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Reverb10 December 22, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Reverb10.
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December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

This is a really interesting question.  Getting married has taught me a lot about how I’m unique.  I know that sounds strange, but follow me for a moment: when you’re dating, you think about all the ways you are like another person.  For example, maybe you’re like “Oh, he likes to rock climb too?  Match made in heaven!” or “I can’t believe that he also dips his bread in milk!”  But once you’re married—or in a very long term, monogamous, committed relationship—your differences become apparent.  Suddenly you start saying things like, “Why does he sort laundry like that, doesn’t he know that’s wrong,” and “Do we have to watch Police Academy again?  We did that last week!  How about a romantic comedy…wait?!  Where are you going?!”

Point is, there’s nothing like living with another person to help you realize how different you are.  It’s really not a bad thing; as the prompt so aptly says, different is beautiful.  However, for the purposes of answering this prompt I’m going to switch the word “different” to “unique”—it will help me talk about that “lighting people up” bit.

EDIT:  I wrote a few paragraphs, and decided that this would work better in list form.  Buckle up.

  • I’m an English major, but I’m not all hoity-toity about the stuff I read.  I hate it when people dislike books just because they’re popular.
  • I’m a homebody.  I like to travel, but not too much.
  • I have a hard time controlling myself when presented with the following foods: watermelon, Cadbury eggs, chocolate covered cherries, flour tortillas, orange Tic-Tacs, hushpuppies, lemon bars, blackberries, French fries, squash, and bread.
  • I’m perpetually cold.  It’s very hard for me to be overly hot
  • I will kill someone for opening something that belongs to me.  Like, if I buy a DVD, I’d BETTER be the one that takes off the cellophane wrapper.  After that, I can be the 50th person to use the damn thing, but I’d better be the first to open it.
  • I’m multiracial, which gives me quite a few interesting characteristics and perspectives.  For example, I’ve got all of the fiery temper from my Latin side, but I’m outdoorsy like my Mom’s family.
  • Things I’m good at:  learning, leading, teaching, joking, relaxing, reading, writing.
  • Things I want to be good at:  listening, praying, seeking, being, cooking, building, creating, photographing, compromising, loving.
  • Things I will never be good at:  calculating, exercising, coordinating (my body!), pushing, feeling, failing, quitting, wasting, sentimentalizing
  • I’m not afraid to voice my opinions.  I’ll tell you what I think, every time.
  • I can do anything I put my mind to, not because I’m talented, but because I’m stubborn.
  • I’m Mexican but I hate spicy food.  Loathe and detest it, actually.
  • I am very, very religious, but sometimes I find it difficult to identify with my religion.
  • I don’t like women very much.  I’d much rather be friends with men.
  • I have a very strong sense of right and wrong, but that doesn’t make me immovable.  I’m willing to compromise and bend on certain issues, and I understand that the world is not black and white.
  • I love to read, but I want to write for a living.  That would definitely be my dream job.
  • I have a very hard time telling my dreams from reality.  I have hyper-vivid dreams, and often I’ll wake up and not realize that what happened (in said dream event) was not real.
  • My husband is my favorite person to hang out with, and I rarely get tired of him.
  • I can waste hours on the Internet.
  • I will yell at sporting events, television shows, and animals.  I will never yell to win an argument.
  • I love horses.  I also love sharks.  I wanted to be a marine biologist as a kid, but that never worked out.
  • When I get really mad at someone…I mean, like, pop-my-top angry, I picture myself beating the crap out of said person.  It always makes me feel better.
  • Writing things down motivates me.
  • I can learn anything—well, I’ve got a perfect record so far, anyway—from a book.  Cooking techniques, crochet, sewing, Photoshop, you name it.  If the instructions are well-written, I’m golden.
  • I have terrible allergies.  My brother once told me that when he sees a Kleenex box, he thinks of me.  He wasn’t kidding.

 

December 9 – Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

I don’t really go to parties.  I’d have to say the most important one I went to was my dear friend Grant’s wedding in Kansas.  We almost missed the whole thing (I got the time wrong, John got the location wrong), but we were there, and it was wonderful.

 

December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

Pssssht.  Wise decisions?  What the heck are those?

It’s a lot easier for me to pick out all of the UNWISE decisions I made, but I guess that’s not quite what the prompt is asking.  Let’s see…I guess it would have to be continuing for my Ph.D, though to be fair, I only feel like that was a good decision 70% of the time.

The thing is, even with grade disputes, crappy students, and long hours, I love teaching.  I enjoy learning, and I love school.  For the first time since starting graduate school, I feel like I’ve learned enough to really be valuable in a classroom.  I love the new and changing challenges.  But the best thing is that they PAY me to read, write, and talk ALL DAY LONG.

December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

Looks like today’s series of posts will be somewhat of a listography.  Let’s see—what 11 things should I get rid of in 2011.

Daily Websites
If I check all the websites I like that update daily, I can spend 2+ hours just poking around the internet.  It’s so easy; one site has a link to another that you follow to another and before you know it, BOOM.  Afternoon gone.  I think I could easily become addicted to the Internet in a bad way, and I need to seriously cut down on my browsing time.

Bad-For-You Food
My schedule this year made it almost impossible for me to keep a really healthy diet.  Being gone from the house three nights a week made it hard to cook, so we would heat up something from the freezer section of Walmart or grab take-out.  Though there are healthy options in both of those categories, John and I are notoriously picky eaters.   This severely limits our options and often ends with us eating stuff we shouldn’t.  I want to cook more, and cook healthier when I do.

Debt
Like most college students, I racked up student loans while in school.  Right now, John and I are slated to pay them all off by December of next year.  There’s nothing I want to be more than debt free!  That way, we can begin working our way towards saving for a house of our very own.

Critical Judgment (but not Critical Thinking)
I’m very judgmental, and sometimes that really complicates my relationships.  That doesn’t mean that I judge everything everyone does.  I’m actually very cautious about that, and I go out of my way to be as open-minded as possible.  However, it’s easy for me to criticize people I don’t know that well (like people I see in supermarkets, etc.),  and I know that comes off as cruel even though I think I’m just being observant.  It’s time to police myself better.

Less Control, More Spontaneity
I’m a control freak, and that keeps John and I from doing fun things sometimes because I’m more tied to what we should be doing than what we want to be doing.  I want to lose a little control and be a little more irresponsible if that means I have more fun.

Back Pain
I’ve earned my MA, but I’ve also found back pain in graduate school.  Lots of reading + lots of sitting + lots of hunching when grading papers = throwing my upper back out once a semester.  It’s incredibly painful.  I’ve found that yoga and Pilates keep it in check, but it’s so hard to work aerobics classes into my schedule that they often fall by the wayside.  I really want to recommit myself to healthy living, and that means managing pain through exercise.

Allergies
I’ve always had bad allergies, but they’ve gotten progressively worse since living in Arkansas.  I’m on daily medication, and even that doesn’t manage them sometimes.  It’s gotten to the point where my allergies affect my quality of life, and it’s time to get shots (as much as I dread them).  I want to be healthy AND happy, and getting sinus infections from pollen doesn’t fit that model.

Stuff
I hate clutter.  I mean, I HATE clutter.  I want to go through our house and get rid of everything that’s just taking up space.

Birth Control
Okay, I know this counts as overshare, but stick with me.  (You can even skip this one if you want to!)  I’m not trying to have a baby—GOD NO.  I don’t even like kids.  But I hate The Pill.  I want to switch over to an IUD, and stop worrying about the burden of pregnancy and contraceptive.

Commitments
I mentioned in an earlier Reverb10 that I stretched myself waaaay too thin over the past 8 months.  No more!  I don’t need any more commitments in my life than I have right now.  In 2011, I want to say NO to more responsibilities and YES to reclaiming my free time—and my life.


The Brown Desk
This is sort of silly, but right now we have the crappiest desk in the world.  In 2011, I want to redesign our study so that John and I have a nice and comfortable place to work.  Right now, we can barely use our desk it is so AWFUL.

 

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Reverb10 December 17, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Reverb10.
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Wow, I didn’t realize it had been this long since I last blogged.  Trust me, I’ve wanted to, but I’ve been running at full capacity this semester.  I’m glad it’s over, and thankfully, that means I’ll have more time to blog.  Yay!

I thought I’d start with a project called Reverb10, which is an online initiative to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next.  I was inspired to do this by my friend, Aba, who has been “Reverb-ing” (with commitment!) this month.

Since I’m quite far behind, I thought I’d do a couple of posts a day until the month is over.  Hopefully this will help get me back in the spirit of blogging, too.

So without further ado…

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

Full.  This year has been packed to the brim.  I finished my Master’s thesis and moved straight into a Ph.D program that gave me one night a week at home.  John and I took over more responsibility in our church, which kept us quite committed as well.  We were often double or triple booked, and our life was a constant—but successful—juggling act.

One year from today, I’d like to say that my life is balanced. This isn’t so much as a wish as it is a necessity; neither I nor John can keep operating at the pace that we have been.  The only problem is that we’re both strong leaders and often assume responsibilities that we have no business taking on.  I don’t want to sacrifice our families or our church if we can help it, but I’d like us both to take more time to just unwind, relax, and have some fun.  Crazy, right?

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit that contributes to this—mainly school/work. This can’t so much be eliminated as streamlined.  I’m a pretty organized and on-task individual, but my officemates love to chat which really cramps my productivity.  I want to maximize and make better use of my time so I can shell out some more time for fun writing.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

I felt most alive when I was scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel.  Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things to do, and it’s such an otherworldly experience.  The ocean, especially the Caribbean in Mexico) is just phenomenally beautiful, and that’s just from the beach.  There’s a whole ‘nother world under the surface that very few people get to experience.  Heck, most people are blissfully unaware—as we were snorkeling the beach, we saw stingrays swimming around people’s ankles!

When you dive, there’s a real sense of excitement and anxiousness as you suit up.  I mean, the potential for death is really high if you’re not careful about your equipment.  Once you hop in, though, diving is just so incredibly…peaceful.  The only thing you hear is your own breathing and the bubbles from your exhaust as you sink down to the bottom.  Scuba diving is physical, but you actually swim fairly slow as you go through reef formations that are thousands of years old.

The one amazing thing that you just don’t understand from aquariums, or even snorkeling, are the incredible colors of the reef.  Every color imaginable is down there, and the patterns are just so complex.  Everything down there is alive, moving, sparkling.  There’s just so much life that you can’t possibly take it all in.  We saw sea turtles, squid, lobster, sharks, eels…just tons of aquatic life.

The coral reefs are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and there’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than recognizing how small and insignificant I am in God’s greater plan.  You can’t not be aware of that when you’re diving and surrounded by so much magnificence.

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

I don’t know if this counts, but I pretty much discussed this on Day 3.  I guess, for variety’s sake, I’d say that my job cultivates wonder all the time.  I’m constantly engaged in explorative thought; my job—and the thing I most enjoy—is teasing out some new meaning from a text.  You could say that I wonder all day!

I’m Lovin’: This DRESS October 14, 2010

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Oh my GOD, it’s gorgeous.

No, really.

29. Earn my MA in English October 6, 2010

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Earning a Master’s degree is much less momentous than getting your bachelor’s in anything.

This is a funny thing to say, I know.  I’m not saying that it’s less important–that’s obviously not the case.  I’m also not saying that it’s less rewarding, less work, or somehow easy.  That’s not true either.  It just…comes and goes with little fanfare.  With your undergraduate, you and your friends are lamenting the end of your college days together, and the closer the end of the semester comes, the more nostalgic you are.  Finally, you graduate, hug, and go your separate ways.  A new chapter opens.

For me, this was certainly true.  I went from having two weeks of graduation festivities to getting married, and within the course of a month my whole life had metamorphosed into something new.  My MA wasn’t like that.  I finished, defended, and then went straight back to work.

This sounds like I’m really down on my degree.  I’m actually incredibly proud of myself.  I’ve never worked so hard for anything in my whole life, and I can’t wait until I get my piece of paper that proves I’ve accomplished something great.  I loved writing my thesis on Doris Betts and the American West.  Though it was incredibly stressful, and the most I’ve ever written in my whole life, I think I could easily revisit that subject and write *more.*  It was…fun, in its own way.  I pretty much wrote nonstop from May until the beginning of August, and I logged 50+ hours a week on that thing.  It’s my baby, and without trying to sound pompous, it’s good.  Not great, but good.

When I finished my BA, I thought I was pretty smart, that I’d stretched my skills about as far as they could go.  Getting my MA has proven to me that my abilities can be pushed to almost limitless standards, and as long as I’m game, I can keep learning. Improving.  Growing.  I was telling John last week that when I was a junior, a 7 page term paper scared the bejeezus out of me.  Now I look at 25 to 30 page papers like they’re normal, and often find myself having to *cut* ideas and information.  I’m a much better writer, critic, and thinker, that’s for sure.

The biggest blessing of this journey, though, has been my teaching experience.  I love it.  It’s something I could picture myself doing for the rest of my life, and if I stick through my Ph.D, I just might be.  That thought is scary and exciting.  It’s sublime, even.  On top of that, the support from my family and loved ones has been tremendous.  I really know who I can count on now.

My MA is something I knew I wanted since high school.  Having it feels good–really, really good.

People Lie October 4, 2010

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Last night, John and I were sitting on the couch in our PJs discussing how people “Other” God when I had a life-shaking revelation.

We’d just finished a rolicking debate when I popped open the computer to look up something on the Internet.  Of course I ended up on Facebook, where one of our RELATIONS* had a status update.  Of course, it looked like someone had hacked his/her facebook account, but the status update read like this:

“UNNAMED RELATION sits on the computer and Skypes with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend all day and never goes to class.”

I laughed, because this RELATION is a freshman in college and, as we all know, freshman year is rife with mistakes.  Also, I’m not entirely sure that this RELATION’S status is a lie–honestly, not going to class and hanging out with the boyfriend/girlfriend sounds about right to me.  The only problem is that this RELATION’S parents are also on facebook, so they caught wind of the update and had some choice comments.  (By the way, how much drama must friending your parents cause?  Thank God both of mine are computer illiterate and I’ve blocked any other family member that might cause me problems).

I read the update to John, and I laughed about how, since RELATION doesn’t have a scholarship and has no academic distinctions to compromise, it would be impossible to know what his/her GPA is.  John just sort of snorted and laughed and was like, “Yeah, and even if s/he talked about it, there’s no way to know if s/he’s telling the truth.”

It was like two semi-trucks full of cymbals had collided IN MY BRAIN.

People lie about their GPAs?  I grew up in a city where I couldn’t go out alone at night after dark, and yet it had never occurred to me that people would lie about that.  GPAs are like…sacred.  It’s not like lying about your weight, which is really anybody’s guess.  It’s like lying about your innate character, your capabilities, and your competency.  It’s one of those WHOPPER of a lies, one of those lies that is so incredibly unethical at its center that it pretty much qualifies you as the scourge of the earth.  What’s the use of going to school and working hard if I can just fake how well I did on my resume, application, or otherwise?  I’ll just tell everyone I got a 6.0 because I’m awesome like that and move on.  I get that not everyone does well in school, sometimes through no fault of their own.  Fine–then leave your GPA off your resume, or make sure that you can address it with honesty, candor, and effectiveness in your interview.  It makes me think that students right out of college with no job experience should have to turn in transcripts to their employers or something, to keep them honest (don’t eat me in the comments, I know this is a poorly thought out and rash idea).  It makes me want to find people who lie about their GPAs and kick them in the throat.  Hard.

*Name unspoken because I cannot afford another one of those hoo-rahs**

**Last time I had a blog, I posted some things that John’s family found controversial and it was a big, awful, HUGE mess.

I Am An eBay Idiot September 16, 2010

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I have lots of stories to tell–like how my SISTER gave my DAD my texting number and how he now sends me copious texts that mean nothing.  This morning he sent me a text that read, “sexy maxi found mexican in Springfield.”  I still have no idea what that means.  He also seems religiously opposed to spelling, even in text speak.  Example: “luv u mch.”  What the crap.

ANYWAY, that’s not the story I’m going to tell you.  Not right now, anyway.

I’m an eBay virgin (well, not anymore, but I was until a week ago).  I’d heard everyone rave about eBay, and I’d looked on the site a few times, but I was largely unimpressed.  Most of the items you couldn’t bid on, and those you could were overpriced.  I left it in favor of Amazon.com with no qualms about it.

Until last week.  My mom’s birthday is coming up quickly, so I started looking for a cheap pair of Chaco sandals for her.  (If you don’t know what Chacos are, you should stop RIGHT NOW and go to this website and marvel in wonder.  They’re only the best shoes ever.  Really.)  She never buys herself anything nice, and she’s always working outside.  I wanted to make sure she had something to wear that will be as tough as she is.  The problem is, the shoes run about $100, and unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of money just lying around.*  After looking around for a good deal on a used pair, I ventured onto eBay.

Turns out, there were quite a few pairs to bid on.  I registered, then hopped on my first item.  I placed my initial bid, which I was pretty confident with, but then eBay asked me to place a second.  Now, let’s pause here.  I have two degress, for God’s sake, but it did not occur to me that I was setting up some sort of automatic bid function.  I just thought they wanted me to bid a little higher.  So I did, and ultimately lost.  I tried this on a few other pairs of used sandals, ultimately being outbid in the closing seconds of the auction.  It sort of sucked.

In order to increase my chances of winning, I decided to open up three or four bids at a time, hoping that one would win.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THIS LOGIC SOUNDED GOOD AT THE TIME.  Actually, I do know.  I thought that once I won, I’d just cancel my other bids and be just peachy.  NOTE:  YOU CAN’T CANCEL BIDS ON EBAY.  I had no clue.

So then I get a second chance offer on a pair of brand new sandals for $20.  I immediately had a panic attack.  Do I take up this guy on his offer, or try and snag a cuter pair with one of my ongoing auctions?  I wrung my hands and ground my teeth in worry.  Finally, I decided to go with the new pair and just close out (at this point) my other five open bids.  I went ahead an paid, then started looking for bid reduction instructions.

There were none.

Turns out, it’s a breach of contract to lower your bid.

Whoops.

So the next week involved me freaking out about possibly owning 5 pairs of chaco sandals at varying prices.  Thank GOD I was outbid on most of them, so now I’m the proud owner of only TWO pairs of Chacos that look exactly the same.  Awesome.  Turns out that eBay is much, much smarter than I am.

As an aside, anyone interested in a pair of Chacos?  Haha.

*I’ve started to pay back my student loans.  Even though they’re not anything like what most people have, it’s still expensive!

I Am Not Dead! September 7, 2010

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Hey everyone,
Sorry for such a long hiatus.  This summer was crazy, and after I finished my thesis, I just felt like I needed to take some time for myself and my family.  Now that the school year is back in full swing, expect regular updates, just like always.
Time to dust off the rust, I guess.  Where to start?  Oh, I know!  How about an…

I’m Lovin’!

Right now, I am absolutely head over heels for the art of ModHero’s Rogan Josh.  I am secretly (though I guess not anymore) a huge comic book fan.  I’ve been a Marvel Fangirl since I was a kid, and after a lapse in comic book reading over the past few years, John bought me a subscription to Marvel.com’s online comic feature.
It’s amazing.
Anywho, I recently stumbled across Josh’s fantastic, super modern superhero artwork.  It’s really stunning–and doesn’t really look superhero-esque unless you know what you’re looking at.  Take the following for example:

Guess who.

Unless you’re familiar with the X-Men, you probably don’t recognize this weather witch.  And yet, the art is still stunning no matter what the inspiration.  Josh doesn’t open his shop often, and when he does it’s only for a few days.  John and I picked up three prints this weekend–namely, Thor, Captain America, and Gambit–right before he closed his doors again.  It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in a while, mostly because I’m desperately in love with most of his prints (I mean, have you seen his oversized X-Men poster?!  Love it).


A Little Bit of Happy June 26, 2010

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I’m deep int he throes of thesis work, which I’m sure is what makes this comic funnier.

Some Observations About the World Cup (Part 1) June 21, 2010

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  • Uruguay has an epic national anthem that goes on FOREVER.  It also has, like, a 30 second intro.
  • Not to be crass, but I’m always surprised about how many white people live in South Africa.  I think it is a shame that Americans of my generation are more versed in WWII than they are Apartheid, the latter of which ended just before I was born.  Seriously, US education system.  Get your act together.  There’s no reason I should have first heard of this IN COLLEGE.
  • ¡Viva la raza!
  • I’m pretty sure the World Cup ball really *does* suck, and it’s not just France and Spain whining about it.  The players seem shocked by what it does, and I’ve never seen so many altitude shots on goal.  I mean, you get those a lot, but these are practically going into the stratosphere.
  • I want a vuvuzela so bad.  Someone get me one.
  • I’ve never seen so many Oscar worthy performances in my life.  Anything to get the yellow card.
  • I don’t know if England’s goalie is every going to get to go home after that dork of a save against the US that gave us a goal.  Seriously.  I hear the man is getting absolutely lampooned back in the homeland.  Whoops.
  • Univision coverage is so much better than ESPN3’s.  You don’t even have to speak Spanish to enjoy it more.  I mean, seriously, tune in if only for the GOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!
  • Brazilian soccer players are the worst about falling down and rolling around on the ground.  I have never in my life seen so much writhing around in pain and clutching at extremities, only to have the player hop up and start running five seconds later.
  • Sucks to be that Mali referee from the US vs. Slovenia match.  That was his World Cup debut, and I would bet a million bucks it was also his exit performance.

June 18, 2010

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Seriously, Nintendo. I mean, your graphics are already third tier, and with the Kinect and PSMove, you’re running out of options! I mean, when everything has a WiiMote, what is your hook? Your snag? YOUR GIMMICK?!

I highly recommend you start packaging one of these musicians with every new Wii console sold starting the next fiscal year. It would be even better if they were kids, because they’d be a) cheaper to ship and b) more compact for storage (look, the PS3 slim is already cramping your style in that category).

This video made my Friday. Enjoy!