Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Girly Prejudice

"Here's a tip I've never used: I understand you can learn a great deal about girldom by reading Pride and Prejudice, and I own a copy, but I have never read it. I tried. It was given to me by a girl with a little note inside that read: What is in this book is the heart of a woman. I am sure the heart of a woman is pure and lovely, but the first chapter of said heart is hopelessly boring. Nobody dies at all. I keep the book on my shelf because girls come into my room, sit on my couch, and eye the books on the adjacent shelf. You have a copy of Pride and Prejudice, they exclaim in a gentle sigh and smile. Yes, I say. Yes, I do." --Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

I'm kinda embarrassed to be girly. I always have been. In high school, I wore oversized clothes and would only wear lip gloss and would never apply it in front of my dad. I didn't bother to brush my hair until sixth grade. And my sixth grade year book picture proves it. Someday when I'm famous, this is the picture they'll dig up. So I'm giving them a head start. Nowadays, I'll pair my funky red velvet Airwalks with a dress or carry my beat-up army mapbag as a purse with slacks and a blouse to teach. It just makes me feel better.

But I've always loved Pride and Prejudice. My mom and I used to watch A&E's Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy on Saturday mornings. We could quote lines to each other. A few birthdays ago, she bought me the DVD's. Now I only have to change the disc once instead of hopping up to insert six videos. If you sneak up on me, you'll find me stepping back and forth between Lizzy and Darcy's "moment." But I would never let you see on purpose, especially if you are a boy.

Lizzy: "My feelings ... are so different now. In fact ... they are quite ... the opposite."

Darcy stands facing her with the goofiest love grin on a movie-face ever.

The A&E miniseries made me fall in love with Colin Firth. It just happens. Whoever plays Darcy, quotes Darcy, will soon have the ladies following in unified cooing. I say this from experience because I just watched the new remake of P&P, and thought it was kinda cheesy, but Orlando Seale still made my laptop wallpaper.

i think we'd make a nice couple, don't you?

I don't pride myself in unified cooing. I like to do my cooing solo. Ah, but what the heck...


I Still Love You, Pool!

Natalie said she would play pool with me yesterday at the Y! Pool! And it's free with our paid monthly memberships! Free! I was so excited!

And then we found the pool tables. I guess you get what you pay for. The tips of the cue sticks had come off long ago, so while it saved the Y the cost of cue chalk, there was a hollow rattling with every shot as if my stick had hit the table. I mean, those nine-year-olds in the corner could've thought I didn't really know what I was doing. And then the 8-ball had a bite taken out of it like some kid (with very sharp teeth) had asked it a question, and it gave the wrong answer. Huh. That joke has potential.

I used to have a love affair with pool. My senior year of college, Cade and I would head to the student center and trade in our ID for balls and sticks. I can't remember what time of day, though it must've been afternoon-ish. Man, it was fun. He would kick my butt, but it was fun. And I like to think I got to be pretty good. 'Course, I like to think my German got pretty good, too, but my last little excursion to the Motherland made me think otherwise when I ordered driver's ed instead of a train ticket. Oh right, I already told you that one. Sorry.

So Katie and I have been playing pool more. 'Cept we've had to pay $10/hr for a good smoke-free table with no old men staring at our butts while we make our smooth long shots OR going to the smoky places for only a buck a game (i usually learn more trick shots from the dirty old men.) I don't think I'll mind the smoke or the money now, though. Free sucked.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Click here

i'm sorry, my cat's on my lap & i'm pecking, so just do it.

Holy Bingo, Batman

My roommate and closest friend, Amy, has played bingo every night this week. Every night this week. In the process, she has won over $400. Over $400. So I went with her tonight. I tend to be more enthusiastic about going when she's had a big week like this. In the beginning of our bingo adventures, she had to drag me. Now, I volunteer. I was completing the caller's sentences tonight. (It was my sixth time). So far, my grand total of winnings comes to $16.50. $16.50--that's it. And that wasn't even on Good Friday.

Yes, I found myself praying to God for the $1,000 progressive jackpot so that I could pay my insanely-high taxes at just about the time the Son of God's side was being pierced with a sword at hundreds of passion plays. That's the kind of focus I had today.

I had a cranberry-orange scone and a darn good cup of coffee this morning with an old friend (as old as my four-and-a-half years in Wichita allows friends to be). The two of us haven't talked by ourselves in over a year, and she asked me after an hour about why I had called her in the first place. I tried to be honest. I think maybe I was too honest and then not honest enough.

The truth is, I tend to write people off. If they hurt me or say things that hurt my pride or that i think hurt my pride, i avoid them. I can say hurtful things about them to other people. I look for people who agree with me to back me up. It's a subtle thing--this competitive spirit in relationships. There are a couple people in my life that I just don't talk to. And it might not be obvious to anyone else, but it's obvious to me. And it's obvious to a cross-defeating Christ, and He has been letting me know about it.

So I told her that I called her earlier this week as a step toward defeating the competitiveness, the sinful self-sufficiency, the bitterness. And I tried to tell her that. But it's hard to tell someone that you are taking a step toward forgiveness by contacting them, so it came out kind of weird and awkward without the use of the word forgiveness. And afterwards, in trying to explain all this on the phone to Kevin, I realized that I had actually avoided the crucial part of this exercise--dealing with my heart.

Coffee and conversation were a cover-up. Even in my efforts to forgive, I am alarmingly self-sufficient. I need much more than a smile on my face and an encouraging word to forgive. I need a miracle. I need grace. I need a cross.

Jesus, I don't want to write you off anymore. (p. s. i really could use some help paying my taxes, Lord of All)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Saturday, March 19, 2005

What I Love Can Kill Me

It would only take 233.23 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper to kill me. I am assuming this is all at one time, which is good. Because I have probably already drunk this much Diet Dr. Pepper. (have drank this much Diet Dr. Pepper?)

On the upside, it would only take 211.68 cans of Diet Coke to kill me. So I've definitely made the right coke decision. (where i'm from, if it's fizzy, it's coke)

I think a lot less could kill me if it were in a bucket and my head got stuck in that bucket. And maybe it would only take about 1 can falling on my head from the top of the empire state building to put me in the ground.

(thanks, rachel)

p.s. the title's a link.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Celebration of Dancing Shoes

There are at least three thrift stores within a one-mile radius of our home. I randomly pulled into one of them on the way home from working out this morning. Even as I was parking my car two spaces away from the door, I was asking myself what I was doing there. "I don't really need anything," I tried to tell myself. But as I was already parked and out of the car, "Aw, what the hey."

This particular shop is run by a church I think because there's always a Bible verse on the white board in the entryway, and the music they play is usually a flute or clarinet version of a classic hymn or worship song from the eighties. I found a pretty blue cable-knit cardigan sweater, a long polka-dotted scarf to use as a belt, and a much-needed set of white embroidered sheets. Amazing Grace started trickling from the speaker overhead. This time, there were words, too. I hadn't realized it, though, until a thick female voice from the next aisle entered at the second phrase. "....that saved a wretch like me!"

The voice was coming from the shoe aisle. I continued to look at handbags and suitcases because I didn't want my huge grin to make her self-conscious. Well, actually, I just didn't want her to stop. She sounded like a woman who knew what she was singing, and her voice seemed to fill the store, though no one else seemed to notice her. I decided to brave the shoe aisle. My eyes began the up-down-left-right scan of the cubbied pairs of dress shoes, and I almost missed them. Black strapped heels. "Wait, are those...." They were. Black character shoes--dancing shoes.

Now, this moment would hold a lot more significance for you, the reader, if I had informed you at an earlier time of my quest for dancing shoes. I haven't needed them like I need hummus or a good book or a budget. But the swingdancing, though lately intermittent, has been nearly a Sunday night habit. Three weeks ago, Holli, Katie, and I took a six-hour class on a Saturday morning. Yes. Six hours. The shoes I have work, but I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a good pair of character shoes.

"Only a dollar? I knew there was a reason I came in here," I thought out loud.

"Yes, hon, there is always a reason," the singing woman was looking right at the dancing shoes that were now on my feet and fit perfectly. "God is . . . He knows what He's doin. And them are some nice dancin shoes, mm-hmm."

"Let it Be" began to play as we walked toward the counter to pay for our finds.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

God is . . . He does know what He's doing. A random stop at a thrift store, and He spoke to me through a singing stranger. And some nice dancin shoes.

Jailhouse Talk

I had to get a personal background check today. "It's behind the new courthouse beside the church in the lobby of the jail, hon," Tracy from the county sheriff's office told me over the phone. "You can't miss it." After circling the block three times, I finally didn't miss it.

I was the only person in the jail lobby not smoking or contemplating smoking, and I was the only person in pigtails. I saw the Records Office sign and made straight for the door. The lady behind the bullet-proof glass gave me a funny look when I asked to get a background check. "Well, hang on, I'm new here, too," she explained. So she got a quick lesson from a coworker on how to tell young naive girls in pigtails how to fill out a piece of paper with their name and address requesting information on whether or not their meth lab's been busted and if they had to kill someone in the process.

"Why do you need the check?" she asked.

"I'm applying for a teaching position overseas," I replied.

"Okay, we'll have that right out."

I sat in an orange chair and discovered that my phone could download worldwide weather maps at no charge for the next 24 hours.

"Allright, here you go," she rapped on the thick glass. There was some muttering from the women in the cubicles behind her. "Oh, they want to know what you're going to be teaching."


"What?" I hear a woman behind her yell. She turns back toward them and plays an air piano. Muffled voices. "They want to know where you're going to be teaching."


"Germany." More muttering...

"She wants to know if you'll say something in German." She opened the door to the office so that everyone could hear me.

"Danke fuer meine Papier!" I shouted.

"Allright, whatever," came the reply.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Batman Begins

Woo-hoo for another Batman! That's right, folks, the superhero superstar that refuses to be relegated to your local video store is back in full-force by the persons that brought you Newsies, Dawson's Creek, and some other stuff.

"Nice work, Anakin . . . I mean, Bruce."

Really? Liam? Doesn't that seem just a little too, um . . . familiar? Katie Holmes is in this one, and I must say that I am glad to see the heroine pendulum swinging toward brunettes again. Godspeed you Holmeses, Portmans, Garners, and Olson-twin-with-dark-hair-s.

"I love this job more than I love taffy ... and I'm a man who enjoys his taffy."

This is pretty much the batman I fell in love with. Okay, not this one. This is just some guy dressed up in a batsuit. Adam West, current mayor of Quahog, was really my first love. It never bothered me that strings held his cape up in the 'wind' and that his muscular structure would never allow those Pow- and Wham-producing feats every day after school. I've never really been a fan of large pecks anyway.

nothin like a ford
The car was cool, don't get me wrong. Cade told me as we were walking into a KC Goodwill that he saw the man that bought the set Batmobile from one of the previous movies. The man donned a batsuit and drove around town in it. Wish I coulda seen that.
I don't like change, but I have to admit I like the new Batwheels.

I think he is contemplating deep-fried bananas here. I personally really like deep-fried ice cream. I'm sure bananas are good, too. I learned from some new Canadian friends last week that you can also fry Oreos, Twinkies, and probably Ho-Hos, too.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Too Many Marshmallows

Maybe it was the handfuls of marshmallows that I felt compelled to stuff in my mouth this morning. Maybe it's that I only had good sleep until about 4:00 a.m. Maybe it's the swirling emotions in my chest and nasal cavities. Maybe it's cause I don't feel like a missionary.

I remember walking down the aisle at school chapel when I was twelve. I told God after a long sermon, probably from a man living in Mali or over the Great Commission passage, that I would be a missionary. In my mind, this meant that I could expect to get a letter from Him in the next couple days stating the exact head-hunting tribe in Africa that He had assigned me to. The letter never came. In fact, it still hasn't come.

How could living in a western culture be missionary work? How could learning a language I have coveted since elementary school be a valid spiritual assignment? How could God be asking me to do what I love to do in a place that I would love to do it in?

Before my freshman year of college, my piano professor, David Allen Wehr, called me to say hello and tell me what pieces he would like me to work on before classes started. I remember him calling me Stephanie and telling me to prepare Copland's The Cat and the Mouse and some others for the fall. I showed up scared out of my mind with the assigned music for my first college lesson. "Oh, I gave Stephanie that piece. You're working on this one," he explained.

I'm not altogether convinced that God hasn't assigned me the wrong piece. There's someone named Gertrude or Brigitta out there holding my pygmies letter, and I'm holding my breath in hopes that they won't find me.

Book Meme

[got this from Rick]

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the fifth, sixth and seventh sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it. Just grab what is closest!

"Household cleaning products display warnings against everything from fumes to prolonged skin contact. Prescription drugs often bear warning labels about recommended dosages and possible side effects. Even a seemingly harmless packet of scented potpourri carries the warning that it should not be ingested!"

from Pure Sex by Ed Young

I'm sooooo tired . . .

*It's 4:00 am by my body's clock.
*I have been awake for 22 hours.
*My hair has been in the same pigtails since Frankfurt.
*A German agent checked my passport and ticket before I went through security. He told me I looked like Heidi and that he hoped I enjoyed my flight to Miami Beach. (I was flying to Dallas)
*I got the last standby ticket on the first American flight to leave Frankfurt when the flight was oversold with 20 people ahead of me on the waiting list. I don't know how that happened.
*I got to tell a new Slavic friend named Martina, who was staying in the Frankfurt hostel because her mother is in the hospital, why I believed there was a God, and she thanked me for it.
*I forewent the bulk of packing a towel for the night in the hostel, so I am currently not a little bit stinky.
*I was beginning to feel pretty good about my language skills again when I proceeded to ask a German train conductor in German if I could purchase a 'Fahrschule' from him. "A Fahrkarte?" he asked. I had just asked him to sell me a traveling school.
*I'm home and well. More later. For now, sleep.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

On the 27th Anniversary of the Day of My Birth

King James and I had a reunion today.

I couldn't find my special Bible--I think I left it at Holli, Cely, and Katie's house. So I dusted off the old broken blue pleather King James-er given to me three months after my birth by some dear family friends. The school where I spent kindergarten through tenth grade didn't allow us to use a version other than King James... I think because of evil things like copyrights and paraphrases. I got pretty used to hearing the 'thees' and 'thous.' Since leaving the school, however, I can't remember cracking the blue pleather, and the NIV translations have replaced my KJV memory verses. It was a beautiful day today--almost 75--and it was porchswing time once again (armed with kleenex and claritin).

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

In second grade, I discovered highlighting. I had noticed Dad obediently ruffling through his Bible to find Hezekiah-something that the pastor had rattled off in a foreign language on Sunday morning. And there they were! Flashes of color on the tissue-thin pages. They couldn't have been pictures. They were too small and monochromatic to be pictures. Why did his have color? Mine was only black and white. Then I noticed the girl sitting next to me in chapel had color in hers, too. She had written in her Bible! Her Bible! We weren't allowed to make any marks in our readers, but here she was making marks in color in God's book! After school, I went straight to my dad's desk where I knew he kept his yellow highlighter for his calendar. I took the highlighter and my Bible back to my room and shut the door. I opened up to page one and began my beautification process. Random verses of the first three pages of Genesis are still an aged yellow. My childhood was apparently before cell phones and pink highlighters, because almost all of the highlighting throughout is yellow. Also yellow but done a few years later:

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

I leave for Germany Tuesday to "survey the land," as D.D. puts it. This time it's not a vacation. This time I am visiting a new people and a new place that God may be calling me to claim as my own. Tuesday looms like Easter weekend--excitement for Resurrection Sunday mixed with the dread of knowing Good Friday must come first.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

As you read this, would you please pray that God would heal my body before I leave and that I would hear His voice clearly while I am there? Thanks.