Friday, February 26, 2010


Here’s the thing with palm pilots and blackberrys and smartphones--and whatever other handheld devices from which you can email. It may be uber speedy for you to respond to my email via this device as you walk through the airport or sit down in your meeting or wait at the doctor's office. And you may actually think you're doing me a favor by responding so speedily. But, it takes ME three times longer to decipher your blackberry response than it would to read your email response. And they're supposed to increase or enhance our communication, but I think these devices might be doing the opposite.

“I need the numbers for chart.”
“I nee the nmbersfor chart..”
Say what?

This morning, receipt letter became rect letter. And the responder sent the accompanying message “hope comes through.”
I mean, it sounds like we're dealing with the morse code.

A friend of mine requested a meeting for something.
Instead of receiving “Everything ok? Sure thing, let’s meet.”
He got “What for?”
And then was stressing about the terseness. Did he offend? Was the recipient mad? Oh no, they’re just ordering a latte as they answer your request to meet tomorrow.

I ask about a lunch date.
The response I get: “I can do T the 12 at 2 or W the 13 at 1.”
Ok. Great. But Tuesday is not the 12th; it's the 13th. And I said I could do 1pm on the 12th and 2pm on the 13th. And this is all assuming that T is Tuesday, 12 is the date, and 2 is the time, etc.

And you know it’s bad when the responder takes the time to apologize for their blackberry usage.
“Sorry. Am on BB.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chirp chirp

You know the sound...the sound of no response.
Whether it be to a verbal comment (surely awkward!), a text, an email or a voice’s the sound of simply not answering.

Knock knock. Hello? Anyone there? Comprende?

Even if it’s not the response you want, an acknowledgement is always polite and considerate.

With some people though, the sound of crickets triggers concerns. I told a coworker yesterday that I was worried about another colleague. His lack of response to our request was extremely abnormal. He always responds—and responds quickly. I feared something was wrong. Sure enough, come to find out, his computer was one of 30 on campus that had been overtaken by a virus. He was in the process of recovering his hard drive. Additionally, his mother had been rushed to the emergency room the night before, and was still in the hospital. Yet, he was on our request. He had gotten it and was halfway through it.

A friend recently asked me what one was supposed to do when they keep praying, keep talking to God, and seemingly hear crickets?! Hello? God? You there? Listening?! When you’re asking for direction and you’re getting nada? I don’t really know what you do. But I think the crickets mean something’s up. God’s on it. He is one of those people who does respond. So if there’s some lag time, you can be sure something's up. He’s probably very very busy on something very very good.

Chirp Chirp.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fix the dent

Another request posted on my gym’s bulletin board...

Gym user: “Please fix the dent in the bathroom floor by the drain. I almost sprained my ankle.”

Gym employee response: “State law mandates a slight slope in the floor along with a drain to prevent flooding.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I couldn’t find my black flats this morning, and, of course, I was in a hurry. I quickly went down the shelves in my closet, feeling in the dark for the soft suede. Each time I went down the same shelves coming up black flat-less (I skipped the top shelf because why would I put a pair of shoes I wear often on the very top shelf which I can barely reach?!), these shoes began to mean more and more.

What would I do without them?
I’d have to change pants!
And they’re so comfortable.
I can wear them with anything.
They’re pretty much like the greatest pair of shoes ever!
Where the heck are they?!

In reality, they’re not that special, not that expensive, and they’re all crusty now from the winter salt. I gave up and returned to the bathroom to finish getting ready. I’d resume the search later.

The other night in church, the pastor read the beginning of Colossians, Chapter 2. Paul’s talking: “My purpose is that you may be encouraged in heart and united in love—you’ll have the full riches of complete understanding, and know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in who are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

I, not surprisingly, got hung up on things completely unrelated to what the pastor was saying. God…a mystery…in which treasures are hidden….Images of Disney’s version of the Swiss Family Robinson came to mind. Hidden treasures. Pirates.

Why hidden? Why does God need to be a mystery? I continued pondering this through much of the message—instead of listening to the message.

Hidden things are all the more precious when you seek and eventually find them. Think of gift shopping. We've all done the easy order, which takes two clicks and two seconds. Useful, practical? Yes, maybe. But super personal or meaningful? Maybe not. But then there are those gifts for which you search high and low. You look everywhere for months. When you finally find it, it's the most amazing gift ever and you can't wait to give it away. I think maybe it's a little like God.

My own faith only gained meaning when I was forced to look for it, to question it. For me, God’s mystery is far from fully revealed. The whole treasure chest has not been opened, but God often pulls out pieces of sparkling treasure when I search for him. Glimpses of his amazing love and his crazy plan and his undeserved grace shimmer clearly through people placed in my path, opportunities put before me, and even challenges to overcome. He's going to take more than two clicks and two seconds though. You're going to have to look a little.

Anyways, by the time I found my black flats this morning—on the very top shelf, mind you—I could have kissed them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday morning staredowns

This morning I sat on the bench in my entry way, staring out the front glass door, waiting for my dad and wishing I had taken a shower. Dad and I traded cars last night because the driver-side door handle just decided enough was enough. It snapped off, and I’m pretty sure it had a smirk on its face as it did it. So, dad was going to fix today on his day off. I realized last night though as I got home that I had left my garage door opener in my car; I’d have to go through the side door in the morning—I made a mental note.

I get up uber early this morning because I know I’m going into battle with traffic, yet again. With another 2 inches of fresh snow in the Twin Cities, the morning commute was sure to be a doozy. And the first piece of armor one can put on is to leave crazy, ridiculously early. I kind of want to pat myself on my back as I brush my teeth and start the shower: I didn’t press snooze ONCE! Take THAT traffic! Watch me beat you this morning!

I hop in the shower and immediately hop out like a madwoman. It’s freezing! What the? Towel wrapped around me, now shivering, I run downstairs and look. Yes. the water heater is still there. I stare at it. Yup. There it is. Right by the furnace. Looks good. I mean, really, what did I think I was going to do? I lean down, and turn the knob past the point where it says “Warning, May Cause Scalding.” I run back upstairs thinking to myself that scalding wouldn’t be so bad at that moment. So, I wait. Do more staring. This time I’m staring at my running water, as I wonder how much clean water I’m wasting when people in Haiti need it, and if my next quarterly bill is now going to be more than $58. Ok. Let’s try this again. I hop...NOPE. AH. FREEZING.

Fine. Traffic, not only am I going to beat you this morning, I’m going to kill you by a landslide because I just shaved like 25 minutes off my prep time without showering! I get ready, showerless, blowdrying my sweater before I put it on for warmth.

I am still smiling as I think of beating traffic and head out to my garage’s sidedoor. With my lunch bag, my work bag, my gym bag, and a gift bag for my friends who just had a baby in hand, I jiggle through my keys for the right one. Put it into the door. It won’t move. I stare at the lock. I’m staring again. Ok, I can do this, but at this point, the smile goes away. I run back inside, drop the bags off because I couldn’t just put them down on the walkway because they hadn’t plowed the fresh snow yet. Go back outside. Try the key again in both locks. They are frozen. The key will not budge either way in either lock. Frozen. Of course! I do some more staring at. the. lock...OPEN...PLEASE...before I relent and go back inside to call dad.

And as I plopped down on the bench in my entry way to wait, I had the strongest surge of desire for spring, for summer, for warmth. I also had the strongest surge of rage for winter. Suddenly, all of my problems were winter’s fault. I mean freezing cold water wouldn’t be that bad if it was 90 out! And my door handle may not have gotten so pissed if it wasn’t spending all of its time in below-zero weather. And my locks would surely not be frozen shut. Maybe I wouldn't need to blowdry my clothes for HEAT! I could go on and on. I started staring again. This time at the snow, willing it to disappear. The white landscape before me turned to luscious green. I could smell freshly cut grass. I had purple flowers hanging from my porch. My deck! I could see my deck. Oh, and a hint of fresh basil. Flip flops. Lawn chairs. Tank tops. Oh my gosh. I was in a desert seeing an oasis. Birds were chirping. The sun was shining on my face. I could smell sprinkler...

And then dad pulled up with de-icer and my janky car with the jerryrigged door handle.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Credit, please

"But it’s not our trash."

Pick it up.

"Even the cigarette butt?"

Pick it up.

It used to be the lamest day of the year for me. The Saturday that ended our vacation up north. For many years, my family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, rented out an entire resort for one week. I looked forward to it all year long. I counted down the days until we got to go to “the cabin” and spend seven whole days sunbathing, waterskiing, staying up late, eating skittles, fishing. Because we lived down south and people didn’t have cabins and lakes were strange phenomena, this was a big deal! The week passed by so quickly though; the end would always come so suddenly. It would be early Saturday morning, and we’d be packing up the car to go home. And I knew what that meant...I’d have to spend the afternoon at the laundromat with mom. Sick.

But part of leaving was heading down to the beach to pick up trash with Grandpa. We were to leave the resort in better condition than it was when we had arrived. That meant we were picking up others’ chip bags, because we, ourselves, were a pretty tidy bunch.

I can remember thinking though that the owners weren’t ever going to know that we had done this for them! We should leave a note: “Thanks for everything. We took it upon ourselves to clean up everyone else’s mess FOR YOU. No sweat. You’re welcome!” Give us some credit for being exceptional renters!

I was thinking about this earlier this week. About the things we do when no one’s looking or listening. Knowing there will be no recognition, we should still go the extra mile even though cutting corners would be so much easier.

And then this morning, I read Colossians 3 and smiled.
“Obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (22-23)

What a perfect reminder (and timely for me) that we do, in fact, get credit from the only place where it really matters! Someone is most definitely watching, and He is who we work for. Who we pick up others' trash for.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Oh, February.

How I do love thee. You have bejeweled me every day on the way to work.

You fill my eyes with wonderfully bright red sparkly rubies. Every now and then these jewels dim, but mostly they just stay lit up, not moving. Thank you! There are so many pairs of them! They’re lovely. And they just encircle me. I cannot move.

And to the left, you offer shiny white little diamonds that go on forever and ever, as far as the eye can see. Again, thank you! So many pairs! I can hardly stand it.

Between these jewels are others who don’t seem as awe-filled as me. Their cranky, janky expressions and middle fingers seem to suggest that there are either too many jewels or the jewels are simply too bright for them so early in the morning.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Check your margins

It's February 10, and I have not blogged in what, for me anyways, is a long time. And I must admit, I feel untethered by this, similar to how I feel when I go too many days without talking to my dear friend in Cali. The other morning, I left for work a bit earlier and found myself sitting behind a stopped schoolbus, and junior highers were getting on. Movement in my rearview mirror caught my eye. A boy with a very heavy backpack was running awkwardly to catch the bus. He passed my passenger side and did manage to get on the bus, but not before having to bend over and pick up his dropped cell phone in the snow.

That's me, I thought! That's how I've felt lately. Trying to catch up on life. Trying to catch up on homework, on work work, on working out, on home projects, on sleep, on returned phone calls! You know it's bad when 20 minutes of time at home seems like a really large chunk of time to get stuff done. Or when you hit up Caribou three days in a row for coffee because you've gotten home too late or been too tired to grind the beans you've got at home.

Dad emailed to check in on me recently and kindly suggested that I may need to consider building more margin into my life. Yes, that would be nice. If he could just go into Microsoft Word, click on the tools tab and show me how to set a fatter margin on my week, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I just don't think I do margins very well. I don't do white space. If my calendar is empty, I feel the need to fill it. I need to host a dinner. Meet someone for coffee. Work on my hobbies. Learn more. Life's short! So I fill and then wonder how I can possibly be so busy! That 20 minutes of time at home that I mentioned? Well, that's good for a quick shower, dishwasher emptying, mail getting, and throwing a load of laundry in. At least! I mean I could maybe even get a few pages of homework read. I can learn something!

The untethered feeling, I think, is what happens when life doesn't just seep out of the margins, because I actually prefer to fill my margins--I thrive on being busy. I think untetheredness is when life has actually gone through the margins and is now off the 8.5x11 sheet of paper on the floor somewhere.

Anyways, dad's right. A woman needs some margin, I suppose. Or maybe a woman just needs to keep life on the page. Keep a post on the blog for goodness sakes.