Sunday, January 29, 2012

Buena Vista

I live in this state. Isn't that weird? Isn't it beautiful? Can you believe that view? Don't you wish I had caught a cowboy in action out there? Don't you want to come visit me now? Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Things to Which I Wonder if There is a Science

There are things we do, as a human race, that seem organized. Trend-like. But you have to believe they aren't, because we can't be that dumb. But does that just make us all followers? Did someone design these cultural practices? Why are we listening to them? Here is my painful list. I'm afraid it's just skimming the surface.

1. Making everyone I know and, to my disadvantage, am friends with on Facebook believe they can and should start their own photography business. Who is the John Galt of photography and how does he keep getting to these people? And perhaps more pressing, why do they keep tilting the camera? I'm getting too old for that. A crooked black and white photograph of a lawn chair doesn't make you Annie Liebovitz.

2. Commercials about investing in gold. There will be a cowboy hat, terrible, unlikely graphics (like the Captain from Law and Order walking on top of the backdrop from The Perfect Storm) and some weird vocal inflection involved. I don't think any of those things are making me want to buy gold, but someone seems to think they are. Maybe they are. I could go for some new earrings. (Isn't that what they're selling?)

3. Popular Christian music. It appears that if you can pen lyrics involving: some extended metaphor of a "storm," a benevolent rescue from said storm (that you naturally resisted at first), and the phrases "bow down" and "in this place," you've got a hit. The confusing thing is the unbelievable amount of better music out there; better Christian music. (Nichole Nordeman. Bethany Dillon. Leeland! BROOKE FRASER!) But aw shucks, ya'll. Color me shaking my head and giggling at myself as I turn the dial back to KLove. Today was a little stormy, now that I think about it. And sometimes getting in a praisin' mood is better than espresso.

4. Sign-spinners. Is there a statistic that indicates - or, HINTS - that anything other than absolute, soul-crushing pity is felt by witnesses of this spectacle? Do you people suddenly find yourselves in a particularly consumeristic mood when you drive by one of these heroes of modern capitalism? All I can seem to muster is both gratefulness that there's such a thing as Careebuilder and a glance at my clock to try to determine how much longer they've got to stand out there. If you buy cigars because you saw the word TOBACCO spinning on its axis a few exits ago, you need to do some soul-searching.

Is there a committee running the world that is laughing at us right now? I can't figure out if I'd rather the answer be yes or no.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Black Hole

I keep thinking, "I should take a fun picture for the blog." Because I'm trying to be more pro-photo. But I keep missing the sun. Literally - yesterday I found out I have a Vitamin D deficiency. But no seriously - I really do keep missing it. So photos aren't happening. Here is what I have for you:

This is my life right now. Work, play rehearsals, night-sweat-soaked sleep and a deep, aching longing for all the episodes of Biggest Loser I'm missing.

If one person says "First world problem" to me I swear I will move to Africa and maintain the exact same complaints.

...Too far?

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Should be Allowed to Whine

Remember that teacher you had when you were a kid who wore outdated glasses that made you really angry, and whenever you would ask to go to the bathroom by saying "Can I go to the bathroom" she'd say "I don't know, can you?"

Coincidentally for me, that was the same teacher whom I told casually in conversation one day about all the mean nicknames my Dad and me had made up for the people we saw at mass every Sunday, and then she brought it up to my Dad during Parent/Teacher conferences, and, you know. I had to go to bed before The Wonder Years for a week.

Anyhow, there is such a big difference between "Is permitted" and "Is able." I personally don't see the problem in forgiving the uncomfortably fidgeting 12-year-old that colloquialism but perhaps that's a post for another day. However, there's a more pressing difference between "Is able" and "will," and that's what I decided I wanted to write about as I was thoughtfully driving home from church Sunday night.

When I lost my job unexpectedly in November a lot of people reminded me that God was strong and big enough to "get us through it." I appreciated the sentiment, but a couple of things didn't strike me quite right with that.

First, what does it look like to "get through" something like that? I believe that God will give us whatever we need - every hair on our head is accounted for (Matthew 10:30). But the terrifying part is discovering just how little we actually need. Parents lose children. Houses burn down. Life savings are blasted through. iPods get the sad-mac face. Apparently we didn't need any of that. But I certainly want it. And it feels like I need it. There was no way I was looking forward to finding out that all Aaron and I really needed to get by was a box of Raisin Bran and NBA 2K11.

The other issue I took with that advice is that I have no problem believing that God can do anything. He created whatever scientific or physical laws we think are absolute; He can most certainly break them if He needs to. I just have no idea what He will do.

I'm struggling to figure out how to exist under this truth lately, and I was inspired to be honest with you about it after reading this. It's hard to stay awake during weird, scary times like being jobless when you realize you're not guaranteed any relief. It's not that I thought before that I was. It's just that I am realizing I am still supposed to love God with all my heart and be amazed at his grace for me when He doesn't promise He'll at least give me the tools to function.

But as long as I'm living and as long as Jesus died, I still have more than I deserve. I just wish I had a little leg to stand on when I feel like whining. In general.

By the way - I got an incredible new job right before Christmas. I even have my own office, and there's a vending machine in the lunch room with an endless supply of Coke 0 for $.60. Jackpot.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Atlas Shrugged and I was like "Dude, don't be a Jerk"

I just finished Atlas Shrugged. It took me forty hundred years (which is 2 months in Maria time) and was grueling but gripping. It made me groan because I recognize the story, playing out in the news, and that makes me sad. It also made me groan because that lady is WORDY, and there were so many times when I was like come on, all I want is to just finish this chapter and get some chicken nuggets, how long is this going to take?

Regardless, the book is a must-read I think, and now I shall share some of my impressions. Shut up and listen.

First of all Ayn Rand, I don't know if you really started a philosophical revolution because I wasn't around when you were, but if you did, I'm sad about it, because I don't know how we didn't know that stuff before.

People can be trusted more to make useful business decisions when they are working for a profit than when they aren't. That just makes sense. So replacing businessmen with politicians in the role of economic rule-making (and keeping) doesn't work. It's just replacing fallible people with fallible people. Except the first group actually have a financial interest in succeeding. The second group just wants to look good. I know who I'd trust more.

CEO's don't make money "on the backs of" blue-collar workers. Blue-collar workers wouldn't have jobs if CEO's didn't have ideas that needed some machinery to implement. And blue-collar workers can leave whenever they'd like.

Secondly, I think we should help each other, but only because we want to. Of course it is my hope that we'd all want to, and Jesus had a lot to say about this that made sense. But we're not all going to want to, and no one should make you. However, Ayn Rand, you downplay this a little too much for me. It's ok for people to have sympathy. I know you would just say "then they are serving their own interests by acting on that sympathy" and maybe that's true, but that's why we need God to change our hearts. Also, a lot of this is just semantics. I think we're on the same page. Kind of.

Thirdly, I really hope that the true reason behind fakely altruistic politicians and the like is not the fact that they hate living. When you follow their actions all the way to their basest possible motives, that may seem like the only plausible explanation sometimes, but I just hope it's not. I tend to think it's more simple - that they just want to be liked. Or in power. That seems a lot less evil to me than just hating life, and so hating those who love it.

Fourthly, I wish I had known you had a Russian accent before I read the book, because I really missed out on narrating the entire thing with your accent.

Fifthly, Dagny is incredible and I named my Kindle after her.

Readers? Any thoughts? Have you read it? Does the fact that I read it mean I have to write a paper and enter a scholarship contest now? These are burning questions.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wanna Read my Diary

"At first I didn't know it was your diary. I thought it was a very sad, handwritten book."*

The biggest pain in moving this past week, aside from all of Aaron's whining (this is a haha joke in that the whining was all me, and was excessive) was moving all of our books into the study. First of all, I can't carry those boxes. And secondly, why was J.K. Rowling so long-winded? I need to do more biceps training.

However, unloading all of my journals was energizing. I have written 12 at this point, which either makes me awesome or a freak, or an awesome freak. As I put them on the shelf (in chronological order!!! Moving inspires organization) I flipped through and found some of the greatest sentences ever written. Sentences like:

"I had to run the 400 in the track meet Tuesday and I was really nervous, and Mom totally YELLED at me in front of people. And then she made fun of me for being dramatic."


"She can just wait until I'm on Broadway and in movies and everyone forgets about her because she's a bum even though she used to be popular in middle school."

You just can't beat it.

And then I got to wondering whether you might like to see some of my old entries. So I'm going to initiate, on a trial basis, mind you, a little blog series regarding just those. They need to see the light of day at some point before my blood pressure explodes over a fear that they were written in vain. Somewhere in the world right now, my friend Jason from high school is high-fiving everyone he sees. You're welcome, Jay. You're welcome. (I know you read it back then anyway, punk.)

We'll start this week. OH and there's a rule. DON'T JUDGE ME. Also I don't think I'll get anywhere near the past 2 years or so. That s-word is too recent. I would DIE if you found out who I have a crush on. Also I'll probably change names so as to protect the identity of people in my past who most certainly will want to be protected from, you know, journal sonnets and whatnot.

*Bridesmaids is chicken soup to my soul, and this line said in that horrible British accent is the best thing I've ever heard.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Aaron doesn't like when I bring this up, like I do all the time at parties and barmitzvahs, because he thinks it makes him sound mean, but I know it doesn't. It was just one of those times where he said exactly what was on his heart in a very genuine, cute way. That's his style, ya'll.

Anyway, a few months ago he came home from some get-together with a bunch of guys from our church. I don't know them that well, but have met most of them. And when Aaron got home he said "Ria. Everyone thinks you're so...sweet. That's the word they use." People from his work said that all the time too, he said. And his tone and his body language and his eyebrows said, what are they smoking?

I knew exactly what he meant by his confusion and if you've ever met me, first of all sorry for all the yelling, and secondly you probably know what he meant, too. Because I'm not sweet.

I really do try to be kind to people. If a resident at the nursing home tells me their kids never come to visit, I genuinely feel burdened for that. If a friend had a terrible day and I'm not there to hug her, I've been known to shed a tear, or two thousand. But if my waitress brings me tea and it's cold, she'd better go warm it up. And if the guy at the auto shop tries to charge me $200 for focusing his eyes in the general direction of my car and then saying "it's probably ____," he'd better get ready for an disproportionately long discussion in which I WILL GAIN THE UPPER HAND.

And if you put me in a play rehearsal with 30 other people who love music and acting as much as I do, I'm going to be obnoxious. Because that's what makes life fun.

My point is, I'm not "sweet."

I was telling this to my mom recently and she said "of course you are!" And since moms never overestimate the positive attributes of their offspring, that settled the matter right then and there.

Actually, in response to her, I said, in my brain, the word "sweet" is synonymous with the word "timid." And when I said that, she did one of those annoying "OHHH!" things, as in, OHHH, I just Freud-ed you and you didn't even know it! And then she threw her microphone on the ground, popped her collar and made a dramatic exit.

Do you think "sweet" means "timid"? Does God call us to be timid? Can you be kind without being timid? Can you loan me $200?