Sunday, January 11, 2009

Early January Adventures

Let me tell you about the slam-bang week/weekend I had.

It started, as weeks often do, on Sunday. Then, it progressed, day by day, to Thursday. (I'm skipping the slightly less interesting parts.) Thursday night I went out with a couple of friends and their friends to the Crystal City Sports Pub to watch the National Championship game. I loved hanging out with my fun crowd and meeting a bunch of new people as well.

The highlight of Thursday night was the SEC dominance. Oh yeah, baby. Three SEC National Champions in a row. It makes me feel a little better about how poorly the Gamecocks seem to fare at least. The low point was definitely that the game never seemed to end. Ever. It was the longest game of all time. Travis got caught by a Sports Illustrated photographer as he was headed into the game with his girlfriend, which was pretty exciting.

Friday, work went well and I got a bunch of posts finished for a blog I work on there. Mind you, we only post one a day over there (which makes me feel productive, and yet bad that I can't manage to write here as frequently), but I know that the next couple weeks are going to start getting much busier and I won't have as much time to spend researching really exciting pieces. Having some in the queue makes it less urgent. [Happy to share the link to the work blog via email, if you are inclined to spend more time reading my prose. It's much less tangential over there :)]

Friday evening, I headed up to a friend's house for my church choir party. Of course I don't have photos, but I may be able to secure a little ridiculous video later this week that our cantor took. Basically, after eating some scrumptious food, we hung around the piano and sang songs from the 1920's to today, ending with "Goodnight Ladies/Pick A Little" from Music Man. When I finally looked at my watch, I realized I wouldn't be getting home until about 12:15, and oops, I had to be up early, because ...

Saturday we went up to the Volleyball House to play in a tournament. Our team did well, earning a point towards our total in the region and advancing to the semi-finals. We even took our semi-final game to a third match. Alas, we were unable to avoid their hitting rally. But, it was some of the best playing our team did all day, and it was incredibly fun. I love hanging out with my new teammates and I feel like I'm getting the rhythm of play much easier now.

I've played mostly libero, which is funny, since I used to get substituted in the back row for a very strong inclination to shank the ball (shank - to send the ball flying wildly out of bounds, typically considered really poor playing). If you're not familiar with the still pretty new position of libero, it is someone who basically plays defense in the back row and does A LOT of passing the ball.

I know not everyone is as intimate with volleyball as I am, so a libero is similar to a designated hitter in baseball or a special teams receiver in football. We're in the game to offensively give the setters the best chance at a good set (which often results in a good spike) and defensively to get to the balls that are hardest hit by the opposing team. Needless to say, you can't shank the ball too often and be good in this position.

But, because our team captain is super nice, she also let me play right side for awhile. I won't explain this position too much, except to say it means I get to hit the ball up at the net (play in the front row) and also serve. Serving was my specialty before I hurt my shoulder, and I'm just now getting it back. I was really thrilled to pull my team out of a HUGE point deficit by serving a number of balls in a row that the other team just couldn't send back - including at least three aces (sort of like a strike, because the other team misses the ball entirely).

I have no idea how many I served, but I'm sure that after they took a timeout, I served at least three more times before we tied the game and they got the ball back. (It's an old playing habit that I don't look at the score mid-game unless I'm a captain or coach - every play is worth the same amount of points, so you dig deep on all of them - not just when you're down.) My shoulder is feeling all those serves (and a couple from the other games) today, but it was totally worth it. I'm really going to have to call my physical therapist and thank her for helping me get my arm back in shape.

After volleyball, the team went out to Galae Thai in Alexandria for dinner. It was super delicious and really great to recap with everyone. It's also nice to talk about non-volleyball things. I have a feeling I'm going to get to be pretty good friends with some of these girls and I'm really excited about that.

I got home around 11 and asked my neighbor to come and hang out with me so I wouldn't fall asleep icing up my aching shoulder, arm, and knees. He was kind enough to hang out for an hour (20 on, 20 off, 20 on again). When I got up this morning, it was obvious that the ice made a HUGE difference in my knees. I'm sure it helped my shoulder too, but since I can't remember the last time I played volleyball and didn't have to ice my shoulder, I'm not sure how much worse the soreness would have been without it. Hopefully next weekend will be a bit easier, since it will have been a week instead of a month in between playing.

Church was good this morning. Big water weekend with the baptism of Jesus. We sang some really fun music and I played the bells. I came home and got to talk to Dave for awhile, which was awesome since we seem to never see each even though we live in the same house. Then it was time for book club.

This month we read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I liked it. Meghan had tons of delicious fruit and some killer meatballs and mini quiche. I love our group and have so much fun talking with them. The book didn't provide too much fodder for conversation, but we did pick out a bunch of themes to get us going and then digressed on the usual paths. We were talking about Monty Python, and apparently, one of the new quotes for my personal quote wall is: "Sometimes, I'm sort of a square; so I just don't think it's funny." Everyone found it hysterical as I am - by comparison to other girls my age - almost always a square (or do I just make it seem that way?? [insert maniacal laugh]).

After that, it was just regular weekend stuff. Cleaned up a bit, took down Christmas decorations, made myself a leek and mushroom quiche for lunch this week, watched some TV, etc. etc.

I'm off to bed now, but in looking over the length of this post, I have to say that it seems like I'm doing pretty well on the 2009 resolutions so far. I may even have to stop saying I lead a boring life.

Big hugs,

~Heather

P.S. - During my proofread, I realized that my sentence order made it seem like we usual digressed into talking about Monty Python at book club, which, for the record, is not true. We almost always talk about movies in general, since four of us have worked in theaters and three were managers.

Friday, January 02, 2009

La Tua Cantante

I'm fairly certain we're all aware I'm a nerd. Well, this of course extends to young adult fiction. I have become immersed in the phenomena known as the Twilight series, and love it. I have not wanted to put any of the books down as I read them, flying through them and forcing myself to slow down and better enjoy the story.

Admittedly, the writing is not technically brilliant. But there is something about the voice of the author, the personalities of the characters, and the goofy teen angst-yness that appeals to me. Finding out that the author is Mormon helped me decipher some of the details I thought were lacking, but strangely (because religious affiliation is not generally something I consider when choosing authors to read), I found that the plot made more sense and the romance was much more sincere knowing her faith. It really enhanced the third book (which is the one I read after I found out) - though arguably, there is more in the way of marriage and "binding together" talk in Eclipse anyway.

Anyway, I've been thinking about a passage in the second book, New Moon. And, if you aren't on this book yet, I'm not going to spoil anything, so no worries. A character is described as "la tua cantante", Italian for "your singer." The idea is similarly described in the title book of the series, but not with same language.

In some way, I think this totally fictional description of defining how a person can appeal to another is rather brilliant. Maybe just because it sounds better in Italian, but it is the sort of thing that I have a hard time describing in English (and an even worse time describing in French!). Maybe, because the idea of something (or someone) singing to me is pretty awesome (and is definitely on my list of ideal traits - though vocal quality is not a prerequisite, just a willingness to sing). But whatever the reasoning, the phrase caught my attention.

Throughout my life, different people/things have "sung to me" in different ways (none literally, oddly enough). I'm sure you've experienced this. When you meet someone and maybe not right away, but fairly soon you just feel some sort of connection between you and the other person. Someone you instantly feel comfortable with, or can have a conversation with, or makes a good running partner. A place that you feel safe and free, a tool that seems to work better than any other, a stray animal you just had to take home.

I love when I meet these people and discover these things, because it makes me feel connected to the world. But, like anything that you get connected to (this is beginning to remind me of the Dark Materials series), if or when you have to break the connection, it can be absolutely rotten. Not everyone recognizes the same connections or even feels them. I even wonder if the sensation is only observable to some people, since some don't seem to understand it when you try to explain the idea to them.

All this to say, that these connections are rare and should be treasured. I'd argue they should be fought for, but undoubtedly that could be bad advice depending on the situation. And if you are one of the few who have never noticed any before, then I would suggest that you open your mind to their existence. It is a wonder to behold. You could say (for the believing readers) that it is like a visible line drawn between two things by destiny/fate/God. Just one more way God is making his presence known in the world, one little connection at a time.

Love always, ~Heather

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Resolutions for 2009

Around the planet, people are making resolutions. Statistically, I'm fairly certain, many of them will not ever become realities. This does not dissuade me from making my own resolutions though. Although I'm not sure that I've ever kept a New Year's resolution, I often manage to keep resolutions for Lent or other shorter spans of time. So, I've planned my goals to minimize difficulty in missing days or losing resolve, and that will solve some of the biggest things that bugged me during 2008.
  1. Do something everyday that makes me happy.
  2. Travel to a new place (preferably outside the U.S.) and explore it.
  3. Spend at least an hour a week doing some sort of cleaning/picking-up in the house (preferably in my room).
Here is my rationale.

Number 1: I can rarely stop things from making me unhappy. I have little control over the things my mind chooses to hang on to or obsess over. However, if I can't stop the occasional misery, I can at least dull the sensation by countering it with the exact opposite feeling - joy. I'm even making a little jar of small things to do for the (exceptionally) rare day when I can't think of a single positive thing. No excuses on this one, as flossing and other small stuff makes me happy, and it is stuff that can be easily made a part of my day.

Number 2: This blog used to be about the more traditional adventures. When I was in France, I did lots of things by myself. While I am still afraid of traveling by myself to a far off place, I figure that with enough advanced planning, I can work in at least one trip this year to a place I've never been with a friend or other safety net that will help me feel safe. I'm sure, because this year alone I visited three states I had never explored before and visited multiple others (two of which with people I would never have guessed at a year ago).

Moreover, this will help me be less scared.

Finally, it is something I can do to celebrate singledom. You know, that state of being where you are NOT attached at the hip to someone else? I seem to reside in that state more years than not, which isn't a problem, but like many people, I find this particular scenario less than ideal. Which bugs me (contributing to the unhappiness being countered in Resolution #1). So, I'm doing something that once I have settled down with my future family will be significantly more difficult to do. Traveling to destinations of your own choosing and deciding the best activities to do in that place is a bit more complicated as you add a husband and children.

Number 3: My room is perpetually a mess. No matter how hard I try, it is always a disaster area. I think I've got it cleaned up and BOOM. I travel and upon my return a suitcase explodes, or my laundry gets delayed, or my volleyball bag finds itself lonely for its contents - all of which coordinates with an inability to get rid of stuff I'm not sure if I'll use again. But, with a little help from Rachel, I'm going to focus at least one hour a week on cleaning the house, in the hopes that my room, which is IN the house, will feel the effects.

I'm not sure how these things are going to go. I have no idea what this year will have in store for me, though I'm hoping more laughter, Iceland, and less piles of laundry. But, the things I was not expecting in 2008 were some of the most interesting - New Orleans, Iowa, San Francisco, new roommates, garden boxes, volleyball teams. In fact, this year has been chock-full of stuff I've never done, learned, seen, heard, or experienced before.

I can't wish for anything more than the exact same for 2009.

Blessings to all for a wonderful year.

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - Big hugs and kisses to everyone who has made 2008 an outstanding year. I wouldn't be me without you!