Coke Spies

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It’s known to all of my close friends and family that I am a Coca-Cola addict (from here on out, I claim the right to use “Coke” without the obvious drug joke! Get your laughs out now!) I frequently tell people that quite literally owe the delicious soda my life. You see, my parents both worked for and met at the Coke Company Headquarters in Atlanta, GA (where I was born and raised). It was only recently that I discovered what exactly they did at the company, and boy was it an amazing story!

Immediately after graduating college, my parents, both free of any real commitment, moved to Atlanta to work at Coke. However, they weren’t in the city for long. Coca-Cola was looking to investigate several establishments across the U.S. for misuse of the brand name. If someone were to ask for a Coke at a restaurant, but they were served another cola product, that’s illegal! My parents were given a company car and drove all over America to flesh out these investigations. COKE SPIES!

Here’s a typical day-in-the-life of a Coke Spy: they would arrive at a bar or restaurant, usually with a newspaper in tow, and immediately ordered a coke. Then, using the newspaper as a shield, they poured some of the coke into a plastic bag and put it away. They would usually linger at the establishment for a bit, then head back to their hotel. There they would have test tubes at the ready for the cola samples. After pouring the Coke into the tubes, they would mail it back to headquarters. If the results came back negative (not Coke), then they would have to go back to the establishment with a corporate representative and tell them that they were being sued by the Coke Company unless they took immediate action.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why waiters and waitresses have to say “Is Pepsi okay?”.

Is that not an amazing story? For 50 weeks of the year, my parents would roam the country, expenses paid, and tasted Coke for a living. This is essentially my dream job. If it were still available, I would do it in a millisecond. Wouldn’t you?

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UCWbL Forever

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Today is my last day working at the DePaul University Center for Writing-based Learning, fondly known as the UCWbL. Little did I know how such a strange acronym would make such a large impact on my life.

I’ve been at the UCWbL for three years and have worn many hats. It’s is a place where writers can come to get assistance from tutors. It’s a place where English Language Learners can come to have a friendly, patient chat in English. It’s a place where coworkers can collaborate on things that are important to them. Most importantly, though, it’s a place where you can listen and be listened to. I’ve come to appreciate that in more ways than one.

I’ve also made so many wonderful friends here, some of them I imagine I’ll keep for a very long time. It will be odd not to see them everyday, to crack jokes, to whine about citation styles or mandatory meetings, or to sit on the ancient yellow couch in the back room and just talk.

Leaving a place that I’ve often called my second home will be hard (seriously, I’ve tried to open the office with my apartment keys before). It’s not so much the absence of the UCWbL, but the metamorphosis that is happening right under my nose. I had an opportunity to stay here, if I had joined a graduate program and continued my student status. But I chose to stroll down a different path for a while. At neuroses would have it, I’ve always wondered if I made the right decision.  There’s a lot of change happening in the next few weeks. I move to my new studio next week, and I start my new job in two weeks. My roommates of two and four years are moving. And, as one of my coworkers and friends said this morning, “I felt the seasons change. I felt an autumn breeze.”

Then I thought back to one of my favorite shows, Sex and the City (I know, I know, get over it. It’s fantastic!). At the end of Season 4, Carrie & the gang go through a plethora of changes in their lives. My friend’s words reminded me of a quote that I hold dear:

“Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course we wouldn’t fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are. After all, seasons change. So do cites. People come into your life and people go. But it’s comforting to know that the ones you love are always in your heart. And if you’re very lucky, a plane ride away.”

I consider myself very lucky. Thanks, UCWbLers. I won’t be able to lift a pen without thinking of you guys. All my love.

Pictures from the DePaul UCWbL Flickr page

If you’re a DePaul student or alum, you can always and forever visit the Writing Center for free! Check it out!

Genealogy Kick

Recently I found that Ancestry.com has a two-week free trial going on right now. I’ve always been curious about my family. I’ve been told stories, but much like the game of telephone, I’ve always wondered whether or not those words were the truth. So, I got myself a temporary account.

It’s exhausting but fun to create your family tree! The website finds “hints” (little green leaves) for each person you add to their tree. These hints are documents or other trees that may be related to your family member. Then you find out who their parents were, and their parents’ parents, etc…it’s fascinating.

Sometimes, though, you can hit a dead end with a family member who has scant information available about them. The farthest I’ve gotten so far is on my mom’s mother’s side. I got all the way back to the 1600s! And guess what I discovered?

I have ancestors that were on the MAYFLOWER! Turns out that Samuel Fuller, a pilgrim, is my 7th great-grandfather. Be still, my historically-inclined heart. We’re old stock! Now all I want to do is visit Plymouth and find my ancestors’ graves.

I only have about 9 more days with my free trial, so I’m still searching fervently. Anyone who has a bit of free time and a lot of curiosity about their roots should definitely try it out!

Fowl With Pearls

I just saw this article on Buzzfeed about living like Amelie. Like many other ladies before me, I am a fan of this movie. Once I saw that the artwork in number three was available, I immediately ordered the “Fowl With Pearls” print online for my new apartment. What better stylistic motivation than a whimsical, dreamy French girl and her quaint Parisian apartment? Although I don’t think I could ever bring myself to cut my hair like hers. I’m not twee enough.

Check out Michael Sowa’s collection for more inspiration! (Fun fact: the art print is on sale!)

Wanderlusting After Cork

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Recently a good friend of mine up and moved to Dublin, Ireland. No apartment, no job, no friends in the country; she just decided to spend a year there. While I’m happy with where I’m at in my life right now, I find myself insanely jealous!

I adore Ireland. A little less than two years ago, I was studying abroad in Madrid, and was hopping around Europe as much as I could while I was there. My ancestry lies heavily in Ireland, and I’m very proud of my heritage. In December of 2011, I grabbed three of my friends and we went on an adventure through the UK. We started in Manchester, England, then went to London, then to Cork, Ireland, and finished up in Dublin. I must say, though, that Cork was probably my favorite part of the trip.

It instantly confirmed everything that I had imagined about Ireland: green, friendly, and quaint (by day, at least). By night, the small pubs were brimming with workers and traditional sing-song. Blarney Castle was only thirty minutes away, where we ventured around medieval fields and became eloquent by kissing the Blarney Stone! I ate it right up. Cork was just small enough to feel like it was an undiscovered gem, but also big enough for us to continually explore. Not to mention that, according to my genealogically-inclined uncle, our ancestors were mainly stationed in County Cork. I felt as though I was getting a glimpse at my family’s history, which I adored. I also adored that the Irish didn’t believe me when I told them what my name was 🙂

I’ve always thought that I may move to Ireland one day, if only for a little while. …Okay, it’s actually my dream. For now, though, I’ll just hope to visit my friend sometime in the next year (and keep the dream alive)!

Karma Police

A quote for crabby Mondays. One of the things I’m working on is trying not to let my bad moods be toxic. If I’m crabby, I unconsciously try to make others crabby so I don’t feel left out. I’m getting better, though, by keeping a karma-like attitude on me at all times.

Not sure I “believe” in karma per se, but I do believe that bitterness is like a disease that others can easily catch. Whenever I’m in a foul mood, I take some “me” time to decompress. Don’t go to bed angry? False! Totally go to bed angry! It’s surprising what sleep or even a nap can do to level your emotions. I also try to think of my loved ones more carefully. They don’t deserve to deal with my random irritability that will likely soon dissipate. Remember: you don’t have to look or be chipper (god knows its hard sometimes), but try to be nice!

Also, you all should know this about me upfront: I’m a hardcore Radiohead fan. Thom Yorke is my idol. I have an assortment of  memorabilia in my room, including Yorke’s autograph (I met him after a show once)! Anyways, my title was of course inspired by the Radiohead song of the same name. It’s accompanied by a pretty interesting music video, which is available for your viewing pleasure below.

I say this with trepidation, but: Happy Monday!

Sandwich Mondays

A recent highlight of my Mondays (even though I don’t work on Mondays right now, so I can’t complain) is NPR’s “Sandwich Monday”. It’s from the hilarious people who bring you “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”, and the posts are no less funny than the radio show. By the way, if you’ve never listened to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”, you should get on that right away. It’s a news quiz show that’s recorded live right here in Chicago, but with a comedic twist. They have quirky guest contestants, often macro and micro celebrities. You’ll laugh and you’ll learn something. I’m a recent convert and I can’t believe I never listened before!

Anyways, since the show is mainly stationed in Chicago, a lot of these sandwiches can be found around town, which I think is pretty cool. I always laugh out loud (I can’t bear to type LOL, sry ppl)! My favorite post so far is about something called gravy bread, pictured in all of its soggy glory above. Check it out and have a chuckle.

Here’s the official page with all Sandwich Monday posts and where you can find “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” podcasts.

Photo from NPR.