Friday, August 31, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

1. One of these days, probably sooner than later, I will have to move from Midtown/downtown Atlanta. I will miss it! Today I walked a mile and a half to meet a friend for lunch at her husband's restaurant, and on my way there, I deduced three things just from watching the people around me: 1) The University of Tennessee is playing in town this weekend (football, of course), and their color is orange (I believe they're playing Georgia State, based on a conversation I overheard in the deli). 2) North Carolina (State?) is playing in town this weekend, and their color is red (there just wasn't enough black for it to be UGA). 3) Dragon*Con starts today! Okay, so I knew Dragon*Con was in town this weekend, but it was fantastic to walk down Peachtree St and see costumes galore! Flashbacks to high school, really. Someday I may even go. :)

But the thing I'll miss most about Atlanta itself is actually our homeless people. Their kind compliments and harmless hollas have always been a source of joy, but some days they're more fun than others. Today I took a different route home from lunch, and was surprised to see that Woodruff Park has a Chess Court with chessboard tables and a large chessboard:

Not quite as large as the chessboard we played on in Salzburg,

but still pretty darn cool. Anyway, so as my attention was distracted by these, I saw a gentleman stand up and say, "I didn't know the sun rose twice today!" (A photo of himself, courtesy of Google/Flickr.) He offered to tour me around the park, then to walk me to the MARTA (subway) station that I declared a need to get to, and generally chatted pleasantly and praised my beauty. He, of course, asked if I could spare a buck; I always respond that I don't have any cash, but I'd be glad to buy him something. He did let me buy him two slices of pizza and a drink, which was just lovely. It's an awesome gift to feed the hungry, especially when you know your money is going entirely toward food.

2. I firmly believe that everyone's first car should be an old car, and they should drive it into the ground, if only for how much they learn about cars in the process. My car spent five of the last seven days at one mechanic's or another (don't worry; all fixed for under $200), and when I first brought it in, without even preparing what I'd say I easily explained what noises (and smells and kind of smoke) I heard when, what the car's been through before, and what else seemed to be affected. Just bringing the car in to get things changed every now and again has made me very aware of this potentially deadly machine that I drive around all the time like it's nothing. Don't get me wrong, I still don't know much about cars. But I know about my car, and I've learned how to report its symptoms to the mechanic (possibly better than I can report symptoms of a physical ailment to a doctor), and that seems to me an inestimable strength.

3. So my parents left yesterday morning for a week and a half in Hawaii. My best friend leaves tonight for a week in Israel. How is it that the two people I call most frequently are off the continent at the same time!? It may be a long week...

4. A friend of mine recently hosted a showing of the new documentary Miss Representation:

Ordinarily, I would stay faaaaaaaaaaar away from a project that headlines Oprah, Gloria Steinem, and Nancy Pelosi, but I'd seen the trailer, and it appeared to contain more truth than agenda, so I went to watch and discuss.

It warms my heart when people who value different things can agree on something more important than their differences. The oversexualization of women in our culture is hurting girls from early childhood (also men and boys, respectively, as we discussed), in ways that they carry with them into adulthood. Additionally, for being such a forward-thinking country in theory, the U.S. lags far behind many other nations regarding women in politics (I would love to learn more about how this works in practice in said dozens of other countries.) I am kind of surprised that I recommend this film, but I do, especially if an intelligent discussion is to be had by the viewers afterward.

Language advisory: There are several moments when the women speaking use uncouth language; it wasn't frequent, but when it was there, it was unabashedly there. I mention this because I know it bothers some more than others. The media images shown are really far more offensive than the language, which is by design; this really is a film designed for adults.

5. I am officially a published author! The article based on my Master's thesis was printed in the journal of the organization at whose conference I presented the same paper in January:

Society for Catholic Liturgy Conference, January 2012, St Louis

Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Summer 2012)

At first my delight was overshadowed by shock and disappointment that they truncated my title (removing its subtitle, "Reverence in Celebration and Active Participation"), but then I decided to get over it and just be excited. Besides, that feeling is probably helpful to me as a copy editor. Solidarity with authors!

In the meantime, I'm waiting for my author copies of Liturgy Training Publications' The Liturgy Documents: Volume II, and they've contracted me for the 2014 version of other annual publications, even after I lost my job with its conveniently respectable subtitle. Not only is this plenty of fun and a good exercise for my brain, it's also very kind of them to continue to employ me. Besides how crazy is it to see my name next to much more prominent liturgists like Fr Cassian Folsom, Fr Paul Turner, and Fr Rick Hilgartner!? My life has its sufferings, but it's also really darn cool sometimes. :D

6. So I've been watching the BBC series Merlin recently, which loosely takes inspiration from Smallville insofar as it's the "before his powers were known / before he was famous" take on things. It's just a fun take on the legend, as King Uther has banned magic and essentially waged war on all magic users, so naturally sorcerers come in every other episode trying to destroy his kingdom...

It's been a fun show, but what's got me tickled pink is that they've used actual Eald Englisc (that would be Old English for you modern Anglophones) for the words of all their spells! (Example that I couldn't embed here) Granted, my one college course in Old English has not caused me to retain enough vocabulary to recognize more than the occasional conjunction, but there's no doubt in my mind that they've leaned on the ancient linguistic patrimony of the British Isles for their spells (which, in other series, are often Latinate), and that is awesome. I don't recognize what language they use for the dragon-speak, but I suspect it's Old Welsh or something Celtic. As one who very nearly pursued a career in linguistics, this kind of unnecessary-but-fruitful use of dead languages makes me very, very happy. :)

7. Facebook is a-twitter (no pun intended) about the new Mumford and Sons album that's being released at the end of next month. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to it as well, but I'm far more excited about the new Avett Brothers album, which they have had the kindness to release on my birthday! You can even listen to the entire album online now, courtesy of NPR. I really enjoy their rock-influenced bluegrassy/bluesy folk!

Yeah, they are kind of hipster, but their music isn't nearly so pretentious.

I think "quick" takes are probably supposed to be briefer than mine usually are... Hmm... Well, thanks for reading part or all!

Friday, August 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1. Okay, I'm doing this. It'll keep me accountable to posting at least weekly, though I'll of course try for more. Liz and Susanna have both discussed with me how we want to get back to the blogging we once did regularly. And they both have adorable children who do hilarious things, as well as keen minds; what more can a girl ask from her old blogging buddies?

2. This past weekend, a few of us were supposed to go peach picking, but all the orchards were suddenly picked out, so we went on a multi-location adventure in the North Georgia mountains instead. Possibly one of the most memorable random places I've ever visited: Goats on the Roof. It's a country store and ice creamery that actually has goats living on the roof.
I believe this was just after we fed them.

Be warned: their ice cream is delicious, but oh my goodness, what portions! Biggest ice cream cone of my life. Seriously, I think it was a quarter pound of ice cream, for $4. Now, I don't know exactly why or how they have goats on their roof, but their Legend of the Goats gives some idea, albeit more absurdity than anything...

3. On said adventure, we also stopped at Babyland General Hospital (aka Cabbage Patch HQ), which looks from the outside like an old Southern plantation. I was never a huge fan of CPK as a kid, so I wasn't quite as enthralled as the other gal in our party, but it was fascinating to see how fully they've developed their mythology and the schtick surrounding it.

There were so many patches like this! Very thorough, they were.

Their employees all wear scrubs, and every 15m or so a "Licensed Patch Nurse" gathers everyone around the Magic Tree to watch as she delivers one of the babies from its cabbage--complete with punny names of cabbage-related birthing procedures, and followed by what looked like all the postnatal tests hospitals give to human babies. Each doll's name is chosen by the people in the audience while it's being born, which was sweet. I expected the thoroughness with which they treated their dolls like real children to be creepy, but it was actually endearingly thorough, especially when watching the children's excitement, and seeing them learn about real babies by carefully holding the newly born CPK.

4. Four clicks to a less annoying YouTube. Thank you, Lifehacker, for making the internet a better place.

5. Tim O'Malley strikes again with this arresting piece on the violence inherent to the American political system, and how we as Catholics are called to more. For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, I highly recommend his reflection on infertility. Possibly the single most heartbreakingly beautiful piece of prose I have ever read.

6. This morning, as I was praying Morning Prayer in the customary spot on my porch, albeit earlier than usual, I noticed that the spider whose web sits just a few inches away was still spinning. Note: I love spiders. I got to watch her while reciting psalms from memory, and to reflect upon the beauty in the simultaneous strength and fragility of her web, even as a metaphor for our own lives...

7. I saved the best for last. My awesome, beautiful (absurdly tall) sister is moving into college today, and I am sooooooooooo proud of her!

Pretty sure I'm wearing a low wedge heel, and she's barefoot.

Love you, T! ♥ I can't wait to see what wonderful things the world learns from you as you continue to grow into the beautiful, talented woman you've become. (And what do you mean, of course I'm not crying at all right now...)

Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel, / quia visitavit, et fecit redemptionem plebis suae...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Job Searching = Having a Crush on Every Boy

That title either rings true immediately or causes confusion; in either case I'm finding it often brings laughter. Observe.

There are a staggering number of possibilities out there, statistically speaking.

A few of them even seem like they might be a good fit.

So you dress up real pretty (resume/cover letter), and spend a lot of time saying "Hi" and smiling across the room (sending resumes).

Sometimes, you get a "Hi" back (acknowledgment of receipt of resume), and occasionally even a coffee date (interview, perhaps via phone or Skype).

This may even be followed by a dinner date (second or in-person interview), but it's still a little premature to obsess over how you'll respond if he offers you a ring--after all, unlike a conventional proposal, you get a few days to ponder out a job offer, and no one's really that heartbroken if you say no.


Okay, funny analogy, but so what? Searching for a job, like obsessive crushing, more or less requires the subject to live in a fantasy world that is only tangentially in touch with reality. Because there are so many targets and so few responses, everything changes so quickly; the story is so often completely different in just two days.

That's why so many conversations that are meant to be straightforward and kind are felt like this:

Friend 1: I want to show that I am interested in your life and well-being, so I'll ask how the job search is going, because I know that's a big thing in your life. It's the equivalent of asking "How's work?", right?

Friend 2: OH MY GOSH will people please stop asking me to give them the painfully intimate details of the fundamental uncertainty of my life at the present moment!? I mean, I'm glad you care, but can't we talk about anything else!? (Not that I can think of anything else, as the job search is kind of consuming my life at present... Hmmph.)

Ah, stress.

What's the moral of the story? I'm not really sure it has one. Sometimes the observation of a truth is enough.

Spiritus sapientiae et intellectus, miserere nobis.
Spiritus consilii, fortitudinis, scientiae, et pietatis, miserere nobis.
Spiritus timoris Domini et prudentiae, miserere nobis.

Note: The video whence the title catchphrase originates is entirely superfluous to my point, but for those of you now having Homestar Runner cravings, I've just saved you a Google search.
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