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 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 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) | TrackBack

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) | TrackBack

May 20, 2006

For starters: Grad School Prep

The most disconcerting thought is that I'm doing this all for nothing--that I will end up writing obituaries at a newspaper that has a circulation of ten people. However, that is depressing, self-defeatist thinking, and I will not have it. I will not.

So the grad school search is on. I have a few schools in mind, such as...(don't get scared or anything, but some are OUT OF STATE. I may be leaving the nest and the state. I see big changes in my near future).
Ahem, such as these illustrious institutions: the Big Kahuna-Columbia, the Long Shot-Missouri and the Dream School-NYU. I think it is about time for big thinking, though. Someone has to get into those schools. Why not me?

I've been looking over the requirements for the schools, and I'm generally okay except in one area: the GRE. Standardized tests. For many of the colleges I've researched a minimum of 1000 is required, with a 500 or higher in the writing portion of the exam. How would I rate? Are those scores outlandishly high? Standardized testing is a scary concept, and I'm out of practice. The SAT's were the last stretch of my fill-in-the-blank under pressure prowess.

I'm excited to see how I will perform, in comparison to other college graduates, that is, if I perform well. If not, then, well, that will suck badly.

I'm even more enthused about change. College at Seton Hill is great and I've loved almost every minute of it, but so many things need to change. I need another challenge and a change of scenery for all the wrong, but the best, reasons.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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) | TrackBack

May 9, 2006

On Writing by the Baby Flytrap Killer

One moment the words on the page are alive and breathing. The moment I walk away from the computer screen, it seems as if my baby venus flytrap of a passage has died without consuming its first reader. Too early to consume solids and I abandoned it. My Person from Porlock isn't even tapping on my study door--he is laundry, sleep, books or some other such nonsense.

I've been writing, and it seems like each snippet I put down on paper seems to diminish after that first blush of inspiration. I think I'm going to set down goals for myself, like in classes. By Friday a short-short. By Tuesday a poem. I think I chose journalism so I could have those nasty little scratchings on my calendar. Deadline-oriented. And I fool myself into putting it off. Am I that entrenched in educational A-mongering culture?

I've also been thinking on--not writing-- a book. The final paper for Publications Workshop was a book proposal. I liked mine so much that I wanted to start my first chapter, but I walked away from it and haven't returned. Finals have gotten in the way, but it is something else, too. I hate to go crazy with the comparisons, but writing is like waking from a fantastic dream, walking around with it, and suddenly realizing that it was all in your head and you move on in your day, chastising yourself for your silly imaginings. However, five, ten, thirty years down the line, you remember what that dream was and hit yourself for not writing it down, living it out. I don't want to do that. My subconscious is speaking and I'm finally listening. But the voice screaming, "PAGES! PAGES!" has to be denied for the moment with a century of British authors consuming me with their aged, yet thriving flytraps of work.

How wonderful it must be to be in the Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume II!

Oh, to believe in the perpetuity of pages! To believe in assaulting readers to the point that your work is bound into a volume as heavy as a small child and distributed to college students for consumption, internalization and inevitably imitation in one form or another. How frivolous, how beauteous, how irritating and remarkable, this struggle.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:58 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack