Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of School

I'm in the computer lab at school on my first day. I've been here for hours because all of my instructors seem to have placed all the content for their classes on school web pages where I must visit and print out tons of their documents. For a book lover, this is a great tragedy.

The real story is the young Asian man two seats away from me. It's evening time here on campus and the only people left here are international students; not working but sort of sitting around with their friends, dressed up so much that they look like they're about to go out for a night of clubbing. Very international.

So the young man to my right is calling one place after another on his cell phone and asking them if the room they advertised is still available. The last person he called asked him if he was a Christian. I know this because I could overhear him explain that he does worship on Sundays, and really, he tried to explain that he was a decent and faithful sort of sincere young man, but in the end he said, "No, no---I am not a Christian." He apologized and thanked the person on the other end and then put his phone down with a sigh.

He was in my math class last semester. Very smart, very lonely-looking.

Today, school was hard. I wasn't prepared for my first class, which is a Global Civilization Honors class for which we have five books. All freshman, also. Then I had a great Economics class taught by a woman with a light-heartedness and a natural curiosity about political and social events. My last class is Social Ethics, a study of the issues involved in the public pursuit of justice in a religiously and philosophically pluralistic society. The instructor threw Jolly Ranchers at us for raising our hands and I got one, but I left the room desperate to find a bathroom in a building that appears not to have any. By the time I walked across the building twice and down two flights of stairs, I finally found a laminated red sign with the word "WOMEN" on it, taped to an old wooden door that offered entrance into a small, stale room that would have been more appropriate in an elementary school.

Not an encouraging first day. My last instructor misquoted a passage out of the New Testament as an argument for socialism and there was a sort of dripping satisfaction in the stories he told of the historical Christian errors.

But even with all this, I have a place to live and I'm not stuck sitting here at dinnertime in a germ-infested computer lab on campus looking for a place to live and being turned away. I am leaving this lab to go home and cook a delicious dinner before sitting in my beautiful furniture whose sole function is to make my life a more comfortable place.

Can you hate and love a situation at the same time?
Pity yourself all the while congratulating your good fortune?

I feel like I'm there right now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I've Got it All Under Control

Sometimes, being healthy gives life a feeling of control and order.

But order and control do not make one healthy. Ironically, they seem to drive us batty and make us little monsters.

It's important to distinguish these things.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Morning Grind



This morning went a little something like this:

I woke up when The Cure's Friday, I'm in Love started playing on Booker, and although I would normally shut off my alarm within the first two seconds -- this sound I liked so much that I just held the phone against my chest while staring up at the ceiling until it started its third or forth loop. It was 6:30 a.m.

I read the NYTimes headline stories; I read the early morning Twitter updates from my friends. I read a strange passage out of the bible...on my phone.

Finally I got up and got dressed, methodically choosing items out of Shelby's closet because I'm tired of my clothes. I chose a ruffle shirt that I love and a bright salmon colored sweater to go over it. I picked out a lovely pair of matching earrings, too, right from her wall of jewelry.

I sprayed on perfume, brushed my hair once and pinned it into a bun, washed my face and put on my moisturizer and grabbed my belongings to head out of the house toward sunny Mortgage Company, Tennessee.

The best thing: I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts on Caruthers and picked up half caf coffee with cream and sugar. It's a small thing--but it was so wonderful. I practically danced all the way to my car.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"To be spiritually minded is life and peace."



Romans 8:6


Do you ever read something and just think, "Yeah, of course. But what does that mean?"

Personal Habit Rant, August 24 09

Since I'm in a mood to be cranky about my personal habits, I might as well add that I stay up until my head aches and then wake up with a sort of "life hangover." Today I sat in the bathroom with my head in my hands because I was too tired to go back to my desk.

What kind of person does that?

I said no to pizza today.
And then said no to cookies tonight.

This is how one gets the train back on the tracks, I imagine. A bunch of miserable days of headaches and hitting up the office vending machine followed by the pure taste of strict will power. Then the place in between those two extremes, which at this point seems like a place right out of Dante's Inferno.

I have six days until school starts. No more winge-ing. No more self-congratulation followed by self-destruction-by-sugar. No more numb arms and legs. No more 2am headaches.

This train is going and I'm on it.

PS: I got an email from Cameron today on my phone {because Booker is connected to the interwebs!} and for some reason the novelty of reading it on my phone made me think for a second that he was back in the USA. I was confused and elated and confused and elated and then sort of mystified. Turns out, he's still off the coast of Africa. I miss the dude.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sugarholics Anonymous?

Despite many months of keeping my sugar consumption habit under control...I am sorry to admit that I've fallen off the wagon.

I need a support group.
I need accountability.

I ate Poptarts today. Poptarts?? Out of desperation. Out of a vending machine for Pete's sake.

Did you know that a package of Poptarts has 400 calories? Also, that the first three ingredients are enriched flour, corn syrup and the other really bad corn syrup. I didn't know that until after I had eaten them.

But frankly, I was so desperate, I would've eaten them regardless.

Last night: At least 6 chocolate chip cookies?
Saturday: Brownies
Friday: Dunkin Donut

I don't even want to say anymore. It's pathetic. I'm starting to lose my ability to say no.

:\

Additional comment: A short time after writing this, the regionsal manager at my company called us all together to sing happy birthday to our VP and eat strawberry cake. I love cake. But no, no. There's a proverb in the Bible that says, "Put a knife to your own throat if you're a man given to appetite." I might start carrying a knife around with me.

It is not the mountain we conquer
but ourselves.
-Edmund Hillary

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This Bliss, This Bliss- How Unremarkable, Though

Things I approve of, in no particular order:

-Blackberries {fruit & smartphones}
-Nonstick pans
-Mechanical pencils
-1.5 Liter water bottles
-Animal crackers from Trader Joes
-Dunkin' Donuts coffee
-Nude colored high heels
-Dog owners
-TIME Magazine cover stories
-Imogen Heap's new album
-Chocolate soy milk

These things are the spinning spokes in my 22s.
They're the wind blowing through my dandelions!
They're sunset kisses, even!

Or maybe that's going too far.

Comfort objects, that's what they are. Objects of joy. Unremarkable things, but so blissful.

Speaking of joyful objects, I have not set my Blackberry down since it first arrived into my loving arms. Yes, I see exactly why they call them Crackberries; a-d-d-i-c-t-i-v-e. And as you can see in the poll...the naming of my phone has been decided by you all, who know what's best for me and my new darling phone. His name is officially Booker. Booker has a clear plastic protective shell, which is important, considering I already dropped him onto a wood floor at Annie's last night after a really full dinner followed by brownies.

Play this video for Imogen's new single, First Train Home:

Friday, August 21, 2009

I See A Lawsuit



On a completely different note, there are a bajillion pregnant women working here at the mortgage company. A bajillion. Some of them, like Sarah, are the most lovely and darling women I've ever met. Some are just pod-people, as far as I know.

Like every other unpregnant woman, I just adore hearing about another woman's eating, sleeping, barfing and birthing issues...like any other woman, I love to listen to any topics that allow me to live out motherhood vicariously through the wombs of others. Of course I do, who wouldn't.

But I draw the line at bringing babies into the workplace after the blessed event we've all heard about for nine months has finally occurred.

I'm saying this because only a few feet away, there's a crowd of women surrounding a pastel clothed little infant, passing it from woman to woman like some pagan baby ritual, each woman touching its peachy cheeks and soft little hands and feet while it shrieks in irritation. Poor little soldier, imprisoned in a tiny Michelin suit... unable to free itself from the overwhelming pride and joy of its mother.

I have been instructed to mention that Rebecca Lee did not participate in this event. Noted.

But my real reason for telling you all this is that I think that the next wave in office politics and political correctness is going to be pediaxual harassment. As in, the sight of your babies in my zone is going to possibly injure your position at the firm. As in...if an unpregnant woman overhears you talking about cribs or room colors or feeding patterns...you could forseeably a call from HR.

It's incredible to imagine, I know.

I Expected Tough Times...



The question of my afternoon is:

MUSE, the best rock band...or the best band ever?

If you're not familiar with Black Holes and Revelations, then you don't know what over-layered, hyper-sound can be at its best. They're supposed to be on the new edition of SPIN this month, I think, which I'll probably pick up.

I like them so much that I now even follow them on Twitter. Even though they don't say witty things or even interesting things. That's what loyalty is all about in our tech age...friending and following the people you love even when there's nothing in it for you.

Anyway. I'm rocking out to MUSE and printing documents. How's your Friday?

Keller Point of View

"I long to accompllish a great and noble task;
but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks
as if they were great and noble."

-Helen Keller

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pears & Paper Clips

AD: Becca?

{silence}

BL: Yes.

AD: Do you-- when you eat pears, do you burp?

{silence}

BL: No.

AD: Huh.

________________________________________________________

I asked Josh if he had a Facebook. I told him that I had scanned through Cindy & Shari & Sarah's friends and couldn't find him. He said that he had a Myspace but never checks it. "Nobody checks Myspace," I told him.

He said he would sign up, just for me.

I'm going to miss the mortgage company. Really, really miss these people.

What I won't miss is this: the styrofoam cups we use for coffee are the same styrofoam cups we use to hold our paperclips on our desks. I almost pick up and drink from the paper clip cup every five minutes or so--very weird. It's a totally avoidable problem and yet I've never done anything to solve it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Toilet Seat Pregnancies & Other Myths Dispelled



Girls, you'll probably know exactly what I'm talking about--and guys, I'm not sure whether or not you've ever been privy to this knowledge... But in junior high, there was this rumor that you shouldn't sit on public toilets after you started puberty because you might...

get pregnant

From sitting on the toilet.
I mean, once you flesh this out, if you're at all an analytical teenage girl {*hand raised high*}, you're thinking to yourself, Okay, what's the likelihood that a man got into this restroom and sat here and that somehow.... But at the same time, the nagging fear is there at that age, mostly because at that age you really don't understand how bad things happen.

And let's face it, getting pregnant from a toilet seat is a pretty bad thing to wake up to.

I bring this up because today, what started out as a completely awkward texting conversation with one of my friends, turned into what I can only relate as something both wonderful and liberating. We were stumbling through two opposite opinions on something but the dialogue was real weird. It felt like the back and forth was strained by the weight of the mysterious unspoken misunderstandings between us.

Really, it felt like a conversation between a mime and a blind man.

We did end up pushing through and I finally got the opportunity to communicate clearly my perspective. What a relief! I feel now like we're better friends than ever, simply because I feel more understood.

But it got me thinking--how rare it is for people to be courageous and straightforward in their communication skills! I've said it so many times about men, in particular, that I always feel like I have to hold their hands and guide them through grown-up conversations.

Granted, there are very few men or women in the world, I imagine, who out themselves as often as I do when it comes to matters of the heart. I've always chalked my bluntness up to a lack of "shame." Because when you're ashamed or embarrassed of how you feel, you don't want anyone to know about it. But when if you own your own feelings, you can speak freely about them and put them on the table of public discourse without self-consciousness.

The thing is...if things get awkward between you and a friend--no matter how weird it might seem to talk things through, it's sooooo much wierder not to.

It turns out, girls don't get pregnant by sitting on toilet seats. That's just a myth.

But also, relationships don't fall apart because you talk things through. They fall apart because you don't.

Bursty

I don't know how to tell you this.

But...

I think that a spider bit my knee.
It's all puffy and swollen and there's a giant red burst-y thing on it that I want to get rid of real bad.

It's gross and nasty, so of course I needed to share it with you as soon as possible.

If I had my Blackberry already, I could take a picture of it.

Too bad, right.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'm Going to Be A Mamaberry



It's true!
I am now the proud parent of an even clunkier phone!

O, darling Blackberry...
{ I'll need a name for the little poopsie that sounds less like one of Strawberry Shortcake's friends and more like "Happy the Metro"}

I've been waiting to be free from Crappy the Samsung since a few days after I received it in the mail, when I realized that "smooth and sleek keypad" was just a cover for Samsung saving money by getting rid of individualized button-ry.

Yes
I know that iPhones are the gadget to have.
And yes
I know that Blackberries are more for the funny-shoed businessman type.

Ne'ertheless, I am very excited to meet and hold Curve, the Titanium wonder phone.
So say whatever you will--
This new phone will bring me closer to God.
Just you wait.

Toothpastefordinner For Lunch

I may be easy to please, but I seriously just got the biggest thrill by scrolling down the August section of Toothpastefordinner.com .

Go ahead, do it.



The Pedant's funeral?
Pirahna-head syndrome?

Classic.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just A Note About Memory...What Was I Saying?

Can anyone solve my memory loss problem?

I hate it.

I decided to write a blog about it and it's amazing that I even remembered what I was writing about by the time the page loaded.

It's that bad.

I can't remember names of things.
Dates of things.
Things I thought about telling people.
Questions I need to ask people.


I once told my boss that I was a terrible administrator because I had no date/time comprehension. I could be typing for five minutes or fifteen minutes or twenty minutes and it would all feel the same to me. The morning could pass and all of its events without any notice in my brain. If there was a 9AM meeting, I would just as likely think it was 9AM at 9AM as I would at 11:34AM. Time-sensitivity, I have you not.


But she pointed out that the thing that made me a great administrator was that I had realized my weaknesses and capitalized on my strengths to compensate. I had created an intricate system of post-it-noting that would remind me of important dates and times, and often times remind me to remind myself to look to see if there was anything important that I should be doing, thinking, moving around.


I can always remember, ironically, the lyrics to the old song that fits my predicament so hand-in-glovely:

Do you suffer from short-term memory loss?

I don't remember

Working / Laughing

I have a one-train mind.

The track is never the same, but whatever track I end up on...the train gets stuck real good. Today my mind felt like a wild mustang ranch with a broken fence. Horses everywhere. Chaos and excitement and swirling dust.

I think, at one point in the day, my heart was actually racing with a swiftness that quite caught me off guard and caused a small sort of fever.

All the while I sat nearly motionless at my desk inside a light grey cubicle under fluorescent lights, printing mortgage documents for people with awkward names that sound like feminine hygiene products or human innards. I spend half of my printing time listening to regional news of France in French and the other half of my time laughing quietly to myself about the names of the people on our loans.

Really? You named your daughter after a redwood tree?
Really? You named your son the equivalent of Todd Todderts?

People, I ask this genuinely--when it comes to naming your children, what are you thinking?

That's why Jack is such a good, strong name, for a boy.
And of course, for a girl--Asbestos.

The Taking Tree

I stood below and shook the tree
I let your leaves rain down on me
I never crawled your gnarled-up branch
To lay upon you on my back
Never passed a night of stars
Cradled in your twisted arms

I stood below and shook you, tree
And felt your leaves rain down on me

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Le To Do List: L'August '09



TO DO LIST

Write Thank Yous
Call my sister
Call my other sister
Call my mom
Call my brother
Wish I could call Dad
Study math
Study more math
Study even more math
Get a cat
{Make jokes about the cat you'll never ever get}
Purchase an insurance plan for the school year

Draw a map of our healthcare system on the back of a napkin and then burn it in effigy

Find all of Shelby's earrings at the bottom of purse and return them

Study even moooooore math
Daydream for 2.3 minutes about Mr. Brilliant
Buy groceries
Make more pudding

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ride With Me

Last Saturday I flew over Nashville in a small plane.
I watched the sun disappear to the West from 4500 feet.

Tonight...I will ride in a jeep with no top or sides, hair flying, taking in the fresh night air, next to a brilliant, older and exciting man.

Relax, this kind of stuff happens every day.
Or not.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Survived: Just Another Week in Middle America

I've had a long and eventful couple of weeks with a lot of exciting adventures, a lot of new experiences and a lot of deep thinking about my future:

I stopped eating pizza at least once a day.
I started drinking a gallon of water every day.
I flew a small plane for a short while.
I made pudding using soy milk.
I found a lunch workout buddy.
I rented a math textbook.
I saved and saved and saved $$$.
I pushed myself into the oncoming traffic of dating.

I survived

Maybe survival is the best I can hope for considering the variety in that spectrum. Maybe it's too much to hope for that I would be thriving in the midst of such changes. The sad fact is that not all changes are good changes---or at least not all changes make your life a fun-ner place to live. Some things hurt, burn, sting. Some risks you win...but some you lose. And when you take a lot of risks in a row you begin to desensitize yourself to how much you're hurting, burning, stinging.

Today I sat at my desk and cried. I cried because I'm changing. I cried because I didn't get something I wanted very much. I cried because I have no Dad. In the end, my tears were not the flag of despair's victory as much as an error message from an overworked program. I simply cried before I had a moment to stop and consider whether I wanted to cry or not. If there was a victory, it was of fatigue and ennui.

Once the sad forest mist cleared away from my mood, I opened up my little travel bible and read a few Psalms, including Psalm 42. This particular passage stood out to me; sort of gave me a lift.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God
for I shall yet praise Him
for the help of His countenance.

So there it is, Hope in God.




I shall yet praise Him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Leaf, New Trees

The storm is beginning to rage outside. It sounds so far away from this protected world in my room. The rain is hitting the window with a fury, beat by the wind here and there against our house. But it's not much different than the sound of the water on the glass when you take your car through the car wash.

I've had a long weekend of new experiences and full adventures. I'm stepping out on a limb now, trying new things with new people. I'm seeing myself apart from my community for the first time in a long time--as just a single individual making her way in the world. It's interesting to describe myself, as if for the first time, to a stranger. It's interesting to hear myself describe my family, my decision making, my school life.

Some of it sounds boring.
Some of it sounds quixotic.
I'm not embarrassed by any of it, though. It's all me--I feel like I can truly own my decisions-like they were authentically formed and purposefully carried out.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

These Legs; Look at the River!

Some weeks ago, my favorite coworker, Becca, pointed to my knee and asked me what was wrong with my vein. She said, Veins are supposed to be straight. That's not straight!

Imagine, if you will, a gnarling, green-blue river that snakes and winds its way up and around the knee to the inside thigh. Had I noticed it before that second? I guess I did--but it didn't really look like that, at least I don't remember it looking like that. It wasn't twisted, for starters, just closer to the surface and really dark. Now that Becca pointed it out, there aren't any moments when I don't know it's there; I'm constantly aware of the tightness and the slow, dull ache of bad circulation in my lower leg.

In case you don't know very much about varicose veins, here's a little lay-medical snippet:

Healthy veins pump blood back to the heart with a series of one-way valves that prevent the backward flow of blood and the build up of pressure. When we are standing there is a lot of pressure pushing blood back down towards our feet. If these one-way valves are not working, blood can pool in the leg veins causing the veins to enlarge. Varicose veins are dilated veins just under the skin.

Ever feel like you just can't catch a break?
Ugh.
Double ugh.
This really messes up that picture of myself at 45 that I have in my head--the one of me in an elite yoga outfit stretching in a mountain range under an expansive blue sky at 6:00 am. A grateful, wise head above me and a strong, capable body beneath me.

I'm doing whatever I can do--elevating my legs when I'm sleeping or sitting for long periods of time and doing funny feet exercises to flex lower leg muscles and increase blood flow. And of course, there's my daily exercise to increase circulation and raise my blood pressure for a small moment each day.

But it's official: I'm going to be that woman--the one who has to have special assistance at parties; chairs & cushion props always nearby.

Pffft. I've also started doing weird things that feel like they might make a difference, like massaging the vein upward toward my heart, not really knowing if it's helping or hurting. I'm even cutting down my salt intake.

Less salt?
{Insert groan}
I love my salty sunflower seeds from Trader Joes.
I love my salty Snyders of Hanover pretzels.
I love salty eggs.
Buuuuut, I really do like having usable legs, too.

At the end of the day, there's only so much we can do to stave off bodily decline. I'm trying to incorporate every possible healthy lifestyle habit that I can into each 24 hours that I've been given, in an attempt to hold at bay the eventual decay of this delicate vessel I call home. But after all the hard, responsible things have been done, and these unsightly, unfriendly reminders of the fallen world are still snaking in dark rivers across my leg--it's time to make my way through the crowd and and call out for some intervention from Christ, the Healer. It's time for me to reach out and touch the hem of His garment, as it were.

There is hope of deliverance {an awfully big word for such a small need}-there is hope for me that He can and will restore health and bring life and newness to these damaged pathways.

And that brings me to the bigger picture. One thing I did learn last month is that a person can't ignore body issues.

Remember when you were a child and you covered your eyes to hide yourself from a person, thinking that once you couldn't see them, they couldn't see you, either? Well, death and sickness can see you, even if you put your hands over your eyes. It's foolish to deny the need for help and healing; to hope that it will all work itself out, even when you feel death chasing you and changing you. You have to face these things.

Dad's final surgeon told us that the biggest cause of the heart problem that Dad had was denial. There were things he could have changed or done; help he could have gotten. But he didn't even acknowledge the pain. Somehow you have to acknowledge the sickness before you receive the cure. And no, denial isn't a cure.

I've got to face this pain/ this damage/ this decay/ this brokenness. I've got to pray about it, seek wise advice about it, change my ways.

As my friend Dixon often says:
Pray, God is near.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Discipline, You Undesirable Monster

“Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people.” --Nido Qubein

For whatever reason, early on in life, I learned to define success as living about two millimeters "just outside" of the danger zone. If things get tight or sticky, I'll move heaven and earth to get to a place of safety and security; I think we all know this game.

But harnessing that momentum into actual goal achievement? That's for the birds, right? Ho, ho, ho--my get up and go is strictly reserved for self-defense and survival, or so it seems.

At the end of the day, someone might tell me, "Hey, look around, most people in our generation are having the same problems." But do I really want to grade my own life on a curve?

Do I want to measure my achievements by what everyone else did or by what I personally set out to do?

This last week has been a triumph in money saving, physical fitness and nutrition. I've been on a discipline roll, thanks be to God.

So it makes sense that instead of keeping that good roll going long enough to enjoy the benefits, I would want to just skip working out and go spend money on pizza at Whole Foods. I'm literally having a 2 sides of the aisle war going on in my head as I type this; one part of me urging for continued discipline on the road to eventual achievement--the other part of me saying, "Stop the horse at this depot, you've gone far enough."

What is my strategy?
Where is my resolution?

Somewhere at the bottom of my laundry pile. As inaccessible and undesirable as Mars right now, for the love of Pete.