Monday, October 25, 2010

Sabbatical: Day 1

What to do with myself...

It's 8:15 and I'm in Wausau enjoying a cup of coffee and Good Morning America.  I have a novel to write next month, a guitar that needs new strings and some TLC, photos to take, an alarm clock to unplug and pack away for a few months, poetry to write, songs to write, podcasts to create, and books to read.

Note to Self: This all doesn't have to be done today. 

So, I'm going to go visit the grandparents before heading back to La Crosse.  Maybe I'll stay in Wausau until tomorrow?!  It's kind of like summer all over again, only better.

I am thinking that I may have found the cure for senioritis.  This could be a huge breakthrough.  I should maybe schedule some interviews today with NPR, CNN, and MSNBC.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More than just a Mental Sabbatical

First of all. . .

Someone told me today, a complete stranger actually, that I should always go with my gut instinct and not take advice.  It was like this woman looked at me and knew I've been bounced around like a tennis ball in a tournament from, "You should finish your last year of school!  You're so close..." to "You'll regret not going back...".

Well, my gut instinct told me to take this semester off to regroup, focus on my health and overall well being, and just breathe for a while.  Instead of relying on my instincts, I did the typical Melissa and tried to make everyone else happy.  Unfortunately, seven weeks later, I'm failing three out of four classes and I'm in the midst of a repeat of my junior and senior year of high school.  Luckily, they don't send you to court for truancy when you're in college.  Unfortunately, there's a whole other mess of crap to deal with that makes truancy court look like a picnic.

I'll finish my degree.  It may not be next year and it may not even be at Viterbo, but I am going to finish.  Right now, I need me-time.  And family time.  I need to relearn how to enjoy these hobbies I have instead of feeling guilty about enjoying them when I should be doing other things.  I want the callouses back on my fingers from playing the guitar too much.  I want to read books that didn't cost me $300 and don't put me to sleep.  I want to like myself again and re-declare myself "Happily Ever Average."

I played a gig tonight at an event titled "Awesome Women."  I went into it feeling like I didn't belong there.  My songs aren't awesome.  My guitar skills aren't awesome.  Neither is my voice.  My life isn't in an "awesome" place right now.

There was a pile of name tags that had a word or phrase written on it.  You had to pick out a name tag and write your name on it.  I didn't know we had to find one that fit, so I just grabbed one on the top and the phrase on mine was Infinite Possibilities.  We eventually had to go around the room and explain why we picked the one we did.  After thinking about it, I decided this fit me perfectly right now.  I announced to the group that I became a college dropout and now see infinite possibilities for the next few months... or maybe even the next year!

Instead of dwelling on the money I'm wasting, the time I'm losing, and the disappointment - I need to focus on the potential of what this leave has to offer me.  There's songwriting, guitar playing, running and fitness, relaxing, and spending time with my family.  I can take the time to get my photography business up and running.

What I do know is that I feel like part of this weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  This is good, right?

Don't answer that.  I know it's good because I trust my gut.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Q&A Session with a Senioritis Sufferer

Q: Are you going to pass all of your classes this semester?
Melissa: Well, let's put it this way: I have made peace with the thought of not graduating in May of 2011.

Q: Is this just senioritis, or is there something more going on?
Melissa: Can you repeat the question?

Q: Is this just senioritis, or is there something more going on?
Melissa: Um... can you rephrase the question?

Q: Is there something more than just senioritis going on?
Melissa: I still don't get it.

Q: Are you on drugs? Are you depressed? Are you eating? Are you sleeping? Are you sick?
Melissa: I have senioritis.  Of course I'm sleeping.  Of course I'm sick... sick of school. 

Q: Are you on drugs?
Melissa: Caffeine is a drug.  I'm addicted.  I consume it everyday in large doses.

Q: What's your favorite class this semester?
Melissa: Are you asking which class I hate the least?  If I didn't have to write news articles, I'd probably like my news reporting class a little.

Q: Have you given any thought to post-graduation?
Melissa: Yes.  I'm planning a graduation party.

Q: What about grad school?
Melissa: I have enough credits to be a doctor.  I don't think I need grad school.

Q: This is week 6 of school.  How many hours do you think you've spent doing homework this semester so far?
Melissa: 3... maybe 4?!

Q: Do you consider yourself an underachiever?
Melissa: I consider myself a burnt out overachiever.

Q: What should you be doing right now?
Melissa: Completing my lab notebook, buying the textbooks I still haven't purchased, editing photos, finishing up the draft of my news article, eating lunch, or working on my independent study proposal.  Cleaning would also be a great option.

Q: And what are you doing?
Melissa: Blogging.

Q: Is that a good use of your time?
Melissa: Bite me.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fan Mail

Dear Seventh Year Senior,
Do you prefer the toilet paper over or under?
-Curious in Kentucky

Dear Curious in Kentucky,

Definitely under.


Dear Melissa,
What is your favorite day of the week and why?
  Boston, MA

Dear Lynn,

My favorite day of the week is Sunderday.  It's the only day of the week that exists for senioritis sufferers.  Sunderday is a combination of Saturday and Sunday.  This may require a post all itself. 


Dear Melissa,
What do you want for Christmas?

Dear Santa,

I want more long-sleeved black shirts.  My supply is getting low because I don't do laundry on Sunderdays. 

That is all.


Dear Seventh Year Senior,
Any advice for graduating high school seniors?

Yes.  I have advice for graduating high school seniors.

  1. Go to college!
  2. Apply for scholarships.  Apply for LOTS of scholarships.  
  3. Don't go nuts with the credit cards.  Keep one for emergencies.  A pizza, a new wardrobe, and spring break in Cancun are not emergencies.
  4. Don't text in class.  
  5. Call home.   And NOT just when you need money.
  6. Under no circumstance should you ever get drunk with your professor(s).  
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities offered to you.  Study abroad.  Participate in campus activities and events.  
  9. Even though the cash may be tempting, some of your textbooks are valuable and you may want to consider keeping them for your reference library.
  10. Don't wait until your third senior year to discover the library on campus.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

101 Things to Smile About

A little exercise to help the senioritis!!!  This is my list of 101 things to smile about!  I challenge you to make your own.

1. Barnes & Noble has free wi-fi and they don't care how long you sit there and use it.
2. iTunes free download every Tuesday!!
3. Free pizza buffet at Pizza Doctors on your birthday.
4. Java Detour's lid stickers they put on their hot beverages!
5. Volunteering for hospice.
6. My guitar has new strings.
7. Cotton Candy Ice Cream
8. Raspberry Mochas
9. Sunday afternoons
10. Watching Andy Griffith reruns with Grandpa.
11. "I'm gonna marry Aunt Kiki." - Nolan (age 3)
12. Thanksgiving.
13. Flintstone Vitamins!
14. Spell check.
15. Diet Coke
16. Warm blankets!
17. The changing of the leaves in fall.
18. Babies.
19. Clean laundry.
20. Washing dishes.
21. Christmas
22. The first snowfall.
23. The last snowfall.
24. Spring break.
25. Free movie rentals on your birthday at Family Video
26. Death by Chocolate at 2510
27. A long walk.
28. Karen in Franny's!!!
29. A text just to say "Hi"
30. Snail Mail that doesn't have a bill inside of it.
31. New hobbies!
32. Olive Garden's salad & bread sticks!
33. Vitamin D in the form of Sunshine.
34. Electricity
35. A valid passport!
36. Halloween candy
37. Peanut Butter!!!
38. Lori McKenna's new album is coming out in November!
39. Travis Tritt's "It's a Great Day to Be Alive"
40. Ping Pong
41. Kieffer Sutherland! :-)
42. Haircuts
43. Car rides!
44. Hot showers!
45. YouTube
46. Talking to Mom on the phone about nothing in particular.
47. Free books to borrow at the Public Library!!!
48. eBay!
49. Hula Hoops!
50. Finding someone on Facebook you haven't seen in ages!!!!
51. The snooze button!!
52. Ellen
53. Hayrides
54. Sleigh rides
55. Bike rides
56. Rainbows
57. Wikipedia
58. Slumber parties with the niece and nephews!!
59. Fortune cookies!!
60. Junk mail folders to collect all the spam! :-)
61. Super Bowl commercials!
62. Fog machines!!
63. Aunt Kathy & Shannon's mittens!
64. Jodi Picoult books on rainy days!
65. Harry Potter 7 in theaters NEXT MONTH!
66. iTunes playlists!!
67. Summer vacation!
68. Blackberry picking!
69. Brand new notebooks!
70. Finding a good, high quality ball point pen!
71. Candles
72. Pawn America
73. Homemade strawberry jam!!
74. Craft Weekend in Three Lakes!!!!
75. Photography!
76. Orange juice!!
77. Balloons!!
78. Adam Sandler's "Lunch Lady Land"
79. Rock candy!
80. Ferris wheels!
81. E-mail!
82. Clearance racks!
83. Home videos!
84. Cutting your own Christmas tree
85. Board Games
86. Wausau Festival of Arts
87. Chick Flicks!
88. Caramel Apple Cider
89. Sunscreen
90. Farmer's Markets!
91. Target's $1 bins!
92. Finding lost dogs!
93. M&Ms
94. Live Music!
95. Handmade gifts!
96. Writing!!!!!!!!!!!!
97. Sharpies!
98. Old photographs and family photo albums!
99. Going Home!
100. Long weekends
101. 73 days until Finals are DONE!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fan Mail

What are your best excuses for not being in class?
-Bruce from Alabama 

Hi Bruce,
I'm to the point where I don't need to tell the professors anything.  They know how serious my senioritis is and that I need plenty of play time to ease the symptoms.  Back in the day, these were some of my favorite excuses:
  • Bloody nose  (actually, I was always getting bloody noses, so this one wasn't really a lie)
  • The typical illnesses 
    • Pink Eye
    • Strep
    • Ebola 
  • Ingrown toenail 
  • The Typical Mechanical Problems
    • Flat Tire
    • Out of Gas
    • Faulty Transmission 
    • Fell off the mechanical bull and have a concussion 
  • The REALLY Creative Excuses
    • "I got this phone call saying that my aunt died and was on the phone for a half hour sobbing before I realized it was it was the exterminator with the Chinese accent calling to tell me that all of the ants were dead."
    • "I was praying." 
    • "I went to donate blood and it took longer than I thought."  (How can they hold it against you?  You were saving a life!)
    • "I woke up with diarrhea of the mouth and decided it was best I stay away from a lecture hall."
    • Temporary agoraphobia 
The best thing to do is be creative when creating your excuses.  Here is my list of overused excuses that you should avoid:
  • "I was sick."  - You and everyone else.  If you're going to use it - you must elaborate.  Professors really do want to know all about your ailments - no matter how gross and disgusting they may be.
  • "I overslept."  - Seriously?  That is the lamest one in the book!  
  • "I was hungover."  - Don't use this one.  You'll get no sympathy because you didn't ask your professor to party with you.
I hope this helps you out, Bruce!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Not One of My More Brilliant Ideas...

So, I thought giving up caffeine cold turkey would give me a pounding headache with enough force to knock me out of the semester.  I made it fourteen hours without caffeine before the headache began.  (Note: Nine of those hours I was sleeping.)  At that point, I decided I could kick this little addiction right to the curb.  

And then I was notified I had to take one of the participants to church after I had already arrived to work in my favorite sweatshirt...  (See Attached Photo for a Reminder)

Of course, I wore a pair of baggy black athletic (but certainly not used for athletic purposes) pants and sneakers.  Perfect.  A Catholic mass, none the less.  The headache went from bad, to worse, to "I'M STEALING MONEY FROM THE OFFERING PLATE TO RUN AND GET A COFFEE!!!"

But I made it all the way until 11:30 before I finally had a soda.  The headache improved, but never went away completely.  When I arrived home an hour ago, the headache was back, but not full force.  What can I say?  I'm a wimp.  I caved.  I cracked another can of Coke Zero and now, 5:52 PM, I'm in bed.  With my laptop and some homework.

Well, okay... the homework is actually in my backpack.  It's been in there all weekend.  It's not actually within reach of the bed right now, either.  I think that maybe if it sits in my backpack long enough, it will get so bored that it will actually do itself.

Basically the point of this post is to not go from consuming between 105 - 170 mg/caffeine each day to none at all.  That's just a bad idea.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Confessions of a Caffeine Addict

(Image taken from

I started my day with a multi-vitamin, a bowl of dry Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and a Coke Zero.  By 11:00 I had the shakes.  I'm pretty sure it was the vitamin.  Definitely need to cut back on the vitamins. 

At 2:30 I cracked... another can of diet Coke and swore it was my last one of the day.  

Until 8:30 when I plugged in Harry and the Henderson's and realized I don't have any popcorn.  But, I do have soda, so I opened another.  

Although I have never tried a diet Coke bong, I must say I am slightly curious.  It's not just soda, though.  I love my coffee.  Probably not in a bong, though.  

Caffeine is no longer a guilty pleasure - it's a necessity.  If enough hours go by between doses, it can easily become a frantic dash to the nearest vending machine, coffee shop, or Kwik Trip.  If a day goes by, I'm not functional.  The yawning becomes uncontrollable and the headache has the potential to blow my brain apart.  But... now that I think of it... a blown-up brain would be a good excuse not to go to school.

I'm going to quit caffeine cold turkey tomorrow.

Or, not.

I'll keep you posted on this.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Senioritis Goes to the Torchlight Parade

Melissa should have stayed home tonight.  Instead, she ventured over to the north side of town for the Torchlight Parade.  If you aren't familiar with this parade, it is part of Octoberfest and it starts when it's dark.  Basically, it's an epileptic's worst nightmare.  And a senioritis sufferer's excuse not to do homework.  (Like an excuse is needed, though...)

Do you ever notice that when people gather in extremely large crowds, the stupid ones always stand out?  I have over 230 college credits and six years of college under my belt.  Trust me.  I can pick out stupid people.  Add alcohol to the idiots and you have a disaster waiting to happen.  Something to look forward to reading in tomorrow's Tribune, I guess.

So, in an attempt to meet up with some friends, I ended up driving through the herds of cooler-toting families, texting teenagers, and the elderly.  Oh yes, the elderly.  My favorite was the soccer mom in the mini-van that stopped for an imaginary stop sign and held up traffic.

I finally found a parking spot about 7 or 8 blocks from where I was meeting my friends.  Ever try walking through crowds of kids, adults, adults with beer in their hands, adults with dogs, and vendors selling glow sticks?  One block in and my polite "excuse me" turned into a borderline-barking "MOVE IT!"

People just stand in their huddles, looking around at all the glowing things as if they are in la-la land.  I could have just moved to the street and walked the parade route, but really?  I wasn't in the mood to be out parading in front of the city of La Crosse.  Mostly because I wasn't entirely sure I could keep my mouth shut and not verbally bash the morons who obviously got better parking than me.

By the sixth block I realized that either big crowds are not my thing, or I need to double the meds.  Again.

When I finally met up with my peeps, I felt more relaxed and was ready for another great Torchlight parade.  Unfortunately, some people just don't know proper parade etiquette.  So, for all of you who were born yesterday, or just happen to act like it, here's a Top Ten List just for you.

Top Ten Ways to Piss off the People at a Parade:

10.  Ask this lady about my camera's flash!!!

9.  (Refer to # 10) Ask me if I care.

8.  Let your kid bop everyone with their brand new inflatable shark and not say anything.  Heaven forbid we discipline our kids in public.

7. (Refer to #9) When another  mom tells your brat to stop hitting her infant with the inflatable shark, give her the "how dare you yell at my child" look.

6.  Don't stand when the flags go by.

5.  Three words: Brats and Kraut

4. Shoot off loud obnoxious fireworks that only make noise and have to aesthetic value whatsoever. 

3.  Three More Words:  Christmas in September!

2.  Walk in groups in front of the crowd and block their view of the parade.

And the number one way to piss off people at a parade...

1.  (Refer to #2) While walking in front of the crowd as the parade is going on, get hit by a float and halt the parade, making everyone down the route think it's over.