Home

Just a Little

1 Comment

Note to self: “It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;—it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.” (Jane Austen)

Two years ago, my life changed.  I don’t know quite how to put words to the one story I have come to love the most. Sometimes the words come pouring out and it is all ready to post when I realize that the beauty of that written thought is that it is entirely mine and it seems a pity to share it so widely. Perhaps this is selfish, like hiding in a corner so one can eat a slice of chocolate cake in peace. But for just a little moment, I want to gush to you over how my life has changed.

I grew up with the hopes and dreams of a knight in shining armor, a prince charming, a lover and a friend. Over and over again, the sails of my dream ship were shredded by the grapeshot of a range of fellows ranging from careless to spiteful. Consequently, I slowly stopped mending the sails and set to a row boat wherein I could just put my head down and row like crazy to who-knows-where. I was so focused on rowing I didn’t even realize that someone had started rowing next to me. It honestly took me a whole year of rowing with that someone coming in and out of my life for me to realize that he had found my abandoned ship and fixed its sails.

In that moment, when I first met JR, I felt like the dreams that had been folded up, put away, and forgotten, were flung out from their mind drawers into the fresh open air and were singing for attention. From the first date, he asked me out for coffee (oh, I had always wanted to be asked out for coffee!), he opened my door (hello, chivalry!), and he paid for it all (lanta, somebody’s mama raised him well!).  But then it went further and my hard, so-much-broken heart melted little by little when I heard him pray over our food, when he took me to a baseball game and bought me a hot dog, when he took my pace with no hint of frustration though I know I have done so, when he laughed at my horrible jokes, when he didn’t laugh at my genuine dumb questions, when he kissed me on a summer night for the first time after a whole month of dating, when he said, “I love you,” and I knew that he actually meant it, when he chose me…twice.

He isn’t perfect and I am so glad of it. His flaws, though, make him beautiful. His armor isn’t all shiny, but then if it were shiny that would mean he had never seen battle. He is my champion knight, a survivor and fighter. He has redefined the meaning, the feeling of tender lover, of devoted friend. He makes me want to be better “all of the days and all of the times.” My heart has been smiling so hard for what feels like so long, I don’t know how to contain the joy. Sometimes the joy spills out in tears of disbelief and I wonder if this is all just a story in my head. But then, my phone flashes, my door knocks, a warm hand takes mine and I realize that it is so very real. I hope you’ll pardon my mush, but I had to commemorate this day beyond just the gushy feelings inside and tell you just a little how very much I love the one who has changed my life.

Making Time

1 Comment

Note to self: There is always time.

One of the strange things about being a human in this world is the indelible feeling of being behind – behind on fashion, behind on health, behind on technology, behind on everything.Life post college graduation and as a working adult seems to have been a blur of “I don’t have time.” I can’t remember a time when the weeks did not leave me feeling depleted, running just inches from being behind, and living life in an intricate blend of exhaustion and caffeine comfort. Since moving out on my own, I have been purposing to jump into a routine that would help me do “all the things” that I need to do to achieve whatever it is I am supposed to achieve in order to feel that satisfaction of “making it.”

Four days away from being on my own a whole year, I am still without a routine. I crave it, but not so much that I have it. Grade school and college forces one into routine – otherwise those beady-eyed grades threaten you with their “F” shaped clubs. Work also sort of does this as well, only I imagine the juice behind the get-up-and-go is a scary, red-eyed mime acting out your life in poverty should you fail to keep the 8-5 routine.

But somehow, outside the confines of work and school, I simply feel like I don’t have the time. As if it is any further proof – I have had tons of drafted ideas to post here and yet by the time I feel like I should write one of them I don’t quite make it. I think what I am really saying is that, “I don’t want to have the time” for those things even though I wish I had them. I could have routine, but routine demands discipline. Leonardo da Vinci noted that one could have no “greater or lesser dominion” than that over oneself and the book of Proverbs metaphorically describes a person without self control as “a city whose walls are broken through.”

Time is a precious commodity. People pay other people for their time. Time is spent or time is wasted. Time is fleeting and it is a conscious choice to make the best with the time one is given. In the year ahead, I may not find the routine I dream of and I most likely will not be able to keep everything under control. As a matter of fact, I anticipate losing control of things a couple times and in ways that end up being the meat of my own writing. I plan optimistically, though, and seek to better discipline my mind, my heart, and my body to use my time well and in ways that leaves me feeling less behind and more present, thankful, and joyful for the gift of getting to live this life. There is always time for that.

 

 

TOWANDA!

Leave a comment

Note to self: Towanda!

Spiders are intriguing creatures. I appreciate their addition to the ecology on earth – after all, keeping the fly population in check is always a plus. But like Johnny Castle with “Baby” Houseman – “this is your dance space; this is mine. You don’t come into mine; I don’t come into yours.”

When it comes to finding a spider in my dance space – a.k.a., my home – my appreciation quickly fizzles to outright hate. I am not merciful nor the kind to catch and release spiders as my neighbors have told me they like to do. (Thanks, by the way, as I am sure your release is my new visitor.) Instead, I am of the firm belief that if a spider has entered my domain that is because there is some blatant challenge of authority that needs to be quashed lest the peasants lose respect for the queen.

Lately, my apartment seems to have one or two of these spawns of Satan every couple weeks. I don’t know if they are tree spiders, brown spiders, recluses, or Shelob herself. All I know is that if I see one, it dies. By broom. By shoe. By a whole canister of Lysol and a vacuum cleaner. It can run and crawl away, but I find it. I always find it. And it.must.die.

Calm down, much? As merciless as I sound, let me divulge the truth of the matter: these spiders scare the living baby cheeses out of me when I find them in my living space. I am terrified of them. I cry a little every time I see one on the wall, and I have to work through the irrational (or is it now?) fear of the super powers against me.

The last time I had to suffer through the procedure of a spider elimination, it was approximately 10:00 p.m. – which I am coming to believe is the preferred hour. There was a particularly large, hairy creature by the wall/ceiling light of my living room. The fiend was literally just under the light bulb so I couldn’t quite see it with the light on and I couldn’t turn off the light because – as we all know – when you turn off a light, a spider will both alter its location and grow in size. Thus, I did what only any other soul would do in such a terror-filled situation: I grabbed a broom (with which to kill it). a step ladder (with which to reach it), and sunglasses (with which to see it). With my sunglasses fogging up with my own tears, I summoned all the strength left in my arms and smashed the broom against the wall, yelling the only word I could think of: “Towanda! Towanda! Towanda!”

Thanks to the year 1991 and my mom. Towanda.

 

Yes, the spider died. Perhaps he died a little exaggeratedly so. But the message was well sent. The reprisals have been fewer of late and I like to say that is because of my dominant display of conquering-ness and not because the weather has changed. Spiders may live when they stay outside. They are welcome to stay in the scary spider web tree or even in my neighbor’s if they like. But so much as one of eight legs steps inside my apartment, they all know that hell is coming for them – albeit a hell dressed in pajamas, wearing sunglasses, and blindly smashing things with a broom – and the last words that spider will hear will be “Towanda! Towanda! Towanda!”
 

The Chime of a Bell

Leave a comment

 Note to self: Never take the stairs; you never know who you will meet in an elevator.

In the town I live and work in, fitness and health are part of the genetic makeup. Therefore, when it comes to working in a multi-level building, taking the stairs is highly encouraged. I like to adhere to that mentality, but on a very ordinary Friday morning, at the start of a very uneventful birthday at work, I took the elevator. It was there – in the five seconds between the lobby and the third floor, I met him.

My thoughts in that moment were quite as ordinary as the circumstances of our meeting: “(1) Pretty sure I haven’t seen you before. (2) Man, he’s kinda cute. (3) Thank God we’re hiring younger men these days.” And just like that, the bell chimed my exit and my attention shifted to the endless to-do lists and merciless deadlines. Without much more than your average, polite “have-a-good-day”, I stepped out of the elevator and didn’t look back.

Silly girl that I am – I didn’t realize he was smitten even then.

A month of time passed and I didn’t see him even once. In all that time, I recall thinking about that absence only once and in the kindest of terms too: “Bummer, guess he couldn’t pass the probationary period! Tough luck, kid! Womp womp!” (Yes, I actually do think with a womp womp now and then…)

But then, on a very ordinary Tuesday afternoon, during a very normal spring day at work, I took the elevator from the third floor to the lobby. The bell chimed my exit into the uniform, well-polished lobby and, for the mere thought of a piping-hot, quadruple-shot Americano, I could barely contain an excited skip. Just as my cheerful skip of anticipation emerged, a fleeting glance to my right turned into a locked stare with a very familiar, youthful face.

He too had paused where he stood at the other end of the lobby, having just glanced up in time to see that skip. I would like to confess that I couldn’t help staring for complete and unabashed romantic enthrallment, but that would only be 1/3 of the truth. I could not stop staring at him for (1) the absolute horror that he was witness to the skip, (2) the realization that he wasn’t fired after all and thus a gut theory was debunked, and (3) the intriguing reality that he was indeed a very handsome stranger. Apparently, this unwavering stare and frozen stance in the middle of the lobby communicated permission to approach. And, much credit must be given to him for even wanting to approach as I am positive my stare was nothing of the enticing kind. If anything, I had the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights/”oh my gosh, he’s walking over here – run away!” kind of look.

“Hello!” he offered a hand and a shy, crooked smile.

“I haven’t seen you in a while!” I squeaked in return.

“Yeah! Where are you off to? Lunch?”

“Oh, no – just coffee.”

“Well, I’ll walk with you then!”

“Okay!” Though my tone was chipper, my mind was racing in unparalleled panic, “Excuse me?! Uhm, I didn’t invite you, handsome stranger. But I guess it’s just coffee…and I won’t let him buy me anything…and I’m not buying him anything either – because that’s weird. And it’s not it’s a date or anything. So yeah, I guess it’s okay.

As we walked, we went through the normal introductory conversation. Somewhere in there, I mentioned that I had not seen him in a while. As I spoke those words, I specifically instructed myself not to mention my theory that he might have failed probation but just as I brought up his mysterious absence and just as he attempted to explain that away with intense preoccupation of a new job, my words stumbled into the conversation like uninvited, drunk rednecks at a black-tie event, “I just thought you were fired – haha…eh…”

I cringed. Even the trees moaned. I waited for the, “Wow. Nice. I suddenly don’t need coffee anymore.”

Instead, he laughed – genuinely so. For fear of further wreckage, I willingly let him commandeer the conversation the rest of the way to the coffee shop. As we walked back to work, though, I realized I was the only one who grabbed a cup. I questioned this strangeness all the while thinking, If he doesn’t like coffee this isn’t going to even have a prayer. As if there was even a prayer to think about considering my faux pas all the way to the coffee shop…

He assured me of his enjoyment for coffee, but that at that time all he had wanted was to walk with me. This unique response to an entirely cliché boy-meets-girl encounter made me realize this wasn’t ordinary at all.  Before I could actually analyze this development, he asked what time I got off work and if I would like to go for coffee with him again.  Somewhere deep inside my heart, a long-forgotten dream woke up. It was like that feeling of stumbling across a dusty old trinket that used to be the favorite of trinkets – he asked me to after-work coffee. Not an after-work drink. This handsome stranger, resilient to my clumsiness, had asked me to coffee. Absolutely yes!

Though the rest continues further into the stuff of stories, the one thing that truly stands about that very ordinary day is that with the chime of a bell, my life – as I have known it for so long – changed, for better or for worse, for forever or just for a little while – and all because I chose not to take the stairs.

Beaningful Studies

Leave a comment

Note to self: Just cook them.

When we were growing up, my sister-in-law (then my childhood best friend) would invite me over for fun lunches and long talks about make-believe stories, homemade bead jewelry, and – occasionally – boys. Now that we are adults, my sister-in-law (now my adulthood best friend) calls me so we can talk paraben-free hair products, home-purchase dreams, or cancer-free cooking habits. Oftentimes, she amazes me with all the things she discovers about cooking and clean eating. She is a vigilant housewife; my brother and their children are truly in good hands when it comes to surviving life clean, strong, and healthy. Slowly but surely, I have come to appreciate her staunch fight against foods that may (or may not) cause cancer and I have tried to adapt some of my food habits to be more clean. One area of our recent discussions has been in the cooking of beans.

When you’re a kid, beans are just something that end up in a burrito and occasionally make you fart which then makes you – and the other kids – laugh, so beans are pretty much alright. But then, when you grow up, you suddenly have to (a) buy beans in a can that may (or may not) have heart-stopping amounts of sodium or (b) do what your mother and grandmothers did before you and just freaking make your own beans – so that you have good, fibrous food to eat all the while not ever, ever farting in the presence of others as that has come to be one of the greatest social fumbles to be documented and can, in some countries, get you kicked out of a soccer game.  Out of this conundrum rises the question that experts (and my sister) have been working on for years to figure out – can we possibly make beans that won’t make you gassy? Is there some way to trick the bean into forfeiting its raffinose and stachyose before it reaches your large intestine? If you’re thinking soaking the beans will fix it, you’re wrong. Beans, though tiny, are fiercely loyal to their gas-making properties.

One might argue that it takes dedication in the soaking method to get the beans to relent, but going through even the most scientific means of soaking, heating, setting, and torturing the beans to pull out those alpha-galactosides, experts have determined that “there wasn’t a consistent marked decrease in human flatulence.” (See Russ Parson’s 2014 article, Don’t Soak Your Dried Beans!) (Side note -who gets to do these studies? No, wait, who volunteers for these studies – to determine if human flatulence can be reduced by a certain bean-cooking method? And how do you determine reduction in flatulence? Who has to follow Bob Smith around town to figure out if his bean lunch will result in more gas or less? Why do I get hung up on this subject so much?)

All this rambling to say, I soaked some beans. No, I didn’t eat the whole pot and then have issues in public, though that horrible thought makes me laugh for the absolute mortification that would be.  Less exciting, I  merely spent the last couple nights soaking beans (meaning I managed to get too busy to cook them the first night) with the hopes that my effort would result in some gas-free beans. But upon cooking the beans, I realized that the beans had developed a more gray-brown color broth that in no way reminded me of mom’s cooking. Upon Googling this phenomenon (yes, I Google pretty much everything that makes me wonder “Is that normal?”), my search yielded multiple articles, such as the one cited above, discussing how the soaking removes only some of those gas-producing properties and more of the flavor. What is comforting to me is that the loss of flavor is not the super secret way to not experience gas after eating a highly-fibrous food. It seems that one tried and true method to making beans less of an experience and more of a simple addition to one’s diet is the regular ingestion of those beans so that your body (meaning that large intestine) will learn to digest the beans with less flair for the dramatic.

All this to say, I have learned a lot about beans tonight and I am particularly fascinated by Russ Parson’s strenuous effort to write that article for the L.A. Times.  I have yet to eat the beans I cooked, but I am – at the risk of ignoring some very good advice from my very wise sister – going to just cook those beans next time and keep the flavor. No soaking. No frills. Just rinse and cook. Those beans can have all their properties intact. My microflora will be ready for them.

 

Here and Now

Leave a comment

Note to self: Embrace the blessing in the here and now.

It is easy to become wrapped up a “best is yet to come” mentality where one is always focused on the next achievement, the newer version, the upgrade for satisfaction. While achievements and upgrades are good things, if we cannot see the blessings in the here and now, life will be nothing but perpetual discontentment. Social media does not do much to help this sense of discontentment at all as the whole idea of it is an incredible comparison of the things one does, the things one has, etc. to that of a virtual community. (I promise, this isn’t going to be a rant about the evils of social media; I will save for a later post my feelings of intermingled appreciation and abhorrence towards social media.)

My main need to write tonight is the fact that I am so very tangibly aware of blessings right now that I – in the words of those hip young kids – “I just can’t even.”  (Whatever follows the “even”, I do not know. I am just hoping that I used that expression right.)  I am so thankful for the fullness of my life that I do not know how to not acknowledge them by looking at just what it means to be blessed. Blessings, according to the 1828 Webster Dictionary (which technically is the only real dictionary in the world), is broken down as “Any means of happiness; a gift, benefit or advantage; that which promotes temporal prosperity and welfare, or secures immortal felicity.”

A blessing can be of the temporal or physical nature, such as food, shelter, wireless internet, GPS devices, and flushing toilets. I can say truly, I am very glad for the above. The greatest of blessing is the thing that secures immortal felicity – meaning the salvation of Jesus Christ which gives one the unwarranted promise of heaven and restored relationship with the Creator God. How good a present blessing is that!

When life is good, it is really easy to see the things that go well and appreciate them. When life is going awry or just plain awful, it is harder to see the good or even walk with a sense of contentment in what remains or is. Dallas Willard describes the idea of blessing as being a very present, day-to-day thing – not a thing that Pocahontas would tell you is “just around the river bend” but that “God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are…”.  The blessings are a constant – both the temporal and the immortal, but so often, we toss aside situations and moments as not being the right, perfect, or opportune time for the blessings because something else is amiss somewhere else in life. I do this quite often and am often humbled by Willard’s wisdom on the subject.

Life is not perfect, but it is full of blessing. I am loved, I have the ability and people to love, I have had plenty to eat and have a warm place to sleep. The God, who had the idea to make the world and put stars individually into their places, who thought to make homes for the ants and soil compatible for the plants, this same God took the time to see little me and bless me where I am right now. He calls me redeemed and daily, moment-by-moment, gives blessings to embrace in the here and now.

 

 

Sorrow Needs Words

Leave a comment

Note to self: (Per Shakespeare) Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the over-wrought heart and bids it break.

The moment that tragedy occurs, whether expected due to long illness or without any warning as with accidents, life and all the world around seems to freeze. And it never quite has the decency to stop just before the end so as to offer a few moments more of sweetness but always halts at the moment of severance from life as you knew it to life as it is moving forward.

Loss of those we love is not something that time prepares us for or really even heals us from. If anything, the passage of time helps us learn how to adjust to the new reality and continue living. But it doesn’t heal it. One of the struggles with grief is how it lingers, softly, quietly, and so stubbornly. It doesn’t necessarily stay in the torrential-crying stage, but where the loss of that person is in your heart, sorrow slips into that hole and resurfaces three months, or three years, or thirty years down the road. When C.S. Lewis lost his wife to cancer, he wrote A Grief Observed  wherein he summed up the feeling of loss: “Her absence was like the sky, spread over everything.”

Living with grief does not mean living a life of depression, but “we rejoice in spite of our grief, not in place of it” (Woodrow Kroll). My trusted example of giving words to sorrow is the writer(s) of the Psalms. Some of the chapters are straight up disheartening in the rawness of grief. But most every chapter resolves the sorrow with surrender, with joy, with thanks, or some blend of the above. In some cases, it is the forfeit of one’s will to whatever God has planned with the confession that perhaps the all-knowing God really does know what He is doing; in some cases it is joy and thankfulness for tangible gifts of safety, of new life, of blessing that remind our human minds to hope in One greater than our fragile selves.

Tonight, I miss my friend. I would rather skip this week and the next, which are so very full of memories of life breaking apart and becoming so different. This isn’t to say I would ask God to take away these past three years – not at all! With the loss, the past three years have held so much life and joy, and so much undeserved blessing. But for this moment, the sorrow instilled by her absence needed words.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him and the sons of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

“I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” Psalm 18: 1-2

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? …This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust: I shall not be afraid….” Psalm 56: 8, 10-11.

 

 

 

 

 

Older Entries