It was the best of times, it was the

When I was in second grade, my elementary school made us all take a bunch of tests. They had all these (seemingly) boring questions about random stuff, and they were all timed, so naturally I loved them. What’s that? You want me to solve this problem about a tiger holding an hourglass and pickle, escaping a moving a train with no windows but a semi-working floor hatch AND I get out of class for it? I’m in. The result of these tests was me getting to leave class every week for a few hours to join with (maybe 7) others (I really feel a little guilty for not remembering any of them) in an awesome room that had tons of cool models and activities and books my regular classroom didn’t have just so we could all sit around and write made-up mystery stories (you’re looking at the 1st place [AMONGST SECOND THROUGH FOURTH GRADE] winner for most creative fiction story 1995) and watch documentaries about the ocean and stuff.

It helped me cope. I wasn’t the quiet one in GT; I wasn’t the over-achiever; I wasn’t the teacher’s pet; and no one tried to cheat off of me, ever. I never had to raise my hand or even speak out loud if I didn’t want to (although in my later elementary school years they would make me read parts of plays in front of the group. and I wouldn’t hate it anymore). It was a place where we were free from all conventional schooling restraints and could decide and figure out who we were and what we were about. We didn’t have to melt into a mold that one of the class Alicias or Treys had decided we needed to fit into, and we didn’t have to try and impress anyone because we were already all super impressed with each other. There was an unspoken understanding between us all. It was glorious.

But I remember, still so vividly, something that happened with one of the girls when I was in fourth grade. (a couple things I vividly remember actually, but the other was when I locked one of the Brittneys into a trunk on accident and we had to find the janitor to break her out. Very traumaticDRAMATIC situation, but a story for another day).

Fourth grade was the year I took a “read-as-many-words-as-you-can-in-one-minute” test and finished the entire page full, but missed one word because I pronounced “our” as “are”. Like my poor 8 year old drawl hadn’t suffered enough differentiating between “then” and “than”.  I digress.

There was a girl in my GT class named Katherine. I remembered her from second grade because one time she brought a note to my teacher and this awful boy named Peyton made mean faces at her and she almost cried and I already hated Peyton because he had my name and he was a jerk, and obviously no one wants to share their name with a jerk. By fourth grade, she had toughened up. She had also grown. A lot. She was a good head and shoulders taller than all the rest of us and she had long, bright red hair. I thought she was awesome.

Every now and then we would have GT together, and she would stand on a stool with a boa draped around her shoulders and give a dramatic reading of Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing because we were prolific like that. She also had this deep, gut laugh that made you smile even if you didn’t want to. She was cool before kids in fourth grade knew what cool really was.

One day she brought a note into my homeroom class (apparently in her classes, she was always most trusted at carrying important papers through halls). I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I think she tripped or something while she was at the front of the room by the board. I remember looking up because several people in the room audibly laughed and most of the others snickered. (Meanwhile, I was too busy reading ahead to have even seen what happened. sheesh.)

Her reaction is what I remember the most. I can still see her there, her cheeks were only a little pink, shoulders only a little slouched and she turned to face the class and loudly made a remark about what a klutz she was. Then she bopped herself on the head and started a 20 second tirade about how ‘she’s such a dummy and she can’t do anything or go anywhere’, all while laughing and wiggling around, working the stage. I suppose it should be impressive that a fourth grader instinctively behaved this way, but I remember I instantly felt really sad.

I didn’t know why. Maybe it was because my 60+ year old teacher looked slightly mortified and I was identifying with her emotions, but maybe it’s because of what I didn’t know I knew then.

Self-depreciation is not cool.
Watching her squirm, no matter how cool I still thought she was, was sad.
Watching a nine year old begin to define herself by the opinions of her peers made me feel sad.
Watching a room full of peers assigning worth to someone made me sad. I know this is what was happening because I know what happened next. After she left, our class got scolded. Then for the rest of the day kids re-enacted the entire scene. Then for the next week, a few specific words or actions would elicit laughter. Then for the rest of the year, kids periodically made fun of her. And by spring Katherine was the only kid I personally knew who visited the school counselor.

As an adult, I can apply a lot more meaning to the situation. I can understand better what was actually happening. And I can see how we begin to mold our character long before we ever understand what we’re doing.

Here’s what I began to construct that day (well probably long before that day, but what I can see happening in myself that day). I wanted to control the situation. I wanted to will my classmates to behave tactfully. I wanted her to stop making fun of herself, to know that it wasn’t a big deal, and she was still cool, and she didn’t need to be affected by 300 measly seconds of time. I wanted my teacher to be proud of me for not laughing. I wanted to bring the composure back, restore the equilibrium between all involved parties, and then calmly observe the symmetry.

You see, I’m cool with change. I like mystery. I love a crowd. But they wear me out, and in order for me to exist as freely as I’m capable of, I feel like I need to know the boundaries. I need to be able to predict things and call them what they are, THEN things can be as chaotic as they wish to be. What I began to do was take it upon myself to become the equilibrium. I’m not a people-pleaser. I’m not a soothe-sayer. But I am a diffuser of awkward. I am an insulator of feelings.

The problem with being this is that sometimes you take things upon yourself that aren’t for the taking.You assume you must when really you shouldn’t. At some point, because your system has served you well, because it has given you identity and worth and most importantly, Control, you fight for it. But at another fairly close and completely related point, it drains you. It takes everything from you, because you have to pour all you have into sustaining other people and things.

Then at at yet another point, much further down the road, you realize you don’t know how you feel because you’ve been too busy either feeling other people’s feelings for them or negating other people’s feelings for them. When you have to feel–when you choose to feel–you find it leaves you empty.

I don’t have answers yet. I don’t even know why I really wrote this post other than I kept thinking about Katherine yesterday, and my therapist says it’s good for my growth to write about the things I’m learning and working through. So, three cheers for over-sharing! And another three for friends who will read this and will feel over-joyed that I shared rather than over-shared with. You’re the best.

((and because I know you’re all dying to know, the story I won the creative writing award for was about whale blubber. And it was a mystery. I know you’re too impressed for words.))

A Single Girl’s Guide to Life (and/or Valentine’s Day)

As a single lady, people will make all sorts of inaccurate assumptions about you. They will also give you unwelcomed advice. This post does both. Assuming you can get past that, I’ve comprised a guide for my fellow ladies on how to live…life…and/or Valentine’s Day.

Single ladies always get dissed on because they like to call V-Day Single Appreciation Day or a holiday created by greeting card companies (which, if this is you, READ A HISTORY BOOK). So, first things first, Don’t Hate Valentine’s Day. And please for love of Jane Austen, coffee, and all things holy, do NOT call it Gal-entine’s Day. You may however say ANY of the following things, and if you choose to do so, please know I want to be your bff.

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Single ladies are always assumed to be bored or lonely. So, nextly, (and this is really crazy and lengthy, so look out) Do Something. Don’t want to sit at home? Don’t. Tired of playing solitaire? Play my personal favorite game, “Bet-On-Your-Unsingle-Friends’-Relationships”. Grab a few other single ladies and place your bets: How long is this couple going to last? When will that one get engaged? Will they be married by the end of this year? Loser buys dinner. (And depending on your mood or inclination, everyone is a winner or everyone is a loser in alternative versions of this game).

(my current bets are for March, May, and by December 31,2014)

Single ladies always act like they can’t dress up without approval or plausible cause. Wrong! Put On Some Heels. And I’m going to cater this tip to this holiday in particular, don’t act like you not wearing pajamas and Uggs tonight will cause the world to implode. You know those shoes you only put on when you need to hang the star on your Christmas tree or get that cobweb from the corner above the fridge? Well, dust ’em off girlfriend, because you’re wearing them tonight! And even better, 98% of the people you see will be on dates, so no one will try to hit on you or comment on how tall and intimidating you are. SorryNotSorry, suckas!

I’ve heard urban legends of Single ladies who think it’s okay to still play pretend when they’re out of middle school/well into their 20s. Having an active imagination is probably a good thing, but please oh please, Don’t send yourself flowers. [Read: Don’t pretend like you have some secret super model banging down your door, but like, he’s way too attractive to be seen in daylight and like, so for real too busy to stop by and meet everyone, but has the jaw line of a young Brad Pitt and the eyes of an experienced George Clooney so everyone just calm down.] You may not believe this is a thing; I didn’t, but 2/2 girls told me they’ve heard/seen this happen first-hand. WHAT?! stop it. Pick some flowers out of the grass behind your apartment, but don’t send them to your workplace.

Single girls also really enjoy a good cry (EXAMPLE). And I get it, tension release, freedom, the cleansing from days/weeks/months of mascara build-up-it’s all liberating, but please Don’t curl up with The Notebook OR THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. Seriously, crying can be cathartic, but watching an impossible love take place between two people genetically engineered to make you swoon will not somehow make any of what you’re seeing a probable or even possible reality in your life. Let’s be real, Ally was kind of a brat, and pulling even half of the crap she did would be enough for any real life Noah to throw up some deuces and hit the road. AND don’t EVEN get me started on that time traveling crap. If time is relevant, wibbly wobbly if you will, then love is a joke. I could rant for days about that movie (and about how I literally continued crying for 3 hours after I saw it), but I don’t believe it’s necessary. Stick with the Burlesques and Devil Wears Pradas tonight, friends.

I for one, as a single girl, still love Valentine’s day. And I loved making cards for my friends to let them know they make my life happier than I can make it alone. And I love making reservations to spend an entire meal with people I love talking about life and laughing about…well mostly boys and movies and how you probably shouldn’t paint your nails while driving. I love dancing in parking lots and living rooms and belting out some Pat Benatar with random strangers at karaoke. So THAT’S what I’ll be doing (probably as you’re reading this) ((well maybe not right as, because the only time I could get a dinner reservation for 3 girls was 5:45pm, so at this moment I’m probably chatting up the other 80 year olds about what Valentine’s Day was like back in the 50s and did people still like chocolate this much, because how could they not, and yes, I get it, I’m not getting any younger, and why are we still talking to you, you’re ruining our night)). And I’ll be imitating Prince, just like this all night, because, duh, why would you ever not aspire to be this way?

Valentine’s Eve.

I’m about to tread dangerous, likely to be misunderstood sinking sand ground here, but in honor of all my years of experience, I’d like to share a few tidbits (a word about which I have been conflicted over for many many moons).

Things you shouldn’t say to your single friends tomorrow:

These are unfortunately all based off of actual things that people (any resemblance of chosen gifs to actual people real or imagined is completely coincidental and actually I’m just lying now because it’s probably really, really intentional) have said to me along the way. Bless their hearts.

1. “I just want you to be as happy as I am.” -the completely clueless friend who also thinks that roses are romantic.

2. “Do you want me to drop you off some ice cream and a movie?” -the secretly selfish friend who might not rub her impending dinner plans in, but is absolutely not staying in to hang out with your lame self. She knows you can’t not cry during the notebook and there’s no way you’re getting tears on her new red dress. This is also the kind of friend who would wear a red dress. Wait, why are you even friends with this person again?

3. “Let’s celebrate Galentines’ Day!” -the, surprisingly (not surprisingly) also single friend who probably likes to talk about how Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day and likely starts complaining about V-day mid-December. *Warning, if you even think you hear this person utter “Single Awareness Day” under their breathe, you’re already a dead man walking.This person is bad juju for your love-life kharma-tically speaking.

4. “Maybe next year we can go on a double date” -a psychopath. Seriously, who who would even plan their holidays a year in advance? I mean, if you’re at all like me and think that meal-planning people have been gifted with super-hero type powers, this is impossible to fathom. (Also, who said I liked your boyfriend enough to double-date him, hypothetical, not at all real person?!) Unless we’re talking about Thanksgiving in Harry Potter World, in which case, plan away, I love you guys, Clara and KB!

5. “Are you sad” -a condescending person who clearly wants you to never talk to them again. I mean, when confronted with this question, I just assumed that this person was tired of my shenanigans and had finally devised the perfect way to get rid of my presence in their life; well played, ex-friend, well-played. (if that wasn’t the intention, well I’m not sorry, you’re still the worst, and hopefully you don’t read this blog)

But don’t worry, I’m not the kind of girl who would leave you with only a list of don’ts; that’s too much pressure! Let’s counter it with some dos.

Here are some things you should say to your single friends:
1. I forgot today was Valentine’s Day!
2. I brought you this taco!
3. I brought you this chocolate!
4. I brought you this beverage of your favorite choice!
5. You’re cool.
(Seriously, single people like the same things un-single people like. MIND BLOWN, RIGHT?!)

And if you don’t do dumb things, your friends won’t end up like this:

are you from Tennessee?

((’cause you’re the only 10 I see))

My favorite holidays, in exact and precise order are: My Birthday, Thanksgiving, and VALENTINE’S DAY. A few years ago I started making valentines for my friends because I’m perpetually single it’s a fun thing to do, and it’s a tradition that I plan on continuing until forever. I love a good craft, I love a good pun, I love telling people I love them, and I love love; basically I can’t even handle how excited I get around February. So here’s a few pictures of the fruits of my labor. Glitter. Hearts. Water colours. LOVE IT.

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SUPER obsessed with this heart garland made from (yes) book pages and other things. I now have them hanging from multiple corners in my apartment.

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And of course a few puns + some watercolours makes for fun fun fun love notes.

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so cool how the latte one looks like I spilled A LATTE on it, RIGHT?! (ease up watercolour is hard)

Wish these Downton beauties were my idea, but alas I printed them from here and then eventually glitterfied them.

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I also personally love this “British-Emotionally-Repressed” card.

Caution: easily swooned.

Nothing like a good love note, AMIRIGHT? I’m so right.

Expression

I’ve been battling with my brain and my notebooks for the last few days wondering whether I dare to share a few more intimate posts. Then today I came across this quote, and well, now I’m just wondering some more. But the point is that I wanted to at least share the quote. Because it’s good. So there. (Sorry I can’t give original credit for whoever created the image)

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The 4 stages of Nashville.*

Unmitigated Awe. You develop almost instinctively a respect for the variety of people, style choices, and coffee preferences; a respect that causes you to defend strangers on the street to your tourist relatives.

 

Unfortunate Prejudice. You suddenly know with great conviction that the coffee shop (or coffee parlor, if you will) that you frequent is far superior to that other one around the corner half a block up in that abandoned gas station, and God help you if you actually drink the stuff they call coffee at the one where you sit on high stools and communicate your order to the barista using only your eyes.

Ubiquitous Cynicism. Somewhere along the way (and transition into this stage is almost imperceptible), your first response starts to become “yeah, ok”. You doubt that anyone is doing anything just because they like it; you doubt that anything can change; you doubt that anything can stay the same; you question all things and all people.

Unfaltering Pride. You’ve seen it, heard it, felt it, and now this is your city. Weird or not, elite or not, ridiculous or not, you love the people, the sights, the sounds, and heaven knows you’ll throw serious shade on anyone who dares to question anything about it.

*These stages are mostly sarcastic, developed mainly for entertainment purposes only, and represent the opinions of the author solely, not all of Nashville. (so calm down, Nashvillians.)

the longest story about cookies you’ll ever read.

So recently I received an invitation to an adult Christmas party. I say adult to reiterate the fancy-ness of this event. No tacky sweaters, no dumb white elephant waste of money, no gingerbread competitions (I feel it my duty as your honest correspondent to let you know that MY Christmas party this year was tacky themed, and I personally created the gumdrop walkway for my group’s gingerbread house). The invitation to the adult party however, specified that we would be having none of those childish antics. This party would be fancy.

At this point you’re probably like “poor Jenna, her dirty bird’s nest haired self surely hates fancy”, but you’re wrong! I love a good fancy. It theoretically gives me a chance to wear those black glittery stilettos that make me amazon-woman height, again. (let me spell out reality for you here, those shoes have only seen the inside of AUM’s gym when they were worn for the only time in their existence at my college graduation) Neither here, nor there, people! The invitation made me excited about dressing up (translation: brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, and brushing the lint off my dress). And even better, you get to bring your own treat to this party! YAYYYyy..yyy.y..

Sooooo, here’s the thing with bringing your own treat to a fancy party, it’s gotta be fancy right? (Remember we’re in my mind right now, dear reader, and so the resounding answer is?) Right! Even better, still too naive to be daunted I opened my new most favorite app (Yummly: seriously, such a good one) and quickly found both a sweet and a savory treat that I was going to hand-make and take.

Here’s why I didn’t recognize my delusions of grandeur just yet:

  1. Both recipes had less than 4 ingredients. ONE OF THEM HAD ONE INGREDIENT.
  2. The pictures that they find to represent the recipes are phenomenal. It took excessive restraint to avoid licking my phone’s screen.
  3. The directions are super simple. Again, less than 5 steps- “I bet my baby niece could do this without looking” she said smugly to herself.
  4. PARTY MODE. Anything and everything you want to do is accessible and possible and the best idea you’ve ever had when you’re in party mode.

I imagined me placing each treat in a pretty little vintage container. I smiled to myself as I saw people oohing and ahhing and barely believing that they weren’t store-bought (evidenced only by the fact that mine looked so much prettier than the store bought ones). I heard people asking for more and amongst many declarations of “oh my goodness, try this” and “i die” I saw myself blushing slightly and shrugging my shoulder with an ever-so-slight flip of my hair. It was majestic, potentially prophetic, if you will.

Then I went to the grocery store. Not 2 weeks early because I was so excited to gather and prepare for my 15 minutes of fame like I should have, no, no, I went the night before the party. I guess now it’s finally time to tell you what exactly I was going to make.

A) “Spicy Cheddar Appetizer Cookies”    and
B) “Raspberry Almond Layered Icebox Cookies”

(( side note : EVERYONE CALM DOWN WITH THE RECIPE NAMES. if there is one thing I have learned, it is that food people will go the extra mile to make you feel uncultured. You know what that drizzle of chocolate over that one scoop of ice cream on my 12×12 square plate is? Cruel temptation; it’s like you want me to swipe at it with my dirty finger. You know what that sprig of grass hanging over the side of my soup is? Unnecessary; if I wanted to eat weeds I would’ve ordered your salad fancy folk. You know what “Spicy Cheddar Appetizer Cookies” are? Smooshed cheese straws; cut with aholiday cookie cutter.))

It may have been a mere 24 hours before I was to unveil my creations at this party, but I waltzed up into that Kroger like I owned it. After all, I had simple recipes with beautifully rendered photographs on my phone, and at 4 items long, the most impressive shopping list ever.

Then. The. Search. Began.

Let me tell you what you’re not waltzing up into your local chain grocery store and finding: ANYTHING on my list. Oh right, you don’t know yet, here’s the list:

  1. Spicy Cheddar Cheese Straw Dough
  2. Spice Cookie Dough
  3. Raspberry Jam
  4. Blanched Almonds

Thus it began. I started calmly and with “easy” things. Jam. Raspberry Jam. Cool, people love jam so this should be quick. …Jelly, jelly, jelly, preserves, jelly, preserves…no jam. Now a quick google search (YES I DID A GOOGLE SEARCH, don’t act like you know the technical differences between the two) of jam vs preserves. They’re different, it turns out, and 2/3 of the websites I clicked said they’re not generally interchangeable in fancy recipes. Here’s to you, third website! Got the preserves.

Next I thought, almonds, that’s my go-to “vegetarians don’t get enough protein and stuff” disputer, I should totally be able to find some blanched ones. But blanched…as in gag? or Devereaux? (Cooks apparently get to make up words with no repercussions.) (FYI “blanched” means without their skins. Good luck buying them that way) Apparently though, they’re easy to do yourself with some steamy water and a bowl (4/4 websites said so), but this is the point in the story where panic set in. What if I can’t blanch them properly? What if I can’t make steam? What if they get soggy? What if doing this takes all my energies?! No, no thank you, I’ll just buy them sliced up…then there’s only a little skin. The whole point of that was probably so the end product would look prettier anyways and I’m now 45 minutes past even caring what the end product looks like. (this is foreshadowing at its finest)

So moving along, the doughs. I probably walked the same 2 aisles a good 12 times each, passing the same cute boy 24 times, refusing to make eye contact with the same savvy mom 12 times (she was much more efficient than me and my short-term-grocery-store-boyfriend; guess she knew what she was looking for). But all of this to no avail. THERE WAS NO DOUGH. And in that moment, I knew what must be done, I dropped the Spicy Cheddar Appetizer Cookies recipe like it was hot. Pretty sure I audibly exclaimed “you’re not worth it” which wasn’t the wisest exclamation when you recall the aforementioned company I was in.

No matter, I’m only looking for spice cookie dough now, easy peasy. Nope. Kroger is not fancy like all that. At Kroger you can have the chocolate chip cookie dough, the sugar cookie dough, or the chocolate chip cookie dough. So I again referenced ye old google who told me that to make my own spice cookie dough I will need an additional 10 ingredients. aaaaannnnd we’re done. Obviously I picked up two ROLLS of sugar cookie dough.

This is the part where everyone always gets all, “Well duh, Jenna, you didn’t use the same ingredients as the recipe, of course it turned out like it did” to which I will respond, true. But also, until you can prove to me that those pictures online are real food and not delicacies from Emeril’s imagination that someone dreamed up in Photoshop, I will not respond to any of your (highly logical) points.

So after that endeavor, when I finally get home, I’m not even in the mood to make anything. So I don’t. [insert nail painting and record playing here] Cue day of party.

I decide to look at the recipe again because surely it won’t be that hard and no cookie will take longer than the two hours I have between work and the party. Oh, I’m sorry, suddenly now, we’re ALL supposed to know that icebox cookies have to be refrigerated for hours at a time all along the way? And that 2 hours minimum is indeed essential? Great. Guess I know where I’m spending my lunch hour today.

Not a big deal though, l’ll just prepare the cookies at lunch and bake them after work. The dough has already been in the fridge, so it’s totally not necessary to open it, unroll it, then put it back in, let’s just skip that step! Also don’t own a rolling pin, but we can improvise! Oh wait, there’s no more flour in the apartment either? And be straight with me, it IS or ISN’T advisable to use this jar of salsa like a rolling pin? cool. I’ll use my hands.

So I smashed all the dough flat–did that recipe say 1/8 of an inch or 18/8 of an inch because the the thickness of my dough here is certainly within the parameter of 18/8 of an inch. I cut up the dough and layered ingredients as the recipe directed, but given that the cookie is much thicker when flattened with my human hand as opposed to being flattened with a rolling pin, MY cookies are only 3 layers deep instead of Martha Stewart’s 6-9 layers. (MARTHA! How do you even defy gravity like that?!) Eventually the dough started getting really soft, so I traded the knife for a cookie cutter and made some cookie sandwiches. Then the dough started losing its will to live and I couldn’t peel it from the paper or my hand so I called it a day (an hour) and put the pizza pan full of icebox cookies* (*term used loosely) into the fridge and headed back to work, questions like “will they be edible,” “should I warn people before they partake,” and “is Martha Stewart really a robot after all” running through my mind.

After work I returned home full of anticipation. First thing I did (was actually not check on the cookies, but let’s pretend for the climax of this story’s sake it was) was check the cookies! Sure enough, they were hard as a rock, seemingly affected by the “icebox” in the best possible way. So I consult my handy app, see that they need to now be put in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, and do so.

Now at this point, I’m home free. I have done the manual labor, wasted my lunch break, and have nothing left to do except expect the hallelujah chorus to unexplainedly be playing as I pull a pan of beautiful perfection out of my oven. Self-assured, I allowed Siri to make me a timer (clearly revealing the nature of my spirit as I would generally rather die than let Siri help me; I AM SPEAKING ENGLISH, MACHINE; everyone else understands me just fine.), and I continued getting ready for the party.

Fast forward a few Katy Perry jams and an eyelash curling later, and my timer goes off. IT’S TIME! Unsuspecting of the tragedy we all know was about to befall me, I excitedly opened the oven to find the most horrifc, troubling pan of straight goo.

They.

Filled.

The.

Whole.

Pan.

They expanded like a pregnant Kim Kardashian, and were equally frightening to behold (I know, I’m a bully. Sorrynotsorry. ok, I’m kind of sorry). So with all my intellectual prowess, my problem solving solution was to cook them the rest of the way like normal cookies should be cooked and then carve them with a cookie cutter. Move slowly and no one will ever know what happened.

Fast forward a few Beyonce songs and few dress changes later, and they’re done baking. They look an awful lot like something diseased, certainly not appealing and as they sit there for like 2 minutes, they harden into these vicious bricks that people could potentially crack their teeth on and sue me over. (Also I don’t even like sugar cookies so I don’t know if it even tasted appealing) The only real solution here was evident; I ran into the Publix on the way to the party, ignored the judgmental gazes of my fellow shoppers (which were probably mostly because I was wearing a coat in 65 degree weather [GET IT TOGETHER NASHVILLE it’s December]) grabbed some macaroons and gingerbread cookies, and blamed it all on my lack of domesticity when I got to the party.

What counts is I tried. And what really counts is that I know my limits. Live and learn and eventually stop pretending that buying it at Publix isn’t the only option. Because it so is.

that gross looking bit is the raspberry jam and almonds. debauchery.

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the great gamble.

Recently I was asked to contribute my voice and skill-set to a publication and in doing so I got to join in on some really cool stories happening at and through the church I’ve been serving at for the past few years. One of the experiences was especially touching to me, so I decided to share it here. This is only place it can be read in entirety too, so win-win!

Obviously you can read the article below and figure out what was happening that night. But since you likely don’t go there, it probably won’t mean as much to you. That’s cool. Because what I really want to talk about is the things I learned through the experience of collecting these glimpses into people’s stories, and I feel pretty confident you’ll relate to those much more easily. Somewhere in this creative process I gambled a bit of my soul, poured it all in to digging deep alongside others, but as is (potentially necessary?) apt to happen, the cards were eventually stacked against me and I saw unappealing, hurtful consequences of making yourself completely defenseless and trusting. Time will heal all wounds and all that gooey cliche goodness, but until then, here’s what I’m walking away with.

First I learned that sometimes it’s important to work on a good thing just because it’s a good thing. I “learned” that by reading it in a book my friend KB just got me; it has lots of awesome, inspiring quotes in it and one was “Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed”. Really hard lesson, really good truth. Read it again.

Next I learned that you can only speak where you can speak. If your platform is taken away, build another one. What’s that? It’s lower? No one can hear you because your new platform is actually the one at Grand Central Terminal? No matter, the homeless guy sitting nearby can no doubt hear just fine. That’s two ears, and sheesh, how many do you really need? (That whole thing is a metaphor for me writing/sharing this stuff on my blog…don’t you wish your English professors in college would have spelled things out like that when you were reading Homer?)

Another lesson, that is still totally in progress, is to keep trusting. I believe that’s important. I believe that to be kingdom people, we have to live in the kingdom…not in our heads. But I really want to live in my head right now. And I really want to clinch my fist and smirk because my cynicism knew it all along. I don’t believe I should. And I don’t believe I will, but it’s taking a lot to remember, to relearn, the importance of unrestrained, unmerited trust. I’ll get there. We all will.

(And to help paint a picture of the story below, here are some actual pictures)

Luke

father/daughter

 

Lucas Zegelien began a personal relationship with Jesus just this last summer. Although his faith walk has just begun, his parents are excited about leading the way and setting examples for him. His mom, Traci, says “We’re excited about My First Communion tonight because it’s one more step in making his faith real for him.” The Zegeliens see the importance in teaching their son about this tradition, and as Paul puts it, “Experiencing it is more impacting than just telling him about it; and what better way is there than with our church family?”

The night began with Children’s Minister Nic Allen addressing the families and explaining to them the thought behind this parent-requested event. “This family communion experience is really important. It elevates two of our primary values.

The first of course, is communion itself. It’s a vital expression of our faith story. The second is family. Parents are the primary spiritual developers of their kids, and having moms and dads lead their kids through this experience is incredible!” From there the kids and their parents made a craft representing a spiritual truth that they as believers can claim with confidence, and then they moved into a time of learning the history behind as well as leading up to “The Lord’s Supper”. After the group watched a clip from the movie The Prince of Egypt, Nic discussed the tradition of remembering and celebrating God’s power in what he has done for his people throughout the ages.

Although Nic taught in a way that tied together traditions and elements the kids were familiar with, the truth in his teaching is relevant for us all. When we approach the table, do we remember the beauty and fear associated with the God we serve? Do we remember the protection he’s given his people century after century; do we celebrate his matchless grace? The kids at this First Communion Experience were led to celebrate all these things, and furthermore, they were encouraged to celebrate together. They passed the cup among their family; they broke bread together; they got to not only hear, but see the bond of Christ in action among their families—both physical and spiritual.

As Nic encouraged those in attendance that night, taking communion together isn’t something we have to wait to do until we are lead in a church service. We can and should be remembering Christ together all the time. But for those who are new believers, especially kids, this quarterly gathering to learn and grow together is a great place to start.

patient say what?

Patients say the darndest things.

Working at a front desk is way more thrilling than I ever expected it to be. I mean I was in this for the stress-free environment and the opportunity to feel truly competent and successful at the end of the day. Done and Done. The bonus has been getting to talk to people on the phone and by the coffee machine all day. Don’t misunderstand me, I have had many a “uh, sorry boutcha sir, that’s on you” moment, but for the most part patients are really funny.
The other day I had one kind sir who was emphatic about my hair color and how well it fit me. I don’t even think at this point it looks dyed anymore, but he was a big fan of it, so that’s fun; affirmation!
Then yesterday a cowboy/ horse shoe-er taught the hygienist the chorus to Lady Marmalade  (Vouz le vouz couche avec moi se soir) without telling her at all what it meant until right before he left, so I got listen to a 30 minute french lesson where she was asking him if he wanted to sleep with her tonight, then he cackled his way out saying “you gotta have the fun, because some people are just (insert stank face here) and it’s no good in life. You got.tah. have. the. fun.” as he fist bumped me for tricking her into saying all that without knowing.
Once a lady called to move her appointment and ended up talking to me for 30 minutes about her weekend plans with her family that was coming into town and how her husband hadn’t listened to her, but she knew about downtown parking, and when women have intuitions you have to listen but men don’t know that so you end up walking 10 blocks just for a drink and you get a ticket anyways, but that can’t ruin your time at the lake because there are boats and that’s why the appointment has to be moved because you gotta live life while it’s warm out.
And then a precious old lady recently widowed calls to cancel her husband’s appointment because he isn’t here anymore, and you just have to cry on the phone with her for a minute.
I LOVE that I get to see so much humanity here. Every day is so full of every mood and character trait and so many moments ripe with, well, just humanity. People are real and when you’re face-to-face with them all day, a dismissive one followed by a complimenting one followed by a grouchy one followed by a jokester, it starts to mean a lot that each of us are known so fully and wholly.
I used to really struggle with that. I mean who doesn’t at times, but I mean daily, crippling, perspective-changing struggles over the possibility of not being known. It’s sad. And draining. But we are known. Fully. And we are overwhelming loved and wanted. No matter what our personality or character shows us to be. Great mystery. I don’t understand, but I like getting little glimpses into it. And I like lamenting over the coffee company not making everyone’s favorite anymore and laughing with people over wild animals making them late to their appointments. I like this a lot.