Monday, June 30, 2008

The Great Western American Roadtrip

Often, I find myself at work on a slow day, sitting in my windowless office, it's been three hours, and not a soul has come by to break the monotony . . . and I begin to dream of getting the heck outta here! During such days, I'll just start looking up plane tickets, making routes with google maps, looking up hostels, couchsurfing, etc, to plan some dream trip. This was how my proposed excursion to Denver and Boulder started. I stumbled upon some cheaper-than I realized plane tickets, and started dreaming and scheming. Sadly, the Fourth of July weekend excursion to Denver never materialized, mainly because I couldn't find anyone to join me. But no matter. I am going to Boston in August, and I've had to pay a couple of deposits on a new house that I'm moving into, so it's probably best that I saved my money for another time.

Today, my latest travel scheme I've cooked up is probably my most ambitious to date. For the past couple of years, I've wanted to travel alone Highway 1 along the west coast, and my cousins and another friend took separate trips from California back to Texas, stopping at Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon along the way. Then Anton is about to go to Glacier National Park in Montana. I don't know if you're realized, but add those three routes together, and you have . . .

The Great Western American Roadtrip!!!

With the help of google maps, I've made an itinerary:

5318 Miles – 3 days, 12 hours of driving

Day 1: Keller to Santa Fe, NM 9 hr, 46 min

Day 2: Santa Fe

Day 3: Santa Fe, NM to Denver, CO 5 hrs, 46 mins

Day 4: Boulder

Day 5: Denver, CO to Yellowstone National Park 9 hrs, 34 mins

Day 6-8: Yellowstone

Day 9: Yellowstone to Glacier National Park 7 hrs, 49 mins

Day 10-12: Glacier National Park

Day 13: Glacier National Park to Seattle, WA 9 hrs, 38 mins

Day 14: Seattle

Day 15: Seattle, WA to Portland, OR 2 hrs, 50 mins

Day 16: Portland, OR to San Fran, CA 9 hrs, 53 mins

Day 17-18: San Francisco

Day 19: San Fran to Las Vegas, NV 8 hrs, 45 mins

Day 20: Las Vegas

Day 21: Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, AZ 4 hrs, 32 mins

Day 22: Grand Canyon, AZ to Albuquerque, NM 5 hrs, 59 mins

Day 23: Albuquerque and surrounding area

Day 24: Albuquerque, NM to Roswell, NM 3 hrs, 23 mins

Day 25: Home to Keller, 7 hrs, 43 mins

11 States. 9 Cities. 3 State Parks. Are your bags packed yet?

With the exception of Santa Fe, San Francisco, and Colorado, I haven't been to most of these places, and all of them are places that I'd looooove to see.

What's to consider?

Time. I could embark on this adventure as early as July 2009, or I might have to wait until the summer of 2011 or 2012, either right before or right after going on internship. Taking a month off isn't an easy task, but as long as I pick a transitional time, I could manage it.

Money. Gas will be a big cost. Estimating 30 miles per gallon on the highway in my new Camry at $4 a gallon, that comes out to a little over $700. It will probably be more with excursions around the areas we're going, and gas prices will probably continue to rise. But split at least two ways, that comes out to $350-500 per person. Lodging will be the next biggest cost. 25 nights aint cheap, but we'd do it as cheap as possible - couchsurfing, hostels, camping, and cheap, nasty motels. Depending on our options, my estimate is about $500-$1000 per person. Food can be done cheaply, buying groceries most of the time, and occasionally eating out good meals, so for that I estimate up to $300. Then there are entrance fees to parks and museums, laundry money, toll roads, parking costs, gambling in Vegas, who knows. I'd have to do some research to figure out those costs. But on the high end, I'm looking at about $2000 per person, but potentially less. For a trip this ambitious, that sounds pretty reasonable.

Driving. Can be exhausting. 7 days of heavy driving (8+ hours) and 5 days of light driving (<6 hours)

Who? Would be up for taking this trip with me and able to take the time to do it? Time will be the biggest issue. A fellow student, or someone just finishing school, or someone transitioning jobs, or someone who works for a school district. Finding someone to go with will determine when and if I take this trip. Besides the obvious perks of having someone to travel with, I really do need someone share the driving, and to make this safe.

So, it'd be awesome if this could happen. But really, who knows? If I see all of these places eventually in my lifetime (or before 2030 in the case of Glacier National Park in Montana), I'll be happy. If I could go to all of these places in one amazing month, I'll be ecstatic!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

green, living, and growing

It must be genetic. Like my cousin, my thumbs aren't green either. My roommate is gone for the summer, and at the very last minute she asked, "Hey, can you water my ivy? It just needs it every two weeks." This seemed like a really simple request, I mean, of course your roommate is responsible enough to water one plant every two weeks, right? Poor little ivy went an entire month without water. I noticed this about a week ago. This little guy by the sink was looking very droopy and brown, and I realized that it had been at least a month. How ironic, it sits right by the sink, all day long, watching me rinse my dishes, fill up my Brita pitcher, etc, but never receiving any of this overly abundant water to quench its own thirst. I think it's starting to recover. A few of the leaves on the ends of it look green, which might be new growth, who knows. Ivies are supposed to be hardy little plants, so I think it'll make it.

I think I'm starting to recover too, and I feel like there are parts of me that are becoming more green and coming back to life again. I finally feel like I can breath easy and receive water for my thirst. This past week has been good for me. This weekend is good too. At least for the present, I'm letting go of worrying about making friends, finding things to do, running around, trying to outrun my loneliness. You can't outrun loneliness, by the way. Or at least I can't. I'm not that fast of a runner. And the running just gets exhausting. So for the time being, I've stopped. And you know what? When you stop running from loneliness, sometimes it stops chasing you. Instead of trying to find people to spend my Friday and Saturday evenings with this weekend, only to be disappointed when someone's busy or when my ex shows up, I'm resting. I'm working on my papers due next week, hanging out at coffee shops, watching X-Files, making rice krispie treats, journaling, reading, relaxing, and praying.

I'm praying that I'll understand God's love for me more, that I'll see myself as he sees me, that I'll see him as I should, that I'll start trusting him again, that I'll let go of my fears, and really have faith that he will take care of me and give me all that I need. I don't think this will all happen in one weekend, but I'm trying to get to a place where I can rest my confidence in God, and love myself as he loves me, and not seek constantly seek approval from others, and be ok with being alone, and still need others, but not needing others. I think when I'm in this state, a lot of these worries will become insignificant, and I'll be open to receiving from God and others, and eventually able to freely give. I've been giving, or at least going through the motions, but at the heart of my giving is loneliness and feelings of being unneeded, and through giving, I've been hoping to be filled with something else, whether it's just filling up my time or giving me a sense of being needed for a few hours.

I feel good about this. I don't feel lonely. I don't feel unloved. I don't feel rejected. I feel at peace. Not overly happy, not excited, not thrilled, just peaceful.

About a month ago, I noticed that at the bottom of my blog I had this quote from a Rich Mullins song: "I am home anywhere, if you are where I am." I want this to be true, and today, I'm starting to believe it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

grits and friendship

Sometimes, I just feel like an afterthought.

Not to any of you guys, mind you. I've been feeling really lonely and insecure again lately. I just don't feel really established in my friendships here, and sometimes I feel like I just get invited to things when its convenient, or later, as an afterthought. It's probably not true, and it's certainly not true of every one here or every situation, but it's just how I feel at the moment so I'm being emo and blogging about it. Anyone else ever feel this way, like you're just someone's afterthought?

I guess that's one of the great things about dating. For a short period of time, you know that you're in the forefront of someone else's mind, and that's a really neat thing, to have someone always thinking about you and you're always thinking about them. Until they break your goddamn heart.

I'm just really frustrated because I feel like I've been trying really hard to develop friendships here, and to be honest, I don't feel like I'm a whole lot closer to anyone that I was two months ago.* I don't think it's anyone's fault, summertime is just weird, people go out of town a lot, and I know that most of these people I'm trying to establish friendships with have lived here for years and already have their set friends, but they're really inclusive, and seem to like hanging out with me, and invite me to do stuff, but they already have their close friends, so they're not trying as hard as I am. They don't really need me like I need them. God, I'm just getting exhausted.

My friend Heather is amazing at coming up with metaphors, and the other night, she told me about this scene from My Cousin Vinny when they ask a guy on the stand how long something had happened, and he said, "I don't know, only five minutes, I made some grits, and they were done, and it had been five minutes." So the lawyer turns to the courtroom and asks every else how long it takes to make grits. "Twenty minutes," they all answer. "Wow!" replied the lawyer, "So you're telling me that for everyone else in this courtroom, it takes them twenty minutes to make grits, but your grits can soak up the water and get cooked in only five minutes?" Heather told me, "You can turn up the heat, you can stir the pot, you can do all you want to those grits, but it doesn't change the fact that it just takes a certain amount of time for the water to soak into those grits for them to be cooked." And this is really great way of saying, "It just takes time," which is what almost everyone else has been telling me, but finally, someone just illustrated it to me.

So, my grits are soaking. I can try to turn up the heat, but it's probably not going to do anything good, it would just make them burn. There are times when I feel like I'm spending so much energy on building friendships here that I'm going to burn out if something doesn't move soon. Several days ago, I recognized that it would probably be good if I shift some of this energy that I'm putting into building these relationships here into other things. Like school, or my relationship with God, or reading good books for fun. I've also been learning a lot about myself lately, which has been really good. I wanted to blog about that, but this came first.

And I am a likable person. I'm approachable and open and caring and friendly and fun and interesting and those are all things that we want from a friend. So, I'll let these grits soak, and stir the pot every once in a while, and pretty soon, these grits will taste really good.

Thanks for listening. I really need a hug. I might just start taking hugs from people even when they don't offer them. I could be one of those super-huggy girls, which weirds some people out, but most people are just like, "Oh, she's the girl that gives all those hugs."

*That's somewhat a lie. In the past two months, I've gotten to know another family from my church better. The father is a psychologist, the mother is an occupational therapist, and they have three kids, who are really smart and fun and well-behaved and awesome. Today I really wanted to go swimming, but none of my friends my age could go, so I called up this mom, and took her two oldest kids swimming. It was really fun and I'm glad I did it, and I'd do it again. So, I've gotten to know this family in the past couple of months, I guess that's something. And in five years I'll be a licensed psychologist, so it's good to get to know another psychologist who's not my professor or supervisor. And kids will never say no to swimming.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reading can be fun again!

In the past monthish I reread The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon (recommended to me by Britt and Martha). These mark the first books I have read and completed purely for my own pleasure, the last before those being Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last August.

I really loved the Curious Incident, and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet! My only complaint is that I felt like the ending was rushed. But maybe it didn't bother other people, but it kinda annoys me when a book changes pace suddenly. I feel like I'm trotting along nicely for 3/4 of the book, and then BAM we start galloping! I'd rather gallop the entire way through, or just stay trotting. I'd really love to see a movie made of this book. It'd be such a challenging adaptation, but with a fantastic screenplay, a really creative director, lots of narration, and an uber-talented lead actor (someone of Haley Joel Osment or Freddie Highmore caliber), it could be a really amazing film.

So, I'm on a roll now, and I've decided that I should do some summer reading. Here's my list so far:
  • The Shack by William P. Young (recommended to me by Ari and Heather)
  • The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck (recommended to me by Dr. Adam Saenz)
  • Symptomatic by Danzy Senna (recommended to me by the $2.99 shelf at Hastings)
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (recommended to me by Cara)
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (recommended to me by Cara and Nobel)
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (recommended to me by Cara and Pulitzer)
Honestly, this is probably a little ambitious. If I at least finish the first two, then I'll be satisfied, and hopefully I can get to the others. It's certainly doable, I mean, I pretty much tore through the Curious Incident, so assuming that these books are just as interesting, I could finish them all.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for me? Or anyone care to share their summer reading lists?

On a different note, I was looking up Pulitzer Prize winners, and I discover that the year I was born, the Fort Worth Star Telegram won a Pulitzer!

Fort Worth (Tex.) Star-Telegram
For reporting by Mark J. Thompson which revealed that nearly 250 U.S. servicemen had lost their lives as a result of a design problem in helicopters built by Bell Helicopter -a revelation which ultimately led the Army to ground almost 600 Huey helicopters pending their modification.

Pretty cool, huh? I have a lot of Fort Worth pride, more so than I realized. Monday, I went to a Rilo Kiley concert in Austin, and the opening band was like, "We love Austin! Dallas?" and made a negative sound with her guitar, which made everyone yell or boo. So I yelled, "Fort Worth!" which prompted the girl next to me to yell, "F- yeah, Fort Worth!" She then turned to me and said, "You just made my night! I love how we have so much pride, we're like the biggest small town. Every time I go to a show, I hear at least one person yell about Fort Worth, it's awesome." Indeed, it is.

I apologize to my readers with the Y chromosome for the content of this post

A couple of days ago, I bought some stamps and stuck them in my purse. Today, I discovered that one of my stamps had stuck to a tampon. At first, this was just a funny sight, but it got my thinking. If I wrote an address of it, could I mail it? This experiment just might be worth 42 cents.

Any volunteer receivers?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers in Film: My Fantasy?

Sorta a Dads in Media follow up.

Two days ago, my friend and I were walking around Target, when we got on the conversation of Jack Black. She mentioned his role in The Holiday, so I had to ask,
Me: Who would you have preferred, Jude Law's character, or Jack Black's character?
Her: Oh, Jack Black's, definitely!
Me: Good, me too!
Her: Jude Law's character really did nothing for me. Well, except when he was with his daughters. That was kind of appealing.
Me: Yeah, but even with that, I definitely would have picked Jack Black over him.
Her: So, what movie character would you most want to be with?

Hmm, this was a tough question. I started thinking through my favorite movies, especially romantic movies. Lloyd Dobbler from Say Anything first came to mind, and as much as I love that fillm, I would never ever want that relationship. Then I thought of Glen Hansard's character from Once, but once again, I felt no strong draw toward him. All these young, romantic guys, but none of them seemed to have much depth or maturity to make me actually want to be in a relationship with them. After two strikes, I had an answer.

Me: Maybe Steve Carrell's character from Dan in Real Life?
Her: Really? I could see that.
Me: Yeah, he's funny and romantic, but he's also a great father and really loves his family.

I began thinking through more of my favorite movies . . .

Me: And maybe Mel Gibson's character from Signs, but at the end of the movie, not before then.
Her: Huh, interesting that you picked two fathers. Is your biological clock ticking?
Me: Haha, no, I don't think so. It's just that when I think of younger men from movies I like, none of them seem to have much depth or maturity. These characters are mature*, and have depth, and life experience, and because they're fathers and love their children, you know that they're responsible and capable of being in a loving, committed relationship.
Her: True, you're right. Even Ewan McGregor's character from Moulin Rouge, he's so great, but I wouldn't actually want to be in a relationship with him. He'd be too emotional for me.

Interesting that both these characters I mentioned were widows, and even the one aspect of Jude Law's character that we liked was him being a widowed father. I saw The Holiday in the dollar theatre with this same friend, and I remember the scene where Cameron Diaz discovers about his children, she asks, "Divorced?" He replied, "Widowed," and my friend immediately said, "That's hot!"

It's interesting that whenever Hollywood portrays a father as a romantic lead, he's almost always widowed, not divorced. Can you think of any divorced fathers as romantic characters? Harry from When Harry Met Sally was divorced, but had no children. This probably isn't true to our society, there are probably many more divorced fathers than widowed fathers, but perhaps widowed fathers are more likely to actually be raising their children, whereas in most divorces, mom has the custody. But I think it's more than that, I don't think Hollywood likes the idea of divorced parents with children as romantic leads. There's just too much baggage, the heroine would have to worry about the ex-wife and the kids' mom, just make the mom dead, and all is fair game! Don't worry about whether or not the father and his children have resolved their grief, she's not in the picture, he's a safe and appealing romantic lead. When I try to think of a movie about a divorced dad, I first think of Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, but I don't think he had any romance in the film. Let's face it, widowers hot, divorcees not.

Still, it's interesting to me that the most appealing men in cinema are fathers. Sure, almost every film has some sort of attractive male lead with desirable qualities. But despite how attractive they may be to me, these young, single men always have some deadly flaw: they're too cocky, too emotional, too needy, too scared, too immature etc. But add some children to that hollywood picture, and those flaws are instantly balanced with responsibility, love, trust, and (gasp!) maturity. Even the most noble and heroic men in film (Wesley from the Princess Bride, Aragon from LOTR, etc), exist in worlds so different from my own, while I can easily fantasize about being Buttercup or Arwen (I actually do fantasize about being Arwen, but for spiritual, not romantic reasons), I just can't imagine one of these men here in my world, with me. Seriously, what would Aragon be to me here in College Station, TX? He wouldn't be the rightful king, saving hobbits, racing his horse, wielding his sword. Seriously, what would he be doing? Would he be in the Corps? Heaven help me, please no! Anything that was appealing about him is completely lost in translation.

Same goes with action heroes. Does any girl really have an actual crush on James Bond? Action heroes are made to fulfill men's fantasies, not women's. Though I have to admit, Indiana Jones wouldn't make such a bad partner. Were Indy just a whip wielding treasure hunter adventurer, he wouldn't hold much appeal for me. But no, Indy is also Dr. Jones, the professor. So there we go, my desire for adventure, danger, confidence, excitement, fun, humor, romance, and sex appeal, balanced with intelligence, a little nerdiness, depth, responsibility, making a difference in other's lives, etc. I'm feeling pretty good about this choice, especially if Dr. Jones brought his whip to the honeymoon ;)

*Thinking about it now, I'm not sure that all of Steve Carrell's actions in Dan in Real Life could be described as "mature," though he was a pretty swell father and a loving man.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Matter What Kind of Pickle: Mac MacGuff from Juno

Note: There is strong language in these film quotes. This is for the Dads in Media Blogathon, hosted by RC of Strange Culture. Also, for new readers, I'm a counseling psychology student currently taking a family therapy course, so don't be surprised if parts of this blog sound like a psychological case study :) This wasn't my intention, but it just leaks out. I hope you enjoy my perspectives.

Honestly, 2007 wasn't such a bad year for fathers in film. At least, in my favorite films of the year. We had Dan in Real Life, a delightful romantic comedy starring Steve Carrell as a widower with three daughters trying to figure out how to balance fatherhood with a new potential love relationship.

Bill Hodnett portrays Glen Hansard's father in the film Once. It's not much of a part, but here's a working class dad who initially seems disinterested in his son's great musical talent, but there's a touching scene near the end of the film when he listens to his son's demo tape.

Guy: [song finishes] Well, what do you think? Do you like it? It's just a demo, you know...
Guy's Dad: It's fucking brilliant.
Guy: Really?
Guy's Dad: Fantastic stuff. That'll be a hit, no question.

Honestly, I think as viewers, we were just as shocked as the son to hear his father's assessment of the demo. As the scene continues, the proud father gives his son money and encourages him to go to Dublin to pursue his dreams. Now, here's a father who likely doesn't say "I love you," often and initially appeared somewhat disengaged, but underneath, he loves his son and is proud of his accomplishments. He may not be the ideal model of a father, but he displays his genuine love and support for his son through his actions.

One of my favorite portrayals of a father from 2007 films was Mac Macguff, played by J.K. Simmons, in Juno. Fathering teenagers is challenging. When daughters reach adolescence, it's common for fathers to detach themselves to a degree. The developing sexuality of a young woman is confusing and threatening to fathers. While young daughters can crawl up on father's knee and father can tickle and wrestle his little girl, these behaviors change when the girl hits puberty. No longer is this style of physical affection appropriate between an adolescent and her father, forcing fathers to renegotiate their interactions with their daughters. Unfortunately this can be a difficult and confusing task, so some fathers will disengage from showing love and affection to their daughter. But in the film Juno, we have a father who has successfully renegotiated his relationship with his teenage daughter, and remains engaged in her life.

Here's another working class father who, as the picture suggests, is a little rough around the edges. But despite his gruffness, this father truly has a heart of gold. There's a endearing innocence to his uncultured nature, made apparent in his interactions with the ultra-polished Vanessa. When she asks the family, "Have you ever felt like you had a special purpose in life?" his quick response is, "Yes, heating and air-conditioning." Whether it's naivety or self-confidence, Mac has a natural ease about him and never pretends to be something he's not.

Mac MacGuff: Whats that thing?
Vanessa Loring: It's a Pilates machine.
Mac MacGuff: What do you make with it?
Vanessa Loring: Oh you don't make anything with it, its for exercise.
Mac MacGuff: Oh. My wife ordered one of those Tony Little Gazelles off the television... I don't know about that guy. He doesn't look right.

And sometimes, he's just that dorky dad who says the things that a teenage daughter would never want her friends to hear.

Mac MacGuff: Hey there, big puffy version of Junebug!

Despite how he's sometimes portrayed as the lame, bumbling father, MacGuff is by no means incompetent in his role as a father to Juno. He's protective, caring, and actively engaged with his teenage daughter, which is displayed in two key scenes. The first is the revelation of Juno's pregnancy. When Juno tells him and his wife of her pregnancy, MacGuff's initial reaction is shock then wanting details. His reaction to the news of the father's identity seems typical for the uncensored, genuine Mac Macguff.

Juno MacGuff: I'm Pregnant.
Bren: Oh, God.
Juno MacGuff: But, uh ah, I'm going to give it up for adoption and I already found the perfect couple, they're going to pay for the medical expenses and everything. And and what ah 30 or odd weeks we can just pretend that this never happened.
Mac MacGuff: You're pregnant?
Juno MacGuff: I'm sorry. I'm sorry... And if it is any consolation I have heartburn that is radiating in my knee caps and I haven't taken a dump since like Wednesday... morning.
Bren: I didn't even know that you were sexually active.
Juno MacGuff: I, uh...
Mac MacGuff: Who is the kid?
Juno MacGuff: The-the baby? I don't really know much about it other than, I mean, it has fingernails, allegedly.
Bren: Nails, really?
Juno MacGuff: Yeah!
Mac MacGuff: No, I know I mean who's the father, Juno?
Juno MacGuff: Umm... It's Paulie Bleeker.
Mac MacGuff: Paulie Bleeker?
Juno MacGuff: What?
Mac MacGuff: I didn't think he had it in him.
Leah: I know, right?

Despite this final comic comment, Macguff is truly disappointed with his daughter and honestly expresses this to her.

Mac MacGuff: I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when.
Juno MacGuff: I don't know what kind of girl I am.

I find a hint of tenderness in this comment. He doesn't yell, he doesn't become angry, he simply speaks from the heart not only his disappointment with her pregnancy, but his doubt of what kind of a daughter Juno is. I think it's the openness of her father that allows Juno to openly express her own doubts of herself. Once Juno leaves the room, Macguff's protective instinct emerges strongly, and, um, coarsely.

Mac MacGuff: Next time I see that Bleeker kid I'm going to punch him in the wiener.

It's almost stereotypical, the father who wants to go beat up the teenage boy who impregnated his daughter. Stereotypical, until his wife remarks that it probably wasn't his idea, and he agrees. In a more appropriate channeling of his protective drive, MacGuff states that he will accompany Juno to meet the potential adoptive parents, because he doesn't want them taking advantage of her. It's clear that he embraces his authority and responsibility to protect his daughter. You have to wonder though, is guilt part of his motivation to be so involved in Juno's adoption process? Does his daughter's pregnancy make him doubt his ability as a father? Sadly, these themes are not explored in this film.

In another key father-daughter scene towards the end of Juno's pregnancy, a confused Juno, "dealing with things beyond [her] maturity level" turns to her father for counsel.

Juno MacGuff: I'm losing my faith in humanity.
Mac MacGuff: Think you can narrow it down for me?
Juno MacGuff: I guess I wonder sometimes if people ever stay together for good.
Mac MacGuff: You mean like couples?
Juno MacGuff: Yeah, like people in love.
Mac MacGuff: Are you having boy troubles? I gotta be honest; I don't much approve of dating in your condition, 'cause well... that's kind of messed up.
Juno MacGuff: Dad, no!
Mac MacGuff: Well, it's kind of skanky. Isn't that what you girls call it? Skanky? Skeevy?
Juno MacGuff: Please stop now.
Mac MacGuff: [persisting] Tore up from the floor up?

MacGuff is concerned for Juno and questions her to find out what's on her mind. Once again, he responds uncensored, and lapses into the awkward dad mode, teasing her about the language of skankiness, perhaps trying to relieve his or Juno's tension in this conversation. But Juno continues, and he responds thoughtfully and sensitively.

Juno MacGuff: Dad, it's not about that. I just need to know if it's possible for two people to stay happy together forever, or at least for a few years.
Mac MacGuff: It's not easy, that's for sure. Now, I may not have the best track record in the world, but I have been with your stepmother for 10 years now and I'm proud to say that we're very happy.
[Juno nods]
Mac MacGuff: In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with.
Juno MacGuff: I sort of already have.
Mac MacGuff: Well, of course! Your old D-A-D! You know I'll always be there to love and support you no matter what kind of pickle you're in... Obviously
[nods to her belly]

The last line is meant to be cheesy. The audience knows that Juno isn't talking about her father, and he's being portrayed as the goofy naive dad who hopes that his daughter won't need any man but him. Despite his miscalculations on this matter, his expression of love and support is sincere. He's spent the past 6-8 months loving Juno unconditionally, graciously helping his pregnant daughter.

I'm going to go out on a limb and hypothesize that MacGuff's loving relationship with Juno serves a protective function when she meets Mark Loring, the potential adoptive father who takes an inappropriate interest in Juno. Though Bren warns her, Juno naively spends alone time with this married man, connecting with him over music, movies, and comics. Though Juno doesn't act wisely, I believe her intentions to be innocent. Perhaps since she already has the love and acceptance of her father, she's not seeking those things from Mark. To her, Mark is an enjoyable distraction during a confusing time and because he will be adopting her child, she sees him as "safe." It's clear that Mark becomes inappropriately attached to Juno, though his exact intentions are ambivalent. But when push comes to shove, I strongly believe that Juno would have resisted any romantic or sexual advances toward her. I believe that she is not a girl who can be taken advantage of, and it's obvious throughout the film that she marches to the beat of her own drummer. I believe that part of this quality in Juno comes from her strong relationship with her father. Though her mother had rejected her, he accepts her no matter what, which gives Juno the freedom to make her own decisions and to express herself as a unique individual.

But the question still remains, where was Mac MacGuff when his teenage daughter was having unprotected sex? Wouldn't a truly caring, protective father have been able to prevent this mistake? Did he not monitor her time with boys closely enough? Did he not discuss sex with Juno? Was he not involved? Was he too busy with his heating and air conditioning business, or his new wife and daughter to notice what was going on with Juno? Perhaps he trusted her too much. I believe this last scenario to be most likely. He knew that his daughter was an individual, and that she would not be taken advantage of sexually or pressured into doing something she wanted to do. In his comment, "I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when," he seemed to have placed a lot of confidence in her ability to make wise decisions. Sadly, because of the time frame of the movie, we don't have the full answers to these questions. Without knowing the quality of their father-daughter relationship prior to the pregnancy, we can only speculate about whether or not his actions contributed to her choice to have unprotected sex.

But what we do see in this film is a father's reaction to his daughter's pregnancy - every father's nightmare. He expresses his disappointment without anger or punishment, knowing that the responsibility that Juno now carries is punishment enough for her choice. He offers a protective, caring role and loves and supports her all along the way. He's not perfect, but he rises to the occasion and handles the challenge of his daughter's pregnancy in an admiral way. In this fictional world, Juno is lucky and blessed to have such a father as Mac MacGuff.

Dads in Media Blogathon

Hello Blogging Friends!

I invite you to participate in the Dads in Media Blog-A-Thon going on from now through Father's Day, hosted by my friend RC over at Strange Culture. It's pretty straightforward, in honor of Father's Day, write a blog about a dad or dads in any form of media - film, television, music, literature, art, etc. Then, go to the post that I linked above, and email RC (link on his post) and let him know so he'll include you in the final list.

Here's one suggestion that RC had:

"While your post can be on any related topic, I would especially encourage you, if you are so inclined, to focus on redeeming examples, qualities, or lessons that can be seen in media fathers. Of course, the field's open to your own interpretation of the topic."

I have a post in mind, and hopefully sometime between now and Sunday I can get it out of my head and into this blog!

Friday, June 06, 2008

good lyrics

I don't listen to a whole lot of Christian music these days, but I listened to these songs yesterday and the day before and I liked what they said to me, so I decided to post them.

"40 Acres" by Caedmon's Call

Out on these Texas plains you can see for a million lives
And there's a thousand exits between here and the state line
About the last time that I saw you
You said call me Pandora, call me a fool

And I'm thinking this view it could do you some good
So drop these scales and take a look

There's 40 acres and redemption to be found
Just along down the way
There is a place where no plow blade has turned the ground
And you will turn it over, 'cause out here hope remains
'Cause out here hope remains...

Out here the Texas sky is as big as the sea
And you're alone in your room like an island floating free
Your spirit's hanging in a bottle out on a tree
You say that you're the black sheep, I say you're still family

So throw that bottle to the waves
They'll bring you in to me and from the shore you will see

Out here the Texas rain is the hardest I've ever seen
It'll wash your house away, but it'll also make you clean
Now these rocks they are crying too
And this whole land is calling out for you

Definitely written by a band from Houston! I really do enjoy long drives out in the Texas countryside, because the sky is so big, and everything's wide open, it really does feel like there is hope and redemption to be found out here.


"Hush" by Waterdeep

When you feel like the days just drone on and on and on
and you feel like the nights are quickly gone

and on the inside your heart is gaping wide
and on the inside you feel like no one's on your side
well, I am

When you thought you could rest, but you found out you were wrong
And there's another need another battle
another one more thing that comes along

and on the inside
you hear the fall but you hate the falling sound
and on the inside
you can't pick another broken piece up off the ground
well I know


Hush little baby don't say a word
Daddy's gone and bought you a great big heaven to rest in
He's bought it with blood and put the seal in your heart
it'll give you the hope you need to get up and start again

when all the things you thought you left behind are still hanging on
and everything you try to do right ends up all wrong

and on the inside everyone else seems basically fine
but on the inside even they won't let go of the dead and cling to what's alive
well I AM

The first time I heard this about a year ago, almost exactly, I broke down crying, and listened to it on repeat until I felt better. It was really weird, I didn't even know that I needed to cry, but sometimes you hold back the tears too long that you forget they're there and then you need a good song like this to release it all.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

denver calling

I've got the travel bug again. My friend and I are planning a trip to Boston in August for the APA convention. We've booked our flights, we've got a hotel room for a few nights with another classmate, then we're going to stay a couple of extra days to sightsee, hopefully couch surf with some cool person(s) or stay in a hostel downtown. I'm really excited, both about the convention, and seeing a great city that I haven't yet visited.

But the travel bug is one not easily satisfied. Am I content to wait until August for some adventure in an unfamiliar city? No! In looking for flights to Boston, I discovered that Fourth of July weekend (when I have a day off), I could fly from Austin to Denver for only around $200-$230 dollars. I started dreaming and scheming. I have a classmate who's in Denver for the summer, so I could stay with him a night or two and sightsee around Denver. Then, I could take a bus to Boulder, and hopefully couchsurf with someone, and spend a couple of days hiking in the mountains.

Oh man, this is very tempting. I've never been to Denver or Boulder, and I've only been to Colorado once. I love the mountains, especially in the summertime, and then pictures of Boulder online look absolutely gorgeous. This is very, very tempting. Tickets are going fast, so I need to make a decision soon. Anyone interested in joining me? If so, let me know ASAP! It would also be an adventure to go by myself. Should I take the plunge?

Monday, June 02, 2008

a room of one's own

The title of Virginia Woolf's famous essay, which according to Wikipedia means "any author's need for poetic license and the personal liberty to create art." For me, it means personal liberty, having a space (concretely or abstractly) that is truly one's own and no one else's.

I'm trying to find that here in College Station. Motivated by loneliness and a need for connection, I've spent a lot of energy pursuing community and relationships with others. I'm still pursuing these things, but lately, I've had an urge for personal freedom, and for creating my own world here. There's something really freeing about doing something purely because I want to, not because someone invited me, not because I was asked to do it, not because I'm hoping to impress someone, but simply because I chose to do it. I'm such a social creature that I don't have a lot of these things. When I describe how I spend my time, it all revolves around people. Sure, I have hobbies and interests in music, movies, theatre, art, traveling, but most of how I choose to spend my time revolves around other people. It's not a bad thing and I don't resent that. I love people, so I'll take any excuse to be around people I enjoy!

Every Saturday at 5, at a park in a low SES section of Bryan, there's a group of students who host a potluck for the people in that community, some of whom are homeless, and most of whom are in poverty. Since I heard about it back in January, I'd been wanting to go, and about a month ago, I attended it with my church small group. I went to it again, without my small group, this past Saturday. No one invited me, no one was expecting me, I just wanted to go. I had decided to go early on in the week, but when the actual day arrived, I was tempted to skip. I had slept in, and hadn't started on my paper due Monday, but I'd already bought groceries to cook. The idea popped into my head that maybe I should cook the food and deliver it to someone's house who I know is going, but stay home and work on my paper. But I couldn't do that. I had other motivations for going, to connect with people who are different from me, to serve, to build God's kingdom, to be loving and giving. But my tenacity in going really came down to the fact that this was the only thing all week, or all week perhaps, that I had purely chosen to participate in. Everything else I did this last weekend was because a professor had asked me to do it or a friend had invited me to do it. Sure, I still had a choice in those matters, but going to this potluck with the one thing that I had made up my mind to do by myself, without being asked. And there was no way I could give up that kind of freedom and empowerment!

So, with school being less demanding, and me being single and not tightly connected to group of friends, I definitely have the freedom to pursue things that I enjoy and that are important to me. Looking back on my time with Andrew, I realized that pretty much the entire time we were together, almost everything we did were things that he wanted to do. This wasn't a bad thing, this wasn't any weakness of mine, or me conforming and changing myself to a guy. It was simply the circumstances - Andrew had a set group of friends, and I didn't. He's lived here longer and knows the things he likes to do, and I'm new here and haven't quite figured out what I like to do around here. Like I said, it wasn't bad, I don't regret that aspect of our relationship, but when I date, I'm used to having a life other than the guy. I'm used to and prefer bringing him into my life while he brings me into his, instead of just me joining his life because I don't yet have a life of my own. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little. It probably wasn't that way 100% of the time, but it definitely was the majority of the time and that definitely was the trend that I see.

So, here's to freedom and finding my own life in Bryan/College Station! Here's to having a room of my own! When I'm not working, studying, writing, seeing clients, running errands, or doing household chores, there's lots that I want to be doing. I want to be asking people to meals, having friends over, hosting sleepovers, swimming in my friends' pool, inviting friends to movies and concerts, cooking for homeless people, cooking for myself, biking, drinking wine, drawing mandalas, going to yoga classes, going to prayer meetings, reading for fun, and whatever else comes to mind! And then maybe, the next dating experience I have, I can say, "Hmm, Saturday night. Well, I've got this potluck that I'll be going to from about 5-7. We could hang out afterwards, or you're welcome to join me." I'd be cool with that.

happy hat

Inspired by a couple of fashionable friends and Samantha from the Sex and the City movie (which I recommend to my girlfriends, but I would never want any of my guy friends to see), I bought a floppy, wide-brimmed straw summer hat yesterday!

I feel pretty fabulous wearing it! Seriously, even though I'm working, and writing papers, and only the miserable heat reminds me that it's actually summertime, I put on this hat, and felt carefree. I felt like it was truly summertime, and I could be at a pool or beach and I could just relax and smile confidently and be myself! I think everyone should have a happy hat, or sunglasses, or scarf, or necklace, or something that they can put on and instantly feel what they need to feel.