Shopping & Graduation

I just went around Abilene looking for summer-esque clothes. I absolutely abhor shopping here. Two observations though: Boom and Fashions by JJ are the two funniest stores in the whole mall. There’s about 3 shirts, 2 pants and 80 necklaces. They also choose to advertise using metallic mannequins. There’s also a thriving retail outlet that is called “Corn Dog”. I saw a shirt in Monk’s yesterday with my mom that said “Only Abilene – what happens here, leaves here.” That’s very fitting for this silly little metropolis. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without at Boom.

I graduated on Saturday. From college. With a bachelor’s degree. Now…what in the world am I going to do with my life? And who in the world decided that long black and white robes complete with ridiculous hats would be the most appropriate attire for such a big day? How has someone not come up with a better idea 500 years later? And Rick Lytle or Royce Money? That outfit is just absurd.

This weekend with my family was really fun. It’s really tiring though trying to organize two different sides of the family for a whole weekend. They need to invent a physical version of the Urban Spoon application that I can use – without an iPhone. Half the time when people come to visit, everyone just stands around debating about where to eat. Americans spend about 77% of their time eating, talking about eating, working out to get rid of the fat from what they ate, or thinking about where to eat next. It can be quite exhausting.

The moral of the story is that I am still in Abilene. Come hang out with us.

Stares & Haircut

If there is one thing in life that makes my blood boil, it’s people staring. Now, if you know me, you know that I am a chronic starer. Not to justify my disease, but we’ve all been there and we all know how to stare properly. The rule is: if you get caught, abort. Duh. If the staree sees you staring, look away and pretend like you weren’t looking at them. Sooo elementary. This leads into my story…

I got my haircut today in Abilene for the first time. I didn’t know where to go so I polled some of my friends to get a good idea of salons. I ended up at one on S. 27th with a random stylist. While I was waiting to be called back, I overheard this woman next to me telling her 12-ish little girl whose legs (of the girl’s friends) were skinny and whose were not. No lie. She then proceeded to say, “Your legs aren’t skinny, honey” and proceeded to have the girl stand up to see if her thighs touched in the middle (you know this drill – fat girls thighs rub, skinny girl’s don’t…or so you think). I finally get called back for my haircut and I see my new hairdresser for the first time. The stylist had impeccably shaped eyebrows, killer make-up, and long fake nails. His name was Airick.

I’m trying to grasp the fact that a grown man went to a nail salon and puts make-up on better than most people I know. I make small talk and joke around, mainly to ease my own discomfort. After the shampoo, I sit back in the chair and see Mom-of-the-year waiting in a chair close to me while her daughter gets her hair cut. I’m making small-talk with Airick but every time I look over in this lady’s direction, she is straight up staring. Even when I make eye contact with her, she does not abort but in fact keeps staring. I’m getting agitated at this point because I can see her in my peripheral just eyeballing the crap out of me. After an eternity, her daughter is done so she gets up and leaves.

I turn to Airick after that and say, “That lady would NOT stop staring at me. Seriously…I almost just got in a fight right here in your salon.” He laughed for a minute and then said, “yea, well imagine being me. People stare all the time and it gets really old.” My first instinct was to say, “Maybe because you have tips” but instead I said, “They’re probably just jealous that you have better nails than them.” We laughed about that, he finished my haircut, and I left.

It made me sad later though. I got to thinking about how my stylist ended up being a really nice guy. Weird, absolutely. But nice. I wonder how many people I stare at or avoid talking to because they look weird.. How many people miss out on an opportunity to befriend Airick because he wears make up and gets his nails done, and how many people do I miss being friends with because I pass judgment? Our generation is going to come in contact with more and more “interesting” people. I think I learned a lesson today in how to reach them. Wanna learn? Treat them normal. God loves french manicured Airick just as much as he loves me on my high horse.

Singing & Homework

We went to Southern Hills instead of Highland yesterday for church. I just liked it so much better. We stayed at Highland to hear Mike, but now he’s not there. I always feel more at home at SH, even if no one talks to us. There is a spirit of community there that you can feel whether you are a part of it or not. The next step is to actually get involved this summer…

Meanwhile, back at the farm, Taylor and I have an uncanny knack to sit directly in front of the loudest person at church. You know these people. They sing SO LOUD that you literally have no chance to sing yourself because you can’t even hear if notes are coming out or not. I think God conveniently places us in these situations to teach us patience. When you can’t even hear yourself think, let alone try to sing..whew. It gets me. I’m serious, too. It doesn’t matter where we are or whether we sit down first or loudy sits down first. Our eardrums somehow always end up inches away. I understand that these people are enjoying worship and love to sing, but sometimes it is excessive. Because we think that way, though, I guess God situates us there for a reason. It doesn’t help that we get really giggly when something funny happens, either. It’s just not a good equation all the way around and my ears can’t hear by the time we leave.

This person is almost as bad as the “sniffler” or even worse, the “throat-clearer”. (I actually just cleared my throat after I wrote that. Oops.) But this is the person who sits next to you in class and sniffs or clears their throat the entire length of the period. Chronic sniffers should only be allowed to take online courses.

So I was working on my homework the other day and I got up to do something. This is what happened next…
Mack decided to finish my paper for me! What a dear heart.

So I’m working on this project for Cisco, TX. They are a thriving metropolis with a whopping 3,679 people. They are wanting to build an outlet mall to attract commuters driving along I-20 between Abilene and DFW, as well as retain their college population from leaving on the weekends. Basically our job is to tell them nicely, “That will never happen.” I found this interesting…Grand Prairie is building a new outlet mall and the target market 10 miles around this new mall has an average household income of $77,689. Cisco’s median HH income? $28,005. Yikes. Poor Cisco. They have a beautiful lake….maybe they should promote that instead of build a multi-million dollar outlet mall. Or maybe just build a Dollar General. Doesn’t every good small town have one?

Nazis, News, & Tragedies

We watched Boy in the Striped Pajamas a few nights ago. Are you kidding me? That is one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. Seriously. It is really good but really terribly sad. Taylor fell asleep like 30 minutes before it ended and I woke him up so that I could tell him what happened. I won’t ruin it, but

I either read or heard about an article a few years ago about how our generation has witnessed the most tragedies in the U.S. during our lifetime. I don’t necessarily know if that’s true, but the article talked about how we’ve grown up with media and news constantly broadcasting things going on around us and we are growing numb to the tragedies. Some of the major historic things it mentioned were the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine and other school shootings, 9/11, etc. We grew up hearing about these different events so now we somewhat expect something bad to happen. Especially with how plugged in our generation is to the internet, we hardly ever watch the news or know about what’s going on. That’s the price you pay when you are constantly bombarded with information…that same information starts to become irrelevant and ignored. That’s the problem marketers are facing, but now it’s our generation and the news we read or hear. The messages aren’t going through, or at least not to the extent that older generations are receiving messages. Interesting, huh?

Speaking of, a tragedy hit close to home yesterday. A girl in Memphis was murdered by her husband on Thursday night. I only met her and her husband on a college retreat Mari-Kate and I went on so I didn’t know her barely at all. MK’s sister and brother-in-law knew them well though and it was such a shock that this would happen to their friends from the college group at church. It’s unbelievably sad for Micah and her family. It reminds me how blessed I am to have the God, the husband, and the family I do. I don’t know how I could do life without them. On the other hand, it makes me sympathetic for people who have it rough. If the closest I get to tragedy like this is a girl I met one time on a retreatbeing murdered, my life is good. I am not at all saying I want my life to be bad or worse or that I want things like this to happen…but I am saying that our world is broken and people face murders, addictions, and abuse every day. This is second nature to them. Take Memphis for example – it currently is the second most violent city behind Detroit (and Memphis only lost by 2 violent crimes per 100,000 people a year). A friend of mine who worked in the ER in Memphis talked about how there were so many stabbings and violent crimes a day in that only a small fraction were reported. What a terrible life many people live. As I sit at my computer and think that Micah’s story was “close to home”, it makes me realize how un-close it really is. It puts life into perspective for me and gives me a sadness and a pain for those hurting right now whose life is like this every day. I pray that I will always hurt for the broken.

School, Siggies, & Shoes

I’m sitting in my accounting class right now. My very last accounting class. Ever. Suuuuuch a relief. I love my professor …. and by that I mean that I think he’s a nice man. I superly hate his class though. He’s one of those that gets a hold of a joke and just holds on for dear life. When we start packing up before class is actually over (he’s also one of those that keeps you right up until the EXACT moment class is supposed to be over) he’ll say “Ok church, don’t get your songbooks out, I’m still preaching” or something like that. Maybe funny the first time but definitely not the next 25 times. He’s also one of those that gets to telling a story that may have one tiny aspect relative to our class so he spends about 20 minutes telling an analogy but by the end you have no idea what that has to do with accounting. Oh well…this is my very last class and my second to last day of undergraduate classes EVER.

Last night we had our senior thing. I thought I might maybe cry but I sure did just bawl when we started singing our “secret song”. (this song is so secret that while pledging our VP said “THIS IS A SECRET – NEVER TELL ANYONE” as her man-friend sat in the room listening with us) The seniors on the first 3 rows were sniffling substantially until our sponsor came by as if she were putting on a persformance and grabbed all of our pinkies. She walked the outside of the aisles and grabbed all Siggies pinkies really dramatically – a silent way to say “with Siggie love”. It was hilarious and not remotely special. Either way, I can’t wait to come back for Bid Night, Homecoming, and Sing Song. I’m already planning a road trip. It’s exciting to move on and leave club to these girls but I’m also excited to be “that Siggie” that comes back for events.

I have a beef with the kid that sat in front of me in Crisp’s class and with this kid that sits near me now. Every single day in my class last semester, this boy would turn around in his seat (pretending to stretch) and would stare at my shoes and then work his way up to making eye contact and then would turn around really quickly. He did that every @#$# day in class and it made me want to punch him because a) I don’t like feet so quit looking at mine and b) why do you insist on looking at my shoes every day. Creeper. This kid today has done it three times already….does someone have something to tell me about my feet and/or my shoe choices? Weird.

Tonight is the Christmas party at the McCaleb’s (we missed it a while back…so now it’s Christmas in April). Wish me luck. I’m so close to being done…..

Air Conditioners, Planes, & Signage

Taylor has been suffering in his truck for a while now. The AC went out and he didn’t want to get it fixed because it would cost too much money. He has been sweating profusely every day for the past several weeks (maybe even months) because he wouldn’t get it fixed. We still drive his truck just as much though, so today I got in with my Ferrero Rocher in hand on our way to eat. I dropped the stupid ball of chocolate so we had to pull over and dig around in the floorboard so the chocolate wouldn’t met. While we were digging around he found some wires hanging down from below the dash. You probably see where this is going. Long story short, he plugged this thing in and his AC is working like a charm. That’s embarrassing. We would have taken it to someone who would have charged $300 to “fix” what really just needed to be plugged back in.

So about 2 years ago on a flight back from Ghana I met a man named Rob. He was a nice, young guy that struck up a conversation about where I was headed, etc. I told him I was coming back from Africa and that I was going to be a junior at ACU. He thought it was really cool that I had been there all summer so I showed him my pictures and talked about the experience. He asked what I wanted to do and I told him “Ohhh I don’t know. Maybe work for someone like World Vision or somebody that deals with Africa but is based in the states.” He then spouts out “Well my wife works for them so let me give you her contact information.” Fast forward 2 years, I’m graduating in 10 days, am unemployed with no real prospects, and am definitely moving to Fort Worth. So this lady comes to talk to our Marketing classes and introduces us to this dumbwad “LinkedIn” thing. She says its like Facebook for businesses so I get an account. I hate every second of it, but I somehow come across a guy named Rob that lives in Fort Worth and works for a consulting firm. I dig through my old stuff and find the contact information he gave me. I match his name and decide what-the-heck I’ll send him an e-mail. I tell him we met, I never contacted his wife, I’m moving to FW, blah blah blah. He sends me an e-mail back today saying that he would forward on my message to his wife (who is still with World Vision) and she will contact me. WAHOO! I don’t even know if anything will happen but the chain of events that led to today’s e-mail was incredible to me. Even if nothing happens, I was smiling all morning thinking to myself, “Eat that suckers!” (literally I was thinking that) because of all the people who have discouraged me from waiting for a time when I felt at peace. I promise you…my method is proven. So back off, ACU surveys. Even though I don’t have a job and I’m graduating in a week and a half, I’m going to be ok.

We were driving back from Abuelo’s and saw a sign that said “Far wood fer sale”. Awesome, Abilene. We saw another that gave the location for a certain business on “Industrail Blvd”. I guess they meant Industrial. Oops. I could make a killing off being a spellchecker for local businesses. (and most Chinese restaurants)

I’m speaking a small bit at club tonight in the senior farewell thing. I don’t know what to say. I would like to think that our senior class has made an impact, which they have, but in reality….club will go on. Surprise! ACU will go on too without us. I think most people assume we’re leaving school and club in a huge mess because we’re all graduating. News flash: life moves on without us. It’s going to be so great to say goodbye but I’m excited for the underclassmen to have a time to shine and to lead like we did. It’s time to move on…

Wildcat Preview Days & Faith

Today was my last…very last Wildcat Preview Day. It would have been kind of sad had I not been exhausted from staying up late last night to finish a take-home test. Either way, it was a good day and I met some cool kids. I just want to shake sense into everyone and say “Come to ACU, stupid!!!” And by stupid I mean bright young adults that will surely excel here. I hate leaving work feeling like I haven’t given it everything though, and that’s how I left today. I had about 110% fake energy which bothered me, but what can you do. I also get tired of making suggestions or offering advice that falls on deaf ears. We can’t see our office improve if we aren’t willing to address problems as they arise. Making generic comments in meetings or sending out vague e-mails doesn’t necessarily fix personal problems. I don’t think I always have the answer by any means, I just wish I could be content with how things are. I guess that’s how God made me different but still…mediocrity makes me cringe.

I talked to George Pendergrass today for a little while and he asked what I was doing after college. I told him I didn’t know and I described a little about what I would like to do. I told him – yet another adult – that the money didn’t matter as much as my passion for what I was doing. He understood maybe a little more than others did but it wasn’t until my conversation with him that it dawned on me why I seem so different in that regard than all my peers. The answer: my parents. I think today I fully realized what an incredible gift I was given with my parents. I knew all along that they were way better than most parents and that I could tell them most anything (by the way I’m on drugs, Mom) but today I realized one incredible lesson I learned and that is Faith. Sunday school teachers talk about it, entire volumes are devoted to the subject but no one can really explain it. It’s just something you have to witness for yourself. My parents were the kind of people that would take jobs without knowing the salary but rather by listening to God and His plan. Talk about faith…phew. Now I know why I sound like an idiot when I tell people the same thing. I learned it from my faith-walking parents and now I’m walking the same way. Even when I wait on decision and don’t feel at “peace”…whether I acknowledge it or not I am walking by faith. Man, what a gift. Thanks Sparks family. I guarantee I’m in the minority of children who learned such a valuable lesson by witnessing it first hand.

Enough sappies for the day. Taylor and I almost died on a run tonight (not really but I think my body would rather be chunky than forced into exercising) and we took Mack with us. We stopped to talk to Lindsay and Kat and Mack figured out that he could back up far enough to wear his fatso neck skin would slide out of his collar. We looked like idiots chasing our dog but luckily (thanks to Papa) we taught him to come back. We got his collar and leash back on and Taylor just kept saying “BAD DOG BAD DOG” over and over again. Finally I was like, Taylor…you gotta hand it to him – that was smart. He’s quite the sneaky catdog.

In case anyone is wondering…I’m graduating from a university in 12 days. I just hope I make it through this week.

Steaks, Puppies, & Kylie

That last word was thrown in for funzies since I was just g-chatting with Kylie about my newfound blog.

Taylor and I went to FW this weekend to hang out with some friends and it was a grand ole time. We ate steaks at Drew’s house with his family, Estebaan & Whitney, Jerrod, and their Latvian student Laura. I’m excited to be in a big city with traffic (at least I will be for the first day), places to shop, and restaurants to choose from. We ate at Chipotle, which was delicious, and we didn’t know anyone…I loved it.

I’m ready to move somewhere and start new. What I mean by that is I’m ready to walk into Wal-Mart and not have to stop every other aisle to carry on conversations with people I really only know because I met them one time freshman year and have waived to ever since. Know those people? It drives me nuts. It’s like that Seinfeld episode where Elaine keeps waiving to the guy in her building and he just ignores her one day. I want to ignore people sometimes. Not in a mean way, but in a I-just-woke-up-and-I’m-just-trying-to-buy-cinnamon-rolls-so-leave-me-alone-at-the-grocery-store kind of way. I knew this guy once that I met one time 4 years ago and for the first 2 to 2 1/2 years we did the awkward “hey ____” as we passed by. It slowly evolved into a head nod which slowly evolved into a small smile which slowly evolved into nothing. Soon, though, the lack of awknowledgement turned into an awkward encounter because we would just try to avoid all eye contact with each other. Now, I basically jump in the bushes anytime I pass him because it has become that awkward. How does that happen? Oh well…at least I don’t have to fake a smile when really I can’t even remember how I met him or what his name was. The ones that scare me are those “Hey Sarah!!!!!!” when – let’s face it – I’ve never seen the person in my life. Apparently I have, and we had a great time, but yikes – I can’t remember now. I know I’ll miss the frequency of these encounters in FW…

We looked at puppies today. Oops! They are collie/lab/retriever mixes and cuuuuuute cute. I told Taylor we shouldn’t go because we just would go home with one. Sure enough here we are on the back porch of Estebaan’s grandma’s house holding these little fur balls that can’t even really walk yet. Watching newborn puppies attempt to walk is almost as painful as working with middle school kids. The awkward meter is just off the charts. These puppies were spread-eagle on the concrete trying to move one leg at a time. Painful. They were still cute though. I think Taylor was so in love with this one little boy that if Whit and Estebaan don’t take it, we’ll end up with another dog. That will equal 1 1/2 dogs. Maybe Mack will learn to act more like a canine over time.

It’s pass the key time. I woooonder who it is!! We sure do marry them off.

Catdog & Sexies

Title in reference to that stupid show on Nickelodeon: So I heard this rustling around the other day while Mack was finding a place to lay (he’s 70 pounds so it’s quite the process). I turn around to look and sure enough my dog has found a nice place on the back of the couch. Unbelievable. We’re borderline obsessed with our dog so much so that Taylor and I were eating breakfast and he was thinking about dropping our kids off at college and becoming empty-nesters, (maybe a little ahead of himself..) so I told him, naturally, that was a weird thought and how we’re empty-nesters right no. His response? “No we aren’t” as we both look over at our dog sitting as stoic as possible next to the table where he knows we’ll feed him 1/2 of our plate at most every meal if he just works his charm. Behold our catdog:

So last night I went to the 2nd of 6 lingerie showers I’m going to in the next week. Majority of these showers are for THWAD members (the pod in Barrett Hall) and it is weird to me that everyone is getting hitched. I’m excited for them but it’s overwhelming the amount of money and time that will be devoted to showers & weddings this summer. Phew. It was so good, though, to hang out with those girls. Hard to believe our 4 years at ACU are almost up. I can’t wait to come back though….I want to be “that person” that can afford to pay for kid’s to go to ACU. Maybe we’ll be kazillionaires and be able to do that. I feel sure that I’ve given enough to the school already though to have some sort of a monument or maybe a building in my name. That’s not too much to ask, right?

I love meeting new people. If I see a weirdo person on campus, my immediate thought is “I want to talk to them”. I don’t know why. There’s a guy named Duran on campus that always wears silly sweatpants and an Indiana Jones hat & settler boots. I just love the guy. He’s really smart and so nice if you just talk to him. If it weren’t for that obscure obsession with meeting new and different people, I wouldn’t have most of the multicultural friends I have. We white folk stick to our kind pretty good. Well I guess everyone does. Like I told LYNAY in my senior speech though, if you don’t like people that are different – culturally and ethnically – you’re going to be in a heap of hurt in heaven. So much can be learned from other cultures and I want to learn it all. I mean we had a small Korean man sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” at our rehearsal dinner, for goodness sake. What would our lives be like without Steve-Chan and the way he pronounced words. Ribrlaly? Oh…he means library. He seriously is one of my favorite people ever and I just wouldn’t have met him had it not been for ACU and its multiculturality (college dollars well spent on that word…thanks mom).

Wings & Money

I almost became a vegetarian tonight. It was very close to being final. I looked up a recipe for wings tonight because we bought some delicious chicken at Wal-Mart. I go to the store and buy the wing sauce, get home and open the chicken. Hooooly crap! There are actual full-length flying wings in our fridge. Maybe this is normal for most people, but I’m new to this homemaking stuff so I google “how to cut chicken wings” and it gets very straightforward instructions. Luckily, someone gave us some killer knives and I got the largest meat cleaver I could find. As I gag, I try to pull apart the wing and I realize that I can almost see this chicken’s beady little eyes telling me how I should be eating vegetables and fruit for dinner instead. I realized you actually have to saw through the bone – which is absolutely repulsive – so I just slammed that thing down as hard as I could to make a good clean break. Taylor said it was his favorite meal…and the chicken was pretty good in the end…but I think if I have more encounters with butchering almost-live animals, I might decide that meat is overrated. At least while I’m cooking.

I have a love-hate relationship with International Business. I love what we talk about but I hate it because I always leave feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Today we talked about how Denmarkers (you heard it) are the most happy people in the world. They had some big elaborate reason why, but really we just ended up talking about America again and how we are greedy and in it for the money and material stuff. In this video, the Danish guy said, “Americans just need to not worry about money, but rather doing something they love.” HEELLLLOOO that’s what I tell all these people who try to help me find a job. I just don’t care about the paycheck. If I did, I wouldn’t have worked in ACU Campus Visits at $5.15/hr. Thank goodness they raised minimum wage but still I would work there as long as it covered my bills. Now that I’m getting out into “the real world”, I keep telling these career experts that I guess I want to go non-profit, because I have to care about what I’m doing. Chances are, I’m not going to be passionate about being the top Cutco knife salesman in the United States. However, put me in a place where people matter and social justice is at the forefront and I will thrive. I guarantee I can sell…I just need to be passionate about what I’m selling or where I’m working. People think I’m nuts – even the “career experts” – and it’s about to drive me crazy.

I’ve narrowed it down to a list of the jobs I think I might love (None are very likely but who cares):
1. Travelling professionally and taking others with me to broaden worldviews & help others experience what I have
2. Opening a Wayside Waif in Texas…possibly a dog spa also. Don’t judge.
3. Running a business with Taylor that helped the poor find sustainability
4. Cooking tours around the world (I mean it would be fun, right?!)
5. Starting my own marketing/management/people-centric consulting firm for churches & non-profits
6. Managing partner at Ernst & Young (sike…that’s just in there for Taylor)
7. Being a professional youth volunteer that goes on all trips and acts as the “fun” one

That’s it for right now. I’m sure I’ll think of others. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.