Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I just want you all to be proud of me because:

   I will be in Boston till September 3rd

   Benedict Cumberbatch is in Toronto September 5th to walk the red carpet at the opening night of TIFF.  Three of his four fall films are premiering there - including The Fifth Estate which is headlining their opener.  He is wrapping up Sherlock S3 this week (WOOT!!) and starts filming The Imitation Game right after Toronto.  But I'm glad he's sneaking a bit of red carpet action in there.  $5 says his hair is both a different cut and color.

But I'm showing restraint (major restraint).  So be proud of me ;)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reviews: Fandom, Fantasy, and the Name of the Wind

Sometimes... I think something is wrong with me. 

Some days I think it would be sooo nice to read or watch something, say "well that was good," put it back on the shelf and move along.

But no.  When I read or watch something - especially if it's expansive - suddenly I'm completely engrossed and I have to know ALL the things.  I thinking about it all the time.  I have dreams about it.  I read theories and interviews and every scrap of information I can find.  I scour etsy and thinkgeek, dreaming of the small, nerdy ways I could show my support (see this Finnick necklace, Avengers earrings, TARDIS journal, Sherlock necklaceLothlorien leaf, etc...).

Basically, this is totally accurate:

It's been happening with Doctor Who for a while. 

But it's happened again.  Last night I finished the 2nd novel in a fantasy trilogy - and now I must wait! Grr... Now is also when I remember why I mostly read dead authors.  I'm horrible at waiting.  And it makes the obsession worse.  Because there are forums and reddit threads and theories galore about what or how things will happen.  It's just... I'm pretty much a lost cause.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I suppose I should give this something like a proper review.

First, due credit: Jennifer, my coworker had been telling me about it for a while and lent me the first book months ago.  Then, in Powell's, I saw it on their "employee recommendation" shelf.  Both excellent commendations. 

The series is called the Kingkiller Chronicles.  It is a high fantasy told in framed narrative by the central character, Kvothe [pronounced like "Quothe"].  When we meet him, Kvothe is likely in his mid-thirties and is, quite literally, the stuff of legend!  Born to a gypsy-like performer's troupe, he is a gifted musician, singer, and actor.  He is a ginger.  He's a quick wit and, from an early age, studies "magic" - something, in this series, much closer related to the sciences than what we think of as magic.  He's an instantly lovable character that acts stupid for most of the first book.  He should be dead many-times over; and frankly it's a mercy on Rothfuss's part that Kvothe is the one telling the story, alleviating unbearable suspense.  (I often have to remind myself, "he survives!  He's the one telling the story, ergo, he survives!")  All in all, he's a gifted hero who has had the most extraordinary, fantastical adventures and experiences.  But in the story's "present day,"  Kvothe is tired of being hunted and so has intentionally "killed off" his heroic character to settle down as a humble inn-keeper.  And yet, even at the Waystone Inn, he can't help being a hero down to his bones.

[One fan's fantastic rendering of Kvothe]

Rothfuss sums up: " In some ways it's the simplest story possible: it's the story of a man's life. It's the myth of the Hero seen from backstage. It's about the exploration and revelation of a world, but it's also about Kvothe's desire to uncover the truth hidden underneath the stories in his world." 

With so many stories swirling about him, he's decided to set the record straight and tell his story with all of it's bruises and misadventures. He agrees to tell his story in three days - with each day taking an entire book. Day / Book 1, Name of the Wind (2008) was 700 pages & explained up to age 15. Wise Man's Fears (2011), the one I just finished, was 1,000 pages and covered about 2 years. So basically, the third book (expected 2014) is going to need to be 5,000 pages in order to finish the story.  JK.  Kind of.

How do I talk about the story without giving too much away? Well, I will start by saying that many would, correctly, label the story "episodic." But while episodes within a single novel tend to break the pace and lead to distractions,  I'm not sure how an author writing a saga could achieve moving the character through new locations and groups and adventures without feeling episodic.  Mind you, many of these "episodes" are 200 - 300 pages long.  I moved from one to the other, reluctantly at first, but found myself appreciating a new cast of characters and becoming familiar with new regions of Rothfuss's fantasy map.  One of the most significant aspects of fantasy is integral world-building, and it is one of the many things Rothfuss excels at.

So what type of these adventures does Kvothe go on?  At heart a wanderer, and after an unorthodox youth - including a stint as a street urchin, Kvothe spends time at University studying the "magic" of sympathy and naming; he fightss a dragon-like creature, he serves at a royal court; he entertains both pubs and princelings with his music; he wanders into fairyland for an unknowable length of time; and he is trained to fight by some of the best mercenaries in the world.  Of course, there is a pretty, mysterious lady in his life too.  All the while, he is searching out dangerous creatures that everyone else take to be the stuff of nursery rhymes. 

"Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." - the Kingkiller Chronicles includes them all.  This series has made me cry real tears.  It's made me anxious.  One time, I was reading it home on the bus, got dropped off at the park & ride and proceeded to sit in my car for the next hour and a half because I couldn't put it down.  Most of all this book has made me care.  Of course I'm rooting for and pretty much in love with Kvothe.  But it's not just him.  I genuinely care to find out what happens to his friends and teachers and the whole realm Rothfuss has created.  I eagerly await the final installment, Doors of Stone, due out sometime next year.  In the meantime, I'll probably meet a lot of other characters and take in many other stories.  But I'll be waiting.  Waiting to hear the rest of Kvothe's tale and hear what comes after.

If you like fantasy or are just looking for an engaging book, you might want to check out this series.  The world, characters, and plot are all well developed and, despite the length, I read both in just over a month.  I should mention this isn't a children's series.  As Kvothe becomes more of an adult there is, well, adult content.  Although some may consider this an immature reason to read - I certainly don't - I will add that at ComicCon last month, it was announced that Fox has optioned the series for a tv show [Watch out, Game of Thrones].  If for whatever reason you do decide to pick up the book, let me know and tell me what you think of it.

I'll leave you with a few favorite quotes from the series:

"Stories don't need to be new to bring you joy. Some stories are like familiar friends. Some are dependable as bread."

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most."

"All the truth in the world is held in stories..."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do you ever get overwhelmed with the reality of existence?  The weightiness of life?  Like you can glimpse some bit of eternity or something.

I've only heard a bit about the turmoil in Egypt.  I read about accidental deaths or murders on a daily basis.  I see hatred in the world. 

I also see love.  I see people do beautiful things.  Even simple acts sometimes make me want to cry.  I see contagious vulnerability and it makes me want to live transparently, generously, humbly. 

Sometimes it seems to be too much.  There is so much of every extreme in this world.  We've found a million ways to divide humanity and only a handful to unite.  That handful of reasons are strong though.  I'm realizing more and more that God doesn't view us through our divisions.  He didn't see the woman at the well as "a Samaritan."  He doesn't see Egyptians or Americans.  He doesn't see race the way we do.  He sees His family - both those who are lost and those who have been found by Him.  We can be so harsh, so critical.  What if I was born in Syria rather than the US?  What if I was a druggie-baby in foster care?  What if I lived in poverty with little educational encouragement?  I am immensely grateful for where and when God placed me.  But how can I take pride in something I had no control over?  So who am I to judge?

The Lord has been speaking to me about seeing the sameness rather than seeing the differences.  I want to love all his people.  This leads some people to think I'm over-sensitive.  But when you truly empathize with another human being - how could I not be sensitive when people say such harsh things about them or, even worse, when they completely ignore them?   I'm not perfect at this.  More than not, I probably do incredibly insensitive things.  I know I don't empathize enough.  If I did, I'm pretty sure my priorities would look completely different.  But I am listening to Father, and I'm allowing Him to change my priorities - if ever so slowly.  But even when it's painful - I'm grateful.  Because when it comes down to it, there is not much of a difference between me and the overlooked, unloved people so far away. 

Today, this is my glimpse of life.  It is a weight on my soul.  But it is also a gift.

There is no great difference between us.  In the words of GK Chesterton:  “We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wake up calls...

It's always good to get reminders that make you pause and "chin up." 

I thought I'd share a few videos, articles, etc... that inspire me.  It's easy as a young adult to see potential and think it should equal results.  But physics teaches us that to convert potential energy into kinetic energy (heat, light, motion), it requires a force applied or work done.

An article that Kati wrote today catalyzed this post.  You should go read it.  Here's a great bit:  "The world doesn't need any more amateur world changers - it needs disciplined young adults, with fires that have burned so long that they aren't flames on wicks, but coals, steady, hot and hard to blow out."  SO good!

Some of you may have seen the TED Talk called "30 is not the new 20."  Incredible!  Meg Jay is a psychologist who specializes in 20-somethings.  Here she articulates the physiological and neurological changes that make the decades of the 20's one of the most pivotal of your life.  I.e. Make the most of it!

The late David Foster Wallace (author, professor) delivered a commencement address to Kenyon College in 2005 entitled "This is Water."  The attached video is a portion of the speech set to some great videography.  He argues beautifully that the true value of education is awareness and empathy.

This year, author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, half of the Vlog-Brothers) delivered the commencement address for Butler University.  Read or watch the speech for some  My favorite bit:  "Try not to worry so much about what you are going to do with your life.  You are already doing what you are going to do with your life."  He talks also about the fact that his job description didn't even exist when he graduated college - so don't give up hope quite yet :)

Some of these writer or speakers may seem to contradict one another.  But contradiction is also part of navigating the 20's (and life in general).  Hope you get a chance to be inspired by one of these.

What has encouraged you lately?

Monday, August 12, 2013


Sunsets and lightning strikes,
Honey-dewed bits of time.
Friends on holiday
take advantage
of summer air, lake,
and verdes--together,
like a free orchestra
for the eyes.
The wonder-seeker
on a student's budget needs
only enough to purchase berries,
baguettes and cheese
to create delight by dusk.
Pedantic conversations
well into the night
leave my soul feeling full.
Poets, political theorists,
pinners and playful children -
I get to count them all as friends.
Reluctant to bid goodbye
to sunny, adventurous days,
no pillow-time till 1 AM.
Or later still.
The mind races, weaving
memories from experiences.
These are moments.
Composed of more than minutes.
Pauses, glances round the table,
cloud watching, walks,
giggles and sighs--
if only we could bottle up
the sensation of summer
to crack open on a grey day
or frigid night.
I cannot say I have regrets.
"What is a weekend?"
But a chance to
sieze those summery days
and make the moments
belong to us.

[pc: Becca]

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ok... Rear Window - mind-blowing film & I'm now fascinated by the idea of diegetic narrative (which is a repetition by translation, though not of connotation). Also, thinking on how art benefits from self-imposed restraints by the artist. So many have gotten rid of those restraints, and their art obviously suffers. 

More to come. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday

Hello, thought I would do another one of these... too many random thoughts for a proper blog-post!

* This.  My sister wrote this beautiful piece on how we use our talents.
I hope that my life will inspire others, not to be like me, but to be like Jesus by fully becoming who God made them to be. We can't hide our talent. We have to get out into the world and use it!

This really challenges my fears.  The other day I was thinking of Sherlock (go figure) and his line, "I'm a consulting detective - only one in the world.  I invented the job."  And then I thought, oh if only we could all invent out our own jobs.  Easier said than done.  I'm still trying to come up with a job description that could possibly encompass everything I'm passionate about.

* Before this year, I didn't know much about personality types or different tests.  I had never taken one that seemed to fit me.  Plus, I know far too many people who live with restrictions based on personality type or birth order - and that bugs me.  Honestly I often want to be like, "So you're saying because ____ is natural for you, that makes it ok.  Quick question - what does your hair look like when you get out of bed in the morning?"  Guess what people, you can choose and you can change!  It's not like you are a victim of being a jerk to everyone.  Ugh... [step of the soap box].  All that to say, I had been kind of wary of personality profiling.  But recently, I've been exposed to a handful of different methods and descriptions and, I have to admit, they've been extremely helpful.  I've found they're best when viewed as an explanation of certain tendencies.  It's helped me realize what my natural disposition is so that I can either 1) act with confidence in certain areas or 2) watch myself for weaknesses.  But I don't want to get into specific tests here or talk about my results.  I've actually been mulling it over because of the recent pair of buzzfeed articles on the woes of being an extrovert and the misunderstandings of the introvert.  I just want to say, no matter what side you land on - you are neither superior or inferior.  Both have such gifts to offer.  I have days where I could identify with either side... but I also have days when I wish I was more or less than what I am and, what I'm trying to say is, you are what you need to be.  So be brilliant at it!

* Doctor Who - I love it.  It's an amazing journey and it's worth all the strange bits.  I'm currently on Season 4 and it keeps blowing my mind!  People ask me to summarize... and I can't really explain it.  I saw this on pinterest, and they did a pretty decent job of it:

Well, this weekend we found out who 12 is going to be.  It's crazy and kind of fun time for Whovians.  A lot of questions a lot of excitement over the 50th anniversary special.  And at Christmas we'll say goodbye to Matt Smith.  [I haven't technically gotten to his seasons yet - though I've seen plenty of him - so I'll save a sappy goodbye post for him till later ;]   But it's a wonderful time to ponder what Doctor Who means and why it's so moving.  I, personally, am really excited to see what Peter Capaldi is going to bring to the role.  I'm sure he will win our hearts handily.
And I must add, that while I think Matt Smith is marevlous... I like the Doctor to have a few wrinkles.  He's earned them with the burden he's carried.

* NT Live - The National Theatre of Great Brittain (which I've blogged about plenty, before) is celebrating 50 years and is presenting special and encore screenings of some fabulous performances in October / November.  Locally, SIFF is providing showings for most of them.  A few highlights:
   - Othello starring Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear
   - Macbeth Kenneth Branaugh's long awaited return to Shakespeare!  Joining him is Alex Kingston (River Song, Doctor Who) as Lady Macbeth
   - Hamlet also starring Rory Kinnear
   - Annnd... encore screenings of Frankenstein with Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch.

I might (quite seriously) go broke.  Ok, not broke.  Just voluntarily poor.  But it will be totally worth it!

* Mercury Coffee - I've fallen in love.

Now see, I have a bunch of coffee snobs for friends (I still love you!  And don't take it too personally, you are from Seattle).  Anyway, they are always like "Let's meet at this place or that place for cofee, they have great coffee."  But you see, it's often a disappointment because I've found this thing about most hipster, authentic coffee places - I don't like their chais.  I'ts not that there chais are bad, they are just usually spiced and, well... if I was a chai connoseur, I would like spiced chai.  But I'm not and I don't.  I want to taste vanilla and I want it to be sweet - not crazy syrup sweet... but on the sweet side.  Anyway...... Mercury Coffee has now got me covered.  I've found a few coffee houses in my time that serve the best chai in the world: Mocafe Chai.  And as soon as I tasted Mercury's (thank you Cami), I had a hunch that was their secret.  Sure enough, it's true.  I looove it.  And thanks to an amazon gift card,  I'm going to be investing in Mocafe Chai at home - yum!  So if you haven't tried Mercury - do it.  I've heard great things about their coffee, and I can personally vouch for their chai.

Alright....... well, I should wrap this up and get back to things.  Have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let the silt settle

The main character of the book I'm currently reading is (among other things) a musician.   At one point, when fretting over the composition of a song, he remembers a saying of his father's (also a musician) about creating in the right time:

Songs choose their hour & their own season
When your tune's tin, there is a reason
The tone of a tune is your heart's mettle
And there's no clear water from a muddy well. 
All you can do is let the silt settle
Or you'll sound sour as a broken bell.

Kind of childish in a way, but something about these lines struck me.  I had to read it several times over.  Though obviously talking about music, I think this advice applies well to writing.  There is a tension between writing for the discipline of it and waiting for the silt to settle.  There are times when the creative synapses overtake the normal functions of my mind.  I've been walking somewhere and had to dash to find a place to sit and take out my journal to keep a thought from flying away.  There have been late nights when I've thought, "No, really, Samara, you need to pause now."   But I know enough to strike while the iron's hot, because I've also been the one sitting, staring at a blinking cursor, waiting for the words to spill.  Even worse, there are those time-sensitive pieces that don't get the attention they deserve and are, therefore, unequal to your wits.  They are a concoction made out of hurried phrases, gaunt emotions, obsequious idioms.  They're evidence Miracle Max spoke truth: "Don't rush a miracle man, you get a rotten miracle."

I've still got so much to learn about weaving a "miracle."  Learning not to rush, but to tread lightly, take pauses, inhale before I exhale.  It's a strange tension to walk - and even harder to forecast creative downbursts - but I am trying.

And I'm waiting for some things to settle.


Celebrating 1 year on the job, today.  Grateful for my experiences, wishing "cheers" to the future :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fireworks: Purple

Oh, hello!

So I had a lovely little adventure the other weekend:  I journeyed to Napa for my cousin's wedding.  And - oh. my. word! - it was so beautiful! 

You might have read about my preparation for the trip here, but that was a bit sardonic.  Now I'll tell you the fun bits of the actual destination. :)

So, we stayed the weekend at Mont La Salle - mission and vineyard.  It was built in the 1930's and there are still "brother's" (basically monks) in residence.  Everything there was so lush and peaceful! 

[Entrance to Mont la Salle]

[Main courtyard - set up here for the reception]

[Beautiful statue of Mary in one of the gardens, the bell-tower (which they did ring for the wedding), and the chapel itself]

[The called my bedroom the "closet room" - but it was actually quite darling!  And looked out over the courtyard and bell-tower]

Saturday was the wedding itself and, as I've said before, I loooove dressing up.  I had decided to go vintage for the occasion and even bought a tilt hat!


[A shot of the updo.  I hadn't dne this one before... but I'm pretty sure I could duplicate and perfect it for future events :]

[The finished product]

[My mom and I waiting for the wedding to start]

[Mom + Dad - he picked his tie to match her outfit.  They're cute like that!]

[My cousin Karen and her husband Hunter - lovely couple!]

[The reception... under twinkling lights]

[Dance floor]

[Sparklers to end the night]
It was a fabulous weekend to spend with family and celebrate marriage.  In the words of Captain Jack:  "Weddings!  I love weddings!!"  Seriously, though, it's a joy to be a part of covenant-making and new names.  The celebration reminded me what a significance God places on covenant.  It's a thing almost too beautiful and powerful to handle.  But how worth it to walk through life rooted so deeply in covenant with other people.  That is worth celebrating!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hello!  So, many have asked about the move... and I'm happy to say that overall it went really well!  It was way less stressful than expected.  Thanks to my dad and our little cross-over suv, all of my stuff was in our place by 10:30 and once my mom got off work, she had things mostly put away by 2:00.  Our great room / living area is quite functional and looks even better than I had expected.

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite details:

1 / We have a working record player.  It was Bek's grandmother's and it came with quite the collection, plus, for some odd reason, we each had a record or two.  We've been there less than 48 hours and have used it at least 5 times [pictured here with the My Fair Lady album].  I'm hoping to get some great use out of that and can't wait to scour thriftshops and record stores to add to our collection.  (I'm really hoping to score a copy of "Buffalo Gal" ;)
2 / Goodbye double-stacked!  I brought - no joke - a dozen boxes of books over to my new place.  Some were small (like amazon package size), but that was only so I could actually lift them.  I'm going to have 2 small bookshelves in my room also - pending this weekend's IKEA trip - but decided to utilize the living room shelves for my "literary" books - classic novels, poetry, and plays.  They're currently sorted by date and author, with special groupings by publisher.  While unloading, I confirmed that I had three copies of The Merchant of Venice - not including the Complete Works.  I know: nerdometer readings high.  But I can explain: I bought a cute paperback in high school, a Norton for school (which I used for 2 different classes), and then in England, I couldn't help picking up a copy published in 1899.  Ok... I'm going on far too long about the bookshelves.
3 / My china finally has a cupboard!  So, a few years back, my [paternal] grandmother gave me her china.  It is gorgeous!  Very classic design with silver rims.  Honestly, if I had my choice of any china set, this would probably be it.  Unfortunately, it's been stowed away in our garage, used only for 2 or 3 special occasions.  But finally, the china has been emancipated.  My mother was gracious enough to give me this buffet (which was originally was her mother's).  I love both how it looks and it's generational importance.  [So come over and let's have dinner on the china!]
4 / Might be hard to tell, but I got new sheets and duvet cover.  I've wanted a white duvet cover for quite a while and finally was able to make it happen.  While at it, I decided to get patterned sheets to off-set the white.  They're grey with little white chevrons.
5 / Another dream of mine,  I've wanted to incorporate one of my favorite color combos (grey, white, and yellow) and with my own bathroom (also a first), I can finally make that happen.  Looking forward to expanding that theme, but towels from Target will do for now.

One final shot: one of my favorite corners of our place.  Seriously, come over.  We'll set the china, throw on a record, and have a grand time!
Was payed an enormous compliment today.

One of the senior principals caught me in the breakroom this morning, rushing to finish a chapter before 8 am.  Chuckling, she told me:

"You know, I always picture you with a book."


Friday, August 2, 2013

Every time I've left home for an extended trip or somewhere far away,  I break down just before leaving.  Whether packing up the vans for tour or at the counter for British Airlines, I've had some pretty teary moments.  I can't explain all the reasons why.  Probably some fears mixed in there.  But I just get overwhelmed with the sense that no matter how good the adventure, I'd rather just stay at home.  Even before my summer in England, right before entering the security lines, I wanted to go home.  I wanted to forget about the whole scheme. 

It's the Baggins and the Took parts of me fighting.  And right before blast off, everything Baggins starts shouting "Stay at home and stay comfortable!"

Eventually the Took side wins out... but I'm having a very Baggins morning so far.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's so strange preparing to move.

I should preface this by saying I have never moved before.  Ever.  I've lived in the same house my whole life.  And, though as I child I kind of resented that,  I'm really grateful for it now.

I'm a terribly sentimental person, and there is just something about being familiar with a place.  Knowing each of it's corners and creaks.  Being able to feel you're way in the dark.  But to be at home means more than being familiar with a place.  It's the difference between knowing about something and knowing it's meaning.  Home means all the trite things about comfort and security.  Those things are all true, but there is something deeper still.  Home means something you can taste but not name.

Despite being sure that you're taking the right step, it's strange to think of leaving that.

To come "home" only as a guest.

To forever try to re-create that flavor.

Haiku for summer storms

Summer thunder storms
rumble, trees quiver, and I
burrow into bed

August means...

... Moving into my own place and starting a new season.

... Celebrating 1 year at my job.

... Finally getting to Shakespeare in the Park this Summer.

... Family Camp [aka - 5 days of Christmas!]

... Last "hurrah's" before friends and family head back to school.

... Multiple film clubs.

... Taking advantage of summer nights by the lake :)

... Celebrating family birthdays.

... An excursion to Boston to see Kristina - complete with a trip to Fenway and a day at Cape Cod!

August means splendid things.  Have a fantastic August!

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
– Thomas Merton

This is the love I seek.  This is the love I want to give.           Borrowed from Uncommon