Ten on Tuesday: Concerts, bank drama and diets

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1. Saturday night’s concert was legitimately one of the best I’ve ever seen, live or taped. Thirty Seconds to Mars put on an AMAZING show–Jared Leto isn’t just a pretty face, he’s also a kickass showman. And Linkin Park was pretty awesome–Mike Shinoda is incredibly talented (he was rapping, playing guitar and hitting the keyboards, often all at the same time) and the band did a great job of blending rock, rap and electronic music all into one seamless two-hour set. Being in the pit in front of the stage was amazing. If you’re curious what the venue looks like, you can search “Gorge Amphitheatre” and get some photos that will give you an idea of the sheer size of the place. It holds almost 28,000 people!

Linkin Park tickets

2. I do kind of wonder why so many people purchase pit tickets just to stand there and take photos and videos on their smartphones. No dancing, no singing, no fun? And you know the videos aren’t going to be that great.

3. After all that, I’m worn out. We were up at 5 AM getting busy with all of our other weekend tasks (work, homework, etc.) and then had to make the drive to the venue. We were standing there from 3:30 PM on waiting for the show, and after it was all over we had to drive back home–we didn’t get home until 3 AM! Totally fun, but I’m glad we don’t do things like that more often.

4. The not-so-fun part of my weekend: finding out my debit card info was stolen and someone pulled $400 out of my bank account. Grrrrrr. Now I have to go through the fraud process to see if I can get the money back. There have been a lot of attacks on local businesses lately so it’s hard to even know how the number was stolen. I’m so careful with my card too, so it freaks me out a little. At least my bank has an awesome fraud department to handle these things.

5. We’re supposed to have warm weather with temps in the eighties for the next few days. Yay for an Indian summer!

6. I may just be converting my meat-eating friends to the wonders of a good vegan chili…nom nom nom. Will have to post a recipe soon.

7. On day two of the cleanse diet and I feel pretty good even without any coffee. I haven’t had much of an appetite lately which helps. I’m sure I’ll be craving bread and sweets soon though.

8. One month until a proper visit with the family.

9. I finally got a hold of the eighth Outlander book from Diana Gabaldon (Written in My Own Heart’s Blood) and it’s just as good as I expected. I’m halfway through it but I have to knock out 400 more pages before it’s due back at the library on Saturday. Wish me luck!

10. Go link up with Alyssa here!

Thought Questions, #162-#168

Unsplash Sylwia Bartyzel

(photo by Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash)

I’m back to doing Thought Questions! I took a break for a while because I was just too busy with other things to give them proper attention. But I’m picking up where I left off and I’ll try to continue answering them on a weekly basis.

#162: If today was the last day of your life, who would you call and what would you tell them? Well, I’d call my family and tell them I love them. I wouldn’t want my last words to be bitter.

#163: Who do you dream about? I don’t really know. I have a lot of dreams but they usually involve strangers and are really weird. Sometimes I don’t remember them. Occasionally I dream about having an argument with a friend or family member, which always leaves me feeling crappy when I wake up. I’ll take the strangers, thank you!

#164: What do you have trouble seeing clearly in your mind? Good things. I have a tendency to skew toward the negative. It’s a constant process with me to visualize the good, whether memories or things in the future.

#165: What are you looking forward to? Seeing my family next month on vacation. Being done with my current writing project, which is kind of dragging. Sleeping tonight (I’m still tired from yesterday’s concert).

#166: What is the number one thing you want to accomplish before you die? Writing a book.

#167: When is love a weakness? When you do something morally wrong for the sake of being in love with someone. It’s weakened you because it’s changed the foundations of who you are.

#168: What has been the most terrifying moment of your life thus far? Deciding to bite the bullet and go for a relationship with a guy whom I didn’t know well and couldn’t even be certain liked me in return, even though I was still scarred from my last relationship. Obviously taking the plunge turned out well for me–we’ve been together six years now and married for three!

 

Music Monday: Rise Above This/Never Let Me Go/After the Storm

This was my friend Dan’s favorite song. You can read a little more about what inspired Seether to write this song here. Dan struggled for years with depression and this weekend he committed suicide. I got the news while I was at work on Saturday morning.

He was a funny, kind-hearted, amazing person who made everyone laugh and he’ll be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. I worked with him for about five years and I never once saw him lose his temper or belittle someone. He was always trying to make people smile; even if you were being a grouch he would try to make you laugh and lighten up.

 

Watching someone you care about struggle with depression is hard. It’s like watching someone drown and knowing there’s nothing you can do. Dan used to be the person who could turn any phrase or situation into a joke. He was bright, energetic and a little wacky. Over time it was like the light went out in his eyes. He became more and more quiet and he didn’t smile. People use the phrase “a shell of their former self” but you don’t realize what that really means until you see it happen to someone you know: the outside looks the same, but the responses are mechanical and the personality you knew has started to flicker and fade, like a candle without enough oxygen.

Allie Brosh from Hyperbole and a Half has a really great two-part post on depression (here and here) that really sums it up well. Depression isn’t necessarily about being sad; it’s just that you don’t feel anything at all. And it’s hard to fix a big hole of nothing. You look at someone and all you get is a blank stare, like there’s nothing behind their eyes.

 

Suicide.org lists helplines both nationally and for those outside the U.S. If you are thinking about committing suicide or you know someone who has expressed suicidal thoughts, please call and get help. Don’t try to struggle along on your own.

I wish he would have reached out for help. I wish more that one of us would have reached out to him first. Everyone says you can’t look back and think that if only you’d done more, someone could have been saved, but it’s hard to not think that. This is the second person I’ve lost to depression in two years. It’s hard to not imagine all the pain that person must have felt to go to that point. How alone they must have felt. And how terrible it would be to be all alone at the end.

 

I find this song very comforting. I’m not particularly religious–I suppose I’m a cheerful agnostic–and I don’t claim to know what’s waiting after we die, whether the pain ceases because there’s an afterlife to look forward to or if it ceases because we just cease to exist. But the hopefulness of the lyrics makes me feel at peace. I hope that after failing to find peace in life, he somehow found peace in death.

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Goofing around at work in better times, Halloween 2011

What I read: August 2014

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L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 30, by various authors (paperback, 400 pages). Four out of five stars. For starters, I just want to remind people that while Hubbard did go on to found what is arguably one of the zanier modern religions in the world, he was originally a writer of really good classic science fiction–so don’t let his name on the book make you think this is going to have some sort of tie to Scientology; it doesn’t. It’s an anthology of short stories chosen from a yearly contest, and they’re pretty good; they run the gamut from hardcore sci-ti to fantasy to experimental fiction. If you don’t enjoy science fantasy fiction you probably won’t like this but I enjoyed it immensely.

Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest (paperback, 416 pages). Two out of five stars. I tried to read this once before and gave up on it; I picked it up again and managed to finish it, but I still wasn’t that impressed. There’s an interesting twist at the end but for the most part nothing comes as a surprise. And for a steampunk zombie novel, there seemed to be a shortage of both steampunk and zombie elements. Disappointing.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry (paperback, 179 pages). Three out of five stars. A classic that I somehow never read before, and very interesting–I just wasn’t sure what to make of the ending. Also, it was so short and abrupt–I felt like it could have easily run another hundred pages. That said, I would recommend this to anyone.

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The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie (paperback, 242 pages). Three out of five stars. Somehow I just can’t get into the Tommy and Tuppence series of mysteries, of which this is the first. It was okay, and there were a lot of twists, but it didn’t hold my attention the way Marple or Poirot can.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie (hardcover, 288 pages). Three out of five stars. A Poirot mystery. This one has a really interesting twist at the end. Still, not one of my favorites from Christie.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (hardcover, 552 pages). Five out of five stars. I avoided this book for so long just because everyone and their brother was reading it, and all the hype bored me. Then one of my friends began pestering me to read it, and I did, and I’m so glad–it was amazing. I really like the quirk of using Death as the narrator.

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The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler (hardcover, 336 pages). Five out of five stars. A must-read for anyone. This book is geared to all readers; you don’t have to be a Buddhist or even religious to enjoy it.

I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me, by Joan Rivers (hardcover, 256 pages). One out of five stars. If you think it’s weird to jump from the Dalai Lama to Joan Rivers, you’re right, but the book title caught my attention so I skimmed through it. There are comedians who can talk about people being annoying and get away with it, and then there are people who just cross the line from witty and mean to plain nasty. For example: making fun of children who are bratty or ugly is one thing; making fun of child abuse victims is quite another. Laughing at attention-seekers on reality TV is fine; saying that disabled people use their condition for attention is just wrong.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer (paperback, 399 pages). Five out of five stars. Mormons will almost certainly not like this book; even some strict religious folks of other faiths (Christianity, etc.) might shy away from it, since Krakauer doesn’t pull any punches in dissecting the flaws of fundamentalist Mormonism and by extension, fundamentalism in any religion. A lot of the practices of the folks mentioned here remind me of my time spent in uber-Christian churches as a kid, where women were lectured at length on modesty, secular music was forbidden, and the general mantra of “don’t ask too many questions” was repeated anytime someone asked something inconvenient.

It’s shocking to me to read about the roots of mainstream Mormon and try to fathom why so many seemingly intelligent people would choose to follow this religion. To his credit, Krakauer lays out the history of Mormonism with as neutral a tone as can be managed when discussing “magical spectacles” and the like. This edition of the book also contains a special afterword discussing the criticisms of the Mormon church leaders against the original manuscript and some of the “flaws” they found in the text. It’s a very well-researched look at the religion and the offshoots of fundamentalist Mormons scattered primarily across the Western United States. If you enjoy nonfiction books covering true crime, religious history or journalistic exposes, then you might like this book.