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Thursday, July 31, 2014


More than kisses, letters mingle souls.
~ John Donne
- - - - -

I have said it before and I will say it again (because I don't think you're listening) that writing letters is very important.  The tangible sharing of language is important.  It connects us in ways that we would otherwise be estranged from one another.  And we're already strange enough.

I think it is important to write well.  Clearly.  In a mechanically correct way.  Or at least as well as you are able.  Take some time and do it well.  Proofread even if you are typing your letter and the computer is checking it for you.

One time I learned that computers sometimes spellcheck penpal as "penal."  

Maybe that is them telling us to whom we should be writing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.
~ Anthony G. Oettinger
- - - - -

By the time this posts, I will have been gone from Iowa State for about 2 weeks.  I imagine it will be closed down by now.  I'm sorry, Cyclones.  Actually, that is an exaggeration.  I'm sure it will still be going along just fine.  Better than when I was there, maybe even.


Nah.  Not better.  Maybe just more efficiently.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I like stepping into the future.  Therefore, I look for doorknobs.
~ Mark Rosen
- - - - -

I wonder if you have to look for doorknobs to step into the past, as well.  Or do you leave those doors open so you can go back whenever you want?  Or do they lock so you can never go back?  I'm guessing it depends on the individual.  And the past.

Is it your own past?  Or are you going into someone else's history?  Even if those doors are open, are they yours to go through?  Sometimes people forget to post "No Trespassing" signs until someone has come in and vandalized them.

Of course this is literally not literal.  

I think you can go back any time you want, but it's kind of like a reverse butterfly effect.  Instead of doing one small thing and changing the future, you carry a vision with you that changes how you see your own past.  Once we have left a moment it becomes almost completely fiction.

Which is why I sometimes take creative liberties when I capture conversations or observations or events in this blog.  We all live revisionist history.  The creative approach I take just makes me a [re]visionary.

Plus, it's more fun this way.

Monday, July 28, 2014


In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!
~ Mehmet Murat ildan
- - - - -

When this blog posts, I will be in this place.  Canada.  At Bill's family's place.  I am so grateful that I got to go last year and so excited to go back again.  I will read for fun and will enjoy people and quiet and Sadie the dog and probably pick blueberries and go swimming and kayaking and all that stuff.

I'm not telling you this so that you will be jealous of me.  I know you are already jealous of me.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014



If we are good to people then we are reciprocated in the same manner but if we are bad to them then we will most obviously be paid in the same coin.
~ Atharva Veda
- - - - -

As I prepare to start at a new semester, I have been reflecting on how I have tried to help others adjust when they have joined an institution where I was and where  I had connections and knowledge.  I like helping people. 

Here is an example of a time I tried to help colleagues who were new to Iowa State with the benefits process at ISU.

Don't forget to ask for the following benefits (these are ones they won't give you unless you specifically ask):

1. Oat bran benefit (once a month breakfast delivered to your home).
2. Free staff tap dancing lessons every other Thursday.
3. Left earlobe dismemberment insurance.
4. Microchip implants so you don't get lost on campus.
5. Free fruitcake Fridays (if any holiday you celebrate falls on a Friday in December - you get a free fruitcake).
6. Pass to pet the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair.
7. Body art insurance (in case any tattoos or piercings are damaged in the process of performing your duties).
8. Free tickets to all ISU NCAA Baseball games.

If they act like they don't know what you're talking about, don't be afraid to get a little belligerent and start demanding what is rightfully yours.  They take that kind of behavior as an act of confidence and may even throw in the following free gifts:

1. Goose bite first aid kit.
2. Free Memorial Union bowling glove.
3. A copy of "How to Lose Your Minnesota Accent in Order to Survive and Thrive."
4. A one hour Sally Deters seminar on tape, "I Graduated from UNI and Now I am Working at ISU: How Do I Cope?"  NOTE:  This tape contains adult language and themes and should not be played in the presence of young children or people with heart conditions.

I hope no one tries to be helpful to me in the way I tried to be helpful to others.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Dogs are how people would be if the important stuff is all that mattered to us.
~ Ashly Lorenzana
- - - - -

I love that quote.  I think it is true.  Dogs show love and they play and they eat and they sleep and they get up and do it all over again. I guess the flip side is that cats are how people would be if disdain was all that mattered to us.


I bet the cats hate that I wrote that.  Which just goes to prove my point.  The only thing they would hate more is if I moved them off the computer to write it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


We have sat on the riverbank and caught catfish with pinhooks.  The time has come to harpoon a whale.
~ John Hope
- - - - -
I make a lot of lists.  Rarely are they "to do" lists.  More often they are "stuff I thought of" lists.  Sometimes I try to encourage others to participate.  For example when I made the "things that make a catfish angry" list.  I came up with these:
1. The school bully (fish travel in schools).
2. When someone tromples all the catfish nip in the garden.
3. Getting cut off in traffic.
4. Mimes
5. Ignorance
6. When people call it a "pond" when it's really a LAKE!
7. Hushpuppies
8. The huge amount of illiteracy in the world.
9. White shoes after Labor Day.
Then I asked for others to participate by adding their own responses.
Kim:  Cory
Since Kim was the first to respond, she was that day's HONORARY CATFISH.  She responded by writing, "First, I want to say thank you to all of my adoring fans..."
The next response was Kurt.
Kurt:  Acceptance speeches anger catfish and cold rainy Monday mornings.
Cory:  When people get their mullets chopped off.
Cory:  Flaky goldfish food.
Why does this matter?  Because catfish are a part of the circle of life, you fools!  Ah!!  I have so much to teach you still.


(photo by The Man)

Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby - awkwardly and often with a great deal of mess.
~ Lemony Snicket
- - - - -

I love it when people post photos of their dads on father's day or their moms on mother's day.  It is interesting to see which photos people choose and what stories they share.  I think the stories usually reveal more about the poster than the parent.  Which is true of most all of our stories, I believe.

Mostly I like it because I look at the photos and go, "OH.  So that's why that person turned out like that."

(Incidentally, Sunday is "Parents' Day" by the way.  I wasn't sure if that holiday existed, but it does.  I'm posting this now so you have notice to do something to - I mean FOR your parents on Sunday.  I'm sure this is  another holiday made up by parents to get themselves more gifts and attention.  Parents are so self-centered.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Love can be put off, never abandoned.
~ Sextus Propertius
- - - - -

I looked up a quote for "abandoned" or "abandonment."  A lot of them were really long.  I'm guessing that is why the people who wrote them felt abandoned.  They went on about it too much.  Nobody's got time for that.

Or maybe you are an old Long John Silver's restaurant and that is why you got abandoned.  

(I know that seems random, but that is what this is a photo of.  And also I don't like Long John Silver's restaurants).

And if the abandoned just hurriedly move to a new place to try and find a sense of belonging, well then they are abandon the run.


I feel like I should apologize for this blog.  I'm not sure it's my best work.  


Nah.  It's fine.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.
~ Heraclitus
- - - - -

I believe this.  I believe in looking and listening for unexpected things.  I believe in creative connections between things you would not usually connect.  I believe humor is found in the contrast as well as the unusual similarities - both of which are often unexpectedly stumbled upon.

We laugh.  Then we think for a minute and realize, "That is actually true."  Truth is at the root of humor.  I think.  

Truth and fear.  We laugh a lot at things we fear.  Sometimes appropriately.  Sometimes horrifically inappropriately.

For example, I read about "the world's largest underground trampoline" being in some cave somewhere.  It made me laugh.  Not that there was a trampoline in a cave, but that there is more than one and they are competitive enough to want to have the LARGEST trampoline underground.

I hope the ceilings are high.  And there aren't stalactites or stalagmites.  Or bats.  Or bat guano.  I'd hate to slip on bat guano and slide off the edge of a trampoline.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Big results require big ambitions.
~ Heraclitus
- - - - -

I like this photo.  It's reminds me of those apps where you can randomly add a horse or a cat into a photo.  Except in this case you can add a wind turbine.  But that's not what I did.  I just took this picture.  I think it captures that wind is big.  Or maybe that the sky is big.  Or clouds.  Clouds can also be big.

We are small.  But sometimes even small people see big things.  So don't squash them.  Because you might be squashing big ideas.  

Like what if you squashed the dream of the person who dreamt up Big Bird. (pause)  Please understand that is only one example.  There are others.  Maybe even better ones.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.
~ Deepak Chopra
- - - - -

If the above is true, then who is the spider?  God?  Nature?  Or maybe the shared sense of humanity?  Maybe all the strands combine to support us all?

And who is the fly?  McDonald's?  I hope not.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I think the extent to which I have any balance at all, any mental balance, is because of being a farm kid and being raised in those isolated rural areas.
~ James Earl Jones

- - - - -
The other day I was listening to the radio.  That is not the point of this post.  You need to be a little patient.

Anyway, I heard about Slenderman.  It wasn't the first I had heard of him.  When I first heard about him, I looked up information on him.  At bedtime.  Which was stupid.

Then this morning they did a story about the return of the milkman.  I guess people want their milk and dairy directly from the milkman instead of it being shipped to the store.  

Then I thought how Slenderman would make a good milkman.  Creepy and threatening-to-the-community, but probably pretty efficient.  But he might only deliver skim milk.

And then I thought, "Should it be milk person?"  

The more information and answers we get, the more questions we have.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Find joy in everything you choose to do.  Every job, relationship, home...  It is your responsibility to love it, or change it.
~ Chuck Palahniuk
- - - - -

So I took some quiz online that told me what colors represent me.  Then, based on those colors, it told me which jobs I should have.  The jobs included the following:

* banking and finance
* religious music
* stockbroker
* science education
* business administration and management
* fire protection / fire control and safety technician
* nuclear medical technology
* applied mathematics
* mathematics education
* biology
* accountants and auditors

Um, no.

If that is the structure provided, then I guess I am coloring outside the lines.  In fact, I'm probably coloring outside of the coloring book and drawing on the wall somewhere.

Except that "corrections" was also on the list.  So maybe I wouldn't do that.  Or maybe I just wouldn't get caught.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it's more dangerous to lose than to win.
~ George Bernard Shaw
- - - - -

Battle's Bar-B-Que is the best bbq in Ames.  I know that is sacreligious to those who love another barbecue place in Ames, but it is my truth.  Not only is the bar-b-que better, but they have the best lemonade in town.

Now, I'm not going to argue with everyone who disagrees. Everyone is entitled to his or her (or my) opinion.  There are some things I would choose to debate at length, but this isn't one of those things.  I'll discuss it in a civilized way - or will try to - but I'm not going to argue and argue and get into a fistfight over it.

I know how to choose my Battle's.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The best thing about endings is knowing that just ahead is the daunting task to start over.
~ Jodi Picoult
- - - - -

So, I'm done at Iowa State.  Notice that I did not say that I'm done WITH Iowa State.  Such is not the case.  Between the people here about whom I care and the institution which helped to shape who I am, I will always have a connection here.

But not like an umbilical cord connection.  That would be freaky.  Why would that even come to your mind?  Weirdo.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


At a round table, every seat is the head place.
~ German Proverb
- - - - -

I like that quote.  And I have been to very few meetings at round tables.  I'm not a knight.  

When I go to meetings, I like to be in a corner seat.  Not at the end, but at a corner so I have a little elbow room.  Is it also so I can hide and maybe take notes unrelated to what we're discussing or to check my phone or to be a distraction to others?  No.  

It's because...  No.  Wait.  Yes.  Yes, that is why I like the corner seat.

Monday, July 14, 2014


One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
- - - - -

This is my last Monday working in Iowa.  At least for now.  

I have had a great time here.  And people have had a great time with me.  Just ask them.  Well, ask most of them.  There are always a few outliers.  And there are always a few who really enjoyed their time with me, but tell people they didn't.

They are outliars.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.
~ William Shakespeare

- - - - -

I would love it if this store was a book store.  Or a place where people would gather to tell stories.  I would not like it if it was a combination book / storytelling and knitting shop.  I think all the knitters would hog the chairs and some people who are reading books and listening to stories want to sit down, too.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


If you have a good sense of humor and a good approach to life, that's beautiful.
~ Rashida Jones
- - - - -

My friend Sara has a very good sense of humor.  I (and many others) put her through a rigorous "Sara likes cats" harassment regimen a while ago.  We have since mostly stopped.  Sara does not particularly like cats.  I don't know how cats feel about her because I haven't researched that and I don't know cat language.  

My point is that I appreciate people who can tolerate other people who sometimes get carried away and who can laugh at themselves without being catty.  

I also think this picture Sara drew is very pretty.  Except she didn't draw it.  I bet a fashion student did.  Clearly they were making a catwalk.


I'm sorry, Sara.  This post is a catastrophe.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Nature does nothing uselessly.
~ Aristotle
- - - - -
Nature does seem to have a way of providing more and more and more until it stops and says, "That is enough."  Then it stops.  It folds in upon itself to wait until it is time for another season of more.  It does not leave us wanting in the moment, but gives us enough time to enjoy what we have been given.  And to think back when it has been gone for a while.  And then to want.

And then the world provides us more.  Because the world is ready to do that.

Kind of like Netflix shows.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.
~ Marcus Aurelius
- - - - -

So, I have been working on organizing my email from the past 12 years.  And my files online.  And all the stuff one accumulates over time.

I went to my computer folders and was looking at what to keep and what to get rid of.  There was one I had labeled, "Nice Thoughts from People."  I thought, "Those are things I will want to keep."  

Then I went to open it.  It was empty.

I play funny tricks on myself sometimes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est.
~ Ludwig van Beethoven
- - - - -

Kirk and I had the following text exchange about a week before he got married.

Kirk: Will do a roast of us at our wedding?

Me:  Do you mean a "toast"?

Kirk:  No.  A roast.

Me:  How many hours do I have?

Kirk:  We're telling people 2-5 minutes, but you can take as long as you want.

Me:  Okay.

Leslie called it a "troast" - a combination of a toast and a roast.

I did two troasts.  I did in the form of a letter from their dog expressing his resentment at not being allowed at the wedding.  The other one was from me observing how nice Jared was and how Kirk ruined my 12th birthday, but I wouldn't ruin his wedding.

Afterward a few people told me that I did a nice job.  Which was nice to hear.  I actually had worked pretty hard on my comments since I wanted to do a good job for their wedding.  Because you know the saying, "Bad toast, bad wedding."  

Anyway, one woman came up and said, "You know - you're just as funny as that Paula Poundstone!"  That was a compliment no one had ever given me before.

And another woman added, "You're funny enough that you could be on NPR."

That is the best compliment I have ever gotten.

Look out Nina Totenberg.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Who can't relate to leaving one chapter behind and moving on to the next?
~ Mike Shinoda
- - - - -

In getting ready for my move from Iowa to South Carolina, I have been doing a lot of reflection.  Thinking about things I did well and things I did REALLY well and even the things I did exceptionally well.  

In the process, I have gone through files and notebooks (not all of my notebooks - there is no time for that.  I'll leave it to my future biographers.) and I have found some interesting things.  

I found one small notebook from when I was the hall director in Martin Hall.  The building next door - Eaton - was substance free.  In my notebook, I wrote the following:

"In Eaton there is no beer...  that's why we drink it here!"  

The quote was followed by the notation, "(bad house shirt ideas)."

I'm not sure if it was my idea or not, but I'm glad it wasn't a house shirt when I was the hall director.  Now, from a distance, it seems like it would be a very clever shirt idea.

It's funny how time changes one's perspective.  Well, time and shifting responsibilities.

Monday, July 7, 2014


If something is not special, it's ordinary.
~ Nora Ephron
- - - - -

You never know what is going to happen.  You wake up and you don't know what your day is going to hold.  You can approach each day - each moment! - from a place of fear - fear of the unknown and things you cannot control or predict.   Or you can approach your time from a place of anticipation and excitement and wonder.

It's up to you.

You can mix it up, as well.  I like to think that I try to start each day enthusiastically.  Well, most days.  Well, most Saturdays.  But there are some days I wake up with a sense of foreboding.  It is usually from inside of me - usually inside of my head.  

I can tell you this...  If I ever wake up and in my head I hear a narrator's voice and the narrator says, "Today, on a very special episode of Michelle Boettcher..."  I'm going to cancel everything and call in sick.  Because I know how that goes.  They call it "a very special episode," but what it really means is that something bad and traumatic is going to happen.  

Though, I will admit, if it was an actual TV show called, "Michelle Boettcher" and not my life, I would watch it.  Because I love that show.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


(photo by Maddie Fowler)

Our culture made a virtue only of living as extroverts.  We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center.  So we lost our center and have to find it again.
~ Anais Nin
- - - - -

There are lots of things out there about how to engage with introverts.  Books about the value of introverts.  Messages about how introverts make good leaders.  Strategies for creating environments where introverts can thrive.  

That's nice.

The other day I saw a post about "15 Things Introverts Would Never Tell You."

Know what?  Introverts would never tell you anything.

They're introverts.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.
~ Henry David Thoreau
- - - - -

I like fishing.  It is a lot like just sitting around doing nothing without the social stigma that comes with sitting around and doing nothing.

Friday, July 4, 2014


You are born an artist or you are not.  And you stay an artist, dear, even if your voice is less of a fireworks.  The artist is always there.
~ Maria Callas
- - - - -

It seems to me that a lot of times we try to replicate nature (unsuccessfully) in bigger and louder ways.  I generally don't like things louder.  I'd rather pay a little attention instead.  Or a lot of attention.  Plus, the quiet gives me some time to think.

And anyone who knows me knows I need as much of that as I can get.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


(photo by - not sure.  not me.  I think maybe Kurt Earnest)

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~ Walt Disney
- - - - -

I am going to be moving soon.  I am going to be traveling to South Carolina to find where I will be living soon.  I think I have some options about a place to live.

So, I walked into Sara Kellogg's office and said, "I know you've been really stressed out about me finding a place to live.  Just so you know, I think I have found some possibilities."

Without hesitating she said, "Good.  If you go in to tour a place and you see a giant rat sitting in a chair, don't rent that place."

I said, "A human being in a rat suit or a real rat?"

She paused momentarily, then said, "Well, either.  But if I walked in to a place and saw a person in a rat suit sitting in a chair, I might run screaming from that place.  A real rat and I'd probably say, 'Ew.  Gross,' but a person in a rat suit would be much scarier."

I included the photo above not because Ryan is a rat.  It is just a photo I have with both Sara and I.  And Ryan.  And, for the record, I don't think Ryan would - were he to dress up in an animal costume - dress up as a rat.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


I believe that any violation of privacy is nothing good.
~ Lech Walesa
- - - - -

I saw this sign in a bathroom.  I wanted to take a picture of it (you can see that I did).  I am always uncomfortable, though, when I see a sign in the bathroom I want to take a picture of.  I am not a huge proponent of taking pictures of things in bathrooms, but sometimes I do it.  For the record, I do not believe that 299 persons would have fit into that bathroom.  As if privacy was not enough of an issue with me with my camera phone, there would have been NO privacy with 298 other people in there.

The other day, I emailed Sara and asked if she had a moment.

Sara:  I just finished lunch.  I will run to the restroom and come find you.

Me:  I'm not in the restroom.  (pause)  I hide better places than that.

And if, for some reason I had been in the restroom, I can think of no reason - other than maybe some sort of medical emergency - that I would ever need Sara (or anyone else) to RUN and come find me there.  Sometimes she takes her work a little too seriously.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -

So when I was looking up a quotation to go with this photo, it took me a little while.  Most quotes about "stop" have to do with NOT stopping.  Don't stop.  Keep going.  Never stop.  Etc.

I think persistence is great and all, but there are times when you should stop.  Like when you tell the same joke over and over again.  Stop doing that.  Or when you yell at everyone you know.  Stop doing that.  Or when you catch on fire.  The first thing you should do is stop.  And if you can go back in time, stop doing whatever it is you were doing before you caught on fire.