Graduation Owl

Posted on: Saturday, April 30, 2011

Knit by my Nana Rose. Pitt colors and all!

Any requests for things to write about? Something you'd like to know? Proposal story? Wedding story? Kitten update? Thoughts on the Royal Wedding (do I have any?)? My reaction to Michael Scott leaving The Office? I could do a question and answer post if there are any questions...I have a few posts in the works, but nothing too exciting or complete yet.

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

A Few of my Favorite Things

Posted on: Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In no particular order and for no particular reason...

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: I was not very familiar with Jimmy Fallon before his late night talk show started, but I love the show. He's kind of like a child having fun and being silly for an hour each night. I don't mind if he can't keep a straight face, it's kind of endearing. The skits are fun, the games are ridiculous, and, as every guest comments on, he has The Roots. Also, this was really awesome. If I am ever in New York City, going to the show is on my list of things to do (along with going to Bobby Flay's restaurant. I'm a big fan with no real explanation for it).

Gomez: The Band. I actually discovered them a couple years ago when they were guests during the first week of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, performing the song Airstream Driver. I loved the song and watched the performance over and over. They're great, from Britain, and I don't know anyone who has heard of them. It is rare that I like more than a couple songs on an album, and even more rare that I find a new artist that I like enough to stick with over the years. They have a lot of different sounds, and share singing duties to help in doing so. They have a new album out in June that I'm quite excited for. Check them out!

Dinosaurs: Jurassic Park. Need I say much more? Dinosaurs appeal to the child in all of us, and JP will always be one of my favorite movies. Also Kyle and I think it would be kind of awesome to have a Jurassic Park Jeep, because we are dorks, and like Jeeps.

Postcards: People don't send much mail just for pleasure these days. Postcards are great; the sender doesn't have to write a lot, and the receiver will be glad to get a friendly note in the mail. For the last several years after returning from my year abroad, my Australian friend Claire, my German friend Nathalie and I have been sending postcards to each other. Not on any sort of regular basis, just when we find a good one and think to send it. I just sent them a great "Howdy from Texas" card with some creepy buff cowboys on it. We are particularly fond of weird and/or ugly postcards that someone might take slight offense to receiving if they weren't in on the joke that it's not actually supposed to be a pretty card. It is also fun to make postcards out of brochures, pamphlets and flyers you might find about campus. I've accumulated quite a collection, and I always keep an eye open for another gem to send out when I see a postcard rack in a store.

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Deployment Year To Do

Posted on: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I'm going to be moving back to State College in a couple weeks, and moving in to my apartment at Toftrees around the beginning of June. I was always planning on taking a year off before grad school business, I just thought I'd be spending that year getting married and moving down to Texas, finally being in the same place as Kyle, and going from there. Sigh. Shortly after our December engagement however (like a week) Kyle found out he'd be deployed in May, just as I would be finishing school and this great year was supposed to start. So those pleasant thoughts were short lived and I had a miserable few days. But anyway, I decided to spend the year in State College, as it didn't make sense for me to head down to Texas and spend more time down there than necessary (we're not huge fans of the state), and I figured I'd be more comfortable in SC instead of staying in Pittsburgh. Here's some things I'd like to do during the year.

1) Take the GRE and apply to grad school. I've only been really looking at Texas schools, because Kyle seems pretty sure he'll be stuck at Fort Hood for the remainder of his three year contract once he returns from deployment, taking us to December 2013. Kyle and I don't have any desire to stay in Texas longer than we need to, but if I get into grad school there that may be the case. I've been looking into UT Austin, Texas A&M, and Baylor; they're all relatively near to Fort Hood (closest is 1 hour 12 minutes, furthest is about 2 hours). We still may either not be able to live together, or will split the difference and both have to commute from somewhere in between. This is really frustrating for obvious reasons, but we'll see what happens. I'd like to go into something involving health education/health psychology/public policy/social work. It's hard to make these plans having to keep the uncertain, change-on-a-whim lifestyle of the military in mind. And we're just not very fond of Texas; Austin could be bearable, I think, there's a river through town and trees...

2) Learn to Run. Usually my diseased knees prevent me from pushing anything too hard, but I do enjoy working out, and running is something I haven't really been able to do but wished I could. I've got the shoes, and Toftrees will be a nice area to run about, so we'll see how it goes.

3) Get a Job. Well obviously. I'm currently in the process of looking. I'd like something to do with to what I spent studying for four years (all of this is very obvious and I feel silly writing it out), but we'll see what's available in the world of psychology in State College. At the very least I can work elsewhere and volunteer on the side to stay involved.

4) Get a cat or two. Ahead of schedule on this one!

5) Make a Reception Happen. If you'll remember my reception ideas post from before, I hadn't quite gotten back into planning mode since we got married so quickly/not in a normal way. I'm still not really there, but I think once I'm settled in at my new place it'll be easier to start visiting stores and getting samples of things and whatnot. I'd really like to set a date down soon, but I think I've told you enough times how the Army does not mix well with setting important dates (we still don't know what exact day he'll be leaving). We assume Kyle's year long deployment will bring him back sometime in May or early June, and that he'll have a decent amount of time off afterwards.

6) Go on a Trip. Most of my travel time and money for the last few years has been spent on visiting Kyle. But since he'll be in Iraq for the year, I'll be unable to visit him, freeing up some time to visit other people elsewhere! Emma will be going to school up in Boston, and my friend Allie is also from up there, good reasons for me to visit to New England. I've been all around the country (my family went on a road trip from PA to CA and back in '02), but never up in that region and I've wanted to check it out. I'd also like to visit my family up in Canada! I haven't seen them since Kyle and I went up in the summer of 2009. It's always a fun time, and my cousins are growing up fast. Kyle and I were also considering going on a honeymoon of sorts during his two weeks of R&R that he'll get sometime in deployment. We don't know when his break will be, or if we'll get any notice though, so such a trip may not be possible. I think my top choice would be New Zealand.

I guess those are the main things for now, nothing too out of the ordinary for a recent graduate I think.

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Easter Surprise

Posted on: Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kyle showed up at my door Friday evening, much to my surprise! I was a little incoherent for a couple minutes until the shock wore off. He got me to the door by gchat via his Kindle on his ride over from the airport; he asked if I checked my mail and told me he "sent me something" that should have arrived by about six. Pretty cute. I'm glad Kyle got to meet the kittens; they were hyper all weekend with a new person around, and I've got lots of extra scratches to prove it. Kyle and I didn't have much time to ourselves, but it was a really nice surprise and great to see him as always. We watched the Penguins do a terrible terrible job losing to the Lightning, and spent time with his extended family who were in town for Easter.

I do did not know anything about Easter, or God, or Jesus. Kyle does, though, so I asked him to tell me all about it. Even after a thirty minute story time plus Q&A yesterday, I had a lot of questions when we went to Presbyterian Church with his family this morning. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and the stories seem full of odd contradictions and loop holes (I guess this is where faith comes in), but it is interesting. I grew up without any religion or teaching about such things, so the going ons of Church sort of perplex and intimidate me. I'm thinking I should read the Bible and see what it's all about, for starters. I'm more familiar with gods/stories of the worlds creation in the context of epic Greek mythology; I like the Greek pantheon and tales of the Gods' battles, faults and hypocrisy, but I usually assume I'm not sitting next to someone who takes such mythology to be true, as could easily be the case when approaching the Bible. Religion is a broad, complex topic and my questions sound a bit childish, but I'm interested in how and why people pick and choose what to believe.

Happy Easter, whether to you it means celebrating the idea that "He has risen," or being the one to find the most hidden candy eggs!

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

The Last Four Years

I've spent a lot of time thinking my college experience wasn't what it was supposed to be. I'll just start with that, and here's why:

In Finland I discovered that I got along really well with people that were older than I was, by just a few years or several years. Aside from a few younger fellow exchange students, my closest friends in Finland were all at least 21 or 22 at the time, while I was barely 18 and right out of high school. Some of my best memories are of experiences and conversations with my host families. I didn't much care to go out and party (though I was of legal drinking age), I would much rather go sailing or out to the summer cottage for the weekend or chat around the dinner table in the evening. I would much rather walk the dog by myself or go nordic walking with my host mom. Upon returning to State College I felt like my normal, social and fun self, back with all my familiar friends and group dynamic (well, sort of; everyone else had been off for a year of college, having experiences and whatnot as well). I didn't really notice how different I was (from my old self, and from those around me) until I got settled in at American as a freshman. Everyone was stressed, panicked, and worried about a lot of things. They were excited to be out and about, away from home for the first time. I wanted to yell, "It'll be OK! Chill out!" but I knew this would not be a readily welcomed or helpful response. They were actual freshman, that's all, and I just wan't one of them. I had some good friends in my dorm building, but I'm pretty sure if I hadn't found AU Players I would have been quite unhappy.

My favorite thing I ever did in college was AU Players, the student theater group at American. I had the fortune of being selected to stage manage a show my first semester at American; turns out it would be the first of five productions I would manage in my two years at AU. Getting involved in such an intense and busy organization right at the start of school was the best possible thing for me (and probably for anyone, really). I found people that were more my age and that I could relate to much more; it was great getting out of the dorms for hours of long rehearsals to have fun and accomplish great things at the same time. It took me a couple shows to break in and be comfortable in the group, but by the time Titus Andronicus rolled around, I had a wonderful and talented family of actors, directors, techies and friends around me. I haven't missed much else about AU since I left.


I started at American as a business and international service double major at American University. I'm graduating as a psychology and anthropology double major at the University of Pittsburgh. Different! The story of how that happened was that one Saturday in October (or thereabouts) of my second year I was doing homework for a psych class and a cross cultural class and also reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for fun.  My mind exploded and I realized what is really interesting, important and relevant, and that was not business (at least not for me to spend my time learning about). Before gen ed requirements I hadn't even considered or been introduced to such fields of study. I was quick to realize where my true interests lay, and within a month or so I also decided I did not want to be at AU. It was a combination of things that made me want to leave the school. I had issues with terribly loud (gross, rude, idiot, mean, etc) neighbors in the dorms and had resorted to sleeping on the uncomfortable floor of a friends room, and as a result getting and staying sick for a while. The school didn't feel the need to do anything about it until my parents got involved; that's not how it should be in college. Since my living experience was so bad, everything else seemed not too great either. While before I had quite liked the campus, at that point the fact that you could get anywhere in seven minutes tops made AU feel way too small and lacking in character. I still felt out of place. I'd been to visit Kyle a few times, and Pitt seemed like what college should be. People out and about, vastly different areas of campus, shops and restaurants right down the street, a park, run down apartments, the cathedral...even the dining hall impressed me (TDR could never compare to Market). I had fun adventures whenever I went to visit Pitt, and I realize that is because I was visiting Kyle and he made sure to have some fun things planned, and when is visiting your best friend a bad thing, but still, I felt more at home at Pitt, and I dreading going back to AU after each weekend visit.

When I decided to transfer I concurrently decided two things. 1) I wasn't going to go to a completely new school with people I don't know and risk this whole thing not working again for the last two years, and 2) I wasn't going to go to Pitt. I knew Everyone would look at it as me transferring just to be with my boyfriend, and not care to look any further, so I was going to rule that out completely. The only two places I had some familiarity with were Pittsburgh and State College, though, so I was considering Penn State and Carnegie Mellon. My family reassured me that hey, it's OK if I wanted go to Pitt, so I decided to add that into the mix as well; whatever, Everyone!- think what you want. And honestly, I never have ever wanted to go to Penn State, so that was really only a backup plan (as it was the first round of applying to schools senior year). I went to visit both Pitt and CMU one snowy weekend in January (I think I was the only one leaving DC for Obama's inauguration). CMU made a bad impression (well the tour guides did; terrible people), and the campus was a bit too similarly condensed like AU. It didn't feel right. Pitt however was lovely. I made sure to go on the tour and spend some time around campus by myself. And that weekend I decided to go to Pitt.

This post is getting pretty long and probably boring, so I'll try to keep the last two years at Pitt short. Pitt has been better, but I've come to realize that it's not the school, it's just me. Academically I'm fine probably anywhere. That part of school- the part with working and going to class and learning- I'm very good at and quite enjoy. That was never the problem. The problem was with having fun, and getting to know people, and being able to relate to people outside of class. When Kyle and I had a six month overlap attending Pitt, he was the one that made sure I had fun, and at least attempted to have the kind of fun that every other student seems to enjoy (because let's face it: going to college is hardly just about going to classes). But really, going to a random party with strangers and playing beer pong is not fun for me. Beer pong is boring. Drinking just to be way too drunk is stupid. College kids are mostly really annoying, full of booze or not.

I do not party or go to bars or do many fun things as most college kids do. I've never been very good at being a "normal" college kid. I thought it was the school I was at; wrong!- it's me. I think starting college with a group of people a year younger than me really threw me off. I'm much better at being "old" than being "young," but everyone around me seemed for the most part so much younger and more at ease with the college lifestyle, so it has been hard to find a comfortable place and role for me socially at/outside of school. I feel like I was upset a lot of the time- because people were inconsiderate and keeping me awake at night, because I was never quite comfortable in my surroundings, because the one person that really understood me was always far away, because I didn't understand why I couldn't have fun with/like everybody else. I thrived as a stage manager, as a tutor, as a responsible worker, at time management and never once having to pull an all-nighter -all things the mature and older side of me was well suited for. That isn't to say that being old equals not having good times; I've had plenty of those over the last four years, and made a few great friends. I just feel I've failed at what it seems should be the easiest part of attending university: enjoying it.

Here I am come graduation, and I'm not good friends with a single senior at this school. Why go to a ceremony with a bunch of people I don't know? I do not like celebrating things that have to do with myself, but if I went I'd have only myself to celebrate for. I don't mind; the ceremony and celebration of it all is not a big deal to me. I did well in school, learned and forgot a lot of interesting things, had good experiences working in the field, maintained a wonderful long distance relationship, got married to my best friend, and now I'm figuring out what I want to do in grad school and beyond. The last four years were a success, and I guess they did turn out how they were supposed to; how could I think otherwise? They just were not the four years I thought they would be, or the four years everyone around me seemed to have.

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Trip to the Vet

Posted on: Friday, April 22, 2011

College reflection post is in the works. It might be a little depressing and sad, and probably not for reasons you'd think. You've been warned.

In the meantime, I just got back from taking Darwin and Huxley to the vet! Luckily, especially since Kyle has our car in Texas, there is a specialty Cat Clinic just a 15 minute walk away from my apartment. The walk was still a bit annoying, as it was raining and the cats were not happy and my purse kept sliding down my shoulder and maneuvering the umbrella and it was all very awkward. But the clinic is a nice place. Everyone went crazy for the kittens, both in the clinic and those during the walk that noticed them in their carrier. The only other "patients" there were 14 and 16 year old cats, so D and H got a lot of attention. Both kittens are healthy, and I was told it's normal for the female to be smaller than the male. They both have ear mites, not unusual, and the vet cleaned out their ears (it just looked like dirt) and sent us home with some Revolution to take care of it. They had their first shots, the next due in three to four weeks. I was also given some syringes full of goop to give them tomorrow and again in ten days to take care of any possible worm issues (though none were apparent).

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

What's your function?

Posted on: Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last undergrad class
On a sunny and breezy day
We went to look for some glass
A nice afternoon foray.

Christy wanted to venture out to this mysterious place called Construction Junction to look for some glass for an art project. I had nothing else to do after class and a late lunch so I joined her. It was an easy bus ride through a part of Pittsburgh where Real People live and there are nice houses. So, this place is pretty cool. It's like Goodwill meets Home Depot meets a garage sale. Inside an old warehouse of sorts there are rows and rows of things. Toilets, hardware, pianos, lumber, shelves, mantles, doorknobs, pieces of glass, chandeliers, and more. Pretty nifty if you're looking for odds and ends that may need a little fixing up, at least probably a dusting, at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

Kyle got a webcam so we can Skype now! He mostly wanted to see the kittens, or you'd think he'd have gotten one before now, but they are much cuter than I am so I can't blame him. The kittens are amused by the computer and like to sit on it and type nonsensical messages to him. 

Soon to come: a reflection on the last four years of school, and a response to an article entitled "Marriage as a Master Mind."  

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

"Headache or no headache, thus and so had to be done."

Posted on: Monday, April 18, 2011

Kittens are awesome and I love them. They slept next to me through the night; I woke up with Darwin curled up on my chest. They definitely like being close, but they didn't seem fazed by me being gone today. It seems as long as they're together they'll keep each other occupied, running around and chasing one another, or just sleeping. Darwin likes to sit on my shoulder; Huxley is a little more uneasy up there as he's a bit bigger. They are quite playful and are already pretty comfortable with their surroundings, less hesitant to jump onto and off of various landings. They are 7 weeks old today; born February 28. I'm taking them to the cat clinic on Friday; hopefully all is well.

In other news, I've been suffering from tension/migraine/mystery painful headaches for the greater part of about ten days now. Sometimes medicine works, sometimes it doesn't. Usually I have to just keep trekking through the day because nothing helps anyway. Luckily this evening the pain has largely abated. Hopefully they stop soon altogether. I've always been prone to headaches, but not this kind where the whole back of my head and neck hurt and are burning up. Unpleasant.

I'm almost done one last quick paper, I've got a couple classes this week, finishing up tutoring some students and data entry in the lab, then all that's left is a take home final due next Tuesday during Finals Week, and I'm done! I'm not as enthused as the exclamation point lets on; the semester has more dwindled down without a bang or anything particularly exciting/challenging, but hopefully I'll feel some sense of accomplishment for the last four years when it's all said and done. I think I'll get myself some wine.

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Sunday Assortment

Posted on: Sunday, April 17, 2011

I can't wait to move to my third floor (top floor) corner apartment in June. I am a very light sleeper and it is not easy for me to fall asleep, especially with people above me moving about, filling my room with clanks, thuds, and bangs at undesirable hours of the night. I get quite stressed when it comes to bedtime, and I often do not sleep in my bed to avoid becoming frustrated, or wait until all signs of sound have died down before even attempting to sleep. This means my sleep schedule is often at the mercy of those living above/around me, and they are not always forgiving. Oh well. Things should be much better at the next place (I say that every year, but this time it should actually happen).

Mom and I ate at P.F. Chang's for lunch yesterday; we'd both never been there. For dessert they had single serving cakes and pie varieties served in shot glasses. This is really the perfect size for something sweet after you've mostly filled up on your meal. Of course my immediate thought was- that would be great for reception treats/favors! Perhaps getting personalized shot glasses for the occasion, and filling them with a variety of tasty treats. I don't know how expensive or doable this would be for a larger party, and it's quite similar to the treats-in-jars concept, but it can't hurt to add another idea to the pile, being in the early stages of planning. It may be more practical for a bridal shower-type setting. Also I completely forgot until right now that bridal showers are a thing. Am I supposed to have one? Huh.

Kittens are here! They are very tiny. At first Darwin was more the explorer, while Huxley settled in on my bed pretty quickly and was purring a lot. After a nap on the bed, they were both pretty adventurous and checking out their new territory, though Huxley was a little more hesitant. They alternate between play time and nap time, both times are equally adorable. Their favorite place so far has been the couch, good for both sleeping and climbing about. We all wish Kyle was here too. 

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Creep Creep Creepin'

Posted on: Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hey Readers!
A little over a week into my blogging experience and I just wanted to say thanks for reading and for the comments/facebook likes. Blogger shows you stats about how many people are reading each post, when, what browser and system they are using, and what country they are in. So, if you feel like you're creeping reading my blog, I can creep a little bit back (but I still really don't know who you are), so don't feel bad. Keep reading! :)

Change of plans, kittens are coming tomorrow morning. Mom came to Pittsburgh for a visit, and we went and got all the cat supplies!

That Cosmic Catnip Alpine Scratcher may look ridiculous (or awesome?), but it came highly recommended. 

Happy Weekending! 

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Dating with Distance

Posted on: Friday, April 15, 2011

This coming Saturday April 16 marks three years that Kyle and I have been together. While Kyle mostly ruined this occasion for me last year, it is still a milestone worthy of note, so I suppose I should reflect on and ramble about it. 

Over the years I have received many comments and compliments on Kyle's and my largely long (sometimes shorter, sometimes average, about to get really long) distance relationship. People at work would always have stories of woe and stupidity to share regarding their significant others, and for a while I had nothing to contribute to the conversations except a sympathetic frown and maybe a hug. People always tell me they couldn't do it themselves, and I too am impressed. Well, Kyle has made sure to provide me with some good fuel for conversation in the last couple years (ahem), but what's a relationship without its little additional challenges on top of that whole big, looming challenge of hardly ever being in the same place, right? 

The elusive "they" always say that "communication is key" when it comes to just about everything. Our relationship was born out of communication, as distance pretty much dictates, though we were not always great at it. We had a bit of an awkward summer together in State College after my return from Finland, but we soon became better friends than before. I remember that summer when he came over to chat the afternoon after I'd gotten my wisdom teeth out: not optimal talking time we realized not long into the mostly one-sided conversation, but he was there. Aside from this poorly planned parley, well before we started dating, Kyle and I would talk all the time. Starting out my first year at AU while he was going on his second at Pitt, he was the person I talked to more than anyone else. Kyle always seemed to want to talk to me, and I found myself always wanting to talk to him.  He was always there, always wanted to be there for me, even when "being there" meant waiting at the Greyhound bus stop in State College for my- what a surprise- late bus to arrive from DC, only to get to see me for a couple minutes before I was hurried home (not dating at this point). Or if it meant getting fake engaged (but facebook official) to my sister as some sort of roundabout attempt to try to make me jealous (still not dating, and it only worked a little bit, and I'm not sure it has anything to do with "being there," but I wanted to remind you all- remember when that happened? good times). Or even if it meant taking a three hour drive down to DC in the car with my Dad to surprise me while picking me up from school for the summer (OK- we were dating at this point! But only for like a month). Kyle has always been there, in person when he could, on the phone or gchat when he couldn't, and in my thoughts all the rest of the time. 

While communicating about rough topics and being completely open with our thoughts and feelings were not always our strong suits, it is something we've learned through experience, and it's why we've been able to make it through all that we have and end up married on the other side! I do not hesitate to make my feelings known, though I've learned that when I'm really upset, silence from me is more terrifying to Kyle than any amount of yelling or caps lock internet shouting. It's these little gems of knowledge you discover along the way that make for a rich and effective cornucopia of ways to communicate! :)

It's been over a year since Kyle made a surprise withdrawal from Pitt with the apparent intention of joining the military. After living in the same city for six months and for the first time in our relationship, I had just gotten used to the idea that maybe our days of long distance were over. It has been by far the hardest year. I have woken up with my eyes nearly swollen shut more mornings from crying the night before than I should admit (oops), but this kind of thing really shakes up your life, especially when you're left to deal with it all from a distance. Kyle is soon to be deployed; another rough year is soon to start. I feel we are pretty well prepared; I'm certain that if there's any couple that can handle a year apart, we're that couple. We're awesome! Oh, it is going to suck- don't get me wrong. But we've acquired and built up the tools we need to handle just about anything, and we've both gotten quite good at writing letters. 

Stay tuned for the sequel to this post, Married with Miles, up sometime in the next year! 

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

"They are so cute. They are that couple you know that are really nice people and never get in fights. I love them." --Christy

Ears, Sun and Jon the Waiter

Posted on: Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today I gave a group presentation on HIV/AIDS: Cross Cultural Perspectives. My computer was slow and didn't work, but we had the powerpoint on a flash drive so the show went on, just on someone else's computer. Shout out to the people in the back row sleeping through it.

It was super sunny and warm today! All the little dots on the grass in the picture are people probably not wearing a whole lot of clothes. Truth: yesterday people were wearing winter jackets and boots in the rainy cold. Tracy, Allie, Christy and I (the Parkview crew) met up and got a free hotdog at one of those Typical College Events- the ones they have outside with music and cotton candy machines and free t-shirts and little-to-no real organization. Then we all got our ears pierced, courtesy of Nick at Hot Rod Piercing Company! My seventh ear piercing, this time the cartilage on the left side. Pictures! Guess which ear is mine...

So in conclusion, ears are pretty weird looking when taken out of context of the whole face.

On the walk back to Parkview we saw Jon the Waiter sitting on his porch, drinking a Yuengling and reading a book. Jon doesn't know who we are, but he served us the two times we went to Red Robin, so we know who he is. There have been a few Jon sightings around campus, but this was my first one, and he was right there. So I shouted his name to say hello and he was confused and we explained and they were embarrassed and he told us to come back to Red Robin and I said sorry for being creepy and they couldn't believe I did that but I told them that I really do not care what I say to random semi-strangers around here because I'm leaving quite soon anyway. Fun day!

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson


Posted on: Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We're getting two kittens this weekend! Both grey & white ones; they are brother and sister and reportedly inseparable. I am excited! I will need a couple cat sitters when it comes to moving/last trip to Texas time in May/June, but Kyle said I should go for it now anyway as those are problems that have solutions (good friends that like cute kittens). We are sad he won't get to meet or know them for a while; he requests I teach them to be hiking kitties (I didn't know there was such a thing). Here are the pictures and descriptions given for the two.

Gray And White Male: He's a chunky, cute, playful boy! He's a mix of long hair and short hair! Really neat fur! He's got so much personality, and so much love! He's so curious about everything. He likes to sit and look around. He loves to run around and play with his sister (Gray and white female.) He's eating dry food, and using the litter box!
Gray And White Female: She's a playful little girl, with all the love in the world. She loves to climb all over everything, and play with toes, and fingers! She's a big sweetheart, and will fall asleep in your lap! She loves her brother (gray and white male) She's eating dry food, and using the litter box!

If all goes according to plan, they should be here Saturday early evening. Kyle and I decided to call the girl Darwin and the boy Huxley. :)

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

One Newt Two Newt Red Newt Blue Newt

Posted on: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Last summer Kyle and I took a trip up to the finger lakes in New York. For his birthday I got us tickets to see the Barenaked Ladies up in Canandaigua, and we formed an end of the summer/ pre-leaving for basic training trip around it. We stayed in one of these Rustic Log Cabins in Hector, NY, complete with the Leidenfrost Winery on site. The winery and cabins were run by a pleasant brother/sister duo; I received a holiday card from them in the mail last winter. On a map you can find the winery further to the South on Seneca Lake, a little ways up past Watkins Glen.

It was a great little trip. The area suited us well: meandering roads lined with wineries and good food, all with grass, trees, and views of the lake in the distance. We never ended up making it down to the water, but we did go on a little wine tour one of the days. We stopped at maybe 5 or 6 places including one distillery, and didn't have to travel more than a mile, which is good because we were very eager to try what each winery had to offer. For a few dollars we could sample a couple different wines at each location. The wineries and restaurants all had memorable names: Stonecat Cafe, Hazlitt Red Cat, and Tickle Hill to name some of the places we stopped.

Our favorite place was the Red Newt Cellars. We tried three or four wines and enjoyed them all, from a peppery red to a sweet, crisp white, and a dark dessert wine accompanied by a piece of chocolate. After sampling we ate lunch at the restaurant, also delicious. Never have newts looked so cute as on their bottles and stuffed animals lounging about the store. We brought back three or four bottles alone from Red Newt, probably about eight bottles total from the various stops we made.

The concert was a lot of fun as well! We got dinner in town then made our way to the CMAC (Constellation Brands Performing Arts Center). We sat in the grass and enjoyed some tunes. 

After Kyle and I got back to State College, we wanted to share the tasty wines with our families, so we made dinner and had them over to my house to eat and sample some drinks we brought back in the backyard. Yum. 

-From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Get Married and Have Your Wedding Too

Posted on: Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm married and still planning a wedding. Well, planning the wedding reception. You still need a location, dress, flowers, food, date, music, invitations, toasts, a color scheme, hair, centerpieces, pictures, guests, booze, gift registry, cake....

I haven't really gotten back into wedding planning mode since getting married, so I'm hoping this will spark my interest again and get me going. I'm going to have to plan all this over the next year largely without the husband, so I'd better get some input from him before he leaves for his "vacation in sunny Iraq." Here are some of my ideas so far.

I had always planned on having tulips because they have been my favorite flower for a while, but in doing flower research, I've really come to love peonies. They look soft and fluffy and perfect for a wedding. My dad grows them in his epic garden, and told me they will be at their prime in June (I'm thinking of having the reception in June 2012, not October as previously penciled in). They come in a limited range of colors, reds/pinks/purple/white, and even though aside from white I wasn't planning on having those colors involved, they look so nice, so we'll see what I end up choosing.

I like the idea of brightly colored shoes peeking out from under a white dress. I tend to lean towards green. I don't want to wear heels though, because I discovered I do not enjoy being taller than I usually am next to Kyle. I'm the perfect height to fit under his arm for a hug, and I don't want to mess with that formula.

The dress. This is going to be hard for me, because it is the one thing that is really all about me, and I do not like that kind of attention. I haven't tried anything on yet, or even stepped into a bridal shop, so I don't really know what will look good on me. I want to be comfortable and able to dance around; those were Kyle's only thoughts on the matter too. There is a lot out there, and I won't really know until I try things on, but here are some with different elements I like in theory. 

I'm not going to torture them with a terrible dress. Do people even do that anymore, or just in the movies? I want them to look nice, feel comfortable, and like what they're wearing. I'm not sure of color; probably a nice bright, deep green. But I do really like the blue in this picture, and the style of the dresses all around.

Table Tops:
I like jars. Candles in jars, flowers in jars, drinking from jars. Jars. They're inexpensive and add a nice homemade touch to the table; you can do whatever you want with them and they serve many purposes. Maybe putting legos in jars for people to play with or something. Just put a lid on and guests can take home the jars of goodies as favors, too. I wish I was sipping that mojito right now.

I want a three or four tiered cake, nothing too complicated. Kyle and I both do not want a fondant covered cake, or a chocolate cake. I suppose different tiers could be different flavors to accommodate for the guests (you folks!), though. Kyle is a carrot cake fan; perhaps I'll  get him a special little grooms cake for his cake eating pleasure (act surprised dear). Maybe just white with some flowers; maybe a nice stylized "M" on the top. 

Something simple. Seems to be the key word here, huh. I'm not sure what colors or style; I've found a few that look nice and I enjoy them, but I'm not sure what will best suit our reception, especially since the season/date isn't set in stone yet. I do not want any fonts that are too loopy and italicized they are a struggle to read. Nothing too lovey-dovey. More exploration required!

A decoration of sorts somewhere up in it. That's all I know. 

Other Ideas:
- I forget who brought up this idea (Emma?): getting together with bridesmaids/helpers before the reception to bake and prepare extra special dessert items. Adds a personal touch, and some personal favorites for the guests to munch on in addition to the cake. Also fun bonding time in the kitchen!
- Guest bartenders: Volunteers can sign up for approximately thirty minute to an hour-long shifts (ahead of time) in which they will man the bar. They will be encouraged to feature a drink concoction of their own, and to have fun! Perhaps Kyle and I will take a shift too! Check out Kyle's page for all his beer insights in the meantime. 
- Pictures: I love wedding pictures. They are sweet and beautiful and happy. There are also very few pictures of Kyle and I, and even though I do not like being in front of the camera myself, I can't wait to have some great pictures of us to show off.
- Date: I never wanted a summer wedding, because I do not like the heat, so we thought we'd do it next October, my favorite month and season. But Kyle gets back from a year long deployment around May, and we'd be starting our lives together then, so I feel it makes more sense to have the real celebration of just that at the more appropriate time, 'round about June. We'll see. It's hard to pin down a date without knowing what the Army has planned for Kyle. 
- Location: Not the banquet room at the Ramada. We want something a little more rustic and outdoorsy, brick and wood, to better suit our tastes and personalities, and our desire for it to not look like we're headed to a complementary continental breakfast. I like the Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster. 

Overall: Simple, sweet, fun, pretty, party. Good times for all, relaxed, no headaches allowed. We're already married, so nothing can go too wrong, right?
I'll keep you updated as I begin to move from internet searches and frequenting The Knot to trying on gowns and tasting cakes. 

- From the desk of Sarah McPherson

Baby Apollo and the Pittsburgh Penguins

Posted on: Sunday, April 10, 2011

Apollo is what we're going to name our first son. Not that there is a son in the works, nor will there be for at least a few years, but we've got the name ready. Kyle likes the middle name "Danger," but don't worry, I shut that idea down pretty quickly.

Last night Kyle and I were talking about the things we want to do in the next 4 or 5 years before babies. Places we want to go, adventures we want to take, etc. As much as I like to think about the future and plan things, this is not something I've much thought about, because there are more immediate plans left to be made (work, school, life), and it is very hard to plan much in advance with the military always threatening to swoop in and forcibly change them for us. But, as Kyle pointed out, it is still good to have some rough ideas of what we would like to do if the opportunity is there. I know for sure that I would like to go back to Finland and show Kyle around. Even before we were dating I always thought Kyle would really like Finland and wanted him to be there with me. Trees, lakes, boats, saunas, sausage, beer, relaxing and adventuring in the outdoors; all good things. Another thing I want to do is kayak. All the time. I went once a few years ago with some friends, and I've hardly done it again since, but it is something I would do every day if I could.

Today it was in the 70s and sunny, a real Pittsburgh rarity, and everyone was out and about taking advantage. I had work and meetings through the afternoon, but I got to sit out on the porch at my friends house for a while afterwards. Last year all through spring we would do work or not do work in the sun at Schenley Plaza and when the sun started to go down we'd retreat to someones house to watch the Pens play.

Today was also the last game for the Penguins before playoffs begin. They won 5-2, though the outcome of the game didn't matter much. Wait, Sarah is writing about a sports team?
Since moving to Pittsburgh, Kyle has made sure to impart as much knowledge as he can and I can retain about Pittsburgh sports- at least the important ones, the Steelers and the Penguins, and our school football team, the Panthers (we have a mutual dislike for baseball, and the Pirates are terrible, so it works out well).You'd think after four years in marching band I'd know how football works, but I didn't. Kyle taught me, I asked questions, and I have a comfortable respect and appreciation for the Steelers. But what nobody could have predicted was how much I have come to truly love the Pittsburgh Penguins. I love them. I love the sport. It is quick and always moving and there are fights. It doesn't hurt that Pens captain Sydney Crosby also led Team Canada to a gold medal victory at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics (the Olympics and Canada are also two things I love).  In the last year and few months I've gotten to know the Penguins team by watching them play, and being good friends with a few fans has helped in learning who is who, what teams to hate, and the rules of the game. We went to a Penguins vs. Flyers game in the fall, and got to see some of the players practicing up close after a failed blood donation attempt at the Consol Energy Center. The Penguins have had a rough year, with several injuries taking star players out of the lineup. But the thing about the Penguins is that even so, they have been successful. Other players have stepped up, showing how much of a collectively strong team they are, and just how much talent they possess. Sure they make you worry, yell, and wish Fleury would just stay in the damn goal, but they are wonderful, and I hope they do well in the playoffs.

Go Pens!

-From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

The Transportation Review

Posted on: Saturday, April 9, 2011

As I have mentioned, Kyle and I have a proclivity for not living at all close to one another. The solution is usually for me to hop on a bus, car, plane, metro, walk, or any combination thereof, and three to twelve hours later, I get to see him. I used to kind of enjoy the en route part of a trip, but years of experience leave me wishing they would just come up with a teleportation device already.

1. Greyhound Bus: What is Wrong With You?
A lot is wrong with you. Too much is wrong with you. Greyhound was my first real experience with public transportation outside of Europe (where I rode the city bus all the time). I used "the hound" to get home for holidays, and visiting Kyle. Basically, and especially since Megabus has come around, Greyhound is not worth the price of the ticket, at the lowest $30 one way from Pittsburgh to DC. Greyhound stops are always creepy, at least in DC, Pittsburgh and a little bit Harrisburg. The first time I came to visit Kyle was before the new station was built; the old one was down at the bottom of some muddy hill, near the prison, far from lights and the feeling of safety. The new one is still creepy, believe me, because it's really the people that make it that way. People on the Greyhound are always creepy, sometimes smelly, and occasionally sit behind me and proceed to hit on me for the entire 6 hour bus ride. He gave me his number and told me to call if I was ever in Baltimore; I assured him that Baltimore was the very place I would exactly never be. The drivers are usually alright. They are sometimes on time, other times quite late. Greyhound doesn't always have enough buses ready to seat all the tickets they've sold, so you might end up waiting in Harrisburg for an extra couple hours, wishing you were anywhere but. Greyhound makes a few stops at smaller towns in between bigger cities, which I'm sure is convenient for those smaller town residents, but for those trying to get from one city to another, it makes the trip 2 to 3 hours longer than necessary. If you can, stay away from Greyhound.

2. Megabus: How Do They Do It
Ah, Megabus. I found out about you sometime early last year, and since then I've never looked back. You are quite glorious compared to Greyhound. Your prices start at $1, so you advertise. While I haven't paid quite that little for a ride, I have had tickets for a bus between State College and Pittsburgh cost $3, $8, or $15 at most. What is amazing is how at such low low prices, the quality is so much higher than Greyhound. Normal, not creepy people use Megabus; some are downright pleasant. Megabus is clean and well lit with a jolly round man painted on the back smiling at you. There are outlets and internet available on board, though usually I just stare out the window as my motion sickness precludes me from doing much else. I've never had a Megabus leave more than 20 minutes late, and even then, they always manage to arrive at the scheduled time. Megabus does not stop at little towns, instead providing an express route between once city to another. They seem to be adding new routes fairly frequently, so I think people are catching on to how great it is. Use Megabus for all your city-to-city busing needs.

3. Metro: It's OK
It's been a while since I've been on the DC metro. Generally I think metro is nifty for getting around a city, aside from it making me feel quite sick by the end of a longer ride. There are sometimes delays and things break down, not infrequently, and it can get rather crowded. But once you're on the ride is usually quick. The person listing the stations as they arrive over the loudspeaker (for your convenience) is never comprehensible, so make sure you know when your stop is coming up or else you'll miss the stop for the National Zoo completely and have to double back around. One trip usually came out to about $2 if I'm remembering correctly; I think we should have gotten student passes from AU, because how else are we supposed to get anywhere away from the secluded campus in DC, but oh well. Not my biggest bone to pick with AU. If you get a Smartrip card you don't have to stop at the machine to pay for a ticket each time you want to ride, and can instead just swipe your card and go, like a real metro riding pro. You're alright, DC metro.

4. Airplanes: You Never Know What You're Gonna Get
Before flying to Missouri for Kyle's graduation from Fort Leonard Wood this past December, I hadn't flown anywhere since my infamous return from Finland in  the summer of 07 (tears, confusion, freaking out- if you were there, you remember). Since flying to Missouri, I have spent time in the following airports: Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston, Memphis, Austin, Killeen, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and an unexpected overnight airport stay in Chicago. Phew. The Pittsburgh airport is certainly my favorite: is is very easy to navigate, and they have a T-rex inside; hard to beat in my opinion. Planes are quick, once they get up in the air. They are frequently subject to delays, especially when traveling in winter. I have had more than one flight rescheduled, but ultimately my experience hasn't been That Bad. People are usually quiet on the plane, and if your trip isn't too long, a carry on bag (mine is usually tagged and put under upon boarding anyway), is a good way to avoid luggage charges and waiting at baggage claim. I usually book with Expedia, for convenience and lack of knowledge on any other way to do it. I've had to cancel a flight and rebook because there were no available flights at a later time on the same airline, but at least the first ticket didn't go entirely to waste- I was able to use it to cover most of the cost of another flight on my latest trip. I usually end up flying with Delta; I have formed no preference for one airline over another, though I would suggest you avoid Southwest for a while. Spending the night at an empty airport is not ideal, with only the soft whir of the floor buffing machines for company, but I'd choose that over spending the night at a Greyhound stop any day. Or any night.

5. City Bus: Ready, Set, Wait
The only times I wish I had a car in college is when I'm stuck waiting for a Pittsburgh city bus (also when I need to get groceries, but that too involves a bus). The bus is rarely on schedule; it does what it wants and what it wants is for you to wait. I prefer to walk between my apartment and campus, but I take the bus at night to avoid unwanted run ins with the Pittsburgh Crazies (there are plenty of crazies on the bus, but at least there are also normal people just trying to get home like me, so there is always someone with which to share an understanding and sympathetic glance). On long bus rides, usually between Oakland and the Waterfront (where the cool kids go for shopping, movies, and restaurants), I walk off feeling very ill from the motion and being jerked around by quick stops and turns, and the usual early evening travel rush. Even so, waiting for a bus is usually worse than the ride itself, especially with Pittsburgh weather being what it is. The nice thing is that our student ID doubles as a bus pass (and gets us into museums fo free!); so there is no direct out of pocket cost for us; it comes out of our tuition, but it's nice not to have to be continually loading money on a card or fiddling with coins. I've been proposed to by a strange man who claimed I was his "best girlfriend" ("How about we get married Thursday?" Sorry, I have to work Thursday. "Ok, how about Friday then?"), nearly witnessed an unhappy rider stab the driver, seen drivers leap off the bus to get in yelling matches with  people parked in no parking zones (drama!), and there was that one time we had to call the police on a guy for very rudely harassing us while waiting at a stop. Always eventful, not very fun, but convenient enough while I've needed it: Pittsburgh public transportation.

6. Car: You Can Go Your Own Way
Kyle and I have recently acquired an '08 Honda civic from my dear parents. We then proceeded to drive it down to Texas in under two days. I will be making a similar return journey in May. A car gives you the freedom to come and go as you please, and haul as much stuff as you can fit. For me, having this freedom is truly wonderful, when with any other mode of transportation, you have no control over the situation. You can't control what other drivers do, however, which leads to frustration when turn signals are not used and basic rules of the road are not heeded. You can't doze off or nap as you can when someone else is behind the wheel, but I can never sleep on trips anyway. Gas prices are certainly less than ideal, but what are you going to do. Having a car has not been a necessity for my four college years; most of the time it would be inconvenient with parking fees and worrying about the mirrors getting whacked off by the drunks stumbling about. It is easier to walk or rely on the bus in the city. I will be glad to have a car when I return back to State College, where things are more spread out than in a condensed city atmosphere.

Overall, you never quite know what sort of experience you will have when it comes to travel, regardless of the distance or final destination. Pack light and hope that the people around you are not too crazy, but just crazy enough to make for some interesting people watching when your flight/bus is inevitably delayed.

-From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

3, 2, 1...

Well good, the world didn't end. The government shutting down is a very weird concept and also a terrible idea. I'm glad it didn't happen (for now), but there is obviously a lot wrong if it came down to this. I have a post planned for the future about money being thrown down the drain when it comes to health education programs, as well as prevention/treatment. I'm not "into" politics, but some things, it is very clear to see, just don't make sense.

Right about this time three years ago was my first visit to Kyle in Pittsburgh. It was kind of an eye opening experience to see what college life was like on and around a campus where you couldn't get absolutely Everywhere in seven minutes tops, as is the case with AU. Two years ago I was once again visiting, this time to show my parents and brother around after having decided to transfer to Pitt. One year ago Kyle was visiting for our anniversary, but had withdrawn from school and returned to State College for a few weeks already. This April is an anticlimactic end to the school year, and my undergraduate career. Pittsburgh has failed to have more than one nice, seasonally appropriate day at a time, and instead resorts to its go-to forecast of choice: grey, rainy, and generally unpleasant.
I do not plan to go to any graduation events or festivities, or to celebrate much at all. I look forward to moving and to getting back to visit Kyle one last time before he deploys in May. His deployment is really just now starting to hit me, as everything is about to change, and nothing will be as it was, deployment aside. We're married but we can't start our lives together. I'm graduating and free from my ties to this school but we still can't be together. Such is life as I've accepted it. Turns out acceptance doesn't make it much easier at the end of the day.

What does make it a little easier is my plan to get a cat after I return to State College! If I'm honest, this plan is more of a latest obsession, and I really can't wait to have some company and a creature to care for. I love our family cat back at home. I was there when she was born back at a friend's house in California in '98. She is sassy and getting older and a bit grumpy; she's the best. She does not, however, care much for any other living creature as she makes evident by either killing and eating the head of said creature if it is smaller than she is, or hissing and screaming at it wildly in cat language if it is roughly her size. She pretends that she is only using us for treats and letting her in and out of the house, but I suspect she has a soft spot for us as well.

That transportation review will be coming, I promise.

- From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

From the desk of Mrs. Sarah McPherson

Posted on: Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reasons to Start This: 

I used to write. Now I only really write to Kyle as Army limitations require, and occasionally for school (even then, I hardly write; you'd think there'd be more writing for anthropology and psychology). I like writing. All kinds of writing: songs, raps, poems, essays, research papers, short stories, greeting cards. If you're lucky, in the past you may have received or been witness to a creative work of mine. I feel a lot of my creativity has left me; I hope to rediscover some creative leftovers somewhere in my brain. 

I used to be fun. Now I am not fun. I mean "now" as in "the last three or four years." I have changed a lot since a lot of people really knew me, this is just one of the ways. I think it is weird to somehow have changed so much so rapidly, but Kyle reassures me by telling me that he fell in love with me as I am now, not as I was back in high school when we first became good friends. Sometimes he says the right things. :) I don't think a blog will make me more fun (that idea makes me laugh), but I think it will be a good place to write about changes and to reintroduce myself to people I used to know, who I feel expect me to be as I was years ago. 

I spend most of my time alone. I see friends once or twice a week, sometimes less.  Another big change from four or five years ago. I'm quite good at being alone, and I don't mind it most of the time. Good thing too, with a husband in the military, right?  But anyway, maybe this will be a good way for people to know What Is Up. 

Kyle is the best and brightest part of my life. I don't think many people know or understand us as a couple, as evidenced by the confused inquiries as to why we got married so quickly and assumptions that I might be pregnant (rude and not at all the case). It sort of makes me mad, but mostly I understand: how are other people to know us as a couple, when we're hardly ever in the same place as a couple. We've been together three years now, and lived in the same place for only about seven months of that time. Somehow we managed to remain close while living in different countries, turn our high school friendship into something more, start dating in different states, continue dating in different states, date some more in the same state (woohoo!), date in the Army, get engaged, and get married. I hope to let you in a bit on the ins and outs of our relationship, so that you understand us a little better, and so I can show off how spectacular we are. 

My life isn't entirely boring, somehow. I'm finishing undergrad, recently married, joined the military by said marriage, moving again, wedding reception planning, spending a lot of time in airports, planning what is to come next, etc. My life is entirely crazy, actually. Most of the crazy is courtesy of the Army (thanks babe!), but I'm learning how to work with the surprises, frustration, and uncertainty that is life in the military.

I get the name "From the Desk" from the notepads my Parkview friends (as I collectively call them) had printed for Kyle and I after getting married. It was the first thing I received with my new name on it. The design/color scheme of the blog will be a work in progress, but I wanted to get the writing started.

I want to write about me, people around me, my new forming family (not a baby! Though we did want to use this for April Fools last week, but I guess we chickened out.), thoughts on things, happenings, movies, weather, news, psychology, travels, the stupidity of things, and whatever else I feel like. For example, I plan to do a review of various modes of transportation, as I have spent the last 3 years becoming very familiar with how to get from one place to another. It'll be a real thriller, so stay tuned!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

from the desk All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger