Barbara's Random Thoughts

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Author quote of the week

" is utterly impossible for me to commit to any date you propose."

What irks me the most about my authors' inability or refusal to meet deadlines is that they are college professors. College professors who no doubt expect students to meet the deadlines they propose. Sigh.
| posted by Barbara | 1:18 AM |

Friday, April 29, 2005

Tell us what to read, Oprah!

Perhaps you've heard of the recent letter to Oprah from the "Word of Mouth" writers, begging her to start recommending contemporary fiction again. I read about it on Publisher's Lunch last week, and rolled my eyes. Then I came across this excellent post on Jennifer Weiner's blog.

Let me just say that I've always been annoyed by Oprah's Book Club. Sure, it's great that she's getting people to read who might not otherwise do so. And she's recommended some really great books. But I get so frustrated at people who look solely to their media idols to dictate what they wear, eat, buy, read, and think. And that's what this letter smacks of for me.

Weiner says it well: "She wasn't able to turn her viewers into readers as much as she turned them into consumers, happy to pull out their wallets and buy whatever she endorsed, whether it was diet tips, dating advice, or a novel."

She goes on to say: "Worse, the W.O.M. authors imagine readers as a group of gullible, tractable, desperate pinheads, wandering like little children in the big, bad aisles of their local bookshop without Oprah to guide them."

Indeed: "Readers have trouble finding contemporary books they'll like. They, the readers, need you."

We don't know what to read without you, Oprah!! Sheesh, people, she cranked out 48 book recommendations before she left off recommending contemporary fiction. 48 books by 40 different authors. I'd think that would give her book club devotees a head start on finding contemporary fiction they like. I find that just one good book recommendation turns me on to a bunch of others. Read other books by that author who wrote that Oprah's book you liked so much. There are author blurbs on book jackets...check out the authors who liked the book you liked. Amazon has its little feature: "If you liked this, you might like this!" All of these will lead you to other books, which will lead you to other books...and so on and so forth. Yes, there are a ton of new titles out there to navigate. But to lament that you don't know what to read because Oprah won't tell you? Ugh. Readers surely cannot be completely lost in the morass of contemporary fiction without Oprah to lead the way.

And I sincerely wonder how much self-interest is wrapped up in this letter. "Oprah, recommend more contemporary fiction" has a little bit of a subtext = "Oprah, recommend our books!"

Ok. End rant.
| posted by Barbara | 8:14 PM |

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Weekend part 2

The rest of my weekend...

Sunday morning, I got to church at an unearthly hour (7:40!) in order to run through a solo, and then rehearse with the worship team before first service. Because of the uncertainty of my plans for the weekend (I can't go/I'm going!/I'm not going/I am going!), Sarah hadn't gotten the message that I actually was coming after all. But she switched people around and I got to sing anyway. It cracks me up--Sarah and I exchanged a look when I noticed she'd changed some words on one of the songs we did. She commented that yes, some things never change! The service was really cool--they'd changed things up a bit (some things do change) and had Pastor Bob's preaching interspersed with some of the worship songs, and even the greeting time, since the message was focused on community. Kinda cool.

The service on Sunday really prompted me to evaluate where I am and what God is doing in my life right now. Though I'm so slow to learn at times, I feel like I really have been growing and that I've been more on track in the last few months. God's working, and it was good to recognize that. We sang "One Pure and Holy Passion," and I felt God calling me, as He always does, into deeper relationship with Him.

"Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow, Lord, after You." (words changed by Sarah...)

I've been very conscious lately of my need for community, to be more involved in ministry, to spend time daily in the Bible, but what I've neglected is a deeper walk with God Himself. He wants my heart.

For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

Sunday afternoon, I went over to my sister's house. She came to the door holding Johnny, and he gave me this big smile, kind of like: "Hey, I know you!" That was cool. I feel like I'm missing so much of his life--babies change so quickly! I was around so much more when the girls were babies, and I'm missing that with Johnny. I spent the whole afternoon playing with my nieces...Crazy 8s, Monopoly Junior, jump rope, roller skates and various other ride-on toys...and watching my nephew toddle all over the house. He just started walking on Thursday last week. It was so much fun to hang out with the kids!

After dinner at Nancy's, I went over to Kristy & Nathan's new place to see them and meet new baby Judah. Who is adorable, I might add. Kristy--it's so weird and yet so very cool to see you as a mom. =)

Kristy and I went upstairs so she could retrieve some books she'd borrowed from me ages ago. We stood in front of her bookshelves, just talking about books. I'm such a nerd--but standing in front of a bookshelf is one of my favorite things to do. It was one of those: "Well, have you read this?" "Oh, you need to read this!" conversations. I went away with a few more books besides my own. I also continued my trend of ruining things by looking at Kristy's books for Judah and pointing out that perhaps "Pat the Bunny" is a name and not an action. Pat, the bunny of indeterminate gender. Sorry, Kristy.

And that was pretty much my weekend. I headed home (heh, back to the Bay...where is home, really?) on Monday, and now I'm wondering where the week has gone.
| posted by Barbara | 9:27 PM |

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Weekend part 1

So. I'm back. I don't always recap my whole weekend (partly because they usually aren't that interesting...), but I guess I'm just in a writing you get the whole deal. =)

Friday night, I went to the reception for Dr. Doland at Biola. It's been a while since I was on campus, and it was cool, but a little weird to see some of the changes up close: the new library, the new dorm on lower campus, and the transformed little corner of the upper SUB where the reception was being held. Anyway. When I talked with Dr. Doland, her first words to me were, "You look familiar, but I don't remember your name." Heehee. Figures. She had a big impact on my education, she pushed me to think more deeply about literature, and when I approach her to tell her these things, she says, "I don't remember your name." I understand that goes with the territory of being a teacher--there's one professor and so very many students who pass through your classes. But it just made me laugh.

After chatting with Dr. Doland, I talked with Paul and Todd, two of my favorite profs in the English dept. And they did remember me. =) It was so very good to talk with both of them, to know I was remembered, and that they were interested in what I'm up to. I talked with Paul quite a bit about publishing. He asked me the question I've often been asked since I moved up here: "Is this where you think you'll stay?" This is a question I really don't have an answer for.

I've been thinking a lot lately about children's publishing and the desire I've had to get into that area of the industry. I mentioned this to Paul, and he immediately asked, "What about Chronicle?" Funny, there's been a position open there, in their children's division. I am, however, very much NOT qualified for this position--they're looking for 5 years of experience specifically in children's publishing. But Paul encouraged me to apply anyway.

I'm such a defeatist. I see no point in pursuing something that has little likelihood of success. But Paul made a good point--what do I have to lose? So that's something I'm thinking through this week, as I continue to evaluate where I am and where I'd like to be.

On Saturday, I headed down to San Diego with my parents. We visited my uncle and aunt, who I haven't seen in several years. We went to lunch, and my aunt asked all about my job, my church, and where I'm living now. I've never been very close to my aunts and uncles, so it was really cool to get to share with them over lunch.

Then it was off to CHC to see my brother in their production of Beauty and the Beast. My brother did a great job. Crazy old Maurice! It was great to hang out with him & Dianna after the show, although it was rather hilarious standing around talking to David when he was in full costume and stage makeup, complete with grey hair and beard. We ran into Duane Gish at intermission--my family first got to know the Gishes on a trip to Israel when I was about 5. Dr. Gish and his wife would fight over who got to hug me, and he would always give me quarters and say, "See what the nice man gave you?" in order to one-up his wife. These are the profound things a 5-year-old remembers about traveling in Israel. Oh, and the Pac-Man machines in the lobby of our Jerusalem hotel.

Ok, to be continued...
| posted by Barbara | 9:35 PM |

Friday, April 22, 2005

Decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

So I wasn't going to go to LA. Then I was. Then I wasn't. But now I am. One car rental and about $60 later, and tomorrow I'll be on the road, heading home. Can I say just one more time that I miss my family?

I can't be bothered to start a new post. So, on another note, I'm listening to Derek Webb today. And I'm thinking I need to abandon the "listening" portion of my sidebar...because I can't seem to keep up with myself. I'm cycling through too much too quickly lately.

Anyway. Derek Webb. I love Derek Webb. His lyrics rarely fail to challenge me, make me think, and move me to worship. However, I've been pondering the song "Take to the World" this afternoon. Though there are parts I love:

"take to the world this rare, relentless grace
and like the three in one
know you must become what you want to save"

...there are other parts that make me scratch my head:

"and may the bread on your tongue
leave a trail of crumbs
to lead the hungry back to the place that you are from"

That's just not an attractive simile. And then there's the fact that I like to sing the first line ("go in peace to love and to serve") as: "go in peace to love and to surf."

Sometimes my propensity for mocking really just ruins things. But it can be so fun.

Addendum: I just checked, and Derek Webb didn't write the lyrics to this particular song. Aha!
| posted by Barbara | 12:39 AM |

Thursday, April 21, 2005

If only I had a picture

I was up in SF last night for an editing thing, and drove past a homeless guy holding up a sign:

"Ninjas kidnapped my family
Need $4 for Karate lessons"

Doesn't get much more specific than that.
| posted by Barbara | 12:54 AM |

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Adventures in online dating

Having trouble meeting that special someone? Try the Dead Celebrity Soulmate Search.

My pick?

Image Hosted by
Raven: Quiet, scholarly type; likes to write, visit graveyards, and experience melancholia. Looking for a partner who enjoys madness and sorrow. Let's make magic together!
| posted by Barbara | 12:56 AM |

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


-Great worship rehearsal last night.
-Got a ride home for the weekend...with someone fun!
-Homemade chocolate chip cookies on the water cooler today.
-Getting a free massage this morning.
-God is good. (And not only because of the above. He just is.)
| posted by Barbara | 7:32 PM |

Monday, April 18, 2005

This weekend or next weekend...

I am rather passionate about my definition of "this weekend" vs. "next weekend." "This weekend" always means the weekend which is currently approaching, and "next weekend" always means the one after that. It seems simple to me. What else would "this weekend" mean, but this coming weekend? But I have had lengthy debates on the topic with friends who are convinced that "next weekend" means THE next occurring weekend, resulting in masses of confusion when we try to get together "next weekend."

I had a brief run-in with the topic today, when I referred to "this weekend", meaning the weekend beginning with Friday, April 22nd, and was questioned on the grounds that today was technically still part of "this weekend," since "this weekend" was not yet over. This is a side of the question I had not considered. Then this afternoon I wandered on over to defective yeti and discovered a consideration of the same semantic question. It's so nice to know that other people are picky enough to think about these things...
| posted by Barbara | 2:51 AM |

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Dilemma of the week

I took my car in this morning to have an oil leak checked out. Turns out it's leaking in two places, and would take more money to fix than it's really worth pouring into my little 1997 Geo Metro. It's been good to me, but it'll be time to say goodbye soon. I'm happy to get a new car, I'm not happy to go through the headache of finding and buying a new car. It's times like these when I really miss having my dad and brother-in-law just 10 minutes away.

The bigger dilemma is that my car is fine to drive around town, but not really safe for driving long distances. Like to LA next weekend like I'd planned. Grrr. There are a ton of reasons why I want to be in LA next weekend...and now I must devise an alternate way of getting there. Road trip, anyone? Seriously. I'll pay for gas!
| posted by Barbara | 12:38 AM |

Friday, April 15, 2005


I got an invitation in the mail last night for a retirement reception honoring one of the English profs at Biola. Turns out it's next Friday--when I'll actually be in La Mirada. I'm excited that I'll get to go.

I only had Dr. Doland for one class, but she always intimidated me. I never wanted to talk in class, because I didn't feel like my contributions were thoughtful enough or valuable enough...she was tough. She challenged me and made me talk anyway, though I often felt like I was barely keeping my head above water in class discussions.

One of my favorite Dr. Doland memories is from that Lit Theory class. One afternoon, Juan Sanchez was extolling the genius of Wordsworth and the Romantic poets, and Dr. Doland cut him off by saying that loving Romantic poetry was a phase he was going through, that she went through that phase in college, and that he would get over it eventually. Ah, Juan...I wonder whatever happened to him?

At the end of that semester, at the English department senior dinner, I was extremely surprised to be one of the recipients of the annual "Excellence in English" awards. I never felt like my academic contributions were very impressive, and I knew other friends who had higher GPAs than I did. So getting that award came out of the blue for me, and it was actually one of the things that prompted me to go for my M.A. a year later.

Dr. Doland presented the award to me that night, and she said some very nice things about my work in her class that semester. I did get one of those hard-earned A's without a minus that I hear were so very rare to receive from her, but I never expected to hear praise from her in that way. Praise from Dr. Doland meant a lot.

A year later, she wrote me a very nice recommendation letter when I applied to grad school, and I had her listed as one of my references on my resume when I was applying for publishing jobs. Just after I got my current job, she emailed me her congratulations. I still have that email, in which she said: "My assessment is that not only will you 'figure things out,' but also make us very proud."

One of the things that I regret about my time in college (and in grad school, for that matter) is that I didn't take more time to interact with and learn from my professors outside of class. It wasn't until the end of my time at Biola that I realized that my professors actually did value my contributions to their classes. And I didn't let them know how much I valued the impact they made on my academic (and personal) growth. So many of my professors meant a lot to me--even if I was hugely intimidated by them, as with Dr. Doland.

I'm sad that Dr. Doland is retiring. Her teaching definitely influenced my studies in literature for the better. In spite of how tough she was in her classes, I'm sure she'll be missed at Biola. But I'm glad I'll be able to go to the reception and be part of honoring her for the contributions she's made to the English department at Biola. I'm glad for the opportunity to at least tell her briefly that her teaching made an impact on me. Something I should have said long before.
| posted by Barbara | 9:28 PM |

Thursday, April 14, 2005


I spent some time playing my violin last night, for the first time since Christmas. And I've gotten soft...the fingertips on my left hand hurt today. It hurts to type. Where have my callouses gone?!
| posted by Barbara | 6:21 PM |

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

This is why it's called "random thoughts"

I guess I haven't had much to say lately. Actually, I wrote a post on Monday, Blogger promptly ate it, and I couldn't be bothered to reproduce it. Anyway. Here I am.

Over the weekend, I got to go to a good friend's wedding. It was quite possibly the most beautiful wedding I've been to. The reception was at a winery up off Skyline (Sonia was horrified to discover that this was the first time I'd been up to Skyline). It was a clear, sunny day, and the views across the vineyards and out to the Bay were amazing. And Kelly and Josh were both positively glowing the entire day. It was so much fun to see two friends starting their lives together, and being so very much in love. Wow, did I just get a little sappy there? Must be the springtime.

The last meeting of my editing class was last night, and ever since turning in my final assignment on Monday, I've had that elation of "no more homework!" that I haven't felt since grad school. It felt so good to go home on Monday night after Bible study, and spend my time reading and talking to a couple of good friends on the phone, rather than writing new chapter outlines and developmental memos, or doing line editing. There's only so long you can stare at the same manuscript! I was really looking forward to using this new freedom to laze around tonight watching Lost & Alias, then I found out that tonight is the company softball team's opening game. Ah, the dilemma. This is why I have a VCR, I guess.

Speaking of Lost...I must share Television Without Pity's summary of last week's episode:

Goodnight, mate. Goodnight, Kate. Goodnight, Jin readying his line with bait. Goodnight, Shannon, out on her date. Goodnight, boars. Goodnight, sores. Goodnight, Lostzilla and your metallic roars. Goodnight, rock. Goodnight, Locke. You and Jack need to have a talk. Goodnight, Sun. Goodnight, moon. This is the last you'll hear from blue-eyed Boone.


I'm driving down to LA in a week and a half, and I'm really, really looking forward to it. I haven't seen my family since Christmas, and I miss them. And I can't wait to see Kristy's new baby! Paul asked me to sing a solo for both services the Sunday I'm down there, which freaks me out a little cause I haven't done that in so long. But it'll be good for me!

This was random. Oh well.
| posted by Barbara | 6:33 PM |

Friday, April 08, 2005

Get a date on aisle 15

Wal-Mart really does have everything.
| posted by Barbara | 9:32 PM |

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Anne Lamott

A week ago, I went with a friend to hear Anne Lamott read from her new book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. One of the very first things she said was about her own political views: "I don't know why you would have come if you're a conservative Republican, obviously you don't know what I'm about..."

She said very straightforwardly that she wasn't going to make any apologies for her views, that if we didn't agree, that wasn't her problem--which is absolutely true. But why discourage people from listening to you just because they don't agree with you--politically or otherwise?

Why would I avoid going to a reading to hear a writer I admire, just because her political views are radically different from my own? For one, I wasn't there to hear her political views, though I figured that would come into it at some point. I was interested to hear what she had to say about faith, knowing that she is a believer, and knowing that her views are very different from my own in many ways.

Growing up, I didn't exactly have a broad exposure to people whose beliefs were different from my own. I was homeschooled from 5th grade to the end of high school. I went to Biola. I worked in the office at my church for several years. But there were also those 2 years spent at a community college, that semester in Italy, and the three years in grad school--where I did a lot of interacting with people with very different perspectives. And even within the "sheltered" community of church and Christian friends, there wasn't uniformity of perspective.

Since moving to the Bay area, I certainly have found a much larger diversity of beliefs and convictions among my friends. One of my friends at work recently commented to another good friend: "Your friendship with Barbara is a mystery to me--you couldn't be more different."

That made me laugh, because it's totally true. But I so enjoy talking to and learning from people who believe and think differently than I do. Sometimes it makes me change my mind. Sometimes it just strengthens what I already thought. But it stretches me, it makes me think, and it makes me look at things from another angle. And there you have the reason why a conservative Republican would go to hear Anne Lamott speak.
| posted by Barbara | 6:52 PM |

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I've always loved Prufrock...

Which poem are you?

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

God, you're indecisive. You're not that great, but you don't know if you want to accept that. You appreciate beauty and observe things others may not, but you're also hopelessly impaled on your own foolish romanticism. Go you.

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| posted by Barbara | 1:32 AM |

Friday, April 01, 2005


I am wearing monkey socks today. My roommate Joyce gave them to me yesterday for my birthday. While they are not socks I would have bought for myself, I like them. And it's April Fool's Day and somehow monkey socks are fitting. Monkeys! Monkey business! Monkeyshines! Monkeying around! Monkey is a fun word to say. And the more times you type it, the more it looks mis-spelled.

And I really am wearing monkey socks and not just saying that I am as an April Fool's joke.

This, people, is what happens when I have a cold. I post about monkeys and wearing monkey socks. I need to go home...
| posted by Barbara | 10:11 PM |