Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Talk is a little cheaper

I have a friend. She and I communicate. Oh do we communicate.

I get to work. We shoot each other emails (1). Oh you know…about our nights. Who we saw. How things went. Was dinner with mom good? If a boy called. What time we went to bed. Whatever. Then a few hours later, she may check my blog and post a comment (2). Then I text her around noon (3) that I’m on my way over to eat lunch with her, so I’ll see her soon. We meet and find a place to park it outside for a half-hour lunch. Although we’ve already communicated in three different ways so far today, we’re now talking in person (4). For real talking. After lunch we don’t even say goodbye because we know that soon we’ll be in touch. And sure enough, a couple hours later, she’s sending me a piece of flair on Facebook that has me laughing out loud at my desk. So, to thank her, I quickly post a message on her Facebook wall (5). And then a bit later, I have a work question, so I hop on Facebook and see if she’s got hers open. Yup. So I open up a Facebook chat (6) and we go back and forth for a minute or so. Then the work day is done, and I realize I forgot to tell her something, so I call her (7), and we have our seventh form of communication for the day: a phone conversation.

Out of control? I think so.

But these forms of communication do not a friend make. They help, but I think the best communication is often not said or heard or read. It’s the meeting of the eyes when something funny happens—something that’s funny only to you two. And it’s the silence when you’re together…when you don’t need to say anything. The other person has had a bad day or is tired or crabby, and being there with nothing to say is just fine. Or running the last three miles of a 10-mile run together in silence, knowing you’re each pushing and encouraging each other simply by staying together. And it’s also just knowing that that person has you in his or her thoughts and is praying for you, and has your back.

I love words, so I’m not willing to say talk is cheap, but a shout out to my friends who do more than communicate with words.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flowers that don't wilt

I woke up this morning to a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. They came from my friend’s party over the weekend. She had these arrangements on the tables, and I got to take one home. I didn’t even have to put my name in a hat or anything. (She thinks I’m VIP!) As I put fresh water in them while brushing my teeth, I wondered how long they’d last. “Hang in there,” I wanted to tell them. “You’re so pretty and you brighten my day!”

And then I looked outside and saw today’s gray cloudiness, and I felt another sense of urgency. “No no no,” I thought. “The sun should be out.” Summer is going by so quickly, and we need all the sunny days we can get. I can’t bear the thought of fall right now. I need to wear my swimsuit at least 15 more times, and my friends and I haven’t hit all the rooftop bars yet, and I haven’t gotten to go camping yet.

And isn’t this so much of life? It feels like I’m putting my hand into a stream of water, and I’m trying desperately to stop the flow, to somehow catch the good drops, but they keep going by. They glide through my fingers, and I’m left wondering where they went.

On some vacations, I just want to sit around and do nothing…just stare at the wall. Because maybe this will make time go by slower.

A long and deep relationship ended, and I wanted to turn around and snatch back as many days spent with this person as possible. But they’re gone. Never to return.

I rushed to the hospital to say goodbye to my grandpa before he left. But I missed him by minutes, mere minutes. I missed him, and I miss him, and I can’t rewind.

But after watering my flowers this morning, I plopped down to write out my memory verse for the week. Which sounds very Christian-thoughtish of me, but I assure it’s not. I’d say I only memorize about 50% of the time. But I try.

This week’s verse comes from Psalm 100, verses 4 and 5.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
And his faithfulness to all generations."

Steadfast, endures, forever, faithfulness. God’s love won’t go away. Unlike the best vacation or the prettiest flowers, it goes on and on and on. Contrary to the relationships we cultivate in this world, a relationship with God sticks. And although I can’t walk through grandpa’s yard drinking iced tea with him again, I know there’s an eternity that he and I will experience together.

So, life is a really fast-moving stream of water. But thankfully God is the big rock right in the middle. HE doesn’t go away. And the flowers he gives me never wilt.

Monday, July 28, 2008


A guy recently told me: well-played. He was referring to me cutting to the chase, because, in fact, I hate playing! Dating is rough. At least for those of us who would rather be chillin’ at home (alone with some TCBY or a good book) than out on a bad date (good restaurant or not). Anyways, back to well-played. I just didn’t want to waste time. Life’s too short. Now, don’t get me wrong…the chase…the questions…the wondering…these are good and fun for awhile, but then c’mon. I'd rather just tell the guy I'm not interested than try to send subtle hints and hopes he gets it (because he won't), and on the flip side, I'd rather just let the guy know I am interested. Seems simpler. Neater. Nicer. And time is of the essence.

So, what follows are some tips on how guys can play well with girls. They’re taken from my own experiences as well as those of some of my dearest single girlfriends (and, boys, I know we could use some tips on how to play well with you too).

1. Do not drive your date to your favorite hunting spot on the second date.

2. Do not tell your date that your dad raised exotic zoo animals and you used to ride ostriches. And then when she asks about llamas (trying to somehow participate in this odd conversation), look at her like she’s a complete idiot, telling her straight-faced that llamas are way too domestic.

3. If you say you’re going to call, call. And not a day or two later. And this goes for texts, emails, stop-bys, letters sent by messengers on horseback.

4. If you’re wondering if you should tuck in your shirt, don’t.

5. Do not give a girl your phone number and tell her she can call you if she wants. Ask for her number, and if she’s not interested, she won’t give it to you. (I wouldn’t)

6. Do not take a girl to an expensive restaurant and/or activity and then make her pay her own way. She didn’t ask to go there in the first place!

7. Do not tell your date that she can go ahead and order a DQ blizzard (a chocolate chip cookie dough one!) but you’re going to pass because there are too many calories in it.

8. Do not always have a wingman.

9. Do not send flowers to a girl who is not your girlfriend.

10. Caution when hitting on a girl while sitting down. There’s a good chance she may be taller than you when you stand up.

11. First dates shouldn’t be asked out via texts.

12. Do not get mad at the guy in the parking ramp booth because you lost the parking stub.

13. Do not ask “Are you or are you not attracted to me?” prior to asking for a girl’s phone number.

14. Don’t suggest future hangouts if you know they won’t happen.

15. Do not continue texting and calling, leaving 2-minute voice messages four years after the dating has ended. That usually means it’s done.

16. Don’t say that actually lots of people think you look like Tom Cruise. You’re not a moviestar, and neither are we.

17. Don't think seven pairs of sunglasses on your stick shift is cool.

There are more. Oh, there are more. But I’ll stop. Well-played is hard to come by, but I’ve found it’s generally accompanied with honesty, common courtesy, thoughtfulness and every now and then, flowers. Play well, my friends. Play well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Half straight, half curly

Usually, I blow-dry my hair straight, and every now and then I throw people for a loop by letting it air dry, and thus, letting it go curly. (Thank you, mom.) When I do this, I inevitably get asked if I got a perm. Do people even still get perms? The idea that people think I’m the type of person who would get a perm in 2008 is a little distressing, but I smile and say no, it’s natural. Then they say they’re jealous. They wish they could do both curly and straight.

Sure they do, until it gets humid, like today! I blow dry it straight, and by the time I get to work it’s begun kinking up and doing weird things that I didn’t ask it to do. I can’t keep it straight, try as I might (although my expensive, new straightener does help). Had I planned on wearing it curly, I could have made it look semi-decent. But I didn’t. It’s like the strands are confused. Which way should they go? They can’t make a decision so they go every which way. I end up half-straight, half-curly, with a slight frizz effect.

I feel like my hair most of the time. I leave in the morning confident and content because often I’ve just spent time chatting it up with God, and He and I are tight. I tell him how selfish and mean-spirited I’ve been. I tell him my wants and desires, things he already knows but still listens to earnestly. I thank Him for everything, all the things I tend to take for granted. I feel good.

But by the time I get to work, I’ve kinked up. I got impatient in traffic. I swore out loud when I spilled coffee on my kackis. I plop down at my desk irritated, and shoot a friend a terse email. I start worrying about how I’m going to accomplish all the things I “need” to accomplish, about what certain people think of me, the future…you name it. This isn’t what I wanted! I didn’t sign up to be this way. Like my hair, this is not what I had planned. And why the heck did I just spend time with God if this is where it got me? Right back to frizziness.

It’s a big, fat reminder that we are hard-wired for things less-than-admirable. And Christianity is so not the flip of a switch. It’s not "Dear God, Amen. And now onto life." It’s a reminder that spending time with God should not just be 15 minutes in the morning, and then checking back in with Him tomorrow. He needs to be hangin’ out with me all the time, and I know from experience when I allow this to happen, my frizziness is kept to a bare minimum. If He's sitting next to me, my "to-do" list loses its scariness and what others think of me? Who the heck cares?

I always think of a message my pastor in California gave once. He said we run out our front doors every morning, and poor God is just sitting there on our couch wondering why we didn’t offer to bring our best friend along? He’s ready and willing.

So, on this Friday morning, as my hair is so … all over the place … I think of the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Which really isn't sung often enough. And I'm telling God to come hang out with me. The weekend's almost here, and there's lots of fun to be had.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What smells?

(For those of you who have been around for awhile … this is kind of a throwback to the ole’ medical researches.)

What is it with smells?! I feel like sight and hearing get all the credit as far as senses go, and smell gets the short end of the stick. Smells are just so good sometimes, and they can make me feel so good!
*Freshly cut grass
*Brewing coffee
*Rain on pavement
*Gas at the gas station (I never said I wasn’t weird)
*Campfire, oh sweet campfire

Supposedly when I was little, I’d open up gifts and the first thing I’d do, if it was a new sweater, for example, would be to smell it. (again, the weirdness)

But smells just have so much power. When I smell Caress soap, the pink kind, I’m instantly taken back to my grandparents’ bath tub as a little girl. My grandma would lather up her hands with that Caress soap. Forming an “O” with her finger and thumb, she’d then blow bubbles at me.

My little neighborhood in California had a distinct smell, formed by the giant eucalyptus trees. It took some time, but soon, that smell meant “home.” It meant my bed, my couch, my comfort was nearby.

I’ve worn the same perfume since high school. I’ve tried and tried to change but after hours at the perfume counter, I inevitably land on the same one. And many friends say, “I smelled you the other day…” meaning they got a whiff of someone wearing my perfume. Probably not a good thing.

A particular kind of curry relocates me to Morocco, wandering the tiny alleys of Marrakesh or Fes.

Burning incense, especially a specific brand of patchouli, takes me right back to college and my old boyfriend.

Or how about freshly baked chocolate chip cookies? I’ve started going to this church pretty regularly on Sunday nights and they actually bake cookies during the service, so that when you exit the sanctuary, you’re nearly blown away by the smell of fresh cookies You can’t help but stay for a cookie, cup of milk and some mingling. Manipulative? I think so, but I keep going back.

Well, turns out our sense of smell is 10,000 times more precise than our sense of taste. So take that, tongue! And, new research says it also has the power—when associated with good, happy times or events—to lower stress, improve physical performance and even help us lose weight.

According to the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, "Smelling something good tricks your brain into thinking you've eaten it." Now this seems weird to me. Doesn’t smelling good food make you want to eat it? But the point is, stop and smell the roses … because it’s good for you! Because it may make you smile. It may make you feel good!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The new shotgun

It might be official: the trunk is the new shotgun.

I used to love riding in the trunk of our station wagon when I was little. I think because it meant something fun or different was taking place. Perhaps we were driving through the Wild Animal Park in Texas. We’d pack the car with as many family members as possible and wind through the park feeding the zebra and water buffalo from buckets through the window (this cannot be safe, but we have home video as proof). Or maybe we were on vacation, far from busy roads, so mom and dad would relent, letting Brent and I ride in the trunk. I don’t know. But it just always seemed exotic. And apparently it still is.

Saturday night , while in a parking ramp in Uptown a friend and I witnessed a girl in a short yellow dress and heels, climbing horizontally—and quite awkwardly—out of the trunk of an SUV. Meanwhile, the rest of the passengers, including numerous guys wearing PANTS, got out of the front and back seat.

Then two days later, while getting TCBY alone (it’s not Ben and Jerry’s at midnight, but it may be close) I saw two guys watch their buddy crawl into the trunk of a Honda Civic. The guy in the trunk feigned fear while the two others laughed. They actually shut the trunk on this dude, got in the car and drove away.

Anyone up for a ride?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Comm 101

My parents have been married for nearly 30 years, and I give them crap. HOW?! Sometimes their communication is comical.
And I have to side with mom, because….well, I am my mom. But I experience dad’s communication firsthand. I can send a three-paragraph email asking five questions of him. Dad’s response? “Dear, Heather. Yes. Love you. Dad.” Yes what? Yes to question 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5? And if 3, I asked WHY?!

He and I traversed the country last fall, covering more than 3,000 miles together on a road trip adventure. But I think it’s safe to say that about 90% of those miles were spent in silence. And don’t get me wrong. I’m an introvert, like him, so I was perfectly content. But I had to laugh thinking about most of my road trips spent with girlfriends. Give us a boy or two to work with, and we’ll knock off hours as if they’re seconds!

This morning I was rushing out of the house, coffee, sunglasses, CD of the day and keys in hand, but a note on the table stopped me. It was from dad. To mom.
"Dear [mom's nickname],
Have a great day.
Love, BJ"

I grinned from ear to ear. That’s how they do it. 30 years later. A note. Nothing fancy. Not four paragraphs. But a simple note on the kitchen table. Dear ____, Love ____.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

As we wait

I feel like I’m sitting out on the tarmac sometimes…just waiting for God to tell me it’s cool to take off. And as I wait, I look at all the other airplanes taking off and going to exotic places. It doesn’t matter how many places I’ve been to or even all the places I will go to. All I can focus on is the fact that I’m sitting, waiting, getting super tired of eating cheap airline pretzels wanting life to hurry up and go. In doing this, inevitably, I miss life. The right-here-and-now of life. I tend to be so busy looking ahead, wanting to fast forward, thinking things will be better when…when I take off!...that I just know I’m not making the most of each second.

I sat outside late last night on a rooftop overlooking downtown Minneapolis with friends old and brand new. The moon shined down on us as we hung out and laughed. It just hit me that I may be waiting out on the tarmac for some things, but what takes place in the cabin of my life as I wait is pretty darn good.

Kinda makes me wanna start groovin’ to the song “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord…”

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wherever I Go, I Have a Brother

My brother turns 24 tomorrow.
And nothing makes you feel older than other people!
This is my baby brother, who I used to cuddle up next to and read a book to (although I couldn’t read). I’d perform one-woman circuses to keep him laughing while mom cut his hair. And then we used to have dance contests, often with Michael W. Smith’s help. During the boring summers, when we were getting along, we’d turn the TV volume all the way down and do voice over for the soap operas. He was always so much better at this than me. I’d be laughing too hard to respond to him. And moving along, there were Italian Pie Shoppe eating contests and endless movie recitations. And how about that special "glasses" game with mom that occurred in the not-so-distant past?! Ha.

He and I are very different, and currently living under the same roof again, we have some issues. But as we sat on his bedroom floor super late a couple nights ago on our respective computers, he showing me some Facebook ropes, I was reminded of a Time article that came out a few years ago on sibling connections. And how really, your sibling has a much larger impact on your life than you think because he or she is generally around for all of your life. Mom and dad will die much sooner than you. Your spouse doesn’t come along until later in life. Friends come and go. But siblings are there from the beginning and they tend to stay until the end.

I looked over at him…same eyes as me…same hair color…and smiled to myself, thanking God for a relationship that will not go away. Can not go away. No matter how many times he uses all the hot water or how much incense he burns. And no matter how often I'm rude to him or park in his way. Wherever I go, I have a brother. And wherever he goes, he has a sister. And his sister loves him very much.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Know Your Lunch is Too Short If...

You have to try on a pair of shorts in the main Target aisle.

I just ran to Target over lunch to get candles because I'm in charge of the office's July birthday festivities, along with another coworker. So I found myself frosting a cake at 6am this morning thinking about poor Milton from "Office Space" just trying to get a piece of cake because he didn't get one last time.

But anyways, back to Target...there in the main aisle between men's clothing and the office supplies was a man dropping his pants, his dress pants (some people call them slacks). His work shoes were already off, waiting patiently next to a bottle of shaving cream on the floor. And I tried to look away, but I couldn't because, is this dude REALLY undressing in the aisle? Yup. So he bends over to slip off his pants and what I at first thought were his boxers were actually some kind of workout shorts, now complemented by dark work socks. He then proceeds to take a pair of cargo shorts from the rack right next to him and try them on.

Next time, take an hour lunch!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Open My Fist

Ever feel like you're holding on too tightly? There's something you want, something you want to protect. Something you're desperately afraid of, or simply desire. Whatever it is, your hands are wrapped into tight fists holding on to this thing so tightly your knuckles are turning white. My arms are beginning to shake because they're tired, and my eyes are squinting because I maybe don't want to see what's ahead.

This morning I prayed to just breathe. To sigh. To let out one of those long, long breaths, like you have to do at the doctor's office when they're listening to your heart. I need to open up my fists, and hold God's hand. The Benediction--something many of us who grew up in the church may have memorized from hearing it every Sunday--went through my head as I tried to sigh. "And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (from Philippians 4) Ha! It's almost too good to be true--these words that I know but rarely pay attention to. I can give my arms a freakin' rest. God is busy protecting my heart and mind, if I just open my fist and hold His hand.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Running mate importance

As part of Maple Grove Days, I did a 3.7-mile run around Rice Lake with mom and dad yesterday morning. I was reminded of how important running mates are. Mom is not slow by any means. In fact, she probably could have easily come in first for the almost-50-year-old moms running (if we were competing, that is). But she is a bit slower than dad and me. So the two of us took turns running next to her. We had a nice running-mate system worked out.

A few weeks ago, I ran in an 8K with one of my best friends. Shortly after starting, he fell. As in, to-the-ground, skin-the-palm-of-your-hand fell. My first thought was one of panic! This can’t be good because he recently had a cast on his leg from a rugby injury. So something must have happened to that leg. Well, within seconds, I discovered that nope…he had, in fact, just tripped on his shoelace, and I busted out laughing as I reached down to help him up (and I chuckle again as I write this). I hope he found some solace in the fact that it was me running next to him. Just me. We’ve known each other for years and years; there’s little, actually probably nothing, either one of us can do in front of each other that would embarrass us. Now, can you imagine if he had been alone? If he hadn’t had such a cool running mate like myself? How do you casually get up from tripping on your shoelaces and carry on alone? I don't think it can be done. At least with a friend, you can laugh together.

And the thing is, I haven’t always had running mates. When I first moved to California I didn’t really have mates period. To occupy some time I started running some local 5Ks (and secretly I always hoped I’d run into—quite literally I guess—a very good-looking single male runner, which, of course, never happened). I signed up for one that was sponsored by some hot-shot running club in the area. I got up early that Saturday morning, cursing myself that it had been MY idea to set my alarm for 6am on a Saturday in order to RUN! With eyes only half open, I pulled my running stuff on, brushed my teeth, threw my hair in a pony tail and left. As soon as I arrived, I knew this wasn’t like the Turkey Trot or Blubber Run where you’ve got all shapes, sizes and speeds running and/or walkng--the ones that are all-family events. Nope. This one was hard-core. As I walked to the registration table, these runners were doing breathing exercises, like I imagine you do in Lamaze classes. They had special stop watches on, the perfect breathable sports bras (not the cheap ones from Target), and they were doing stretches like I had never seen before. So I registered and then kind of walked aimlessly through the crowd wondering what I should do to look somewhat cool (in case that good-looking single guy was nearby). But, my gosh, I thought, I don’t even have a special place for my keys! I’m one of the runners that just carries her car keys during the run! So, I decide I’ll do some casual stretches, even though I never really stretch before runs. I bend over and am touching the ground with my legs spread out wondering where the closest coffee shop is when all of sudden…I see a bulge, a big lump, coming out the back of my thigh. Like maybe the size of a lemon. I quickly look around to see if anyone is looking at or pointing at this bulge, perhaps feeling sorry for that poor runner—me—who must have some sort of illness and yet has the determination to run 5Ks. But then more importantly, my little wheels were spinning spinning trying to figure out what the heck this bulge is! I bend back down and nonchalantly touch it, and nope, it wasn’t a part of me. It didn’t have any feeling sensations. So, I casually jog over to a tree as if I’m just warming up like everyone else. As quickly as I can, I jam my hand into my pants, and there in broad daylight, with runners all around, I’m holding a pair of my black underwear. Yup. While I was still half-asleep, I had unknowingly put on my black, tight, yoga-like capris on that morning with an extra pair of underwear stuck in them. I should have just thrown the underwear into the bushes, but that’s wasteful. This was a perfectly good pair of underwear. So, I quickly made a fist with them, smooshing them into the smallest ball possible. I hurriedly ran this pair of underwear back to my car and managed to make it to the starting line in time. But at this point, I was fighting tears, feeling sorry for myself…I was stuck in California, away from family and friends, running a race alone in some unknown park, with a bunch of strangers who are probably now wondering what happened to my bulge, or maybe why I was hiding behind the tree before the race! If I had had a running mate though: 1. They would have told me something was stuck in my pants before I even left the house, hopefully. And 2. If they somehow missed the bulge before we walked out the door, he or she would have at least helped me laugh at my dorkiness at the scene of the crime.

So, anyways, running mates. They’re important. And as I ran yesterday, I was thankful that since I have moved back to Minnesota, I haven’t ran a race alone.

And a shout-out to Jack Swanson for taking the picture above...some of my favorite running mates.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Keeps on Giving

I went to Happy Hour with two dear friends last night. The three of us used to work together and because of the things we went through (personal and professional) while at that Vietnam of offices, we have a tight bond. One of them has a six-year-old daughter who has just reached the big five-year mark--five years ago she beat cancer and she’s now in remission. And you do the math…that means she was fighting for her life at less than 12 months old, and in my opinion, that ranks up there as one of life’s worst cruelties. But she and her family fought and prayed and fought and cried and prayed some more. And for the past few years, they’ve slowly and tentatively begun to breathe in life again because they’re not working so hard at keeping it.

They were just told, however, that their daughter’s brain has been irreversibly damaged from the intense chemo she underwent to beat the cancer. The four-letter words I want to scream on their behalf are endless. It’s too much. This girl should be receiving all the best life has to offer. After all, she’s paid more than her fair share of dues and then some! And yet now she’s been hit with yet another cruelty.

My friend’s husband sarcastically said, “you know, cancer is just the gift that keeps on giving.” So true, their horror just never seems to end. And yet, as I thought about it last night, there’s something else that keeps on giving in this situation. While her daughter was fighting cancer, life pummeled her and her family with other horrendous circumstances and yet God’s light just emanated from her through it all. Not to say she didn’t cry. And not to say she never got angry. She did. But there was always hope, always humor. When I'd contemplate what she's been through I'd think why, why, why?! That is until one day recently when I was questioning her about the suffering she’s been through (some friend I am, huh?), she told me, “We searched for answers, questioning the hospital chaplain, our friends, our parents. No one had the answers. And it wasn’t until we stopped asking the question, 'Why' and asked, 'How should we respond to this?' that we began to move forward. We wouldn’t find the answers, and we were using up so much energy being mad. We just finally gave in, and began depending on God for His strength, minute by minute and He taught us how to respond.”

So last night over a Stoli Doli, an Amstel light and a Summit, she told us about her daughter and how sad she is and how unfair it is. But she concluded with, “we’ll get through it.” And its the message of hope and faith in those words that just keeps on giving.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Single Girl's quilt

I took a quilting class last summer. I loved it. And no, I was not the only 20-something there. There were two of us among the other four women. Not a bad ratio, really.

Anyways, yesterday I went to Crafty Planet in Northeast Minneapolis. If you haven’t been and like to sew, you simply must go. Oh the fabrics you can find! I was browsing through the quilt patterns. One jumped out at me, and I pulled it off the rack, flipped it over to check it out in more detail only to discover that the name of this particular quilt pattern was “The Single Girl.” I jammed it back into place. It almost felt like going to the grocery store as a single girl at midnight on a Friday night for Ben & Jerry’s or something. I go to Crafty Planet and pick up “The Single Girl” quilt. Great.

Now what does this mean? Perhaps that only a single girl would take on such a quilt as this because it was pretty intense and tedious and would take up lots of time, time that non-single people clearly do not have. Or maybe a single girl needs a quilt such as this to keep her warm while she eats her Ben and Jerry’s.

I like to think I'm cool, even if I do sew my own wallets and purses and quilt and bake. And one of my dearest friends has cats (plural) and she lives alone. But just you wait right there, because I know what you’re thinking. A spinster cat woman. So now we have quilter and spinster. But this friend is the coolest of the cool. In fact, she’s a freelance writer and recently had to write a story on the spicy cocktails sold in hip, posh bars around Minneapolis (after she visited all of them of course). Not so spinsterish, huh? And then another of my single friends does scrapbooking. Yup. Go ahead. I know you’re getting an image in your head. Now we have quilter, spinster and scrapbooker. Except this girl has some mad salsa moves and pulls off some pretty short skirts like nobody’s business. Not generally what you think of when you think stickers, stencils and scissors.

So, I pulled that pattern back out and showed it to my cat-lover and scrapbooker friend who were with me. We laughed out loud. And then headed to the vintage shop next door for clothes and then to Snap! for some pizza.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Road I.D. needed

Last year my mom bought me a Road I.D. She sent it to me in California to wear while running. It's red and black with elastic...very sporty looking, but most importantly it has my name and then an emergency contact (name and number). Now, we give her crap for this because really, when is this Road I.D. going to come in handy? If I'm kidnapped, obviously the kidnapper is not going to call my emergency contact. If I'm lost, it's not going to help. So, really, it's only going to work if there's a hit and run: somebody rams into me with their car, I go into ditch and they drive away and then some good Samaritan finds me. Or if I fall while running and somehow break my leg or ankle so bad that I can't manage to hobble to the nearest house and again a good Samaritan decides not to laugh but rather call the emergency contact. Needless to say, my Road I.D. doesn't leave home.

Well, tonight I opted for a walk instead of a run. And no, I did not put on my Road I.D. but I did decide to leave my iPod at home. This allowed me much more time to think about the things I was passing or looking at. Here's what I encountered (in this order):

1. A dead, smeared turtle. Guts all over. Shell cracked, in the middle of a not-so-busy road. Now, it's not like turtles stealthily and swiftly jump out and surprise people. They are slow! And this one wasn't big, but it wasn't small either. I can't imagine missing it. And I couldn't help but wonder what kind of person purposely runs over a turtle?! I'm not an avid animal lover, as my friends will attest to, but my gosh, I wouldn't run over a turtle. Why wouldn't you slow down and swerve just a little?

2. Geese. I encounter geese every time I run and usually in the same place. Normally, however, I have my iPod on and I spend more time trying to dodge the goose poop than I do looking at the geese. But today I had the time to look at them, really look at them, and they are mean! The mama one opened her mouth, stuck her tongue out and hissed. I didn't know they hissed?! As if I was going to steal her poop-creating babies. And I used to feed the geese with my grandpa when I was little, so part of me wanted to say, look woman, I fed your ancestors so you can wipe that mean look off your face.

3. People. I do not like the people who walk or run past you and refuse to make eye contact. No nod, no smile, no half wave. Not even eye contact. It seems so rude. It's not as though a sort-of grin is going to slow you down. I always want to jump out in front of them and say "you can't avoid me! I'm right here! See?" And as I passed some of these people tonight I decided that they were probably not the good Samaritans that would call the number on my Road I.D.

4. Deer. Woah! Seriously only about eight feet away from me, a deer jumps out of the wooded area and darts across the street into traffic!

5. More people. I was nearly home when guys in a dirty white pick-up truck, the kind with like three or four ladders in back, lots of buckets, strange hoses making you wonder if they do plumbing? painting? nothing?...anyways, they drove by and honked and whistled. Some days when it's really hot I'll just wear my sports bra without a T-shirt, but not tonight. I had big, old T-shirt on. Honking? Really? I wanted to go grab that goose to help me hiss at them.

So, anyways, as I walked into the door at home, I decided that maybe I should start wearing my Road I.D. after all. I didn't know it, but our neighborhood is a wild, mean place!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I just got done looking at seven homes and townhomes. I think we've now looked at more than 30. I want to buy, and excitedly I began my search about three months ago. Now, no house found, I'm discouraged and down. I can't help but feel that looking at homes is sometimes like looking at People magazine or Cosmo. Jennifer Garner: flawless skin, Matthew Mcconaughey, um, well, pretty darn good body; so and so, perfect legs (no spider veins-none); another so and so: amazing outfit. So and so: the best eye makeup I've ever seen. Anyways, they're the magazines that start out being fun to look at because, especially at the beginning, all these famous people are caught in these candid shots, and we, (not rubberneckers at all) get a wee glimpse into their lives. But by the time I flip to the last page of the magazine, I feel as though I definitely need what that last ad is trying to sell: a drink! Because I am so far from being whatever all these "cool" people are. I don't have flawless skin, my legs do have a few spider veins, I don't know how to put on eye makeup, and I don't think I'll ever snag Matthew. Pour me a freakin' drink. Inevitably, I end up feeling anxious, like I need to go get some new clothes and a hair cut, not to mention some earrings and a new purse. I also feel really really down, because I am NOT something. All the somethings that I AM seem to disappear. I can't see them.

And it's a little like looking at houses. I walk into some, and they are everything I think I want and/or need. Original hardwood floors. A fireplace. One had a mud room with built-in shelves, drawers and a bench-be still my heart. And then outside, well, you shouldn't even get me started. Some have the most beautiful perennials, and they, in all their brilliance, look up at me and tell me that they could be my friends! Some have screened-in porches, others are situated on the cutest blocks, with what I'm sure are the greatest neighbors (just like I'm sure Jennifer Garner has the perfect life).

I got home this afternoon deflated because the houses I want, I can't afford. And the houses and townhomes that I can afford don't have all the things I want. They sooo do not have the cool mud room. And yet, this is so stupid! It's just like the magazines! I'm focusing on all the things I can NOT have.

Two things come to mind as I write this. First, I traveled to South Africa a few years ago on a mission trip with my church. We planted vegetable gardens in outlying communities, in hopes of teaching them how to be self-sustaining. This one family of seven lived in a hut of sorts made out of sticks and hay. They didn't have a mudroom. Their hut WAS a mudroom. While the guys in my group stayed behind to begin breaking up the ground, me and the girls in my group headed down to the "river" with the women of the family. They told us that often there are alligators in the river. Ok, so why are we getting the water there?! Because it's the only water around. In fact, it's where they bathe and wash clothes too. And when we finally reached the river (there were no alligators), I was shocked to see that the water couldn't have been more than two inches deep and was barely moving. We stood there for a good 15 minutes (which, when you're on the look out for alligators is an eternity!) waiting to fill these massive buckets. They easily hoisted these full buckets on their shoulders to make the trek back home. Meanwhile I struggled to carry two full ice cream buckets and keep my balance, and the whole time I was thinking how horrific it would be to live there. And yet, these women were laughing the whole way, telling stories. The children were giggling, running circles around us. Their white teeth sparkled against their deep black skin, and they were happy.

Second thing. My dearest friends in California, Jon and Abby, and their dog Lucy, live in a...well, I think the term is a studio. Except the studio I once had was 500 square feet. Theirs is 290. I know I know I is that even possible? Well, a ladder, a loft, lots of unique shelving... And really, you'd have to see it to believe it. But they make it work, in efforts of saving up money to potentially buy something in So-Cal. They don't have a kitchen table, and Abby, who is a great cook, doesn't have a real oven. And Jon, who is in charge of dishes, doesn't have a dishwasher. But it works. They are happy. And actually, some of my happiest memories have taken place in that 290 square feet, perhaps because not one inch of that place was empty. There is love, laughter, smiles, good food and true prayers filling each and every corner and crevice.

So, unlike the magazines, which I've chosen not to look at anymore, I still need to look at a few more townhomes and houses, because I do need to find a place to live. But I'm really going to try not to focus on the NOTS. Mud room or no mud room, small or really really small, hardwood floors or carpet, I will be thankful with my future home because it will include the laughter of good friends, the humor (not to mention landscaping) of my brother, the frequent company of my parents (not possible when I lived in Cali), my favorite music and pictures, and God. And ok, whatever, maybe some mud because it's not going to have a mud room.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pure Botineau

Next weekend is "Maple Grove Days." So Maple Grove, Minn., celebrates with a parade, probably some eating contests, fireworks, etc. I told my friend that to be a good citizen that supports her community, and just to get some exercise, I'm running in the Maple Grove Days 5K. He said, "Oh, for pure botineau, huh?" Within seconds, here's where my mind went: the run follows the shoreline of a lake. Minnesota has horrible mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are always worse around bodies of water. I'm going to be running around water. Mosquitoes carry diseases, like the deadly West Nile. And pure botineau sounds like botulism, also a deadly illness. So my friend must be saying, oh, run the Maple Grove 5K and get some nice disease, in fact a disease in its PUREst form, which must be the worst kind. And we affectionately rip on Maple Grove all the time, how it tries so hard to be "small town" but it just simply is not and can it really be any more suburban?! What with it's endless upscale restuarants and shopping. So I felt sure he was sarcastically making fun of me for participating in Maple Grove Days, and thus supporting the likes of Pottery Barn and other chain businesses, with his pure botineau remark.

He wasn't. And pure botineau is not a deadly mosquito-borne illness. It turns out my friend is actually more of a true Maple Grovian than me. He knows Pierre Bottineau, thought to be the founder of Maple Grove. In 1854 I guess Bottineau built the first frame house in the area that is now considered Osseo/Maple Grove. OK then. I guess I AM running for Pierre Bottineau. And I probably won't get any mosquito bites anyways, because the run is in the morning, and mosquitoes are usually just bad at night.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Here goes nothin'

Ok, so I created this blog more than two years ago, and I have not posted one thing. Not one thing. Why you ask? Because I'm chicken. And because I'm taking myself way too seriously. I think I have this idea that every blog post needs to be deep, philosophical, meaningful. And if it's not, I'm not a good writer, and I will have somehow failed. See? Taking myself way too seriously.

But today is a new day. And today I blog! And tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that I blog. And you will read, or at least my parents and my bestest friends will. And the posts are so not going to be deep or philosophical. And maybe not even well-written. And that is A-OK (cringe). Yup. A-OK! (This is like getting Bs in high school, which was not A-OK).

So, here goes nothin'...