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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.

 

Reverb10 December 20, 2010

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December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

I spent all weekend thinking about this prompt off and on.  I’ve done quite a bit of letting go this year, and some of it was really, really tough.  I know I’m going to have to do a lot of letting go next year, too.

One thing I let go of this year was a very close friendship.  My freshman year, my roommate and I became very good friends.  Best friends, you might say.   At the time, I thought we were just really close, but in retrospect, we had a pretty toxic relationship.  She was needy, wanted validation constantly, and demanded a lot of my time.  Because of that, some of my other friendships suffered, for which I am now incredibly regretful.

Anyway, she got married, and as soon as she moved away, that was it.  She and her husband would come back into town to visit and never call; we’d run into each other and it was a big “Oh, surprise!  Sorry!  You want to grab dinner or something?”  I’d call her and she wouldn’t call me back, or she’d pick up the phone and immediately dismiss me.  It was incredibly clear that she wanted nothing more to do with me.

I was so deeply hurt…hurt to the point of almost hating her.  I’d think of her and my stomach would clench; I would dread going to football games in case we saw each other in the parking lot.  I even missed church one night because I knew she’d be back for a visit.  I used to have dreams about punching her in the face.  That’s messed up.  Basically, I let her treatment of me dictate aspects of my life for a long, long time.  (Note to self: That’s part of why I need to stop holding grudges)

Anyway, I’ve been working really hard to make new friendships and get over old ones, if you know what I mean.  Then, earlier this year, her grandmother died.  John and I are still very good friends with her uncle (whose a sophomore in college—confusing, I know.  He’s adopted, and we’ll leave it at that).  Like good friends, we went to the visitation, and I was all upset because I knew SHE would be there.  I saw her, told her I was sorry, and…that was it.  I felt…nothing.  No anger, no sadness…it was just over.

Over.  What a nice word to type.

Strangely enough, writing about this—no matter how vaguely—makes me feel better, too.  It’s nice to put it out there, to acknowledge to the world that I’m okay now.  Well, maybe okay isn’t the right term.  I’ve let go, and now I’m working through the emotional baggage on my way towards being “just fine.”

Maybe I’ll write a longer post about this once I get there.

 

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

Hah!  This is funny, because I’m actually making Christmas presents as we speak.  Some of it is hush-hush, but suffice it to say I’ve recently crocheted two very warm, very fuzzy, very red presents.

 

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

This is kind of an interesting question for me.  I haven’t really discovered community anywhere this year.  I would say at my home church, but that’s really a 2009 thing, so I guess that doesn’t quite count.

Perhaps it’d be easier if I stuck to the second half of the question.  I know exactly where I’d like to find more community: at work.  I’d like to make better friends with my fellow TAs.  It’s been hard—I was lucky enough to land in an office with instructors, but that means that I don’t have much interaction with teaching assistants.  It lets me be an affective TA, but I’d like to have more interaction from my peers.

I also want to do a better job maintaining the communities I do have.  It’s been very hard over the past few months to keep in contact with my friends—school, marriage, and my family has taken precedence.  I’m not very good at making friends, and I really value the ones I have.

Reverb10 December 17, 2010

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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 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).


It’s Not Dead! June 14, 2010

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Growin' like a weed.

Remember how I told you that I was growing a garden?  Remember how I said it would probably be dead by now?  Well…it’s not!  I took this two weeks ago and the lettuce has tripled in size.  I also have three little bitty roma tomatoes coming on!

The garlic is a new addition. Also, this is a "pepper photobomb"

My cilantro is dainty and adorable.

Look how much bigger it's gotten.

Here’s To Two Years June 7, 2010

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My Shutterbug.

God, I love this man.

Fun Color Personality Test June 2, 2010

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Today I killed some time taking this color personality test.  It’s simple, easy, and (dare I say it) fairly accurate.  I’ve put up my results; what type of person are you?

Your Profile :

You are 52 % extrovert and 48 % introvert.

Independently of any order of importance :

You are a leader, you know how to organize the groups of persons and give them your energy.

You are also intellectual and intelligent, you wonder and you inquire before taking any action.

Finally you are creative, you always have new ideas, and your inspiration comes from the inside.


Understanding of your Environment:

At first, at 36%, you are centered on your thoughts and your actions are determined by your knowledge and your experience.

Then, at a ratio of 36%, you are attached to moral values and feelings, and you have an emotional relation with the environment.

Finally, at 27%, you are focused on the facts and on the reality, and your decisions are determined by your perception of facts.


How You Assert Yourself:

Your ideas
53
46
Your relations


Also, the bonds that you created with your family and friends represent 55% of your core emotions. Your creativity, your openness and your need to open up to renewal in your life have also an impact of 44%.

Your inspiration
44
55
Your family


Finally, your actions are determined by your will and your personal goals at a ratio of 53%. In 46% of the cases you take into account your own sensibility and your partner’s.

Your will power
53
46
Your sensibility


Keys To Your Personality At This Time:

At 23%:  You are a manager and a leader, and you know how to organize groups of people and how to give them your energy.

At 20%:  You are a manager and a structured person, you know how to take into account the needs of each person while leading them to the fixed goals.

At 20%:  You are intellectual and intelligent, you wonder and you inquire before taking any action and setting your values.

At 18%:  You are thoughtful and deep, you think before getting into action and you know how to communicate your knowledge.

At 17%:  You are open and good communicator, you know how to attract people and engage them.

Finally, you are a creative person, with always new ideas, and you know how to apply them, you are creative, you know how to see beauty, you are intuitive and your inspiration comes from the inside.

Lovin’: This May 12, 2010

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Via nathanwpyle.blogspot.com

The Baptist Farmer May 10, 2010

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Hey, I’m putting off working on my (already behind schedule) thesis.  What are you doing today?

I thought I’d take a few minutes to introduce you to my very first container garden.

Here's one half, anyway.

Ah, there's the rest!

The containers are courtesy of my grandfather’s friend Kenneth Swift, who gave them to us for free.  They’re originally cattle feeders; John and I drilled holes in the bottom of them and painted them to make them a little less…well, royal blue.

So far we’re growing mostly herbs: basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, and a bunch of cilantro.  We’ve got a few roma tomatoes, bell peppers, and some lettuce thrown into the mix too, though.  Grandpa also gave me some garlic, which I need to pot sometime today.

So far everything seems to be happy and healthy, though I’ll let you know how it’s progressing in a few weeks.  I’ve only gardened with lots of supervision, so this might end up being a practice in futility.  Hopefully not, though.