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Life List: 11-20 April 30, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life List.
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11.  Make a bouquet of fresh flowers once a week for a whole year
I saw this somewhere on the internet once.  Some lady had brought a fresh bouquet of flowers once a week for a year.  I LOVE flowers, and I would love an excuse to bring home little bouquets from the farmer’s market every weekend.  I also want to use this as a learning experience in the art of floral arrangement.

12.  Finish editing our wedding pictures and print books for my loved ones
John and I have been working on this project off and on, but life reared its ugly head and made us its kept-boy and we’ve essentially abandoned it.  I want to give these books as a gift to our friends and family at some point in the next year.

13.  Continue to diligently give 10% of my income to charity
Right now, John and I have been able to donate 10% of our combined income to charity.  It’s been fantastic to know that a little piece of our good fortune is being used to help others who may not be so fortunate.  I never want to lose this ability (or desire) to help those in need.

14.  Publish an article in a nationally syndicated magazine
After my internship at Arkansas Business Publishing Group, I’ve been pondering submitting some articles to national magazines in a pathetic attempt at a freelance career.  This article doesn’t have to be deep or award-winning, it just has to end up in print somewhere between the table of contents and the advertiser’s index.

15.  Get a massage
You know, I’ve never had one of these.  The idea itself sounds scrumptious.  This doesn’t have to be a one-time thing, of course; this just seems so much more relaxing than mani-pedis (which I cannot stand).

16.  Throw a tomato at the stage of the Globe theatre
So, back in the day when Shakespeare was still performing at the Globe, they would allow commoners to come in and watch the shows.  These peasants–after paying their penny admission–would stand right next to the stage, cheering and jeering their hearts out.  If the performance was great, they would encourage the actors to give their speeches again.  If not, they would throw rotten fruit and vegetables onto the stage.

17. Get in the habit of giving truly thoughtful gifts
Here’s another one of those sort of vague list additions.  I want to try and really THINK about what I give to people rather than just rushing out to the store and picking up the first thing that comes to mind.  This is more of a habit-changing sort of thing.

18.  Horseback ride through 4 national parks
I think this would be the best way to see national parks, myself.  I’d like to spend part of the time hiking and the rest trotting along horse-only trails.  The parks in question?  Yellowstone, Point Reyes, Great Smoky Mountains, and Glacier.

19.  Learn photography
Photography is one of John’s passions, and it’s something that I want to share with him.  Also, this seems like a safer bet for me than his OTHER passion–skiing.  Icky!  Anyway, ideally I’d like to get John a better camera and start to learn on his Rebel.

20.  Visit all of the places that John and I have been separately together
I agonized over the grammar of the above statement for a good two minutes before I stopped caring.  One of the huge personal (and ridiculous, now that I look back on it) issues that I brought into our dating relationship involved travel.  I was afraid that, because John was so well-traveled, that he would find going places with me to be boring and uninteresting. He was non-plussed about the whole thing,  of course.  Regardless, it will be nice to finally see the places we talk about so often.

My Life List: 1 – 10 April 29, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life List.

So, this is an experiment that I stole from the wonderful Maggie Mason.  She has created a list of 100 things she wants to do before she dies.  I read through her (pretty nifty) list and decided that I needed to make a list myself.  I like how there’s something definitive about a list, and I’m always motivated to do things on lists because I get a thrill out of checking items off.

The goal in making my list is twofold: I want to list huge, ultimate sort of goals, but I want to make sure that I intersperse them with some that are both reasonable and affordable.  Part of the reason for a list like this is to help one pursue one’s goals, and those don’t have to be monstrous.  Hopefully, as this list comes together, there will be a few items that I could theoretically knock out in a weekend.

Because I can’t be bothered to figure out 100 things all at once, I figured I’d introduce my first 10 “to do’s”:

1.  Dive 10 different locations
This was an choice.  John and I dove Cozumel last summer, and it was truly one of the MOST amazing experiences I’ve had.  The truth is, I’ve always been fascinated with the ocean, so diving was a dream come true.  I want to dive at least 10 different locales, including Tahiti, Fiji, Turks and Caicos, and Australia.

2. Make a couture prom dress for a young girl who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to the prom
Growing up, I could have easily fit into this category had my mother not had a really good job.  A product of a single parent household, there were more important things on our purchase list than a $300 dress.  I would love to find a hard-working young lady who needs a little help, and then hook her up with a fabulous, gorgeous, made-to-order one-of-a-kind Cinderella-story dress.  This, of course, begs #3 on the list, which is…

3.  Learn to make couture clothing
I’ve always been fascinated with clothing production.  In no way do I aspire to be a fashion designer, but I do want to learn to make well-fitting clothes that look professionally done for myself.

4. Be in the chorus of a community theatre production of Hairspray
I’m not delusional–I know that I can’t act.  However, I can sorta kinda sing, and I’m a quick study when picking up dance steps.  I cannot even begin to express how much I L-O-V-E Hairspray!  It’s the only production that I’ve ever wished I could be a part of.

5.  Create an original piece of art and hang it up in the house
I’m a crafty person, but it’s hard for me to come up with original ideas of my own.  I want to paint/decoupage/photoshop an original piece to help me delve my own creativity.  Afterwards, I want to proudly display my freshman effort to remind me that I am capable of creativity.

6.  Take a year’s worth of ballroom dancing lessons…

7.  and then compete in a beginner’s competition.
I love to compete, I just do.  Also, I love to dance.  This?  This seems like the perfect marriage of the two.  Also, maybe I’ll get to wear something deliciously trashy.

8.  Visit every state in the United States.
When I was little, I didn’t travel much.  Don’t get me wrong–the vacations we did take I loved.  What I love about our country (with no nod to politics) is the diversity that we have.  From north to south, east to west, each state boasts its own attractions.  I want to set foot (because, let’s be honest, I’m not going to take a week long vacation in North Dakota) in each one.

9.  Own a competition dog
I had to phrase this a little oddly, but hear me out.  I want to have a dog that can do something extraordinary, and there are so many options!  Flyball, agility, herding, retrieving, long jump… I don’t care what it is, I just want to have a dog that I can have a real working bond with.

10.  Read the Bible cover to cover
This is actually something that really bothers me.  I’m strong in my faith, but I have yet to read every single page, Genesis to Revelation.  I hope to do one of those “Read the Bible in a Year” programs.  Though this isn’t the literal #1 on this list, it’s (so far) the figurative one.

What about you?  What are the top 100 things you want to do in your life?

I’m Lovin’: TED April 23, 2009

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Internets, I am in love with TED.  I told John last night, and he took it suprisingly well.  Turns out, he would leave me for TED, too.  Actually, John technically has dibs–he did find TED first.

TED is a system of conferences (parented by a non-profit organization) that discusses technology, entertainment, and design (get it? GET IT?).  Their slogan is “ideas worth spreading,” and they certainly don’t disappoint.  The premise is this: every year, TED hosts conferences around the world that boast the leading thinkers of our time.  Their challenge?  Give the speech of their lives in 18 minutes or less.

The speakers come from all different backgrounds, and their presentations are always spectacular. TED’s website posts videos of their conference speakers–one a day, five days a week–which you can watch free of charge.  They also offer an iPhone application, in case you need a TED fix on the go.

What’s so amazing about TED is how inspirational and varied their talks are.  As a creative who is constantly in search of inspiration, TED has been an invaluable pool of motivation.  The speakers are both passionate and inspiring.  Additionally, each conference they award three TED Prizes.  Not only do these people have the opportunity to present their “One Wish to Change the World” at TED, they receive $100,000 to make that wish a reality.  How cool is that?

Watch a few videos: I’m sure you’ll be hooked.

And holycrap! April 9, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet.
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And THIS GUY spent the WHOLE FRIGGIN’ RIDE MASSAGING HIS BALL SACK. What is WRONG with these people?!?

Oh my Goodness April 9, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet.
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So I can’t say I talked to this guy, but he stared at me a disconcerting amount during the bus ride home.

BookLust: The Vagina Monologues April 7, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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Okay, so I admit, this isn’t technically a book.  However, it is literature, so I’m reviewing it anyway.

Chant with me now...

Chant with me now...

For those of you who are not familiar with the play, it was first produced in the late 90s. The monologues Ensler writes are either a) transcriptions of or b) inspired by interviews Ensler conducted with “hundreds” of women.  The result?  A piece of shock theatre meant to empower anyone with a va-jay-jay.  The Vagina Monologues have been performed across the nation since its inception, and has boasted celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Nagimi, Gloria Steinem, and Melissa Joan Hart (i.e. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) in its playbill.

On to the review.  First, let’s begin with what this piece does right.  Throughout the monologues, Ensler fights to reclaim language that she believes has been taken away from women.  For Ensler, “cunt,” “vagina,” “vulva,” and “clitoris” should not be dirty words.  I agree: it’s pretty undeniable that body-specific language has been labelled “improper” in society today, except in doctors’ offices.  The male counterparts–“dick,” “cock,” “penis”–are more widely accepted, Ensler’s argument continues.  I think that this part of her motivation for writing The Vagina Monologues is laudable.  Women should have a right to, and be comfortable using, language that describes their own bodies.  We shouldn’t be satisfied with cute little euphemisms; I, like Ensler, think there is a legitimate position to be had in reclaiming wholly female vocabulary from where it was shelved by patriarchal structures long ago.

Having said that, Ensler’s piece is designed to be shock theatre.  Clinically specific terms are bandied about in almost every monologue, and at one point the audience is asked to chant “cunt” with the speaker.  Fine, okay.  I’ll grant Ensler her methodology here.  Did I find it shocking?  Not really; at least, not as a reader.  Perhaps in production it has more sway.

Also, Ensler draws a very disturbing parallel between selfhood and the body.  In multiple monologues (like “The Vagina Workshop”) Ensler equates understanding oneself with understanding one’s body.  To me, this seems regressive.  In race studies, academics balk at the idea that race is innately tied to the body, that somehow because one’s skin is a certain color his/her body must be corrupt.  In other words, it grates me that she would rely on such a basic and stereotypical method to convey the self-worth of women.  Yes, okay, I should be comfortable being a woman, but I am not my clitoris, thank you.

Equally disturbing is Ensler’s double-speak on where men come into this role of self-definition.  In her opening monologue, Ensler features a woman who has been bullied by her husband to shave her vagina.  Here, Ensler makes the case that a woman’s body should never be controlled, or altered, by or for men.  However, in a later monologue, a woman is only able to come to terms with her body through a man–one who violates all of her personal boundaries in a poorly disguised rape which just happens to turn out fine in the end.  Women, whether positively or negatively, seem to be intrinsically linked to the perceptions of man.  Ensler can argue against that all she wants, but the structure of her monologues keep harkening back to this interrelation.

Contradictions like these are what makes The Vagina Monologues so scary.  The play is being canonized as a quintessential piece of feminist theatre.  There is a real danger in this is that The Vagina Monologues only represent one brand of feminism.  To use it as the flagship feminist drama of the 21st century is intensely problematic; for someone to think that reading this play automatically equates to an understanding of the feminist dialectic is not only wrong but teeters on the verge of misinformation.

Having said all of this, I can say that the play reads quickly, and is understandable.  It just didn’t live up to its hype.

3 bookmarks:  worth reading once, but not a life-changing experience as advertised.

That’ll Show Me for Thinking I Made Progress April 5, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in From the Kitchen, Life.
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So, I sort of filled my apartment with smoke the other day.

I mean, nothing actually CAUGHT FIRE or anything, which is more than I can say for the neighbors (or my toaster).  However, in my endeavours to make a delicious apple tart, there were some…issues.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?  I recently received a KitchenAid stand mixer, which is amazing and wonderful and everything it’s cracked up to be.  Anyway, this mixer came complete with a recipe book.  I let John look through it, and he immediately picked a completely intimidating dessert–an apple tart.  This tart involved lots of apples, some sort of streusel topping, and a pie crust.  Scary!

Anyway, one lazy afternoon I decided what the heck?  How bad could this possibly go? I’ll just whip me up an apple tart! Within five minutes I had already sliced open my finger trying to core an apple. Right then I should have known this would end badly. In the prep process, things were unsteady:

1. I cut my finger, and
2. Subsequently bled on an apple
3. I forgot to soften the butter for the strusel and had to put the whole concoction in the microwave so I could mix it
4. I broke my apple slicer, only to spend 15 minutes realizing it wasn’t broken at all but could easily be fixed by John in .5 seconds
5. I cut too many apples, so I had to eat the rest myownself

After much ado, the tart finally went in the oven. I set the timer and prepared my tastebuds for a magical carpet ride of apple-y goodness. About five minutes into the cooking process I peeked in the oven and noticed something that looked wet on the cookie sheet. I figured it was just something I splashed on there, so I continued on my merry little way.

Ten minutes later something smelled funny. I sniffed the air, thinking that it was our neighbors again setting something on fire. I glance at the stove and notice that there is SMOKE. SMOKE coming out of a BURNER. I rush over to the kitchen (5 giant steps!) and pull open the oven door. Plumes of smoke as thick as concrete come pouring out of the oven and into our small one-bedroom apartment.

In a panic I pull out the tart and stick it on the stovetop and then slam the oven door shut. John has already noticed and has opened up the windows. I prop open the door as he begins to fan our smoke detectors and actually have to place a small oscillating fan in the doorway to help clear the air.

This is what I would call a baking FAIL. But hey, at least the thing didn’t burst into flames. Right?

Links Fixed April 3, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Uncategorized.
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All the links are now active (for real) in the J. Crew post.  Oh, and I’m taking my chest hair back, thankyouverymuch.

I’m Lovin’: J. Crew April 2, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Lovin'.
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So I was reading an article on abcnews.com earlier today, and I noticed that it mentioned that much of Michelle Obama’s wardrobe comes from J.Crew.  Now, I must admit, I’ve never set foot in a J.Crew.  The most I know about the store is that it offers affordable wedding dress alternatives–much like Target–but nothing more about its actual clothing line.  In an effort to learn more (and avoid work), I decided to browse through its website.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Internets, I am in LOVE.

J. Crew strikes me as Banana Republic’s casual little brother.  Their clothes are attractive but not restrictive, and their style screams “I’m so trendy that I can be both fashion-forward and comfortable.”   The website won’t let me download pictures.

[Edit:  WordPress won’t let me imbed links for some reason.  Darn you, WordPress!  Darn you to heck!]

[Edit Again: HAHA, I just CODED that crap in HTML all by myself! I think I just grew a chest hair, I feel so accomplished.]

For example, check out this outfit:  Shell Shirt Comfy chic!

Or this skirt: Pleated Button Skirt. I want to wear this with a pair of skimmers and a white tank top. You could also pair this with a blazer and dress it up.

But what I really love–I mean, would sell an ovary for–is this: Rose Dress Oh my God, if I had lots of money, this would be my Easter dress. And my theatre dress. And my wedding-attendee dress. FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE (or at least until winter)!

And then?  Then I would sell my other ovary for this: Blue Sophia Dress Again, the beauty is in the simplicity. Oh, and the wicked color options.

If you find something you like, J. Crew is now offering a 30% off your total purchase promo. Check out their sale page to redeem.