Things I Have Noticed

1. Elderly ladies put everything in ziploc bags.
2. Coffee, while amazing, will always, without exception, keep me up all night. Especially nonfat quad peppermint mochas.
3. Too much television keeps a writer from writing.
4. The holiday season keeps a writer from writing.
5. Presidential races are alternately like cheese, coffee, and morphine.
6. Cedar makes me very ill.
7. Britney Spears is ubiquitous.
8. It is very hard to get to the gym.
9. There are a lot of movies about teachers who change the world through the power of books.
10. Librarians are underrated.


In honor of Nano, an excerpt

Here is an excerpt from my last year's Nano Novel, just for fun.

(I am feeling compelled to add all sorts of disclaimers at this point, but I'm going to resist. It is what it is.)

Here we go:


Chapter 1 excerpt

The cavernous underground room was deathly silent. Over three hundred people stood in rows, uniform in dress and in emotion. Each was clad in a white, gauzelike tunic and loose-fitting white pants, each person barefoot, each without any distinguishing adornment in their hair or on their bodies. Each woman had their hair fashioned into a single braid, and each man had been shaved bald. Each member stood facing the front of the room, solemnly and with a mixture of monastic calm and stoic determination. No one moved; no one dared breathe. A woman near the back of the room began to cry softly and was quickly ushered out. No one among the rows acknowledged the incident. Their training had been thorough, and only the weak dared show emotion or stand out during a meeting. There were no individuals here, only a collective Body.

At the edges of the rows, men and women in black tunics moved silently, carrying trays with paper cups. The women in black carried trays with cups containing water, pausing at each row and handing out cups to be passed down to each member of the row. The men in black passed out smaller cups, each containing one white capsule. The congregants in white also passed these down the rows, faithfully, bravely. Each person had prepared for this moment, this communion, whether consciously or unconsciously, for many months or years.

When the elements were distributed to every member of the Body, the people in black formed single file lines along the side walls of the room and slowly made their way to the front. They then turned and filed across the front, facing the crowd. The tall man in the center of the black-clad ushers spoke:

"Brothers and sisters, we have waited for this beautiful Day since we embarked on our journey together many years ago. As our numbers have increased, our energies and our psyches have been knit together as one. Now is the time of fulfillment and ultimate enlightenment. We have attained greatness on earth; now we will attain the ultimate achievement, the prize. It is time to journey to the next level. Our travel will be swift. In the shedding of our earthly shell, we will achieve a new freedom and a new level of enlightenment. We will truly become melded into one Great Body, and our collective energy will empower our great leader and strengthen him in his continued work here on earth. Let us therefore cast off the bonds of this plane, and partake together in the final Communion of transcendence."

The tall man lifted up his small paper cup containing the capsule. The crowd in white followed suit. As one, they lowered the cup to their lips and partook, following with the cup of water to wash it down. The tall man knelt down on the floor, and the throng followed, each with eyes closed, heads dipped in silence, and there they waited.

In the middle of the sea of white tunics, a young woman also knelt, eyes closed, heart pounding. She did not know why, but she felt that this was not right. She trusted her leaders -- her Leader -- implicitly; still, this seemed too...something. Her gut screamed, "NO!" She had made a split second decision in raising the cup to her lips: she did not allowed the capsule to enter her mouth, but instead, tipped her head back with her lips closed. When the group knelt, she had quietly spilled the capsule out onto the floor, flicking it away as far as she dared without drawing attention.

"What am I doing?" Her breath caught as she realized the gravity of her rebellion. Independent thought was considered the worst of all sins. She had been taught that it caused a rift in the collective energy. She was probably going to be the sole cause of the failure of this journey to the next plane; she knew she was hindering the process for the group.

She didn't dare move, but listened carefully to the breathing of those around her. She wasn't sure what her next steps would be; at the very least, she was buying time. She had discovered early in her tenure here that she did not have the option of leaving. One of her roommates had tried and was "taken care of." A revelation flashed through her like lightning, providing a brief glimpse at a new idea: she was miserable at the Institute, always had been, and she may actually get to leave now. This revelation was quickly replaced with another: where would she go? Surely they would find her as soon as she reached her home.

Towards the front of the room, she began to hear retching. Behind her, someone gasped. She held her breath. Suddenly, the room was filled with a cacophony of death: sounds of labored breathing, and many beginning to convulse and cry out as their hearts began to freeze within them. The white-clad congregants began to drop like common street rats, foaming at the mouth, seizing, bleeding from their nostrils. She could hear it. She was terrified. She dared not open her eyes.

She forced her breathing to become audible now, mimicking that of the people around her. She rocked back and forth and tried her best to blend in with the movement of the room -- she had to pretend she was dying. Her heart was pounding; it was not hard to feign the fear and adrenaline rush. The man on her right side fell into her violently, knocking her sideways to the floor, and she used him to hide as much of her as she could as she deftly maneuvered her way to a prone position on the floor. A long lost memory flashed into her head - she remembered playing "Charlie's Angels" as a kid, and having to pretend that she had been chloroformed, and she wondered why this random memory would surface now. Her past had been erased from her mind in her training here. She wondered if the others were experiencing their former lives flashing before them. She focused on the childhood memory as she lay pinned under the man. She had to think. "Natalie." That was her name. It had been months since she had used it, heard it, needed it.

After many long minutes or hours -- she lost track of all sense of time -- the chaos subsided and a sickening, almost deafening, silence settled over the room. It was a tomb. She was still face down; her head twisted uncomfortably sideways, her cheek pressed against the cold cement floor. The man who had fallen on her was still on top of her, obstructing most of her head and upper body from view. She dared not move a muscle; any twitch, any breath, any indication of life at all would stand out like a sore thumb to anyone who may be watching. She didn't know who was left alive; she wondered about the one they referred to as the Great Leader. Charles Lazalle. In her tenure here at the Institute, she had come to speak his name with love and adoration. They all had. Though the students had never seen him, save for a few telecasts of his shadow that would deliver messages to them from time to time. The body of believers here would watch each telecast with rapt attention, drinking in every word he uttered like sweet honey, so great was the wisdom he proffered to them. As the students grew in their love for him, so grew their desire to please him. Obedience grew out of this love – though sometimes their devotion was enforced by various methods of “correction.” She was sure Lazalle was still alive somewhere, and that he would be watching to make sure that each of the Faithful had followed through with their part of the ritual. To Natalie, as with the others, Lazalle was her father, her friend, her god. She would do anything for him...although at this moment she was struck with the realization that she would not die for him.

Lazalle was a charismatic leader. He had come from California and was a man to whom people were instantly drawn; a visionary who made students and outsiders alike want to passionately participate in his vision. She had always trusted him, cared for him, looked at him with utmost admiration.

Natalie was jolted out of her memory as she heard a door suddenly scrape open in the back of the room. The door was the only entrance into the underground room from the outside. It was also her only possible exit. She froze, breathing ever so slightly, hoping that her fear would not cause her to gasp for air or tremble uncontrollably. She heard footsteps behind her, walking slowly, methodically, throughout the rows and rows of bodies on the floor. She heard a rustling, then a gasp, and a weak voice cried out, "No, please..." Then a gunshot boomed like a cannon. Her ears were instantly filled with a high-pitched whine. She began to panic. Lazalle -- or one of his helpers -- was making sure that there were no survivors.

As her hearing returned, she could hear the footsteps continuing as the unseen assassin slowly worked his way through the room. He was turning over random bodies, weaving in and out of the now haphazard rows. The footsteps approached her, and she held her breath, her lungs exploding with the rush of adrenaline and the need for extra oxygen. She began to pray, desperately, feverishly in her head to anyone who might happen to be listening. The footsteps stopped a few feet where she lay. After a brief but horrific silence, the assassin stepped over her and moved on, patiently working his way back to the door. Satisfied that there were no survivors left, he left, scraping the door closed behind him. She heard a bolt turn.

She waited several more minutes, listening with batlike senses. She could hear nothing but the ringing in her ears and the pounding of her heart, which, at the moment, sounded like a drum corp.

"What am I doing?"
The invasive question came to her once again. She shook it off. She had more immediate concerns.

She lay there a few more minutes and relaxed ever so slightly. Whoever had come through the back door was apparently not coming back… at least, not for the moment. She had to get the man off of her. She slid herself out from under his one hundred eighty-plus pounds worth of dead weight, struggling to free her arm, which felt heavy and numb, from under his torso. Finally, she managed to pull free, and stiffly sat up, turning her head from side to side to work out the shooting pain caused by hours of being pinned to the floor. She shook her arm in an attempt to gain feeling in it again, and soon, pins and pricks in her nerve endings told her that it was coming back to life.

She looked around at the scene, taking in for the first time the carnage and the horror that she had heard. The room was a sea of bodies, stark and surreal in their uniformity. She could not see her roommates, but saw many faces of the people she had grown to like and even care about, despite the fact that emotional bonding was discouraged here at the Institute. She didn't know their names or how they came to the Institute, or even what they did in their former lives. They were all nameless souls who had sacrificed themselves to be added to the collective goal. Who were they? "Who am I?" She was not sure anymore.

She was numb to the notion that each of these familiar faces was now lifeless. She could not get her mind around the enormity of the situation. She began to tremble uncontrollably. She was cold. Her mouth was so dry she could hardly swallow. She knew she was close to shock. She had to get up. She had to do something.

She stood shakily, feeling as wobbly as a newborn lamb. Carefully, slowly, she stepped over body after body, almost losing her balance as she tried not to step on one of the lifeless forms at her feet.


Ooohh... I love memes

Okay, so Marcus tagged me to participate, so here we go:

Quick: what were you doing ten, twenty, and thirty years ago?


Ten years ago, I was 25, married for two years, had a one-year-old, and was singing in coffeehouses. Lady Jane Grey was in its early days... and I mean very early days: I think, at that point, we had maybe just begun singing songs on our back deck. We were living in a tiny house in Pipe Creek, TX, had no friends, and David was working at a dating service in San Antonio doing telesales. We had no clue what we were doing, what we wanted to do, or where we were going. Oh, and we were poor as Job's turkey. Good times.

Twenty years ago, I was 15 and living in Arlington, TX. My dad had passed away a year earlier from AIDS, and I was picking up the pieces and trying to figure out life as a sophomore in high school. I was thick in the midst of rehearsals: my school daringly decided to take on "A Chorusline" as their spring musical, and I was cast as in the chorus, which required 8 hours of dance practice a week. I loved every minute of it, and I can still remember what the auditorium of Lamar High School smelled like: musty, like old band instruments and carpet.

Thirty years ago, my family had just moved to Texas from Ohio, and I was in the first grade. I was one of the few five-year-olds in my first grade class. Because I was an "October baby" and the schools in Ohio had different birthday requirements fhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifor school than Texas schools, I had already completed Kindergarten, and my mom fought tooth and nail for me to be placed in first grade in Texas. Consequently, growing up, I always felt like the baby amongst my friends...always felt like I didn't "get it," like I had yet to be clued in to information the rest of my peers were privy to. I was always a little "behind" everyone else maturity-wise. Sometimes I still feel like the baby among my peers because of this. Maybe that's why I like youth ministry! :)

Okay, so that's it!

I will tag:

Kathy (my sister from another mister... seriously, I think we were separated at birth)

Sarah (my writing soul friend)

Flo (my non-blogging friend... maybe I can convince her to blog with this? ;) )

David (my dear hubby, of course)

And I think that is all.

Good night.


It's that time of year again... (on why I love NaNoWriMo)

That's right, folks, it's time for NaNoWriMo!

Yep. November 1 is the commencement of National Novel Writing Month.

In short, it's an excuse for us Bipolar/artistic types to have a month long manic episode in which we write like crazy, live in sheer insanity, drink too much coffee, blog about nothing except our novels, obsess about word counts, and try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month's time. It's insane, and why they decided to make NOVEMBER -- the month in which Thanksgiving occurs and the holiday season ramps up in full force -- the month in which one is supposed to accomplish said goal is beyond me. But I do know that it's possible. I did it last year. And I'm going to try it again this year.

Now, for all you haters out there, don't hate. I know that NaNo can be viewed as an event strictly for geeks who write Fan Fic and Emo girls who write vampire novels (and there are certainly many of those present in the NaNo forums), but I think it's an excellent tool for "serious" writers, too.

I do it because it's a month-long excuse to get my butt in the chair. There is a sense of community with the boards and the local write-ins and the podcasts. And there is a healthy, positive peer pressure present (how's that for alliteration!) that spurs me on to get my word count up there... I see my peers' word count graph grow and grow, and I am challenged to keep up.

Anne Lamott, in "Bird By Bird," talks about how, as a writer, you have to only be concerned at first with getting the words on the paper. She says to just get your butt in the chair and "write a sh***y first draft" (her words, not mine). This is why I do NaNo. I have a first draft of a novel from last year, which, incidentally, was my first attempt at writing fiction. I was pleased at the outcome. It needs much revision, but creatively, it was a huge milestone for me.

Last year, I had NO CLUE what I was going to write about until the moment my fingers touched the keyboard the first time. It fascinated me to watch as a story came to me and wrote itself, simply because I allowed myself to get out of the way and let it flow. That is when I fell hopelessly in love with the writing process. I started to view myself as a writer, and I let myself write.

This year, I am a little more prepared: I still have no plot idea, but I have a cast of characters -- rough sketches -- whom I am looking forward to getting to know as the month progresses. Last year's novel was genre fiction, and very plot driven. This year's, I think, will be more character driven.

We shall see.

At any rate, the typing begins on Thursday. I have to write 1667 words a day to stay on pace. Wish me luck.

Oh, and I may be posting excerpts here every now and then... if I feel brave. We'll see about that...



We are driving through the Mohave Desert, and I never knew such a barren place could be so rich in color. The pale tans, blues, purples, and a black that is the exact color of cocoa decorate the mountains on the horizon in perfectly layered lines, while the bleached sand in the foreground is dotted with scrubby trees that are surprisingly green, complementing the color palette perfectly. The sky is awash with a pinkish haze – whether from smoke from the fires in California or dust, I don’t know – and it blankets the landscape, softening the edges.

We were in California for 10 days, but as we make our way homeward, I feel as though I am leaving behind a lifetime’s worth of emotion.

When we began our trip, we left home a family of “four”… the three of us and the hopes of a new baby, whom we found out I was carrying the week before we left. Now, on the way home, we return as a family of three, the dreams of a new baby left behind in San Diego.

Having miscarried at the beginning of the trip, I allowed myself to grieve very briefly during the two days of limbo when we didn’t know whether or not I was going to be able to keep the pregnancy. Like King David, I spent those two days crying, praying, and asking God for healing and deliverance… and waiting. I was sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

On Sunday, then news came. It was over. The first four days of our vacation had been colored with worry, fear, and grief. I – we – decided, like King David, to wash our faces, get out of the sackcloth, rise from the ashes, and enjoy the rest of the week. We did so for Punky, because he deserved to have a good vacation, and we did so for ourselves, because we had looked forward to this trip for a year.

After the hospital drama, we enjoyed another day in San Diego, and then the fires came. We were oblivious to the sheer scope of the flames; we frolicked on the rocks of La Jolla cove as the smoke rolled in and masked the sun, turning the sunset a deep tomato red, and we smelled the smoke and wondered at the ash. We had no idea the fires were so close.

As the latter part of our vacation began, we headed up north towards Los Angeles. The fires in San Diego were raging, and when we left the area, we drove through smoke and ash as the hot Santa Ana winds whipped the fires into a frenzy. Evacuations had taken place ahead of us on our route, leaving the middle class suburbs where we stopped for gas and food quiet and empty, like modern-day ghost towns. The freeway route we were traveling literally closed in our wake as we headed north.

We arrived in Fontana where we stayed with my former youth pastor and his wife, Dennis and Karen. Seeing them felt like home. It was so amazing to get to hang out with them and catch up – we’ve seen each other just 3 times in 20 years. We cherished our time together, and it was water to my soul. Dennis and I sat up till 2:30 am our last night there, and when we left yesterday, my heart was breaking.

Last night we stopped by the Grand Canyon at sunset and stayed long enough for the full moon to rise all orange and plump like a pumpkin over the South Rim. And now we are headed home, and I hear that autumn has finally come to South Texas. This year, it rained more than it has in our whole lives, and the Indian Paintbrushes bloomed all the way through September. They say it will be a mild winter. I hope so.



I haven't blogged in a few weeks because I was pretty busy preparing for a two-week vacation to California. You know how it goes: there's mountains of laundry to be done, cleaning, and then the setting of the office in order so that things will (hopefully) go smoothly while I'm gone.

In the midst of trip preparations, we found out that I was pregnant. We were shocked and excited at the prospect of having a baby after so long (our son is 11 now, so we've not had "baby" on the brain for some time). We started thinking baby thoughts. We started looking at baby clothes. We started thinking about converting our guest room into a nursery. And when we got back from vacation, I was to have my first doctor visit. We were looking forward to that first sonogram and that first heartbeat.

We began our road trip without a hitch and arrived in San Diego on Thursday. I was looking forward to taking Punky around San Diego while David was in his conference. We planned our next few days in the car on the way out to California: one day we'd go to the zoo, one day we'd see downtown, and one day we'd go exotic car hunting in the fancy areas of town.

As soon as we got into the hotel room, though, I had just gotten settled when I noticed that I had started spotting slightly. I immediately began to panic: this didn't happen when I was pregnant with Punky. This can't be good. I called my mother-in-law and she eased my fears a bit. A little spotting is normal. Don't worry about it. I called my doctor in San Antonio, too, and they told me the same thing: Don't worry. Just take it easy, but as long as it doesn't progress, you're fine.

The next day, Punky and I took the train into downtown to look around. I tried to enjoy myself, but in the back of my mind, I was concerned. We walked around for half of the day, and when we returned to the hotel that afternoon, I was exhausted. I laid down for a bit, hoping it would help to be off my feet.

When I got up, though, I knew things weren't right. The spotting had progressed. I went outside to find David, who was waiting at the rental car for AAA — the van had a flat tire! — and told him that we needed to get to the hospital.

So we hired a cab, got to the hospital, and spent exactly 6 hours in the E.R. waiting for the doctor. They took blood, told me to come back in two days to take more blood so that they could compare the levels, told me that I was to be on bed rest, and sent me on my way. Oh, and the doctor said, "If you do miscarry, it will probably happen sometime next week, so you'll need to find another hospital in LA just in case that happens.

I spent all day Saturday in bed, and it was a very low day. Why had God brought us all the way to California for this? Why had we had such a surprise pregnancy — gotten pregnant on the pill, no less — for it to end in miscarriage? Why, when we had spent a year talking about this vacation, looking forward to it, and talking it up to Punky… and now, it seemed, all we were going to be able to do was sit in the hotel room and in hospitals, mourning? Why? My heart was broken.

I picked up my Bible and prayed through Psalm 139. It didn't help. It only made me cry more. I set my Bible in my lap and wept, flipping randomly through the Psalms, asking God for some help.

Then my eyes fell to Psalm 116.

" 1 I LOVE the Lord, because He has heard [and now hears] my voice and my supplications.

2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.

3 The cords and sorrows of death were around me, and the terrors of Sheol (the place of the dead) had laid hold of me; I suffered anguish and grief (trouble and sorrow).

4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech You, save my life and deliver me!

5 Gracious is the Lord, and [rigidly] righteous; yes, our God is merciful.

6 The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He helped and saved me.

7 Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For You have delivered my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling and falling."

I breathed it in. My self-pity began to vanish. Indeed, God has dealt bountifully with me. And then I read this:

"15 Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones)."

Reading this through the lens of Psalm 139 gave me a revelatory perspective on my situation. God saw what was happening to me at that moment. He was right there. He knew, and was grieving with me.

What a relief. I decided at that moment that I was going to trust Him, and whatever He allowed, I would choose to trust in His perfect sovereignty.

And as I gave it to Him and read the rest of the Psalm, I discovered how I needed to respond:

"17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord, yes, in the presence of all His people,

19 In the courts of the Lord's house–in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)"

I had been in bed all day. I made my choice: I got up, washed my face, got dressed, and went to the evening worship service at the National Youth Workers Convention with David. I knew that my going was symbolic act of trust. I went… and I paid my vows to the Lord in the presence of His people. I offered, through an abundance of tears, my sacrifices of thanksgiving to my God. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

The next evening we went to the hospital and found out that we had lost the baby.

And while it has filled me with sadness, while I grieve for my lost baby, I know that God has a plan. He is the author of life. I have to trust Him.

While I may never know the whys, I know the Who. And if nothing else, this was a fierce reminder to me that I cannot do anything apart from Him. I am His, He is God, and I am not.

At the conference on Sunday, Steven Iverson led us in Taize-style worship. We sang one line over and over again, and I wept as it penetrated my soul:

"Your way, Your will, Your heart… not mine, Sweet Light, not mine."


Papua New Guinea and Me

I'm ten years old. It's Wednesday night in the throes of Texas summer, and I am at church. My mother has just delivered me to my classroom where I normally attend Pioneer Girls, a Christian Girl Scout lookalike organization. We all gather Indian-style on the floor to wait for our plan of action for the evening when our teacher, a jolly lady with a moon face, claps her hands and says, "Girls! We have such a treat for you tonight! A missionary is visiting from Wycliffe Bible Translators, and we are all going to join the big people in the sanctuary to watch a movie about the exciting things the Lord is doing in Papua New Guinea!" We all look at each other, trying to decide if this is an exciting development or not. One one hand, it's something different, and it's a movie, and when you got to watch a movie in school it was always fun. On the other hand, it's a movie about missionaries. We aren't really that excited as the realization sinks in that this is probably a "big people" movie, and our "big people" Pioneer Girls leaders are only taking us in to participate because they want to see the "big people" movie; thus we will be bored to tears.

We enter the sanctuary quietly, herded in by our leader who is shushing us all the way down the aisle, and file, giggling and whispering into the only remaining row -- the front row. The sanctuary looks weird to me, because it is dark and cool, the narrow windows blacked out by fabric, the late summer evening glow still oozing through the gaps like liquid gold.

The movie, projected on a portable reel-to-reel machine, flickers the story of this lone missionary woman who lives with the natives in Papua New Guinea, learning their strange language that has no written form. This missionary's job is to learn the language, and then to create an alphabet and a written language for them so that the Bible can be translated into their language and, ultimately, they can be taught to read about Jesus.

The missionary is a wisp in the tribe. She is small, and ghostly white against the beautiful espresso-black of the people she is trying to reach. The grainy film sputters and stutters as it shows her eating with them -- grubs and ants and some sort of white paste out of a leaf -- and walking among them, holding their children, listening to their stories, trying to understand their tongue. The language barrier is great, but she manages to live as a fairly accepted citizen among these strangers. She stands out in her missionary clothes, a long skirt and a long-sleeved canvas shirt, while loincloths and black breasts and naked little children's buttocks fill the movie screen. We giggle at the nudity. Breasts being shown in church! We are embarrassed because we know our parents are somewhere in the room. They know we have seen the naked people. We squirm at the thought.

"The lack of common language can be frustrating and often heartbreaking," says the missionary in a voice-over. "One night, I was awakened by the sound of wailing. Neemaw, a grandmother, has been sick with fever. Her family was now wailing in the night in the hut next to mine. I rushed out of my hut and asked what was happening." The movie shows half-naked women weeping and wailing and the white lady trying to communicate, but they are not hearing her. She continues, "One of the women finally told me that Neemaw had died, and they must bury her. I rushed over to where Neemaw was lying, and, upon closer look find that she was still alive, but in a deep coma. She was certainly breathing. I tell this to the women, but they do not listen, but continue to cry for Neemaw."

The movie shows pandemonium as the crowd presses in, a sea of people crying and mourning as they place Neemaw on a stretcher and raise her still-alive body on a makeshift stretcher. She is haphazardly waving one of her hands around like some sort of crazy conductor, directing the throng as they wail their funeral song, delirious, eyes lolling back in her head, mouth open and drooling, obviously still alive. Then the movie depicts, to my horror, the whole crowd lowering Neemaw into a hole in the ground, Neemaw still flailing her hands around, the missionary woman in the back of the tribe screaming, desperately begging them to understand that she is alive. The crowd doesn't listen, but begins to throw dirt into the hole, covering Neemaw's face and body, until her hand stops moving. Soon she is completely covered with dirt and still. The missionary woman is crying and tearing her way into the center of the crowd, but she is too late.

The movie screen cuts to black as the missionary narrates the horrible words:

"...and Neemaw...was buried....alive."

I am sickened, horrified, my young mind terrorized by the travesty of Neemaw and by the savage stupidity of these naked natives on the missionary's film. I look down the row at my fellow Pioneer Girls; some are sleeping, some are giggling, one is drawing on an offering envelope. I feel guilty and weird at my reaction to the film. I am, apparently, the only one who is really bothered by Neemaw and her mean family.

This is one of those moments in which a tiny sliver of the slab of childhood is chipped away, another part of innocence lost forever; this, the process by which we become adults. When enough of the marble has been chiseled and cracked and broken off throughout our childhood, we find that underneath is an adult person who has been both hewn and uncovered by this process. Sometimes it is brutal; other times it's just mildly shocking.

Many of my moments of "minor" chiseling came from films like these: bad 1970's church films about the Rapture; "safety" films at school about fiery bus crashes and about predators who wanted to sell us all LSD-laced Mickey Mouse stickers that would make us jump out of windows and kill ourselves; horror films I was forced to watch while spending the night with friends; that made-for-TV movie called "The Day After" that came out when I was in 5th grade about the Commies nuking us; and Driver's Ed films from the Ohio Highway Patrol that depicted bad drivers ending up in fiery crashes with steering wheels impaling their bodies. It was very traumatic growing up during the 80's -- the adult world was apparently obsessed with all things apocalyptic, and felt it was necessary to frighten us all into good behavior. I was constantly ambushed by these films, and they surprised and traumatized my feeble, trusting, sheltered mind each time. It's a wonder that I didn't turn out to be, at worst, a psychotic lunatic bent on mass destruction, and at best, an anxiety-riddled freak afraid of her own shadow (well, okay, maybe the last part is true). Each scene stole another tiny piece of my innocence, and each time, I came away feeling sick and regretful...as well as a little ticked off that I had been duped again. And these movies certainly didn't help my already-neurotic, anxiety-ridden thoughts which had begun to plague me at that time in my life due to my father's battle with an unknown illness.

Punky is wired like me -- innocent, wide-eyed, and not a little fearful of disastrous things. I see the same chipping away at his marble slab happening before my very eyes these days. As an adult who experienced the same innocent horrors of childhood, I am torn between wanting to constantly cover his eyes and wondering if too much sheltering could turn him into a weirdo later. We do our best to balance his fears by instilling faith in God, but he still hasn't quite figured out how his faith will protect him from tornadoes and Osama Bin Laden. I don't think that component in our faith walk comes into play until later, maybe, and the small chiselings are baby steps in faith; maybe in realizing that our house is not going to be taken over by Islamic terrorists who come through our bedroom windows at night and steal our toys, we learn to trust in God with the real stuff. Maybe by the time we get to the real stuff, we're ready for it because our faith has been hewn out of the stuff of apocalyptic-missionary-Driver's Ed-films, and as adults, our fear of the unreal is replaced by a faith in that which is Real. It's a confusing way to grow up: having to practice trust in an unseen-yet-real God while trying to understand that all the rest of the stuff we worry about is imaginary, unrealistic, and unlikely.

My childish fears were quickly replaced by the harsh realities of life when I turned 11 and found out that my dad was going to die. Neemaw and the Rapture films quickly became impotent against the very real knowledge that my very worst fear was coming true, and I was thrust into the deep waters of trusting God, sink or swim. I can't help but think, though, that Neemaw and her cinematic cronies were early lessons in faith for a fearful swimmer like me.


portrait in salt water

portrait in salt water, originally uploaded by LadyJaneGrey.

So check it: we're driving home from a funeral in Kerrville at 3 pm on Saturday, and we're trying to figure out what to do. We've tossed around going to Boerne City Lake and flying kites, going to a movie, and other ideas that just aren't hitting us.

So right around Comfort, I look at David and say, "You know what we *could* do..." and he goes, "Hmm... you're right. Two hours... can we make it before sunset?" I say, "Heck yeah!"

So we drove to the beach, stayed for an hour, and came home.

It was great.


Ghosts and Monsters

I've had a Monster in my closet for 13 years.

The Monster was turned loose upon me by its master 13 years ago. I was completely taken aback by its attack. It was completely unexpected, unleashed upon my by someone I trusted wholeheartedly. The attack was violent and swift, and the Monster was vicious and angry and spewed fire and venom, clawing me to shreds, leaving me ripped apart, exposed, and bleeding. It ate into to the very core of my being, stripping me of my identity, my dignity, my dreams, and my faith. I was pinned under its huge talons and too weak to fight back; it then stalked the perimeter of my life, holding me captive in its dungeon, chasing away my friends and my family, isolating me, making me feel like a freak and an outcast. I lived in shame and guilt and utter despair; I was completely alone.

Then it lied to me and told me it was all my fault. It made me believe that I was the one who was the monster, that it was inside of me. It made me hate who I had become. It made me feel guilt and shame and self-loathing...and then it made me wish that I was dead. It made me wonder where God went, and why He had let this happen to me. The Monster told me that God had let it happen to me because I was bad. It told me that I was ugly and undeserving of love. It destroyed everything I knew to be true... it twisted Truth and made it a lie.

But time passed, and the trauma of the initial attack began to fade. One day, I was able to force the Monster into the closet: at least it was hidden from plain view. That worked for a short while, but the Monster didn't like its new home, and it would scream and bellow from the recesses of the closet, striking fear and horror in my soul. I was constantly reminded that, even though I couldn't see the Monster, it was still living in my home. Every now and then, when the Monster was still, I would go near the door of the closet and listen, just to see if it was still alive. Sensing my presence, it would rage and claw at the door, spewing its threats and accusations once again, and I would tremble and wither on the floor in fear as the memories of its vicious attack came flooding back.

Over the years, as I kept the Monster locked away in the closet, its screams weakened and its threats became less insidious. I eventually learned to stop thinking about the Monster all the time, and it began to shrink. Sometimes, though, I would find comfort in the Monster's presence. It was easy to keep it around, and I grew accustomed to it. It became a crutch, and excuse for closing off those around me.

Every so often I would run across someone else who had been victim of the same Monster -- and in fact, its same master -- and I began to feel vindicated, understanding that it was not just me who had been targeted. I became a little more brave, and soon I came to understand that I needed to begin to forgive the master for sending me the Monster. I began to understand that living with bitterness and unforgiveness towards its master was not hurting its master, as I wanted so desperately, but was, in fact, feeding the Monster and allowing it to prey on me still. I learned that the only way to truly slay the Monster was to release its master from the debt he incurred upon me; to forgive this man and wish him well.

And so, one day, I got on my face before God, and He and I did serious battle with the Monster. I chose to walk away from the anger and hatred and began to look at the attack in a new light: it didn't happen because I was "bad" or because I was undeserving of love, but God had allowed it to happen to me, and because of it, I was forced to change courses. If I hadn't been pursued by the Monster, I would not have run the other way, thus finding my true family -- my husband and my son. And with this revelation, I was led back to my faith, knowing that God, while allowing the attack, had me in the palm of His hand the entire time. That day, in my bedroom, I chose to forgive, and in doing so, I chose to allow God to slay the Monster.

Then God began to restore me. He gave me back my music, something that the Monster had forced me to let go of for years. He began to speak Truth to me, telling me that I was loved, I was accepted, and I was safe. The Monster no longer dictated my actions and my plans. I began to come back to life. That was seven years ago.

Over the years, I have always just accepted the fact that I would not finish the old business with the Monster's master, and that was okay. I had closed the adjoining door on the past that we shared, even though this man had left his door open. And sometimes, through the door, I could hear the Monster's ghost whispering its old lies to me. I would walk away, unharmed, but irritated that it was still trying to talk to me.

But two days ago, out of the blue, I received a letter from the man who unleashed the Monster on me. I opened the letter, not knowing who it was from. The man identified himself in the first line of the letter, and I began to tremble. I read on, not knowing what to expect, but I was surprised and shaken at his words: "Please forgive me. My actions towards you were evil. I was wrong. I hope you can forgive me."

The end.


It was the letter every victim of such abuse longs to receive. I had prayed to receive such a letter in the years following the attack, because I thought I would find healing through those words. God knew better. He knew that I had to forgive without condition, without any guarantee that I would ever receive an apology. That is where I found true forgiveness and healing.

This letter marked the end of the Monster once and for all. Though long dead, its ghost no longer has the ability to haunt me. I've lived with it for 13 years, and now it is gone, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to react. It's indescribable. It is a gift. And it is, once again, a testament of God's perfect will, His perfect timing, and His perfect love.


Live Earth's Massive Carbon Footprint

From the Daily Mail:

"A Daily Mail investigation has revealed that far from saving the planet, the extravaganza will generate a huge fuel bill, acres of garbage, thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions, and a mileage total equal to the movement of an army.

The most conservative assessment of the flights being taken by its superstars is that they are flying an extraordinary 222,623.63 miles between them to get to the various concerts - nearly nine times the circumference of the world. The true environmental cost, as they transport their technicians, dancers and support staff, is likely to be far higher.

The total carbon footprint of the event, taking into account the artists' and spectators' travel to the concert, and the energy consumption on the day, is likely to be at least 31,500 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to John Buckley of Carbonfootprint.com, who specialises in such calculations.

Throw in the television audience and it comes to a staggering 74,500 tonnes. In comparison, the average Briton produces ten tonnes in a year.

The concert will also generate some 1,025 tonnes of waste at the concert stadiums - much of which will go directly into landfill sites.

Moreover, the pop stars headlining the concerts are the absolute antithesis of the message they promote - with Madonna leading the pack of the worst individual rock star polluters in the world.

Supermodel Kate Moss, another profligate polluter through her use of private jets, is producing a T-shirt for the event. Yet, Gore is touting the concerts as 'carbon neutral'. So how can that be?

Let us start with some facts. Worldwide, an audience of around 1,268,500 is expected to attend the concerts - making it one of the largest global events in history.

Dr Andrea Collins, an expert in sustainability from Cardiff University, has researched the impact of such mass gatherings on the environment.

"An event of this size at Wembley - which holds 65,000 at a rock concert, will generate around 59 tonnes of waste," she says. "That is largely composed of the rubbish from food and drink consumption."

She found that a Wembley-sized football match generated an 'ecological footprint' of 3,000 global hectares - an area the size of 4,166 football pitches. This is the amount of bioproductive land required to absorb the C02 emissions produced by such an event.

Dr Collins estimates that the global audience for Live Earth will generate some 1,025 tonnes of waste. An extraordinary one million people are expected at the free concert at Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach, featuring Lenny Kravitz, Macy Gray and Pharrell Williams.

Other venues including the Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg - where Joss Stone is performing - will cater for audiences of tens of thousands.

Live Earth say that they will recycle much of the waste generated. Fine talk, but in fact some of the concert venues are struggling to keep up with their commitments.

A spokesman for Wembley says they only have the capacity to recycle around a third of waste produced - the rest will go into landfill sites.

Travel forms the vast majority of the 'carbon footprint' talked of by ecological campaigners - contributing up to 90 per cent of the environmental 'cost'.

Collins says: "It is patently absurd to claim that travel of this nature doesn't have an impact. Each person attending the event will have to make a return journey to the venue, be it by air, rail, bus or car. This burns fossil fuel - precisely what we are trying to reduce.

"There is also the environmental cost of these artists flying around the world - that is absolutely huge."

Indeed, an audit of the lifestyles of the A-list performers appearing at Live Earth, reveals that they are among the worst individual polluters in the world, as their world tours and private jets billow thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. One hour in a Gulfstream jet burns as much fuel as driving a family car for a year.

The Daily Mail has found that five of the top performing acts together have an annual output of almost 2,000 carbon tonnes. Madonna alone has an annual carbon footprint of 1,018 tonnes, according to John Buckley.

Remember, the average Briton produces just ten tonnes.

The veteran pop singer's Confessions tour last year produced 440 tonnes of carbon pollution in just four months, simply in flights between venues. This does not include the trucks required to transport equipment, the power needed to stage each show, or the transport for fans travelling to each concert.

Rock group Genesis re-formed last year and are in the middle of their European tour. The three-man band will fit their Live Earth performance into a tour of at least 47 locations across the world. Their carbon footprint last year totalled 195 tonnes.

James Blunt, another Wembley performer, completed his world tour of the U.S. last year, racking up a carbon footprint of 195 tonnes.

American band Red Hot Chili Peppers have, like Madonna, flown in to Wembley from the U.S.. They have produced 220 tonnes of carbon dioxide with their private jet alone over the last six months.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail has learnt that Bon Jovi left the UK this week to travel back by private jet to the U.S. to perform at the New York stadium for the American leg of Live Earth.

Music impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber's ex-wife Sarah Brightman is being flown out to sing at the Shanghai concert in China. This is a distance of 5,679.95 miles, producing one tonne of carbon dioxide pollution.

Two other acts have already been criticised for being paid to promote fuel-guzzling cars. John Legend is featured in a Lexus advert, while Sheryl Crow's hit Everyday Is A Winding Road is used to sell Subaru 4WDs.

Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell has been criticised for urging people to drive electric eco-scooters - but buying a 1,000cc Moto Guzzi bike - described as 'a monster-revving beast'.

Such is the level of disquiet felt about Live Earth in New Zealand, that a pressure group called the Climaction Coalition, is urging people to protest against it on July 7. Radiohead, who are pioneers in eco-friendly performing, have refused to appear. Of course, Live Earth is doing its utmost to ensure the event is 'green' in appearance at least - stars will be ferried between the stage and dressing room by energy-efficient Smart Cars and biodiesel fuelled Mercedes.

A proposal for Gore to appear at concerts in Britain and America on the same day - something that Phil Collins, the Genesis drummer and singer, was able to do at the original Live Aid in 1985, courtesy of Concorde - has been dropped because of the anger that the 'gas-guzzling' flight would provoke.

Andrea Robinson, Live Earth's green manager, says her message to celebrities is: "Leave the Learjet at home - fly commercial."

Wembley Stadium will be lit using low energy fluorescent lightbulbs, while the backdrop is composed of recycled tyres and oil drums. The organisers tried to introduce re-usable cups for interval refreshments, but found that - like many green strategies - this was not practical on such a huge scale.

Some bio-produced plastic, made from corn, will be used, and artists' changing rooms will be fitted with energy-saving lightbulbs - all rather a drop in the ocean compared to the pollution generated by fans traveling across the UK to the concert or using the stadium's 2,618 toilets. Plans to ask the British public to turn off their electrical appliances during the Live Earth broadcast were scuppered when the National Grid pointed out that as everyone switched on again, a giant power surge could cripple the country.

Read the entire article here.

Bottom line: Al Gore's junk science-based initiative is producing a whole heck of a lot of hot air... a lot more than the average person's "carbon footprint."

Pair this with this weeks study from Greenland's ice core samples that told scientist that the earth was much warmer 120,000 years ago than it is today (read that article here), and it sure makes Al's agenda look pretty lame.

But what do you expect from a guy who wants us "developed" countries to cut our carbon usage by 90 percent, but "developing countries" like China, the world’s leading producer of carbon, and India, another nation that has a low Environmental Performance Index rating (47.7) ranking it 118 out of 133 nations by the World Economic Forum) would not be required to cut their usage. And what do you expect from a man who wants us to cut our carbon usage, but who refuses to give up his private jet-setting and his gargantuan Belle Meade house that sucks up 20 times more electricity and fossil fuel than the average American.

Hypocrisy abounds in Gore's world.

So spare me all the preaching from the stage of the Live Earth concerts. These artists who traveled by private jet to their respective locations to perform these shows did so because it was a good career move, and that's that. At least Radiohead had the moral decency to stand up for what they believe and refused to appear because they saw the hypocrisy behind it all. I can handle environmentalists if they walk the talk. I can't handle self-righteous, preachy politicians who don't... but hey, it's Al Gore. It just reaffirms why I didn't vote for him.


For all you SNL fans...

A parody of the SNL digital short "Dear Sister" (watch the original here)

I Stink At Blogging

I can't believe it was February since I last blogged. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't written a word worth reading since then. Life circumstances have drastically caused my schedule to change, and due to undisclosable reasons I am no longer physically able to get up at 5:00 am to write, run, and pray. I hope to fix this soon; I really miss my mornings!

On a happy note, I've been trying to become a "runner" (as in, one who REALLY runs as opposed to one who tries to run and fails miserably and ends up walking during most of the training session) for about three years now, and my biggest benchmark was always the ability to run continuously for 30 minutes. I actually achieved this goal last week for the first time in my life. That is huge! I've done it twice now, which assures me that it wasn't some freakish momentary superhuman burst of adrenaline that allowed me to do it the first time. It feels good to have actually reached a goal that I had previously assumed was unattainable.

While not on the treadmill, I have been spending much of my time on my beloved Mac (whose commercials, by the way, are brilliant), having recently just finally figured out the lovely goodness that is iLife. True to my nature as a late-bloomer, I'm finally caught up on the basics of podcasting (welcome to 2005, Sarah) and I'm thoroughly enjoying not only exploring the world of podcast discovery, but also the joys of creating them. I've also redesigned several websites (here, here, and here, as well as this blog... still works-in-progress) in the past few weeks. Now if I can just get Misty to teach me how to remix in Garageband, my life will be complete and I will never have to leave the soothing blueish glow of my computer screen...

...except to watch Lost. Holy schneikies, I am obsessed. The writing this season has really gelled, and it has been an incredible run of episodes... a perfect blend of answering questions and continuing the arc and the mythology. I have officially crossed the threshold from casual fan to an easter-egg-seeking, podcast-listening, spoiler-reading nerd. I justify this by separating myself from the real geeks -- those who actually call in to the podcasts and leave their theories, or who post 254 post in 90 days on the bulletin boards of abc.com. I'm not an addict. I can stop anytime I want. Really. Although I will be taking large doses of prozac once the season ends in two weeks.

Today is my day off, and I've been a loser so far. I must get off of the computer so I won't blow my motivation to go to the gym and do laundry....

For now, my three loyal readers, you are officially caught up on my life. More tomorrow.


Writing Assignment - Black and White Photograph

I found the photograph in a box after her funeral. It lay there amidst a stack of old, curling, sepia-toned pictures, silent testimonies of another time. I had only recently grown to appreciate my grandmother, but my coming-of-age desire to know her came too late. There were stories still to be told, conversations left unsaid, and now I only possessed photographs by which to study her, as well as regret that I had not taken the time to listen to her stories while she was still alive.

She was put into a retirement home against her will, her husband, my grandfather, no longer having the mental faculties to live without constant supervision, and she no longer able to give it. A proud woman, she insisted that they were fine, that she could handle him. "But he keeps wandering off," we said. They found him a few weeks earlier across town, confused, lost, apparently on some forgotten errand. "He can't keep doing this," we said. "It just isn't safe."

So my mother flew up to Ohio to help them pack up their things. My grandmother was beside herself. Her car! Her house! Her dishes! Her things! All gone. All given away, or sold, to distant family and strangers. She had already lost so much in recent years: my father, her only child and the light of her life, was cruelly taken by AIDS a few years before. This move away from everything she had ever known was, in my mind, so unfair. So wrong. She took it gracefully, because she was a lady. But she was angry.

Once in the retirement home, they separated my grandparents soon after; grandpa was in need of the nursing facilities, his Alzheimer's rapidly sucking away his mind. Grandma kept on, but we soon discovered that she, too, was slipping into the darkness. It had started to manifest while they still lived at home, but she covered it well. My brother and I, while playing in the basement one day, discovered that she left the iron turned on. It had been left on for days, and had we not found it when we did, God only knows what would have happened. In the nursing home, she kept a good front, but she had begun to repeat stories over and over, she became forgetful, and the nurses told us that the scourge of Alzheimer's was upon her as well.

We didn't see my grandparents often: once a year at Christmas when we came up to visit from Texas, and maybe in the summer. I remember going for a visit when I was fifteen. Grandma and Grandpa planned to meet my mother, my brother, and I for dinner in the retirement home dining room. We all walked together down the hospital-smelling halls, which they had tried to disguise as a grand hotel, the florescent institutional lights betraying the illusion. Before we entered the dining room, my grandmother, proud and particular about her appearance, reached into her purse and pulled out a lipstick. I remember how she carefully took off the lid, rolled up the color, and in her trademark way dabbed ever so gingerly the red stain on her thin lips. This small gesture was profound to me, for it spoke volumes about my Grandmother that day. It told me that she still cared, she still had her pride, she was still a lady, and though we may have taken away her things, we could not take away her essence.

Over the next two years, my grandmother began to quietly slip away, deteriorating more rapidly than my grandfather, who seemed to be in Alzheimer's limbo, stuck somewhere between World War II and 1978. I didn't see my grandmother again until I was seventeen and about to graduate. We were visiting Ohio in the summer, and my mother told me that my grandmother was essentially a vegetable and probably would not know us. I was shocked at how quickly she had fallen into the darkness; apparently she had given up. We went to the nursing home, dreading the visit, dreading the long, awkward silence, dreading that horrid discomfort of sitting uncomfortably silent with a catatonic loved one and not knowing what to say.

We entered the lobby and sat down to wait. "Sarah, just remember, she didn't know who I was. Don't expect much. She probably won't recognize you," my mother reiterated. I braced myself.

Soon a wheelchair bearing my grandmother's frail form appeared in the doorway behind us, a nurse pushing her, clucking and cooing to her -- as if to a baby -- as they walked. Though prepared to see her, I crumbled at the sight of her once-perfect posture now slumped over sideways in the chair, her head lolling to the side, her thin black curls matted on one side from her pillow. My heart broke in half at the realization that someone -- a thoughtful nurse, likely -- had applied the familiar red stain to her lips. Someone knew Helen Hoover well enough to know that she didn't go out without her lipstick.

The nurse wheeled her to my side and said, "Helen, your grandkids are here to see you." I held my breath. The tears began to pool in my eyes as I looked at her face. Slowly, shakily, she lifted her face, looked straight into my eyes, and immediately broke into an enormous grin. Her entire face lit up with recognition, and she reached out her feeble hand and grabbed mine. She was trembling. I began to cry, and she just sat there, gripping my hand, smiling her giant smile at me.

She knew me. She remembered. And I knew in that moment that I was loved fiercely by this woman. Alzheimer's had stolen her life and her mind, but it had not taken away her love. She still possessed what was most precious to her. And then I sobbed as I came to understand the unconditional love which still lived within her: despite my absence, despite my lack of correspondence over the years, she was very, very proud of me. Her face said it all, and I will never forget how she looked in that moment. I said nothing, because there were no words necessary. She knew. I knew. It was enough.

I said goodbye, knowing it would be the last time I would see her. She passed away a year later. From what I am told, my grandfather, who lived in a separate wing of the hospital, woke up suddenly the night she died and asked for her.

At her funeral, my aunt Faye gave me my grandmother's red coat and some of her jewelry. "She would have wanted you to have it," she said. "Your grandma was so proud of you."

Later that day, my mother and I went through photographs that my mother found in my grandmother's attic. My mother had never looked at them, and neither had I, and we passed them to each other and smiled at the various snapshots from my grandparents' life together. They were high school sweethearts, and the photos chronicled their growing up together. I looked at the photos, regretting that I would never hear the stories behind those pictures, regretting that I had not taken more time to write or to call.

We found in the stack of photos a series of pictures of my grandmother as a young woman, probably around my age, taken on a summer day. She is sitting in a rowboat, posing for the camera, trying to look as grown up as possible. I smiled, wondering what she was thinking, wondering what her life was like in 1934. And then I came to a photo that shocked me: it was a side profile shot, and my breath caught as I realized I was seeing myself in that picture. The resemblance was astounding. My family always told me that I look like her. I had never seen it until now. It almost frightened me -- it was like looking at myself in a previous life. I knew that look in her eye; I could almost feel what she was feeling. She was me.

The black and white rowboat picture of my grandmother still hangs on my wall. It is a poor representation of her; the red lipstick does not show through the two-dimensional shades of grey that captured her likeness on that summer day. But there is life in her eyes, and pride. It is the same pride I saw as I looked into her eyes that last day in the nursing home, and it is the same expression that I see every now and then in my own eyes. I hope I can wear it well.

I'm A Freaking Weirdo. But you knew that....

I was tagged to do this by Stephanie. This should be interesting.

The rules are as follows: Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post telling 6 weird things about themself… as well as clearly state the rules. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you're tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means.


1. I am extremely creeped out by things that you are not "supposed" to see...such as the insides of things, or things that are hidden for a reason. For example, if I were riding Space Mountain at Disney World, and the lights were to suddenly come on, and I could see the cement floor and the ceiling tiles the walls and all the tracks, I would have a breakdown. It gives me the creeps even thinking about it. Other things that fall into this category would be the inside of our steeple at church, attics, and the inside of an Etch-A-Sketch (if you rub away all the stuff on the screen, you can see the guts of the Etch-A-Sketch, and this really freaks me out.)

2. I absolutely hate mouth noises. When people smack their gum, I go cross-eyed. When my son's friend rides with us and sucks his candy in the back seat, I want to jump out the window. When I stir macaroni and cheese and it makes the same sound, I clench my teeth in agony. I hate mouth noises.

3. There are certain songs to which I react physically when I hear them. Shawn Colvin's "Round of Blues" and David Gray's White Ladder album make me want to bite the wall because I like them so much. When I hear Jerry Douglas' dobro, it makes me literally thirsty. I guess that must be the only way my body can express how much I love these songs... I want to physically eat them. Yeah, okay, I'm a freak. But I know this, okay?

4. I have always been able to visualize numbers... not necessarily the number itself, but (ech, how do I explain this one?) where the number is in space and time. Numbers have always had locations for me, and where they are located on the number line determines how light or dark they are. For example, one through seven are relatively dark, but around eight and nine they start becoming light. Ten is bright, and the numbers increase in lightness through the teens, then they get dark again around twenty. (Gah! The more I type this stuff, the more I'm thinking that I really need some mental help.) Then, the numbers stay dark until around ninety, at which point they begin to get bright again.

5. I was on MTV when I was in 8th grade. I was in a kids' group called Powersource, and we did this song and video called "Dear Mr. Jesus" that was about a little girl whose parents hit her. It was picked up by a Dallas radio station, eventually became the most requested song in radio history, and spread across the nation like wildfire. MTV picked it up, and we ended up one night at a Dallas club opening for Expose.

6. I am a Calvinist who loves Joyce Meyer, Rob Bell, and Donald Miller as much as R.C. Sproul and Francis Schaeffer. Go figure.

Done! I'm tagging:








I have been in bed for twenty-four hours now.

It's been heaven. I have watched dumb movies (Stepford Wives -- the new one), hung out on myspace, texted various people, written long, loping morning pages, and watched Fit TV, longing to get out of bed and make up for the last two days missed at the gym. I've set up my Tivo to tape all the shows that are back this week (most notably "Lost"), discovered that Patty Griffin has a new CD coming out Tuesday (hello iTunes!), washed my pillows, eaten Ramen noodles (they sounded good for my sore throat. I regretted eating them afterward), read over old blogs, drunk a ton of fresh orange juice from the juicer, taken lots of drugs, and slept a little.

So yeah. It's been nice. I think next on my big sick-day agenda will be to read. I'm halfway through "The Stand," although reading a story about a killer virus whilst in bed sick with a virus may be a little much. Oh well... realism can be fun.

Hmmmm. I think I'll have coffee now.


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