Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Most Important Band of Your College Years

This has been my favorite of all the All Songs Considered episodes.  I love how songs can instantly take you back....  So I started thinking about the most important bands of my college experience.  Since my college years were following around my punk rawk boyfriends, most of the music I listened to was far from mainstream.  But I thought I'd come up with the top ten popular songs that I feel defined my 4 years of college.

I clarify.  These were not my favorite.  These were just the most memorable popular songs I can remember.

10. Hoobastank - The Reason
9. Justin Timberlake - Cry Me a River
8. All-American Rejects - Swing Swing
7. Usher - My Boo
6. Blink 182 - I Miss You
5. Outcast - Hey Ya
4. Kelly Clarkson - Since You've Been Gone
3. Good Charlotte - Boys and Girls
2. Dashboard Confessionals - Screaming Infidelities
1. Jimmy Eat World - The Middle

Clearly not as cool as the narrator of All Songs Considered when on his first day as a radio DJ at his university he opened up the mail and saw the newly released single Smells Like Teen Spirit....

But then again.  Nothing can compete with that.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Living Life to its Fullest

What does that mean?  Clearly it means something completely different to everyone.  Today I've been thinking about what that means to me.  Because I think that's what matters most.  That we have evaluated it for ourselves and are doing what is "the fullest" for us.

I was thinking about this because I felt like I was slapped in the face as I read this statement, "Hey you're done with college!  Now go watch Netflix til your eyes bleed!"  Am I guilty of this?  Is this what my life has become???

I was struck even harder today as I went to a funeral of one of Jason's friend.  Over and over and over again I kept hearing, "He lived life to the fullest"  If you know his story (you can learn more about it here, here, or here) its apparent why this was on repeat throughout the funeral.

I mean this guy really lived.  He was epic.

It was inspiring.

But then it was a downer.

Who am I?  Where am I going?  What am I doing?  If I died tomorrow what would Buzzfeed say about me and why would people want to know me?

 It made me reevaluate my life.  Because you see, how many times do I spend a night watching hour after hour of Netflix?  Am I just wasting my life away???

As I stated previously, I think pondering this topic is so important for all of us.  The questions, Why am I doing what I am doing?  What am I fighting for?  Why is the world a better place because I'm in it?

Of course each of us should and do answer these questions completely differently.  But what I got out of this inspiring funeral today is the importance of having an answer.  The motto has changed from "Go with Eric" to "Live like Eric"  Figure out your meaning, your purpose, and give your heart and soul to it.

P.S. He is on the next season of Bachelorette that starts May 19th... that's going to  be interesting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


This weeks episode this This American Life was titled, "No Coincidence, No Story!"  Pretty much it was just an hour straight of stories of peoples coincidences.  It's crazy the type of coincidences that exist in the world but what is even more interesting to me, is how we all think our coincidences are way cooler than anyone else's.  (A portion of the episode was on that.)  I was bummed that I hadn't heard about the topic before they aired the episode so I could have shared my coincidences with them..... but alas, thank goodness I have this blog.

My favorite coincidence:

After Jason and I had been dating for a while we of course talked about our past.  How about this for coincidences....

Summer 2005: I had just finished my student teaching/graduated from college.  I was completely devastated that I have not gotten the job that I thought I wanted.  I was completely aimless.  My sister and her husband just received their first assignment with the Navy at Camp Pendleton.  They were moving into a home in Fallbrook, near the base.  My mom handed me enough money to survive for two weeks and told me to go down with my sister to see if I should try and get a job down there.  Those two Sundays that I was staying with my sister I went to the singles ward in Vista.... the same singles ward Jason was in.

Summer 2007: After finishing my first year of teaching at Paradigm High School, I was convinced that I should try and sell pest control in Atlanta, Georgia.  If you haven't heard this hysterical story before.... I spent first day sitting on a curb crying.... and clearly realized I wasn't made out to be a door-to-door salesman.  Clueless about what to do with the rest of my summer I called my sister who had just moved to Annapolis, Maryland.  She said I should come stay with her.  I spent many Sundays at the singles ward in D.C. Jason was convinced to sell alarm systems that summer in..... Atlanta, Georgia.  After 2 weeks he realized he was not a door-to-door salesman so he became a insulation technician for the company and was transferred to Northern Virginia.... he spent his Sundays going to the singles ward in D.C.

Fall 2008: I started teaching at a new school.  Everyday I was in charge of watching 200 rowdy stinky junior high boys play dodge ball.  It was insane!  I begged the principal to send someone else down to the gym to help me.  This aide came down and helped me.   Every day she would tell me about this boy.... this guy that raced dirt bikes.... that she was totally smitten by.  His name of course I had completely forgotten....

Spring 2012: My student said there was a guy that I had to meet....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Soul Mates

I know when I realized.  It should have been sooner.  It should have been obvious.  But it wasn't until I discovered my personality, ENFP, that I understood why I am the way I am.  

I know I know, so many people think this generalized personality thing is hogwash.  I don't understand it but I do understand that people think that.  But I have yet to find anyone who still thinks it's hogwash after they start to cover themselves with a blanket or crawl into the fetal position as someone reads out loud their inner thoughts, their inner feelings, their reason to live in such plain English they didn't think it was possible.  When they feel completely vulnerable and exposed...They don't think it's hogwash after that.....

But anyway, back to me.  

Maybe it was Anne of Green Gables that did it to me.  Maybe it was that stupid sentimental movie that changed the course of my life and my personality forever.  I don't know.  But I guess I can't complain.

Because you see, my life revolves around one thing and one thing only.  My desire to be understood.  Out of this desire grows my love to understand others.  Not see them just for their strengths but to truly understand everything about them.  And, to me, at that point is where love comes.  

So as young as I can remember all I have wanted was one person, one Diana Berry, to share myself with.  Now I get it.  That sounds kinda creepy.  Share myself?  One kindred spirit.  One bosom buddy.  One person that understands my strengths and weaknesses so well but loves me despite both.

I've been lucky.  I've had many such soul mates in my life.  But sadly most have come and gone.  And if you are a long time reader you might remember my post about heaven years ago, it was in that post that I talked about how I can't wait to get to heaven, to a place where we can all be soul mates again.  

Because that's the crappy thing about soul mates.  There are a few rules associated.  And sadly the most important rule.  You have to live by each other.  I mean don't get me wrong, you can try to keep up communication with a soul mates from a distance.... but it's not the same.  It's not the same as when Anne waves the white flag and Diana sees it from her window and comes running.  Physical location matters.

I've been desperate need of a soul mate recently.  

And luckily for me, my dearest, truest soul mate of my life, she came running.

I've often tried to write about our relationship, Erica and I.  It's so difficult to do.  As so often I say, it is so difficult to try and put into words something so precious to me.  I'm actually probably more protective of our relationship and in turn of Erica than I am anyone else in my life.  

Because you see, I feel so lucky.  Unlike me, who loves opening up to the world, loves to try and have people understand ALL of me, Erica is the opposite.  She keeps to herself, minds her own business, and so most people even those around her don't really know her.  I don't know how I got so lucky but I feel it has been one of the most important blessings in my life, becoming one of the handful of people that Erica has let it. 

I hesitate to say much more about her because like I said she is private and I try and respect that. So it's hard to describe a relationship without the details of the other half. 

Her soul is deep, old, and most important for me.... Absolutely beautiful. I'm positive my firey desire to fight and crusade to for the world was lit by her. One of my favorite memories of her was in a cabin in Yellowstone almost 13 years ago. We watched the movie The Power of One. At 17, her passion and emotion memorized me and inspired me to feel that kind of passion. 

Anyone who's known me since those years know the rollercoaster of me trying to be her, dress like her, sing like her(she has the most beautiful voice), and even date like her. (Yes I dated 2 of her exs...) that's how much I admired her. But in the end clearly I realized I'm not her. My favorite moment was when my older brother watching me trying to be her said, "Kristin. You need to wear pink." 

But it's because of her that I think I really found myself. 

So yes, for my Spring Break I went to San Francisco... But really I went to be with my closest, dearest friend. 

It was hilarious. For the first 48 hours we were together it was one giant conversation where neither of us could remember the beginning or the end. How one topic emerged as another faded just seamlessly continued for 2 straight days. No walls, no judgement, so refreshing. 

It's interesting how life works. What makes each of us tick. Why letting someone in so close that they understand me is so important to me.... Where to someone else the idea of opening up that much is a nightmare. 

But that's why personality tests are so fun. They teach, they explain, they reveal what we live for. And I'm just so grateful for my friend who allows me in to her magical world and through her I feel more of who I am supposed to be. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just in case I am not the last one on the planet.....

that didn't know how amazing spaghetti squash is!  I am in love.  Like dreaming about in love.  I didn't know a vegetable could be so amazing. You see... I stopped eating pasta like... 10 years ago?  I decided I get to pick and choose what calories I want to eat.  Pasta was not on my list.  Anyway.  Until last week when I finally got around to trying spaghetti squash.  I was very nervous.  But it is unreal delicious.   I get to eat pasta dishes again!  I decided to be really ambitious and make Roasted Balsamic Vegetable Pasta Sauce.  It was all amazing!  (Jason ate all of it.... now whether he was just trying to be super nice and supportive is yet to be determined.)  Either way, we ate straight vegetables for dinner tonight.  I even forgot to put the shaved parmesan on it so it was 100% veggies.  And the best news?  I didn't have to guilty about as much dessert as I wanted!


Monday, April 14, 2014

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

First thing when we got to San Francisco I knew I needed to meet up with Niki.  It was wonderful seeing her and she gave us some great suggestions on what to do while we were there.  Oh and the pizza was pretty fantastic!
 Yes, they give you scissors to cut your pizza!

I was a little sketched out by the neighborhood we were staying in because of our walk from Union Square to Nob Hill.... so I wasn't sure I really wanted to run outside the next morning.  But of course the next morning after talking to the girl at the front desk(my favorite way to find out where I should run in a new city) I took off for a glorious run.  Well... minus all the hills.

 I wish you could really tell the hills..... just believe me.  I had no idea how many hills were in San Francisco....

When Erica and I went out we decided to first "shop" around in Chinatown and then in Union Square

My "authentic" fortune cookie. 
(I put it in quotation marks because from a recent podcast I learned that fortune cookies aren't even Chinese...
 they were first created in San Francisco more than a hundred years ago)

We then went to explore through Golden Gate State Park
 The Conservatory of Flowers
 I am a sucker for poppies....

 The Japanese Tea Garden

I think what amazed me the most about the Golden Gate Park was how HUGE it was.  After we had concluded that this is where all fairies comes from.... we decided it was time to eat lunch.  I searched on Yelp and it suggested with 4 1/2 stars a Deli.... So we walked the half mile to the most delicious deli ever.

Trust them.  It's true.  Amazing.  Cranberry Turkey Sandwich was amazing.

Next we walked over to Haight Street.... I was expecting more real hippies.... but it was fun.  Someday I'll start going shoeless.... maybe stop washing my hair.... but until then....

 Next we headed back to the Wharf and Piers for a delicious dinner of chocolate!

 I've had these sundaes many times.... 
(Chicago, Disneyland, and now the official real stuff)
Honestly.... not really anything that special, but when in Rome....

Then we went on a romantical sunset sailing trip around the bay.... it was pretty spectacular minus the wind and the cold....(luckily they provided coats!)

Phew.................. that was a long day.

The next morning I got up and knew I needed to conquer Lombard Street.  Because I got there so early (it was a couple blocks from our apartment) I had the whole hill to myself, so despite the signs saying no walking on the street, I ran up and down the hill.  (Only once because I still had Russian Hill and Nob Hill and whatever ginormous hill you want to call the hill right before the wharf to climb up and down....  but this time I headed the other direction and it was just as beautiful.
 After my run, we decided to hit the town.... on a bike.  Of course we had to first get our pictures with the cable cars...
 So we started on this bike trek.... first I wish I could describe the employees of the Bike Shop we went to.  It really was like they were all on drugs.... or (for those Divergent fans out there) like they had been shot with something and someone was controlling their every action.  It was insane and creepy and downright annoying.  A guy about ripped my head off when I asked if it was possible for me not to wear a helmet.  (I always wear a helmet when I am road biking, but seriously??? Riding a cruiser on a bike path across the bridge?) Anyway, we were thrilled to get out of there and be on our way.

 P.S. Erica would probably want me to tell you, she was FREEZING on the trip (being from Montana these days she thought it 70 degrees would mean it was warm... so she didn't bring much of a jacket)  She learned  the hard way that 70 degrees with the humidity and the wind really means 35.... So she bought her first ever tourist sweatshirt.  I was so proud :)
 Here is the map I created of where we went.  If it looks like a long ways...... that's because it was.  A very long ways...... I tell ya, I think Erica and I burnt way more calories than we consumed this trip..... even if we had two desserts a day!

We stopped for lunch in the darling sailing community of Sausalito.  It reminded me a lot of the Italian coast..... I am such a sucker for palm trees, sunshine, sail boats, and cute mainstreets.... someday... someday.

The most expensive $4 can of diet Coke I've ever actually bought....
Even DISNEYLAND doesn't charge that much!

 Man oh man that Sea Salt Carmel Ice Cream with a Sprinkle Cone was delicious.

At the end of our ride we met Fernando, a Spanish engineer that lives in Hong Kong and has traveled the world more than anyone I've ever met.  It was impressive.

But of course my favorite part of the story was how he tried to lie to me and tell me he is a bull fighter because that's what he said most Americans think Spaniards do.... if they know where Spain is.  He said often times he has to tell Americans Spain is in Europe not South America..... Wow.  

Later that night we had dinner at a fancy Seafood restaurant (but at that point, sun/windburned and wiped out) I was not going to take another picture............ but we went with my darling old roommate/friend Kennan and her husband who is currently doing his last medical rotation in the trauma unit of an inner city Oakland hospital.  The stories he had to tell..... 

The next morning, at 3:30 in the morning, we hopped on our shuttle back to our plane....  The only reason to keep our eyes open.... was when I saw this guy walk by, sit by us, get on our plane, tap me on the shoulder, and talk to me.  Yes, my life is complete.

Bottom line.  This trip was a dream.  Why?  Because I got 72 hours of uninterrupted time with my best friend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Smell of Summer

Maybe I should rename this blog, "Kristin's venue to explore her feelings."  Because often times that's what I feel this is.  (Although clearly when there are any really interesting feelings going on, I don't post it..... so sorry, how boring for you.)

But tonight I started to feel it.  Maybe it's because the window is open as I'm going to bed.... or maybe it's because the trees are blooming, the sun has been shining, and the world is happy again..... the dark looming feeling that summer is coming.

Crazy.  I know.  I am a teacher.  We live for summer. (Fall break, Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break, the two Monday holidays in winter, and of course Spring Break as well)  But we love summer.  Except.  It's not always true.  I hate the end of school.  Every year I hate it.  I've always hated it.  I hate goodbyes.  (We've talked about how I will sneak away rather than having to deal with awkward goodbyes, yes I am so so so strange like that)  (I'm sure some people are probably offended.... until they know me well enough that I really am just strange like that)

I hate that now that I love these kids.  Now that they love me.  They leave.  Sure they say they'll come and visit.  Sure they actually do.  But for the most part I know what they will quickly realize the first time they come back.  It is never the same.  So every time I feel summer coming my heart just starts to ache.  These last 6 weeks (who's counting?) are hands down my favorite time of the year.  But every time without fail I feel like I should be leaving with them.  Growing up, changing.  Never to return again. But then I realize I am stuck.  I don't get to grow up, change.  I am in NeverNeverLand just waiting for the next group of Lost Boys to come along for me to train.  I give my heart and soul to them every year.  And every time I get a new group the same feelings come.  Every time I feel like it won't be the same.  Every time I feel like I won't love them as much.  But 8 months later I feel the same ache I did last April/May.  The same longing to move on with them.  To help them in the next stage.  Guide them even further into high school and who knows even college.  I dream of helping these kids for years to come... But then I remember..... I am still stuck in the junior high.  Dealing with the same junior high drama..... forever.  And so the vicious cycle continues.  The poor life and heart of a junior high teacher.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nothing at the End of the Rainbow.

The other day I listened to a podcast titled, "Cry Baby Cry: Songs that make us Weep."  I know.... who volenteerily listens to such a podcast.  But we all know I am a sucker for emotion and tears..... the other day I even took a quiz on Buzzfeed tittled, "Will you Ever Give Up Listening to Emo?" The results:


So yeah, like I said, I'm a suck for emo.  So I loved listening to this podcast.  It was people just telling heart-wrenching stories and the song that goes with it.

But there was one song in particular that really got me thinking.  It was actually the song one of the narrators brought up.  He said it was the most depressing songs he had ever heard.  It was written by a dad staring into his new born daughters crib.  The chorus of the song, "There is nothing at the end of the rainbow."  The narrator of the podcast said, "When I heard this song... I thought is was the saddest view of life that any human being could ever hold." At first I agreed with the narrator.  I might have even shed a tear on the stairmaster as I listened to the song while climbing stair after stair.  (Thank goodness the stairmaster makes me sweat more than anything other form of exercise so the tears just mixed with sweat so I didn't make a scene.)  Thinking there is nothing at the end of the rainbow is depressing!  The thought that there is nothing to look forward to.  Nothing to be searching or striving for.  But I look at my life and can see that waiting to be content/ happy is a bad way to live.

Because then I started thinking of all the times I hear teenagers say, "I can't wait until....
I turn 16.
can date.
can drive.
go to high school.
have my own money.
don't have to follow rules.
leave high school.

Every time I hear one of these "can't wait" statements I smile.  If only they knew.... how the rest of their lives they will dream of the time with so little responsibility, worries, and fun.  But of course like always I know, "Advice is a form of of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth."  In other words, advice is given to try and make us feel better about our past and rarely taken by anyone.... so when I hear teenagers say it, I just smile.

But I thought about what wonderful advice "There is nothing at the end of the rainbow" is.  We can always find something to wait for.... something that would make life significantly better.  But it seems more often than not, when that thing comes and goes life is exactly the same.

I especially thought of this concept this winter when finally after 15 years of dreaming about, worrying about, starving myself over, and working my butt off I got to my "ideal" body.  5 years ago I would have done anything, given anything, paid anything to get to this ideal.  It was a goal or a dream so unattainable in my mind that I didn't think there was chance in the world I would ever get to the end of this rainbow.  Then there I was standing on the scale in disbelief.  At 5'9 I weighted 133, 16.5% body fat, could easily run 10 miles at a 7:15 pace, hold a plank for 3+ minutes, and do 50 boy push ups in one setting.  I had arrived.

But the most depressing thing happened.  Over Christmas break Jason and I took a picture in front of a beautiful swimming pool/water fountain in our swimming suits.  My thighs were still big, my stomach still stuck out (despite an almost perfectly defined stomach), and so in turn I still edited out most of my body when posting the picture.

I had ached for this moment for years.... and I still wasn't content.  I realized then and there that I really needed to change my perspective.  (I have cut back my running due to my aching hips, stopped teaching PE so I don't do as many pushups or planks, and have gained 5 pounds)

It hit me... no end of a rainbow will bring me ultimate happiness.  I'm afraid saying that will suggest there is no value to goals.  Clearly that is not what I am suggesting.  I am suggesting that waiting to be happy or content for something to happen means we miss out on the rainbow.  We forget or miss out on how beautiful rainbows can be!

It was almost perfect that as I was typing up my thoughts on this concept Elder Uchtdorf started talking,
"How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God for the rain."

So in honor of this podcast that got the wheels in my head turning.  Here are the top 10 songs that make me weep....

(If you click on the title it will go to the youtube video)

10. Everywhere

9. Age Six Racer

8. Round Here

7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

6. The Dance

5. How's it Going to Be

4. Homeward Bound

3. Unchained Melody

2. Time in a Bottle

1. Somewhere over the Rainbow

I'd love to hear what songs make you weep.... and don't worry there is also a podcast on happy songs.  After I listen to that one I'll probably be creating another post about it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Needless to say, Omaha was not on my top 10..... top 20.... or even top 100 cities around the country that I am dying to return to.  I was actually really bummed.  But such is life.

I went to a teaching conference.  How to help the bottom 5% is what this conference should have been called.  But rather than go into everything that I see wrong with our education system and particularly what's wrong with the whole conference... I will talk about the good parts.

I worked out every morning before the conference, but luckily we got out at 3 pm so I hit the streets/running trails after the conference ended.

The night we got there the teachers wanted to go to a Steak House.  I think they were blown away by the prices.... Luckily I had eaten Cafe Rio in the SLC airport on my layover for LA so I was perfectly happy with the $3.50 I spent on sweet potato fries...

After the conference one day I went for a run around the city.... sure it was March but I can see that during the summer this would be a beautiful place!

 At the end of my run I ran through "downtown" Omaha.  It was almost kinda creepy because there were big buildings everywhere but hardly any people.  I almost felt like I was in one of those post apocalyptic books? (Maybe I've just read too many of those....)

So there was this cute little Main Street "Old Downtown" area.  I wish I could describe how weird it was.  I wish I could figure out words....  

Here was a used book store that I feel like is more like where all books go to die.  It kinda made me sad.  I get it.  Books waste paper, electronic is so much easier.... but I feel like our future is dependent on people reading these books...... I know weird, it's pathetic it made me so sad.  

I was really curious to see what I would
find in these...

 But the perfect example of how bizzarre downtown Omaha was is this "Candy" store I walked into.

It started almost looking like a normal candy store.... just you know, 35 years behind the times..... There was one teenage boy working the front registar.  I made some comment about how I love candy stores.... He laughed, "Oh you'll find more than candy here..."  Almost kinda creepy...
 but it didn't end!  It kept going and going and going...... there was a use clothing section.
 A old Ice Cream Parlor.....
A wall of pens.....
Then there was an old arcade room full to the brim with every old game you can imagine.
Then a HUGE area full of old "antiques".  Coke bottles, suit cases, books, baseball cards, dolls, oh lots of dolls, paintings, furniture...
I kept walking and walking and there was room after room, narrow hallway after narrow hallway.  I started to feel like I was in a "circus" funmaze.
I started to get creeped out.  This store seemed as large as a Walmart.  With junk every where that smelt old and used...... but the reason I was so creeped out.  I didn't see a SINGLE person in the entire store until I turned a corner of the maze and found her.
Just working away dipping oreos in chocolate......... for who? no one knows.  Finally I couldn't take it any more.  I stopped taking pictures and just did everything I could do to get out of that place!  Finally I found the front and the store, what a relief.... I saw that same kid and said, "You weren't kidding. This is definitely more than a candy store..."
 And here is what it looked like outside.
 So I kept talking... down the cute little old cobble stone streets of Omaha.
 Later that night I went to dinner by myself.  I asked the Valet guy at our hotel where he would recommend.  He suggested M's Pub.  I had the most delicious pizza like thing with a super thin crisp crust they called a lahvosh.  I guess it's Armenian?
 But the dessert was even better.... It was a peachy flavored cake with a ricotta cheese with vanilla bean gelato.  Amazing.

Omaha.... I wouldn't have picked you.... I will be fine if I never return to visit you.... but you did provide quite the entertaining trip.