Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. To see, or not to see?

[Warning, some spoilers ahead!]

I will freely admit, I was very excited to see this movie. I love the first one and thought that Johnny Depp's performance in it was brilliant. I didn't care much for Orlando Bloom (he's much better as an elf, in my humble opinion), and I thought Keira Knightly did a good job. It was funny, dramatic...and Johnny Depp really did make the movie a spectacular hit.

When compared to the first, which could have easily stood alone as it's own movie, the second one leaves a lot to be desired. Even taken by itself, it lacked both coherence and a convincing plot. Some scenes, like the one on the island where the natives thought Jack Sparrow was a god, were extraneous, and were only put in there to show off Johnny Depp's character (which wasn't well done, not because of the actor, but because of the unbelievably poor script writing).

Then there's the weird thing with Will Turner and his father that seemed kind of...lame. So Will's father is a slave on board Davy Jones' ship. And it tears Will up inside. Boohoo.

All in all, they really tried hard to make it overly melodramatic, which didn't really serve any useful purpose. Additionally, they threw in gimmicks from the last movie (Hello, poppit!) that didn't work well at all in this movie. They definitely tried to capitalize on the character of Jack Sparrow, and that failed miserably because (1) he was written as such a weak character in this movie, and (2) because of that, the other characters were as weak, if not weaker.

I fear a Matrix syndrome coming on: first one is great, second one was awful, and the third one is the worst of all. I'm undecided right now as to whether or not I'll actually shell out another $8 to see the last one when it comes out. If I do, it will only be after a lot of time reading reviews.

Friday, July 28, 2006

1. What's the high temperature today where you are?

The high is projected to be 94. Currently, it is 88, but with the humidity, it feels like 95.

2. Favorite way(s) to beat the heat.

Ice cream! Other than that, I enjoy laying on my bed like a lump and watching TV, drinking lots and lots of water. My apartment doesn't have AC so....yeah.

3. "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." Evaluate this statement.

I think it's true. The humidity can turn an otherwise nice temperature (like 88) into a sweltering sauna (95).

4. Discuss one or more of the following: sauna, hot tub, sweat lodge, warm-stone massage.

Hot tubs are by far the best, especially in the winter. Hot tubs outside are the greatest...and the most fun is getting out of the hot tub, rolling around in the snow, then getting back in the hot tub again. If you've never tried it, you must give it a chance!

5. Hottest you've ever been in your life

I don't think I've ever encountered heat like this on a consistent basis ever before in my life. So...this summer for me!

Non-temperature related bonus: In your opinion... who's hot?

The honest truth? Patrick Stewart. Hands down!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I did real, honest-to-goodness yoga this morning. Before today, I've had only minimal exposure to this discipline; as part of my chant class during my senior year of college, we did a couple of weeks of yoga while we studied Hindu chant. I enjoyed it back then, even though half the time I was redoing the poses because I would lose my balance. I remembered some of the poses, and the instructor this morning said I did really well. I'd really love to do this more because it's a great way to destress and get ready for the day. I think I'll start it once the school year starts, because more people are in the class (which makes the price each individual person has to pay go down).

I was actually surprised how relaxing it is, given the fact that one is contorted into all sorts of near-impossible positions. The one that gives me the most problems is Downward Facing Dog, which is unfortunate because it is used so often. Those hamstrings get pretty tight, and I definitely can't get my heals to stay flat on the floor. Heck, normally, it's tough for me to touch my toes, I'm that unflexible. Something to work toward, I suppose.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I accompanied my roommate to Target today, and as we were cutting through the sleepweare/intimates section, I saw a young girl of no more than 12 with her mother. This girl pointed at this purple and black laced strapless bra with a matching thong and said, "Look at this! Isn't this cute?"

Is it just me, or is this just plain wrong?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I apologize for the long time between posts, but while I was home, there wasn't much time...and half the time, I couldn't connect to the internet with my computer. If it wasn't my computer, it was the network at home being weird. But since I'm back in New Jersey (even though if I move this laptop I don't know how long it will be before I can connect to the internet again), I have a more reliable connection.

Home was nice. :-) It was good to see my grandmother, though it was a bit difficult finding things to keep her occupied due to her limited mobility. She can still walk, but not very much, and she needs to use a cane when going most places. I drove her up to Colby so she could see where I and my brothers went/go to college, and on the way down we found this cross-stitch store that she absolutely fell in love with. Pheasant Run Needlecrafts. It's a great little store (click to view a web commercial), and I ended up purchasing (well, she bought them for me) two different patterns.

This, however, is what I am currently working on, and I expect that it will take me the better part of the year to finish it. I hope to get far along by the end of the summer, because once the school year starts, all bets are off.

She also taught me to make strawberry jam! We made 15 jars of it, from strawberries that my dad had picked. I took back 4 jars with me.

My other grandmother, who lives closer by, came over a couple of times, and it was the funniest thing to watch the two of them talk together. They're both hard of hearing, so they'd talk, and one would ask a question and the other would switch the subject because she didn't hear the question, or they'd cut each other off without knowing what they were doing. But then again, all they'd talk about were their medical problems and the prescriptions they were taking.

Anyhow, my grandmother said she had the best visit with us. So all in all, it was a success, and it was good to see her.

But now I am back, and I have a meeting with the PPRC tonight! I'm a bit nervous, but since I'm already going there, this is more for them to have the opportunity to meet me and get to know me a bit better, and start ironing out the details of my supervised ministry.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I apologize for the brief hiatus. My computer's internet connection has been a bit wacky of late. I have the cord connected to the port, and sometimes it wants to say it's there, and sometimes not....it's really strange.

Anywho, I'm leaving today for a week at home! Yay!

Well, after the meeting about supervised ministry, that is. I think I've finally come to a decision! Another yay!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Short People: I hope my mother doesn't get offended here...but she's really not that short. She's the shortest in my immediate family (but then again, I'm next in line...and I'm 5' 6".) I remember thinking that it was such a big deal when I finally passed her in height, but when my siblings all did the same thing, I understood to some degree what she must have been feeling. :-P But I love my mom. She may be short in height, and I may be taller than her, but I will always look up to her.

Short Hops: What my tennis balls do before they hit the net. :-P Seriously, I just realized how short a walk it is to McCool's, one of the best ice cream places in Madison. I've already been there twice this summer, and already it's starting to become a temptation....they have the best blend-in frozen yogurt.

Short Stories: I'm not sure. I've never been much of a short story reader, but I know that my sister writes some really beautiful ones. There was a (short!) time in my life when I enjoyed writing short stories: mostly fanfics based off of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I even tried my hand at some other creative stories. From time to time, I've regretted giving up writing like that. I really enjoyed it, even if I wasn't very good.

Short Lists: The food in my refridgerator. It has bread, milk, cheese, meat, celery, and radishes. And eggs. Oh, and some caviar (from Christmas - thank goodness caviar doesn't go bad!)

Short Stops: I was going to make some baseball reference, but I won't do so. Short stops at the local used bookstores quickly turn into long ones if I'm not careful!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I don't know why, but this whole evening I've had the lyrics to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" running through my head.

I'll be the first to admit it: it's a fun song. It's catchy, upbeat, and (from what I understand) the favorite at karaoke. However, just think of what this song reveals about the hopes, dreams, and stereotypes of young women. The verse that really bothers me is the second one:

The phone rings in the middle of the night,
My father yells "What you gonna do with your life?"
Oh, daddy, dear, you know you're still number one,
But girls, they wanna have fu-un.

I remember first hearing this song (at least a version thereof) on Sesame Street, where young puppets danced around...having fun. Just plain ol' fun. Kids don't think anything of it. Having fun means playing outdoors, racing toy cars, playing with dolls or blocks. Nothing "sketchy" about it.

Fastforward a few years, and there's a drastic shift in meaning. "Fun" begins to be associated with the opposite sex. And this song reinforces this by equating "fun" with "staying out all night and being with boys." And, according to this song, this is all that girls really want.

This is a value that is screamed to young girls through the media culture. Especially MTV, with the dating shows that say, "Hi, I'm Rachel, I love shopping and talking on my phone and flirting with hot guys" as if there was nothing more to the female existence. It's portrayed through television commercials that show women all over guys with six-packs. It's in magazines that say, "10 Sizzling Tricks to Make Him Burn for You." Females aren't taught to want anything more out of life other than a guy that looks good.

Oh, wait. Yes they are. They're taught that motherhood is the other option. Or that if they're going to be a career woman, they have to be good-looking and wear sexy business suits. But really...girls don't want these things, as if they had no value at all. We just want to have fun. That's all we really want. To heck with careers or family or meaningful relationships. Women really don't want to be their own persons, to be beautiful on the inside, or to walk in the sunlight of independence. We don't care for learning new things or for bettering ourselves. After all, we just want to have fun.

And yet, something in this song touches women everywhere, some rather profoundly. It's a song with a terrible, awful, message. But I think it's true that we want to have fun. We want to be like those puppets on Sesame Street, innocently playing and...having fun. No pressures, no expectations, no...boys, at least of the sort that has only one thing on their minds. We want that freedom that seems to happen only in childhood. Where having fun is just that, and not some sort of double entendre.

The really difficult part of it is: we need to free ourselves.

...I now have three options for supervised ministry. Yes, that's right. Three options.

The third one came rather unexpectedly after Ben's meeting with his pastor for supervised ministry. He'll be in Spotswood/Monroe Township; Spotswood is birthing a new church in Monroe Township and the pastor there is a big dreamer.

I would love to be a part of a new church start, especially where the pastor there is planning on badgering Adam Hamilton (the pastor of the largest UMC in the country, membership of 12,000) in hopes of becoming a satellite campus. The only problem is that...Ben is there.

For those of you new to my blog, Ben is my boyfriend. We've known each other since freshman year of college and will have been dating for a year as of August 1st. He also goes to Drew and just finished his first year as well. Ben is also more ministerially formed than I am; that is, he's had longer to live with his calling and more of a chance to participate in church life looking through the lens of his call.

I, on the other hand, have not had as much of an opportunity to do so. So if I were to look into this church, I'd want to make sure that (a) no one compares the two of us, and (b) I have a place free to do my own thing totally separate and apart from Ben. 100% apart. No stepping on each others' toes allowed!

This might be possible, though I think it would be touch to coordinate. There are aspects of church life that Ben's not touching (like youth), and he's going to be spending more time at the new church start rather than at the Spotswood church. I'm going to give the pastor a call to see what can happen.

All that being said, if Spotswood wasn't an option, I'm now leaning more towards Westwood. The urban/multicultural setting is something I can do my third year if I feel like that's a piece of my education that I really need. Right now, I think I need something a bit more well-rounded. I've already participated in many aspects of church life growing up, but haven't really had the chance to pull it all together in light of my call. Unfortunately, the dean in charge of this supervised ministry program is out of the office, and when she gets back I will be on my way to Maine, unless I can delay my return home for one more day so I can meet with her (which might be the smart thing to do).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ok. After visiting Trenton, I think I'm more confused than I was before.

First of all, I got lost getting there due to faulty directions. I ended up stopping at a CVS to help orient myself and was told by an elderly gentleman, "Oh, you be careful there. That's a bad neighborhood." Driving through there I didn't think it was too bad. Not the type of place you want to get caught in after dark, but it was near the state building in a rather commercial area. St. Paul's is further up the street in a more residential area.

I arrived 23 minutes late, just in time to hear the sermon. I was very thankful that I wasn't there in any official capacity; I think I would die of embarassment otherwise. The people there were nice, and during the passing of the peace the pastor came up to me and asked if I would mind being introduced. I told him to go ahead, and he mentioned that I was there checking them out. After the service, I had the opportunity to talk to a few people. From what I understand, there were many families that were away that week, but there was a new Liberian family in attendance. Apparently, there is a very strong Liberian presence in Trenton.

I didn't get to see much of that building, but I did get to see a bit of St. Paul's, which also hosts the offices for the district. After that, I went to the pastor's house for lunch and had the opportunity to talk with him and his wife.

If I went to Trenton, I would be the one to develop a children's ministry. Rev. Johnson talked about how there's a gang problem in Trenton, but not one that's so severe as to warrant a ministry targeting gangs. His idea, rather, is on prevention -- focusing on 8 - 11 or 12 year olds. I will admit, the opportunity to get really hands on in these churches is appealing. However, my biggest concern is the distance.

It takes an hour and twenty minutes to get from Trenton to Madison with minimal amounts of traffic. The seminarian who was there before warned me that it can take anywhere from an hour and fifteen to an hour and forty-five. Distance-wise, the trip is sixty miles one way. Two trips per week would be 240 miles and over 5 hours of driving. The idea is to be there for worship on Sunday (of course) but also have a full meeting of the team once per week.

My vision would be to really be able to get involved in the community I was placed in for supervised ministry, but I'm not sure how this is going to be possible if I have to travel so far. Westwood is almost as bad, but it's only 45 minutes away. Westwood has its advantages as well, like being a part of a growing congregation that has life and vitality.

I know that either place has its positive aspects and its drawbacks, and that either setting would be a great experience. Both seminarians who were there in these churches (ironically, they were married to each other) both had wonderful experiences and spoke very highly of the pastors they worked with. I think it's time for me to sit down and have a conversation with Dean Samuel.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Today, I've decided to visit First UMC in Trenton, NJ in order to help my discernment process over where I want to do my supervised ministry next year. I visited Westwood a couple of weeks ago, and so now it's Trenton's turn. To be completely honest, I'm leaning more towards Trenton right now: about 85-90%.

Right now, I think a lot of my resistance is because I'm a bit frightened of stepping out of my comfort zone. Trenton is an urban area of about 70,000 people, which is actually only 6,000 more than the city of Portland, ME (not including the Greater Portland Area, which has about 230,000 people). There are five United Methodist Churches within the city itself, and all are on the decline. First UMC is actually part of a two-point charge with St. Paul's UMC which is just a short walk away. Both are near the State house, from what Rev. Johnson told me. It'll be a cross-cultural experience; the two populations are largely African-American, which is pretty cool. However, the pastor said that he feels like the two congregations are going to be better served in the future by a person of color as a pastor, and they'd also prefer a person of color to join the team. Ebenezer, another student from Drew, is going to be there as well for his supervised ministry -- he's from Africa (I think -- at least, he's originally from there) -- but I don't know how it's going to be working with another student from Drew. I don't think it'll be too bad though, because we'd be doing different things, and only coming together as a team for support during weekly meetings.

We'll see how this morning's worship service goes!