Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book #12: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My mom bought this book for me after reading it herself, and even though it's technically a young adult book (and I usually shrink away from those books in horror - I will never, ever read a Twilight book, no matter how "Edward looks at Bella!"), it was so, so good.

Nobody Owens (nicknamed "Bod") literally lives in a graveyard with his ghostly adoptive parents. His actual family was killed by the mysterious Jack of All Trades when he was a toddler, and he is now under the protection of the residents of the magical graveyard. Unfortunately, Jack hasn't forgotten the kid that got away, and he's still looking for him.

It's spooky, and frankly, a little too spooky for kids, in my opinion. But it's so well written and the plot moves along at a never-boring pace. I can't wait to read some more of Gaiman's work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Prison Tats

I've written about this a few times, but I have two tattoos.

This one:
(not as faded as the sunlight hitting it makes it look)

and this one:

(no matter what angle I shoot from, my wrist always manages to look ginormous)

Most people are surprised that I had the guts to go under the needle twice, but let me tell you - back in the day (as in the winter of 2004), I was totally rebellious, my friends. I even had a nose ring. This did not go down too well with my mom (strangely, my minister father was totally cool with it).

I got my treble clef for my 25th birthday, and my wrist tattoo for my 30th.

I like them. My best friend, Ashleigh, doesn't. And that's totally ok with me because hey, we are two different people (even if most of the time we respond to the name "Mandashleigh"). I know tattoos aren't for everybody.

Which is why I could kick for myself for the way I responded to the horrified question of "Is that a tattoo on your wrist?!" from a forty-ish, blazered dad of one of my church kids on Sunday.

"Um...yes. It is."

Blank stare at me. So I stare blankly back.

"And...'Write.'? What does it mean?"

"It' know, a reminder to be creative. Because...I like to write." So, so lame. I mean, yes, that's the reason I got it, but I feel like writing is a part of my identity and this tattoo is supposed to be indicative of that passion. Just like the treble clef on my toe. Inexplicably, this man is making me so uncomfortable that I'm fighting the urge to shove my wrist in my armpit, a la Mary Catherine Gallagher, just to get him to quit gawking at me. It isn't helping that his 12-year-old daughter is listening intently to our conversation.

"Hm," he says. That's it. "Hm." And in just that little non-word reply, judgment came raining down on me. I felt myself get red and I said "You know. I got it in my younger, wilder years." We both fake laughed and I moved on.

Ok. First thing - younger, wilder years? Try last July.

Secondly - why in the world did this dad make me feel guilty about something I really don't feel guilty about? Why did I feel the need to all but apologize to this guy who has never ever before spoken to me until yesterday?

I have no idea. Well, I have a little idea, but I don't like the conclusion it brings me to. I'm trying so hard to not be "That Amanda."

So I have two tattoos. Yep. Two. And I didn't get either of them when I was drunk, 18, in prison, or trying to impress a guy. And guess what, Judgey Judgersons?

I like them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Song I'm Digging This Week

"Although my dream was overdue, your love made it well worth waiting for someone like you..."

Everybody needs a little Dean Martin sometimes, don't you think?

"Everybody Loves Somebody" - Dean Martin

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

John Krasinski got married last year. I grieved. I really did. Not that I actually thought we would ever meet, but one never knows, right? I mean, I could have conceivably ended up in the same restaurant/at the same concert/at his window in black clothes and binoculars at some point, right?

Emily Blunt beat me to him. Well played, Ms. Blunt. Well played.

So now, apparently, Donald Miller also has a girlfriend.

And now my next-to-last last celebrity backup husband is taken.

I say next-to-last, since Ryan Reynolds has recently been returned to us. The dream is still alive.

Unless Sandra Bullock gets there first. Darn her and her likability!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book #11: Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World

Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World by Sarah Vowell

Every time I read one of Sarah Vowell's books, I am always struck by the same thought:

"Someone in a church has hurt her badly."

Take the Cannoli, her first published book, is in turns hilarious, poignant, and thought-provoking, just like her other books. She relates stories about her family, her travels, her thoughts on government and American history, books and music - all with a deadpan humor that makes me laugh out loud. But underneath it all, there's a tinge of bitterness about all things religious. Well, not really a "tinge." More like a running theme.

Vowell talks at length about being raised in a pentecostal church and how she has subsequently abandoned all things do with faith and religion, and considers herself an atheist. It just saddens me. It makes me want to go and have a cup of coffee with her and find out what that's really all about.

And also talk a lot about all three "Godfather" movies. I think she would agree with me that the third one was just a travesty.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Flash

photo found here

Do you ever have that feeling that magic is happening just out of your reach? Like you can almost touch it, you can almost see it, but just not quite?

One of my very favorite books growing up was Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (as much as I loved Anne, I always preferred Emily and I share her overuse of italics). She called this feeling - this moment you almost see around the curtain to another place - as "The Flash."

As a ten-year-old reading this book for the first time, I got goosebumps. That had happened to me! I would get The Flash when I heard certain songs or even just specific strains of music. I would get it when I read a particularly wonderful book. I would get it when saw something beautiful - a photo, a house, a person. I couldn't explain what exactly triggered the feeling, but I knew when it was happening.

I still get The Flash.

One of the most memorable flashes was when I first saw "The Holiday" (yep, the Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz gem). I went with my best friends Ashleigh and Kam, and when it was over I turned to them and said "Oh....oh!" I couldn't explain exactly why I was so moved, but I was. I then went on to see that movie eight times in the theater. I know. Yes. Eight times. Something about the movie transfixed me, made me want to be something else. Something/someone more myself. Each time I watch Kate Winslet give her speech about loneliness and yearning to Jack Black, I tear up. Still.

I remember going home after the sixth or seventh viewing of the movie and letting my dog Lucy out. I stood in the freezing January night, looking up at the crystal clear night sky and the stars and thinking "There is more out there. There is so much more out there!"

This isn't to say that I haven't always believed that there is more - I have. I believe in God and Heaven and unseen things all around me. And there is something intrinsic inside of me, and I think it's inside of everyone, that craves this connection to magic. And I think the magic is different for everyone.

I read this passage in The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis today, and of course, he says it so much more eloquently (he always does):

"There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw - but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realize that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported. Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of - something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side?"

Do any of you ever get The Flash?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Song I'm Digging This Week

My dad's favorite singer/songwriter in the whole wide world is Gordon Lightfoot. In fact, we actually got backstage passes and met him at a concert in 2009. I think my dad could have died happy as we left to go home.

Eva Cassidy's version of his song is so achingly beautiful that it makes me want to get better at guitar so I could play it.

(sorry for the weird images in this YouTube video - it's the only version I could find)

"Early Morning Rain" - Eva Cassidy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Skipping spring

So I've been a little bitter about how hot it is outside right now. We actually reached over 90 degrees last week, and my office at work feels like a sauna. Ever since the catastrophic tornado-induced power outages of a few weeks ago, we've all been trying to conserve energy and air conditioning is a low priority - rightly so. But I'm pretty sure Alabama has skipped spring altogether and gone straight into mid-July misery.

But this picture (spotted
here) of magical coral pink hydrangeas (that's actually what they're called!) made me a feel a little bit better. I do love summer flowers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Disaster Relief

This past week, my lovely state of Alabama experienced one of the deadliest outbreaks of tornadoes in history. I was so unbelievably blessed to have been spared damage, but countless people as close as a mile away from me have been left utterly devastated. My heart is extremely heavy today, and just to have power and Internet connection while others have nothing makes me feel guilty and helpless.

We're still in dire need of volunteers to help us clean and start the rebuilding process, as well as donations of money and supplies. If you would like to help, please visit here - anything you can spare will be greatly appreciated.

I will not be posting anything else this week, but I do ask that you continue to remember our communities in prayer.