What I’m Into: September 2014

After months of just thinking about writing a post to link up with Leigh Kramer‘s What I’m Into series, it’s finally September and I think I’m finally going to manage it on time.  While I’m still dealing with my kidney problems, life finally feels like it’s settling into a normal rhythm.  Thank you September, for calming down a little.

Spanish School Friends

One of the greatest parts of Spanish School was making new friends: Mexican, American, and Canadian. I miss most of these friends as they’re flung out all over the world, but fortunately two of these friends only live a few hours away!  They made the trip to Tulsa in the beginning of September to visit Emily and me before Emily returned to Mexico for the fall.  Natasha and Levi’s visit was one of the best parts of September: there’s nothing quite like being able to spend time with friends who have shared a very important and specific life experience like attending language school in a foreign country.

Emily, Me, Natasha, and Levi
Emily, Me, Natasha, and Levi


Did you know I knit?  I took a bit of a hiatus from knitting in the past couple years, and in September I pulled out my yarn and needles again.  I had some half-finished projects that took some time to figure out where I had left off, and I also started some new projects. Necks will be warmed this fall and winter! If it ever gets cold.  Note: knitting is fun, but it’s time-consuming and not cheap if you like nice yarn and needles.  If you receive something handknitted, know that person loves you an awful lot. Second note: I don’t give many knitted items. My mom is still waiting on a cowl I started two years ago (maybe it will be done this Christmas…..)

You mean everyone doesn't have a yarn bowl?
You mean everyone doesn’t have a yarn bowl?


As of the end of September, I have finished 66 books this year.  I’m still hopeful to meet my goal of 100 read by December 31, but I’m pleased with my progress so far.  These favorites from this month were all very good, especially My Salinger Year and Dear Committee Members–I basically devoured both of them and would recommend them highly.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (memoir)

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance–What Women Should Know by Kay Katty and Claire Shipman (nonfiction, self-help)

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher (epistolary fiction, hilarious)

Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World by Nish Weiseth (Christian storytelling)

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman (memoir)

Inspired by this post on Book Riot, I’ve started a spreadsheet to even further analyze what I’m reading (I KNOW and I don’t care. I’m a nerd). Goodreads is awesome for overall tracking of books, but I’m interested in information that Goodreads doesn’t really track, like gender or country of origin of the author.  I’m working towards expanding and diversifying my reading habits, and I want to quantify what I’m lacking.  I also just want to make a spreadsheet of my books.


Ah, fall, the time of new television. Some of my favorite shows have started their new seasons in September, including Bones, Once Upon a Time, Big Bang Theory, and Castle. All of these shows (ok, except for BBT), started off their seasons with a lot of drama and excitement, and I’m looking forward to how these shows will play out their current storylines.  The new season of Doctor Who has also started, but they’re stacking up on the DVR, as yet unwatched because I’m just not that into the new doctor yet.

Another show I’ve been enjoying the last couple months has been Project Runway. I loved the first few seasons, then fell away as a viewer when they switched to Lifetime. I came back this season because of how much I love Tim Gunn, and I have not been disappointed. It’s been an interesting show, especially the episode featuring American Girl dolls (which led me to searching eBay for American Girl doll accessories, so if you’re looking for the spinster nerd club, it’s meeting over here at my house).

Another September TV highlight was the Roosevelts on PBS.  I love history, I love the Roosevelts, I love PBS.  My dad and I have finished 8 of the 14 hours so far and will be finishing the remaining 6 hours soon.  It’s an amazing documentary, and if you can set aside 14 hours of your life to watch it, you should. It will make you smarter.


At the end of September, I spent the weekend in Arkansas–even though it’s not that far from Tulsa, going somewhere different just for a couple days is so refreshing.  My college roommate and I made a point of visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, an art museum built and sponsored by Wal-Mart, to see their current special exhibition called State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now.  It is an excellent exhibit with many different creative pieces and you should go see it. Also, it’s free, which is even more reason to go see it.  Go get cultured!

Crystal Bridges
Crystal Bridges


Around the internet, I found this challenge called #31daysofwriting for the month of October.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll be doing #31daysofreading for my #31daysofwriting.  In theory, I will be writing reviews and thoughts on all these books I’ve been reading this year. In practice, I’m not entirely sure what I will be writing. Stay tuned.


What I’m Into: August 2013

Tomorrow I’m moving to Mexico, so my review of August needs to be posted early. I liked things, so here is What I’m Into, modeled off of HopefulLeigh’s What I’m Into” series.  (I’ve never been good at introductions.)


My main TV conundrum here at the end of August has been what seasons to take with me to Mexico.  While I mainly rely on my best friend Netflix in America, I’m cancelling it for the months I’m away in Mexico.  I’ve accumulated a slight TV DVD collection over the last few years of my favorites, particularly Chuck and Bones.  I also found Season 2 of Project Runway at Half Price Books in Dallas, so that’s making the trip. TIM GUNN EVERYBODY. What makes the cut depends on the size of DVD case I can find and how much I end up deciding I actually “need.” Let’s face it, Chuck, I need. Yes, I have a problem and no, I don’t care.

I began Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I liked it, but I quickly realized how much crossover there was with the “new” series Angel (and when I say new, I mean new when season 4 of BTVS started, not new as in it premiered last week).  And I didn’t have the time or the inclination to try to watch both shows at once and figure out the overlaps and crossovers, so Buffy/Angel is going on hold until after my Mexican adventure.

I forgot how much I loved Battlestar Galactica.  While debating with myself on deciding a new show to watch next, I watched the first episode of Season 1, “33,” and now all of a sudden I’m almost done with season 2, having pressed Next One! Next One! Next One! repeatedly. (That link is to a clip from Portlandia–their over-the-top take on binge-watching Battlestar Galatica is hilarious and also accurate).  I loved Battlestar Galactica the first time I watched it over a year ago, and it is still awesome. I’m pretending the parts in the 4th season where Apollo/Lee/Jamie Bamber has the worst hair in the history of ever just don’t happen.  BSG is bleak and upsetting and I love it. It’s not for everyone, but if you like drama, ethical conundrums, realism in a bleak world, and ridiculousness, BSG is for you. Also, if you like women to be in your shows and to be spectacularly awesome, this show is for you.  PS I want to be Starbuck, but not really, but I do.  Also, CYLONS.


When I get busy, reading slips down my list of priorities.  August has been a flurry of surprise nannying, visiting friends in Arkansas, meeting lots of people for coffee, spending time with my parents, and just getting ready to change my life. So, I’m tired, and when I’m tired books are hard, so I bond with Netflix instead.

Two books, though, did make their way into my hands: Insurgent and Cuckoo’s Calling.  Unfortunately, I only read one, Insurgent.  I felt similarly about Insurgent as I did about Divergent. It was fine, there were parts I didn’t like, but also parts I really enjoyed. While reading Insurgent, the author, Veronica Roth, celebrated her 25th birthday. Upon discovering that fact, I felt a little bit unaccomplished in life, as I am also 25 and feel as though I have yet to have any accomplishments as impressive as publishing three books (or, almost three, Allegiant isn’t published until later this fall). Then I remember that I have played a part in potty-training 3 small children and I feel like my life has more meaning.

Sorry, Cuckoo’s Calling, I wanted to read you, but Insurgent was easier and you had to go back to the library for someone else to read.

I’ve discovered a number of new books that I’m interested in reading, including March by John Lewis. When I discovered the existence of March last night after watching a special on the March on Washington in 1963, I immediately wanted to buy the book for my trip. Alas, at both Barnes and Nobles it is out of stock. I also discovered that Cory Doctorow wrote a sequel to his awesome and publicly/freely available Little Brother at some point, and I never knew. The sequel is called Homeland, and it continues the story of kids trying to survive what the blurb on Goodreads describes as a “tyrranical security state.” Both books deal with hacking, security, rights, and America–I highly recommend Little Brother and can’t wait to read Homeland.  These are just two examples of books on my to-read list, but alas they will probably have to remain unread until my return from Mexico.

Packing for three months with a 50 pound limit makes one appreciate ebooks. While I did remove two pairs of shoes to make room for a book, not many physical books will be making the journey to Mexico. This pains me, but I need clothes and tea bags and kleenexes. And somehow they add up to 50 pounds even before I pack books? Alas. Thank goodness for ebooks. 

A book available only as an ebook that I’m currently reading is Every Shattered Thing by Elora Ramirez.  I knew her from her blog, and grew to know her brother through participating in her Story 101 Community.  She’s a brilliant writer, and just released Every Shattered Thing within the last week. I have an ARC, but I’m buying it. Come on, it’s $2.99!  You can get it as a Nook edition or a Kindle edition.


I’ve mostly been listening to Vampire Weekend, Ellie Goulding, and the XX. It’s unlikely that I will be discovering any new music in the next few months.


I love my September Vogue. There’s something about such a giant tome of fashion, culture, and sometimes weirdness that is so fascinating.  And you know what’s great? I’ll be in Mexico shortly, and there’s a magazine store that I love that has Mexico Vogue and Spain Vogue AND MAYBE I CAN GET TWO MORE SEPTEMBER ISSUES TO READ IN SPANISH ONCE I LEARN IT. I just hope they’re still in stock when I get there.


This is happening. Bright and too early tomorrow morning, I will be on my way to Mexico with my sister.  I will have internet, but no iPhone (and I just got one!) service.  Fortunately I finally figured out how to suspend service for 3 months without billing, which is fantastic!  So I’m going, no strings attached, to learn Spanish. On Sunday I’m going to be on the beach, drinking a Mexican Coke and eating a shrimp cocktail. On Monday I’ll start language learning.  As Hermione says in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “Everything’s going to change now, isn’t it?

Roca Blanca

What I’m Into: July 2013

Well, July happened. I went on a family vacation and then bridesmaided in another wedding.  I just got a short-term 2-3 day a week nanny job to make a little money before I move to Mexico. And I liked things, so here is my What I’m Into, modeled off of HopefulLeigh’s What I’m Into” series.


Because I was traveling a lot in the early parts of July, I really didn’t watch a lot of new TV. I was enjoying my family and doing nothing, and then I was bridesmaiding.  There was a lot of rewatching of my perennial favorites, like 30 Rock and and HIMYM, but for most of early July, I didn’t delve in to new TV. Also, all my traveling caught up with me and I got some kind of allergies/cold/sinus infection combination and I pretty much laid in bed for many days.  Along with continuing rewatches, I picked back up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched the first season sometime last year, but then just dropped it.  It is my new favorite thing, and I’m already almost done with Season 3. It’s crazy and weird, but it’s fascinating.


My family vacation to Lakeside is where I read. A lot. Hours in the car and on the porch of our rental home are spent reading, reading, reading. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you will see many pictures from various family members of this years time at Lakeside, and in nearly every picture, I’m reading a different book.  I finished quite a few books this month, and started/got stuck/abandoned quite a few, too.

I love being able to catalog my reading habits on Goodreads.  It frees up a little space in my brain, so I don’t have to remember every single book on my to-read list (which is ridiculous) or even recently read list. It’s also fun to catalog my thoughts as I read.  See especially my reading updates on Killing Kennedy, in which I quoted it’s ridiculous foreshadowing of Kennedy’s upcoming assassination. Spoiler Alert: Killing Kennedy is about the Kennedy Assassination.

I finished 8 books on my vacation (including the aforementioned Killing Kennedy).  Two favorites were Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm and The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School.  Both of these books are memoirs of women who left their normal life and decided to do something crazy, something that they’ve always wanted to do: working on an oyster farm and going to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, respectively.  I really enjoyed these books, because I love memoir and because I highly identified with stories of crazy life change. Shucked, I happened to find on Anthropologie’s Instagram.  Yes, that’s weird, but it had a pretty cover and hey I judge books by their covers.  Let’s face it, I love memoirs, and I wish I had brought a dozen more.

When I last went to Mexico, I read America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines by Gail Collins, which detailed the history of women in America for its first 400 years, up until about the 60’s. Somehow, I had no idea she had also written a “sequel”about the incredible changes for women since 1960, When Everything Changed The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.  I highly recommend both of these books if you enjoy history.  Neither are action-packed, but they’re fascinating.

When it comes to “beach reads,” I have a very low threshold for inanity. However, after taking The President’s Club to read on the dock, I quickly realized that I needed to bring something a little less educational.  The answer was Divergent.  Once I conquered the slow first few chapters, the book LITERALLY jumped a speeding train and became a fascinating and quick read.  I finished it in about a day, and my cousin and sister were able to finish it by the end of the week. If you like dystopia or young adult lit, give this book a try. I’m on the waiting list for its sequel at the library and I’m just hoping it arrives before I leave. 

My other favorite of books I read on vacation was The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson. I first loved Maureen from her fabulous twitter. She is constantly hilarious about all sorts of random topics.  Now that she has a puppy, she is on fire. I email my best friend tweets from Maureen about 10 times a week.  Madness Underneath, sequel to The Name of the Star, was simultaneously great and horrifying (in the best way), which is exactly how I like my entertainment these days.  I typically don’t enjoy books about supernatural phenomena, but Johnson’s spin on a ghost story is different from any paranormal story I’ve previously encountered.  If you like England and humor, try it.


I’ve been trying out Spotify’s “Discover” feature, whereby it suggests similar music to what you have previously listened to or it reminds you to listen to a song you haven’t heard in awhile. Their suggestions are good, but I’ve rarely ever found music that I fell in love with from an algorithmically chosen suggestion. My enjoyment of music is rooted in what the music is paired with.  For example, was the song in an important scene in a favorite TV show? Which really means, was it in Chuck?  See nearly all of my recently played music for more than the last year on Spotify. Wanting to listen to music from Chuck was 90% of the reason I used Spotify in the first place. Vampire Weekend and the Head and the Heart are examples of bands I have started to enjoy based on liking more of their songs than what appeared in Chuck, etc.   The recommendations and suggestions from a computer program just aren’t the same.


One of my favorite air traveling pastimes is to buy a New York Times or an unexpected magazine while I wait in the airport.  Apparently, Dallas Love Field does not sell the New York Times, or they had just sold out by early afternoon.  In protest, I went the complete opposite direction of the NYTimes and bought a $3 Teen Vogue with Emma Watson on the cover.  It was hilarious and terrible and totally worth $3.

Teen Vogue
Teen Vogue


Next month, I will start posting from Mexico.  I don’t know what media I’ll be consuming once Spanish school starts, but I’m sure I will find a way to stay entertained. It just might be in Spanish.

What I’m Into: June 2013 Edition

It’s time again to talk about What I’m Into, modeled off of HopefulLeigh’s What I’m Into” series. Eventually maybe I will come up with my own creative title to describe a post about things I like. But anyway, here’s June.

I love my new laptop. In January, my previously beloved laptop crashed. It soured me on Macs for the foreseeable future, plus they’re expensive. My parents were gracious enough to buy me a new laptop for me to use on this next adventure in my life. It’s a Dell, a PC, and it’s taken a lot of getting used to. After 7 years of Mac/iPad use, it’s been different. But it’s a thing I can type on, store things, and find and consume media, so it’s awesome.


Apparently I need to move to Bluebell, because it is a magical southern place where all the men are very attractive.  Where is Bluebell you ask? It’s the magical Southern setting of Hart of Dixie.  I don’t know if this show is well reviewed, I don’t care that sometimes a few lines are awkwardly delivered, I don’t mind that the drama is often on par with a soap opera. But I love this show, a lot.

Somewhere towards the end of Season 3 of the West Wing, this show got less interesting. I stopped watching. And then, with extra time on my hands, I decided to at least finish Season 3. IT GOT BETTER. Some shows, you just have to stick it out through the rough patches.  I don’t know if I’ll keep on with it, seeing as I only have a few months left with my friend Netflix now that I’m moving to Mexico. Must prioritize shows!

I finished the existing seasons of Parks and Recreation. As I said in my last “What I’m Into,” I am still part  Leslie Knope. I would say that I’m excited for the next season, but I’ll be in Mexico, so it will be awhile before I get to see it.

I still love Chuck. I will rewatch it forever.


As I’m re-figuring what I’m good at and what I like, I have returned to my first love: books. I’ve nearly hit my limit on items checked out at the local library–spoiler alert, the limit is 50. I have tall stacks of books beside my bed, and I’m in the midst of most of them. I am not a monogamous reader: I read many, many books at a time. So, I have not finished many this month, but I’m working on many.

The best book I’ve read this month? Hands down, Eleanor and Park. It’s the first book in months (since last edition’s favorite, Brain on Fire) that I devoured, that I picked up at any spare moment to try to finish. It’s a young adult novel set in 1986, two teenagers meeting on a bus and falling in love. That sounds lame, but it isn’t.  If you can get your hands on it, read it. It’s awesome.


I like magazines nearly as much as I like books, but for different reasons. Yes, I read magazines, but they’re different generally from books in that I wait for them to come in the mail. I love mail. I didn’t work in my college post office for three years for no reason (ok, working with my best friends and having awesome bosses were other positive factors).  Seeing my favorite magazines in my mailbox is the best. I’m currently subscribed to: Smithsonian, Wired, Interweave Knits, Vogue, Sojourners, and Entertainment Weekly. None of these things are alike. I have a variety of tastes.

Smithsonian I like because through my subscription, I’m a member of the Smithsonian Institution. My backup plan to the current backup plan I’m now using is to live in Washington DC and spend my life at their museums. Valid plan right? Wired I was subscribed to for quite awhile, then last summer it expired without me being notified, and I was annoyed so I didn’t resubscribe and just bought copies at used bookstores. A month or two ago, I won a free subscription, so Wired is back in the mailbox.

Interweave Knits helps me pretend I’m still good at knitting. I haven’t knitted much in the last two years, but I like the inspiration of pretty knitted things. This subscription will probably not be renewed when the incessant renewal requests next come in the mail. Vogue I love because it is beautiful and shallow and deep at the same time.  Where else can I look at pretty clothes and read fluffy articles about actresses and also read insightful interviews of people like Chelsea Clinton?

Sojourners is a magazine dedicated to social justice and Christianity. It’s kind of everything I want to read about at this stage in my faith life.  I enjoy reading about current events and issues with a not-uber-conservative Christian perspective. Entertainment Weekly is a great pool or beach read.  When I’m bumming around the internet, I tend to only look at entertainment that specifically interests me, and a magazine like EW is great for introducing me to books, movies, TV shows, and more that I might not otherwise stumble across.


I’ve really enjoyed Vampire Weekend’s new album, Modern Vampires of the City.  I still don’t know how to talk about music, except to say I like it. I like the way it sounds? Their singing is awesome? Let’s face it, my calling is not going to be a music critic.


One of my main activities in June was learning some Spanish using Duolingo.  I’m currently on a 21 day streak, playing DuoLingo Spanish lessons at least once a day.  It’s a fun and entertaining way to refresh language skills or pick up new simple skills.  In addition to Spanish, they also offer Portuguese, German, French, Italian, and English (if you’re not a native English speaker).


Let’s face it, June 2013 was not great.  And by not great, I mean perhaps one of the worst months of my adult life.  Some of these “things” I was into in June, though, vastly improved this month. Also,the month has ended on a lovely note in which I bridesmaided in my college roommate’s wedding. I’m exhausted now, but it was beautiful.

Blank Pages

Sometimes things fall apart. There’s all sorts of cliches and nice words about how things falling apart can lead to better things and whatever, but those are just words. True words, sure, but seemingly irrelevant ones when pieces of life are crumbling.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain the happenings of the last two months. Even if I do figure it out, though, it’s unlikely that those thoughts will make an appearance here.  All that can be said is that I am no longer working at the Little Light House. I am pursuing a different dream, to regain my dormant Spanish skills in Mexico, where my sister lives. In late August, I’m moving to southern Mexico for a couple months. And then? Who knows.  The book is open and the pages are blank–we’ll see what story gets written.

What I’m Into: March, April, May 2013 Edition

This post started out as What I’m Into: March 2013. Well, it’s June now, so whatever. 2013 continues to be an exercise in learning to put up with “things I do not want.”  Stress, disappointment, frustration, you name it, 2013 has brought it.  March has been notorious in my life for being weird and disappointing and great all at the same time. April wasn’t any improvement. May and early June could be classified as some of the worst weeks of my adult life thus far.

Enough about bitter disappointment, that’s a story for another day.  There have been things I’ve liked these past months that have brought some happiness into some of the blergh and awful that seems to be 2013’s watchword.


I fell in love with Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope/Amy Poehler? I am her, people. I am her. Ok, not all of her, I like to think I’m a bit more self-aware and I don’t really care about parks. But the episode where she visits her manfriend in Washington DC? And she has detailed plans of everything she wants to see and do in DC? That is exactly me. I share her unbridled passion museums and history and other random things. And Ron Swanson? He is literally the best.


I haven’t finished a book in quite awhile. In March, I read a few comic books, Plain Janes and Friends with Boys. They’re so short, but I really enjoy a graphic novel now every once in a while. The best book I read in March, though, was Brain on Fire. It’s the horrifying true story of a 24-year-old woman’s descent into madness because of a rare autoimmune disease, a diagnosis that took time and $1 million of tests.  As I was still 24 when I read this book, all I could think was: This could have been me. Some true stories never hit close to home because they could never possibly happen to me–but what happened to her is not that impossible. This woman’s story is powerful and fascinating: read it.


I saw Muse in concert. It was absolutely magical. The concert was truly an amazing multimedia experience. I had never been to the BOK Center in Tulsa before, and I was amazed at all they could pull off  in one concert. A mountain of video screens coming down from the ceiling. Live video of Muse performing on those screens that looked so polished that it took quite awhile for me to figure out it was live. It was so good, it ruined me for listening to their music on just a plain old laptop.


I saw one movie in March. Admission, with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. And it was AWFUL.  Let’s never speak of this again.


I don’t know how I neglected The Lizzie Bennet Diaries last month, but I did. Let’s be honest, the LBD was one of my favorite media experiences of late 2012 and early 2013. This retelling of Pride and Prejudice in modern-day America was spectacular.  It ended in late March, 100 episodes of hilarity, happiness, tears, and magic. Watch it. Seriously.

Here’s to the rest of June bringing better things.


Today, I am 25. 

I got to spend my birthday in my favorite place, the Little Light House.  Some days, I can’t believe how blessed I am to work at such an amazing place, where miracles happen every day, where I am loved, where I am doing a job God made for me.  I mean, kids like Colton bring me birthday signs–how much better does it get? 

Colton brought a Happy Birthday sign for me for the day!
Colton brought a Happy Birthday sign for me for the day!


My life is incredibly different than it was a year ago. Last year, I was working in the classroom, doing a job I loved. I was an Associate, the assistant teacher in a classroom with 8 children with special needs and one staff kid. I was exhausted, and I loved it. But God opened the door for me to work in a new department, where I’m in charge of getting the word out about the Little Light House. And now I have even more responsibility: part of my duties now include grantwriting, helping to make sure we have enough money to keep providing services to these amazing students. It’s a little terrifying and overwhelming–but I think this is going to be a great year.

Four months ago, my computer crashed and I lost 2.5 years of my life, in a way. All the pictures of my two years of teaching are gone. I’ve found a few here and there, and I have at least one of every student. I worked on no major creative projects in my life post-college, so I didn’t lose anything creative. But that’s not that great, because that’s just sad. I didn’t write much about my students, my life, because I was exhausted and because I couldn’t figure out how to navigate that line of telling my story and their stories without telling too much. And when I say I couldn’t figure it out, I really mean that the thought just overwhelmed me so I didn’t really try.

So, I don’t know what I’m doing creatively this year, but may God bring back the stories I’ve lost. I always thought I’d have pictures of my students and my time in the classroom to jog my memories, but since they’re gone, I’ll just have to remember. I don’t have any master plan–I’m just going to see what happens and what stories God brings back. Here’s to remembering, and to investing in multiple backups so this never happens to me again. 

Enough about my computer and lost things. This is going to be a good year. I have stories I’m telling, work projects I’m launching, grants I’m writing, and life I’m living. 

And even though I don’t teach any more, I still get to spend time with kids like Calex.  Life is good.

Calex and me on my birthday.
Calex and me on my birthday.


What I’m Into: January and February 2013 Edition

I have strange taste in things. Perhaps eclectic might be a better word? In any case, I’ve been wanting to keep better track of what I have liked, what I have enjoyed, what I’m into.  I follow many blogs, and a couple of my favorites do “what I’m into posts” (Leigh Kramer and Sarah Bessey) and I’m trying to follow in their style with the things that I enjoy.
What I'm Into January February 2013


My favorite new and currently airing shows that I watch every week are Bones, Castle, White Collar, and Big Bang Theory. My if-I-have-time shows that I tend to watch in spurts are New Girl (there’s really only so much “quirky” I can take), and Once Upon a Time (loved the first season on netflix, second season isn’t on at a convenient time so I don’t always remember to watch). I’ve also been catching up on 30 Rock and the Office so I can enjoy their final seasons.
My current netflix favorite is the West Wing, which is the worst, meaning it’s the best. I also occasionally enjoy Hart of Dixie, because boy I love the South.
For a couple days in February, I was home sick a couple days, so I went back to my forever favorite Chuck, on DVD. I. Love. That. Show.
Let’s face it, I really like televison shows. I’ve talked about my appreciation for television before, and my thoughts really haven’t changed. It’s just such a great medium to experience when my brain is overwhelmed by all the other information and feelings that stick to me throughout every day.


I read the most when I’m traveling. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve poured so much into my job and other endeavors that the effort of reading as much as I used to was too much.  I’ve been trying to bring my reading habit back, but it was nice to travel for a week in January to get a head start on my goal of reading 50 books in 2013. The best I’ve read in January were Seven, America’s Women, and The Revolution Was Televised, all of which I read in Mexico. Seven was challenging, America’s Women was historical and upsetting, and The Revolution Was Televised was fascinating.  I recommend all three,  but I can’t think of anyone who would be simultaneously interested in Christian sacrificial living, history and women, and televised drama of the 90’s and 00’s besides me.
In February, I traveled again, this time to Florida. Because of reasons, I was not quite on my normal level of vacation reading, but I did finish some excellent books. I sometimes like comic books and I always like Firefly, so I enjoyed the first installment of a Firefly comic called Serenity: Those Left Behind. Next I finished The Name of the Star, which was hilarious, fantastical, and set in London. Does it get much better than that in young adult literature? The just-released sequel The Madness Underneath is sitting at my bedside, begging me to read it, but that hasn’t happened yet.  Lastly, I read Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran. I’m a sucker for memoirs, particularly about women in the Middle East.
I really hoped to read Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith on my trip to Florida, even buying it so that I could conquer it on vacation. Aaaaand I got a couple chapters in, and then accidentally left it on the plane. I hope someone who needed to relearn the essentials of faith picked it up. I think that’s the first thing I’ve ever left on a plane. Just glad it wasn’t the work iPad.
As always, I have a giant stack of books next to my bed that always hope to get read, but rarely do. At the top of that pile right now are Brain on Fire, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life, and Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America. We’ll see if those or any others get read anytime soon.


The last movies I watched in the theater were The Hobbit and Les Miserables in December. I can’t think of any new movies I’ve seen this year–any movies I’ve watched have been repeats, like She’s the Man or Sleepless in Seattle. I am not a movie person as I am a TV person.


With the recent demise of my laptop, I lost all of my music (among other things). I have since been trying to discover new music. Well, new to me music. I often find tunes that I think are awesome, not to discover that everyone has been listening to it for months. I don’t care, I like what I like whether people like it or not. I always cannot always explain what it is I like, I just like it.
My first discoveries/purchases of the year were Imagine Dragons and the Lumineers. These bands were my primary musical entertainment while visiting my sister in Mexico. More recently, though, another me band was recommended to me, Local Natives. When I first learned of them,they had just released a new album, so I had a lot of music to experience. Upon first listen, it sounded so familiar, even though I’m certain I had never intentionally listened to them before. I eventually discovered that one song played in an episode of my beloved show Chuck. Hence, these two albums have been played on repeat a lot since I learned about them.
The Civil Wars have put out a new album of sorts in the form of the soundtrack to a new documentary called Place at the Table. Guys. It’s folk instrumental that sounds like the South. It’s like it was made JUST for my hidden love-the-South-and-all-its-weirdness side. If I knew how to share a Spotify playlist, I would. But since I don’t know and I don’t care enough to find out, just search for it. It’s good. Now I need to see that movie.
I’m going to a Muse concert on Sunday–I had forgotten how much I liked this band. So, in anticipation of this concert, I’m listening to some of their more recent albums that never made it on my radar.


Another thing that I love is podcasts. It can be difficult to find a truly good podcast. It has to update consistently, have great content, and more. The best podcast I’ve found lately has been Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR. It’s four NPR writers, talking about pop culture every week. And not sugary gossipy pop culture, no, NERDY pop culture. Just listening to them talk about all the things happening in music, movies, tv, etc, while using words that make them sound like they swallowed a dictionary makes me feel smarter.  Also, every week they have a segment entitled “What’s Making Me Happy This Week” in which each member shares a pop culture-y thing that is making them happy. Listen, it’s great. It’s a thing that’s made me happy for longer than a week.


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.

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.


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. 


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. 

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.”

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.


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.


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.

One Thing for Another

I used to have weird stomach anxiety. In high school and off and on in college, I would have a stomach ache when I woke up in the morning. Occasionally I would be able to track it to some stressful situation, but most of the time it was just there for no reason. It often meant I couldn’t eat breakfast. It wasn’t nausea, just weird stomach ache. It’s been so long since I’ve felt it that I can’t really describe it anymore.

Because once I started my job, I haven’t felt it. Not once. I’ve been working since August 2010, and can’t recall a single instance of my weird morning stomach. It makes little sense, because my job is often stressful. I’m confident that I’m in the right place in my life–but I’m confident I was where I was supposed to be in high school and college. It’s just a thing that will probably always befuddle me (assuming that it keeps staying away).

Alas, I have traded that weird morning stomach for preschool. And you know what preschool means? Germs. Lots of them. I spent the last two weeks with a cold, after spending August/September/October with allergies (although the latter can’t be blamed on the children). Aaaaand then last night I was struck with the least delightful of diseases: the dreaded stomach bug. It’s nothing like weird morning stomach. It’s terrible, but at least it has a cause Five out of my nine kids had had a stomach bug over the last week and a half. It was only a matter of time before it came to me.

I’ve traded one thing for another. In the throes of illness, I’d obviously rather it just GO AWAY. But I’ll take definable, contagious diseases over weird unknown ailments. That seems like an odd thing to be appreciative of, but hey it’s Thanksgiving week. Time to be thankful.

And, of course I get sick as I start a break. One, because I worked myself to exhaustion on the brink of disease (not quite sick enough to not show up, but not quite well enough to feel 100%). Two, because that’s just the way it is.

I’ll get to reading books eventually. Today, it’s been movies and tv shows on the couch. Alas.