Thursday, November 7, 2013

On Making New Friends

I actually don't remember much about making new friends as a child. I think it had something to do with who lived closest to you and had a ball or hula hoop or plastic gun they were okay with sharing. As an adult, though, socialization and the making of friends tends to elude me. I'm okay in a group setting I'm comfortable with--such as church. But I don't tend to form the kind of relationships that have me dashing out for coffee and a lengthy conversation very often.

My sister is the friend-maker. So is my husband. I worked at a company for a year once without ever inviting anyone home. He started working at the same company, and two weeks later, we have a stream of guests. It's not that I'm against guests or don't like people. It's just not what I do.

Given my lack of understanding/comfort with friend making and socialization in general, I'm not sure how literal I should take the advice my sister gave me via Facebook messaging yesterday. I've reproduced the exchange so all the socially awkward blog followers can chime in to save me from what may be advice that only works for the friend-makers among us.

ME: I'm at the library and the glass door to the youth room is decorated with a huge thing of paper flames. Above it, it says "Catching Fire." Which all makes sense. But then, there's a TARDIS flying out of the flames.

ALICE: Someone is confused.

ME: I might be missing something. Hang on. I'll get a closer look. . .

ME (a few minutes later): There are two windows. One has the flames and "Catching Fire" and Nov. 16. The other says "Day of the Doctor" and Nov. 25 on it. They merge together so the TARDIS is coming out of the flames. So. . . Library youth coordinator is a HUGE (and possibly awesome) geek?

ALICE: Yeah. That is a geek right there.  You should be friends with them.

(Editor's note - I would never even think something like that. Is it odd that my sister classifies people as "you should be friends with them," or odd that I don't? Is this why I'm not a very good friend-maker?)

ME: I don't even know who it is. Should I just walk up to the desk and be like, "Yes, I have a library card. I would like to check out the awesome geek to be my best friend for the next three weeks."

ALICE: Exactly!

ME: If they really are an awesome geek, that wouldn't sound stalkerish at all. . .they'd be "Sure. Let me just scan myself into the system."

ALICE: Then you know you found your new best friend.

Speaking from experience, though, this approach is more likely to develop into a seriously awkward conversation with a well-meaning library attendant who doesn't understand my request. And then I'll be forced to explain the entire thing about the flames and the TARDIS and the possibly awesome geeky best friend I'm coveting. Which is way more information and words than I'm willing to share with a random librarian.

So, what do you think? Is using your library card to take a best friend out on loan an actual friend-making tactic?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Faithful Friday: This Mundane, Murderous Life

I'm convinced there are two lives, twirled together in a path that is our past, present, and future. First, there is this mundane, murderous life intent on driving you ever onward unto death. You don't get a choice about this life. You contract into it by being born, and the only termination clause--the inevitable termination clause--is death.

And the kicker is this: This life seems wantonly intent on getting you to that end while depriving you of as much wonder, joy, and magic along the way as possible. The cycle of bills due every month; the never-ending chore of washing dishes or laundry; feelings that you're not quite right for the social group, the job, or the dream; feelings of being trapped or downtrodden or grey-washed in a world of diminished hues--these are the calling cards of the mundane.

When those cards aren't enough to deprive you of the joy inherent in being, this murderous life piles on coughs and aches, doctor's visits and hospital stays, tears and groans, deception and heartache, disappointment and fear.

This mundane life piles it on, up to your eyes, until you no longer see the world around you through the dirty dishes, the need to fix dinner, the soccer games, the bills to pay, the constant worry, the fear of future, and the seemingly endless, pointless, unforgiving demands on your time. . . on your thoughts. . . on your wallet. . . on your mind. . . on your heart. . . on your soul.

You lose site of hope.

You begin to crumple under the weight.

Certainly, this is the moment. You'll break. You'll give up. This mundane life will win--you've been driven to the inevitable end.

And it's at this moment that you make a choice--a choice you may make over and over again until you reach that inevitable physical end. It's the choice about the second life.

Whether you contract with this second life is up to you. Some will tell you there's no cost for this second life--they'll say a Savior paid it long, long ago. And while it's true that He paid the admission price for your entrance into this second life, it's not true that there isn't a cost.

This second life wants you to surrender something. It wants you to surrender that other life--the mundane, murderous life intent on driving you toward death.

In return, you don't necessarily get respite from the everyday--there are still the dishes, the bills, the aches, the disappointment. But woven through it all, there are miracles and wonder and love and joy and unbelievable truths that you glimpse as through the gentle shuffle of a curtain in the breeze.

And if, perchance, you get buried to your eyes again in the mundane, this other life--the miraculous, wonderful life--sends you a reminder. Don't believe that's true? Shove aside the dishes, the daily commitments, the worry for tomorrow and look. Look at a butterfly floating on a summer breeze. Look at the patchwork of autumn leaves against the blue sky. Look at the gaze of a baby's eyes.

Look. Do. Feel. Learn. Love. Experience. Break out of the mundane, if only for a moment. Peer through the curtains and into the world that was created for you--into the life you were supposed to live. And try your hardest to live it. Someone created that life for you, and He's waiting to bring you into it. Take his hand. He'll lead the way.

And in the end, when this mundane, murderous life-contract comes to a close, there's an addendum--written in blood--that cracks the everyday shell built up around your soul and sets you, finally, free.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thoughtful Tuesday: I feel empty, which is not the same thing as depressed.

Sometimes I feel empty--

As if someone uncapped me in the night and everything that had flavor ran out, spilling to the floor.

I'm not depressed or exhausted or stressed or anymore broken than I am on a full day. I'm just empty, without anything to bubble to the top, without anything to overflow and frolic. Without.

Without within myself.

But I don't say anything. I don't try to explain the nothing that's inside of me. Because it's nothing. And when I say there's nothing wrong, I couldn't be more accurate. But still, I'm empty, and that's not really right, either.

Explaining it would only make the void more devoid. Others would try to stuff it full of words and help and things that aren't made to go there.

And I know I'm like a beach in the starlight, the tide going out and out and out. And, as on the beach, it won't always be night, and time will fill me up again.

Time will bring the tide back in.

In the waiting, the moon still shines and waxes and wanes. In the waiting, the sea still churns and yearns and crashes and sings. In the waiting, the sand still gleams.

In the waiting, I'm still me.

In the empty, I'm a human sea.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Taking the Flat-Landers to the Top of the World

My brother and his girlfriend just visited for a few days. I asked him what they wanted to do; he said they wanted to hike. They're from Louisiana-- where I'm originally from as well--and you don't get good hiking in the flat, marshy land of the mother country. . . er. . . mother state? I proposed a short, fairly easy hike that's nearby. It's about 3/4 mile to a viewpoint that overlooks a gorge and waterfall. My brother said no, he wanted to do McAfee Knob because he'd seen pictures of it on my Facebook.

I've lived in the mountains going on nine years now, and we do a fair amount of hiking. This summer, Tucker and I hiked a lot with a some friends. Two women and three kids, and we can tackle a trail like nobody's business. We have to slow ourselves down to take in the scenery, because we've finished trails and said, "Wait. We're done? What happened to the hike?"

The five of us hiked McAfee Knob in early August. It's about 3.9 miles up and 3.9 miles down. Surprisingly, it's the down that really gets you. It's the down that made us avid hikers sore and caused three of my toenails to turn black. It's the down that risks your ankles and makes you wonder whether the view was worth all the work. (It is.)

It was a tough hike for the flat-landers--especially my brother's girlfriend--but they made it to the cliffs. They made it to the top of the world.

Here are some highlights from our adventure.

Early in the hike, my brother proved two things:

1. Flat-lander or no, he could still scale a pretty decent rock.

2. Good shoes overcome a lot. My Wal-mart hiking books were clearly not made for climbing. I didn't learn this until I was halfway up this rock face and sliding rapidly back down. This is a picture of me calling "QUICK! Take the picture now, I'm coming down!"

My brother is taunting me with his $130 running shoes that were BOSS on this hike.

 After a few hours of hiking, a couple hundred (or thousand) stone steps, and the sighting of dozens of squirrels, one shrew, and a bee, we made it to the top.

 My brother broke through the tree line and stood on the cliffs. "It's worth it," he called back to his girlfriend. I think the jury's still out on whether she agreed with him.

The flat-landers posed for a picture on one of the most photographed spots in Virginia. Please notice they wore all black. In the woods. During hunting season. "We're like hiking ninjas," my brother said. "We're giving the impression that we just came out here to rob people."

Then my brother took a pic of me. I'm actually a bit afraid of heights, but when I'm on the cliffs, I seem to forget that. I think it's the hiking high. A quick truck up 3.9 miles causes endorphins to do something to your brain. You become . . . not quite invincible, but something more than you were when you took the first step at the trail head. Looking at the pictures and remembering this later, I usually image all types of terrible things that could cause a person to toss over the edge.

We explored the cliffs for a few minutes. Meaning we walked across narrow cliff ledges like the one pictured to the right. It's not quite as daunting as it looks in that picture. The narrowest point of rock outcropping is still around 3-feet wide, I'd guess. Still, not the perfect walking path for someone with my history of stumbling, right?

Here's an odd fact: I can't be trusted to carry laundry down the basement steps without falling, but you strap me into a pair of hiking boots and put me on some rocks, and I tend to do fairly well. My brother responded to this observation with, "In your defense, your steps are terrible."  (We live in a four-story A-frame, counting the basement, and there are a lot of narrow, steep staircases. This may not be a house we can grow old in. . . )

My brother, on the other hand, may or may not have fared as well on the rocks.

We texted this picture to my mother with the caption "When Sam almost fell."  She knows us both too well. Her response was:

"I hope this was staged."

And then, we gathered our bags and our empty water bottles and our nearly full bladders and we hiked down. On the way down, we did battle with a snake.

But that's another tale for another post.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Faithful Friday: Am I wrong for thinking Jesus probably got frustrated?

Yesterday we had one of those family moments when everyone hit the frustration wall, so all little things become more than they are.

The straw-breaking episode included the need to sign up for a school software program with no instructions, three tired people, and a printer. Printers are jerks--I don't even think I need to explain the situation further for everyone to understand.

Everything culminated into a moment of serious frustration and I pretty much said "No. I'm done. Please leave me. Go to bed. My batteries are dead. Plug me in and try again tomorrow."

And then I felt incredibly guilty, because that's not a great way to send your kid to bed or thank your husband for giving up the office so you could have a new workspace and battling the jerk printer on your behalf.

But I started thinking. Do you think Jesus ever got frustrated? I mean, he was dealing with a lot more than a printer and a band program. There were people following him all the time, demanding that he heal them, feed them, teach them. And his helpers weren't always that great. Were there times Jesus looked at the disciples and said, "I'm done. My batteries are dead. Plug me in and try again tomorrow?"

I know there are people that probably gasp at the thought. Jesus was perfect, right? That was the entire point: God sent his Son to be the perfect atonement for our sins, because we could not.

But can you seriously tell me that Jesus never looked at Peter and said, "No, Peter. Just . . . stop. I'm done. We'll try again tomorrow"? Have you read the stories about Peter in the gospels? It had to happen at least once, right?

Except I think Jesus probably handled it a lot better than I ever do. In fact, he probably didn't say, "Peter, just be quiet and let me think a minute" or "You guys just get in this boat and leave me alone for a few minutes, because I've had about all I can handle."

Oh. Wait. Except for that one time he did do that. He probably didn't say that part about having all he can handle. But he did put the disciples in the boat and shoo them off for a while. You should probably check out the original story in Matthew 13 & 14, but here's the gist of what happened:

Jesus heard that his cousin had been killed, so he planned to go off with his close friends--the disciples--and be alone for a while. But word got out, and crowds met him where he was going. Thousands of them. And it was a remote place, and most people didn't bring anything to eat. The disciples asked Jesus to send the crowds away to get food, but Jesus told the disciples to feed them instead.

At this point, the disciples are all shrugging and hands up in the air, because there isn't enough food to feed 5,000 people. There's only this one boy with a few fish and some bread. "It's impossible, Jesus," they say, even though they know he did that thing with the water and wine.

And Jesus has to walk his disciples through another faith-building moment, and they feed the 5,000 people, and then the crowd wants to make Jesus an earthly king. As if he doesn't have enough on his plate, right? He just wanted to be alone for a moment to grieve, and here he is teaching the disciples and feeding the multitudes and avoiding earthly plans because he knows where he is in God's plan.

It had to be frustrating. Even for Jesus.

But he doesn't lash out with hurtful words or slam pots around in the kitchen baskets of bread around on the hillside. He also doesn't sigh deeply, put on a forlorn countenance, and push ahead with the work. Because he recognizes the need for some alone time with God.

Jesus simply puts the disciples in a boat and says he'll join them on the other side of the water. He sends the well-fed crowd away, probably telling them there will be another day. And then, he goes up on the mountain alone. In the quiet of the evening, he prays. He spends time with God. He refills his batteries. He gets ready to try again tomorrow.

So, I think the answer is yes, probably Jesus got frustrated and tired and hit the wall where he was done for the day. That doesn't make him less perfect--yes, he's God. But he was also a man. The fact that he experienced the time of exhaustion and frustration we all experience just means we now know what to do when we're hitting the frustration wall: Find the quiet place and spend some time recharging our batteries with God.

Now I just have to remember that when I'm getting close to the wall . . .

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm Just Not That Into Hugs...and I'm Okay with That

According to numerous scientific studies cited by publications like The New York Times or websites like, there's a certain power to human touch. Researchers tells us that positive touch--like hugs--can strengthen bonds, promote communication, and even increase lifespan.

Over the years, I've heard plenty of people comment on hugs. I've heard stories of people who knew something was missing in their life until they see someone they know and hug them. Then, they realize they hadn't experienced a hug in a few weeks, and it makes a difference. Others say they can't imagine going a single day without a hug.

Despite what science says, I'm just not that into hugs. In fact, I think hugs are like anything else in this world. Hugs are like strawberries or honey or milk--they provide great benefits for the majority of people, but just don't mix well with a few individuals. Some people are lactose intolerant; some people are hug intolerant.

If you're big on the hugs, don't gasp and call me a Grinch or a Scrooge for humbugging your hugging. I do get the point of hugs, and I hug my fair share of people. That doesn't change the fact that--with the exception of my husband and my child--hugs are awkward.

To be honest, touching is awkward for me. I used to think I was broken. I spent years trying to figure out what social issue I had and how I could fix it. Now, I realize that this is just me--I'm not broken any more than any other human being is. I don't like to be touched in the same why my husband doesn't like loud noises. Something about it sets me a little on edge. There's no major trauma or past sorrow to expose here. This really is just me.

I used to read studies that extolled the virtue of positive touch and hugging in all types of social interaction and relationships. Researchers talked about the depth of communication . . . the depth of friendship . . . the depth of interaction that touch can create. I was certain I was missing out on something because of my aversion to touch. Everyone was developing these incredible friendships, and I was lingering on the fringes because I didn't want to go in for a hug, link arms, or let someone play with my hair.

And then I realized that was kind of stupid. I looked at the people who I would label my closest friends. The folks I was most comfortable being myself around--the few people I shared deep, crazy, secret thoughts with. With the exception of my husband, I hardly ever touch most of these people.

One of my closest friends worked with me for years in the same office. I probably share more of my personal life with this woman than anyone else outside my immediate family, and yet over the course of eight years, we might have hugged once. Maybe twice. Maybe not at all. We didn't pat each other on the back or shoulder or do any of the things you're supposed to do according to the research. Instead, we swapped inappropriate IMs, personal stories, and hours of laughter. We still meet up for lunch at least once a month, and there's no need for hugs. We're friends. We like each other. We support each other. Neither of us feels the need to prove that with touch. I'm pretty sure she'd feel as awkward about it as I.

My sister and my mom--who I have, of course, hugged many times--live a thousand miles away. Between phone calls, texts, and Facebook, I talk to both of them more than I did when I lived nearby. I feel like I've grown closer to both of them over the years, no hugs required.

I've got friends that I interact with completely or mostly online. You can accuse me of hiding behind the computer screen because I have these social issues with things like touching, and maybe you're right. But that doesn't mean these aren't genuine friendships with real value. A quick message or a funny picture from one of these friends boosts my day and gives me that emotional bump that research associates with positive touch. Maybe there's such a thing as virtual positive touch?

One of my mostly online friends agreed with me about hugs, and it resulted in some hilarious (or offensive, depending on where you fall on the whole hugs thing) Facebook messaging. Here's a sample:

Him: Hugs are awkward. I'm not a fan either.

Me: This should be a t-shirt. "Not a fan of hugs." It would save me from so much awkwardness.

Him: I'm so going to make that.

Me: You could make an entire line of anti-hug wear. Even those creepy shorts girls wear with words across the butt.

Him: YES!

Me: And the shorts could say: "Hugs: More awkward than these shorts."

And then here's another conversation sparked in part by all the hugging that goes on Sunday mornings in church.

Me: Luckily, most people let me get away with that weird side-hug thing.

Him: I have perfected achieving the awkward side hug from every conceivable angle.

Me: I've learned who the full-frontal huggers are. If they come near me, I'll hug first. That way, I dictate the style.

Him: Yes! Sometimes you have no choice but to strike first.

Me: Yeah. We'll call that "Han Hugging."

We decided that Han Solo is probably not a fan of hugs either, and he'd totally hug first for the same reason.

Before I hurt someone's feelings, let me point out two things. One, those conversations were probably a tiny bit tongue in cheek. Two, they were also true, and I really do feel awkward when hugging people.

That doesn't mean I don't love people or even that I don't want to hug you. In fact, if I hug you or return your hug, then I really wanted to. Because I'm not going to wade through that anxiety unless I want to. And I understand what hugs mean to many, many people, and I'm okay with that. Hugs--and touch--are a type of love language, and if you speak that love language and you're my friend, then I'll speak it with you. But I have an entirely different kind of love language, as do many other people, and I'm also on board with anyone who would rather speak a non-touch kind of language.

If you really aren't that into hugs and I'm hugging you anyway, you can save us both a TON of anxiety by not hugging back. I won't be offended. I'll be happy to realize there are more of us non-huggers around.

I'm completely okay with not hugging, especially if instead we get to share awesome jokes, laughter, and the understanding that being anti-hugs doesn't make us evil meanies.

So, what about you? Where do you fall regarding hugs?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I ran, I bled, but I didn't fall down

In September of this year, I'm going to turn 35, and I decided I want to be able to run a 5k for (or around) my birthday. There are all kinds of reasons to want to do this, not the least of which is the fact that I'm pretty sure the Doctor will never take me in the TARDIS if I'm incapable of running a few hundred yards without collapsing. Because running is the third most common thing companions do, with "being awe-inpsired" and "redirecting the crazy Doctor" being the first two.

I'm not at all physically fit; it's even worse now than when I worked in an office. I'm a freelance writer--I sit at my desk or on the couch with a laptop most of the day. We've also just come out of a crazy-long and cold winter, so my body is more accustomed to curling up under a blanket than jogging. When a friend posted about the Couch-to-5k training app on Facebook, I thought I'd give it a go. I rarely pay for apps, but this one was $2 and totally worth it.

You can play your music through the app and a trainer voice pops up and says things like, "Let's warm up with a brisk walk," or "Walk" or "Annnd, jog!"  There are 27 days of programs that you are supposed to do over up to 9 weeks. You start out walking 1.5 minutes, running 1 minute. Each week, the app takes you up a level until, hopefully, you're running three miles.

So, I took my phone and app out to the local park where there's a little gravel track. My brother-in-law suggested I might be happier running on a nearby hiking trail where there are no people and it's scenic. I took a pass on that suggestion, though. You guys, tree roots are not my friends. I think we can all agree that the biggest downside to me attempting to run is that I might break a leg. Or, at the very least, twist my already screwed-up ankles. I definitely don't need to add tumbling down a steep incline in the woods to my safety issues.

The little gravel track is peaceful and scenic enough and comes with the added benefit of being made of pretty small gravel. So, I feel like when I fall, it'll be a softer landing.

I took the virtual training app for a test drive yesterday. The workout was thirty minutes, and about half way through, I thought I was going to die. Surprisingly, not because I couldn't breath and I felt like a giant was suturing my side (although both of those things were true). I felt like I was going to die because the back of my left heel was on fire. Almost, but not quite, literal fire.

I do a lot of web writing on all kinds of topics, and I've read a ton of articles on this type of thing. They all say things involving the words "pain" and "gain," where pain is the horse you have to put before the cart. So, I kept running. At some point, the heel stopped hurting, and I congratulated myself for "hitting my second wind." You guys, is it super apparent at this point I have no idea what I'm doing?

Anyway, I finished the run/walk, and the trainer girl from the app said "Way to go" or something similar. I drove home, and the first thing I did after walking through the door was take off my shoes. Because one of my feet was feeling super sweaty. I took off my sock, and thought, "Wow. How'd I get so dirty..."

But then I realized that it wasn't brown dirt or mud caked on my sock. It was blood. My heal hadn't hit a second wind, it had died a slow and horrible death. I buried the sock in the garbage, but I revived my heel with peroxide and a hot shower.

Then...I did it all over again today. But in different shoes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thoughtful Tuesday: Through a Christian Looking Glass

I know I'm posting Tuesday's post on Wednesday again. This time, we'll blame it on the fact that my husband's out of town; without my live-in scheduler, everything is late.

I mentioned that we're watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series as a family. For hardcore fans, we're in the first few episodes of Season 3. Chris made a comment one night that got me thinking about the way we view things as Christians. I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially, he said:

"This is definitely NOT Christian, but there's still some Christianity there..."

And other than the fact that all the kids carry crosses (with no Biblical tie-in that I can remember, so it doesn't really count), there's not really some Christianity there. But...there's Christianity in us. We see the world--fictional or real--through a Christian looking glass.

I'm not talking about watching the show while being filled with condemnation because the plot lines are about demons, or there are vampires, or there's a witch, or there's premarital sex. Not that I'm condoning that stuff, and I'm sure there are people who'd be shocked we're watching this with our 12-year-old son. Have you been to middle school, though? Honestly, he's not learning anything new with this show.

I know not everyone will agree with me on this, and that's okay. I also think the route you take with this depends on yourself and your children. I grew up reading and watching fantasy--I loved the adventure, the heroism, the wonder of it all, but I never wanted to join the occult or become a witch. And I've tried to convey that understanding to my son: What takes place in a fictional world were teens battle monsters over a gaping mouth into hell has very little to do with the real world.

So we don't take away lessons like "Vampires are cool, I want to drink some blood" or "It's okay to romp around with demons as long as they've had their soul restored." These can't be real lessons, because those are fictional situations that happen in a fictional place where fictional people make both poor and wise fictional decisions.

Besides, we don't watch these types of shows for the lessons. We watch them because they're fun, they're far off of reality, and they allow us to rest a bit and forget the tedium of the day. And also, because there are some super funny bits in there, and we like to laugh.

After saying all that, I think my husband's right. The first time I watched this series was in my early 20s, and looking back, I realize I was neither a Christian nor viewing through a Christian looking glass. This time around, I have seen the Christianity in it. I'm not saying Joss Whedon hid Biblical principles in Buffy; I don't know Whedon's stance on Jesus, but the Internet seems to think it's on the negative side. What I'm saying is that God can use any format for his message--some people might remember that time he used a donkey.

The essential thing to remember is that we see God's message when we're looking through the lens of Jesus. And sometimes, the message is personal--it's between us and God. Sometimes, it's corporate--everyone sees or hears.

Here are some of the messages I've personally received while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my Jesus glasses on.

1.  Sometimes, doing the right thing sucks pretty hard, but that doesn't let you off the hook. Early on in my Christianity, I bought into the idea that eventually I was going to reach this place of "experience" where following Jesus would get a lot easier. I was looking at all the metaphors a bit too literally. While you can do enough "spiritual running" that your prayer and obedience and Bible study muscles work better, following Jesus can be really, really hard sometimes. Submission to Christ does come with that wonderful "peace that passes all understanding," but it also comes with some difficult choices.

With Buffy, obedience to her "Slayer calling" comes with some difficult choices. Ultimately, she has to choose that over Friday's date-night, over studying for classes, over spending time with friends, over relationships with family...even over the lives of people she loves. It's not exactly the same thing, I know, but Jesus calls us to choose him over all of those things too.

2. It's dangerous to go alone. The infamous tagline from Zelda is pertinent in both the Buffyverse and real life. How many times does Buffy set off alone to fight the monsters because she wants to protect her friends, because it's not their fight, or because "she's the one and only Slayer?" That usually goes bad for her, and someone else shows up to offer a bit of help. And in the end, she's not even the only Slayer.

It's dangerous to go alone in the real world, too. Luckily, God never meant for us to do that. He's provided his Spirit to dwell with us: a little bit of our own "slayer" powers, direct from God, meant to shine light into the darkness of our world. But that's not all. God also gives us friends and family and people we just bump into on the street. He gives us our own Willows and Xanders and Watchers, and through them he speaks advice, admonition, and love. Sometimes, he even sends them to help save us when we're trying to fight the monsters alone.

3. Forgiveness is available to everyone. I'm pretty sure there's not a single character in the Buffyverse that doesn't, at some point, do something at least a little bit terrible. Even the good guys make horrible decisions; even the good guys become the bad guys on occasion. But it's almost a running theme that even the bad guys can be forgiven. Was there ever a guy more wicked than Angel? Definitely not in the first few seasons of Buffy. What about Spike, the wise-cracking British vampire? Terrible things, and even so, they are eventually redeemed. Not everyone is redeemed, of course. There are evil things that stay evil. Because redemption requires you to want it.

Again, it's not at all the same thing--because these fictional situations involve vampires and curses and souls in a glass orb. These aren't things that translate to real life. But forgiveness does.

In real life, forgiveness is available to everyone. Even the bad guys can be forgiven. In fact, if you read the Gospel...Especially the bad guys can be forgiven.

And that's the part that I see most clearly when I watch Buffy through my Jesus glasses. Because it reminds me that I'm not perfect. I've got my own monsters. Sometimes, I'm the villain of the story, even if the story is small and only has a single character. But I'm not alone. And I'm not powerless. And I'm not hopelessly lost in the dark.

Because God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control. God has given me a slayer spirit--not to fight fictional monsters, but to allow his light to shine on, and defeat, the real demons that lurk in this dark world.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ten Activities That Are Harder Without My Husband

This is Monday Listicles post. Because on Monday's it's hard to come up with blog posts, y'all. And also, all my creative energy is being siphoned by some other projects right now. A picture of the proof of that creative energy to the left. There are 50-some sticky notes taped to my wall. Taped, because sticky notes aren't nearly as sticky as they'd like you to think...

Anyway, in honor of Chris being gone for five days (which is not the longest I've ever been away from him, but it is the longest he's ever been away while I was home) I thought I'd share ten things that are a lot harder to accomplish without my husband around.

1. Drink a soda. We don't regularly keep soda at home, and I try to drink mostly water and hot tea. But I don't drink coffee, and sometimes you have a headache that just screams for liquid caffeine. Those times, I buy a bottle of soda from the local convenience store. The problem is, the nearest Pepsi-bottling plant must have some glitch with the machine that seals the bottle caps to that plastic ring. Normally, you give it a quick twist and it snaps free; sometimes I get a cap that's welded together. Chris can normally open them. When he's not around, I've got to break into my soda with a steak knife and a pair of kitchen scissors. You guys, a glass of soda should never entail broken skin, band aids, and a stream of carbonation with the force of a Super Soaker.

2. Laundry. The laundry room is in the basement, which creates all sorts of issues for me when Chris is gone. First, there may or may not be goblins/Silence in the basement. Second, there are two sets of stairs between the bedrooms and the laundry area, which means double the chance I'll fall because I'm carrying a basket and any notion of a center of gravity in my body is erased. Third, I'm short enough that I have to hang over the washer to get socks out of the bottom of the basket. Earlier this morning, I almost fell in. My washer almost ate me. Do you think the goblins would shut the door and turn the cycle on if I tumbled all the way inside?

3. Take out the garbage. This one doesn't need an explanation. I don't normally touch garbage. It just sort of handles itself. Except when Chris is away.

4. Anything involving cat litter. See number three.

5. Sleep. As much as I complain about the fact that Chris snores and thrashes about in the bed (one time, he gave me a bloody lip), I sleep better when he's in the house. I've been sleeping with the hall light on while he's gone. I also keep my glasses on the pillow next to me. Because there's nothing as terrifying as waking up to a man holding a gun only to put your glasses on and realize it's the treadmill and gun rack merging together in your degenerative sight.

6. Cook. Half of my kitchen is out of my reach. It's like I'm a toddler in a room full of stashed cookie jars. I could drag a chair or stool over, but that's a lot of work, you guys. It's so much easier when I can ask Chris to fetch me down a bowl or cup.

7. Get ready for bed. On a normal night, I'm up later than everyone else, and when I'm ready to sleep, I turn off my computer and a few lights, brush my teeth, and fall into bed. Without Chris, I get in and out of bed a dozen times. Mostly to check the door locks, which I've already checked but can't remember whether I've checked. Or which I remember checking, but I can't remember when I checked if I was 100% certain the deadbolt was turned. Also, to recheck that I've blown out the candles that I didn't even light that day, because that was yesterday. And then I lie awake wondering if I'd left the candles burning from yesterday until they went out on their own, and wasn't it a miracle the house was still standing? (And probably, Chris should just skip this one if he's reading my blog.)

8. Use the entertainment center. My husband plays musical chairs with his...musical system. There's always a new piece of equipment in the rack or there's a new set up. And there are too many remotes, and sometimes they're old and crazy looking. Luckily, I've got a 12-year-old boy who comes home in the afternoon from school. I think boys come with some sort of gene that integrates them with remote controls.

9. Turn off or on the ceiling fan. There are three ceiling fan and light combos in our house. I can reach the strings for the one in the office, but not the living room or bedroom. Chris always leaves them set to fan on, light off. Which is a pain when it's dark and I'm trying to climb on the coffee table or bed to change the setting. Especially when there's a tangle of blankets and cat on the bed. There was a near miss last night that almost involved a broken leg, a pissed-off cat, and a ceiling fan no longer in it's place.

10. Remembering to cook dinner. Since Chris comes home everyday around dinner time, and he's usually vocal about requiring some sort of food, I tend to remember to cook. When it's just me and Tucker, it's easier to forget unless Tucker's in one of his "eat the entire house" stages. Otherwise, he'd possibly go days without eating and never say a word. I've had to make it a point to have dinner at a normal time anyway.

So...despite the fact that my husband is, at times, the most aggravating person I've ever met--I definitely miss him when he's gone. And not just because he makes things a lot easier when he's around.

What about you? What things do you notice when your significant other's gone?

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Monday Listicles, too. This is the 100th list, and they're having a free-for-all Monday party. '

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Commentary While Introducing Buffy to my Family

Post warning: This post is heavy on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer references. Feel free to skip it if you aren't a fan. Other posts will resume shortly. Or on Monday. Maybe.

My sister let us borrow her entire collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs, so we've been watching them the past few weeks. Chris and Tucker had never seen the show, so it's been fun introducing them to the characters. Even more fun is hearing their commentary.

Much of the first season, most of Chris's commentary revolved around two themes:
  • This makeup/plot line/villain is a bit cheesy or cartoony.
  • They really need to kill off Cordelia.
Tucker was a bit more forgiving regarding the cheese-factor, although he said things like, "This is probably going to be like Merlin or Doctor Who. They'll get more money and the monsters will be better."

Of course, season two proves Tucker right, because can you get a better monster than Angelus? And even Cordelia is less "makes people want to get stabby" as time goes on. Chris also says that Xander is getting more likeable.

But my favorite commentary from Chris centers around Willow. Because so far, she's his favorite female character and is second only to Xander. Give him bombshell cheerleader, sexy slayer, and awkward dork, and who does he enjoy the most? You guys, I love this man.

Here's a smattering of Willow-related commentary from my husband after one and a half seasons of Buffy:
  • Willow is asleep on a computer keyboard when Giles wakes her and she says something weird about tadpoles. Because she has frog issues. Chris says, "Oh, you do that! You're a lot like Willow." Once, I was already asleep when Chris came to bed. He was trying to arrange the blankets or something and I told him, "Stop talking and put back on your green pants!" Because apparently I have dreams about undressed leprechauns.
  • Willow is talking about talking to a boy and is worried that things will get awkward and silent. Chris says, "You probably worry about that, too, don't you?" I say, "Well, I'm not a sixteen year old girl who's trying to talk to boys." Chris stares at me. I admit, "Yes, sometimes."
  • Willow has an extremely awkward conversation with...anyone. This isn't really a one-time occurrence. Chris says, "That's just like you. That's how you talk to people, isn't it?" And I have to admit, sometimes it is.
I wonder...Does my husband like Willow the best because she reminds him of me? Or does my husband have a penchant for awkward, dorky girls on the shortish side, and that's why he likes me? Either way, it doesn't matter. I do wonder if he's going to keep making Willow comparisons once things get complicated for innocent little Willow...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Faithful Friday: Apathy, It's What's for Dinner

I'm really TGIFing and glad this week is almost over. Technically, it's 30 minutes into Saturday morning as I write this, but it still feels like Friday to me. Or possibly Thursday. All the days have smooshed together this week, which is evidenced by the fact that I wrote and posted the Thoughtful Tuesday post on a Wednesday without realizing it.

Perhaps it's the lingering mist in the mountain, the failure of spring to have sprung, or the contagious spirit of end-of-school burn out, but apathy has been par for the course this week. Except for a bright spot here and there throughout the past few days, I've had a hard time really caring about anything. I've been working with muddled thoughts, sluggishly dragging myself through obligations, and fighting the urge to nap every other hour.

I posted this to Twitter last night: "Apathy. It's what's for dinner. Because I don't care enough about any one food right now to make a choice." I forgot that my sister just started following my Twitter account, and she texted me to see if anything was wrong. It seemed like way too much work at that point to explain it all. I copped out with a vague, "It's just been one of those weeks." Although I did assure her it was pork chops for dinner. Because I have a kid, you guys. You can't go feeding your kid apathy, even when you have a hard time caring about things like dinner.

But then I totally burned the pork chops to an inedible crisp when the grill caught fire. That's going to have to be another post, though. One I'll save for when I'm feeling less apathetic and more hilarious.

Anyway, I've been pondering these feelings of apathy for a couple of days. Why don't I feel like writing, blogging, praying, speaking with others, and doing lots of stuff that normally brings me peace or excitement or understanding? I sort of wanted to blame it on something easy, like hormones. Biology would totally get me off the hook for any responsibility. But I knew that wasn't quite it.

Then, this evening, I read a post from my new blog friend Jonathan over at Turning the Pedals. In it, he talked about how so many people who blog are spending so much time on optimizing their content and integrating tips and tricks to ensure a readership or visits or stats. He advocated a return to what he called "unblogging," which is actually "blogging" at its most basic: just writing because you need to get it down, because you love it, because you want to share something with whoever happens by.

While there's nothing inherently wrong with all those things many professional bloggers do, it does something to blogging. It changes it a bit.

And I realized that I was doing that same thing in many areas of my life. I so was busy concentrating on the bells and whistles, the photograph measurements and font choices, the statistics and the top tips...that I forgot about the activity under it all. I was apathetic about writing blog posts because I was starting to wonder if I should be writing on certain topics to address "my niche." And I was daunted by the fact that I didn't really know what that was. But the apathy wasn't just related to blogging. I could feel it everywhere.

No where was it more tangible than in my faith. I've been slightly apathetic for a few weeks about church. I couldn't put my finger on it, but now I know why. I've been very involved lately with administrative and other such elements within our church. Time spent in and around the church was time spent working with rules and numbers--statistics and top tips. Again, there's nothing wrong with rules and statistics, even in church. But when those thoughts begin to take over the purpose of church, when they begin to usurp the role of worship in one's life...apathy is probably one of the milder symptoms that shows up.

I also just finished reading a book about praying the daily office. If you're unfamiliar with that term, it refers to setting aside a certain amount of time each day for prayer and scripture reading and reciting. Commonly, it might be done in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening. I'd read the book because I'd like to strengthen my prayer life. Guess what? All that delving into rules and regulations and organization around prayer pushed me to apathy about prayer. Again, there's nothing wrong with rules and organization, and it was clear that such an approach toward prayer was working for the author and many others. But it wasn't working for me.

I think what I've learned here is mostly something I already knew. I'm an organic rather than an organized person. I write best when I'm writing what I feel at the moment. Even if it's just a humorous blog about goblin conversations. I worship best when I'm worshiping in the moment--when I'm not worried about the structure or the rules or how many people are joining in. I pray best when I pray in the moment, when I come to God with whatever's on my heart, whatever's bothering me, whatever's real for me right that second.

Jonathan said he wanted to start a new trend on the Internet called "unblogging." He said:

"It's not going to be anything big, grand, or visionary. It's going to be about not doing things - not trying too hard, not trying to fit in, not conforming, not doing what people say."

I've just "met" Jonathan (in the blogger sense of the word "met), so I hope he doesn't mind me stealing his words. But I'm going to start a new trend in my life. It's not going to be about trying to do anything big or visionary. As soon as I start trying anything like that, I start feeling apathetic. 

Instead, I'm just going to work really hard on the little things. On writing a blog post that makes me happy. On telling the stories that are trying to climb out of my fingers. On not burning the pork chops so we can have a yummy dinner instead of beans and hotdogs. On communicating with God rather than scheduling route prayers. On fellowship instead of rules. 

And this is what I believe: I do the little things, and God will handle the big things. He doesn't fall prey to apathy. He can handle being visionary; he'll let me know if he has a vision he wants to share with me. In the meantime, it's usually the little things that make us happy. It's the little things that ward off apathy. It's the little things that often matter in the big picture, anyway.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Don't Know About Princesses...and Other Girly Things

I'm working on a ghostwriting project that involves a small princess, and although I've read innumerable fantasy books--many that involved princesses--I realized that I don't have much in the way of little-girl-princess knowledge. That's not surprising, since I don't have much in the way of girl knowledge in general.

When I flip through women's magazines, most of the articles make little sense to me. A huge majority of the advertisements are simply color on paper--I have no interest in the products. And I wonder, do women really like these things? I know some women who seem to, and a few women who don't at all.

Here are some "girly" things I have little to no interest in.

I've gone through spurts of attempting to care about makeup, but they only last a month or so. Then all that expensive stuff dries up and crumbles away in a drawer. The only makeup I wear on occasion is a bit of blush and eyeshadow when I'd like to appear less walking-dead than normal. I also wear lip gloss a lot, but that's more to avoid the discomfort of dry lips.

Here's what I don't like about makeup: It takes too much time to put on. I like to limit my dress time to ten minutes or so. I don't have time to get artistic with my face. Also, I have naturally oily skin, so if I don't take measures to remove the makeup later, I break out something fierce. It all adds up to a lot of expense and time I'd rather spend on things like books.

Blow Dryers
I only own a blow dryer because my husband had one when we met. He doesn't use it either. In fact, the only action the blow dryer's seen in the past five years was that time I almost caught the house on fire trying to dry out the carpet after the paint-fall debacle

I've never actually figured out how to use a blow dryer to effectively dry my hair. Probably because after thirty seconds, I decide it's taking too long and I just brush out the wet mass and let it air dry.

I've never been anywhere to get a massage, but I know it involves removing articles of clothing and people touching you. So, no thanks. I am not a tactile person. I'm not a huge hugger, although I've adapted well to a small, Southern-church environment. I'm okay with my husband cuddling on me, but sometimes I'm not. The thing I hated most about being pregnant was that everyone who was slightly close to me felt like they could touch my belly.

Massages are supposed to work out your tension and leave you feeling less stressed, right? That's why I'll take a pass. Just talking to some stranger about my tension would make me stressed; having them touch me would put knots in all my muscles.

This is like a massage with added art for your hands and feet. No thanks. Although, one girly thing I do like is painted toe nails. I can do that myself without a stranger groping my toes. And for a lot less money, too. 

photo courtesy of ppacificvancouver
I say "Just say no to spas."  Okay, I've never actually been near a spa, but from what people tell me, spa days are like massages on steroids. In fact, spa days often involve massages and lots of other things that would make me uncomfortable.

I can have my own spa day at home with a bottle of bubble bath and a good book. I understand there's a lot more than a hot bath that goes on in a spa, but I'll pass all the same.

What about you? Are there some girly (or guy) things everyone else seems to love, but that you just don't get?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thoughtful Tuesday: Dangerous Tribe Talk

I've been noticing a trend with writers and bloggers online. Lots of people are talking about finding their tribe. In an interview over at Copyblogger, author Jeff Goins says, "I write nonfiction books and share what I learn with my tribe." He's referring to a core group of stalwart fans as his tribe.

Lissa Rankin shares another definition of tribe. She refers to that group of people where you are totally comfortable--where everything clicks and you are understood. Lissa writes, "I tried to find my tribe, but no matter what I tried, I always felt like the odd duck swimming with swans, who all seemed to enjoy a sense of belonging I never quite felt." She also gives her tips for finding your tribe.

As a writer, I think there's a cross between these two definitions. There are those fans who just get you--your "people," as Jenny Lawson would say. Professionals in the book marketing sphere probably call this your "target audience." Which is a lot less personal. And also, sounds much safer.

Because let's face it: based on my research, finding your tribe is fraught with danger.

What if you finally locate your tribe, and the village has been destroyed by famine, pestilence or war. What if you're too late? I'm often late with trends and fads--what if the same thing happens here? In the writing world, that would be like working for a year on a novel, then having an agent or an editor say "that genre is burned out/so last year/no longer selling." That would be heartbreaking.

What if you find your tribe and they hate each other? Who wants to be responsible for causing a civil war? I'm not talking Team Jacob verses Team Edward here. Be honest; that was less a civil war and more a genius marketing ploy. But what if you want to be able to work in two genres, discuss multiple ideas, or grow over time? Are you limited by your tribe, or can you have more than one?

Finally, what if your tribe steals your heart? You know, like in Indiana Jones. Or, what if they all turn out to be cannibals? Does anyone else remember that movie where the natives tried to make soup out of Richard Chamberlain and his lady friend? These are the risks you face when you go hunting for a tribe.

Sometimes, I feel like it's better to stay at home and hide behind the notebook. But then I realize that'll only fill so many pages, so I put on the proverbial safari hat and venture forth. Who wants to come along with me? Let's create a tribe. Only admission requirements: Swear not to eat people or steal body parts.

Tweetable: It's dangerous to go alone--take a tribe via @sestasik [Tweet this!]

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reasons to Take a Bath

Some chart humor I created for you. Because who doesn't like humorous and true graphs?

In the meantime, if you are looking for actual words in a post, you can check out my post for the Greater Treasures book tour. Ask author Karina Fabian a question in the comments and be entered to win an ecopy of her dragon-detective story!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Faithful Friday: The Rogue Tulip

There is a tulip that comes up every  year in a field a few miles from our house. It stands alone in the grass--no other petaled friend to be seen. Two years ago, I wrote this about the rogue flower:

Every morning and evening for the past week, I’ve driven the same road.  And each time, as I round a certain curve with a certain field off to the side, I glimpse the dancing head of a red spring flower on the hill.  A tulip – the kind that belongs in someone’s garden.  Not a wildflower among its brethren, but a bright red beauty reigning lone amid the grasses.  I have no idea how it came to grow there, but standing amid the wild green on the hill, it is more beautiful than a thousand of its sisters lined up in a garden bed.   

This morning, I saw that tulip again. I was struck at once with how amazing it seems that the tulip has made an appearance again. Have you ever tried to grow a tulip? It might be that my thumbs are all shades but green, but I've killed a dozen tulips without ever seeing a bud...

I was also struck by the majestic beauty of this lone tulip in the grass. This rogue tulip, this lonely tulip, this tourist tulip in a place where she doesn't quite belong. She doesn't seem to mind, though, and she stretches her petals to the sun with abandon.

Those thoughts reminded me of a post I made a year or so ago on what is now my book blog. I thought the theme went well with the rogue, tourist tulip:  

A few years ago, Chris's aunt treated us to a weekend in New York. On the way to some attraction, we stopped at a street vendor and bought hot dogs. This was such a "New York" moment, I had to get a picture of the kids eating hotdogs on the street. When Chris saw them posing, hot dogs slightly above open mouths, he said, "Stop that! You look like tourists!"

"But, we are tourists," I responded.

"Right, but try not to look like one. That makes you a target."

Lesson: Looking like you don't belong makes you a target. Although I'm not sure how dangerous it is to look like a tourist in a city filled with thousands of other tourists, I think middle school and high school confirms for many that "not belonging" = "target".

And so we learn, early on, to conform to the world. To wear the right clothes and say the right thing and fit in wherever we can. At some point, we stop looking at the awesome sights spread before us daily, we stop delighting in the wonder of the world, and we live as if we are of the world. What does our home, our yard, our daily coming and going have to do with wonder and adventure? 

But the truth is, we aren't part of the world. We don't belong. We are tourists.

"If you find in yourselves a desire which no earthly thing can satisfy, the logical conclusion must be that you are made for another world."  - C. S. Lewis

So instead of hiding ourselves in the world, instead of putting on the garb of the everyday and everyman, maybe we should be living like a tourist. Adventure in the moment, taking in the glorious attraction that has been created all around us. Really looking at what God has wrought and hearing the messages he writes in his creation. Messages for us.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2 ESV

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I fought the wall, and the wall won.

According to expert bloggers, you're supposed to review your page traffic to get clues on what readers want to see.

Two of my posts that garnered the most interest were the one about Buff Jesus and the one where I almost killed myself on the murder deck. Taken together, I can't help but think that readers want to see me meet Jesus face to face sooner rather than later. I can't decide whether that's supportive or creepy...

The murder deck incident garnered a lot of support from those nearest and dearest. My husband, upon reading it, called into the kitchen, "Oh! I love this story about you falling off the deck." He doesn't usually show that much enthusiasm for blog posts. My sister wanted to know, "Why haven't I heard this story before?" As if I was holding back some bit of vital information to her happiness.

Only my new Internet best friend, Jess from No Pithy Phrase, commented on the post without making mention of my almost demise. Since Jess is in the minority on this one, I thought I'd make my husband and sister happy by sharing another story that involves bodily injury and almost-paralysis.

This is the story about the time I fought the wall:

We live in an A-frame house, and low, slanted walls are ripe with the possibility for injuries. There's a permanent soft spot on my head from slamming into sheet rock, but those are minor collisions compared to the end-table-paint-brush debacle.

I was painting Tucker's room last summer while he was visiting relatives in Louisiana and Chris was at work. Two of the walls in the room are angled, which made the job more difficult. Standing on a bar stool, I was too high up to be efficient. I found a sturdy old end table in the closet that was a perfect height, poured a bit of paint in a plastic container, and went to work on edging.

The end table provided the perfect solution as long as I stood in the exact center. After half an hour, and numerous trips up and down to fill up my paint container, I made the near-fatal mistake. I stepped back slightly to reach an odd angle.

My entire world became the violent sound of wood ripping. The slow tumble of "I'm a complete idiot and am about to die" began. As I fell backwards, I watched a perfect arc of paint hover in the air above me. The end table tipped, and I came crashing down right on top. I imagine it looked like one of those action movies where Dwayne Johnson throws his enemy down across a beam or a fence or a rock in the desert. Except with more leg flailing and wild hair and flashing (because my shirt rode up a tremendous amount during the debacle).

I hit the end table, bent backward, then rolled onto the carpeted floor. After the cracking of what I
hoped was wood and not bone, the room was silent. I struggled for breath and began to sob, certain I was horribly injured and thinking I might die in the room with paint all over the carpet and my chest hanging out. And you guys, Chris would be so pissed about the carpet, right?

My phone was across the room. Still sobbing, I drug myself across the room with my elbows. The room was littered with furniture in all the wrong places, and I felt like I was a crippled snake in a maze. Before I reached the phone, I felt something wet on my leg. I thought, "Thank God, I can feel my legs! Not paralyzed!" Then I thought, "Oh my God, I'm bleeding." And finally, "Blood is not cold...agh. I'm dragging paint all over the carpet!"

After about twenty minutes of laying, and sobbing, and slithering, I pushed myself up to inspect my injuries. My left thigh was already completely covered in blue. Three angry red marks lined my left side and back. I could only turn in one direction without cringing, but I was still whole and I felt like I was more "terribly, permanently bruised" rather than "suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung."

I turned to the carpet. You guys, do you know how much paint you can fit in a very small plastic dish? I thought maybe a cup, but apparently the correct answer is "infinity." At this point, I was still a bit dazed, so I did what anyone would do to remove wet paint from carpet: I made it wetter.

I filled up a pitcher of water and slowly poured it over the paint. Perhaps I thought I could dilute the paint so it wouldn't be noticeable? It turns out, however, this is a genius way to deal with the problem. Because wet paint sort of floats. For the next hour, I poured a little water on each area, sponged up the floating paint, poured more water, and repeated the process. By the time I was done, half the floor was sopping wet, but the paint was gone. Or possibly, diluted so as to be unnoticeable.

Then I did what anyone else would do. I tried to blow dry the carpet. This took way too long, and the hair dryer got dangerously hot, and I figured burning the house down was not the right way to hide the fact that I'd made a terrible mess. I opted for air drying.

I threw the murderous end table out the front door, got my trusty bar stool, and finished the paint job. Because at that point, I talked myself into the fact that end tables and horses had one thing in common: You get back up.

By the time Chris got home, the room looked great and I could barely get off the sofa. The bruise on my back lasted for three months.

I fought the wall, and the wall won that battle. But since the room is painted, there are no paint stains on the carpet, and I'm not paralyzed, I think we can conclude that I won the war.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Socially Awkward, but Not a Snob. Maybe.

Chris tells me that I come across as a snob. I remember years ago, my sister ran into people I went to high school with. "You're her sister?" they said, "But you're so friendly and different. She was kind of snobby."

A few years ago, we invited a couple and their children for dinner. They went to our church; we'd been attending a year or more. It was a nice dinner, and the man sat at my bar to make small talk while I cleared things away. I thought that was a bit odd--that the man sat and talked to me while his wife sat with Chris in the living space. He was also quite chatty, asking me a number of questions--almost insistent, in a charming way, that we have a real conversation--and the entire thing made me slightly uncomfortable.

After they left, Chris said, "That was fun. We should have them over again."

"Yes, it was nice," I said. Chris heard the unspoken "but" and lifted an eyebrow my direction. "He was kind of odd, though. What was that about?"

After I explained myself, Chris grinned. "That might be my fault."

It turns out Chris had gone fishing with this gentleman a few days before we had dinner. At some point, the man had asked, "So, what's up with your wife?"

Apparently, he'd tried to engage me in conversation at church several times and I "ran away." He said, "She'll say hi, but that's about it." Chris explained that I wasn't a snob, but that I was socially awkward and shy until I got to know you. He said that someone else had to do the work, to ask the questions, to draw me out, and then--after a while--I'd be comfortable enough to be the one who started the conversation.

"Why would you say that?" I asked.

"Would you rather I let people think you're a snob?"

Sigh. I don't really want people to think I'm a snob. But sometimes, I feel like it might be easier that way.