Sunday, January 31, 2010

Talent Night

I almost got to sleep in today, but someone rang our doorbell around 7:50 and the dogs went haywire. But then they went back to sleep. It's funny how they've been sleeping through the night every single night since I started blogging. Perhaps they were attempting to wake me in the middle of the night before so that I would get up and write, and now that I'm writing every day they can stop that craziness.

We had a good rehearsal for Alice in Wonderland Jr. today at the theatre. Immediately thereafter, I drove to Berrien Springs to Talent Night at Andrews Academy where my sister is a sophomore. She and her band, Remains of the Day, performed (phenomenally, I must say) their original composition "Child Left Alone". As soon as she sends me a link of their performance, I will put it up right away so everyone can see it. I've been singing all my life and have been told from time to time that I do well, but this girl blows me out of the water and she's only seventeen.

In other news, it's quite a drive from Bristol to Berrien Springs, so I got through a lot of "A Scanner Darkly" on audiobook. I find it funny that, after listening to it for as long as I have, it only occurred to me on Friday, I think, that the language is somewhat outdated for something that's supposed to be futuristic. The copyright on it is 1977, the year I was born. Which explains why they call each other "foxy" and ask one another if they "dig" what's going on.

In my listening adventure today, Paul Giamatti suddenly broke into narrating in German. German is kind of scary when you're driving in the dark all alone and it happens suddenly in the middle of natural dialogue with no segue and you don't speak German, so you imagine that it might be some sort of fluke, and it wasn't supposed to be German, but there's a poltergeist in the back of your vehicle that's stopped the cd and has started speaking in Giamatti's voice, in German, telling you that you're going to die on the way home and maybe it's just me and I've watched entirely too many horror movies in my life but I just found it kind of creepy.

I also read some more of "Under the Tuscan Sun" this morning in the bath. I could probably be done reading it by now if I wanted to hurry through it, but it's so elegantly crafted that I find myself immersed in the beauty of each and every scene that Mayes paints. Chapter by chapter, she has been delineating the reconstruction and refurbishing of Bramasole, the old homestead in Italy that she and her husband purchased. It's very different from the movie, for those of you who have seen it.

I didn't finish either book today, which sort of bums me out because I'd really wanted to say I finished ten books in January, but that's not my challenge anyhow, so it doesn't matter. I said I would read 100 books in a year and blog about them, and I will. Only 91 more to finish by December 31st! Plennnnnty of time.

I hope.

Back to the Daily Grind tomorrow. Pun intended, for those of you who know me.

SJS

Saturday, January 30, 2010

First Step to Recovery

Hello, my name is Stephanie, and I am addicted to Chinese food.

I am now eating it for the fourth time in 8 days. Twice at home, twice at the buffet. I told myself that it was because I needed to use up the leftover rice, but the truth is, I just wanted Chinese food. The good news is, I'm maintaining my weight and not gaining any.

We watched "Whip It" last night, which I really enjoyed. One of my oldest friends (length of my life, not age-wise, she's not like, in her 80s) is a roller girl out in Fabulous Las Vegas, and I'll be seeing her in approximately a month. I'm extremely excited about that. After Friday, I am in desperate need of a vacation. Or I will kill someone. But you didn't hear that from me.

Worked on the set of Alice in Wonderland Jr. at the Bristol Opera House this morning, and then made my way over to Elkhart to help out a friend. My friend Kevin proposed to my friend Andie today, and she said 'yes'. He needed my help to bring out the roses and ring so that she didn't know anything ahead of time. And thank God she said 'yes', because we've already bought our plane tickets for their wedding and I'd really have to smack her if she'd said 'no'. Congratulations, Andie and Kevin! I am so happy for both of you!

Listened to "A Scanner Darkly" in the car on the way to Bristol, and to and from Elkhart. Just gets better and better. Hoping to finish something soon!

Had a lovely nap, and can't wait to sleep in tomorrow! Now, back to my chinese food... sweet sour chicken and mushroom rice. Ahhhhh.

SJS

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ain't You Got No Couth!?

I have to say this has been one of the most trying days I can remember in the last five years. Let me start by saying something nice:

...


um....

hmm.

Rainbows are pretty.

Okay, so -- the one thing I wanted to be able to do today at work was talk to Marcia and the unnamed actress when they came in for breakfast, but I was so busy that we barely got to say a few words to each other. Hopefully they'll come in again soon (hint) and I'll get a chance to chat, because I truly enjoy their company.

I'm fairly certain that 80% of the people I encountered today were raised by wolves. "Please", "Thank you", "Excuse me"... these were not a part of their vocabulary. Grunts and scowls were the daily fare. Someone actually insulted the granola I made, and when I told him that some people do not prefer it as crunchy as he wanted it, he told me that he would debate that. As if everyone has exactly the same taste as he does because it is a matter of fact, not opinion, that all granola must be extremely crunchy. He is the only complaint I've ever had on my granola in the three years I have been making it. I'm sure he would also debate that. I'm sick to death of hearing "Give me a...." instead of "Could I please have a..." Really, how difficult is it to treat the person who is serving you with a modicum of respect on the off chance that they might also be human and not in any way inferior to you just because they serve your coffee and clean up your mess? Is it really out of your way to add "please" to "I need a large coffee,"? Do I need to make a list of acceptable and unacceptable ways of ordering?

YES: Could I please have a large cappuccino with skim milk and a lot of foam?

NO: Give me a cappuccino. What sizes you got? I want the biggest one. And no fat in my milk.

YES: Can I get a Pepsi, please?

NO: I want a Coke. (Is Pepsi okay, Sir?) I guess.

Also, I'd prefer it if you did not say offensive things in my line, to me, around me, or to or around my other customers. What you do and say in the privacy of your living room is your business, but not when you bring it into public. Then it becomes my business. And for the love of all that is holy, during the lunch rush when there are seventeen people in line behind you, don't wait until you get to the front of the line to start thinking about what you might want to order. Have some idea before you get there! AND DO NOT ... I REPEAT, DO NOT ... ASK ME WHAT I THINK IS GOOD, AND THEN ORDER SOMETHING ELSE!

YES: I would like the Zesty tomato soup, please.

NO: What kind of soup is your favorite? (Cream of mushroom, for sure.) Give me a bowl of Zesty tomato.

Okay, I think I'm done with that tirade. For now, at least. I'm sure it will crop up again sometime in the near future.

In other news, I once again ate Chinese food, and tons of it. We are down to one kid tonight -- our 12-year-old daughter is hanging out with us watching "Whip It". Son #1 is at Grandma's, and Son #2 is at his cousin's house. Just the three of us here and the doggies.

Tomorrow: breakfast and set construction at Elkhart Civic Theatre for Alice in Wonderland, Jr.

No reading updates. Same old, same old.

Already looking forward to falling asleep tonight. It's GOT to be the highlight of my day!

Happy Friday,
SJS

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ode To Dunkin' Donuts

Allow me to extol the virtues of Dunkin' Donuts:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee for thy smooth taste.

I love thee for the massive amounts of cream and sugar that twirl so beautifully in thine aromatic Arabica blend.

I love thee for thine inexpensive price.

I love thee for the reminder of New York City, where I first allowed myself to partake of thy perfection.

I love thee for being just close enough so I can have thee when I drive 15 minutes, but not close enough to where I can't function during the day because I keep returning to thee.

I love thee for the excitement produced in my mouth when I see thine orange and fuschia logo.

I love th... all right, that's enough.

Still working through both books, still loving them both, not really sure what's on my list next, but I'd like to finish "Under the Tuscan Sun" on or by January 31st so I can say I read ten books in one month. That's a definite record for me.

I made German Chocolate mini-cupcakes tonight for the Elkhart Civic Theatre production committee meeting, which was tons of fun. I love that our scheduled one-hour meetings last up to three hours. I also love Marcia Fulmer, and think it's cool that she knows who I am now, and doesn't just talk to my husband (who was once referred to, [not by her], as "THE Steve Salisbury") when we meet in public. I also met a real live actress today, but I can't talk about that.

I did not work at my regular job today. Instead, I cleaned two houses. The last two housecleaning clients I have left, that were not stolen away from me by the lousy economy of Elkhart County. At one point, I had twelve clients. Now I have two. And they're only once every three weeks. Which means that instead of every other week, which they used to be, I only get Dunkin' Donuts once every three weeks. I should, by all rights, buy myself two or three coffees while I'm there just to make up for all the ones I'm missing out on. (I guess that would also be boosting said economy, now wouldn't it?)

I stopped by the library to return two audiobooks that I had originally checked out and then realized I had no real interest in and was not going to listen to, and to drop off the Steve Martin one that I finished, and to renew "A Scanner Darkly". I'm now almost finished with CD 3 of 8. At one point, Giamatti was narrating and playing five characters including an old lady and old man, all at the same time. SO. COOL.

Tomorrow, I wake at 5:15 a.m.

Meh.

SJS

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

China Buffet in my Dining Room

Dude.

I made a ginormous amount of Chinese food tonight. Beef fried rice, Mongolian Beef, and Sweet Sour Chicken w/mushroom white rice. I'm obsessed. We ate Chinese on Friday night, too, at the China Buffet in Goshen. And I could totally eat more, right now. If someone laid down a platter of General Tso's Chicken in front of me, or some Pepper Steak, I would devour it and ask what else they had. It was so nice to have our whole family around the table again, with no rehearsals and no interruptions.

Speaking of no interruptions, I was right about the dogs. They've been reading my blog. Because, for the third night in a row, they stayed in our room all night and didn't go outside. However, Nikita did ask to go around 3:30. She wasn't as demanding as usual, like when she says "HEY! MOMMY! I GOTTA GO! RIGHT NOW! WAKE UP!" This was more like a, "...mom?......you 'wake?" And when I said, "Lay down," she was like, "Oh. Okay. I was just checking," and laid down and went back to sleep. This could open up a whole new world of sleeping opportunity for me. Part of why I never feel well rested is because I'm a terrible sleeper to begin with, but if I wake up in the middle of the night, that's it. Even if I *do* get back to sleep, it's never fully, and when I wake up it seems like I never went to sleep at all. As if I just blinked and got back up. Maddening.

I cannot stress to you enough how much I am LOVING this audio book, "A Scanner Darkly". I should just wear headphones to work all day and listen to it on a discman. The futuristic drug Substance D splits your personality, and so this guy, the main character, is a drug addict -- but he's also an undercover cop! He's narcing on himself, and he has no idea. It's so well written, and I'm just going to take one more moment to drool over Paul Giamatti's reading of it... ok... wait... ok, now I'm done. Wait... ok, now.

Let me tell you about another obsession of mine: sorting things. Coins, crayons, embroidery floss. I swear that my ideal job would be working in a mail room somewhere. It's an organizational thing. But today, when I stopped by the theatre for a meeting with Steve and John, John Shoup made my heart soar. He had a tub of screws dumped onto the stage that needed to be sorted. My eyes landed on them from the back of the theatre when I walked in, and I inquired about them immediately. When John told me that they needed to be sorted and that, in fact, there were three tubs that needed to be sorted... it was hard for me to contain my joy. So much so that I think he thought I was faking the excitement. I am now going to be allowed to take the tubs home with me so I can sort while watching tv (thereby quelling my anxiety about watching tv instead of doing something productive). John's even going to buy me individual plastic tubs for the screws so I have something to sort into, and everything will be happy and shiny and in its place AND THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (....yay.)

Now I shall take my leave of you, as you are no doubt put off by what excites me and are going to have to take some alone time to decide whether or not you really want to follow the blog of a 30+-year-old woman who so thoroughly enjoys menial labor that it makes its way into her leisure time.

Please don't leave me :(

SJS

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Warmer, Please

The weather and the general feeling in the air could be warmer and I would greatly appreciate it.

Paul Giamatti is not, in my estimation, the most attractive man on the planet, but he certainly can act. I'm not even talking about films -- I mean, just on his vocal abilities alone, this man should get an Oscar. (Do they do that? Nah.) So, this audiobook, "A Scanner Darkly" by Philip K. Dick, is amazing. Giamatti narrates and has a different vocal personality for each character he portrays - male, female, cops, druggies, dealers - it's incredible. I fully believe that I'm listening to that particular person talking when he does their voice. I can see their faces, and their gestures, feel their emotion by whatever he's feeding into their voices. I might have to put Paul Giamatti on the list of people I HAVE to meet someday.

I've also been working, slowly, on "Under the Tuscan Sun". Mayes details every last thing - the dirt, the cement, the types of flowers, the wrinkles in people's faces - I feel overwhelmed sometimes because there is so much detail, and she intricately laces it in with the actual plot which is nice. Some authors go into vivid detail and then it never really pertains to what's actually going on, so you get lost in it. Anne Rice does that in some of her novels, to the extent that I'm hesitant to read them when she comes out with a new one because I'm never sure I want to waste so much of my time on what could have been 200 pages shorter.

In other news, for the first time in what literally must be YEARS, my dogs slept through the night TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. I have no recourse other than to believe that they are getting online while I am at work, reading my blogs, and have been successfully shamed into submission.

It's been a rough day, and I'm all ready for vegetation mode.

Hoping yours was better than mine,
SJS

Monday, January 25, 2010

A.D.D. + O.C.D. = O.K.?

So, I figured my A.D.D./O.C.D. husband would blow a gasket this evening -- we took 49 kids, a costumer, a few parents, the vocal director, assistant director, and HIM (the director/choreographer) and went from the rehearsal space in Elkhart to the Bristol Opera House for the first rehearsal in our new space. We dealt with everyone changing back and forth into costumes, getting used to the new space, a new sound system, re-blocking/re-choreographing some of the numbers, and running the entire first act of the show.

But he... was fine! He maintained composure, didn't kill anyone, and didn't burn the Opera House down. I'm extremely proud of him! And honestly -- it really didn't go badly at all! I think (and I hesitate to say this because it frightens me just a little) that if he were to direct a regular show on the season, I wouldn't mind him being my director.

Maybe.

I read some more of "Under the Tuscan Sun" last night before bed, but my hot bubble bath eluded me. Sneaky, those baths. I thought I didn't have time, so I got into my comfy bed and finally warmed up under the freezing covers, then I realized that football was, yes, STILL on so I HAD had time, but now I didn't want to get out from under the warm covers into the cold air, even if it meant I'd end up in a hot bath, because I knew that after the hot bath, I'd have to walk back through the cold air to the now luke-warm covers.

And I have some major news to report:

MY DOGS SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT. I wonder if this is a joy that mothers of newborns experience, only to realize that it's a fluke and the next night it probably will not happen again. I'll let you know tomorrow. Honestly, if someone is waking me up three times a night, I'm more than a little perturbed that it's a husky and not a newborn baby.

Time for a little relaxation before tomorrow, when it starts all over again.

I booked a little mini-vacation for the hubby and I today, though... more than a little excited about that! More info to come, probably after the fact, though.

I love my husband. He's pretty fantastic, and I don't say that often enough. I most certainly could not do what he does -- not all day long at work, and not at night directing 49 kids!

SJS

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In The Shadow of Monday

I'm a big fan of Sunday, right up until about 7pm when I realize that it's almost over, and tomorrow is Monday. It was a relaxing day though. A nice visit with family, played a couple of board games, skipped rehearsal because my director said it was okay. I snacked a bit too much, so I might not be eating a lot before my weigh-in on Tuesday. My goal for this week was 140 but I think that was perhaps a bit too aggressive of a goal. I did take a brisk walk in the breezy cool afternoon with my neighbor Lynda -- we walked her dogs, a black lab/great dane mix and a boxer, for about a mile. Sadly, we walked them in front of my house, where my dogs stared out the window barking at me for cheating on them. I felt ashamed. I'm over it now. I'm pretty sure they are, too. But once in awhile, they look at me with that look, and I just know that they remember.

I'm going to take a good, hot bubble bath and read some more of "Under the Tuscan Sun" before bedtime. Steve and Zachary are watching football, Michael went to bed, and Aria's working on her weekly social studies mini-report. I'm trying to A) prep myself for Monday, and B) shake off the rage I had from the toll booth.

Explain to me why we raised toll prices, then removed the jobs of the people working at the toll booths and automated them and, lastly, why every time I use the stupid toll road the little machine that takes my money away doesn't work. Inevitably, I have to press the 'help' button. This time, it wouldn't take my ticket. The guy said, "Where did you get on?" and I could easily have said the last exit and paid a quarter, but I believe in honesty even when I'm angry, so I told him and paid my full dollar, crumpling up the ticket and throwing it into the back seat of my car. Growling the whole time. I refuse to get the I-Zoom, or I-Pass, or I-Take-Your-Money-Away, or whatever you want to call it. Usually I attempt NOT to use the toll road, but when it's dark and wet on the roads, I'd rather be safe than take back roads, especially when I'm driving with my kids. I'm still growling, though. Hence the need for a good, hot bubble bath and some reading.

I really hope my last W2 comes tomorrow. That would be the highlight of my Monday, I'm sure. Unless I kill in tips tomorrow, which would also be cool.

Another fun tip -- if you would be so kind as to comment HERE while you are signed in, I'd appreciate it. Sometimes I miss the ones on Facebook, and I'm trying really hard to get conversations started by people that are a part of this blog. If you have a comment, please follow this blog and write your comment below so we can all see it and discuss it! Thanks!

And a cool tidbit of news -- our oldest son is in Northern Lights show choir, and they got to perform at the Pacers game last night. The highlight of HIS night? He got to meet Jared from Subway! He was getting a beer (which I'm pretty sure does NOT come with the healthy meals at Subway.) Jared, not my son. Was getting a beer. You know what I mean.

Happy Rest Of Your Sunday Night!
SJS

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Night's All Right, All Right, All Right

I slept, blissfully, until sometime mid-morning when I was shaken awake to let the dogs out, because apparently I had slept through the first time they needed to be let out, and was about to sleep through the second time. I was in the middle of a pretty cool dream, which I can't recall now, but needless to say I wasn't too happy with the dog. The worst part is, it's always MY dog that wants to go out. The little dog would sleep through four days if we let him. He got up, but didn't go out. I think I blindly put on a pot of coffee and went back to bed, Nikita still outside, and asked our daughter to let her back in when she barked. Then I started the coffee and went back to bed. Until noon. Yeah, that's right. Noon. And it was awwwwesome.

It's been a pretty lazy day, actually. Thankfully, the bible COMMANDS a day of rest, so I have no qualms about it, thank you very much. We watched the tape of last night's concert for Haiti (please, please, please donate: www.hopeforhaitinow.org) I just sat back thinking the same thing, over and over.

WE

HAVE

SO

MUCH.

I'm not talking about my husband and I. I mean us, yes... but ALL of us. Americans. It's a struggle for us to make all of our payments and still afford little luxuries now and then, but we get our bills paid, our heat and air conditioning are on whenever we want them, we have clean water piped into our house, and electricity to power our household. We have a roof. We have food. We are healthy, and when we're not healthy, even if we don't have insurance, we at least have access to medical care and payment plans to use to get us back on track. We have credit cards. We have pets that we feed and take to the vet when things go wrong. We have furniture. We have gaming systems. We have televisions, plural. We don't have cable, but we have internet. Our computers are slow, but we have two of them. Our vehicles have over 130,000 miles on each of them, but we have two of them. We have beds, pillows and blankets on our beds. We have dress clothes, regular clothes, clothes we use to paint in -- dress shoes, tennis shoes, and shoes we wear to do yardwork. We have carpet on our floors. We have FLOORS. We have cheap vacations, but we have vacations from time to time. We have glasses, or contacts. A mailbox. Cell phones. MP3 players. A washer. Dryer. Vacuum. Dishwasher. Books. Bibles. Pens. Pencils. Paper. Pictures on our walls. WALLS.

WE

HAVE

SO

MUCH.

The devastation in Haiti is a horrendous tragedy, but let's face it -- there is devastation everywhere, everyday, and we ignore it. We hide in our comfortable little world and ignore the fact that people are starving, that they don't have clean water, that a small cut could get infected and lead to their death because they have no antibiotics, that they are naked, that children are wandering around raising other children because they've been orphaned. We complain that we don't have enough money left after our paychecks come in because we've paid all the bills, but we can't go to the movies or out to eat. We throw away more food at a buffet than some children get to eat in a month. And we constantly take for granted, whining about what we don't have or didn't get or have to save up for, that

WE

HAVE

SO

MUCH.

www.hopeforhaitinow.org


*loooooong breath*

I also watched "Shaun of the Dead" for the first time today, but I promise I won't go into a long tirade about zombies. It did allow me to get back into my comfortable little world, though, for a little while. The zombie apocalypse makes me feel a lot better than the real horrors of the world.

I read a chapter of "Under the Tuscan Sun". It's so beautifully crafted and detailed that it takes a lot longer to read. I'm getting ready to read a little more before bedtime, but I'm really enjoying it.

Also, this evening, we used our season tickets at Elkhart Civic Theatre to see "Agatha Christie's Spider's Web" at the Bristol Opera House. I love being a part of ECT. That's where I met my husband so many years ago, and we're still a part of it, doing what we love. Our kids have a great time there, too! Be sure to call and get your tickets for "Alice In Wonderland, Jr." which Steve is directing and choreographing and I'm assistant directing: 574-848-4116. It plays February 12th & 13th at 7pm and 14th at 3pm. See you there!

And, I cannot emphasize enough, DONATE TO HELP HAITI REBUILD!

SJS

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inglourious Friday

I'm so antsy to file my taxes and get my return that I can't see straight. However, I calmly wait upon one last W2 which, inevitably, will arrive on the very last possible day it can legally arrive. But thanks to online taxes, I'll have all the rest of the info in by then and can just input the last piece of info and click away! Pay off the credit cards and the van, and wait for the next thing in our lives to blow up so we can go right back into debt. Yeah, I'm not really a pessimist, just realistic.

I finished "Firstlight" today, finally -- it's taken quite awhile, I know. I'm looking forward to actually sitting down and reading this weekend and getting through some of "Under the Tuscan Sun". I figure if I can read 8-10 books a month, I'll meet my goal in time. Since I have 9 under my belt already, I'm allowing myself a little breathing room.

I started "A Scanner Darkly" by Philip K. Dick on audiobook today, narrated by Paul Giamatti and I'm already in love with it. It's sci-fi, VERY well written and VERY well read, so that makes it perfect for me. It's about twice as long as the last two audiobooks I've listened to, but I think it'll go quickly anyhow. I might bring it into the house and listen on my cd player while I clean, or work out, or something of the sort.

Finally watched the new Tarantino flick on Blu-Ray tonight (which I'm more and more certain is the only way to watch movies.) I want very badly to meet him someday. I know there are mixed feelings out there about Quentin Tarantino, but I LOVE what he does. It's gratuitous, and creative, and different, and intelligent, and stupid, and funny, and shocking all at the same time. Watching a Tarantino film is like watching four films all at once and then trying to sort them out later. Definitely worth a $4.28 rental fee. Plus however much it's going to cost me to buy it for Steve, who loved it even more than I did.

I'm soooo in the mood for a relaxing weekend. I've been awake since 3:30 this morning, thanks to the dogs. And my middle-of-the-night panic attack that perhaps we were being invaded by carbon monoxide because I had a headache when I woke up. And the little dog dispersing methane into my face whilst sleeping by my head. And the husband rolling over and snoring into my ear. And the alarm going off at 5:00, then 5:05, then I just gave up the ghost of resting and got up and showered and was cranky for a good hour at work before I started perking up.

Praying for my cousin Johnny, The Fighting Toad, who finally has a surgery date set! Check out their blog as well!

Great night to all,
SJS

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Household Reboot

Ahhhhhh.

A fresh start.

These Thursdays I have to myself are extremely helpful. Once again, the entire house is clean, all the laundry is done, the dishes are drying in the dishwasher, the recycling has been sorted and taken away, the furry dog has been brushed, all of my household necessities are finished and I can start anew. I can think again. I can breathe. This is like what communion is for the soul. I shall deem Thursdays my household reboot.

Maddeningly, I still haven't finished a book or even really begun "Under the Tuscan Sun". I thought I'd have some time to read today. I listened to "Firstlight" on the way to the recycling center and back, and while I was sorting. I'm on the last disc so it shouldn't be much longer.

Today there was another story that struck me. This was about Sue as a child. She found a little turtle near their pond and brought it home and her mother allowed her to use an old basin to keep it in. Sue put dead flies and some water and leaves and grass and rocks in there, her ideas of what would be Heaven on Earth for a turtle. Despite her efforts, the turtle spent days circling the basin, trying to get out, only to succumb to the pointlessness of it. Finally the turtle, defeated, sat still and didn't leave its little spot in the corner of the basin. Sue's grandfather told her that the turtle missed being a real turtle, and that the best thing you can do for the ones you love is to give them their freedom. They took the turtle back to the pond and released it, where it scampered as quickly as a turtle can scamper back to its home and sunk down into the water.

How often we try and impose our thoughts and ideas on others. We think, always, that we are the ones who know best for others. If only we were in their position, we would do things THIS way and everything would work out just fine. If only they would take our advice, meet our expectations, do things our way -- they would be happy. The bitter truth is, however, that if we truly love someone we have to accept that they are who they are, and any sort of control we attempt to exert over them to MAKE them happier, or to MAKE them better people, is pointless in the end. Our job is to love, to listen, to give the best advice we can, but not to force them into a mold. That goes for friends, children, and sometimes most importantly, our spouses. Children we must guide, as parents, but still allow them to express themselves and become who they are meant to be. Spouses we must stop placing expectations upon and learn to give 100% all of the time to being loving and kind, and accepting them for who they are instead of trying to change them to fit the mold we want them in.

In the Gospel, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. His answer, in Mark 12:29-31 is this:

29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."

Practice love. Practice kindness. You wouldn't think of picking up a set of bagpipes and being able to play them perfectly if you'd never practiced before in your life, would you? Or being the star quarterback of a football team? Or re-wiring a house? What makes us think we can be perfectly loving and kind if we've never practiced it before?

SJS

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Epic Grocery Shopping

I just bought a month's worth of food/personal care items for my wonderful family of five (seven if you count the dogs, but I only spent $20 on them since they only eat one thing.) My fear is that, in the excitement of having a month's worth in the house, everyone will overindulge and, two-and-a-half weeks from now, someone will inevitably be saying, "When are you going grocery shopping again? We're out of _______". The other problem is, now I'm hungry. I've eaten enough today, but there are so many tasty morsels out there just begging to be consumed. Luckily, I have willpower... most of the time. Sometimes. Sporadically. I'll be right back, I need some snackies to power my typing.

I've found that I enjoy audiobooks more when someone else is listening along with me. On the way back from shopping, my daughter and I were listening to "Firstlight", and some of the stories were much better when we shared them together, because we could talk in between. She enjoyed it as well, and it made for a much better drive home after almost three hours of errands than listening to crummy music or commercials. (My batteries for my satellite radio adapter are dead and I keep forgetting to put them from the recharger back into the adapter and back into the car. Someone out there should remind me to do that.)

On another note, I went shopping with a close friend of mine today after work and had a very enjoyable time. Yes, I shopped and enjoyed it. As most of you know, I hate shopping in general. But I do enjoy shopping with a purpose from time to time, as long as it's not for groceries and especially not for a month's worth of groceries. But this was nice -- we had a purpose. Her twin babies with with us, and I experienced something lovely which she must experience every day: people are fascinated with twins. Every eye was on them the entire time we were out, and so many people remarked on them. They are particularly fascinating to me as well, so I can appreciate all the hubbub. And my arms got a fabulous workout a couple of times when I got to hold them both at the same time while she was trying on clothes!

Now, it's about that time where I get to vegetate. No rehearsal tonight, but it hasn't been as relaxing as one might think. You know... epic grocery shopping.

Meh.

Here's to my day of housewifery tomorrow!

SJS

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ready for My Mental Health Day...

I'm starting to live for Thursdays now. Today I did another 6:30-2ish shift. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy what I do -- I've just never really been a morning person, so it's just strange to me at this point in my life that I've finally become someone who works early in the morning and has this little ... routine. I'm not sure I could do five days a week at 6:30 in the morning without suddenly cracking and throwing espresso in someone's face when they give me attitude. Thus far, the Good Lord has kept me from doing so even when people are particularly rude. I continue the perpetual smile, but in my mind I am plotting their demise. It will never come to fruition, mind you. But the plotting can't hurt. It gets me through the day, anyhow. How did I get off on THAT tangent!?

After that, I came home and got through my daily reading, and then took a nap for about an hour, threw clothes back on and went to rehearsal which we didn't get out of until about 9:50pm. Right now, it's wind-down time. I blog, I veg in front of the television watching a DVD episode of "Better Off Ted" which I find pretty funny most of the time. That's after getting the dishes started in the dishwasher and the laundry folded and the next laundry in the washer and the kids to help me gather up the trash for trash day in the morning and everyone to brush their teeth and our daughter to take her shower and all the kids in bed and the dogs out and the dogs back in. Ahhh. I LOVE wind-down time.

Not much reading, really. I'm trying to focus on "Under the Tuscan Sun" but it takes a bit more concentration than the last couple of books have, because I really want to focus on the language she's using and the pictures she's painting. I like her writing style, but, to me, it demands attention, because Mayes herself is so attentive to detail.

I've also been working my way through this audio book, "Firstlight". Today, Sue Monk Kidd (narrated by the weird-talking Kristen Wiig-SNL-character-voiced lady I mentioned yesterday) had a particularly nice story she told. Short, which is also good. I have a short attention span for listening to books while in traffic, as well I should. The story was about an elderly woman in her family that had taken great care in making a skirt with her very old sewing machine, and had put hours of hard work into the beautiful final product. Immediately thereafter, she pressed it and left it on the ironing board, and the iron fell on it, burning a large portion of the skirt and it couldn't be salvaged. The old woman shrugged, cut it into squares, and made a quilt out of it. Kidd remarked on how the disappointing tatters turned into something beautiful in the end, regardless of the sad turn of events. It's the most inspiring story I've heard thus far. So many times in life things are not what we want them to be. We can cry or curse or blame or take it out on others, but if we just shrug and put a little more hard work into the situation, God can turn it into something beautiful in the end.

Time for the vegetating in front of the television portion of my evening. Thanks for winding down with me!

SJS

Monday, January 18, 2010

Short Supply

of words tonight. It's been a ridiculously long day -- worked from 630a-3p, long rehearsal tonight, and same work schedule tomorrow.

I began "The Faith Club" and put it down. Not interested. Not sure why. Just not in the mood for it right now, perhaps, but I thought it looked interesting before... so, maybe later in the year.

I began "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes. Much more interested in that. Already love her writing style -- very descriptive, powerful, beautifully crafted language.

I'm continuing "Firstlight", the Sue Monk Kidd compilation. I really enjoy her words, but the narrator... ugh. She reminds me of a Kristen Wiig character on SNL. Which would be funny if the content were different!

And now, I will watch Dexter on DVD, 3rd season. Do not tell me anything that happens, because I don't know yet and will never forgive you for telling me.

Happy Monday. Thanking the Lord Monday is OVER!
SJS

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rested and Relaxed

I can't remember the last time I got to sleep in for two days in a row. It was lovely. It would've been lovelier if the dogs hadn't decided all of Friday night/Saturday morning that they needed to go outside every two hours.

I started and finished "The Summerhouse" by Jude Deveraux yesterday and today. It goes along with the post I put up yesterday. Three women on their 40th birthday get a chance to go back and spend three weeks of their life anytime in their past they want, and then decide whether they want their same life back or the new life with the new choices they made. I've never read any of Deveraux's books before, so I have no idea if this is a typical scenario for her. I did enjoy it, though. It solidified my standing that I'm happy where I am, with who I'm with, doing what I'm doing. There have been moments in my life that I regret, but I firmly believe that, had I not had those moments, I would not have become the person who I am today. And if I had to go through what I went through to get here, then I guess it was worth it. The only regrets that I have in my life are the times when I've hurt others. If I could delete THAT, but still be who I've become, then that's all I would delete.

I'm attempting to type here, but really I'm fascinated by Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globes. He absolutely cracks me up. So I'm going to cut this shorter than I normally would simply to bask in hilarity.

On a completely separate note, I encourage you to click here to donate to the victims in Haiti: www.redcross.org

While you're at it, thank God that we're as blessed as we are.
SJS

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Moving Right Along

I finished "A Three Dog Life" today. I love lazy days where I can just read and relax. Took a nice, hot rose-petal scented bubble bath, too. I could live in a hot bubble bath. I no longer care when I start to look like a prune. It used to bother me when I was little and stayed in the bath too long, but these days I'd rather be a prune than the alternative!

One of the quotes in this book particularly struck me. Abigail Thomas writes: "When I was young, the future was where all the good stuff was kept, the party clothes, the pretty china, the family silver, the grown-up jobs. The future was a land of its own, and we couldn't wait to get there. Not that youth wasn't great, but it came with disadvantages. I remember the feeling I was missing something really good that was going on somewhere else, somewhere I wasn't. I remember feeling life passing me by. I remember impatience. I don't feel that way now. If something interesting is going on somewhere else, good, thank god, I hope nobody calls me. Sometimes it's all I can do to brush my teeth, toothpaste is just too stimulating."

I loved this! I read it four times, I loved it so much. Because it really describes how I've been my whole life. I've always had this back-of-my-mind feeling that, while I might be all right where I was right now, I couldn't wait until X amount of time into the future when ______ would happen. When I was in elementary school, I would think how great it would be when I was older like my brother and in high school and could hang out with him and his cool friends. (I didn't do the math at that age to realize that there would never be a time when my brother and I were in high school together... he is almost seven years older than me!) When I was finally in high school, I couldn't wait to get out of the house, out on my own, perhaps to a college somewhere, or on a mission to some other country. When I was in college, I despised the struggle to work almost full time, go to classes full time, rarely see my family, and not be able to get married until after I graduated to the "love of my life". When I graduated and got married, I was miserable and couldn't wait until our divorce was final so I could figure out who I really was. And the cycle continued. Right now, happily re-married and living in Middlebury, Indiana with our three kids and two dogs working at jobs we're lucky to have in Elkhart county where the unemployment rate lingers between 18-20% most of the time, I can't help feeling like I was made to live in a bigger city where I don't have to slow down to 10mph to avoid slamming into a horse and buggy, and where I can order a pizza at 3:16am if I so choose.

It's not an overwhelming unease, it's not a 9.2 on the "I hate my life" scale. It's just a nagging in the back of my mind. The nagging is smaller than it used to be. Perhaps because I am happier now than I ever have been. But I still think from time to time, "I can't wait until I give birth someday" and "I can't wait until we move to Las Vegas." The difference is, these days I can enjoy the moment, too. It's not a debilitating I-wish-I-were-anywhere-but-this-point-in-my-life sort of thing like it used to be. It's more of a building-towards-the-future-without-ruining-the-present sort of thing. And I guess that makes me feel a little more grown up than I used to be. My priorities are more straightened out. My life is less centered around what's going to make me happy, and more about what the other people in my life need. I still have plenty of 'me' time, or at least enough of it. But the truth is, I'd rather have more time with the people I love than time to myself. Which is why I'm home with my family when they're all watching football instead of getting all dolled up to sing karaoke until 2am. My life is boring when it's all about me. And I know, at this point in my life, that sooner or later, I'm going to miss these days.

Trace Adkins "You're Gonna Miss This" describes it perfectly:

She was staring out that window, of that SUV
Complaining, saying I can't wait to turn 18
She said I'll make my own money, and I'll make my own rules
Mamma put the car in park out there in front of the school
Then she kissed her head and said I was just like you
You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These Are Some Good Times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this
Before she knows it she's a brand new bride
In a one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her It's a nice place
She says It'll do for now
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says Baby, just slow down
You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These Are Some Good Times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this
Five years later there's a plumber workin' on the water heater
Dog's barkin', phone's ringin'
One kid's cryin', one kid's screamin'
She keeps apologizin'
He says They don't bother me.
I've got 2 babies of my own.
One's 36, one's 23.
Huh, it's hard to believe, but
You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These Are Some Good Times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this

Here's to 2010. Here's to where I am RIGHT NOW, with my husband, our kids, our dogs, our Midwest subdivision house in Amish country, our blue collar jobs, and our on-their-last-legs vehicles. Here's to true, unconditional love. Here's to my friends and family, who believe in me and love me, and to me believing in and loving them right back. Here's to living in the moment while planning for the future. And here's to each and every one of you, being who you are, where you are, with who you're with, and doing what you're doing.

Live it up.

SJS

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Books - and a New Idea

As some of you know, I've finished writing a manuscript for a book that I'm attempting to market in the realm of Christian publishing. It's something I felt very pressed to write. I started it in May 2008, finished in October 2009, finished editing it in November and started fishing for publishers. I took a break over the holidays because of... well, the holidays. But I've been continuing to pray about it and think over what I should do and how I should go about it. This morning, after a particularly long time on my knees, I got in my car, started my new audio book up, and an idea occurred to me.

Sue Monk Kidd, author of "The Mermaid Chair", "The Secret Life of Bees", and many others, has a book called "Firstlight" which is a compilation of her early writings, most of which are quite inspirational. This morning while I listened on the way to work, I learned that she was a writer for Guideposts magazine for over a decade. And it occurred to me that perhaps this is a good way to get my feet wet in this market. If I were to take the book apart, chapter by chapter, and submit each chapter as an article, then later put it back together as a compilation, it might make things simpler for me during this process. I can't imagine it was coincidence that this came up in this particular book, at this particular time, on this particular morning.

So, I've started "Firstlight", and I've also started a book called "A Three Dog Life" by Abigail Thomas. I'm definitely liking this one so far. It's a memoir -- the woman is writing about her husband who was hit by a car while attempting to rescue their dog from running into traffic, and his personality changes drastically after brain surgery. It invokes a kind of low-grade anxiety in me while I read it, but I'm fascinated nonetheless. It makes me wonder, how would I feel if my husband became a type of shell that a different "husband"'s personality lived inside? I would love him and stay with him and take care of him regardless, but how would I feel, emotionally, watching him endure such a tragic existence day after day? Indeed, enduring it myself? Most people, I think, would have a tendency to put up a barrier and avoid their spiritual side, be angry with God, and let it affect everything in their life negatively. I would hope that I would remain the same person I am inside, with the same spiritual connection, but even moreso. There have been points in my life when I've been in trouble and have pulled away from God and everything I've believed and, like a child pulling away from a parent, I've done nothing but make my circumstances worse. Inevitably, during rough times when I have attempted to pull closer instead of putting up that barrier, He's worked things out His way and they are far better than I could ever have imagined my own solutions to be.

You might have noticed I didn't start reading a Clive Barker book yet. Now I'm debating which one I should read. My initial inclination was Weaveworld, because I've heard of it before, and because my friend Danny had it rated highly on the list he sent along with the books. But he mentioned to me that I might want to get my feet wet with a short story compilation before diving into an epic. Stinking logical outlook he has.

I'm hungry, and I need to go grocery shopping. That's not going to happen tonight, because it's dark and I'm in my robe. So I must find some snackies to hold me over until tomorrow when I buy us some real food.

Happy weekend, everyone!
SJS

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Superclean

Ahhhh. That's better. The house is no longer a sty. Well, it wasn't exactly a sty, but by the standards at which I like to keep the house whenever possible -- it was getting close. The poor dogs had to deal with the vacuum for an inordinate amount of time. I didn't want to put them outside while I was running it because then they'd just track melty snow onto the carpet.

I finished reading "A Wrinkle in Time" this early afternoon when my housecleaning was done to my satisfaction. I'm sort of proud of myself for finishing it. As Carl said in his comment to my last blog, he doesn't like to waste time finishing a book if he doesn't like it. I've always been like that as well, but I'm trying to force myself through things this year even if I don't enjoy them, especially if they are "classics" because I feel I should read them. But I disliked this book very much. I kept hoping it would eventually have some redeeming quality, or be beautifully tied up in the end so it all made sense. The attempt at the tying-up-loose-ends was valid, but I don't think it was passionate enough to come through the way the author probably intended. I know -- who am I to say such things about a literary classic? I like what I like. I didn't like this. The end seemed haphazardly thrown together, like she was thinking -- I have to end this soon, what should I do? Oh, this seems easy... it left me wondering why she didn't do one of two things: either fully flesh the story out to be the size of an adult novel, or take some of the more random elements out and put more emphasis on the ending. She develops the characters at the beginning for such a long time that when the actual story comes along, the plot just jumps all over the place and never really becomes much of anything. I'm rather thankful it wasn't longer!

I also finished the Steve Martin book this evening, and had the exact opposite response. I have a deep appreciation for his use of language, which I remarked upon at the beginning of the autobiography, but as the story went on, my appreciation grew even more. I love listening to books that are narrated by the author, because I believe their tone and inflection are obviously indicative of precisely what they wanted at any given point. Books read by someone else besides the author have the reader's connotations mixed in, almost like a teacher interpreting a poem written by someone else -- it's never quite what it was truly meant to be unless you're getting it directly from the horse's mouth. So everything about this book, to me, was exactly what it should have been. He had me laughing out loud more than once, but also seeing deep into his life and what made him the person he is. It also ended perfectly. Read it. Now. "Born Standing Up".

I'm about to catch up with the last couple of days worth of American Idol, and I need to figure out what I'm going to read next. I'm toying with a couple of ideas...

Until next time, thanks for reading! Bring your friends!
SJS

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Success Is...

"FAME" WAS FANTASTIC! It was everything I wanted it to be, and more. I loved the original, but they did such a wonderful job with this new one, I couldn't believe it. The "success" monologue near the end of the movie was spot-on. It talks about how success has nothing to do with money or material possessions, but loving what you do everyday and the people you are with. I teared up near the beginning of the movie and didn't stop until the end. Of the credits. Most of you wouldn't have recognized me had you been looking right at me.

I'm almost finished with the Steve Martin book, and I'm still loving it. I'm debating what to read next -- I have a few more audio books from the library and I might choose one of those randomly, but I'm sort of interested in an audio book I got from Danny.

Let me tell you about Danny.

Danny is one of the few people left from my Ann Arbor days that I actually still talk to on a regular basis. There's a quality about him that is challenging, but only because he challenges me. To be more intelligent, to be a stronger writer, to think through why I claim to be what I claim to be. (He probably didn't know I thought all of those things, so... ya know, Danny, if you're reading... uhhh, surprise.) Danny is the guy who, if I told him "this book is awesome and you should read it" he would research all the reasons online why he shouldn't read it and present them to me. I have this feeling that he might read it behind my back and never discuss it with me. And, strangely, it's one of the things I like about him. Apparently I'm drawn to things that frustrate me. Danny is also the guy who, if I told him, "I've decided to read 100 books this year" and we got into a discussion about a certain author, let's say, Clive Barker, and I said, "I've never read any Clive Barker" he would package up several Clive Barker books and mail them to me immediately.

I say this because it is precisely what he did. I'm praying to God that I like Clive Barker. (On the off chance that I don't, he also sent Reese's Cups and Kit Kat bars.) So, don't be surprised if you see a Clive Barker book on my list sometime in the near future.

He also sent an audio book of something that he keeps raving about called "Forever Fifteen". From all of his allusions to this book, I'm assuming it has something to do with vampires. I've half a mind to never read it, just out of spite. But I usually cave where he's concerned, so I'll probably read it. Sigh.

Tomorrow I have a day off of work, with no houses to clean. My plan is: to clean my house. I know this sounds mundane, but the thing is, I have a desperate need to get this household in shape. It's not a very popular outlook in this day and age, but I feel like, as the woman of the house, I need to be paying more attention to things around here. I work outside of the house as most women these days do, but I feel like this is where my main focus should be. The home, the family, my husband, the kids, keeping everything organized and, above all, clean. After I get home from work and try to unwind, I can't do it because I feel suffocated by my surroundings. I see things that need to be taken care of that neither of us really have the time to take care of, and then I can't completely relax. So, as part of my 'mental health day', my number one priority is, as often as possible, to make sure things around here are taken care of in a manner I deem appropriate. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but it's just how I feel. Plus, Steve works harder, more hours, is directing and choreographing a show, and coordinates the kids' extra-curricular schedules and checks their grades on a daily basis. I want to be there for him in any way possible to make things easier and/or more comfortable for him when he comes home. He deserves it. And frankly, I'd want to do it even if I didn't think he deserved it, because I love him. He's the kind of guy who, when I offhandedly mention I like bluegrass music four years ago and he sees me cracking up watching Steve Martin anytime I see/hear him, buys us tickets to see Steve Martin doing bluegrass music in Chicago for our anniversary.

I still haven't finished "A Wrinkle in Time". I've read a little more of it, a couple of chapters. I just... hmm. I don't really like it. I know, I know. Newberry winner, classic, whatever. I'm entitled to my opinion. I can't put my finger on it. I feel like it's almost predictable, to a certain extent. I did not know anything about it before I read it. I should have finished it in like, a day, it's so short and it's a young adult book, for goodness' sake. But I'm not even wowed by the psychological aspects of it. I suppose that back in 1962 when it was written it was probably quite avant-garde, and perhaps I'm jaded. But I sort of can't wait until I'm finished with it so I can move on to something that I enjoy. I'm not sure why I liked "A Ring of Endless Light" so much, but don't really care for this. I guess it's the sci-fi aspect of it. "Ring" was very straightforward and realistic. This one is just bizarre and somewhat boring at this point. I'll try and finish it tomorrow, and let you know which Clive Barker I'm starting on.

I might also have "Fame" on in the background while I clean the house, so if you try to call and I don't answer, it's because the music's too loud!

The weekend's almost here, and I'm ready to embrace it!
SJS

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anticip................ation

I cannot wait!!! FAME came out on Blu-Ray today and I can't see it until tomorrow night, but I am psyched! (Does anyone even say 'psyched' anymore? I don't care!)

I did not finish "A Wrinkle in Time" yet. I'm sort of distracted by the fact that it has so many parallels to "The Neverending Story". (Another book which I have not read, but I own. I have seen the movie approximately 482 times, however.) I've been in my car a lot today so I've been working on getting through the Steve Martin autobiography (to remind you, it's called "Born Standing Up".) I am thoroughly enjoying this one. I find myself wishing that it were longer than it is, but even for an autobiography, there is an extreme amount of information in it.

How do I word the next sentence to be grammatically correct? I don't care, so I'll just say it: I am at the point in the book now where Steve Martin's career is where it was when I first became cognizant of who Steve Martin is. (Didja get through that, and are we still on the same page?) The "early 80s" Steve Martin. It's fascinating to me not only to see how he got to that point, but what's going on behind the scenes while he's at that point.

One thing in particular that I was surprised to learn is that Steve Martin has suffered prolonged bouts of anxiety attacks. I find comfort in this, oddly, because I (and most female members of my family) have suffered the same thing for years to different degrees. For those of you who have never had to deal with this malady, for lack of a better term, his description is perfect: An anxiety attack embodies every aspect of the emotion of fear without an actual object of fear. (This part is my description: Say you were standing in the middle of the road, unable to move, and a semi-truck was driving directly towards you at 80mph and was, indeed, going to kill you. THAT is what an anxiety attack is like, just without the semi. Martin sort of says the same thing, but uses a lion as an example.) It's strangely humbling to know that I share something in common with such a celebrity -- we're all human, you know?

On the way home from dropping off one of the students involved in our youth production of Alice in Wonderland, I was listening to the book and he was describing one of his acts, and how he would throw random things in just to see what would happen if he said them. One was, "How many people here have never raised their hands?"

I almost had to pull my car over I laughed so hard. And that's the greatest thing about Steve Martin -- you never know what you're going to get, but it's always, always hilarious.

Thursday I am off work, and so I plan to do a lot of reading catch-up. Wonder if I just stayed home all day how much I could get through!?

Anticipating FAME... let me know if you watch it, and what you think!
SJS

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life's Little Surprises

So, last night, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm on my way to the video store to take back a Blu-Ray of the crummy movie that we watched, and I left my cell phone at home by choice, because it's only a mile away. Literally. One mile. I'm thinking, why would I possibly need my cell phone to drive a mile and back to drop off a video?

The answer to this question became apparent to me as I neared the video store and my front passenger side tire completely shredded for no reason at all. I did not hit a pothole or any other obstacle, and nothing was embedded in the tire. I'm half-wondering if it was God's way of telling me I should always carry a cell phone, but I never thought He was that big on technology. Long story short, my husband has amazingly quick tire-changing skills, and the lovely people at Monteith replaced it with a used tire and also fixed the back driver's side tire (which had a slow leak because there was a screw burrowed deep down inside) for the bargain price of only $41.75. And there was much rejoicing. (Yay.)

Last night while I was looking through my library for another book to read, I found a good pile of about five or six that I was interested in. You'll probably laugh at me, since I have a degree in English, but I've never read "A Wrinkle in Time" and it looked like something I would enjoy. I've read "A Ring of Endless Light" by L'engle, and was fascinated by it so much that I read it several times, so one would think that I would've read a classic such as this. Nopers. But after tonight, I will have. There are some other classics that I should have under my belt at this point that I haven't read either, but I may or may not get to those. I have to say, anything by Faulkner just turns my stomach. I despise his writing. Jane Austen's, too. I can't even bring myself to read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" because there is so much of her writing in there. The Zombies part would almost be worth it. But not quite.

Sadly, I've missed a day of the Steve Martin book because it's in the CD player in my car which was out of commission. I had to get up slightly earlier than usual and ride into work with my husband and back today. He was kind enough to make my daily stop for a cappuccino (on my way to the coffeehouse where I work. I know. The irony is not lost on me, and I do apologize. I have an addiction to 7-11 English Toffee Cappuccino, and it's rough to admit, but now that it's out there perhaps I can recover.)

Well, the kids are in bed, the big dog and little dog are sleeping on the floor and chowing down on Purina respectively, and the husband is reading in the office, so I can probably finish "Wrinkle" and add it to my list. Don't worry, the next few books I have in line are longer and meatier than the last couple.

I have a weigh-in at work tomorrow. Must... not... have... snacks.

Monday. Blah.

SJS

Sunday, January 10, 2010

About "About Alice"

This was an extremely quick read, but I enjoyed it. Calvin Trillin has been a writer for The New Yorker since 1963, and his wife, Alice, was a writer also. The story is a short collection of tributes to her, basically telling the story of her personality and how she dealt with cancer and heart issues finally leading up to her death. Some of it is very funny and I laughed out loud, but most of it is just poignant and sweet and endearing. It's less than 100 pages, so it's not exactly a Little Golden Book, but it's not an epic King novel, either. Now I have to search my library for something else to strike my fancy because I can't stand just reading one book at once. Even though I adore Steve Martin!

Last night we started watching the tv series "Better Off Ted" on dvd. It's pretty funny, and I've always enjoyed Portia De Rossi. After a few episodes of that, we sent the kids away and watched Paranormal Activity which, those of you who are on Facebook with me already know, I thought was terrible. TERRIBLE. Seriously. Probably the worst "scary" movie I've ever seen. When did "scary" begin to mean "nothing will really happen but periodically a loud noise will occur which might make you jump but if you're expecting it, probably not"? If you haven't seen this movie already, don't waste the 90 minutes. Just have one of your kids hide in different places in the house and jump out at you at random intervals, thereby saving the $3.00 on rental (or $4.25 on Blu-Ray!)

I do want to share something beautiful that was in my devotional book today by Gary Chapman. He writes, "All true repentance begins in the heart. The decision to change shows that we are no longer making excuses or minimizing our behavior. Instead, we are accepting full responsibility for our actions... we are putting our sinful behavior behind us and seeking a new heart and a new spirit. (Ezekiel 18:30-31) Only God can give those. He can renew in us a desire to change the way we act. He can help us do better. When we share our desire to change, the offended party gets a glimpse of our heart. That often leads to forgiveness."

This is so true, not just in the marriage relationship, but in all kinds of relationships in life. Family, coworkers, friends, spouses, kids, adults, etc. This is part of the change I'm trying to make in my life this year. Not just to say the words "I'm sorry" but to make a true change in my behavior and attempt to align myself and my ways with what I truly want to become. Gary Chapman is, in my opinion, very good at what he does.

Have an enjoyable day -- bask in the sunshine while it's here!

SJS

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Slacking

On a weekend!? That's just crazy talk. It's been a nice weekend so far, though. I just haven't done much (ahem, any...) reading. Other than my devotional and bible reading, that is. But I'm going to finish "About Alice" tonight!

Last night was the Volunteer Banquet for South Bend Civic Theatre, which was a nice time visiting with friends and eating a lot. Oddly, I lost half a pound when I weighed myself this morning. Perhaps I should eat buffet style every night? Then we rented "500 Days of Summer" and watched it. Today was the Studebaker Museum (which my husband and kids had never been to) and Texas Roadhouse. Now they're watching "500 Days..." again while I shop around online for good travel deals. I can't wait until they get that whole beaming thing perfected so travel rates will go down and I can be somewhere warm whenever I want.

Ick, and it's laundry day. Although of all the chores, I think laundry is probably my favorite. It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something and really, most of the time I'm doing laundry I'm not really doing anything.

Hopefully, the dogs will let me sleep in tomorrow... they desired to be let out last night at 4:00 a.m. and again at 7:30 a.m. When they wanted to go out at 9:00-something, I was done helping them, so Steve took over. I'm wondering if I can somehow mold a door-opener out of something, and they can pick it up off the floor with their mouth, put it around the doorknob, and let themselves out.

I shall now watch the end of the movie, since I fell asleep last night. I certainly enjoy the quirky little half-smile on my husband's face when he's watching a movie he loves.

Enjoy your weekend!
SJS

Friday, January 8, 2010

Disgruntled

Hmm. I finished the Kay Arthur book last night. Up until the point that I last wrote, I was enchanted. However, the couple of chapters I had left -- well, they bothered me a bit. Part of it is that I think she was trying to tackle too much in the book. She broke focus from the marriage to talk about finances and about child-rearing. Now, don't get me wrong, both of these things are extremely important elements in a marriage and should have been discussed. But the way she went about it made me feel as if both subjects should have had a separate book, and she didn't really relate them back into the whole realm of marriage. It began to feel preachy. And, quite unfortunately, I finally disagreed with her on two strategic points.

One point is that she believes in the whole "hands are made for loving, and discipline should be done with an object to spank with' thing. A paddle, a 'rod'. I don't agree that this should be interpreted literally from the bible. Certain things were done in the day and should not be done in this day. If you spank your child, it should be with your hand only, and only on the bottom, and only up until a certain age where that child can have other reasonable punishment. I do not believe in beating a teenager with a belt because they missed curfew, because all they get from that is pain and humiliation, not a life-lesson, and it's not a relative punishment befitting the 'crime'. Another disagreement I had with Kay Arthur is in her financial section about giving, she said that the New Testament disregards tithing as a percentage and it should be whatever you feel you can give, and to give cheerfully. I firmly believe in giving 10%, and that God set that because it's not an amount, it's a percentage. If you make a lot of money or a little money, you can give what God asks of you. It's to be returned to him as an acknowledgment that all we have and all we are comes from him. If left to their own devices saying, oh, just give whatever you feel like... well, we won't learn the discipline of tithing or the acknowledgment of God's gifts. We're human and we'll be stingy and we'll stick 40 cents in the offering plate because we want to go out to dinner later. I don't believe the New Testament does away with our giving.

Overall, it was a really great book, however, and I suggest everyone read it, and take the last few chapters with a grain of salt.

I stared "About Alice" last night and will likely finish it today. It's a quick, witty read by Calvin Trillin about his wife, Alice. Thus, the book is aptly named.

I'm enjoying the Steve Martin book so much I could read it twice even though it won't count.

Fun with theatre friends tonight! Happy weekend, everyone!

SJS

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Two Down, Ninety-Eight To Go

I finished "The Lost Symbol" this afternoon. I was very close last night. Instead of staying up goofing off on the computer at night if I'm not tired, I've been laying in bed beneath the perpetual Christmas lights. Steve can sleep through almost anything. I firmly believe that I could hold a dance-a-thon for charity in the kitchen while he's sleeping and he'd never know. Last night, however, I succumbed to the lusty advances of sleep. She's a harsh mistress. Therefore, I didn't finish the Dan Brown book until this afternoon. And, not wanting to give anything away, I will simply say that it was, thus far, the best book I've read of his.

Thursday is my 'mental health' day, but it rarely manifests itself as such. Originally, I decided I needed to take a day off during the week from my regularly scheduled daily grind (pun intended as I do, in fact, work at a coffeehouse called The Daily Grind) so that I could regroup and invest my efforts in our household. Cleaning, organizing, doing latent projects that have been in dire need of attention. However, with the holidays, that's been thrown by the wayside for a bit. I worked at the DG two Thursdays in a row to make up for the two Fridays in a row that I'd have off for Christmas and New Year's Day, and then had to clean two houses this afternoon for the last two cleaning clients I still have. The economy is telling my clients they do not need me. I prefer to think that God is telling me he no longer wants me to clean houses. Therefore, I'm not on the lookout for new housecleaning clients, just a way to market my writing and editing skills on the side.

Enter "The Arts in Michiana". My friend Peter has come up with a bi-weekly newsletter encompassing most of Elkhart County and the surrounding area, sort of like a "Coffee News" pamphlet but with arts-only information and advertisements. He has taken me up on my offer to edit it for him. It's something I'm passionate about, it puts my skills to good use, and will look great on a resume when I finally move to Las Vegas someday. You know, when I grow up. And perhaps it'll bring in some cash at some point while I'm still here!

I'm close to being finished with the Kay Arthur book as well. She's into a lot of parenting information right now that is very useful, and she ties it in with the marriage theme as well. So many people think that marriage and parenting are completely separate realms. Definitely not so.

It's interesting to see what books people are recommending to me now that I've started this challenge for myself. Post a comment and tell me about a book that you think I might like -- if it strikes my fancy, I might get to it sometime this year and let you know what I think!

I've gotten a little further in the Steve Martin biography, too. I have to say, the more I learn about him, the more honored I feel that I got to see him last year. One of the things I love so much about Steve Martin is his ability to use the English language intelligently. Some of his humor is so subtle, and I love the three minute delay factor. You know, when someone says something funny but you don't think about how funny it is until about three minutes later when you realize it's funny on about five different levels, and then it all comes together at once and you can't stop laughing. Who knew that the guy with the plastic arrow through his head would be around for this long, and could intricately craft his talents into something so ... almost universal, at this point in his life. I honestly don't think I have ever met anyone who didn't know who Steve Martin was. And his best roles? L.A. Story & Simple Twist of Fate have to be my top two for him. (His versions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Silas Marner".) His bluegrass music, his Saturday Night Live performances... there's really nothing he's ever done that I haven't liked. When you grow up watching and thinking you know so much about someone, and then delve into a biography and are blown away at some of the things you could never imagine about them, it just makes you want to go back and re-watch everything again. Oh, and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." Heh.

I'm writing all of this when I should be reading.

So, I'll get back to that! I do have ninety-eight more books to finish, you know. And thanks to bad weather and canceled activities this evening, I have plenty of time to do it!

Have a great night. Bundle up!
SJS

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tragedy

Tragedy: a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster.

I was informed by a good friend this afternoon that a mutual acquaintance had passed away. Though I was never close with this person, a great many in my inner circle were. It grieves me to see the pain his loss has brought about. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his friends.

I'm making headway on both books, though not as much as I'd like at this point. I have an average of 3.5 days per book this year. So far, I've finished one -- however, the next two will be finished right around the same time. I started my next one, albeit just a short blurb or two before I had to stop, this early afternoon and I'm extremely excited about it:

"Born Standing Up" by Steve Martin. I recently had the honor of attending a Steve Martin bluegrass concert in Chicago, the tickets to which my husband purchased for me for our anniversary in September. He knows I enjoy bluegrass music, love Steve Martin, and like to travel to Chicago, so it really couldn't have been a more perfect gift. The concert was delightful. My battery was almost dead on my camera, which I wasn't worried about at the time because I figured I couldn't take pictures or video anyway. However, there were no "No Photography/Video" posters or announcements, and basically everywhere I looked people were either taking pictures or video, so I whined to myself a bit. I did get a couple of minutes on my camera before the battery went dead. He did a bit of "stand up comedy" in between songs, so it was the best of both worlds. I can't wait to delve into this biography.

This evening brought another productive Alice in Wonderland rehearsal, more laid back than usual because fewer kids were called and we had specific sections to work on each hour. Another one tomorrow evening, but then the weekend will be off for a much-needed break!

My husband... is playing... video games. (This has only happened once before in our nearly eight years together. I'm not sure if I should stop and join him, or just pretend I'm not noticing and see what happens. Hmm.)

This is really the first I've been home other than dinner, which was sweet sour chicken over fried rice, homemade. For all the time I've spent decrying my cooking skills, I haven't heard any complaints recently. I appreciate 'non-complaints' almost as much as I appreciate compliments in life, so I'll take it!

Sincerely, I would like to thank you very much for reading and/or following this blog. It means a lot to me. (On a side note, did you know that the root for 'sincerely' means 'without wax'?)

Have a great night!
SJS

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sacrifice

One of my Christmas presents this year from my husband was a couple's devotional for each day of the year. This in itself was a very nice present, but considering the fact that he has so little time in the day after working, keeping track of the kids' schedules and grades, and directing and choreographing this show -- the gesture of sacrificing even a few minutes of his free time each day to do something like this with me means so much more than the book itself. I'm certain that the only thing he wants to do at the end of the night (if there IS any time left over) is rest and vegetate in front of the tv and then fall into blissful sleep. That anyone wants to spend time with me is pretty amazing to me, but for someone who knows me in and out, my flaws and failures, and works with me all day long in close quarters, then has me next to him ADing his show, and still wants to spend those precious few minutes with me -- I'm not sure he really knows how much his sacrifices mean to me. I'm just glad I have the rest of my life to attempt to show him.

So, that was pretty gushy. I try to hide my girly side most of the time but it escapes sporadically. Guys in my audience are likely rolling their eyes, and girls might be thinking, 'Awwww...' but really, I say all that to say this:

Have I mentioned this book "A Marriage Without Regrets"!? (I know I have. I'm being facetious. There's that word again!) The author goes in depth explaining the details of honoring, respecting, and making your spouse feel loved. One of the simple things that most women never do is really pay attention to your husband. What he IS doing instead of the things you tend to nag about because he's NOT doing them. Gary Chapman, in his series about the Five Languages of Love (I've already read some of these, so they don't count for this year's goal) illuminates the subject of WAYS people show/feel loved. For instance, I might desire hand-holding, a smile, or sweet words of encouragement to feel loved, therefore that's what I tend to give when I'm trying to show love to my spouse. On the other hand, many people (men specifically) tend to show love by performing acts of service -- shoveling the drive, mowing the lawn -- or buying gifts from time to time. In turn, that's how they FEEL loved, also -- by receiving small tokens of affection or when their wife dusts off their tv set or lays out their clothes for work the next day. Just because we might not FEEL loved doesn't mean the other person isn't trying to SHOW that they love us. We're maybe just not picking up on it. The trick is to pay close attention to what the other person is saying/doing and realizing the love that's actually coming from that source instead of consistently looking for what WE expect when we show/desire affection. This ties in with what Kay Arthur talks about in the book I'm reading now. The closer attention you pay, the more you realize things you never saw before, even in a marriage that you've been involved in for ten, twenty, or forty years.

This evening we had another rehearsal, a bit smaller than last nights because fewer people were called, but we got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. One of the things I've always loved about my husband, from the time we first met and I found out he had children, was how much he adored not just his kids, but all kids. He lights up around them -- really listens to them when they talk, and most children are dying for an adult to pay attention to them. Not that their parents don't, but it's always soooo much cooler when some other adult is holding a real conversation with you! (I remember this because, believe it or not for my typically cynical and jaded attitude, I, too, was a child once.) Watching him take charge of fifty kids and seeing them enjoying themselves is great -- but seeing him enjoy himself is even more fulfilling. I freak out around more than five or six kids at the same time, but I'm really glad he picked me to assistant direct. I'd hate to miss out on something like this, especially when our whole family has the opportunity to be involved.

And two family dinners in a row! Tonight I made a low-fat lasagna with mushrooms and I baked an extra layer of skim mozzarella on top. We drank a lot of water with it, since I put a little cayenne and a little Frank's Red Hot Sauce in, too >:)

I finished another several chapters of the Dan Brown book. I'm a little more than halfway through and it's so much more fast-paced than the other books of his that I've read. I'm grateful that I can still picture the Robert Langdon I envisioned before I saw Tom Hanks play the role. Not that I don't think he did a good job. I just had something else in mind when I read the DaVinci Code the first time, and I carried that image through when I read Angels and Demons and now The Lost Symbol. Someday, after I DO get to travel to D.C., I'm definitely going to read this again. Just like after Steve and I visited Las Vegas for the first time, we started re-watching all the movies we knew that took place in Vegas, and after NYC the first time when we did the same!

On a random note, I'm really missing watching Jeopardy. We have about a hundred of them on tape (that's NOT hyperbole) that we'll probably get around to someday. Maybe not this year... but someday!

Before I go, since the title of this post is "Sacrifice" I'd really appreciate it if everyone thought about how they could sacrifice a little of themselves the rest of this week for someone they love. An hour of your "me" time for your son or daughter, just to color or play hide-and-seek. $20 for a gift card for your spouse to their favorite fast-food place or bookstore, or a bouquet of for-no-reason-at-all flowers. A package in the mail to a friend you haven't seen in a few years. Something just to say, "I care about you. You mean something to me. You mean more to me than myself."

As always, thanks for listening.

You people can feel free to comment, you know :P

SJS

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's, Uh... Pretty Cold Out

I'm certain that when I'm living in Las Vegas someday I will miss the snow, the frigid air, the slushy feeling under my feet, the icy windshield when I get out of work. I'm not really so much certain of this as I am ... well, in complete denial of it all. I like the snow for about 6 days a year, culminating on December 25th and beginning its melting cycle the following day.

Although there's really no better way to read a book than to lay in a hot bath tub with it on a freezing day like today. Unfortunately, I had no such luxury. After working from 6:30-2, driving to the vet to get antibacterial/antifungal shampoo for my husky and forcibly holding her in a bathtub for the appropriate amount of time (I'm supposed to do this THREE times a day!? Really!?), cooking dinner for my family (don't worry, Mom, I washed my hands first!), changing clothes and deodoranting up to remove the wet dog smell from my person, 3 1/2 hours of Alice in Wonderland rehearsal/travel time in the nasty weather, and doing my devotional/bible time, it is now 11:00 in the evening. So, no rose-petal scented bubble bath for me. Someone would probably knock on the door with an urgent need to use the restroom the moment I got comfortable anyhow. It's all worth it, though -- I actually enjoy working with my husband, living with my husband, AND assistant directing for my husband. I also got to see all three of my kids today, which is a rare occasion. The oldest is usually at rehearsal for show choir or band or school drama everyday, so it's really nice when all five of us can sit down at the table and eat dinner at the same time. Even if the dogs do decide that "Family Time" includes them, and they sloppily chow down and slurp up water while we're eating. (They're motto is, 'Hey! You're the one with the opposable thumbs -- if you don't want us to eat while you're eating, then move the buffet out of our reach!')

How's THAT for a preamble?

I've gotten about halfway through the Dan Brown book "The Lost Symbol", and my friend Heather is right. I really don't want to put it down. It's more fast paced than Angels and Demons, and more fun than The DaVinci Code. It's set in Washington, D.C. and I find myself really wanting to visit there someday. I've never been interested much in politics or political figures. But certain pieces of historical information I find interesting when presented in the right way. (Just ask Mr. Galvin, my high school history teacher. The days when I wore my sunglasses and took a nap -- not interesting days. Unfortunately, that was approximately 87% of the time I spent in his class. But it wasn't nearly the amount of time I spent sleeping during chemistry class.) At any rate, I'm looking forward to Steve reading this so we can discuss it together and I can ask him questions about the geography, because he's actually been to D.C. That's another thing -- we both love to read, and I'm trying to read a lot of books that he's also read, or is planning to read, so we have something to discuss other than work, kids, finances, and dogs!

Which brings me around to the other book I'm reading, "A Marriage Without Regrets". It's simply fantastic. I've read a lot of books in this genre. There's nothing wrong with my marriage, don't get me wrong. I'm just one of those people who are consistently trying to make things even better. When someone sees a first draft of something I've written, it's likely the third or fourth draft, and I'm still not completely convinced that it's good enough for a first draft. (Part of why I'm forcing myself to blog everyday -- these are all first drafts. I write, I publish. I don't edit. Typos excluded. I don't edit for content, but I edit typos. If you see any, it'll upset me because I'll feel like an idiot for missing them.) So this marriage book, she says basically the same things that any marriage-book-writer says. Unconditional Love. Communication. But it's in the presentation of these subjects that Kay Arthur really shines. Personal examples, biblical quotes that are more than just the ordinary fodder, and beautiful language. I'm fascinated by language. Probably why I write. (Side note: I was actually complimented today at work by a customer because I used the word 'facetious'. I use it all the time because my parents used to say it when I lived at home and I just carried it with me. I didn't realize that you don't really hear it that often. I laughed a little!)

The chapter I just read is on communication, which (probably not ironically because it's also a marriage devotional) coincided with the chapter I read in my devotional book by Gary Chapman right before it. The way that Arthur describes the power of words... it just blew me away. We've all heard that words have the power to heal or to harm, but she puts it into such a perspective that you can relate it to any relationship in your life, not just that of a husband and wife. I'm officially a Kay Arthur fan. I'm somewhat saddened that I found her book on the clearance rack at church for $4.99. At the same time, I feel like I got a pretty good bargain!

It's about bedtime -- I might read for a few minutes to try and put myself to sleep before I do it all again tomorrow!

Goodnight,
SJS

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Technologically Non-Savvy

For my third trick, I would like to point my actual registered domain name at my new blog. Now you can reach me at www.sjstowe.com -- even though it took me several emails back and forth with my super-cool tech friend in Grand Rapids to figure out how to do this, and he had to do all the hard work first. Thanks, Ben!

The first book I finished in my 100-book marathon for the year was "Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom. (I'm going to warn you right up front that I'm not going to be reading 100 thousand-page epics by Stephen King, and I might have to add a Little Golden Book in the mix now and then, but I'll do my best to stay true to my own goal.) Mitch Albom's books aren't long, and they're never a difficult read. They do, however, contain little nuggets of life's truths from time to time. Sometimes sappy, but sometimes profound and beautiful. I liked this better than "For One More Day" and "Tuesdays with Morrie". It was very "Morrie-esque" in its demeanor, but chronicled the lives of two men of faith, albeit different faiths. I'm not planning to give away much, if anything, about the books I read -- just whether I liked them or not and if anything really struck me. I liked this one. Nothing in particular struck me. But it was a nice read and I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Usually I read more than one book at the same time. Something fictional and something in the non-fiction, or "self-help" realm. Since my "conversion" in 2004, I've been reading quite a few Christian living manuals. Not that I think there's some incredible new way of living that I've never discovered, I just want to see if there are bits and pieces of something better that I can incorporate into my daily routine of family life. Right now I'm reading "A Marriage Without Regrets" by Kay Arthur. It's pretty informative and she really puts a lot of herself into it, which is admirable.

I've also just begun to read the latest Dan Brown novel, "The Lost Symbol". I might pick up a third book on CD at the library this week so I have something to do during my commute to and from work each day. (I might listen to it on the way TO work, but on the way home I usually like to vegetate while listening to Sirius radio 22, Alternative Classics on First Wave. And I usually call my mom, my little sister, or Heather!)

I stayed in today and didn't go to church, but I still went to church. We downloaded last weekend's service on my husband's computer and watched it -- it was fantastic. Something everyone, Christian or not, should watch. Much of it is about forgiveness, and Dr. Bob words some things so beautifully they can't help but to make sense.

http://www.gccwired.com/streampagenew.asp?pageID=174

So watch it. (Please!?)

Last of all, the break is over, school and rehearsals are starting up again tomorrow, and I'll have a limited time to work on this goal of mine, but I'm committed to fulfilling it regardless of the hours I work, the nights of rehearsal for the next several months, the three kids, the two dogs, and the partridge in the pear tree.

Have a beautiful Sunday night. Don't look too closely, but Monday's just around the corner!

SJS

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Goal

It occurred to me while walking into Barnes & Noble in Madison, WI this fine afternoon that I need a goal for this year. Something to motivate me. And what better idea to pop into my mind as I walk into a bookstore than to do something with books. Writing? Of course... but that's aside from this. Or rather, in addition to it.

This year, I will read 100 books and post about them on this blog.

I finished my first one last night. I'm excited about this prospect, and I'll definitely be writing more soon.

Keep watching! It'll get better, I Promise!

SJS

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Outlook

Here it is.

2010.

A stampede of science fiction tramples through my brain at the moment, but I’m leaving it alone to deal with reality. It’s snowy and cold outside, but my house is 72 degrees, there’s a roof over my head, food in my fridge, I have a wonderful husband and three awesome kids. I couldn’t be more blessed.

I’m weary of seeing the world through the typical eyes of “I’m not getting what I want”. This year, I’m attempting to see it through the eyes of “Thank God I’ve got what I’ve got!”

At 32 years old, there are things I know I want, but don’t know why I want them. There are places I want to go, but I’m not really sure what I’ll do if I ever get there. There are things I’m certain I want to experience, but am completely uncertain as to why. The overall theme is that I don’t really know what I want out of life.

And it doesn’t matter.

It’s not about what I want, it’s about what God wants for me. I want a baby more than almost anything in the world for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint other than the cliche of the biological clock. But I’m not pregnant after trying for over five years, and there’s got to be a reason for it that I don’t, and won’t, understand. So, I’ve just got to give it over.

I want desperately to have a best-selling book of some sort. I’ve written something new, something different, something I felt pressed to write. I’ve finished it, sent it in, and so far have been rejected from two publishers so far. I’m not giving up — I’m just giving it over.

This year, each day is going to have to be an attempt at giving it over. I can’t do anything myself — I can only do what God’s enabled me to do.

I’m ready. I’m willing. I’m open. I’m embracing the challenge.

I’m giving it over — to God. He’s bound to make a better life for me than I could’ve made for myself.

Happy New Year.