See, Blogging CAN Take You Places!

A week ago, I got an email from someone from Warner Brother Records.

Hi Kate,
I noticed on your blog that you’re a fan of Owl City, and I’m wondering if you would like to attend and review LIGHTS’ show with Owl City at the Knitting Factory in Boise on March 30th! If you’d like to go to the show, please give me your mailing address so I can mail you a pair of tickets. I’d be happy to send you an album as well.

I immediately had several thoughts:

  1. Merh?
  2. Did I ever blog about Owl City? Oh yeah, I guess I did. Seventeen whole syllables.
  3. I’m not sure I can necessarily be classified as a fan… I like that song, though. I mean, they’re not on my “favorite music” list on Facebook or anything.
  4. Free tickets to a sold-out concert? For this hermit? AWESOME.
  5. Wait, maybe this guy is a crazy stalker who is trying to get my home address so he’ll know exactly when I won’t be home so he can come in and steal my… what? Collection of Piers Anthony paperbacks? Dirty dishes? HAVE AT IT, BRO.
  6. There ought to be an s after that apostrophe.

Once upon a time, I was actually a professional review columnist. Kind of. I mean, I wrote reviews, and I got paid for them. But it was for the Arbiter (I decided not to type “Arsebiter,” aren’t I nice?) so I’m not sure if that really counts as “professional.” And then, for a while, I was pretty serious about writing book reviews. But it’s been a while. And I’ve never been cold-contacted for it before.

Is it okay if I don’t play it cool? Because I was pretty excited, got to admit.

Anyway, I replied with my MIL’s post office box address, because I’m all INTERNET SAFETY, Y’ALL, and they put me plus one on the guest list, and they sent me a CD, and I listened and liked what I heard, and I obsessed over what I wanted to wear, and picked out the wrong thing, of course, because that’s what I do, and then last night Ryan and I went to the Owl City concert.

Or rather, the Paper Route and LIGHTS concert with Owl City there, too. Because, as it turns out, I’m old and get headaches when I sit too close to the speakers and didn’t eat dinner first. So I didn’t, uhm, stay for the whole thing. DON’T JUDGE ME.

The purpose of this post is to commemorate my second-ever BETTER LIVING THROUGH BLOGGING experience (the first, of course, being when I complained about my Dell laptop, got contacted by Dell customer service, and ended up with a free color printer) and to hold this spot until I can finish my review of LIGHTS and get it posted. In the meantime – a big thank you to Warner Brothers Records for inviting me, and a big thank you also to the Knitting Factory for immediately recognizing that Ryan and I didn’t really want to be in the middle of the mob scene downstairs and upgrading us to the VIP lounge! Because we’re old! NO, BECAUSE WE ARE VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE.

Advertisements

The Ring that Inexplicably Reminds Me of a Tuba

ringA few people have been asking for explanations and/or pictures, so here goes. Sorry if it’s a little long-winded. It’s a bit of a long story. If you don’t care about why I have it or how I got it, scroll down to the end to see close-ups of the ring itself. And if you got here because you were hoping to find pictures of hot redheads or fancy watches, get better at using Google.

The Distant-ish Past

About nine months ago, The Dave left this planet. It was only to be expected that this would cut a wide swath in the emotional landscape of his community.

I badly wanted to do something in memoriam. I started by soliciting contributions to a book – as usual, biting off far more than I could chew during the school year. (If you’re reading this, contributors, I still have all the stuff and am occasionally poking it with a stick. Must find time to sleep, first, and then time to make books.)

I knew that some people were investigating memorial tattoos. I knew that wasn’t really an option I wanted for myself. Besides, what tattoo do you get? What tattoo would memorialize not only the man, but his effect on my life?

Last summer, I realized what I wanted. I wanted a ring or bracelet inscribed with his most famous quote: May your god bless, give ‘em hell! I began investigating and quickly discovered that most options were far out of my (very minimal) budget. After some searching, I finally came up with a solution: Walmart. They have a small line of engrave-able jewelry, and there was a ring that caught my eye: plain, solid, hefty. I filled out the order form and sent off for my ring.

I was like a kid on Christmas Eve for the 6-8 weeks that it took to process my order. They called and said that it had come in; I hurried to the store and discovered that my ring said, May your god bless, give em’ hell. Now, maybe that wouldn’t bother some people (freaks) but it bothered the heck out of me. I pointed out the error, and the clerk wrote up a “we screwed up” form and sent it back to be fixed at top speed.

I, however, felt deflated. It didn’t feel fun or right anymore, having seen it all wrong like that. Funny how a misplaced apostrophe can ruin an English teacher’s day, right? I began to second-guess myself. And when the new ring showed up, and it read, May your god bless, give ^em hell, I was disgusted and just DONE. I asked for, and received, my money back.

Then I pouted for about six months.

The Recent Past

In the meantime, Meredith decided that she wanted a ring like this, and found a website called Eve’s Addiction. She ordered herself a ring (adding the final phrase, “Let’s go!” to the end) and then ordered one for Aaron, too. I was impressed with how nicely they turned out, how inexpensive they were, and how quick turn-around was. The only problem was that they couldn’t do apostrophes at all (much less stupidly random caret symbols). I knew that this wasn’t going to work out for me. I’m just waaaaaay too OCD about some things.

About the same time, I started reading a blog called Tales of a Wayward Classicist. The author is a graduate student who teaches classics (y’know, stuff like Latin and Greek). One of the author’s “hobbies,” I suppose you could say, is helping people translate phrases into Latin so that they get their tattoos done correctly – and making fun of people who didn’t bother to consult an expert before getting really screwed-up pseudo-Latin inked into their skin.

I know a wee bit of Latin, after studying it for a year in high school (picked up a lot because I had an awesome teacher – he looked like Matthew McConnaughey and got hired to teach Latin and Greek at Oxford the following year) and I’ve always been a fan of the classics. An idea occurred to me. What if I translated the phrase into Latin? Not only would that circumvent the apostrophe catastrophe, but it would eliminate awkward questions about why I had the word “hell” engraved on a ring that I wore around highly conservative fifteen-year-olds.

I wasn’t sure if my wayward classicist would help, but I contacted him anyway.

Hey… would you be willing to translate a phrase for me? My high school Latin doesn’t measure up to colloquialisms. I’m wanting to get "Give ’em hell" or possibly "May your God bless; give ’em hell" on a ring to memorialize my college mentor. I feel like a dork randomly asking on your blog, but I had read your translations for tattoo-seekers and thought it was worth a shot. Thanks, regardless!

He responded:

I can give it a shot, sure. "Deus sit propitius: Acheronta move." It’s a blend of ecclesiastical and classical Latin, but it captures both thoughts.

I loved it. I loved the sound of it (yes, I still remember how to pronounce Latin correctly, thanks Mr. Cooper!) and the look of it. I loved that he used Acheron as the hell reference, and if that’s because I think the thus-named character in Kenyon’s book is sexy, well, sue me. I loved the spirit of the translation. “Deus sit propitius” is pretty straightforward; deus is a god or deity, propitius is gracious or favor, and sit is a form of “to be” (won’t get into the grammar of that right now, it’s boring unless you’re me). Acheron is specifically the River of Woe and Pain, the primary river of the Underworld – the one that Charon ferries dead souls across. Move has several translations, including “set in motion,” “stir,” “arouse,” and “to cause a result.”

I went back to Eve’s Addiction and picked out an 8mm sterling silver band. I wanted something with heft to it – something with gravity. I chose 8mm over 7mm or 9mm because it turned out the exact width of my wedding band and engagement ring together. Hooray, symmetry!

The ring showed up in my mailbox less than a week after I ordered it.

Present Day

It’s perfect.

I put “ACHERONTA MOVE” on the outside as a reminder to myself to keep my chin up and to keep fighting for what needs fighting for. I think that’s an important reminder for me; it’s easy to get comfortable, easy to decide that there’s nothing to be done. I put “DEUS SIT PROPITIUS” on the inside, quietly reminding me that I am blessed and loved, reminding me not to give up my faith. Through no design of my own, that part of the engraving sits right over the vein that legendarily leads directly to the heart.

And yes, it’s very shiny and very silver, and my immediate reaction upon seeing it was that it looked like a tuba. What I meant was that the silver finish looked like the silver finish on Blue Thunder’s sousaphones. It made sense in my mind, but not in anyone else’s; that’s okay. I’m used to that.

ring_exterior ring_interior

In conclusion: if you want engraved jewelry, don’t go to Walmart. Because, really, who goes to Walmart for engraved jewelry? Go to Eve’s Addiction.

A Christian Thinks About Health Care Reform

I am struggling.

I’m going to write about it. It’s bound to offend some people, if they read it, because I think people are easily offended when it comes to this sort of thing. I’m trying to prepare myself for the inevitable self-righteous tracts that are going to appear in my comments. I can’t adequately explain how much I dread confrontation. Maybe that’s why I write a blog instead of a newspaper column. And yet, I do write a blog, and here I go opening myself up for confrontation again!

Then again, no one ever said that faith was supposed to be easy.

My struggle stems from what seems to me to be a discrepancy, illustrated below.

venn

This is everywhere I look – the newspapers, television, web publications – but the main place that I see it is among my many acquaintances on Facebook. I live in a conservative part of the country, and many of my friends and relatives have conservative politics and religious backgrounds. They are, I understand, the Religious Right.

What I don’t understand is how the Religious Right exists. It just makes so little sense in light of my understanding of Christianity.

Before I go on, and in the interest of full disclosure… I’ve been around teh intrawebz long enough to know that the first attack I’m going to see, assuming anyone reads this, is an attack on my credentials. I can’t claim formal training in theology (then again, neither can any of the people likely to flame me) but I can say this about myself:

  • raised as a Christian, attending Protestant churches
  • attended weekly Sunday School throughout my childhood
  • baptized
  • have been a member of two different churches (due to a move)
  • serve as a liturgist at my church
  • have been approached multiple times, and have entertained the notion, about entering the ministry
  • college educated (and not at some fancy-pants liberal private college, either)

Back to my point. See, from my perspective, all I can see is an entire population of people suffering from crippling cognitive dissonance. These are otherwise-intelligent people who are declining to actually read the legislation, who are blindly believing whatever their favorite talk show host or email forwarder tells them, and who are totally neglecting their biblical calling in pursuit of the protection of their own personal financial security.

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" 1 John 3:17

"…’The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’" Luke 3:11

Health care reform seems like a very simple issue to me, from a spiritual point of view. People are suffering. For some of these people, that suffering is a consequence of choices they have made. For others, it is through no fault of their own. Regardless, there but for the grace of God go we, right? Who here is qualified to throw a stone? And we all are in danger, because we live in a system that is designed to profit from our pain. Any one of us could have a medical issue that might not be covered by our insurance; any one of us could lose our job and be unable to get insurance due to unemployment or a pre-existing condition; any one of us could fall ill and be dropped from our insurance as a result. It happens every day, to essentially blameless individuals who just get caught up in bad luck and a bad system. If we are good people, if we are Christian, then we have a responsibility to try to fight that suffering, to try to keep one another out of danger – even if they’re in that position because they screwed up.

"The second [most important commandment] is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." Matthew 12:31

One of the arguments I’ve seen, from people who are putting enough time into it to make real arguments rather than just calling Obama and Stupak babykilling socialists, is that it’s just not the government’s job to be doing this stuff – that the Bible tells people and churches to take care of one another, but not the government. Okay, I’ll give you that. It’s an argument. E-x-c-e-p-t, what exactly is the government, then? Isn’t the government us? A government of the people, by the people, for the people? The Bible even tells us that the government is established as an agent of God. It can be hard to remember that particular admonition when the other Party’s guy is in office, but I think it’s pretty high hubris to think that we can even begin to understand all of the mysterious ways in which God works.

If we believe that God is omnipotent and has a plan for all of us, then how can we not believe that every vote cast, every official elected, is a part of that plan? And if the government is of and by the people, and is – through the people – an agency of God’s will, then why is it wrong for the government to act in a Christian way? (Speaking of which… aren’t the people making this argument, the same people who think prayer in school and “under God” in the Pledge are important? How can you disapprove of the separation of Church and State when it suits you, and uphold it when it suits you, and not know yourself for a hypocrite?)

Now those same people are online, joining Facebook Groups like “Defy the Healthcare Mandate!” and calling for lawsuits and legislation that will drain states’ treasuries, cause hardworking parents to make the choice between food and medicine, and sign death sentences for poverty-stricken children and senior citizens nationwide. They’re hollering about the reform’s audacity in forcing them to pay a tax or in forcing them be insured (which makes me wonder what they think about car insurance). They’re saying that they’re going to refuse to pay the fines, that this is proof of the government’s inherent evil. I keep finding myself wondering if they can think over the sound of their own voices shouting.

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." Romans 13:6-7

"Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?" Isaiah 10:1-3

Another interesting tidbit I’ve picked up is that some religious groups believe that their material wealth on Earth is a direct reflection of their worth in God’s eyes, and that they feel that wealth is rightfully and righteously theirs, not to be shared with those deemed less worthy via Divine Bank Transfer. I wonder what perversion of the Gospel led them to that idea? Isn’t it the poor who are blessed? What is it that the love of money does?

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25

I just don’t understand how you can claim membership in a faith that carries Christ’s name, and not see the irony in willfully discarding so many of the teachings that Christ held dearest to his heart. I don’t know how you can think it is the Christian thing to do to encourage others to act in selfishness and disdain rather than in love and compassion.

"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:19

I do have to remind myself that the picture is not as bleak as my Facebook feed, or the following (moderately snarky) diagram, suggests:

venn2

After all, there is a Religious Left – and just because we don’t prioritize being loud, doesn’t mean that we aren’t here. The Religious Right is noisy, but they’re not the majority. Fortunately for Christ’s work in the United States, there are many, many people out there who fall into the turquoise and green sections of that Venn diagram.

"Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17

"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." Isaiah 58:10

Maybe we are wrong. But I would rather err on the side of mercy than on the side of personal profit, personal security, or personal pride.

Aston Martin, anyone?

I like Mrs. Chili’s memes. And because it’s March, and the madness involved almost certainly relates to end of third quarter, and also the Ides thereof, and also the day after Daylights Savings… I have nothing substantial to say, and am instead resurrecting my week-abandoned blog with a meme.

1. Are you currently in a serious relationship?
Does married to my best friend count? Because I am seriously in that relationship.

2. What was your dream growing up?
See, I was in my underwear, and… oh, that’s not what you meant? I wanted to build my own boarding school, live in a mansion with turrets, and be a helicopter-flying storm-chasing paleontologist with 3-5 children. And some really kick-butt cars. Did I mention that I also thought I might be James Bond when I grew up?

3. What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I was a really talented singer, or good at a sport, or able to focus on one writing project at a time.

4. If someone bought you a drink, what would it be?
In a bar? Depends entirely upon the company and situation. If I’m eating, I’d have a rocks margarita. If I want something weak and tasty, I’d have a midori sour. And if I’m trying to impress somebody, it’d be Crown (or, on a full stomach, Knob Creek) on the rocks. But since I’m in bars, oh, never, my most truthful answer would probably have to be a Coke or a peach iced tea.

5. What was the last book you read?
The last book I managed to finish was Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. I’m currently midway or better through three others: The Conquest of New Spain, First Darling of the Morning, and Where Girls Come First: The Rise, Fall, and Surprising Revival of Girls’ Schools.

6. What zodiac sign are you?
Sagittarius, or Ophiuchus if you use sidereal astrology. Also: Metal Monkey.

7. Any tattoos and/or piercings? Explain where.
Single piercing in each ear. I went back and forth about getting a second ear piercing, or maybe a single cartilage (ear-cuff), but never did. No tattoos. Page me when they figure out how to do 3-year duration tattoos, and then we’ll talk.

8. Worst habit?
Laziness about housekeeping.

9. What is your favorite sport?
I like to watch football and basketball of the college variety.

10. Do you have a pessimistic or optimistic attitude?
I’m an idealistic realist.

11. Worst thing to ever happen to you?
Hmm. I guess some could quibble about whether this happened to ME, but I’d have to say Dad getting laid off at the same time I was married. It’s been a rough ride for my family ever since, and while I don’t know if they know it, it weighs heavily on me. I was always pretty optimistic about “everything working out for the best” until then. I have a bit clearer view of the world now, and I don’t like it very much.

12. Tell one weird fact about you.
I’m good at backwards things. I can do the alphabet backwards, write backwards (and upside-down, and upside-down-and-backwards) about as quickly and neatly as right-way around, read backwards (and upside-down), turn sheet music upside down and still play it, skip, walk, and gallop backwards, and… uh, yeah, that’s about all that’s coming to mind. In middle school, I used to hang upside down from things (stage stairs, etc.) and read while holding the book right-side-up. This seemed to frighten adults, which was, after all, my goal.

13. Do you think clowns are cute or scary?
Cute clowns are cute; scary clowns are scary.

14. If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?
I won’t say weight, because that’s within my power. I guess in my mind, I’m a more willowy version of myself. A few inches taller, a longer, more angular face, more cooperative hair. I never know what to do with my hair. And that version of myself knows how to walk in heels without twisting her ankle, which would also be nice.

15. Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?
If it’s a fun prank, DEFINITELY crime partner. If it’s something mean, hurtful, illegal, or dangerous, conscience.

16. Ever been arrested?
No ma’am. Don’t intend to, either. In fact, I was 29 before I got my first moving violation – and I maintain that it wasn’t my fault.

17. If you won $10,000 today, what would you do with it?
Oh gourds. I know EXACTLY what I’d do with a million, but 10k is tougher. I honestly would have to put it into a pair of used cars. We desperately need our own wheels.

18. Where’s your favorite place to hang out?
Away from home, you mean? My parents’ house. Barring that… probably a bookstore.

19. Do you believe in ghosts?
Sometimes. I definitely believe that there is something that causes phenomena that we attribute to ghosts; whether that’s telekinetic, magnetic vibrations, place-memory, lost spirits, divine messages – I don’t know.

20. Favorite thing to do in your spare time?
Dream up crazy schemes that will never come to fruition, because the scheming is the fun part.

21. Do you swear a lot?
No. I’m a charter member of the “If I’m dropping a cuss word, you know I really mean it” club.

22. Biggest pet peeve?
Belligerent apathy and closed-mindedness, and people who don’t know the difference between “less” and “fewer.”

23. In one word, how would you describe yourself?
hunting

24. Do you appreciate romance?
Not sure how to answer this question. Yes? Except that I can get embarrassed by it pretty easily. I prefer sincerity and thoughtfulness to over-the-top gestures.

25. Do you believe in God?
I do. I’m currently confused as to God’s nature, but then again, if I wasn’t, wouldn’t that be the height of hubris?

TGIF

Although I’m not sure it warrants a Happy Dance. I have rehearsal all evening. Saturday, I have rehearsal in the morning, a rigorous interview at midday, and a concert that evening. Sunday I have church in the morning, a family thing in the early evening, and at some point need to do my homework. Fun.

But still – Friday.

Into the Dark

Last night I dreamed that Ryan and I had died and gone on to… the next place (not sure whether it was supposed to be heaven, or what).

According to my dream-brain, “the next place” is a band rehearsal. More specifically, it’s a first day of college band camp rehearsal, all disorganized and chaotic, standing around with your instruments and sun-hats wondering what is to come. All these people; some you’ve never met before, but they seem vaguely familiar, like you’d run into them at band festivals… others that you haven’t seen in a long time, and some of them you’d missed and are happy to see again, and with others you’re indifferent or even a little annoyed that they’re there again…

Ryan and I had arrived, and were milling around the band rehearsal taking in the situation, when word came that there were a bunch of people waiting who couldn’t get there. People who had missed “the next place” and ended up in The Dark. Someone needed to go get them, and Ryan volunteered. I stayed behind with Martin (you can’t take “it” with you, but apparently you can take your ax) and waited while he went to get them.

After a few minutes, a line of stragglers came into the rehearsal area. They looked tired and relieved, dressed like refugees of the afterlife, because apparently in The Dark no one gives you a mirror. Big, brightly-colored cowboy hats. Too-short shorts and loud Hawaiian shirts. Mismatched parts of marching band uniforms. Hair badly in need of trims. They came in from The Dark in single file, walking past us and joining the rehearsal.

I waited, and as the passage into The Dark closed, realized that Ryan hadn’t come back with them. I shouted for someone – whomever was in charge – to wait, but no one heard me. I fought my way through the crowd, looking for the band director – and no, I don’t think it was Dave – to try to get Him or Her to help me, but just as I thought I’d found the director, my alarm clock went off and I woke up, leaving the rehearsal behind and Ryan lost somewhere out in The Dark.

And now I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day, and that with the rainy weather is making me one pensive panda.

BaroooOOOoooo, Etc.

Apropos of nothing, a picture of myself on Halloween 2009 at a football game. My excuse is that I’m testing out a couple of features I never noticed in Windows Live Writer (which I love for composing my blog posts). Hopefully, that photo is in sepia tone with a watermark in the corner.

In fact, I think I’d like to test out the other image effects…

 


So, either that’s pretty cool, or I’ve just posted eight identical photos of myself being a werewolf on the smurf turf. We’ll see. 🙂