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Saturday, December 31, 2011


It's technically Saturday, but I'm counting this as Friday's post because I haven't gone to bed yet.

Betsy, Leah, the brother, and I did pizza and games this evening.

Have you played Whoonu? People choose cards, and then you have to rank the cards by how much you like what's listed on them, and people get points based on how highly you rank their cards. 

But these kiddos obviously know me too well because they gave me chocolate cake, surprise parties, celebrity gossip, reality TV, and weddings in the same round. How do I rank those? 

Another round I had to rank road trips, pepperonis, bicycling, convertibles, the internet, and air-conditioning. HELLO!? I love all of those things.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Came across these illustrations by Graham Roumieu in the newest Real Simple.
(I've been saying that a lot lately, huh?)

They sort of reminded me of myself. Oops. 

Communication theorists like to talk about self-disclosure a lot. They talk about what causes people to self-disclose, what causes people not to self-disclose, why some people self-disclose more than others, etc. In general, self-disclosure is reciprocal. People self-disclose back and forth like they're playing ping pong. The internet changes everything, though. You can sort of self-disclose to no end, whether or not there's someone on the other side self-disclosing in response.

Sometimes when I read my own blog posts, especially old ones that I've forgotten writing, I am startled by how much I've self-disclosed. So many of my thoughts are just on the internet. For the world

(Not that many people are reading this blog, obvs. But some people are. You, for example.)

All this to say, I'm not exactly sure how much online self-disclosure is too much. If you know, clue me in. I aim to stop short of too much, but I know that sometimes I probably sprint right past it. In those instances, please know that I'm learning.

And in return for your understanding, I promise not to tell you about the time I threw up on the school bus in third grade. (It was not one of my most elegant moments.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Have & To Hold

At any given moment, I try to be aware of which celebrity I would choose if I had to marry a celebrity. (It's important that I always know the answer to this question because, frankly, so many celebrities are trying to marry me.)

Just kidding. (About the second sentence. The first one is totes true.)

I suppose I try to be aware of my choice because I so frequently ask my friends whom they would choose. (Also, it's sort of an outgrowth of my general love of celebrities.) I particularly like to ask my guy friends, but I have a tendency to lambast their choices. Really? You all want to marry Natalie Portman? Really?

For approximately five and a half years of my life (2003-2008), the celebrity I would have chosen was Clay Aiken. He had this cute North Carolina accent, and he was a Christian, and he was totes smart, and he could sing like an angel sent from the heavens above. Also, his hair was pretty awesome. And sometimes he wore glasses. And he was totes hilar. He was 24 when I, age 14, first felt in love with him, which posed some logistical issues, but, you know, nothing that like four years of waiting wouldn't solve.

Then Clay came out, and my world crumbled. Just kidding. It didn't crumble. Unless getting a whole lot of I-told-you-so phone calls and then having to rewrite your entire life plan counts as having your world crumble. In which case it did.

So I have not really had an excellent celebrity husband choice since 2008. I present you with a few of my favorite celebrity options:

The problem is these guys aren't actually viable options. They're either not Christians, too old, too married, too Mormon, or too dead. (#toosoon?)

I've decided recently, however, that the celebrity I would choose is Adam Young, a.k.a. the guy from Owl City.

He totes loves Jesus, his lyrics are creative and sweet, he's adorbs, and his tweets have me convinced that we're a perfect match. He could even wear that outfit to our wedding. I would be all about that. Your move, Adam Young, your move.

Which celeb would you marry?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cabin Fever

I've been feeling super cooped up today.

My cabin fever doesn't look nearly this cutesy, by the way.
This is like the Pottery Barn version of cabin fever. 

All semester I've longed for a break to lounge around and read blogs and shirk responsibility. But I'm kind of lounged out. I'm antsy now. I want to go somewhere or do something.

I haven't seen the girlies much since Secret Santa. They are all:
  • out of town for the holidays
  • entertaining relatives who are in for the holidays
  • working like the adults that they are may or may not be
  • with their husbands

SCRATCH THIS BLOG. Kristina just called! She has been entertaining relatives who are in for the holidays, but now she is going to entertain me. Human interaction is calling my name, kiddos. Talk to you tomorrow. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Paranoid Parrot

So after looking at waaay too many Paranoid Parrot pictures yesterday, I have become fairly paranoid certain that I am the Paranoid Parrot. I identify with all of these. Do you worry about any of these things, too?

Forewarning: Visual overload. Not trying to hypnotize you guys or anything. (OR AM I? #paranoidparrot)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Eve Message

From me and Clay Aiken (who will always have part of my heart).


Listen to the note he holds at 2:07. LISTEN TO IT.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Here's some advice: Stay alive.

So I'm halfway through Catching Fire and getting way too excited about the Hunger Games movies. 

I'm already mentally preparing for the midnight showing. (Better keep my hair long enough for a side braid, right?)

At this point in the books, I can't figure out if I'm Team Peeta or Team Gale, but I totally love the casting choices for both boys and Katniss. (And Haymitch and Cinna and Effie and Caesar, etc.) 

1, 2, 3

I'm especially excited because the trailers make the movie look pretty true to the book and because the music is going to be awesome.  


Listen to this Taylor Swift song from the movie! (Courtesy of Keith.)
I bet they will put it in the credits. [I think this Willow Smith song would also be fitting, though not the right tone. (I can practically see a fanvid to that song with clips of Katniss in her fiery dress!)]

Have you read or listened to the books?
Do you think the movies will do them justice?

p.s. I can't remember who told me this, but apparently Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins also wrote Clarissa Explains It All. Weird, right?


when it's December 22 and you still haven't bought presents for any of your family members... 

I am not a procrastinator by nature. I don't like working in crunch time. But when it comes to picking out presents, I'm always behind schedule. I never think about finding presents until the week of Christmas (or birthdays, etc.), and I rarely feel like the things I've picked for people are any good.

Occasionally I'll find something that reminds me of a specific friend or family member, so I'll snatch it up to save for the right occasion, but I almost never find good presents when I go hunting for them.

A year or two ago, I took a love languages assessment, and, low and behold, I found that gifts are the way I'm least inclined to show and receive love. Suddenly it all made sense! This is why I need my family members to write their Christmas lists but I never want to write my own.

{my love language results}

Being aware of the various love languages has also helped me to understand how to show love to my friends better. Some need hugs, and some need help, and some just need to hang out. Do you know what your love languages are?

p.s. I did end up purchasing two gifts for family members tonight! #success

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Self-Worth in a Can

Came across these cute and telling illustrations by Mikey Burton in the January Real Simple.

They were featured in an article about debt, but I think they also serve as a commentary about advertising, marketing and the promises attached to products.

All ads appeal to needs of some sort — emotional needs or physiological needs, etc. And that's not a bad thing. Products can fulfill a lot of our needs. But they'll never provide a lasting or healthy sense of self-worth, happiness or accomplishment. 

Sometimes I get surprised looks when I tell people I'm studying advertising. [I'm studying strategic communication officially, but that takes a lot longer to explain (especially because my actual degree is in journalism). It's confusing, so sometimes I just say advertising.] People have this idea that advertisers as a whole are engaged in deception and manipulation. But I think that good advertising, like good writing, is always focused on conveying truth.

I turned on the radio yesterday during a McDonald's commercial. The narrator, waxing poetic about the merits of the Big Mac, ended with the line, "The simple joy of complete fulfillment." 

I was reminded of these illustrations. I can imagine a fourth, a paper bag with all-caps sans-serif text proclaiming its contents will provide COMPLETE FULFILLMENT. I'd like to give the writers of that McDonald's commercial the benefit of the doubt. I'd like to believe they simply mixed up the words "fullness" and "fulfillment." A Big Mac can most certainly provide complete fullness, but complete fulfillment doesn't come with special sauce and a side of fries (either way you read it).

If I ever end up working as a copywriter, I hope you never come across one of my pieces and find I've suggested a product will provide what only Jesus can. I wish I could add an asterisk to all my copy: *Everyone who drinks this water [or eats this Big Mac or wears these shoes or owns this phone] will be thirsty again.

"...but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” — John 4:13

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Secret Santa

Remember how I was going to blog every day over break? Well, I'm at Secret Santa, a.k.a. my fave day of the year. Chillin' with my grills if you known what I mean. So this is the post for today. And here are a couple of pics from the night so far for good measure.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Break To-Do List

1. See my girls.
Got to soak up all the minutes I can with these lovely ladies.
(Especially now that a third of them are off and married. #whendidwegetsoold)
Can't wait for our annual Secret Santa party tomorrow! (I'm bringing a cheetah Snuggie. Don't tell.) 

2. Catch up on blogs. 
Wedding blogs, design blogs, Mormon mommy blogs, your blogs, etc.

3. Make an excessive number of trips to the mall.
Also, eat an excessive number of giant pretzels. 

4. Pin things to Pinterest. 
Things I want cook. Ways I want to do my hair. Babies I want to eat squeeze.
Neville (always Neville). Places I want to live. Clothes I want to wear. Et cetera. (Pin with me!)

5. Design.
I have six empty frames in my Missouri bedroom, and I'd like to fill them with some prettified Bible verses or lyrics. What are your faves? Please share in the comments. 

6. Design some more. 
I want to do more of these type portraits. And I want to figure out a way to print them nicely. 

6. Update ze blog & ze portfolio.
I always get the hankering to update the layout over breaks. (And I'm still not satisfied with my thought bubble picture.) And I'm going to try to post every day. Look at me go.

7. Watch my shows.
Revenge. Pretty Little Liars. THE BACHELOR.
The most dramatic season yet. (Always the most dramatic season yet.) What are you watching lately?

8. Elliptical!
(I made it a verb.) ENDORPHINS.

9. Read. 
Maybe I will finally finish Sense and Sensibility or The Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe I'll just curl up in my bed and listen to the rest of Catching Fire. That counts as reading, right? Any other books you'd suggest for mental-break reading? I've also thought about picking up Bossypants or Mindy Kaling's new book. 

What Christmas break activities am I forgetting?
What will you be doing during break? 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Twenty-Five Percent

If grad school were a mile, I'd already be once around the track.

This thought makes me feel somewhat accomplished and somewhat sad.
I just started, didn't I?

p.s. Doesn't this look like the coolest track ever? I don't think it exists, but I wish it did.

p.p.s. Melissa recently brought it to my attention that I quantify everything. I hadn't thought about this before, but she is totally right. I make up fractions and percentages and use them to make sense of the world. I haven't run track in ages, but I still make sense of progress by comparing it to distance travelled on a rubbery red oval.

p.p.p.s. Thinking about setting a Christmas break goal to blog every day. This might be too daunting a task, but it might finally get me back into blogging on a regular basis. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Make way! Here he comes! Ring bells! Bang the drums!

(♪ Are you gonna love this guy! )

My brother, Jack, is flying to Missouri on Thursday to hang for a little bit and then make the drive back to Kentucky with me. This video pretty much sums up how I feel about it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Writing Woes

Over Thanksgiving break I kept getting asked how grad school compared to undergrad, and I kept saying that it was more of the same — by which I meant, the work is not more difficult than that of undergrad, but there's more of it.

I feel like all I do is write. Write write write. I design a good bit, too, but that's not nearly as mentally draining. For the most part, I research, read, research, read, write, write, write, write, write. 

And yesterday while I was walking across campus and thinking about linking verbs — because that is the type of thing that I, Kate Brannen, think about — I remembered a paper that I wrote about writing during my senior year of high school.

Here is an excerpt from the middle: 
I always feel a blockage when I begin an essay. Something hinders me from putting ideas into words. Writing an essay is hard. For instance, just then I had to pick a word. I used “hard,” for this example, but my brain was throwing so many other words at me. Painstaking. That came to mind. Grueling. That, too. Time-consuming. Exhausting. Frustrating. Oh, which do I choose? Which do I mean?
Also, that linking verb begs to be replaced. Sure, writing is hard, is painstaking, is grueling. But can I say, “Writing painstakes?” “Writing gruels?” No, I think not. And therein lies the dilemma. To write, I must grapple and battle with words until they say what I mean, and, all too often, I am unsure of what it is I mean.  
So I write and rewrite and type and delete and cut and paste and stop and cry, and after all that, I have my rough draft. My oh-so-rough draft.
I've been feeling this way a lot these days. I'm so tired of writing. Sick of it, really. My brain hurts. My eyes hurt. My soul hurts.

Just kidding. My soul doesn't hurt. I couldn't think of a third thing, but I've been trained to list in threes.

It doesn't make sense that my remedy for being sick of writing is to write about it. It's like writing and I are in an abusive relationship. Writing totally beats me up, but I always go back to it because ... I just love it. I love it recklessly and irrationally in a way that makes my coexistent hate for it all the greater. I think there's an Eminem feat. Rihanna song about it.

Maybe I love writing for the same reasons that I love/d running, though to a lesser extent. I love it despite the fact that it's hard and because of the fact that it's hard.

And I suppose I write all this to say sorry that I've been totes neglecting the blog this semester. I miss it terribly. I've been busy writing far more scholarly things lately. I almost said "far more boring," but that's not exactly true. Much of what I've written has been interesting to me. But it's definitely painstaking in a way that blog-writing is not. It actually kind of gruels most days.
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