Monday, November 24, 2008

The Christmas Card Rebellion of 2008

Since holiday decorations have been up for weeks and carols have been on the radio all month, I thought I'd go ahead and make a pre-Thanksgiving Christmas announcement (and no, we're NOT pregnant): we will not be sending out a Christmas card this least not at Christmas. For those who are disappointed or confused, here's our reasoning:

1. Nothing monumental has happened in our lives in the last year. We live in the same house, have the same jobs, and have nothing new to share at this point concerning our futures.

2. Let's be honest: Christmas card creating, writing, addressing, stamping, and licking is just plain stressful. Especially when you have to work right up until Christmas.

3. Since there is a bombardment of Christmas cards in December, it will be more fun (and significantly increase the odds of people actually reading our letter) if we send one later in the year...say, in March when we find out where we'll be living for the next 4 years.

4. There's no rule that says you have, we're not this year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Living for the weekend

Prepare yourself for a few deeps thoughts.

Why is it that we live our days working for those few and fleeting moments in which we can not think and not do? So often we are motivated by weekends, free time, or 5 o'clock on any work day. We hear it all the time: "I can't wait for the weekend," or "I sure am glad we have Thanksgiving break soon," or "Only a few more hours till I can go home," or "Thank goodness it's Friday."

While I'm not advocating a busy, chaotic, or workaholic lifestyle, I am questioning the eternal value of turning off our minds. Is that not when Satan will attack? when our defenses are down? And doesn't sin begin first in our minds as thoughts?

And when we finally sit down to rest, it isn't typically true, satisfying rest, but the rest of distraction and escapism. We feel off-kilter without our cell phones, like the feeling you get when you take off a long-worn ring. We immediately turn the TV on, open our E-mail, and surf the Internet--simultaneously. This isn't rest but distraction, a need to be in constant communication and interaction without ever leaving the couch. We are in a generation smothered by technology, a generation where technology thinks for us, so we don't have to remember directions or phone numbers or birthdays...or most factual information, for that matter. We bequeath those parts of our brains to cyberspace so we are left with partial brains partially thinking about a portion of reality.

I am also not suggesting that everyone should move to a remote place and become a philosopher. There is great good that comes from engaging the culture through watching movies, listening to music, or less interactively, napping. These are good activities, but they aren't the best, so they're not what we should be living for. It comes down to a question of motive and a question of engagement. By watching a movie, is it self-serving? Do I even consider my motives? Am I using that experience to draw conclusions about Christ or principles for godly living? the culture? to enter into conversation with others?

I find nowhere in the Bible where God instructs people to disengage. Often, however, He calls us to be alert, to examine ourselves, to watch, to pray, to take every thought captive, to avoid idleness. Far too often, I find myself living for that one moment at the end of the day when I can escape through reading or TV or some other form of relaxation. While there's nothing inherently wrong with reading or watching TV, there is one glaring problem: these are not what should motivate our living. To borrow from Paul, "For me, to live is Christ."

Friday, November 21, 2008


I've never seen a movie on its opening night--not Titanic, not Star Wars, not Lord of the Rings, not Harry Potter. I'm not sure if that means I'm uninteresting or just plain smart to avoid all the fans dressed as their favorite characters and squealing at the actors on the screen. I certainly do not make a habit of seeing movies targeting the teen population...on opening the area where I teach. It's a little hard to get away from work that way and some of my students are still baffled by the fact that I don't live on a cot in my classroom all weekend.

However, to honor a birthday promise to one of my favorite 16-year-olds, I accompanied her and several of her friends to the premier of Twilight tonight. And even though I spend time around teenagers all week, I still forget how squealy and ecstatic girls become over what I have coined "romantasy," or a fanciful romance story. That's right: the movie started and girls throughout the theatre squealed with anticipation and excitement. And the first shot of the lead male character, Edward Cullen, provoked yet another round of squealing with additional comments like, "He's so hot" and, "Oh my gosh, look at him!" and, "There he is! He's freaky, but I like that." There was a stirring, a physical current of anticipation in the room, complete with girls giggling and speaking to each other in high registers. I just sat there and inwardly grinned--so thankful to be finished with that era in my life, but also enjoying watching them experience the thrill of a craze. Of course, a romantasy just wouldn't be complete without the kissing scenes, which earned themselves a dreamy "aww" from the crowd. The movie ended with yet another squeal session before everyone began filing out, smiles on faces and brains already preparing a full dissection of each moment of the movie. The matinee was a brilliant time to go because the line for the 7:15 movie was out the door when we left!

While I found the whole spending-the-evening-with-teenagers experience humorous, I was also honored that they would invite me into their social lives for an evening. It was nice to forget bills, Christmas gifts, cleaning, and work for a few hours; for just a few hours, everyone lived happily ever after--romantasy at its finest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Our recent trip to Charleston, SC for Phil's residency interview at MUSC:

I knew when our hotel was flanked by a Starbucks and a Dunkin' Donuts that our trip to Charleston was going to be a good one. When we arrived, we spent the day walking around down town, perusing the outdoor market, walking along the water, and gawking at the old "town houses" (mansions), and yes, taking a carriage ride.

Be it known that neither Phil nor I have ever taken a carriage ride in any city--ever. We prefer to blend in in new places, to look like a local even when we're tourists. I do realize the substantial amount pride and illogicality of that, but it's true nonetheless. However, the history buffs in us won out. We were dying to know the stories behind the buildings, the houses, and the various military forts, so what better way to do that than a carriage ride through the city? Granted, we were the only ones under 60 on the carriage, but it turned out to be quite an educational experience. We sat in the very back and just as I finished whispering, "I hope they don't make us all go around and introduce ourselves," our tour guide had the grand idea of having us introduce ourselves, starting with us, in the back. Phil voted for telling everyone that we were Jan and Kenneth Jorkins, but I introduced us before he could go through with it. When I said we were from Alabama, our tour guide, Matt, said, "Roll Tide," and we were quick to interject that we weren't those kind of Alabamians (Go Dawgs!). Below are some pictures taken during that memorable carriage ride:

Throughout the old part of the city, there were private gardens everywhere, and while we couldn't walk through them, we enjoyed peeking at them through iron gates. It literally felt like some parts of the city were frozen in time.

One of my favorite older houses had an old boot scraper outside the front door and I loved the wrap around porches everywhere!

I broke my sunglasses several weeks ago and bought some new ones at the market--finally!

That evening, we were wined and dined at a delicious seafood restaurant where we met some wonderful people who justified why Charleston is known as the "kindest city in the nation." On Friday, Phil had his interviews while I went back downtown to window shop and take in the water that I love so much. We finished our Charleston experience with a late afternoon trip to one of the beaches there. The fog was rolling in and the sky was beautiful--dream-like gray--and we enjoyed walking and discussing the day's experiences. Although we didn't pack for the 78 degree humid weather, we certainly loved the city and Phil really liked the program. It's definitely in our "fav five."

Monday, November 10, 2008


My brain is a revolving rolodex, a to do list that updates itself constantly--a quality that has proven to be both beneficial and highly frustrating. At any given moment, I am a good 8 steps ahead of myself. Instead of thinking "Let's watch a movie," I'm thinking, "If we start a movie now, it will be over at ______ o'clock, which means that it's probably later than we want to go to bed. So, do we start a movie now and not finish it or do we wait until another time to watch it? And if we are watching a movie tonight, then I need to make something for dinner that's quick so we can go ahead and get started. And we can't have the quiche in the freezer for dinner because it will take too long to defrost and that's to take to someone next week, so I'll have to use something else..." The thoughts go on, but I'll stop there. It sounds ridiculous to type, but I think that it might just be the way females are wired, that whole multi-tasking business.

This self-updating to-do list of a brain does tend to help me use my time well and to be intentional with it, but I have a hard time resting my mind--something I envy in the type B's of the world. The brain that allows me to be extremely efficient and to see a panoramic picture of things is the same one that causes me to sometimes miss the things that matter most, to overlook needs in the lives of those around me, and to err on being too practical at times.

And now, if I don't wrap up this rambling post, I won't sleep long enough, which won't be good since I need to wake up and run errands, make bread, and go to the grocery store...which all needs to happen in the morning so that I can pick up Phil's pants from the alteration place after lunch..............

And while I am lost in tomorrow's thoughts, there are those tonight who are wishing they had hopes for tomorrow at all. What a humbling, worthwhile thought.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bed Farkle

Don't judge a blog by its title. Don't do it. Or you might find your thoughts catapulting in the wrong direction. With that sage advice, let me dispel what bed farkle is NOT: Bed Farkle has nothing to do with sex, farting, or any other bodily function. Bed Farkle is a variation on a dice game, given to us by none other than Dwight Johnson, Phil's dad. If you've never played, it's extremely easy to learn, requires a little strategy, and taps into our universal desire to gamble, which makes it slightly addicting.

Basically, there are 2-6 players who each take a turn rolling 5 dice. Points are awarded for rolling a 5, a 1, or pairs, triples, or straights. You may roll more than once on your turn, but that's where the little bit of strategy comes into play. The first player to reach 10,000 points wins. To read the official instructions, go to

Bed Farkle, then, is simply playing the game of Farkle on one's bed before going to sleep. It's a perfect way to wind down at the end of the day and the uneven, soft surface of the bed adds an extra element of chance when the dice roll (I'm easily entertained).

How could you not want to play a game with a title like that? It's a great conversation starter: "Do you want to farkle?" Prepare to be judged for such a question, but don't worry--farkling isn't dirty, it's just dicey. (Pardon the pun--I couldn't resist)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

R.I.P., Old Faithful.

Today is not just any day. In addition to being the first day of November, it is also the day I replaced my 5-year-old cell phone affectionately known as "Old Faithful." Though I dropped it regularly, it served me without fail until recently when static started coming through as I was talking with people. So, in memory of Old Faithful, I'd like to share with you some "My phone is so old jokes":

My phone is so old that the customer service rep laughed at it when I showed him.

My phone is so old that I couldn't even find a picture of it on the Internet.

My phone is so old that I have had it longer than I've had a relationship with my husband.

My phone is so old that the buttons are rubbing off.

My phone is so old that I've never seen another person with it (which is part of why I love it so much).

So, I am the (reluctantly) proud owner of a new T-mobile Samsung olive green and black flip phone. The guy at the store said, "What features do you want your new phone to have," and I said, "Um, I'd like to be able to call people, but other than that, I really don't care. I'm low maintenance when it comes to phones. No cameras. No Internet connection. No frills." He looked at Phil, pointed at me and said, "Keep that one" and then told me to "write a book" for the rest of the female population that apparently has a different set of values and expectations concerning their phones. I must say that I took his comment as a compliment.

I'm still in the comparing stage right now, finding features I like better and worse in my new phone, but like everything else in life, I'm sure I'll adjust to this new change. But if I don't, Old Faithful is still at the house, tucked away like the Velveteen Rabbit, never forgotten and always loved.