21 September 2012


It was national Talk Like a Pirate Day and I was not in the mood to participate.  But the universe had its own agenda...

See, I am the co project director for an NIH grant (a.k.a. big government funded study).  It's a large, complicated study about family dynamics and obesity called Family Meals Live!.  We were a couple of months into setting the project up and referring to it as FML! when one of the undergrads filled me in on what FML really mean (f**k my life).  Oops!  Ya don't want that one spread around the community, so we promptly shifted back to calling it Family Meals and let it go.

Until this week, when it really started living up to it's inappropriate acronym. 

I was loading a bunch of study equipment in a car (on pirate day) when the bungee cord that was holding it all together snapped, and hit me in the eye.  In. The. Eye.

It hurt so bad I crumpled into the street and sobbed...partly because of the pain and partly because this damn project is going to be the death of me.  My classmates standing nearby kept asking me what was wrong and all I could do was cry.  When the pain subsided enough that I could open my eye up, it became apparent that I could not see.

My classmate located my contact lens (that had been dislodged during the trauma) and I put it back in...I still could not see.

That's when I really lost it and the FML's started flying.

I thought I'd just earned a lifetime of eye patches, on talk like a pirate day!  Argh!

That's when I started to laugh.

So off to the student health clinic I went.  By the time I arrived my baby blue was bloody brown.  My iris was like a lava lamp, you could watch it fill with blood, then drain, then fill, then drain.  All the while my vision remained blurred as blurred could be.


The optometrist put on her really fake, "all is well" voice and told me that I had an internal eye bleed and that she wanted me to walk immediately to the hospital to see a specialist.  So off I went.

ARgh!  ARGh!

I was whisked into the clinic where I spent 5 hours seeing multiple specialists, having multiple test, and speaking with an eye surgeon.  Now given, it is a teaching hospital and everyone was a bit excited that a "bungee cord victim" (as I overheard them call me in the hall) had come in.  My eye and I were popular.  Each time a doctor would come in they would say, "you are soooo lucky"...and then they'd launch into horror stories about bungee cord eye damage.


They finally released me with a damaged iris, internal bleeding, pooling of blood in my retina, potential nerve damage, my eyes dilated to the hilt, and with a METAL eye patch.

Now, I struggle to walk and not trip on a good day.  Add in partial blindness, a metal eye patch, and a dilated good eye and you have a hot mess on your hands.  It.  Was.  Hilarious.

So, two days later I'm still at home and still laying down (the pressure in my eye increases when I stand or sit up for long periods of time which causes sharp eye pain).  I started a new eye drop today and it makes me look like this:

No, not dripping wet and sad (that's just normal)...but that super big pupil is not normal.  But it's the way it's going to be for at least two weeks.  Hot.  So, so hot.

If it wasn't so dang funny it would be tragic.


12 September 2012

Sometimes I'm a Bit Obama

Meaning I'm an attention whore.  That's why I'm inviting ya'll to follow me on Instagram...because while my life is FASCINATING in words, it's even better in picture.  You can find me at:  carrielyn1975 

Over on Instagram you can see what I do when I'm bored (I take pictures of my shoes)
What I do when I'm suppose to be working (statistics = cartoon inspiration)
What I see when I'm out walking about
What my fish are doing (practicing the deadman's float)
What I do when I have nothing to do (lie, I always have something to do and hammock time is one of those somethings)
What I craft (for other people's kids)
Where I go to school (because it's the University of Minnesota and I have to brag it up)
What nature does (tumbleweeds swim too)
And the places I visit (because I'm a non-stop adventurer)
So if you're smartphone savvy cave in and join the party.

11 September 2012

Dear Diary...

Dear Diary,

I don't smoke.  I don't drink.  But I am addicted to no-bake cookies.  Ad. Dict. Ed.  Obviously I'm self medicating with peanut butter and oats.  I have no control.  I've made three batches in three weeks.  Oh sure, I make them and "give them away" but not before I've had my fill.  And by fill I mean I don't stop until I can feel the sugar coursing through my veins.  And it feels goooood.  My "wise mind" says "put the cookie down.  Feel your feelings, feel the boredom.  Embrace the stress.  Love the anxiety", but the rest of me says, "cooooookie" and then makes a primal grunting sound.  It's obvious who's winning the mind game.

Why put this in writing?  Because the first step toward addiction recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem.

So there, I've admitted it.

Maybe in a week or two I'll do something about it.  I'm considering a sugar fast...but heaven help us if I go off sugar and have a total psychotic break.  If it comes down to eating no-bakes or slipping into a persistent state of psychosis and total bitchiness...the no-bakes may win.

We will see.

Until then dear diary, peanut butter is my drug and my drug is gooooood...and available in Costco size containers.  Yum.

07 September 2012

Birds of a Feather Don't Always Flock Together

Today in class, as I was frantically trying to think of something valid to say, it occurred to me that there are two types of people my PhD program:  the uber focused and on a solid track to academic/research success, and then there's me.

There is no end to my frustration when it comes to this fact.  It is something I constantly battle and most of the time it feels like I'm drowning in turmoil.   In an academic culture where we are pushed to become experts in a topic we eat and breathe, I admit I am starving and suffocating.  Honestly people, I have no goal.  I have no drive.  I have no passion.  I thought I did, or at least I thought I would figure it out, or at least fake it enough to be believable, but the reality is I haven't and I can't.

So, today while I was sitting in class it occurred to me:  in a program full of birds of prey
I am a hummingbird.  
This has nothing to do with aesthetics, but is has everything to do with behavior. 

Birds of prey are focused.  They know what they're looking for, and they know when they find it.  They have keen senses and the innate power of attack.  They zero in on what they're after and they take it down.  It's majestic and respectable and awesome to watch.

Then there's the hummingbird.  The hummingbird flicks from flower to flower, sampling a bit here and a bit there, looking for the sweetest nectar it can find.  The hummingbird rarely stops.  As a matter of personal survival it is constantly going, looking, searching.  It zigs.  It zags.  And just when you think it's landed upon something really great, it moves on to something brighter and sweeter.

I do wonder if my hummingbird ways is an issue of contentment, or if it is just one of my many fatal flaws.  I know part of it is that I have interests in multiple areas, and the thought of landing upon one (and making it my life's work) feels like a trap.  Part of it is that my heart's true desire is about something completely different.

Oh sure, there are parts of me that know I could be a bird of prey, if I wanted to.  And considering the context in which I currently live, I want to.  But I'm not a bird of prey, not when it comes to this. 

Maybe it's time I embrace my hummingbird ways.  Maybe it's time I stop lamenting the fact that I'm not out to conquer the world, or drastically alter humanity, or solve even a tiny mystery of the human condition.  The reality is it's time I just settle on a flower that's sweet enough, sweet enough to get the job done, so I can move on and do something else.  No amount of acute soul searching is going to uncover an academic passion and turn me into an eagle...I know, I've spent two years frantically trying to get it together...and in the process, I've only fallen apart.

So, I'm a hummingbird, surrounded by hawks and owls and eagles.

A hummingbird.

So don't expect me to soar, or looked focused, or take away the big prize in the end.  Because the reality is, I'm just frantically fluttering around, eating sugar.

01 September 2012

Sota Crazy

A few days after I returned from SL,UT my sister and friend came for a weekend of Minnesota fun.  Yes, you can use those two words in the same sentence.  Minnesota can be fun.  Sometimes you have to work at it, but it is possible.  For those who have their doubts, let me take you on a little tour...

The first thing we did was head to Mall of America (no pictures).  These girls are shoppers and I had to take them to the most unholy of all unholy malls.  I personally think the MOA is hell with an amusement park in the middle, but Amy found a smashing deal on some neon pink shoes, so overall it was a huge success.  Next we hit up the 5-8 Club, a relic left over from prohibition.  They are the home of the Juicy Lucy...or what I like to call 'the meat ding-dong'.  It's a burger, full of cheese...as shown in this unflattering picture of Lori (sorry sis, the lighting was off and it's blurry)

A drippy cheese mess...high on the yum scale (if you like meat and cheese).

The next day we visited this:
 A very larger cherry spraying water on an even larger spoon and we visited this
 Greatest record store ever! It was established in 1969 and it's a huge hit for music lovers everywhere.

Up next:  The Great Minnesota Get Together (a.k.a. the state fair).  This was the real reason Lori and Amy came to town.  They'd heard about the absurdity of the state fair, and well folks...it didn't disappoint.  The beauty of going to the fair with a bunch of people is you get to sample a bunch of food you'd never pay for yourself.  Sit back and relax as you enjoy....

Crab fritters (gag, one should never eat seafood unless you can actually smell the ocean)
Spaghetti stick (like a pizza pocket full of cheese spaghetti...odd)
I have no idea who this is, but I was so happy he fanned my face that I gave him a kiss

 Why yes, I did wait in this really long line to score some toothpaste, one of the fair highlights if you ask me
 Random ugly sculpture
 Favorite visitors
 Deep fried cheese cake (not too bad)
 Gator on a stick (kind of spicy but not too bad) 
 Chocolate covered Belgian waffle (yum)
 Honey lemonade (best thing at the fair!)
 Pretty jars of honey...mmmmm
 A disturbing display of rare mushroom
 We really do need a drum roll here for what I'm about to show you.  A popular attraction at the fair is the seed art barn.  People actually do all kinds of amazing stuff with seeds...except during an election year 98% of it is political...I thought it was hilarious. 
 Mondale?  Really?  We're proud of that? 

This one took a lot of time, energy, and thought.  One of the best anti-marriage amendment signs I've ever seen.
 And then you have the other side of the argument...or a satire of the other side of the argument.  It's so hard to tell with passive aggressive Midwesterners what they're really trying to say
 Another against the amendment
 And one for Jesus
 And actual art
 And a little more hate
Whew...I was emotionally exhausted after I took all of those in.  But I still had time to take in some vintage seed bags
Although they also had a political agenda. 
After the never-ending political hoopla we needed some deep fried macaroni and cheese (surprisingly good)
 Oh, and chocolate chip cookies (that Kit was willing to battle the line to get for us)
We washed those down with all you could drink cups of milk
And then we headed to the birthing barn where there was an explosion of babies.  It started with geese
And chicks
then lambs (twins!)
 Then we saw a calf being born (I admit, I cried a little)
Then we saw 2 lambs being born...I won't post those pictures, birth is kind of gunky at times.  While the cow and sheep were popping out babies this mom was doing her own thing
 Whew...that's a lot of future bacon to feed.

Next we headed to the chicken coop...because chickens are hilarious

 Seriously, that first one looks like a mutant.  Now sure where the eggs pop out on that one.  

 Next to the chickens were the rabbits...I wanted to take this one home...and name him Phyllis Diller
 It was getting late but before we left we stumbled upon this little guy
What does one do with an 8 foot horse anyway?

Our final food of the fair...
 Deep fried pickles.  They were a HUGE disappointment.  I was so, so sad. 
 Saturday we got up, and were totally hung over from fair food.  So we drove 3 hours to Duluth, and stopped half way for a healthy breakfast from Tobies
 And by healthy I mean not
But it's tradition, and you can't skip tradition.

Duluth is one of my favorite cities ever.  And here's a few pics to show you why

They have boats
And water
And lighthouses
And you can go in the light house
And there's boat stuff
 And water
And cool trees
And rocks
And icy Lake Superior
And a pier
And you can wear stripes
And watch draw bridges
And it's almost like being near the ocean
I was obviously too picture out on Saturday to even take pictures on Sunday, but it was equally as amazing with a trip to the farm and an afternoon on the lake.

See, Minnesota can be fun.

If you don't believe me come visit and I'll prove it to you.