Tuesday, December 30, 2003

not a pretty sight

if ever given the option to pick your punishment, please - i beg of you - do not choose chinese water torture. believe me, if you could see the bar of soap in my shower after a day of sitting under a lightly dripping faucet, you would agree wholeheartedly.

Monday, December 29, 2003

in case anyone wants to know, it is currently raining and 45 degrees in venice. yes, i do mean italy.

my Christmas was great - thanks for asking:). very relaxed and with lots of cooking and being with people i love and opening presents. and Christmas eve, i went to a late church service with salimah and her sister. i will say this: it was lovely. i wished it had been more, but it was nice, even still....

so the work week began without much excitement. i had a meeting this morning at 11 that i was sure would end with me getting smacked by this drama queen-esque person in my office, but it didn't happen. honestly, it might have been kind of exciting, though, you know? i mean, who ever thinks that they're gonna get beaten up over some music curriculum?!

okay, and in other news, campbell's chunky grilled chicken with veggies and pasta soup is not so good. i have an announcement to make: no one - and i mean NO ONE - needs to be putting bell peppers in soup, people! make a note of this, please.

thank you for your time and attention:)

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

in the bleak midwinter**

i'm sitting here at work trying (not very hard, i might add) to pretend that i'm getting something accomplished. it makes no actual sense for anyone to be here; everyone's basically milling around and munching on snacks that are lying about in the kitchenette.

but that's not what i really want to say....

on the way to work this morning, i was driving in the rain and fog and darkness and it struck me: if this were the time of Christ's birth, He could arrive at any moment, in any of these middle-class suburban homes, without effect, and no one would be any the wiser. Christ could have come in any year, in any culture, for any reason. but it was God's timing that He arrive that day, and for something so seemingly 'insignificant,' a lot of people still took notice of his coming. a lot of people STILL take notice.

and then my mind wandered to those shepherds in the fields, to whom the angel of the Lord appeared. i can only imagine their anxious minds as they made their way through the dark on the way to Bethlehem, their hearts swelling with hope against hope that the Messiah had really come. i wonder how many of them questioned, hesitated, turned back, even, out of doubt. but to the ones who went, what a beautiful and mysterious sight it must have been: God, becoming man. peace and love and joy and hope all wrapped up in that one tiny child.

those people must have been in awe, must have wondered what to do, what to say, what to think. to see the Lord is an experience that changes even the most doubting and hardest of hearts. i am certain that those visitors left that stable different than when they arrived.

and perhaps they made their way back to where they lived and maybe when they were alone with their thoughts, they hoped that there might be another time when they would get to catch a glimpse of that face.

i am certainly not a shepherd. no angel appeared to me one fateful night....but, i have encountered the Lord. i have felt and known His Spirit and His love for me. i have bowed down in worship and i have raised hands to heaven, giving thanks for the gift that the Lord gave me through Jesus Christ - eternal reconciliation with God, my Father, the joy of my heart.

and this morning, my heart pounded with expectation for that day when i will truly see Him. and as i drove into the approaching morning, i felt the Holy Spirit stirring inside me, the prayer rising in my throat:

come soon, Lord Jesus. come soon.

merry Christmas, everyone. may you be touched by the miracle of His coming....


in the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
in the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
the ox and ass and camel which adore.

angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

what can i give Him, poor as i am?
if i were a shepherd, i would bring a lamb;
if i were a wise man, i would do my part;
yet what i can i give Him: give my heart.



**by Christina Rosetti, 1872

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

i have a question....

WHO was it that decided to put that whole bit about 'figgy pudding' in the song we wish you a merry Christmas?

i mean - what kind of audacity is it that announces 'we WON'T go until we've got some...so bring some right(/out) here!'?

am i the only one amused by this???

Sunday, December 21, 2003

newsflash:

i am a total sap. i actually teared up at the end of finding nemo. then later on, i caught the tail end of the preacher's wife and practically bawled during the singing at the end. what is wrong with me?!

on a more newsy note, i finished all my gift wrapping tonight. and please let me say: it was no small feat. i am relieved to have that off my shoulders. tomorrow evening, i am scheduled to go to the grocery store with salimah to pick up the last of the food i need for my Christmas dinner. i'm also going to barnes and noble to return a book that a friend gave me for Christmas, because i discovered, much to my chagrin, that salimah had purchased said book (and written in her copy) for me for Christmas this year. so basically, it's all about me not only getting a cookbook that i REALLY wanted, but another one to add to my collection....who am i to complain?:)

tomorrow for lunch, catchka will be coming to work to hang out with me, salimah, and cat's sister. we shall have whole foods and presents and much laughter....and we have the whole conference room reserved (so there!). i am looking forward to a relatively low-key work week of much goofing off and most people being on vacation.

Christmas is coming, people....only 4 more days:)! i'm actually going to try to hold it together until then....no more sobbing over cartoons!
the end

i cannot believe i'm saying this, but the HUGE project on which i've been working is, for the time at least, over....my language arts and social studies/geography editing for this school year is DONE!

*huge sigh of relief*

and it's sunday afternoon, and i'm going to take a shower, watch finding nemo, and eat my leftover tikka masala from last night. Jesus, thank you for this gift today!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

miscellaneous

yahoo is right on top of my last nerve just now. i'm now getting personal e-mail in my bulk (supposedly spam-filled) folder. um, hello? not only that, but some of the actual spam is making it into my inbox. i nearly missed an e-mail from amber this morning....the nerve!

in other news, my nails are almost completely recovered from my self-performed gel nail removal operation a couple months ago. it will be nice to be able to grow them out beyond the end of my fingertips again. anyone care to place bets on how long it will be before i start craving the fake ones? my bet is 4 months.

okay, so something that i'm tossing about in my head is the notion of cutting off much of my hair again. it's gotten really long - definitely mid-back, even when curly - and i'm starting to hate it. about 2 years ago, i made a pact (of sorts) with myself that i would let my hair grow (with the occasional trim, of course) until i got married and would then cut it shorter again. i think at the time, however, i was under the impression that i'd be getting married a lot sooner than it now seems i will. frankly, i'm just frustrated with it. it's so thick that when i tie it back (which i do most days), it pulls on my head and gives me a headache. too frustrating, i tell you!

something tells me it's time to visit my hairdresser back home and do something a little different. i'm too old for this madness....

and speaking of being too old, i've clearly reached that point in life where a) i start to call people younger than 22 'kids,' b) rock music in church is getting on my nerves, c) i have to eat breakfast and do my morning routine, or i feel completely out of sorts for the rest of the day, and d) i could easily go to bed by 9:00 pm every night and feel totally good about it (i DON'T, but i could).

it's hump day, people. from here, it's all downhill toward the weekend.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

degradation

can i be honest about something? i am really concerned about the state of affairs with the airwaves in this country. i know that must sound rather bizarre for me to say, but let me explain....

it wasn't that long ago that you couldn't hear bad words on the television - at least not on the networks. now, you're lucky if people aren't cursing. and yes, i know, THAT's not the end of the world. i mean, there are worse things you could say. but here's the thing: they're starting to crop up. and not just words, but actions. i never would have imagined a day when i would turn on the television and see two women or two men making out in front of the camera....or two people in bed having sex.....or all of the blood and gore and gratuitous violence. i am, to say the least, disheartened. surprised? no. disheartened.

we live in a sensationalist society. we've become intolerant of average experiences. everything has to be extreme in order to hold our completely miniscule attention spans. in order to have fun, we have to play extreme sports, or participate in extreme reality shows. our food has gotten bigger (have you noticed that even the 'small' fries at mcdonalds aren't 'small' anymore?) if you can't drive thru, order it online, download it, or get it on pay-per-view, then what's the point? you need it NOW. everything has to happen right NOW. it's all about what i want NOW. our interests for life are waning, our ability to stay in relationships (why bother? they take too much work!) is at an all-time low, and our apetites are at an all-time high.

oy. this gives me a headache.

the more and more i think about the world we live in, the less comfortable i feel with the notion that my children, should i have them, will be exposed to all of this mess. and i feel that i can say one thing for sure: there will not be much in the way of tv watching going on in my home. even now, the only way that i can find something decent/educational/interesting to watch is to have cable. with a few exceptions, i hardly tune in to network tv.

i have, however, been watching the new show 'joan of arcadia.' if you're not familiar, it's an hour-long 'family' drama in which joan, a 16-year old high school student, is visited by 'God' on a regular basis and is told to do certain projects, befriend certain people, etc. and often, she does so, even without knowing God's purpose for her in the situation. of course, just to mix it up, God shows up in different 'packaging' each time He appears to joan. and i find it interesting that, now that joan has been interacting with God on a regular basis, she's starting to recognize Him immediately, regardless of the form He takes.

anyway, it's a fascinating premise. might be worth checking out sometime if you're home on a friday night, as i tend to be:).

with all of that being said, i shall now step down off of my soapbox about our society and all its issues. at the end of the day, things are going along just as He said they would. we've always needed Him. sometimes i think this time is a gift - to help us see how truly desperate we are.

Friday, December 12, 2003

thank GOD it is....

i just had a really lovely lunch. i made some safeway select red pepper rigatoni stuffed with spinach, feta, and artichokes and put on it a sauce of toasted walnuts, onion, tomato paste, hot pepper, and white wine. i finished it off with some asiago cheese grated finely on top. delish!

in other news, my skin is very dry and i'm feeling quite anxious. this has been a hellish week, so i've been out of things to say, but i'm hoping that as the holidays approach, presents are wrapped (i finished all my shopping online in one day!!), and perhaps even cookies are baked, i'll be able to relax a bit. suffice it to say that this week has contained vandalism to my new car, a trip to the car dealer for some unrelated issues, spilled apple butter on my otherwise pristine white sofa, and nearly losing my job. the highlight of my week? i put together a cart for my kitchen and now my microwave and toaster oven have a place to relax and aren't clogging up my counter tops.

God's peace seems elusive these days. thankfully i don't have to feel it to know it's real....

Monday, December 08, 2003

oh yeah, baby....

maine
Maine is your state. It's pretty and nice and
quiet and not crowded. I love Maine, so do
you.


What State Is Perfect For You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, December 06, 2003

the ho-hums

okay, so last night's plans did indeed get cancelled, but my two girlfriends from g'burg are on their way here for this evening's dinner/movie get-together. and michael, in an incredibly kind (and not at all unlike him) gesture, drove salimah here yesterday so that we could hang out and be snowed in together. and then she spent some time digging out my car today. so sweet:)

you know - there's something getting under my skin right now. i don't know what my deal is, but i just can't seem to make myself DO much of anything. i'm having post-thanksgiving/pre-Christmas lethargy, and it stinks. i have grand plans for cooking, cleaning, more unpacking and organizing, but i'm completely unable to make any of them come to pass. it's pathetic, really. here's hoping it's just a phase. i'm definitely not feeling depressed; maybe i'm just tired. i don't know.

Friday, December 05, 2003

old man winter

i must admit - i enjoy snow for all of about an hour....until i have to go somewhere....and then i just feel like it's a hindrance to the world. not to be rude - it really is quite lovely to look at - but come, now. is this necessary?

i have (had?) plans tonight - some friends are supposed to come for dinner. we'll see if they cancel or not. then tomorrow, i have (had?) some other plans with some OTHER friends and i'm wondering if they'll hold either. come on, thermometer. work your way up there!

all annoyances aside, i'll admit it was beautiful to wake up this morning to the blanket of white. i am seriously stocked up on cocoa and cookie ingredients, but there's no one with whom to share this storm:(....

*sigh*

perhaps this is a sign that i need to catch up on some reading, clean my house, and do laundry. um. we'll see if any of that happens;)

so welcome, winter. it appears you're here for good now. have your way with us, and then move along, please:)

Friday, November 28, 2003

post-holiday musings

okay, so my turkey was a hit. i rubbed him down with orangey-sage butter. he was brown and crispy and beautiful....and stuffed with the delicious stuffing that my grandma always made (fresh bread cubes, sausage, onions, celery, raisins, pine nuts, sage). we also had sweet potatoes that i first roasted and then whipped with butter, cream, brown sugar and cinnamon; caramelized pearl onions; buttered green beans; and homemade whole berry cranberry sauce. for dessert, my mom made a pumpkin souffle-like torte with a pecan crust. my father contributed a beautiful, crisp riesling. salimah, as always, supplied us with her charm and lots of laughter. it was so lovely and pleasant and relaxed.

and then, after dinner, we had a reading of my favorite children's book, my uncle podger. my parents left around 9 to go back to their hotel, and salimah and i watched part of sophie's choice (we finished it this morning). meryl streep is an amazing actress - not that anyone was disputing this.

tomorrow i'll be making turkey stock (which will, no doubt, become soup in the near future) and i hope to get a leg up on my christmas cards....we'll see how well THAT works out! otherwise, i'll be working and just chilling at home; the weather is positively abysmal around here.

here are some things for which i am thankful, in no particular order:

friends (and even some family) who love and support me.
a way to be productive and self-sufficient (not always a given in the last few years).
way more pots and bakeware and kitchen gadgets than anyone actually needs.
a vision for my life that includes passion and service.
the hope that things can be different than they've always been.
the knowledge that they already are.

and of course, it goes without saying (but must be said), a God who knows everything about me and, for some reason, loves me still. and it is this love that drives my every breath.

*sigh* the page is turned now, Lord....isn't it?

a new chapter has begun.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

for today

so much of being young (and i don't just mean chronologically) is about dreaming. and so much of dreaming is about speculation. dreams are safe. they don't require risk. they're not going to bite you in the butt while they float around in your mind. it's jumping in and living that's hard. it's living that means hanging your heart - your self - out there and letting what comes COME. it's LIVING that makes you want to hide under a rock some days.

i've noticed that people (myself included), in a futile attempt to prolong the discomfort of actually having to live, rest on the concept of 'some day.' you know that day, don't you? that's when everything will magically fall into place and all the little details will work out such that you can FINALLY feel comfortable enough to take the step you're dreading. see, it's LIVING that makes people flip out.

and i think this is why so many people don't actually ever get on with it. it's so much easier to talk about what you'll do 'some day' because either a) you honestly are deluded enough to think that the right circumstances are going to erase your fears or b) you're hoping that 'some day' will never stare you in the face, thereby forcing you to live up to your word and achieve your goals. staying in denial feels much easier than having to stress yourself out about the possibility of moving out of your comfort zone and on with your life.

but here's the problem: this mindset does nothing but make people miserable and hold them back from the things they should be doing. it prevents people from maturing, from being emotionally ready to handle life's bigger obstacles. believe you me, i've seen the effects of a life driven by fear, putting things off, living for the 'some day.' it's been my life. and it's sucked. oh, don't get me wrong. i've made a lot of progress - especially in the last couple of years - but in order to do so, i've had to take A LOT of risks and hang myself way out there and i was terrified most of the time. in the end, it's all been worth it so far. and i feel myself growing up. amazing how that works.

so, here's to living TODAY (perhaps with the goals of 'some day' in mind, even still). here's to my other friends who are seeking to throw caution to the wind and jump into their lives. here's to growing up - for REAL this time.
maybe not

i thought i had something to say. i was wrong.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

me and not me

last night i hung out with a cousin of mine. before my grandmother's funeral this summer, i hadn't seen her in almost 20 years (she was not even 5 at the time). turns out she's been living in no. va., so we decided to get together and hang for the evening. we went to dinner (i had the indonesian peanut saute. quite yums) and then dropped in at the bookstore for some coffee (for her) and chai (for me). it is odd to me that our ancestral photos contain the same faces (her grandfather was my grandmother's brother), yet we know so little about one another. but we are becoming more familiar....and we are learning that we share some of the same quirky loves, habits, thoughts about life. and besides which, she is another sara (although her name has no 'h' like mine) elizabeth.....so how bad can she be?:)

*******************************

after she left, i came upstairs to my place, locked myself into the silence of my apartment, surfed blogs for awhile, and then crawled into bed to read before turning off the light for good. and as i lay there in the stillness, in the few moments before sleep came, i realized how profound of a thing it is (for me) to live alone. and even now, as i type this blog entry, i am here by myself. and for most nights for the next year or more, i will end my day much the same. and that's more than okay with me, i guess. but i still wonder when it won't be quite like this....when i'll lie in bed and hear the cadence of another's breathing...when i'll have in-laws and babies and a mortgage....and i'll be called by another name....

and maybe by then, my heart will not remember so well these moments in the dark, me sinking under the covers, waiting for warmth to surround me....the loneliness and freedom intermingled in the center of my chest. breathe in. breathe out. it's just me. God...will it always be just me?....

thank you that it's just me.

please don't let it always be just me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

torrent

for the last 2 days, i've been pretty much waylayed with what i think is a stomach bug. suffice it to say that excruciating pain has woken me out of a dead sleep for the last two nights. rest? not so much.

also, i discovered water damage in my apartment tonight. it was pouring here today, with lots of wind that swirled and swished the water up under the overhang and onto my balcony. not a gentle fall storm, that's for sure. it's got me pretty nervous and thinking that i should definitely be calling to get some renter's insurance on this place - quick, fast, and in a hurry!

now onto other things:

i'm plagued by this un-nameable feeling...this vague desire, this bottom-dwelling thing that refuses to come up for air and make itself known. i feel an ache inside. i may know where it's coming from and although it would be really easy for me to lay it all out in this medium - cleanse my soul, if you will - i'm not going to do that. suffice it to say that there are 4 large issues competing for top billing in my heart right now, and it's enough to make a girl crazy....

oh yeah - and then there's the water that's threatening to drip - or gush - through my ceiling and onto me.

some days, i can intimately sense how those israelites must have felt as they walked through the rocky/sandy bed of the red sea, held back only by the merciful hand of God.

keep it steady, Lord. just keep it steady....

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

sometimes i am astonished by how many people there truly are in this world. just when i think that somehow i could get my mind around it, the numbers overwhelm and perplex me once again. and just as there are bodies, there are souls...hearts....to be won or lost, built up or broken. it's a crazy, crazy thing.

and here i am, one person, out of millions. MILLIONS. and it's easy to feel like the whole world revolves around me and my problems, my pains, my joys. it's so easy for each of us...all of us...to feel that way. and yet it doesn't revolve around me. not at all. i'm dust. i'm a breath. i'm a wisp.

BUT (and this is the heart of the matter at hand) i'm important. i'm incredibly important to the Maker of the universe, to my friends, to those who love and miss me when i'm gone from them.

this is a simple truth. no one will give me a medal for realizing this. and no one should.

but i forget sometimes. and sometimes i need to remember....for whatever the reason. today, it's because i'm lonely and longing for something i don't yet have. i'm wanting a place - a time - that my feeble mind cannot bear to conceive. i want to know that i'm worth that time. i want to know that i'll make it to that time.

i want to know that someone else is wanting to meet me there. not all of the world.

just one.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

'hello darkness, my old friend....'

the day i turned six was one of the saddest days of my young life. i won't get into it here, but suffice it to say that i saw my mom really cry for the first time, and it scared me. i felt completely out of control and uncertain and just plain terrified. i was willing and wanting to do anything to make her stop - it scared me that much. i was so young and that day, though long over, still sends chills, reminding me....

the truth is that i don't have any regrets about getting older. some people yearn for their younger days, when things were more 'carefree' and easy. not me. i'm more and more thankful for the years that pass....that take me farther away from the child i was and closer to the woman i want to be.

i mean, don't get me wrong: i have some good memories of being a little kid. but they're peppered with a lot of sadness and pain. i'm not avoiding. i just don't want to go back there.

some days, the past shows up on your doorstep and demands to be let in for tea and company....

for the record, the porch light is off.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

monday

tonight i burned a pot of rice. and i don't just mean kind of. i mean...i'm not sure if this pot will ever recover....

but i'm not really that upset about it, even though it is/was a really good pot....

actually, right now, what i'm thinking is that it's 2 a.m. and i'm still awake. and my eyes are drooping but my heart feels full. i had a relaxed, very effortless evening with a friend. we shared story after story of our lives and experiences. it has been quite some time since i have discussed certain events and issues in my life; it felt strange to drag all of it out and spread it in front of someone else to inspect and digest, but it was good for me. it keeps me connected to myself.

what a strange thought....

my heart is a swirling cloud of emotion. perhaps it is sleep that i need more than anything right now. my bed is calling me. morning taunts me, a few hours off....

for now, a pause.....

Saturday, November 08, 2003

chill

it is SO cold in here! i love it, though, and i'm refusing to turn the heat on!! i'd rather snuggle under blankets than have artificially heated air any day (well, usually). besides, after that muggy, rainy few days, i'm enjoying the air being cool and crisp and FINALLY indicative of autumn.

yesterday i got a few things organized, ran a load of towels, and had a friend over for the afternoon. we just sat in my living room and chatted for about 3 1/2 hours about God, our lives, the state of the world. then, i made myself some dinner and watched a little tv while reading cookbooks all evening. took a shower to ease some sore muscles and then went to bed around 11:30. all in all, a pleasant and relaxing evening.

today, i have plans to chill out in the pad until mid-afternoon and then hook up with salimah later on. we'll figure something out for dinner and then watch movies tonight ('the bone collector' being one - a netflix hook-up) and maybe have some cocktails or something. i'm definitely in the mood to bake....will have to see if i can drag together a few pennies to buy some ingredients:). how i miss having money! but having a home is more important, i guess....

oh, and as a complete sidebar: i am now craving korean food like a madwoman. something reminded me of its existence yesterday, and i fear that until i get some of it, i'll have it on the brain for awhile.....*sigh* mandu....bulgoki....won't you come and visit me?:)

Friday, November 07, 2003

waking

last night, i dreamed of my grandmother. i was at her house, and she was bustling about in the kitchen, and some relative of hers (maybe a sister?) called to ream me out because my grandmother hadn't baked enough for some event during the past year. i was trying to explain to her that it was miraculous that she was still alive (i was shocked, myself, to find her there) because we had nearly lost her. i was insulted that anyone would be so demanding in a time such as that.

my grandmother was so young, so full of life in this dream. in fact, in every dream i have had about her since her death, that is precisely how she appears.

and after i got off the phone, she took me into this hidden attic-type thing over her front porch (this did not exist in real life) and showed me all of her nursing paraphernalia that she had apparently been hiding up there all these years. it was amazing.

i awoke feeling really sad....thinking about the rest of my family....wondering if they struggle some days with the understanding of never getting to talk to her again.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

perhaps i'm not too young to be getting old....

i was home today working, feeling lousy and on top of it randomly weepy about this whole partial-birth abortion thing.....and then at about 3:30, the sky got really dark and rain began to pour, forming rivers between the piles of leaves in the parking lot. what else can one do in moments like that except lie down on your new couch with all the lights out and watch the weatherman talk tornadoes as the storm whips about outside the balcony window? and then fade deliciously into a quick afternoon nap....?

and THEN, 2+ hours later (!), wake up groggy and completely out of sorts, wondering how all of this happened and feeling like someone has just played some kind of joke on you that will mean you not actually sleeping tonight!!!!!!!

*breathe*

and in the midst of all of that, all i could think of is where are the baking pans my grandmother gave me?

don't say it. i know.

i know....

Monday, November 03, 2003

gimme the 4-1-1

my cable man rocks! he is hooking me up with major discounts off my service for the next three months. we (that would be the royal 'we') love this....

but how much of a stalker am i? his work cell phone was out of service (he had changed it, apparently), so i tracked the man down at his residence. yikes!

listen, times are few and far between when i can get money off. i had to go for the gusto....he was cool about it, though. i just won't be pulling that stunt again next time i need a favor.

uh, hi, james? could you come over and kill a bug for me?

oh please. i'm sure he wouldn't mind....

;)
snapshot

this morning while sitting in traffic, i looked out my passenger window and saw, lying next to each other on the street, a balled-up pair of men's dress socks and a tipped-over can of coke.

perhaps they had just engaged in a mutual smackdown.

Friday, October 31, 2003

still here....

i know it’s been awhile since i’ve blogged. for those of you who don’t yet know this, i’ve been in the process of moving. the official day was last saturday. i’m pleased to announce that things went off relatively without a hitch. i had a lot of help, and my new place is big and great and all mine. now all i need is some living room furniture:)

i’m sitting here in my office/2nd bedroom looking out the window at the crows flying overhead. it’s a bright, clear day here and the yellow/orange tree outside my window is bursting with color in the morning sun.

trees. who remembered them? and leaves. and grass. GREEN. there is nothing green in the city. and there is nothing quiet. to me, it is DISARMINGLY quiet here. there are no trucks slamming up the street, no sirens wailing into the night, no hookers’ theatrics. just the creak of the floorboards and the sound of my breath going in and out. i lie in bed at night and it is so dark. what a concept....

*******************************

i am stunned at all that the last several months has brought into my life. i never would have imagined that i would come so far in such a short amount of time. i sit and chuckle to myself some days that if the people at my job knew just how messed up i was - not even that long ago - they never would have taken me on....too much of a risk, i’m sure. but that’s how it is with God. He takes that which we see as being impossible and makes it happen. He is all about the underdog, the impossible scenario, the broken and failing dream that just needs a little help to pick itself up and move forward.

sure enough, He took my penniless, jobless, hopeless self and flipped everything upside down. He removed my melancholy, He lifted my head, He replanted hope in my heart. and i am ready now for what comes next. i am looking ahead, with His promises tucked away in my heart. i have a bit of space and the air here is clear enough for me to sort things through....

and soon, even the boxes will be unpacked and the shards of exile will be swept into the garbage.

and so i begin again....each day, again.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

conclusion

i'm just wondering if i need to come to terms with some things right now. doors are closing around me. answers come, almost as an afterthought. is the answer i've been fearing arriving in the same way here? maybe at the end of this road, this door, too, shall close.....?

and i have to admit: i'm not feeling that 'when God closes a door, He opens a window' vibe here either.

sometimes faith is called for...the evidence of that which is not seen. but then again, sometimes seeing is what makes things clear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

'cuz if you gots the poison, i gots the remedy....the remedy is the experience. it is a dangerous liaison'

frankly, i'm a nervous wreck. but i'm still holding my own. the reason? i keep throwing myself on God's mercy and having oases of trust before picking myself up and flinging myself across the searing coals of anxiety.

ah....the drama of it all....

in all seriousness, i feel convicted of my lack of trust in God of late. enough help to move all my stuff. enough money to pay all my bills. enough sanity to make it through this next print deadline. these are the things that have been churning my stomach into a stormy mess. but i don't want it to be that way. i want to lay it all at Jesus's feet and ask Him to bear my burdens. i'm clearly incapable of holding down the fort. so what else is new?

i'm so looking forward to spending an actual night in my new place. washing clothes in my own laundry room off the kitchen. cooking with all my pots and pans that have been in exile. *sigh* only 3 more days....

jason mraz said it all......

'i....i won't worry my life away....'

that is, if Jesus helps me to not be me anymore.....:)

Thursday, October 16, 2003

to say the least....

'sarah, we're going to have to pull a thelma and louise....hold hands and drive over a cliff.....'
- salimah, 10:20 a.m.

things at work are a little stressful right now.....

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

a whiter shade of pale....

we just had an hour-long meeting to discuss the future of our curriculum project. i nearly passed out when, not 5 minutes into the whole situation, 'the boss' started talking about financial cut-backs. oh dear Jesus, i thought, i just signed my one-year lease! the good news, however, is that it doesn't seem to involve me at this point. the really good news is that this stuff is still plagued with errors. that, my friends, is where i come in!!

in other news, i am moving in a week and a half into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on the outskirts of the city....alone! needless to say, i am rather thrilled about it. perhaps it also bears mentioning that i'm a little scared. it's been a long time since i've dropped this much cash on a regular basis. it's been a long time since i lived alone. it's been a long time since i had to take care of everything...just me.

*breathes deeply*

i'm okay....really. or at least, i will be....

i think.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

changing

tomorrow morning, i'll drive to virginia for my 10-year high school reunion. if i'm being honest, i'm not looking forward to going. i am going, though....i promised a friend.

the last 10 years haven't been particularly easy, or filled with much happiness or outward success....but i've changed. i've grown - a lot. i've walked through much darkness and heartache. but no one would know that just by seeing me....

people judge you by your job, your looks, your marital status....not by whether or not your shoes have seen miles and miles of road, not by whether your heart has loved and lost, not by whether you're better now - on the inside - than you've ever been before.

so, sure, i haven't made my first million (ha!), bought my first house, had my first child (or my first [read: only] husband), but since last seeing many of these people, i've met the Lord of the universe....i've seen people's lives - my own life - changed by the truth of His love....i've longed for more than this world could ever give me. i've had empty pockets, swollen eyes, and a full heart. the fires have come and not burned me; the waters have washed over me and i have not drowned. i've covered a lot of ground, even in the last year. but you wouldn't KNOW that by looking at me. nothing has changed, really.

except for the hope in my heart.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

uh oh....

yesterday, i awoke feeling gross, but i went to work anyway and put in a long day. since, by the end of the day, i didn't feel any worse (and was even starting to feel a bit better), i ate dinner last night out at the austin grill (steak and some veggies). i had already decided before leaving work yesterday that, due to the chunk of editing i would need to get done today, i would just plan on staying home to work (where i am always more productive). i thank GOD that i did, because throughout the course of the day today i have felt much worse:(. i managed to remain relatively productive (also God's mercy), but i've also been in a total haze; i feel extremely week and nauseated and as though i'm floating somewhere outside myself.

i AM going on the retreat this weekend; this is not the time for illness. God, won't you please intervene?!

note to self: one of the most spiritually-productive retreats of your life came after a phantom illness that almost prevented you from going!!! don't lose hope! (psalm 42!)

Monday, September 29, 2003

onward and upward

things i accomplished this weekend:

1. de-haired my legs:)
2. bought toe ring
3. painted toenails
4. straightened hair
5. loofahed and moisturized
6. watched 'murphy's romance' (who remembered this movie?)
7. got my car paint re-sealed
8. ate bbq
9. got my nails done
10. watched a cooking show marathon
11. started a new book, which promises to be quite good

all in all, i feel rather fabulous, although a bit tired from not getting enough rest last night. i knew that i was going to waken early this morning and, therefore, couldn't actually relax enough to sleep as much as i would have liked. ah well. my hair looks fabulous today; life's a trade-off.

i was at the office this morning by about 7:30. honestly, i love coming in early, but with friday's deadline behind me, i feel almost as though i have nothing to do. in truth, much of this morning has involved talking shop with salimah. sometimes it's good just to check in:)

on friday afternoon, we will leave for a women's retreat (through my former church) at a mennonite retreat center in mcveytown, pa. i couldn't be more excited. i attended last year's retreat, had a phenomenal time, and came to some conclusions about rather substantial life matters. i am hoping....needing, really....to hear from God in a truly life-altering way. it is time for much learning on my part. and there are things that i am ready to hear now.

i have a hunch that some time in a valley will give me a moment to rest, to focus, to look up, to look ahead.....

Friday, September 26, 2003

my brain no longer hurts

please take note: as of today, the title of my blog has changed. update your links, if applicable:)

it's still me. just in slightly more forward-thinking packaging.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

'well i've been afraid of changin' cause i built my life around you.....'

there's a knot in my stomach. a big one. i've laid everything out now, God. i've given it back to you. whether i get it back or not, you're still Lord.

sometimes even breathing hurts.

Monday, September 22, 2003

dear God,

i know i don't normally write open letters to You in this particular forum, but i am feeling rather cavalier. You will, i hope, forgive me for this if, indeed, wisdom is not ruling this particular day.

i am in agony, Lord. is that an okay word to use? my insides are twisted and bent and i feel as though i might double over at any moment from the pain in my soul. i'm just honestly not sure what to do right now. i'm trying to understand whether these things that are happening are to wake me up or simply to help me put my trust more fully in you - or both. if i do need a wake-up call, could you possibly let me know this sooner rather than later? i know that i might not do the best job at handling this particular piece of information, but i do promise to try really hard to keep my wits about me one way or the other.

it is no understatement when i say that i feel differently somehow this time around, God. could it be that You are changing me after all? could it be that i'm no longer quite as weak, that i believe You just a bit more than i used to? could it be that i will make it through this storm and be able to walk with my chin up and without regret or fear in my eyes?

regardless, i submit myself to Your will...not mine, but Yours be done this day and always.

your kid,
sarah

p.s. thanks for not allowing me to go out like a punk.
p.p.s. sorry for being one anyway.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

my heart hurts

this summer was filled with so much loss for so many people, and the fall has shaped up with much the same. a lot of people have died over the last few months, and i know with my mind that this is the way of the world, but it seems that, more than ever, the list has included friends and relatives of (myself or) a lot of people that i know. sadness has covered people's lives like a blanket. and even in the midst of the death that came to me this summer, there was the understanding of even more loss and more grief - the proverbial cherry on the top of the sundae of despair.

*******************

5 floors beneath me, nigel sleeps. it has been more than a year and a half since we have been in the same room together (he has been on a nuclear sub in pearl harbor), yet the first glance at his face steered me immediately back to nights of long drives and even longer talks, singing into the night with all that our adolescent hearts had to give. it is funny how old friends never leave you, even when you are thousands of miles away. when a person is truly embedded in your heart, no amount of time or traveling can un-root them. and that is, quite understandably, just fine with me.

either tomorrow or monday, nigel will return to richmond where, at this point, our families sit in their homes, without power. i am grateful that my parents got their water back sometime yesterday, but it is uncertain when they will be able to take a hot shower or have any light or modern convenience. the thought of them sitting in the dark, eating potted meat and riding this out together is rather endearing, though....at least they have each other, the comfort of knowing they're not alone.

perhaps this hurricane has me all sentimental or something....

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

the busy bee hath no time for sorrow....

work. yes, that's what i'm doing now. working. lots and lots of working. working is good for the soul! working makes you feel better about things! working doesn't allow for that whole sitting around wasting your life thing!

what am i even saying?

i don't know. what i want to know is this: are there enough hours to work in the day so that i don't feel what i'm feeling anymore?

let's find out....

Monday, September 15, 2003

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

goodbye, tennyson

tonight, i bought a new car. it was rather sudden, and yet i've been thinking about it for some time now. i had about 8 months to go in my lease, and i got an offer to back out of it early. when i found out today that my car needed 1000 bucks in repairs, it was a no-brainer.

so, i got rid of my beautiful silver, macked-out 2000 jetta (he was my dream car at the time) and am now getting acquainted with a sleek, black, much more pared down 2003 (same model)....i'm thinking he needs a name.....

either way, i'm still in shock.....

sidebar: michelle, i will be posting my interview answers soon. sorry i've been remiss!!

Sunday, September 07, 2003

nothing in particular....

my comments have been completely MIA for awhile now. supposedly, they should reappear sometime early this week. we'll see....

i suppose that i, too, have been mia. what can i say, really? work is busy, busy. last weekend (memorial day weekend), i worked every single day. not a good way to 'start' a week, lemme tell ya. at least the week ended with more of a 'bang.' salimah's b-day was on thursday and i had a pleasant evening (complete with frozen margaritas) with michael, her, and her friend gordon at the austin grill downtown. then we came home to open presents and hit vaccaro's for a later evening dessert run. friday night, salimah, myself, and two of her friends hung out, had some cocktails, and played taboo. it was a total girls' night. not really my typical style, but fun nevertheless....

tonight, michael and i made some dinner (chicken with leeks, shrooms, and lots of wine) and watched 'la femme nikita' episodes on dvd. nice, relaxing evening. much needed. time with him is generally good for my soul:)

i feel like i have some things to say, but it's nearly 3 a.m., so perhaps i shall leave with promises to return and share more of what's been on my mind....

goodnight. dreamland, here i come....

Thursday, August 28, 2003

'a breath away's not far to where you are....'

i'm entering in a bunch of changes to some curriculum i edited earlier in the day and listening to josh groban...feeling all lovey and melancholy and stirred up. what is it with this song that yanks at everything inside my heart?

in other news, some file folders rocked my world earlier. you see, i had these massive PDFs stacked all over my desk; i was getting to the point where i couldn't take it anymore, so i managed to locate some hanging files, tabs, etc. and put those bad boys away. ah....the serenity of a clean desk top!!

now, back to my sappy song....i'm feeling all crazed with the need to marry. good grief. maybe i should shut off my discman!!

oh, and in other other news, salimah's birthday's in a week and i've done relatively little to prepare for this. i feel like a cheese.....

and a sappy one at that!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

tuesdays are worse than mondays

i'm feeling SO spacey right now. it's only 11:00 and i have to be at this job for another 7 and a half hours. i may cry. honestly, i MAY fall asleep. and to make matters worse, there are deadlines up the wazoo that are just waiting to pounce.

oh, and did i mention that i need to get my nails done?

in other news, and regarding my post below, i'm feeling a bit better, although i'm still on punk patrol (in other words, not letting myself be one).

i think we're having subway for lunch today. i'm feeling the turkey on wheat vibe, people.....

things that i need at this point:
1. lunch
2. a nap
3. a massage
4. some caffeine and/or some form of pick-me-up
5. a long jacuzzi soak

who am i kidding? i would take any one of the above....only two more days in my work week.
must. hold. it. together!!

Friday, August 22, 2003

ish

i'm so angry right now. i feel totally betrayed, and i apparently don't have enough of a right/reason to feel this way....which just makes me all the more angry. i feel like such a fool, and yet how can i really? i've known this all along.

i don't want any person to comfort me. that won't do. Lord, if You don't comfort me, there is no peace to be found. i will not settle for less than what You alone can give.

God, please show me what is true. please give me hope. please remove my blinders if, indeed, i am blind.

am i blind?



Monday, August 18, 2003

gone....

i went to richmond this weekend and hung out with my parents. it was a good, relaxing time, although it was hot as crap and muggy, muggy, muggy. i am used to keeping my house a cool 70 degrees or so, and my parents had the thermo cranked up to 75. it felt like 80.

i spent a good chunk of time on friday evening just crying with my mom. it's amazing to me how entire hours go by and i feel so 'fine,' and then, out of nowhere, a wave of sadness will hit me and i am undone.

death is one of the strangest things in life, the seemingly most final. i wholeheartedly believe in eternity, but it is nearly impossible for me, with my finite mind, to conceive of living on when this earth, this body, passes away. it is strange to think that i will see some people again...see them forever....

all of that being said, i think of my grandparents, of their love for me and the times i spent with them so many years ago; i cannot help but think that i would give all i have just to spend one more day with them, the way they were then. i would give my eye teeth for salimah and michael to be able to sit down with my grandfather and just talk to him. he has been gone for 10 years, and not a day goes by that i don't wish i could talk things over with him just one more time....

but perhaps some day i will.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

'i glow with fire and fury as i'm twisted like a vine....my final shape, my final form, i'm sure i'm bound to find.....'

i'm feeling hopeful about this one particular apartment community that i found on the internet. every apartment comes with its own washer/dryer. honestly, the thought of that is almost too exciting for me to bear right about now. i miss being able to do laundry in the comfort of my own home....

listening to bebo norman right now. i should be working, but my back hurts and i'm not in the mood to proof. sometimes there are more important things to do, like flinging your thoughts into the air and letting them settle on the wind, find their own place to rest. i am getting more and more into the idea of letting things be....

last night, i was feeling heart-wrenched about the status of one relationship in particular. i feel like i've been around and around about this issue with God and things seem to come back to a rather blah middle ground, even despite the sometimes ebb-and-flow nature of day to day interactions. this is not to say that the relationship itself is blah, but rather not exactly where i would want it to be right now....

Lord, i keep wondering, when will things be different? when will this not hurt so much? when will i be able to RELAX?

and over and over, all i keep hearing is trust Me, sarah....

right.....

*sigh*

all right.....

so i wait. and in the mean time, cry out, stretch, reach, heal, bend, kneel, rest, learn, watch, grow.

become.
'you can reach me on an airplane; you can reach me with your mind....'

this is a problem. it's 12:30 a.m. and i have to be up in less than 7 hours. i can't sleep. my mind is too full of things i want to do, want to say, want to be....

i'm going to my parents' house for the weekend, leaving tomorrow evening after work. i'm looking forward to chilling with them for a few days. oh, and it never hurts to get hooked up with some free laundry;)

my to-do list (both short- and long-term):
write some thank you notes
send in my check for my high school reunion
find an apartment
go to target/the drugstore
remove toenail polish
finish my book!!

work has been hectic, long, tiring. how is it possible that already i need a vay-cay (phoenetically spelled for your mental reading pleasure)? what i wouldn't give for a week in new england!

what i'll be having instead is a 6-hour night's sleep and some strained dreams about spacing errors and bad grammar.....

someone fabulous, come and visit me.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

kelsey grammer sounds just like orson welles

i wish i could say that i'm sitting here feeling all changed and intellectually stimulated after watching citizen kane last night, but to be honest, i found it to be kind of boring. i mean, yes, it was a good movie and i enjoyed it, but it was still kind of boring.

and yes, i understood all of the interesting psychological implications of the film and how it was all cutting edge for its time, etc.....

um, yeah. still boring.

but orson welles as a young man.....kind of sexy....(did i just type that out loud?!)

Saturday, August 09, 2003

'Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure....'

today was my day off, and i got my nails trimmed down, filled, and had a french manicure. it was some timely and much-needed pampering, i must say....

when i got home, i tried to catch up with a few friends via phone; this week had been entirely too hectic for social phone calls. i managed to reach a gal pal from high school days and we caught up and shared stories about our lives of late. she revealed to me that she decided to leave her graduate program in favor of starting life her way and ending the whole pressure-based living she's been doing. all i could think of was a solid AMEN to that.

i shared with her how the whole week surrounding my grandmother's funeral had solidified for me what i have known for some time to be true: there is no time like the present to start living my life for real. it has taken me awhile to fully come to terms with how many decisions i have made (or not made) out of fear and/or pressure of the expectations of others. no more. the only person i have to face at the end of the day is God, and if i can't lie in bed at night and be alone with Him and feel okay about the things i've chosen to do with my time and my energy, then what good is all of that? if i am at peace with where He is leading me, then what of the thoughts of others? i can't follow their lead, only His.

it is such a freeing thing to not be bound to all the madness; heck, i've been dragging it around like a weight around my neck for all this time. i am too weary from striving; i am more than ready to be divested of the unrealistic responsibilites i have taken upon myself.

and i realized another thing: no one in my family has walked in my shoes except for me. and i am not like all of them in some very crucial ways. i'm just sarah. i'm just the girl that God created. and that's all i'm trying to be. anyone who wants to judge me can just hold all thoughts to themselves. you haven't hurt my hurts. you haven't cried my tears and laid awake so many nights along with me. only Jesus really knows and only He can give me the strength to keep walking forward. and i am. and this time, my footing is sure and i'm marching to the beat of my own Drummer....

'the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely i have a delightful inheritance.'

(psalm 16:5,6)

Thursday, August 07, 2003

remiss

i know, i know...i've been a bad, bad blogger for weeks now. the truth is that now that i'm working, it's very hard for me to feel like i've got it in me to actually say something interesting enough to put out there in the airflow.

things at work have been mostly good, although this week has brought some pretty serious frustrations, a few of which have been fairly maddening. i wish i could go sink my toes into some cool sand somewhere, read a book, and nap in the shade. clearly, this won't be happening anytime soon, but a girl can dream, right?

i had high hopes that i would get hired on permanently around here, but that also doesn't seem likely, at least not right now.

as usual, life is all about learning to lay it all down, give it away, reflect back to God what has always been the truth:

this is all about Him.

Monday, August 04, 2003

bloodshot

i'm pooped, my back hurts, and my left eye is twitching every few minutes. needless to say, i've been staring at the computer screen all day long.

in about an hour, i'm going back to work to pick up salimah and then we're going to the store to pick up some lunch and din-din for the week.

oh, and news flash: i am so mean....mean. mean. mean.

but not in a bad way.....

Sunday, August 03, 2003

here are some things you should know (in no particular order and for no particular reason):

1. i do not like crowds.
2. i do not like small spaces, especially if the ceiling is low and the air flow is poor (see #1).
3. i have no desire to go to a third world country.
4. i fully support, however, those whose one desire in life is to go to one.
5. i like cold beverages. with ice. lots of it.
6. i am in the business of telling it like it is. if you are someone who likes to be in denial, do not sit by me.
7. i have already decided that if my new apartment cannot have a decent-sized kitchen, i will convert a closet into shelving space for all my pots and pans.
8. i am committed to the notion of gas stove cooking.
9. i love correct spelling.
10. i love correct grammar even more.
11. i do not tolerate passive-aggressive behavior. please do not come and attempt to perpetrate such nonsense on me.
12. i like a good gin and tonic, provided there is enough lime available.
13. i will not be throwing my bouquet.
14. spills make me nervous.
15. cats (and some dogs) make my eyes itch.

Friday, August 01, 2003

branching out

maybe some day soon, i'll miss knowing what it's like to hear someone else's breathing across the room, or how many steps it takes to get from the pleather couch to the bedroom around the corner in the pitch dark. and maybe i'll be lonely and talking to myself and i'll forget that i gave my coffee maker away and wonder why i don't have it, even though i never drink coffee at home. and maybe i'll get used to having no one around to make sure i get up on time and maybe i'll stop thinking that i need to make enough dinner for at least two people every night of the week.

maybe i'll get used to being alone again after all this time.....

i'll definitely miss those impromptu slumber-party-esque talks sj and i have, and saturday morning breakfasts, and even our occasional sibling-like bickering. but i know i'll see her all the time and the fun we have will be more so because it won't be taken for granted as 'roommate time.' and we'll get our own spaces and room to breathe.

and i can have my own kitchen, which is really what seals this whole deal for me at the end of the day:)

so, i don't know when and i'm not yet quite sure how all of this will shake down, but God willing, i'll get to find out for myself sooner rather than later.

whatever happens, though, no maybes about it....salimah, thank you a million times over for giving me a place to rest my head and my heart for the last year or so. wherever you are will always hold a piece of home for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

apron strings

this morning i awoke from the first of what i expect to be many dreams in which my grandmother, still alive, is planning for her death. this happened after my grandfather passed away as well; i would have dream after dream in which we were on the way to his funeral, and he couldn't find his tie....

seeing her again in the dream, looking quite a bit younger, i might add, made me feel so relieved, but when i woke up, i remembered. funny how dreams always work out that way....

< non-sequitur >
i got a good deal of work done yesterday, after which i watched the usual suspects (great!) and, later, the dangerous lives of altar boys (eh, so-so). joining netflix has reminded me that there are hundreds of movies that i wouldn't mind seeing, and since they're all lumped in with one monthly fee, why the heck not? netflix can really work to your advantage if you've got a lot of time on your hands....which, at this point, i do....
< /non-sequitur >

i've been thinking a lot about how my grandparents must have been in their youth. i would have loved to have known them then...they both had such character, were both so honest and giving and kind. and yet, they were also filled with faults, just like the rest of us. as a child, it's hard to see your grandparents as having foibles or bad days or being human, really....at least it was for me. and that's a good thing, and that's a bad thing. the good part, of course, is that i felt amazingly cherished, nourished, and safe with them.....the other side of the coin involved a somewhat unhealthy influence that i allowed their own personal standards to have over my life. i always had the thought in the back of my mind, 'are they ashamed of me for not being all that i could be? for not being all that they were?'

in my grandmother's later years, she had the tendency to be more than a bit 'directive,' and as i made my way through the world and experienced the things i was experiencing, these suggestions (demands, whatever) sounded more like judgment and less like advice. it became harder and harder for me to hear all the ways in which i needed to 'fix' myself. i couldn't deal with it. i pulled away from it. from her. it made me sad, but i did it anyway. she was hurting me, even though i knew it was all about her love and concern for me and her desire that i live my life to the 'fullest.' i just couldn't take being wounded by someone whom i esteemed so highly, who had been such a part of me becoming ME. i thought that if i were a failure in her eyes, the least i could do would be to remove myself from the situation so that no one would have to be bothered by all that i wasn't doing 'right.'

towards the last year or so of her life, she backed off (most likely after my mother explained that she was hurting me), and things were a lot more pleasant in our interactions. but it wasn't the same as when i was younger and i ran to her with all my thoughts and hopes and dreams. it wasn't the grandma i used to know. we weren't really very close anymore, and that was still really hard for me, but i set about the task of telling her every chance i got how much i loved her and how much she helped me to grow. and i purposed to see her through realistic eyes and know that she did love me, that she had always been proud of the person i had become, that she hadn't given up hope that i could do anything i put my mind to. i grew to love her all over again - but this time with an adult heart.

although that kid inside of me still hurts for all that i lost - years, even, before she died, the rest of me grieves for the woman i grew to see - someone strong, with a lot of life in her, someone who took risks, someone who loved deeply and well, someone with faults - just like me - but someone who didn't let her faults hold her back from living her life.

it's a funny thing, really....now that i feel that the pressure of standards has been lifted from me, somehow, it makes me want to BE and DO many of the things that were once 'suggested' to me. and if she were here right now, there is so much i'd want to hear about and learn from her still....and so much i'd want to tell her...all those thoughts and hopes and dreams birthed in a child's heart that were kept quietly tucked away for my adult self to discover some day.

i have lost her.

i am finding me.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

once more, with feeling....

to commemorate nothing in particular, i have gotten nails again. it's been a year and a half (or more) since i last had them, and i was suffering from severe nail envy whenever i went out in public and saw a woman with a nice set....i had been planning to get myself some with my birthday money, but with my grandmother getting sick, etc., it just didn't seem the time....

i still can't believe the funeral was nearly a week ago. i've been remarkably calm since returning. i haven't really cried once. i nearly broke down at work the other day because i was feeling overwhelmed and stressed (fall-out, i think), but i managed to hold it together. salimah asked me tonight how i'm handling all of this. i wasn't 100% sure what to say, because i'm not sure that handling is the right word. i mean, i'm breathing in and out, getting up in the morning, going on about my business like a somewhat 'normal' person, but i'm not experienced enough with loss to truly 'handle' myself in a specific, pre-determined way.

i do genuinely feel, though, that my life has turned some sort of a corner. i am sad that my grandmother is gone, and yet relieved somehow - for her sake, for mine. that may sound strange. i am grieving the loss of an end of an era for me. and i am celebrating that end as well. to start again...to move forward...that is a gift.

watching the casket go into the earth did something inside me. it was as if something got resolved in that moment. and driving down the highway that afternoon into the lowering sun, i understood that i had changed....that i need to change. i'm still sorting this all through. and perhaps that's why i'm not super emotional right now. my brain and heart are very busy figuring and organizing and realizing.

and every morning, another day begins. and i'm working and earning money again. and i'm making plans to get my stuff out of storage once and for all and maybe move soon so that i can start my life...

for real this time.

Monday, July 21, 2003

back

suffice it to say that i returned relatively intact from this weekend's events. i've had little restful sleep since then and i'm still not 100% sure what day it is, but other than that, i'm here. i'm sad, but i'm here.

in other news, it feels good to get back in the swing of things with work. i have more thoughts to that end, but i will save them for a later time when i have a bit more emotional energy to devote to writing something of substance.

so, i'm back in the game.

sort of.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

mourning has broken...

sarah e. johnson franco died july 13, 2003 at the age of 88.
she is survived by a large family (both by blood lines and by heart strings) who love her dearly and will miss her even more.

she is survived by me.

she will go into the ground on saturday morning...into the soil of the mountain on which she was born.
and part of me will go with her....
i may still be here, breathing, but my heart is cracked.

Friday, July 11, 2003

john 3:16

yesterday as i drove through the streets of this city i call home, i saw a man peeing on the sidewalk, in plain view of everyone. i saw another man wrapped in half a sheet, trying somehow to stave off the heat of the mid-afternoon sun. down the block, a man in a business suit, briefcase in hand, talked furiously on his cell phone, wiping the sweat off his furrowed brow. other people ran for the bus, yelling when it left them behind on the curb, oblivious to those they nearly knocked down in the process. tired, overworked people. sick people. lonely, lonely people.

sometimes i lie in bed at night and think about all the faces i've seen, all the lives whose paths i've crossed, often without notice. they are the breeze that lightly brushes my cheek when i've got other things on my mind. ephemeral. a dream. and that is who i am to them as well.

we all walk the face of this earth strangers to one another, our problems hidden in pockets of oblivion, just waiting to be noticed, cherished, by someone other than ourselves. we walk by each other on the street and never say hello. what's the point? we'll never know each other. you'll never see who i really am.

this makes me sad, though, because i know how my own heart longs to be known by another....how sensitive and scared i am...how easily hurt and bruised by the sharp edges of this world. and i know i'm not the only one. most people, i would wager, are that small inside, somewhere inside....feeling the weight of all their sorrows crushing them underneath....desperate for someone to really see them.

and then, my mind wanders to Jesus...the One who knew and saw nathanael before they even met....the One who told the woman at the well everything about herself....the One who is the mirror of truth in my life every single day. here was a man who saw deep into the heart of every person He met and shared in their pains, their sorrows, their joys. a man who didn't turn the other way but looked people in the eye....and, with even the smallest touch, healed their wounded souls.

i want to be like this man. less me, more Him. i want to somehow care for people the way that He did. it isn't about whether you live in a plush suburban home or whether you even have enough money to buy a sandwich at the 7-11. it's about poverty of spirit. there is a richness and depth to the heart of God that the world cannot manufacture or possess. it is the heart that longs for true relationship with all that He has created.....we, the wisps of air. the moments. the flashes of sound and light and movement.

it is my calling - to be a conduit of the love that most people have never known. it humbles and astonishes me that i should know such love. it is the reason i wake up in the morning. it is the reason i drive through this city and give thanks for the beauty of real humanity, raw and hurting. the world that Jesus loves more than anything. the world He came to save from itself.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

i can't sleep. i went to bed and laid there, hoping that i could drift off, or at the very least feel tired enough to think about drifting off. no such luck. my muscles are sore from my nearly 16-hour workday yesterday (self-imposed - i had a lot to catch up on) from home. today was much more in the realm of normal hours-wise, but my body is not happy with me. not in the least.

anyway, my grandmother is hanging on. she's been on a respirator since saturday night, because her condition worsened after salimah and i left; the doctors are hopeful, however, that when they remove her from life support, she will start breathing on her own again. the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical, i think....

this is such a strange time for me. everything feels so surreal....so weighed down by 'what ifs'....nothing seems possible. everything seems possible. who even KNOWS what is possible (well, other than God, of course)....and if my mind has a free moment, it goes to thoughts of my grandmother, all the times i spent with her as a child, all the little moments that i don't think about so often but are still very much there in the recesses of my mind. working an incredibly long day yesterday definitely helped in the distraction department, but tonight, there is nothing to take my mind away....nothing to do but lie there awake and pray for God's mercy....nothing to do but sit here at this computer screen and type myself into oblivion....

i wish i had a hot bath and a long massage and an even longer night's rest. what i will likely get is a fitful, dream-laden 'sleep' and when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m., i will wish i were dead. there's always a chance for something different, of course, but the odds of late seem to be against me.

miles to go notwithstanding, i'm gonna have another try at the pillow.....

goodnight, world.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

after my blog post yesterday, i received a phone call from my mother telling me that my grandmother had been taken to the hospital in hershey, pennsylvania. she had been ill for about a week, but things had gotten much worse and my mom let me know that her condition was critical enough that they were uncertain whether she would make it.

so, salimah and i got in the car this afternoon and drove to see her. the last time i was at hershey medical center was probably almost 15 years ago when my grandfather spent a month there one summer for his heart problems. hospitals give me issues (ironic, considering i've worked in two of them) - other than the fact people sometimes go there to die, i feel very claustrophobic and wind up getting very flushed and warm and feel panicked and sometimes that i almost can't breathe. issues aside, though, i wanted to see her...knew that i needed to go. when we arrived in intensive care, i started to feel nervous, unsure of what i would see. we had to wear masks to enter her room at first (she's in isolation because of respiratory distress and possible infection), and she looked so small and weak - nothing like the spunky little grandma i'm used to seeing. it scared me. i tried to hold my tears in until we left the room, but as soon as i was back in the hallway, i busted out crying.

one half of my childhood security went away 10 years ago when i lost my grandfather, and the other half is lying in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and unable to get enough oxygen on her own. all i could think was please, God....please have mercy on her....please don't let her die yet. i'm not ready for this....she's not ready for this....NO ONE is ready for this....

even though i wound up spending some time in there (post crying episode) visiting a bit and got to see that she's doing better even than i had expected, i'm still scared. i still feel SO uneasy. she's not out of the woods....not even close. a million things are running through my head - memories, mostly. i could go on for days were i to recount all that this woman means to me. i won't get into that here. it's not time for such things. it would be more important...more appropriate...for me to spend that time in prayer - for her healing, for her peace of mind, for strength for my mother, who is primary caretaker at the hospital now.

for anyone who reads this little blog of mine, if you are a praying person, please send some up for my grandmother, won't you?

her name is sarah....just like me.

Friday, July 04, 2003

oh beautiful for spacious skies, etc.

don't you just love it when people say something that could have been witty, and perhaps even subtlely so, and then instead of letting others around them clue in and enjoy the moment, they ruin it by asking GET IT??!! a word to these people: please do not do that....

last night, salimah and i went to see the 11:30 show of 'legally blonde 2: red, white, and blonde.' it was a charming flick, much like the first (although not as good, in my opinion), but i found myself feeling more and more exhausted throughout, such that by the time it was over at 1:15, i drifted home in a haze (thank goodness the road was relatively empty; i know my driving wasn't up to snuff). i am coming to terms with the fact that i need to go to bed at a reasonable hour EVERY NIGHT, not just when i'm working. my 28-year old self cannot take this anymore....

after a rather restful 7 hours of sleep, i got up this morning and we went to blockbuster (stopping by mcd's on the way for some of their mcgriddle sandwiches - too yummy!) to rent some dvds for the weekend. we got 'punch drunk love,' 'how to lose a guy in 10 days,' and 'real women have curves.' i'm looking forward to them all and am definitely loving the sharper picture and extra features of watching a movie on disc....

at some point this weekend, salimah and i are planning on heading over to the austin grill for dinner and then perhaps to paint some pottery at amazing glaze. we were going to jam all of our birthday celebrating into yesterday but decided instead to spread it out over the course of the whole weekend. i'm all about prolonging the joy:)

i've been slowly arriving at a realization that settled into my bones today: i really like this city. on our way home from the movie store, we drove through fells point and canton for a bit, just to scope out the territory, and it really is charming down there. in fact, every part of the city that i've seen so far has its areas, whether small or big, that seem so quaint and lovely. and there are so many great little restaurants and fun, kitschy shops and cafes tucked here and there. unless God directs me elsewhere, i'd like to stick around for a little while....

there's a large american flag hanging from the washington monument (just a few blocks from where we live). baltimore's finest are hanging out on i-83 pulling people over for speeding and other such infractions. frantic, just-out-of-bed people are rushing to stock up on liquor and other party items. the harbor is already a-buzz with tourists up the wazoo....ah yes, 4th of july. i wonder if our founding fathers would have envisioned something like this....fireworks and drunk people and barbecues - all to 'celebrate' a nation that its own citizens too often take for granted. is this day really about freedom, or just another excuse for public debauchery? just a thought....

today, i saw a sign that said 'war is always a failure of humanity.' how ironic - whoever put that sign up has the freedom to do so because someone long-gone fought and died on some battlefield to win him that freedom. there are things far worse than war, people. think of those in other nations that get killed for praying to the 'wrong' God, raising their voice in protest against a public figure, uncovering their hair in public. here, you can call yourself an american and still burn the flag or spit on the constitution, because there are laws PROTECTING YOU for being so disrespectful. no doubt, i put God above country in terms of my own beliefs, and nothing is as important to me as Who i worship at the end of the day, but i will say this: if you live here and you don't have any feelings of thanksgiving for the privilege of getting to exist in a country where you can think your own thoughts and speak them out loud in a government forum, place of worship, school building, etc., then please at the very least, exercise your right to be VERY quiet and keep all your negativity to yourself, won't you? maybe just for today??

so, debauchery aside, happy birthday, america. may your freedom continue to shine....

Thursday, July 03, 2003

recap: happy birthday to me

tuesday morning, i awoke around 9 and spent the morning puttering about the apartment, receiving a couple of phone calls from dear friends, etc. around noon thirty, michael and i went to lunch at donna's in timonium, where we shared a splendid roasted veggie/goat cheese torte, some sandwiches, and a bread pudding with grand marnier sauce (compliments of our waitress, who decided that she wanted to do something nice for me, since i've been there so many times before). after lunch, we made a quick trip to the drug store so i could pick up some sunglasses, and then we headed to the boordy vineyards for a tour and wine tasting.

i won't get into the bumbling tour guide or the maniacal woman who thought she was quite the wine conoisseur (she was, actually, wrong). i will say, however, that while i didn't enjoy many of the wines we tasted, i did leave there feeling quite relaxed. (it took me several tastings before i realized i could dump out the unwanted wine into this bucket they had available. things were further complicated by the fact that the tour guide kept pouring me nearly half glasses of wine. i am not a drinker, people. it went straight to my head.)

after a brief visit back home to freshen up and change clothes, michael came to get me and we went to the brass elephant for dinner. we had a table tucked into the back room and enjoyed a lovely dinner and fun banter with the staff of the restaurant (michael works there) who wandered by to chat every so often.

once we had eaten ourselves to the point of full satisfaction, we went home, where salimah was waiting, and opened my gifts. she gave me a DVD player (!) and had informed some people of such, so i wound up with a nice little starter set of 5 dvds (3 from michael, 1 from cat, and 1 from my parents) - 'two weeks notice,' 'to kill a mockingbird,' 'legally blonde,' 'diana krall: live in paris,' and 'james taylor: pull over.' salimah also gave me a setting of these hand painted dishes that have pears and plums and apples (one fruit on each dish) against a dark taupe background. there was also a lovely pitcher to match. she further hooked me up with the moisturizer i love but can never afford to buy and a ralph lauren bath sheet in beautiful red, white, and blue. michael also bought me a dallas willard book, 'spirit of the disciplines.' a nice haul, i must say:) i have very generous friends!

to finish out the evening, we took our traditional birthday trip to vaccaro's for free dessert and coffee. i had a piece of cannoli cake (most of which got wrapped up to bring home) and an iced chai.

when i look back on that day, i will remember what michael wrote to me in a beautiful card and that he treated me like a queen by driving me all over the place and spending my day with me just how i wanted it.....how we laughed over some of the most mundane things (duck, duck, goose, baby).....how he wrapped one of my gifts in wax paper, because wasting foil stresses me out....

and i will always remember the moment when salimah knew that i knew what she had gotten me, and we both started to cry. and it's not about the gift...it's all that sits just behind it. that girl knows me....all my fears and hopes and the fact that i struggle so often with feeling unsure of anyone's care for me. and she always makes it a point to make sure that i understand that I AM SPECIAL to her.

someday i will be old and i won't remember where i ate that day, or what gifts i was given, but i will remember this: i felt loved. happy birthday to me. indeed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

It is now our annual tradition that I post, in Sarah's stead, on My Brain Hurts on her birthday-proper. So while she sleeps in, and I sit in front of the computer monitor at work nursing a too-sweet coffee, and savoring fruit-filled donuts, I happily take up the assignment to celebrate her in this space.

Over the course of the last year of Sarah's life I have watched her make choices with integrity, that is to say with the outcome and other people's concerns in mind, but without letting those concerns compromise her own boundaries. Sarah's personal goal for the last six months has been to refuse to be a sell-out, to refuse to emotionally whore herself out---in short, to refuse to accept counterfeit offers from the devil (for this is the origin of all counterfeit).

Her generosity of spirit is even more finely formed than a year ago in light of this choice; the decisions she has made have made her even more free in the giving of her time and her resources because she's not troubling herself with the unworthy element. Discernment and Discrimination are not miserly qualities, and Sarah possesses both in spades.

What remains, that you don't know about her, is a lot. Sarah rescues me from feelings of condemnation by being forgiving and compassionate, but without glossing over the truth of the matter. She has watched me be less than careful with money, and has given me countless amounts of it for train fare (during the time of my hellacious commute), she has bought me nice shoes when the cheap ones I owned were falling apart, because she didn't want my feet to get cold, because she wanted my footing to be sure, and continues to be concerned and preoccupied with what is best for me.

This she did while being jobless. I, of course, was employed.

It is a remarkable generosity to simply be concerned about another person's well-being. The mental and spiritual energy it takes to be a presence in another person's atmosphere is staggering.

It is ironic, isn't it, that someone so giving and present often feels so abandoned and uncelebrated? And maybe in the past has felt ashamed of the desire to be such. But it is native to our humanity to want to be noticed by other souls, to be known.

Sarah, I am telling you that I see you for who you are, I know what being my friend costs you, and I know that your counsel is the most complete of any I have ever received from anyone.

I pray for you an exciting year of finally receiving your due. My precious friend, I love you. Happy Birthday.

Monday, June 30, 2003

new year, new look

on the eve of my 28th birthday, and with a new vision for the immediate future of my existence, i have come to the conclusion that it is time for a blog change! my comments are presently flipping out (update: i fixed 'em!! yay!!), but please throw in your 2 cents anyway.....

the next couple of days are packed with activities.....i will post more after the festivities have waned a bit. but in the mean time...

i am excited to see what is around the next corner. circumstantial experience would teach me to fear, perhaps, but i'm going to place my bets on God's love for me this time around. whatever comes my way, i know Who's bringing it....and all that He brings is good:)

and so i wait, Lord, with baited breath.....let's begin all over again.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

birthday celebration, part i

today, my parents came to baltimore for a dual birthday visit (my mother's is june 26; mine is july 1), and along with salimah, we all went to the baltimore museum of art to see their cassatt/whistler exhibit. not the most impressive thing ever, but i got to see some nice etchings of venice and figure drawings of mothers with their children. very pleasant and enjoyable to wander around and then browse in the gift shop. salimah bought me an extra long postcard with a print of 'nighthawks' by edward hopper, a magnet for the fridge, and a couple of ink stamps for my letter writing endeavors.

afterwards, we drove to greektown and had a scrumptious dinner at ikaros, a baltimore institution for 30+ years. spanikopita, moussaka, lamb so tender it fell apart when you stabbed it with your fork, soft, hot bread, salad with huge chunks of fresh feta cheese, cocktails, yummy galaktoboureko (custard topped with phyllo dough and sugary syrup), good conversation, relaxed time together. i was sad to see my parents go, but thankful that the time had gone so well....

after a brief nap, salimah and i drove to barnes & noble to read and have some drinks (her, a white chocolate mocha and me, a chai creme frappucino). i started a new book from my collection and am already finding myself marveling (some 10 pages in) at anne lamott's well-crafted prose.

tonight, as we drove home through the cool night air, i couldn't help but think that today was just so nice....i had made a decision this morning that i would enjoy whatever came my way today, and i had no problem feeling really pleased about it all. perhaps this will turn out to be a good birthday after all. stay tuned. tuesday is just around the corner:)....

Thursday, June 26, 2003

'breakdown....breakthrough'

it is just 5 days until my 28th birthday, and i feel like things are starting to become clear, after all this time....

i am no longer satisfied with feeling like i've taken a backseat to my own existence. so much of my time has been spent allowing other people to make choices for me, or letting life sweep me into its currents without stepping back and asking myself is THIS what i REALLY want? and inside, there has been this nagging feeling that, all along, i have sold myself for cheap and failed to lead the life i really want to lead....the life that God has intended for me from the beginning.

well, no more. i am thinking in a more focused way, asking myself lots of questions, trying to make decisions once and for all - instead of my normal wish and wash.....

so, with all of that being said, i am hereby announcing that i have begun praying through whether or not to go back to school in another year or so. this issue keeps cropping up in my life, and every time, i haven't felt ready (whatever that means). bottom line: it was fear and/or confusion. i'm over that. if i decide not to go, it will be because i have a conviction about it, rather than feeling like i just can't do it.

one of the programs i am considering is the masters in pastoral counseling and spiritual care, offered at loyola college here in baltimore. i'm also going to look into some creative writing programs and perhaps a seminary or two. i'm not sure yet what path i'll take, but i feel like i want to do SOMETHING. it's not really about a career, but more about a richer existence. God, i submit myself to Your will....please make my paths straight - in this and all things.

on another note, i've picked up 40 hours now at this job (16 or so of which will be from home so that i can keep other commitments throughout the week). it's going really well; i feel like i'm an asset to this project. perhaps someone there will think so, too, and give me a permanent job!!:)

i'm also praying through my living situation and whether or not God will provide for both salimah and i to live on our own - sooner rather than later. up until recently, i couldn't even allow myself to seriously consider such a thing, because i had no kind of financial security. it's not that i do now, per se, but things are looking to be turning in that direction. it would be nice to live alone again....we shall see.

this year has been the hardest of my life so far. i have been swimming in a pool of sadness and, while i am not yet out of the dark, there is a light up ahead that is beginning to shine brighter all the time. there are miles to go for me, but i feel God's mercy giving me the means to rest awhile. and while there is a reprieve, i intend to make good use of it.

my life is in God's hands....and so, i press forward.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

memorandum

to: all the men who have waltzed out of my life on a dime
re: my cowardice
date: today, tomorrow, forevermore

i am writing to inform you that i deserve better than anything you ever gave me. i have always deserved better; i just didn't know it until recently. it is unfortunate that i didn't have the courage to kick you to the curb as you paraded your emotional antics in front of me on a semi-regular (if not daily) basis, somehow expecting me to swoon over the cheaply manufactured goods you were proffering. i have taken my egregious errors into consideration and will not be permitting any further soul-damaging madness to occur.

and for future reference, please refrain from expecting me to sell myself short in order to be in a relationship (if that's what you want to call it) with you or anyone of your ilk.

thank you for your time and attention to this matter. have a nice life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

to italicize or not to italicize? that is, actually, the question....

well, i've worked two full days now, and i must say that things are going even better than i expected. it also helps, of course, that salimah is my supervisor and i'm not dealing with any full-blown issues just now. we shall see what happens next!

i will say the following: it is good to feel somewhat productive again after all this time. here's hoping that the possibility opens up for more permanent work after some time passes....

in other news, i've already spent too much money buying lunch. i have GOT to go to the store and pick up some rations. perhaps tomorrow will be the day for such things. yesterday, we went to the whole foods within walking distance of our building. it's good, but it gets too crowded and has too many things from which to choose for lunchtime eats....such things stress me out. i need limited options to save myself from insanity. today, we went to a deli that has a salad bar...quite delish but way overpriced. word of advice: never buy food by weight. hidden costs lie in tomatoes and other heavy veggies:).

salimah and i are going to watch a mooovie now and perhaps eat some din-din (if there is any to be found). nothing exciting here, but isn't that a good thing once in awhile??

Monday, June 16, 2003

what i really want to say is...

...i'm still here.
...i'm starting a part-time job tomorrow at salimah's company.
...i'm worn out and keyed up all at once.
...there aren't quite enough hours in the day.
...i don't really know how much you want to see me.
...i don't really know how much i want to see you.
...i'm scared.
...don't assume anything.
...macaroni and cheese is yummy.
...i'm glad there's a 7-11 in my building.
...my new shoes are already busted.
...i don't feel comfortable enough with my own thoughts to put them out in the airflow.
...if you knew how i really feel, you might not like me anymore.
...i'm not sure that i care about that.
...i'm not sure that i don't.
...i don't know.
...yes, i do.

...no, i don't.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

top ten albums that will ALWAYS remind me of freshman year in college (in no particular order, except #1):

1. counting crows, august and everything after
2. the cranberries, everybody else is doing it, so why can't we?
3. gin blossoms, new miserable experience
4. rich mullins, a liturgy, a legacy, & a ragamuffin band
5. erasure, pop!
6. simon & garfunkel, greatest hits
7. james, laid
8. any of the following three albums by the indigo girls: nomads, indians, saints; indigo girls; rites of passage
9. toad the wet sprocket, fear (this is a carryover from the summer after high school graduation)
10. jimmy buffett, songs you know by heart (ditto on #9)
You are Psalms
You are Psalms.


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