Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Ancient Child


On Amazon
My experience:
My mind is full, and I am heavy with disquiet, but this I will say: the writing is exquisite and entangling and engrossing; the characters baffling, beyond understanding, beyond knowing; the imagery -- oh! -- reminding me without preamble how, even as a child, I loved the vast, flat plains of Oklahoma.

This too: much of the language and context is coarse, lewd, sometimes terrible, and though many times I wanted to set the book aside and pick up another, something easier and lighter and less invasive, I could not. I picked it up to begin it, and I set it down complete.

The book:
... Well... it's complicated, see? I can't remember when I've had to concentrate -- to work -- so hard to simply understand a book.

Okay, so there are a whole bunch of sections, right? Chapters, in a way, but sometimes they're long and tell a story, and sometimes they depict a scene and sometimes they paint a picture. Sometimes they're poetry and sometimes they're prose.

Sometimes the chapter speaks from the point of view of Set, an artist and a man who hardly knows himself, who struggles with understanding his identity. Sometimes the sections are from the perspective of Grey, a "medicine woman" in training, and sometimes she has visions and sometimes she's daydreaming and most of the time you have no idea which is which. Their stories are meant to be interwoven, but there's no way to tell that or see it coming, not until it does happen, and at that point, there's no way to know how it is that Set seems to live ten years while Grey lives one, and then, when the story finally comes together, both stories woven close... I don't know if it ends happily or sadly or mysteriously or terribly.

I -- my brain aches.

The writing, however, is exquisite. I wish I would have kept a pad of post-its at hand because there are at least a half dozen passages I would have liked to have marked to read again and share and write on little slips of paper to use as bookmarks, to read again and be amazed again. Rather, I'll no doubt have to reread the book at some point in the future, this time with a better knowledge of what to expect from the story and with a pad of post-its to mark the beautiful passages that took my breath away and shook my brain and kept me turning the pages though I was already disquieted and burdened and baffled.

The verdict:
This is not a book to rate on a Netflix scale, but even if I had to invent a scale, ranging from a pole of "I want to pretend I've never heard of this book" to "I want my thoughts and speech to mimic every intonation and breath of this," I still wouldn't know how to rate this one. I can't say it's  5/5 because the story is too confusing and complicated, coarse and terrible, and if my mother or mother-in-law were to read it upon my recommendation, I might die of shame. However, the writing is beautiful. The setting is beautiful. The characters are fascinating and mysterious, and through the circuitous telling, I believe the story is mesmerizing. I'll affix a 4 out of 5 here and call it good enough.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Graveyard Book


on Amazon
...and it was fantastic. 
See the medal on the image of the book cover? Yeah, totally belongs there.

Gaiman's storytelling is impeccable; his writing is impeccable; his characters are excellently three-dimensional.

On a (sort of) side-note, Neil Gaiman has a way of describing characters so that only the most pertinent qualities are highlighted. I was a handful of pages from the end before the descriptions of an important character clicked together in my brain to form a complete picture. I couldn't believe it had taken me so long -- but at the same time, I love that it surprised me.

The Graveyard Book is a story about a boy raised by the ghosts of a particular graveyard. There's more to the story than simply that, of course: a (horrifying) beginning, Bod's adventures,  and a perfectly conclusive conclusion, every thread tying into the story as a whole. Chapters that seemed like little more than adventures cycle back to become significant. There's a particular neatness to that kind of storytelling that I can't help but appreciate.

The book has a similar residual creepiness as Coraline had, but it also bears a similar innocence and sweetness. I recommend it -- as well as pretty much anything written by Neil Gaiman -- but with a brief reminder that it is a creepy, nightmare book. Don't say I didn't warn you.

4 1/2 out of 5 and a lot of gushing from me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Music - David Crowder*Band

I have nothing but respect for those artists who love their God -- our God -- with every cell of their beings and use every talent in their treasury to serve him better. I salute David Crowder and his bandmates (as well as others, such as Matt Redman) for speaking exactly the noise I can hear inside myself and never quite translate into sense. Thank you.

"I Need Words"
I need words
As wide as sky
I need language large as
This longing inside
And I need a voice
Bigger than mine
And I need a song to sing You
That I've yet to find
I need You,
Oh, I need You
I need You,
Oh, I need You
To be here now
To be here now
To hear me now
To hear me now

God of wrath
God of love
God of Earth
And God above
God of hope
God of peace
God of you
And God of me

God of day
God of night
God the just
And God the light
God of the strong
God of the weak
God of you
And God of me

My love for You
My heart for You
My life for You
All I am for You

Blood through my veins for You
I give my world to You
All I am and all I have
I lay it down for You
Dancing 'round with You
Spinning 'round with You
Laughing loud with You
My love

And a little something extra...

I can't seem to recall when I first heard "End of October" nor can I explain why I got so excited tonight when I heard it again, but I love it. Consider it a musical cookie from me to you. ;-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Charlie St. Cloud


Yay for my first grown-up book of NaNoReaMo 2010!

Charlie St. Cloud is a gentle book all about how death can cripple the living. It's well written and satisfying; the characters are believable and lovable, and twice it took me by surprise, which I appreciate in a book.

Do I think my life will be changed for reading it? Probably not. However, I do think that it has the spark to affect someone else, touching them in a long-lasting way. Isn't that why we read?

I don't have much more to elaborate upon, really. 3 1/2 out of 5, and I recommend it as a good read. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Matilda Bone


On Amazon
While I was at the library the other day to pick up the Neil Gaiman books, I picked this little thing up. It's historical fiction, which is not necessarily my usual cup of tea, but I like this author (Karen Cushman, author of Catherine, Called Birdy & The Midwife's Apprentice), and this was a good afternoon read. Simplistic and frustrating -- the primary emotion the main protagonist functions under -- and sweet. Easy three out of five.

Three small (kid's) books in two days... Is it too early to admit I wish I were writing?



 ... and I was dozing off by 10:15. That's unheard of in this household, so rare and shocking, it borders on crazy talk, but there it is.

Coraline is another novella, actually shorter in length than Bree Tanner, but Neil Gaiman, the author, is a master storyteller. This is my third of his that I've read, and, honestly, of the three, my least favorite. Not that it's bad, by any stretch of the imagination, just not my favorite.

The story is very simple, which it has to be to be satisfying in 162 pages, and I would like to sum it up without spoiling it for anyone in this way: it's the story of a nightmare -- only the author never resorts to the "and then she woke up" device. It's simply a creepy little story that any of us could imagine we've dreamed at some point in our lives, laid it out in story form.

I'd also like to add, partly in defense of my criticism of Bree Tanner that the characters lacked depth, that Coraline's characters were real people. As a matter of fact, I related to the mother and father a little too well, and Coraline was a perfectly normal little girl, containing both virtues and vices, as well as this pleasant little thing we call a personality. She was even a little on the obnoxious side, but she's a little girl. We were all a little on the obnoxious side as children.

All in all, I did like Coraline. I hesitate to rate it now because I feel quite strongly that I'm going to need to reread it, maybe after the New Year, just to see if some of the writing doesn't itch at me like it did upon first reading, but I'm going to pop a 4 out of 5 on it for now, and recommend it as a quick read.

...Oh, and to those who wonder *coughcoughBethandJoAnncoughcough* I did not sit on my backside all day with my nose in a book, promise.

Of course, both books I read were tiny, so there is that. ;-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner



Granted, it's only 178 pages long, and it's basically a rehashing of Eclipse from the perspective of a minor character, so it's not exactly a taxing read, but, hey, it's the first down, and I read it during a couple quiet hours this afternoon. That means I can move on to another this evening. I just have to decide which one...

As for the book itself, I did enjoy it. It's a quick, easy read without too many of the writing glitches of Twilight -- you have to appreciate growth in a writer -- that might distract a reader (me). I found Bree's recounting of the days leading up to the Eclipse battle... interesting... I guess, but the characters weren't handled with enough depth to truly satisfy me. I hardly had a chance to get to know them before they're gone. What was interesting, however, was her perspective of the altercation between the Volturi and the Cullens, details that Bella was oblivious of, including a little insight into information Edward was catching -- that we simply didn't know about in the primary books.

All in all, it was a satisfying read. I don't regret the time spent, though, regardless of Mrs. Meyer's improvement as a writer, it's not exactly fine literature. If I were rating this on a Netflix scale of 1 to 5, Bree Tanner is an easy 3.

Today begins National Novel Reading Month

I'm pretty sure I'm making that up, and, honestly, I hope I am, because if National Novel Reading Month is actually in June, I'm going to be very sad. I'm declaring December my National Novel Reading Month, because after November's National Novel Writing Month, I'm exhausted. I miss reading. I miss sleeping. I need this. *sob*


I don't have a clear cut plan, which, let's be honest, I didn't with my NaNoWriMo either. I do, however, have half a dozen books on my desk, three more awaiting me at the library, and the next month laid before me like a wide-open horizon.

Right now, on the pile -- literally and metaphorically -- are as follows:

Eat, Pray, Love, the last two-thirds of it, anyway...

On Amazon

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which only everyone has raved about...

On Amazon
Charlie St. Cloud, which my mother loved, so I bought it and now owe it to her to read it...

On Amazon

The Ancient Child, a novel by N. Scott Momaday, an author I was introduced to in the early years of my college education and have always wanted to read further...

On Amazon

The Door in the Hedge, by Robin McKinley, mostly to get the taste of Sunshine out of my mouth... Blech.

On Amazon

Neil Gaiman's Coraline, American Gods, and The Graveyard Book...

On Amazon
On Amazon
On Amazon
 and... The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which barely qualifies, but I pre-ordered it and have never read it, not to mention that I recently reread Twilight and now want to bleach-scrub that part of my brain. So, in essence, Stephenie Meyer's novella will preserve my brain from such mistreatment. Or... I hope it will.

On Amazon
I've noticed that Stephen King has a new book on the shelves, which honestly makes me giddy, but until I can get my hands on a copy, that'll have to remain on a mental wishlist for my NaNoReaMo (hehe, like what I did there?).

These nine books won't hold me over very long, so I pose the question to you: What books have you recently read and loved? Any you highly recommend? Modern day classics? Guilty pleasures? Lay 'em on me!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mini Me

I recently referred to Asher as my doppelganger, honestly believing that this was hyperbole. 

... And then Bryan and I found this picture from Asher's camera.

  Keep staring at it. Eventually the two faces will merge into one. Seamlessly.

Bryan was honestly a little freaked out. And he sees us both every single day. Together.

Eerie. Genetics are eerie.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Interesting New Series by Photographer Asher Bell

It's all about the transience of time and matter...
 As well as the importance of perspective, 
seeing the world not as it presents itself but as you present yourself to it

How quickly we race through life

Our attempt to outrun the storms that chase us

The fleetingness of seasons... and travel

Now this series is fascinating...

Note his commentary on the necessity of looking both forward and back,
interspersed with details of the chaos of so- called human civilization.


Truly, it is genius that can draw so much wisdom from his limited experience. 
If only we all traveled in his booster seat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is why artists shouldn't do science

Backstory: Elijah, 10, had an assignment in Health that involved weighing slices of various fruits and vegetables, leaving them under a lamp overnight, then weighing them again. The point was to demonstrate water loss.

And this is why he still can't tell you the point of the experiment:

The best part: his 32 year old father was the one who set up the speech bubbles and celery suicide.



Monday, November 15, 2010

The Lesson That Comes Back to Bite Me... and The Dresden Dolls

Saturday night, I left my house.


The full story is that my brother-in-law Aaron drove up from Florida, so that he and I could attend the Dresden Dolls show in Atlanta together. We had an amazing time, the band is OUTSTANDING, and that's all I'm going to say on the matter.*

This I will say, however: Dear Lord in Heaven, is Brian Viglione an amazing drummer. I'm fairly certain I stood with my mouth hanging open, drooling a little, watching him play. As a matter of fact, watching him play drums should count as drum research, and I should receive some kind of NaNoWriMo write-off for it. Not sure how that would work though.

What lesson did I learn watching him pound his drums like a man who knows his basics, has more than the standard two arms & two legs, respects the classics and plays with unbounded joy?

Um... Only that I reeeeeeally wish I would have learned to play drums when I was fifteen. That's a missed opportunity I'm sorely regretting these days. For serious.

 ~Thanks to Aaron for the 1000th time for inviting me along.~

*The band is potty-mouthed, sings controversial subject matter and condones offensive behavior/ philosophies. I can't listen to their music with my children anywhere near, and that means I can't recommend them in good conscience from this blog. For what it's worth, however, they are amazing musicians, and I enjoyed their performance thoroughly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christian Music, Girl Drummers and Skillet

I've mentioned that my brother is my music dealer, right? Okay, so here's a story for you: About six years ago, I traveled with my family from New York to Tennessee for my cousin's wedding. While we were traveling, my brother Justin loaned me a couple of CDs to listen to while we drove. I was riding with my grandfather, I should mention, who was very cool about listening to these bands that had to be grating on his nerves. The first CD was Mortal or their later incarnation Fold Zandura, not sure which, but neither I nor my grandfather could take more than a few songs of the CD at a time. And then I slipped in the second CD -- Skillet's Alien Youth.

Instant love.

It's difficult to find Christian music -- actual Christian music with worshipful content and outspoken artists -- that rock. Take my word on this. Skillet has been good for that. Alien Youth marked the beginning of my crush on this band. The subsequent album, Collide, released about that time, and my crush deepened.

After Collide, Skillet released Comatose. Elijah loves Comatose. My infatuation cooled, however. The music is good, but it's not as hard, not as edgy. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly; it feels watered down, not the message, just their sound.

Last year, Skillet released their latest album, Awake. I didn't bother to buy it. The singles are very catchy, but they're also obviously derivative of other bands, primarily secular bands. "Monster" in particular sounds startlingly like Three Days Grace's "Animal I Have Become."

I have no patience for this kind of borrowing, especially from Christian artists. We don't take enough criticism simply playing rock music, but then we have to make ourselves sound like mimics and thieves of secular artists? It's not right.

To make a rather abrupt segue: Skillet has the distinction of having a female drummer. An amazing, absolutely rockin' female drummer. Actually, no, let me make a further distinction: Skillet had an amazing, absolutely rockin' drummer named Lori Peters. In 2007, she retired.

featuring drummer Lori Peters

However, when Lori Peters retired, Skillet acquired their second amazing, absolutely rockin' female drummer, Jen Ledger.  Jen Ledger is also a vocalist, which is pretty awesome.

featuring drummer Jen Ledger

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, proof that girls can rock the drums just as hard as the guys.

Which brings me to Drum Research Lesson Five, as demonstrated above by both Lori & Jen:

If your hair isn't flying in your face, you're obviously not doing it right.

(Check out Skillet's single "Hero," to listen to Jen Ledger singing. It's highly enjoyable.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lessons to Live By

For NaNoWriMo, I am working on a novella about a girl drummer. The downside is, of course, that while I am indeed a girl, I am not indeed a drummer. Commence research!

...I love research.

Lesson One:

Always Respect the Classics.

Drumming research Lesson Two:

It doesn’t hurt to have more than the standard two arms & two legs.

Drumming Research Lesson Three:

There is not one DURN thing wrong with simplicity.

Drumming Research Lesson Four:

Joy is essential.

(Being Cobus is pretty sweet, too.)

Notice that all of these drummers are guys? Yeah, there are girl drummers out there, in the wide world, but they're not as prevalent, unfortunately. 

On that note, come back tomorrow to sample two excellent female drummers and Lesson #5.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How Asher sees the world

So, my little doppelganger had a birthday about six weeks ago, and I, being a kind and wonderful mother, set him up with his own camera. (Remember the part where my small son takes better pictures than I do?)

I know, right? I'm awesome.

Anyway, I thought it might be refreshing to actually post pictures instead of music videos, so I give you "Asher's Photography: The World As Seen From the Backseat, In A Booster Seat"

Pretty Fall Foliage; Streaky Window

Big Tree and Reflection

"Slow Down, Mom, the trees are blurring."


"Mom? Mommy? Mom? I yuv you."

"Are you listening to me?"

"Ten and two, Mommy. Oh, and could you slow down around the corners?
I'm trying to shoot the scenery, here.Thanks."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

National Novel Writing Month: 30 days of ignoring housework

While I'm plugging along for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo - see the button on the sidebar to see my progress) and trying to decide if blogging is best left to people much better organized and less lazy than I, you should enjoy this happy Hammock cookie.

Basically, Hammock is the best music to listen to while writing. Not distracting, not irritating, not repetitive nor boring. I'm also appreciating those qualities in Red Sparowes and Mumford & Sons, as well as the always reliable Damien Rice, City & Colour and Common Children (Delicate Fade and The Inbetween Time only... Writing to Skywire is like trying to listen to someone telling you a secret of great significance while you're standing beneath a busy overpass in a crowded city: not impossible but certainly not advised).

Enjoy your cookie. :-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gratuitous OLP

Today was an unbearably gorgeous October day in north Georgia, and I was the crazy lady in her car -- without her kids -- playing her music wuh-hay too loudly.


This is for Bethany and Bryan, one of whom despises Our Lady Peace, the other having no better understanding than I do how that can possibly be. Love you both.

Isn't this letterpress adorable? Check out its creator here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Elle G.

I was sixteen when Going Public was released, though I remember being a bit older -- seventeen or eighteen -- when listening to it, sitting in my car with my brother, conversation going silent as the bass began to play...

I have always felt that "Elle G." is an example of music crafted to its finest:
Music, lyrics, the pain inherent in both.

I know that I led a blessed, charmed life. While friends of friends were hurt or hurting themselves, my closest friends remained safe, as did my blessed, charmed life.

That doesn't mean I can't appreciate the grief portrayed, even back then, before sickness began stalking my family. Before I became a wife and mother and began having visions of every trauma that could befall my babies. Before my cousin's wife took her life. Before cancer and miscarriages and, you know, adulthood.

Isn't it a magnificent comfort, knowing that our God not only sees and hears our weeping, but that He weeps with us through the darkest hour and then brings joy with the morning? Through the smaller stresses of day-to-day living and in the deepest well of grief, He holds us in the palm of his hand. 

His is a Magnificent Love, is it not?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pretty Much Perfect

While catching up on the blogs I follow, I was introduced to this band:

The Civil Wars.

I do believe that I will be eternally in that blogger's debt. (Check out the original post here.)

In the meantime, I feel compelled to pay it forward. This band is amazing. Their harmonies, their musicality, their sheer gawgeousness. I'm in love.

I highly recommend visiting The Civil War's MySpace page. Check out the other videos and songs thereupon, then download the album. It's awesome. It is -- as the subject line attests -- pretty much perfect.

... Go.

... NOW.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Christian Music - TFK

Oh, Thousand Foot Krutch, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

First is the relief and comfort of Christian lyrics and intention to support excellently rockin' music.

I love you for your energy, for driving through me so I want to jump up and down, adulthood be hanged.

For the thrill of screaming in your otherwise unscreamy music.

Your harmonies (and inadvertant resemblance to Raine Maida upon first listen)...

For 2:15 - 2:57 of "Break the Silence"...

I love you for every album, for filling a need in our playlists for hard Christian rock.

Also, I love you for being Canadian, though that has nothing to do with anything.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get Happy

It's definitely more than time for a happy post. Definitely.

First -- as a disclaimer -- my family makes me happy. Elijah is super bright, Asher is super funny, and Bryan might be the most astounding (patient, hilarious, communicative, good) man I could have picked.
They also frustrate and exasperate me. All of them. Just as I frustrate and exasperate them. Which is why I have smaller, much more trivial ways of coaxing a little joy into our lives.
That said...

1. Punk Music.

To be honest, Green Day was my introduction to punk (I know, I know... pop punk), but hot upon the heels of Dookie came Pokinatcha, so MxPx was really my first punk love. 

Dude. I loved that album. Fast drums, cute bassist, annoying adolescent know-it-all lyrics. Dude. Love.

I was that young too, you know, right about that time.
Do you know how cute I was when they were that young? Wicked cute.

Me and Bethany, 1996, specifically my 18th birthday. Cutenesses.

2. Converse

I debuted my new gray low-tops at church Sunday, and one of my young friends/ helpers immediately asked how Asher was doing. Because of the Converse. She remembered he was mine because of my penchant for rubber toed sneakers. Make of that what you will.

3. Pierced Monster Toys

Okay, to explain this, I have to live up to the title of this blog.

You see, some weeks ago, the boys were watching Nick or Disney or whatever, and we saw a commercial for the Monster High Toys or ... YouTube Episodes. Not sure. Actually, the commercial wasn't entirely forthcoming. I rolled my eyes and discounted the entire thing as one very big and bad gimmick.

And then I caught sight of the toys in Target. And fell in love.
The dolls are actually really cute, and the guy... Deuce Gorgon...
Major himbo in the commercial. Total babe in vinyl. 

I'm kidding; he's a toy.

From Captain Toy
He does have a super sweet face, bright green eyes, and -- you can ask Elijah, I totally squealed in Target over this -- a pinna piercing. That's not even making mention of his mohawk, tattoo and shoes. He's so cute. I would have bought him if he could be bought separately from his "girlfriend" Cleo de Nile, who is cute enough, but not for the $30 I'd have to pay for the two of them together.

Oh, you noticed that I have no shame about buying a toy for myself for no good purpose?

... The mister bought the G.I. Joe Night Raven for himself for our anniversary.

I don't even know where the put the quotation marks in that last statement to fully emphasize how much of a joke that last prepositional/ adverbial phrase is. *Eye roll*

4. The fact I just referred to a prepositional/ adverbial phrase.

Tell me that didn't make you giggle a little too.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love or: Not Mockingjay

It would make excellent sense in the wake of last week's hoopla over Mockingjay's release, bated-breath-waiting, reading and sigh-of-relief that I would say something about it, but the truth is that the idea of writing a book review for Mockingjay makes me want to groan and writhe, though whether in pain or aggravation, I'm not sure.

Here's my review: I was not disappointed. I'm sure that Suzanne Collins' entire motivation was just that, to make sure that Punk wasn't disappointed, so she can now rest easy that she has succeeded. Honestly, I'm still mulling, letting my brain organize everything I read -- way too quickly -- and then maybe I'll analyze. Probably not, though. I liked it. A lot. The end.

However, in the meantime, I've picked up Eat, Pray, Love. I'm not one to jump on a band-wagon for books or movies, not really (Twilight, per example: the more deafenening the hype, the less I wanted to be associated with it. It's a small rebelliousness, and it may be the only kind I possess), but I recently went through a book-buying phase that will probably go down in some kind of family history. "Remember after we moved from PointA to PointB, and Jess got cut off from the good library and thought she was going to have to live her life without a library and thus, probably die? Remember when she started buying up books out of sheer desperation? Good times!" That's where this book came from: paperbacks for a dollar on the cart at the new library. I snatched it up, paid my dollar, and set it on the shelf with other books I would not have bought otherwise (Life of Pi, Atonement, House of Sand and Fog, McKinley's Sunshine). I mentioned the hoopla of Mockingjay and that I am now in its wake, which is why I went thumbing through my shelves for something to read. Picked this one up. Figured I might as well at least read a few pages.

I've not heard much about the book, but the drive-by-reviews I have heard aren't necessarily positive, and that's fine. I may get to the end of this book and decide that I'm not a fan. Afterall, I'm only 102 pages in (*gasp* says everyone who knows me); a lot can happen in the pages that remain.

I've been reading it in small bites, as though I'm recovering from the binge that was Mockingjay. It's better this way, those small bites, because every few vignettes, I'm struck with a sense of poignancy that requires I taste it, digest it.

Maybe it's because the author is writing from an age that I can relate to, her early thirties. Maybe it's because I've been so miserable this week that I can relate to her panicked quest for happiness.

-- Word of advice, kids: Don't ever underestimate the power of regular sleep. I speak from a lifetime of experience as an insomniac. Trust me. The world is much uglier when you don't sleep.

Perhaps, she, Elizabeth Gilbert, deserves the credit, as she is the writer. She is the one evoking this poignancy. A part of me wants to track her down and carry on annoying dialogue, mostly using paragraphs of her book as her side of the dialogue:

"Liz, about the third vignette: I am one of those "strictly speaking" Christians, and I too believe in a magnificent God. I don't know how one can bother with a God that isn't magnificent. But isn't it marvelous, that magnificence, His magnificence?"

"Liz, your last line for vignette twelve... I don't get it. The poem -- wow -- yeah, that I get, like the sharp finger of a tree root through my chest, but your response. Shaking with relief? Why?"

"Liz, why does your still, small voice have to be your own? Mostly, I'm referring to vignette eighteen, the parts you wrote about there. It's been my experience that when a voice much calmer and wiser than I am is answering when I'm crying out, that is truly God, as in bigger and better than me. Separate from me. Not me. Why isn't that everyone's understanding? How could that still, small voice possibly be me? I don't understand."

"I relate -- too well -- with that sense of guilt in being quiet, being still and happy. That 'pleasure' you talk about, Liz. In my mind, it's 'lazy,' and I'm very good at it, and it is not a virtue. I can breathe deeply and feel the goodness of this life, but only for a minute, because then the guilt takes over, for doing nothing but sitting here, breathing and thinking how good I've got it. The difference being that I don't necessarily think I'm wrong. It's about balance, isn't it? Life is so much about learning balance."

"Thank you, Liz, for the Italian lessons. I've often wondered if there were people in the world who love language as much as I do, who relish the sound and feel of words -- all of them -- like I do. Dante's Italian; Shakespeare's English. Just reading the Italian makes me feel as though I should lick my fingers and make yummy-noises. So, thank you."

I have a lot more of the book to go, and Lord knows it could get down-right weird from the yummy-Italian portion of the story, but I'm not looking to Elizabeth Gilbert to tell me how to live my life or perceive my God -- or myself -- or even how to find my own balance. I'm reading her story, how she's learning to live her life, perceive God and find balance. And I'm remembering that I'm a woman in her early thirties in a world which doesn't understand God as she does and doesn't understand balance as she does, remembering that while my story doesn't span continents and is still very much in its first drafting, it's a good story. It's mine.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Open Letter to the World At Large Regarding Mockingjay

Dear Everyone in the Universe,

Mockingjay's release is today, and a handful of my Twitter-people are reading it now, in the spare days before my copy arrives, and so it becomes of utmost importance that I hear not a breath of a spoiler.

Oh, you say, my telling you *psstpsstpsst* won't make a difference. Not really.


Here's why: I am an insanely good guesser. Pretty much the only person who really knows and understands the extent of my good-guessing is Bryan (he should, after eleven years of marriage), so people are always dropping hints I DON'T WANT TO KNOW about books and movies. Guess what? Those hints ruin it for me.

Remember The Sixth Sense? Remember the puffickly huh-yooge plot twist? (That's a Stephen King reference, by the way. Love that book.) My sister -- yes, I'm calling her out a dozen years later -- made the ginourmous mistake of telling me there was a "crazy twist" before I went into the theater to see it. I spent the entire movie waiting for it, watching for it, to such an extent that I figured it out before the reveal, thus lessening the shock. But the shock is the fun of the whole twist! Where's the fun if you figure it out before the shock? There's isn't any!

Lost. The entire world has been talking about Lost. Guess what? I don't have to watch it now BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. The world ruined the shock for me.

Inception. I wanted to see it so badly, and now I don't, because everyone and their bff has been talking about it, and now I'm pretty sure all the shock has been blown out of it for me. I hate that.

It's more than the hints, so I can't blame the rest of the world for it. I really am a good guesser. Chalk it up to having read a million and a half books in my lifetime; there are only so many turns a plot can make. Remember that movie The DaVinci Code? I happened to be sitting in the living room while Bryan was watching it (I think I was reading a book), and I predicted every plot turn. It was actually pretty funny.  Or remember some months back when I talked about The City of Bones books? I saw all the twists coming not just ahead of time, but entire books ahead of time. You know what that makes a story? Predictable. Boring. Why do I keep reading if I know what's going to happen?

So, here's the entire point of this long-winded rant: SSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH...


Monday, August 23, 2010

Poor Planning. Good Music.

This morning I thought, I should Sunday-Music-Blog about MxPx, because I love them, but I only had about thirty minutes left to get my family ready for church, so that was out. A book shot the rest of the afternoon. By this evening, I was over the original idea and ready to just move on with my non-blogging life, which is pretty much all of it, but then I made the mistake of heading into YouTube to find a song I wanted to listen to, which led me to a band I haven't listened to in ages: Chagall Guevara.

I can't recall the circumstances of my introduction to Chagall Guevara, no matter how I wish I could. Most likely, the music-loving mother of a friend of my sister's (no, seriously) lent me a tape, but I could be way off the mark. The music, however, is familiar. What's even better, it's not the vaguely laughable familiarity of out-dated, childhood music; it's still really good. Or, possibly, I hated it back then and have now grown into it. Stranger things have happened.

One of the commenters on this video stated it best:
"This song still sounds great, but the video hasn't aged well."
God forgive us the early nineties.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Christian Music - Pillar (or: One More Post-Grunge Band)

See that Pandora box over on the right? I don't listen to Pandora often because most of the time that I'm sitting here, listening to music, I need to be able to tune the music to the back of my mind in order to hear the others things rattling around up there.

A few weeks ago, I went into the nursery I serve in and started talking to someone who was substituting for someone else, and we ended up on the conversation of Christian heavy-metal. For the record, I don't listen to heavy-metal. A slew of other genres but not that one. I can't; it gets under my skin and makes me feel twitchy. However, this particular conversation got me thinking about the music I listen to and how limited it is and how limited my venues for finding new music -- especially Christian music -- are, so...

... A few days ago, I opened up Pandora, keyed in a station seeded by Thousand Foot Krutch, all with the intention of discovering new Christian music. By the end of the night, I was thanking Pandora (via Twitter) for the various bands and for the variety of music.

Pillar was one of those bands. Honestly, I don't know how it is that I haven't been listening to them for years. They just have that feel and sound to them, something comforting from adolescence/ college.


Check out Pandora here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Does this piercing make me look fat?

This may surprise the very few of you who read this little blog o' mine, particularly since I'm pretty sure I've only ever uttered this statement to my mister and my sister, but I want a lip ring.


It's not a persistent longing. The thought doesn't keep me awake at night; I have a lot of other crazy things in my head for that task. But every once in a while, I think of it, and my thought runs along the lines of, "Gosh, I'd really like a lip ring."

Now, this isn't something I would just run out and do. Firstly, because I research and sit on these impulses of mine for a Good. Long. While. It's safer than acting on impulse. I know this is true because I am unerringly fickle, and impulsive behavior and fickleness aren't exactly compatible. Secondly, the small amount of research I have done suggests that a lip piercing is a rather significant piercing to get. If not well cared for, the piercing or ring itself could affect not only the gums but the jaw and teeth as well. What's more, my research suggests that I find a very well respected piercer, develop a relationship, etc. No teeny-bopper at Claire's for this undertaking. Thirdly (or fourthly... where am I?), I'm not ready.

It's a perception thing. I am reaching the time of my life in which I care less and less what people think of me, but I find that as that happens, I become more and more critical of myself. So, in this, I look at myself -- as I am now -- and I look at that idea of myself with a lip ring, and I think, yeah right. The dumpy hausfrau who is incredibly conservative, never finishes a project, has about a thousand other issues that needs addressing? Yeah, she's not going to be sporting a lip ring at any time soon.

Or would she? To match her pearls.

But I can't just say, fine, let's address those issues, because -- as any adult with any sense of self understands -- we are always growing and always changing. It's ongoing. It's every day, every decision. So, I'll face the next decision, the next day, and I'll continue to sit on this particular whim of mine.

So, while I'm incubating, I ask your perspective on this: How do you feel about a thirty-two year old homeschooling mother of two, a Christian woman, showing up at church with a lip ring? Is it simply ridiculous? Grow up, Punk. You're not seventeen. You missed the rebellious stage; get over it. Or is this something that isn't so far-fetched?

For those who have had piercings or tattoos, what advice might you give? I'd appreciate any and all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One more reason Amazon's $5 MP3s are awesome

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have very recently been introduced to a new band.
Perhaps it was only a fluke of the monthly $5 MP3 album sale through Amazon.
Perhaps it was fate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I love blues rock.
I love The Black Keys, and now I love Band of Skulls.

Lord save me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"My Body is a Cage"

Me: late to the scene, but I'm here.
Rapt, spellbound, breathless.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Be My Escape - Relient K

Mmhmm: Agreement and Satisfaction. Thank you, Relient K.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Settling In of Epic Proportions

One of these days, I'll have actual pictures of the house and/ or what we're in the midst of doing, but in the mean time all I have are words.

How's this one: Curtains.
We apparently didn't own any before we moved here. Oh, pardon moi, we had two panels for one window. That's it. Fortunately for us, our landlord and landlady are super, super nice, and they offered us a few more curtains plus curtain rods. However, that still left at least three rooms exposed. We've been here a full month, and last night, Bryan put up the curtain rods and new curtains for our room. Today, I bought curtains for Asher's room. We are no longer exposed.

Or this one: Carpets.
We are on a Great Carpet Quest. The boys' rooms are on the lower level of the house, and they have linoleum flooring, so we've been trying to put down rugs to warm the rooms and make them more inviting to boys who are more than likely going to be playing on the floor. However, everything cute is hideously expensive and everything cheap is... well, not cute. We have found some carpets at Lowe's that are really nice and affordable (think: clearance), but only enough for one room. The Quest continues.

And these: Poison Ivy. And Poison Oak. And Poison Sumac.
We have all three. Lots of all three. And I specifically bear the wounds to prove it. Though, I'm sure a picture of the biggest tree in our yard, itself wound with actual poison ivy as well as ringed with those little sprouted weed plants, would also serve as excellent proof.
My mister, who is schooled in poison ivy and its havoc upon a person, is pretty much the only person who can deal with it in the yard. He's armed with Round Up, long sleeves, gloves and the biggest bottle of Tecnu on the market. I, on the other hand, stand inside the house, behind closed windows and doors, and break out in new rashes when the wind blows the wrong way. Seriously, people. It's so not right.

Other excellent words: Lightning Bugs, Bats, Rabbits, Coyotes, Frogs.
This past weekend, just as dusk was falling, Bryan and I went out to the front patio of the house to listen to thunder rolling to the south of us and look out over the big, beautiful yard before us. Darkness fell slowly, and as it did, the yard filled with lightning bugs. It was absolutely beautiful. A funny squeaking drew our attention overhead, to the treetops, silhouetted against the sky, and two little bats spiraling around the yard. They squeaked, the funniest little noise, and circled the trees, almost as though they were chasing each other, playing. Possibly, they were catching fireflies for breakfast. Either way, I was tickled to no end.
Over on the north edge of the yeard, a brown rabbit nibbled on the grasses and plants. To the west, where a small stream flows along the property, Fergie the Frog (thus named by my sons), sat under a hazy, rising moon. Then, just as we were discussing heading back indoors to our computers and projects, a coyote howled to the east, essentially shutting up the yapping of our neighbor's little dogs.

The word uttered a lot that night: Awesome.

We love this house. We love this yard. It's an adjustment for sure; neither of us realized how much of an adjustment moving from an apartment to a house would be. Neither of us, however, would claim that it isn't worth it.

It totally is. Trust me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Move of Epic Proportions

We are home. As I sit at the counter of my new kitchen -- surrounded on all sides by unpacked boxes, mind you -- this reality still doesn't seem quite to have hit me. There's a reason for that. Let me explain. No, there is too much; let me sum up. No, wait, the only way for anyone to understand is to lay it all out for you, so bear with me. Okay? Okay.

Friday, May 28, 11 p.m. - Bryan and I had made a deal to finish our respective packing projects by 11 p.m. so we could go to bed at a reasonable hour, for us at least, so that we would be well rested for packing the truck. This deal worked out remarkably well, and we were indeed in bed and dozing off by ten after.

Saturday, May 29, 7 a.m. - Bryan's alarm went off. Thirty seconds later, mine went off. We both hit snooze.

7:15 a.m. - My second alarm went off. I got up. Bryan got up. The boys got up. We continued packing and organizing.

9:30 a.m. - Bryan went to pick up the Uhaul truck. I packed and cleaned the last bathroom frantically.

10 a.m. - Bryan brought the truck in, and we realized that Uhaul's idea of a 17 foot truck was much different than ours. Ours was actually 17 feet. Theirs was more like 12 feet plus the cab. Regardless, we began the daunting task of packing our apartment into it.

To note: Our apartment is on the third story of the building. There is no elevator. There are thirty-six steps; I counted them.

Also to note: Since we've moved into this apartment four and a half years ago, we have added an entire person to our family plus the various furniture and accoutrements necessary for that fourth person. We've also added a couch, a coffee table and more books than I would care to detail.

Now that you've noted this, consider how many times we had to walk those thirty-six steps with our furniture, boxes, suitcases, appliances, et cetera. A hundred, you think? More? We're talking four thousand steps to climb, down and up, approximately speaking.

I wish I could put a time on when the truck was half full, three quarters full, but I honestly don't know. What I do know is that I thought we would have the truck loaded by five in the afternoon. I would take the packed car to Whole Foods where I would purchase a picnic lunch and little cake for our dinner, dessert, reward and rest. Bryan had estimated six. We were both being starry-eyed and optimistic.

7 p.m. - We shoved our mattress in the truck, cursing Uhaul and our apartment complex and our lack of friends, and Bryan informed me that we would have to make a second run with the truck. I may have wept.
Bryan may have as well.

I took our packed car to Whole Foods, picked up a few slices of pizza and cookies and headed for the house. We ate. We unpacked in record time, patting each other the back for being to unpack so quickly.

10:30 p.m. - We drove back to the apartment. Bryan tasked me with making a Dunkin Donuts run, but Asher fell asleep five minutes from D & D, and there wasn't a single parking space to be found, and I was tired, and my hands hurt from carrying heavy crap, and my feet and my legs hurt from climbing the stairs, and I was scraped and bruised, and my baby was sleeping in the car, for crying out loud, and I arrived back to the apartment, carried Asher up three flights of stairs, went in and realized exactly how much more there was to do.

10:50 p.m. - Bryan showed up with the truck. I burst into tears.

11 p.m. - We emptied the boys' room, laid out a couple of comforters and set the boys to sleep. We continued packing. I moaned a lot, wept a little, complained way too much, and once or twice completely lost my gumption to pick up my end of whatever needed me to pick it up.

Sunday, May 30, 1 a.m. - Bryan assured me that he could handle the rest and I should go lay down with the boys since I was the one who had to be up to work nursery at church in the morning. Feeling despondent and mortified with guilt but so defeated I wasn't exactly helping anyway, I agreed.

1 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. - Bryan packed the truck. I did not sleep. I laid in the room with the boys, listening to every noise of my husband coming in and out of the apartment, wondering how well he was doing, was he coping, if he had fallen down the stairs, if he had grown despondent and defeated and angry with me for abandoning him, but I didn't sleep. I couldn't make myself wake enough to actually get up and help him, and I really did have to get up in the morning and present a decent front for nursery, so I remained where I was.

4:30 a.m. - Bryan came to bed. He promptly went into a sound sleep. I still didn't fall asleep.

5:30 a.m. - Our alarms once again went off. We both hit snooze. With the second alarm, I roused Bryan -- who later informed me that he had no idea where he was or what was going on or what I was talking about -- and we gathered the pillows, went out into the living room to discover that my amazing, astounding, unbelievable husband had cleared the entire apartment. By himself. Empty.

6 a.m. - Dunkin Donuts. Plenty of parking.

6:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. - Bryan, Elijah and I (and Asher, a little) emptied the entire truck. We even took most of it into the house, rather than simply dumping it all in the car port, though we did essentially dump it in the kitchen, den and dining room as they're the most accessible rooms from the car port.

We returned the truck, fully gassed as per the contract by 10 a.m., and I even managed to take a side trip to our church and inform the nursery coordinator of our situation. She was gracious and generous enough to tell me that they'd find me a substitute; take my family home to sleep.

10:30 a.m. - We sat down to breakfast, all four of us exhausted and in tremendous pain (neither Bryan nor I can fully clench our fists at this point, our hands are so swollen and damaged) but we were relieved because we were done.

We spent the entire afternoon napping in the new house. I never fully fell asleep then either, and at this point -- 9:21 by my laptop clock -- I'm so tired, I'm barely thinking straight, but it did my boys well.

And my boys... to the world, I would like to declare that my family is amazing.

My husband did everything. My husband carried the heavy stuff. He packed the truck like the most insane and meticulous game of Tetris EVER. He stayed up all night in order to clear the apartment, and he did all of this with a very sweet and patient attitude, assuring all of us we were doing fantastic.

And Elijah? Dude, that kid carried as much as I did, though to a lesser degree weight-wise, obviously, and he kept a cheerful, helpful attitude the entire day. He never complained. Not once. Can you imagine?

Asher couldn't carry things down the big stairs, so he couldn't help us load, but he did help us unload, the little bit that he was able. However, my little boy waited patiently these last few days while the three of us came and went, telling him that we were busy, that we would be working a long time, that we couldn't turn on a movie or game for him because the TV and XBox were packed, that his toys were packed, that we didn't have more than a few minutes at a time to spend with him. He was unbelievably patient.

This has been the longest weekend of my life. I still can't bring myself to say that the move went well because I think we were slapped silly by how huge of an endeavor it actually was, but I'm so proud of my family, I can't begin to even express it. That means so much more to me than the house or the yard. They made it worth it.