On the Agenda

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peace and Warmth

I didn't have a title in mind for this post, until I found the photo. The title is taken from it. And I think it best describes what I'm looking for right now, and what the waiting of Advent is about.

Life is crazy, with good news and bad news, with frustrations and new adventures. But it's somehow always crazier at this time of the year. I just got a job, a real-life, grown-up job, at Montreat. And I'm thrilled, and so excited to be learning new things and going out there and getting things done. It brings up its own set of questions and stresses, but it's still good. (I apologize for being vague here... sometimes typing "out loud" even in vague terms can be useful.)

On a more concrete note, I was watching Mary Poppins last night on ABC Family (their 25 Days of Christmas ranks high on my marathon list, up there with the Bond one that Spike usually runs around New Years), and it occurred to me how much of that movie was stamped into my memory. The songs, the words, the tone of voice, the images especially. (Which also makes me a little frightened to wonder what we are stamping into children's minds these days.) But I remembered all of it, and also recognized that I had never fully understood much of it before. Even though I am no longer a child, this story holds a certain magical quality, and was a perfect thing to watch before bedtime.

A few of my friends are carrying on quite wonderful blogs these days, and I am inspired by their insight. Check out Kara's blog and Bruce's blog (he's not a real friend yet, but he is the moderator of the PCUSA and quite an awesome presence on the Web).

Peace. And warmth. And please send some my way, too, if you will.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Smoked Out

Have you ever had a smoke alarm go off in the middle of the night for no apparent reason? If you have, you'll know about the adrenaline rush, the terror of the noise and the unknown of the cause behind it. It's awful. And that's how my night went last night. I did, however, manage to complete Monday's USA Today crossword in less than 15 minutes, at 3:00 a.m. Fun? Not so much.

So it was pretty easy to convince myself that I deserved to sleep in this morning, making Operation Rise and Shine a no-go.

In other news, my morning job will be serving lunch for the next two weeks, taking a lot of stress off of me, and tonight is the second installation of our Young Adult Intentional Community Advent Dinner. I'm bringing lentil soup, which I'm pretty excited about. Yay hearty winter bowl food. Peace.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Holly Jolly It Up

The early riser failed miserably this morning, but the sleeping in was nice. No use punishing myself this early in the game. But I guess for it to work well, I will have to hit 7 on weekends too.

First alarm: 7:04 a.m.
Got up: 9:30 a.m.
Extra activity: n/a
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast

Last night was an evening of new experiences. I went to the Rankin Vault after work to send off a coworker who has found a real job and will be moving away this weekend. Then a bunch of us wandered over to the Asheville Arts Council opening of Jonas Gerard paintings (very bright, very expensive, but great).

The town of Black Mountain was having their Holly Jolly event, where all the shops stay open until 9 p.m., and the whole town comes out to mill about and "shop." The sidewalks were teeming with high schoolers: Think American Graffiti in winter, without the cars or any of the coolness. We also checked out the new White Horse venue in town. It has great potential, I think, especially since it's nonsmoking and serves hotdogs.

This afternoon is the Black Mountain Christmas parade, in which Montreat Conference Center will be making it's debut appearance. I think it will be a whole lot of fun, I only wish it were warmer out.

Grateful for a non-traveling, non-busy weekend. With basketball. Peace.

Friday, December 05, 2008

On the Sunny Side

This morning was better still. Day 3 of Operation Rise and Shine, and I have decided there is really no harm to the snooze button. Getting up the moment the alarm goes off is great and admirable, but if I find comfort in snoozing, then why shouldn't I allow myself 5 or 10 minutes of it? The important thing is to break the hold it has held on me for the past few years. This morning I succeeded in getting up after two snoozes. Good number.

First alarm: 7:04 a.m.
Got up: 7:15 a.m.
Extra activity: Cooking
Breakfast: Omelet of mushroom, green onion and feta, with skim milk and a multivitamin

For tomorrow: Make coffee. Beginning on Monday I will set the alarm a little earlier so I can still hit 7ish, accounting for my two-snooze time.

I also remembered that I hadn't posted my slideshow of engagement photos. They're pretty awesome, and Regina did a great job. Peace.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Paper Eccentricities

Why are blank journals so much more appealing to me than filled ones, or even the potential of a filled one?

I love lists, and I love my own handwriting, but I hate making these lists or writing down notes on the go. If I'm going to write something down to keep for perpetuity, I like to take the time to sit down at a clean desk, stretch out with plenty of elbow room and write slowly and intentionally. Writing like this is one of the most intentional actions I perform, I think, and yet I hold such high expectations of it that I rarely actually do it.

I'm still looking for a good way to keep track of things, like books I want to read or crafts I want to make or movies I want to see. And it seems like there exists a fairly good mechanism for each of these things (GoodReads, Ravelry, Netflix) but that as soon as I start listing, I get bogged down in the generics, when I really wanted to list only the special. I know I need to read To Kill a Mockingbird (I know, I'm weird), but that book is not the reason I want the list.

I want to make scrapbooks of ephemera, which I feel might express my experiences even better than photogrpahs. Peace.

Another Morning

Day 2 of Operation Rise-and-Shine was somewhat more successful...

First alarm: 7:04 a.m.
Got up: 7:20 a.m.
Extra activity: Dishwashing (there were many)
Breakfast: Yogurt & granola with a few pages of the new Esquire (not eaten)

I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I can get up the moment my alarm goes off, but I'll keep trying. I did notice yesterday that I felt a little more productive overall, even getting extra things done in the evening before dinner, so I hope that continues.

Oh, and the photo is nicely displaying our everyday china, which we registered for at Belk. I don't think either of us will ever use it for chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce, but the photo does illustrate one of the many varieties of bowls in the pattern. Peace.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Best & The Brightest

A wise Scottish publisher, whom I still feel very honored to have met during my time abroad, was shocked to learn I had not read David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest, and I'm sorry to say I still haven't gotten around to it. But I feel that what I learned at that beautiful kitchen table in Islington, and what I know in an anecdotal way about the book, is that we reflect those who surround us.

Would Kennedy have been so revered without his star-studded Cabinet? Does it really take a village to raise a child? or a teenager? or anyone?

I know that when I spend time around people with negative attitudes, I find myself pulled down to that negativity, and life seems less enjoyable. My bubblier friends make me feel happy, and those acquaintances whom I suspect have deep faith lives, or meaningful friendships, make me wish to pursue those happinesses that much more.

I want to surround myself with more creativity. I feel this can be done without snobbery or arrogance of any sort. I just need the words and images and music of creative people. I want to surround myself with more books, more art, more music, more food. It doesn't have to be my physical surroundings, but I want it to be my intellectual surroundings.

I feel I already do this a lot, except that I wish I read more and knitted more. I'm already surrounded by so much: NPR, Design*Sponge, Malaprops...

More of a wandering post I know. Maybe an update later. Peace.

Old Years Resolutions

So I guess it would be safe to say I have a sizeable designers-crush on Julia Rothman. Evidence: The wallpaper below and the prints above. If anyone reading this were also trying to come up with a Christmas gift for me. This would be a hint. (Kidding. But not.)

Anyway, Julia is not the point of this post. The point is kinda a way-early New Year's Resolution. I think we pile too many expectations on ourselves come January 1, so I'm going to start now.

Goal #1: Get up early EVERY DAY. Day 1 of Get-up-at-7 was about a 98% failure. But we're going to keep at it anyway. I did manage to make a hot breakfast before coming into work.

Goal #2 (more long-term): Get better stuff, not more stuff. I think that's pretty self-explanatory. I like nice things, so I want to remember this when looking at less-nice things that I don't really need. And the things I get should be useful. I'm going to start reading the Unclutterer blog I think.

Goal #3: Cook more real food, eat less food out of a box. I made chicken-noodle-lima bean soup last night that happened to be delicious. And easy. If only I had a light over my sink and if only the faucet didn't have explosive air bubbles in it.

We'll start with three for now. Peace, love and Wednesday.