Total Pageviews

Monday, January 24, 2011

The gym is trying to kill me (by embarrassment).

I am almost certain the gym is trying to kill me. Slowly but surely, whenever I walk into the basement of Elizabethtown College's "gym" (it's a basement), I feel the ellipticals bristle, calculating their next move if I am to select one. Not only is the cardio equipment against me, but the weight machines as well.
One of my worst nightmares is looking like a complete idiot in the gym. I mean, here are all these lean, buff guys and here I stand, an out-of-shape girl in her mesh shorts attempting to work the ab crunch machine without losing my finger to the snapping mechanisms.
I have not had good experiences at the gym. On my first trip to this deplorable place, I wanted to weight lift (over-eager, I know). It were as if the equipment sensed my hesitation and pounced on my weakness (no pun intended). I took a deep breath before I selected the Hamstring Curl machine, chose my weight, and locked myself in for the ride of my life. This machine required the user to lower a pad against one's shins so that the motion of the user was maximized. There I sat, feeling knots in muscles that I never knew existed (probably because they barely exist on my frail frame), and I felt glorious! God, what a rush. After my sweaty session that left my hamstrings feeling numb, I leaned forward to unlock the shin pad. Damn me to Hell if the stupid thing would not budge. I glanced around, taking notice of everyone in the gym. Ah, we have lacrosse players, baseball players, and just overall buff guys. Great, just great: the athletes of the school to watch me flounder while locked in Hell's contraption. Using my feeble arm muscles, I pulled with all my might on the knob to release the mechanism. In the end, I wound up asking some guy to pull the knob for me, but even his ripped arms couldn't. Perhaps he was telling the truth when he said, "Oh, don't feel bad, I got stuck in it last week. I just slid out of it." Well, there is an idea: I contorted my body and felt the pads slip from my calves. Voila. Simple as cake. Fortunately, this wasn't too embarrassing. Maybe that's why the gym felt it needed to get revenge.
Another eventful session in the gym also involved weight lifting; I decided I needed to work on my arm muscle tone, so I situated myself on the seated row machine. All of the machines have weights that you select with a pin, and each weight has a number ranging from 1 to 20. So, I'm thinking, "Ok, I'm going to do 50 lb rows, 25 lbs for each arm", so I select the number 5. My skills of observation apparently are not my strong point: after attempting to do one rep, I gave up. I'm thinking to myself, "Oh my GOD. I never knew 50 lbs could be so heavy!" Luckily for me, my one friend was in the gym. Prefacing myself with, "I've never weightlifted before in this gym" (big lie. I'd been a number of times.), I explained my dilemma. My friend looked at me and then proceeded to burst into a violent fit of laughter. Apparently, the numbers are just numbers, meant to confused unobservant people like myself. The actual weight is listed beside the numbers in tiny white print. So really, when I thought I was lifting 50 lbs, I was doing 105. Ah. That explains why my biceps would not budge the weight.
The most recent embarrassing workout took place a few days ago. I decided that interval training, like sprinting for 30 seconds, resting for a minute and a half, was a good idea because it depletes some g-word thing in your muscles...basically, you burn fat. My boyfriend has the bio degree, not muah. Anywho... So, there I sat on the stationary bike, which I don't like to begin with because I feel like the handles are too far away from the seat. I'm warming up, getting ready to complete my first set. When the timer hit five minutes, I started pedaling my little heart out. First set, check. By this point, I was dying. I am so out of shape, that is almost a fourth embarrassing thing to add. I rested my minute and a half, which let me tell you felt like two seconds and brace myself for the next 30 seconds of Hell. I am about half way through my sprint when all of a sudden, my right foot couldn't pedal anymore. I glanced down and about freaked: somehow, my shoelace had become entangled in the mechanism of the system, leaving me with a shoelace mangled by the turning gears and other thingamabobs inside the blasted bike. I glanced over at the girl on the elliptical who was so engrossed in her work out, she had not noticed my dilemma. I looked back down at my shoe and decided the only thing to do was fix it myself, considering 1) I was not about to ask someone to help me and 2) I couldn't get up to ask anyone to help even if I was less prideful. I tugged with all of my might on the shoelace, but it wouldn't budge. I discarded that strategy, and went to attempting to unravel the jumbled mess. After a few good minutes, my shoelace emerged from the inner workings of the bike. I did a double check around the gym to make sure no one was laughing, pointing, or videotaping, and I restarted my workout. But not before I acted on my valuable life lesson that I will take to the grave: always tuck in your shoelaces.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Salt the SLUGS!

"Why do you sleep with your ears covered at night?"
"I do not. I don't know what you are talking about."

The first stage of any obsession is denial. Hence my reaction when I was asked why I sleep with my ears covered at night. To preface this story, I should let you know that truth be told, I'm a huge baby; I'm talking extreme. While I was still home, I popped some bread in the toaster and proceeded to make coffee until the toaster went off about a minute later, sending me into a panic attack due to bread springing out of the appliance. Talk about embarrassing. Other embarrassing events also go hand in hand with me crying in public over "Quarantine", pacing the cinema floor, and having to sleep in my mother's bed that night (I was 17, legally a child, ok people, so it's really not that bad). Perhaps that is why I deny the fact that I sleep with my ears covered at night. One of my friend's mother's told me that she can't sleep at night if she doesn't cover her feet; this seems semi-normal. I mean, I'm sure her feet would get cold. I sleep with my feet covered, too, perhaps more for the reason I'm scared the monster living under my bed is going to chop them off in the middle of the night (coming back to school and sleeping on the top bunk is really a blessing). Plain and simple: I just don't do scary well. And what you think is scary would hospitalize me, guaranteed. My limit is crossed when they do that thing in the movies, you know that thing with the mirrors: the guy will be shaving in the bathroom and he'll open the medicine cabinet, but when he closes it, there is something freaky as hell in background with an axe/knife/gun/candlestick waiting to snuff him. Yeah... I'm in stomach turning, panic mode by that point.
But back to the main feature: sleeping with the blankets pulled up to my ears. I honestly don't remember what age I was when I started this odd habit, but I was young. English has always been my thing, so when I was in second grade, I had the reading level of approximately a sixth grader. Of course this had many positives: easy school work for a few years. Not many people would guess this had a downside: the reading of books that would scare the shit out of me. Let me tell you, some of those books that are even meant for sixth graders would have terrified me in tenth grade, let alone being a second or third grader reading them.
When I was in second grade, my teacher asked us to come to school dressed as what we wanted to be when we grew up. So the next day, in walks Dan dressed as a car mechanic, Amanda walks in dressed like a nurse, you know, the staples. And then I walk in as Steve Irwin. Yes, I wanted to be a zookeeper. I love animals like tigers and zebras, so why the hell not. (Funny how things change). With my obsession with "aminals" as I called them when I was a tiny tot, it is no wonder that I would pick up a book called "Animorphs" one day in the library. I thought to myself in my tiny brain, "Wow! A book that is about turning into an animal! What could be better?!" I'll tell you what: a root canal, the burning flames of Hell perhaps. After reading the first chapter that elaborated on how you became half animal, I freaked. Talk about a traumatic episode, reading about how slug-like creatures crawl in your ears when you sleep, digging into your gray matter, turning you into part animal. I forgot all about how cool the animal part was and became fixated on the gross, slimy slugs that would embed themselves in my head. I think because it was so traumatizing, I've blocked out a lot of the sequence of events, but from that point on, the blankets come up to my ear, no matter whether it is winter or summer. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit I still sleep like this (ok, so I might be slightly embarrassed), but lesson learned: salt the slugs before they get you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Today I decided to step outside of my comfort zone located in Panera to expand my horizons of writing territory a bit. After sleeping ten hours straight (yes, I have an amazing life filled with beautiful sleep patterns some nights), I showered, played with the pup, and headed on my merry way to Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover, PA. Although I may give Hanover some crap for not having a very eclectic variety of things to do for college students, I do love Hanover for its history and beautiful architecture. I hate driving on the streets of Hanover, but I love they way they look, especially this time of year being covered in snow.
If you live anywhere near this library (located right past the original Famous Hot Weiner close to the Eichelberger Building) I recommend you visit. Even though I'm here to write, they do seem to have a very large range of books. And to my surprise, they have a Keurig coffee maker! Even though it was already 11 by the time I got here, I still freaked out a bit. They even had a nice older woman there to help me, and the coffee was only a buck (CHEAP).
Three cheers for Hanover for having a beautiful library that I definitely will be visiting again in the future :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing and Beach Season do not mix.

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
This question is such a simple question for me to answer because it is innately programed into my brain: write a book!
If I knew I could sit down at a computer and just start typing a continuous stream of consciousness without exerting much effort, bang it out in a few days induced with caffeine, and take it to a publisher only to have them swoon and become smitten with my characters... Ah, what a dream.
But not really. Who wants to write a book in only a few days because it's so easy? Oh, don't get me wrong, I know a lot of author's out there can write a full novel in a month, but the prolific track is not really the track I'm set to be on, at least for now. I'm so caught up in perfection, and although I've learned to allow myself just to write without thinking, it still is very difficult for me not to go back and edit. I have learned the trick of half closing my laptop, or closing my eyes in order to keep myself from twitching due to a typo back in paragraph three. I don't want to write a book because it's easy; I want to do it because it's difficult. You're talking to the girl who took Honors Trig because she "wanted to get into a good college". honors would make or break the bank...What I wouldn't give to go back three years and smack myself for what I put myself through. (Word to the wise: If you suck at math [aka ME], just don't. Don't.)
I'm itching to get back to school so I'll be forced to time manage because unfortunately, my laptop gets this evil thing called the Internet which is the bane of my existence. F you, Facebook and Email. And I've given up on my Panera visits: way too expensive for my poor wallet, and I don't get shit done anyways because I run into a bajillion people I know.
Also, the cell phone is HUGE distraction. Text messages, however nice they are to receive, are these pins to my thought balloons. Poof! There goes my idea for a scene/character/subplot. So, celly is going on silent under my pillow during my writing period, thus forgive me if I don't answer for a few hours/days/weekends.
Until I get back to school, I've given up on exercising. Hell, they have a full gym up there, so Lauren as of right now is just focusing on writing and getting her stuff in order (packing for college is a bitch, and those boxes ain't light, so that should burn a few extra calories). My schedule is beautiful this semester, with MWF having classes begin at 12:30; no folks, this does not mean I will be sleeping in until 11:55. I'm actually waking my groggy self up at 8 AM every morning while I am at school so I can work out these three days in the gym, pumping some iron. Beach season, you also fit into the F you category with Facebook and Email. So, if you're from E-town College and you don't see me in the gym by 9, I live in Schlosser. Come find my dorm room, there will be an airhorn hanging outside with a sign that reads PLEASE USE IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (AKA Lauren didn't get her lazy ass out of bed). Although I may greet you with a punch in the face, it just means I love you, I promise.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Here goes nothing....yeah right, get real.

Back to college in a week, and although it's going to be a really tough semester, I'm looking forward to the challenge. (I also said this about my British Literature final paper, having chose the hardest topic because I "wanted a challenge"....ooooo that was stupiddddd. Tip to all college students: work hard, but take the easy road when you can, AKA, don't be Lauren...but anways...) Being home in Spring Grove does not suit me well, apparently. I just get restless, having very little at my fingertips to dive into; for those of you who don't live in Spring Grove, there is nothing to do. Yes, I know this sounds cliche, but there is not even a decent coffeeshop in the area for a girl to pop into to write! This is a sin; one day, maybe I'll open one here. It's odd; one would think that with all of this time on my hands, I should be getting some superb writing done, but I have found that a hectic schedule yields my greatest works, or so I think.
Where some people hate being stressed out, I love the feeling of frazzled nerves and coffee highs. Well... I don't love it. But I sure as hell do notice a huge difference in me when I am not jacked up on caffeine or have three bajillion pages to read for classes. Stress suits me well. I love schedules, and I love when I have to make time for downtime, not when my whole day is downtime and I have to fill it with something meaningful. I need a purpose to my life. Hence why, in my discussion with a friend, I am not trophy wife material (thank you very much for a hit to my self-esteem). No, but really, I understood what he was saying even as he stuck his foot in his mouth in attempt to redeem himself, which was hilarious; I can't just sit at home all day! I GO CRAZY. Arm candy for her husband, this girl is NOT. I will work for my money, thank you very much, while maintaining my sanity.
I'm really excited because I just received two amazing books as a gift that have to deal with writing! One teaches you how to brainstorm characters, because really folks, writing is some hard shit. I read this quote once that said that writers are basically people with multiple personalities but not as crazy because they are able to call forth a characteristic of themselves but then add traits that they don't necessarily possess. It's some hard work making up people; can you say brain workout?
The other book is a really awesome interactive one that helps you plan out a novel. It is called "Book in a Month", and although this might sound overly ambitious especially for a newbie like myself, I'm hoping that maybe at least I'll have some good ideas in a month. Although self-motivation and dedication are important, I've found that for me, my issues really lie in expecting too much of myself in the beginning. Perfectionism is a blessing, but with writing, it can be a real pain in the arse, too. No one sits down to write the first time and walks away with every page being perfect, just as no musician practices a piece for the first time and walks away with it being perfect. There is always room for improvement.
I also received a writing magazine for Christmas, and I am so excited to use some of the ideas to help fuel my pursuit toward putting words on the page.
So friends, I'm off to do some research and to brainstorm because my inner nerd thinks writing is more fun than getting shitfaced. God, I am not normal in comparison to other college students.

P.S- it's the weekend! Get off of the Internet and go do something fun :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Doggie, Doggie!

I can’t imagine living in a house without at least one dog. How boring it would be! In the photo albums that pollute our home, there are numerous pictures of me clinging to a hairy beast about eight times my size, my pacifier dangling precariously from my lip, dangerously close to being dropped, upon which I probably would have just shoved the dootsie back in my mouth and thought nothing of the germs crawling all over the floor…or the dog hair. I shudder to think.

Even through all of the hair that they produce, I still love dogs. Granted, it does get old having to lint roll your clothes every five minutes, using an extra strength adhesive one to pull off the lingering hair…but I STILL love dogs.

When I went to college, my family owned three dogs, but two were getting up there in age; unfortunately in the last two years, the two older ones have passed, but Sidney, the youngest at only five years old, is my baby. My parents got him for me for a birthday present, which my mom would swear was the worst decision of her life, especially because of the fact he is Newfoundland and Collie mixed, which yields major hairball. But truly, he is the most intriguing dog I have owned; he weighs about ninety-five pounds yet still thinks he is a lapdog.

Once Newton passed away later in 2010, Sidney was left alone at home all day by himself. Although I was at college, I could picture his depression, wandering from room to room looking for a friend to play. My parents told me he was becoming quite depressed, and so, as any good parent would, they bought him a friend. My mom was absolutely furious at her decision of buying the tiny teddy-bear like creature that greeted me at the door when I came home from college one night. Although she wanted to kick herself, she will admit now that buying Rocky was a good decision, not only to cheer up Sidney, but also for her and my dad.

If you’ve never had a dog, you probably won’t understand my seemingly-like madness over the furry creatures, but if you have owned at least one at some point in your life, I’m sure you can grasp what I’m saying. Dogs aren’t pets; they’re a part of the family. I know when I was having a hard time going through a breakup, Sidney lay in bed with me for at least an hour, just lying there, letting me pet him. The phrase “stupid dog” is such bull, at least for the dogs I have had; they are far, far from being stupid, probably higher on the emotional intelligence scale than most people who go to college, from what I’ve seen so far.

My roommate and I up at Elizabethtown have both grown up with dogs, so our freshman year, we were really feeling the absence of a puppy in our tiny dorm room. Of course, sneaking a dog into your dorm is not the easiest thing to do, but we were not about to settle for not having some type of furry creature in our presence. Elizabethtown has a Saturday Market (which, if you ever have time, I would recommend going; you can find so many things for very cheap prices. Of course some of the stuff is junk, but there are some good finds), and one weekend my roommate and I along with a few friends went.

Fate lead us to the outside portion of the market, where we lay eyes on five tiny rabbits curled up in a ball so tightly, it was hard to distinguish where one rabbit ended and the other ones began. We could feel the pity creeping in for the tiny, helpless creatures that were housed in a cardboard box without any blanket.

DISCLAIMER: ** Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get a rabbit for a dorm room. There is a reason why the college tells you that you can only have non-carnivorous fishes. Although Jet (he was a pure black rabbit) was an adorable little thing when we got him, he didn’t stay tiny for long. And when we discovered that he liked to chew electrical cords (not by discovering him fried, thank God), my roommate and I both knew we had to get rid of him.

The idea of going back to college without a dog depresses me. As much as I’d love to steal Sidney for next year when I might be getting an apartment, I feel like my parents would somehow notice the lack of long black tumbleweeds rolling along the kitchen floor and the warm spot on the couch where he “knows he’s not allowed to lay”. Good dog.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Just a drop in the ocean.

I am absolutely terrified of the ocean. I can distinctly recall being at the Outer Banks with my boyfriend at the time, him coaxing me to come out into the beautiful water, not that Ocean City, MD water; this water was blue, less polluted than other beaches I had been to in the past. I stood on the shoreline, digging toes into the sand, screaming NO in my head. God, it was hot... In desperation I approached the water cautiously like a snake ready to strike at any moment and immersed myself up to my knees.

“Come on, Lauren! You’ll be fine, I promise!”, my boyfriend yelled, swimming effortlessly in the ocean water, totally at ease with the fact something eerie could be lurking right below his treading legs. I saw something creating dark shadows below his body; my imagination was running rampant, but neither myself nor anyone else would be able to convince me it was just my mind running freely.

Oh hell no, I will not budge. No, no, no.

Getting impatient, he swam to shore. Once he was close enough to see my face, tears welling in my eyes, his expression changed from impatience to pity.

“Aw, don’t be scared. Come on,” he said gently, reaching his hand out to meet mine that rested stock still against my side.

Reluctantly, I allowed him to lead me out into the deeper, darker water, first to my stomach, then gradually up to my chest. The waves were smoother out in the deeper depths, but I still was not calm. I thought about how animals can sense when someone is fearful, how if a shark or some unknown sea creature were nearby, it would sense with his animal instincts that someone in the water was terrified.

My boyfriend looked at me, both of us face to face, treading the salt water, the tips of our toes barely missing the sandy floor, his hand still clasping mine. “See,” he said with a smile, “not so bad after all”.

I forced a grin; “Yes, you’re right. You can let go of my hand now.”

He released my pale fingers from his own. With animal-like quickness, I made my way back to shore, moving at double the speed due to the powerful waves washing me in.

I spent the rest of the vacation up to my knees in the salty water, not daring to go past the invisible threshold I created for myself. I was completely content to spend several hours building an epic sandcastle, only to walk back covered in sand to the beach house, having refused to wash myself in the ocean because that would have called for another deep sea trek.

God only knows why I fear the ocean. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a past life creeping into my memory; perhaps I was a sailor who died at sea, or a woman who could not swim and drowned. I know when I was still in diapers, or so my mother tells me, we were at Ocean City vacationing. I played in the foaming surf, ignorant of the fact a towering wave was rushing at me until it was only a few seconds away. Baby survival instincts kicking in, I clung to the closest human being I could find, which turned out to be a poor sixteen or seventeen year old boy, who stood paralyzed in shock as to why a baby would be hugging his teenage leg.

Although the idea of swimming in the ocean gives me goosebumps, I do love the beach. Waking up early in the morning, walking barefoot along the surf is one of my all-time favorite vacations. It is so symbolic to me to watch the footsteps I just tread disappear behind me in the powerful surf that swallows them. And there is nothing that could rival the sunrise or sunset on the choppy ocean surface; the blinding sun reflecting its rays, almost as if to portray that it is too beautiful to be seen by the direct eye.

I’m hoping this summer to go back to the Outer Banks. I love how non-touristy it is. Ocracoke Island, in all of its artsy glory, is such a wonderful place to visit, minus the mosquito bites that swelled to softball size on my legs (KILLER MOSQUITOS!). While in Hatteras, I climbed the tallest lighthouse in the nation (with one or two breaks along the way; but what a view at the top!)

In my first ever blog post, I posted pictures of the trip, if you are interested.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'm a hopeless romantic, what can I say?

As any artist knows, sometimes your creative well just runs dry...and although I'm on break and my brain should be full of ideas, I have really been struggling for topics probably because I sleep my life away. But yesterday I was talking with a dear friend about the movie "Seven Pounds", which I have not seen (I'm so behind the times, it's depressing how many flicks I haven't watched yet); he got this movie confused with "21 grams" (surprisingly, another one that I have not seen, joke intended). Long story short, our conversation lead to how the body at death loses approximately 3/4 of an ounce immediately, which is 21 grams, hence the name of the movie, which is attributed to the soul leaving the body. Of course, after hearing this, I was extremely intrigued; I'm not religious in the sense of the normal use of the word, but the idea of the soul has always fascinated me.

After I got home, I did a bit of research to find that a Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts performed six experiments in 1907 on persons who had terminal illnesses such as tuberculosis and diabetes. Out of these six, only one showed significant weight loss at the time of death: .75 ounces immediately at the time of expiration. Although he replicated this experiment with fifteen canines, no weight loss occurred at the time of death.

A professor at Duke University also debated performing this experiment, but there is not enough backing financially or personally to help initiate his project.

Last night, after my friend and I discussed the 21 grams, we went to Panera to brainstorm ideas for the book I would like to write. Let me tell you, I love writing, but brainstorming is hard work. Being the coffee addict that I am, after I finished my first cup in two minutes, I went back for more (thank you Panera, for feeding my habit). After I filled my mug and I was walking back to the booth, I saw an older couple holding hands over their table in their booth, smiling and talking. And yes, as cliche as it might be, it reminded me of the phrase from Wedding Crashers that Owen Wilson uses on some chick: "True love is your soul's recognition of its counterpoint in another." (Gotta admit, had this not been used in a movie that is all about 'wam, bams, thank you ma'ams', I would have totally fallen for this, but anywaysssss...) As corny as it may sound, these people, had they been married even as late as their mid thirties, they had been married for at least 20+ years and were still very much in love (at least last night in Panera they were). I love couples like this; the kind of couples that look at each other in a room full of crowded people and only see each other.

For me, couples like that are proof that humans have souls; it's something in their eyes that is present when they look at each other, or when they speak about their significant other. The person listening, if listening intensely enough can hear their love, not through the content they are speaking, but something in the person's voice. I read a writing prompt the other day on which asked its reader, "What does it mean to you to allow another person to fully love you?"

I thought so long and hard about this question, I surely should have an answer by now. And yet, alas, I do not. Perhaps that is how it should be: true love cannot be spoken, put into words, or analyzed, at least for me it can't, but that is what makes loving someone beautiful. As a writer, you're expected to be able to take your feelings and convey them through words, just as a painter would be able to put brushes to canvas and create something that perhaps represents how he or she is feeling. Maybe one day I will know what words to string together to describe how I have felt the past four months, but I won't be disappointed if I never find the right words. Perhaps only people who hold hands over Panera Bread's booth tables know.

If you're at all interested in how much a hypothetical soul would weigh, I recommend going to this website: