Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trivial Things

I'm currently working, but I'm waiting for an install to finish.  In the mean time...

I feel like writing about the trivial things I've done today, am going to do today, and have planned to do over the weekend.

I woke up at 830 in a panic thinking I was late for my one-one-one meeting with my coach.  Turns out, after 15 minutes of waiting for my laptop to boot up and load Windows, the meeting was at 930.  *whew.  Gotta love thinking you slept through something.  I've had dreams where I slept through every class at school and made it for the final, and I had no idea what the class was even about.  Terrible feeling, that.  Thank goodness I wake up and remember I haven't been in school for seven years.

I also retrieved my Night Guard today.  Thank God!  It fits perfectly - so perfectly, I could use it as a retainer.  Per my buddy Alan's advice, I'll wear it during the day today to get used to it so I don't have a hard time sleeping tonight.

Worked out on my way back from the dentist's office... I've used that tactic on myself recently, because if I don't do it while I'm already out of the house, it won't get done.

I have household tasks to complete, like loading the dishwasher and running it, washing a load of laundry (my clothes) so I have stuff to wear in front of people when/if they come over this weekend, dusting and sweeping, and, of course, making sure my bathroom is presentable.  I think there are two things that are the most gross to see when going to someone's house: a dirty kitchen (a few dishes in the sink is okay) and a dirty bathroom.  If these two things are nice and pretty, I generally don't care about the state of the rest of the house.
But I refuse to sit on a couch next to, or on, a pile of dirty clothes.  I'll take the floor instead.

I mentioned people coming over.  There are two social events I have planned, but one is more a "possibly, maybe" thing, and the other is happening so long as peeps show up.
Oh, heck, I'll just list my weekend plans/lack of plans.

  • Friday: I took the day off, just because I could.  During the morning, and probably afternoon, there will be a combination of sleep, TV watching, and housework.  Mike's beer brewing buddy from Sprouts (formerly Sunflower) Andrew, and his girlfriend, might be coming over, ergo must clean.
  • Saturday:  Zilch planned.  When Mike gets tired of me fawning on him, I'll go read, maybe mend his pants (yes, I can get all domestic-like) and get our Blu ray shelves up in the office.
  • Sunday: Church (duh), visiting the in-law's (maybe), errands, workout, then... something.  Probably last minute cleaning.  I have a movie night planned for the cast of "Taming of the Shrew," the show for which I'm AD.  I know, I'm a glorified gopher (go-for, as in, "Go for Eegee's for me, Carol"), but I also helped cast the show, and I get to be line prompter when the actors go off book next week.
  • Monday: I have the day off, so I'll most likely be sleeping, reading, and (since no gaming, as my FB peeps know) catching up on the Blu ray's my hubby has purchased for me but I haven't watched yet.  Been too busy gaming and burning a static image into our upgraded plasma TV. *sniffle.  It's not my fault...

So there you have it, my trivial events.  But life is made up of such things, all smushed together and packed tightly, and upon these things one's self sits.  The trivial should not be underrated.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Children's Stories

I want to gush.  It seems like lately I've been absolutely enchanted by stories technically classified as Children's books, or Youth books, at the very highest.

There's something about the simple sentence structure, the rapid flow of the plot, the generally easy vocabulary, but most of all, there's something about the unapologetic directness of the story.

There's no complex plot devices, no extensive use of metaphor, no pussy-footing around complicated life issues.  The book says what it means to say, and, depending on the finesse of the author, says it well.

What books might have triggered this reaction?  It's been a long time coming, but these are the books with which I connected or re-connected in the last couple of years:

  • Chronicles of Narnia (of course)
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • Castle in the Air
  • House of Many Ways
  • Coraline
  • The Graveyard Book

and, the most recent,

  • Heidi

I read Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, as a youngster, probably around 10 years old, and while the story of a girl from the mountain helping a friend from the city walk again enchanted me and reinforced the notion that living in the country was preferable to living in a large town or full-fledged city, its appeal only lasted so long in the face of Jane Austen, who had ROMANCE included in her novels.  Oooo, romance.  Yes, I was captivated by such things even at a young age.  There's a reason my dad called me "boy crazy."

Now, however, the story takes on an entirely new dimension - you see, I've BEEN to Switzerland.  I've been IN the Alps.  I've sat on a bench in the middle of a rural neighborhood and heard the goat bells and seen the green pastures and squinted at the snow on the cliffs.  I've breathed the crisp air, tasted mountain spring water, and napped under the golden sun.

So these things that Spyri describes are very clear and vivid for me.  Add to that the childish innocence, the weaving of well-known stories into the narrative without the reader even knowing until the precise moment it makes the most emotional impact, the kindness demonstrated by so many of the supporting characters, and the clearly unabashed references to God make this an altogether new experience for me, reading as an adult.

Diana Wynn Jones, the author of Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, and House of Many Ways, I recently discovered because I wanted to read the stories that inspired the Miyazaki films.  I confirmed that, as usual, the book is almost completely different than the movie, but I also found that I really, really liked her writing style and the world she created.  These three books are a trilogy in the respect that the event happen in the same universe, but the central story isn't about the same characters.  Characters from previous books make cameo appearances, or are supporting characters, but they aren't the primary focus.

Once again, the simple, matter-of-fact sentence structure and vocabulary dominate the narrative, making for an extremely quick read.  I sometimes had to force myself to slow down to catch all the detail, though.  Jones employs magic in her stories, sometimes of mind-bending quality, but always delightfully expressed.  Howl himself highly entertained me.

Neil Gaiman, who wrote Coraline and The Graveyard Book, adds a mysterious and often creepy quality to his stories.  He writes both adult and youth fiction, and I've read a sampling of both.  He has a unique voice and a unique perspective, which I find fascinating.  Again, though, the narrative is simple, straightforward, and often clever.  Gaiman simply adds a new dimension that I don't usually find conducive to a younger audience.  For some reason, though, his exploration of the morbid isn't as disturbing as it could be.  I'd most likely object if it came from anyone else.

All this isn't to say I don't like full-length novels anymore.  Far from it.  I still greatly enjoy Dickens and Austen and Bronte and the like.  I still get involved with contemporary teen series (like Harry Potter), and I still hold LOTOR in awe as the premium example of Epic Fantasy.  I'm just learning to re-appreciate works geared for a younger audience.  I don't care if the reading level is far below what I'm capable, or what challenges me.  I like these stories for their own sake, and I believe it's good for us adult types to take a break from life's intrigues and bask in the subtle nuances of a child's story.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Aging

I need to put this somewhere, so why not here?

Yesterday, while being absolutely disgusted with myself for having a beer when I didn't intend to have one, I noticed something on my upper thigh.  What could that be?

Spider veins.

I've had a small group of them on one leg for several years.  I dealt with the shock then, and every time I see them, it isn't a big deal.
Yes, well, this is on the OTHER leg, and it's a very LARGE grouping, and I've never seen it before, not even in progress.
It just kind of hit me then, like a sledgehammer, that I'm getting older.
Not OLD, good heavens, I'm not that vapid, but older.  I'm aging.  I have dark half-circles and slight bags under my eyes, spider veins on my legs, it's harder to lose fat, my body hurts more often, and my vision is getting worse.

I just kind of crumpled.  It's like adding lemon juice to the wound.  I'm already struggling with firmly rooted bad habits and my inability to lose weight at the drop of a hat, but then to see garish blue and black squiggles in a place they weren't before....  Even stretch marks didn't bother me this much.

So I went and curled up on my bed (being bed time), buried my face in the pillow, and had a little cry with the cat laying close by.  I petted him and he purred, oblivious.

A few minutes later, Mike walked in.  We've been married long enough that we can enter a room and just TELL if there's something bothering the other person.  It can be nice, but sometimes it can be really annoying.  Like right then.  I didn't want him to know there was yet another thing eating away at me.  He's already listened to my complaints and worries about my teeth, my weight, my job.

So he asked me, "What's wrong?"
I shrugged as a reply, further proving I was, indeed, bothered by something.  So he asked again.
I told him, and started tearing up, just a tiny bit.
He responded, "Honey, it's something that comes with age.  It's normal.  You're just getting older."
"I know," I wailed, and hid my face.

He sat down on the bed next to me, petted my hair, and said that he thought I was beautiful, and that he'd rather grow old with me than stay 16 and stupid forever.
I snickered and said, "No way to I want to be 16 forever.  Sixteen was a bad year for me - car accident with whiplash, Bell's Palsy, the root canal from hell.  No, I'd rather be 25 forever."  I paused, then added, "I wouldn't want to be 25 and stupid forever, though.  I guess we trade wisdom for beauty, right?"
He smiled and called me a beautiful, mature woman, said that I'm not a girl anymore, and declared that he loved me and was happy to be married to me.  He also said a few things to make me blush, thus I won't repeat them here. :)

So, I guess mentally calling myself 30 before I actually am isn't enough to prepare for getting older.  Yet another thing with which to grapple.  At least now I have a reasonable excuse for taking naps and choosing to stay home on a Friday or Saturday night. *wry grin.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Attempting to Be Motivated

I see myself following a pattern right now, a pattern I fell into during college that resulted in me blimping out to 220 lbs.  That result in unacceptable.  Even 180 lbs in unacceptable, and I've passed that.

What is this pattern?  It's the consumption pattern.  The establishment of food and (now that I'm over 21) alcohol as the go-to substance to help me relax or feel better or kill time.

Not acceptable.

And yet I'm following it anyway.  Why are these things so hard to break?!  One minute, I look in the mirror and think, "I look fine.  Mike says I'm pretty, and guess what, I feel pretty.  I'm doing dandy."  The next minute, I look in the mirror and see a swollen belly, flabby arms, and thick calves reaching down to cankles.  "F**K," I say to myself, "something must be done!  This is terrible!"

So I go on a restricted-eating-workout-binge commitment that lasts, what, a week, tops?  Then I'm right back to the refrigerator looking for something tasty to eat during a movie because that's just what I do.

I'm so irritated at myself I CAN'T STAND IT!!!



You done?

Yeah, I think so.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Instead of Drinking Beer

I have decided I am the Quality Control manager (to borrow a quip from my aunt) for Mike's home brew.  He makes it, I drink it.  I like this arrangement.

Alas, as QC manager, I suffer certain... side effects of my role.  Some are good - my assets are more pronounced, which Mike highly appreciates.  Others, however, are most unfortunate, like my expanded waistline.

Ergo, I must drastically reduce, even desist for a time, in my responsibilities as QC manager.  I love beer, but I love fitting into the clothes I already have.  I have a pair of really nice pants I haven't been able to wear since my mom in law gave them to me.  It makes me very sad.

Therefore, for my future reference, and hopefully for your amusement, I have composed a list of things I can do to diminish, or shut out, the voice of the home brew calling to me from the refrigerator.
Please note that this list will not involve movies or video games, as it is during those that I MOST want a beer.  Nor will it involve anything in the kitchen, because the beer is IN the kitchen...

Read a chapter in a book
Make the bed
Take a shower
Go for a walk
Go to the gym
Do free weights in my room
Write a blog
Write more for one of my stories
Rake the front yard
Harass the cats
Harass the husband
Read my Bible
Do P90X Yoga
Mend clothes
Do laundry
Clean the bathroom
Sweep the floors
File paperwork
Take a bath and read
Make a skirt for Ren Faire
Make a cape for Ren Faire
Scan wedding pics into computer
FB stalk
Blogspot stalk
Dye my hair
Draw on myself with a Sharpie
Give myself a manicure and/or pedicure
Listen to music
Flouride rinse treatment (b/c I can't eat or DRINK anything for 30 min after)
Call my mom, dad, or sister
Clean the car interior
Give the cat a bath

Monday, August 20, 2012

More Reflections

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

Paraphrasing from a sermon I heard a while ago: "Loving God is paramount in our Christian walk, but no human is capable of loving that much, that devotedly, indefinitely - but this is why God grants what he also commands..."

How long has it been since I felt an overwhelming adoration for God that lasted more than an hour?  How long since I considered each step in light of His holiness and mercy, since each moment showed me further proof of His love and protection?

I live my life, worrying over my worries, stressing over what I can't change, immersing into my hobbies, or filling my spare time with amusing characters - real and fictional alike.  I go to church, I feel the impact of the lesson; I don't dismiss it, I'm grateful for it, joyful when I leave, but the fire, the courage...

I remember in college so many of us had that drive, that energy, that openly vibrant zeal for the God of the universe.  At first, I reacted with admiration, and a dash of envy.  After a few years, it turned into cynicism.  "They'll outgrow that really quick," I'd think, "when they get a taste of real life."

It's like when the infatuation stage ends in a relationship.  The "newlywed syndrome," I've heard it called.  The love isn't gone (or one hopes it's not), it just isn't so encompassing.  It's a calmer thing; you don't think about it ALL THE TIME anymore.  You're now capable of having a real fight, getting angry, so angry you want to leave, but you don't because you love.

You're also capable of seeing the truth, not what your rose-colored mental filter showed you for a long while.  You're allowed to be frustrated, disappointed, but you work through these things because you love.

Love doesn't disappear.  Love isn't the butterflies and the hyper-awareness and the hinging of your life on the happiness of another person.  Love is a damned hard struggle, but worth it in the end.

Is this what loving God is, too?  Is this the natural progression a person goes through?  Or is there something more to it?  I feel like there should be, and that I don't have it.

That thought depresses and frustrates me.  But then I go on with my life, addressing the responsibilities given to me, and I forget my thirst for a little while, dull the ache that I know will come back in quieter moments, and make me wish I hadn't turned out the way I have.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Teenagers, part 1

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows my teen years were.. among the less savory years of my life.
Which is putting it mildly.
To this day, I still feel a certain apprehensiveness around anyone between 13 and 17, with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are either related to me in some way (blood or marriage), or I met them and got to know them one-on-one, without their cronies or fan club or whatever.

Sans the element that drives them to be perceived as socially superior, otherwise known as "being cool."

Teens are immature, capable of being endearing, predictable only in their fickleness, and TINY.

It's this tininess about which I feel compelled to rant.

As I walked home from the gym the other night, I happened to exit right behind a trio of teenagers just come from Subway (I could tell by the bag clearly marked "Subway").  One was a 6' or taller boy, very slender, wearing what teen boys wear these days, and two were girls.  One girl was short, petite, and brunette, wearing shorts.  The other was short, curvy, and blond, also wearing shorts.
I had the misfortune to be stuck walking at a slovenly pace behind these three for about half a mile, but during that time, I noted the brunette and the boy were obviously dating (made apparent by their holding hands, then linking arms, then wrapping arms around waists, and a kiss here or there).
While cute and romantic, this prospect grew to almost comical because her head barely came to his shoulder.
Which brings me to my rant.  When I was 15, I was the tallest girl in my class, weighed 180 pounds, had curves to knock out a race-car driver (had I known how to use them), AND I was intelligent, to boot.
But I suffered from low self esteem, a result in part from bullying, but also in part from comparing myself to all the freaking TINY girls in my class, and wondering what was wrong with me that I was so huge and heavy and fat.
Yes, boys and girls, I called myself fat.
I'll have you know that 180 pounds is perfectly AVERAGE for someone 6' tall and large-boned.
Did I know that at the time?  No.
Would I have cared?  No.
Because movies always depicted women as being skinny, thus skinny women got the attractive men, and since I wasn't skinny, I had a snowball's chance in hell of being pretty enough to "get the guy."
So not effing fair.

Then I started wondering about this little trio.  Was the brunette one of those bitchy, back-stabbing types?  How did her friend feel stuck with them being all mushy a few paces behind her?  Maybe she liked the guy first and her friend stole him.
Or maybe they were all decent sort of people (for teenagers) and I was reliving my nightmare at their expense.

Teendom: When unrealistic expectations are the only reality.

Thank God we all outgrow it, right?  Right?

As I Walked...

As I walked to the gym today, contemplating recent idiocies, I asked God, "I've been a believer for what, 24 years now?  I should be more sanctified than I am!  Why am I dealing with these same temptations?  They've been around for years - I should be used to them by now.  I should be able to dismiss them like a pesky fly."
Almost instantly, a reply came, "Yes, but even pesky flies must be constantly battled if you choose to sit in manure."

I had nothing to say to that.

Yet my silence acquiescence was not the end of the issue.  Last week, I was sick on Sunday so I couldn't go to church.  Thankfully, they posted the sermon on their FB page.

The topic?  Christian spiritual growth.
I took that as an indication tonight would be a good night to catch up, and I felt and impending sense of irony.

One of the points on spiritual growth, or sanctification, was, "Spiritual growth has nothing to do with time."
That caught my attention.
Pastor Bruce went further to say, "It is not measured by the calendar.  How do we know that?  Some of you have been born again for many, many years and you're still in diapers."

Both comforting and saddening, yes?

Pastor also addressed another point that applied/applies to me, "Spiritual growth is not related to knowledge, per se.  You can acquire Biblical information or Biblical theology and still be a baby.  Until that knowledge is applied and causes you to be more conformed to Christ, it is just head knowledge.  Now, we've met people with a lot of 'head knowledge' but no heart transformation, and (how many know) they become hardened to spiritual things because they think they've got it all figured out."

I definitely know I don't have it all figured out.  I wish I did, but, alas, I don't.  I do know how much of an idiot I was in my early and mid twenties, thinking all the things I learned growing up, regurgitated in the form of prayers, journals, papers, and philosophical "debates" were the equivalent of being godly.  I know I became hardened to spiritual things, even cast my faith aside for a time and developed some nasty habits.

Toward the end of the "Spiritual growth is not __" portion of his message, Pastor said, "John makes clear in our teaching today (listen carefully): There is room in the church for babies."  [Dramatic pause.]  "Both new babies, and chronic babies."  I could hear the congregation laugh.  "Some of us have been babies for thirty years, okay?  But (how many know) that's good news, that's the point of our teaching.  There is room for stages of growth."

But he also makes clear that growing up is necessary.

Growing up is rough.


For those interested, here's the whole sermon:

Monday, August 6, 2012


For the fun of it, here is a list of nicknames I've had in my lifetime - some are still in use by specific people, others have been collecting dust for years.

If I remember from where or whom it originated, I've notated it in parentheses.

  • Care Bear (only to Erin-my-Erin - junior high)
  • Linda-lou, or Linda (Juliana - high school, possibly earlier)
  • Rockstar (Rene? at Mt. Hermon Conference Center's Registrar office - Summer 2002)
  • Kitty (Mike, my hubby - circa 2005)
  • Fusa, which mutated to Moosa (Charlene - coworker)
  • The next Indiana Jones Hot German Chick, or Hot German Chick for short (Henry - coworker)
  • Actress-lady
  • Christmas (Matty - college)
  • Lady, as in, "Hey, lady."
  • Trinity (from "The Matrix," Leland being Neo and Donnell being Morpheus - high school)
  • Rhool (from "Willow", Jonathan Hall being Franjean - college)
  • Queen Amazonia (a coworker of Mike's at Bookman's - circa 2007)
  • C
  • Sephiroth (Leland - high school; very short-lived, as I didn't know the reference at the time)
  • Miss Carol (first time by Thad - college; random other persons since)
  • Red (college, but I don't remember who said it first.  Happens whenever I dye my hair)
  • Mr. Wilson (Em - former neighbor)
  • Sunshine (John "Big Daddy" - former coworker)
  • Trouble (Joe "Squirrel" - coworker)
  • Mistress (John Love - fellow thespian)
  • Batchick (because of a Batman shirt I own - high school)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Triple A Workout

The following is my weight training regime for my arms, abs, and ass, or Triple A.
I've added images for a few of the exercises.

Warm up: Walk for 10 min, which is a lap around my block.

For the following, increase reps as necessary.  Your muscles should be fatigued by the end of 3 sets.

  • Crunches: 3 sets, 30 reps. 
  • Torso Flex: 3 sets, 12-15 reps. 
  • Leg Lifts/Raises: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.  Do not confuse this with Side-Lying Leg Lifts.
  • Reverse Crunch: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.

The Reverse Crunch can be done with or without bracing oneself.  Here are pictures of each.

I have back issues, so I usually do the braced one on my bed (I have a fairly firm mattress) and hook my hands under the top mattress.
Oh, and if you do the unbraced version, don't follow the steps in the order shown in the pic.  The order should be B, A, C.

For the following, increase weight as necessary.  Your muscles should be fatigued by the end of 3 sets.

  • Flyes: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.  Focuses on chest.

  • Bicep curls: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.
  • Bent-over Tricep Extension: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.

  • Side Lateral Arm Raises: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.  Focuses on deltoids, or shoulders.
  • Overhead Presses: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.  Focuses on deltoids.
  • Standing Two-Hand Tricep Press: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.

  • Quadruped Hip Extensions: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.  Increase reps as necessary.  Be careful to not straighten your leg during lift, as you could pull a hamstring.  This is also called a Bent-Leg Raise on all fours.  This can be done with a free weight in the crook behind your knee, but I haven't attempted that yet.

In the picture, she's on her elbows and knees.  I do it hands and knees.

  • Standing Side Leg Lifts: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.  You might need a chair for balance.  This technically works the outer thigh, but the balancing leg gets a heck of a workout in the gluteus maximus.

Cool-Down: Always, always, ALWAYS stretch at the end!  I learned the hard way that my muscles punish me WAY more when I don't stretch at the end than when I do.