Monday, October 22, 2007


I remember, quite clearly, when my mom found out there was a Father-Daughter dance at my high school.

My response was a firm, and immediate, no, I'm not going.

My mom, trying her best to be supportive, I suppose, offered that I could take an uncle, a close family friend, or my grandpa. Maybe she was trying to let me know that it was okay with her; I don't know.

But the thought of attending a father-daughter dance, especially with someone other than my father, quite frankly made me nauseous. Luckily, my mom picked up on my feelings, and dropped the subject. She never brought it up again, in that year or any other.

Most of the time a mere mention of something father-daughter-y won't bother me. Especially at this point-- it's been over nine years at this point since my dad died, and some of the pain has faded with the memories.

But some things still hit me hard, and usually they hit me when I least expect it. One time this summer, I was walking back to my apartment and saw a man walking, holding hands with a little girl as she walked on the hill next to the sidewalk. They were probably twenty feet away, and the dad looked nothing like mine, but for some reason I was caught off-guard with what I guess could best be described as jealousy. And something as seeing simple as a father and daughter taking a walk together made me start crying.

I can't imagine going to a father-daughter dance. Not then, not now, not ever. Seeing all of my classmates with their dads, or dadly figures, enjoying quality time together, taking pictures together, and just... being together- it's about the last way I'd want to spend an evening.

And who would I bring? I love him, but my grandfather and I just aren't very close, and especially on a night when I was prone to getting upset, he'd not be my chosen companion. The one uncle in town that I'd consider would have gone with me in a heartbeat. He's wonderful, and he'd do his best to distract me all evening- but he's got his own daughter, and as great as he is, I just don't think of him at all in a fathery sense. There's also a close family friend, who's so close he's practically family... but the few times he's done somewhat fathery things, I feel almost like I'm betraying my dad. I know my dad wouldn't mind, but something wouldn't feel right about bringing anyone else to a 'dad' function.

Besides, some of the people I went to high school with had also gone to elementary school with me... and I didn't want anyone who knew that this wasn't my dad to ask who was with me, and to have awkward explanations. And I didn't want anyone who didn't know to assume that he was my dad. Sure, it'd avoid awkwardness, but it'd somehow feel fraudulent. Maybe if I'd had a stepfather or someone come into my life who I felt like sort of fit that 'fatherly' role, I would've been okay with them going along. But the way things were... I didn't even want to think about going. I was not going, and that was it.

There are some things, like this, that I'm just not going to do. I will not go to father-daughter dances, I will not have a father-figure walk me down the aisle at my wedding (if anyone, it will be my mother or brothers or something), I will not have a father-daughter dance when I get married (maybe some other sort of 'giving away' dance, but no, not that). I can barely bring myself to think about those type of things, most of the time, without crying.

The things that fathers traditionally do- even things normally hated by daughters, like interrogating a date before he takes you out- are things I miss. Well, not miss, I guess, because in a lot of cases... they're things I've never had, and things I never can. But I feel like I'm missing out, even if it's missing out of something negative, because things like that are a definite impossibility in my life.

And yet, if one of our close friends or one of my brothers tries to step into that role, I snap. It's nice, I guess, if they get protective or something- but I immediately go into nothing-can-replace-my-father mode, I have a really hard time appreciating the gesture rather than getting livid.

For a long time, I've told my mother, as my brothers have, that if she wants to date again, we're okay with it. That it might be hard for us at first, but we'll try to be supportive if it makes her happy, and that we'll know she's not trying to replace Daddy. I don't doubt that it would be really hard for me to deal with, especially at first, and that my brothers and I would be extremely judgmental of anyone she dated, but we've promised that we'd try to be accepting.

My mom has always said, though, that she doesn't want anyone else; Daddy was her 'one,' I guess, and she's just not interested in looking for another husband. I don't think anyone would think less of her if she did, and I don't think she'd worry that my dad would think less of her; if anything, I think she'd think less of herself. And I can see that-- even taking someone else to a silly dance would make me feel a little guilty. I worry about her being lonely sometimes, but most of the time, I try not to. My guess is that she's a lot like me.

There are times when I break down and sob until my stomach hurts and I feel like everything happened just yesterday and it's never getting better. But these times are rarer as time goes on, and I've learned how to deal with things in the way that allows me to best go on with everyday life. And no matter what is "okay" in other people's minds for you to do, I do what feels right to me.

I know it may not be the best way of dealing with things, but I guess it works okay. It's not great, but I can't imagine any way of grieving that wouldn't cause a sleepless night here or there.

Speaking of, I should try to get some sleep. Again.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

oh, the times they are a changin'

Me: Do you know what it means to use context clues?
Students: *blank stares*
Me: Any ideas at all?
Student: Well, I know what text means.
Me: (excited) Oh! That's great. What does text mean?
Student: Like, on your cell phone...

eleven seven heaven

Borrowing a format from The Halloween House, by Erica Silverman...

In the Halloween house,
In a dark empty den
A mama zombie shuffled
With her little ones, ten.
"Groan," said the mama.
"We groan," said the ten.
So they groaned through the night
In a dark empty den.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

religion, part two

I guess that last entry was just my religious background, in the form of some disjointed rambling. But I felt I needed to talk about my background before I could really get into where I am right now.

So, as I said in my last post... I believe there is a very big difference between questioning and doubting. I've questioned things before, both intentionally and unintentionally. I've even had moments where I've just fallen away from God and felt far from Him for no real reason I can determine. But in any case- questioning and doubting are not at all equal.

Right now, I am doubting in a way I've never done before.

I feel like I'm very much in the middle of believing and not, and it's a very frightening sensation to realize that you doubt some of the very things in which you've believed most strongly.

I don't know exactly what has brought this on; it's certainly not some big traumatic event in my life, or anything like that. I would guess that it's because I've been in college for about two years now, and while here I've really only gone to church when I've gone home. Christians would probably say that I haven't spent enough time with God, and that's why I've fallen away from him so much. Atheists would probably say I've just had enough distance from the church to realize everything that's wrong with it. I don't know what the truth is, but in any case, everything is different in my head.

I do know that I'm not just disheartened with the church. There will be people in any group who are radical or misguided or just plain bad, and because religion is so closely linked to emotion and values, I think it's a far more common phenomenon.

I think part of what's going on is that I've been thinking a lot about my dad's death lately. It's been over nine years now, which seems like such a long time-- and, really, it is. I'm now teaching kids who are just as old as I was when my dad died. But I'm distanced enough from it now that I think some of my thoughts regarding the whole event are getting a bit more rational. I still get sad and cry on a fairly regular basis, but I'm also realizing that I think part of the reason I clung so tightly to religion after that point was because I fiercely wanted to believe there is a Heaven.

I was eleven years old, and my dad died suddenly. It certainly makes sense.

If I did believe mostly because I wanted to, I didn't even know I was doing it. And again, that might not be the case... but I see it as a possibility that I'd prefer to believe in the hopes of Heaven and seeing my daddy again rather than the near-certainty that he's just gone from my life forever. I mean, I'd still very much prefer that, but I'm seeing that maybe this was an influence to my faith that I didn't even realize.

I wonder, too, if some of the feelings I hold as evidence of my faith are really all in my head, or somehow misinterpreted. Sometimes during hymns or songs at church, I'd get this fantastic goosebumpy feeling- but sometimes I get a similar feeling from a particularly moving piece in band, or from music I'm listening to. I love music-- who's to say that my goosebumps aren't just from the beauty of a room full of people singing together? Or even from the sense of community and unity I feel among those people?

I don't know that I'd ever be able to completely disbelieve in God. It's something that's hard for me to even doubt, because it's so firmly ingrained in my thoughts and feelings and beliefs. Maybe I'm not so much doubting my religion as not fitting in the religion I currently have. Maybe another denomination or religion altogether fits my own beliefs better. But I do think it's possible that I could fall away from religion, or at least organized religion, completely.

To some people, this might not seem difficult, but it's like someone making you doubt gravity, or something you've really, truly, thought to be true for a very, very long time. Even if they're wrong, it can really shake your foundation. It's daunting to even think about completely disbelieving.

What's worse is that most of my friends who know me well and care at all about religion are very much on one end or the other of the religious spectrum-- they either believe strongly in God, or they believe strongly that there is no God.

I don't feel like I can probably talk to them about it, because I don't want anyone trying to convince me. No one would be malicious in their intent, but the Christians (or Jews, I suppose) naturally think that believing in God is what's best for me, and the Atheists think that my life would be better off without religion, I'm sure. And people get so vehement about religion... I don't want to offend anyone, but I also don't want anyone's personal beliefs pushing me. I don't know what direction I want to go with this, but I very much know that I will not let my religious beliefs or lack thereof be anyone's victory. There is no one who I'll blame, and no one who will get credit. This is a me decision, and while talking it out with people might help, I'm not going to let someone's personal quest to 'save' people or someone's personal vendetta with Christianity come down to me. I refuse.

I'm not sure what to do with this doubt. A part of me thinks I should take the opportunity to study the Bible and religion in depth, and really develop my own viewpoint. Or even to go to church for a few weeks, or to different churches, and try to worship my way back into believing or hope that some pastor hits the nail on the head for me. But, honestly, I don't feel like it. Delving into this just makes me think more, and I really don't want to deal with that at the moment. I don't even know if there are any other options for action... I feel like I'm destined to be indecisive for who knows how long, and I may just have to deal with that.

Peace said something yesterday that made me think. He said that he hopes no matter what I end up believing, that I don't lose my faith. I think what he meant was that whether or not I end up believing in God, he hopes I can keep my optimism and hope about life and the world. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Peace.) I guess that's what I'm going to shoot for, for now, because I don't really know what other goal I can make but to follow my heart and figure out what I believe (and I have no idea, at this point, how to really do that).

Religion, part one.

For as long as I can remember, my family has attended a Lutheran church. We've stayed in mostly the same congregation, although at one point our church consolidated with another. I've gone to Vacation Bible School and Sunday School every year and church camp a few times; I've gone through Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. I've been in youth group, I've served as a junior leader, and I went to Lutheran Leadership Training School twice. I spent many years in children's choir or youth choir, a short while in handbell choir, and many times have played an instrument or cantored (led the songs) during a service.

My church has provided me with many things, but probably the most important is the feeling of community. Our family's closest friends are another family who has gone to the same church as us since before my birth. We go camping almost every year with another family that used to be in our bible study. We spent so much time with my youth leader's family that their youngest son is best friends with my brother and the middle son and I dated for a few short weeks. I've gone on many short trips and to many activities with my youth group over the years, including a road trip to Atlanta that lasted a week and a half. I joined the church's Watercolor Painting class one summer and talked to people who were old enough to remember stories about my grandfather (who died before I was born). We even have connections to the pastor's family- my little brother dated the pastor's daughter for almost two years, and prior to that I had a crush on the pastor's son (who's now going to become a pastor himself). (Haha, I hope he doesn't read this- that'd be awkward.)

Anyway-- it probably sounds like I'm writing this to brag, but it's actually quite the opposite. I'm just wanting to show that I have a very strong church background, and that all my life I've believed in God and Jesus and all the basic tenets of Christianity.

When I was in high school, I went to LTS- Leadership Training School- at a church camp. It had some leadership activities similar to every other leadership seminar for youth I'd ever been to, but for the most part it was a small group (about 30 kids), and we cared. At most church camps, you have people (it seems like boys, especially) who just don't get into the God stuff. In discussions, they're quiet and won't talk. In worship, they're too embarrassed to sing or dance or get into it at all. In activities, they complain and act too 'cool' to participate... but not at this camp. Everyone who was there really wanted to be there.

At LTS (the first time I went), we were placed in small groups, and mine could not have been more perfect. I have never felt closer to God than I did in this group-- they were smart, they were passionate, and most of all, they made me think. Our group leader, Frank, was hilarious- but he was also excellent at questioning whatever you said. He'd ask, constantly, why you believed something the way you did, or what sort of evidence you had to back it up. He wasn't harsh, but he invited all of us to do what many Christians seem so afraid of- questioning what we're told and what we think we know. Defining their own personal religious beliefs by examining the facts and feelings behind them. No one was wrong, although there were disagreements and challenges to what people had to say. We'd discuss a topic like the church's stance on homosexuality, which some people see as so clear-cut, and we'd pull out our bibles- all different versions- and look at the same verses, and talk about alternate interpretations.

To me, without change, one cannot grow. To me, questioning things and reexamining what I'm sure of and being willing to change is the only way to have a truly dynamic, living faith like is preached about so often. You can't truly believe something just because someone tells you-- or at least I can't. Even if the evidence can't be seen (like evidence of God), I have to experience some sort of evidence to believe something. I fully recognize that I could misinterpret evidence, which would lead me to believe something untrue, but that's why I'm willing to go back and look again at things I think I'm sure of.

Not everyone in my own congregation agrees with me, of course-- many many people confuse 'questioning' with 'doubting.' It bothers me to see so many people who will staunchly defend something they have never or barely looked at themselves. They trust the church scholars to determine their personal values and beliefs for them, and even worse, some of them let those values and beliefs lead them to hate other people. It frustrates me, both because I think it's so wrong, and because I get thrown into that same category by some people just by labeling myself as a Christian.

I'll end this one with a real anecdote (I don't write those enough, considering the name of the blog).

One day my younger brother came home from elementary school and told us a story. At school that day his friend had asked him if he was Christian, and he'd said "No, I'm Lutheran." And the other boy said his mom had told him he couldn't play with kids who weren't Christian.

At the time, we focused on the part of the story where Steve said "I'm not Christian; I'm Lutheran" because, in all honesty, it was funny. It was one of those cute little kid things where they just haven't learned all the ways the world classifies things. Steve didn't realize that Lutheran was a kind of Christian, and that he was actually both. He just knew he was Lutheran, and that wasn't the same word as Christian.

When I think about it now, I still chuckle at that part, but the overall story is so sad. To think that a mother would tell her son to discriminate in his friendships like that! It just kills me that this kid's going to grow up, and at least for awhile, think that non-Christians are inherently bad. This boy's going to grow up with the idea of Christianity as some kind of exclusive club, and I hate it.

I have a lot more I could say about religion, and I want to take the time to go the direction with this post that I originally meant to, but this post is long already, and I need to do some physics homework.

Hopefully I'll get back to this, because there are some crazy religion-related thoughts going on in my head that I need to get out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

oh, kids.

A few days ago, I was helping a fifth-grader.

Austin: How do I put these (*does air quotes*) in writing?

He knew that air quotes meant sarcasm, and he wanted to use that in his writing. He just didn't realize that air quotes were really air quote marks. Like the punctuation ones.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Things You Don't Do, Part One?

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And you don't... mix hash browns and ketchup

Hash browns and ketchup are a combination that grosses me out, and this has caused argument multiple times.

Part of my dislike comes from the fact that I just think hash browns mixed with ketchup looks strange and a bit disgusting. I don't really know why. But it's not just an arbitrary color thing, like 'green eggs and ham,' that I might just love when I try it and see it's not any different.

I also just find the idea repulsive. No, I don't think I've ever tried them, and while I usually try to not knock things I haven't tried... I have good reason.

I don't think I would hate the taste. (Yes, this leads to my good reason.) The taste itself would simply end up being the taste of potato and ketchup, much like french fries and ketchup or tater tots and ketchup or any of a number of similar combinations. And I like these. The different texture/ shape/ size of hash browns wouldn't make the taste that different from any other potato-ketchup combo.

Instead, it's the mere fact that I see ketchup as a lunch-dinner condiment. Maybe even snack.

But hash browns? They're firmly lodged in the breakfast category.

I don't mind eating breakfast for dinner-- in fact, I like it a lot-- but when I do so, my meal is almost always wholly breakfast. I don't care what the time of day is, but my breakfasty foods go together and my other foods go together, and that's how it is (drinks are a little more liquid- hehe- but not food).

So, to me, hash browns with ketchup blatantly violates the separation of breakfast and lunch, and my palate just cannot welcome it.

(P.S.-- I mean no disrespect screwing with Jim Croce's lyrics. I actually like the guy a whole bunch.)
(P.P.S.-- Depending on my inspiration or lack thereof, this may or may not become a series of posts.)
(P.P.P.S.-- I also can't decide whether my last post should be continued into a longer story, or just left as a short story. Suggestions?)
(P.P.P.P.S.-- Even without Renee, I wrote something tonight. Woohoo!)
(P.P.P.P.P.S-- Not that I don't like Renee, of course. I love her bunches- even subconsciously!)
(P.P.P.P.P.P.S.-- I realize this is completely ridiculous by this point, but I just wanted to add that I don't fault anyone who can enjoy hash browns with ketchup. I just can't do it myself. And I don't bother trying it because I don't think I'd like it and, just in case, I can't chance wasting one of my favorite foods (hash browns) by making them into something I don't like.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Writing Party #1

The leaves draped dramatically over the edge of the piano, threatening to reach the keys and play a somber sonata.

Or maybe I just wanted them to, because a sad song would complement my mood so perfectly.

I sat in the coffeehouse, listening to the slightly-skewed intonation of the struggling band playing in the background. I found myself being overly critical, and felt mean; the band wasn’t terrible, and their music actually melded into a soft but welcome distraction from my own thoughts.

I was walking by the window of this place tonight, and despite the fact it’s hardly out of my way, I’d never been in before.

The soft orange lighting made the coffeehouse look warm, and the décor was just simple enough to feel homey and almost quaint. While not normally my style, the small crowd gathered around the band looked oddly intimate, and whether caused by the frigid winter air or the loneliness I felt, I was drawn inside.

I sank into a soft couch, soaking up the novelty of this place I’d never been before. How comforting to place my mind somewhere that my eyes couldn’t find a million memories of you.

Without physical escape, I realized, there was no mental escape.

And, suddenly, I knew what I had to do.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

a whirled view

I recently read an article that was linked from a blog of a Relient K member, Jon Schneck. After reading the article, I was infuriated- partly because I'm a fan of Relient K and I thought his judgment was unfair, and partly because of the ideas that led to his criticism. I simply could not let it go, even though apparently Relient K has faced a lot of similar critiques in the past.

I read through the over fifty comments left on the blog, taking notes of things I wanted to say as I went along. I was peeved- slightly as a fan, but more as a Christian and a logical person. I don't understand- and never have understood- why people get angry when a 'Christian band' goes 'secular.' To me, increased visibility of Christianity is usually a good thing, and if the band can be listened to by more people (especially if they are up front about their beliefs), it's just another way of spreading the Word. Plus, I can see that to many people- especially who have never been religious- coming at them with God or Jesus' name and praises in every lyric might make them uncomfortable, so I don't see any problem with subtly religious lyrics. Besides, each person communicates with God differently, right?Anyway, this post probably doesn't seem coherent, because it was written in little bits, completely out of order. But when I got to the end of Dan's blog post and saw that he'd turned off comments to avoid dealing with the contradictory responses he was getting, I was a bit angry-- I'd really wanted to maybe open his (and other readers') eyes to some of my opinions (assuming, of course, that they were open-minded enough to listen and see me as more than a defensive fan). The thing is, I think I would be just as angry if they were talking about another Christian band in the mainstream, such as Switchfoot. I'm not a big fan of them, and don't know much about them- but they face this kind of criticism often, apparently. And the thing is, the ideals behind the criticism- the close-minded, overprotective, elitist ideals of 'Christianity'- really bother me. Anyway, here's the response I just had to post somewhere. Sorry this is so long.

In one of the author's comments responding to others, he said, "I threw a little red meat on Relient K out there for the fun and you took the bait quite nicely."

This sounds downright mean to me. He's trying to bait teenagers into getting defensive? Don't most people stop listening when they get defensive, which would mean that they might miss your point entirely? Wouldn't he rather his readers actually consider the opinion he feels so strongly about? Maybe he thinks he's picking brains (as his blog purpose seems to state)... but to me it seems like he's picking on people.

If you're trying to send a message about not sending teenagers into a "wolves' den," as someone called it... it doesn't seem to me that he's doing anything different. The only difference is that he's sending people into a den of wrath instead.

As for the venue, I've never been there, so I can't make an honest, educated judgment. But I can say that I believe the problem would lie more with parents who trust their kids merely on the kid saying something is "Christian." Before going to anything like a concert on my own, I know that my own mom would look into the venue, my transportation, the band, and my companions, to say the least.

From what I hear, this venue may not have been a good choice for the band to perform in. I'm uninformed, so I will give him that. However, if the author's point was that Christian bands need to be more careful about where they perform, I think the author would have been much more convincing if he had given more than one example of this occurring, especially with more than one band. If this is such a big problem, finding more information to back up his claim would not have been difficult, and he would not have been left to, instead, criticize other aspects of the band. I can only hope that the criticism of Relient K and Amos's has come after considerable research, including a visit to Amos's, listening to Relient K's music, researching both the official information given and what unofficial information you can find about each, and possibly even attending a Relient K concert.

I like Relient K's approach. I think they are all strong in their faith, but I don't think they want to be stuck in a box as a "Christian" band. And while some people don't appreciate their more subtle style, I think it's great. By performing at events like Warped Tour, where some of the other bands have similar sounds (and therefore fans of that style of music, Christian or not, are likely to abound), Relient K opens up the opportunity for new people to hear the band. And even if they're initially drawn in by the sound of the band, I'm sure some of those new fans will eventually hear the lyrics, and start thinking about what the band is really saying. And Relient K only rarely makes that completely obvious- instead, many of their lyrics they inspire thinking and interpretation; who knows? I bet at least a few of those new fans will become Christians. Plus, a "Christian" band would get hammered with even more criticism like this over things (venues, songs, outfits, who knows what) not being 'Christian' enough- and dealing with that criticism takes time away from Relient K's purpose/job/ministry as a band.

I'm not saying bands should go 'mainstream' just to try to attract new followers; I don't think Christians should be so afraid of that, though.

In a response on Jon Schneck's blog, the author of the original post mentioned that Jesus went into places with 'bad' people- but that the Gospel was always at the forefront and that Jesus wasn't 'subtle' about it. First of all, I think Jesus' parables were often metaphors for what he had to say- to me, that's fairly subtle because the meaning had to be interpreted. Second of all, Jesus could get away with not being subtle in ways we can't-- I mean, he could perform miracles! Relient K- or anyone else today, for that matter- isn't going to be able to evangelize in the same methods as Jesus. They're just NOT.

I like some of Relient K's religious songs; really, I do. But I also like that some of their songs are more vague. To me, the songs don't come across as preachy, like some other Christian songs do. Some of the songs don't explicitly say anything about God, but they are almost a conversation with a "You" that sounds like it was maybe meant to be God (and, curiously enough, often "You" is capitalized in the lyrics). Still- the lyrics wouldn't have to be about God. Maybe that's how the band or the songwriter meant it, but maybe not. I think part of the beauty of Relient K's lyrics is that sometimes they can fit in a surprising number of different situations, and that (much like the Bible) they are open to interpretation and don't force you to think about them in any specific way. The lyrics don't force religion on anybody, which I think is generally a much more effective approach to evangelism anyway.

Personally, I like the fact that listening to a Relient K cd is full of variety- a few of the songs are almost like worship, and are obviously about God. A few don't have a direct or blatant correlation, but can easily be tied to religion. And finally, a few of the songs are just meant to be fun, or give me the chance to relate to something going on in my life, but don't really say anything about God.

One commenter didn't seem to see God in any of Relient K's lyrics and doubted how they could make someone feel good- for anyone who agrees, I encourage you to check out the lyrics to these songs: Failure to Excommunicate, Getting Into You, I Am Understood?, I So Hate Consequences, Less Is More, and one of my favorites when I'm down, Let It All Out. I also encourage you to listen to these songs-- many of the serious lyrics are set to engaging pop melodies, which might help you see how they cheer people up. Besides, sometimes sad songs make me feel better. Please also remember that while some of Relient K's songs do not outright mention Christ, God, or Jesus- some of the songs are still talking about Christianity or related ideals.

I guess what I'm really coming down to is this. Just because a song doesn't have anything to do with God, does that mean it's anti-Christian?

I say no. To me, Relient K's "Mood Rings" or "In Love With The 80's (Pink Tux to the Prom)" or even VeggieTales' "Silly Songs With Larry" aren't wrong! They're just not explicitly Christian. And that's okay. I think about things other than God, and I don't think I'm wrong for that. To me, saying a non-Christian song is like saying a conversation that doesn't involve God- even if it's not sinful- is wrong. And that seems ridiculous. It's not as if a song about self-esteem or crayons is just as bad as a song about killing- at least to me!

One of the bands mentioned in this whole debate was Superchic(k). Honestly, I've heard one of Superchic(k)'s songs, ever (so I'm uninformed, but also unbiased). But this band was criticized for being so focused on self-esteem instead of on God. Well, to some people... accepting God's love means accepting that you ARE loved, as you are, and that you should feel good about yourself. This isn't a major part of my faith, but I'm not about to criticize the music of a band and say that it's too selfish and "un-Christian" just because I don't personally see its focus as a big part of my own faith.

I think being Christian- or religious, for that matter- is an extremely personal thing and will vary from any one person to another. And therefore I don't think it's easy to say what's "Christian" or not, or to criticize anyone or any group for not being "Christian" enough.

If you really think that Relient K made a bad choice in venue, write to the band. If no one responds in a reasonable amount of time, *then* write a scathing blog that makes it sound like they don't care about their young fans. But this entire blog just felt like a mean attack on a band that, as far as I have ever been able to tell, couldn't be *better* role models for their fans. To me, things that aren't explicitly Christian aren't necessarily against Christianity, and while some people may prefer to avoid anything un-Christian, that's just not the style of my faith- and it certainly doesn't make me wrong.

I bet this guy would tell me I'm making lots of mistakes and committing lots of sins in my life. But- oh well. I don't care if Mr. Dan Burrell thinks I'm Christian enough anyway. It's not his opinion (or anyone's but God) that matters, in the long run.

Monday, June 04, 2007

a step closer to gattaca?

The first person to receive a map of his very own genome was James Watson, of the famous duo Watson and Crick. For those of you who haven't had a biology or genetics course lately, and forget or just don't know, these two men are considered the first to have discovered the structure of DNA. They don't get all the credit- I won't go into it, but basically Watson and Crick made their conclusions from the various works done by other scientists. Still, they officially get credit for recognizing that DNA was a double helix and for introducing the very idea of DNA replication. Anyway, I think it's pretty cool that Watson was chosen as the first person to have this done. (In case you were wondering, Watson's partner Francis Crick has been deceased for over two years.)

It's kind of amazing that, within his lifetime, genetics has moved from DNA having no known structure and no real explanation for how it worked... to being able to tell Watson of his increased likelihood for certain cancers based on his genetic code.

Sure, there could be potential drawbacks to society's pinpointing of 'good' and 'bad' genes, but it's still an impressive amount of growth in just barely over fifty years, and I thought Watson was a classy choice to be 'first.'

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Day Off

I don't have work today. It's glorious. Rather than waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning, I woke up at 1 in the afternoon.

I actually like my job a lot... it's just been a series of very long days, and the weekend was still full of moving home, sorting through my stuff, and moving back to where I'll be this summer. It really didn't provide much of a break, so today feels all that much better.

I guess you just don't appreciate a day of break as much until you need it. :)

Monday, April 23, 2007


The Internet is full of great freebies, but I personally have a hard time downloading something new for the first time. If it's not from a company I immediately recognize and know to be reputable, I can't help but cross my fingers that my precious computer won't get a virus.

This listing is awesome-- it gives 101 great freebie downloads on the Internet. Some of them, I absolutely vouch for (obviously, I like Blogger, but I use Gmail, Picasa, and iTunes a lot too). Others, I think I may have to try. This list provides me with comfort that the programs are going to do more good than harm, but it also tells what the very best are-- and they're all absolutely free. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

food fighters

After writing that last [boring] entry, I thought of something else to blog about.

Today the elementary school I visit twice a week was serving "Texas Straw Hat" as lunch. A few of the college students in my class apparently knew the term well, but most of us were confused and had never heard of "Texas Straw Hat." At least not as food.

I have heard a couple of strange food names, though, so I decided to try to look up some more. Here are some examples, with definitions taken from the source linked on the name of the food.

Texas Strawhat: The site includes some recipes, but from what I saw today, "Texas Straw Hat" is essentially nachos with meat, cheese, lettuce, and similar toppings piled on top.

Baked Alaska: "a dessert made of ice cream (ideally straight from the freezer) placed in a pie dish lined with slices of sponge cake or Christmas pudding and topped with meringue. The entire dessert is then placed in an extremely hot oven just long enough to firm the meringue." (I've had it once, and it's absolutely delicious.)

Pigs In A Blanket
: "In the United States, the term "pigs in a blanket" refers to hot dogs, Vienna sausages, or link sausages wrapped in biscuit dough or crescent-roll dough, and baked." (I recommend checking out the Wiki article on this one- apparently Pigs in a Blanket is actually the name for quite a few different foods. The name's not uncommon to me, but when I think about it... it really is kind of funny.)

Ants on a Log: Celery stalks with peanut butter spread on top, and then sprinkled with a couple of raisins. (...I wonder if the name's supposed to inspire people to eat it? Maybe kids. Celery is really good for you!)

Taco-in-a-Bag/ Walking Taco/Frito Pie
: (Apparently some places call these different things, but I prefer Taco-in-a-Bag. Not only is it straightforward and what I'm used to, but it also doesn't inspire an image of a taco with legs.)

Cheese Zombies: Honestly, the name alone makes me want to try these. Sounds mainly like bread with cheese inside. Maybe like the cheese breadstick thing that I ate at the elementary school last week. If so, they're really good.

Elephant Ear: A large roundish flat piece of fried dough, usually with cinnamon-sugar or powdered sugar on top. It's greasy, it's fatty, and, especially when served hot, it's one of the best-tasting things ever. I get one- from Red Barn- every time I go to a fair. I thought everyone knew what these were, at least in the midwest, but my own boyfriend has yet to ever eat one. And, in fact, didn't know what one was until recently. Don't worry... I'm hoping to introduce him to them at some point, because these things are awesome.

A Few From The UK:
WELSH RAREBIT - "Cheese on toast"
SPOTTED DICK - "A sponge cake pudding thingy with currants" (I'm curious for a bit more information on this one, but I'm really not sure what kinds of things a Google search would give me...)
BUBBLE AND SQUEAK - "Fried potatoes and cabbage"
COCK-A-LEEKIE SOUP -"Scottish soup of chicken and leeks"
BANGERS AND MASH - "Sausages and mashed potato" (Reminds me of Tobias in Arrested Development, haha.)
CURLY-WURLY- A loosely braided caramel plank is covered in milk chocolate. (It's Cadbury- can't be too bad, I wouldn't think.)

Mayonegg: a hard-boiled egg covered in mayonnaise. (Oh, wait, that one's Arrested Development again. Maybe you should just watch the show.)

Well, that was fun. I'm surprised there's not a better list of funny food names (though this site is a good collection of regional foods and Wikipedia doesn't hurt), but I guess a lot of them are regional things and don't necessarily seem strange to the people who live there. Oh well. It was a fun search-- punching someone in the gob
has an all-new meaning to me now!

Feel free to comment with other weird food names you know, have heard of, or find! :)

turkey club

When it comes to lunchmeat, I've never been much of a turkey fan. I'll eat it, but for the most part I prefer ham. (Yeah, I know, this is shaping up to be an incredibly interesting entry so far. Give me a break.)

A turkey club, though, is a fairly basic sandwich, and somehow... I don't think I had one until last summer, when I was at a friend's house and one was offered.

As I chowed down, I realized that I had been seriously missing out on something.

I don't like tomato much, so for me the turkey club consists of white bread, turkey, lettuce, bacon, and mayonnaise. It seems simple, and I know it's common, but I have since become a big fan. I get a turkey club at least once every couple of weeks from the grill in my dorm, because they're delicious and not too unhealthy (especially compared to some of the things I could eat instead).

So, this is me encouraging you to try something you never have. Not necessarily something crazy, though you're free to do what you want. Just try something you've never gotten around to eating before. I dare ya!

(P.S.-- This is me feeling like I should update and looking around for inspiration. In case you didn't notice, my eyes caught the turkey club sandwich in front of me.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

panda sex.


I love the wink at the end.

Apparently Jimmy Kimmel was discussing that zoos are having a hard time getting pandas to mate, and have tried all kinds of things to get them to. Jimmy Kimmel then implied that if anything could get the pandas to sex it up, it would be hearing a romantic ballad by the "sensual" Josh Groban. (He did actually call him sensual, and I can't say I disagree.)

Yay Josh Groban and yay humor!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mainly Too Vain

My roommate's been watching MTV for most of the last few hours. The amount of music videos I've seen is just sad. Is this really "music" TV?

There are 12 "Music Shows" according to MTV's website. There are 60 total shows on MTV, as well.

Maybe I should cut MTV a little slack? This website quotes:
Horizon Media Senior President of Research Brad Adgate said the network has a real challenge.

"It's difficult for MTV to target the teen market, which is very fluid," he said. "Once something becomes too popular, it goes out of vogue with teens. MTV always has to reinvent a new programming genre."

Still, I think MTV is trying so much to target the teen market that they hardly play music anymore- and while I understand they have to keep viewers, they seem to have forgotten they're supposed to be Music Television.

Some of the music shows aren't even what you'd think. MTV's Total Request Live, which I remember watching fairly regularly back in middle school, is a top-10 countdown of music videos. However, instead of Carson Daly introducing the songs, occasionally with a celebrity guest, and boy bands vying for the top spot, TRL these days plays most of the top ten videos for all of 20 seconds, and a few (usually the #10 and #9) don't even get that. Instead, the time is crammed with new video premieres and visits from celebrities (but somehow they're often people I've hardly heard of, or have nothing at all to do with music). Even the played music videos sometimes shrink to half of the TV's size so that someone's poor-quality webcam shoutout can be played next to it. I don't even know why people vote on the songs; if you want to hear them, you really don't get to on TRL anyway.

With all of the non-music shows MTV has, you'd think that there were some good ones. Many of them seem the same to me. MTV has a huge stake in reality television- Real World, Road Rules, and Laguna Beach have all been extremely successful (Real World and Road Rules since the 90's, according to Wikipedia). MTV has also had some success with celebrity reality television, although VH1 seems to advertise their "Celebreality" more clearly. Newlyweds (with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey) as well as The Osbournes (featuring the family of Ozzy Osbourne) are just a couple of examples.

But there's so little variation. Real World is in its millionth season, and every one is basically putting a bunch of people guaranteed to argue and have drama in a really sweet house in some city, and filming. Oh, and they're incredibly good-looking. They're always incredibly good-looking. There's also usually a country girl who is completely naive to urban life, someone who's gay, someone who is incredibly homophobic, someone who's a total player or slut, someone who has a relationship at home, and someone who is absolutely perfect for the person with a relationship.

Many of the shows feature high-class society: Laguna Beach and The Hills chronicle "everyday lives" of pretty girls and preppy boys with way too much money and far too few responsibilities. My Super Sweet Sweet Sixteen keeps the camera aimed on rich girls (and occasionally a boy or two) whose parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a party that their children not only aren't grateful for, but seem to feel entitled to and constantly pitch fits over. "Cribs" goes to homes of celebrities to see the frivolous houses and amenities, and "Pimp My Ride" puts the same sort of ridiculous overspending into a car. I don't know if most people who watch them are jealous or just in disbelief that people 'actually' live like this, but it still seems too ridiculous for me to even watch, most of the time.

There is some occasional variation in MTV shows, and there have been times that I've found things entertaining. But for the most part? It drives me crazy. MTV tells me one minute that I'm cool to be really skinny, dress in next to nothing, spend way too much money, and act like a drama queen- and the next minute, it's cool to turn the lights off when I leave a room to help save the planet. Oh yeah, and occasionally they play a song or two. I don't know where the music went, but MTV seems far more focused on setting trends- or following them, I can't decide which- than playing music. Apparently for some people that works, but me? I just don't care enough about what's 'cool.'

Oh well. I guess I can't complain that much. They did introduce me to a fun music video (click Candyman, and then click Video Mode in the upper right hand corner).

Sunday, March 04, 2007 solo

She stood, perched on two arched feet, her arms poised above her head. She waited as the curtains split and the lights began to come up. Slowly, softly, the first notes of the music picked up, and she rode them through to the audience cheers.

(I couldn't sleep, so I'm online wasting time. I kind of liked this one, though.)

a simile with no like or as

When it storms, I'm always torn between wanting to go inside to get away from it or go outside and be a part of it. There's something awesome about standing out in a fierce storm and watching the lightning or feeling the wind whip by. And even when it feels a little dangerous, there's something fantastic about feeling so much power so close. I don't think I could ever be a tornado chaser or anything, but being out in a regular old thunderstorm can feel exhilarating. Even when storms are frightening or make freezing or soaked- even when they make you feel terrible- it's hard to say you don't feel alive in them.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd do if I had a choice of weather. If there was a set amount of bad weather, precipitation, etc. that had to happen in a month, would I spread it out so that every day was drizzly and breezy, or would I instead make it so that all of the bad weather occurred on one or two days? I could spread the rain out so that it was never very severe or dangerous. But if I smushed all of the bad weather into a short period of time, the other days could be sunny and nice. Even if the storm was terrible, I'd get it over with.

If I had to guess, I think I'd suffer a tough storm or two so that the other days could be enjoyable. I think that's kind of what I do with my emotions; I do my best to let myself get really upset once or twice a month. And even though those days are usually fierce and awful... it lets the sunshine prevail on the other days.

At this point, I don't even think it's much of a conscious choice; it's how I deal with things that upset me, and that's that. I keep everything in check, holding myself back from getting really upset until it's convenient to do so. I don't act vulnerable and weak in situations where it's not optimal, and I try not to get upset in public or around most people I know. Occasionally, though, something hits- whether it be an overflow of hormones, worries building up, or whatever else- and I'm not in control anymore. I can tell I'm just in that kind of mood, and the only thing I can do is to 'prepare for the storm,' so to speak. I deal with things as best I can, but there's not much I can really do to keep myself from getting really upset when I'm in that kind of mood.

Lately, it seems like the times when I'm emotional or upset- my 'storms'- are longer. I used to cry for a night, and feel better. But for the past few months, at least, it seems like I have entire days or even a few days at a time where I'm in a terrible mood and nothing can quite snap me out of it for very long. I used to be able to write about whatever was wrong, and it would make me feel better. Usually, after a good cry and a little sleep, I'd feel back to normal. But lately... writing doesn't seem cathartic anymore, and I can cry and still feel awful. I just have to wait until the storm passes, and I don't seem to have very much control over that.

I don't know. Maybe it is better to spread things out and deal with them in little pieces. Maybe the inconvenience of carrying an umbrella for a week and letting people see my face wet from the rain every once in awhile would be better than facing a horrendous storm every once in awhile. But if that's the case, things are a little less predictable and controllable... and, besides, I think I've been dealing with things the same way for long enough that it'd be really hard to change. My 'weather patterns' are somewhat stuck at this point.

I don't know-- I doubt that there really is any 'good' way of dealing with things like this. Spread out or all together, it's still bad weather and it's still no fun to put up with. It's just that sometimes, when I've been upset for a really long time or had a particularly intense cry... I wonder if things would be better if I dealt with them differently. Who knows, I guess.

*P.S.-- Sorry if the storm metaphor was a little over-used. I just came up with it tonight, and I thought it fit pretty well.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Music Nerdity

Tonight at Swing Dance Club, I learned the basic step to Lindy Hop, a specific style of swing dancing. Up until now, the semester lessons have taught East Coast Swing. This may not be interesting to most people (and I apologize for the dancentricity of this blog lately), but I'm going to reflect on the lesson.

Lindy and East Coast are really pretty different. East Coast always felt a little funny to me because it is a 6-count move, and therefore does not line up with the measures in music with a typical 4/4 or 2/2 time signature. Lindy's different, because it's an 8-count move. In the other styles of dance I've taken (ballet, pointe, tap, and jazz), most music is counted in 8, but music in 3/4 or 6/8 (such as a waltz) is counted in 3 or 6. I like this- because I was in band for 8 years, marching for 4, and church choir for probably at least 5, it bothers me when my movement with music doesn't match the measures. It took me awhile to get used to East Coast for that reason alone. Lindy, luckily, is an 8-count basic move, so the beginning of each basic step will correspond with the beginning of a measure in most music. Hooray!

Anyway. Another difference between East Coast and Lindy is the syncopation of Lindy. While East Coast's steps are all on the beat- 1, 2, 3 (hold 4), 5 (hold 6), repeat... Lindy's aren't- 1, 2, 3, a, 4, 5, 6, 7, a, 8. Actually, last night they explained this as 1, 2, 3, and 4- with the and *just* before the 4. Their explanation of the syncopation was a little weird, and not quite 'correct' as I understand basic music theory. I could be wrong, but as I learned it, "and" is the spot halfway between 2 notes (3-and-4 are straight eighth notes).

In swing music, though, eighth notes are not actually played "straight," instead, they are "swung." A beat can be divided into fourths, which is generally pronounced "3-e-and-a-4"- 'and' is still halfway between 3 and 4, but 'e' is halfway between 3 and 'and,' & 'a' is halfway between 'and' and 4. This gets confusing, I know, but basically, you're dividing the beat into fourths. When an eighth note is "swung," it is not played typically, as 3-and, even though it is written that way; instead, it's played as '3-a," which amounts to playing the second note closer to the beat of 4 instead of directly between 3 and 4.

Swing dancing definitely corresponds to this (especially since it is, of course, often done to swing music)... so, when they are saying the step is 1, 2, 3-and-4 with the 'and' just before 4... what they really mean is 1, 2, 3, a-4. And while I should've been concentrating on learning the basic step, I was instead concentrating on their incorrect words.

I do that sometimes during lessons; I focus on the fact that it feels funny to me to call it a 'roll-step' when I've always known it as a 'ballchange' or something instead of just paying attention. Luckily, they go through everything extremely slowly, and I have plenty of time to muse about band-nerdy and dance-nerdy things. :)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I wonder...

What do most women do if their father, for one reason or another, cannot give them away at their wedding?

As I see it, there are a few options:
-The mother gives her away.
-Another person gives her away (such as brother, uncle, family friend).
-She walks down the aisle alone.

I'm going to be faced with this eventually, and I don't know what I'd want to do. I don't think, at least now, I'm close enough with either of my brothers to feel like they should do that. I don't think any of my other relatives or elder friends are close enough, either. I could have my mother give me away, but... part of me doesn't want someone else to stand there where I feel like my father should be. Still, part of me doesn't want to walk down the aisle by myself.

The weird thing is, this isn't something I need to worry about anytime soon. I know I'm kind of in a bad mood today, somewhat thinky, and a little overemotional... but it's a topic that's come up in my head many, many times since my dad died. I don't think wedding traditions necessarily have to be upheld or anything like that; it just feels to me like it's a role that my dad should be in, and if he can't be... I'm not sure what I would want to happen instead. I'm not sure if other people have come up with any better solutions than I have. I'm not sure I should even attempt to think about it until I need to.

I've said it before, but it scares me a little that I might not be able to fully enjoy big life events because a little part of me is sad that my dad isn't physically there. I know it sounds silly, he wouldn't want it, it probably won't happen, whatever. But I'm afraid that when I'm getting married, having a kid, getting a job, things like that- I won't be able to be 100% happy. And I guess that's okay... it's just depressing to think about.

I know people will want to comment with words of comfort, saying he is here, he's watching over me, etc... but I want him here. I don't want a long-distance relationship with my father, essentially, for the rest of my life, even if that is how things work. I want him to meet the people in my life that I care about, be able to talk to me and offer advice about what's going on in my life, and be physically present at events in my life. My memories are fading, and it hurts to think that eventually I might be left with little more than what photographs and home videos can show me.

I feel selfish worrying so much about a little thing like who's going to walk me down the aisle; really, I do. I'm not at all the only person who's ever had to deal with something similar, and it isn't really that huge of a deal. When it comes down to it, it's my wedding so I'll do things however I damn well please (pretty much, my future husband's the only one who'll have as much say as I do on things). Still, it feels like a big deal to me, because it's one of the few times that everyone isn't there. At your graduation, most parts of your wedding, having a child, etc.-- your father's role is not particularly more prominent than anyone else's. But at your wedding, it is very specifically a father's role to walk his daughter down the aisle and have a last dance with her at the reception. And, sure, there are alternative ways of handing all of that. I just wish, so much, that I didn't even have to think about them.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I wrote a few posts ago about dance, but this post is more specifically about ballet. I'm really missing it this week, and today a fabulous find on YouTube motivated me to get out my pointe shoes, put them on, and dance around the room. I'm not even kidding.

I'm starting swing, and really enjoying it. I've done a tiny bit of mambo, salsa, and some other types of dance... but ballet is somewhat unique.

Ballet is extremely disciplined, as dance forms go. There were times that the monotony of the barrework or the slow precision of port de bras in the center could get a little boring. And especially to those who have never danced, warmups and technique exercises probably seem utterly banal.

In the 13 years I danced ballet, it was fun, but more than that. Dance could become something of an escape for me. This did happen occasionally in another activity, like marching band or guard, but ballet was a little different, either because of its nature or just the fact that I'd done it for so long.

When I get upset over things, it often happens in the form of being what I call 'thinky.' I'll get in a bad mood, for one reason or another, or none at all, and overthink things. I'll think about one bad thing, which reminds me of another, and another... and suddenly I'm overwhelmed with worries, memories, regrets, and other unpleasant thoughts. Sometimes I want to sit around and be mopey, but most of the time I feel like getting away. I feel like pushing it all to the back of my mind and forgetting the world.

When I was thinky, ballet was amazing. As soon as I settled into the familiar routine of barrework, I'd concentrate on my turnout or my extension or how hard my toe was pointing or the shape of my arm... and eventually the soft piano melody just sank in and took over. I'd become so engrossed in the dancing that my problems would go into hiding for the time being. They didn't go away; dancing never made my problems disappear. But somehow, the thoughts driving me crazy would go into hiding for the time being, and I would relax. Pushing off of the floor, reaching into the air, pushing each extension higher, feeling the music... just dancing.

Sports players will talk about being 'in the zone,' and that's exactly what this was like. I would concentrate on moving, performing, dancing... and nothing else mattered. Even after the lesson, I'd come away feeling much more relaxed and so much less stressed than when I came.

It's a difficult thing to describe, but I miss it. I miss the feeling of the music sweeping me away into a world where all that matters is dance, and the rest of my life fades away. It's been a long time since I've felt it, and sometimes when I get really thinky, like earlier this week... I want that escape more than anything in the world.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I've started swing dance club, and I'm really enjoying it. I don't know what I'm doing, but I feel like it's something I could really be good at and have a lot of fun, too. And I miss dancing. Oh, I miss dancing.

I started dance when I was two- almost three- years old. Mom enrolled me in a class at the YWCA, and she said she was pretty sure I'd be good because I was really graceful as a kid. I don't even remember starting dance, I was so young. I do remember some lessons in the room of the YWCA, watching myself in the mirror while I danced, holding the barre-on-wheels in my leotard, tights, and tiny black ballet shoes (only beginners generally wear black shoes). I loved dance. At one point I tried a session of gymnastics, and I liked it, but my parents tried to limit each kid to one major activity when we were little, and I decided to stick with dance. I learned ballet and tap from a lady named Heather for a few years, until her student clientèle got so small (me and one other student) that she quit teaching.

Heather recommended two studios in town- one owned by her former teacher, and one owned by a lady she had studied with under the first teacher. Both were strong proponents of proper technique, and she knew both to be very good teachers. I went to the first studio for a lesson, but the class was terrible. The other girls were talking and misbehaving, and the dance teacher got so mad that she screamed at them and cracked her clipboard in half. I think I was about six at the time, and I was terrified of the old lady.

I visited the second studio with caution, but liked it much better. The teacher was younger, but obviously very experienced, and had a nice studio. She seemed like a good teacher, and very nice, and I started to take lessons there, from Kristie. (If you visit her website, which I just found, I'm in the second picture in the slideshow! So are a million other girls, but I'm still happy.)

I continued to take lessons from Kristie for about ten years, and during that time I met lots of friends from both my school and others. One, in particular, later joined my class in school, and is one of my best friends today despite living across the country (yay for Dominique!). I saw most of the same girls, who were about my level, at least twice a week for rehearsals. My honorary grandmother had always promised to buy my first pair of pointe shoes; apparently she'd danced when she was young and then quit, and had always regretted it. Finally, my dance teacher said I was ready to move up on pointe, and I was thrilled. Grandma Fran sent a check, and I was off to get fitted for my first pair of pointe shoes. After learning just the basics, my parents filmed a short video clip of me dancing on pointe to send to my grandma, and shortly thereafter, she died of cancer. Maybe not in person, but she did get to see me dance on pointe before she died, and that makes me happy. I danced on pointe as well as flat from then on.

One year I was in Stage Struck, the performing group. Quite a few of my dances were taken to the Indiana State Dance Championships (less of a competition, more of a place to get feedback from judges). We had recitals every two years. For about a year, I helped with a dance class for 3-year-olds. At one point, I started taking jazz (fast-paced, more modern dance... usually to pop music)... at one point, I stopped taking tap (it met on another night, and I couldn't drive yet, and Mom said three nights a week was just too much). I took a class in Cecchetti (a specific method and technique) and passed the grade 1 exam.

This isn't to brag; I honestly wasn't especially great at dance. Sure, I had some idea what I was doing and I wasn't bad, but... I took lessons for 13 years. If I completely sucked after that long, it'd be pretty sad. I had very few things in which I really excelled-- my back was very flexible, though, and my arabesques were occasionally used as an example (and, believe me, it was a high compliment to even be complimented, much less used as an example for others). Pretty much, though, I was the average to low-ability dance student in the oldest class, and I was okay with that.

Slowly, some of my friends left dance for one reason or another. The class mainly had older people I didn't know as well, and younger people who I got along with, but... probably one of my best friends in dance around the time I quit was 3 or 4 years younger than me. It wasn't an ideal situation, and as I added more and more activities to my schedule in high school, I started to dread dance rather than look forward to it. Eventually, I joined winterguard (where, ironically, my dance skills were praised to high heaven and I was utilized- my first year, at least- almost exclusively for dance parts, including a massive solo). Winterguard practices ended up meaning a lot of missed dance classes during a year where we were learning dances for an upcoming recital.

Finally, my dance teacher pulled me aside and told me that she didn't think I'd been there enough to be in the dances in the recital, despite coming sometimes and having already purchased costumes (which are usually about $50 each). She had a point; I'd missed a lot, and it would take a lot of time to learn the dances and get good enough to perform them. Still, it was a tough decision- like I said, as long as I could remember, I'd been in dance. But between having less friends in dance and not as much time and not enjoying it as much anymore and this... I decided to quit.

I don't really regret it-- I think it was best for me. But that doesn't mean I don't miss it sometimes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

puppy love

I wrote a cheesy, very short story the other day for my class. I had to write a "narrative" about anything I wanted, and since my first text example in that class had been about my pirate dog stuffed animal, I stuck with that. It's nothing I'm really proud of, but I figure I'll share it anyway. Enjoy.


Wesley sighed. He crumpled up the note in his paw and shoved it into his desk, along with the four others he’d written and rejected that day.

Wesley had desperately wanted to ask Adelaide, the prettiest puppy in his class, to the Valentine’s Dance... but it soon became apparent that he wasn’t the only one. Adelaide had been approached by no less than three other guy puppies that afternoon, and each time she smiled and giggled so much that Wesley could only assume she was accepting an offer to go to the dance.

“Oh, come on,” the girl next to Wesley said. Rachel was never afraid to point out anyone’s wrongs; however, she actually was pretty observant and had a good idea of whatever was going on in the classroom at all times.

“What?” Wesley feigned innocence, but Rachel was not easily fooled.

“Just ask her already!” Rachel urged, rolling her eyes.

“Rachel, I have no chance. Besides, I’m sure she already has a date,” Wesley said.

“No way,” Rachel retorted. “She would’ve written a note to her best friend if she’d said yes to someone already.” Rachel had a point, and while she was often a pain, Wesley knew that he could trust her advice.

Wesley grabbed the last note he’d squished and did his best to flatten it out. He carefully wrote Adelaide’s name on top of the small, folded note, and he stood up to sneak it to her desk.

Wesley stood up too fast, though, and tripped over his backpack. The note spilled out of Wesley’s hand, and the teacher scooped it up almost immediately.

“Wesley?” she asked, looking at the shy, studious pup with surprise. “I’m sorry, but you know the policy on passing notes in class.”

Mrs. Buttercream, a sweet older dog who would’ve never expected Wesley, one of her brightest and most obedient students to be caught passing a note. Nevertheless, her long-standing policy was strict, and she reluctantly unfolded the note. “Adelaide,” she read, “Even though I don’t know you well, I think you are beautiful and sweet as a cupcake. Would you please go to the dance with me?”

Wesley, now back in his seat, lowered his head to the desk in shame, but not before he heard the class erupt in laughter, Adelaide’s ringing high above the rest.

“I’m sorry,” Rachel whispered.

“This is all your fault!” Wesley mumbled as Mrs. Buttercream fought to get the raucous class back under control.

“Hey!” Rachel protested. “I think you’re partly to blame for liking such a prissy, pretentious pup when you have other, nice girls that like you a lot.”

“Oh yeah?” Wesley challenged, lifting his head from the desk. “Like who?”

And it was then, when Rachel suddenly became silent and avoided eye contact, that Wesley knew.

He and Rachel had a fabulous time at the Valentine’s dance.

Monday, January 22, 2007

let it snow

(I'm the one in the pink coat on the front sled with my dad and little brother.)

One winter, when I was in second grade, my family went sledding with two families from our church. We've always done a lot with these two families- even now, we eat pizza once a week with one of them, and see the other family at least twice a year for camping and winter camping (they now live in a different state).

At home, I live just down the street from a park with plenty of great sledding hills. They're usually packed full of people after a big snow, but we would usually walk down there, too. This particular year, we'd met up with the other two families and we'd all spent a few hours careening down the hills, fighting over who got the good sleds, trying to see who could get the farthest, and steering to avoid trees and other sledders.

Finally, the parents told us that it was time to go. All of the kids, of course, were numb to the cold, too- but didn't want to leave. We begged for one last run down the hill, and the adults relented. "Just one last time," they reminded us.

I took off down the hill, sitting in a long, orange sled, enjoying the feeling of the wind and snowflakes in my face as I slid over the snow. When I'd finally reached the bottom, I trudged back up the hill, pulling the sled behind me by a rope attached to it.

As I walked up the hill for the last time, as I'd done so many times just that day, another sled came barrelling down the hill diagonally, almost running into me. The sled narrowly missed me, but the rope of my sled caught on their sled. Their sled kept going, and my rope tried to go with it, yanking my arm hard.

I started crying almost immediately, and hurried up the hill, holding my arm. The parents regretted letting us go down "one last time" when they realized I needed to go to the emergency room.

I only ended up with a badly sprained right arm. The doctors said it was almost broken, and so for weeks afterwards my arm was wrapped up and put in a Snoopy sling. I got out of doing some handwriting assignments at school, and I remember thinking that was awesome.

Since then, my family went sledding one more time together. On that trip, my older brother chipped a tooth badly. After that, my parents decided it was best to take a break from sledding for awhile, and we didn't go for a few years. And after that, we were old enough that we sometimes preferred hanging out with our friends to our family, so we've never really gone again. I did go once with friends in high school, but it's been awhile since I've gone sledding.

Last week I started going into an elementary school for my teaching classes. The first day we went, there was a small amount of snow on the ground, and the kids were so excited. My third graders were all telling me stories of playing in the snow in the past, or writing about what they were going to do after school.

It's snowing again today, and I overheard some college students making plans to go sledding. It reminded me of this story, and made me smile.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

believe in blue


I just went to this site, and the purpose is kind of fun. It has you answer five questions and tells you which team still in the playoffs you should cheer for. Although I'm against being a bandwagon fan, I decided to take it and see what they said.

For the record, I'm a Packers fan from Indiana. This means that, with the Packers out of the playoffs, I'm cheering for the Colts. If the Colts didn't win Sunday, I'd probably cheer for the Saints. I don't particularly like them, but I don't not like them. Next, it's hard to even say... I strongly dislike the Patriots for not really many good reasons (and they've had enough Super Bowls lately), and I hate the Bears (mainly because I'm a Packers fan, and they're our biggest rival). Let's just put it this way: I love football, but if we got down to a Patriots/Bears Super Bowl, I wouldn't really want to cheer for either team. I could go into the reasons why... but I'll save that for if it happens.

Anyway, this website is supposed to tell me which team I'm best suited to cheer for, and going into it, I know that my preferred teams are in this order: Colts, Saints, Patriots/Bears (I really can't decide). I went through their series of questions, none of which seem related to football (they somehow do relate them, but I guess I was expecting them to ask if you preferred watching more runs or passes, what style of offense, legacy vs. new teams, etc.). Finally, I got to the end, and after some buildup...

I got the Patriots. Ewww, ewww, ewww.

I tried it again, determined to not get the Patriots. And I didn't.

I got the Bears. Seriously, what the heck.

I tried one final time (the questions vary a little, which is good)... and got the Saints. Still not my preferred team, but I could at least deal with it.

Anyway. I may be a Cheesehead first and foremost, but Colts are close to home and almost always second on my list of teams to cheer for. I think Peyton Manning gets a little too much hype (at least around here), but he is a great quarterback with a ton of talent around him, both on offense and defense. They've played really well, and hopefully will keep playing well enough to win a Super Bowl. Go Colts! :)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Peter Pan

I ran across an interesting article the other day. Those of you that know me probably know that I love biology- I started college as a bio major, worked at biology/science camps over the summer, and generally find a lot of biology topics to be very interesting.

Anyway, let me summarize this article for you (but please, feel free to read it all!): parents of a severely disabled girl named Ashley have given her a treatment to stunt her growth so that she is easier to care for. Ashley was 6 years old (she is now 9), with a disability that both doctors and parents doubt will improve. She was given intense hormone therapy, a hysterectomy, and breast bud removal. Her parents argue that this treatment will benefit Ashley, but there are obvious ethical concerns. Even if this case makes sense, some people seem to worry that the case could be a dangerous precedent for future cases.

I don't profess to have any clue what the parents of a severely disabled child go through each day; I have done some babysitting for a child with some disabilities, and even for short periods of time, I can see that it would be a huge challenge. It's great that these parents want to be able to continue caring for their child, I think, and they definitely have plenty of arguments for the "Ashley treatment," as they have called it. Ashley's doctors have been up front about the procedure, going through a hospital ethics committee and publishing about the case. I can understand much of the reasoning they say, but at the same time, I'm not sure I can say I believe it's right.

Stunting her growth is interesting to me because I had a friend with the opposite problem. She was abnormally small and short, and used hormone therapy over the course of a few years so that she could reach a typical height and weight (she's actually taller than me now, and I'm about 5'4). The shortage of growth hormones was also likely to affect her in other, less superficial ways, so this friend and her parents decided to pursue the option. However, this case is very different from Ashley's; not only was my friend's treatment correcting something abnormal and harmful, but she also was old enough and smart enough to have some say in the treatment (and eventually, give herself the shots each day).

In Ashley's case, she has no say in the treatment (her parents aren't even sure that she can recognize her family). Ashley was also on her way to physically end up like any human without a special condition. Part of me feels strange about that, but part of me doesn't. After all, each person has their own unique DNA, which gives the body 'instructions' for how they are supposed to turn out. Who's to say that it's 'right' to alter anything about the body, whether we think it's abnormal or not? Then again, who can accurately predict whether or not the treatment (especially the hormone therapy) will have any unforeseen long-term effects?

I'm also kind of afraid that this sort of treatment will be used more frequently. The thing with moral dilemmas is that there are arguments to go both ways, and that there is rarely a definite reason why they should or shouldn't occur. In this particular case, it seems okay to me- but the "Ashley treatment" is in no way necessary. Where will the boundary of right and wrong fall with future cases? What if the surgery is used for superficial reasons? If someone's entire family is tall, and they just don't want to have to buy clothes in special stores, would we allow them to stunt their growth?

Most of Ashley's parents' defense seems to be reasonable, but most of the reasons essentially are that she will be easier to care for. Ashley may benefit from this; she may not. Ashley's parents certainly will, though. Are parents too biased to make this sort of decision, or are they the only ones informed enough about the situation to make it?

It's a tough case, and lots of people have given their opinions on the matter. When it comes down to it, though, the case didn't really become public until three years after the girl began treatment. The parents and doctors have tried their best to explain the point of view that led them to pursue the treatment, and while others may argue... essentially, it's to no avail. No matter what anyone says at this point, this specific case is settled. Right or wrong-- Ashley has successfully undergone the treatment, with no known complications, and any damage has already been done.

I don't know whether it's right or wrong... but I sure hope the treatment really works well for Ashley.

Monday, January 08, 2007

service, please

One of the fun things about blogs is that anyone can be "published." Maybe it's just because I've always enjoyed reading and writing, but I think the idea of being published is exciting. And even more exciting is the possibility of being "discovered." I realize that it's incredibly unlikely, but there definitely are people who've become famous- both online and off- because of their blogs.

Most of the blogs I check are written by friends of mine, but I do occasionally run across some interesting blogs that I keep visiting.

I've never worked in a restaurant, but I definitely don't think a waiter has an easy job, and this blog confirms it. The writer is entertaining and insightful. He writes about his life in New York working at a popular bistro (though he recently quit), and I think it's worth a read.

Go, enjoy. :)