Friday, June 30, 2006

world cup spoiler alert (in case you're tivo-ing it for later tonight)

"gol! gol! gol! gol! gol!"

this is what makes watching world cup on telemundo much better than watching it on espn or abc. these commentators rock. well, that and the commercials are a lot better. if the US airs one more AIG commercial, i swear ....

so anyway, we're in the last few moments of the match between germany and argentina. going into the game, i was pro-argentina (i know, maradona should probably be the reason i'm not, but reading about the guy is like reading a real-life soap opera and i've got to thank him for that).

and alemania takes it. final score 1(4) - 1(2) in a shoot-out.

it was a good game. but oh c'mon now, what's this? grown men fighting? fifa officials having to step in and separate the teams? ridiculous.

at the same time, seeing the disappointmnet on the faces of these guys makes even the thought (no matter how true) of "it's just a game" seem like the last thing that should even cross my mind. there are tears, there are blank stares, there is absolute silence from those fans shrouded in blue and white, their bodies frozen in disbelief, not ready yet to move on and accept the defeat of their dreams to realize a world cup championship. no, it's not just a game.

for these guys or for anyone else who cares.

that's something about men that i really appreciate. this brotherhood. this side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder love that they have for one another.

i'm reading this book called love and respect about how women want unconditional love and how men want unconditional respect. i argue with the author a lot out loud in my room while i'm reading it, guffawing at parts i find absolutely ludicrous (especially to my 21st century liberal feminist mind), but often - in spite of myself - coaching myself to continue reading, if not just to challenge and expand my own mind (to be completely honest, it's been a really really good read for me, and i'd suggest it to anyone like me who grew up in a family of girls).

the author (eggerichs) writes about men and their love for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship, how they develop bonds with other boys when they're young and how those male relationships have a large part in defining the kind of men they become.

eggerichs writes, "women share experiences by talking about them to each other, examining and infusing the experiences with their impressions and emotions. men are different. they share their experiences by sharing an activity."

he goes on to share a piece of research i hope you find as interesting as i did:

research studies confirm the male preference for shoulder-to-shoulder communication with little or no talking. in one study, researchers performed a series of tests on males and females from four age groups: second graders, sixth graders, tenth graders, and 25-year-olds. instructions for each pair of females and each pair of males were exactly the same: enter a room, sit down on two chairs, and talk, if you wish.

as the test proceeded, every pair of females, no matter what their ages, reacted the same way. they turned their chairs toward each other, so they could be face to face, lean forward and talk. the males reacted differently. they did not turn toward each other in any way. they sat side by side, shoulder to shoulder, looking straight ahead except for an occasional glance at each other.

because the females turned toward each other or literally turned their chairs to face one another for direct, face-to-face contact, the researchers assumed they would have the most intimate conversations. actually, the most open and transparent of all the pairs, male or female, were the tenth grade boys.

very cool. this is something i am trying to learn how to appreciate. when i'm alone with someone else, i want to talk about experiences, to identify, to draw out thoughts and feelings. i think that's good and healthy, but it's not the only way. and to watch a soccer match and see the emotion and comraderie in that, wow, it makes me feel like men communicate in an equally beautiful - but totally unique - way. good job, men.

and congratulations to argentina. way to play like it's not just a game. you should be proud.

and to germany: the way you love your keeper is the only reason that i feel okay with you winning today. i appreciate your show of emotion. that and the really cool bowling pin knock-down you acted out after your win. that was clever.

Monday, June 26, 2006

sunday drive to solitude

i'm exhausted today. i haven't been sleeping well, waking up in the middle of the night, and then again sometimes up to an hour before my alarm goes off. i stay there, on my back, eyes closed, hoping my body will forget what the hands on the clock said, and let me sleep as though i'd just laid down for the night.

it hasn't happened.

before i get out of bed, hundreds of emotions have begun their day's work of clamoring for my attention. it makes me feel a bit nauseous. i force myself out of bed, hoping they'll see it as a sign of my intentional neglect and finally leave me be.


sunday morning, i got up early and drove out to reindahl park with jon and joel for Day 2 of their badger state soccer games. i wasn't feeling sick of the sport yet - even after watching them play in 3 games the day before and catching 2 world cup games in between - but i knew myself well enough to know i needed serious coffee if i was going to manage two more games that day.

i popped into victor allen's, picked up a cinnamon toasted nut latte, and, not finding the atmosphere warm or inviting, returned to the car to head back to the fields.

there's something about portage road, though, that welcomed me in the way i had expected from victor allen's. there's nothing spectacular about portage within a mile off of east wash. but go a bit further north, and it's full farm land.

i drove over hwy 51 (and what a feeling to drive over the highway! it feels like you're flying above the busyness of routine daily life) and out of madison, through the little town with the 25 mph speed limit, and out past the corner bar.

there was hardly a soul on the road, but the few people i passed seemed as oblivious to the increased speed limit as me. we drove by each other slowly, as though we'd have pulled over to say hi if we'd have recognized the face.

anytime i hit a stop sign, i was tempted to wait, to turn off the car, and stay still.

i was there, only 5 minutes from madison, in the full and natural quiet of summer. crickets were chirping during the day and i could hear them. i don't know if i can quite express the kind of joy that brought. miles and miles of farm country. miles and miles away from just noise.


i'm an escapist by nature, i think, inclined to drop everything and run. so when i drove out of the city on sunday, i felt like i had flung open the porch door in my head and escaped out the back, avoiding confrontation with any of those emotions busily banging away at my front door.

i know it's only a matter of time before i'll be experiencing the heartache of leaving the chicago family i love, the joy of returning to a city of academics and environmentalists, the anxiety of looking for roommates and an apartment, the thrill of a month with very few constraints on my time. i'm sure they'll come, and probably all at once, too.

in the meantime, i'm going to practice escaping. no more binge escaping. no, no. i want to practice regular escaping. regular total alone-ness. solitude, i think is what it's called. how is it possible that i so easily forget how necessary solitude is for the soul?

henri nouwen writes in an article on moving from solitude to community to ministry:

It's not easy to sit and trust that in solitude God will speak to you— not as a magical voice but that he will let you know something gradually over the years. And in that word from God you will find the inner place from which to live your life.

Solitude is where spiritual ministry begins. That's where Jesus listened to God. That's where we listen to God.

Sometimes I think of life as a big wagon wheel with many spokes. In the middle is the hub. Often in ministry, it looks like we are running around the rim trying to reach everybody. But God says, Start in the hub; live in the hub. Then you will be connected with all the spokes, and you won't have to run so fast.

Nouwen adds, "Our little lives are small, human lives. But in the eyes of the One who calls us the beloved, we are great - greater than years we have. We will bear fruits, fruits that you and I will not see on this earth but in which we can trust."

Amen. On solitude. On Wisconsin (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

radio broadcasting


this is the first time i've ever listened to a radio broadcast of a game, and i am dying for a tv screen.

53 minutes in and ghana is up 2-1 against the usa.

oh the drama. oh the excitement.

mmm, mcbride!!! no slipping!!

okay, i can't write. my typing is too loud to hear the game fully in my office.

back to the game ... i mean, work.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lessons from Reality Bites

it was the fall of my freshman year when i saw reality bites on the big screen (cue ethan hawke's song, "i'm nuthin'"). i was only 14, and impressionable, and honestly believed that college graudation would bring glorious nights without homework, regular card game nights with friends, and relationship tensions that would finally resolve themselves in intimate and dramatic love affairs (only after days, weeks, months, spent agonizing over the heartache of temporarily unrequited love).

it's been four years since i left my college life behind and embarked on this 20-something journey. and while i haven't helped a gay roommate come out to his parents ("PFLAG, I'm beginning to like the sound of that") or racked up hundreds of dollars in phone bills to a psychic friend, i do feel a little of that reality bites flavor in my life.

i don't know where i'm going. i don't have a job. i have to buy a car. i've got couches and bookshelves and no where to put them in my new city. i'm navigating relationships.

i thought i had a pretty good start. i took this great job, and i made great friends, and i was moving forward. i moved to chicago and my world began to move. people around me were going places, i was going places. i moved right along with them. i got a hang of it. i challenged myself to move a little faster, a little more faster, c'mon, just a bit faster now ...

that's when i chose to change my life.

in the past few weeks, i've felt as though my world is suddenly slowing, and i'm unprepared to slow with it. kind of like when running along at a 8 minute mile pace on a treadmill when the thing abruptly slows your pace to a 17 minute mile.

i'm not sure if i asked god for this or if he initiated it, but i am confident that this slow pace is good.

so should i work my butt off to find another acceptable 401k, a job with easy hours ... should i rush into finding a permanent home where i'll give myself to my work for a paycheck that buys me cds and tapastries ... should i rush through these next few weeks? oh, no, no, no.

for just a little while, i need to channel my inner troy dyer:

Troy: One of these days I'm gonna wake up, before noon.
Lelaina: Yeah right.
Troy: I'm gonna turn on the tv and there Bryant Gumble will be and he'll say, 'Today we have with us the Pulitzer-prize winning documentarian Lelaina Pierce. Lelaina, after your first film, 'Why Barbie is Bad', you seemed to have forgotten all about your best friend, Troy Dyer.'
Lelaina: Troy... who? What was that name again? Oh, right through the heart!
Troy: I'll probably be working at Whole Foods you know, playing warehouses and hanging around places like the Radio Shack screaming that I used to know you and you'll be there in the lights and all beautiful and shit.
Lelaina: Oh, Troy, no no no no no, that would never happen. They'd never HIRE you at Whole Foods.
Troy:: See Lainy, this is all we need. A couple of smokes, a cup of coffee, and a little bit of conversation. You and me and five bucks.

Yep, I want that to be my summer.

God and me and five bucks. Jon and me and five bucks. My sisters and me and five bucks.

You and me and five bucks. Amen.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

real homelessness

i've been whining inside my head for quite a while.

okay, okay, and i've been whining out loud for quite a while, too.

since march, i've been anticipating my move north to madison. in all that time, the one thing i hoped i'd have settled is far from it. my lease is up in chicago in two weeks, and i will then be officially without a home.

i despaired.

the roommate situation seems to be falling through, and i don't have a job yet that would pay me enough for a one-bedroom, if that's even what i'd wanted. so it seems i might be, as jev mentioned recently, "couch-surfing" for a bit.

or absolutely homeless, as i expressed it to god in prayer, my fist reaching up and then falling on my bed. on my big comfy double bed covered in a pretty purply covered-duvet.

i cringe at the reality of my self-pity. do you know what my house looks like? it's beautiful. in my room alone, i have a computer that sits on my desk near bookshelves and candles and a stereo and lamps and an enormous cd rack. i have two couches and a tv and a coffee table and a pantry full of food.

i am not homeless. and the reality is i have friends who will put me up for a month until i find a place.

so i googled homelessness in america, because the last thing i want to do is deceive myself that this momentary lapse in rent-paying is the same thing as real homelessness, lest i think my suffering is so awful.

if you enter that phrase in google, you'll find that the first sponsored link to your right is from eBay. it looks like this:

Homelessness In America
Whatever you're looking for
you can get it on eBay.

sure, the linnk actually goes to book titles along those subject lines. but something struck me as very, very wrong about that little blurb. and not just because i hate that tagline: "whatever you're looking for, you can get in on eBay." (i guess i just disagree.)

anyway, the point is, i thought i'd offer some info about real homelessness excerpted from data listed on the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness (NPACH) website:

Lack of affordable housing leads the list of causes of homelessness identified by the city officials. Other causes cited, in order of frequency include low-paying jobs, mental illness and the lack of needed services, substance abuse and the lack of needed services, domestic violence, unemployment, poverty, and prisoner re-entry.

An average of 14 percent of the requests for emergency shelter by homeless people overall and 32 percent of the requests by homeless families alone are estimated to have gone unmet during the last year. In 88 percent of the cities, emergency shelters may have to turn away homeless families due to lack of resources; in 79 percent they may also have to turn away other homeless people.

Compared to other children, homeless children have twice as many ear infections, four times as many asthma attacks, five times more stomach problems, six times as many speech problems, and twice as many hospitalizations - inlcuding 60% more emergency room visits.

On average, to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, a family will have to work full-time at $15.37/hour, which is well beyond the earnings of low-income households.

this is homelessness. see for more information if you're interested in how you can help.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

i still think kat would like tequilla in her iced tea.

my neighbor lucas stopped in tonight to use our computer to fulfill the online portion of a class he's taking this summer. while he worked, i busied myself with laundry and bills, stopping for a second just to see if he needed anything to drink.

what do you have? he asked.

i opened the refrigerator and yelled out to him in the family room. i've got water, orange juice, some of kat's iced tea ...

iced tea, i'll take it, he said.

i'm not an iced tea person - even if kat does make hers of the southern style sweet tea variety which is essentially more lemonade than tea. there's still tea in there. and i don't like that.

but for some reason, i still felt inclined to pour myself a little glass, just to see if perhaps my taste buds had changed in the past few months. it was surprisingly thirst-quenching and sweet at first, but once the liquid left my mouth and descended down my throat, i felt a bit of a burning. this, i thought, is exactly why i don't like tea.

i gave lucas his glass and asked if he felt it burn a bit. no, he said, it just seemed awfully sweet. she must have put in way more lemonades than tea, he noted.

later, after a good long conversation about first boyfriends/girlfriends, first loves, break-ups and dumpings, he surprised me by heading to the fridge for another glass of this sweet, sweet iced tea.

as we chatted, he scrunched his face and insisted that kat spiked the tea. it burns right here, he said, pointing to his lungs. wow, yeah, this has GOT to be spiked.

a few minutes later, lucas headed downstairs to finish work for class and i began work on creating new playlists until erin got home. i laughed, telling her that kat must have done something REALLY weird to her iced tea because ...

"kat doesn't have any iced tea in the fridge," erin said. "that's my cleansing diet drink. it's a lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper concoction."

we laughed. i told lucas over IM what we had been drinking. ahh, if it's working to clean out erin's intestines and colon, we're hoping for the same results.

and maybe i'll try iced tea again in a few months, once this burning has left my lungs.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

oh! to be a free spirit!

it could have been the hour i spent working from home this morning, waking up slowly, sun pouring in on my well-rested body. it could have been the little online conversation i shared across the pond avec jared le francais before noon. it could have been the lunch i had with byron this afternoon, resting against those same concrete steps and talking about risks and danger and joy in decision-making. or it could have been the intimate hug eric gave me in the hallway, after i told him my summer plans included leaving my job and then doing god-knows-what. "that is the best news i've heard all day," he said. "how old are you?" 25, i said. "i was 25 when i left here, too." he smiled BIG. "really, i'm so excited for you. call me anytime you want."

it really doesn't matter. it's just that i feel propelled. i'm feeling sent. what a beautiful thing.

i feel so excited about taking off into the unknown. no, i don't really WANT to work again. i don't really want to be bound by anything. what i want is to sip a cappuccino out on a sidewalk cafe, light a cigarette (i'm not sure yet if i'd smoke it. i have to work up the courage for that), and scribble down my observations of the world around me, absorbing the environment, able to watch people closely because my gaze is shielded under the brim of my wide, warm-peach-colored hat.

oh! to be a free spirit!

god bless the day.


From last friday's Chicago Tribune Red Eye edition ....

"I'll give you that 40 is the new 30, and after twisting my arm, I'll grudgingly agree that, indeed, pink is the new black. But is it possible that Wisconsin can be the new ... Hollywood? ....

"Let's imagine if Wisconsin had lured away some great films shot in Chicago"

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Real Version: The kids play hooky from school to spend the day in Chicago, stealing daddy's vintage Ferrari.
Wisconsin Version: The kids play hooky from home-schooling to spend 20 minutes in Whitewater, stealing stepdaddy's horse and carriage.

The Blues Brothers:
Real Version: Jake and Elwood Blues get their blues band back together to save the orphanage where they grew up.
Wisconsin Version: Renamed "The Polka Sisters," Dottie, Louise, and Helga Polka get their polka band back together because, darn, they just miss the gals at the bingo halls.

The Fugitive:
Real Version: U.S. Marshals discover Dr. Richard Kimble is in Chicago by using the latest technology to break down a phone call he makes. The sound of "L" tracks in the background is unmistakable.
Wisconsin Version: U.S. Marshals discover farmer Richard Kimble is in Mequon by using the latest technology to break down a phone call he makes. The sound of cow tipping in the background is unmistakable."

Many thanks to Jimmy Greenfield for the laughs.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tell me who I am.

In his book The Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning writes, "We would be known as [Jesus's] followers not because we are chaste, celibate, honest, sober, or respectable; not because we are church-going, Bible-toting, or Psalm-singing: We would be recognized as disciples primarily by our deep and delicate respect for one another, our cordial love impregnated with reverence for the sacred dimension of the human personality."

Yesterday, a coworker and I took our lunches to the park across the street. There, reclining on the concrete steps by the Abe Lincoln statue, T asked me how things were going with my boyfriend.

"Tell me what he does again?" she inquired. "Youth ministry," I answered calmly, though still a bit nervously, afraid that sharing that fact in an environment quite unwelcome to anything affiliated with religion would sentence me to a month of loneliness in the office.

"Really," she responded thoughtfully. "I'd never have imagined you with someone in ministry."

Our conversation continued, though my mind kept drifting back to that thought: "I'd never have imagined you with someone in ministry." What does that mean?

I had to question her.

"I don't know," she said. "I guess I knew you were raised Catholic, but thought maybe you were just open to anything. I mean, I suppose I think maybe I'm the only one sitting at my desk, thinking about God, or the Creator, or any deity. I suppose I just never thought of anyone else in our office doing the same thing."

This afternoon, I received an invitation to fill out an application for a ministry position I'd sent my resume in for yesterday. The application requires that I ask my employer to fill out a reference form, and answer questions about how my faith affects my work (if applicable).

The point is, if I give it to my boss, I'll be discovered.

Is that awful?

I think I've been loving at work. I think I've really cared about people and taken the time to get to know them because I sense even just a bit of how much God loves them. But my love doesn't seem to tell people that I'm a Christian.

Here's the thing. I'm not a regular church-goer. I'm in and out of town pretty often and don't feel like I've had a church home in all the 4 years I've been here. My bible study broke up years ago. And I don't wear cross jewelry or a WWJD bracelet.

So if I ask my boss to fill out a reference for me, it'll be evident at last. And I fear what he'll think of me. I fear he'll think that I'm all of the bad stereotypes of Christians. I fear he'll think I'm selling myself short for "church work," or that he'll wonder if I'm damning him to hell, or if he'll pity me for considering a position that elicits so little respect from the world at large.

I'm filtering through a slew of questions in my head. Do I want all the glory? Do I want to be the one who helps the "poor" missionaries? Is having a mission-related job something that makes your parents disappointed? Do I desire the approval and applause of others more than that of God?

When I re-read that Manning quote, and realize that maybe no one knows in my office that I am my Beloved's and He is mine, I can't help but ask God if He knows it. Does He know that I'm trying to follow him?

Honestly, yes. That's enough.

I wonder if I need to end this and say that I think as long as God knows that I love him and I'm trying, that I don't need to do anything else. I can't flaunt the characteristics of Christ, and I don't want to carry a big bible all the way to the office just to set it at the top of my purse in case someone happens to glance at it.

I can let go of my fear. God knows me.

God knows me! God knows me!
(This excites me).

If He knows that I'm following him, there is nothing else I have to do. I think people will see Him in us when He wants them to. I like that. Cause then it's not all about me. It's all about Him.

It's much better that way anyhow.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

a day at the zoo

there's probably a list in my room somewhere noting all the places i should visit while i'm still living in chicago and if i ever found it, i'm sure i'd find the brookfield zoo on there.

so i'm checking it off on my imaginary list because erin and i visited the zoo today with melanie, andy, and john.

now, to be honest, i'm not a big zoo fan because a) the smell coming from some of those indoor exhibits stinks like all nastiness, b) the gorillas - of all the animals - look particularly unhappy being showcased as they are, and c) it's too crowded. if i'm gonna stare at animals, i want to stare for awhile, study them, you know? not nod my head to god's handiwork with the zebra, throw up the peace sign and move to the next cage.

but erin really wanted to go today, and it was gorgeous outside, and the brookfield zoo is pretty dang cool.

my absolute favorite animal is the lion. i like his mane. if i were an animal, i'm pretty sure that's who i'd be. we have similar hair. but also because he is a breathtaking animal. the face, the eyes, oh, everything. that is one magnificent creature.

and until i see a zebra, i always forget how remarkable they are. i mean, c'mon! who could have come up with that? they're beautiful.

and this is just for joel and his book, giraffes? giraffes! that he so gleefully shared with joanna et al yesterday afternoon. the book is a very useful guide to learning about giraffe culture. take this excerpt, for example:

You are so behind on giraffes that it's rather embarrassing and you obviously need this book more than health insurance. Things you probably don't know about giraffes - and can only be found in this book - include giraffes' perferred mode of transportation (conveyor belt), what their bodies are made of (paper mache, a clock, fruit juices, and a super-strong lightweight titanium alloy), where most giraffes live (Terra Huate, Indiana - known for many things, including buildings made of wood and ground made of dirt), and basic giraffe history (in 50,000 B.C., giraffes began to hang out with primitive man, they found him to be likeable and helped him paint buffaloes in caves).

Having learned so much yesterday, I felt much better equipped to appreciate the giraffes at the zoo today. For example, had I not read the book, I might have been foolish enough to ask one of the zookeepers how fast giraffes run. But since the book, I know better that giraffes have tried to "phase out running from their lives, but if they had to, they could still run much faster than you. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that they can run 780 mph."

The zookeeper seemed quite impressed when I confessed my expansive knowledge of giraffes. I wonder if Madison's Vilas Zoo is looking for a giraffe expert. Maybe that's my new calling ...

Anyhow, the zoo is a fine place. But I do wish, like my old pastor, that we'll actually get to be near the animals and hang out with them. Cause seeing them through bars is so sad. And when the only interaction you get with animals at the zoo is when they poop on you (see Melanie scraping the bird poop out of Andy's head), it just doesn't feel as sweet and wonderful as say, curling up with a lion and a good book might be. I'm just saying ...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I'll Post Something Good Soon.

During the winter, I'd consider waking up naturally anytime before 8:30 to be a curse. In the summer, however, it's quite a different story.

While I'm sure my rousing at a quarter to 7 this morning had more to do with the noise Kat was making as she pulled her things together and lugged her suitcase downstairs to the cab waiting below to shuttle her off to the airport, I felt rather delighted to be awakened so early. Not only did it allow me to escape the awful dream I had been having, but it gave me the opportunity to rejoice over the sunlight pouring through my bedroom windows and acknowledge that - here in my city apartment, with the sounds of passing cars and fire engines competing with the calls of birds and children - creation is indeed good.

I do love mornings - especially quiet mornings like this one. I often wish I had a east-facing porch where I could bring my toast and coffee and book and breathe deeply for awhile, stretch my back and my legs, and be thankful. I imagine everyone else in my house slowly filtering out as they please. No one in any rush.

I don't know how often that happens when you have a family. What with games and playdates and picking girls up from sleepovers and running errands to pick up eggs and milk ... I understand that life gets busy. I know.

Yesterday, I picked up National Geographic's June issue on "Why the World Loves Soccer." With the World Cup closesly upon us and a boyfriend pretty geeked about it all, I figured it was time I got it straight. I flipped through the magazine on the bus, learning about the first World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay and that a 1990 match between Zagreb's Dinamo and Belgrade's Red Star may have marked the beginning of Croatia's war for independence. But the thing that caught my eye was a rather personal article entiteld, "Solace at Surprise Creek," an essay detailing the lives of Hutterites in Montana.

"Live simply, share everything, and trust in God," is their motto.

It sounds good, but I'd never want to be a Hutterite. Which is fine by them, I think. They don't encourage converts. An excerpt reads:

"You're wastin' your time," Darius says gruffly into the phone [to the man from Texas who has called several times, persistently seeking to join the colony]. "It's hard enough if you're born a Hutterite. I got guys breakin' the rules all the time. We don't do it and that's that. There don't need to be any 'How come?'"

But the community continues to grow. Nevermind that there is "little place here for individualism in dress, thought, or other personal rights most Americans treasure," the community, I think, offers other things many of us lack: a sense of belonging and work that produces somthing tangible, to name just a couple.

I ran into my coworker's boyfriend on the way out of the office last night, and he asked about my last day, etc., and then finally got around to the dreaded "What are you going to do when you get there?"

I teeter back and forth on this question. Sometimes, particularly with my much older coworkers and friends, I feel confident saying that I have no plan, that I just want to take some time off out of office space. They cheer me on and encourage it. And I feel affirmed in my decision. Other times, I'll tell someone in their 40s or someone my age, and perhaps it's not even in the words they speak in response, but in their tone of voice and the heights of their eyebrows: "You don't have a plan? No Plan B? What do you mean, 'vacation'?"

It's my own fault that I want to be such a people-pleaser and just tell them what they want to hear. That, yes, I do have a plan and I'm looking into grad schools and making connections with uber-successful paper-pushers and checking out what companies have the best 401Ks.

But this is not how I feel. There is no part of me that wants to sit behind a desk and stare into a computer, waiting, waiting to answer questions and pick up phones. No. I cannot do it. It's inhumane. I start to think about the Hutterites baking pies, chopping heads off poultry, shoveling feed and straw, and I admire it a bit.

I just don't want to make it my life goal simply to impress other people or please my parents or brag about my great benefits. I don't.

I suppose I could start freaking out. But I want this month free of that. I want a month to think about what I want to do. Who I want to be. I know there are warnings - you should get a job right away before - pow! - it's been 7 months and you still haven't found a job. But what happened to valuing thought and reflection?

This is a diatribe. Forgive me. It's been too long since I've written in my journal so you're getting the brunt of my neuroticism. My apologies. Just thinking out loud.