December 30, 2011

you say christmas cards, I say primitive facebook

I was talking with my dad last year about Christmas cards. We were going through the list of people we see each year in the cards and how it's nice to get up-to-speed on their lives. He made a comment about how he should get back on the holiday card bandwagon so he could keep up with those people more effectively. In my head I thought: isn't that what Facebook is for? Which is when it occurred to me. Christmas cards are just a primitive version of Facebook. 

Every year I looked forward to the lovely day on which the very first holiday card would arrive. I loved as they stacked up in the card-sleigh (the sleigh in which we stacked our cards), and every time a new batch rolled in I would go through them like they were baseball cards, picking MVP's, laughing at poems written in earnest, crying as I read aloud from a heartfelt letter. We'd see who dyed their hair since last year and who is living in their mom's basement again and it was great fun. Perhaps something of a horrible exercise in judging books by covers and whatnot, sure, but fun nonetheless.

Then along came Facebook. 

See, in the olden times, pre-social media, there were Christmas cards. You'd spend a month of the year receiving small doses of people's lives, pruned to look as pretty as possible. You'd get all caught up on their year through a concise anecdote or two and what is without a doubt the picture they've decided is the best they took all year. But I bet you'd also have a little their life looks so perfect moment of resentment. In that moment you tend to forget that you yourself wrote your card to show off your good parts. You yourself picked that picture of you at the one formal event you attended all year in order maybe to appear more glamorous than you are. These are things our brains forget to remind us when we feel the pang of low self-esteem at those whose lives seem prettier than ours on holiday-themed cardstock. We're just a bunch of [carefully wording, photoshopping] liars. 

So Facebook, I'm pretty sure, would be the equivalent of if every single day of the year from every single person you have ever known you got an upbeat holiday blurb and the very best picture of them they could locate. It's like constantly being beaten over the head with other people's success and good fortune. Where before we got one little mini update once a year and that was enough, at the present moment I think we are significantly too aware of what everyone is up to, all the time. I think it's not terribly healthy. 

And talk about a horrible exercise in judging books by their covers and whatnot. Woof. It's no wonder we're sent into a tizzy when someone posts a bad picture of us or when we tipsy-post something we shouldn't have. Within moments we'll know if someone Likes it. Maybe someone'll comment something sassy or reproachful and we'll feel ashamed. Maybe as the minutes and hours pass, no one will say anything. That's the Facebook kiss of death. That's like someone calling right after the holidays and telling you, "oh I got your card this year" but not saying whether they liked it or not. You're left to wonder, and likely you'll assume the worst. You'll berate yourself for not including the picture of that one day your hair looked really not like a lion's mane, or mentioning all that volunteer work you're doing. Better luck next year. 

We should all try harder to not get sucked into the holiday card game. To recall that while that girls' profile picture makes her look like a supermodel, mine is from the one day I intentionally dressed up for the specific purpose of getting my picture taken and the other 364 days of the year I was probably wearing my sorority sweatshirt with the puff paint stain or one of it's siblings, such as the softball hoodie I stole from my high school. 

So while it's fun to keep up with people, to stay in touch, to see how everyone's doing after all these years, let's just remember something. Facebook, much like a Christmas Card, isn't a full picture of reality. 
It's just a happy snapshot of a normal, messy life.

December 22, 2011

things that don't have faces

I decided to revisit and revise this previously posted post, because today was a hard day. And I wondered for a minute, when I got home tonight, just why it was so hard. And then I realized: I've had this job for 7 months. Mental illness has faces. 

Kids are funny, and my nephew Timmy is one of the cleverest. I find that when he doesn't want to do something, he can usually come up with a pretty good reason that he can't. Once, another little boy wanted Timmy to play with a worm. Clay held up the worm and Timmy told him, regretfully, "oh, I can't. I'm not allowed to touch things that don't have faces."

Besides that this may very well be my favorite sentence of all time, what an interesting thought that is.
Things that don't have faces.

As an aside, it is cold. This morning when I got in my car, it was -13. Degrees. Fahrenheit. Given my personality it may not shock you to learn that I rarely check the weather. As such, I often leave the house wearing inappropriate footwear, and sometimes I walk out my back door in the morning and step into a winter wonderland when I didn't even know it was supposed to snow. But on Sunday at the food bank I had so many people alert me to the weather that this time, I knew it was coming. We prayed a lot this Sunday about the impending temperature drop. We prayed for jobs to come through so that they could afford a motel room for a couple of days, things like that. A mere 48 hours later I walked out of the gym and the sweat in my hair froze. It was in that frigid moment that I started to really worry about those who wouldn't have a place to sleep when it was in the negative teens.

I have to admit that I haven't worried much about this in the past. It's never bothered me to the extent that it did yesterday, anyway. And I felt like such a jerk because it was the first day I worried about it, but it was far from the first time people had been homeless in subzero temperatures. I felt selfish and ignorant and hypocritical. But maybe it isn't that I was a soulless human being before yesterday (fingers crossed). Maybe it's just that this time when it struck me that people would be without homes in this disgusting cold, it didn't just look like a special on the evening news; it looked like people I hugged and laughed with not two days ago. It's not that I've never had compassion for people sleeping on the street, it's just that now, homelessness has faces.

It's sometimes hard to really understand things that are beyond the realm of our experience, because those things don't yet have faces for us. It's not that I don't care or don't see it before, it's just a different, more wholehearted kind of care and sight after. Giving pain a face makes it real-er. And when something gets real for us, I don't think we need to be embarrassed because we didn't get it before. It doesn't mean we're heartless, just so very limited.

I didn't have much empathy for addiction until it had names and stories, until they were in my family, until I saw my own face in theirs. Maybe divorce is just a statistic until your best friend gets one. If you come back from Africa and suddenly can't talk about anything but, it doesn't mean you're going through an "Africa phase" or that your concern is a fad. It's that now, Africa has faces. Maybe you never felt the need to speak out against derogatory slurs until homosexuality was a friend you dearly loved and mentally handicapped was the sweet kid holding your hand tightly at Young Life camp. Suicide didn't hurt until it was someone I'd gotten accustomed to seeing all the time. When I heard about Penn State I had to close my office door and cry for a longer time than I even expected, because child abuse has faces. I didn't often think about cancer until it bulldozed my family, and now even hearing the word hurts. And I didn't pray much about people sleeping on the streets until sleeping on the streets had faces.

My stomach was in knots as I tried to pray over every name I could think of. But through the knots there was a whisper of truth and with it, a sigh of relief: it didn't matter if I knew their names because Jesus knows their facesGod knows each of our faces. We are all faces, names, stories, children, and the knots that I feel over the names I know is nothing compared to the love, compassion, and pain that Jesus feels for us and with us. And while I can't begin to wrap my mind around bad things, while I feel completely blindsided in the face of tragedy, at the end of the day I believe that God is big, bigger than any of it. And Jesus is so personal that the smallness of him can seem almost counterintuitive. I believe he knows your face and my face and the faces of everyone I just mentioned and then some. The very hairs on our heads are numbered. If even just one of us is lost, he knows it, and he comes looking.

I chose this profession. I've picked a life with people, and as I've mentioned before, some days it's hard. Today was harder than most. Maybe this whole face thing is another part of why we're meant to be together, in community, taking care of each other - so that when the horrible days show up, we're not alone. So that we can catch a glimpse of the immensity of the tenderness of God. When we feel the knots (that come, inevitably, with community), I believe it's a reminder that God is big enough to be powerful and small enough to be personal. What a lovely juxtaposition.

Even though it means we have to feel heartbroken sometimes, may our hearts keep right on breaking for the things that break God's heart. Let us [continue to] see faces.

December 16, 2011

santa is a party clown

I continue to posit over and over that my niece and nephew are the funniest kids on the planet. And though she doesn't get nearly enough press on here, my big sister Amie is a kickass mom, and when it comes right down to it, that's why her kids are so cool. And you know I mean it because I said the a-money-money word and I rarely do that in so public a forum. But Amie is so great that she warrants a public swear every now and then. As big sisters go, I really hit the jackpot with mine. Little sister was a role I got comfortable with later in life, when I was maybe not so little, but it's hands-down one of my favorites. And as you can see, just because you're an adult doesn't mean you don't still think your big sisters are the best dressed and coolest ever. For many years I was fairly focused on maintaining my position as bossy elder sister to Ben & Thomas [sorry dudes], so I am experiencing little sister syndrome late in life. So good.

Anyway, for sure Timmy and Shelbie are smarter than me. I'm sure of it, because they are constantly saying things that make my internal dialogue go something like this: I knew that. Right? I did, didn't I? Surely... I must have... They say things that are so funny and profound all at once that it's hard to fully wrap my mind around it. Given their track record, I wasn't that surprised when Timmy said to Amie the other day, about Christmas, the following:

"So, is Santa like a clown for Jesus' birthday?"

[are. you. kidding. me.]

Today I spent more time trying to come up with a Christmas list than I did thinking about Jesus. I'm embarrassed about it, but it's the truth. And that's what Timmy was getting at when he said that to my sister.

"Jesus is what's important, right?"
"Santa is fun but Jesus is the big deal, right?"
"This party is really for Jesus, right?"

Whether he knew it or not, with that little question, Timmy hit a pretty hard theological nerve. For me at least. Because I think no matter how good you are, no matter how much you love Jesus and how well you evangelize and how many seminary degrees you have - yes, even for you - there may come a moment where you're so caught up with the clown that you forget about the real reason for the party. There are moments when things that are not the point take the spotlight over the real reason we're celebrating. When our focus goes to gifts that are shiny and tangible. When we gloss over the gifts that make our souls more beautiful, not so much our wardrobes.

Clowns aren't bad. They're fun, so long as they're not starring in a horror movie. But if you're at a birthday party, you don't fawn over the clown, do you? You don't tell the clown how much you love it, right, how glad you are it was born? Unless, of course, it's a clown's birthday... but let's forget that as an option or my whole analogy is shot. My point is this: instead of spending the holiday season focusing on frivolous entertainment, on Santa Claus and Christmas lists and peppermint mochas and the Mariah Carey Christmas album, I hope that we can all [myself perhaps most of all] heed Timmy's warning and not lose sight of what we're celebrating.

Because this party is really for Jesus.

December 13, 2011

everything is fine

I'm sitting in a 24-hour coffee shop which is right next door to a Cash For Gold establishment. I like this place because there are books everywhere and a piano and not many people and it's a little weird, maybe, but then again so am I, maybe. I came over here straight from recovery group, R@W, where I was just tonight whining about the fact that it seems like nothing is happening in my life right now. I'm bored. I catch up with people and I have nothing new to report, and it's annoying. I'm ready for some excitement and it seems like the readier I get, the less excitement seems to come. The guy making coffee remembers me from last week, so that's something I guess. Maybe I'll be a regular here. Or maybe the Cash For Gold sign is too bright, shining in my eyes. Hard to say.

But now I'm sitting here. I'm listening to Belle & Sebastian, at the moment. It's a song I don't really like, but I don't want to waste a Pandora skip just yet, so I'm hanging in there. There, finally, it's over. And another crappy song has taken it's place, but for some reason I haven't changed the channel yet and honestly I probably won't, for no particular reason. Maybe things will turn around, if I use a skip? Eva Cassidy. Yes please. I am g-chatting with my brother, and I am laughing out loud because he is being funny. And he is in a Starbucks hours and hours to the east of me, laughing out loud because I too am being funny. The girls across from me are obviously horrified, but I'd be lying if I said I cared. I wonder if my brother is as unconcerned with the judgment of the banjo-playing transient he's sharing a table with. I'll have to ask.

And it just struck me -

nasty old chai tea taste in my mouth, another crappy song on Pandora, writing things and talking on the phone intermittently and getting judged by girls wearing too much eyeliner for laughing out loud in public, still a little in disbelief that a real-live author posted my writing on her blog, my eyes are getting sleepy and now I'm antsy to leave because I remember I'm going to finish my book tonight

- that I'm just fine.

It may not be exciting, today. But everything is fine.

December 9, 2011

remember that time I online dated?

There comes a time in every writer's life, I think, where funny has to trump embarrassing. Where no matter how much you don't want people to know you did something, it's too good not to share with the world. That time, for me, is today.

A while back I found myself in kind of a pickle. A jam, if you will. Other foods that come in jars maybe, too, I'm not sure. For one thing, I was becoming acutely aware that I suck at dating. I'm good at a lot of things, but dating is just not one of those things. For the other thing, I was stuck in a pattern of spending a lot of energy on unproductive... situations. Yes, that is an accurately vague word to describe bad news boys. So in a moment of weakness, curiosity, and boredom, I did something I swore I would not do. At least not until my mid to late sixties, anyway.

My famous therapist's encouragement ringing in my ears, I precariously entered my credit card number, THEREBY entering the forbidden and more than slightly embarrassing land... of online daters. Yes, that's right.

I signed up for a month of

I know, I know, I was disappointed in me too. But lucky for you, this experience was, right out of the gate, just absolutely delightful blog fodder. That made it seem less like vulnerability and more like a social experiment, which made me a little less horrified at what I was doing. A little.

Oh, my, you guys, there are some really wretched people on dating websites. And I'm not trying to be judgey or anything, truly, but there are some real weirdies out there! They make choices that truly blow my mind. I mean, you would think that someone who is writing and posting things with the SPECIFIC PURPOSE of trying to convince someone to want to date them would be a little more choosy. But you guys, they aren't.

I went in with an open mind, I assure you I did, but it was hard to maintain that level of acceptance. After the first date - the most awkward and un-fun two hours of my life thus far - I knew that this wasn't going to work out. Going on dates with people you know you're not interested in spending a minute with, let alone a lifetime, is not a fun thing. It's just not. So after that little escapade, I decided to stay away from situations where I would have to spend more than 5 minutes with someone who wasn't even a little bit interesting to me. It was too painful. Which, you may be able to deduce, means I didn't go on very many dates during this monthlong venture.
But I did put together a little list of advice for those poor clueless lonelyboys.
And I hope they will heed my warnings:
1a. If the first thing that comes to mind when I see your primary photo is "he's for sure in his mom's basement in this pic" then you're in trouble. This means no pictures of you clearly taken by a webcam with you sprawled across the floral comforter that's probably been on your bed since 1996. No thank you.

1b. Oh and also, if the only pictures you have to offer the world wide web are pictures of you by yourself in your bedroom or shirtless in the reflection of your mirror, I'm not going to find that attractive. I'm not going to swoon at your rockin' hot bod, which is clearly what you're hoping I'll focus on. I'm probably going to assume you don't have any friends and rarely leave the aforementioned basement.

2. Maybe don't start an email to a girl who is white [this is an actual direct quote. I copied and pasted for authenticity], "up front and honest, typically I date black... however, I've been trying not to limit the possibilities." Yes, yes, I'm swooning. I'd love to go out with you even though I don't fit the racial profile you typically go for. Your honesty is not at all weird to me. Also, for the record, that guy was also white.

3. If you find yourself typing the words, "Am I too close to social security for you to consider going out with me?" - you probably are.

4. Is there a cat on/around/in the vicinity of your photo? Is the first thing under interests, "my cat"? I'm out. It's over before it began. Our love was doomed from the start.

5. More than once I was matched with someone based on the following criteria only: "Like you, he's not a smoker!" Really? You air 26 success stories per minute on national televison and that's the best criteria you can use to find me love? It's not even fully true, there just wasn't an option for "only sometimes at really low points in my life and I don't plan on divulging that until we're like 10 dates in," now was there? No. No there was not. Thanks for letting me be my whole authentic self, Match.

6. If you're opening sentens is typed as tho u r an orangutan who probly didn't finish 4th grade, I probly am guna twitch a little until I can find the "no" button. Srsly. It's 1 paragraf on a dating websight. Get a proofreeder. Use spelchek. I beg of u. It's not 2 hard, I promiss.

7. likewise if you cant be bothered to use Punctuation or are sporadic and inconsistent with Your capitalizations I might go out with you just so i can have an opportunity to Punch you in the face for your clear hatred of the english Language

8. One guy who emailed me mentioned that he liked to cook. I asked, what was his specialty? This was his response, and I quote: "I am a good cook. I can make anything. For me cooking is a science and I have the skills to cook so all I need is a recipe. I don't know much food science though so I don't create things too much on my own. I like to cook all things. I am not much of a baker though." So wait. It's a science to you, but you don't know much of it? I'm confused on several levels. One of two things is happening here: either this guy is literally a robot, or he is the actual most boring person I've ever interacted with.
9. Making 27 comments about "I never know what to say on these things" or "how awkward this is LOL" does not, in fact, make it less awkward.
10. If we're out, on a date, and I tell you I don't want gravy fries, please don't embarrass us both by trying to peer pressure me into ordering them while the waiter stands there, awkwardly, probably considering if we'd notice if he just slipped away and avoided this whole situation. Force feeding me food I don't want is not attractive and will not, in fact, lead to us going two-stepping together after our drink, which you had originally hoped for.

So there you have it. There are some normal people on there, I think, they're just... harder to come by, let's say. Lots of people date online. Some people even succeed and get married and live happily ever after and I think that's superb. So while I genuinely see nothing wrong with it and I'm sure some of those people I mentioned are perfectly normal men who simply made bad dating-profile choices, I think I'm done with it for now. I just don't feel great about feeling like my every word, photo, and habit is being judged and analyzed by weirdos using the internetz from their mom's basement.

Someday I'll get better at this whole deal. I mean, I will, right? I will. I think. Either way, I've met too many unicorns to get caught up with robots who "don't know much food science" or two-stepping-gravy-fry-pushers. Plus, maybe some girl out there wants to date a guy who can't spell and loves cats and has an assortment of floral bedspreads. I bet the weirdies are unicorns for someone, too.

I like that, actually. Let's end with that.
On the high note of a low point.

December 6, 2011

at times most unexpected

I missed you today.

And it never happens when I expect it to, but at times most unexpected, which is tricky. Because instead of being ready for it I'm standing in a store and I see something you'd like. And I think, what a perfect gift! Before my brain has time to catch up, I hold the thing in my hand. I applaud myself again for how much you will love it.

And then I remember.

I prepare for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, important days. I know they will be sad and I am ready. But I do not prepare myself for walking through a store. I cannot anticipate that I might hear that song you loved. I don't know how to plan for being caught off guard.

That is a hard thing about grief, to be standing in the sale room of a store in a mall holding measuring spoons shaped like fish in my hands and I feel like I can't breathe because I forgot, for a moment, that I cannot buy you presents.

On the other hand, I don't mind that every now and then you are still so present to me that I want to buy you one. That's how I get myself to let go of the fish and walk back out of the sale room and into the mall and so on and so forth; because it is in those moments, in songs and stores and other little pieces of you out there in the big wide world, that I remember how to keep breathing and living and being ok. Because no matter what any of us do or where we go or how well we prepare for any of it, you'll always be there, in those places, with each of us. At times most unexpected.

December 1, 2011

the one where I guest post for reverie.

How I get so lucky as to be a guest poster on sweet Sarah's reverie blog, I just don't know. But sometimes she lets me and today is one of those times! The topic she presented spoke to my soul and I had no choice but to answer. Here is that answer. And while you're there, definitely read some of Sarah's brilliant writing!

Also, something funny: in order to submit this post, I had to post an original photo with it. I toiled over what to do and ended up having a delightfully awkward afternoon photo shoot with my friend and coming up with the photo for the post. But we also came up with these which I think demonstrate pretty adequately how not acquainted I am with posing for photo shoots. Hope you enjoy.

sorry, subscribers...

Last night I pressed the wrong key and accidentally posted something unintentionally. It was an old post I was playing with and it's not done and I didn't mean to post it. Soooooo... ignore it. Or don't, I guess, that's your call. The original is probably better and you can find that here.

November 27, 2011

I like scarves because they make my neck feel safe

I feel like by now almost everyone in my life already knows this little factoid - and thus tortures me with it on the daily - and for the rest of you, well, now you'll know too. I have a highly irrational issue with people touching my neck. I HATE IT. I will judo karate chop you right in the jugular if you come near it. I really don't know why, and yes, there are some exceptions to the rule. But generally, I am programmed to flinch as though you've thrown a grenade at my face the minute you reach for that vulnerable area between my face and my bod. Which, come to think of it, probably explains why I own like 37 scarves; they make my neck feel safe. And I like feeling safe in a wide variety of fashionable colors, apparently.

Over the holiday, I got a facial for the first time. I walked back to the tranquil room, ready to get my relaxation on, and I lay down as instructed and waited for my facialist to re-enter when I realized something alarming. She was going to be all up in my neck space. I panicked a little, but I thought, it's fine. I can totally handle this. I could not. It was a nightmare. Constant neck touching. I flinched as she touched me the first time, then the second, third, fourth, until she said very sweetly in her heavily accented voice, "You're goink to chave to get over this, sveetie. I'm goink to be touching your neck the chwhole time." Perfect.

I realized suddenly that my shoulders were literally up my my ears and I was white-knuckling the sides of the table like my life depended on it. I was embarrassed by my inability to lock it up and thus, determined - and I did it. Slowly but surely. I made myself put my shoulders back down and unclench the table. I reacted a little less every time she reached down, until finally, I relaxed. And ohhhh, how relaxed I was. It was a positively blissful hour of time. My discomfort at the outset aside, that hour of perilous neck-touching put me in a state of peacefulness unlike I'd experienced before.

So of course it got me thinking, you know as everything does, about vulnerability. I keep looking for a study that states something like, JUST KIDDING! You don't need to be vulnerable to be happy. Go ahead and hide under scarves forever. But the more I look for that, the more lessons I learn that are exactly the opposite; that everything worth having requires some degree of vulnerability on my part. Much like you can't get the full effect of a facial without letting somebody touch your neck [no matter how much it makes you want to scream], you can't really connect or be known if you're not exposed a little. It just can't happen.

Touching is the most tangible form of connection there is, I think, and thus serves as a pretty stellar metaphor here. And this experience taught me something that's probably kind of an important extension to all my other lessons about being vulnerable. Metaphorically speaking, the places I don't want to be touched are probably where I need it the very most. There's something really beautiful about letting it happen, too, I can tell you that from experience. It was horribly unpleasant, because for that window of time I was at risk of strangulation and other such neck-specific foul play, but in the end, letting go of it made for an insanely delightful hour of self-care.

There will always be options to flee, or scream, or punch someone in the jugular when they get close to wherever your vulnerable place is. But you're gonna have to suck it up and let someone touch your neck if you want the best possible experience. And you're going to really hate it, right up until you realize that you don't.

November 23, 2011

on generations

Generations are fun because when you're the same generation as someone else, unless you grew up on different continents, you are probably going to have something in common. Probably, you who are reading this from my same generation, one of the following is true:

We both loved Shining Time Station [and as a result...]
We were both pretty convinced that jukeboxes only operated because puppet bands lived inside them
We both wished our pog collections contained slightly more impressive slammers
We're both going to get excited when "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" comes on the radio
We both wore half side ponies on the first day of school at least once
We owned Umbros. Or Sambas. Or both. And probably wore them together. Every day.

Anyway, I could go on, but unless you are a girl and were born in the mid-80's, you probably are bored by now. My point is that even though popular culture is sort of lame in a lot of ways, there is a commonness to it that is a little bit nice.

A while back I was talking to my friend Megan. We get confused a lot because we both spell our names the right way and both of our last names start with G. Anyway, once we were talking about our similar name and we discovered - much to our dismay and delight - that we share something else in common: we have the same namesake.

Both Megan G and I were named for the same slutty [sorry if that's crude, but I mean, she was] character, Meggie, from the same smutty novel, The Thorn Birds, which was published in 1977 and which both of our moms read and loved. And while it is alarming on several levels that I am named after a character who fell in love and had an affair with her priest, let's just bypass that detail and agree that it's funny and great that Megan and I have this oddly specific thing in common.

So, while our mom's can bond over their common love for some good old fashioned smut [I've got to be honest here - I read it too and loved it so much] Megan and I can bond over our mom's weird connection and over Fraggle Rock or having wanted to look like Kelly Kapowski at some point or another, I'm sure.

It's nothing terribly exciting or revolutionary.
But it's kind of fun, and that's something good too.

November 20, 2011

divine reminders

It was a hectic morning. With Thanksgiving coming up, the Well was crazy. And since I sort of thrive in chaos, I didn't hate it - it was kind of fun if a little exhausting. But by the time I got out of there, my entire self was moving a mile a minute. My brain was buzzing and I had pretty much forgotten all about stillness. Now, if you haven't read what I wrote about stillness on Wednesday, go do it real fast. We'll wait.

So I run out of the Well and remember that if I'm going to bake this afternoon, I'd better stop by the store and get some chocolate chips on my way home. To be perfectly candid, as I was leaving, I had a little sad moment. I don't know what it was - because I didn't even take a second to identify it before I was in full-swing go-mode and had successfully forgotten that there had even been sadness to begin with. Which is, to be clear, exactly the opposite of what I learned from the lady eating soup. She was but a distant memory as I walked into the store, still doing six things at once, still not in any way still

I grabbed some chocolate chips and some cuties clementines because they were the perfect shade of orange that you know they'll be delicious and I walked towards self-checkout, and you guys, I am not kidding you: there, right in front of me, shuffling through the store in the exact same jacket I wrote about on Wednesday, was the lady eating soup. She's perhaps been to the hairdresser since last we met but it was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, her.

After I registered who she was, I got very awkward and ducked back into the baking aisle and feigned interest in muffin mixes until she passed by. She was, of course, entirely oblivious to the absurd reality that someone I wrote about randomly in a Panera less than a week ago was now in front of me in a grocery store that was on a completely different side of town than said Panera. I mean, really? That's just plain crazy. 

I told my friend that story today and her response, I think, says it better than I could. After hearing about the lady eating soup and her valiant reappearance in my life today, she just looked at me and said:

"Stop it. Jesus!!"

My friend is right; it was. And the message I saw in the lady eating soup was to stop. So, I did. And I was sad a little, sure, but it's okay that I was sad because that's just what I was today I guess. And you can't be anything other than what you are, so that's that then. My big issue with stopping is that sometimes when you stop, when you're still, there are feelings to contend with. Which is in large part why I am opposed to being still in the first place. Which is I'm pretty sure why the lady who ate soup showed up in my day today. 

I wonder if she knows. I wonder if she has any idea that a chaotic twenty-something is getting seemingly divine reminders of stillness from her. I wonder if she feels a little tug and quietly knows, in her peaceful sort of way, that she made a difference in a life. I still really can't believe that I saw her again. It just seems like a lot of work, I guess; bringing that poor old woman all the way to the grocery store by my church, far away from the Panera where she eats soup, just to remind me to be still. But it's an important lesson, isn't it? So important that I needed to hear it twice in 4 days, apparently. 

I suppose I'd better listen. Mostly because if I'm faced with a third encounter with the lady eating soup, I'd have no choice but to talk to her. And we all know how awkward I can be.

November 16, 2011

a lady eating soup

I am sitting in a big comfy chair in the corner, happily bouncing my feet to the bluegrass pouring from my headphones, indulging myself with some adolescent literature. I look up for a second, only for a second, to see if they've refreshed the coffee yet, and I see you. You, a lady eating soup. You catch my eye.

There you sit, in a booth all alone, slurping soup in slow, deliberate spoonfuls. Daintily dipping your baguette, when the mood strikes. You don't speak. You don't have any company, today, as you eat soup in the afternoontime. You don't read a book or listen to music or even really look around much. You just eat soup. Legs folded neatly under the table, cups and bowls and utensils lined meticulously in front of you, napkin gently resting on your lap, you eat soup. You are still.

At first you make me sad. I think, oh, how sad, to eat alone. How upsetting, to have nothing to do while you eat your soup. But I realize upon further study that the sadness is mine - I don't think you are sad at all. The discomfort is my own, it must be, because I think you are content. I think you are peaceful and graceful and lovely in your Reebok sneakers and sky blue sweatshirt. Your hair is unruly and your eyes are soulful and your skin is wrinkled in ways that let me know you've lived and loved and laughed in your lifetime. Maybe even just today, right before you came here to eat soup. I wonder if that's what you're thinking of now. Or if you're thinking of anything at all.

And I think, I could learn something from you. I could stand a lesson in stillness, in contentment, in grace. I bet you play bridge with your friends and laugh until you cry, sometimes, but today you are just taking a moment to eat soup. By yourself. At 4:00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday in an unseasonably warm November. And you seem to be just fine with that.

I watch as you don your jacket, probably the same one you've worn for years, gather up your things, and shuffle out of the place. I think a little thank you to you, the lady eating soup, and then I return my gaze to my book. My feet pick back up with the rhythm of bluegrass, and I sigh a little sigh and sink a little further into my big comfy chair in the corner.

Just ever so slightly stiller than before.

November 9, 2011

the thing about people

People are crazy. It's a fact. I'm not trying to be hateful or flippant, I'm just trying to put it out there, yknow, safe space and all. People, myself included, are generally pretty nuts. Which makes them an interesting sort of business to be in. As a professionally diagnosed extrovert and social butterfly, I love that I get to work with people for my job, and I really do heart relationships. I need them, I thrive on them, they are great. Sometimes, however, relationships with people are not fun. They are colorful and not in the good way. They are annoying and high maintenance and a lot of work, generally speaking. Some days, even though I am naturally bent in this social direction, I get tired. In my profession as well as my life I get tired of people, because being involved with people means that some days, I get yelled at. I get used. I get ignored. I feel swindled and stuff and that is no fun.


Some days, babies get born and you get to hold their little hands. Some days, people need a hug and you're who gets to give it. Some days little girls sit on your lap, pet your face, and tell you how nice you are. Some days parties get thrown and you get to bring the funfetti. Some days, you get to see people thrive and succeed and recover and it's so beautiful. Some days you are thanked and loved and valued and it's a gift unlike any other.

That's the thing about people. Maybe it doesn't make the days you get crapped on any easier in the moment. But in the longrun, I promise, the good stuff faaaaar outweighs the crap stuff. And that makes it more than worth it.

November 6, 2011

never too old to be new

Lately I have been feeling old. Not due to my age, so much, because I'm actually younger than most of my friends and spend the majority of my time trying to seem older than I am, where age is concerned. So not old-old, just sort of used up. Maybe a little lost. I don't know why really; it's not like anything is overtly wrong. There's just sort of an underlying feeling of yuck.

But this morning I woke up feeling new. I walked into church and someone said I looked wide awake, and I thought, yeah, daylight savings! I got an extra hour of sleep! But that wasn't it. Kenneth would probably tell you it's because I went to my first metal concert last night and now my life is forever changed. And be that as it may, that wasn't all it was either. I was wearing a new scarf, but new scarves [while delightful] don't usually have such a profound effect on my psyche. I had a great weekend - I saw so much live music, spent so much time with people I like, did crafts and laundry and took care of other life-necessities that having gone undone were causing me anxiety. But a good weekend and a little less anxiety still aren't enough to account for what I felt like this morning.

Then there was a baptism at church. And I always get real weepy when there are baptisms because it's just the best thing to hear someone talk about where they were and how Jesus saved their lives. There's nothing like a good story of redemption and recovery to tug at my heartstrings. They are a new creation - you can see it in their face and feel it in their joy. Having been doing this Christian business for some time now myself, I forget sometimes what it's like to feel that shiny newness. Which is silly, because it even says in the bible that because God is faithful, his compassions are new every morning. Regardless of time passed, I still need that grace. A lot, actually. Regardless of years under my belt, so to speak, I should still be living and telling stories of redemption and recovery. I am still new. Which is at once and the same time both significantly disconcerting and supremely comforting, if you really stop and think about it.

Isn't it the best when you get a perfect gift and it's a thing you didn't ask for? Something you maybe didn't even think to ask for in the first place? Well, sometimes, more often than I deserve, I get gifts I didn't ask for. Extravagant gifts. Gifts I didn't really even know I wanted. I just show up at church one Sunday, well-rested thanks to daylight savings, neck warm under a new red Target scarf, ears still ringing from heavy metal, and boom.

You're never too old to be new. And for that I am grateful.

October 26, 2011


When I was a little girl, I thought my grandpa Jim was the best. And I didn't really get this at the time, but Jim was not my actual biological grandfather, so we never called him Grandpa. But I was little. And he was the one making silly faces at me across the dinner table and the one crouching down on the floor to feign dismay and pretend like it was entertaining when I sent the prince plummeting through the trapdoor on the Fisher Price Castle that I never stopped playing with. And when you're little, that's pretty much the definition of true love. As the story goes, without being told one way or the other, I always referred to Jim as "my Jim." Grandpa or not, I was too little to know that this wonderful man laying on the tile beside me was anyone other than mine.  Because that's what he was - that was the part that mattered to my little self. Just like Nana was my Nana, Jim was my Jim. And that was that.

I didn't know this when I was a kid, but this is a lesson I would be glad I learned early. Because as you may have gathered, I come from a broken home. A phrase that doesn't bother me anymore because even if it is what psychology textbooks call us, it's not what we feel like to me. Generally speaking, brokenness implies a need for grace and I'm cool with that. But distinguishing my family as more broken than any other implies that we by definition inherently need fixing, and I just dare you to try and tell me that. Because I'll be more than happy to knock you into next week. 

Which is a perfect segue to the topic at hand: today is Tim Farrell's birthday. 

Now, first and foremost, Tim has been a faithful reader, commenter, and self-appointed editor of this blog since its humble origins in the Fall of 2007. And that, that's dedication, because I write about a lot of inconsequential stuff that probably doesn't all always interest him. Recently, Tim has been sending helpful suggestions to me via email after I post. Suggestions mostly involving how I could have slipped in a mention of him in posts about things that really had nothing to do with him. When I suggested he had such good ideas that maybe HE should write a blog, he said, "no, I'm just the idea man. I could even be your agent if you want." He's just such a giver, you know?

But in all seriousness - on this, his birthday - let's raise a glass [of coffee, come on, it's morning] to Tim. The guy who comments on my blog even when it has nothing to do with him and thinks I'm great even when I'm probably not sometimes. The guy who drove to Denver to stand in a moving truck bossing my friends around and in so doing made moving 1,000 times less stressful for me. The guy who would drop anything at any moment [and has] to sing karaoke with me. The guy who reminds me that the world isn't ending when someone has knocked out the front passenger side window of my car. The guy who tells the same 3-5 jokes no matter what country he's in, who he's talking to, and regardless of if it makes sense or not. The collector of cool cars and the maker of egg sandwiches and the kind of person who thinks to get me a new hair straightener when mine breaks and I am too poor and unemployed to replace it myself. To Tim, who has been faithfully laying on the proverbial tile beside me for so long I barely remember a time when he wasn't. Who is this, you might ask me? And I might answer, he's my Tim. And if you gave me any lip, I'd probably point at an imaginary stain on your shirt and pop you in the nose when you looked down. Because that'd show you.

When you're a kid, it doesn't matter who anyone is so much as how they are. No one sat me down and explained to me exactly how Jim was related to me, but I knew [in the way that little girls know] who he was. What I love most about that is that I don't think anyone meant to intentionally teach me to feel this way about family. I am thankful that I have the kind of family where this is just the reality. Where no matter how messy and convoluted it gets, family is just that and it doesn't so much matter where they came from or when or how, it matters that they're mine. What matters extends far beyond biology or genetics to presence and silly faces and Fisher Price castles. 

When you're a grown up, luckily, not much changes in this way. I'm always going to care less about who anyone is and more about how they are. I might be older now, but I still know [in the way that even girls who aren't so little know] who Tim is. Because what matters is presence and hair straighteners and egg sandwiches. What matters is that he's mine.

October 25, 2011

hello, Allen

Some of you may recall reading about when I had to change my phone number. I gave up mine and naturally, got a new one. I was really intentional about it because for some reason I really wanted a 303 area code, but those are apparently a hot commodity, so you have to snatch em up early in the day. So I went, first thing in the morning, and out of a long list, I picked my new number. I guess I never really thought about where phone numbers come from. I guess I assumed they were regenerated by a computer and spit back out, new. But that doesn't really make any sense... eventually we'd run out, right? There can't just be infinite phone numbers. You can't retire them like football jerseys after somebody great had them. I don't know. I've never been great at math.

Needless to say, as I chose from the list of 303's, I unknowingly inherited a phone number from someone named Shelley. And I've been learning some things about Shelley. One of my favorite pastimes is to take context clues and try to piece together the whole story. It's kind of a weird habit and makes me feel a little creepy sometimes, but essentially, I want to be Nancy Drew. Or Harriet the Spy. Really either one would be fine. Anyway, here's what I know about Shelley:

After getting the new number, when I called Kansas, she came up on the caller ID as "Allen White." I know this because for months every time I called my house I was greeted with, "hello, Allen." Which was a real treat. I've decided [based on both my imagination and insinuations of information to come] that Allen is Shelley's sugar daddy. He paid for the phone, so it was in his name. Obviously.

Shelley gets constant calls from collections agencies and other angry sounding 1-800 numbers. Shelley isn't a very responsible spender, I've deduced.

This tidbit was also backed up by the fact that when I tried to change my phone number [which acts as your ID] at 24-Hour Fitness, they asked if I was Shelley, and if I would like to pay the money I owed them. I explained that I was not, in fact, Shelley, nor did I know who Shelley was, so no, I would not be taking care of her debt. That's the other thing about this whole deal - everyone who calls thinks that I should somehow telepathically know where Shelley is. I may have big dreams of covert ops, but I'm not magic, people, ok?

Shelley may or may not be incarcerated. Potentially in Washington. This I know because the other day I got a call asking me to confirm my advance pay account with which I could put money on a card to make phone calls from prison. "Ummmmmmmm, no thank you. I think I'm all set. Yep. Yes. I'm pretty surely sure."

The Child Support Enforcement Medical Support Facilitator Project would like to speak with her. That's a direct quote. I have no idea what that entails but it sounds like nothing I ever want to be a part of. [Maybe Allen was a baby-daddy too? There's just really no way of knowing.]

What's my point, you ask? I probably don't have one. In fact I'm sure I don't. But Shelley, if you're out there, take care of your biz-nass so these people will stop calling me and insisting I tell them where you are. Also maybe call sometime and explain to me just what happened with you to make your number become available in July of 2011 for me to swipe out from under you, because it sounds like it's a pretty convoluted story. And I really want to know if I'm right about Allen.

I guess I should thank you, too, because you have made getting a new phone number not only a fun game of sleuthery but also an exercise in gratitude. As in, fielding your phone calls makes me grateful that my most stressful calls are from my family members reminding me that someone's birthday is tomorrow and I haven't sent anything yet. And those are pretty stressful, and frequent, but not quite so much as the debt collectors and prison phone systems.

Thank God for small favors, that's all I'm saying.

October 16, 2011

I turned on my tiny red iPod, and...

In the latest of a string of events that I like to call "being a grown up is a real pain in the a-money-money so far," yesterday morning I walked outside to my car, innocently trying to meet Beckie for brunch, only to find that my front passenger side window had been bashed in, and my iPod was MIA.

Please. A moment of silence for my tiny red friend.

I could spend a good while telling you all how and why this sucks, but you are all humans and can probably make many accurate assumptions about that yourselves, so I'll leave you to it. I got in my car this morning, the window fixed and good as new, and I unconsciously reached for the little guy to turn on some jams, and alas - it was not there. And I thought about all of the times I've used the phrase "I turned on my tiny red iPod, and..." on this blog, and I had a nostalgic little moment about it. I miss it already.

It's a bummer, that's for sure. But it's fine. I didn't lose any actual music, just the music receptacle. I still have all my good/bad/show tunes. And as a coping strategy, I kept the Cranberries Greatest Hits in the CD player all weekend, which has been super miraculous. Like, really. Every time I get in my car it comes on and I'm immediately filled with joy and wonderment. I'm not even exaggerating. It's that good.

My mom spent the weekend with her high school besties (or as they call themselves, "My True Blues") helping one such MTB move out of her house. Mom called me last week and asked if I would make them a mix cd for their weekend - and as mix cd's are my love language, I happily complied. But I realized pretty quickly that the only way this mix cd was going to get there on time was if it was overnighted. So I went to the place where you do that, and inquired about how much it might cost me to mail this little brown envelope to Ohio and have it get there in time for the True Blues' arrival. She told me how much and I balked, but agreed to pay the price. She seemed to think this was a little weird, and asked me, "so, are these like, tickets or something? A really important document?" Imagine her surprise when I answered, "Ohhhhh no. It's a mix cd."

But you know what? Worth it. Because music - especially music that is special to us (even if it is Earth, Wind & Fire) - can make things that suck, suck less. Music can comfort. Music is memories. It puts words and tunes to feelings we couldn't name before and it reminds us of things we already know; things that are true. It's familiar in the good way. For some, it's a means of connection. Whatever it is, it's a gift, and it's one of the beauties in this occasionally yucky world that makes me feel all gushy and sappy. It gives me faith. It makes me feel loved.

And though this weekend I lost a meaningful little vessel of that love, this week I was also loved well: in live musical free-for-alls, in the giving and receiving of mix cd's, in the sharing of memories attached to certain songs. I sat with someone in their pain and we found a moment of laughter and relief in the soft beat of the Eagles over the loudspeakers at the dentist's office. I was loved in the reassuring words of the hymn we sang in church this morning, in Disney songs at a friend's wedding, and in the comfort of the Cranberries. That's a lot of love, you guys.

The world can be yucky. And from Moon River to Hotel California, the Cupid Shuffle to Amazing Grace, whether I'm in my favorite concert venue, the pew of my church, or sitting indian style in Michele's living room singing along to the karaoke channel - music makes it seem a little less so. I see Jesus in that.

So rest in peace, my tiny red iPod. May you find fulfillment in the pockets of your captors [or whoever they choose to sell you to on the black market]. Sing to them like you did to me and maybe they'll stop breaking people's car windows and ruining their Saturday brunch plans. Here's hoping.

October 3, 2011


So the thing is, I moved.

I moved out of the house I have lived in for [nearly] the entirety of my time here in Denver. Aside from my first 3 months in this city [when I lived in a sketchy snazzy little apartment downtown with Alix] I have lived in the 1403 house. As for why this move took place, let's just leave it at this: I tried my hardest to stay and nothing [and I do mean nothing] worked out. The best possible option for what to do next existed in an apartment a couple of miles away. So while I do think this is the right thing, to have moved, the choice made me more than I made it.

There was so little time between said choice and d-day that I was immediately catapulted into action mode and forced to work my little fingers to the bone getting ready. Living in such a big place for such a long time, I think, would turn the most simple of livers into a hoarder. I have packrat tendencies to begin with, so as you can imagine, moving out of that house was no easy task. All that to say, it happened so fast that it wasn't until tonight - the move over and final and done, the house cleared out and cleaned up and empty as can be - that it finally hit me. I went through each room one last time. I started to take the key off my keychain and my eyes got full of emotion and I cried. I cried a lot. Significantly more than I expected to cry, in fact, and I stood there for a solid 45 minutes and I couldn't make myself leave because it seemed so final and suddenly, I wasn't ready for it to be over.

Because on the one hand, it's just a house. And yes, we had mice. The maintenance man who we had to call all the time, Sam Hill [I did not make that up], had a conspiracy theory about almost everything from the Catholic Church to the government controlling cloud formation. The windows in the entire house are painted shut so no air that isn't central air circulates through the house ever. It's arctic in the winter, tropical in the summer. I don't think it was ever really been satisfactorily clean in the entire four years I lived there. It was decorated primarily with items that were a) acquired in some kind of white-elephant gift exchange or b) free. There is duct tape holding my shower together. And I'm pretty sure if you take a shower in the upstairs bathroom at the right time of day the neighbors might can see you a little bit naked. All of these things are true about that house. All of those things are less than ideal on multiple levels.

And while leaving those things behind I'm ok with, closing the door for the last time meant closing the door on a really beautiful four years of my life. On so many occasions it has been filled to maximum capacity with my people. I drank a lot of cheap wine and made a lot of great friends. It's where I spent the night on the floor while my bed went unoccupied because a sleepover sounded fun. I spent snow days watching movies in the basement and I trundled and I baked a bazillion pumpkin cookies and I became a writer. I lived with ten different roommates in this house [thirteen if you count the dogs]. I never quite knew who would stroll in the back door and that was fine because whoever it was was welcome and they knew it. I like who I've become there. And you know what? I actually really like Sam Hill. I like [most ofwhat I learned there and I am so unbelievably thankful that in these past four years of finding and losing and laughing and crying I've had a home. And like I've said before, there are few things more comforting and lovely than the right kind of home.

So off I've gone. Part of me is excited and part of me is terrified and most of me is just tired, what with all the crying. And I think it's ok to grieve a little because, say what you want, change is hard. But what I have discovered in the past two weeks of purging my life of extraneous items is that without meaning to, I've let a lot of things that don't define me do just that. And maybe that's why I couldn't stay there any longer. That house will always be special to me, but that house is not me. I will be me without the Halloween Party. I will be me without a big house in a perfectly central location. I will be me in my new house, too. And it might take a minute to figure out what that looks like - but just like any good breakup, no matter how amicable the terms, I've got to give myself some time to be sad. Then, though, I have to turn off the 90's breakup ballads, get up, and figure out how to be me outside of 1403 S. University Blvd.

Probably I'll learn some more and then probably I'll write something really magical about it. So we have that to look forward to, which is nice. In the meantime, I'll just be here in my new apartment, listening to Exposé and replaying the good times in a black and white montage in my headBecause nothing commemorates true love like a good saxophone solo.

It was a pleasure living in you, house. Thanks for the memories, as they say.

September 13, 2011

honest ≠ embarrassing

The other day I had to do a hard thing. As part of my work day, I had to spend some hours at Denver Health. Here is one way Denver Health has been described to me: "Hell is a lot like one of the waiting rooms. Except at Denver Health it's hotter and there's more Michael Bolton music." I feel like that should paint you a pretty solid picture of why I don't love that place so much.

But this particular day in one such waiting room, I watched as two women waited for their labwork to be completed and struck up a conversation. Now, we were in a tiny room, a room so tiny that whispering would have been entirely pointless, as I'm pretty sure the guy next to me could actually hear my thoughts. Which is why it was interesting to me when these women - complete strangers - began talking. Within, I'd say, three minutes of initiating this conversation, they were sharing with one another [and by default, the rest of us as well] about their struggles with addiction, discussing in detail their drugs of choice, and pretty literally comparing rap sheets.

I have chosen a profession where my job will always be, in large part, to allow people space to share personal things. But this? I won't lie to you, I was super freaked out. I wanted to aggressively tap them both on the shoulders and remind them that those things are personal and you are in public! I started to get embarrassed for them and for myself, a little. But as I wiped my sweaty palms on my cloth-covered padfolio, I started to listen. And as I listened I realized that this wasn't embarrassing, it was just honest.

And then I got a little sad that those two things are sometimes, in my mind, synonymous.

There is a researcher named Brene Brown who decided she did not like the idea of vulnerability and was going to do a lot of research and essentially [her words] "outsmart it." It's the greatest thing ever because she totally fails and gets on board with vulnerability as basically an essential to what she calls whole-hearted living. She defines shame as "the fear of disconnection." She says: "Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. It's why we're here."

In one of those bizarro, colliding-of-worlds moments, though these women were strangers to one another, I happened to be privy to a little bit of both of their hearts on that particular day. And as such, I believe firmly that they both left feeling refreshed, feeling important and validated and loved, because they connected with each other. It was raw and messy, it's true. It was absolutely not the prettiest thing I've ever seen. But it was also unarguably good.

Recently I've gotten to spend time with people who wear their hearts [and rap sheets] right there on their sleeves. In my experience, they can occasionally tend to be construed as uncouth, impolite, maybe even a little bit inappropriate. But even when I put on my judgiest of judgey faces, really? I would give just about anything to be that brave.

So maybe instead of worrying about being socially acceptable, we share. Maybe instead of being ashamed, we connect. Maybe we are even honest with a stranger in a waiting room. It won't always end well. We may even get our little hearts broken. But the lives we get to live are wholehearted ones.

And each time we leave the proverbial waiting room I bet we'll know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was worth it.

August 20, 2011

if karaoke was a love language, it would be mine

I am a pretty good convincer; it is one of my sharper skills. On the one hand, it probably has something to do with that I'm especially good at being convinced. But on the other, I have a lot of strong desires that sometimes other people don't share, so in order to not to do stuff alone, I convince. For sure in the top five of said strong desires are singing karaoke on a regular basis and also doing the Cupid Shuffle any/all the time. Karaoke isn't a tough sell, but I can't tell you how many times I have had to defend my love for the Cupid Shuffle and basically drag people to the dance floor. Sure, it can be tiring, but this is important work, people. And if not me, who?

So last night I was at my favorite place in all the land, Dubbs Pub, singing karaoke. A little backstory - I have been talking this place up to my coworkers pretty much since my second day of work. And finally, at long last, my dreams came true. Now, I can tend to get a little too excited about things, maybe even overshoot a touch when it comes to talking about something I like a lot, so I secretly worried just a little that once we got there my coworkers would call shenanigans and shun me forever for leading them astray. But that was not the case. Not even a little bit.

I sang, they sang, we sang together - and my heart was full, so full I thought it might burst. And then without warning, I heard a beat. I heard Cupid whispering as if just to me, "cupid, shuffle, cupid, shuffle..." and before you go putting on your judgey pants, here's the thing about the Cupid Shuffle: I just  like it. I know it's a dance and it's silly and inconsequential, but it is a silly inconsequential dance that makes me happy. Sorry I'm not sorry. On this particular evening, I heard my jam beginning and pretty much on autopilot, I walked-it-by-myself to the dance floor and prepared myself to recruit.

But you guys: these beautiful souls, my coworkers, required no convincing, because they were already there kick-now-kick-now-come-on-baby-kicking right alongside me. I thought I might cry. And it's not just because some people know a dance I know - no, it was more than that. Convincing is fine, I generally don't mind it, and like I said, I'm pretty good at it. But sometimes it is a nice thing to look around and see other people who already like what you like and then just enjoy liking it together. For a moment in time I did not have to organize or convince or recruit or rally the troops. Sometimes being social and having fun can be a lot of work, and that is annoying. Last night was fun and great and I didn't have to do anything but show up. And sing and dance, of course.

Let's all take a moment to recall that I looked for a job for a year and a half. How did I get so lucky to find a job I love where I also get to work with people who share at least two of my top five favorite things? Three if you count Yogurtland, and I totally do.

I knew I liked them; I told you about it. But this? I mean really. Beyond my wildest dreams.

August 13, 2011

it's saturday night

I babysat tonight. I am still babysitting, in fact, but the little tots are sound asleep in their little beds, all worn out from our all-afternoon-and-evening dance party. It's understandable, really, I'm pretty wiped myself.

Anyway I don't usually agree to babysit on weekend nights - mostly because my highly extroverted self can barely handle the thought of missing something, which is a real possibility on a Saturday night. But this time it felt right. Firstly, I adoooore these two, so much, so it wasn't hard to twist my arm. I also think it just sounded really good to have a sure-fire way to do nothing on a weekend night. Being a grownup is tiring, and I was jonesing for a night in. With these two cuties?

Done and done.

We were reading stories before bed [we had a lot of time - we read a lot of books - I did a lot of voices] and he asked to read one about Jesus. (Since I know now you're wondering - no voices for Jesus. Bert and Ernie, absolutely. Jesus though, that might get weird.) We read about Easter and in very simple terms, we read about the crucifixion. On one particular page we read about how soldiers came for Jesus to take him away, and the sweet kid said this: "I don't want to be Jesus. I don't want soldiers to come for me!"

Can I get an amen?

Without thinking - and honestly mostly with nightmare prevention in mind - I explained to him that that's why Jesus let it happen: he loved us so much that he let the soldiers take him just so the soldiers wouldn't have to come for us. And he thought that was just great. I tucked him in, went downstairs, and it wasn't until I was scrubbing mac n' cheese from bowls with cartoons on them an hour later that the beauty of that entire exchange hit me square in the face.

I've tried to wrap this post up a hundred different ways - they all worked fine, sounded good and spiritual, rounded things out nicely. But I typed and deleted them, one by one. Because when it comes to truth, generally speaking, the wrapping is pretty inconsequential.

aaaand ten minutes later:

No, you know what? I want to wrap it. Truth needs no wrapper and I hope that you will take it for whatever you need it to be. But what it is for me is a reminder that I am loved. A reminder that I deserve soldiers. And every day, I think it's fair to say, I really earn them.

But they don't come. And grace, every day, covers my shame. Covers my fear. Covers me.
And that, my friends, is nightmare prevention at its very finest.

August 7, 2011

blog is a funny word

I will pretty much support anyone who uses the word "bloggy."

But really - this is a fun little website of fun little blogs. And for blogging about them, I get to have my blog listed among other bloggy things! Isn't that fun?

August 1, 2011

the table's tale

A few years ago, my mom gave me a really cute end table that sat in my storage room for about 2 years because it had been decoupaged with random restaurant menus. I think it's fair to say that I am a crafty person, and I enjoy a good project every now and again, so one day, I undecoupaged said table and painted it roughly 25 different ridiculous colors in a fit of crafting genius. Today I looked at said table, sitting in the corner of my room in all its hideous glory, and decided that I was going to make it presentable. I was going to make it look like something a grown-up might own. I was going to paint it red and distress it and make it look vintagey and awesome.

Such a good thought.

I took it to my friend's house who was going to help me. We sanded it, primed it, and got it all ready for its magical makeover. Once the primer had dried, I valiantly charged outside to get my craft on. And just as we flipped it over to begin, I kid you not, my cute little table promptly fell completely to pieces. No, but like, literally. See?

We hammered. We glued. We said swear words and [thankfully] resisted the urge to beat ourselves over the head with the legs of this stupid table that would not go back on no matter how hard we tried to make them. It was, to say the least, an epic fail. And I was so mad because this table has been in my room for a year, standing on all four legs and holding things on it even! So why, why oh why, am I so untalented and pitiful that I can't even make a basic wooden end table go back together again?!

I was telling my mom my sad tale, and here was her reply: "Oh, you know where that table came from right? [I didn't] Oh yeah, your Nana made that table herself from a kit. Probably 40 years ago? It's been on the back porch outside for years." 

ooooooof course it was.

The moral of the story is this: sometimes things fall spectacularly to pieces and it has absolutely nothing to do with me. A lot of times maybe it does, and that is another blog for another time. But sometimes tables that seem sturdy fall apart simply because they are super old and were handmade by my Nana and have been bearing the brunt of midwest weather for years and years, not because I am a pathetic crafts[wo]man. Sometimes things fall apart and there's not much to be done about it except decide what to do with all the pieces. Decide how to move forward. 

The remnants of my table will likely make roughly 10 new craft projects for me, and I love that so much. 
But it will never be a table again. And that just is what it is. 

July 27, 2011

ten recent revelations [I will never]

I'm going to share them with you now in the form of a list.

1. I will never not cry when I get in a car accident.

2. ... or when there are needles involved.

3. I will never not appreciate a good doo wop chorus.

4.  I will never get tired of reading Dr. Seuss out loud.

5. I will never feel settled when a relationship is not.

6. I will never not love making small talk with three-year-olds.

7. I will never think that the Bachelor/ette is stupid or smutty enough to make me actually stop watching it.

8. I will never not feel really pleased with myself when I successfully learn all the words to a song.

9. I will never see things clearly.

10. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly of all, I will definitely never think it's a good life choice to call in to Delilah's radio show at 11:00 at night to sing "a few lines of the song I want to hear." I don't care how good she says I am or how many times she calls me sweetie.

July 20, 2011

I'm an easy read

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I wear my heart on my face.

I don't really mind this about me because it's kind of nice. I don't feel like there's any point in faking it because 9 times out of 10 when I lie I get this response: "you're not a very good liar, are you?" There is a known-ness to it that I like. I am thankful that this readableness is woven into my genetic makeup because were it not there naturally, I might spend a greater amount of my life in hiding than I do. And that, we've established, isn't great.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, at work, I was feeling especially harried. I swear about half my caseload was in crisis and I didn't know where to begin to get everyone situated by the time the clock hit five. I walked into my office and started to vent to my office mates in a frantic manner. One of said officemates, God bless her, stopped me. "Sorry," she said, "I just want to say that I could already tell you were having a bad day. I think I can usually tell what kind of day you're having by the way your hair looks." Mind you, in this moment, my hair was curly [i.e. lion-like] and haphazardly thrown into a sort of side clump of hair by a clip so tiny that it couldn't hold all my hair in if it tried.

Now not only am I wearing my heart on my face, I am wearing it in my hair as well.

I know this is a silly thing, but in that moment, I felt a little bit naked. I felt exposed. This girl has known me for what, 5 weeks at this point? And she can already tell just by looking at me what mood I'm in? This does not bode well for me in the hide-the-crazy department, let's just put it that way.

And then I turned on my tiny red ipod, and Katie Herzig sang these words to me:

freedom is: a naked heart
 And I thought, ok. Fine.

July 15, 2011

oh me of little faith

When I was fifteen years old, something very special happened to me. It was Christmas morning, and after we opened our presents I was feeling a bit disappointed because one little thing wasn't included in the loot. But then my parents directed me and the boys to the basement, where we were greeted with a foosball table - which I'll be honest, was a pretty major letdown for me. Until the foosball table rang. Following the sound of that blissfully tinny little ringer, I pulled from said foosball table, in all it's glory, a sparkly blue Nokia cell phone. My very own little dream come true.

Last week, eleven years later, something very awful happened to me. I had to change my phone number.

This might not sound like much to you, fine, but to me it was sort of earthshattering because ever since I pulled that sparkly blue Nokia from the foosball table so many years ago, I have had the same phone number. It was my number, and now someone else is going to have it, and this devastates me. One of my oldest friends, when I texted him my new number, told me that he would now have to save my number to his phone for the first time ever. It is the end of an era. There's a lot attached to those 10 digits and on a Friday morning in July I gave all that away for some Colorado number that means nothing to me.

As I approached the AT&T store that Friday morning, having done all my research and thusly prepared to rip off the band-aid of abandoning the 316 and adopting a 303, I started to panic. I thought, what if my future husband tries to call me and can't get me because of my new number? What if someone else super important wants to reach me but can't? WHAT WILL HAPPEN?! I legitimately almost didn't go in the door. It was at this moment I realized that I have some pretty significant trust issues.

This might sound like a stretch, but the thing is, it's a symptom of a bigger issue. It's a microcosm of how I approach everything else in my life. In a matter of seconds I had become convinced that big, important, worthwhile things wouldn't come to be in my life... because I changed my phone number. If the italics didn't tip you off, I'll just spell it out for you: that's completely insane. I worked myself up into believing - on some level - that God is not bigger than my telephone number. Oh me of little faith.

I spend a lot of energy worrying about a lot of stuff. I worry about saying the wrong things, about figuring out what I should do to get the outcomes I want from a given situation. I worry about messing up the plan with my silliness. I worry about missing out on important things and people and never even knowing it. I worry every time I have to make a choice that I will make the wrong one and thus alter the course of history and my life as I know it. I worry about controlling for every possible outcome, and when things go awry I can think of 29 things I should've done to prevent it. 

Do I really believe that by changing my cell phone number [or any other host of things I could do under the reign of my little tiny power] I can actually alter the outcome of the life that is ahead of me? Sometimes I live like I do. 

But you know what? 

Phone numbers may come and go. I will say yes and say no a million times. I will say a lot of dumb things and make some really bad choices. On days when those things feel catastrophic, and those days will come, I will take a deep breath and trust that God is faithful. Even when I'm not. 

please forgive me for time that I've wasted;
I'm a doubting Thomas
I'll take your promise
though I know nothing's safe