The Confusing Adventures of Being a Real-Life Person

When you come into my blog, you will find a real person. You will not find a perfect Barbie doll or prophet or sage. You’ll find a teenage girl, who really struggles to keep her crap in order and loses important things like sanity, keys and her left shoe on a frighteningly regular basis.

I’m not sure why, but these little truths are sometimes confusing for people. As an openly Christian blogger who doesn’t write solely religious material, I can end up in a weird position. People don’t really know what to make of me. (FYI, I don’t know what to make of me either. Maybe we can compare notes.)

Occasionally you’ll see references to my faith on here, but I must shamefully admit that there’s not much. A handful of funny church stories and a few posts here and there for Easter (actually, I think I may have even deleted that) and such. You don’t see the ups and downs of my relationship with Christ or my favorite Bible verses.

You hear a lot more about my struggles. You see the dark days – I open up my grief, my bad habits, my fears, my stupidity, my anger, my jealousy – and I let you drift through those snippets. I let you peer through a lot of disaster. Sometimes, the words are raw and tear-stained. Other times, they’re shrouded by sarcasm and bitter laughter. Either way, they tell a story that isn’t all too pretty. They follow a girl who’s had some messy stuff happen to her, but prefers to leave a good bit of it unsaid. She’s clearly a minor disaster, but she’s making it through, so I guess that’s all that can be expected. What you don’t always see is how I make it through. You don’t see the nights I spend curled up in prayer, begging for the God I love to mend my broken heart once again. You don’t see the highlighted sections of my Bible, blurred where tears have fallen over the years.

Sometimes, you see a lot of joy. You listen to me proclaim the discovery of my spirit animal and shout to high Heaven that I adore my friends and life experiences. You watch me dance through streets and tilt my head back in the rain, because I love the feeling of it pouring over me. Things get a bit corny and immature at times, but that’s part of the whole humanity thing. Yet, again, there’s so much more you don’t get to read about. You don’t hear about the God who gives me this much joy by loving me and freeing me from my past. You don’t hear about the nights I’ve just sat there, thinking how badly things could have gone and how much I owe to Him.

I open a lot up to you guys and accept your judgment for it, with the hope that you know what you’re signing up for when you subscribe. There’s a whole lot of humanity on these pages, but I can assure you there’s even more behind the scenes – for one thing, far more mistakes are being made than I will ever want to share with you. I’m a terribly imperfect creature, but that’s okay. I’m trying.

But sometimes people don’t understand that my imperfections don’t make me any less Christian. Sometimes, people get really, really confused. They think Christians are perfect and Holy, or they’re not really Christians. They think that, in order to be religious, you must not make mistakes- at least not moral ones. They think God loves perfect people and condemns all sinners to Hell. But, friends, that’s not love. Love is unconditional. It doesn’t abandon you when you make your first mistake. Love never leaves and will wait for us to deal with our issues and return its embrace for as long as we need it to. Sometimes, we wait so long that we forget it’s still holding us in its arms, but it never lets go. “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Love is Christlike. God is love. He would never give up on us, because we sometimes like to swear or forget to pray before eating breakfast. Jesus’ family tree included prostitutes, thieves and murderers, so I think I’m doing pretty okay. There’s nothing any of us can do that will surprise Him. (Sometimes I think I tick Him off a bit, but I never surprise Him – and He always forgives me!) Friends, I don’t care what religion you are or where you stand on evolution or homosexuality or whatever the hell else you associate with Catholic concerns. I do want to tell you one thing, however, and I want you to listen to it very carefully.

8b7b8b5c6a25a7dec6b07a139a2e2119

Are you ready?

Okay. Here it goes:

God is still with us. Even if we’re not perfect.

No matter what is happening, He’s still there. When I’m sad or afraid or angry, He’s there to comfort me. When I’m thrilled beyond belief, He’s there to happy dance beside me. He doesn’t expect perfection, because He created us and understands humanity and all its stupid ways. It’s because of our imperfections, not in spite of them, that we’re often called to do His work. No matter who you are or what you believe in, that’s fine. That’s totally up to you and I’m really not into judging people’s choices. I do think, however, that we all have to do our very best to treat one another honestly. Let me start. I’m honestly telling you that I often suck at life, but God has never given up on me. I’m honestly trying desperately to explain that Christians look like everyone else. They aren’t perfect. They don’t always know their scripture very well or discuss philosophy in their free time or work at Hobby Lobby. They don’t always wear crosses or sing hymns or have ten years experience as altar boys. They’re trying to make life work, just like everybody else. The (honest) Christians out there are really, really trying to love unconditionally, surrender themselves to Him and share the awesome with everyone, and that’s all He asks of us. If it’s good enough for Jesus, I think it’s good enough for the rest of us, too, right? Let’s try our very best to expect more than cookie cutter personalities, and try to forgive one another when we don’t meet expectations, okay?

image

We don’t all look like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, friends; I appreciate it.

Imperfectly,
Erin

“Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Abraham was old,… and Lazarus was dead. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the CALLED!”

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.”
Erma Bombeck

You may have noticed I turned into a sheep.

Yeah, I’m a sheep now.

Since you’re all (*ridiculous generalizations coming, brace yourselves*) the observant, introverted writer types, I have no doubt someone will notice I changed my Gravatar profile image. It’s no longer a cute little quote about dancing in the rain.

Instead it’s a (rather adorable) picture I took of a black sheep. There’s kind of a sweet story for why, so I’m hoping you’ll like my choice.

While I was in Ireland a few weeks ago, there were sheep everywhere.

Seriously, everywhere.

Sheep.

Sheep.

In fact, we were driving around the Ring of Kerry, when this little, fluffy sheep came hopping down the road. Hopping. Like a giant rabbit stuck in a cotton ball. There was another sheep next to it that was just meandering along, probably judging its friend’s eccentric joy. I loved this little, hopping sheep, though. It was like my spirit animal, and I wanted to take it home.

But I couldn’t do that. It wasn’t my sheep, and I decided not to be convicted of sheep-napping. That’s just an awkward thing to have on your record. Instead, I have pictures of it and I’m using them as reminders to always be furiously happy and dance like no one is watching. I want to let myself be happy, even when it doesn’t seem like there’s much to smile about or the other ‘sheep’ don’t understand. There are no sweet clichés on my picture anymore, but there is a whole lot of meaning for me personally (in a really weird, slightly concerning way), and I’m hoping some of you will be able to find truth in it as well. I was going to do a longer, more elaborate post on it, but sometimes, I think it’s better to just declare it your spirit animal and call it a day.

 As a side note, unfortunately, the actual sheep photo would not load properly onto Gravitar, so this is a different sheep. It’s still kind of an odd creature – plus it’s a black sheep – and I think it was posing for the pictures, so it works just as well. Additionally, I’ve decided he or she needs a name. If anyone has suggestions, please let me hear them!

(Also, I don’t own this sheep – I just took the picture – so I apologize if it’s your sheep…)

Our new mascot!

Our new mascot!

 

UPDATE: The sheep’s current name is Nara (which means happy!!). It can have a middle name, too, though, so feel free to keep the brilliant ideas coming. In other news, I found this video of a hopping sheep for your amusement.

My Escapades: Pub dancing, language learning and other chagrin

Dear charming readers,
How are you? It’s been too long. I was traveling across foreign lands, my friends – meeting so many wonderful people and learning such brilliant lessons. Although these things are never as perfect as one might like, I had a fabulous time and am planning how to get back or go to some other amazing place. (See if you know where I was, without clicking on the links! Remember, it may have been a few countries.)

Unfortunately, vacations do often require neglecting all responsibilities back home (which sadly included my blog reading and writing). Instead, I got to pour my soul into something beautiful and rediscover who I want to be at the same time. I think it was worth the trade. Not to mention the fun of being able to cross off some goals from my life list! (But that’s a tale for another time!) Still, I hope to be caught up on most of your blog posts soon and have some anecdotes ready for you!

Now, without further ado, I present my (abridged) version of what I did over vacation on holiday:

  • Brushed up on my foreign swears (unintentionally)
  • Refused to kiss a rock (eww)
  • Danced all night in a pub or two
  • Watched a security guard look up how to do his job on ehow
  • Ate illegal candy like the rebel I am
  • Spent six hours being kicked by an old lady sitting behind me on a plane (I kept checking to see if she’d switched seats with a toddler.)
  • Waited in line for an hour to pretend to run into a wall
  • Had a full-scale Disney sing-along with two ‘adults’
  • Danced on castle grounds
  • Posed with a real life FREE-ROAMING lemur!
  • Learned to predict weather based on a cow’s posture
  • Giddily visited an execution grounds
  • Struggled to speak the native language, although it should have been my own (Fries are chips. Chips are crisps. Crepes and pancakes are both called pancakes half of the time, and their ‘lemonade’ tastes like 7-Up – and don’t even get me started on asking for the restroom!)
  • Learned an awesome Australian word for umbrella that I don’t know how to spell (I can’t find it on Google, so there’s a chance the woman was just fooling with me, and it’s not actually a thing. It sounded like “umbidilly” but maybe one of you can tell me how to write it, if it exists?)
  • Got awkward cheek kisses from over a dozen strangers I’m supposedly related to
  • Took pictures with a bunch of park benches
  • Let my brother hold me upside down near the edge of a cliff
  • Taught Irish dance in a park, down a street and outside a pub (while a strange Asian man video taped me)

I think that’s enough for now. I have to keep some things mysterious, don’t I?

Hint: There is a high likelihood I did some more touristing, too. I may not have actually spent all my time dancing in pubs late at night and unfairly judging people.

Maybe.

All in all, everything was “grand and lovely” and I’m sure you’ll hear more soon!

Cheerio, friends!
Erin

(Photo owned and taken by yours truly.)

(Photo owned and taken by yours truly.)

“When people went on vacation, they shed their home skins, thought they could be a new person.”
Aimee Friedman

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.”
Elbert Hubbard

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
Maya Angelou

Tales of Drunken Youth

(I’ve kind of thrown any writing style expectations a curve ball today, so you’ll see my thoughts in italics as I go. Enjoy the glimpse into my brain! Try not to get lost in there…it’s a bit terrifying.)

Well, they won’t be seeing enough of it to get lost, just a glimpse. It’s like they’re peering through my mind’s living room window…that’s really creepy. I should get some shades for it. Let’s not say that…

Wine can be pretty powerful the first time you have it, huh?

I swear I’m not a hard core party animal or anything.

I went to church.

I should probably disclose these stories aren’t that recent…why am I even telling them now? The time I met a drug dealer on a Girl Scout trip would be a better option…

My aunt runs the First Communion program at our parish and is a firm believer in having kids practice before they partake in the Sacrament. That includes trying the unconsecrated bread and wine.

Why? Well, because she thinks if they don’t try it in advance, they’ll have wine for the first time at mass and spit Jesus blood all over the altar. That’d be so bad…I wonder if she’d make them lick it up…

Church wine isn’t good. That’s just a fact of life. So, for most kids, they try it once, make a face and don’t practice with the wine again.

Except, when they like the wine.

I doesn’t happen often, but every once in awhile, we get a second grader who’s ready to move on from juice boxes.

At one of these practices, there was a little boy (henceforth known as Grapes) who quite enjoyed the “special juice.” When Grapes had it, his first reaction was a huge smile and informing the teacher how delicious it was. That’s not a good sign. Nobody likes church wine…

When Aunt asked if anyone would like to practice again, he jumped up.

“ME! I do!” he yelled.

(After scolding him on using an appropriate volume inside the church) Aunt let Grapes and a few others go through again, most not taking the wine the second time. She continued this five more times, not paying much mind to who was or wasn’t drinking the wine. Then, she sent all the kids home with their parents (who, by the way, were there the entire time).

Later that night she got a call from Grapes’ mom.

“Hey, Grapes might have had a bit too much wine today…” she said, stifling her laughter.

“What do you mean? Is everything okay?” Aunt asked.

“Yeah, but, um, Dad’s taking him to soccer right now. When I told him it was time to go, he twirled around in a circle waving his socks in the air and said ‘Let’s gooooo to soooccer!’” she imitated in her best drunken child voice.

I hope no one has heard that voice before?…

“Oh my gosh. *ahem* I’m so *snort* sorry!” Aunt giggled.

“It should be an interesting game! I don’t think he can even walk in a straight line!” she cackled back.

“Oh geez, you’ll have to tell his coach he got drunk at church!”

“At least we know how much is too much at rehearsal now! He must have taken it every time…Geez, he’s going to drink the church dry on his First Communion!”

Grapes is one happy kid now. Not only is he fed by the Holy Spirit every Sunday, he also enjoys his fix of church wine.

image
^ “Don’t tell Mommy I drank the whole chalice.” (Sorry, my captions aren’t behaving.)

This child enjoys it much more than I do…heck, the first time I had it…

I, on the other hand, feel quite differently about the wine situation. At my church, there’s no expectation you’ll take it, so I generally don’t. However, it’s not like that at all churches. I went on a mission trip a few years ago with a Lutheran group (I’m Catholic) and we visited another Lutheran church for mass. Now, I, being a rather obsessive person, grilled the people I was with on whether or not I was allowed to take Communion and how that whole process worked in their faith.  I did my homework. Everyone I asked told me about how we’d all go up together and kneel on the altar, but that receiving Communion would be similar to what I was familiar with and not to worry about it. I was still pretty nervous I’d screw up,

-or cough and spit Jesus on the floor. It’s a reoccurring fear.-

but I figured there was nothing more to ask and quietly listened to the priest’s homily. When it was time, I got up to the altar and knelt down without catastrophe, so I was feeling pretty okay with the situation.

Things always go badly when you start to feel confident.

Then, the priest came over with this huge tray of what looked like Dixie cups of wine arranged in rings. I awkwardly took one and waited for the person next to me to take hers, too.

Weirdly enough, I was wondering whether the cup you took would reveal something about you. I was hoping I’d get to read tea leaves or something after I drank it…

Now I was conflicted. Were we supposed to wait for each other and drink it once we all had one, or should I just drink it now? I decided to just get it over with, so I took a sip, and then immediately regretted that this was the first time I’d ever had wine.

I was in a strange church with people I didn’t know very well, and I was painfully close to spitting Jesus.

Seriously, though, am I the only one who’s petrified this will eventually happen?

I closed my eyes and swallowed, drinking as much out of my cup as I could (without spitting it out). Then, he came back with a tray for us to put cups on and gave me a slightly unchristian look when he saw the trickle of wine left in the cup.

So much for no judgment.

Okay, fine. I admit it. It was significantly more than a trickle. Still, the judgment was not necessary.

I smiled apologetically and walked back to my pew.

My Lutheran friend leaned over to me once we had sat down, “I can’t believe you took the wine!” she whispered, slightly scandalized.

“What do you mean? Was I not supposed to?” I started to panic, picturing it as some horrible sign of disrespect, since I was not Lutheran and had participated in their Sacrament.

“No, it’s fine! But the inner rings had cream soda!” she laughed.

Oh my gosh. I just risked spewing wine (aka Jesus blood, in my faith) all over this priest I don’t know when I could have been drinking soda??

Peachy.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me that?” I whispered back and we both had to bite our lips to stop laughing.

So, then I had not only taken the wine when there was soda, I was also whispering and laughing in church.

Yup, that’s how you should act in a new parish… (*sarcasm*)

Not to mention the fact that my brain was feeling a bit foggy on my way out of the church…I guess I know what my choice in cups reveals about me. I shouldn’t take up drinking.

image

Think of me as you get ready for church tomorrow, and remember- don’t spit Jesus blood!

You people think I’m kidding, but it actually is one of my biggest fears…

I really should have told the Girl Scout story instead. Or maybe the one about that time I met a prostitute. Or when I was compared to a pole dancer… Geez. I had better options, didn’t I?

Reasons to Love Vacation Bible School

1) The preschoolers’ jokes

“Why’d the chicken cross the road?
Because there was a dinosaur!”

2) The emotions described through comics

“Do you read Garfield? ‘Cause I’m thinking of this one where he’s looking at the Jon’s food with really big eyes and Jon tells him to stop it, so Garfield ‘changes’ his expression by smiling really, super big, but he’s still eyeing the food. Then, Jon says he’s lost his appetite, so Garfield can have the food.”

*eyes Goldfish*

image

I couldn't find the comic strip, so you get this creepy image instead.

3) The music…and dances

Oh, the permanently plastered smiles and goofy dancing with fellow counselors…

image

It looks a lot like this, except I'm not that tall (or a middle-aged man).

image

There's also some of this.

4) Using the Bible lesson of the day to get everyone to do what you want

I got a counselor a year older than me to stop singling out my camper that didn’t want to dance (she’s really shy so her motions were very small) by talking about how we learned Jesus wants us to be inclusive and ranting about lepers. He’s scared of me now. I see no problem with this. :D (Also, I swear the leper thing was related. It made sense. Mostly.)

5) Learning valuable first aid skills through experience

ie. How to get yogurt out of a child’s eye (Yes, her eye. And nose. And possibly ear. Bet that’s never come up in your first aid course.)

image

These stupid tubes were responsible for a lot of my troubles.

6) My third graders’ new counting system

“Pick a number between 1 and 4.”
“5!”
Between 1 and 4.”
“8!”
“…”

7) Camp T-shirts

The back of mine says “WWJD?”. My answer? John 2:15. (Which is “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables,”) Jesus chased people with whips and flipped tables. That’s what He’d do.

image

:D

image

The above shirt is actually my sister’s, but we basically did the same thing.

8)…Hearing that, still, despite my cynicism, Jesus loves me! ;)

“Make a list! It fixes everything!” Not.

You know how when you don’t know what to write people tell you to make a list of ideas?  Well, I decided to do that today. Unfortunately, my bullets turned into monologues on random thoughts, but they still don’t want to become solitary posts. As a result, I’m just posting my list. I think it’s pretty entertaining to laugh at my struggles, as unedited as they may be. (If you want me to expand on anything, let me know, and I will!)

 

  • I tried to put cereal in the freezer today (an entire box)…and dropped candle wax under my dresser. (Well, Scentsy wax) Then, I went to a store and risked breaking expensive items.

  • Vacation Bible School is coming up, and I already know 90% of the kids I’m working with from last year. One of them asked for my phone number yesterday. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to work with any of the counselors I was hoping to work with, just because of the logistics. I’m a “veteran” counselor now, which makes it sound like I survived a war (but I kinda did…), so I’ll be paired with a newbie. My particular newbie will be there very late every single day and may or may not even show up, which is going to be great fun. (*sarcasm*) He’s the little brother of the counselor I worked with last year, though, and is a pretty awesome kid. Still, I’ll be alone with many young children who mostly already know me and constantly want my attention. This should be interesting. Luckily, they also already know my ground rules. (1. Only use kind words and be polite and friendly to everyone. Our group is a family for the week. 2. Listen to me. Seriously, just listen the first time, and we’ll all be a lot happier in the long run. 3. Try everything, even if you might not like it. 4. Bring a positive attitude everyday. 5. No picking your nose or other germy activities that will force me to ask you to wash your hands. 6. No injuries. I don’t clean up blood.)

  • This morning, I had to call my deceased grandmother’s bank, because she wrote me a check for my Confirmation before she passed away and I hadn’t deposited it yet, so I wasn’t sure if I still could. I didn’t really care about the money, but it would be a problem if my grandfather saw it wasn’t deposited. Good news, I still can. It’s not too late.

  • I wrote a really decent post last night, but I’m saving it for when I lose the will to write. Right now, I want to write, but I have a lot of ideas swarming through my brain and they just can’t decide who is going to be written next. They’re all arguing about who’s turn it is like freakin’ annoying toddlers.

  • I don’t use real swears very often on this blog, mostly because I’m under 18 and I have this weird notion that swearing in front of strangers is an adult privilege. Also, I don’t swear in real life (usually). Once I turn 18, the writing part of that might change. I’m betting a lot will change actually- my birthday may result in tsunamis and typhoons and all kinds of ugly. I’ll warn you in advance.

  • There’s a beach ball on my neighbor’s lawn and I’m pretty sure I want to play with it more than my dog does. It’s just sitting there, balancing on the edge of the hill, begging to be volleyed over their net.

  • I was jokingly fighting with my sister yesterday (who works in a kindergarten) and I screamed “I’ll bite you!” in a truly childish fashion (intentionally). She responded with “Use your words, Erin!” but I’m pretty sure that saying “I’ll bite you!” counts as using your words.

  • I have a bunch of new followers, so I should probably write one of those cute intros people do when they hit milestones (over 150 now! Woohoo!) but I usually don’t think those posts are terribly interesting, and I have no idea what to say. Can we pretend this counts? I bet it reveals a lot about me…

 

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
Charles Bukowski,

“Very often we write down a sentence too early, then another too late; what we have to do is write it down at the proper time, otherwise it’s lost.”
Thomas Bernhard

 

 

 

 

Giving 110%: Otherwise known as impossible, crappy expectations I have no intentions of fulfilling

I can’t give 110%.

I will never be able to give 110%.

It doesn’t matter if you beg or flatter or offer bribes. The simple fact is that there is no 110% of love or effort or determination. I only have 100% to give, and I’m not so sure any person should even get that.

A couple of years ago I had this surprisingly insightful conversation with my fencing coach. (Yeah, I fenced. I also took karate, and I’m a damn good shot with a bow. You better play nice. ;) ) I was still fairly new, but I was determined and hardworking. That gets you pretty far in itself, but mostly he was just a great coach and was constantly offering me new challenges.

After explaining one of them, he  asked “Are you going to give me 110%, Erin?”

“Yes, sir,” I promised immediately.

“No, you’re not. That was a trick question. Where do you plan on finding an extra 10%? You only have 100%. You’re human. Heck, I don’t even want you to give me the 100%. Only give me 90. Save something for yourself.”

I’m human. I “only have 100%.”

Have you ever heard someone ask you for less than you’re offering? People always, always want more, but, after a point, there’s nothing more to give. Coach knew I was giving him my all, and that was what worried him. He also knew I needed to give myself permission to take a break or goof off or just simply stop trying to be perfect. I needed permission to breathe for the sake of breathing, without an ulterior, productive goal. And do you know what happened when I gave myself that permission? I realized how capable I was. I looked around the room while I was *breathing* and saw that I could hold my own against my more experienced peers. I allowed myself to have enough confidence to be happy with my progress, and I also made some lifelong friends. I found out that breathing can be pretty spectacular and there’s a lot of joy in taking a break.

As a volunteer, I push myself to reach for 99% of my attention, compassion and patience to be directed at those I’m helping and other volunteers. (Oh, come on. We all know the other volunteers are usually the trying ones to work with!) But at least 1% of my patience has to be kept for myself. I need it to forgive myself when I don’t understand what someone is asking me or for when I make a mistake. I can’t give all my patience and love away, if I want to be of any use in the long run. I think the same thing is probably true for life in general. We need to remember that it’s okay to call a time out. We need to know it’s okay to be unhappy sometimes and weep or whine or whatever it takes to feel better- whether that means talking it out or claiming your right to remain silent. That’s how we keep going. We pause, so we can start again. We allow ourselves forgiveness for our humanity and the courtesy of a little time or patience, and it works out a lot better for everyone.

So, dear needy significant others and sport commercials and society that demands I constantly be happy and successful and perfect, you can screw it. I will never give 110% for anything on this planet. I will not push myself to 110%, because I would lose myself. I will not give you “my all,” because why should you possess me? I am not yours. No, I will give until it hurts and I’m tired and frustrated, but then I will let myself pause and simply be with myself. I will probably scream. I might swear or throw things, but, in the end, I will get up again better than I was before because of the pause that is the 1% of patience that is mine and only mine.

You cannot have my 1%.

I will not find an imaginary extra 10% to please you. It does not exist and I have no intentions of inventing delusions for you.

(But have fun with the mystical, magical super human strength you think you have. I wish you the best of luck.)

image

I left it

An incredibly, astoundingly, earth-shatteringly good poet posted this on her blog (along with many other pieces- check her work out):

“The first sentence (of my poem) must be “I left it.”
What is the second sentence”
(Alice Notley, 2001)

I left it.
[fill in the blank yourself –
the pen isn’t as heavy
as they would have you believe]

I loved this poem so much that I decided I would follow her instructions and finish it. This is what that pen wrote.

I left it.
Under the stacks of magazines,
the covers full of glistening eyes
and tiny waists,
I think it might be there.
Wadded into a tiny ball,
(because we all know women
aren’t meant to take up much
space)
you’ll find it.
But, no, please don’t look.
I’m sure it doesn’t fit me anymore.
I doubt it could stretch across my
larger frame
and cover me decently.
Besides, women aren’t meant to
wear that in public.
It’s disgraceful.
Scandalous.
Unattractive.
No, please don’t.
Leave it shriveled up and hiding.
Leave my confidence in that
corner
under the airbrushed magazines
where no one can see it.
Don’t give it back.

For, if you do,
I might just like the way it feels
and then where would I be?

That Time the Governor Ditched Us

I have literally spent the last hour trying to figure out how to tell you a story.

One darn story.

Honestly, I think the problem was that I was trying to write in a notebook in the room I usually write from my phone in. Laugh all you want, but now I’m on my phone and I can write in coherent sentences (I think).

Unfortunately, my taste to tell you that tale has turned tart. (Even random alliteration cannot resurrect interest in it.)

Still, I want to write, so I’m going to tell you a story that I meant to tell you months ago but never quite got around to.

During my legislative internship this past year, I met the governor multiple times. (Henceforth known as G.) The first time I met G with the other interns was extremely disappointing. We had allowed forty five minutes to meet in the office and discuss the work we’ve been doing, but apparently G had different plans. When we got there, a sweet, frazzled secretary ushered us into a function room and told us where to stand.

“This is where you’ll want to be for the picture,” she explained.

“Thank you so much!” we harmonized. Oh gosh, we were hard-core fan-girling over meeting the governor.

A few minutes later, we heard those clear, confident official footsteps coming our way and G was looking us over. The (also frazzled) recipient of our fandom marched down the line to shake our hands and say something brief to each of us, as is expected. It ended up being “What do you want to go into? Do you have plans for college?” which are probably the two most stressful questions you can ever ask a bunch of teenagers. Plus, they’re extremely loaded. You better have the right answer. (You say there is no right answer, huh? Try something that sounds ‘under-ambitious’ or something very prestigious. You’ll be told to aim higher or lectured on how hard it is to achieve said goal. Trust me when I say these are not fun conversations.) Then, a camera flashed, we were promised the picture would be sent to us (it wasn’t) and we were out the door. The whole process was done in under ten minutes. Four of which were spent being placed for the photograph and waiting for our audience.

As the other interns and I found a place to sit and chat outside the State House, certain footsteps came toward us again. We each smiled and sat up straighter, hoping to see what was so urgent. Surely, rushing through our visit was necessary for the country’s wellbeing. We would probably be getting medals for sacrificing our right to speak to those who represent us. Those footprints were going someplace crucial, maybe the White House. Oh, they were doing great things all right.

Those very official footsteps marched very urgently down the street to an ice cream parlor. G didn’t as much as glance over at us.

But, hey, I get the need for ice cream. I just wish we hadn’t been planning to go there, too. You can’t follow the governor to an ice cream parlor. It just looks bad…

“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.”
Don Kardong

PS I apologize for having such an inconsistent posting schedule lately. Life happened and I didn’t feel like writing weekly poetry, so I stopped. It’s just one of many scheduling flips I’ve done, and I may still write poems. We’ll see how I feel about it later on. I started this blog by writing every day for a month, and you can see how much that has changed. I know the lack of structure can be difficult for my friends who thrive in consistency, but that’s how I work so you’ll just have to forgive me. What can I say? Sorry for any upset, but this is probably going to continue to happen. I changed my mind on what I want to do next week about six times today and don’t even talk to me about what career I’m going into! Indecisiveness is a bit of an Achilles heel with me. I’m going to take the next week or so off from blogging, but I still plan to read your wonderful pieces! (I’ll be writing, too, just not for the blog.) Thank you for your flexibility!

Obituaries Rewritten

When I was a little girl, my grandmother would throw marbles onto her stone driveway before I visited. As soon as we pulled up in our car, I would jump out to go gather up all the marbles hidden among the pebbles and return them to her.

“Thank you! I’m always losing my marbles, aren’t I?” she’d say with a wink.

Sometimes, she even let me throw them back out for the next grandchild to discover. You have no idea how absurdly exciting it was to me. Those little moments meant the world to me, and I have a feeling I’m not the only grandchild pining for a marble scavenger hunt right about now.

These little moments are what I want to focus on this week. Obituaries can be so cold, so clinical. It sums up a beautiful life into three short paragraphs, the majority of which is a list of surviving family members and dates. It never mentions the marbles she laughed with her grandkids over or her beautiful smile. It never echoes the many times she told me about all the jobs “gals are in” now from electricians and construction workers to CEOs, adding the first fuel to my feminist streak. Obituaries are just dry, empty outlines. She lived here, loved there. That’s just not enough, is it? No- this is what I want to add to her obituary:

J was one of the kindest, most faith filled and most genuine women you will ever meet. She believed in people with such a fervent honesty that you had no choice but to believe, too. She loved to share her wisdom from teaching her granddaughter the names of different trees and their leaves, to proving to the world how much girls can do. Her family misses her endlessly, but is ever grateful for the time they had with her and everything she taught them. Unconditionally loving, marble-‘losing’, brilliant grandmothers don’t come along very often, and their footprints never fade. Although J has passed away, her lessons live on in the hearts of many, and, in that, her beauty will never die.

image

Here’s to all our geraniums. Some beauty endures all and lasts longer than life itself.