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

TV

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.

Books

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.

Movies

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.

Music

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.
 

Other

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.
          Lakesidegirl

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.

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. 

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. 

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.