an absolute whirlwind...I still can't believe I'm in Missouri, in graduate school, and almost done with my first semester. It's absolutely insane to think about...

Happy Hump Day everyone!