Full

I have stacks of books unread. Lists of story ideas unwritten. Room messy. Life unorganized. I want to read those books, write those stories, clean my room, organize my life. But lately, the fullness of being involved in the lives of so many, of loving so many people keeps getting in the way of these things I want to do “for me.” Eventually, I believe I will strike a better balance where I get better at setting time aside for those creative (or life organizing) “me things.” But for now, even as I look at some of the things that have fallen by the wayside in my life right now, I am delighted by the life I get to live, even while missing some of those things. Baby showers, making food at 10 pm for a potluck tomorrow, wedding showers, hanging out with friends and getting half-price sonic shakes, graduation parties–and that’s just this week! Life is full of people I love, and it is good.

In other news, this weather is ridiculous. Yesterday, it was too hot. Today it is too cold. Dear weather: please just be sunny with a high of 75.

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  Whimsy as my one word went out the door and it has been replaced by “discipline.”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.

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?

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.

Aftershocks

I’ve been making up aftershocks, inadvertently. Ok, maybe not always inadvertently. Sometimes on purpose. Every loud noise or rumble sounds like an earthquake. Now that I’ve experienced two, I feel like an expert. In Oklahoma.

This is ridiculous.

It’s storming tonight, so there are rumbles of thunder. I think there will be a lot of “aftershocks” tonight.

Aftershocks, real or imagined, are funny things. Whether they follow earthquakes or difficult events, they’re still surprising, sometimes terrifying.

Events ripple. Tectonic plates shift. Aftershocks startle.

Neither philosophy nor poetry were ever my strong suit.