Tuesday, January 31, 2012

and now it's time for more weird toys with eiley...

These blocks come from FeeFaw and Pops (my parents), and Eiley plays with them every day. We can only hope that Zombie is one of her first words. 

In conclusion, I filmed it like that on purpose. You know, better view of the kid and all. You're welcome.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Movie Review Monday #36: Mao's Last Dancer

I grew up in Houston, Texas, in case you didn't know. And as much as people tend to only hear "Texas" when I say that, and start picturing horses, big cowboy hats, broad open parries', and staunch Republicans full of attitude, Houston actually is a large urban center with some degree of culture and sophistication. 

I knew that of course, I grew up there, but I didn't know anything about the story portrayed in Mao's Last Dancer. The movie is about a young man who is identified as a dancer by his communist government, brought to dance for the Houston ballet company, and faces various personal/political challenges along the way. 

It was a moving story that felt so unfamiliar, and yet so close to home. It was all taking place during my lifetime, while I lived in that city. One climactic moment takes place in Miller Outdoor Theater, where I watched many a performance growing up, a stage on which I even gave my own little theatric performance once, but that's a story for another day. And yet, I had never heard about any of this going on. Perhaps it is yet another testament to my self-centered-ness, but the familiar scenes of the theaters and downtown and such really drew me into the drama of the story. 

After watching the movie and seeing what a big deal the story was for Houston, it made me wonder more about Yao Ming's story. He played basketball for the Houston Rockets. Some people challenged Houston's arrangement with China in bringing Yao Ming onto the team as human slave trafficking. I wonder how much Li's story influenced or informed the reaction to Yao Ming's drafting, or if Yao Ming had a similar experience.

The emotion of the tale certainly gets you caught up into an anti-communist mood. And yet, the bias seems to be a critique against the incredibly strong propaganda and power of the Chinese government, so if you only just step back ever so slightly, you begin to feel skeptical about how you too, are being taken in. 

It is funny to me how some writers make choices as they are fictionalizing true stories. In this case, there is a romantic story line that we are prompted to get wrapped up in, and then expected to allow it to be awkwardly dismissed, as if it is no big deal. Be Hollywood, or be true, just pick one. 

Those critiques aside, the story is beautiful and the movie is well done. There is information you take in cognitively, about what life was like in Communist China in the 1980's for example, and cognitive data just doesn't give you a full picture like a story, and especially as a movie, can - fudging on details or not. I found the dancer's mother to be especially compelling as she wrestled with pride, necessary submission, having her son ripped away from her, being held responsible for his choices without having been given the opportunity to raise him herself, and her strength to finally fight back against injustice in the small little way that she could. The way his home is portrayed certainly has emotional power that is rose-bud-esque, if you will.  

One and a half claws up for me, Lobsters! Have you seen it? Think you'll check it out? What did you think?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sabbath Sunday #37

I haven't been to church in weeks. I had good excuses, I was on a retreat (which involved a worship service of sorts), and then my daughter was sick (not very Christian of me to go infect other babies is it?). But this week I'll be back, and I'm so glad. It really throws my week off not to go.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Flashback! The fifth.



Never apologize for being boring because you just aren´t!  I found your email highly engaging and the reason for this is five-fold:

1.  Seth is a terrific friend and he´s very attractive...unfortunately he is about 4 inches shorter than me, and you know height is one of my uncompromising desires.
2.  Your parents are coming???  Do you think that could be a time when Manny might ask for your hand?
3.  I just saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind here last week with Seth and Andy!  It was amazing and thought-provoking, and it really made me value the time I had with my ex-boyfriend, even if it caused both of us so much pain. 
4.  Jane Austin!  I just read Pride and Prejudice last week!!!  I loved it so much that I couldn´t put it down.  Your girliness truly must have had some effect on me when we were roomies ;).  Now I am reading Jane Eyre for the first time.  So far I liked Pride and Prejudice better, but both are thoroughly exciting.  Also, it´s freaking sweet to have so much time for leisure reading. 
5.  5 episodes of Friends a day?!  Oh how dreadfully jealous you have made me.  I honestly miss that show.  I would even be content watching it in Spanish because I know all the lines anyway...the translation wouldn´t be challenging at all! 

Okay, I should go...I love you and I miss you!!!!


He he - you are sweet, i am so glad not to have bored you!

Re: 1) are you going to England soon?  Have you been keeping in touch with Joel, your ex?  Is he liking England? 

Re: 2) yes, my parents are coming. Yes, manny will be asking. Yes, i am in a state of mad terror.

Re: 3) isn't it SUCH a beautiful movie?!?!?!  Oh my goodness. I couldn't believe it.  I saw it in theaters, but i didn't think it could have possibly been as good as i remember thinking it was, and it was even better.  I think its so wonderful and challenging and convicting and gorgeous.  It's the best acting I've ever seen jim carey do - and kate winslet was a whole new person, and she was fabulous. You know what's crazy? You hardly ever actually see the real her - you mostly just see her as his memory constructs her to be, kinda interesting to think about!

Re: 4) yay for Pride and Prejudice!!! So great isn't it? Erin and i have been meaning to get the long movie version and hole up with some sweets and hot drinks and warm blankets and watch it some time.  I should re-read that someday, after i've read the million other books i want to read. But mansfield is so good, its so way different from the movie so far, but i'm so into it. I've been trying for weeks to find a book i could get into and i finally have.  Yay!  And edmund is even more precious in the book than he is in the movie.  I would definately recommend it if you continue to have such a blessing of time to read. So i take it classes and such are not too strenuous? If you've only begun to study?  Last night, i came home after a bible study and was so ready to hunker down and get my homework done, until i realized i had none, so i watched the Rock as the Scorpian King, because that was all i had to do!! WOW! Graduation is fun! :)

Re: 5) yeah - Friends, it's become almost a disease, with so many happy side effects! Its great cause it's one thing all of us love in our little house, so it helps us want to spend some time together if we're around.  Not so much talking and getting to know each other, but it's still good.

Thought on your return - you definately have to come sleep over at my new place and we can have a fire in the fire place and read our "me talk pretty someday" book in my hammock, and watch lots and lots of FRIENDS. What do you say? 

Who/Where/What are you living when you come back? [ps-the what was random because that's as humorous as i get] are you going to be on campus or off campus with someone? 

Ok. That is all. Zoe is hungry and must consume soup! :) 


Zoe faith

Ps - i also REALLY love getting so many personal emails from you as you are away! Makes my day!! :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dear BARB,

Dear Ms. Ehrenreich,

I recently moved to Maine and participated in Brunswick's Community Read of your book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Since you're coming to town today to discuss it with us all, I thought I'd jot some responses down in a letter to tell you about how much I appreciated your work, since I'm sure I won't have a chance to tell you all of this in person. The Help is all the rage right now, with the movie and all, and your book is somewhat like a modern day version that provides us with a similar service/critique, without the luxury of looking back on people in another time to blame, we have our own opportunity to change in response! 

In all honesty, I entered the book with skepticism. A number of ethical dilemmas troubled me as I learned about your project to pose as a low-wage worker and see if you could get by financially. I worried about your deceit of the people you'd come into contact with, and that you would presume that if you could make it, than others should be able to. But I found you humbly acknowledging your privilege of class, education, and color. As a white middle-class woman myself, figuring out how to live with my own privileges has been a major project for me, and I appreciate your modeling an honest approach to working that out.

Discussing the book prior to reading it with another woman here in Brunswick, we prepared ourselves for a real heavy downer. I was again surprised by how amazingly entertaining you could make a story about such drudgery and injustice, without cheapening the lessons learned or the experiences endured by yourself or others. My husband and I read it aloud to each other and more than once feared that we woke our sleeping baby by bursting out with uncontrollable laughter. You are so fun to read!

Your stories brought to mind a variety of people I've encountered over the years. In preparing for my Masters in Social Work, I had to attend some community college classes to cover some pre-requisites. Having been raised with lots of educational privilege, I never expected to set foot in a community college as a student, but it was necessary. I thought so highly of myself for working my full-time non-profit job AND attending multiple classes at night. It was one of the more stressful seasons of my life, juggling it all. But I sat down in that class and was confronted with a room packed with middle-aged females, most of whom had at one point been on welfare, had multiple mouths to feed, rarely had a partner helping them carry the load, held down multiple jobs, AND attended multiple classes at night. I was thoroughly humbled. They knew so much more from life experience about what I was trying to learn from books. Reading your book made me even more frustrated because I can not imagine how, on top of all you did, you could have managed to pay for and attend classes that would have enabled someone in your position to get higher paying jobs (of course, you already had your PhD). And yet, these women saw that this was their only way out, they had been told the burden was on them to get themselves and their families out of this cycle of poverty. I'll never understand how they did it.

Your book challenges me to live a life with less greed, because my own greed affects people, not just my own soul. Your book also makes me feel like one answer to this problem of class separation and repression is to live in community with people that are different from me. Instead of being paralyzed by the guilt of my privilege, I have found my most productive endeavors have involved doing life with people that are members of the working-poor, homeless, or just different classes or sub-cultures. In doing life together, we don't have to depend on welfare as it comes and goes (not that I think it needs to go), I can be the one to write that check to cover my friend's shortfall for rent this month. In doing life together, I can see what life is like in a very personal and real way. Because it is affecting my friend, I have much more reason to change how I live and find solutions to these huge problems. I have much less reason to be ungrateful for all that I have been given. We can break down some of the walls that create isolation and "pariah" syndromes and generalizations of the other that deepen the conflict and avoidance. This is perhaps the messiest, most difficult solution to the problem, but I believe it may get to the core of what is truly wrong. I thought the way you did this living-life-with another at the end of your chapter on Minnesota, when news of the strike shows up on the break room TV and you connect with the other woman there who was suffering, was truly beautiful.
 Speaking of being in relationship, doing it honestly so often requires repairs and reconciliation because it is so easy to hurt one another. I've never met you before, so we're not exactly "in relationship," but I do feel compelled to apologize to you, to seek some degree of reconciliation. One of the truest and hardest-to-swallow portrayals in your book was that of the Christians you encountered. I am a Christian and on behalf of my brothers and sisters, I need to issue you an apology.

Your critique to the participants in the tent revival was entirely on point. We, American Christians need to spend more time reading the whole Bible, and stop dodging passages like the Sermon on the Mount. We make an idol of the "god" we are comfortable worshiping, instead of serving the God that requires a much more difficult and humbling obedience. Thank you for calling us out on that problem!

Secondly, I am a horribly cheap and miserly person. I tremble to think of how many Sundays I went from church to lunch out and gave a disrespectful tip to a server, thinking I was being a good Christian "steward" of my resources. I don't know how many times I must have done that, or how many servers I've done it too. I can't apologize to those servers, but I wish I could say I am sorry being so manipulative in my understandings of theology so as to serve my own interests instead of those of the God I claim to love. Your book helped me receive the beautiful service from a waitress yesterday with so much more appreciation. Thank you. 

Lastly, I was brought to tears by the last paragraph of your afterward. You say:

"If we want to reduce poverty, we have to stop doing the things that make people poor and keep them that way. Stop underpaying people for the jobs they do. Stop treating working people as potential criminals and let them have the right to organize for better wages and working conditions. Stop the institutional harassment of those who turn to the government for help or find themselves destitute in the streets. . . . But at least we should decide, as a bare minimum principle, to stop kicking people when they're down."

More than just agreeing with you, in reading those words, I heard echoes of the prophet Isaiah in one of my favorite chapters of scripture. God's people think they are being so wonderfully religious, and yet God is not granting them all the things they keep asking for from Him, and they are perplexed. In response, through Isaiah, God basically says, in old school speak, just exactly what you said. So, I am sorry we live so offensively, but thank you for speaking a truth to us that we have been needing to hear for thousands of years, a truth God's been trying to teach us. I hope you can see past us, failed image-bearers that we are, and find your joy in the Lord, just as Isaiah promised. Thank you. 

Zoe Reyes

Isaiah 58:
1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. 
   Raise your voice like a trumpet. 
Declare to my people their rebellion 
   and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 
2 For day after day they seek me out; 
   they seem eager to know my ways, 
as if they were a nation that does what is right 
   and has not forsaken the commands of its God. 
They ask me for just decisions 
   and seem eager for God to come near them. 
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, 
   ‘and you have not seen it? 
Why have we humbled ourselves, 
   and you have not noticed?’
   “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
   and exploit all your workers. 
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
   and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
   and expect your voice to be heard on high. 
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
   only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
   and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
   a day acceptable to the LORD?

 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness
[a] will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

   “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
   and your night will become like the noonday. 
11 The LORD will guide you always;
   he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
   and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
   like a spring whose waters never fail. 
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
   and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
   Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

 13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
   and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
   and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
   and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
   and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
   and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
            For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reader Request: Obsession

This request comes from John, the roommate of a friend of mine here in Virginia. I've been to a couple of the same parties as John, after which we became facebook friends, via which I have learned that we have a lot of similar interests, including a passion for the great citizens of Pawnee. Run-on sentence complete. On to the post!

Here are my top five obsessions, in no particular order:
1. Elmo hats. I wore one very nearly every day from sixth to eighth grade. I think I had about five different ones over that span, but they all featured Elmo. Also, I always wore it backward. Awesome? Sure.
2. Lakers. After my high school graduation, I took pictures with my family, two friends caught me on my way out, and then we went to watch the Lakers game. It was during finals. I needed to see it. Needed. 
3. Volleyball. I wasn't good, but I also wasn't bad. I loved playing and watching and practicing so much that I was a stats/ball girl for the boy's team for three years in high school. I even got PE credit for boy's volleyball practice. Blammo.
4. Roswell. I've been obsessed with a lot of TV shows - Friends, SNL, HIMYM, Alias, and 24, just to name a few - but I really let my crazy flag fly with Roswell. The best example I can give is that I had a party for the finale, and a friend and I made themed cupcakes and a list of rules. The last rule essentially stated that if people were not quiet during the show, we would have no problem asking them to leave. Serious business.
5. Matthew Paige Damon. I may have once started decoupaging a pair of shoes with pictures of his face. Just maybe. Judge me freely.

There are some other obsessions that didn't quite hit the crazy meter enough to make the top five which include: SNL, Facebook, finding the perfect boot, ping pong, troll dolls, Ingrid Michaelson (her music, not really her, although she seems like a lovely person), Diet Pepsi, the proper spelling of homonyms, unicorns, pirates, and more. I wonder what the difference is between obsession and passion. Is obsession just an unhealthy version of being passionate about something or someone? And where does addiction land on that scale? I have no answers here, people. 

On a more serious note, I wish I could tell you that I am both obsessed with and addicted to Jesus. That He consumes my every thought and that all I want is more more more. But in all honesty, I'm not quite there yet. I love Him, I desire Him, I strive to honor Him with my life and with my capitalization of His pronoun, but I am not wholly obsessed. Maybe one way I can get there is to decrease my time with my earthly obsessions and increase my time with Him. And maybe that could be my most lasting, beautiful obsession. 

In conclusion, the first thing I thought of when I read "Obsession" was Calvin Klein's Obsessions for Men which is totally strange since Jeff and I are not fragrance people. 

The end.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

moving. or: an exercise in not freaking out.

So, we're moving to California soon (just thought I'd throw that out there in case someone somehow missed it, as unlikely as that seems), and I am trying hard to trust that God is going to help us get everything together smoothly. I have some moments of lovely, peaceful trust. But other moments, my brain does this:

Figure out how to ship Buster.
Make reservation to ship cars.

Get a new job. 

Work out child care. (Hey, any California Lobsters want to be severely underpaid to watch an adorable Eiley full time? Part time? Hello?) 
Find a place to live that is somehow central to where I work, where Eiley is cared for, and where Jeff works - wherever any of that may be.
Sell any unnecessary stuff here in Virginia.

Determine which moving company to use, making sure they provide storage as well.

Repaint walls of apartment while trying to remember how much we enjoyed having not white walls the whole time we lived here.


Remain calm.

It's funny that I am capable of freaking out so much. It's ridiculous even. God has proven himself faithful over and over to me and Jeff, so why do I think things will be any different this time? Silly human me, stop worrying! I wish, instead, that my mind would Pollyanna up and do this:

We're going to California, where most of my family is, where we have a lot of great friends, where we love our church, and where the weather is beautiful a vast majority of the time. How exciting that I'll get to learn a new job, whatever it might be, and I wonder what great opportunities Jeff will encounter now that he has his degree and is somehow an even better actor than he used to be. Life is sunshine and happiness and unicorns and jelly beans and Lisa Frank stickers!

Okay, maybe some of that was overkill. And maybe you people should pray for me. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

United COO is falling asleep at the wheel or: why never to travel with a toddler, even though it's free

Portland, ME > Houston, TX; Houston, TX > Ontario, CA; Ontario, CA > Portland, ME. Fifteen days, four cities, three weary travelers. Just days after Sofia was able to stand up and walk confidently on her own, we confined her to our laps for torturous travel across the entire country, one corner to the next and back.

All things considered, I'm proud of her for staying mostly chipper and for the amazing ability she has to  bless strangers with her friendly smile and engagement. That said, the trek back, the longest journey, was pretty much pure torture. Here is my evidence that the COO of United has really dropped the ball in actually merging their company with Continental, taking our money without delivering anything but a big old headache.

1) Flight schedule changed. It happens, I realize that. But when you're traveling all day long with a toddler, you have picked your flight schedule with so much thought, care, sweat, and fear, considering napping, feeding, wiggling needs. To login to check in for our flight and see that our very long day was going to be made even longer by a few hours was a big stress.

2) Hanging up on customers calling into customer service. Multiple times in a row. Attempting to change our flight schedule to something more amenable, we got all manner of excuses related to downed computers and lack of digital integration across Continental and United and it took all day to get a better flight, for which they could not even provide us with actually boarding passes.

3) Giving one passenger boarding passes for all three flights, only getting the other passenger to the first of three destinations. It's one thing if the two airlines can't communicate to print each other's boarding passes, but why one person's and not the others?

4) Giving your infant a boarding pass for only one of three flights for your travel. Call me crazy, but I'd like to keep her with me for the whole trip, if that's ok with you. I kinda like her.

5) Flight attendants being full out rude to stressed out mothers. Add to that that I'd been up since 4am and had been up with Sofia twice in the night, I didn't need that woman's tude. Unprofessional.

6) Whizzing down airplane isles so fast that nursing mothers do not have time to move their sleeping babies head from the path of the food cart. Oops, hope I didn't give her a concussion. ?!?!

7) Forcing parents to board a plane and sit there for an hour trying to keep their toddler calmed and contained, only to declare a mechanical failure and de-boarding the plane, making them do it all over again. That's right people, four planes in one day with a one year old. Aren't you jealous?

8) Losing tired, strung out family's luggage, including the car seat the baby is legally required to travel home in.

9) Returning family's luggage, but only after having stolen a few Christmas gifts and baby's first birthday presents out of the bags - cause, you know, they deserved a tip after all the trouble they'd been going through for us all day.

10) Giving angered customers run around on customer service line yet again, claiming problems with the merger. Yeah, I got that, the merger is a headache for us all friends. And it was over a year ago. About time to get your act together.

Yes I did cry through one of these entire flights. But Sofia also did me the graceful act of sleeping through another one of the four legs. Still, I may never fly again. United has ruined what was once a wonderful airline with exemplary customer service (Continental). But to keep this from being nothing but rant, I would like to turn to another company that should serve as an example to these nincompoops as to how to handle customers properly: Amazon.

Kindle has trouble connecting to whisper net. I log onto Amazon.com to find customer support. I'm directed to focus my problem so they can give me the right number. They have me enter my phone number in. Within seconds, my phone rings. I have not had to call, I have not waited on hold, I have not had to enter in any information about myself. The representative knows me by name, knows all my account information, knows the problem I am having and immediately jumps into trouble shooting with me. Once we determine it's really not working, and I'm not just incompetent, he's already jumping into sending me a brand new Kindle [mine was two years old], free shipping, next day, only $40. Its shiny and new and I'm pumped and the entire call took a total of 20 minutes of my valuable time. Gold Stars and Two Claws up Amazon, you rock my world. Will you please provide some tutorials to United?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Review Monday #35.5: response to From Prada to Nada

Last week, Emily reviewed From Prada to Nada out of desperation, apologizing for having no better movies to review with you. I actually kinda enjoyed the film, so she challenged me to write a rebuttal. I was never part of a debate club or anything,  so we'll see how this goes . . .

Counter Argument Number One: I can not disagree with any of your points. How's that for a rebuttal? I would even add a complaint about the title, a clear attempt to ride the coat tails of the success of Devil Wears Prada. That's just lame cheating.

I would just like to expand on point three regarding Camilla's eyebrows: I believe they sculpted her eyebrows the way they did the entire film expressly for the one line where the Edward character makes a reference to her looking like Frida Kahlo.

Frida was clearly the inspiration for Camilla's look, and by that standard, they succeeded - except for the Oompa Loompa-ness - why oh why was she, and her sister for that matter, so orange??

Counter Argument Number Two: There were some major jumps in character and plot development that were just not well lead up to. Sudden changes of heart, inexplicable changes of fortune, it was certainly awkward at points. There was one scene where the girls' Tia's were exclaiming something to the effect of, "oh good, they FINALLY made up!" and I didn't know there was a fight they could have been referring to.

Counter Argument Number Three: Camilla's acting was not terribly impressive in this film. I kept feeling like if she could just get some more air in her lungs, maybe she could deliver her lines without making me feel like she was going to have to fall over and go to sleep right afterwards. When she wasn't speaking, she occasionally managed to convey sincere emotion in a few moments though.

Counter Argument Number Four: Before Emily's post, I didn't pay all that much attention to the make up or even acting, I was more caught up in how much I loved Camilla's outfits. I came away wishing I had that waif-y body type so I could pull off her wardrobe.

BUT, there's a scene where the sisters go to a fancy party. And of course, leading up to it, Camilla's character is picking out what to wear, hoochy-mama little sister thinks she looks like a nun and attempts to find a better outfit. After several dress-changes, she comes out with a big Cinderella-transformation-tada moment in a dress that I could have sworn she might have worn in another scene, to work in. It didn't seem anything different than what she'd been wearing the whole film, which was cool, I liked it, it just didn't quite seem worthy of any "TaDaaaaaas!" Maybe it wasn't even dressy enough for that party. Maybe this is another sub-point for number three.

Counter Argument Number Five: I would like to extra agree with the conclusion your first point eventually worked its way around to. I thought Wilmer was so great in this film. Strong, resourceful, artsy, self-respecting, he made much more sense as a love interest than this guy:

Even HE looks confused as to why she would eventually settle for him. Cause that's what she did, settle. Where as in Prada to Nada, we all agree that girl wizened up and probably didn't deserve how good she got.

"Chica, you know you don't deserve this!"
Counter Argument Number Six: Definitely a few lame cliche East LA references (the low-rider scene made me gag out loud), but also some great ones that showed some of the true color, spirit, and life of the community, like the party, the women cooking together in the kitchen, the murals.

But you know, the more I think about it, I think I actually feel like the film got a little too noble-savage-esque and went a bit far in the direction of "East L.A. is such a charming little neighborhood." It was like they were trying to encourage gentrification. "All the hot white rich guys are buying up these amazing homes in the Bario, get 'em while the gettin' is still cheap!" It was a bit disrespectful to over-romanticize being a member of the working poor class, being taken advantage of by corporate snobs, and constantly having to hide from the INS.

Furthermore, it is perhaps dangerous to suggest that because you have part of a law school degree that as soon as you step foot onto a city bus, you will become the messiah of the Bario, "I'm a law student, if that helps?!" Get over your little savior complex, chica. You need to check your class-privilege.

Meh, I guess I'm a bit mixed and confused on this point.

Counter Argument Number Seven: I love Sense and Sensibility, the book, the movie, I love it all. And I really enjoyed how this movie took that structure and looked at the journey of cultural identity formation for American born Chicana's in a fun, light-hearted way. It was meant to be a chick-flick after all. So maybe I can lay off the cultural critiques a bit and let them have some fun.

Regarding Chanello's pizza, I can not comment. I wish I could. Glad you enjoyed it. ;)

In conclusion, I raise your half a claw, Emily, to one FULL claw. It was some decent lighthearted chick-flick fun, unlike Something Borrowed, which aims to be a fun light-hearted chick-flick and just made me feel gross all over. Please do not see that movie, even, and maybe especially, if you like John Krasinsky. That one gets 2 claws down and does not even deserve its own review.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sabbath Sunday #36

Today, we are spending part of the day at home. Eiley was sick this week, and while we are certain that she is better and not contagious, her cough still makes her sound like the carrier of a lethal virus in an apocalyptic film. Therefore, we're staying away from church, which is a bummer.

Hopefully we'll get out of the house at some point though. I'm a wee bit stir crazy.

Happy Sunday, Lobsters!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Flashback! The fourth.


Spain:  The week of the tests

Well, I didn´t really do much last week except study for tests and then take them (for those of you who didn´t know, I´m actually here for school and not just vacation...although last week was the first time I put any concerted effort into academia since I´ve been here). 

This lack of activity lends me the space with which to properly tell you a little tale of salsa without losing your interest.  Awesome.

On Wednesday night, Seth, Rob, Lilit, Tyler, and I were journeying toward Salsa class.  We had just come from Bible Study and were discussing that week´s topic (what I´m doing here is giving you background so you know that we´re all good, innocent Christian kids).

Upon arrival at the studio, Giovani immediately set us to moving our hips. Soon, he added the full circular movement of the...uhh...pelvic area.  (Don´t be grossed out, people.  You know what I mean.)  After this, he tells us to pair up and pretend we´re in a discoteca.  Seth and I approached each other and awkwardness ensued.  Giovani turned off the lights and demonstrated, with a rather shocked and embarrassed Lilit, how we should be dancing.  It was a bit freaky, he told us not to be shy or embarrassed.  The awkwardness peaked.  Seth and I have become very close friends, but by no means do I want to get freaky/jiggy with him.  I stood there and kind of wiggled like a kid who needs to go to the bathroom and achieved my desired result of laughter, which slightly broke the awkwardidity.  Then Giovani reprimanded me, and this conversation followed (except in Spanish):

"You will never learn to dance well in a discoteca if you can´t even do it in the studio" - Giovani
"Okay, but I don´t even like going to discotecas and I probably never WILL like going to discotecas." - Me
"What do you do if you don´t go to discotecas?" - Giovani
"I don´t know...there´s other stuff to do though." - Me
"Like what?  Do you go to the cafe, drink coffee, and go to bed early?" - Giovani
"Actually, I don´t like coffee." - Me

That was my last salsa class.  I´m not going back.

The end.

Love you all!


Hi Pyg!

Freaky salsa instructor.  :(  So this seth person - is he - special?  And also - will you please grow up and be a writer someday? I will buy lots and lots of copies of every book if you do!  I really would. You would be so amazing. I'll even get more intense about pursuing photography if you will! Cause you are so good and engaging.  Is it a deal?  Great. :)  glad that's settled. 

And also, i continue to love my life where the exciting thing is that i get to watch like 5 episodes of FRIENDS every day :)  I had a really nice - very feminine - weekend. I made chicken/vegetable soup from scratch [broth and everything], i cooked every meal for my roommates, i read jane austin [i LOVE Mansfield park SO much!!], i cleaned, i went shopping and spent too much [but i got a super awesome frame for this amazing oil painting rebekah gave me which looks oh so much better framed], i had a double date which involved chocolate fondu [mmmm!] - [ and also Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind by the way - did you ever see that? Oh my gosh i forgot how good it was!].  And you must be so uninterested.  Around a week from now i'll have more exciting adventures to report i'm sure, as my parents are coming in town this weekend so they can see my new place and spend some time with Manny on his turf instead of theirs.  Should give me something to talk about!  Sorry to bore you so much.  But i love you and i hope you  have recovered from the salsa disaster!


Friday, January 20, 2012

and now it's time for weird toys with eiley grace...

In this segment, we'll join Eiley Grace as she enjoys one of her oddest toys. 

Don't be afraid. While we're 100% certain it would be hanging out with that abomination with the baby head and spider legs if it was in Toy Story, we take solace in knowing that it only seems possessed. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eat snow

Today, I had one goal: shop for groceries. 

Today's list of accomplishments: groceries shopped, snow eaten. 

I guess that makes it a good day, I would like to collect my bonus points now, thank you. 

I've been spending more time than I anticipated meditating on my incapacity to come up with a resolution for this year. I had lots of time to think about it this weekend when we went on this retreat, you know, the one where I was not joining a cult? They provided child care, which meant I had more waking hours away from Sofia than ever before in our lives. It was emotionally distressing at several points, I suffered worse from separation anxiety than she did I think, but it also provided enough space for me to be able to start forming coherent thoughts for the first time in - I don't want to calculate exactly how long. 

One of the retreat exercises included meditating on John 5:1-17 & Isaiah 5:1-7. In summary: Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, God is the gardener. God does the pruning that we might allow the life of Christ to flow through us and bear fruit. When we don't remain in Him, bad things happen. There is a whole lot of meat in these passages, a great deal of high minded, spiritual profound meat. But you know what God needed to teach me this specific weekend? The simple lesson that my life needs some pruning, and by my life, I mean my to-do list. 

I had two majors in college and went to grad school in an entirely different area. I've held jobs in about ten different fields, and have had career aspirations in about five times as many fields. I'm all over the place. On a prideful day, I like to think I just have so much to give the world, that's why I'm so "diversified." But on a day like I had this weekend, I was humbled and had to admit I'm just spreading myself too thin to be worthwhile in anything. I think I'm just grasping for worth, wallowing in insecurity about my identity. I keep thinking I have this figured out, and keep coming back around, face to face with God's truth, that I'm not secure in the right things. 

So I sat down in the still quiet time, sans squealing babe, that has become so unfamiliar. I brainstormed the list of "projects" I feel like I'm juggling these days. In less than ten minutes, I had 30 items on my list. thirty. ugh. No wonder I am always wracked with anxiety/anger/fear/despair when Sofia wakes up from a nap and I haven't had enough time to get "it all" done. I went back through the list, anxiously, but prayerfully, and started making the hard decisions about projects I need to let go of. I could only let go of about half. But when I got honest, there were only about six that were bearing fruit. Only about six that seemed truly of the Spirit. A few others might be worth returning to another day, but I am deciding to focus on these six and work to let go of the other things tugging at my heart/mind/creativity/sense of obligation. Talk about separation anxiety. 

But I'm supposed to honoring God in all I do, I have to remain in Him, I have to humbly submit myself to Him to be pruned. So, we'll see how I manage. Can't say I feel too secure or comfortable in this new zone just yet. But today I kept it to one goal for the day, and that goal got accomplished, and then some. A goal that supports one of my six key projects. So I will accept that today was a good day. Dear Lobsters, if you love Jesus, would you pray with me that I would survive some pruning so that God might bear fruit through me? Thanks much.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dear Zoe, These are the blogs I'm following these days:

In response to your question, a disclaimer: I have recently been spending most of my free internet time on Words with Friends, doing the USA Today crosswords, looking at Orange County jobs/apartments (even though it's a bit too early to plan that stuff), or writing on here (obviously). Also, I don't have a ton of free internet time. But here are some of my favorites.

1. Stuff Christians Like. Us cool kids refer to this as "SCL" and refer to its author like he's a friend. As in "Jon said the funniest thing today..." Basically, he makes painfully truthful and hilarious observations about Christianity in America today. Except on Wednesdays. On Wednesdays he gets serious. It's good every day though. I'd like to tell you my favorite post, but that would be like choosing a favorite child, and we all know that I love Eiley and Buster equally.
2. I occasionally like to read I Hate Green Beans, which is basically just hilarious Bachelor recaps.
3. Hey, I love reading While You Were Napping too! 
4. I think The Dainty Squid is inspirational. I love to look at her bright, happy pictures, but I also just like glimpsing her way of life. She lives in a small town and enjoys going for walks, shopping at thrift stores, and hanging out with her pets. She does fun crafts for a living. I might be the slightest bit jealous of her (but only slightly because her pets are cats and cats are evil), and I wish I could pull off bright purple hair.
5. There are several silly blogs I enjoy, none of which deserves its own bullet point in this list. Cake wrecks is amusing, Not Always Right helps keep me patient at work because most of the people I deal with are smarter than those quoted on that site, and Awkward Family Photos is good for a quick chuckle. 

I'm finding the contrast of our blog lists pretty funny and telling here, Zoe. Especially since our writing is similarly dissimilar. You are thoughtful, pensive, poetic. I. am. silly. It's a lovely balance. 

In conclusion, I do not read the blog I'm about to link to, but I did read this one post and laugh quite possibly more than I've ever laughed at any written words so I thought it deserved a shout out on this post about blogs. Excuse her language and enjoy: http://thebloggess.com/2011/06/and-thats-why-you-should-learn-to-pick-your-battles/

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How I finally became convinced that I do indeed live in New England

There have been lighthouses, lobsters, a moose, and talk of a non-white winter being unthinkable. But without a real good snowy cold blustering through here, I was starting to become skeptical about the true destination our move brought us too. We headed home for Christmas/New Years, home being both Texas and California, only to disappoint our families due to our lack of grand tales of blizzards and ice. I was comfortable heading out for walks daily, things felt familiar like the sound of the woods back home on my grandfather's ranch growing up, and all these claims that us wimpy California kids couldn't take it sure weren't slowing us down.

But on the morning after our return, as soon as I woke up, Manny drew my attention to the window just above our heads, where a beautiful snow was softly falling and beginning to pile up on the tree just outside our bedroom. In the past few days, several other events have taken place that have convinced me that I may, indeed, be living in New England, despite months of skepticism. I dunno though, each of these observations are actually firsts for me. Help me out Lobsters, does it sound convincing? Do I really live in New England now?


1) I witnessed a man [turned out to be a friend even] commuting to and from work via cross-country skis

2) I pulled over off the freeway to attend to a crying baby and noticed ice skaters on a pond through the trees

3) In a short three hour drive, we crossed state lines multiple times [in most of our Texas or California drives, we were able to drive over ten hours without seeing another state]

Just off the highway, we saw a handful of men in the middle of a lake, ice fishing

4) As the sun set, I saw a warm light on a front porch of a house on top of a snowy hill

5) Trees once bursting with color are now bare, emerging forth from snowy embankments

6) The temperature reading for the town we live in read negative 8 this weekend.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Review Monday #35: From Prada to Nada

My sister and I watched From Prada to Nada with the goal of mocking it mercilessly. With a title like that, how could we not? Well, I'm definitely not saying that it was a good film, but there was just something not entirely mockable about it. Maybe we should have checked its rating on Rotten Tomatoes first - 21% is such an awkward rating. It needs to be 10% or below in order to be truly worthy of a bad movie night, and 50% or more to have a chance at being genuinely entertaining. Alas (for you), this was the only film I've watched since MI:4, so you'll just have to read about it. Thoughts:

1. This was based loosely on Sense and Sensibility - I suppose it could be called a modern retelling set in Los Angeles with a Mexican twist. I don't think I would have recognized the Austen connection on my own though. There were too many liberties taken with the story. For example, Wilmer Valderrama plays the Colonel Brandon role. I've always found the essence of Colonel Brandon to be his mature age and quiet strength. Actually, Wilmer did play quiet strength in this film, so maybe they got that right. Also actually, the more I'm thinking about it, the more I think they followed things rather closely. I'm so sleepy.
2. One thing was for sure: The makeup artist on this film needs to find a new career. Camilla Belle looked like a freaking Oompa Loompa. Proof:
You can't really tell from this picture, but I promise I was irritated by the makeup throughout the entire film.
3. Speaking of Camilla Belle, can someone please give her eyebrows an award? They are worthy.
4. Some of the dialogue was painful. Many of the L.A. Mexican cliches were also painful. All of the scenes (two) with the dad in them were painful. I was not sad when he died.
5. Jenna and I had Chanello's pizza while watching this. It was not in any way marred by our viewing experience. So yummy. 

In conclusion, half a claw up. I'd pass on it. I'm sure you were already planning on passing on it based on its title, but it's nice to have confirmation, isn't it? You're welcome.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sabbath Sunday #35

This Sunday, our little family will be on a weekend retreat. I don't know where we're going, what we'll be doing, who we'll be with. I swear I'm not joining a cult. I do hope though that getting away, meeting some new people, and enjoying a new place will be restful and rejuvenating for all of us as we enter into Manny's second semester of teaching.

How are you resting and reviving today, Lobsters?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Best of Long Distance Lobsters: A Flashback of December

We're going to take a little break from our Flashback! series today and just recap some posts from December. I know we're practically half way through January already, but maybe you're having as much trouble as me catching up post holiday, and getting the highlights of your favorite blog [wink] would help you out a bit. 

Most Clicked:

1) Regeneration Trees #4
5) [a big tie for:]

(Obviously it was an exciting month, enjoy catching up on it!)

Some topics to look forward to (or that you've already missed) in January:

2)  Our new Flashback! series on Saturdays
3)   More Cooking with Zoe, including getting a famous chef/writer's attention here - score!
4)   Sofia had her first birthday
5)  More highly controversial Movie Review Mondays

Fill us in if you have some requests for topics you'd like us to write one, or if there are any posts of which you've been particularly fond and would like to see more of.

Thanks for reading Lobsters!