Thursday, December 22, 2005

things will all come around

my heart is full. giddy, off-the-wall, over-the-top full.

i just had lunch with some of my core college-age volunteers. my favorites, if you will. i don't care if you're not supposed to have favorites. i do. and as they walked in the door of the california pizza kitchen, i could feel my whole heart leap to see them.

the 13 of us chatted over pizza for 2 hours, talking about katrina, clinton, possible majors, break-ups, and how your roommates should be the ones to hook you up.

i liked their volunteerism and idealism; they liked my pigtail braids and "youthfulness."

i promise you, no matter where i am in 10, 20, or 30 years, i will stand behind these kids. i feel like they're mine. and when i took their photo outside the restaurant at the end of the lunch, well, for as cheesy as it sounds, i found my heart in the viewfinder. 12 kids whose hearts and lives were so wonderfully made.

where else do you meet a 21-year-old boy who is okay with sucking up his pride and announcing with a wide grin all over his reddened face, "katy? dumped me. day after our 1-year anniversary. i thought she was asking me to come outside to show me she'd gotten me a surprise. well, i guess it was a surprise. i went from this (stretches his hand as tall as himself) to this (hand at ground) in 5 minutes." he laughs. "she wants to get back together now, but the k-train has left the station." i very much love him.

and i love the way the kids receive him: "you're so candid, it's incredible," "you won't be single for long," "you're such an awesome guy."

i think heartbreak is healthy. and i'm sure it sounds a little evil, but i do hope for everyone i know that their hearts break at some point. i don't know how you can ever truly relate and understand someone else until your heart has ached. to have your broken heart be loved on by someone else who's ever experienced a broken heart (be it by boyfriend/girlfriend, menacing friend, angry parent, whatever)? really, the healing that comes from that kind of empathetic understanding is unlike anything; it's ... miraculous.

when we departed ways, i hailed a cab and sat in the back looking through the photos of these eager, hopeful, youthful kids and smiled.

someday, god, i want 10 children. i don't care if they're all biologically mine, or if i've adopted them, or if they're just kids in the community who want a home to belong in, lord, i just know my heart is most fully alive in moments like this.

and to top it off? my old friend brian who i've long admired and respected sent me an email which noted he'd begun a blog. so, yes, of course, yay blogs! but also, i love being in touch with brian. he was a good friend to me when it mattered and there are too few of his kind in the world. so i absolutely recommend you drop by to read a few of his thoughts.

lord, thank you for friends. thank you for community. thank you for making us with hearts so big they could burst. you bless me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

italics stolen from karin bergquist

dear jesus,

there is talk lately among my friends about there being no hell. i suppose i don't know what to think about that. i would hope you would draw all people to yourself. i would hope i share you because i know that life is better with you.

I follow you from town to town
I need it
I'm better off when you're around
I mean it

You are the longing of my life. Did you show me that this afternoon? Was it You who allowed that to resonate in my soul?

Sooner or later
Things will all come around again
Sooner or later
I won't need anything
Anything at all

At Kopi here tonight, i dream of the bohemian life, dream of being in madison, but a madison of far greater age and racial and economic diversity even. i dream of prayer groups, and coffee talks, of not being afraid, and of falling in love.

I walk these streets alone at night
When it hurts me
A perfect life's an oversight
You curse me

Perhaps this is heaven to me. Lord, what do you know of heaven?

Should've known better
Than this esoteric love
Down to the letter
It don't mean anything
Anything at all

Father, if you see my heart, you know I have questions. You know I would earnestly like your input and direction. I know You think I'm capable of making my own decisions (though I sigh and chuckle a little at this), so I'll do my best since You have equipped me so well.

You and I

Oh Jesus. I have so many thoughts in this head of mine. I am trying to discern You in the midst.

I wrestle with these guilty thoughts
And I'm losing
You're all I am I'm what you're not

Oh who knows what's possible? While my dear, intelligent, thoughtful friends wonder about the realities of hell, I wonder if the abundant life looks anything like I thought it did. That's the thing I just can't reconcile in my faith. Here we are in the great big US of A with every possible thing at our fingertips, our every need so easily satisfied, with the promise of the pursuit of happiness our inalienable right. What about the 13000 individuals who are infected with HIV daily? Or the estimated 12-27 million in forced labor or slavery in the world today? What does the abundant life look like to them?

Sooner or later
Things will all come around for good
Sooner or later I won't need anything
Anything at all

But God, right now, all I know is I begged You for an undivided heart. And I believe that in Your extreme goodness and perfect love, You asked for my heart and I willingly gave it. You are undeniably good.

All I can do is follow You from town to town. I need it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

jennie asked ...

if i would be posting a picture of those moments i get dressed up and feel "indie" at home.


but i did find this picture of my roommate erin on her birthday this past august and thought, well heck. this is how i FEEL when i get dressed up at home. close enough, right?

(seriously, e. rock on.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

indie when i want to be

so i'm listening to wilco at work today while signing gazillions of holiday cards for our constituents, and am reminded of a conversation i had this past sunday about green bay's music scene.

betsy's mom, betsy, jim, and i were standing around after church when wilco came up in conversation. very casually, mrs. finesilver just throws out jeff tweedy's name as though he were her own son, commenting that her students aren't really familiar with the band and then simultaneously both proudly sharing and lamenting the fact that her son was one of the few to embrace music not sent via the airwaves of green bay's 101 WIXX fm.

i try to be indie, which i realize is in and of itself not indie, but i try anyway. my friends paul and dave are good enough to send me mix cds every now and then, and through them, i discovered o.a.r. and the postal service and the red house painters and denison witmer and paul westerberg. what's even better is that they don't disown me when i tell them how much tim mcgraw's "real good man" thrills me or how jesse mccartney's "beautiful soul" brings out my giddy childlike side. thanks, boys.

i tried to be indie again the other night after purchasing a pair of mid-calf high black boots (suede sugar daddy in black). i came home, pleased that my roommates hadn't yet made it back from work, snuck into my room, tucked my jeans into the boots, and threw on some graphic tee and took my stance in front of the mirror.

certainly, i don't love clothes the way my sister does, but i do love dress up. one summer, a few years ago, i was shopping with my friend dan and his then-girlfriend jenny for who-knows-what, but, regardless, we were fortunate enough to find ourselves in the dress section of marshall fields. jenny and i decided we needed a moment in the dressing room with a rather large armload of fine designs ...

i left with a $13 thin, gold thread-weaved dress that, honestly, i maybe could have worn comfortably when i was 15. but it was $13 and it was gold and it made me feel, well, sexy. and you tell me what 20-year-old girl doesn't like feeling sexy.

i swear, i've gotten more wear out of that one dress than any other in my closet. i'll never wear it in public, of course. but there are days you just want to come home and put on makeup and jewelry and a fancy dress and high heels and talk to yourself in the mirror like you were talking to the queen of england at a charity benefit.

half the outfits that i try on in the privacy of my own bedroom are things i'd never wear out. i know i'm gap girl to everyone else, with every stitch of clothing from target or old navy or, yes, the gap. but in my room, at my most creative, with just me looking in the mirror, i am so totally indie.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

the dream team ten

jess stopped in my office this morning, dressed in a mulit-colored knit skirt (reminiscent of anyone's grandmother's afghans), laced-up tan work boots, black tights, a lilac pullover fleece and a bright pink down vest. jess is one of my favorite students. i've known her for 3 years now and have had the pleasure of traveling with her to china, michigan, virginia, and - come spring - russia. she has so many dreams. i wish all of them would come true. hosting her own spanish talk-show or writing a telenovela or marrying a very wealthy indian man or becoming an eastern european techno dancer or a civil rights lawyer or a general do-gooder. if i could do it over, i think i would have liked to be more like jess in high school. her confidence and risk-taking amaze me.

if i were a boy, i think i'd either be the guy from blink 182 with the super whiny voice (remember in the song, "i miss you" when he sings, "where are you? and i'm so sorry. i cannot sleep, i cannot dream tonight"? yeah, it's the most fun to sing along with him) because i have a strong feeling that he pretty much rocks out all the time.

or i'd be jeff buckley singing "satisfied mind." either way, i'd be totally punk rock. i'd let my hair grow out however it wanted. but also, i'd wear pastels. especially because punk boys don't often wear pastels but i wouldn't want to get put in any boxes, so i'd wear pastels. because i can. because no one can tell you pale green and soft sunshine yellow aren't punk.

i'd also grow a really full beard when i got older.

i think punk rockers and hippies speak to my heart in really meaningful ways. if i were the guy from blink 182, or jeff buckley, or my friend jess, i would hang out with people like nelson mandela and india.arie and ani difranco and margaret thatcher and cesar chavez and kevin garnett and bill gates and dave barry and jiang zemin.

i would meet them at my bed & breakfast just north of san francisco or at a vineyard in oregon or somewhere in the redwoods where it would take a scavenger hunt for all of us to find each and meet in the same place.

yes, i would have lots of scavenger hunts. and i would pair everyone up, too. i would go with jiang zemin since i've long wanted to talk with him. and cesar chavez and nelson mandela would go together. and dave barry and ani difranco would go to gether. and india.arie and bill gates would travel ensemble. and finally, margaret thatcher and kevin garnett.

the 10 of us could gather in different locations around the globe, though i would always get to check them out first in order to ensure proper lighting and security.

we would talk about the most important of things, and the silliest of all things. we would do something similar to what laura, erin, jen and i are doing now (sure, sure, copied it from jon, i know) and each person would get to pick a book, a movie, and a cd to share with the group and everytime we met, we would discuss them.

then, we'd talk about our families and our friends and what's going on in our lives. we would be good listeners. because it would be required.

and then we'd discuss issues like labor laws, poverty, healthcare, disarmament, you know, the basics. we'd also discuss religion and economics and love and marriage and what exactly "happiness" means to each of us.

we'd eat 3 meals (it'd be a full day affair) and then we'd end by sharing things we'd learned about each other. and finally, we'd each be given the first clue as to where the next meeting would be held.

talk about a dream team.

to be honest, i wish i could just pick 9 friends and do this once a month with them. something totally crazy that would trump all other plans. something meaningful and community-oriented. something committed.

actually ....

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

oh my!

a good morning. i tried on three pair of work-appropriate pants this morning and finally settled on jeans. god bless jeans.

a good meeting. actually productive. and seeing grown people in small student desks makes everyone feel just a little humbled and eager to please without all the ego involved.

a good song - oh, good songs. coolio's fantastic voyage, squeeze's tempted, led zepplin's fool in the rain.

oh, lord. and good massage. the big boss splurged and brought in a masseuse today for the holidays. i've never had a professional massage, and i can see now why people get addicted to these things. it was only 15 minutes, but oh. my. goodness. i felt drunk, stumbling out of the dimly-lit conference-room-turned-spa-lounge. yes. yes, that was good.

and here, in a matter of minutes, i received two emails from two very good friends. one which remarked on the speed of a friend's wedding to drop in march (indeed, i had just heard that they had met a few months ago, and had no clue he had already popped the question) and one from a friend who's newly single and wondering if he'll ever meet someone he'd really want to spend the rest of his life with.

i'll tell you, in my mega-relaxed state of being with the lighting low in my office, my back freshly rubbed, and massive attack's protection on my radio, i feel like, honestly. let's just start moving slower. i just really want to grow dreads, go to a massive attack concert, make a fire, and invite all my friends to some common meeting home, and lounge. just for an afternoon.

fine if tomorrow brings busyness and hard work, meetings and planning, but just. for. one. day. a sabbath, a real sabbath. yes. yes. yes.


post-post: wait, let's talk about how today got even better. the annual show-your-appreciation cookie-palooza. i have a baker's box filled with all sorts of holiday treats that i'll take home and share with my chicago family, a box that should last us all the way up to christmas. ahhh. it's been a good day.

letters, massages, and gifts, oh my!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

to love at all is to be vulnerable

my dad says pretty often that he can't believe how fast time flies. he says it with the same voice, the kind of tone that suggests he is pulling up images from years ago, photo memories of his girls standing in the living room lined up by height in matching dresses.

at 25, i am just now beginning to see how right he is. this is a precious, precious thing, this life.

i have a packing envelope in which i keep a stack of photos that don't fit in any albums, photos that make me laugh, and make me wish my dad could have seen me at that moment. i've got a picture taken in the winter of my freshman year of college at a christmas party; it's of me casually interacting with my then-boyfriend who i refused to call my boyfriend until we had broken up. my friend becky told me she'd try to snap a photo of the two of us since i didn't want him to think we were actually together.

i've got a photo of me and my friend erin sitting on a couch laughing. the colors in the photo are all wrong, with us leaning against a couch draped in 1970s yellow, green and gold flowers. but she looks beautiful. my sister, i think, had snapped the photo while we were at the catacombs "studying." but above all, you can see that we are both happy. content.

i've got a photo and me and my friend justin sharing the pant leg of a pair of my pajama pants that stretch to ridiculously abnormal widths. justin was in a season of fro-ing out his hair and so the combination of hair and shared pant leg makes this a memorable one.

i've got a picture of me and shelly by her mom's station wagon after she dropped me off following our trip to madison our senior year of high school. i'm wearing what i thought was the perfect collegiate outfit. i was big into hemp necklaces then, and was wearing what would be the first of many wool mittens from one of many library mall vendors.

all of these pictures make me laugh. and it makes perfect sense that the conclusion i'd come to about all this would coincide with the ben folds song playing on my iPod. i am, indeed, the luckiest. what a thing to have the best friends in the world.

I don’t get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here
And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know
That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest
What if I’d been born fifty years before you
In a house on a street where you lived?
Maybe I’d be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?
And in a white sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize
And I know
That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest
I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you
Next door there’s an old man who lived to his nineties
And one day passed away in his sleep
And his wife; she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away
I’m sorry, I know that’s a strange way to tell you that I know we belong
That I know
That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest

Friday, December 09, 2005

the truth

i've been working from home today, aware that if i actually went in, i'd get half of what i could get done had i just stayed put in my pajamas this morning.

i work well in the mornings; afternoons, nope.

around 4:00, i pulled out c.s. lewis' the weight of glory. i'm only into the second page of that essay, because my mind is still back in walter hooper's introduction.

i know it's obvious that i haven't been myself lately. i've spent the past two weeks in deep thought, crying too much, and yet trying to assert to everyone that i really don't care about anything anymore.

yesterday, i thought i'd try to kick myself out of it. kind of just ignore it for awhile. i've written myself emails and notes and begun so many blogs i finish, but quickly erase. perhaps it's too much of the slow stuff from sufjan stevens or hem or over the rhine. but do i play them purposefully to indulge my mood? or are they bringing me down?

i think i may have an easier time existing in a place of unhappiness. walter hooper writes in his introduction to lewis' essays, "having done the best we can to perform whatever god demands, should we not at least enjoy the good he sends us? willing ourselves to be 'perpetually solemn' when there is no reason for it seems to me not only a rejection of the happiness we could have on earth, but also to jeopardize our capacity to enjoy it in the future when every possible reason for unhappiness has been finally swept away."

god, make my heart light. help me to feel how you feel. to feel angry when you are angry, but to love when you love; to feel gracious when you are gracious, and to be peaceful when you are peaceful.

god, i confess that i don't know what's true to feel. i need you to step in and help me feel rightly. i trust you know me better than i know myself. can you figure me out and help me get out of the mess i've made in my heart? help me love you more than i love myself.

help me believe.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

mary needs

found this guy jeremy's great blog yesterday (for real, you'll laugh your head off at his pictorial mullet essay) and found another fun blog by marko. marko had a fun little exercise that, yes, being the nerd i am, i couldn't resist. you guys should do it, too.

marko wrote: " saw this funny, self-centered, googly idea over at claudia's blog. go to google and write your name and the word ‘needs’, in quotes — as in “marko needs”. notice the first 10 sensical sentences that come up." here's what i got when i tried "mary needs" ...

1. mary needs to find out what the students think
2. mary needs coverage since she is also active in the daily operation of the company
3. mary needs prayers
4. mary needs prayers bad
5. mary needs to be freed from an idealized vision of christian perfection
6. mary needs to climb a 3000m mountain
7. mary needs to let go of the old and prepare for the new
8. mary needs you right now
9. mary needs new sharp knives to dice her vegetables
10. mary needs to complete her written assignments as independently as possible

the pole on the bus

i was waiting for the bus after work tonight, watching the snow add inch upon inch of white fluff to the city streets, listening to the woman next to me mutter about the damn chicago winter starting so early this year, and thinking to myself how delighted i am that i don't have to drive home in this.

i love the bus.

seriously, it's smelly in the summer, and it's always crowded, and i never actually want to take it anywhere, but as soon as i deposit my fare by the driver, i feel surprisingly satisfied.

tonight was made even better by the company of a young polish gentleman, dressed to the nines in his long camel-colored wool coat and top quality boots but with a childish ski hat pulled unevenly over his ears. he approached me at the bus stop to verify directions he had been given and kept up a conversation with me until an acquaintance (let's call him lars) interrupted. lars looked the man up and down as though he were unwanted, and offered up what i suspect he intended might commence a discussion for the two of us. the polish gentleman, with his unbelievably long eyebrows and deep, wide grin, edged away, allowing lars to discuss whatsoever he pleased. i addressed lars with a smile that i think fully expressed my wish for his quick departure, though lars regrettably could not assess its meaning. i suppose the pole noticed it, because he returned to my side to ask more questions (how else can you continue to engage a stranger?) and effectively eliminate lars' participation in the exchange.

the group at the bus stop vocalized their hurrahs as the bus's lights appeared towards the end of the street. we climbed onto the bus, the pole following me, after begging a quarter off of me to meet the standard $1.75 fare. the pole was certainly loud enough on the bus (as i find most visiting strangers), asking me a series of questions: where do i work? what do i do? why is chicago america's nicest city? and why won't his employer move their headquarters from new york to chicago so he might have the pleasure of such company?

i certainly don't think i was flirting, but everyone on the bus seemed to enjoy the pole's inability to be distracted from our conversation. at one point, i caught the eye of a middle-aged man who sort-of chuckled to himself and then smiled widely at me. i nearly laughed to myself as well.

oh! if you had seen this pole. a tall, handsome, 6 1/2 language-speaking man, but oh! his eyebrows. i was fascinated. they were so long they nearly curled at the ends, so thick they could have had their own operating system, and so perfectly ash-blonde, you would have thought he dyed them for a l'oreal commercial.

when i informed him he was about 5 minutes from his destination, he laughed and asked me if i meant the conversation was over. i smiled and laughed, too, only because when he asked the question, his eyebrows looked they had crawled up his forehead to examine new terrain. we said our goodbyes, and all within hearing distance expressed a look of disappointment, as though i was failing them all by not accompanying him off the bus to join him for a cocktail at binny's (his final destination).

my stop was still another 10 minutes off. but i enjoyed my brief encounter with this man, with his eyebrows and camel-colored coat and wide-grin (which reminded me fondly of my friend ej - as the pole said, "all poles look alike. you see that boy there facing us across the bus?" "yes." "he's polish. look at him. see his nose? his chin?" he did look like my bus friend. then the boy, suddenly aware that we were staring at him, turned from us. and there, on the boy's backpack, we saw a sewn-on patch of the polish flag. "there," said the pole. "what did i tell you?")

so i didn't mind opening the doors of the bus and finding 5" of snow waiting to cover my backless slides in cold, wet precipitation. in fact, i jumped in. if you're gonna get wet and snowy just a little, you might as well go all the way.

i was laughing to myself so delightedly that i ran nearly the whole way home on a fresh layer of beautiful snow. my feet were colder than they've ever been, but the music in my iPod kept my spirits high. oh, i wish you were here! it's too gorgeous, too beautiful not to love.

snow at night, and christmas lights, and polish men from new york, and caterpillar-like eyebrows, and diversity on the bus, and my roommate waiting for me to come home - man, oh, man! does god love me.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

pressure (OR) struggle & the city (OR) why my heart looks like my bedroom

pressure vs. presher
so i've been under a little (self-inflicted?) pressure lately. perhaps pressure is the wrong word. nope, i checked merriam-webster. pressure is the right word.

pressure (n):
1 a : the burden of physical or mental distress b : the constraint of circumstance : the weight of social or economic imposition
2 : the stress or urgency of matters demanding attention : EXIGENCY
3 : a sensation aroused by moderate compression of a body part or surface

yes. i've been under a little pressure.

hmmm, who i was having this conversation with recently? creating an entire city to spell and read and write phoenetically? let's be honest, shouldn't pressure really be spelled "presher"? that looks more real to me. it feels like pressure should feel. yes, presher. it looks like some new meat pulverizing tool for the kitchen that should be featured as the free gift with purchase on chef tony's miracle blade III perfection series of knives saturday afternoon infomercial on channel 9.

when you first feel under presher, i think the best thing to do is cry. get it out. this is because this is the only thing i know how to do when i'm under presher. unless i let out my tears, i won't be able to see straight.

stage 2 of presher lets me get loud. i know i've hit it when i can bear sullen & depressing music no more and unconsciously tune into the strokes or david bowie & queen or just play ben harper or jeff buckley really loudly. which is actually what i'm doing right now. my roommates got me the jeff buckley live in chicago at the metro dvd for my birthday, and how i do love to watch it.

here's this real skinny, falsetto-reaching, average-looking white boy who can seriously rock. c'mon, really, is there anything in the world like watching a man in love with his music? a man who grins at his bandmates before they break into "last goodbye"? oh, yes, rock on.

i wonder what kind of music he'd be putting out now if he were still alive.

anyway, so that's where i'm at. rockin' out tonight. playing my jeff buckley loud enough for the neighbors who play their green day loud enough for me. it's fair.

stage 2 presher is way cathartic.

aiight. i'll get to points 2 and 3 later. jeff's about to play the second best song of all time. i'm out.

Monday, December 05, 2005

true love waits

7:11 p.m. and i'm at home by myself for the first time in a long while. my beautiful wine colored chenile throw is wrapped around my shoulders, sheltering me in warmth, while my face bows toward the candle flames at my desk. it's the closest i'll get to a fireplace in this house.

i tried to eat something substantial this evening, but honestly, unless i have someone to cook for, i never really make meals. tonight, i ate some vienna bread and goldfish crackers, the remains of which i'm still finding stuck back near what i think are the beginnings of my wisdom teeth. it reminds me of lunch in 8th grade and how hours after i'd begged some goldfish off morgan, i'd realize there was still a little bit left, crammed underneath the wires of my braces.

i hated 8th grade. this was especially difficult because i had loved 7th grade. that was the year i dated tony kohman and kissed him in the park while his friend lenny smoked behind us. that was the year i knew everyone and went to every party. that was the year we listened to whitney houston belt out "and i (e i e i e i) will always love you" on the radio in art class and got dropped off at the pizza hut to meet our friends and watch a movie at the discount theatre next door every friday night.

8th grade seemed to strike suddenly. i had already started showing signs of puberty, but i wasn't prepared for the sudden self-consciousness, or the zits, or the "Year of the Most Devastating Hair Cut Ever." i loved many boys. i owned many banana republic map t-shirts. and i developed an obsession with astrology or anything i thought could predict my chances of happiness, or success, or love. i listened to the cranberries and paperboy (anyone remember ditty?)

anyway, 12 years later i'm here. at the computer on a monday night, listening to christopher o'riley pianoing radiohead on his true love waits album.

i've written a few emails to myself this evening in the vein of ann kiemel, although i think they read more like the psalms of david - up and down and all over the place. i read them out loud and hoped god would hear them like a prayer, in case he can't read, i guess.

this is how i imagine my life unfolding. somewhere. anywhere. typing out words that only i'll ever read. i'd like to imagine myself with a typewriter, but it's too loud. and either a) it'd wake up my kids if i ever had any or b) would cover up the noise of the burgulars breaking in to my humble abode in the mountains of (... i don't know, any place that has mountains) where they'd steal my entire collection of white t-shirts and authentic village jewelry the locals had given me when i'd first entered through the rusting gates of the little city.

yes, a computer is quieter. especially with these silencer keyboards they've been putting out recently.

i digress. though from what i don't know. regardless. new topic.

in all my thinking recently, i wondered what my younger self would have thought of me now. would she be disappointed? would she even understand what's going on in my head?

ah, mary of little faith. my younger me is still me. in april of '98, i wrote in my journal

"i wish i were back in NY. freedom. i was responsible for me and although i wasn't financially independent, i felt in control of my own affairs. i don't want to go back to school. i want it to be summer. i want to be free. i'm tired of this place. i need a whole new place. puke on everything. i just want to yell at everyone. i want someone to love me. i want to get away. i want to fly away. i want to be alone. i want to be surrounded. i want to feel lost. i want to get excited. i want to forget. i want to start over. i want to pack my bags and just start walking. i want something else.

everything is the same here. the same people, the same places, the same attitudes, the same beliefs, the same feelings, the same problems. who cares? who am i to the people down the street? to the owners of homes in brooklyn? i'm nobody to 99.9% of the world."

of course, the next day i wrote about a crush on geoff, and a crush on erik, and how much i loved shelly ("we spent the whole day together and we didn't get remotely sick of each other").

not much ever changes, i guess. granted, instead of letting dolores o'riordan draw tears from my eyes, i let christopher o'riley pound his piano to fake plastic trees and pull words onto paper.

true love waits.

huh. why would you call a song that?

actually, if you'll excuse me, i'm gonna take this bunny trail privately ...

he is a genius

This morning, 3LW, Alan Jackson, Alexi Murdoch, and Alicia Keys woke my sorry body up on the way to work.

So far, in my search for all things that might speak at all of God and help me find/see/touch Him, these 4 musicians/bands are my morning's leads.

3LW's "Baby, I'ma do right" is admittedly not a work of genius. But I love it regardless (honestly, I'm not sure how many things I love that ARE in fact works of genius. Moreover, In the summer of '02, a few of my best girlfriends surprised me with a karaoke machine for my birthday. The original cd gave us an opportunity to sing with Destiny's Child, Brittany Spears, and 3 Doors Down. I loved it. Months into owning it, my addicition had only grown. Fortunately, my roommate Brenda was kind enough to indulge my love for "the singing machine" and went so far as to contribute a few cds here and there to our ever-expanding collection.

The best cd, I admit, was MTV's R&B karaoke album which compiled "hits" from Usher, Alicia Keys, and yes, 3LW. Brenda and I performed it well, she accepting back-up and letting me out front with the breakdown of ...

So what, playa chill now
So how you found out,
Honey, gonna break it down down
You say it ain't no thing but what's my name
Kee-lay, Kee-lay,
Look me in the face and tell me what's the
dee-lay, dee-lay
Oh you gonna go shade now, But I'm paid now,
I know that you hate that,
Oh you got it goin' on now
You can go on now
Cause I got you for my back Say that
You can do whatever to me and be together with me?
Now think you're better than me? No more, never for me.

When the song first came out, I was back in Mpls over a Christmas break during college. I loved that song. It was somehow terribly empowering. And years later, getting to own it with a microphone was like, oh yeah. holla.

For real, though. Even though Brenda and I sang the song pretty often together when we were at home relaxing with company, I secretly loved the afternoons when I'd beat her home and have some time alone with that song on repeat. I felt sneaky, playing it without her, but couldn't resist the temptation. Like it was my own punching bag song. I think the way it starts out so sweet and timid and then blows into this, "so what playa chill now" business, well, it made me feel surprisingly powerful.

Alan Jackson I love because I love the Sundance Saloon and my HS friend Erin who invited me & Bren there for the first time to go country line dancing. And I love him because I love country music because my college friend Erin made me a mix tape of country ballads that are dreamy.

And I love Alexi Murdoch for reasons I've explained in many, many blogs. Seriously, he rocks.

And, finally, I love Alicia Keys because of one song in particular which I played on repeat for hours on the flight to Beijing last year. I remember everything of that flight and if I close my eyes long enough, I can picture the lighting inside the plane, see the cover of the magazine held by the student next to me, smell the nastiest airplane food ever. I can reread two notes I had with me, from dear friends, and feel the weight of my love for them settle heavy on my soul. The song lulled me to sleep and woke me up.

Some people want it all, but I don't want nothing at all
If it ain't you baby, if I ain't got you baby.

The song was with me even when my borrowed iPod was out of reach. It played in my head most memorably in Suzhou. I could have moved there. And oh, I really thought about it. Just to be away, to live in this completely foreign place and learn to love their nasty bandaid tea. I even dreamnt of going to the airport with the group and deciding to stay behind.

Some people want diamond rings, some just want everything,
But everything means nothing if I ain't got you.

I love music. And I love that God created it. And I love that He can bring such beautiful memories to mind with it. I swear. It's genius.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

seven hours on sunday

i spent the afternoon with a friend at cafe avanti on southport. we sat for a few hours over just one cup of coffee, trying to make sense of the mess of life.

it felt cathartic to share, to hear and be heard. i was surprised to be brought to tears a couple of times, embarrassed that i couldn't keep it together in front of this person that i, in all reality, don't know very well. still, in his kindness, he attempted to refute my claim that i am indeed the most f*&^ed up person i know; in turn, i had to also refuse his candidacy to claim the title himself.

here's how i feel. a big part of me is screaming that i should run for my life, run away to venezuela or argentina or uruguay, purchase a hut in the middle of a small village, learn how to live among a group of strangers, and write about the necessity of solitude and asceticism in the 21st century.

and then a part of me says, suck it up, mary. what you have is good. my friend said that his pastor referred to these good moments as "tokens of affection" (i hope i'm getting that right. but my friend doesn't read blogs, so i suppose whatever i say he said is true for the sake of the story). but i still feel lonely, still feel like i just want God, still feel like i'm looking at a plastic happy-face jesus who's giving me presents which i tearfully receive, knowing i am not nearly thankful enough, but hoping maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe at some point He'll come out from behind the curtain and heal my broken heart, tell me He isn't really angry with me, tell me He loves me for real, no jokes, and that He wants to work with me in my life, tell me He really does forgive me, that He's not gonna make me live a life that's half-ass, tell me He's gonna surprise me with really good things, and even though this might make me totally selfish and might break my hip a la jacob, He might, might, might just bless me indeed.

god!!! at least let me touch You!

... (deep breath) ...

we stopped at borders afterwards and i purchased way too many books for someone who received a credit card bill twice the size of her bill last month. i haven't even finished empire falls yet (though i am eager to do so), but felt too weak to resist henri nouwen (the way of the heart, the return of the prodigal son, and a compilation of his unpublished writings) and c.s. lewis (a grief observed and the weight of glory).

i need to know things. wish me luck.

Friday, December 02, 2005

o what a beautiful morning

every beautiful morning song is playing through my head right now.

sunrise, sunrise, it's like morning in your eyes
let the sunshine in
when i wake up in the morning, love ...

thank god for a perfect morning. i don't even care that my thighs were frozen 2 minutes in to my walk to work. i don't care that my coffee went cold 10 minutes in to my bus ride. i am just so happy to have had a full night's sleep and then get to wake up to this! this beautiful, beautiful morning!

ooh. i feel good.