Posts in 10 things tues
10 things Tuesday: stuff I missed while traveling

I used to post 10 things Tuesday every once and a while and now that #reverb11 is over, I want to commit to blogging more regularly and doing these kinds of features is one way to challenge myself. I'd been planning to write a post about becoming aware of the kinds of creature comforts I found myself missing. So here we go and in no particular order. 

1. My bed. I probably missed my bed the most because it's incredibly comfortable and perfect for my sleep habits.

2. Cooking tools. I was showing my mom how to make my baked potato soup and I realized how much I rely on my Tupperware peeler, really sharp, nice knives and cutting boards. I also missed my large slow cooker, which is easy to clean.

3. Shampoo, shower gel. Because I wasn't checking a bag and only traveled with a carry-on, I had to only take liquids 2 oz and under so I didn't take my shampoo or shower gels, though I do think I have a few shower gels that would have fit the requirements. It was nice to return to my great showerhead, water pressure and other luxuries.

4. My car. Borrowing my mom's car was a bit of a pain. I hated feeling like I was preventing her from getting things done. I also couldn't do whatever I wanted on my own time, like run to Starbucks for a tea, for example.

5. The Keurig. Even though I haven't used mine much lately, I still use it when I want some hot tea at the end of the day or a jolt of caffeine in the morning. With the exception of the night I spent with Lana and Quin who made me Jamaican Blue coffee, I seriously missed my little machine.

6. Sleep machine. Oh my gosh, who knew there were so many weird necessities to my routine? I am on my second sleep machine because the first one died when we had a power outage. The new one doesn't have as many variations of sound but it still has rain, which is what I use most often.

7. The first snow. I never thought I would be sad about missing snow and give me a few weeks and I will be cursing it. But I was really sad that the first real snow happened while I was gone.

8. Routine. I never really thought I'd live on a routine but I do. And while it's nice to not to have a schedule, I did miss the daily things I do, even silly things like watching GMA while reading blogs each morning were thrown off. 

9. My camera. I had the point and shoot with me though I did not use it. Instead, I used my phone to take my 365 pictures. I missed the control I have with the DSLR, especially on the last morning when I noticed intricate spider webs in one of the trees. My phone did not even come close. 

10. Michelle. Of course! But it's a good kind of missing, you know? We spend so much time together that it is nice to have space to miss one another and share your day.  

10 things Tuesday: moving forward
It's official that M and I are moving. We're moving a few blocks down the street into a house. Yay! While moving is crazy stressful, (I've had a lot of practice at it) and there's a lot to do, it's also really exciting. Today I was thinking about all the reasons I look forward to being in our new place.

1. The backyard

I haven't had a backyard since I left Mobile and I'm excited about the potential a yard brings. I want to create a garden and have barbecues and play bags and bocce ball and croquette.

2. The attached garage

No more scraping ice off the car! Also, we'll still have a place to store things like the Christmas tree.

3. The fireplace

There's a gorgeous fireplace inside that will not only provide warmth but also create a whole cozy vibe.

4. Decrease in rent

While we do lose some space, we're paying less for it and it will really help us save money and/or get by, depending on our situation.

5. Getting rid of baggage

Packing gives me a chance to go through stuff and get rid of all the stuff I am hanging onto for some reason or another. I am promising myself to not pack one thing that I don't currently wear. All the things I'm going to wear one day or used to wear are going somewhere someone else can use them.

6. No basement

Okay, so we won't have the storage but we also won't have to worry about flooding, creepy crawlies or peeling paint.

7. Rearranging everything

I'm interested to see where all of our stuff will go, how it will be laid out and organized. New space means new arrangement and I like the feeling of possibilities.

8. The Potential

Though we're only moving a few blocks, we'll have new routes, new neighbors, a new address (sorry family who just got used to the old one). There's a sense of starting new due to the general upheaval that comes with moving. Moving into this house is about moving forward and it's about the possibilities that lay ahead. It seems to represent a change in our lives, one I am not sure I can fully articulate.

9. Recycling and Garbage pick-up

Self-explanatory. We currently only have access to recycling if we take it to one of the sorting stations. When we move we'll have a bin we put out. We'll also have our own garbage pick-up. Unlike in the townhouse where we have one dumpster for 80-some units that is always overflowing, we'll have a dedicated garbage pick-up day and if we miss it, it'll be our fault.

10. It's a house!

Though it isn't totally ours, I haven't lived in a house since I moved here, not really. I've lived in floors of houses but never a house all to myself with a yard and garage. I know there will be some headaches, the whole moving process is a headache, but I'm looking at where the move is taking us.
Why I watch The Vampire Diaries

I'd planned to write about The Vampire Diaries earlier and all of a sudden, the season finale is almost upon us. Tomorrow! I was apprehensive about watching it, at first. I'd read the books as a kid, but while I vaguely remember the plot and characters, I wasn't worried about faithfulness to the original; I was more concerned about how the tween vampire craze might affect the series. I knew Kevin Williamson was writing it, though, so I had some hope.

I am glad I gave it a shot and here's why: (Note: There are spoilers below and you've been warned)

1. Ian Somerhalder

I liked his character on LOST though it was odd, at first, to see him playing such an earnest character. He was my favorite part of The Rules of Attraction and I find him not only incredibly sexy but he's also an excellent actor and one that is often undervalued, in my opinion. Take a look at these clips compiled by a Vampire Dairies fan:

2. It doesn't totally screw up contemporary vampire mythology and seems to understand, at least, in part the evolution of our vampire myths.

Okay, one of the reasons I like this show is because I'm interested in vampire myths. I don't really consider myself a purist, for the most part. But when it comes to vampires, there are few expectations I don't want f'ed with. I'm talking to you, Stephanie Meyer. I like the way the writers explore, twist and expand on vampire mythology. In The Vampire Diaries:

Vampires burn in sunlight. Damon and Stefan wear protective rings so they can go out during the day, but otherwise they would definitely burn in the sun. The books explore this myth as it is how Katherine supposedly "died." The series takes a different turn with Katherine and her death, but the danger of the sun is everpresent.

Vamps require an invitation to enter a house or err, bedroom window, though once invited in, it seems they can return whenever they want.

Though there are no coffins in The Vampire Diaries the vampires do love their sleep. Their house is always dark and there's also a creepy cellar with convenient cells for locking up each of the brothers at one time or another during the series.

Garlic has no effect on the the vampires in Mystic Falls, and Stefan jokes that he likes garlic because of his Italian heritage.

A stake in the heart will kill a vampire.

The herb vervain weakens vampires and prevents you from being compelled.

3. Family Relationships and Rivalry

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for family stories. I love Supernatural because of the chemistry and relationship between the Winchesters and now I've got the Salvatores to adore. Ian Somerholder is a big part of why the relationship between the Salvatores is so interesting. Sure, there's other family tragedies, traumas and other rivalries to watch unfold. It is, after all, a small town. The tension between Jeremy and Elena has been getting thicker as the season wears on, not to mention the tragedy that is Matt's mother, played wonderfully by Melinda Clarke. Then there's Uncle John and Jenna's outright hatred for one another. There's family drama everywhere you look and I like that the messiness isn't saved for just one family or set of characters. But it's the Salvatore brothers' past and present that drive the narrative. It's fun to watch the twists in their relationship unfold and to see that things used to be very different between them. They are certainly one another's yin and yang.

4. It doesn't shy away from the dark

It may take a while to get past some of the lovey, dovey stuff, but the series has been building up some speed toward exploring the darker sides of being undead, the whole thirst for blood issue, for one. The character of Damon seems to have embraced his flaws, his lust and desire a long time ago. Stefan, more recently, has been nobler, trying to fight it, which has been kind of annoying to me, honestly. Enough of the brooding, furrowed brow. However, in the past few episodes some clever and intriguing things have happened that shows the danger in getting mixed up with supernatural beings who can kill you. While, I much prefer Damon's approach to accepting his fate, Paul Wesley as Stefan plays the put-upon conflicted and sad brother well. There's more to it than we realize, at first and it takes almost the entire season to understand how and why Stefan's humanity is important to him and why Damon is able to turn it off so easily. I think Damon anchors the show as the character we hate to love but one that we, ultimately, understand. But there's an inherent danger with him, with them both, that feels more realistic than other stories. There's also gore and blood and people actually dying in horrible ways.

5. Supernatural elements

There are witches, and possibly (it's been hinted at) werewolves in addition to the vampires in town. This is similar to the supernatural mix you get in True Blood, though obviously toned down for PG-13 audiences. Still, it makes sense that if you believe in one kind of supernatural being, you probably believe in others and it would stand to reason that other beings exist. The dynamics between the witches and the vampires are tense and powerful. I'll be interested to see how this plays out in the season finale and in future seasons.

6. The small town narrative

I grew up in small towns and know enough about how they work to recognize the characters who think they're doing the best they can to keep everyone safe but are ultimately deeply invested in the power hierarchies. You can feel the claustrophobia, the drive to get out and yet always getting pulled back in, in almost every scene. There's a familiarity there that makes the series credible, for some reason. I love the history of small towns, and the way they always seem spun, in one way or another. And let's face it, Williamson certainly knows how to write small towns. Besides, vampirism is a thinly veiled metaphor for the way we consume and feed off one another, perfect small town metaphor.

7. Sexuality

There's genuine desire between characters. Elena is attracted to Stefan (and sometimes, Damon) and she isn't afraid to express it. Damon's lust never seems to be sated. It seems like everyone on the show is hooking up and while it isn't graphic like True Blood; it's at least honest about desire, sexuality, and passion.

8. Unlike the female characters in that other wildly popular but utterly horrible vampire series, the female characters here are strong and make their own choices. The entire history of the show is built upon the relationship between the brothers and the strongest female character on the show, Katherine. Though we only see her in flashbacks, the choices she makes show exactly how independent and powerful she is. The fact that Damon has pined for her for a hundred years or so should tell you something about her. The story is anchored by and mired in female relationships and none of the females are predictable or powerless. Everyone looks to the sheriff, Caroline's mother, to protect them. She stands her ground against and often with the "founding families" and works so hard at her job that her relationship with her daughter suffers from her overprotective nature. Bonnie, recently, stepped out of her best friend role because of her personal convictions. She drew a line in the sand that she can't take back, ever again. The friendships between the girls on the show is realistic, honest and thoughtful. They do screwed up things to one another and apologize for it; their jealousy of one another is not subtle but rather explored in meaningful ways. Even, Caroline, who was so easily compelled and manipulated by Damon, stands up for herself against her mother, Elena and Matt. She is suspicious but ultimately, oblivious. Elena asks questions. She questions her own motives as well as those around her and she does not let her attraction to Stefan or Damon, for that matter, control her. She is defiant and lacks fear in numerous situations where she should normally be afraid. Instead, she takes control, often the one to figure things out or in some cases, rescue the boys. Jenna, the aunt and reluctant guardian, knows enough to be protective and she comes off like someone who's struggling between the life she has and the one she feels she could have had but isn't really sure she even wanted.

9. Malese Jow as Anna, who definitely fits into the strong female category and so perhaps, I'm cheating by including her here. I love this actress in this role. We know quite a lot about Anna, now. And all of her decisions seem justified. She's survived on her own for years, adapting to the technologies and advances of each decade. I love that she plays such a strong female, and that the tables are turned as it's her boyfriend who wants her to "turn" him. Jow is a talented actress, subtle and decisive. She embodies this role well and I hope she sticks around for a while.

10. The music Like most CW shows, The Vampire Diaries has fantastic music. Just this season I've discovered: Florence and the Machine, Silversun Pickups and Bat for Lashes while I've continued to love Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, and The Fray among others.

10 things Thursday: Cartoons about which I wax nostalgic
1. Jem and the Holograms

This theme song used to be my ringtone because I loved this show so much as a child of the 80's. What was great about Jem was that she seemed strong both as herself and her alter ego Jerrica Benton who ran Starlight Music and Starlight Foundation for Girls. Only her bandmates know about her secret identity and their main purpose as a band to raise money for the foundation. The Misfits, the rival band, try to upstage Jem any chance they get. And that's pretty much the plot of the show but it's so fantastic and has that great 80's color palette. However, when I showed the video to my students, they looked at me like I was a bit crazy for gushing so profusely about it.

2. The Shirt Tales (Tyg Tiger, Pammy Panda, Digger Mole, Rick Raccoon, and Bogey Orangutan) wore shirts that flashed brightly lit messages reflecting the characters' thoughts. They lived in Oak Tree Park, and spent their time teasing the park ranger, and battling crime. They had an awesome vehicle that could operate as a car, jet, boat or submarine.

3. The Biskitts

For a while, I wasn't sure if this cartoon was real or something I imagined. The Biskitts are anthropomorphic dogs that live on Biskitt Island and guard the crown jewels of Biskitt Castle.

4. Inspector Gadget

My brother and I used to watch Inspector Gadget together. Penny is one of the strongest female role models I had as a kid. Despite the fact that she let her uncle take credit for the crimes she solved, she remained one of the smartest girls on my TV screen. And I loved her.

5. She-Ra, Princess of Power

I recently re-watched some of these episodes and my reaction was WTF? Still, She-Ra kicked ass leading the Great Rebellion and the other female characters on the show were as equally powerful and authoritative. With its vibrant colors, it's visually trippy and certainly "of the 80's" but the messages of the show: responsibility, leadership, friendship and sticking up for what is right are still important messages for girls today.

6.Rainbow Brite

Oh, how I loved Rainbow Brite. First of all, she rode a talking, flying white horse named Starlight. Plus she (and the Color Kids) were in charge of all the colors of the universe. What's not to love? I snuck into my mother's school supplies and took the progress stickers shaped like stars and put one under my eye, just like Rainbow Brite. I danced around with colored ribbons and searched for multicolored bracelets and shoestrings. I thought she was incredibly cool. I definitely wasn't.

7. Thundercats

Oh, you knew this one was coming. How do you not love cat-like humanoid aliens? Especially Cheetera who totally kicks ass. I'm not really sure what this show was about. I think it had to do with protecting a ship or something and trying to get back to their planet maybe. If anyone knows or has a better explanation, please share it with me. Or don't, maybe it's better not knowing.

8. The Smurfs

I've never run into anyone who didn't like The Smurfs, though I'm sure they exist. I watched this show for years and even though the plot was predictable and sexist, I still think fondly of those little blue guys.

9. Transformers

No list about the 80's is complete without Transformers. I watched this mostly because of my brother. I always thought it was cool how the cars transformed but I also didn't really understand, again, what the transformers were, not that it mattered.

10. G.I. Joe

Another one for my brother. Though I enjoyed Transformers and G.I. Joe I probably would not have watched them had by brother not been really into the shows. Most remembered, perhaps, for the PSA's at the end of each show which ended with, "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle," G.I. Joe was about action, good v. evil and American triumph.