Discipline

When I started 2013, I had ideas of what I thought the year would like like. Then things happened and a lot is not what I thought it would be. My laptop crashed and I still haven’t done anything about it because I don’t want to deal with it. I got a nasty stomach bug on my Mexican vacation and spent two days sleeping off the sickness. Other unexpected things are happening and I don’t really know what to do with them except wait and see what happens next.

As I started this year, I really liked the idea of One Word 365, and even picked a word, “whimsy,” inspired by my reading Bob Goff’s Love Does. Then life happened and whimsy was not even close to how 2013 was going to be defined.  Whimsy as my one word went out the door and it has been replaced by “discipline.”  With the loss of things that were important to me, I decided to take that unpleasant opportunity and change parts of my life, one discipline at a time. They’re simple disciplines, but, a la The Happiness Project, it really is sometimes the simplest of changes that can bring about happiness.

First, I pick my outfit for the next day every night. I kind of hate doing this, but I’m much happier in the morning with everything already decided when my early-morning brain is not interested in thinking or deciding. After two years of only having to decide which color uniform polo to wear, this whole choosing “professional attire” is still difficult, even though I’ve been doing it for seven months. The simple discipline of choosing ahead of time means I can think less at 6:30 AM.

Second, I pack my lunch for the next day every night. I eat better and more healthily when I choose at night instead of in a rush in the morning. Again, the simple discipline of choosing ahead of time means I can think less at 6:30 AM.

Third, I joined a gym and I work out with a coworker and I go to Yoga/BodyFlow classes. Part of my motivation for this discipline is the “Healthier You Challenge” that’s happening at my work. I don’t care about losing weight, I just want to be fit, strong, and healthy. In theory, this regular exercise should help me be healthier. I felt good for the first few weeks of this new discipline for me, but the fact that I’m lying in bed with a cold writing this post would seem to lend less credence to the theory of exercise improving health. Thanks preschoolers!

Fourth, I want to read 50 books this year. Right now, according to my Goodreads Challenge widget, I’m right on track, having read 6 books so far this year. I’ve been trying to read one book a week alongside my other activities in my work health challenge. I have been slightly successful.  Lately, being with other people (going to work events or Bible study or hanging out with friends) has taken over reading time. Also, I like to sleep.

This all brings me to today, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. My hope for this Lenten season is to keep going with the disciplines I’ve started, as well as being open to adding new disciplines along the way. I’m also not going to Starbucks. I generally only go once a week or so, but it’s a luxury I’ve come to expect and I really need to not expect it anymore. I want it to be more holy than that, but that’s just what it is.  I’m also going to attempt to write more during this season for this blog, but that’s going to depend on what happens in my life these next 40 days.

Let’s see what happens.

Losing

My laptop crashed yesterday. Most of what’s on it is replaceable or redownloadable or unimportant. It’s just stuff. That’s what I’ve been telling myself anyway. Except there are the pictures of my students for the last two years, the only two years I might have teaching, gone. And every other picture I’ve taken in the last two years, gone. And other random things that I keep remembering that I won’t get back.
I’m angry that I wasn’t prepared and didn’t have backups of those pictures. I know better, but I didn’t do it because figuring the best way seemed so difficult. Now that I know how it feels for them to be gone, it would have been worth the hassle.
I feel ridiculous being so upset over some pictures, a laptop. So many worse things have happened and are happening to people I care about. It’s just a computer, it’s just pictures. But it hurts. A lot.
Thank goodness for Facebook, and our generations need to share things online. Thanks to that need, I do have a lot of picture. Two years of my life won’t go undocumented after all.
Normally I’m very good at forcing myself to feel a certain way, to get over sadness, to find the silver lining. But I can’t/don’t want to right now. Sometimes it’s ok to be sad over lost things. I’m thankful that it’s just a computer, it’s just pictures–but I’m still sad I don’t have them.
I went to sleep last night hoping I would wake up to it all being a nightmare, because that’s what discovering my computer blinking a ? at me felt like. It wasn’t a nightmare, it’s just life. In the meantime, in the midst of being sad about losing, I am blessed by amazing parents who come home early from work because I’m sobbing into the phone over a computer and who will let me just be sad. I work at an amazing place filled with ladies who prayed over my computer and hoped for the best for me and who will be there for me even through the best didn’t happen. I have an amazing best friend who went with me to the apple store for moral support, so I wouldn’t cry all over the apple genius. Although we did decide that we want name tags that call us geniuses. And I have as God who is there for me, even when I am sad and lost, even when I feel bad for feeling sad, even when I’m angry at myself and everything.
Also, I’m going to Mexico in a week. It will be warm there, and my sister will be there. Win/win. Even when I’m lost, I am blessed.

New Year

My senior year of college, I found a list of questions for end of year/beginning of year contemplation. This list includes questions like, What would you like to be different about your life in a year? What would you like to have accomplished in that time? Where would you like to travel? What purchases would you like to make? What do you want to stop doing? What are your favorite things?

In lieu of resolutions, I answer these questions as a way of plotting major goals and plans for the year. I like being able to see what I hoped for and if I accomplished it. I underestimate my past self sometimes–for some dreams and goals, I don’t always remember how long I really wanted it.

It’s easy for me to remember, though, some of the things that don’t happen. How long I’ve waited on plans that never seem to come around the way I want.  Some of the things I hope to be different seem to never change. I’ve had the same hope on my list every year since December 2009/January 2010, and it still isn’t real. It may not seem that long, but it feels like an eternity, because my life has changed so much since then and because it’s a wish held longer than that. It’s a stupid wish, because I can’t control it and I hate things I can’t control. But I refuse to take it off, because I’m not ready to believe it will never happen.

Not everything is bleak, of course. When I answered my questions last year, I focused on researching and creating a new position for myself at the Little Light House. At the time, I was really just being ridiculous. I wanted to create a job were I could improve the LLH’s social media presence, launch a LLH blog, and other internetly things. But it was a long-term dream. I had quiet hopes that it might happen in 2012, but I thought any possibility of a job would be 8 hours on a Friday, and probably 2-3 years before being in charge of social media, etc, would be a full-time job. Yet God worked a lot of pieces together to make a full-time happen THIS YEAR for me and for the LLH. I had forgotten that I had dreamed about the possibility of a new position a year ago, making me thankful to my past self for answering those questions. While there are still dreams that feel like they’re just getting buried deeper and deeper, this dream fulfilled is a promise that not all lofty dreams are buried forever.

Last year I wrote to myself:

“I would like to remember that my life changes so much in one year, even when it feels like nothing has changed.” High-five past self. You were right.  May my life look different again this time in 2013.

Comebacks

Like Tom Hanks’s character Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail, I often think of the perfect comeback for the ridiculous things that some people say to me. Unlike Joe, though, I rarely say those comebacks. Sometimes that’s due to me clinging to every last vestige of self-control I possess. Sometimes it’s because I’m a coward.

Today I have comebacks and my self-control is hanging on by a thread. My threshold for crazy hit its limit. I really want to use my carefully crafted responses. But I shouldn’t.

So I attempt to take my mind off of it by venting vaguely here and by rewatching old episodes of Bones. Season 2 is really one of its best. Aliens in a Spaceship and Judas on a Pole are two of the best episodes of the whole series.

Self-control. Self-control from the Holy Spirit and serialized television. Sometimes that’s what saves the day.

Voting

I have a lot of feelings about voting. I love it. A lot. Voting is the activity that consistently inspires me to write, no matter what else is going on, no matter if I worked 16 hours yesterday, no matter that I’m trying to create content for other venues. I write about voting because it’s important.

This post may be similar to every other post I’ve written in the last two years about voting. I’m not going back to compare, but don’t be shocked if my feelings and reasons are the same as I’ve written in the past.

This is the first presidential election for which I’ve voted in person. Last time I sent my ballot in the mail. Satisfactory, but there’s no sticker that comes with an absentee ballot.  I got to wear my sticker all day today, which was exciting.

I vote for many reasons. One, I like it and it’s fun. Two, I like wearing an I voted sticker. Three, I like people watching at the polls.  Four, I enjoy doing my civic duty. Those are good reasons, but they’re really not the most important.

I vote because barely 92 years ago, I couldn’t have. It hasn’t even been 100 years that women in America have been allowed to vote. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I don’t live in an America where I couldn’t vote just because I am a woman.

I vote because I’ve been in the driveway where Medgar Evers was shot in Mississippi, where he was murdered because of his work in the civil rights movement and voter registration. We all know that soldiers have fought around the world to preserve our freedoms, and I am so thankful. But I want us to remember those, like Medgar Evers, that died here, in the name of voting and civil rights. Stories like Medgar’s, moments like standing in that driveway, must mean something. I stubbornly vote because I don’t want to forget these stories.

I vote because I believe it matters.

I love voting.

Morning. Or Mourning.

I wake up to NPR every morning. My old alarm clock (complete with cassette player!) is stuck at a volume that’s too loud for my slow-to-wake tendencies. And I have to move a little too much to reach it, and I’m lazy. So, I push buttons on my little iPod touch to get my KWGS streaming radio of Morning Edition on my NPR app. So. Lazy.

It has happened twice in the last months that I have been jolted into reality from my fight to make myself get out of bed. I know the voices of Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne, their various replacements, the morning reporters. And I can tell when something terrible has happened.

Voices change. They speak differently. I hear unfamiliar voices in the studio, not just from a short quote in a story.

Something is wrong.

Something happened while I was sleeping.

Two somethings have happened recently: the shooting in Aurora and today, when the ambassador to Libya and three others were murdered. The Morning Edition hosts sound different. Their voices changed. They were urgent and seemingly unscripted. They’re sorting out breaking news.

Both times, I sit up in bed in the dark. My mind sensed the changes on the radio, but it takes some moments to figure out what has happened.

And then the news is terrible. Today, I listened as Steve announced that it had been confirmed by the State Department that Chris Stevens had died. It was online on other news websites (I checked as I listened), but they were waiting on the State Department to make it official. This is serious business.

They rarely know many details right away at 6ish AM, when news breaks. They try to share what they know, but so much is up in the air as events happens, reports trickle in.

Terrible things happen all the time. But there are some moments, like this morning, that feel especially heavy. Maybe it’s because I just woke up. Maybe it’s because an ambassador is dead, and that’s not a thing that’s supposed to happen. Maybe it’s because things like this move so quickly and I want those who make quick decisions in response to these things will make the right choices. Maybe it’s because death is terrible.

Maybe it’s because my heart knows this is just one of the terrible things that happened while I was sleeping.

Feelings

I cried 3 out of 5 work days last week. This is what happens when you go to a funeral on Monday, have your last day of teaching and know that your students will be someone else’s and not yours next year on Thursday, visit a sick student in the hospital on Friday morning, and say goodbye to a beloved coworker who’s retiring to homeschool her children (one of whom you taught all year) on Friday afternoon.

Last week had too many feelings.

I’ve had to do too many “brave things” lately. This is not a reference to the as yet unseen by me Pixar movie. Instead, it is thing made-up by me as a way to define doing things that are hard for me, cause a lot of feelings, and that I don’t want to do because of fear. And ok, sometimes laziness. And while I will allow laziness (rest) to make some decisions for me, fear does not have that signatory approval over my decision making.

But man, doing brave things is exhausting. It’s not for sissies.

Crying isn’t for sissies either. It shows that something was real, that it had meaning. Which is great, but it still all feels terrible.

I started a new job today. So there’s that in my glass case of emotion. Don’t worry, I haven’t left my work–Same place, different responsibilities, new job.

Being brave isn’t for sissies.

Reality and Ridiculous

In a video produced for my ministry, a parent described the LLH as the intersection of love and excellence. We really like that description, because it captures two of our most important values. We love our students and we are excellent at trying to figure out what makes them tick.

I feel like my life lately is an intersection of reality and ridiculous. I’ve been becoming increasingly cranky at others [read: Christians] who aren’t living in reality (based on my own cynical observations). I could cite specific examples and point fingers, but that’s rude and I’m trying to not be unnecessarily rude. Suffice it to say I’m tired of watching people living oblivious to the harsh realities in the world around them.  I’m tired of hearing about how it’s obvious Jesus is coming soon, reading an announcement in the church bulletin about how you shouldn’t pick up plastic bottles from your yard because kids put drano and foil in them and they’ll explode and look Snopes says it’s true (except it actually only happened once in New York two years ago), and putting up with other crazy things that put peoples’ focus off of things that are actually happening and actually matter. And yes, I know the thing about plastic bottles was a specific example, but it was just so annoying that I couldn’t help it. Yes, that was a real thing that happened yesterday. 

I just want to stand up in church or wherever I encounter this behavior and shout about all that’s happening in the world. Don’t you know that thousands of people are dying in Syria? That war might be brewing again in Sudan? What are we doing to contribute positively to race relations in Tulsa?  Don’t you know that Jesus cares more about loving my students and their families then he does about worrying about his return? Don’t you know I’m dealing with real people and real problems, not imaginary plastic bottle bombs

There has to be a middle. I don’t expect everyone to jump up and follow me to my ministry. And I don’t think shouting will help anyone but me.  But I don’t know how to or even if I should bother encouraging people in my world to engage with reality and put aside this time-wasting. 

I don’t the answer, but until an acceptable one appears, I have things to do. Because remember, my life is an intersection of reality and ridiculous.

Today’s reality? One of my students is having a shunt revision. His mom says this is a surgery he has had before, but still, it’s his brain. I feel like it’s a big deal. I really need him to be fine. So I pray.

Today’s ridiculous? We kind of need OneOk’s stock to go up in the next few weeks. Someone gave my ministry a lot of it, and the higher the price, the more money we can have for our new building.  In addition to this miracle stock donation, we need another 3-5 million by May 25th so we can expand and serve more kids and teach more people how to do what we do.   So I pray.

When I focus on my reality and ridiculous, the other insanity fades to the back. Because I don’t have time to waste being annoyed at insanity. I have a kid in surgery and stock to go up. There’s a lot to pray about and a lot to have faith about, whether or not anyone else picks up on this ridiculous reality. 

Captain

I have been given many mixed messages on being a woman. To be clear from the start, these messages aren’t from my parents. From them I received nothing but affirmation, along with no prescription that I must get married to be important. The mixed messages arrived from some of the people in the Christian subculture where I spent a lot of my time. It’s a strange world I inhabited.

I was often surrounded by people who spoke of feminism like it was a filthy dirty swear word, who believed that women were naturally second best, who gave women important tasks but always with a man in authority. But simultaneously I was always encouraged to be the best that I could be, that I could be anyone I wanted, that I was intelligent and beautiful, that I was a woman of God. I could change the world, follow my dreams, and do great things for the glory of God. Except, when it really came down to it, I really should be married to do those things. I needed a man to guide me. Except, once I was married, I really just needed to have children and then I had to stay at home and homeschool and keep a perfect home. All of those dreams? A career? Any use of a college education beyond teaching my children? I can’t actually have any of those things because I am a woman. And women who love God and follow Jesus has to follow these steps. Or you aren’t living biblically.

Needless to say, these conflicting messages have been confusing. Why do you tell me how much I can achieve, then teach me that I can’t actually do any of it? What do you mean I need a man in order to have a fulfilled life? I’m really just supposed to quit the dreams God has called me to fit into your ideal of who a “Christian woman” is supposed to be? My only dream is supposed to be being a wife and mother? In the words of Liz Lemon: blergh.

I would like to say I’ve wrestled with this dilemma, but let’s be honest. I haven’t wrestled with it. I just realized I was being forced into a false dichotomy, so I chose to throw aside the crazy. Someday, part of my life may include finding a travel buddy [read: a husband] and having children. And I would like to stay home with those children and perhaps homsechool them. BUT I DON’T HAVE TO BASED ON SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEAL FOR MY LIFE JUST BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN.

I can do great things without a man–and with one. I can make great decisions on my own–and with others. I can have dreams–and God can change or keep them. I am the captain of this ship, with God drawing up the maps as I go along.

Even though choosing to throw out some of the crazy imposed upon me wasn’t difficult, the old messages pop up with surprising frequency. When everyone is getting married and having babies, it feels weird to be one of the few that isn’t. Is there something wrong with me? Am I not living the way I should? Why am I not getting asked on dates preparing for marriage (or whatever the conservative Christian kids are calling it these days)?

If I still believed what I was told for so many years, these and other questions would lead me to think that I was out of God’s will. I would think that my life isn’t good enough because I’m not married. Worst of all, I would think that someone else is responsible for my happiness and completeness as a child of God. That sobers me up pretty good, because those are lies.

I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m who I’m supposed to be. I’m working in the job at the ministry where I belong. For this season, since I am not otherwise attached, I can devote myself to my job without reservations. I can take extra responsibilities, learn new tasks, and do things for others that I couldn’t do if I had a man and children at home. I love my life.

I am not lesser in God’s eyes because I am a woman. I am following his dreams for me. I am making a difference. And no amount of other people’s crazy will change that.

I am the captain of this ship, with God drawing up the maps as I go along.

TV

I think I’ve mentioned before that over the last two years, my entertainment and escapist world of choice has been TV shows. I don’t sit in front of the television, ironically.  Instead I indulge with Netflix and DVDs on my laptop.

This development has come about for a number of reasons.  First, I’m tired. And I’m busy. I love my job, but it’s demanding. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I wrote a paragraph that scratches the surface of what I do in a day, but that just got exhausting so I stopped writing and decided I’d elaborate on that another day. Just picture a lot of preschoolers, co-workers, volunteers, cleaning, and running around like a crazy person. That’s my life. And I love it. But when I come home I don’t want to read.  My brain is sleepy and I want to do something that demands less from me.  Reading requires a lot of my brain and my emotions.  Shows pull on my emotions, but in a different and less demanding way than reading.  So, TV it is.

Second, I enjoy TV shows more than movies.  Movies are an hour and a half or two, and then they’re over.  Unless it’s Firefly (tears), TV shows have multiple seasons with many episodes.  More stories? More character development? More of my favorite actors? Yes please. I enjoy being able to immerse myself in a show’s universe, story arcs, and characters over a longer period of time than movies allow. Escapism!

Third, Netflix has better TV shows than movies.

Fourth, when I do read, I’ve become interested in mostly memoirs and non-fiction.  Fiction, except for young adult literature, doesn’t really strike a chord with me anymore.  I loved The Help, but I read that last Spring Break and I haven’t read any good fiction since then.  I know it’s out there, I just can’t/won’t make the investment. I mostly read Christian fiction in high school, and I don’t like that anymore either.  My most recent reading binge of 20 books on my trip to Mexico only included three works of fiction, all Christian. And I hated two of of them, because they were so insipid and useless. But I like to finish things, so there you go. Despite these disappointments, I still love stories of things not real. And since written fiction has been letting me down, TV comes to save the day.  Oh, the stories I have found and loved in television over the last two years!  Like books always have, the stories in shows are making a mark in my life.

Fifth, I love the ridiculous.  Time traveling alien? Yes. A forensic anthropologist and her crack science and FBI team? Check. A political drama set in space? Awesome. A sci-fi western? No doubt. A cute nerd and some spies? Definitely.  I don’t watch shows to experience real life.  Reality need not invade on my entertainment.  I want to see what’s possible on the edge of imagination. I want a window on what life is like without some of the limits put on mine. I want to dream about adventures that are impossible. I love seeing how a super-spy mission, a trip to an imaginary planet or a battle against a terrifying foe can give insight into my own life. Because it does. I will elaborate on that another day, though.

Sixth, I like the funny. My job is ridiculous and hilarious most days. But some days it’s soul-wearying.  I dwell in reality, where life is hard for my students and their families. Again, a story for another day. But while dwelling in reality is the only place I want to be, it can be draining. And sometimes I just want to laugh.  A crazy paper company staff? Of course. A dysfunctional family who is perpetually ridiculous? Hilarious. Crazy friends living the New York life trying to find love and happiness?  Absolutely.  The cast of a made-up comedy show constantly becoming involved in shenanigans? Always. I don’t care if people aren’t that funny in real life. That’s why I’m watching: to appreciate humor in a world that needs some.

Seventh, I just like TV shows.

 

Now that I’ve analyzed my current obsession to some detail, it’s time to play Guess Those Shows (a distant cousin of my family game of Guess Who’s Dead). I’m not especially clever with my descriptions nor do I watch obscure TV shows, but I’m curious if my scant readership knows which shows I described. So, Guess Those Shows?

Sometimes

Sometimes everything changes when you least expect it. And when you have no control over it. On at least 3 occasions over the last two weeks, something startling, surprising, shocking, or all of the above has happened.  This has been overwhelming.  To say the least.  These moments of surprise have been BIG DEALS.  Changing the way I view my life.  Putting the rest of the 2012 on a completely different playing field. Throwing some parts of my life off balance. Bringing chaos in places I thought were calm. And this is me not being dramatic.  

Yeah, it’s been that kind of few weeks. Even my dreams are starting to reflect the crazy that keeps appearing around me. 

So many things that happen in my life are inextricably tied to the lives of others, so any sharing beyond my typical vagueness is not an option.  That’s for the best. The details of how life is changing don’t really matter, because my life is always in flux (it feels like). Right now, the changes are just coming at me faster than usual.  They’re hard because I have no control over them. Also, most of these adjustments may not ever be known by others.  Life will change, has changed, whether I like it or not, and no one will notice

No one will notice. 

I really need to improve my titles. They’re not my strong suit. 

If anyone needs me, I will be watching Chuck and pretending I’m a spy. The chaos of other fake worlds makes mine seem less threatening. 

MLKJR

If I were a better user of wordpress/the internet, I would find some way to fancy up the presentation of the links below. Alas, I am not, so I’m really not going to try this time. The links below are a few audio documentaries related to the Civil Rights movement, as well as a link to speeches by prominent leaders in the Civil Rights movie.  One of those speeches found under link number 5 is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last speech.

This year and last year are the first times in my life that I have had the opportunity to actually observe MLKJR day. In elementary/middle/high school,  my private school didn’t observe the day, saying it was just too close to the beginning of the year, when really it was just their way of disrespecting this man, this movement, freedom. Unfortunately, in showing their disdain for this holiday (again, with the vague excuse of inconvenience and a not-veiled hatred of government holidays because they thought the government infringes on our rights by making us take days off….) they displayed their disregard for the great things this man and this movement accomplished.  Whether they were so passive-aggressively hateful from ignorance or intention, I’ll never know. I don’t really want to know.

In college, school was not called off, but they day was honored with special chapels with topics relating to MLKJR and civil rights. Better, but still not quite good enough.

Take the day, observe it, celebrate it. I didn’t do anything particularly special, except write this, and think about life in America. I’m overwhelmed sometimes by how bad things were and how bad things still are in regards to civil rights and racial reconciliation. When I think back to what I’ve learned about the Civil Rights Movement, particularly Freedom Summer and MLKJR’s assassination, I wonder on whose side I would have been.

I want to be the kind of person who was marching, who was registering people to vote, who was involved. I don’t ever want to be on the sidelines. Ever.  I don’t know who I would have been, I just know who I want to be. That’s why I take my job working with children with disabilities so seriously and so personally. It’s a different fight than the one about ending institutional discrimination based on the color of skin, but it’s still important. Again, while I can’t go back in time and know where I would have stood in 1964, I can say I’m in the thick of it for the mostly silent battle for respect, honor, and dignity for those with disabilities. I refuse to stay on the passive sidelines, letting other people do the work.

I’ve stood where MLKJR spent his last moments, where he died. I’ve stood where his assassin fired. It was a moving, sobering experience.  That museum, that whole week in Jackson and Memphis still stands as an important marker in my life.  It’s partially because of that journey that I take a day like today so seriously.

It matters.

Audio-documentaries

  1. http://transportationnation.org/backofthebus/
  2. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/index.html
  3. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/mississippi/
  4. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/oh_freedom/index.html
  5. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/

There Can Only Be One Amy

The Girl Who Waited is an upsetting episode of Doctor Who. It is also more awesome on a large television.

It amazes me how much stories that are absurd can feel so real and possible. I will never come upon time traveling situations, I won’t travel in a Tardis, I don’t have a Rory, there is no such thing as Appalapachia… But it feels real, and that’s what matters. I don’t know why it matters, but it’s important to me.

Happy Christmas!

I love Christmas. No caveats.
I don’t care who says happy holidays. I ignore those who complain about the practice of giving gifts to people other than Jesus on his birthday (I submit that he’s delighted by the love we show to others through gift-giving, but that’s apparently just me). I don’t care if other people over-commercialize Christmas. Not my problem.

I love Christmas. I love being with family. Decorations. Music. Tasty treats. Thinking up the perfect gifts and watching people open them (or hearing about it over a phone call or skyping about it). Receiving the gifts my family has picked out for me. Three weeks off of work. Doctor Who Christmas specials. Most Christmas specials.
And of course: Jesus. No cliches, no reasons for the season, no banging over the head with Merry Christmas. Just: Happy Birthday Jesus. For one day in our crazy hectic world, everything stops to celebrate you.

Feliz Navidad!

Also, this is my 100th post. I’ve been saving it for something special.

A Simple Google Search Will Do

Whenever anyone writes the following words in a facebook status, blog post, twitter update, or whatever in accompaniment with a controversial article, an angel doesn’t get his wings. Or a fairy dies:

“I haven’t researched this or anything, but this could definitely be true.”

HEADDESK. HEADDESK.
Also, FACEPALM.
Also, please don’t reproduce.

Also, if you don’t know or are at least reasonably certain that an article or information is accurate, don’t share it. It’s irresponsible and stupid.

This is why books like Panic Virus have to be written.

People, this is what Google is for.

Seriously, this is how rumors get started.

Alive!

I’ve made it! November is barely an hour away from completion. I attempted this month to post every day. When overcome by disease and then holiday, I failed. But, failure is a part of life that we must all accept. I still wrote more than I would have if I hadn’t tried.

Fear of failure is an insidious thing, which is why I try desperately to avoid that fear. So many people are held captive by “but what if I can’t?” that they don’t see what they might accomplish if they try. I used to be that way. I have my quirks still, but I am no longer paralyzed by fear of failure. It’s life. Just try to set yourself up for success and accept that there will be bumps.  Some of those bumps may feel like Everest, but hey, isn’t Everest supposed to be thrilling?

The show How I Met Your Mother is now on Netflix. I’ve always wanted to watch it, but I haven’t had access until now. It is hilarious and it is probably what will help get me through December. That and the DVD’s of Chuck I now own. Thanks Amazon Black Friday.

November, you were weird. Weird, emotional, stomach bug-inducing, and more. December, please to be more healthy for me.

Goals

I randomly set a goal of reading 30 books in the year 2011 on the website Goodreads. I was reminded of this goal with a notification that I am significantly behind the pace.

Now, in years past (read: most of my life), reading only 30 books in a year would seem a defeat. I don’t have hard numbers on how many books I read growing up, but it was many, many books. That was a perk of being homeschooled, having an awesome public library, and an amazing home library. In college, I still read a lot, but less fun reading (obviously) due to different assignments and schedules. Then I graduated from college. And somewhere between finishing college and now, I lost some of my ability to concentrate on a book and want to read it.

If my younger self could read me say that, she would have a panic attack. Fortunately, I’m vaguely at peace with this stage of my life in which I have a great many things to do which make me very exhausted. And reading isn’t always the relaxing time it once was for me. It will come back, I’m sure, but for now it’s on a vacation. Let’s face it, sometimes watching a tv show on Netflix is easier for my emotionally exhausted brain and physically exhausted body. There’s more to my interest in tv than just exhaustion, but that’s for another day.

Nevertheless, I am 13 books away from my goal. I’ve probably read more that 17 that Goodreads has kept track of, but I’ve forgotten those. I also sometimes read books-worth of material on blogs or news articles, but those are not books. So, here’s to trying to complete my goal in spite of my current ennui in regards to reading.

I didn’t get as much reading done this week as I had hoped, thanks to stomach bugs and family time. However, there are only 13 working days (10 school days) between here and Christmas break, so there is still time.

I’m nothing but optimistic. If not also cynical.

Podunk

Tomorrow my family is driving to Podunk to attend a funeral. Don’t panic, this is not a funeral of anyone close to me. My great-uncle died, my grandfather’s younger brother. The only time I have a memory of meeting him was at my grandmother’s funeral. 10 years ago. I was a little preoccupied at the time, and much younger (obviously), so I didn’t really care. There were lots of family I didn’t really know at that funeral and after-party, so no one was really a high priority for me.

Nevertheless, going to funerals, even in Podunk, is what you do for family. Even when it’s the strange side of the family, that you’ve seen twice. Maybe three times.

It’s really by the grace of God and my grandfather’s decision to go to college instead of living a migrant worker’s life that made the difference in me not living in Podunk now. My life is vastly different from that of my extended-extended family (I’m talking second cousins and beyond). All because of some good choices by people (my grandfather mainly) who I don’t really know. It’s crazy.

It may be a long drive tomorrow, but ridiculous stories are a guarantee. I probably won’t write about them here, but those of you who know me in real life will get to hear stories. Or if you’re dying to know, send me an email and I’ll write some down.

And the city we’re going isn’t really called Podunk. It just feels like it. And it’s an amusing enough name that I wish it were called Podunk.

Daybreak

I finished the last episode of Battlestar Galactica today. Yes, I know watching BSG makes me an epic nerd, but I care not. It’s amazing. And terrifying.  I could have been done ages ago, but I kept putting off watching the last few episodes because I couldn’t handle it ending. Even though it actually ended a couple of years ago.

There are so many philosophical, spiritual, and ethical questions that BSG raises. It’s a fascinating show, a political drama of sorts that happens to be in space. It’s bleak, it’s fascinating, it’s crazy, it’s thought-provoking.

Yet, all I can think about is how I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive the hair people on Season 4 for the travesty that was done to Jamie Bamber’s/Lee Adama’s hair.

 

Not Real Problems

I was trying to post once a day in November, which resulted in some four sentence gems of posts. But yesterday I forgot. And I’ve gotten over it.

I’d like to discuss problems which are not real problems. I often find myself watching tv shows and reading books where people or characters begin complaining about the difficulties they are having with things that either don’t matter or problems they have created. This drives me bonkers, in both media and real life.

Take Sister Wives. The sister wives often discuss the difficulties of sharing a husband. Well, yes. Sharing one man amongst four women will be a little tricky. Yes, he’ll have to split his time. Yes, you knew this when you got married. This is not a real problem. It frustrates you, but since you created and expected this outcome, this is not the same as a legitimate problem.

Another example of not real problems are situations where people make a huge deal out of something nearly everyone sees as something simple. You know those people, who blow small situations out of proportion. I’m not claiming I’ve never done it, but I certainly try not to make a habit of creating Everest out of a mustard seed.

I’ve spent too much time with people like this in my life. And I don’t know why I put up with it. Probably because I don’t know how to end it without flat-out telling people they’re stupid and just need to stop. I haven’t actually tried that approach, because polite society discourages that. Think it might work, though?  Probably not.

If you’re going to have a problem, please make it a real one. I’m quite good at helping and supporting those who have real problems. Not real problems just make me want to smack you.