Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bestest day

I smiled when my alarm went off this morning. It’s my absolute favorite day of the year. Thanksgiving Eve. As I give people an explanation, I can feel the child in me coming out, and maybe that’s why it’s my favorite day. It renders me giddy and excited like a child. Yesterday, I found myself telling coworkers—with my hands clasped and a big grin on my face—the day before Thanksgiving is just the greatest day ever!

In my opinion, the day holds anticipation of all things festive. It’s almost time for turkey, but not quite yet. It’s almost time to get a Christmas tree, but not quite yet. It’s almost time to whip out the Christmas decorations and music, but not quite yet (some have broken this rule). Recipes are laid out ready to be made. People are generally in good moods. It’s usually a pretty easy day at work (I’m only working a half day, and I think the lack of traffic indicates many are not working at all!). When I lived in Cali, it meant that going home was just around the corner. The warmth and comfort of mom and dad and those who know close. In some strange way, I wish this day lasted longer than 24 hours so that everything the holiday season brings was still ahead of us.

In Minneapolis it’s a clear, 19-degree morning, and I am thankful for today, my favorite day. I’m thankful for my wonderful friend who I am grabbing sushi with tonight. I’m thankful that I’m close to my family all the time now. I’m thankful that I will have a turkey dinner and will crawl into bed tomorrow with a full belly. I’m thankful for good health. I’m thankful for my brother, my job and my new home. For good music, piping-hot coffee, scarves made by best friends, and Angel perfume. For friends who are going to have babies and friends who are going to get married.

I think of those dear friends who I will not get to see this season, but who mean so much to me. Of my grandpa who I continue to miss. I also think of those who are hurting. For them, today isn’t the bestest day but rather just another day of surgery, tears, fears, uncertainty.

The heart hopes for what’s ahead in anticipation. So, today, my favorite day, no matter where you are geographically or in life, I pray you are filled with hope.

And be giddy! Because today is the day before Thanksgiving, the bestest day EVER!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You said it

With a Trader Joe’s gift certificate, I purchased staples. Peanut butter and jelly. Trail mix. Soup. Cheese. I walked up to the register, put down my basket and began rummaging through my purse for my wallet carrying the gift card as the guy at the register started taking out my groceries to swipe across the counter. Suddenly I hear "oh, mmm, pb and j!" I looked up to see the guy excitedly looking at me, smiling. "Uh, yes," I said. I wasn’t sure if it felt like an accusation, like, you’re an adult still eating pb&j?

Ok. Back to getting my wallet ou... "Ohhh, parm!" I looked up. There he was again. Smiling. "Yes, parmesan cheese, thank you, very much." These exchanges continued for each of my eight to 10 items. I know what I got! You don’t need to tell me! I felt exposed. Like, somehow, this guy not just knowing my staples, but SAYING them out loud was revealing something about me. That, yes, I still eat pb&j. I also eat tomato soup. What if I had had tampons I wonder? I almost felt the need to justify what I was purchasing. Look, dude, yes, sometimes I eat Trader O’s (tj’s version of Cheerios) for dinner but not a lot!

Anyways, I know people say actions speak louder than words. And I agree. But I also think words hold some strange, solidifying potion or something. Isn’t it funny how certain things aren’t real until you say them, and then you almost wish you hadn’t said them. Putting words to feelings or emotions and then putting voice to those words somehow solidifies them. They’re no longer able to just disappear in the corners of our thoughts or heart. They’ve turned into solid objects that have to be held. To be dealt with. You said them, someone heard, and they can now hold you accountable.

When I’m dating someone I always know things are about to go downhill fast when I hear myself say, "welllll..." And then proceed to say something that is not-so-great about this person or maybe a realization about my feelings (or lack thereof). There’s no turning back. I admitted it. I said it. I’d been thinking it for awhile, but hadn’t voiced it.

And then there have been numerous times in my life when I’m struggled to hold it all together. On the outside it may appear that I’m totally cool, but inside I’m a total stress ball. And then finally, some lucky person gets to hear me say--yell--hey, I’m so busy I can’t see straight, and it’s too much!!!
There. I’m revealed. It’s been said. Said, said and said.
(like "bomb on an airplane. Bomb bomb bomb...bomb bomb bomb.")

I have no earth-shattering conclusions about this phenomenon. Just contemplating it as I thought about Mr. Trader Joe man "Ohhhh, soup. Ohhhh, milk."

Ohhhh, stop. Just gimme my contest coupon for using my own cloth bag and my pb and j and I'll be on my way.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Driving in this stuff

I just read a news article about the National Weather Service trying to figure out why so many people don’t listen to meteorologists when, for example, they say there is a winter warning and people should stay in.

Are you kidding me? Do we really need research done on this? It’s because meteorologists don’t know! They’re wrong often because it’s the weather! They can make educated guesses but no one ever knows. How often has the picnic gotten rained on? Or the sun amazingly stayed out when you were expecting thunderstorms? And in Minnesota, if we heeded every weather warning, we’d never see the light of day. So, we throw our boots in the trunk and head out shopping or to the Wild game, even if we’re told there’s a good chance we’re in for seven inches of snow.

There are usually some pretty serious warnings in life as well. In fact, I’m pretty sure if there were life sirens, they would be constant (how awful! the little ticker on the bottom of the TV saying BEEP BEEP BEEP: ALL COUNTIES EVERYWHERE, TAKE COVER BECAUSE FEELINGS COULD POTENTIALLY GET HURT, AND THIS WARNING WON'T EVER EXPIRE). We know relationships are hard. We know loss cuts—deep. Words can leave scars. Moves are scary. Change is like...I don't know...a hail storm. But, we grab our umbrellas and we love. We put on our mittens and we try to forgive. We put sunscreen on and show compassion. We keep going.

And as we do this, God’s the weather. We know certain things, and we can make some predictions on the basis of these things. He loves. He is good. But there’s so much we just don’t know. That seven-day forecast is a joke! Some days the sun is shining so brightly... and it really shouldn’t be. And other days the lightning strikes without warning. But we hop in the car and go because if we didn’t, we’d miss out on a concert, time with friends, a good meal.

The news article I read said that Minnesota’s incoming winter weather leaves us all wondering: how the heck do you drive in this stuff? Well, yes. That’s a great question, but I think the key is that you drive, period.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Everything that has breath...

Well, it’s Friday. And, we all know it’s pretty much the greatest day ever. I’m having a difficult time stringing together meaningful thoughts about any one thing (which could pose a problem today at work) after a long week. A week that has caused me to wonder on more than one occasion if at a certain point your brain says, can not fill me any more more deadlines...done.

I do have one more list in me before the week ends: Things that have momentarily taken my breath away recently.

>> Last night’s wind! With a temp of 11, I assure you that north wind was brutal! And can you believe that at about 10pm driving home, I saw a guy driving a jeep—one that’s all open with no windows or doors or anything. He was wearing a hat and goggles. Gloves and coat. And then his legs were wrapped up in a plaid blanket.

>> I always go into the first stall in the public bathroom. It’s a known fact that this is the least-used stall. (But, if everyone knows that, it’s probably not true anymore.) Anyways, while using the first stall in the restroom this week, I suddenly hear a beep beep beeping coming from behind my behind. And I jump...what the heck? Well, now we have self-cleaning toilets. Check it out at my friend’s blog.

>> In class, as part of a discussion on peace and violence, we watched a 16-minute clip from the movie "To End All Wars." The image of one man giving his life for another has not left my mind. And as I watched it, I lost my breath—and covered my eyes for a bit! I've not seen the movie in its entirety, but need to soon.

>> I heard of a woman who has been told she has two months max to live. She is now in the process of saying goodbye to friends and family. She’s finishing quilts for all of her grandchildren and will go spend her remaining days in the nursing home with her husband. The finality of this situation makes me gasp for air. And it’s precisely why I do NOT want to live for Fridays (see previous post)!

>> I laughed really really hard with my brother and some friends. So hard that my stomach started hurting and I couldn’t breathe...the best kind.

I was reading Psalm 116 yesterday morning. And, like my mind is prone to do, it wandered. Hmmm...Psalm 116. I wonder what the longest Psalm is? What’s the shortest Psalm? And did David ever contemplate how long or short his Psalms were when he wrote them? How much editing of his Psalms did he do before he decided, yup, this is good. I flipped to the end of Psalms wondering how many Psalms there were...150? Yup. That’s right. 150. I knew that, I thought to myself, and then I read the very last verse of Psalm 150, of THE Psalms.

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." Psalm 150:6

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The day that never ends

“this is the day that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends…some people started singing it...”

Last night I gave myself a pep talk about today. I knew it was going to be a doozy. It started with a 7:30a.m. meeting. And it will end about 11p.m. when I get home from class, which includes a group presentation.

The thing is I never want to just make it through a day, or an hour, or even a minute. And yet, I do this all the time. Get to Friday and then it’s the weekend, I tell myself. Get to 4:30pm and then I can go home. Get through my run and then I can EAT! Get through whatever, and then I more whatever.

I know not everything can be crazy fun, and you always want to be looking forward to something, but I think having the “just make it through” attitude incites crabbiness because inevitably the meeting goes too long, and 4:30pm does not come quickly and dangit, my tummy is growling!

So, there’s gotta be a happy medium. Not scarily wearing a joker-grin to my 7:30am meeting or my group presentation because it’s just-so-much-fun-and-I-can’t-think-of-anything-I’d-rather-be-doing but also not just going through the motions.

My early meeting was nothing spectacular, but the sunrise I caught on the drive to the meeting was. And my group presentation is not going to be all that funny or entertaining, but the email I got from a classmate about our presentation was. In fact, I laughed out loud. Little things helping me maintain a happy medium, I guess.

“...not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever because this is the day that never ends...”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today's 11-year-old

It’s called the "safe haven law."

In every state you can drop off your infant (under one year) at a hospital and walk away, never to return, and no legal action will be taken against you for abandonment.

Nebraska decided to pass this law back in July, only they forgot to stipulate an age. Actually, they didn’t forget. They thought it’d be a good idea to extend the law to include all minors. So you can actually drop your child off—1 year old or 17 years old—at the hospital and walk (probably run) away.

Well, today an 11-year-old boy was left in an Omaha hospital by his father. He’s the 31st one in the state since the law took effect.

Can you imagine? I heard about this on the radio this morning and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head—an 11-year-old standing alone in a cold hospital hallway knowing that his parents just left him. That they couldn’t love him enough, or fight for him enough, or care enough, to keep him. Or maybe it was that they loved him too much or cared too much and they thought he could be better--do better--somewhere else? But does he know that’s what they were thinking? Who is going to feed him dinner tonight? Where is he going to sleep tonight? He was from Florida, and now he’s in Nebraska. Does he have a coat? It hurts too much to think about these details.

I told a friend recently that sometimes I feel absolutely overwhelmed by all the things and people that I could pray for. I feel bad that I forget to pray sometimes about certain things. And he said he sometimes feels bad that he falls asleep while praying. Yeah, that too! But he suggested that maybe we are to pray about those things that we think about praying for and not stress about the ones we forget. The ones we think about are obviously, truly on our heart.

So, today I’ve been praying for that 11-year-old boy. And I know there’s a trillion gajillion other awful, horrible things going on as I write this, and the people involved in those things could probably use a little praying for too, but for me, today, it’s the abandoned 11-year-old.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can't believe you DON'T hunt

I feel like I’d be remiss in not addressing what has now taken over Minnesota: hunting.

On the freeway Sunday night, I was passed by a red minivan with a deer strapped to the roof. They had tried to cover it up, but the thing’s four hooves were sticking out the back, and the wind had blown the blue tarp over leaving the carcass visible to passersby. It reminded me a little bit of the movie "Harry and the Hendersons." My brother and I used to watched a taped-from-tv VHS version of this movie when we were little, and one scene is of the Henderson family in their station wagon with a thought-to-be-dead big foot—Harry—on the roof.

I had the most basic cable installed on Saturday afternoon (so that my dad and bro will actually come over on Thanksgiving). In chatting to the Comcast guy, he told me he was trying to hurry up and finish his jobs for the day so that he could head up north to hunt for the rest of the weekend. I’ve never seen anyone work so fast.

A friend of mine proudly told me via email earlier this week that he shot a doe. I jokingly asked him what that meant and then sarcastically said that I really couldn’t believe he hunted. To which he sarcastically responded:
"I took a 308 winchester semi-automatic rifle and fired one round (bullet) from a tree stand 98 yards away (the length of a football field) into the neck of a female odocoileus virginianus (North American White-Tailed Deer) dropping it where it stood and not disturbing (shooting) any of the delicious venison (deer meat) chops, loins, steaks, and trim. In addition, the excellent marksmanship left the hide (skin) unblemished (unshot), which will result in a much higher quality glove or mitten. The trim will be made into mouthwatering veni-sticks... i can't believe you DONT hunt."

Today’s front page of the local newspaper had a story about dozens of hunters getting fined or having their guns confiscated for baiting deer. Now, I’m not sure that these people can really be called hunters, but whatever you call them, they violated the "code of fair chase." And do you know that 76 people commented on the online article? Someone simply said: "gun-toting nitwits," and 43 of the 115 people who viewed this comment liked it.

In this past Sunday’s ad for a local wholesale supply store was a red shot shell mailbox for only $79.99. Enough said on that one.

Anyways, I cracked myself up this morning, as I imagined deer hiding in the woods, watching these baiters laying out...I imagined kernels of corn, but pretty sure that’s not what they use...and then suddenly scaring the crap out of the hunters by jumping out from behind trees and chasing them all.

NOW who’s baiting?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Unique. Who, me? Yes, you!

"Do you want to write a book?"
I get asked this question a lot. And the answer is yes. Yes and no.
Yes, I do. But no, because I’m afraid. As a writer I can’t think of anything worse than someone picking up a book that I have written and saying that it could have been written by anyone, or that the ideas, the tone, the plot—whatever—are not new or unique.

So, after I tell people that yes, I would like to write a book, they then ask what about, and I fumble around. Err...uh...well...I really don’t know. Because I really don’t. (On a recent date the dude was like, ‘oh you so know, you’re just not telling me.’ Um. No. I really don’t!)

I think this illustrates an addiction we all have. An addiction to be unique, to be known, to be loved for who we are with all our oddities. It’s why I dislike that there is always another Heather on the waiting list at the restaurant (and using my last name—son of John—is even worse!). It’s why I thought the world had ended when I showed up at my junior prom in what my friend coined the "wow" dress only to discover that someone else was wowing in the very same dress. And I was recently told by someone that they swear I’m twins with their sister-in-law. This is not a good thing. I want to be unique! I don’t want to look like anyone else.

But I think it’s true: there’s nothing new under the sun. If I do write a book, maybe I’ll mix and match words a little differently, but whatever I’m saying will probably have already been said before. And guess what, someone out there is probably wearing the same Target sweater I’m wearing today. And someone maybe has eyes that look like mine.

This got me wondering if the only thing unique about us is that we find others unique. We are only particular through our connections and relationships with others. Striving to be unique through worldly things...clothes, writing, my possessions, my career, even my name, will inevitably render me common. How can it not? Have you seen how many books are out there?! How many bookstores?!

My unique-ness is only reflected through my relationships with others. The others who know that I pick out my clothes the night before, that I can quote—nearly in entirety—"Home Alone," "Christmas Vacation," and "The Burbs," that just because I’m not a huge fan of animals, I’m still a compassionate soul! That I eat frozen semi-sweet chocolate chips out of the bag and instant mashed potatoes whenever I can.

And I think it’s like this with God too. He finds me unique. At His restaurant, I’m the only one of me on His list. And guaranteed He’ll be at my book-signing, endorsing my words. When I remind myself that I’m already unique to God (I don't have to do anything), it frees me up. I stop being so concerned about trying to be known to others through worldly things and spend more time getting to know others and enjoying their uniqueness (oddities).

Friday, November 07, 2008

Steal of a deal

"A can of mushrooms here is only 58 cents?!"

"And look, they have low-sodium diced tomatoes and bread flour!"

"Check this out, their cheese is 14 cents cheaper a bag."

"Mom, can you believe this? I just paid $1 more for this at Byerly’s."

"No, Heather, I can’t. And I just paid 77 cents more for a bag of pecans at Target."

This is me and my mom at Wal-mart this past Wednesday night at 11pm. Yes. 11pm. And yes. We can tell you exactly how much we pay—down to the cent—for specific groceries at various stores.

I have never shopped at Wal-mart at 11pm, but I now highly recommend. Why we were there at that time is a long story (it involves red hots). Neither of us shop at Wal-mart—we’re Targetters—but as we quickly walked through the store to get to the one aisle we needed to purchase the ONE item we needed, our steps began to slow. Our eyes, like automated scanners, began to take in the prices lining the shelves. We were distracted by the crazy low numbers and specific items that our regular grocery-shopping places do not carry. And we both began to map out in our minds how we could change our weekly shopping routine to incorporate Wal-mart and its rollback prices. Next thing I knew we had a cart, and were filling it with stuff because, I mean, how could we not?! The brown sugar was a whole 33 cents cheaper than what we usually pay.

We are suckers for deals, even at 11pm. Which is why before leaving Wal-mart, we ended up hitting almost every single aisle. And the one item turned into far more than the allowed "express lane" number.

But I have to tell you about the best deal I ever got: my mom. Today is her birthday, and here is why she is such a deal. I pay nothing and get everything—unconditional love, forgiveness, understanding, encouragement, smiles, a friendship. I don’t even need a coupon, and if I did, it wouldn’t have an expiration date. It’s a steal of a deal, really. Happy Birthday, momma.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


November 6, and I struggle to remember summer—only weeks past. July nights when the sky isn’t completely dark until 10pm. The smell of freshly cut grass. Muggy mornings. Tank tops and swimsuits. Sunburned cheeks and shoulders. All those things seem so hard to imagine now as I look outside and see only a few brown leaves that haven’t yet fallen. There are only empty branches, and even these I can only see until about 4:45pm before it starts getting dark! I can only feel the crisp, chilly wind, whispering that winter is just around the corner, and I can only smell smoke from chimneys.

This phenomenon carries over into my personal life. I have a hard time envisioning anything outside the particular season I’m in. Having been single now for quite some time, I can’t imagine having a boyfriend, or a husband and family for that matter. It seems so far-fetched. So foreign. So impossible. I know others have been sick for a long time, and they can’t envision living life in a healthy state. I have a friend who has been stuck in a sucky job, and try as she might, hasn’t been able to land a good one. A perfect, better job is getting so hard to imagine. So unreal.

But even though I can’t imagine it right now, as I’m getting out my mittens and scarves, I know summer will return. The grass will be green again, the lake water warm. I’ve seen proof (27 times!). I will run around Lake Calhoun when it’s 90 degrees, and I will drink sangria on Solera’s rooftop in a sundress. And the same thing happens in the seasons of life. Good or bad, lengthy or short, the seasons change. Some will require a little more bundling up; Others may be more carefree. But good or bad, changes in season are inevitable (unless you live in So-cal. I don’t care what they say or how many turtlenecks they wear in 60-degree weather!).

Genesis 1:14-19
“God said, ‘I command lights to appear in the sky and to separate day from night and to show the time for seasons, special days, and years. I command them to shine on the earth.’ And that’s what happened. God made two powerful lights, the brighter one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. He also made the separate light from darkness...Evening came and then morning.”

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Land of the notified, fed and free

On Saturday I received notification in the mail from my community’s police department that a third-level sex offender (the most likely to re-offend) was moving into my neighborhood. We were given this offender’s name and photo. We were also invited to a community meeting held on Sunday evening. Present were police, corrections officers and other experts offering advice, answering questions and disseminating as much information as they legally could to the 150 or so of us residents. The situation is less-than-ideal, and to be honest, the meeting only made me more anxious, but as I listened to people voice their concerns, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly grateful that I live in a country in which I’m notified and informed in a timely manner about these things! We received letters, photos, meetings, etc. I appreciate this!

Last night a friend and I went to my church and packaged food that will be sent to starving children in Haiti. The church is hoping to send 1 million meals total. As I (with a hair net on) poured heaping spoonfuls of dried vegetables into a funnel leading into a small plastic bag, I felt blessed to live in a country that doesn’t have such a food shortage, and even more, has the resources to actually give food away. As my friend and I filled bags, we discussed how late LeeAnn Chin’s was open and if Chipotle or Noodles & Co. would be better for dinner. Oh, how lucky we are!

And this morning, I stood in line, coffee in hand, at my precinct’s polling station and cast a vote in the presidential election. The process was simple, safe, organized, and for me as a woman, legal! Again, I’m thankful. This is not the case in so many places.

I know lots of people will be upset this evening as polling results come in, but I hope we remember that no matter who our leader is, we have much to be thankful for.