Thursday, September 28, 2006

Happiness is...

I saw this on Brandy's blog and decided to use it. It's a happy list :)

1. An unexpected gift:
I’m gonna go with my small group that met for the first time last Sunday night. It’s made up of people that I see often, but rarely get to spend “fun” time with. I’m excited about the next few weeks we get to meet.

2. A kind word shared with me recently:
Someone emailed a note of encouragement to me this past Monday morning – it was really sincere and thoughtful (and from someone I respect a lot)…and was one of those things that came at a good time. Also, this article that someone shared with me yesterday:

3. Something that makes me stop and praise God:
The fall weather – I am in complete awe of God’s creation right now. Today at lunch the clouds were huge; I was having a hard time driving without getting distracted by how cool they looked.

4. Something I'm looking forward to:
Hearing how my friend Melissa’s day was. In fact, the suspense is killing me!
Also, I’m looking forward to chillaxin’ on my day off tomorrow…
I'm a big believer in having things to look forward to. Anticipation!

5. A particular part of me I'm pleased with:
I’ve been exercising/eating healthier lately – and that feels good. Even though I fight against it, I know that I generally function better with discipline in my life.

6. Something in my life that I wanted but never expected:
A best friend. I have been blessed with lots of good relationships in my life, but when I look back even to high school, I never expected that I could have friendship that could last a lifetime and be as close as the one I’ve been blessed with.

7. A place that moved/moves me:
Allerton Park in Monticello – I associate it with experiencing God in His creation and in solitude. I’m excited because our young adult group from church is taking a spiritual retreat day there quite soon.
Also, New York City. My funky friend Phil was in my office last week, and talking about memories of trips there made me miss New York a lot. Big cities in general have an energizing effect on me – but there’s something special about that one.

8. One thing/person that always makes me smile:
Babies – I just can’t help it.

9. Most recent "love note" from God:
Aside from the clouds today at lunch…and the fall weather…a couple songs that have been on repeat in my office today: “Maybe There’s a Loving God” – Sara Groves & “Glory” – Nichole Nordeman & Selah

Friday, September 22, 2006

Something unusual, something strange

I've always been someone who has been highly affected by music. This is a pretty obvious statement. But I was reminded recently that there is a connection between music and my emotions that is really strong...and beyond what I can predict or understand sometimes. (I am going to sound like a total girl in this post, but I have decided that I am okay with that.)

There are songs that affect me because of their lyrics, and there are songs that affect me because they remind me of a certain experience or time in my life. There is music that affects me because of its composition or because of the back-story of the person that wrote it. Most of the time, if there's a song that I like, I can generally describe why I like it.

But there are a handfull of songs/music that have an inexplicable connection to my emotions. It's usually immediate - and takes me by surprise. One strong example of a song that "gets me" almost every time I hear it is "Amie" by Damien Rice. The string part in particular (at the end)'s just...tragic and beautiful. (If you look on my page, it's the most-listened to song...I'm a glutton for emotion!)

I was reminded of this most recently because of a random Christmas song. I went with a group from church to Willow's Christmas service last year. We wanted to go - partly to be able to worship together (since most of us would be leading Christmas services) and partly because it's generally encouraging to go to a Willow service. In the middle of the service, they sang a song - and their dance team performed with it. And by the first chorus, I was a mess - weeping in my chair in the middle balcony. And it wasn't really because I had intellectually pondered the incarnation (although that is amazing). The combination of the music and the dance hit something inside me, and that was it. Well, I found the song this week - "Here With Us" by Joy Williams. And listening to it, I'm taken back to that moment when I was watching the dancers express "hallelujah" and sobbing.

There's a tendency to dismiss emotion because it can be unreliable and sometimes it does not coincide with logic/reason. Goodness knows I'm aware of the instability of pure emotion. But at the same time, I'm really grateful that God has given us things like music and dance - that express His transcendent beauty - and I'm grateful for those surprising moments when I'm overwhelmed by it all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

All Harry Potter - all the time

On my vacation just under a month ago I started reading the Harry Potter series. Tonight I should be able to finish book it's safe to say that the past month I've been reading HP in rather large amounts. I'm really enjoying it - having time available for leisurely reading is definitely a perk of not being in school.

However, I've been noticing some side effects of all this: random things remind me of Harry Potter things. Last night I described it as an inner-dialogue. It's probably a testimony to how creative J.K. Rowlings is - that she's created this entire world and characters so convincingly that I confuse it with reality. Fortunately, other people have confirmed similar experience with this type of Harry Potter Inner Dialogue. I'll call it HPID for short.

A few examples:
  • I accidentally cut myself.
    HPID: A phoenix tear would heal that.
  • Late at night flipping channels I see that the end of Sister Act is on, so I decide to watch it. Whoopi Goldberg is conducting the nuns in their performance for the pope. They cut to a shot of the Reverend Mother.
    HPID: What's Professor McGonagall doing in the church?
  • My roommate and her sister are watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - I joined them for a few moments. They're touring the factory, when one of the candies that they try explodes.
    HPID: Fred & George Weasley could have made that.
  • I can't find my co-worker anywhere.
    HPID: If I had a Marauder's Map, this would not be a problem.

Only time will tell if this inner dialogue will stay after I finish reading the books, but for now, this is how my mind is working. So I'm curious - if you've read the books - did you experience anything like this? Or am I a freak show?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Memories from 5 years ago

I got up early this morning to walk, and since it was pouring - I opted for my treadmill. I turned on the TV and decided I wanted to watch some of the Sept. 11th memorial coverage. One of the news channels was playing the Today show coverage from that day. Since I wasn't able to watch TV until the evening of 9/11/01, it was eerie to me to hear them talk about it, not knowing what was coming - speculating after the 1st plane hit, and then watch things go from bad to worse (as they see the 2nd plane hit, find out about the attack on the Pentagon, and then watch the towers fall). It reminded me of how unfathomable it all was at the time.

And then on my drive into work, a couple radio stations played some of those songs where they dub audio clips of people talking over the music. Usually I think those are borderline cheese, but today not so much.

I started to remember that day...and I wanted to put a little bit of it down here while I was thinking about it. I know everyone has their stories of where they were and how it affected them. This is mine.

I was teaching horn lessons at a private school in Champaign from 7:30am til almost 9:30am. I got in the car to drive back to campus; the radio was on the local Christian station, and they were playing some super peppy Point of Grace song. When the song was over, the DJs just started re-capping all the morning's events - and I was just shocked. I remember driving onto campus and thinking how weird it was that everything that I could see looked the same, but everything I was hearing was utterly foreign.

I'm still amazed they didn't cancel classes that day. They cancelled them on Wednesday, but not on September 11th itself. I had orchestral conducting at 10am. No one was paying any attention. Then master class at 11am. Kaz explained that people could reschedule their lessons for the afternoon, but since I was actually prepared I decided to go ahead. We ended up spending a lot of it talking about New York (since he had lived there for several years). He gave me a Manhattan geography lesson using his shoe.

I hadn't reflected on it in a while, but this morning - and really throughout the day I started to remember the rest of that week - and really the rest of that month. The many many emotions - and the feeling of uncertainty. It's one of the only times in life when I've experienced an event that was so communal - everyone was dealing with it. For the rest of the month (at least), every event was in light of that day. Even television stations played alternate programming (it's a funny example, but I remember MTV only showed a handful of videos over and over. That Incubus one where the guy does the pencil drawing was one of them...). Things eventually got more "normal" - but then again - not completely...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Come on, fall!

Fall is my absolute favorite season - and I think this past weekend, it arrived - at least in my mind. It's the one with my favorite memories and favorite traditions...and speaking of memories/traditions:

I went to a U of I game on Saturday - spontaneously - but it was super fun. First, it was a night game (no sun to contend with). Second, it was gorgeous weather. Third, I went with people who put up with my marching band neuroticism. Forth, we won. Fifth, there were a million fireworks. Being around the marching band made me reminisce about that year in my life - and some of the great memories. Tonight, I found pictures from my season (1999) - and a free audio download of one of my favorite Marching Illini songs ("Get it On").

The happiest part of my day today is that fall is officially here.