Entries are in chronological order within each category.
Things that Make me Happy:
The first two months

Survey Says:
Fruits of Your Labor

Faithless Saint:
Patron Saint of the Faithless
Pray the Lord your soul to Keep
Just call me Screwtape
Confirmed in Hypocrisy
Relationship Ruminations:

The European Question:
Bringing up Bebe
My Food Log

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Monday, May 14, 2012
Bringing up Bebe
So I've finished reading "Bringing up Bebe" which has been amazing. I love the book. It was everything I was hoping for. I loved the narrator, a Ms. Pamela Druckerman, finding her relatable and absolutely American. While she does specifically write about raising children, which is absolutely mystifying to me, I found some of the truths could absolutely be applied the the life of a young single woman. She writes about how French women view their bodies and how their lifestyles allow them to be the graceful, thin, beautiful and mysterious women we think them to be.

So much seems to be centered around what Druckerman calls "The Pause." While she initially encounters it when learning about how to get her baby to sleep through the night, she points out that The Pause is something intrinsic to how the French live. Patience, waiting, and indeed, pausing, are key to the French woman's ability to remain unflustered and in control of her own life.

Control--I have a complex history with that word! But, even despite my past dislike (at time hate) of the word, I've also wanted control. I dislike being controlled (although I acknowledge that at times it's best for me) and at the same time, I've never been very good at controlling myself. I've often thought that if I was able to do so, others might feel less like they need to rein me in.

So, I do want to be able to control myself. I want to be able to move through life in an effortless way, confident and enviable. I want to know where I'm going, or at the very least look like I know where I'm going.

So, this book gave me a little taste of how to accomplish that goal.

The first book I've come across in my search is the famous "French women don't get fat." I'm reading an excerpt online now and I already find the author to be sniffy, pretentious and full of herself. She's French, so that's to be expected. I remember when I saw an interview of her all those years ago when she was first promoting her book, that I disliked her then too. But the point is that if there is wisdom to be had, I want it.

The excerpt, for future reference, can be found here:
French Women Don't Get Fat

There are several phases, which I am copying-and-pasting below:
Phase one, wake-up call: an old-fashioned three-week inventory of meals.

Phase two, recasting: an introduction to the French school of portions and diversity of nourishment. You'll identify and temporarily suspend some key food "offenders." This is usually a three-month process, though for some a month will do the trick. It won't be a dietary boot camp, merely a chance for your body to recalibrate. There is discipline, but flexibility is vitally important, especially at this key motivational stage: the value of avoiding routine both in meals and in activities, emphasizing quality over quantity.

Phase three, stabilization: a stage wherein everything you like to eat is reintegrated in proper measure.

Phase four, the rest of your life: You are at your target weight, a stable equilibrium, and the rest is just refinements. You know enough about your body and preferences to make little adjustments in the event of any unexpected drifts, especially as you enter new phases of life. Your eating and living habits are by now tailored to your tastes and metabolism, so like a classic Chanel suit, they should last you forever with minor alterations over the years.

Well. Ok. I'm sold, to be honest. There's more on each phase that I didn't bother to move over, but I like the idea despite my dislike of the narrator. I do believe I need a lifestyle change, not a crash diet. And I hate dieting anyway, I'm rubbish at it since I love food so much.

So the experiment begins, and because I hate saying "I'll start that tomorrow, I'll start that in a few days," It starts now.

Posted at 12:43 am by Manda
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

How can I expect him to stay in love with me if he doesn't respect me?

This had been a continuous issue. He has never really respected my time. It's always his schedule, fuck all to me. If I don't reply to a text, he starts concocting stories in his head about how I've run off with another man. But he has no problem letting me think that we have something established and then letting me hang. Whether it is a phone call he's asked me to stay up for or a date, he's cool with flakiness.

I hate flaky people. The only reason I put up with it from Esa is because she managed to condition me to when I was in high school and I needed what friends I could get.

I see no reason to put up with it from some guy who can't admit half the time that he wants to be with me for the long term. At least Esa has given me a lifelong commitment.

It really comes down to respect. I need and want to be respected. I'm not a little girl who doesn't have her own life—or at least, that's what I hope and that's what I know he wants. So why does he push this way? It doesn't make sense to me, really.

Sometimes I think he just wants to test his limits. But I'm sick of always having to play the keeper of the gate. I want something grown up. I want something that is conscious, and self-aware.

Sometimes I think he just wants to test his limits. But I'm sick of always having to play the keeper of the gate. I want something grown up. I want something that is conscious, and self-aware.

In other news, I'm very proud that I stopped myself from eating that whole piece of cake, and that ate only one Easy Mac cup. After that I was full, and did not continue the mindless eating.

Also, discovered Explore.org today. Pretty cool. Could not find the name of the mysterious plant I want so much. I'll have to just hope it's still at the nursery if I get the job.

Please, please please please let me get the job. I'm so desperate to move on.

And this "Bring up Bebe" book is the best thing every. Life changer.

Posted at 01:26 am by Manda
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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Things that make me happy: The first 2 months.
Feeling unhappy, so thought I'd review before I start thinking I can fly like Eric.

January 26, 2005
1. Having a full schedule and still managing to attend everything.

2. Finishing the assigned reading.

3. My white bowl from the caf. It's simple and elegant.

4. Writing pompous and over-done letters to friends, pretending to be a 19th century socialite from a Jane Austen novel. That's real fun.

5. Kate's "Dick Blick" magnet on our fridge. It makes our fridge artsy and colorful.

6. Colorful envelopes.

7. Owning a "Things that make me happy" book.

8. Seeing a spoon stuck to the caf wall.

January 27, 2005
8. Quote written on CFA classroom blackboard, "Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working."

9. When my CD player cut out at exactly 8am, signaling my work was done.

10. Seeing the backstage doors at Harbach Theatre. Biggest doors ever!

11. Sneaking into the CFA art studio in the early morning hours.

12. Ground chili pepper. It adds zest to everything.

13. The view out of my drama and english classroom, because the scenery looks like a dull color spectrum.

14. Vacuuming the Round Room and seeing Andy's photos hanging up on the walls.

15. Scooter teaching my about the sphenoid bone.

16. Getting a mail package from my mom.

17. Knowing Odo is the chef from "The Little Mermaid."

18. Twisting the Bible to suit my own needs.

January 29, 2005
19. Freaking out Andrew.

20. Watching movies with flying Asians. (Hero, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon)

21. Indian (as in, from India) dancers.

22. Easy Mac.

23. Battlestar Galactica. It's so good!

January 30, 2005
24. Matt's new blue chairs.
From the piece of paper in Matt's pocket that said "Pay debt."
"Maybe it means you should pay off your debt to society."--Me
"I don't want to kill myself!"--Matt

January 31, 2005
25. The quotes that are on the CFA blackboard every morning.

26. Purple pens.

27. Carmen's cooking.

February 1, 2005
28. Chocolate-chocolate chip cookies.

29. Stickers.

February 2, 2005
30. West Wing (with Andrew.)

31. Hot chocolate.

32. Mark's sexual innuendos. They are SO unexpected.

February 6, 2005
33. Home-made pizza.

34. Birthday candles.

35. Ice cream and cake.

February 12, 2005

36. Sparkly pens.

37. Cute V-day shirts.

38. Andrea's keys.

39. Old mirrors, whose glass is fogged with age and frames are battered.

40. The Chocolate Festival!

February 14, 2005
41. Cookies and cream ice cream.

42. My Little ponies.

43. When people compliment my hair.

44. Playing with my pony's hair.

February 17, 2005

45. Andrew.

46. Making blog banners for my friends.

47. Avocados.

48. Teresa's latest poem, the one she wrote for Sin.

49. Getting an answer right in class.

50. Finishing my essay early.

51. The still-life paintings in CFA. For once, beautiful art.

52. Red, fresh roses.

53. Sir Wardley. (My fish)

54. Gizmo burgers & Spudsters.

55. Getting my lost pony back.

56. Making up rumors about Christian. Poor Christian.

57. Seeing a good play. (Like Proofs.)

February 19, 2005

58. Knowing that Esa finally broke up with the Neanderthal.

February 23, 2005

59. Finally getting a prospie.

60. My Aunt Trecka's necklace.

61. Brightly colored scarves.

62. Mexican hot chocolate.

February 27, 2005
63. Walt Witman's "Massacre of Goliad." I miss Texas.

Posted at 12:49 pm by Manda
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Fruits of your Labor
Your children: None. Thank the good Lord.

Your pets: Night Wiggleworm Villarreal, my brother's long-haired black cat. I love him so much and consider him to be the best animal on earth.

You live: In my parents' house.

Your transportation: A gold 2002 Malibu named Lockhart.

Your approximate annual income: As I currently live off unemployment, $800 every 4 weeks, so presumably 11,200...but that ends in another 2,000 dollars, so after that my approximate annual income is starvation and humiliation.

[  ] You are making more money than ever before
[X] You always thought you'd make more money
[  ] You never expected to make this much money

Your watch: I don't wear watches. That's what phones are for, and I prefer a single, elegant bracelet. But if I did, it would be a Fossil.

Your cologne or perfume: Dolce & Gabbana's Rose the One makes me feel sophisticated, happy, elegant, and serene. I like Coach's fragrances also, but would only wear them to satisfy Josh, who apparently adores them.

Something important on your desk: I don't have a desk. On my beside table is a vintage glass lamp handpainted with roses, a wooden carved jewel box lined with blue velvet that hold peacock feathers, and a wooden cross from my grandpa and grandma's mantle.

On your wall hangs: A large mirror from Indonesia, the wood painted sea-green. A painting from Mexico my parents purchase for my grandmother, that used to hang in her dining room.

When you sleep you wear: Underwear only. If it's cold I'll put on soft pajama pants and a Henley.

If you had a safe, you would keep: Probably nothing in it because I find safes incredibly inconvenient.

Under your bed or in your closet you hide: Hundreds of Journals.

Things you like to buy: Shiny, glittery, glass, satiny, colourful, luxurious, impractical things.

If you could afford it at this moment, you would buy: A new iPhone. Jimmy Choos. That D&G Rose the One perfume I love. Sun dresses that fit me. A Jeep. That grey bush with tiny pink roses at Rainbow gardens. A Banana Republic raincoat. Really awesome color-blocked high heels. A Oscar de la Renta dress. A colourful jewelled necklace, with all real stones. Lorraine Schwartz three-drop earrings. A hair-free body.

You collect: Aldo shoes. Earrings. Coloured glass. Exotic plants. My little ponies. James Avery.

You don't have a lot of: Patience.

Your strangest possession: A dead tiger swallowtail butterfly that I keep in a glass jar.
Or the lock of hair I keep in a jar of sand.

Your most expensive possession: My degree. Or the contents of my mother of pearl Korean jewellery box.

Your prized possession: Anything my Grandma Vicki gave me.

Material possessions: are the best. They sooth the soul and ground the mind.

Your house is burning. Save three things:

1. Journals
2. Jewelry
3. Photos

Posted at 10:40 pm by Manda
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A color you like to wear: Green. Or Honeysuckle red. Or anything that conjures images of a peacock or Caribbean waters.

Regardless of size or circumstance, an animal you would like to own as a pet:
A Unicorn. Jaguar. Ocelot. Cheetah. Chameleon. Corn snake.

A flower you would like to grow in your garden: Mountain Laurel, Honeysuckle, Pride of Barbados, Chinaberry Tree, Angel's Earrings, Bleeding Hearts, Angel trumpet, trumpet vine, lilacs, magnolias

A smell that makes you pause: Mountain Laurels, honeysuckle, Dolce & Gabbana's Rose the One

A taste that makes you melt: Moonstruck Chocolates

A hobby that occupies your time: Cooking, sewing little felt creatures, gardening

A sport your enjoy watching: Spurs basketball, college football, high school soccer, Olympic swimming

A sport you enjoy playing: Almost anything, as long as it's ok that I suck at it

A city you would like to visit: Rome

A country you would like to explore: Morocco, India

Favourite meal: mac & cheese, chicken divan

A drink you often order: Unsweet iced tea, coke, hot chocolate

A delicious dessert: Chocolate cheesecake

A game you like to play: Checkers, Tap Tap Revenge 3, that medieval game on facebook I play with Eric

A book you strongly recommend: Rain of Gold

An author who has affected you: Richard Peck, Francesca Lia Block, Victor Villasenor, HG Carrillo

The magazine you read most frequently: Glamour

The newspaper you prefer to read on Sundays: SA Express News, of course. Comics first, Weekender second, glance over headlines on section 1 and Metro, finish with Taste

Music you prefer to listen to when you are alone: Stuff I liked in high school and anything that makes me want to dance

Who you currently listen to the most: Lana Del Rey

A film you could watch over and over: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Love Acutally, Star Trek

A director you admire: As if I care.

An actress whose performances you admire: Emma Stone, Keira Knightley

An actor whose performances you admire: Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr.

A TV show you watch regularly: Bones, Finder, Glee, Touch, Smash, GCB, Being Human

An artist whose work you highly respect:

A piece of clothing you love to wear: My white peacoat from J. Crew, Josh bought me

A monument you would like to have a view of from your bedroom: The cathedral in Toledo

Your favourite time of day: The late afternoon when everything turns gold

Your favourite place to sit at home: My bed

What you like to do most on Sunday: Breakfast with Grandpa, sit with Eric, Mass, be lazy with my hobbies at night

Your motto: "Love love, be brave." Past mottos include, "Think rich" and "Men are conveniences, not necessities."

Posted at 12:30 am by Manda
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Monday, March 26, 2012
Mother's full name: P. Lynn V.

Date of Birth: December 14, 1958

Father's full name: P. Anthony V.

Date of birth: June 9, 1955

Mother's Maiden Name: Perez

Siblings: E. Martin V.

Date of Birth: April 3, 1995

Names of Maternal Grandparents: Armando Perez & Virginia Rios Perez

Names of Paternal Grandparents: Alejandro V. & Irene Pena V.

Mother's family comes from: Grandpa Mondo's side from Mexico and Grandma Vicki's side from Morencia, Arizona

Father's family comes from: Grandpa Alex side from Alice/Concepcion, Texas and Grandma Irene's side from Alpine/Fort Stockton, Texas

Famous or notable relative or Ancestor: Wonder woman is a cousin, Pete Gallego the politician is a cousin, and we are descended from Montezuma daughter and Hernan Cortez.

Posted at 11:32 pm by Manda
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Name: for the purposes of this blog, "Astonishing"

Place of Birth: Wurzburg, Germany

Date of Birth: January 3, 1986

Astrological Sign: Capricorn (traditionally), Sagittarius (actually, astronomically)

Profession: Out of work, constantly interviewing and watching my dreams die since I'm a coward

Education: BA from Knox College, Majored in Creative Writing, Minored in Latin American Studies

Height: 5'7 is what I tell everyone, but I think I'm really 5'6

Weight: 148

Hair color: Chestnut

Eye color: Green

Distinguishing Marks: My left eyebrow forever twitches upward. Scar on the arch of my left foot. Cheeks scarred from acne.

Blood type: No idea.

Allergies: None. But when I was a little girl, I used to tell people I was allergic to hotdogs.

Posted at 11:24 pm by Manda
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Friday, March 23, 2012
All about me
Recently, I rediscovered this blog. It's been a long time, over two years since I was last here, and since then I've discovered the love of my life. Learning to be with him has been so hard as we battled through my sexual history and his own particular neurosis. Now we're in a committed relationship and deeply in love, but we still struggle to work through our issues and stay together.

"Faithless" is a term that no longer quite fits, but what the term has come to represent to me is something that I believe still pertains to me.

Recently, I discovered another journal, a physical one, that I wrote in during the same time period as this blog. I'm going to be re-answering the questions and trying to discover who I am now. Hopefully, in time, I will be able to share these answers with the man I love, and he will understand me just a little better.

Yours in Christ,

Posted at 11:58 pm by Manda
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Thursday, January 07, 2010

I feel like I'm drowning in my own filth and sin.

I hate that word, 'sin.' Mostly because even as I try to deny its power over me, I fall victim to it. I want to scoff at the idea of sin, ignore it entirely. Heinlein once said, the only sin that exists is causing pain to another human. Everything else is us being ridiculous. And I try to believe that, try to live by that because it makes sense to me, but yet I still feel ugly, guilty and unhappy as I wallow in a lifestyle I know the Church would disapprove of.

I know part of my unhappiness comes from the broken mess that is my mind, meaning, it's all imagined. I've lead a complicated, tortured, messy life and you can't do that without it leaving marks on your soul. It has.

But I don't know what to do anymore. Turn to God? I want to, I want to so badly, but even as I try to I can't shake the damnable truth that HE IS NOT THERE. Because he doesn't exist. And I want so very badly to believe in him, I want so very badly to believe that there is a being out there with a plan for me. I want unconditional love that overwhelms and overpowers all of the rest of the darkness in my life. I want it more than most people want oxygen.

I've been making all these bad decisions, alienating everyone in my life, and I don't know how to stop or how to behave. I cast my eyes up and around, ready to beg whoever I could to save me, but I know there's no help coming. I can't turn to my God that is not real, I can't turn to my girls because they look at me with distrustful, betrayed eyes because of what I am--I can't turn to the men in my life because they hate me and love me for what I make them want. They can't even save themselves from me, how could they pull me up?

I'm alone, alone, alone and I know I'm feeling sorry for myself, but no one else will. I'm that beautiful girl you love to hate, that slut who took your boyfriend, that bitch who seduced you and crushed your heart. There's no one who would even want to offer me help. Time to be brave, time to be fearless, time to stand on my own two feet, like always.

Posted at 11:20 pm by Manda
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Saturday, October 31, 2009
Confirmed in Hypocrisy

First, the latest events at the parish; then, my concerns about my constant struggle with hypocrisy.

This past Sunday, it was my team's turn to present a topic to the teens in our youth group. The topic was Confirmation, and I had been chosen to present the main talk. I was horribly nervous. I really don't like speaking in crowds, which is confusing to me, because I do love to be the center of attention. I guess it's like that once I get that attention, I don't know what to do with it. It didn't help that I had written my talk last minute, and so hadn't memorized it.

The talk was passable. I was terribly nervous, and rushed through parts, and yammered and blathered and probably sounded a little silly at times. But I tried really hard and didn't do too poorly.

Also, I made these super cute headbands for all of the Core members (adult facilitators) to wear, that had a pipecleaner attached, with a paper cut-out of a tongue of flame attached to the end of it. Sow we all walked around with these tongues of fire bobbing over our heads, and it was great. You know, Pentecost.

Anyway, hypocrisy...

I struggle with the fact that I pray. This is difficult because I actually don't believe that prayers have any really power because there is no God. I know that other people believe that prayers have potency, and I respect that because I believe tricking the mind is half the battle. That's what I think it is--a neat mental trick. You believe God is supporting you, but really you are drawing from some inner strength. And if that's what it takes, then so be it.

But working in a church means that I am constantly called on to pray. Fine. I find prayers very often to be soothing. The same sort of calm washes over me when I voice my childhood incantations as when I practice meditative breathing exercises.

My concern arises from what praying means. After all, it really is supposed to be a conversation with God, and it seems sorta wrong that I not believe that, and yet still use the words. Is this hypocrisy? To find solace in words that I believe are meaningless? To derive enjoyment from empty rituals? I find all this confusing.

Posted at 11:05 pm by Manda
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