Barbara's Random Thoughts

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New car and weekend

Yes, Sarah and Elise, I will blog. =)

This weekend I bought a new car. I entered the world of financing and car payments for the very first time. I also entered the world of frustration that is learning to drive stick shift. I know. What was I thinking?! Indeed. I don't think I was.

Last night, Sarah told me I was brave...and as I've said about other big, so-called brave decisions in my life (like moving here)...I think I just didn't think it through. Maybe that's the way I get myself to take risks...I don't think things through. Anyway, I am now the proud owner of a Mazda 6. And it is pretty. And it is most definitely not automatic.

What happened was this: I went car shopping intending to buy a Mazda 3, perhaps a Honda Civic. We looked at the Mazda 3s, and none were quite right--they were all missing features that were important to me, or they had a bunch of features I didn't want and didn't want to pay extra for! While I was considering where to revise my ideas of what I wanted, the sales guy pointed out a very pretty blue Mazda 6. Given the offered $6000 in cash back incentives and rebates, it was going to end up being cheaper than any of the Mazda 3s I was considering. And it was definitely more car. Hmm. However, it had a manual transmission. Hmmm. We test-drove it. And by "test-drove", I mean: my dad and my brother-in-law test-drove it. Because, of course, I've never learned to drive stick shift.

So. I filed this info away in my brain and we headed to a Honda dealer to check out the Civic. I test drove the model of Civic I wanted, and wasn't really excited about it. We looked at the was going to be more than the Mazda 6, by about $2000. For something I wasn't really happy with. I talked about it with my dad and brother-in-law, and came to the conclusion that the only reason I was hesitating on the Mazda was that it's a stick shift. And that's something I can learn (ha!). So I decided to get the car I really wanted.

My dad made me drive to church on Sunday morning, and I only stalled 3 times on the 4-5 mile drive. The last time I stalled it, I was almost all the way into a parking spot at church, so we can count that as "parking" and not "stalling," right? Driving home from church was another matter. There was stalling. There was yelling. There were tears. (All me.) We shall speak of this no more.

Monday morning, we decided it was not a good idea to have me drive all the way home by myself. My dad drove up with me and caught a flight back from San Jose. Yay for senior fares on Southwest. I drove part of the way back...and as soon as I got behind the wheel, we hit stop and go traffic in the middle of the Central valley. I didn't stall once. We're making progress over here. Next step in Project Stick Shift: conquer hills. In the meantime, I'm still driving my old car to work. Sigh. (Good news, Julie: you can still find my house!)

In other news: this weekend, I got to see some good friends I hadn't seen in years. The group of 5 girls I was really close to in choir at Fullerton College--we haven't all been together in maybe 4 or 5 years. I got to Hannah's going away party on Saturday night (she's now in Kazakhstan for the next year), and Corina was just leaving. There was running, there was screaming, there was hugging. I love these girls. Time was short, but it was so good to see them.

I think there was more to say, but now I really must work.
| posted by Barbara | 5:46 PM |

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Just some quotes

Last night I had a hilarious conversation with Julie F. and Greg about various men in the Bible. We speculated on their relative personalities and degrees of attractiveness.

Me: "I bet Boaz was hot. One of those really hot older men."
Julie F.: "Yeah, like Tom Selleck."
Me: "Ew, no!"

And later:

Me: "I picture Peter as kind of the Chandler of the disciples."

Both Julie and I were agreed that King David was our top Bible hottie. Except for the multiple wives and the voyeurism. Yeah.
| posted by Barbara | 7:22 PM |

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


For the last week and a half, we've been operating on a rather short-handed basis here on my team at work. My boss is on vacation, our marketing manager is dealing with a death in the family, our editorial assistant just got promoted and promptly left for vacation. I feel a bit abandoned. And busy. Very busy. I'm having to be responsible for my own job (which is really busy right now), and also cover tasks for two other people...thus, the AAAAAAAAAA. Because...AAAAAAAA.

Anyway. In digging through some contract info today, I came across a set of production paperwork for an old edition of a book I'm working on now. We have this little question that now states "Is there anything about the author that we should know?" In this earlier version of the form, the question is stated slightly differently. And the answer is completely honest.

Describe the author's temperament: !*@%$!

Heeheehee. That totally made my morning. Thank you, editor back in 1994, you are my hero for the day.

And now...back to work.
| posted by Barbara | 9:01 PM |

Monday, August 22, 2005

The other side of the story.

I spent about 3 1/2 hours in Modesto yesterday in an Amtrak-thwarted attempt to meet up with a good friend I haven't seen in about a year. (Modesto, sadly, is about the only logical halfway point between Palo Alto and Fresno.) Thanks to the wonder that is the cell phone, we got to talk for a bit about mission, ministry, and other stuff that's been kicking around my head as I sat in the Modesto train station and she sat on a train outside Merced. I think it was the first time I've interrupted a conversation with, "Hang on, train passing."

Oddly enough as it turned out, I was initially more worried about my form of transport yesterday than I was about Sarah's. I spent various portions of the drive repeating "don't catch fire, don't catch fire" to my car under my breath. But we made it just fine, and at least my little car got a last trip semi-worthy of mention. One more week, little car, then a bittersweet goodbye.

Anyway, Sarah's just started a blog (woohoo!), and I'm gratuitously linking to her side of the story here.
| posted by Barbara | 8:25 AM |

Caffeine and poetry

We had a coffee house at church tonight, and I stupidly drank the caffeinated I have a few more hours in me before I'll manage to get to bed. Whatever shall I do with myself? Blog, my friends...I shall blog.

Tonight's coffee house was a time for people to share psalms and poems--either written in response to the recent sermon series on the Psalms, or just poems, etc. in general. The group was a pretty good mix of people at different ages and places in life, and it was really cool to hear what everyone had to share. I purposely didn't bring any of my poems with me--partly because I haven't written much lately, and partly because I have a really hard time sharing personal stuff in front of large-ish groups. But it was a great setting, and with what other people were sharing, I felt like I might have even been persuaded to read, had I brought something with me. This is of course all in theory, and had I had a poem burning a hole in my pocket, I probably would have chickened out anyway.

When I got home, I was inspired to sort through some of my poems. I was going through a folder that contained jr. high, high school and early college, pre-creative-writing-class poems, and I came to this conclusion: I have written a lot of crappy poetry. A LOT. I can be pretty sentimental about keeping stuff, but a large portion of that folder got laughed at and thrown in the trash. I feel like such a traitor to my teenage self.

But, when it comes to teen angst poetry of the "I wish he would like me" variety, this one wasn't so bad. It's kind of sweet. I offer to you the following, written when I was in high school in the midst of one of my life's many unrequited crushes. (I may later regret this caffeine-induced posting. Don't mock my high school self, she's sensitive.)


I sit in the darkness,
Are you missing me as much as I
am missing you?
Are you sitting in the darkness, too?
Are you thinking of me
and wishing?
Wishing, like me
that you were here
or I was there?
I wish I could see your smile,
I wish I could hear your voice.
Even though we're miles apart
I still sit here
far away from you,
and wondering,
Do you miss me, too?
| posted by Barbara | 8:17 AM |

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Every time I create a potentially hazardous situation near a manuscript (case in point for the morning: coffee mug to the right, cookies to the left, flipping through MS in the middle), I am reminded of a paragraph standard to our contracts here:

"The Publisher agrees to take the same care of any manuscript, non-print components, illustrations, or other materials the Author delivers that it would take of its own property..."

True, that. I'd probably eat cookies and drink coffee over my own manuscript.

The contract goes on to say:

"...but the Publisher will not be liable for damages, if any, resulting from the loss or destruction of such material."

Sounds nice in theory. In practice, this translates to: Barbara, you're gonna have to assemble that MS from tearsheets again if you spill that coffee, dangit.
| posted by Barbara | 8:14 PM |

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bits & pieces

I didn't bother to get back to work and my computer yesterday. So, no post. And work kicked my butt today. It will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Why must all the manuscripts arrive now?! Anyway, before it becomes ancient history, here's some stuff about Wales and some of what I did when I wasn't HBC-ing or youth night-ing. Maybe I'll post something about Tahoe, Donner Pass, and some cannibal jokes later.

Saturday night. Margam Park for fireworks. We sat up on a hillside in front of a small ruined chapel and had a beautiful view of the valley spread out below us, and the fireworks just off to the side of the abbey. Sorry, no pictures, because I forgot to bring my camera that night. (And I need to ask Jude to send me hers...) Anyway, Chris and Jude were sitting off by themselves, and he proposed to her during the fireworks. Woohoo! She was so bouncy and excited the rest of the night, with frequent exclamations of "Look at the sparkly!" Ah, my Welsh little sister is engaged, and I'm so very happy for the two of them. And it means I know I'll be in Porthcawl again in August 2007. =)

On Monday, we made the traditional evening trip to the Mumbles for ice cream and other yummy things at Verdi's. Many sunset pictures were taken. I love that place. We walked over to the pier later, and Heather talked me into joining her and Melody in an excursion onto the actual pier this time. We've never before forked out the 50 pence admission fee, though posing for pictures with the monkey in a bikini was indeed tempting. This year, we got a monkey picture. The monkey has swings! Who knew?!

Tuesday: afternoon trip to Bath. I especially enjoyed the jokes made by our river tour guide as we passed a former corset factory: "When the corset business went bust, they moved a bit up market and began making doubt an uplifting experience...I'll try to keep you abreast of the history here..." The audio guides in the Roman Baths also provided much entertainment. ("I'm sorry to bother you, but you seem to have forgotten to return your audio guide...") Heather and I amused ourselves at one point by making goat noises along with the audio guide's sound effects. The evening was made complete by a run to Kibby's for fish & chips and a visit to Jude's Gran's house.

Our Wednesday afternoon outing was thwarted by rain, so the young people instead congregated at Heather's "penthouse flat" and played games. Though Muppet Uno was fun, the highlight of the afternoon was a periodically spirited game of Spoons. Fortunately no one sustained any lasting injuries, except for perhaps one of Heather's spoons.

Thursday afternoon, we went to Cardiff, and after Chris and I invented the Fry Dance in the Cardiff Burger King, Heather and I went over to Cardiff Bay. I hadn't been to the bay before, and while Heather sat in a coffee shop and journaled, I explored the Millennium Centre. It was really nice to just wander by myself for an hour.

Saturday was a group outing to Caerphilly Castle for their annual festival: The Big Cheese. The name of the festival amused me greatly. Sadly, there were not nearly as many cheese-themed events as there should have been. Perhaps if we had not missed The Great Unison Cheese Race, I would have satisfied my desire for cheese-themed activities. Del later suggested staging our own cheese race with Babybels on a tea tray, but it just wouldn't have been the same. We did have stomach-churning fun on a couple of rides, though. Then it started raining and we got really wet. Then we went home.

Saturday night, the Irwins gave an engagement party for Chris and Jude, and it was so cool to see their family all together (well, minus the mythical Phil & Lin, who I still haven't met), as Nigel gave a very sweet fatherly speech about Jude and Chris.

After the party was over, Jude and I went down to Rest Bay, in spite of the late hour and the cold wind. It's kind of become a tradition to me (does 4 years make a tradition?) to go down to Rest Bay with one or more Irwins on my last night in Porthcawl. It was awesome to hang out and talk with my little sister, just sitting and looking out on the sea and the lights from the coast reflecting on the water. Rest Bay has become another of my favorite places, even more so because of the memories of being there with Jude and the others year after year.

After goodbyes to our friends in Wales, I spent a day and a half in London with Eric and Melody. We showed Mel a few of the sights and fruitlessly attempted to eat at the Hard Rock Café. And we did the groundling thing and stood in the yard for an amazing production of Pericles at the Globe. Going to London before October? Go see it. Seriously.

Ok, enough. I gotta get to small group!
| posted by Barbara | 3:09 AM |

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Just some lyrics...

Things have been really, really busy this week, and I'm off to Tahoe tomorrow, but maybe I'll get around to posting something more on Sunday when I get home. In the meantime, here's a song that's been kicking around in my head since last night.

Stupid Kid
Caedmon's Call

I think this place is swell
There's much familiar here
I get my laundry done
And I get home-cooked meals
When I'm feeling tired
I can turn off all the lights
Ignore the knocking on the door
Pretend I'm not alive

Daddy, it's Saturday
And I don't want to go outside
And mow the grass today
Would you love me just as much
If I was just your stupid kid?
Would you love me just as much
If I was just your stupid kid?

They tell me that I'm bright
Sometimes I think they're right
But I guess I'll never know
'Cause I won't go outside
Some days it's just so hot
And others it's so cold
Too much exposure to the sun
Would just make me look old

Daddy, it's Saturday
And I don't want to go outside
And mow the grass today
Would you love me just as much
If I was just your stupid kid?
Would you love me just as much
If I was just your stupid kid?

Isn't this Saturday?
Sure feels like Saturday
Wake me Saturday
Daddy, it's Saturday

And my mind wanders off
To things I've never seen
Are these walls higher than the cost of opportunity?
I'm too big for my bed
And I've outgrown my shoes
But my fear of leaving
Is the one thing I just can't lose

Daddy, it's Saturday
And I don't want to go outside
And mow the grass today
Would you love me just as much
If I never got a job
And if I never left your house
Would I be of use to you
If I never amounted to much more
Than just your stupid kid?
Would you love me just as much
If I was just your stupid kid?
| posted by Barbara | 9:32 PM |

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oh, yeah.

Pictures from the trip, if you didn't get enough with the ones below. Wales ones are here. London ones are here. The sheer volume of pictures bears witness to Barbara's first adventure with a digital camera.
| posted by Barbara | 11:18 PM |

Wales and beyond

Ok. I've been meaning to sit down and post something more substantial about my trip than just the few photos that went up last week. The days I was away were crammed so full of experiences that I feel like I was gone for at least a month. There's so much to tell, and it's just not going to make it all onto the blog, but here goes (subtext: long post ahead). I kept telling myself that I'd post once I finished my journal from the trip (yes, I'm STILL finishing, shut up), but church today prompted a bunch of thoughts that I want to include. And maybe writing about some of this will help me to sort it out in my head. Anyway, here are some words to go with the pictures below.

It's weird to come home from a mission trip and answer people's questions about how things went. I always feel a certain expectation to report results of a sort. I think that's partly just me, part of the results-oriented mode I so often operate in, but I think it's also a Christian culture thing to a certain extent. Anyway.

I went into this trip praying for big things. The night before I left, my roommate Joyce shared with a group of friends about her trip to Ethiopia, and one of the things she shared was a desire to "pray big" for Ethiopia. She talked about praying one morning that the rain would stop so that the kids could walk to school, and then realizing that she was praying for a "band-aid" solution, not for the bigger picture. That idea really stuck with me, and I went into this trip with a desire to pray for those bigger things, to look beyond just the details of having things go smoothly and instead to expect big things from God on this trip.

Part of that was a prayer to see kids in my class accept Christ. But God didn't answer that least not immediately, not that I could see during my time in Wales. That was a frustrating thing for me. In so many ways, I could see God working, but I didn't see the "results" that I wanted. And I think the phrase "I wanted" is key there...I was looking for the results I wanted, and God's plan is so often different than what I want.

The last day of the Holiday Bible Club, the Bible story was on the crucifixion and resurrection...purely the gospel message. And the kids in my class were the most attentive that day. I was amazed that I didn't have to interrupt the story to ask kids to be quiet. 7-year-olds aren't the most attentive age, but on Friday, they all listened and were interested and answered questions that showed they were taking in what I was sharing. I felt like I was able to explain things clearly, and the kids were the best listeners they'd been all week. But there were no responses, no kids who said, "Yes, I want to know Jesus!" At the end of the morning, I rode over to the church with Heather, and she asked me how the week had gone. The only thing I could answer was "I don't know." I always wonder if I'm doing enough, if I should have done things differently, if I would have been more effective if I had just...etc. And that morning was no exception. I wondered if there would have been more "results" if I had just done or said that one more thing.

It's difficult to not see results in ministry, and I struggled a lot throughout the week with issues of feeling ineffective and wondering if I really am of use to God. Looking back, I see that one of the things that God was teaching me this trip was to just do my part and trust that He would use it in whatever way He chose to, and in His time. It's a matter of doing what I can and trusting that God can and will fill in the gaps that I leave, either now or in the future.

I had a great conversation with Eric on the train to London. He talked about seeing a change in so many of the kids there that we had worked with over the years...seeing how they had changed since the first year we came, and about the longer-term impact that the team has had in their lives. And it was encouraging to look at it that way--results aren't always seen in the short week and a half that we have there.

God kept bringing Isaiah 55:10-11 to mind: "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." God promises that His word will accomplish His purposes--I just need to trust that is true, and speak His word when He gives me the opportunity. part that I'm home. The whole morning at church today was very missions-focused. The Forum (Bible study I usually attend on Sundays before the service) took the whole hour today to hear from the Marshalls, missionaries who are ministering in Pakistan. We also took some time to pray for the Marshalls during the worship service. God was really working on my heart during the worship following the prayer time, with a couple of songs that mean a lot to me when it comes to thinking about missions.

You Said
Reuben Morgan

You said, "Ask and you will receive whatever you need."
You said, "Pray and I'll hear from heaven,
and I'll heal your land."

You said Your glory will fill the earth
like water the sea.
You said, "Lift up your eyes;
the harvest is here, the kingdom is near."

You said, "Ask and I'll give the nations to you."
Oh Lord, that's the cry of my heart.
Distant shores and the islands will see Your light
As it rises on earth.

Missions has been a passion of my heart for a long time, and I've said for a long time that I wasn’t sure what God was going to do with that in my future. But this morning, following my time in Wales and reflecting on all of that, the focus in worship was like God was asking, "Isn't it about time you started figuring that out?" But then the immediate doubts began...what could I do? What gifts do I have, what do I have to offer to God? Can I really be of use to Him? The service ended with the song "Surrender." I'd forgotten that this was the song we'd been closing with throughout the current sermon series.

I'm giving You my heart
And all that is within
I lay it all down
For the sake of You, my King

It was just another reminder of God's sufficiency and my need to lay down my doubts and trust Him. I don't know what this will mean, I don't know what God is doing in my heart, but He's doing something. And I'm excited, and a little scared, to seek this out and see where He leads.
| posted by Barbara | 4:35 AM |

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I said I'd do it.

Caution: when you wear this shirt, you run the risk of being taken seriously.

And this is what may happen.
| posted by Barbara | 10:57 PM |

Missing People

I’m not a big missing-people person. I mean, I don’t usually actively miss people. I miss them in more of an intellectual, oh-it-would-be-nice-if-I-could-see-them way, but not in an oh-I-totally-wish-we-were-together-right-now way.

But right now, I MISS people. It was weird to come home after this trip. I just spent 11 days hanging out with a bunch of people I love dearly. I left some of them in Wales, some are still traveling, and some are home in LA. And I MISS them.

I’m still in this kind-of-fragile, jetlagged, tired, emotional state, so that’s part of it, but dangit, why do people who mean so much to me have to be so far away? Sigh.
| posted by Barbara | 1:59 AM |

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Welcome to my classroom--home of the 7-year-old Groovy Giraffes! Here begins a small tour of last week's ministry in Wales.
| posted by Barbara | 11:35 PM |

We started each day with a cheesy skit.
| posted by Barbara | 11:34 PM |

My class at music with Heather and Jude.
| posted by Barbara | 11:33 PM |

My class at games.
| posted by Barbara | 11:32 PM |

Some of my kids showing off their completed craft for the day. We made lions!
| posted by Barbara | 11:31 PM |

A rare picture of me teaching--I usually forgot to hand off my camera to someone to take pictures! Here I'm leading a game of pin the tail on the lion. =)
| posted by Barbara | 11:30 PM |

Youth night games. I'm the blurry one. (Could also be titled "Barbara chasing a boy.")
| posted by Barbara | 11:17 PM |

Hanging out after the youth night. Yes, that's a flying pillow.
| posted by Barbara | 11:16 PM |