Wednesday, December 29, 2010

emotional commotion

I have been crying a lot lately, and only sometimes for very legitimate reasons.

On Christmas Eve, with hundreds of candles lit in the darkness, and singing "Silent Night," I thought of my grandpa. I used to sit on his musty tan bedspread beside him and listen to him pluck out the notes and chords on his guitar. I wondered if heaven is any different on Christmas, and I imagined my grandpa in the very presence of Jesus, while we sang about Immanuel.

But sometimes my crying is not so legitimate. The other day I cried at an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress." (Her mom left her when she was very young, and she was just the sweetest and wanted to please her future mother-in-law, who was like a mother to her. You had to be there.) And on a completely different day I cried while watching "Super Nanny." (The father - who was a Navy Seal! - was just really supportive, okay?) And yesterday when I saw that the gas prices had risen, my eyes teared up. (I have no excuse.)

And that's when I knew I was getting ridiculous.

I don't know what's wrong with me. It used to be that I only cried in very extreme circumstances, like when Boromir died in The Fellowship of the Ring. Now I cry when people simply love each other. I cry when I think about sadness - it doesn't even have to be a sad thing in particular, just knowing someone is sad makes me cry. I even have dreams where I am crying.

Today I watched an episode of The Office and my chin quivered.

Possible reasons for this recent emotional outlet in tear-form:

My Christmas lights blew out on Christmas morning, as if to say, "It's over, buddy. Pack up the holiday cheer and move back to Normalville."

The snow is beginning to melt, and there is nothing more depressing than patches of dead grass flattened by weeks of snow, singing with sorrowful, muffled voices, "Where once was light, now darkness falls...."

I broke the 2 on my keyboard. Now it's just a little black stubby thing.

And if that demon cat attacks me one more time, I am going to shove it down an ice-fishing hole and then plug up the hole. Last time I checked, "Heather Flesh" was not on the market at Pet Smart.

I know none of these are the reasons, because I was crying a lot before Christmastime. I think the real reason is that I am going insane. And I'm okay with that, as long as I don't know I'm insane when I finally go insane. My mother's grandmother went insane and sang hymns non-stop, clapping and dancing up and down the halls. I would like to be that kind of insane. Actually, that kind of sounds like me, anyway. So...I guess that's it, then. Either that or I've been abducted by aliens. Either option sounds pretty probable.
Friday, December 24, 2010

reason to rejoice

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. - 1 Peter 1:3-9

a man in a santa beard playing christmas carols on his saxophone.

snowflakes softly and coldly landing on my cheek.

the smell of cinnamon from german pretzel vendors.

i'm not capitalizing any of my words because that's what artsy creative people do.

and because my hair is short now i feel i should be more artsily creative.

therefore i'm going to start making up words.

like artsily.

my favorite picture of my family, because why is mom looking off into the distance?

Merry Christmas Eve to all.
Friday, December 10, 2010

welcome, welcome, fa hoo ray moos

Next week is going to be great.

Tuesday I'm getting my hair cut, short. To the guys who have told me that girls with short hair are unattractive, I say, just wait.

Wednesday are double brand new episodes of Psych. USA. 10/9c. Wait for iiiiiiiit.

Thursday I'm taking my parents into Chicago to see White Christmas on Broadway. HOW. STOKED. AM. I. Dad doesn't know yet. I told him to clear his schedule for Thursday, and sometimes I pretend to slip up and accidentally give away the surprise. "I hope the weather's nice for when we go skiing next week - oops!" He has no idea the stemming and the plotzing and the shushing that's in store.

Next weekend I'm taking my final trip to KY to pick up my car and move the rest of my stuff into my duplex, affectionately nicknamed Mab (shortened from Mabsoot Manor, "mabsoot" meaning "happy" in Hebrew), before the final move-in after New Year's. Sometimes I very much wish I were still eight and adulthood is a long way off. Then other times I remember times like these and I'm ready:

And on my way back from KY I'm stopping by someone I haven't seen in far too long, for some quality Christmas cheer and friendship. We're going to go ice skating, hold hands, build gingerbread houses, and then...we'll snuggle.

I cannot wait.
Thursday, December 2, 2010

"dear" old books

I walked into the used bookstore that my coworker Ashley had called "odd." I had only been there a couple of times before and hadn't noticed anything particularly odd about it. But I remembered Ashley's statement yesterday as I stepped inside.
"Hi," I greeted the lady at the wooden counter just inside the door. Her salt and pepper hair fluffed out on the sides like Christopher Lloyd. "My dad brought in a bunch of boxes of my books the other day and said I had some store credit."
"Oh, yes," the woman said. "You have tons of it. They were in such good condition. You take very good care of your books."
I smiled at her. I know, thought Inner Me. When I was in high school I carried Sense and Sensibility in a Ziploc bag.
She shuffled through some papers in a drawer and found my sheet. "Yup. You have tons." She closed the drawer and looked up at me.

At this point in the story, I would like to introduce you to Inner Me. Inner Me is very blunt, honest, and feeling. Sometimes I wish Inner Me would smother Outer Me with a rag soaked in chloroform, and take over the conversation. Instead, Outer Me's composed, polite, homeschooled interaction takes the form of the following visit to Dear Old Books.

Umm...."Could you tell me how much?"
She shuffled through the papers again and said, "It's a ton. Like $80. Oh, it's not quite that much. $57.50."
"Okay, thanks!"

I walked down the aisles of books. I didn't want more books. The reason I painfully gave away my own books was because I have, in the words of Christopher Lloyd, tons of them. I don't need more books I want to have read but don't want to read sitting on my shelves.

But as I sat on a footstool in the classics section and stared at the books in front of me, there, my own bindings looked back at me with betrayed and lonely faces. I felt what a mother must feel when she hands her baby over to be adopted. How could I explain to them that I couldn't care for them anymore? That hopefully they'd go to a good home with someone who loved them more than I could?

I admit that I looked at my own books more than I looked at possible purchases. I wanted to collect all my lost children and take them back again. "I've made a mistake," I could say. "They weren't supposed to go. I was weak!"

I finally picked up John Steinbeck and went to the counter. A man was there instead, and he looked up my information on his cream-colored computer, in true 90s condition.
"That'll be $3.50," he said.
I slung my purse over my shoulder and froze. What? "But...the credit doesn't count?"
"It takes off half. So a 6-dollar book is $3.50."
"Oh. Oh I see." I looked up at the crack where the wall meets the ceiling and pretending to be calculating something, when inside Inner Me was seething, Are you kidding me? You want me to give you my books AND pay for yours?
"Well, in that case, I don't think I want this book," I said kindly.
He just looked at me.
"Is that okay?" I offered meekly. Is that okay?? You don't need his permission to not be cheated.
He nodded.
"Do you want me to put this back? I know where it was."
"Would you mind?"
I put the book back and walked out the front door, saying, "Thank you," though I have no idea for what. Thank you for taking my books and being willing to take my money, too. Thank you for being rude and having very bad people skills. Thank you for making me want to cry because I am very sensitive to people who look at me with annoyed expressions. By the time I reached my car, Inner Me and Outer Me had melded into one, and I replayed the scenario in my head again, only this time with me demanding all my books back and telling them they are a lame establishment.

The only thing that gets me through it is imagining that my Barnes & Noble classics will go to good homes, maybe to a teenage girl who will obsess over keeping them as pristine as I did, or, better yet, someone who will wear out their covers with repetitive reads.

Ashley was right. And I am never, ever going back into that store. On principle.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas lists

Men I Would Marry

1. Alton Brown - Not only did he whip up a sweet potato pie in 60 seconds, but he dressed up like a pilgrim and sat on the giant turkey float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. I admire this about him, as well as the fact that he is brilliant and makes molecules out of Styrofoam and advocates grape juice. Plus he's hilarious.

2. Burton Guster - He plays pretend and goes on adventures for a living, and that is the kind of living I want to be doing. And he can tap dance. And he's hilarious.

I'm not inclined to resign to maturity.
3. Aaron Rodgers - Any man who can maintain his manliness with his face shrouded in yellow deserves a doting wife. Also, according to Sunday's commentator, he's cool like the other side of the pillow. I have no intimation of his current state of sense of humor.

I am manly, even in yellow.
Professions I'd Profess

1. Radio City Rockette - Because they are beautiful and smiley and everything Christmas is wrapped up in their synchronized kicking legs. I particularly loved this year's outfits.

I want legs like these.

2. Foot model - I have particularly lovely feet (once the scars from summer camp heal), and they are way underappreciated by being shoed and socked most of the year.

3. Cheerful tollbooth operator - I usually have to work up the nerve to roll down my window at a tollbooth, because I just know the person I am rolling down my window to is probably not going to make eye-contact with me, and will most likely mumble and take my money with as much joy as if they were taking my kidney stone. I want to be a cheerful tollbooth operator so I can smile at people and wish them a good day and make their long trip seem a little bit shorter.

Places I Would Be

1. Whoville - Because only when living in a snowflake can dressing like candy-canes be every-day attire.

 2. The Pie Hole - It's colorful, I love pie, it's probably snowing there, and I think the Pie Maker is a dreamboat.
I am a dreamboat.
 3. Wilmore Old Fashioned Christmas - I have spent the past 4 Christmases walking down shop-lined Main Street, watching the tree lighting in the cold, drinking hot chocolate and eating homemade cookies, and singing the Hallelujah Chorus in a giant stain-glass church. This year I will only be there in my heart.
Thursday, November 11, 2010

sock day

Today Wigwam had a sock sale in Sheboygan.

Apparently this is a biannual event that all of eastern Wisconsin knows about. My parents got in on this tradition two years ago and I ended up stealing most of my mom's socks to claim them for my own. They are warm and beautiful and comfortable and my feet toast champagne in celebration whenever I put them on.

So I ventured into Sheboygan to find this sock sale, all by myself. Google maps told me where to go, but when I pulled into the parking lot, I stopped the car in front of a giant warehouse and bent my head to peer out the windshield. A steady stream of people exited through a door with no handle on the outside, all of them carrying unmarked brown paper bags. I watched them for a few seconds, to make sure they didn't look like they were brainwashed or zombies or pale (a sure indication that a vampire had just feasted on them). They looked normal enough.

I parked and walked toward the entrance. An old lady, waddling and wearing a fleece jacket with pastel wolves on it, walked in front of me and I used her as a source of comfort, because nobody would attack me or kidnap me or try to suck my blud if I stood close enough to an old lady. (My reasoning is just flawless.)

I walked through the door and down a hallway, where I felt like muttering, "Walkin' the Mile, walkin' the Green Mile," and hoped I did not meet the same end. And when the hallway ended, I stopped and my eyebrows said to my hairline, "I'm coming to meet you." Aisles formed by open boxes filled a large, hallow warehouse, and dozens of people filed up and down the aisles, stopping occasionally to bend at the waist and dig through piles of socks.

I laughed.

And then I dove in.

If you have never dug through a cardboard box full of wool socks, I suggest you do so. It is a humbling yet strangely satisfying experience, much akin to what I assume pigs feel when they hunt for truffles. I've never asked one. But next time I see one, wearing my Wigwam socks, I know we'll exchange glances, and I'll smile, and the pig will nod, and we'll walk away with a bond that anyone who has not dug for socks or truffles will not understand.

At first I was too self conscious to dunk my head in a box, and casually walked down the aisles, surveying the piles from a safe distance. I stopped in front of one, and bent a little to swish some socks around noncommittally. Everyone else had their own individual boxes to fill with socks. And people walked around like chickens trying to decide which coup they wanted to nest in. And when I realized that I couldn't possibly look more ridiculous than the rest of these people, and that the women wearing shirts with cupcakes made from puffy paint weren't going to judge me, I stooped my head into a box and dug with claws of a raptor.

And with my head in a box, I listened to the conversations of the people around me.
"Do you think Tommy would fit into a large?" One lady said.
Another couple walking side-by-side surveyed their box. "I've already got enough for the kids...." Oh, what a happy Christmas those children are going to have.

Dear Santa,
This Christmas I would really like some socks. I will be an extra good boy if you can make them Wigwam. Please give the skateboard and iPod Touch to some other child with less ambition. Sincerely, Johnny

One young lady shuffled through a box of socks and frustratedly said into her cell phone, "Well how is he supposed to keep his job if he forgets to tell people what's wrong with their ears?"

I hope "he" is not a doctor, and that I have never gone to him.

In the end I walked out of the door with no handle on the outside, carrying an unmarked brown paper bag full of socks. I feel like a true Eastern Wisconsinite. And my feet are pouring the bubbly as we speak.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

predicaments of people persons

Sometimes when I'm driving by myself, I make friends with other drivers to lessen my loneliness. I pick a car to caravan with and pretend that it shares in mutual companionship. Sometimes I name it.

Today I passed a purple semi and it tooted a few abrupt honks at me. This is not the first time I have been honked at by a semi. It happens at least once a road trip. I can never understand why. Is my tire flat? Is my gas lid indecent? Is there a tuxedoed man clinging to the roof of my car? I assume that must be it, because only truck drivers from their perched altitude could have such a clear view of the top of my car, right? It certainly cannot be that they're honking at me flirtatiously, because today as I sat in my Camry listening to Michael Buble in my plaid pajamas and with my stuffed bear sitting on my lap, I'm pretty sure I did not give off the "hey, I'm flirty" vibe.

I realized about 45 minutes later, however, that that purple semi was still in my rearview mirror. I had faithfully employed cruise control the entire time, so my speed never left 75, but the purple semi, whom I decided to name Grape, was fluctuating in speed. He came up beside me and passed in front of me. I didn't mind, since I was lonely and Michael Buble ONLY sings about being in love. (I think "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" is a horrible concept.)

However, Grape's speed remained inconsistent, and I eventually pulled out to pass him again. Again, he honked. Okay. What's the deal? Is there toilet paper sticking out of my tailpipe? He couldn't possibly see into my car from his height, and think that I'm an attractive lass. Maybe he's lonely, too, I thought, and recognizes that we're in a caravan! I've never had another car actually acknowledge our automotive symbiosis. This was so special.

I had just drunk 3/4 of a tall Starbucks's Thanksgiving blend, and my bladder was ripe. But if I got off to pee, I wouldn't be driving with Grape anymore. Mom called, and I asked her if semi trucks ever honked randomly at her. She said no, that she had never been honked at by a semi. I still thought innocently that Grape was just honking in communion, when he drove up on my left to pass me. I looked over and he waved at me in an odd way, wiggling his fingers as if he was telling me to fall behind. I pretended it was a friendly wave and hung up with my mom.

I am incredibly ignorant and this is all very embarrassing. I am going to die at a very, very young age, unless I stop believing that everyone sees life as innocent frolics through meadows of daffodils, like I do.

Well, the lanes widened into 3, and Grape pulled up with a lane in between us, so that when I looked over at him, he said something (I can't read lips, bucko), and motioned backwards with his thumb. I, in confusion, and to myself, said, "What?" Then a truck sidled up in between us, and I pretended that I tragically got swept away in traffic, separating us after over an hour of driving together. Really I stepped on the gas and maneuvered through cars in an attempt to get very, very far away. Then my brother called, who had apparently been told by my mother that I'd made a friend with a trucker.

"Actually, he tried to talk to me, so I drove away," I explained. I could still see him in my rearview mirror, several cars behind me.
"Yeah. Have you ever seen Joy Ride?" Brandon said. "The trucker tracks him down--"
"But his truck is purple." Nothing associated with purple could be threatening! Barnie, Asbury University, eggplant....
"--and he rips off his jaw."
The tips of my eyebrows had met in the center of my forehead. "Now I'm scared."
"He seemed friendly!"
"They all do."

Fear had heightened my need to pee, but I was terrified of getting off at an exit with Grape still in sight. I seriously thought about whether I could drive the remaining 2 1/2 hours home in a wet seat, if I just peed where I sat. I would rather have to buy an entirely new car because it smelled like urinated Thanksgiving blend than to die.

I kept driving, and eventually I lost sight of Grape. He was long gone, as far as I could tell, and I got off at a stop to use the bathroom, scanning lines of semi trucks to make sure Grape wasn't one of them. I drove home thinking a few things. 1.) What kind of desperate person tries to hook up with a random person on the highway, from two different vehicles? (It gives a whole new meaning to speed dating. ha, I just came up with that.) 2.) What kind of naive person thinks that when a trucker honks at her, he's simply delighted to have a driving buddy? 3.) There is a time and a place for friendliness, imagination, and child-like faith in the human race. It is not while driving alone through Chicago next to a semi truck driven by a strange man.
Monday, October 25, 2010

And they lived lonely women, for all eternity.

I don't like Jane Austen. And I've read 4 1/2 of her novels, and only liked one (see below), so I have a right to this opinion. Perhaps I'm lacking in proper breeding, or intelligence, or a heart. Whatever the reason, I don't like her.

And I feel the same for the movies made about her books or about her. Do modern-day women have no better use of their time than to use it swooning over men in ruffles who fall in love with women who aren't even lovable? And, according to Jane Austen, in order to make a truly great story:
  1. If anything drastic is to happen in the plot, it must be raining.
  2. The most honorable, respectable, and noble men must have very, very wicked relatives.
  3. An annoying woman who talks too much is necessary to say uncomfortable things at awkward moments.
  4. Some sort of secret about the hero must be revealed that threatens the heroine's happiness with him!
  5. But all will be cleared up in the end so that the hero comes out even more heroic than before.
  6. The heroine has no wealth, and this is a great conundrum as to whether the hero can love her anyway. Which he either does, or doesn't and therefore is not the hero and the hero swoops in gallantly at the end and the heroine realizes she's loved him all along.
However, I have to confess that I have been watching - and reading - a lot of Jane Austen recently. Yes, I know. I have nothing better to do with my time than swoon over men in ruffles who fall in love with women who aren't even lovable. And I have been doing a lot of swooning, especially over this ruffled man:
Here Mr. Tilney is saying, "I am sarcastic and mocking, but also capable of great emotion and passion. Love me."
I like Northanger Abbey so much because it's funny. The whole novel is basically poking fun at itself. And if any other man had played Mr. Tilney in the movie, I don't know if I would enjoy it so much. I say "enjoy" because watching the movie is an ongoing process for me. Like a remote-control all-you-can-eat buffet of witticisms.

There are great dangers in watching/reading too much Jane Austen, I've discovered. One (and by "one," I mean single females, like me) will begin to expect reality to follow the rules of Jane Austen, instead of the rules of, well, reality. According to Jane Austen, in my life I should expect:
  1. A man, possibly up to 20 years older than me, will ride 50 miles on horseback to confess his undying love for me even while having no idea if I return his affections.
  2. If I have curls around my face and am seen by candlelight, men will love me without knowing anything about my personality.
  3. Poetic thoughts will be narrated in a British accent while I look at the landscape and heavily sigh. "Life will never be the same, but hopefully my heart will mend. Oh, will I ever see Philip again?" ("Philip" being the name of the argyle sock I can't find. Its mate, Rosalind, is lonely, and my feet are cold.)
I need to stop watching these things because I'm beginning to think like this, and this is bad. If only I had a rich relative or relation to take me under his or her wing to some foreign place for a few months so I could be introduced to good and bad people that will alter my life and fortunes forever.....Is that too much to ask?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

adventures in nannying

I saw this as my friend's Facebook status today:

"An adventure is only an inconvenience, rightly considered. And an inconvenience is only an adventure, wrongly considered." -G.K. Chesterton

I would say that yesterday was an inconvenience that I rightly considered, but then I realized it was more than an adventure. It was a harrowing escapade.

The day started as any other. William got up from his nap, giggled when I used cold wet-wipes on his bum, and cheerily waved his hands in the air as I put him in his high-chair to eat some sliced strawberries. Then the doorbell rang. The doorbell has never rung, and as I walked toward the door, the first thing I saw through the window was a badge. For some reason I automatically racked my brain for anything that I could be in trouble for. The only thing I could think of was that I was parked on the grass. Am I getting a citation for parking on the grass? But it's our grass!

It was the sheriff, and I propped the door open with my foot as he asked if I'd heard any strange noises last night. Reason number one for watching too many detective shows: My thoughts weren't gasping at what crime might've taken place last night, but instead were occupied with why this "sheriff" didn't seem to have better people skills, and whether he was really the criminal in disguise trying to decifer if there'd been any witnesses to his crime.

I told him I was just babysitting, and he'd have to come back later to ask the real residents.
"What is their last name?" He whipped open his pad of paper and tucked his badge away.
I told him, hoping I wasn't spelling out their death.
Then Rajah, their bengal cat (which is half domesticated cat and half leopard, in case you didn't know), bolted out the door between my legs.
"Rajah!" I called in distress, as if he would stop running at the sound of his name and return sulkingly, muttering under his breath, "Nobody ever lets me do want I want to do...."

So, in turn, I bolted out after him. I whisked past the sheriff on the front steps, running through the neighbor's grass in my socks, in 50-degree weather.

"Don't chase him, he'll come back!" The sheriff called after me. My thoughts weren't rationalizing, "Maybe he's' right," but instead, "I hope he doesn't steal William, and I hope William isn't choking on strawberries."

I didn't know what to do! Rajah just kept running farther and farther away, and the pine needles in the grass poked my thinly-covered feet. So I came back to the house, and apologized to the sheriff for running away. He apologized for making me let the cat out, and we ended on good terms. As he turned to leave, I asked after him, "Is there anything we should be concerned about?"

"No, no," he said, because policemen usually have a habit of wanting you to feel safe, even when you aren't. "It was a car parked outside...the had nothing to do with the house." I nodded, as if I understood what he was trying to say. Again with the people skills. What was a car parked outside? Which street? This house? In other words, he could've smiled politely, tipped an invisible cowboy hat, and said, "You needn't worry your pretty little head, ma'am. I'm not going to tell you anything."

When I got back inside, William's hand was halfway in his mouth and his bib splattered with strawberry juice. He looked at me as if to say, "Whatcha been doin'?" So I put my shoes on and ran out the back door. I found Rajah a couple yards away, his head stuck in a pile of brush. I grabbed him from behind and tucked him under my arm.

Then he growled at me, and hissed angrily, and turned around and attacked my forearm with his teeth. I think saying "ow" is probably the stupidest habit the human race has passed on through the years, because what does "ow" even signify? Nonetheless, I shouted, "OW!" and tried to keep his undomesticated teeth from piercing my flesh any more.

"Rajah is an evil cat," I told William, walking in the house. William looked unconcerned. I opened the basement door and threw Rajah down the steps. "You think about what you've done!" I told him. I surveyed the scratches on my arm, two of which were drawing blood. If I get cat-scratch fever and die, I want this blog entry read at my funeral.

After the strawberries, William and I went to the park. On the way there, I made him repeat after me. "I will not eat sand," I said. William gurgled. I considered it good enough.

But William did eat sand, and reason number 2 for having watched too many detective shows: The jeep parked on the street by the park gave me the heeby-jeebies, and I imagined some guy finding out the police had talked to me about last night and was now waiting to pounce. I walked past the jeep on the way back to the house, and a lone man sat inside with a bluetooth in his ear. I imagined he probably said something like, "She's leaving the park now. I'm in pursuit." Do criminals use cop-terms? I only ever hear these things from the detective standpoint, so I don't know. But the entire walk home I kept glancing over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't following me.

Today nothing was remiss, and my cat wounds show no signs of gangrene. And William and I even dressed alike. Does this mean we spend too much time together? Or that 23-year-olds shouldn't wear overalls?
Sunday, October 17, 2010

prudent microscopes

I came across my writing notebooks from sophomore and junior years. Reading through them made me miss my writing classes, and the things they made me squeeze out of my imagination like paste that doesn't look appealing, but ends up adding a bounty of flavor to the main dish.

I don't know what the prompt was for this poem, but I don't remember writing it a'tall, and it makes me giggle:

(written April 2008)

Back on Uranus,
we eat squirrel.
On earth, they're cute and furry.
I saw a girl
run over a squirrel
with her car
while using my laser vision
to toast my albino squirrel
(the white meat is healthier).
From within closed windows
I heard her scream
and saw the tires
absorb the shock
of the little lifeless body.
She kept driving,
I assume she cried,
and I retrieved
the dead squirrel for dessert.

I usually write much more serious poetry, on my own. But for writing classes I always wrote goofy things, because I was too afraid of criticism. Once I wrote a poem I absolutely loved, and was told I had to change everything about it because of "pathetic fallacy" and "archaic language." Why must there be rules to poetry?

This is the most original version of the poem I could find, having edited it to death to please the masses (aka my writing professor). I wish I still had the original, as it was my favorite. But this one will have to do:

On A February Walk (written February, 2008)

A tree branch creaks a sad, sullen moan,
a lone, tired voice in the midst of a roar.
Blustered and blown, the clouds, thick above
are sick with a gray that drifts down in small pellets
of snow that won't stick to a ground, soggy brown,
so they circle around, in careless, cold dances.

The branches are bare, with not even a coat
of ice that would care, in its unfeeling way,
to lend beauty in bleakness to a sad, creaking tree
that, in its meekness, creaks not to be heard,
but to let out the pain of its old, wooden joints
that burns with cold fire and subsides to rekindle.

Oh, winter, with winds that brutally blow,
lend me some snow in what compassion you own
to coat all that's ugly in a blanket of white
and mute my trite groans, lonely and bitter.
For somehow, to tread upon glistening flakes
makes the walk less despondent to take.

If you want, you can visit the place this poem was written. Just take a jaunt to Wilmore (some of you may already be there) and hop on my favorite college campus. The tree's the big one right in front of the steps of Morrison and, when the leaves aren't there to rustle when the wind blows, you can hear the branches creaking so sadly that the tree deserves a poem written about him. (Yes, poet scholars, I referred to the tree as he.) I listened to it on my way to class and sat on a bench with cold fingers gripping the pencil as I jotted down lines to remember later, when I was warmer and could write more.

I miss being a writer.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

summer, fall, time to go

Today I sat on a bench in the middle of a park behind my house. I've walked through this park when the summer sun is turning everything green through the flesh of the leaves, and when the parking lot is frozen over with ice so thick I could skate on it in my boots. (And I have.) Today the ground was covered in brown crunchy leaves, and the naked trees rattled in the wind. I thought about seasons.

I had just gotten off the phone with my dear friend and sister, calling from Namibia, Africa. We've been through a lot of seasons together, from summers spent watching The Office while eating brownies or hiking up mountains in Utah, to traipsing through Columbus strung in Christmas lights and watching Little Women off-Broadway. Different seasons bring different things.

I was introduced to "chider" last week, or half chai and half apple cider. It is my new comfort drink. And it goes perfectly with autumn. I just drank a mugful and my tummy is now satisfyingly plump. Also, I am missing Zachary's candy pumpkins. I used to buy them by the carton for $1.88 at Nicholasville's Wal-Mart, but last year they weren't there, and I have yet to find my favorite football-watching snack anywhere. Don't even try to replace them with Brach's. Ick, Brach's. It's a Zachary pumpkin or it's no pumpkin at all.

THIS JUST IN. I'm going on a candy pumpkin hunt tomorrow. I'll let you know if it's fruitful.

The only thing I do not like about autumn is Halloween. In fact, I hate it. I could give you some religious lecture about the origins of Halloween being pagan and evil, but, frankly, I don't know the origins of Halloween. I've heard mutterings of them over the years. But even if I knew nothing about them at all, Halloween, to me, is unpleasant. Why graveyards and witches and spiderwebs seem fun, I don't know. Why people string orange lights from their houses and hang ghosts from their trees, I do not understand.

And Monday as I rode my bike back from the gas station with a gallon of milk making my fingers go numb, the little 4-year-old boy in my neighborhood rode his in front of my house.
"Can you ride with me back to my house?" He asked me. "There's something on my porch that's scary and I don't like going home alone."
So I rode with him down the street, and on his porch was a tall zombie skeleton in a black cloak hanging from the ceiling. The little boy eyed it warily as he parked his bike. Why does anyone want to celebrate things like that? If you celebrate Halloween, tell me why. I want to know the appeal.
Saturday, October 9, 2010

breathe on me, breath of God

This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. I've never even seen Blood Diamond, because the one time I sat down to watch it, I fell asleep. But today as I baked a banana cake with the TV on in the background, this scene made me still myself in the middle of my kitchen.

I don't know what Blood Diamond is about, other than that it takes place in Africa. I do know that the African man traveling with Leonardo DiCaprio had his son kidnapped, who was then made to believe that his father was the enemy. So at this point in the movie, his son pulls a gun on the two of them, and his father just looks at him. "Look at me," he says to his son. And, when he has his attention - this is the part that captivated me - he tells him with complete authority and conviction, looking straight into his eyes, exactly who he is.

"You are Dia Vandy," he says, "of the proud Mende tribe. You are a good boy, who loves soccer and school. Your mother loves you so much. She waits by the fire making plantanes and red palm oil stew with your sister N'Yanda and the new baby. The cows wait for you. And Babu, the wild dog who minds no one but you. I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy. I am your father who loves you. And you will come home with me and be my son again."

I love this. I feel like this is what God wants with each one of us. He wants to look us in the eye and tell us exactly who we are. Can you imagine what that moment would be like? To have the God who created you stand in front of you and say, "This is who you are." How different would it be from our image of ourselves and others's images of us? To live only hearing the voice of God speaking the truth of your identity into you like breath into lungs. I want to live like that.
"The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." - John 10:3-5
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

book review

I have a problem with children's books. I have a difficult time when someone mentions Goodnight Moon and a chorus of "I love that book!" arises. What about that book is so lovable? How is saying goodnight to inanimate objects at all captivating, adventurous, or even endearing? It requires no imagination, whatsoever. My child and I can easily say goodnight to everything in our room without paying $12.99.

The 11-month-old I nanny has two favorite books. Now, to be fair, I don't remember what books (if any) interested me as an 11-month-old. I do remember, as a little girl, loving certain books. I would crawl up on my grandmother's lap and have her read The Little Red Hen to me, which taught me to have helping hands. (I can still hear my grandmother's voice reading that book, so many years later.) I also loved The Grouchy Lady Bug, which was colorful, and taught me how to tell time. If You Give a Moose a Muffin had me in stitches, I would giggle so hard. It also made me imagine sometimes that I had a moose. My favorite of all time was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. But that wasn't until high school.

But William's two favorite books are Trucks! and Cat. The titles say it all, I think. And perhaps you'd think, in the fashion of Goodnight Moon, they'd be painfully simple and redundant. Well, they are redundant. But instead of opening Trucks! and telling William to point out the semi truck, or the pickup truck, I have to turn the page and say in a cutesie voice, "Can you find the giant excavator, Will? Ooh, where's the skid steer? Yep, that's the backhoe loader! Good boy!" Puh-leeze. What happened to Make Way for Ducklings?

Then comes his book about cats. I like cats. This book has pictures of real cats, and it rhymes, too. I like rhymes. And on each page it shows cats doing things, with descriptions like, "Cool cat, copy cat, furry cat, bald cat," and more. But then, I turned the page and I saw this:

I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or shut the book and bury it in the backyard. That is one of the most terrifying images I've ever seen. I would've had nightmares had I seen this. In fact, I think I do have nightmares because of this. I'm having one right now, and it gets worse every time I scroll up.

All right, perhaps I'm being a tad unjust. I mean, the book about trucks has little windows that William likes to open, and some of the cats's tails are fluffy. I understand that babies probably could not sit through a reading of Where the Wild Things Are if there was not something to tangibly discover. Their little minds aren't apt to discover things within them, yet. But also to be fair, anyone could write a children's book. I'm going to write one about a little boy who died from eating sand. It'll be textured and everything. And maybe then William will stop eating sand.
Saturday, October 2, 2010

"A fellow can't live on books."

Ah, but Theodore Laurence, he can try.

Over the past four years, I have tried to squeeze in desired pages of desired texts over Christmas breaks and summer breaks, and sometimes over no breaks at all, which left me feeling guilty and slightly ill-prepared when the test rolled around. But now, nobody is telling me what to read, and I have two full bookshelves, the contents of which I've only probably read one-third.

The logical side of me tells myself to read something I haven't before. But a wise friend once told me that life's too short to read something you don't want to just because "you should." So I'm going to read all of my favorites again. Some I can't remember why they're my favorites, because it's been so long since I last read them. Others I would forget only if someone beheaded me. So...never, let's hope.

Here's my list of favorites-to-read-again. And autumn is the perfect time to begin a new (or old) read.

  1. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. I read this three Christmases ago. It's 600 pages; I read it in three days. Besides the fact that I couldn't put it down, I remember very little about it. This warrants another late-night binge on 19th-century mystery.
  2. Howard's End, by E.M. Forster. This book instantly made Forster one of my favorite authors. I devour his dialogue and wonder at his display of human nature. He's so real.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Once, in high school, I finished this book, then flipped back to page one and started it all over again. I love that Harper Lee only wrote one book. She had a story to tell, and she told it. She wasn't writing for the masses. And that makes her story beautifully, meaningfully, and simply told.
  4. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. Of course. How could this book not be on this list? Yesterday I told the 11-month-old I was babysitting, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again! No, nor any of my folk!" And that's when I knew it was time for another GWtW reading.
  5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein. I read The Lord of the Rings once a year, for four years straight. I sat in front of the fireplace and tuned out planet earth for the Middle one. This year's reading of TLotR was for a class and gave the reading a little different taste. But I haven't touched The Hobbit in years, and another fireplace-adventure with Tolkein is in order.
  6. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. I was so delighted in this book that I couldn't believe it wasn't more popular. It's funny, adventurous, and somewhat philosophical.
  7. An Absolute Gentleman, by R.M. Kinder. This book is seriously weird, and horrible, and yet so incredibly good that I could not put it down. Well, it's about a serial killer, from inside the  head of the serial killer. So, not so good. But the author is incredible. And after you read it (if you read it), look up the author online. She is not who you'd imagine to write a book like this. 
  8. My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du'Maurier. Another of my favorite authors. I recently reread Rebecca, and her genius in crafting such a story just amazes me. Maybe you think I'm silly for thinking so. But I love her, and I think she's genius.
  9. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I wish I could explain in a convincing way why this book is my favorite book, above all. A million little things that add up to one big love. Right now I'm reading a copy printed in 1880, merely 12 years after it was originally published. Can you believe it? Collectors would probably tell me to put it on a shelf so as not to lessen its worth. But it was meant to be read, and I can't help loving the smell that wafts up to me when I turn a page. Inside is inscribed, "Emma L. Greenbery from Santa Claus 1892." How could I not hold this in my hands? I like pretending I'm reading it after it's first come out. And I love this story so, so much.
So there you go. Read away. And happy autumn, again.
Saturday, September 25, 2010

happy first day of autumn

In the following paper, I will prove that it is, indeed, autumn.

First, the leaves are changing. Leaves do not usually change unless it is autumn. Or unless they're dying. Which is what they're doing during autumn, only first they turn pretty red, yellow, and orange colors. That is what they're doing now.

Secondly, some nights I have to wear my bed socks. My bed socks are orange and thick, and they sit by my bed because I often have trouble sleeping when my feet are cold. During the summertime, sometimes I saran wrap ice around my feet so I can sleep. But I can always tell it's becoming winter when my feet get cold on their own. Just kidding about that first part.

And speaking of bed, thirdly: I put my penguin flannel sheets on. You know it's getting cold at night if I pull out the flannel sheets - and the ones with penguins on them, no less! (They're drinking hot chocolate and ice fishing. It's adorable.)

Fourthly, I have the intense desire to watch movies like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. If you've never listened to the Little Women soundtrack, you must. I'm pretty sure Thomas Newman took the music from falling leaves to create the first track.

I consider The Family Stone a precursor to the Christmas season, and I usually have my first viewing (I say "first" because I have many viewings in the last few months of the year) in October, and it's almost October. So, fifthly, it's almost time to watch The Family Stone, which means it's almost the Christmas season, and what comes right before the Christmas season? Autumn.

Sixth: Tea. Drinking tea makes me think of sitting in literature classes and wearing scarves. My favorite teas right now are Good Earth's, because of their fragrance, flavor, and inspirational quotes in each tea package. I recently had one that said, "Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. Rodin (1840-1917)" God speaks through tea.

And finally, on the seventh, God rested, because it's football season. The word "autumn" in Nflese roughly translates to "pig skin sailing through crisp blue skies." There is no greater feeling than sitting in one's pajamas in front of a football game on a Sunday afternoon. Wrong; there are several greater feelings. But this one is really good.

In conclusion, it's autumn. You may not feel it wherever you are, but the calendar says it is, and so do I.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. - George Eliot
Saturday, September 18, 2010

do not tell me what I can and cannot do when I rock

Three days ago I sat at a traffic light in Lexington, blasting Lifehouse's "Everything" from my speakers, because a.) I love that song, and b.) my windows were down and I wanted to drown out the city sounds. Suddenly out of my peripheral ear I heard a guy's voice, and I looked up to see said guy leaning out of his truck window next to me. I thought it might be a repeat of the time I met my future husband, but it wasn't. This guy was shouting at me, "You have a flat tire."
"I have a flat tire?" I questioned, as if some strange man would lean out his window and shout at me, "Hey, that lady three cars down has a flat tire."
He answered affirmatively, and I thanked him without a good attitude, then drove over to a neighborhood street and called my dad.

Since the tire obviously wasn't completely flat (seeing as how I didn't even notice it was lacking air), Dad told me to take it to a gas station and fill it with air, then drive to a Wal-Mart or some other mechanical place and ask them to fix it. So I pulled up to a Shell gas station and saw a big sign that said, "Air, 75 cents." George Harrison was not kidding when he wrote "Taxman." It's air. It's all around us. We breathe it every day; sometimes more than once. I should've just placed my mouth over the nozzle on the tire and exhaled really hard. (You can tell I know very little about cars, and it's about to get a great deal more obvious.)

As I lifted the gun (because it had a trigger), I saw a sign warning, "Injury may occur. If overfilled, tire may explode." I stared at the sign with the weapon in my hand, my eyes wide, watching a slideshow in my mind of the possible ways I could be decapitated or permanently blinded by my exploding tire.

Did you know they make gauges to determine how much air needs to be in a tire? I didn't.

I kept one hand in front of my face, as if that would protect me from the rubbery shrapnel, and squeezed air into the tire, occasionally stepping back to measure its rotundness against the other healthy tires. "Eyeballing" is a very accurate method that will soon make it into all the indexes of university science textbooks.

Wal-Mart's tire service was closed, but the greasy people there told me to try Chevron.
"I don't know where that is," I replied.
"Across from KFC."
"We have a KFC?"

On my way down the street Dad called, and I told him I filled the tire with air and was on my way to Chevron.
"Did you use the gauge to see how much air you put in?" Dad asked.
Suddenly I remembered that long proby thing with numbers up and down it that I used to use in the car when I was bored and pretending to be a doctor. But I very slowly answered, "No." He could've told me that that was for checking air BEFORE I checked the air.

I found the Chevron (and the KFC), whose sign was almost unreadable behind the grime. I pulled up to the garage and stepped out of my car as a tattooed man with a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth and a gut that made his pants sag walked up to me. I should learn to at least pretend like I know what I'm doing in situations like this, but instead I said something like, "I don't know what I'm doing." I probably mentioned that my dad told me to come here, too, and anytime a girl mentions that her dad told her to do something, the potential to be hit on or treated like a child increases by a baker's dozen.

Cigarette Man (shortened to Cig) felt my tire, measured the tire pressure with a gauge (glad somebody told him), and said, "You got a leak, baby girl." Baby girl? Yeah, I definitely shouldn't have mentioned my dad. He took off my tire, chatting amiably in an equally grimy southern accent (I found out he hates Wisconsin and that he was in "the service," though which service I'm not really sure). Then he sprayed soapy water on the tire to find out where the leak was, and I was fascinated by the spewing bubbles coming from the hole. Finally he stuffed a large metal probe into the hole to make it bigger (seems counter-productive, doesn't it?), before twisting a long soggy cloth that looked like a pre-chewed Slim Jim around some plyers and shoving it into the hole. Problem solved.

Cig put my tire back on and told me, "I'll give this to you for ten instead of fifteen," he said.
"Oh, okay," I said, taken off'guard. "Thanks!" Yeah, definitely a good idea to mention my dad.

But when I went to pay for the tire, the lady at the front desk heard what I'd gotten done and said, "Ten dollars, sweetie." Really. Ten instead of fifteen, huh, Cig? I'm sure.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

end rant

Turns out I didn't have to wait very long to be noticed, and after our eyes met in the parking lot of Kroger, the Man from Church (so much more romantic than "The Man from Snowy River") recognized the treasure I am and asked me out. But I knew that "Do you like coffee?" was his way of asking "Will you make me coffee every morning for the rest of our lives?" It's only a matter of time before we name our first child Laurence (for three reasons: 1.) It's my mother's maiden name, and I like her side of the family; 2.) Laurence comes from my favorite book, Little Women, which I'm in the process of reading for the 6th time; 3.) Joshua Laurence Chamberlain won the battle of Little Roundtop at Gettysburg, and he's my favorite character in The Killer Angels) and move into a cute townhouse with floral wallpaper. I may as well start sewing my aprons while I have all this free time!

Just kidding. About all of it. (Except why I want to name my son Laurence.) We don't even have a Kroger. But I'm thinking of adding some fictional elements to my blog posts from now on, to make them more interesting and entertaining. Also, the apple pie turned out fine and my family has consumed almost all of it.
Sunday, September 12, 2010


I enjoy being a girl, most of the time. Like when I can wear frilly dresses and headbands with fabric flowers on them, and sew and knit and bake and watch Gilmore Girls and swoon over how tall Dean is. And when I get to smell like plumeria body lotion and paint my fingernails and sing Ingrid Michaelson songs on my guitar. These things, and many more, I enjoy about being a girl.

But sometimes I don't enjoy being a girl. Like when it's 90 degrees outside and my shirt is soaked with sweat while all the guys romp around half naked. Or when we're camping, and it's raining outside the adirondack, and it's 3 o'clock in the morning, and I have to pee. But mostly, I don't enjoy being a girl when I have to sit there and just wait for some guy to notice me and, even more importantly, do something about it.

I was thinking about this today before church and, I confess, continued to think about it during worship (even though I was helping that a sin?). My brother had just been telling me about the guy at church that he thinks would be good for me, and all I could do was sit there and say, "Well isn't that nice?" Because whether I agree with him or not, there's nothing I can do about it. Guys may complain that it's nerve racking to ask a girl out, but, in our defense, it's also awfully difficult to sit there and wait. And sometimes we wait for a long time.

I love gender roles. But if man's role is "the pursuer" and woman's is "the pursued" but the man isn't pursing, then the woman can't fulfill her role, and she's left sitting in a church pew sighing because there's nothing she can do about it. Pretty helpless, huh. At least when a guy decides he likes a girl, he can ask her out. When a girl likes a guy....

I came home from church and baked an apple pie. It looked perfect - till I dropped it on the floor. Then I sat in a slump in my frilly dress and painted fingernails next to the mass of apples and cinnamon and wanted to cry. Maybe I should become a feminist.
Sunday, September 5, 2010


"Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and...he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma...." - Genesis 8:20-21a

The sacrifice:

The pleasing aroma:

And this is just the beginning.
Saturday, September 4, 2010

starting out small

Recently I've been making a few trips on my bike to the post office (literally a few backyards away from my house). The man there is probably the sweetest man I've ever met. He deserves a blog post all his own, and maybe one day I'll write one about him. He also deserves some baked goods. Something with zucchini, maybe?

One day when I rode my bike to the post office, I decided to explore. I rode down a road surrounded by cornfields and farms (which describes most of Wisconsin and is directionally useless). But straight ahead of me the road went up, I'm pretty sure at a 90-degree angle. At least, it looked mountainous to me. So I turned around and came back.

But today I drove to the post office, in my pajamas and Asbury U sweatshirt (because it's Saturday, it's cold outside, and my packages were too big to fit on my bike), and decided to see what was beyond this mountain. I drove past a couple of kids in knitted hats playing football in their front yard (swelling my heart with unquenchable joy) and pushed the gas peddle down to keep my speedometer's needle from slowly falling, which it did anyway. And when I reached the top, I decided I was going to conquer that hill. On my bike.

I've already checked a few things off my bucket list, which I only add to when I realize there's something I want to do and have the ability to do it. I try to keep it to things I deem possible. And I only started it this summer, so I've actually only added and crossed off two things so far:

1.) Ride a tandem bike
2.) Stand outside Asbury's "awkward relational goodbyes" card door with a boy

And now,

3.) Ride my bike up Mocking Mountain

As I drove on, I planned my training regimen to conquer this mountain before winter. You may think that's plenty of time, but the sky is already turning wintry, and the wind is cold even when the sun is warm. The clouds are great, white, massive fellows with bulbous dark underbellies. And as I topped another hill in my car, I saw the street name, "Pleasant View," and then turned my eyes on one of the pleasantest views I've ever seen.

Hills of grass and corn, sunlit and shadowed by those autumnal clouds, and in the distance, windmills. Dozens of them. It was absolutely beautiful, and I felt inspired to write a poem or read a poem or at least watch Anne of Green Gables. My capacity for beauty is too small for the abundance of creation that God has to offer, and I feel the need to spill it over onto something so my seams don't break. Consider yourself spilled upon.

Training regimen begins TODAY. I'm coming for you, Mocking Mountain.

last night's sunset from the end of my street
Friday, September 3, 2010

"Would you like an adventure now,

 or would you like to have your tea first?" - Peter Pan

August always seems to take forever to end. It's probably because I'm always waiting for something in August. I'm never sad to see it go. This August was no exception.

With one difference: This time I was ending something without beginning something else. I've been fighting "being okay" with this for many months now. Hence all the posts on adventure, by trying to sooth my desire for stability and assurance with prospects of adventure. I realized my desire had not been assuaged* when I watched the series finale of Gilmore Girls today and cried. For one, Gilmore Girls has been over for over three years. Secondly, I didn't even cry the first time I watched the series finale. I can't help that I'm emotional, but even more so** I can't help that I hate goodbyes and endings. Who knows how many arks I could float with my tears the next time I watch The Return of the King. And, like Wendy, John, and Michael, I'm tempted to have my tea first. The truth is, I'm quaking in my boots at the same time I'm praying for adventure.

The woman whose 9-month-old little boy I watch gave me a zucchini today. I can't wait to hack it up and bake it in something. Muffins? Brownies? Bread? The possibilities are endless and my fingers are twitching with glee.

"Peter had seen many tragedies, but he had forgotten them all. He was less sorry than Wendy for Tiger Lily: it was two against one that angered him, and he meant to save her. An easy way would have been to wait until the pirates had gone, but he was never one to choose the easy way."

* Assuaged, along with ardent and sanguine, are some of my favorite words.
** WHY isn't "more so" one word but "nevertheless" is?
Monday, August 30, 2010

what's in an adventure? pt. 2

Yesterday one of my friends asked me, "What adventures are you engaged in these days?" At the time I had answered that I was in the middle of two fantasy football drafts (Peyton Manning's my QB for both of them - Double Stuf Oreos, anyone?), which is pretty darn adventurous. But if he was asking if I was in the middle of standing atop a mountain in Utah or crashing a jet ski on Lake Erie or spending a homeless day in Atlanta, I wasn't. And I'm not. I think my adventures these days are going to look a lot different than they have for my life in the past.

Adventurous challenge #1: Change.
Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel."- Jeremiah 18:3-6
I've only been home for a week, but God is already shining His light into the dark places of my life and character. This is humbling and difficult. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to "fix our eyes on Jesus," and in one of my Bibles I have written next to that verse, "Every morning, wake up and pray, 'Lord, make me more like Jesus. Have mercy on me, because I'm not like Jesus.'" I think I wrote that in one of my theology classes with Dr. Anderson, or maybe at a Vineyard church service. I realize, though, that there is a lot in me that needs to change. And change is an adventure, whether it's happening to you or in you.

And so the first thing I want to challenge you with is to practice. A few months ago I was praying for a relationship to be restored, when it occurred to me that no amount of restoration with an earthly relationship was going to make me feel fulfilled if my Heavenly relationship was off-kilter. The same occurred to me this morning when I read 1 Peter 1:14, which says, "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." This came at an interesting moment, since just last night before I fell asleep, another friend of mine asked what was challenging about being home, and I replied, "It's humbling to be obedient to my parents again." But I realized that, as I pray for the Lord to lead me and change me, I can practice obedience to Him with my parents. I can practice selflessness to Him and laying down my pride before Him with those I am least likely to feel selfless and most likely to feel prideful around. How can I be expected to love Jesus if I don't even love those who live in the same rooms as I do? Practice your relationship with Jesus in your relationships with others.

Not easy. But adventures are not easy, right? Not all pony rides in May sunshine. But they're worth it, aren't they?
Thursday, August 26, 2010

somebody loves me, I wonder who?

I woke up at 6 this morning, and now that it's 7:30 I'm thinking about taking a nap. Mom put lavender-colored sheets on my bed, and for some reason they are more appealing to sleep in than those of a different color. Pretty soon it'll be time to put on my flannel sheets with little penguins on them, drinking hot chocolate and going ice fishing, and for this I cannot wait. My teddy bear, Gilbert, also cannot wait. This year marks our eighth anniversary of sharing a bed. Dad took him out of the car upon my arrival home on Monday and said, "He's getting flat." Yes, well, he's lived an adventurous life. Adventures tend to flatten us out over time.

Speaking of adventures, the other day Courtney and I were driving down Broadway, coming out of Lexington on our way back from church. We had our windows down and my arm was casually strewn out the passenger-side window, riding the wind like a seal with wings. I turned my head just in time to see a middle-aged man with a gotee lift his own hand in a friendly wave as his car passed ours. I waved back and said, "Hello." Then I turned to Courtney and asked, "Why did that man just wave at us?"
"I don't know," Courtney answered.
"Do you think it's because I have my hand out the window, and he has his hand out the window?"
"Yeah, it was probably like a mutual 'we both have our hands out the window' type wave."

You know, like when motorcyclists wave as they pass each other, because somehow just because you're both on motorcycles, you have a bond. From now on I'm going to wave at people I walk past, because, Hey! I have legs, and you have legs, and we're both walking on them! What are the odds.

Sometimes Courtney and I are willingly naive.

Well, I picked up Courtney's cell phone to change the background to say something that she'd remember me by, and as I did so, I heard a male voice shout, "859-2415!" I looked up to see Mid-Life Crisis Guy's car beside ours. It was a security vehicle. He was shouting his number out his window. I laughed somewhat shocked, nervous, and delighted all at the same time. He called it out again, and this time I called back, "Are you rich?" He veered right for the turning lane as he called back, "I could be!"

Well. See? All those people who tell you that you don't have to find your mate in college were right. They could be driving down the street in a security vehicle right now, just waiting to desperately shout their phone number into your car. I'm keeping my windows down at all times from now on.
Monday, August 23, 2010 what?

After driving 9 hours on 2 hours of sleep with an entire summer of non-stop child-caring-adventure behind me, I'm back in Wisconsin. When I pulled into the driveway, Mom came out to tell me there was spaghetti on the stove, Dad came out to tell me my room was the one on the left at the end of the hall, and then they went back inside and I carried all my stuff in while my brother watched football and said hello to me every time I walked passed the room. Welcome home.

Classes started today, and for the first time in four years, I wasn't sitting in a white classroom looking at pastel sheets of paper with the next 4 months of my life printed on them. Graduating is an odd thing. I didn’t ask to graduate. I didn’t really particularly want to graduate. It’s as if you’re sitting down to dinner one day, and some strange person walks into your kitchen and takes the plate of delicious food away from you, and then says, “Congratulations!” And then he walks away, and you’re left sitting there staring at the blank table in front of you, thinking, “Oh. Well…thank you?”

Sometimes I feel kind of numb, sort of frozen, like those dreams that you wake up from and have to figure out whether they were real or not. And when you realize you aren’t really pregnant or your teeth haven’t really fallen out, you feel such a sense of relief and thankfulness that you’re willing to devote your life to playing with children or something else humane in sheer gratefulness for being alive with teeth. Sometimes I think I’m going to wake up and realize it was all a dream, and I still have two years left, and I will be flooded with that relief and thankfulness. But I’ve woken up in the morning several dozen times since May 8th, and I have yet to discover it was a dream. And so I try to figure out how to leave something I never really wanted to end, and live a completely different life, when I really loved the one I had.

I don’t really know how to do that.

I know college is just a chapter, and if the entirety of The Hobbit was one long chapter of Bilbo making tea in Bag End, not only would that be boring and a waste of paper, but then the volumes of adventure to follow never would have been written. The hard part is turning that last page of The Two Towers before the chapter titled, "The Breaking of the Fellowship." I don't know how to face it. And frankly, I feel very much like that giant stone man in The Never Ending Story, who stares down at his empty hands after the huge wind storm carries away the kids he was holding and says, "They slipped right through my fingers." And I don't know how to move on from here.


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