January 28, 2012

thrifting is redemptive

I have always envied people who thrift well. You've met at least one of them, I bet. You say, "oh my gosh I love your totally unique and vintage looking shirt/bag/end table/necklace/artwork/sweater set! Wherever did you happen upon such an awesome item?"

Their answer is always annoying: "Oh this? Goodwill/ARC/Savers/The DAV."

It's a skill, I think, and one that I've thought for a long time that I don't have. But recently I hit my stride. I walked into Goodwill with big dreams and I walked out with a cartful of treasures. I can't remember the last time I was so pleased with myself. I think it had something to do with karaoke? Either way. This was a good feeling.

I can't believe it took me so long to figure this out. I think the whole idea behind it - behind purchasing something that someone once already purchased and loved and is done with - is lovely. Because you take something that's been around the block a time or two. Something that's been used and loved and let go and used and loved and let go and maybe held on to in memory or spirit, but even then, let go. Something that is beautiful in its wornness, lovely in it's usedness, potential-full in it's wear and tear. And that thing - it can be turned into something entirely different, if you want it to. A beat up old frame can house a new family portrait or can be loved again as trendy wall art. A plate can be repurposed as a cake tray. Anything can be anything else. It is, for all intents and purposes, the same reason I love working with and living among broken people; because redemption is a possibility, for me as much as for them.

Thrifting is redemptive.

And let's be honest. The world is full of stuff. And everything good that exists has more than likely already been bought at least once anyway. Why waste good money on buying it again when you can have the one that other lady already bought once for the low, low price of $2.49 and half off of THAT with a pink sticker on it? I'm just saying.

January 25, 2012

I am a little booknerd: The Hunger Games

I love reading. I'm an unapologetic nerd when it comes to books and I'm sorry I'm not sorry. I'm almost positive it's hereditary, in which case I'm doomed. I just finished reading The Hunger Games Trilogy - like, 6 minutes ago - and I must say, for adolescent literature, it did not disappoint. I just love getting caught up in a book [or in this case, three books] and feeling like the world needs to stop so I can keep reading. I love being so enthralled in a story that I can't make myself go to sleep even though my eyes are fighting with me. I even sort of love that all day today I could barely focus on anything other than the last third of the last book waiting for me on my nightstand. Both hours of The Bachelor were even hard to get through, you guys, which is saying something, because I love The Bachelor.

That's how I know a book was good. Well, there are a few ways, really.

1. When I am so caught up in it that I have a hard time functioning in the regular world. 
It doesn't happen terribly often and sometimes it's why I don't read as many books as I could, because when I get into a good one it's hard to stop me. It's like when you start watching Mad Men on Netflix and you say, "ok, one more episode," until you've said it so many times that it's nearly 6 AM and you're just really glad in that moment that you don't have a job. Not... that I've ever done that. But really. There are few things more delightful to me than getting wrapped up in a good book. The Hunger Games fed that for me three-fold.

2. When I am so sad it's over that it makes me turn the last few pages slower. 
In the same way I love being enthralled in a good story, I love to hate when it ends. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I hold off on reading the end as if to delay the inevitable. Sometimes I write a blog about it to deal with it's over-ness. When I finished the seventh Harry Potter I was devastated; thought I would never love again. But that's the tell of a really good novel - when even just through words, through rhetoric and dialogue, you are so attached to and involved in the development of the characters that for a weird little minute it feels like a loss when they're gone. [also - for the record - I am Team Peeta all the way]

3. The writing has got to be good. 
I want adjectives and big words and passion and emotion. I don't care if you have the most interesting story line or M. Night Shyamalan plot twist in the whole wide world. If the writing is lame, the book will be too.

4. No one wants to be a cover-judger, but let's get real, I'm a sucker for a good cover.
Or as my friend Beckie says, we like "sexy books." All three of those hardback badboys are sexy as all get out and will look stupendous out on my shelves for the world to see. [That, friends, is what we in the business like to call a bonafide perk.] Don't hate that.

This is specific to novels, obviously. In fact, if I'm reading another kind of book, say, Christian Inspiration or Self-Help for Women or some other category from the sections in Barnes and Noble you hope no one ever catches you browsing in, my criteria is almost exactly opposite. As in, I know it's good when after I cry through read the first chapter I never, ever want to pick it up again. But I for sure should read the whole thing, like, yesterday. But I digress.

This little trilogy provided a nice little break from reality for the few days it took me to read them. I don't ask for much in a novel, really. Take all my attention while we're involved and make me miss you when you're gone. Then just try to not write like you're texting a 14 year old or writing an online dating profile, slap on a sexy cover, and we'll be in business.

January 19, 2012

please, someone, manage my case

Don't get me wrong. I am super thrilled, ecstatic even, that I was born with the wherewithal to take care of myself. I'm glad that I have the mental capacities and social skills [most of the time] to take care of my life on my own, without much help. But there are times when, even if I've got all my faculties in working order, I think to myself, I NEED AN ADULT! And I do, you guys, I honestly do. And those are the times that I wish that I, a case manager, could have one of me. My own personal case manager/assistant/stand-in adult. I wouldn't hate it, that's all I'm saying.

Here are some of the things I would require of my me if I had one.

+ Remind me to get my prescriptions each month. Do I remember to reorder my client's meds every month? Almost always, I do. But once a month I run out of Zyrtec and forget to get more until I am so itchy [I really should probably live in a bubble] that I literally can't take it anymore and finally go the 500 yards from my bedroom to my Walgreens.

+ Remind me to return movies I rent from Redbox within 24 hours. Or, at the very least, within the calendar year - both of which I appear to be constitutionally incapable of.

+ When I need a drivers license, or license plates, or any other item that will require me to go to an awful place like the DMV to get it, please pick me up and take me there. Oh, and remind me to save the money to get the thing I need. Oh, and if I get flustered, feel free to step in and tell the cranky person on the power trip behind the desk to lay off.

+ Make me get a car wash. I am afraid of the car wash. I have severe and irrational anxiety about going to one. I could use a case manager for emotional support and maybe some exposure therapy so I can take care of things like this.

+ Be my payee? I'll give you my check every two weeks and then you can make sure my phone bill, rent, storage unit bill, Visa, etc, all get paid on time. Then you can give me whatever's left for my personal needs and I won't spend any more than that ever because you won't let me.

+ Remind me to send birthday acknowledgments in a timely fashion.

+ Remind me that I like talking to my out-of-town friends and it would behoove me to call them.

+ Remind me that I don't want to do something every night of the week, so scheduling my life in such a fashion is going to cause me extra/unnecessary anxiety/tiredness.

-- Actually, can you just schedule things for me? That would be nice, since I can't seem to remember to not schedule counseling on the one Wednesday a month when I have book club. You'd think I learned my lesson when I double booked it the first time with both small group AND watching The Bachelor.

+ Help me be on time to things. Wake me up in the morning. Enforce a bedtime. Time, in general? Not my forte.

+ Tell me when I'm making bad choices. Or when I've made one, point it out. Or when I'm about to make one I've already made before, remind me about the time I made it before and how badly it went for me that time. I seem to lack the ability to do that for myself.

+ Oh, and maybe let me know that when I've eaten broccoli and popcorn for dinner not once but twice, it's time to go to the grocery store. Actually, wanna drive me there?

When it's someone else's life [like my clients] I can do stuff. Not all of that stuff, because that's more the work of a personal assistant/slave than a case manager in most cases. But still. Probably instead of whining that I need a servant I should just do what normal people do; make a list of New Year's resolutions and get on it.

I guess it's just nice to daydream about what it would be like to have someone be a grown up for me every now and then. But alas, I am capable. And I live on a social worker's salary, so I'll have to keep doing things on my own for now. At least until I am rich and/or famous and can hire someone to be responsible for me while I breeze through life renting Redbox movies willy nilly and getting car washes all the time without a care in the world.

That's a reasonable expectation. Right?

January 12, 2012

on perks

One time, in what will go down in history as one of the best conversations I've ever had with my friend Adam, he asked a few of us a simple question: Would you ever date someone for the perks?

So we're thinking, ok, like, if he's an airline pilot, you could go on trips all the time! Or if he's got a sweet house in the mountains you could go skiing every weekend and not have to sit in traffic all the live-long day. Those kinds of perks. But before we could weigh in, Adam went on, and ohhh, am I glad he did:

You know, like a pizza delivery guy. For the free pizza.


Sometimes I wish, when you met people, you got to see a little list of the perks they come with. Because everyone has perks that you can't necessarily see at the outset. And what if you don't get to talk to them long enough to find out that their perks are exactly your dream perks! You know what I'm saying. Maybe you're a better person than me and you never think things like this. But I mean, I think it would make dating a whole lot easier, for one thing. And would be, in general, just kind of a fun thing to know about people. No?

It might look like this:

Super fun family! Won free movie tickets for life in a stroke of luck in a drawing at Hallmark once, so you can go to as many movies as you want until the end of time! The Love Language he speaks best is the one you need to receive the most!


Family owns a cruise line! Bakes the best [thing you like best in the world] you'll ever taste in all your life! So good at giving second chances it'll make your head spin! Has a Netflix subscription!

or even,

Seat heaters in the car! Won't even be annoyed when you try on nineteen-ish outfits every time you leave the house! Personal friends with the drummer from [your favorite band]! Will watch The Bachelor with you even though he hates it!

I suppose this might take some/all of the fun out of getting to know people. It's possible. Probably the reason life isn't that way is because it would take away the challenge. Now when we meet someone we've got to stick around long enough to find out what all their lovely bits are. Yes, actually, I think I just talked myself right on out of the perks debate - because perks, by their very definition, are benefits which one is entitled to as a shareholder. Boom. You don't get them right off the bat because there's a requirement on your part. You've got to invest first.

So there it is, then. Perks are there, it's to be sure, everyone's got some. But they are like presents you unwrap over time or a bonus in your paycheck you don't expect. You don't get to have them for nothing, you have to earn them, sort of. You have to stick around long enough - through the days that maybe aren't so fun and maybe some of the less lovely parts - in order to get the benefits. People aren't meant to be easy. They're not meant to be advertised. They're meant to be cherished and earned and unwrapped and delighted in, both for their perks and their not-so-perky parts, too.

So, yeah, it'll be a sweet deal if you've got DVR. And you'll probably thoroughly enjoy my family's affinity for party buses. But mostly I want to know that you'll love me even though I'm late to everything I do and my socks never match. And I bet you want to know I'll stick around even when you get cranky and don't fight fair.

After all, those are the perks we're really after, amiright?

So let's hear it. What kinds of perks are you into? Better yet, what are your perks?

January 6, 2012

everyone isn't everything

Over the years, I have been fortunate to know some really fabulous people. I have had truly great friends, each one different than the last. Zionsville friends. Collegiate friends. Cul-de-sac friends. 8th grade confirmation class friends. Lake friends. Sigma friends. Beze friends. Intro to Biblical Interpretation friends. Recovery friends. Church friends. Work friends. I've had all kinds of friends and I bet you have too. It's fun to look back on each of them, and what they brought to my life. It's a lovely gift.

Knowing all those people, maybe, like me, you've caught yourself trying to figure out why people are the way they are. Because people are not always peaches. Maybe my most consistent friend is not so very generous and my most generous friend is ever so slightly flaky. Perhaps the nicest person I know is not even a little bit funny. And my most fun friend might be the worst at consoling me when I'm sad. My most honest and genuine friend might also be the one whose words hurt the most often. No one is perfect. No one, I don't care if they are the best of all besties you have ever had in your life, is doing it all right.

The other day I caught myself internally criticizing someone I love dearly for doing a subpar job at something that I am already fully aware is just not their strength. I was right in the middle of being awful and something struck me: everyone isn't everything. 

I can't expect them to be. I'm not, that's for certain, and even though I'm sure the people I am in relationships with sometimes get frustrated with me for who knows what all I do that's frustrating, they're still in relationships with me. They still show up to my birthday parties and take my phone calls and pick me up from the airport. Because on some level they have accepted that I am not everything. That everyone isn't.

And it's fine, it's all fine. I don't need everyone to be everything. And if I live a life in expectation that everyone will be everything - well, I think that will turn out to be a very lonely life for me. I think the best we can hope for is that we meet enough people who are things that we aren't that we can learn from them how to be that thing that they are, if even just a little. I think if we can do that, we don't have to be everything. We'll be us - limited, less-than-everything us - with just the faintest resemblance of everyone we've ever met. And that will be enough.

So instead of focusing on what people aren't, I vote we shift our eyes to what they are. I add caution in that we should not use this as an excuse to become complacent with the things we already are because I think we should learn to be a little more than we are. And on the other end of that spectrum, I vote we not allow ourselves to be treated recklessly; I hope we can recognize those who aren't interested in learning more and let go when the time comes. Because even though you aren't everything, you are you, and that is something worth protecting.

And most of all, let's be gracious to the ones who aren't everything, but who love us with everything they are just the same. Because those, I think, are the keepers.