Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lazy Days

Morning crept in through the slits in my bedroom blinds as I rolled over to silence my vibrating cell phone. My phone/clock/alarm has its own spot on my bed, between my head and second pillow. The proximity ensures both timeliness and laziness (I like not having to leave my bed to silence the alarm).

The vigorous vibrato pulsed through my pillow as I thought to myself, "Drat. It's Saturday. I forgot to turn the alarm off." Grabbing the phone, I realized it was not the alarm, but a text message from my brother. At 10:13 a.m., I suppose it may as well have been an alarm.

I replied to my brother and rolled over again, hugging my pillow and basking in the simple joy that I could stay in bed just because I wanted to. I had nowhere to be. It seems the last countless weekends have been eaten up by appointments and obligations of some sort. Some fun, some not so fun, but sometimes, it just feels good to do absolutely nothing.

Once I finally dragged myself out of bed, I was greeted like clockwork with a good morning from Mom, a vigorous hug from Tabby and fresh coffee, also compliments of Tabby.

I sat down at the kitchen bar and thought to myself, what shall I do today? What a wonderful question. Not out of boredom, but freedom. Sports Center is on, also a clockwork greeting in the kitchen. Tabby is coloring a United States coloring book. Educational AND fun! Mom is preparing cinnamon rolls for the Easter breakfast tomorrow morning.

Now, late afternoon, Tabby is still coloring. We're buddies for the day, since Mom and Dad are out on a date night and the rest of the kids are off playing tennis, or something. Tabby and I have frosted the cinnamon rolls, made, cut out and decorated a bunny cake, researched pig cakes, watched a terrible sci-fi movie and are currently culminating the afternoon in a viewing of "The Fellowship of the Ring" and trying to decide what to do for dinner.

I guess there really wasn't a purpose in this post, other than celebrating my purposeless day. Every once in a while, those days are nice. I'll enjoy it today, because I know it'll be gone tomorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Aviator

Having just completed my second viewing of the very bizarre movie "The Aviator," three things come to mind: Leonardo DiCaprio should have an Oscar by now, Martin Scorcese is one of my favorite directors and I really want to research the life of Howard Hughes.

Perhaps not as much anymore, Hollywood used to be known for grand, sweeping historical epics. History became larger than life as studios took on periods such as ancient Rome, wars and the Old West. The "larger than life" aspect suggests that Hollywood's rendition of history tends to be a tad blown out of proportion. Not to say this is a no-no for Hollywood, because it's not any big secret that entertainment is (at least used to be) about spectacle.

Some movies will take on a single character and chart his life, or a good chunk of it, like "Citizen Kane" or "Ben-Hur." Granted, a great deal of the stories Hollywood takes on *are* extraordinary, or they wouldn't be worth immortalizing in movies (probably another idea that's more typical of older Hollywood).

Regardless of how accurate historical period movies or "based-on-true-events" movies are, they get me curious, and that seems to be a good thing, even if it took a fact-slaughtering to get me there.

What I'm getting at with all this is that watching "The Aviator" fascinated me with the life of Hughes. Whether it was true or not, I want to find out. If half of what was in that movie is true, that man was a piece of work. I know the achievements really happened, but the personal stuff? The movie depicted him as everything from brilliant, hot-headed, and womanizing to OCD (emphasis on obsessive), paranoid and just plain nuts. A series of emotionally cringe-worthy scenes in the movie have him locked in his own movie theater, stark naked (after burning his own clothes), repeating the same phrases over and over again, counting how many times he says them, and urinating in hundreds of milk jars, lined up along the edges of the room. Wahee.

I want to know how much of that is true. And how that sort of thing happens to people. Nowadays, there's a medical diagnosis if a kid sucks his thumb too long. Back then, he was screwed. It makes me wonder not only how he got so low (if he indeed did) but also how people survived mental illnesses before they were recognized. It must've literally been like being trapped in your hell.

The worlds of psychology and psychiatry are deep, dark pits that I'm only willing to go so far into, but they are fascinating. The movie reminded me a bit of "A Beautiful Mind." These types of character studies show you sides of people you may have been aware of, but hopefully also point you towards understanding them, or at least a better understanding of their unseen struggle.

Why is seeing that they struggled a good thing? I suppose it provides more appreciation for their accomplishments, but it also brings them down to earth. It turns them from a that larger-than-life persona into a flawed human being. I suppose oftentimes movies will show both.

Anyway, now...time to google!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Tuesday gets all caps because, besides the weekend, it is my favorite day of the week. And we all know that all caps adds emphasis and meaning! Woohoo!

Anyway, Tuesdays gets the coveted "Second Favorite Day of Laura" spot for several reasons:
1. It's "laid-back-day" at the office. The boss heads to somewhere, Iowa to pick up the paper (we don't print at our office), and it's just the girls back here for the day. Now, of COURSE we still work just as hard, there's just a little more laughing.

2. Taco Tuesday! 'Nuff said.

3. County Commission meetings. Whoa, did I just type that? Ok, maybe I should be more specific: the County company. The Commissioners are a stitch and the security guard is like my best bud now. Tuesday mornings always mean, like clockwork (well, except every third Tuesday) that I get to waltz through the metal detector, wish the guard a good morning, and be mercilessly teased by the Commissioners. I think storing up all this happiness is the only way I survive drainage boards.

4. I get to see ALYSSA! She's my bright and beautiful high school partner in crime who helps around the office after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but on Tuesdays she gets to come for tacos, too. SCORE.

5. I usually accomplish more phone calls at the office on Tuesdays. Why? Because I'm phone shy (great for a reporter, I know). On Tuesdays, there aren't as many people around, and I'm much more likely to make phone calls. I'm working on that, but as it stands, that's the way the cookie crumbles. Weird, right?

Ok, this list has reached completion, simply because I'm late for work. Also, first home track meet tonight, should be fun, AND I get to meet the Governor! Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Musical Storytelling

In the past, when asked what type of music I like, I've never really had a good answer. The best I could ever conjure is the all-too-vague "I like a little of everything." This isn't entirely true, but it's as close to accurate as I can ever find. But I think I've finally found a common element in the variety of music I like: I like songs that tell stories. I think this is why I lean towards country, bluegrass/folk and easy listening-types.

Not saying the pop wonders of the world can't tell stories, but I sometimes find them harder to see. So many of the popular songs today seem to be more about the sound than the content. And that's fine, if that's what you're looking for. I won't deny that sometimes I just want something to bop my head to, or tap my foot, or sing at the top of my lungs. That can be a blast (literally), but what I truly *appreciate* is hearing the heart of the musician in the music, and oftentimes even myself (sorry, cheesy, but true). It makes a universal connection. Regardless of your tastes, I think that's the test: if it connects with the listener. What people will connect with is different with every person, but that's the key.

And not just in lyrics. The musicality of a song is a completely separate form of expression, and potentially incredibly powerful (good film scores are another example of how music can be incredibly powerful in telling a story). Combine that with lyrics that actually mean something and I'm weak at the knees.

Musically, I still tend to lean toward bluegrass/folk and country, and I'm not sure how much of that is influenced by my appreciation of the lyrics and my own affinity for stringed instruments, but I think more than anything I love the tribute to the simplicities and magic of everyday life.

Apologies for the rambling nature of this post, but I get excited about things sometimes. Music is one of them.

*Note: I hope I'm not coming off as a music snob. I'm not meaning at all to demean the tastes of people who do appreciate pop style, it's completely subjective! Everyone has their own tastes, and these just happen to be mine:).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Forgive me for waxing philosophical, or, theological (you've been forewarned), but an increasingly swelling bubble of annoyance is about to the form of a question: is being in control the same as possessing control, but not controlling? Does having the power to control everything mean you're in control?

Application: does saying that God is in control mean that he is actually controlling? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying He isn't all-powerful. I'm not saying He doesn't possess the control. But does he use it? What does one mean when one says "God is in control"?

I hope I'm not being blasphemous. I'm really not meaning to be. I've just had an increasing annoyance with being fed anything along the lines of "it's part of God's plan" or "God is in control." That seems to imply that he meant for everything that happens to happen. I have a hard time swallowing that God was controlling a situation with the end result of a twenty-two year old dead in a car accident or a three year old dead from a one in ten million lung disease. I don't think that's Him controlling. I think that's Him allowing. But the "God allowing" vs. "God causing" dead horse has been beaten to a pulp. I'm talking about the less disputed phrase(s) about God being in control, and what exactly people mean when they say that.

Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good to those who love God. It doesn't say everything that happens in your life was leading towards this "good" God is working out. I think it's saying God will be there to help you clean up your mess. Maybe the most concrete...anything...I can get out of that is that God won't abandon you. I believe that. The part I have a hard time believing is that He planned the mess.

Is there even a specific "plan"? I think there could be, if God wanted it that way. But if that were the case, and He did wield this control, wouldn't things be different? I cannot believe that God intentionally wrote in his imaginary "Book of Plans" the pain the world has been shouldering since Adam and Eve. I don't think God planned that. I don't think it's part of a divine greater good.

And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I may have to be content with the admittance that my laughably inferior understanding will always fall short. If I understood everything, I'd be God, right? Good thing He knows what He's doing (I believe that, too).