31.12.07

New Year's Resolutions


I came up with three resolutions for 2008.
1. Get into a regular exercise routine.
2. Create and stick to a budget.
3. Leave the country.
I decided to get to work right away. And I began with the last. 
For the past year I've really wanted to head to Europe. I've made lots of, uhh, wishes with friends about a European trip. I have lots of options. But here is the concrete thing. I want to go to France. I don't really care about any other country right now. So I began fulfilling my goal by looking up flights. 
I am on salary now so I can expect a certain amount of money. It's also real money, meaning I don't have to live paycheck to paycheck. I can save and invest and buy big ticket items. I want to have all my ducks in a row so I need help. I need a financial advisor. I did a bit of a search online. I think I am going to need more time to look into that. Anyone know anyone?
Lastly, exercise. My work offers a $3/month membership to the local rec center. I looked it up and it has some pretty awesome classes. Problem is the local rec center is local to work, not local to me... living in suburbia... with my mother. I like my mother but I need to grow up. And moving out will also help me to make the rec center local to me. And then maybe I would go there and do the classes. So, in order to get fit, I looked up some apartments.
So those are the resolutions. I am throwing them out there to the universe. 
Hey, Universe! I am throwing you some wishes!

28.12.07

Hair Dye Insights

I'm waiting for the timer to go off and announce that the hair dye has set in and I can shower. (Was that a run-on sentence or just a lot of conjunctions?) So I have time to think and a few things have occurred to me.
  • Flirting isn't really taking me to "the next level."
  • Some hair dye kind of stings. Or it makes me itch. I don't know what to call that.
  • We should all be more righteous. Not in a California sort of way, but spiritually and morally.
  • Good people are everywhere. 
  • Your soul and body both thrive on good nutrition. When you take in crap, you feel like crap. So stupid/amoral/inappropriate entertainment makes you feel stupid. Get my drift?
  • Jordan Bluth is the Mormon Josh Groban. 
  • Cook books don't make you a chef. But they do make for good reading.
  • Saying thank you ten times goes a long way.
  • People really do like to talk about themselves more than any other topic. We should indulge some people more often. It makes me feel like a winner.
  • It really doesn't make you feel better when people say, "You are so wonderful/pretty/smart/etc. that I can't understand why some guy doesn't just nab you up!" It makes you doubt men's intellect and then they are less attractive. 
  • My family's okay. 
  • Sometimes when you don't know what else to say you shouldn't think of something and hope it flies. 
  • Stories like And There Eyes Were Watching God and the Outsiders remind me that everyone has a story to tell and something to offer the world.
Hair's done baking. What insights have you gained?

23.12.07

The Nutcracker

 The Nutcracker ballet should only be undertaken by those artists whose talents assure perfection. Last year I attended at Nutcracker ballet performed at a large theatrical barn. It was awful. They added to pieces which were blasphemy in themselves -- an Irish dance piece and something that reminded me of a disco. There were many other awful things about last year's performance which caused me to feel betrayed, upset, and ripped off.

This year I returned to the Nutcracker company of my youth -- Utah Regional Ballet. The ballet begins with the party guests arriving. Among the pack is the ├╝ber-creepy Godfather Drosselmeyer. He gives Clara, our heroin, a Nutcracker (every little girl's dream) which her brother Fritz breaks a bit. I find Clara a bit over-dramatic. She runs to stage right and cries something fierce. Oh my entitled child! Finally everyone goes to bed and there's a crazy dream sequence where the Christmas trees grow! Mice, including the matron mouse with a pink bow, start a fight with the Nutcracker who has now come to life. At this point in the ballet I start to feel uncomfortable. True confessions, male ballet performers have the most awkward costumes of anyone on any stage. It takes a moment before I can forget about my discomfort. The Nutcracker defeats the Rat King and flies Clara to someplace where it's really snowy. Then there is kind of a boring dance with snowflakes. My mom really digs this part but for me the second act is the best. After the intermission taken to sweep the snow off the stage, Clara finds herself in the land of the Sugar Plum fairy. She sits in audience as the coolest dances are performed to the coolest music. The Spanish and English dances are short but full or energy and momentum. The music constantly drives the ballerina at a fast pace around the stage. The Oriental and Russian dances are full of quirky and energy and each one is a prize. But my favorite is Madame Ginger. Always played by a man, this huge woman produces tiny girls from her skirts. How awesome is that! Everyone loves the dance of the sugar plum fairy and the Corps de Ballet and Grand pas de Deux.

Every year I yearn to be a ballerina. They are true athletes and make something absolute gorgeous to behold. Nothing makes me feel more like Christmas than a good Nutcracker ballet.

12.12.07

Pushing Daisies


So my appointment canceled on me and I had a couple hours to kill before the next one. I was at home and flipping channels and came upon the coolest thing ever. ABC's Pushing Daisies is a new show about a man who can bring the dead back to life with a touch and with another touch they are dead forever. He teams up with a detective to solve the mysteries of the people's deaths. And he brings to life his childhood crush, whom he calls Chuck, and there is still love there, but they can't touch each other or else she will drop dead forever.
It isn't creepy like CSI or anything. In fact, it's really witty and clever, and watching it feels and looks a little bit like watching "A Series of Unfortunate Events." The set decoration is gorgeous and the characters are quirky.
Granted I've seen a whole half-hour of the show, but what I saw was really impressive. And if what I've said so far isn't enough, the has a neat narrator and costars Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked!). Check out this clip and let me know what you think.

5.12.07

Bite me!


I was sitting in supervision. That's a once a week occurrence with my supervisor which amounts to therapy. I was telling him that I wanted to put one of my kids on a special program to help him stop biting the skin around his nails, an  unhealthy coping skill for an extremely anxious kid . Long story short, it's not bothering the kid; it's just bothering me. I left supervision feeling anxious. And then I was anxious all week long. I'm still feeling anxious. It's like my supervisor brought something to the surface, something that was doing very well buried deep, deep in my soul.
Truth?
Truth is I don't know if I am doing a very good job. I don't think I've hurt anyone. But I take it personally when a kid doesn't improve.  I'm not confident enough about my own abilities to blame a lack of progress on the kid. So my kid's biting issue had less to do with him and more to do with me. I see it as a lack of progress; he's still anxious, and that means I'm not a very good therapist. Logically, I see the thinking error; in my heart --  or rather in my stomach -- I don't. I still get uptight when my kids don't improve. 
What crazy beliefs do you have about other people that have nothing to do with them?

29.11.07

Fasting


I fasted for 24 hours the first time when I was 14. Now I do it monthly for purely spiritual reasons. I receive spiritual strength and blessings when I fast. I donate the money that would have been spent on food to those who need financial help. I like the way I feel when I fast. Well, I don't like the hunger pangs. I do like the feeling of self-control and thoughts of I-can-do-hard-things. Every month I am reminded that food should be a pleasurable event, not a stuff-it-in-the-face-'cause-it's-there habit. I promptly forget the reminder but, as the saying goes, "It's the thought that counts" ... or was it, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Well, it's coming up to the time I fast and this month I have another reason to fast. I was listening to NPR and heard a great report on the health benefits of fasting. It can reduce cravings for sugar (not enough for me), reduce disease including cancer, can protect against brain problems like Alzheimer's, and even extend life. You know how yoga or, dare I say it, exercise can make you feel really great? Well, I think (and science agrees with me) that fasting can do the same thing for you. 

27.11.07

Women's Suffrage



Heaven help us.

Check out this video.

25.11.07

The Role of Women


I was speaking with a good friend a few days ago. She is my age, the mother of two, and living far from home while her husband goes to school. I am my age (obviously), a graduate with a master's degree, and building a career. She lives her dream -- motherhood -- and I live the dream I just realized I had. My job is really great. I love it. I get to work with teen boys (which, I realize, is not a universal dream) and their families to help them all be happier, "well adjusted," interdependent, insert other therapuetic words here. Every night since I graduated I thank God for how well my life is going, ups and downs and all, because it really rocks.

My friend and I began discussing the recent General Conference from a few months back and about Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society president, and her talk entitled "Mother's Who Know." There was quite a hoop-lah (technical term) over this talk. Maybe some of the controversial statements were: "Mothers who know desire to bear children." "Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world." Or "They [mothers who know] do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most." I guess some folks weren't thrilled with the idea of women's greatest achievements happening at a home.

I told my friend that I had reread the talk and couldn't find anything to be all up in arms about. "And anyway," I told her, " if I didn't agree with something, I would just shut up and work through it because she isn't giving out her own agenda." But some folks (apparently on the Deseret Book website somewhere) thought it right to throw a fit. Then my friend asked me a very interesting question. Interesting because this friend knows me. She knows that as a kid I never said I wanted to be a mom, let alone a stay-at-home mom. She asked me, "If you were married right now with kids would you be working?" The answer came easily. "No."

Society, or Satan -- same difference, has fed women a message, propaganda that says this "Homemaking is below you. Homemaking is for stupid people. Homemaking is a waste of a college education. Homemaking is monotonous (this could turn out to be slightly valid)." Saying you are a homemaker is on the same level as "You throw like a girl." Well, are you implying that there is something wrong with throwing like a girl? Homemaker is now almost a degrading phrase. And that's the false message.

The more I work with families the more I am convinced of parents' role in their children's success. I am not a parent but I give a lot of advice and model discipline techniques. The kids I work with could be tomorrow's inmates and a lot of it is due to faulty parenting (by really well-meaning parents) and some genetic oddities. My education and career (regardless of area of expertise) are building my ability to be a great mom. Education only enhances homemaking ability. In fact, children in developing countries are far more like to reach adulthood and themselves be educated if their mother (nothing to do with dad) was literate.

I didn't always have "mom" at the top of the what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up list, but it's there now. I know the term homemaking has been tampered with and I can see it for what it really is. My right. My calling. My purpose.

23.11.07

Humanitarian


Sometimes I choose to forget about starving people in Africa, and Asia, and even in South Provo. I mean, I really don't feel the effects. They are entirely forgettable. And except for international communications, I would be ignorant to their plights. But I do try to help "causes" whenever I can because it's right, and because it is entirely possible that someday I may be a "cause." So I buy pink for Breast Cancer, I bought the disabled Haitian orphans' Christmas cards, I donated some cans of food, etc. And today I tested my knowledge for charity. At freerice.com, you find synonyms to words. And for every word you get right the site will donate 10 grains of rice. I don't know how many grains make up a bowl. In five minutes I had 400 grains of rice. I wanted to keep going -- "just one more word" -- but I knew I needed to write this blog and get on with my life. But I am going to go to the website when I have time to kill and kill hunger in my free time. And while simultaneously saving the world -- ten grains of rice at a time -- I am proving my intelligence to myself.

15.11.07

Umm... Can we talk?


Dearest John,
Hi! How are you? Well, I know how you are because I've read your letters, of course, although you seemed worried about me. John, lots of people go months without speaking. Divorced people, for instance. Bad example. Also, friends from high school. But that doesn't mean they don't care about each other.
Well, let me give you a little update.
Still working at the Malt Shop. Play "Piano Man" one more time on the juke and I'm going throw a table at someone. They don't play our song so much. You remember, "I Saw the Sign" by Ace of Base. Good beat. Don't understand why they don't choose it. Remember that one time that we danced to it in the parking lot? That was sweet.
So, family's good. Friends good.
Passed French. Wow, didn't see that one coming. I know you say that it's not that hard but let's remember that one of us is "immersed" and the other has better things to do. Better things to do that studying, I mean. I don't think I'll take another semester of it. I'm pretty busy with my major classes. I'm taking, like, 9 credits and it's killer. I know you think I'm dumb but you try keeping up with ward stuff and tutoring and work and roommates and stuff. You just don't understand busy, Sweetie. I mean, you do one thing all day. Not that I'm downing you, but, hon, one thing.
Anyway, so let me tell you how the miracle of the French class occurred because it's actually kind of a big deal. Julie, you know Julie. She's Beth's friend. And Beth, she's the one that we sometime saw when we went to parties at Kevin's. Wow, Kevin. He's such a loser. But anyway, I ran into Julie at, like, someplace, I don't remember but I think there were Mexico things around, and I told her how hard French was and she totally sympathizes. Then she told me that her brother's roommate was French or Belgian or something near the French African colonies and she said I should get him to tutor me. Well, I talked Mom and Dad into paying for it and Louie (sp?), the roommate, became my tutor. And I got away with like a C or D, don't remember, same diff. And, I have to say he went far beyond the call of duty because he taught me stuff that wasn't even on the test. Like culture. And we ate out a lot and watched French movies -- with subtitles because he wasn't that good of a tutor. So Louie is so fun to be around and we just hang out all the time, even though the class is over. No worries, we can still be tight when you come home. Anyway, so Louie asked me to marry him. I know. Shocker. But I was thinking about it and I think it's a really good deal. So, I just wanted to say that it's a bummer that you and I aren't going to work out, but like when you get home and get married then we can do couples things together. I haven't listened to "I Saw the Sign" with Louie yet because I wanted to wait until you got home and we can listen to it all together. Honestly, I haven't even told Louie about it.
Anyway, gotta jet. Keep up the good work. Like, you come home in not that long so like I'm not going to write again but I'll just plan to see you at the reception or something. Like in the parking lot... you know, to listen to the song.

Au Revoir,

Jane

10.11.07

Juno


I was in the theatre seeing Elizabeth: The Golden Age (intense, violent, and thought provoking) and saw a preview for a new movie called Juno. Juno is the story of a young girl who finds herself pregnant and about her baby's adoption. And Juno is one rye character. Rye. You may find the movie irreverent. I think it will be. But not in a mocking sort of way. It will be irreverent in a surreally (not a word) true way. Here are a few lines (or watch it here) from the movie:

-- Juno: "You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirtguns and shoot them out at sporting events."

--Vanessa: "Your parents are probably wondering where you are."
--Juno: "Nah... I mean I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"

I think this movie will be unique for two reasons. First, it shows that sex has consequences. Second, it shows that there is yet another option besides parenting or abortion. OK, so I have an opinion about unplanned pregnancies. I know that there are a lot of opinions of this topic. My personal belief is that every baby is supposed to be in a certain family but that doesn't mean that the family has to be the biological one. I believe that some babies come to families... creatively. And that means that some bio-parents have the chance to serve a family in a way that no one else can.

I have a friend who works at an adoption agency. I am used to saying "giving up a baby" but she always says, "placing a baby for adoption." I like that. I think that being the bio-parent and placing a baby for adoption is heroic, courageous, and loving.

Check out the trailer here and then check out some clips from the movie when they pop up after the trailer.

7.11.07

Messed up


I was listening to him complain about his brother. His brother is failing all classes, running away from home, hanging out with the only peer groups that will accept him (kids who do drugs and kick it in the gang), and is in therapy. And I'm thinking, "Maybe your brother is trying to tell you something."
Then I hear about his personal high school drama and I'm thinking, "Wow, you are naive." I was that kind of high schooler. Aloof and unaware of the world despite outside trials. And that's good. Doing stupid things has the biproducts of regret, and hurt, and trouble.
But I have to say that there is no school master like the school of hard knocks and in a way it's the best education money can't buy.
I learn new things everyday at work. I'm not talking just growing experiences. I mean, I am learning what I never learned in high school. These kids have done it all. And they've suffered consequences. And, oddly, they are better for it. Treatment forces emotional maturity and guides and intense understanding of self. You are forced to question your thought processes, your actions, your emotions, and then forced to do something new. The "good" teenager never learns that.
So, like how the bone heals stronger after a break, I feel that kids who heal after a really stupid adolesence came out ahead of their peers.

20.10.07

The Alchemist


This summer I discovered the public library. It is a much more economical way of reading. And I am doing a lot of driving so I check out a lot of books-on-tape. I'd seen The Alchemist in stores and heard about what a best seller it was, but I read the back of the book and I wasn't very interested. But the public library didn't seem to have anything better on tape or CD so I checked out The Alchemist -- a short read at only four and a half hours.

About three hours into the book-on-tape I went to Borders and bought a copy for me and a copy for a friend.

This is an amazing book.

It is the story of Santiago, a Spanish shepherd, who has a recurring dream about the Pyramids in Egypt. A gypsy tells him that he will find his treasure at the Pyramids. Then Melchizedek (yes, that Melchizedek) shows up and tells the boy that the treasure at the Pyramids is his personal legend. A personal legend is "what you've always wanted to do," or your mission in life. There are three rules/truths when going after you personal legend; one, don't give up; two, follow the omens; three, follow your heart.

I took this book personally. I want to travel and I guess I am still in the planning stages and finally getting money to do it. And I'm not just talking little trips, though that is also involved. I'm talking moving far away or (hopefully) getting a Fulbright Grant to spend a year in Europe or working for an NGO. And maybe it won't happen next year or in five years or even ten, but it is someting I'd really like to do. And I've noticed that there are two types of people in my life: those who don't think it's a very good idea and those who encourage me and wonder why I haven't gone anywhere yet. When I speak with the first type of person, I begin to think, "Yeah, it's not very practical," because it's not. But this book is like the second type of person. This book tells me that I should do what I've always wanted to do and that "people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they've always dreamed of."

I think I'm in the "crystal shop" point in my life (read the book and you'll know what I mean).

This book is full of quotable little proverbs and truths. It has encouraged me to be a little more spiritual. And it's made me think more about my personal legend.

A Separate Peace


I'm the kind of kid who always wanted to go to boarding school and be mischevious. This book is about as close as I ever got to fulfilling that dream. It takes place at a boy's preparatory school in New England in the early 1940s. Narrated by Gene Forester, a sort of Nick Carroway type but with passion, it tells the story of Phineas, a charismatic, good-hearted athlete who turns Gene's education into the sort of memory one looks back on with longing and maybe a tear. Phineas makes up new sports, denies the existence of WWII, breaks school records secretly just for the fun of it, and smooth-talks adults and peers alike. He sort of lives in his own reality. it is not a coming-of-age story, but more a character description. One day Phineas and Gene are jumping out a tree into a lake and Gene basically causes Phineas to fall, ending in a majorly broken leg. The central micro-conflict is Gene's guilt over deliberately hurting his best friend (who is thus unable to do sports or go to war) all the while Phineas is denying any wrong doing. Phineas is sort of too good for this world. Parelling the psychic conflict within Gene is WWII. I think one message of this book is about finding inner-peace in a world of conflict.

I read this book in high school and adored it. I think I adored it more the second time around. The prose of the book is thoughtful and full of simile. The characters, despite their micheviousness, are good at heart. It is thoughtful, interesting, and important.

19.10.07

Select a Candidate


It is the first time that I am going to take the time to vote. Maybe it's a lame excuse but I haven't voted yet because I didn't feel like I knew anything about the issues. This time around I am attempting to learn so I can make a decision that I really agree with. I heard about a little quiz online from Minnesota's public radio station. It asks you questions and then says which candidates you most agree with and it also takes into account how important the issue is to you. The first go around, my highest "agreement score" (I don't know what the scale was) was a three-way 18.0 in agreement score with Hilary Clinton, Chris Dodd (who is that?), and John Edwards. Obama didn't show up for a while until I got to the 15.0 rankings which I thought was interesting. Even more interesting was my agreement with Mit Romney --- way down on the list at, like, 8.0. I felt like I went through 20 candidates before I matched up with him. I took the quiz a second time and came out with slightly different results, I think because I changed how important the various issues were to me. It came out with just one top winner, John Edwards, with 19.0 agreement, For the issues that are really important John and I (like we're friends) differ only on the issue of a definition of marriage. Our positions on Iraq, Iran, SCHIP, energy, immigration, and health care are compatible. Hilary fell to number three with 17.0 and Obama fell to 14.0. Old Mit got a little better with 9.0. The person I am least likely to vote for: John McCain (he score only 1.0). Guess I am not a republican. Must be a democrat. I've said it. I'm out. You can try the quiz out at here. Have fun!

13.10.07

Their Eyes Were Watching God


Janie is a black woman living in Florida in the early 20th century. The book is a flashback of Janie's life and divided into three sections based on three different men. Janie first marriage at age 17 is not based on love and ends quickly as Janie learns that love is impossible with some people. She falls in love with and runs off with Joe Starks to Eatonville Florida, America's first all-black city. Joe is the mayor and expects his wife to act in a certain way, disallowing many opportunities to Janie. After Joe dies, Janie marries Tea Cake and now that is a love story! Tea Cake allows and even demands that Janie develope into her best self. In a way it reminds me of what Marjorie Hinckley said to her husband, "You have given me wings and I have loved you for it." It would seem that often folks are called to sacrifice what they love most in order to care for it most, and this happens in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
The flow of the book reminded me a lot of The Outsiders. In both books the narrator walks the reader through small anecdote after small anecdote, without necessarily leading to a specific outcome or to overcome a specific challenge (as in, say, the Harry Potter books). And, in both books, one event climaxes the whole things. For The Outsiders it is the fire in the church and for Their Eyes Were Watching God it is the hurricane. In both books, these climaxes lead to the conclusion of the book that is poignant and meaningful because of all the anecdotal character descriptions filling the greater part of the book.
I listened to the book on tape which I would recommend for this book especially. The author writes the dialect phonetically and that can be difficult to read. If you listen to the story on tape, you don't have to decifer the conversation.
Despite the title, the book is not centered on something religious. It is a woman's story and a story about love without being a love story. One watchs Janie's personal development as well as her gradual growth with interpersonal relationships.
Oprah recently made this book into a movie starring Halle Berry. I'm excited to get it from the library and partake. I would recommend this book to folks who enjoy classic literature, can hold on to a story full of anecdotes, and those interested in watching relationships.

12.10.07

The Office


Would I rather be loved or feared? That's easy -- both. I want people to fear how much they love me.

Casual Fridays


It was my first Friday on the job. I wore a skirt and boots because that it what I wanted to wear. I was told by my supervisor and the therapist whose caseload I am taking that "Fridays are casual."
Casual.
Because somehow Fridays don't count.
People don't judge on Fridays.
Respect is not garnered on Fridays.
Fridays we show the personality we hide the rest of the week.
Nothing important happens on Friday.
I actually think these two were saying, "Wear jeans."
Jeans are a misunderstood article of clothing. Traditionally work attire, the jean is now staple of most wardrobes but the stylistically misinformed relegate all demin articles to "casual wear." Are you going to tell someone in jeans and heels that they are underdressed?
Paradoxically, khaki anything is ok when it shouldn't be. No one should ever wear a carpeter pant in any situation, but lets say I went into a dissociative fugue and wore it. Now, if it were khaki I don't think anyone would think twice about it. But if it were demin it is no-no. This is a gross fashion injustice.
I dress how I would like my own therapist to dress. If she can't put herself together, how is she going to put me together? I dress well because impressions and gaining respect never take a day off. I don't dress well Monday through Thursday because the company says to in vague terms. No. I dress well all days of the week because it's who I am. I'm not a slob in cognito until Friday, but a professional who can find herself in a well-dressed world.

8.10.07

Jane Austen


I was in Border's bookstore and found a display of all things Austen, minus anything Jane Austen actually wrote. There were three or four different authors who had published "fan fiction" detailing the aftermath of Pride and Prejudice. There is the Jane Austen Book Club movie coming out, Becoming Jane (which I liked), and Kiera Knightly's attempt at Elizabeth Bennett. Austen is very "in" right now.
I'd like to state that I knew Jane Austen when. I knew her before all these people figured out what a genius she is.
Another point worthy of note, Jane Austen wrote some very good books that aren't Pride and Prejudice. In fact, my favorite Austen books are the darker ones -- Mansfield Park and Persuasion. (Ok, Persuasion isn't dark but it is decidely different from the others because Anne is older and the lovers are already in love.) My favorite Austen movie is Sense and Sensibility.
Most Austen fans in my acquaintance realize she wrote other books. I want to compare the characters of the books.
The heroin seems to be mostly observers, calm, and rational; the only exception is Emma Woodhouse -- she is the anti-observer, much to everyone's annoyance. Anne Elliot, Fanny Price, Elinor Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, Catherine Morland are the most likeable characters and always the heroins.
Quirky, annoying characters are a must also. Sometimes they are comic relief and sometimes comedy relieves us from the characters. These characters are what critics are referring to when they say that Austen was able to realistically portray famly life. Although (and hopefully) exaggerated, we all know someone or multiple someones who are like the oddball Austen characters. From Sense and Sensibility, you have the meddling mother-in-law Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Palmer (Mrs. Jennings' daughter whose own husband can't stand her); from Mansfield Park we are acquainted with Lady Betram who is incredibly naive, drugged, and oblivious, Mr. Rushworth for whom we feel very sorry but we are glad he has his landscaping; in Emma and apart from Emma herself, we laugh at Mr. Woodhouse's hypochodria, Mr. Elton's awkward attempts at courting, Mrs Elton's offensive assumption of her belongingness, Miss Bates' perfectly and endearingly annoying everything; in Pride and Prejudice one thinks first and foremost about Mrs. Bennett, then goes from there to Mr. Collins, and even Mary Bennett's piety; Persuasion introduces us to Anne's sister Mary Musgrove (played by Emma's Miss Bates ... who in real life in Emma Thompson's sister ... and Emma played Elinor in Sense and Sensibility... seven degrees of Kevin Bacon anyone?), Sir Walter Elliot is so annoying and offensive that he is very disagreeable; and lastly from Northanger Abbey we have Isabella Thorpe (also very whiney and self-centered), John Thorpe who can be catergorized with Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins although not clergy and General Tilney for making a fool of himself in the mix-up that is the book.
Every herion needs a second. This is someone who is sympathetic and also reasonable. From Northanger Abbey it is Eleanor Tilney; in Pride and Prejudice you can pick between Charlotte Lucas and Jane Bennet; For Emma it is Miss Smith, or perhaps it is Emma who seconds Miss Smith, or more likely it is Mrs. Weston, who is more reasonable than Emma herself; for Mansfield Park you have Fanny's correspondence with her sister Susan and perhaps even the hero, Edmund; For Persuasion it could be Lady Russell but is more like Mrs. Smith or one of the Musgroves if not Mr. Musgrove; In Sense and Sensibility Elinor needs Marianne (who could be a heroin herself but I indentify with Elinor and therefore she is the heroin).
What about the villains! Austen usually makes all the charismatic and likeable characters the villains by the end. Watch: In Pride and Prejudice we are decieved by Wickham, but we are equally irate due to the antics of Lydia and the Bingley sisters or even Catherine De Bourgh; Sense and Sensibility has the tricky Willoughby and the evil Mrs. John Dashwood (and her husband and even brother); Persuasion's villains are cousin Mr. Elliot (again, not what he seems at first), and perhaps Anne's family and even Lady Russell ... at least ten years before the book begins; Emma's villains are subtler -- Frank Churchill, even Jane Fairfax, maybe Mrs. Elton, and at one point (from Emma's perspective) Miss Smith; Mansfield Park gives us Mariah Betram, and Mr. and Miss Crawford and even Lord Betram for his crimes in the West Indies; In Northanger Abbey, General Tilney, although he is not pure evil just mistaken.
We cannot forget the heros, the love-interests, because they make ever Austen novel worth reading. Like the villains, the heros are often not what they appear. And they are somehow unobtainable: Darcy is too proud, Wentworth has changed his mind, Ferrars is engaged, Edmund is too high and mightly in his family's eyes, Brandon is too old and boring, and Knightley is uninterested and too much like a brother, Tilney is uninterested. Mr. Darcy (let's begin with the most popular) is apparently arrogant but in the end he is generous and self-sacrificing; Edward Ferrars is engaged to that twit Lucy Steele -- but shows us his integrity and sense of duty, yet Elinor wins out in the end; and if you think that Marianne is a hero, then Colonel Brandon is quiet and yet so true and kind that any woman would want him (all Harry Potter images aside); Mr. Tilney, like Edmund Betram, is a lowly clergyman who seems unreachable but is obtained in the end; can I say enough about Edmund Betram? Forget that he and Fanny are kissing cousins and remember the line, "I've loved you as a man loves a woman. As a hero loves a heroine. As I have never loved anyone;" who can forget Captain Wentworth's letter of constancy?; and Mr Knightley goes from best friend to husband when Emma thought there was no chance whatsoever.
What other characters from Austen do you love or love to hate?

26.9.07

Kid Nation


I love watching the Biggest Loser because I feel really inspired by it. I am inspired by another new show. Today I caught the first episode of a highly controversial CBS show called Kid Nation. The premise is a lot like Lord of the Flies. CBS sends 40 kids, ages 8 to 15, to a ghost town and watches what happens in 40 days. The idea is to see what kids would do without adults.
I think I may need to watch another episode.
Kids are amazing. I think they are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Kids actually help other kids -- and even cheer for the other team. At times when I, the adult, would have swooped down and saved the day, some eight year-old fixes the issue like nobody's business. CBS chose kids from all walks of life which proves essential when it comes to milking goats and cooking. One part I really enjoyed is from Day One when all the kids are arguing and shouting and bullying (watch it here) and can't seem to figure out what to do. Then one kid, Michael, steps up and gives a speech about how everyone needs to work together. All the other kids begin clapping and Michael stands there with a huge grin on his face. It was like the end of some kid's show about a sports team and the hero somehow defeated all his demons. The kids are really inspiring.
Also interesting... Sophia decides she needs money.
Well, it's not exactly Lord of the Flies. The Host of the show, a real adult, gives instructions and CBS is able to set up a caste system of sorts and give challenges (think Survivor Immunity Challenge). And every so often some one wins $20,000. What I really didn't like was all the network interference. They claim that they are letting the children run amok but they aren't. It's controlled. They set up the system so that we can see good ol' human nature play out. And it does. The moment CBS divides the kids into "us" and "them," crime -- vandalism to be exact -- appears. I guess it could all be a study on human nature.
Now people are saying that it's not good for the kids. After watching one episode I am hardly an expert, however I think this show isn't any more dangerous --emotionally, physically, or otherwise -- than summer camp. The kids aren't unsupervised. Hello? Are the camera people kids too? The kids cry, critics say. And they never cry at home? Life is pain sometimes.
Some people say that it will make parents and children believe that parenting is obsolete. That's poppycock. Kids are kids and they are programmed to need parents and the kids know they need parents. I hope nobody I know is stupid enough to fall for this argument.
If anything the show empowers the kids because they find out how much they can do.

22.9.07

No drug references


I went to dinner at the Olive Garden with my friends Kathy and Ryan*. We went in to see about the wait. Thirty-five minutes. OK, "The name is Haughtty. H-A-U-G-H-T-T-Y." Last time I gave that last name I hadn't thought through how to spell it and it became a bit absurb. Haughttie. Besides, keeping composure for that long is also difficult. It's odd that the hostess never thinks twice about it. It reminds me of my brother's wedding when my other brother and I got bored and began introducing ourselves as famous people. "Hi, I'm Gwen Stefani." "I'm Gavin Rossdale." How nice the people answered. Back to the original story... So we got one of those buzzer things about which I was disappointed because with a name like Haughtty you want them to call it out. At last we were summoned. Kathy holds up the buzzer, "We're buzzed." And we'd like more.
*In order to upold the integrity of this article, these are their real names. These two aren't innocent.

13.9.07

Balconies

I noticed that at BYU they put the humanities department in that one new building and if you go up there you can go out on a sort of balcony. They have things like this is China, one classmate of mine (who was Chinese, from China, therefore a reliable source) told me. I think people use these balconies to aid their suicides (although, it must be stated, that this is not why they have these balconies). At first I thought that it was good that the math or pre-med departments weren't there because people might be tempted to jump. But then I thought about the plight of those humanities majors. I mean, what do humanities majors become? Humans?

10.9.07

Best Musicals of All Time -- Off the Top of My Head

Wicked
Les Miserables
Hairspray
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Music Man
Sound of Music
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Annie

What would you add?

I'm the kind of kid who...


I had a professor teach me this idea. A kid and his mom are having a dinner of mixed potatoes and peas. The kid looks at his mom and says, "Hey, Mom, I'm the kind of kid who doesn't like his peas and potatoes mixed." The mom says, "Cool, then go grab yourself some separated peas and potatoes." The point of the story, my professor said, is that a kid so treated (within reason) will be able to respond better to peer pressure because he knows who he is. "Hey, you know, I'm the kind of kid who doesn't smoke pot."
In speaking with the Queen on this topic, we decided it was tops. One can better confront life when one knows oneself. Leopold Mozart told young Wolfgang that one should first know oneself and then know others. When I feel grounded, I can address life on my terms and live it my unique way. When I am not sure what my own ideals and values are, then I feel chaotic. And I'm not even talking about deep moral issues, but rather those beliefs and values which make me different from other people on the planet -- eg. not liking peas and potatoes to touch. It's the basic issue in Run-Away Bride.
We don't have to apologize for our quirks. It makes us cool and worthwhile. We can be "the kind of kid" that we choose without putting anyone else down, or even needing to be right. Because I enjoy musicals to no end, doesn't mean that those who don't get a kick out of synchronized singing and dancing are right, wrong, good, or bad. I sometimes have this thinking error that says, "Hey, if you are different from everyone else, don't mention it too much -- it might make them feel bad." Stupid! When you are "for" something it doesn't have to mean that you are "against" something else. As the Queen said, there are 31 flavors and all 31 make a Baskin Robbins.
I'm the kind of kid who stays up late watching youtube.
I'm the kind of kid who watches Disney Channel and really digs it.
I'm the kind of kid who thinks health care should be a basic human right.
I'm the kind of kid who thinks Macs are the way to go.
I'm the kind of kid who gets paper bags, not plastic if she needs a bag at all.
I'm the kind of kid who wants to be a movie star when she grows up.
I'm the kind of kid who thinks we should all be civil and pleasant to each other.
I'm the kind of kid who likes getting dressed-up for things.
I'm the kind of kid who likes nature in gardens -- arranged.
I'm the kind of kid who believes in shaving.
I'm the kind of kid who only buys clothes on sale.
I'm the kind of kid who is still trying to figure out what to do with her hair.

What kind of kid are you?

5.9.07

Hillary Clinton


So I love the Ellen show. She makes me laugh. I dig her mucho. Yesterday she had on Hillary Clinton. Now, I know that I am supposed to be Republican because in my family and in the state that's the norm. I'm not coming out and saying that I am a democrat, but I tend to like democratic candidates better. And a candidate is always more agreeable than whoever is in the White House somehow.
Anyway, so Hillary was on Ellen and I really liked her. She was really personable and real and funny. Ellen asked her about civil unions and gay marriages and I liked Hillary's answer. As far as eternal perspective goes (and that's pretty eternal) I think that homosexuality is not in line with God's plan for his children. I also believe in letting folks do what they feel is good for them (within reason and one could debate if homosexually hurts people ... but I would say that in the short term it's pretty tame). Hillary supports civil unions for the same reason I do -- money. If heterosexuals who live together (and are not married) get money and benefits when one dies, then I think homosexuals in similar circumstances should also get the money. And then Hillary said that gay marriages should be left up to the states. I had never thought about her logic but it really makes sense. The states determine everything else about marriages (age of marriage, etc.) so why not this? This way, we only have pockets of this throughout the country.
Then Ellen and Hillary took off to a diner. Hillary is affable and clever and expresses herself well. And Ellen is entertaining.
I have another friend who thinks that Hillary is the root of all evil. Don't really understand my friend's reasons because I don't think she ever gave me any. After watching this from Ellen, what do you think?

2.9.07

Got everything figured out?

So it was the first Sunday in my Single's Ward here. There was this man who was very self-assured and he spoke to me after I had made a comment in class. I had said that I was thankful for the prophet because I don't always know what is going on and it is nice to know that someone knows what's doing on. I can always trust the prophet and I don't have to sort out truth from error. I think he was trying to get a deep conversation going with me so he asked about it. He asked if I really didn't know how my life was going to turn out. I said no. I don't know. I asked him if he knew what his life was going to be like. He said he had everything planned out until he was 75. I wished him luck with that and somehow moved on. I thought about it for a little while and realized that it is way lame to know how everything is going to end up. Where is the fun in living predictably? It takes the wonder out of life. It also provides no room for faith. Why would I need God if I knew everything? And that's the purpose of life -- to come closer to God -- and if you don't ever interact with Him, you'll never become acquainted will Him. Also, it is extrememly unpractical. John Lennon said that life is what happens when you are busy making plans. This poor fool is going to get a very rude awakening one day when he learns that he is not as in control as he believes. Thoughts?

30.8.07

Passed

To practice social work you have to have a license. I spent $175 for the "oppurtunity" to take the LCSW licensure exam and I passed! Go me! Now I can get a job and be a real social worker!

29.8.07

Josh Groban Awake Tour 2007


The night started out with me getting really really really angry with someone. That aside, I walked into the suite at the Energy Solutions arena determined to put it from my mind and to really enjoy this concert, months in the making. I got some food and found a place to sit next to one of my sister's "adult" friends, as we were the only two people without an other-half. Luckily she turned out to be a riot (the rest of the people couldn't/didn't sing along at all, they didn't yell ... they acted a bit snooty although the probably aren't at all ... hopefully) and I was able to have a ball with her.
The night began with Angelique Kidjo, a four-time Grammy nominee from Benin, West Africa. The girl's got moves! She's got energy! I felt my anger draining, replaced by good energy. Last night was really a witness the there are two energies in the world and a Josh Groban concert is good energy. Angelique taught Josh to dance. Even though Angelique was amazing and I loved it, after ever song I was ready for Josh to appear.

After waiting for the stage to be cleared and the tension to build, Josh opened with "You are Loved." The concert was being filmed for the Awake Tour DVD so I think they went all out to make the concert great. He had great energy (running all around the stage), an all-time low of pathetic jokes, and really got involved with the audience. He sang most of the songs from the album. For the song "In Her Eyes" he appeared in the audience and came down the stairs and made his way to the stage. He wore a white shirt and descending with people struggling to touch him. It was a little like Book of Mormon scene which was an interesting thought, to say the least. My favorite part was when he sang the song "Weeping" because it's just my favorite -- great message. The song that I'd-heard-often-but-never-really-understood was "Lullaby." I realized that the song is a response to his visit to South Africa and his way of kind of comforting the suffering.
Lucia Micarelli, a violinist touring with Josh for the second time, was the rocking-est part of the show. Last concert she played a intense medley of Queen songs. For this concert, an amazing, indescribable tribute to Led Zepplin's Kashmir. She played so quickly and when it all went electric it was intense lightning-storm-and -bliss combo. Check it out here -- it takes about 2:30 minutes before it really rocks but it is beyond cool.
I am so glad the concert is forever recording on cell phones from youtube and will be available on DVD soon.

28.8.07

Also

Also, I need to get to South Africa at some point. Maybe some other African countries also like Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana. I know what you are thinking. I realize that Morocco and Egypt are in Africa but in those two countries it is totally different than South Africa.

Also, I think I like the name Lucia. Can't decide, however, how I would like to pronounce it. I tried out nicknames with both and I decided nicknames don't work for this name. So, should I say Loo-sha or Loo-chee-ah. Loo-sha is more American but Loo-chee-ah is kinda cooler. She will not go by Lucy or Luce. That's stupid.

Kick the Bucket


I was listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation which was today discussing Life Lists. The impetus for the show was Sunday's New York Times article Ten Things to Do Before This Article is Finished by Alex Williams. NPR's host, Neil Conan, and his guests discussed the personal meaning of making life lists, about what happens when goals aren't achieved, and about the importance of making lists.

They also talked about a new movie starring Jack Nicholson (ehh, not my favorite) and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. It is about two terminally ill cancer patients who make a list of things to do before they "kick the bucket." The apparently flee the hospital and are soon found walking the great wall of China, skydiving, and various other shenanigans. Sounds like a really feel good movie with a big cry at the end (someone is going to end up dead).

And it all got me to thinking.

Russel M. Nelson said something to the effect of "If you don't have goals, you are going to be an old fart in a rockin' chair who suddenly realize he has done nothing with his life." I don't think Elder Nelson says words like fart, at least over the pulpit, but you get the idea.

I have a list. Three items: build a hut, install water into said hut, and lobby for a major bill on poverty. But I wanted to add a few things and work through them publicly -- or online.

First new item. Learn French. Why French? Because I want to so don't talk to me about how Spanish is the way to go. Dreams are not about practicality all the time but about what you really want. I got a work book and some tapes at the library so I've already begun this goal. Yeah me!

Adopt. A child, not a pet. Actually I'd really like to adopt multiple children.

After I finish Europe, I'd like to see Morocco and/or Egypt. Mostly Morocco because, hello, Casablanca is an awesome movie.

If you feel inspired by this check out the website 43things.com.

What's on your list?

22.8.07

Joke


A woman took her child on the bus.
"Ma'am," said the bus driver, "You cannot take your child on my bus. That child is so ugly he will disturb the other passengers."
"Please," the woman pleaded, "I need to take my child with me."
"Ok," the bus driver consented," but you need to take him to the back."
The woman went to the back of the bus where another passenger remarked to her, "That was really rude. You should go back and demand an apology."
"No, I can't," the woman said.
"Yes, you can," the man countered. "Here," he offered, "I'll even hold your monkey."

20.8.07

Two Ways to Meet Life


We want validation for our existence. I think this is an essential human need. It is existentialism's base concept: the meaning, not just of life, but of my life. Erick Erickson (unfortunate name) said of the senior citizen's of the world, that they look back on life to see if they have made a difference, to know that their lives were worth something, resulting in "integrity," or the acceptance of one's life, or despair. Maslow called it self-acutalization. Freud called it the ego, which (despite misguided ideas that ego is bad) means knowing that you are worthy, good, and able while simultaneously flawed. When one has ego -- the more the better -- one feels worthy to be alive and in control of that life.
Alfred Adler pioneered the famous "inferiority complex." More notable than that, in my opinion, is his "Style of Life" idea. He suggested that we all begin by feeling inferior and that our "style of life" is our mode from moving to some level of superiority -- or self-actualization or ego or integrity or being ok with me or validating my existence. Did you get that? Life is about this journey to superiority, or finding out that one's existence somehow mattered. The answer to obtaining superiority lies in the "style of life." A "mistaken style of life" is a life of self-centeredness and the search for power leading to emptiness and never fulfillment. A "healthy style of life" is optimistic and receives self-worth in helping others.
Perhaps, then, the greatest fear humans have is to one day find out that they are obsolete. We all ask ourselves the question posed in Les Miserables: "Will the world remember you when you fall/ Could it be your life means nothing at all/ Is your life just one more lie?"
So we fight all the day long to prove that we are needed on the planet, that we have meaning in existence. Quite often we gain this knowledge through a "healthy style of life." We listened to a friend, we donated to a good cause, we let someone into our lane, we did what we said we'd do, we let someone see who we really are, we kept promises to ourselves, we sacrificed, we loved. Isn't it interesting how this validation to existence depends in unequal measure on how we treat others and how consistently we live our own values? But this is the riskiest way to validate existence because it relies so much on the actions and reactions of others. And it's a lot harder to do. It does not come naturally but through concerted effort.
But we also sometimes lead a "mistaken style of life." We didn't hold the elevator, we continued to ignore that friend outside the group, we laughed inside ourselves when someone got what he deserved, we told that story which made another friend look stupid, we complained, we let someone else do the dishes, we lied, we didn't trust or confide. It was all our act of self-preservation. We thought that somehow we'd just die if we didn't do what we did. We were too scared to take the risk. Why? We didn't quite know. We thought of ourselves before anyone else. And how do we feel now? Empty, unfulfilled.
It's such a paradox. We want to see ourselves as important and then we do that which results in the exact opposite. We are too afraid to do that which does bring self-respect, self-worth, self-preservation. I'll end with the following thought, badly quoted, from someone much wiser than myself.
"There are two ways to meet life. You can be indifferent and you will be safe, but bored. Or you can care, and care greatly, until life breaks you on it's wheel. "

13.8.07

Hairspray


A little over a week ago, my life changed forever. I partook of that wonderfulness that is Hairspray.
Hairspray is the story of Tracy Turnblad, played by newcomer Nikki Blonksky, an overweight teen in 1962 Baltimore who has some sweet moves. Her dream is to join Baltimore's local after-school dance TV show, the Corny Collin's Show. (No, it's not like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun at all.) Tracy goes on a rollercoast ride of self-discovery leading her to detention where she learns the moves from the "Negros" and subsequently turns detention into the new hotspot. The moves land her a spot on the Corny Collin's Show provoking the vengeful strategizing of the Van Tussles, played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Brittany Snow. The movie teaches good lessons about race and being comfortable with who you are right now, today, as is. I don't think Tracy is with out a big smile the whole movie long!
The supporting cast is awesome with Zac Efron playing the vain and hot love interest Link Larkin and Amanda Bynes as Penny, Tracy's clumsy, sucker-licking pal.
Props must go out to John Travolta's Edna Turnblad. Travolta in drag. It isn't tasteless or awkward but endearing and all the funnier knowing who is under the 30-pound suit. Also making the movie awesome is Queen Latifah and Christopher Walken.
But my favorite may have been Elijah Kelly, who plays Seaweed, who is about the hottest black guy since ever! I mean, we all love Newsies because it's a bunch of hot guys singing, dancing, and fighting for what they believe in. Ummm... that's Seaweed only white. And, I'll be honest, it's better in black. To quote the lyrics of my favorite song Without Love , "From my ivory castle life was just a Hostess snack/ But now I've tasted chocolate and I'm never going back!"
The movie keeps you smiling the whole time. The music is energetic, clever, and catchy. Like a good coaster ride, Hairspray makes you want to turn around and see it again!

11.8.07

A Blah Funk (Sounds French)


I felt a little "blah" this week. You know blah. Nothing was wrong but I was in a funk. Blah and funk are technical terms used by great literary giants, probably Russians and that's why I can't write their names.
I don't know what I am doing. From ages 5 to 18, life was prescribed. Go to school. After that, go to college. Go on a mission. I remember having the distinct and very real fear that I was going to die in some freak accident after I returned from my mission. Why? Because I didn't see my life going past living 18 months in Germany. Since I didn't die, I went to grad school. And now I've finished that. And I don't know what I am doing now. The problem is options. I have about a million options. I have no parameters, except the ones in my mind.
What do I really want to be doing? If I had no fear and a lot of cash I would move abroad, like to some small French village that is still near Paris so I can visit often, and I would visit things and use the train and read. What would I read? I would read classics like, classics that I can't think of right now, and I would find a professor friend to discuss it with. And I would buy clothes that look good and just fit right. Not that I don't look good but some days I leave my home and think, "Heaven help me if Stacey and Clinton see this!" I would eat fruits and great breads and enjoy cafes, outdoor cafes. And I would sit next to some river and watch the boats. It'd look like Mainz, which I realize is in Germany, but I would look over the river and see the city which has a skyline of churches and feels protective when the sun sets. I'd really get into the arts and I'd understand life and I'd read Carl Jung's biography although I have a feeling I wouldn't really like it. And I would rediscover the spiritual side of me and I would care about nature and feel close to God when I am on a walk. I've rarely been able to make that connection but I think a lot of other people can. And I'd write something worth reading. Whatever happened to the great ex-pat stories and movies. Am I the only one who senses a decrease in movies about Americans abroad like Casablanca, Roman Holiday (I guess Audrey's character wasn't really American so think about the part in Sabrina where she goes to France), The Reluctant Debutante, or to Catch a Thief?
So I'm in a funk, feeling blah, and realizing I need revamping. Better move.

27.7.07

Pandora


Do you ever want to listen to a specific something or you're in a mood and nothing in you CD collection is doing it for you? Go to pandora.com and let them create the mood for you. Pandora is a free radio service where you choose what is played. You can create up to 100 "stations" creating surrounding a theme you give the service. You can tell the service if a song is stupid or rad and it will learn to play what is kosher with you! You can buy good songs with the click of a button from Itunes. Could life get better? I submit that it can not!

11.7.07

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is my favorite book of the series. And now it is a film!
We purchased our tickets weeks before. We made shirts with iron-ons. "Weasley is our King;" "I will not tell lies;" "Harry, Dumbledore was just kidding -- Neville is the chosen one;" My shirt said, "i see thestrals." We lined up about 90 minutes before the midnight showing and found ourselves at the very end of the line. It was thrilling to see Hogwarts uniforms, Snape look-alikes, Harry look-alikes, and even a Trelawny look-alike huddled in a corner reading a book.
When the movie started a loud roar and cheer came up from the crowd. It was amazing. We laughed and cheered for the best lines and our favorite parts. I most enjoyed the scene after Harry's kiss with Cho, as he discusses it with Ron and Hermione. Ron, Hermione, and Harry were laughing and joking and we were all laughing and joking.
Rupert Grint is excellent as usual, and Dan Radcliffe has improved immensely. Emma Watson is still just as motherly as ever and that's kind of annoying. She delivers her lines weird. I can't quite pin point it, but it's odd. Still, I like her.
The snake getting Mr. Weasley is much scarier in the book and the scene where Sirius dies is much slower and more emotional in the book. But I think the movie did what it could. I was surprised at how well the film makers did at shortening long sections and stories. Of course the book is better because there is more detail, but the movie does a great job of capturing the feeling and meaning of the book.
The music is different, kind of happy and Scottish. I like it.
Noticeably missing from the film were Ron and Hermione as prefects, quidditch, and my favorite line of all the books -- "Give her hell, Peeves." And where did all the ghosts get off to? My roommate says that both she and another critic noticed an absence of Harry's scar, even in scenes in which a scar-reference in made. Another excuse to see it again.
Luna Lovegood was really great. She did the spacey-thing without appearing drugged. And her hair extensions are inspiring. Dolores Umbridge was good. Everyone is raving about her and she was good but not soooooo good as all this hoopla.
The final battle scene was awesome. I'm not a special-effect gal but I was really blown away by this last scene. Helena Bonham Carter was a very creepy Bellatrix Lestrange. I was so jazzed when I got home that I had to take a 3am calm-down shower. I went to sleep with visions of Harry Potter and the Order fo the Phoenix in my head and woke up the same way.
Too much fun! Too much fun!
As for predictions for the book. . . I don't think Harry will die but I think that Lord Voldemort and either Ron or Hermione will die. Harry can't die because that would be too horrible and bad for business (just ask Sir Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes) but Ron or Hermione could go. I hope, if one absolutely has to go, that it's Hermione because I like Ron better.
I don't think that Snape is on the Dark Lord's side, but I don't think he is very nice. I think that he and Dumbledore had some prior arrangement or agreement and that is why Snape killed Voldemort (there goes his teaching career and his hope of becoming the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher).
Draco Malfoy is just a child soldier. He is only bad because he has been raised that way. If he dies it wouldn't be the end of the world but I don't think there is a chance.
I think Ginny could also be one to go. So Harry dumped her because he didn't want to give Voldemort any more ammo, but just because you aren't with someone doesn't mean that you suddenly don't care about them. And the whole point of the books is to show the power of love and friendship. Harry can be such a dweeb.
Hagrid could die. His accent kind of annoys me.
Harry says he's got to do it alone but that is riddiculous. That is the one big difference between Harry and Voldemort -- Harry has friends not pawns.
What is so compelling about the Harry Potter series? The plot is intricate and mysterious. It really keeps you on your toes. The characters are so varied that everyone can find a bit of themselves in someone or another.
And there is nothing more atttractive that someone fighting for right. Hot!

6.7.07

Were we always this weird?



I kind of thought my family was less weird.
Let me clarify.
We are usually calm. Of course there was the time my sister-in-law tried to simultaneously lick and pinch the Jazz bear.
But usually we are calm, relaxed, mild.
Then my sister bought LeadSinger. LeadSinger is a karaoke machine for the TV which rates your singing. And with about a million and four songs, it's a source of never-ending something. The Wii was somehow voted off the island that Sunday, and the Leadsinger was plugged in. A competition ensued with the three married couples singing Summer Lovin' rather badly yet happily. I was ready to poke my own eye-balls out when YMCA was chosen. Bad memories. Have you ever overdone something and then never wanted to do it ever every again? So is it with me and YMCA. It was a phase. My brother and I tried out the Cranberries' Zombie but got the plug pulled when no one else understood our artistic merits or the slightly creepy song. And I learned that if you don't know every word to We Didn't Start the Fire karaoke is not the forum for learning.
We were weird.
My brother-in-law told me that the LeadSinger will make you sound better than you are. After I finished NSync's It's Gonna Be Me I asked why the make-you-sound-better feature wasn't on. "It was on," he said dryly.

29.6.07

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way


The little girl's mother wasn't there. Well, she was there... somewhere. I think she was with another therapist discussing her other daughter. I was quite finished with the younger one, a three year old. So I decided to find her mother.
The offices are shaped like a rectangle, enabling us to go around in "circles" forever. To keep it interesting I told the little girl to creep along and be very sneaky.
We went around once. The other therapist still had her door closed.
We went around again but this time I decided we should run.
We were to round a corner. A few feet before the turn, the little girl took off like a bullet.
"Turn!" I called after her and pointed.
The little girl looked to where I pointed and ran smack! into the wall in front of her.

12.6.07

The Lost Art of Creating Intimacy

I get creeped out by Facebook and MySpace. It just isn't right. It it weird to say in my first blog ever that I think these services disconnect people? It is somewhat paradoxical; peoples speaking every day, sending little messages back and forth, posting photographs, being witty -- that seems very connected. But it's not the sort of forum for real conversation, is it? How deep do you really want to go when you are writing on someone's "wall?"

It's a lot like email. Email is great, but something about a real letter is ever greater. Your name written by hand -- a familiar brand of penmanship -- on the cover. A note for you, and only you, from someone who wants to tell you something. Anything.But it is personal. It is a sign that people still know you are there; that a few days ago, they thought of you. Texts, IMs, and the like are quite fine for their purposes, but it isn't really the same as drinking tea (or water, or juice, or whatever beverage type you want to insert here) in a dear friend's front room. Face to face communication allows for intimacy, disclosure, empathy, and really shows love. A visit is worth far more than a quick line or two somewhere out in cyber space.

Have you watched people's faces as they read text messages? If my friends gave me the same blank stare -- the one devoid of emotion -- when I spoke to the, shared with them, I should think they were less the indifferent, that they hadn't comprehended my message at all. I want to be noticed and reacted to, not simply communicated.

And so we become disconnected as we engaged in an act that assures connection.

One friend explained that Facebook allowed her to get caught up with a lot of high school acquaintances, people with whom she had not spoken in years. Good friends, realtionships with meaning, are kept up. Do we need to reconnect with those who had a little meaning for us years ago? I would rather have four really close friends (the visiting type) that hundreds of acquaintances posting witty comment after witty comment and really not getting any closer to my heart.

So I chose to blog. It's somehow different. It's not an attempt to keep tabs on anyone, but instead I see it as a chance for self-expression. Naturally I hope that other's will read it. But not because I never talk to them and they want to tune in on my life (conveniently skipping over the speaking-to-my-face step) as if I were LiLo, Paris, or some other fabulously pathetic cultural phenom from the magazines. I hope that there will be something worth seeing here. That it will somehow create a deeper intimacy with those who are already well acquainted with me and give us forum to discuss thoughts when we cannot visit.

Though I'd still love a visit!