December 29, 2013

Winter Break

My first semester at university was pretty intense. I have heard from many experts that the first year is the hardest for any number of reasons, but I think it was intense for me due to the nature of the classes I took. Heavy gender study focusing on violence probably wasn’t the way to start, eh? My last final was on the 18th, and we, my roomies and I, have been trying to cram a whole lot of down-time into this two-week break. Here’s some of what we did:

Saw a couple of movies

If you haven’t seen Saving Mr. Banks, then stop reading this immediately and go see it. Yes, I mean it. It is that good! I am a non-stop Tom Hanks fan, and again, he does not disappoint. What a film! We also had the pleasure of enjoying Frozen with two of my favoritest people in the whole world, Laura and Patty. I was expecting to come out of the movie with a rippin’ feminist critique of the newest animation from Disney, but no dice. Except for a couple of minor feminist glitches, it was great. Gonna catch it again so the Mr. can see it, just for fun.

Read a few books

What in the world does one do when there isn’t several academic projects pressing for attention? Read, of course! While Lisa shares nuggets of wisdom from the latest book she is reading about codependency (which she says is excellent! and, here is her thorough review of another worthwhile book on the subject), Chuck is thoroughly enjoying the book I suggested he read by Steve Allen entitled Dumbth.  Allen writes brilliantly in this book about how society has been dumbed-down and lazy in critical thinking skills and everyday common sense. We are currently working through the 101 ways Allen suggests to exercise the grey matter – most excellent! We are also getting to know more about introversion and extroversion from another scholarly offering Chuck is tackling from author Dr. Susan Cain called Quiet. Cain lays out quite succinctly that society has forsaken introverts for the more gregarious extroverts, despite the fact that the population is not split evenly in this regard. She refers to current research and many examples to show the need for both types of personality in our society to achieve the ideal balance of extroverted go-getters and introverted thinkers.

As for me, I chose a personal narrative from one of the former members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, which is highly informative. Lauren Drain’s perspective from inside the family-cult is engaging, but sad. I appreciate her open honesty and innocence that many experience when becoming an active part of a religious community. In addition, I am also reading a more academic work entitled The Body Project, An Intimate History of American Girls. Now, this one is definitely worth the read. Author Joan Jacobs Brumberg explores how the changes of the female adolescent experience has changed in the last hundred years. I am really enjoying this choice - the writing and information are both excellent.

And, last but not least, we read together the excellent offering from Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection. We just love reading out loud in the car because if makes for some awesome discussions!

Bought a camera

I finally took the plunge into DSLR! Lisa got a new camera, as well, and we have been taking little forays out into the world to practice our photography skills! (And, Lisa is getting quite good, I might add!) The Nikon D3200 is a challenge for me, especially after being absolutely spoiled with my hybrid Nikon P510 (lovingly called “sportscar” due to its lovely red color). When the new camera gets too frustrating, I reach for sportscar and get the shot I am looking for! But, I am continuing to work with the new camera, and at the suggestion of my friend Erik, added a 1.8/50mm portrait (or normal) lens to my camera bag. So much to learn!


Went to the beach

We not only spent Thanksgiving/Hanukkah down in Ocean Shores, but the Christmas holiday, as well! It was lovely weather – crisp and winter-misty, but with the most beautiful sunsets anyone could ask for. No decorations, trees, gifts or grand feasts for us – just good things for the soul: breathing crisp, fresh ocean air into our lungs, walking on the beach, relaxing, and enjoying a beautiful condo with close friends.

beautiful sunset from Aberdeen

Thanksgiving/Hanukkah 2013 @ Ocean Shores

Indulged in a Lovesac

OK, if you have never seen these, you must! These are glorified bean bag chairs for grown-ups, and they are fabulous! Once it was fully ‘fluffed’, I have been sinking into it ever since! Naps, reading, more naps…you get the picture!

Slept in

Well, kinda. I’m not much of a sleeper-inner, but I did sleep until 9am one day! Just sleeping without waking worrying about the next paper that is due is refreshing.

Went to court

Right after we returned from the beach, the three of us got up uber-early to be in court to hear the gavel drop on Lisa’s divorce…finally! There was many unnecessary delays and too much unwarranted foot-dragging involved with this should-have-been-simple divorce, but well after a year of separation, it is complete. We determined that the ‘other’ interested parties were not present due to court fees due, but that is to be expected. Thankfully, the judge was merciful to Lisa even though the respondent’s so-called attorney made errors in the final paperwork. I am so very happy for her, and honestly, you can visibly see the weight lifted from her shoulders - she had to struggle through every (dirty) detail of this lengthy process. There are some things in life that just need to happen, regardless of what anyone, religious or otherwise, says. It is true that “G-d hates divorce,” but it also says that G-d also hates a man who deals treacherously with his wife. Yep, it really says that. More people should add that part when they parrot what G-d ‘hates’. [end of rant]

Geared up for January-term

Am I ready for my first J-term? Good question! 15-weeks of a 4-credit class crammed into 4 weeks – I can do it! I am ready – got my books – cleaned up my study-cubby from last semester’s chaos - and can’t wait to delve into Ancient Civilizations of the Near East. Sounds right up my alley!

Long-overdue visits with friends

In the remaining days of this break, I have lovely plans to visit my dear friend on the other side of the bridge (that would be the Narrows), and spend some much-needed phone time with my beloved Louisiana friend. All my friends are so important to me; I am grateful that they are willing to hold my hand and wait for me while I bash my head against the wall trying to get good marks in school.

Phew! That’s a lot of stuff! School starts back on the 2nd, two days before my 49th birthday. This winter break, as well as this last year, has been a whirlwind, but I have NEVER been happier in my life. Never.

Onward and upward!

Baruch HaShem.