Monday, July 30, 2012

New lifestyle calls for elimination of 24 hours

Le sigh. Sunday deemed itself effective, once again, in begrudging me of my productivity. It's a skill that the holy day has honed to perfection over the ages as humanity continues to fight the fruitless Sunday battle. Shit's never gonna change. Lazy Sundays - redundant, no?

I'm not surprised, mad or ashamed at what the fin to my weeks has recently come to: They're a mix of shitty terrific reality TV shows (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy today), light-reflecting grease-filled hair, and optional (nonexistent) showers. Sundays are occasionally marked with a futile attempt at cleaning and/or crossing off some of those tasks that linger heavily on my to-do list. It's a silly lie to myself that lasts no more than 17 minutes; by which point either a sudden bout of narcolepsy strikes or the Internet calls my name. I think that many share the same weekly experience. (Y/N?)

From age 4 to 13-ish (vague.. I'm unsure as to when the whole "church" policy sort of faded away) Sunday meant church. Church meant waking up early and doing things that, as a kid, neither piqued my interest nor did they involve chillzone, eating, or sleeping. I dreaded it. Not to mention the unbearable religious education classes in a chilly parish church basement alongside my peers whose interest in their religious upbringing was closer to none than some. An hour-long class marked another sad concluding weekend and what I saw as a waste of a day to come. Even after the whole "church" thing ended for me, Sundays remained as they were: slow and sad, thus purposefully uneventful due to a stubborn reluctance to admit that tomorrow was Monday. Any attempt at, well, anything, was weighed down with the heavy Monday burden and the belittling tick-tock of a clock that reminded me of what lay ahead: five whole days straight without one single Saturday.

It wasn't until recently that I finally accepted Sundays for what they are. For me, there really is no point in trying to do more than necessary on a Sunday . The trying turns into giving up and the giving up turns into a feeling of defeat and the feeling of defeat trails on your ass through the early week. Why there is a correlation between my completion of scrubbing the bathroom floor and my self-esteem, I am unsure, but I find that trying to get shit done on a Sunday has never, and will never, be a thing. (OK Gretchen?? Mean Girls anyone!?) It's a day of hardcore rest and softcore self-indulgence.

That acceptance led me to my fresh-to-death lifestyle and proposed self-help book; I plan to call it The Six-Day Week: Make the Most of Your Life By Continuing to do Absolutely Nothing on Sunday. The back will read, "Smith's new plan is refreshingly rejuvenating. Her guilt-free approach to life through elimination of the seventh day is incredibly innovative." - New York Times. "A must-read for anyone who thinks that working out on a Sunday while trying to nurse an incurable hangover is an OK idea. Deeply thought-provoking. Sundays - if they do not cease to exist - will never be the same." - USAToday. "A fine piece of self-help literature. I advise you to not to attempt to read The Six-Day Week on a Sunday," -NY Daily News.

Inside the book will be tips and advice on transforming your life to avoid feeling like a pile of lard on Sunday while still enjoying the same things that piles of lard do. The book will discourage readers from homework, Microsoft Excel, and errands while encouraging simple pleasures like four-hour naps and staring into space. There will be easy-to-follow steps toward the perfect Sunday and readers will learn how to fill eight hours with absolutely nothing.

I think it's genius and could go for billions, what about you guys? IDK, maybe it's just better to tell everyone to CTFO (chill the fuck out) every once in a while. But it's easier said than done. I can only share that, since following my own Six-Day Week plan, life has gotten a lot better.

I'm seeing now that the title sounds like something that you'd find in the book section of Urban Outfitters next to the flasks with offensive and inappropriate photos of Native Americans and useless tchotchkes and knick-knacks that were made overseas but it's okay because they have funny slogans and/or mustaches on them. But whatever, gotta start somewhere! I don't think CEO and Douchebag Richard Hayne would mind taking off Sundays to do what he does best. That is, nothing good. Would the six-day plan work for him?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Feedback needed! New addition to MadQuest.

You know how people have their little music/meatless/thirsty/travel Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday feature? I want to do something like that. Like, Cereal Tuesday! And I'll venture into the world of one cereal every Tuesday and give a quirky review because cereal is quirky and I'll take dumb but funny pictures of the cereal in action while I pretend that I am an avid food blogger. Or something along those lines.
I want YOU to tell me what you want to read about every week. Should I do a movie review Thursday? Book recommendation Sunday morning? Political Saturdays? Of course, the titles would be much punnier and the content would be entertaining and mildly thought-provoking. My interests include, but are not limited to: cats, vegetables, live music, and guilt-free magazine reading.

Comments and suggestions required or I will block you from viewing my page.

Inconsistency. It's in my nature

My absence on this blog shouldn't even be addressed anymore. Ok? I do what I want and you and this fast-paced world won't pressure me. You will never make me feel like a failure for my continual negligence, laziness and overall inconsistency. I am better than the social construct that you call the web and I do not and will not feel tied to a deadline; I won't be tamed! You know, it's better to be spontaneous; it keeps readers on their feet right? I like to think of this blog more as a  scholarly journal of sorts. Many will take offense to that statement. Either way, IDGARA (I don't give a rat's ass) because I post and I receive encouragement and everything is fine. That's how most things work, no? The fact that I haven't blogged in a few weeks is a complete understatement in comparison to some REAL failures in our history: Bobby Flay, Ryan Seacrest, anyone? And even they're doing alright.

That said, I'm back! I, like the farmers of America, have suffered from a drought; my drought, however, is a little different, and I don't think I'm experiencing equally harsh repercussions. It's a drought of anything other than working, sleeping, eating, driving, running and chillaxing. (Doesn't that sound like a handful? It's not. Trust me). Serious chillaxing. Books upon books upon books upon Netflix upon food upon nothing. Basically, I've been treating myself. Not to say that writing isn't a treat, but when I'm in an infinite chillzone, blogging ain't my priority. Sorry, folks. (Hopefully my mind doesn't wander to chillzone when the semester starts... but I guess I'm not really REQUIRED to write for The Lamron. I just have to, you know, tear apart everyone else's writing. Just kidding)........

But I feel the rain now; the drought is over and it's time for me to reload and recharge; here we go I'm back and ready to roll! My time off was enjoyable but I can only diddle-daddle for so long until that voice in my head says, "Hey, you're not contributing to anyone or anything by watching all of Seinfeld in four days. Stop that!" And I'm like, shit, you're right, dude! And I experience a complete turnaround and chillzone gets a harsh but necessary makeover. That's excluding these next two weeks during which I plan to plop myself on the couch to watch the most fit, most toned, most sexy and chiseled figures, fine tuned to perfection, competing for my heart. The Olympics, I mean. I do not have a dowry.

But all that is a mindless stream of consciousness that you don't care about. Hehe, sorry! I hope you enjoyed my most inner thoughts. What you WILL care about is what I'm about to share.

It's a beautiful thing that I discovered this week, and I think you all should Google it sometime. An elusive object, you may have heard your grand or great-grandparents talking about it at some point when you weren't listening, but probably should have. No, not the five-and-dime where they bought candy cigarettes and salt water taffy. I'm talking about something bigger, something better. Think worldwide, think:


Any of those creatively-placed "at" signs or asterisks help in ringing that bell?

Sure, you've seen it in the movies and you've watched Shark Week; maybe you took a hike sometime this summer; or possibly you and your friends hit up the beach with a 30-rack of BLL (Bud Light Lime). I sure spent a good while in a retirement community, as I shared earlier, in Florida and watched fireworks next to a lake on July 4th. Oh yeah, I also sat in the lawn seats at a concert two weeks ago.

But how often do we find ourselves COMPLETELY immersed in nature? No cars, no roads, sidewalks,  iPods, blogs, condoms, nadda that. Think about it, seriously. Have you taken a trip into the woods lately? If you're nodding - hell yeah! If you're still thinking, then see what I'm saying? If you're just not into nature at all, then you should probably stop reading and continue with your lifestyle. Nothing for you to see here, my Apple-and-everything-technology-and-media-including-but-not-limited-to-Pinterest-and-Reddit obsessed friend.
Mom & Doug's Fantasyland

For everyone else whose interest I may have sparked, I was lucky enough to spend a few nights at Mom & Doug's (See Engineer post) this week; it's a house placed gently into a sparklingly preserved neck of woods that falls among the blanket of trees that covers the rolling hills of sunny upstate NY. The house and its surrounding entities (Adirondack chairs, previously seen lean-to, extra garage full of knick-knacks) disturb as little as possible and coexist with the harmless greenery. Ferns make the best neighbors; their casseroles for our annual block party are awesome (hehe. Was that lame? Sorry).

I also had the privilege of touring an organic dairy farm last week - UH-mazingly cool. Mom's was a little more pleasant when it came to really, you know, "breathing in" the nature, as it wasn't filled with the pungent scent of manure but hey, it's natural! Plus, the cows were really cute and I milked from their udders! Harder than it look, guys. Try it some time.

Nature never, ever, ceases to amaze me. Sunsets, clouds, lakes, rivers, ponds, grass, rocks (nature's rocks), trees, ferns, flowers, sand (nature's sand), leaves, tides, stars, sun, moon. Incredible.

Pocahontas (see right) agreed and said that what she loved most about rivers was that "you can't step in the same river twice." (I am aware that was from the Disney rendition of her story - partly accurate, mostly untrue. They took away some of the violence and terror. That does NOT mean the film isn't beautifully heart-wrenching).
True though, isn't it? Her quote, I mean. An experience or sight in nature will never be duplicated. The walls and ceilings of this giant room around you incessantly change. When you plop yourself into nature, you start in one environment and five minutes later, it's gone. It's incredibly fascinating, breath-taking, and natural. Nature.

To prove my point, I took some hella awesome photos of said nature, and I hope that readers will take the initiative to discover for themselves the beauty of our spinning Earth: They won't disappoint!

Woods. Forestry. (see above) Whenever I walk through vacant woods, I feel like a character in a fantasy novel. A warrior of sorts. (Xena: Warrior Princess?) Or a lost maiden. Idk, maybe it's just because I'm reading Game of Thrones right now (Yeah whatever, guys. I'm doing it and I've almost done it, so chill. It happened, alright? It's a page turner!). But I don't think that has an effect because I definitely felt like that when I roamed the forests at a younger age. And GOT wasn't around in the '90s to early 2000s.

 Clouds. (see left) Constantly shifting and changing. They're like those moving pictures you find at New Age Creations in your local mall. You know, the ones where the waterfalls look kind of, not really, real? Well yeah, like that. But this is real and does not spew the scent of patchouli throughout my car and house.

Check out that awesome sun and water photo on the right. I'm pretty sure that's something that you could StumbleUpon. You know, like "20 Images of Nature you NEED to See Today" and people scroll through in a heartbeat and then Stumble their way to the next ADHD-inducing page. But this one was real. And I stopped stumbling when I got there.

Just awesome. Lakes are the epitome of my love for nature. That's all. Vast, enchanting, and less salt and speedos than the Jersey Shore, lakes are the ideal home base for all ages; dogs included. I even took this one with Instagram to show how hip-hoppin nature can be! See guys, you can wear your Toms here! Free Wi-Fi, too!

So I leave you with that. A pointless post to celebrate my homecoming into the productive 9-to-5 world that just doesn't have a spare minute to pencil these sights in. So long, chillzone and your lush offering of relaxation and comfortable nothingness. I bid you farewell.

(Had to toss the sunset in as a final note. It worked, right? Are there tears in your eyes? Same.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summertime.... and the livin' is way too easy.

June flew by, no? It seems like yesterday that I was doing, well, the same exact thing that I'm doing today. That includes, but not limited to: Netflix marathons (often alone. Currently trying to get through FX's Sons of Anarchy. Good-ass show, if you're into middle-aged men playing with motorcycles and shit. Or that troubled blondie to the right. <3. Intervention's good too; I actually might be addicted to it. Ope! Too far?); driving to and from every town in Western/Upstate N.Y. that borders the Genesee Valley and/or the 390; reading all of the books and magazines (I read the same issue of People twice at work. Mind you, it was on two different occasions. No excuse? I'm sorry); and laying in bed in the dark... at 3 p.m. Like right now, except it's 7. This week we especially wasted our time with Food Network's Chopped and BBQ Pit Wars. Too addicting. Too awesome. I now like to pretend that I'm a participant in a cooking competition on national television when I make sandwiches and omelettes. It makes things go by faster, and it makes my food taste a little bit better. A little.

Now, I don't know about you, but all of those things above (except maybe the driving, although it has gotten more tolerable lately, possibly because I found Rochester's NPR station - 88.5 for those who are wondering. It's just me, Renee, and Steve every morning. With the occasional interjection from inferior and local WXXI. Just kidding, guys. But seriously) are awesome.
Note: Sorry about the long-ass parenthetical remark up there. I got carried away. I am aware that you probably had to reread that sentence a good three, four, maybe 19 times, both with and without the phrase, like when you were in second grade. I don't really care. I just hope we're all caught up now and/or those who were angered have since exited off of this tab. They only helped me by adding to my view count. Thanks folks!

Awesome, in the sense that my brain may or may not be melting. Disintegrating. Right before (behind?) my eyes. I can feel the knowledge that once occupied a small part of my cranium where active and critical thinking took place; it's slowly easing its way out, little by little, with every new lazy and bedridden day. Yesterday I woke up drenched in my own  cerebrospinal fluid. Could've been sweat, highly likely.
Cells are leaking out of my skull like a slashed tire. Actually, it's probably more like a child stabbing a balloon with a fork. I'm pretty sure everything's just gone. But the balloon isn't that one that was on the infomercials in the '90s. Remember? For 30 minutes they'd mesmerize us with the same scene with the magic balloon being tested in various and dangerous situations for a balloon to fall into? What was that balloon called, anyway? I couldn't find it on Google and I searched "magic balloon," "magic balloon with fork," "fork stabs balloon," "balloon As Seen on TV." Let me know what you guys find; you'll probably have to delve deeper. EBSCO Host, perhaps?

I Google Imaged "melting" and this came up.
Pretty accurate.
You see, although I no longer spend long hours (until 1 a.m. Seriously Milne, 24/7 would be where it's at) in the corner of the upper-level of the library and although I don't wonder anymore what terrible project/paper/assignment/problem set will be thrown at me next, and ALTHOUGH I don't pull an all-nighter every Wednesday toiling away to produce a newspaper in the basement of a college union, I kind of miss having a nice daily brain cardio session. Summer has deemed itself successful, once again, at putting me in this weird lackadaisical too-chill state that is anything but intellectually stimulating. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Not that it's a completely bad thing.

But it's an awful and frightening thing. I feel like Charlie in Flowers for Algernon.

I could, and we all try to at one point or another, argue that watching biased and somewhat (barely) informational documentaries on Netflix and reading a couple New Yorker/Economist/Glamour magazine articles are thought-provoking activities that nourish our brain cells. Like, the whole "I read the news every morning, so I'm up-to-date on current events and therefore I am convinced that my brain is still functioning at the same level as when I was reading the news + 15,000 more pages every day. Oh BTW, because I do that, I'm better than you."


So what are you guys doing about this brain melting phenomenon? Is everyone suffering like me, or have you not even realized what's happening yet? Are we picking up new hobbies, learning new languages? How do you guys convince yourselves that there are still some gears turning up there? I'll share with you some of my pseudo-intellectual activities and hobbies that I use to make myself feel a little bit better and a little less like a waste of space, air, and food.

I'm currently reading The Stories of John Cheever.
A big thumbs up and suggested for those who just can't seem
to finish a whole book. (I know, it's hard sometimes.) Seriously, these stories take about eight minutes, not even, to read.
Cheever likes to take the facade that people routinely hide behind and contrast it directly with
 their opposing and often hidden corruption and oddities with which we're all familiar.
If you are a human being, you will relate to this.
Not recommended for those who like books with a lot of action,
but then again, eight minutes people.

Yup. Pullin' out the language card. I'm working at computers a lot lately so
I toss on some tunes sometimes and Radio France Internationale is on my presets!
But it's pretty hard to keep up with what these people are saying, especially when I'm
only half paying attention. No matter how many French classes I take,
they will always speak too quickly for me. I'm hoping the whole "passive learning"
thing will be effective.

I've been cooking and baking a lot! Like I said above, Chopped contestant is the character
I take on when I'm in the kitchen. I've gotten quite good at stir fry (thanks to BRAND NEW RICE COOKER!!),
cookies, and oh dude, we made black bean burgers one night. Those were reaaaaal good.
But, I don't know. Does that even count?
Adults cook all the time. Kind of. But I think that because I'm learning and stuff,
and exploring my options, it's ok. I have food literature that I've been reading.
And by that I mean, I stalk foodgawker every day.
I'm really stretching it here, aren't I?

Wow. So, I thought I had more. I'm reading more books but I'm not going to tell you everything I'm reading, listening to, and watching. Superfluous. Unnecessary. Trite. I also work every single day of the week, so like, throw that in my credentials too. I'm not just dicking around and dabbling all day. Oh, and dude! Friends! They're great! I have them and we all hang out a lot. Dennis Green and many others came over for taco night pot luck this week and it was oh-so-good. Oh-so-good. Who doesn't love a good taco? Riddle me that.

I would, and had high intentions, of posting about my internships and exactly what I'm doing there, but then I got really wary of my bosses/supervisors seeing this blog and I decided it was a bad idea all together. I just replayed the GIF that I created in my mind of them seeing this blog and immediately decided to scrap the internship post. I'll take being mysterious over looked at with laughing eyes for the next two months, please.
But, I don't know, what do you guys think? It's work-appropriate, right? Besides, all the hype about workplaces not hiring workers because of Internet activity is buuuuullllshiiiiiiiiiiiit. If you're curious as to what my internships are and what my 9-5 life entails, my LinkedIn is a somewhat up-to-date self-promotion.

BTW, sorry the colors/text of the blog keep changing. I can't seem to find a scheme that I find aesthetically (or, Megan, Jesse, Laura, Dom, whoever's out there, should I say athletically??) pleasing for over a week. I don't know, am I allowed to change colors more often than not? I feel like it's against the rules of blogging but it's not like MadQuest is the Huffington Post or Perez Hilton. Yet. In due time I will come up with a concrete design but for now, trial period!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Exercise, I love you. No I hate you. Now I love you.

Drink it in, folks. What you're seeing over there, that sweat-laden, red-faced, teary-eyed, pathetic, tattered and torn, tired and worn excuse for a human being is the result of an hour-long spinning (cycling on a stationary bike alongside other unwilling victims while a horridly fit instructor wearing a full-Nike spandex suit watches and jeers from her bike, noting your every desperate deep breath as she stays cool with a seemingly level and manageable heartbeat, no matter what resistance she sets her bike at. Damn those beautiful fitness instructors like Jillian Michaels seen below! Note to self: Fitness instructors and gym trainers are the new engineers) session that kicked mine and six other chicks' asses today.
No seriously, the seats hurt my ass.

Note: I'm not saying that only the women suffered. It really was an all-female class. Had there been one man, he would have gotten the shit kicked out of him, too. Spinning does not discriminate by gender. Or age. Trust me when I tell you that I was heaving harder than the fifty-something-year-old woman to my right. Was I embarrassed? No. Good for her. Good. For. Her.

That's fine, Jillian. I didn't want your body anyway.
BTW - heard she actually had plastic
surg. to get those abs? Can anyone please
tell me it's true?
That is not a dress I'm wearing, either! It is indeed a shirt. Believe it or not, the makers intention was not to design a shirt that hangs on my body like my boyfriend's favorite quarterback/pointguard/goalie's jersey and/or my own oversized t-shirt. Because I do not have a boyfriend.  

Had I taken a "before" picture - before the madness and before the borderline insanity - you would have observed that the shirt was a little more form-fitting and all, surprisingly, one shade of blue. My face also didn't resemble that of someone stricken with rosacea. All things to remember and keep in mind so you don't, you know, think I look like that all the time. The resemblance between Jillian  and I is actually striking, bear in mind.

I was only ten - no two - minutes, actually seconds, into this "CycleCraze" session before that familiar exercise anguish struck and my life turned shitty. My legs - quads burning like fire and glutes barely functioning - felt like noodles and that hoarse, helpless shortage of breath was all I could focus on. When Nike woman in spandex cat suit announced that the warm-up was over, my heart, quads, and mind had emotional breakdowns at the thought of what lay beyond this so-called "warm-up." "Warm fucking up?" I thought. "Seriously?" I turned my head slowly toward the clock - as to not attract any sort of attention or give off the indication that I was suffering - and my fears were confirmed: With 57 minutes to go, I knew I was in for a bumpy and probably really shitty ride.

But I couldn't leave. Oh no. Leaving an exercise class, as we should all know by now, whether it be Zumba, yoga, water aerobics or ceramics, is one of the biggest faux-pas in the gym world. If you leave a class early, there's a good chance that you'll get called out by the instructor. "Leaving early!?" they'll say. "Can't stand the heat!? Heheheh. I'm just kidding, have a great one, we'll see you next time!" she'll yell, as I awkwardly shimmy out of the room, murmuring angry words toward her under my breath - or what's left of it - for patronizing me, refusing to admit to myself that she is right: I really can't stand the heat. By that point, every class attendee has already profiled me as the girl who left the spinning class early. No longer do I stand with the elite gym gurus; I am at the bottom of the cardio food chain, known for reading full magazines while walking at a brisk 3 m.p.h. on the treadmill and doing four reps with an eight-pound weight followed by ten sit-ups. My chance at ever being taken seriously in any place with a treadmill, dumbbells, punching bags, or middle-aged men and women jumping up and down to Daddy Yankee and P!nk remixes is gone.

That is, unless I was spinning at Planet Fitness - as seen to the left - which prides itself on being a "judgement free zone." I disagree. It was a nice step in the right direction, PF, but touting your motto in bright purple against a urine-colored backdrop is not enough to dissuade people from taking note of my every rep, set, interval, cooldown and warm-up. But this spinning studio wasn't affiliated with Planet Fitness and I didn't have the comfort of knowing that there was an effort put forth against the aforementioned actions.

So that's where I stood, or sat, at 5:35 p.m.. I was pissed and I had an hour left to be pissed. Mind you, it's difficult to do, well, anything at all when it's 90-fucking-4 degrees (damn you, summer solstice and upstate NY's increased sun exposure!! And global warming, for the fools who believe in that batshit theory). Why, why, there is no air conditioning in an exercise studio - or anywhere that requires more physical activity than thinking or sleeping - boggles my mind to this day. To this day. Like, I sweat enough when I stand up, so you can just imagine, similar to my shirt and face seen above, the bike and its surrounding area drenched with deep puddles of salty and delicious perspiration.

Exercise. Why do I choose to do it, and repeatedly? Why do any of us force ourselves to suffer through the recommended aerobic activity of 30 minutes of intense cardio (cardio is underlined in red. Is it not a word? Is cardio FAKE!? Have I at last debunked the age-old myth that exercise is good for you!? Scratch the whole point of this post, and take the upcoming Olympics off of all of our to-watch lists!!!!! No, I could never do that. I've been waiting four years to watch gymnastics and Michael Phelps from my couch again) at least three to five times a week accompanied by two days of strength training, and don't forget the stretching, or else you're fucked! They (you know, the leaders up there. Whoever regulates everything we do. I just refer to them as "they" and people usually interpret the pronoun as seen fitting) have turned exercise and recreational activity into such a required task and health regulation for some of us that things that used to be fun - like sports and running - have been replaced by a 30-minute block of time every day dedicated to torturous activities, and we only do it all to keep up with the standards of this day and age. 

Like, d'oh! I did my 30 minutes of moderate-to-high heart rate activities, thank god it's over! Ope! I picked up ten pounds and bent my arm repeatedly, looks like I'm quite healthy! Or, I chose to walk up the stairs today instead of taking the elevator and my car is parked an extra 18 feet away, US Dept. of Health & Human Services says I'm A-OK in the healthy standards and I'm taking a step (literally) in the right direction toward a healthy lifestyle! Thanks for the help, Prevention magazine! I couldn't have figured out how to go for a walk without any of your advice. Am I right? It's all turned into a terrible chart that maps statistics to tell us if we're active enough or if we do just a little too much sitting. 
We're fulfilling requirements, but do we enjoy this? Do we enjoy the feeling of a face full of fire accompanied by an urge to vomit and/or pass out? Is picking heavy things up and putting them back down a fun thing, or are we all just complying with what we're told to do? Do we ever think about the fact that we're paying an owner of a building to use his conveyor belt and giant bouncy balls? No. Now I'm just getting too philosophical here.
I do not intend to ponder on the whole gym and workout expenditure thing for very long because it makes me feel guilty knowing that all forms of conventional exercise can be duplicated by simply running outside (which I do, and actually did today. I hope no one saw me because I was lookin' roooooooooooough) but I still, and will always, end up buying all sorts of exercise aides: Pilates videos, Turbo Jam classes..... yoga pants..... sweatbands.... superfluous items.... But we're all victims of that, no? So I shouldn't feel guilty. Yoga pants are too comfortable too burden me with those feelings when I wear them, which is every day. What? They're super stretchy and form fitting, but in a good way. Everyone loves yoga pants.

Personally, exercise and I have a love-hate relationship. It's great, it sucks, it's painful, it's pleasurable (lol). Exercising is the greatest feeling in the world and it's the utmost shitty experience ever. I want to die during a spinning class and it burns like gasoline and flames, and that burn, it's really quite great. I feel so many split emotions during one workout that if you were to ask my how I felt during a workout, the response could totally change every second. Feeling strong accompanied by bouts of hatred and self-loathing, usually, is how it works out for me. Choice of song certainly has an effect on my workout too. Dubstep in real life sucks. But while I'm running, there's nothing better than overpowering industrial shit music filling my ear and causing possible long-term damage to my eardrums to push me through 30 minutes.

But what do I think is the best part about a good/bad-ass workout? Ending. The feeling of being done with an exercise session is one that really can't be duplicated, am I right? It's an end to suffering, that end to pain that makes everything so much more bearable and doable again in the future. It's that release that makes you really love everything in the world as you plop down at your kitchen table after a run and just revel in the fact that you just defeated five miles of turf. When the instructor finally announces that he's starting the cool down and he turns on the chillzone music and tells you to turn off all resistance and just "stretch it out." You're just like, fuck yeah. I did it. And you feel strong and you feel great and you feel reaaaaaaaal uplifted. Real good. You want to tell the world. Or you want to crawl into a bathtub of ice cubes to assuage the imminent muscle aching that lies in your future. Either way, each successive workout session is a milestone for you and they add up and before you know it, you're stronger and you're buying more yoga pants.

I don't know about you guys, but that's why I exercise.

That and the fact that doctors, talk show hosts, and parents claim that exercise has a myriad of benefits including, but not limited to: weight control, muscle strengthening and definition, the ability to combat health conditions and diseases, and a heightened energy. But, like that "global warming" thing I mentioned briefly before, it's probably just a theory that will soon be disbanded.

Until then, I will continue to suffer and release endorphins all over the place.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Uggh. Fuuuuuuuuuuck. Dishes.

         Why are they so hard to keep up with? I feel like for every meal I make, there are eighteen dishes for each ingredient. Omelette? Pans, cutting boards, dishes, ketchup. Cereal? Bowls (yes, plural), spoons, bibs.

          And don't even talk to me about baking. Flour all over clothes - god help me if I wear black, purple, indigo, royal blue or any hue that contrasts highly with white - crusty cooling racks, egg shit everywhere, mixing bowls piled up and measuring cups strewn across the counter. All for one meal or one batch of shitty and over-crispy or undercooked, too sweet or not-sweet-enough lame-ass cookies.

And then, then, if the cookies/eggs/muffins/cereal/Easy Mac is shitty, we all eat silently as we commend the good things about the dish: "It has an interesting after taste!"; "I like the texture of these. It's a lot different than..... [trails off, wants to say "most cookies" a.k.a these cookies are shitty"; "So... what did you put in this?" And then the silent, forcing-food-down eating continues until everyone secretly goes to Wendy's later, where we all run into each other, to avoid going to bed hungry. That, to the left, is a perfect go-to desperation, stressed-eating meal. 

Alas, just some things that have recently come to my attention post-living-independently. Perhaps the Wendy's run was an exaggeration, but you see what I'm saying. And wait, when I say exaggeration, I mean that I'm unsure if others would do this. But I would do it  have done it.

         The first few weeks of living on our own have presented beautiful and typical experiences enhanced by a slight learning curve. We used duct tape to fix the door of our refrigerator (second day), our cooking set off the fire alarm and we've learned how to make quite a mess, almost equivalent to a pack of wild animals gnawing at their prey. My heart yearns for the college's weekly cleaners, as terribly frightening as they were, to just come once and clean our kitchen, even just a quick wipe-down of everything, because it's obviously too much for me to handle. Shout out to my mom for picking up my slime trail for 18 years; now I'm left to fend for myself.

         And, hey, where did all of my money go? Having your own place also means taking your savings and checking accounts, combining them, dividing by seven, and keeping one of those seven pieces for yourself and giving the other six to various vendors of necessary goods and services: utilities, internet, groceries, pizza, toiletries, gas, tacos, coffee. Before this, I had - in my opinion - a lot of cash. Now I have a lot of I.O.U.s for other people as I wait impatiently for Thursday to come around and pay me, already, for my glorious 1/7th of a paycheck. 

Grocery shopping on a budget is tough too. I would love, loooooove to buy each and every all-natural USDA Certified Organic, grass-fed, local item and piece of produce - and I strive to do well in that area! - but alas, I am often forced to choose the hydrogenated, canned, processed, pesticide-filled items to prevent myself from overriding my banking account. Wegmans mac-n-cheese: 78 cents, is it? Annie's (organic) mac-n-cheese? $2-fucking-.39. I'm sorry, Annie's, but I will buy eight of Wegmans factory farm noodles over one box of your free-range powdered cheese meals. I do really love Annie's though, and that rabbit is just real cute. 

So I'm poor, my shit's broken and I'm eating astronaut food for every meal.

          But beneath, above and around these faulty situations comes a heightened feeling of newfound independence, more so than when we first started at school. We have more choices and we think ahead of time. we plan for meals and we host gatherings (ragers); dinner is served piping hot at 5:45 p.m. and the kids are in bed by 9(:30 if they're rascals!) and the bills are paid on time, in full, every time.

Hermie (Herbie? I never know, someone help me out here) and I are on the same page now. Except I am not an elf nor do I plan on being a dentist. But same sort of.... idea.

         Even just saying, "my house," or, "my own (as in both halves are mine) room," or "our bills!" feels cool. We're growing up and venturing into the scandalous and fucked up adult world. Each step brings us closer to misery and desolation and I can taste the sweet smell of divorce around the corner. Ahh, to be old and aging. I think I'll buy some anti-aging cream tonight.

         We're learning and growing and evolving and it's wonderful. And although, although, my dad helped me pay for a car repair the other day and my mom still buys me a lot of awesome shit (Android, anyone!?), I am managing my finances and keeping track of (most  some of) my purchases. And by keeping track, I mean that I'm aware of how much I spent at the co-op the other day and how much I plan to spend on various....things.. this weekend. Awareness, that's what it's about. It's the step right before actually doing something.

See? Our very own kitchen! All with an oven, window and a clock.
Pictured above is one housemate: Uddhi. The other, Mike is lost and not present in my photos.
But he exists, I swear!

So shit's getting harder, but life's getting better. 
Tell me where else I can have all of my friends on one giant sectional couch.
Nowhere, only here. So much love up there.

And no parents to yell at us here. That is, unless the roof falls through, then we're fucked.
But for now, awesome times and cute-ass pictures will do.
Just a bunch of ADULTS on a roof. Ha. Ha. So we're all kids @ heart! It's almost like we're playing house.
And it's awesome. Can I be the baby? (I was always the baby in the '90s).

And a shout-out to dear Katy Boland (first gal from right above, and girl w/ spaghetti jar to the right) who leaves for camp this week! She will be a counselor as part of the Fresh Air Fund at a campground near NYC. The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit that provides free summer experiences to NYC kids from low-income or disadvantaged communities and families. Talk about good people, this girl right here. Best of luck to you, Kathryn, and thanks for making us all feel like shit for not being as selfless as you are, darling!

Note: she will be getting paid. Please, when I say selfless, I'm really using the term loosely.

Closing note: It took me so long to post this week because I kept seeing a lot of people on Facebook posting their new blogs almost completely, exactly the same as mine. Well, same sort of idea: meaningless personal posts. So I was contemplating calling it quits but after a lot of thinking, I decided to say nay, I will not let you imposters sway me! I will document my experiences and you will read them!
Besides, theirs were douchey, poorly written and tasteless anyway. (And I'm not talking about the wonderful Jesse Goldberg, Ben Cosman or Alanna Smith)
Fuck. I'm a blog snob. 
Hell yeah!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saying goodbyes and Buffa-no more

I know.

I know.

I know. I screwed up. Over a week without a post - nine days, actually. How am I failing so hard when it comes to keeping up with this shit? It's fine, but to the eight of you that read MadQuest, I apologize sincerely. Really, I'm sorry! But since I haven't received any angry letters or emails about my inconsistency, I'll just assume that no one noticed.

I would use the classic no-Internet excuse but my friend, colleague and fellow blogger Ben Cosman had no problem keeping up with his daily posts without the Internet. In fact, the lack of Internet in his room was a focal point of his for a while. My life has obviously deemed itself hopeless, my goals unreachable and me? I cannot and will never be able to keep up with the reliability of Mr. Cosman; I am, however, back in business.

This past week was just a pile of events rolled into a cannoli (wtf? cannoli is underlined in red. So is "wtf") of packing and unpacking, spending money and driving. So I guess the cannoli was from a shitty pizzeria , or maybe even the frozen section of your local gas station. Just... not. good. Too dense, wrong ingredients, an inappropriately crusty shell.

So what was the bulk of this cannoli? Well, in one weekend I packed up my life - mostly clothes and scarves, the necessities- and shipped myself to Geneseo in a U-Haul attached to Mom's Jeep, saying my final goodbye to my home in Buffalo and the cat hair that will forever be there. I took with me a couch and cookware for 12 people. There are three of us.

Along with this hometown farewell came another and undoubtedly sadder sayonara. Big sis of 20 years Emily trucked away to Green Bay with her boyfriend, who is now an actuary, (like engineers, another job where, unless you are an actuary, you're left to wonder), Kevin (right below) and Fancy (left below).

We spent the last few days in a boxed-up house, littered with various items that still had no designated box, which led to their ultimate end: trash bags. I felt like we were squatting and I waited every night for Benny to come and ask for my rent, to which I would reply, "What happened to Benny? What happened to his heart and the ideals he once pursued?" Rent anyone? No? Ok.

Yeah. I know, right? This was our fridge. So sad, but clean, which is important. The ketchup and mustard crusties in the door? Gone. Five-year-old fishsticks? Discarded. Moldy fruit spreads and ricotta cheese, you name it, it's not in that refrigerator. You would look at this and think that we were bohemian vagabonds, living paycheck-to-paycheck, getting shitty take-out every night like the cold and striving artists in the movies. Or like Emily, in the State Farm commercial! Or is it AllState? IDK, but she's on the "Ramen-every-night budget."

But alas, we were not on that budget! We were on the items-that-don't-need-to-be-refrigerated budget! Mmmmmmm, who else looooooooooooves kettle-cooked chips? Raise of hands? So yes, to clarify, this is a couch with various goodies, and a remote. Emily has always been a good companion for eating a whole bag of Goldfish followed by a few Pop-Tarts and a Super Big Gulp (seen below). That couch, along with my clothing, hair and face, was covered in crumbs. I think the cats had some salt in their fur, too.
 Good thing we don't live in NYC!

On our final night, Jake (Emily's BF) bought us $28 of Mighty Taco!!! And let's just say that $28 at Mighty Taco - or any fast-food chain for that matter - can go quite, quite far. Far, as in, 14 burritos. Dealio! Who doesn't love a super mighty, medium, with sour cream and a large Loganberry?
The only bad part? The next day.
Yeaaaah. Talk about irritable.

Just kidding.

And so marks our last days in Buffalo before the big move. I'd say that's a pretty decent way to end our time in a city that has two solid entities to offer us: Mighty Taco and a Seven-Eleven within walking distance.

I am so sad to see Emily leave and to say that we will not be living together this summer, or possibly ever again! Nothing beats hours upon hours of Man Vs. Food, Ancient Aliens and NYC Prep (all on NetFlix, all highly recommended for viewing). We did more, but those times seem to stick out the most for me...
But even though we won't live together, nothing shall change! I love her and she loves me and we are the best of sissies forever. With our background (our childhood in the '90s, specifically) I don't think we'll ever have a problem being on the same page.

Please note: This picture was taken post-lunch and post-packing. We know. We know that we, at least I, look rough.  It was a long morning. Look past it. Thank you.
So here's to Emily and Jake: Best of luck to both of you! You have come this far, now go further. Reach for the moon, and if you miss, you'll land among the stars, right? At least, that's what I've heard. We're all rooting for you over here in upstate NY!

So that's it on my part. I've moved in to my new home in Geneseo (worthy of a completely different post. Essay, book, even) and started on one of my internships which I also will speak more of at a later point. So many thoughts, so little time.

My life is so hard.

Oh, and one last note. Last night, I was explaining my recent migration to a friend, to which he asked in a mildly confused tone, "So wait, you don't have a home anymore? I'm so sorry, but uh, wow, that's great for you!"
First of all, who asks that? Second, I do have a home, thanks, and it's not my Toyota Corolla! It has walls, a roof and two bathrooms. I was like, "I mean, I guess, what? Yeah, if you want to... say it like that. Sure?"

And in my head I continued, as everyone does when they want to say so much more but just don't have the confidence to spit it out: Thank you. Thank you so much for making me feel like a child of gypsies. Your sympathy is appreciated, sir.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Steel drum bands, loco for pan

If upstate New York is good for one thing, it's suns disappearing among rolling hills.
Isn't that the only reason people come to Geneseo? That damn sunset is on the cover of every admissions brochure. But so are students laughing in the sunlight and carrying backpacks over one shoulder, so I really don't know what's accurate these days.
I see this view every day when I drive home from work.
Yes, I stopped the car to take a picture.
I made sure absolutely no one was coming and right when I stepped out of the car, another fucking car came.
I was pissed and embarrassed.

On another note, I may or may not have joined a steel drum band this week.

 They go by this name - Panloco - that they paid extra money to have as their license plate number. Imagine getting a public overhead announcement that your van lights were still on while at T.G.I. Friday's? 
The word "Panloco" I've heard, literally means "crazy bread." Now, I'm not sure if that's the name of a mythological trickster in an ancient Trinidadian (steel drums originate in Trinidad, also the birthplace of Nicki Minaj) legend who steals all the bread or food or something but then gets his ass kicked by the fable hero or if these people just thought the word "Panloco" sounded great and somewhat cultural.  Either way, I'm a beginning/training member now along with friends Nicole Rahn and Herb Susmann.
For those who are wondering, steel drums look like that guy over there. But it's their distinct sound that makes you want to light up some doobies, hit up the bong and smoke your way into a reefer madness on a sandy white beach with no one in sight. That is, unless you want people in sight, but personally, I pictured my hazy paradise to be solo. But that's not why I'm joining Panloco. I'm taking up steel drums because I want to immerse myself in a musical culture in my community in which I can engage myself with others in an environment that fosters creativity and musicality.
Still don't know what sounds these glorious instruments produce? Here's a YouTube clip. Note the sandy white beach background.

Tell me that's not awesome. I think I'm bringing in pina colada mix and tequila for the whole gang next week. Virgin, of course. I am under 21 and the rehearsals take place in a church basement. Maybe wine would be better.

So the first rehearsal we played "Imagine" by John Lennon ("You know it, right?" is what they said) and Ted (Tim? Nicole, help me out here) threw us right onto the parts and made sure to linger over our shoulders when we were playing. That's a great strategy for making someone feel confident and sure of themselves. AKA I felt like I always do when I try something for the first time: incompetent and out of place. 

The sticks fumbled in my hands as Tim (Ted?) repeated notes over and over again. Then he had to clap the rhythm for me. Then he had to take my sticks and play the notes for me as I stood behind him like a troll trying to work a sewing machine. Of course, everyone there watched with sympathetic eyes. God. Takes me back to my attempts at crafts in Girl Scouts. My ornaments still hang pathetically on our tree: broken popsicle sticks, sloppily-glued googily eyes, crumbling styrofoam snowmen, you name it, I clumsily made it.

I've played piano for a big chunk of my life - 14 or so years - so notes and rhythms are nothing new. But when people linger like he did, I just forget everything I know, including my name. Thank god he didn't ask for that information at the time.

In spite of that, I got the hang of these musical garbage pans after a while.  I'm not a master but I can say that Tim-Ted gave all of us a round of enthusiastic compliments. Not sure if that's because he wants our $25 dues or if he actually sees a twinkle of steel drum potential in our eyes. Probably the former, but we're all human, right?

Steel drum bands also sport some flashy garb, like these shirts and hats:

Now I'm not saying I'm only in this for the clothing.

But I am.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A(n) homage to all aspiring, current and retired engineers

There's a certain occupation that never struck me as appealing in any way. And by appealing, I mean that I shy away from pursuit because I feel like I'm too dumb to even express feelings toward choosing that career path. It would be laughable, even, for me to consider going in that direction and my life would turn into a mockery of events, similar to Elle Woods in Legally Blonde; but I wouldn't give a speech at the end because I would have dropped out by then because that movie isn't real and won't ever be.

But I watch it anyway and I catch it every time it's on TBS.

So what employment choice, you ask, do I find least appealing? Not doctor nor lawyer nor POTUS. Toll booth worker, nah, janitor, nope.

Engineers. You knew that from the title of this post, didn't you? Damn.
Note to self: refrain from doing stupid things anymore.

But either way, yes, I said it. Engineers.

Freeze the face you have right now and quick run to the mirror. Or pull up Photobooth or something because you all have Macs. What do you see? Fearful eyes? Natural cringing? Good, because those are all common side effects of hearing the word. En - gin - eer.

Personally, my face falls into a look of disgust and my head goes into my neck like a turtle and my one chin turns into four. Are you picturing that? I probably didn't describe that accurately enough. Here's an example.

When kids and adults tell me that they're majoring or have a job in chemical, biomedical, metaphysicalwhackjob engineering, I ask them in the kindest way - pleading for an answer with tears streaming down my face - why they chose to do it. "You're fucking crazy," I say, as they chuckle and think of our income comparison ten years from now.

But why do I feel this way? I know a lot of business administration majors, too. But I guess it's a different sort of disgust.

Just kidding.

Maybe I'm not partial to engineering because I have no idea what these men and women do. Does anyone know? Like, yeah, an engineer, train conductor donchyaknow?

But seriously, if anyone can picture an engineer between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday, please describe this image to me because I draw a blank every time I try to picture the office and tasks of an engineer. It's such a....vague... thing.
Do they draw pictures? Do they talk on the phone? Is it paid by commission? Do they sit on thrones around a giant marble table lined with gold as they sip mead from goblets and eat without silverware? Or is that just me when I go to Medieval Times restaurant.

I Googled the word a short while (30 seconds) ago and my trusty Wikipedia page gave me this: "An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems." Ok.

First of all, Wikipedia, please - in the future - refrain from using the word in the definition. That shit drives me and everyone else nuts. Practitioner of engineering? Seriously? That gets me nowhere in my quest for this answer. The site goes on to indicate the word's origins: Latin roots ingeniare (to contrive, devise) and ingenium (cleverness).

Of course. Contrivers of cleverness? Only a few people can contrive cleverness: Witches, wizards and Jack Black. Don't believe me? Watch Year One. Mind-blowing.

I also Yahoo! Answered it, which tends to be pretty reliable, IMO (in my opinion). Here's what I got: Q: What do Engineers do? Top voted answer: There is no specific answer. wtf! Is anyone else suspicious about the activity of this Jimmy Neutron-like folk?

I happen to know an engineer myself. Want to know what I think he does all day? Magic tricks. Magic tricks and dark sorcery. He goes by the name of Doug. Doug, a friend of my mom's, has the most knowledge out of anyone I know and anyone you probably know. He is Wikipedia and college and sorcery and research and Jeopardy! all rolled up together in one giant burrito engineered to produce satisfaction for everyone.
With more free-range and all-natural, organic, GMO-free, fair trade, grass-fed ingredients than Chipotle will ever claim to have, this burrito is an engineer.

Doug is currently making plans for a new lake house, he built the house he lives in right now, he can read books and he can cook a mean, meaaaaaaan pasta shrimp salad.
So what's my point?
This dude, knows everything.
I'll prove it:

He may have acquired his vast knowledge of everything in the world (and beyond) from these small books.
Library of Universal Knowledge, eh?
What do you think? Human, or ALIEN?

That top one was the biggest indicator of the serious ingenuity of engineers.
The second one too.
And the third. I think Doug single-handedly started Occupy and then backed out once it started getting a bad rep.
Classic move.

Yes, that is a picture of me as a child.
No I did not read Small Antennas. It's in my GoodReads queue, though.

So he has a lot of books. But that can only get a man (or woman, don't attack me) so far. He needs proof that he read these books, or else there's a waste of knowledge in his brain. You know, like, if you don't use it, you'll lose it? Hehe.
Well he sure didn't lose it! He probably used those dictionaries of knowledge and alien power some instruction manuals to build this lean-to right in his own sideyard! Seriously, he built this with his bare hands! There's even Wi-Fi and a speaker system inside and yes, the speaker system blends in with the wood. Rustic.
Tell me the first 800 things you do in your spare time. If "building lean-to" is in there, then you might find yourself suited for a job in engineering.

That on the right?
Me, weeping, knowing that I won't ever have the power to build anything like this. My life will never mimic that of an engineer. I will forever be indebted to plumbers, contractors, architects and husbands. Probably not the last one though.

 Just some toys in the basement.
This is your old Barbie Dream House would be. 

Hey what are you doing today? 
Not much, just playin' with sound waves!

What's the point of this post? I still don't know what engineers do and I'm still miserable because I will never be able to build a pond in my backyard unless the men (and women) from Lowe's help me.

I'll just keep working on that nifty liberal arts degree while I continue to tell myself that everything will be just fine.