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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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Posted by A. Robinson in Reverb10.
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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.

Winter Read-a-thon December 13, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust, Life.
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I should start this post with a big ol’ HAPPY BIRTHDAY to JohnJohn.  I gave him Modern Warfare 2, and he’s been playing while I type/blog/bake him a cake.  We’re going to see The Blind Side tonight…I’ll let you know how it is.

I can’t even begin to tell you how behind I am on Christmas.  I mean, seriously.  I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off since Thanksgiving; as a matter of fact, the longest conversation I’ve had with John since Turkey Day was last night over dinner.  Ugh, it’s been awful, but it’s done now.  One more stack of papers to grade and I’m home free until January.  I need it: I am seriously burned out.  I have some nifty crafts planned in the next week, too.  Woot for free time.

Part of what I love most about Christmas break is the chance to read things that I’m interested in, though this break will be peppered with texts for my thesis and/or school.  That’s fine, though, they’ll be interesting enough.  Here’s the list of what, in an idea world, I’d like to read this break, including a section of MUSTS.


  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Heading West by Doris Betts
  • The Sharp Teeth of Love by Doris Betts
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (I’m teaching this one)


  • Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton (my guilty pleasure, har har)
  • All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg (a southern memoir.  You might like this one, Bunny)
  • That Feminist Book that LindseyBunny Wants to Read (need title)
  • Belladonna by Anne Bishop
  • Hunger Games by I Don’t Know Who

So, what are you all planning to read this Christmas?  Any titles I need to add but haven’t?  Also, anyone up for a read-a-long?  Could be fun!

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.

BBC’s 100 Books February 19, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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Stolen off of Facebook:

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen X+ (Thank you for encouraging me to read this, Lindsey)
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte X+ (Completed October 1, 2009.  Excellent.)
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee X+
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte X+
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X+
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman X (how did this make the list?  I mean, seriously)
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens X+ (I didn’t like this book in high school, but loved it when I read it again in college)
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy X
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare X+  (Okay, so I’ve only read most of the works, but I’m counting it anyway)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X  (I loathe and detest this book.  It’s the reason that Lord of the Rings–which, apparently, is amazing according to this list, is unchecked.  This book makes me thankful that Tolkien is dead.)
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald X+
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck X+
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll *
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis *
34 Emma – Jane Austen *
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen *
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X+
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hossein
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell X+
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood X+
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding X+
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen *
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X+
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon (So, funny story on this one.  I picked it up in the bookstore and flipped through it without reading the dust cover, and some of the comments reminded me of John’s neuroses.  So I showed him the book, and he got all huffy.  I couldn’t figure out why–turns out he DID read the summary, and the book is about autism.  Oops.)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold X+
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie *
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville X (One of those that I’m sad to put an X by)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker X+ (Despite writing my thesis on this book, I still love it)
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt (Has anyone ever heard of this?)
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White X+
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom X+
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X+
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad X (I liked this the first time I read it, but having read it a subsequent 7 times in college has taken the shine off)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare X+ (How is this separate from the Complete Works of Shakespeare again?)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo X+ (Long read, should be higher on the list)

Total: 30.  Not bad, considering!  Really, though, some of the titles on this list I haven’t even heard of, much less considered reading.  And really?  Phillip Pullman?  In the top 10?  Makes me doubt the validity of this list entirely.