October, 2011

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Ira Glass knows what’s up

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Crossroads

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I know.  I KNOW.  I haven’t blogged in hundreds of hours.

What’s been going on, you ask?  Well, this happened.

Whatever dramatic scene you’re envisioning, yes, it was all that and more – although probably more hilarious than you imagine.  Poor Toad.

Another thing is that I mentioned to someone something about Gadhafi being dead, except I pronounced it “Gandalfy.”  I like make believe more than reality, it seems.  I can’t help it.  The Real News is too heavy sometimes.  So when I go to CNN.com, the first thing I check is the Entertainment page – where, yesterday, I learned that the kid from “Jerry Maguire” just turned 21.  And then I promptly died of old age.

In other news, I’m at a crossroads of sorts.  It’s general and yet specific and encompasses a lot of defined areas of my life without being about any one thing in particular.

How do we ever know the right thing to do?  How do we ever know the best decision?  And if we make the wrong choice, is the rest of our life derailed?  (I know that the answer is no, but just humor a girl who often feels the need for hyperbole.)

My [perhaps not justified] opinions

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

There are certain words and phrases that I do not – and will never – allow in my vocabulary.

The first thing is using “boo” as a term of endearment.  I have plenty of sweet, intelligent, fabulous friends who call their friends and/or significant others “boo,” and while I still love them, every time they do, I die a little inside.  You might argue that this is because I don’t have a significant other (thank you for the reminder), but trust me – the minute I’m no longer between boyfriends, I will feel just as strongly as I do today.

The next thing is calling a girl friend “lady.”  I think that my least favorite way to be greeted is “Heeeyyyyy, lady!”  This happens all the time.  ALL THE TIME.  If you’re a girl (or, as a friend reminded me the other day, a gay man), start listening for it – and just try to not cringe.

When Americans fly to Europe – specifically the UK – and they say they’re going to “hop the pond,” I’m torn between a strong desire to roll my eyes or to punch them in the face.  It’s not a pond, it’s the Atlantic Ocean.  I can’t think of a really good reason for me to get so worked up about this one, but it just bugs me, okay?  It reminds me of that oft-used Australian phrase, “Let’s put another shrimp on the bar-b!” that probably no one in Australia has ever actually said.

I will never shorten “totally” to “totes.”
Or “adorable” to “adorbs.”
Therefore, “totes adorbs” shall never pass my lips.

I probably have a ton of other words and phrases that I could find something wrong with or annoying about, because as my family can well attest to, one of my most natural states is “opinionated irritation.”  And maybe I’m getting all hot and bothered for no good reason, since, hello – they’re just words.

But so far this morning, I’ve had to clean up dog poop from the carpet and then kill a spider that I found CRAWLING UP MY SWEATSHIRT, so I think I should be allowed to simply mention some words that annoy me.  I don’t know how one justifies the other, but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

#scholar

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Him: “Who was the lady who sewed the first American flag?”
Me: “Oh, you mean Betsey Johnson?”

That was a really pathetic moment.  And I can’t believe I’m coming clean on the internet.

Spatula tricks

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

So there I was, minding my own business, when I heard a ruckus.  I walked out of the office to find Gabe darting from the kitchen to the living room – never a good sign.

I walked into the kitchen and found… this:

Oh, how’s that? you ask?  Here, let me give you a better angle.

How this dog does it, I’ll never know.  But I am legitimately flabbergasted on a near-daily basis.

Rent (not the musical)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Recently, I was at Target, and I saw a stainless steel toilet bowl brush.

The first thing that I thought was, “I want that one – it’s so nice and shiny.”  Then, I thought, “It’s too expensive – I’ll just buy this plastic one for $2.99.”  And I did.

See, stainless steel toilet bowl brushes are designed for home-owners, people who never move, people who do not have to think about spending $15 on something that in a few short months, they will just want to throw away – because who is actually going to lovingly pack up something designed to scrub feces?

I am an unrooted, unfettered, tumbleweed of a girl.  I have never owned a home – at the rate I’m going, I may NEVER own a home – and in the past 11+ years, the longest that I’ve ever stayed in one domicile is TWO. ENTIRE. BLISSFUL. YEARS. in a studio in the Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle (in Washington, in the United States, in the world).  It was a 1920s building, with crystal doorknobs and coved ceilings and hardwood floors.  Shoot, I loved that place.

But prior to that, and ever since then, I have moved every 12 months or less.

My constant moving, nomadic lifestyle, and sporadic homelessness have led to the occasional identity crisis, the random revelation, and the frequent emotional breakdown to my mother.

But while I have a deep soul-ache for a sense of rootedness and home (oh mercy, do I ever), there are a lot of great things that come along with being a gypsy of a renter.

When the hot water heater breaks, someone else fixes it.  When the window needs replacing, someone else does it.  When the horrible neighbors raise their ugly voices, you just move.  When your mom gets cancer, you just head to Colorado.  When the housing market crashes, you just don’t even care.  You never need to talk about the most boring terms imaginable like “HOA” or “APR” or “HUD” because when you ask yourself “WWJD,” you realize he would just wander the earth loving people*.

Some people think of renting as “throwing money away”; I call renting “exchanging money for freedom and flexibility.”

Maybe someday, I’ll find myself in a situation/season/city where buying a home would make sense – and in that event, I hope that the house has a breakfast nook and plenty of closet space and at least one interior brick wall.  But for now, I rent.

And at least this way, I don’t find myself justifying $15 on a toilet bowl brush.  Seriously, America.

*Not solid logic when it comes to renting vs. buying.  But definitely a truth, in and of itself.

The art of the non-sad

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Last week, Carmen left a comment on one of my posts that completely resonated with me:

For the last 1.75 years I have eliminated all sad music from any playlist I can control and axed sad movies. Guess what. IT IS AWESOME. I am all about melancholy, but some seasons require axing all extraneous sadness. I recommend this. You’ll love it. Get trashy movies and books, action and stupidity, and fill extra moments with hilariosity.

I could not agree more.  Last spring, when I was going through the darkest season of my life to date (which, in some ways, continues today), I watched a devastating, raw documentary called “Dear Zachary” that just about did me in.  I cried for days, and walked around with puffy eyes in a dark haze that just wouldn’t lift.  Right then and there, I chose to take a break from sad movies, music, and books.  Life is heavy enough – and while I definitely see a time and a place for sharing our tragedies and our struggles and our heartbreak (because you know I love a good wallow), there are times when we’re just not strong enough for it.

For me, right now, sad stories and words just crush me down, down, down – like a trash compactor*.

So I’ve cleared my Netflix queue of anything dark (aufedersein, Holocaust), and am skipping the sad songs on my iTunes (sayonora, um, most of my music), and have abandoned Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” (for now) in favor of more delightful, fluffy reading.

Here are my recommendations for a few non-sad things to be consumed.

Watching
I am loving “Parenthood” on DVD.  I’ve caught episodes on-and-off over the last couple of years, but I’m starting at the beginning and working my way through.  What great, lovable characters, and relatively true-to-life situations.  For all of my bad boy crushes (Tim Riggins, anyone?), when it comes down to it, I’m just looking for a man like Adam Braverman.

The Human Experience” is a fantastic documentary about man’s search for meaning.  The filmmakers and their mission completely charmed me.  Soak it up.

And I’m pretty sure that “Being Elmo” is going to be so sweet, so poignant.

Reading
I bought Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” at Target, and trust me: this book will cure whatever ails you.  Except maybe kennel cough.

A few years back, Rod bought me “I’m Down,” and I still laugh when I think about certain parts.

Also, my good friend Annie Downs is currently blogging a 31-day series on courage, and I’m loving it.  Mostly it’s just because I miss Annie Downs all the way to Scotland, which is where she is currently living, and getting a virtual dose of her every day in October is doing my heart good.

Listening
This one’s tough for me, since I’m obsessed with songs that gut me – I am masochism personified.

I have had to curb my repeat-listens of Jill Andrews’ “Sinking Ship,” because oh man, it’s cutting deep.  She has this line that’s like, “You told me lies with your hands and the truth with your lips,” and I’m like, “Oh my word” because she must have read my diary.  And then she says this thing about, “I’m searching, now not finding a better part of me, ’cause I want it back,” and that’s it.  I can no longer function.

So maybe don’t listen to that one.

But definitely listen to “Heart of the World” by Lady Antebellum.

And Sara Groves‘ latest, “Invisible Empires,” is just… so good.  “Open My Hands” is a current favorite track, as well as “Obsolete.”

And you should for sure listen to songs by Marc Scibilia.  I don’t really know how to get your hands on his music, but go on a hunt to find “Something Good in This World” and “How Bad We Need Each Other” and “Ain’t My Home.”  This guy knows what’s up.

What about you – know of anything non-sad that we should check out?

*When I was younger, I SO wanted a trash compactor in the kitchen.  Only our rich friends had them, so I associated the trash compactor with wealth, luxury, and ease.  The moral of the story is: kids, please dream bigger dreams.

Hope floats (not the movie)

Monday, October 10th, 2011

As one who grew up in the church, I have had moments in the last several years when I have wondered, “Why am I a Christian?”  Is it just because I was raised to believe what I believe – or is there a deeper reason?  Do I have faith on my own, apart from my family and friends and community?  If I was born in another time and place, would the core of what I believe be the same?

These are big questions, especially for someone who has never had much opportunity to separate God from the American Christian church – and I, like many others, have learned that the church is not always the best representation of what the Christian faith is about.

Come to think of it, *I* am not always the best representation of what the Christian faith is about.

Personally, I have struggled with a lot of cynicism and doubt, especially in the last couple of years.  I don’t doubt that there is a God, but I have wondered if he is, indeed, involved in an intimate way in our lives.  Did he create the world, set it spinning, and then just step back?  Does he really love us – not just in a “whole world in his hands” kind of way, but in a deeply personal and specific way?  When the Bible tells us that God says, “I know the plans I have for you,” does it mean that there is, in fact, a PLAN for our lives?  Is God truly in the details?  Does he care if I choose option A or option B?  Does God care, period?

I’m supposedly a grown woman these days, free to live as I please, and no one is making me go to church.  The stable home and family that I had always known has recently crumbled beneath my feet.  While my childhood and college years were spent largely in church-centric settings, I’m out in the “big, bad world” now, surrounded by plenty of kind and intelligent people who would not necessarily align themselves with the Christian faith.  So what is it about this Jesus?

Some days, when life hits me like an avalanche and I’m pummeled by rocks and snow, left jarred and confused and not sure which way is up, I can be at a loss for answers.

But in the midst of all of my questions, here is what I know.

Regardless of what I believe, or what you believe, or what anyone believes, humans ask the eternal sorts of questions.  Where did I come from, and where am I going?  What is my purpose?  What is good and what is evil?  What will happen to me after I die?  All of us have wondered these things – they are the deep and primal questions of the soul.  Why would we long for answers if there wasn’t a supreme truth?  This makes me trust that there is a God, and that there is an ultimate answer – and that even if the details might be fuzzy and confusing now, I believe that one day we will see the truth clearly.

When I think of my own path, and how many times I have been tempted to give up hope – for little specific things, or in an overarching way – the moment hope returns is nothing short of a miracle.  I mean it – it’s a miracle.  It’s not by my own doing – I cannot will the hope back – it’s not the “triumph of my human spirit” (because trust me, my human spirit isn’t that strong – currently, it’s shriveled up and ugly, like newborn Benjamin Button).

But hope just keeps coming back.  I can’t shake it.  And every time it returns, I think that there must be a God who loves me, Annie – and maybe he even has a plan for my life.  Maybe he’s somehow steering the course, despite my anger and doubt and fear, and all of the times that I’ve thumbed my nose at him.  Maybe I don’t have to believe that “everything happens for a reason,” but maybe I can get behind the idea that “nothing is ever wasted.”  Maybe there is a purpose and a design to the apparent chaos of my current world – maybe it’s actually getting me where I’m supposed to be.

Maybe it’s less about “being a Christian,” and more about knowing Jesus.

I may not have all of the answers, or see the truth clearly.  I know that many who read this don’t believe the same things that I do – and I’m not going to try to convince anyone of anything.  This blog is not a tent revival (yelling and sweat have never really been my thing).  But in the words of Frederick Buechner:

A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, “I can’t prove a thing, but there’s something about his eyes and his voice.  There’s something about the way he carries his head, his hands, the way he carries his cross – the way he carries me.”

That’s all I know.

Itty bitty tidbits

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Something I Googled this morning:
Is kennel cough contagious to humans?

Because – bad news – Kodi has kennel cough.  And also – bad news – it is.

– – – – – – – –

First, “The Pianist” came from Netflix.  Then, “The Piano” came from Netflix.

What in the world.  Why did I choose to watch these back-to-back?  I’m so depressed.  If you happen to know something happy, please share.

– – – – – – – –

I’m so bored of my running playlist (Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” is only SO inspiring – although, let’s be real, it’s pretty damn inspiring).

What are the best songs to run to?  I’m thinking of utilizing this.

– – – – – – – –

Sometimes I miss Nashville so much, I can hardly breathe.  The next day, it’s Seattle.  Today, both are very much true.

But right now, in this moment, I choose to be present in this city, on this day, with these tasks, and these people.

I believe that the future holds good things.

But I also choose to acknowledge that the present holds good things.

It is a choice, you know.

The Journey of Gnatty Anne*

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Last night at dusk, I went on an easy run – just 3.5 miles around Sloan’s Lake. The weather was cool and I was feeling good – the perfect combination for a great run.

One would think.

However, that proverbial one doing the thinking obviously wasn’t thinking about the swarms of bugs that would be out in force.

First, a gnat got caught in the web that is my eyelashes. I blinked so hard, passerbys surely thought I was attempting morse code with my eyes. I swatted at my face, squishing the bug and pinching it from my eyelashes – at least I think I did. My eyelashes are very black – the perfect camouflage for an insect. Is that an eyelash or a bug leg? It’s hard to say.

Are you still reading? Because don’t worry, there’s more.

So, while I was attempting to rid my eye of the bug by doing my blinky-wide-eyed-blinky thing, my mouth may have fallen open (ugh, I KNOW there’s a “That’s What She Said” joke in this). Ask any mascara-applying girl (or guy? I don’t discriminate) – the mouth-falling-open thing is a natural reflex when doing the blinky-wide-eyed-blinky thing. THE POINT IS: when dealing with the gnat in my eye, my mouth opened up, creating a gaping void perfect for another gnat to fill. It flew straight to the back of my throat – yes, to my UVULA (totally just Googled “uvula” to make sure it isn’t sexual). I hacked like a dog until the dead bug exited on a rip-roaring wave of spit.

And then, as the grand finale, a gnat flew straight up my nostril. I farmer-blew as hard as I could, but I could still feel it. I could FEEL THE BUG IN MY NOSE. So I did what any “rational human in a moment of panic” would do, and used my thumb and my forefinger to squeeze my nostrils together. What I wasn’t counting on was that this would squish the bug. I quickly realized that I now had a DEAD BUG. I had a DEAD BUG IN MY NOSE. I quickly blew into my tank top, leaving my shirt snot-covered and my heart, mind, and soul utterly traumatized.

But I never stopped running.

*Worst title ever. Acknowledged.