Monday, December 3, 2012

Weverb Day 3--Staying in the Moment

I'll admit that it's hard for me to stay in the moment. I spent my year wishing for summer, then wishing for school, then wishing to know what was happening after graduation. I'm definitely future-oriented--I'm up to my eyeballs in grad school things right now.

For me, sitting in the Wesley garden is one way I slow down and appreciate the moment. Drinking cups of tea is another. Observing people is the best way I know to appreciate the moment though. You sit and watch and just think about everything that's going on around you. Staying in the moment is definitely hard for me. I'll try to be better in 2013.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Weverb Day 2--Movie Recommendations

To answer the question simply: My #1 movie this year was Bernie. Absolutely hilarious film. Encourage everyone to see it!

Movies I Would Recommend that were released in 2012: The Avengers, Frankenstein, The Dark Knight Rises, Brave, Lincoln, The Hunger Games, The Lorax

Movies that I will probably recommend in 2012: The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Hyde Park on the Hudson

Also watched The Sandlot for the first time at the Wesley and saw Titanic 3D with a group of Wesley girlfriends. Both enjoyable movie experiences. 

But my most memorable movie experience in 2012 was in April when my 6 cousins, brother,  and I went to see Pirates: Band of Misfits the day after my aunt's funeral. We ordered way too much food, sat there in the dark dealing with unwieldy emotions, and had a bittersweet bonding experience. Sometimes it's not about the movie, but who you're with. I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall Break 2012

What inevitably happens, when I decide I'm going to be a cool blogger and take pictures of every second of my life, is that I forget to take pictures about halfway through the day. That's exactly what panned out over Fall Break.

I had grand plans of taking a myriad of wannabe-Instagram pictures and making a "photo essay" of my time off. That failed because halfway through Monday I got bored with the picture-taking. Regardless, here's what I did over Fall Break.

My break started at 8:50 on Thursday evening. I celebrated with eggrolls, coffee ice cream, and 2 episodes of Mad Men.

Friday morning, I stayed in bed way too late, and didn't leave for Rockwall until 11:30 am. But once I got home, my Dad took me to the new Greek restaurant in town. I had an excellent chicken shawarma and then we had baklava.

After lunch and a Starbucks stop, we came home and I spent the afternoon reading magazines--Texas Monthly, Entertainment Weekly, and Guideposts

Friday evening, my Mom and I saw 9 to 5: The Musical at our local theatre. It was a nice mother-daughter date.

Saturday morning, I did nothing productive. I messed around on the computer, drank coffee, and stayed in my pajamas until 2 pm.

I attempted to read some Faulkner around 2:30 or so, but my parents were watching TV, so I got sucked in.

We went to see The Trouble with the Curve with Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams at 4 pm, just so we could get out of the house for awhile. After the movie, we drove down to Quinlan and ate at Richard's BBQ. I had excellent pulled pork.

Saturday night, we watched my parents' Australia pictures.

Sunday morning, I went to church at 11.

My cousin Caleb was in Dallas for the weekend, and came to have lunch with my parents and I. Afterwards, the two of us drove to Forney to go antique shopping.

We stopped for frozen yogurt at the Sweet Frog in Forney on the way home.

After he left, I took a late-afternoon nap. Both of my parents were busy during dinner, so I ate leftover BBQ and enjoyed one of my favorite bad habits: reading while at the dinner table.

Sunday night, my parents and I watched a TV special on Margaret Mitchell and I stayed up too late messing around on the internet. 

Monday morning, I got up for a doctor's appointment, but it was cancelled. So I went back to bed until 11. I drove up to Greenville to have lunch with my dear friend Karen. She volunteers at the Greenville hospital MWF, so we just ate at the hospital canteen.

When I got back home, the fun times were over. My parents are looking into changing my room into a guest room, so I spent Monday afternoon cleaning out stuff that I no longer want. I took down all my posters and gave a bunch of stuffed animals away. I cleaned out so much that I was able to give away an entire shelving unit. (Well I say give mom took it for her own use. The Sears family is full of packrats I must say.)



Monday night, I spent a lot of time looking through our Marfa pictures (blog post about that trip coming soon I hope) and packing up the laundry that my Mom did for me. (I know, I know...I should be doing my own laundry. But she and Dad were doing their Australia laundry, so she told me to throw it in with theirs.) I attempted to read more Faulkner, but it didn't happen. My mom had bought a package of carmel apples for me, and I had one for my Monday evening dessert.  

Tuesday morning, I got up at 10 and packed the car. At 11:45 I drove to church--my Mom volunteers there Monday and Tuesday. I ate lunch with her and her coworkers. My Dad came to church and we drove to get gas (he bought me a full tank of gas--Thanks Dad!) and then to Walmart to buy some new windshield wipers for my car which he installed. Then we said goodbye, I got in my car, and I drove back to Fort Worth. I stopped for Starbucks at the University Plaza before arriving at my apartment around 3 pm.

(This drink marks my 30th Starbucks purchase this year, making me a Starbucks Gold Member. Yeah for disposable income I guess?)

After getting back, I unpacked and put away my laundry and started this blogpost. At 5, I decided I needed to get serious about my Faulkner, so I went over to the Wesley to read. I lasted 30 pages before I decided I couldn't stand it anymore. I decided to make cupcakes for the Wesley leadership meeting instead. They came out great and we had a nice meeting too. 

Wednesday, Fall Break was technically over. However my one Wednesday class was cancelled, making it a pseudo-vacation day for me. I went to the Mission at 10 as I normally do, went out to lunch at El Rancho Grande with my fellow volunteers, came home and took a nap, and then went to the Wesley for Wednesday worship. All in all, not a bad day. And I didn't take a single picture.

I had class this morning, but I'm already done again for the week--this was the easiest school week in existence. Have plenty of homework to do and Mad Men episodes to watch tonight though. Also have a busy weekend ahead--movie night, working in the Wesley garden, watching the TCU-Baylor game, church, and small group.

Hopefully, I will get my Marfa recap posted sometime next week! Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Scholarly Summer: A Reading List

One of the things I do every summer is read a lot of books. Since this was possibly my last free summer, I decided to keep a list of all the books I read during these past 14 weeks. But now that the first day of school's arrived, the list must be considered finished.  
Part of the reason I kept this list is because I love reading about famous people's favorite books and their reading lists. I was recently fascinated by this list of Steven Soderbergh's pop-culture consumption ( The man read multiple books a week while directing a major motion picture! There are a plethora of news articles and blogs that record celebrity pop-culture consumption. And I read all of them.

Back in Harry Potter's heyday, Daniel Radcliffe used to occasionally update his website with the books and movies he'd consumed lately. Seeing as he was Daniel Radcliffe, he only listed about 2 or 3 books at a time. Since I'm not world-famous and have a bit more free time, I managed to get through 17 books this summer. Not bad. Here's the list in the order that I read them:
A Treasury of Great American Scandals: Tantalizing True Tales of Historic Misbehavior by the Founding Fathers and Others Who Let Freedom Swing by Michael Farquhar
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
A collection of 3 short stories by Truman Capote: House of FlowersA Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature’s Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes by Bill Peschel 
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
Atonement by Ian McEwan
A Question of Attraction by David Nicholls
One Day by David Nicholls
Calico Joe by John Grisham
A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Summer at Tiffany by Majorie Hart

And though I didn't read every single page, I still must include the Kaplan GRE 2013 Premier in my list because I spent a significant amount of time this summer pouring over it.
Before this summer, I had never read any Tokien. Nor Capote. Nor any of Alcott's work for adults. My goal this summer was to read as much important literature that I could. 
It wasn't all serious though. I indulged my love of trivia by reading the books of Peschel and Farquhar and my love of travel with Elizabeth Bard. I learned more about the art of writing with Miller. The Grisham and Hart books? Pure fun--I read both of those books in a DAY (two separate days mind you, but less than 24 hours for each one).
My reading of Atonement is a bit complicated. I have this quirk where I refuse to watch a movie without reading its book first. Well, I wanted to watch Atonement because Benedict Cumberbatch is in it. (I may be a tad obsessed with BC.) But my rule stuck. So I read Atonement, and at the time of this writing, I STILL have not actually seen the movie. (Fun Fact: BC is also in Starter for Ten, which is the film version of A Question of Attraction, but I didn't know that when I read the book. And I watched that film shortly after finishing the book and it was great!) 
Also through my reading this summer, I found what kind of book I want to write---a interesting, unique, chockfull-of literary references book like Nicholls has done (twice over). Nicholls' writing made me feel that my knowledge of important books was severely lacking. When I finished A Question of Attraction, I went "Man, I hope I can write a book that good one day." And then I drove to the library and picked up One Day the next day. His writing is deceptively simple--intense emotions in few words. If I ever become famous for my prose and they ask who or what inspired me, I'm going to list Rowling, Fitzgerald, and Nicholls.

As for my last book of the summer, I began East of Eden by John Steinbeck while on vacation. I was reading it for fun, which I realize makes me ridiculous. But I didn't finish it, and who knows when I'll get those last 200 pages read. Maybe Thanksgiving?
And now that school begins again, I'm still reading. My first book of the school year will be Light in August by William Faulkner for one of my English classes, the first of five Faulkner novels I'll be reading this semester.
I really like keeping a list of the books that I read. Once I get out of school and have more free time (and more choice over what I read), I may make this a permanent habit---a never-ending list of books. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

(Not) Looking for Love

I'm weird in that I read a lot of blogs written by women who are married and/or have children. One of these is Modern Mrs. Darcy. This week she's doing a link-up post on love and marriage stories. Since a lot of her readers appear to be at a similar point of life to her, I thought I would offer a different perspective to the link-up, as someone who is not anywhere near ready for marriage.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, a 21-year-old, and a fellow senior in college, updated her Facebook relationship status to Engaged. There were romantic pictures, plenty of likes and comments, a wedding date set for June 2013, and the realization that we are all getting older.

That last one was just me though. I think.

I am 22 years old. I feel like my life is just beginning. I don't know everything. For all my boasting of being a grown-up, I don't truly know how the real world works. Life is easy when your parents pay your rent.

Shortly after this engagement announcement, my brother and I made a late-night run to Jack-in-the-Box. As we ate our burritos, I pondered.

"How can she get married? She doesn't even know what she's doing with her life yet!"

My brother, older and wiser at age 25 with a broken engagement under his belt, replied, "Marriage is about saying I put you first no matter what. She'll make her life plans adapt."

There are obvious reasons why I'm not the one getting married next summer. No boyfriend for one. But more than that, I want time to myself first. I have to learn how to "do adult life" before I add another person to the mix. I want to pay my own rent, have my own cat, buy my own car, go on my own vacations, and start saving for my own house before I share those responsibilities with another.

Right now, my future plans are more important than my future husband. Is that bad to say? Going to grad school and getting a job consume me right now. My husband is merely a abstract figure that I sometimes dream about and pray for. And while I pray for him, I don't typically pray to find him. I pray for grad school exams and entry and for job opportunities, but not to find my husband. I think this is because I really don't have strong feelings about finding him right now. But I know that I'm too focused on my perceived goals. I need to also be keeping my eyes open for the possibilities of something else. And it's unrealistic to think that I'll be 100% settled when I marry. Part of marriage is going through the unsettled parts of life together.

I've always been independent. It's thanks to my mother, the Montessori mom who, while getting married at age 23, still got her law degree and waited 10 years to have children. My mom was a working mother who taught her daughter that marriage was not a requirement. 

I think a lot of women are afraid of not getting married. I'm afraid of the opposite: getting married and finding out it was a mistake. I want to be absolutely sure when I get married, and I don't think I would have that certainty right now. 

As for being alone, I'm used to it. I spent my high school years being the girl who ate lunch in the corner while reading a book. I'm an introvert. I like choosing what to do and where to eat and making important decisions.

At age 22, I've never been kissed. I'm certainly not actively looking for a boyfriend. It isn't that I've stopped looking really, it's that I've never seriously looked in the first place. I've had crushes before obviously, and I even have certain requirements for my husband. I may even have too many requirements. I don't worry about when or if I'll get married. I figure if I'm meant to be a wife, God will send the right man my way. 

With this logic, I already realize that there's a high probability that I'll end up a cat lady. But it's OK. My brother has ambitions to be a husband and father. I'll spoil my nieces and nephews rotten if I don't have my own children. Heck, I'll spoil them even if I do have my own!

Matthew Paul Turner has written that humans were made to have a spouse, that life was designed that way. I definitely get that. No doubt my future adult life would be easier with a husband who could do home repairs and open jars for me.

Another deterrent is the divorce rate--I worry about getting involved with something that only has a 50% success rate. But I can't let that stop me either. If I meet the right man, then it's not going to be about the "institution" of marriage, it's going to be about him and me and the work we do to keep our marriage going. I do think humans as a whole are too independent. Society tells us that we should be happy ALL. THE. TIME. Which in a relationship with another human being is not going to work. People have to be wiling to struggle in a marriage sometimes.

So Dearest Husband, I'm waiting for you. But I'm not mindlessly waiting I assure you. I'm getting my college degree, and going to grad school, and paying my own rent, and buying a car, and when you show up (or at least make yourself known), we'll do life together.

So, after all those words, here's my story: Girl lives independently for as long as she needs to, Girl meets Boy, Girl and Boy date for at least a year, Girl and Boy have proper engagement and small wedding, Girl and Boy face the ups and downs of life together forever. And Girl gets to still be independent at times. Also Girl gets to always have cats. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's OK Thursday

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK to go to Chipotle multiple times a week.
It's OK to always order the same thing at Starbucks. But it's OK to switch it up sometimes too.
It's OK to get excited about your new planner.
It's OK to stay up until 3 am (but only sometimes).
It's OK to still be obsessed about the Olympics.
It's OK to think Phelps is cuter than Lochte.
It's OK to still love Disney movies at age 22.
It's OK to spend two nights in a row hanging out with your parents.
It's OK to be jealous that your parents are going to Australia.
It's OK to be Type-A.
It's OK to want a new kitty, but it's also OK to miss your old one.
It's OK to be stressed about the GRE.
It's OK to be interested in the workings of the United Methodist Church.
It's OK to read JSTOR articles for fun.
It's OK to be ready for summer to be over.

What's OK with you this week?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'm a Senior...Shouldn't I have this College thing down by now?

My senior year of college begins in less than two weeks. In high school, being a senior was exciting. Now it's just terrifying. In about 40 weeks, I'll be out in the real world.

Because the real world is getting closer and closer, I'm determined to make this last year the best one yet. To do so, I'm getting my organizational skills into gear! I want to do only things that will bring me success!

I'm so Type-A that I've already written out a daily schedule for the semester and I hope to stick to it. And by daily schedule, I truly mean a DAILY schedule. Y'all, I've decided I want to sleep 12am-8am every. single. night. Do I actually believe that will happen? No. But I wrote into my schedule anyway because positive thinking yeah?

The most obvious thing that would bring me success this coming semester (and school year) is to limit my tumblr, facebook, and Google Reader consumption. If I said I could view those things only on Sundays, then my school life would play out much better. I have a blocking program on my computer. Why don't I use it?

I think in the past, I've had too much free time, so I have a false sense of security of what I can get done. I say, "Oh, I have 2 days to write that paper!" But then something unexpected comes up and I find myself up at 2 am the night before it's due, frantically writing. This semester though, I'm volunteering both at the library and the local mission, so I have more things to do. Less free time = tighter schedule. In addition to my volunteer gigs, I have Wesley activities and grad school/employment applications to fill my time. Plus, you know, actually doing all my homework in a TIMELY manner.

In addition, I want to start living a healthier lifestyle. My plans for this goal include cooking healthy meals (microwaving may be quicker, but it's not good for you!), getting the afore-mentioned 8 hours of sleep a night, and working out regularly. In addition, I want to make time for daily Bible\God time.

Also, writing regular blogs would be nice too.

If I just did the basics every day, I'd have a lot less free time and wouldn't NEED to fill my time with the internet.

I have the blessing/curse of having class only 4 days a week this semester, meaning my Fridays will be completely free. If I use those Fridays wisely and work on homework all day, then I will be much better off the rest of the week. I'd like to make it where I don't do homework on Sundays and if I really focus on Fridays, I can meet that goal. I shall see how these Fridays play out.

I think another reason I always get behind is that I slack off the first week of school because it's "syllabus week" and classes are usually shorter and there are no assignments due yet. But if I got AHEAD on my reading (shocking I know) and worked hard on grad school stuff and other non-school things, then I wouldn't be wasting time and I wouldn't be so stressed later.

The blessing of being a History major and English minor is that you get to READ a lot. Which is great because I love to read. But it's assigned reading and not always the most interesting stuff. I'm taking a class on Faulkner where I have to read FIVE books by Faulkner and one book of criticism on his work. That's a lot of Faulkner. I've never actually read any Faulkner before. Let's hope I like him.

Also, here's an interesting thing. Despite being a history major, I'm not taking a single history class this semester. This is because I've finished with my history plan (besides my thesis), so any history classes I take now would only count for hours, nothing else. I'll be writing my thesis in the spring (which is totally NOT recommended by the History Department. But since I didn't become a History major until the spring of my sophomore year, I was behind on the typical history major plan.)

It's my senior year. I'd like to end my college experience on a positive note. Sure, I'm probably headed to grad school, but it's not the same really. If I just force myself into a regular schedule of useful activities, then I'll see many benefits I'm sure. I don't want to be stuck in the same rut of the past three years. I want to do more than I believe I can.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Midwestern Jaunt

I haven't written a blog post in over a year. This is because during school I'm too busy and during the summer I'm too boring. But since I've just returned from a lovely trip to the Midwest, I figured I could write down a few things about my time there. It won't be a blow-by-blow, but rather some general impressions.

As always, I was in awe of the journey to Kansas City in the plane. It took us four hours, which is a great relief after years of the ten-hour car trip. The clouds on our return trip were so puffy that I felt that if I could open my door and jump out, they'd catch me. I hope in heaven, one can ride on a cloud. I'm looking forward to it. On the way there I slept 2 of the 4 hours, but on the way home I found it harder to do so. Instead I watched the scenery. Flying over Kansas City itself is always a treat, as we see things like the Royal Stadium, the shuttlecocks on the Nelson lawn, the Plaza, the building where my Uncle John works, and more. But the plains of Kansas are almost as interesting to see--miles and miles of nothing and then a solitary house pops out of nowhere! But always, the most exciting part is flying over Rockwall and knowing that we're nearly home.

As for Kansas City itself, it is always full of adventure. We spent three days at our lake cabin in the heart of Kansas. It is outside of a farm town of only 800 people called Meriden--the only restaurants are a Subway, a pizza place, and a hamburger joint. But it is only 20 miles to Lawrence one way and 20 miles to Topeka the other. And most importantly, the cabin is only 3 miles from Perry Lake.

We didn't go to the lake though. We hung about the cabin, reading and napping and cleaning. I got 400 pages of the Lord of The Rings trilogy read (all of The Fellowship and half of The Two Towers). The first night we were there, there was an absurdly loud storm--lightning and thunder galore! The cabin has no insulation, so the rattling was quite apparent.

The cabin is both worst and better than I could ever describe. There's no running water and no electricity, but we do have a port-a-potty and a generator to run fans at night. The view is glorious and we have a deck that is shaded by the most beautiful trees where we spend the days. We shower at the Perry Lake Campsite showers--always a fun time with the slimy floors and no shower curtains!

But the cabin will always be dear to me, as many of my fondest childhood memories took place there.

(And I've already decided that any future husband of mine has to survive at least three days there before I'll agree to marry him.)

On the second day at the cabin, we went to Lawrence and ate BBQ with my dad's family. Afterwards, we had absurdly expensive cupcakes at the shop next door, and then I went with my cousins to Platte City, Missouri to spend the night at their house. We stayed up late, watched a weird movie, tried on clothes (hand-me-downs galore!!! I love having older female cousins!), and in general had fun. Sleepovers at Aunt Libby and Uncle John's are looked forward to, believe me.

The next morning, we all went back to the cabin and spent the day together. The boys shot their guns, we ate too much food, and it was a typical Sears-Miller family gathering.

But now I must tell you about the thresher reunion. The thresher reunion was in Meriden all weekend. Friday afternoon we went for 2 hours--we watched the local farmers thresh hay, pull tractors, chop wood, and toured the facilities. There's a blacksmith shop and a cotton mill on the grounds, along with several other buildings. It was so absurd to me--how many people even know where Meriden, Kansas IS, much less spend a significant amount of time there? And who else besides the Sears family would spend an afternoon at a thresher reunion? But then on Saturday, after our family left, we went back to the reunion to listen to music in the local dance barn. My mom and I danced the Cupid Shuffle, and I did the Twist by myself. We got our money's worth out of that reunion. And a nice button to boot.

(This is actually from later in our trip, but it's a good representation of the things we saw at the thresher reunion.)

But once we moved on from the cabin, it was time to go to Iowa! My parents, my grandma, and I drove from her home in Cameron, Missouri to West Branch, Iowa to visit my fifth presidential library, that of Herbert Hoover. It was a lovely drive through the plains and cornfields of Iowa. And in Iowa, we got around to taking pictures!

We stayed in Iowa City and had a wonderful dinner at the Iowa River Power Company, with a gorgeous view of the Iowa River!

(The outside of the IRPC)

(The view from our table)

The next morning, we visited the library--despite being the first presidential library built in the 1950s, it was very well-done. We were all impressed and we learned a lot. Most people think of Hoover as a bad president, but his accomplishments were numerous and diverse. We also visited his boyhood home, his father's blacksmith shop, the Quaker meetinghouse where his family worshipped, and the graves of him and his wife. It was a very beautiful place.

(The birthplace of Herbert Hoover)

The Hoover graves

Afterwards we had lunch at Hamburg Inn No. 2, near the campus of the University of Iowa (for TCU people--I would say it's the Iowa equivalent of Dutch's, in terms of history and decor). I had the most amazing Eggs Benedict of my life there. Also, the university's campus is beautiful as well as very large. Little small school me couldn't deal with it.

Our drive home was uneventful, but we did stop twice. Once near St. Charles, Iowa to take a picture of the Imes Covered Bridge, one of the famed bridges of Madison County. And then once in Lamoni, Iowa for ice cream at an Amish-run restaurant. And while we there, we saw two Amish couples riding by in their horse-and-buggies. But it wasn't entirely 1800s--they did have cans of gas in their trunks.

(The Imes Covered Bridge)

(Cows outside the Amish restaurant in Lamoni)

So basically, this trip proved what a nerd I am. As I said on Facebook, I read Tolkien and went to a presidential library. My life in a nutshell.

Every time I go to Kansas City, I wish I lived there. It'll take a few days for my Texas love to return. But a part of my heart will always belong to the Midwest.

(My grandma and I in front of the Amish restaurant in Lamoni)