Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good Stuff: Lauren Haney

One thing I love about blogging/writing stuff down is reading and hearing from people who do the same.  The following was written by my good friend Lauren Haney: Social Media director, OPC-er, writer, adventurer, traveler, and fellow JV soccer-er extraordinaire. She is such an encouragement and example to me (and many others). Basically, she's one bad chick. And by bad I mean good in that slangy kind of way. She wrote this little number for people like myself, and yes, she did all that strange grammar and punctuation usage on purpose. Have a read and enjoy. 

Lauren and I at her graduation last May -I was a marshal for the Jr. class.
(Give me some slack for the chubbiness...this is a week
after coming back home from Spain.)


. No Thanks, I'd Rather Be A Freak Out?!

(This goes out to all my about to be, just and post graduated people)

I love punctuation  And grammar  Well actually, I love them both when they're used properly  Otherwise they perturb me  But I hate periods 


Because a period says "It's done," "I'm done," "The end," "Don't add anything else," "There are no other options," "Not looking for input," "Don't participate," etc

It certainly doesn't leave room for things to evovle or adjust or grow or expand or redirect

That's why there's some amazing and unbelievable beauty in a good, long, well-put together run on sentence - you're just not sure where it's going to go or what direction it's going to turn next so you almost feel as if you're on the edge of your seat holding your breath while you try in a most focused, concentrated fashion not to fall out of the car as it careens around turns on two wheels and threatens to lose you entirely with its next could-be-independent clause

And that's the same reason why having no idea what you're doing with your life is beyond okay  Because it doesn't need any periods  The punctuation of a clueless person is questions marks, exclamation points and an over-abundance of commas and man are those all fun  

They all say "I've barely started," "Please add something," "There's too many options to handle," "Bring on the input" and "I love communal participation"

They say "I refuse to end this just because I should"

"I won't stop when I don't know where I'm going"

and "I will take the wisdom of the crowd instead of the foolishness of only myself"

So why use periods at all?  Stop freaking out  Life is way more fun open ended  I'd rather have my life be a freak out than a period

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Miss Gesch Goes to Washington

Anyone get that reference? Jimmy Stewart would be happy to know that his legacy lives on. (I've looked back and there's a pattern here of me naming my blog posts after obscure references hoping that somewhere, someone out there has the same random tidbits stored away and understand what I'm saying. A girl can dream.)

In addition to the Deep Thoughts I unleashed on you in my last post, I also had the benefit of enjoying Washington D.C. and all it has to offer last weekend. Yet again, I managed to find some fabulous people with whom to reunite as well! First was a very short visit (about 10 minutes only!) with my friend Randy, who goes to school in Kentucky. He was on my semester abroad program last spring and he happened to be in D.C. for a leadership conference through his school. He saw on twitter that I was going to D.C. and texted me to meet up for a second. Oh how social media brings us all together. The second was with my brother Alex's girlfriend, Heidi. Actually, I don't have to refer to her as my brother's girlfriend. I should just say "my friend Heidi," because that's what she is and I love it! She lives and works in the area and we got to catch up over some delicious gourmet cupcakes, starbucks, and Indian food. (I loved it. Spicy.)

Here are those touristy pictures from last weekend. Karyn and I had a great time. Let me say: I loved exploring D.C. because I did not expect it to be such a cool city! The METRO. I love the Metro. D.C. is a lot cleaner than most cities I've been around (butthen again, Sevilla shouldn't really be held up as a beacon of cleanliness by any means) and the vibe is just cool. I know that's abstract, but my mom put it best when I was trying to relay the "vibe" to her over the phone and she said, "Well, I understand - you just feel like you're where it all goes down."

Yes, mother, where it all goes down. Like in da club. It's goin' down. (Young Joc? Anyone?)
This makes me sad, because it shows how we consider some lives important
 enough to bury and honor, and other lives we treat as worthless,
throwing them away like nothing.
We have messed up morals these days.  
Walking in the freezing cold across the Potomac to see our friend Linc
Pretty sure we're the first to ever take a pic like this, right? 
Karyn and I on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
Reading with Abe, NBD
Delicious Indian food at Heidi's recommendation. 
I'm not THAT big, she's just a little shorter :) Meeting up with Heidi
Our cupcake selection 
My friend Randy. Ahh Spain memories.
Right to Life walk in front of the capitol building 
Braving the rain and madness for the cause
Who wants to go back and visit? I'm in.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I Walked

Well...I guess it was technically a march. But there wasn't much of that going on - someone with my lack of coordination can't keep a good march going. So I'm going to say I walked.

On Monday I had the privilege to take part in the annual Right to Life March (or walk in my case) in Washington D.C. to protest on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all fifty states. I'll supply my fun times, pictures, and touristy adventures soon, but I think it's important to take a minute and tell you why I did this thing in the first place. It's important and I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you concur or not.

Braving the rain

Ahhh. Where to begin. Well let's start by saying abortion has always been something that has caught my attention. I wrote a research paper on it for a history class, presented on it for a political science class, and wrote an essay on it for an English class. I interned at Bethany Christian Services, an adoption agency, this summer because I strongly believe in their mission to be there as a positive, loving option to young mothers in difficult situations. But the reason I did the walk is a little stronger than just an area of interest.

My partner in crime for the walk

Before I go on, let me say: I realize the stereotypes that come along with being an advocate for the pro-life cause. Some of the things I don't mind, some of the things I really can't stand. I understand that in every large, opinionated group of people there will be those on the extreme who don't do things with tact. I realize that when I tell some of you that I went to D.C. for this reason it might seem annoying and naive. I realize that women in difficult pregnancy situations need a loving community, not angry threats. I see that there are people on the other side of the argument who are very intelligent. People who know a lot of things. But there are a few things that I know too.  

I know that I was made for a purpose. I know that you were made for a purpose. Everyone has a purpose. 

Every life has a purpose. 

I know that when I didn't value my own life, there was someone else who did. That someone valued my life so much that He gave his own to pay for it. 

I know that because of what He did, now I think life is the most valuable thing in existence, and the only way to treat it is with love

I know that it's my job to spread the word. I have to tell people this thing that I know: that love is the only way to deal with a life

I know that someone fought for my life when I couldn't on my own. I know that I was in death's grip until someone took me back and proclaimed my life to be important. To be worth it. 

And so I guess I walked for a lot of reasons. But I kept feeling this particular one coming up in my mind: 

Anna, you gotta stand up for those lives because someone else stood up for yours.

If I don't stand up for life, what does that say about my relationship to the one who died for mine? My relationship with Him compels me to do something. Say something. Because the love of life is so integral to who I am, it's like it was programmed on my heart. And being silent or passive on the issue would just be a lie to myself, a lie to those precious lives that are being thrown away, a lie to those mothers who have strength and purpose beyond comprehension, and a lie to the one who started it all - the one who had the courage to love life first. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowy Days and Fridays

You know how the old Carpenter's song goes, right? Well, it wasn't raining, it was snowing. And it wasn't Monday, it's Friday. So I had to improvise.

And boy did it SNOW. The Facebook stati (statuses? statodes?) on the topic of snow were in full force today. They ranged from "OMGOSH I luvvv snow!!! xxoxoxoxoo" to "What is this white stuff?! I hate it I'm moving!" While I appreciate the gravity of the impact that a foot of snow can have on your day, let me let you in on a little secret: It's January and it snows in Chicago. Additionally: It ALSO snows in Wisconsin. Basically, let me just say:

You live in the midwest and it's winter. Snow is pretty, but it's not a huge surprise. And it's also not a tragedy. Stop tailgating everyone like a loser and drive safely. Now go build a snowman. 

I had plans with some of my roommates to hit up a Mexican restaurant about 30 minutes from here for delicious tacos and killer margaritas. Well, the weather interfered but also created a fabulous night anyway. We braved the block and a half to the nearest grocery store to purchase ingredients to make our own tacos and margaritas. (And let's not forget some place-and-bake cookies!). All of my roommates and our friend Ali stayed in and ate dinnner, watched movies, and laughed all night. It was fabulous. Obviously to enjoy these selections you need to be able to look past the usual Hollywood trash that can infiltrate most movies, but they were funnier than most romantic comedies.

Hilarious moment where her hair extension
starts on fire

We watched "What's Your Number" with Anna Faris and Chris Evans first. It was pretty entertaining with the classic Anna-Faris--wide-eyed-ditzy style of humor. Then we watched, what else, Bridesmaids, for our weekly fix of Kristen Wiig. "Oh you live in Milwaukee? Oh I'm sorry!"  

This weather produced a fun night. Along with this, however, is a lack of cuteness for my ensembles. I can't be donning dainty flats in 12 inches of freezing white powder. Why do that to your toes? These are what my winter outfits are turning out to be these days:

For the record, my shirt is from a thrift store somewhere, is paper thin, and features a cross legged moose saying "Yuh not from 'round here, are yuh?" Classy. Hopefully I can step up the outfit situation in the next few weeks to provide you with some confidence in my maturity once again. It's getting there, I promise.

Tomorrow I set out on quite the little road trip. I head to Washington D.C. with a pro-life group to march in protest against the ruling of Roe v. Wade (its anniversary is this time of year). I am really excited to tell you about it, but please also know that if your opinions differ, I'm really interested to hear those too! My blog is not about slamming you over the head with my thoughts when it comes to politics. But it is about my experiences, and part of that includes offering what I believe to be true, right, and important. I love people who don't agree with me, and also those who do. So have no fear. Stay tuned and wish Karyn Koopmans luck. She has to spend many hours on a bus next to me and I am afraid for her sanity - pray that she still wants to be my friend when we return early on Tuesday morning. It might be cutting it close.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mi Reunión

(I thought that was a fun title because it's spelled the same in English and Spanish, just read with different emphasis.)

Today was a great day. Although kinda busy and hectic with some applications and organizational stuff, I got to see a good friend from my semester in Sevilla! Dave is a native Spanish chico who befriended a lot of us Americans. We played tons of sand volleyball and worked a lot on our Spanish with Dave and his friend Pablo. Well, now Dave is studying at a college in St. Louis and was visiting at his friend Jeremy's apartment in Chicago. I grabbed my faithful friend Lauren Sandberg and hopped on the orange line to meet them. We had a great time getting coffee (or hot chocolate, in my case), walking around in Wicker Park (so hipster of us), and unknowingly eating at a vegan cafe (surprisingly delicious).

my cute hot chocolate
my delicious salad - named "Greek Goddess"
recognize me?
i think dave looks like luigi
riding on the CTA
one of the best in the world
our new friend jeremy with lauren
It was a great way to spend my last night before classes begin for my spring semester tomorrow morning (yikes!). I am so excited for these next few months of school, and while I hate waking up early, I am kinda looking forward to writing those papers. To be honest, I missed 'em. This weekend is an adventure in itself as I head to Washington DC on a little bus trip (more on that later) with my good friend Karyn Koopmans. Whilst there I plan on meeting up with my brother's girlfriend, Heidi. Eeeek! Too much excitement!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learning Popportunities

Who said that everything on the radio these days is trash? (Well, for one, my own mother.) But I have taken it upon myself to swoop in and stand up for that mainstream pop music that everyone so loves to demonize. (Kudos to you if you immediately thought of this song after that sentence.) In fact, on my last car ride I learned a lot of edifying lessons from pop music.

The ride was about 30-ish minutes and I decided to listen to the words and remember the songs from the ride. Now, I understand that these radio stations play the same 12 songs over and over again so much so that you tend to cry out in anger at the universe. I feel your pain, sister. Nobody likes beating a dead horse. But - who would've thought - hidden within all that overplayed nonsense are some real gems. I love these messages that are playing daily in your cars, kitchens, and orthodontist offices nationwide.

(thanks, Flickr!)

1. "People throw rocks at things that shine."

This is from Taylor Swift's "Ours," and definitely talks about her and her latest (I mean can we talk about how many 2-week relationships this chick has?) boyfriend. But I see it as a general lesson for everyone. I think someone once said it best when they said: Hatas gonna hate. Profound, I know. Basically, when you do good things, when you are successful, and when you are happy, people will try to drag you down just because they can. I realize that the logic doesn't make sense, but there are people who spend a lot of time throwing these rocks. Don't worry about them. Live your life and never apologize or feel bad for having joyous things going on within it.

2. "We go together like peanuts and paydays and Marley and reggae."

This line in Colbie Caillat's "Brighter Than the Sun" just made me think of all you people who I love to be around. It's great when you find people who jive with your style, or as Forrest Gump would say, those who go together with you like peas and carrots. That's something to celebrate. While I love me some Colbie, I do stand firm on the fact that she has poor taste in candy bars. Paydays?! Seriously? Gimme some 3 Musketeers, Butterfingers, Crunch, anything. Even a peanut butter cup for heaven's sake.

3. "Gotta love the life that we livin'"

This is from Flo-Rida's latest song "Good Feeling" that combines retro recordings with his own rap verses. But in all honesty, we really do have to love life. Why live it if you don't love it?! Flo-Rida, I concur.

4. "Oh, oh I know the sun must set to rise."

Leave it to Coldplay to get us thinking deep thoughts on the freeway. This is from their song "Paradise" and shows us a girl who doesn't have a picture perfect situation going on right now, but she keeps dreaming and looking forward to the good stuff that is on its way. Hey, if the sun is down, that means it's only going to come back up. Thanks Chris Martin. One wonders why if you are such a good songwriter, you made the choice to name your child Apple. I guess you can't get everything right.

5. "I'm sexy and I know it."

Welllllllllll. I don't have much of an argument for this one. It was the last song on my drive home (LMFAO's song named, you guessed it, "Sexy and I Know It") and kind of didn't fit in the whole untrashy/encouraging radio session. But in an effort to find something redeemable in this song, I'll say: It's good to be confident.

Plus, it successfully adds another verse to the popular song for kids: if you're sexy and you know it clap your hands! Boom.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Wonder Child Turns Three

I have this little niece named Sawyer. I am pretty lucky to see her all the time due to the close distance between her house and my school. But thanks to crazy scheduling issues, when it comes to Sawyer's birthdays, I am somehow a deadbeat aunt. I've successfully been out of the state every January 16th for the past 3 years.

On the day she was born in 2009, I received a $30.00 phone call from my brother telling me the happy news. I was in Jamaica. In 2010, I had to drop her present off early...I would miss her first birthday party because I was in Costa Rica on a soccer missions trip. Last year for her 2nd birthday I thought I had a chance - I left for Spain on the 18th. Alas, I was in Iowa on choir tour on her big day. Shoot. But this year, I will see Sawyer in all of her newly-minted-three-year-old glory. She is one of the best people on this planet. And if you spend 5 minutes with her, you will agree with me. 

Happy 3rd Birthday Soyjoy! You're my favorite.

Love, Auntie Anna

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Animal Sounds With Sawyer

She's such a smarty pants, she can even tell when I try and trick her. With this being her last week as a two-year-old, I'd say she's pretty with it.

And just for fun, here's a PRESH video of my brother Rudi (her dad) and Sawyer reading Green Eggs and Ham.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fear Factor

Okay, not really. But last night, I accomplished something. I ate an oyster. These are slimy, raw, gelatinous little creatures that are fastened tightly to their shell. You take a fork and unfasten them so they are just chilling in their gross juices. And then you slurp it up, and swallow it whole, like a shot. I added some tabasco sauce for my personal preference, my sister-in-law opted for horse radish. Here's a vid. Ate those oysters like a boss.

This is what they look like up close:

And here are the other, more aesthetically pleasing things I've been consuming on this Florida family vacay:

Blue coconut margarita
Not food. My dad and I. 
Coconut shrimp with a raspberry dipping sauce. I guess I was
in a coconut phase. 
Sesame tuna. Mmmm.
Just delish. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chi City

On Monday I was a lucky girl. I got to spend the day downtown Chicago with 3 great friends. They're all blonde bombshells, so I feel pretty cool being the brunette sheep of the bunch, if you will.

I never get sick of going downtown Chicago. Maybe it's that touristy small-town Wisconsinite within me that won't ever get used to a city that big. I just love going to walk around random shops and places in the city. And I don't ever get sick of The Bean at Millenium Park, either. It will always be a magical giant kidney bean that beckons me to take pictures of myself in its reflective surface. On this particular outing we didn't get to The Bean, but let me tell you, there'd be self pics in existence if we did. 

April and Susan
Karyn and myself
Amazing Popcorn
Giordano's Chicago Style Pizza. It really doesn't get better. 

After I got home from this blissful excursion, I started to feel kinda gross. And then the next morning I woke up feeling like I swallowed a rusty fork. And then I barfed. And then I found out I had strep throat and the flu simultaneously for three days. And now I'm sick of saltine crackers and ginger ale. You might say I'm down with the sickness. The couch and I have never had so much quality time together and I can't wait to put some distance between us again. 

Florida, anyone? We leave Saturday for our family vacation and on a scale of pretty to very excited, you might say I'm VERY excited. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Best Pintentions

For my resolutions this new year, I've recruited Pinterest to find my inspiration. For those of you not familiar, it's a website where people share cute/cool/interesting/inspirational pictures on a massive virtual bulletin board. While it can become a black hole of time-consumption and procrastination, I have also used it to find some helpful quotes for what I'm going to do differently and better this year. The pictures below line up with each of my goals. Check 'em out girl scout.

Goal #1: Listen to my own body. I do this weird self-destructive thing where I push myself to my limits for no reason. I don't eat well, don't drink enough water, am sporadic on exercising, and I wonder why I feel tired and stressed all the time. I've decided I will slow down and really assess how I feel and respond accordingly. Stressed out? Go running. Feeling sluggish? Eat some fruit and healthy protein. Desperate to keep my eyes open? Go to bed and start tomorrow with enough energy. When I do all of these things, I feel amazing. This practice will also hopefully help me finally reach my goal of weighing what I did before I went to Spain. I'm 9 pounds down, 3 to go in that effort to get back to normality. Woohoo!

Goal #2: Stay open. I want to be ready for new opportunities and adventures as they come up. I want to listen to God, my friends, and other people who present me with direction. The world is so big. And there are possibilities everywhere. And instead of responding with, "Let's sit this one out," I want to respond with an emphatic, "Let's go."

Goal #3: Practice the best kind of love.  The best kind of friendship is the kind that puts your own self and interests below the interests of others. This friendship is what makes the best kind of love. It's the kind of love that changed human history as well as my entire life. While the Disney princess posse might have us believe that romantic love is the best kind, I think they're one level too shallow. Strong, amazing relationships (romantic or not) are primarily based on a self-sacrificial friendship. That's a worthwhile way to spend a life, in my opinion. 

Goal #4: Be brave. This is a big year coming up. Heck, it's a big 5 months coming up. I have to somehow start on the path of growing up and leaving the comforts of my college years to see what I'm going to do with my life afterward. I figure I have two choices: chicken out and cry, or man up and be confident. I want to be courageous as I look for jobs, meet new contacts, and put myself out there to the adult world. My brother one time told me "Anna, we're Gesches. We can do anything." I like that attitude. 

Goal #5: Cut myself some slack, Jack. I know I might have some big ideas for my future, but I also am acutely aware of how life rarely follows the course of anyone's pre-laid plans. If things don't work out how I envisioned, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I'm going to remind myself along the way this year that life does not always go according to Plan A. And that life more often follows plans B, C, and even sometimes you have to work your way all the way down to Plan Q. But that's what makes it fun, right?

Here's to a healthy, adventurous, devoted, brave, and unpredictable year. Let's go.