Thursday, September 29, 2005


Isn't today absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous?!?

62 degrees, clear blue sunny skies, and this brisk chill in the air. WOW.

After hitting the snooze for 40 minutes, I woke up deliciously comfortable in my sweats and fleece and felt like I floated to the shower. That is a good morning.

I talked with Shelly on the way to work (she makes me oh so happy), got my bagel and diet coke at Einstein's, hopped on the El, and set my iPod to Modest Mouse, Van Morrison, and U2. I think I nearly skipped to work!

Seriously, it's the kind of day I dream about. And even the fact that I'm sitting in an office without windows doesn't really bother me. I feel like the sun shot right to my heart this morning and is now heating me from the inside out.

Yay, God, for days like this!! Yay for my roommates who I adore, who are patient with me, and who love me when I don't deserve it. Yay for my sisters who share with me and weed through all the reporter-like updates to get to the good stuff. Yay for Jon who writes text messages to me late at night so I am already glowing before I get out of bed. Yay for Dan who is sending me his girlfriend Lindsay to stay at our place in a couple of weeks - and yay for Lindsay who chatted with me so warmly when we spoke last night.

And yay for this song my LaunchCast player has just tuned into ... Warrant's Heaven ...

Heaven isn't too far away
Closer to it everyday
No matter what your friends might say
We'll find our way

Heaven, Oh oh oh oh oh oh ... It's not too far away ...

For real. 80s rock ballads are like the icing on the cake. Good job, God.

And one last thing. Many thanks to Paul and Erin who got me started on this whole blogging nonsense exactly one year ago today. I love it :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Out of Iowa

These past few days, I've been thinking about driving west into the sunset in a silver convertible with someone I love, a cooler in the back seat and an overwhelming contentedness sweeping over me. But if I look closely at that picture, I realize it's not me. In fact, it's the same tall, sturdy, middle-aged, bearded pastor who invoked this image in his sermon on Sunday, driving through Iowa with his arm around his wife of 20-some odd years.

He was asking us to remember a time when we thought things couldn't get any better. So he shared one of his. He and his wife were taking a road trip to California and were leaving in their silver convertible (a 25th anniversary present to themselves) out of Madison in the afternoon on a perfect summer day, perfect for keeping the top down as they drove out of town. The sky opened up, he said, and the stars shone brighter than they even do in Madison (which is awesome! cause compared to Chicago, Madison's city lights allow you to see a gazillion times more stars). What could be better, he continued, than driving into the sunset with your arm around your girl, getting away from everything? Just being here in the moment in ... IOWA?

You know where he's going with this.

It's Iowa. For as amazing as you feel things are in a moment - and thank God for those moments when we feel totally overwhelmingly grateful - it's not the end. It's not the best of the best yet.

Today, I had a good day at work. And I feel (and evidently look, according to my co-workers) "zenfully calm." And I felt like laughing today. I felt light, in that "things couldn't get any better than this" way. Of course, I'm stressed at work right now, and I wish a hundred things were different. But I'm happy for feeling this light in the moment. I'm glad I got to talk and laugh with my boyfriend over IM, and I'm glad I had such an honest conversation with an alum whose life is messier than messy, and I'm glad my friend Mark stopped by to have coffee with me, and I'm glad that my boss backed me up today, and I'm glad that I'm visiting an alum tonight who keeps calling to tell me how excited she is to hang out. All of that makes me happy. I feel like I'm driving out of the city in my convertible, headed west towards the sunset, my favorite people in the car with me and the perfect song on the radio.

And then I realize I'm in Iowa.

I'm grateful for today, but man, oh, man, my heart feels ready to burst just knowing that someday, things will be absolutely perfect. How they were meant to be.

I have high hopes for heaven, friends.

And one last thing - to Jennie on her birthday - I hope that today and the whole rest of the year bring you many close-to-heaven moments. For someone with such a big and generous heart, I doubt joy and wonder will ever be far from you. Happy 28th Birthday to you.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Yearbooking It.

It's 6:45 and I'm still stuck at work. I've spent the last, say, 9 hours scanning yearbook photos for the reunion collages I need to finish on Monday. I wish it didn't take this long, and I'm sure there's a much simpler way to go about getting all this info into the computer. In fact, if I weren't so prone to procrastination, I could have researched a much faster way to get this done. At this point, I'm wondering if the whole theory of osmosis could expand to allow for me to wave the yearbooks over the computer for my hard drive to swallow the necessary information.

Nope. Tried it. Doesn't work.

In all honesty, I love looking through old photographs. It's like walking through a cemetery, only these people are still living and you know what they look like. But a picture of a person affirms that the person lived, the same way a gravestone implies there was a life that came to an end.

I don't mean to make this morbid. I'm just saying, regularly seeing how many, many, many people have been 5, 12, 18, well, it makes the world seem very large and then suddenly very small.

Obviously, some things have changed. I don't think any elementary school children still learn fractions by hanging sandwich boards around their necks and quizzing each other (I can't come up with any reason why this visual aide would come in handy, but of course, I'm neither a teacher nor a mathematician. Maybe I would be if my elementary teachers had made me sport enormously large numbers around my neck, too). Perhaps this was common practice in 1947.

But people still like to rock. And I can definitely relate to that. I wonder what this guy is doing now. I hope he still has that t-shirt. Honestly, it's only 27 years later. He's only 45. If he's still got his hair, I hope he's letting it 'fro. Solid.

For real, I love yearbooks.

But also, I love my free time. And I need to get out of here. I've been staring at this screen so long, I don't think I've blinked for a few minutes now. Man ...

I'm out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

I'd like to post a toast of admiration to the Crash Test Dummies song, "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm." And because it's guaranteed that this song won't leave my head for days now, I'd like for all of you to join in the celebration by letting it refrain in your head over and over and over again ... Enjoy.

Once there was this kid who
Got into an accident and couldn't come to school
But when he finally came back
His hair had turned from black into bright white
He said that it was from when
The car had smashed so hard

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Once there was this girl who
Wouldn't go and change with the girls in the change room
But when they finally made her
They saw birthmarks all over her body
She couldn't quite explain it
They'd always just been there

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

But both girl and boy were glad
'Cause one kid had it worse than that

'Cause then there was this boy whose
Parents made him come directly home right after school
And when they went to their church
They shook and lurched all over the church floor
He couldn't quite explain it
They'd always just gone there

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Monday, September 19, 2005

So you two are moving into a house with a swingset?

After leaving Que Syrah tonight with a spontaneous purchase of a beautiful bottle of Pinot Gris and a guarantee of perfection from the sales assistant, I walked home clutching the neck of the bottle and moaning on the inside, regretting every sip of my Potbelly's oreo milkshake I had sucked down at dinner only a few minutes earlier (damn this lactose intolerance). My distended belly groaned loud enough for passers-by to take notice, so I kept my eyes down and lowered my left hand towards my stomach to pat it as though "my baby" needed to be calmed. I figured I might as well pretend my stomach is SUPPOSED to look this ...

The streetlight cast my large-belly shadow on the side of the house and I took in a long look. I've often pretended I'm pregnancy just for giggles. My own giggles. I don't think anyone else thinks it's funny. But tonight, looking at my silhouette on the street, I thought seriously about how much having a kid would completely change my life.

At dinner tonight, my 29-year-old friend L and I talked about her upcoming move to the suburbs of Milwaukee. She's lived in Chicago for almost 5 years, and has only been married for a little over a year. She and her husband are happy, and the upcoming move will be good for them both. Their new house is many times the size of their city condo, backs up to some sort of arboretum, and even has a swingset in the backyard.

Not surprisingly, both L's and C's parents have asked them about children.

L is beautiful, young, crazy-talented, ambitious, and well-recognized for her business savvy. Though she's moving, she'll keep her job in the city and travel back and forth once a week or so. She's excited about the new house, but leaving the city is no easy task. And when both sets of parents add on the "when do you think you'll use that playset out back" question, L sighs.

I know she wants kids. And there's really no "but" to add in here. I just think, wow. My friend L can meet me on 30 minutes to notice at any nearby restaurant of choice. Because the city is sweet that way. And my friend L doesn't have to find a sitter because she doesn't have any kids. My friend L has nearly every freedom at her whim. Having children is a BIG deal.

I hope she has children when SHE wants children. I hope that for every woman. What a big big deal to put your body through something like that and then accept responsibility for a whole full life. Seriously, I'll raise my glass of Pinot Gris right now to every pregnant woman and mother. You amaze me.

And seriously, I think if you're single and you know someone with kids, you should call them and offer to watch their kids for free this weekend. That would be awesome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


After purchasing Toad the Wet Sprocket's "All I Want" this morning on iTunes, my friends over at Apple suggested I take a look at a few iMixes that would interest me based on my recent inquiry. Among the slew of "90s essentials" soundtracks, I clicked and stumbled my way to what I think Apple intended for me to discover all along.

They want me to be a soccer mom.

Here's the thing. I may still own the oversized button-down jean shirt, but that does not make me a soccer mom! For crying out loud, I'm only 25 years old. I'm not married. I have no children. And I've actually never played soccer outside the confines of 10th grade gym class. So why, Apple, why showcase the "Soccer Mom Chillout" mix as though I've been waiting on this for years?

I turned my head from the screen, disgusted with Apple for converting my taste in David Gray & Ray Charles into a collection of songs whose cover is illustrated by a snapshot of shopping carts emblazoned with Varsity-esque letters spelling out "Soccer Mom." I sighed. Could I turn back to the screen and confront a future of tangerine-sharing, umbro-buying, cleat-cleaning work? (Is this even what soccer moms do?)

I swiveled my chair back towards the computer and breathed deeply. "Soccer Mom Chillout / Various Artists," it read. "The Basics: You've got the minivan and the checkered vinyl sticker, but do you have the tunes to match your soccer mom image? A solid start is offered here, including the neo-jazz of Norah Jones, the rap-inflected R&B of Lauryn Hill, and firework finale presentations of Coldplay, David Gray, and the Dixie Chicks." I perused the anthology of songs slowly (these are the songs of my inevitable life after all; it couldn't hurt to reflect upon them), my eyes widening as it dawned on me - or rather, as it hit me like a lead brick falling from the sky - : I already AM a soccer mom. In one form or another, I own all of these songs. From Sarah McLachlan's "Ice Cream" to Moby's "Porcelain" to Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" and back around to U2's "Stuck In A Moment," I own all of them. And what's more, I love them.

And that was only disc one. The complete set is $74.25 worth of 75 crazy good tunes, easily half of which I've had in my own collection for years. As I watched the dust settle, the destruction of my soccer mom stereotype laying in waste around me (the whole of it being "whoever she is, she's NOT me"), I heard a trumpeted fanfare.

Read aloud (in my head, of course; private office or no, I'm not crazy), the description of "Soccer Mom Chillout: The Complete Set" spoke to me like a welcome from an angel, floating above the goal line: "Sometimes you need to turn your life off for an hour ... or three ... replacing the screaming kids and cross-town traffic with lightly sweetened catharsis." I nodded vigorously. "Our suggestions should do the trick by maintaining a tranquil mood with dozens of digestible takes on country, pop, R&B, bedroom electronica, rock and vocal jazz. Just don't forget to breathe as the gentle strum of guitar strings, persistent throb of bath-salt beats, and friend-next-door vocals lull you to the edge of sleep."

Now, to be honest, I hate being boxed-in, categorized, stereotyped, and I will fight you if you ever tell me that I am just a soccer mom. But here, even without any kids to speak of, I knew:

I had arrived.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I am an idolator

Confession: I am an idolator.

Dave started out yesterday morning's sermon on "The Big Ten" by looking at the second commandment. While he acknowledged to the congregation that idolatry has many more facets than wooden-idol worship, I sat back in my chair, a little warm, wondering if everyone else could see this fluorescent bulb dangling above me, feel the cold walls of an interrogation cell pressing in on my head. Certainly, there wasn't much I felt I need coaxing to fess up to. I knew it already. And when Dave asked us to fill in the blank according to our own lives: "You cannot serve both God and ____", it didn't take me long to scribble in "SELF."

I have so easily wanted to step in as my own God many, many times. My friend Jon mentioned to me once that maybe the things I was best at were also the things I struggled most with. He's right. I'll take something good - i.e. I adapt well to many situations - and all of the sudden decide that I'll be single for the rest of my life because I'll never find someone who can adapt so well as me, and my work cannot be hindered. Or better yet, I find that I want control of all situations and when it suddenly spins out from underneath me, I beg God to step in quick, and if it doesn't work out, I point out to him later that if He had just followed my directions, everything would have been marvelous.

It's gross. And honestly, probably too gross to blog about.
Too bad.

So last night, I spent some time with Him. I feel when I really get alone with him, and get to settle down my thoughts, and fears, and worries, I actually find a relationship there. And I'm quickly quite honest with myself.

The truth is I am afraid of me, afraid of what I'm capable of (good or bad), afraid of hurting someone, afraid of seeking my own glory, or making myself my own god, of disappointing my friends, of not being able to bring peace to all my relationships, and, quite frankly, of not knowing how to love God, but - particularly when I'm alone with Him - seeing how much I DO love Him and not being able to fully live like it.

Here's the thing He shared last night: "Listen, I am not afraid."

Maybe that's all I need. Just You not to be afraid. Me to follow, You to lead. Me to watch, You to guide. Me to trust, You not to be afraid.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Greg's Tattoo

Annie sat across the table from me in a pumpkin orange shirt, smiling widely as she paused to giggle in the middle of her story, and leaning back a bit, allowing for the table's pillar candle flame to reflect in her glasses and hide her eyes from me a bit. Her brown hair fell around her face in a more sophisticated bob - an updated do since the last time I had seen her - but Annie could not neglect her inner child; she wore a glittery pink clip just at the top of her hairline.

This picture is the still I want to keep of the night. Annie in fall colors, beckoning autumn, leaning against the sandy brick wall of one of my favorite restaurants in the city, as my favorite tattooed waiter, Greg, shuffles contentedly to and from customers and smiles warmly anytime he catches my eye. I want to still hear Annie's thoughts echo off that wall in my memory, listen in again to our dialogue of desire, of carpe diem, of community. I want to see her slowly working away at her grilled chicken sandwich and remember those things we hoped for.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but Greg's tattoo - "please kid remember" - has somehow spoken that memo into a sort of prayer in the walls of Uncommon Ground.

In that room in particular, with its brick wall interior, its uncomfortably high window seats, and its Little-House-On-The-Prairie-fireplace, God's given me snapshots of life. I think He speaks with me there.

Annie quoted a line from one of her favorite movies tonight, a line Jeremy Piven considers aloud with John Cusack in "Serendipity": "You know the Greeks didn't write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: 'Did he have passion?'"

She stared at me, lost in her own thoughts a bit. Annie and I are both over-thinkers. We both claim to want our brains to take up other hobbies so we can fall asleep as easily at night as the rest of the universe, but secretly, we feel we have been permitted to enter an otherwise "off-limits" zone. This is wildly thrilling to us.

Finally, she speaks. "That's what I want! I want passion ... And, what's more, I want to stop thinking about it and live it."

To be honest, passion is not an easy thing to talk about (though Annie and I happily broached it, examining its facets for hours tonight). Passion is dangerous, it is delicious; it is rage, it is rapture. It is unsettling and unsafe; it is devoted and desirous. And just mentioning the word makes my soul feel alive.

I hope to keep that picture of my friend Annie, sitting across the table from me laughing, and hold myself accountable to living with passion.

'Cause maybe God speaks through Greg's tattoo. And maybe "please kid remember" is His prayer for me, answered through all those nuggets of memorable conversation.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In The Morning

After 7 glorious hours of sleep, I woke up much refreshed at 6:04 a.m., so pleased with my heavy sleep that I barely noticed the thick ricola taste coating my mouth and the bit of cough drop I had popped last night to stop choking on the pollen in the air.

When I get up during the week, I think of nothing until after my shower. And then I have only one thing on my mind. Do I throw in a cd or brave the radio? And if I brave the radio, will it be XRT, The Drive or The Loop? If I have to change the channel once I select a radio station, I know I'll be flipping all morning, but if I tune in to something good, my morning moves a lot more smoothly.

Thankfully, The Drive was playing Otis Redding this morning. And then "Dust in the Wind" and The Stones' "Heartbreaker."

I need a smooth morning. Because there is chaos at work. Okay, chaos is an exaggeration. But there's a lot to get done, and there's a lot that requires my patience. I am nervous, but I am praying that things work out supernaturally. It is exhausting to have so much of me wrapped up in my work. It becomes so personal.

The good news is that I'm prepared for all my meetings this morning, I've got lunch with my good friend Allison at noon, and then I'm having a small group reunion with some of my favorite girls in the city tonight. PLUS I'm wearing my new necklace, so I feel powerful (it's a pretty heavy beaded thing, so I feel rather "adorned," if you will).

I need to get my priorities in line today, in the big picture sense of the word. So I'm off to walk to work and contemplate a bit. Do some meditative walking yoga or the like on the way to the el. Practice calm in chaos.

Just, well, let God.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Some things I love.

Concerts. Tori Amos at Millennium Park, Over the Rhine at Old Town School of Folk Music, Coldplay at Alpine Valley, Ben Folds at Ravinia, it doesn't matter. I love live music: watching, listening, feeling alongside incredibly gifted musicians who love what they do.

Dreams. Last night, I dreamt that my coworker Miguel (who is actually a great dancer in real life) and I were in some "So you think you can dance" competition doing the tango. In my dream, I had a secret move that I was going to wow everyone with, but a former colleague, Stephanie (who had evidently grown 12" for my dream - "it makes sense," my colleague Anne said, "since she moved to Texas and you've always joked with her that everything is bigger there") told me that everyone knew I had a secret move coming so they were preparing for it. I realized I had to really wow them. so Miguel and I were practicing the tango and at some point, he didn't give me my dancer's space, so I said, "you're too close," which, as it turns out, I actually woke myself up saying, noting when I came to, that I was pushing myself away from Missy, a friend who was crashing at our place for the night, since we had fallen towards each other at the middle of the bed at some point during the night. ahhh, I love dreams. I love how colorful they can be. Which reminds me ...

Autumn. My friend Mark told me that he dreams more in the fall and winter when he pulls the covers tighter around him to stay warm. It's been chilly the past few days, so I'm affirming his belief, and am glad that autumn has brought colorful dreams (and run-on sentences. but c'mon, aren't dreams usually like weird, run-on sentences?).

Hosting. When I was about 11 or 12, I got this Mary Engelbreit desk calendar. As I remember it, Mary wrote little hints of "housekeeping" on each page and the one that I fell in love with, and I think started me on my love for hosting, mentioned putting out a pitcher of water with lemons and a few glasses on a tray in the guests room. She wrote, "Everyday, I bring fresh water and a new vase of flowers on a tray for my guests." And that just seemed so utterly delightful. It's so easy to host people. So the house is messy, so the towels don't match. There's just something wonderful in trying to make people feel loved at my house.

Remembering. I'd say probably 2-3 times a week, I read a page in an old journal. It amazes me that my relatively uncomplicated life is so complicated. And then to think of all the stories of the billions of people who live, have lived, have yet to live? Wow. Remembering makes my life seem both beautiful and minute.

Dove dark chocolates. I admit, Esther Price's dark chocolate turtles are the true gold here, but Dove dark chocolates at work make me laugh. I can't explain why.

People who cook. For a year in college, I considered myself a pretty decent cook, but I've since lost it. So now, when people invite me to dinner or cook at my own house, I feel so excited. Seriously, there are some incredible cooks out there. I have so much awe for their talents.

Jesus. Plainly put, I wouldn't want life without him. It would be nowhere near as memorable.

Winter. I admit, summer and fall are my favorite months, but I miss writing. I miss challenging myself to write good stuff. And I write better in the winter. It's when I get a chance to think deep, hibernating, roast-your-ideas-over-a-fire thoughts. Mmm, getting chilly just thinking of it ...