Moninator

All things narrated by Monica

Kitten Therapy

Let’s face it: sometimes life can be awful. It can suck to a point of exhaustion and monotony, and other times it throws your soul into a blender, hits “GRIND,” adds a habañero, cuts a hole into your chest, pours the soul-mixture in, and then lights you on fire. During such times, I try to find solace in the little things. One of those little things for the past year has been my roommate’s rather fluffy, exuberant, and… well, derpy cat. What could be better after a long day than this face?image

 

 

If you answered “Nothing,” you don’t know anything about technology and smart phones. The “Draw” Function on my Samsung Galaxy has forever changed my life, the lives of my roommates, and now yours. In the comfort of your own seat, without moving an inch, you can produce wonderful works of art.image

You can also take a common cat like Pepito and turn his life aroundimage

 

…by making him The King.image

So, now that you’ve been distracted from how life can be unfair, ultimately challenging and sometimes outright suck, I now invite you to remember that life is about enjoying life and not sweating the small things.  Whether your therapy includes kittens, or puppies, or running or cooking or yoga or a therapist, just remember to take the time to remember why life can be so good, and what it is really about… and enjoy the bountiful photo gallery of Pepito found in this blog article.image

LONG LIVE THE KING image

…and his continual efforts to escape into the world outside of our apartment.image

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Things that I used to find embarrassing but happen so often that I don’t get embarrassed anymore.

1. Spilling my coffee.

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Ah, coffee. The thing that wakes me up and drags me through the day. For most of us graduate students, caffeine is our best friend and worst enemy. Fueling us onward to run one more test subject, write one more page, read one more article, coffee can be found in the hands of many bleary-eyed graduate students as we desperately choke down one of America’s favorite imports that exploits almost as many people as the fuel industry. But I digress. I can also be seen carrying around this beverage, but I have become more notorious for spilling it. Everywhere. Every day. Even all over other people’s things. I now just get on with my life. I’m convinced my grave will give off a faint scent of donut shop flavor… or at least, everything I’ve spilled it on will.

2. Storing leftovers in unconventional places

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All you people who don’t tell others when they have food on their face, there is a special place in hell for you. Seriously. My daily life involves interacting with students, faculty and just a lot of people in general, and the number of times I’ve walked out of a meeting only to find food on my lip or cheek is embarrassing. Especially pasta sauce or greens between your teeth. Although, I have to admit there is one thing worse than realizing you have food on your face….

 

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…it’s when you find it on your clothes. I planned out and wrote this blog in October (yes, I’ve been busy) and just yesterday I was talking with a professor and looked down and realized I had dried chili all over my sweater. Even worse is when I’m teaching and I notice some students looking at me funny, and I look down and I see a huge chunk of breakfast bedazzling my navy blue dress. I’m ashamed at how often this has happened to me, but I seem to make the best of it by pretending it’s not there, which is why I never get (openly) embarrassed about it. (But seriously guys, tell me this stuff happens).

3. Falling asleep in public

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Earlier this school year I went to the doctor saying that my sleeping habits were abnormal. I just have to say that it was a big waste of money because I paid $20 to hear a doctor tell me that I’m “chronically sleep deprived,” because for real I could have had anyone take one look at ANYONE in my graduate program and have them describe what’s going on. But again, I digress. This embarrassing thing has simply become a fact of my life in grad school and until further notice, so I’ve actually made it into a game. Okay, it’s not really a game. I just get to fall asleep and take a nap and wake up and do more work and think less about how the deep purple circles under my eyes do not accurately reflect my love and enthusiasm for learning. But for entertainment’s sake, my lack of embarrassment has reached a peak as can be demonstrated in me falling asleep in the library…

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…and even while working on public computers on campus. It’s hard to tell when I stop caring about my public image and more about sleeping, but usually when it does happen I look like this. If anyone ever sees me sleeping in public, let me be. I want that $20 to be justified while I sleep away my “chronic sleep deprivation.”

 

 

4.Forgetting someone’s name

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Okay, so… this is still slightly embarrassing. I always forget people’s names. The worst part is when I sometimes work up enough courage to ask again about their name, I IMMEDIATELY forget it three seconds later. While some might despair at a gold-fish memory storage like the one I seem to have, I have a ton of avoidance strategies. I’m usually pretty confident while using them, which is why I am only slightly less embarrassed at this point in my life. I predict that when I’m older I’ll just make up names and everyone will think I have dementia. At that point, I’ll just use up federal health care money sitting in an assisted living home while people serve me food on nice trays and clean the food that I’ve spilled all over my clothes and face (because nurses know that’s embarrassing).

5. Dropping things.

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Frequently, and often within a few seconds of each other. I’m a very enthusiastic person (see visual for reference), and often am carrying things while being enthusiastic.

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Which leads me to this particular story where I went to meet a professor for the first time and was so excited and out of breath, that I dropped my keys.

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Of course, this was embarrassing, but I noticed it immediately. I knew exactly what I had to do.

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…which was to pick the stupid keys up again because it’s not that embarrassing, Monica.

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It’s of course, not that embarrassing…

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…if before you say another 4 words you don’t drop something .

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...

...but if you pretend like it never happened then it's slightly less embarrassing.

…but if you pretend like it never happened then it’s slightly less embarrassing.

6. Falling.

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I suspect when I’m old, this will be more problematic than it is at this point in time. Falling in public is a very strange feeling; your life starts to lag like that YouTube video you tried streaming over Denny’s really bad wi-fi (yes, some Denny’s have wi-fi), and you can either embrace that moment or abhor it. For many falls, I have abhorred the frozen inching of time as my face comes slower and slower to the pavement. Now, I simply imagine myself sky diving from a very low altitude, my hair rustling in the wind, and watch the ground become blurrier with every second because my glasses have fallen off and will probably fall somewhere four feet from where I land so that I have to crawl on my hands and knees to find it. It can be an almost zen-like experience, and the tranquility is often rudely interrupted by some obnoxious passer-by who wants to know “if I’m okay.”

7. Laughing at inappropriate moments.

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A lot of people have told me that I’m really easy to talk to. That’s really great– I work hard at being a good listener. But seriously, if you’re going to complain about your life, please Google “First World Problems” first and make sure what you’re going to say isn’t on the internet under that title. The second part to this point is not really related to the first in that, sometimes (maybe because I’m sleep deprived) I end up getting the giggles. There’s nothing wrong with getting the giggles, but it always happens when there’s something tragic being told like “My cat lit his tail on fire and now keeps meowing” or “The bus left without me this morning and I had to chase it down the street while wearing heels” or “I spit all over my professor during a meeting when I was asking a question.” When I feel the giggles starting deep in my chest, I hold my breath. Seriously. I stop breathing and think “Monica, you can’t laugh. This is serious. Your friend is very upset, and needs your help.” But as the giggles can’t be contained forever, the pressure in my chest builds as I refuse to let it out until the giggles promise to not escape. That usually has only one consequence…

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… and that is my face looking like this. Can you imagine talking to a friend about a problem and suddenly they have this face? I’ll admit, I’ve offended a lot of people, but mainly I just apologize a lot. I literally have no control over this in any way, so I’ve accepted it as a part of who I am.

8. Being able to consume twice the amount of food most other females within a twenty foot radius.

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I love food. I have always loved food. I grew up with three brothers and let me tell you something about eating dinner with three growing boys– if you don’t spit on it or eat it right away, someone else will. I quickly learned that if you want a satisfied stomach after a meal, you have to keep eating for as long as you can immediately see food. Your left-overs aren’t even safe from sibling stomachs. If you want it ever in your entire life, you eat it now. That being said, I can sit down and house a meal in not only record time, but in record quantity. I can even out-eat a lot of my male friends. Honestly, I’m okay with that. People (but in my experience mostly girls) worry too much about how they look when they eat and whether or not they are being judged. Honestly, I think of all those people judging other people and think… HAVE YOU EVER EATEN FOOD?? IT IS DELICIOUS. And then keep eating because I’m not even slightly embarrassed. I’m usually pretty stuffed at that point, though.

 

Sleep Deprivation

I think a few weeks ago, I hit a new record in sleep deprivation.

It had been a little over 2 weeks since I’ve had a complete 8 hours of sleep.  My blissful rests ranged from 45 minutes to 6 hours. I also asked myself about 100 times if my grad school career is worth such a horrible case of the head nods, but I’m still here so I suppose the answer is yes.

To lighten the mood a bit, or perhaps to avoid doing work here are some direct consequences that are a direct result of my not sleeping.

1. My languages were bleeding into one another.

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I answered a student in German the other day, and another day switched mid-sentence to a terrible rendition of French. I also started speaking to my cat in Spanish involuntarily.

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2. I had to write a check and it looked like this:

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I even spelled my name wrong.

3. I fell asleep while working in a public place, and someone took a picture of me.

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My friends are so nice.

4. I *almost* walked out the door not completely dressed.

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…and another time I actually did.

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Don’t worry. I’ve slept some since then. Some.

Life without Facebook

Recently, I decided to deactivate my Facebook. For various reasons. You may be thinking of doing this, too.

While at first I could only focus on the fact that I couldn’t communicate with people as easily, I eventually got over it. Here’s what I’ve been doing in order to become an awesome old person while also not having a Facebook.

1. Om nom! Eating new foods!

Such as Germknödl

Making new foods! (such as these no-bakes).

2. Going to some randomly selected place!

(Travel tip: Avoid hitch-hiking Buddhists by running in the opposite direction)

3. Going out into nature! It’s pretty.

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I went into the wild and found a German in it’s natural habitat, eating it’s favorite meal: the pretzel.

4. Reading

You know that BBC list of books you should read to be awesome? Well now you do.

5. Getting back into running shape.
It feels exactly like this.

And this:

And this.

6. Ignoring people who say “You need to reactivate your Facebook because___________!”

I’m usually really nice outwardly when this happens, but really I’m like

And think:

7. Going back to school.

So, apologies if I’m not as creative or as frequent on this blog.

 

Things I’ve Never Said After Eating Ramen Noodles

I cracked. I have hardly any groceries, so I was forced to draw from my ancient stack of Ramen for sustenance. Here are some things I did not think after consuming this common poor/desperate man’s meal.

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1. That was delicious.
2. I’m totally full.
3. Ah, a fantastically authentic Asian meal!
4. There is absolutely no need for me to consume the amount of water found in a mid-sized reservoir.
5. I think this form-fitting dress complements my post-Ramen food baby.
6. It’s a good thing I got 800% of my daily sodium in half a serving!
7. This definitely tastes like chicken.
8. These billions of broken noodle pieces really add a personal touch to my kitchen counter.
9. What am I going to do with all this money/motivation?
10. Totes eating this tomorrow.

7 bad habits I am unlikely to ever get rid of

1. Over-thinking

I over-think everything. Breakfast, lunch, how long ago I washed my jeans, if my cat stepped in poo and is now stepping on my face and what I should do with my life.  I used to over-think my over-thinking too, but that was exhausting so I did give that one up, so it will not be included in this list.

I over-think everything. Breakfast, lunch, how long ago I washed my jeans, if my cat stepped in poo and is now stepping on my face and what I should do with my life. I used to over-think my over-thinking too, but that was exhausting so I did give that one up, so it will not be included in this list. I have, however, just accepted this as a part of who I am as well as an aid in my pursuit to become an awesome old person (because I probably already assesed whether or not something will make me awesome-er or not awesome-er).

2. Eating a reasonable amount of olives in one sitting

Eating a reasonable amount of olives in one sitting. I just can't. They are so delicious that I must have them in multiples of 32 or none at all.

I just can’t. They are so delicious that I must have them in multiples of 78 or none at all. I’m am perfectly okay with never giving this up.

3. Having faith that cosmetic companies do not put harmful things in their products

I don't wash off my waterproof makeup so that I don't have to put on makeup every day. This allows me to maximize my sleeping time while still remaining (barely) presentable.

I don’t wash off my waterproof makeup so that I don’t have to put on makeup every day. Actually, I only use waterproof makeup so that it doesn’t come off so that I don’t have to put on more every day. This allows me to maximize my sleeping time while still remaining (barely) presentable. I keep getting away with it, so it’s unlikely that I will ever stop.

4. Chewing gum as avidly as someone giving CPR

I really don't mean to. It just happens. When I first put that piece of gum in my mouth, I'm extremely conscious about how loudly I'm chewing. But something comes over me when the flavor starts to dwindle and I realize I only have a precious few minutes left with that wonderful freshness. I then feel the need to squeeze every last bit of artificial minty goodness out of the piece of rock-hard rubber with all the strength my mandibles can muster. Unfortunately, there is normally a very observable and obnoxious few minutes before I realize other people are watching.

I really don’t mean to. It just happens. When I first put that piece of gum in my mouth, I’m extremely conscious about how loudly I’m chewing. But something comes over me when the flavor starts to dwindle and I realize I only have a precious few minutes left with that wonderful freshness. I then feel the need to squeeze every last bit of artificial minty goodness out of the piece of rock-hard rubber with all the strength my mandibles can muster. Unfortunately, there is normally a very obnoxious few minutes before I realize other people are watching. I am rather unaware when the awkwardness happens, which makes it unlikely I will be able to give this up.

5. Mistaking the “M” in McDonalds for Monica and thus a personal invitation to their restaurant

I don't care that it's bad for me, that it'll give me heart disease and will give me diabetes. It tastes. So. Good. I don't eat it all the time, or even frequently. I sometimes even pretend that I'm never going to eat it again. But I know I will.

I don’t care that fast food is bad for me, that it’ll give me heart disease and/or diabetes and that I might die a slow and painful death and rack up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, that my pants will immediately feel tighter once I have shoved every last bit into my mouth, or that I will promptly lapse into a pre-diabetic nap afterwards. It. Tastes. So. Good. I don’t eat it all the time, or even frequently. I sometimes even pretend that I’m never going to eat it again, or pretend that I just want the happy meal toy or whatever toy comes in the kids meal at that particular fast food chain. But somehow I always know I’ll be back, and that I’ll walk away questioning whether or not I ate the food or just smeared the grease all over my face and hands.

6. Falling asleep in public places

I do this more often than I care to admit. Sometimes, I'm just so tired from grad-schooling or life that I consciously think "I don't give a shit" and zonk out. But sometimes, it's not on purpose. Sometimes, it's just my face in my hands as I thinking about my cat or something and... then there's some pidgin that freaks out next to me. Sometimes it's really bad because I'm standing up at the bus stop, or on the bus and  a small droplet of drool falls from my mouth, leaving me startling awake and wiping my mouth like nothing happened while everyone around me looks anywhere but at me so that I can at least pretend that no one saw.

I do this more often than I care to admit. Sometimes, I’m just so tired from grad-schooling or life that I consciously think “I don’t give a shit” and zonk out. But sometimes, it’s not on purpose. Sometimes, it’s just my face in my hands as I’m thinking about my cat or something and… then there’s some pidgin that freaks out next to me twenty minutes later. Sometimes, it’s really bad because I’m on the bus, or in a coffee shop, or standing in line at the post office and a small droplet of drool falls from my mouth, causing me to startle awake and wipe my mouth like nothing happened. Normally everyone around me looks anywhere but at me so that I can at least pretend that no one saw. I really don’t have control over the frequency of these occurrences the majority of the time, which is why I simply cannot see myself ever kicking this habit.

7. Going on the internet for a minimum of three hours at a time

Lastly, but perhaps the worst, is my love for the interwebs. I've wasted countless hours on YouTube learning to pick locks, watching Niki Minaj music videos and vowing to never let my children see them, and  see how fungi can take over an insect. I've spent an obscene amount of time on news websites, conspiracy forums, and Wikipedia. I've also found a lot of really awesome websites where you can learn how to African Throat Sing, imitate bird calls, and use self defense. The problem is that I love to learn, and it's all on the internet for us to learn. Or in the public library, which I also love.

Lastly, but perhaps the worst, is my love for the interwebs. I’ve wasted countless hours on YouTube learning to pick locks, watching Niki Minaj music videos and vowing to never let my children see them, and observing how fungi can take over an insect. I’ve spent an obscene amount of time on news websites, conspiracy forums, and Wikipedia. I’ve also found a lot of really awesome websites where you can learn how to African Throat Sing, imitate bird calls, and use self defense. The problem is that I love to learn, and there is so much information on the internet that you only have to look to find it. The public library is also a trap, but as it closes and I regularly pay my internet and electricity bill, the internet remains the worse habit. I try multiple tactics to give this up or at least make it a less-bad habit, but so far very few things have worked. Most likely I will be addicted for life.

The Eyelashes Story: A dramatization of my childhood through pictures

In general, I think I was a pretty normal 6-year-old.

In general, I think I was a pretty normal 6-year-old.

I even got along with most kids my age. With the exception of one. We'll call him S.

I even got along with most kids my age. With the exception of one. We’ll call him S.

I'm sure wherever S is now, he's a very nice guy with a girlfriend and lots of money. But at the age of 6, S daily confessed his love for me during the precious half hour of recess.

I’m sure wherever S is now, he’s a very nice guy with a girlfriend and lots of money. But at the age of 6, S daily confessed his love for me during the precious half hour of recess which my 6-year-old self did not appreciate in the least bit.

My 6-year-old brain was continually confused and annoyed by these confessions. I had two ideas of love: Mommy and Daddy love and sibling love. S did not fit either of these categories.

My 6-year-old brain was continually confused and annoyed by these confessions. I had two ideas of love: Mommy and Daddy love and sibling love. S did not fit either of these categories and so I had to deal with him the only ways I knew how.

So, I tried everything to stop him.

I tried everything to stop him.

...but no matter what I did...

…but no matter what I did…

...he never relented.

…he never relented.

After several days of this, my 6-year-old self had run out if ideas.  My only sanctuary was home, where I could play in peace without sneak-attack kisses, hugs and confessions from S.

But then…

"Monica, I just got off the phone with S's mom..."

“Monica, I just got off the phone with S’s mom…”

"He's coming over later for a play date!"

“He’s coming over later for a play date!”

I’ve recently discussed the concept of “play date” with some people, and this concept couldn’t fit better than in this scenario.  It’s basically when parents decide you should play with each other because the parents are friends, so why not the children?  This usually is awesome about 90% of the time because you get to drive in the car to someone’s house who probably has a PlayStation or something and you can play Mortal Kombat because their parents don’t know your Dad says its too violent and your mom thinks the blood squirting everywhere is gross.

But this was not one of those 90% times. This time, my own mother had unknowingly taken away my only safe haven, my only solitude from S. I was in utter and total shock.

"You guys have fun, I'll be in the kitchen if you need me."

“You guys have fun, I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”

I was completely at a loss. This was literally the worst play date I had ever had in my ENTIRE existence up until that point.  i WAS going to contract cooties, I was sure. There seemed to be no hope until, in a disgustingly amorous gush, he said....

I was completely at a loss. This was literally the worst play date I had ever had in my ENTIRE existence up until that point. I WAS going to contract cooties, I was sure. I was going to contract cooties, not be able to go to school and DIE. And if I died, I would never get to be a marine biologist or learn ballet or meet Winnie the Pooh. There seemed to be no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel until in a disgustingly amorous gush, he said….

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At first, I despaired. He was now waxing poetic in my own family room.

At first, I despaired. He was now waxing poetic in my own family room.

But after a moment of actually thinking about what he just said....

But after a moment of actually thinking about what he had just said….

... I got an idea.

… I got an idea.

I probably made some excuse to go to the bathroom or something, but I quickly ran away from S.

I probably made some excuse to go to the bathroom or something, but I quickly ran away from S…

...and ran straight to my parents bedroom to carry out my plan.

…and ran straight to my parents bedroom to carry out my plan.

And there I had it! In my hands, I held the power to end all the suffering and annoyance S had caused me. What an idiot! He had confessed with his own mouth his downfall!

And there I had it! In my hands, I held the power to end all the suffering and annoyance S had caused me! What an idiot! He had confessed with his own mouth his downfall!

I returned to S extremely comforted and proud of my solution.

I returned to S extremely comforted and proud of my solution.

"I cut off all my eyelashes."

“I cut off all my eyelashes.”

He did not seem remotely impressed, but my words had the desired effect. He promptly left the room.

He did not seem remotely impressed, but my words had the desired effect. He promptly left the room.

Congratulating myself, I continued to play with my toys without a worry about S.

Congratulating myself, I continued to play with my toys without a worry about S.

But I think I also got spanked for using scissors.

But I think I also got spanked for using scissors.

The hardest part about running

For those of you who are training, have some encouragement! And for those who are looking to start, there’s some for you, too 🙂

Just go.

If you don’t run…

Check out this program, Couch to 5K! (C25K)

Start walking!

Start running! (I promise it’s not too scary)

If you do run…

Food. Om nom.

2013 Race Schedule– USA

A brief overview of my relationship with plants

I am good at looking at plants.

I am good at looking at plants.

I am good at eating plants.

I am good at eating plants.

I am not good at growing plants.

I am not good at growing plants. (Yes, this was a real plant that I was trying to grow).

Cool stuff about plants:

(and a poll 🙂 )

2012 Article about Urban Farming in Cleveland, Ohio

Useful tips on starting a container garden

United States Department of Agriculture Plant Database– really informative!

The Lotion Story: A story in pictures

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I recently went to the store to buy some lotion.

After approximately 4 seconds, I knew exactly the one I wanted.

After approximately 4 seconds, I knew exactly the one I wanted.

But of course, I decided it was best to smell the lotion first before walking around smelling like a combination of pomegranate and the fairy tears with a name along the lines of "Lusty Lavender."

But of course, I decided it was best to smell the lotion first before walking around smelling like a combination of pomegranate and the fairy tears with a name along the lines of “Lusty Lavender.”

But apparently, I was a little too exuberant in attempts at simply smelling the lotion, and this happened.

But apparently, I was a little too exuberant in my attempts to simply smell the lotion, and this happened.

So there I am crouching on the ground of the store with lotion ALL OVER MY FACE and I feel someone watching me.

So there I am crouching on the ground of the store like one of Tolkien’s creatures with lotion all over my face and I feel the need to look up.

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And then we both checked out our things at the same time. And walked in the same direction after leaving the store.

And then the whole way home.

Turns out she’s one of my neighbors.

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