Sunday, May 28, 2006

i heart photobooth

just a few of the many reasons i LOVE LOVE LOVE my new macbook. seriously, it's the coolest.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

i like this.

"Gratitude is the heart's memory."
Jean Baptiste Massieu

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

this heart god made

j and i have done this before, this no-communication stuff, so it's not like i'm panicking about how to do it now. actually, the day after we decided to start dating (that's a good story for another day), he left cell phone range for a few days to go camping with friends. since then, he's been in honduras for a week and i've been in russia, so being totally disconnected from each other is really nothing new.

none the less, i miss him.

when j went to honduras in january, it was especially difficult since we had spent nearly a full week day in and day out with each other up until his plane took him out of chicago's gray, cloud-covered skies and in to the clear, sun-drenched honduran heavens (j says that if i went to honduras, i might not use the word "heaven" in any context having to do with said country. until then, as with most things i have yet to experience, i'll romanticize it a bit longer to give it the benefit of the doubt).

shelly listened to me whine on the phone soon after he left, advising me to write him a letter for each day he was gone so i'd feel like i had shared with him all i'd wanted to while he was away. i wrote about my job, about my roommates, about a 60 minutes episode i watched, about missing him, about god, about whatever my pen felt so inclined to ink on the page.

the only thing that topped my excitement about giving him that letter was when he pulled out a letter of his own to give me. that was awesome. and as words are my love language, there is little more that i appreciate than a detailed letter. it's even better than e-mail. it seems personal. it seems deliberate. and as i understand it, i'll those words just decode to mean "i love you."

it's really something else to one day realize how much you've grown to love a person. whether you're dating them or working with them or talking with them at church, you one day find that they've lodged themselves so deep in your heart that life without them seems bland and lacking.

just today i got an email from jon's sister, sara, who detailed for me a paper she recently wrote for her women & religion class, a formal dance she attended, and her decision to focus on middle school ministry. i smiled the entire time i read it, thrilled to be learning so much about her life. before she left for south africa (see her blog here), i'd hung out with sara a whopping total of three times. but we've been e-mailing pretty regularly, and as i read her note today, i realized that one of the reasons i'm most excited to move to madison this summer is that she'll be close.

they sneak in there, you know?

i work with a student, michael, who, when i first met him, managed to quickly get under my skin, rather than in my heart. he was already 40 at 16, referring to his peers as "the kids" when he talked with me about the day's schedule of events. he walked as though auditioning for a posture award, his hair neatly parted on his flushed, round face, which blushed a deep shade of crimson whenever he felt frustrated by the group's childishness.

he reminded me of the 10-year-old boy who once "helped" me lead a vacation bible school the summer after my senior year of high school. i can't remember his name now, which is surprising considering how many times i had to yell it during that week (as in "[insert name here]! please do not swing patty around so quickly! she's going to puke again if you keep flailing her about!"). of course, i failed to realize that 10-year-old boys, just because they're 6 years older than the group they're "helping," aren't necessarily any more mature. it seems 10-year-old boys want to assume responsibility in so much as it means getting to be "in charge." i had the rather unfortunate experience of discovering that this meant an increased work load for me, having to train myself to keep a more careful eye on my one 10-year-old than on the twelve 4-year-olds.

and that's how i felt about mr. michael. he bothered me. on our first school trip together, he managed to stay ahead of the group with me the whole time, going over again and again the routes we should take in order to most effectively navigate the subway system to arrive at our destination in good time.


fast forward to yesterday afternoon, over two years later. school's been let out for the day, and a few students are gabbing with each other in the hallways, the girls with their skirts too short, and the boys sitting on the benches, leaning their backs against the wall in the same gangsta style pose assumed by nearly every senior boy when he wishes to be perceived as thuggish and manly.

i was walking up to the second floor slowly, letting the sun embrace and warm me through the window panes, when i saw michael walk into mrs. patrick's office just a few feet ahead of me. as i walked by, i heard michael's laugh (it's his man-giggle that gives away his true age) and felt my heart warm when he spotted me in the hallway and gave a wave.

i've gone on numerous school trips with this kid, been with him as he's been recognized for his academic achievements, listened to him nervously speak on any number of world issues, eavesdropped on his ever-slowly maturing jokes, and seen him get nervous when one girl in particular walks in the room.

he's a smart, witty, dork. he's a middle-aged 18-year-old. and i love him.


when i think about how capable the heart is of loving, i feel overwhelmed with gratitude that god would make our hearts as stretchy and elastic as they are. it's something incredible when you think your heart is in a comfortable place, that you're giving love to someone here, someone there, that you've finally figured out how you can manage all your love, and then when you've finally tucked everyone in under their little quilts of love, kissed and hugged them, you turn around to find someone else has moved in. and surprisingly, you happen to have an extra quilt on hand, and you see the room has suddenly expanded to allow for this new person. sometimes, it seems like a whole busload shows up at your door and - not even asking for room and board - they make their home in your heart. and STILL, still there is more than enough for them.

this heart god made, one for each of us, is the kind of invention that should win honors. he blows me away.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


i'm thinking about getting a macbook. i thought i'd get an ibook, but it seems the macbook is replacing the ibook. and for the same cost as the 14" ibook, i can get the brand new 13.3" macbook.

but i need your input. to mac or not to mac? i'm thinking of visiting the apple store this weekend, so your timely response is appreciated. gracias :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

the dude with the joy of thousands.

on the brown line to kimball this afternoon, i held on to the rail by the window, pressed against the glass of the door, trying not to contemplate what kind of spidey-move i'd have to whip out if the doors flung open and i had to swing to safety via electrical lines strung between buildings.

when the el pulled up to the belmont station, i had the advantage of taking in an unobstructed view of the river of people heading west towards the train platform. amidst all the suits and ipod-accessorized 20somethings, the bluechip-implanted business people and flirty teens playfully pushing each other, there was one bearded dude (guy, man, boy - none of those really work here) with backpack and air drumsticks, fully rockin' out to whatever was playing through the orange-size earphones on his head. i tried to read his lips to catch the song, but my train took off before i was able to make an educated guess.

i wiped a tear away as the train pulled north, again professing that my heart is nearly, if not as sensitive, as my skin.

i'm not sure what it is, but i'm trying to find the common denominator among the things that make me cry. take, for example, my brother-in-law's graduation from UW last weekend. a number of schools were represented at his particular ceremony, but it was the school of nursing that got me. when they were announced, they broke out into wild applause and cheers for themselves (shannon told me later that the school of nursing is encouraged to fairly raucous). i was immediately teary-eyed.

for me, cheering, rallying, firework-watching, all of it thrills me. there's something about a bunch of people gathering together for the same purpose with excitement and hope and joy that shakes me with glee. i love it. it's why i'm already crying during extreme makeover:home edition before ty even says, "driver, move that bus!"

but here's this one guy walking home, jamming by himself. so what's the link between the one and the thousands? i think it feels like what should happen when you leave a "together moment." you know, like when you've been at a concert (like U2's this past spring) and you're dancing along with everyone else, and you get home and you're still dancing. like you carried the spirit with you.

it's like this guy had the spirit still with him, like he had a freedom with friends that carried over into his own life.

and to everyone who takes that kind of excitement and joy with them into their own lives, god bless you. it blesses me.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

i should have been a beat poet

i'm up to $3.58 on this internet window, and my goal is to finish before i hit $5. so here's the quick scoop ...

i'm in nyc until tomorrow morning. i've met with some of my favorite alums, had a blast catching up with them, but i need a new catch-all phrase when i talk about leaving. i've totally overused "it was a really hard decision," and need to find something that expresses that same sentiment but in a new way. i welcome your suggestions ...

besides that, i couldn't sleep last night, so i watched fever pitch 1 1/2 times (actually, it's very good even with drew barrymore, and i think i might be developing a crush on jimmy fallon. funny guys are just charming). then lay in bed waiting to fall asleep.

this morning, my morning meeting was cancelled, so i'm headed to starbucks to do some work while i wait for my lunch appt with a fashion designer. i decided on an all-black ensemble today to avoid any judgments on my clothing (all new yorkers accept fully black outfits as the standard, which i fully appreciate considering how much black i actually own). it makes me feel a little morbid, but it's rainy and gross outside, and it fits my new york mood. actually, everytime i go to new york, i crave a pipe. i mean, i feel like i should be wearing all black, smoking a pipe, and journaling furiously, and drinking beers underground. i should have been a beat poet.

anyway, $1.25 later, and it's time for me to go.

more later ...

Monday, May 08, 2006

though no banff, i say the dunes are worth the trip.

late morning saturday, jon and i drove to beverly shores, indiana to visit the dunes. since neither of us had been there before, we stopped at the visitors center where the volunteer guide, clad in his full khaki forest ranger uniform, directed us to a few trails - the ever impressive .7 mile mt. baldy trek and the 1.8 cowles bog hike. i instantly felt guilty for dragging us 90 minutes from chicago for that ... for a measly little walking time that'd last us not even an hour at a snail's pace.

fortunately, the dunes are steep, and walking up a sharp incline on sand is not quite the same as taking a tour on an even path.

once we got to the top of mt. baldy, we took in a surprisingly beautiful view (you just couldn't look to the right - there's a huge nuclear plant - or behind you - a maximum security prison). but the rolling dunes and the surprisingly small number of tourists and the sunny, clear skies made it absolutely worth the trip. it felt good to see the chicago skyline sitting so little across lake michigan, like even for as big and busy and powerful as that city is, it's not so impressive or interesting from across the lake.

we spent a little while there, ate our lunch of wheat thins and raisins, and set off on the cowles bog trail.

if you take the trip, don't turn around in the beginning - i promise the trail does get fun. it starts off really plain and simple, and pretty unattractive actually. you're walking along a power plant with all these wires hanging above you, trying to be interested in the two swans swimming in what can only be totally contaminated water. but as you head towards the beach, you'll be surrounded with trees and fairly rolling hills.

but the best part, yes, the BEST part is when you slide down the dunes out of the trees and into this open, sandy beach, a small trail winding you through tall grasses and cattails to a completely private beach. it was the closest i've ever gotten to my anne of green gables moment. i so wish i had had a camera, but found this picture online and figured it was close enough. paint a clear, brilliantly bright sky over this darker one and you'll see what we saw.


of course, our dawdling at the beach kept us from seeing the swedish settlement reenactment back at the visitor's center.

guess we'll just have to go back.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

58 days till madison.

it's been years since i've been running. okay, that's a lie. it's been months actually, but it's felt like years. i haven't been to the gym in eons and finally made the decision today to fax in my cancellation so i can save $44 a month. i hate cancelling my membership at the Y. when i called about it, i was suddenly struck by the guilt that i'm abandoning one of the last great community centers - pillars, if you will - of our city. but though the Y's receptionist voiced (as i sensed it) her appall at my lack of support for all the underprivelaged kids of chicago, one look at my visa statement told me i'd better stick to my guns.

i am a bad budgeter. in fact, i don't really have a budget to speak of. i more or less base my spending on what i'll call "vibes." do i feel i have enough money for this? do i feel like it's time to go out to dinner? if i buy $200 worth of swimsuits, i'll give $200 away. if i go out every night for a week with friends, i'll stay in every night the next week. you might call it my "ying yang" theory of spending.

what i need is for someone to set a budget for me and give me money in cash for the week and tell me what percentage is for food, clothing, what-have-you. but i'm getting off topic. i'm not going anywhere with budgeting today. let's back up. before i came home to my visa statement and the reality of paying for a gym membership i'm not using, i was out running. i was out running because i spent $200 on swimsuits (i'm returning the majority) that arrived at my house where i tried them on and discovered that i am in no way ready for a season of skimpy-bikini-wearing-barbie-packed beaches. and so i ran.

up bosworth, down grace, and all along ashland.

i love this city.

it's getting harder to imagine leaving. and even the joys of being in madison don't feel quite as alluring as they did months ago.

i'm not ready.

my alums want to know if i'm moving for a guy. that's what they want to hear. i tell them i would never move FOR a boy, but yes, my boyfriend is there.

but that's scary, too.

i think combined with having no job, no health insurance, no car, no place to live yet, the idea that my boyfriend is under no obligation to continue to love me is a little scary. and what if i hate madison? what if i miss the city and being free as a bird with my roommates? what if i take a job that i'm overqualified for? ...

i think this stuff tends to hit me right after j leaves. because it feels like, well, it's back to being alone. and that's the temptation for me. to believe that i'm alone. that you can't depend on people to stop by at your new house, to invite you out with them, to help you get a job, to come through if everything else falls apart.

it seems funny to me then that i should find myself reading nouwen's the way of the heart about the practice of solitude, silence and prayer. i don't know why i didn't pick up a book on the joys of church or about god's intended design for community. why solitude, silence, and prayer?


i have a guess. i won't tell you because i'm still mulling it over. all i'll say is that right now when i look at those three words typed out here, the voice in my head is saying, go. be alone. be silent. pray.