we interrupt your regular blogging for a short public service announcement

I have a lot of things I want to write about. But right now they all seem either really petty or incredibly beyond my skill to discuss. There’s been so much going on this week that I’m still having trouble comprehending it.

What I will say is this: Pay attention to the world around you. Get your news from multiple sources. Don’t rush to broad, sweeping judgements. And remember that sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the news doesn’t make it go away.

If you’re on social media, make it work for you. Follow different news channels and sites, and pay at least a moderate amount of attention to what they’re posting. Use apps like Pocket to save articles for later when you can’t get to them right away. Subscribe to services like theSkimm to get a brief snapshot of world news in your inbox. Find what works for your lifestyle, and use it.

I’m saying this as much to myself as to anyone else. If we’re going to be a Light to the world, we owe it to the world to know what’s going on.

wonder full

First things first I’m the realest: I am now in possession of a ukulele and can now live out my three-week long dream of sitting on the balcony/patio playing “La Vie en rose” like that one really sweet scene from How I Met Your Mother. But so far I’ve only downloaded a tuning app and learned two chords, so…

Second things second, I have realized that I totally skipped last week’s post, but oh well. You’re all adults. You can handle it.

It’s actually been a pretty swell last week and a half, to tell the truth. I’ve felt pretty productive at work, I spent some quality time with the parentals, I got the aforementioned ukulele, and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy twice (you should really go see it yourself if you haven’t as it is golden).

OH, and I also attended the wedding of two really wonderful people at which I got to dance, laugh, and generally enjoy the company of other really wonderful people and my heart is so giddy about it a week later, oh my goodness.

Weddings like this are absolute dreams for a post-grad like me (that is to say, extremely extroverted and possibly-too-attached to college friends that no longer live nearby). There are hugs and stories and laughing and more hugs, and everything just feels right.

And guess what! Tomorrow happens to be the wedding of yet another pair of wonderful people that will be attended by a group of wonderful people, and I don’t think I could be any more excited. It’s basically ENFP crack, y’all.

And that’s really all I wanted to say today. Weddings full of friends are awesome, and I love them. The end.

(Also I was serious about GotGGO SEE IT NOW.)

 

that on-stage itch

This past Monday, I got the chance through an #InstaMeet to explore the the Lyric and Alabama theaters in downtown Birmingham. The Lyric, which hasn’t been operational in quite a while, is currently undergoing massive renovations to revive the landmark, so it was pretty cool to be able to wander around the various parts of the building and get a glimpse of the old grandeur of the place (albeit, a rather dusty glimpse).

The Alabama, on the other hand, has been thriving since 1927, hosting concerts, movies, ballets and more through the years. I had been to see a few movies there before, but Monday was the first time I was able to explore the on- and backstage areas.

As I walked onto the stage to gaze out upon the sea of plush seats, a lump rose in my throat and I felt a few tears roll down my cheeks. I’m pretty sure no one saw it, thankfully, but it did happen.

I miss performing, you guys. It was my lifeblood for so many years, basically from birth until high school graduation. I was in One-Act Play, the spring musical, church children’s musicals, the praise team…whatever I could get my hands on. But then came college, and it all just stopped. And now I’m really beginning to feel the effects of it.

It’s not that there weren’t any opportunities for me in college; in fact, there were plenty. And I participated in a few, but nothing that really gave me an audience. Step Sing was the closest I got, and it’s definitely one of the reasons I became such a Step Sing fanatic. I was always too nervous and scared to try out for even the smallest School of the Arts productions, so I just kind of let it slide and satisfied myself with being a regular audience member. There’s too much other stuff in my life going on, I told myself. I don’t need to add a rehearsal schedule on top of it.

But that itch to be on stage, to sing and act and perform, it never left me. And it’s been resurfacing more and more often in the year-ish since I graduated.

Hence, the tears on the stage of the Alabama.

There’s a very special brand of joy I feel when I’m performing, and I’m verging-on-desperate to recapture it.

All this to say, if anyone in the Birmingham area knows of any opportunities for amateur actors/singers or any opportunities to work with children’s theater, please do let me know. I’ll be incredibly grateful.

Thanks, guys.

 

time for another list blog

Considering I’ve been blogging once a week for over six months now, let’s all take a moment to be impressed that this is my first listy-post since March. *jazz hands* Yeah, I know. It’s a big deal.

To keep me from rambling forever, I’m giving myself prompts for each point. (You’re welcome.)

  • What I’m ReadingMoneyball, by Michael Lewis // I stole this from my brother’s bookshelf on a recent trip back to Georgia Home. The movie probably makes the cut as one of my favorites, so I figured it was time to give the book a try. Despite my significant lack of baseball fervor, it’s been very interesting and informative to read. It also seems to be continuing my July streak of reading non-fiction (just finished up Tina Fey’s Bossypants).
  • What I’m Watching: The West Wing // It’s taken much pestering from Cameron, but I’ve finally started on my WW journey. Let me just tell you, it is such a great change of pace after binging my way through Scandal. I’m only 8 episodes in, but I already know it’s making my Top 10 list. Also I love Charlie.
  • What I’m Eating: Produce & Chicken // Thanks to a Whole Foods gift card from my aunt (Thank you, Aunt Donna!), I currently have a wonderful supply of fruit and veggies in my fridge that are keeping my tummy very happy. And in a shocking turn of events, I actually bought meat at the store. Usually I avoid getting meat for price and laziness reasons, but I’ve got end my pasta streak somehow. So here’s to chicken!
  • What I’m Listening To: MTV’s Spotify playlist based on the soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy // Basically it’s an early 70s rock playlist, which has been a fun change of pace from the Sara Bareilles/Ingrid Michaelson that’s typically on rotation. And I’ve been excited about GOTG for so. many. months, so I’ll take whatever I can get to tide me over the next two weeks.
  • What I’m Learning: Spanish (again) // I’ve recently discovered Duolingo and have been using it to brush up on my Spanish skills. It’s really sad how much I’ve forgotten, but I’m still encouraged by how much I’ve been able to dig out from the recesses of my brain.
  • What I’m Loving: IKEA!!! // I had never been before this past weekend (when Suz and I took a few days to go and see Megan in her new place in Atlanta), and I’m now incredibly sad that I’ve been deprived of this home goods haven for so long. Only five picture frames and a candle made it into my bag, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want 86% of the entire story to somehow miraculously find its way into my home.
  • What I’m Also Loving: Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes” // Just listen to it. You’ll understand.
  • What I’m Wanting: A high-speed rail system across the U.S. // I just want one so badly, you guys. Flying is annoying and driving is miserable, but trains are fun. At least once I week I look at this proposed map and just wish it into existence. Alas…

Ah, list blogs. I adore you so.

Happy Friday, everyone!

in which jackie is on the world cup bandwagon

I am not a fan of soccer/fútbol. I know very little beyond the basics, and I probably couldn’t give you the names of five U.S. teams without the help of Google (just tried it, just totally failed). My heart belongs to good ol’ American football, and I doubt anything will ever take its place.

But what I have discovered quite recently is that I have a major love for the FIFA World Cup.

Yeah, yeah. I know you’re going to call me a bandwagon-er (is that even a world?), but I don’t care. I <3 the World Cup, and you all can just deal with it.

Okay, story time: In June 2010, I went to Madrid to finish up my Spanish credits. Also in June 2010, Spain’s national team was competing in the World Cup in South Africa (vuvuzelas, anyone?). This meant that, no matter where I went for my five weeks in beautiful España, I was guaranteed to see/hear an absolute gush of national pride for La Furia Roja.

It was pretty infectious, to say the least. Even though I cared next to nothing for the game, I found myself smiling and cheering and feeling a small swell pride for the country I called home for a month (my roommate and I even bought jerseys). How incredible to be in a fútbol-adoring country while their national team is being dominant on a international stage! It still makes me grin four years later.

I came home totally in love with the country of Spain, completely jealous of my classmates who were still there, and entirely desperate to hold on to the last bits of my Spanish experience. So I put on my jersey, grabbed my Principe cookies and Spanish Fanta (which is loads better than American Fanta), and watched those last Spain games of the 2010 World Cup like it was my job. I cheered so loudly when they beat the Netherlands in the finals that I’m pretty sure I scared my parents.

Viva España! Viva La Furia Roja!

Viva España! Viva La Furia Roja! And let’s pretend they didn’t royally screw up this year. *facepalm*

[Cut to 4 years later]

I didn’t set out to have the same passion for the World Cup this year as I did in 2010. I mean, I had only been interested in Spain’s games then, and nothing seemed to be drawing me to even watch the games this year.

Maybe it was the bandwagon effect, maybe it was friends wanting to mooch off our cable, or maybe it was just needing to understand my Twitter feed, but I have been completely sucked in to this year’s World Cup. At first it was just the U.S games, but now I find myself needing to keep up to date on all the games and scores (I can probably also blame my FOMO tendencies). I’ve been more attached to my SportsCenter app this month than I am even during college football season, and that’s saying something, you guys.
Bacon pancakes in defiance of Belgium. Unfortunately Belgium didn't get the memo.

Bacon pancakes in defiance of Belgium. Unfortunately Belgium didn’t get the memo.

Most of all, I’ve loved figuring out different aspects of the game that I didn’t realize before. I’ve loved getting to know the players and some of their stories (#TimHowardAmericanHero). I’ve loved researching past World Cups and how they’re formatted and how exactly the Group Round scoring system works. It’s just been really fun simply to watch and learn and enjoy the atmosphere of the sport and its fans, even if it’s mainly through Twitter.
I love the World Cup. I love how it brings people together in national pride and how passionate and dramatic people get. It’s incredible. And I’m so grateful there was room on the bandwagon for me.
(Also, I’m categorizing this in “football” because it still totally applies. Deal with it.)

 

new year’s resolution midterms

On January 1st, I made the bold decision to not only make my first-ever New Year’s Resolution, but to make seven of them.  I’m nothing if not optimistic, you guys.

So now that half the year has gone by (whattttttttt), I figured it’s time for my New Year’s Resolution Midterms. Here we go:

1) Read through the Bible in a year.
I’ve been doing a pretty solid job with this one all year. I have some weeks where I get behind a few days, but I manage to catch up pretty quickly. I’ve made it through 50% of the Bible at this point via my YouVersion chronological reading plan, and it’s really been a fascinating journey. It’s not easy reading 3-5 chapters of Numbers or 2 Kings in one sitting (it all starts to run together after a bit), but there’s still great wisdom to be found there. And the footnotes of my ESV have been stellar, let me tell you. If you’re going to do a yearlong Bible reading plan, I highly recommend footnotes. I’m in the minor prophets right now, but chronologically there are still a lot more OT books to hit before I progress into the Gospels. [A- for occasionally falling behind.]

2) Cook at least three meals a week.
Uh…this one never really worked out how I initially imagined. I have definitely been cooking (and baking, obviously), but the amount per week is ultimately dependent on what winds up on my schedule. Surprisingly enough, I wind up cooking more often at breakfast than for dinner. The biggest highlight: bacon pancakes, no question. I probably won’t be trying to get back on track with the three meals thing, instead focusing on cooking more new and different recipes, especially involving veggies. [for amount of meals, B+ for effort and deliciousness].

3) Read at least one new book per month.
So it seems I may have underestimated how much I would be reading. Those of you who follow this blog regularly will have noticed that, once I got back on the new book train, it did not slow down. I’ve hit a total of 15 new books for this year, and many more are waiting in the wings (or beside my computer, where Tina Fey’s Bossypants currently sits). Check out my bimonthly bookshelf recaps here, here, and here. [A++ because duh]

4) Cardio at least three times a week. Sit-ups, push-ups, etc. at least four times a week.
Yeahhhhh…no. I have been lazy. Sorry, guys. [F]

5) Get my life transferred to Birmingham.
Still working on this. I’ve been getting referrals for different doctors/dentists/etc., but I haven’t actually made appointments. It’s a work in progress. [Incomplete]

6) Blog at least once a week.
Sadly enough, this is the first time I’ve missed putting up a post within 7 days of the previous post. If you’re going by calendar weeks, though, I’m golden. I’ve been really impressed with myself on this one, and I hope y’all have enjoyed the content I’ve been putting out. The bookshelf updates are going to be a regular thing now, and I’m looking to add a few other regular features soon. [A]

7) Learn to knit (and at least one other new skill).
Thanks to that lovely snowstorm in late January, I can mark a bit ol’ CHECK for knitting! Much thanks to my friend/new roommate Suz for graciously teaching me the basics. I haven’t done much with it yet, but I at least know how, which is more than I could say in December. As for the second skill, I’m still deciding what it should be. I’m leaning toward the ukelele, but we’ll see. I still have six months to figure it out. [A for knitting, N/A for Skill #2]

I’m just gonna say it: WAY TO GO, ME. I’m not exactly known for sticking to personal goals long-term, so the fact that I haven’t completely bombed my resolutions (except for #4, but I’m hopefully going to turn that around soon) is great in my book.

But let’s see how the next six months go, shall we?

2014 bookshelf update: part 3

There’s something very right about marathon reading in the summer. I love Netflix as much as the next person (my re-watch of 30 Rock just wrapped up, and I’m currently devouring Scandal), but summer+books is one of Heaven’s most perfect match-ups.

I think I purchased more physical books in May/June than I have in a long time, and, thanks to an excellent yard sale Saturday and an unearthed Barnes & Noble gift card, I even pulled it off for fairly cheap. And from that new collection, I made my way through six new reads.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn

  • Dark Places is much shorter than Flynn’s Gone Girl (which I read back in January), but it packs just as much of a punch. In 1985, Libby Day’s mother and sisters were murdered in what became known nationwide as “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. Libby was seven, and testified that her older brother was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Libby has been contacted by members of the “Kill Club,” a group of conspiracy theorists obsessed with famous violent crimes, who want her to provide information to clear Ben’s name. The novel’s chapters alternate between 1985 and the book’s present as Libby begins to piece together the truth behind that hideous night. I know, it’s a lot to take in, but this book is completely worth your time. Flynn’s trademark plot twists serve the mystery well, and your nerves will be really and truly frayed long after you’ve closed the cover. A fantastic read if you’re looking for a good murder mystery. A note: just like with Gone GirlDark Places contains a fair bit of adult language. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp

  • Previously written about [here]. Please go read this book ASAP. It’s so incredibly good.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

  • Also written about previously, [here]. If you live in the Bham area, I’d love to lend this book to you. It’s a great summer vacation read.

The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman

  • “One of the most acclaimed books of the year, Tim Rachman’s debut novel follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome.” That back cover blurb was all it took for me to snatch this tome up from the yard sale bin in which I found it. I mean, $1 for a book that involves journalism, Europe, and the word ‘topsy-turvy?’ It was basically a perfect recipe for summertime book enjoyment (at least for me). It had one of the more interesting plot structures I’ve encountered, each chapter focusing on a different member of the news team (and a reader, in one case), with a small background information chapter about the founding of the newspaper in between. There wasn’t necessarily a larger plot throughout the novel; rather, it worked more as a collection of stories from people whose lives the newspaper affected. Definitely an interesting way to read a book. I’m not going to say everyone needs to read it, but I’d be happy to lend it to you if you think it might pique your interest.

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

  • FINALLY! I’ve been working on this book since March, and I’m so happy to finally be done. Yes, this is the book the world-famous musical is based on, but they are very different. I haven’t seen the musical (though I know the music by heart), but even I can tell you that only the bare essentials are the same between the two. That’s not a bad thing. They service two very different audiences, and they do their jobs well. The novel is darker, more complicated, and way more detailed. There were portions that I sped through, and others that bogged me down (hence the months it took me to finish). It focuses wholly on the Witch and her story, with Glinda and Fiyero working more as plot devices than the fleshed-out characters of the musical. I’m glad I read it, but I probably won’t make too much of an effort to read the sequels.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo [recommended by Kevin]

  • Yes, this a children’s book. But its a darn good children’s book, y’all. Written by the same author who gave us The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie (yes, the one you read in elementary school), it’s the story of a china rabbit named Edward who is owned by a little girl named Abilene until he is one day lost. On his journey back home, he encounters a host of interesting characters who teach him the value of being loved and loving in return. It’s a sweet story (though obviously very simple), and I’m very pleased to have read it.

I didn’t re-read anything the past two months, which is a bit of a departure from my norm, but my Netflix binges are probably to blame. Up next on the literary docket are Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (whose cover design is stellar, btw), so here’s looking at July! As always, suggestions are more than welcome, so send ‘em on!

Happy summer, everyone!

joyful june

I hate to bring out the “time flies when you’re having fun” adage, but I’m honestly in shock that June is almost over. Just…wow.

But guys, it has been such a fun month. And not in a “lots of big events” kind of way, but just in a “consistently surrounded by friends and happiness” kind of way. Which, of course, is the absolute best kind.

Since going to college, summer has always meant separation. Everyone goes off to home or summer employment, and some move away post-graduation. It’s been a standard theme for about five years now. So imagine my glee to finally have a summer filled with an abundance of my favorite people. Even if I’ve only gotten to visit with some for a short time, it’s still so wonderful to catch up face-to-face.

Everything right now just feels good. Not perfect by any means, but definitely good. I’m settling into my new apartment, I’ve got a fantastic group of friends around me, and I actually feel like I have some semblance of a plan for the next year-ish of my life (I mean, it’s not a really detailed plan, but any kind of plan at all is huge for me, let’s be honest). I’ve got a lot I still want to do and accomplish,  obviously, but right now I feel really content. And that’s a beautiful feeling right now, to have this joy in such a weird period of life. It’s just…really, really nice.

I thought I was going to end up on some long ramble about friendship and joy, but I think I’ve already gotten it all out. Summer’s been great, and I’m happy. There ya go.

Happy summer, everyone.

 

 

 

the mountains rise: a camp crestridge story

People who hear me talk about Camp Crestridge for Girls often think I was there much longer than I was. That I grew up attending as a camper and later came back as a staff member. But they happen to be wrong.

I spent exactly two summers in Ridgecrest, North Carolina: the summer of 2011 and the summer of 2012. In lieu of getting “real” summer jobs or journalism internships, I instead tramped around a portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains in shorts and t-shirts for three months at a time, often sticky with sweat, with either a video camera or DSLR in hand. I gave up cute sandals for dusty Chacos, air conditioning for the labored whir of Wal-Mart bedside fans, and peaceful meals for the squeals and screams of 250 girls (aged 7-16) grabbing for more chicken tenders and juice.

They were, to put it simply, the best two summers of my life.

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My first summer began plagued with doubts: I’m not good enough for this videography job. I’m not an camp/outdoorsy person at all. What the heck am I doing here? GET ME OFF THIS MOUNTAIN! I was convinced the camp had been crazy to hire me.

But God quickly ushered staffers and campers into my life who continually poured joy and affirmation over me. The videography job was not easy– stress and frustration were pretty constant friends– yet there was always someone there to lend a hug, a prayer, or that last hoarded package of peanut butter M&Ms. I can quite honestly say that I have never felt more blessed than I did through those relationships my first CC4G summer.

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I spent my junior year of college eagerly anticipating my return to the mountains, and God did not disappoint once I got there. Whereas my first summer was a lot about personal growth and ministry, the second was all about servanthood. While I didn’t get the facetime with the campers that the counselors get, I did my best to continue building relationships and pouring the same affirmation over the campers that was poured into me the year before.

That second summer also taught me how truly heartbreaking good-byes can be. How do you tell an 8-year-old that you won’t see her again next summer? That there’s very little chance you’ll ever see her again at all? I spent every Closing Day in tears as I hugged my precious girls good-bye.

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If there was a way for me to be working at camp again, I’d be up there in a half a heartbeat. The work of God is so plainly evident in the lives of the staff and campers there, and it would be such a joy to be a part of it again (Of course, I’m also itching for another Night of Chaos and a banana boat, so there’s that, too).

Camp Crestridge taught me so much about myself, about ministry, and about faith, and the seeds planted there continue to bear fruit in my life to this day. For that, I will be forever grateful. If you ever get the notion to work at a summer camp like Crestridge, I absolutely urge you to do it. You will never regret it.

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With my feet on the ground and my heart attuned,
I shall reach for the stars.

 

post-tonys youtube binge

Last night was the Tony Awards broadcast, a.k.a. my favorite night of television all year long. It’s the closest I’ll get to seeing a majority of the shows that come to Broadway, so I’m incredibly giddy by the time the Tonys roll around.

Of course, this also means that today I have slumped into my annual post-Tonys depression of “I have a great need to see all of these shows, but I live in Alabama/am poor.” Alas! The world is not a wish-granting factory (TFIOS reference, anyone? Anyone?).

So to get me through it, I’ve spent a buttload of today wearing out Spotify’s extensive catalog of cast soundtracks and re-watching some old favorite Tony performances. And since I needed to post something today, I figured I’d share a few of those performances with you. Enjoy!

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, “I’ve Decided to Marry You”

GGLAM won this year’s award for Best Musical, and, though I don’t really know too much about it, if it’s all like this performance it 100% deserved it. It’s also the soundtrack I’ve listened to the most today.

2013 Tonys Opening Performance

I’ve watched this probably no less than 25 times before, and it’s still one of my favorite things in life. NPH just knows how to work a room, y’all. Also, there’s an emotional moment about 3/4 of the way through that still makes me cry every time.

Wicked, “Defying Gravity”

This was my very first introduction to both the Tonys and Wicked, and I’ve been irrevocably captured by both ever since. I still haven’t managed to catch a performance of Wicked yet (utter tragedy, that is), but I’m holding out hope for a tour date near me soon.

The Book of Mormon, “Hello!”

This song (and the BOM soundtrack as a whole) is so friggin’ catchy, you guys. I dare you to try and get it out of your head within a day.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, “In My Own Little Corner/Impossible/Ten Minutes Ago”

The costume changes in this are just absolutely captivating. I have been known to rewind and watch that transformation five times over before continuing on. It’s just insanely awesome to watch.

Bonus: 2013 Tony Awards, “Kiss LA Goodbye”

It’s just too funny to not share. I mean, the sheer cheek of it!

Okay, yes, most of these are from the last couple of years, but that’s just where the chips fell with this post. Oh well, y’all can deal with it.

Happy theatre, everyone!