Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Know Where I Started

I Know Where I Started

Unsure of how I reached
this destination
from the initial step.
Deafening radio silence
persisting despite wishes.
Seeing red through rose-colored glasses.
Grasping tightly a hand
that may be my own.
Wide awake,
but nightmare or dream
is indistinguishable.
Distracted by a million things
I can't remember to forget.
Maybe I'm my own best enemy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hate (Warning - Excessively Long and Possibly Confusing Post)

I completely overuse the word 'hate'. I overuse many words, like 'Awesome' (which I use both genuinely, like when I am extremely impressed by something and can't think of another way to describe it... and sarcastically, like when my kid dumps his orange juice into his eggs) and 'Seriously?' (which, for the record, I overused before Grey's Anatomy ever existed). Overusing a word obviously lessens the impact it has when you say it, so I should really be more careful. Especially with the word 'hate'. "I hate that color, I hate that song, I hate when that happens, etc." When a one of my very dearest friends and I worked in the same department and something happened that irritated us we would IM each other 'Hate'. Or, if it was excessively irritating 'HATE! HATE, HATE, HATE!!' You get the idea.

Since I realize how much I have diluted the word, I will now discuss something I truly do hate, and then something I'm trying to learn. I absolutely hate when I have something I want to talk about with another person and I cannot find the words to accurately convey my thoughts. I was an English major for two years in college and graduated with an English minor. I should have a good grip on communicating with words, for crying out loud.

It's worst when I am trying to talk to someone in person. I am so totally awkward and weird. I'm actually not sure how I've ever managed to make any friends. I have to force myself to look someone in the face, which I can usually do for 2 seconds, and then I look away like I'm really thinking about something. On the phone is almost as bad. I pace and talk with my hands and end up saying about one-tenth of what I intended to say. All of this may come off to others as witty banter, but it's really complete frustration on my part that I wanted to tell them something important and ended up joking about something they said to me three weeks ago. Today, I tried to talk to someone on the phone about something that I was up half the night thinking about, and I am sure it came off as complete nonsense. I was more confused than ever after I hung up, so I'm sure it was a freak-show to him. Ugh.

I'm typically most effective at communication when I'm writing, but even that has failed me of late. I like being able to type out what I want to tell someone and then read and re-read it to edit for maximum impact. The past few days, I feel like I'm trying to type in a foreign language, searching for words that might possibly describe how I feel (or may just be telling that person they should call and order me a straight-jacket). Then I just feel even more frustrated.

So... where does this leave me? I think I've realized the root of this began when I read a note a friend posted on Facebook from a sermon I'd missed one Sunday when I was subbing in the nursery. In part, someone had gotten up at the end of the service and read this:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." (Speech by Nelson Mandela, written by Marianne Williamson)
And then this:
"Our comfort zones are for ourselves, but the dream, the calling God has on our lives, is for others. That is why we have to walk it out, go for it, because we never know whose life we are going to change with the dreams God has put in us. "

So I got the CD of the service and listened to that part. And listened to it again. And again. And it reminded me of this book I'd just finished reading 'Jesus Wants to Save Christians' by Rob Bell and Don Golden. This is the part of the book that stuck out to me:
"Jesus wants to save our church from fear... Instead of standing at a distance and saying "Someone else," it's stepping up and stepping in to the invitation to the risk, to the suffering, to the joy. And when we listen and go, it will never be about guilt. It will never come on the heels of "Well, I guess I'm supposed to." The suffering, the cost, comes from hearing something that rings in your head and heart with such force that you can't stop hearing it. It comes from being captivated by one great cause - one so massive and compelling that you'd sell everything you have to be a part of it...." (It's a great book and I very highly recommend it)

And then I was thinking about something I'd heard in another sermon. I don't own the book, "A Scandalous Freedom" by Steve Brown, so I could completely be butchering this quote. I wrote it down in my notes like this, "The mind knows only what it has learned, but the heart knows what it has experienced."

Last night, I could not sleep thinking about the sum of all these things. That I shouldn't be afraid of being who I am or expressing myself the way I want to because by hiding who I am in fear, I could be enabling those around me to hide in fear. That I need to be unafraid of whatever gift I might have, because if it empowers even one other person, I've used my gift as intended. That when I have something ringing so loudly in my head and my heart that I can't stop hearing it, I shouldn't try to stifle and ignore it until it goes away. And that just because something is an experience and not a lesson, that doesn't mean it isn't just as valid as an intellectual pursuit. All of these insomniac musings ended in me having a crazy phone conversation today, in which I only said a tenth of what I should have.

But at least it's a start.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Because I Feel Like Sharing

It has been incredibly muggy lately, but we have not been using our air conditioner. The forecast has called for less-humid weather to move into the area, so we figured we would just use some fans and open windows for now and save the A/C for when oppressive summer air moves in. I love it. I love being able to come home from work and put on shorts and a tank-top and not be cold at all. Especially since half the time they have the A/C blasting at the office and I spend the day shivering at my desk, wearing an old cardigan and drinking hot tea like an old lady in attempt to stave off goose-bumps. It's absurd. One should not have to wear winter attire to work when it is 85 degrees outside.

The only thing I dislike about open windows is that what was, the evening before, a soothing lullaby of crickets and frogs singing in the night, becomes a deafening symphony of screeching birds the next morning. And it happens earlier and earlier every morning. Talk about a rude awakening. I've finally found a sound I hate even more than my alarm. This morning, the screaming woke me up a full twenty-five minutes prior to my alarm sounding. There is no going back to sleep after that. Great way to start the day.

After being frightened from sleep by the squawking, I got up and spent too much time checking my email and facebook. I also read a little too long while I was working out. So, even though I got up early, I was running behind in no time. I rushed around, showered, dressed, and spent too much time doing my hair because it was rainy and my hair was all frizzy. I finally decided it was a lost cause, grabbed some coffee, and rushed out the door.

Ryan has been working on projects in the garage so the car was parked outside and it was raining. I had to search around for an umbrella, which took up even more time. Now I was running terribly late (or on-time for my typical schedule, depending on how you look at it). And, since it was raining, no one could drive. People driving in the passing lane, but not passing anyone. People driving freaking fifty miles an hour in the exit only lane. People who had previously been not passing in the passing lane, now tailgating me like it was my fault no one seemed to remember where to find their accelerator. Hate.

When I finally arrived at work, it was still raining. I considered trying to run in without an umbrella, but then I remembered the extra time and product I'd wasted on my hair and reconsidered. I got out with my umbrella and coffee, walked around to the passenger side to get my laptop and purse, set the coffee on the roof of the car, and opened the door. At this point I realized I had forgotten to dig out my access badge so I bent down to look for it in my bag. The result was somewhat of a cascade of coffee and rainwater pouring off the car roof, over the door frame, into my purse, and all over my legs, as I hit the coffee mug with the edge of the umbrella. Perfect.

Since then, I have also spilled a packet of fruit nuggets on my desk (loud, clattery sound to annoy my co-workers), forgotten to put sugar in my breakfast tea but not had time to go back to the break room and had to drink it that way to stay warm (ick!), and realized that I forgot to switch purses so I'm carrying a black purse with my brown-and-cream dress and brown heels (humiliation!). Maybe staying in bed listening to the birds wouldn't have been so terrible after all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Romans 12:9-13 in Two Translations

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
(The Message)

I usually like to read through whole passages of scripture until something jumps out at me and then I read it in several translations. And I'll read it over and over for days on end. This time, I kept remembering the phrase 'practice hospitality' from reading it a long time ago and I searched for it until I found it.

I know I've mentioned it before, but I have some sort of genetic mutation. I have a terrible aversion to entertaining that makes me turn into a complete wreck. It's not that I don't want to have guests over. I do. It's just that I turn into such a freak about it and I hate that.

Several months ago, I heard someone speak about Moses. At the burning bush, God spoke to Moses and asked 'What's in your hand?' and Moses replies 'A staff' (Exodus 4:2). He talked about how the staff represented everything that Moses was. It showed that he was a shepherd and that he had flocks and probably a large family. The gentleman speaking then related this to our lives saying that God isn't necessarily asking us to all become missionaries or pastors or church music leaders. He argued that God just wants us to be faithful to him with what we've been given. For some of us that may be a talent or a passion. For others, money or possessions. He encouraged us look at what is in our hands and see how we can serve God with it.

I know I've done a terrible job of explaining all this, but it made so much sense the way he explained it and I just kept thinking about it. I still think about that question a lot. What is in my hands? I've already mentioned my very talented sisters and how I really don't have that obvious talent or passion. The more I thought about it, the more it became frighteningly obvious... I have a house that is perfect for practicing hospitality and that is what I should be doing. Seriously? How am I going to do that when having more than two people over sends me to the brink of a nervous break-down? Even though I was really apprehensive about it, this was one of the situations where I just made myself jump. And, to my complete surprise, my first attempt wasn't a complete disaster.

Soon I will be trying it again. And again. I think that eventually I will be having some sort of gathering at my house every month or so. I'm not sure where it is all going. This isn't an attempt to try to convert anyone or push my beliefs on anyone or anything like that. This is simply about me being faithful with what I have. This is about me being faithful to love other people and to live in community with them. To be a good friend and to be there when I'm needed, even if that is just to facilitate people taking time from their busy schedules to relax and visit with other people. To be inventive in hospitality. To practice hospitality.

So... Love and Hospitality. Those are the things I'm working on right now. I think there is a good reason I keep thinking 'practice hospitality' over and over in my head. Practice makes perfect, right?

Saturday, May 23, 2009


When I was driving home from my Girls' Night a few weeks ago, the sky was so clear and I could see the moon and so many stars perfectly. Amazing. I started thinking about something I wrote a few years ago. I rifled through my old work and managed to find it. I'm posting it here with some edits:

I can't look at Orion without thinking of my maternal grandmother. I saw it on the way home from Christmas shopping tonight. Luke was asleep in his carseat in the backseat of the Jeep and the stars were so bright. I looked up through the windshield and there he was -- belt, sword, shoulders, knees. I have very few memories of my Grandma before her illness made it too painful for her to walk. It didn't matter to me. I loved her. She taught me how to blow bubbles with bubblegum and how to find the big and little dippers and what cardinals look like and how to tie my shoes and the importance of a firm handshake.

I got my first paying job from her when I was 7 or 8. She paid me fifty-cents a room to dust the furniture. She always checked my work and pointed out any missed spots. She didn't believe in letting me get away with poor work just because I was little. She did get angry sometimes. She would try to bite her tongue until we left the room, but we could still hear her lash out at her caretakers because of the pain. I didn't fully understand then, but I understand now how horrifying it must have been to live in constant pain.

She had been a teacher and an artist in her younger, pain-free days. That teacher spirit never left her. She loved to show us things and help us learn. Sometimes we would hear a train coming on the tracks across the field from their house. My sisters and I would push her wheelchair to the window of the enclosed porch on the front of their house so she could help us count the train cars together. I still count the cars when I get stopped at a crossing and have to wait for a train to pass.

I remember her hands. I'd seen her paintings and sketches, so I know she'd had artist hands, but I never got to see them like that. In my memory, her skin was paper-thin and blotchy. The ends of her fingers were always bruised from from the constant pricking to check her blood sugar. I mostly remember her in her wheelchair, barely even able to lift a spoon. But she could still love us. And still teach. And because of her, I can spot Orion.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Polka Dot Bathing Suit

I really don't like swimming. I know that is weird for someone who loves summer as much as I do, but it's true. I hate bathing suits.  I hate that it's so easy to fry my skin in the water, despite that I have applied sunscreen. I hate that the water is often extremely cold, giving me goose-bumps.  I hate goose-bumps. I hate that it is a huge pain/production if I have to pee since I have to try to dry off and go inside and attempt to peel out of my wet bathing suit just to do so.  I hate that wherever the bathroom is, they are usually BLASTING the A/C, causing me to get even more goose-bumps and stand shivering in the stall as I fight with the wet suit.  I hate that being in the water makes me SO hungry that I just want to eat whatever happens to be around, usually chips or brownies or some other fattening food that will make me look even worse in a bathing suit.

Oh yeah... and I hate that I can't actually swim. Not any real swimming stroke, anyway. I can tread water and I can dive under and kick my feet and move my arms to try to move to the other side of the pool, but I can't actually swim laps or anything.

When I was 5 or 6, my mom put me in swimming lessons at the local swim club. We couldn't afford a membership, but my aunt had a membership that somehow allowed us in to sign up under her name and go to lessons for a fee. I had a dark blue swimsuit with white polka dots and a little blue and white striped skirt. I loved the swim suit (that was obviously before I cared how I looked in swimwear), but I hated the lessons. I'm guessing it would have been helpful for me to be able to practice swimming between lessons, but that would have required a membership to be able to go to the pool other than at lesson time.  Oh well. I did learn to tread water, so that's something.

I don't remember much about the classes other than when it was time for us to learn to jump off the diving board. We all had to line up by the ladder and wait our turn. I was terrified. I remember wishing I could just leave and not have to stand there in line dreading having to walk out on that board. Sure, it was only 4 feet above the water (or however far the standard is... don't feel like looking it up), but they may as well have been asking me to skydive with no parachute. When it was my turn, I would walk out to the end of the board and look down and just stand there. The instructors would be telling me to jump, that they would get me as soon as I jumped in. Yeah, right. I trust you. Finally, after I stood there long enough without jumping, they would let me walk back up the board to the ladder and climb down without jumping. Every week. Walk to the end, stand there, walk back, climb down.

I remember one girl who all the instructors loved. She ALWAYS jumped. And sometimes took an extra turn. And the last week of class, she jumped off the high dive. I hated that girl. Well, actually, I didn't hate her. I was jealous that she wasn't scared. I think I spent most of my childhood being scared. I'm not sure what made me think of all this and remember this swimming thing, but I was in bed last night thinking about it for a long time. In a way, I'm still that scared little girl. I'm scared of everything... that something bad will happen or I'll mess something up to the point that I won't be able to repair it. But, in a lot of ways, I've learned to push that scared little girl off the end of the diving board. Someone who is always scared would never go on a trip alone to Spain. Would never have kids. Would not get tattoos. Would not put her thoughts online for anyone to read. I will probably never not be scared, but it's good to keep making myself jump.

Even if I don't like swimming.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nothing Profound

I have nothing especially interesting to post today, but I have to say that I am LOVING this weather. It feels like summertime! And summertime makes me think of.... getting a new tattoo! What else? I'm not entirely sure of what to get next.

I really want a foxtail since it reminds me so much of summer.

But I also want some magnolias.
Maybe a half-sleeve of magnolias.
Shhhh.... don't tell my mom.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

4 AM

(Note: This is a different style of post for me, but I had a lot of time to think about it EARLY this morning so I thought I'd try it out. I apologize in advance if I've messed up the tense anywhere. I tried to proofread thoroughly, but I sometimes find it difficult to edit my own work.)

It's 4AM and I'm trapped in the death-grip hug of a 4-year-old. I can tell by the uneven breath on my cheek that he is still awake. He was just snuggled up to me before, but as soon as I tried to get up, I got the hug. I can't sleep like this and I have no idea how he can either. But he is. At least drifting off. I'm SO tired and I have to get up for work in two hours, but this is what moms do. So I just lay here, waiting for him to fall asleep for real so I can get up and get in my own bed and catch a few more winks before my alarm goes off.

My arm is getting numb so I shift and he hugs tighter. When you're that little, you don't think about how silly it is to hug someone's neck like you have to hold on for dear life. You just think if you hold on to them you won't be alone or scared or sad, so you hold on. As we grow up, we realize there are personal boundaries and we don't cling to other people like that. But I fully understand the impulse. There are days I just want to hold on for dear life to the people I love. There are days I don't want to leave the house or I don't want Ryan and the boys to leave because I just want to hold on to them. To keep them close where I can see they are safe. To hold on to them so none of us will be alone or scared or sad. This is an impulse I can control. Of course I don't just stay at home or try to keep my family at home all the time. But there are days it takes a surprising amount of effort for me to not cling just a little too long.

I'm lost in thought when he finally relaxes his grip and lets go. He rolls over on his back, arms above his head, like kids sleep when they are completely exhausted. I can tell he is really asleep now, even though he is still moving his fingers and sighs deeply when I move. He looks so little when he sleeps, but I know it will be far too soon when he will not be little and the last thing he will want is a hug from his mom when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Time for me to retreat, but I stay for just a few more minutes and watch him sleep. I guess I am clinging to him, even though we're not touching.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Out of Words

I think I've run out of words. Kind of. I think that for today I've run out of words that I want to write for someone else to read. I've been feeling strange and self-conscious and all in my head. I've been feeling closed off and aloof. There are a lot of thoughts in my head, but they seem confused and better left private.

I hope that tomorrow I will feel different. I guess we'll see. For now I'll just post this.... and a poem about tattoos. Because... well... why not?

It was always supposed to be there
covering that blank spot.
To some,
a clean slate
is a troublesome void.
I could feel it there
before it was visible.
It's amazing
what a needle can reveal.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Before I launch in to my rambling, I just want to note that I do realize I touched on this subject very briefly in an old post, but I've been thinking about it a lot more this week and felt I needed to explore it more fully. Plus, I wrote a poem last night and the following stream of consciousness leads up to that.

I know that I am not 'normal'. I have lots of idiosyncrasies that I try to keep in check when I'm around people I don't know. It's difficult to do that. I've been thinking about how much I question the way my quirky-ness translates in my interactions with other people. There are a few people I seem to 'click' with. People who aren't scared away by my strange comments and the fact that I have a hard time being serious in person. There are plenty of people I don't 'click' with. This is understandable. Some people are boring and only like other boring people.

But sometimes I think I have made a new friend and then it just doesn't seem to work out and I find myself wondering... did I say or do something to make that person not call me back or not respond to my email? In the past, I would wrack my brain trying to figure out if I'd said something or done something they could have considered rude or offensive. Now I'm beginning to realize that sometimes you just don't click with certain people, no matter how much it seems like you should. Not that you wouldn't make small talk with them in a social situation, but for some reason, you just don't connect on that deeper friendship level. Even if it seems you have everything (or even just a lot of things) in common with that person. I've met people with an almost identical upbringing to mine, people with kids the same age and gender as mine, people with the same beliefs as mine.... and we just didn't connect.

I was thinking about the few close friends I've made since I became an adult (well, since I graduated college). If someone were to write up a brief description of each one of us and print it out, you wouldn't read it and guess us to be friends. But when you look deeper, I think you'd see that it's not those three or four big things that make people friends.... it's the million smaller things that form the true understandings. When you look at those smaller things and really get to know the person, you can understand where they stand on the big ticket issues and appreciate their point of view and accept it even if it is strikingly different from your own.

I guess I'm just seeing that it really is fine to not connect with some people regardless of how much sense it makes at first. No one needs to feel bad about it and the worst thing you can do is to try to force it to happen when it obviously isn't working out. Your true friends should be people you feel comfortable with. People with whom you each feel the freedom to express your thoughts or feelings about something without worrying the friendship will end. The people you always have a million things to you want to tell them, but it's okay to just be together and talk about nothing. It's something you can't create or force. It just happens. And when it does, there are few things better.

(needs work, but go with it.....)

You know when it's there
because of all the times it was absent.
An easy back-and-forth.
Plenty to say, but never needing to say it.
The understanding...
a small part of one belonging to part of the other.
The few glaring differences fade
as thousands of little similarities
come to light.
Suddenly realizing you can't
remember not knowing.
And you don't want to.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When I Grow Up

I was thinking today how I don't fit in at work. I mean, I like the job I have now more than I like any office job I've had since I graduated college WAY back when. It is challenging and interesting and I'm not terrible at it. However, I do not fit in there. When I have to assign work to someone, I think about things like how much other work they have. How inconvenient it is for them to have to do work for my project when they already have actual work assignments of their own. I think about how ridiculous many of the projects are and how this is just asking them to add another 'high priority' task to their already completely overbooked workday.

After thinking about all that, I was thinking about what I really want to do when I grow up. When I was growing up.... before I invested my future life income into college.... I was going to take classes to become a florist. That is what I wanted to do more than anything else in the world. I had worked at a floral shop for about a year and I loved everything about it. I LOVE flowers. I loved how excited people were when they came in to order flowers for something fun like prom or Valentine's Day or a new baby. And, as much as I hated when people were ordering flowers for something sad like an illness or a funeral, I felt a little better knowing that the flowers were a symbol to someone else of how much the customer cared about them. I loved helping people choose flowers. I loved delivering flowers. I loved helping tape corsages or choose vases. It was great.

Then.... reality set in. I grew up in a family where my dad worked and my mom stayed at home. I remember how much my parents stressed about money. I know there were times my dad had to call the bank to work out how they could pay the mortgage. I know there were times we ate whatever was in the freezer even if it didn't make an actual meal because there wasn't money for fresh groceries. We never went without, but things were tight. A lot. Things got better as I got older. By the time I was 12 or 13 my dad had a better position at work and my parents seemed to not stress so much about money. But I remember what it was like.

Once I was old enough to get my own jobs, I did. My best friend and I got jobs together at 14 so our parents could take turns with rides. I loved having my own money and being able to spend it on the things I wanted. At first, almost every penny I earned went to buy books. (Yes, I know about the library, but I wanted to be able to put the book on the shelf in my room and re-read it whenever I wanted.) I always took advantage of an opportunity to get a job and earn my own money so I had my own money to buy what I wanted. Around the time I turned 18, I realized that florists make about $18,000 a year. Eighteen thousand dollars a year is not enough to not have to worry about money. Hence the four-year degree and the office job with a reasonable salary.

I have quite a few friends who are stay-at-home moms or work some kind of part-time job or do something where they can earn money while still being with their kids. I think this is ideal for many, many moms. This is not ideal for me. I completely hate the thought of not having my own money. I hate the thought that I would feel like I have to ask permission before spending money on something I want, because I didn't earn any of it myself. I know many couples work as a team on this, even if only one of them is bringing income into the household. They see the job of raising kids as just as valuable as working for an income and all the money the 'working' parent makes is 'their' money. I simply could not see it that way (the 'their' money part, not the value of raising kids part). Even if my husband could, I couldn't. I want -- no, I need -- to make my own money.

Why am I rambling about all this? Oh... right. In my ideal world, I will someday leave the corporate life behind and open a little flower shop in some totally awesome location and I will be a florist. When I grow up, I will have my student loans paid off. I will not have an auto loan and my mortgage payment will be a minor inconvenience. I will have a decent nest egg. And I will do something I want to do, regardless of how little money I make. Granted, if you own a successful flower shop you can make more money than just being employed as a florist, even if you aren't getting rich. I'm fine with that. I don't need a lot of money. I just need enough that I don't have to worry about it. That is why, someday, when I grow up, I will do what I want. And I will still make money, even if it's not a lot. And I will love it.

Monday, May 11, 2009


"Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same." -Francesca Reigler

Yesterday, and all morning this morning, I have been in a serious funk. The thing I hate about when I get in a funk is that I don't seem to be able to just not be in a funk at will. There are all those annoying quotes (see above as an example) about attitude and choices and all that, but I haven't found anything that I can do or think that will just make me automatically have a great attitude. I think that being miserable all the time is more of a choice, but I think sometimes there is nothing you can to to prevent yourself from having an off day here and there. It's not really a choice or something you put effort into; it just happens. And some of the things people say to try to avoid/remedy a bad mood actually make it worse.

Here's another quote: "I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." (Ancient Persian Saying) Yes, you feel really bad for that guy with no feet, but you still have no shoes. And he doesn't need shoes. So.... thinking about someone else who has it worse, but still has a good attitude, does not alleviate a funk. Someone else having a crappy day or crappy circumstances does not mean that your day or circumstances are any less crappy. Maybe you're not as bad off as they are, but how is that supposed to make you feel better? You're certainly not happy things are worse for them. And this only makes you feel bad for that person AND feel guilty that you aren't able to handle your bad (but not-quite-as-bad) day as well as they are able to handle their worse life.

Focusing on the positive also does not help. According to a Maori Proverb, "Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." Yeah? Well.... sometimes it's cloudy and gross and you haven't seen the sun for days. When I try this approach and think about the good things that I should be thankful for, like the people I love and a steady income, I feel guilty that I am in a funk when I seem to have no real reason to be. And I feel guilty because some people don't have those things. If there is anything worse than a funk, it's a guilty funk.

So.... now I'm not even sure of what the point of this post was going to be when I started writing it. Maybe someday I'll come up with some magic formula I can take when I start feeling guilty about hating a crappy day. Or maybe I will learn to just let it run it's course without trying to do things that make me feel guilty. Or maybe someday I'll just get a better attitude.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Keeping Up

I lose track of people. I feel terrible about this. Or, I did until recently. I would have friends I'd made through one of my many part-time jobs through college or through one of my second jobs I had when Ryan went back to school. We'd see each other so often and get to know each other and then one of us would quit and after a few texts or emails.... nothing. There are also college friends, friends-of-friends, cubical mates who it seemed we really had a connection, but then when we didn't have to see each other every day the friendship just faded away. I used to feel guilty about it when something would remind me of one of these people, but I've really come to realize that's just the way life is. You are not going to be friends with all your friends for all your life.

But... the people I actually do keep up with.... I wish there were a word better than 'appreciate' for how I feel about them. I had a get-together tonight with four girls I grew up with. One, I've known since kindergarten, and the others we accumulated along the way. There is something about sitting in a room with people who knew you before you were who you are and the freedom to talk to them about anything and everything that is absolutely amazing. There is no pretending you don't have baggage. There is no embarrassment that you were completely wrong about how you thought your life would turn out. They knew you when you were an awkward adolescent and they liked you anyway. There is little you can do to shock or offend them. I wish everyone had that.

We don't see each other as often as we'd like. We all keep up with each other in varying degrees in the in-between times. We all have such different lives.... one single, one newlywed, two full-time moms, me.... so it might seem that memories would be the only things to unite us. That is surprisingly not the case. Sure, when we get together there are lots of "Oh yeah, I remember that... and then you...." conversations, but we also talk about now and what we're dealing with and our families and our frustrations and our successes. I love those girls.

I think tonight was a good reminder to me that there is a reason you keep up with some people. Not that those you lose track of are not great people or weren't good friends, but there has to be more to that bond than just showing up at the same place several times a week and having a few things in common. Keeping up with someone requires that you have created a place for them in your life outside of the circumstances of your meeting. Keeping up requires that you keep that place open for them regardless of how often or little you are able to see them. Keeping up with those people to whom you've granted one of those places is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Green.... oh how I love green. When it's warm and springtime I don't even mind if it rains. Right now (while I'm writing this part... maybe not by the time I post this) it is raining. And it is green. Our grass is so green and the new leaves on the trees are so green.... it's almost like the air is green. Neon green isn't the right word for it. Florescent green isn't it either. I guess it's just springtime-in-the-rain green. It's as though it is an entirely new level of something being alive. Like you can hear the grass and trees living just by looking at the color. It is amazing.

When I was growing up in Tiny-mapdot, Ohio I would sometimes think of how great it would be to live in the city. Everything is nearby. You don't have to plan half your day just to pick something up at a retail store and grab some groceries. You simply stop on your way home from anywhere and get what you need. There are all kinds of great stores and amazing restaurants and beautiful parks. The city is the place to live and that's where I was headed.

Now... I don't even live in a tiny town. I live in a house on five acres of trees at the end of a road of other houses on acres of trees. It's actually closer to some things, but it is in the country. And I love it. I love how quiet it is. I love the trees (well, not during wind storms) and the space and the solitude. I love how it reminds me of growing up. How we had places to play and room to explore and trees to climb. How we would make 'soup' from wild onion and necklaces from clover and hideouts in the bushes.

I really didn't think of myself as a country girl before a few years ago. I thought of myself as a city girl, trapped in a country town, waiting to finally go where I belonged. I wanted to live in Indianapolis or Chicago and walk or take public transportation to work. Now, I really am content where I am.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the city. I love the culture and the people-watching and the constant bustle. I like to go there to visit and be a part of the city even if it's only for a few hours. But, I love living out where it's quiet. I love foxtails and no neighbors too close and being able to see the stars. I love living right in the middle of the seasons (well, not winter, but the other ones are okay). I love looking out the window in springtime and only seeing green.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More About Endings

I've been reading over some of my posts and realized that I don't only have issues with endings to poems. I have issues with endings in general. I'm not sure if this is a statement to some sort of deep emotional scar I'm repressing or if I'm just even worse at writing than I'd previously thought, but the endings to my posts are usually sub-par (which for some reason means not good even though in golf being less than par is good).

The ones that aren't terrible tend to be the endings to my shorter posts. I think with longer posts I just start rambling and don't know how to wrap it up. Then I try to summarize everything I've already written and it turns out sounding more like a 12th grade English paper than something a 'writer' would produce. Not that I'm trying to be a writer. I just think it would be good if my writing were better than the typical English essay a bored high school student churned out a 1AM the morning before it was due.

So.... that's what I need to work on. I need to work on making my endings appropriate to what I'm trying to convey about that particular topic, without sounding too summarizing or overly philosophical. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave some. I need help.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I need therapy. I got my latest tattoo this past Saturday. For a few days, I was satisfied with that... but not anymore. I am ALREADY thinking about what I'm going to get next. Why do I do this? Why can't I just be satisfied and think about shoes or something?

When I went last May to get my first tattoo, I was convinced it would be my only one. I obsessed over it for months. I spent endless hours looking at pictures of the flowers and the ivy to make sure I found exactly what I wanted. I had my sister help me make a mock-up of it in photoshop so I could envision what it would look like. I looked for hours at pictures of other tattoos so I would know exactly what I wanted. I decided on a non-linear tattoo so it would have no outline and look painted on, rather than one with a thick, black outline. I looked and looked to find an artist in the area who seemed to have the ability to do the type of tattoo I wanted. We made the appointments and had to wait several weeks and I still researched constantly to make sure it was what I really wanted. This was going to be it. My first and only tattoo and it had to be a great one.

Now, one year and three tattoos later, I already want another one. I'm trying to think of what I obsessed about before tattoos, but nothing comes to mind. I read this quote the other day and I think it is really true:

"A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition." -V. Vale and Andrea Juno

There is something about having a great tattoo that goes so much deeper than a picture on your skin. It's like purchasing a piece of art that you love, and being able to carry it around with you all the time. You don't have to leave it at home when you go to work or go out for the night. And, provided you are still living (and barring some horrific bodily injury), it can't be lost, stolen, or repossessed.

I think what I love the most is that it belongs to you more than just about anything in life created by another person can belong to you. You may never see the artist again, but owning their art so completely is such a unique transaction. There is something very fascinating about this to me.

It's yours, certainly, but it's also theirs.

I think I've just convinced myself that it's okay for me to obsess about my next tattoo. There are so many aspects about tattoos that I like. At some point, I will stop getting tattoos, but I will always like the ones I have. And I'll never regret having some of my favorite art with me all the time.

"When the designs are chosen with care,

tattoos have a power and magic all their own.

They decorate the body but they also enhance the soul."

-Michelle Delio

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thank you Friedrich Nietzsche... and Mom

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently." -Friedrich Nietzsche

I was homeschooled from the time I entered 4th grade until the end of my junior year of high school. As I've already stated, I grew up in an extremely conservative church. My family is Republican, pro-life, pro-family, pro-prayer-in-schools, pro-NRA. Even when I read these things, I get a stereotype in my head of what someone who came from this kind of family would probably be like. They would either be the same.... or they would completely rebel and go 180 degrees in the opposite direction in life.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately... and how I didn't end up going down either of those paths. Oddly enough, I have to give my parents, especially my mother, some credit for it. Despite how strongly they hold to all of those beliefs, I have never once seen either of my parents treat someone badly for being different from them or for believing differently. While I never remember a time they specifically said "It is not okay to alienate someone or put them down because they are different from you" that idea was always understood in my family. My mother was always just as welcoming to the perpetually dirty kids from up the street who wandered the neighborhood till past our bedtime, as she was to our next-door neighbor kids who were always clean and called home for supper at 6. She was just as chatty and polite with the mom in the grocery aisle who was cursing at her kids and buying only cigarettes and soda as she would be with another homeschooling mom if she bumped into her in the store.

I guess what I took away from this is that people are people and you should treat them the same. Not that I'm really that great at it. My mom has a lot more grace than I do (she can even be polite to someone who is talking down to her, which is something I will never be able to do). But I think that spending my growing-up years with her helped me to see you shouldn't reject someone just because they aren't like you. That, in turn, helped me to be more open to other points of view. As I moved away from the little conservative bubble I grew up in and really began to form my own beliefs, I was even more able to study and appreciate views that weren't like mine. Granted, I can be really passionate about what I believe, not just in my (for lack of a better term) 'religious' beliefs, but also in what I believe is fair or unfair, right or wrong, good or bad in general. But I can appreciate, and even enjoy, discussing other points of view regardless of how different from my own they may be.

I know my mom isn't exactly a fan of Nietzsche. I'm sure that me writing a blog about her that begins with one of his quotes would seem extremely odd to her (heck, it seems weird to me and I'm the one writing it), but I think it's also a testament to her. That any of her kids would take a Nietzsche quote and be able to appreciate the truth in it, says to me that she is more than just a conservative, former-homeschooling mom. She tried to set a good example and teach us to think for ourselves.

You don't have to agree with someone to appreciate them or their point of view. I'm so glad this is something I've learned, as I would have missed out on many good experiences and relationships if I hadn't. I sincerely hope this is something I can teach to my own children.... that while they should carefully consider what they believe and why, they should never give more value to people who agree with them than they give to those who don't.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekday Mornings.... Ugh

Sun bursting through trees
to illuminate the morning.
Daybreak's symphony
reaches fever pitch.
I need a sleep mask.
And ear plugs.

Okay, so that's not a 'real' poem, but that is how I feel in the morning. I am SO not a morning person. We live in the middle of nowhere in a house surrounded by woods. We don't have curtains (no, that's not an invitation for peeping toms. I keep meaning to get curtains, but they are expensive and I always have something else to spend my money on.) In the winter, this is fine since it is dark until noon and dreary all the time. In the summer, however, the sun is up before anyone should have to be, shining bright rays through the trees, right in my face.

I know I really have no right to complain about this. If I don't want the sun shining in my face, I should get curtains. But, curtains won't stop the day from starting. And they won't keep me from having to get up and drag myself in to the office. The only good thing about morning is coffee.... and that each morning I get through is one morning closer to the weekend.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Before and After

My tattoo. Before.

I recently began re-attending (is that a word?) the Church I grew up in. This is very strange for me to say out loud or to write because when I left small town Ohio for college in not-quite-as-small-town Indiana, I thought I would never be back there. The church were I grew up was full of very conservative people who homeschooled their kids and tried to guide them into marrying other homeschooled kids. Women could work if they were single or married with no kids, but as soon as they popped out a kid (nine months from their wedding night, preferably) they should stay home and raise those kids and make more kids and then homeschool them when they reached school age. Maybe it wasn't that bad, but that's how it was in my mind. I know there were people there who didn't fit into that stereotype, but the ones who did really got to me.

When I decided against grad school in Indy and moved back home after college, I either didn't attend church or attended other churches sporadically. I was very disillusioned with the whole church thing. To me church was a place you went where people made you feel bad for not conforming and judged you for everything you did that they didn't agree with. When I was growing up, I never drank, smoked, partied, did drugs, swore (ok... maybe a few times), slept around, or blatantly disrespected my parents, but I still wasn't considered a good girl at the church. I wanted to go to the public school and go away to college and I wanted to have a career and the thought of being a stay-at-home mom was quite scary to me. I had a guy friend from that church whose mom constantly hovered around any time we were together. I think her greatest fear was that he would somehow fall for me and I would corrupt him beyond redemption.

So.... skip ahead to the present. It's more than I want to type here, but the story involves one of the few times in my life I heard God tell me to do something. And I know this means nothing to anyone who doesn't know me, but I truly am not the kind of person who constantly goes around saying that I 'heard God' about something. However, this was really obvious and SO not what I wanted to hear, that I can't explain it any other way. He said I needed to go home and that 'home' was the church I grew up in. I know it sounds crazy. I thought it was crazy. But if anyone has read any of my other blog posts they already know I'm crazy. What's a little more? Of course, me being the compliant person I am, I responded by deciding I would go back.... but only so it would be obvious that I didn't belong there.

My first Sunday back, I purposely dressed up nice (it's a pretty casual place) in a dress that showed the tattoo on my back. Ryan works weekends so he couldn't go with us. I figured that when I showed up all tattoo'd, with my kids and no husband, no one would talk to me and I would be off the hook for having to go back again. But..... despite that many things were the same, so many things were different. It seems that in the time since I left many people in the church started filling in gaps in community services. They started just meeting the needs of people in the community, no strings attached. Soup kitchen. Food pantry. Counselling center. Coffee house/place for kids to hang out. Arts programs. I looked around the sanctuary and saw a vast array of people.... Different races. Single moms. Recovering addicts. Adults with special needs. I was completely shocked.

Since I've been back I've heard people say things that actually make sense! Like, if you are pro-life it is your responsibility to support those moms who keep their babies. If you're pro-life you should be foster parents or adoptive parents. Someone has to take care of those kids. They can't be raised in a vacuum. I've heard again and again that Christians should study the way Jesus treated people and treat them that way. Who were the people who angered Jesus the most? Religious leaders who were too absorbed in their own agendas to look around and take care of the basic needs of people around them. Who were the people Jesus spent time with? The people who had needs - not just spiritual, but physical and emotional. It's not about converting people. It's about treating them like Jesus would treat them. You can't convince someone to be a Christian. But you can love them and pray for them and accept them where they are. I'm still amazed at times that it is the same place, with a lot of the same people in attendance.

No person is perfect. For sure, no church is perfect. I know there are still attitudes I don't agree with on some topics. But I think this is the first time I've experienced a change of heart in people on such a scale. Last week I saw this very conservative, home-schooling, mother-of-six talk to, and then hug, a guy who has long hair, wears thick black eye-liner, and every Sunday wears some sort of skirt that appears to be fashioned out of a pair of old cargo pants. The crazy thing is, this doesn't seem to be an act. These people really do seem to care about others regardless of how they look or what they do.

So, I have to say, it really has felt like going home... or the way I think going home should feel. This is the closest thing I've seen to how I think a church should be. Sure, there are one or two people who I know probably speculate on what happened when I was gone for those years. I'm sure there are people who think I'm crazy for the choices I've made, who don't agree with my lifestyle of being a working mom who has lots of friends who don't go to church (or even believe in God), but those people don't get to me anymore. Remember the hover-mom? I'm sure she is thrilled her son didn't marry me! I really don't care. I've made
some good friends over the past few months and reconnected with some old ones. I've learned a lot about myself. And no one has said anything bad about my tattoos.

My tattoo. After a free-hand addition yesterday.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tattoo Day

This morning I got up early (for the weekend) which to my kids means they should wake up early too. Ugh. I promised them last night we would have a breakfast picnic since we got home too late from grocery shopping for them to have a picnic last night. I planned to have some kind of non-messy breakfast food (like apple slices or pop tarts) for this, but when we went to choose what they wanted, they chose Cheetos and cheesy rice cakes and fruit snacks. Sadly, since I still needed to get myself ready to go, I just let them eat that for breakfast. I resigned myself long ago that I'd never win a mother-of-the year award, so.... whatever.

Sara and I both got tattoos today. Our appointments started at noon and we were scheduled for three hours each. This means we spent the entire day at the shop. And by entire day I mean it was after 9 o'clock when we left. It is slightly annoying, that it seems impossible to get tattoos in a reasonable period of time.... but you tend to forget about that because it really is incredibly interesting to spend an entire day in a tattoo shop. I've heard people say an airport is great people-watching, but I don't really get that. Airports are just full of pissed off people hurrying to sit and wait and then be herded into over-crowded airplanes. Tattoo shops, on the other hand, provide a vast array of people to observe, talk to, or talk about. Here is a sampling of the people we encountered today:

View from inside the shop

A mom who brought her 14 year old daughter in for a belly button piercing. When told the minimum age is 15, the woman proceeded to whine about it while her daughter demanded "Fine, Mom. You're still getting me something today." Yeah.... because no one should ever have to deal with disappointment.

Lots of other people came in for piercings too. The most memorable was a lady all decked out in a super tight black skirt and a 50's style blouse. Her hair was enormous and crazy and she had a little black hat with netting perched on the side of her head. She came in to get some sort of face piercing. She seemed like a funny and interesting person, but it was impossible to really focus on anything other than the hair and the hat.

A parade of barely legal girls came to visit the guys working at the shop. I'm not saying it's my place to tell these 30-something guys how to spend their free time, but good call not going to the party at her house while her parents were out of town.... even though she is mad at you now and only came in to talk to you for a few minutes instead of however long she usually stays.

A mother and daughter came in to get matching tattoos. Chinese symbols of their last name. That's fine if that's what you like. But then we got to hear all about how the daughter already had a tattoo and it didn't hurt at all and all the guys in the shop told her she was weird for not feeling how bad it hurt. Oh, and next week she is coming back to get a tattoo of Elmo. I have nothing nice to say about that so I will move on.

Some people came in to make appointments for some interesting (and some for common) tattoos. One lady was trying to decide on some type of bird. One girl wanted a pink ribbon with a scripture reference. One wanted some stars and swirly things. A guy came in to get a cover-up of a name on his arm. He wanted a black cross. Thankfully the artist he was working with managed to convince him to wait and think about what it would be like to walk around with his entire upper arm covered with a giant black cross.

It's funny to watch the artists interact with people. You can tell the people they like. They spend a lot of time talking with them and joking around with them. You can tell the people who come in with ideas that annoy them. But they do seem to try to work on every client's ideas to make them translate into a tattoo as well as possible. And they try to talk people out of absolutely terrible ideas, which is really great to watch.

We also encountered a very strange guy at a nearby coffee shop. He made fun of my new tattoo, saying I couldn't really call it a tattoo because it was more like a quarter of a tattoo. He also made fun of Sara's tattoos (she has her daughters' names tattooed on her wrists) and then tried very awkwardly to show her the unfinished tattoo he has on his back that he considers a real tattoo.

People are funny and weird and scary and annoying and fascinating. It was a pretty good day. Despite that almost all of it was spent people-watching in a tattoo studio.