Changing Horses Midstream

(Many thanks to Bryan and Kristen, friends and sometime intrepid editors, whose feedback prompted this re-arrangement.)

Hey all (or, uh, both of you), I’ve decided to rework some of the feminism stuff in a more coherent way that explains a bit more of the philosophical underpinnings of modern secular feminism. That first post should go up Wednesday. Thanks for reading and sharing and commenting! :)

Sorry!

This is what you get for subscribing to the blog of a person with seasonal depression: long periods of boring silence! Hooray! I am working on the feminism series, cross my heart, it’s just been a tired, achy, low, scatter-brained week and I haven’t had much motivation to do anything beyond sitting on my couch and watching all of Netflix. So.

The first actual installment of Big Scary Feminism is about objectification and shame, and it’s slowly taking shape — hoping to get it posted over the weekend sometime.

Pray for me if you think about it/are a pray-ey sort of person. Not long now until the time change, which usually rights my mood pretty quickly!

Ugh, Ugh, Ugh.

I’m usually SO on top of things with scheduling posts and making sure there’s something interesting (-ish) on the blog six days a week, but I’ve been battling a cold and just haven’t had the mental energy to do the normal amount of blogging. So, to tide you over until DOWNTON ABBEY UPDATE tomorrow and a few really fun things coming up, here’s some stuff I’ve learned or done or observed in the last week or so, in no particular order:

Violins don’t just make notes, they make vowel sounds, and not just any vowel sounds — FRENCH ones. Thanks, Justin Shaffer. (If you know him, twenty bucks says you just laughed delightedly and/or said, “Aw, Justin Shaffer. Love that guy.”)

My students — NINTH GRADERS — have the capacity to be kind, gracious, and encouraging to one another. Just don’t tell them I said that, because they would be SOOOOOOO embarrassed.

Speaking of French vowel sounds, I love French and am both pumped and terrified to spend this year working to improve my French skills. As I said to a friend tonight, “I can make all the sounds, but I just don’t have enough words for them!”

I really miss my community group when we don’t meet. Due to holidays and weather and scheduling craziness, we literally have not had a normal community group time since early DECEMBER, which is NOT OK WITH ME.

Can you have a wedding dance without a wedding? Because wedding dances, especially Sojourn ones, are the biz, and I would like to go to one every weekend. OK, I lied, I’m an introvert, maybe every OTHER weekend.

I love it when people’s faces visibly light up when they’re talking about something they’re passionate about. It’s one of my favorite things ever.

OK, that’s all I’ve got. See you tomorrow for some Downton recapping, and later in the week for some more fun stuff!

Sorry Again!!

Did some serious deep-cleaning and organizing on the blog yesterday and today and blew up some people’s blog readers. Sorry about that. The good news is, 100% of the posts from way back to 2005 are now categorized. Check out a few of the “I write about…” tags for a trip back in time if you like!

Lent, Day I am a terrible blogger!

Seriously, how Type A do you have to be to blog EVERY. SINGLE. DAY? Apparently a whole lot more Type A than I am. Tomorrow I’ll start posting the next academic thingo, on the inerrancy debate. It’s another one for a class, so I’ll break it up into pieces again.

I got the sweetest letter in the mail from one of my Aussie besties last weekend, which was so great. It’s really made me grateful for the fact that the Lord gave me a whole pack of fabulous friends in Oz when I went down there the first time just to visit one person. An incalculable blessing, really. I can’t wait to be able to go back — wish I could go every year but every two seems like a pretty good balance, since, so far, in the “between” years, I have Aussie guests staying at Chez Laura! Anyway, the letter was a whopper, long and chatty and newsy, with photos enclosed and a lovely piece of bona fide 3-year-old artwork. Aren’t you jealous? Everyone wants cool letters from their overseas friends!

It was a bit of a crap weekend, to be honest — or at least a slightly roller-coaster weekend: fun times with friends intermingled with a lot of OUCH. Plus, I spent almost four hours sitting in a coffee shop on Saturday getting absolutely nothing accomplished on the aforementioned paper. Ooh, but! Highlight! There’s a newish restaurant in Louisville called Hammerheads, and anyone nearby needs to go ASAP. It’s ridiculously good. Amazing. It’s a total dive — low ceilings, crusty old tables and chairs, zero ambiance — with the most delicious food, focused on smoked meat, in a kind of gastropub way. Major yum.

In other news, I’m super excited to be reading through Russ Moore’s new book, Tempted and Tried (read excerpts here and here), with a good friend. We’re getting together to talk about it this week and I am stoked about it. Dr. Moore is the VP of Southern Seminary, as well as being one of the sharpest, most relatable, most theologically incisive dudes alive and writing at the moment. If you don’t subscribe to his weekly podcast, The Cross and the Jukebox, you are missing out. Tempted and Tried looks to be a ripping read as well as a major encouragement.

All righty, that’s all I’ve got. Peace out.

Lent, Day 19: UGH UGH SNOW UGH

Seriously, it snowed last night. Probably an inch of wet, heavy snow. Friday is the first day of April.

This week I’ll finish the serious posts I started last week, and then I’ve got another paper due next weekend, so here’s hoping I’ll get that posted in pieces the following week. And then my sweet mama will be here to visit for the week! Hooray!

I’m so annoyed with the weather that that’s all I’ve got.

On Hitting A Wall and Hating My Own Voice

When I was in college, I was a mediocre writer.  I got a bit better over the years thanks in no small part to an excellent creative writing prof who frequently eviscerated my verbose poetry, but in a really nice, upper-Midwest way, with a smile on her face, until it stopped being overwrought brain dumps and started to be lean distillations of emotional experience.

In seminary, writing dullsville reports on the minutiae of evangelistic techniques and scrambling for essay topics that wouldn’t put me or the grader to sleep, my writing got both better and worse.  More technical, perhaps a bit more precise, but thudding and heavy.

When I started writing this blog, I went through phases.  One week I’d toss out the same overwrought brain dumps I’d been carefully trained not to write, and the next obsess over word choice and syntax for hours before deleting the lot.  Now, having been out of seminary for going on three years, not having had to write a paper for anyone’s approval, not having deadlines and due dates looming, I’ve gotten sloppy.  I want that taut academic precision back in my writing.  I want to stop sounding like a cross between the Fug Girls and Ree Drummond, which, I fear, is the voice that’s developed.

So, all that to say, I will probably be writing here quite a bit more than usual, because practice, as they say, makes perfect.

Fiction.

I haven’t written fiction in over a year, maybe closer to two.  I need to start again — the observational/analytical stuff I do here (rarely… sorry about that) really cranks one part of my brain, but the creativity/fiction section of my brain seems pretty atrophied at the moment.  Hm. What to do, what to do?

Fasting From Facebook: Part Deux

I just re-read the little snippet Daniel wrote after Lent, about the stuff people had fasted from and how the fast had impacted them.  Great stuff.  Did you know that around 2 million people gave up Facebook for Lent?  Crazy. 

Anyway, it got me thinking about how to continue the pattern of 1 Corinthians 6:12 — not everything is beneficial, and I will not be mastered (I think “overpowered” would be a good paraphrase of the Greek) by anything — even though Lent is LONG over.

I put a couple of things on FB about how to keep from drowning when you’re drinking from the firehose (hide people from your feed, check FB rather than keeping it up in your browser all the time), but I’m thinking about how to expand that to my other online time.  Using a feed reader has helped a bunch, so I’m not going to eight zillion separate blogs and sites every day. 

Do y’all have any other ideas that could help me streamline online time?

Huh.

Sorry about that whole “accidental blog sabbatical” thing.  I didn’t mean to ditch y’all, and I don’t even have a good excuse this time (computer meltdown, insane busyness, lack of internet, etc. — nope, none of that).  I just didn’t have anything to say.  That’s a symptom/side benefit of giving up Facebook for Lent, which I’ll tell y’all about tomorrow.

I have a couple posts in the hopper, and then I’m going to try to get back in a routine.

Also, it’s currently like 85 degrees in my condo, so if any of this doesn’t make sense, blame it on the fact that I’m being slowly steamed to death.

A Mixed Bag of Randomness

Bit of randomness #1: I rarely watch The Simpsons, but I happened to be home when this week’s episode ran. It was my favorite kind of Simpsons’ episode, made up of a handful of mini stories that the characters tell each other. While The Simpsons’ sharp political critique has been blunted of late, this episode leveled some mid-range missiles at public education, showing the brilliant Maggie’s efforts at daycare creativity being thwarted and suppressed by a mediocrity-obsessed headmaster who knocks over her block sculptures and ruthlessly enforces conformity. Good stuff.

Bit of randomness #2: Chowhound, a foodie-type message board that is priceless for seeking out info and advice about everything food-related — grilling burgers, sourcing uni, pairing wine, finding a great Lebanese restaurant in Sydney, using an immersion blender — you name it, you can find it on Chowhound. One of the recent topics asked what typically “foodie” foods we just will not eat. Here’s what I came up with (partially):

Pate and/or liver mousses and/or meat-based terrines
Sea urchin
Raw bivalves in general
Offal (except maybe sweetbreads. MAYBE)
Raw seafood in general
Pork belly (except in bacony form)
Caviar
Blue cheese
Washed-rind cheese
Mushrooms, unless chopped so finely that I can’t detect them

Now, dear friends and sharp-eyed readers will recognize a common theme here: texture! 95% of the time, if I dislike a food, it’s not the flavor that puts me off, but the texture! Anybody else have texture “issues”?

Bit of randomness #3: In the last few months, I’ve watched a half-dozen French movies (yay, Netflix!). I couldn’t tell you what any one of them was about, but I can tell you that I liked them all. What is it that is just so satisfying about French cinema? Languid, unhurried pace? A decided lack of the overwrought melodrama that pervades even the best American movies? The deliberate avoidance of the obvious? Yeah, it’s probably all that, but the verdict is that French movies are teh awesome.

Bit of randomness #4: I am at last getting around to that blasted no-knead bread everyone was going on about all over the interwebz last year. I’m not what you’d call a “joiner” with the latest fads, and besides, I was pretty sure you needed a big covered enamel cast-iron pot with a lid that doesn’t have a plastic handle on it, in which to bake the bread, and I was just not willing to go out and buy one. I’d love one. I’ll probably get one eventually. But just so I can bake one kind of bread? Probably not.

Bit of randomness #5: Yay! School! As much as I am enjoying my summer (and I am!), I’m really feeling ready to get back in the groove of teaching. I function much better with a schedule, and I struggle to finish tasks when I have days and weeks of unscheduled time to kick around in — I can always excuse my laziness with, “Oh, I can just do it tomorrow, right?” Strangely, when I have more to do, I can get more done at home. Hm, maybe I should get started with lesson plans? That’s an idea.

*Sigh*

Have you ever done this? Taken an accidental two-month sabbatical from your blog and then just wracked your brain fruitlessly for days, trying to come up with something really, really profound with which to break the silence?

It’s just me, then?

I have had six thousand or so ideas sliding around half-formed in my summer-gelatinized brain. (Here’s a sampling: The reason many pols and bureaucrats support abortion is that they’re unwilling to tackle the more difficult task of dealing with pregnant women and the emotional complexities behind unwanted pregnancies. Modern American labor and delivery practices are sickeningly barbaric, and we’ve got the stats to prove it. Barbara Mouser’s The Five Aspects of Woman is great, and I learned a bunch of stuff about womanhood listening to it. Why is U2 SO INCREDIBLY POPULAR?) But none of them, shockingly, have made the cut so far — I just can’t get stuff to congeal into anything coherent.

Once my schedule and my brain are working a little less… uh… Summer-time-ish-ly… I’m sure I’ll develop one of the above topics (or, I mean, you know me, something completely different) into an actual post.

Tune in next time to see if I go for the controversial, the political, the theological, or the utterly vapid and meaningless! WOO!!!

Books, Thunderstorms, End of the School Year, and Other Miscellaneous Musings

Last night I went browsing at a couple of bookstores to try to find the Anne of Green Gables series in box set. The school has a few of them, and I’ve been reading (or, devouring) them this last week. Have you ever thought of books as friends? The Anne books are that for me — dear old well-beloved friends. Monday night, when I was finishing up Anne of Green Gables, I sobbed — sobbed! — through the last four chapters, and laughed at myself for crying so hard, and then cried some more. If you’ve read it, you probably understand. It’s been wonderfully restful to come home from school and sit in my comfy chair and just read for hours. I haven’t done that in far too long.

On my way home from the bookstore, I got caught out in the worst thunderstorm of the year so far. Rain was coming down, hammer and tongs, with lightning streaking across the sky and downbursts of wind from the edge of the storm. When it started hailing, I pulled over in front of the Lyndon fire station, got in the rain shadow of the building, and prayed that the doors wouldn’t suddenly open and a fire engine come roaring out! I listened in dismay as the hail pelted the back end of my car, and when it subsided, I pulled around to the side of the building just in case and waited for the rain to let up. It was wild! The hail turned out to be in the half-inch to two-inch range — definitely the largest hail I’ve seen since I’ve been here.

I have two more academic days left at school, and then three fun days which will involve a baseball game, a field day, a talent show, an awards ceremony, and a picnic! And then three glorious months of Summer stretching out in front of me, waiting to be filled with cook-outs and visits from family and afternoons when it’s too hot to leave the house and days by the pool and sunburns and hot, muggy air, and melty ice cream and all manner of other delights.

Do all teachers get a panicky feeling about how much hard-fought learning their students will inevitably forget between now and next year? Ooh. That reminds me. I need to get my hands on a couple copies of the books I’m assigning my 8th graders (almost 9th graders! Imagine!) over the Summer… Mwahahaha…

Ummmm…

*tap, tap*

Ahem.

This thing on?

Uh, sorry. I’m probably the worst blogger who ever blogged. It has been approximately seven million years since I blogged. My excuse is pretty decent: long school days followed by mental exhaustion compounded by zero inspiration to write. But.

I just couldn’t resist blogging about the most boring subject in history, something so boring it’s actually code for boring — the weather.

Last “spring” (ha) we didn’t really have much of a spring. We had a soggy winter, followed by a few half-heartedly springlike days, followed immediately by 24-hour-a-day air conditioning weather. It was hideous. But apparently God has been smiling on Kentucky these last couple of months and, boy howdy, have we had some unbelievable weather. Cool, breezy nights, and warm, sunny days, punctuated by big beautiful thunderstorms and enough days of soaking rain to keep us all from taking those sunshiny mornings and long languid evenings for granted.

Because the nights have been staying so cool, the flowers have hung on the trees much longer than in years past, and for one glorious week we had gorgeous, lacy dogwoods AND daffodils AND irises AND tulips AND the first azaleas. Cheeky azaleas — I just can’t get enough of them. They’re like the girl at your first school dance who wears a sparkly, low-cut dress and makes all the boys stare. Brazen, those hot-pink azaleas, I tell you!

Hooray! It’s supposed to get down to 49 tonight! It’s a marvel, this weather. I wish it’d go on forever.

What’s On Laura’s Mind Today?

Hooray, I am done with my bloody taxes finally. Yuck. I HATE doing taxes. Luckily I’ve found an inexpensive (and relatively idiot-proof) online way to do everything, and e-filed both my state and federal returns. No trip to the post office! Woot! Also, refund! WOOT!

Top Gear. Seriously. I would love to watch this show every week, but the only way to get it in the U.S. is to pay major ducats for turbo-cable with seven billion other channels. Which, I mean, I’m not gonna lie, I would totally love, but it’s bordering on a hundred bucks a month. And I love Top Gear, but really.

My students are the BESTEST. I wish I had the time to go into detail about why each one of them is so precious to me, but I don’t want to try your patience with that many words. As crazy-making as kids can sometimes be, not a day goes by when I don’t laugh with total delight at something one of them does. I mean really. My eighth graders especially are just the joy of my life.

Passover! My community group had a great time doing a little Passover seder this past week. It was a blast — everybody came over to my house and we rigged up as many spots as we could and did an extremely abbreviated version of a typical Messianic seder, since a normal one can last 3 or 4 hours! Good food, good company, and a cool insight into the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples.

Did you know that Deadliest Catch is Discovery’s most popular show? If you’ve watched it, you probably understand WHY it is, and if you haven’t, you’re seriously missing out. It’s got the perfect reality-show alchemy: honest-to-goodness peril + salty, interesting characters + million-dollar rewards. Crab fishing in the Bering Sea is truly one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, and not a season goes by without the captains hearing the crushing news that one of their sister ships has gone down in a storm. The captains themselves are hilarious — tough, smart, foul-mouthed, third and fourth generation fishermen. And the million-dollar payout isn’t a prize sponsored by advertisers, but the actual earnings of the captains and crew. Watch it! It’s seriously addictive.

Spring in Louisville is gorgeous when it actually shows up. Last year, we had the shortest spring EVER — freezing cold followed by two weeks of nice weather followed by blazing hot summer. But this year… it’s been rainy and fickle and crazy, with thunderstorms and cool weather. Great stuff! The dogwoods are starting to bloom right now too. Ahhh…

An Open Letter To My Aussie Friends

There are a few things you should know before Em and Gwyd get back to ‘Straya in a few weeks’ time. I thought it would be best if you had a bit of preparation for the stories, rumors, and inside jokes they’ll be armed with upon their return.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Em and Gwyd are both pregnant with babies made (Mighty-Boosh-like) from barbecued ribs, Indian food, and Dr. Pepper. The appropriate response to this: jealousy.

2. They will definitely try to explain something called an “orc Elvis” or “orc Elvis impersonator.” The explanation will probably involve snippets of Elvis tunes, snarling, and discussions of bouffant hairdos. The correct response to this is mildly-amused puzzlement.

3. They have perfected their imitations of American homeschool kids. The correct response to this is to ask them whether or not the Balrog has wings, if Hobbits can be found in Mammoth Cave, or if the economy can survive without the contribution of Wood Nymphs.

4. Speaking of Mammoth Cave, Gwyd has developed a theory about how Mammoth Cave was built. If you ask him about this, be sure he replies in his American homeschool kid voice.

5. The next time you are around them while they’re eating, their “Mmm” noises in response to the tastiness of the food will likely turn into an “mmm”-punctuated laugh fest. They might wipe tears. The appropriate reaction to this is awkward silence. I’m sure you can manage it.

Also be sure to ask them about Andrew’s reaction to seeing Androdgo, and who carried the food down to the tuberculosis patients in Mammoth Cave. You have a few weeks to prepare yourselves.

Awesome Deal, People

Seriously, check this out. My church, Sojourn, is packed wall-to-wall with talented musicians, some of whom worked on last year’s Christmas album, Advent Songs. It’s a beautiful, unique album that normally sells for a very reasonable $10, but leading up to the advent season, it’s being made available for download fo however much you want to pay for it. OR, if you tell five friends about it, you can get it for FREE. Crazy.

Check out the details HERE at SojournMusic’s website.