On Wasting Time, or rather, Alternative Activities

I'm a sucker for procrastination. I'll do anything to delay productivity. Friends' blogs, strangers' blogs, reading the paper, painting toenails... at least I'm past the stage of computer card games. Tonight, instead of doing other useful work, I was prompted by a recent conversation to reread my undergraduate papers. I learned a number of things:

1. I underestimated the criticisms of my professors. They actually knew what they were talking about! When you're in the middle of the semesters, the massive amounts of red ink scribbles only frustrate and minimize what you thought was hard work. Now that a few years have past, those notes make sense. Humbling to say the least... to discover that you really had no idea about anything.
2. Writing papers at 5 am wasn't a good idea then and looking back, it still wasn't a good idea. Coherency decreases as the number of hours awake increase.
3. There are a few exceptions to the rule. Who knew I was such a thinker? HA! Or maybe THOSE were the ones written in the wee hours...
4. I was blessed to have some fantastic professors. Reading the notes they made impressed me. I didn't agree with their theology then and I still don't, but I appreciate their challenges to me, especially my philosophical/religious papers. Looking back, they really were challenging me to think, I just didn't recognize it as well.
5. I was blessed twice. Even though I attended a secular school, don't ask me about how to deal with intolerant professors because I didn't know any. I'd forgotten how many papers I wrote relating to Christianity. Exclusive psalmody, on Brahms's [lack of] Christian faith and theology, C.S. Lewis and suffering, preachers and politics in Nigeria... the list goes on.

Thanks, professors! You've made Butler a great school.


I'm "it" now.

Josh tagged me to do this book thing. Very useful for a post when I have nothing else to say. And you know I always like to talk about books. So here it goes...

1. One book that changed your life: Affliction by Edith Schaeffer.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: I'd rather be on a DESSERT island, but in any case... Using Your Imagination: The Handy Dandy Guide to Finding Water in Unlikely Places, or Don't Break His Back! How to Motivate A Camel

4. One book that made you laugh: Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. It's hilarious! The Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne.

5. One book that made you cry: This list could actually be the longest, surprisingly. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee... my college math textbook...

6. One book that you wish HAD been written: How to Succeed in Grad School Without Really Trying

7. One book that you wish had NEVER been written: Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, Nickle and Dimed by Some Crackhead

8. One book you’re currently reading: Psychobabble by Rich Ganz, In My Mother's House by Margaret McMullan

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Voicing Creation's Praise: Towards A Theology of the Arts by Jeremy Begbie, and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

10. Now tag 5 people: Amy, Jennifer, Megan, Stacey, Sarah

Oops. It did say "one book"...



I gave a stranger an unexpected lift home today. Picking up a "hitch hiker" was a new experience for me. A little grasshopper had been out shopping and decided to take his break on the engine hood of my car. Little did he know he'd get the ride of his life. I drove off, waiting for him to fly away, but he stayed and settled to enjoy his thrill. He lasted the entire way home from work and into the garage. It was amusing to watch him sway with the wind while travelling the interstate. Who knew grasshoppers could withstand such velocities! I'd love to know what was going through his brain. EEEEE! I really hope he wasn't out with friends, because I'm afraid it's gonna be a long trip home.
I love the fact that fall is nearing. Tiny glimpses are beginning to appear. A little red here, speck of orange there... Oh, pumpkin soup you're so tempting.
Better stock up on your pesto supply.


On Being an Engineer's Daughter

You are what you eat. True. You are what you read. Still true. You are what your parents are. Truer. Pastor's kids lead Bible studies. Doctor's kids know how the body works. Journalist's kids can write. Engineer's kids. Well, we know about a whole different side of life. We're taught things like...

-how to read a map
-how the interstates are numbered across the continental US and why
-what a "planned city" is and how they work
-how mile markers work on interstates
-where the rest stops are along I-70
-how to read a blueprint. well, at least we know what blueprints are.
-how to anticipate the end result of new road construction
and most importantly,
-why engineers really aren't destroying all the cornfields in Indiana

I think my dad's brilliant. I especially love it when he gets really excited about the most random things. He has many talents and he never ceases to amaze me. His latest accomplishment is the recitation of the Indiana counties in alphabetical order. Yup, all 92. Mom and I were in the car tonight ROLLING with laughter. He said his next goal is to memorize towns. Why? we asked. So then when he runs for senator he can at least know where he is in the state. Oh, Dad, you're so wonderful. Thanks for my irreplaceable education.


The Day to Day Stuff of Life.

More on Grad School: Looks like it will be a good semester. My class work will be purposeful and useful training. Topics which actually apply to my work. Like, writing studio policies, lesson planning, learning how to teach music theory. Guess that's the point of grad school... But I do miss taking gen-ed classes. Some of them were by far my favorite courses. Like, Faith and Doubt: the Brothers Karamazov, 19th Century French Literature, Beauty and the Beast, and CnT: Revolutionary Period. Oh and Ballroom Dance was perky fun. If I was undergrad still, I'd definitely be taking Valliere's Psalms class and Eloise's French lit class. Maybe if I get bored sometime, I'll sit in on them. Make the freshmen nervous.
Kitchens: Between the ants at home and the fruit flies at work, I'm about ready to move into an insulated glass cube. I found a couple of ants crawling on me after doing the dishes. Maintaining my cool head, as always, I gently flicked them off and now I'm sure they're lost somewhere between the piano and the front door. Nothing though, is as bad as that day at Shepherd Community, when after getting too close to one of my little girls, I found a louse taking his afternoon stroll across my shoulder.
Family: I love my mother.


She knows how to jam.

She makes a great grandma.

She's daring.

She gets prettier every year.

The World: Throw out the text books and rewrite the neumonics! Bye, bye Pluto.
Confession: After over 5 years of being a faithful subsriber to Martha Stewart Living, I'm slowly becoming converted to Real Simple. Martha dearest, you're running out of ideas, becoming too unrealistic, and quite frankly, your new kitchen is boring.


Grad School Take Two. Goals for Fall:

Attempt not to fail any courses.

Attempt to actually complete two consecutive semesters in grad school.

Don't drop. Don't withdraw. Don't incomplete. ANY courses.

Be glad to be done with Dr. Briscoe classes. For life.


Learn how to play jazz piano.

Try not to practice jazz piano too much.

Remember that the mental health of family may be at risk.

Try not to get kicked out of classical piano this semester.

Don't forget to practice classical piano.

Pretend to like classical piano. A lot.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't drink so much coffee!

Read textbooks. For once.

Don't get lazy and procrastinate. For once.

Try not to miss singing in Jordan Jazz.

Keep up other reading. It's good for the state of well-being.

Read Bible. Pray.

Don't overcommit.

Learn to say no.

NOTE TO SELF: Boycott Facebook!

Cook or bake at least once a week, maybe a month.

Be grateful for being a regular student and not a teaching assistant.

Now, T-shirts and jeans are still OK to wear to class.

Flipflops too. On a good day.

Have a coffee break with at least one friend each week.

Actually find a friend.

Daily ask if grades really matter in the real world.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't stress about not being perfect!

Focus. Focus. Focus.


In Rememberance

I feel as though I just returned from attending a funeral. A funeral I should have attended five years ago.

When the 9/11 attacks hit, I had just returned to the States a few days previously. The events were superficial to me. I watched it happen on TV but saw only the theatrics and felt separated from it all. I cried but I didn't grieve. I shied away from sentimentality and pondered politics and war.

But tonight, I grieved.

I grieved for the loss. For the people I don't know now, but maybe I'll meet them someday. I grieved for a city, a nation. I grieved for evil, for sin. For this crazy, post-modern world where tolerance is the victor and the enemy can run freely.

When the newspapers printed the statistics of the loss, and I saw them as numbers. I had forgotten how much one life means to so many, many people. Tonight, I remembered. I saw before me the contrast of death and destruction with life and living, and I remembered. Life is precious and it is worth fighting to preserve it.

I remembered what it means to believe in a sovereign God. I saw a small glimpse of my world and remembered that God not only sees the whole picture but ordains every single event within it.

I thought about Genesis 3:15 when God promises that although Satan bruises the heel, Christ has the ultimate victory and bruises his head. I thought about David and his struggles with the same emotions and questioning God's timing and sovereignty. I remembered that God is good.

It's good to grieve. It's good to remember. We shouldn't forget the places or the people. But more importantly we shouldn't forget Who we serve or neglect our faith in His sovereign goodness.



Excellent Book!

Hollywood Worldviews
by Brian Godawa

I was browsing the local Christian bookstore recently and stumbled across this book. At first I was skeptical (since it was placed among the countless "how to's") but who can distrust an author who quotes Schaeffer in the second paragraph? Surprise! Good things do come from Berean Bookstores! This is absolutely the best book I've read all summer.

Godawa analyzes countless movies through a fantasticly thorough worldview lens. He warns against being a "cultural glutton" (inhaling without consideration) and a "cultural anorexic" (refusal to participate in culture). He first lays out his idea surrounding storytelling, mythology, and the role it plays in today's culture. Then he organizes his film reviews by worldview topic, such as existentialism, post-modernism, etc. He has incredible insight into the meaning of movies and I came away with a completely different understanding of films, some I had and hadn't seen.

Throughout the book, Godawa references his website, which unfortunately isn't updated and I couldn't access some of the information. It does link to his movie reviews by year which I may add to my list of links. Each chapter ends with really interesting, practical applications and different ideas for thinking seriously about our movie intake and processing. For instance, he suggests that a Bible study read Ecclesiastes and then watch Groundhog Day and do an indepth comparison, which I think is a great idea.( Beware, multiple ideas are floating through my head and it may involve you.)

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you have any interest in or concern for contemporary culture then this book is a must-read. If you love discussing movies and worldview interpretation then this book is a must-read. If you've ever wished you could understand movies better or maybe don't watch movies because you're afraid of submitting yourself to bad influences, then this book is a must-read.

As a follow-up, there's a great opportunity coming up to participate in a similar movie discussion. Veritas is hosting a movie screening of Tender Mercies on Butler's campus. The week following, Jeff Sparks, director of the Heartland Film Festival, will be speaking on "What Makes a Truly Moving Picture: Exploring the Power of Film to Move Us." The events are open to whomever wishes to attend and I would encourage you come.

What: Tender Mercies
When: Tuesday, September 5 @ 7:30 pm and Friday, September 8 @ 5:00 pm.
Where: The Center for Faith and Vocation, Butler University.

What: Jeff Sparks at Veritas
When: Thursday, September 14 @ 7:00 pm.
Where: TBA at Butler University.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



Back Home Again in Indiana

The Car Ride. The whirlwind trip to Canada has come and gone with much enjoyment and little complaint. The rear ends of certain passengers might disagree, but overall two thumbs up! Ipods are still in working condition but the book list goal was not fully accomplished. Rap has been permanently banned from Dad's radio, but then after 3 hours of Dean Martin, swinging Italians is climbing up there too. The jury still hasn't decided if the sing alongs to Martina McBride (among many others) is acceptable, encouraged, or just plain tolerable.

The Shakespeare Festival. Stratford, Ontario is a beautiful and quaint little town. Placed in the middle of NOWHERE yet still draws huge crowds for its fantastic theatrical productions. The town itself was an interesting paradox. Gorgeous Victorian homes with luscious gardens inhabited by the most artistic looking people you've ever seen. Walks around town and in/out of shops were nice because although its economy was based on theatre tourism, it did not have an ounce of "touristy-ness" to it at all. Great restaurants, great coffee, great acting! My favorite play we saw was Much Ado About Nothing. Unique because it was set in 1900. Great Costumes! The best acted play was The Glass Menagerie. Now I'll have to rent the Katherine Hepburn screen version. We saw Colm Feore as Fagin in Oliver. You might recognize him from The Sum of All Fears. And one of the best things we did was tour the costume department. Very cool.

Thoughts on B&Bs. Dad didn't quite make it clear that we were staying at a Bed and Breakfast until we got there. I had stayed in them before and was anticipating the typical old house, cutesy decor, good tea, etc. Not so much. The situation became more comfortable by the end, but this particular BnB was the definition of awkwardness. New house, in a neighborhood, NOT cutely decorated, and run by a Belize woman who liked to talk. A lot. Oh the experiences we have in life...

Moment with Fame. Megan and I were browsing one of the theatre's gift shops before the start of Much Ado. "Look to your right," she whispered discreetly. Thinking I was going to see either some scantily clad woman or an artsy goth, clumsily swing myself around to see what was so interesting. I hope I didn't let out too loud of a surprised "ha." Just beyond my shoulder stood Colin Mochrie from the TV show Whose Line is It Anyway? with his wife and son. Megan and I got a pretty good laugh once we got to our seats.

I highly recommend the trip up north. It was a wonderful weekend. Bed and Breakfast included.


Oh, Canada...

Tomorrow we set out on the Koons's 3rd last family vacation. Dad has said for the last 7 years that each family vacation was going to be the last. Prolonged singlehood is the cause for these continued vacations. Either that's a major disappointment or a whoppin' yippee because we get to have another vacay...

We talked Dad out of driving two cars. Dad didn't want to deal with us and we didn't want to drive. We won - but only by the saving grace of iPods and little preperatory sleep. He threatened to make us sign a No Complaint Contract, but so far that piece of paper hasn't materialized. He also threatened to make us pay a kiddy $1 for each time he heard "its cold back here!" but that too was merely threat. At least, I hope so because I forgot to get cash.

We're off to Ontario, Canada to the Shakespeare Festival? I really don't know what all we're doing, where we're staying, etc. Ignorance is bliss, I say. We are however seeing Oliver, The Glass Menagerie, and Much Ado About Nothing. I'm looking forward to it, but three plays in a row might just tide me over till 2010. I'm mostly excited because the high is 75 degrees. My bag is full of sweaters! I've also got about 6 books I plan to read - and NONE of those involve my degree plan.

I'm sure I'll have plenty of stories when I return.


Sisterly Goodness

Yeah for over 24 hours of pure sister time!

Yeah for random overnight trips to Ohio!

Yeah for outlet malls!

Megs and I went this week to Ohio to do some shopping, some junk food eating, and some serious girl time. Loads of fun and oh what a loaded car. I'm pretty sure the weight of the purchases meant less gas mileage on the way back home. The best and biggest event was the new Williams-Sonoma outlet and the Providence surrounding 10% plus 40% discount off Kitchen-Aid mixers. Major excitement.

Can I just take a moment to say that my sister and I are pretty much the hottest ticket around? (Ok, Meg's taken, so that leaves lonely me but who's counting...) Anyways. We have taken the traditional "hope chest" to an entirely new level. While many other college girls made their cash by waiting tables and working at J.Crew where today's fashion is tomorrow's old news... we were slaving away at a kitchen store, securing our hypothetical families' nutritional future. Basically if you're male, single/eligible, and with a hearty appetite, look no further! We are the model modern woman (we have our degrees AND a Kitchen Aid). The relationship waiting list should be miles long! Ha ha. Megan and I were wondering what we've got left for people to buy us as hypothetical wedding presents. :) Seriously though, I'm extremely grateful for my job and years down the road when I'm making dozens of cookies for the church potluck, I'll still be thankful.

Other news... In honor of my car's pock marked appearance, Megan cherry-coca-cola-christened it "Zitty." Actually her full name is Zut Zitty, but we just call her Zitty.
Megan, this one's for you.

Sisters, sisters
There were never such devoted sisters,
Never had to have a chaperone, no sir,
I'm there to keep my eye on her
Caring, sharing
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress, and I stayed home
All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain and sun
Two different faces, but in tight places
We think and we act as one
Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up, but no one can
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man