hymnia: (Flail)
So, I want to keep up with the writing 500+ words per day thing, but today has just defeated me. The Mad Science labs are fun, but they are REALLY exhausting. And then I get home and you know what? My Facebook feed is even more exhausting. I hate, hate, HATE the way it refreshes itself at the drop of a hat, and suddenly the posts are in a completely different order. I just can't keep up. And I have way too many groups and fan pages "Liked" and so my feed is already overwhelming to begin with. But darn it, I enjoy those pages and I don't want to un-like them. :/ I just wish my feed were stable like LiveJournal's, so I could get through it in more than one sitting--and without seeing duplications of the same post. Something has got to give here. I don't know if it's that I just need to give up Facebook cold turkey for a while, or if it's that I have to somehow FORCE myself to quit reading my feed after a reasonable amount of time (an hour, for example), even if I haven't read all the new posts, and just hope I don't miss anything important, or if I need to figure out some things to cut to clean up my feed. One way or another, I can't keep doing these marathon Facebook sessions. It's driving me nuts.

And I'm afraid that's all I have for today. I am just too tired to write more than that. I'll try to write extra tomorrow to make up for it. I have an easier schedule tomorrow--no Mad Science, just a couple of math tutoring clients.

hymnia: (Sleeping fairy)
I have one more post to make on media consumption for the time being. I've been listening to the Middle Earth saga on tape. (And yes, I'm literally listening to cassette tapes. They really are the best way to listen to audio books.) I finished The Hobbit a week or two ago. Serendipitously, Mark Oshiro (of Mark Reads and Mark Watches) started reading The Hobbit shortly after I finished, so I'm enjoying reading his posts with the story still very fresh in my mind. It really is a series of little adventures along the way of a long journey, and there were a lot of twists and turns in the plot that I'd forgotten about.

Now I'm on The Fellowship of the Ring, and I swear, I almost forgot how good this story is. I love, love, love the characters so much, especially Frodo, Sam, and Aragorn. I was (and am) a big fan of the films, and so the visual representations from the films—from the set designs to the actors—are firmly fixed in my mind, probably more so than for any other book-film combo I've enjoyed, even Harry Potter. It's too bad that the section with the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and the Barrow Wights wouldn't fit in the film. I don't blame Peter Jackson in the least for cutting it, but it would really have been nice to have seen those things come to life on film as well, especially Tom and Goldberry.

To fill the gap, I've picked actors to represent the missing roles of Tom and Goldberry.

Cut for pictures )

Who would you cast to play Tom and Goldberry?

In other news, I went to church today at Bethany Community Church for the second time (the first was in October, before I got sick), and I think I'm going to stick with this church. The sermon was on the relationship between science and faith, and the way the pastor approached the topic made me feel I could be comfortable with this church. It was a good sign when he opened with this quote from St. Augustine:

If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? (Follow the link for the full quote.)

BCC has a Thursday night “Early Career” group that I'm going to try to go to this week. Here's hoping I can make some friends there!

hymnia: (Shuurei in wind)
All right, now I'm ready to write about the books I'm currently reading. I have a tendency to jump around between several different books at the same time instead of reading just one, so all of the below are books that I'm still in progress on reading:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I like the narrative voice in this story. I think Chobsky does a good job of capturing the essence of a certain type of introvert—an INFP, if I were to classify him by the Meyers-Briggs standard. (This is also, incidentally, my own personality type. I think it's fair to say I identify with the narrator quite a bit.) I'll be interested to see how the film adaptation, starring Emma Watson as Sam, the narrator's love interest/crush, turns out. My only complaint is that it does tend to fall into the tendency of a lot of slice-of-life stories about adolescence of being hyper-focused on sexuality and drugs. Yes, those things are parts of adolescence, but there is so much more. My favorite moments are when the book focuses on the other things, like the narrator's feelings about his extended family, especially his deceased aunt, or the extra books that his favorite teacher assigns him to read and write essays on. The parts that are about sex and drugs are kinda boring in comparison to the rest. I wish the ratio was a little more balanced. I may be biased because my own adolescent experiences—and even the experiences of many of my close friends, at least as far as I knew—were less characterized by those things than what you usually see portrayed in media.

  • Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig - If you have me freinded on Facebook, you've probably seen me post at least one link on the topic of corruption/corporate money in politics and/or at least one link to a presentation by Larry Lessig, either on this topic or on copyright law. Anyway, this book is Lessig's latest, and it is about how Congress has been corrupted by a dependency on campaign funders, rather than remaining dependent “on the people alone”, as the founders intended. It is an excellent book. I agree whole-heartedly that this problem is the “root” of the majority of bad policy that the US Congress has produced in the last several decades, including the decisions that led to the current financial crisis. I used to think campaign finance reform was just another issue, probably a good idea, but not any more important than any other issue. I now believe it is absolutely essential in order to restore the republic of the USA back to what it was meant to be—a republic dependent on the people, and not the funders. I urge every US voter to learn as much as they can about this issue. This is a good place to start: http://rootstrikers.org/ Also, I've linked several versions of Lessig's presentations on Facebook, but the one below is of his talk at Seattle's Town Hall, which I went to see a couple of weeks ago (and where I also got my book signed). I felt like it was a good remix of his best material. I know it's long, but Lessig is a very entertaining speaker, and this is an EXTERMELY IMPORTANT MESSAGE. So please take the time to watch it:

  • Lady in Waiting by Debby Jones & Jackie Kendall - This is a Christian book that addresses the struggles of single Christian women. It is a bit dated, and some of the advice feels a little stale to a 30-something woman who has read lots of similar books in the past. But overall, I've enjoyed reading it and felt encouraged by its message of living for God and serving him now rather than waiting for some fairy tale happy ending, as if life only starts once you're married.

  • Christian Universalism: God's Good News for All People by Eric Stetson - This is the third book on the topic of Christian universalism that I've read now. The first, The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbot was the most convincing, IMO. This one uses a lot of similar arguments, and seems to be a bit more confrontational against those who hold a more traditional view of God's judgement. I like Talbot's book for being more gentle toward opposing viewpoints. Anyway, I'm not 100% sure what I think about Christian universalism. I lean toward thinking that Biblical teaching on what happens to human beings after death is sufficiently ambiguous that no one ought to be too dogmatic about it; I think the Christian universalist view (which is NOT the same as pluralistic universalism, BTW) is a reasonable one, and I think it does a better job of reconciling seemingly conflicting Bible verses on salvation and the sovereignty of God than traditional views such as Calvinism and Armenianism. I don't think we can deny that people will face God's judgement after death, but what exactly that judgement entails is open to interpretation.

  • A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower by Kenneth G. Henshall – This is a book I picked up at the library recently because I wanted to read a general history of Japan. I haven't read very much of it yet, though, so I don't yet have much to say about it.

*yawn* For some reason I'm really tired tonight, even though I had a pretty easy day and took a nap this afternoon. I'm glad to be going to bed a little bit earlier than usual tonight. (And yes, 11-ish is pretty early for me!)

hymnia: (Veronica - Que?)
Well, technically November 4th is over, since it's after midnight. But I'm still counting this as my 500+ words for 11/4. I needed to spend what would have been my writing time this evening cleaning up my desk a bit. Now I feel much better knowing that, while I still have a lot of little odds and ends to work on, at least it's organized.

I don't feel like writing about real life today (it wasn't that eventful, anyway), so I'm going to instead turn to the various media I've been reading/watching. Late post is late, so bullet points again:

  • Glee – I enjoyed seeing more of Mike Chang on the “Asian F” episode, and I'm also a fan of Tamlyn Tomita, so I was glad to see her as Mike's mom. The new episode this week was kind of “meh”. The new character could be interesting, but I wasn't especially impressed with him so far.

  • Revenge – I mainly just tuned into this because it has Emily VanCamp, whom I liked when she was on Everwood a few years ago. It's not the sort of thing I normally go far, but I admit I'm kind of hooked on it nonetheless. I vacillate between finding it has interesting commentary on human nature and suspecting it's just an overblown soap opera. I may or may not stick with it for the long haul. It bothers me that the brainy Mark Zuckerberg/Bill Gates-type character seems like the most sympathetic and likeable character on the show to me, and yet all the other characters treat him like he's Obnoxiousness Personified—including the beautiful-but-troubled protagonist and the earthy-but-charming guy from the wrong side of the tracks who has a crush on her. It's almost as if the writers assume that everyone in their audience will automatically consider him annoying because he's a geek, regardless of how he actually behaves on the show. They're breaking the rule of “show; don't tell” (even though that's less easy to do in TV/film than in books). Anyway, it's a minor annoyance so far, but it suggests to me that I, a person who tends to find geeks endearing rather than annoying, am probably not the right audience for this show. And if that's true, it's kind of a shame, because the show has a pretty decent hook, and much of the setup is similar to the brilliant and very geek-friendly Veronica Mars. Alas, I fear the show will not manage to reach that level of brilliance.

  • Guilty Crown – This show appears poised to be the next “IT” anime, with its post-apocalyptic action plot, a sexy and ethereal schoolgirl with mysterious powers, and creators who have well-known credits like Death Note (which I loved) and Code Geass (which I just couldn't get into). I like it well enough, but so far it just feels like a re-hash of other anime; I haven't yet found anything to LOVE about it. We'll see.

  • I'm also still watching Doctor Who, although as all you Who fans know, it's on hiatus for the time being. I've decided to go back and watch some Classic Who in the meantime, based on the suggestions in a recent post at [livejournal.com profile] doctorwho. I'm currently halfway through “City of Death”, a tale of the Fourth Doctor and Romana in Paris that was written by a writing team that included Douglas Adams. I will be the first to admit that some of Classic Who is a bit boring, but this one is an absolute GEM—wonderful antics from Tom Baker, great chemistry between him and the actress who plays Romana, and a clever script all around. I highly recommend it to any NuWho fan who wants to check out some of the Classic series.

I'll stop there for now, as I need to get some sleep. I meant to talk about books I'm reading, too, but I will have to save it for another post.

hymnia: (Sleeping Fairy)
Thanks to all who responded to my entry last night, either here or on the Facebook link. Even though LJ has slowed down in recent years, it's nice to know that many of you are still reading. <3

I'm starting this entry rather late at night, and I don't feel I have as much of a theme to expound on as I did yesterday or the day before, so I'm going to indulge in the bullet point mode of updating.

  • My Mad Science class went well. The kids were enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy it. They got a little rowdy at times, but not to the point of being disruptive or anything. I decided on the name “Jingle Joie”, a slight modification of my friend [profile] springdove's suggestion. (Sound waves are science-y, after all.)

  • Mom is fine today. She has an appointment with a cardiologist in a couple of weeks, but right now we're all leaning toward thinking it was just stress (and possibly an oncoming cold).

  • Speaking of which, my poor Dad has definitely caught the cold. :( Poor guy was exhausted and coughing a fair bit tonight. I hope it doesn't last as long for him as it did for me.

  • Kaedmon is staying with us again tonight. I have to say I've really been enjoying spending time with him lately. He can be very strong-willed and difficult at times. We used to butt heads a lot and sometimes still do. But lately there are more moments when he is spontaneously sweet and affectionate. And there are some things that I used to get after him about that he is now being more cooperative on. He's also so creative and loves to talk to people about all the wonderful things in his little head. It's fun just to watch him play sometimes. His style of playing pretend with his toys reminds me a lot of the kid in the Toy Story movies. He really breathes life into those toys, you know? He's going to turn five in less than a month now.

  • I raved on my nephew, so I have to add that my niece Anya is adorable as well. Lately one of her favorite things to do is puzzles. Of course, I love puzzles, too, so we spend a lot of time building puzzles together when she is over here. At two and a half, she is just starting to get to a point where she can build puzzles that are challenging enough that I have to think about them a little bit, too—at least enough to enjoy building them with her. Last Thanksgiving when we were in Albuquerque with Kaedmon, Nana (my grandmother) bought him this book that contains several really gorgeous puzzles of animals from each of the different continents. Anyway, Kaedmon's interest in the book is only mild, but Anya loves the book, and I have to say, I love it, too. I really enjoy building and re-building these puzzles with her.

  • Right now I'm a bit perplexed that my browser has way too many tabs open. I usually keep my browser much “neater” than this, so it's bothering me. I also have a very messy desk. This is all the result, of course, of being too sick to do much of anything for a week and then suddenly having a very busy schedule right as I started to get my energy back. Tomorrow I have a little more free time in my schedule, so hopefully I can put a good dent in cleaning up both my browser and my desk, not to mention a few long-procrastinated chores.

I don't intend for all of my NaNoJouMo writing to be about “real life”, and I have other topics in mind, from fannish to political to religious to philosophical. But who knows which will spill out of my brain first?

hymnia: (Kushina)
I've been sick with a cold the last week or so, and it's turned into a persistent, hacking cough. I started to turn a corner yesterday, but the cough's still pretty bad. It's been keeping both me and my parents awake at night, so they, er, strongly encouraged me to see the doctor and now I'm on special cough syrup and an inhaler. I have to admit, the medicine(s) have helped immensely.

Anyway, because of the illness I've been staying in and resting much more than usual. (Even without a job, I usually find plenty of reasons to go out and about, but not so much this week.) But yesterday I was thinking it's time to get back to life, at least a little bit. Well, today life decided to get back to me.

First, I had the job interview for Mad Science, which is an organization that does science lessons/labs/demos for elementary school kids. They run a number of different programs in this vein, but the job I interviewed for was to go to local elementary schools to run after school programs in six-week courses. Anyway, I went in and talked to them a while and it sounded like a great program, and they seemed eager to hire me. As it turns out, they had more schools than usual sign up for their fall program, and they were understaffed. I had submitted my application a while back and they had kept it on file because they didn't need me at the time, but recognized that I had the right skills and experience for the job.

Then they emailed me last week because now they have an urgent need—so urgent, in fact, that they wanted me to start TOMORROW. 0_o I didn't really feel ready for that, because this cough is still hanging on and my vocal chords are not in the best shape to be orating science concepts to grade schoolers. But it's too good an opportunity to pass up, and they were very persuasive. So I agreed to do it on the spot, and they got me right in on training. I spent the day learning more about the program, and looking at some of the lab kits with one of the other teachers, and then I went with her to observe her doing a lesson—the same one I will teach tomorrow at another school.

All the Mad Scientists have a nickname, and so they told me to think of what I would like to be called. They are usually either rhyming or alliterative. And so, a poll:

[Poll #1792153]

It was a LONG day. The training itself wasn't too bad, but the fact that I locked my keys in my car (I swear I have NEVER done that before) meant I had to go a bit out of my way riding with the other teacher to the school. (In the meantime, my wonderful mother drove to the Mad Science office to rescue my keys from my car and leave them at the office for me to pick up when we got back.) Then I had to go straight to an appointment with one of my private tutoring clients, and she needed more help than usual with an especially difficult assignment, so I spent extra time with her. I got home at close to 7:00.

Then, when I got home, my mom casually mentioned that she was having some sort of chest pain this evening. I was like, “Mom, what are you thinking?!” I made her call the nurse hotline, and of course the nurse told her to call 911. So she and my Dad spent the rest of the evening in the ER. The EKG was normal, but they felt, all things considered, that she needed to see a cardiologist soon and make sure there were no issues. I doubt anything is seriously wrong, but due to family history and a number of other reasons, I think she definitely needs to get checked out.

While my parents were at the ER, I got to spend the evening with Kaedmon, who was over here to have a “pajama party” with us while his sister went on a “date” with her daddy and Vanessa got some quiet time to write and relax. I probably let him watch a little more TV than I really should have, but I needed to go over my lesson plans for tomorrow, so...it is what it is.

Anyway, it was an eventful, somewhat stressful day, but on the whole, I felt good about it. I certainly didn't feel “adrift” today, and I'm glad to have my connections to my family and to my new life in Seattle reinforced in a number of ways. Even the challenging moments had perks to them—like, for example, even though my mom had to get picked up by an ambulance, the ambulance came fully equipped with friendly and handsome firefighter/EMTs. My mom and I both enjoyed the view. XD (As did Kaedmon, who loved the big trucks with flashing lights.)

There were some lovely, peaceful moments, too, like when I was driving on the bridge over Lake Washington and enjoying the view of the bright autumn colors of the treeline against the blue water on one side and white sky on the other.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

~ e.e. cummings

I'm thankful.

hymnia: (Wings)
So it's November, and as most of you probably know, November is a month that many people on LJ, DW, etc. focus on WRITING. Now, I am not an aspiring novelist, so I've never been tempted to do NaNoWriMo, but I do consider myself a writer of sorts, and I enjoy writing, especially on the occasion that I manage to write something really good (which does happen from time to time, believe it or not). So when I heard that this month has also been dubbed by some (who knows who started it?) as NaNoJouMo, or National Non-Stop Journaling Month, I thought—why not give it a try?

So I'm setting myself a goal of writing at least 500 words per day this month. Most of the time, I will probably go ahead and post my writing here on my journal(s), but I reserve the right to keep some of it private, if I choose.

I suppose the easiest way to start is to give a “real life” update, which I haven't done in quite a while. And it's been a pretty momentous while. In August my parents and I moved all the way across the country from Florida to Washington (north Seattle area). I left behind a job that I was very fond of—but admittedly getting a bit burned out at (or at least, I'd been there six years and had a sense that it was time for a change of scene). I also left behind some very, VERY dear friends and I church I've attended and been deeply involved with for most of the last 18 years.

Obviously, I miss those things, but I felt like a change was needed in my life. When my parents decided to move, following my brother and his family (read: the grandkids), I had a choice between one big change or another. Either I could decide to separate from my family and live apart from them—whether alone or with roommates) and keep my job and my social life in Florida, or I could stay with my family and strike out in a new place and look for a new job, and maybe even a new career. Both choices had potential challenges, and either way could have offered new opportunities for success, failure, character-building, etc.

I wish I could say with confidence that I made the right choice, but the truth is, I'm not sure. Maybe I'm being self-conscious, but I suspect a lot of people would think that the right choice for a 30-something woman would be to let her family go their own way, and stick to the career and social life she has established. Instead, I chose to stay with my family—at least for now—and try to strike out in a new city, and establish new routines and friendships and sources of income. And as some of you may remember from a previous post, part of my plan was to study Japanese while I am here with the long-term goal of eventually going to Japan. I still have that in mind, but it's become clear to me that it's going to be harder than I anticipated, and it could be a few more years before it happens. And that was a big part of my justification for choosing the way I did. So now there's this little voice in the back of my head that says, “What the heck are you really doing here, Joie?” Especially whenever I have to borrow more money from my parents. :/

Speaking of which....yeah. I just had no idea, ya'll. Every other time in my life I've been out of work, I applied for maybe 5-10 jobs, got one interview, and was hired on the spot. I had NO IDEA that it would be this hard to get a job right now. I mean, I read the news, and I knew unemployment was high, but it's different when you're living it, you know? I have made some progress, though. I have a part-time tutoring job lined up that starts in January, and I've managed to line up a couple of individual tutoring clients. So I'm not completely without income. It doesn't cover the bills yet, but I'm hopeful that it will soon, if I can get a few more tutoring clients and maybe another part-time gig. (I'm interviewing for another one tomorrow, which could be REALLY COOL. I'll post more details if I get the job.) I've also gone through almost all of the hoops for starting an online teacher prep program so I can get certified to teach in public schools.

But in the meantime, my sense of purpose is a bit murky. I'm sure there are some benefits to going through a time like this, a time to re-examine priorities and such. But...right now, it's a little daunting.

I should add the news we learned a couple weeks ago that my sister-in-law has colon cancer and is going to need life-changing surgery to treat it. She has a strong family history for this type of cancer, and has known for years that she was likely to get it, so it's not a total shock. It's also likely (although we still don't know for sure) that they caught it in plenty of time for a good outlook. Still. She is 30 years old, she's going to need at least two major surgeries, and she (probably) will soon confirm that she has a genetic condition that has a fairly high chance of affecting her siblings and her children as well.

Many friends of our family have said that it seems providential that my parents ended up moving here, because it puts them in a position to help her out at a time when she really needs it. And I am thankful for that. But...I'm not sure what my role here is. I mean, I help out with the kids sometimes, I suppose. But I don't know that I'm really needed. That's probably a silly and childish response. I don't know. I try to imagine how I would feel about it if I were in Florida still. I guess I'd be frustrated that I couldn't do anything for her or Mark or the kids. But...I'd be satisfied knowing my parents were there and they didn't really lack help.

I suppose there are a lot of things acting together—lack of a consistent job/income, few local friends so far, the doubt surrounding my desire to go to Japan, my uncertainty about what role I can play in helping my family in a difficult time (especially when it seems like I tend to take more than I give), and my perpetual, often unspoken, sorrow that I am still single and childless myself—that all add up to a feeling of being aimless and adrift.

My inner optimist is telling me that a time like this can be a great opportunity, that sometimes you need this kind of thing to shake you up and make you walk a new and better path. I want to believe that. But my inner pragmatist wants to know: How do I do that?


Manually X-Posted to Livejournal and Facebook.


hymnia: (Default)

June 2013

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