Do They Have Talent? Well, no.

I remember the first time I watched Reality TV. It was the first season of Survivor, the season in which Richard Hatch, the notoriously nude and class-A conniver, won the million dollar prize.

I was sucked into the season, mostly because, at the time, reality TV seemed so strange. Since there wasn’t a script and everything was “unedited,” you felt as if you were getting a sneak peek into the lives of strangers. This is exciting for someone who enjoys people watching as much as I do. I also remember wondering if, since it was unscripted, they were ever going to “accidentally” reveal anything that shouldn’t be seen of Richard’s.

Clearly, there was never a Janet Jackson Superbowl moment to be seen.

Since then, I have stopped watching Survivor. However, I have added many other shows to my Reality TV repertoire over the past decade. As I write this post, I’m sucked into an episode of Giuliana and Bill. For many, these names mean nothing. However, for some like me, it is easier to recall the short bios of these people than it is to remember absolutely anything about the Alamo.

[Bill Rancic was the winner of the first season of The Apprentice. Giuliana is the co-anchor at E! News. The pair has a TV show which chronicles their lives in Chicago and Los Angeles].

The thing is: I wish I didn’t like Reality TV. There really is no reason to see Giuliana attempt to change a diaper for the first time. There is no lasting benefit to watching The Bachelor find love in “the most dramatic rose ceremony ever” (and subsequently lose that love nearly the minute the finale episode airs). There is certainly some shame in watching Kim Kardashian have her butt examined by a plastic surgeon to prove that it is “real.”

I don’t really watch a ton of TV, but my DVR does make watching “Reality” shows way too simple. Certainly a much easier time than Giuliana had with the diaper changing.

Do you still watch Reality TV? Do I need to do a Reality TV detox? 



Country Thunder Camping

Confession: Before this weekend, I had never camped.

This doesn’t mean I was anti-Outdoors. Bugs don’t bother me, I love outdoor activities, and will eat almost anything. I can also fall asleep easily on the floor (I actually spent my entire first Freshman semester sleeping on a futon. The reason I told my floormates I did this: It was “easier” to sleep there then to climb up to my lofted bed. The real reason: I was afraid of falling off my bed).

However, I really did not consider the fact that while camping you may experience rain. Rain that doesn’t make you want to sing, but that requires serious shelter that you can only find in your car.

On Thursday night–our first night camping–it started pouring. For a little while, I was unfazed. I was naive enough to think that tents=as sturdy shelter as houses (I wish I were kidding).

Two things quickly became a concern: I had to go to the bathroom badly and, worse, our tent was flooded. My friend Amy and I spent the rest of her morning in her car eating bagels (followed very shortly by beverages).

When we eventually woke up, we realized that we were surrounded by a monsoon of mud.

Yes, there were also many people that decided to use this as a reason to wrestle.

Mud may not seem like much. However, when it is permanently attached to your skin, it becomes a bit more of a problem. The following are events that happened from this flood:

1.) Amy became covered in a mud from a truck that attempted to drive on this road. We decided that, rather than “roughing it,” we’d rinse. We walked to pay $5 for a shower. Unfortunately, the storm somehow shut off the water supply. We met a few random people who were driving to “shower” in the lake. Our need for a shower surpassed the potential “stranger danger.” We fit 7-people in their 4-seater. I was in someone’s lap in the passenger seat, with my nose literally touching the window. I’d like to add that I was only wearing my bathing suit. This made for a severely awkward situation.

                               Not exactly the ideal attire for riding with strangers…

2.) Friday’s storm made Thursday’s seem like a sunny day. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I had suddenly become a star in a bad remake/mash-up of Wizard of Oz and Twister. Our campsite had almost completely collapsed. I would not have been shocked to see small animals floating through the sky.

3.) After Friday’s storm, a serious shower was necessary. We attempted Shower Round 2, and were initially (somewhat) successful. There was a line that could be beaten only by ones on Black Friday. As we finally made our way to the front, the water supply turned off. We made a one-mile trek through the mud to the other showers. Total time for our shower trip: 3 hours. Length of time the clean feeling lasted: 3 seconds. We became covered in mud immediately on the way back.

4.) This has nothing to do with the monsoon, but should be mentioned based on its ridiculousness. At the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday night, a group of us were chatting with random people. One guy named Joe—who was a paramedic — seemed friendly enough. Then, he casually mentioned that his last name was “Stalker,” and showed me his ID for proof. We shared a laugh over our last names. I should have taken the fact that he volunteered for us to stay in his air-conditioned home as a warning, for he soon lived up to this last name. He literally did not leave our sight for the rest of the night. He really, really needed the conversational cord cut.

Have you ever experienced crazy weather while camping?

A Delta Disaster

It takes alot to make me upset. The only times I am usually angry are if I’m hungry, hot, or stuck in traffic. A triple threat is when all three are combined. This is why snacks are a permanent part of my purse. If only I could figure a way to make a portable fan fit…

It takes even more to make me angry when on an airplane. I love finding new friends while flying. Another reason why I don’t mind flying? There is absolutely no way for me to get lost. If there was a way to accidentally hop on the wrong plane, I’m sure I’d have found it by now.

However, the last time I flew, I felt like I was stranded on an episode of Survivor. I departed for a Delta flight at 4:35PM in Nashville, and was set to arrive in Des Moines at 9PM (after a quick layover in Memphis).

I already had a few things that weren’t on my side at this time. The worst? I decided it was a great idea to hand wash (er soak) my sweaty running clothes in the bathtub 30 minutes before I left my hotel. I wanted my clothes to be clean, and figured I could use the hotel hairdryer to dry my clothes and that, somehow, they would miraculous become dry in minutes.

I forgot that it takes clothes 60 minutes to dry in a high speed machine.

I boarded my plane with a bag that weighed at least 5 pounds more than it should because of my soaking wet clothes. This is a little bit of an issue when you’re a person that thinks the bench press bar is heavy. The bag of soaking wet clothes obviously smelled superb, too.

I could break out a book on the rest of this story, but I’ll give the cliff notes version of my tumultuous travels :

1.) I spent my first night in a hotel in Memphis after waiting 4 hours in the airport for a delay. This hotel had a breakfast buffet that was not complimentary, but caloric. The only options on this buffet were biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, and sausage. This was the highlight of my day.

2.) I was frustrated after the first day of flying, so I decided to run in Memphis. My hotel was right next to the airport. [Note to self: There is a reason why no one runs near an airport. There is also a reason why no one runs on an expressway.]

3.) I spent hours in the Atlanta airport after another flight was cancelled. My flight was set to depart to Des Moines at 2:35PM, and I ended up taking a flight to Omaha at 9:30PM. This occurred because I met three awesome ladies who volunteered to rent a car and drive me to Des Moines from Omaha. We spent our hours in the airport at Chili’s. I’m pretty sure you know exactly what we went to Chili’s for after that ordeal.

4.) I realized that strangers are extremely friendly. Not only did the ladies that I met drive me to Des Moines, but I also met others who offered to drive me back to Des Moines, too, including another girl who volunteered to take a flight with me to Chicago and then drive me from Chicago to Des Moines. People even volunteered to give up their boarding passes. I also dealt with the most horrible flight attendant in history which resulted in me penning a six-page letter to Delta on the plane, which probably deserves its own post.

5.) I eventually landed in Des Moines after almost 48 hours of travel and ended up arriving on my 24th birthday. According to the employees at the Atlanta airport, I should have been celebrating being able to purchase cigarettes. I wasn’t sure whether to celebrate the fact that I was accused of being under 18, or be concerned for the fact that I’ll look younger than several of the Seniors I’ll be teaching next year.

What was your worst traveling experience? 

Mission Fast Mile

It’s no secret that I love running.

I ran Cross-Country and Track at Drake University.

Yes, that really was my uniform. Very conservative, right?

I’ve run the Chicago Marathon.

The only picture my family was able to get while I was running the marathon. I was asking for "Food." Shocking!

I also ran after a preschooler one day when I was subbing. I was wearing heels, it was below zero, and she was nonverbal and had the speed of a young Forrest Gump.  That was not a fun run.

Yet, although I love running, I have never been geared for speed.

[A sidenote: Usually, when I hear the word “speed” I think of this quote from Wedding Crashers: “Are they built for speed or comfort? What’d you do with them? Motorboat? You play the motorboat?” Yep. No connection to “speed” in the traditional sense whatsoever.]

Ok, ok, back out of the gutter.

I’ve never considered myself speedy. I ran the mile in high school sometimes, but that’s not saying much since I also long-jumped and was asked to hurdle. I go around rain puddles because I cannot successfully leap over them and have also never been able to successfully jump over a small fence in my life, so clearly, I was awesome at both of the above events.

A high school picture from when I was a Sophomore. Almost 10 years ago?!

However, recently, I’ve given myself a mission: To see how fast I can run the mile.

My mile mission unofficially started a few weeks ago. It began because I wanted to see if I still had any speed. However, it was mostly because I sometimes like to test myself to see my performance in random areas. One of my most embarrassing moments came from such a test. That one is too much for even me to share.

I decided yesterday that I wanted to see how fast I could go. I ran a 5:44.  I think I can go faster than this, so, I’m making it a weekly mission to see where I’ll go! I’m sharing this because I want to hold myself accountable. There is no “coach” that is telling me to time myself each week. The only pressure that I have is from myself (and, now, YOU!).

I’ve always loved running for many reasons, but one of the main ones is because you’re racing against yourself. You have the power to push yourself and see how far (or fast) you can go. There is no one that can race for you, or cover for you if you’re having an off-day. You can’t get subbed out when you’re feeling a cramp. Your legs take you as fast as you let them. And, above all, it feels awesome when you accomplish what you’ve set out to do.

Do you ever give yourself a personal mission? How do you hold yourself accountable? Does anyone else want to go on this mission with me?!

Small Talk with Set-up Strangers

I love small talk. I’m usually aware of the ones to avoid, yet, of course, there’s no way to be 100% successful at dodging creepy chatters.

Small talk can be really successful…but sometimes feels like speed dating. If someone opens with a muffled “Hey” and a complete avoidance of eye contact, you know you probably haven’t met your conversational companion. At the same time, if they open with a boisterous “HEYYYY!!” and a hug the instant upon meeting you, they definitely shouldn’t be your conversational companion.

Unless, of course, you’re an actor in a Lifetime Original Movie. In these situations, the “HEYYY!” with an instant hug is actually because the pair felt such a powerful force immediately after that first meeting that simply couldn’t be avoided. This same couple happens to get married in the next scene and —”Well, would you look at that!”—there’s a baby on the way during the next. They end up having their wedding and also the birth of their child at the place of their serendipitious meeting.

Let’s hope that nothing similar to that story is ever a screenplay.

Since I’m starting my new job as a high school teacher and coach next year, I’ve lately been running into countless situations that require small talk. Generally, these situations have conversational common ground: We work in Education.

However, I would like you to think back to your teachers. In some cases, the common ground of Education is pretty much the same common ground as saying you’re human or from the same state. Basically, there are many cases of small talk dating mismatches which are probably far more likely on than the commercials suggest (1 in 5 successful relationships begin on Match…REALLY?!).

So far, my small talk with new strangers (soon-to-be co-workers) has been successful. However, I have a feeling that I will not be able to escape the inevitable. I will have some set-up that will be disastrous.  These meetings are not structured. Like regular dates, we have no agenda. It’s simply to “get to know each other.”

And, like bad dates, these “get to know each other” meetings can be unbearably long with an imperfect pairing.

Imagine being paired with a Ben Stein. A 30 minute lunch may fly when you’re with your friends, but if you’re on a date with Bueller’s teacher, it’s bound to be torturous.

How do you handle set-up small talk?