Hey, 2014....

My friend, Adrienne, has encouraged me to return to blogging. Since hers is an opinion I value, I'm going to do my bet to follow through.

This time of year is always one of reflection and resolutions and so forth (Although, as life-long academics, Joe and I read a calendar differently. New Years begin in September.). Anyway, when in Rome, reflect and resolve at the end of December and beginning of January.

2013 wasn't the easiest year I've ever lived. But it was a far sight better than 2012 (that would be a pretty low bar). Some highlights include earning my Master's degree, developing more patience and inner strength than I thought I was capable of, performing in one of my lifetime Top Five favorite musicals, running a baker's handful of 5K races, and returning to college teaching (albeit part-time).

So, what's the plan for 2014?

Well, there's a three-week camping road trip Out West planned for August. I've applied to direct a big musical (my first) in July. I want to reimplement some healthier food/activity habits (mostly because I have a lot of great clothes that are languishing until I fit into them again). Now that my Masters in done, Joe may reattack his dissertation.

While not endless, the possibilities are vast.  And while that open-ended-ness can be viewed with optimism and delight, the planner/control freak in me is easily overwhelmed by too much uncertainty. I think this is why I rarely make New Year's resolutions. I know how easily life changes and whisks things out of my control.

Maybe I should listen to Adrienne in this as well, and simply choose a word of import and guidance for the upcoming year. I'll have to give that some thought.

For now, I resolve to try to hang on to the things I'm doing right, to be mindful of blessings, and to suck less.



My Public Apology to My Fellow Gators

Dear Allegheny alums, particularly Classes of '92-95 (or so),

It's time I came clean. It's MY fault. It's my fault many of you didn't graduate on time (or at all).

I'm the one who introduced Civilization to the night-study lab under the library.

I'll wait while you collect yourself.

OK ... so here's what happened.

Over Christmas break, my brother and I returned from college and hung out. We weren't especially close at the time, but we could bond over nerd-stuff. He introduced me to a new game he'd discovered at RPI, Sid Meier's Civilization. It existed on a floppy disk or two, and after we installed it at home, it quickly consumed our entire lives. so much so, that when I returned to Allegheny in January, I brought copies of those sacred floppies (I don't think copy protection was even a concern).

I quietly installed the game late one night on one of the few DOS-based PCs on campus (remember? ... we were part of the NeXT revolution). I played it. My boyfriend played it. I may have showed it to a friend or two. But, I kept it very much on the down-low. We were not supposed to install our own software on school computers. And we were very much not supposed to be using valuable computing resources for gaming.

But within a week or two, I was stunned to find total strangers furtively playing Civ on every computer in the lab. It had spread with efficiency modern computer viruses can only hope to achieve.

Nobody talked about how it happened. Nobody ratted out anyone else. We were members of an elite society. An elite society who began to neglect all else, forgoing studying, sleep, even food for just "a few more turns" of Civ. It's not that the game was especially hard or unwinnable. It's more that victory was always a few hours further away than we thought it would be. The game is unfathomably addictive.*

"I'll just play until I get steam-power," we'd tell ourselves when our civilization's current pinnacle of technological achievement was a pointy stick. Or, "I'll just play until I take out the Zulus," we'd innocently mutter, never realizing the true tenacity of South African tribesmen.

"A few more turns" more often than not turned into hours of playing time. The night-study lab stayed open all night long, so we weren't deterred when the rest of the campus shut down for the night.

Eventually -- and here's where I have to apologize -- some people began to fail classes, or not "comp."** Some of my friends literally did not graduate from college because of this game. People I love. One of them was even in my wedding.

I's all my fault.

Sure, I could blame fate -- maybe the game would inevitably have found its way onto campus systems. Maybe my friends would have discovered it on their own. But, realistically? Before social media, a "real" Internet, cell phones ... stuff didn't go viral. Media didn't proliferate, explode, and die down within weeks, days, hours. It took actual word-of-mouth. Someone had to actually mention the game to you. Sell its features. And reveal its night-study-lab existence. I was that person. I loved the game. I brought it to Allegheny. I told my closest friends.

And the rest is history.*** The incalculable Butterfly Effect of those dang Zulus.

I'm so sorry, friends. If only I had been patient enough to wait for spring break for my Civ fix at home. Maybe the world would be a vastly better place.



*And still is. Last night (this morning) I stayed up Far Too Late playing multiplayer LAN Civ IV with my husband (the aforementioned boyfriend) and our daughter.

**Allegheny College seniors must complete an extensive Senior Comprehensive Project or "comp," as part of their graduation requirements.

*** A fictionalized, but accurate, version of events can be found here.


Sometimes Parenting is Awesome

...and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's pretty dang crummy.

The first half of this evening was pretty awesome. Explaining Sorkin's quick banter on The West Wing -- pretty awesome.

Then the teacher called. And explained that one of my children did a Very Bad Thing today (no one got hurt and no laws were broken). And then my other child informed me of an overdue assignment's deadline extension ending tomorrow.

And that pretty much left awesome at the station as I boarded the train for Crummy Town.



Electronic Overlords

I am alone in the house right now ... which means I'm especially vulnerable to attack from our numerous electronic devices.

I'm currently typing this on my desktop PC, multitasking Firefox with a relatively (for me) paltry four tabs open, while syncing my phone on iTunes.

My phone is plugged in and charging, syncing, while I also text my husband, trying to determine the whereabouts of our DVI-VGA adapter -- the only thing preventing me from having our second desktop PC reestablished on the desk behind me.

I've just finished installing a system update on my Android-based Nexus 7 tablet, and am now searching the root directories for a stored wifi password.

Finally, my laptop is up and running nearby because I need to email some files I've only stored on there.

It's ridiculous. And awesome. But, if they manage to conspire against me, I'm just surrendering peacefully. The Cylon invasion/Skynet takeover can just take root right here and I'm making no attempt to stop it.



Free Time

This weekend, I have no plans. There is absolutely nothing on the calendar that obligates me to be anywhere anywhen.

This is a rare and blessed thing.

The trick, of course, is to balance relaxation and doing nothing much with some sort of activity that, come Monday, I can look back upon and smile, knowing I had a good weekend. Without, of course, scheduling so many FUN things that the relaxation aspect is lost.

Any ideas?



Back! Baby Steps...

Let's try to develop a new blogging habit. Let's just take it one day at a time.

I'm currently lying in my darkened bedroom, listening to Morning Edition on WHYY out of Philadelphia. On the other side of the wall, my Matthew is taking a much-too-long shower. The sound of the running water is simultaneously soothing in a white-noise sort of way, and distressing in a wasted-resources sort of way. Whatever our kids inherited from me, they've gotten their showering habits from Joe. Long, hot, steamy, long...

This is a brief shred of time I take every morning to Internet. On my phone, I check email, overnight Facebook updates, Pinterest, Instagram, headlines. Just me and the world in the dark before I get up and face the rest of the day. Soon, I'll rise, dress, throw a frozen lunch and blue chill-pack into my lunch bag, mix and drink a SlimFast shake, herd the kids through breakfast and school prep, and get out the door around 7:30.

Fortunately, the kids are old enough/independent enough to allow me this brief cocoon phase to start my day. I can hear them downstairs now, working on their own breakfasts.

Well, NPR informs me me time is up (Marketplace is wrapping up). Until next time.