Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dear Journal

I've been neglecting my journal. You know, my journal journal. It makes me terribly sad. It is just sitting there on my nightstand. I want to write in it, I really do. But I am overwhelmed. Where would I start? It's been months! MONTHS! Months of sights and sounds and nuance; of emotional hurt and physical hurt and emotional joy and lots of laughter and so many gastrointestinal adventures!

In high school and college, my journal was like water. Actually I probably wrote in it with more frequency than I drank water (RIP Diet Sunkist I miss you every day.) Every waking moment in all its mind-numbing mundanity was recorded. There are tear-soaked pages and terrible song lyrics and probably inaccurate  and highly dramatic recountings of small conversations and accounts of countless weird dreams that always felt terribly significant but most probably were largely meaningless. That journal knew when I sat and when I stood. Now it's lucky if it gets a "Hi, I'm alive, gotta go."

The journal! Oh my soul!

Truthfully, a year or so ago, I had the horrible thought that I was wasting my time with it. And you know the cancer that an idea like that can be - even though I quickly shrugged it off, it didn't go away, and then every time I would sit down to write I would see these images parading in front of me of all the other things I could be doing and how those Other Things would be more financially advantageous or physically advantageous or maritally advantageous or what have you (most of them involved either food or my guitar if we're really baring our souls here).

And because this blog post is not a success story, let me tell you I've not quite figured out how to talk myself out of that yet. I don't plan on showing my journals to anyone, ever. And the old romantic notion of the "generations that follow" finding them in my attic and becoming so wise by reading them in the dust-floating attic sun would be as hilarious to you as it is to me if you only knew the percentage of those pages that is absolute silliness compared to the percentage that exhibits any kind of thoughtful coherence. I know there is value in getting your thoughts down and thinking through life, but truthfully - this might be the most romantic thing I've ever felt - Aaron is that for me now. Aaron is my guy, my friend, my buddy, my love but he is also my sounding board, that saintly man. For the past 4 or 5 years, I can in full honesty tell you there is not a thought that has passed through my brain that Aaron has not heard and worked through with me. (Oh my gosh - I am only now realizing how terrifying that must be. Aaron gets All the Trophies.)

Either way, there is still an ethereal, physical pleasure in getting out a nice blue pen and writing things down. So maybe that small pleasure is the use in it.

AND! I can also honestly tell you that my past journals have been good record-keepers. I've won quite a few arguments with Aaron over forgotten memories by being able to point to their exact date, location, sights, sounds, smells, and relation to a Copeland lyric in my journal. If you want to know what I was doing on September 14, 2003 I bet I could tell you. And any other date, really, between 2003 - 2012. That's kind of amazing, right?

Maybe I can start looking at my journal as a jumping-off point. A starting point of thoughts, if you will. If I write something and think on it and then realize it's ridiculous, it can stay hidden between the pages. And if I write something and it sparks a little smile or it feels really real or significant or worth sharing or all three, maybe I'll write it here, or I'll make a song out of it. Or maybe I'll follow normal procedure of cracking a beer, telling Aaron to meet me on the back porch and then sighing "weneedtotalk" and then word-vomiting until I'm no longer panic-sweating over why that lady at work doesn't like me.

Either way, I don't think I'll ever fully give it up. We're still friends, right buddy?
Volume 12

(P.S. - On September 14th, 2003 I was spending my study hall recounting the  SCHOOL DANCE OMG that had occurred the weekend before in honor of the Louisville Constitution Queen pageant - oh my gosh, I so lived in that town, and loved it. Anyway I had gone to the dance with a friend as my date and then this GIRL who did not LIKE ME (panic-sweat) kept trying to steal him and dance with him, and I was very upset, and then my total BFF saw what was happening and put a stop to it, and I was like, OMG. And there it is, folks. My children's children are going to be SO WISE AFTER READING THESE!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Doing Stuff We Should Is Hard

**I wrote this post last Saturday but didn't publish it. WOULD that I were still in that room.

Right now I'm totally having an out of body experience. Is that what you'd call it? I'm sitting on a gigantic bed in a gigantic room, with mint green walls and white trim and high ceilings and an open sliding door, outside of which the Pacific Ocean is lullabying in the sweetest way. Aaron's organization is having a retreat at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach and they've put us in a suite... I've never seen anything like this. I keep feeling like I'm playing dress up... Like after I walk down the hall all of the staff are snickering at each other because they know I don't 'belong' here.

But I'm living it up. Today we had some free time in between meals and speakers so I went for a run in the resort gym, overlooking the Pacific where dolphins swam by for just about the entire 4.5 miles of treadmilling. (Also, apparently I involuntarily talk to dolphins? I saw a little fin pop up and suddenly I said, in a very talking-to-babies voice, 'now where are YOU off to?' Afterwards I noticed the pot-bellied man on the treadmill next to me. I'm glad I gave him a story to tell at dinner tonight.)

After the gym I went to the pool and I really wanted to take the pretend-rich thing to the next level, so I found a pool server and said, I would Ike an apple please. He said, would you like a fruit plate? I said, no. He said, would you like to see a menu? I said, no, I would like an apple please. And he said, ok! And he brought me a nice juicy apple. I think I'm initiated now.

This is so not what I meant for this post to be about. Please forgive me.

This morning we had a small devotional with a Scottish pastor who lives in Cleveland. Walking contradiction aside, his accent could convert a New York Times columnist. I am not immune; he truly convicted me this morning when he began talking about Bible illiteracy. We don't know our Bibles, guys.

Let me give you an example. Last week in church Pastor Frank spoke on Habakkuk.

I have never read Habakkuk.


That's pretty hypocritical, right? Here's the question: do our actions actually reflect our beliefs? I don't know how they could not, but I don't think they do!

Human beings are so counter-intuitive. We say we believe things, or know things, or want things to be true, and then we act so completely as if they are not. You know how people always talk about how reckless teenagers are, because they don't buckle their seat belts and they go tanning and they smoke and all of that? I used to think that teenagers aren't necessarily reckless or stupid or unaware of consequences, just that they don't believe those consequences will happen to them. I'm sure most teens will concede that people who don't wear a seat belt are more likely to be really injured in a crash, but they must just not believe it's very likely that they'll be in a crash. That lung cancer will happen to them. That's what I  mean. That's what I used to think.

But now I'm not sure - look at this Bible example. In my deepest heart of hearts, I know the gospel to be true. God has chosen me and I've chosen Him. He created me. He redeemed me. He wrote a beautiful story that even HBO can't really recreate (sorry HBO.) And even though I can't see Him, or audibly hear him, or smell him or watch him or physically follow Him, He left us A BOOK. WITH WORDS. FROM HIM. And I don't read it?! I should be sleeping with that thing under my pillow! I should be desperate for it! I should be absolutely absorbed in it. Losing sleep for reading it. Losing my job for reading it. Stealing away in every possible moment to read more.

And yet Tana French still wins out. (omg Tana French.)

We are those teenagers, with the life-saving seat belts, letting them flap in the wind. We know we'll crash. Why don't we use them?

You can also apply this question to people who are confused about God. Or simply haven't given Him a lot of thought. Or who say they believe in Him but don't go to church pray or think about Him at all.

Do they really believe there is an all-knowing Creator, who holds their fate in His hands, but they don't care to get to know Him at all? Or at least try to get on His good side? I mean really - at least try to get on His good side.

Or what about people who just outright don't believe in Him but haven't launched any big inquiry, really. They just don't care to believe in Him. What if they're wrong? And they never bothered to research it? We get the implications of that, right?

I used to think if we did, we'd all convert. But I can't believe that anymore, because I don't read my own Bible.

What is this part of human nature... is it laziness? Unbelief? Both? Are we pre-ordained to place more practical value on our day jobs and our exercise routines and the plot shifts in British dramas than eternity? I might guess it's that we're not good at thinking outside of our Right Now - you know, the cliche about instant gratification. Our cell phones are killing our emotional intellect, etc. etc. But I don't know... we're so unbelievably talented at Worry, which is intrinsically future-focused. So that can't be it, right?

I don't know. But I guess, keep trying? I have to believe He can help.

Ok, time to sleep in this cloud of white pillows. After I call room service for a pear. (KIDDING oh wait now I do want a pear.)

The view from our room.

Friday, March 15, 2013


1. What is, "What I did to my hair last weekend."

I think I am a short-hair person. In personality, I mean. I don't know what that means really. But I am. When I walked in to the salon I said "We're chopping it!" And my stylist looked like she was going to cry and run away. She asked me about 40 times if I was ready before cutting off my ponytail. Then she asked if I wanted to hold my ponytail. That's weird, right? I said no. But I did take a picture of it and send it to Amy. Because that's what we do.

Not to get all existential with you about a haircut, but I had this moment afterwards where I was like - oh wow, I kind of feel like the exact same person I was before this. That was a big deal for me, I'm not being sarcastic. For years I've had the tendency - and I have a hunch this is common - to equate my appearance with my identity. I am Long-Haired. I am a Blonde. I am Fat/Skinny/Paula Deen/whatever. It follows then that if these things are Me, if any of them change, I do too, and that's scary, because what if I change into a worse version?

But it turns out changing these physical things doesn't really change too much inwardly. After my haircut on Saturday I realized I still love Aaron and hate cleaning the bathroom and everything. Same old me!

2. What is, "the show that abated the Great Insomnia of Kansas City 2013."

My parents have a thing with this show. By "have a thing" I mean they watch it all the time. Last week I traveled to Kansas City for a few days for work and it turns out I cannot sleep in hotels without Aaron anymore. Despite days of no sleep and Advil PM. I have an iron constitution, apparently - who knew? (Maybe it's the haircut) Anyway, luckily the Food Network went a little berserk with the Chopped marathons so I was entertained in the night hours. But seriously - purple jelly beans as a crepe filling? No.

Coincidentally, the show has been inspiring some kitchen bravery for me. (Also some kitchen hurrying. I like to run around while I cook now, and every now and then I'll give a nice, loud "HOW MUCH TIME LEFT, CHEF" just to keep things interesting.) So last weekend I made butternut squash and spinach-stuffed pasta shells with a sage-lemon-butter sauce. I won the competition.

3. What is, "the type of liver which my physical being most closely resembles."

On Tuesday I had to have a colonoscopy. The real hero in this story is my husband, who for all intents and purposes stayed up with me all night the night before as I agonized over the impossibility that I drank AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF MIRALAX within 3 hours and it DID NOT WORK. It was the absolute worst time to become a miracle of science. So I woke up at 1:30 am and like any sane, unimaginably 'blocked' person would, went to the gym. Then I came home and it started to kind of work. And continued to kind of work for the rest of the night, while my frustration grew into a full-blown 8-hour tantrum. I do not deal with fear/frustration well. (Can I blame the haricut again?)

Anyway, by another miracle of science my doctor was able to do the colonoscopy on Tuesday. I'm still waiting on the results, and I still feel like, pardon the pun, absolute crap. Turns out being tubularly searched like a dead frog in science class does not leave you feeling too great.

The best part was the medicine they gave me to put me under. It wasn't an anasthetic in the sense that it put me to sleep - it was a drug that puts you in "twilight sleep", or essentially erases your memory, according to Dr. Randloph aka my "contact." I came home and watched Biggest Loser and then later had no recollection of who got eliminated, is what I'm saying. It was pretty trippy. So the million dollars that this whole ordeal is costing me was worth it.

Now tonight I am flying to the OC (don't call it that) for a beachy, fancy hotel weekend with my husband and his work and I am totally going to be pretending we're super rich all weekend (I've already started paying more taxes just to make it real.) Hopefully that will make it all better.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

We're All Missing Out on Something

When I was in Ecuador in 2008, my friend Kat and I found ourselves with a few hours to ourselves one evening. We were in Banos, this gorgeous, mystical town up in the Andes sometimes referred to as a "cloud forest" because on account of the high altitude, the clouds sometimes walk down the street with you.

Anyway, Kat and I were wandering downtown and found a cute little cafe and were very excited at the prospect of non-fish-and-rice related food. We got some beer and some crepes, yes we did.

That's when we met this woman. She was old. White hair, knobby knees, walked with a cane. I don't remember her name. (I'm not trying to set her up as some metaphorical ghost so later you are all "was she real or wasn't she?" I just honestly don't remember her name. Yes she was real. omg now I'm like, was she real? Shit.)

Anyway, she was white, and had an American accent. We asked her where she was from and she said "Banos," and then she told us she had been traveling for the past 19 years. A nomad.

We found it very romantic and courageous, of course. It was, I suppose. I also found it sad, in a "this song has a lovely sad melody" sort of way, not a "someone just died" sort of way. I figured she probably had family somewhere that was missing her. That's how I was in college - I thought everyone's life looked, more or less, like mine. (Maybe one of the most difficult rites of passage in life is the discovery that this isn't true. Doesn't that cut like a knife?)

Since I met that lady, and even before, I have decided many times to become a nomad. It started out small - in fourth grade I was going to be a storm chaser, a-la Helen Hunt but without the bangs.  But then I decided I'd get a trusty backpack and get lost forever. Naturally I'd have a very robust writing career that lent itself to my wanderings... A group of people "back home" living vicariously through me and wishing so hard they were me, with my leather-soled shoes and hemp sweater and dreadlocks. (Did I just become someone at a Dave Matthew Concert? I think I'm mixing up my stereotypes.)

So far, anyway, that has not happened. Aar and I obviously made a big move across the country after college and that has been fun and scary and not fun and fun and an adventure and something I'm proud of. We've been able to travel a bit too, going to Ireland last summer and Utah a few summers ago and taking a couple of beach vacations in between. But we work steady jobs, we have a dog, I have a night stand with hand lotion on it. Not very nomadic of me.

Here's the thing, though - I don't think I'm cut out to be a nomad. (Everyone in my family is cackling right now. And yelling a very sarcastic "YOU THINK?!?!" Well, SHUT UP family. I am coming to terms with this on my own time.) I value being comfortable. I like watching TV. I like feeling connected to people. I like feeling understood in my own context. I want a sock drawer. (It's worth noting that two weeks into my Ecuador trip I was crying on the phone begging Dad to fly me home. I felt off-kilter. Thankfully I didn't fly home early, which I'm now grateful for, but still. The discomfort and fear were very real.)

It's hard to realize I may want a sock drawer more than I want to see the world, but that might be true and that might be OK. Because the sock drawer also means being there for my family, and maybe having babies, and making enough money to support those babies.

Being one thing in life means you can't be a million other things you might also want to be. That is hard. But I love what I'm being, and I want to feel like I decided it, not that it 'happened' to me. So I did decide it. I am deciding it. Here.

And happy trails to those who were called to go it solo. You are courageous and probably having the time of your life - but you are missing out, too.