The National Weather Service has issued a Blizznado Warning for the following counties in Nebraska…

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Subbing again today in the art room, just finished up my delicious Casey’s iced coffee, and HOLY BRRRR, it’s cold this morning!  We’re all just patiently waiting for the next random 70 degree day.  It’s common in Nebraska to experience up and down weather all throughout the year, like snow on Monday and a thunderstorm on Tuesday.

Here is a photo from March 13th, 2012 when it was 84 degrees outside.

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That isn’t the only type of weather we have in the spring.  One day last April, it was between 40 and 50 throughout the day, with sleet and snow… and a tornado, also referred to as a “snownado” or “blizznado”.  I was lucky enough to be inside my cozy apartment most of the day, but looking out the window was just as entertaining as watching the TV.  Outside, the weather switched about every half hour from a white-out to a hail storm.  The TV switched about every half hour from a Winter Storm Warning to a Tornado Warning.  It was a great day for my cat Whitley and I to do some scrapbooking and skip class.

Whitley is sometimes more “blizznado” than an actual blizznado.  When she’s down, she’s down (knocked out cold for hours), but when she’s up, she’s up (knocking things over and driving me crazy for … minutes).  She may be crazy, but Whitley’s a good sidekick.

Whitley is just over 3 years old, but a teenager in kitty years.  She has an attitude problem.  She usually starts her day as soon as “Papa” does, crying loud enough to wake me up earlier than I want to be, begging for food, but mostly to go outside.  Until we physically push her out the door, she does not realize how cold it actually is at that time in the morning.  As soon as he leaves, she usually comes back to bed with me, which makes it harder to get out of bed.  She’s like my own heated blanket.

This morning was a different day.  Craig had a lot to get done at work before the elevator opened, so he was up and getting ready to go just after 3.  Whitley decided it was too much effort to get out of bed THAT early, so she missed breakfast.  When I got up, she begged me as she usual does (even after she’s eaten), so I of course didn’t believe her.  She cried and cried, so I sent Craig a text to ask if he had fed her this morning.  When I realized she was telling the truth, I gave her some food.  Did she eat it?  No.  Just kept following me around and crying, which means she really doesn’t give a crap about the kitty food, but really wants to go outside.

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Whitley has the most unique personality of any cat I’ve ever owned.  When I picked her up from a farm just northwest of Kearney, she was running around wild in a smelly garage with the rest of her multi-colored siblings, and she’s kept that wild lifestyle ever since.  She loves it when I tease her and she loves teasing me.  She’ll wait behind a doorway until I walk through then jump straight out with her arms in the air, hoping to scare me, and she usually does.

Whitley doesn’t like to be touched that much; only for about 5 seconds, then she takes off like a rocket to the basement or under the bed and completely out of reach.  She’s not very social, but she does love to play with Craig and I and when she does play, she’s extremely careful not to touch us with her claws.  Out of the many many toys she has, her favorite is a long white shoestring and she will play with it for hours if there is someone to pull on the other end.  Whitley does not weigh over 20 pounds, but she is not a skinny cat anymore.  We took that from her when we extracted her uterus….  Ever since then, she can only play hard for about 10 minutes before she almost has a heart attack and we have to force her to stop.

THEN

The weather in Nebraska has always been as crazy and random as it is now, but our cats were never blizznadoes.  Our cats were always sweet and loveable; they’d let us pet them whenever we wanted to and we could carry them around for a full hour without them getting pissed off.  We had lots of cats and all the time.  I liked to feed the kittens from a spoon while sitting on the floor of our “mud room” porch in my underwear.

It wasn’t underwear weather all year long, though.  We had to wear pants a lot of the time.  Especially during the winter and when we went to school.

One day in the early January of 1996, the snow hit hard and fast… it was a nation-wide storm, but at school, it was like no one was expecting it.  Everything was just fine until the snow started falling, then we started to notice the teachers and staff were panicking.  All of the sudden, we were dismissed and shooed home like something bad happened.  We loaded up on the bus and took off, but it wasn’t 5 miles into the drive when we had to stop.  Looking out the window, everything was white, we could see absolutely nothing but snow.  We sat there for quite some time before people started to complain about having to pee.  I held it and sat as still and quiet as I could in my usual seat towards the front.  I heard the older kids talking and laughing about peeing in a bucket they put in the very back.

There was an older boy that rode the bus that always picked on my brothers and I.  He teased me, made fun of me, and would slap my legs while I was sitting in my seat, but on this day, he apparently felt sorry for me.  I was really little and really scared.  He sat by me and told me everything was okay.  Although I hated him and he would be just as mean to me later on, it made me feel better at that moment.

We couldn’t move the bus much farther, so we crawled slowly to the next house, where one of the kids on the bus lived.  We ended up staying the night in that house and I really don’t remember much of it, but first thing the next morning, my dad was waiting outside on a four-wheeler, which was the only thing that could get through the many feet of snow from the blizzard.

When it was underwear weather, there were always tornadoes.  We seemed to get hit more by them living northeast of Bertrand than I ever have since.  They were usually within viewing distance from our front yard, but the closest went right through the fields next to our house.  We were in the basement for what seemed like hours at that age, but what could have been minutes.  Everything went black and the wind howled out of control.  I brought my pillow with me to the basement and laid on my mom’s lap until it was over.

When the storm passed, everything lit up into daytime again.  We found some little damage to our buildings around the farm, but the most interesting thing I remember was the hole we found in an aluminum irrigation pipe.  The wind, or maybe a dinosaur, sliced through it like it was paper.  The cut was in the middle of a section of pipe, in a half-circle shape and rippled, like paper looks when cut by scissors with a decorative edge.

We have a lot of crazy weather, but not all of it is bad.  There are some absolutely perfect days, especially during the early summer.  On a perfect day in the summer, I liked to do normal child things, like riding my bike and jumping on the trampoline, but I also liked to climb the hay bails out in front of our house and pretend I was an Indian.  For some reason, the hay bails made me feel like that… I would not be caught dead wearing shoes.  We also had a cow tank in the back yard that served as a swimming pool most of the time, but sometimes an aquarium for my brother’s huge catfish he’d catch down the road at the canal.  They were over two feet long and swam around in circles like sharks do at the zoo.

On a perfect day in high school, we would all go out to a bridge over the same canal just a few miles north of Bertrand.  It was great for getting a tan, but even better for jumping if you were brave enough.

As I got older in college and not as brave, but just as stupid, we got a little more creative with our hot summer days.

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I think I’ll just keep thinking about that today.

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I said “Yeah” …!

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Yesterday, we went into town (Kearney) to get my ring resized.  I was truly not looking forward to it, not only because I had to temporarily give up something I’ve grown attached to, but I did not want to walk back into that establishment after my last visit.

Craig purchased the ring in early December.  He says they were soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo nice to him then, of course.  Shortly after he proposed (at the end of December), he called to make an appointment to have it resized.  He was asked for all the basic information: our names, phone number, what size we thought I needed, etc.  We were told to bring it in on January 19th; they were running a bit behind.

January 19th (a Sunday) arrived and Craig was unfortunately at work loading a train.  So, I took the time out of my day to drive a half hour into town to drop off my ring.  I made sure to take a picture of it on the way, since I wouldn’t be seeing it for a while.

I walked into the jewelry store and was stared at until I reached the counter and was the first to speak, “Uhh.. I’m here to drop off my ring to have it resized.”

A girl my age approached me and asked, “What’s your name?” in a very monotonous ‘I would rather keep gossiping than help you right now’ voice.  She got behind the counter and started running through the appointment sheets, then asked if I had made an appointment.  I told her all about our phone call and that we were told to bring it in on this specific date.  She did some “research” on the computer and at first, claimed we didn’t even have a file or purchase history under either Craig’s or my name, or our phone numbers.  Finally, she located Craig in the system and said he had no appointment scheduled.

I am not a very brave person and I’m very emotional when I do get the nerve to speak my mind.  So, I did the best I could and got a little sassy.  I asked why we would have been given a specific date and had been asked for our personal information if an appointment had not been made for us.  She said, “Well, they probably just gave you the date we might be caught up by”.

She proceeded to tell me they couldn’t get it in until the 28th and that it wouldn’t be ready for pick-up until February 4th.  I asked again, “So, there’s absolutely no way you can take it today.”  She answered with a sharp “nope”, and as I was telling her I guessed my only option was to drive back to Kearney on the 28th, she said, “So, do you even want me to set a new appointment for you?”

At this point, I was ready to walk out of the store.  Seriously?  No way, why would I want you to do that?  So I can come back in next time and go through the same run-around process you’re giving me now?  She said, “what size do you need?”  I told her we had had a ring resized here before if she wanted to look it up on the file, but she cut me off with, “Well, can I size your finger now?”  As if I was an idiot for providing an answer to her question.  I felt like I was in trouble for something.

She shoved the ring sizer on my finger and immediately said, “That’s the right size”.  It took me a good 30 seconds to get the thing off, so I disagreed.  She wrote down her pick anyway and told me it needed to be tight.

Shortly before the non-existent appointment, I had noticed the ring was not perfectly round and had a funny hump on one side, as if it had been resized before.  I mentioned this to her and she studied it for a good two minutes, rubbing her fingers vigorously back and forth on the band.  I tried to tell her how to feel it, but she ignored me.  She told me she didn’t really notice anything, but there were “always” imperfections.  I told her it needed to be fixed.  She told me she was sure they would fix it when they resized it, but didn’t include any notes on the resizing sheet.

I called Craig as soon as I left the store, and when I left the doors to the mall, I couldn’t help but cry.  It was like I had walked into the doctor’s office with my own future child and was told they were going to torture him and I had no choice.  I was pissed the rest of the day, like “grounded” pissed.  Although it was just me at home, I slammed the doors, threw stuff around, and pouted on the couch.  I hoped Craig would “have a talk with them”, but the more I thought about it, the more I understood he wouldn’t get anywhere with it anyway.  We’ll just have to bring it up when it comes time to buy the wedding bands.

So, I was nervous as hell walking into the store again for our “real” appointment yesterday.  I saw the c-word woman and she walked away as soon as she noticed us coming in.  We approached the only man in the room and although he wasn’t outright rude like she had been, he had the same “you’re boring and a waste of my time” voice while he took my ring and went over the details again with us.  I tried to mention again my issue with the imperfectness of the band, and he also ignored the problem and said, “I’m sure they’ll take care of it when they resize it”.

So we left.  Now I’m naked and afraid that I’ll have to go through this again, but I guess there’s nothing we can do!  …Other than recommend everyone shop anywhere but Riddle’s Jewelry in Kearney, Nebraska.

THEN

Every girl always claims she’s been dreaming of the perfect wedding day since she was a little girl.  That’s not necessarily true for me.  I dreamed of being a zookeeper, a teacher, a doctor, and a mom, but not really ever a bride.  I don’t remember attending any weddings when I was very young, other than maybe two or three within the family.  They didn’t get me excited; I didn’t like the taste of the mints and I hated crafts and decorating.  The only thing I really truly enjoyed about weddings was the taste of frozen wedding cake, especially the ice cream-like frosting.  My grandma had a bunch in her freezer after my aunt and uncle’s wedding and I ate a piece every time I visited.

I dreamed of boys and I dreamed of being married, but never the wedding.  It really wasn’t until I met Craig that I actually started to take notice of those type of things.

Craig and I met in the fall of 2008 when I had just started college as a freshman at UNK in Kearney.  He was a sophomore, but I assumed he was older due to my naivety and the nature of our acquaintanceship.  I knew him, because my friends and I partied at his house from time to time.

We had a few short conversations, usually while intoxicated, but didn’t know each other well.  I knew he was good friends with some of the boys from my home town of Bertrand, so I considered him a friend as well.  He says, he always had a crush on me when we were younger, but thought he wasn’t good enough for me.

I got a boyfriend at the start of 2009 and again because of my naivety, got too serious too quickly.  I didn’t have a life outside of my relationship and we moved in together after about a year of dating.  That went downhill quickly.  I learned things about him I never wanted to learn about anyone… gross things.  I proudly broke up with him and stayed with some friends for a couple of months while I was searching and saving up for my own place.

During that time, I turned 21 and started going to the bars.  I didn’t really experience the “just turned 21” lifestyle until I was 22, because none of my friends were old enough to go to the bars.  So, I started focusing more on school and work and spent more time visiting my mom at home or just hanging out with close friends.  I also got a cat.

Through mutual Bertrand friends, I ran into Craig once at Lumbergs, a little bar in Kearney, and he had grown mutton chops on his face.  He assured me it was part of a bet and I thought it was funny.  At that time, I started doing a little creeping on his Facebook page.  I still had no intentions of dating him; it had never crossed my mind.

My friend Maggie and I started hanging out more with the Bertrand boys and in turn, saw Craig every weekend again.  And as it always was before, we were both intoxicated.  I don’t know what it was, but something drew to him.  I started to grow a little crush on him, but didn’t really act on it.

One night, I went over to the house they all lived in, but I was sober.  We were just mingling with everyone and at one point, I sat down on the couch and Craig sat down next to me.  Although he couldn’t really speak straight and was doing most of the talking, we talked and talked and talked until my friends decided it was time to leave and I didn’t want to go.  We left, but as soon as I walked in the door at home, I decided to go back.

We started hanging out together on the weekends and that quickly grew into hanging out on the weekdays.  I invited him to go with me to Lincoln one night to watch the Josh Abbott Band play at Uncle Ron’s and he accepted.  The drive was really awkward, but we had a great time.  Shortly after, I was giving him a ride home from my apartment and he asked me if we should “make it Facebook official”.  I still wasn’t sure if I was ready, since he wasn’t really the type I’d always been after, but we “made it official” and I learned quick that’d he’d been my type all along.

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My friend Maggie always bet me that I’d marry Craig, because she said, “You’ll marry the guy you never thought you’d end up marrying”, and she was right.  Craig is perfect for me; the ying to my yang.

We dated for two years before moving in together last May and pretty much ever since that happened, I’ve been indirectly begging him to marry me.  With the help of his nagging family at Thanksgiving, he decided it was finally time to ask.

So, we decided to open our own presents at home on December 23rd.  I got him a rangefinder for golf, he got me a new Titleist hat, I got him a new lunch bag, and he got me new Muck Boots.  At this point, I was satisfied.  I was so excited about those boots, it took me 20 minutes to walk around in them before I sat back down to finish our presents.  I gave him a binder of photos and memories that I made myself.  He took quite a long time reading through it while I sat there, wondering if I should go ahead and turn the TV on or just wait.  Then, he asked if he had been successful in surprising me.  I already knew about the hat and I wasn’t expecting the Muck Boots, but I did ask for them… He told me he had just one thing left to give me that was a surprise.  He pulled up the arm chair on the couch (totally Craig), which we had only realized was broken a day or two before, and pulled out a tiny little box — that’s it; I freaked.  I clapped my hands over my mouth and immediately started crying.  I asked him if he was serious, “IS THIS REAL?!”

I don’t remember the next 30-45 seconds, but he says he got down on his knee and asked…. I remember the words “spend forever with me”, and I apparently said “Yeah”…, then I hugged him for quite a long time, still not understanding what just happened.  We sat and stared at each other a little awkwardly crying and saying “oh my God” for the next 40 minutes or so.

We called our family, then it was time to resume life.  So, Craig grabbed a couple of beers out of the frig.

NOG 4 OID

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Monday.  Is there really anybody on Earth that loves Monday?  There should be a sleep-in requirement on Monday.  Every Monday starts at noon.

I left you on Friday with news of me subbing.  The third grade was much better this time!  No one cried, they actually tried to whisper the whole time, and although the room smelled like at least one fart when they left, it didn’t smell like 30.

Most of the kids were finished with their projects, so I let them have a “free-draw”.  They are allowed to use up to two blank sheets of paper or as one student told me, “five” blank sheets of paper to draw and color whatever they’d like.  I received three gifts out of this free-draw session, the following being my favorite:

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After school, I stopped in Holdrege to have a short visit with my cousin Sierra and dog Zoey, then made it home to pop some ZzzQuil for a very early bedtime.  Why?

I’ve been helping out with the Minden speech team as a… well… volunteer assistant to the assistant coach, I suppose.  They gave me a jacket, so I feel important.  I loved speech in high school and have been trying to find more ways to get involved in the community and meet more people, so this was a great opportunity.  I have also been judging for them at the meets each Saturday, which actually makes me a little money.  For this last meet in Broken Bow, we had to be on the bus at 5:15.  I can’t function in the morning without allowing at least two hours to dress myself, so I was up at 3.  Saturday was a 15-hour day.  Shockingly, I was wide awake and hyperactive all night long!  Craig wasn’t too happy about that; I think he was looking forward to my usual super tired and falling asleep on the couch post speech meet self.

The kids did very well, and so did I, keeping myself busy in between rounds and not almost dying of boredom this time.  Judging at speech meets is a fantastic way to spend your Saturday.  If you can be up a little earlier and deal with a bus ride, the drive is included.  There’s always breakfast (donuts and sometimes Casey’s pizza!) in the morning, a very filling and delicious meal for lunch, and extra tidbits throughout the day like candy, cookies, and pop, all for FREE!  And of course, it’s always entertaining.  If the performances don’t make you laugh, something else will.

THEN

I once was a speech kid.  No, not once,… for life.  It actually wasn’t a nerdy thing to do at our small school.  We were even somewhat admired by the kids that weren’t out for speech; we won…. like, everything.

We practiced every single day after school.  A typical practice for me started with my friend DeLaine and I running out to the parking lot as soon as the bell rang, driving up to C-Plus (the one and only gas station/convenience store of Bertrand) to get big fountain cups of Mountain Dew and some zebra cakes or popcorn with nacho cheese on the side.  My mom often gave me a $20 check every time I needed gas, so I’d make sure to use only half of it and save the rest for that week’s snacks.  High school was allllll about “saving” money.

After the trip to C-Plus, we’d sit (and sometimes lie down) on top of the desks in Mrs. Kaps’ room, every once in a while working on our speeches, but mostly acting like pre-teens at a sleepover.  We’d text boys on our Motorola Razr flip phones and once or twice a week, we’d get together with our OID team to “practice” in the music room.

OID stands for Oral Interpretation of Drama.  In this event, 3-5 people stand in a line and present a pre-written script without ever touching each other and only interacting with verbal and physical gestures while always facing towards the audience.  They can be funny or serious, but ours were always extremely funny and sometimes on the verge of inappropriate (or at least in our minds).  We worked hard when Kaps was in the room, but when she wasn’t, we’d run through it one or two times, then spend the rest of the time making up our own performances or gossiping.

Here is a great video of our improvisational performance of childbirth.

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Gossip was my personal favorite, but we made too many mistakes.  From simple things like talking about someone as they walked in the door and forgetting to erase something bad we had written on the whiteboard, to butt dialing my mom at home while telling everyone the names of all the boys I had kissed and leaving a long, but luckily quite inaudible message on her answering machine at home.  I was “off like a prom dress” as soon as I took my phone out of my pocket and realized the amount of time it had been connected with “Mama”.

I obtained quite a few injuries during speech, as well – even more than I had during Cross Country or Track.  For my senior year, I wrote an entertainment speech about wanting to be a ninja, rather than any of the other career options my peers were choosing.  It had lots of great features, including my best Asian accent and nunchaku karate moves.  One day while practicing my kicks before the first meet, I broke my toe, by simply hitting the bottom of my foot on the floor… ?  The first meet was always in Gothenburg, which is a very large school that requires lots of walking to get to rounds, up and down stairs, on hard concrete floors.

My ninja speech became extremely successful and I finally qualified for state in an individual event.  We also qualified in OID, but that was pretty standard.

During one of our OID “practices” just before state, my great friend DeLaine closed my finger in the super heavy music room door, causing it to break or fracture or something that was blue and black in color, forcing me to tape it up and once again, do ninja moves in pain at the state meet.  Apparently it didn’t affect my performance, because the judges loved me and gave me a championship medal, which was absolutely one of the proudest moments of my life… “An dass awr I nee to say abou-tat.”

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What is orange and black and crawling all over?

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No, I did not add that clip as a reflection of myself; it’s just funny.

About once a week, I make the trek back to my hometown of Bertrand to do some subbing.  For a statewide substitute teaching certificate, you must have a teaching endorsement, and I don’t.  So, I have a “local” substitute teaching certificate, which only requires a bachelor’s degree and a couple of teaching credits.  It’s just an easy way for schools to hire subs in the area.  No, I’m not really in the area anymore (Bertrand is a 40 minute drive from Minden), but I had no experience when I started this and figured it would be easier to start at my own school where I knew everyone and everything.

I’ve been doing this since August and absolutely love it.  It took me a while to recognize the kids who had grown from a toddler to a pre-teen since the last time I saw them. Today, I’m subbing for my dear old art teacher Mr. Schwarz.  The art room is fun, but the high schoolers get a little sassy.  I have found they don’t think of me as “in charge”, I suppose because of my age and they know me personally.  The little ones are my favorite.  The third graders were the most enjoyable until December when I subbed in the art room and we had too wild of an hour-long art class.  Everybody was making snowflakes and there were little paper clippings everywhere.  Boy wrote something mean on paper to give to Girl, Girl became dramatically upset, tried to pull Girl into hallway and she intentionally refused loud enough for everyone to hear, made Boy apologize, Boy stubbornly and untruthfully apologized, Girl continued crying and begging me not to tell Teacher she had cried in fear that she would be held in from recess, thought things were under control until Boy 2 said that Boy 1 was trying to steal art room scissors, which he then laid upon the desk feeling guilty after shaking his head in denial.

I’ve also been the 4th grade teacher, the high school English/Speech teacher, a classroom aid, the 2nd grade teacher, the 3rd grade teacher, the Kindergarten teacher, and my mom.

I love filling in for my mom, who is the resource/special ed. teacher.  Not only are the kids incredible, but it’s so convenient not having to use up my own lotion throughout the day.  I think the kids behave better knowing I’m her daughter.  Every one of them always has something “clever” to say.  Even if I’ve seen them and worked with them 12 times, they still have to remind me who I am … “MISS Nation”.  (Yes, my last name is Nation.  Take it in, think about for a few moments, and forget it.  Twenty-four years with that name is enough; I’m ready for Majerus! {My new name… tee he he})

Another fun fact about teaching in Bertrand: my classmate Calli is now the music teacher!  I like to gossip with her during my free periods.  While filling in as an aid a couple of weeks ago, I got to sit in on her class with the second graders and we played a game!

That was a little cheesey.

THEN

One of my biggest fears when I started subbing, was being treated like we treated the subs when I was in school, actually… the way we treated all the teachers.  There once was a sub who looked like a man… she had dirty gray hair and her nose was always wrinkled in an upward direction.  She often subbed for our math teacher when I was in Junior High at Elwood (about 20 minutes from Bertrand; we lived there for a few years).  I won’t say I wasn’t a part of it, because I laughed the whole time, but I did NOT stick boxelder bugs in her hair.  That was not me.

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Boxelder bugs are pretty common in Nebraska, not so much now as they used to be.  They used to hang in groups of 20 or more on the screen to my Grandma and Grandpa’s front door.  I liked to push on their tiny legs with my fingernails from the other side of the screen to make them fall off.  They were everywhere when I was little and very annoying – worse than the grasshoppers.  They’d randomly fly up in your face and tickle your nose, similar to June bugs.

Another gross insect that’s common here in “Nebraskey” is the tick.  Lots of them.  We used to get them in our hair a lot when we were kids, but now I just see them walking across the floor every now and then.  We had a dog named Sammy for something like 16 years who was an expert tick trap.  She carried them around for days, until they were the size of a quarter.  Then they fell, and I ran over them with my rollerblades, or if I was feeling especially disgusting, I’d pop them with a screwdriver.           Come on, who hasn’t done that?

I’m always very careful about what I wear to teach at the school.

  • Check pants for transparency
  • Check underwear lines

Also when I was at Elwood, we had a strange English teacher.  She was a heavy woman, which wouldn’t have bothered me if she didn’t have so many wardrobe malfunctions.  She was always wearing tight leggings that weren’t supposed to be transparent, but stretched so much that they turned skin-color.  We could always see her underwear line and were always snickering behind her back, but one day… one day she set herself up for failure.

Our teacher bent over to dig through a filing cabinet and as bright as the sun appears when you accidentally see it through binoculars, there was a leopard print thong showing through her (black) skin-colored leggings, stretched out a good 24 inches from side to side.  We couldn’t believe it.  I remember telling my mom about it when I got home.

I always say I don’t regret anything because I’ve learned from everything, and how true is that?  Watch your panties people; leave ’em at home.

“So, what do you do, Taylor?”

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I may be biased, but here in Nebraska, we have a different way of life.  We aren’t concerned with the busy schedule of a 10:00 brunch, 10:25 meeting, 11:00 conference call, 12:00 “no lunch to keep skinny” lunch hour, 1:30 salon appointment, and afternoon of sorting through e-mails and sending text messages, and flirting with the boss man during happy hour, just to go home to an empty house, silence to quickly be interrupted by dinner reservations to a 5 star restaurant and an all-nighter at the club.  That’s just too complicated.  No, we aren’t dumb; we’re simple.  We prefer a long day of hard work, getting dirt under our fingernails, even if our job doesn’t require it, relaxing at home with family, and occasionally “going into town”.

Nebraska is a state full of polite people who make an effort to be kind to others.  It would be out of the ordinary to not receive a wave from every driver on our two-lane highways, to not hold the door open at any public building for whoever is walking up behind you and especially for the door to not be held open for you, a lady of any age.  It is unlikely to not be helped with your groceries when you are having trouble, to not be greeted with a genuine smile and “how are you?”  In fact, it is downright upsetting to not be treated with kindness.

In early spring, the entire state is covered in snow.  Then a light switch flips on and we immediately see temperatures over 80.  The entire summer season is devoted to planting and raising corn.  It is rare for a Nebraskan to not have at least one farmer in the family, but even if we don’t, we are still affected daily by the fields of corn that surround us.  Fall is the most energetic time of the year in Nebraska.  The corn stalks are twice as tall as I am and driving requires extra precaution.  The state transforms into a sea of red, that on every Saturday, follows I-80 East to be condensed into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, as a crowd of sometimes more than 90,000 people.  The winters are long and very cold, with random days of 70 degrees and sunny.  Everyone here is experienced driving on ice and everyone here has helped pull a stranger out of a snow-filled ditch, or have been in that ditch-driven car pulled out by a stranger.

Nebraska is a wide open canvas, not only in its geography, but in the way you choose to make it.  I’d rather not impress others with a short skirt and a new set of jugs, but with hard work and dedication.  I am an artist, which you may think is not common in such a “boring” place, but it is.  Many people in Nebraska turn to art as a way of expression, similar to the musicians in Tennessee, the surfers in California, the cajun cooks in New Orleans, and the dancers of New York.  What else are we to do with this beautiful open landscape and these breath-taking sunsets?

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I will do anything to have my name be known.  That’s just how I am and how I have grown to be.  I want to be a household name, even if it’s just in Nebraska.  So, I search for things that will help me reach my goal.  I volunteer, I jump on business opportunities, and I take nothing for granted.  Anyone reading this has most likely assumed this is why I’ve decided to start a blog.  Maybe it has a little to do with my need for attention, but there are two main reasons.  1. I want to WANT to get out of bed earlier.  2. I have a habit of trying to preserve memories outside of my head.

 

“So, what do you do, Taylor?”

That’s always a difficult question.  If I respond with simply, “Well, I’m an artist”, one will automatically jump to the conclusion that I make no money, survive off of my better half, and spend my days staring at a blank canvas, claiming that I have “artists’ block”.  That’s bull.

“So, what DO you do, Taylor?”

This is my typical response: “Well, I own my own business…” (this sounds better, doesn’t it?)  “…I’m an artist; I do custom pencil portraits.”  There’s always an awkward pause mixed with an unconvincing “Oh, that’s interesting!”, so I add, “I also substitute teach”, and that seems to give reassurance that I am making a little cash.  This is immediately followed with the question, “So, what does your fiance’ do?”

 

My fiance’ (still not used to saying it), Craig, is indeed my better half (when I want to admit it).  We just recently got engaged and have been together for nearly three years.  He does take care of most of the bills while I’m trying to make my footprint in the world, but I make sure he notices when I casually swing by the grocery store or put a half tank of gas into one of our vehicles.

“So, what does your fiance’ do?”

Craig is the superintendent at a grain elevator in Kearney, which is about a half hour from Minden (where we live).  He works his freaking tail off.  Both of us went to college in Kearney, which is where we met, and he joined the company when he graduated in 2011.  He took a job in Abilene, Kansas, and a year later, was moved to Auburn, Nebraska, where he worked at an elevator just across the state line in Rock Port, Missouri.  When I graduated college in May of 2013, Craig took the open superintendent job in Kearney.  I was so sick and tired of Kearney, it was hard for me to even pretend to be excited about his promotion.  We compromised on the move by living outside of Kearney and settled in Minden.  Craig makes good money for his age, but I still think he deserves more.

Every day, Craig gets out of bed around 6 a.m. (often earlier) to get ready for work.  He drives to Kearney, works harder than any man I know, and comes home around 6 p.m. (often later) to fight to stay awake and hang out with me for a little while before we go to bed around 10:30 (often earlier).

Every day, my alarm goes off around 7 a.m. and I hit the snooze button exactly 3 times.  On the third alarm, I force my eyes open, not to jump out of bed, but to scroll through my Facebook News Feed until I catch up with what I read the night before.  I take a shower and put my eyes on or in (as Craig says), make my morning coffee, and head to my “office”, which is the tiny 6 x 10 ft room I do my drawings in.  I usually dink around on my laptop until I finish my coffee, then I crank up my music and start working.  What I call “work” is drawing for about 10 minutes, staring at the wall for 15, drawing for another 10 minutes, picking on my cat as she walks in the room, drawing for another 5 minutes, staring at the wall….  This goes on until lunch time.  I used to be really good at staying focused and getting a lot done during the day, but something has changed and I haven’t figured out what it is.  I give myself an hour to eat lunch and sit on the couch, then I go back to “work”.  The afternoon is usually even less productive that my morning.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I am NOT a lazy person.  This is not the everyday work life I want to live.  It’s become somewhat miserable.  I have put more blood and sweat into work than most women my size and age will in a lifetime…, but that was before.  I have to be in the mood to draw; it’s much different than doing truly physical work or being told to do something.  I would rather do more subbing or other work four days out of the week, and just leave a couple of days for drawing, but I’m still working to establish that routine.

So, as I mentioned, I wanted to start this blog to give me a reason to get up earlier and have something to do while I drink my coffee.  We will see how it goes….

 

I have had a pretty incredible, but simple, life.  I am constantly trying to record my memories by scrapbooking and typing them into a sort of “autobiography” word document.  I’m a little nervous that I’ll forget them all sometime down the road.  At my current age of 24, I can hardly remember the things I did in high school.  Everytime someone brings up a story, I just can’t find it in my head.  So, I want to share those memories in this blog.  Yes, as a record, but also as a way to debunk all the beliefs and stereotypes about Nebraska.  I want everyone to know that my childhood and life growing up here was just as good, if not way better, than yours in another state.  I also hope all my friends in Nebraska will enjoy reading my stories and relating to them.

 

So with that introduction, this is where I begin.  Tomorrow and, if I have the motivation, every day after that, I’m going to tell you my story of my life in Nebraska: now… and then.

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