All Things Monica

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New Endeavors!

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I have always been both cursed and blessed with many interests. The plus is obviously that I enjoy all of these things. The curse is that there are only 24 hours in a day, and a great deal of that time is taken up with work and sleep. So far, my way of handling that is to bounce from one thing to another every few months. This time, I’d like to take a more purposeful approach. I’m going to try to plan out my time among the various pursuits. For example, to work on writing, I’m attempting to take 30 minutes to write/research every day after work before I do anything else. After that, I can concentrate on the traveler’s notebooks I’ve started making, as those are often time sensitive. I’m doing research on blogging, branding, taking advantage of social media, etc. I don’t know that I’m a painter, but I at least want to give it a shot. I’ve customized some planners for a few people. Let’s not forget the photography! I have to find time to take, edit, and print/upload the photos for others to critique and/or enjoy. There’s just not enough time! Does anyone have suggestions or plans that have worked for them? Please comment!

Train Trip Talk

Posted on March 7, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

My mother and I boarded a train at 5:45 am in Toledo, Ohio. We were traveling to Albuquerque, New Mexico to see family. I have never been on a train cross-country, so I was pretty excited. Some questioned the loss of time with family going by train rather than plane. However, we don't really have the money for plane tickets. More importantly, the train trip is part of the vacation. There is more room. you can get up and move around, you can watch the scenery, and you have time to do some things you don't normally do (like writing blogs). So far, the experience was great. The only bummer is that the 2nd leg of the journey (24 straight hours) and THERE WAS NO WI-FI! That might drive me nuts, but we did bring plenty to do.


Mom brought a book and crochet, which is all she needs. I brought my phone, camera, magazines, and iPad. The iPad has more magazines, books, games, and ways to write (obviously). What sucks is that because there’s no Wi-Fi, I don’t have access to my novels, which I was going to work on. On the way back, I will be sure to save the info on the pad itself. I’ve listened to music, slept, and watched a little Netflix (on my phone). Not too bad. 


Some things I learned:

  • DON’T RIDE IN THE LAST CAR! It was like being on a plane for 24 hours in constant turbulence. Shaking, rocking, lurching, etc. I don’t see how this is possible, as we were on straight, smooth rails, but there you go.
  • Make sure to bring plenty of liquids to drink. You can get drinks on the train, but everything was closed overnight. Bring it or stock up before they close. We brought a lot of food, but we did run out at some point. The dining car is expensive, but we wanted to have at least one meal there.
  • It was dry in recycled air, so bring lotion, allergy medication, etc. My poor mom has been coughing her life away for the last 5 hours.
  • Typical travel things are necessary for your carry-on, i.e. toothbrush, make-up, deodorant, etc. I’ve found it VERY useful to have wipes to clean hands, self, surfaces, etc.
  • A co-worker suggested a blanket, saying it was often cold. I had the opposite experience on the way out. Maybe it’s just the seats we’re in because plenty of other passengers were using blankets. I was HOT. Now, those who know me may say that’s not a big deal, as I’m always hot, but my mom was, too.


Things I enjoyed:

  • There is so much more room per seat than a plane or car! In fact, there are trays in front of you that have to extend to get them close to you. Not only that, but you can get up and walk around as much as you want.
  • The lady in the café is SUPER nice. I know her job is customer service, but we all know that that has all but disappeared today. She was much nicer than she needed to be to be proficient in her job. I gave her a big tip.
  • The seats lean WAY back, which is awesome. It’s not flat or anything, but certainly further back than on a plane.

 

Things I’ve noticed: 

  • I have never seen so many Amish on any other form of transportation; waiting for trains, on this train, getting off of others. It makes me wonder if that is their preferred method of travel. I almost said something to one of them in Pennsylvania Dutch, but I was afraid they’d think I knew more.

  

If you’ve never been on a train before, like me, you may not know that if you eat in the dining car, you sit with people you don’t know if your table isn’t full. My mom and I sat with a VERY interesting man named Steve. He was about my mom’s age, traveling home from a business trip. He works in the federal government in the national archives. Kind of cool.


After the initial pleasantries, we really got into some seriously good conversation. So much so, that the waitress asked us to continue our conversation in the lounge car because she needed the table. We tried to do just that, but there weren’t three seats together. I was going to let them talk and go back to our seat, but they decided to come back, too. So he just sat across the aisle till those passengers came back from lunch. He shared that he’d been diagnosed at one time as schizoid and having depression, bipolar disorder, and eventually Asperger’s. I don’t know if all or some of those were misdiagnoses, but he said since he started lysine supplements 5 years ago, he doesn’t have any symptoms of any of those conditions. It warrants further investigation for me and others I know. I’ll be reading some research papers in the near future. We also talked about neurofeedback, grad school, psychology, medicine, his wise wife, education, pharmaceuticals, and other subjects. It was a full and pleasant two and half hours.


BTW, we were almost to Albuquerque before we figured out how to lower the foot rest and that there are also leg rests. Sheesh. At least we know for the return trip.

 

Catching Up

Posted on April 8, 2011 at 3:12 PM Comments comments (2)

I haven't disappeared; just haven't been disciplined enough to write!

 

Deodorant update: I've moved from the liquid salt crystal spray for deodorant to the baking soda/cornstarch mix. The liquid just wasn’t enough for me, but I still use it for feet, etc. I did modify the previous powder recipe I’d posted. It called for 1 part baking soda to 6 parts cornstarch, but I had to increase the baking soda. You have to find what’s right for you, but since baking soda can irritate some people, I’d be cautious. I know it’s not more than 50/50.

 

I bought something called soap nuts (aka soap berries) that are AMAZING! I’ll write more about it later, but if you’ve been on my Facebook page at all, you may have already followed the link I posted. They wash your clothes WITHOUT chemicals and for WAY cheaper than detergent. I paid about $25 for 2lbs on Ebay and that is supposed to clean 320 LOADS! Seriously, get them. In some climates/seasons, static is still a problem, so I’m getting the dryer balls.

The Gift of Fear

Posted on September 22, 2009 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (1)

(My friends are rolling their eyes right now.)

 

The Gift of Fear is a book that I discovered a few years ago via Oprah. The author, Gavin de Becker, is phenomenal. He is an expert at predicting violent behavior. He talks about the fact that especially in Western society, we have pushed our instinct to the back. Instinct in animals (including humans) is driven by survival, so it stands to reason that it becomes important when you're in danger. We have this "gift of fear" to keep us alive. Because we don't listen to our instinct anymore, we often find ourselves in dangerous situations we could have avoided. Instinct is subconscious, so we don't "see" the things that could be dangerous, but our instinct kicks in to tell us. We have to start listening to it again.

 

For example, if a woman hears a unfamiliar man's voice from down the hall, and "something" tells her he's dangerous, she should LISTEN. We tell ourselves in our Western enlightenment, "Oh, you're imagining things. You have no reason to believe he's dangerous. Stop being crazy." I would rather be "crazy" and safe, then "logical" and dead. When you read his book, he tells you how to know when it's your instinct trying to save your life and when it's just you being paranoid for no reason (often, we think we're being paranoid when it's really our survival instinct).

 

I cannot stress the importance of this book enough. Every woman must read this book and every man should. I'm including a link to his web page (https://www.gavindebecker.com). I'm also including a link from CNN that includes the first chapter of his book (http://www.cnn.com/books/beginnings/9808/gift.of.fear.cnn/index.html). If that doesn't convince you, nothing will. If you don't want to buy the book (or borrow it from me), then go to the library. I consider this one of the most important books in existence; maybe only second to the Bible. READ IT!!!!

I Brake for Office Supplies!

Posted on September 12, 2009 at 4:42 PM Comments comments (0)

Anyone who knows me for long knows that I'm slightly obsessed with office supplies and stationary. As long as I can remember, my absolute favorite part of every school year was buying new school supplies: the smell of just-sharpened pencils (of course, I only use mechanical .5 mm pencils now), the smooth unused notebook paper, the sharp "snap" of a new art box lid - a wave of delight for the senses. Though I try to reuse items now, don't think my ecstasy has dulled since then. Every quarter, I revel in getting my binder ready to be filled with new information! I have every section tabbed, labeled, divided and stocked with pristine, college-rules paper. (I get chills just thinking about it). I like to try different methods of organization, but the three-ring binder seems to be the most effective no matter what I do. I LOVE BINDERS! They're just so versatile, and the smell of new plastic brings back good memories of school days gone by. Once I even thought of starting my own business just so I'd have a relatively legitimate excuse to buy way more office supplies than any one person needs.

 

Don't EVEN get me started on pens! One of my favorite sayings is "You can never have too many bags, pens, or lip glosses."

 

Over the years, I've wondered why I'm so goofy about this stuff. I've decided it's at least in part related to my anxiety. I can't control the world around me or what happens to people suffering in other countries, but I CAN make sure my school work is organized. It may sound silly, but it works for me (and many others I suspect).

That's the serious reason, but don't forget how much fun they are. Do you have any idea how many different kinds of file folders there are?! Then there are planners, PDA's, highlighters, binder clips, notebooks, journals, etc. (OMG!). There are really funky ones, playful ones, trendy ones, elegant ones; just about anything you can imagine. I know that if I ever do have my own office, it will ROCK!

 

Yes, I'm fully aware that this is not normal. However, I can say with undiluted certainty that I fit right in with my cohorts (Rachel).

Proclaimers Sadness

Posted on September 2, 2009 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

If you’re new to this blog, you may not know that three friends and I went to four Proclaimers concerts last year in 5 days. We had a blast with the twins and their band, including meeting them at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and hanging with them there for the afternoon. (Search the blog for more info) We were planning on going to two concerts this year as well, but my friends are now involved in a community theater production and they can’t really afford the time off work. So, I’m sad that we won’t get to see them again, but I’m using the time I’ve already asked off to go see Mathias (that wonderful man of mine!). The real losers in all this are the Proclaimers, since they won’t get to see us this year. :(

 

Stay tuned for a rant against High Fructose Corn Syrup

Insanity

Posted on May 10, 2009 at 5:34 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes you have to be confronted with absurd insanity before you recognize your own normal insanity. -Ray Buckel

Anonymous Thought

Posted on December 13, 2008 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (0)

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Dedicated to PMS

Posted on December 10, 2008 at 4:56 PM Comments comments (0)

Delayed

Posted on November 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow, it's been a while since I last wrote. Well, still working on classes, had a great Thanksgiving, and have started the crochet season again. Why "season", you ask? We don't have AC, and it's too hot to work with yarn in the summer, so I mainly do it in Fall and Winter. Now you know.

Oops

Posted on October 15, 2008 at 5:43 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been pretty busy with classes, so this is getting neglected. They're going well, though. I like them both, but the math in the acoustics class is making me work hard. I guess that's good, though.

I think our cat is pregnant again! I hate to even think about it, but we may have to get her fixed anyway, which means the kittens would be aborted. Ugh. I know they're not people, but they're still part of God's creation, and we're supposed to take care of that. I'm not sure what to do. :(

Fab!

Posted on October 7, 2008 at 12:24 PM Comments comments (0)

FLORIDA WAS GORGEOUS! We had so much fun. The weather was perfect, the water was perfect, the kids were perfect (most of the time). It couldn't have been better. Well, Jeff and Lindsay got engaged, so they were pretty nauseating, but I suppose that's understandable. We did minigolf, Shell Island, the beach at the park where we camped (never crowded), a maze (I sat out 'cause I wasn't feeling well - can you believe I got sick the day before we left?!).

Shell Island was one of my favorite things this time. I was in the clearest water I've ever seen and stayed there the whole time. I got to see pelicans dive for fish, which was awesome. If you've never heard of dog flies, consider yourself blessed. They are the size of house flies, swarm like you're a pile of dung, and bite like horse flies. In other words, torture in tiny winged form. Because I was in the water for every minute, I didn't get bit once. I can't say the same for my traveling companions. We had them at the beach in the park one day, too. EVIL! We couldn't stay long. If you're not in the water, you have to have every piece of skin covered if you don't want to be devoured.

Heather will hate this, but one of my favorite parts of every day was listening to her, Mandy and the kids waking up. I was in another tent, and just after waking, but before getting up, I would lay and listen to them. They would wrestle, laugh, play, tell stories & jokes, etc. It was a really uplifting way to start each day.

WHOO-HOO!

Posted on September 26, 2008 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm leaving for Florida tomorrow with 6 other adults and three children. We had a blast last year, so I have high expectations for this year. :)

I ended up having to add another class, so I'm taking Advanced Spanish Phonetics. SO MUCH FUN. No, seriously; I'm not being sarcastic. I love this stuff.

Kittens!

Posted on September 9, 2008 at 12:33 PM Comments comments (0)

She had them on Sunday! There are four of them, and they are so tiny and cute. She's really too young to know all of what she's to do. She started having them in the driveway in front of Mandy's car. Sheesh. Anyway, I have homes for 2 of them (when their ready, of course).

So Many Things to Ponder

Posted on September 2, 2008 at 5:38 PM Comments comments (0)

I was sitting with Lulu (our pregnant kitten) last night, and actually felt some movement! I'm always astounded by things like that. You should have seen me when my friend Heather was pregnant with her last two. Every time they moved, I wanted to feel it. It's absolutely amazing to me that a new life is growing inside of another individual. Think about it. It's not dispassionately deposited in an egg and left to its own devices, like many reptiles, amphibians, intsects, etc. It's not forced to endure a harrowing journey to a relatively safe pouch, like marsupials. It's cradled inside the mother, in the safest place possible. For humans, that time in the womb gives the baby an opportunity to learns its mother's voice, and even heartbeat. Amazing.

On a seperate but equally amazing note, I connected with another close friend last night. We hadn't spoken in about 5 years, and it's truly a blessing to have him back in my life. I love you.

Funny

Posted on August 20, 2008 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Today, my friend Megan said, "This is finals week; I wanna kick a toddler."

Reunions

Posted on August 12, 2008 at 4:52 PM Comments comments (0)

My class's 15 year reunion is this weekend. I was on the committee this year, so I'm more invested in what's happening. We have a few things going on. The actual dinner is Saturday night, and was supposed to be a really nice sit-down dinner with a dj and everything, but not enough people responded for it to be affordable. Instead, those who responded will meet at a nice restaurant in the city and just chat. The night before, we're meeting in a local bar to hang out for a while. Saturday morning, those who want to are meeting at the Columbus Zoo. That's for people who also want to have activities thta include their children. It should be fun, but of course, I wish I looked better, was more successful, etc. Oh well. Maybe for the 20th.

SO BORED

Posted on August 4, 2008 at 3:24 PM Comments comments (0)

I work in call center, and the phones have been down since 7am, so there is nothing to do. We get emails now and then, and someone's doing IM's, but I am bored out of my mind at the moment. I didn't even bring a book with me. The new Twilight book is out, too (Breaking Dawn). I can't wait to read it, but I refuse to buy fiction books most of the time. That's only different if it's used and 10 cents or something I'll read over and over (i.e. Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, several Dean Koontz books, etc.). Oh well.

Aliens?

Posted on July 12, 2008 at 10:31 AM Comments comments (1)

I live in the country, so I'm used to hearing the sounds of nature more than the average person. There's a farm down the road, so we hear horses, dogs, donkeys, cows, etc. all the time. A few weeks ago, I was lying in bed reading, when I heard the dogs from said farm start to howl and bark all of a sudden. Then I heard this unearthly screaming. It chilled me to the bone. I immediately reverted to childhood, and snapped off my light and pulled up the covers. The banshee-like wailing was louder than the dogs, so I'm picturing this huge alien bent on world destruction. Of course, if I've turned off my light and pulled up the sheet, I'm bullet-proof, right?

 

 

Hear what I heard that night!

 

 

Imagine my chagrin when I'm relating this tail later only to find out that it was just a fox! All these years in the country and I've never heard a fox before? Rabbits, bats, crickets, even peacocks, but nothing like this.

Moist Slacks

Posted on June 14, 2008 at 2:34 PM Comments comments (0)

I rediscovered another reason that it sucks to live without AC. We had thunderstorms yesterday (the temp dropped 25 degress in half an hour!). Obviously, we often have the windows open. No, it didn't rain in, but everything in the apartment is damp anyway because of all the moisture in the air. YUCK! Could we have a dehumidifier going? Yes, except they put out hot air, so that just makes it more uncomfortable inside. We just can't win.  Oh well, it stays pretty cool inside even if everything is wet.

The title is a tribute to a late friend who thougth those words were disgusting. :)