/ˈabˌstrakt/ 1. (n.) a summary of the contents of a book, article, or formal speech. 2. (adj.) existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence. My mind operates on both planes.
Do you happen to know one of those families for whom catastrophes always seem to follow them on vacation? Perhaps that family is your family?
My family is also that family. When my parents, aunt, uncle, cousins, and myself end up in the same location long enough, all bets are off.
Prior to a Disney World trip in 2009, we made those stereotypical family vacation T-shirts. Ours displayed a nice picture of our happy, smiling faces on the front, then chronicled all of the crazy calamities we’ve encountered on the back. To give a sliver of representation, we’ve been evacuated off of theme park rides. We once stayed in a hotel where a shooting occurred next door overnight. At the age of four, I was scarred for life when we were ushered out of a fast food restaurant in Dallas because of a suspected gas leak. In a single fateful camping trip, in which we survived a slippery mountain hike in the rain and a near raccoon invasion, I additionally sprained a finger, got the second-worst sunburn of my life, and narrowly avoided a deer attack.
Particularly, however, we’ve had some interesting run-ins with the weather. I didn’t know what a camping trip without rain was like until I was 19. My lovely family has been evacuated from a state park due to flooding . . . and that wasn’t even the trip where we weathered a tropical storm.
In a biomedical science PhD program, there are three scary tests: your written qualifying exam, your oral qualifying exam, and your thesis defense.
I have successfully completed two of the three, as I soldier on toward graduation. My oral quals were completed a year ago yesterday. As you might be able to imagine, preparation is no walk in the park. You have to write a full proposal for your project, in the style of a grant, and defend your rationale and background knowledge to a committee in a grueling two-hour battle. For something like that, you need some solid music. Fortunately, my favorite musical artist had recently released an instrumental version of my favorite album of his. If I listened to that album in order, on Spotify, the automatic next album was a cover album, and I usually just let it go.
Raise your hand if you’ve fallen victim to the escape room craze.
…Yeah, me too. I can’t even pretend that, if I had more disposable income, I wouldn’t be a total escape room junkie. In my defense, however, I’ve been groomed for this. Before there were escape rooms in real life, there were escape room games online. And before there were escape games online, there was an explosion of PC escape games on CD-ROM.
Texas gets a little dramatic when it comes to snow.
In their defense, they don’t have the infrastructure to handle it. No plows. No salt trucks. No instructions on how to drive. Half an inch of snow, or a nice ice storm, usually incapacitates most of the south. Northerners tend to laugh at these stories all the way down the driveway pushing their snowblowers.
And as a Texan-turned-Minnesotan, I get a very particular laugh at my old self– especially my dramatic teenage self– and how she once thought about the snow.