Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mission Accomplished.

Do you all remember George W.'s speech back in 2003 when he flew in (on?) to the USS Abraham Lincoln in his jazzy flight suit and declared in front of God and hopeful, happy Americans everywhere that the mission was accomplished? [By mission he was referring to the end of major combat operations in Iraq for those of you who were busy watching Sponge Bob Squarepants with your roommate after a hard day at the office as a professional working girl. Not that I would know anything about that.] And then do you all remember how we hopeful, happy Americans woke up the next day and the day after that and the day after that and to our not-privvy-to-classified-information-eyes it didn't really seem that all that much had actually changed? Well, that's kind of how I feel about finishing up grad school. As of last Friday at 2:30 in the afternoon, my purpose and reason for moving my home, job, and life to Athens a mere 3.5 years ago was accomplished. Don't get me wrong...I'm ELATED to be done for once and for all. In fact, I don't really think it has actually dawned on me yet that I'm done. Perhaps in January when a new semester begins and I don't have that constant nagging guilt of "I really should be doing school work instead of watching a Law & Order: SVU marathon on a Sunday afternoon." hanging over my head. I mean, seriously...Law & Order: SVU??? Never in my life did I watch that show until I resorted to scraping the bottom of the procrastination tactics barrel during my last semester.

On Friday night, I happened to run into my advisor and her husband at dinner. We were talking and he asked me what I was going to do now. My response: Well, I'm going to work next Monday. To the outside observer, it may appear that nothing really will change all that much. Unless of course you consider the absence of my whining about having school work to do. And admittedly during these first few post-graduate school graduation days as the realization of being done has begun to set it, I have been a little bit frustrated because I met this goal/reached this milestone/accomplished my mission only to be greeted with the same old apartment and the same old job and the same old salary when I get back into town after Christmas. Clarification: I am absolutely grateful for the security that accompanies those "same old things".

Tonight however, I began to think a little beyond the surface. While my routine that has been essentially the same for the last 3.5 years will continue to be that way for at least the foreseeable future, so much has changed in my life. In fact, I have experienced more "life-changing" events in the years that I was in grad school than all of my other years combined. Through these events, I have come to believe that maybe it's not even the actual event but my response to the event that determines how I grow (or wilt) as a person. As I reach the completion of another level of higher education, never in my life have I been more aware of my need for sheer and utter dependence upon a higher power. [And my higher power has a pretty big event coming up on the 25th of this month in case you're wondering if I'm referring to a specific or just any higher power here.] I am at the point in my life when I have never been more formally educated, yet the knowledge that there are certain things in life that are absolutely beyond my control is what is most forefront in my mind. The most important lessons that I have learned while in grad school did not take place in a classroom. Ironically though, were it not for the classroom lectures and material on adult learning that is a component of the program's curriculum, I don't know if my response to and reflection on the events in my life would have been the same. The timing of all of these things in my life lining up quite nicely [now that I can look back on them all and see it] is a great reminder that I am not responsible for the day-to-day operations of Planet Earth despite my best efforts in trying to shoulder that responsibility.

Does everyone here see the parallel that I'm making with my George W. reference and my graduation? If I need to I'm sure that I can have Dubya come in as a guest blogger to make the point crystal clear. Obviously I'm tired because I typically try not to reference politicians or their politics here on the ol' blog. Here's my point. [I think. There's a chance that I'll reread this tomorrow and none it will really be all that coherent.] We may reach what we think is the end of something only to realize that it's actually the beginning. I'm so pumped about my beginning that I'm giving my three readers out there a virtual fist bump.

If it weren't way past my bedtime, I would pretty this post up with some pictures of the glorious graduation day of which I write. Instead I'm including this hyperlink with photo documentation that it really did happen. I'm sure I'll write again when the actual diploma arrives. Maybe that's when I'll really believe that I'm done.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The time Alexander Graham Bell rolled over in his grave.

There is a sociological model known as the technology adoption lifecycle. For those of you who have already checked out for Christmas vacation, please don't check out from this post because I promise that the educational value parallels the nutritional value of circus peanuts. Anywho...the model is based on the premise that we all fall somewhere within the spectrum of the technology adoption lifecycle which ranges from innovators to early adopters to early majority to late majority and finally, the laggards. If asked, I would declare that I fit in quite comfortably between the early majority and late majority. Perhaps the fact that I just got DVR earlier this year would lead you to believe otherwise. Or if you have ever attempted to send me an image via text message and I never acknowledge it [Because! My! Phone! Won't! Let! Me!], I suspect that you roll your eyes and discuss amongst your cool tech savvy friends "this poor girl you know" who still has a flip phone that only has the functions of phone calls and standard text messaging. No more, my friends. No. More.

Before we get all oogly-eyed over [the picture on the box of] the shiny new phone, can we please just make a few observations about the old phone? Or more specifically the charger. I mean, seriously...aren't the exposed wires somehow some sort of fire hazard? And just last night the silver trim that borders the keypad on the inside that you see propped up there on the phone like it's being sold on QVC fell off while I was in the middle of a phone conversation. Which really means that it stuck to the side of my face because the 4 year old glue that finally came loose from the phone still adheres nicely to skin. It's been a good phone. It's even been with me through and longer than two boyfriends. We won't compare its reliability and consistency with theirs. Oh...I kid, I kid!

Now I realize that me with this new phone is akin to giving a 16 year-old boy the keys to a Corvette. Lack of experience + Lots of power = Danger Zone. That's why I plan to ease into using a phone that is smarter than me much like I enter a swimming pool: test the waters before diving right in. I'll say there's a pretty great chance that I may even take it out of the box before the end of the day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Soundtrack: My Favorite Christmas Song Edition

O Holy Night
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
First a little history about the song. According to my dear friends at Wikipedia... O Holy Night is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chr├ętiens" (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau. [Don't say I've never taught you anything, blogosphere.] In copying and pasting the words of the song, I left out the 2nd stanza. Not that the second stanza isn't important, I just would like to focus on the first and third today. I hope you spend some time during all of the craziness that accompanies the Christmas season as we know it in a quiet spot and reflect over these lyrics and what they truly mean.
I have multiple favorite versions of this song. Josh Groban? Check. Celine Dion? Check. Martina McBride? Check. Kelly Clarkson? Check. Celtic Woman? Check. [Even though I'm not sure why they are wearing their Easter best in this particular performance.] Eric Cartman? Just seeing if you people are paying attention. Andrea Bocelli & his friend, David Foster? You got it.
What's your favorite Christmas song of all time?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Soundtrack: The 12 Songs of Christmas Edition.

Before I dive any deeper into today's musical feature, let me just go ahead and put it out there that The Twelve Days of Christmas will not be one of today's songs. This may come as a disappointment for you Christmas carol traditionalists who are reading along at home. My apologies. Might I recommend that you create your own list and then share it with the group. And by group, I mean my three regular readers. Let's get this party started, right?

Little Drummer Boy by MercyMe. Alright so I know that this song has a good meaning. I know that the dear Lord baby Jesus wants us to use the gifts and talents that he has given us in order to turn them back in praise and glory for him. But. Each and every time I hear this song, I get so cracked up at the thought of the ox and lamb keeping time. I mean, really? Barn animals keeping time? Let's be a little realistic please. In my mind, the ox and lamb are both standing together in the corner, wearing sunglasses, smoking cigars (um, hello...a baby was just born, let's celebrate!), and snapping their fingers and stomping their hooves.

Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby. This is the song I have been singing in the mornings when I'm out walking my dog in the arctic temps. Mind over matter, people.

Mary Did You Know? by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd. Love can build a bridge and because it can, I'm convinced you all will still be my friend even though this particular version of the song is my favorite one. The song in general though is easily one of my favorites ever. While we're on the subject of song titles in the form of a question...

What Child is This? by Sarah McLachlan. Do yourself a favor and please obtain your own personal copy of Sarah's Wintersong cd. It's a rare one that I will listen to all the way through without skipping ahead. In fact, it's so good that songs from it made my list twice this week.

River by Sarah McLachlan. Joni Mitchell actually sang this song first but ol' Sarah does a great cover. Notice how I seem to be on a first name basis with Sarah? I'm acting as if there is a Christmas card from her waiting for me at home in my mailbox. Yes, as a matter of fact this may be the one of the most depressing songs ever. There's something about melancholy that just feels so good though, isn't there?

Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon. Did you know that it was 30 years ago today when John Lennon was murdered? Did you know that I invited Debbie Downer to be a guest blogger today?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Jackson 5. I hope Santa Claus has room in his sleigh for a house with a fenced-in backyard this year because I am already tired of walking my dog in the cold and it's only been cold for 3 days. I suspect that there's more room for a nice gloves, scarf, and hat combo. I also suspect that some of you out there prefer Bruce's version of this song.

In honor of the 8th crazy night of Hanukkah (Chanukah?), The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler. Why haven't I heard this song at all this season? Could it be because I've had my head stuck in the sand trying to finish school? Surely not.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I couldn't really find a version of this song that I like all that well online. This one by Sufjan Stevens is alright...even though I much prefer a big booming baritone voice versus a ukulele being the musical accompaniment to his not so big and booming bariton voice. It's really the lyrics that get me though and those are the same in all versions.

Christmas Song by Dave Matthews Band. Confession: I do listen to this song before Thanksgiving. It's just that good.

Merry Christmas from the Family by Robert Earl Keen. How come all commercials and Norman Rockwell paintings depict perfect families enjoying perfect dinners on a perfect winter day? I think that REK speaks a little more realistically of most families at Christmas gatherings. Except for mine, of course. I come from a long line of sophistication and class and we served as inspiration for most of Rockwell's work.

Here With Us by Joy Williams. I heard this song for the first time ever on my way to work Monday morning. More than anything in this world I am so thankful to know that the little baby sent by God long, long ago is here with us even today. And tomorrow. And forever.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Whatever happened to bobbleheads on dashboards?

I'm glad to see that the Hallway of Heads scene in Return to Oz seemingly left a more positive impression with this person than it did with me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Soundtrack: It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas Edition.

Anybody out there love dessert? Think about your most favorite dessert in the whole wide world. Mine happens to be red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Love. It. The last time I had it though was in February. If it was something that I ate frequently it would kind of lose its appeal. Kind of like spaghetti. It's good, but I get sick and tired of it after having it for the 4th meal in a row. In fact, after a couple of days with leftover spaghetti, I wish that spaghetti would buy a one-way ticket to Italy and never bother to renew its passport. What does my ramble about food have to do with music? Everything. My feelings about Christmas music are very similar to my feelings about spaghetti. There is such thing as too much of a good thing. In fact, I have one strict commandment when it comes to Christmas music: Thou shalt not play Christmas music in my presence before Thanksgiving. Have I ever mentioned my uncle, Ebenezer Scrooge? I kid, I kid. In the spirit of Christmas though, I would like to dedicate my soundtrack segments between now and December 25th to some of my favorite music that I spin at my house for about 30 days each year. 'Tis the season!

Christmas in Hollis by Run D.M.C. What? You didn't really think I was going to start with Jingle Bells did you? Not when Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens!

Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson. Did anyone happen to see Willie [back] in the headlines this week? Talk about same song, 99th verse. Kind of makes me wonder if he's singing about wrapping paper or rolling papers in this song though.

Last Christmas by Wham! It really wouldn't be Christmas without a little George Michael now would it? Don't answer that question.

Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. TSO is playing in Atlanta in mid-December. Dear Santa, I've been a good girl this year. If you are out there reading, I would really like to see their show. Love, HP

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah McLachlan. I know, I know. The whole thing sounds a little unnatural but it's a good combo so go with it. After a couple of listens there's a pretty great chance that if you had a million dollars, you would pay these guys to come play your Christmas party.

Go Tell It on the Mountain by Little Big Town. Hmmm. It seems that Little Big Town performed this on that television special earlier this week. The aforementioned special was not my inspiration for featuring it today though. It just so happens that this song is on HP's Holiday Hits: Volume II that I was listening to this morning on the way into work.

Children Go Where I Send Thee by Natalie Merchant. When I was a little girl, I had the Cabbage Patch Kids Christmas record. It was my favorite Christmas record even above Gene Autry's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Elvis's "Blue Christmas" records. This song was on that record, and I might have worn that part of the record out listening to it so much. I happen to love the grown up Natalie Merchant version now that I'm a big girl. Recognize the guest voices in her version?

Do You Hear What I Hear by Whitney Houston. She sings this one with a voice as big as the sea.

Mistletoe by Colbie Caillat. According to Colbie it's not Christmas if the snow doesn't fall. Well, that certainly saves me a lot of shopping.

Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton. Dolly is clearly in an emotional state when she sings this song. Fortunately she realizes the perils of maybe getting drunk on apple wine and decides to maybe learn to sew instead. I hope she lets the apple wine hangover wear off first though or else she's likely to prick her finger with a sewing needle. My wish is that you all have a hard candy Christmas. Minus the toothaches and apple wine hangovers.

And now for my little Christmas gift to myself [and you all]: a non-Christmas bonus track. This week I would like to share Little Miss by Sugarland. I just love it when songs are written especially for me.