katernater: (misc • (nyc))
2011 Scrapbook results:

Total Books Read: 14
Total New Movies Seen: 65
Total TV Shows Watched: 15

A more detailed run-down of the things I liked/loved/loathed in 2011 will probably follow after the first of the year. Have a wonderful (and safe) New Year's Eve, everyone!
katernater: (Default)
Not that I post much anymore at LJ anyway, but with all of the hullabaloo going on over there, I figured I'd blow the dust off this place just in case. I probably won't renew my paid account on LJ this year; that's kind of a bummer, since I've been blogging on LJ since 2001 and have have some very good memories there.

If you're looking for me elsewhere, I'm:
on Tumblr
on Pinterest
on Twitter
on Blogspot
and I've got a Mixed Muses journal here on DW
katernater: (music • (doctor dj))

I have been a Ryan Adams (that's Ryan Adams, not Bryan Adams; if you're looking for sentimental pop ballads, you'd best take your search elsewhere) fan for years, ever since I heard "Firecracker" off of his sophomore album, Gold, back in my undergraduate years. (For some reason, the albums you listen to during college -- arguably your most formative years -- tend to stick with you more than others. They do for me, at least.) I have since seen him twice in concert, the second time being right before his self-imposed "retirement" from performance owing to a case of Ménière's disease, which kept him out of the music scene for close to two years. Now it seems that Adams is back, and in full force. His early work (starting with the seminal Heartbreaker) has developed into a solid, deeply introspective sound that comes to full fruition in his latest release, Ashes & Fire.

This album has earned the top spot in my list of Favorite Albums of 2011. It is Adams at his best: melancholy yet hopeful; earnest and painfully self-deprecating. It is one of those rare albums that I can listen to all the way through, without wanting to skip tracks. Adams's attention to lyrical detail -- honed and sweetly optimistic since his marriage to actress Mandy Moore in 2009 (I know, right?) -- is nothing short of brilliant here. The newly sober, newly lovestruck Adams retains his soulfulness while simultaneously breaking into new territory with tracks like "Come Home," "Kindness," and (my favourite) "I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say."

I highly recommend this album. Give it a try; I would love to know what you think, too.

Ashes & Fire
1. Dirty Rain
2. Ashes & Fire
3. Come Home
4. Rocks
5. Do I Wait
6. Chains of Love
7. Invisible Riverside
8. Save Me
9. Kindness
10. Lucky Now
11. I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say

Get it here.
katernater: (Default)
I got my first taste of the Christmas retail season this afternoon. I am taking the day off of work tomorrow to join Tim in Muncie, where David Letterman and Rachel Maddow will participate in a discussion at my alma mater. Tim and I are going to do a bunch of Christmas stuff after the event (we're going on a "tree tour" at the dean's mansion, then getting a live tree of our own to decorate), so I wanted a new holiday sweater to wear for the occasion (and for the inevitable photographs). I am on a strict budget this Christmas. Other than foodstuffs, gas, bills, and essential Christmas gifts for others, I am putting myself on a monetary fast until the new year. (But look out, January 1: I will very likely be hung over for you and wanting lots of pancakes.)

Suffice it to say that I was not in the market for designer labels, nor was I interested in padding out my winter wardrobe. This attitude is anathema to the average retail salesperson (often known by their scientific name: Gottagetium commissionicus), and as soon as I crossed the threshold of my neighborhood boutique I was swept up in the whirlwind of a saleswoman named Lisa, who proceeded to ply me with so many fibers, textures, and layers that it started to feel like a movie montage. You know, maybe to a Roy Orbison song. Unfortunately, I'm a teacher and not a hooker with a heart of gold, so I don't make that much money. A notion which I thought I made pretty clear when Lisa asked me what I did for a living. "A teacher, huh?" she asked, as she handed me three more pairs of trousers and a blouse that looked like it had come out of a sheet metal factory, "that's cool. You should try on this shirt. It would look amazing with a pair of heels and hoop earrings. All of our jewelry is on sale for 50% off." I looked back at my overloaded dressing room and cracked a tight smile: "I'm a teacher, Lisa. Not the dean."

I finally settled on a pair of black trousers and a sweater, pretty proud that I'd resisted temptation. At the counter, Lisa rang up my order and chatted amiably to her manager that I'd "found some nice items," but that I hadn't decided on any of the sixteen pairs of jeans she'd shown me. The manager's jaw dropped like she'd just been told I enjoy punting kittens in my free time. "You're not taking advantage of the BOGO sale?" she asked, at which point Lisa made a sympathetic clucking sound in the back of her throat. (The jeans, while not outrageously expensive, were approximately the same amount of money that I spend heating my apartment every month.) "I'll come back," I cringed, feeling sort of like I'd just told my ninety-eight-year-old grandmother that I would not be staying to play canasta with her and all of the other nursing home residents. Lisa smiled genially and handed me my bag. "Come back and see me," she said cheerily. I promised her that I would, took my bag, and left.

Now, let me say this: I have a lot of respect for people who work retail. I did it once, for a summer, and learned enough to know that I never wanted to do it again. Nine times out of ten, retail is a thankless job. Customers are needy, or fickle, or downright rude and often see the retail associate as a category of sub-human. I know that Lisa was just trying to do her job. I was never rude to her and I made sure that she knew I appreciated her time, but I never allowed myself to be pushed into buying anything I didn't want. That's the main reason I avoid shopping at places like the Buckle, where you are practically locked in a dressing room by a sales associate as soon as you walk in the door. It probably doesn't help that I experience sudden mood swings while shopping: one minute I'm tooling around the aisles, happy as can be, and the next it's all I can do not to sprint out to the parking lot with a bag over my head.

Afterward, I went over to Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries. When I walked in, I met the eyes of the greeter stationed beside the door. He gave me a world-weary scowl and looked away, intentionally erasing me from his memory.

Ah, I thought, breathing a sigh of relief, my people.
katernater: (house • (pancakes))
So, the Titanic 3D trailer should not have made me as emotional as it did. But, gah, I can't help it. When it first came out, I saw it in theaters something like seven times. Do you know long that movie is? It's more than three hours. Three hours times seven: that's over twenty-one hours. Every day in the world, 490,000 babies are born. The amount of time I spent in the theater watching Titanic is roughly equivalent to the amount of time it took 490,000 people to enter the world. Ri-freakin'-diculous.

My goodness, I can't wait until this week is over. I'll be going home over the Thanksgiving holiday. We've got Wednesday off from school, so I will leave Tuesday afternoon right after class. I'm swinging 'round Tim's place on my way back through town on Sunday. We're doing Thanksgiving with our respective families this year. In December he'll spend the weekend before Christmas up in Fort Wayne with my family, and then I'll join him and his family in Indianapolis for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

...It feels really grown up to say that. I've never spent real Christmas away from my family before. And I don't think I would consider doing that for anyone but Tim.

On episode 1x03 of Fringe and it's started to get weird. I mean. Comparatively speaking. :\
katernater: (actor • (stripey))
I was feeling nostalgic for high school earlier today, for no reason in particular. I just sent off an e-mail to my former concert orchestra teacher, thanking him for the positive impact he had on my life. I told him that I, too, am now a teacher and while I don't teach music, I do carry some of his lessons with me "on stage" every day. Again, I don't know what prompted the retrospection. I guess it's in part because my 10-year reunion is coming up in 2012 and that, when face to face with visions of your high school self, it's hard not to take stock of what really mattered at the end of it all.

In other news, I have started watching the first season of Fringe. John Noble's character reminds me of too many of my relatives for comfort.


Nov. 7th, 2011 09:23 pm
katernater: (actress • (hullo))
I'm sitting here at the kitchen table having just switched the contents of my "fall" purse to my "fall-winter transition" purse (yes, I have such a thing, shut up), writing a couple of notes that I'll drop in the mailbox tomorrow, listening to the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack and drinking Sleepytime Tea.

My life: it's not exactly the fast lane, but it suits me fine.
katernater: (movie • (playboy))
So it's the first week of November and my aspirations of starting a NaNo project have been hijacked by a visit (and two subsequent class observations) by home office, a cold, and an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion on account of both. I don't think I'm going to be nearly as productive as I had hoped this year. This week was pretty rough and I pretty much came home tonight, turned off my cell phone and fell into bed. If you texted or called and I didn't call you back, it was because I was engaging in some pretty serious Kate-and-pillow time and having my cell phone in the other room was roughly the real life equivalent of Frodo and Sam trying to get the ring to Mordor (albeit with less Lembas bread and a great deal more chintz, on account of my pillow scheme) and me starting to come down with a cold, which makes moving an even less appealing enterprise than usual. I have spent most of this evening watching episodes of American Horror Story (with Dylan McDermott replacing Matthew Fox as the most weepy character on prime time television) and mainlining cold medicine.

Last week was my birthday and I had a pretty good time. Tim came up for the weekend and we went to a staff Halloween party (as Johnny Cash and June Carter, respectively) and took a couple of walks, and held hands, and watched a football game, and stop me when this all gets too mushy to bear without an insulin shot. I'm going to Indianapolis to see him next weekend. We've already decided to spend Christmas together this year. There's even been talk of a skiing trip out west, maybe to Colorado. Neither of us can really afford extravagance -- he's a graduate student and I'm making a teacher's wage -- but I think we're mutually agreed upon the idea that, as long as we can see each other, anywhere we go will become like home. For my birthday, he bought me an Escher print (we had talked about our mutual love of Escher and Dali the first time we went out this year, which I really have to give it up to him for remembering), a bouquet of flowers (some of which I am pressing so I can keep), and an X-Men wall calendar of "epic battles" from 1995. (I love that this guy is as brilliant as all get out, but at the same time has total nerd tendencies. Like me.) On Sunday of last weekend we woke up and Tim cooked breakfast for us both -- complete with eggs and rashers and toast smeared with pumpkin butter -- and we listened to an episode of Cabin Pressure while we ate and my god, is there anything better than eating bacon and listening to Benedict Cumberbatch's voice with someone you love? You'd be hard-pressed to convince me that there is. Really.

I'm all caught up on my television shows and don't know what to watch next. [livejournal.com profile] another_myself recommended Revenge, and my dad has been talking up Person of Interest (of which I have watched half of the first episode, mostly because of Michael Emerson), but I haven't really found anything that captures my attention. Do you guys have any recommendations? What are you watching these days?
katernater: (actress • (mature))
There's a stack of boxed wall clocks in the break room at work. The boxes are of a certain dimension that, for half a second, I mistake them for donut boxes. When I remember what they actually are, I become very sad. This happens at least three times a week.

...It's good to be back in the saddle again.
katernater: (actor • (happy))
I volunteered at my family's church this weekend, packing meals for Feed My Starving Children. Initially I wasn't going to post about it because I always feel weird talking about volunteer hours; like, somehow, people will think that I'm mentioning it just so I can say I did volunteer work. But my dad sent me the final totals this afternoon and these numbers are just too awesome not to mention:

In three days we had over 1700 volunteers who packed 404,568 meals, which will feed 1108 children for a year.

Last year our total was 200,000 meals. This year, our goal was to hit 400,000. We hit that, and some change.

It feels really good to have been able to be a part of that experience.
katernater: (misc • (shakespeare))
Just a quick update to let everyone know I'm on term break, not dead. I spent last weekend with Tim in Muncie, then came back home to Fort Wayne on Sunday evening. I've made some progress on my NaNo project this week, which was kind of a big shocker, because I usually just say I'm going to work on something like that and end up watching back-to-back documentaries about giant jellyfish instead. But no! Real progress! I admit that I'm kind of daunted by the idea of actually starting to write this thing, though. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to finish by the November 31 deadline. To be honest, I'm just going to be glad to start the project. NaNo just gives me an excuse to pretend I'll stick to deadlines.

Today I am going to hang out with my dog and read Game of Thrones.

I am also going to try to watch Third Star without crying so much that I throw up.
katernater: (house • (meaning))
It's been a couple of weeks since I've updated, and there's really been no down time in that two weeks. The end of any term is chaotic, this one made even more so by the fact that I had to helm a complete mock trial for my CS 5 class in a little less than a week (which we performed yesterday and which could not have gone any better) and that I've been more active on the weekends than my usual, sedentary schedule is used to. Last weekend I went back to Muncie to see Tim and to attend a friend's wedding. Tim and I continue to enjoy one another's company immensely. In fact, I'm heading back tomorrow for an overnight before I head back to my parents' place for the break week. Tim and I are going to go apple picking in the afternoon, then we're building a fire and camping out in his backyard overnight. I am still trying to figure out when my life turned into a Nora Ephron screenplay.

In other news, I've been completely slacking on my novel project lately. I said I was going to spend all of September outlining, but that never happened. My cork board is pretty barren. I hope to be able to develop some more ideas over the break. I'll lie in bed at night before falling asleep and I'll have these random ideas; sometimes entire scenes will play themselves out in my head, complete with dialogue. I haven't really been active with any other kind of writing lately, so I suppose my creative drive is pooling its resources into the novel concept. If I don't write for a while I start to get irritable. I'll be glad for the upcoming break, as it will give me an opportunity to kick start the creative process. (Which, for me, involves many cups of tea and an all-out staring contest with a blinking cursor.)

I feel like taking a bath. Gonna' put on some David Gray and pile on the bubbles.
katernater: (movie • (2001))

I feel like I need several hugs.
katernater: (actor • (professorial))
Sitting in the main branch of the Vigo County Public Library (their WiFi connection outstrips my eensy weensy mobile phone, so they are aces when it comes to, ahem, acquiring the latest episodes of Doctor Who in a timely fashion) and someone's left a book at the table where I'm sitting. I just had to share the title and back cover synopsis:

A Murderous Yarn, by Monica Ferris

"The art of needlecraft requires patience, discipline, and creativity. So, too, does the art of detection. Just ask Betsy Devonshire--who's learning that life in a small-town needlecraft shop can reveal an unexpected knack for knitting...and a hidden talent for unraveling crime.

Heavens to Betsy Devonshire! She never intended to get so caught up in this year's antique car race. But as sponsor of one of the entrants, she can't help but keep a close eye on the outcome--and it's not pretty. One of the drivers never makes it to the finish line. His car is found exploded in flames. Now Betsy and her crafty friends must determine if it was an accident or the work of a jealous competitor. The answer may be in a piece of needlework, but pinning down a suspect won't be easy..."

Unraveling crime. Pinning down a suspect.

I don't know what I love more: the blatant use of knitting-related puns as a selling point, or the fact that the book itself comes with a free cross-stitch pattern of a car's wheel axle.
katernater: (castle • (beckett))
It is such a perfect day outside: bright, sunny, breezy and hovering right around 65°. Quite a welcome relief from the triple digit temperatures we were sporting this time last month. I wore a sweater to work today -- the inaugural fall sweater -- and I think it had something to do with boosting my overall mood. I like summer, but fall is really where it's at.

There is nothing really of note to report. I've been busy with work, of course, but it's been the pleasant kind of occupation so far; I feel like I'm managing to stay on top of things and successfully handle obstacles when they appear. I've been trying to take a little time each day to meditate, which has also helped with my stress levels. I mean, there's no real science to it (it's pretty much just me sitting quietly for fifteen minutes to a half an hour), but it must be doing something because I am generally just more relaxed day-to-day than I have been in a while.

I've on a big "Victorian explorers" kick the last week or so, especially as regards British exploration of the Antarctic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Scott, Shackleton, that kind of thing. I have no idea where it came from, but suddenly I was overwhelmed with the desire to read ALL THE BOOKS. I'm reading this book now, and I think I'll continue in the explorers vein when I go back to the library. I've heard positive things about The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon and I know the library has a couple of copies, so maybe I'll go there next.

I've also been streaming a lot of camp eighties horror movies. I watched An American Werewolf in London last night for the first time and loved it. The cooler weather puts me in mind of fall, which makes me think of Halloween, which is probably why I've been mainlining creature features.

I'm also putting the finishing touches on this year's autumn mix CD, so look for that in the coming weeks.

Castle comes back soon! Yay!


Sep. 12th, 2011 07:44 pm
katernater: (tww• (flamingo))

That's it. Shut down the internet, it's reached its zenith.
katernater: (doctor who • (far away))
Ever since the X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," I have had a soft spot in my heart for Charles Nelson Reilly. I was too young to really know him from his days on Match Game, or to have seen his appearances on The Tonight Show (which he did something like 106 times), but his role as the sardonic non-fiction science fiction novelist trying to work out the he-said-she-said of an alien abduction in a small town, well, it just stuck with me. I loved Reilly's comedic timing during the episode; I loved the dry wit he infused into that character, and the way that he danced on the border between serious documentarian and literary huckster. "Jose Chung" remains one of my absolute favorite-ever episodes of The X-Files, mostly for Reilly's performance -- and for Darin Morgan's spot-on and heartfelt script.

Anyway, the reason I mention it is because Netflix is instant-streaming The Life of Reilly, Reilly's completely autobiographical one-man show, filmed shortly before his death in 2007. I highly recommend it. Reilly moves seamlessly between moments of great guffawing laughter (such as when he talks about his first appearance on stage as Christopher Columbus, with a supporting cast that included a lisping boatswain), to heartbreak (his father's mental breakdown and subsequent institutionalization), to the philosophical.

At the end of the play, Reilly is talking about how he now teaches these masterclasses of acting students, and how his life experiences have prepared him for the role of teaching. And he's talking about how he sits down with these students, these potential impressarios of the stage and screen, and how it would be easy for him to think that he's sitting alone, when really he's not. In fact, he's sitting with the spirits of the people who have lived his life with him. He's sitting with his mother, and that lisping boatswain, and the man at NBC who told him "gay people will never be on television," and the woman who told him that one day he would be on Broadway, and the thirty students he's lost to AIDS over the years. He never does anything alone because, good or bad, those people and those memories are with him and have made him the man he is.

And I just thought that that was a wonderful idea. I thought about how now, when I'm in the classroom, I'm not really alone either. I'm up there with the spirit of my dad, who gave me the best advice I ever got from anyone -- "Find something you love doing, then find a way to make money at it." Check on both counts, dad. I'm up there with my mom, who always knew I'd grow up to be a teacher, even when I was desperate to prove the contrary. I'm up there with my high school speech coach, who gave me the courage and the platform I needed to get out of a crippling depression. I'm up there with Mr. Mustapha, another educator and changer of lives, who believed in me when I thought very little of myself. I'm up there with Kevin Elliot, my first kiss and high school crush, the first boy to whom I ever showed my underwear. (Not that there's been a lot happening in that department in the ensuing years.) And of course I stand with all of the friends that I've had and lost, and all of the co-workers at cruddy summer temp jobs, and the memories of family members long gone to whom I wish I'd had more than a passing connection. I love that image: not standing alone, but abreast of all of the people who have come into my life and made an impression, taught me things about the world and about myself, and whose influences combined have made me into the woman I am.

I don't know. Maybe it was the movie; maybe I've just been generally introspective this weekend (it's hard not to be, I think). But I'm sitting here, drinking tea and listening to the soundtrack from Life as a House and just feeling very grateful. And humble. And lucky. As complicated as life may get, I think that it's worthwhile remembering that we are not alone, no matter where we are.
katernater: (sherlock • (purple))
I go to the gym pretty much every day during the work week (and often on Saturdays) and have been faithful to that regimen for about a month and a half now. Today, though, as I stood in my office looking out on a gray, chilly campus, I just thought, You know what I want to do more than the gym? Go home, take a hot shower, make some tea, and curl up on my couch. So, huzzah! Here I am. The region is getting its first taste of the weather to come, and it just so happens that that kind of weather goes well with a mid-afternoon nap. I love autumn. It's absolutely my favorite season.

We're already into Week 5 of a nine-week term. I can't believe it; it's gone so quickly! I know that I say that every term, but this one seems to have just elapsed faster than any of the others. I guess sort of knowing what I'm doing contributes to that; when you have no idea what you're doing, each day seems to crawl by, right? I have a really great group of students this term and will be very sad to see them go at the end of it.

What else is new? Ah, I spent half my lunch hour today on the phone with a (very kind and patient) Verizon rep, trying to figure out why the mobile hotspot function on my cell phone wasn't working. It turned out to be something very simple and I felt bad for making the poor woman jump through about six technical manuals to come to that conclusion. I even figured out the problem while she had me on hold so she could go ask someone else what the problem might be. Anyway. The Internet and I back together in a firm embrace (I was without it last night and reduced to finding things other than RP tags and Tumblr to keep my occupied), so I'm happy. It's ridiculous how dependent on the internet I've become. Without it I feel rudderless, like, I'm supposed to entertain myself? Without tomhanksimals? LAME. I don't want to even speculate about what I would do in the event of the actual apocalypse, when the internet would probably cease to be because the satellites have been eaten by space beavers. I mean, I would hope I'd have other things to worry about at that point, but boy, I would sure miss having the internet around to tell me what to do.

I just remembered that I've not yet watched this week's Doctor Who episode. I am a bad fan. :(
katernater: (doctor who • (confidence))
I got back into town about an hour ago, following my weekend at Tim's. Without going into detail about the particulars of the last forty-eight hours, I can say that it met and exceeded all of my expectations. It was so nice to spend time with someone and not to want to be somewhere else. We had a very relaxed, intimate two days together. This morning he made me breakfast and we danced to Frank Sinatra in his living room. He gave me one of his sweaters to wear on the drive home, because the weather had turned cold. We're making plans to see one another again. He's invited me to be his "plus one" at the wedding of a friend in October. It's great, because we seem to be on the same wavelength in terms of expectations; we can clearly enjoy one another's company, but neither of us is in a place where we want to commit to a full-time relationship right now. I feel good about myself when I'm around him, and that's enough for me and the foreseeable future.

I am exhausted, though. The drive from here to Muncie is only about two and a half hours, but I really felt it today. I'm going to run a load of laundry and then settle in for the rest of the evening with a book.

I hope everyone had a very happy Labor Day! Back to the grind tomorrow!


katernater: (Default)

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