For Exciting Times, Make It Moving Times

I seem to have gotten this move off to an odd start by doing things in the wrong order. Just to refresh your memory, here are what I have determined to be the 7 stages of moving (for a more thorough break-down of each stage, go here):

  1. Dread
  2. Action Plan
  3. Paying a Butt-Load of Money
  4. Purging
  5. Packing
  6. Adrenaline Rush (aka Moving Day)
  7. Unpacking

I’m not really sure I did the Dread phase this time around. Maybe a little bit, but I started the Purging phase so long ago that I wasn’t too worried about all the stuff I had left. Don’t get me wrong, I have PLENTY of stuff left (and plenty left to get rid of), but I really have gotten rid of a lot. So I started with Stage 4, skipped Stage 1 entirely, then went to Stage 2, and today we did Stage 3, which turned out not to be so bad after all. AND we got our new keys, so it’s official!!

That all sounds good, right? Sounds like I’m moving right along? Well, yes and no. That puts me at the beginning of Stage 5, which, as we all know, is the most dreaded of them all (including Dread itself). I have not begun to pack at all, which wouldn’t be so bad except that we’re moving in a week and a half.

Yeah.

And I still have a semester to finish. And a Sound of Music Sing-Along to attend. And a Harry Potter movie to watch. Oh it’s going to be a fun couple of weeks, friends! If you feel like coming to help me pack (even simply by way of company and/or motivation), let me know.

Epic Playlist

Last year, for my friend Eden’s birthday, she requested that all her friends make her CDs in lieu of throwing parties, buying dinners, giving gift cards or scarves, etc. Since I love music and making fabulous playlists, I was very excited about this idea. In fact, in the future, if ever you want to give me a CD (for any occasion whatsoever), please do. This is quite possibly my love language.

So I made a playlist for Eden that ended up requiring THREE CDs to burn, but oh my was it ever worth it. And since then, I’ve added to it, making it into a 4-disc, 72-song, epic and fabulous playlist. I have mentioned it to Amaris many times, and she always asks for the list. I always say, “Yes of course you can have the list,” and then I always forget to type it up for her. But the time has come.

Y’all, this is a random, random assortment of music that pleases me so much, I think I may never need to get married. Here we go…

  1. Throw Down – The Whistlestop
  2. Meet Me by the Water – Rachael Yamagata
  3. LoveGame – Lady Gaga
  4. Bye Bye Bye – *NSYNC
  5. Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam
  6. So Much Better – from Legally Blonde the Musical
  7. Africa – Toto
  8. F*** You – Lily Allen
  9. Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? – The Beatles
  10. Forget You – Cee Lo Green
  11. Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin
  12. One More Road – Roman Candle
  13. Hometown Glory – Adele
  14. Against All Odds – Phil Collins
  15. Gravity – Sara Bareilles
  16. Fantastic Mr. Fox (aka Petey’s Song) – Jarvis Cocker
  17. Bust a Move – Young MC
  18. I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston
  19. Ora Basta – Giorgia
  20. Faithfully – Journey
  21. Born – Over the Rhine
  22. Float On – Modest Mouse
  23. When You Are Not Enough – Thad Cockrell/Matt Stevens
  24. Fango – Jovanotti
  25. Leave – Glen Hansard
  26. All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
  27. Sympathique – Pink Martini
  28. By Thy Mercy – High Street Hymns
  29. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
  30. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp – Led Zeppelin
  31. I’ll Cover You (Reprise) – from RENT
  32. All I Want Is You – Barry Louis Polisar
  33. Cherry Cherry – Neil Diamond
  34. Jump (for My Love) – Pointer Sisters
  35. You Don’t Know Me – Ben Folds
  36. Live Again – Better Than Ezra
  37. A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum
  38. Rolling in the Deep – Adele
  39. Papers in Order – The Old Ceremony
  40. Staralfur – Sigur Ros
  41. Jesus and Gravity – Dolly Parton
  42. Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix
  43. Elenore – The Turtles
  44. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues – Elton John
  45. Nice and Slow – Usher
  46. Vito’s Ordination Song (acoustic) – Sufjan Stevens
  47. Heaven Help Us All – Stevie Wonder
  48. Andar Conmigo – Julieta Venegas
  49. I Can’t Even Recall – Roman Candle
  50. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
  51. Under Streetlights – Brooke Annibale
  52. Shelter – Ray LaMontagne
  53. Reason Why – Rachael Yamagata
  54. Soldier Girl – The Polyphonic Spree
  55. Call Me Al – Paul Simon
  56. Beat It – Michael Jackson
  57. SexyBack – Justin Timberlake
  58. Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
  59. Someone Like You – Adele
  60. Black Water – The Doobie Brothers
  61. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
  62. Rehab – Amy Winehouse
  63. Kyrie – Mr. Mister
  64. I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers
  65. Somebody Told Me – The Killers
  66. The Chain – Ingrid Michaelson
  67. Judy in Disguise – John Fred & His Playboy Band
  68. Just Dance – Lady Gaga
  69. Forca – Nelly Furtado
  70. Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
  71. Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z/Alicia Keys
  72. Your Love Is My Drug – Ke$ha

Yes, I realize there is a hymn right next to a Nirvana song. I also realize that there are at least three Lady Gaga songs on the list. What can I say? I want to be too cool to like her, but I think she’s ridiculously talented, and I just can’t help myself. And I realize that not everyone likes songs they can’t understand. If you want to copy my playlist, but take out the foreign language songs, feel free, but I will not be held responsible for the outcome. This list is perfect, I tell you. PERFECT! Good for parties and cleaning and reading the Interweb and organizing the boxes of crap in your front room. It picks you up right when you need it and brings you back down just at the right moments. It fluctuates between empirically good music and absolute guilty pleasure songs. It has many genres spanning many decades, and because there are so many songs, you can listen to it over and over and never get tired of it because by the time you start it over, it’s been almost five hours since you heard the first song, so you don’t even realize you’re back to the beginning! Once again, PERFECT!

A Few Short Updates

I have to leave for work (again) in about 15 minutes, so I don’t have time for a lengthy post about anything, but that’s cool because I don’t have anything lengthy to say about anything, so here are just a few short updates and tidbits:

  • I LOVE that it’s already Wednesday. This week is going by much more quickly than last week.
  • Whitney and I are looking for a new place to live. We want a cheaper place, preferably closer to work for me. If you know of anything in the Cameron Village/Wade Ave./downtown/campus area that costs less than $900 for a 2BR or less than $1200 for a 3BR and won’t smell like college boys, do let us know.
  • I signed up for Netflix. Why oh why did I not do this years ago?? It’s amazing.
  • I signed up for eHarmony. Just seeing if you were paying attention. Yes? You are? Good because I seriously did. Nothing exciting to report so far, but apparently I am VERY matchable.
  • I’m having an AWESOME hair day today.
  • My personal fundraising for my Italy trip is done!!!! I have ALL my money!! My team as a whole, however, is at about 72% funded, so if you still want to contribute, we would love that. I kinda want them to go with me.
  • I watched a fabulous documentary yesterday that I’ll write more about later, but if you want to go ahead and watch it, it’s called The Rape of Europa. If you have Netflix, you can stream it online. It’s also a book that I might be interested in reading with a book club. Any takers on that? AND I am 100% sure that I want to go on a European art tour. That is of course in addition to my European spy tour and my Sound of Music tour.
  • Oh! And on July 22, Koka Booth is showing a sing-along Sound of Music, complete with subtitles for all the songs and a costume contest! I’d like to go as Liesl in the gazebo, or perhaps Liesl coming out of the gazebo after being kissed by Rolf. I’ll just hold my arms straight out with an elated look on my face and periodically fling them backward while squealing. But I’d also like to find a dress. Any ideas?
  • I watched Legends of the Fall the other day for the first time since it was released in theaters in 1994. I do not know how I was allowed to see it at the tender age of 14. I don’t even think I was allowed to watch Dirty Dancing until later than that. But good golly it is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen.

Teaching Keeps Me Normally Weird

I have always said that in order to be a good ESL teacher (or probably any language teacher, for that matter), you have to be at least a little bit insane. You have to be able to roll with whatever comes at you, ready to answer no matter what questions come up, ready to explain things by way of demonstration, ready to liven things up should they get too boring. In general, you have to be willing to make a complete idiot of yourself. I think that’s why I like teaching ESL so much. It allows me to utilize the skills I might use on stage, but I never have to audition. Win-win.

But what I’ve just discovered is that teaching also keeps me just barely on the sane side. When I’m not teaching, you see, I get myself into trouble because I have no schedule. And when I have no schedule, I stay up later and sleep later. And when I stay up too late, I sign up for online dating services, and that is just no good at all (I deleted my account the next morning, thank goodness). And when I don’t have things to do during the day, I spend way too much time wandering around Target. And that’s when I accidentally try on nursing bras and consider buying them. And apparently that’s not good either.

I don’t mean to pick them up. I’m just looking at styles and sizes. I don’t notice the little snappy hook things on the front until I get back into the dressing room, and then I think, “Well, as long as I’m here…” And y’all, I’m not kidding. They are SO comfortable. I tried on a regular bra yesterday, and I hated it. It was all rigid and itchy, and it corralled my bazooms in a most unflattering manner. Then I tried on a soft, comfy, cute bra that also just happened to snap open in the front. What of it?

I didn’t buy it, but I do need to go to Target again today, and I’m not making any promises. If I buy it, I won’t tell you about it, and you’ll never know I’m wearing it. That is, unless you notice how unprecedentedly comfortable I am. Then you’ll know.

Asheville Weekend in Pictures

One of my students requested that I take pictures of my trip to Asheville last weekend and post them here (hey Sarah!), and although I forgot my camera, Josh has a pretty good one on her phone, so here we go (thanks Josh!)!

We spent Friday afternoon wandering around downtown, trying to find me a new fall look. We went into a lot of stores, this one being one of my favorites. It’s a vintage store that also carries the wares of local etsy merchants, so there’s a lot of fun stuff to play with. But back to my new look. I liked this one ok. The mohawk, the two sets of eyes, the pointy nose, the blush. I think it really works for me, don’t you?

No? Perhaps not. Ok, on to the next store.

Let me just start by disappointing you all by telling you that I did not buy this hat. I know. I’m sorry. I liked it a lot. I love hats. I just feel like there’s no good reason to wear them around here. When I lived in NY, I wore hats all the time because it was cold, and I walked around outside a lot. But here, it’s sort of pointless. You go from your house to your car to your destination and back again. You’re never outside for more than two minutes, and let’s be honest. It’s not that cold.

Maybe if the hat had been a color that I felt like I’d get more wear out of, I would have been willing to spend money on it, but I wasn’t in love with this one. However, if you happen to see a hat similar to this one in a tweed, perhaps, or a felt, let me know.

On Saturday afternoon, we took a wee hike up to a lovely lookout. The leaves weren’t quite at their peak yet, but it was still beautiful, and it was really nice to be out in the fresh air.

You just can’t be on top of a mountain like this and not spin around like Julie Andrews singing, “The hills are a live with the sound of music!” It’s just not possible.

Ok, so we didn’t actually sing, but only because there were other people up there. You’d better believe, though, that if I were up there alone, I’d sing the whole song. I’d also sing “Climb Every Mountain” AND “Edelweiss.” Oh who am I kidding? I’d re-enact the whole movie, and we all know it.

There are plenty more pictures on facebook, but that’s enough for now. We had a great time, and my friend Eden was a wonderful hostess. We got to see lots of friends, eat plenty of good food and frolic in the mountains. What more could a girl want?

About “About You”

I’ve just finished reading a book called About You by Dick Staub, and although the subject matter is exactly the kind of thing I love to talk about, the whole thing left me wanting more and feeling like I could have done a better job of writing it. No offense, Mr. Staub. I just didn’t find it very compelling, I definitely didn’t feel like I was a member of your target audience, and seriously, you need a new editor.

The subject, like I said, is great. It’s about becoming fully alive as humans while still here on Earth. Staub was inspired by the words of Dutch art historian Hans Rookmaaker: “Jesus didn’t come to make you Christian; Jesus came to make you fully human.” And I think that’s a good place to start. Jesus didn’t come to Earth to start a religion. He came to repair a relationship, and when that relationship is restored, everything changes for us.

There are lots of things Jesus didn’t come to do that we seem to think he did come for as evidenced by our lifestyles. A couple of weeks ago, my pastor said, “Jesus didn’t die so you could be really good at Halo.” I’m not addicted to Halo, but if he’d said, “Jesus didn’t die so you could always have the newest styles from H&M,” that would have hurt.

The things we spend our time and money on show very clearly what we think is important in life. Jesus didn’t come for most of those things. He especially didn’t come to make us work in jobs we hate because of the financial security they afford us, associate with people who make us shallow, depraved and/or boring, or suppress our true desires because they’re “impractical” or “unrealistic.” And yet, many of us live as though those things are our purpose, or worse, God’s purpose.

God’s true purpose, however, is not to make us religious, shallow, boring, legalistic, miserable or otherwise broken. It’s to bring glory to himself. I know that sounds terribly arrogant of him, but it’s not because he deserves all that glory. That is another conversation, though, so we’ll leave it at that for now. So if God’s purpose is to bring glory to himself, and if he created us, then it follows logically that he did so to fulfill his purpose.

About You attempts to explain how we fulfill our purpose of bringing glory to God with our lives. The thesis is that we must become fully human and fully alive; we must become the best possible versions of ourselves by developing our spiritual, intellectual, moral, relational and creative selves holistically and synergistically. Or by letting Jesus develop us in all those ways. Staub seems to go back and forth a bit on that point.

Now. I do not disagree with any of these things. I think all of creation brings glory to God best when it is simply and exactly what it was created to be. A mountain that tried to be a riverbed would not be nearly as majestic, and an ocean floor that tried to be a desert wouldn’t hold the same magical mystery. And when we try to squeeze ourselves into places in society where we just weren’t cut to fit, we diminish ourselves and the God who created us for something much more unique and special.

Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if we became simply and exactly what we were created to be? We’d be happier and more satisfied with our lives, we would be able to contribute to society more effectively by knowing exactly what we have to offer, and God would be glorified by his creations fulfilling their given roles instead of the roles their guidance counselors advised them to pursue.

I guess the big issue I have with the content of the book is that it states the thesis over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again without a whole lot of solid practical application. Staub says that we need to develop intellectually, spiritually, morally, creatively and relationally several times in each chapter, thus becoming the best versions of ourselves, fully human and fully alive. But he very rarely offers practical suggestions as to how to go about it. At best, we get a bit of encouragement to go and figure it out for ourselves because we’re all different.

In fact, I didn’t even find Staub’s argument for how Jesus demonstrated what it means to be fully human very strong. I believe that Jesus did demonstrate what it means to be fully human. I just didn’t think Staub backed up the argument very well with the Scriptures he chose.

But the most frustrating thing about the book was the horrid editing. Y’all, it’s so bad. On the big scale, there are a few problems. First of all, there’s the incredible overstatement of the book’s main idea. If we don’t get it after the first 20 times, we ain’t gettin’ it. On a smaller scale, there were lots of very poorly developed and supported paragraphs and ideas. If I didn’t already agree with everything the man was saying, I would have been largely unconvinced.

And finally, there were the typos. Oh dear God the TYPOS! There were duplicate words, weird spacing, and worst of all, a reference to Alec Baldwin as ALEX BALDWIN. I mean for real, somebody should have caught that.

So here’s what I recommend. If you want to read something of this nature, just come talk to me instead. I’ll give you a shorter version with more appropriate Scripture references and the correct names of any celebrities I mention. Show tunes optional.

I Made Something Up!

I’ve always thought writing fiction was hard, and the advice I got about it never helped. It was always one of two things:

  1. Just make stuff up.
  2. It’s all about characters. Just make up characters.

Both easier said than done, unfortunately, although they sound simple enough. I could never figure out why it was so hard. They’re just fake people. I know lots of real people. Fake people should be just like them, right? But I just couldn’t do it. Until today.

It’s been another long week. Even though I didn’t have to work on Monday, I still taught more this week than I normally do, so by the time I went to class last night, I was done. I had already planned for the night class, so that was no problem, but I had no idea what I was going to teach this morning. Lucky for me, Sheila was there last night with several ideas. The one I ended up using was, for lack of a better word, fantastic.

I took photos of my friends and family – random pictures of kids, adults, teenagers, groups and individuals. I turned them over and fanned them out, and each student chose one. Then I got pictures of random objects: shoes, seashells, cameras, cars, tools, luggage, etc., and the students each chose one of those as well. Then they had to write a story explaining who the person in their photo was, what their relationship to that person was, and why that person had given them the object in their other picture.

A picture of a kid I used to babysit paired with a picture of a set of luggage produced a story about a favorite nephew who’d grown up and moved to Europe to study music. As he was leaving, he gave the suitcase to his uncle filled with old photos, including the one of him as a baby. An old roommate plus a pair of shoes resulted in one of the most romantic stories I’ve ever heard, and I found out at the very end of class that as a preschooler, I was a mermaid!

Like I said, fantastic.

Well, while they were writing their stories, I decided to play along. I picked out a picture of a camera, and then, since I knew all the people in the pictures I’d brought, I found another photo of a lady on a bicycle. And voila, writing fiction was easy. In less than ten minutes, I’d created at least six characters, some better-developed than others, but still. I had a main character telling the story from her point of view, her two sisters, their mom, mom’s best friend from college and the friend’s husband. All the characters had characteristics of people I know, but hey, everybody has something in common with somebody, right?

So I wrote fiction! I made stuff up! I created characters! Apparently all I needed was a visual stimulus. I’m pretty sure that means I need to go to New York to write Neil Diamond Musical.

Good News/Bad News

The good news is that it’s a short week. The bad news is there are still two more days of it. I know I’ve been saying this for several weeks now, but seriously, this time it’s true: Next week, my schedule will be normal. I’ll only have to work ONE night, and I won’t be ready to fall asleep at every moment. Also, I’ll be able to go running and out to eat and stuff. Shoot, I might even go to the mall. It’s going to ROCK! I just have to get through tonight, tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, tomorrow night and Friday morning. That’s it. Just five more classes.

AND even more good news: Apparently my copies have already come back! Hooray! That means I have materials to work with for a little while at least. I’ve got crossword puzzles and tests and writing exercises galore! I’m thinking about showing a film on Friday, though, and not using any of them. Any ideas? We talked all day today about food banks and where they get their supplies, so I was thinking of showing Food, Inc., but I don’t know. I’d need to have time to watch it and take notes before then so I could give them some questions to answer while they watch (to ensure that they pay attention).

I’d also have to figure out how to play it for them. Netflix instant play via projector onto white board? Blockbuster rental through DVD player onto TV? One-woman musical rendition? We’ll see.

Hey Thursday, I like you.

It’s been a good day so far. I woke up after dreaming that I was at an art camp. I think I dreamed this because I read this last night before I went to bed. Anyhoe, I was at this art camp, and I needed supplies, and then I stumbled across a supply room that didn’t have anything I needed. So I think I gave up on art and went to the cafeteria. And I guess it was parents’ weekend at art camp or something because everybody’s families were there. And the brother of the guy in front of me was way cute and flirting with me. And as I was flirting back, my mom walked up and got in line with me. And then the cute guy asked me if I wanted to go eat candy in his truck with him, and I said, “Yes, yes I do, only I’m not so sure about the truck. But I’ll sit on a bench with you or something.”

Then I woke up and thought, I love it when cute guys find me desirable. Good dream.

Then I tried to scan some documents that prove my relationship to George Washington (yes THE George Washington) and my descent from a 12th century British king, but alas, I couldn’t get Whitney’s scanner to work, so I just read through the documents for a while, and that’s how I found out I’m related to G.W. and Ynir King of Gwentland.

Then I tweeted about it.

Then I wrote an article about two-letter Scrabble words that will probably not help me beat Whitney or my mom or the Beattys (or anyone else for that matter) at Scrabble. It’s the spatial aspect I find challenging, not the words. I can make some words. I just don’t know where to put them. You have to be good at words AND Tetris to dominate in Scrabble, and I am unfortunately only gifted in the former.

But the article is done.

So then I made some Punjab Choley and couscous for lunch and watched 30 Rock for a little while, which was, of course, wonderful. It was the one where Liz follows Floyd into the AA meeting where he spills his guts about his trust issues, and then she tells him all her weird stuff to make it up to him.

And she has some WEIRD stuff.

And while I was watching 30 Rock, a Census2010 worker came to the door to ask me some questions about the occupants of this house on April 1, which I answered not knowing that L-Josh had already mailed in their Census2010 form. So I don’t know why he had to come over here and interrupt my 30 Rock/catch me still in my jabambas at 2:30 in the p.m., but I’ve decided that if anyone catches me not yet dressed that late in the day again, I’m just going to open the door saying, “I’m a freelancer. I work from home. I have actually earned money today.”

Or I could just shower and get dressed in the morning.

Then I took a shower, and while I was in there, I had a revelation about the plot of my Neil Diamond musical, I Am…I Said. I can’t tell you about it yet because it’s still not fully formed, but I CAN say that things have been enormously simplified, and the main character and I now have a lot more in common, which is going to make it much easier to write.

And also, I’m clean.