Save Room

We never ate dessert as part of our dinner growing up. We got dessert. We ate sweet things. But never did we finish our dinner so that we could get dessert. So when I got older and started eating out on my own or visiting with friends who did have that tradition, I started hearing a new phrase— “don’t forget to save room for dessert!”

I like that. Take initiative. Make plans. Demonstrate discipline. Go big. Get the pie. But what inevitably happens when the server comes back to the table to ask if you’ve actually saved room for dessert? You say, no, maybe next time. Right? (90% of the time, yes, right.)

I don’t like that. I eat my dessert first. If I want dessert, why would I take the chance of it not being there when I’m ready, or me not having room because I used up all my dessert space with other filling things that I didn’t want as much, or me changing my mind (and most likely having a least one subsequential conversation about how good I bet that chocolate pie was?) If I want dessert, I make sure I eat dessert.

I think there are people who don’t know the practical applications of this principle. People who enjoy what they have, yes. Who cultivate intentions of having good and desirable things, yes. But sometimes I think these people follow timelines created by a culture that doesn’t offer individualized specifications, and by the time they realize and decide what they want, it’s gone. I think sometimes people get so caught up pursuing good things and competing (whether with others or with themselves) in an endless race to be better and more that by the time they stop to evaluate what they really want, they realize they haven’t the room to take it in. And I certainly think that every single day there are people who after changing their mind (because it’s their prerogative) wonder what might’ve been because they were too ___________ to give it a chance.

I think it’s sad.

I don’t want that.

My hope is that I would be someone who is constantly evolving, constantly weeding out things old and unused, things that have become ineffective or impractical, to make room for better things—things that will stretch me, grow me, make me better. I hope that I never become so self-satisfied, not even so engulfed by a passion or project, that I forget to look outside myself, that I forget to let others contribute to…well, to me. I want to make room in real time not theory. I want to live as if this is all I have, this here and now, this hurt and pain and beauty and love. I don’t want to have to make room for good things, for things that I love, I want to have some room ready and waiting, and when those things come along, I want to embrace them, then and there, and enjoy them and treasure them and have no regrets.

Isn’t that what you want too?

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the side effects of being over-caffeinated

How do you know when you have a crush on someone? Sometimes it’s hard for me to gauge my emotions. (don’t worry; my therapist says that being aware is a big, good step forward. cool.) Ridiculous or no, though, I have a hard time with things that aren’t logical. If it doesn’t make sense, I’m going to struggle; I can promise you that. I know what you’re all thinking “But Jenna, how do you even live in a world where bologna is spelled “b-o-l-o-g-n-a” with an attitude like that?” I’ll tell you how. I stopped eating meat. Take that, inconsistencies!*

Feelings do not make sense. The only consistent thing about them is that they are always changing. (This is where my most favorite English Professor would say “…mutability” in this slow, almost creepy way to ingrain in our minds the inevitability of change and its significant impact on all good literature, but none of you were there, so it’s not funny to you like it is me–why am I still writing about this?!) Where were we? Right, FEELINGS. They are the worst. So in working with something so impossibly challenging, I of course see a personal challenge. How do you master feelings? You create a framework for them to function within, then you pretend like they naturally make sense (and ignore the fact that they only make sense because you’ve now manipulated the system and shaped everything to your liking).

I realize that the only convincing I’ve done so far is to assure you that I am indeed a hot mess, mentally (and otherwise if we’re being real, but come on you guys we can’t follow every rabbit trail), so now let me attempt to convince us that feelings can be logical.

A quick poll of some people I know ( I mean, people on the streets because we’re all about objectivity here)** revealed that there are a few consistencies present in the emergence of a developing “crush”. (At this point I would like to be commended for avoiding the rabbit trail of discussion regarding why “being minimally attracted to without pressure or excessive expectation of someone” is referred to as having a “crush on someone”. I want to OED this business so bad, but I won’t. For your sake, and actually more so because I don’t think I have access to that database anymore and because I don’t want to put you to sleep with my fondness of semantics.) (LONGEST PARENTHETICAL ASIDES EVER; I FEEL SO DICKENSIAN RIGHT NOW) Apparently one begins the process of recognizing one is beginning the process of “crushing” by noting the evidence of the following things:

1. You become a stalker (albeit a socially accepted one).
Two words. Social. Media. It starts simply enough, “Oh, I’ll just scroll through their twitter feed.” You think it’s innocent enough; you feel like you’re just getting a feel for their sense of humor, but before you know it you’re pages deep and you’ve decided you know with complete accuracy their driving motivations, (potential) favorite Girl Scout cookie type, and (theoretically) who they voted for 2 elections ago. This is the point where you should exercise restraint. But you don’t, not if you’re crushing. No, no, if you’re crushing, this is the part where you start clicking on @replies and reading complete conversations between PEOPLE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW. This is how you learn that they love Garth Brooks or went to the Bahamas last year or have 4 siblings and are pseudo-dating a girl named Carla. This can be a turning point for you because these things, that you’re not even supposed to know yet, will either solidify your commitment to stalk or end your PI days before they ever stand a chance. Should you choose to continue down this slippery slope, you move towards the next apparent signifier.

2. You become a good stalker (and probably not as socially acceptable as you are with stage one).
You’ve decided that their weird infatuations and *surely* innocent connections with all the other people they talk to are not a threat, so now you’re safe to move on to, let’s say, Instagram. Apparently being really curious about what they’re seeing and doing is important to you if you have a crush on someone. Sometimes it gets weird here, because as I discovered (in that completely objective poll I mentioned earlier) good media stalking goes hand in hand with real-life-someone-could-probably-press-charges-against-you stalking. One minute you’re scrolling through scores of sunsets, the next you’re accidentally cooing over a picture you found (probably by perusing their “tagged pictures”) of them giving butterfly kisses to a kitten they saved from the top of an oak tree and the next minute you’re accidentally ‘heart-ing’ a photo of them at a coffee shop that you’re going to just-so-happen to appear at 20 minutes later, and friends, that’s the end for you.

But maybe you’re not convinced yet. Maybe you need more hard-hitting evidence (It’s me. I’m the choir I’m preaching to here). Good thing for me you I always over-do it with the research.

3. You get really intentional.
You’re introverted? You’ve never said one word to AH single friend in their group, ever before? Those days are gone. Now you are so super into ALL the different things ol’ Margret can knit in under 5 minutes and you’ve at least heard of InDesign, so duh you’ll totally make some posters for their friends in that one up-and-coming band. What’s that? Your group is going bowling? Sure, bowling is gross and unsanitary and only minimally entertaining, but if their friends love it, SO. DO. YOU. and you will be there. with bells on, and maybe one of everyone’s favorite kind of cookie in hand too. “Tell me again about that one time he/she got really embarrassed over that one thing…” you’ll request. “Oh how funny”, you’ll say as you make a mental note to never ever suggest sushi or anything with rooftop seating. Can’t be too careful.

The next piece of evidence I’ll submit for review was apparently inevitable and present in 110% of all cases of “crushing”.

4. You get weird.
Word on the street is that no matter how hard you try to be cool, you will end up being an idiot. Examples may include, but are not strictly limited to:

Crush: Did you see that funny thing on Fallon last night?
You: Duh. So hilarious.
sidenote: you didn’t.
Crush: ((yeah.))
You: ((Gasp for air because you’re like wheeze-laughing to prove you really did see it and you thought it was so super funny.))

Crush:You know sometimes I dip my fries in ranch.
You: OMG. Sometimes I go an entire week without showering.
sidenote: you do not at all understand the rules of this game
Crush: ((yikes))
You: ((hippies are coooooooooool shoulder shrug))

Crush: Hey do you want to grab a strawberry smoothie?
You: Of course! They’re my favorite
sidenote: you’re actually really allergic to strawberries
Crush: ((Cool, things in common))
You: ((YAYY THINGS IN COMMON. LACK OF BREATHING CAPABILITIES. DEATH))

5.You find yourself saying “Who am I?” a lot. (and you mean it. you’re legitimately confused about it).
I think once you find this particular phenomenon beginning to happen you’re more than likely also saying “He [she] smells good” and you’re having a hard time looking them in the eyes and you’re completely unable to fathom why your hair suddenly “NEVER works the way it should” (actual quote from research). And the butterflies. Let’s include them here.*** Those things are multiplying like freshman girls at a Leagues show, and somehow you don’t find the feeling of imminent potential vomit enough of a deterrent to alter any of your current life choices. Having a crush is maybe the boldest thing you can do.

My mom says “You know when you smile if you think of them”. Which whatever, because by that same logic I’m crushing on multiple burritos, nail polishes, and dead poets. but yeah, she’s probably right.

Or, maybe none of this is true. And maybe you just “know when you know”. Nah, that’s dumb. Look for the signs, and be sure to over-analyze things that way if you do end up having a crush you can realize it before you commit too many social faux pas-es (uhhh, French plurals, SOS). Or just do you. Either way, good luck and God speed.

*Although I am in fact a vegetarian, it has absolutely nothing to do with the spelling of a fake sandwich meat.
**This is also not true; I am being just the biggest liar in this post.
***Did you know that caterpillars literally DIGEST THEMSELVES to become butterflies? (Did I just get weird on you?) (DO I HAVE A CRUSH ON YOU?!)

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.

Emerson.

I’ve been called several things in my day, some that I particularly appreciate being, hippie, gypsy (not in the derogatory way, I’ve worked with refugees in Macedonia, get out of my face), and wanderer. All of those I suppose carry with them one or two unsavory descriptors, but for the most part, I don’t mind the implications people are making by attributing them to me. The part I particularly appreciate? The connotation in each of these of a care-free spirit, or just freedom in general. I like thinking that I appreciate and enjoy the unknown, that I am inclined to “live in the sunshine” and “drink the wild air”.

But, recently something strange happened. This unknown became a lot more prominent in my life. And I’ve found that when I’m truly free, truly unbound and wild and care-free, I’m uncomfortable. With so much space and time to be wild, I’m tame; with boundless limits, I’m actually pigeon-holing myself. All this time spent being satisfied with the idea of being a free spirit and it seems I’m close to incapable of actually achieving any sort of mental freedom from myself.

So then, I must obviously ask myself (or if you’re a reader who’s worth anything, you must ask me), why? What exactly is it that makes me feel so uncomfortable and unaccepting of this potential greatness I’ve stumbled into? Of course I want to blame society, this culture that’s created a need for perfectly packaged linear plans, things that are explainable, and stability on its terms. But is that fair? They can create a system, sure, but must I operate within it? I’m not sure that the answer is “yes”.  However, I’m not sure that it isn’t either.

All I’m really saying is nothing. And by “nothing” of course I mean I’m saying that I don’t actually know anything. I’m yet again, only making observations without any conclusions or answers while living perplexed by this realization that I don’t have near the propensity for freedom that I have tricked myself into thinking I did.

I think I want it though. The Romantic within me still thinks it would be just charming, to live freely, unaffected by the whims of people around you, to find joy in sunshine and wild air. So now, I suppose I begin to discipline myself, until I have practiced the discomfort and trust from my linear, first-world, middle class brain.

I’ll let you know what survives.

xoxo -j

reasons why being bad at tag Might equal being bad at dating

As previously stated, on a playground is where I spend most of days (ok, ok it’s actually inside a school building, but I wanted to get the Fresh Prince stuck in your heads), and I’m finding more and more that there are lots of life applications to be made there. This week it dawned on me that the game “tag” (specifically freeze tag) and dating are an awful lot alike. This led to some introspective sarcasm, and thus this post was born.

When you embark on a game of tag, someone has to be declared “it”, and as a participant you have to find the perfect mixture of willing to be it, but somehow managing to not actually be it. I am not good at finding this balance. Every time, I’m either adamantly NOT it (which either means, you will be it [because people are rude] or they’ll decide your obstinacy prevents you from being a viable tagging target [because people are rude & you wouldn’t chase them if they tagged you]) OR I’m all “ok, ok I’ll be it” (and then…you have to be it.). I’ll spell out the dating implications here briefly, it means either you’re

or you’re

except not all sweet like this…since he’s actually Prince charming.

 

But let’s say you master the first hurdle and aren’t it, but are instead running from the tagger. Eventually, they’ll tag you, and you’ll wait to be untagged, and then it gets interesting. In my observation, it’s an unspoken rule that once you’re unfrozen, you have to jog backwards in slow motion loudly exclaiming “oh, I am free again, I sure hope I don’t get caught agaaiiinnnn”. This is problematic for me because I have a hard time going backwards. Looking backwards, sure, but intentionally going backwards? Nope, I like to get all Walt Disney Meet the Robinsons on life  and shout “KEEP MOVING FORWARD” at everyone [side note: this will not make you a crowd favorite at hockey games or in an airport. Trust me.] Either you tag me or you don’t. Call me or don’t. I’m not even trying to be about enticing someone…ain’t NObody got time fo dat.

(parenthetical aside)

 

And if I’m playing a game where the goal is to outsmart you and escape, I WILL OUTSMART YOU AND ESCAPE. And I won’t even begin to realize the error of my cunning intricacies until several years post college my leg starts cramping from the precarious position I’ve wedged myself into underneath the swirly slide’s steps.

I’ll be honest, in my playground days, I was the tag player who quit after being tagged more than once, because yeah right, like I’m going to stand here and wait for someone to untag me? Watch this you bunch of dopes, I’M NOT ACTUALLY FROZEN. (apply that to dating as you will)

Besides, whenever I play tag, I generally look like this

and metaphorically, it’s much the same for dating.

 

*this was the hardest post to write because I abhore the word “it”. Guess ‘it’s’ not such a pointless word after all.

#happyhaulidays

I think it’s rather obvious from the post that precedes this one, that I feel quite strongly about books. Today I was catching up on this blog, and found this contest. Obviously, I AM OVERJOYED. Even the thought of winning something like this makes me all giddy.

So I put together a list, and this is it:

Now here’s the fun thing. If I win, someone who has commented on this post will also win the same set of books… which is actually funny since, if you are someone who regularly reads my blog, the chances that I picked out one of those books for you is SUPER HIGH (sharing is caring right?). Sometimes when I play that whole “if i had lots of money game” a thought I always start with is “I would give all of my friends books for Christmas and every holiday it’s acceptable to receive gifts on”. [Hence the extreme state of giddiness].

ALSO. If I win, they will give a charity up to $500 worth of books. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better! I’m pretty sure I would pick my alma mater’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance program. Every year they put on a Christmas program for underprivileged kids in Montgomery, and provide food and fun and presents. I was a part of that program for 4 years in college and not only did it change my life, but I know how hard they work to provide those gifts for those kids. How awesome if they could add books to that!

(read about them here; I’m so proud!)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 1718. 19.

still talkin’ ’bout site babies.

One of my favorite moments happened after the first day doing ministry. And it was a sweet middle school boy, seeing the Lord. In debrief he said, “It was so cool how all the kids were different; they were all really unique. […] A lot of them were shy in the morning when they first came, but then by the end of the day everyone was laughing and having so much fun.”

Like I’ve said before, working camp changes your life. Some days I still get emotional and feel broken over who I know I’ve left behind at the end of my summers. Often I see their faces before I go to sleep every night. I laugh when I recall all the ways they made up to pronounce my name/get my attention, and I cry because I remember every word, about the Lord, that fell from their lips, full of hurt and misunderstanding.

But every part of what I learned about people who aren’t exactly like me and my family and my church was worth it. I miss my site babies, always. I don’t know that they’ll stay with me forever, but they have for 3+ years now, and the lessons I learned from them became a part of my character. That’s why it was so exciting to hear this sweet middle school boy be astounded by how creative our God is when He makes us, and how redeeming the love He has can be.

To Kill a Mockingbird.

After I graduated with my degree in English I started to feel a little ashamed of some of the books I hadn’t read yet. It’s true, it’s probably more the fault of the small private Christian academy I attended in highschool than the fault of my university, but whether or not the Scarlet Letter is more important than Animal Farm is neither here nor there. The point is I faced that shame and  immediately read To Kill A Mockingbird. I can’t believe I went so many years without reading it, especially being an Alabama native; honestly I don’t know how to convey how Southern it made me feel and how adoringly it made me look around at my state and culture.

Now before you get all “Did you even read the book? How can you say that?” on me, I am certain these feelings did not arise from the subject matter, but rather they were the product of the outstanding writing style of Harper Lee. If you know me at all, I’ve never been the Southern Belle or the Proud Redneck kind of girl; sometimes it bothers me when people talk about the twang in my voice, but the way she wrote and the things she described just brought something alive in me. That’s what good authors do, they make you feel.

That skill is certainly the foundation on which my love for Mockingbird stands, but the next layer of attraction for me was just as intriguing. I really love the Southern Gothic; it’s my favorite genre of literature and the quickest way to intrigue a reader without him or her being completely aware of what you’re doing, and on top of that, one of the core issues in the book is that of Social Inequality which is an issue I will forever be interested and intrigued by, as should any human being, I think. She chose a serious issue from our history as a state and nation and people, and she chose an issue that will continue to manifest itself until the end of time, whether as blatently as in Mockingbird or as subtly as it sometimes appears in the form of our selfish pride.

One of the most interesting things to me, however, is the portrayal of innocence and morality. I think most people have a pretty firm grasp of their opinions on each individually, but when they cross paths, things can get a little more challenging. A couple of the most important questions this book strives to make the reader face are those of, “Is it wrong to remove someone’s innocence from them” and “Is letting one who is innocent just ‘be’ a moral crime”. I’m no philosopher, in fact the thought of it makes my head ache, and I am well aware that to answer these questions comprehensively one would have to define “innocence” and “morality” and probably “crime” and “remove” and maybe even a verb or two; but I don’t want to do all that. I just respect that Harper Lee shows the reader the necessity of these questions. It’s a wonderful book, full of wisdom and statements and rhetorical questions that maybe really shouldn’t be rhetorical at all.

At one point in the story Miss Maudie explains to Scout:

 Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy… but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

This is yes, where the book gets its title, and yes, an explanation of a continual metaphor, but more than that, it’s for us. For the reader to ponder, to grapple with, and to decide not only whether or not it’s a sin, but if it’s a sin we’ve commited.

remember when…

i had that one post i did called “One Thing I Love Thursday” and then i was forever forgetting to actually do it? well, surprise it’s back! (yes probably only for one week, but you can hope.)

today’s one thing i love is very materialistic-ish. i’m going to go ahead and blame it on my heritage because that’s the easiest and most plausible excuse for it, but really it’s just because these are the most cute! i really really love Darlingtonia Moccasins. sadly, they are all upwards of $100 and there’s absolutely no way i could ever justify spending that much money on a pair of shoes when there are people all over the world without any shoes at all (unless this was the only pair of shoes i had and i wore them every single day—which i would because they are the most adorable shoes ever [no, jenna, no! someone stop me before i slip all the way down this slippery slope!])

before i completely kill the mood/theme and move this party into the “sad things i don’t love in the world” realm, let me share with you some of my favorites!

a.#1

b.#2

c.#3

aren’t they just so precious? you don’t have to agree with me, but i love them and i love native americans and i want these moccasins.