Barbara's Random Thoughts

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Things learned while playing Trivial Pursuit, Book Lover's Edition:

1. If you don't know the answer, it's either "John le Carré" or something related to John le Carré. Failing that, try "William Least Heat-Moon."
2. Lugging out the Riverside Shakespeare to prove that your answer is right and the game is wrong? It works.
3. The other teams will be lenient with the rules if the hostess is on the almost-winning team and she is withholding dessert until the game is over.


| posted by Barbara | 1:11 AM |

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ill-advised abbreviations

I got a package in the mail today addressed to "Barbara Hillaker, Ass. Editor." Um...

You'd think it would be common sense to NOT abbreviate assistant or associate to "ass." But, apparently this is not the case.

When I worked at CC with Sarah, we would often come across amusing abbreviations in the contacts database. Among my favorites: abbreviating "Pastor's Assistant" and "Assemblies of God" in the same way as the above example.

"Hey, Sarah--look at contact number 1607."
"Hahahahaaaaa! Pastor's Ass!!!"

So inappropriate. Ah, the memories.
| posted by Barbara | 9:15 PM |

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Friendship and blogging

Last night, Elise mentioned that she'd been checking my blog to see what I've been up to. Two things occurred to me simultaneously: 1) I should write a blog post, and 2) I should actually hang out with Elise soon.

This got me thinking about blogging and social interaction. I remember reading something on Elise's blog once (you're inspiring me today, Elise!) where she said she was attempting to promote normal social interaction--so if you wanted to know what was going on in her life, ask! That made me laugh, but I agree--the blog is not a substitute for actual, in-person friendship.

Last night, I started thinking about how blogging doesn't replace friendship, but can add to it. I think given a larger context, blog-reading can be quite cool in supplementing actual normal social interaction.

My friend Melinda was my roommate during a semester-long study abroad program in Florence. That semester, we were together almost constantly. Our class schedules differed by only a couple of classes, we shared a room, we went to the same Bible study, we hung out with pretty much the same people, and the traveling we did was usually together. I remember thinking how great it was that we could skip all the small talk about what we'd been up to and start deep, important discussions without wasting any time.

I am always a bit thrown when someone refers to something they've read on my blog, if it's someone who doesn't comment regularly. I kind of do a double take as I realize they're more up on the details of my life than I know. And yet, it's a little bit like that semester when Mel and I spent so much time together. We didn't have to fill in any of the background of each other's day-to-day lives; we already knew the context. Blogs can do a little of that filling in the context--of events and experiences, and thoughts as well. And that's a pretty cool addition to friendship.

I still haven't really said anything about what I'm up to. Oh well.
| posted by Barbara | 10:15 PM |

Monday, January 23, 2006

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Supposedly today is going to be the unhappiest day of the year. Cheery news, that.

Yesterday evening, following a day of "Barbara is stupid" mishaps, I proclaimed that yesterday was a day I should not have been let out in public. (Or allowed to drink caffeine.) So if that's out of the way, perhaps today won't be so bad. (And to be perfectly honest, yesterday ended well--with an awesome book group discussion--so I really shouldn't complain.)
| posted by Barbara | 7:59 PM |

Friday, January 20, 2006

Another story

I forgot about this earlier--an amusing wedding story.

As Heather and Aaron were leaving the church after the reception, Jude realized that Heather was still wearing her necklace (the "something borrowed" had been borrowed from Jude). Heather's mother had no problem with calling this out loudly: "Heather!!! Wait! Jude's necklace!" Heather didn't hear, so it got repeated, louder: "Juuuuude's necklace!!" I was standing next to Anne, one of the Welsh folk who came out for the wedding. I think it was partly an accent thing, partly just a mis-hearing, but Anne didn't catch exactly what was being called out and said to me: "Jude's knickers?!?"

Heather is famous for mis-hearing things ("men follow her everywhere" = "men fold her underwear?!"), so I found it entirely appropriate for this particular mis-hearing to happen at Heather's wedding.

On another note, some things that made me happy today:

-The discussion of "Ahoy" in the comments below
-Getting an email from Justin that began with "Ahoy"
-Getting an email from Jude titled "Holy crapping monkeys, Batman!"
-Looking forward to dinner tonight at Pluto's
-The idea that tomorrow night, I'll be eating Persian food prior to watching The Sound of Music at the Stanford Theater. Worlds colliding in new and fun ways...
| posted by Barbara | 3:10 AM |

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ahoy! (Or, some words about the weekend)

Late Thursday night, a conversation with Heather revealed that I would be in town on Friday in time to go to Disneyland with Jude. For free, since our friend Melody works there and was going to sign Jude in anyway. Woo! We met at the R in the large California in front of DCA. Arrrr.

I had a blast hanging out with Jude, going on a bunch of rides and having both random and serious conversations as we waited in lines. I got soaked on Splash Mountain when I was forced to sit in the very front against my will: "I don't want to sit in front...I'll get soaked!!" "But the smallest person has to sit in front!!" Grrr.

While riding Pirates of the Caribbean, I decided that the word "Ahoy!" is underused and made a resolution to use it as often as I can as a greeting. (Yesterday, Lucinda informed me that "Ahoy" was the greeting Alexander Graham Bell recommended for answering the phone. So there you go--I have a rich historical tradition backing me up.)

The wedding on Saturday was wonderful--Heather looked beautiful (as seen below!). I had a weird/cool sort of fast-forward moment when Jamie (the pastor doing the wedding) talked about the responsibility of friends and family to support Heather and Aaron in their marriage in the years ahead. I started thinking about how long I've known Heather and what our friendship has meant, and then thinking off into the future, thinking how it would be to look back on this day. I don't know if I can describe it. It was just the feeling that this is a lifelong friendship, that there will be a point off in the future where we'll still be close friends and will look back on her wedding day and wonder why it seems so long ago.

I made it through the wedding and reception with only one person feeling compelled to comment on my singleness, so that was a sort of good thing. Another good thing: I managed to avoid getting dragged into the bouquet-catching melee, instead standing on the other side of the room and making sarcastic remarks to Eric. Because standing at the side of the room and making sarcastic remarks really is my forte.

At the wedding reception, I commented to Yolanda that I should request "Tiny Dancer," since it's kind of my song with Jude. ("Hold me closer, Tony Danza...") Literally 30 seconds later, David started spontaneously playing it. I ran over and found Jude: "Listen!! It's our song!!!" We're such freaks.

At one point during the weekend, I handed my CD case over to Jude and told her to change the CD because I was tired of Keane. So R.E.M. went into the CD player and we listened to "Nightswimming" over and over again while driving around on Saturday. This led to the following conversation:

"This is the only song Pete can play on the piano. When we got a keyboard, he spent days figuring out how to play this song."
"So it's like: 'This is my brother Pete, he can play guitar...and Nightswimming on the piano.'"

I spent entirely too much time with Jude this weekend. No, scratch that. I didn't spend nearly enough time with Jude, even though we were together practically every moment from the time we met up at Disneyland on Friday afternoon until we said goodbye at the airport Sunday night. I miss her. It sucks saying goodbye and not being sure when you'll see the person again.

Overall, it was so good to be away this weekend, to spend time with Jude, and to spend some time thinking and praying on my drives. I needed that time. It's also good to be home, though, after so many weekends of being away recently. I'm looking forward to being here for a while.

This is a scattered post, but I figure my blog title explains any scattered writing, right? Another random: Last night, Joyce came in my room and commandeered my couch at about 10pm so she could drink her tea in comfort. We chatted about the weekend and life in general. It reminded me of when Heather and I were roommates, and Heather would randomly wander into my room, park herself on the futon, and share something she was thinking about or reading. Good friends, good times. I'm glad to have good friends as roommates. And you know what? It's good to be where I am.
| posted by Barbara | 3:35 AM |

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

January 14, 2006...

Heather's wedding day!

Me and Heather before the wedding

At the reception with Heather and Aaron (I need to get a copy of the picture from the camera we were actually looking at!)
| posted by Barbara | 7:28 PM |

Friday, January 13, 2006


Tomorrow I'll be back in SoCal (yet again). This time, it's for Heather's wedding. As an added bonus, I'll get to hang out with my Welsh little sister, too.

Jude, Heather, and me

I've actually been rather grumbly about so many trips down south in such quick succession. But today...I can't wait to spend time with these girls and be there to celebrate as my best friend begins the adventure of marriage.
| posted by Barbara | 1:48 AM |

Song for today...

I very much needed to hear this today, so I thought I'd share.

Lori Chaffer/Waterdeep

You cause my heart to sing
You are always listening
You understand my dreams, You do

You cut away my lies
You see through my disguise
You are not so far away from me
As I thought You’d be

You love me as I am
Even when I cannot stand
You whisper in my ear
All the things I need to hear from You

You are a mystery
You bring strong men to their knees
You change the hearts of kings, You do

You love me as I am
Even when I cannot stand
You whisper in my ear
All the things I need to hear from You

You have names for all Your stars
You heal my wounds and kiss my scars
You sing a million songs over me

You love me as I am
Even when I cannot stand
You whisper in my ear
All the things I need to hear from You
| posted by Barbara | 1:35 AM |

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The romance novel meets economics

Not on my "To Be Read" list, but the review is amusing.

Reaching into his brief case, he extracted a compact hardcover volume and handed it across the table.

"The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance," said Enid.

"Yep," said Frank. "By Russell Roberts. MIT Press. 271 pages. $22.95."

"Excuse me?" said Enid, with a start. "Did you really just say all that?"

"No," Frank said. "But if this were a book review, I would have."


| posted by Barbara | 9:20 PM |

Friday, January 06, 2006

Resolutions for the lazy

In the year 2006 I resolve to:

Moon the cameras in the parking garage.

Get your resolution here

Given today's other post, it's probably a good thing I don't live or work somewhere in Maryland with a parking garage.
| posted by Barbara | 9:24 PM |

The Right to Moon

A judge in Maryland has ruled that mooning is legal. This article is hilarious.

The Ruling That Opens a Crack in the Door

At a time when some say civil liberties are being restricted (the Patriot Act is silent on mooning), it may be comforting that the right of Marylanders to moon has been affirmed.

Link totally poached from here.
| posted by Barbara | 6:57 PM |

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2005: Blogged

I've been meaning to write this post, but with the busy-ness of the last few weeks, it's languished in the back of my head and hasn't made it onto the blog. David did a version of this, and I've seen similar posts elsewhere, so this feels a bit like jumping on a bandwagon, but oh well. Here you go: 2005 in posts from this here blog, however self-promoting that may be.

In January, I began the year with some thoughts for the year to come. From February, some thoughts on vocation and making a difference. And from March, a post on friendship, connecting with others, and putting down roots.

Some bookish posts: I went to an Anne Lamott reading, and I ranted about Oprah's book club. In April, I attended a retirement reception for one of my English professors from Biola.

From May, some posts on God's pursuit of my heart.

In June, I went whitewater rafting for the first time, and I said goodbye to a dear friend in July.

And this post still makes me laugh.

I spent time in Wales in July and August, and I finished out the summer with the purchase of a new car and an introduction to the world of driving stick shift.

In September, I enjoyed a trip to Yosemite with YAF, and in October, I went backpacking for the first time. I blogged about a friendship I'm thankful for, and a song I can't stand.

I discovered Rosie Thomas's music early in the year, and got to hear her in concert in December. And I'll round this out with a Christmas post.

2005 was a good year...a year of trying some new things, putting down some roots and deepening some friendships. Not too many big changes, but perhaps the inklings of changes to come. Here's to 2006.
| posted by Barbara | 8:52 PM |

Reasons not to buy books for Barbara

I received three books from my parents this Christmas. They actually chose well. (This was not a repeat of the Christian dating book birthday gift.) The problem was, well...

The first book gift I opened was a copy of "101 Best-Loved Poems." Cool. I flipped it open and realized it was a newer edition of a book my mom has, called "101 Famous Poems." I loved this book and used to borrow it from my mom all the time. So she gave me a copy of my own. Problem is, she gave me a copy of my own about six years ago. So, now I have two. We laughed about this, and I moved on to other present-opening.

Then came book gift #2. My mom started cracking up when I pulled the two books out of the package. This summer, she came across a copy of Roald Dahl's "Going Solo" in a charity shop in England. Knowing that I love Roald Dahl's books, she got it for me. However, she did this twice. She didn't realize that she'd bought two copies of the SAME book until she started wrapping Christmas presents. So she wrapped up the two books together, thinking we'd have a good laugh over it. We did. Especially when I told her that I already owned a copy of "Going Solo."

(I really shouldn't mock, as I'm the person who bought "Cry, the Beloved Country" for Kristy...twice.)

So, I now own two copies of "101 Best-Loved Poems" and THREE copies of Roald Dahl's "Going Solo." Any Roald Dahl fans out there? I'll share. (My sister has dibs on the poetry.)


| posted by Barbara | 7:20 PM |

2005: Read

Here's my reading list from this past year. I've broken it down by category, and the starred ones are the books read for my book club.

Conclusions and observations: I re-read a lot of children's books, and I should read more non-fiction than I do. (But really, who am I kidding? That's probably not going to change all that much.) Only 11 of these were books I already owned in January 2005, but 12 were borrowed from friends or from the library. Still, I have a lot of unread books on my shelf, and I should read more of them. (But then again, I've made that statement before.)

Fiction (16):
Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
The Plot Against America, Philip Roth*
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
Persuasion, Jane Austen
The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Andrew Sean Greer
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruis Zafon*
Good Grief, Lolly Winston
The Clerkenwell Tales, Peter Ackroyd
The Final Solution: A Story Of Detection, Michael Chabon
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin*
Love Letters, Madeleine L'Engle*
Floating in My Mother's Palm, Ursula Hegi
The History of the Siege of Lisbon, Jose Saramago*
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro*

Children's (10):
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
Girls in Pants, Ann Brashares
The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
Judy Moody, Megan McDonald
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
Daddy-Long-Legs, Jean Webster
The Golden Key, George MacDonald
Messenger, Lois Lowry*

Nonfiction (4):
Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi*
The Grace Awakening, Charles Swindoll
I'm Not the New Me, Wendy McClure
Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson

Re-read (7):
The Archivist, Martha Cooley*
The Girl with the Silver Eyes, Willo Davis Roberts
Just Like Always, Elizabeth Ann Sachs
Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Paterson
Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry*
The Giver, Lois Lowry*
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling

Poetry (2):
Red Suitcase, Naomi Shihab Nye
The Complete Poems, Gerard Manley Hopkins

Started in 2005, finished yesterday:
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris

Started in 2005, set aside and still not finished because I got distracted by Harry Potter and it was too big to take on the plane when I went to Wales:
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo

Started in 2005, still reading:
A Thread of Grace, Mary Doria Russell
Game of Kings, Dorothy Dunnett

Total books read (not counting poetry, re-reads, or those last few categories): 30

Most enjoyed:
1. The Plot Against America, Philip Roth (Even though it kinda fell apart at the end)
2. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card (I'm still amazed that I hadn't discovered this until this year, and I have Karen to thank for lending it to me.)
3. The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale (Just a plain old good fairy tale. This was another one I kept thinking of longingly when I wasn't reading it.)
4. Red Suitcase, Naomi Shihab Nye (I've dipped into this collection of poems from time to time, and somehow never finished reading all the way through it. I got onto a poetry kick this summer, and devoured the rest of it. Great stuff.)
5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke (Huge, sprawling, Dickens-ish novel, with magic. It took a while for me to get into it, but I greatly enjoyed it.)
6. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (Over Christmas, I kept wanting to ditch family stuff to get back to reading this. And I know, Julie, you hate the cover.)

Small coda on intentions disregarded by the reading mood of the moment:
Number of specific books I intended to read in 2005: 20
Number actually read from that list: 5
Conclusion: Barbara's not going to make a list like that this year.


| posted by Barbara | 1:40 AM |

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New York City

I spent a few days working in NYC between Christmas and New Year's...but I managed to wander around a bit and see some stuff while I was there.

The huge tree at Rockefeller Plaza

Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza. This would have been fun to do if it hadn't been so expensive and if I hadn't been there alone.

Radio City Music Hall

Standing in line in the rain, waiting for the Met to open. There was an incredible exhibit of Van Gogh's drawings, which was all I had time to take in (snif), but just that small bit was overwhelming and a lot of fun.

I met up with a friend of Karen's and went to the opera with him and another friend on my last night there. It was such an amazing experience...the sets, the music, everything was incredible. Plus, by the second intermission, we all managed to sit together in the very front row! It was the perfect way to finish out my trip.
| posted by Barbara | 3:15 AM |

Christmas with family

Emily and me with the Christmas tree (post present-opening)

Dianna reading to Rebekah and Hannah

Johnny trying on Hannah's new dress-up shoes

This is what happens when Hannah tries to stay up late and see Santa...
| posted by Barbara | 3:06 AM |

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A new destination

Some lyrics. I was listening to this on Sunday morning as I got ready for church, and it was perfect for the day and a beginning to this new year...and some new turns coming up in my life.

To thee I run now with great expectation
To honor you with trust like a child
My hopes and desires seek a new destination
And all that you ask your grace will provide

Grace upon grace
Every sin repaired
Every void he restores
You will find him there
In every turning he will prepare you
With grace upon grace

(From Sandra McCracken's "Grace Upon Grace")
| posted by Barbara | 8:28 PM |