April 22, 2014

Carversations with Benny

benny has many awesome moments in the car.
usually it is when he is waxing philosophical on some topic or another.

it was a nice light way to start the morning.

actually, the conversation started more as a statement.
"hey, mom?"
"did you know god has no hands?"
"um. no. how do you know that?"
as it turns out, one of his classmates had told him this.

we paused for a moment.
and i asked if he thought god might have feet.
"MOM. of course...how else would he walk around in outer space?"
apparently benny's version of god defies the laws of gravity.
and walks around the galaxy.

this of course led to benny asking what god really looks like.
i told him that many people had many different ideas about that.
which, of course, was a totally useless answer in benny's eyes.
then, "mom! you know how you can get an answer, right?"
"for this one, not really."
(he tends to overemphasize my name when he finds me to be useless.)
". . . just Google it. they'll know."

April 18, 2014

fail: st. elmo's fire. in my face.

while bernie and i were at the American College Personnel Association's national convention a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to go to dinner with colleagues one night at a restaurant called St. Elmo's.
this turned out to be quite a memorable experience.
let's just say it is seared into my memory. . .

as we were being seated, we walked past an area where a sea of shrimp cocktails were being prepared.
they. looked. amazing.
the waiter explained that we had been looking at their "World Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail."
he explained that it had horseradish in the sauce, and had a bit of a "bite" for the first few seconds.
5 of the 6 of us at the table ordered the world famous shrimp.

when they served it, i was excited to try the sauce.
as a lover of spicy things, i ate an entire spoonful  of it.
it was at this exact moment that i realized the server was a giant raging liar.
or possessed no taste buds/nerve endings.
because i would describe the experience as having more than a "bite" for a few seconds.
unless he meant, "you will be confused, and temporarily think your food has literally bitten your face. off."
he could have also said, "you may wonder, briefly, if you will survive this moment."

it was that spicy.
but in a weird way.
while also being delicious.
i made the mistake, more than once, of breathing through my nose while eating this dish.
each time it was kind of what i imagine snorting a ghost pepper might feel like.

anyway, the restaurant was St. Elmo.
it occured to me later that this dish could be a "fun" play on "St. Elmo's Fire." 
other than an amazing 80's movie, i didn't know what St. Elmo's Fire actually was.
based on this shrimp dish, i imagined it was a giant beast creature made of flames.
and razors.
who preys on unsuspecting victims.

turns out, according to wikipedia:
St. Elmo's fire (also St. Elmo's light[1][2]) is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere (such as those generated by thunderstorms or created by a volcanic eruption).

so, i was kind of right.
we were eating a little pile of volcano.

i think our friend Neil, who was not actually there with us, because he is not actually our friend, summed it up well:
“Oh, and I finally ate at St. Elmo! So happy I couldn't stop crying. Partly because we got a table, mostly from the spicy shrimp cocktail.”
– Neil Patrick Harris

these are my only two photos from the evening:

clearly, the first one was a reenactment.
because i could not have actually managed to operate a camera phone while experiencing this dish.
mainly because i was crying.
the second was an actual picture of leslie giving poor sarah a Saltine to dilute the pain.
the best part?
all 5 of us finished all of our shrimp.
that says something about all 5 of us. 
i am still examining exactly what it says. 
but definitely something. 

April 17, 2014

fail photo extravaganza: my new career. . .

it's official. 
the next time someone asks me "what's next" in my career (which, by the way, is an awesome question for someone who basically switched careers 6 months ago), i have an answer. 

Dog Photographer. 

that's my next step. 
it has become painfully obvious that i'm a natural talent in this arena.
allow me to demonstrate through a series of high-quality phone photos:

here, i manage to capture his general sense of terror on the way home. 
because, clearly, it was my general hope to show how much my pup was horrified by the prospect of us being his new family.
winning from day one. . .

i'm not exactly sure what is happening here.
but rocky looks super pleased. 
i have a lifetime supply of these. 
turns out that dogs move even more than children.
this was an important moment to capture. 

rocky is a big Buckeye fan. 
this was totally supposed to be a picture of his back. . . 
i call this "unimpressed."
it's like the puppy version of McKayla Maroney.
this was going to be really cute. 
until rocky ate anthony's face. 

i also have a charming "tongue" series. . . 

and, a personal best. 
despite my seemingly best efforts to prove otherwise, i actually think i have a pretty cute dog. 
you'll just have to come see him yourself to verify. 

i would write more, but i'm off to work on my portfolio. . . 

April 6, 2014

daring "gray"tly. . . part 2

yesterday, i wrote about my time at #ACPA14, meeting Brené  Brown, and my journey toward daring greatly by applying for a PhD program. 
looking forward, i have one more "daring greatly" project on the horizon. 
though it might seem slightly superficial to some, this one took a little bit of soul searching on my end, and a lot of reading other people's blogs on the experience.
(a personal favorite has been How Bourgeois. i am grateful to the women who have shared their stories on the topic.) 

the next journey? 
i've decided to let my natural hair grow out. 
i've written about it before, but i started to go grey at 19. 
granted, in my "goth" years, i was coloring my hair with Manic Panic back at 16.
but even as i have shifted to more natural shades, i have been dying it regularly ever since.   
very regularly. 
and i started to reflect on how much longer i was willing to chase something that i can't catch. 
if i don't dye my hair every 2 or 3 weeks, it is clear to the world that i am very grey. 
and, let's be real, i never get around to coloring my hair every 2 or 3 weeks. 
which leads to many conversations where i watch people's eyes float to my hairline. 
and then i'm spending half of my energy in the conversation, and half giving myself a hard time for not "staying on top of" my gray. 
and the thing is. . .i don't really care that i have gray hair. 
i had more shame around looking like i don't have my life together than i do about my actual appearance. 
of all the things i want to spend my time and energy on, routine hair maintenance isn't one of them. 

i've told some people about my decision, and i've received mixed responses. 
some have been supportive. 
some have said i'm "too young" to go grey at 36. 
(which is funny. because i AM 36. and i AM grey. technically, i've just been "hiding" it.)
others have asked "how does bernie feel?"
to those folks, i say, you don't know bernie very well. 
he is a man who reads to the boys at night, does more than his fair share of dishes and laundry, and just wants the people he loves to be happy. 
and each time i take a step in this authenticity journey of embracing who i really am, and not what i think i should be, bern gains a happier and more whole partner. 
though he doesn't assume to have a say in the matter, he is very supportive. 
(caveat: because i dye my hair myself, i am assuming he is also excited about the future safety of the paint job in the bathroom. i've been known to make a few mistakes along the way. . . )

chopping my hair off would make for a quick transition. 
the problem is, i don't want to go short. 
i donated my hair in 2010 and didn't feel like myself for several years while i grew it back.
to avoid the world's worst ombre effect, i think i am going to get my hair highlighted a bit while i transition to grey. 
here i am on February 17, 2014 (nerdy work head shot):

and here i am as of this morning (april 6, 2014):

this photo makes it seem as though i will have a lovely zebra/skunk effect going on. 

this one, less so. 
i have no idea. 
it's hard to predict what "kind of grey" you have.

granted, i have a LONG way to go. . . 
and the whole project could turn into an absolute disaster. 
i may run screaming for the nearest box of Feria at some point. 
but i'm going to give it a whirl. 
i'm genuinely curious to find out what i actually look like under all that dye. 
but i thought it was important to say that i am both relieved and excited about this choice. 
and that, for me, there is a big difference between "letting myself go" and "letting it grow."
i'll keep you posted. . . 

April 5, 2014

daring greatly - part 1

last week, bernie and I attended the annual convention of the American College Personnel Association. 
my parents flew out to visit and then watch the boys. . . and a puppy. . . while we were gone. 

ACPA was the place bernie and i had our first real "where is this relationship going" conversation. 
in 2001. 
this was us then: 

clearly, it was a good conversation. :)
this year, we had the opportunity to serve on the Convention planning team. 
as the co-chairs of the opening and closing sessions. 
here we are 13 years later: 

we received several questions about what it was like to "work together" this week. 
i sometimes forget what an anomaly our relationship has been professionally. 
we met in grad school, and took our first full-time positions at the same institution. 
in the same department. 
doing the same job. 
our first year at Ohio State, we were Hall Directors in Baker West and Siebert Hall. 
so, while we lived in the same building, bern's commute each morning was a walk across a parking lot. 
and a few years later we were assigned to run both Baker East and Baker West when Anthony was an infant. 
i now work in the Center for the Study of Student Life and bern oversees First Year Experience and Orientation, so our roles as colleagues looks different now. 
but, yep, we are used to working together, and both appreciate the different strengths we bring to the table.  

anyway. ACPA. 
i was excited for this week for many reasons. 
getting to see familiar faces like this: 

and this:

and this: 

(Maura is basically a foot taller than me. bless her for pretending.)

and these: 

but, the thing that has kept me continually excited about working on the planning team was the closing session. 
ACPA brought Dr. Brené Brown in to speak. 
if you aren't familiar with her work, you should take the time to check it out. 
i have been reading and reflecting on her work since my friend Sus introduced me to her during an RA training session a few years back. 
i was thrilled to get to see Brené Brown speak live. 
because we were working on the logistics for her session, i was hopeful that i might get a chance to meet her. 
. . . until she walked in for her sound check, and i instantly got butterflies in my stomach and was very grateful that i was busy taping off chairs so i could collect myself. 
Adam Levine could have walked in at that moment and i might have felt more normal chatting it up with him. 
(bern teases me because i used to giggle when he came on screen during The Voice.)
i realized later that there were a lot more layers to meeting Brené
i have read her books, read stories about her life, and in reading her books, have come to significant points of insight and reflection on my own life. 
she represented a lot more to me than Adam's "you are cute and i like your songs" would have. 
the time came to find her green room and get her situated and i had the opportunity to be part of the process. 
we were able to sneak in a photo: 

and i love that Megan Rowe was able to catch this one that we took with the ACPA team: 

but photos and green rooms aside, i was thrilled to see her speak in person, and be truly vulnerable on that stage, and really engage with our delegates at the convention. 
part of her message revolves around a Theodore Roosevelt quote about the importance of "daring greatly."

bernie was wiped out after the convention, so i drove home from Indy to let him sleep. 
i spent some time reflecting on Brene's message, and the last year. 
applying for the Higher Education and Student Affairs PhD program at OSU this year was a big "daring greatly" moment for me. 
it is something i have wanted to do for quite some time, and applying as an "internal candidate" felt like a very public process. 
what if i didn't get in?
that was a very real question for me. 
i vividly recall bern asking me in the fall, "can i tell people you're applying?"
my mental/gut response was, "no. because then they will all know if i fail."
fortunately, i told him yes. 
and i told my friends, too. 
and i received SO much more love and support along the GRE/application/interview journey by saying, "i really want this, and it makes me feel six kinds of excited and nauseous, and generally squishy," than i would have by keeping it to myself. 
i even received a day-before-the-GRE support text, written to the tune of Les Mis' One Day More, from my friend Phil. (Now Dr. Badaszewski! Yay!)
it started "one day more, one more day until the GRE. . ." and went on from there.
(if you don't have musical theatre friends, you are missing out all kinds of ridiculousness.)

and, now that i have been admitted to the program (YAY!), i'm asking myself, what have i signed my family and i up for over the next several years?
am i being fair to bern? 
the boys? 
it's easy to spiral down this path, but right now, i am choosing to be grateful. 
for the opportunity.
and the journey ahead. 

looking forward, i have one more "daring greatly" project on the horizon. 
but that is for another post. . .