Monday, October 31, 2011

The hard part

On Friday, I was emailing with a friend about community. I made the comment that community is always changing, it's just obvious when you move to a new place to start over. But I promised, you find new community and settle into your place.

But I glossed over the hard part, and I was quickly reminded of it that night. There was an event at the big church in town for 20-somethings on Friday night. This is the first event like that I had heard about there, so I knew I needed to take advantage of it and go.

What I forgot about is that I would have to walk into a room of 25 people I didn't know and mingle. It felt like everybody knew each other, and there was an "in" crowd. I did meet a couple of people, but it was one of those moments where you feel lonely in a crowd of people. And all I wanted to do was go back to Virginia and enjoy a fun Friday night with my group of friends there.

But I remembered that in Virginia I had walked into similar situations. I ended up at a pool party where I knew just a few people and felt like an outsider. But that's where I met Megan. She got my number and started inviting me over to try her cakes or to have dinner with her and became a close friend.  

And one Sunday I was sitting by myself in Sunday School, and a girl named Katherine sat down beside me and ended up inviting me to her Bible study. She became one of my best friends, and that Bible study was my community there.

It was at that Bible study that I met Andrea who got my email address and became my social coordinator and another one of my best friends. I went to a dinner party at her house, and I had a lot of fun. I remember leaving her house and thinking, "I'm going to be OK here."

But it took walking into those hard situations to get to that point. It's easy to bury myself in work or sit on my couch on a Saturday night watching movies on Netflix. Putting myself out there and letting in new people is the hard part, but it's also the only way to create that new community.

But the good news is I've decided on a church. The people are really friendly, and I met a girl last week that invited me to her community group. I couldn't actually make it, but I got to have dinner with her and she invited me to her Halloween party. I went to the party on Saturday, and it was completely different from the Friday night party. I met people and enjoyed some great conversation. I left feeling like I'm on the right track to finding my community.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Phone calls

Have I said lately that I have a lot of fun at work? There's plenty of work and stress involved, but there is always something going on in the newsroom to keep me entertained. Thanks to this job I now know about the duck song  and Marcel the shell.

But here's the funny thing I have to share with you today.

The first thing: People will call newsrooms with all kinds of questions.

A sports editor I worked with used to complain about drunks calling from bars to settle bets, but I think what happened on Tuesday night takes the cake for newsroom calls.

A week or two ago, we ran a story about a disease affecting bats, called white-nose syndrome. On Tuesday we get a call from a guy asking what he should do about a bat that is in his house (not totally clear on where the bat was but the guy said it wouldn't go away). The student that took the call has a pretty loud voice so people in the newsroom heard his side of the conversation.

Here's what we heard:

"So you're calling because we ran a story about white-nose bats?"

"You have a bat that won't leave?"

"Did you call animal control?"

"There are probably bat removal services."

"I see, so you don't want to kill the bat, you just want to get rid of it."

"This is a newspaper, so we don't really deal with bats. Have you tried the conservation department?"

The whole conversation lasted about 10 minutes with each comment by the student followed by laughter in the newsroom. My stomach hurt when it was over. I am impressed the staffer was able to carry on the conversation without busting out laughing.

Is this what people did before the Internet? Call newsrooms looking for answers?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Over the SEC and the World Series

I finished watching Felicity on Netflix. I liked it up until the last five episodes dealing with time travel. It should have just ended with the graduation episode. Now I need a new show on Netflix to watch. Suggestions? Of course, in the meantime I'm in season three of Friday Night Lights. Big surprise. But I think this is the best season.

I read on Saturday that Mizzou is having the worst start since the 2002 season. Guess who was a freshman in 2002? Yep, I'm afraid it's bad for the team if I live in Columbia. The best seasons were when I was far away.

To make up for the fact Mizzou is having a rough season, the Cardinals are in the World Series. Can you sense my enthusiasm? Yeah, I'm over this whole postseason thing. I like when my students show up to class and don't spend entire shifts keeping up with the score of the game.

Speaking of Mizzou football, this whole Mizzou/SEC thing is going to give me gray hair. Obviously, it would be huge news for us, but the waiting for news to dribble out is incredibly frustrating. I'm trying not to have an opinion, as it seems like a done deal, but I have a hard time picturing Mizzou in the SEC. And now I find out that Mizzou would be in the SEC East. Does anyone in the NCAA own a map? But if I end up back on the East Coast next fall, maybe I'll be able to see some games, possibly in the other Columbia...

Halloween is quite possibly my least favorite holiday. I have a whole rant about Halloween, but I'll spare you. However, now that I live in a house, I realized I might actually have trick-or-treaters. But I'm curious, do kids even trick-or-treat anymore? And do they go out on a school night?

That's all my randomness for today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

College, round 2

There is something strange about coming back to my alma mater and working in the program I went through myself. I've thought a lot about what I would have done differently, but here's the thing, I don't want to undo my college experience. I just think I would do it again, differently, without erasing what I already did.

In this make-believe scenario of repeating college, I would take a few different classes and would change up the order of some of them. I would choose different editors, enter copy editing sooner, etc.

But one of the things I've wondered about is whether I would still choose to be in a sorority. I see a lot of students that aren't Greek and have more permanent friendships with fellow j-schoolers that has me wondering if I missed out on something. But anyway, at the parade this weekend, a friend talked about what we would have missed out on by not being Greek. And I knew I would have missed out on a lot. Homecoming wouldn't mean anything to me if I hadn't been in a sorority, and though there was a lot of work involved, I had a lot of fun being involved in all of it.

But that alone doesn't explain why I made that choice. On Monday night, I got to go to dinner at my old sorority house. There were so many things I had forgotten about that reminded me why I loved living in that house for four semesters.

Monday night is formal dinner, which means dressing up, but it also means being served dinner family style, rather than the buffet style. I forgot about the house boys that help serve, and it reminded me of the house boys we all had crushes on. I forgot that you sit at dinner until you are dismissed by the house mom. If you have to leave early, you have to ask to be excused. I sat at the house mom's table, and I got a kick out of watching the interaction as girls showed up late or needed to leave early.

I forgot about having dessert every night, which explains why my face is so chubby in the composite photos in the house. I forgot about having a house mom that really took care of all of us. There was a real adult around that provided some stability.

The house mom is the same woman that was there when I moved in. In fact her first year was my first year living in the house. She was talking about how needy my class and the class above me was during that first year. She said she always had people knocking on her door upset about something. But she said that doesn't happen very often anymore. I wanted to tell those girls they are missing out by not seeking her advice and relying on her. I don't think I ever brought any drama to her, but I know that once she wouldn't let me go to church because everything was icy. It was one of those moments when I knew my mom would have done the exact same thing.

So this week at dinner, I realized that it wasn't the pomping and parties and parades that made the sorority so important. It was the way it became my family when I was so far from home. There was plenty of drama in that house — that's what happens when 80 girls live under one roof — but I'm not sure I would have survived the stress of journalism school without that safe place to go home to. So it is definitely something I would repeat if given the chance.

I also realize why the transition to being on my own was so hard. I was really spoiled living in that house!

Monday, October 17, 2011

100th Homecoming

Remember this post from last year? I was dying to be at Homecoming at my alma mater. Well, this year I was here for the 100th MU Homecoming. It was a lot of fun to be here and a weekend full of seeing familiar faces, which was very refreshing.

As a student involved in a sorority, Homecoming involved a lot of work. Even though I was usually exhausted by the actual game, I still loved being a part of it all. But it was really nice to just witness the uniqueness of Mizzou's Homecoming without doing all of the work.

Homecoming starts on Friday with "house decs." It's hard to fully explain, but basically the Greek pairings (typically one sorority is paired with two fraternities) build elaborate sets to go along with a certain theme and a skit. This was my sorority's set this year, their theme was New Year's Eve (the overall theme was celebrations):

I posted this picture on Facebook and complained that there was no "pomping," which is applying small pieces of tissue paper to plywood with pencils and a glue mixture. I had heard they cut back a lot on it, but some of the other houses did quite a bit more. Here's a short video of one of the skits to better show you:

Then on Saturday morning, there is the parade. I realize I'm biased, but I think it's a really impressive parade. I watched it for two hours, and it was still going. The Greek pairings create a float based on their themes. Here is my sorority's float:

I think this was the best float:

Do you see the working fountains?

Look at this tractor. The fraternity that created this Mardi Gras float is called Farmhouse, so it makes sense but it's reminder that I'm in the Midwest now:

And always my favorite part of the parade:

OK, I won't bore you with anymore pictures, but it was a really fun weekend and I enjoyed seeing some good friends.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin brownies, bread machine and soup

I did a fair amount of cooking and baking over the weekend, and I have a few things to report on.

I still haven't given up on creating the right chocolate/pumpkin brownie combo. This time I achieved the appearance I wanted. These definitely looking like marble brownies. But there wasn't a lot of pumpkin in them, and I wonder if I could layer it a little bit.

With the leftover pumpkin batter, I added some flour and baking powder to make pumpkin muffins. Considering I was not following a recipe at all they turned out pretty well.

I live in the oldest neighborhood in town, and I've learned that this means there are a lot of estate sales and garage sales. There's at least one estate sale and close to a dozen garage sales in about a mile radius of my house. I'm not a true garage sale shopper because I don't get up early to go. I usually stop at a couple around 10 or 11 in the morning after I've been to the farmers' market.

Of course, the estate sales are where the best stuff seems to be, and I stopped at a pretty good one on Saturday. I was very tempted by a twin bed, but it turned out it had been sold already. I did find a breadmaker that I negotiated to $8. I've been wanting a breadmaker for a while, but was always hesitant to spend the money on another kitchen appliance.

I tested it out and made some good bread on Sunday. It's obviously an older model, and I had to look up the instruction manual online. But I can't seem to find a lot of recipes out there. So I'll take suggestions!

And lastly, I made cauliflower soup after enjoying some at Coralie's house. It's a Pioneer Woman recipe, which obviously means you can't go wrong, but I'm not a cauliflower fan and I loved this soup.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The six-week rule

When I went to school nine hours away from home, a weekend trip home was not feasible. But I was at a state school where a large majority of the students could make weekend trips home. And there were weekends when it felt like the dorm was empty, and I really struggled that first semester.

But since I didn't have a choice, I made the best of it and found people that did stay around on the weekends. I had to dig in and really make it my community. I found great friends and really loved my time in college.

As I've moved to new places since then, I've imposed a rule on myself to force myself to invest in a new place. For the first six weeks or so, I can't go home or leave town and escape. It forces me to find community and really be present in a new place.

But I also realize that I reach a point where I need to see familiar faces and have a conversation face-to-face with someone that already knows me.

In Georgia, a weekend trip home was easy, and in Virginia, my best friend was just a couple of hours away. And here, I have friends less than two hours away.

I had forgotten that I needed that refresher of seeing familiar people until I visited with some friends last weekend. After almost two months in a new place, I needed a real hug and a conversation deeper than the small talk when meeting new people.

Things are going well here, and this weekend I had a couple of things going on with new friends. I found myself less frustrated by the getting to know you stage after getting that weekend away. (Though I will confess I am tired of telling people I am not a student.) And there are two potential churches, so I'm feeling better on that front as well.

And this coming weekend is Homecoming, which is a HUGE deal around here. I'm looking forward to seeing friends I haven't seen in a long time, and enjoying the fun parts of Homecoming without having to do the work.