January 4, 2010

Favorites of 2009

Originally I was going to do a whole series of favorites from 2009...but I'm a slacker. So I'll just make a list of random favorites and call it a day. Because I love lists and could make a list for just about anything in the world.

Favorite Movies in No Particular Order:
Up, Where the Wild Things Are, (500) Days of Summer, Taken, The Brothers Bloom, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Movies I Wish I Had Seen in 2009 But Will Wait Until They're on DVD:
Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, The Princess and the Frog, Invictus, The Blind Side, District 9, Moon, Whip It, Adventureland, Sherlock Holmes, The Informant!

Best Guilty Pleasure Movie:
New Moon

Favorite Album bought this year:

Laura Gibson, Beasts of Seasons

Other Great Albums from this Year:

Andrew Bird, Noble Beast; K'naan, Troubador; The Decemberists, Hazards of Love; Lisa Hannigan, Sea Sew; Noah and the Whale, The First Days of Spring; Patrick Watson, Wooden Arms; Sam Amidon, All is Well; Horse Feathers, House With No Home; Regina Spektor, Far; Department of Eagles, In Ear Park

Favorite Single:
Stillness is the Move, The Dirty Projectors

Favorite Road Trip:
Visiting Carla and Donny in Georgia
Runner up is visiting Virginia early this year to see college friends--so much laughter.

Favorite (and only) Vacation:
Hawaii with Meredith to visit Josh, Val and Kristen

Favorite new Friend:

Maddie (Daniel and Amanda's dog--she's scared of everyone except about seven people in the world and I'm one of them)

Favorite Fiction Book:
The Kite Runner, by Khalid, Housseini (didn't come out this year, but the best I read this year)

Favorite Non-fiction Book:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller

Favorite New Show:

Favorite Old Show:
Lost (Cannot wait until February 2)

Favorite New Addiction:
Twitter (tiffany_dorrin)

Favorite Daily Web Read:
The Pioneer Woman--She brings out the country girl in me. It's also refreshing to read a website that is full of optimism, humor and really great recipes.

Favorite Blogs Because I Can't Pick Just One:
(Limited to those I began reading this year)
A Cup of Jo
For Me, For You
Bryan Allain
Color Me Katie

December 19, 2009

My Brain is Going Soft

I don't know if it's because I haven't had a full time job in more than seven months, but I think I'm losing brain cells at a faster rate than is normal for someone my age. Or maybe it's because I recently read The Twilight Saga twice in less than two weeks (don't judge).

Either way, here is the evidence that my brain is going soft:

Exhibit A

A few months ago I started working part time at a retail store selling Christian and Christian-themed products. A few weeks into the job I got dressed for work and sat down at my computer--I'm sure to read something very important. Like trivia about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Rabbit trail: The boy who played Charlie is now a veterinarian and lives in Texas). Under the desk I had my pair of black flats for work, and the blue and white patterned shoes I wore to church that morning. When it was time to leave, I slipped on my shoes and went to work. A few hours later I got home, took off the shoes and for the first time all day, actually looked at my shoes.

One was black and the other was blue and white patterned. Yeah.

What's particularly ridiculous about this is that the shoes don't even fit the same. The black pair is loose and slides on and off easily, like fake leather often does. The blue and white pair are a smidge too small and made of canvas. And did I mention that one is black and the other blue and white?

Exhibit B
I just played Text Twist online and couldn't think of half the words for the game. This is a small thing, but in college I rocked that game out like it was my job.

Exhibit C
Tonight I decided I wanted to watch a movie that would warm the cockles of my heart. I pop open my DVD player and take out the disc that's already in there. But I don't own the DVD that's in the player--Netflix does. Which is fine, except that I supposedly already sent back this particular DVD to Netflix. But no, I did not. I sent back my DVD to Netflix. Netflix is now the proud owner of an extra Psych disc.

I called Netflix and the nice young man I spoke to said there's nothing they can really do, but he credited my account $10. So here's my question: Who out there has a DVD burner I can use to make a new disc for the first four episodes of Psych, season 3?

I think I'll start taking Gingko Biloba and doing crossword puzzles.

October 13, 2009

Dear Hiring Personnel: New Life Goal

I hope that at the end of this phase in my life, I come away with a lot of new-found wisdom. People will ask me a question and I'll pause for a second, look away at a distant point only I can see, and then quietly and deliberately say something sage. They'll be in awe and wonder how someone can go from being a girl laughing at Wayne's World, to a woman laughing at Wayne's World and saying such wise things.

I have, however, already learned a very valuable lesson from the last five months. I have since found a new life goal. I have a dream--something to work toward and strive for. It is thus:

After I find a new job, I hope and dream that I will never, ever, ever have to write another cover letter in my life. Ever.

I don't particularly agree with a lot of things about how the business world is run (Don't get me started on the fact that I can't wear Chacos at 99% of the jobs out there), but how people are hired is the worst of it all. Basically, the cover letter is pointless and yet still required. Here's how my mind works when faced with the prospect of writing yet another cover letter:

Sigh. Another cover letter. Okay, so I'm supposed to make myself sound good and sell my abilities. I'm a writer, so you'd think this was easy, except I'm not a business writer. Summing up the whole of my skill and abilities in three strict paragraphs is stifling. And I can't even use sarcasm. But I need to catch their eye with this letter. How do I do that? Every person is different--some hiring personnel might like someone who throws off the chains of a normal cover letter format, while others may insist on strictly adhering to the three paragraph layout. AND YOU NEVER KNOW WHICH TYPE YOU'RE DEALING WITH.

Also, what's with companies posting a job listing but not telling you who they are? Or who you're addressing? If I were applying to a design firm, that would certainly be different than if I were applying to work with real estate agents. But I often don't know. All I know is that they need an assistant.

WHY ALL THE SECRECY? Do they think it's cute? Coy? Maybe it makes them seem mysterious, like I'm applying to be the assistant for a CIA spy, thus making me want to apply even more. Because who wouldn't want to be the assistant for a spy who wears dark suits every day and can kill people 37 different ways?

But no, I apply for these jobs and spend 20 minutes trying to sell myself in three paragraphs, only to get an email saying one of the following:

A) Thanks for applying, but this position is filled.
B) Thanks for applying. Please fill out this questionnaire, so we can send you information on how you can earn $5,000 a month from home!
C) Nothing. Ever. They never send an email and I'm left with the feeling of rejection that isn't even acknowledged with a "We got your application."

And so, after months of pointless job applications and writing more cover letters than I care to think about, I have a new dream. A dream of throwing off the confines of cover letters. First, though, I'll go apply for more jobs, sell myself in three paragraphs, and sell my dignity and creativity to The Man so I can get a steady paycheck to pay my bills.

But at least I have a goal, right?

September 19, 2009

30 Second Ramblings: Sale Items

A few weeks ago I started a series called 30 Second Rants, for those rants that are shorter and don't take a full-fledged blog entry to explain. Now I'm going to start a 30 Second Ramblings series for those thoughts that are too long for Twitter, but too short for a full blog entry.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a sale item must tell her friend about the deal she procured. This is especially true with clothes. As soon as she receives a compliment about the clothing item or accessory, she feels the need to let her friend know what a great deal she got.

“I love that shirt! I've been looking for a turquoise shirt but everything is either ugly or too expensive!” says friend.

“Thanks! You'll never guess how much I paid for it. It was originally $49.95 at Banana Republic. Guess how much I paid? $9.95!” replies wearer.

You see, men hunt for animals they can brag about (“I was out for three hours and didn't see one deer. The next day I saw three in less than 20 minutes, including the ten-point buck I shot. I'm gonna put him in the den beside the buck I got last year.”) and women hunt for deals. The thrill of the hunt for that perfect pair of shoes to match the blue top you got on sale at Anthropologie.

By the way, the other day I got a ridiculously cute top at Anthropologie for $19.95, originally $98! Booyah!

September 2, 2009

A Ph.D in Marriage Analysis

I should find a university that will let me develop my own special doctorate program. When I finish the work, I'll have a Ph.D in “Marriage Analysis.” I'd be an expert in watching my married and dating friends and learning about how different couples interact with each other, other couples and single people. What will make this program unique is that all of the doctoral candidates will be single. Singles watching couples. Bye-golly it's brilliant!

One of the largest parts of my study would focus on friendships. I'd study how couples make new friends and how they interact with old friends. My fear, though, is that the conclusions to this study would make a lot of couples angry or offended.

I read an article on Relevantmagazine.com the other day about singles and the Christian community. The bottom line is that single people (meaning not married or dating anyone) are often left out of the loop of friendship with couples or families. I don't mean being acquainted with each other and you all exchange “How are you?” or chit chat about the weather. I mean true and lasting friendship. The kind where hearts are laid on the line, advice is exchanged, and struggles are shouldered together.

The common behavior/reaction is that as soon as people pair off, they suddenly feel the need to only spend time with other couples. I can understand this to a certain extent―another couple gives each half someone to talk to. The man has someone to talk to, the woman has someone to talk to. The result is that the wife only hangs out with her female friends when her husband is having a guy's night. Rarely do the three of them hang out together.

This is not always the case, of course, but the rare exception is usually with someone who was friends with one or both halves of the pair before the coupling. So the girl's childhood best friend makes the cut. The guy's college roommate is okay to hang out with. But the new neighbor who is single will never become more than a casual acquaintance. Or if they do become a good friend, it will only be with half the couple, not both people.

I'm not saying a man should become best friends with the girl next door while his wife goes to make friends at the local truck stop. The bottom line is that single people benefit from spending time with couples or families and couples benefit from single people. The most obvious benefit is that it creates diversity. Diversity of experience, viewpoints, opinions and so on. Single people can learn a great deal about personal sacrifice from a married person, while a married person can learn a great deal about the importance of not relying on a person (like a spouse) to completely define who you are. (In other words―don't close yourself off from the world so that your spouse is your only friend.)

The bottom line is that I believe my study would conclude that the segregation between couples and single people is unhealthy for both sides. And yet it is more common than not for couples to disappear from the lives of their single friends. The fault lies with both parties, but that doesn't matter right now. What matters is that if we are to be people of depth, that depth should be carved from the experiences of many people, and not just those who are like us or who are in the same stage of life as us.

August 25, 2009

30 Second Rants: Inane Opinions

I'm what some would call opinionated. Okay. Fine. I'm incredibly opinionated and have one for just about everything. I know this is unusual, so I don't mind that most people don't have an opinion about every little thing. Or if they have an opinion, they don't necessarily feel the need to share it with everyone.

Here's my rant, though: People who only have opinions about the most pointless and trivial things. Like Facebook, Twitter or whether Seinfeld is a good TV show. I have an account with Twitter and enjoy reading the updates of others immensely. What burns my biscuits is when people who never give a second thought* to genocide in Darfur or health care reform have an opinion about how pointless Twitter is. Maybe Twitter isn't stopping wars or ending world hunger, but what's the harm? If you're going to use your time and brain power to argue about something, why not leave Twitter alone and stand up for something that matters?

*I don't mean they just think genocide is bad or that everyone should have health care, I mean they've actually read about it or have an informed opinion about what should be done to solve these, or any, crises.

August 20, 2009

In West Philadelphia Born and Raised

My paternal grandparents used to live in New Jersey, close enough to Philadelphia that you could see the city's skyline. I don't remember much about visiting them, but I remember a few things. This includes the pretzels, that root beer was available at every restaurant (unlike in the South, although it's becoming more common) and Friendly's restaurant.

One time we spent the week with them and did the touristy things around Philly. Again, I don't remember a whole lot, other than the buildings were tall and the Liberty Bell was small.

Philadelphia, like many large cities, often has a bad rap. I've heard it called Filthydelphia, among other things. But where they're lacking in some areas, Philly makes up for it in murals.

Graffiti is found in cities large and small. During the last several years, artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey have taken it mainstream and for many it has become a legitimate form of art.

So Philadelphia went about their problem with graffiti differently than most other large cities. In 1984 they established the Mural Arts Program. Rather than try painting over all the graffiti in the city, they embraced the idea of the city being full of blank canvases. Each year they work with communities all over the city and bring together artists that would have normally just created illegal art. Instead, they "provide opportunities for artists with a variety of skills to work together to create murals."

They now have more than 2,800 murals all over the city. And now we come to the reason I began this post.

One of their newest projects is named "A Love Letter for You." Throughout August, artists will paint rooftops and walls along Market Street from 63rd to 45th. The murals will be seen best from the elevated train.

Each of the murals will be words of love: "words of romance, your thoughts of relationships and your ideas of what love truly is. Comforting or troubling, passionate or past tense, even if it's 'hate to love' or 'love to hate'."

Sometimes I look around at what sort of art is being produced or becoming popular, and I wonder how long it will be before all art becomes easy-to-swallow nuggets of sugar-coated drivel. Then I dig a little deeper and look past what's on TV or the radio and realize that real art is still being made. Whether it's from the musician who will never make it to the radio or the photographer who will only ever be seen by their friends. I find art that took thought and comes from an imagination unhindered by what the world will like. Art that is beautiful even if I don't understand what the artist is saying.

For more information about the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, go here. And for info on the love letter project, stop by this blog.