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.