Look Around List!

“Look around! Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

It’s been a while, to put it mildly, but I’ve been so busy with school. But that doesn’t mean I forgot to look around!

Comic books. I am having so much fun going on comic runs again. I probably could just do them once a month, but right now the two X-Men series – X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue – are alternating weekly releases. Aka, there’s a new one every Wednesday. But I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. At least 3 new comics tomorrow!

Bitch Planet. If you like good writing and some serious commentary on patriarchy, read it! The first trade paperback has been out, the second is coming, and next week’s issue is #10. I can’t wait!

Native deodorant. I’ve been using it for over a month now and I have no intention of stopping. I do have sensitive skin under my arms, so I have to be careful how much I use so I don’t dry out the skin, just absorb the sweat. It’s awesome! I highly recommend it to anyone. If you click here, both you and I get a free travel deodorant if you order!

New Playlists! Since the last time I posted, Lin has created 8 new playlists! His awesome wife has created two of her own inspired by his! Both of them are exposing me to music I would probably not have found on my own. I love it!

Moana. Every time I watch it, I need tissues. Sometimes due to the plot. Sometimes due to the accuracy and reverence for the culture. This is Disney’s best movie yet! Hopefully this is just the start.

Finishing my thesis. Yes. It’s done! I had to make some formatting changes, but it’s done! I’ll probably post about it sometime soon. I’m so glad to have finished it. I just hope that I can use it as a starting point for a more in-depth book on the topic later.

My church. This year there were 15 individuals who joined the Catholic church through the RCIA program at my church. 15! When I mention that, most people are surprised at the high number. I like to think that is because of the openness and welcoming nature of the St. Thomas More Newman Center at The Ohio State University. There’s a reason I’m going to miss going there every week when I start working on my Ph.D. at BGSU.

My hubby. There is a lot that has been going on, which is mostly why there have been no posts, and he has been my rock through all of it. I don’t think I’d be sane at this point if it weren’t for him.

Just remember, no matter how crazy the world may seem, look around and remember how lucky we are to be alive right now!

The Dude and the Zen Master

As I mentioned earlier, I recently re-read the book The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman. This book is something I really needed to familiarize myself with, again. I started it on November 12th and finished it on the 17th. It really helped me to get a perspective on the world and to nourish my soul.

Rather than try to talk about it more, I’m just going to transcribe the quotes I made note of as well as any notes I made while reading it. I just ran across a wonderful article that talks about the book. Check it out if you’re interested. These are simply the quotes that really impacted me this time around. I hope that they inspire you to pick up this book for yourself, or at least gain something from them. But remember that these are simply parts of the whole. They have more when they are consumed as part of the whole. Enjoy! Continue reading “The Dude and the Zen Master”

That’s just, like, your opinion, man.

One way I’ve been taking care of myself lately is to get more into Dudeism. I reread The Dude and the Zen Master. The first time I read it, I did so on my Kindle. I loved it so much that I knew I needed the physical book. That’s what I read this time. Sometimes you just need the book in your hands and get away from the many glowing screens in life.

Lost my train of thought there…

Anyway. It’s an amazing book. I got so much out of it. I wrote down many, many quotes, and made many, many notes. I will post them soon.

I finished it and found myself wanting to read The Dude De Ching. But I knew it was at home, since my hubby’s the one who turned me on to Dudeism, and I didn’t know it was available for free for Kindle and Epub since a new, annotated version is out. So, I started reading The Abide Guide for the I-don’t-know-what-number time. It’s always good to refresh the basics every once in a while.

But, I’m setting it aside briefly because I’m soaking in the wisdom of The Dude De Ching. I’m thinking it’s going to be another book that I’m going to get my own copy of so I can have it on hand wherever. I’m only about half of the way through, but it’s got some sage advice put “in the parlance of our times”.

What can I say? Dudeism and The Big Lebowski are providing me with advice, wisdom, and guidance that are going to help me weather the political storm that is coming, unless something drastically changes. I even decided to become a Dudeist …I still haven’t decided which word I want to use to refer to myself. Being Catholic, “priest” just doesn’t quite work. I may just go with being an ordained Dudeist and be done with it. For me it’s more of a philosophy to live by than a religion…

Book hopping

Yesterday when I posted my plan to read The Dresden Files as completely as possible, I mentioned something about clearing up my reading list. I thought I’d share what that is right now. Or more accurately, what I’m reading right now.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Audiobook cover of The Signature of All Things
Image from Goodreads

This is what I’ve been listening to in the car for a little over a week now. I’m about 61% done and am really enjoying it. It’s a wonderful piece of historical fiction that looks at science and biology before the Civil War in the US. It will probably go through the Civil War, but I’m not up to that point.

I’m looking forward to having the time to sit down and read this later. I love audiobooks, but it is a different experience than sitting and reading the book. Which brings me to my next book.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Cover of Ready Player One
Image from Goodreads.

This past weekend at Marcon, I saw this on a dealer’s table and knew that I should just finally buy the thing. I love listening to Wil Wheaton read this book, but I’ve really been wanting to read, and own, this book. It’s become my “at home” book. I’ve got it with me all the time, but I’m feeling like the place to actually read it is at home. I started to pick up a different book, but found myself really wanting to read this instead. It’s been a while since I’ve had that desire. I missed it.

By reading it, it gives me the time to write down lines that really hit me. It also gives me the time to write down all the cultural references that aren’t explicitly pointed out. I want to see how many I can find myself. I’m hoping to be able to find them all, eventually.

Feed by Mira Grant

Cover for Feed.
Image from Goodreads.

Feed was that other book that I was starting to read when Ready Player One insisted I pick it up.

I’m honestly not sure how often I’ve read this book. Especially since I bought it for my Kindle. Granted, this time I’m a bit inspired by debuting my Becks costume at Marcon this weekend. But this book and the two that follow it are simply so good and well-written that they need no justification to reread multiple times.

I think part of why I enjoy this book so much is that while it’s about zombies, it doesn’t focus on them. It’s about how George and Shaun and Buffy are living in this world where threat of zombie attack is a real thing. Brilliant book.

The Abide Guide by Oliver Benjamin and Dwayne Eutsey

Cover of The Abide Guide.
Image from Goodreads.

After finishing The Dude and the Zen Master, the logical book to read next was The Abide Guide. All that talk about zen and the Dude inspired me to brush up on my Dudeist teachings.

This is a great book. If you enjoy The Big Lebowski and are open-minded when it comes to religion and philosophy and just different ways of living one’s life, then you should read this book. Personally, Dudeism is more of a way of living than a religion for me. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I consider myself a Catholic Dudeist. The two go together really well.

Really, Dudeism goes well with any religion or belief system. Which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. But don’t think too much. If you find yourself tensing up, have a White Russian, relax and just abide.

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Cover of Skin Game.
Image from Goodreads.

Yes, Skin Game isn’t out yet. (May 27th!!!) But as usual, Jim is posting the first five chapters on his website. So I’m reading those as they get posted. Next week is when chapter five gets posted, but the week after that is when it arrives on my Kindle! Yes, I have pre-ordered the Kindle version of the book. I learned with Cold Days that if I want to read the book anytime soon after it comes out, just getting the Kindle version is the best way. Of course, I’ll also get the paperback when it comes out.

And I will definitely be reading it asap. I can’t continue on with my Dresden Files project until the newest one is read!

So that’s everything I’m reading right now. It might seem like chaos, but I’m loving it!

Werds: Bohemian

Bo·he·mi·an (noun): a person who does not conform to generally accepted standards or customs.
(Merriam-Webster Thesaurus)

Usually I don’t like to label myself as one thing or another when I think of myself as a whole. I label parts of myself (Catholic, Dudeist, cosplayer, geek, ASL speaker, language lover, student, wife, sister, daughter, etc.), but I haven’t found a word that sums up everything that I am.

Until I read that definition of bohemian.

When I was in high school our band played a medley of songs from the new hit Broadway musical Rent. Yes, I am that old. 😉 I loved playing the music and our director played a few of the songs for us. The ones appropriate for Catholic high school (and 8th grade) students to hear, of course. I loved them. So I got the soundtrack out of the library and was hooked. Something about the plot really resonated with me.

One day my mom walks past my room while I’m listening to “La Vie Boheme” and tells me that I shouldn’t let anyone call me a bohemian. That’s just how she works. I’ve accepted that.

But over the years, no one ever called me bohemian. Probably because people think of the more ‘traditional’ definition from Merriam-Webster:
2 often not capitalized
a : vagabond, wanderer; especially : gypsy
b : a person (as a writer or an artist) living an unconventional life usually in a colony with others

Neither of those definitions really apply to me. But the one from the Thesaurus does. Of course, I’m writing this wearing men’s jeans, black Chucks, a women’s cut “Doctor Gru” t-shirt, a Ministry of Silly Walks watch on my left wrist, and my new leather charm bracelet with a dangling TARDIS charm on my right.

Now to see what people think of when they hear the word. This is going to be fun!

Reading: The Dude and the Zen Master

Have you ever picked up a book and have it be exactly what you need at the time? That is what The Dude and the Zen Master is for me right now.
The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie GlassmanI’ve been wanting to read the book for a while now, so when one of the tasks for the Spring Book Challenge on The Nest Book Club was “Read a book whose title is at least 6 words long (you can include “The”, “it” “as” etc…)”, I knew which book to read.

I’m a bit of a Dudeist myself. I’m a Catholic Dudeist. It’s wonderful how the two work together so easily. So reading this book really hits me. It’s like a gentle spring breeze slowly dissipating the fog that has been clouding my vision these past few months. Reading the wisdom that these two amazing men impart is exactly what I need in my life right now.

I can’t wait to keep going and see what else they have to say!

If you’re curious, there’s a great review over on NPR. Check it out!

Happy Holidays! (part 3)

Because Christmas was on a Wednesday this year, we got to stay home and celebrate all by ourselves. It’s kinda nice to be able to simply sit back and enjoy the holiday. No worrying about traffic. No worrying about when we have to be where. No worrying about forgetting presents at our place. Just sitting back in our pjs and watching Christmas specials and movies all day long.

But for me, Christmas starts on Christmas Eve. Both of us had to work, which really just helped our cause of staying home for Christmas. Once I got home from work I got what food I could ready for munching the next day. Who wants to cook on Christmas day? That night I finally got to do something I had been looking forward to for a few years now: playing at Midnight Mass!

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I play the trumpet. I’ve been playing since the 5th grade and I don’t want to try to figure out how many years that has been. I am really lucky that I get to play every Sunday at Mass. For a few years we were able to go up to be with family over Christmas because it fell on a Friday-Monday. Last year I was not in the mood for a traditional Christmas Mass, so I sang at the Blue Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve. But this year…hehehe…this year was ready!

Well, as ready as I could be. We played some carols before Mass, which I played for half of them. I played for the last two and then we went right into Mass. I am still amazed that my lip lasted through the whole thing. It was really trying to die on me a couple of times. But it was totally worth it.

When I got home, I was given the option to open a present if I wanted to. Considering my sister had me open my present from them on Sunday when I saw them briefly, I felt I had opened my early present and suggested he could open his from them. Yeah, my sister is getting good at finding presents. They got him a “flight deck”, as he’s calling it. It’s 4 small glasses and a wooden tray for them to create a flight of beers to taste. He’s really happy.

After that I went to bed. It was 1:30am. It was late enough.

The next morning we slept in. It’s so nice to sleep in on a Wednesday. I got up and finished the cooking and got everything out in the living room for easy snacking. Once he got up, we sat by the tree and opened what remained of our presents. The rest of the day was spent munching and watching holiday movies snuggled up on the couch. A wonderful way to spend Christmas.

Busy does not begin…

Life lately has been overwhelming at times. Trying to juggle a 40-hour work week on top of taking three classes in the evening in a demanding program has been tough. Luckily I have managed to figure things out and no longer feel like I’m struggling to keep my head above water.

First, I did some thinking and realized that, at least right now, becoming an interpreter is not for me. When I think about going to grad school and becoming a speech therapist, I get excited. I’m looking forward to it. I want it to happen. When I think about becoming an interpreter, I get worried and stressed and have a total lack of confidence. I almost dread it. You really shouldn’t dread a future career. So I have decided to finish out this semester, take the last two classes I need to get the Deaf Studies Certificate next semester, and just take other classes needed for the interpreter degree outside of the interpreting department. That way I’m staying busy, getting my GPA higher for grad school applications, and keeping my options open if I decide down the line to pick up where I left off and become an interpreter.

Second, I reread The Abide Guide. Dudeism just helps me to deal with the chaos that is this world. It has reminded me that simply saying “Fuck it” when you are frustrated really helps. The frustration dissipates and you feel so much better. It also inspired me to rearrange my room, again. But this time I think I have it in a configuration that will be easier to keep organized. I’ll take some pics and post them when I’ve got it completely finished. There are still a few things to put on the walls and bring back in from the living room. I’ve got a computer area, a reading area, and plenty of space for people to come and hang out. And there’s still enough floor space for the air mattress if we have someone over for a visit! It just feels better. It is really important to have a space that you can call your own. Now mine is also a personal retreat. 🙂

Just remember: Abide

I keep forgetting my Dudeist teaching. Abide. I had a midterm today for my ASL class, which I’m currently failing because I come to class half-an-hour late every time (which means half participation points) because work ends and class begins at the same time and work won’t let me leave early. Also, because I’m late, I miss every quiz. Well, not every quiz. I managed to get there in time for the end of one quiz so far. One out of 6 or 7 at this point. Anyway, the result of this midterm determines whether I will pass this class or not. If I don’t pass, I can’t keep going as scheduled in the program.

I was stressing out about it, and then last week I think my Dudeism kicked in because I began to abide. I figured out ways to keep going if I don’t pass. I didn’t let myself get all worked up or panic or stress over this midterm. I was going to understand what I was going to understand. No point working myself up.

Now I have the second part of the midterm to complete before the time we normally end class by on Wednesday. This part I can worry over and work on because I have to tell a story within certain guidelines. This part I have control over. I can control how much I practice the story. I can control how much I work on it to get it flowing as smooth as I can at this point in my studies. I have control, and I am going to use it!

Continual Conversion

It’s a phrase that’s been on my mind lately. Probably because of RCIA. I heard it back my senior year of high school in Religion class. It means that we are always changing and growing in our faith. Sometimes it may be a crisis or doubt of faith that could last anywhere from a few seconds to a years.

Being an RCIA sponsor really brings this to the front of my mind. Last year was my first time doing it and I learned so much and grew so much. Just because you’ve been Catholic, or whatever faith, your entire life, doesn’t mean you know everything. Especially when so much of what you learn is when you’re young. The Dresden Files were actually a part of why I finally listened to that little voice going “Do it! Do it!” In the series Harry Dresden, the main character and wizard, eventually takes on an apprentice. Because he has to teach his apprentice the basics and go over these things over and over again, he found himself growing stronger in his magic and by extension his faith in it.

It’s a really interesting concept that many people don’t think about. But I consider it a very important part of anyone’s spiritual life.