Thursday, July 30, 2009

Far and Away: Goodbye to a Roommate

Before I knew Michelle as a roommate, I knew her as half of a pair of Irish girls. I remember the Sunday she and Sandra introduced themselves in church. I thought, "Whew! At least I have a boyfriend! I would not want to be in the dating pool right now. Those girls are beautiful, and they have Irish accents!"
"Hi, I'm Sandra O'Conn-er from Dooblin."
"And I'm Michelle Law-ler from Lim'rick."

No, there was no hope for any girl in our ward to shine while those two were here.

There was one reason I was delighted to have them here in Georgia, though, and that was for study. I wanted to learn the Irish accent and imitate it, as I am wont to do with any speech different from mine. Sadly, I missed out on both of their talks in church! How was I ever going to learn their accents? We weren't really friends, and I had no intention of introducing myself to them . . . They were beautiful and Irish! So intimidating!

Until one day, I found a weak spot. I had prepared a fruit dip of marshmallow fluff and cream cheese for Linger Longer (singles potluck) one Sunday in early Autumn. After most people left, I grabbed my nearly-empty bowl of dip and headed for the door. As I was leaving, I ran into "The Irish Girls," as they were called, and Sandra said, "Oh, you're the one who made that dip? It's gorgeous!" I was amazed that she described food as gorgeous, and she and Michelle were amazed that there was such a thing as marshmallow "fluhf."

We became acquaintances after that -- I invited them to my Halloween party and other gatherings, and we'd say hi in church. It wasn't until my Ugly Sweater Christmas Party, however, that we were actually able to talk much and become friends. It was after that party that we stayed up late and played Phase 10. That was the night Sandra cheated at cards, and Michelle's head kind of floated off her head because she wasn't interested in cards at all. We stayed up late with a few other friends, talking and laughing. It's one of my best Atlanta memories.

The next Spring I needed a roommate, and since Sandra was moving back to Ireland, Michelle needed a roommate, too. By this time, we knew each other fairly well, so after Michelle's summer holidays, she moved into my apartment. We quickly learned that we liked to talk. And talk. And talk.

The funny thing is that Michelle and I didn't actually spend much time together during the day. We are both super-busy almost all the time, and Michelle goes on more dates than anyone I've ever seen! Still, those late-night chats were great. We had our share of arguments and disagreements, but I consider those hours well-spent. Mostly we'd philosophize and talk about guys and girls and who was currently dating. We'd talk about family and Ireland and all kinds of things. I know I will miss those hours-long discussions that stretched into the early-morning hours.

Michelle's in Utah now, and I miss her. This apartment is somewhat depressing without another person to fill the space. For now, I will have to be content with the things Michelle gave me while she lived here: practice at honing my Irish accent, the knowledge that everything sounds truer and wiser in Irish, and the irrefutable fact that Ireland is better than America.

Also, Michelle probably unknowingly taught me a handful of Irish phrases:
  • All over the shop. "She's all over the shop!" This is my favorite phrase. It could mean anything from "He's crazy" to "I'm tired and completely out of it" to "That person's completely hyper."
  • Gone off. "That milk has gone off." Food that is spoiled.
  • Knacker. "He's a knacker." A knacker could be a jerk or an idiot.
  • Lovely. "Ah, she's loov-ly." What you say about someone you like a lot; someone who is an all-around good person.
  • PMT. Premenstrual tension. Apparently, PMS is not used at all.
  • Sofa and cushions. "That sofa comes with two cushions." When referring to a couch, or sofa, the pillows that come with it are called cushions.

That's all I can think of for now. I did come up with a couple others, but when I looked them up for spelling online, I realized that they were indeed cuss words, though Michelle assured me otherwise . . . :)

Thing I'm thankful for: a happy, friendly roommate who shared a bit of her spirit with me. I love you, Michelle!

Monday, July 20, 2009

We Got Soaked Together, Or The Unifying Power of Adversity

I know, I know -- the title of this post is a mess, but I just couldn't come up with anything else . . . First -- let me give thanks for the grateful and sympathetic words that my last "Thing I'm thankful for" elicited. I realize now that the allusion to my near car accident could have been a little terrifying. I assure everyone that Carrie, Nikki, Andrea, and I are all safe and sound. The mishap had something to do with a combination of speed, water on the road, and the angle of the exit ramp . . . At any rate, the car is okay, and we're all okay. Those metal guard posts are strong little suckers.

And now for my serious post on an experience in Nashville:

On Independence Day, we walked through downtown Nashville, headed for the river bank, where the city displayed its fireworks. We were late, though; the fireworks had already started. So we watched from the street. I think I said it before, but I'll say it again: Those fireworks were spectacular. So spectacular, in fact, that when it started sprinkling, no one moved. I don't think anyone anticipated that the rain was soon going to pour, so when it did, there was really nothing to be done except continue to watch the show. The oddest thing happened, though: When the rain splattered on our upturned faces, the crowd started clapping and cheering. Later, when the rain really started coming down, we tried to take shelter near some sidewalk shops. I had a short, but friendly conversation with a woman standing next to me. When the grand finale boomed to a close, I quickly walked alongside Carrie and hundreds of other people through ankle-high puddles. I laughed with a few people on the way. In the hotel, I made the trek up 13 flights of stairs because the elevators were slow, and most of the lodgers were, like me, coming in from the rain, eager to go to their rooms and change into warm, dry clothes. On the 13th floor, when I could go no farther, I ditched Nikki and joined a fellow out-of-shape person to look for the nearest (hopefully less-crowded) elevator.

So what's the point of my story? That although I knew that trials make you stronger and hardships bring people together, I didn't really know it. Sure, it was a fireworks show, and all we got was wet, but for whatever reason, I understood the unifying power of adversity in those moments of pouring rainfall. I could endure the cool rain and mascara in my eyes, if other people could. I could laugh with my neighbor who was laughing at me, and we could both laugh at our pitiful situation.

Later that night, when my girlfriends lay asleep and I wandered the hotel lobby alone, I thought about other times when I felt closest to others. I felt close to my siblings when we moved to Georgia. For a while, I hated Georgia and the people in it, and I had no friends. Apparently, my siblings didn't have any or many friends, either, because we all hung out together. On school nights, I can remember watching "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown" with them.

When my heart was first broken, a friend helped me through it, and we bonded over our high school angst. It seems silly now, but our friendship has never been as strong since, and I know we needed each other during that time.

Now I'm single and sometimes lonely. The economy stinks, and people are losing their jobs and homes. There are people who don't eat and people who don't ever have cover from the rain. But I am grateful for the unity that comes from our wretched circumstances. I'm amazed that somehow it works -- that trials and loneliness and hunger and sadness bring people together.

In a Christian sense, such times of difficulty are times when people are supposed to call on God. I believe that's true, and I believe it helps. Yet I think an even greater power that sustains us through difficulties is the close friendship of others or help from a stranger. I don't quite know how it helps exactly, but I know it does. And I'm thankful for that.

Other thing I'm thankful for: wonderfully cool-ish weather in July. Sometimes Georgia is a good place to be. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009


Okay, okay! Here are the pictures from Nashville! Finally! Sheesh!

I'll write a few other stories related to the trip later, but for now, here's a photo essay of the July 4th trip. Enjoy!


Thing I'm thankful for: living! I almost got in a wreck on the way home from this trip! I was pretty shaken up for a while after that. The only thing that stopped my car from rolling down a big hill was one of those metal guard posts . . . Who knew they were so strong?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Strange Things in Nashville

I guess I should use my Twitter account to give everyone the latest updates of my adventures in Nashville, but then I feel like I'm leaving my blog out in the cold! So here's an interesting story for my first day in Tennessee (pictures to come . . .):

My girlfriends Carrie, Nikki, and Andrea and I went to find some live music late tonight. Andrea wanted some country pop/rock, which I'm not really into, but most of the time, live music is good music. Still, I was feeling pretty unfulfilled and hungry, so after we left that place at 10:30 or so, we looked for a restaurant that was open. We found a good barbeque place, and to my delight, there was a band! That played bluesy music and old jam-band country! Yay!

We were having a good time, when three (obviously drunk) guys (who were probably in their late 30s) sat at the table next to us. They looked in our direction almost as soon as they sat down . . . One guy had something awkward sticking out of the tip of his right middle finger, which kind of grossed Nikki and me out. So we decided not to think about it.

Turns out, we did have to think about it. Awkward finger guy came over to our table, pulled up a chair, and began to make small talk. Then again, maybe the small talk wasn't so small. Here's the gist of the conversation:

Awkward finger guy: Hi! Do any of you girls have tattoos?
Carrie, Nikki, Andrea, and me: Nope.
AFG: Really? Not even the kind on your lower back?
Carrie, Nikki, Andrea, and me: Nope.*
AFG: Hm. That's weird. No tramp stamps? It seems like you'd all have tattoos, especially you (looking in Nikki's direction).**

(At this point, AFG proceeds to describe one of his tattoos, which Andrea later explains is a euphemism for something entirely inappropriate.)

Carrie, Nikki, Andrea, and me: silent.
AFG: How old are you?
Sara: 27.
Nikki: Almost 25.
Carrie: 30.
Andrea: 29.
AFG: Wow -- I feel young! I thought you'd all be younger!

(There were small exchanges about how we were visiting from Atlanta and about how Carrie wouldn't tell the guy which hotel we were staying at. There was also a lot of awkward silence.)

AFG: You all looked like you were in a serious conversation. You all need to smile more. Especially you (looking in Nikki's direction). Why are you so sad? Did your cat die?
Nikki: Yes. Yes, it did.**

During this whole event, our blessed waiter gave us our checks, and at this point, he had brought our cards and receipts back. His swiftness was astonishing. I think he realized we were being patronized. So we got out of there very quickly; I think I mumbled "Have a good night."

We laughed on the way back to our hotel, and I thought about how it would make for a good story, at least. Still, one wonders why those guys would've wanted to hit on us, anyway. We were clean, modestly-dressed girls who kept to ourselves. Did we really look like we wanted to interact with guys who were clearly drunk and clearly looking for "a good time?" Weird.

*It was at this point that I realized there were pins sticking out of his finger, just above his fingernail. There was some kind of blood blister or something going on there . . . Maybe he broke his finger? At any rate, it was disgusting. And he slightly touched Nikki's arm with the affected finger at one point. Gross.
**Nikki does not look like she would have a tattoo.
***No, it did not. She doesn't even have a cat.

Thing I'm thankful for: This is probably wrong of me, but I'm thankful that Awkward Finger Guy singled Nikki out and not me. I'm sorry I didn't rescue her from the conversation more often, but I was glad I wasn't sitting nearest to him. Also, I'm thankful to have guys around at times like these . . . They offer a certain amount of intimidation and thus, protection. It's nice.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Braves Win! Braves Win!

Something I learned tonight is that baseball games are a lot of fun, when the team you're rooting for wins! :)

I haven't been to many Braves games -- probably only a dozen. I've only seen them win twice, though . . . One of those times was tonight! They played the Phillies and won for the third game this week! There were some excellent plays -- the kind that get you out of your seat and screaming! It was such a fun game!

Afterward, there were fireworks. Normally, Publix sponsors Braves fireworks on Fridays, but since Independence Day is this weekend and the Braves don't play this Friday, they displayed the fireworks tonight! Songs that have to do with America were playing in the background, so that was kinda fun . . . Mostly, though, the Braves fireworks are just really incredible. They're actually better than any of the Atlanta fireworks I've ever seen. Go Braves!

All in all, it was a wonderful night -- one that my friends and I wrapped up with a late-night trip to Waffle House. I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures to document the events!

Ahhh, nights like this are hard to beat!

But this weekend, I'm going to Nashville, Tennessee . . . We'll see what adventures I am involved in there!

Happy 4th of July, everybody!

Thing I'm thankful for: storage space on a computer. I'm running out of mine!

Addiction, Part 2

As a follow-up to Addiction, I am reporting on Yogli Mogli.
Before I give you my final opinion, here are some points:
  1. There are at least 10 different frozen yogurt flavors: strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, Mounds, white chocolate macademia, two kinds of vanilla, and who knows what else!
  2. It's not super-easy to sample all of the flavors, and there are no sample spoons.
  3. The trash can isn't readily available when you're ready to throw away your sample cup.
  4. It's not immediately clear that you're charged for the yogurt by weight.
  5. The nutrition information is not readily available.
  6. The yogurt isn't 100% fat free.
  7. The tile work in the store is delightful.
  8. The outside seating is pleasant.
  9. It's self-serve yogurt.

Number 9 could be considered in a favorable light, but I submit that part of going to a store is so that people do the work for you, especially when it's not clear what you're supposed to do. I had heard by word of mouth that Yogli Mogli charges by weight, but if I hadn't, I would've been confused for a minute or two.

So what's a minute or two, right? Wrong! It just makes for a bad user experience, as does the missing nutrition information and seemingly non-existent trash cans when you want to throw your sample cup away. These are not big deals in and of themselves, but together, they negatively affect the user experience.

The bottom line is that I just didn't like the yogurt. It was more creamy than I wanted it to be; it tasted very much like ice cream. I prefer the non-fat, icy texture of Yoforia's yogurt. Plus, they only give you four flavors to choose from -- all delicious, but not overwhelming.

Apart from the tiled wall and pleasant outside seating, I was not impressed. To be fair, I might've been impressed had I not tried Yoforia first. But as far as frozen yogurt goes, I think Yoforia blows Yogli Mogli out of the water! Sorry, Yogli Mogli. :(

Thing I'm thankful for: getting off work early!

Sweat Stains

Yes, sweat stains. Everyone has them . . . I happen to get them a lot because I sweat a lot. Unfortunately, I go through a lot of white t-shirts because of it.

Thankfully, my good friend Lisa told me how to remedy the problem: apply a powder detergent paste to the stains. So basically, you add just a bit of water to some dry laundry detergent to make a soupy paste. Then apply the paste to the stain! Lisa says you don't have to let it sit, but I haven't tried that yet. I let the paste dry on my shirt and then put it into the wash. And voila! It's like new again!

And guess what? It even works on old stains! Yay!

Thing I'm thankful for: new friends