Friday, January 31, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 27

Recap: Morgan and Tammy spied on Skye to see that she entered The Locked Room. They've figured out the password to get in and now they're going to sneak in after her and see what's in there. Also, they've figured out Skye has Batten, the Leontious had a cure but didn't tell anyone, and Markus' computer hacking might have made a bunch of the girls at the clinic sicker somehow. None of this makes any sense.

Morgan and Tammy sneak out of the supply closet and toward The Locked Room:
Tammy moved snug to the wall until she got under the camera.
Keep in mind this is all right outside (or maybe inside? It hasn't been entirely clear) the emergency room. There are people around. This is hardly an inconspicuous way to go about things.

Tammy obediently puts the flyswatter over the camera, allowing Morgan to rush over to The Locked Room and let himself in. With that done, Tammy retreats to... the storage room. Yes, having spent all morning hiding in a storage closet, she's clearly developed Stockholm Syndrome with the room itself and is never going to leave it.

Inside The Locked Room, it's an office setup. There's a computer that's scrolling through all the patients' info, and none of this is interesting to Morgan, but there's another door with noises coming from behind it, so he goes over and peeks in there.

In that room, there's a sofa and living room furniture. But there's another room beyond that, so Morgan goes in there...

At this point I'm kind of hoping he ends up in an endless maze of decorated, empty rooms. But, no, it's much more exciting than that.

The third door is a bedroom. There's a wheelchair and a woman's wig lying around, which Morgan wants to pick up for some reason (?), when suddenly the door opens and in comes...



So apparently he's not dead, which makes sense, because he was pretty safely protected from the fire. It never made much sense for him to be dead anyway. Kudos to Rothdiener for clearing up one glaring plothole. Now only 9,999,999 to go.
Shocked, he eyed the man who only a few months earlier had been so fit and debonair. Now, before him stood the merest shell of a man— bald, skin and bones.
...Is Doctor L. L. the old woman in the wheelchair? Because that is the most bizarre, creepy turn of events. His wife dies so he starts impersonating an old lady because... WHO KNOWS WHY.
Noticeably out-of-breath, Layland spoke slowly in a weakened, hoarse voice. “I told Lance you’d figure it out. But he said you could not know yet, in case you turned our offer down.”
Well, actually, Lance kept telling them to ask Skye about all of this. But he must have known that the Hamiltons would want to do crazy spying stuff instead of, you know, finding out the answers the sane way.

Morgan asks him why all the secrets:
“I’m protecting my family,” Layland said. Even in his weakened voice, the anger came through loud and clear. “And perhaps the world as well.” 
“Protecting your family from what?” 
“People like the Klitous, the government, politicians, pharmaceutical firms, even my own family. I’ve been fighting them, and I will continue to do so.”
I don't know about you, but this all kind of sounds like the ramblings of a very paranoid man. When he can't give specifics and instead says all these vague things about "the government" coming after his family... I'm not sure I'd take all of this at face value. The man's clearly not well.

He shares his rags-to-riches story and complains that "people like the Klitous and others" are trying to take away his hard-earned wealth. Morgan, true to form, just scowls and demands that he answer the question - why all the secrets?
“I’m sure you’ve figured it out already,” Layland said. “You and Tammy are brilliant!”

Morgan confirms that they found a treatment for Batten that would slow it down. Doctor L. L. wanted to go public with it, but Malinda Leontiou was worried pharmaceutical companies would steal their information and use it for themselves. So they just didn't tell anybody, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you support the efforts of rare childhood disease cures.

Doctor L. L. also worries about the government again, and Morgan asks:
“When you say ‘government,’ do you mean your government?”
Who IS Doctor L. L.'s government? His island is its own freaking country. Of which he is clearly the head, since he has all the money and there doesn't seem to be anyone else in charge. Is Lance secretly the king/dictator/president? Is Morgan referring to the Greek government?

Doctor L. L. avoids the question by saying that it doesn't matter, all governments are the same, so, um, there's that answer. He continues to confirm that Skye has Batten and says Dr. Rozak was the neurologist who first treated her.
“The bracelet the girls wear is more than a tracking device, isn’t it?” 
“Yes. It monitors their vital signs and indicators twenty-four hours a day. We know if their heart races or plummets, or if their blood pressure elevates or drops, and other medical information. The data is transferred immediately back to the main computer in the lab.” 
Morgan was entranced by what he was hearing.
HOLY CRAP, Morgan, Tammy JUST told you all this in the last chapter, AND Dr. Rozak talked about this like six chapters ago, where you all oohed and ahhed over such advanced medical technology that lets you track patient monitors through bracelets. If Morgan ever wants to deserve Doctor L. L.'s hilariously pronounced title of "brilliant," he's gotta stop reacting like he's just figured out things he's already been told twice and then being shocked again when it's confirmed.

Doctor L. L. says they left the cruise early because Skye's bracelet said her indicators had changed. He says all the girls at the clinic (do they not treat boys here? That's never really been addressed) were on injections of the treatment, but now the shots are "all gone" and the girls are getting worse.

(If Markus' wife managed to hack into a computer and physically remove shots from the clinic, I am going to be very, very impressed with her computer skills.)

Doctor L. L. continues to give back story: Malinda Leontiou had made this new medicine out of dolphin stem cells. It was working on the patients. Then, suddenly, it wasn't working, so they had to make a stronger version, and if they didn't win at making a stronger version, all the "replacement genes" they'd injected into the kids earlier could actually turn into evil genes and spread the disease faster.

Then the computer was hacked while they were working on this stronger version and EVERYTHING WENT CRAZY and the lab exploded and all the scientists in the room were exposed to the live virus so they all died. But because Malinda's computer was gone and Malinda was dead, nobody knew how to make the stronger strain anymore.



That's why he can't treat kids with Batten now? Because Malinda didn't believe in backups?

OK, well, it turns out they believed in backups, but by that they just mean "saving it to other computers on the same network," not like, you know, actual useful ones, saved on outside hard drives or to a cloud drive somewhere. So when the computer was hacked and a virus put on it, it wiped out the entire network of computers so now nobody knows the recipe for the cure.

OH HEY, here's Ty randomly again:
[“]Hours later, Ty had rebooted the system. It was then we realized we had been hacked, and a virus had been planted inside the system. The virus found its way into the main processor. Unfortunately, it was propagating faster than Ty could correct it.[”]
So I guess Ty(rion) is one of their IT guys?

Doctor L. L. says Malinda just died a few days ago.
“That was why Skye was so upset,” Morgan mumbled. “Things are finally starting to make sense.” 
“Yes. My little girl has had a lot to deal with.” 
No one had to convince Morgan how amazing Skye was. He’d never seen anyone who impacted as many lives as that young girl. She was beyond amazing.
Here, Rothdiener suddenly remembered that the book hadn't mention in a long time that Skye was Girl Jesus, so he tossed this in.

Doctor L. L. also got a dose of the Batten virus when he went in to save Malinda, so he's dying too, but he nobly refuses to use any of the injections that are left on himself. He finishes the chapter by explaining that he built this clinic mostly for Skye, and, yes, they do only treat girls with Batten.

The chapter ends here, somewhat abruptly, but, hey, at least we got some answers! They're stupid answers, but they're answers!

(Chapter 28.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Life, Love and the Movies Blogathon

Today I am participating in the Life, Love and the Movies Blogathon, hosted by Nostra over at Myfilmviews. Basically, the idea is that you answer the following questions about how life and love and the movies all connect for you. It's a fun series of questions, and here are my answers!


1. What was the first movie you saw in the cinema and what do you remember about that visit?

I mush together two early movie viewings in my life. I know I saw Beauty and the Beast in theaters, and I know I saw a re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I mostly remember thinking the screen was really big (we had a tiny little TV at home).

I also remember that before one of these movies, they played an ad for Hocus Pocus, which scared my little brother so much that my mom had to take him out of the theater. I'm not sure he ever even got to see whichever movie we were actually watching.

2. Are there any movies you have very strong memories of which are not because of the movie (for example something which happened at the time you were watching it)?

Oh, sure. I actually wrote a post about that here. To just choose one, let's go with... when I went and saw The Game Plan with a group of people I wasn't yet terribly good friends with. I was not enjoying the movie (because, well, it's not a very good one) and just couldn't help getting snarky about it and predicting what was going to happen next. One of the people with me thought it was hilarious and joined in... at which point our group made us go sit somewhere else because they were tired of us ruining the story for them. That snarky friend is now my best female friend and was the matron of honor at my wedding. I think of that day as being one of the milestones in our friendship.

3. Which movies had a big impact on you and changed a (small) part of your view on life?

Generally, the movies that impact me are not because they changed me so much as because they spoke to me about something I already believed. I do think one of the things movies does amazingly with changing people is instilling a sense of empathy. The movie Unforgiven isn't the one that impacted me the most, but it's what comes to mind - it builds up its character so carefully and lets you identify with him, and then suddenly when he starts making bad decisions, you see where it has come from and how he got to where he is.

This translates into real life in that even if I don't know someone's motivations for the mean/stupid/awful/annoying things they do, I am able to at least come up with one and put myself in their shoes for a minute. It's a lot harder to hate someone if you can imagine what it must be like from their point of view.

4. Do you have any comfort movies which you return to because you are in a specific mood (for example if you are feeling down/nursing a heartbreak)?

Singin' in the Rain is my I-need-to-feel-better movie.
The Angels in America miniseries is my I-need-to-feel-worse-before-I-can-feel-better movie.
And Lars and the Real Girl is my I-need-to-feel-goodness-exists movie.

5. If a movie would be made about your life, what type of movie would it be and who would you like to portray you?

I'm thinking indie comedy drama. There are plenty of quirky characters surrounding me, and that's the realm they'd fit into best. I want Anna Kendrick to play me, because she is awesome. Although, really, I don't know who would play me. I'm not awesome enough for Anna Kendrick. I'm terrible at these types of questions.

6. Which existing movie best represents you?

I've been asked this similar question before, and I always want to say Annie Hall. Its mix of cynicism and sentiment kind of perfectly captures how I think about things. There's a reason I like it so much. But I do think that the more I watch it, the more Lars and the Real Girl might be the right answer... specifically because it works so hard to make everyone the good guy. So maybe I'm Annie Hall but if I were a better person, I'd be Lars and the Real Girl.

7. If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be the last movie you would want to see?

I think I'd want to watch Love Actually one last time and die happy.

8. If you can spend your life working in the film industry, what would you be and why? (you know, director, producer, actor, cinematographer, costume designer, sound designer etc?)

I'd love to be either a writer or a director. Maybe both. I love writing and I love directing. I think writing would be the way to go, because then I could mostly avoid the awkwardness of the spotlight while still knowing that something you created was out there for people to see.


1. Did you ever have a first kiss with someone while at the cinema and if so which movie was playing?

I did not. I have only had one first kiss, and it was not at the movies.

2. What is your favorite movie relationship and why?

Oh, gosh. That's a tough one. I love Link and Tracy from Hairspray because it's so refreshing to see the traditionally "unattractive" girl get the guy. I love WALL-E and Eve because I love how they capture this incredible sense of romance between two characters who really never speak. I love Alvy and Annie in Annie Hall because... just because. I love all the relationships in Love Actually because they just make me so very happy. So... all of those?

3. When did your love for movies start and how has it grown?

I'm not even sure I can say when it started. I started really watching a lot of movies when I was 16 or so, but even then I'm not sure I'd say I loved them. I just thought I should see more of them. I've definitely grown into loving them, and now they're some of my very favorite things in the world.

4. If you have to choose one film to watch with your loved one, what would it be and why?

It should be something we both really enjoy. The first thing that comes to mind is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which we saw together and loved instantly even though most of our other friends didn't quite "get" it. The Cabin in the Woods would also be a fun choice.

5. If you can choose one character from a movie to be your significant other who would it be and why?

My fictional boyfriend has always been Cyrano de Bergerac, from virtually any movie version of the play. Or any stage version. Or the print version. Cyrano is the best.

6. What was the first movie that made you fall in in love with film and cinema?

Like I said in #3, I can't even remember when I started loving movies, so I definitely can't remember this one. It wasn't a sudden change, like one day I didn't love movies and then I watched American Beauty and I loved movies all of a sudden. It was... slow growth, as I read more about them and watched more of them and learned more how to communicate about them.

7. How did your passion for movies turn you into a movie blogger?

Well, I blog about everything else I love. Of course I'm going to blog about movies as well.

8. What is your favorite date from a movie?

Date Night! Just kidding, that one is not so successful. I don't know about this one either. I'm going to have to ponder it for awhile. This blog is being written slightly ahead of when it's published, so if this answer is still here as you're reading this... you'll know I didn't actually come up with an answer. And then you can judge me if you'd like.

Monday, January 27, 2014

When Introverts Get Lonely

Every once in awhile I'll mention something about being lonely or wanting to be with people and get a dubious response from whoever I'm talking with, as if an introvert could never be lonely, because isn't the whole idea that introverts don't want to be with people? Of course, that's not the case. Introverts like their alone time, but they value time spent with people they care about as well, and when they go awhile without it, they get lonely just like extroverts do. It may take a little bit longer for the joy of solitude to wear off for us, but it happens.

The problem is that, sometimes, we spend so much time seeking solitude during our busy overpeopled times that we end up accidentally isolated when we need people time.

That's been a huge adjustment for me the past few months. I spent the first 26 years of my life looking for ways to get away and have a break from people. I went from living with my family of ten to traveling in the drama company to college to living with four roommates in a tiny trailer to living with my family again. Then, suddenly, I found myself in a situation where, even though I am living with someone, I'm completely alone for a good 8-10 hours every day. I work from home and don't have a vehicle of my own, so while my husband is at work, I'm by myself.

For the first four months, I was like, "WOOHOO LOOK AT ALL THIS ME TIME I GET!" And it was wonderful. But then we went to Illinois to visit my family for Thanksgiving and I came back home with a profound sense of aloneness, and not in a positive way. I was suddenly struck by the fact that I no longer always had someone around to hang out with if I wanted to, and I began craving more human interaction.

Turns out when you're not constantly in a situation where you have to socialize with people, it's easy to withdraw until you've withdrawn yourself all the way out into hermitiness.


Still working on how to fix this for myself in my current situation. With no outside job and no vehicle, it's hard to do things like finding activities to get involved in. These are a few of the things I'm trying to see if I can regularly recharge my social meter:

1. Take advantage of any social opportunities that DO come along.

There's at least a part of me that will always go, "Ugh," to being a part of any social gathering, just out of habit. I'm getting better at reminding myself that, no, I want to do this. And then my brain goes, "Oh, yeah! This will probably be fun and good for me right now!" and I can cheerfully go off to church or a planned event or, heck, even a trip to the grocery store where people might be. (Just as even being in the same room as others can drain me when I'm overpeopled, being in the same room with others can recharge me a little bit when I need it.)

2. Reconnect with friends via the Internet.

I used to be big on texting and chatting with my long-distance friends, and I've lost some of that. A lot of us are really-for-real-now in the adult world, married, with kids, with jobs, with responsibilities, and it's easy to lose track of far-away friends in the shuffle. I've been trying to deliberately reach out to some old friends and reconnect with them, even if it's just a text or a Facebook message saying I'm thinking of them.

3. Look for meaningful conversations.

I can keep myself socially afloat by exchanging pleasantries with grocery store cashiers and people at church, but it's not satisfying. It's like keeping yourself alive by eating cotton candy when, really, what you need is an actual meal. Sometimes a single thoughtful, meaningful, significant conversation, even if it's with someone I barely know, can be enough to keep me going socially for weeks. I have been working to seek out these conversations and make the most of them.

How about you guys - especially my introvert friends? How do you deal with loneliness?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend Reads

I'm trying something new here. Every Saturday, I'll post a few links to blogs that I read the previous week and liked enough to share. It could be 2, it could be 20, it just depends on what I read that week. Either way, I thought these links were worth passing on to you guys. I did something like this a while back but I'd like to make it a more regular thing.


Christian Music Supergroups Poised to Take the World By Storm, at Stuff Christians Like
The Goo Goo Ga Ga Güngör Tour 
What do you get when you combine hit rock group, the headline-catching artist who brought us hits like “Poker Face” and the band who’s bringing umlaut back? You get the Goo Goo Ga Ga Güngör Tour, coming to a city near you. This is the biggest and strangest thing to entertain kids’ ears since Yo Gabba Gabba.

Social Media as Sacrament: A Thought For Rachel, at Experimental Theology
A lot of us started out on the Jesus-life as radical young idealists. And then reality hit. 
And I wonder--and I am just wondering here--if something similar doesn't happen with social media. We start thinking our blogs or Twitter accounts are "platforms," locations were social media influence can be used to make the world a better place.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 26

Recap: Morgan and Tammy have to decide by morning whether they're going to stay at the clinic, so they have formulated a plan that includes them waiting until noon, spying on Skye because she might be lying about eating lunch with her friends, and somehow sneaking into the room with The Locked Door. Will they be successful? Well, we'll find out.

In the morning, as always, Tammy goes to do actual work at the clinic while Morgan wanders around the beach with Skye, looking for shells. Is this how he administrates his clinic at home, too? If so, they probably shouldn't hire him here.

Skye lays out her plan for a bigger, safer playground for the Batten kids, with rubber mulch and safety pads and more plants. These are pretty decent ideas, and after sharing them, Skye skips off to join her friends.
Ty joined Morgan. “I bet she’s talking to you about her playground idea.”
Wait. Who?

I just did a search in the book. (Yay for ebooks where this is easy to do.) Nobody named Ty has been mentioned at all thus far. What the crap? Where'd he come from? Who is he? Is he a child? Is he a doctor? Is he playground supervisor? Has he even met Morgan before?

Since we haven't been told otherwise, I will assume "Ty" is short for "Tyrion Lannister," because crossovers are cool and, much as I hate all the Game of Thrones characters, they're still not as despicable as the Hamiltons.
“I think she needs to be put in charge of this facility.” Morgan chuckled.
I think she does, too, since Morgan's certainly not doing his job.

Ty(rion) and Morgan chat for awhile. Ty(rion) tells Morgan about a cute restaurant on the island and tells Morgan he and Tammy should stay at the clinic. Skye goes to "eat with the kids" and Morgan sneaks off to go spy on her. Because he's a good person that way.

And then...

Skye opens The Locked Door and walks on in.

Because of COURSE Morgan's out-of-nowhere idiot hunch that Skye was doing something suspicious during lunchtime would be right.

Morgan tries to open the door, but, um, it's a Locked Door (has he learned nothing?) and then a guard appears behind him.
“I thought I saw Skye go in here, and I wanted to talk with her.” 
“I believe she did go in there. That’s where she finds comfort. Poor girl has been through a lot,” the guard’s reply seemed rehearsed. 
“I’m sorry. You’re right. I guess she does need her privacy.”
Oh, silly Hamiltons, with your talk about "privacy" as if that's something you believe people should be allowed to have!
Morgan turned to see Tammy hiding in a storage room across the hall. 
Making sure the guard was out of sight, he darted into the room. “I thought we were supposed to meet in that other room. What are you doing here?” he whispered. 
“A little covert action. I held the door open a crack and looked though this little lens. Guess what? I got the combination when Skye went in.” She held up a small telescope.



So Tammy has just... what, spent her morning hiding in the storage room with a telescope watching the Locked Door in case someone went in? Looks like neither of them have done anything productive at all this morning.

You know what could have been almost as effective as all this? ASKING SKYE ABOUT IT. Like they've been told to several times. They are NOT in a spy movie, much as they would like to think they are, and all this sneaking around "covert action" nonsense is just ridiculous.

The combination is "8-16-1." Tammy excitedly says that that's the number she saw on the mysterious green screen. Morgan points out that Tammy said the numbers on the screens were the kids' birthdays. They suddenly both realize that 8/16/01 is Skye's birthday, which leads them to the conclusion that Skye has Batten and is actually a patient here.


Morgan points out what I've been thinking, however, that she should have progressed much further than occasional clumsiness by now, so the Hamiltons decide that obviously the Leontious found a cure/treatment/way to slow the progression but only had enough for Skye so decided to keep it to themselves.

Then their theories REALLY get elaborate.
Morgan sighed. “I suppose that’s possible, but I think it’s more than that. You said that all the girls seemed to be okay until about six weeks ago?”
*blink* Did she?

Nope. Just did another search. She has said nothing of the kind. Did I skip a chapter? Maybe there's a secret chapter out there where Ty shows up, introduces himself, Tammy says, "The girls seemed to be okay until about six weeks ago," and Ty says, "OK," and leaves.

The Hamiltons rack their brains to figure out what could have happened six weeks ago, and then Morgan remembers his video chat with Skye.
“I was talking to Skye in my office a couple of months ago, when something happened... something that frightened Skye. There were sirens and alarms going off in the background.” 
“What are you getting at? Do you think that’s when Klitou hacked the computer?”
...What, and set off the "We're being hacked" sirens and alarms? Tammy is making huge leaps of assumption, but turns out she's on the right path, because J. L. Rothdiener apparently has a master plan in mind and can't be bothered with making his characters realistically figure it out. Well, I mean, to be fair, they couldn't possibly realistically figure this out, because it doesn't make much sense.
“Right! What if the computer crashed during a precise step of an experiment? Lance told us that Skye’s parents were killed by a laboratory accident. If the computer was hacked at the right time— or rather, the wrong time— it might have triggered a chain reaction...” 
Tammy continued the train of logic. “... which not only destroyed the computer, but caused an explosion and fire that killed her parents. It possibly did more damage than we’ve been told about.”
This is making me crazy. Because this is clearly an insane theory, but it's clearly also meant to be the correct one. The computer COULD have been hacked to do something idiotic like "open the experiment door" because apparently it was connected to that and a simple crash broke everything.

But in general, hacking a computer system should not cause a lab explosion. Because there should be backups and safeguards for this, and doors should stay closed, and robot hands should not just go crazy if medical records are deleted.

There is no "train of logic" that leads to this conclusion. It doesn't make any sense.

But I have a horrible feeling it is the right answer. And it is making me sad.

Tammy suddenly decides Skye's GPS bracelet is extra significant, but maybe it's just because it proves she's a patient:
“All the girls’ vital signs are monitored through the bracelets, twenty-four hours a day.” 
“That’s too sci-fi,” Morgan said skeptically.
"Not at all realistic and down-to-earth like my knowledge of computers and hacking. Next you'll be telling me people can video chat with me through my website!"

Lance also has a bracelet, so they decide they're using the bracelets to track everybody, but then they reassure each other that nobody knows they're hiding in the storage room because THEY don't have bracelets. They are free from that Big Brother tyranny.

Skye leaves The Locked Room and takes off. Morgan tells Tammy their new spy plan: She's going to take a flyswatter, hold it in front of the security camera lens to cover it, and then Morgan will sneak inside. Because that won't look at all suspicious to the guard who's apparently just standing in front of the door all the time. They definitely won't get caught doing that.

I'd have thought I'd be relieved to not have much Skye in this section of the book, but Morgan and Tammy's insane paranoid conspiracy theories (which will somehow all be correct) are equally exhausting.

And we're STILL only 67% of the way through this garbage.

(Chapter 27.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Talking About Depression Now

(A bit of blog business first: I have created a Facebook page specifically for my blog. You can "like" it and then be able to see updates there. I'll also be posting there asking for feedback, blog ideas, and perhaps occasionally posting things that might be relevant to my readers, that sort of thing. Head on over and like the page!)

I kept being reminded this month of an article I read on NPR last fall. It starts off discussing Allie Brosh's book and then goes on to talk about the stigma of discussing depression, not as a past life struggle, but as a current "no, this is happening to me now" kind of thing:
In the conversations surrounding her book, Brosh has made it clear that she is not looking at depression in the rearview mirror in some sort of "let me tell you about this thing that happened to me once" kind of way. She's in it, and she lives with it, and sometimes it's better, and sometimes it's worse. It means you don't see her for a while, because she's a real person and it's a real thing.
And, later:
We're more accustomed as readers to the memoir model, where depression — or addiction, or even ordinary anxiety — appears as a monster from the past, one against which you still have to bolt the door every day, but one that's not there right now, not interfering with your writing about it, not writing about it with you. 
Let me tell you, bloggers like Allie Brosh and Jenny Lawson and Wil Wheaton, who are willing to share their stories about dealing with depression here and now, as they write, are incredibly encouraging to me.

It means that someone else feels the way I do.

Better yet, it means that someone successful, who I admire and who has written books and gained fans and has real Twitter followers they've never met, feels the way I do.

Whenever Jenny Lawson talks about her social anxiety, I feel a kinship with her, and I feel like if someone else goes through that kind of thing, then maybe it's not as awful as I think when I spend my morning freaking out about having to make a phone call.

When Wil Wheaton posts a blog where it's clear that depression and anxiety are attacking his brain, I think, "If someone who still feels like this sometimes has been able to do all this cool stuff with his life... then maybe if I still feel like this sometimes, I'm not completely broken and I'll be able to pull something cool out of my life."

And I can't even put into words how much I love Allie Brosh's two-part series on depression over at her blog. Just read it. I linked to the first part up above.

It's so much easier to talk about depression and anxiety as if I'm over it. It's far more tempting to look strong and triumphant over a past battle than it is to admit that last Wednesday, instead of writing or working or doing anything positive, you just sat on the couch for six hours and cried. But sometimes somebody else you know spent that Wednesday crying on their couch, too. And sometimes it helps to have a reminder that other people, both people close to us and people we admire from afar, sit on their couches and cry for a day.

We're all pretty broken people, whether it's depression or something else. And since we're not there for most other people's breakdowns the way we are for all of our own, it's easy to feel like you are the only one.

So every once in awhile I try to write up something like this that says, "Hey. If you're feeling dumb or worthless or broken today... me too!"

Sometimes just hearing "me too" is exactly what my soul needs to begin the climb back up the hill.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Best of 2013: On This Blog

This is apparently a thing bloggers do, and I'm trying to be a real blogger this year, so here are my ten most-viewed posts of 2013, in case you missed any of them or want to revisit them.

10. An Introvert's Guide to Making Friends (March 11)
Probably 90% of my close friends are people I met while we were doing something we both loved, like participating in a young writer's group, watching movies, or doing theater. Meeting someone like this gives you an instant common bond, for one thing. For another, although sometimes it's hard to get introverts to talk, usually they just need the right subject. Once we start discussing something we really care about, it's getting us to shut up that's the problem. Even an introvert like me can get into great discussions with complete strangers when it's centered around something we both really love.
9. My Top 6 TV Shows of All Time (August 7)
It's hard to think of a show with higher rewatch value than Arrested Development. There are so many little foreshadowing jokes and throw-away lines that it's simply impossible to catch them all the first time around. The more you watch it, the funnier it gets. I still occasionally get a joke for the first time, and I've seen the series probably four or five times all the way through.
8. It Is Not Your Job To Expand My Comfort Zone (June 6)
Deciding you're going to "fix" me and my introversion is essentially telling me the following: "You're a pretty good person, but you'd be a better one if you were more like me." It implies that I don't see my own flaws, am powerless to overcome them, and want desperately to be like you. It's extremely condescending to just self-appoint yourself my guru. It tells me that you think of yourself as the superior and me as the inferior (especially if you don't believe me if I tell you I'm fine or would rather not do this) . If I thought we were on pretty equal footing up until this point, this is a huge blow to the friendship.
7. Wedding Pictures (July 22)
Last week, my photographer sister sent me all the photos she took of my wedding and the week before it. I figured this would be an appropriate time to post a few of my favorites, for those who either 1) do not have Facebook, or 2) do not feel like looking through the EIGHTEEN JILLION PICTURES I uploaded onto there. So here are some of the ones I was happiest with.
6. Top 100 Showtunes: 100-91 (February 22)
Several years ago, on my Facebook, I did a countdown of my all-time favorite showtunes. Since then I have discovered quite a few new shows and new songs, and I figured it was time for an update. So for the next several Fridays, I'll be counting down my all-time favorite showtunes from #100 to #1.
5. Posts From the Past: A Collection of Tiny Posts (May 22)
Bethany just found a note that Joel wrote a few months ago when he was planning to run away. It read, "Bye Micah and Seth. Beat the DS game. Love, Joel."
4. "Love Is a Choice" Is My Back Up Plan (July 31)
God cares about the feeling. He wants you to marry someone for whom you feel love. The choice isn't ever meant to replace the feeling entirely. The choice is the back up. The choice is what you fall back on during those days, weeks, months when you've had it up to here with your significant other, and you just don't feel like you love them anymore. That's when you realize love isn't just a feeling, it is also a choice, and you can choose to love them with your actions and your decisions and hope in time the feeling will return.
I just rewatched [Singin' in the Rain] the other day and was struck again by how pervasive the sense of glee is. Every single song and dance number is done with such a deliberate sense of "I'm throwing all my cares away to sing because it FEELS GOOD, guys," that you can't help but be sucked into it. I've written many times about the genius of the "Moses" dance number, which has zero point in the movie, plotwise, but it is the absolute epitome of that goofy sense of play that runs throughout the entire movie. I can't watch any of the musical numbers in this without smiling.
I recently watched this YouTube video over on the Geek and Sundry vloggers channel, ranking the top 10 male-sung Disney songs, and all I could think was, "Well, that was a predictable list." But it did inspire me to write my own!
1. Introverts and Online Interactions (February 6)
Many introverts are seen as having nothing to say, when really, they're just still processing how to say it. Online, this is not as much of an issue. Introverts often express themselves best in written form because it lets them work out the words they want to use without having to constantly verbally backtrack. What I say is precisely what I mean to say online. I have stated it so that there is little danger of it being misunderstood. Online interaction is the perfect answer for those of us who only finish constructing our replies after the conversation has moved on to something else.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 25

Recap: Markus the reporter has been rescued from the island (and is going home to visit his very sick, possibly tumor-ridden daughter). Lance the Tennis Player was a major jerk to everyone involved in taking him back to Greece. Also, we've learned that the Leontious' island is its own country.
The next few days the Hamiltons began to feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
Somebody else must have given them another couple tours. Seriously, though, are they going to make a decision at any point? They're just kind of lounging around, and given the fact that the fate of the entire world apparently hangs on them adopting Skye (as they clearly want to do) and running the clinic (as they clearly want to do) and their only reason to not move here is because they don't want to live in Greece (which they won't have to do anyway because this island is apparently its own country now) ... you'd think they'd have said yes by now. Heck, even if only so they could get the key to the Locked Door.

Tammy and Dr. Rozak work together installing new equipment. Apparently "[s]oon the facility would be fully functional". What? It's not functional now? That is not safe for a bunch of really extremely sick girls. Why isn't it functional? Is it because they lost records when Markus hacked their computers? Is it because of the fire that killed the Leontious? (I guess I would argue that the fire occurred because important things like, ya know, doors weren't fully functional before they started doing dangerous explosive experiments.)
While his wife was busy at the clinic, Morgan investigated the island thoroughly.
I TOLD YOU THERE HAD TO BE MORE TOURS. This one is just self-guided. Seriously, is Morgan ever going to do anything besides wander around the island? If he's prepping to maybe take over as administrator, maybe he should administrate. Apparently he hangs out with Skye all day, but then at noon she goes to eat with her friends. This is important because he gets randomly suspicious of it later.

Oh. Huh. The old lady in the wheelchair isn't who died in the ER, because Tammy sees Skye talking to her several times. Or maybe the old lady's a ghost. That'd be a fun twist.
[The old lady] always seemed to disappear before Tammy could reach her. When she asked Skye about her, she would reply, “She’s just someone special.”
...Well, dang. She really might be a ghost.
It had been six days since the Hamiltons arrived on the island. Each night they would get together and talk about the day’s events. It was quite a contrast from back home, where they barely spoke a word to each other at the end of the day.
Well, here they get to do exciting things like take tours and install equipment. Back home they were just treating sick kids and accidentally video chatting.

Morgan wants to take the job, but Tammy is hesitant. I feel like Morgan doesn't really have a feel for the actual job yet, seeing as he's doing absolutely nothing but wandering around the island with Skye. Tammy at least is trying to work alongside the doctors she'd be working with in the actual clinic, so kudos to her.

One night, Tammy reveals that though there are only 23 patients in the clinic officially, she found "three additional screens" from her work on the computer. I have no idea what she means by screens. As she goes on, I think she's talking about files she found on the computer, but she keeps calling them "screens," and listen to how she describes them:
“What’s weird is that there are no pictures, no names, no birthdates, only medical information, and a number.”  
“What color are the screens?” 
“One was red, with all indicators in the critical area. The second screen was green, but the vitals were declining on that patient, also. The third screen was completely black.”
Now that doesn't sound like files anymore, it sounds like she actually somehow physically found three separate monitors somewhere that are showing this random information. But every child doesn't get their own monitor as far as I know, so I don't know why she would see these and be like, "These are for three extra people!"
“Could those screens be the average of the twenty-three patients?” 
“I thought of that possibility, but I don’t think so. They were password protected, so I couldn’t access them.”
What? If they were password protected how could she tell that there were no pictures, no names, no birthdates, only medical information and a number and what all the indicators said on the screens?! What the heck else did she think there was to access? And I don't understand why all the secrecy. Can't she just be like, "Hey, Dr. Rozak, these 'screens' have a password, what are they for?" They clearly have a problem with keeping their data secure, so password protection isn't sinister so much as it is a basic security precaution.

Morgan asks if she's made any progress on The Locked Door while he's been off gallivanting, and she says the old lady in the wheelchair isn't dead. So we're caught up there. She comments on how strange The Locked Door is and says once she tried to get in and a guard appeared behind her. And also there are security cameras.

Morgan then comes up with the worst plan of all time.
“Now, on a different subject. I made an executive decision. This is what I think we should do. I’m going to spend time with Skye tomorrow. When she leaves at noon, I’ll follow her and watch where she goes. Once I discover that, I’ll meet you in the room across from the ER. Since I know she’ll be gone the entire lunch hour, we’ll have time to figure out how to get into that room. We’re going to find out once and for all what’s going on, if anything. I believe what’s in that room holds the key, but time is running out. We have until morning to make up our minds about staying here. We deserve answers!”
What the crap?

Let's begin at the beginning.

1) That is not on a different subject. That is the exact same subject: What To Do About the Locked Door Which Is So Freaking Mysterious and So Much More Important Than the Fact That a Communist Is Trying To Use the Hamiltons To Destroy the World.

2) I don't think Morgan should be the one making the executive decisions here. Tammy's doing all the detective work, including picking up on things like Markus' confession two chapters ago.

3) Way to trust Skye, Morgan. She says she's meeting her friends for lunch and you're being a jerk about it and being like, "That's what she says, but where is she REALLY going?"

4) For that matter, why do you care? Can't you just let her have some time by herself?

5) You've been puzzling over what to do about The Locked Door for like three or four days now, and you're convinced you're going to figure out in the span of an hour how to get into it, what with the cameras and the guards and the lockedness?

6) "What's in that room" holds the key? To what? The Leontious' death? The restoration of Greece's economy? Killing the communists? Giving Tammy a baby? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

7) Besides, Lance the Tennis Player has already told you that Skye is the key and to ask her about it. But have you done that? No, you've decided Skye is not the key, the Locked Door is the key and communication is for losers. Sneaking around is much more fun.

8) WHY CAN'T THEY ASK FOR THE KEY TO THE LOCKED DOOR? They can just make it contingent upon their decision to stay. "We want to stay here, but we need transparency. What's going on in there?" How is this plan not umpteen times better than his? You say you deserve answers, but, dude, the solution to your problem is right there in the Bible: "You do not have because you do not ask."

There is so much ridiculous conspiracy "lookee me, I'm a spy now!" nonsense in that paragraph.

There's a movie I really love (which I'm not revealing the name of because I have to get super spoilery here to make my point). The basic idea is that an extremely paranoid man ends up getting very close to a very lonely woman, and by the end of the movie, the relationship has gotten all psychologically tangled up in the paranoia, which she has kind of latched onto in her mind as a way of relating to him. The final scene is this completely terrifying scene where he helps her create this enormous conspiracy encompassing nearly everything that's ever happened to her, making it fit, making the inexplicable facts of one person's life fit someone else's. It's a horrifying almost-monologue as you watch her just spiral and spiral and spiral into madness.

That is what that paragraph was like.

(Chapter 26.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Best and Worst of 2013: Movies

Last year I went through every one of the movies I saw in 2012, from worst to best, and gave a tiny capsule review. I am... not going to do that this year. But I will give you my ten best and ten worst and then a few extra silly awards handed out for good measure.

Top Ten Worst Movies I Saw in 2013 (From Least to Most Terrible)
10. Warm Bodies (2013). All the more frustrating because the first half hour was so creative and original. Then it's all thrown away with the stupidest ending they could possibly have thought of.
9. The Devil Is a Woman (1935). A confusing melodrama that plays up all the annoyingness of the femme fatale.
8. She's the Man (2006). A terrible modernized version of one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. Amanda Bynes is ever so unfunny.
7. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011). Good thing I watched this one with Jacob and was able to snark loudly at it the whole way through. That's the only way to get through it.
6. Men in Black II (2002). This sequel is annoying and not in the least bit funny.
5. The Birth of a Nation (1915). I know it's important, but it was so boring.
4. Pierrot le Fou (1965). I can't even remember what this was about, but I remember disliking it.
3. Barry Lyndon (1975). Barry has to be one of the most unlikable characters in the world.
2. The Mask (1994). My siblings heard me literally screaming at this movie the whole time I was watching it from my room upstairs.
1. Identity Thief (2013). One of the least funny comedies I think I have seen in my entire life. Even funny people like Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy couldn't save this. This was so painful.

Top Ten Best Movies I Saw in 2013 (From Least to Most Awesome)
10. Ruby Sparks (2012). A fantastically creative and original story about relationships. This one kind of flew under the radar, but it's absolutely worth the watch.
9. Seven Psychopaths (2012). I had so much fun with this one, I watched it three separate times because I kept telling people they needed to watch it. Hilarious and poignant and moving, and Sam Rockwell wins everything.
8. Silver Linings Playbook (2012). The only one of last year's Best Picture nominees I really loved, with a compelling script and great performances.
7. Pitch Perfect (2012). No judging. I can't help how awesome Anna Kendrick is at freaking everything she does.
6. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Yes, I did watch movies not from 2012. This is one of the few westerns I've seen that I really enjoyed. James Stewart is just wonderful in this.
5. Trust (2010). A dark, marvelously scripted drama with some incredible acting.
4. Much Ado About Nothing (2012). Joss Whedon knows how to get good performances from his actors, whether they're speaking Buffyspeak or Shakespearean verse.
3. The World's End (2013). Loved this and laughed so hard all the way through. Wonderful end to the Cornetto Trilogy.
2. Better Off Dead... (1985). The most surprising discovery from my 28 Days of Romance challenge. It's darkly hilarious and absurd. The only movie that made me laugh more in 2013 was...
1. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). Everything that was good about the first Anchorman movie, times a thousand. I almost could not breathe during the fight scene because I was laughing so hard.

And now, some random awards.

Made Me Feel Most Awkwardly Embarrassed For Everyone Involved: The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012). Let us particularly note the "Low Rider" scene.

Made Me Most Hate Likable Actors: Admission (2013). How do you make Tina Fey and Paul Rudd so annoying?

Most Awkward Christmas Special: Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977). Let's celebrate the true meaning of Christmas: an awkward donkey whose mother froze to death and who was led by Cupid to Bethlehem.

Most Unnecessarily Long Shots Ever: Stalker (1979). We've been watching them look pensively into that tunnel for like three minutes now. Is something going to happen? No? Then why are we still watching?

Had Most Fun Live-Tweeting: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). You can all look forward to me live-tweeting the sequel as well when I get around to it.

Creepiest Appearance From a Non-Creepy Actor: The Paperboy (2012). JOHN CUSACK PLEASE DON'T EVER PLAY A BAD GUY AGAIN.

Most Show-Stealing Side Characters: Wreck-It Ralph (2012). Could not have cared less about Ralph and the girl. This should have been an entire movie of the soldier woman and Fix-It Felix.

Best Brad Pitt: Burn After Reading (2008). Alternatively, it's the runner-up in the Most Show-Stealing Side Characters category.

Most Confusing To Me That It Was a Big Deal: ParaNorman (2012). It was a super generic horror flick, but it got all this acclaim because it was animated. Whatever.

Most Disappointing Ending (Besides "Warm Bodies" Which Was So Disappointing It's In My Worst List): The Call (2013). This was very nearly a 4 1/2-star movie, guys.

Least Team-y Team Fighting Movie: The Avengers (2012). Assemble, dang it, assemble!

Best Rescue Scene Ever: Sharknado (2013). If you've seen it, you know EXACTLY what scene I'm talking about. Because there is no better rescue scene in the history of mankind.

Most Surprisingly Good, Given That the Last Thing I Saw This Director Do Is At the Very Bottom of My Flickchart: Chasing Amy (1997). I may have to rethink my disgust for Kevin Smith.

Best Michael Shannon Being Crazy: Premium Rush (2012). Never stop playing crazy, Michael Shannon. NEVER.

Most Shockingly Awesome Sequel: Men in Black 3 (2012). Who'dathunkit?

The Movie My Video Store Almost Never Got Back Because They Suddenly Shut Down Before I Had a Chance to Return It: The Woodsman (2004). I did manage to get it back to them when they had their big "buy all our DVDs" sale. I wouldn't even have returned it then, but they called me and asked for it back.

Least Like The Cover: The Sessions (2012). Like Lars and the Real Girl, though not to that extent, this is a thoughtful, sweet movie whose marketing kinda makes it look like a cheery sex romp.

Best Silent Movie: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927). To my recollection, this is the only silent non-horror, non-comedy I have ever enjoyed.

Most Inferior Original Version: Open Your Eyes (1997). Generally originals are better, but I gotta go with Vanilla Sky on this one.

Best Noir: In a Lonely Place (1950). Does exactly what noir is best at: showing the darker side of humanity. Fantastic.

The Movie You Had To See In Theaters: Gravity (2013). In 3D. Possibly the only movie I will ever say recommend seeing that way.

Made Me Feel Most Oddly At Peace Despite Being a Horrifically Depressing Movie: Melancholia (2011). Maybe it's because you can't actually get more depressing than Kirsten Dunst in this movie, so I felt awesome by comparison.

Monday, January 13, 2014

So Introverts Have People's Attention. Now What?

Quick meta update: I've mentioned this on Facebook but not on my blog and wanted to make it available to blog readers. If you want to follow along with my adventures to watch a movie every weekday this year, most of which are chosen by my friends, not me, you can join my Facebook group at this link. I kick off the challenge today with my viewing of Crazy Heart, so come, join, and chat about movies with me.

I haven't written a lot about introversion on here in awhile, mostly because... I haven't really felt a need to. I haven't encountered a lot of crazy extrovert bias (at least not enough to make me go, "Oh, this is a cultural thing I should respond to!") and in the last few months especially, there have been plenty of introvert-related things popping up all over the Internet. So, as an introvert, I felt pretty comfortable sitting back and letting other people say things. The last time I wrote something about introversion was last September, and that was a response to an extrovert who was mad that people were talking about introversion too much. Heh.

Obviously introverts are getting the word out. In all this, I see lots of introverts embracing and proclaiming their own love for solitude, claiming the label "introvert" without assigning it a negative connotation, and cheerfully announcing they'd rather stay at home than go to a New Year's Eve party, and it's OK.

It's not like we've won the battle and there will never be bias again or anything, but I would say the "raise awareness" part of our little unofficial campaign is going quite well.

So... now what do we do?

Well, here are some thoughts to keep in mind as we watch the tide change on this issue.

1. Let's start assuming people know what we're talking about. Until recently, I did still have to explain everywhere I went that introversion and shyness aren't the same. This is passing into common knowledge at a very speedy rate, so let's react to it appropriately. Since some of these introvert-centered memes end up portraying us as pretentious elitists, so let's avoid that by not talking down to people. If you're talking about introversion/extroversion with someone, start with the assumption that they know the basics of what it's all about. If they don't, you can tell them. But by assuming at first that they probably have noticed what's been all over the Internet, you can keep yourself from sounding condescending and playing into these new negative introvert stereotypes of "we think we're better than you."

2. Let's remember why we love our extrovert friends. Some of these memes paint extroverts as horrible soul-sucking monsters, and while some of them may be, so are some introverts. :-) That last introversion post I wrote was in response to someone who was clearly upset about being painted with that anti-extroversion brush, and after I finished my panic attack about her apparent anger toward me just for being an introvert, I was able to breathe and realize that it probably wasn't any more pleasant for her to find herself targeted just for her extroversion. Extroverts aren't the enemy. Jerks and misunderstandings are the enemy. We're working toward the goal of "being kind people and making everyone feel like they're worth something."

3. Let's not get smug and superior. In all our attempts to affirm our own self-worth, it's easy to flip that around and be like, "Well, we're misunderstood because we're actually better than everyone else simply by being introverts," and that's just nonsense. Related to the above two points, being jerks to extroverts helps our case not at all. None of this "we are the deep ones," "we are the smart ones," "we are the better friends." We are not perfect, special, magical beings. We are flawed, often annoying humans who happen to like being alone a lot, so we're not any better off than the flawed, often annoying humans who happen to like being with people a lot.

4. Let's just enjoy being introverts. Really, amid all the talking and blogging and such, the most beneficial thing for everyone is for us just to happily be our introverted selves - no apologies, no regrets, no shame or guilt. Most people get used to it. And with the sudden explosion of introvert memes, it's easier than ever to tell someone, "Oh, thanks for inviting me but, but I think I'll just stay home tonight," and they get it. So enjoy that!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 24

Recap: Markus the reporter reveals that he hacked the Leontious' computer and erased their records with a virus. Tammy picks up on this fact, while Morgan does not. Markus also hints that Doctor L. L. was experimenting on kids. But most of this is dismissed because Markus is a crazy person who doesn't know how to turn off a TV.

This chapter starts off excitingly:
The next morning the silence of the island was shattered by the distinct roar of two approaching helicopters— one military, the other private.
Did you know military and private helicopters sound different from each other? I suspect that's not what Rothdiener meant to indicate, but that's all I can assume. I have this image of him becoming an expert by listening to recordings of helicopters over and over again, guessing, "Military! No, wait... private!"

Morgan rushes outside to see what's going on and Lance the Tennis Player informs him it's a military helicopter and Markus' cable network helicopter. Lance is really annoyed that "the left is coming out in force," but, really, they're keeping a trespasser locked up in a jail cell on their property, so I'm not all that surprised that the guy's getting a rescue operation. You're probably supposed to fine trespassers or prosecute them, not just kidnap them, even if you do give them a TV in their cell.
“Morgan, you’d better take cover, this could get bloody,” Lance ordered protectively. 
Morgan watched Lance grab a pistol from his shoulder holster. 
Five guards with AK-47s rushed over to stand beside them. 
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Morgan said. Are they that serious?” 
“Deadly serious,” Lance said, shifting his gaze to the top of the old prison, where other guards aimed rifles at the choppers. 
Morgan drew a deep calming breath; it didn’t help. “But that’s the Greek army.” 
“Maybe,” Lance said. “Or maybe not. One thing for sure; they’re not on our side.”
What, do they want to bring down the entire Greek economy as well? Also, if you don't want to attract negative, possibly violent reactions from the military, maybe you should not kidnap Greek citizens who show up on your property. Also, when the military lands its helicopter in your yard, maybe you should not draw a weapon on them until you know what's going on.

I just feel like they've brought a lot of this on themselves and are trying to act all martyrlike about it.

Oh, wait, we get some more explanation here. Apparently when Doctor L. L. bought the island, he made it a private island in international waters. It's not actually part of Greece. It's its own country, so Lance the Tennis Player explains that the military landing there is basically an act of war.

If this island isn't even part of Greece, then WHAT THE HECK DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH GREEK ECONOMY?

Seriously, Doctor L. L. seems to have no actual connection to Greece, aside from living kind of near it and being from there originally. He put all his money into his not-Greece island. Is the idea that if he was dead, Greece could claim the island for itself or something? I am definitely losing the train of thought here.

Either way, Lance the Tennis Player and his pistol are totally ready to defend The Island of Leontiou from the Greek military armed with AK-47s. This is going to be fun.
Just then, the door of the black chopper opened. Three men and a woman stepped out. 
“Well, looky there,” Lance said in a deadpan voice. “Markus’s wife came along.”
Of course she did. You're HOLDING HER HUSBAND CAPTIVE.

Lance tells Morgan he can tag along while he finds out their demands (could they maybe, possibly be "release the Greek citizen you captured, please"?). Morgan is super excited about this and keeps thinking he feels like he's in an action flick. So let's review: Water slides terrify him beyond speech, but he's all gung-ho when it comes to single-handedly facing down the military of a foreign country.

Mrs. Reporter's name is Anna, and she does indeed ask about her husband. Lance, in return, is rude and sarcastic. Anna continues trying to get them to let her husband go:
“He wasn’t trespassing. He went fishing and his boat must’ve hit some bad weather.” 
Morgan gave her a look of feigned surprise. “Fishing? That’s odd. He told me that he was sailing, when his boat capsized.”
Because you can NEVER fish and sail at the same time. HA! We've got her there!

Lance continues to be a condescending jerk, while the military and Anna calmly request that he give their captive back. Lance even throws out lines like "You're clearly willing to throw the law out the window when it suits you," which may very well have been something Morgan yelled at him earlier when he found out they weren't signing Doctor L. L.'s death certificate.
“And, to compound your list of transgressions, you threaten us.”
...Except they haven't. They have demanded, but they haven't made a single threat, aside from the fact that they are armed. But they haven't stated any intention of using those weapons if Markus isn't brought to them. (We should note that Lance, on the other hand, has made some veiled threats.)

Lance finally agrees to bring Markus out, now that he's gotten all the sarcasm and condescension out of his system, and a couple of guards show up with the prisoner. Anna hugs Markus and informs her their daughter has been taken to the hospital with what might be a tumor. *blink* That was a sudden reveal.
Lance raised an eyebrow. “Interesting... Apparently, there’s a human side to you after all.”
Ugh. He works on an island that specializes in helping sick children and their families, you'd think he would have some sympathy and compassion for a family with a sick daughter, even someone he dislikes. Lance had seemed fairly nice and reasonable up until this chapter, but now he's basically just Morgan - angry and resentful and grudge-holding for no reason.
“I hope your daughter gets better,” Morgan said. “If you need any medical advice, I’d be glad to help.”
...Hold up. Did Morgan and Lance switch bodies for a chapter?
Lance stepped back as the two helicopters rose, heading to the mainland. 
“I hope you run out of fuel,” Lance murmured.
"And then your sick daughter will be orphaned and then I hope she dies horribly and miserably." Seriously, Lance needs to mellow out a little bit.

The two head back to... somewhere, and the chapter ends with this:
All sorts of emotions played through his mind as he traipsed back to the house. I have never seen such excitement in my life. What’s the rest of our time on this island going to be like?
Personally, I hope they'll get more tours! And make more threats! And make up more conspiracy theories! And are really, really rude to more people for no reason!

(Chapter 25.)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Does It Matter What Church I Go To?

This is my first serious faith-related blog in awhile, and it's about a subject I'm a little sensitive about because I've been frustrated trying to figure it out... and my journey has (very) occasionally resulted in people accusing me of not loving God enough, or something. As a result, I'm a little anxious about actually posting it. Heh. If it comes across snarky, defensive or cynical, I apologize - it's not meant to. I'm really just trying to work this all out.

The title isn't a rhetorical question. I really genuinely want feedback on this, especially if you're somebody who thinks choice of church is important.

A brief recap for those who don't know: I've been working out church's place in my life for several years now. While I do currently attend a church, it is entirely out of social obligation. I go because I'm supposed to go and because my husband goes, but I've pretty much given up on expecting anything out of it. This isn't in any way a reflection on this particular church, but rather on the fact that I've never gotten anything out of church. By treating church attendance as a social norm-conforming task I must do rather than something actually beneficial for me, I can at least stop being frustrated by the fact that it never is visibly beneficial for me.

Given all that... does it really matter what church I attend?

I'm perfectly comfortable just choosing a church at random or simply going wherever Jacob wants to go.

How do you select a church when none of the usual criteria seem to matter?
  • Corporate worship has never done a thing for me, so worship style doesn't make a difference to me.
  • I'm highly unlikely to ever find a church that holds all the same Biblical stances as I do personally, so finding a perfect doctrinal match isn't going to happen. The few doctrinal issues that I would hold absolutely essential don't really help to screen many churches out, as Christian churches generally believe, for example, that Jesus is God.
  • I've never been inspired by a sermon, so I can't seek out a specific style or format of speaker.
  • I can't possibly judge from a few visits how I feel about individual church members and whether I'm likely to feel socially comfortable there, let alone make any kind of lasting friendship. It takes me years to make up my minds about people.
  • Ministry opportunities of some sort can be found at pretty much every church, so there's not a lot to help me make my decision there.
Right now my only real criteria is "stuff said during service won't make me actively angry and snarky," which is pretty loose as far as criteria goes.

So here's the question. How do I choose a church? Right now my policy is that I'll just follow Jacob wherever he wants to go, so that makes my decision easy, but let's suppose I was single and dealing with this. How should this affect my choices? Should I be more specific in my criteria, hoping that some day some of them will matter to me? If so, which criteria get top priority? Do I choose technically correct sermons over a comfortable social setting? Would it be better to choose a church I actually disagree with on several topics, assuming it'd be better to be challenged and have to think through stuff than agree with what's being said? Is there even such a thing as choosing "the wrong church for me" in this situation? Maybe I should continue assuming it really doesn't matter and just go wherever because it's probably not going to make any difference anyway.

I genuinely have no idea.

I hear people talking about making sure to choose the right church, but I'm no longer sure it makes a difference for me. I'm okay accepting that maybe I need to attend a church (though I still can't quite figure out why, aside from social obligations) but then I have to choose the right church. It's like asking someone who feels sick to their stomach what they want for dinner and then emphasizing that they have to make the right choice. My honest answer to that is, "Well, I'd rather not eat anything, but if I have to, somebody else should choose for me and I'll eat it because I'm supposed to. I already have to eat it, don't make me responsible for the choice too."

This whole post is coming off more cynical than I mean it to be. I'm not angry anymore that church doesn't work for me. (I used to be.) I don't even think I'm angry anymore that I probably have to attend church because of social reasons. I'm pretty resigned to all that. Now I'm just... pondering what this actually means for me on a practical level. And I would love to get feedback, especially from any of you who think it does matter what church you go to.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I've never really been much for making resolutions for the new year. Mostly because, up until this year, my biggest goals have been pretty straightforward and obvious - things like "finish school" and "finish planning this wedding." But this upcoming year I don't really have any outwardly-imposed goals, so I'm going to go for it. Here are some things I'd like to try to accomplish this year.

There are definitely other things I would like to see happen this year - getting a teaching job, for example. However, I am limiting this list to things that I know I can accomplish on my own, without relying on circumstances, money, or things like job availability.

1. Get back to blogging 3 times a week. I've taken a break from Mondays for awhile, but now that I'm back in treatment for arthritis I'm hoping I can get back to blogging more consistently. I liked the three-days-a-week format, and I felt more creatively "in tune" with myself when I was blogging more often. I'd also like to return to writing some more serious blogs. I have some ideas floating around in my mind and would like to get them written down.

2. Get active. I asked for a Kinect and fitness/dance games for my birthday specifically because I hoped to use it to keep myself active. This "get active" goal is generic, but basically that's because my measurement of activity is fairly flexible. I'd like to make sure I spend some time in actual activity every day, starting by playing my dance games and then maybe walking or jogging when the weather is nicer, but since I am the couchiest of all couch potatoes I don't have an idea yet as to what is a realistic daily goal for me (especially with variables like arthritis). So right now I'm just going to try and raise my general activity level from the nothing it is now to... something better.

3. Get back into regular God time. I've been slacking on this the last couple months, and I've felt it. My goal is to have some intentional personal time with God every single day this year, whether it's an hour of prayer and worship or 10 minutes of reading my Bible. It's not a difficult goal, and I know I can accomplish it - I just need to get back into the rhythm of it all.

4. Watch more movies. Specifically, I'm doing a year-long movie challenge where every week, one of my friends selects up to 5 movies for me to watch and I'll watch one every weekday. (If they choose fewer than 5, I'll add in with some choices of my own.) I watched only a few movies in the latter half of 2013, and I found myself missing them, so I've decided to get moving and make room for a bunch more this year.

5. Do the 28 Days of Romance Movie Challenge again. I had so much fun with this last year, I absolutely want to do it again this year. The premise was that I watch my top-rated unseen romance movie on Flickchart every day in February. I saw some great movies and some terrible ones (and one that got un-ranked as a romance after I pointed out to the Flickchart admins that it was hardly a romance), but mostly I got to watch a bunch of movies I'd never have sought out on my own.

Not a lot of resolutions, but they're all-encompassing enough that I will be very, very happy if I can feel I've reached them all by the end of the year.

Do you guys have any resolutions for the new year? How are they going so far?

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 23

Recap: I... am not sure anymore. One friend commented that Rothdiener must have realized there was NO plot in the first half of the book, so he put it ALLLL in the second half. As I understand it right now, communist liberals are trying to collapse Greece's economy so they can collapse the entire world's economy, and Skye somehow holds the key to stopping all of this. Morgan and Tammy aren't sure they want to take over the clinic, but they are intrigued by The Locked Door next to the ER and the fact that they were shoved out of the ER during a mysterious medical emergency. So... um... conspiracy theories everywhere and no actual answers.
The Hamiltons walked around the island the rest of the afternoon.
Because they haven't had enough tours yet of the island/clinic/houses.

The Hamiltons discuss whether they want to move to the island and still come to no conclusion. The main concern here is that Greece is too tumultuous a place to live (although since apparently they may be collapsing the entire world economy if they leave, I think I'd take that chance, particularly since they would be living on an island nobody can actually get to).
“Let’s go talk to Markus.” Tammy’s radiant eyes twinkled with mischief.
Markus is the lawyer who was found sneaking onto the island earlier. "Eyes twinkling with mischief" is not exactly what I would expect the reaction to be toward him. I have a horrible feeling they're just going to go childishly taunt him.

In Markus' (very nice and accommodating) cell, it's clear he's trashed the room a bit. The guards say it's because he didn't like what was on TV, and he and Morgan giggle at the lawyer for apparently not realizing you can turn the TV off.

One of my major complaints with my first J. L. Rothdiener book, The Quest for Forgiveness, was how little sympathy or characterization he was willing to give to his antagonists. Every single non-Christian in that book was vindictive, smug, condescending (though often not nearly as condescending as his Christian characters, but it was supposed to be bad when the non-Christians did it), and, often, veered off into buffoonery. It looks like this is going to be the same situation. Rather than creating an actual character with actual motivations, we are just going to giggle at the silly tantrums of someone who exists for the sole purpose of Being a Stupid Bad Guy and making our protagonists look smart in the process.

Though this plan does work a little less well when we've spent 150 pages watching our protagonists also (accidentally) be smug, condescending buffoons. There's nothing he can do at this point to make the Hamiltons look smart.

Even this bizarre sequence, when they enter the cell to find Markus sitting on the floor...
“Why not sit on a chair or the sofa?” Morgan asked. 
“Are you kidding? That would give Leontiou one up on me. I can’t have that.”
...just seems reminiscent to me of Morgan and Tammy refusing to drink any coffee until the lawyers told them whether or not Leontiou was dead, or the fit they threw about staying in the nice hotel. The people in this book all get weirdly resentful of people they oppose offering them basic comforts. When our "heroes" do it, it's them standing firm on principle, but when our villains do it, then it's apparently silly.

Markus tells them he knows who they are, but not why they're here, and that he hates everything Leontiou represents.
“Let me ask you a question. Do you believe what you’ve been told? If so, why all the secrets?”
What? What secrets? Is he asking the Hamiltons why the Hamiltons are keeping secrets? Is he asking them why Lance the Tennis Player is keeping secrets? What secrets is he even talking about? So far, the only secrets are:

1) that Dr. L. L. is dead, and that's been pretty clearly explained why they can't tell anyone - it'll somehow destroy the world,
2) something about Skye being the key, but the Hamiltons have been told to ask Skye about that and they just haven't, so it's not really their fault if they don't know the answer, and
3) there's a Locked Door, which REALLY seems like something not to worry about right now with the fate of the world in their hands.

However, when the Hamiltons make it clear they have no idea what he's talking about, Markus reveals a bit more. He reveals he hacked the Leontiou computer a while back to put a virus on it that was going to erase everyone's records (oh, no, HE was the one who digitally shortened that girl's life!) and says he found that they were doing experiments on "innocent children." As the children staying here on the island are sick, not "guilty," I think he MIGHT mean he was experimenting on healthy children, but I don't really know. You'd think a reporter would be more careful with his words.
“Let me tell you about people like Layland Leontiou.” Morgan pushed his finger hard on the journalist’s chest. “Yes, they’re rich, but almost every one of them started out at the bottom. They had an idea, a dream, and they worked hard to see it through, making it work. Men like Edison, Ford, Walton, Gates, and yes, Layland Leontiou. Yes, they were rich and powerful, but they were also giving. They created millions of jobs, and gave billions to charities. What have people like you done?”
Uh. All right, these are two different points here. One is that almost every one of "them" (rich people? Nice rich people? Nice rich scientists?) started off poor, which is a stat that I'm pretty sure he is just pulling out of his rear, and the other is that rich and powerful people are better than "people like you" because they give poor people more money than "people like you." It all makes me very uncomfortable, as it seems to be implying that richness = goodness, that richness is always deserved, and that anyone who tears them down is just jealous.

I don't respond well to that.

He goes on:
“You protest in the streets, riot, and stop other hard working citizens from earning money to feed their families. Why? Because your kind wants what people like Leontiou have. But you want it at someone else’s expense. You don’t want to work for it! People like you don’t have the smarts, the expertise, or the ambition to produce anything except anarchy, and a socialistic society built on destroying capitalism.”
Now, given that Markus is apparently working to destroy the entire world economy for the cause of one-world-government communism, Morgan has a point that he's not exactly a good guy, but this is the same icky poor-blaming politics that I really dislike in some of the extreme right crowd. It just all gets... mean.

And here's the deal. Lazy people don't typically protest in the street and riot and swim to forbidden islands and plot to bring down THE ENTIRE WORLD ECONOMY because they're tired of doing actual work. All that is WAY more work than getting an actual job. In the real world, someone like Markus would be doing this because he has ideals. Because he cares about the underdogs and thinks communism is the best way to get there. Because he hates greed and thinks his bizarre plot is a way to fix that. But in this book, he doesn't get any actual motivation other than just being evil.

After like 2 minutes of talking with him, Morgan is making huge, ugly assumptions about Markus' reasons for holding the stance he takes, assumptions like "poor people are lazy, unambitious, and OH MY GOSH THEY'RE COMING FOR OUR MONEY DON'T LET THEM TAKE IT."

Lance the Tennis Player shows up and tells Morgan to leave Markus alone:
“It’s impossible to defeat an ignorant man by arguing with him.”
"I have learned this all too well from you this week."

As soon as Lance leaves, Tammy shows off her detective skills:
“I didn’t want to say this in front of Lance, but I think Klitou is totally responsible for destroying the files on Leontiou’s computer.” 
“What?” His expression showed his confusion. “You’ve lost me. Destroyed what files in whose computer?”  
“Morgan, everything is beginning to add up. I’ve been listening to Lance, Markus, and Dr. Rozak. And from what I can gather, Leontiou’s computer was destroyed by a hacker. I think all the files on Batten were lost, including all the lab records. Everything! I believe that Markus... well, his sweet wife, is the guilty party.”  
“Whoa, Girl!” Morgan said. “You’ve been watching too many James Bond movies.”

So, once again, we find that Morgan DOESN'T LISTEN AT ALL to other people.

Shall we review what Markus said?
“I managed to get into their computer a while back . . . I’m not the computer man! My wife is. She dropped a virus. I sure hope the good doctor lost all his records.”

And Morgan's like, "NUH-UH NO WAY."

How is this a big revelation? He just told you about it! Although he did say immediately afterwards that he'd deny the whole thing.

Next, Tammy is going to reveal that she suspects Doctor Leontiou is dead and Morgan will be like, "Whatever, you read too many spy novels!"

They head back to hang out with Skye, where she is sobbing because of the person who died in the ER, who says was her best friend in the whole world. I think it's pretty telling that she is inconsolable over this person but has apparently barely shed a tear over her parents. (In a better book, these tears would probably be for all the people she's lost.)
Morgan and Tammy wondered if every child’s death devastated her this much.
Especially when her parents' death sure didn't.

Morgan chats with Maya for a little bit about what it was like working for the Leontious:
She had the highest respect for both of them. Of course, she loved Skye.
And Morgan was like, "What? You do? You like Skye? You work for the Leontious? When did this happen?" Seriously, being told "she loved Skye" at this point, after she's threatened Morgan into taking care of Skye, seems like a bit of an understatement.

Morgan goes back to check on Skye, who begs him to stay and take care of the girls at the clinic. Morgan gets a sudden epiphany that the mysterious voice he heard saying, "Take care of them," was probably God! Telling him to take care of the girls at the clinic!

Finally he drifts off to sleep after this:
His mind kept replaying the events of the day. Everything always came back to the locked door at the clinic. Exactly what is behind that door?
Guys, the locked door is the least of your concerns. You have incarcerated a crazy communist determined to bring down the world and you with it, and you have to decide whether not you want to adopt a little girl and move to Greece to work on a clinic there or else everything in the world will collapse. I'm pretty sure you can finagle a key to the locked door once you agree to take over the clinic.


(Chapter 24.)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Best of 2013: Facebook Posts

It's time to begin the yearly wrap-up posts! While everybody else is doing them at the end of December, I am a stickler for not beginning them until January, because you never know when there's going to be a sudden last-minute favorite.

Today we'll be looking at my favorite Facebook statuses of 2013. I try to post primarily entertaining things on my Facebook, and I have combed through them all and pulled out the ones that amused me the most, whether or not they seemed to entertain anyone else. They're in a weird order (it just happened to be the order in which I saved them from my Facebook), so statuses from December are intermingled with statuses from, like, March.

Anyway. Here is the list. If you're my Facebook friend and saw all these throughout the year, I hope you enjoy the re-read, and if you're just a blog reader and these are all new to you, I hope they amuse you as well.

On to my favorite statuses of 2013!

So, um, we may or may not be using the extra mattress and chairs in our hotel room to build a fort. I knew I married an awesome guy.

So I announced to Jacob that Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing came out on DVD today. Like 20 minutes later, the UPS truck pulled up and Jacob went to go pick up a package. When he came back, he handed me the Much Ado DVD, and said, "Happy birthday! I did, in fact, know that Much Ado came out today." Yay! That is fun.

Last night, I dreamed Jacob and I wanted to have a kid but couldn't, so we went to the doctor to see if they could help. They did some weird procedure where they surgically implanted a seal egg in my uterus. I asked them if there were any negative side effects to this procedure, and they said, "Well, 9 times out of 10, you'll give birth to a seal."
Seriously, I have no idea what the heck my brain does while I'm sleeping...

Two texts I just sent Jacob:
"Just as a heads up, I will almost certainly be napping if you call at 5. I stayed awake to get that letter from the moon and then to finish an seizure, but now I'm going to sleep."
"Um... by 'the moon' I mean 'your mom,' and by 'seizure,' I mean 'article.'"
My phone's autocorrect thinks I had a much more interesting afternoon than I did.

Forget all the "ringadingdingdingdingading" stuff, the best part of "The Fox" is the bizarrely mournful intensity of the line, "Ducks say quack and fish go blub." The guys sings that line like he's referencing a painful breakup. Did he have to learn the hard way that fish go blub?

I was trying to text, "Yay! God is the best!" but somehow the exclamation point turned into a 7 and "God" turned into "Gods" so I was suddenly saying, "Yay 7 Gods is the best!" which kind of goes against everything I believe in.

(Re: a sign we saw while driving)
Jacob: "Peacock water"? What is that?
Me: It's water for peacocks to live in. They are happiest living in the water. That's also why they're called “peacocks." Because they're like peas, which taste best when served in water.
Jacob: Um. I'm glad I'm the one who cooks the food.

Last night I dreamed I was at a church and they sang this bizarre and terrible hymn called "The Lord Thy God Demands Thy Soul." All the verses said things like, "God, take my eyesight, but not my soul!" and every chorus was God responding, "BUT THE LORD THY GOD DEMANDS THY SOUL!" The final verse revealed that your soul is literally a magnet inside you (yes, literally) keeping you stuck to the earth, so if God doesn't take your soul, you can't fly off the earth to go up to heaven.
My subconscious has some *goofy* theology. Also, that's a terrible hymn. Nobody write it.

The opening line to this Taylor Swift song sounded like, "It feels like a perfect night to dress up like Hitler." Turns out it was "hipsters," but for a moment I thought I'd figured out where all her relationships went wrong.

Me: Where everyone kills each other?
Jacob: No, no. See, the party will all come up out of the ground, and then we'll all run away, and then... you and I will meet up at some point, and then... OK, yeah, I'm having a hard time figuring out how we do this without killing everyone.

The other night I dreamed I met a supervillain, and I realized he was a supervillain as soon as he said THE MOST SUPERVILLAINOUS THING OF ALL TIME: "Forever is far too long for a child to have legs."

I sent a text about Valentine's Day and Swype turned it into "Casserole's Day." BEST NEW HOLIDAY EVER.

Apparently my father has just shaved off his beard. I've never known him without one as long as I've been alive, so this is a very strange concept to me. I can't even visualize it. Heh. I kept trying to thing of something analogously strange, but for some reason the only comparison my mind can come up with is, "It's like if my mom shaved her head," which, er, doesn't really apply to my mother...

Jacob announced to Puppy that he was going to take a shower, but I thought he said, "Tell Hannah she needs to shower." I just figured we'd be the passive aggressive couple that passes insulting messages along to each other through the dog.

Last night I had a dream that Mama and Papa Berenstein Bear were giving Jacob and me premarital counseling on the day of our wedding, and Mama Bear was REALLY CONCERNED that Jacob and I couldn't identify any of the car parts she was naming (the names were things like "automov quadivrox"). Apparently that is the secret to a happy marriage.

My shoulder has been an arthritic mess all day. I wandered downstairs to complain about it, and so I went into the living room and just said, "Ow. Ow. Ow," over and over to Seth. He completely ignored me because he was busy singing the theme song for some anime. When he was done, he said, "Hannah, I wish you weren't in pain. But I had to finish singing my song." I told him I completely understood.

That church sign said, "People will disapoint. God never will." That church has already disappointed me, but it's nice to know God knows how to spell even if they don't.

I have finally figured a way to get the puppy to leave me alone while I'm working: put a balloon next to me. She is terrified of this balloon and won't come near it. WIN.

I informed Jacob that I will never refer to us as Lumps' parents, nor do I ever want him to call me her mother. This morning he tried "Aunt Hannah," and I gave him a stern look and told him I am not related to her. So we've settle on a compromise. I will now be known to the puppy as Commandant Hannah.

Right before I settle down to go to sleep, Jacob says, "Don't get killed by Slender Man," and leaves. GEE THANKS I WILL TOTALLY BE ABLE TO SLEEP NOW

(Finally deflating an air mattress that's been set up since the wedding.)
Me: This is very old air.
Jacob: We should have bottled it and been like, "This is our wedding air!"
Me: I'm sure people have done similarly odd things.
Jacob: "Odd"? (Sighs) You just don't understand romance, do you?

The guy who plays Bernardo from West Side Story is a random dancer in the movie White Christmas. You can see him in Betty's "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" song. However, I discovered during this last viewing that you can also see him in the earlier "Mandy" number. This means when Betty left Bob and Phil's show to go do her own thing, she STOLE one of their dancers. What's the story here? Did he fall in love with her and follow her? Did he hate working on the show and was just looking for an excuse to leave? Did she try to get the entire cast to mutiny and he was just one of the few who followed? SO MANY POSSIBILITIES.

A special 12 of you have been selected to get leftover Christmas stamps on the wedding invites I'm sending you. Everyone else gets less exciting ones that are actually appropriate for a July wedding.

That Raid ad just said, "It also kills ants for up to 4 weeks!" Good. Even though they presumably come back to life a month later, that's 4 fewer weeks of zombie ants.

I unplugged my phone from the charger, and it was at 58%.
I talked to Jacob for 15 minutes, and it was then at 60%.
I guess talking to him charges my phone now. Probably because we share a plan.

Elizabeth was sitting on the air vent and hogging all the warm air. So I sat on her until she agreed to move. This is what being a big sister is all about.

Me: I'm brushing my hair but it's being especially difficult today./Jacob: Here's a tip. If you rub your hairbrush with a bit of lemon, it won't help. It'll be as bad as it was before.

Sometimes it's really hard to tell the difference between the silly things Jacob says when he's awake and the silly things he says when he's asleep. I thought he'd been quietly sleeping for a while, but then a minute ago he suddenly said good night, he loved me, and not to get hit by a truck. I really have no idea whether he was awake for that or not...

Last night, as I was trying to sleep...
Jacob: Oh my gosh. There's a huge... swan in our room.
Me: Honey, I think you're dreaming it. There's no swan in our room.
Jacob: I don't know...
Me: Well, if you want to turn on the light and check, you can, but I promise there's no swan in our room.
Jacob (with the vocal equivalent of a sneer): I know there's no swan in our bedroom. Nerd.
He settled down then and I giggled quietly for a while. The best part? Turns out he wasn't seeing a swan, he was seeing a snake but couldn't think of the word at first. So when I kept telling him there were no swans, his brain was saying, "Well, of COURSE there aren't any SWANS." Thus the condescension.

This morning, while brushing my teeth, I suddenly remembered that time my sister Elizabeth forgot how to clap while watching a show so she waved at the performers instead, and it struck me as super funny all over again, and I laughed and accidentally spit toothpaste all over our sink. Smooth.

Last night, while looking through a catalog we got in the mail, I decided Jacob and I would choose each other's Christmas gifts based on me closing my eyes, opening the catalog, and pointing to a random item. The end result: I have to buy him a $100 5-gallon humidifier, while he's buying me a $2.99 roasting pan. Hmm. This may not be the life-changing gift-buying solution I had hoped for.

(In the middle of a silly teasing conversation.)
Jacob: You are making me lose my husbandal self-esteem. Husbandal? What's the adjective form of husband? "Husband-having"?
Me: No, that's about HAVING a husband, not being one. Saying I made you lose your husband-having self esteem is like saying, "You make me feel like I can't have a husband."
Jacob: Well... you *do*.

Me: So the save-the-date card should be finished up soon.
Jacob: Are there ponies on them?
Me: ...What? No. That would confuse people. They'll think there are ponies at the wedding, and there aren't.
Him: What? Why not?
Me: What would we even DO with a pony at our wedding?
Him: Ride it!
Me: Why do we need to ride a pony?
Him: To be taller than everyone else!
Best reason for a pony ever. He wins. We have to have a pony at the wedding now.

I've informed Bethany I am making her do the traditional "oldest younger sister of the bride" dance at the wedding, where I make her dance by herself in front of all the guests to a 20-minute piece of undanceable classical music. She's not allowed to practice beforehand or even know what music she'll be dancing to. She does not seem very excited about this plan.

When I was in Ohio, Jacob and I took my engagement ring to get it resized. Last night I dreamed that he went back to pick it up and they said, "Oh, we lost your ring, but here, have a small plastic dinosaur instead." He thought this was a great trade and didn't understand at all why I was upset.

Sleeping Jacob just said to me, VERY sadly, "Most of you is stuck under the stereo," and now I can't stop giggling about it.

Jacob (on his computer, in a tiny terrified voice): Hannah?
Me: Yes?
Jacob: Why did I decide to play Slender?
Me: I don't know. Are you terrified right now?
Jacob (suddenly screaming): AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!
Me: I'm going to take that as a yes.
Gotta say, sometimes watching other people play games is way more fun than playing them yourself.

In the middle of the night last night, Jacob got up and left the room because he couldn't sleep. I was sleeping when he came back, but I opened my eyes when he walked in the door. He was wearing the same Heath Ledger Joker T-shirt he was wearing when he left, but in my mostly-asleep state, I thought he wasn't wearing a shirt at all and had gotten a giant Che Guevara tattoo on his chest. I remember thinking, "Huh. When did he get that done? I don't know if I'm OK with that," but clearly it didn't bother me much because I went back to sleep almost immediately.

Today, my phone somehow decided that when I typed, "Time for some prayer," I REALLY meant to type, "Time for some macaroni query."

Lumps is being particularly difficult today and keeps jumping up on me and licking me. In retaliation, I created a passive-aggressive song to sing at her while I made my dinner. It goes thus:
None of this food is for you! (clap clap clap)
None of this food is for you! (clap clap clap)
I know that you want it, but HA HA HA
None of this food is for you! (clap clap clap)
She tried to play it cool, but I could tell it stung.

Me: (Being silly with Seth) I don't eat eggs.
Seth: You ate a breakfast burrito yesterday.
Me: There are no eggs in that, because there are no eggs in the name. It's made of burritos and breakfast.
Seth: Well, actually, the full name is "egg breakfast burrito egg egg."

Jacob: I just passed a stable.
Me: We could get a stable.
Jacob: What would we do with a stable?
Me: I dunno. Give birth to Jesus.

Elizabeth just threw herself off a chair and rolled on the floor because she's sad we have meatloaf for dinner. My siblings aren't overdramatic at ALL.

I send a mushy text to my mom about how much I miss her, and get this in return: "Aww, we mud you to. We also got"/I have no idea whether or not to read that as a compliment. I'd rather not be mudded by whatever they got.

I open my Sobe LifeWater, and under the cap I find the phrase, "EVERY ONE KNOWS." Well, that's not ominous at all... Happy Halloween to me!

(During a Bible discussion)
Dad: I'm wondering, if you were a Levite...
Bekah: I'm not.
Me: Well, good. That settles that. He was wondering.
Dad: Guys, I wasn't done with my sentence.

When I'm lying in bed, I frequently jiggle my feet or legs around, and I usually don't realize I'm doing it. Occasionally Jacob will be able to feel it because his side of the bed will start shaking along with my legs.
Last night, he told me I was shaking the bed... but I wasn't. I wasn't moving at all. I had a moment of thinking, "GHOSTS ARE SHAKING OUR BED," before he realized he was just feeling his heartbeat in his arm because his arm was lying at a weird angle. He was too tired to explain all that to me then, though, so this was the explanation I got (which I did manage to interpret correctly): "Oh, it's OK. It's just my arm. It's because of the blood."

(Looking for the train station)
Mom: I think it's over by the railroad tracks. Oh wait. Of course it's by the railroad tracks.

I was going to watch What About Bob? but didn't feel like watching a whole movie, so I turned on Frasier... only to watch an episode about an overly clingy obnoxious man named Bob who starts following a psychiatrist around everywhere and intruding into his life until he completely broke down in paranoia.
That's pretty much a 20-minute version of What About Bob? Maybe all Frasier episodes are 20-minute rewrites of famous movies...

I had a dream last night that I got a teaching job. My first day, I taught one class and then all the teachers told me to stop working. I asked them why, and they said, "Well, it's the first day back from winter vacation. And on the first day back from vacations, we always just teach one class and then just eat fried chicken and donuts in our offices."

Last night's dream: Jacob, Ben Griffith and Audra took over a church service to sing a medley of songs dedicated to me that included "Someone Else's Clothes" and "Mamma Mia." I felt very awkward but my dad thought it was awesome and kept trying to get me to dance on the pews.

As I ranted in RinkChat today, I still can't ever hear "Word of God Speak" by MercyMe without feeling like God's trying to interrupt the singer the whole time.
Singer: "I'm finding myself at a loss for words and the funny thing is, it's okay. The last thing I need is to be heard but to hear what you would say."
God: "Well, cool, actually, I have some things to tell you-"
God: "Um, yes, actually, we need to talk about-"
God: "...Are you not done?"
God: "Well, just... let me know when you're finished."

So we're in the middle of a fairly serious God-related discussion, and suddenly Mom says, "OK, everybody, watch this." She puts a piece of toast in her mouth, and says (as she simultaneously does what she's saying), "Chew. Chew. Chew. And then swallow." Turns out she was celebrating the fact that she's done with the juice fast she was doing and now she can eat solid food again. My family is awesome, but sometimes very confusing.

Jacob: Yay, I'm home! Now I can eat my food and play with my puppy!
(Pause, then, simultaneously, we say)
Jacob: But I shouldn't eat my puppy and--
Me: That's better than eating your puppy and--
Jacob: Wow.
Me: Yup. We were both making the same dumb joke. We're so cool.

Mom quote of the day: "I wouldn't want to marry a professional dancer, because he'd just twirl all the time." Yup, I'm pretty sure that's all professional dancers do.

Last night, in his sleep, Jacob started saying, distressed, "How do they work? How do they WORK?" When I asked him what he meant, he said, "The... the industries!" I told him I didn't know, and he said, "This is ridiculous. HOW DO THEY WORK?"
The story continues: I then went on to dream that Rachel Held Evans wrote a book called "How Industries Work," but it was mostly full of pictures of dogs since she only wrote it in 90 minutes. I wrote a review saying I didn't like it. Then she wrote another book, and at a press conference, she explained, "I wrote THIS book in 90 SECONDS to explain why everyone who didn't like my last book is stupid."

One of the Megill Thanksgiving traditions is to choose an item that represents something you're thankful for. This year, Seth put in a Sorry game piece and said, "I'm thankful that when Joel hits me, he often apologizes." ...I think this brotherly relationship may need some improvement.

(Jacob was on the phone with me, and at one point I washed my hands.)
Jacob: I just figured you should know that, over the phone, the running sink sounds like the screams of 1000 devastated people.

Pandora seems to be hazy on the concept of boy bands, as their "boy bands" genre station keeps playing artists that are neither bands nor boys. Unless Celine Dion and Britney Spears have been keeping secrets from us all.

Jacob, while driving home from work: "Ugh, why is this person in front of me driving at a safe speed that is not too slow and not too fast but I want to drive faster?"

Jacob and I came home from Huddle House to find that my Recently Watched list on Netflix included 5 episodes of an anime series, apparently watched Saturday morning. I can only assume our puppy decided to entertain herself with anime while we were out.

Some people go to parties or to movies or hang out with their friends in the evenings. Jacob and I sit at home listing all the words we can think of that end with "pressed."

A FB message I just got from a stranger:
How are you doing??? What a nice and sparkling smile. I wouldn't trade that smile of yours for anything, I was searching for an old friend of mine when i stumbled on your profile.I got entangled in that wonderful smile and i couldn't stop myself from saying hello.
Please always wear that smile and if you don't can i be a friend?
Stay Blessed."
I must say, I'm relieved he's not going to trade away my smile. I wasn't aware people could even DO that.

It's snowing again. It'll probably snow forever and it will never be spring or summer, it will just be winter for all eternity because it seems the White Witch has taken over Illinois so we won't even have Christmas ever again and even when four kids magically transport here from England to defeat her, she'll just turn them into stone and then bury them under mounds of snow and we poor Narnillinoisians will just have to get used to trudging through snow for the rest of our lives.

(Talking wedding plans)
Me: I saw on QI that laser pointers can pop black balloons, so we're going to fill some dark balloons with confetti, line the reception hall door with them, and then when Jacob and I walk in, we're going to have a group of our friends pop the balloons with lasers. IT IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME.
Heather: WHATTTT
Heather: That is the best idea ever.
Me: As long as we can get it to happen. We'll have to practice it to make sure it works. Heh.
(Sadly, this did not end up working. I suspect the laser pointers we got were not nice enough. But it would have been SO COOL.)

Last night I dreamed Jacob wanted to take up a hobby, so he joined a local group called the I Love Swastikas swim choir. They wore snorkeling masks and swastikas and swam and sang all at the same time. My mind is confused about appropriate leisure activities.

Me: What was the name of that black robot from Megaman?
Nathan: Bass. Did you know that all versions of that character are public domain?
Me: What? They are?
Nathan: Yes. All the Bass are belong to us.

Last night's dreams were mostly about serial killers, but there was a slightly less terrifying one where someone was mad at Jacob and me because we didn't have a "jumpmaid" - someone traditionally hired to jump up and down behind him at the wedding to show he was happy.

I washed my hands this morning and then panicked a little when I couldn't get the water to shut off. Then I remembered I don't generally wash my hands in cold water, I tried turning the hot water faucet instead, and, voila! Like magic, the water turned off.

This morning, I planned out my entire life strategy for if there was a tornado while I slept and the windows in our bedroom broke and a piece of glass flew into my back, severed my spinal cord, and left me paralyzed forever. I like to be prepared.

I had a dream last night that Elizabeth was having a party at our house, but all her friends' cars were blocking the driveway and I couldn't park my car anywhere. I was so mad that I moved out of the house. That might have been an overreaction.

Last night's dream: Missy Elliott wanted to change her license plate to read "Bobadadonkadonk." As this was, obviously, too long to fit, they just chose the first 7 letters so it read "BOBA DAD." Missy was VERY upset because she said her license plate now made her sound like a nerdy father who was a big fan of Boba Fett.

Elizabeth was getting me a buffalo chicken sandwich from Subway but had a great deal of difficulty remembering the name of the sandwich. She kept calling it "chicken beef," and then she said, "No, not beef. It's... what's the name of that thing that's not an elephant that roams through South Dakota?"

Jacob made me oatmeal this morning. I go to the kitchen, get out a bowl, go to the stove, take the lid off the oatmeal pan... and then apparently proceed to pick up Jacob's drinking glass next to the stove, and scoop a spoonful of oatmeal into it. It was a rather surreal realization - I don't remember picking up the glass at ALL, I just suddenly looked down to see I was holding a cup with oatmeal in it, and Jacob was saying, "Uh, that's MY glass..."

Occasionally, Jacob's snoring sounds like the TARDIS. I was dropping off to sleep last night when I suddenly heard it and a tiny sleepy part of my brain thought, "The Doctor is here!"

Last night I had a dream that in the middle of a church Christmas pageant, someone came up to me and whispered that they needed help with a panicked lobster. I followed them to the back, where they show me that they had SUPERGLUED fake dog fur and a fake dog head to a lobster, who was indeed very unhappy with it and kept jumping out of its box and running away. I told them there wasn't much I could do about it, and they probably shouldn't try to use it in the show.

Jacob and I are mushing all our names together to create new married last names for ourselves. He suggested "Kragillniel," but then said there were probably a bunch of Jacob Kragillniels on Facebook already. I searched and confirmed there weren't any, but Facebook asked me if I'd meant to search for "jacobs kragillniel, jack kragillniel, or jacobo kragillniel." Because apparently "Jacob" was the word most likely to be wrong in that search.

Whenever Lumps stretches, it looks like she is bowing. This is especially fun when she does it in front of me. This morning, as I walked out of my room, she ran over and bowed down at my feet. That's right, Puppy. Bow to your Commandant.

So, fun fact: You can now sign into MySpace with Facebook.

Apparently one of my siblings lost a tooth in the Lego box. At least, I hope they did. Otherwise we've got somebody else's tooth sitting in with our Legos. That's not OK.

You know your mother is tired when someone asks if there are any snacks in the house and she very seriously responds, "No snacky snacky."

(During a conversation about religion with an atheist friend. Edited for length, but the idea's the same.)
Him: It's very difficult to have a sane discussion [about religion]. Without, y'know, people assuming I'm either attacking them or attempting to sign up, neither of which is the case.
Me: WHAT I was only having this conversation with you because I thought you wanted to convert!
Him: LOL
Him: Sorry. I know you guys have a quota.
Me: I guess now it's just a conversation and not a convertsation, as we like to call it.
I really hope nobody does call it that. That's new levels of cheesy even for Christians...

I have just discovered a spectacularly awful Les Mis fan fic where Eponine and Enjolras get married. In one paragraph, it calmly announces that Gavroche is dead; in the next, Eponine is squeeing over the pink heels Enjolras bought for her. She explains that their wedding guest list is small because "we don't have that many friends who are still alive." This is what happens when fangirls get to my musicals.

(Playing Scattergories, the category is "Things you keep hidden")
Mom: Garlic. For vampires.
Dad: What? Why would you want to hide it from them?
Mom: Because otherwise the vampires will put it away!
Dad: What vampire shows have YOU been watching?

The subtitles on this episode of Buffy said, "The bar matrons talk of you," but I thought it said, "The bear matrons talk of you," and I was like, "I WANT BEAR MATRONS TO TALK ABOUT ME, THAT SOUNDS AWESOME."

Sometimes I react to the videos I'm watching out loud. This means that Jacob and I can be sitting in total silence for like five minutes, and then suddenly I'll creepily whisper, "The monster is going to kill them."

It's Xbox Karaoke night in our house. You should all know that you missed out by not getting to hear Nate Adams' amazing performance of "The Ants Go Marching" tonight. The virtual Xbox audience was rocking out to it pretty hard.

(The topic is pizza toppings, the letter is C)
Dad: Well, the obvious one is "cheese."
Our entire family: OHHHHHH, right!
Elizabeth: Guys, I even thought of "cheese" but forgot it began with C. I sat here for a really long time trying to think of a word I could put it front of "cheese" to make it begin with C.

Here's a handy tip for playing fetch with a puppy: Keep accidentally throwing the ball directly at her face. Sometimes she will catch it, but at least half of the time it will bounce off her face and land back in your lap without her realizing it. Then she will run all over the house looking for it, and you can finally get some more work done.

"Crown Him With Many Crowns" has been stuck in my head all day, but I forgot some of the real lyrics and my brain apparently decided to substitute these:
Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee,
And gather Ewoks in his name through all eternity.

After keeping my phone in my pocket all day, I pulled it out to discover it had been busy pocket-texting. It apparently tried to send a message that said simply, "A new job" to the following phone numbers: N41, 1317+3, and 778668743478659442263947345322772732522272. The message failed to send correctly.

Last night, as I was trying to get to sleep, I listened to some stand-up comedy competition on BBC radio. My favorite joke of the night: "Thank you very much to the French man who translated 'beaucoup' for me. It meant a lot."

Today I was having trouble putting on one of my gloves, so I made up a sad country song about it that went, "I can't put my gloves on, I can't do it, I can't do it." I only sang it for about 30 seconds, but it's now been stuck in my head for 45 minutes.
(I taught it to my siblings. Now, if any one of us starts singing, "Ah cain't put mah gloves on," everyone else has to chime in with, "Ah cain't do it, ah cain't do it!")

Jacob: "I have too much hair. I need to cut it. Right now, if I was riding a bike and fell off, my head would be just fine."

Here is a fun story from my past: Once, I went to Subway, intending to order a footlong meatball sub. When the woman asked me what I wanted, I accidentally started off with, "I want a football" ...and then couldn't stop giggling about it. She kept giving me annoyed looks as I tried to explain what I wanted on my sandwich through my laughter. Most awkward food-ordering experience of my life.

Bizarre autocorrect moment of the morning: "Nose bleeds are lame" came out as "Noise beefs are kansas." Thanks, Swype.

So Facebook compiled my "20 biggest moments from 2013." I browsed through the statuses and updates they suggested and have summarized them for you here:
Leaving my job, getting married, getting married, hanging out in Chicago, posting engagement photos (which were actually taken in 2012), getting married, having a wedding shower, getting married, getting married, getting married, getting married, getting married, getting married, seeing Matilda, getting married, being married for a month, my dad and Bekah posting a Doctor Who joke on Facebook, going to a scary mall bathroom, getting married, having family pictures taken.
I think you see the overarching theme of my year... but I really enjoy that Facebook deems scary mall bathrooms and Doctor Who jokes to be just as important as my wedding.

(While discussing wedding plans)
Jacob: We could have a Les Mis themed wedding! I could go dressed as Javert and you could go dressed as... Javert's job!

This morning's text to Jacob: "Golf morning! I move you!" Thanks, Swype. (Heather Billings thinks this means I am going to hit him with a golf club. But I'm just trying to move him, just scoot him over a little bit. I'm not trying to hurt him or anything. So that's probably okay.)

This morning, as Jacob and I were lazily lying in bed, I thought I heard him say, "Did I tell you I bought bonds? Did I tell you? Did I tell you? Did I?" I was annoyed with his asking me over and over again, so I grunted a grumpy, negative, "Nn-nn," only to hear him respond, "What are you saying 'Nn-nn' to?" Turns out I had drifted back off to sleep and was dreaming about him asking me that weird bonds question. To my knowledge, that's as close to sleeptalking as I've ever gotten.

You know you've been watching a lot of Community when you see a random hoodie lying around and find yourself involuntarily muttering, "Would that this hoodie were a time hoodie..."

This is what it looks like when you send two texts right in a row to someone and they respond to the first one right after you send the second.
Me: I had a dream I was working for Sykes again. Ew.
Me: Also, as of today it's only TWO MORE MONTHS!
Jacob: That's no fun. I'm sorry. I love you!
Apparently he is not as excited as I am about getting married.

Mom: Elizabeth, I was watching this tutorial about how to cut a person.
(Elizabeth and I look at each other, a little horrified.)
Mom: ...Out of a picture. And put them into another picture with a different back drop.

Last night, I discovered Swype doesn't recognize most characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Instead, it called them "Commander Rhett," "Captain Poised," "Word," and, most fun of all, "Geordi La Forge" turned into "Drugstore George."

I don't know what song the Catholic church bells are playing next door, but it REALLY sounds like the theme to Blackadder...

Me: Our marriage is coming up soon! Whoo!
Jacob: Tomorrow?!
Me: I wish. Sadly, no.
Jacob: That's okay! We can get married later! It'll be more awesome that way!
Me: Yes. It'll be the most awesome when we have planned it to be.
Jacob: Unless we go back in time. Dinosaur wedding! Old West wedding with dinosaurs that we smuggled from the past!

While playing Catch Phrase tonight, Bethany gave us a clue that went something like this:
"OK, so you're a whale, and you're jumping up and down, and people can't watch the whales, and the tide is coming in-- (Dissolves into laughter) And-- what do they say?"
"...Don't look at the whales?"
"But the tide is coming in, and what are those things?"
"YES YES! (Waving a finger at us as if to scold us) Uh-uh!"
"'Those are not supposed to be created by you!'"
And then the time ran out. Rebekah somehow magically guessed it, but I want to see if any of you can. I will post the answer tomorrow.
(The answer: "Don't make waves.")

Today, I dreamed I was on a road trip with Kathryn Keefer Doner and Elizabeth Carr and their kids. We stopped at a gas station, and I was supposed to go get coffee-flavored icees for all the kids. Somehow, I confused the icee machine and the gas pump and ended up bring back cups of ice full of gasoline. The kids were all like, "This is gross," and then their mothers were like, "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO FEED MY KIDS GASOLINE?" and I was like, "I'M SORRY! THIS IS WHY I WOULD MAKE A REALLY BAD MOM!"
Mixing up coffee and gasoline is not so much a matter of bad parenting as it is bad... adulting.

Just in case there happens to be a Truman Show-esque reality program filming my life secretly, I should explain what just happened. Yes, I realize I was chanting, "Milk, oil, and an egg, then you make a waffle," while I was in the kitchen. Yes, I realize I did not make a waffle at any point during that time. I did not forget. I actually have zero intention of making a waffle any time tonight. Sometimes I just say things out loud because they are fun to say. Sorry for the confusion. Especially to those who were, for whatever reason, really looking forward to waffles' appearance on the show.

Some days you walk out of your bedroom and realize that you're inadvertently doing the sad Charlie Brown walk. You're not sure whether to be amused that you're doing it at all, or saddened that you're probably doing it because that's how you feel.

So last night we found out the jiggly-eyed spider's species...and that its eyes jiggle only as part of the mating ritual. It was hitting on me that whole time?

Me: I'm going to eat my engagement ring. Watch me.
(Elizabeth watches as I put my engagement ring in my mouth, then make a face and spit it back out.)
Me: Yeah, it didn't taste very good.
(Elizabeth is just laughing at me.)
Me: You just wait until next week, when I eat my wedding dress.
I am in a very silly mood tonight.

Last night I dreamed I was with a group of people who were telling stories, and everyone could tell either a happy story or a sad story. This was one of the happy stories:
A man got a new job because his friend who worked there recommended him, but as soon as he started working there, his friend started asking him to do illegal things. It was awkward because he didn't WANT to do illegal things, so it put a strain on the friendship. Then one day he was walking in the basement and a mouse kept running up to him covered in blood and then running away. It turns out, the mouse had somehow killed his friend, dragged his body into the vents, and was eating him. So the man didn't have to do illegal things after all.
...Yay, happy ending?

Sometimes when people send me requests for the "Musicals" playlist on SongPop, I think, "HA! Little do you know what you're doing. I know ALL the musicals and ALL the songs and I will beat you by thousands of points and you will think, 'I wish I knew as much about musicals as that random girl does. She seems amazing and awesome and better than me at everything.'"
And then I misclick and say that "Sweet Transvestite" is from Fiddler on the Roof.

I have just realized I've been at the library for several hours each day for the past week, and in that time not a single stranger has approached me listing their Facebook page at me, demanding that I drive them to Wal-Mart, or offering me a husband from "the automobile place." The Midwest may be crazy on occasion, but it's SO MUCH LESS crazy than South Carolina.

With SwiftKey on my phone, I can just choose what it thinks will be my next word without typing anything. Today I used that to send Jacob this message made entirely of predictive text: "I love you so much for the first time in the morning and evening of the most depressing moments in life." It SOUNDS poetic, but I'm not sure it actually is...

I opened a soda. It's been buzzing loudly next to me for like ten minutes now. I can't decide if this is just the most carbonated soda ever or if a bee is drowning in it.

Watching last night's American Idol. They've just promised us that after the break we'll see "some of the most star-studded performances yet." I don't think they know what star-studded means. None of these people are stars yet. And even if they *were*, they're singing one at a time. HOW CAN A PERFORMANCE BE STAR-STUDDED WITH ONLY ONE PERSON PERFORMING?
Ticia suggests their costumes will have stars with studs on them. For English's sake, I sure hope so.

Fun fact: Sometimes, when you're trying to say "Fort Wayne," Swype thinks you're trying to say "Fiery Wartime." I think I missed out on some exciting times when I lived in Indiana...

Elizabeth: Did you know that if you go to McDonald's and order "two sodas...and another soda," they will laugh at you?
Helpful tip of the day.

Me: It's 12:34! Make a wish!
(We all do, silently.)
Nathan: I wished it wouldn't be 12:34.
Me: Well, we'll have to see who wins, because I wished it would be 12:34 again!
Rebekah: Me too!
Man, we suck at making wishes.

I dreamed last night that I went back to Huntington and they'd replaced the HUB with a dorm called "The Cornflower," which had a giant ear of corn statue outside. I asked Jacob why they did that, and he said, "Oh, they're just trying to appease the corn gods."

Elizabeth just informed us that the only sci-fi movie she's ever seen is "Mr. Spaceman Goes Zoom Zoom Doc Doc Brown." That's not even close to being the name of the movie. Even if it was, her claim would still be entirely untrue.

(Jennie has been watching Master Chef and giving us the highlights.)
Jennie: Oh dang one of the team leaders cut her finger and fainted. And when I say cut her finger, she was using the mandolin and forgot the guard.
Me: I have no idea what those terms mean as far as cooking. All I can imagine is that she is playing a song on a mandolin in a castle and forgot there was a castle guard around the corner, and he was surprised by her mandolin playing and cut her finger.
You have all learned something today. Surprise mandolin playing hurts people. Don't do it.

I tried to send Jacob a text message about the Doctor Who Christmas episode having evil snow, and for various reasons he got it twice. Then this happened.
Jacob: Now I know it twice!
Me: Here, you can know it again: EVIL SNOW EVIL SNOW EVIL SNOW!
Jacob: Nope, I just got dyslexia and learned that live owns vile wons slive now.

Goodness, I've been posting a lot of links this past week. I should come up with interesting things of my own to say instead. Hmm. Well, I had a dream that Tina Fey wrote an 8,000-page book on how to become a priest. That was fun.

Elizabeth: Ugh! I don't like this parking lot! Or parking store! Or whatever it's called!
Me: "Parking store"? Why would you even call it a parking store?
Elizabeth: Well, because there's parking. And... it's not a store.
Her logic is always a fascinating thing.

Jennie: Does this look like a good scanner?
(She shares a link.)
Me: I don't have any knowledge of chips.
Me: Er... I mean scanners.
Me: My siblings were talking about chips as I typed that sentence.
Jennie: LOL

An ad for some video game said, "Make your nightmares come true on Halloween." If we're going by last night's nightmares, that means Jacob and I are going on vacation to Barbados today and at first we will have a lovely time hanging out next to a little stream but then he's going to get mad at me because I drank out of the same side of the stream as he did and apparently that's unhygienic.

(Trying to identify movie characters by just their hair on a Sporcle quiz last night)
Me and Elizabeth: That's Jesus!
Dad: I tried that, and it's not the right answer.
Nathan: Actually, I think it's Rambo.
Mom: Those two are SO similar!

Uh, so I just realized I've been under the impression all day that I've been to Canada. I haven't. I think I had a dream about it last night. This came up when I saw an old blog where I said I wanted to travel outside the country, and I thought, "Oh, I've done that, because I went to Canada! ...No, I didn't!"

Last night's dream: The whole family went to "a live performance of the Katy Perry movie," which, yeah, ended up being pretty much just a Katy Perry concert. There was a large square of dirt in the middle of the auditorium floor, and she told us all to feel free to do some gardening while we listened to her songs. So that was nice.

Jacob and I just spent like ten minutes trying to remember the name of the last book in the Twilight series. Our guesses included "Midnight Dawn," "Waking Dawn," "Sparkly Dawn," "Sex Dawn," and "Dawning Dawn."

Did you know if you shoot the person sitting next to the pilot in a helicopter, the helicopter will explode in mid-air and plummet to the earth where it will explode again? These are the things I learn from James Bond.

A minute ago, Elizabeth slowly woke up, looked at me and the first thing she said was, "If a guy was a genius dude, and he kept skipping through time because he was allergic to something, would you assume it was a watch or toothpaste?" Turns out she had been having a weird dream. I thought maybe she was still in it.

Listening to the radio yesterday, I finally heard the lyrics to "Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia. Or, well, more accurately, I heard these lyrics: "Don't you worry, don't you worry, child, Diego's gonna pray for you." So now in my mind it's about some mighty prayer warrior named Diego. When he prays, stuff HAPPENS.

Elizabeth: Hold on, what are the C's of diamonds? Cut and carat... Classicness? Covered in oil?
Yup. Covered in oil. That's the one.

(Jacob's right eye had been bothering him all day)
Jacob: What if I have to get my eye amputated, and I have to get an eye patch?
Me: Well... at least you'll look cool with an eye patch then.
Jacob: (excitedly) I KNOW! And I could get an eye patch that made it look like tentacles were coming out of my eye! That would be so cool!

Trying to catch up on American Idol. In this girl's introduction video, she said she was a sophomore, but I thought she introduced herself by saying, "I'm [whoever] from [wherever], and I'm a size four," which seemed like really unnecessary information.

NaNo excerpt of the day:
"I don't know," King Arthur said, "this is not an adventure for the faint of heart."
"I am not faint of heart," Katrina said. She instantly burst into song and sang three Italian arias before she finally stopped.
"You are right, no one faint of heart can sing those arias like that," King Arthur said. "You may come with us."
Because that's how that works.

When someone says, "Wow, Chekov gets picked on a lot," the theater nerd and the sci fi nerd in my brain have to work together to figure out whether they're referring to Anton Chekhov or Pavel Chekov. (I should have trusted their spelling. It was Pavel.)

When I am all alone in the house, I can sing as loudly and obnoxiously as I want without feeling at all self-conscious when I only know about every other word to the songs. "It's been two years since I let you go, a ga boo la ba joo ba dee ba rock and roll!"

The beginning of my phone call with Jessica Lyn Murphy went as follows:
Me: Hi!
Jessica: Hi! ...I was going to say, "Well, hello, Madame Hannah," but that's not what came out.
Me: That's OK. I can just pretend you said it.
Jessica: Well, technically, I guess I did.
I have *missed* her. It was a good chat time today

Elizabeth is just super quotable tonight. Her, a second ago: I need... computer plablet!
All of us: Computer plablet?
Her: I mean fingernail clippers!

(Playing Last Word. The subject was Things That Are Flat, the letter was T.)
Elizabeth: Tom!
Me: What? "Tom"? What makes Tom flat?
Elizabeth: Well, you should see him!

Every time Elizabeth walks into our room she throws herself face down on her mattress. I always have a moment where I wonder if she's angry or sad, but, no, it turns out she just really likes plopping face down on soft surfaces.

When writing about phone specs, it's really important to not confuse decimal points with apostrophes. This is the third time today I've accidentally typed that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 Mini will have a screen that is 4'3". Which is... unlikely.

Well, during my nap I dreamed that NLDC told Bethany she had to leave them to work for President Obama, but in reality they had just hired Gregory Peck and Cary Grant to kill her. I was trying to help save her, and in the process they knocked four of my teeth out. I remember thinking, "Wait, I've lost teeth before!" (Because I have, in other dreams.) "I don't feel any gaping holes in my mouth... My teeth must grow back together! But, wait... maybe those were all dreams! OH, NO, MY TEETH ARE GONE FOREVER!"

This morning I was singing what was stuck in my head: "Have yourself a very little Christmas." And then I realized those aren't the lyrics. I think I subconsciously want everyone else's Christmas to be smaller than mine so that mine will be THE BEST.

Just referred to "a healthy pair of teeth" on Textbroker. If you only have a pair of teeth, they might not be that healthy.

Best conversation of the week. I miss this crowd.
Tim: I'm using speech to text but it doesn't understand my address
Me: If I use speech to text, my address is almost the exact same.
Jonathan: Yes but Tim lives on supercalifragilisticexpialidocious lane
Me: Well, that would be a problem, because my speech to text apparently translates that as "What caliber to be a little."
Tim: The irony is that I live on what caliber be a little drive

Nathan and Rebekah and I have just spent 15 minutes doing jazz hands. After a while your hands just start twitching and you can't do anything anymore. This had some very amusing results. This is how we spend our evenings.

After reading my scathing review of the really, really awful book "The Quest for Forgiveness," my awesome friend Travis sent me another by the same author so I can snark it on my blog. Then this exchange happened.
Me: Opening sentence: "The fury of the restless waves pounded the cliffs as the scientists fought desperately for a cure." This is gonna be a fun ride.
Travis: *jawdrop*
Me: I was not kidding about the writing.
Travis: I feel like maybe I've been too hard on myself and the viability of my own prospects as a real writer.

There's a bug over by the TV that looks and moves like a spider, except, uh, it occasionally flies. I'm not terrified. I'm definitely not going to hide under my Snuggie until I forget it's over there.

How my Swedish-speaking friend began his status update: "3, 6, 5, 8."
What Bing Translate told me he was saying: "3, 4, 5, 8."

There's a can in our bathroom that says "Burn Relief Continuous Spray." I guess you better be REALLY sure when you want to use it, because once you start spraying it, it can't be stopped.

I just had a dream that the plot of Shakespeare's Richard III revolved around a sea serpent, the Statue of Liberty, and accusations that Richard was sleeping with a robot. Looks like Shakespeare missed out on writing what could have been the most awesome play ever.

Writing an article about dental health for Textbroker. I almost didn't catch this spoonerism before I submitted the article: "Your dentist means it when he tells you to drop stinking soda."

I dreamed that I finally got in to see a doctor, and he said, "So, have you tried acupuncture? I have arthritis in one finger, and they say acupuncture is the way to go. Here, try it." He grabbed a pin out of his drawer and showed me his arthritic finger, and tried to get me to stab it with the pin, even though I REALLY DID NOT want to.

Last night, Elizabeth was showing us a booklet she got at Dare 2 Share that she said smelled bad. I smelled it and said that it didn't smell bad, but that, somehow, it smelled like Christian music from the early 2000s. Nathan smelled it and agreed. We have no idea how or why, and Bekah and Dad have no idea what we're talking about.

I had tuna for lunch. That's healthy! As long as we don't mention the part where I followed it up with several forkfuls of chocolate frosting!

I had my first wedding stress dream last night! I dreamed we were getting married in a circus tent, and I didn't want to wear my dress yet but I couldn't find a place to put it without it getting dirty, because the tent had a dirt floor that was pretty much covered in elephant poop.

(I'm in the kitchen, Mom's in the living room)
Me: So I learned this morning that a LOT of European countries have or had colonies in the Caribbean.
Mom: Like Norway?
Me: Well, no, but the Netherlands had a bunch.
Me: ....?
Me: ...What?
(Turns out she was calling Dad as I was talking to her and the last two sentences were to him. But I was very confused for a bit.)

Elizabeth told us today that she didn't want to watch "Mr. Spaceman and all the 'Hey, we're funny!'" She was referring to a TV show. Can any of you guess what it was?
(The answer was 30 Rock.)

Sarah meant to send me a smiley, but she sent me a :" face instead, which she says looks like a cat with half its whiskers shaved off. I am now trying to think of conversations in which "cat with half-shaved whiskers" would be an appropriate emoticon. Suggestions?

While proofreading this Textbroker article, I discovered my suggestion that people decorate their front porches with planets in old containers. That is not really a feasible decorating tip.

My fortune cookie: "You are smart, for you do things smartly." Good to know.

Alfie Boe's version of "A Living Prayer" sounded gorgeous and inspirational until I was sure I heard these lyrics: "In your love I find release, a three-foot frog along my seat." Turns out the line is really "A haven from my unbelief," but it had me very confused for a moment.

Watching the Oscars and chatting with the Rinkies, who are much more intelligent and awesome than the crazies in the chat section of the live stream I'm watching. A sample: "Did anybody even actually see Lincoln?" "Tom Hardy should have been nominated for Bane!" "Adele is pregnant lol."

(We were watching YouTube videos on the TV.)
Elizabeth: There should be a butt.
(We all look at her, confused. She looks mortified, then confused, then says very deliberately...)
Elizabeth: I mean, there should be a mute button.

I got back from my visit to find seven Jack Chick tracts randomly sitting on my bed. Is my family trying to tell me something?