Monday, November 26, 2007

If You Are What You Eat...

If you are what you eat:

- I am three slices of apple pie a day for the past 5 days
- I am enough cranberry sauce shaped like a can to equal the amount of sugar in 24 donuts
- I am the dressing that's being stealth-fully eaten out of the tupperware in the kitchen when no one is looking
- I am the bottle of wine that's been finished off singlehandedly over the past few days
- I am the apples that slid out when the apple pie was being sliced that were quickly rescued from their lonely place on the pie plate
- I am the half gallon of milk to accompany all the pie
- I am the sweet potato casserole that tastes even better as a leftover
- I am full.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Lately I've been reading a book, by one of my favorite authors, called Nineteen Minutes. Jodi Picoult is, in my opinion, a brilliant author, a master of character development, an artist of phrasing and storytelling. My favorite thing about her books is that she always takes a topic that we think of as black and white and she opens the curtains to shed a different light on the subject, a light that reveals the many shades of gray that we seldom stop to ponder. (Disclaimer: Any readers who have a weak stomach for harsh language will want to look elsewhere for your next read.) In this particular book, Picoult takes a school shooting, much like Columbine, and tells the story from all the possible angles, turns it around in her hand as one might examine an old toy for the first time, looking at it with new eyes.

The author, without excusing the actions of the shooter, lays out for the reader the tapestry of Peter's life, and we find that humiliation and degredation have been woven throughout. From his first day on the school bus in Kindergarten to his atrocious acts his Junior year of high school, we see the tearing down of his pride, the slow erosion of his self-worth brought on by the constant barrage of bullying Peter endures as he goes through his everyday routines, trying to become invisible.

Particularly striking to me is the relationship that is depicted between Peter (the shooter) and his mother. Thinking about becoming a mother myself somewhere down the road, the story has softened my heart in an almost uncomfortable way. My sensitivity is heightened, my eyes opened to the smallest actions and interactions that shape the course of our lives, that slowly but surely form us into the people we become.

This weekend while babysitting I took one of the girls to her volleyball game. It was her turn to serve and, after the ball sailed over the net and landed safely on the other side, she looked to me and caught my eye for approval. I smiled and nodded - a silent message, "I see you. I am proud of you." Something about that interchange sent a bittersweet pang through my heart. This particular girl has been through a lot for her young age and I was struck in that moment by her thirst for affirmation, humbled that I had the opportunity to offer it to her in that one small instance. I thought of the children who look to the stands for a nod of approval and don't catch the eye of a loved one, who see instead an empty seat where a busy parent should be sitting, who see a parent who is physically present but distracted by other things, too busy to see, to acknowledge. Thanks to Picoult, I was swept away in that moment as I realized how all of the small, seemingly insignificant things are the essence of the bigger things, the slight winds that alter our course and lead us in a very different direction, the small streams that steadily work to form a canyon where there once was none.

I thought of Peter and his mother, of all of the people in the world and all of the mothers who love them. I thought of how fragile we all are, of how vulnerable we are to the people around us, the way we are treated, the events that shape our lives. I prayed for my future children, for all of the things I will be helpless to protect them against, for all of the things I can do to be the wind that steers them in the right direction, the whisper of hope in a world of setbacks and disappointments. We are so fragile. All we can do is strive to tip the balance, to be fully present in each moment and offer our truest selves to each other, to listen and give a voice to those who speak, to be the ones who heal instead of hurt, who bless instead of curse. The rest is trust.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Wonders of Soap

Have you ever thought about soap? I mean, really stopped and thought about it? For some reason, it's one of those strange things I think about a lot.

First of all, what is it? Sure, now we can get it at Bath and Body Works and pump it out in liquid form from a dispenser that assures us of its antibacterial properties (which I feel confused about because I think I've read that if you use antibacterial soap too often, your body won't build up an immunity to germs and bacteria. Anybody medical know the real story behind this?) But what did it used to be made of? Animal fat or something? Honestly, I can't understand how rubbing a block of animal fat on your hands is supposed to make them clean. Maybe it wasn't animal fat - I may just be revealing my ignorance about all things "soap." I know glycerin is or was at one time a component in soap. But then again, I don't have a clue what glycerin is (apart from a Bush song that I've never really liked). No matter what it's made of, it leads me to my second big point about soap:

Why do we trust soap more than anything else in the world? Think about it. A mom changes a poopie diaper and only minutes later is cutting up the veggies for dinner. How can that be? Soap. A surgeon pumps gas in his car and then drives to work and holds someone's heart in his hands. Soap. (Yes, and latex gloves, but still...) A Papa John's employee takes a bathroom break and then returns to the kitchen to toss our dough in the air. Soap. (We can only hope.) We will do the most disgusting things and then touch things that we (or other people) will be putting into their mouths, and we never give it a second thought because of soap.

The level of trust we put in this stuff simply amazes me! We never go around worrying that the soap didn't get the job done (except for those of us that are OCD). We just scrub-a-dub-dub and go along our merry way. I can't think of anything we trust as much. And yet I don't know how it works. I don't know how God works, either, and yet I find that I often trust him less than a bar of soap. A brick of something with glycerin (perhaps) and who knows what else? How embarrassing, really. I guess one big difference is that soap is pretty predictable. It's always supposed to do the same thing (and if it's not doing it's job, none of us will really know the difference since bacteria are microscopic). So maybe that's why it's easier to trust soap than the Creator of the Universe.

I'll get off my soap box now...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Planning My Own Funeral

For some unknown reason, I have recently been strangely fascinated by my impending death. Not that I'm wanting my life to end any time soon, but I just spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about things like this. I think it may stem from my utter lack of imagination when it comes to my future. Growing up, I couldn't imagine leaving my family and going off to college. I became convinced that, since I couldn't picture it, Christ was simply going to come back before I reached that point in my life. In fact, my brothers and I would wish each other goodnight each evening by saying, "Sleep well - maybe Jesus will come tonight!" Well, high school came and went, and no sign of Jesus' return. Eventually, getting married replaced leaving for college as the thing I couldn't envision for myself. Surely Jesus will come back before I get married - I just can't picture it!

As you're all aware, the last trumpet call has not yet sounded and here I am, happily married for almost six years. Up until this point I never thought about my death - I just thought that the world would end before major events could happen in my life. I guess I've become a little less egocentric in my thinking since then, because I have abandoned this notion of the armageddon fitting any timeline related to me. However, my imagination about the future hasn't improved at all - instead of thinking Christ will return before (fill in the blank) I think, "Surely I will die before (fill in the blank)" I can't imagine having children and getting to be a mother - I wonder if I will make it that long or if I'll be taken out in some freak accident?

A few weeks ago, disturbed by my preoccupation with my own death, I tried to determine what it is that leaves me so convinced that things that happen to everyone else around the world couldn't be experienced by me. I think it all comes down to a sense I have that my life is too good to be true. I don't even believe in "too good to be true," but there's some sick part of my subconscious that tells me to be careful about getting too comfortable because it could all be taken from me in an instant. Meeting and marrying the love of my life was too good to be true, but it happened nonetheless. Having children with this man seems WAY too good to be true, which may be why I just can't imagine it. I can't believe that something so completely wonderful would happen to me, even though wonderful things have been happening my whole life. It just seems crazy that any one person should get to be so blessed.


Since I've spent so much time thinking about my eventual death, I have of course considered what I would want for my funeral. Following are two versions - the dramatic version and the realistic one.

Dramatic Version:

It's my 100th birthday. All of my friends and family (which consists of beautiful children and many, many grandchildren, as well as a few greatgrandchildren) have come into town to celebrate the occasion. I am confined to my bed but am still sprightly and in my right mind - there's nothing sickly about me, but I'm just old - I'm 100 years old for goodness sake! We have a wonderful visit together and there's lots of singing going on as everyone is gathered around my bed in the sunny spacious room. Finally, they bring in the birthday cake (I haven't yet decided on the flavor, but I have about 72 more years to come up with something...) and I blow out the candles. I eat each delectable bite with all of the enjoyment of my younger years. After the cake, I set my plate down and gather everyone around me. I take turns looking my loved ones in the eyes as I make a grand speech about life and love and all things important - with all of the wisdom afforded me by my 100 years on this earth. After I have shared my heart with everyone, I lean back, breathe a deep sigh, and die with a smile on my face.

My family takes me down to the shoreline (the ocean would be preferable, but I'd settle for a large lake) and lays me on a wooden raft. They say a prayer over my frail body and place a bouquet of flowers in my hands. I am wearing a dress of a color that brings a glow to my cheeks, even as my life has left me. A small symphony (maybe a string quartet or something) plays on the beach as they shove the raft off into the water. The music soars as the setting sun illuminates the water, my body becoming smaller and smaller as it drifts into the distance. An archer takes an arrow and, lighting it on fire, releases it from the bow. It soars over the water and sinks into the wood of my funeral pyre. My loved ones watch from the shoreline, tears in their eyes, rejoicing at the thought of my spirit ascending to be with the Lord at last.

Realistic Version:

I have changed my mind about this. The dramatic version sounds so darn wonderful, I'm just going to imagine that as the way it's going to go. If for some reason it doesn't go down exactly like that, what will I care? I'll be in heaven...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Make it a Great Day

So I started my new job two weeks ago today. For the first few days I felt like I was the brunt of some sick joke, where there's lots to do and everyone knows the rules but me. I do NOT like being uninformed, nor do I like wasting time (at work, anyway), so I can hardly stand the combination of the two that leaves me feel ineffectual and ignorant. Each day of the first two weeks, I would wake up and give myself a pep talk that went something like this, "I am going to learn so much today. I will only get better at this. I will never again be as unqualified for this as I am in this moment." Thankfully, I believed myself each day, and the thought that the only place to go is up really inspired me and helped me reconcile myself to the ugly truth that I am not yet an expert at what I am doing. I suppose it's a good thing, because how pathetic would it be if I went and got my master's to prepare me for this job and then I figured out everything there is to know in the first ten days? That would be sad. Thank goodness that is far from the case.

Amidst a few late nights of working and the crazy busyness (for the first week, I spent most of my time just making lists of all of the things I needed to accomplish - forget about actually accomplishing anything) I must admit that there have been some moments of sheer desperation. Moments when I thought, I am not smart enough for this job, I am not qualified, I am NEVER going to knock out this to-do list. I hate feeling like that (as I'm sure everyone does!) and when those storm-cloud thoughts came on, I tried to quickly rein in my thinking and cast it in a more positive light, because I'm one of those corny people who strongly believes that, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." (I don't know who said that and I'm much too tired to look it up, but I wholeheartedly agree!) I think our perceptions of ourselves significantly shape our possibilities, which is probably the reason optimism is so dear to my heart.

Yesterday I was calling a parent to set up a meeting and her voicemail message ended with, "Make it a great day." I hung up and thought about that for a few seconds before getting back to the frantic pace that is my new job. I'd heard it before, of course, but in light of my recent struggle to remain sane (and positive) it took on a new meaning. We can't just wake up and sail through each day expecting things to fall perfectly in place, throwing tantrums each time we don't get our way. Our moods cannot be shaped only by our circumstances, or you'd rarely see people smile at one another. No, we have to wake up each day and decide to MAKE it a great day. For me, that means taking a deep breath and a different perspective when I hit a snag at my new job. It means I take time to enjoy the sunrise for a moment when I get caught at a long light. It means I can take comfort in the underlying peace and hope that pervades my life even when the monotony of day-to-day life buzzes around my spirit like a fly circling round a picnic table.

I'm glad I didn't get a hold of that mother so I could hear that message. Now all I have to do is spend the rest of my life making each day truly great.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Things I Wish I'd Never (A Miniseries)

Things I Wish I'd Never Done:

While this particular post topic could take me ages to cover, I have narrowed all of the things I wish I'd never done down to one thing: the one worst thing I have ever done. It is with deep regret that I recount this story, as it grieves me to relive it in my mind and it reveals to the world (or at least the handful of people who actually read this) what a terrible person I truly am.

To tell this sad story, I must first set the stage. My family had worked together to build a house on a hilltop in Fredericksburg, Texas (this has nothing to do with the story except for the fact that we lived on a hill.) I was a Junior in high school and was the head drum major of the marching band, "The Pride of the Texas Hill Country". Although in some places this might qualify me as a nerd, this position was rather revered in this quaint Texas town (at least by the band geeks!) and I believed myself to have some sort of special social status (or at least the power to blow my whistle and start 150 some odd people marching across a football field...) My brother Garrett, the poor victim in this harrowing tale, was a Freshman at the time. He was into shopping at thrift stores and was a lowly trumpet in the marching band. Each morning I left extra early for school in order to unlock the band hall and make sure everything was right with the world before the school day began. Plus, it was the "cool" thing to do to hang out with your friends in the band hall until first period, and I was into all things cool at the time. My father was a teacher at our high school and always came to school in his car about 20 minutes behind me. So that's the background. Now my tale of woe shall begin...

It was a morning just like any other. I was ready for the day and was about to head out the door with Garrett, who always rode to school with me so that he, too, could hang out in the band hall. I called up to him from the foot of the stairs to let him know his ride was leaving. And that's when it happened. He tromped down the stairs in an outfit that was unacceptable to my preppy high school eyes. I looked him over: dark blue T-shirt with the word SPAM printed in bright yellow on the front, light blue thrift store slacks, and finally, black army boots. It was then that I was possessed by the evil spirit of teenage sisterhood. "Is THAT what you're wearing?!" Garrett did not see my point of view and he headed back up to his room. I would like to say that, vain as it sounds, I was looking out for my little brother's best interest by keeping him from wearing what I considered to be a fashion abomination, but that would be a lie. What I really cared about was not having to show up at school and walk into the band hall with a fashion abomination trailing behind me. Well, maybe it was a bit of both, but at any rate I was not going to wait around any longer to give this walking fashion faux pas a ride to school.

I headed to the car and took off down the hill. (Remember, I wasn't leaving him without a ride, because Dad would be leaving shortly with the second shuttle.)

It was later that day when I saw Garrett in band that I found out how sad this story really was, how horribly black and evil my heart was, that I was the WORST sister in the world. Garrett entered the band hall and - gasp! - he was NOT wearing the SPAM outfit!!!

He walked over and, still in an understandably sour mood, said, "Why'd you leave me?"
"I left you because you were taking too long and it was time for me to leave."
"The reason it took me so long was that I went upstairs to change. I came running down the hill after you but you just left me."

It still sends daggers through my heart to think of that moment of revelation. The revelation that this poor guy had actually LISTENED to his snotty sister and was trying to appease her (even though looking back he had a MUCH better fashion sense and was actually able to pull off what he wore by his sheer coolness). The revelation that I had gone off and LEFT him, my first friend in life and one of my best friends in the world. The revelation that I was a shallow mess with no hope of being truly cool - a wannabe - and that I had wounded my brother with my hurtful words and judgmental attitude. I have never felt so low, so worthless, so much like a fraud, as in that moment.

Years later, Garrett and I laugh together about this event. But even if I can laugh about it, there's still a part of me that cries inside as I picture what I would have seen had I looked in the rearview mirror - the sweetest boy, in different clothes, running down the hill after the car, wondering why I'm leaving him when he did all that I asked him to, even though it wasn't my place to ask.

I wish I could go back to the foot of the stairs. I wish I could have applauded him for being different and daring rather than taunted him for refusing to be a clone like myself, like so many teenagers just trying to fit in.

I'm sorry, Garrett. I wish I'd never...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Things I Wish I'd Never... (a miniseries)

Things I Wish I'd Never Eaten:

1) On the way back from my grandparent's ranch near College Station, my family stopped at Texas Burger for a meal. (They might have these things other places, but in case not, Texas Burger is exactly what it sounds like it would be - a burger joint that's a few steps up from Burger King but not quite as exciting as Fuddruckers - if you consider Fuddruckers to be exciting, which I don't.) Anyway, after the burgers we decided to treat ourselves to some ice cream before hitting the road. I was quite thrilled because they serve Blue Bell at Texas Burger and in my way of thinking, it doesn't get much better than that. I strolled up and down the ice cream counter carefully weighing my options and finally decided on Strawberry Cheesecake, the "special of the day." It was just as delicious as it sounds and I gobbled it right up in my sugar cone, glad I had branched out a bit from Homemade Vanilla and tried a new flavor. My brother Garrett had also ordered Strawberry Cheesecake. (Here's a tidbit to know - to this day, any time I'm eating somewhere with Garrett I HAVE to order the same thing he does, or I'm inevitably jealous of what he ordered. It makes things really simple because I don't have to decide what to get, and since he is a consistently good orderer, I'm rarely disappointed. So, come to think of it, maybe I didn't decide on Strawberry Cheesecake and simply took his lead like the lemming I am...)

Anyway, we had a delightful car trip and got home just in time to hit the sack. Or so we thought. Instead, Garrett and I stayed up most of the night puking our guts out. Yes, the "daily special" was apparently not so special after all, but rather was the culprit of our distress. Since that day, a spoonful of Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream has never darkened the door of my mouth. And I'm extremely suspicious of restaurants trying to unload their soon-to-be-expired/oops - we should have thrown this out yesterday dairy products onto unsuspecting customers under the guise of a "special." There ain't nothin' special about that.

2) About a year ago, K and I decided to go out to lunch at a new Thai place in town. We love Thai food and were very excited as we entered the restaurant and discovered a surprisingly beautiful atmosphere. I say surprising because this place is smack-dab in the middle of a strip mall, so I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of a hole-in-the-wall than the lavish decor we discovered when we stepped from the bright afternoon sun into the dimly lit elegance of the large room. We were the only customers, but since it was 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon I didn't find that very unusual. Surely no one had discovered this jewel of a restaurant... We were escorted to a lovely little table and the first thing that came out was our water. As often happens in town around this time of year, the water reeked of - well, I don't quite know what it is, but it reminds me of lake water. (I picture the boaters out on the lakes enjoying the summer, churning up the murky bottom and somehow getting silt into our drinking supply. I know this doesn't make sense scientifically, and I've since heard that it's due to some sort of algae bloom, but you get the point - this water is NASTY.) I asked for a bowl of lemons, as I often do at restaurants, and found myself squeezing each slice down to a pulp in an attempt to make this water taste a bit more like lemons and a bit less like lake. When I commented to the waitress about the water (in attempt to make friendly conversation about what happens to the city's water this time of year) she seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. I thought: either she doesn't speak enough English to know what I just said, she hasn't been in town for a year yet and doesn't know that this happens every summer, or she thinks this water is acceptably tasty. I hoped it was one of the first two assumptions.

When they brought out the menus, it really drove the point home that this was NOT a hole-in-the-wall. Yikes-a-moley!!! I instantly wanted to get up and leave, not wanting to spend our eating-out budget for the whole weekend on this one meal, but K would never be that rude, so we stayed. We ordered Pad Thai, a standard menu item at most Thai restaurants and one we had become fond of at some of our favorite haunts. When it came out, I caught the first whiff and my nostrils flared. (In actuality, my nostrils cannot flare, but if they could have, they would have.) My first thought - dog food. Oh my gosh, this smells just like dog food. How am I going to eat this? Surely this will not taste like it smells. Bravely, I spun a few noodles onto my fork and lifted this pungent pile to my mouth for the first bite. The moment it hit my tongue, I knew things were not going to turn out well. Embarassingly, my gag reflex took over. I sat for a few horrifying seconds trying to decide what to do with this mound of manure in my mouth. Would my body allow me to swallow? As it turns out, it would not. I leaned over and, with an effort to be graceful, spit it out onto my plate.

Since I'm not three years old, this was extremely humiliating. I am about the least picky eater I know, and I have never been known to spit anything out other than the occasional gristle in my meat. Gristle, yes - but noodles? How can anyone ruin noodles? K apparently has the ability to put mind over matter, because he had somehow managed to swallow his first bite. He even took a couple more bites, trying to be polite while commenting the whole time on how grotesque this meal was. I just sat there breathing through my mouth, unable to take in the dog food odor while I stared at my pile of noodles and the smaller pile of rejected food sitting on my plate. I wanted to send it back to the kitchen, tell them it was gross and I couldn't eat it, get my money back and go out to eat elsewhere for dinner. But K is entirely too nice for that. We asked for our check and tried not to notice the confused looks on the faces of the staff (all attention was focused on us, mind you, as we were the only customers dining) as we turned down their offer for a to-go box and left nearly all of our noodles (and literally all, in my case) sitting on our plates.

The most painful part, aside from the gagging, was the knowledge that we had just turned over good money for nothing. We were still hungry, only we couldn't go out to eat anywhere else. We ended up at home eating sandwiches or something equally disappointing. Yep, that's got to be at the top of my list of things I wish I'd never eaten.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What Are the Chances?

So last Wednesday K and I were at the park where our church was holding this family function. We had signed up to help out and had been put in charge of the tug of war event. Sadly, this was set up over the rock-hard patches of dirt that make up most of the park grounds, so the few kiddos that braved this event inevitably walked away holding their bruised arms and bemoaning their newly inflicted injuries under their breaths.

Before the event started, we headed across to the pavilion to get some water. I had been at school all day and was sick of sitting down, so as we walked I said, "I'm so glad to be standing." K got a funny look on his face and, once we were on the other side of the pavilion, took me aside and said, "You have rather unfortunate timing." I, of course, had no clue what he was talking about. Apparently while I was remarking on how joyous it was to be standing, I was walking right past a woman with one leg sitting in a wheelchair.

What are the chances?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What I Wish

I wish I could shrink down to the size of a grasshopper (but still be me) and...

...climb into a warm peach cobbler. I'd roll around in the warm cobbler juices and take in the aroma of fresh peaches and brown sugar. I'd perch on a peach slice and alternate between bites of spongy cobbler crust and soft peaches until I was full and sleepy, my eyelids growing heavy - that delightful Sunday afternoon feeling. Then I'd take a peach slice in my arms and cradle it like a warm pillow. I'd drift off to sleep and dream of orchards and sunshine. I'd awake to the sound of fresh cream being poured over my luscious bed and I'd take a swim, enjoying the cool cream on my face as it contrasts the warmth of the peaches.

...tear open a warm Sister Schubert dinner roll. It would take all my effort to pry it apart, but the feel of the dough tearing, giving way between my struggling arms, would make me that good kind of tired. I'd climb inside and wrap myself in the warmth, let it close on me as if I were a pat of melting butter. Of course, this would make me sleepy, so I'd take a nap. When I woke up, I would tear off a giant mound from the very center of the roll - the softest part of all - and it would fill my arms as if I were carrying a giant cloud. I'd stroll down the hill and sit beside the Butter River, setting my yeasty load down beside me on the cool grass. Bit by bit, I'd tear pieces from the roll and dip them into the river, not caring about the melted butter dribbling down my chin as I indulged in my after-nap snack. I'd spend the whole afternoon there, listening to the birds chirp, closing my eyes to relish the cool spring breeze as it lifts my hair from my shoulders.

Yes, that's what I wish.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Like an Elephant

Has everyone heard of that new reality show "The Singing Bee?" I have yet to see it, but this thing is right up my alley. I have always prided myself in knowing all of the words to every song on the radio. Lyrics just make the song for me, so it's important for me to know them ALL. Of course, there is the occasional exception - Sweet Home Alabama is one of my all-time favorites and not only do I not know all the words, I don't even care what they are because I feel confident that they are not profound... I just love to belt out the chorus and enjoy the great guitar riffs. But I digress...

The other day while driving I started daydreaming about myself being on the show. My heart actually started pounding as I pictured myself standing on the stage in front of millions, putting my lyrical expertise on the line for the big bucks. I realized that more than winning the cash, I just want to prove that I know all of the lyrics. What if they played a song I didn't know? I'd be so humiliated! I blew a huge lead in the 800m run at my 8th grade district track meet and sometimes I still lay in bed thinking about what I could have done differently to win. (I shouldn't have run that 1st lap at quarter speed!!!) I realize that this is a personal problem and I need to just let it go. This is why I can never enter a contest like this. I'm simply too competitive. But just for kicks, I'm driving down the road rehearsing for The Singing Bee - just in case. I quickly recall several songs with tricky lyrics and rattle them off to make sure I would be ready when the music stopped. Yep, I know that one, that one, that one. Boy, am I good.

And then I begin to think of some songs I did not have the correct lyrics to. The first that comes to mind:

"I get knocked down
Like an elephant
You're never gonna keep me down..."

Of course, these guys weren't singing "like an elephant." Any who remember this jazzy hit probably know the true lyrics, and there is no mention of an elephant in this song.

Then there's the classic song Kyrie Elaison. Don't remember it?

Kyrie Elaison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Elaison through the darkness of the niiiight...

Come on, now, did ANYBODY know these were the lyrics? I always sung it:

Carrying a laser down the road that I must travel...

The guy is on a mission. It's dark, it's scary, he's carrying a laser. Carrying a laser down the road that he must travel - I mean, you never know when a light saber is going to come in handy.

And then, for you Church of Christers out there, there are always the hymns gone wrong. I don't have any personal stories about mondegreens (I just learned that this is the official word for misheard lyrics in songs) when it comes to church songs, but here are some of my favorites I've heard through the years:

Now let us have a little chocolate Jesus
Let us tell him all about our troubles...

Low in the gravy lay
Jesus my savior...

Well, you get the point. I'm sleepy now, so I'm going to stop this ceaseless rambling. If any of you out there would like to share your own mondegreens, I'd LOVE to hear them! Goodnight, and be careful out there. I don't want anyone getting knocked down like an elephant (especially if you're not carrying a laser)...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Why I'm Glad I'm Not a Pioneer

Tonight while I was getting ready for bed and adjusting the faucet to just the right temperature for washing my face, I thought of the pioneers for some reason. Probably because I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie as a child, but every now and then it occurs to me how amazingly easy we have it, how convenient everything is for us these days. I mean, not only did the early settlers not have a faucet for getting their water to the perfect temperature, they didn't even have running water in the house. They had to go to the creek or the well or something and then haul it up to the house. And then I'm guessing they had to brace themselves to wash their faces with cold water, or heat it on the stove and then wait until just the right moment in the cooling process in hopes that it would be warm. Probably lots of them just gave up and didn't bother washing their faces before they went to bed.

This got me thinking about outhouses and what a pain it was just to go to the bathroom (just thinking of the unsanitary conditions makes me want to run for the Clorox!) Yesterday I went to flush the toilet and the handle did that thing where it just gives up and slumps down like a kid who's in trouble. I took the lid off immediately, proud of myself for understanding the simple workings of a toilet, prepared to reach down into that water and reconnect the chain that had become disconnected from the flusher dealie (see my extensive knowledge about toilets?). Only, when I lifted the lid, I discovered that that plastic piece that connects the chain to the flusher dealie had snapped in half! This was, of course, disappointing, because now I would have to go in search of a new flusher-dealie connector piece. humph. K and I meant to get around to getting this piece today, but the day got away from us and here we are a whole day later, lifting the lid off the toilet each time we need to flush. The logical part of my brain reminds me that this water has never actually come in contact with the toilet bowl. "Go ahead, reach into it!" it tells me. "It's clean, it's clean, it's clean!" However, the OCD part of my brain says, "You are now reaching into toilet water. Water on the inside of a toilet. Do NOT let your wrist enter this water. Unclean! Unclean!!!" My brain seems to have worked out a compromise: the logical part coaches me through the reaching into the water to grab the chain part, and the OCD part insists that I wash my hands at least twice in quick succession after completing this task.

Tomorrow we will track down a new plastic piece, and in a couple of days, this disgusting little routine will be a distant memory. My brain will go back to thinking about more important things. Until then, I'll pretend that I'm a pioneer, braving the elements. I always thought I would have made a great pioneer. I would like to go on thinking that, but I must admit that my standards for bravery are quite a bit lower than they would need to be if I had to head out into the night and risk running into a rattlesnake on my way to the outhouse...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What I Learned in Class Yesterday

So I spend most of my days sitting in class now, whittling the hours away. The first day of my July short course was Monday and I was almost bored to tears (or sleep, rather). I wanted to get something from the vending machine during the break, but all I had was a fifty dollar bill and a five dollar bill that I got from selling two books back - yippee! I don't know that I've ever had a fifty dollar bill in my purse before...

Anyway, in hopes of waking myself up I went into the stairwell and walked down and back up 5 flights of stairs. Apart from being the only exercise I've gotten this month it didn't do much good. I was still on the verge of a boredom-induced coma the entire 3 and a half hours of the class.

On Tuesday I came prepared. Well, not really, but I just kind of lucked out. On my lunch break in between classes I ran into the vending machine restocking guy in the break room. He was nice and we had some good times while I ate my turkey sandwich and he made sure there were plenty of animal crackers in the machines. Then I had a wonderful thought - this guy can break my five!!! Sure enough, he had a handy-dandy little pouch of ones. So we traded and I had five wonderful little dollar bills that promised to save me from my afternoon stupor.

I excitedly purchased some Skittles and headed up to the 5th floor for another fun-filled afternoon of Special Ed. Law. While others were frantically taking notes and attending to the power points, I was strategizing about the best way to make use of this treat. Now I don't normally eat Skittles, but I had selected them because I thought they had the best staying power. If I ate them slowly and one at a time, I could make them last through at least half of the class and then I could stay awake from the sugar rush for the second half.

I carefully tore open the package at the seams so that there was a little wrapper plate for my Skittles to sit on while giving me easy access and a full view of all of the colors. Since it's been awhile since I had Skittles, I sampled the flavors that probably tied for last place: lemon, lime, and orange. Grape and cherry are always top dog when it comes to likeability in Skittles, so I knew they'd be eaten last. After the taste test I decided that lemon Skittles are the worst, so I began. One yellow Skittle after the other until all the little sunny pieces were gone from the rainbow. Next, on to the green ones. When I got to the orange ones I was surprised at how much I loved them. How could I have thought they could tie for last? In the future, they may even be contenders with the red and purple ones. I gained a whole new respect for the orange Skittles that day. Finally, I finished up by alternating the grape and cherry flavors until I was down to one last grape and one last cherry. Grape won and was eaten as the last Skittle of the pack.

What I learned in class yesterday:
1. Eating Skittles is a great deal more interesting than power point presentations.
2. No one really gives the orange Skittles enough credit. They really are bursting with flavor.
3. Eating a whole package of Skittles makes my tongue sore.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Leave Something Beautiful

Today while I was driving to school I saw a butterfly flying across the road. It was beautiful in the morning sunlight. And then a split second later, it was dead - smashed by the force of my windshield as I flew down the highway. I momentarily mourned its loss and then my mind wandered to other things as I drove.

A few minutes later, as the road turned and the sunlight fell across my windshield, I saw something glistening on the glass. I realized it was the smudge left behind by the butterfly. As I stared at the beautiful iridescence, I was struck by the thought that this animal, while beautiful in life, even left something beautiful behind in its death.

My mind went instantly to my grandfather, my dad's dad, who has Alzheimer's disease and is slowly slipping away from us even as he lives. I thought of the care he provided for hundreds in his work as a doctor, of the children that he raised and the way he has made family a priority in his life. I thought of the legacy of love he is leaving to me and to all of those he has known in his amazing life. I choked back tears as it occurred to me that Grandaddy will leave something beautiful behind when he dies. He will leave a family full of people who know their worth, because Grandaddy always made people feel valuable. He always encouraged, always supported, always believed in us and let us know it. It would be impossible in the confines of a paragraph to communicate all of the beauty my Grandaddy will leave behind him, but I can feel it now. I can already anticipate the heart pangs I will feel each time I think of how he loved, the way my throat will close up even as I laugh to think of the wonderful times we shared.

I want to live my life like that butterfly. I want to live my life like Grandaddy. I want to live so that whenever my life is over, there will be a beautiful iridescence on the glass, imprints of love and hope on the hearts of those I knew. I want to leave something beautiful.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Think by Numbers

The following is a brief list of associations I have between numbers and random things in life:

3 - the number of bathroom stalls you have to check at the movie theater before you find one that's acceptably clean (or almost acceptable, at least). An exception is the dollar theater bathroom where, well, you're just lucky to make it out alive...

10 - the number of consistent runs it takes before I don't feel like I'm jogging with a sack of potatoes tied to my butt. Not that I've experienced this potato-free feeling any time in the recent past, but I know it's out there waiting for me whenever I can finally get my act together. I'll let you know how that goes, as I'm hoping to be potato-free within the month...

52 - the number of minutes it takes me to drive to school to get my master's degree. These gas prices are killing us, but I must admit it makes for some great singing time. Usually K can't handle me belting it out in the car for extended periods of time, so I get it out of my system on these long drives. I might actually miss them when I'm finished with the whole thing, but there's always my commute to work...

7 - the number of times in the last week I've thought how liberating it would be to cut my hair off super short again. I just can't get used to this fixing my hair routine, but there's a little voice inside my head reminding me that it's taken me two long years of growing it out to get to this point. And then there are all of the insulting nicknames K has for me as I'm in those weird in-between stages of growing it out: Hall and Oates (this is a reference I still don't understand, but I feel confident that it's not flattering), English school-boy, the Beatles, and my all-time favorite: Christopher Robin. Notice that they're all references to men. hmmm... maybe I should rethink this...

5 - the number of years its been since I graduated from college. This is hard to believe... and not hard to believe. On the one hand, I can't believe that time is going by and I'm actually aging.. You would think I would be used to this fact of life by now since it's been happening for the past 27 years, but honestly I still feel like a kid in many respects (anyone who knows me can probably attest to this). On the other hand, it feels like FOREVER since I darkened the doors of ACU. This fall is my 5-year reunion. Which is why I need to get on that sack of potatoes thing...