Tuesday, February 28, 2006

maybe i need more than a vacation

it's wednesday evening and i'm alone and a little bit tired. i slept restlessly last night and though i spent the whole 45-minute bus ride home trying to coach my bedraggled body into the idea of going for a run, i instead laid down for a nap as soon as i walked in my door.

of course, i can rarely nap. and tonight, i'm not sure if i did or not. my home phone rang a few times, alerting me to the the cramp in my leg from sleeping so fully on top of it, and finally woke me up when the answering machine allowed the caller to record a full minute of dial tone.

since i like waking up to light subtlely, i was pleased that at 6:00 pm i had just enough light in the house to find a matchbox without turning on a light. i lit half a dozen candles, made pasta and watched the last 15 minutes of friends.

my whole body feels tired. i think because my mind feels tired. my body is kind enough to sympathize. it's not like i have any real stress. i met with my boss for my review today and walked away glowing. i got great emails from some of my favorite constituents. we ate king cake in our office in honor of mardi gras. and the days are getting longer.

but stress is looming. honestly, i want to quit my job and be free for a little while. i just want to take a couple of months 0ff and let my head rest. i want to enjoy a summer.

really, why do schools give students the summer off? why? i don't see how that prepared me for the real world. i wasn't trained to be satisfied with a two-week vacation in the summer. why do people think is normal? why do people think our bodies were made to sit in front of computers all day long? why?

a coworker told me today how she's been feeling light-headed and dizzy at work lately. this is the longest office job she's held (nearly a year) and she says it feels so unnatural to her.

as well it should.

"i think i'm getting some sort of radiation-disease from staring at my computer screen so long," she tells me.

i nod in agreement. seven hours in front of that machine will probably be some sort of war torture in 100 years.

my dad says that you won't necessarily find a job that will make you happy. and few people do something they really love. well, i'll take that gamble. i'd like to be one of the few then. i know i get eternity, but i don't see why i have to accept the humdrum now.

makes me just want to look up at the sky and remind Him again that i'm game for anything.

$40 for an alleluia

while lounging about the living room of our enormous hotel quarters (see laura's blog) this past weekend, we dove into a conversation of the exorbitantly high ticket prices for concerts. but here's what i found most interesting (and forgive me, erin, laura, and jen, for not remembering which of you brought it up): why do we pay to go to a "worship" concert? third day and david crowder are currently touring and charging $40 a head. i never really thought anything of it until now. and i'm not talking about caedmon's call type bands that are "christian-themed." i'm talking about the full-out, leading-worship, bring-you-closer-to-god-through-emotional-sing-song bands (i honestly don't mean that as an attack). is it right to charge people to invite them to experience god like that?

i don't know. thoughts?

and in other news, i was on the ccm site to research ticket prices for other worship bands and came across this t-shirt from second coming clothing. i honestly have to wonder who their audience is. because situated right below the thumbnail of that t-shirt was a photo of their ladies' short-sleeve denim shirt.

but really, if you want to get onboard with second coming clothing and "wear the mission," make sure you check out their other t-shirt options with such "hot" sellers like Bloodwiser ("the wise men knew his blood's for you"), BrokeBack on the Mountain, and NBC - Nothing But Christ.
oh, lord. help us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

what can be, instead of just what is

From the Sierra Club ...

March 24, 1989 will forever plague history as one of the worst environmental disasters of our time. Eleven million gallons of oil spilled into the Prince William Sound killing thousands of wildlife and destroying a complex and delicate ecosystem. Exxon promised they would clean up the spill and promised that those affected would get their lives back. Sixteen years later and the people are still waiting for their lives to become "whole" again.

So my Sierra Club Insider email tells me that I can host a party to watch the video of "The Day The Water Died." I signed up for my free dvd this morning.

I still want to host a roundtable discussion about the Free the Slaves information I've been reading through.

And I want to do research on this No More Deaths group based in Tucson, Arizona (2 members of which are facing felony charges for aiding people in the Arizona desert who crossed the US-Mexico border).


Ask me why I want to own a big house.

Because I want to have big parties with champagne and ballgowns and live bands and lights on the veranda. This is all true. I can't pretend I don't want it.

But as I think about the above issues and others like them, I think I want a big place because I want to host events in support of them. I want to host retreats. I want to gather people into one big place that's cozy not because Ethan Allen designed the furniture, but because in those rooms of that house, people find freedom to think. I'm not saying there won't be TVs in my house because there will be. And I'm not avoiding the internet (great article in Sojourners recently, by the way, addressing New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's proposal that the city create a wireless network offering free broadband Internet access to residents and businesses. Says the chief technology officer of New Orleans, "it's a once-in-a-century opportunity to truly show the entire world what can be, instead of just what is, and help write future history in the process").

I'm just saying that when I think about what I'd pour my life into, this is what stands out. All sorts of people gathered into one place, talking with each other with their coffee cups continually being refilled, their heads full of thoughts and their ears open to one another as they discuss things that MATTER.

And awesome if conversations of energy shortages lead into games of euchre or if someone wants to start a game of freeze tag before a few of us sit down to write letters to our congresspeople while listening to ray lamontagne. Awesome.

Now it's a matter of praying, of seeking opportunities to do what makes my heart feel so alive. It thrills me.

My friend Mark - a masterful web programmer genius as far as I can tell - had dinner with me last night and helped me sort through ideas I'd begun to birth lately about creating a website to help people better navigate the city of Madison in regards to interests, activities, etc. Can you imagine what's possible if people collaborate? When ideas settle into the earth. When dreams become reality ... Little else seems as lovely as that.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

until everybody is free

while my coworker diana swapped offices with me this morning to make a phone call in private (i have a door now, remember), i surfed the internet for a bit at her desk. and i was heartbroken. no, heartbroken can't even describe it.

i read through articles on the US refusing to shut Guantanamo Bay prison camp despite a UN report calling for its immediate closure, looked through the new Abu Ghraib photos released (some of the photos are terribly distressing and offensive, so don't click on the link if you don't want to see them) and just listened to an interview with kevin bales, president of the anti-slavery organization, Free the Slaves, about the issues he thinks about every day ...

Vivek Pandit, an Indian anti-slavery campaigner, writes simply, "Nobody is free until everybody is free."

We know too much to not learn more.

There are an estimated 27 million slaves alive today. The majority, up to 20 million, are bonded laborers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Today's slave population is over five times greater than the population of the island of Ireland.

About 14% of Haiti's under-18 population, or 300,000 children, are restaveks - children working as domestic slaves. Thirty percent receive only one meal per day.

An estimated 40,000 women and young girls from Burma are forced in the sex industry in Thailand each year.

The CIA and US State Department estimate that over 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the US each year.

Whether it's slavery, or responding to the needs of victims of torture, or learning how to think about abortion (see anne lamott's article here), there is something to be learned.

in the meantime, i think i'll try to get a few folks together on the 27th of february for anti-slavery day. i know that if i think i'm alone in thinking about it, i'll forget it. i need to be held accountable. i know too much.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

my, how quickly time changes things ...

i'm at a blogging loss. i've begun and nearly finished 3 separate blogs. one about dawn, one that divulges yesterday's events, and one that talks about country music and moving to the city. but i can't pull any of them to a close.

i feel like i'm waiting.

i'm watching my fingers again. i haven't done that for ages. i feel like there's inspiration in my wrists. a story to tell, something. sitting in my wrists. right above my bracelet. i can feel it there.

the image you see to your right is an unfair image. my hand is actually not moving most of the time. but when i took the photo i decided to pretend i was busy. in hopes that maybe that would inspire me to write. i'm trying, people.


okay, remember how i just wrote that i had nothing to write? that's so 10 minutes ago ... because i just got TWO FREE TICKETS TO THE JOFFREY BALLET'S PERFORMANCE OF ROMEO AND JULIET!! o my goodness. i feel high as a kite. i can hardly stand it. brenda and i were going to go running tonight at 7:30, but this is like a thousand and one times way better! o my goodness. i don't even know how to sit still.

so when i say i like surprises, this is what i'm talking about. man, man, man. i'm like out of my mind excited. and to know that brenda is so excited, too? it's like the coolest thing. for real, i feel like blaring my music in my office and jumping up and down like a 13-year-old boy at a green day concert. wow. wow. wow.

and one more thing, since i'm talking to him online right now and looking at the flowers he sent me sitting on my desk, i'll just say that jon is good to my heart in a way my words continually fail to express.

so i won't say anything. i'll just post a photo of the flowers per sarah's request. and sit here smiling. like an idiot.

(isn't it awesome how flowers work? yesterday, those irises were just little buds and today - THIS! and tomorrow, ooh, i can't wait to see those lilies bloom tomorrow. really, how quickly things change).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

to be noticed

this evening, i concluded a weekend movie marathon with john curran's "we don't live here anymore." i'd been wanting to see it since catching the preview for it during each visit to see "before sunset" in the theatre.

the short story - as copied from the back of the dvd - is this: jack and terry. hank and edith. they're married couples and best friends with much in common. jack and hank are professors at cedar county college. terry and edith are stay-at-home moms. and jack and edith are secret lovers.

there's not much plot, so i don't feel i'm spoiling anything at all, but if you wish to remain entirely clueless, don't read on.

terry (played by laura dern) is the most remarkable role. throughout the film, her character was by far the most engaging, the most complex. and so it's surprising to me that it's edith's character that suddenly had me at the very end.

essentially, edith isn't fully desired. when she finally tells hank she's been having an affair, he admits that he's both happy and sad about it - happy that edith's felt loved and sad that it's now over between her and jack.

jack doesn't leave terry to be with edith, even though he's told terry he's in love with edith.

so there's edith. her husband doesn't have time, doesn't care to be with her, and her lover has chosen his wife.

her character feels so hollow that you can almost hear the words, "notice me!" echo from her insides.

so tonight, after mark and kat left, i took a long bath and thought about the 3 movies i'd just watched: casablanca, legends of the fall, and we don't live here anymore. so when i picked up the weight of glory again, i found the words of c.s. lewis again more weighty than i had even the first time.

we should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. but we pine. the sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.

that is perhaps my greatest fear. that god will forget me. that he'll stop taking notice of me. that maybe i was better to him years ago, and there's not as much use for me now. that maybe he liked me better once upon a time, that - for as much as i do now - i can't go back and make up for the crap that's come between us. but to want to scream to him to notice me feels so wrong, so disrespectful, as though i don't understand he certainly has more important things on his plate than me. because i don't simply want him to look at me, i want him to walk with me, to talk with me, to hold my hand, to show me he wouldn't want to be without me. is that wrong? and yet i feel it.

that's all. i have no conclusions.

Friday, February 10, 2006

the peaches and herb party

after spending hours this evening at my office in preparation for tomorrow's festivities, kat and i boarded the bus at 9 p.m. and sat sluggishly on the 22, exhausted and barely able to spare the energy to open our mouths and speak. until kat asked me about a mutual friend who lived in the neighborhood our bus had us venturing through.

"whatever happened to kate?" she asked. "i haven't spoken with her in over a year. do you ever run into her?"

sure, i'd seen her a couple times. kate had lived with us for a few weeks a couple summers ago, but unavoidable circumstances had driven a wedge into our relationship.

"it's been awhile," i replied. "i don't think i've seen her since summer."

the conversation launched us into a discussion of all those people who just disappear from your life. one minute they're in your call log as the most frequently dialed number, and the next, you're contemplating deleting their name during your annual cell phone clean-up.

seriously, what happens to those people?

on the bus, kat and i made a list of people who we thought it'd be most awkward to visit with again, people with whom we'd been estranged for years, people who we'd met for lunch and never seen again. and we decided to invite them to a peaches and herb party.

we wouldn't invite anyone we currently kept in touch with. just those old strangers. to make it really awkward. not just a little awkward, but a big awkward so no one could avoid the elephant in the room. and we'd all have to wear nametags with the picture of what we had looked liked the last time we saw each other. of course there'd be a bonfire because during those long pauses, you'd want to be able to stare into the fire and pretend like you were really thinking deeply about what the other person was saying, though really you'd be searching desperately to find some kind of common ground so it wouldn't be any more awkward than it was already. to top it off, kat suggested we serve peach schnapps and other herbal refreshments to calm everyone's nerves.

reuniting does not always feel so good. but why avoid it? we say, have your own peaches and herb party and get all the awkwardness out so you can get on with your lives. ours is slated for the end of june. if we haven't talked to you in the past year, we can't wait to see you then.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

getting the green light

dove dark chocolates don't stand a chance in our office. we devour them. put out a dish of those delectable candies and they're gone before you can say, "i really love dove dark chocolates. they're infinitely better than the milk chocolate ones. i'd also really like to see dove dark chocolates with nuts, like a dove dark chocolate turtle. i wonder if they'd be as good as esther price dark chocolate turtles. those are amazing."

(there are lots of chocolates in a bag - we can't possibly eat them THAT fast)

so this afternoon, i pulled out a dove dark chocolate from my secret stash (my public stash vanished days ago) and read my "dove promise": "you're allowed to do nothing."

we got a good laugh out of that in my office. sure, i'm allowed to do nothing, but that's not good for anyone.

anyway, it reminded me of a game a few friends and i had played on a trip to chicago over spring break during my junior year of college. along the lines of the "what if" and "would you rather" games i'm so fond of, this game pulled on biblical texts (ok ok, we were dorks. i don't deny it).

the question, pulled from 1 corinthians 10:23, was essentially this: what would you do right now if everything was permissible AND beneficial?

obviously, every 18- to 22-year-old single guy had the same answer. except for our friend matt, who without hesitation told us that he'd probably steal a few albums and then drive away at reckless speeds.

matt rocks.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

suds on the roof

i love talking in songs (listen to "have you seen her" as a prime example).

i'd love to become friends with a fiddler, a chef, a webmaster, and a carpenter.

i tried, but i'm not really a big fan of either u2's how to dismantle an atomic bomb or coldplay's x&y.

i wish i had really curly hair or really straight hair. one or the other. not a weird combination that you can't even call wavy.

i love how it was still light outside when i came home today.

i wish i had a restaurant right on a lake somewhere, a two-story wine bar/coffeehouse/restaurant that was all about the white tablecloths on the second floor and all about the chill factor on the first. the second floor would be the kind of fancy where people get engaged and the first floor would be the kind of chill where people get together to discuss the movie they just went to see.

let's go back to the fiddle. that's an ingenious instrument. last night, one of my alums fiddled at an event at which he was being honored. i love the sound of something sounding just a little off. it's perfect.

speaking of good music, the shawshank soundtrack is still one of my favorite albums of all time. it reminds me of madison during the spring of 2001, of opening my windows to see the red evening sky battling the approaching rain clouds. it reminds me of two conversations that spring which i can never forget to this day: of allison calling to say hello and me telling her shallowly that everything was fine and her saying calmly, like only allison can do, that she was praying for the exact thing i couldn't admit i was even thinking about. and of bible study with my girls, confessing and crying all that had been on my heart, but inside, feeling like no one could ever know how trashy and used up i felt, and then wendy praying for me and using the word "pure" to describe me. and how at once, i felt like maybe all my s*** wasn't going to get the best of me.

the best movie i have ever seen was not titanic, although i have certainly watched it more than my fair share. one scene i didn't like was when kate winslet's shoe slips as leonardo is trying to help her back aboard the ship. duh. of course her shoe was going to slip. we ALL saw that coming.

ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the bible and i'm interested to read again what matt wrote on his blog about job the other day. i love that kind of discussion.

i am scared to make mistakes. most especially with my heart. i know it sounds awful, but this fear is the thing that makes me most wish god would return already. it's why my heart aches so much when i see films like shawshank and legends of the fall and the mission and cold mountain. the wrong people always die. and because i get so scared, i feel like the easiest lesson would be never to take risks.

i don't know whether to live in the city or the suburbs or the country. i feel hungry for the country right now.

sometimes i come home and stare at myself in the mirror until i imagine i can see my soul.

i wrote 3 papers in college for language classes on the same subject - the last day of my junior year of high school.

i think in songs. whenever i hear something, i imagine the moment in the movie, in my life, in any imagined situation that i think the song was meant for. i once heard a song played at a wedding that, when i closed my eyes, seemed a better fit for the rather fugitive-esque scene i had running through my mind. i have inescapable memories attached to songs. someday, when jared gets too old to keep up the pace of his masterful moviemaking, i'll ask him to help me piece together all these songs in some sort of movie fashion. even if it's just something i end up passing down to my grandkids. and even if they think grandma's a loser, i'll force them to watch it while i eat peanut brittle and smoke cloves and play with the heavy fake jewelry around my neck.

i've never had my ears pierced. this is what makes mennonite men think i am also mennonite.

the best day ever, i think, will be when god heals everything.

and these are my thoughts on tuesday afternoon.

Monday, February 06, 2006

train of thought

i'm wearing a white sweater and drinking a strawberry smoothie. which would be fine if i didn't have a bunch of events today. daring indeed. i was hungry when i went to the cafeteria, but the lunch options suggested otherwise. so i left with only my strawberry smoothie and the hope that i'll scrounge up enough cash here, there, and everywhere in my purse to treat myself to a decent lunch out. eventually.

today's a busy day. and the rest of the week is busy. so busy that the idea of it all invaded my dreams last night. i woke up a few times concerned about my clothes not being ironed or people not showing up or everything just falling together in front of me. and yet, the only real feeling i could latch on to in my dream was one of, "are you kidding? fine, whatever."

friends, this is what they call burn out.

so i got to work a little on my resume last night. regardless of what happens, it'll be good to update that thing (speaking of, am i supposed to keep my GPA on there 4 years after i've graduated?).

i admit, however, i was a little distracted listening to humphrey bogart and ingrid bergman as rick and ilsa discuss their tormented love affair in casablanca. katherine was watching it by herself in the family room, but "as time goes by" drew me away from the computer.

let's be honest. ilsa put herself in a hard place. so you think your husband is dead and you mourn for months and then you fall in love again? okay, but then send a message to your new boyfriend and TELL HIM that your husband is still alive. i think honesty would have saved them a lot of drama. i'm not saying it wouldn't have still really, really sucked for rick and ilsa, but, c'mon. of course rick is going to act like a jerk if you stood him up on the train platform the day you're supposed to take off together. and she should have been honest with laszlo as well.

i do feel the movie makes some true assessments. your heart can fall in love many times. there's not just ONE person in the world meant for you. and sometimes it blows because different people can call certain parts of your heart to your life. i think that's what ilsa discovered. i mean, harry and sally discuss it in their movie as well. what do you choose? a super passionate relationship with a bartender who's a little bit crooked? or a relationship with a visionary willing to die for something bigger but with whom you'll always come in second?


Rick: I'm saying it because it's true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now... Here's looking at you kid.

ah yes, one of the greatest movie lines of all time. i'll raise my strawberry smoothie (very carefully) to that.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

triple espresso soy almond latte OR ...

The latest issue of Lark News examines God's will in the article, "Man seeks God's will over coffee selection." Too good not to share ...

After spending several months seeking the Lord, Brian Rutledge says God gave him the answer he sought: latte.

Rutledge's question: Did God prefer him to have a latte or cappuccino in the morning?

"I believe God is interested in the minutiae of my life," he says. "He knows every hair on my head; surely he has ideas about my actions throughout the day."

Rutledge says the coffee question bothered him for several years, and he felt guilty about being in "God's permissive will, but not his perfect will." Finally he decided to make it a matter of prayer.

"I have access to the God of the universe," he says. "Why not ask his opinion?"

He received his answer during early-morning prayer in the guest bedroom of his home. He rushed out to Starbucks and ordered a guilt-free grande latte.

"It was one of the great moments of my life," he says. "I knew without a doubt that I was in the very center of God's will."

But the relief didn't last long. Rutledge soon began to wonder if God minds if he adds sugar to his latte, and how many packets God prefers him to use, and whether Rutledge should use white sugar, unrefined sugar, Equal or even Sweet'N Low. Rutledge has made it a matter of "serious prayer" and is confident he'll receive an answer, since lately God has also helped him choose which kind of toothpaste to use, which side of the bed to sleep on, and whether to watch Hannity & Colmes at 6 p.m. or 9 p.m. •

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

i need a stage name

if in the end it turns out that we actually get reincarnated, i'd really like come back as the next fiona apple.

let's pause for a moment to give her appropriate kudos for songs like "shadowboxer," "criminal" and "never is a promise."

who doesn't like her? selected as one of their 2006 top 99 women, askmen.com said "this waify singer/pianist may seem jaded, but if that's what has made her music as introspective and powerful as it is, then she can vent to us any day." certainly. of course, her 1997 VMA acceptance award - albeit childish - secretly makes me laugh to think of it ("this world is bullshit, and you shouldn't model your life on what you think that we think is cool, and what we're wearing and what we're saying," she proclaimed, and then proceeded to quote maya angelou).

i also like her because shadowboxer popped into my itunes in the moment i lost the blog i had just finished writing but had yet to publish. much to my roommate's great pleasure, i'm sure, her voice made prevented me from raging against this machine (it is, after all, katherine's computer).

seriously, if you don't have the tidal album yet, buy it asap. you don't want to wait for me to be reborn, find a sassy stage name and make it big. it may be awhile.