Wednesday, December 31, 2008

book comments 11 (including "twilight"! and my book-count for 2008)

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien
--nth re-read
--more enjoyable every time, like visiting old friends
--Whoever does the movie(s) had better not mess up. ;o)
--highly recommend, of course--it's Tolkien! ;o)

"The Children of Húrin" by J.R.R. Tolkien (published posthumously)
--a story from Tolkien's Middle-Earth, taking place more than 6000 years before the events in "The Hobbit" and LOTR
--heart-breaking tale of one man's life and the end results of pride
--strong, vivid characters; excellent world-building
--fascinating thread in the tapestry of Tolkien's mythology
--recommend, especially to Toklien/Middle-Earth fans

"Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer

consisting of:
"New Moon"
"Breaking Dawn"

--compelling story of "star-crossed lovers" ("lovers" in the emotional sense, not the physical): human Bella and vampire Edward
--excellent character development of main and side characters
--main character's "voice" is strong, interesting, easily distinguishable
--Meyer has a great grasp on how to create the kind of conflict and tension that keeps a reader turning pages....frantically, intently turning pages. ;o)
--great world-building
--contrary to probable expectations, I am actually going to give a little criticism here ;o)
--Bella's low self-esteem is off-putting. I've read the series twice now, and her low self-confidence bothered me even more the second time. HOWEVER, that is Bella's tragic flaw (aside from loving a vampire, of course ;o) and Meyer resolves it in grand, page-turning fashion over the course of the series and especially in the fourth book.
--Also, Meyer's overuse of adverbs and extravagant dialogue-descriptors ("whispered," "sneered," "hissed," "moaned," "snarled" -- instead of a simple "said") really bothered me as a writer. And as a reader. However, this also improved through the course of the series--as though Meyer grew as a writer while Bella grew as a character. Which is just as it should be. ;o)
--forget the Harry Potter comparisons here--apples and kiwis--the two series aren't anything alike--only their readers are
--for "vampire" lit, this is refreshingly lacking in extraneous sex, even though the sexual tension between the two MCs is tangible
--also refreshingly lacking in extra-marital sex and vulgar language
--recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy, young adult literature, "vampire" lit, chick lit, "coming-of-age" lit, etc.

"The Host" by Stephenie Meyer
--billed as "sci-fi for people who don't like sci-fi," and I agree with that assessment even though I love sci-fi
--written for an adult audience, but also a great read for young adults
--I'll admit, it took me a good 20 or 30 pages really to get into the story, but the conflict between the MC and the "Seeker" really hooked going back after that. ;o)
--easily one of the most enjoyable sci-fi novels I've ever read
--fresh, original treatment of "cliché body-snatching"
--great writing
--I'll be reading this one again and again.
--highly recommend

Courtney's Total Count of Read Books for 2008: 51.5 (That .5 is because I never did finish Wolfe's "Man in Full," and I ain't gonna.) ;o)

[Addendum: I realized today that the actual count is 56.5, because I forgot that I re-read the first five books of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series. But I'll wait to comment on that humdinger when I've acquired and re-read the final two books of the series.

(*snort* I said "humdinger.")]

HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE, EVERYONE! I wish you all the best for 2009, and may many wonderful books find their way into your hands! *smile*

book comments 10 (three high recommendations)

Not-so-recent and recent fiction:

"The Dark Is Rising Sequence" by Susan Cooper
consisting of:

"Over Sea, Under Stone"
"The Dark is Rising"
"The Grey King"
"Silver on the Tree"

--I don't know how many times I've read this series since I was a young teen.
--this was my first re-read as an adult
--initial reaction: These books have been around since the 1960s....and they are better than Harry Potter. Gasp and egad. ;o)
--seriously, the characters, setting, "magic," and universe of Dark is Rising simply have more substance than Potter
--story of Good's triumph over Evil because the main characters overcome their own failings, resist temptation, and place their trust in wisdom
--adult Potter fans will enjoy these books if they also enjoy mythology and/or Arthurian legend
--highly recommend

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
--one of the best post-apocalyptic young adult novels I've ever read
--thoroughly compelling main character --> I laughed, mourned, agonized, wept, and triumphed with her.
--excellent world-building
--very well-developed supporting characters
--got to the end, read "end of book one" after the final paragraph, and literally said out loud, "OH YEAH."
--highly recommend

"Mark of the Lion I: A Voice in the Wind" by Francine Rivers
--thoroughly fascinating story of a Christian Jew, slave to Romans in the first century, after the fall of Jerusalem
--heart-breaking, heart-convicting main character --> I have never before found myself comparing my faith and my walk with God to that of a fictional character....and learning from her example.
--It took me about 50 pages really to get into the story, but once I was in, I was IN.
--excellent use of tension and conflict throughout
--got to the end and cried over it, then jubled when I realized that this one, too, has a sequel!!!
--HIGHLY recommend

book comments 9

Recent and not-so-recent fiction:

"Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood
--fascinating post-apolcalyptic story
--typical Atwood: lots of hinting at things to come, building suspense until you can hardly stand it --> page-turner!
--clever, subtle comment about the likely future of today's genetic science
--watch out for vulgar language and adult themes (i.e. slave prostitution, child pornography)
--recommend, but not for the faint of heart (or stomach)

"The War of the Flowers" by Tad Williams
--Mr. Williams really swings my verge. ;o)
--fresh, original treatment of the fantasy genre, including fantasy creatures that might be considered "cliché"
--a main character you can fall in love with because of his development throughout
--plot twists like you can't believe
--highly recommend

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl
--fun, warm, charming, witty, and sometimes morbid ;o)
--first-time read for me, and I now see that Johnny Depp's "Chocolate Factory" is much closer to Dahl's novel than Gene Wilder's "Willy Wonka"
--highly recommend for kids and adults

"Boy" by Roald Dahl
--and this one pretty much explains the oddness of "Charlie & Ch. Factory" ;o) (which is why I'm including it here, with the fiction, instead of with the non-fiction below)
--a collection of what Dahl remembers from his childhood
--fascinating look into what shaped him to become a writer
--fun, warm, charming, witty, and sometimes morbid ;o)

"MYST: The Book of Atrus" by Rand and Robyn Miller
"MYST: The Book of Ti'Ana" by Rand Miller
both with David Wingrove

--my second time to read these; the first was 10 or 12 years ago
--interesting plots, well-written characters, excellent world-building
--problems: As a writer, I often had trouble chewing my way through what I perceived as poor writing (grammar and spelling errors, shifting point-of-view in mid-paragraph...). My fingers often itched for a red pen.
--I sometimes got confused with what was going on, because I just couldn't picture in my head what the authors were describing.
--still, enjoyable storylines and characters --> great protagonist-antagonist relationships
--recommend to die-hard fantasy fans, but with reservations

"Winter of Fire" by Sherryl Jordan
--read this several times as a teenager; this was my first re-read as an adult
--enjoyed it even more this time than as a teen
--GREAT young adult fantasy novel
--compelling main character --> with excellent character development throughout
--exemplary world-building

book comments 8

Recent and not-so-recent non-fiction:

"Walking Through the Wardrobe: A devotional quest into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by Sarah Arthur
--a thought-provoking read
--practical, daily life applications
--challenges the thinking
--challenges readers to share their faith in a kind-hearted way
--highly recommend for (a) teens, (b) parents of teens, (c) anyone interested in the connections between Christianity and the fantasy genre

"High-Tech Worship? Using Presentational Technologies Wisely" by Quentin J. Schultze
--refreshingly candid look at how modern technology influences corporate worship and vice versa
--for the most part scripture-based, as far as I remember
--recommend for anyone involved in determining the course of worship services
--caveat: Readers will need to weed out some denomination-specific terminology.

"The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence
--I can't say enough good things about this book.
--in my mind, this ranks on the level of C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity"
--Brother Lawrence describes a covenant relationship with God boiled down to its fundamentals
--in modern parlance, this is a "how-to" book for how to love God--or maybe "How to Love God, For Dummies" ;o)
--highly recommend

"The Art of Coming Home" by Craig Storti
--excellent must-read for anyone transitioning "home" from another culture
--realistic, no-holds-barred, ACCURATE assessment of culture shock, re-entry shock, adjustment
--good warnings included (especially for those who think adjusting won't be a problem)
--highly recommend for those anticipating or experiencing a cultural transition
--especially recommend for the families and friends of culture-crossers

Homeward Bound: A Spouse's Guide to Repatriation" by Robin Pascoe
--another great must-read on what it's like to experience cultural re-integration
--perspective of a spouse not returning to a "normal" career path
--funny, gives an oft-needed, lighter perspective on transitional difficulties
--highly recommend

Sunday, December 28, 2008

oooh, a p.s. before bedtime

This year's Christmas presents, just for fun:

* "The Children of Hurin" by J.R.R. Tolkien (posthumously published)
* Mama's gray sweater, which is over 40 years old and which I've wanted since I was a kid
* earrings
* knit cap
* calendar of Chemnitzer pics
* comforter set, new pillows, sheets--our bed looks so pretty now!
* jar of Grandma's hot pepper jelly
* gift card to Kohl's
* yearly Christmas tree ornament (my parents have given me one every year of my life)

* and a well-needed reminder that most of the world didn't get any Christmas presents.

I am thankful for God's blessings.

Anybody like to share presents or thankfulnesses?

my to-do list


Let's have a moment of ponderous silence during which to ponder my ponderous accomplishment.






There, now, don't we all feel better? I thought so. ;o)

YAY AND HUZZAH, I FINISHED THE SECOND DRAFT OF MY NOVEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pop the corks and furl the bumbershoots! Switch your flip! Bring out your dead!


In case you can't tell, I'm rather excited.

Now that the 2nd draft is done, there comes a time of rest from noveling. I need to take a few steps back from the story before I start working on the 3rd draft in a month or so. Until then, I have a few projects in mind, many of which I have been putting off for just such a break-from-noveling occasion. They are as follows, and in random order:

* re-organize my closet and give away excess clothing, of which there exists too much
* organize all digital pictures from the last 15 months. uffda.
* and post a kabloollion pictures to Facebook
* finish the first draft of my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel (I did my requisite 50k, but the story itself is incomplete [and yes, I do realize that this would defeat the purpose of taking a break from noveling--but it *is* a different story, after all!].).
* get my book comment blogging up-to-date (I've got at least 10 books to do, probably more)
* buy some canvas and do some painting (which I haven't since August)
* find out how to go about volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House
* clean and re-organize my desk so that it actually fosters creativity instead of quashing it. uffda.
* spend my gift card
* write some people (and I mean the real kind, not fictional)
* update my journal
* answer blog comments
* blog about the writing life
* blog about "resonance"
* fix the problems with my Facebook Notes
* clean out my car (and give Jennifer her stuff)
* re-organize some of the kitchen cabinets and get rid of never-used implements
* get back into regular exercise

*** spend regular time with God--because I have been putting him off. I admit it.

I'll strikethrough each project as I finish it--except for the last two, because they need to be ongoing. :o) I'm sure there are other things I need to get done, or would like to (for instance, investigate the nature of the clattering-about my neighbor does in his kitchen at 11 o'clock every night), but these are the only ones I could think of right now. So, here's my list, and I'll be checking it way more than twice, and there you have it, and now I'm going to bed!

celebrating my 500th blopgost

Title is self-explanatory. ;o)

To celebrate said self-explanatoriness, as well as to celebrate my return to blogging after a long (for me) hiatus, I give you the following--and, I think, rather appropriate--quote:

"Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

"So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones. For someone like me, who grew up sealing my diary with a literal lock, this may be tough to accept. But under current circumstances, a defiant belief in holding things close to your chest might not be high-minded. It might be an artifact—quaint and naïve, like a determined faith that virginity keeps ladies pure. Or at least that might be true for someone who has grown up 'putting themselves out there' and found that the benefits of being transparent make the risks worth it.

"Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. 'Do you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.'

"That’s a cool metaphor, I respond. 'I actually don’t think it’s a metaphor,' he says. 'I think there may actually be real neurological changes involved'..."

--from "Say Everything" by Emily Nussbaum"
(long article, but very worth the read, if you'll give it about 15 minutes)

Things that make ya go "hmmmmm...." That, or oo-ee-oo-ah-ah.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ich denk an euch

Hallo ihr Lieben!

Ich hatte dies eigentlich gestern Abend geschrieben, aber Gesichtsbuch hat's irgendwie von alleine gelöscht. Naja, mal sehen ob' diesmal klappt....und ausserdem trifft's heute genauso zu wie gestern! ;o)

Ich sitze hier und geniesse den schönen Anblick unserer Weihnachtsdeko. Ed und ich haben gestern schon gescmückt, aber soeben hat er den letzten Schwibbogen aufgestellt. "We have hübsche Lichter!" sagte ich. ;o) In einem gestrigen "status update" hab ich erzählt, dass wir unsere Weihnachtsdeko das letzte Mal vor zwei Jahren sehen durften--denn letztes Jahr blieb alles eingepackt vom Umzug. Ich denke daran, dass wir diese schönen Sachen--und das meiste stammt aus'm Erzgebirge!--das letzte Mal zusammen mit euch geniessen durften.

Ich wollte euch also nur mitteilen, dass ich an euch denke. Ich weiss, ich hab im letzten Jahr schrecklich wenig von mir hören lassen. Aber trotzdem denke ich täglich an euch, vermisse euch, und habe euch alle sehr, sehr lieb!

Eure Courtney :o)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

courtney needs...

I Googled "Courtney needs," left out the lists other Courtneys throughout the world have posted on their blogs, and came up with:

1. Courtney needs a little help.
2. Courtney needs to lay off the plastic.
3. Courtney needs a new camera.
4. Courtney needs some love. (Awwwww....)
5. Courtney needs a parent. (No surprise there... ;o)
6. Courtney needs to be cleaned up.
7. Courtney needs something more.
8. Courtney needs to gain a perspective. (Which one?)
9. Courtney needs to get treatment. (Oooh, news flash!)
10. Courtney needs a bit more help. (Ha! Bookends!)

And, since I know Ed won't do this, and I find it amusing, here's his list (with his permission!):

1. Ed needs a Hummer. (That's a matter of opinion!)
2. Ed needs a miracle.
3. Ed needs to know about it.
4. Ed needs an IT Policy Task Force. (Don't we all?!)
5. Ed needs attention. (Oooooh, pick me, pick me! ;o)
6. Ed needs a break. (I second the motion.)
7. Ed needs support.
8. Ed needs disclosure. (Eh?)
9. Ed needs more good years.
10. Ed needs your help.

Apparently, Ed and I are in need of assistance. Any volunteers? ;oD

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've been NaNoing. Long story short, November is National Novel Writing Month, during which writers commit to writing a 50,000 word novel from Nov. 1st-30th. All of my writing energy has been going into my NaNo, which is why my blog has suffered. However, I decided to stick something fun in here tonight before I call it a day.

In order to check my current word count at, I encrypted my novel before sending it through their online validator. (Microsoft Word tells me my word count is at 37203, but NaNoWriMo's validator claims I'm only at 36968. Oh well, eleven more days to add some extra padding on top of getting to 50k.) For fun, here's an excerpt from the encrypted text. Enjoy:

...Kallardra spollargglarpsop. “Seyke you would kpollaw, Mbuzzss BUZZ Seyve BUZZn Glde Seyt Departmallart Busbuzzness Bubuzzldbuzzng. BUZZs buzzt gglarpso late gglarps add cluises?”

“’Course pollat, dist, buzzt’s glde fbuzzrst week of schois. What, you’re gofarna take up sbuzzngbuzzng, just seyke gldat?”

“Your mom’s a dist. Aild gldat’s what vobuzzce teechers are for. Gglarps teech sbuzzngbuzzng.”

“Your face,” Klufarnbuzzfer ailswerglarp.

“Chbuzzldrallar, chbuzzldrallar,” BUZZ murmurglarp, fbuzzghtbuzzng...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

transitional meltdown revisited

Things finally came to a head today. I'd been feeling the malaise (or ennui, if you will) coming on, and I'd been doing various creative, spiritual, and mental/emotional health exercises to stave it (that is, the malaise/ennui) off. But I knew that at some point, something was gonna give. I asked the house church to pray for me yesterday, so I knew that God would get something done, one way or the other.

God seems to answer my prayers in the grocery store a lot. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sort of.

So this afternoon, I got ready to go to the grocery store. Crest, to be specific. I finally remembered to bring along my cloth bags and Klappkiste (? a foldable plastic box, great for carrying stuff, staple in every German household). I debated taking the cloth bags into Crest with me and asking the bagger simply to bag my purchases in my personal bags. I decided against that, though, figuring it might throw the bagger for too much of a loop.

Because, as you know, friends and neighbors, baggers don't like to be thrown for loops. I didn't know that before this afternoon, but I sure as turkey-at-Thanksgiving know it now. My leaving the cloth bags in the car must have been prophetic. But again, I'm getting ahead of things.

Went to Crest. Shopped for groceries. Couldn't find chicken broth. Found lots of new food for Pippin. Gave up on chicken broth. Chicken broth and catfood not related.

When I arrived at the cash register, I told the bagger that I'd like for him to place all my groceries directly in a cart without bagging them. The bagger in question made an affirmative noise--"Mmhm" or "Okay" or somesuch. I turned my attention to the cashier and the growing total on his screen as he scanned my groceries.

A few moments later, I looked to my right and saw the bagger putting my squash and northern beans into a paper bag.

"Oh, I'd like for the groceries to go into the cart," I said again, thinking maybe he didn't hear me the first time. "I don't want any bags."

He bagged a can of catfood. "Well, I'm really not supposed to let you do that."


My brain tried to process for a second. Didn't succeed. See, this is the part where the cultural transition issues come into play: I couldn't grasp all the implications of what he was saying. It was literally impossible for me to shift gears in my mind. I grabbed onto the first thing that popped into my head, probably chipping off a few mental teeth in the process.

I would love to say that I replied to him with gentle, polite, but firm insistence.

Instead, all that came out was, "What happened to 'the customer is always right'?" And it was rather snippish, too. I was mortified at my own rudeness, but plowed ahead anyway. "I really don't want any bags."

"Well," said he, "we've been having problems with people stealing food."

I felt my mouth drop open. Rationality was making a hasty exit. I looked from him to the open exit or eight feet away. How would I steal food, going from this register out that door? Do you want to watch me?

Aloud, I said, "I'll be going from here--" pointing at my feet "--to there--" pointing at the doorway close at hand.

He glared at me. At least, it seemed like a glare. It could have been an expression of abject disappointment in the way his day was going. I don't know. He kind of mumbled something. I gestured in the general direction of the shopping cart. "Please just put the groceries in the cart. I really. Don't. Want. Any. Bags."

He began taking catfood, beans, and other items out of the bags and putting them into the cart. As I turned away with a world-weary sigh, he muttered, "All right, but it won't be my fault if you get stopped."

I forbore replying to that. This whole time, the cashier had continued merrily scanning items and sending them in the general direction of the recalcitrant (!) bagger. The total had risen, but I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to get out of there.

I finally got out of there. I told the bagger, "Thank you for your cooperation," and said it with a smile. I pushed my cart the seven or eight feet from the register to the open doorway. I neither stole food, nor did anyone accuse me of any crimes. I drove home and put away the groceries.

Ed walked in the door, and I cried because I hadn't cooked anything and had bought the wrong kind of light bulbs.

"All I wanted," I wailed, "was to do something good for the environment! I wanted to save some trees! I just wanted to shop the German way!"

A big part of why I'm okay now is that I have a husband who listens, who doesn't care that there's no food, who's perfectly happy to make his own supper, and who lets me cry when I need to. He's amazing. God is amazing, for blessing me with Ed.

So there's the most recent story of my cultural transition. We're approaching the one-year mark, and I think I'm doing pretty well. I'm aware of moments like this afternoon, I recognize them for what they are, and I process them. I don't fret about why this is happening to me or about whether or not this is ever going to go away. I know that eventually, because I have God, I'll be fine. No matter what happens. He has brought me through worse than this.

It's funny, though, how my major meltdown moments are connected with stores. This one at Crest, a previous one at Buy-for-Less. A few years ago on furlough, I had one at Wal-Mart, and in Chemnitz, I had one at IKEA (a sofa and a credit card were involved). That just goes to show what an integral part necessities-shopping is in culture.

And that's all I have to say about that. :o)

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sony has recalled a new game for its Playstation3. "LittleBigPlanet" isn't even on store shelves yet, but it's being recalled because in some of the background music, the singer quotes two verses from the Qu'ran. This is offensive to Muslims, so the game is being recalled and the offensive content deleted before the game goes back to stores.

Fine. I have absolutely no problem with that.

But if the content had been something like, oh, I dunno...language offensive to Christians, or inappropriate use of God's name, or something of that sort...would anyone have even considered recalling the game?

I doubt it.

Heaven forbid we offend any particular group of people. Except Christians. They're free game, didn't you know?

2. Timothy 3:12.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

assistance, please; and a few good words

So, I'm entering my hand-written revisions of my first draft into the digital file of the novel. As I knew I eventually would, I have found a sample of my own handwriting that I cannot decipher:

"...if not for the pale furlges splotching her cheeks."

It might also be:

"...if not for the pale furtyes splotching her cheeks."


"...the pale furlyues splotching her cheeks."

I am perplexed. Personally, I think I like "furlyues" best--it appeals to my sense of whimsy. I might have to start using that one in normal blogversation.

Care to venture a guess? You can haz cybercookeez!

Also, I'd like to note that "mellifluous" and "flabbergasted" are two of my favorite words.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

in which i discover why i hate commercials

It's because I didn't grow up watching or listening to them.

Growing up in Germany, I watched AFN: the American Forces Network. For various and sundry reasons--most, I'm sure, having to do with copyrights and trade agreements and the Geneva convention or somesuch--AFN doesn't air commercials for products on the US market. AFN airs commercials for the US Armed forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force.

So, growing up, I never saw commercials for Cheerios and Windex and Chevy and Atari. (Aye, I hearken back to the '80s, y'all.) Now that I'm an adult, I feel that most TV commercials do little more than insult my intelligence. That probably makes me a snob, but c'est la vie. I can't think of one product I own as a result of seeing a commercial on television. My instinctive reaction to commercials is: "Go away. When I want something, I'll ask for it." (This is also my instinctive reaction to salespersons in department stores, but that is another rant and shall be ranted another time.)

Come to think of it, since I grew up watching info-spots for military service, it's a wonder I didn't join the Army or something. Of course, they wouldn't have taken me anyway, what with the arrhythmia and all. Anyway, here are some of the "jingles" from *my* childhood. You other TCKs out there, feel free to chime in! ;o)

Be all that you can be!
Find your future in the Army!
We're looking for a few good men.
The few. The proud. The Marines.
You shoulda had a sponsor.
Practice good OP-SEC.
Fly Space-A.
Report fraud, waste, and abuse.
Dial 1-1-0. A Polizei emergency team will respond when you need it.
Be a designated driver.
Visit your Recreation Center.
No "jingle" per se, but there were the warnings about suspicious briefcases or packages that might be bombs.
How to marry a local national.
Follow the chain-of-command.
Don't accept gifts from subordinates.
Life. Be in it.
Assorted food-pyramid spots.

Oh, and don't even get me started on some of the random kids' shows on Saturday mornings! Jem & the Holograms, Bravestar, Galaxy Rangers....some great ones like The Electric Company, Big Blue Marble, 3-2-1 Contact....ahh, those were the days. ;o)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

why you don't have enough money...and more important things

I just read this great quote about financial wisdom, so I thought I'd share it here:

"While your job doesn't necessarily need to be your dream job, you need to enjoy it. If you choose a job you don't like just for the money, you'll likely spend all that extra cash trying to relieve the stress of doing work you hate."
--Jeffrey Strain
"10 (More) Reasons You're Not Rich"

I believe this is one reason so many people

shop to make themselves feel better
buy stuff they don't need
own stuff they never use
want more and more stuff
have credit card debt
can't get rid of their stress
feel as though they're stuck in a life they don't want

God built certain skills, talents, abilities, and passions into each of us. I believe that most humans do things with their lives that don't accord with their skills, talents, abilities, and passions. And I believe that's why so many people are so miserable (aside, of course, from the fact that many don't have God in their lives in the first place): They have chosen a life that doesn't correspond with what God has designed into them individually.

What are your dreams? What are your passions? Whatever they are, God has built them into you, and he has provided you with right ways to follow them. (*Right* by his definition, not according to human standard.) He has created you in his image: He followed his passions by creating the universe and all the diverse life in it, he wants you to follow your passions, too.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

important kilometerstone

Ten years ago right now, Ed and I were sitting in Chili's (for my German readers: it's a sort of Tex-Mex restaurant), eating supper. We had just left our wedding reception and gone to our hotel, only to realize that we'd had nothing to eat but cake and punch since lunch. (It would be years, however, before we realized that we were poets and didn't know it.) Figuring that the rest of the, er, evening would go better if we had something to eat, we took refuge at Chili's--Ed in his tux, I in my blue evening gown.

It's weird to think that we've been married ten years. I don't feel old enough to have been married ten years! I remember being a teen and thinking that people who'd been married this long seemed really old--not in a decrepit sense, but so much wiser and more sophisticated than I.

I guess I don't feel wise or sophisticated enough to have been married ten years.

Whatever that means. ;o)

It hasn't been ten years of so-called "wedded bliss." I don't believe such a thing exists. We've had our troubles, our infuriatings, our upsets, our hair-rip-outs. There've been times neither of us was happy.

Such is marriage.

Is it worth it?

Beyond doubt, it is.

Last Sunday, Rob preached a sermon about marriage, and he said something that I think might be the most significant statement about human relationships I have ever heard:

God designed marriage not so much to make us happy as to make us holy.

Marriage has taught Ed and me patience, self-sacrifice, respect, mercy, compassion, honor, courage, exhilaration, commitment. Perhaps we could have learned these elsewhere--and perhaps not. Perhaps God knew that we needed each other and our shared experiences in order to learn these things.

And there's more to learn. There are more *new* things to learn (especially if/when we have kids!). We're not finished--we've barely scratched the surface, chipped the tip of the iceberg, shaved the top layer off the cliche. ;o)

Ten years is but a small step (my grandparents celebrated 68 this August!). I hope and pray that God will bless us with at least ten more years of life, so that we can take another step. Another ten after that, another step. I'm thankful that Ed will be at my side for as many steps as God wants us to take.

I love you, honey!

Monday, September 29, 2008

a lot of modern music just doesn't swing my verge

I would like to comment on a trend that seems to have exploded in the modern music scene over the last few years. I'm not going to speculate on where it originated or why it originated. But it seems to be proliferating itself exponentially--judging by the number of qualifying songs floating around on today's airwaves.

Anyway, the trend is this: twentysomething males with whiny, nasal voices who sound as though their throats are so closed off, only the barest thread of voice escapes in between their overabundance of glottal stops.

My comment: I don't like it. It makes my larynx ache.

Friday, September 26, 2008

in which i announce my intnin

Um, something happened with my keyboard up there. That's supposed to be my intention, namely, that

if I finish working through the entire hard copy of my first draft

by October 31

then I will be participating in this November's National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo

(and the idea I will explore in this particular NaNo is one that came to me in a dream this past spring).

Details to follow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

in which i admit to linguistic failings of my own, gasp and egad


People who know me know that I'm kind of a stickler for correct spelling and grammar, which might possibly be the understatement of the millennium. But the millennium is young yet, so we shall see. Anyway, if you care to peruse the menus on the right side of my blog, you'll find my "Grammar and Spelling Pet Peeves," or some title to that effect. Clicking on that link will take you to said peeves, where you can view my personal collection of observed grammar and spelling errors. Maybe there are a few of you out there who actually care about that sort of thing. I don't know. Maybe the course of the millennium will discover some converts to my way of thinking.

Or maybe not.


Anyway, the point is...the point is....("Oh...I've forgotten the point." --"The point is that when Mr. Larabee finds out I'm not really Eunice, he's gonna think you tried to put something over on him, and it's bye-bye twenty-thousand smackers.")



So, I'm editing Chapter 16 of my book, and a spelling error caught my eye. This wouldn't be such a big deal--it could just be a typo, y'know--except that I've observed the same error in multiple places in the manuscript. Details as follows:

Apparently, I don't know the difference between "rein" and "reign."

Of the two, the one I *need* most in the story is "rein"--as in, the reins of horses, taking the reins, reining a horse (or a person) in, etc.

What I actually *used* in my first draft is "reign"--as in, a monarch's reign, the reigning ruler, etc.

Note to self: There is quite a difference between

"I reined in the horse"


"I reigned in the horse."

The latter would be, I imagine, fairly uncomfortable, not to mention a thing of impossibility in our dimension. Unless, of course, you happen to be Groucho Marx. Which I don't.

Monday, September 22, 2008

ahh, memories

Shortly after getting up this morning, I thought of this, and it made me laugh.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

i heart linguistics

Today, I read a terrific thing in Craig Storti's "The Art of Coming Home". Apparently, in Kenya, there is a curse that goes something like this:

--Your mother was a chicken, so you had to suckle a cow.

I am quite gratified that in this topsy-turvy world, the universality of your-momma jokes remains comforting and constant.

It also reminds me of a German saying that doesn't translate so well but still retains great amusement value:

--I've already seen horses throw up in front of the pharmacy.

I see your blank stare, and I raise you one sampling of flabbergasted befuddlement. ;o)

Friday, September 19, 2008

the internet might have to go

Fundamental truth: Time I spend on the Internet--blogging, Facebooking, reading Yahoo comics, reading articles on writing or on the mating habits of the South American aardvark--all is time I could be writing.

Should be writing.

Want to be writing.

I try to explain to people that I get a kick out of sitting at my computer for 4-7 hours a day, putting words to screen (or, as I've been doing recently, editing and revising two huge ringbinders full of double-spaced, double-sided manuscript). Many of said people are encouraging. Many of said people look at me as though I have a multi-warted fungus sprouting between my eyebrows. The point, however, is that I *love* to write, and I don't necessarily need anyone else to validate that.

(Though I will freely admit that said validation is balm to a writer's soul; and I am blessed to have a husband who supports me fully in my creative endeavors. Thanks, Schatzi!)

Anyway. So, I get a kick out of writing. I also get a kick out of my online activities. What with all the kicking--and in opposite directions, most of the time--I'm starting to feel a little bruised.

The Internet is a black hole that sucks me in and, when it does spit me back out again, does not necessarily deposit me in the known universe, much less in the universe I would like to occupy: the novelling one. I just read a great quote here from Jeff Vandermeer, who says,

"The writer me is monosyllabic, doesn’t care if his beard grows down to his ankles, scribbles notes on little bits of paper, takes long walks in the woods mumbling to himself, maps out character positions in rooms and notes where the light is coming from, doesn’t answer the phone, and isn’t fond of talking to people.

"The other me is, in general, chatty, sociable, likes talking to people and putting people in contact with one another, and uses the Internet to make friends, advance projects, and communicate a love of books."

That pretty much describes me, except for the beard part.

On that same webpage, Carolyn Kellogg asks,

"What if typewriters had also been telephones? What if you could press the top of your legal pad and have today's newspaper pop out? What if your fountain pen broadcast your favorite talk radio station? Today, when the tool of novel-writing is also the primary tool for all kinds of communication, it seems like a miracle that anybody ever gets anything (longer than a blog post) written."

I'm not announcing my renunciation of all Internet activities.

I am, however, reminding myself on one hand of my priorities and of the insidious nature of distractions.

On the other hand, I do know that all work and no play makes Courtney a *very* grumpy, *very* emotionally strung-out writer. Note to self: That's not okay.

The gripping hand (and major bonus points to those who get *that* reference) is that without the Internet, I wouldn't be writing this handy little reminder/informational in the first place.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

why being a TCK/expatriate is so weird

I've been reading "The Art of Coming Home" by Craig Storti. What follows are resulting ruminations.

Being a TCK means being a paradox that walks around on two legs and talks (sometimes sensibly, and sometimes not so sensibly). Here are a few illustrations:

I can travel around all of Europe, sleeping on trains, carrying nothing but a backpack, and enjoy it.
I can stand up to irate cleaning ladies in train station bathrooms and sling back as good as they're dishing out to me.
I can converse in three languages and order from menus in six.
I started traveling across the world by myself via airplane when I was 15. (And I've crossed the Atlantic more than fifty times.)
I have more than passing acquaintance with the cultures of four different countries.


I don't know how to use an ATM.
I don't know how to open a bank account.
Highway systems mystify me.
I wouldn't have a clue how to operate a gas oven.
I don't know how to buy a car.
I don't know how to buy a house.
I have a lot of trouble boiling eggs.
Until a few days ago, I'd never had a library card or checked out a library book on my own.
I don't know who the mayor of my city of residence is.
And a plethora of other things.

As a TCK, I have a storehouse of experiences and skills that enable me to function on a global scale. But when it comes down to some of the practical details of everyday life, I am often operating solely on guesswork.

I'm not bemoaning this; it is who I am. I don't feel any sort of desperation to "fix" the things on that second list. I am definitely interested in self-improvement, but most of those things, I figure, I'll learn in the course of life. I just thought I'd offer these two lists as an example of the TCK paradox--because unlike Tigger, I am not the only one. ;o)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

a first something! yay!

So on Saturday, Ed and I were driving south on Penn, when we passed the Village Library. I don't remember what I asked him about it or what he replied, but the end result of the conversation was that we turned around, drove back to the library, parked the car, got out, walked in, spoke to the receptionist...

...and I got my first library card. *Ever*.

Gasp and egad, right? How in the name of all that's Good and True and Writable in this world have I, writer extraordinaire and ultimate bookworm, managed to go thirty-one years without having a library card? It's not as though I've never before patronized a library--it's just that my patronization took place on the Army base, and Daddy was the one with the card. Plus, until recently, I always insisted on owning whatever books struck my fancy instead of simply borrowing them. Ed and I laughed about the fact that of the two of us, *I* am the avid reader, but he's the one who's had a library card in every city he has ever inhabited.

Holy moments of irony, Batman.

So on Saturday, to celebrate my new status as library-card-holder, I checked out John Scalzi's "Old Man's War," which I've been wanting to read because Wil Wheaton made me curious, and Roger Zelazny's "Princes in Amber" series, which I read in high school and have been wanting to re-read for about ten years.

Me happy. Like clam. End proverb.

Currently, I'm reading "The War of the Flowers" by Tad Williams, a copy of which I picked up at Barnes & Noble, where I went on Friday to console myself after Hobby Lobby didn't have the button-making-kit I was looking for.

It doesn't take a lot to make me happy. Really, it doesn't.

Yay, I can haz library bookz! Splendiforous!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

writing about writing

I can't promise that the following ruminations (I originally typed "rumniations," which I find rather amusing) will in any way segue (can I use that as a verb? Rule #152. Verbify anything.) into each other in a coherent fashion, but I'm not writing for publication here, so frankly, my dear, I don't give an unmentionable.

I've been wanting to write about my writing for quite some time, but, as other literati have said before me, when one is engaged in active storywriting, one finds oneself reluctant to channel much of that creative energy into blogging. I dunno know why, I just know that's how it works.

Whatever. I do know why. It's because the act of storywriting is such an intense process, there's simply no energy left for other writables (or, sometimes, anything else at all). Weekly, if not daily, I am stocking my creative pond (the pool where we all go down to drink, a la Stephen King, an image I wholly embrace) with creativity for my story, and I am intensely jealous of that creative energy. I want to channel it into the story, not into blopgosts that are, frankly again, not as valuable to me as the story itself.

Which is not to say that I don't care about my blog. Because I do. I'm only setting priorities here. Work with me, people! Gah.


That said, I give you the following: an excerpt from my journal, in which I expound upon my current noveling status. Please forgive the abbreviations and ellipses--I want to give you the journal excerpt without giving away parts of the story. So, without much ado about anything, an excerpt for your reading pleasure (or not, whichever the case might be):

September 4, 2008

While I ran this morning, I let my mind go over some possibilities for "Triad." Part of me is tempted to scrap the first half and re-write it, simply because the style of writing and the pace of the story are so different from what and how I wrote the second half. [Note: I know this sentence is grammatically horrid, but in my journal, I free-associate without editing, so there ya go.] This is what happens when one spend four years on the first half and four months on the second. ;o)

However, I'm putting the scrap-temptation on hold for now. First, I want to see what I can do with that first half in my second-draft edit, which I'm working on now. I've gone through eleven chapters--all in the second half. I'm reserving final judgment on the first half until I've worked through it again.

But back to the possibilities I was permutating on my run. Liz "Engstrom" Cratty, my Writer's Digest Novel Writing Workshop mentor [three? years ago], suggested I start the story with R.'s and Ch.'s capture... I don't believe that's the best starting point, as so much of the backstory would get lost, and explaining everything later would bog down the rest of it.

However, I wonder if the *argument* between R. and Ch. *would* be a good starting point...

I think I'm coming to the conclusion that my current Chapter One, in which D. and the guys break into the belltower and R. thwarts them, does not a good Chapter One make. *Prologue*, maybe. But for a first chapter, it doesn't get things moving quickly enough. I need a start with more tension...

...and the argument between R. and Ch. might just be it.

Of course, then I'll have to decide whether to make the break-in scene a prologue (in which case, it'll have to be *way* shorter) or toss it. I like the shorter prologue idea. If I toss it [current Chapter One], then Ill have the backstory bogdown again.

So, let's say the break-in is a prologue, and Chapter One begins with the argument. '"_______________!" ___________________________' might be a good opening line. [Hee hee.] Then what? I'd send R. directly to the T.s' (after the argument, of course), which would bypass N.H. entirely; if I didn't bypass her, I'd get into a bog again, interrupting R.'s storming out of the tower. (And what if R. failed to secure the lift before leaving? This could add some tension, because she'd worry about Ch. all the way to the T.s'...)

I've wondered for a long time whether or not I. needs a greater role, and if so, how to give it to her? Well, what if I combined I. and N.H. into one character? Perhaps I.'s mother was from the H. family....Hmmm.....

I'm getting ahead of myself, because these are all things to consider *after* I go through the text and finish my second draft. But it's good to get these ideas on paper. They've been in my subconscious for awhile, so this has helped me gain some clarity. My concentration on the second half will be better now...

< /journal entry >

Since I wrote that, I have gone through several more chapters and have finished a total of seventeen! That means eighteen more to go. When I say "finished," I mean that I have gone through the hard copy pages, marking with colored ink anything that needs changing/improving. When I'm through with this manuscript, every single page will be bleeding pink, purple, blue, or green, depending on which gel pen I used.

Have I mentioned I'm having a blast with this? Please to be noting my quote from a few days ago: "One of the best things about being a writer is that I get to go to work in nothing but my underwear, if I want to." I wrote that. You can quote me on it.

After I've gone through the hard copy pages, I will enter all the changes into the computer document and print it all out--that will be my second draft. Then, I'll begin re-structuring the parts of the story that don't work. *That* will be the hard part....because, as Mr. King teaches (in "On Writing"--a writer's bible, I swear), in order to create a working story, you must "kill your darlings." Meaning: I gotta cut out parts of the story I love but that don't fit.

That's where the other quote from a few days ago comes into play: "Psychologically speaking, writing a book is like getting into a knife fight with yourself in a phone booth" (The Waiter). When I "kill my darlings," I'm going to be fighting myself, and it's not going to be pretty.

You've been warned.

That's all for now. I hope you've enjoyed this look into One Writer's Mind. Metaphors be with you.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

prelim thoughts about writing

Two things regarding writing, upon which I wish to ruminate in the near future:

1. A great quote I ran across this evening:
"Psychologically speaking, writing a book is like getting into a knife fight with yourself in a phone booth."
--The Waiter

2. A great thought that percolated through the coffee filter of my brain a few days ago:
One of the best things about being a writer is that I get to go to work in nothing but my underwear, if I want to.

That's all for now. More later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


What's funny is when you make coffee, and the whole pot of water has run through, and it's only then that you realize you didn't actually put any coffee in.

La la la....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

pamcake puns--not for the faint of heart

Conversation during last weekend's Infamous Saturday Pamcake Breakfast at Sullivans', The Oklahoma Files:

Courtney: The older I get, the sicker I get anytime I go on amusement park rides. I used to love them, but now I can't handle them anymore.
Jennifer: That's because your vestibular system changes as you get older.
Courtney: My what?
Jennifer: Your vestibular system.
Courtney: I have a vestibular system?
Joel: Do you feel self-conscious now?
Courtney: Yeah, I do...I don't know if I want people looking at my vestibule.
Jennifer: Not vestibule, vestibular.
Pam: Is that Ferris's brother?


Monday, August 18, 2008

book comments 7

What a blogging roll I’ve been on lately. Ha ha. ;o) Here are some more book comments for your perusal. I love it that reading fiction is part of my job now…and I am also really enjoying writing comments on all these books, even though I keep letting them pile up until there’s a huge stack to comment on all at once.

*singing* “Darling, I don’t know why I go to extremes…” (Thank you, Billy Joel. ;o)

Onward! for I have many books to review, and I suspect that only my hardiest readers will be sticking with me on this one. I’ve been reading a lot the last few months. ;o)

"Gretchen, I Am" by Reverend Carroll E. Jay
--ooh, a story about possession!
--allegedly a true story of how a 1970s Ohio housewife is possessed by the spirit of a 19th-century German girl
--has potential, right?
--written by the housewife’s husband, whose tone is pedantic when it isn’t put-upon and condescending
--literally, one of the worst books I’ve ever read
--This is what sometimes happens when you buy 90¢ used books at Goodwill.
--don’t recommend (the book, not Goodwill—sorry for the double negative)

"Sword-Dancer Saga" (novels of Tiger and Del) by Jennifer Roberson
--sword-and-sorcery in a setting that pits desert against icy mountains and male against (or with, as the case may be) female
--the adventures of male-chauvinist Tiger and fiercely independent Delilah
--wit, wisdom, action, magic, conflict, love, pretty much everything--what more could I want?
--I don’t know how may times I’ve read this series (6 books), but I re-read them again for fun this spring and thoroughly enjoyed them all over again.
--highly recommend

"The War of Souls, Volume One: Dragons of a Fallen Sun" (a Dragonlance novel) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
--first time in eleven years that I’ve read a Dragonlance novel
--fun, interesting, action, adventure, sorcery
--I got a little lost with all the recounting of history, since it’s been so long since I’ve visited the Dragonlance universe.
--Also, this seems to be set in something of an alternate universe, because a lot seems to have happened that I don’t remember having happened in the novels I read so long ago.
--I *loved* reading Tasslehoff Burrfoot again--didn’t realize I’d missed the little guy. ;o)
Addendum: And I *very* much missed Raistlin. *le sigh*
--recommend, but only to die-hard fantasy fans

"The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul" by Douglas Adams
--typical Adams in that it’s totally hilarious
--fun characters, even though the attitudes of some of the Norse gods irritated me a bit
--loved how very British it all is--I miss that dry sense of humor!
--I especially enjoyed the thread of the refrigerator throughout.
--recommend to anyone who enjoys a good satire and a good fantasy

"The Brontë Project" by Jennifer Vandever
--subtitled “a novel of passion, desire, and good pr”
--the most recent disappointment in my reading adventures
--story of the rivalry between a doctoral candidate with a Charlotte Brontë thesis and a French faculty member with a Diana Spencer obsession
--I was excited about this one, because I was intrigued by the Brontë connection and interested to see how the Diana mythology would fit in.
--story turned out to be an annoying, angsty (and most of you know how much I dislike that word, so you get a hint of how much this book irritated me) digression about one young woman’s inability to set any sort of boundary either internally or externally
--translation: The main character whined and refused to get a backbone through most of the story. I had a hard time sympathizing with her at all.
--What I really did enjoy, though, were the quotations from Charlotte Brontë at the beginning of each chapter.
--don’t recommend

"The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro
--the story of an English butler, post-WWII, looking back over his life and questioning whether or not he was justified in “just doing his job” by serving the people he has served; or if he should have taken more of a stand against certain decisions those people made; and whether or not he always acted correctly in various relationships
--fascinating look inside the mind of a gentle, quiet, subtle man whose life was one of noble servitude and, at the same time, unassailable pride in what he has accomplished
--poignant, heartbreaking; Ishiguro makes you fall in love with the main character
--As I was reading, I remembered that this story was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins. I’ve never seen the film; but as I read, I decided I must see it, because I could hear Hopkins’s voice in my head as I read. I suspect he was perfectly cast in the role.
--highly recommend

"Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire
--story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy and her little dog Dodo—I mean, Toto—arrived via twister
--basis for the musical “Wicked” (a musical which I still highly, highly, highly recommend!!!)
--SO much potential in this book!
--SO much about this one that I thoroughly disliked, I’m sad to have to say
--Unfortunately, this novel takes the innocence of “The Wizard of Oz” (film version) and tosses it into the gutter. There were so many sexual perversions in this novel, I really should’ve stopped reading. I didn’t. I kept thinking it would get better. It didn’t.
--very dark
--don’t recommend

BUT: I’ll say again that I DO recommend the musical “Wicked”—it takes the good parts of the storyline and brings back the fun and innocence of Oz that so many of us grew up with.

"The Soul Hunter" (Book 2 in the Day of Evil series) by Melanie Wells
--story of a woman named Dylan Foster who is struggling with her faith and is unwillingly drawn into the world of the supernatural by the evil plotting of a demon named Peter Terry
--fast-paced, full of dry wit and great dialogue…for all of which I am a total sucker ;o)
--creepy, because Wells does a great job of making the reader believe that this could happen to you
--I thoroughly enjoyed this one and intend to acquire Books 1 and 3.
--highly recommend

"The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff:You Wish" by Jason Lethcoe
--orphaned Ben makes a birthday wish and inadvertently jeopardizes the future of the entire world
--didn’t know wishes had so much power, didja? ;o)
--basically a children’s book endearing enough for an adult to enjoy
--totally sympathetic main character and fascinating magical universe
--This is what’s going on in our own backyard, and we don’t even know it.
--highly recommend to anyone who enjoys kids’ literature

"Little Altars Everywhere" and "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells
--the stories of Siddalee Walker and her mother, Viviane Abbott Walker, and the long-lost tribe of Amazon women known as the Ya-Yas in Louisiana of the 1900s
--I first read “Divine Secrets” when I was in college, but had never read “Altars” till recently.
--I’m reminded that “Divine Secrets” is one of my favorites, and I was so sorely disappointed in the movie when it came out.
--These books epitomize, to me, the power and sorrow and joy and incredible strength of female friendships.
--I think I dedicate my recent first reading (“Altars”) and my recent re-reading (“Divine Secrets”) to my fellow Ya-Yas out there. I love you, girls!
--highly recommend

This makes 30.5 books I’ve read so far this year! I say .5 because I never did finish Wolfe’s “Man in Full.” I just can’t do it.

Coming soon: a review of the “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

cultural transitions do funny things...

...for instance: Recently, I have discovered in myself a penchant for listening to loud, fast, hard music. Not at home, where I would bother the neighbors, but pretty much anytime I'm in the car by myself. Thanks to my dear friend who prefers I don't broadcast her generosity, I have a car--did I tell people that?--for which I had to pay only $1.00, and this car not only has more horsepower than I've ever driven regularly before, but it's also equipped with a lovely stereo system.

On top of that, I've found myself becoming more open to creative influences--including influences in music--lately, partially due to culture shock reactivity, and partially due to some of the insights I gained by working through Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way."

All of which is how I found myself driving south at 70mph on I-35 yesterday, rocking out to Metallica (Stefan, you'll be interested to know it was that "Sandman" song ;o) and AC/DC and REO Speedwagon.

Understatement: It was fun.

Understatement: I miss the Autobahn. ;o)

Friday, August 08, 2008

book comments 6 ("golden compass," finally!)

I am hereby making good on my promise that my next review would concern the controversial "Golden Compass" trilogy by Philip Pullman. Since it's been about 4 months since I made that promise (and to whom I made it, I haven't a clue, since I don't know who actually reads these book comments when I write them), I figure it's high time I gave my review and pointed my compass in a different literary direction. Pun fully intended, I assure you.

Anyone who wants a good synopsis of the books can type the titles into a search engine and find out everything knowable about the storyline without having actually read the books. What I will do is share what thoughts I have and, as always, encourage my readers to investigate for themselves and come to their own conclusions. As Levar Burton always said on Reading Rainbow, "You don't have to take my word for it." ;o)

ONE. The so-called "Golden Compass" trilogy consists of the following novels:

"His Dark Materials--Book 1: The Golden Compass"
"His Dark Materials--Book 2: The Subtle Knife"
"His Dark Materials--Book 3: The Amber Spyglass"

"His dark materials" is a quote from John Milton's "Paradise Lost," Book II, which Pullman quotes at the beginning of "Golden Compass." Some people probably jump on the ominous sound of "dark materials" and try to make it something insidious and sinister. All I can say to that is that perhaps a thorough and careful reading of Milton's masterpiece is in order.

TWO. When the controversy over the "Golden Compass" film was raging, I remember receiving various hysterical emails, warning against the atheistic nature of the storyline. Well, remembering back to what I read, I can recall only one definitely atheistic character: one Mary Malone, a former Catholic nun who lost her faith because (a) she thought that being a Christian meant she could never enjoy any kind of sensual pleasure, and (b) she decided that since her desire for pleasure was so strong, that must mean that God doesn't exist.

Of course, my summary is very subjective and--as is the nature of most summaries--brief. But that's the basic message that came across to me concerning the motivations behind this fictional nun's departure from faith. This former nun is also the source of the quote, "The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all" ("The Amber Spyglass," p. 393). Of course, this character would say that--this character is an atheist. Duh.

Former Sister Mary also says that she misses God "terribly. ...And what I miss most is the sense of being connected to the whole of the universe. I used to feel I was connected to God like that, and because he was there, I was connected to the whole of his creation" ("The Amber Spyglass," p. 399).

THREE. Some of you might also be interested in the idea that during the course of the story, two children (Lyra and Will) kill God. At least, that's what all the hysterical emails of last year claimed happens during the course of the story. Here's what really happens:

In the universe of Pullman's trilogy, an angel called "the Authority" has set himself up as "God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty--those were all names he gave himself" ("The Amber Spyglass," p. 28). The Authority has a Regent named Metatron.

By the time we join our heroes (Lyra and Will) on their quest, Metatron has begun a systematic takeover of the so-called "Kingdom of Heaven," and the Authority is basically a shell of his former self. When various angels and various peoples of various dimensions begin fighting back against Metatron, Metatron tries to sneak the weakened and debilitated Authority out of the back door.

Lyra and Will find the Authority, who is locked up in a crystal litter. The Authority is terrified and crying, and the two children decide to help him. But as soon as they open the crystal cage, because of his weakened state, he dissolves in a breath of wind.

So basically, the two children accidentally help a formerly devious, misguided, ex-powerful angel "die."

Does that sound to you like two children kill God in the story?

I didn't think so.

FOUR. It's interesting to me that the controversy over these books has been stirred up over only the last year or so, really, when the first of them was published in 1995 and the third one in 2000. Where was the upheaval thirteen years ago?

I guess that's a comment on how much more important movies are than books in today's Western society, considering that it was the impending release of the film (certainly not to be confused with proverbial impending doom) that caused so many people to get bees in their bonnets.

FIVE. It seems to me that in his trilogy, Pullman is attacking what he views as "the church."

This does not mean he is attacking God, even if he thinks he is attacking God.

This does not mean he is attacking Christianity, even if he thinks he is attacking Christianity.

Even if he is attacking organized, institutional religion in general, this does not mean that he is successfully attacking the heart of truth.

Pullman has bought into the idea--I'm going to call it the lie--that so many people believe: that a certain world-spanning, institutionalized, well-known religious organization is the be-all and end-all of Christianity.

He has bought into the lie that organized religion is the be-all and end-all of Christianity.

A quote from "The Subtle Knife" might illustrate best what seems to be Pullman's view of "the church": "...every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling" (p. 45). I say that if Pullman's writings manage to obliterate that kind of church, then I'm totally with him on that one.

If Pullman's writings somehow manage to topple a hierarchical, institutional organization that purports to be the church Jesus established but actually isn't, an organization which bears no resemblance to the God-willed community of the called-out (ekklesia)...if Pullman's writings manage to bring down that lie, then more power to him, I say.

SIX. I remember reading that Pullman allegedly said that he considers the "Dark Materials" trilogy to be the atheistic answer to C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia." (I'd like to note, however, that nowhere online did I find an article or interview in which Pullman made such a statement. If you can point me to a link showing his direct quote--and not an instance of hearsay, such as I am offering here--then please do so.)

My thoughts on this: If Pullman truly considers this trilogy to be his atheistic answer to Lewis's Narnia, then his answer is--from a literary and allegorical standpoint--wholly inadequate. Sounds harsh, I know...but in measuring himself against Lewis, Pullman invites readers to make the comparison. And in this reader's opinion, Pullman is not as skilled a writer as Lewis, and his writings show less depth of thought than those of Lewis. If Pullman wants to set himself up as a believeable Lewis-antithesis, he's going to have to do better than this.

SEVEN. That said, and in spite of my other criticisms, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the "Dark Materials" trilogy. Pullman is an excellent writer and, as it were, he "spins a good yarn." The plot is great; the devices are fresh and interesting; the characters are believable, endearing when they are supposed to endear, and revolting when they are supposed Um, yeah. ;o) (Lyra still annoys me a bit, but book-Lyra isn't as irritating as film-Lyra; besides, she shows quite a bit of development as a character over the course of the three books.)

EIGHT. To sum it up (hallelujah, right? ;o) --> These books are fiction. They are fantasy. They are not real. If you have an aversion to fantasy and imagination, you're not going to like these books. But then, if you have an aversion to imagination, you probably don't like a great many books, so it's a moot point, and I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to those who are concerned about the influence these books could have on their kids; to those who are considering reading these books for themselves.

If parents are teaching children the truth about God, then these books aren't dangerous in the least. (However, I personally wouldn't let my children read these books, simply because of some of the themes explored in them: divorce, extra-marital sex and homosexuality. I'm thinking that before age 13 would be too young.)

LAST. My recommendation: Read 'em. Put yourself in the mindset "fairytale," and read them. Enjoy the story. Then put the books back on your shelf and think about your faith. What do you believe? And why? And how can you use these books--and every other resource that life offers you--to introduce to God the people whom he misses most?

And that's all I have to say about that. ;o)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The International Friendship Song...

...courtesy of The Animaniacs and Professor Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeier

It's a wundervoll day in ze neighborhood, ja?
Now, let's do ze International Friendship Song, ja?


Ist das nicht ein piece of chalk?
Ja das ist ein piece of chalk.
Ist das nicht ein key and lock?
Ja das ist ein key and lock.
Piece of chalk, key and lock
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

Are we having fun yet?

Ist das nicht ein cuckoo clock?
Ja das ist ein cuckoo clock.
Does it nicht go tick tick tock?
Ja it does go tick tick tock.
Cuckoo clock, tick tick tock
Piece of chalk, key and lock
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

You see, it's a very easy song. Would you like to try?
Oh, gee, professor, that'd be great! What should I sing about?
Anything that you want. The secret is to just have fun, okay?

Ist das nicht ein piece of bread?
Ja das ist ein piece of bread.
Does it fit in Wakko's head?
Ja it fits in Wakko's head.
Piece of bread, Wakko's head
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

Here, let me try!

Is he not a cute man this?
Ja he is a cute man this.
Is this not a great big kiss? Mmmwah!
Ja das ist ein great big kiss.
Cute man this, great big kiss
Piece of bread, Wakko's head
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

Here, I've got one!

Ist das nicht Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeier?
Ja das ist Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeier.
Ist das nicht ein incredibly long name to have to try and say?
Ja das ist ein incredibly long name to have to try and say.
Cute man this, Great big kiss
Piece of bread, Wakko's head
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

Hey, you kids is pretty good!

We're just gettin' warmed up!

Ist das nicht ein Otto's gut?
Ja dis ist ein Otto's gut.
Ist das nicht ein Otto's butt?
Ja das ist ein Otto's butt.
Otto's gut, Otto's butt
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

Okay, I think you got the idea....

Ist das nicht ein pair of pants?
Ja das ist ein pair of pants.
Ist das underwear from France?
Ja dat's underwear from France.
Pair of pants, shorts from France
Otto's gut, Otto's butt
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

Ist das nicht ein hairy chest?
Ja das ist ein hairy chest.
Ist this man no longer dressed?
Ja this man's no longer dressed.
Hairy chest, he's not dressed
Pair of pants, shorts from France
Otto's gut, Otto's butt
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne
Oh, du schöne

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

transitional ruminations

I feel as though I'm overdue in penning some words about the cultural transition that Ed and I have been going through. To begin, I'd like to grace you with a top ten list that illustrates one of the frustrations that goes along with transitioning, namely, the fact that people often don't know what to say to us. (Please note that I am not angry over these utterances, but frustrated.)

Top Ten Things NOT To Say To Cultural Transitioners And Why
(in random order, though I have a particular dislike for #s 5 and 7)

1. How was your trip?
It wasn't a trip. It wasn't a vacation. It was my life. Please to be noticing the difference, thank you. ;o)

2. We've been praying for you to come back.
I think I know what you mean when you say that, and you might think that's a lovely sentiment. But when you say that, what I hear is that you've been praying for me to be separated from people and places I love. That's neither helpful nor encouraging.

3. You've got a lot of time on your hands now! You could (fill in blank with an activity or a job for which I have expressed no interest).
I didn't come back here with no plan of what I want to do with my life. This was not a spontaneous, frivolous decision. Much thought and prayer and planning went into it. Please don't assume I'm sitting around, bored, with nothing to do, just waiting for you to come rescue me with ideas that would make *you* happy.

4. Oh, you were in XLand? I was in XLand back in the '70s....XLanders are so (fill in the blank with a prejudice you developed while you were over there for two years 30 years ago).
Please don't assume your experiences were my experiences. Also, please refrain from telling me, based on your few months' experience, what the people of my homeland are like. Not to be snotty, but I do believe I know them better than you do.

5. Adjusting? Oh, give it a couple of months, you'll be fine.
I see. And the last time you went through cross-cultural reentry was...? Oh, you've never left your home state? Ah.

6. It's so good to have you back. I don't know why anyone would want to leave here in the first place.
(Okay, so nobody has said these words to me directly....but the implication is all over the place.) Well, probably because God created a whole, huge, interesting planet that I want to know about, not just a single continent.

7. I bet you're proud to be back.
I'm sorry, but I don't even know what that statement means.

8. It's good to have you back.
Why? You've never had more than two or three conversations with me. You don't know me. How could my presence possibly signify in your life one way or the other?
(Note: This truly applies only to those who haven't made an effort to get to know the returnee. If you do know me, and if you have made the effort, it is definitely heart-warming to hear you say that you're thankful for my being here!)

9. Aren't you glad to be back?
Yes. No. Maybe. Sometimes, the answer changes from one hour to the next. If you're not prepared to listen to an answer you don't really want to hear, please don't ask.

10. We're so glad to have you home.
This isn't my home. For one thing, I didn't grow up here. From that perspective, I haven't lived in my "home" for 12 years. For another, I spent the last 6 years building relationships and planting roots somewhere far removed from here. This isn't my home. This is your home. On this earth, I don't have a home. And actually, I'd like it to stay that way.

11. Unspecified.
Open to anyone who wants to share some of their own experiences of being on the receiving end of remarks of this sort, as well as dealing graciously with them. I don't always. Especially when it's stuff like #s 5 and 7. ;o)

Looking over the last 8 months (we have been here over 8 months--that is so weird), I can see a lot of lows, a lot of highs, a few plateaus, and some banged-up knees and elbows as we've tripped and fallen and sprawled flat on our faces and gotten back up again. I say "we" because Ed and I both have dealt with our share of spiritual and emotional scrapes and bruises...but really, I'm talking about my own transition here. Cross-cultural reentry is an intensely personal experience (which is what makes it so difficult to describe to anyone who has never experienced it), so each person's is different.

My lowest point so far was Earlyapril through mid-May. The bathtub incidents kind of set off the depression--but if it hadn't been the bathtub, it would've been something else. But I've had help. Help from a wonderful, loving God, who has sent wonderful, loving people into my life and placed me in loving, wonderful communion with them. I've had help through open, honest, in-depth conversation. I've had help through "The Artist's Way" (by Julia Cameron--THANK YOU, GAIL!!!), which is opening my eyes more and more to what it truly is that God created me to be. I've had help through a loving, wonderful, commiserating husband, who has actively grown with me even as he deals with his own transition issues.

I feel very blessed. I not only feel it, I *am* it, and I live it. I hesitate to say that I am learning to be content, since that is such a huge concept....but I think I am beginning to learn it. I am beginning to know why I am here, I am beginning to know what the next step could look like, and it's an unknown shape, but I'm excited about it instead of terrified. I feel as though I am unpacking my mind here, instead of merely unpacking cardboard boxes. I am beginning to travel light again, instead of schlepping around the misery of not knowing who I am. I am beginning to feel/see/hear reference points, reorient my inner compass, tune my inner self to the resonance of God's universe.

No matter what happens, I always know that eventually, I'll be at peace. Moving over here, finding myself in a low spot of sadness and depression, I knew that eventually I'd be at peace.

It's nice that at-peace is starting to happen again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

anybody like to help me out?

Okay, without going into a long spiel to try talking all and sundry into my plan, here's the deal:

I am in need of an extra $100.00 this month.

Would anyone like to brighten my corner by buying one of my oil paintings or commissioning one for that amount?

If you'd like to buy one, I have about 35 or 40 to choose from.

If you'd like to commission one, I'll need an advance. ;o)

Whoever's interested, let me know here, or email me!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

brain gearing up for weirdness, apparently

So last night, in two separate dreams, I dreamed that...

1. there were worm-hatching larvae in my hair, and...

2. I was searching through my high school, Georg-Büchner-Schule (GBS), trying to find my Religion class because I was absent on the day they handed out schedules. While I was searching, I ran into my ex-boyfriend and his wife, neither of whom have, to my knowledge, ever set foot in Germany. And in the dream, he was happy to see me, which, considering the actual past, I very much doubt would be an accurate reflection of reality.

I go through phases of bizarre dreams. Many of these bizarre dreams involve GBS and being unable to find something or do something correctly. Since that was pretty much the theme of my real high school years, this theme in my dreams isn't really surprising. But the really bizarre ones--such as larvae in the hair, or tentacles growing out of the face, or vampires being driven back by circles on the ground and chants in pseudo-Latin--the really bizarre ones generally crop up only when I'm stressed, or there's a lot going on in my life that needs processing.

Therefore, it's rather peculiar that I should dream something so weird (not to mention gross) at this point in time, because I haven't been feeling stressed. Yeah, I've had a lot to process of late, but it hasn't been *bad*...and the larvae dream was gross enough to wake me up and make me go into the bathroom to check my scalp.

I don't know what the GBS/ex-boyfriend dream was all about. Maybe there's no real interpretation to these dreams, and they really are the result of a hyper imagination.

I could well believe that, actually. ;o)

Monday, June 16, 2008

eleanor roosevelt

I just watched part of a documentary on Eleanor Roosevelt. I wish I'd seen the whole thing instead of just the last 20 minutes. I had no idea she was such an influential woman--so influential that she was known as "First Lady of the world." Not because of who her husband was, but because of who she was: an activist for human rights and equal rights all over the world. I didn't know that she was the driving force behind the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Apparently, she was also so vocal about equal rights in the USA, she received all sorts of death threats from the Ku Klux Klan. But she single-handedly stood up to the Klan--with nothing but an elderly friend and an pistol for backup--no police, no FBI, nothing--and, amid protests, went to a tiny little town and taught a workshop on how to break the laws against equal rights in existence at the time. She said that not standing up to them would be "cowardly."

She was definitely one classy lady. I wish there were someone of such high, ethical standards and moral values in US politics today. She would've made a terrific president.

Friday, June 13, 2008

human war and spiritual warfare: let's be honest about this

I read an article online today to which I prefer not providing a link. My reason for such recalcitrant (there's that word again!) secrecy is that I'm not sure I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in the article--or, rather, if I agree with the sentiments, I am quite sure I don't agree with the tone in which they are delivered. Either way, I don't think I want to have a link to the article on my blog, as I don't want anyone to associate me or my worldview with the attitude that comes through in the article.

However, I will let you know that the article was posted at, was written by one Lawrence Vance, and was dated June 12, 2008. Search for it if you so desire.

All of that said, I want to quote one particular statement from the article, a statement I find most true and telling:

"We hear more from the pulpit today justifying military intervention in the Middle East than we do about the need for missionaries to go there."

Does that hurt?

Does it hurt all of us who desire to follow Jesus?

Does it hurt any of us?

Does it prick our conscience at all?

It should. Because it's the truth.


...all comments answered, to my knowledge. FINALLY! ;o) You'll find the answers beneath the comments that inspired them.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

p.s. a novel update


I mentioned this on my Facebook status yesterday (as though Facebook had so Terribly Important A Significance in the Grand Scheme of Things), but thought I should record it here as well:

Yesterday (having been Wednesday), I finished Chapter 31.

The following, however, has not yet graced a Facebook status line:

Today (having been, and still being, Thursday), I wrote the climax to my novel.

As in, the big bang that happens when all the threads and action finally come together and some people die and some people live and a bunch of bad guys get killed off and the heroine has a this-is-seriously-going-to-mess-up-or-totally-fix-my-life kind of moment. As in, pretty much everything that has happened previously has been Leading Up To This Moment, which makes it a fairly significant moment in the Grand Scheme of Novelizing Things.

Not to give away any of the good parts, but there was also the incident of someone's face getting melted off. Don't worry, it was one of the bad guys. I kind of enjoyed writing that part, especially because I didn't know it was going to happen before it happened.

Ooh, ooh, and there was a major time paradox, too! Kind of like the one Doc warns Marty about. Things exploded. A good time was had by all.

Well, not by some of the characters. The ones involved in the explosion.

I liked it.

Ooh, and when I wrote the part with the heroine and her sister, I made myself cry. That doesn't happen very often. It was emotionally very draining. But cathartic, in a weird sort of way, especially because I don't have a sister.

As you might be able to tell, all this has me as excited as a five-year-old on purple crack.

Writing swings my verge. It really does.

the one where i make another creative discovery

...said discovery being the realization that the laundry room of our apartment complex is an excellent place for working on my novel. Especially because I'm usually the only person there.

Procedure is as follows:

1. Take laundry to laundry room.
2. Stick laundry in washers.
3. Set up laptop.
4. Begin writing with no distractions, namely:

a. Internet
b. books
c. chores
d. Internet
e. paperwork
d. other that I can't think of right now
f. have I mentioned Internet?

5. Keep writing.
6. Take laundry out of washers.
7. Put laundry in dryers.
8. Write some more.
9. Keep writing.
10. Have a very productive writing day.

This completes Courtney's Ten-Step Laundry Program For Creative Writing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

elitism tastes good sometimes

"I don't have scientific data to back me up, but I've anecdotally witnessed a direct relationship between someone's willingness to read and their level of education, success, expectations for themselves, and general, uh, interestingness they bring to the table. I guess that makes me one of those 'elitists' we keep hearing about, but with that in mind, you may understand why it's been pretty...important to me that I instill a love of reading in my kids."

--Wil Wheaton
in his blog

If this were a Commonplace Book, and my profs were leaving me Post-It Note comments in it (which they did in my real Commonplace Book back in the Dark Ages of 1997), they would tell me that my posts are "heavy on Wil Wheaton" (in 1997, it was "heavy on Elton John). Guilty as charged (on all counts, past and hypothetical present).

That admitted, I really do enjoy Wil's thoughts. I won't say that I agree with him 100% on this particular quote: It doesn't apply to everyone; personally, I know plenty of highly interesting people who aren't big readers; but I do believe that the willingness to read affects education level and expectations for self.

In some ways, it can even determine education level and expectations for self.

Reading swings my verge!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

hamster huey and the gooey kablooey

(Name that reference!)

I have a zit under the chicken pox scar on my chin.

I find this to be mildly ridiculous.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

for my artist friends...

...and anyone else with whom this resonates.

An Artist's Prayer

O Great Creator,
We are gathered together in your name
that we may be of greater service to you
and to our fellows.
We offer ourselves to you as instruments.
We open ourselves to your creativity in our lives.
We surrender to you our old ideas.
We welcome your new and more expansive ideas.
We trust that you will lead us.
We trust that it is safe to follow you.
We know that you created us
and that creativity is your nature
and our own.
We ask you to unfold our lives
according to your plan, not our low self-worth.
Help us to believe that it is not too late
and that we are not too small or too flawed
to be healed--by you and through each other--
and made whole.
Help us to love one another,
to nurture each other's unfolding,
to encourage each other's growth,
and understand each other's fears.
Help us to know that we are not alone,
that we are loved and lovable.
Help us to create as an act of worship to you.

--Julia Cameron
in "The Artist's Way"

I cried when I read this.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

in which i vent my spleen

So, ever since Ed and I got our Oklahoman cell phones (Handys, to my dear German readers), I have gotten heaps of unsolicited phone calls. Ed doesn't seem to get any at all, so I figure he's been blessed with a phone number that has never before been used in this dimension.

My number, however, seems to have had a previous owner who was either up to the nose in debt and on the lam (not lamb, hee hee ;o) from creditors and/or the Mafia, or simply enjoyed giving out the number to all and sundry so that all and sundry could use the number for the purposes of pointless harassment of The Innocent and Unsuspecting.

Namely, me.

I submitted my number to the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR), which is probably a misnomer. National We'd Like To Help You But We're Basically Powerless Would You Like a Teddy Bear? Registry would be more apt. The NDNCR is apparently maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, whose website even states that they cannot resolve individual customer complaints. Whoopee. The number of telemarketer calls has dropped since I registered, I'll give them that... But this does not resolve my problem of receiving about 6 calls a day, for five days in a row, approximately every two weeks, from the company HSBC Mortgage Services.

HSBC Mortgage Services is kinda clueless. Were they clueful, they would realize that I have never owned a house and, therefore, have never had a mortgage. Still, they persist on calling me x times per week (see previously noted statistics) VIA COMPUTER. That's right. Not only are they calling me, but they're using a poor, innocent computer to do their dirty work. The computer is voice activated, so it doesn't start talking until it hears a voice on the line.

Namely, mine.

I no longer answer the phone when I see that the display reads 800-395-3489. Sometimes, the computer stays on the line enough to be kicked over to voicemail, in which case I get a message that begins in the middle of a sentence, informs me ominously that "this is an attempt to collect a debt," and asks me to return the call to the aforementioned 800 number. (I never do, of course.)

HSBC called five times yesterday. Six times today. The day is young, yet.

Occasionally, I also receive calls from NCO Financial Systems at 800-477-1827.

As well as multiple calls from "Unknown," which I believe is HSBC cleverly disguising themselves so as to blend in with the wireless foliage of the modern telemarketing jungle.

Bunch of scaly, evil chameleons.

Personally, I think this should be illegal.

Stupid-kenupid telemarketercreditormortagerulemakers.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"what is your glitch?" --"my glitch?"

Sometimes, I think my main problem is simply that I want to understand everything yesterday.

Monday, May 12, 2008

in honor of and reference to memory

Why is it so difficult to say what we really mean?

Why, when we try to communicate something important to us, do we so often send a message we didn't want to send, and end up hurting the other person without wanting to?

What must we do in order to learn to ask the right questions?

What must we do in order to learn how to listen for the answers?

Honestly: Is it so difficult to stop talking, open the heart, and let the soul truly comprehend what the other person is saying?

Why is what we want to say usually so much more important to us than that which the other person needs to say?

Why do we block others from unburdening their souls?

Why do we espouse total honesty, yet we cannot accept it when others are totally honest with us?

Are our relationships truly that fragile?

Are our relationships truly that shallow?

How can we have been so misled?

Why didn't anyone tell us?

Why can't we admit that the fault is our own for not having sought and delved more deeply?

Why do we lack courage?

Where is the safe haven?

Why do we paint love a color only we can see?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

in which i ponder art and purpose

I am thinking about the act of writing.
I am thinking about music.
I am thinking about visual art, art on paper, art on canvas.
I am thinking about the multitude of ways in which we humans express ourselves in what is commonly known as a 'creative' way.

Genesis 1:1 reads, "In the beginning, God created..."
Genesis 2:26 reads, "God said, 'Let us make man in our image...'"

I have always thought that "in our image" refers to the fact that God created each of us with a soul.
I still believe that.

But I also believe this:

The first thing we learn about God from scripture is that he is a creative being. Since he made us 'in his image,' I believe this means that he made us to be creative beings.

Being a writer and an artist is, for me, paying homage to this fact. As a child imitates a father, so through my art, my creativity, I am imitating my Father by bringing forth something that, by human perception, wasn't there before. It is all by his design and through his workings in my spirit and in my life.

Every human, by Divine definition, carries a creative impulse within the soul. Every human. Without exception. Discovering that impulse is simply a matter of discovering how best to express it so as to bring glory to God.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

cultural transitions bite...

...and I despise bathtub drains that leak into the neighbor's apartment *AGAIN*, thereby depriving me of a well-earned bubble bath.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

i've been blogging this in my head since 7am

Dear Traffic Hazards,

While watching you today, aiming snarky comments at you in my head--or aloud, when I was alone in the car--I decided that the time has come, as the walrus said, to let the you-relevant snarkiness leak from my mind, ooze down through my nervous system, trickle out of my fingertips, gush into my keyboard, and spawn its way onto my blog, where you may gnash your gnashing teeth over it in impotence. That said, here are the points I've wished all day that you might see fit to ponder:

1. The manufacturer of your car, law-abiding and foresightful individual that s/he is, wisely equipped your car with headlights. Yeah, if you could turn those on when it's dark outside....ummmmm.....that'd be grrreaaaat.

2. The aforementioned mountain-top-guru-esque manufacturer also built into your car a couple of nifty gadgets called turn signals.
     a. Some of you are using turn signals as a method for asking permission to change lanes, instead of using them to announce your intention to change lanes. Asking permission is not only a misuse of the turn signal (a misuse which should, I might add, be a federal offense, like tearing the tag off of a pillow--yeah, they know who you are, you delinquent pillow-tag-tear-offers!), it is also dumb.
     b. Some of you aren't using the turn signals at all. This is not only dumb, it is also stupid, because you are begging me to run into you because I don't know where you're going.

3. Entrance ramps are not parking lots. Please to be noticing the difference. Thank you.

4. Random Breaking Syndrome* is a disease. Seek help before it's too late**.

5. When I am abiding by the speed limit of 25mph and you, in your culturally-induced haste to get from Point A to Point Z so fast it threatens to tear the skin off your face, run up behind me and begin trying to push me to break the speed limit, the law of cause and effect comes into play.
     a. The effect might be that I simply ignore you, because I am in a good mood and not susceptible to your wily speed demon ways; stay thee behind me! Pwned!
     b. The effect might be that I actually slow down because I am annoyed (and you are not a droid, which is unfortunate, because it would make you more interesting). You are SO not swinging my verge, here.
          --> The cause of these effects is you, so do not gnash your teeth at me, or the effect will be that I purchase and apply to my car a bumper sticker that reads "I might be slow, but I'm ahead of you."

Cause-and-effect-really swings my verge.

6. I'm sure there's another point of severe snarkiness, but ruminating about you has kept me up long enough past my bedtime, so I think I'm going to go to sleep now.

Yours Truly,
The Chick in the Ancient Red Nissan

*Random Breaking Syndrome (RBS): the illness which causes vehicle drivers to slam on their brakes without warning and for no discernible reason, seeing as how there are no cars in front of them, much less cars that are braking. The braking of a car in front of you, by the way, is indicated by the glow of two brake lights at the back of the aforementioned car. Or one brake light, if you are in Oklahoma. Or no brake light at all, in which case we move on to the condition of the breaking of the car in front of you, which occurs when you run into said car because it is rapidly decelerating and not bothering to inform you of the fact.

**In this case, "late" would be a condition occurring, for example, when you begin using the entrance ramp for a parking lot.