Thursday, October 30, 2008

avoiding trick-or-treaters

The light in the stairwell outside my apartment burned out about a week ago. I've been holding off on calling my landlord about it because of this brilliant idea: what parent in their right mind would let their child go up a dark stairwell to trick-or-treat? I'll just enclose a note with my rent check on Saturday--after Halloween!

Of course, there are some crazy people out there . . . this is what happened to me last year on Halloween:
*Halloween--we had Awana, so I figured I wouldn't need to worry about buying any candy. I was wrong. I got home around 8:45, immediately put on my pajamas, and got ready to relax. Pretty soon, I heard a knock at the door. I figured it was cousin Jon, who often will stop by after Awana. I went to the door and opened my mouth to tell him I'd let him in in a minute . . . but as I opened my mouth, I glanced through the peephole and saw a woman standing there. I can only assume a child was at the door--I couldn't see anyone else. Two thoughts ran through my head: 1--I'm not decent; I can't open the door, and 2--I don't have any candy; I can't open the door! So I tiptoed back to my bedroom. Then I heard another knock. A few seconds later, another. The knocking escalated to full-fledged pounding, and it lasted for a good two minutes! It was like the lady knew I was home, and since I was home, I was obligated to give her kid candy! (And as for the whole "if the porch light is on, the person has candy" thing, I live in an apartment building--the hall lights are always on! I had all my shades closed and the lights in the front part of the apartment were off . . . but evidently my hall light being on gave her the right to pound on my door?)
I did buy candy this year, just in case!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i stand corrected

Sometimes I forget that in the age of the internet, you can connect with practically anyone. (Thus, I am Facebook friends with my favorite Lost blogger.) I was reminded of this fact when I received a comment on my last post from Eric Wilson. Who is Eric Wilson, you ask? He's the guy whose book I'll soon be reviewing for Thomas Nelson.

Here's what he had to say:
Just to clarify, I started pitching the idea for my series before Twilight even came out. I would never try to capitalize on the success of something else. I despise it when Christians try to imitate the worldly successes. I write what I want to write--usually to my own detriment.

Thanks for giving it a chance, though.
I'm glad he wrote. Although my blog is mainly filled with personal opinions and reflections, I do want to be as accurate as possible. My statement yesterday about Wilson's book capitalizing on Twilight's success was pure conjecture; now that I know it's false, I want to be sure my readers know that, too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

becoming a book review blogger

I wrote my first book review in college. I was in a class that required us to have an article published in order to get an A, and, well, I've always been all about the A's! I had actually resigned myself to a B+ when I noticed a stack of newspapers in the campus post office. I picked one up and took it back to my room to read. The paper was called J!, and I noticed an ad on the inside that gave an email address to contact if you were interested in writing for them. Was I ever! Fortunately, Martt, the editor, was also interested in having me write for them. I wrote a review of The Rescuer by Dee Henderson (it was the last book I'd read for fun . . . and as a college student, I didn't have a lot of spare time for reading). Martt published it in the December 2003 issue, and I got my A.

A few weeks later, I got an email from Martt, inviting me to meet with him and his wife if I was interested in continuing to write for them. I had every intention of doing just that, but it slipped through the cracks, and I never did have any more contact with him. Now, I wonder how my life would be different if I had followed through . . .

About a month ago, I wrote my second book review. This was part of a special promotion Thomas Nelson Publishers was running: review Lynne Spears' new book in exchange for a free copy. I couldn't pass it up.

Today, I got an email from Thomas Nelson. Evidently, the response to the free book offer was overwhelming, so they decided to set up Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers. Anyone who has a blog can sign up to be a reviewer. It's very simple: you pick from a list of titles they want reviewed (currently there are nine titles available), they send you a free copy, you read it and post a 200-word review on your blog and on, and then you can pick a new book. They also link to your blog on the Book Review Bloggers site . . . so it could increase traffic to your blog!

I, of course, signed up right away. My next book is Field of Blood by Eric Wilson. It's a vampire book--perhaps published to capitalize on the success of the Twilight series. I have never had any interest in anything vampire-related, but after reading Wilson's introduction, I'm curious.

So I'm still not being paid to write, but this is a step in the right direction!

If you're interested in becoming a Book Review Blogger, you can find out more here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

thoughts from six hours in parent-teacher conferences

  • We should have scheduled conferences. Then I wouldn't have to sit here for six hours waiting for 10 parents to come through.
  • I really love proofreading. How do I become a freelance proofreader?
  • Smart move turning my phone to vibrate. The chorus of "So Happy Together," for some reason I can't remember, is the ringtone I've set for the school. Since Mom was in the office, and I was in the gym, she called me several times to give people messages, etc. If "I can't see me loving nobody but you . . ." suddenly came blaring from my phone, well, that would be pretty embarrassing and could lead to lots of unwelcome questions!
  • Four hours in, and I've talked with four sets of parents. Six to go . . . I'm betting I'll only see one or two more, though.
  • One minute later, I've seen another set of parents.
  • I just got a big hug from one of my three favorite little boys, and then he "helped" me cross-stitch . . . I've missed seeing him since I switched churches!
  • I am, right now, missing Chuck. I only watch sporadically, but I really enjoyed last week's episode guest starring Cory. Ah, how I loved Boy Meets World!
  • Just chatted with another of my favorite boys in the world. I see him every week at Sparks and every once in a while at school, but I still loved seeing him!
  • 7:38. None of my parents (save ones I've already talked to) are even in the room. Can I go home now?
  • Talked with my Sparks co-director. We need to make some changes regarding our leaders. We meet with them practically every week after club . . . are they at the point where they don't even hear what we're saying?
  • Finally put away my cross-stitch. Gym lighting is not conducive to putting a needle through small holes.
  • Swapped stories with one of the science teachers for a few minutes. Four minutes to go!
  • 8:00 sharp. I'm out of here!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

more free music

I've been downloading music from NoiseTrade for a while now; if you like free music (and who doesn't!), you should check it out. So far, Derek Webb (of Caedmon's Call) is my favorite NoiseTrade artist, but you can also get stuff from Phil Joel, Sixpence None the Richer, Sandra McCracken, and many others.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

an addictive timewaster

Have a little time to spare? Try out the Eyeballing Game. I've played probably 15 times in the last two days. My best score was in the 6's. I'm truly terrible at convergence and excellent at bisect angle. Check it out!

rethinking my position

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Obama's response to the "when does life begin" question. At the time, I said that a candidate's stance on abortion was important, but perhaps not the most important issue. Two months later, I've reversed my opinion. How can I, in good conscience, vote for someone who will not defend life? I know this is a touchy issue, and Christians all over are debating it. In fact, I just read something about it on the Boundless Line. While I've never had any intention of voting for Obama, his stance on abortion hasn't bothered me enough. I guess the thing is that I've heard about abortion my whole life. I know it's horrible. I know it's murder. And I'm tired of hearing about it. I've seen so little progress, and I would be flabbergasted if we ever saw the reversal of Roe v. Wade. And so, because I'm so tired of it, I stop thinking about it . . . and I no longer consider it as important of an issue as it really is.

This morning, I came across a blog called The Dawn Patrol. The author is a conservative Catholic, and she reprinted a blog post from a pro-choice med student who spent the day shadowing doctors at an abortion clinic. You can read the post by clicking the link above. You'll have to scroll down a bit; look for the headline "I saw some things I can't get out of my head." Wherever you stand on abortion, please click through to The Dawn Patrol. What you read there will make you think.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

it's pete!

Last week I mentioned Ryan Reynolds . . . who I still choose to believe I saw in Stratford. I was a big fan of his sitcom Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, and I have fond memories of watching it with Andrew. Especially the Halloween brain-swapping episode.

Berg, as I'll always think of him, is the cast member who has reached the highest level of fame, and after "seeing" him, I started wondering what happened to everyone else. I saw Ashley on Bones a couple of years ago, and apparently she's just done some guest spots on various shows. Johnny starred in Firefly (thanks to Andrew & Susan for introducing me to it!) and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and Sharon is Monk's assistant. (And I've just now remembered, with the help of imdb, that she was Joy on Boston Common before Two Guys and a Girl. That's another show Andrew and I watched that Mom wouldn't have approved of. Really, we watched a lot of shows Mom wouldn't have approved of. I didn't have much discretion when it came to media back then.) But what about Pete? He was my favorite character on the show, and I always hated that he and Sharon never got together. I can't remember seeing him anywhere since the end of the show.

I got my new TV Guide yesterday. On almost every page of the TV listings, there's an ad for a new Lifetime show called Rita Rocks . . . which is probably ridiculously stupid . . . Only the female lead's face is showing in the ads, but I thought the guy playing the husband looked suspiciously familiar, and I was right--IT'S PETE :-) So I'll probably give the show a look see . . .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

make a joyful noise

Singing Christmas Tree practices started today. I'm so excited about singing again! (I'm also excited about seeing Melissa on a more regular basis . . . we'll have lots of time together with all the rehearsals and performances in the next two months!) We're doing a few songs that we did when I sang three years ago. The music is really good, and I think the drama will be as well--it's the Apostle Paul telling other inmates about Jesus while he's in prison. Be sure to get your tickets!

a road map

I don't know how many times in my life I've said, "I wish God would just drop a map from the sky telling me what to do!"

My pastor is preaching a series on faith. Today he talked about Abraham. I've often struggled with what God wants me to do with my life. Who hasn't? And it's in those times of uncertainty that I've wished for that road map. But Pastor Mike said something today that hit me as one of those "duh" statements--it should have been so clear to me before, but it wasn't. He said, "I'm glad God hasn't dropped a map for my life into my lap. I couldn't handle it!" That's so true! If I knew what would happen to me farther on down the line, I might be less inclined to follow God now. What if I knew that I would die of cancer, or I'd be thrown in jail because of my faith, or I'd never get married, or I'd end up a missionary in ____? (I wanted to say "Africa"--not because I despise the thought of Africa, but because of that old Scott Wesley Brown song!) Sometimes knowing is worse than not knowing. I'm a worrier (well, recovering . . . I don't worry nearly as much as I used to) . . . I'd probably give myself ulcers!

Pastor Mike said something else today that really made me think: "Do what you already know is God's will, and He'll lead you step-by-step." Another "duh"--the Bible is full of things God has commanded us to do. I should concentrate on being obedient to God right now, where I'm at, and trust Him to show me when it's time to take the next step. Every time I've needed to make a big decision about school, or a job, or moving, God has clearly shown me in His time. Waiting: that's the hard part.

indiana, canada, indiana

I started this a week ago and forgot about it . . .

It's 8 p.m. on Sunday night, and I'm sitting in my sister's living room in Kent Hall at Grace. I think this is the 9th time I've been back at Grace since graduation, and each time, it gets a little less surreal. I realized today as I walked around campus that I've now been gone from Grace for longer than I was here. Weird.

Steph and I left school early on Thursday to begin our trek to Indiana. Why? To join 22 others on a trip to Stratford, Ontario, for the Shakespeare Festival. We left Central City shortly after noon, and we arrived at Grace just before 2 a.m. The trip took us 13 hours instead of the normal 11 to 12 because we had a bit of car trouble. Nothing major, but it served to freak me out, nonetheless.

So we arrived at Grace at 2, and we had to load the vans for Canada at 4:50! I normally can't sleep in cars, but I had no trouble when I was running on less than two hours of sleep!

Canada was awesome. We saw The Taming of the Shrew and Hamlet. Hamlet was my favorite. It was set in the 1910's . . . some people with us were unhappy in the change of setting, but I thought it worked wonderfully. Plus, the guy who played Hamlet and the girl who played Ophelia both did an amazing job.

We had great seats for Hamlet--I think we were about 12 rows from the center front. A few minutes into the play, I looked over to the left and saw . . . at least I choose to believe I saw . . . Ryan Reynolds! Admittedly, the chances of Berg being at a play on a Friday night less than a week after his wedding are slim, but this guy looked exactly like him!

It's now one week after our trip, but I feel like it was months ago. I guess that's what happens when you go back to real life! Anyway, back to Canada . . .

We skipped the after play dessert basically because I was exhausted. We stayed at the Stratford Hospital Nurses' Residence Hall . . . it was fine for a night, but I'm oh so thankful for Grace's dorms! I was totally spoiled!

On Saturday, we spent the morning and early afternoon shopping in Stratford. Val and I went on this trip two years ago, and we found this adorable shop that sold cute dishes and had cats roaming the store. I fell in love with a set of dishes but didn't buy them--and I've regretted it ever since. We went back there on Saturday, and while they didn't have any place settings left in that pattern, they did have soup bowls and two serving dishes. So I bought the soup bowls, and Steph bought the serving dishes for my Christmas present. Yay!

We got back to Grace late Saturday night, and Sunday we went to Christ's Covenant. The sermon was good, the worship was great, but my favorite part was slipping into the row next to Sarah, saying "good morning," and seeing the look on her face when she realized it was me :-) I'd intended to tell her we were coming, but I forgot . . . and I think it was more fun this way!

Steph went on a campus tour on Monday, and we drove home. That's our trip in a nutshell! You can see pictures here.

lynne spears: not just britney's mother

I received a complimentary copy of Through the Storm from Thomas Nelson (the publisher) to review.

Through the Storm is a compelling read. Lynne Spears isn’t interested in spilling all the scandalous details of Britney’s recent past; rather, she’s telling her own story. This is the story of a wife dealing with an alcoholic husband and crumbling marriage; the story of a sister facing the loss of the sibling she’d looked up to her whole life; the story of a mother who simply wanted the best for her children.

Yes, Spears was naïve, which she freely admits. At times, I wanted to yell, “What were you THINKING?” But the fact that she reveals her naiveté adds credence to her words. Especially powerful is her description of the day Jamie Lynn revealed her pregnancy. I could feel Spears’ fear, anger, and heartbreak, and I found myself empathizing with her.

The one thing that detracts from the book is its lack of organization. It’s not strictly chronological, which causes some confusion. In most cases, each chapter picks up where the previous left off, but then chapters like “Friends,” in which Spears discusses her best friends, break into the continuity. When I started the next chapter, I wondered where Spears was in the timeline of her life.

However, the lack of organization is a minor detail; Spears is a good storyteller, and it’s easy to get swept up in each story and not worry too much about where it fits in chronologically.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

update on my goals

So, here's how I did:
  • read 50-100 pages of Lynne Spears' autobiography I actually finished the book last night.
  • begin jotting down thoughts for review of said book No notes, but I did start thinking about the review. I stumbled upon an opportunity to get a free book in exchange for writing a 200-word review and posting it on Amazon and on my blog. So look for that sometime in the next week.
  • work on my novel If typing a page I wrote in Steph's notebook on our trip counts as working on the novel, then I succeeded.
  • wash dishes Who was I kidding???
  • call Val Called, left message.
  • flip between NCIS and Dancing with the Stars Nixed NCIS in favor of Dancing. I made the wrong choice.
  • grade journals Didn't happen.
  • upload pictures from Canada trip Spent over an hour editing pictures in Picasa and uploading them to Facebook. Check out the album here.
  • have dinner with the fam Goulash. Delicious.
  • unpack Took clothes out of suitcase, put clean ones on the floor and dirty ones in the hamper. So I sort of succeeded.
  • go to bed before midnight Lights out at 11:30.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

evening agenda

Just returned from Canada and Indiana, and I've hit the ground running.  After a crazy day at work (where I spent hours designing a postcard, thanks to a sketchy internet connection), I still have a million things to do.  On the agenda: 
  • read 50-100 pages of Lynne Spears' autobiography
  • begin jotting down thoughts for review of said book
  • work on my novel
  • wash dishes
  • call Val
  • flip between NCIS and Dancing with the Stars
  • grade journals
  • upload pictures from Canada trip
  • have dinner with the fam
  • unpack
  • go to bed before midnight
We'll see how I do.