My online journal.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Won't you be my neighbor?

I just read in the East Side Review that the government, along with the Pohlad foundation, is offering some serious incentives (up to $30,000 if you're a veteran/civil servant + first-time homebuyer) for people looking to buy houses in our ZIP code, 55106.

Apparently, 55106, along with a North Minneapolis ZIP code, have been the hardest hit by foreclosures.

Know anybody looking for a house? I know several on the market in our area. The east side of St. Paul, as I've mentioned, gets a bad rap -- but we've been here for 7.5 years and are delighted to call it home. Come live here so I can borrow sugar from you!

Little shop o' terrors



OK so this is the pink!

It *does* look a little sprayed-on, mostly because of my superdark roots, and the fact that it really doesn't take on hair that's not bleached almost-white.

Another busy week this week, but it's mostly under control.

Watch Oprah this Thursday (April 30, with Kirstie Alley) and look for me and my friends in the front row! Well some of us are in, like, the 4th row. I'm in the front, blonde hair, reddish-orange jacket over black, next to my friend Carol (short red hair over purple shirt).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pink hair, flat tire

Hm. Well, I guess there's nothing more to say.

I did change the tire All By Myself (including jumping on the tire iron, trying to unscrew the bolts -- thank goodness I still have that extra 5 lb. of winter weight!), and that was a first, so that's something!

And I can't find my camera, so the hair documentation will have to wait.

Oh, and yes I did go see a taping of Oprah last weekend (Fri the 17th, it would have been) and we sat in the front row and the show airs Wed., May 6. And then I stayed out until 5 in the morning and yes it took me six whole days to recover.

And I must be going for some kind of choreography record: 16 different numbers, made up and taught in about 2 weeks. Where'd I put that margarita?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

'Tis burnt!

I'm having a really rough week so I connect you with my sister's AI review, which hits all the main points for me and, once again, our rankings are identical:

http://andsoisallthemeat.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A.I. 4/14/09 -- Top 7

Music from the Movies? Another super-generic genre, not that I'm complaining -- remember the disasters that Billy Joel Night and Rod Stewart Night produce?

But I don't fully understand why Quentin Tarantino is giving musical advice... err, "performance tips" is how he phrased it. It sounded like his credentials are that he loves music. I mean, I love strawberries but you don't see me dispensing gardening advice to aspiring professional gardeners.

I do want to talk a little about how much I love my bed. I love sheets and blankets and pillows. I love my bare, achy feet between cool, clean sheets. I love a fluffy comforter. I love being nestled after a long day of walking the zoo, chauffeuring the children, teaching the dance lessons, drinking with the friends, and roaming downtown St. Paul with the fairly-confident hope that I'm not going to get mugged. Mmmmm, bed. Today's reviews will be colored by how much I love my bed.

Allison -- I don't want to miss a thing by Aerosmith from Armageddon
I wish I could remember correct AP style for movie/song titles and band names. Prepare for some random italics and underlining. Ugh, Allison, the OUTFIT. And the HAIR. I get that you're working a look, but it just looks the Same. Every. Week. I don't think you can wear hair like that every week -- I want to see a color change, or different extensions, or something. Her singing, I guess, kinda rocked, but truly I was bored and I hate writing that but it's the middle of the competition and it's true. The song was so short and all the cuts are distracting. One of the great things about that song is how it builds and builds and explodes at the end, but when you only have 30 seconds to perform, it just comes across as blah and totally forgettable. Think back to past years of Idol -- there are some performances you remember, and then a whole mess of others that just all blend together. This was definitely the latter, though I do think it's good enough to keep her around another week.

Anoop -- Everything I do, I do it for you by Bryan Adams from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
This was a VERY polished, good performance from Anoop. Ditto the last 2 sentences of Allison's review, though. Do you think the people who made this movie thought there were going to be sequels, and that's the reason for the colonic title? Or was it just early-'90s hubris?

Adam -- Born to be wild (no idea on the artist or movie)
ARGH! I'm accustomed to seeing him last! I'm mentally unprepared for sheer awesomeness!! Listen, this guy is Not Normal. But he's so EXCITING to watch! JG and I think Simon's crabby comments are just meant to keep the show interesting -- Simon knows what makes good TV and Adam being Pure Genius every week is getting repetetive (not for me, mind you! but for the average teenage viewer). I'm once again astounded that Adam can take a song I loathe and actually make me want to buy it. Bravo, Adam.

Matt -- Tell me have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman? by Bryan Adams from Don Juan deMarco
Honestly, Bryan must have lost some kind of bet when he was writing this song. A sampling of the lyrics:
If you love a woman, tell her that she's really woman.
If you love a woman, tell her that sheeeeee's a woman!
She needs somebody to tell her that it's gonna laaaaaaast forever
(I love the implication that it doesn't actually need to last forever, she just needs to hear that it will?)
So tell me have you ever really, really really ever ever really ever looooved a woman.

That said, I do enjoy harmonizing with along with Bryan Adams songs -- this one and Anoop's, anyway.

Danny -- Endless Love by Lionel Ritchie from Endless Love
The harp sounds really bad here. The whole thing feels like it ought to happen at a super-cheesy (albeit very expensive) wedding. Paula uses the word tambre and I have to look it up and apparently it's a commune in the Province of Belluno in the Italian region Veneto, located about 80 km north of Venice. Sounds like a lovely spot for a super-cheesy (albeit very expensive) wedding.

Kris -- Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from Once
I know I try to sound all callous and detached from this show; sarcastic and smarmy like a good blogger. But I hear that Kris is singing this song and I gasp, nearly choking on my mouthful of SmartStart Antioxidants cereal. You all know how much I love this song, and this movie, right? And let it be known that I am a bit peeved they didn't mention the singers/songwriter -- hello, the song won an Oscar last year.
Joel made some comment before I knew what the song was, like, "You're going to want to see this one" as though I was in any danger of ffwding through Kris' entire section. But I love that he knows I'm going to get excited about this song.
OK OK back to Kris. I think he made a BIG mistake not using the guitar. The song is MADE for guitar -- the guitar is practically a character in the movie! Without a guitar, a singer is apt to do show-choiry hand motions like raise one hand and clasp it into a fist. The guitar makes the song more real. Also, Kris made some pitch choices that I wouldn't have thought of. Some of them may have been unfortunate.

Lil -- The Rose -- Bette Midler
*Sigh* Lil, you are off-key everywhar. You don't hit the riffs/runs/whatever the right way, and it is making me sad. But the pity boat has sailed and you aren't on it. It's time to go home.


Rockstar:
Adam

Passable:
Anoop
Danny
Allison
Matt/Kris (I tied them because I disliked their performances for completely different reasons)

Lousy:
Lil

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Finding time to go to the bathroom

OK so, right, just as I decide I'm going to slow things down, it turns out several things I'd already committed to start heating up all at once.

Starting next week I'm back at Hastings HS working with their many choirs (though not the show choir) on their spring choral concert. This is the group with 600 kids onstage for the final number. I have 12 different songs to choreograph for them. I'm SCARED.

I'm also volunteering with Ashland's production of Seussical -- using my rope-pulling and leaf-retrieving skills backstage. Or, side-stage. I think I also get to run a spotlight. Yeepers.

Ashland is also staging Seussical at a local Math & Science high school and I have to learn a bunch of choreography well enough to teach it. My first rehearsal is tomorrow evening and I'm actually thinking it will be all right.

I also am teaching Latin dance one night a week, to a group of condo-owners downtown St. Paul. This is a very fun gig, with a great group of people. But I always get nervous teaching grownups!

In addition to all this craziness (and in addition to the creative movement classes I teach that Lu and Ed also attend), the kids have started drawing and theatre classes. As much as I don't advocate getting kids toooo involved toooo young, I do kind of feel like my kids are seeking more structure. And both of these classes are very limited commitment, which is nice.

Aaaaaaannnnnd... I'm going to see Oprah on Friday! I know, this sounds completely out of left field, and it is, but my book club girls have been looking forward to this for YEARS and some tickets became available, and they snatched them right up. I'm not exactly sure how I'm getting to Chicago yet... or where we're staying... and the girls are having a heated email exchange about what to wear. It's really fascinating and I'm looking forward to it. I've seen snippets of Oprah's show but I'm sure I've never actually sat down to watch it. I do really respect Oprah and all she's accomplished and it will be so cool to do something spontaneous, for a change, in this lifetime. OK OK I know I colored my hair yellow and stuff, so I think what I mean by spontaneous is actually more like "somewhat complicated." I was going to add not-very-well-thought-out but that applies to SO much of my life already.

Hey, so the Watsons' old house across the street has been fixed up and is once again for sale. I can't find the price online yet, but if anybody wants to be our neighbor, there are 3 houses right on our block, all up for the taking -- and all seem to be recently relatively well-taken-care-of.

I MUST go throw in some laundry.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And Easter Miracle

OK so we're at the Gronaus this afternoon, and since it was 5:30PM and I'd decided to completely give up any attempt whatsoever at eating healthily today (I had already chowed on lots of jelly beans and Peeps and a bit of Caramello and a Coke and nice portions of the ham-cheezypotatoes-butteredroll-blueberrycheesecake melee that was lunch)... I was looking for food.

Just kind of sniffing around. I didn't want candy, but probably something sweet (because I always want something sweet). But maybe also salty, and a little crunchy? Asking a lot, I know.

Donna and I were chatting idly -- I think she was making mac-n-cheese for Lucy.

I started imagining Puppy Chow (you know, the chex/peanutbutter/chocolate/powderedsugar mess people toss together and serve at parties?). And how good some Puppy Chow might taste. And I glanced over at the corner of the kitchen where Donna keeps her toaster, because that happens to also be where she keeps any homemade or bakery treats that don't require refrigeration.

And there, in the corner, next to the toaster with its darling quilted, ruffled, dandelion-yellow cover, was a round, covered, Tupperware container.

I moseyed over.

I laid my hand on the lid.

I contemplated not saying the following out loud, because it would sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth, for one, and then I'd have to explain the disappointment that was sure to follow. But I said it anyway:

"I really want this to be Puppy Chow."

In the split instant that followed, I caught the first glimmerings of a strange expression come across Donna's face, but before I could even begin to read it, I opened the lid and IT WAS PUPPY CHOW.

Donna burst into laughter at the expression of shocked delight on my face. I threw my arms high over my head, hollered "JESUS LIVES!! IT'S AN EASTER MIRACLE!!" and then we all whooped for about 20 minutes at this completely trivial prayer, serendipitously and bizarrely answered. Well, others whooped as I stuffed my face. Mmmmm, puppy chow.

It turns out, Donna doesn't even LIKE puppy chow, but she'd made it for book club and there were leftovers, so she sent it home with me. And now, in addition to the Easter Bunny's sugary detritus, I also have leftover puppy chow.


OK OK 2 more quick stories: the kids checked out an old Peanuts book from ECFE about the Easter Beagle. I believe it's called "It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!" It's, you know, one long Peanuts strip in book form. It's not really that funny and I didn't really like it or get it, but the kids made me read it a lot before I wised up and took it back to ECFE.

Anyway, this morning Joel and I awoke to the pitter-patter of little feet, followed by hollering: "The EASTER BEAGLE CAME!!! There's eggs EVERYWHERE!!"

Bet we're the only house in St. Paul celebrating Easter with a mythical Beagle.


Finally, on Saturday, Darling Joel took me out on an awesome date, to see Medea Medea performed by dancers from Shapiro & Smith, at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis. Yup, modern dance, yup, it's sooooo weeeeird, but I really loved it and I so admire the performers and choreographers. Supercool, and I didn't have to plan it at all! Thanks Boofer!


Rats! One more thing, then I swear I'm going to bed: shout-out to Mom & Dad Ryan, AKA Grampa & Gramma Books, thanks for the visit! We had such a wonderful, lovely time with them. Mom, Lu loves the new shoes and doesn't regret the Princesses-over-Hannah Montana decision one bit, PHEW.

Joel's come down with a stinker of a cold, or allergies, so I'd better get up there and see what I can do to help. Happy Easter, everyone...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

American Idol 4/7 -- Top 8

Songs From The Year Of The Contestants' Respective Births!

(So Joel got the VCR working! He pulled it out from Godknowswhere in the basement, found a cord, and hooked it up to the TV in our bedroom, which hasn't been using a converter box (yet) because A. it's on a rabbit-ears antenna, when the converter boxes work way better with a roof antenna, and 2. Joel's the only one who watches TV in the bedroom so I'm sorta hoping when the digital conversion is complete and that TV suddenly doesn't work, I'll have a few nights of peaceful drifting-off-to-sleep without the horrid noises of Family Guy in my ears. Until Joel figures out how to hook that TV up to the roof antenna -- which, I'm sure, as long as nightly Family Guy-viewing is in Jeopardy, will magically happen in mere minutes. Regardless, he totally wins Husband of the Year for taping AI for me. AND putting the kids to bed AND cleaning up the kitchen. What a sweet man.)

Randy Jackson was a soupy-cuters baby! The rest of them -- not so much. Who IS this Kara DioGuardi, anyway? She is just perfect for this job: nice to look at, always has something intelligent to say. Kudos to the HR department of American Idol, I tell you what.

So here we go!
It sorta sounded like they were going to do the contestants in descending order of age, but then someone must've realized that meant we'd be stuck with three 1985 songs in a row. It turns out there is a LOT of bad music from the '80s, much of it sung here tonight!

This ended up being a very bizarre night for me as a viewer, as you will see when you get to my final rankings. I *really* tried to take each performance on its own merit, and this week I stuck to my guns despite being contradicted by the judges at nearly every turn. In fact, maybe I should get that out of the way:

Best to worst:
Adam
Scott (!!!)
Kris
Allison
Matt
Anoop
Danny
Lil

Danny -- 1980 -- Stand By Me
OK I did agree with the judges here -- the arrangement was atrocious. I hated the disco beat and also the harmonies. And some of his notes were bad in the beginning. He sounded like a little kid in the beginning. I kind of hated the whole thing. When I first heard the Mamma Mia! soundtrack, I realized that I didn't even like ABBA all that much, but I really didn't want anyone else singing their songs. And apparently I also feel that way about this song (though when I saw the Mamma Mia! movie, I totally changed my mind but that is beside the point here). A bad way to start.

(Side note: I cannot WAIT to see this show "Glee"!!!)

Kris Allen -- 1985 -- All She Wants To Do Is Dance
UGH! Don't like this song either! Thank goodness Kris is as darling as a recently-birthed puppydog, with that twitchy upper lip and everything. I actually liked his rendition. A little.

Lil Rounds -- 1984 -- What's Love Got To Do With It?
And this is where I get confused. Surely Adam is older than these kids? Huh. Anyway, Lil's first note was bad, and it didn't get any better. She lacks Tina's pipes and gams. She's oversinging the whole blasted thing. The judges are harsh but they are right.

Anoop -- 1986 -- True Colors
What is it about Indians? I just adore them. Could Anoop's 'rents be any cuter? Hey Anoop, Sharpay Evans called -- she wants her pink microphone back! Ohh, apparently it's just the lights. ANOTHER heavy-handed arrangement, but not bad at all.

Scott -- 1985 -- The Search is Over
So I guess we're NOT going in chronological order. I might be the only person in America to feel this way, but I LOVED THIS PERFORMANCE. Seriously loved it. Joel mentioned some bad notes but I didn't hear 'em. I liked the mascara. I suppose it's no surprise that I *heart* a big, belty song, but I did. As Kara and Paula were talking, I hollered at the TV: Don't listen to 'em, Scott! and Joel shushed me for being too noisy. I do agree that the electric guitar was very weird.

Allison -- 1992 -- I Can't Make You Love Me
It's weird hearing a 16-year-old singing "turn down the bed." Especially when I realize she is technically young enough to be my child. And... Allison, really, again with the punk look? But the song was solid and the judges are right-on about her needing more personality when she's not performing.

I've never seen an X-Men movie, never wanted to (unless our waiter from Embers back in 1995 happened to fulfill his lifelong dream of getting himself cast, which I'm pretty sure he never did) -- but I would totally pay $9 to see this "Wolverine." Sign. Me. Up.

Matt -- 1985 -- Part-time Lover
I just don't GET the '80s. This SONG! Gaaaaah!! Matt's rendition might have been good, but I just couldn't focus on it. Possibly because Joel was shimmying between me and the TV the whole time. I even rewound it and still couldn't get into it. Sorry Matt.

Adam -- 1982 -- Mad World
I thought this was a song from the '70s -- it has that psychedelic feel, doesn't it? I do not think it is AT ALL fair that Adam doesn't get to hear from all the judges. I mean, honestly -- the judges' opinions sway ME and I'm, like, made of iron! I really appreciate the judges' perspective and besides, even a standing-O from Simon might not be enough to get the votes tossed Adam's way. I'm very concerned about this and am considering writing a strongly-worded letter. What I SHOULD do is vote, but I'm totally not going to stoop to that level again. Jean, do you remember -- was Bo Bice the last time we voted?
Joel made sure I knew that he caught Adam's nearly-off note at the very end. Then, from the replay, it looks like he didn't sing it that way in rehearsal!?!? Inconceivable. I am impressed with Joel's musical ear and I also want to point out that he has been heard plunking around on the piano a little here and there. Soupey-cuters.

Our love is like a storybook story

Just plopped the kids down in front of The Princess Bride in the basement. That remains my favorite movie of all time. We just finished lunch and I just need a little bit of quiet time this afternoon to prep for my dance classes tonight. I can't force myself to sit in my chilly dark basement on such a sunny day! I'm thinking of taking my book out to the van, which is parked facing into the sun in the driveway, and taking my quiet time out there.

Oh... that's right... I was going to use Quiet Time to prep dance lessons. Hmmm.

I was headed down to the basement right behind Eddie, who I watched pause at the top of the stairs, carefully empty his Spiderman backpack and throw each individual item down the stairs, then chuck the whole backpack down before finally progressing down himself after the loot. I wonder if he figured this out on his own -- to toss his stuff down there by itself, first, so that he can descend safely and unimpeded by baggage. Or maybe Joel gave him the idea. It's really cute, anyway.

Lucy is busy planning her birthday party (which, need I remind you, will not be for five more months??). She changes the invite list every day (and by "changes" I mean she just adds on more and more people originally forgotten) and she has made nametag-bracelets for all the invitees. Last night this is what she told me (please note that parentheses indicate she's wiggling "spirit fingers" while talking):

"Mommy do you want to hear the plan for my birthday party. First we're going to go to the pool and go swimming. Then (and I'm so excited) we're going to have tacos. Then (and this is my favorite part) we're going to have chocolate cupcakes with sprinkes. Then (I can't wait to tell you) we're going to go outside and have a fire and toast marshmallows and then (if maybe just a couple people want to) we can sleep in a tent, unless they get scared and want their mommies."

Sounds like quite a party, I can't wait. Nice not to have to worry about planning it!

This morning I took the kids to Choo-Choo Bob's, an all-things-trains store way over on Marshall and Cleveland. It's a wayyy cool store and they have a sweet storytime a few times a month, with a guy who could easily be my father dressed up like a train engineer (striped overalls, matching hat, red bandana) who reads books about trains to the kids and plays guitar and sings train songs. It's wonderful and my kids were elated. Then they have some electric trains up and running for the kids to watch, and they have several wooden sets for kids to play with.

The place was pretty crowded but not uncomfortably packed, as the Red Balloon bookstore was (and maybe still is?) for Tuesday storytime. We got there about 5 minutes late but the kids found a place to sit and I, a place to stand. And then (about 10 minutes late)... a daycare walked in. Three grownups and TWENTY kids in their 2s/3s/4s. Honestly, I was a *little* appalled. And I cut little kids heaps of slack, and these kids were very well-behaved, but seriously? They about doubled the size of the crowd. And afterward they totally monopolized the six or eight wooden train sets in the back of the store. I dunno... if you run a daycare with twenty little kids in it, I think you can bring your kids to the zoo, or the Children's Museum, but I kinda don't think it's fair to bring them to free storytime in a small store. You should have several train sets in your daycare already, with kids that age, and ... I mean... you wouldn't bring them all to the library, would you? Actually, you probably would. Hmmm. Well anyway, the whole thing was a great experience for us, the 20 extra kids didn't really affect our enjoyment of the place at all, and we'll definitely go back.

OK I gotta go find a place to sit in the sun.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Edgar Sawtelle

Hey, so I just finished the book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I believe, in the last couple weeks, that I've recommended it to some of you: specifically Jean, Nicole Watson, and perhaps Carol?

Anyway, I am DYING to discuss this book. Someone! Anyone!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Satin jamma bottoms... so cozy...

So I would really like to spend the $20 to get the wireless converter for our Qwest router. It would be soooo nice to sit on a cozy couch and do this, rather than in the folding wooden chair in the cold kitchen.

It's so hard to know what to spend $20 on.

We're getting an Aldi up on the corner (it's probably 1.5 miles away, but still... a corner!) and I am REALLY excited. Joel says the sign was up today, and the facade definitely is starting to look like an Aldi! I went to the Aldi over at University and Lexington today and MAN you can get a lot of groceries for under $20 there. It's good action.

My Neighborhood Leadership Program thing at the Wilder Center is almost over -- we graduate on April 20. I'm sad about leaving this amazing group of St. Paulites -- in our group of 27 there are people from... well, at least 27 different walks of life. Men, women, moms, dads, childless, gay, straight, black, white, people from East Africa and Palestine and Burma and Mexico and even San Francisco. Married couples, homeless people, divorcees, disabled. All with hopes and dreams to make Saint Paul a better place to be. It's incredible, the things we find in common... and the differences. So many of them have such concrete, ready-to-go notions of how they're going about their community work -- I feel like a flailing poser compared to them. I'm so blessed to have been able to walk through this program with these folks. I feel much less ignorant than six short months ago -- yet I also realize how very little I actually do know.

Joel and I also watched an incredible movie last night -- Synecdoche, New York. It's completely insane and totally blew my mind. I've read on the internets that lots of people hated it (which is quite a feat, considering pretty much nobody's even seen it), so I'm reluctant to recommend it, but I REALLY enjoyed it and want to try to watch it again before Netflixxing it back.

Also I'm really feeling like I'm at a crossroads in life, again... I'm feeling a pull to ditch a lot of my extra stuff, and really focus on the kids. Lucy will be starting some kind of pre-K in the fall (waiting to find out for sure what), and she'll be gone either every afternoon during the week, or three full days a week. Next year it'll be Ed's turn, with Lu in full-day Kindergarten (because that's how they roll in St. Paul). I've got to enjoy my time with these little miracles while I still can... and I have to believe that there will be work for me, outside-the-home work, still available in a couple years.

My mom and dad are going to cringe at this part, but it's an important part of me and so I share: I have been praying a lot about this, and I feel like God is really gently shoving me toward being with the kiddos for now. So in my leadership training today, they encouraged us to commit to our "next steps" for whatever our personal goals are for our neighborhood/community (however we define that -- for some it's their workplace, for some it's where they live). All I felt really good about committing to was working on raising my kids -- and assuming I'll be raising them in St. Paul for the foreseeable future, I think that counts as a "next step" for my community.

But something else tugs at me too -- I really wish there was a place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee in our neighborhood. There is a Caribou Coffee 1.5 miles away (next door to my new Aldi, actually) but it's inside a Byerly's and offers NO place to sit and sip and chat. Otherwise, you have to drive 4-5 miles north or 3 miles east to find a cafe. It's a CRIME!

Let me be clear: I do not think I have what it takes to run a coffee shop. For one, I don't care to get up at 4AM. I obviously have no capital, either... and still... today a guy mentioned a group for women entrepreneurs that finds loans at, like, 2%. Which is purrrty close to free money. And, like... maybe I could sleep in the afternoons? I don't know. I find great comfort in knowing I can give this stuff over to God and see where it heads. I don't need to have an answer anytime soon... but since it keeps coming up... why not me? Why couldn't I do something that would make an incredibly positive impact on my neighborhood? Well, I can think of several reasons why not.

So anyway, in other neighborhood news, we are getting Alley Joel and Cara back in our alley! That's right, they are moving back in. That's the wonderful news -- the crummy news is that our immediate neighbors to the west have their house on the market. Aaand the nice young family 5 or 6 doors down is also selling. Aaaaaand Evelyn the supercute 2-year-old who lives across from the park... they're moving too. It's depressing seeing all the young families vacating the neighborhood. I mean, I get it -- the houses are small and old and close together. And there's NO COFFEE SHOP -- did I mention that? There's certainly no neighborhood identity or character -- I had to stumble on Google maps to find out that our immediate area could be identified as "Eastview" rather than "well, kinda east of Dayton's Bluff -- but west of SunRay/Conway -- north of 94 -- south of Minnehaha." It's frustrating, because I see this as a perfectly valid place to live and remain -- is it because I just have crazy-low standards? Because I don't think we're "good enough" for a higher-class area? Because I feel sorry for our neighborhood and don't want to abandon it?

Anyway this got way long and rambly and I'm praying for guidance and some clarity. Thanks for sticking with me!