Friday, July 19, 2013

A Cautionary Tale

I am writing to both confess to you about a problem that I have just diagnosed in my life--a sin, as it were, for those who call themselves English Teachers and/or Logofiles.

The sin of using pop culture's abbreviated words.

It all started sometime ago when I encountered a few people who used abbreviated words for real. Words like "Whatev." "Delish." "Totes." "Cra-Cra." "Cra." "In-a-pro-pro." In Christian circles: "Devos" or "Devs."

Intrigued and amused by these strangely vocabularied people, I proceeded to make fun of these people. Occasionally to their very face. I now regret my mockery. I should have paid more attention to the book of Proverbs.

As a part of my making fun of them, I began use these words ironically. My voice would be drenched with sarcasm whenever I uttered these foul little abbreviations. People would laugh at my "wittiness." I would be encouraged, and continue using them, always ironically.

Until, one day recently, I realized something: I wasn't using them ironically anymore.

Nay, dear readers, I was using them for real.

Today, when I looked at the gas prices, I rolled my eyes and said: "Whatevs."

Not ironically.

A few days before that, I described someone as: "Cra-Cra."

Not ironically.

And recently, when tasting frozen-yogurt, I described my sample flavor as: "delish."

Not ironically.

And tonight, in a Facebook message to a friend, I used the word "totes."

Not ironically.

And so my friends, let this be a cautionary tale: be wary of saying any pop-culture expression "ironically." Because one day, it will not be ironic anymore.

It will be an atrocious part of your everyday vocabulary.

As penance for my sin, I will be copying out the first page of the Oxford English Dictionary, and only be allowed a steady reading diet of classic novels for the next eighteen months to flush out this atrocious habit. I am in recovery. I will overcome this abomination against logophiles and English Teachers everywhere.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tuesday Musings on a Thursday

I know that it's Thursday. But I have some random musings. So, it's Tuesday on a Thursday, okay. Stop freaking out.

1) I just bought a bike off of Craig's List yesterday. It's a Huffy mountain bike, in good shape, maybe about 25 years old. I've never had a "grown-up" bike before. Case in point: I keep back pedaling to break...

I just took it out for my first spin to Aldi's to pick up some groceries. Let's just say that jogging on a flat track does not prepare you for the ever-so-slightest incline on a bike. I don't really understand how the gears work yet, either, so my ride home was a challenge as I had to go up hill, with my backpack of groceries weighing me down. But, I felt really cool and urban carrying my bike helmet around the store. Never mind that I'd forgotten my Aldi's Quarter, because I keep that in my car, so I had to juggle all my groceries in my arms along with my helmet. Guess I'll need an Aldi's Quarter for my bike, too. :)
It came with a bike rack--score!
2) I got back from my 2229.9 mile road trip yesterday. My itinerary was Baltimore to St. Louis to Mississauga and back to Baltimore. It was a great trip--I visited my friends Beth and Aaron, and their baby, Eli in St. Louis, and my friend Alicia in Mississauga (which is in Ontario, Canada, by the way). I saw both the St. Louis Arch and Niagara Falls (which I'd already visited). Alicia and I took The Maid of the Mist boad ride up to the falls, which was fun--next time we plan to do the walk behind the falls. In St. Louis we visited the Arch (but didn't go up) and the Anheuser-Busch brewery (aka, the Budweiser brewery...).

I didn't really have too many adventures--which is good, because on a road trip "adventures" usually translates to car trouble. I got in trouble at the border crossing for my pepper spray. Well, they asked, and I admitted I had some, and so I had it confiscated (apparently, it's illegal in Canada) and my car searched. They were very nice about it, because they were Canadian--and I mean that with absolute sincerity...Canadian's are The Nicest. I told the border guard that I carry it with me in my car because I live in Baltimore. She replied: "Well, you would need it there. But you won't need pepper spray in Canada."

I also possibly have been the victim of credit card fraud (not sure of the right word) at the gas station in Canada (charged more than $96 for my $10 of gas!), so that's been exciting, too. Here's hoping Well's Fargo's fraud department is hot on that 7-11's tail.

Here are a few photo high-lights:

3) I would just like to declare my love, here and now, for....Iced Coffee. It's something I really haven't been around a lot--you would think I would have had copious amounts, living in hot, hot Africa, but for some reason I never really loved the iced coffee that I encountered. Lately, though, I've been getting either Dunkin' Donut's ice coffee (sweetened with caramel), or Starbucks's. I like it even better than hot coffee, I think, because it's not as bitter and doesn't leave as bad of coffee breath. Not sure if that is scientifically sound, but I feel that it doesn't give me as bad of breath...I've started making it on my own with my little single cup coffee maker: I just make the coffee double strong (and with about half the water), and let it brew over a large cup full of ice, and then transfer it to one of my cups with a straw. The coffee chills instantly as it hits the ice, which helps to make it less acidic or something. I add half-and-half and Splenda, and it's "delish."

4) I had my first "back to school" dream the other night. For those of you who aren't teachers, it's a very common occurrence for teachers to start having dreams about school the closer that the first day approaches. I always have them, and a number of my teacher friends have them, as well. It's always interesting to see how early they come--I don't know if it reflects anxiety the earlier the dreams start? Because school doesn't start for a month and a half! I think part of it is that I talked a lot about school with the friends that I visited on my road trip, and as a result, school is on my brain! I suppose that's a good thing--I want to be prepared, but I hope I don't have a month and half of anxious dreams in store for me, either.

Well, until another Tuesday's--or Thursday's--musings. Peace out.

Calling all Decorator-Savants!

As I have shared, my parents recently bought a house, and I will be their tenant when they move back to Mali (I am currently residing there rent free, lucky me...).

We haven't really done any of our decorating on the house. The house was in such good shape that we didn't need to do a lot of fixing stuff. For example, the paint was still fine, though a generic cream, and not in need of a fresh coat. Also, as a whole, we are not decorator-savants like many of my friends--not really that we make poor decorating choices, but we just don't really make all.

I would really like to decorate the house really well, on a budget, inspired by Pinterest-esque ideas. As much as I would like to do this, I lack the follow-through motivation (I'm good at getting motivated...not so good at finishing) and an eye for design. I have just recently discovered the blog Apartment Therapy, which is amazing--but I am not so good at seeing what others have done, and applying it to my own spaces.

So, I am turning to my clever and artsy blog readers (you know who you are) for your creative and original ideas. And trust me, every one is better at this than me, so chime in: all ideas are welcome (just don't be offended if I don't use it in the long run!).

I will use the first pronoun "I" in the rest of this post, but much of these decisions are up to my parents. Not that I am asking you to contribute ideas geared towards my parents. I'll handle them...just bring on your most creative and wonderful ideas!

Today, I just want to tackle the living room (which is the front room of our little townhouse).

Here are some pictures. Please excuse the messiness.
Ah, yes, that is a wall that is a giant mirror. The 1980s are calling and they want their decorator back...
Looking in from the front door, into the kitchen/dining room.
TV cabinet + view of grey brick wall and stair well.

Wider view of room.
Other corner of room.

Current layout (not to scale)

The living room is limited by 3 major things:

1) The "brick" wall. This is a fake grey brick wall, I believe (as in, it's meant to look like exposed brick). It's nice, from a far (close up you can see the "fake-ness" of it). However nice it may seem initially, it does sort of overwhelm the room from my perspective (when I'm not feeling overwhelmed by the mirror).

2) The mirror-wall. Probably intended to make the room feel bigger (it does, I guess, a little bit), personally I just find it a wee bit tacky. Maybe I just don't like seeing myself in the mirror anytime I sit on the couch (although I generally sit on the couch that is against the mirror).

3) Steel-blue/grey couches. Our couches are quite nice--I am not complaining. My parents bought them brand new, and for our family, that's a big deal! But, it isn't quite as neutral a color as a brown or a taupe. So, whatever colors I want (and I want color), they have to go with the couches.

A few other factors to take into consideration:
  • The TV is moving downstairs--more on the basement later.
  • We have a third love seat that doesn't match the other couches that I hope to move downstairs or upstairs, so there will be at the moment only 2 large pieces of furniture to work around. 
  • It's a small space (basically a square)--it's a small house.
  • There is dingy beige-y wall-to-wall carpeting. Hopefully one day (if I get my way, which I probably won't), the living room carpet could be pulled up to expose the hardwood floors underneath.
Here are some of my ideas, so far (I had a ton of hours to brainstorm in the car while on my recent road trip...):

1) The Steel-Blue and grey color pallet: I am leaning towards a bright, near-lime green as my accent color to go with the steel grey (I saw this color combo in my friends house, and really liked it). I think I would like to paint the "stair-wall" this color, and then have curtains of a lighter or darker shade of the same color, keeping the original cream of the "door-wall," or, curtains in a light grey to go with the grey brick.

2) The Mirror Wall Ideas: My most persistent idea has been to put up tasteful, sheer curtains over the mirror so that it's not quite so: "IT'S A ENTIRE WALL THAT IS A MIRROR." The idea would be to still have the lighting aspects of the mirror through the sheer cloth, but not quite so drastic.

Another idea: I really like having books in my living spaces, so I might look for some shelves that I could place along that wall, which would give me books and a place for a few carefully place knickknacks, and, offset the mirror. I wouldn't want to put a shelf on the other wall, because I think it would be too busy with the brick.

I also have considered finding/building (hah!) some kind of window seat/low bench-thing that we could place along that wall--a long, low seat that could be used for storage (like the one the Van't Land's had made for the DA girls dorm). It would be different, I think, for this kind of house, especially since it's not on a window, but it might look cool with the mirror-wall, and fun cushions.

3) Furniture placement: I would like to put the two couches in the corner, one against the brick wall the other against the front wall, and look for a square or round coffee table. I think that would help to open up the room a lot to have one wall free of furniture (probably the stair-wall).

Okay, now it's your turn: what would you do? What are your ideas for low-budget decorating the living room of our little townhouse? The sky is the long as it doesn't cost more than a couple of hundred dollars, of course...!