9.28.2006

trudge

"Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth."

Hosea 6:1-3

It's over. It's been over for a week.
two months.
nine months.
eight years. longer?

It's over for him.
for her.
for me.

It's over and somehow I find myself caught up in those two days.
The two days before the revival comes.
before being bound up. healed.

The muck is thick.
Mire thicker.
darkness painted life's canvas.

and trudge we on.
Third days hoped for.
not yet experienced. but almost.

9.25.2006

the one good thing about you is that you don't pick up on social cues

This weekend was the climatic conclusion of the much celebrated birthWEEK. Celebrating your birthday with your roommate is a good idea if (and only if) you have a live-in maid and are employed by a sleeping corporation (hours slept=dollars banked). Friday was probably the kick in the bucket because after working/running/lounging lazily at home in the morning, going to work in the afternoon and evening, speeding home to go out with friends to my new favorite outdoor patio bar, and drinking the most disgusting drink at my new favorite outdoor patio bar, we invited people to hang out at our house.

Why not, right? We had soda galore left over from our numerous celebrations and tons of easy cheez and ritz crackers from cheap box of wine night. Friends and friends of friends welcome. It was great fun. Roommate, Saturday Night Live, la Senorita and various other characters from my life filled the living room with laughter until the wee hours of the morning.

Around three, our friends were tired and decided to go home. As if on cue, they all stood up dusted off the night's enchantment and re-entered reality, an exhausted reality. Saturday Night Live had decided to stay the night, so she hung back. Everyone else left EXCEPT for Random Fundamentalist Boys that played sports with her a couple of times a week.

Previous to new favorite outdoor patio bar, I didn't know either of the Random Fundy Boys. But they seemed nice enough and RFB #1 had a particular predilection for brit-pop that I found marginally endearing. My "wierdo radar" went beserk when they didn't leave with the rest of the group. And continued to talk about the strangest things.

RFB #1 drilled me on my life story. WHO CARES? I want to go to sleep. RFB #2 told SNL about his gospel singing group (that was the oh-so-intelligent term he used) and how he didn't want a homosexual to join it. I might have responded to him in my post-Irish Car Bomb stuper with "What part of me being a Christian means I want to hear about your views on homosexuality at four AM???" However, I was too busy explaining why I'm not going to discuss stem cell research with a complete stranger at four am. Let's be honest. I don't talk about stem cell research with anyone at anytime. Not even the politician.

Finally at five am, they caught onto the overt hinting (Hey SNL... I'm really tired, aren't you?) and finally left. If they thought they were going to get a phone number out of the whole experience, they should have rethought the whole excessively fundamentalist and backwards opining thing they did until my eyes were so bloodshot that I cried blood.

9.22.2006

if she says so, it must be true

Today is my birthday. I have successful slept in, coughed a lot, read a great deal of church literature (working at home rocks!), and taken a wonderful shower. Now the day must begin and I have to go hang out with the crowd that provides me bread and butter: Junior High students.

Junior High students are notorious for having their heads stuck in the sand (but let's be honest... they aren't any worse that children, they just have a larger vocabulary so we expect more. And they certainly aren't worse than some adults, they just don't have inhibitors to hide it). Last year, I was told that I was old because I am the same age as Brittany Spears. I appreciate the logic AND the comparison. Thank you sixth graders. Yesterday, an eighth grader asked me how old I would be today. I told her my very small, still young age and she responded, "You ARE YOUNG. That's why we like you."

I'm glad my youth is the only reason I am likeable.

half=split in two

In June, la Señorita and I set out to train for a half-marathon. She’d trained with a friend, but she’d never had the chance to compete in a race. I’d thought about training, but never had the individual motivation or courage to tackle the feat. As recreational runners, we were in relatively similar physical condition with the same goal: finish.
There were ups and downs along the path of training. Sometimes there was little to no motivation. At other times, we ruined Friday nights and Saturday mornings to run ridiculous lengths. Swollen ankles and sore knees plagued our bodies. Great conversations that filled me with joy. A friend, closer than before. Eating everything that I wanted and fitting into my seventh grade wardrobe.
In training, la Señorita and I had been running slightly better than ten minute miles. That was our goal: ten minute miles. TOTALLY ATTAINABLE. Except that my month of dealing with the hacky crap really caught up with me in the preceding days.
I was a little antsy about running all weekend, even though I wasn’t about to tell anyone. A girl has to keep up her woman of steel image in these parts. The ants in my pants tickled and scratched me all night long and didn’t let me sleep very well. When Sunday morning dawned (err, pre-dawned), I crawled out of bed cranky. I definitely didn’t get enough sleep that night. My lungs were filled with the familiar hacky crap, but I told myself, “WHO CARES. PRETEND IT ISN’T THERE.” Before the sun even thought about rolling out of its eastern pile of warm pillows and blankets, I was warmed up and ready to run farther than I’d ever ran before.
La Señorita and I were obviously excited about getting out there and giving it our best shot. The gun went off and we started the crowded scuttle towards the starting line. Once we got past the first mile, we were able to hit our target pace and keep it steady. Our cheerleaders met us several places along the way. They didn’t look too tired from getting up at the butt crack of dawn.
Then, mile seven came. The air got humid. My lungs got restricted. I could barely breathe. I had to beg la Señorita to slow down. I felt terrible, she was so excited to be passing people. I was excited to put on foot in front of the next. I kept a slow pace with her and complained most of the time. Somewhere between mile eleven and twelve, I started to really lose it. I lost track of time and how far we had gone. If la Señorita hadn’t been there, I might have fallen into the woods to be left for the vultures’ Sunday morning brunch. But she didn’t leave me. In fact, she ran behind me to keep me from stopping. That’s what teams are for: support.
I honestly only remember wanting to cry the last two miles. Keep in mind, only one week previous to this experience, I ran twelve miles without much ado. I remember bearing around the corner into the finish line. I remember running as fast as I could (not fast) and falling into someone’s arms. I remember being taken into the first aid tent and being placed on a cot. I remember being iced up and thinking, “For crying out loud, I am in better shape than this!”
The next hour was very traumatic and I felt very vulnerable. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let it suffice to say that there were IV threats and lots of black puke bags. My emotional state was just about as unstable as my physical state. First of all, I had worked hard so that something like this WOULDN’T happen. Secondly, 3932 strangers were meandering around me. Thirdly, eight good friends were doing the sympathetic half-smile thing while telling me they’re “so proud of me.” I just wanted to hobble into my bed and cry for an hour out of embarrassment.
Nothing like being vulnerable. Nothing like losing your gatorade at the first aid tent. Or at the I-HOP (Thank God Lucy’s Mama was there to explain to other ladies’ room clients that I wasn’t bulimic). Or in front of the ten-year old neighbor boy on a lawn close to home (I just couldn’t make it!).
Somewhere in the midst of my various embarrassing moments, I realized WHY I needed to have this. I am a steely girl. I am an introvert. I am task oriented. I approach my abundant emotions very logically. I needed to experience vulnerability. Loss of control. Loss of self-sufficiency. And that I did. Getting put on an antibiotic three days before an accomplishment of a lifetime was not anything I could predict, control, or stop. It happened and it clued me into that blaring plank in my eye and it showed me how wonderful it is to admit you need help.
I needed encouragement. I needed room-temperature Sprite. I needed to lie prostrate on the floor. I was in need and my needs were provided for. I didn’t have anything to do with the results of the race, la Señorita pushed me to nearly meet our goal on the hardest run of my life. I didn’t have anything to do with finally being able to process food, Roommate nursed me all day long. I didn’t have anything to do with coming to grips with not meeting the ten minute mile goal, that peace was given to me by grace.
I don’t have anything to do with a lot of wonderful things in my life. This race was just a micro-manifestation of a few things I needed to realize so to appreciate those on the larger scale.

9.20.2006

just missed the cut for mass production

In the world's classiest display of taste and fashion, my friends wore a set of t-shirt they decorated with a set of sharpies to the half-marathon on Sunday. Their slogans were quite creative.

Tall White Guy's:
Front: ripped off Nike symbol
Back: running... just watch other's do it.

Saturday Night Live's:
Back: Run, run, run as fast as you can you can't catch me... OH WAIT! Yes you can, I'm sitting.

Lucy's Mama's:
Front: The only thing I'm good at running
Back: is my mouth.

Computer Geek's:
Front: Driving
Back: What's better than running 13.1 miles?

Roommate's:
Front: To Do on Life Accomplishment Day: 1. Watch my roommate run a half-marathon. 2. Come up with a better life accomplishment goal better than making out in front of Walgreen's.

(The history on making out in front of Walgreen's is a little tedious, just take it at face value and realize that we actually saw people making out in front of a Walgreen's and felt compelled that someday we should as well.)
The Politician and Reeno came out to cheer. Reeno even said that he would train for a full with us if we ever got around to it. We'll see about that.

9.18.2006

a collective sigh of relief

There are a number of tales I could share with you today about my experience yesterday. Honestly, I feel like I have a running hangover and don't have enough energy to process it all.
The short version would go something like this: Due to my lower respiratory infection, my breathing stunk and I couldn't run my normal pace. HOWEVER, we still only missed our goal by a minute forty. I was in bad shape in the end. I finished and was plopped on a first aid table to be iced. Once I was cooled, I was nauseous. I couldn't keep anything down other than room temperature Sprite until about four in the afternoon. Nothing like being HUNGRY and not being able to eat. I'm okay today and already looking forward to being healthy and hitting the road again. (I'm also looking into getting a mental health evaluation, if you know of anyone...)

The long version will include t-shirt slogans my friend concocted to cheer us on, why my running partner is amazing, the surprise a little boy had on the side of the road while riding his bike, the curse of independence and the joy of vulnerability, and why lying prostrate is always good for the soul and the stomach. More soon.

9.16.2006

birthWEEK kick-off

Yesterday was Roommate's and the Politician's birthday. Since my birthday is exactly one week later, we created a week-long celebration we call birthWEEK because who doesn't want to party until the break of dawn for a whole week!
Last night was the birthWEEK kick-off. We invited all of our mutual friends plus some more. We made our favorite meat-free appetizers and chilled a few good bottles of reisling. Our little casita was crammed full of the people who have made St. Louis my home. When those people gather in one place and I take the time to look around, I see a group of people that a year ago barely knew each other. At first glance, we look like your everday ragtag group of twentysomethings trying to make a difference in the world and trying not to lose ourselves in mess of our world. We play ultimate frisbee as if it were life giving. We annoy the waitresses at BW3's with our extremely large, all individual check table every Tuesday. We like our beer and wine. We dabble in dating each other and then laugh it off as blind desperation.
But when I look again, I see a group of people that would do whatever it takes to help a friend out. I see a group of people that love their Creator and aren't afraid to talk about it. I see a group of people that inspire me to take delight in the blessings I have been given. In the last year, I have been blessed tremendously through each of them.
Last night was purported to be a celebration of birthWEEK, but it was really a celebration of friendship, of grace made real.

9.15.2006

these are a few of my favorite things

going for an early morning run and my fingers being just a little cold

making things look nice at my house

talking with shop with people who love youth and Christ

brie cheese

new shirts

old friends celebrating momentous life occasions

new friends celebrating their birthdays

hosting friends at my house

talking about cultural phenomena

antibiotics actually working

being able to hear

being able to breathe

life

9.14.2006

three, not one or even two, THREE!

Roommate pointed out to me last night that I've rambled extensively about being sick. IT'S PROBABLY BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SICK FOR THREE WEEKS NOW.

Good news: I.am.not.going.to.die.
Bad news: The doctor gave me antibiotics for five days.

Good news: BirthWEEK is on the horizon.
Bad news: Two of the three birthday girls are sick.

Good news: Mr. Good Smile
is coming to the birthWEEK kick-off.
Bad news: My heavily medicated self is usually even less coordinated than regular self. Bring on the party fouls.


Good news: I am running a half-marathon on Sunday.
Bad news: I am running 13.1 miles on Sunday.

Here's to the hope that the drugs will kick the cold and not the runner. It's a busy weekend.

9.13.2006

full body shimmey

Everyone's favorite latin dance move is undoubtedly the shimmey. You know, the move where you shake your shoulders and the rest of your upper body goes with it.
Some people lack the pizazz to shimmey with full effect. Some people lack the... well... rest of the upper body to go with it.
Somehow the shimmey became the official dance move of the summer among my roommates, friends, and other compatriots. We have placed bets on how many drinks it will take to get Tall White Guy to shimmey. We have shimmied all over Chicago and St. Louis. We usually reserve the shimmey to express moments of great exuberance such as "I just got my first real paycheck," "I just met a cute boy,"and "Let's have milkshakes for dinner tonight."
Occassionally we've found the simple shimmeying of the upper body does not fully express the excitement of the moment. Last night, after spending the late evening scheming and plotting our upcoming birthdays and the accompanying birthWEEK festivities (true egocentrics celebrate birthdays for a week, not just a day), Roommate came into my bed room convulsing from head to toe.
The full body shimmey said it all. "If I were any more excited, I would likely cause brain damage."

9.05.2006

on my run

Start: anxiety over long distance running. heart is beating a little faster. boo.

Mile one: Weird pain in the knee. I want to stop.

Mile two: Chit chat, catch-up. blah blah blah blah

Mile three: Continue the blahs. Knee hurts. Internal insanity alarm going off.

Mile four: We ran the last three miles faster than we expected. Are we going too fast? Can we go this pace for the rest of the “trip?”

Mile five: Silence (not always golden). But then it got good:

Mile six: How are you ACTUALLY, señorita? The job, the coworkers, the friend support network, feeling loved.

Mile seven: It’s so exciting to want to go to work and to know that you are wanted there.

Mile eight: How are YOU actually? I’m actually praising God. I’m actually thanking him for blessings that I never could have imagined. I am actually surrounded by more love in my life than ever before.

Mile nine: Have you noticed that despite the complete absence of romantic love in your life, you are completely filled and outpouring with love? Yep, right now. We have amazing friends. We have amazing jobs. We have amazing roommates. We have amazing families. Are you amazed yet?

Mile ten: I hope that others experience this, too. How can I share it?

Mile eleven: Hey, did you realize that we ran this fast? Didn’t feel like it. We’re on track to hit our target or better. Yeah!

Post-mileage: The knee is back to hurting. Cocktails of ib profen and gatorade seem to do the trick. The run was probably my favorite run yet in this training stint. It even topped the bagpipe accompaniment through a shady cool trail in Chicago. We’ll chalk this one up to good conversation.

a lover not a quitter

As I ran this evening, I realized that there was something familiar in the air. We hit mile 7 and I felt perseverance in my stride. We were running a familiar trail. I’d been there numerous times before and the memories had never recurred. But there they were, sitting in my mind begging to be recounted.
A long time ago, I’d shared the trail with someone once important to me and I thought the inverse was true. When I was sharply told otherwise, I told the trail exactly what I thought about that. With my running shoes on, I beat the asphalt trail to pieces that afternoon. With the sun beaming through the trees, I told the trail that it was not okay to stop running mid-race and it was not okay to ask someone else to run for me. It was not okay to give up.
As I nearly finished, the sun was gleaming off of the lake into my eye and an old favorite song played on my headphones. I smiled.
”This is who you are. You are loved.”
The words were clearly spoken to me. Not verbally. Truthfully. Vividly. Not detectable. But alive.
This moment came back to me and suddenly, I realized how beautiful life is. How beautiful it is to be in God’s creation. Running. Breathing. How beautiful it is to rise up out of pain and stride through the sore joints and aching pains. How beautiful it is to love. Everyone. Not selectively. Not romantically. Love. Plainly. Simply.
In that moment, I grieved for the men and women who have not experienced the goodness of Grace by the unorthodox means I have of late. I grieved for those who purport love and mercy as their platform but dole it out only to the most qualified. I grieved for those who accept such purported love and mercy unknowingly, mistakenly.
In my life, I grieve because I know the peace of the Lord and I know the absence of that peace. On my run, I was reminded of a time I felt the absence and the moment that I recognized its ever-presence. The perseverance of the peace in my life gets me through the tough days. The perseverance of the peace shows me the true nature of love and how essential it is that I am a vessel of it.
Perhaps the statement should be “I am a lover, not a quitter.”

9.01.2006

good grief

For a time when I was 19, I lived in an over-polluted, erratically-industrialized, moderately impoverished city in Southeastern China. The afternoon monsoon had swept through and done its typical ravage of the neighborhood. It was hot. It was humid. I was tired from teaching and exhausted by living in close quarters with a group of people who I struggled to love unconditionally. My spirit was dull and my heart pruned from the humidity. I climbed three flights of stairs of the school building to check my email and hopefully read encouraging words of someone oceans away.
When I entered I saw that the windows in the dark antiquated technology center burned oranges and purples previously unseen. I climbed into the window sill awestruck. The pollution, the passing rain, and my desire to escape joined together above the city and created an indescribable moment in time. The sun said its daily farewell in no ordinary way. It was obvious that grace had made something beautiful out of so many ugly things.
In that moment, right before the sun disappeared and took its radiance with it, I knew that God would always be present in my life. I would always struggle to love unconditionally, but the grace of his love would teach me, guide me, and never leave me.
I learned much to early in life that the world is an ugly place. People are embittered. They cry angry tears. They die. This afternoon, I sit in solitude and I feel the grief of my years. I hear the anxieties of my 13 year olds. I am suddenly acutely aware that I have grown a year older. I am a deeper, wiser, stupider person than I was a year ago. I have been grieved. I’ve grieved others. I grieve for the traps and holds into which I see so many fall, no self-exclusions. The load is always too heavy to bear.
But this grief is so beautiful. It has taught me truth. And truth has shown me love.

Y si las cosas van mal
No pierdas nunca tu fe
Despues de la tormenta viene la calma,
Tu ves, detras de esa oscuridad
Siempre hay una claridad,
Esa luz de esperanza que siempre esta
-thievery corporation, ambición eterna, the cosmic game