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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Today marks my twenty-sixth blog in my 30-Day challenge. I would say that I have learned a great deal about writing and reflection in the process of writing and reflecting.  At the risk of sounding like I’m doing a filler blog, I would like to share some of these insights.

The first thing I noticed while reflecting and writing over the last few weeks is how when a hobby becomes an obligation, it does tend to lose just a little bit of its pleasure.  Writing, when inspired, is wonderful, and writing, when forced, is painful.  Bad movies are the same way, especially since bad movies are the product of bad writing.  Bad acting is also painful, which contributes to the point I’m trying to make,  Effortless things are effortlessly enjoyable.  When you have to work, it ceases to be fun.  This is why I never pursued music as an educational pursuit.  Even at the tender age of 18 I knew that there was a difference between a career and a hobby and which one would be the best bet for me. (Never mind the fact that I’m not teaching right now).  If you have any doubt about how difficult and sometimes painful writing is, consider the fact that I’m reflecting on the end of the blog four days before the end.  I couldn’t even wait until day 30.

The second thing I’ve learned is that those who write have to see the world a different way.  In the course of writing this blog, i tried to come up with inspiring things every day and found it pretty gosh darn difficult.  I even tried to reading other blogs and listening to comedians.  I tried to get inside their heads and see the world the way they did, and it was an interesting journey.  Good humor bloggers have a niche, they have a perspective that is not only unique to them, but it uniquely expresses ideas about things that are common.  Let’s be honest.  There isn’t too much new stuff out there.  The only thing we have that is truly our own is our perspective.

The third thing I’ve learned is that good writing takes time.  Good writing isn’t something that is “fit in” at the end of the day, but rather guides the evening and sometimes, most of the day.  When I have a good idea, I have to create time to shape and craft it into what I want it to be, I need no less than enough time.  Good writing demands that space be made for it, bad writing demands for me to “get it over with”, which is a completely different mentality.

End of story: Will I continue blogging past the 30 days?  Yes.  Will it be every day?  I like you all too much to do that 🙂

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I cannot write a lengthy post tonight because I have been slightly distracted today.  One year ago tonight I went out on a first date with a charming, funny and interesting guy whom I then proceeded to date for the last year.  Today when I came home from church, I was greeted with a fleet of lit candles, a favorite Trevor Hall song shared by my boyfriend and I, and poetry excerpts (all properly cited) taped to my walls.  Not only that, but Ben had gone through old Facebook messages from the last year and transcribed his own on to paper and posted those as well with the dates.  He was waiting in my kitchen with the ring pictured in the upper left-hand corner of this post.  I cried the whole time but managed a “yes” somewhere in there, at least I think so, because I was wearing the ring moments later.      That being said, it’s not a great night for a post since I’ll end up with something utterly sentimental and will also probably cry again.  Thankful beyond words for the goodness of a gracious God and the love of a man I respect and admire with all of my heart.  I have much more than I could ever deserve.

I shall return to my regularly scheduled blogs tomorrow.  Rest assured 🙂

Have you ever heard someone talk about time-saving strategies?  Let’s take a moment and think about  that sentence alone.  This is a sentence that uses time to save time.  It’s paradoxical at least.  That was another sentence that used time to save time.  You’re spending time right now reading not even about how to save time but the idea that people discuss it.  You have time for that, and apparently so do I.

Philosophical nuances aside, we spend a lot of time discussing how to save time.  Of all the myths about time-saving, the one that towers over all of them is the nutty notion that the Internet saves us time.  I’ll say it again in case you were checking Twitter while reading that: the Internet DOES NOT save us time.

Here is an example: I have decided to exercise.  I have actually decided to exercise with the time I spent blogging every night during this 30-day challenge.  That being said, I will be taking a reprieve from blogging in eight days and beginning a new 30-day challenge that exercises my physical muscles and gives my now tired creative ones a much-needed rest.  But of course I needed a plan to make this happen, and today I began researching a method of physical exertion which would fit into my narrow qualifications of acceptable exercise.  I have ruled out the gym because I hate it there.  I hate the people, I hate the music and I most of all hate locker rooms where there is the possibility of nudity that is not my own.  I am expressly against this and also really don’t want to spend money on a membership.  I needed a method of exercise which would not take too long every day and could possibly even be done in the privacy of my own home.  Research yielded a picture of a kettle bell, which I then read about for about two hours with my time-saving internet-accessible device.  During this time of reading and weighing options and considering the reviews of every Amazon customer possible and calculating the cost of shipping a giant weighted bell to myself that I might toss it around in exchange for better thighs, I could have called a friend of mine who is a personal trainer and asked her.  But no, I did no such crazy thing.  Instead I read and compared reviews myself  and looked at packages costing hundred of dollars only to finally close the laptop and head over to WalMart where I purchased a $16 kettle bell with an instructional DVD included.  I shall begin my regime in eight days.

I could have gone to WalMart and asked someone, or I could have called my friend.  But instead I buy into the crazy lie that I can, with the help of the Internet, become an expert in all things and in the end, save myself some time by “doing it myself.”  I blogged a few weeks ago about the myth of “DIY” and how in the end, it costs you in time what you saved in money.  The internet is no different.

Being a more cerebral and mental person than I am an action person, I understand how living in the information world can be interpreted as better than living in the real world.  That was really convoluted way of saying that sometimes we need to get off our butts and stop trying to save time and actually push forward on things.  I am the queen of few things, but I sit on the throne of not enjoying the moment I’m in because I’m so obsessed with what is going to happen in the next minute.  I think that when you try to think of ways to save time, you end up wasting more of it than you planned and certainly do not enjoy the time you are spending right at that moment.

I went to WalMart after work and returned with my kettle bell and DVD to the church for a meeting.  The meeting was not set to begin until 7:00 and I saw this as an opportunity to enjoy my dinner and get acquainted with my new exercise form.  I popped in DVD and watched the cheery woman instructing her new client (me) as I ate macaroni and cheese.  This was when one of my coworkers walked in and stared at me blankly.  “You know you have to actually DO the work out for it to work, right?  Not just watch it and eat?”

He obviously misunderstood the situation and did not read the terrifying stories I did of those who injured themselves by misusing kettle bells.  But for the sake of a neat and tidy ending to this blog, he was right.  You have to sometimes take a page from Nike’s book and just do it.

School pictures are not positive things no matter how you look at them.  The process is traumatic, the preparation is painstaking, and nine times out of ten they do not turn out as you expected.  If school pictures were medical cases, they would have the lowest survival rate of any case.  In a way, I think school pictures are preparing students everywhere to accept the fact that one day they will be equally badly photographed as adults.

If you think about it, school pictures are the most pivotal moment of the year of the teenager.  You prepare for Picture Day with the best clothes you own and practice smiling in front of the mirror.  This would be frowned upon in any other circumstance, but any onlooker would surely understand the significance of Picture Day and not judge you.  The home preparation is only half of the battle, however, because once you leave the controlled environment of home, you then enter the arena in which you must maintain the perfected appearance until it is time to snap the actual picture.  This is the tough part.  This was especially difficult depending on the kind of classes you had before your school picture, like for me in seventh grade when my school picture was scheduled directly after wood shop where we would be staining benches.  Naturally, I could not manage to maintain my perfected appearance and ended up taking my seventh grade school picture with, among other calamities that befell it, a stain on my floral patterned shirt from wood shop class.

Taking the school picture is not any easier.  You wait in a line, usually in some order that reflects your last name, and when it is your turn you go and sit on a terribly uncomfortable stool.  I used to look quickly at the background and wonder why anyone though it was natural to be before a blue sky.  When I take pictures outside, there is always land behind me, I’m not in a hot air balloon floating over everything.  Yet my picture is not about what is natural, and which is made evident by my “trying too hard” practiced smile.  In my fated seventh grade school picture, I had the unfortunate disadvantage of braces, which were an even greater disadvantage because I had decided to adorn them is with blue and yellow rubber bands as a nod to my school colors, which in turn yielded the impression of yellow teeth. Oh actually let me take that back, just ONE yellow front tooth.

The guy who takes our photos in school probably wanted to be a real photographer and experienced a rather shocking crash into reality.  I think he knows we hate everything about school picture day, and bears the weight of much disappointment as he knows there is no way we will like our picture.

Finally, there is the day when the pictures finally arrive.  It is a judgment day of sorts, and truly separates the lucky from the unlucky ones.  We wait an exorbitant amount of time for these pictures we will surely want to trash, and when they finally come there, is absolutely no patience among school-age students.  We want our packages and we want them now.  Nothing can get in our way.  I still remember that day in 7th grade when I opened up my school picture to see the tragic disappointment that lay before me.  When I brought that picture home to my mother, I remember her shrugging and saying “well, it’s going on the piano.”

To this day I am terrified of floral patterned shirts.

School pictures are surely a right of passage, a necessary teenage evil which promises to haunt us for days, or in my case, years to come.

When I was in first grade, my father took me to a baseball game for my birthday.  By all appearances, it looked like a Hallmark commercial.  But, as my father likes to say, I didn’t last more than two innings before having finished my hotdog and soda, I begged to be taken home.  My father, taking compassion upon me, left the game with me in tow and as we pushed past strangers on our way out of the stadium, my father says two men looked at him with pity and said: “next time, bring your son instead.”

And that brings me to tonight’s blog.  I sometimes watch my friends’ three-year-old daughter whom I’ve known for about a year.  We have what I would say is a decent relationship, as good as one can have with a three-year-old, and when I saw that Beauty and the Beast was being remarketed as a 3D movie, I thought perhaps she would be an ideal companion for this outing.  Yes, I sincerely wanted to go myself, but thought perhaps the magic would be renewed in my own heart seeing it through the eyes of a child.  My intentions were good.

I picked Lila up at 6:15, this gave us more than enough time to make 6:45 showing and acquire the necessary snacks that make the childhood movie-going experience.  I myself have many happy memories of sneaking Chinese chicken into theaters for my father, but that is a story for another time.  We got our 3D glasses and little popcorn and drink combo boxes. We then made our way into the theater with me balancing both snack boxes in my arms while trying to get the door.  The theater was empty, which I found odd.  We attempted to settle in to a seat, but I discovered quickly that Lila was actually too light to keep the seat from folding up with her in it, a discovery that was terrifying to her.  To preempt the tears which I could see coming, I set the down the snack boxes and picked her out of the folding seat and set her down, assuring her she could enjoy the movie seated on my lap, which calmed her down.  It was then that one of the snack boxes tipped over and spilled popcorn and soda all over the seat.  Noticing the popcorn but not the soda, I grabbed Lila and sat down on a pile of ice.  Although disappointed, I was determined not to let this ruin our movie-going experience.  This was about the time I realized something else was not right.

I had not seen Beauty and the Beast in quite a few years, but I was fairly certain that the movie did not begin with the sentimental dance in the yellow dress and spruced up beast to the song sung by the Angela Lansbury-tea pot.  Checking the time, I realized that somehow, we’d ended up in the 5:20 showing rather than the intended 6:45.  Feeling rather like I wanted something to go right tonight, I went back out to the ticket counter and explained the mix-up to the cashier, who said, confused: “There is no 6:45, just a 5:20 and 7:45.”  It was now my turn to be confused, and glancing from the cashier to the theater to Lila who was picking popcorn kernals from the surviving snack box, I thought, “Well, she’s three years old.  Does she really grasp the concept of this?  We could watch this movie until the end and go home and she’d probably be fine.”  The cashier asked if I wanted to stay in the theater to catch the beginning of the next showing, and I thought this a good compromise.

By the time we returned to the theater and repositioned ourselves comfortably in the empty theater with Lila’s popcorn and drink, and this was about the time that the customary semi-violent climactic scene was taking place.  As the muscly Gaston approached the despondent beast with a knife and a blazing torch, Lila became understandably disturbed.  My assurances that it would all be over soon did no good, and soon I had a crying little girl in an empty theater next to spilled popcorn and soda in a movie we’d walked in to twenty minutes from the resolution.

“Let’s go outside while it’s scary.”  I urged, and we took the popcorn outside and watched amusing iPhone videos as I listened to hear that the violent scene was ending.  Lila was happily eating popcorn watching videos at this point, and was not game for my suggestion that we “go back in and watch as they all become humans again.”  She was probably not game because she had no idea the furniture was even under any kind of spell, and looked up at me and said “Can we go home now?”  I reflected upon the evening, upon whether or not this was about me or her, and knowing the answer nodded my head that yes, we were indeed going home.  And it was then that out of the mouth of a babe came wisdom as Lila chirped:

“I’m too tiny for this.”

“Tiny?” I responded, “Perhaps, but I think it is more that Rachel was too ambitious.”  She giggled at this, and told me she liked dolphins.

I returned to the ticket counter feeling the cold wetness of my soda-soaked jeans and Lila’s now clammy hand in my own.

“Is everything ok, Miss?” The cashier asked.

“You know what the problem is with the 5:20 show?” I began, which was probably already more than he wanted to know “It means that this kid has to watch a climactic fight scene with no emotional attachment to the characters to cushion the conflict.”  The cashier looked at me blankly.

“She’s scared out of her mind.”  I offered, trying to quell the English teacher within.

“Would you like to stay for the 7:45?”  He asked.

“No, I think a refund is the way to go.” I said, to which he aptly complied.  When he asked if there was anything else he could do for me, anything at all, I turned around and said

“Sir, when I was six years old, I begged my dad to take me home from a baseball game two innings into it.  So I’m pretty sure that I just got what was coming to me twenty years later.”

He laughed.  Lila told me once again that she liked dolphins.

It was a great night.

 

Sometimes I sit around wondering about things.  Tonight I am writing this blog with a horrendous headache and in a state of utter exhaustion.  In other words, I’m regretting the 30 day commitment and could not be more excited for when creative energy can stop being something I force by the skin of my teeth.  Right now this begrudged blog is the only thing standing between me and watching the BBC show “Sherlock” with a gluten free brownie and a glass of cold almond milk, so I’m rather eager to pound it out.  If this attitude bothers you, then I apologize.

I don’t really understand fake fruit as a decorative pursuit.  If you want people to think you have food in your home, have real food.  There is nothing charming about fake fruit any more than those who decorate with fake pies.  It’s a tease.  I also don’t like it when people decorate with chickens in their kitchen.  How does a chicken communicate the sense of being at home?  Moreover, why is the chicken the chosen calling card of country living simply because it is so widely consumed?  Perhaps we should decorate our homes with hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.  I think it would be just as cute.  One time in Marshalls I saw a decorative chicken that was actually made OF fake fruit, and I stood stupefied that everything I dislike about home decor had come together in that monstrosity.

I find crop tops very confusing and mostly I’m irritated that they have returned as a fashion trend because they look terrible on me.  I don’t think they look nice of anybody.  And yet we are all victims to changing trends, which means we must embrace on some level the new things that become popular and/or patiently wait for the things we like to return to the kingdom of current style.  I myself don’t care for fashion.  When I was working as a substitute teacher I wore the exact same outfit every day because I didn’t see the same people twice.  Now I am expected to come up with original outfits daily, and I feel this is a completely unfair expectation which I have more than once silently protested against by repeating my sweaters on top of different camisoles.  We all stick it to the man in different ways, I guess.

The best way to identify a product that is unnecessary is when the person using it in the commercial is doing something no one does.  Super sharp knives that cut through pennies?  When will I ever have to do something like that?  The US Mint seems to have things under control, yet as I lay awake watching television at 2:00am I see someone in a bad sweater trying to sell me a knife that says otherwise.  I feel the same way when I see car commercials and the driver is trekking through a dessert or what appear to be the Swiss Alps.  I don’t think people get trapped in the dessert with all-terrain tires.  I think the kinds of situations that end with being trapped in the dessert (being a character in a movie where time travel goes wrong) do not happen to ordinary people, especially those with the foresight to prepare for it.  if you’re trapped in the dessert, chances are you’re on foot and are looking desperately for your camel.  A car will not help you unless you can sell it to repay your drug debts.  But perhaps I’m too hard on commercials because I can’t for the life of me get my iPhone to read text messages to me like that guy on the commercial.

Sunscreen confuses me, especially when the numbers get really high or low.  I can’t imagine SPF 4 is doing anything, and I’m pretty sure SPF 100 is also known as “staying inside the house”.  I understand the middle ground, although I am reasonably skeptical of anything that promises to harass and tame the rays of the sun for $4.99 a bottle.  I just can’t imagine we can have that much power for so little money.

If I can think of any other confusing things, I will be sure to write again.  But this was what was on my mind right now.

I am still working on my extensive blog, but in the meantime I might as well throw bones to my readers.      Some days it is not easy to put something out there simply because of the lack of time in the day to develop something really good.  Tonight I am writing from the bed of my teenage years as I am spending the night at my mother’s house.  I am not exactly sure at what time in our lives the houses we live in during our childhoods cease to be ours and begin to be “my mom’s place”.  I would imagine this transition to come at about the same time we start calling our present dwellings “home”.  I never called college home, mostly because I couldn’t consider a place where I shared one single room with another girl and the amassment of our belongings (which equals that of a small village) “home”.  And yet my present digs feels like home to me as I have come into my own and began my own version of homemaking.  This consists of the following things in my house:

-Two pieces of wall art that my cousin made me buy to cover up my stark white walls.  I strategically placed them where the previous owner had put nails.

-A framed article of the one thing I ever had published in my college newspaper.  I put it up because it’s where I found a third nail.

-A painting of a log cabin and trees on butcher paper held up by blue painter’s tape which my friend made as a decoration for a lumberjack party we had at my house a few weeks ago.

-A gaggle of unfolded dish towels by my bedside which I’ve been meaning to fold for over two weeks.

-A bedroom where the only discernible order is the fact that my books are organized on the shelves by genre.

-A sectional sofa (rejected from my mother’s house), an area rug (rejected from a friend’s house), a lamp (which is my roommate’s who is currently moving out, meaning I must get a new lamp), a table lamp (rejected from another friend’s house) and an end table which my mother also did not want.  The only thing that is new is the television and the stand it is on.  I am proud of this.

-Kitchen gadgets: despite having a sparsely decorated home and mostly rejected furniture, I have wonderful kitchen gadgets.  Considering that my other dearly loved habit (besides mediocre blogging) is cooking, I must be prepared for that.

That is the place I call home, where I rest my head at the end of the day of work, where I sometimes entertain guests but mostly see as a respite from the company of others.  Home may mean other things to other people, but for me, it is mostly a place of respite and refuge, a place where I can manage to hide away a little bit, even though every undesired catalogue in the world seems to find its way to my door.  But that’s okay, because it’s not uncommon at all for me to use junk mail as a napkin.

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