From gnibbles: Comment to this post, and I will list 7 things I want you to talk about. They might make sense, or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.
Cupcakes: I have really enjoyed the trending success of cupcakes in recent years. They are much more convenient than cake, and I think people like that they are personal, individual cakes - I think it makes people feel more important to have a cupcake than to have a slice of cake. On the other hand, cupcake shops popping up all over the place means sometimes you get all excited for the idea of cupcakes, only to be disappointed if they are suboptimal. This was the case for me with Sheffield's cupcake mini-chain, Fancie. The cake part was pretty good, but the frosting wasn't at all, and so after the first few times (an idea can be pretty powerful, all right?), I just stopped going. There were other places to get cupcakes, and some of them were pretty good, too, but so far I haven't had any that were better than Designer Desserts' here in town. They have exciting flavors, the frosting is always really well-done, and the cakes are excellent. When I bake, I always feel like box mixes are cheating, but the last time I made cupcakes that's precisely what I used, because I was doing them for work, and the cake part was slightly less important than the Cadbury eggs I put in the middle XD
Dance: Dancing is something I always missed, but never realized just how much until I started again last fall. After we moved away from Lake Zurich when I was 11, we never got around to finding me another place to take dance, so I didn't. Starting a couple of years later, I developed a back-burner obsession with ballet as a sort of lost opportunity (even though I had done and enjoyed every type of dance offered where I went), which I nursed passively until this past fall. I finally got myself together and joined IBT, and I have loved it! Even though I hate being bad at it, I love dancing. I even love barre, and how we spend most of our time on it. I hate pas de chat (because I hurt myself a few weeks ago), and I hate turns because I don't have the core control to do them as well as I want, but I like trying! I'm looking forward to building up enough foot/toe strength for pointe, since that will be fulfilling pretty much a life-goal. I love the rigor and difficulty of ballet (nothing about it is natural, and if it doesn't hurt, you're doing it wrong), and there is nothing better than being able to express music physically. I feel like that's what dance does for me - it gives me a way to be part of the music. If I'm not careful, I'll go on all day about how much I love ballet, and dancing generally. If there were other adult classes, I would take all the dance styles again. Fun fact: my adult ballet class is dancing to the Game of Thrones theme for our recital next month XD I'm excited that I get to do really fast waltz steps for the second part.
England: England was a really good time in my life, but I don't think I'd want to move back. Actually, I'd love to transplant Sheffield and all my people in it to somewhere that has better weather. It sounds lame, but the constant grey sky and drizzly, miserable weather for 9/10ths of they year really wore me down after a while. I loved being there! I love all my friends there! I'm not even a creature of sunshine, I promise! I just couldn't take it anymore :C England as a whole, though, was a really interesting culture to get inside of, though it's difficult for me to project what would be pan-British attitudes, and which were essentially English. I got used to many things being the English way, and I think that level of immersion has been really useful in making me a more rounded person. It would be great to be able to do that elsewhere, but I have language-error terrors. And honestly, even though it feels a little lame to talk about experiences living "abroad" when it's in a place with the same language, England turns out to have been an actual culture shock sometimes! In surprising, tiny ways sometimes, and in huge, blinsiding ways others. I really enjoyed learning all the little ways things were different or the same, and especially liked being able to be an informal ambassador for America, like when I could explain some jokes on the Simpsons, or when I said, "Go big or go home" and no one knew what I meant. I ALSO liked being able to watch rugby with minimal effort, which I will miss forever :/
Indiana: Once upon a time, I was a terribly cosmopolitan teenager who felt insulted and imprisoned because my parents dared uproot me from [the northern suburbs of] Chicago and take me to hopelessly rural, uncultured Indiana. I resented it for several years (my experience in those first couple of years did nothing to dissuade me), and referred to my prison as "Satan's Outhouse." I mean, I was pretty young - what can you expect? In the intervening, oh, 12 years or so (16 from when we first moved to IN), I have come to appreciate the complex nature of my little part of Indiana, and its ability to defy pigeonholing. There are some things about it that I still don't like that much, but that's true anywhere (see "England," above), and there are a lot more that I appreciate better now that I've had time to figure out why it's not so bad to be less "cosmopolitan," especially in formative years. I love Valpo, for all its faults and frustrating problems, and I wouldn't trade having done my real growing up based here for anything.
Expectation and Aspiration: These things, for me, are often hard to distinguish. If I'm hoping for something to be true, I have a hard time expecting it to be otherwise. And most of the time, I'm pretty good about knowing what's going to happen. There have, of course, been some rough letdowns (PhD applications last spring, for example...), but I think those are important, too. You can't always get what you hope for, even if you're very realistic and rational about what your hopes are. Expectation is a different beast, but like I said, I have difficulty separating them. My expectations are generally quite rational and almost as often, they are accurate. But again, there are things which occasionally defy my expectations, that's a good lesson, too! I'm not even talking about the terribly T9 software in my head where I expect based on 2 or 3 phonemes that a person will say X and they say something completely different, so it takes me a second to catch up and then of course I have to SAY what I expected them to say...Which is often very embarrassing. Oh, well! Anyway, this topic really reminded me of my favorite (if trite) Latinism: "dum spiro spero" - while I breathe, I hope. I mostly thought of it because "aspiration" carries both meanings in English, and I've always thought that was very poetic.
Singing: Singing is probably a thing I couldn't live without. I haven't sung formally in a very long time, and I keep not getting lessons again because of cost, or because I don't like the teacher, or pqr, xyz. This does not mean that I don't sing every day, because I totally do. Especially in the car, or if there's no one in the house (or if everyone in the house is far enough away from me that I don't think they'll hear). If I'm going to be overheard, I just sort of putter at it, but if I'm not, I get out my whole voice and really go for it, even if the range is too high/low/wide for me. I LOVE to sing. I overthink it, like I overthink everything (that's my number 1 problem in ballet, too), but only when I'm doing it formally. When I'm singing along to something I like, or something familiar, I can just let it go and it's so, so good. When I don't care what I sound like, or if someone will hear me hitting a flat note, singing is the best thing there is. Well, except for when I used to be able to sing, worry about those things, AND not have those problems. Finishing the last note was the actual best thing there is, then. I miss being an accomplished singer. Someday I'll go back to it, and I'll pick an aria to learn and that will be my new party trick. My current one is a little...unpopular. Who wants to hear 9 lines of 11th century French epic poetry? Because I can totally do you a dramatic performance of the first lai of the Chanson de Roland.
Finger Painting: I think finger painting is probably very therapeutic. I haven't painted anything in a long time, but maybe I ought to. I was going to get into painting minis for a while, but I never did. I have never liked getting my hands dirty, so I was never really into finger painting as a kid, but I think maybe it would be good for me. I know people really love it. That's why I'm doing the "mudathon" this summer - I think I need to get back to making myself get dirty and just give in again, because I think I've gotten too used to being too sterile in a couple of different ways. So maybe I'll try finger painting sometime soon - it could be really good, in the same way that rugby was, only less bruise-inducing XD
In other news..? It's been a while! I have a new group of people to hang out/game with, which makes me ridiculously happy. We even played Arkham Horror on Friday and I almost died of happiness. I mean, my character almost died in R'yleh, too, but that's just how it goes. Things are still good at the bank, even though it turns out something that be busy. stressful, AND boring all at the same time. I did go to that Joffrey class once and it was amazing, but I haven't managed to go again yet (which is sad). Binder has invited me to start going shooting with her family sometimes, which is scary and pretty awesome at the same time. We are also planning to take up archery this year, which will be awesome, since I always meant to. Mostly, I am trying to find ways to be happy, despite having no idea what the rest of my life will look like. Fortunately, I'm mostly succeeding these days!