Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Well, 2008, it's been great...

A few of my friends do an end-of-the-year survey, and I thought I'd start the same tradition this year. Here goes...

1) What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Tried some new foods (crab legs!!), went to Atlanta to be production assistant for a conference (and saw a Braves game!), switched from ball-point to felt-tipped pens, got a massage at a spa, went to Dodger Stadium, joined facebook and twitter, started doing Crave announcements in the Refinery, visited Oxford and Stonehenge and Bath and Windsor, went to 3 midnight movies (ugh…why?!), joined a Masters swim team, and took a five- and four-year-old to Disneyland for a day (with help!).

2) Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I cannot help myself from making resolutions every year. I usually meet goals that I am serious about, but I make so many resolutions that I naturally don’t keep them all (or even remember them!). Generally speaking, next year, and in life, I want to reflect the character of Jesus to people, contribute to others’ lives in a positive and meaningful way, be a productive person and constant learner, always have a grateful heart, and cultivate my interests.

3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Many did. I was so especially excited for Clayton and Allison and Derek and Lena!

4) Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My grandma passed away last spring.

5) What countries did you visit?
England. And man, did I have a blast.

6) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
LOST season 4. Still haven’t seen any of it yet…

7) What date(s) from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 13—It was my first day working on the Crave team! But I didn’t really work…I went to NLCS Game 4 at Dodger Stadium with Julie!! What a great day! (Hey, it’s Pat!!)

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not sure. I finished three seminary classes and learned a lot. God truly blessed me with an incredible new position at Saddleback. I feel like I grew socially as well; I made a lot of new friends (not all of them have blogs, unfortunately) and am learning to be a better friend myself. I also experienced profound sorrow and anxiety, but also sublime joy and excitement. However, none of those things are ‘achievements.’

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?
The first four months or so of the year were a bit sketchy…I had chest pains caused by anxiety, a random tear duct infection, and severe tonsillitis, all within a short amount of time. But then I felt much better. I also threw my back out and had chronic back pain in late summer, but that’s normal…don’t worry about it, guys…haha.

10) What was the best thing you bought?
Tea at the Ritz Hotel in London with one of my best pals, Hayley. It was so, so great. We drank so much tea and were so excited that, even though we were so tired from walking around all day, we couldn’t fall asleep until three in the morning.

11) Whose behavior merited celebration?
Anyone who sacrificed something of themselves for the benefit of someone else merits celebration in my book.

12) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Anyone who took a side in a debate/issue/argument, who didn’t have a true sense of conviction and only wanted to cause a ruckus, be part of the scene, or make a statement made me sad.

13) Where did most of your money go?
A lot of it went to gasoline for most of the year…ugh! Most of it went to London, including the entirety of my economic stimulus check!

14) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I get really, really, really excited about a lot of stuff, whether it’s going on a trip or the smell of a cinnamon crunch bagel from Panera, so…I don’t know what to tell you.

15) What song will always remind you of 2008?
Viva la Vida by Coldplay. My brother and I saw them in concert in November and they’re so incredible…I almost can’t handle it.

16) Compared to this time last year, are you:
Wiser? I think so. Healthier? Difficult to say. Richer? In many ways.

17) What do you wish you'd done more of?
Read, studied, traveled, blogged, and swum. (‘Swum’ is correct, if you’re wondering. Look it up.)

18) What do you wish you'd done less of?

19) How did you spend Christmas?
My family went to church and dinner on Christmas Eve, came home and sat by the fire, and opened presents. I also read The Catcher in the Rye. On Christmas Day we had a great dinner and then I saw “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” with friends.

20) Did you fall in love in 2008?
If fictional characters count, then yes.

21) What was your favorite TV program?
LOST. Oh, LOST…I love it.

22) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don’t think I hate anyone…so, no.

23) What was the best book you read?
Hands down it was The Road.

24) What was your greatest musical discovery?
Country music. It’s true. I would say that I learned to love it in 2008.

25) What did you want and get?
A book embosser!

26) What did you want and not get?
A few things…no matter, though.

27) What was your favorite film of this year?
Slumdog Millionaire.

28) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
To celebrate turning 26, my small group took me to dinner on my birthday eve, and the waitress gave my birthday dessert, with the candle and everything, to the wrong person; it was hilarious. And I spent my actual birthday at Disneyland with Amberpants, eating ratatouille and pink ice cream, and I got so many texts and messages and it was great. I felt so loved and special and I laughed a lot. That, to me, is a great birthday.

29) Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most?
Joel McHale and Tony Bourdain.

30) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
I try to have fun and feel good about how I dress and look. That’s about all that’s behind my “concept.”

31) What kept you sane?
My sanity…?

32) Who did you miss?
I miss my relatives in Germany, Mic, Elizabeth, Amber Rusher, the Coates family, Mindi, Jared, Jeananne, and Adam in Australia!

33) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Well, I learned that I shouldn’t be content with mediocrity; I want to strive for excellence.

34) What did you gain this year?

35) What did you lose this year?
Some close friends—not to death, but to distance and busyness.

36) Who was the best new person you met?
Moving offices allowed me to meet many new people this year…and I am so grateful for my new friends.

37) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I’m slipping into the lava…and I’m trying to keep from going under. Baby, who turned the temperature hotter, cuz I’m burnin’ up, burnin’ up for you baby! (This was THEE-MOST-PLAYED-BY-FAR song of the year for me.)

Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Guess Where I DIDN'T Visit Today...

Visitor Information:

Norton Simon Museum of Art
411 W. Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91105-1825

Monday 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.
Thursday 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.
Friday 12:00 noon - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.

Good thing I checked the website last night before heading up to Pasadena this morning.

There is a darling painting by Vermeer on loan at the Norton right now, from the National Gallery in Washington, D.C....I can't wait to see this exhibit about Vermeer, which I guess will NOT be on a Tuesday!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

"Blankets are okay, but they can slip and slide..."

My friend and I made a deal: if we ever end up being roommates, we're buying matching snuggies. Blankets suck compared to this and see for yourself. (It's actually pretty funny.)

I sacrifice comfort and warmth for style enough of the time! But when I'm at home, I am like a member of the AARP--I am always cold, I go to bed earlier than most of my friends, and I would totally wear a snuggie. In fact, I'm pretty sure I could rock this look.

And if not...I'd still be warm and comfy.

So...wanna snuggie?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Best Book I Read in 2008...

...wasn't Twilight, although I very much enjoyed the Twilight books...

It was The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2006. The film will be released in 2009. And Entertainment Weekly has listed it as the #1 new classic:

A father and son trudge across an ashen American landscape in the wake of some unnamed apocalypse, fighting off sexually predatory bandits, scavenging for food, uncovering charnel-house horrors, then moving on, constantly moving on, toward some mirage of a better future. We don't need writers of Cormac McCarthy's caliber to inform us of looming planetary catastrophes; we can read the newspaper for that. We need McCarthy to imagine the fate of the human soul if the worst really does come to pass; what he depicts in The Road is strange, awful, tender, and, in the end, surprising.

This actually is a tough story...a heartbreaking and brutal story, and isn't for everyone. But I will freely recommend it to those of you who love reading great literature. It's brilliant. It's haunting. It's unforgettable...

My Favorite Words

Growing up, my family went on summer vacations together every year. Sometimes my Grandma Betty came with us, and when she did, I would always be “assigned” to share a bedroom with her. She snored like a bear, but I was the only person it didn’t bother.

I remember one time when we were staying in a little town called Winthrop, in Washington state. Winthrop looks like an old western town and we had a lot of fun there. I remember the magician in the street who embarrassed me; he called on me to be his assistant, messed up the trick, and then jokingly blamed me. I also remember my parents buying me some paper dolls in a shop there. That really made my day. Anyway, one night while we were staying in Winthrop, my grandma and I were lying in bed talking, and I told her I liked the word “blood” because it looks funny and doesn’t sound like it’s spelled. I said it was my favorite word. “What’s your favorite word, Grandma?”

“I think love.”

“That’s my other favorite word,” I said quickly. Kids always want to agree with someone who they think has a better opinion than they do, don’t they? But since then, blood and love really have been my favorite words.

I never even realized until a few years ago just how connected those two words are.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Revelation 1:6

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Lord is Come

Joy to the World!

The Lord is Come!

Whoa...wait a minute. Is that grammatically correct? Wouldn't it be, "the Lord has come?" Well, according to Grammar Girl, the phrase uses an archaic form of English that was used back in 1719 when Isaac Watts wrote the song "Joy to the World." In this instance, the word "come" is an unaccusative intransitive verb. (Yeah, I don't know what that means, either, but the point is that it's a form that's basically extinct in the English language.) It wasn't until the 1900s that people stopped speaking this way. Many Romance languages still use this verb form though; it's normal in languages like French and Italian to say the English equivalent of "He is come."

And even though I think it sounds a little strange, I still think it's beautiful.

Side note: While looking for a picture to post with this blog, I came across the coolest Christmas cards ever on someone's flickr account! Christmas, pink, and dinosaurs, all combined. Genius.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just for one Afternoon...

...I would like to be reading an exciting book on a rock at a deserted beach, listening to the waves crashing and drinking in the salty air...

Life is busy right now, isn't it? This afternoon will have to wait...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Check it Twice

Here is my Christmas wish list...I only need four things (okay, maybe not 'need'). Well, I have a book list, too, but that will come later... A pretty passport holder. I will be using my passport next year and definitely want to travel in style. Note that this one is Tiffany blue, the best color ever.

Everyone knows Moleskine products are the best. I saw a daily planner at the bookstore the other day and it was the perfect size. (Note: black hardcover.)

I am not a big TV watcher, at all. In fact, this really is the only show that I follow, but I haven't seen any of season 4 yet. Once I get this, I will probably disappear from the planet for a few days, watching the entire season in my room, alone and happy. I can't wait to watch this!

Now, I obviously don't want a book embosser with Mike Stevens' name on it. I'd like one with my initials. How cool are these? Seriously! I'd love to have one of these to stamp all my books. Every bibliophile needs one.
So...what do you want for Christmas??

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Mystery

This weekend I thought about something. Something important. Something that I couldn’t shake. Something that was plaguing me.

Why did a box of Hawaiian Host chocolate-covered macadamia nuts suddenly appear on our kitchen counter?

Did it belong to someone?

Was it a gift for someone?

Would anyone care if I ate half of its incredibly delicious contents?

Why was it unopened? Was it poison? If I tried opening it, would I suddenly be hanging by one foot upside-down from a rope?

Was this a trap?

In the Birle house, there really is no explanation for an unopened box of chocolate. I don't get it.

And it’s still there…