Category Archives: Nerd

Now Presenting, Mrs. Brown

I miss it here. Planning a wedding and starting a new job took me away, and I’m so sorry. Sorry for you, sorry for me. But I’m back, and I don’t see why I can’t get back to the same routine now that I’m more familiar with my job, and even more importantly, MARRIED!!  Yup, no more butchering of my last name, I’m Erica Brown now!

Seriously, I’ve never had my name butchered like this until the day before my wedding. My last name went out with a bang!

I enjoyed every second of my wedding day! For the ceremony, I thought I’d be nervous and bashful at being the center of attention, but once I was up there with Greg, I felt safe, loved, and honestly, I kind of went into tunnel vision. It was just me and him doing our thing. The reception was a blast, and numerous people have told us how much fun they had.  Like genuinely; not in the obligatory polite way.

But seeing as though I abandoned you for this wedding, I thought I’d share some of the reasons why. I love crafting, so I stupidly brilliantly decided to tack on some DIY projects to my wedding planning.

I started with these burlap sacks filled with Autumn Spice flavored coffee for our guests.

We adapted ours from this site.

Cute, huh? Not so cute when you have to string twine through 125 of them! However, I shouldn’t complain, and need to give my mom a special shout-out. We were both supposed to sew the bags, but I decided to catch pneumonia, so she willingly sewed every single one of them all by herself! And the labels? All credit to Greg and his vision of coffee cup stains.

Then I just had to have hanging mason jars down the ceremony aisle. But not just plain jars, no. They had to be wrapped with burlap, and then donned with lacy ribbon. Not to mention the fact that they had to hang, so I quickly became familiar with pliers and wire cutters in order to create a base for the twine to loop through.

This was my test-look with left-over fake flowers from a flower girl basket project (not pictured).

And because I’m a fan of itchy, sore hands and non-stop sneezing, I decided to decorate two strings of lights with my go-to material: burlap (and a more forgiving purple lace and purple fabric).  Thanks, Ambrosia for the awesome idea!  I strung those lights around a big chalkboard, and sat down to write the names of all our guests with chalkboard markers to serve as a seating chart.

Yes, our table numbers were also labeled in binary.

I can’t take credit for this, but an amazing gal with an Etsy shop made this fantastic cake topper for us!

Jenny and Marjorie would be so proud!

And I guess I’ll share a few pics of my new husband and me!

Our first dance. Photo credit to my good friend, Cortney Colbert.

I am so lucky to have this man as my husband!

If you want to see some live-action, my brother made us this awesome wedding video! Our videographer is going to be hard-pressed to beat this:


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8 Glasses of Water

As some of you are well aware, I hate drinking water. The last time I attempted to drink large quantities of water, I gave myself hypothermia, so I’ve been wary ever since. However, I do realize that there are benefits that come with hydrating properly. A week before Christmas, in an attempt to be healthy, I decided to drink eight glasses of water a day. Let me backtrack a little:

While at Target with Greg to get water filter replacements for our sink (because one of us actually drinks water on a regular basis), I was drawn to the purple Brita water pitchers on the shelf. I casually mentioned to Greg, “ I think I might actually drink water if I had this. I mean, I only like water when it’s cold, and though I can achieve that effect through ice, the cubes just get in the way of my drinking, and it’s too much of an effort.” At which point, I’m sure he rolled his eyes, but also grabbed one off the shelf to bring home. We filled it that night and stuck it in the fridge to chill overnight.

The next day, I began my morning with a small 8oz cup of water. I totally busted out a measuring cup too. I wasn’t about to drink more than needed. To my surprise, it wasn’t half bad. And? It didn’t burn my throat! Every hour or so, I chugged down another cup. And I mean that literally. I would take a deep breath, and finish each cup as if I just lost in a drinking game. The way I saw it, the longer I left the cup out in the open air, the warmer the water would become. It was better for me to drink it while it was still cool and refreshing. Kinda like the way it was with vegetables as a kid. If I stacked all five zucchini slices on my fork and shoved them in my mouth in one bite while they were still hot, it’d be over and done with, as opposed to pushing them around my plate all dinner, then gagging down cold zucchini. If I have to do it, I might as well make it as pleasurable as possible.

In any case, I drank 8-10 glasses of water for nine consecutive days! I was extremely proud of myself, and probably would have kept going, but Christmas day was the tenth day, and I was out of my home for almost the whole day. It didn’t help that at every other house I visited on Christmas, I was tempted with juice, hot apple cider, soda, and wine. With all those choices, there was no way I’d prefer water! Once I got off schedule, my motivation waned. Plus, my brother’s girlfriend is in med school right now, and when I was telling her about it, she said eight glasses isn’t necessary. The guideline is to drink when you’re thirsty. Which totally threw me for a loop, ‘cause Ryan Gosling said on Ellen that, “When you’re thirsty, it’s too late.” And we all know actors are always right. However, I’m going to go with the future doctor’s advice.

And, well, I’m never thirsty…for water.

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“For someone with no sense of taste, you have a lot of opinions on water.”

Kevin told me that a while back, and he’s absolutely right. As you all know, I would rather remain parched than fill up a cup with water. But on those rare occasions that I do partake in the liquid that gives me life, I tend to be picky. I pretty much hate the taste of bottled water, but if I have to grab a bottle to go, I usually choose Arrowhead. Most people that drink bottled water regularly tend to despise Arrowhead, and I think it’s because it tastes like tap water—which I personally like. Tap water is free, as tasty as water can be to me, and is better for the environment than plastic bottles. But don’t think I just turn on the tap and start drinking. No. My other demand for drinking water is that it be ice cold. I’m talking about a minimum of four ice cubes per 8 ounces of water. If it’s warmer than that, it burns my throat.

That said, a few months ago, as I was getting out of bed, I pinched a nerve in my back. (I guess this is the sort of stuff that happens when you’re in your 30’s.) In any case, it hurt tremendously, and I could barely move. Internet research said to drink tons of water throughout the day. Fortunately, Greg was home with me, and he gladly filled my reusable purple bottle with large amounts of ice and water.

In less than an hour’s time, I had finished 66 ounces of ice-cold water. (FYI: 64 oz is the daily recommendation, so I was feeling very proud of myself.) While finishing my last gulps, I noticed that I was getting cold, but didn’t think much of it. When I got up to smugly show Greg my empty bottle, I began to realize that I was extremely cold. I decided I would quickly use the restroom to pee out the toxins this water was supposedly washing out of me, and then sit myself back down on the couch under a warm blanket. While washing my hands, I noticed that my fingernails were so purple that it almost looked like I was wearing nail polish. That’s when my teeth began chattering uncontrollably…something I thought was only done in cartoons and the movies.

I suddenly realized that I had given myself hypothermia by drinking water!!

But don’t worry; I survived. Greg quickly got me wrapped up in thicker blankets and immediately made me a giant cup of hot tea, which totally defrosted me by the time I finished drinking it. For the rest of that day, I swore off stupid water and stuck with tea–which I found to be an absolutely wonderful alternative.

While I feel I usually have to defend my motives for not drinking water, hypothermia is no joke. I’d say I have a valid reason now. I mean, why would I want to risk my life over something as horrible as water? It’s not worth it when there’s perfectly good orange juice in the fridge.

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Anyone Can Whistle

I had fun at my voice lesson today. Those are words I never thought I would say.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking a beginner’s voice class at my local community college in order to satisfy my last requirement to earn a Music Supplement to my teaching credential. Learning, and trying to master my singing voice never held a shred of interest to me. The thought of taking a voice class seemed absolutely terrifying, so when I discovered that there was no way to get my supplement without it, I made my brother, Kevin, take it with me.

I left each of the first three class sessions knowing in my heart that I would never come back. I even thanked Kevin for trying with me, but told him I would understand if he wanted out. I just could not see myself actually singing to my classmates at the front of the classroom, not to mention singing solo in the concert hall for three recitals. Nope, there was no way I would do it. That is, until I heard others sing.

Most of the students in my class could hold a decent tone; but no one was amazing. Some people sang soft or pitchy, and others were just flat out bad. If anything, I knew I wouldn’t be the worst singer in the class.

A friend I met during my Peace Team adventure back in ‘03 nicknamed me “Horse Whisperer” because while goofing off and singing out of a hymnal book we’d found, she noticed that although I was whispering out my songs, I was actually singing pretty well. I never took her compliment to heart until I entered this class. I started thinking that maybe her words were more than just a friendly opinion, since I knew I could sing better than a handful of the kids in my class.

The first day that I bit the bullet and sang in front of my peers, I was shaking so much I thought for sure everyone could hear it in my voice. However, I was told that I sounded good, I got some decent feedback from my teacher, and most importantly, once I was done, I felt relieved because I knew without a doubt that I would be able to handle the rest of the semester.

The class sessions have since become enjoyable for me, and I’m learning more about my voice and pushing it to places that I never thought it could go. I’m also finding it easier and easier to sing in front of my class. While the nerves will never dissipate completely, I don’t let them fill me with terror like they used to. I’ve already sung successfully in one recital, and my second recital will be on Monday. After today’s individual voice lesson, I’m feeling confident, prepared, and actually eager to sing. Who would’ve thought?

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Mr. Schatz’s Daughter

A week or so before school started, I was asking my youngest cousin how she felt about beginning 6th grade at a middle school. She was so nonchalant about it despite the fact that she had missed orientation, had no idea what classes she would be taking, and knew she’d be changing middle schools this year or next. I marveled at her relaxed demeanor because the summer before I entered junior high as a 7th grader, I was a wreck!

The newness and uncertainty of what I would encounter at Fleming Jr. High stressed the shit out of me! Nowadays, they acclimate kids to switching teachers and classrooms. Back then, my classmates and I went from a self-contained K-6 education to being thrown into a three building, multi-storied school with six different periods for each of our classes, all fit between passing periods with tardy bells. Not to mention I would have to learn how to open a locker; which was the scariest part for me.

I would work myself into a fit of tears over the stress of owning a locker. I was extremely short for my age, so I was concerned I’d be assigned a top locker and not be able to see the combination lock. And oh man was the combination lock a whole other mess in itself! Being the nerd that I am, I was super stressed that I wouldn’t be able to master the complex task of working a combo lock. Thus came Daddy to the rescue!

My dad was, and still is, the highly respected Athletic Director for San Pedro High School. Besides bestowing upon my brothers and me the love of sports and athleticism, he also would come home with all sorts of fun sports and school related paraphernalia, and for this tragic time in my life, he brought me home a few combination locks to practice on. After mastering those locks, I felt way more secure about using a locker at school, and a huge chunk of my worries dissipated.

I don’t remember where my first locker was situated, but I do recall that I was tall enough to see the dial clearly, and with my summer of practice, was able to open it easily. Since I came from Lomita Magnet and qualified for Honors courses, I had elementary school friends in every single one of my classes. And to make everything even better, due to the fortunate proximity of my classrooms, there was plenty of time during the passing periods to get from one class to the next. That is, unless you’re a shy, awkward, scatterbrained nerd, like me.

After giving us newbies a week or so of free passes to being tardy, the school started implementing the Tardy Sweep. If you didn’t make it to class by the time the tardy bell rang, you were required to sit in a detention room all period. Of course, even though I knew I had more than enough time to get to each of my classes, I still felt nervous about this new rule and would pack up quickly, never lingering to chat with friends at the end of class to make sure I was not caught in that sweep.

One day after 3rd period English, it took me longer than usual to put the papers away in my notebook and I noticed that my friend Carrie left for 4th period History without me. I was a bit bummed, but understood, since I, myself, got nervous waiting for slow friends to pack up their belongings between periods. I quickly gathered my things and rushed out the door to catch up. I saw her and a few other friends ahead of me, but they were walking in an unfamiliar direction. I figured our teacher must’ve moved class for the day and I missed the announcement the day before. Being shy, awkward, and embarrassed to approach them, I just kept a few paces behind them instead of jumping in and inquiring where they were going. I followed them all the way across the campus right into a class with a teacher I had never seen before, and classmates I didn’t know. That’s when it dawned on me that it wasn’t time for History! My 4th period was Leadership, which was located directly downstairs from my 3rd period room and ALL the way back across campus.

I quickly bolted from that room and walked as fast as I could to my class (running was against the rules). The tardy bell rang when I was only a few doors away from my class. Despite the bell, I walked in the doorway, pausing to face my teacher who was sitting across the room at her desk, and I explained, “I thought it was a different period and I walked to the wrong class.” To which she replied, “Sorry Erica, but you’re tardy. You need to go to Detention.” Knot in my throat and tears welling in my eyes, I swallowed, blinked away those tears, and began my walk of doom to the detention room. Halfway there, I ran into our Vice Principal who questioned my being out of class. I explained my situation and then he asked me my name.

“Schatz?” he asked with a sense of familiarity. “Any relation to Bob Schatz at San Pedro?”

“Yes, he’s my dad,” I meekly answered.

“I know your father,” he retorted. “Good guy. Come on, I’ll take care of this.”

That man accompanied me back to my classroom where, without an explanation, insisted my teacher let me stay in class despite my tardiness. As I took my seat, she shot me a dirty look, as if I went running to tattle on her and got her in trouble. I couldn’t help but smile sheepishly all the while turning a deep crimson.

After those first few weeks of Junior High School, I was comfortable and accustomed to the new routine, and I loved every bit of my time there. I was glad to know being Bob Schatz’s daughter gave me some leverage, but I never had to use it again. Besides having the perks of my dad’s status throughout my school years, he was, and still is, a great father. From something as small and touching as bringing home combination locks, to being a non-judging, unconditionally loving rock of support when I finally found the courage to end a six year abusive relationship a few years ago, he has given me so much of the confidence that I have today. Having Mr. Schatz as my dad may have saved me in Junior High, but him just being my daddy has saved me in life.

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The Day I Realized I Was a Nerd

Growing up, I was never really lacking in friends.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was popular, but I was known well enough to win both my 6th and 8th grade presidential elections. (Maybe that should’ve been my “nerd” tip off.)  So although it was intimidating going away to a college where I’d know not a single person, I wasn’t all too surprised when I became a part of a group within my first few days at La Verne.


The person I attribute to holding the whole group together was David*.  Poor David was 18 years old, but looked like a 35 year old man.  His brown hair was clean cut, combed, and parted on the side.  He had a deep voice that boomed with self-confidence, and his stride was that of a man on a mission.  His pants were tapered and flooded the tiniest bit over his almost high-top-like black tennis shoes.  And to top it all off, he only listened to Jazz.


David introduced me to a few guys from his hall.  First, Sam: a tall, overweight kid, who kind of leaned over in a hunchback fashion and had a squinted look to his face.  He was a quiet kid, but when he spoke, his lispy, soft voice didn’t seem to match his body type.  The other guy, Tommy, was an average sized guy who had a Native American look to him; although that could be contributed to the touristy t-shirts he would wear that depicted rattlesnakes from Arizona and coyotes from New Mexico.


I, in turn, introduced the group to a couple of girls I’d met.  June, my dorm roommate was the first person I brought around.   She was the tiniest Vietnamese girl I had ever laid eyes on.  She wasn’t born in America and had a very Asian style to her; noticeably, her bowl cut hair.  And if you think I’m quiet, then you’ve never met June.  She usually answered questions in one-word responses.  When she would talk, I was just so amazed and focused on hearing her crackly voice that it was almost impossible to pay attention to what she was saying.  My other friend, Amy, was a tall, broad, girl from the backcountry of Montana and clearly looked it.  Her thin blonde hair lay long and straggly, and no matter what she wore, Teva’s were stuck to her feet.


Now I wasn’t a cookie cutter La Verne girl either.  I hid my petite figure under loose fitting t-shirts and non form-flattering jeans.  If I wore any make-up at all, it was a quick brush of light blue eye shadow and mascara.  To top off my plain look, I had long, thick, wavy dirty blonde hair that knew nothing of the benefits of mousse.  I combed out those waves every single day to produce a large mass of frizzy goodness falling in one even layer down my back.


Sitting in the dining hall with my friends one day, I glanced around at the other tables.  There were the football jocks, the girls dressed for clubbing, the stoners, etc.  Then I looked around at the faces of my table.  That’s when the realization hit me: Oh my god!  I’m sitting at the nerd table!  I’m a nerd!


And you know what?  I was then, I am now, and I’m damn proud of it!


*Names have been changed to spare the feelings of friends who may not have had the same realization as me.
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