Tuesday, May 31, 2005

three day weekends

time for a new blog. i don't know if it's best to spend my time recapping my wonderful weekend or contemplating the innumerable mysteries of the universe or sharing follow-up from my last entry.

honestly i haven't been much in the blogging mood lately. because all i want to do these days is spend every free moment outside ... or as close to outside as possible. saturday, some friends and i went canoeing and spent the entire day outside, BBQing, playing frisbee, etc. it wasn't exactly warm (i spent the latter part of the afternoon cuddled up on my friend jenn's lap), but i couldn't bear to be inside. it's spring! and if memorial day weekend in chicago is gonna be rainy and cold, i'm gonna enjoy it. that's just how it has to be.

monday, a few of us went to a white sox game at comiskey park (fine, fine, u.s. cellular field). it was the most gorgeous day. it didn't matter that we were in the shade staring across at people basking in the heat of the sun. we were outside watching baseball, eating kosher hot dogs, laughing and telling stories. that's simply a good time no matter how you look at it.

i wish we had more three day weekends. at least two every month. it only seems right. i feel much more productive after a three day weekend. i actually get to clear my head. i actually get to relax. what good is a weekend when you're already dreading saturday becoming sunday becoming monday all too quickly? with three days, you get your chores done, you run your errands and then you really take a sabbath. you get to enjoy people. you get to sit outside with a cup of hot chocolate and chat with your roommates on your front stoop. three day weekends would solve a lot of the world's problems, i think. if we could just learn to rest ... maybe we'd make smarter decisions, learn to care for people more than we care for ourselves, spend time looking at the world and thinking about its Creator, make healthier meals, sleep heavier, breathe deeper. i have to stop here. if i keep going down this path, i'm gonna convince myself that i DO need to take over the world and reorganize it. i need to channel this energy elsewhere. probably need to make my way to the gym after work now and go for a run. decompress. breathe. think. relax.

Friday, May 27, 2005

splotchy milkiness

this morning i read that my ben harper-trey anastasio concert was cancelled at alpine valley this summer. in fact, the whole zooma tour was cancelled.


and then, preparing my coffee at work this morning, i grabbed the coffeemate out of the fridge and - thinking the cap was fully closed - shook it, sending hazelnut milkiness all over the office, a colleague's coat and up and down my outfit. awesome. especially since today is senior luncheon and i have to give the welcoming and closing remarks.

i laughed. because i'm sticky. i'm gonna find a way to go to the Gap this afternoon and buy a new top - one a little cleaner and not so splotchy, you know.

the good news is it's gorgeous outside right now, which makes me happy anyhow. but the rain is supposed to be coming in this afternoon. so just join me in my little prayer that no matter what comes next, i can laugh. i need that :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

razor burn

seriously, i have the very very worst case of razor burn this morning. i didn't shave in the shower because i was dedicated to wearing pants today ... dedicated until i had another "what to wear" drama, and chose to don a skirt instead. which meant i needed to shave with only a few minutes left before i had to leave. which meant i had to do a quick job in the sink. which meant i didn't really think about using any kind of soap/gel/cream. which meant i just used water and shaved as poorly and as quickly as possible.

which has left me with really really really painful razor burn this morning on my right calf!!!! argh!!!!!! seriously, who invited razors for women in the first place?!? damn that mr. gillette!!!

Monday, May 23, 2005

sleeping with my bible

ever have nights where you just can't go to sleep? last night was one of those for me. i was scared i'd be awake all night. so i grabbed my bible from my nightstand, clutched it to my chest and fell asleep within 10 minutes. it's one of the best put-me-to-sleep phenomenons i know.

the best part is that i usually wake up with scripture on my mind the next morning. today, i woke up 7 minutes before my alarm with two verses: one from lamentations and one from philippians.

lamentations 3:22 says, "because of the lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

philippians 3:13-14 says, "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, i press on toward the goal to win the prize for which god has called me heavenward in christ jesus."

i need to begin today new. focused. and not looking back.

it's gonna to be a good week. i know it.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

growing up

this week, i'm enjoying erik's ipod he left with me while he's at boot camp for the summer. i miss him already, as he is my oldest friend in chicago. last night, while my old roommate brenda and i sat on pillows at kopi cafe up in my old neighborhood (and erik's), i felt i missed him more. bren and i pointed through the windows across the street at our old apartment and reminisced about those two years in andersonville, those two years that went by faster than you can blink an eye.

time has always been really way too hard for me to comprehend. i find that the older i get, as the cliche goes, the less i know. last night, i thought that up until recently my life has been following all the general paths it's supposed to follow. everything has had a grade, a new lesson to learn, a new emotion to explore. even moving to chicago seemed right because it satisfied that expected "you just graduated college, and now it's time to enter the scary world and learn about yourself and be lost for a little while" feeling. but i don't know what to expect now. i'm still in that scary world, learning about myself, but now, i don't feel lost. i feel found in chicago, i feel seen, known, heard, understood.

so what next? i've decided that's the wrong question. all my life, i've given god great plans for what i want my future to look like. and they're all great ... for the most part (one option involves me owning the world and re-ordering it in some kind of socialist fashion where everything is equal and fair, u2 concerts aren't so expensive and starbucks always serves fair trade coffee). but it hasn't quite worked out the way i've planned. i mean, my plans are good, but his are better. he always sees right through to what will be BEST for me. and what's more, MUCH more, is that really, it's not even about me, or anything to do with me. he'll take care of the plans for my life. he promised. all i have to do is love him (insert ridiculously happy expression of "freedom!" here). i feel this gigantic weight come rolling off my shoulders. work, friends, dating, home, family, residence - all that little stuff taken care of. because all i have to do is love him. and all the big stuff - justice, peace, freedom, joy, mercy, compassion - well, loving him is it. it's the answer. he's so much bigger than i give him credit for. maybe we should change that cliche from, "the older i get, the less i know" to "the older i grow, the bigger he gets."

i like that i can have one focus now. i'm going to intentionally focus on that one thing. no more what's next. i just want to enjoy loving him in the right now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

born in 1976

i lied about my age yesterday. i said i was 25. i know it's not really a BIG lie since i'm only 2 and a half months away from turning 25, but the difference between 24 and 25 is so great ... especially when you're talking to someone who's already looking at you like, "you? you have this job?"

but i feel 30. and sometimes 45. and sometimes 12. and sometimes 18. and sometimes i think feeling all those ages makes me exactly 24.

then i took this 10 question quiz, and like most 10 question quizzes, it revealed the absolute truth...

You Are 29 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.
13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.
20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.
30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

go ahead. lie about your age.

Monday, May 16, 2005

everyone's a little bit racist

this past weekend, i was in la crosse, wisconsin for my little sister's college graduation (yea, paula!!!) so i didn't have the opportunity to meet my roommate's southern friends who were up visiting the "big city." but the report from my roommate was especially interesting. the couple - we'll call them tim and melinda - took a tour of our apartment, and tim, upon entering my room, noted the wolfgang suschitzky photo of a young african girl and the martin luther king, jr. "i have a dream" poster, and - looking to kat for affirmation - concluded "so she likes black guys?"

really? is that the one conclusion people make when looking at my room?

it reminds me of the broadway show, avenue q, which i regrettably paid $100 to see while in nyc. there's this song, "everyone's a little bit racist sometimes ..." that acknowledges that everyone has some kind of prejudice. i understand that. i've seen it. but that people my own age still had black/white issues? really?

it boggles my mind. maybe i've lived in the midwest too long. but the thing is, i know there's racism here. but ... i can't get into it now. time for work. i'll get back to this issue later.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

more than you wanted to know

yesterday afternoon, things were going too well. monday: a cubs game with my friend jenn (alright, it was really just an inning because of a 2 hour rain delay, but i still got to spend the evening at uncommon ground with jenn, who is one of those women whose heart is something far more precious than you can even imagine and whose friendship i have been so recently fortunate to find); tuesday: a meeting with loyola's dean of students who set off my career exploration on such a strong foot, encouraging me, and sharing warmly and frankly all i could have asked for; out to the park for lunch that afternoon with some of my favorite colleagues, basking in the sun and sharing honestly about our lives; and that evening, out to the u2 concert for free, jumping up and down to "city of blinding lights" and flashbacking to freshman year of college during "running to stand still"; wednesday morning, waking up to a beautiful, big, dark and flashy storm; weds. afternoon, enjoying lunch with one of my closest friends in the whole wide world from madison and unexpectedly spending the whole of the afternoon with her getting her car towed and transported to elite truck rental. it was so wonderful.

so what inside me last night sabotaged the goodness of the past few days? i've blamed it on mental instability, but my friend adam g. assures me my instability is completely normal. still, normalcy is beside the point... i journaled for awhile when i got home, acknowledging the familiar presence of something i'm still unable to identify - perhaps "uncomfortable with" is a better term. regardless ... what happened? did i think too much? i know once i really start thinking, it's a slippery slope. and when i feel myself start to overthink, i try to slow down and focus on this book i read in college with friends called "loving god with all your mind." but for all my energy spent trying to remember what was INSIDE the book, my mind gets caught up re-examining the cover (which i probably spent more time studying than the actual material, but for crying out loud - it was one of those lame, cheesy cup-of-tea-on-a-wicker-chair christian women's book covers! when i got the book, i was just beginning to explore the world of why-so-many-christian-women-authors-make-you-think-god-made-all-women-to-be-pink-prissy-and-putridly-perfect-and-try-to-make-themselves-and-you-believe-that-women-were-made-solely-to-be-spouse-pamperers. gag.)

crap. i've completely lost my train of thought. where was i going with this?

anyway, i think the point of the book was to focus your mind: "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think on such things."

but i couldn't do that last night. i fought off this urge to think for as long as i could. i ate cheez-its for dinner, read other people's blogs, cleaned my room, lit candles, called some friends. and then i couldn't resist anymore. i ran to the freezer, grabbed my cherry garcia ice cream, crawled under my covers, and cried into the pint while i talked to my best friend in minneapolis. i panicked. for everything that was good about the past few days, i suddenly saw only the dangers. thankfully, shelly let me sob it all out with her. it felt so good. so safe. i'm lucky that god stays close to me in these moments, that he doesn't freak out on me and think, "good lord! what has gotten in to her? her mental instability is NOT going to make this an easy relationship. better run before she gets too close!"

i can see the face of that god, and it is one of disgust, kind of like the face i used to give my parents when i was in junior high - as in, what? you want to drop me off that close to the movie theatre? are you kidding me? i'll meet you two blocks west of there, but DO NOT COME ANY CLOSER.

no, i know god is very close to me. i know he sees right to my heart and knows that i am solidly built on His love and His truth, so he's not terribly worried about my thought life (especially since he knows i completed contemporary christian women's rhetoric 101 with that pink-tea-and-wicker book. ha.). he knows i hear him, he knows i struggle with fearing the future, and he knows that he created me with a dangerous amount of energy and passion. he knows everything. so while i was softening up my ben & jerry's with tears, sharing my muddled-and-outrageous-crystal-ball view of the future with shelly, and generally experiencing a peaked emotional mid-life (okay, okay, fine ... quarter-life, but all i'm saying is, you never know when you're gonna go) crisis last night, god knew he had me.

so maybe it's not mental or emotional instability. maybe it was just me shedding an old layer of skin. maybe this is just life and growing up and not knowing and realizing how little control i have after all is said and done. and, bittersweetly, god is letting me experience the fullness of it. and if this really IS just a quarter-life crisis, my midlife crisis is really going to be a mess. and i can't wait.

and since he loves me as much as he does, he'll probably let me have a whole gallon of ice cream. any flavor.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

the full range

i've experienced such a wide range of emotions today. from feeling confident contributing to a meeting this morning with our head of school and feeling greatly encouraged and excited during a meeting with loyola's dean of students about my professional future and feeling thrilled that my friend allan suddenly offered me one of his free tickets to the u2 show tonight
feeling enraged that people in higher administration do not listen to our office's immediate and pressing needs EVER and feeling disappointed that one of my new favorite alums uses such poor punctuation in his emails (i know, i know, but it's one of my serious pet peeves) and feeling that perhaps my new general hopefulness is like grass - flourishing in the spring only to be cut down by neighborhood boys earning cash mowing lawns for the summer.

but, happily, i am mostly - vastly - thrilled today. i feel thankful that god has really responded to my prayers and i feel confident that i can trust him with those things that drive me nuts (and trust him enough to change my attitude towards boys with poor punctuation). in fact, i'm really thankful that i have a writing outlet. because, and thank God for this, i can leave my crap here. i honestly feel like i've laid down everything that's driven me crazy today and left it on this blog. and it's so refreshing. because now, i can fully enjoy ....

u2!!!! i'm gonna go see u2!!!! woohoo!!!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

making me giddy

i just got tickets for the ben harper and trey anastasio concert in alpine valley this summer. oooh! i absolutely cannot wait.

one more thing, i asked an alum to write up a reunion questionnaire for his 20th this fall. take a look at a few of his very irreverent questions below. too funny:
  • is there anyone in our class who's become incredibly successful that, had you known this in advance, you would have kissed up to more?
  • did you avoid the 10th reunion because you were hoping to be so much cooler for the 20th so that you could throw it in people's faces, but somehow it didn't end up working out that way?
  • did you ever go through a "highly idealistic" college phase and then one day find yourself voting Republican?
  • did you ever fancy yourself a very impassioned, involved, aware person only to look back and realize that you were nothing more than a shallow poser?
  • are you planning on coming to the reunion and putting on a front like everything's ok when it's clearly not? and why?

i love my alums. they crack me up :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

the relationship is with the institution

my boss informed me yesterday morning that i'd be getting an assistant starting next monday. he proceeded to share that i'd hand over to her a share of my responsibilities, including ones i'd rather not give her. when i smiled in disbelief at his sudden snatch of my assignments and a dozen or so of my constituent relationships, he added "mary, the relationship is with the institution, not with you." at this, i nearly emitted an ever-so-slight chuckle. nearly.

let me back up a second. up until that conversation, i had been enjoying a recent ego massage from my alumni, feeling warmly appreciated and recognized for my work. i'm a words person, so getting encouraging emails and phone-call kudos persuaded me to consider - if just for a brief moment - staying on for a little while longer. or at the very least, persuaded me to consider NOT thinking about how quickly the end of july - and the potential end of my season in this job - is approaching. but this conversation threw me back into reality.

the thing is, i don't agree with the philosophy tom furnished me about the relationship being with the institution ... not in the way he meant it. i mean, as i discussed with a colleague later that afternoon, i'm certainly not prostituting myself in order to secure involvement - financial or otherwise - with the institution, or trying to win friends so i can have a really big birthday bash for my 25th (which is july 30th, by the way). i just like people and i like to get to know them and i like to hear their stories about life, about work, about their other relationships, about things they really love. that's just how i connect with people. my position, in my understanding of it, requires that i do more than introduce the 1969 architecture, laced with all its shiny, pillared athletic trophies and crowned with its thousands of academic accolades, to each constituent who breezes in through my gray, 4' cubicle walls; no, my position requires that i make each person feel welcome, valued, important - because their stories combine with their peers' to create the story of "the institution." THEY are the institution. their teachers are the institution. the staff is the institution. WE are the institution.

so though my boss, as my colleague suggested, might have intended to backhandedly compliment me on the depth of my relationships with these constituents ("because he's scared you really ARE going to leave your job"), his comment simply added to the growing list of reasons why i believe it might just be that time to move on.

i like people. i like to listen to them. i like to laugh with them. i like to host parties for them. i like to make them feel like they've got a connection to their past that allows them to look back at it without being choked by it. i like to introduce them to each other. i like to make them feel that they belong.

everything's for a season, i believe, and maybe it's time now for a new relationship with a new "institution." bittersweet.

hmm, but that's life.

Monday, May 02, 2005

still sane

so i am taking my first real break of the day here at 4:11 on monday afternoon. i have an executive committee meeting tonight at 6:30 and know that if i don't take these next couple minutes out, i will lose what is left of my sanity.

okay, that's an exaggeration. i've actually been quite sane lately. except for those few moments in the past week when finishing my most recent journal and flying to new york happened to collide and so (i felt certain) suggested my imminent death. i had to make a concerted effort to imagine angels on the wings of the airplane carrying me all the way home ... as in home with a small "h" not home with a big "h" as in "the Lord has called me Home" - ugh, see how crazy i am?

anyway, i've felt exhausted nearly all weekend. i have also been increasingly bothered by this thumping in my right ear which i imagine may signal my imminent loss of hearing. kidding. kind of. but not enough to steer me away from making an appointment with my doctor next week ... remember how she sucked out that wax last time i went in to see her? well part of me wonders if she didn't also suck out something necessary to my hearing, and now, i'm destined to slowly lose all hearing till i am able to listen to is this rhythmic thump in my head. i suppose i could learn to deal with that. on the scale of all things tragic, incessant-rhythmic-thumping-in-the-head is certainly not the greatest.

besides that, i am glad to be at home. glad to be back from spring travels. work has not lessened ANY and spring is still far from dominating chicago's weather scene, but i feel fine. my friends erin and wendy are coming to chicago this weekend, my whole family is gathering the following weekend to celebrate a belated mother's day, my dad's birthday and my little sister's college graduation, lauryn hill is playing a free concert on the 24th of june and i get to make my first trip up to alpine valley to see ben harper and trey anastasio rock on stage on july 16th.

so there's lots to look forward to. but in the present, i am happiest for a couple things:

1) my brother-in-law sent an email novela out to some family folk and i loved reading it more than he will know, i'm sure. this was a raw and honest email like i haven't seen in awhile. if there weren't already a hundred gazillion reasons why he was the coolest guy in the world when my sister married him, this email confirms it. i love him.

2) i had a conversation with a very close friend here the other day about our relationship and how we can better understand each other. and i love her for being patient with my silent treatments and bad attitude. and i appreciate so much that she would remember that i wanted to talk and pursue it. i love her.

3) i love the shirt i am wearing today. it makes me feel pretty.

4) and i'm thankful that i feel there is so much more i want to write. that is a very very good feeling indeed.

more soon ...