Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Untitled Meditation

Hail Mary, Full of Grace
See these tears upon my face
The world's at war, and so am I
We hear the pain and wonder why
Called to lightness by your Son
We forsake the Call and shun
Fellow man and ignore the few
Good messengers speaking true
I want to hope, pray and believe
That we could find peace and harmony
Through the great gift I often scorn
Brought down from heaven on a Christmas morn
I cannot see, my eyes are weak
When I look to find the poor, sick and meek
I long to show a love so pure
So free, divine, devoid of censure
But I am human and only one
and still struggle to know the gift of your Son.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace
See these tears upon my face
I long to see the world at peace
To see these struggles finally cease
Help me to believe it's true
That God can use the tarnished, too
__________________________

A little poem I wrote a few days after Christmas. I'm not Catholic and I'm not sure why the Hail Mary started this off. Though one of my favorite pieces was a prayer-turned-aria of a Hail Mary-based poem written by an 18-year-old Polish girl detained in an Gestapo holding cell during World War II. Perhaps that was the subconscious inspiration. Anyway, it's not much -I am no poet laureate- but it's honest and for some reason it stuck with me.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Biscotti

-Easy, but Time-Consuming-

So, getting ready for Christmas and I am in a slightly better mood than I was in my last post... One last emergency grocery trip today (which turned out to be the second to last emergency trip as I forgot the chives), a little holiday music and a cookie later, I am feeling slightly more Christmas-y.  Getting ready for Christmas Eve & Day now...

I am one of those people that really does not want to be cooking/baking all day on a holiday. As much as I love to cook, I really see no pleasure in standing in a hot kitchen that is too small for its occupants all trying to complete last minute 'must-haves'. So, I'm getting my bit (or as much as I can of it) done today. Already finished prepping the artichokes, have tomorrow's recipe all planned out and the biscotti is in the oven.

This is my second attempt at making biscotti and it looks like it's going well. I basically took the recipes I found and combined them all together - the dough of one, the mix-ins of another, etc. It's actually pretty easy to make, but it just takes a long time. That whole 'baked-twice' deal, I guess. ;) Find the recipe below, have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I'll probably be on again to try to avoid some of the insanity, but who knows.

_____________

Lindsey's Holiday Biscotti

1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 T anise extract
3.25 c. flour
1 T baking powder
1 c. chopped nuts (I use almonds or pecans)
1 c. dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, sugar and anise flavoring until well-blended. Combine the flour and baking powder, stir into the egg mixture to form a heavy dough. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a roll as long as your cookie sheet. Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down to 1/2-inch thickness.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. When the cookies are cool enough to handle, slice each crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices cut side up back on to the baking sheet. Bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on each side. Cookie slices should be lightly toasted.

Serve plain or dip in chocolate before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Crazy Time Is Here

Christmas? Really? This time of year I look at all the people who are excessively happy (Just how much eggnog did you have, Mrs. Jones?) or those who are extremely crazy (Christmas brings out severe cases of manic shopper syndrome) and I just have to wonder why they do it. Do people enjoy going to malls where you can't walk two feet without someone ramming you in the shins with a stroller, grabbing your hands to demonstrate their amazing product (I don't want a manicure. Really.), or running into someone who has randomly stopped in the middle of the hall and caused a pile-up in the mall melee?

I see all the crazy rushing, the traffic, the money, the credit card bills and more, and I have to wonder if this is truly what Christmas means to these people? Why 'celebrate' a holiday if it's equated with incredible stress, living beyond means, greed, and gluttony? I know, I know, some of you may point out the 'true meaning of Christmas' and I get that bit, it's all the other stuff that I don't get.

I should try not to complain, but I just get so frustrated when I know what people turn the hoildays into. I never realized until I worked retail just how insane people can get - the Mom yelling at her kids to 'get in the Christmas spirit already!', the woman going through six different credit cards before finding one that wasn't declined because she maxxed out all of the others, the men forced to accompany their wives on nightmare shopping days eyeing the crowds (who are frothing at the mouth) with wary eyes, the children screaming because they came crashing down from their sugar high, there isn't a sugar cookie in sight and they haven't slept in a week - This is what Christmas looks like in the United States?

Happy Retail, Claustrophobia, and National Materialism Month!
(And may you somehow find the true meaning of Christmas amidst the insanity).

Monday, December 21, 2009

New URL (and other things!)

Hola kiddos -

So, just a quick note at the beginning to inform you all (in case you haven't noticed already) that I've changed the blog's url. You can now find it at http://www.lindseyglorio.blogspot.com/. I was getting tired of telling people the ridiculously long, kind of vague, and hard to spell (apparently... I never really thought of it before) name that vagabondinaforeignland was. So, I stole my old blog's url and gave vagabond to a new one which will hopefully soon have a link that links back to here just to prevent confusion. Or maybe cause more of it. Not sure. Time will tell.

________________

In other news: I have a job. Yes. Well, it's a temp job. But it's a job nonetheless! And it pays well, so my bills are getting paid and I was actually able to buy Christmas gifts this year. So fun.  It feels so weird to be on this schedule again, no matter how many times I tell myself that just four months ago I got up and made it to work at 7:30am every morning, it still feels early. This is the start of my second week and it will only be a half week due to the holiday. I'll probably get a break until the New Year, which is nice, but I wouldn't mind working.

Looking forward to the Midnight Christmas Eve service (ok, it's actually 11pm, but Midnight sounded too cool) at a church I've been visiting. My little sisters may come along if they're not too tired. Trying to figure out what to do for New Year's Eve. Would really like to go out or go to a party for once. I usually stick with relatives or family (which usually involves a board game and half of us not even making it to midnight), but I'd really like to see what all the hubbub is about sometime.

Went to see Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God on Friday. WOW. I was so impressed. Honestly, I like a little of what I've heard of his music, but for the most part I've never been a huge fan. I'm sure most of you who are reading this have already been to this concert, so I will spare you the discussions on how incredible the musicians were (Andrew Peterson, Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn, Andrew Osenga, Ben Shive, Brandon Heath, and more), and how deep and fresh the lyrics were. I am one of those gets so tired of hackneyed Christmas songs and to hear the same story told in such a way was great. (Okay, maybe I won't spare you that discussion...) Walked away with two CDs as well - Behold the Lamb 10th Anniversary album (awesome - comes with the studio-recorded as well as the live version) and Ben Shive's The Ill-Tempered Klavier".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shiny New Pencils and Anxiety Galore

Well, have just a moment and thought I'd put an update out here. Getting ready for first day of work and still quite anxious. I guess 'first days' are usually like that, but I would love it so much if I could bypass the anxiety and nervousness all together.

Hope you guys are looking forward to a good week - Can you believe that Christmas is in under two weeks????

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Changes

Changes, changes. Making a few changes, hoping for others.

Hoping for a job - still nothing. Doing follow-up calls and emails, constantly refining the cover letters and resumes and still nothing. As said at is, this tacit rejection is swinging quite a blow at my ego. I am so used to jobs (good jobs, even!) falling into my lap that now that I actually have to search I'm getting a little annoyed. Okay, more than a little annoyed.

Other immediate changes: I renamed my blog. I did this before, but it just didn't seem to fit. Granted, this one might go in the next month or two (who knows!), but I like it better than the other. So, the blog is now called "Attempting Transformation". Might sound a little hokey, perhaps a little high-and-mighty, but mostly I just wanted something to reflect the transitions and changes I'm going through right now. Hopefully, I'm growing and learning from all these lovely experiences - hence the 'attempting' bit.

In other news, I am 80% sure that I will get to go to the Andrew Peterson concert in Kokomo! Yay! Quite excited. As of right now it's only me and McKenna (we're old pros at road trips together - even if it is only an hour and a half), but we're pretty excited. Ordering tickets tomorrow if all goes as planned. Anyone want to drive up to Indianapolis and go with us? ;)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do You Ever...?

Do you ever have those moments where you just look back and cringe? Having one of those right now. Was glancing through some Facebook pictures and just wish I could go back and talk some sense into my 18-year-old self. Or even my 21-year-old self. Both of them could've used a large dose of reality. I was so wrapped up in myself, so obsessed with 'what people thought'. I look back and just wish that I could've seen how selfish and ignorant that was. Then again, I suppose life is about learning and I would have never learned from those experiences if I hadn't gone through them the way I did. I had to progress somehow from shy, awkward, socially inept 18-year-old into some semblance of an adult. Granted, I'm still shy, I have a fair number of awkward moments on a regular basis and sometimes I still feel inept, but perhaps it counts for something now that I actually recognize these moments for what they truly are.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas is Coming

Well, sitting here (taking a break from) job-searching and not really enjoying the cold. I think this is because I have no socks. Lack of socks is never a good thing on a cold, blustery day. At least it hasn't snowed yet!

I've been thinking about Christmas gifts. I love to give gifts. I really do. It's a lot more fun for me to give than to get. Lately, I've been thinking on what to get people for Christmas when I have no money -some people are getting drawings, others just cards and a Christmas IOU... One idea I really like (but will have to wait until I have money again) is getting Christmas 'gifts' through an organization like Heifer International. The cheapest gift is $20, but it seems like such a great idea. Instead of getting myself more stuff for Christmas, I could actually give back. I realize I might sound self-righteous here, but I'm not trying to... Or rather, I'm trying not to. I just thought it would be something really cool - and as I rarely get what I want for Christmas, no loss! ;)

Well, back to applications I go. Judging by the success rate of my job-search, I could well be back in school before I ever find a job... Stupid economy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias

Hi Guys!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you guys are having a great day. Mine's going pretty good so far. Been up since about nine doing last minute prep on the food. More pictures will come (the pie and the turkey are not done yet), but I wanted to post pictures while I had a chance right now.

My first homemade pie crust!


Cranberry Sauce in the making


Red Velvet Cookies (Thanks to Sarah for the recipe)


Finished products: galette, cranberry sauce, and artichoke dip

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Got The Sun In The Morning

Hello, friends on Blogger!

Well, not much happening here. Still job-searching. Still dog-/house-sitting. Exploring Indianapolis, getting lost (inevitably). Listening to Betty Hutton sing "I Got the Sun in the Morning" from Annie, Get Your Gun. Classic. :)

"Got no diamonds, got no pearls. Still I think I'm a lucky girl...
Got no butler, got no maid. Still I think I've been overpaid...
Got no silver, got no gold. What I got can't be bought or sold"

Ok, so that's half true. I'm not overpaid (I'm just not paid for the most part) and I often am never grateful for the little that I do have. I like this song. It's like my untraditional Thanksgiving song. Sung with a little bit of grovel and in a fringe-covered coat.

Oh wait! There is one thing to be thankful for! After six weeks (SIX WEEKS!) of job searching, no money, and carefully written appeals... my unemployment has be reinstated! Yay! So excited, merely because now I can pay bills for another month or two! This is a huge answer to prayer and one I seriously had no hope for because Michigan is so overloaded with people claiming unemployment that I figured they'd cut out as many as possible. But they didn't cut me! So, bill collectors, just hold your horses because you will not be calling me this month!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coupon Clipping and Starbucks?

So, had a discussion the other day with my mother and it started me thinking. I mentioned something about wanting to get a Kroger card because of the discounts, then that got us on to the subject of coupon clipping and I started to talk about a few of my friends who are getting into it. Her observation (not verbatim) was how odd it was that 'the-generation-that-will-pay-out-the-nose-for-Starbucks' would like coupon clipping.

My thought is that a lot of the Starbucks-goers are middle-aged business people. Yes, there are a number of college students, but in my experience it's split about 50/50 depending on location. Next thought: I enjoy getting the good deals because it then enables me to treat myself every once in a while (i.e. stuff like Starbucks). Granted, I've cut down (A LOT) on my Starbucks consumption, but I just thought it was an interesting thought.

What do you think? Either about Starbucks (and the outrageous prices) or coupon clipping?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving

So, I'm trying to think of fun/cool things to do on Thanksgiving since I'm pretty sure I'll be on my own. Here are some ideas I've got so far, with the help of brainstorming and some Google searches.

1) Do Thanksgiving Dinner in miniature (this is pretty cool because, as I love to cook, this is a real treat and I can also cut out the holiday foods that I don't like!)

2) Volunteer - whether it be at a soup kitchen, a church dinner, or something else this would be a great way to be around people and get to make some new acquaintances around the holiday season. The work is generally easy and all it takes is a willingness to help and a smile, so I might have to try this one if I can find stuff around here (working in a new area is a bit challenging).

3) Movies - treat myself to a movie on Thanksgiving day! This sounds like a fun time to me. Whether it's a holiday movie that I rent (I'm thinking "Holiday Inn", "A Christmas Story", "White Christmas" or "Miracle on 34th Street") or one that's in the theatres, this can always be fun and a good way to kick off the holiday season.

4) Go out for Thanksgiving dinner - I never really thought about this before, but there are a number of restaurants that -for a certain amount and with reservations- do a mean holiday meal. Granted, I like cooking, but this might be a fun new way to experience Turkey Day.

Hope you all are looking forward to the holidays and (hopefully!) some sort of break. I for one am just very thankful that I am NOT working Black Friday. After working two Black Fridays at one of the largest outlet malls in the midwest, I have a new appreciation for retail workers and a strong desire never to do that again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blah Humbug

Ha! I like my little idiotic play on words. "Humbug" because, as a former retail worker, holidays (especially Thanksgiving and whether I'm working retail or not) come with a fair bit of angst (I still do not know what possesses people to go out and shop on Black Friday) and "blah" because I will be bored and alone (A-L-O-N-E) on Thanksgiving. Granted, it's not that big a deal. Done it before and will do it again, but it's rarely fun. Anyone want to drive all the way to Indianapolis and spend the holiday with me as a dog sit?????? I'll cook! Come on, you know you want to!

Leaving tomorrow for Indianapolis to a) go to a concert (I hope!) and b) dog sit for my family as they all go down to Florida for Thanksgiving. Won't actually be that bad, I'll get a gigantic house to myself and a new city to explore. Maybe I'll even get a job out of the whole ordeal. Who knows. Getting pretty discouraged about that. Looks like Cleveland doesn't have much more to offer than any other place does, so I'm off to my city-of-last-resort: Indianapolis. We'll see what happens.

If I don't 'talk' to you guys before then, have a great thanksgiving day!

Anything in particular you're thankful for this year? I'm thankful for my farmer's market (yes, I'm a dork), a car that is miraculously still running (fingers-crossed!), and finally being done with my BA (despite my lack of a job).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cleveland

Ugh. I hate being sick. I have this monster headache, a high fever, dizziness, and lots of other crap and Ibuprofen is not helping a bit. I've been snoozing off and on all day because I was up sick all night.

I was supposed to go return all my applications tomorrow, but I don't know if I'll be able to now. All I want to do is crawl under a rock and die. Blech.

In other news, I am in Cleveland. Job-searching and enjoying a bit of a (very cheap) vacation since I am still jobless. Halloween was a blast. Went to my (second? third?) cousin's first birthday party which was a costume party. I have some cool pictures and will hopefully get them up once I'm back in Michigan as I've left my adapter up there... I went as something between a goth and a punk rocker. Dark clothes, flat-ironed the hair, super thick eyeliner, midnight blue (HEAVY) eyeshadow and the deepest red lipstick you have ever seen - which only reaffirmed my "I-Hate-Lipstick" stance. The best part of my costume were the tattoo sleeves that I picked up at JoAnn's on sale. Seriously, so hysterical. Half the people at the party thought they were real!

My dad went as Bill Clinton (complete with McDonald's paraphernalia), my sister went as a witch, Patrick was a pirate. Grandma and Grandpa went as Lady Liberty and Zorro. My family got quite the kick out of taking pictures with 'Bill Clinton' and 'Lady Liberty'. Got to go trick-or-treating for only the second time in my entire life. Granted, I was merely an escort because... well, even though I'm a kid at heart, that doesn't cut it for the adults handing out the candy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Time!

So, because I have so much time on my hands, I was able to kind of go hog wild on the pumpkin carving stuff. I usually do two pumpkins and always have fun picking out the patterns or deciding what to carve. This year was no different. Well, except for the fact that I had three pumpkins on my hands (Grandma chickened out at the last minute) and a lot of pent-up artistic obsessiveness apparently... So, these are pictures of the three pumpkins. Pumpkins #1 and #2 are more or less from a pattern (I don't have a printer, so it was looking them up on the web and then freehanding them with a sharpie). Pumpkin #3 was inspired by a pattern, but is mostly my own. Needless to say, the last one is my favorite.

I call him Bob.


I believe this one is called "Good Bite Moon". Hehehe...


First Scene of Pumpkin #3 (Is supposed to be a continuous landscape, but had to break up with trees for structural issues).

Next Scene: Moonlight over Pumpkins :)


And lastly, my favorite. The Haunted House.

I love pumpkin carving.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sour Cream Apple Pie - For Sarah

Here's my recipe for Sour Cream Apple Pie. Found it in an ancient (okay, not ancient, only about 40-50 years old) Martha Dixon cookbook and fell in love at first bite. I'm not a huge fan of traditional apple pies, with the cloying sweetness some get. This one is still pretty sweet, but I like the filling better.

Sour Cream Apple Pie (Martha Dixon)
1 c. sour cream
2 T. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 pie crust (homemade or frozen, doesn't matter)
3 cups tart Michigan apples, diced (I used Macintosh)

Beat together cream, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and egg. Add apples. Pour into 9-inch unbaked pie shell and bake at 400F for 25 minutes. Top with crumb (see recipe below).

Crumb topping (This is as is in the cookbook, but I find that it doesn't work. It turns into a sort of sugar crust. So, if you have a good recipe for crumb, go ahead and use that)

Mix 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/3 c. flour, and 1/4 c. butter. Sprinkle on top of pie and bake 20 minutes more.

Let cool before serving. If you cut into it too soon, the filling will be soupy as it needs to set.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Wednesday in Autumn

Well, sitting here doing a little writing after cleaning up the kitchen. Cooked a lovely sour cream apple pie for Grandma to take to her potluck. Mmm... I love sour cream apple pie. Granted, it probably wasn't such a wise decision to make concerning the fact that I'm trying to cut down on the sweets.... Yeah, not the wisest choice...

Watched Biggest Loser for the first time last night and found it on Hulu today. :) I think I may be the newest fan for Biggest Loser. So cool. If slightly incredible.

I raked the whole backyard yesterday, picking up leaves and acorns by the shovelful (really!). It is my least favorite job right now. I think I really like Autumn when no yardwork is involved... It took me three solid hours of hard work to get that all pulled in and bagged (almost 12 BAGS of leaves and acorns!!!). I think that may be my least favorite job ever... Perhaps even surpassing shoveling snow...

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Design

So, I got this lovely new template at Aqua Poppy, where a number of ya'll have gotten your templates. I like it and I think it's cute, but I'm not sure if it's 'me'. So, we're giving it a trial run. :) Let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Conundrum / Psychosis / It's Been Awhile

(So, apparently, I took an unintended mini-sabbatical from blogging... Huh. I didn't even realize I hadn't been writing. Anyway, I'm back and here's my latest disjointed post).

Now, on to the real stuff that provoked my posting this evening (er, morning...). As most of my ramblings are, this one is inspired by music, but also by some very real musings rolling around in my head. A couple months ago, Imogen Heap released her album Ellipse. Needless to say, I love the album, but there were a couple songs in particular that really struck me (Half Life and Bad Body Double). They both speak to the conundrum (hence the title!) of self-worth and how we connect our value directly to how we appear to ourselves and others.

I am constantly perplexed by people I know (mostly women, but men, too) who bend over backwards for the approval or even just the disdainful attention of one person or another. Waiting breathlessly for one word text messages and the slightest acknowledgment of their existence - doesn't this get frustrating? Why do they do this? Why do you persist in this self-inflicted torture even when they come out to your face and say that they don't care and that you should move on? This just does not make sense to me...

Tied to this is something that has been plaguing me (probably more due to the fact that apparently I have some kind of built-in male-repellent micro chip...): The whole image/appearance thing. I have posted on this before, but really I'm so confused with myself (this is probably where the psychosis bit could come in). I really am not making sense. Here's my problem:

On one hand, I am one of the most vain people I know and on the other... I beat myself up day after day for the way I look (some things I have control over and some I don't). I really don't understand how I can be both vain and disgusted, but somehow I am. Is this some kind of psychological marvel? Is it solely my problem or is this a problem perpetuated by a society that tells us we're all beautiful and all 'the best', but perpetuates images that 98% of the population cannot even attempt to fill?

I just wish I could be 'over' the whole beauty thing. I really wish I could say that it doesn't matter to me, but I can't. It's kind of like the whole being single thing. Often times when I tell people I'm happy being single, I have to wonder if I'm half-lying. I truly (really!) do not see where a boyfriend would be a good addition to my life now (or ever), but sometimes I wonder if it's more of a subconscious resignation to the fact that no one would want to date me -whether it be because of my looks or some other issue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lives of Quiet Desperation

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation... The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation...."
-Henry David Thoreau
_____________

I just finished watching Revolutionary Road. I wanted to comment on the incredible performance of the lead actors, the great vision of the director, but I can't. Not that they weren't incredible (they were), but the fact remains that I was just overwhelmed by the story and the feelings forced on me and out of me.

"Plenty of people are on to the emptiness, but it takes real guts to see the hopelessness."

I usually like 'deep' or 'heavy' films. A large dose of reality makes the best picture for me as I don't always appreciate sugar-coating or shallowness, but Revolutionary Road just left me feeling empty and aching. The biting reality of suburban facades of perfection, conformity, and the stifling dreams hit too close to home.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Phoebe In Wonderland


I am constantly amazed how films with a fantasy element seem the most in tune to reality and speak most clearly an element of truth. In Phoebe in Wonderland, Felicity Huffman and Bill Pullman play their roles with an air of honesty, but it is Elle Fanning, as Phoebe, and Patricia Clarkson, as drama teacher Miss Dodger, who really helps Phoebe come into her own, that take the cake.

Phoebe in Wonderland is a film about a family of four --father and mother (both academics struggling to balance work and family life) and two daughters: Olivia and Phoebe. Olivia strives for her parents' attention and approval. A precocious girl of about eight, she writes poetry, dresses up as Karl Marx for Halloween and struggles to make excuses for her older sister: Phoebe.

At first we see Phoebe as simply a bright, introverted nine-year-old with a vivid imagination, but as the movie progresses our view of Phoebe changes. She is socially awkward, withdrawn, and obsessed with ritual. When she becomes distressed she withdraws into "Wonderland": the parallel world where she goes to try to find an explanation of what's happening in her world and what she is supposed to do.

In the end, we find out the Phoebe suffers from Tourettes syndrome and can't control her outbursts or compulsive action. It is a relieving moment to see Phoebe explain to her classmates, her tormentors, why she is the way she is and to see her finally come into her own as Alice in the school play. Despite its happy ending, Phoebe In Wonderland carries similar elements to Pan's Labyrinth. The main characters both struggle to reconcile their chaotic realities by retreating into fantasy, sometimes terrifying, but all times beautiful.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Death

I just found out that a childhood friend of the family who has been missing for three days was found this evening. They were still holding out hope that he had survived. He was well-prepared with a tent and provisions. He was comfortable in the outdoors. His body was found at the bottom of a cliff. I am just stunned. What is it about these past few months? It seems like there has just been one death after another lately.

I wish there was something I could say; something I could do, but words are insufficient. What can you say to someone who lost their 21-year-old son who fell to his death off of a 300-foot cliff? Or the mom with three young kids having to go on after her husband's death; the family losing a grandfather to a seeming innocent accident; the always-hoped-against death of a friend battling a chronic illness? Don't even talk to me about 'God's ways are higher than ours' or 'He has a reason for everything'. Death is just mindless, thoughtless pain.

"How dare the robins sing,
When men and women hear
Who since they went to their account
Have settled with the year! --
Paid all that life had earned
In one consummate bill,
And now, what life or death can do
Is immaterial.
Insulting is the sun
To him whose mortal light,
Beguiled of immortality,
Bequeaths him to the night.
In deference to him
Extinct be every hum,
Whose garden wrestles with the dew,
At daybreak overcome!"
-Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Limbo

I am in a sort of limbo right now... School has started and I'm not there; got laid off from my job because of budget cuts and haven't received anything promising in response to job-searching. I have been kind of spoiled when it comes to job-searching in the past. Most of my jobs have been offered to me because of networking, or friend-of-a-friend putting in a good word for me. I'm not used to this suspended transition.

Not only is it not helping my financial situation, but it also has me feeling listless. This is the first day I have had free since being laid off because of volunteer work, and chauffeuring my Grandmother on a weekend trip to visit my family's new house. Except for a little time spent with the cousins, today felt so slow and wasteful. I just want a job. I want a purpose.

I suppose the internet revolution of the job-search isn't helping right now either. It's so unphysical now. There's no pounding the pavement, no direct action. The most action I take is to hit the 'Send' button or (at the most extreme) make a one-minute trip to the post office. Searching for jobs involves Monster and other career websites and the time spent in front of the MS Word window to type up a coherent cover letter and tweak my resume. It's all fast, virtually painless, and mind-numbingly boring. It's not that I'm not interested in the jobs. To the contrary, there are a quite a few that I have been really excited about the prospects that some of these jobs could present, but I'm getting so tired of waiting and being aimless...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ordinary People

I picked up Ordinary People the other day from the library. I'd never really heard of it, but the synopsis sounded interesting and the cast members were familiar. Still, I wasn't really sure what to expect from it. Even with the intriguing summary, I thought perhaps it would lean toward trite or overdone. Maybe even cheesy.

What I got, however, was the best I could have hoped for. Lately, my movie tastes have been veering away from the fantasy, action, and comedy that I once loved and moved into the realm of drama. And not just any drama, but that which is portrayed as the true, honest drama of everyday life and of... (wait for it) Ordinary People. Recent favorites have included Garden State, Now Voyager!, Wit, and 84 Charing Cross Road. These, with their mix of drama, the occasional dose of humor and a soupcon of quirkiness, have epitomized the 'movie-worth-watching' for me. They all are everyday-real and honest, but at the same time they are beautiful and tragic.

Timothy Hutton, Mary Tyler Moore, and Donald Sutherland are the people at the center of the story, a family struggling to make sense of and deal with the death of their oldest son and brother. In a world where we cover up our private struggles and present whitewashed facades to our acquaintances, friends and family even in the face of great pain, hurt and confusion, Ordinary People (and the others previously mentioned) is an anguished breath of fresh air.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Doubting Thomas

Ok, so as soon as I say something about the dangers of people including too many quotes in their posts, I want to start posting song lyrics and poetry. This crow sandwich is a little dry. On to the real post:
___________

I have been a long-time Nickel Creek fan, but in recent years I have moved into other genres and artists to captivate my musical attention. However, in the past week or so, I have returned to the tried and true and have found a lyrical honesty that I never 'got' before while listening to their music. Their last album, "Why Should the Fire Die?", is probably my favorite of their works -as it is probably their most progressive and complex album. The songs range from wistful, sweet ("First and Last Waltz") to a new take on bittersweet ("Helena"), to the incredible musicality we'd come to expect from the trio ("Scotch & Chocolate") and more.

The one song that really takes the cake for me, however, is "Doubting Thomas". Written by Chris Thile (already a favorite of mine, both with Nickel Creek and as a solo artist), the song centers around lyrical themes of religious doubt, wanting to do "the right thing" but not knowing what it is, and not wanting to unintentionally lead others astray from the truth. It is a simple melody, with simple harmonies, accompanied by no-frills honesty. With all my doubts and questions, I sometimes feel that I don't fit in the Christian circles where people seem so sure or they have all the trite Sunday School answers. I know it's not the best place to be in the world, but I would rather be honest about my doubt than put on a happy face and sing words that I don't really mean.
________________

What will be left when I've drawn my last breath
Besides the folks I've met and the folks who've known me?
Will I discover a soul-saving love
Or just the dirt above and below me?

I'm a doubting Thomas
I took a promise
But I do not feel safe
Oh me of little faith

Sometimes I pray for a slap in the face
Then I beg to be spared 'cause I'm a coward
If there's a master of death
I bet he's holding his breath
As I show the blind and tell the deaf about his power

Can I be used to help others find truth
When I'm scared I'll find proof that it's a lie?
Can I be led down a trail dropping bread crumbs
That prove I'm not ready to die?

Please give me time to decipher the signs
Please forgive me for time that I've wasted

I'm a doubting Thomas
I'll take your promise
Though I know nothing's safe
Oh me of little faith

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thoughts on Counterculture Consumerism

In Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture, Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter examine the phenomenon of past and present ‘counter-culture’ movements. Through their examination of these growing movements, Heath and Potter seek to explain how the search for individuality and a method of rebellion has in actuality become the newest method of conformity in consumer culture. In order to understand this ‘evolution’ of counterculture, one must understand the groundwork of the movement in the first place. They give the history of the baby boomers that “declared their implacable opposition to ‘the system’… and renounced materialism and greed, rejected the discipline and uniformity of the McCarthy era, and set out to build a new world based on individual freedom”. Next are the ‘Hippies’ who “bought VW Beetles for one primary reason—to show that they rejected mass society” and in direct protest to the Big Three. Heath & Potter list many other ‘movements’ that label themselves as counterculture, but one of the things that interests the authors most is the connection between the counterculture movement and the consumer culture now associated with them.

The counterculture movement has become more of a material search for ‘self’. The quest for the individualistic, ‘Other’, exotic, etc., which has been associated with the counterculture has turned into a search for commodities. Who can buy the latest ‘cutting-edge’ technology, or wear the latest fashion, in essence who can be the first to be different. This relay of supposedly counterculture values to a consumer market has only led to a furthering and revitalization of mainstream consumerism under a new label. Perhaps the only way to be truly counterculture is to “opt out of the system… and go off and live in the woods somewhere (and not commute back and forth in a Range Rover). Because the everyday acts of symbolic resistance that characterize countercultural rebellion are not actually disruptive to ‘the system’”, they perpetuate and fuel mainstream consumerism. True rebellion and counterculture only occurs when “it becomes genuinely antisocial”.
_________________

Heath, Joseph and Andrew Potter. 2004. Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture. HarperCollins: New York.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Christmas in August

Took Grams to Frankenmuth on Friday to visit the new creperie and we decided to stop by Bronner's just for the heck of it since we were in the area. Visiting Bronner's Christmas Wonderland is sort of a tradition for our family, it goes hand-in-hand with childhood visits to Grandma's house and holiday wonder.


As a child, Bronner's symbolized the very essence of Christmas to me: bright colors, sparkling lights, tall trees, life-size nativities, and a general feeling of overwhelming wonder. However, as I walked down the well-stocked aisles of glittering ornaments, prelit trees, and Christmas decorations, it struck me as odd. Is this what Christmas has come down to for me? For us? Chintzy Made-In-China plastic icicles and a set of plaster elves?


For a store that advertises itself specifically as a "CHRISTmas Wonderland" (really spelled with the caps), I find it odd that it is all about the stuff. A store over the area of one and a half football fields, dedicated to Christmas and stuffed to the gills with... stuff.


After visiting this altar of Christmas Materialism, I feel I need to reevaluate what Christmas means to me --even if it happens to be August...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our "passions a quotation"? Literally?

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation" -Oscar Wilde

I don't know if any of you guys have ever noticed the quote sitting on the header of my blog, but I have to agree with Mr. Wilde. Pretty much everything to be said has already been said and we're just trying to think up new and improved ways of saying them (and not always succeeding). However, the more I read, books, interviews, and especially blogs, I feel like I am seeing people who are writing only what other people want to hear. People I know well (intelligent, educated, opinionated people) writing just to appease one group or one person, or writing to enforce this facade they have erected. This is starting to disturb me.

I am not innocent in this respect. Sometimes I feel like I write just to get a response out of people or to talk (translation: "rant") about what I've read recently. It is when I find these blogs that sound as if they've lifted the entire post from a well-known book or I scroll down a blog and nine out of ten in the archives are just lengthy block quotations that I have a problem. Are we growing up a generation of parrots? Are we writing just what people want to hear or what we want people to hear from us?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Update :)

Hola chicos!

Here I am again. Sorry for the absence. I did kind of abandon poor little "Wanderings" temporarily for newer pastures. Been working on this post for The Corner Booth, and also researching a couple others. Getting really excited about upcoming posts and thinking about doing a current events post as well... We shall see. :) My next post will mostly likely be either critiquing/debating the education of women/girls in the church OR the weird cross-section of Nationalism and Christianity. BTW, Sarah has a new post up complete with poetry!

I am whupped. Seriously. It is hot here for the first time all summer, I think. Over 90 degrees Fahrenheit today and of course it's the one day out of the entire year that I am walking outside for three hours... Anyway, the Great Lakes Folk Festival was worth it. Got to catch up with Scott, enjoy some good music (we got acquainted with the Finnish-American All Star Band), and get lost at MSU... But really, free music festivals, no matter how hot, are always good. Paid a whopping two dollars for parking and that was it. Well, except for the fresh-squeezed lemonade and then some Bubble Tea afterward. Introducing Scott to bubble tea was definitely an experience and not something I think he is likely to forget... For those of you that don't know, bubble tea (at least as I know it) is basically tea (usually with cream, but sometimes fruit) with these large (and I mean large!) tapioca-like 'bubbles' that you suck through a wide straw as you drink your beverage. Here's a picture (below) of my Tiki Tea (basically a mixture of black tea, coffee, and cream) with black bubbles.


The Finnish-American All-Star Band


Tiki Tea with black bubbles


Scott waiting with breathless anticipation for the next schottische. ;)


In other news: I made paella! I don't know if it is true to paella-goodness as I've never had the real thing, but I thought it was delicious! Well, really anything rice-based packed full of seafood is all right with me, so... I found the recipe online, substitued turmeric for the saffron (that stuff is expensive!) and splurged just a tiny bit on the seafood. It was wonderful and more than made up for the nasty shelling of raw shrimp I had to do. Ugh. Not such a huge fan.


My dish of paella-wonderfulness


Last but not least, I have a bumper crop of juliette tomatoes! Remember Frankie and Johnny, my two little tomato plants? Well, they have grown. In fact, they are probably the largest tomato plants I have ever seen... I will have to post pictures again, but as it's pitch black outside right now, that's not happening... So, anyway, if you're in the Flint or Lansing area and will eat tomatoes, give me a call, text, comment, or Facebook message and I will bring some your way! I am giving all the credit to Dr. Earth organic fertilizer as I do next to nothing other than occasionally fertilize and water when I remember...



Oh, and this is what happens when you send Lindsey to the library... A random collection of books on religion, anti-religion, feminism, linguistics, and a spiritual biography thrown in for good measure... :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mulling

Had a debate with a friend earlier today and it's got me thinking. I'm not sure if it's a good thinking, but I'm thinking nonetheless. It is so hard for me to comprehend sometimes the fact that people are entitled to their opinions and I'm entitled to mine when it comes down to things that I feel strongly about. Even though I can usually see and understand the other person's point of view, I still have trouble over-emotionalizing questions and debates. I don't know. It's a little unnerving sometimes... I see their point, but I want them to see mine as well...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Long Time, No Write

It has been over two weeks since I last wrote -two weeks! That's an eternity for me when it comes to blogging, I think. Anyway, life hasn't sped up much, I just haven't had much to write about. School has ended so my normal subjects have mostly disappeared I guess...

Anyway, so I'm updating now. :) I am excited about a few things actually, so hopefully I can eek out a post this morning.

The Corner Booth - Okay, so the name might end up changing, but it's all I've got so far, so we're sticking to it. I had this (kind of) crazy idea to start up a blog from the perspective of young adults (the actual young adults, i.e. twentysomethings, not the 13-17 year-olds bit) in the modern Church and invited some friends to participate (and honestly, most of you that read this are probably the ones already signed on for it...). I am honestly amazed at how things have come together for it. Yes, it's just a brand-new blog that is only read by the writers. No, we're not getting paid to write. But I still feel somehow that it was one of those 'meant-to-be' things, like the time was ripe for this blog to pull together. I have high hopes for this and am hoping I'm not raising my hopes in vain. Feel free to check out the link even though it is not officially up and running yet.

Job-searching - This isn't really something to be excited about, as it's not really going anywhere, but as it makes up about 50% of my existence right now, I figured I should post it. No prospects as of yet and I'm just a little bit terrified of moving somewhere sans connections, roommates, plans set in stone, etc. We shall see what happens.

Went down to Cleveland last weekend and it was a lot of fun. Got to see family and explore the city. I have to say that I am continually impressed by Cleveland. I'm not just saying this because it's my hometown, either - trust me I have had my Ohio-hating days (as well as Michigan-hating, but that's another story). Seriously though, it has so much to offer. The museums, the schools, the hospitals, the cultural centers, etc. I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art and got to see (well-known original) works by Sargent and Warhol (and more) for free - for F-R-E-E! I think I would move to Cleveland for the museums alone. So exciting. Also, they have decent farmers' markets, though honestly I think I like Flint's better right now -at least compared to the one I visited when I was down there. anyway, it was lovely. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sometimes I wonder...

The day started out like any other. I got up, ran out the door, and made it to work by about 7:45am. The work day itself was short and uneventful. I was not particularly looking forward to the rest of my day (shopping is never fun for me, especially clothes shopping), but determined to make the best of it. So, I called up a friend and determined to meet her later that day to have her come along for moral support.

So, I get home, pop in a movie, pull out the computer and just relax for a couple hours. It was beautiful. Really. Well, beautiful until I was twenty minutes late and keys were nowhere to be found. Poor Sarah had to witness all this panic via telephone as I kept interrupting deep, meaningful conversation with mutterings of "Where the heck are my keys?! I'm going to be so late..." Finally, I gave up. (I do have a spare key to the car. The panic surrounding lost keys is resulting more from the lost key drives which hold up to eight years of research, writing, and artwork). I fished my spare key out of the bottom of the box and ran out the door.

Through all this Sarah is still on the phone, still patiently waiting for me to regain my sanity. Even as I drove down the road, I was still retracing my steps in my mind. I grabbed my coffee cup from this morning, walked in the house and tossed it in the trash. I went to my room, dropped off the backpack and the books.... Ok, so where did I lose the keys? What I should probably mention here is that in the resulting panic, I tore apart the house. I crawled under tables, moved chairs, pulled bedding off of beds, turned out and shook upside down both my purse and my backpack, and created a lovely sense of chaos. As I was saying I finally gave up because I was already running late and had the spare key that would at least get me there on time. I walked in the house, tossed the cup in the trash. I went to my room, dropped off the backpack...

So I'm driving down the road, talking to Sarah, trying to get over my lost key drives (remind me to buy an external hard drive) as it seems futile at this point. Oh well. It's not like it's anything lasting... I'll just-- Wait... no, I couldn't-- but maybe I.... "I'm sorry, Sarah, I'm going to have to let you go. I just thought of the one place I didn't look."

They were there. Sitting innocently at the bottom. My grandmother could hardly believe her ears when I called and told her what I was thinking.

"Grams, this is going to sound crazy, but.... could you look in the trashcan?"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Notes to a College Freshman

Alright, I realize that getting my undergrad doesn't make me automatically wise or important or even more well-off in this economy (bummer). However, I do believe that I have gleaned some important lessons from my experience and have been compelled to share them (mostly because they won't let my brain rest or go on to anything else until I get this into written format).

Financial Aid - While this may seem a fleeting, unimportant-in-the-long-run revelation, it is probably one of the things that I look back on and am most disappointed about. Lesson learned: Do all the legwork yourself (or at least hound people who are supposed to be helping you). I learned this lesson too late. When I finally caught on I was in my second to last semester of my senior year and received two scholarships... for the next year [the year after I graduate]. With the economy so rough right now and college becoming less of a rarity and more of a requirement, financial aid is an absolute must. And actually, now that I think about it, this is an important-in-the-long-run thing. Seriously, how many of us are going to be spending our hard-earned salaries for the next ten years or so paying off gargantuan student loans? (Oh and that's an extra mini-lesson: Don't go to college on loans if you can prevent it at all. I am dead serious here. I wish someone had really educated me or warned me about taking out loans before I went into my freshman year.)

GPA - Yes, we are raised in a society that tells us we are 'all #1' and that we are all created equally (while that is true there have been some discrepancies in the application of this.). Yes, we are told that 'doing your best' is sufficient. Here's a wake-up call: It's not. Seriously, GPA is big. I suppose growing up in environment where grades were neither stressed nor really even given was a deficit when it comes to realizing how important those four points are to your academic achievement. This did not hit me for quite some time. I made it through freshman, sophomore, and junior year before I realized that the grades I was getting would affect where I went in the future. This is especially important if you want to get into any graduate programs. While I am not 100% sure about other disciplines, I can speak for anthropology and say that the cut off for grad school is usually 3.2. So even if you have good reference letters, excellent community involvement, and an incredible writing sample, you'll be cut off because of GPA alone.

Work Ethic - Apparently I am not the person to ask about work ethic. I have a 'good one' in the sense that I get all my work done on time. However, I am an expert at 'working under pressure' and it is not always a good thing. So lesson learned: stop smelling the roses and put your nose back in the book or in front of the computer screen. You will have the rest of your life to experience the finer things. (This may only apply to me as I am one of those who is easily distracted, but I couldn't very well leave it out).

Diversity - I honestly can say that (aside from the fact that my degree is not offered at the private college I formerly attended) the diversity of the campus has been one of the best experiences for me. I did not have a lot of exposure to people of other cultures and religions before I came to UM-Flint and I am glad that I did not miss out on this great opportunity. America the Melting Pot always held such great meaning for me, but my experience with the Melting Pot had always been a homogenizing affect, boiling us down to basic ingredients in the same basic mold. There was no inter-mingling or fusion of cultures to my understanding before I came to Flint. While I realize that this was most likely not intentional by my other teachers in my early experiences, it was never truly experienced or emphasized before I started here.

Do you all have any lessons you would pass on to freshman (college or high school)? If so, let me know what you think in the comments. Interested to hear what you all have to say.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Slacktivism and the Subjective Weight of Human Life

One of the questions I have been coming up against today: What is the weight of human life? Why do we give some lives more weight than others? I don’t really want to open this up into the abortion debate (as that is too heated and one of my least favorite topics to talk about), but it is the one that has gotten me thinking. If people are willing to protest in the streets about abortion and use ‘the sanctity of life’ as their main argument, why are they not protesting all the times where this sanctity is being betrayed? I can remember being taken out to picket at a young age, but I was never taught about the atrocities happening in the world around the same time –the South African apartheid, the Rwandan Genocide. (I know that I can’t generalize, as I have been called out on this more than once, so understand hear that I am speaking out of my personal experiences, and those of people I know.) I don’t understand how we can go and protest one thing but not the other.

Vocal support only goes so far. A good example of this is Darfur. I will always say that I am against the genocide happening in Darfur, but what will I do against it? What do the people I know who are ‘against’ this actually do? It’s like the recent commentary by the Globe and Mail as well as NPR on the growing epidemic of slacktivism. “‘Slacktivism’ is an apt term to describe feel-good online activism that has zero political or social impact. It gives those who participate in ‘slacktivist’ campaigns an illusion of having a meaningful impact on the world without demanding anything more than joining a Facebook group” (NPR 19 May 2009). Admittedly, there are some online campaigns that do good, so I cannot generalize and say “all” but the vast amount seem to be nothing more than a one-button click to ‘show your support’ and then after that nothing. I am guilty of this myself, so please understand that I am including myself in the guilty party.

This also reminds me of the folly of activist blogging. What good does blogging do? The student government at UM recently held a “Blog or Shut Up” campaign to promote discussion on student government activities. While this is a possible solution for the lack of involvement on campus, I have often heard (and used myself!) the same phrase to refer to activism. I just have to laugh because what does that really do? Unless you have a substantial politically-activated reader base, what the hell do you think is going to happen? People are not going to get out of their comfy office chairs (I am one of those who has trouble ungluing the seat of her pants from her computer chair) and start acting because someone wrote an angry post on their obscure blog. Even with the more popular bloggers, what do they cause us to do? Do we shake our heads at the misery the world over? Do we go to a different website because it makes us uncomfortable? Will we (will I?) ever be motivated to truly move?

When I live in a nation with the incredible privilege of free speech and the opportunity to stand up against injustices without fear for my life or the life of my loved-ones, why is it that I will not use these priceless advantages I have been given to stand up against the problems in the world today?

NPR: Foreign Policy: Brave New World of Slacktivism

Dear Student Government

Life Right Now

So… I am sitting here at work. I’ve got my to-do list done except for end-of-the-day stuff and it’s not even 9:15am. Yes, I am officially bored. So, I am going to sit here and write a bit about how life is going these days and what I have been thinking about.

I am eating the most delicious orange right now. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a better one. I bought them at the Farmer’s Market (my new favorite place) and I am always continually shocked at how much better the produce is there –and how much cheaper usually as well. Have to say that the meats and cheeses are definitely more expensive, but the fruits and veggies are always comparable to or lower than supermarket prices. (And now I feel slightly boring for talking about produce prices in a post about ‘my life’… Sheesh).

School is almost done. I have a week and a half until I’m finished with my BA. This is providing I actually pass my last class. I am terrified of this economics class. Seriously, it’s got me beat. I think I might’ve actually liked this class, but to do it in seven weeks with the same amount of reading (which would be heavy for a normal semester) with another class besides? Yeah, it’s not working. And now my professor has decided that we are switching from three papers to two. So, while it’s less work, my overall grade for this whole class is going to be based on two papers, one of which I know I did horribly on. I don’t even need my paper back to know that. It was probably the worst paper I’ve ever written because I didn’t understand the material and I couldn’t even make it through all of the books. What’s done is done, I suppose. I can’t very well turn back time and redo it, but it still frustrates me that this one is so hard.

To happier things: my other class. I am seriously loving my Africana class. “Women Writers of the African World” has been a joy. Really. I have never really gotten the chance to branch off into Africana and I’m kind of bemused how I managed to not take even one until my last semester at UM. While I have always appreciated my education thus far (from Kindergarten on up through the first several years of college) and have always been a voracious reader, there has a serious gap in my reading selection, both personally and for school. I can remember the first time I took World Lit and being stunned at how much I learned from the stories and how much I enjoyed reading them.

For some reason, I had always assumed that different cultures’ stories would not ‘work’ with me (just another symptom of my American ethnocentrism that is engrained into all of us as US citizens, I suppose). Even that class, however, I don’t remember reading any African literature. We read several Asian (I can think of two Japanese stories off the top of my head, as well as an Indian one), a Native American book, Hispano South American poetry, but there was a gap there, too. With the books we have read I have been continually surprised on how much I enjoy reading African literature. And now that I say that I feel just a little bit ignorant for voicing that… Anyway, pleasant surprises in the literature class. And we also have a poetry assignment that I’m really enjoying researching. Anyone have any favorite African poets (limited to the African continent and the Caribbean)?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Obsession with American Rights

A while back in a comment about a blog post, a good friend of mine mentioned something about the American obsession with rights and I've been thinking more and more about that. What has really got me thinking most of all, though, is the American obsession with American rights. That is, our obsession with rights that we (tacitly?) only extend to ourselves, as Americans.

It seems like we do not care about what else happens in the world and this dichotomy -of rights inalienable versus subjective- has me perplexed. I read every day about people in other countries struggling against multinational corporations that are exploiting their natural resources, native people, and more, and I wonder why we aren't doing anything. How is it that we preach the inalienable rights of all humans but are unconcerned about anyone's but our own? Do people only get rights when they agree with us? Or when we take over their countries and force our ideals on them?

I feel like my eyes are continually opened to the atrocities around the world each day--those that the US ignores or even supports- and yet there's nothing I can do to make people care or even convince them that these problems exist. I can tell horror stories, I can distribute pamphlets and protest in the streets, and what difference will it make?

I can tell people about Ken Saro-Wiwa (and the others of the Ogoni Nine) who was executed for defending his native land and his people against a multinational corporation that was ruining the land with its oil flowstations, and displacing them from their homes without the slightest bit of reimbursement, remorse, or even a second thought.

I can talk about how Coca-Cola has supported anti-union violence and even paid for the assassination of labor leaders at their plants in South America.

I could go on and on about the sweatshops in Bangkok and the maquiladoras of South America where women lose any sense of 'rights' (if they had them in the first place) when they are put to work like cattle and all to produce a cheaper product for greedy capitalists.

I could relay the ludicrous tale of the company that decided to start charging residents of favelas, shantytowns, for the rainwater they collect on their roofs.

I know I am not innocent in this. I have purchased gasoline from companies I'm against, simply because the cost is cheaper for me (never mind the cost of life for someone else). I purchase the cheap, mass-produced products (out of necessity and out of stinginess) at Wal-Mart and other superstores. I used to drink Coca-Cola, too.

What I don't get is why people do not change when they come face-to-face with these issues. Or why they don't even react. I don't know. Maybe it's a little much to ask people to care or change their ways, but some won't even acknowledge it, or worse they know, they understand and they could care less. I don't understand why my rights are more valuable than those of Tomasina, working in the fields of Mexico, or Yuk-Ling, assembling electronics in South China.

How is it that we can scoff at protestors outside the WTO or in front of the IMF? Why do we think we are so much better -so much more valuable- than someone half the world away? How can we be silent in the face of these atrocities that go by unmarked and unnoticed?

I, for one, am feeling incredibly guilty and only wish there was something more I could do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One small step for (wo)man...

...and one giant leap into the realm of adulthood!

I got a cell phone.

Yes, I had one before, but this is my phone. As in, my own cell phone plan, my own money, my own responsibility.

It may seem quite lame to those of you who have been in this realm longer than I have, but I am kind of on edge because of this now. For the past several years, I've just taken advantage of the family plans my parents use and have just added a phone to their plans. But today I went out and got my own.

You should be proud of me, I did research. I shopped around. I even read a report from the federal government on wireless service providers (it was very boring, but somewhat informative). I ended up leaving Verizon behind and switched to Sprint and I think it will end up working out. Got a great discount, a free phone, and all the texting I could ever want. ;)

So, here I am... owner of a new cell phone (a red Samsung Rant) and account holder on a cell phone plan. And for some reason I am absolutely terrified. Maybe it's a good thing. I am so worried that I will screw this thing up. Overage charges, or messing up plans --that sort of stuff. It's one of the reasons I stuck to unlimited texting. :) I'm not sure why this is so much more serious than other things that I have --I pay my car insurance every month, as well as my loan payments. Why is the cell phone plan so intimidating?

Monday, June 1, 2009

FYI

Hey guys,

Just thought I'd let you know that I've switched over to comment moderation, so if your comments don't show up immediately don't be surprised. As I'm on here usually at least once a day, there shouldn't be that much of a delay between when you post and when your comments appear.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Random Thoughts on Being a Single Woman in the Modern Church

Okay, these are just some random thoughts I've been jotting down lately on the subject of being a single woman in the church and how my life experiences have shaped my opinions of that. Please take these with a grain of salt and a sense of humor as some as this is supposed to be both enlightening with a touch of humor at the same time, if that's possible.

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My experiences and interactions with other people’s marriages have definitely shaped my opinion of what it is to be married and what it is to be single. As a high school student, I had a rosy, idyllic view of marriage. I saw only what I wanted to see and never saw the hard side of marriage, the stress, the arguments, and the compromise. All I saw was the constant companionship (wanted or otherwise) and was convinced I would be married with babies by age 19. I never once thought as a young student that marriage was not for everyone. I was convinced that we would all grow up, pair off and have our happy little families (reminiscent of Leave It to Beaver) in our perfect Christian communities. Marriage was my answer to everything: How am I going to support myself? Don’t have to because I’ll have a husband for that. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? Be a mom. What am I going to do for an education? I’m going to be a mom; I don’t need to go to school to learn that.

Around 20 years old however it was like the blinders were taken off. Granted, I had always been a little na├»ve and unobservant, but when people I loved, people I thought were unshakable broke down before my very eyes, it impacted me in a big way and it definitely hit home that marriage is not the answer to everything. It wasn’t that I became anti-marriage, but I have definitely an advocate of the single life as well as cautiousness and careful consideration in pursuit of marriage.

It was a big epiphany for me to realize that I wasn’t supposed to be focused on marriage. (Shock! I know!) Even within my relationship with God, my prayers would sometimes (oft times?) begin and end with the request for my long-awaited husband. I asked for a husband more than I asked for peace, or guidance, and more than I even worshiped God. It took a lot to come to grips with the fact that that just wasn’t healthy. Even now, I’m still struggling with giving God the right place in my life. Over time, my request for a husband has been replaced by prayers for jobs, for good grades, the occasional request for world peace, and the ever-on-my-mind prayer for financial aid among other things.

Now that I am getting into what I would deem my ‘truly single’ life (finished my undergraduate degree and am looking to go into the realm of ‘real jobs’) I realize that marriage is not something that I want. I know people think I’m crazy, and many think I’m misguided, but I really don’t see a problem with living the single life. The unmarried life has been extolled in the Bible for various reasons and marriage is never listed as a necessity for spiritual fulfillment or obedience. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that I will change my opinion when ‘Mr. Right’ comes along. They can’t seem to handle that anyone could be content, and where they’re supposed to be, in singleness. A friend jokingly told me once that it was because all married people wanted us to be as miserable as they are. Truly, though, I just don’t know how to explain this to people. I don’t see my staying single as a ‘misguided reaction’ to the failing marriages around me, and neither do I see it as a selfish decision of not wanting to give up my time for another human being (as that's not really the purpose of marriage anyway). I am not opposed to the idea of marriage. Indeed, I suppose it is possible that I could eventually marry (though I have no desire for it right now). However, I am not planning on it. The idea that we (especially single women in the church) are supposed to put our lives on hold for the knight in shining armor to come sweep us off our feet is preposterous.

It almost seems as if the heroes of our favored novels (Christian, classics, and otherwise) have ruined us and ruined our perception of men. Men are expected to live up to the fictional-likes of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Rochester (perfect, despite his faults), and the occasional Christian romance hero. These ‘ideal’ men are nowhere to be found and they have skewed our idea of what a good man looks like. Instead of seeing men as human, and accepting their faults as we expect them to accept ours, we hold them up to a fictional standard that is only achievable on paper. While I recognize the place for good literature (and most of these books I would hesitate to call ‘good literature’, particularly outside of the realm of that which would be found in a solid literature class), I cannot stress enough that these standards of fool's gold should be taken with a grain of salt (make that a cup of salt!). A friend from my early college years deemed Christian romance fiction ‘Christian erotica’ and more and more I am seeing that I agree with his opinion. Christian romance novels (I can think of several authors I read when I was younger) create false expectations, in a similar way to pornography, that are always disappointed when we encounter real people.

What has really irked me most about my experience with being ‘single’ in the church has been the assumption that I have not yet reached adulthood because of my marital status (or lack thereof). Granted, I will admit that I have not reached what I hope is my ‘peak’ of maturity (and there are those I know in their 50s and 60s who hopefully haven’t reached theirs either!), but when I see the young marrieds (same age as myself) welcomed into churches more than I am, I find it just a little bit insulting. Is there such a thing as marital discrimination? However immature or mature I may truly be, I believe that we all have something to bring to the table. I have been enlightened by conversations with everyone from the four-year-old in the nursery, to my 82-year-old grandmother, and many people in between and I believe that we all deserve the same amount of respect, regardless of how big our entourage is.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday

Yay for farmers' markets!

As a break from the monotony, Grandma and I ventured out to the Flint Farmers' Market today. I must say it... I'm in love! It seems like I only find the good places in a town once I'm ready to move out... Perhaps I need to extend the duration of my stays... Anyway, back to the farmers' market. Incredible. Between the two of us, we picked up fresh vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper), fruit (watermelon and the first crop of cherries!), herbs (peppermint and basil), cheese (Fontina!), liver (not my favorite I've found out, but it's cheap), a baguette, and even an ice cream cone. This is better than the fair, this is better than the amusement parks. I could spend the whole day just sitting and watching people go by or perusing market stands.

The true beauty of the farmers' market (or at least this one as I don't know how others work) is that you know it's local and you know it's in season. It's kind of disturbing to me to think that I can walk into a grocery store in the middle of December and find tomatoes... Yes, I do like my produce during the winter, too, but it's just a wee bit unnatural.

Another nice thing is the prices. I know that sometimes it's pricy. The cherries, for instance, were $5.00 a pound. On the other hand, we have the vendor who sold us six gorgeous tomatoes for only $2.00. and the bag of basil that only cost $2.00. Even with the slightly higher prices, though I am getting a deal because it's better quality food (whereas at the grocery store, I usually come out with something overprocessed). And I end up paying less because the temptation of processed, frozen, pre-packaged food is non-existent at the farmers' market. :)

So on to a similar subject: gardening. My tomato plants seem to be doing well. I'm pretty sure they can't wait for June (and neither can I), because I will finally be able to transplant two of the four out of pots and into the ground once the fear of frost has passed. Cannot wait for yummy tomatoes in the summer. Actually, right now I am really missing having a yard for gardening. No such luck here and that's fine. However, I can't help but look longingly at the flats of vegetable seedlings and wish I had the space. I'm already pushing my luck with a few tomato plants, so I think I'll leave it be.

Back to the farmers' market (kind of): With out lovely produce we got today, I got to make a few things for dinner which just might make it on to my favorites list.

1) Mediterranean Tomato Salad (or at least, that's what I'm calling it) -- two medium tomatoes, a quarter of a green pepper, and a half a cucumber all chopped into bite sized pieces. Add a pinch of basil and a few pinches of peppermint. Drizzle with olive oil and just a tad of vinegar (I used apple cider, but I think red wine would be better). Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy. If you all know Woody's Mediterranean Deli in Lansing/East Lansing/Okemos, this is very similar to their greek salad, however they have the advantage of using fresh mint. I have to resort to dried.

2) Cherry Clafoutis (It's said cla-foo-TEE, apparently) -- Okay, this is a little on the humble side. It is incredibly simple and almost unassuming as desserts and tarts go. I can say that Grandma definitely wasn't impressed at all. Her comment? She 'didn't dislike it'... Okay, so Grandma's comments aside, give this recipe a try. I used a recipe from foodnetwork.com and it seemed to work really well (I used a heavy casserole dish instead of a dutch oven). So, basically this is an eggy sort of cherry tart. Can also be made with pears or other fruit, but cherry is most common. It is not very sweet (only a 1/4 cup in what will become about eight portions). It is (I believe) traditionally a Frech breakfast food. And, hey, I'm hooked. If I could have this every morning, I might actually eat breakfast.

So, sorry for the disorganized post (looking back through I can see that it's dotted liberally with parantheses...). Enjoy your Saturday, and here are some pictures for you as you go.

Clafoutis just out of the oven.




First cherries of the season

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Again (with an Update)

Hi guys,

Know I've posted this already, but I wanted to post again to see if you all could lend any more advice/insight (and thank you, Nat, for your comments originally). I wrote a post back in February about ideas for churches trying to 'bring in' our (as in twentysomethings?) demographic. If ya'll have the chance and have some thoughts, I'd really appreciate either a comment left our an email shot in my direction. I am getting ready to compile a 'report' of sorts for my uncle and just wanted to get as many opinions as possible.

(PS: Sorry if any of ya'll have tried posting comments and been unable. I was getting some random messages once in a while and was going to try to limit who could comment on posts. However, I selected the wrong item and limited the commenting only to myself... Lovely. I am a genius.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Weekend Update

(And, no, I wasn't thinking of SNL when I thought up that title -surprisingly enough)

Not much happening. Mother's Day is tomorrow. (Happy Mother's Day, Gina, Mom, and Grandma!) Got a beautiful hanging plant for Grams this afternoon. They are called Million Bells and look nice, and also are easy to maintain (Always a plus!).

Got to explore a new store today. Jenny B's Garden Spot may be a new favorite of mine. Not one I'll frequent very often, but a definite highlight. It is an all-organic, all-natural, etc., etc., nursery near where I live and I couldn't be more pleased with all the help from the knowledgeable staff. I love it when I can go in knowing nothing, ask all sorts of questions, and not feel like I'm annoying someone to death!

So, besides Grams' new hanging basket, I also picked up four Juliet tomato plants. Two are in pots and two will eventually be in beds and I think they'll work well. I have named two. Yes, I name everything. So Pot #1 and Pot #2 are heretofore known affectionately as... Frankie and Johnny. Hehehe. Yes. I know.


I am going to sound like such a nerd here... I got organic fertilizer (no, not that kind) and I am really excited. I am not really too thrilled with the idea of MiracleGro(r), so finding a natural, organic option was pretty cool. Meet Dr. Earth. I will let you know how he does this summer. :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Graduation Pictures (Anecdotes to Follow)

Dad, Mom, and I after graduation outside of the arena.


This illustrates how incredibly exciting the ceremony was. And an incredibly adorable little girl.


Me standing still. Waiting to go sit in a folding chair for two hours.


Grandpa Gl., Grandma Gr., Me, and other Grandma Gl.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ugh (that was a groan) and Other News

Allow me a moment to whine (You may skip past this section as I harbor no sadistic desire to put anyone through the ordeal of involuntarily listening to whining). I am so stinking tired. I have cranked out four papers, a senior project, and a research proposal all in the last three days and I am running on so little sleep, I am one of those inexplicable scientific phenomenons. Basically, I have had just enough sleep to keep me conscious -and that's about it. I realized that I probably needed some sleep last night when I realized that the letters shouldn't be moving around my computer screen and I shouldn't be seeing my MS Word document swim before my eyes...

So... (now that the whining's done!) I am looking forward to my half-week week off. I will have tonight and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights to catch up on sleep. :) And then it's back to work on Monday with the start of Spring Term classes. I am actually pretty excited about my classes for this semester. We have:

1) The Global Economy - Should be good, if I can keep my head above water in the Economics department.

2) Women Writers of the African World - Several good books for this class that I have wanted to read, but have never gotten the chance.

Anyways, I should head off. Hope you all are having a good week!

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I have to say something about a few new albums I am loving here. I don't know who's heard of whom, or which of you likes which bands, but there just might be something here for everyone.

1) Katie Herzig - Sampler on NoiseTrade.com - There is something about this music. It's fresh, light, and for some reason I just love it. She reminds me of Feist, but a bit more acoustic. Or somewhere between Feist and Regina Spektor? Anyway, take a listen. Her sampler is available for free on NoiseTrade.com.

2) Esterlyn - Sampler on NoiseTrade.com (are you noticing a pattern here?) - Good, new sound. However, be warned that it doesn't sound like they really have a defined style or genre here. If that's what you're looking for, steer clear of Esterlyn. Their sound changes from track to track, moving from Coldplay-esque, to rock, to almost bluegrass.

3) Ben Folds - Ben Folds Presents: University A Capella - If you are a Ben Folds fan and can appreciate a good a capella arrangement, check out this brand new album (released yesterday) covering some of Ben's top hits as sung and arranged by top university a capella groups from across the country.

Please note that I said you need to be able to apprecciate a capella music AND a Ben Folds fan.
If you are not both, you will likely find either a) the arrangements wacky (if you're the diehard Ben Folds purist) or b) find the lyrics too provocative (if you intend to listen solely for a capella pleasure). Ben Folds has never been known to mince words and in a compilation of some of his top songs, it is expected to be more of the same. ...with a new twist.

4) Vitamin String Quartet - Vitamin String Quartet Performs AC/DC - As some of you may know, I am a fan of such bands as the Section Quartet and Apocalyptica that take hard/classic rock standards and play them on chamber music instruments. Yes, the premise sounds a little weird, but it is truly amazing. I have recently discovered another to add to the list. Vitamin String Quartet. Heard them on Pandora for the first time yesterday with a sweet version of the AC/DC standard "T.N.T".

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On a side note: received my Lambda Alpha honors stole and cloisonne pin last week for graduation. Just a tiny bit excited about that. Might post pictures if I'm feeling particularly full of myself.