Archive for February, 2007

Well, not necessarily. I’d be hard pressed to identify a Christian way to surf. But here is some Jesus-related and Christian-themed stuff on the web. In honor of the first day of Lent.

What Would Jesus Blog? A blog in the voice of Jesus, if he were a tongue-in-cheek 20-something white guy who keeps up on the college radio scene.

Jesus of The Week The follies of iconography. This week it’s post-it Jesus. (link via what would jesus blog)

Church Sign Generator. You know how I love to hate church marquees. Here I can review prime examples or make my own. (link via what would jesus blog)

Lark News. Fake Christian news, once a month. Hi-larryous.

Bored Again Christian. Podcasts of below-the-radar-but-still-pretty-good music.

I just googled “how to web surf like a Christian” for the heck of it and hit this Christianity on the Web metasite.

Sacred Spaces, the interactive Jesuit prayer site. I go there a lot.

Salt is a monthly e-zine where I publish sometimes.

And my Jesus Camp review just came out on Next Wave, another monthly e-zine.

Of course there’s the old stalwart, Christianity Today.

I dig Image for poetry and fiction and discussion of the arts.

And Sojourners keeps me up to speed on the latest in peace and justice.

I think maybe I spend too much time surfing.  Yet I’ll ask the question anyway: what am I missing?

Which Classic Heroine are you? I came up tied between Maid Marian and Lady Eowyn. (Wow, that’s not the visual image I intended.  Let it stand!)  Thanks to Karen Joy for the link.

Maid Marian

Beautiful and strong-willed, Lady Marian Fitzwalter is the lady love of the dashing outlaw, Robin Hood. She is skilled with a bow, but can match the manners of any lady of the Queen. She waits earnestly for the day when King Richard will return and wed her to Robin.

Which Classic Heroine are You?

The past five or six weeks have served as an experiment in living the life of a contractor.  It sounds kind of cool– you set your own hours, work from home sometimes, see a lot of different people– but my experience has been a strain to say the least.  Some days I’m driving to three different locations, and in Phoenix that’ s no joke.  Coordinating use of the car with Dr. G requires several extra round trips and a lot of patience on his part.  The other day he was at school for 13 hrs because our schedules didn’t overlap enough for him to come home before his evening class.  The same thing will happen again this week.  I used to be an excellent multi-tasker, but my long break put me out of practice and I find myself thinking about science stuff at the teaching place and creative writing stuff at the science place and so on, in a giant circle of misapplied mental energy.  Maybe going from 5 hrs a week of work to 55 wasn’t so smart.

I’m looking forward to the end of this phase, when I’ve got just one or maybe two places to think about. I finally, finally got a decent job offer!  When I told the places I’m working now that I was in the final phases of interviewing for a permanent job,  they scrambled to see if they could put together an offer to keep me, resulting in week or so of existential stress as I weighed my various values  (down time, creative time, family and social and church life, challenge, impact, change, discovery) to determine what would be the best fit.  I couldn’t decide at all.  It was up to God, I told Him.  In the end only one place produced an offer worth taking. I’m going to call them Monday and accept, barring any revelations or earth-shaking happenings in the middle of the night.  My first day will be March 1st.

This blog is not really a good place to talk about work stuff, but I’ll tell you a bit anyway.  I’ll be working on a small team to redesign a bunch of curriculum and certification programs so they fit better with the growing high-tech industry in and around Phoenix.  High-tech stuff!  That’s what my dad does. Education stuff! That’s what my mom does. (Cue twilight zone music here). My resume will continue to look like it belongs to five or six people rather than just one.   Everyone who looks at it says, “Your degree is in what?  Creative Writing?”  I’m interested in adult education and helping people get straight into good jobs.  I haven’t tried that angle before.  The cool thing about getting offered this position is that it came out of failing to get a different job, which paid less and was less interesting.  “I hope you’ll keep me in mind for other openings,” I said to the people.  And they did.

Karen Joy tagged me– a list of popular books. I wish there were an option for things I’ve partially read, or things I read but afterwards wished I hadn’t. Also a mark for books you used to own, but got rid of in the winnowing-before-a-move process. I’m curious as to how this list was compiled. All the Harry Potters but only one Narnia? Two Jane Austens and no Anton Chekhov? “The Bible” as one book? I guess they do sell it that way.

Here are the instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, underline the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk* the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)*
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)*
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire(Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)*
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)*
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon* (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth* (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One* (Bryce Courtenay)

38. I Know This Much is True* (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)

42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)

47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

50. She’s Come Undone* (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife* (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business* (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree* (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)*
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners* (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage* (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule* (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)

87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries* (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness* (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel* (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion* (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance* (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

I tag Tara, Kelsey, and Nerdygirl.

No matter the age or body shape, hair stylists tend to have toned upper arms.  I’ve thought of becoming a stylist just for the side benefit of job-related muscle tone.  But then I remember the three months of Peace Corps training in Benin, where first Dr. G and then most of the other men and some of the women would come to me for haircuts.  They wagered, most likely wrongly, that my handiwork would be more tolerable than that of a local razor-wielding barber who had never seen straight hair before.  I’d usher the victim to an uncomfortable wooden chair and wrap him or her in a standard Peace-Corps-issue polyester sheet with big pink flowers on it.  It was not very breathable so he or she got to feel the sweat trickle down his body for an hour or more while I leaned and squinted, snipped and buzzed, and tried to even things up first in this spot and then in that.  Bits of other people’s hair drifted in the hot air and stuck to my arms.  I’d persevere, feeling guiltier and guiltier as the haircut progressed, and more determined than ever to achieve a decent look.  I don’t know why they kept asking for haircuts after they saw the results on their compatriots.  I personally did not let scissors touch my hair for the whole two years.

So whenever I’m subject to the ministrations of a competent stylist, I feel profoundly grateful. I’ve traveled, however briefly and un-airconditionedly, down the cutting and shaping road, and I know how hard it is to do a good job on the first try.  The other day some young sprite– I guess legally she had to be done with school, but she didn’t look it– listened and tousled and considered, and diligently went to work with scissors and razor cutters, hewing great spews of hair off of my head and onto the floor. Now my hair looks just as long as before, only more ‘not-yet-totally-out-of-it early thirties’ and less ‘yes-I-trim-my-own-bangs early teens’.  It also weighs about a pound less.  When I turn my head to look at something, I turn it a little too fast by accident.  I’m not used to being so lightheaded.  Now that’s a haircut!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!  It’s been eventful.  More details later.

 1.  More job interviews, looking good!

2.  Failed 3-mile, 2-hr, 2500 ft. climb to Quartz peak.  We were on a time limit.

3.  Unfortunate merge attempt by speeding driver two cars back, into our traffic-completely-stopped lane.  Tally:  1 truck totalled, 1 truck severely damaged, 1 person in ambulance with probably minor injuries, 1 sore neck (mine), 1 Subaru somewhat mushed in the back.  *SIGH* 

4.  Dr. G kindly purchased Froot Loops for me.  I heart Froot Loops.  I once wrote a sestina about Froot Loops.  Actually, I like the idea of Froot Loops better than the reality.  They’re so flourescent!  One shouldn’t eat such brightly colored food.  And yet, I do.

5.  Mid-70′s every day.  Mix of sun and rain.

6.  Finally, finally, got the Corpse Flower in the mail.  I ordered it in september.  Yay!

Inspired by Russel Edson:

A woman was collecting snails at work. She had a good-sized pile on her desk when the boss came in.
These snails are all wrong, he said.
They do a good job of sorting and stapling, she said.
They will never do for the presentation, he said.
The woman had to admit he was right. Their big client was a sea albatross who was related to the boss by marriage.
Okay, said the woman. But don’t come running to me when the big client chokes on his mackerel and decides to give his fortune to the union.
You always say that, said the boss.
The snails didn’t say anything. They refilled the stapler and filed themselves under “E” for escargot.

Dr. G considers himself extremely safe in the classroom. His classes are filled with police officers so if anything went down, they’d totally be on it. Whereas a biology professor might have a lot of students who are handy with a pipette but that skill doesn’t go far in an emergency. I am loathe to think what could happen in a literature theory classroom where the most capable students could only quote Stanley Fish at the source of danger.

On the first day of class this semester, Dr. G had a judge in his class. Impressive. He was a little relieved when the judge dropped the course. The last thing you want when you’re teaching is a judge in the front row judging you.

Dr G. still has to fear the occasional bout of bad student writing, though nothing as terrifying as this has yet crossed his path:

“Our societies flaws and errors are a direct result of our own ignorant contraception’s, and preconceived connotations. Being that there have been no striking increases in overall handgun-associated deaths, or handgun interrelated crime deaths within any diverse subgroups, blacks, females, teenagers and young adults, one is able to deduce that handguns are becoming more and more of a less concern in our society.” (Snagged from Total Drek)

I’ve temporarily reached my saturation point for visual arts. Friday we did the Phoenix art-walk; Saturday, we checked out Jerome, a mining boom town-turned ghost town-turned hippie artist hang out- turned Sausalito-esque gallery tourist trap. Then we headed over Mingus Mountain to Prescott. Today was church and Superbowl festivities. Usually we just stay home or hike in the park behind our condo.

Our Friday night date got off to an exciting start when the guy at the gas pump next to us guzzled an entire beer while his tank was filling. Dr. G. was in the store and I was trying not to make eye contact. I’m not totally sure it was a beer, but it was definitely a dark glass bottle. And the guy was making occasional dry-heave noises and trying to get my attention. Some cops pulled up in the parking lot, and I reported him before we drove away. I felt like a tattletale. What if it was just fancy rootbeer? But I figured I’d better err on the side of caution. Maybe he needed help or maybe he would have accidentally killed someone.

The arts scene in Phoenix is of the down-at-the-heels, trying-really-hard variety. There are a lot of people in ripped tights and spiked dog collars hanging around. I’m always startled by the variety of creative visions and their execution. My favorite show was textile art– quilting with various natural elements incorporated into the stitching: cicada husks, eggshells, bird beaks, beetles, hair. Wow. Visual arts tend to inspire my poetry more than literature or music, and after a few hours of wandering in and out of galleries and studios I felt wired and expansive. And sad. There’s a lot of loneliness and alienation in the world and it tends to show itself in art.

Jerome was more upscale and crafts-based. There was one whole store devoted to fancy kaleidoscopes, and I got dizzy on fake flowers and glass cabochons twirling beneath my gaze. I got dizzy from the town, which zigzags up the face of a mountain; there are views of the red rocks from almost every building, and we were up high enough to be in the snow and pines. Nice!

One bad thing about seeing lots of beautiful ceramic dishes and funky handmade furniture is that it makes me unhappy with what I’ve got. Granted, our furniture is still 90% low-end, beat-up Ikea stuff, but I do love nice, interesting things. I wish I could afford to support artists and craftspeople more. there are just too many other things that are a priority. I’d love to have a big meandering house where one space is devoted to artwork related to doors and windows; another space devoted to the natural world; and a third devoted to non-representational art. And of course someone else to come and clean it.

I doubt the credentials of this test, but it is fun to figure out.

Intelligence test

And, if you are not sure how cool you are, this is a quick way to check