July 8, 2009

TNSTAFC: Relating & the Recession

Coffee isn't free in New York City.

I thought it was at NYU's Career Center, but it really isn't. It's just a way for the center to make us feel like we're being productive in the space dedicated to job seeking.

We pay for every drop of those Columbian beans. And then some.

I often come to the career center to check my e-mail before I go swimming. The Flavia coffee machine is a favorite stop where I put in my hazelnut coffee pack and get a strong brew of "free caffeine." Others smile at me when they get their chosen coffee and return to the clacking of keys at their work station. We act like we've figured out the secret to free coffee in the most expensive U.S. city, but it's really just denial.

The career center looks motivated, its room dividers stately and printers humming. And I look like I've stumbled from bed in a good suit.

I usually come to the center after work. And while job seekers are on the phone, talking about goals and potential with shopping employers, I'm dozing, hair askew, on the padded upright chairs no one ever sits on.

I hear them and remember unbidden what it felt like to see my bank account dwindle. I remember the worry of disappointing my family, friends and professors, if I didn't get something soon.

That was February.

But it's still February for many of my friends from graduate school. It's difficult meeting up with them for coffee. I try to say I understand. But it's becoming obvious that I'm drifting further and further from that knowledge.

But I do remember the vitality, the life-and-death of being jobless -- and how much I wanted to find stability again somewhere. Like living on financial adrenaline.

I imagine many of the people around me at the career center are looking for jobs in the same state. Their still looking in their field or maybe, or like I was, searching for any opening that would help pay the next rent check.

I wrote some stories today that highlighted the unemployment rate. It's growing. It's staggering.

I'm paying my bills and my loans and everything else. But my heart is with those who are searching and waiting for that phone call or mail.

I know coffee isn't free in New York City. I'll buy you a cup -- not a pity cup of joe -- and you tell me how you're doing. I want to know.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2009

If I weren't paid

I get paid to write now.

I find the fact that I get paid to write and my blog has fallen off the map very funny.

I've been thinking a lot lately about things I would always do, even if I were paid to do them.

Write is one of those things. I have missed my time blogging. This creative niche is a nice sanctuary from all things work-related.

Read is another activity. In this strange new adult world, I'm actually keeping up that thing most people find is a pseudo-pleasure during school. But I'm learning to appreciate books in a different way. I just finished "Little Bee" and "Under the Banner of Heaven" and I'm finding my fascination is really rooted in human nature and its darker side. I could and would read, I'm sure, even if I weren't paid.

I would also sleep, travel and eat for free, if given the chance.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 5, 2009

"Oh that--it was free"

My room is a garbage heap of the prettiest sort.

But you would never think so.

Let's start with the bed. I didn't have one a little over a month ago. After living in NYU housing for a year and a half, I was spoiled with never having to buy one, nor lug a new one around town on the subway.

I got very lucky. The previous resident of my room in Harlem left behind a year-old mattress and box springs that I knew weren't teeming with life. (She also left a set of drawers and a nightstand.)

I slept on just the mattress and box springs for about a month when I decided that this wasn't going to be some bed-on-the-floor situation, especially with all my options out there. I was going to really have a bedroom in my first apartment.

I kept an eye out, but nothing came my way. However, one day in my building, I spied a maple sleigh bed frame in the hallway where many residents throw their castoffs. All the pieces were there. But I wanted to check that I wasn't stealing, so I checked with some of the residents on the floor and they said they were moving out and wanted rid of the frame ASAP. I was more than happy to oblige.

After some wrangling on the elevator and in my room, the trusty boyfriend and I pieced together the bed in short order. And it's beautiful. This is my bed. Money saved: nearly $700.

But the bed was just the beginning; I set out to furnish my room completely -- but preferably for free.

I got a free five-drawer white desk around the same time. It was also left in the hallway of my building for disposal. I saw it one evening and said that if it were there in the morning, I was going to take it. It was, and I lugged it upstairs. Savings: around $100

The same week, out in the hall I acquired a little white bookcase/nightstand, too. Savings: around $30

And, looking ahead, about a week later, I spied an air-conditioner sitting in a trash heap outside the apartment building down the street from mine. It looked new and was among a bunch of other household items. Translation: Move out trash. I usually don't give these kinds of items a try, but the context of the trash was hopeful...so I decided to give the machine a go. After lugging it up the hill near my place and plugging it in, a cold rush of beautiful air blew forth from the vent. Savings: $100-$200

My final room embellishment is hard to quantify in savings. It was a garbage gift from my current boss. The piece is a heavy antique gold mirror (very much in this tradition). Oval and ornate, it hangs on the wall over my bed. One of the pieces on the mirror was broken, but I got out my handy hammer and fixed it right back into place, and it really brings the space together. Savings: approx. $50-$400 (We'll see what Antiques Roadshow has to say about it one of these days.)

My apartment is fully furnished now. Thank you, New York. I really couldn't have done it without you. And I'm truly amazed at the quality of what I've acquired. I thought that in this terrible recession/doomsday atmosphere people would be holding on to everything, but it just isn't true. People still move and clean and upgrade. Finding these items, aside from the sheer elation of filling space in my apartment, is uplifting. Each item is a sign of someone moving on, that the world is still turning.

And I get a chance to give something cast off new use in my life. However, I have a few standards that every acquirer should observe.

-I will not open bags or other containers for their contents.
-I will not pick up things with obviously badly broken parts
-I will not take any kind of material, textile furniture or other cloth-clad item because of the ever-feared bed bug infestation -- and general uck factor of somebody's fabric in your room.
-I will not dig into a pile of garbage.
-I will not take longer than one minute to procure my find.
-I will ask for help carrying stuff (no broken backs and/or limbs permitted)
-I will not harbor shame. It's free, folks. I recently finished school and have little money to spare, but more than that, I take a slightly perverse pleasure in sharing my free finds stories with friends. They can't believe the results of a little ingenuity and muscle.

And it's so much better than IKEA.

Here's my room!

bedvert.jpg

The free bed

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The free antique mirror

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The free desk

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The free air-conditioner

Feel free to share your recession free finds here!



Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:27 PM | Comments (7)

August 21, 2007

Leaving home

Garrison Keilor never told me in Leaving Home that everything would turn sacred.

My Coppula hoagie is savored a little longer. The wrinkle on my Grandma's face is memorized. The chipped sink in the bathroom slathered with blue toothpaste immortalized by a blog description.

I like to go through times like these because life suddenly stops and change, as uncomfortable and painful as it can be, shakes things up.

My life has certainly been shaken--and stirred.

The look of my bedroom is a testament to that: tomato boxes, Avon boxes, egg boxes, filled with most of my worldly goods litter the perimeter. Baby cacti stand at attention, waiting for transport. Beloved films and books that I think I don't necessarily need, spines out, stare forlornly at me on their shelves.

I am poised for movement. I am packed. I am ready to go.

But there are a few loose ends. Aren't there always?

These loose ends are mostly self-indulgence. Secretly I can't imagine this world without me. I have to laugh at that, but I've been a part of this maelstrom of family for my entire life. I'm suddenly going to be unattached, starting over.

I like the idea and am liberated by it, but am scared too by the enormity of this idea being realized. I take minimal credit. So many people have funded, pushed and advocated for me to see these things--once just passing thoughts--come to fruition.

And now, more ideas are popping into my head, and I'm finally believing that they can happen if fostered and cherished like this one. There's just something about setting goals and truly believing in them that somehow counts.

I always was confused by sermons that talk about faith and belief and trust and love and hope; but the truth is, they're all connected. In fact, they are so similiar that I think writers got fancy with many names just to point out the various shades of one great feeling that has no name.

That's what I'm feeling right now: sighing and singing, mourning and dancing, leaving and taking. It's a nor'easter of everything good and sad.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:59 PM | Comments (2)

August 9, 2007

Housed Sitting

For nine days I will have watched house for two dear friends in the mountains. I've been accompanied by two small terriers and a tank-full of freshwater exotic fish. We've learned a few things in the past week that I'd like to share with others who may find themselves sitting on a house--or having one sit on them, as this case shows.

1. Garden only when necessary. The storms flew in on swift winds this afternoon and knocked over almost all of my friend's pepper and tomato plants. After a few minutes of Lucy-style stomping around the plants, I decided that I'd beaten gravity enough and was dirty enough to go inside and say that I have a semi-green thumb.

2. Keep everything out-of-reach. Dogs like to chew things. I have a feeling that they're kind of stressed, too, so they chew practically anything for relief. I thought it was kind of cute at first, but when the male dog got hold of my friend's boot, I had second thoughts. Liability lies with the human in residence.

3. Sweets are the enemy, particularly when they are on the counter. My friend bought a small package of mini cupcakes. She said I should have one, and I did the first day. I've had one each subsequent day I've been here. They stare at me on the counter, but I've decided to move them to a nearby cupboard. Perhaps this is overstepping housesitter protocol or something, but I'm decidedly against eating the entire, delectable, sweet container-full...I will have willpower. I must!

4. Dogs will pee. I made the mistake of only letting the dogs out the allotted times given by my pals, and one left a lovely little puddle on the linoleum, twice. I've decided to let them out as much as possible. The dogs are crated during the day and they go out when I return. When they come in, we chill a while in the air-conditioning, and then the boy dog disappears. I hate cleaning up excrement. I'm not really a dog person, but we are getting along most of the time. This is just a reminder that I should not have dogs, nor date anyone that likes dogs. :-)

5. Life is different. You can't find the lightswitches, even though they were pointed out to you. The shower makes an erratic spray that your back isn't used to. The remote control seems more like a computer science project than convenience. Things are different, and novel. I've been alone most of the week here, and it's a strange joy from home. I like home for the company, showers and cats, but there's a peace here. There are blackberries the size of my pinky in the yard and horses prancing across the way. Different, but usually in a good way. Life will go back to normal for a bit, but this away-from-home trial is a definite help for the things to come.

If you get the chance to housesit, do it. There's nothing like jumping into another environment for a while.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2007

Ba-Da Bing, Ba-Da Brooklyn

It looks as if I'm going to live in Brooklyn.

In a strange twist of NYU antics, the first lease outside of Manhattan happened to be the year I decide to go to NYU. C'est lavie.

Though I am a bit down about this placement, I'm sure to have housing, and that's what matters. I'll have a 34-minute commute each way on the subway, which isn't really new because I commuted all four-years to Seton Hill.

I've been hearing that Brooklyn is amazing from various sources for its affordability and culture, so I'm not that upset. I'll know two neighborhoods, and probably interact with a variety of people, not just the college student crowd, which is excellent practicum for a journalist.

I've also "met" my new Brooklyn roommate. She's from Belgium. We've e-mailed the past couple of days. She seems as driven as I am, so I think we'll get along.

It's finally happening, so be prepared, dear readers, for Girl Meets Brooklyn .

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:48 PM | Comments (4)

July 28, 2007

A clean deception

Every now and then when my hands are soapy and look like logs, I scowl at our dishwasher.

Nothing about it is really scowl-worthy. It's actually a pretty sad piece of equipment. The buttons actually stand out from the appliance, a la 1930's cash register, and the plastic cover falls off every now and then when our cat, Suzie, slides into it when she gets excited about linoleum.

It's not the appliance itself that inspires a scowl; it's the story.

Washing dishes started as a fun event. "Mommy, can I help?" She thought I was angelic and domestic.

And then I wanted to quit, but not so fast; it became my job. In our old house, we didn't have a dishwasher, so Katie and I switched off nights. However, when we were searching for a new house, we gravitated toward prospects with shiny faucets and power sprayers, but even more so to those with dishwashers.

For a while we used the dishwasher in our new home. The sparkle of Jet-Dry and the dash of Cascade funneling into the small holding tank for deployment was a sight sweeter than any yellow-gloved hand I'd seen. And then, suddenly, my mother reported that the dishwasher was broken.

Though Katie and I were crushed, we resumed our washing round-robin, but not without our quabbles about whose turn it was each night. Years went by filled with family dinners and holidays all fraught with cooking, and inescapably, encrusted cookware, silverware, crockery, Tupperware, plates, bowls, mugs and glasses.

But the fact could not be avoided: the dishwasher was broken and no one seemed compelled to fix it, least of all two waterlogged children, too consumed with Lisa Frank stationery to truly invest.

And then one day, not too long ago, I heard a gurgling in the kitchen. The sound was controlled, though, and made me think of hearing a favorite song for the first time in a long time.

The dishwasher was running without care. I believe my mother was even multi-tasking as she washed dishes electronically.

We'd been betrayed. The dishwasher, my mother confessed, had never been broken.

"It didn't hurt you and your sister to wash dishes," she said. "It was using too much hot water."

At least that was her defense.

I just think back to all those times when my sister and I would fight about whose turn it was to wash dishes and think that she knew the whole time that the dishwasher wasn't broken. She was just trying to teach us responsibility and compromise.

I still scowl at the dishwasher. After about a week of washing with our as-it-turns-out unbroken appliance, the machine broke again, probably from disuse. My dad quickly disconnected the water supply, and spiders began spinning in the spout.

The dishwasher is now a space eater in our kitchen. It's also a conversation piece, like our sparrow magnet chimney.

I still wonder about the dishwasher these days, when I'm up to my elbows in Dawn and speghetti sauce. Why did he so quickly disconnect the water?

Then I let my mind rest, warmed by the thought that when I come home someday I'll hear that ancient appliance gurgling once again, my parents in the kitchen laughing about how they put one over on their children for over half their lives.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:07 PM | Comments (1)

July 25, 2007

When in doubt, pack it.

When in doubt, pack it. I have lived by this motto, and it hasn't let me down. However, with the prospect of moving into a considerably smaller place, I find that I'm going to have to say no to my motto, and learn to think differently about the plethora of stuff I've acquired.

Since I lived at home throughout my years at Seton Hill, I did not master the fine art of dorm packing. I have always had enough storage space: a large closet, two bureaus, a large bookcase and cedar chest. Decorative items and books abound. Everything is where I need it when I need it. In just a few weeks, however, if I need something I've forgotten, it'll be exactly 331.1 miles away. Paranoia sets in: Should I bring just a few more pens? What if all the ink runs out of all my pens at the same time? I would have to miss my class and get more pens! Then I would fail and have to go home, my head hung down in shame. I think I'm thinking about this too much.

This isn't trip packing, I have to remind myself. Instead of packing for certain activities, I have to pack for every situation one can imagine. Will I go rock climbing? What about dancing at a formal dinner? I've experienced a variety of situations in my reporting experience, some of which have included rock climbing and dancing, so I'm not thinking completely unrealistically.

I have a wonderful list, filled with over 100 items that I probably will need, including super practical, yet almost forgotten items like light bulbs and duct tape, screwdrivers and nails. I've also considered the seasons. I may not come home for Thanksgiving because of the short vacation and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, so I will have to have a wide variety of clothes for layering and my trusty electric blanket.

And then there's an added packing element that I have not mentioned yet: New York living costs. I've stockpiled this summer on non-perishable items because nearly everything costs double in Manhattan in comparison to my hometown. This means that, while my room may look like a stuffed sausage at the start of the semester, I will not have to drop cash on daily living items that can seriously deplete the wallet. A little bit of planning has gone a long way.

The actual event of packing is more difficult than I would have imagined, too. I need boxes. I'm trying to keep everything for each "room": kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc., in their respective boxes. It's going all right, but I get overwhelmed every now and then by the magnitude of moving, not only the stuff, but a life--my life.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:43 AM | Comments (4)

July 21, 2007

Mistake and Bias

Two books read in succession: The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts and Bias by Bernard Goldberg.

Both take on the question of women and the workplace and their children. Though my friends and family know the majority of my opinions on this matter, I will try to stay away from them, as I usually do to protect myself and, in this case, so I will not have to cite this blog for my class this fall when I will write a book review of Bias.

The manner of these authors' arguments is my main concern.

The Feminine Mistake is an excellent, yet sometimes exhaustive look at women and the workplace. The argument of Bennetts' book is that women should continue to work after they're married, through their pregnancies and children's early and teen years because they substantially threaten themselves by not working, particularly financially. She gives several back-ups including divorce, abandonment, depression after the children leave and difficult workplace re-entry after an extended leave. The book's tag line is a nice summation; it's a quote by Ann Crittenden: "Leslie Bennetts tackles head-on the popular myth that a man is a financial plan."

The book has a heavy emphasis on the experiences of women in these circumstances, and minimal authorial commentary. More showing than telling. However, many of the sources, which she says are mostly of the stay-at-home mom sort would not offer to give their names. I wondered why they would not give their names, and thought that perhaps Bennetts could have been a bit overbearing herself and with her questions, but I cannot attribute almost all of these ommitted names simply because of this reason. In any case, with her unnamed sources the burden of proof and the opinion lies solely on the author's shoulders and interpretation. Bennetts thrives under that load, though. She looks her readers in the eye and points out her flaws and debunks them, through a plethora of named females from all walks of workplace and childcare life combined with intermittent statistics.

However, as I've learned, statistics and the opinions surrounding them can be altered to suit an author's needs.

When citing a New York Times report of census data that 60 million women were single or living without their husbands, compared to the 57.5 million women living with a spouse, Bennetts brings in a demographer, William Frey, that says, "the institution of marriage did not hold the promise they might have hoped for."

This is, at best, a dramatic statement. At worst, it's a vague, self-serving quote. Women may not be in marriages because of the death of a spouse, hardly a reason for the loss of promise in the institution of marriage--just the result of the biological condition.

Bennetts is redeemed as the book progresses, however. She looks at each situation that a woman may face, seeming to say to women who believe that a couple should decide what is right for them on a case-by-case basis, "Hey, woman, wake up! Chances are you'll be on your own again someday, sometime! Be ready!"

Oh my, I've let my opinions in...which brings me to Bias.

Bias is structured in three parts: tirade, viable case, vendetta. While I understand the importance of naming names, Goldberg takes this to an extreme. He laces his points with his personal experiences (or should I say slights?) in the newsroom to illustrate his points. I took his statistical evidence a bit more seriously than memos and calls and watercooler chat that he remembers, but stats can always be tainted by set-up.

When Goldberg hands out stats on journalists versus the public, for example, based on a Los Angeles Times nationwide survey, I was suspicious. What journalists were surveyed? What sector of the public was asked? How were the questions asked?

And while the intentions of Goldberg are probably noble in trying to make the reading of his statistics a bit more palpable, the statistics are not written in parallel form. This statistic: "75 percent of the public was for the death penalty in murder cases; 47 percent of the journalists were for the death penalty," seems to leave something out. What about journalists who are for the death penalty in murder cases and, for that matter, what about the death penalty in murder/rape cases or serial murder situations? They are not delineated here and the reader is left making a decision based on the limited information available, through, ironically, Goldberg's tinted lens.

At the same time, Goldberg is proving his own point that journalism is about flash and kaboom. Going into the details of this survey would take away from his argument, or would it? Much of this book is filled with statements concerning Dan Rather and the issues Rather had with Goldberg after publishing his critique of a network news in aWall Street Journal article, "Networks Need a Reality Check." Each statement made by Rather or the network execs becomes a paragraph (or ten) in the book, hence my description "tirade." He could have spent a little more time explaining the survey and skipped the hundred or so exclamation points which make the book seem in some points like an e-mail hastily sent to one's boss, instead of a serious look, as Goldberg claims, at the media industry.

Maybe, I keep thinking, Goldberg was too close to the system--too "CBS insider" to truly assess the situation with, ironically, limited bias from himself. Though he doesn't claim to be unbiased in his editorial-like account, I can't help but think that he should have been. I would have taken his points more seriously. As it is, my bias as a reporter viewing a jilted reporter tends to make me hear his prose like a boss listening to a whiny employee:

"I have written exactly two times about Dan Rather and liberal bias--or, for that matter, about Dan Rather and any subject, period! Two times!"

To that, I would ask, okay, you can write about one person--your superior--two times, but how many times in those two pieces did you mention that person? Nine, 65? I would have to say somewhere in that range because the name Rather rang in my ears at night when I put down this book. I dreamed of news desks and combovers.

As I said, The Feminine Mistake and Bias have something in common. They both take on women in the workplace. However, Bias' take on this issue is to initially say they're not going to make a stand either way, but actually make one later in the chapter.

Early in the chapter ominiously named, "The Most Important Story You Never Saw on TV," Goldberg says that "this is not an argument for or against mothers leaving the house to work in an office or a factory. That is not my concern, despite the troubling statistics, at least relating to lachkey children. The argument here is that once again the elite journalist on television have taken sides."

Whatever Goldberg. After stating this disarming claim, I was comfortable for a bit. Okay, I thought, back to the media bias. He stayed on the topic for about 10 paragraphs and then let working mothers have it at chapter's end: "No wonder elite culture treats them (working mothers) as hothouse flowers, who must hear nary a discouraging word. But the fact is that working moms are at the very center of variety of cultural ills. Maybe a little stigma is what they deserve."

Sort of different, huh? He says throughout the book that he is not advocating one side or another; but his opinions, construed conservative or liberal, are sprinkled throughout, despite his protestations that they aren't. I think he uses this to inadvertently make a point about his kind of journalism. Goldberg thinks that a journalist cannot completely disengage from bias because a journalist is a human being. He gets to the root of the issues and gives his opinions on bias in the media, but also gives us his opinions on those issues, too. The book is generally a mess, an overstuffed, overcooked turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

I'm going to have a field day on my review.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:58 PM | Comments (5)

July 19, 2007

Pre-release Potter

Do you know how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows ends? I do.

I've held the much-anticipated volume in my hands and have read each envied word of the final chapters. I don't intend to write a spoiler, so no worries.

There are spoilers circulating on the Internet, of course, and I hold no exclusive claim to fame, but it's something, though. The library wasn't expecting their copy to come in sooner than the release date, but we're not letting it out of its hiding place until the 21st--and only the staff have access to it. One of the many perks of the job, I suppose. Or one of the only... :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:11 PM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2007

The Maine Idea (II)

A needham is a native Maine chocolate filled with coconut and mashed potatoes. The idea is a little wacky, but the experience is unforgettable. My trip to Maine was more than a little like eating a needham.

The idea that I was visiting a male friend at his home on an island in Maine was a topic of some interesting conversations pre-travel. However, it all worked out well. Friendship(s) are intact, and I had a relaxing vacation with Stephan and his family.

Unlike some people, I do not enjoy traveling simply for the sake of movement. I like reaching a destination and then branching out from there on bike, foot, boat or chaise lounge.

Learning that a lake was not a quarter of a mile away from Stephan's home, needless to say, was all the vacation I would have needed. In the span of two days, I visited the lake--or pond as the sign said--three times.

The walk was lovely, but I think I enjoyed the view of rippling blue between the tall trees most of all because I knew that the view of the swimming hole was next: cool water lined by a rocky shore overlooked by millions of pines.

I did laps with Stephan's brother, John, across the lake; but seeing nothing but dense green with a few particles of white flying by in my goggles was downright creepy, so I switched to backstroke. Blue is such a soothing color, especially when footage of Nessie flits through my mind in the middle of an incredibly wide lake.

Silly me.

However, there's much more to do besides just being a lake bum. About halfway through the week, I traveled to the the top of Mount Battie. I spent the day with Stephan's parents, David and Kathy, and we were to picnic on the rock face of the outlook. David went out to a ledge (an uncharacteristic thing because he's afraid of heights) and was readying our picnic spot, when our cooler, filled with Maine factory-fresh cheese, soda and other perishables, did the unthinkable.

A little bit of a rocking motion (pardon the pun), and the cooler and its entire contents spewed forth and down over the rocky ledge, down, down, down into the green canopy below. But our eyes weren't on the food, they were on David's outstretched hand, grasping only the sky.

And then he said: "It's still going!"

Our lunch took about fifteen seconds to completely reach the bottom of the trail-less ravine. I take comfort in the raccoons and squirrels eating like kings that night.

The semi-non-perishables--a loaf of bakery fresh bread and an oatmeal chocolate cookie were left in my arms. Our lunch. And what a great lunch it was.

After that, we hiked to the top of a Mount Megunticook. Around and around it we went. The terraced trail was a challenging, yet fun jaunt, and we found a luna moth on our way. When I reached the top, a little sooner than his parents, I had a moment to reflect: I felt more accomplished than I had in a long time. Actually living out a common metaphor, it seems, is better than using it.

There's much more to say about Maine. About its endearing L.L. Bean fetish. Its docks and harbors filled with boats worth more than my upcoming education. Its seafood. Its beaches. Its life. However, there's a lot to say, and I've spent too much time on this blog already.

But I guess it comes down to a question. I've always wondered if you left part of yourself in the places you've traveled to, but really, I think you bring more back with you. Maine is an addition in every way.

I don't need to look any further than the the calorie count on the needhams package to prove that.

If you'd like to see some photos and commentary, check out the extended entry...

breakfast.jpg
Stephan, John and Kevin around the breakfast table. I think Stephan was playing with the jam.

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On the first full day of the trip, we went to this old lighthouse. I climbed the ladder (probably not a good idea), but the view was amazing.

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Islands, islands everywhere. Adjacent to this pier is a dock. Several private boats are anchored there. I was swarmed by black gnats not far from here after a rain shower.

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Below the pier, shown above, is masses of seaweed. I made the landlover mistake of calling it moss. John really got a kick out of that.

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I don't think I can remember a colder Fourth of July, but I chalk it up to Maine. haha. Rain was falling, and most of my photos have lovely shots of drizzle, but this one turned out. I give a lot of credit to the town's firemen for this amazing show over the river. Fireworks spewed from one end of the pier to the other by the time this was shot. Surprise. Shock and awe.

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Overlooking the harbor on top of Mount Battie. This was shot not far from the cooler's demise location.

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This luna moth met its end along the path up Mount Megunticook. Moths were the least of my worries, however. I was fodder for the mosquitoes. I don't even dare count the bites scattered on my arms and legs.

camden.jpg
This was an odd find in the middle of a charming town called Camden. Many of the buildings are built on stilts and the water rushes beneath until it empties out into the ocean via this beautiful waterfall.

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You look and look at views like this. It's called "postcard territory." Compliments to Maine.

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How can red hotdogs--a thing they only do in Maine, I'm told--be organic? Word is it's beet juice. I haven't altered the color on this photo. I couldn't believe it.

happyfeet.jpg
My feet love the water, as does the rest of me. I learned to love the lake, despite my misgivings about the stuff on the bottom.

swing.jpg
The swing is great, but the rocks are a constant fear. Good times, and I didn't die.

Photo alterations by Pixer.

(If I've gotten any names of places wrong, I apologize. A journalist on vacation can't get everything absolutely right.)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 5, 2007

The Maine Idea

Maine is a beautiful place. I can't believe I've actually stepped away from it to look at this computer screen, but I just thought I'd remember this trip with one small--very small blog--about my trip here while on my trip.

I've swum in a beautiful lake, watched fireworks over a river and shopped at a little Maine standard: L.L. Bean.

But there's much more to do and see. Tomorrow I'm taking on a mountain.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:59 PM | Comments (5)

June 26, 2007

The cry of credentials

Though every semester at Seton Hill seemed more difficult than the last, when I look back on it all, I find that my first freshman semester rated highest on my stress-o-meter. By the end, I had the know-how and the faith that I could get through it all, but at the beginning, I questioned myself. I'm doing the same thing now, but now I know that I'm doing it.

I guess a lot of my pre-formed stress is from Facebook. What an awful thing that community of credentials and interests and self-indulgence really is!

One of my soon-to-be classmates said on her message board that she is feeling overwhelmed and more than a little inadequate after viewing our class's profiles. I must echo this sentiment. Facebook offers the voyeuristic ability to pore over every piece of work information and background experience that every student has. When looking at that for admittedly ten minutes or so, one feels a sensation akin to looking at pristine models in a fashion magazine: like a blemished average person. Also, the image of one person slips onto another and then another and you forget who was who and then you just lump them all together into some mega journalist image in your mind. Why should they want to go to graduate school? They are awesome and perfect and have nothing to add to their knowledge of the craft...I'm so not ready for this--and so on...

However, I've stopped that lurking and self-pitying. I've reminded myself that I'm accepted. I'm forking out (or will be) a lot of dough for this education. I've got the ability somewhere deep down inside to make it through, just like I did in my undergraduate years at SHU. I'm going to make it because it's just what I do.

It's not been a secret that I've felt displaced in the past few months. Direction is hard to come by when waiting on answers from your future makers at colleges. Time is an ally and an enemy. I read over my application essay that got me in. I remind myself that I have all of the abilities that I said I did. I imagine that my classmates feel something of the same. And I catch myself doing it again--trying to bring everyone down to a human level. We all have families that live in little houses with picket fences or drive cars that sometimes won't start in the morning.

It's so easy to elevate people, including yourself, to something higher or lower than reality. Our minds act like bubble paper, sometimes cushioning and other times obscuring us from what is essential to see things as they are or could be. These mega journalists are going to be my friends and co-workers. I am on their level and they're on mine, and we have a job to do. We depend on every other human being to tell our stories, to pay our salaries (someday). I hope humility and confidence will balance themselves out in their own time.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2007

Just the Family Vacation

I love my family. I love trips. I'm not too sure about the combination of the two.

This week is my family's first trip together since our disastrous one to New York City about four years ago.

That's not to say we haven't traveled at all in the past few years. I've turned into a traveling fiend. Dublin, Philadelphia, New York, etc. My sister and mother love to travel, too. My dad loves to go to Civil War and history-oriented locales, but he hasn't in the past few years, so we're doing locations primarily he likes in central and eastern Pa.

Today we visited Lancaster, Intercourse, Paradise, Bird-in-Hand...You can just imagine some of the retail merchandise...In any case, it's been quite an adventure.

Our family does fight in the loud and obnoxious way that most families do. Today we had our first fight and I was an integral part of it. Nevertheless, we plodded on in our lovely rental that doesn't actually plod--it really flies. In fact, my mother rode the white line at 75 mph until a tractor trailer almost plowed into us with his cow catcher-like bumper.

Tomorrow we travel to York and the Harley-Davidson factory. We are not bikers, nor do I foresee anyone owning a bike, but we are going there to broaden our minds.

Today, we were pretzel twirlers and bud-eaters. I'm not really a tour person because I watched Mr. Rodgers' nearly every day of my childhood, but it was pretty interesting to watch a one-man pickling operation at a cannery. He packed twelve eggs into each can and then a long spout of purple juice slid into the jar, which was finally sealed and a label was slapped on.

It was a compelling spectacle for a few minutes, but I caught myself feeling sorry for the guy. I can't get the book, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, out of my mind. Ehrenreich is an undercover journalist who "exposes" what her life is like in various six- and seven-dollar occupations through her reflections. She is employed in the book in several vocations, including a maid, a Wal-Mart employee and a waitress, among others. Though I think her voice is a bit persnickety in the book, I find that her stories are nevertheless alarming, and make me think twice about my place on the proverbial totem and why I think her voice is persnickety. Have I accepted my class? Has she been spoiled by hers?

In any case, I think about the people who made up the rooms that I am sleeping in for the night. I think about the people canning the eggs and making my vacation omlets. I wonder how much they are being paid and what their lives are like. I've always done this, and because I do, I never really relax on vacations. I find that this awareness is heightened this trip, especially. Maybe it's because we're still in Pa. Maybe it's because pay raises and finances are a constant news item. Maybe it's just a great combination of all of that.

When people cook and clean up for me on vacation, I want to remember to respect them and to be grateful for this trip. We may fight and say a lot of things we don't mean, but at least we're given one more time to be a family before we scatter--or more appropriately--I move. It's strange that I'm on vacation at 21 years old with my family, but who else gets that chance? They'll be other trips to savor with friends and business trips, but this vacation is something else entirely: it's an affirmation of us, still as a unit, no matter where we go and what we do.

It's just too bad WallyWorld was closed today. The poor moose. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2007

Home Sweet New York

I have a place to live. Repeat: I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE!

New York University just sent a lovely e-mail stating that I have a home for the next academic year if I respond ASAP. The message was received, of course, at the library (where I can't scream), but I did give my most winning smile to the couple I was helping at the library between my Internet surfs.

The message cannot say where I will reside exactly, but I am assured a place in NYU's housing buildings, all of which are in Manhattan.

I did do a bonafide Irish jig (that I learned from my Irish friends) in the library's back room and hug both of my fellow staff members.

Today was a great day. I ate Godiva ice cream and a Coppula hoagie, I was published, and I have a home--somewhere.

The next step is to envision this new abode and my new roommate(s).

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:30 PM | Comments (2)

May 30, 2007

In thick outdoor paint and messy memories

Paint and I have never gotten along.

When I was in sixth grade, I decided to spray paint a box for the scene--a diorama--of the play Romeo and Juliet. The can was nearly empty. The project (which was assigned three months before) was due the next day. So instead of asking my mom to take me to the store, I improvised, which often works in my life. After I rummaged around in the basement, I located my would-be savior: a can of exterior latex paint left over from our home's remodeling. At first, I daintily applied paint with a paintbrush. However, my deadline weighing heavily on my mind, I decided the process was going too slowly, so I dipped my hands in and went for a fingerpaint look. Instead, the box rebelled, and drooped with the paint's weight. During the endeavor, I unwittingly covered half the sidewalk in whitewashed white, and gave rise to a beloved family story: Amanda-cried-like-a-big-baby-because-she-had-to-scrub-the-walk. As for my procrastinated project, my mom helped me construct another box which we covered in contact paper and filled with a Barbie and Ken balcony scene. However, the memory of scrubbing the sidewalk and picking paint chips out of my hair for a week has stayed with me. I was haunted by paint, and particularly exterior latex white paint.

Until today.

My sister's boyfriend, Nick and I painted the back porch with the exact paint I misused so many years ago. This time, however, we had a little help from a sweet piece of equipment. The entire porch was whitewashed in around two hours with our new stain sprayer.

In a lucky twist of machine antics, we were very lucky the sprayer didn't catch fire. Though we read all of the instructions for operation, we neglected the section on permissible paint types. As we learned half way through, when Nick checked the manual, latex paint of any kind should not be used in the machine. I can just imagine the scene if my mother came home and our house were in flames and all I could offer in explanation would be "It was the paint, mom!" And she would sigh, and we would reconstruct the house out of contact paper.

Nevertheless, we painted on, despite our knowledge that the machine could explode in our hands. The realization eventually grew as numb as our hands holding the jiggling tool. At the end of the day, though, we finished a lot quicker than manual painting, and the sidewalk has minimal splatterings. And our house isn't in ashes, which is a definite plus.

I came in still wary of paint, however. It's in my hair and my skin is bright red from numerous scrubbings. And while paint and I have never gotten along, I'm happy to say that power tools and I do. I shall revel in electric drills and paint sprayers and electric hedge clippers as long as I draw breath on this polluted Earth. Huzzah!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:26 PM | Comments (4)

May 23, 2007

The difference between black and white: A computer transition

My Dell was a one-of-a-kind because I built it, or at least that's what Steve said... Black, with silver embellishments--a standard student edition--my college computer was a genuine treasure. It ran more programs than I probably should have tried. It never contracted a virus. The speakers were stellar, and I even installed a cut-rate DVD player without calling a tech during its tenure on my desk.

My Dell is now in a clothes basket.

It's cleaned, both inside and out, for its new owner. I didn't realize what a task this would prove to be. With all the programs that I had loaded on the hard drive, in addition to my own photos, documents and music, I thought I'd never finish. Thank God for Box. I have all of my files loaded onto three one-gigabyte free accounts. That took awhile, but they're all there. I also have backups of my written work on CD. After all, Jesus saves...ask Dennis Jerz, if you don't get that one.

The buyer was a happy find. I pitched the idea to the library where I work and one of the board members said he was interested in purchasing it. My Mac plans are now in motion. I'm probably going to buy one in August (for possible free iPod and student software discounts) and tough out the next few months on my sister's computer or at the library. However, I am tempted to wait just a little longer for the new operating system, Leopard...but I think October may be a bit too long to wait.

It's bittersweet saying goodbye to my first large appliance. Cars have personality, and just enough attitude to make you feel like they own you, rather than the other way around. Computers--or maybe I should say this one--feel like you have worked together toward a common goal. I wrote many papers, many blogs and many articles on my black wonder, and I shall miss it. I'm probably buying a white MacBook, so the difference between the two will be as drastic as literally, between black and white.

In related news, my computer desk decided it was time to die. I decided to move the desk out of my room for obvious space reasons, and the pressed board leg buckled and then unhinged itself. I heaved the mess out the front door this afternoon and it's garbage truck bound.

The transition's already beginning...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:16 PM | Comments (4)

May 19, 2007

The faces of refuse

For the past two Tuesdays, I've witnessed the human condition in its barest form. Some say the human condition is evident in politics, religion or in relationships with the opposite sex, but I have a very different point of view: It is in our trash.

Trash, also known as treasure--as I've been told at least four times--is a window into people's lives. I'm not surprised that the paparazzi sort through it to get an intimate look into their subjects' activities.

With a reporters' eye, I sorted through every type of container one can imagine; and in the process, I have formed a very different, and perhaps distorted, view of my church's rummage sale contributors.

There's always a bag with kinky lingerie. This bag usually incites some gasps from the ladies, but this year was something incredibly different. Some woman (or man, perhaps) liked body suits to the extreme. I think we found one in every color. In addition, the bag contained a montage of Victoria's Secret commercials from the past fifteen to twenty years, complete with beaded bodices and even a corset or two. No one ever admits to contributing anything, but I have a feeling that someone in the room that day did donate those unmentionables...Someone turned just the slightest shade of pink when the bag was opened, and then promptly returned to their work. I like to think that the owner of this bag got over their need to please their partner and threw it all out in a moment of self-affirmation.

And then there's the dusty, gaudy ceramic angels, their backs stuffed with 62 discordant artificial flowers. I think that that person had to do crafts in prison, rather than make license plates. They didn't have the funding for matching flowers, so they used every single one to try to please the warden for her birthday. However, the warden was not pleased and decided to shut down the angel ceramic program because it decayed society, rather than contributed to it. The remains of the program were immediately sent to our church's sale. The contributor is ready to make cell phone covers with Paris Hilton.

I tried to be discreet with my critiques as I sorted, but sometimes it was just too much. I felt pretty low when I did make some statement like, "Whoa, that's an amazing pile of something," and someone piped up and said that it was their mother's favorite ornamental Christmas wreath/sock holder. I did get a dose of my own medicine, too. I donated a few pairs of shoes and another lady said she couldn't believe what some people donated as she filtered through my bag. So, okay, they were pretty bad, and I should have tossed them, but I was trying to be a giver. I imagine that she thought the owner of the shoes was an almost impoverished student, who tried to sell the shoes at a yard sale and then donated them afterward when they didn't go. Some people are so dead-on it's scary.

However, what always supercedes these images is the buyers on the morning of the sale. A crowd gathers at least an hour before the sale building opens, and they rush in or pound on the door at 8:59 a.m. to get in. The sight is one to behold. People from all backgrounds, race, sex, age, whatever, come pouring through the door, like speghetti through a loose sieve. The images I have are dashed. I see the new owners in the flesh, carrying off their spoils. Trash is treasure and the leopard body suit just might fit...

(No--I didn't buy a leopard body suit, you sick people. :-) I did get an iron, a leather jacket, a big box for moving to New York, and ironically, a trash can; however, minus the sweet stainless-steel coffee pot that an elderly man scooped up before me.)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2007

My new summer job: Advice booth

This sounds like a promising venture for summer employment. I wonder how Americans would respond to an advice booth...I mean, with a money-back guarantee, how can you go wrong? However, I hesitate to think that many people would respond favorably to a 21-year-old giving life/love/philosophical advice.

I think, if anything, I could get into a whole lot of legal trouble if I told someone that they should invest in something cool like neon pogosticks instead of some promising stock. Maybe I'll just leave the advice booth to the Londoners.

Just as an aside, though, these --ist blogs are fabulous. The content is fresh and well written. I check The Gothamist the most, of course, but I'm always impressed by the variety of coverage by each city's writers.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:14 PM | Comments (2)

May 4, 2007

A ranking of gadgetry

From a conversation with a friend about modern conveniences, I put this little rank together. At the extended link of this entry, you will see how you fare based on your top choices (in light of my pseudo-psychological tomfoolery) and view my answers. :-)

Rank the gadgets below based on your use, need and want of the item in your everyday life.
(ex. 1=most important to 7=least important)

a) Microwave
b) Computer
c) Cell Phone (camera use not included)
d) Camera
e) iPod (or some other comparable music device)
f) Hair dryer/Straightener
g) Palm pilot

If your top choice is...

Microwave: Try to slow down someday. "Slow roast" isn't only a label given to the media's coverage of Rosie O'Donnell's behavior, it's a real cooking term that you just might enjoy if you tried picking up a skillet or pot of some sort.

Computer: Try a laptop and move it into a sunny locale like your front porch. Don't worry, you will still be blessed by yours (or someone else's) wireless connection. Computers are fabulous gadgetry, but just remember that there are real people out there, not just "sort-of real" people that "say" "LOL" all the time and make videos that they post indescriminately on YouTube.

Cell Phone: Landline only rhymes with landmine in your book. You've never heard of it, or if you did, you choose to forget the time when talking was connected by wires. You are an empowered being, proud that you have your own off-beat texting language you share with your closest "FIVE" friends know. LOL! I mean, 5+6+5.

iPod: If earbuds are your only friends, try disconnecting once in a while. Music is your life; that is, except when you put newscasts/podcasts/simultaneous webcasts/iCasts/iUniversity casts on your lil' Vernon (you've named it, of course).

Hair dryer/Straightener: Life is SHEAR GENIUS. And you need to get your roots done. Hellllo?

Palm Pilot: You still have a GigaPet and it secretly lives in your desk drawer with your palm pilot named Filbert. I take pity on you. I'd help you if I could, but I can't. I'm sorry.

My ranking:

1. Computer
2. Microwave
3. Camera
4. Hair dryer/Straightener
5. Camera
6. iPod (not applicable yet)
7. Palm pilot (will never be applicable--I like paper planners.)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:46 PM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2007

Starting over

My screensaver is set to rotate my pictures from the last four years. Today, I received my first e-mail from my first friend at NYU and several IM messages from a SHU friend of four years who was trying to insure that we would remain friends beyond graduation. The past and future fought today in my corner of cyberspace, and I starting thinking.

I can't really say what these next few months hold for any of us. I don't have an apartment/dorm in New York yet. Karissa is moving away. My friends are scattering to the four winds.

And my mind turns to the hackneyed sayings/songs of transition: "When God closes one door, somewhere He opens a window...," "I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it," "Buildings with a hundred floors, swingin' round revolving doors, maybe I don't know where they'll take me...Break Awaaaaaay....."

The way I see it, there are two ways to look at every transition. First, as an insurmountable obstacle that has no over, under or beyond. Second, as a challenge.

The past few months, I've spent largely alone. I've decided that February is the worst month of the year, with March as a close second. I don't like to wallow in self-pity, but there it is. My challenges somehow became insurmountable in my mind. Dreams became wispy memories and reality, a constant threat. But now, I'm remembering who I am and what I'm capable of being and doing. I'm not lost; I'm just waiting and resting for my next go.

And what I've gotten screwed up in my mind for so long is that my next go is now. Insurmountable is being replaced by action and planning. Though these months "off" have been part of my growth, I have realized that I am not one to let alone. I waste away without a deadline, a planner. And I guess that translates to "I'm a goal-oriented individual" on a resume.

Then the personal side is assaulted, but I'm looking at it differently these days. I haven't seen my Seton Hill pals as much as I would like, but I think this is preparing me for the much longer separations that are sure to come. They are still, and always will be, a part of my life, but in a different way.

Challenges await. And I'm not afraid now, because I know I'm going to surmount them, not the other way around. Maybe I'll give God the credit or the Vitamin D of the wayward sun, but something has changed.

We're all about to start over again, to grow some more. It's spring; May, June, July and August are my favorite months of the year. I can't think of a better time to start another season of my life than in this moment and in the embrace of so many people I love. We're going to make it; I'm going to make it.

And, if nothing else, there's an impetus for this change and our imminent success: student loans.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:02 PM | Comments (4)

April 25, 2007

Trippin' out

I savor travel. I love trips that don't feel like trips, but more like a short residence in a different locale. My upcoming journey isn't one of those.

On Friday, my mom and I will fly out from Pittsburgh to New York, and the following day, return. We're staying in a hostel. I never have and she hasn't either. I think this thing is going to be quite an adventure.

My original intent for this trip was to attend a luncheon with professors and fellow grad students, but somehow this tiny weekend trip has burdgeoned into a trip of epic slashes. I'm categorizing it as a mother/daughter student/professional development trip. Trying to keep it all in perspective, but the next few days may change the course of my life...especially if I get killed in a taxi. No, no. I won't dwell.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 7, 2007

Yellow wonder, the NYC cab

While in New York recently, I tried to hail a cab for the first time. It didn't work out very well because it was rush hour and I didn't understand the whole cabbie light on/off thing that was going on.

Instead, I went to a hotel and a kind man with a whistle and a voice that put Ella Fitzgerald to shame, hailed one for me. However, I know that this will not always be the case. I will have to hail my own cabs, pay for them, and somehow deal with the possibility that I may die in one of these yellow cages.

Thanks to Gothamist, my New York savior, I am now cab savvy. Their link to the New York City government cab page is just what this newbie ordered.

Did you know the maximum number of passengers allowed in a cab is 5? And that a cab driver must know the "lay of the land" to every destination given by a passenger?

Maybe now I'll move onto the NYC subway system...or not.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:01 PM | Comments (0)

Building bridges over the wall

The street disappears at the foot of an upright concrete mountain.

I saw the wall before the Belfast guide pointed it out. I was thinking, "Isn't that strange, a big wall in the middle of nowhere. I bet that's a jail back there." But there isn't a jail on either side--at least one that I couldn't see. My Irish friends, however, know all about it. The divider between two neighborhoods in Belfast is a tangible representation of lingering hate, a jail for both Catholic and Protestant factions. It hurts now to think of that street to nowhere.

While in Belfast, I was in a fog of sensation overload. The sights, sounds, smells (of fish and chips), were often too much to make me belabor the fact that I was living in what once was a warzone, and still is to some degree.

My impressions of Belfast, a month later, are a bit clearer. I'm beginning to take the discussions with my friend Mags in an entirely new way.

I'm a historian's daughter. My father, a Civil War, Kennedy and 9/11 buff, never was certified or anything, but he's passed his need to remember the past to me.

Mags and I were kindred spirits. She passed along her knowledge of Irish history, which she is majoring in, to me in small, digestible increments. I note now that I was the one who kept Mags talking, long after everyone moved onto other topics. :-)

I'd read up on Irish history before I went to Ireland, but the nuances of the history and the various interpretations of the past were never more apparent to me. While in Belfast, our friends not only talked to us about Irish history (and their living in it), they beefed up our knowledge with two films:H3--a great film about the hunger strikers, and The Wind That Shakes the Barley about Irish history. We didn't finish the second one because it was too early in the morning for bloodshed. As it turns out, Wind hasn't been released in the U.S. and isn't slated to do so until July. So, I'll have to wait.

In any case, this Time article: Postcard: Belfast, made me go back to the place I learned to love so much. The contentious walls, barbed wire and painted curbs are a reality for both past and present, but one on the fringes of my mind. I like to believe in the optimism of the article's author, that things are getting better. Mags and Pat Joe seemed to think so, but were wary of the country's direction.

Last night I finished The Kiterunner at 3:45 a.m. The reason I kept reading was to see if the Afghan narrator found redemption. He did to some degree, but the timeline wasn't finished by the last page.

I'm learning that there are no last pages or conclusions for a person or their country, just the way we view circumstances and how we move on in spite of them. Redemption is a choice, an act of bravery for everyone.

I want to see the walls come down, not only across the oceans, but a little closer to home. The destructive inertia of our time isn't unstoppable. Naive? Optimistic? I believe that there is Good in this life if we choose it. As for the rest, there will always be a few who never cross the bridges and walls that will always stand. As for me--and you can only ever be sure about yourself--I'm ready to be brave.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2007

Time to upgrade

It is time. I believe I'll begin with the camera, then move onto the iPod, the cell phone and then computer. It has come to my attention that all of my technology, save my digital recorder, are ready to move on to other owners.

My Fuji, though a battery sucker, has served me well. My photos are big and beautiful. I thank thee.

My CD player jumps like an overactive Mexican bean. You are the weakest link...Good bye.

The cell phone...ah, the cell phone, is costly for its minute-by-minute charges. Au revoir Virgin Mobile.

And finally, the computer. My Dell, once high fashion and amazing, is too large for travel. I hesitate to think that I'll be taking fast flights home every holiday from school, so I need something that I can work on while traveling. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I think I'm going to buy a Mac. I may even splurge for the MacBook Pro because NYU has a great student rate. I'm really worried about software, though. And I have four years of stuff on this computer that I'll have to save on Box or something.

Does anyone have any suggestions for buying cameras, computers, cell phones or iPod purchases? Tips, photos, whatever. I need some direction.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:50 AM | Comments (4)

March 27, 2007

Babies and blogs

Babies and blogs have never meshed in my mind. If I ever do have children, I think the blogging would stop then. I would send photos and commentary through e-mail to family--not on a blog. I made up my mind about this a while back--you know, taking in the grand scheme of life and blogs, but I am definitely sticking to that decision after reading this horrible story of a mother's blog being ransacked by an angsty teenager.

Though I would not blog about my children if I have any, I can see how blogging was a fun and seemingly harmless activity for this mother. And while she was perhaps naive, this situation was entirely uncalled for. I am happy to hear she fought back and was aided by other bloggers/friends/readers.

Some of the responses in the Gothamist comment section were chilling, however. One comment even said:

"Hey Margaret -

You chose to put your personal life on the web. And then you chose to put pictures of your child on the web. Copyright your photos or deal with it. The scenario you've described is harmless - and quite honestly - funny. Have a laugh."

Have a laugh? I suppose it could be funny for someone who doesn't have children, but I'm not one of them. I wouldn't want someone going through my scrapbooks for the fun of it, and then pasting them into another and then showing it their friends and calling that life their own. Sickening.

Thankfully Xanga has taken down the teen's blog for "violation of Xanga's terms of use."

The teen's blog was a creative remix of online content, I'll give it that. Could this be construed as fan fiction? I don't think so. The entire situation is reaffirming what we already don't know about blogs, copyrights and online property. I can't wait to see where this goes in the next few years. I can't wait to see if Xanga reposts the blog...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:06 PM | Comments (4)

March 22, 2007

Going to the dark side...MacManda

I'm in New York. Crazy things happen here. I am in the Mac Store and I'm seriously thinking about buying one of these...things.

Dr. Jerz (PC user) wants to say, "Hi, Karissa. Hi, Mike. We made it here first!"

macmanda.jpg

See--I'm playing on a MacBook Pro...starting at $1,999. It has everything, including things I can't pronounce. Cheers from New York. We're presenting tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2007

Away from home, home again

I found my way back to Belfast with a cup of tea this morning and watching this (a big song we listened to the duration of the trip).

The seven-hour flight was easy because we went out for our last night in Belfast. The feeling that all in one day we were having tea and high "fibre" cereal, walking the cliffs of Ballycastle, dancing the night away and finding ourselves looking at the docile shots of the airplane safety passengers is almost too much to ponder.

The first day of the trip was similar and I suppose it is fitting that the end of the trip was more of the spectacular same.

I think the most difficult part of coming home was saying goodbye to Maguerite, Pat Joe and Kate, our amazing hosts. I can't say enough about their hospitality and generousity, particularly in their own tenous situation of possibly moving to another flat. Their kindness never faltered--even when I told them I didn't take milk in my tea.

However, I have not seen the last of them. I have just signed up for a Bebo account and have their e-mail accounts. I'm making Wednesdays my Irish writing days, so they will get a letter every week, whether they want one or not. I've also invited them to visit me in New York to keep the travel love flowing.

Saying goodbye to Ireland was difficult. I don't usually have the presence of mind to do this, but the moment my foot left Irish soil at the airport, I marked it. Tears filled my eyes unbidden when I saw the green of Ireland vanish in a white screen of clouds. I think that was the best way to have it, though. The pain of watching the fields slink away would have been even worse.

The flights were rather uneventful, but U.S. Customs was an experience. I hesitate to write much on this subject because of the tight security, but we went through some extra stuff because we visited Mags' farm.

In any case, we made it back into America without any international incident, so all was well.

After being deposited at home, I thought I would have crashed, but I was elated to see my family again. The entirety of my luggage was spilled out on the kitchen floor, and I handed out gifts: chocolate, wool and nearly every kind of tourist trap item out there--except glass and pottery.

Something trite is bound to follow, but this trip has changed me. I made it another country. New friends who have been beaten with a hammer, new places with interesting details that I won't talk about in this blog. I guess it all comes down to one thing. There are times in your life when you question your ability to live up to your dreams. And when you suddenly see "traveling to another country" crossed off your mental list in an Irish grocery store or an abbey or the loving look in a once-stranger's eyes, you can scarcely believe that it is real.

I've actually pinched myself--okay, so that was trite.

After the gifts were disbursed and my suitcase lying stagnant once again in my bedroom, I picked through the mail that arrived in my absence. I opened it last. Dreams come in cream envelopes with purple torches on them. It's official. I'm accepted at NYU, and I've the letter to prove it.

So that means that I'll have the Irish visit me sometime soon--a dream within a dream, or maybe a reality I can now believe.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:13 AM | Comments (1)

March 9, 2007

Dublin for dummies--try a tour

I went to jail in Dublin. It was delightful.

The gaol tour was just one of the sights we saw on our "Hop On Hop Off" bus. I really recommend these. I thought it was a really cheesy thing to do at first, but we did get to see everything we wanted.

We visited the National Gallery and I saw my first Vermeer. Oscar Wilde's house was just across the way. Diana visited the Guinness factory and went on the St. Patrick's Cathedral tour by herself, while Athena and I toured the formal gardens outside it and viewed the burial spots of Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and others.

There is a lot to see in Dublin, and we didn't get to do a few of the things we wanted, but it's difficult in a two-day span.

I'll have more on this trip when I return, but Internet access is being shared between the three of us, and I think I have more than used my fair share. Back soon with more details.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:37 AM | Comments (3)

March 7, 2007

more...Ireland

Cows and sheep dotted the Irish countryside yesterday, as it has for centuries, but I was there to see it. We took a trip north to my friend, Maugerite's farm home near Armagh.

Her father raises dairy cattle and sheep on a lovely farm with two houses and several barns filled with bovine companions with sanguine expressions.

Maugerite's sister Clare plays a sport called hurling, also known as something I can't spell, and she gave us a chance to practice in the green, green lawn behind their house.

When we came back inside, we had another two cups of tea (which they say I drink strangely--that is, without milk), and ate a beautiful lunch/dinner of potato bread, bacon, sausage and loads of toast.

The stars in the country are so clear, and arriving in Belfast from the hills is a sight only the airplane ride can rival.

Traveling to Dublin today and tomorrow. Back with more stories and excitement soon.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:13 AM | Comments (2)

March 5, 2007

Irish eyes are smiling

Churches are numerous. Curbs are painted to label political/religious affiliation. Barbed wire is the current safety system. Belfast is beautiful.

My friends and I are staying in a quirky student flat near Queens University with three bedrooms, a bath that never seems to dry, and a lovely kitchen/living room combination of neutral colors.

Yesterday we visited Carrickfergus Castle. A fishing port is located beside it, and a beautiful view of the sea is everywhere.

I've seen where Titanic was built. I've passed through parts of town that are still bombed out and gated. The political tour was a real, yet entertaining view of the city. In the cold rain and wind, however, the guide's wry sense of humor was often lost on the breeze.

On the first day of the trip, we raced through the Newark airport and were not surprised when our luggage was not as fleet of foot as we were. We were allotted $50 by the airport to buy essentials in the mean time. We bought pretty European clothes at a shop called Primark in town for the night, but the next day, however, our luggage thankfully arrived.

Today we're headed out into Belfast city center, but Tuesday we're headed to our friends' farm homes and Wednesday to Dublin.

Though I've traveled before, jet lag hasn't been this daunting. I'm coming around, though.

The Irish accents are delightful. I was most excited about this aspect of the trip, I think. Listening to people talk on their cell phones has never been so interesting before. "Grand" and "class" may join "arse" in my arsenal of favorite words. A smile is always on my lips when they open theirs.

Cheers!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:31 AM | Comments (6)

February 28, 2007

Catching Ireland air with these new wings

If any trip were a pilgrimage, it would have to be this one. And I haven't even boarded a plane!

Ireland was an idea. Two friends invited me to visit our Irish pals who attended Seton Hill on their stomping ground. It quickly turned into passport paperwork, interactions with Orbitz, and now, two gargantuan suitcases that do not permit access to my bureau.

I'm leaving on Friday. I'll try to blog if I can, but expect loads of photos and commentary when I return.

The anticipation is delicious.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2007

Accepted--I'm almost absolutely sure.

When one waits for something in their life for a long time, when it actually happens, amazement and sometimes denial of the fact follows.

Since Thursday, I've been questioning it.

On Thursday evening, my sister's boyfriend answered the phone. I received the message two hours after I came home and he happened to remember. I guess I can be happy for that.

I was accepted at New York University for the fall semester in the News and Documentary Program.

However, after he told me, he started to rescind everything that he said because I was getting so excited about it. He likes to joke, but he shouldn't have. Yes, ladies and gents, he is the villan of this story, but I have forgiven him because after a few minutes of denial of my acceptance, he gave me the e-mail and phone number of the woman I was to contact.

I called the number but received a voicemail. On the NYU Web site, it says do not expect a phone call or an e-mail confirming your acceptance, so I was a bit confused.

The next morning, I called the main Office of Admissions and they confirmed my admittance. However, I was still questioning the entire situation because it was over the phone. I called my contact again and did speak with her. As it turns out, the program tells people that they want to recruit early. I was dumbfounded.

Though I still want an acceptance letter in my hand, I have told everyone now. If I wake up and this is all some cruel dream, I will eventually thank God for letting me have it.

I am still waiting to hear from Syracuse, but there's already a waiting list for the floor in my NYC dorm... :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:39 AM | Comments (3)

February 19, 2007

Falls=Numerous: Skiing

My feet were invisible, tingling stumps. All I saw were my new feet, about four feet in length and smooth as liquid steel. I didn't do my new feet justice. They were so professional-looking, and I put them to shame time and time again in snow drift after snow drift. I almost fell off the mountain twice.

I went skiing yesterday. I went down three times--the mountain, I mean, not the individual falls, which on the report (but I'll get to that later) I label "numerous".

I drove. Athena and Diana were my beloved companions in my car that smelled of gas. I am leaking gas from somewhere beneath my auto extrodinaire I've named Bertha.

It was a too-good conversation piece as we drove up to Seven Springs. Asphyxiation was setting in, and I think talking about tar bubbles or corn would have had the same effect: laughs.

After we parked Seton Hill style, which means making one's own spot, we were greated by a wonderful mix of mountain air and SUV exhaust.

When we finally got suited up after approximately two hours of waiting (and I'm not complaining, I'm really not), we hopped on the ski lift. I think this segment of the trip was the best. Except for when I had to get off, taking the skiing advice I got on the way up the chair lift.

I fell. Each time I got off the chair lift, I fell. I guess it was my thing. I knew how to take my skis off and put them back on flawlessly by the end of the night.

However, the first time, when the ski lift operator said for me to move out of the way in the most ambiguous language possible, I didn't know what to do or how to get up. Joy. So I took them off, carried my skis like a beautiful baby and almost cried when I stared into the mountain's face.

The first "run", as the pros call it, was a brush with death, and I'm not exaggerating.

We mistakenly took the Children's Stunt Path called Arctic Blast. I caught a glimpse of the sign and didn't see the word "stunt" in the title. Oh my holy ghost.

The little tunnel should have tipped me off. Tunnels shouldn't exist on bunny slopes. What cruel labeling. I thought Arctic Blast was just some happy title for the kiddies to get excited over, but it really was an arctic tundra of ice, stunts and would-be death. Now, looking back, I see that trail as it would be if children actually skied it. Only their legs would stick out of the snow, a line of them on the perimeter of the slope, kicking, kicking and then not moving at all.

But it did go down that path. I tried to steer clear of the tunnel, and then my skis crossed and stuck together. There I was, sprawled for the first time on my back, looking up at the big gray sky, so happy to be breathing. Sonny Bono kept racing through my mind.

With the help of my pals, I stood upright once more. Then I went off the edge of the world. Quite a stunt, eh? After crawling up an incline of about 45 degrees in skis, I wanted to slide down on my arse and just be done with it, but I didn't. With much cajoling from my friends, I got back up again. Again. Again.

I get more and more like Bridget every day.

On my third run, I hit a bunny slope curve too fast and went down. What a surprise. However, this time I turned my knee a la contortionist. Thankfully, I was almost down the hill. I don't care to share the last leg of my journey, except for one thought: "People actually have fun doing this?"

I've gone ice skating. I've fished in cold temperatures. I gone snow tubing. Even when I fall on ice or catch nothing or end up in a snow drift with my tube over my head, I still have a degree of fun in the process.

I enjoyed the time with my friends. Since they are in school and I'm writing, I don't get to see them very much. They supported me when I fell, and it wasn't figurative.

On that last run, however, they weren't there, but they found me. First-Aid followed. Thank you, Andy, wherever you are. The ice was lovely. As for the insurance form, yes, I am a beginner. Yes, I did learn to ski just today, and no, my falls were not one or two, but rather numerous-- frequent and body-shattering. No, I can't write that in? Okay.

I do not care to look at my legs today, and my arms hurt when I straighten them. I look like a battered wife, a mountain climber and a professional base jumper--not a skier. I think I'll stick to my 80-degree pool with water flowing over my skin, not into it at 30 mph.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2007

Sounding off

The pastor paused for dramatic emphasis after telling a sad story he'd heard in the news. The world was depraved. We knew it, but he wanted the congregation to let it sink into their groggy Sunday heads.

And then we heard it. The pause was tentative, just long enough for that sound to permeate the entire crowd.

Flatulence.

Who did it? We all knew the general vacinity and swiveled our heads accordingly. Maybe it was the elderly lady in the fifth row from the back. Maybe one of the young guys in the back. Maybe we'll never know.

Nevertheless, it was the most memorable part of the sermon--and for that matter--church. You hate to say that, but it was true.

I will admit, I couldn't stop laughing. It felt like heresy. The entire congregation seemed to shake the pews with their witheld laughter. Red faces, tears streaming down faces.

Then, once again, slowly, and with many reprisals of laughter, we turned to the sermon on self-control.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:45 PM | Comments (1)

February 5, 2007

Keeping up with busy nothings

In less than a month, I'll hopefully be ensconced in a tiny flat in Belfast with two of my dearest friends.

I've never been over the ocean.

There's excitement in my little corner of the world. Everything is on the cusp of something. The state of waiting has made me anxious about doing something. I hate to waste time. There's nothing to do but plow ahead.

I'm writing. I realized that my book-in-progress from last summer isn't total crap, as I'd thought it to be. I'm actually seeing the next step in the plot. It came after reading the whole story again. Distance--even the extreme of four months--is a good thing.

I've also been reading up on journalism. I can't say enough about A Writer's Coach by Jack Hart. EVERY journalism student should read this book.

And then there's Bolivia. I was accepted for an internship with WILPF. I'm doing a new media project for them using Flash. I plan to create an interactive map of the country with photos, facts and quotes in the context of water politics in the largely indigeneous country. If I save enough, too, I can attend the conference in July with my internship mentor. Did I mention it's held in Santa Cruz?

And I'm not forgetting the blog research I've been putting off. I'm starting in earnest--tomorrow. Oh, New York...


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:27 PM | Comments (1)

January 18, 2007

A few words on water

There's something incredibly alive about a community pool; whether it is the toddlers peeing in the shallow end or the bacteria growing between lap-swimmer Sam's toes, I'm not sure. There are people everywhere doing all kinds of activity. The bobbing of buoyant women doing aquaerobics beside me is rather funny and the 10-year olds learning butterfly make sucking noises in my underwater world that awaken a need to save lives.

I've rediscovered my love for swimming in the past month and I did it at my local pool. The pool isn't of Hollywood, or even suburbia, quality, but it's filled with water--and lots of people. The lanes are regulation-length, unlike Seton Hill's, so when I say I do a 500, I do 500 yards, not 350. I come for the lap swims, but there are sometimes two or even three classes going on at the same time. I am lucky to have a lane. I swim.

However, I catch myself concentrating on the people more than anything, even my workout. The parents on the stands, watching their little ones get fished out of the deep end, the lifeguards, in an edgy state of comotose, the aquaerobics women, talking above Little Richard's wails to "Good Golly Miss Molly."

It's all so alive, especially when you're under the quiet pull of the water, feel the sting in your stomach and suddenly a wall of sound as oxygen pours into your lungs. Alive, living. My ears hear it, and I can sense the flailing and crying, but inevitably return to my artificial blue again until my breath gives out.

Swimming is therapy for me. I push myself, but I know I'll never make an impression. The water will go back to what it once was and all the ripples I made will not matter. I will be changed because of its impression on me.

When I get down, I think about rivers and lakes I've visited and waterfalls I've seen. I think about how they flow long after I leave. I remember how I swam their depths and touched the bottom with my wrinkled fingers. I think about the way I was carried by their flow and not my strokes, though I thought it was me. I remember their life, quite apart from my presence. Those thoughts are with me now, as I wait, and float.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:45 PM | Comments (2)

January 4, 2007

A writing pick-me-up

I have a way of thinking the worst about myself; I think many writers do. Yesterday, I called the Tribune-Review to pick up some freelancing work. My message to the editor sounded like a robot on three shots of expresso.

I wish I would have started this book by Jack Hart before then. I picked up "A Writer's Coach" at the library about a week ago, and finally cracked it last night. Hart's background is what got me reading in the first place. A long-time editor for The Oregonian and an ex-college professor, he pairs his knowledge of theory with practice in an interesting blend of writing advice that speaks particularly to the journalistic craft.

In one section, I found the idea of writing a theme at the top of the Word document especially helpful. It is like writing a thesis, but it is never seen by the public. The public doesn't want to see a thesis; they want a story. He adds that the thesis can be altered, too, when more information proves it wrong. I would get stuck in the past sometimes when my theme or preconceived notion was proved wrong. I didn't know or think that I could change my direction and still have a viable story. Hart says you can, and should, and not make a big deal about it. Liberating stuff. I can't wait to start writing again with his advice fresh in my head.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:36 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2006

Diploma-see

In the past year, I've experienced a sampling of human emotion. I've given indications of pain, but also of happiness. I want to share one great moment of happiness in my life. I graduated on Monday evening in Cecilian Hall at Seton Hill University. I now have my degree--and some photos. And because I look like a rabid chihuahua in most of the snapshots, I have limited the photo selection. Please enjoy, despite the too-happy grin--and disregard the foaming mouth. haha

I don't think I was thinking that day. I watched television, got dressed and then went to graduate. In the car, I kept thinking about all of the news stories I'd read about would-be graduates getting killed on the road to commencement. Can journalists get poetic justice? :-) I hoped not.

There's a live feeling about graduating, folks, and a dead element, too. It's like you spend all of those months working, working, working--you feel dead--and then it all stops one weekend, and you're left watching Christmas films in your pajamas. You're alive with doing and being, but the moment escapes you because you have no more tears to give.

I think by March or April, I'll really understand and appreciate everything that happened in the past few months. I'll celebrate with the smiling woman in these photos, and I'll see that she is really me, and she really survived--everything. That's a heartening thought that I'll keep close to my heart.

grad2.JPGThe headshot my mom will most likely give to the newspapers.

grad1.JPGDr. Jerz, my trusty advisor, and I. He published a little reflection on my note concerning the Setonian keys.

grad3.JPGKarissa and I--I think I am going to the 2007 graduation in my cap and gown to get pics with my friends. We'll see...

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I love ma grande famille.

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The $80,000 sheet of parchment. Worth every dime, eh? :-D

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On my way-photo by Anne Stadler from Facebook

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:29 PM | Comments (6)

December 12, 2006

Flavor of the weeks

Since I don't have time to really go into any depth, and I would really like to give an impression of what this time in my life has been like, here's a little flavor of the past few weeks in my world.

10. I started taking a generic multi-vitamin I found in our medicine cabinet.
9. I was interviewed by Gateway newspaper icon, Edith Hughes.
8. I said goodbye to the Setonian.
7. I drove a food cart on the pothole-covered driveways of Seton Hill.
6. I assessed my performance as an English major, and commented on my ethical background as a reporter.
5. I began my final draft of my grad school essay for NYU.
4. I carried so many voluminous bags that I couldn't fit through a doorway--in heels.
3. I said something I wanted to say at the very moment I wanted to say it.
2. I ate a bunch of sweet purple grapes in an hour.
1. I stapled my last paper together and slid it under my professor's door.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:31 PM | Comments (2)

November 18, 2006

What I do when I'm not blogging

When I think back to my freshman year at SHU, I recall talking about blogging at length at lunch with my newfound friends, some of which still blog regularly.

The blogging trend at SHU has gone in and out several times. Sometimes I feel like I don't have a feel for the SHU blogs any more, but I have a lot going on outside the blogosphere.

I'm graduating in December for those who do not know. I just bought my cap and gown the other day. I'm taking the GRE for graduate school admittance next Friday. I am applying to New York University and Syracuse University for next year's admission.

This is a moment of turning in my life, and sometimes I am scared out of my mind, and others, so excited about the changes that are about to occur. My life is in the midst of metanoia. What an awful blessing.

So, when I'm not blogging, I'm living. It's an odd state. Sometimes I want to curl up with a good book, but there's living to do, and I'm the only one that can do it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:16 PM | Comments (3)

Charting new territory

In my rush for rocking interactivity, I decided to ad a chart to my Flash presentation. The chart, which I will cite from a book I read during my freshman year, has all of the original Catholic Social Teaching documents, their origins and what they address specifically concerning the CST canon.

However, I am not sure how I am going to make it interactive. I think I will make the Latin names links to the original documents online and the English translations links to the presentations within the Flash presentation.

This is one of the hidden parts of my presentation. It is on the last scene, and I want it to be the sort of capstone thing that the most "discerning reader" will find.

My intent is to make the boxes count themselves and when the reader finds all of them, on the final screen a message comes up about their level of CST awareness. Like: "You are almost there--keep looking" (if the reader finds almost all of them) or "You don't really know what you are talking about yet" (if only one thing was found).

The aim is to leave feedback about the presentation, but I want to know how aware they were about CST when they sent it. Through the game, I want to have their score listed in the feedback box, so I will know how much they interacted with the game's hidden content.

We'll see. There's much to do.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2006

A squirrel inheritance

On the women's retreat/conference I attended this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, I received an unexpected gift from an even more unexpected source.

A few years back, I noticed one of the ladies in my church women's group had a lovely accessory: a purse with squirrels on it. The squirrels were not just sitting on the purse, taking up imaginary oxygen, however; they were actually immersed in leaves and getting ready to climb a fabric tree to reach the beaded acorns above them--all on a beautiful suede fall day.

I told her how much I enjoyed the purse a couple of years ago in church, and didn't really think about it any more after that. She passed last year. At the conference we saw her daughters, and one of them said she had a surprise for me.

When I saw it, I was amazed. The squirrels were still there. The acorns. The fall day. All the same. She remembered not only me, but what I liked.

So, thank you, dear lady. I hope heaven is a little brighter for the smile you put on my face.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:32 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2006

Taking my break

I'm off to Philadelphia for the duration of October Break. Mike Diezmos and Athena Singer--two of the best of Philly pals ever--plan to show me the city and I project major fun. My mother has warned me to stay with the group (which is still endearing) and my dad kissed me goodbye. It's scary to think that will be happening a lot more if I move away. Anyway...time for fun.

FYI: I will not be checking my e-mail accounts--any of them. If anything astronomical happens, I am looking to the sky, rather than Gmail. If you want to know what's going on with me, try looking here.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:40 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2006

Top ten ways you know it's Setonian production week

I am the editor in chief of the Setonian. During production week, I live, breathe and worship all that is QuarkXpress, Adobe Photoshop, copyeditor's marks and the Associated Press Style manual. People don't really see me that much, that is, if you don't count the back of my head, which is turned in the direction of the glowing Mac in front of me. The same is true of the entire staff, as well. We immerse ourselves in interviews and photo ops.

I would like to offer a glimpse into our wonderful world at the lower level of Sullivan Hall. These are the top ten ways you know it's Setonian production week.

10. Someone will hit their head on a pipe, and hopefully live to hear the laughter of those who have done the same thing.
9. New (rather interesting) vocabularies will be discovered.
8. Something will come up missing--and be found. A template. A photo. A file. An article. You name it, we've lost --and found it--usually in the trash (both literal and Macish).
7. Valerie will crawl on the floor and/or gyrate in some fashion.
6. The entire staff will gasp at seeing Mike Rubino's cartoons for the first time, and elbow one another, as if to say, "Yeah, we're going to get in trouble for that, but it will be worth it."
5. At least one person will crawl through our lounge window and open the lower office door, violating every safety rule we supposedly should have in the space.
4.The Macs will speak. "It's not my fault," is my favorite phrase.
3. Another quote will be added to our list of best quotes ever. My favorite is by Chris Ulicne: "Make me look younger."--a faculty member of SHU "We can't work miracles."--Chris And yes, the Mac phrase has made the quote board.
2. Staff members--usually Lorin Schumacher and I--will have full conversations one-on-one with...ourselves. We usually think, when this is happening, that the other is talking to us. Laughter again ensues.
1. Staff members will burst out into song. Imagine this to the tune of "London Bridges Falling Down": "This is how we link the text, link the text, link the text. This is how we link the text, on QuarkX--pre--ess."

Though work on the newspaper is both fun and frustrating, I love it. I really do. I am amazed every time I see the paper come together piece by blessed piece. And when I look at it all, in its "almost finished" state, I see a miracle. I see student work and devotion right there in front of me--a product. The victory over time, technology and especially communication mishaps is tangible in the layout sheets I can hold and hope to see in newsprint in just three short days.

Great work, staff!

If you are interested in hitting your head on a pipe, adding a quote to our list, or actually doing work like taking photographs, writing an article, or working on the layout, e-mail us at setonian@gmail.com.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:30 PM | Comments (2)

September 6, 2006

Changes a'comin

When I think that I am (as of yesterday) poised to leave behind Seton Hill, I quake at the realization that my little life filled with libraries and classrooms and professors and family and friends and a home with a huge closet may be coming to a close. What I've waited my entire life to be and do is almost here. Who would've thought I'd feel fear rather than anticipation for the life I may lead?

I guess there's a lot on the table right now. And the gambling isn't for A's anymore. It's my Life, in the most startling technicolor I've ever seen.

I filled out my application for graduation yesterday. When I signed that form, stating December 2006 as a graduation date, I thought about all the things that could affect in my life very soon.

I can travel. I can work. I can go to graduate school. I can wait. I can. I can. I could screw up royally, and end up saying "Do you want fries with that?" or even worse, "Paper or plastic?" full-time. That is not saying that those jobs are "bad" or anything. I like a good Wendy's burger every now and then, but I know that wouldn't be right for me. :-)

Ah, much to contemplate. But I should be happy, right? This is the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one, or some such cliche.

I hope that in a year or so, I'll look back at this entry and grin. "I didn't need to worry," I may say, "I just wish that I'd spent more energy on faith than fear."

They say hindsight is 20/20, but I see clearly right now that I need to believe in everything worth believing that sustains, and not the what ifs that tear down my resolve to succeed.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:56 PM | Comments (1)

August 7, 2006

The stamp of camp

When I was 14, camp was the culmination of two things: a candy fundraiser of half-melted chocolates and gooey gummy worms and a summer of relative boredom. For me, camp held many things in store, including fast rides on the waterslide, a sweet tan on the beach, and a chance to try boating, as per the brochure. This time was no different.

Back then Camp Michindoh and my denomination, Open Bible made every slimy Hershey's bar I slapped into a customer's hand more than worthwhile and exceeded every expectation of summer fun and spiritual revival.

However, since my two trips Michindoh while I was in youth group, I had heard that church camp was going downhill with fewer campers and sad upkeep of the camp grounds. Sadly, before traveling this past week, I mentally prepared myself to reconcile my former memories of a bustling camp of noisy teens to a delapidated set of sheds inhabited by a few ghost children.

After pulling into the camp and seeing its intact and beautiful state under the now-stable new owners, I was uplifted; and hearing that 40 more campers than the previous year were enrolled was even better news.

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When we arrived on Monday the temperature spiked 100 degrees and at night, on my top bunk, around 110. The rayon fabric was about unbearable, but after throwing it off and sleeping on a sheet, I was okay. Thankfully, that was the one hot night the whole trip, but the days were another story.

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The next morning, I savored the first camp breakfast. Though camp food is always held right down there beside hospital and airplane fare, I am astonished at Camp Michindoh's quality for three meals a day all week. Needless to say, there weren't any calls home from Michindoh campers about going hungry.

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The day at camp is structured around worship and ministry services, so after breakfast, a morning service is held with songs and then the group is split in two. One group went with my church's affiliate college: EBC, for improv, skit and testimonial time and the other learned about Master's Commission, a nine-month Peace Corps-like program.

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After that service is lunch and then free time.

During my free time, I was doing this....

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Flying down the waterslide.

And this...
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Flying off the blob. Not shown in the picture is the pier--I jumped off one end, crawled across to the other side, and sat there with my legs bent. When Scott Radford, my church's youth leader jumped off the pier onto the blob, I was catapaulted. What a rush!

I also took part in an indoor volleyball game and a kickball game. Though I was on a winning team that swept the whole competition, I lost in kickball by two runs. Shucks. The camp PR team takes photos and videos of the entire camp experience, and captured me missing the kickball, my leg extended straight out and the ball underneath it. We got some laughs out of that one.

My church's boys got in trouble the third day of camp. They stayed out past the 12:30 curfew and were throwing waterballoons into girls' cabins. They were punished with kitchen duty. Here they are with their bus pans. For shame, gentlemen. :-)

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On Wednesday night, storms rolled in and the waterslide wasn't open for our night period. Though I wanted another chance to beat all the church boys down the waterslide (which I did the following night), the showing of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a great idea. How relaxing after a week of on-the-go action!

My favorite part of the week by far, however, was the last night of services. Everyone spent the entire week having a great time and getting plugged into what God is trying to say without distraction. The final night is a great time to just really listen and worship and that's what we did. We took communion and each counselor prayed over each camper and each camper over each counselor. As an adult, this meant a lot to me, but I can just imagine how special it was for the kids to be viewed as an individual and important to the church and to God.

Coming home is always a downer, but I think I brought home more than dirty tee-shirts and wet swimsuits--I brought back a renewed self in Christ. Time away from the madness of life and fun with friends is a great way to wind up the summer. And I went canoeing, climbed a big hill, swam in the algaefied lake and caught a glimpse of that embarrassing unmentionable...mission accomplished.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:06 AM | Comments (3)

July 29, 2006

More summer? Where did that come from?

I started this summer with some plans like take my first legal drink, go on a road trip with friends, write the beginning of a book, get published, begin the graduate school search, make a fully-functioning website, try something un-Amanda and watch lots of movies and read lots of books not pertaining to anything with a tutorial agenda.

Now, with the season in its dog days, I find I've done most of these things, but some remain illusive, such as go canoeing, hike a rather large hill, swim in a lake and another that I will not mention due to its embarrassing nature.

This has been an amazing summer, and I would be happy ending it with all of these wonderful experiences under my belt. However, as summer would have it, an amazing opportunity has presented itself. I'm off to camp. Next week I'll be traveling to my church's affiliate camp in Michigan to do all the things I've not done so far. Hopefully--I'm not quite sure the last objective I mentioned will happen, but who knows?

I think I will document this trip because it is such a great place to photograph and remember. I have some of my best memories of teenage angst from when I attended camp in junior and senior high school.

But this trip isn't all about me. I'm actually going to serve a purpose while I'm there, too. I'm not just a camper, but a bonafide camp counselor. I hope I won't lead the kids astray... I think I'm just there to make sure the shaving cream battles don't get out of control, but I'm preparing for anything. You know kids these days... ;)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2006

Amandae Domesticus

This is a new species--a hybrid of a curious me with perhaps innate feminine sensibilities which lean toward crafts, interior design and hunting & gathering.

This past week my top priorities were in some way connected to these three areas of domestication.

For the first area, I spearheaded a craft project: a cover-up for my beach adventure, which will commence today. I started it on Tuesday by cutting out the pattern--a borrowed 1970's pattern with a price of $1.75 price tag (versus today's approx. $5+ version).

My grandma and an older librarian helped me out with figuring out how to put the pieces together and to select a suitable fabric with the correct measurements. Though I did not get a cotton fabric, as I should have, the end result is very pretty with an art-deco chiffon feel of black, white and two shades of pink.

My mom wouldn't permit me to function her new sewing machine, however, so the sewing, much to my relief, was done by someone else. HA! It is a difficult fabric to sew. My mom said she doesn't want anyone looking at the seams closely because she was embarrassed with her work. I was proud; it's finished and functions beautifully. Next time I'll just follow fabric directions...

As for the second project, I have been working on the local bathroom. The project has gone on for about a month now, and I was getting extremely tired of it, but the end was near. The last thing to do was the baseboards, which I got another try at the power drill. I was a bit out of practice, however, and caught myself putting my entire weight behind the bugger and nada. Thankfully, my sister's boyfriend was there to, yes, help out the womenfolk. As if we needed it. We did. Thanks Nick! :)

The final thing on my list was to pick blackberries. They are finally in season. I wrote a story about a berry picking experience out of frustration because I missed them last year, and I have to go this year. I'm going to wait until I get back to pick some, though. Word is they're kind of puny this early in the season. I want my berries to plunk-plunk in my bucket and make that delicious hollow sound.

If people think I'm going to make cobbler and pie, however, think again. Amandae Domesticus is a failure hybrid in the kitchen on most occasions. Elements seem to combust when this species enters that realm of experimentation.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:05 AM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2006

Mission: Annoy people into loving Jesus

I don't usually get in strangers' faces, but the only time I felt compelled to do so is when Jehovah's Witnesses come a'tapping on my door.

The ones that frequent my area end up literally sticking their foot in the doorjamb to indicate how much they want to talk to you--inside. Um doesn't this scream Mafia?

My aunt and uncle have been caught in this trap before. They came in the house and wouldn't leave until their entire spiel was exhausted, and my uncle was polishing his shotgun--no, not really.

My response, however, is a little more direct, and sorry to say, rude. A few months ago, inundated with school work, I responded with: "I'm sorry I'm not into your cult thing, Thanks!" After that, they disengaged their foot, pushed some literature in my hands and stalked off. They probably were happy that I at least took something, which I may, someday, pick up and suddenly convert.

The distasteful scenario makes me happy to learn that someone ironically suggested turning the tables on these door-knockers. It makes me wonder if other people hadn't thought of it before. I mean, Jehovah's Witnesses live in communities, right? It would be incredibly entertaining to see a Satanist group storming the Kingdom Hall gate.

Though I understand the importance of sharing one's faith, I find the entire attitude annoying, and would suggest conversations in the normal places of discourse--like barber shops, McDonald's, Wal-Mart and the local PetSmart. People seem to have the most compelling conversations at these locales. Oh, and in rush hour traffic--on a cell phone.

I've received some interesting things from certain groups within my denomination, as well. My favorite(?) piece of missionary memorabilia I found lying on the sidewalk outside of Dick's Sporting Goods.

It was a $5 bill--or was it? No. It said, "Disappointed? Well, you should be if you haven't found Jesus." Of course I was disappointed, gas just crossed the $2.50 mark and I thought I just found money. I was angry at God for a second for creating stupid people that thought this would cause people to convert. :-) No, not really, but, with a background in communications, I cringed. Why, oh, why did everyone get access to editing software and $5 bills?

I keep it in my car's ash tray, though. I've fooled so many passengers into thinking they've found green in my car's ocean of poor maroon interior. Sometimes I find myself into thinking I am $5 richer, too. But really, even when I mistake that bill for money while waiting at the turnpike gate and laugh at my stupidity when it's not, I realize that infinite wealth lies at the base of these approaches. If only there were a tactful way, a tactful communications professional out there...

Missionary teams are so caught up in the mission that they ironically do not worry about their appearance in the public eye. Any philanthropic/religious endeavor needs the same finesse that a Fortune 500 company does for communications. Why doesn't anyone realize this?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:09 AM | Comments (3)

July 5, 2006

Holiday of remembering

This was a holiday to remember in every sense of the word.

So, amazing holiday in Amandaland. It all started in Shanksville on a very rainy morning. It was incredibly mushy and I was tired from working on a ceiling in our house that was falling and couldn't get up until 1 a.m. (but that is neither here nor there). However, the shots, in black and white came out nicely. Check out the old standard here.

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This is the field, and in the distance is the flag where the plane went down. The park service has plans for a permanent memorial. At the site, visitors can pick up a copy of the new architecturally-savvy design template.

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Each of the benches has the name of one of the American passengers aboard Flight 93, minus the names of the terrorists.

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The sad wall.

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Sweet sentiments, but America, spell-check, please, before marking any kind of public area.

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Artificial flower.

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Still praying for peace.

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Angels and flags.

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Sharing the memorial wall.

Moving on through the day, quite literally, we had lunch and traveled to nearby Somerset to visit the Quecreek Mine Rescue site. It's a beautiful spot, and contrasting the Flight 93 site and this memorial, there is and was a markable difference in tone, as there should be.

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This was at the Quecreek. Beautiful angel sillhouette.

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In the pipe for Plan 'B' of the rescue.

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Cute baby cousin makes me happy. I love photographing kids these days.

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More cute cousinage.

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Half the fun of outdoor photography is the outdoors. Daisy anyone?

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So this is "the hole." It has since been filled in, as we learned when we tried to throw rocks down in the shaft. Yeah, folks, you can throw rocks down it. Doesn't that scream another Baby Jessica?

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My cousin reads the messages the miners prepared for their families to find, now etched into stone.

After ice cream and a trip home, I found myself at Moira's, where I promptly met this kitchen species of squirrel. He holds spoons, whisks and the like. If squirrels can stand the kitchen, I'm thinking, maybe I will a little more, too. Moira, I had a great time, by the way. Thanks for the invite.

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Great Fourth of July. Great fun. It's great to be free.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:57 PM | Comments (8)

July 3, 2006

Stuck-uh-oh in stucco

Stucco is a glue-like compound which is ideally applied to flat surfaces for the effectual purposes of texturizing the area.

My surface is not flat. The post-apolcalyptic wallpaper took care of all that. My summer project is to remodel the bathroom and I'm finding the endeavor more and more difficult.

I began about a week ago with tearing down the yellowed early 90's wallpaper and purchasing my first heavy tub of stucco (not stuck-o or stuko, just stucco). The first application was a medium blend my mother promptly told me was wrong, that is, after I applied the entire bucket.

However, all was not lost. This prompted her to take some action and she bought more proper, correct stucco for the ghastly walls, devoid of color and feeling for the novice interior decorator, namely--me.

So application went a bit better the next time. We have a trowel, but I hate it. I didn't buy a texturized roller that the Busy Beaver guy suggested, so to get the texture necessary for a beautiful room, I have to, literally, feel up the room. I use my palms and pat/smack/pound the walls until the wall looks like a huge Dairy Queen confection.

If one would stick their head in while I'm working, one would think I've been hugging the still-elusive, yet melting abominable snowman. The job is getting done, however; I only have two small walls and some touch-ups to do.

Next comes paint. We've chosen, after much deliberation "Belle Grove Aloe Green." Mint-green, really, but I guess someone has to have a job naming paint.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:13 AM | Comments (4)

June 22, 2006

Tanning antics

I'm not what one would call a sun goddess. I am rather chalky most of the year. I do not "go tanning" in booths or beds. I pump SPF 345 on like a nouveau riche armed with her first botte of Chanel No. 5.

I do not like to turn into a peeling radish. I want to skip the wrinkles I've seen on so many women aging after years in the sun. So I avoid the sun these days, only to imbibe when my Vitamin D is lacking. I like a good walk in the forest, a good bike ride or two, but "laying out" is not my cup of tea. It's boring, it's stupid, and just not fun if there's not a pool around.

However, I am pasty. Thus according to society's standards, which sometimes count, I am unhealthy looking. So I've tried self-tanner--this kind. I was amazed a.) at how interesting it is to see yourself turn a totally different color, b.) to see how far my arms could reach across my back--in circular motions, mind you and c.) at how long it takes for the stuff to dry completely.

I also love fooling people into the fake.

"Wow! Amanda, you're really getting dark! Did you lay out this week? You usually burn, what did you do differently this time?"

"Um, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm a bottle tan, and I also have an affinity for alliteration. Incredible isn't it? That I, a self-proclaimed blogging bum and rapacious reporter, would go so far as to fake out the gods of sun and mimic ultraviolet splendor on skin? and win? Oh yeah, I'm big on assonance, too.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:55 PM | Comments (3)

May 31, 2006

A few summer slanders

So the summer has been treating me well. Everything is in neat little tidbits, so I think I'll just share some of them in numbered format.

1. I think I've fallen in love with bike riding. I ride my bike almost every day now. At dusk, when everything is fragrant and cool, I hop on and drive to some favorite spots, including, but not limited to, a local fishing hole.

2. I'm thinking of buying a canoe. A nice rickety one.

3. Mom flushed her keys down a toilet at Walmart. She had a wad of keys; I mean, a wad. Poof! or should I say Flush! and they were gone--down the powerful automatic toilet. She called me and I laughed really loud...at the library. I swear I should be fired.

4. I ate half a bag of tropical style trail mix. Gosh, I love those cranberries, and the cashews, and the pineapple....maybe I'll get another bag.

5. Two of the family cars were temporarily out of commission. Outcome: I drive a lot more, and find out where my mother's dentist office is and several local garages in definitively shady areas.

6. I was published on Sunday. The article wasn't posted online, but I have it in print. "History, Set in Stone" was in the Fay-West Life section of the Sunday Trib. The story focuses on a local furnace that is being refurbished by a local historical society. I took the pics on my battery-sucking digital. I like photography in color.

7. I'm writing more. Today I received several ideas from my editor. Woo hoo. I get to work from home in my pajamas. Sorry to say it, but it is better than the office job. I liked the ambiance of the news desk, but feature reporting is more self-oriented and I like pushing myself this way.

8. I cleaned my guppies' mug o' water today. That's right, I have guppies. I can't wait until they grow up and bite my cat's tongue as he licks their water's surface. Right now, they're just kitty hors d'oeuvres.

9. I'm reading a werewolf book right now. I told one of the librarians that one of my professors thought the inclusion of a werewolf in a piece of writing mucks everything up (I'm paraphrasing), and she was intrigued and challenged to find a piece that would prove him wrong. Currently, Blood and Chocolate isn't impressing me, what with its extended metaphors of dog behavior and the emphasis on the passion of werewolf sexual activity, but I'm giving it its due. Interesting premise of a girl caught between two worlds, but with its high school protagonist, I'm wondering if it is not some thinly-veiled attempt to angstitize werewolfishness right along with the teenage age group. Muddled, but I'm fighting my way through it. Colloquial writing, but overuse, and often unfunny inclusion, of the word "bitch."

10. Have big sunglasses. I got them from my church's rummage sale for 25 cents. I like walking around like Paris Hilton and say "like" and "oh my gosh are those Dolce and Gabbana!" when wearing them. I've been told I look like a bug and called "four eyes."

11. Watched X-Men: The Last Stand. I can't believe how sad I can get about movies. Especially ones where people have claws and can alter the weather just by making their eyes cloudy.

12. Poison Ivy has struck once more. Only in three spots, though. However, when people see my left leg or shin or my left elbow area, they freak and call me "LEPER!" No, they really don't, but they all ask me what happened and I want to shout back, "I was MAULED!" I don't. I simply say that I was weeding for some odd reason and I grabbed a three-leafed plant and rubbed it in three areas with all my might. No, I don't do that either. I just, for real, look sad and take the advice I know is coming: "Don't touch it." I always do.

13. Am hot. The fan and air-conditioners have been kicked up a notch and BAM! I'm still sweltering. It's good, though. I'd chose this over a winter snow any day. I felt bad for all those construction guys alongside the road, shoveling in an asphalt hole today. I wonder if air-conditioned tee-shirts and pants are marketed?

14. Was digusted over a Diurex or Ex-Lax commercial touting weight-loss benefits. I've seen far too many cases of women dehydrating on that stuff to find it as a good and even legal selling point of that drug. If anyone has seen that commercial or knows where I can find a copy of it, please leave a link. I would love to write a full blog on that.

15. Bought a $3.00 dress. It's beautiful.

That's about it for now. Snapshot slideshow of GMW over. Please look under your seat before leaving and have a nice day. Comments welcome. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:13 PM | Comments (3)

May 25, 2006

Amanda's PC System Preferences: Be a good Dell (and I won't kill you)

I consider myself a patient person. Though my family and friends may say otherwise, I think I am. I can be patient when the person in front of me in line counts out $16.25 in pennies and nickels. I can wait in hour-long lines at theme parks. I can even refrain from using language against my fellow motorist who just took my turn at a four-way stop.

But what I can't do, what really feels like someone is pulling flesh from my skin, inch by inch, is wait on my computer to load a simple program like Word. I have even downloaded OpenOffice.org software on my computer, hoping things would speed up--but no. To get to my old files, OpenOffice must go through my crap Word to retrieve the originals.

So today, after almost four years of owning my Dell, I was ready for war. I slashed and hacked at default programs I never have or never will use. I deleted. I searched through setting after setting to figure out what the heck was slowing down my system.

It was the system. XP, with all its annoyingly comic graphics and decorative windows, was slowing down my computer to a molasses-in-wintertime pace. My computer is now switched to "traditional view" with all the gray boxes. I revel in the grayness, though. The gray is magnificent! I wave the gray over the spoils of fast windows and a speedy delivery of information.

A war was won today, and I did a celebratory prance, but now I'm quickly off to yet another struggle. The biggest epic lies within Word--against myself and the words. AH! Will the madness never cease?!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:11 PM | Comments (3)

May 24, 2006

A clean drink: Propel

I revel in not buying groceries. I love when my mom or dad comes home, beeps the horn for the whole house to carry in the bags from the car. I'm more and more suprised, however, these days when I open those bags.

Health foody stuff. Pitas. Turkey. Low-cal cottage cheese. And now, the kicker: Propel "Fitness Water." It is the flavored stuff. We have peach. It is fine going down and the Nutrition Label is pretty impressive, but when you finish your gulp the inevitable taste of...soap suddenly soaks in on your tongue.

I'm not an avid soap-eater. I mean, not any more than the next kid who said a slew of four-letter words to their grandmother.

But I was suddenly transported back to that time when finishing my Propel. I thought it was a fluke so I took another gulp. Same soapy feeling. I'm guessing it is the flavoring or one of the injected vitamins. Vitamin E probably--like in most beauty bars that grandmas keep in their showers. In fact, per bottle of propel, 30% of your daily intake of Vit E is taken care of.

I guess I'm okay with vitamins. I'm just not sure how I feel about them being mixed in with what the company calls water. I feel like some kind of genetically-engineered person now. Water is not enough; I must have vitamins in with that too.

The Propel, I think, was bought at a local bargain outlet, though. So maybe it has been on the shelf too long. Now the implications of that might be very interesting. The vitamins go bad and attack!!! It soaps the windshields of my stomach, the windows of my intestines.

The expiration date is okay, but the products at Gabes are sometimes defective. Maybe this vitamin-enriched water is defective. Can they do that?

Propel isn't that new of a concept, though. Other brands like Fruit2O and even Sam's Club fizzy water do the same thing, but they aren't necessarily filled with vitamins. But in people's homes this kind of water might even be coming out of the tap. I've heard about fluoride-enriched water in certain areas. While the consensus is that fluoride is good for you, this website says otherwise, citing various studies on the subject.

I just don't know what to think. I just don't know. But I'll probably hold my nose when I finish my next guzzle of Propel.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

Braced for a fall

I'd decided to let my hair down. Literally. Wind whipped through my hair and I was at peace, except for the thought of a semi driving up behind me and clipping my bike tire. I would veer off the road into a jagger bush, die after snapping my pale neck and make the evening news. The semi driver would say how sorry he was to my family and I would be dead all because I wanted to ride a bike.

So my mind is a little fanciful these days, but not much different than back when: fly, crash.

I've been a bike rider for years. I suppose many of us have. It wasn't an easy thing, though.

When my mother wants to embarrass me, she recalls the numerous times I ran my bike into the same stretch of fence near our house. Each time I would try, the bike would, like a magnetic force field, take me to that same crash point.

I, personally, do not know why I was even trying there, anyhow. My dad would hold the seat, running alongside down a hill, and I would try pedalling. Pedalling like this is impossible, however. I knew when he let go every time. His whooshing breath would grow distant and his shuffling step would stop in the burnt summer grass. Just when I would get the pedals back under my feet and get a rhythm, I would freak out. I had to get off. I would let go of the pink handlebars and start the jump off a second too late, inevitably crashing under sun-stained black-eyed susans.

My younger sister learned to ride her bike before me. Embarrassing stuff for a seven-year-old.

I needed to learn it alone. I would practice by myself on the cement driveway by our house. It wasn't a momentous event when I finally flew down the sidewalk. Just about damn time that girl learned.

It's in moments like that relatives seem to pass judgment on a your athleticism for life or, better yet, if you finally contracted that congenital disease they knew you possessed. I seemed to have passed both fairly well-- I guess.

Riding my bike this past week, the chain slipped off the front gears and I was pedalling nothing. I didn't fall, but had to push the aluminum farce up the hill back home. I hung my head in shame to passing motorists, but laughed too, at how long the black-eyed susan garland had decorated my hair.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:48 AM | Comments (1)

April 26, 2006

Hanging by the PDF File

It's the last issue of the Setonian for the year. Something has to go wrong, right?

It did.

Tomorrow the 16-page edition is supposed to come out, but it was all in jeopardy this morning.

My foot was in an earthquake. A .2 on the Richter, so I knew it wasn't tectonic plates beneath Seton Hill shifting, just my sanity about to crumble. Anxiously, I watched the phone blink blue, blue, blue, until the voicemail picked up the dastardly message. My printer's smooth voice began, but something was wrong--very wrong, something like, "You have to give me a call RIGHT AWAY. We did not receive one of your layouts!" spewed forth from my track phone that seems to deliver two things: death messages and more bad news.

Anyway, Oh MY FREAKING COW. My trusty printer. My trusty printer, calm under every circumstance, was freaking out before my very stinging ears. His voice high and deep on different syllables of each digitized word of the urgent voicemail. This was serious. A PR sales person did not know what to do! Stop the presses! I mean start them...START THEM QUICK!

I sent and resent our files to the printer, but it could not recognize the username and password. PDF files take a while to process, even on the superfast, yet schizo Macs, so I spent a considerable amount of time praying to God, and the Great IT Department in the sky. Nothing seemed to work.

After four calls with the customer service rep and three passwords later, she called to tell me that she hated to admit a mistake, but they had made one--they found the file on the original upload I sent yesterday.

No bitterness--I think...Just relief. Blessed, blessed relief.

So we are getting our 16-page issue. I am not losing my mind. I've also seriously contemplated that I am developing an ulcer the size of Rhode Island in my stomach. I also need some outdoor exercise...

Just one more adventure in the life of an editor-in-chief. I love this job. Thank God it's almost done for this year. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:30 PM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2006

Promo-blog

Interesting tidbit--my blog on the hoagies--my mom told the owner about it, printed it out...and it is now being framed for public display at the shop. HA! :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)

April 11, 2006

Funny Fotographee

Out in Blogger Land, I spotted this interesting post...love the shots.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 7, 2006

Old Cat

My cat snores.
He is snoring now.
He sounds like an old man in a green La-Z-Boy.
Can cats drool?
My cat is around 102 in people years or something.
What would my cat look like with a long white beard?
Like Gandalf?
It would compliment his tail tip.
His cat friends would say he is too matchy, though.
Shoes, gloves, vest and tail?
An old, fashion outcast.
And he snores.
Tragic.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:51 AM | Comments (4)

April 6, 2006

My first Stephen King

I've never read a Stephen King book. Ever. And instead of writing my reflection on what kind of writer I am, and shirking my Media Lab portfolio assignments, I am cuddled up with "A Haunted Love Story" a la THE GUY of Horror--or so I've been told.

I am a big scaredy cat when it comes to horror...or at least I was when I watched What Lies Beneath, had nightmares for a week and feared the tub for a few days. The closest I've come to horror is the Scary Movie atrocities and the occasional Lifetime Movie. Substandard movies shouldn't be the basis for my opinion of a genre, right? So I'm ready to delve in and break the horror curse that I've built up. I think. I can deal with this character of horror divinity.

So I picked up Bag of Bones. Good, old-fashioned mainstream horror. I can deal with that. And no visuals...I mean...oh jeez, I'm going to be scared to death, aren't I?

This story is going to get into my head and stick there. I know it. And then I'll be hooked on terror. Or repulsed. The writing is well-done, to say the least, but the subject matter--oh the horror! I'm halfway through the first chapter. I'm not stopping. I'm not.

I may be overreacting. I may have found a new favorite genre. We'll see. And I'm not going to base my opinion just on this book. Maybe I'll expand my horizons or more appropriately, my shadowy, underworld otherworld literary connections.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 4, 2006

Call for office hope

I sit in an office and tap at the keys. It's often a lonely job. It's often a fun job. It's often a rewarding job. But it's still a job.

It's not like running through the fields and frolicking. It's not like canoeing through aqua waves. It's not like pedaling down a dusty country road on a warm afternoon. It's like papercuts and postage. Penny-pinching and process.

It's writing. In all its forms. I've been doing a lot of it lately, and frankly, I'm a little disenchanted.

I think when the weather finally breaks, I will stick my dry-skinned nose into the sweet air and breathe deep. I will fall asleep on the Seton Hill hillside. I sink my feet in the mud and rejoice. I will listen to the birds nesting and calling in the evening to me as I walk to my little car in the farthest parking lot.

I will rest. I will dream again. I will let the waters ebb and flow, connect and disconnect, and reach me once again.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:41 AM | Comments (3)

March 16, 2006

Words, words, words.

Eat words. (Cheerios--but it's always "ooooooo." Maybe I should invest in Alpha-Bits.)
Spell words. (Or the spell-checker does it 4 me.)
Find words. (The right ones that will be on the test. Words Anonymous I will find you!)
Check words. (Copy editor, editor Pick up a Setonian!)
Clean words. (Dirt spews forth in distress.)
Right words. (Stop! Say the things that uplift and encourage. WTF is wrong with you?)
Write words. (Flow like a river? a drunk's puke? I guess it varies. The day. The hour. The fear.)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:48 PM | Comments (1)

March 11, 2006

Hallelujah Hoagie: Religious consumption of The Coppula

Every Saturday I eat the same thing. It is not out of habit. It is not because I am relatively poor (although I need not worry about the price). It is because I dearly love The Coppula Hoagie.

Hoagies are my thing. I've loved them since I could order my own toppings at Subway (black olives, please) or when my mom would roll down the car window and buy one from a fireman selling them precariously in the middle of Main Street.

However, there isn't a hoagie like a Coppula's. Anywhere. Believe me, I've tried. They could start a hoagie monopoly with that place. I'd keep coming though.

I just bought one this afternoon at their shop in the Mount Pleasant Plaza. The family-owned restaurant, while covered in 70's paneling and splotched with artificial flowers, is a charming little nook, filled with the owner's golf memories and older gentlemen patrons that smile at me when I come in. That's kind of gross, actually...Oh well, for this lunch ($2.95, by the way), I could take any number of old-man smirks and even a few whistles.

While Coppula's has traditional Italian dishes on hand for lunch like pasta fasul or wedding soup (the Italian is redundant--I don't think they even put it on their signs), I order the hoagie every time. It's all my mother's fault. We'd buy two and my sister and I would share one. I remembered licking the olive oil from my fingers and wanting a whole one to myself. I eventually did, but I was very full. Sated, I believe is the right word.

What is this legendary hoagie, precisely? Well, I'm glad my invisible reader asked. It's salami, ham, sandwich pepperoni, lettuce, onion, always-ripe tomato, garlic and olive oil on a homemade Italian roll--I think. I've already eaten half of a hoagie before I even realize it. Dissection, after all, is about depreciating the value of the whole experience, and I chose not to do so on any occasion.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:40 PM | Comments (7)

February 18, 2006

Fever's flame, ouch

Feverish days give way to inconsistent thoughts and misgivings. I am convinced that sickness is Satan.

I've somehow swallowed an icicle that doesn't seem to melt unless I a.) take a hot shower b.) turn my electric blanket on the highest setting.

There's much to do. With so many writing courses and a Setonian to produce, I'm running on "E", now in front of many people. Yesterday, I sent out the production schedule, but realized I forgot the attachment. On the next e-mail, I apologized to the staff and meant to send it, but forgot. Finally, on the third try, I sent it. Pathetic.

I spent an entire morning with amnesia. Did I have a class at 11 or was it 10, and if it was 10, should I go into class?

I left my bag, coat and keys in the hallway at school. Thankfully they were still there. Is it okay to lose your mind temporarily?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:25 PM | Comments (6)

February 12, 2006

Scan and sweep: Word overview of Girl Meets World

It's my blog, SnapShirts style. They scan your blog and pick out the most prevalent words.

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This can really give you an idea of where your priorities are...at least in a blog anyway.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:58 PM | Comments (1)

February 4, 2006

The creative semi-comotose

The words begin to string together on the page. The thoughts fly freely through your mind, almost before you begin dreaming. THAT--that moment--right there. That is when my best ideas form.

I woke up this morning with my best short story idea yet.

Today, I read Wordsworth and feminist author, Ruether, with more insights that I ever had when fully coherent. Could reaching a semi-comotose state so that thoughts can fly free be a part of textbook writers' strategy? I knew that Norton Anthology had something up its sleeve.

The last part is all in jest, but really, falling asleep to a text's subject, even if it is something I am interested in, results in ideas, notes in margins and even the occasional highlight.

This brings me to my next observation. Reading anything makes me tired. Whether sitting up in a chilly library or reading in bed under the feather comforter, the same reaction results: drooping eyes, nodding head and/or drool. No, I'm kidding, but that would be funny, wouldn't it?

When are you most creative? Coffee-infused? Alcohol-induced?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:54 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2006

It's life...comparatively

So I haven't died or anything. Just took a break. Now, though, I'd like to share some of my break, and my first day back--comparatively.

Typical 10 of a day on break.
10. Wake up. Around ten or so.
9. Eat something high in calorie count, and generally chocolate-related.
8. Read something. Finish For Whom the Bell Tolls between girl power novels.
7. Clean something, you slob. That mountain of unwashed linen will fall eventually.
6. Watch something--practically anything with a plot. Wildfire, Judging Amy, Amelie or any film noir will work.
5. Okay, I've run out of things I did....maybe I should go back to school now.
4.
3.
2.
1.


Back to SHU. The unpredictable is norm.
10. Jabber endlessly about plans, because you really don't have anything going on yet.
9. Listen with a blank, stern expression. Impending doom. The sting of syllabi. Take it like a woman!
8. Stealthily slink to the bookstore. Steal book ISBN numbers for online pillaging. (No stealing actually occurred. I'm just a bargain hunter.)
7. Hike up a stair mountain. You've taken more steps today than you have the entirety of break.
6. Fight with an umbrella. It's pretty, but it doesn't seem to want to close. "Don't put me away; I'm blue, and I like showing it."
5. Conceal laughter by placing hand over mouth. Is it unprofessional to howl in class?
4. Smile to have a place to be and things to do.
3. Run four yellow lights on my way to school--okay, and maybe one red.
2. What am I doing blogging? I have homework to do. Okay, I have time to finish this.
1. Laugh for no reason, but with so many reasons. I have class with so many friends from freshman year. It's great we are finally reuniting in the upper-level courses. I can't wait to see what happens.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:17 PM | Comments (4)

January 5, 2006

Hearts in the highlands:
Scotland in jeopardy

Scotland is in jeopardy. Not the country, but the trip. If only 2 more people would sign up...

I'd heard about the trip and course, Political Song as Public Voice- CA 410, throughout the semester from the jolly professor, Dr. Frank Klapak.

However, initially I did not think I could swing the tuition and traveling funds ($2,050), but surprisingly, with some (rather simple) maneuverings in the Financial Aid Office, I secured them for the May Term extravaganza.

You see, the financial aid is attached to the Spring semester, so I do not have to pay for the trip out of pocket. It joins the rest of my loans on their wonderful trip to the subsidized pile I pay after graduation.

Though paying for this trip is a sometimes depressing thought, I realized that taking trips after I have a career will be more difficult. This is the time to invest in traveling. I'm young, I'm single without children, and I'm living with my parents (no plants that will not be watered while I'm gone).

The course sounds fantastic, and it's definitely not for music majors only. Political Song as Public Voice CA 410 (from the catalog):

"is designed to introduce the student to Political Song (folk, campaign, protest, union, war, nationalistic, patriotic, contemporary, etc.) as a viable and chronological reflection of the cultural and social circumstance during social/political conflict. Students will participate in online learning, conduct investigation on individual thesis topics at the Center, and explore the social, cultural, and political institutions at Glasgow and Edinburgh."

The best part is that it works for any major. It is tailored to you.

"Each student, regardless of her/his major, will work within the design of the course and the focus of Political Song as Public Voice. But each student will adapt this design to incoporate the principles, tenets, and foundations of their major when examining how Public Voice is represented within their discipline."

So what does all that mean for a journalism, English lit, or creative writing major? You can assess the voices in the songs according to the various forms of literary criticism, practice looking behind the scenes into the lives of the composers and writers, and permit yourself, above all, to actually stand and see the places that inspire so much literary beauty.

The trip is scheduled for May 16-24, 2006. The class begins on May 12 and does not conclude until the 31st.

The course evaluation includes

"attending workshops, lectures, presentations, discussions, activities, experiential learning events; and online presentations. Final assessment will include a personal journal, and a scholarly paper that reflects the accomplishment of each student's learning objectives determined during the first online meeting.

The class is three credits, so if you're needing them, this would be a wonderful opportunity. Not to mention the great time, wonderful real-life experience, a chance to go to another school--Glasgow Caledonian University, and an amazing recommendation of travel abroad on your transcript.

So, if you are even tinkering with the idea of Scotland, don't hesitate to e-mail me. (This was, after all, a grand advertisement to get two more people to come on the trip, :-)) I'm sure I could answer some questions for you, and get you in contact with Dr. Klapak for more information.

I hope this works out. I'm so excited to get my passport!

Picturesque , sublime, SCOTLAND!!!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)

December 28, 2005

Ever-present (useless?) disclaimer

This is an amusing disclaimer from Netmeme:

Bryan's thoughts, news, links, and interesting photos. [This is my personal weblog, and does not represent the opinions of my employer. It may not even represent my own opinions a year from now.]

The same applies to Girl Meets World. The same applies to Girl Meets World. The same...I like to repeat that a few times to create an artificial safety net around myself and the writing I do here. I never thought writing on my blog could endanger my future, but I'm coming to understand that it certainly may.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2005

Christmas Even

If you can stand a little more yuletide, check out my Christmas Eve creation.

My mission: Make dinner and dessert for the family for Christmas Eve.

The plan: Get recipes from library. Try not to burn down plantation (or house, as it were).

The recipes: Mama D's Old-Fashioned Italian Chicken Parmesan. Buche de Noel (Yule Log for us non-French types).

The outcome: I didn't take pics of the chicken parm because, well, we all know what it looks like. My yule log was much more photogenic.

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The batter was thick. I let the mixer do the work.

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I couldn't believe some eggs, sugar, flour and some other ingredients could do this. It was great to see it start to fluff up.

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This was my icing for the log's center. I wanted it red, but dang that coloring, it just made it pink. Oh, well.

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After creating chocolate leaves and scoring the icing with a fork, my finished creation was a yule log. I was surprised to hear my sister say, "Wow, it really looks like a log." In the past, it has been, "Whoa, what is that?"

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I can't believe I took so many pictures of me and "the log". I think I was on a cooking pride euphoria.

Dinner went well. The chicken parm was good and the salad was pretty with parsley on top. We reeked of garlic, as usual.

Christmas was grand, but I liked the Christmas Eve night celebrations best. We read from the Bible and switch our Secret Santas. It's when we can reconnect as a family. I really look forward to that after weeks and months of hectic schedules.

Another great Christmas.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:49 PM | Comments (2)

December 20, 2005

I've become a cinema bitty

As many already know, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, and I have seen every movie adaptation that has been produced.

How amazing that another, starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, should come out so quickly after the A&E version.

So I had to see it.

I went to the matinee this afternoon. I was the only woman in the theater under 50. One elderly gentleman came along with his wife to the decidedly chick flick showing.

I loved every moment of it, especially the pre-showing chatter.

When a National Guard advertisement came on, I thought about the propaganda I'd recently looked at in Public Opinion and Propaganda from the 40's. A little later when the advertisement, I heard over the film switch to previews, one lady say, "It's just like during the War. Their trying to get people to enlist."

As for the film, it was cut up in certain spots due to time constrains; however, I thought the telling was beautiful, though a bit serious. Jane Austen has a whimsy that is accompanied by serious implications. I didn't see that in Knightley's performance. She smiled a lot, for sure, but she smiled for show--very unlike Elizabeth Bennet.

The A&E version still tops my list of Pride and Prejudices (I've seen nearly all 10 or so of them). It is one of the longest, but it is very true to the story.

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the A&E version has the versatility of tenderness and haughtiness that is demanded of the character. This Matthew MacFayden (Mr. Darcy) in the 2005 telling was a bit more simpering, without the stern veneer. I think the time constraints of the film made him fall a little too easily to love.

There wasn't the struggle of pride and prejudice in this film, it was more like a grand misunderstanding.

I did enjoy the camera work, however. Though it did make me dizzy when Elizabeth is swinging on a tire swing to show time's progression in a cyclical manner, overall it was fantastic.

I'll be honest about this story. There isn't a lot of action like car chases or trips in flying objects; it is about people and their relationships. The camera speaks far more eloquently than the dialogue. The lens is Austen's voice and it is fastened on Elizabeth, and subsequently on Darcy. The struggle (when there is one) is discerned by the faces flying in and out of focus.

I laughed at Austen's signature lines, but they were not acted in the same amusing way. I think the director took his job a bit too seriously, but it was interesting to see it done another way. I just don't prefer it that way.

It ended well for love, as usual. The final scene was a bit more lovey dovey than other versions, but that was nice too. I think everyone who sees Pride and Prejudice is left wanting a little more romance from the characters so stiff in the era's propriety. This one delivered.

Before I left, I heard the women behind me talking. One said, "Back then, there wasn't one date, and then go to bed on the same night."

I had to smile. No, no. There certainly was not.

Courtship was an artform, and only those that chose to take risks could choose for love. Cinema bitty or not, this story is timeless, and I'll never get sick of it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:21 PM | Comments (2)

December 18, 2005

100 Things About Me

This is fun. I've seen this done on other blogs, and I thought I'd give it a try.

I'd love to read yours...If you do write one, drop a comment so I can read. :-)

1. I scream Marroon 5 songs down the highway.
2. Sometimes when doing said no. 1 thing, I forget that I am also driving and swerve across my lane.
3. I haven't been pulled over for a sobriety test, but I have been for speeding. I beat the ticket.
4. I believe everything tastes better with cheese on it. Except candy.
5. When I write poetry, the best stuff isn't about profound things like love and sadness; it is more often in reference to things like laundry, cooking and squirrels.
6. After I watch a movie, I do my hair like the film's heroine.
7. Sometimes I talk like her too--especially when she has a British accent.
8. I despise dogs that jump on your legs and smell your crotch.
9. I am unlucky enough to have two of them.
10. Something tells me that God created electric blankets for people like me who despise wintery weather.
11. When I see squirrels scampering about, I think, "Yes, the world is good."
12. I love plants, but I usually under or over water them. My cactus is hanging on, though.
13. Sometimes I smile when I hear something witty because I have nothing witty with which to respond.
14. I like books. I really do, and I enjoy opening them under the Christmas tree. The paper-on-paper crackling is a blessed sound.
15. Hangers are evil. Something better, I've decided, should be made to put up the clothing that lines my closet.
16. I love to swim and dive and jump and go boating and do nearly anything that permits water as the focal point of activity.
17. My To-Do list has never beaten me.
18. I've been to nearly half the states in the U.S. and I am going to Scotland soon.
19. I'm not motivated enough to be a fiction writer and I'm too neurotic to be a daily news writer. Feature news and investigative stuff is right for me.
20. Fish and seafood is not on my menu--ever. Marine biology was a dream and I grew to love them very much. I don't want to eat Shamu-esque things.
21. I bite my nails.
22. I detest it when bleached-blond girls chew gum.
23. I am a walking hurricane. In all, I've broken 10 priceless pieces of my mother's family heirlooms, not to mention the other 15 pieces of junk (I mean decorative items) she leaves lying around the house.
24. I write in my diary only when I am sad.
25. I listen to country music and even once thought I would go to Nashville to get a record deal.
26. I want to fall in love again.
27. I love falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing.
28. When I dance with someone and ask their name, I immediately forget it.
29. I watch the Oscars for 2 reasons: Best Picture and the dresses.
30. Sometimes I am disappointed by both.
31. I never know when someone is lying.
32. Blogging is an obsession/habit.
33. I am organized.
34. I've named my stapler (Dorian Gray) and plant (Norbert), but not my car.
35. My nicknames include: Cheetah, Manda, Medusa, Dappen and Sassy.
36. The Mona Lisa speaks volumes to me. Her smile is an inspiration.
37. I heart coffee.
38. I heart chocolate.
39. Someday I want to write for Newsweek and have a beach house on the South Carolina shore.
40. I want to protest.
41. When I get my own place, I am going to buy the soap and shampoo I like.
42. I do whatever I can (that's legal) to not pay for music.
43. I will literally jump for joy when I get my own business card.
44. My favorite movie is sappy.
45. I don't clean under the rug. In fact, I push things underneath it.
46. When I am concerned about others, I usually screw up easing their pain because I get nervous.
47. I like blowing bubbles on the bank of a river.
48. I blow bubbles in my chocolate milk.
49. Long showers make my mornings worth the waking.
50. I believe in the power of dressing well.
51. I belive in living up to your own expectations--and raising them periodically for a new challenge.
52. Jane Austen and I are on the same wavelength.
53. I dislike being hunted, but I hate hunting.
54. A liberal education and my faith are constantly at odds with one another. I'm trying to settle them quietly.
55. Ribbons are my favorite accessory.
56. I hate purses--especially when you really need a big bag to do the job.
57. I like luggage, though; especially when it makes that rolling sound behind you when you're gliding through an airport.
58. G-Mail makes me happy.
59. My muse goes on vacation often. I flounder in her absence.
60. I adore using large words in small documents.
61. When I wake from a dream, I either forget them immediately or remember them for a lifetime.
62. I actually do choose a book by its cover.
63. I get lost when people start talking about their favorite alcohol.
64. I am afraid of jellyfish and snakes. Worms aren't too high on the list of most-beloved creatures, either.
65. New Years' is my favorite holiday.
66. I have a July birthday,
67. Which is fabulous because summer my favorite season.
68. I keep papers long after I need them, and throw away the ones I need.
69. When it rains on a summer afternoon, and a rainbow comes out, I think of Noah--and then Jonah, because I get their names screwed up.
70. I believe a lot of keys means a lot of responsibility. I am humbled by the janitor's wad of keys, in comparison to my puny one.
71. I get entirely too mad at my mother for not knowing how to use a computer.
72. I don't like to swear. So when I do, I hope it carries some weight.
73. I am not a natural leader. I have to work at it.
74. I don't know why New York is called "The Big Apple".
75. I color inside the lines.
76. My favorite song is sappy.
77. My car runs on "E" at least half the time.
78. The idea of sardines on pizza makes me want to well...you know.
79. I like taking pictures, but I hate having them developed.
80. I wear contact lenses.
81. Cell phones are the bane of my existence.
82. Someday I want to intentionally collect something.
83. I can cook, but I hold off at all costs.
84. I though my home's oven was convectional.
85. I don't like to balance my checkbook.
86. I cry at fictional things, but not usually at non-fiction, even when it is worse.
87. I always order chicken parm at the Olive Garden.
88. I've learned to block people out when they are talking about things that do not work toward something I am doing.
89. I try to limit this practice, and I'm not entirely successful.
90. I've never liked baby dolls or Barbies. I preferred office supplies and stickers.
91. My sister liked to play weather lady and I liked to play Sally Wiggin in our play news broadcasts.
92. I love to run.
93. I don't fear death, but I want to stick around a while.
94. Every day I try to learn something new, and not forget what I learned yesterday.
95. My alarm clock plays music instead of beeps.
96. I like second-hand things. They have a history.
97. I smile sometimes when I don't feel like it.
98. I don't think there's anything like seeing your work in print.
99. I don't think there's anything like seeing children use their imaginations.
100. I'm a self-indulgent daydreamer with entirely too many ideas and too little time on her hands.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:38 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2005

Timeless cartoons caput

Over lunch this past week, a few pals of mine started chatting about the upgrades (or bastardizations) of timeless cartoons.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came up... Stephan said they added rap into the theme song, and the turtles can actually mutate into large trucks...or something. I thought it was odd enough that turtles had nunchucks.

I haven't seen the turtles lately in their semi-glory, but I have seen the transformations of Looney Tunes that Sarcasmo's Corner mentions.

The same thing happened to the Power Rangers. And the princesses of Disney feature cartoons. I don't understand how they can have a mermaid and an Arabic princess and an English housemaid all in the same room...and where exactly are they all meeting...on a Disney cruise ship between their respective worlds?

Corporate America is kicking the tar out of classical cartoonery. Why does this happen?!

But anyway, Sarcasmo's updates on classics is a worthwhile read, especially this one (Happy Christmas! :-)):

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: I'll tell you how. WITH LASERS. Poor Whoville never had a chance. (Years later, sole survivor Cindy Lou Who (a vegetarian, having lost her taste for Roast Beast that fatal Christmas) will come back mad as hell and clad in a skin-tight pleather catsuit and with vampiric powers to avenge her town in a made-for-tv movie everyone will know is a bad idea, but will watch anyway. In this version, the Grinch will be played by Boris Karloff, thanks to modern technology.)
Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:24 PM | Comments (1)

December 1, 2005

Seton Hill at its finest: Final crunch

I've been through this fall finals crunch thing three times, but it's my favorite time of the year at SHU.

Unlike spring, there is a tangible pay-off: Christmas on the Hill. It's the best celebration of the year.

When I don't have my mind on the unreachables of time and space (a.k.a. Catholicism final creed paper), I am thinking about my dress, shoes, make-up and jewelry for that night. Frivolous thinking is such a pleasure.

However, the list goes on. The Setonian/Eye Contact party is in a little more than a week and Christmas is -officially- on its way. Reminder to self: Bring a Secret Santa gift--$2.00 of fun.

I'm also singing with my church's choir again, so I feel very light and musical, despite the loads of paperwork and scheduled activities lining my planner.

The best part is that even when I am tired, I'm realizing that this is when every student is at the top of their game in their understandings of the subjects they've studied. This is our time to share what we have learned all fall.

So, without further ado, I'm back to it; but never fear, there's always some frivolity to distract. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:31 PM | Comments (1)

November 24, 2005

Timely thankfulness

There's snow on the rooftops outside my window. My toes are chilled. Normally I would be shrieking insults at the elements, but I'm strangely at peace this Thanksgiving.

Last night I visited a lady from my church who was diagnosed with cancer this week. It cannot be removed in one of the two spots it was detected.

A small woman in her adjustable bed, she looks fragile upon first inspection. But just the opposite is true. She isn't daunted, afraid or depressed by the news--even when she was served her turkey broth--just one more bowl in her liquid diet for this Thanksgiving, and possibly the next few weeks.

When we rounded her bedside for prayer and closed our eyes, I began to hear the prayer with a renewed hope. I opened my eyes briefly, and drank in the scene: three little women joined together for one moment. With a tightened grasp, I held her small hand, so beautifully wrinkled, and thanked God for each moment we have with those we love. This time, it was with genuine understanding of time's importance.

I've made it no secret that I've lost some people I love this year, and that I miss them very much, but I'm not despairing about it any more. They would not want me to be. I get sad every once and a while, but this year, I'm thanking God for the time I'd spent with each one of them.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

May your belt buckles be loosened, your stomachs satisfied, and your hearts filled by your day with family and friends.

And if you get some time, try ingesting a little bit more--my first freelance story with the Trib!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:14 AM | Comments (2)

November 19, 2005

Holiday lethargy

"What do you want for Christmas?"

Thoughts of sugar plums and i-Pods and maybe a feather comforter for my bed dance in my head...Then I cringe with self-loathing at my greed.

Sure, I want things for Christmas, but why should I start the season by asking for gifts, when I can so easily give them?

But, much to my dismay, the sales begin so soon and family members -must- buy these things for me. Then have to wrap them, and then finally, sit them under the tree for our subsequent use and disregard after February 1. How uniquely we show our love.

And so you're asking, if you are some sort of alien who has never watched television or picked up a magazine or drove down the highway and seen a billboard, what are these gifts that so endear our hearts and empty our pockets?

-Smelly stuff
January and February are so odorous that no one needs flowers--just stick your head in a crowded room and you have enough to last you four summers...and then some. I think winter epidemics begin from sneezing from these perfumed something-or-others.

-Pajamas
Silk or flannel? It's always flannel if you aren't getting married in my family, and they always have cute characters on them, like Thumper from Bambi. However, the arms shrink. Does it really matter, though? If they don't fit or the arms shrink, only your bedmate (if you have one) will see you. They are -the- safe gift.

-Gadgetry
Take any word, any word at all and insert and "i" in front of it, and you have your 2005 Christmas gift (i.e. i-Pod, i-Tunes gift card, i-Mac). They're taking over the world. I declare!

-Media
Magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, DVD's, CD's, and any other fun thing that keeps giving long after the last piece of Christmas ham is eaten.

But wait a minute....Thanksgiving isn't even here!

Half of my neighbors have their Christmas stuff up. Stuff--as in those projector thingys outside their houses, icicle lights on every edge of their home's exterior surfaces, and the indomitable inflatable snowmen (or women) in their front yard.

My town is already bedecked for yuletide "Sparkle Season" and the resident Jesus in my town's nativity is already out for display.

What is going on? And why do I feel such a compulsion to take a sharp fork out and poke everyone's inflatable snowmen? :-D

It's because we're celebrating too fast and too early. Whatever happened to anticipation and savoring? What ever happened to "thanking" before the "getting"?

And that's exactly what Christmas is to so many people--the pursuit of things we have neither the money to pay for or the time to do. Don't we do enough of that during the year? Do we have to end with the same theme?

Well, in this flight of 190 mph holiday fancy, maybe I should skip Christmas and head onto my resolution: I will not ask for things I know I cannot reciprocate. I will reciprocate--for real this year.

We all want to do something like feed people at a homeless shelter or act in a drama at church or even put a little more in the offering plate at church for a charitable cause, but never actually do it. Why? Because we look forward to gifts under the tree, instead of in own hearts. It's about time I do something about it--with this season.

And if your snowman gets poked by a five-pronged object, it wasn't me.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 1, 2005

Something about this somewhere

From Forgotten NY: You'd Never Believe You're in NYC:

Sheep and goats in Queens? Waterfalls in The Bronx? Homes on stilts? They can all be found in the five boroughs. This page will point you in the right direction to find scenes you'd think you'd never see in New York City.

This is like Ripley's for my favorite city! I can't wait to go back to New York and find some of these beautiful wrecks and picturesque settings.

Though these pics do highlight the not-so-nice areas of New York, they also offer a glimpse into the heyday of Americana. Case-in-point: Freedomland.

I think I like these broken down buildings and spray painted facades because I see their possibilities. Entrepreurial or simply a hopeless architectural romantic? I'll let you decide.

There's something about somewhere--and New York is that somewhere--every time.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

October 25, 2005

Obligatory snow hate entry

As recently noted, the disfunctional bowels of heaven have dumped a layer of the damp, white wet and nasty stuff on us in southwestern Pa. during the prematurely wintered days of October.

I am trying desperately not to hate this, and I'm not entirely failing.

It's the clothes I'm taking comfort in. I was decked out in a brown leather jacket I've been stowing away, along with a wool scarf my mom snagged for me in Ireland and some striped wool gloves.

I was hot, but in a good way. :) That's half the battle. But there's more, and it's not all good.

My car was covered with the white-out-inspired muck. Digging out the scraper from my car's cavernous trunk was something to behold, I'm sure.

Neighbor: "Hurry up, hurry up. Look, this girl's about to fall into her trunk and lock herself in. Come on, come on, fall in....Dang it, she got out.

Oh look, look, she's scraping the bottom of her car first, hahaha it's going to take her -forever- to get out of there."

So, okay, I probably don't have Stewie living next door, but I must have been a sight, wielding my scraper like I'd never picked one up before. What a mess.

Driving was fine. It's like rain. I don't get freaked out unless I have bad tires.

However, when I returned home I had to do the whole "fire dance" thing. It's all part of the heating dilemma inspired by rising fuel prices. We have a woodburner and a natural gas heater. Because gas is rising, we have decided to go with our tree eater more this year.
Should I let the fire die out and get cold or build up the fire and get warm or raise the temperature on the thermostat and make everyone angry? Pacing, pacing. To burn or not to burn? That is the question.

I go with the woodburner.

What are the implications of this decision?

My room is cold. The burner is on the first floor of the house and only warms two rooms sufficiently and the natural gas thermostat is in the living room, which picks up the heat from the burner and never kicks on because it thinks the entire house is as toasty as those two rooms. Sucks to be me, the second floor wind-side resident.

I have splinters and...possible Tetanus? No, probably not, but my dad chopped up something this past summer that had nails in it, and instead of taking the nails out, he will just shovel them out of the ashes when the wood is done heating the miniscule portion of the house. I'm just bitter.

So, anyway, we carry this nail-infested wood into the house, over lawn equipment stowed away under the house, and through several swinging doors. Call me crazy, but I'm afraid of rusty nails. This wood packing jungle gym is just not safe.

I've been thinking of starting a pulley system or something from the ground to the porch, so we don't have to negotiate the ice-covered staircase with nails sticking out inches from our faces.

It's rough, this winter thing. Sure, it's pretty or whatever.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:36 PM | Comments (11)

October 19, 2005

New York, the third Time(s)

Here's the gallery, folks...

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Digesting the readings on the train. Yum, wood pulp.

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First impressions of the Manhattan Broadway.

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The bathroom was bigger than the bedroom. Maybe I should have slept in the tub.

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Things get better when you call home.

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Rainbow Hector was afraid of the room so he stayed on the flowery curtain, high above the madness below.

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American democracy paired with the American press. I was feeling -very- patriotic under these flags.

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Me in front of my dream job office.

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Me in front of my dream neighborhood.

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I love this cathedral. Anne and I went through the doors, but we didn't want to get searched by the guards, so we just poked our heads in the back door. It's a shame Protestants don't usually have such pretty architectural church designs.

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Gosh, take a break man...I thought I had enough on my shoulders!

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Drunk was here.

And no it wasn't me. Anne and I were walking past a cafe and these two bottles were just sitting there, spilling out onto the street. I've always seen bottles like the one in a paper bag in movies, but not in real life. I'm so sheltered.

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Turn out the lights already. I'm tired!

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These are the urine pickles, according to Anne. I took one bite and had to agree that if I had ever tasted urine, this is what it would taste like.

So that wraps up trip three to NYC. What beauties may four through unknown hold? I'm thinking more coffee.

Thank you Seton Hill and the Setonian for this opportunity. It was a wonderful trip, and I hope many more journalism major Setonians get a similar opportunity every year. It's a great experience that really lets you meet a little more of the world.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:45 PM | Comments (1)

October 2, 2005

A break

Ladies and gentlemen, I've decided to take my first intentional blogging break. I've thought about it, and really, this is necessary.

I'll only blog if I must for class, but otherwise I am out for a while.

Why?

It's time for me to get some new material, breathe a bit and generally, just figure out a new direction with this thing.

This year's been tough on many fronts of my life. I feel that if I would go on blogging, I would try to get around those things here instead of face them in the real time of my life.

Writing is a wonderful escape, but not always.

I'm signing off for a month. I'll miss everyone.

Until November then...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:24 PM | Comments (3)

September 26, 2005

Feminism citation

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."--Rebecca West as cited in Communication Theories by Katherine Miller
Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2005

Brush with Facebook

I think I've found a new obsession in Facebook.

I spend inordinate amounts of time looking at old friends' profiles and finding new friends.

There's an entire study to be had here somewhere. How does this phenomenon compare to blogs? to other sites? to IM?

It's all so connected. I'm sure I'll have more on this subject when I move past the "whoa" stage.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:53 PM | Comments (2)

September 24, 2005

Setonian publicity: Hello Google.

Thanks Evan for getting the Setonian up so quickly.

Remember what I said in my last entry about all is vanity? Here comes some more...

Look! Google picked up my story.

I'm waiting for the backlash. Gosh, I love this.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:04 PM | Comments (2)

September 16, 2005

To the first

To the first boy I ever liked,
To the first boy I ever despised, yet liked anyway,
To the first boy who riled me up,

To the first young man who teased me relentlessly,
To the first young man I always thought I knew, and didn't,
To the first young man I knew had layers,

To the first man who left, but isn't gone,
To the first church playmate, friendly foe and childhood crush,

It's never good-bye, just see you soon. But we'll all be missing you just the same.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)

September 8, 2005

"Days of Our Pigskin"

From Thoughts of a Struggling Writer comments:

"I don't follow sports.

However, I've always thought that football in general would be much more interesting if all the players were in love with each other. Like a soap opera."
--Kayla Sawyer

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:17 PM | Comments (8)

August 31, 2005

Hurricane hits home: MIA grammy

My grandma (the one who blogs) and my pap recently rode out Hurricane Katrina at their Jackson, Mississippi home. It thankfully veered east.

My dad finally spoke with them this evening--their phone service was gone for more than three days; they are living on generator power and a limited water supply.

But they made it.

This is one of the rare occasions when the reporter veneer vanishes, and I'm left staring in awe, just like everyone else, at the destruction and chaos of disaster.

My prayers and love go with the victims in New Orleans, Biloxi and all the areas affected by this malicious storm.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:48 PM | Comments (4)

August 29, 2005

Shifting the track

So, it's really odd being in the classroom again. The prof. Your classmates. The syllabus.

After cleaning out my desk on Friday at the Trib, eating good-bye cake and opening a sweet farewell card, I knew everything was going to change, but would strangely stay the same.

Sitting in the office today with Neha and looking around was like the past four months didn't even exist except in foggy memories.

But then I shook free and realized it all did happen and I'm getting another set of challenges, and now I'm better prepared.

It is time to be a full-time student again.

It is time to ride to SHU with my sister. (We're trying to save on gas.)

It is time for my annual syllabus freak out and recovery.

It is time to open my planner.

It is time for me to let go. I gave up my column today and my online editorial position on the Setonian. I knew it had to happen; I'd been thinking about both all summer, and I finally realized that to be an asset to the staff, I had to dedicate myself to one thing--news editor--rather than spreading myself so thinly across the board.

I can't think of two more deserving and capable people for these positions: Karissa, columnist and Evan, online editor. I can't wait to see what they can do.

It is time for me to face my fears and survive. I don't know; I'm shifting my life around, and I think I'm going to like it in the long run, but right now everything seems so unsteady.

I guess it's a lot to face in one day, just like it is for all my classmates, but everything's going to be just fine.

I'm just waiting for that normalcy to kick in any time now... :-)

So, while I'm waiting, a toast. To my fellow SHU students: May your year be full--fill it well.

*clinks glass of choice beverage: choco milk*

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:27 PM | Comments (4)

August 26, 2005

Something about squirrels

My heart is with Watermark...but I love this pic.

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Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:08 PM | Comments (2)

August 23, 2005

NYC transforms

I love old and new photography squared up in the same angle; it's a great trick that impact the audience instantaneously, especially when it's a feature story about a bicentennial or years in business or something of that nature.

How interesting to see NYC's transformation over the years, and not in the negative light that September 11 implies.

The Setonian did this last year for our center spread on Sullivan Hall and the rest of SHU getting a makeover in lieu of the new rec center.

Transformations are very interesting to behold. :)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:59 PM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2005

Going beyond it

Thanks Watermark for the inspiration.

There are always moments when one feels empty and estranged. Such moments are most desirable, for it means the soul has cast its moorings and is sailing for distant places. This is detachment-- when the old is over and the new has not yet come. If you are afraid the state may be distressing, but there is really nothing to be afraid of. Remember the instruction: What ever you come across--go beyond.

- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:49 PM | Comments (2)

August 18, 2005

Fight the ticket

Ladies and gents, I beat my speeding ticket.

What, you didn't know?

Well, yes, I was horribly tempted to tell everyone about it, but I decided against it.

That is, until now.

This past June, I was pulled over and given the infamous yellow slip of insurance death. However, I signed the dotted line and professed my innocence, posting my collateral for appearance at trial.

On Monday, I faced the judge and my accuser--the Commonwealth of Pa. When you hear your name being squared up against the entire state, you get chills.

However, you must square your shoulders, look the judge in the eye and face the issue head-on.

The police officer, who turned out to be the chief of police in South Greensburg, allegedly clocked me at 40 in a 25.

He didn't mark on my ticket that he clocked me; instead, he said "other" was the method of finding my speed. I fought that, especially. He wanted to enter into evidence the clocked sheet; I don't think I should have let him.

But it all turned out okay anyway.

The speed was reduced to 30 in a 25, and, according to the Pennsylvania Point System, I should not be receiving any huge spikes in my car insurance. Hallelujah.

I even get money back, which is great, because I'm off to SHU next week for books. And...I have extensive plans for clothes shopping. Retail therapy, how I've missed thee. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:29 AM | Comments (7)

August 10, 2005

If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.

Sunny with a high of 75...

Relient K. A great addition to my small collection of CD's. Thanks, Mr. S.!

I'm a country/rock/dance rap/contemp. gospel/soul/bluegrass/pop gal; I like lots of music, but I'm limited to what is played on the radio, usually, because my car CD player is so intricate that I don't like to run it while I'm trying to drive (the operative word is "try"). :-)

It's nice having great connections that know the music world beyond the pay-for-play world of radio.

Frankly, I'm sick of just listening to anything--most of it is crap anyway. I think it's time I invested.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:28 PM | Comments (8)

I'll let you into my head for a minute...

The days of summer are winding down, and my apetite for reading has been piqued once again.

1984
is officially finished and I just reached for Crime and Punishment.

But, I'm officially bored. Now all I have to worry about is my financial aid, books, and blah blah blah that accompanies every new year of college. It is all just enough to make me uneasy, but not enough to make me want to do anything about it during this first week in August.

In a small way, I haven't left the paranoia of the school year this summer; it has all been transferred to other things that I usually let go, waiting at the edge of my consciousness until it drives me crazy and I have to address the issue.

What are these issues? They're the things I let slip while encumbered by college fun: professional image, adult responsiblility, insurance of every kind and a general sense of the big future.

But I've been smacked in the face with all of that these past four months, and I liked most of it, but I am missing the fun of being a college kid, too.

It's strange. I just finished an article about people my age, and I was referring to them as "youth". Sheesh! Have I turned 50? I know; it's all part of the job. :)

I really have found my calling, but I'm not ready for the Big Amanda Life yet.

And so--the tweener life goes on. Not yet this, not yet that. No definitions, just occupations.

It'll pay off, though; I'm paying my dues. I hope I'm not just comforting myself with that line, and that it does happen.

Is there actually a medium between enjoying your life for the moment and seeing the big picture? Because I always seem to be looking through the wrong lens at the wrong time. It's something I'm working on.

And with those lines of insecurity, I finish my blog for this evening. Nothing really to write about except the weather and things that will remain unwritten. I shouldn't blog when I'm moody.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:47 PM | Comments (1)

August 1, 2005

Jubilant July

July--my favorite month. In retrospect, it fared much better than June or any of the previous months.

Why? Well, I'm glad you asked. It seems as if July is the time for startling discoveries. And now I will share:

10. Leftovers serve an important purpose.
9. Car air-conditioning still can't compare to my hand out the window at dusk.
8. July birthdays still rock. And there's one more I got to celebrate this year.
7. Some people cannot sit in the back seat.
6. Attitudes define who you really are--not what you do or the things you have.
5. I can "cry if I want to" at my birthday.
4. Poison Ivy can be conquered...and shots aren't that bad.
3. There is nothing to fear with a grandma around.
2. Tis better to ask than to simper.
1. Reuniting and rediscovering--two of the best verbs out there these days.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:09 AM | Comments (5)

July 28, 2005

My 50-cents: selling off the house's haul

As I haul shopping bags into my house, I always think about how much goes into my house--never about when it leaves.

Most things leave in a garbage can, while others can serve a greater purpose of earning some extra cash for future junk.

This evening, my house seemed to regurgitate all the "stuff" that we have gathered the past few years, making our front lawn and parking spaces look like a nightmarish Hee-Haw episode.

Yep, that's right y'all, we're fixin' on havin' a yard sale. I love it.

I won't actually be attending the two-day junk extravaganza, but I have contributed to the mass of clothes and general junk (Beanie Babies, candles, picture frames, and etcetera) that populates the front porch. I consider it a free donation to my sister, her boyfriend, my mother, and aunts, who will be running the sale.

We make about $200 dollars for a few hours just sitting there, and we get rid of the mountains of crap lining our closets and basement--a definite win-win. I think my sister is putting her earnings toward her church camp trip that is coming up in August.

We have had some great sales over the years. I can't believe some of the things people have actually purchased:

1. A vanity without half the pieces (we told the person about this fact and he still bought it)
2. An Elvis vest, which featured several scenes of Elvis dancing in blue suede shoes throughout the garment
3. An old carton full of empty, dusty soda bottles we found in our basement when we moved in.

A few sidelong glances came from our customers when they saw these items, but who cares? We want rid of it all.

I get on my mom's case about junk collecting. She has the habit of going to auctions and yard sales. I can understand the fun of it, but we end up with so many things that we don't use. I think it has made me wary of what I buy and keep. She's been working on it, and so have I.

My closet isn't bursting at the seams anymore. As a young man once told me--a person needs only so many pairs of shoes. Though I love my shoes, I'm seeing his point, thus saving my extra cash for more important things like car insurance. ;-)

It will be a great sale, I think. We have all the hallmarks of a good one: antiques, collectibles, contemporary house stuff, male and female garments, and yes, the occasional, I-have-no-idea-what-it-is-mark-it-cheaply item.

I guess we'll see how it goes.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:57 PM | Comments (5)

July 17, 2005

Back from beachin'

Whoa...

My bed. My room. My house. Everything looks so strange. Am I really home from my week-long jaunt to Ocean City?

Yes. But I think I am living at both residences at the moment.

Maybe writing this will bring back my sun-fried brain to semi-functionality.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I did suspect some tension between in my family, and there definitely was; however, I did have a good time, which is what matters.

Let's just say I learned a lot about parenting during this trip--a possible reference if I have kids someday.

Anyway, onto the trip. Recounting the days seems like a really long process, and kind of boring, too (I got into the sleeping habit), so I will just let my photos tell it.

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Crossing the Chesapeake Bay is one of my favorite parts of the trip. This is from my vantage point in the back of my cousin's car, which was making scraping noises the entire way to the beach.

She ran over a raccoon on the night before we left PA, and the darned thing hit a heat shield thing underneath her car. But everything was a-okay when my uncle got underneath and dislodged the metal and some stray raccoon fur.


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This is our humble abode from the kitchen. After pondering our accommodations for the past three months, our fearful imaginations, filled with dread at open cesspools and concrete beds, were at rest when our nine sets of eyes perused our lovely furnished condo.

Most of it was decorated in a lighthouse theme. We had two bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen, living room, dining room, and balcony. I -loved- the balcony. The ocean was in view, and I could catch the warm wind without the harmful rays.

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This pic was taken on the one day I took to myself. After following everyone around in a dependent fog of keeping the familial peace, I remembered the Amanda I know--the one who takes charge and does her own thing.

After catching a bus, eating what I wanted (Subway, pathetic huh?), and relaxing by myself on an oceanside bench, I finally relaxed.

And I didn't take the sensation lightly, either. I'd been on edge the entire trip. I'd been working non-stop since last September, and relaxing was a luxury I did not let myself indulge in very often. When I finally found peace enough to just let go and "be", I realized how nice it felt for about ten minutes.

The funny thing is that I can't really do that for very long. My mind is constantly working at something. I can't tell you how many article ideas I have thought about, how many people I just wanted to interview on this trip. I even called my editor on Tuesday to make sure my articles were fine for publication.

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We visited the boardwalk almost every night, and at the very top, a huge Ferris wheel decorates the pier. These are my cousins and Becky, my cousin's pal who joined us.

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On the boardwalk, there are also sand sculptures. It was nice to see the scriptural scenes. I couldn't believe that Ocean City would condone that, but I'm glad they do.

In my hometown, we get public upheaval for a nativity at one time of the year.

They were lovely to see.

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Another lovely sight was this old lighthouse in Fenwick, Delaware. Though we couldn't go up its old iron stairwell, we did get to pose beside it.

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There was even a place where you could stand with one foot in Delaware and one in Maryland. I achieved the conceivably impossible: I was in two places at once. What a rush! Well, maybe not enough for an exclamatory sentence.

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My uncle and cousin and my sister all take a break from munching at the Paul Revere Smorgasbord. Taking a breather between plates is a great idea.

I had two pieces of their Oreo cake and strawberries for dessert. Yummy.

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One night we went to a Caribbean Beach Bar at the Plim Plaza Resort.

We had a great time listening to the band. Though they played stuff older than most of us gals there, just sitting in the breeze and listening to someone sing was enough. I wanted to join him on the stage and sing something.

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My cuz, Stacy, enjoys her fruity something at the bar/grill on the boardwalk.

We made margaritas and pina coladas at our condo, too. Don't worry, folks. Non-alcoholic for me.

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I watched this mother and her child fall asleep on the bus and I had to take a picture of them. I asked her if I could keep it, and she said it was okay. They look adorable.

And now for the beachy everyday scenes...

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Becky and Stacy hanging out

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This is a favorite of my mom and I. I love when I can catch her without her fake camera smile. She looks so pretty in this shot. I really appreciated her this week.

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Becky, and my cousins, Julie and Stacy hang out in the condo's pool.

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And here's me, trying to look cool in my sunglasses. I am learning to have fun with my camera, despite its supposed crappiness.



Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:26 PM | Comments (10)

July 9, 2005

Beachin': Pre-OC

I've just finished overpacking.

"Just right" packing is illusive for this Goldilocks. I always bring at least too many shorts or not enough socks or less of something else that I did not think would be necessary.

I guess there's always hope in the thousand Wal-Marts along the way if I forget anything. And, if I have overpacked, the wayside on the trail to Ocean City can be littered with my cast-offs: beauty products and towels, instead of harps and mirrors like in the Old West.

My aunt, uncle, sister, mom, cousins, cousin's pal will all be on the trip...and me.

There's been some tension between family members about who was eligible to come and who was not. Some family members can just be weird...and pretty mean. Anyway, if there is one potential fly in the ointment-o-fun, that would be it. I'm trying to stay out of it.

But that's what's up folks. I will not be blogging for a week, but I'll probably post some pics of the trip, with some commentary.

Have a lovely week--I'll miss you all, especially you, Mr. S.

--Send all mail to 17 Sand, Salt Water, and Serenity Lane, Ocean City. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:06 PM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2005

Sands of summer are slippin' this way

With trollers (sp.?) in hand, my two uncles began smoothing out the sand that lines the sides of my aunt's new summer pool abode.

I helped lift some sand over the aluminum walls, but generally, I didn't do much constructive work today. I think she has plans for me to help dig the electrical ditch for the filter in a few days.

That's the least I could do for a free pool area within a minute from my house.

This evening, however, I played with my 6-year-old cousin, Daniel, on his huge trampoline. With the summer storm raging around us, we hurled our bodies into the air, at times, cracking on impact with the net poles and each other. What a good time. Never mind that half the thing is made out of metal...

But we didn't care, and then it finally happened--I got -that feeling- in mid-air. You know, the Countrytime Lemonade-commercial feeling that you wait all year to see/touch/smell/hear. It was like my senses collided in that moment becoming one overwhelming, yet familiar sensation: summer.

With my cherub cousin smiling at me, the mosquitos humming around us, the rain misting, my clothes damp, the thunder rumbling in the distance, and the Technicolor leaves shining from their recent shower, a smile and peal of laughter escaped. Summer finally found me.

When the rain stopped, we checked the sand. We were worried that some sloshing action would occur, but instead, it was packed more firmly. Hopefully tomorrow the liner will be placed and swimmers (yep, that means many of you :-D) will be able to hop in sometime very soon.

Have I mentioned that I love this time of the year? Woo hoo for July birthdays! Woo hoo for fireworks! Yay for trampolines and pools! Someone pinch me, I go to the beach in two weeks.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:38 PM | Comments (9)

June 25, 2005

Hello, my name's American and I'm a gasaholic.

The place of our vice and redemption: your BP, Exxon, Mobile, Shell or Get-Go. How can we overcome the vicious dichotomy of our gasaholic lives?

You begin altering your schedule to the dictates of those lines behind the glass on the dashboard. You wait until not another drop of petroleum can be oozed into the fuel line. Nothing can be done. The guage reads "E"--an irreversible occurrence that can only mean one thing: a gas station stop.

When you pull into the deserted drive, suddenly the loneliness of this sad purchase washes over you. Sullenly you pluck the gas cap open and feed in the water of car life, drying up the spring-o-life wallet in the same moment.

Suddenly, amid the low, gasping grunts of the pump, shifters slide into park as SUVs, station wagons, and pick-up trucks circle around. Safety in the circled wagons steps into the 21st century. Like a silent support group, one steady sound rises above the pumps; the communal teeth-gnashing can be heard by dogs.

Just digitized numbers on the pumps read our totals, we hope, although late for work, that the pump is slow. This is just one method of deluding ourselves into thinking that there is some value in our purchase, but all is wrought for naught.

For the faint of heart, a quick swipe of a debit/credit card assuages The Man, but to the brave, a trip inside the station, with additional purchases lingering an arm-stretch away, is the final destination.

No one looks at the price charts any more. To the daily cruiser, the two other gas grades read "exorbitant" and "highway robbery", merely decadent ornamentation on a highway paved with your gold--or more likely--remnants of cheap copper and the 16th president's head, looted from beneath your car's seat.

Thank goodness, you think, while pulling away, that an SUV was parked next to you. Feeling sorry for your crass thought, you reflect on filling up your little four-cylinder. Though you still strain at the realization that yes, you are a gasaholic, and no, there is no cure--you take comfort in the group meets once a week--and two for the really dire cases. Maybe next time you won't steal the pennies from the tray, and yes, you resolve, you will wash your windows with the dirty water to really make the station stop last a while longer to -really- get your money's worth.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:25 AM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2005

Missing: Mr. Ga Scap

An open white door and a silver inside lining. What happened to the ugly black cap that covered that?

After work today, I realized that I had forgotten my gas cap on my car, along with closing the door.

I went back to the gas station and there's been no sign of the black wonder.
So my scenarios go:

A) Someone took it. Why would anyone want an extra gas cap? Yeah, to replace theirs if they ever lost it. Note to self: Pick up any wayside gas caps, no matter what the make or model.*

*This could result in more garbage picking and/or extremist stowaway tendencies. Approach practice with caution.

B)It fell off of the car somewhere on my way to work. From here to Greensburg, if anyone sees a wayside black thing along the road (that is a gas cap) please pick it up; I miss my friend... (I'm getting attached to an inanimate again, someone smack me)

C)It was thrown away. Now, who would do that? Some really clean person that just couldn't handle the fact that a perfectly good gas cap was sitting along the road somewhere and had to pick it up--never mind that someone may be looking for it.

Wow. I just became an evil Disney character.--Sorry for the upstage, Cruella. :)

I do wonder what could happen if you went without a gas cap for a prolonged period... Would your car burst into flames like in a Schwarzenegger cinema moment? Or would your car, mundanely, not pass the state inspection or emissions? Most likely the latter.

Time to go beg my dad for his car expertise. What's going on with my world? July--how I long for thee...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:03 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2005

Ten discoveries of the week

10. Acting stupid can help in the aquisition of quotes.
9. People speak nonsense, except, that is, when they have something to say about themselves.
8. Benadryl, the histimine blocker? Had me fooled, I thought it just conked you out. I guess it does both...
7. Paranoia is the spice of a reporter's life.
6. Playing badminton near pines in bare feet is -not- a good idea.
5. Never turn your back on your boyfriend and any body of water.
4. If the cashier has screwed up the person's order in front of you, do not scream, but rather, take deep breaths and hold back sighs. Patience is a virtue.
3. Happy is the woman who bathes in oatmeal.
2. Long are the summer days, short are the nights. I need darker curtains.
1. If thine arm seepeth from that dastardly weed, thou shouldst call an apothecary...or friendly pharmaceutical assistant.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2005

Minor irritations and abrasions

Job got to scratch off his bodily skin affliction and I am stuck applying IVAREST medication to mine. Lucky him.

On my one outdoor expedition in my 90 percent indoor life, I picnic on the cursed three-leafed poison. Smeared spots of wannabe flesh-colored ointment dot the the majority of my right side.

Which brings me to another point... Why are all ointments for Poison Ivy pink? Are there other colors available? Why don't they have fluorescent green or orange so you know you have covered the area like some sunblocks?

I didn't think it was as bad as it is turning out to be, so instead of splurging on the oatmeal bath and the six-dollar Calamine lotion, I went with the watery, $1.08 version. Torture.

Thankfully, my mom had a stash of Ivy relief meds that I didn't know about in our cavernous closet. The tube, filled with thick goo, promises eight hours of relief. I guess we'll have to see about that tomorrow at work.

Poison Ivy is the least of my worries right now, but I don't really feel like talking about it all. When it rains, it hails. I just hope everything works out somehow. It's standing in the middle of the storm that makes you think it never will end, but it will; I know it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:31 PM | Comments (2)

June 5, 2005

Summer notes: Inside at Grandma's

We stayed inside today at Grandma's.

Everyone stuck together on her green sectional. I miss her old couch that would only hold about 10 of us and everyone went outside to sit where enough seats would accomodate us. The new one has gotten up to 15. So, there we all were, sweating it out. Air-conditioning has passed her generation, despite the VCR and microwave. For some reason, I think of the Amish when we go to her house.

I think we all stayed inside to keep Grandma company. Where she goes, the natives follow.

It's amazing to think that just one couple, my Grandma sitting stately in her recliner and my Grandpap, lying serenely (because he is sleeping) on the sectional, started all of the wonderful chaos that we are. Hmm. Big family=Big Fun and Big Chaos. I'll have to write that one down.

My boisterous and loud family. I don't hesitate to let people know, primarily because friends will inevitably find out the first time they come around to meet everyone.

I'd have to say, I fit in reasonably well. Sometimes I get the inclination to go off and just sit by myself. When I was younger it was usually because one of my cousins made me eat dirt or made me cry like a cow, but now it is just when I get in the mood. Nevertheless, I am usually around, but a step aside most times, just taking in character material for my future book.

It's not just the characters, it's the dialogue, too. We talk about everything, and even the kids hang around these days. My sister and I used to go play with my other cousins, but that has changed, I guess.

When we were little, our parents -made- us go out and play; whereas today, my little cousins hear every detail of gossip. I think their moms are afraid of snakes, abductors, and/or lost children. Gosh, I'm not feeling loved all of a sudden... :-D

And no matter what any of them tells you, it is gossip...mostly. That is, it is mixed with a little political commentary, babytalk, and the occasional sexual reference. Like a middle-aged tea and crumpets, without the tea and crumpets.

The primary topic today was our beach trip in July. We rented a condo on the boardwalk for a week. Lovely. Some of my cousins are going to camp in Michigan, as well. Talking vacations and funding.

I love watching my little cousins gorge themselves on Grandma's endless supply of Schwann's popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, their mouths sticky, orange, laced with frothy cream. Then they get yelled at for leaving the sticks and wrappers lying around.

The schedule so familiar, like clockwork that seems to have no numbers, just some internal ticking that transcends every generation. You can't imagine it otherwise, but you know someday it will all change. The house, the kids, the grandparents... But now, in this green couch moment, you take in the scenery of spilled glasses, broken toys and crying children and laugh at the pure honesty of the scene.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:49 PM | Comments (1)

May 24, 2005

First Draft

"I like your lead. The article's a bit wordy, though."

Nothing I haven't heard before...

This morning I turned in my first story to my editor. My nails are bitten to the quick from the worry, but thankfully I had something else to work on today.

I'll admit the first day and the subsequent first week was overpowering, especially with the environment distracting me every time I swiveled in my "rollie" chair, but now (knocks on wood byproduct desk) things are moving along and I am learning the nature of what I am to do on the day-to-day.

Sometimes after lunch, I diverge from desk-to-lunchroom beeline and scope out the layout departments, poke my head in the newsroom, and see what the cartoonist is up to. Cue the 007 music, I'm going in...

More and more, however, I feel like I am the one being inspected. The photographers have a glass window into my world, and the other side of my desk is in the walkway between two departments. Reporters, photographers, and just about anyone, can see me. I guess it's a tactic to make me learn everyone's names. Tricky. Sly. Distracting. -This is a test, I repeat, this is a test of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.- :-D

I've started logging my days and bulleting the things I have done for my internship hours. I've also saved my first draft to see how it has been altered for publication. Hackage...I'm sure.

It's actually really fun playing the covert Trib operative. When my family asks what I did all day long, I just give them an upraised brow and an, "I'm not at liberty to dispense that information at this time." ;-) It's great.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:12 PM | Comments (5)

May 21, 2005

Rummage Sale finds

Aging carpets, couches I wouldn't sit on for fifteen bucks (okay, maybe), sweaters committing every fashion sin, and much --much-- more filled my church's community building today for our annual Rummage Sale. I am a notorious bargain shopper; I rummaged--I rummaged well.

When my sister came home from her early shift at 11:00, I was still sleeping. Hey, I deserve it--the Trib first week was amazing, but those early mornings really do not fit with my natural constitution. I have to force myself to crawl out from the coccoon of warm beddedness.

After she chastised me for sleeping in, I promptly blamed it on my mother for not waking me or even saying anything about it when I came in the night before. In the past, I have always been one of the workers in the kitchen, but when I did get to the sale, I discovered that everything was okay without me. Good. :-) More time for me to rummage...

Dressing up everyday has taxed even my closet, so I promptly began searching for dressy clothes. I scored on a pair of black pants, a pinstripe suit, several shirts, and lovely dresses that I know the person did not want to give away... I have a theory that the people getting rid of this stuff are a)losing weight b)gaining weight or c)do not have enough closet space. All the more fun for the closet space fiend.

The best find of the day, however, was a pair of almost-new white figure skates. After peeking in a bag that looked like an oversized shoe, I spotted them, or specifically the hot pink blade protectors. The people beside me probably thought I'd found the Holy Grail for all the teehees that were coming out of me.

I Googled the brand, and apparently they are established and have an illustrious history (or so they say).

But that really doesn't matter. They fit and they're comfortable. With a sharpening, I should be set for my next experience on ice, hopefully without the painful ankle marks from the rentals.

Since my first time in a long time, Chris and I skated again and I fell considerably less (only 1 time! :-D). I'm liking it better when the falling isn't such a prevalent part of the activity. With my record improving, I felt it was about time to invest. $1.50, yep, that's enough for now. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:40 PM | Comments (3)

May 14, 2005

Ramps reap Newsweek coverage

So really, it isn't that odd that we have this tradition. People are, according to Newsweek, paying around $10 a pound for the lil' stinkers.

Sheffield notes: "Be warned: ramps have a pungent aroma, so it's best to avoid them on a first date."

Double on that. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)

May 12, 2005

Voicemail Antics

Somehow, I know I wasn't meant for telemarketing. In my crazed state last evening, I received a message from, you guessed it, the Trib. I have no idea if this is good or bad news, and in my haste, I returned the call without thinking what would come out of my mouth if a voicemail would pick up the call.

The line which I was directed to by the message, was just a long, long series of rings, so I thought I would be persistent and call the general desk. I was directed to the editor and left a message that Chewbacca could have delivered with more expediency.

I called again this afternoon and reached another general voicemail, again leaving an incomprehensible message.

Note to self: Wait for the stress of a finished semester to subside before making any important phone calls. Lesson learned. What's the worst that could happen? I would get fired before I even start and have a summer of freedom babysitting again. Not too bad of a deal. *Slaps self in head*

Revised listing: 1)Macs and 2)voicemail--the root(s) of all technological evil.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:06 PM | Comments (7)

May 10, 2005

Ten ways you know it's Finals Week

10. The Macs actually appear to be breathing, after all. You have considered it all semester, and they finally have taken on human characteristics. You think about making one a pet, but then realize that you would probably have the Mac pet police on your tail for kicking the poor thing.
9. Analytical analysis or bs, more like, spouts out of your mouth like a spring river on steroids.
8. The car on the other side of the road is uncomfortably close, and the yellow lines which are to separate "you" from them are, as it would appear, non-existent.
7. When you hear the word "save," instead of religious things, you are reminded to back up your hard drive one more time and pray that Satan doesn't attack that last paper...whoops, I guess it is downright religious now.
6. Wakefulness is not a choice, it's a condition. Coffee, Mt. Dew, and the occasional electro-shock therapy treatment are all aids in the sustaining this wired existence.
5. You dare not mention "I'm going to print" in a room for fear of being eaten alive by others with the same intention. You just hunker down and cross your fingers that no one will associate you with the mysterious job: "fantasmagorical final paper" in the queue.
4. The depression of another semester ending and the prospects of another one beginning are too much.
3. You write that last paper, the thorn in your side, pacing back and forth between the refrigerator, the freezer and the snack cabinet. You may gain twenty pounds in keeping your body occupied while your mind thinks up that next paragraph.
2. You just dreamed that you and your family were on the Titanic after riding back in time on a time machine. There aren't enough lifeboats, of course, and for some reason, your dad decided to hitch a ride on the Titanic and the time machine is broken. You wake up screaming, realizing that the paper you have been writing for Media Aesthetics is taking over your conscious and subconscious mind. It all seems so real. It is. You run away screaming down the street in your pajamas, searching for another Mountain Dew to suffice the sugar craving. Sleep just isn't working anymore.
1. Interrogative sentences punctuate your conversation more than ever before, and they aren't full sentences, either. "Huh?" and "Mmm?" and a strange grunt, reminiscent of Tool Time's Tim Taylor, become the norm. Regression into a caveman (or woman) existence. Survival of the fittest.

Stay fit, all. It's almost over.

And if you aren't fit, take some more orange medicine and call me in the morning.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:39 PM | Comments (3)

May 6, 2005

Peek into recent past

Aside from my intermittent moments of falling off some invisible ledge, this has been a pretty amazing week.

It started out with a thwarted catastrophe at the annual ramp-picking adventure.

Chris joined us this year. :-D After climbing up the hill a bit, I showed him what ramps look like, how to pick them (illegal to pick in some areas--the cops did stop by to ask what we were doing and, just in case, we hid them), and he caught on really quickly; he was a handy accomplice in ramping crime. We got a shopping bag full in about 15 minutes. I was so proud. Then we headed down the hill, which is just as, if not more tricky than going up. Chris and I were okay, but it got a bit scary when my sister and two of my cousins did a nose-dive and roll into the saturated spring soil. They thankfully got up without scratches--only laughs. Even my nine-month pregnant aunt headed up the hill to pick. She is currently in labor at Latrobe Hospital. It was scary seeing her descent off the hill. She had guts to go up that day, I guess...

Around 20 of us headed up into the mountains at the park, and only 19 returned. After we finished washing the onions, we realized that my cousin Shawn was missing. The whole crew loaded up in cars and started screaming his name up into the hills. Chris and I joined in on the manhunt, as well. We climbed higher than any of us had ever been before, but there was no sign of him.

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The Lost Boy--click on it, just in case of an emergency. We were about to put his image on a milk carton.

Thought to be unconscious at the bottom of a ravine or eaten by wild boars, a report was made with the park authorities. Rumors of firefighters on quads and boy-sniffing dogs circled around my family's camp.

After about two hours, my cousin Billy located Shawn on another hill entirely. He was gone long enough that he got hugged instead of kicked in the arse. :-)

Wow, what a day for Chris to meet my huge family. After we found Shawn, we headed to the picnic area and ate. Then we got onto the conversation of if I would eat a ramp or not. After saying no, I was tickled into submission by Chris, while my mom put one in my mouth. Sneeky teamwork. I promptly removed the onion. Blech.

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My cousin, Stacy, knows it-- ramps stink. This is the common face among us that do not eat them.:)

Chris formally joined the tradition by including a message in the time-capsule. He wrote some pretty cool stuff. ;)

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Sharing a blanket with my ramping newbie.


After a crazy week of papers, presentations and projects, we had a fun night at the Setonian/Eye Contact party. What a great time to show off all of our achievements this year. I was awarded 'Article of the Year' for this little piece. I'm sorry for the egoism; I'm still proud of it.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing my sister, Katie, gorgeous in her prom gown at her high school grand march. She is currently having a blast at the event.

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Katie, what a beauty!

That's all from me for now. Although classes are finished, there is still much to do and so little time...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:56 PM | Comments (5)

April 30, 2005

Swwweet Squirrels

Just a little something I couldn't help posting. Scroll over the pic...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:14 PM | Comments (2)

April 29, 2005

A Hesitant Statement

I just wrote a rant and then deleted it. Karissa really has the right idea.

My eyes keep closing and twitching involuntarily. I probably won't be blogging any fun stuff for the next two weeks. Feel free to stop by, but know that, though I love you all, I can't cater to any audience except the grading prof kind for awhile.

When summer comes, I'll have pics, rants, reflections, and most likely a commentary of my experiences at the Trib. So, if that's your reading material style, I'll have hoards of it then.

Until another -brighter- day,
Girl Meets Projects, Presentations, and Papers

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:32 PM | Comments (6)

April 24, 2005

Completion

It's strange when you really sit down to do work how little actually gets done, but when you just relax and let things go, how quickly things fall into place.

FAFSA is blessedly done.
SHU Institutional Information form is complete.
White board isn't so scary.
Setonian column is finished.

Theses are forming, valid quotes are jumping out from the masses of scholarly texts, and somehow I gained a week in my planner. Don't ask, I'm too embarrassed to say how I did that. :-D

I have also decided to take the internship credits for this summer, regardless of the fees attached. I just finished filling in the objectives for my summer study. It's a trip to the Financial Aid Office tomorrow.

Every now and then (well, every spare moment) I float off to Summerland, where trees are full, the water is cool, the sun is hot, and the only thing on the agenda is swimming and sipping lemonade on the porch swing. When I get glassy-eyed this week, my dear pals, that is what I am thinking about, that is what I am longing for.

Going through this last year, I know I will miss the craziness that is the present, but the Trib has promised madness, also. At least I get to go professional clothes shopping before I start. That one will be a pleasure to add to my list. I'm such a girl.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:24 PM | Comments (2)

April 22, 2005

That's right: Squirrel sighting on Google!

earthday05.gif Google.com

Go Earth Day! (But really Go SQUIRREL!)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:51 AM | Comments (2)

April 17, 2005

The notables

5. Continued happiness over said internship. I told my Grandma about it today (the one that doesn't blog). It was awful; I was like "I'm sorry, I blogged about it, and I thought you would know..." Whoops, sometimes I forget that blogging doesn't extend beyond the screen. My cousins usually pass on my blog news to her if I forget, especially the really private stuff that I shouldn't put up on my blog in the first place.

4. When you get a life, it is hard to blog anymore about personal stuff. I am turning into a reclusive blogger, the anti-blogger, if you will. Turning feelings to print is like displaying butterflies.

3. Titanic is the flick of the hour. My paper and presentation for Media Aesthetics is on this subject. The four-hour DeCaprio/Winslet version, in addition to A Night to Remember and the made-for television flick are my "watching material" for the next couple of weeks. I love this project! Let's hope ILL will speed up.

2. Mission: get the ice king to endure the summer queen's kingdom. Will he melt? Or learn to adapt and enjoy? Find out in the next blog on Girl Meets Boy...I mean World.

1. So much has happened in the past few months. I do not make any predictions. Surprises seem to be what God keeps giving. Special thanks...they are all love-ly. Gosh, I am getting so cheesy... I'll never be a serious writer if I keep this up. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:37 PM | Comments (4)

April 4, 2005

Some Banner Attempts

I tried to implement this little thing in my blog today (I worked on it in Digital Imaging), but after viewing it with Firefox, I hesitate to post it again. Nice, but oh so, non-universal in Webbrowserland.

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Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:49 PM | Comments (3)

March 24, 2005

Beautiful March Madness

I never did like March very much, but something has changed this year. While I have been crazed with school work, busy with the Setonian, and sleepy from various trips, I have seen these days pass in wonder.

I have to mark this occasion, however. I wrote an eight-page paper on Iraq, created a speech, and studied for a final test in Islam in one day. I am so finished with procrastination.

I've been busy though. You all know about Habitat for Humanity, but as for NYC, I have a few stories...

I arrived a bit late. Um, maybe really late. I got a call at 6:30 a.m. from my pal Diana, wondering where I was--the buses were supposed to leave at 6:00. !!!!!!

After my customary freak out, I realized that I had to stop jabbering oh-my-goshes and get moving. The problem was that I could not reach Greensburg fast enough to get the buses. Oh my. The entire weekend hung in the balance of where I could meet them. Jaimie Steel, amazing activities director at Seton Hill, said that our first stop was in Allentown. Where is Allentown?!! However, I had hope. Where were the buses getting on the turnpike?

Thankfully it was in New Stanton, rather close to where I live. After jetting in my mother's monstrous van (Thanks Daddy for putting your life and mine in jeopardy :-)), I met the buses at the turnpike. I got applause when I stepped on the bus. Not too bad of a reception for the slacker.

My pals thought I was in a car wreck or something because I am ALWAYS punctual. How crazy. That's the last time I set my clock for p.m. instead of a.m. :-D

After about an hour into the drive, the other bus began smoking profusely, and we stopped along the road waiting to see if the bus was a) going to explode into heinous flames or b) tucker out from smoking and just die. The latter proved true. What to do with all of the passengers? Some would stay for a replacement vehicle (filled with drunk people, or so I have been told), and others would go with us onto New York directly. Luck seemed to be on our side when the lottery permitted Chris to join me and the rest of the crew on the non-defective bus. Serendipity (?).

After settling in at the Hotel Edison, we hit the beautiful streets of NY. FYI: I got my wonderful cheesecake from the same deli as last year. Yummy.

We walked everywhere. While we did get a bit lost (we walked the wrong direction for a bit), all was well. What a beautiful city.

On Friday night we got free tickets to the NYC Improv Club. A great show, although it was stand-up comedians, rather than what I think of improv. Nevertheless, I think our group left with sides aching--I know I did.

On Saturday, we walked everywhere again, but this walk took the (cheese)cake--quite literally actually--from our Times Square hotel to Battery Park...and then back again. We walked the entire length of Broadway on the way back. Great exercise. We ate like maniacs that evening. Combos, a hotdog, and an apple (mine) just can't cut it.

Oh, and on the way back from our unfortunate Ellis Island attempt, we passed through Chinatown. Chris and I walked passed a lady and we saw her drop something out of her coat. Much to our surprise, it was a kitchen knife. Even better, she turns around and casually says, "Oh my knife," and picks it up and keeps walking like it is the most natural thing in the entire world to be carrying an unsheathed knife in her pocket. Only in NY...

And now for my mini-gallery. My camera was acting screwy, since a can of ginger ale opened in my bag, but I did salvage some. If you do not like these, oh photography critics, check out the pro's.

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The Ellis Island tour boats sold out early, so we took the alternative route my family and I accidentally took last year: the Staten Island Ferry. Not bad at all for a view of the Statue of Liberty, and in this photo, Brooklyn.
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There's something about cows, dead (leather) or alive (yay for pretty farms!), that I love.
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These dancers were so talented. In this pic, they are doing a midget dance routine.
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He's not the only one who can make wallets...
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Taking a photo break in Central Park. How lovely.

New York City...my second hometown. Not to impune upon my family's fun honor, but it was SO much more fun this time. Thank you for it. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:58 PM | Comments (8)

March 17, 2005

NYC AGAIN!

I'm off again. Lots of stories and pics to come.

Hopefully better than last year's family version...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:53 PM | Comments (3)

March 12, 2005

Housing the Pics: Habitat for Humanity 2005

As many of you already know, we are back from our Seton Hill University Connecticut Habitat for Humanity trip.

I have many, many pics on the other end of this entry, so beware...you're in for the odd, heartwarming, and lovely.

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Drywalling Divas: Karissa and I loved our drills for drywalling, which we did the entirety of the work days. Window frames are our specialty.

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I dropped about a thousand screws, but it is picking them up that counts. My drill prowess on display :-)

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Darren, SHU's food master chef man and also drywalling superman, takes a well-earned break in the bathroom with a good drywall book.

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Move over Charlie's Angels...

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We inhaled so much drywall. Sheetrock: The breakfast of champions.
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You always need one of these pics--doublechins and all

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We visited Mystic, Connecticut one day. We had a bit too much fun in the toy store. Yeah, that's me--the viking.

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Getting together in front of South Church in Glastonbury where we slept. We showered at the Jewish Community Center in Hartford across town.
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We were pretty bushed by this time--note the slant.

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This is the house we drywalled. We mainly focused on the upstairs rooms, while other volunteer groups worked downstairs.

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Karissa has hot coffee. Don't tell, but it tasted like dirt. I even tried Splenda, and it didn't help. :-)

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Karissa and I finally got some time to spend together.

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Karissa and I together again--albeit covered in drywall dust.

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The toughest part of drywalling at the house was raising the ceilings. I am a bit shorter than some, but I was effectual on a ladder. Karissa amazed us all.

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Our pretty living quarters: South Church of Glastonbury--thank you so much for hosting us!

No matter what we did--we laughed. I can't tell you how great it was to wake every morning with my sides aching.

Though some of us were achy, dryskinned, and sick, I think we all benefitted from this time working for someone other than ourselves.

We learned that the house we worked on is going to be a Cambodian couple's. They have children, which is great because we kept saying that it would be great if this were a baby's room or a bunk bed dungeon for some romping little boys (or girls).

I can't really say what the best of the trip was. Some highlights would have to be the reflections in the evenings when we would get together and do an activity. From sharing stories about the day's work to drawing with markers on tablecloths the "ideal volunteer", I enjoyed this time of peace and sharing. We should have sung "Kumbayah". THAT would have made my week.

We also went bowling (Karissa has those pics) and watched movies galore. Because we got snowed in a couple of times, we had some free time. Huh? Free time?

On that subject, I did read a bit for Media Aesthetics and my proof of the Setonian, but other than that, I had a very relaxing few days. I slept and slept and slept.

Although I missed home and the sweet ones here, this is what break should be--this is what we should be doing all the time.

You look at your house differently. You imagine the people--the effort--behind what you have, and finally appreciate it for every piece of drywall, board and screw in it.

This trip was wicket sweet.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:15 PM | Comments (8)

March 5, 2005

An internet absence

I think I am anticipating the next few days of "roughing it" with Habitat for Humanity by going on the internet every spare moment between packing.

I think I have packed pretty well, albeit more than I had anticipated...as usual. I am not saying that I am high maintenance, but I like to have enough clothes, considering the warmth factor (or absence thereof) in Connecticut.

As for break without the internet, I am going to be tested to my limit. Papers are due and I am going into crunch mode when I return. Somehow, though, I will survive. Just to clear my head for a while with strenuous work. I get some of my best ideas when I am doing physical work.

I haven't really thought about this trip until today. And now...the anticipation is delicious.

It's just the catch-up that I anticipate with scrunched brows.

Have a lovely week, SHUers and beyond. I'm away--meeting and greeting another piece of the world.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:30 PM | Comments (2)

March 4, 2005

Somewhat travelled

Via Sue's blog:

Bold="states I have been to" Underline="states I have lived in" Italicize="state I am in now"

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri /Montana / Nebraska/ Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennslyvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. / Additional (not a state, but worth mentioning): Mexico

Next week I can bold Connecticut on this list. :-)

I would like to live in a few more states, preferably one with an ocean next door. Maybe North Carolina...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:52 PM | Comments (3)

March 3, 2005

An Indication

I stuck my key in my car trunk lock and turned. It would not budge. I turned again--harder this time. Still nothing. Again, I turned. "It's the ice or a bag obstructing my entry," I thought, turning the key once again. Finally I lifted my head and peered in the windows of my car, thinking that maybe I could crawl in through the fold-down to get in the back.

I was looking at a book with Seton Hill Griffins on the cover. Um, must be something I got from a table in front of the dining hall. Hm....

Then I saw it: the door for gas pumping was practically ripped off. After fiddling with the floppy door, I realized I would keep it as secret as I could from my dad. I mean I have had issues with hitting things. But I don't think it was me...Then I got angry. How could anyone just do a hit-and-run gas door rip-off?

I looked in again, thinking that I should go to the other side and open the door--electric locks. Looking in, something odd struck me--I didn't think that is the color of my upholstery, was it? (The sun was shining in my eyes, so I couldn't get a good look). Then I looked in again.

That was the moment I realized I was trying to open up someone else's car.

It took me approximately fifteen minutes of looking at "my" vehicle to realize that it was indeed not mine. I am a commuter--I should know my car.

Indication no. 1 that spring break has come not a moment too soon.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:58 PM | Comments (7)

February 27, 2005

A stop in a whirlwind

I am going to be very productive tonight. I have resolved against sleeping and eating anything that has enzymes associated to turkey, which makes one sleepy.

I am embarking upon a week of papers, articles and a bunch of other work that I have been slowly chipping away at this entire weekend. Well, except for Saturday night, but a woman needs to get a life every now and then.

My planner stares at me from its hiding place inside my ever-budgeoning bag and screams, "WORK, I don't care if it is Sunday."

I am taking comfort in the fact that Setonian production begins this week, and it does not conclude until after break.

I will be in Connecticut over break doing a project with Habitat for Humanity. I will be sure to take my camera and turn this blog into a regular gallery when I return.

As for Habitat, I am in a group with a cook. So when we have to make dinner, which we have already planned out--stuffed shells with pudding parfaits for dessert (my addition)--I will be okay. Hopefully. I suggested ramen in the meeting for dinner, and everyone laughed. I was mostly serious.

But now I must leave this SHU domain and go home. I was just waiting on my lengthy PDF scholarly articles to print, and now they have.

Mid-term death is only the beginning.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:38 PM | Comments (8)

February 20, 2005

Girl meets ice

I met the cold, slippery surface face-to-face several times last night at the ice rink. Humbling experience. Yes. Fun. Yes. I counted around 10 times (a much-disputed amount) in a two-hour period that I fell, but thankfully, I didn't bruise.

The last time I went ice skating was for a friend's birthday in sixth grade--I think. So long ago, and I remember a similar experience: chalky ice decorating my coat. This time I had someone steadying me--the majority of the time.

Chris is an accomplished skater, and I was proud to be with skating with him (he knows some pretty awesome tricks).

Although I felt like a bumbling idiot sometimes, others, I felt like I was flying. Then I would promptly sink back on my heels and do a nice arse dive.

Sometimes, I would do my little scuttle dance, and grab for a hand. Thanks for holding me up, Chris.

Maybe with a little more practice I can cut my falls to 8. I am so NOT a perfectionist in this area.

It's a different world (on ice), and I am liking it more and more, especially when I can fall with a smile.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:06 PM | Comments (12)

February 17, 2005

A technological triumph

Arriving home after one of my stays at the great land of SHU-dom, I have to reclaim my room, bed, and computer. I have been getting the sneaky suspicion that if I did move out, the world would not end, but I will not start on that old fiddle again.

Everything seemed to be in regular chaos, as usual, but my computer, which never is, was disturbed. I started my media player (I listen to John Mayer when I am cleaning), and something was terribly wrong. Little orange exclamation points suddenly appeared beside every one of my songs.

I thought my computer was crashing, and I began to panic. I mean, I was pretty much in the state, yelling at my poor mother about her e-mail attachment downloading practices.

Somehow, a "malicious software removal" program found its way onto my computer, and deleted my speakers from the system. Right after it happened, I got a message from Microsoft with a patch of some sort, and it wasn't helping me now...I was having the cow of the century.

Then I realized that I could re-install them with my Dell CD's. Yay! I took a trek out to my snowy commuter mobile and flipped through the CDs (my collection is rather large, but made fun of in some circles). Right there, beside Shania Twain and Marroon 5, was my Dell re-installation CD, cold, but still functional.

After re-installing and restarting, I crossed my fingers, hoping that the obnoxious exclamation points would not reappear. They didn't.

John Mayer has never sounded so soothing, not to mention Sarah MacLachlan's "Angel."

That's right Mr. Malicious Software Removal: Don't mess with me. I'll kick your technologically-inclined arse.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:54 PM | Comments (3)

February 14, 2005

Lil' valentine blog

I am up late, and I just want to say that I had the BEST Valentine's Day today. Consider this a blog just to remember, not to really tell anything.

Thanks and sweetness to all who contributed to my current grinning-from-ear-to-ear status. Yes, that means, you. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:29 AM | Comments (4)

February 3, 2005

Columnist Woes

I have recently been awarded a columnist position on the Setonian staff. Woo hoo!! However, I am rather stumped about what I should write about. Commuter double-lives. The oddities and witticisms of an online SHU society? Hmmm.....I am just stuck.

There have been some insightful columnists in the Setonian past, and I would hate to be the first to trounce upon that tradition.

So, in fact, I am stressing over this, but I shouldn't, should I?

I have a few ideas up my rolled-up sleeves, and I am ready to do this.

So, ideas. Hmmm...Fresh out for the moment, but perhaps my loving readers will assist me in my ardent subject pursuit.

I also need a title for my column. Taking the Hill? SHUing my way to stardom?

Man, those are really awful. My deadline is approaching...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)

January 24, 2005

I rate the day: 7.5 out of 10 SHU points

On the "first day" scale, I would grant my first day back to SHU an 7.5: clean on the turns, but a little messy on the dismount.

Clear skies and wind slicing through my joined me on my morning jaunt from faroff extended D-Lot, but I made it on-time to my digital imaging course. Adobe. Fun. The Macs in the lab aren't as bad as I thought they were. My book hasn't come in yet from freakish Amazon yet. No more checks.

After the shortened version of the class (intros never take long), I headed up to the Seton--ahem Publications Office with Anne and we did some rearranging. Anne and I moved a monstrosity of a file cabinet.

Sweating and tired, we went off to Media Lab where the we met the new people. Shortly after class and introductions, we went to the office yet again (which was then in shambles from our redecoration) and showed them around. Exhibit A: Pencils. Exhibit B: Crappy Macs. Exhibit C: Dry Erase Board accompanied by mass of cardboard and carbon paper.

I had to jet to work, and I couldn't chat at length with pals, but overall 7.5.

Wednesday is the test; 4 1/2 hours of Islam. Qu'ran anyone?


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:19 PM | Comments (4)

January 22, 2005

Knitters Unite:
Stitch and Bitch Greensburg Event

Ever wonder what happens when women are armed with pointy multi-colored sticks of steel and pent-up rage? They get together and knit at a coffee house.

wecanknit.JPG
Karissa and I can knit. So domestic.

On Friday night at DV8 in Greensburg, Karissa and I attended the first monthly Stitch and Bitch meeting. With a small gathering of some experienced and inexperienced knitters, we introduced ourselves to one another. How sad that our informant of the event was missing. :-( There were women of all ages there; I was pretty surprised. By the end of the evening we had about ten to fifteen people there, not counting the men that popped their heads in the doorway to see what the womenfolk were doing. There was one guy there at the end of the night, but I did not see him pick up needles. Another guy, who briefly stuck his head in, mentioned that his grandmother taught him how to crochet.

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The knitting group gets together for a pic

After we assembled, several of the women got right down to it. I was baffled at the knitting needles and the yarn and manner in which I was to manipulate both. I got the basic principle from Karissa.

My first try was a great big flop. My stitches were too tight, and I was dubbed "Hewoman stitcher." One of the ladies asked if I had a controlling personality--Karissa and I got quite a laugh out of that.

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My Hewoman stitching efforts

Throughout the night, I got helplessly knotted several times before I finally got going. I ripped out my stiches at least ten times. I think I had to do that because I was so focused on the great conversations sparking.

Two Seton Hill College alums were at the event and asked me about my major and Seton Hill University in general. Karissa and I told them about the changes, specifically in the athletics departments. I think that is when I started the official b-i-t-c-h-i-n-g. I am not a naughty sailor speaker, so every time the words came up, I sort of felt like a bad girl. :-)

I also *get this* met a woman who loves squirrels: Heather. She told me a horrible story about a squirrel in her toilet...but otherwise she was really nice. She is an English teacher in the local area. Karissa heard her say "squirrels" first; she leaned over to me and said, "She just said the magic word." Yes, Karissa, yes she did. Insta-squirrel pal.

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"Insta-Squirrel Pals"

I am still knitting. I am making a purple scarf, but I have an inkling I will not finish it until spring. ;-) They will be having more Stitch and Bitch meetings every month on Friday evenings, and now that I know how to do some of it, I can actually relax. What a great way to wind down after a day of SHU.

*Special thanks to Karissa for the wool yarn and Marian for the loaner knitting needles.*

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:17 PM | Comments (8)

January 13, 2005

Hippo:
I wanna be a tortoise when I grow up

Via Paige.

'A baby hippo at the Mombasa (Kenya) Zoo lost his mother in the tsunami. The young hippo was swept away by the water and then left on a beach before being rescued by wildlife rangers. However, the baby then “bonded” with his new surrogate mother, a male tortoise believed to be 100 years old.

“It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a ‘mother’,” ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park.

“After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatised. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together,” the ecologist added.

“The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother,” Kahumbu added.'


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:21 PM | Comments (1)

January 11, 2005

Live bait: memories of smaller days

This evening I took a trip to Wal-Mart. I don't even know why my car suddenly veers left and turns on the turn signal automatically when the store comes into view, but it does.

As I was perusing the wide aisles of stacked items of every shape, I realized that I needed to get to the other side of the store, but instead of taking Wal-Mart's mapped out trails of higher-priced look-at-me-goods, I cut across the sporting goods department.

Isn't this something sacred? I was just an athlete in high school, but I can remember my first beloved pair of googles, perfect and special from Swimmer's Network, a specialty stocker of everything "swimmer". There they were--Speedo racing googles, but not the kind I used specifically that suction-cupped to my eyes perfectly when I nervously adjusted them before a race. Not the same, but cheaper--always less.

Then I saw it--a live bait refrigerator--I suddenly felt tears welling up; well, not really, but for effect, envision me with tears sliding down my cheeks. :-)

I remember the bait shop near my grandma's house, Red's Bait Shop, where I would look down in the tanks and faintly see a minnow dart past, and suddenly, my eyes adjusting to the dark water--his little friends passing. Something was special about that shop where we would always go for chips and pop (soda, whatever), but never bait. I didn't fish until I was ten, and I had been going there since I could catch up with my cousins. I didn't know what bait was; I just liked the tanks and the sound of rushing water filling them as my grandpa and the owner talked over a Mountain Dew.

Wal-Mart is replacing that charm. I hate that I go there instinctively. They make it so convenient. We go there for everything, including bait, which is right next to the soccer equipment. Unnatural.

Some items I remember everything about where I got them and how I paid for them, and it really didn't matter about the price. It was the experience of ownership that defined that moment, and the desensitized environment propogated by the mega-store with dog food and shampooa walk away makes for a loss of ownership that one may receive at a smaller, more intimate establishment.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:41 PM | Comments (2)

January 6, 2005

10 reasons I need the SHU norm

10. I am in my pjs most of my off days. This practice is becoming so chronic that I am infusing my wardrobe with more night shirts than going-out clothes.

9. I am building a major relationship with the Mount Pleasant Library. I am becoming personally attached to it, even assenting to nine-hour days. I remember where the history books are, and I even know the creepy kids that come in to look at classical art books.

8. I have resorted to shopping to pass my time. Today I spent an obscene amount of time shopping, buying lots of black. Depression? Goth? No. Just need to shed some pounds with some slimming fabric. Which brings me to my next point...

7. Eating the holiday leftovers. I am a tragic case. Bridget Jones, anyone?

6. I have begun to visit SHU. While yesterday I did have an agenda of visiting the Financial Aid Office, today, I just turned into the drive and visited Tiffany, who was just as happy to see me as I was her. Gosh, Farrell Hall is really lonely.

5. I have started to check book prices and the course outlines and such on the Seton Hill website. If I can do anything to get started, I plan on doing so. I have even started reading up on Islam, which is one of my courses this upcoming semester.

4. I have ceased to find comfort in the so-called insurmountables of cooking and cleaning. Disenchanted with the fact that I know enough about both to survive, I have left my wisk and 409 behind, hoping to try an activity that does not involve stereotypes of girl:apron : boy:hammer.

3. Thoughts of starting a save-the-world revolution. After watching and reading about the tsunamis in Asia, I feel the need to do something. The need to do, to spark some good deed of epic proportions is sometimes overwhelming when I see footage of the broken bodies and buildings. I think a lot of us feel helpless in our little homes and lives that we feel like we can just give our money. After Mexico, I know that I can do more, and I want to.

2. I am watching t.v. and movies more than ever. Tonight, I even stopped a moment to check out a Disney Channel movie, which is no. 1 on the you-are-a-desperate-tv-junkie list.

The love of all these have sustained me throughout the past few weeks, but I am starting to go cabin crazy, and going outside does little to ease my wintery doldrums.

1. And no. 1. I am constantly on edge- anticipating the next invisible deadline. I miss the frenzied life of planners and books and drama. Maybe I will write an ode to school...

oh the bookbags, weighing at least a ton,
the slow internet connection

Maybe not. I have also realized that I cannot write poetry and should not do so.

However, I am optimistic about this year, despite appearances. Activities will pick up quickly. As I write this, professors are probably outlining their syllabi, and I will whine about the work, but once again I realize that as much as I hate the work, I love it in the same measure. I just miss it. I miss everything.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:24 AM | Comments (4)

December 22, 2004

From a culinary artiste

I made cream puffs today with my grandma. Don't know what a cream puff is? They are little globs of dough with empty centers that you fill with pudding, ice cream, dog food, whatever. I filled mine with cook and serve chocolate pudding, not the instant stuff (we made it in the microwave, though).

I splattered batter all over the walls with the mixer. With every egg I added, a little more decorated the walls, but not to the point of insta-lick wallpaper, thank God.

Cooking and baking is a patience-building activity. Wait for the little buggers to cool. Wait for the timer to go off. Wait. Wait. Wait. But it wasn't time wasted--we watched Bridget Jones' Diary. I laughed inwardly every time my grandma blushed at the f-word. It's a charming story, and the inclusion of the f-word is just a comedic addition; I hope she understands that... She said she liked it.

After finishing the cooking and baking part (THEY ACTUALLY DID WHAT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO! Rise, that is), I sifted confectioner's sugar onto the little masses of dough, but not really feeling very confectioner-like. It went everywhere, and besides, don't you have to have a degree of some sort to be a confectioner?

In many ways, I think I am reaching new heights of domesticity. But it is nice to have someone proud of me in that department. When a lady from my church called my grandma, one of the first things my grandma mentioned was that I came to make something with the oven involved. If I can't solve world hunger, why not start with pastries...

Sure I can write. I can do the whole school thing, but it is stepping out of that comfort zone of books and computers that is pushing me, as odd as that sounds. New goals, I'm finding, do not exclusively lie in the confines of my academic life, but "out there" giving my time and effort to the happiness of others.

Oh my, have I discovered the Christmas spirit? Perhaps, I have. Heartwarming, isn't it? :-D


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:14 PM | Comments (3)

December 18, 2004

Shopping is fun again!

With an echo up the stairs of "Anyone home?" I gave the affirmative.

"Do you want to go shopping?" my mom yelled up the stairs.

"Okay, anything to get out of this house." I said.

After just one day of my planner freedom, filled with cleaning and other constructive tasks (I can't seem to just rest anywhere), it was time to get out.

With that, we were off in my car to Gabes. While I do think that I gave her some mild heart attack when I merged into traffic, we made it to the store in record time. hehe

Now to get down to business...

I have compiled a Christmas list, which I hate to do. I look like an ungrateful wench succumbing to the commercialization of the holiday season, but I have to get some things like pencils and binders, and maybe a new hat-- The shopping scene is inevitable, well unless you are Amish, which doesn't really sound bad. I like gifts that are made especially for you, anyway.

We shop a little differently than most families, or at least I think so. A few Christmases ago, we learned that each person in the family, to really have a merry Christmas, should pick out their gifts on their own. This realization occurred with a pack of playing cards being a major gift. Kudos to the Dollar Store for their playing card prowess, but this just didn't work for me.

The gift faux pas has turned into the running joke at my house. My mom just didn't know what to get me... But now we have incentive into the Christmas spirit and shop, shop, shop. Beware the jumbo pack of playing cards!!

So, now in an effort to get the good gifts of Christmas that we will all enjoy, we shop on our own, and the real giving is in wrapping the gifts. Our one rule is that no one can wrap their own gifts.

The best part of Christmas now is wondering what gift is encased in what wrapping. Like, "Can my dad fit a pea coat into a shoe box?" Or, "How how many layers of tissue do we have to go to get to that ring?" Unwrapping is the best. This year we will be unwrapping Christmas Eve because my mom has to work Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve is the biggest night though. We do everything fun then, anyway. I am making dinner this year....um yeah. Anyone know any good spices I could include for my speghetti and meatballs? Or should I try alfredo? Hmm. Or should I get really festive and try a turkey? GRANDMA HELP!

Anyway, back to Mom and me on a Friday night. After Gabes we headed to the mall. Unfortunately she had some cappuchino, and her shopping frenzy was heightened by caffeine. Her eyes kept darting from store to store, item to item. I've seen the same look on a deer I almost hit. Fear of not fulfilling destiny: crossing the road, making everyone's Christmas dreams come true.

I give her credit, though. Christmas is wonderful at our house. After the hectic months preceeding Christmas, all I really want is some hot cocoa, mountains of marshmellows, some Burl Ives records, and my family reading the manger scene from the Bible. I have not been let down yet.

Togetherness is rather illusive with my family. With four cars constantly on the road, eating at different times, and coming in at all hours of the night, our home is hotel-like, complete with a peppermint patty on your pillow. No, just in the candy jar in the kitchen. ;-) This is the time for us to come back together for real, and we do. Though we do have name brand products decorating the dinner table, that is about as far as commercialization goes that night. We also watch The Grinch and Charlie Brown when we can. Oh, yeah, and laugh at Alfie in A Christmas Story.

Last night, walking with my mom into the mall, while I did feel a pang of envy at the couples, I realized that there is a time for everything, and this night was for my mom and I to spread a little Christmas cheer, albeit a little frenzied.

But it was worth it. After a lengthy conversation about the girth of women's calves, she bought a pair of black boots. While I am a firm believer in not making large purchases with someone along, we did the little gifts this trip.

Next week we tackle the big stuff...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:41 AM | Comments (9)

December 16, 2004

It's official. It's final. I am done.

It's official. I just finished my last final. And it really hasn't hit me that everyone is headed to their little casas, and I my own in a couple of hours.

Sheesh. This hasn't happened in a long time. I have NOTHING in my black planner-o-death for tomorrow. I may need to lie down.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:23 PM | Comments (4)

November 30, 2004

South of North: Journey to Mexico

Hola, senors, sonoras, and senoritas. No, I haven't become fluent in my five days in Mexico and Arizona, but I have been away. Really away.

For those that don't know what I was doing read this entry to get a little refresher.

This afternoon I crossed the United States in about seven hours, and came in my bedroom feeling like I stepped out of one life and into another--one where I knew where everything was kept. So similar, yet so different. Though this feeling may be partially attributed to jet lag, I will note that something has changed in me. I saw things that I never knew happened so close to home, things that should never happen.

As for the play-by-play of days, I will sum up pretty simply. We stayed in Bill and Fayth McConnell's home in Rio Rica, Arizona, the majority of the time. On the first full day, we began making care packages for the women's prison and orphanages in Mexico.

So what are "care packages"? I could tell you each and every item inside one (I made A LOT: our group of nine made about 900 in a day), but overall they are little gifts like shampoos, pencils, tablets, socks, and everything else that might be given from other groups, stuffed into Ziplock baggies which will be distributed as Christmas presents.

While working in Arizona, I kept thinking that it must be really bad for someone to get excited about some hotel shampoos and a pair of socks. And it was.

The first time we went into Mexico, we walked across the border to a small marketplace in Nogales. Our group was so fast making care packages, that we had some leisure time shopping. I have never been in such a scary shopping situation in my life. We split apart into three groups, the men scattered throughout each group (as an independent woman, even I thought this was necessary), and stuck close--well, except for the time I...oh, I'll go into that later.

Anyway, the bargaining begins. The fine art of haggling. When you go into a shop on a border town they have everything in abundance, except patience for the customer. If one is going to buy something, you are to buy it quick. I felt like I was at an auction in fast-forward.

I wanted to buy a few things for my family here, and friends at school, and well, this is no easy feat for a person that likes to deliberate upon purchases for at least fifteen minutes per item. I do think that I overpaid at certain booths, but overall I think I got some pretty good deals on pots, bracelets, and necklaces, not to mention my new cactus Esteban, (I acquired him at the airport).

As for the scary shopping, Katie, my cousin in-law Becky, and I went into this shop (more like a lean-to) and were looking at the bracelets and hair clips. Two Mexican guys that were running the shop came up to us and started asking if we were sisters. Because Katie didn't want to say more than she had to, she said we were sisters. We all went along with it, but they started shepherding us into a corner. Katie said she had to go see if my mom would let her buy a clip, and promptly exited the lean-to; Becky and I followed.

Eventually we all had our get-out-of-a-sale phrases. Mine was: "No, I'm just looking. Thanks, anyway."

Sometimes--no, most times--this didn't work, and the thing that I was looking at would be clutched in the merchant's hand as he walked down the street following me to the next store. Stalkers. But sometimes this can be a good thing. When they see you walk away, they usually give you a better price.

I even got a glass squirrel. This is turning into an international obsession.

Speaking of plush obsessions, Rainbow Hector was safe, and he even had some fun posing with this cactus, looking pretty posh in his sombrero.

hectorinsombrero.jpg

I did get lost once when we were shopping. I was looking at some bracelets, and everyone disappeared. The shopkeepers kept asking me questions as I searched for my group; with every step, I knew they were getting farther away; every moment, I was closer to being stuck in Mexico, living in a shack with the three dollars I had left in my bag. I was finally rescued from the cutthroat merchants by my pastor and then the group. Sheepish me.

Soon after, we met and left Mexico. After being search at the border crossing, I was never so happy in my life to see the stars and stripes sitting beside the x-ray machines.

The next day, we went into Mexico to spend time at the Open Bible church; the guys from our group painted and helped do maintenance work there while the ladies made packages in Arizona. Our church affiliate has a compound there, and that was about the ONLY time I felt safe in Mexico.

At the church, a daycare is sponsored. On the day we visited, there were about 15 to 20 children there. My sister, Katie, is using her experiences in Mexico as a platform for her high school graduation project, and she made a craft with popsicle sticks.

What a challenge! Not knowing an inch of Spanish, we used our hands as guides, frequently pointing and making sweeping motions that probably made the Mexican children think that Americans really like sign language.

While visiting the church, we got our photo taken several times, and while taking one group shot, I felt someone stroke my forefinger, and hold it very tightly. I didn't see who it was until after the picture was finished, and all the children had returned to the play equipment--all save one: Anita.

About five years old, she is a small, delicate little girl. I picked her up, and she wrapped her legs around my waist, and clung to my neck. She has brown eyes, and unruly straight hair that did not want to stay in its pony tail. When I sat down and tried to let her go and play, she would not let go. I thought she was just being funny, but while talking with a daycare worker, I found out that she was abused by her mother; I held her tighter.

When it was time to leave the mission, I gave her a kiss on the cheek, and dropped a few tears in the sand. It is so easy to love them. You hold one close, and they take your heart. I wanted to cry even harder when I had to practically pry her legs from my waist. I wanted to just hold her there. I was even running scenarios through my head--maybe I could have a kid and still go to school, but no...

After that experience, all I really wanted to do was go back to Arizona and cry--maybe sort out my emotions or something. We still had lots to do, though.

We visited the men's rehabilitation ranch. They grow CACTUS! On the ranch they have dorms and kitchens. They wash their clothes outside on a stone. It was a crazy mix of the old and new. A cement mixer next to a chicken coop church. Let me tell you...

Then we went to the women's prison. We were stamped by a beefy guard before we entered the steel doors. I kept hoping that I wouldn't sweat the stamp off. They must use really good ink because the visitor seal still brands my wrist after about ten soapings.

We met the prisoners in an open area that had plastic furniture. While you might think that the desert is always toasty, the temperature that day was about 30 degrees. And we were on lawn furniture. :-D We sang songs, and shared our testimony about being a Christian, and I broke down when it was my turn. Their strength amid everything... A Mexican prison is not like in America. They can keep you as long as they want, and can keep you a year before even sentencing you. They have such strength that I can only attribute to God, because I know that what we have here is not enough. The ironic fact is that we were to uplift them, and instead, they brought strength to us, the visitors.

I only went into Mexico two times, and surprisingly, I was thankful. Mexico--the real Mexico--is not Cancun, the resort cities. The Mexico I discovered is shacks. With a few pieces of wood here and there and some castoff aluminum, one would have a pretty nice home in the border towns I saw. I don't intend to make light of the situation either. When you see the poverty firsthand, you lose the numbness; it is replaced by awe and pity.

When we were headed back to the States, I saw a drunk man being stripped of his jacket by a woman in 30-degree weather. I saw young men waiting in the hills to charge the U.S. border gate. I saw a drug-detecting dog pee on a tire. I saw so much.

Then I breathed when we got the green light to pass into the gate. Into America. We are so lucky to be United States citizens. I can't stress that enough.

And I do not regret one minute of missing class or my life here. I mean, I love my life and everyone in it, but I know that if or even when I am ready to take on something like this again, I will go.

This blog is rather personal, and I hope that you will comment with a certain respect to what I have said. I don't bare my soul often, and I am hesitant even to post this, but I have, and I know that what I have written is honest.

Mexico, I've learned, is just another homeland of mine; it is spanse on the map I will return to someday by plane, but for now, everyday in memory.

Just a little F.Y.I.: I have never eaten so well in my life. I checked the scale and I did gain three pounds. The tacos, quesadillas, rice, beans, and everything else was TO DIE FOR. We ate Fayth's cooking and restaurants, too. I don't think I will ever go to Taco Bell again.

In an amazing twist of turkey fate, I did have the traditional delectable meat for Thanksgiving. Fayth, angel that she is, made our group a 22-pound turkey dinner, complete with the trimmings, when we arrived in Arizona on Thursday night.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:35 PM | Comments (21)

November 24, 2004

Hola! I think.

I am off to Mexico in a few hours. Packed and ready to go. I will try to update if I can, but I don't think I will be able to...who knows? The bloginator will perhaps NOT blog over a holiday. :-D

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Missing you already.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:01 PM | Comments (2)

November 22, 2004

Temporary insomnia

When I should be sleeping, I am the most productive.

This evening I wrote three papers, critiqued another, washed laundry, and finally created "the list" for everything I have to pack for Mexico. Look, I'm even writing a blog!

The Mexico anticipation is just delicious.

The part I am looking forward to most is the flight. I absolutely love to fly. The best flying is at night when you can see the stars and the lights of the cities below. Takeoffs are fun too. Like I said...I love to fly.

The worst flying experience I had was during a band trip to Florida. We got stuck in this monsoon-type storm and the plane was shaking, but I was watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, so it didn't really get to me--just the opposite--it made the movie even better--the sound effects were immediate. Kind of like an I-MAX or a Disney ride, but better.

Anyway, when I compiled my list of everything I need to bring, I realized that I am a pretty high-maintenance woman. Everything from socks to eyeliner. Sheesh. Never fear, friends, I didn't list a suit. :-D

Okay, the sleepiness is settling in...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:21 AM | Comments (3)

November 18, 2004

Mexico Adventure (Anyone know Spanish?)

What is so odd is that when I should be staying home over Thanksgiving, my head firmly glued to books and my computer screen...I am not. I will be in Arizona--crossing the border into Mexico.

And I have to say that this religious retreat to a mission in Nogales couldn't have come at a better time. I am approaching my scholastic breaking point, and this trip will perhaps separate me from the mountains of work that lie in Greensburg, PA quite literally.

Don't get me wrong, I will be doing work on the plane and will ask the missionary for internet access when I can. A student--a worker--is what I am.

When my mom returned from her trip, I knew I would go the next time.

My mom, Katie, my sister, and I are going with a group of about 10 people from my little church.

The best part of the trip is that I will get to wear shorts, or at least capris again. How I miss summer already.

So about a year after, I am going--with strict instructions to:

  • Take mountains of pictures, one specific of Rainbow Hector that Dr. Jerz is making me take in exchange for a deadline extension. :-D
  • Sugar packets for a friend you all know. We are going through Tucson, Denver, and Mexico, so I will have a hoard of sweetness when I return.

As for what we are doing in Mexico...

  • Wrapping Christmas gifts for the Mexican children in orphanages.
  • Visiting a women's prison.
  • Helping the missionaries at their home in Tucson. They cross the border regularly to the churches in Mexico.

I'm not really sure what else we are doing, but my pastor has assured us that we are going to work. No problem. I am pretty good at that. Just do not ask me to make dinner.

We are leaving Thanksgiving morning. No turkey for me :-( I hope we can get something other than pretzels and grapejuice on the flight.

Anyway, when I get back, I will have that mountain of pics posted here for all to enjoy.

Oh yeah. I don't know any Spanish. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 2, 2004

First Vote: Reflection

Lots of firsts this year. Including voting.

I registered in high school, but for the past few years, I have, much to my dismay, not voted on the primaries or any other elections. My excuses have been school-oriented. "Amanda," I berate myself, "What a bunch of crap."

This election, above all others, I thought I would get in there--into the booth of terror--and move some levers around.

I arrived at the polling place in my town, the kindergarten through second-grade school, and entered the building, surprisingly with only two pieces of semi-literature in hand: two notebooks from the local candidates. One candidate rep. also gave me candy that looked like it had been sitting in the sun too long.

When I got into the building, I was expecting some kind of mad rush, but it turned out surprisingly placid and quiet--homey almost. The ladies running the polls were dressed in their collared shirts and scotch-guard slacks, looking like they were ready for someone to serve tea.

The lady attending the books asked my name, and promptly started to search for it. "I can't find it. I see your mom and your dad, but not you. Amanda, right?"

I think she was one of my neighbors, but I don't remember her name.

I REALLY wanted to vote today, so I helped her look through the books, and I spied my high school loopy signature and finally was given permission to enter the booth.

I am afraid of that thing. My mom used to work the polls when I was younger and I never understood why people went into the noisy little booth and left with such solemn looks on their faces--contemplative.

I figured it out. So many little levers. After a gray-haired little lady taught me the procedures, I pulled the big huge lever to close the doors and got straight to work.

Then I pulled the big lever and was finished. So easy that I thought I did it wrong. I kind of wanted to stay in there a while and look at the mechanisms of the booth a little bit more, but alas, I had made my decision and the 70's- inspired curtains thrust outward. My vote was in.

That's it. I stepped out of the booth and moved on with my life. I hope America can do the same thing, no matter who comes out the victor.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:55 PM | Comments (6)

October 23, 2004

Best Gift EVER!

squirrelgift.jpg

My mom just came home from a church conference in Columbus, OH and brought me this little squirrel back. She got him/her in a specialty store. I have been looking everywhere for one. I guess only Ohioans? Ohioanettes? Ohiourgers? can appreciate the value of a decorative squirrel.

You can't imagine my response when she gave me it. :-)

I don't know what I want to call it...Any suggestions? I can't wait to put him in my car!!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:12 PM | Comments (7)

Blogging depression

Okay, so maybe I am getting a wee bit depressed every time I visit my blog. I miss everyone. I miss the wonderful traffic, the talks in school after someone has written an outrageous entry, and the fun of jumping through my archives and seeing every day on blog calendar underlined.

I have been stressing over two blogs that I am supposed to write: one on Native American literature and one on the "Devil's Dictionary" that I did for my speech. Please forgive, Dr. Jerz, I am mentioning assigned blogs. While I will post a rather full and analytical blog on each set of writings, I would just like to vent a bit on each of the readings.

The Native American writings are full of question marks around words. Even the transcribers didn't know what the writers were talking about. Each of the writings seems to meander along, referring to creatures that I do not have any way of knowing, for example this one. While I love reading, I get really irritated when my question marks in the margins outweigh the real notes on the subjects.

As for "The Devil's Dictionary", I did a huge entry on it for my speech, however, the requirement is to blog on all the selected readings. I brought out all my best ideas on my blog about the subject, and this entry is looking rather pathetic in comparison.

As for the number of my blogs this year, I find that I am steadily losing momentum. Blogging, as much as I lament it, has taken a back seat to everything else littering my white, dry-erase board in my room.

About the community relationship too. The freshmen and I have been separated by time, and my fellow sophomores are just as busy as I am, discovering that blogging takes a lot from one's schedule (at least quality blogging).

I feel as if I have sapped enough time away from philosophy, so I must go back to reality--the place where this girl is starting to despise.

I am missing you, Girl Meets World, but know that I will return, full-force one of these days. I know you are jealous of The Setonian.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:07 AM | Comments (5)

October 19, 2004

A new view

Blurred vision. Check. Headaches. Check.

So I a have been having some problems with my vision in the past few months. Prolonged reading in books, computers, driving incessantly, and the fact that my contacts haven't been updated in about two years.

Let it be known to all that I am incredibly near-sighted. So embarrasing. I can't see anything but fuzziness when my contacts are out. Is that a dog...or a really big cat? Um...dunno.

Anyway, today I finally got in, my appointment actually starting on-time.

But I did arrive early. This is not an ordinary office. In my little town, the offices tend to be so as well. I felt like my closet is a bigger space. :-D Just some chairs, carpet, and a few nice-looking advertising boards with people with the fanciest colored contacts and Hilfiger glasses accent the waiting room. So I was there with almost every seat filled--about ten of them. I hate to be an eavesdropper, but one conversation between a mother and her outrageous teenager begged to be heard, principally because they were shouting at each other.

It went something like this:

Mother: Why can't you just leave your sister alone? (whispered, but very audible tone)

Girl: BECAUSE! She gets away with EVERYTHING. I don't understand why I get SCREAMED at all the time, and she just gets away with it. (YELLING! The tones reverberating throughout the closet, I mean waiting room)

Mother: Do you HAVE to yell? (whispering--I can hear every word) You don't act like that in a DOCTOR's office. You don't act like that in a public place (italics mine).

Girl: I am going to say whatever I want. If I feel something I am going to say it. I am not going to keep my feelings in.

Mother: You will learn when you are a parent.

Girl: Who says I want to be a parent?

While I didn't share the yelling part of the interlude in my experience as a teenager--yes I still am one on the verge of being a twenty-something--I did share passionate "discussions" like this with my mom when I was her age.

So much to learn.

Anyway, I couldn't help thinking that this seemed a lot like something out of a WB series. Dawson's Creek, 7th Heaven or something.

Are people really like that? As I write this I can't help but connect it to Doogie Hauser.

So after all of the dramatics by the three little ladies, I was very happy to get inside.

Optometry tests are really scary for me--I never pass them. haha. My eyes are rather bad, flattened corneas or something. I just smile and nod at the blurry face in front of me (my contacts are out at the moment). Thankfully, this doctor seems to know what he is doing. He gave me the 411 on laser surgery and talked me through contact care.

The freakiest part about the entire examination is when he dialated my eyes with this liquid that looks like iodine. I felt like someone was rubbing cotton in my eyes. And very sleepy. I have to get it done again for a prolonged period in December for glacoma testing. Argh.

After that, I got a new pair of contacts, and a free sample of solution. I have another appointment next week. Apparently, he isn't really satisfied with the prescription yet.

I am, though. I can see EVERYTHING now. Blurred vision. Gone. Headaches...well, we'll have to see about getting rid of some stress in my life. Huzzah!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:07 AM | Comments (8)

October 11, 2004

LOL in Library

Just reading some blogs, and I almost died.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:26 PM | Comments (1)

October 8, 2004

Friday Frenzy

Apart from freaking about things that are due on Monday, this Friday was cake. A lovely day, only two classes, and a shopping trip to Gabes. While Tiffany, Cara, Chelsie, and I planned on hitting the thrift stores in the area, we had to get back to school for other fun, so we just went to Gabes.

Anyway, when I shop, I shop. I had a buggie full (Southwestern PA for "cart" full) when the rest of my pals only had one or two items. I found a sweet suit for my next speech, formal meeting, or just for the next let's-get-dressed-up-because-I-am-feeling-like-crap day.

Perhaps Monday I will don the suit. I do have a presentation and I have a feeling that I will feel like crap.

But tonight I am taking it easy. Romeo + Juliet, courtesy of pal Athena and Baz Luhrman, is my entertainment. I will be reading some d'Holbach later, and perhaps some Source. I have a feeling the Michener will put d'Holbach to shame. The Source is actually getting pretty good. Recommendations to all who decide Near East culture is worth researching AND have the luxury of plot.

Thus begins my wonderful weekend. Next week looks daunting in my black planner of death. Tests, Setonian production, readings, audio recordings, photos, portfolio AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

SERENITY NOW!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:56 PM | Comments (6)

October 7, 2004

My hours

I am in the Setonian office right now, listening to John Mayer. I posted hours this week. While I chose this job because I would not have set hours, I think this is a good thing--it makes me be in the office, and it makes the writers and editors, that don't have a key, a little more plugged into the Setonian experience. As of now, however, I am not doing anything Setonian--or anything really, except blogging. I should be reading philosophy. Hume is next on the list. Michener's The Source is also on my list for Hebrew Scriptures. What a great book, especially because I am reading it without thinking that it is homework (ARGH).

I have a speech on Monday about "The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce. I had no idea it was that long. I pasted it into Microsoft Word and I put it into two columns to a page, size 8 font, and it still took up 85 pages. More trees. Lumberjack AC that's me--or Amanda Bunyan. It has a certain ring :-)

I haven't begun reading it, except what I picked up when I copied it. I will update when I have a better impression. I have a feeling the narrator is a smart ace in this one though...

If you are presenting on this topic, or know anything about this topic or Bierce, feel free to post here. You would be doing me a great favor. Or maybe I will offer some incentive: if you post something helpful on this blog, pertaining to "The Devil's Dictionary" or Ambrose Bierce, I will comment on your blog, and we all know how much we need comments for our blogs (for various reasons).

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:03 PM | Comments (2)

October 4, 2004

More Tidbits

This is the proto-type for amazing things to come...be prepared. :-)

While many of you already know me pretty well--perhaps more than you or I would like...

However, I thought for the new people on the SHU blogs would like to know a little bit about the first year SHU experience and about me.

*FYI: I write about the funny things (at least the events I think are humorous on my blog) Hope you have a good time clicking through my links. Some are old, some relatively new. Just giving you a full flavor of the variety of things I have written about and how I have grown as a writer, blogger and person.

In Past Times

Worst I-can-share experiences
Best I-can-share experiences
Combo Supremos I adore
  • Cappuchino/cookies
  • Cottage cheese and pineapple
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy (What's Atkins'?)
  • Garlic toast and meat sauce
  • Hot fudge and peanut butter ice cream
My Director's Cut
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Bridget Jones' Diary
  • LOTR: Return of the King
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Fight Club

This is kind of fun...HTML isn't the demon that I had previously thought...and bringing a lot of your work together in one place is like a scrapbook that won't go turn to acid ashes as the years pass.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:34 PM | Comments (5)

September 28, 2004

Update: SHU Squirrel Dearth...and the Drive

Squirrels

While waiting for the infamous shuttle at Seton Hill University to take me down to the nether regions of the extended "D" lot (the one with the handicapped parking spaces), I noticed--get this--two squirrels careening through the grass.

They were frolicking a bit close to the road so I shooed them up a tree, where they safely stowed away their nutty delectables. I hope they may find a tree farther away from the pothole drive.

The Drive

Today, while going around a curve, I almost lost a tire in the pothole. I am about ready to go walking down the hill with a bag of cement.

While I do not have documented proof of this statement, the shuttle driver, one of the campus police officials said that the drive will be paved after the construction is complete. Can we wait this long? Is patching the drive a possibility?

I fear for my entire car going up the drive. If something isn't done soon, I will either lose a wheel, an exhaust, or the rear end of my Chevy.

FYI: There is a pattern that you must take to avoid the crevasses: Swerve left, veer right, and go into the other lane (that is, if no one is in it), and then finally clench your teeth when you see Elizabeth Anne Seton (the statue) ahead--the BIG ONE is coming up.

GRAVEL. TAR. CEMENT. REEDS FROM THE NILE. Whatever it takes to keep me a mobile commuter. We could have a flashmob and each dump a handful of gravel into the holes...imagine what we could accomplish!!

Maybe that is a bit extreme...but something needs to be done.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:10 PM | Comments (11)

September 23, 2004

Amanda Cochran, journalist, makes her way

My first press pass. My first real-life encounter with journalism. And the president was there. (I do not plan on turning this blog into a political forum, I never have, as far as I can recall, but now more than ever, I do plan on keeping my political views to myself.)

While I will do full coverage on the Setonian site for Friday, complete with student opinions, I would just like to look at the experience from my perspective.

After entering the area, being searched for pointy or overly fiery ballpoint pens and the like, my companions and I decided to fan out to interview. Suddenly, a man, I am guessing a volunteer, on a power trip, walks up to me, and asks me if I am part of the press.

Because the administrative people faxed our 'credentials' paper late, we were not permitted to get passes; however, to get my pass, I gave the turquoise-jacketed lady in charge (after I was apprehended and taken to the "misfit" regions of the Arnold Palmer airstrip) the address to the Setonian blog, where she would see my work! YAY for blogs!!!

After that incident, the man with the power trip, would not let me out into the general admission area anymore to question people or take pics; but the turn of events was not bad...I was ushered to the press area where, after about a half an hour, I was given my first official press pass--the White House insignia on it, no less. Needless to say, I was thrilled at my view, that I had a seat, and that my camera had fresh batteries.

In the course of waiting, staring out into the crowd, taking pictures, and awed by the network television stations cameras and tripods (I was so snooping), another man introduced himself, a radio personality from Indiana, Ken Hawk. We chatted for a bit, and he gave me his card, wherein I gave him our newspaper's blog address and mentioned that I desperately needed cards to save my hand from further duress and my pride from looking like a complete amateur. :-)

After a while, people started packing in to hear the band and the rest of the festivities, which I will highlight in my article, and I sat there or stood there amazed at the people I was seeing. When the president did finally arrive, the journalists, photographers, and camerapeople, I could hardly contain myself. I loved watching them in action. I learned so much from watching them prepare and execute their mediums: print, television, and radio, as far as I know were represented.

Their practices I will learn in theory in a classroom, but there is something about applying the craft in a real-life situation that I need to learn beyond the professor/student environment. I think I am going to start looking for a copy of that internship guide mentioned on the NMJ blog this week.

After Bush arrived, I took more pics and then got down to business being a journalist. The press pool was very cut-throat for space by then. I had to practically bend myself backward over the platform railing to get a decent picture.

Afterward, we waited in traffic for a very long time, and I took off my pointy shoes. I also drank about a three gallons of water. I would like to say thank you to Ken Hawk for the plastic dixie cup of H2O he sent up my way. What a lovely gesture.

Today I'll never forget. My press pass is scrapbook-bound and so is the article that I plan on writing (note to self: get going). Experiences like this make me more firm in my career path. Thank you Seton Hill University, Dr. Jerz, my advisor, Anne Stadler, my editor-in-chief, and Justin Norris, my ticket-getter, for making this one of the most memorable days of my professional life. I truly appreciated this opportunity.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:19 AM | Comments (23)

September 18, 2004

Lament for Ur (News Pap-ur)

So this was my Friday night...Mesopotamian pessimism anyone?

Articles are missing.
The editors mourn.

Macs are demons intechcarnate.
The editors mourn.

The pages won't print.
The editors mourn.

Ten hours in an office.
The editors mourn.

Back to the dorm with Ivan.
The editors mourn.

While we did have some set-backs last night in the office, I had a wonderful time eating the garlicky pizza that stunk up the office (the editors...ah, forget it).

Anyway, the paper is about halfway through production. I think Anne, the editor-in-chief, myself and the rest of the editors are learning a lot about working with writers and copyeditors, Macs (which act and sound like people--FREAKISH), and each other in a work/party setting.

I have never had so much fun being stressed. My editorial life is one grand oxymoron!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:10 PM | Comments (21)

September 14, 2004

Seton Hill Squirrel Dearth

H'okay so there aren't squirrels on campus anymore. Could it be the heavy machinery?

I saw a chipmunk today, scampering about the garbage can outside the library, but nothing can quite compare to the real article.

If you have seen squirrels (oh! you fortunate few), please post a general locale where I may see some on campus. I am getting worse by the day.

Maybe I will just abandon all scholarly studies this week and take a trip to Olney.

I'm losing it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:45 PM | Comments (7)

September 9, 2004

Week Two of SHU: Top Ten

10. Editorial meeting with Setonian staff. I think wonderful things are going to happen this year.

9. Peanut butter pie in the dining hall. I AM A PEANUT BUTTER FIEND. I guess I just love nutty things.

8. Blogging like mad. I think I have commented myself out on the new blogs. Be an advocate of SHU blogging. Check out the newbies.

7. Cleaning up the Setonian office and decorating. The signs are colorful and the room is relatively clean.

6. Opening Liturgy--Although I am not a Catholic, I think this is a great way to start out the year. Students assemble in the Seton Hill St. Joseph's Chapel and "take mass." Is that right? Though I do get a bit embarrassed when I don't know the hymns or return addresses to the father, I do feel very connected to my classmates in sharing this time together.

5. No classes because of the liturgy. Need I say more?

4. Getting busy once more. I remember over the summer, I was bored out of my mind. My mind, rather than my brute forcefulness (of which there is little), is getting a workout. The work is just enough to keep me on edge, but not put me over the cliff like last year.

3. Meal plans rock. I have three lunches in the dining hall this year. Now, I don't have to surreptiously "borrow" desserts from pals. And friends don't have to deplete their flex on me. I just have to pack the other two days. No biggie.

2. Righteous femurs--lots of them on campus. Karissa, you know what I mean.

1. I got my hair cut this morning. I get freaked out when people start hacking at my locks. But this time it worked out pretty well. It has layers up to my chin and about an inch taken off the bottom (I like the length).

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:18 PM | Comments (12)

August 29, 2004

Breathe, Amanda, Breathe

Yes, school will be back in session tomorrow.

After the arduous week of orientation at Seton Hill University: Griffin Days filled with exciting activities, such as Playfair, a Variety Show, and the World Series, a set of play stations in Sullivan Gym, I am sagging in exhaustion, but strangely, edgy.

This afternoon, Anne Stadler and I also spruced up the Setonian/Eye Contact office. The new carpet, open areas, and much cleaner work spaces, create the welcoming and attractive atmosphere that we hoped to achieve. I can't wait to start the first issue--if anything, we could just sit and admire our handiwork :-D

However, the week had to come to an end. The saddest sensation washed over me today; as I was lugging out my suitcase and duffle to my car, everyone else was lugging in theirs. Commuting really stinks sometimes.

Now, finally back at home, I can reclaim my room that my sister has been inhabiting for five days, and get ready for tomorrow.

I just did some preliminary work with my planner. Keeping my "schedule" (English pronunciation; it always sounds better) is going to be a job in and of its self. I am signed up for 17 credits, but I am doing an 18 credit workload. I know that others are taking on more, but nevertheless, I am still wary. Some things never change.

I guess now my readers from the EL 236 class: Writing for the Web that click on my link will have something new to read. I have never been described as a mentor before--what a heavy title; let's see if I can lighten that up a little this year--not to mention myself. :-)


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:45 PM | Comments (5)

August 22, 2004

No Planner to Dust Off

Another Wal-Mart excursion. Binders only $2.48 each. I only bought three because, oh gosh, I am reusing the ones salvageable from last semester. While perusing the shelves for functional, yet hardy, yet pretty binders, I also scoped out the planners, resting unawares on the shelves above.

If you know me, or know of my office supply obsession, or more succinctly my need for organization, you will understand the importance of a great planner. The Seton Hill-provided planners that freshmen received last year--myself included--were perfect. However, as the year has waned, so have the pages in my little red book.

And onto my search for the next planner-o-Amanda...

The criterion:
--Big calendars at the beginning of the planner, big enough for me to write detailed descriptions of events (if needed).
--Strong binding (My old one looks like it been chucked into a woodchipper)
--Large day areas in a weekly format for me to write assignments.
--Decent-looking cover
--Note space in the back in case I forget paper for a class

When I was at the SHU bookstore last week, I asked another student if they provided planners for upperclassmen as well. She said that she doesn't remember. Does anyone really know? Does anyone know of a planner that encapsulates all that I desire?

In the mean time, I will wander aimlessly from shelf to shelf, ardently searching for my planner-to-be.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:14 PM | Comments (7)

August 19, 2004

Revolutions

With my second year of college fast approaching and my summer ending, a bittersweetness accents these days.

Alas, tuition, books, and school supplies will bind me financially, as usual, but this time around, I am apprehensive about more complicated things.

Karissa will not be returning this semester, much to my dismay. I can be so selfish. Things will not be the same without her.

And I keep having these crazy dreams about school. Disintegrating staircases. Singing arias in the chapel. Nutso. No more pickles before bed.

However, I am ready to head back to work on all fronts. The Setonian. Classes. Personal Life. Yes, in that order (or so I have been advised ;-) ).

Though I am sorry to see my favorite season come to a close and the work looming (dust off that planner), I am ready to start a new year armed with some experience and a refreshed mind. Let's hope EBSCO Host cooperates this year. *Gags* (onomatopoeia is cool, isn't it?) . I can't believe I thought of that.

Who knows? Maybe I will try some of my "supercool" adventures at Seton Hill :-) Awww yeah.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:15 AM | Comments (8)

August 11, 2004

Adventure 2: The Big GL

Monday was my extended family trip to Geauga Lake. I didn't think I was going to make it out alive.

We left on Sunday afternoon and headed out on the grand PA Turnpike listening mostly to country, but I added in some Aerosmith, Enya, Lavigne, and Hoobastank to break up the G. Brooks cacophony. Introducing my Chesney-loving aunt wasn't pretty. Don't get me wrong, I do love country, but I draw the line at some of this new crap like "Redneck Woman" (I know everyone thinks that is THE BEST SONG EVER, but I HATE it with a passion).

Anyway, as we were driving down the highway in my aunt's car with untinted windows, I noticed many people watching us. I guess our air guitaring tricks and flying Twizzlers tricks caught their attention. But who knows? The car could have attracted some attention--it is a nice shade of black. Very pretty for a black car, I suppose.

After arriving at Aurora, close to my cousin Amy's house (the one that blogs--just got married), we got a room and headed to the local Bob Evans, shunning other restaurants playfully named Mr. Chicken or Uborio's Italian Restaurante.

After eating we went to my cousin's new "yuppie" (my aunt gave it that title)apartment complex. Lovely. Such a nice home for two people starting out. Amy's closet rivals mine in size, but she only gets one side. It must really stink being married. :-)

When we reached the hotel, the pool was closed :-( and we were pretty saggy-eyed from the trip out so we decided to cram ourselves in bed. There were 10 of us in 2 rooms.

Around 9:00 we got ready and had a "continental breakfast", which usually includes a soggy danish, a crumbly bagel, and/or orange juice that has somehow mixed with the other two juices on either side of it in the machine. I like this definition better. Why the title continental? I kept thinking. It makes you think of a breakfast as big as the 48 states, when in fact, it is the antithesis of such a description.

Anyway, when we did finally rech Geauga Lake, I was stunned. I like to come to these parks without expection for fear they will be dashed to pieces by a mega-kiddie land and 2 semi-comatose coasters. Not this time.

The first coaster I rode went so many directions, half of our crew almost spewed forth the continental repast. I loved it.

I can't even count how many I rode. Over and over. Go on a weekday, folks. You can get off, and then jump right back on.

X-Flight, THE RIDE OF THE DAY, however, was something to behold. With green tracks and a black infastructure, this was the first ride I saw, and even from the ground it takes your breath away. We tried riding it first, but it was closed for repairs--inhancing the mystique and danger factor. I had to go back. After waiting in the longest line of the day, we finally got strapped in--chest strap and legs--the closest thing to a straight jacket. The oddest thing is that you lie down, the blood rushing to your head. And then you face the ground and spiral on the first drop. What am I doing? Ride it yourself.

The wave pool was also nice. The no-sand factor was a definite plus.

The mono-rail was excellent as well. Who says it has to be fast all the time. The best part is that they rate every ride in speed. According to the sign, the mono-rail is a "mild thrill ride". I guess being in an open car above the park is sort of a thrill. Who am I to judge?

One sad part filled the day, however. When we walked over to the show side of the park--once Sea World. I loved Sea World. I even dabbled with the idea of becoming a marine biologist, I don't know--about 6 years after my visit there. How sad to know that the tanks were empty and no orcas, dolphins, or sharks were there.

After one of the longest days, we finally hit the parking lot pavement for the long walk back to the vehicles. So much longer than when we came in. My cousins jumping garbage cans--big ones--filled up the monotony however. One made it and the other now has a new skin combination: black and blue.

I slept most of the way home, my five-year old cousin, Daniel huddled at my side. According to Auntie Melanie we were "snug as a bug in a rug". Great days end in the best ways. With a nap.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:04 AM | Comments (5)

July 30, 2004

The Chair a.k.a. Adventure One

Driving home from my aunt's house after imbibing quite freely with blackberry dumplings and coffee, a giant cardboard sign screaming FREE in the darkness caught my eye.

Be aware that my family has that gene. You know which one I am talking about: the I-see-something-along-the-road-and-I-pick-it-up-to-show-visitors-how-much-I-saved one. Yes, the one that I have tried to suppress the past 19 years of my life, a life filled with various characters, I mean relations, picking up items that are supposedly worthwhile and loading them into the ever-dwindling trunk space of van, pick-up, or sedan. My mother, I believe, bought her huge van solely for this reason.

I thought the gene had skipped this generation, but tonight's events proved quite the opposite.

The blue chair (and ottoman) sat quietly in the darkness, waiting to be plucked. I did not know that that person would be me, until I started with the inquiries.

"Mom, I saw this chair. We have to get this chair. It looks really nice. I don't know where we are going to put it, but we have to get it. Will you help me get it?"

Dad "The Muscle" Cochran would not go; so after some coercion, Katie decided she would aid in my chair adventure.

Driving with lights dim, we headed for the chair. She said she wasn't going to get out until I checked it out.

So I did. Sniffing, prodding, sitting, and eventually lifting, I began the chair's trek toward home. It would not be so easy. Chairs do not like to be lifted, especially velvet ones. Slipping out of our hands, we laughed as someone approached.

Then lights shined at us. Katie said something like "If someone comes out here, I'll leave it." But we got going.

Gasping for breath, our giggles escaping, we finally secured the chair and ottoman in my Corsica and headed down the hill toward home. Luckily, it was a short drive because I didn't have anything to secure the chair in my trunk. Needless to say, we took the semi-flat route home, attempting to keep the blue mass lodged.

Then we realized the chair had a problem. A slight issue of smell. I think it had been sitting in the basement for a while. My mom, Katie and I eventually starting singing "Smelly Chair" in the tradition of Phoebe's "Smelly Cat" on Friends.

No prob. With a bit of Febreze, carpet and furniture foam and some time, we'll have that thing in our house, a smellin' and sittin' pretty. Maybe as a sitting area in my closet; it needs a little decor.

Adventure One: Check.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:39 AM | Comments (14)

July 24, 2004

Counting down County

If you haven't noticed, I have added a little something to my blog. Yes, Dr. Jerz, I am learning a little more about HTML and Java.

Anyway, it is on your left if you don't know what I am talking about--or right if you have dislexic vision (sometimes I do).

I am very excited about this event. So excited that I plan on August craziness. What is this craziness that I speak of? Squirrel watching? No--but that would be fun.

Geauga Lake with family very soon. Perhaps a late trip to the beach (Stacy we have to talk). Weekends.

After all the whining I have done over the past year, yes, one terrible year at that place, I am finally going to be free. I will not say that all of my experience there has been bad; I have met many nice people, but irregardless, I hated it. Period. The end.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:12 AM | Comments (9)

July 8, 2004

An Interesting Sister

From diaper genies, to sticker collections, to hair pulling fights, and finally cars, Katie and I have shared everything for as long as I can remember. Sisters are required to do that.

And now, just when things are starting to go well--the hairpulling stops and the tears taper off--she refuses to tell me things. I have become the older sister that she doesn't tell me anything about her life because her activities may be illegal, or frightening to the older, protective sister--me.

I can understand, and that is probably the most problematic element of this entire situation; I probably wouldn't tell my older sister what I planned to do with my friends if I knew she may be a tattle-tale risk.

However, I don't think she understands where I stand on this whole older sister deal. I wanted to do all the things she is doing now. And I respect her for taking those risks.

Why didn't I do them? I was too busy in high school, building my incredible college resume, to do fun stuff exclusively with pals. Most of my friendships were built around the activity I was taking part in, and when that play, recital, publication session or season came to a close, so did the short-lived connection.

The entirety of my party time in high school was movie nights about once a month, which ended at 11:00 because I had actually followed the driving curfew. Or sleepovers, with my close-knit group of pals that were all as relatively subdued as I.

Okay, so you are probably all thinking I am some kind of exhaust pipe rusting away in your basement, but I assure you that I am not. My passions have always existed in work, and I am proud that I can give my all to something, but now, more than ever, I am starting to see how interesting life could be if I would just loosen up, and follow my sister's lead.

I have been the example for years, always doing the "right" thing, and now, seeing her so happy, so wonderfully excited about her life and future, I question what is really the "right" thing.

And what I have come to discover is that she is the interesting one. She is the one shaving creaming houses and talking into the wee hours of the morning on the phone. She is the one still making all of her payments on her car, still getting through school, and still having a marvelous time.

Can't I do the same? I hope so, because I was on the brink of crazy this past year. I don't want to do it again. Let's hope some experience in college time management will help in this ongoing balance battle.

I am sending out an SOS to mes amies. With the school year fast approaching, I ask that you stop me if I am sitting reading a book on a Friday night, tell me to--no, take the book from me--until at least Saturday. Even if I pummel you with my cold fists take it, hide it, and tell me to "get interesting" (that's the new "it" phrase, after all :-)). Tell me to go egg someone. It is for my own good.

I will be grateful in the long run. If that happens, just get me a cappuchino. A cappuchino and a pet squirrel. That's all I want.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:48 AM | Comments (5)

July 6, 2004

Librarians with laquer...and paint thinner

A cantankerous (I love that word) odor wafted throughout the library today. The head librarian, and I quote, said, "My tongue is burning."

I didn't know that people's tongues could burn at unpleasant smells.

Anyway, she knew something was up the moment she opened the door this morning.

I arrived at the library around 5:30 and the smell continued to waft, the waftability of the smell spurred Carole, of the burning tongue variety, to turn on the fans, thus circulating the infected air a little more rapidly.

Then she came out from the back room and what to our wondering eyes should appear, but 6 leaking bottles of paint thinner and laquer, oh dear.

I don't even know what paint thinner and laquer are doing at the library. I guess they used these substances to hold the books together or....why not ask someone?

Okay, Barb (another librarian) said that they are for preserving the books in a cheaper manner than plastic coverings.

So, I guess when the libraries finally got funding a few decades ago, the paint thinner was scrapped, or thrown in a backroom to eat away at the cans and then the cabinets in which they are stored, and perhaps, catch fire.

No, the library didn't burst into flames, but we do lots of demonstrations, including some with other flammable substances. If anyone would have made one of those volcano paper-mache du-flickers and lit it, the MP library may have been a nice place to make smores.

Onto the real reason behind this entry. Is there? Oh yes. The smell. While cleaning up the gooey mess, we all got a little, um, well--you know. We shut the cabinet several times to ward off the smell, but...

And I know what you are saying to yourself, dear readers. Librarians getting high? Unheard of.

Well, not today. And I was the only one under 40.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:32 PM | Comments (1)

July 3, 2004

Another Pseudo-Objective

I have been out of the loop on the entire Farenheit 9/11 film, but wanting to catch up I did a little reading, and this article by Randor Guy was the first pick on Google. First pick? Even algorithms should have better taste.

The article doesn't even start out well. "Never in the history of motion pictures in America has so much controversy been generated by a single movie, a documentary, as has Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11'. "

What about Citizen Kane? The Passion of the Christ?

And then Randor Guy goes from bad to worse.

Exhibit A:
Articles should not contain exclamation points!!!

"He [Moore] went even to the extent of calling Americans, ‘idiots’ for assuming many things about themselves like ‘world supremacy’, which according to him are all just hot air!"

Exhibit B:

Statements of blatant support of the subject.

"With the thumping success of Fahrenheit 89/11 Michael Moore has emerged as a formidable social commentator and crusader against the American establishment. And also as a cult figure in America."

Expressions, such as "thumping success," "crusader against the American establishment," and "cult figure" inspire both awe and a certain cool factor, which the author connects to Moore. These expressions could easily have a counterpoint, which automatically disqualifies the entire article as news.

Still, the article is listed under news, rather than editorial. Pseudo-objective by placement, but not by content. I hope that readers are intelligent enough not to trust this Guy.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:42 AM | Comments (4)

Worker Bee Dies

Okay, I work three jobs. I had a minor epiphany last night while looking at my schedule for the Fourth of July. 6:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.--working through the fireworks. What have I become?

So, I have decided to quit. One job has to go. A County Market employee no more.

Well, I have to go back next summer, that is, unless I find something better--perhaps cleaning bird baths or waxing old ladies. I will not think about that now.

Right now, I just want to concentrate on getting through the 7 p.m.-3 a.m. shift scheduled for tonight. That is, after I finish here at the library.

This is heinous.

Too much work makes Amanda boring.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:43 AM | Comments (3)

June 28, 2004

Update: Momma Cheetah

Mom (aka Momma Cheetah) is ensconced away in the halls of Pittsburgh's UPMC Montefiore Hospital. I hate the number on her door; I want to rip it off.

She has lived through the local hospital, but now we have to drive to Pittsburgh to see her. Not that I don't like to take a small roadtrip.

I miss her around the house. Her room is still clean. Odd.

The doctors still don't know exactly what is wrong. She goes in for two zillion more tests this morning.

She is awake and talkative, but very sore. In the past weeks she has fainted twice, injuring her chin and shoulder. I couldn't help thinking that she should visit The Blackburn Center, her bruises turning a pretty shades of green and yellow.

I just feel like I can't say the right thing to anyone when I answer the phone.

Me: Hello.
Family Friend or Relative: How's your mom?
Me: I don't really know. I have been working all weekend, and I have been told that they still don't know what is wrong.
FF or R: Did they say anything?
Me: I don't know.
FF or R: Oh, can I talk to your sister?

Yep, that's right. Amanda is the failure of a daughter, the reclusive writer that should just move away and get the big job that she wants and let the family business to the family.

Insecurities? Hell yeah.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:29 PM | Comments (4)

June 22, 2004

Set the scene: Hospital

Mom is in the hospital again. I don't know what we are going to do with her.

While I am not going to focus on her symptoms or the extent of her condition, I will note some things that are extremely crappy about hospitals.

1. The smell. I can't stand the latex/jello/unmentionable fluid odor that pervades the hallways. I think, if bottled, the smell would fit nicely as a Harry Potter jelly bean.

2. Bad diagnosis. My mom's initial visit to the hospital was on Saturday, and they sent her home because they thought it was some kind of "other" thing--much less severe. The problems persisted over the week, and now she has to miss even more of her life because of the ER doctor's incompetence.

3. Cold. My poor mother is lying in bed, shivering. Can someone say "meat cooler"? I guess they are trying to keep the germs at bay; but really, shouldn't they try something like disinfectant? I went home to get another quilt for her. At least I know the flowers in her room will stay pretty.

However, hospitals are good for getting people better. I must realize that.

Just a little update on her condition (I know I said I wouldn't give particulars): she is going to be okay with some time. Let's hope the hospital doesn't kill her.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:40 PM | Comments (7)

June 21, 2004

What's that smell?

My room is clean.

I have no dust, dirt, lint, or...mold.

Mold? you ask.

Yes, mold. Lying in bed, I could barely stand the smell.

I washed my dirty clothes. Since I have been swimming a lot lately, I thought I may have a problem with the wet clothes in the hamper. Nope. Still smelly.

Then came the next attack: off-brand air freshener. Big mistake. Now I had the combination of an old bouqet and the unmistakable illusive odor.

Walking over to the windows, I noticed my decorative pitcher was not decorative anymore, the entire bottom was full of darkened water.

I emptied it, and it finally struck; when I was away at orientation on Thursday night, it had rained into my bedroom--onto my carpet. The mold was right there beneath my feet.

Unfortunately, the mold/mildew had also spread to my linens in the cedar chest that sits beneath my windows. I thought I had opened some kind of bog as I was cleaning.

And before I get chastised for not closing my windows, I would just like to intimate the matter further. I left a note on my dry-erase board, stating, quite clearly, to close my windows if it would rain. Why not do it myself? It was hot, and closing them would mean stagnant air and suffocation for the upper floor of my house. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but I thought I was doing a good deed.

The mold has been vanquished, however. I foamed the carpet and sent the linens to the big monster downstairs.

I guess I have learned a very valuable lesson, one that will not mold with age--sorry that was really cheesy. HAHA. I can't stop myself.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:06 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2004

Girl Meets World Refresher

I guess being a bad blogger is running in the bloginator family. Other things--rather mundane things--are taking up my time.

I would like to offer a nice top ten of the things that I have been doing/thinking about lately.

10. I am letting my fingernails grow for the first time in my life. I was a terrible nailbiter, especially this school year, but with willpower, I am conquering this vice. I am getting used to the feeling of longer nails. I catch myself looking down at them a lot. Vanity!

9. The Witch of Blackbird Pond: Never read it. I know, I am a terribly depraved English major because I didn't read it when I was twelve. Sorry. I am really enjoying it. The themes are very similar to The Scarlet Letter, well, minus the whole sexual thing. I am not very far, so things could change. She is getting kind of chummy with Nat Eaton right now. I guess there really is something about sailors. :-)

8. More sun. I am beginning to peel. My white complexion has vanished with red.

7. I am also reading Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America by Myrna Blyth. A compelling, yet biased read. Though she does cite her statistical sources, I have been noticing many instances of heresay. The author was an editor for Ladies' Home Journal and she probably knows her business, but I am trying to think objectively. I am growing to love poking holes in arguments; however, it is something to write a book, and I must give her that.

6. On the subject of liberalism, I have been closely following Ben Shapiro, UCLA graduate, that has published his book, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth. I really don't know how I stand on his argument, but I would like to read it. According to the article, the book has been selling well on the internet. Maybe I could surreptitiously suggest it to the librarian as a potential new purchase.

5. Working like mad. Last week I did 57 hours. I only get tired at County Market, though.

4. I have been thinking about the fall semester. I will be quitting County Market until the next summer. As a Setonian editor, I will probably be living/commuting. Special thanks go out to Lori and Karissa for offering their room (a.k.a. exhaustion haven) for sleepovers.

3. Orientation is on Thursday. I can't wait to see everyone again. While the girls I watch are great companions, I miss people my age, and because I barely had time to keep myself going over the school year, my high school pals and I have drifted apart. I can't wait to mingle with people my own age again. Griping together is priceless.

2. To all those that read this, I have missed you. It is strange to think how you can hop from one life to another in a couple of months. You remain a remnant of that past life, that person, but you are changed by those days. While I can't say how I will be changed by these days, I know I am still learning--just a different education. Responsibility. Strength. Faith. Love. I know they are on my curricula this short semester. Let's hope I get As.

1. My sister's birthday is today. Happy 17th Birthday Katie! You don't know how great it is that you have grown up. I am so happy we can actually talk now. I know it sounds incredibly corny and cliched, but you have grown up so fast. I am proud to have you as a sister and best friend. Enjoy these days, girl. You are going to be a senior next year. Just promise me that you won't start ordering off the old people menu at Eat 'N Park?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:03 AM | Comments (4)

June 10, 2004

Summer Euphoria

I am in heaven, though sunburned. I even put on sunblock and I still come home looking like a splotched lobster. One happy lobster.

My job during the week is to watch two very neat, well-mannered girls at their beautiful home. My job is to take them to the pool--swim, lounge, and talk.

I don't even have to cook for them. They love sandwiches.

Though I am still at the crappy grocery store on weekends, I feel so lucky to actually have a summer. Working since I was fifteen in a library, I haven't experienced the outdoors in quite a while. No tan. Well, no burns. :-) I get to fall in love with my favorite season all over again--first-hand. I am starting to sound crazy, don't I?

I also got my super-long hair wacked off. Thinned and layered, I feel bald, but pleasantly so. Don't worry, Karissa, I don't have a pixie (the longest strands are a little below my shoulders).

Something is happening to me this summer; I don't know what it is. Happiness. Freedom. I am at the point where I say the quite cliched phrase, "I cannot put it into words."

In January, while I scraped layers of ice, hail, and snow off of my windshield, I daydreamed of this, and now I find myself waiting to wake, my electric blanket infusing warmth into my clammy limbs. But no, the fan hums in the corner, sun dresses hang first in the closet, and all I see is tomorrow. The SHU planner is dusty. What more could I ask for?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:09 AM | Comments (5)

June 2, 2004

Amanda meets domesticity

I can't cook. I can't bake. I can't clean the house properly. I didn't think I had one domestic bone in my body until yesterday.

My mom was outside looking at the back porch. We recently had some work done on it (that she doesn't like) and we started talking about flowers and such. The "such" was tomato plants that she wanted to put on the nasty side of our house. (Nasty because my neighbor likes mowing grass into our flower bed.)

We did have a garden a few years ago, but my mom took it out when she poured cement for the dog kennel (isn't she amazing?). Now we just have flower beds to plant things. I mean, you could plant in the yard, but my dad would most likely mow them over. I think he feels like some kind of collossus with that mower. Above the roar of the blue demon, sometimes I swear I hear from the window, "Kill the greenery!!! I love running things over!"

Anyway, I mentioned that it would be easy to clean up the entire bed, and the the next day: today, I was volunteered myself to weed out the space. I found three rosebushes. Also, a plethora of worms, wood, and beetles. Gross. But it feels kind of nice when everything is out and you just run your fingers over the top layer of dirt.

Then the storm rolled in. I thought I could finish, but no--I heard thunder. Eventually I did disengage my fingers from the muddy soil and go inside, streaking the front door with a healthy swipe of dirt. Whoops.

Scrubbing my palms and picking thorns out of my fingers, I realized that I should try my mom's gardening gloves. While thus employed, I also discovered that there is something I can and like to do around the house. Literally around it. Indoors is quite a different tale.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:26 PM | Comments (4)

May 27, 2004

Milton's Heaven

*If you have not watched Office Space, you probably will not know what I am blogging about, but I hope the links will provide some direction. Shame on you for not watching this corporate masterpiece. :-)*

If anyone does know this movie, Office Space, then you may appreciate this site. Try making the staplers work. It's a hoot.

I have always had a fascination with staplers. I have three on my desk. We named them in my English class. The pink one: Karissa. Red: Milton--or--Amanda (the names are interchangeable because sometimes I speak in unintelligible babble). And Grey--well, because it's grey. Needless to say, I didn't take it to school to be named.

As you may have guessed, staplers play an instrumental role in this film. And while we are on the subject of the greatest corporate comedy EVER, try taking the which-character-are-you? quiz. Beware! (That means you, Grandma) There is some language within the quiz.

No surprise.

1034033391_CAndreaquizmilton.jpg Thanks Quizilla


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:52 PM | Comments (3)

May 23, 2004

Wedding Ten

Worst
5. My feet are sore and blistered from the blasted shoes I wore.
4. Grandpap said "Slow down" all the way to the reception--a 30-mile drive.
3. So much for first impressions. My voice cracked on the first note.
2. The ringbearer (my cousin Daniel) locked himself in a bathroom, afraid to walk down the aisle. He twisted his father's ears when the door was finally unlocked.
1. I am the only one of my cousins that is old enough to have a boyfriend that does not. Therefore, every one of my female friends and relations has undertaken the task of finding me a guy. To all those that read this: DO NOT SET ME UP.

Best
5. Watching my intoxicated relations dance. Being sober has many benefits.
4. The Historical Summit Inn Everything was beautiful. The view. The food--tres excellente.
3. My cousin Daniel, ringbearer extrodinaire, finally walked down the aisle with a smile.
2. Not catching the bouquet--you don't know what a relief that was!!
1. Watching the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, finally married. Have a great time in the Caribbean Amy and Craig!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:39 PM | Comments (4)

May 21, 2004

THE Wedding Singer

I woke up this morning to visions of me on stage, screwing up the lyrics at my cousin's wedding. Went back to sleep. Awakened by the sound of me not hitting the high note. Dreams are confidence drainers. I am the noodles, the water is the confidence, and I am entering a colander. AHHH.

Tonight is the rehearsal. I feel as if everything isn't happening.

I know I am going to cry, but these songs are tough--you have to keep your nerve and voice clear. Dang.

The songs:
1. I Will Be Here: Steven Curtis Chapman
2. Parent's Prayer (my least favorite)
3. No Greater Gift (song from high school sung as a duet a cappella)
4. You Raise Me Up: Josh Groban

This is the order chronologically.

My hands are shaking as I type this. AHHHH. Can't wait for my first wedding gig to be over.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:58 AM | Comments (8)

May 14, 2004

A One Act Play--The Black Disturbance

Set: A soft light glows while a young woman reads a novel, nearly finished, in bed. It is summer. The windows are open.

Characters:Amanda, the irate father, the laughing sister-Katie, the mother and the bat.

(Amanda is reading when suddenly something begins flying around the room. Caught up in her book, she thinks it is some kind of late night hallucination, but she looks again. A bat--circling. She screams loud enough for neighbors to think a suicide is in progress.)

Amanda: Mom come kill it!!!! (She screams down the staircase)

(Muffled sleepy mutterings)

The father: What now? I have work tomorrow. Go to bed Amanda...

Amanda: There is a bat up here. It's in my room. (she jumps around like the chicken she is, ducking her head and screaming intermittently)

The mother: What? (she laughs while walking up the stairs)

The father: Katie, stop laughing. (walks up the stairs, cursing)

Amanda: Katie, go get the broom!!!

Katie: Okay (pent-up laughter escaping, she gets the broom and goes back downstairs. The bat is now in another room.)

(The father is afraid of the bat, just like the rest of the cast. He duels with the broom. JAB. SLASH. Not hitting anything. He ducks several times. Amanda shuts the door, locking him in with the bat. Thrashing can be heard from inside the room. The set turns--Stunned by a quick hit, the bat falls on Katie's shorts and is thrown outside--still attached to the shorts. Father turns the knob, and looks out triumphant.)

Mother, Katie, and Amanda: (in unison with MGM musical smiles, they sigh) Our Hero.

(All return to their beds. Amanda finishes her last chapter. All cover their heads, prepping for another bat attack. Amanda is awakened by someone mowing their lawn.)

Amanda: (She looks around confused) Was it all a dream?

No--it really happened. My family has been having problems with birds, bats, and other large bug-eating predators in the past 8 years we have lived here. I have never laughed so hard. The bat episodes are always side-splitting.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:45 PM | Comments (7)

May 13, 2004

The 60-something woman wannabe

I saw the cutest bunch of elderly ladies in a Geo Tracker today. Two in the front with the most amazing L'Oreal red hair and another, rather stooped, woman in the back seat.

Eating BIG cones from Dairy Queen. I bet they were larges, but they were pretty cut into by the time I pulled up next to them.

While smiling broadly at these obviously happy little ladies, I was struck by my situation as a young woman, and theirs. They get to eat big ice cream cones without the fear of fitting into that pair of jeans. Have you seen the comfy clothes they wear? Pants with elastic. Oversized shirts. Pre-matched suits. Flats without pinchy toes or high heels.

They don't have kids to take care of--just grandchildren to spoil--then give them back.

Many have time to give back to the community through organizations and church functions.

They are wiser.

I really wish I could do and be all of these things. Eat huge ice cream cones. Wear pajama-like clothes that are still acceptable by society. Spoil kids that aren't mine. Help out more. Be wise.

However, there are some drawbacks. Mortality. Wrinkles (Botox could fix that). I would think of more, but I am really liking this idea, so I won't undermine my argument anymore.

Amanda Cochran: a rocking chairing, ice cream eating, pajama-wearin' honest-to-goodness elderly woman wannabe. That is not to say that I don't like being young--I do. It's just that wouldn't it be fun to step out of yourself for just a little while and try something new without the restrictions society, family, you place upon yourself? Sure you would be stepping into another realm of barriers, but also an entire set of freedoms you never experienced before.

Did I mention the ice cream?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:25 PM | Comments (2)

Instant what?

Relearning things really stinks. You have a vague idea of what you are doing, but you have to learn the specifics all over again.

I recently downloaded the full version of Instant Messenger. I had Quickbuddy at the start of the school year for Writing for the Web. I didn't know what I was doing, but I eventually learned the lingo (i.e. LOL "What the heck is that?"). Anyway, I got really ticked when people wanted to talk and I had assignments to do, so I deleted it from my computer for the remainder of the school year. I am happy to say that I did. I can't tell people, "Look, I have got to go. I have a 25 page paper due tomorrow." I love people, but my work usually takes precedence over social engagements, especially the textual kind. Well, with the exception of blogs, which you can go to any time.

It is back; however, under very different circumstances. Summer--I have infinite amounts of free time. Well, until I start working full-time.

But I have to relearn everything. I sit here typing and then this creepy door opens and someone signs on. My speakers are always turned up because I play CDs, so it really scares me, just like my freakishly loud printer that likes spitting out inky sheets. What a monster. Anyway, I don't know what I should do with it...does anyone have any pointers?

My cousin, Amy, told me to stop using capitals and perfect punctuation, but I can't help it. I am working on imperfection. That just sounds terrible.

And what about telling people you have to go. What do you say? I haven't initiated any conversations yet, but I don't know how to judge if they are busy too. How does one know if the other person is honestly honest about what they are saying?

I guess I could call them up.
Or meet for coffee, but that would be defeating the purpose of a cost-effective communication device. Skimp on the costs or emotion? I really don't know. Heck, I could just start using smileys even more profusely than I do now. :p :-D :-) ;):| >:-)

In any case, as much as I love talking to my friends online, I like talking in person much better. Especially for the laughs. LOL just doesn't seem to cut it. But for the time being, it'll have to do.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:37 AM | Comments (3)

May 9, 2004

Ramps 101

Today my huge family went on its annual ramping adventure. Don't know what ramps are? Wild, wild onions. It is kind of an odd tradition, but we love it. We all convoy up to a park and climb "the mountain" to pick them--they have a leafy top and a bulbuous bottom--onions. And they smell--BAD.

Think domesticated onions smell terribly? Try ramps. I won't go near my aunts and uncles for a week. My hands reek from handling them.

After we pick them, we clean them in a creek that parallels the road. My little cousins wade around in the water, their pants needing at least three cycles of Tide. I have been doing this all 18 years of my life, but I am more of a bystander to the water antics now. I used to get just as muddy, mud and rocks sloshing around in my shoes, making sucking noises that I liked to laugh at.

More than picking onions (odd as it seems), this is a family tradition that has transcended five generations. My great grandmother, Jean (I am named after her--Amanda Jean Marie), started it. I heard that she picked ramps into her 60s. It has become an initiation into the "clan". If you feel really strong about someone romatically, you take them ramp picking--the ultimate test of relationships. We are candid. Real. Loud. These prospective mates really get to know "the family" without the usual pleasantries of other settings.

The best part is that we make a new set of memories each year. For example, one year, I got lost--incredibly lost and was saved by a man in the woods. The experience inspired a short story for my high school literature class. My aunt locked her keys in the car. We dammed up the creek one year. A deer came within ten yards of my aunt. My cousin, Daniel, caught a crayfish. I scared my grandpap so badly driving him home 35 mph--he is such a SLOW DRIVER (I thought he was going to puke or hyperventilate). My mom started a time capsule.

Time capsule? My mom has a jar, she changed it this year to a bigger one, that she places in the ground with pictures, coins of the years we have visited, and most precious--notes from us. We have news records of the year both on a world scale and within the family. We also write individual letters to our future family. Then we seal it up in the glass container, put it in a garbage bag and put it back to be opened the next year. The best part is when we dig it up each year. Is it still there? Did anyone find it? My mom put our address on the inside so that if anyone finds it, they can send it back to us.

And while you are thinking that this is the oddest tradition ever, I have read that many other people do the same thing.

However, the practice is also illegal in most parks....Dang. :-D My family the onion-picking outlaws. How romantic.

Oh yeah. How do you pick a ramp? You can either grab it by the leaves and pull very gently or you can cut it out of the soft spring soil, very carefully to avoid cutting off the smelly root.

How do you prepare them? Clean off all the chunk from the ground: dirt, snails *ewww*, leaves, and mud, and gently swish them around in the creek. Then cut off the leafy stems.

How do you eat them? I don't. My hands still stink from them. I can't imagine my entire mouth smelling like that. Too wild. Most of my relatives eat them on hotdogs or hamburgers, but my Aunt Debbie eats them raw, throwing the stems over her shoulder at the picnic table. You have to be careful walking behind her. hehe.

Though many of my cousins are getting married, they are still coming. While I don't see marriage and a family in the near future for myself, someday I hope to be 70 climbing the hill with my grandchildren. When I think of that, I just smile. There's so much life to live--so many ramps to be picked.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:28 PM | Comments (7)

May 5, 2004

Girl Meets World: First Year Reflection

So now comes my sentimental end-of-the-year blog. I know most of my student pals are tired of doing reflection papers, so try reading one. Sit back, relax, and turn your text size to xx-large so you can let your retinas rest. Enjoy.

I can't believe it. I can't understand how just a year ago I sat in my room, finishing my writer's portfolio grad project, thinking, "This is it...I going to Seton Hill. What the heck did I get myself into? Can I?"

I had the will, but I didn't know what I was getting myself into. The work. The professors. The relationships. I didn't know what walls I would run into. What havens I would find.

Yesterday I was looking at my graduation party pictures. I saw my friends from high school. Some with children now. Married. I saw my real friends, the ones I still talk to, and smiled at the ones who went away, remembering the call-me-make-sure-you-call-me-over-the-summer promises.

Then I saw me in my pastel pink B. Moss dress (I remember it--the zipper is broken now--I got really impatient one day and zipped it up myself whoops :-D) In many ways, I don't even know that girl anymore. The smile, the mannerisms were the same, but I wasn't. I lacked something there.

I looked at those pictures and thought of all the people that weren't there. The people I didn't meet yet. I felt sorry for the girl in that picture. Didn't she know all the papers that lay ahead? The long nights of carpal tunnel? Didn't she know that the best friend she'd ever meet was still unknown to her? So many things left to be learned.

I look back on the best times now: Christmas on the Hill, Rent, blogging fights, newspaper production days, dances, seminars, discussions, retail therapy, sleepovers, meetings, cappuchino and frappachino highs, and I can't recall a better year of my life.

I remember people saying that I would miss high school so much when I left. They were wrong in my case. I don't miss it.

I didn't belong there--I never did, but I can say that I belong at Seton Hill. I have loved every moment, learning not only from books and blogs, but from people--faculty and friends alike. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that my place is here. The squirrels, planners, disks, Diamond Age "discussions", blogging, heart-to-hearts with pals, hugs that you desperately need, laughing until your sides ache and your eyes get drippy--adding one more line to Karissa's list of funny quotes, comments that make your blood pressure rise in anger at the Paul, Michael or Puff that wants to see you get spitting mad. Every day was an adventure. I wanted to come. I didn't want to miss class (even when I accidentally did).

Though I see the world more critically now, I can still appreciate it for what it is, and what I can do in it. All of you have been a part of that lesson. Thank you for helping this girl meet another chunk of the world. And letting her smile at it. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:33 PM | Comments (19)

May 4, 2004

I'm Troying

The best combination in movies would be Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt...WAIT. HUH? They are? Why didn't I know this?
troyposter2.jpg
Thanks Orlando Bloom Files

TROY! Not to be mixed up with Moulin Rouge! The whole exclamation point thing is mine. :-D We all know how punctuation can cause a stir.

I know that the movie theaters have been inundated with epics lately but this one actually looks appealling. The history. The people, the lifestyle. Who am I kidding? Gorgeous men permeate the reels! ;-)

But I have to ask, "Did people really look like that when Homer was around?" I mean, did they have something that was comparable to botox and self-tanner? Hmmm. Any air-brushing teams? What did Helen really look like? Was she the only one in all the lands that had every one of her teeth? Something to think on. I think Hollywood will excuse historical accuracy for aesthetics in this matter.

FYI: Helen isn't pretty enough for Paris (Bloom).

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:25 PM | Comments (11)

May 2, 2004

Bustin' Loose

SHU dance. Bachelorette Party (Cuz Amy). Highlights in my hair.

I think I am reaching new levels of freedom. Something amazing is happening...Dare I say it? I am learning to live.

Well, maybe just for this weekend. I have finals to take and a website to construct, and I go back to CM this weekend.

Or maybe not. A girl can only take so many nights cuddled up with a book before she decides to bust loose from her "good girl" moorings.

Boy, am I lame. I think that if I dance a little bit and get a cosmetic change, I am on my way to Marilyn Mansonness.

Silly Rabbit...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:21 PM | Comments (8)

April 29, 2004

Amanda Setonian Freak-Out

Brian McCollum: Okay...here's your key to the office.
Amanda: What? I get a key?

Oh my gosh, I have a key to the Setonian office. Another responsibility. What the heck am I doing? This is nuts. Then, again there are people that have kids at my age. I just heard about a couple from high school....

Brian: Did you understand?
Amanda: (Coming out of the reverie) Mmmhmm.
Brian: Okay, you can get the next issue up by Monday.
Amanda: WHAT? WHAT? THIS IS CRAP! ISN'T THIS YOUR JOB UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR?
Brian: Nope. I couldn't even get in if I wanted to. I don't have a key.
Amanda: I can't do this...
Karissa: Yes,you can.
Amanda: No.
Karissa: Yes.
Amanda: NO.
Karissa: Yes.
Dr. Jerz: (Insert something about wearing a crown--My brain exploding, uncomprehending)
Amanda: (Thinking hard. This issue on top of my finals and the Honors website. NO Way!)
Karissa: You can do it.
Amanda: WHEN?

After some tears, glares, and awestruck expressions, I have accepted the mission. I am the online editor for The Setonian. Please don't scream at me if I screw up the pages. There is so much at stake. AHHHHHH!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:21 PM | Comments (13)

April 25, 2004

Good kitty gone mad

Samson, my cat, a black-and-white monster, is in my closet right now playing with my hair ties. I think he just flicked himself in the nose with one.

Why all the pandemonium? I think it is from too much sink drinking.

He likes hiding under furniture--wooden furniture--where he can scratch without being noticed. He's a quiet scratcher. Muffled woodpecker with just a tinge of beaver.

He usually goes to sleep 18 hours a day, but strangely he has been nuts the past few days. Is it true what they say about pets looking like their owners? And if so, what about acting like them? Hmmm.

He is now skulking around my room looking for invisible mice. He just sneezed on the dust that hovers around my computer. Now he's under my nightstand, hacking away at my blue carpet.

I love cats. Always have. They have a don't-not-mess-with-me-I-am-infinitely-better-than-you--"lowly commoner" attitude. Admirable in an animal--much better than dogs, like my two dimw;tted cocker spaniels that will drown you in lickage. I like that I have to earn an animal's respect.

I think Samson wants me to go to bed now...I must obey my master.

Whoops. I mean--I'm tired I think I should get off-line so that I can get a good rest for church and paper writing tomorrow.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:46 AM | Comments (7)

April 21, 2004

FAFSA Headache

Don't talk to me right now. I hate numbers. Kill the FAFSA (student financial aid form due for PA people by May 1st).

I just spent two hours filling out the grotesque form with my dad and I am about to stick my head in a woodchipper to alleviate the pain of blood pulsing through my brain.

Though I am technologically inclined, my parents aren't. They like everything "in writing". I can appreciate that, but the FAFSA can be renewed every year online.

Anyway, I need to get some things clarified by student accounts and the financial aid office before I can send it in. ARGH!!

The worst thing is that everything has its little place. I am deathly afraid I am going to write something in the wrong place, make myself look like a maharajah and not have any aid next year. THE STRESS. THE NUMBERS. THE PAIN >:-|

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:27 PM | Comments (8)

April 19, 2004

Nothing Much

I don't really have anything to say, except I missed blogging so much that I had to say something. While clacking away at the keys over the weekend, I thought, "I wonder what everyone is saying on NMJ right now?" So, forgive me, I went to the site and read over everything, and I even went on my pals blogs. I HAVE A PROBLEM.

I hate to blog when I am like this; my mind is so caught up in what I am doing.

Today on my way to school, however, I made an effort to see something new--I noticed the lines of people's wash drying in the warm wind and the nursery by my old house watering saplings with a big firefighter-looking hose that made rainbows in the spray.

Good news. I handed in my research paper on single mothers and fathers for my STW class (the one where I had hand-to-hand combat with EBSCO Host). What a weight off my shoulders!!!! It's in Dr. Jerz's hands now.
I spent so much time thinking and agonizing over what I wanted to say, how I was going to present it, writing it, editing, and revising, that I can't believe that I have finished. I am in withdrawal. I can't imagine what I am going to be like with a 25 or 50 page paper. I am going to need rehab.

Never fear, boredom is not going to be my companion; more appropriately, chaos will be my mate. School will be the theme of my blog--if I get time, in the next two weeks, but the summer is drawing nigh. Dear readers, please forgive. Nothing interesting, I know. Just an blog-crazed overachiever's lament.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:31 PM | Comments (10)

April 15, 2004

A new addiction

Besides blogging, I have become a movie spoiler fanatic. I have read every movie in the theaters. Though I do think that I am missing out on the best part of the movie: relaxation, I think that this is the most time and cost effective way to enjoy the reels.

In lieu of my procrastination, however, don't expect me to blog very much in the next two weeks. I will be busy. :-(

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:15 PM | Comments (5)

April 14, 2004

Fence me in

I only park down in "the hole" as we like to call it once in a blue, blue moon. This weekend I parked down in the drive next to our house because little munchkins in our neighborhood like drawing nasty things on people's cars with soap and various other creamy substances.

So my little car was parked in the "the hole". The crappy part about being down there is that you really can't see the road. So you back up slowly, attempting to keep an eye on the road and the other cars and your mirrors and your mother's pretty picket FENCE.

I only have two eyes, and I started backing....slow, now...okay, almost there. Then a crunching and whizzing. Park.

My side mirror took off my mother's fence post cap and part of the post. I mean, I did.

The best part of this episode is that the cap flew across the road. That explains the whizzing.

All pieces were intact. My dad decided that he would fix it with some clear glue--he offered. He likes fixing things on his day off. In fact, he was outside fixing the car when all of this happened.

The nasty part came when I had to tell my mom, but she was surprisingly okay with it. She built the fence, but surprisingly enough she was understanding--thank God for morning drowsiness.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:56 AM | Comments (5)

April 13, 2004

I spent Hours Feathering the Tennenbaums

I had my movie fest yesterday.

3. The Four Feathers-Heath Ledger was ugly most of the time, ladies--I was disappointed that way, but the story was surprisingly well done. The cinematography made me dizzy in some places, but overall a beautiful film.

2.The Royal Tennenbaums-Amazing cast. How can one go wrong with Gene Hackman, Luke & Owen Wilson, Gwenyth Paltrow, Angelica Huston, and Stiller (despite his Along Came Polly mishaps). This is perhaps one of the oddest films I have ever seen. The characters start out untouchable, so into their own little worlds, but they become more and more human as the story progresses. Still very odd. The movie is told like a book, too, an aspect that really caught my attention.

1. The Hours-I was not disappointed by the movie, though I usually am by book adaptations. I kept looking for Nicole Kidmanisms behind the prosthetic nose as Virginia Wolff, but I couldn't. She deserved the Oscar for this one. Something about Meryl Streep's on-screen crying scenes seem so real. The flow of the film, hopping from one timeline to the next is fantastic.

I adjure you to read the book first. Many times the characters ask one another, "What are you thinking?" In the book those questions are answered.

The one disappointment is in the too-much-telling aspect. The ending is ruined by the director's acknowledgement of the American audience's stupidity. Telling us too much, the ending is spoiled. I do prefer the book, but the movie was well done as well.

--On the subject of movies--I couldn't believe how many I haven't seen. The stacks at Video Warehouse were filled with titles I still considered new releases. I have some catching up to do this summer. Now that is something to look forward to. If I get despondent in the next few weeks, just yell at me, "You get to watch movies all summer, suck it up now. It will be over soon."

The lollipop after the pain in the bum.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:58 PM | Comments (7)

April 4, 2004

Happy Chaos

"Hello, County Market"
"Hi, this is Amanda, can I speak with the manager?"
"Sure, one minute"
Elevator Music. Me, whispering 'Calm Down.'
"Hi, this is the manager."
"Hi, Amanda here. I just wanted to tell you that I need a leave of absence for the next month."

Yes, folks. That's right. I have taken a leave of absence from County Market, my self-proclaimed hell hole, until the second weekend in May--after finals and all of my madness has ended. Though I will finish out this weekend, I will be free on the weekends after Easter to work...or play (not likely).

Something had to go for awhile. I am not Superwoman. Gosh, it hurts to admit that but so true. I think I had my priorities all screwed up. Moms and sisters are really wonderful and brutal in situations such as this. Thank you both for screaming at me.

So now, in my upcoming chaos, I will be happy having a two-day three-night weekend instead of a six-day seven-night work week. Though my class assignments lie in heavy black on my dry-erase board, they do not weigh so heavily on my heart anymore. I am going to get through this semester. I am going to do all of them well. I am going to survive. (Insert Destiny's Child "Survivor" here).

If you can't tell, I panicked this weekend. But I am okay. Better. Elated. Relieved.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:45 PM | Comments (4)

April 1, 2004

Dress Baggage

A navy suit. White-collared blouse. Meticulously curled, though slightly mussed curls, an umbrella, bookbag, purse, and head full of facts, figures, emotion, and doubts. Today was presentation day in my seminar class. I spoke too long again...but I received wonderful feedback from my peers about my voice and content. Sometimes, I really don't know if they are just being nice to spare me of my stinkiness or if they really mean what they are saying to me. I hope I am just thinking about this too much...

Stress before, stress during, stress after. I don't know why I am always so crazed on these days, but I am. I love to speak in front of people. I love talking to a crowd, but the baggage, both internal and external of living up to my own expectations, seem to weigh even heavier than the assignment itself.

I am optimistic about the end of this semester, however. Only 3 more research papers, website, a presentation, French workbook, finals and portfolio. I think I am going to be all right.

I hope I will be better prepared at the conclusion of this semester than the last...no dress-up day, ballgown or otherwise (and I love gowns), would have made me feel better this past fall.

I make my solemn blogger vow to not lose control this time around, though looking at that list above does make me feel like a burro dressed in dry-clean only navy.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:13 PM | Comments (4)

March 31, 2004

Great Blogs Afire! What a Gem

Who is the gem? Grandma--her diamond birthday--75. You know which one I am talking about--the one that blogs!!!

She just bought a new laptop too. From California to the Dakotas to Pennsylvania and Mississippi, she e-mails my distant relatives pictures and information about the family tree and our history.

I hope I am as technologically inclined as her when I am 75. Happy Birthday, Blogging Grandma. Love you o' sparkly one.

Don't take this picture the wrong way, Grandma--I just thought it was cute...

birthday_pig_cake_md_clr.gif Animation Factory


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:16 PM | Comments (8)

March 29, 2004

Five Things I Adore About Today

5. Flip flops: I am wearing some right now; my toes are naked. Bad Amanda. They need some polish. Girls (and guys, if so inclined) in my Lit class: I am having a fingernail painting party around 1:00 in the computer room across from our class tomorrow. Please come prepared with your own pretty hues. If you do not have any, I will bring my collection. Sharing nail polish is fun.

4. Finishing my French journal, math homework and blogging reflection on John Donne: How I love checking things off of my dry-erase board. That wonderful little board has been so helpful in celebrating my accomplishments. In the past, I would finish something and then just plow onto something else, not celebrating the moment of triumph. If I have learned anything this year, it is to celebrate the small victories; they are the sum of wonders.

3. Roadtrip!: I love that I didn't get Karissa and I killed on the "big roads" of Greensburg. We arrived at all shopping destinations intact. And I crossed town! (Insert beaming smile of effervescent pride)

2. Good stories: Swapping stories is a nice way to while away an afternoon. Or a couple hours. I felt like an elderly lady telling stories on her back porch in a rocking chair, except--the stories are very recent and perhaps, a bit funnier and racier than grandchildren, recipes, sewing, and laxatives. (To all you older ladies out there, I apologize for the stereotype, I know that these subjects can be very amusing as well. Love ya, Grandma)

1. Pretty clothes: The entire trip was spawned by an innate feminine need for summery clothing. Yellow. Cerulean. What a shame Old Navy doesn't have flip flops I love in the color and size I need. Too bad I didn't find anything other than the teeny purchases. I am going to save my money for the thrift store. ;-) Hail to the St. Vincent de Paul!

The best part about the day does not need to be listed. Can't you see it? I spent it with the best gal pal a girl meeting the world could ask for. Thank God for you, dearie.

*And how about that paper towel roll with the signs: "Yes, this is a paper towel"? To all of you Setonians, look up to 3rd Browlee, you may see the random, sleep-deprived and quirky efforts of two golden gals: Miz and Kiz.

Today is ranked up there with the time I finished my closet. And THAT is saying something.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:35 PM | Comments (7)

Newspapers Alive

While working the night shift at County Market, grocery store extrodinaire, Friday and Saturday nights, I learned how alive newspapers really are in southwestern PA. (This is in response to Firefighter Chica's ditty on news.)

I pieced together over 250 Sunday papers. That includes the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The Herald Standard and the gargantuan, Tribune Review. Paper cuts, inky fingers and an acute realization that someday I will, yes, I will write for papers not piece them together for some incredibly low wage in the wee hours of the morning. I think I sunk to my all-time professional low this weekend.

Back on subject: I prefer to get my news online--for obvious reasons: the accessibility, timeliness, but never-before-now-mentioned--lightweightedness. Sunday papers are huge, especially with the coupons, which I will inevitably have to deal with whenever the scissor-bearing old women of Mount Pleasant start their Sun. afternoon ritual: clipping coupons, invariably infuriating cashiers with their mountains of 10 cent rebates.

Sorry I am tired. Working the night shift will do that to you. And I am ready to make brash decisions, such as quit. Maybe a brief leave would do my brain and I good.

Again, I support the online versions of newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals wholeheartedly. However, some works, such as novels and poetry, just feel better in the tangible form.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:13 AM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2004

Window Treatment

I ripped down my wallpaper. Such an ugly color.

No--I have not gone crazy. And the walls aren't yellow. (The Yellow Wallpaper)

I ripped down the nasty semi-clear frosted plastic coverings (that acted like wallpaper) which have hidden my picture windows throughout the winter. I relished each moment wielding those orange-handled scissors. I ripped and pulled, unstuck and then--Light!!! Twist the lock and yank up the pane. Warm air!

And I am not the only one who is enjoying the lacy curtains billowing gently in the warm breeze. Samson, my fat black-and-white cat is taking it in too. The problem with him though, is that my windows need new screens--he cut them to ribbons years ago, and we have not replaced them, because we know he will do it again. Sometimes he leans out really far, and I am afraid I will be picking him out of the flower bed below. Today, he jumped down from the sill and I thought he had fallen. No, he is just that heavy. Let's just hope he never gets the inclination.

In any case, I like my room better without the screens. He is not the only one that likes to stick his head out the window and watch the sun set or the moon rise or stars poke out.

I think that is my favorite part of my house--those windows. Over the years, I have leaned out and pretended that I was Rapunzel, an astronomer, and poet. If I ever get my own house, apartment, whatever, I want a pretty balcony or terrace.

The windows are placed right above my mother's tea roses. On summer nights, the smell lifts up into my room--unpackaged potpourri.

I write the most in the summer. Get ready bloggers for some very sentimental material. My favorite seasons are upon us.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:16 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2004

Blob went to the junkyard

Sorry, Karissa. Madame Purplicious has gone to the junkyard for some clothes. I have looked everywhere for her, but she just bounces away....

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:12 AM | Comments (4)

March 25, 2004

Another Big Decision

The honors program. I don't know what I want to do. I have played with the idea, tossed it around, and eventually broken it in my roughhousing.

I don't know. Should I stay with it...tough out the honors classes, pay for the capstone through loans and get the wonderful experiences of visiting another country, or should I save myself the trouble?

I really should be consulting my advisor, Dr. Jerz about this.

Why am I suddenly pummelled with these life-changing decisions all at once? I am tired, stressed-out, and incredibly angry about certain things pertaining to the program (and school) and I am not sure if I should be making these decisions now. The pros and cons of my life are whirrling around in my head. County Market-Con. Visiting London-pro.

Should I take "the road less traveled and let it make all the difference"? Should I take the inexpensive road that will give me a good financial start when I graduate?

I am feeling too much like an adult. I need to take another drive with the windows down and the radio blasting (it is warm). Karissa and I saw yellow bursting forth from the soggy soil today. Oh happy day. Gospel singing and spring!!!

That's right, Amanda, Denial is your best friend.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:01 PM | Comments (4)

March 24, 2004

Commuter gone Resident?

I have been struggling with the decision of coming to Seton Hill to stay next semester. Karissa, great pal that she is, wants me to be her roommate. I want to be, but I don't want to have any student loans.

I went to the financial aid office today and the outlook is grim. Although I would be getting more money from the government (thank you FAFSA), I would still have a grand gap in my money supply.

The benefits of staying here would be phenomenal: a great roommate, no more commutes, and most importantly--a life of my own.

The pros of staying home are my closet, my own room, and free food. Oh, yeah, my family too (but we know how close prolonged contact with them is like).

Seton Hill: freedom.

Home: free.

I don't know. I can't seem to make my parents understand how much I need the freedom, but I don't want to be suffering with the gigantic bill after I graduate.

Anyone care to help solving my residency impasse?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:41 PM | Comments (10)

March 22, 2004

Disktastrophe

While doing my literary criticism for Intro to Lit, I saved everything on my pretty blue disk at home.

Taking it to school, I popped it into the wonderful SHU Dells. No problem. I saved what I had been working on to my disk...and nothing else. I usually save to a disk and e-mail the document to myself, but not today. Mission accomplished. Ready to print...oops....really late. Math class.

Okay. Disk out, in my bookbag. Class.

Glad that's over...now time to print. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????? Disk will not read? This isn't a Macintosh...Oh, it's just this computer. NOOOOOOOOOOO! (3 computers later).

Dr. Jerz. Please be merciful. Sure. Something about Jesus and Satan in a computer war. Funny haha. Don't tell jokes to those in pain. My paper died, and he is laughing at the funeral!

Look around on the disk a little longer. Tears. Oh no. Paul's in the room, wipe them away. No weakness.

The pretty blue one dies in its own master's knuckle-whitened hands, crushed beyond computeresque recognition.

Saving grace: home computer. My car racing up 819, slow down, girl. Three-car accident. Bronco or some off-roader flipped. Carnage.

Seems a lot like Death of a Salesman. Poor Willy. Poor Linda. Poor Biff and Happy. Poor pretty disk--I shouldn't have killed you.

I really need to stop taking things so seriously.

:-D **It really was a funny joke, Dr. Jerz. Sorry I didn't laugh amid my grief.**

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:15 PM | Comments (3)

Officially Sick

As much as I fought it last semester, as much as I tried to stay away from the cold, I think I have caught something.

Current Status:
Throat: An Itchy Purple (not a Snowflake, but more like a couple of beavers gnawing at my vocal chords)
Nose: Niagra Falls hasn't been this active, convulsing sneezes every 10 min.
Head: Spinning, occasionally psychedelic colors pass my eyes


I have been saying, "I will not get sick," but it doesn't seem to work.

Vick(s) is going to be my friend tonight. Eucalyptus is my perfume for the next two-four days. Hail to hot chocolate and tea. I guess being sick has its perks. Nahhh.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2004

Aesthetic Me

You may be wondering what the bouncing thing is above my calendar. You may be wondering what the heck has happened to the black-and-white blog Amanda you once knew.

It is all Karissa. She has brought color and animation into my life. Here I am with a Madame (Parisian influence) and Purplicious. Ahhh!!!!! Beyonce has a hold on me too.

Just wanted to let you all know that I like it.

Madame Purplicious may get tired some day from all that jumping and go on vacation (probably when I show my blog to the "higher authorities"), but right now she is going strong...bounce....bounce. I wonder how many times she jumps in an hour.

And then I realize, I am such a follower. Karissa gets one. I get one. At least it is free. I just hope the next new thing isn't anything with Louis Vuitton in the name. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2004

The Lures of Wal-Mart

I wanted three things: a Top-Up card for my cell, shampoo, and pencils. I came out with styling mousse and Sour Patch candies as well.

I am developing a theory about Wal-Mart. They are better at this whole marketing thing than any other store out there. They put competitors prices right beside theirs. They lure you into the aisles with pretty colors and swirling tie-dye displays of cookies. I feel like I have gained a few pounds just walking past the candy that is so strategically placed at the front of the store. And I knew it. I knew that I was walking into a trap, but my stupid eyes betrayed me.

Everything is just so pretty....

The sour delectables and mousse were so tantalizing I couldn't pass them up. The candies had pretty little people on the outside...it reminded me of buying movie candy...how I miss the movies (this obsession has really affected my personal life). And the styling product, well, it has a frosted package that caught my eye and feels texturized. Oh no!!! Traitorous touch.

My eyes: Brutus My hands: Benedict Arnold. How the mighty have fallen.

I also spent 45 minutes in there. Which shampoo? Off-brand Pantene or the real thing? I bought the generic. I get twice as much and I even checked the ingredients--identical. Maybe I am not a complete Judas to my wallet just yet. :-D

Dang you Wal-Mart. I mean, look at my checkbook: Gabes, Wal-Mart, Seton Hill, Wal-Mart, Seton Hill, Wal-Mart. This is ridiculous.

Speaking of the Big Store:

A challenge:
Name that movie from which this quote is taken--without the help of Google or IMDB(You are on the Girl Meets World honor code now): "Oh I got the money, the president of Wal-Mart gave me five-hundred dollars." Winner will get a cookie. Out-of-staters will get a nice e-mail j-peg of a cookie and mention on the winners announcement blog. Good Luck, bloggers. Be quick.
Hint***The movie is also a book.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:28 PM | Comments (8)

March 16, 2004

The tens

Annoyances

10. Usher's new song "Yeah." I like Usher but playing the song every hour on-the-hour makes my long commute unbearable.
9. People that talk just to talk in class. Have something to say, don't just ramble on. I am mimicking a good pal's advice, but really, if you raise your hand, have something on the tip of your tongue.
8. The crappy weather. What is it about the change of the seasons that makes everyone sick, and then germy? And irritable.
7. Cars in general. I don't know what the lure of a car is, but I am so sick of being paranoid about what is about to blow on my white monster. You residents don't know how good you got it.
6. The lack of traffic on the blogs. Where has everyone gone?
5. The umpteen research papers that are coming up. Can't we just say we did them? (I am just venting, I am not challenging the honor code :))
4. County Market. I am so tired. I don't have weekends and I am constantly exhausted.
3. Losing things. I have lost almost every book, every binder, my cell, and planner about fifteen times this semester.
2. Money. I have some, but I don't have time to spend it.
1. The stress of tomorrow.

Thank God for the Good Things

10. The new lamp in my bedroom that gives me more light...so I won't think so negatively.
9. The prospect of tearing down the plastic that covers my picture windows in my room.
8. Watching the sun go down in the pinks and oranges of long-awaited summer.
7. Waking in a soft electric-blanketed bed, every muscle in my neck and back relaxed.
6. A big piece of strawberry cheesecake. How I miss NY!
5. The goosebumps that prick my arms when the wind whispers over them. (That means I have a short-sleeve tee on)
4. The tingles of singing that perfect note. Women's Chorale on Sunday. We sang beautifully. I am not too humble to say that I felt chills. There is something magical about perfect women's harmony.
3. Listening to a song you love you haven't heard in a while, remembering your favorite parts. Remember Hootie and the Blowfish? I do. :p
2. Thunderstorms.
1. Squirrels and nuts. All types.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:50 PM | Comments (7)

March 15, 2004

Million Dollar Bill?

Via Paige...

story.pike.split.apCNN.com


COVINGTON, Georgia (AP) -- A Georgia woman who tried to use a fake $1 million bill to buy $1,675 worth of merchandise at Wal-Mart was arrested, and police later found two more of the bills in her purse.

Can anyone be this stupid? But then again, there are some characters that go to Wal-Mart. I am losing faith in the theory that all humans are intelligent creatures.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:37 PM | Comments (7)

March 11, 2004

Small Shop, Big Benefits

I feel like I am so rich when I have more than a dollar in my wallet. Today I went to the bank and got a little more than a dollar and then I went to the Dollar Tree for some necessities. Or what I like to think of as necessities. Heck, I got to go shopping--that is a necessity.

Sunglasses: Squintiness corrected. They are pretty little blue things. They remind me of a fifties movie. $3 I love them.

Generic Post-Its: Colors of the rainbow. Post-its--close second to pink hilighters. Hail to off-brand post-its!

Dry-Erase Board: Now instead of sticking their head in my bedroom door, wondering what I am doing, in loco parentis will know that I am incredibly busy. I got pretty markers for it, too.

Better vision (and less wrinkled visage), sticky pretty paper, and more privacy. Dollar Tree--making my life a little better--one dollar at a time.

What a good slogan!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:03 AM | Comments (3)

March 9, 2004

An MIA prof.

I just found out today that my communications teacher has left SHU. Though my class does not know the reasons for her swift and quiet departure, I am going to miss Professor Nightman.

My new teacher is Dr. Robin Illsley. She seems like a nice lady, but like a substitute, she is getting the feel of the class. In the middle of the class.

We were just beginning to write press releases and other corporate communications writings. We were beginning to create something; now however, we are going back to the book. I have never had this happen to me.

Questions fill my head...Why did she leave? What will this new professor be like? Will my grade suffer by this switch?

I have got to stop worrying. Little lines are forming on my brow. I can see me in 20 years--a great blonde prune. That is, if I run out of Oil of Olay :-D Reminder to self: Get sunglasses--you squint.

But I digress. Miss you Dr. Nightman, wherever you are. I am sorry you left.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:43 PM | Comments (2)

March 7, 2004

In a New York minute (weekend)

Too much time on a bus, getting lost several times, quality family time, and riding on practically every type of transportation...including the NYC subway.

Let's say that my trip was very eventful.

FAMILY NYC HUMOR:
10. My dad getting searched on his way to the Statue of Liberty (he had to take off his shoes, his belt and all the change that lined every pocket in his pants. It took us fifteen minutes to put him back together. We almost missed the ferry. He walked away saying, "Never again!"
9. Jumping on the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty at night and in the fog...finding out that the statue can only be seen from a distance and only in good visibility. Oh well, the boat ride was free.
8. Getting stuck in several revolving doors throughout NY. My dad and I got caught in the same compartment at the NYC Library and his arm got smashed. We stopped the doors; he eventually unstuck himself as I moved like a mouse on a wheel, trying to get the doors moving again. The guys on the other side of the doors, trapped, just rolled their eyes, as if to say, "Insolent tourists."
7. We ate at a Chinese buffet, and we all got screamed at for getting our own food out of the buffet, supposedly you can only get five items. "Only fi items!!!!" screamed a Chinese server. I though I had murdered her only son or something.
6. I stopped in the middle of the street several times when I saw the orange hand light appear. I was paralyzed by that hand-STOP. Thank God my sister pulled me along...
5. My mom screaming at us up and down Broadway. We didn't know where we were going. She tends to like a plan, and well, we are from no-wheres-ville Pennsylvania and we didn't know where we were going. We got to go everywhere we planned, though. NYC transportation is better than I expected. That is, if you take the subway. Thanks Dad for your street map skills. I think I got the subway and bus thing down, though.
4. We walked into the Plaza Hotel--the concierge didn't stop us either. I guess we have the look of the upper-class. Ha. My mom kept saying, "Look for celebrities. Ya see any?" No, Mom.
3. Our horse-drawn carriage driver in Central Park had a horse named "Simba" that would walk on command. We were all pretty astounded by that, and that we had the only Arabic driver. The rest were really hot Irishmen. Woohoo. Our driver said, "Do you want me to talk, or do you want a nice quiet ride. Sometimes when I get talking, you can't shut me up." He knew so much, and we were glad he spoke. Even if it was BS, which I doubt, he was a nice man. Everyone in NY is so nice if you have money. :-D
2. Dear mother got herself caught in the NYC subway doors. They shut in on her and she had to pry them apart. The train kept calling out commands: "Please step inside the train completely, and the doors will close," but she had to disentangle her new scarf from the doors and then step in. I thought I was going to die laughing.
1. Our first cab ride: All four of us--grown adults--wedged together in the back of a cab. I sat on the floor and watched my family crush themselves in. We looked like an overstuffed sausage. Thank you Bhindiny Muhammed wherever you are for not killing us (as much as you tried to). I have met a worse driver than myself. Or was he better? I really don't know. They have to put up with a lot. Including Indian folk music playing throughout the cab. Thank God he knew English. I have never had such a good time. Brushes with death seem to have that effect on me.

We did everything. I will not list them all. We bought T-shirts. Did what tourists do best. I don't think my family will ever go on a family trip ever again. For several reasons that will remain assumptions.

My mom and dad said they would never return. I can't wait to go back. Generational difference? Probably.

I loved the hustling world of NY. But I want to live there, belong there, not just visit. If not New York, then another city. I think this trip was a prelude of things to come.

About the bus trip. We switched buses because of a certain "cackling hen," as we liked to call her, on Bus One. Poor Dad had to sit in front of the woman for 500 miles, while she talked and cackled the entire way. When we changed buses along with another part of our group, I thought all hell would break loose. But it didn't. Apparently we stole someone's seats, but I say 'ya shuffle them, ya lose 'em'. They talked in that line of conversation for about 2.5 hours, until the movie was switched on. Adults can be so much like children. Pop in a video and you can shut them up for hours. hehe. Everyone rode and we returned safely.

Yes, I had my NY cheesecake--and just like the city--it was amazing. I might make the return trip just for that. :-]

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:30 PM | Comments (4)

March 3, 2004

Peanut-Butter Ice Cream

You buy it. Stick it in the fridge...two days later you can see the white carton poking out from beneath the brown goodness. THIEVES!

Three dollars. Not much to the wealthy, or even semi-wealthy, but that is at least 20 miles on my car. I set that money aside for ice cream and it is disappearing.

I love my folks, but really. I wish I could work up the gumption to put a big extra-sticky Post-It on it declaring: THIS IS AMANDA's ONE TREAT. Please do not put your pilfering fingers on it.

Milton and his Swingline. I swear.

Well, I guess I can't complain totally. My dad handed me a dollar when he came into the living room with a bowlfull last night. I wish I could go grocery shopping. I would get things people would eat.

My mother usually buys oatmeal, cottage cheese, and some kind of beastly yogurt--and let's not forget--the intricate confections that take three hours to bake, broil, or otherwise--tame.

I am not a cook. I burn everything. I have even burnt ramen! I have mastered canned raviolis, lemonade, soup, and macaroni & cheese but the oven and the range still look like a gaping monster, lying in wait for a chance to pulverize my dinner, and my attempts to be a semi-functional human, not to mention domicile girl HAHA!

The kitchen has never been my domain. But when it comes to frozen ready-to-eat wonderful things like ice cream, I am very, very protective. When I look in the cubboards I skim over the things that take more than five minutes to prepare. I have better things to do. So don't touch my ready-to-eat items, especially the sweet ones.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:38 PM | Comments (6)

March 2, 2004

Gearing up for the Big Apple

The New York trip is this weekend. I don't know what I am going to do. A play? The Statue of Liberty? Central Park?

I have so many clothes to wash. We all do. The next few days are going to be madness in the Cochran household. We all wait until the last day to do our clothes, overload the poor Whirlpool, and eventually scream at each other for using up all the detergent.

And then back to trip planning. I have been scouring the internet for links to events, but most of them are more than I am willing to pay. If anyone finds anything in a do-able price range. Leave a comment, I have clothes to do.

And what I can't believe is that I am going to be there in a few days. Isn't that funny? When we travel somewhere our lives speed up for a few days, the minutes tick a little more quickly, and then we go home and the clock seems to return to its molasses-in-winter pace. My favorite part about traveling is the day before--the anticipation and excitement of doing something--anthing--that Calgon "takes me away."

This may be really dumb, but why do they call New York "The Big Apple"?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:06 PM | Comments (4)

March 1, 2004

Indescribable

Sometimes I wish that writing could have scratch and sniff phrases. If only I could explain the scent of the air today. If only I could catch that in my hand, put it on a sticker and say "this is exactly what I mean."

And though I hate to admit it, sometimes words just aren't enough.

Like today, I sat on a bridge looking down at the water. I felt the wind linger on my cheeks, promising me to come again with warm days. The sky looked bluer. The air didn't freeze in my nostrils, and my senses perked up to the tinkle of the neighbor's windchimes and the harsh bark of the huge monster down the street. I wanted something to catch it all in so I could keep it there for those winter days when nothing smells. Open up that box of spring and watch the goosebumps prick your skin--and it has nothing to do with cold.

Foolish blogger. Who wants to read about this? Oh well, maybe this will be a box I can open next January and feel the goosebumps come, which have nothing to do with cold, just the memory of a beautiful promise.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:34 PM | Comments (2)

Calculator

My scientific calculator (TI-83) is not mine. My calculator isn't working. My calculator has a black screen (or is it blue?) Completely blue. Am I running down the new batteries? What is wrong?

Consider this a cry for help. And no it is not the contrast. I tried that. ahhhhhalk;sdjf;laksjd;laskjds;lakj;lkdjla;ksj!!!! Math makes my head hurt. Calculators make me hate math even more. ARGH.

Alack Alack. My thoughts are swimming and this is the first day back from bliss.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2004

Fainting passion

I watched Gibson's The Passion of the Christ this afternoon, and I didn't expect to be so emotionally--and physically--affected. The physical effect is much more unique, however.

I fainted.

I was sitting in the theater, bearing the hours of Christ's torture and I got really hot and saw black spotches across my eyes, and I began to get incredibly dizzy.

I was sitting next to my guy pal, Matt. I said in the most theater-friendly voice that I could, "I think I am going to faint."

"What?" he said, looking over at me.

"I have to go."

So I got up in the middle of the nail-hammering scene and proceeded to the ladies room where I sat on the floor, my head between my knees, hoping to get the dizziness to subside.

After the dizziness left, I went back into my theater. Or so I thought. I couldn't find my seat, or Matt. I was in the wrong theater. There were three showings going on at the same time!! I looked everywhere in all of the theaters, but I didn't feel great about shouting, "Matt are you in here?" through the theater that was experiencing the Crucifixion. So I just sat down and watched the ending of one of the most moving, gruesome films I have ever seen.

As it turns out, Matt wondered where I was, so he left to look for me, and he missed the ending. I felt horrible.

We eventually found each other in the lobby.

I have never been physically sickened by a film, much less faint at one. I tend to think I can handle many things. I have even watched those surgeries on The Discovery Channel, but this was different.

I can't get over it. I still see the red. This isn't a bad thing, though. Not only expressing the horror and pain, the red makes me remember that I can be new again by its presence. What a wonderful thing.

And I loved it when the devil started screaming when Jesus died. What a contradiction between earthly and heavenly matters! That death was a victory.

And then the director. I think every director wants their film to be remembered; Gibson takes the savior's sacrifice past the dark theater, past the buttery lobby, and into our hearts for a long while. I admire his strength to keep this project going. His money has not been wasted.

I just wouldn't see it again.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:04 PM | Comments (5)

February 24, 2004

Anonymous Coward

I have copied this title from my professor's blog. Some of you may be noticing the new claim at the top of my blog: "Comments without valid e-mail addresses will be deleted."

I know that the person creating a stir on my last controversial entry does not have the e-mail he/she listed. I do not know who this "Michael" is; however, when I wanted to thank him for his last statement in an e-mail, I discovered that the one provided is not real. In short, blunt terms: Anonymous Coward.

Of course I will not screen every e-mail that comes my way, but I want to promote true identity on my blog. So please, if you do not like me or what I have to say, say it with your own digital self; I will definitely hold what you are saying--good or pitilessly evil--in a more positive light.

Mr. Anderson is sometimes better than Neo.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:56 PM | Comments (7)

February 20, 2004

Call me! A Cell Phone Rant

In response to Miss Julie Young's Setonian article I say speak it sista.

I have seen people that walk around the mall with a phone to their ear, talking to no one--anyone--in an obnoxiously loud voice so everyone will know that they are cool enough to have someone call them.

And I do have a cell. I hate it now. I never wanted it. And my mom and dad can keep an even tighter grip on my personal (almost non-existent) life. I mean, I am staying at home, right? What else do they need? A leash? Well, that is where I come to my point; a cell is the most expensive leash one can have.

I have one of those kyocera-lara-I-don't-know-how-to-spell Virgin Mobile jobbies that cost an arm and literally both of your legs and your personal time--working. And that is a major point of conversation among avid users: the nastiness of paying the huge $700 a month bill for their yapping. Mine is prepaid, but it is still expensive to call, and watching the amount deplete is kind of depressing.

However, there are some benefits. I like the games on my phone--a really slow version of the Atari game Breakout and Tetris.

I miss every call that I get (I put my phone on vibrate for class because I care about my classmates).

And what is going on with the phone sex in front of everyone? Do these people have no sense of propriety or taste? Not that I am so secretive or things to hide, but is it really their business what I am saying to my sister, my mom, or Karissa? (That's right. I am that pathetic. I have the shortest address list in the history of cells.) No. Absolutely not.

So what is my reaction to all this cell phone fluff? Hunker down. Hold on. My phone just rang. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:59 PM | Comments (5)

February 19, 2004

In-Class Debates

If anyone knows me, they know how much I love a good debate. But when do we draw the line?

"You have no idea what you are talking about! You didn't even read the case!"

"Don't @#$# with me," said the student, a finger pointed at his classmate, a vein sticking out of his neck.

Today in my corporate communications class I thought I would see fists 'a flyin. We were to be informally debating the communication strategy of Disney during a crisis and many of my classmates passionately raged at each other. And the raging was not even about the case or the subject, but focused on the oratory skills--or lack of--in their classmates.

Will we ever learn how to debate without anger? Can't we present opposing views without screaming our lungs out or interrupting the other person?

I have been guilty of this during many debates, but I promise HENCEFORTH to try to be a better debater--one that fights fair.

A good argument should be based upon good points, not the leatherness of one's lungs. Unfortunately, in my experience of class debates I have found this to be the case. I guess the excessively squeaky and obnoxious wheel does get the grease.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Squirrely campus

The squirrels have risen from their acorn shell infested lairs to search for more nuts. Fortunately there are many on the SHU campus. (pardon the pun/or if you would like--agree with it).

You know that they have come back when your tires come close to crunching one. My life is just like that Geico commercial.

I am happy to see the little scamps running across campus again, Leaping at passersby with incredible height; I bet at least a foot and a half. Fortunately they stay away from me personally--which is a definite relief.

Squirrels! Who knows? Maybe the other rodent will emerge.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:23 PM | Comments (10)

February 17, 2004

I liked it

As You Like It was liked. At least by the last two rows of the audience (at first).

I thought something was wrong when I laughed at Touchstone's first appearance. Then I realized that much of the audience was comprised primarily by 10-12 year olds from Aquinas Academy that did not understand many of Shakespeare's wonderfully bawdy verbal double meanings. To be expected I suppose. I felt very worldly sitting there knowing what he meant.

I laughed anyway. Occasionally I heard a giggle to my left.

I have never been to an SHU theater production that I did not love/like. The cast did not disappoint.

As You Like It not only displayed the actor's ability to act, but also their mental capacities to memorize huge amounts of Shakespearian text. Rosalind, Orlando and Touchstone specifically, spoke with an authority over their lines that I have never seen.

And kudos to the former blogging sparring partner that played Jaques. I could feel the melancholy, serious, and reflective character coming through. Great job. Too bad he couldn't have a wench like Audrey for his own :)

Shakespeare, songs, dancing, a happy ending and cross-dressing: all the ingredients for an entertaining afternoon at SHU.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:19 PM | Comments (7)

February 13, 2004

Imaginative Power of Cleaning

While cleaning the sty I live in this evening, I was mesmerized by the loud whir of the vacuum cleaner (I call it a sweeper--is that a western PA thing?). Anyway, the sweeper makes me think.

Instead of looking at the dirt and wondering how I will get all of this done, I think about the people that made this mess, the places they will go, the things we have all been doing; I fantasize about riding the sweeper to the moon...I let my mind wander without its usual pink leash.

Scrubbing the tub and mopping the floor (with my pal: Mr. Clean) are also very contemplative tasks. Though I felt quite the anti-feminist this evening, I felt my mind travel to places I have not been in a long while. Traveling, discovering. I was in Mexico with my mother, riding horses in the mountains, playing croquet with John Mayer. Heck an evening with your own imagination, the whir of the deafening sweeper in your ears, is better than a novel any day.

My hands are a bit waterlogged and Mr. Clean has left his cologne on me. Ugh. Cleaning makes me ugly and smelly. Gotta go.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:13 AM | Comments (6)

February 12, 2004

To You

A virtual Hello Kitty valentine to all my blogging pals, that is, to the ones I didn't give an actual salutation feline valentine. Though this one isn't as cute as "cutie pie's" or "best friend's" valentines, I hope this one will suffice. :-D

44.jpg
Hello Kitty pretty pics

Happy Valentine's Day from Girl Meets World
Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:28 PM | Comments (1)

February 9, 2004

Four-Hundred Comments!

Thank you everyone for the amazing comments I have received over the past months. I appreciate all the things I have heard from the SHU blogosphere and from my pal, Paige.

The 400th comment, if you want to know was, ironically enough, by the "ultimate comment gal" Tiffany Brattina.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:56 PM | Comments (6)

February 6, 2004

Show to remember

Karissa and I started the night in grand style: cell phone saber wars. Karissa has a green cell and I have a blue one, we had a wonderful time making Star Wars sounds with our lit cells in the van. Teehee.

Karissa and I saw Rent last night, and I must say that the people who commented on my first entry about the event were correct: it was an amazing show, but it was nothing compared to the after-show escapades.

Though I was confused at certain parts of the show, I got the general gist of the whole thing. I have never seen a modern musical before--I am used to long and melodious ballads, but even the long melodious ballads of Rent were rather twisted (in a good way) by the rock that permeated the entire performance.

Two performers specifically stand out in my mind, a young woman and man singing "Seasons of Love." I get goosebumps sitting here thinking about that high note she belted and the deep richness of the man's baritone that strangely, yet wonderfully, reached into bass land too.

Anyway, the show was great, and everyone had a good time UNTIL-DON DON DON. We tried to find the parking lot and the SHU van. We walked an incredibly long distance from Heinz Hall to the Benedum Center on ice to get to the parking garage--which wasn't even ours. While Karissa and I were freaking out, the entire group seemed unfazed.

"Oh, we are just in the middle of Pittsburgh, and everything is peachy. Look at that cute homeless man. I just love walking on ice." (Just a small indicator of their conversation.)

So we were lost. Where is the garage. Trudging out into the ice/rain mix, we headed back toward Heinz--me in my pretty black HEELS. Thank you, Karissa for saving me when I almost slid into that split in the middle of the street. :-)

People with long legs walk way too quickly, and skinny guys with accents can be cute even when they have lost the van, and especially so when they almost fall getting out to pump gas. hehe. Sorry just thought I would document that moment.

Well we finally found the van, and well, we made two wrong turns and ended up taking an entra half hour to get home. What a night. Special thanks goes out to Karissa and roomie, Mel, for their hospitality in letting me stay over. :-) I was in blogger heaven!!!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:41 AM | Comments (1)

February 3, 2004

Missing text

I know how I whine about how much textbooks cost, but me, the responsible student, lost one.

If anyone has seen a thin, bright purple Corporate Communications text sitting around or has picked one up by accident; it is mine.

Even if it is a lost-and-found, I knew this blog would be good for SOMETHING :-D.

HELP! SOS!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:43 PM | Comments (2)

February 1, 2004

A Ten Weekend

10. Watched Chocolat. (a better movie than the critics led me to believe).
9. Watched Life or Something Like It (an incredibly predictable film).
8. Ate too many Twizzlers while indulging in movie fetish.
7. Sticky Sick Stomach (Should have eaten popcorn to counterbalance the sugary-waxishness)
6. Bought pretty brown (American Eagle) boots for $15!!
5. Bought a little Swingline RED stapler (mini of Milton's)
4. Read French and got a headache (decided to stop and procrastinate)
3. Tried to do math homework on line regression on Excel, but it turns out to be evil--just like everything else that Microsoft makes.
2. Got my tresses pulled by my mother, after pinching my sis's leg during church services (Don't ask)
1. Saw a lady in Wal-Mart with huge, exceedingly ugly, pastel artificial flowers sticking out of her head on clips. Dozens of them. I was waiting in line behind her for about fifteen minutes (thank you lady in front of her with about 40 items in the 20 item line) and I lost count. The faded pinks and crusty yellows were so distracting. Where does one buy such atrosities?

Not that I am saying I am perfect. But the woman really looked as if she stepped out of a faded and moldy copy of The Secret Garden.

I am pure evil. I really am, and I am not proud of it, but REALLY!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:06 PM | Comments (3)

January 30, 2004

NEW YORK! NEW YORK!

Thank you SHU for the opportunity to see a chunk of the world.

I am going on the New York trip with Student Activities. Is anyone as excited as me about only paying $130.00 to go on a trip out of this little town? However, I need roomates. 3 to be exact. Anyone interested on going?

Hotel Edison looks pretty cool.

NEW YORK!!!! You may be wondering why I am so excited. I have never been. I only know NYC from the movies. Sheltered, I know.

Hopefully by then the Statue of Liberty will be reopened. And then Broadway!! I wonder if we could see a show? The flyer did not say what we are doing, maybe that is up to us. I want to see the NY Times building and Times Square, Macy's, Central Park. I have so much I want to do and see. A weekend will never be enough.

I am going on like a Beverly Hillbilly.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:04 PM | Comments (5)

January 28, 2004

Another Memory

Here is Karissa and I in all of our Christmas on the Hill finery. My mom just got the pictures developed. :-D
Christmas on the Hill.jpg

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:03 PM | Comments (5)

January 26, 2004

Mom: the Mexican Missionary

Yes, my mom is becoming a missionary for a week. She and a large group of women and men from my church are taking a missionary aid trip to Mexico in February. They will be helping with the prison, orphanage, and rehabilitation ministries at the Bill and Fayth McConnell ranch in Arizona, near the Mexican border.

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Don't you love his tie? :-) They are such sweet people. They came to our church to speak one Sunday; their experiences were very moving.

I am so excited for her. She is taking a big suitcase full of dolls and toys for the children in the orphanage. My mom keeps giving. She is going to take time out of her life for others...I have never been so proud and felt so much admiration toward anyone in my life.

I want to go so badly, but my crutch is school. Thankfully, the group will go periodically to Mexico to help in projects similar to this one. Perhaps during vacation.

As Pentacostal Christians living in a free country, we have never experienced outright oppression for faith, but she may on her trip. The Mexican government and its people live by different standards.

I pray for her safety and hope she has a great time. What an experience! I will keep everyone posted on the progress of her endeavor.

***Downside***She doesn't know any Spanish. :-(

***Upside***Round-trip airfare less than $270 THANK YOU Travelocity. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:42 PM | Comments (5)

January 23, 2004

First Missed Class

So I am going crazy about missing my Honors Seminar today. I wasn't thinking about having three classes on Friday, and I missed. On Mon. and Tues. I have two classes and on Fri. I have the same two and Honors.

I NEVER miss class. I am fallible. I am imperfect. I am incredibly stupid. Does Dr. Atherton really want me in his class? It is supposed to be Honors, as in smart people, right?

Geez! And now I am behind in a class that meets one day a week!

And you know what I was doing? Eating popcorn, blogging, and reading up on the amazingness of Algebra, when RIGHT ACROSS THE STUPID HALLWAY my class was going on!!!!

I didn't even intentionally miss, and I was in the building!!!!

Diana stopped me in the parking lot and told me that I missed. Thanks girl. Now I can get caught up.

Oh gosh. Where was my head? Weekending in icebox PA. C'est lavie.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:52 PM | Comments (5)

January 21, 2004

A Rant and Realization

Just to let everyone know, I hate the Reeves Library website. EBSCO is down and I can't look up illustrious peer-reviewed articles for my Seminar in Thinking and Writing class.

To the library I will go...To the library I will go hi-ho-the-derry-o.

What is she complaining about? you ask. The librarians scare me now. After a certain person warned me of the librarians' dragonishness, I am loathe to enter the building. Maybe I will just look it all up at work.

Anyway, does anyone know of another place, besides the Google mess, where I could find an EBSCO-like inlet to peer-reviewed writings.

Just when you begin implementing the tools that you have been harped on to use, they go down. Ironic isn't it?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:43 PM | Comments (3)

January 20, 2004

The Wedding Singer

I am the wedding singer for my cousin's soiree in April, or is it May. Anyway, I am thinking about doing Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up" in a slightly higher key. Any thoughts on this song? Is the text right for a wedding?

Any other suggestions? I am an alto, if that helps.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:16 PM | Comments (12)

January 19, 2004

Taste the Rainbow

Though I have struggled with the impossibility and vowed against the implementation of colors in the past few months, today, with the incredible aid of a best pal, I found the colorific hues in Java/HTML madness. I must say I do like it, and it doesn't hurt the eyes, does it?

I refused to change the background, however, just a momento from the drabiness of the past, and I want to maintain the readibility of my blog. I hope all will enjoy the changes.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:13 PM | Comments (17)