Week #52: L’année de fin*

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln

This week has been full. (It seems somewhat appropriate since it gets two extra days (I’m lumping in the Sunday & Monday for a nice round 52 (instead of Week# 52.285714 (can you tell how much I love using parentheses?)))). Full of mini AN52 things (julienned carrots, explosive drinks & hurriedly—but unsuccessfully—trying to finish this post at the library before they closed), happy little surprises & the appropriate year-end retrospection.

Looking back over all of the things this year surprised me. There were some really cool things I did that I’d forgotten. I’d have to say that some of my favorites were going curling, car buying & selling, crazy foods, colored hair, Pride & Prejudice marathons, cute, beardy men at the tree climbing competition & dressing up for midnight premieres.

While completing this blog post in itself would give me my new thing (I’ve never done something for a whole year with only myself as motivation), I actually did do a new thing. In the past, my favorite Christmas movie has been Elf, which is a bit silly since it doesn’t have anything to do with the real meaning of Christmas. But it’s funny & loud (like me) & very quotable (also like me). Plus, all of the claymation Christmas ‘classics’ freak me out (those little things are so creepy!); I think A Christmas Story is awful & I’m not a huge Chevy Chase fan. But on Saturday, I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. I wasn’t a huge Peanuts fan growing up & my interaction with it was limited to the Saturday funnies. But I really enjoyed it, especially the sweet emphasis on Jesus’ coming & birth.

So that’s it—a new 52! Thank you so much to all of you who have journeyed with me & encouraged me in this. I don’t know that I’m a totally new person, but that’s good ’cause I’m already super awesome & now I can add a ton of new experiences to make my life a little more epic. May your 2013 be full of awesome epicness!!!

Thumbs up for rock & roll—& 2013!!

*French for “the year’s end”. Je suis américain, but I like different languages :)

Week #51: Bedtime bivouac

“Let the tent be struck.” — Robert E. Lee

I used to drive a Ford van. It was a big green, gas-guzzling machine, but I loved it. She was almost like an institution of my life; ‘the girl with the van,’ that was me. I could haul people & things & even used the van for sleepovers & camping once or twice.

Come to think of it, I’ve slept in some weird places. Not only in the van, but on a trampoline & in church pews. What can I say? I’m good at sleep. But I still haven’t slept in a blanket fort—you know what’s coming up next—till last night.

Le fort

My brother & I used to make sofa cushion forts & play all sorts of games in our little world, but I think Mom always had us put things away before bed. I felt like a kid as I was putting the blankets together, creating a little cave with blankets & chairs. Layered blankets, pillows & my bear completed the inside of my den. Crawling inside, I let my sleepiness do it’s thing. I woke up a few times throughout the night trying to find a comfortable position & stay warm. When I finally emerged I realized why people don’t usually do this after the age of ten. My back was kicking me & muttering doubts as to my decision-making skills.

But would I do this again? Heck yes! I like caves/homey holes. Not nasty, dirty, wet holes, but comfortable ones. So next time I’ll put an air mattress in it or just build it over my bed :)

Week #50: Half & halfling

“Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. ” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Right now I have an insistent headache & my body is craving sleep, so you’ll forgive me if I make this short. Like maybe 4’11”. I think the last time I was that height, I was eight years old. I don’t remember exactly, but I do know I’ve always been on the tall side of average or the short side of tall. Why then would I choose to portray a hobbit (or halfling) for this week’s thing (who typically are about half the size of a normal person)? Mainly—because I can!

My half birthday was yesterday & happened to coincide with the release of The Hobbit. In true hobbit-y fashion, I decided a party with friends & suitable dress was necessary. We were going to the midnight premiere (which I’d never done) & as previously stated, I dressed up like a hobbit (which I’d also never done). I have honestly been planning this since January, so one might think I’d be a little better prepared. Ha. Hahaha. I got everything pulled together the night before & that’s good enough for me.

Starting a three-hour movie at midnight in a roomful of strangers is a brave thing, but it’s also a beautiful thing. There were a bunch of other people dressed up & the comradery & the creativity—ah! Such a happy thing. Now, I am not a night owl at all & had we been at home, I would have been sleeping through this great movie. But since we were in public beholding such grand epicness, I didn’t really have a problem at all. Being on the cusp of tiredness, my brain made everything feel bigger somehow, like a kid watching Star Wars for the first time. I felt like I was being completely washed over by the story & filled full with the moment.

Now that I’ve made it to week #50, half of a hundred, I wish I could say something epic & inspiring to match this experience, but all I really have to say is, “Good morning!”

Week #49: Crazy Christmas

“…I realized that tradition is priceless…[It] doesn’t have to be logical; it only has to emphasize the light of Christ & His everlasting love.” ― Lori Copeland

People do strange things. Like this guy, who has come up with another way to put his hood up. Or this parent who took their toddler in a shark costume to the beach.

Or these people. Seriously.

But one of my favorite weird things that people (& yes, I’m including myself in that group) have done is the Internet. After the invention of this instant connection to people across the globe, vast sums of information & knowledge, what do we do? Anthropomorphise cats who communicate in ‘lolspeak’ & who plot our demise as we’re distracted by their adorableness. One of the newest incarnations of this is Grumpy Cat, a perpetually frowning feline who just wants the world to burn. Since it is the Christmas season, Grumpy Cat contributors had to celebrate in their own special way:

http://www.dumpaday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/grumpy-cat-its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-christmas.jpg & http://animalshak.com/files/2012/11/74782_10151260551658605_1558933715_n.jpg

Like I said, people do strange things—& the holidays catalyze this tendency into an avalanche of cheery traditions & manic celebrating. One such tradition is the Penguin House. For some reason, one house puts up what seems like hundreds of Christmas-themed inflatables to celebrate Christmas. (It’s called the Penguin House because the majority of these blow-ups have at least one penguin on them.)

Paulie's Penguin Playground - Christmas display in Olathe, Kansas

Even though it’s a local tradition, I’ve managed to make it through 5 Christmases without visiting. But last night, a few friends & I trekked through a drizzling December evening to this penguin-y winter wonderland. Wandering around, dodging Santas on motorcycles & getting scared by elves popping out of chimneys, it struck me that Christmas is about joy. For me, that joy comes from celebrating the birth of my Savior, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be accented by sharing strange traditions with the people I share my life with. Sometimes we can get tripped up in all of the conventions of something, when we should remember that birthday cake isn’t the reason for the hullabaloo, but another way of saying, “Today is special”. I just might be adding a visit to the Penguin House to my yearly Christmas customs & I hope that whatever spells special to you, you can enjoy it this year, while remembering the source of joy that fuels all our crazy fun :D

Week #48: True lies

” If you know the enemy & know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu

 

When I was little, I was a bit of a pathological liar. I would always tell my friends that my dad had a house with 100 rooms & that I rode snapping turtles in ponds & all sorts of things. I’m still a creative thinker, but now those energies are directed in more theatrical ways. I’d like to think that I’ve become pretty honest with myself, but there’s still one area where I get caught up.

Fear. I’m probably the easiest person to scare you’ll ever meet (I’ve scared myself trying to scare someone else before). But I’m not really talking about the “Ah!” sort of moments. I’m talking about the deep down, inside yourself fears. I’ve never really acknowledged those things in my life that really make me worry in my soul (much less shared those worries with all of the millions who read my blog ;) )

These are the biggest fears in my life right now:

  • Living in insincerity. Acting without really meaning it.
  • That I’m choosing my own comfort over God’s path for me.
  • Growing old without romantic love or choosing a husband for the wrong reasons.
  • Losing the best parts of who I am because it’s easier to be scared.
  • Waking up one day to find myself not really connected to anyone beyond a superficial level.

I know that God will get me through all of these & bring me to where my life glorifies Him. I know it because I’m His & He has thoroughly trounced & defeated Satan, who is the master of lies. But the thing about fear is that it’s not rational & I’m not great at focusing on that fact. So hopefully, through writing those down I can remind myself that trusting in God is really all I have to do, because He’s already won.

Week #47: Life & death

“Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.” – William S. Burroughs

I found out today that I’m kind of related to Nathan Hale, not by blood, but by an aunt’s cousin’s way back great-great-something. If you’re not familiar, he’s the guy during the Revolutionary War who said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Now, I think that life is one of God’s most valuable gifts to us (after relationship with Him & our eternal souls) & I’m thankful every day for the opportunity to use it well. I’d like to think that AN52 has helped in this. I’ve had to do things intentionally & think about them more than I typically would. Yay, the power of blogs!

I’m a fan of survival scenarios, seeing how people find ways to work a living out of difficult circumstances. But, let me clarify by saying that I like success stories—more Swiss Family Robinson than Alive. I don’t know what I would do if I found myself in a Donner Party-esque situation, but if it’s between me & Bambi, you know that sucker’s going down. Or so I say. I’ve never killed an animal to eat it, but now my hands smell like oranges & death.

I bought a lobster on my way home. As I carried the box up to the register, I felt like I’d won a fish at the fair—excited, responsible, tense—probably not a good relationship with something you’re about to kill. Logic & sentiment tossed back & forth in my brain. Who am I to take this life? This is what this lobster is here for. Why did I name him Albert? I set Albert on the table as the macabre opera of deadly preparations unfolded before him. He didn’t blink an eye (really, he had no eyelids). As the water boiled, he & I communed & I came to sense his resignation to his fate. (This is probably reading waaay too much into an animal’s last moments, but I’m unabashedly being Anne Shirley here.)  So I did it; I threw him in the water, headfirst & took his life. Then I ate him. The meat was alright, but not the greatest smell, so I chased it with an orange.

I’m not planning on directly killing any more animals soon, but at least now I know if I’m ever stranded in the wild, I can survive by preparing myself a lobster dinner ;)

Week #46: A novel tea

“It’s always tea-time.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

As I write this post, my friend’s dog is sitting next to me. He’s a big black ball of sweetness who likes to good-naturedly crush internal organs as he clambers up to join you on the couch. I love him to pieces, but he’s not exactly the picture of elegance. His farts are silent, but deadly lethal weapons. His favorite pastime is destroying stuffed animals & decorating the room with a blizzard of their insides.

In a lot of ways, I’m like that dog (I have a whole “if people were only cats or dogs theory”). I’m bubbly, good-natured, hazardous & somewhat inelegant. Growing up, I’ll admit that I had a few girly phases. However, the majority of my youth was spent in a wild, tomboy-ish manner—which has bent my thoughts around certain girly traditions. Like manicures (yick!), heels (blech!) or tea parties (meh.)

The same friend who owns said dog is the exact opposite of that. She’s the über girl, decked out with bows & bracelets, heels that click as she sashays through shopping marathons. She was the one who had a tea party bridal shower today. Other than little  tea parties I threw when I was little (small food has been a long-time fascination), I had never previously been to a tea party before. It was fun & girly & I was too busy running around as the “Official Photographer” to actually drink tea (oh, the irony). But I did get the bride tea & eat finger sandwiches & dress up, so that counts in my book, so bottoms up!

06

Nov

Weeks #44 &45: Double time

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”–C.S. Lewis

There are seven weeks left in this year. Seven AN52 things. I have ideas for a few of the weeks, but this is the final countdown & it’s making me nervous. There’s a sensation of simultaneously straining uphill at the end of a marathon & tumbling down a mountain at the head of an avalanche. I don’t like it. But I am proud of all that I’ve accomplished this year & a strong finish will just be the ring on the Hobbit (which I’m super excited for, by the way!).

So one step at a time, soldier on, stiff upper lip & all that, wot, wot! Last week (#44), I completed my AN52 thing on time, but hadn’t gotten to the post before the week expired. Stella the guitar has been a part of my life since I was 14. She & I have had great times together & written a lot of silly half-songs. However, I am ashamed to say that I’ve only had the strings changed twice & never once by me, until—you can see what’s coming—last week! With my boss’s help, I changed two guitar strings (& broke a string & a bottom peg).

Since it’s the election year & week & day, no prizes for guessing what I did today. Though I’ve voted in a presidential election once before via mail-in ballot, this was my first time at the presidential polls. & I’ve found the key for the perfect voting experience is three-fold. 1) Get up ridiculously early to beat the lines & long estimated wait time. 2) Grab a McMuffin to leisurely enjoy while waiting in line. Proceed to scarf down in 4 minutes (due to hunger & actual wait time). 3) Go with a friend. Friends make everything better. Et voilá—merry Mc-vote-y magic!

Stay tuned folks, for seven more weeks of mayhem, homestretches & crazy inane avalanches!

27

Oct

Week #(42 &) 43: Re-new 42

“Okay. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, & everything is…42.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Everyone’s flawed, but the trick is to recognize that & how our lives won’t explode if we fall to those flaws every now & then. One of mine is that I tend to build things up & go all or nothing until I burn out. Or something doesn’t turn out how I thought it would, so I get all deflated like a busted puffer fish. Like someone said they’d give me the answer to everything & it’s 42. That was how I felt last week when I made it to Week #42 of my AN52 experiment with a 99.9% success rate, only to crash & burn.  Since you all wait with bated breath for each week’s thing, I hope my missing last week did not cause any one to pass out. I knew I could come up with something that had happened in the course of the week, but I didn’t think that was fair to either of us. So for Week #43, as penance & challenge, I did a new thing every day (with two on Sunday). Here’s the run-down, enjoy!

Sunday: I made Oreo Nutella truffles (recipe here). They actually turned out alright; I guess even I can’t mess up Nutella & Oreos. As secondary thing, I purchased a $5 Starbucks gift card in one Starbucks & took it to the drive through of another Starbucks for the barista to give to the next customer. Why the somewhat confusing location switch? I was shy to have whoever got it see me :/

Monday: I got knitting needles & a ball of yarn. 5 days & 10% of a scarf later, I have a new favorite hobby.

Tuesday: Apparently the Swiss also make really good fire starters. I used my Swedish FireSteel & flint to make fire. & while I only successfully burned toilet paper, I’d like to point out that where there’s toilet paper smoke, there can be real wood fire as well :)

Wednesday: There needed to be something crazy thrown into this plethora of things & I occasionally do really weird things for my job, so by their powers combined, I wrote an article title on a panty liner for part of the spread design. I’ve never done that before. It’s the oddest normal thing I’ve ever done.

Thursday: Let’s just say that by Thursday I was feeling the burn. I decided to try a social experiment where I left a dollar out on the end of the table I was sitting at, far enough away where it wasn’t clear that it was necessarily mine. I wanted to see if people would react to it & if so, how—let me know it was there, take it, etc. Below are my secret agent notes, which I will take no offense if you skip reading. *You can read the cliff notes one sentence summary below the italicized text.

7:45. Working the social experiment. I felt like a ninja as I inconspicuously slipped my iTouch & its accompanying dollar from my pocket. Utilizing my sweet spying skills—i.e. peripheral vision and reflections—I kept an eye on both as I waited for my drink. When I return, I casually pick up my iTouch & arrange my bags to block my view of the dollar. The side of Starbucks that I was sitting on was fairly full for the small location. Two pairs of friends (both female), & one single man & woman were spread out in the area. None of them look shady, but appearances can be deceiving. I don’t think anyone will steal a dollar, so I’m mainly waiting to see if anyone notices & mentions something. The woman has already left. I wonder if any of the workers will mention; there are three guys, one with a rather nice beard, but they seem to be staying behind the counter. Now, I’m going to put my iPad up on my purse so I can justify having it right in front of me on the table. It’s 9:04. 2 more girl pairs and one couple have come in. Only one of the original pairs is still here (the one with the ThinkGeek laptop stickers). But no one has mentioned anything. I’ve moved my purse to try to knock the dollar onto the floor, but it didn’t work. One of the employees came by sweeping the floor, but no luck. Guess that the world is full of good people or no one was tempted enough or no one cared. Mission accomplished?

*No one paid any attention to me or the dollar.

Friday: I currently don’t remember if I’ve been to a surprise party before (though I know I’ve never been the subject of one *hint, hint*), but I think I’ve participated in one. This thing still counts though, because I had never been the second wave at a surprise party before. My friend Kylie recently graduated from culinary school & a few other friends & I traveled to Wichita to surprise her. Her family set everything up & were the first to surprise her when she got to the house. After she’d been there about a minute, we jumped out of the hallway & let me tell you, it was like Christmas. If you can ever extra surprise someone who’s already happy & grateful, I highly recommend it.

Saturday: Today felt a bit like a microcosm of this whole experience. I had a brilliant idea for my Halloween costume & all I really needed was a pair of coveralls. I thought to myself, How hard can it be to get a junky old pair of mechanic’s coveralls?—I know of a thrift store back home that has a whole row of them. How wrong I was. Five stores, three phone calls, several miles, a couple cases of mild anxiety & one cousin’s offering of nice, new coveralls (& therefore not good for ripping up for a costume) later, I finally found kind of what I was looking for. At a normal store. For 20 bucks. This costume is worth it, but I’ve never had to ask so many people about coveralls (or gotten so many weird looks) in my whole life.

What did I learn from this week’s gauntlet of things? Don’t sweat the small stuff & don’t underestimate the power of 42.

27

Oct

Week #41: Days of yore

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” — Søren Kierkegaard

The idea of nostalgia will always be linked in my mind with a really badly designed, ’90s-esque envelope I saw once. It had flowers, lace & pearls interspersed potpourri spilled across a table. & horrible typography. Irony arises, however, because I’m a pretty nostalgic person (for everything but that hideous envelope). Objects have lives & their histories make them intriguing. People have stories & the tales they tell are intriguing. Places have romance & that makes ‘em—you guessed it—romantic ;)

This week was filled with multiple multiples, all on a nostalgic bend. I went to the Renaissance Festival twice this week. I’ve never gone twice in one week (or wore two different costumes for each). It was enjoyable to be able to go with multiple friend groups, but all of that work came with a slew of other activities & requirements, & I’m plumb tuckered. A second thing that I’ve never done before is watch 3 of the 4 Pride & Prejudice movie common versions. I watched the 1980 BBC version, the 1996 A&E (Colin Firth/5-hour) version, & the 2005 (Kiera Knightley/epic) version within 2 days. I’ll admit that’s rather fanatical, but to any Austen fan who can do so, I highly recommend it. The nuances & story choices made in each of the separate films illuminated aspects I never noticed of the overall story. Like a kaleidoscope, each shifting lens throws a different, beautiful picture into view.

While the somewhat brash & in-your-face ‘history’ of the Ren Fest & Austen’s subtle Victorian history don’t line up, taking a moment to live in them now is one of one of life’s little gifts <3

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