Monthly Archives: September 2011

Flashback Friday

I thought I’d take a break from the football-related Flashback Friday posts this week (but we still better beat Purdue tomorrow–Go Irish! Beat Boilers!).

But I’m actually not going to stray too far from the world of athletics.  This was a big week back on campus, as the Notre Dame hockey team took the ice in the brand-new, state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar Compton Family Ice Arena for the first time.

Now, as a proud member of the Notre Dame Figure Skating team, my allegiance still lies with them, rather than the hockey team (Sorry…it’s a natural rivalry.).  But I still wanted to post this video, because the new arena looks awesome.

It’s so awesome, in fact, that Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist Brian Boitano is coming to South Bend to present the Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular.  And the event will feature two of my personal favorite performers:

Ryan Bradley, 2011 U.S. Men's Figure Skating Champion

AND

These beauties, the University of Notre Dame Synchronized Skating Team!

sjkhghurht

Oops, sorry about that, I couldn’t type because I was seeing red, with jealousy, that my fabulous former team gets to skate with Brian Boitano!  I continue to wonder why I didn’t just flunk all my classes and stay at ND for another year…but I’m crossing my fingers that their performance makes it into the TV broadcast that will air in December!

But all jealousy and rivalries aside, the new Compton Family Ice Arena is a great facility, for both hockey and figure skating, for both Notre Dame and the surrounding community.  Great news from ND for all ice-related sports and events.

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Some Optimism

A great article from CNN about recent college grads staying optimistic in the face of unemployment.

Apparently it’s a generational thing.  A professor of public policy quoted in the article called us more prepared and harder working than previous generations, saying, “They’re more grinders than slackers.”

Reporter Rachel Witte confronted the unemployment problem head on, but still managed to make the tone of the article hopeful.  It was realistic, yet optimistic.  Definitely worth checking out!

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Writing Class Update

Tonight is my second novel writing class, so I thought I’d give you a little update.

The first class was absolutely fabulous!  It started out well when I found my way to the classroom building without getting lost.  And then an hour and 15 minutes devoted to writing exercises that help you develop a character.  Heavenly.  I enjoyed it so much, it felt like 5 minutes, not 75.

The beginning was a little nerve-wracking, though, because most of my classmates said that they had already developed plots for their novels, and we jumped right into character exercises.

“Pick one of your characters, and write the answers to the questions I ask you, as if you were your character.  It’s a way to get inside their head and really understand their motivations.” (says instructor).

“Oh, no…” (thinks Maura).  “I have no characters.  I have no plot!  I thought we’d ease into this stuff!”

After my momentary panic attack, I settled down, and actually created a character on the fly, in those 75 minutes.  You’ll have to wait for the final product to learn more about her, because I don’t want to give anything away–it’s a mystery novel, you see.

But there I was, outside my box and kind of freaking out, but I pushed through and tried my best.  And found out that it’s not so bad outside my box.  I actually really enjoyed it there.

Mind you, I have yet to share anything about this character with my classmates, or read passages aloud during class, so I haven’t crossed the biggest hurdles yet.  But I’m liking my progress.

I saw this quote on Twitter yesterday, and it inspired me, as I head back for my second class tonight:

“If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.” ~David Viscott

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Some more reflections

Except not my own this time.  So far in this blog, I have loved sharing my friends’ perspectives, through links to their awesome blogs, or their guest posts.  Partially because I know I don’t have all the answers, and partially because I think they can be so darn insightful, and their thoughts deserve to be shared with the world (or at least the 7 people who subscribe to this blog…Thanks, Mom!).

So today I’m sharing a post from my college roommate’s blog about her year of post-grad service.  She offers some thoughts on this whole “real life” thing, and why it’s so scary in the beginning.  Lots of good stuff–and I’m not just saying that because she gives me a shoutout in the first sentence.  Happy reading!

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Someone Like You

You can’t turn on the radio these days without hearing this song by Adele, and two lines in particular spoke to me as I was driving in the car this morning.  Such a sad song, but what a spectacular voice she has!

You know how the time flies
Only yesterday it was the time of our lives~Adele, Someone Like You (2011)

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Crazy Careers

I happened upon this article on CNN, about wacky careers that help you bring home the bacon.  It was written pretty tongue-in-cheek, and I chuckled at least twice, so I thought I’d share it with you all.  So for any of you fellow post-grads out there who are productively searching for your next endeavor, check it out!

Of all the options listed in the article, I think I’ll go with bicycle-taxi driver.  Making a living AND staying in shape.

Let me know if you have any favorites!

 

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Flashback Friday

With the Fighting Irish on the road this weekend at Pitt, I thought this video would be fitting for Flashback Friday:

Mike Golic, Jr. (center, #57) and Brandon Newman (nose guard, #99) give a tour of Notre Dame’s new equipment truck, which left for Pittsburgh last night, according to the @NDFBEquipment Twitter feed.  (I’ll ponder why the football equipment room has it’s own Twitter feed in another post…good grief.)

Golic certainly has the personality to live up to the TV-hosting genes in his family, but my favorite part was when Newman suggests that the back of the truck should have said “Here came the Irish…even though that’s not grammatically correct.”  Not sure what that says about the Notre Dame education…

But regardless, have a great weekend and Go Irish!  Let’s go for a win, because I don’t want to think about the reaction to that truck in Pittsburgh if we lose.

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Another new endeavor…

I just signed up to take a writing class.  But not just any writing class.  A fiction writing class.  Novel writing, to be specific.

I’ve taken plenty of writing classes in my day.  They are par for the course as a journalism student, and I loved them all.  But novel writing is a little bit different.  It’s not exactly writing and reporting 101.

I have to be creative enough to craft my own story, and to share it with others.  Which kind of frightens me.  Ok, actually, it frightens me a lot.

Which is why I have to take this class.

I think that actually attempting to write a novel, which I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl, is probably one of the scariest things I could do right now.  I’d be going out on a limb (way out on a flimsy limb…I discovered my sad attempt at historical fiction while I was cleaning out my desk this summer).  I’d be taking a risk, which is not something I generally do.  I’m too much of a planner for that.  I’d be putting myself, and my ideas, out there, at least for my fellow students in this class to read and critique.

In a nutshell, I’d be breaking away from what I’m used to, and comfortable with, to pursue something that’s always been floating around in the back of my mind.

And since it’s always been floating around in the back of my mind, I think I owe it to myself to give it a try.  No matter how far out of my comfort zone it takes me.

I’ve used this quote on the blog before, but I’m going to put it here again, because it popped into my head the second I signed up for the class.

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”~Helen Keller

So here’s to a new adventure.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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A new endeavor!

As I’ve mentioned a few times on this little blog, I’m productively searching for my next endeavor.  Which is quite the process, let me tell you.

And during the process, I’ll be freelancing for Patch.com, a local news website run by AOL.  There are Patch sites for towns all across the country, and I’ll be writing articles for the town of Hingham, MA.

The sites are a great source of local news, stuff that you won’t get reading the bigger national and regional papers.  Those publications, of course, serve an important purpose in informing the public of what’s going on across the country and around the world, but I’ve always been a big fan of local news.  I love stories about people and their ordinary, everyday lives.  Sometimes even the smallest things are full of hope and wonder.

I’m excited to start this new adventure.

And if you have some free time, check out my first article!

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“So you want a car, brah?”

I thought I’d start the week off with our second guest blog post.  This one chronicles the adult milestone of purchasing your first new car.  (If you’re wondering why we needed a guest author for this particular milestone, see my post from September 8.  Or my dwindling bank account.)

Once again, I took the liberty of adding a few photos.  And don’t overlook the footnotes; there are some gems in there.

So you want a car, Brah?[1]

Upon graduation from the great University of Notre Dame, I knew it was time for me to put aside my youth and sally forth into adult life and all the responsibilities it entails. So I bought a $5 filing cabinet at a local garage sale. My second adult purchase, a car, required much more work.

Some people dream about what their first car will be. Most people have a decent idea of what they are looking for. And then there is me, who places the following requirements on my automobiles: ability to hit 90 mph without shaking uncontrollably; ability to cool-off the passengers, via windows[2] or A/C; radio.

Ability to pick up chicks is viewed as a perk but not a necessity, resulting in the Mini Cooper not making the final cut.

Maybe someday.

Since I’m cheap and conservative, not to mention legally 5’8” and 145lbs[3], I zeroed in on subcompact cars. We’re talking the Civic, Corolla, Yaris, Mazda3, Fiesta, Focus, Cruze, Accent, and so forth. Step by step instructions on shopping for subcompact cars are as follows:

  1. Do online research. Confirm that Japanese/Korean cars are the best, but actually American cars are pretty good.
  2. Visit your local dealer. Be baffled that no one has the cars you are looking for in stock. Because, you know, they are selling so fast, why bother to have them on the lot to sell to customers?
  3. Test drive cars at your local dealer. Confirm that the subcompact market is mature and saturated, so all compact cars are pretty much the same.
  4. Put up pictures of possible cars on the wall, and throw darts to make your decision.

Searching for (sub)compact cars is like visiting colleges.  The first one you visit, you are really excited about their research opportunities, low student to faculty ratio, great campus life, quality dining options, lots of awesome majors and offbeat classes, and how cute all the 18 to 20 year old co-eds are. By the time you visit your tenth school, you realize they are all saying the same thing, and most co-eds looks good to a 17 year old.

I test-drove six cars. And you know what? They drove like cars. The Mazda dealer was floored when I failed to notice the superior handling of the Mazda3 over its competitors. I only noticed one car to have slightly inferior handling/acceleration/drivability[4], the Honda Fit, which is fantastically cheap and pretty cool looking. But since I actually noticed something, I decided to axe it off my list.

Ford failed to furnish Fiestas in my 2 visits to the dealership.   The dealer at Toyota was boring, and the Corolla just felt lame.  The Mazda dealer was a little too friendly (please stop mailing me thank-you letters), and the fuel efficiency was not competitive. Hyundai also failed to actually have cars on their lot, and the fancy names they used to differentiate between options just confused me[5]. That left the Honda Civic as the last man standing. Throw in the fact that the Civic I bought was built in Greensburg, IN, and  I was pretty happy with my purchase.

Looks about as cool as the Mini Cooper to me.

The final step to buy a car is negotiating the price[6].This consists of my mother and I faking the following:

  1. We knew what we were doing. We did not.
  2. We were not that interested in the Civic. There was no way in hell I was going to go back to the wall and throw darts again. He could have jacked the price up and I would have bought the Civic.
  3. We were actively negotiating with the Hyundai dealership across the street, and they were giving us a great deal. Preposterously, I think they believed us. Or at least took us at face value. Or maybe just laughed at us after we left.

In the end, we got the price dropped by $100, which I’m happy with for under an hour’s worth of negotiating[7].

In the future, I think I’m going to borrow my dad’s technique and have my wife buy my car.


[1] Actual words spoken to me by a Ford salesman.

[2] Windows must go both up and down. Please see my ’98 Plymouth for an example of where you get only 1 or the other.

[3] Am I actually that tall or heavy? No, but my drivers license says I am.

[4] I was very excited when I found out this was actually a word.

[5] This is like Starbucks using words like “grande” and “trenta.” I still get nervous that when I order a “venti,” I’m going to walk out with twenty cannoli.

[6] Technically speaking, the final step is paying for the car. I have not yet done this critical step.

[7] Why an hour? Multiple stops for “I need to go check with my manager on this” or “May I speak to my mother in private” ploys. Necessary? Probably not, but it sure felt good.

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