Posted by: graceherlong | October 25, 2013

Are you a Hugger?

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a Hugger. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good hug—it’s that I don’t appreciate the superfluous hug.

I do not appreciate the superfluous hug, not because I am a curmudgeon who hates everyone and everything, but because I actually really appreciate a good hug. If it’s been ages since I’ve seen someone, be it a friend or family member, I will run to them and give them the biggest hug EVER, and I think that those hugs mean more when you hug people less often. If I am really upset about something, sometimes a good hug can really make a big difference

When a group of women greet each other in social settings, they all hug, even if it’s only been a few days since you last saw each other—and if you abstain from hugging, you’re weird. When men and women greet each other in social settings, usually women hug each other, men shake each others’ hands, and then men and women hug. It bothers me that in our culture the greeting between people who are friends is a hug (except man to man). I generally tend to go along with the hugs, simply because I don’t want to be the weirdo in the group who doesn’t hug people, even though I don’t really want to. In Europe, they do the faux kiss, which I appreciate because there’s minimal actual touching involved. I mean, get out of my personal space, unless I invite you into it, ya know?

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog about this for ages now (evidenced by my long gap in blogs) and the reason why is because hugs are increasingly present in the workplace, and it BOTHERS me to no end. Social hugs, I mean okay, we’re friends, but professionally they just should not happen, if you ask me (whether or not you’re a Hugger). When I am first introduced to men and women alike, it always involves a handshake in a professional setting. Upon meeting someone I am acquainted with, in a professional setting, more often than not we shake hands (almost always if it’s a woman, unless it’s a woman who I am also personal friends with AND have not seen in a while, and then we hug :)). But, I cannot tell you how many times I have been greeted by a man—in a professional setting—who I am already acquainted with, and received a hug, while my male colleagues with me do not.

I’ve noticed this on multiple occasions, and wanted to blog about it, but I wasn’t sure if it was just one or two isolated instances. However, now I’ve been working for going on three years and noticed that these are not isolated instances—this is a pattern. I don’t want to risk being perceived as an ice-queen (which is a really hard line to tread in the business world for women, if you don’t believe me read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I highly recommend it regardless), but I don’t want to hug people superfluously, even in my personal life.

Has anyone else ever had this problem, or am I just supremely weird (which also wouldn’t surprise me)? Does something about me scream: “HUG ME!!” ?

Posted by: graceherlong | October 23, 2012

The Power of Social Media

So, my family had a big scare yesterday.  Our old pup, Penny, who is 10 years old now, got out of her invisible fence.  We are not sure for how long, but when my mom came home from work she was gone.  My mom and dad drove around the neighborhood calling and looking for her, to no avail.  Finally, as a last resort, my mom turned to the Facebook community and posted about our lost family dog.

Meanwhile, some good Samaritans had found her in our neighborhood.  At first she was scared and wouldn’t come to them, but they eventually coaxed her in with food.  They took her to several different vets, to find a microchip, but we’d never microchipped sweet Penny.  Finally, as a last resort they posted a picture of Penny on Facebook.

My mom was not Facebook friends with the people who found her, but she did have friends who were.  A few of them noticed the similarities in the stories, and were able to get my mom in contact with the people who had Penny.  Penny is home safe and sound (though very scared) and we are all very happy and relieved.

This just has me thinking, how amazing it is that this happened.  I have seen this happen to other people, when a friend I knew posted a picture of a dog they found on Facebook, and eventually was connected with the owner through that.  Facebook is the new ‘neighborhood’ in that now, instead of just posting signs around your neighborhood, you’ll also post signs on your Facebook page.  The amount of people who see those signs – and pay attention to them – is exponentially higher than the amount of people who actually look at a sign stapled to a telephone pole.  I am just so happy that enough kind people were paying attention to bring our old, sweet pup home.  We’ve had Penny since I was in middle school, and though I’ve grown up and moved away, she’s still my dog and I love her to pieces.

I’ve been annoyed with Facebook and social media before (hello, it’s election season), and I’ve always seen it as kind of a time-wasting mechanism, or a place to promote your business, but never considered it could work in this way.   But, now I see the good it can do, and that it has done for my family, and I am so grateful.

So, if you ever find a lost animal, post it on Facebook.  You never know what you’ll find.

Posted by: graceherlong | September 6, 2012

SC girl living in VA

Gosh, I haven’t written in a while! A quick update:

  1. In June we found out that little Peanut will be a girl!!
  2. Darcy and Adam decided to give Peanut a real name (Peanut wouldn’t really work for the long term I guess), Lane Grace. They are going to call her Laney. Blannie is the godmom, I’m just the inspiration 🙂
  3. I moved to Virginia 2 months ago today.
  4. I moved with Ryan so that he can get his MBA at Darden, one of the top programs in the country. The picture is of us at our first UVA game — Go Wahoos!
  5. I’m now working as the Marketing Administrator for RKG in Charlottesville; we do internet marketing.  I love my job, (though I was really sad to leave ProActive) and I’m really lucky to have found something doing what I wanted to do.
  6. My brother Jack got a great clerkship at Law in Action, and an adorable new puppy!
  7. My puppy Dizzy is as crazy and neurotic as ever. Our backyard turns into a lake when it rains (as in 3+ inches of standing water) so she refuses to potty outside when it is raining… this is proving to be very taxing on my relationship with her.
  8. Ryan and I got engaged on August 18th, and we’re so excited! Though we probably won’t be getting married until early 2014, as his schedule with school is pretty hectic for the next year. The picture is of us in front of his school after the proposal!

Obviously, this doesn’t begin cover all the details of the past five months, but these are the highlights.

Posted by: graceherlong | April 23, 2012

The Times They are a-Changin’

Come gather ’round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You’ll be drenched to the bone If your time to you Is worth savin’ Then you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin’.

I know I’ve written about the craziness of time passing before.  I recently read the book “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides, (It’s not a how-to book,  the ‘marriage plot’ portion of the title refers to the topic of literature that the main character writes her thesis about–the ‘marriage plot’ that many Victorian Era novels center around.) and in it one of the main characters (who was also crazy, but I digress) offers a theory about how, when we are children months seem to take years. His theory is that this is because the proportion of one month to the amount of time we have lived is huge; but as we age, a month (or a day) becomes a smaller percentage of our total amount of time living, which is why time seems to pass more quickly as we age.

Come writers and critics Who prophesize with your pen And keep your eyes wide The chance won’t come again And don’t speak too soon For the wheel’s still in spin And there’s no tellin’ who That it’s namin’ For the loser now Will be later to win For the times they are a-changin’.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about these words immortalized by Bob Dylan.  After my sister got married, our family grew +1 (yay, Adam!), and holidays etc. were no longer the same.  Our ‘compliments jar’  and other traditions, which I cited in another blog, changed because Darcy was now DarcyAndAdam.  Which was good, we like Adam of course, but I just mean that never again will it be just us four kids, and our parents, again.  And we changed, and we adapted our traditions, and now they’re better, because now there are more compliments for me (just kidding that’s not why)!

Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call Don’t stand in the doorway Don’t block up the hall For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled There’s a battle outside And it is ragin’ It’ll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin’.

I’m writing about this now, because yet again our family is growing.  Darcy is pregnant!  Now begins the ‘Grandchildren Era’ for the Herlong family, and our family will once again change, and adapt. (Think baby gates at the lake house, strollers, toys, etc.  Darcy and Adam are not in this alone!)  But anyway, it’s got me thinking about how GOOD these changes are.  I can’t wait to be an Aunt, to meet little Peanut; I already love this baby!  I’m sure my sister is feeling this even more pointedly than I am (or maybe not, I’ve always been the ‘sensitive’ one), since she is the pregnant one after all, but I  can’t help but think about how ‘time passing’ relates to our lives.

Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land And don’t criticize What you can’t understand Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command Your old road is Rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one If you can’t lend your hand For the times they are a-changin’.

When Bob Dylan originally wrote this song in the 1960s, he was capturing the essence of the social upheaval of the time.  I’m not getting political here, but his words are applicable to all areas of life, whether it’s your family, your love life, or your career.  Everything will change, and we, as a family, as a society, or whatever, need to adapt to the changing times, or risk getting left behind.

The line it is drawn The curse it is cast The slow one now Will later be fast As the present now Will later be past The order is Rapidly fadin’ And the first one now Will later be last For the times they are a-changin’.”

Posted by: graceherlong | December 5, 2011

Another Year’s Gone By

Do you remember when you were a kid and weeks took so long to pass by? I remember having this “Christmas Calendar” that had a little mouse you moved from day-to-day until Christmas Day.  We used to fight about who woke up first and got to be the one to move the mouse that day… okay well I used to fight about it with whichever sibling got there first.  Those 25 days were the LONGEST days of each year, and now I feel like time flies by so quickly it just about knocks me over if I’m not paying attention.

A year ago today my flight from Europe landed in Atlanta.  My Amazing Journey was complete, and my whole life was a big question mark.  I didn’t know what I was doing after graduation (law school was still being considered at that point, laughable now!), and there were several other uncertain variables in my life.  What a difference a year makes! I feel like this year has been so full, that how could everything have fit into one year?  But yet, it feels like just yesterday that I was navigating customs and then inhaling my first burger back in the States (followed swiftly by heartburn, surprise surprise).  I feel like a year ago, I had no idea who I was, but I sure as heck thought I did.  I guess, I knew who I wanted to be.  I think that everyone is always changing, and I guess the person who you were a year ago may always be a stranger to the person you are today.

2011 began with me trudging through my last semester of college.  Classes were time consuming, but I still had an internship that I really enjoyed to fill up my free time.  I was enjoying the last months with my college friends, the ups and the downs that made us the friends that we are.  (Gosh, I wish I could go on a spring break cruise in 2012!) My post-grad-job-hunt took up most of my time, and I felt like it was almost a job within itself.  Graduation rolls around, and I’d finally landed a job.  The next six months, from May – November, I worked for a company in an industry in which I was successful, but the working environment didn’t make me happy, and I didn’t feel like I was fulfilling my potential.  I learned so much though, and really got a great deal from the experience.  An amazing professional opportunity presented itself in November, and I jumped on it… and I couldn’t be happier.  I’m doing Business Development for a small Biz here in Greenville called ProActive Technology.

So, what an action packed year. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for me, and I can’t even imagine what is to come!

Posted by: graceherlong | September 29, 2011

Greenville: The Little-Big City That Can

After having studied abroad for a semester, and gotten the “get outta town” feeling out of my bones, I was more than thrilled to accept a post-graduate job offer in Greenville, SC where I’m not-quite-born and raised, since I was 2 months old.  I started my job 7 days after graduation, and dove right in to the atmosphere of the professional world.

The summer I started working started out pretty slowly; not with my job mind you, but with my social life.  Many of my college girlfriends went to big cities together, while I was stuck here on my own.  My roommate and current partner-in-crime, Anne Preston (a good friend from college), didn’t join me in Greenville until August, so I was fending for myself for a while.  I also was apprehensive about meeting new people and making new friends.  Everyone seemed set with their friend groups and it’s awkward to push your way into an already established group of friends.  It was so easy in college, and when I was in Italy, because everyone was in the “making friends” mode at the same time.

Once Anne Preston (henceforth referred to as AP) arrived in Greenville in August, we began our “post-graduate” life, in full force.  It is much easier to make girlfriends when you’re a pair, rather than a singular girl trying to “horn-in” on other people’s friends.  We joined a co-ed Softball League (Stop Laughing! I rarely EVER strike out, and I’ve even gotten a few base hits!) and started to hang out with some of the other girls on the team.  We’ve developed a tight, close knit group of friends, guys and girls, in Greenville that we really like. 

I was apprehensive about the social life in Greenville, and the people here, because I thought I “knew it all.”  After having gone to college here and grown up here, I can tell you the Greenville I am experiencing right now is not the same “Greenville,” I enjoyed during college, or even grade school.  There is a fun, young environment and there are plenty of people out there who are on the same page that I am about everything!  So, though I was very sure of my decision to stay in Greenville post-grad initially, I did have my doubts over the summer when I was lacking a partner-in-crime, I am once again fully committed and happy to be here.  I can’t imagine being anywhere else!

Posted by: graceherlong | December 29, 2010

Arrivederci Italia!

I’ve been home for almost a month now, which is kind of crazy to think.  I’m stationary now.  I don’t think I’ll be going on a plane for quite a while, unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.  I saw over 20 cities in Europe, and have taken 16 flights in the past 4 months.

I was so excited to be back in America at first, I love the convenience and the familiarity.  You never realize just how much we take EVERYTHING for granted.  Running to the pharmacy, jumping in your car, getting lunch, going to the Doctor (I went to an Italian Doctor because I threw out my back, trust me, it was a harrowing experience) and so many other things.  All of my Cimba friends immediately had Facebook statuses about missing it and wanting to go back, but for the first few weeks I was just thinking: I love America!

But then, it started to sink in.  I really truly loved my experience abroad, and I feel like I completely took advantage of every opportunity.  Though homesickness plagued me off and on while I was there, it was only really a problem while I was in my room alone.  When I left my room and was off doing things I definitely had tons of fun, and didn’t even really FEEL homesick when I was with other people.  But now, it’s becoming more apparent to me… there are so many amazing people, great friends, that I met on this trip that I will never see again.  That is terrible to admit, but we live all across the country and I may see some of them again, hopefully, but it would be a very small probability of seeing all of them again.

Last night, my family had belated Christmas dinner because my sister and her husband weren’t able to be here for actual Christmas day.  We have a tradition where we write nice things about each family member and put them in a bowl and then we all read them.  My older brother wrote about me that I am the “least annoying person who has studied abroad that [he] know[s].”  This means, he said, that I don’t go around spouting off every moment how much it changed my life, like he expected me to, because everyone he’s ever known to go abroad has done just that.  I don’t know why I don’t talk about it a lot, but it definitely was the most life changing experience.  I think it makes you grow up a little being on your own, getting from point A to point B on nothing but your own know-how, and not to mention it’s extremely gratifying once you’ve succeeded.  But, to me, the most life changing things that happened were inner, not something that I would publicly talk about or share with others.  It wasn’t the travelling, because though that was scary I was sure I could do that, it was what I learned about myself that was the most influential to me.

So, looking back, I loved being in Europe, I loved travelling, I loved everything about it.  But the thing I loved the most is that it made me realize the things that are most important in my life.  I took so many things for granted, and it took leaving them behind to realize how important they are to me.

Posted by: graceherlong | December 29, 2010

Thanksgiving in London

After the second travel week, I had to stay on campus for the next weekend due to Saturday class (vom). Luckily though, Kim worked out with her friend Christian, an Italian, for us to all go to an open bar party and even have a bus take us there and back. It was probably the most fun and epic night of all. Let me just say that at that point in the semester, with everything going on, it was really nice for me to blow off some steam. And it seemed like just about everyone else had the same thoughts. It was really fun to all be together like that, because almost every other weekend we were spread out across the continent. Looking back, that’s the night that I remember when I think about good times with all my Cimba friends.

After a half week of 3 classes, I departed for a weekend in London. I was on the same flight as some of my Cimba friends, but I stayed with a friend of my parents, Nicolas Ollivant. Nicolas was such a wonderful host. He had a Thanksgiving dinner party for me on Thursday when I arrived, and I helped cook. It was so amazing to have a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, basically everything I would have had at home. Being gone for Thanksgiving was especially hard too, because that’s a time when you’re always with the people you love. While I was there I saw my friend Allyson Lingerfelt from Furman. She happened to be in London travelling with her friend Natalie Vajta to visit Natalie’s sister, Nicole, who was studying there. We met up and spent all day Friday together. We walked all over London, did the London Eye, saw Big Ben, the Tower of London, basically everything in one day.  Again, it was so nice to see a familiar face, a little piece of home, in seeing Allyson.  I was exhausted when I got back to Nicolas’s flat at 9 that night.

The next day Allyson, Nicole, and Natalie were doing some shopping, and I really wanted to see the Harry Potter movie. I went to the theatre where it premiered, and paid 12 pounds to see the movie… that’s devotion there. The theatre was so beautiful though, it was more like a play theatre in America than what I would associate with a movie theater. Or an old-fashioned movie theater, maybe. There was balcony seating and lower seating, and the screen had plush red velvet curtains that hung in front of it. The side walls had these intricate gold inlaid carvings of dancing women, like the kind you’d associate with greek theatre. I felt so competent, getting around a big city like that all by myself.

London was by far my favorite city. The ease of travelling around the city was just exponentially better than every other country, and it’s not just because it’s in English and easy to understand, because I understand the signs in other languages as well. They just do a better job of simplifying their public transit system and labelling it so that people who are unaccustomed to the system are just as comfortable as seasoned veterans. I think if I were to choose a city to live in Europe, it would be London. I loved so many other cities as well, but London was just so … nice.

Posted by: graceherlong | November 21, 2010

A Week of Wonders and Rain

Two weeks ago, I was on my second travel week; this explains the lack of blog posts recently.  I went with my best friend at Cimba Evalyn Wiley, and three guys, Kelly Hogan, Nick Lalim, and Tanner Steiglitz.  It was a week of close calls, inside jokes, and laughing until we cried.  It will most likely be  the MOST fun I  ever have in the space of one week.

The week started off with a flight to Prague on Saturday November 6th.  Prague was very rainy and dreary, but we still managed to have a good time.  There was a medieval festival going on in the Old Town Square, and I especially liked the sword fight reenactments.  It was so cold that we tried mulled wine, which is hot red wine with cinnamon and sugar… it was soo yummy.  The warmth of the wine warms your hands, and then the alcohol warms you from the inside.  The perfect thing for a rainy day.  On our second day in Prague we went to this restaurant called Lokal which served traditional czech food and I had the most amazing roast beef and dumplings with gravy… you expect something that looks like that to be kind of solid and heavy in your mouth, but the gravy was the most lovely, light, thing and I even asked for extra dumplings to ensure that I soaked up every last bit of that gravy.  We took a free walking tour that day with the funniest guide I have ever met; if you are ever in Prague and have the opportunity to take the FreePrague walking tour with Isaac, do it.  I laughed so hard my sides hurt.

On Monday we took a flight to Paris, which was rainy too.  Rain was pretty much a running theme for our week, we only got sunshine for half a day in one of the cities.  Paris was a bit more low-key for me, I actually brought a book I had to read for a class and did a lot of reading while the rest of them did sightseeing, because I’d seen everything three weeks before and didn’t want to pay to see it again.  I mean, I’m sure it hasn’t changed THAT much in three weeks.  The night-life in Paris was also a little lacking, which I didn’t realize my first time there because I didn’t really try to go out at night that time.

On Wednesday we had an early morning flight from Beauvais airport in Paris to Dublin, and the trip out to Beauvais almost deserves a blog post in itself.  It seems to me that RyanAir TRIES to make people miss their flights by using airports that are an hour outside of the city centers.  Dublin was fantastic for me.  As we were flying over Great Britain I was looking out of my window and growing more and more excited.  It’s funny, because I’ve gotten sort of accustomed to going to cities in Europe, it’s not exactly exciting to the point of jitters anymore.  It was when I first arrived in Venice, but the novelty has since worn off and it is just a fact of life that I am in Europe and seeing European cities.  But Dublin was different; I was jittery and excited like a little girl as we were landing in Dublin.  And it didn’t fail to impress either; we saw the Dublin Castle, the Guinness Brewery, Jameson Distillery, Christ Church Cathedral, and this exhibit called Dublinia.  Dublinia was kind of geared towards little kids, with interactive exhibits, but it was fine by me because I actually enjoyed learning about the Viking and Medieval history in Dublin.

After two days in Ireland, we headed to Brussels.  Evalyn and I stayed with one of my best friends who is studying there, Mariel Calhoun, and the boys stayed in a hotel.  It was so nice to see Mariel, especially with that I’ve been homesick recently, and she had been a little homesick too.  I think it was good for both of us to see a familiar face from home.  Brussels was pretty blah though, it rained the whole time.  We went into Amsterdam for a few hours on Saturday and got to see the Anne Frank house.  That was very moving for me, to be in the space where all these people lived for two years! They didn’t go outside at all!  It made it all really hit home.

By far though, my favorite experience of the week was Saturday night in Brussels.  One of Mariel’s friends is interning for Together Magazine, and he got us into a fashion show for free! It was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience to attend a Euro fashion show, even though I had no idea what was going on since it was all in French.  The clothes were so interesting, though not really my style at all.  The most unusual part was that there was one model who was on point shoes the whole time, and kept doing this weird interpretive dance and having solo time where she just writhed around, rather than actually walking the runway.  But when she did walk the runway, she did it on point.  I appreciated the difficulty of that, since I did ballet for so many years, but she had terrible turnout and wasn’t very good at ballet in general.  That’s probably why she’s doing it in Fashion shows  instead of in a ballet company (OK, you caught me I’m a little jealous).  This is all of us at the show!

The show started at like 1 am, and wasn’t over until 3 or 4.  We went to McDonald’s (ok, gross?) afterwards because we were all starving.  After that, it was about 4:45 am so we decided to stay out until 6 am when the Metro started running again.  So, we got a bottle of wine and went to the Town Square and watched the sun (it was the only morning it wasn’t raining) come up, before we headed home.  We got back to Mariel’s at 7 am, and I can honestly say I have never stayed out ALL night other than this one instance… and it was definitely amazing!

The week finally came to a close with a flight home to Venice.  So many people complain about how tiny Paderno is, but I absolutely love it after a week of 5 cities in 10 days.  It is so nice to know that you’re safe and not have to worry about anything when you are here.  I come home two weeks from today, and I’m so tired of travelling and really just ready to come home.  Not that I’m not enjoying travelling, it is just very stressful and hard to keep up for a long period of time… and three months of travelling every weekend is a long time.

Posted by: graceherlong | November 2, 2010

Limbo Week

So, this past weekend for Halloween I went to Florence with my friends (again).  I actually intended to stay home, sleep, get some work done, and maybe go into Venice for a day because I haven’t really had a chill weekend since I’ve been here, but I was convinced otherwise.  And it was fun to be with tons of friends for Halloween.

The first thing I’d like to talk about is what Halloween is like in Europe.  It’s really NOT a big deal, All Saint’s Day is a big deal.  Literally, everything in Italy was closed on Monday when we got back to Paderno.  I couldn’t even go buy stamps at the Tabacchi!  So, when we were in Florence it was really  interesting to go to a discoteca and expect it to just be a normal night, but they’d gone all out for Halloween!  It reminded me of what my friend Philippe (my french friend who I met on actionquest but who is studying abroad in Madrid and I was able to see for a few days) told me about how American culture infiltrates EVERYTHING over here.  It was just really intriguing because we’d all been told not to expect crazy fun Halloween parties or anything, but it definitely was.  For anyone thinking of doing CIMBA next year, go to Florence for Halloween and go to club Space Elektronika!

But back to my point about wanting it to be a low-key weekend: it really still was a low-key weekend.  Evalyn was the one who convinced me to go to Florence because it would be fun to go with everyone, and we pretty much laid low.  We did some shopping but we slept in both days and it was just nice and relaxing.  I got christmas presents for my mom and sisters taken care of too.  I still need to get my dad, brother, and boyfriend something, but I’m going to a few breweries on the travel week and I’m sure I’ll find something cool. They don’t want scarves and jewelry from Florence, I’m sure.

I titled this post Limbo Week, because that’s what it feels like for me.  I don’t really have any news about my travels this past weekend, because I’ve already blogged about Florence. I have a TON of school work this week, and then on Saturday I leave for my travel week.  We are going to Prague, Paris, Dublin, and Brussels (with maybe a day trip to Amsterdam from Brussels since we’re there for the longest).  I’m very excited for Prague and Dublin, because I’ve heard Prague is amazing and I’m half Irish so Dublin is obviously cool.  I’ve already been to Paris so that’s not as exciting for me.  I am excited about Brussels, but mostly because I’m staying with one of my very good friends from home, Mariel, and it will be nice to see a familiar face.

I apologize for having such a boring blog this week, but like I said, it’s a transition week for me.  I will have so much to write about after my travel week though, so check back in later!

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