Thursday, August 28, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

Wanna play a game? When I was in middle school the book Random Acts of Kindness was really popular, and I loved the concept and enjoyed playing along. I remember giving my parents money to pay the $2 bridge toll for the car behind us and stuff like that. I still enjoy performing acts of kindness, but I must admit that now I rarely look for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness for strangers.

So lets try to come up with some really random ways to show others that strangers can be loving and nice. We've got a long weekend, so we should have time to come up with something cool. Post whatever you end up doing in the comments, and maybe it'll inspire someone else. It can be super simple or as creative and as extravagant as you'd like. Aaron, you could cut that neighbor's grass, for example:) I'd love any ideas you guys have (even if you don't get around to actually doing the act); it's fun to brainstorm just so those ideas are floating around in our heads, waiting for an opportunity to be used.

p.s. I'm grateful for Charlie Hall's song "Marvelous Light." I am constantly amazed by the freedom that I'm experiencing in Christ. On the outside--as an agnostic--looking in, Christianity seemed so limiting and rule-oriented; it's amazing how my relationship with Christ has shown me how enslaved I was and how liberated I can be in Him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Brother and Other Depressing Things

My hair person (stylist sounds pretentious, dresser sounds old-timey, and other proper terminology escapes me) recently had a baby, so in a fit of I can't take this anymore and my hair is gross I stopped by my local Great Clips for a trim. The lady asked for my name, phone number, how I learned about the salon, and then for my address. I asked (in my nicest exasperated tone) "do you really have to have my address to cut a half inch of my hair?" I'm tired of this. I'm not giving Great Clips or all of the stores that ask for my phone number what they want (I think the cashiers just put in fake numbers instead).

Kroger already tracks my purchases by refusing to give me the sales price without my stupid Kroger Plus card (however I fooled them and didn't complete the form). The Big Brother at Gmail scans my e-mails to tailor make the ads on the side of the screen (it took my friends and me about 3 weeks to finally notice that all of the ads were about skiing and snowboarding despite the fact that it was June; then we realized we'd been talking about a trip to Colorado). Of course, every company needs my social security number to do business with me, and I just wonder if there's some company somewhere that has all of this information about me compiled--which movies I rent, who I talk to on my cellphone, how many hours I waste on Facebook, which medications I take, and so on. Could you imagine how valuable this information is to advertisers and companies?

And now I'm looking for health insurance. It feels intentionally confusing. I'm an attorney, and these policies are difficult for me to fully understand. It is no wonder people are under-insured. If you don't read the massive amount of small print, you don't realize that a litany of things are not covered (that you would expect to be covered) and that there are so many exceptions to coverage, including changes in percentage of coverage based on the medical issue and so forth. Given what I've looked at over the past few days, it's easy to see how medical expenses bankrupt families who have health insurance. I feel so blessed to have so few health issues--and to simply be insurable.

p.s. I'm grateful that tomorrow is the first day this week that I'll have to wake up before 9:00. Rolling out of bed and into "the office" is nice.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A List: The Olympics

My exposure to the Olympics has been fairly limited, but I've still caught a little here and there as I flip through the channels.

(1) If I had people cheering and yelling at me like the Olympic athletes do, I think I could have much better workouts.

(2) Do the marathoners not get to wear ipods? How in the world do you run for that long without music or conversation?

(3) I read this blog post and did not realize it was a joke until I was halfway through it. To sum it up, it says that China was to host the Special Olympics as well but was going to cancel it because the country could not find a team to represent it (as a result of the Chinese practice of aborting imperfect offspring). I realized the article was a joke when it referenced China feeding children lead-tainted toys to prepare them for the Special Olympics. I can be really dense sometimes, and given what I've read about China forcing women into having late-term abortions, aborting "imperfect" children did not seem like a stretch.

(4) I do not understand the Phelps' obsession and think the Sports Illustrated cover is sort of gross (it goes too low).

(5) I liked my 8th grade Olympics better than these. After all, I got to participate in almost every part of the competition and wasn't relegated to my couch.

(6) I thought it was interesting that the Chinese government asked its citizens to refrain from cooking dog during the Olympics.

(7) I hope that little girl who was told last minute that she couldn't sing her song isn't too messed up as a result of that experience.

(8) Time magazine and I have been wondering the same thing: how fast can humans run before they hit the end of their physical limits? (HT: Tim Challies There's more room for improvement with the longer distances, I would guess, but it seems like at some point with the shorter distances (100 meters, for example) we'll hit our fastest.

p.s. I'm grateful that a 30 day pass to a local gym made it possible for me to work out (1) for free and (2) at 10:30 last night.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Through the Years....

Pete, the pastor of the church I worshiped at in Nashville posted this on his blog the other day and inspired me to follow suit. In which year/style do you think I hit my "prime"? And should I take one of these photos with me the next time I see my stylist?

Please note that this is the only photo you'll find of me with big hair. I may have worn some high waisted, tapered legged jeans in my day, but I never teased my hair or had big bangs; and I am inordinately proud of that fact:) Happy weekend!!

p.s. I'm grateful that I did not explode and/or burst into tears when I found out that the tech people said my computer may not be in for ANOTHER two weeks. So...I will, with the exception of meetings/depositions, be working from home (which I had hoped to do--but I won't have network access, e-mail, etc.) until they rectify this issue. Oh well, I like working in PJs. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A List: The Rick Warren Interviews

Evidently the cable company is not turning off the previous tenant's cable, so I was able to watch Rick Warren's interviews of McCain and Obama. It was nice to hear the candidates answer some different questions and not completely give their usual stump speeches. With that being said, once or twice I was wishing that the judge could direct the witness to answer yes or no and then explain his answer.

1. It's sort of old-man cheesy, but I liked how McCain refers to us as "my friends." Of course, that could get really old....

2. I'm glad Obama brought up the idea of decreasing the number of abortions as being common ground between those who are pro-choice and those who are not. Obviously the two camps are never going to agree about the morality and legality of abortion, but I think most everyone would like to see the number of abortions decrease. Over the last few months, I've looked into abortion more, and I've been astounded by how many are performed each year. It's really sad that there are that many unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and decreasing that number could be a great unifier.

3. Although the answers were fairly predictable, I liked the question "Which Supreme Court justice would you not have appointed." It certainly gives you an idea of where the candidates stand constitutionally, etc. And I totally agreed with what Obama said about Clarence Thomas; even as a child (granted a sort of weird one) I thought the entire Anita Hill issue distracted us from the fact that Thomas was otherwise unqualified to be a justice on the Supreme Court.

4. I certainly hope that McCain did not hear any of Obama's interview and tend to accept him at his word, but I wish he'd been in the "cone of silence."

5. When asked about who was rich Obama teased Warren about his millions in book sales. Funny.

6. While McCain may have told these stories a thousand times, I enjoyed hearing about his war experiences. Maybe I was just in a good mood. Or easily entertained.

7. While I found the interviews helpful in considering the candidates, I still wish there was some quick and easy way to evaluate the candidates, what they believe, and how those beliefs matter. I think sometimes we get caught up in what a presidential candidate believes on a certain issue, but if we looked into it more, we'd realize that it doesn't even matter (with regard to that issue) because there's no chance that his views on that would affect any policy. Or I'll read a candidate voted a certain way on an issue, but on further (and laborious) review, I might find that he actually voted that way because of a last minute rider or because passing this bill would mean something else and so forth. In fact, I heard a great story on this very issue today in which everyone was afraid to vote against a bill because they would then be labeled a certain way (basically in favor of "smut")--even though they all knew that the bill was unconstitutional. So the bill was enacted; the local governments acted in accordance with the new law; and voila local city was sued, lost, and had to pay enormous court costs (including attorneys' fees). It's all so complicated.

If you have any thoughts or opinions about the interviews, I'd definitely be interesting in reading them.

p.s. I'm grateful for the $2 Starbucks cold drink deal and that I liked my very first cold Starbucks drink. It was sort of like a milk shake (but according to the nutritional info less than 200 calories).

Monday, August 18, 2008

A List: The New Job

I'm feeling very list-y these days--probably because there's still so much I need to do to make this move complete (I still need a new license, new tag, to update my address with several companies, health insurance, to hang things, and so forth). Last Thursday was my first day in the office, and I eased back into the legal world with some work at home earlier in the week. I'd forgotten how much harder this lawyer stuff is than playing and praying with children; it's just constant thinking and analysis. I miss flip flops, hugs, beads, and singing, but all in all the new gig is going well. I'm grateful.

What I Like

1. Today I arrived at work at 9:00 and was the first attorney in the office by 45 minutes.
2. A partner brought enough pasta to work today for all of us to have lunch.
3. I can (within reason, I suppose) arrive/leave work whenever I want--granted I'll be paid accordingly:)
4. The older partner has a crazy good memory and has great stories (Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and James Brown all played at his frat parties in college), and I'm already learning a lot from him.
5. The other female attorney had on capris today, and she's setting up a lunch for me to meet some of the female judges and attorneys in the area.
6. I asked that they stock the fridge with Diet Coke with Lime, and voila there was a 12 pack in the fridge today. I'm liking cherry Diet Coke pretty well too.
7. Lots of doughnuts last Thursday.

What I Don't Like

1. They waited around to order my laptop, and it's still not in. I've had to use random computers the last three days and had significant internet issues. This makes me angry!
2. The firm uses Wordperfect. Sigh. Why? So when we send attachments to...well anyone else in the world...we have to convert our documents into Word or the attachments mess up.
3. The firm uses Westlaw. Westlaw may be wonderful, but I just do not feel comfortable using it. I've always used Lexis.
4. I can't walk to any restaurants from the office (upside is that I'm too lazy to drive anywhere = save money).
5. The hassles of getting settled in an office w/o significant support staff/orientation. Where's the paper? Where's a stapler? Can you set up my e-mail please? My chair is broken. How do you work this massive copying/scanning/faxing machine?
6. Lack of (seemingly) logical organization for documents, time, etc. This is something they want my input on, so it may (slowly) change.
7. Billing. But what are you going to do?

Oh, Ella, this photo is for you since you asked about the dress code for croquet. Here's some of the regulars all dressed up. These boys are lost a croquet bet Friday and had to jump in the river.

p.s. I'm grateful for the 35.85. party yummy food, free drinks, decent music, and good conversation. And I met a bunch more people.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Serendipitous Awareness

"I have a theory about new words and ideas. It seems that very often, as soon as I have learned something—a word, an historical figure, a theorem—that it pops up again within weeks, almost like it was lying there just waiting to be noticed. I'll go my whole life without having heard of some Persian philosopher, and the week after I learn about him, he'll be referenced in next week’s New Yorker or quoted on some CD liner notes. The phenomenon badly wants a name, but I am unsure what to call it. It is sort of like reverse déjà vu, with a bit of kismet thrown in. For the time being I call it S.A., for serendipitous awareness."

My friend Mark shared his created terminology several years ago, and it resonated with me as I've often experienced it. Sometimes I think you just recognize the word or belief because you finally understand it or are aware of it, so you just begin to see it more often. This is akin to buying a gray 4-Runner and then noticing gray 4-Runners all the time. But some of the time it feels like God (or the universe or whatever force you believe in) wants you to know something, so the concept or word is being reinforced in your mind so that you won't forget it and will be glad you know it.

used the word "foment" in an e-mail to me, and when I confessed my ignorance of this word he explained the definition, using an example of how the revolutionaries (in a country I cannot recall) met in coffeehouses to foment a revolution--leading to the government banning coffeehouses. A week later I was in J.Crew when a salesman started telling me about a huge paper he had to do on coffee, so I told him about how revolutions (including the American Revolution) were fomented over coffee; and we figured out a great outline for his entire research paper. Prior to learning about "foment," my contribution would have been limited to suggesting large amounts of whip cream.

p.s. I'm grateful for the knock on my door last night to join a group in the park for croquet.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Did you know

that messrs is the plural of Mr.? I'm reading some work stuff and kept coming across it, and thanks to google and an online dictionary I now know what it means.

Have you learned anything new lately?

p.s. I'm grateful for my ottoman. In the toolshed the sofas were short, and there were no ottomans; I'm glad to be back to a chair/ottoman that allows leg extension and naps.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"No one notices the contrast of white on white...."

but sometimes I do. And I don't like it. I feel melancholy and introspective, thinking about things I rarely ponder.

This afternoon I stopped by my new place of employment (a law firm) to fill out some paperwork, check out my office, and evidently get my first two assignments:) My first official day of work is next Thursday. Anyway, one of my bosses ("Mark") is a friend of sorts from high school. During my first two years of high school, I had to wait on my mom to finish work--so I'd sit in the lobby and talk with Mark and his friends for hours. We discussed philosophy, government, and all sorts of things; I would sometimes think so deeply that our conversations would leave me with a headache. But I loved the dialogue, these guys' minds, and their desire to talk about something beyond the usual high school stuff. They were unlike my other friends, and our interaction was largely limited to these conversations.

Mark was even the person who held my hair back the first time I got drunk and proceeded to get very sick (on a trip to London with our art teacher). He also expressed his affection for me on this trip, although I'd known about his crush for months. Of course, I had a boyfriend, and despite my love of our conversations, I've never been physically attracted to these types of interesting and brilliant guys (not sure what that says about me). So chatting with Mark today made me think about high school and just got me in a pensive and nostalgic mood that's lead me to examine all sorts of things (and listen to Counting Crows on repeat).

I remember how people used to say "high school is the best time of your life," and I always thought life must really suck if that's the truth. High school was fun, but there were so much emotion, turmoil, family drama, stupid choices, and not-fun-stuff. Life is so much sweeter and full of joy now; and a small part of the difference is learning how to not think so deeply and emotionally all the time. Learning that it's just a bad idea to put "Black" or "Anna Begins" on repeat and sit around thinking (and abiding by this most of the time). Realizing that I'm the common denominator in a string of less than ideal relationships. Accepting that everyone will let me down--and I'll let them down too; and it's o.k. (mainly because I have a perfect God who is always faithful). Seeking contentment instead of just fleeting happiness.

p.s. I'm grateful for a pretty new running loop (and that I even have the desire to run...largely in part to my new favorite song "Off Da Hook.")

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mostly Moved In and Already Entertaining

Tonight I hosted my very first surprise birthday party. My friend Chasie's family lives here in Chatty, so we thought my loft would be the perfect place to surprise her sister with a small party to celebrate her 17th birthday; check out what 17 candles on 1 cupcake looks like:) It was so nice to bake and cook in my new kitchen with all of my stuff--and to just have a good space in which to entertain--even though I still lack bar stools and haven't decorated (b/c they just finished touch up painting yesterday evening).

I really like my new place and was blessed on Saturday with eight people helping move my things in, which made it go very quickly. My sister did a great job of unpacking most of my things and situating stuff, and my brother-in-law loaded up his truck and trailer with everything (saving me a couple of hundred dollars in Uhaul expense and hassle). I'm loving being on the 4th floor and climbing stairs again, living alone, being able to walk to restaurants and parks, and having neighbors who have greeted me with cookies (gluten free and with organic M&Ms) and hand trucks (to help with the move). So far so great:) Here are a few photos per Dr. RJJ and Ella's requests. Excuse the unfinished-ness/mess of everything--still getting situated/decorated.

p.s. I'm grateful that I have two weeks off between jobs to give me time to ease into life here in Chatty. I'm also really grateful for my friends (from Macon) that live on my hall; they've taken me to church and lunch with them; already introduced me to some cool people; invited me to a party on Friday night; and they showed up to help me move despite me telling them not to (because they had out-of-state guests visiting)--and they brought friends to help.