Monday, August 29, 2005

"Tuff Enuff" or "I tripped over a rusty fence in a moment of carelessness"

Argh. I was so ready for a good run this afternoon. Came home, changed, and took off west into the setting sun on Grace. Katherine and I made it about .1 miles before I tripped on a rusty fence lying on the sidewalk.

One of three construction guys doing some yard work a 1/2 block down the street came over to check on me. They had tape up on a sidewalk where they had just put down some new concrete, but failed to consider what possible consequences an upwardly curved rusty fence laying in the sidewalk could provide.

Katherine hadn't seen it either and was already moving off to the right to avoid the taped sidewalk. I wasn't so fortunate. My knee was scraped pretty badly and I'm beginning to bruise all along my knee cap. My shoulder is scraped as well and I had rust up and down my arm.

Fortunately for me, Katherine is also Florence Nightingale, so she helped me home, poured a bit of peroxide on my knee (to the point of bubbling - gross), and helped bandage me. I am very grateful.

I can't remember the last time I fell down and took some serious scrapes. I don't like it; it hurts, of course. But honestly, when my body has to work to recover, I feel like praising God. The human body is incredible. Really, falling down makes you so aware of things you take for granted.

And that's all. I'm off to go freeze my knee a bit more and spread another thick layer of Neosporin on my shoulder. And then I'm gonna have a G.I. Jane moment in front of the mirror. Let's be honest, they may not be attractive, but scars do make you look tough.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Silence is Golden.

Two unexpected nights of silence. Extraordinary.

Yesterday, after going for a run on Lakeview High School's track (a run which I'd hoped would get easier, but has indeed proven to be more difficult; fellow runners tell me to blame it on my allergies - which I'd eagerly do if I indeed had allergies), I came home to a perfect summer night. Our AC has been off for awhile now, and it's been cool enough to leave the fans unplugged. So all I had was a gentle breeze and the sounds of cicadas and crickets chirping outside. It was the kind of night when playing music would have been near sacrilege - kind of like someone choosing to flip through pictures of Miami Beach while lounging on white sands in Bermuda at sunset. You just don't do that.

Tonight, I've just come home from a kick off meeting with members of our Board. I'm really lucky to work with the people I do. I love the little things about them - the way Ruth tells a story with her eyebrows (they lift and fall to let you know your correct reaction - "That's ridiculous!" "I can't believe she'd do that - are you kidding me?" "Why am I not surprised?"), or how Jed waits for my affirmation at several points in his own story telling, or the subtleties in Megan's voice that express her true feelings on the subject at hand. I really enjoy them. And I could spend years watching them, listening to them.

But years, I don't know how many years I have. A visitor came by today, one of my favorites. After an internship in D.C. this summer, he swears he'd never run for any kind of political office. It's not him, he claims. Still, I said, if you ever did - even if it were on a platform I couldn't disagree with more - I'd vote for you. He laughs his very kind, and still very teenagerish, laugh. And then waits for my gaze and very gently asks me what I'm gonna do. I pause. Though I have my own office, my conversations aren't very private. He says, "take it year by year?" "That's it," I say, smiling.

Do you ever meet a kid - and I'll use this term loosely, understanding that my ripe old age of 25 doesn't quite take me out of that category - that you just think the world of? I probably know at least a dozen whose lives I feel I could easily rally behind.

Why is it so much easier to believe for someone else? to have bigger hopes and dreams for someone who's life you're just watching?

It's not that I don't have big ideas and challenges for myself. And it's not that I don't believe in me. It's just more fun, maybe, more edge-of-your-seat exciting to see someone else take hold of their potential.

Some days, I think I make it through (and make it through well) because somebody else is believing for me. There are moments when someone else has to be praying for you, because you succeed when you shouldn't, or you laugh when you thought it was impossible, or you take a chance when you'd had your back to risk for years.

I love the idea of standing in the gap. I love talking to God about people I know. It's as if ... it's as if, if that person could feel the weight of your prayer at that moment, then they'd really know how deeply they're loved.

Remember how when you were a kid people said that if your nose itched, someone was thinking about you? I know it seems absurd, but I always wonder who's thinking about me everytime my nose itches. In the same way, when I'm sitting very still, I like to imagine the weight of all the prayers people have prayed for me fall on me. Feels like a giant hug from God.

You should sit still.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Stealing from Ann Kiemel

Before Erin arrived at Michelangelo's Monday morning to meet me for coffee, I thought about how I'd share the 10,000 thoughts circling in my brain. I figured it'd be best for her to spin some sort of wheel-of-fortune and land on one of eight or so major issues. This has been (and continues to be) a week of milestones - some difficult, some hopeful, some surprising, some fabulous. Some, actually, all of the above.

My friend Courtney Walker, age 25, died of cancer Sunday night at 7 pm. She'd been sick for about a year and a half. It still boggles my mind. Shelly had spent the week before her death with Court's family and closest friends in Madison, South Dakota. She'd tell me about picking out the clothes Courtney would wear at the funeral, how they'd been discussing who could serve as pallbearers, Courtney's constant sleeping and confusion on waking, and how she slowly let go.

Her funeral is today at 2 pm.

Tomorrow at 6 pm, I'll be celebrating Brenda's last few days as a single woman when we head to the Sundance Saloon for her bachelorette party. She gets married at noon this Saturday. She is marrying a wonderful man named Scott. I expect they will be extraordinarily happy. I am thrilled to be standing up beside her.

Weddings and deaths and everything in between. In only one week. It makes it hard for me to fathom God's schedule. How many deaths, births, weddings, heartbreaks, moves, new jobs, disasters, joys does He see every week?

Trying to make sense of something my brain is far too slow and small to comprehend leaves me speechless. Fortunately, my memory led me back to something that was said 30 years ago by a young woman named Ann Kiemel. A poet and a writer, she wrote a number of beautiful and honest and all-together relevant words. One in particular, "new year's eve," came to mind. And sharing it may just help me make it through this one week.

new year's eve

it matters what you do with a year.
it counts. the old is the foundation
for the new.

new year's eve, 1974.
i threw a robe over my gown, slipped on sandals.
a warm cap over my ears, and gloves.
my world was black with night. the cold caught my
breath and made it white, and i laughed to
watch it and feel its sting on my face.
everything was still and quiet. i scraped up a
ball of snow and aimed it at the neighbors' window.
i threw three more and waited for them to look
out ... and laugh back ... and belong and BE at
the dawn of '75.

then i tossed snowballs in the night ... in all directions.
and called out,
"God, do you see me?
ann. in this old neighborhood. i'm alive, God.
i'm celebrating. YOU'VE made me live.
You've kept me strong. when i hurt, You did.
when i cried, You cried. when i failed, You knew ... but
You didn't shove me away. other would have.
they would have thought their judgment righteous and
proper. oh Jesus, not You.
You're love.
and love is strong. and faithful. and loyal.
and patient and kind.
Jesus, thank you.
'74 had agony and promise.
i still want to know so much more about Truth.
but i'm growing. i can feel it, God.
make 'something beautiful' out of me.
it's a NEW year. yahoooooo ..."

snowballs and flurries and miles of sky and bending trees.
and God and i and love
wanting to turn the world.
in small ways.
where people live and hurt.
because He loves us.
you. me.

earlier that new year's eve, i popped corn in my new popper from
Christmas ... and took it downstairs to the girls who live below
me. We sipped Pepsis and stretched on the rug to watch t.v.
then they poured me eggnog, and we felt festive and
sophisticated, waiting for a new year.

today the unknown hours stretch and pull before me.
potential and power and poise.
eternity in my neighborhood, where i live ... i believe.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Munch, Type, Munch

I was just thinking ... I love mandarin oranges. In orange jello, in jamaican jerk chicken salads, it doesn't matter. Just, wow.

Ok, back to eating.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

marathoning for a cure

I am so proud to post this news for my friend Katie. She's running the Chicago Marathon this fall and raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you'd like to support research for a cure AND encourage Katie in her marathon goal (I'm still feeling tired after 3 miles - I can't imagine 26.2!!), visit her website below. GO, KATIE!!!

A note from Katie's email:
I am committed to raising $1400 for the Society to support research on blood cancers, improve the quality of life for cancer patients, and help find a cure! Please visit my site today and consider donating to this worthy cause. Your contributions do make a difference to the estimated 617,000 Americans currently living with leukemia, Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkins lymphoma and myeloma.

See Katie here running a half-marathon this past Sunday. Not even ONE bead of sweat!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

August is Blogging Hiatus Month

I swear. It's true. The vast majority of my blogging friends have disappeared. So whilst everyone is on vacation (or - gasp! - raptured? Shoot, must check traffic reports about recently unmanned vehicles), I'll divulge a bit ...

1. As a whole, guys are funnier than girls. *sigh* It's a hard admission to make, but after years of protesting otherwise, I've come to this perceived truth. I'm not saying there aren't funny women out there - my mother, Starra, and Jenn all come to mind - but it's my experience that I actually writhe in pain laughing more when I'm with men than not.

2. Perhaps I should have listed this first ... I've been criticized for believing women to be a superior species. My acknowledgment of the above revelation forces me to concede that perhaps men and women are equal.

3. It should come as no surprise then that I've also been called a feminazi.

4. I don't know what triggered it, but since high school, I've wanted to marry a Jew for Jesus.

5. I've been in love once in my life. The real kind. It didn't work out so I built up a big 'ol wall around my heart. I spent the last year trying to take it down. But I am still not so sure if I am any good at being in love anymore.

6. I once told an old HS boyfriend that I broke up with him because of God (which was partially true), but it was really mostly because I hated his car.

7. I've had seven major crushes in my life. The first one - in 8th grade - was on a guy named Mike who sat next to me during science class. He won me over by singing Pearl Jam songs and touching my arm with his pencil while he "zambonied" the table. Ahhh, if only I were still so easily impressed.

8. Though I often bemoan the state of my Gutus Maximus (honestly, it sounds better than saying "flabby belly"), I secretly think it is one of my best features. Thanks are due to my freshman year roommate, Val, who constantly rubbed her tummy and told me that a round belly was not only beautifully feminine, but also would keep my ovaries warm and ready till I chose to conceive.

9. When I think of heaven, I think of two things: One, being welcomed into a house completely furnished and finding in the wardrobe a beautiful white dress that flatters me and fits me flawlessly. Then Jesus and I run through tall grasses like we were in Prince Edward Island, reliving scenes from Anne of Green Gables. And two, planning an enormously large and extravagant party with the perfect lighting, music and food. Jesus and I lean on the balcony railing, and feel our hearts bursting with joy as we watch all the people laugh, dance, talk, and love each other.

10. Because I don't have my ears pierced, I am often highly-regarded by Mennonite men.

11. When walking down the street with friends, I am often perturbed when we don't "buddy up." At no point on the sidewalk should 4 people be walking in a messy row, more or less shoulder-to-shoulder. This is not okay. Buddy up, people!!

12. Even before I saw Psycho, I had a hard time closing my eyes in the shower. I still pull the curtain back just to make sure ...

13. Speaking of water, I actually had a grave fear of faucets until I was about 11. The reasoning is simple: if Dorothy could kill the Wicked Witch of the West by pouring water on her, who's to say that when you pour water out, she doesn't reappear?? Logic, people. Many thanks to my little sister, Paula, for bravely turning the faucet on and not making fun of me during those years.

14. I want someone to pay me to meet and talk with people at coffee shops and over meals. I would like bonus points for connecting them to other people.

15. I am not a leader; I am a facilitator.

16. I am strong-willed and stubborn. My dad used to say I was a smart-aleck (side note: I googled that word, and found this. I had no idea)

17. According to my memory, things at home were really bad when mom was talking to dad and he said "bologna."

18. My mom is too hard on herself. I often wish she would stop it and just let me love her.

19. One of my favorite things about my parents is when they do the dishes with their arms wrapped around each other. It makes the phrase "gettin' HOT in the kitchen" seem wonderfully romantic.

20. I want to own a Bed and Breakfast north of San Francisco, watch movies on a gigantic screen in the backyard, listen to records, invite everyone to stay for a week, or a month, or a year, and I want to be happy. I also want to be the kind of woman God dreams for me to be; I want this more than anything.

21. I wish someone would prophecy over me. Anytime it happens in public, I always think, "oooh! me next!" but then it hits me that maybe the person can sense that I want it too much or that I feel like it's the christian's version of a crystal ball (and seriously, maybe i'm not supposed to want to know what's gonna happen, but i still have a little desire to want to), and then I get afraid that she'll see some awful, disgusting, horrible thing in me and that's what she'll point out in front of everyone.

22. In the [paraphrased] words of Anne Lamott, "I think too much. I tried to get my mind to take up a hobby like macrame, but it wouldn't listen."

23. I am ending this post because I am going to give myself a facial now (not because I'm going to the gym, like I told everyone).

Sunday, August 07, 2005


i've been on a writing halt. i've been making this list in my head of conversations or thoughts or experiences or musings that are blog-worthy, but when it actually comes time to writing, i feel like it'll end up as a detailed event schedule:

friday, 9:00 am - meet goldberg family and bs my way through conversation on admission policies at seattle's best private schools (seriously, stash that in "details they left out of the job description").

friday, 11 pm - drive to corner pocket for pool with girlfriends. non-milwaukee team loses to milwaukee team with my sad knock of the 8-ball into the pocket. losing by default does not, however, imply that the other team wins. no one wins in a "losing by default" game. why does no one understand that?!?

saturday, 1:00 pm - eat at joy yee's, a chinatown restaurant recently closed for rats and pestilence. ignore the furry scurrying felt on feet under table and enjoy spicy green beans and orange beef.

saturday, 3:30 pm - walk around chicago's millennium park and discover a gazillion more reasons why chicago is one of the coolest cities in the world.

sunday, 11:00 am - breakfast at uncommon ground with two of my favorite people on the planet.

here's the thing. i care so much about these moments. i care that my friends drove all the way to chicago to celebrate each other. i care that our conversations were sometimes slow, sometimes beautiful, sometimes funny, sometimes emotional. i care about this day. i care.

i've been tired of forgetting to care. 3 years of my life have gone by and i don't remember them the way i remember every single year of high school or college. 3 years. 3 years!!! what if someone had come to me my senior year of college and explained that the next three years would be a blur? not just because my memory really is aging. not just because i'm spending more time trying to pump myself up to go the gym because the combination of my slowing metabolism and my spurts of rejecting the treadmill are actually beginning to age me, but because i'm too busy thinking about what's to come. not even future future talk, but even in thinking about the next day or the day after that or the coming weekend. i'm tired of forgetting to care about loving this minute.

ok, ok. i know i'm starting to sound like your high school's motivational retreat speaker. and you can roll your eyes and gag. but this is important to me. i want to be a great lover of life. i want to remember my 25th year. i want to laugh about it. i want to think about it fondly when i'm old. i want to see jesus in every moment. want to savor every little piece. want to spend my life loving Him and doing things that are good. like loving my friends better. and listening to them better. and spending money rightly. i don't want to forget that my life is not my own. i don't want to turn 50 one day and wonder what happened in the last 50 years. i want to know them, because my heart, my mind and my soul were actively engaged in living them.

i am so hopeful, so happy that ALL of that is possible.

Monday, August 01, 2005

birthday in color

a quick birthday recap ... what a good 25th!!

friday night before my bday, my friends abby, allan, and kat threw me a little surprise soiree which was really, really a suprise. honestly, the last time i was ever surprised was when i was living in ohio and we were about to sit down to dinner and the doorbell rang. my mom asked me to get it, and instead of finding a person, i found a little stuffed animal - a lamb that said "for mary." to this day, i have no idea how that happened. and this - yes, this party was quite a surprise, too. i have such incredible friends. lucky me.

for brunch on saturday, kat and allan and i went out for brunch at my favorite spot, uncommon ground. delicious( if you've never been there and you live in the city, shame on you. call me and i'll treat you to a brunch like you've never experienced). i also got to sport my new hat, courtesy of shelly's excellent gift-giving talents. perfectly enough, it's right in my spring color palette. and it's so loud and big that i feel like a celebrity when i walk by crowds of admiring people :)

saturday night, some friends took me out for dinner at emilio's (you can never go wrong with tapas and sangria!). along with some of my very closest friends in chicago, my cousin mike got to join us for dinner. he was in town from ohio with a couple of buddies from d.c. i don't get to see mike very often so it was the best birthday treat to have him join me in celebrating my 25th. i've now decided to spend some time persuading him to move to chicago (which is not at all hard to do - chicago is easily the second best city in america, right after madison, wi). it would be so awesome to have family living in my same city.

i'll give more updates soon. just wanted to post the pictures and revel in the birthday fun while it's still fresh :)