Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

Is it weird that I sort of silently dread New Year's Eve? I don't like it. I think it all started when I was in junior high and the Y2K craze occurred. Everybody was so freaked out that the world would end or computers would blow up or the whole world would flip upside down that I too got scared. Even to this day I feel a bit of that un-certain fear when the clock strikes midnight and the year changes (I have issues, I know... LOL). Part of my dread of a new year is that I hate change. Although it is simply the changing of a date, it is a whole new year and it takes me time to adjust.
Tonight I am ringing in the new year with my roommates and some friends and we are doing it "southern" style at Montana's, a country western bar with line dancing that we love and is so close to our little apartment we could walk! I even learned how to two-step via You Tube for the occasion. :) It will be fun. Tomorrow is the Rose Parade which my Dad faithfully wakes up for bright and early every year to watch the pre-parade show. When I was little I use to wake up with him and watch/sleep on the couch during the pre-show. I will be driving back home tomorrow and will miss the first showing of the parade and our traditional family breakfast, but luckily the parade shows all day and there will be breakfast leftovers in the fridge.
As for New Year's resolutions, I decided a few years ago not to make resolutions for the year. Too much pressure for a perfectionist, achiever, first born. But, I try to ignore the dread of change and focus on the chance to celebrate one more year of life and what a blessing that is. I try to look at each New Year as another year of days to wake up with God's renewed mercy and another gift of a day and to view that day as a chance to seek happiness and life and love and to do so with grace and joy. I fail at this goal daily, hence the no resolutions policy, but still each day is another chance to try.
So, goodbye 2008. Goodbye to the year I began as a new college graduate. The year I got my first full-time, grown up job. The year I bought my first car and paid many bills to my own name. The year I visited New York again. The year I started grad school. The year I can look back on and call my "transition year."
And hello 2009. May it be a year of continued good health for me and my loved ones. A year of stability and deep friendships. A year with less transition and change. A year of thinking positively, and less fearfully. And a year of continuing to view the world through God's eyes and to continue to pursue happiness.
Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas time is here

I am home for the holidays and very happy to be. Sometimes my life is so picturesque, like when we have family dinner, quote movies, sing, cuddle, and meet for lunch in the middle of the day. Other times, we are not so picturesque, but that's what makes us family. And I love it. I love to be home. Love my dog, my family, the Christmas tree, the Christmas lights, breakfast already provided when I wake up, a bathroom that doesn't have mold on the ceiling, and the familiarity of driving around town.
Last night was great. My friends and I got together for a game night and I had a lot of fun! We laughed and caught up and it was really great to see everyone again. It seems like forever since I last saw almost everyone from last night. Uno was the most fun. I love that game! A whole other side of me comes out and it can be hilarious (and sometimes scary!).
Today I woke up singing Christmas carols in bed with my sister and laughed. You know it will be a good day when you wake up laughing! We're having Christmas at the house tomorrow with my Dad's whole side of the family, so today we are cleaning and cooking and wrapping presents. My mom mentioned all this in her blog as well!
Tonight we are going to the Helton's for our traditional "family" Christmas Eve. Ash and I plan to look at the "I Spy" Christmas book tonight before bed and we usually convince my parents to let us open one Christmas gift before bed as well. Ash and I try to open each other's presents on this night. I have one for her but the other one has yet to be delivered...oh well, something to look forward to, right?
I keep thinking about how we wouldn't even celebrate Christmas is it weren't for Jesus' birth. I have to remind myself that that is what this season is truly about. That the Lord sent his son, Jesus, to be born as a baby and live a perfect human life to show us all that we can model the life of Jesus and that He too felt the same pressures we do. God blessed us with Jesus, even though He had to die for our sins as a perfect man, so that we may have eternal life in Heaven if we believe in Him. This is true love. This is why tomorrow is such a special day. (Sorry for the sermon, but with tonight's Christmas Eve service rained out and canceled, I had to give my own self a sermon, and therefore, my blog).
God bless and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week in review (BIG post)

Rach and I two years ago.

Nikki and I.

Rach and I watching the lights of Friday.

Em and Ilise watching the lights too.

Nikki and I getting ready for prom.
Wow, I have been wanting to post about the last week for…a week! Here is the (almost) daily break down:
Last Saturday (two weeks ago): worked graduation all day. Hung out in between with Kelle, my freshman and sophomore (part of that year) roommate. It was so good to see her and catch up and apologize and reminisce about our time as roommates. Although we almost killed our friendship as roommates, we needed each other, and on Saturday we were able to admit that. Saturday night my roommates threw a Christmas party and we had a lot of fun.
Last Sunday: I had a rough beginning but ended it with a nice dinner at home with my family. It was just an afternoon trip, but SO worth it.
Last Monday: class, which is the love of my life right now. Every week I look forward to class and learning and laughing. It has been great getting to know and learn from some new people! I love them.
Tuesday and Wednesday were uneventful and emotionally difficult, but fine.
Thursday: I was surprised by RACHEL!!! She and Em planned to have her meet Ilise and I at what we thought was going to be just a small, no big deal, sushi meal, but then Rach surprised us at the restaurant! I was SO happy!!! It was a great and total surprise. I kept thinking I was dreaming. She spent the night and we all watched and quoted “You’ve Got Mail” until we had pillow talk and went to sleep.
Friday: Spent the day with Rach. I slept in (sorry, Rach) and then we went to Chipotle because they don’t have those in Texas and Rach was craving it. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon in downtown Pasadena. We stumbled upon the Pasadena Museum of California art and it was great. There was a public terrace on the second story and it overlooked City Hall. It was beautiful and unexpected. It would be a great proposal or wedding reception location. Private and romantic. That night all four roomies went to see Christmas lights at the Griffith Observatory, but on the way we stopped at a shady Starbucks in the middle of LA. It was so random because it was scary looking, but inside it was packed and everyone seemed to know each other. They were this unique mix of all ethnicities and economic classes. It reminded me of what Heaven will look like someday – all of God’s unique creation mingling together in harmony. After the observatory we went to a very late dinner at CPK and then to Montana’s (a country line dance bar). It was fun.
Saturday: spent the morning and late afternoon with Rach and watched four movies by the time I went to bed. Em and I went to Disneyland, only to find out it was a blackout day for us, so we went to Cheesecake factory for nachos and drinks instead.
Sunday (yesterday): Went home for the day and hung out with NIKKI! I was SO excited to see her and have been looking forward to it for weeks. We had a great time. Went to lunch, talked with Amy on the phone about movies, ran some errands and hung out at my house with the fam. I did not want to say goodbye or drive back to my apartment, but I did.
Today: I had a good day at work and then saw Rach again and that was awesome.
I am taking tomorrow off and going home for the next twelve days. I am SO excited! I don’t think I have been this excited to go home in years, which is ironic because I am most content to be up here than I ever have been. I think I am excited because I have so many plans to see friends. It is a nice change because things in my life at my apartment are so empty socially and it is great to know that I am going home to a loving family and a ton of old friends to catch up and laugh with. It’s going to be great!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Won't you be my neighbor

Another neighbor is moving. That is one of the worst parts about apartment complexes, people never stay long and every month change happens. I hate change (as if you haven't already figured this out by now).
I am such a stalker. I feel sad when my neighbors move - and most of the time I've never even talked with them, except maybe the occasional hello. I use to have a favorite neighborhood family. They lived across from us and were outside a lot (so it wasn't exactly stalking, more like daily observing). They were pretty cute. It was a single mom and her three young kids. The kids were so sweet and playful. Two boys and a girl. I was attached. When they moved, all my roommates wondered how I'd take it. Since then, I haven't been getting so attached or obsessive, but I still hate seeing people leave. You just never know who is going to move in next, which can be scary because you just can't escape your neighbors, ya know?
Whenever a neighbor moves I always wonder where they are going and why they are leaving. I wonder if they'll be happier where they move to, or if they are running away from where their at.
I don't know...I just thing too much...about everything...and everyone (like you don't know that by now also).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama's purpose driven life?

Okay, so I know some of you are tired of Obama, and I realize that after my last post complaining about Obama being mentioned so often it seems a bit hypocritical to be writing about him AGAIN, but I like to stay on top of cultural happenings, so here are my political musings for today...
Today it was announced that Obama asked Saddleback pastor Rick Warren to give his invocation at his inauguration. I think this is sort of good news, especially because Obama is defending his decision despite the fact that the GLTB community is criticizing him. This is a good sign for the next four years. This gives me some confidence that my Christian freedom will be upheld and kept intact during Obama's term. I hope.
I hope that in two years I can say what Obama hopes I will say, "two years from now, I want the American people to be able to say, 'Government's not perfect; there are some things Obama does that get on my nerves. But you know what? I feel like the government's working for me. I feel like it's accountable. I feel like it's transparent. I feel that I am well informed about what government actions are being taken. I feel that this is a President and an Administration that admits when it makes mistakes and adapts itself to new information, that believes in making decisions based on facts and on science as opposed to what is politically expedient."
This decision reflects the Obama that I supported at the beginning of his run for the primary. It reflects the man who spoke at the 2004 Democratic convention when I was in awe that a man could be so poetic and smart and motivational and moderate. His 2004 speech was probably the first moment I realized I may become a democrat, or at least think of admitting to being a moderate. That speech made me want to vote for him if he ever ran for President.
So, all that to say, I pray that Obama will be a good and balanced President who not only considers, but respects, and defends (at least some of) the values of the right.
Okay, enough political word vomit for awhile...promise. But hey, posts like this are why I made a blog in the first place.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Article rundown and a case of bad rhymes

Something about the cold makes me want to read. I love to read blogs that recommend fun articles or blog posts they’ve enjoyed lately, so, here is a list of articles that I’ve been interested in lately:
Too much Obama is causing me personal drama,
Enough ASB President, do you have to be Prom King too?
He’s like that popular boy at school,
Or an over played song on the radio.
He’s impressive, but we have to hear his name for the next four years,
Let’s pace our selves Time and Barbara!
At least Time also mentioned Sarah Palin, Dara Torres, and Michael Phelps as impactful people of the year.
The end of the year means remembering those passed.
Heath Ledger, Paul Newman, and Tim Russet
Were known as class acts.
Why is it when one is gone their words seem so profound,
Their lives so full of meaning?
An article about tracking rats in New York made me laugh.
This rat map will come in handy when I go back.
This rhyming was inspired by a great year end poem from The New Yorker.
If you want to erase that picture of the rat from the above article,
Read this hilarious piece of humor from The New Yorker as well.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A year ago today

...was the eve of my undergrad graduation. I was with my mom and her family and enjoying my feeling of accomplishment. I also had a job interview lined up with the undergraduate Registrar at APU. That day I had decided not to apply to grad school. I went back into the Registrar and asked for my check and transcript order back and told the woman I had changed my mind and did not need to mail a transcript (to UCI). I threw away my application essays and cried to my favorite professor and then to a friend and to my roommate, Rachel. I cried again when I called my mom to tell her my new plan of “not going to grad school.” And again, later that night, when I told my Dad over the phone in the middle of a Christmas-decorated Crate and Barrel.
Although I cried, it was not out of disappointment. I cried because I didn’t want to let others down and because I don’t do great with change. However, inside, I was relieved and happy and excited for the first time in months. I knew grad school for my English degree or my MFA in Fiction was not the right choice at the time, and when I let it go I was so glad and felt so alive. I hadn’t felt alive or like myself in months at that point of my life.
Flash forward to my life today. I still live in the same apartment and with two of the same roommates, but that is about all that didn’t change. The interview I had lined up a year ago led me to my current job in a separate (but related) department. I am also in grad school, which is still a big surprise to me, in a completely different program. I also rarely write fiction anymore, but read it when I can and dream of storylines here and there. Life is simpler and less filled these days.
I had no idea a year ago that this is where I would be today. God is full of surprises and good plans if you love and trust Him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ode to the Christmas Tree

We live in an apartment for three
And went to buy a Christmas tree.
We went to Home Depot and looked at the Firs,
We bought some Christmas lights from a man we called “sir.”
The tree was seven feet
And another couple thought it was neat.
We strapped it to the car
And held on to the ropes but didn’t have to drive far.
Burritos from Chipotle we ate,
Watched “Love Actually” until really late.
Bought decorations the day after,
Made some inappropriate jokes that caused lots of laughter.
My favorite ornaments were red,
And after we finished we took some pictures, shared some hugs, and went to bed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Love Disease

You have to read this halarious article about a nine-year-old boy who inspired and wrote a book about love because of his school paper. The advice is so sweet and true and adorable. Read it. You will laugh. Here are the two links:


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New York state of mind

I have been missing New York this week. I am watching the Rockefeller Center lighting of the tree on NBC right now. When I was in New York people were setting up the center for this exact event. People were moving tables at the Rockefeller Café and freezing the ground for the ice skating rink. When we were there we thought about this TV special and got excited that we were at the exact place we would soon seen on TV, and tonight I am seeing it and remembering that.
I miss the City. I miss the lights. I miss leaving one big building full of people to walk on a street full of people surrounded by big buildings. I miss that wherever you walk there is something to do or some place to go in and when there is not all you have to do is sit on a bench and people-watch for hours. I miss being in a hotel room on a very high floor and watching people in their offices coming and going and wondering about their lives. I miss wearing scarves and avoiding taxi cabs and looking in store windows. I really miss Central Park, how quiet and peaceful and lovely it is and how every type of person – tourists and locals alike – goes there. I miss looking at The Plaza. I miss The Frick. I miss walking everywhere as my main mode of transportation.
Obviously, there are things I don’t miss. I don’t miss how awfully rude New Yorkers are, especially to obvious tourists. I don’t miss empty streets or overcrowded streets. I don’t miss trusting cab drivers. I don’t miss how expensive the City is. But I miss everything else.
I love New York.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

It was good. I was SO thankful that my mom made Thanksgiving the Remix on Friday. I love her Thanksgiving cooking! It was delicious. She even gave me some broccoli casserole to take back to my apartment. Thanks, Mom!
The weekend was full of food and family and Christmas decorations and movies. It was nice to be home. I really, really miss living in San Diego. I kept asking myself why I am still in LA after five years. I still plan on moving back eventually. Hopefully after grad school, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll see what God has in store.
Anyway, I am very glad it is officially Christmas time! I love this season. I love the Christmas commercials and the store decorations and the chill in the air and the houses with Christmas lights. I love Christmas movies too, which I watch all year round, but they have more magic at Christmas time. The top two are “White Christmas” (which I watched twice this weekend) and “The Family Stone.” You have to see them both! You will be better for it. Okay, maybe not, but still…
Speaking of TV, as lame as this sounds, I watched the “TRL” Finale show over the weekend (thanks for taping it, Ash!). It was great. I had so many flashbacks to junior high and high school memories of school conversations about bands and music videos and watching TRL after school on days we knew a celebrity would be on. It was very nostalgic and fun. Plus, this weekend I watched the 4th season premier of “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I love this show! Lame, I know, and kind of embarrassing, but I love it. For everyone who knows I don’t like typical comedy, this show is my version of comedy. It’s great.
My mom and I went to the movies today and saw “Australia” which was really good. It is epic and romantic and suspenseful and involves war scenes and spears. If you still aren’t convinced you should see it, I have two words for you: Hugh Jackman. Trust me; I don’t need to say more. People Magazine was right.
P.S. I have also decided that if I can’t find a job in April I am going to be a cocktail waitress at The Palms in Las Vegas. Both Michael Phelps and George Clooney have dated cocktail waitresses from The Palms and I intend to date a celebrity too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Top 10: Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I can’t believe it is already here! Crazy how time flies… My Grandma is always telling me this and the older I get the more I believe her.
Tomorrow is my first holiday where I won’t be waking up with my family in the morning. It is a very strange feeling. I mean, I have missed birthdays before and random holidays (Halloween, anyone?), but never a REAL holiday. You know, one that matters, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. I will see my family tomorrow and end the evening back home in San Diego, but in the morning I will be in my apartment. If I didn’t believe I was an adult before tomorrow certainly marks an important moment in my adult life. I think even in spite of the craziness and dysfunction that sometimes happens when trying to get out the door on a holiday, I will definitely miss not being home in the morning.
Below is my Top 10 list of what I am thankful for this year, but as I write this a few more things crossed my mind, so before you read the list let's start with the depressing things and then end on a happy note.
The depressing note: I need to say that I am very thankful for national security because I heard about an attack at a YWAM in India toward Christians. Then I heard about the attacks in Mumbai against Westerners. It is very scary to hear about all of this and I am very thankful that I live in America. But it doesn't change that I get nervous about all of this persecution and random violence. I am SO very thankful that my Dad wasn't in Mumbai this week! He was there several weeks ago when I was in New York and I can't imagine (nor do I want to) what we all would have been thinking had this happened then. This is exactly why I need to get a passport finally. In addition to all of this international worry, I continue to hear anti-Obama comments almost daily and sometimes they are comments claiming that he is the anti-Christ. This completely freaks me out for a ton to reasons. But, tonight I watched the Obama's interview with Barbara Walters and every time I watch an interview with Obama and his wife I feel so much more confident about things. They seem to be so in love and family focused and kind. These are the traits I need to remember until I have a real reason not to (like those in India about their leaders).

The happy note: I am thankful for…
1. God’s grace, provision, guidance, and comfort. Without Him none of the above would exist or have happened. It is the Lord who has brought me this far and He will keep me going.
2. My family: Dad, Mom, and Ash (Dad for always providing for me, Mom for always comforting me, and Ash for always supporting me – note: technically, all three of you do all three of these things).
3. Grad school (lately this is the happiest aspect of my life)
4. My roommates (Ilise and Emily…I’ve realized that I never name them on my blog!)
5. Earning my undergrad degree
6. My job – mostly my co-workers and my supervisor
7. Buying my first car
8. North Coast Church
9. My house and apartment – given the fires lately I am very grateful for a safe (and standing) place to live
10. Having been blessed with incredible teachers and mentors growing up – my teaching class has been reminding me how blessed I’ve been in the classroom

Plus, I can’t help adding lame things that make me thankful including…
1. Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends” (the best are the football episode and the one with Richard’s son)
2. Chocolate
3. Ryan Seacrest’s morning show
4. Family dinner with my roommates
5. Cold days (as in 70 degrees or less…I know, some of you live in places where that is considered summer)

To Rocking Chairs

Sorry it has been almost a week since my last update! Sorry to admit, but this will probably be the case next week because of Thanksgiving and all the fun stuff I have planned for the weekend, and then I have class on Monday. I know it’s all a bit crazy…
Anyway, this is my post about one of the most wonderful weddings I have ever been to! My good friend Blake got married last Saturday and it was so beautiful. I am glad I was able to witness it. Above our pictures of Blake and I with our AC group (how we met) and one of them at the wedding. Here are beautiful pictures by Jasmine Star of their wedding and engagement.
The wedding was incredible because they are so in love and so meant to be together. They are a beautiful couple, and it felt so special because I saw them fall in love. I knew Blake as he was falling for Brittany and pursuing Brit and now they are married. I mean, I called Blake the day of his first date with Brittany and heard all about his plan and then the day after (I think) he came over to my apartment and told my roomies and I all about it! He is like my brother and I am so happy for him. Brit is one very lucky girl!
The wedding was very classy and fun. You could tell that the Lord was the center of the whole thing. The Lord, and their family and friends. They actually recorded special messages about each person in their bridal party that they played as each couple walked down the aisle. It was so kind and a great idea. Weddings are supposed to be about everyone, not just a show about the bride and groom, and that recording definitely reminded me of that! The reception was beautiful too and I got to meet Jasmine Star and her husband JD. They were so sweet and genuine! They are even nicer and friendlier then they already seem on her blog! It was great to meet them. Plus, I was able to see some other friends at the wedding, mostly my friends from Alpha, which was great. All in all it was a good time and a beautiful wedding. My prayer for the happy couple is that their wedding day is the saddest day of their lives, because that means everyday together will be even happier than their wedding day (if that is possible).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I could...just admit that this post has no point or purpose!

I want to write tonight, but I don’t know what about. I want to be profound and poetic, but have writers’ block.
I could tell you about my day. I could tell you about my really, really crappy yesterday. I could tell you that I love grad school but hate homework. I could tell you I am nervous about the wedding I am going to on Saturday for a variety of reasons. I could tell you that I hate that it is 90 degrees at the end of November. I could tell you how crazy I think it is that it actually is the end of November and a week away from Thanksgiving.
I could write about how I am watching “Grey’s Anatomy” right now and am glad the show is finally starting to get good, like it used to be. I could mention that McSteamy couldn’t be any cuter than he is in this episode because he is so gentle with the little girl in tonight’s episode. I could mention that I am glad Denny is back even if I don’t understand how or why. I could mention that Izzy is at her best as a character and an actress when Denny is around and she portrays the feeling that one is going crazy in a very believable way. I could also mention that I really like Lexie.
I could tell you about the articles I have read recently and the lovely blog posts. I could tell you about the single woman Thanksgiving article, the funny top 20 choosing a spouse advice article, the great interview about Stephanie Nielson’s house from another blog author I like, the blog post about the sad economy and what someone thinks it means for a person in their 20s and how nervous I am about all of that.
I could also mention that my roommates are amazing, my family supportive, my brain my worst enemy right now, schooling the best part of my week, and boredom the most annoying.
That is all for tonight. Forgive the ramble. Forgive the honesty. Forgive me. But know that I am fine and enjoying the fact that I have a blog where I can rant. :)
(picture/quote from this blog).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Man of my dreams?

Is it weird that two nights ago I dreamed about this man? He is Obama’s newly chosen Chief of Staff. I guess it happened because I have been trying to read all I can about him. Not sure why exactly, except to say that I find him interesting.
I first read about him in Newsweek during the primaries and thought he sounded intimidating and mean, but he was also described as a family man and a loyal friend, so that perked my interest. Then, last week, I read another Newsweek article and a New Yorker article and a piece in the New York Times all about him. He is so well known and distinctive in DC that there was even a character modeled after him in “The West Wing.” In fact, his brother is a Hollywood agent and has a character from “Entourage” based on him. Emmanuel worked in the Clinton administration. He can be angry and persuasive and aggressive. He is known as a man who gets things done in DC. Liberals have been quoted saying they are surprised by Obama’s pick because Emmanuel is very “pro-Israel.” This same statement makes some conservatives a bit relieved about Obama’s politics. Emmanuel also studied ballet and was offered a full ride to do so, plus, he lost half his middle finger in an accident in high school.
I don’t know. I am just so into politics lately, which isn’t really new, but it has been more of my focus lately. And part of that focus has been on reading about Emmanuel, so I am guessing that is why he was in my dream. But it is weird right?
I dreamed about Justin Timberlake once and have to admit, that dream was much more enjoyable!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The value of simplicity

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” ~ Psalm 46:10-11


Sometimes simple is better.
I was reminded of the value of simplicity this afternoon. I had a rough afternoon and needed to calm down and my wise and wonderful mom said, “Come and learn to sew on a button.” Typically, I would roll my eyes and walk away, but I was desperate and emotional, so I nodded and sat down next to her. As I watched her pull the needle and thread back and forth and back and forth and back and forth I thought about how simplicity brings a sense of peace. Simple things bring a sense of calm and comfort and rhythm and routine. Watching my mom I was able to focus on something repetitive and let my mind wrap around that small act. I was able to put aside stressful and anxious thoughts and simply take a deep breath and mellow. It was just what I needed.
On my drive back to my other home (my apartment) I thought about other simple, everyday, taken for granted acts. I thought about the simplicity of cooking. When you cook you are in control and following a recipe step by step, one thing after another, with all energy focused on what is in that pot or bowl or pan. Just like in sewing on a button, all of your energy and concentration is focused on one thing and you are using your hands and your brain, occupying your whole body.
Cooking and sewing are the basics of life and there’s a reason those acts sustain us and make up are days. They are skills that help people survive and stay nourished and clothed, but they are also acts that calm and sustain the human soul. A bit of routine and repetition and the sense of accomplishing something.
Sometimes focusing on the little things – the basics – gets us to the big picture. If we focus on the immediate details the future just sort of works itself out. You get there and realize you took the needed steps and ended up where you needed to be. Simplicity boils things down to the necessities, and there is comfort in that. I am in a state where the future makes me anxious, for a variety of reasons, but being responsible just for today, that helps…a lot. It reminded me of that verse when the Lord says, “be still, and know that I am God.” He meets us in the quiet and calms our heart. We just have to be still and remember how big God is and how present He is at the same time.
Whenever I am overwhelmed my mom asks me, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” And that is what she reminded me of today while sewing on a button. Thanks, Mom. I needed that, almost as much as I need you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I love country music!

In the past, I sometimes hid this fact because some people don’t consider country music the kind of music that talented and smart musicians are fans of, and, as a singer, I didn’t want to be judged. But I am over that now. This is me publicly and unapologetically admitting that I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC! Now go watch the CMA’s.
Country musicians are legitimately talented, there is no doubt. It just has a bad reputation for being that “old sounding, whining music about your dead dog, the end of a relationship, drinking, and America.” But it is so much more than that, just as all other kinds of music. If you don’t believe me, watch the opening song of the CMA’s tonight. It was a duet between Brad Paisley and Keith Urban for the song “Start a Band.” They are incredible on the guitar! It was great. Plus, it got me thinking…Brad and Keith have a lot in common because they are both talented “country boys” who married Hollywood beauties who seemed an odd match and out of their league, but so far it seems to have worked out. Too bad Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger can’t say the same. The beautiful Reese Witherspoon was also in the audience at the CMA’s, and as much as I like her and Jake Gyllenhaal together, maybe she should get her own “country boy” and join the club. :) I love to match-make celebrities.
If you are watching the CMA’s here are some names to pay attention too:
Brad Paisley
Carrie Underwood
Kenny Chesney
Keith Urban
Martina McBride
Miranda Lambert
Taylor Swift

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Student Stories: Part Two

(This is one of my high school graduation pictures. Please let me know if anyone pictured feels uncomfortable being photographed on my blog. I am still learning the protocol about posting pictures of all kinds, especially of friends and family).
Last night was the first night of my new class. I loved it. Apparently this whole grad school thing really works for me! I highly recommend it, and just for the record, it is SO much better than undergrad! I decided to switch classes at the last minute and am now in class with some of the people I most enjoyed from my Ethics class. This new class is all about teaching adults. It focuses on adult education in the classroom as well as teaching in the workplace. I am sure by the end of this term I will want to be a teacher. It has always been a Plan B option, but after this class it might be Plan A…we’ll see/
Part of last night’s class involved a lengthy discussion about what (and when) determines adulthood. We are going to discuss this more next week and look over some “criteria,” but as of last night it seems many in class, and the professor, believe (as most) that adulthood begins at 18. I see the reasoning for this, but don’t agree. I think adulthood begins at 16. It begins when a person starts their junior year and gets their drivers’ license. Sixteen is the age that books and movies and TV shows are about. In fact, tonight’s “90210” (yes, I watch it…and like it) is about a sweet 16 party. This is the age society highlights and I also think that by bringing attention to it, society inadvertently decides it is the “coming of age” age; it is the start of adulthood. Yes, 16 to 18 year olds are young adults, but adults none-the-less.
In my own life, 16 was the age where everything began to change and move me toward adulthood. I (eventually) got my license, started speaking up for myself (and my religion) in class, decided on my college major (thanks, Mom), was allowed more independence, spent time with five incredible teachers who allowed me to become the woman I am, and other melodramatic-sounding events that don’t need to be added to this already long list. You get the point.
In class I just kept thinking that many of the aspects of adult education should be applied to high school upperclassmen as well. I know from my own education that when you treat high school students with respect and not assumptions, and you (as the teacher) view yourself as more of a facilitator than a teacher, students will learn and engage on a deeper level. Students just need people to believe in them and see them the way they try, in their best moments, to see themselves, which is typically as an adult. High school students are dealing with just as many issues and insecurities as your average freshman and sophomore in college, maybe even as many as a college senior. Age does not have to determine wisdom or experience.
I don’t know, maybe some would argue that college students aren’t even fully adults. I couldn’t really blame them considering that last night I was part of an alumni panel at senior chapel and APU’s senior class thought a person saying “drink it up” about taking in senior year was a chance to laugh about alcohol. But, one could also point out, that some people just never grow up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holidays remind me of family

"Live close by, visit often." ~Unknown


Family is something that is very important to me. There is the family you were born into and the one you make for yourself. Both are special and important. Family (either created or given) can makes a person feel safe and loved and missed when away. It makes a person crazy and angry and sad, but also happy and full of laughter and so, so safe. It is a beautiful thing (which helps explain why “The Family Stone” is one of my favorite movies and why “Brothers & Sisters” is one of my favorite TV shows).
I have been thinking about my future lately and what I hope my life looks like someday. I have many pictures in my head of what this may be, but this weekend the vision was of family. It seems funny and very unlike me, but I want a home of safe chaos. The kind that you get when you combine many personality types and busy schedules. It is chaotic because there are so many people and kids everywhere and lots of voices and laughter, but safe because it is a gathering of people who love one another regardless. I want a house full of memories and laughter and love. Full of “family” (whether that is my kids and husband, good friends, my parents, etc.) dinners and sleepovers and weekend adventures of movie marathons or road trips. I want church on the weekends and a home where people come for good conversation, distraction, and a safe place to stay.
Things happened all weekend that reminded me of this one dream of mine. First of all I was home for the weekend with my family and today randomly drove to Seal Beach and Norwalk to see both my Nana and Grandma with my family. I also celebrated my “nephew’s” first birthday. It was so fun and beautiful to see a house full of people who love the Lord and love Matthew. It reminded me that it is a wonderful thing to live near family and close friends. It was a house full of families and it was great. I also bumped into a former teacher of mine and saw a movie with her and my mom and sister. Sitting between Mrs. G. and my mom felt so safe and nostalgic. I was in between two women who shaped so much of whom I am today. It reminded me that moments like that are why I try so hard to keep in touch with old friends, who just so happen to also be my high school teachers. The movie we all saw together was “The Secret Life of Bees,” which was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.
This movie was the biggest inspiration for my “future home dream” this weekend because the family in the movie just adopts everyone who needs a place to be. They nurture people back to life and give them a safe, stable environment to finding who they are supposed to be. It is a big house full of people and stories and memories and love. Just the pink house alone speaks of refuge and love. It was an incredible story. Go see it, and go with the people you consider family. I was also inspired by this blog post because of the description of her family and how dependent they all are on one another and how much love they all share. This blog (which I’ve mentioned before) in general speaks of the love of family, but the post made me smile and begin to dream.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Only the Lord can "change"

Thank you for your prayers and comments (both personally and on this blog) about my tough week. I am still struggling emotionally and mentally and trying to be strong spiritually, but I have faith in the Lord my protector and the lover of my soul. I also have encouragement in the people close to me and a new, bigger, sense of family. Trials remind you that the Lord is strong and forgiving and trials show you who loves you in a very real, God sent, way. For all of this I am thankful, even though I am fighting back tears as I write this.


In other news, it was just announced that Obama is the 44th President. I’m not even sure what to say. There are things that excite me about this and things that make me scared, especially as a Christian. Politics is a dirty and complicated business and I pray that the Lord is the true “change” in DC over the next four years. It will be nice to see two cute little girls grow up in the White House. Obama being the President will also (hopefully) change and improve race relations in this country. Women will also have more rights in the next government, of which I am obviously a big fan. But, Christians and Christian ideals may be more persecuted and innocent babies will be killed in larger and more legal numbers.
The beauty of today is that everyone who voted had something in common. A common right, a common energy, a common purpose. That is a beautiful thing. Today is a day for the history books in a very big way. Despite politics, you ca say that you were alive when a black man became President of the United States. But, I have to ask myself, what happened to the votes of the west? McCain’s speech was less than 30 minutes after CA polls stopped voting. I’d at least like to think that the West’s votes count for something. At least voting in CA was not a complete waste considering the importance of Prop 8 (which ever way you vote). But, the fact that we can vote is a very incredible thing. And, as my pastor, my mom, and my boss have all reminded me, no matter who won, God is still in control. Lord, be with us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The terrible, horrible, no good very bad...week.

It has been a really, really rough week. I am emotionally empty. My own thoughts are making me crazy. Plus, stress other than my own thoughts participated in a tough week. I worked overtime this week, had a performance review at work, had my last class, rushed through all my homework for my class, celebrated my roommate getting a job and not having to move out, had to deal with money stress, and had to cope with Halloween, because I HATE Halloween, so that alone would have made this week tough. Needless to say, I am praying that this week is better because even today was hard. This week I will be seeing friends and doing some other proactive things to help my emotional (and mental) well-being. But, it is very important to look at one’s blessings when things feel like they are spinning out of control and you can no longer fix it. So, this past week I was blessed because:
~ my family is always there for me, helping me when I need it, no questions asked.
~ Ilise got a job and doesn’t have to move!
~ I have the world’s most incredible supervisor who loves the Lord in such an obvious way and was a great source of prayer and encouragement for me when I lost it in her office on Wednesday.
~ I am starting a new class next week with a few of my favorite people from my last class who I thought I wouldn’t be able to be in class with again.
~ I was vulnerable with my roommates and they were completely there for me.
~ I was reminded that the Lord will never let me go, even when I am scared and far away, and that when I draw near to Him, He draws near to me.
Consider all your blessings when life seems to be running you into the ground. And remember that the Lord can handle ANYTHING you throw at Him.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Girly Silliness

So my roommates and I have been discussing a list we heard about on Ryan Seacrest’s morning show. First, let me say that every morning is better when began with “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” on KIIS fm. It cracks me up all the way to work and makes me wish I had a longer commute! You know it will be a good day when you close the door of your car while laughing (that was me this morning).
Anyway, the list is “41 Ways to Melt a Woman’s Heart” and tonight we read the list over dinner and had some girl talk. Just to add a little cute awkward laughter to your day, here is the list…with a few edits (hey, my family read this blog!):

1. Ask her to dance.

2. On windy days, brush wayward strands of hair from her eyes and mouth.

3. When she’s coming down the street, across the room, or up the stairs to meet you, walk towards her as soon as you see her.

5. Put your arm around her when you introduce her to your friends and family.

6. Grasp her hand when a scantily dressed, beautiful woman walks by.

7. Call her when you’re feeling sad.

8. Kiss her eyelids.

9. Ask to see a picture of her when she was a child.

11. If she’s crying on the phone, go over to her place. Immediately.

13. Occasionally call her by her first and middle names.

14. Buy her your favorite rock album of all time on vinyl.

15. Order coffee for her, remembering exactly how she likes it.

16. Undress her and put her to bed when she falls asleep in the car.

17. Mention your upcoming anniversary before she does.

18. Send her something in the mail. Anything.

19. When she’s feeling insecure, stare into her eyes and tell her there is no one in the world who could be as right for you as she is.

20. Call her just before you get on the plane.

21. Pick her clothes up off the floor.

22. Try desperately to make her laugh when she’s feeling down.

23. Take her to see your favorite sport live. Pay more attention to her than to the game.

24. Touch her arm when you leave the table to go to the bathroom. Touch her again when you come back.

25. Shave just before you see her. She’ll notice.

26. Hug her when she gets jealous. Hug her hard.

28. Give her jewelry.

30. Ask her specific questions about her work.

31. Keep her favorite cereal on hand.

32. In the middle of a conversation, tell her you love her.

33. Send her very expensive flowers when you screw up.

34. Take her to a cabin with a fireplace. Build her a fire.

36. Read her a story when it’s her turn to drive during a long road trip.

37. Offer to fix something at her place that you realize is broken.

38. Notice when she’s wearing something new.

40. Kiss her hand in front of your most die-hard bachelor buddies.

So, what are your favorite numbers? Mine are numbers 19 and 20.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Student stories

Tonight I finished my first grad school class, Ethics in Organizational Leadership. Writing that sentence feels pretty good, I must admit. I also must admit that I cried on my way home. I’m sad this class is over. Sad because the topic was interesting and we didn’t have any weekly homework, but mostly, I am sad to leave my group of peers from this class. The central group was a pack of six or so who have gone through the program together. They are almost done and I doubt I’ll have a class with them again because my program is just beginning. I will miss their friendliness, their laughter, and their familiarity with one another. I will really miss hearing certain people’s opinions, because a couple of them just caught my full attention every time with their wise words and balanced perspectives. I am also bummed because my friend from undergrad is dropping the program and I will really miss her. Plus, my co-worker friend and I probably won’t be any more classes together (she is in the group I mentioned). But, what is exciting is knowing that in six more classes I could be the student who laughs it up with her peers. Knowing that we have all been on this academic journey. That is the beauty of the classroom experience.
So, what did I learn in this class? I learned that for all my open-minded, devil's advocate, accepting mumbo jumbo, I really am a black and white, duty driven, responsibility-led person, or at least that type of leader. This class showed me that yes, I am open-minded and attempt to learn (and hear) from everyone, but when it comes to my personal ethics I know what I believe and what my course of action is and the reasons for my moral standards. What surprised and sort of disappointed me is that I really am a boring, duty-driven person! I want to be situational and "live in the moment," but I am not. I do have responsibilities and I really do make them my priority. But what I have learned -not because of this class but actually since moving out of my parents' house - is that my responsibilities may make me a bit more boring and stable, but it also means that I know what is important to me and what lines I am willing to cross. I have been attempting to cross these lines since I was 18. It is my attempt at rebellion, but it isn't. It simply means that I am figuring out what standards and opinions and behaviors are important to my moral framework and what parts are not.
It must have been a pretty great class to have put all those pieces together! I will miss it. I hope I don't choke up every nine weeks with another ended term!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leave your old jalopy by the railroad tracks

I am having big thoughts about the economy and the state of the country (and the world) at present. I just keep thinking about the 1930s and the Great Depression. Every time I think about the economy that is exactly where my mind goes. I see Steinbeck. I picture jalopies, empty houses, big families traveling across the country together, new communities of people packed in tiny houses begging for work with the start of a new day, and lots and lots of fruit trees (this whole sentence should prove to both Ms. Le and Dr. Bentz that I did take away something from “The Grapes of Wrath”).
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I am being a bit dramatic and thinking the worst. You also made me wondering what the heck is a jalopy?! But, my thoughts of the original Great Depression simply remind me that people survived then and we will survive now. People never know how strong they are until they face adversity, and if the numbers are correct, we are about to face it. In the 1930’s people grew their own food, let go of extravagances, and patched their clothes. They had to move to new places and rely on strangers. They learned very quickly what really matters in life and that loved one are the reason to get up every morning and put on a brave face. These people survived. We will too.

P.S. Any one who can name what song and movie this blog title came from gets major props!
"The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it." ~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." ~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

(photo credit here)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

That is how to describe this week and the one that begins tomorrow (I don’t know why, but I always start the week on Mondays). Work is crazy busy and this week will be incredibly so! I think I’ll be working late at least part of the week. I’ve already been starting at 7:30 to get a head start all week.
I found out last Tuesday that my class ends this Tuesday. I thought I had two weeks left to cram in the whole term’s work, but no, I had a week! Tonight I finished all the work (and attempted to learn APA style). I am exhausted. It has been nine months since I’ve had to cram for homework! Such a long vacation from school…kinda want it back…kinda.
I also spent the weekend with my Grandma. It was nice. We looked through a lot of old pictures, but there are still four more drawers to clean out and a cabinet full of photo albums (the drawers just have stacks of individual photos)! I love looking at all the black and white pictures. It is so fun to hear my Grandma’s stories about her friends and my Grandpa and stories about my Dad and his sisters. I have some great childhood pictures of my Dad to bring home to my family in a couple weeks. Plus, a great one of my grandparent’s from the 60’s! My grandma has an almost beehive! It is hilarious.
One of the most interesting things about looking at all my Grandma’s pictures was that we found two pictures of a big group of her friends from when she and my Grandpa were first married. It reminded me of my post about a social circle because even my Grandma had that one solid group who did stuff every weekend and went away for vacations together. It is so interesting that this social circle exists in every generation. My parents had their group when they were in their twenties and my grandparents did too. Very interesting. I wonder when mine will come… I talked about this need for a group with two of my best friends from high school this week. They are feeling the void too. We all are. We used to be each other’s group. I miss those days. I think we all might…at least a little. My sister and I (and my mom) agree that the way to this new group is by joining a church. Sadly, the one I feel most comfortable at – and is my home church – is in Vista and too far away to plant roots in at this point in my life. We’ll see what happens. I am praying about it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

I am writing from home in San Diego tonight and am very happy to be doing so. It is strange how during this transitional period of my life I somehow live in two places. I have my apartment and I have my parents' house. Both feel familiar and offer two totally different routines and habits. The thing is, though, I love my San Diego home more. It is my "real home" no matter how much I try to adapt in my apartment. At the end of the day, San Diego is where I want to be. It is nice to be home. Nice to be with my family, no matter how dysfunctional we are or how often we remind each other of that fact. It is still the place I'd rather fall asleep at night and wake up to in the morning.
I love coming home after a few weeks of being away because everything seems so much more beautiful and nostalgic. I love to run errands because every street is familiar and every place holds a memory. I don't feel like a stranger here, I don't have to keep pushing myself to do new things. I am in my comfort zone, my safety net. Plus, there is the smell and sight of the ocean and my really great church. It doesn't get much better than that. Don't get me wrong, for the next few years of my life I am satisfied to spend my time in my apartment with my roommates enjoying my job and pursuing my grad degree. It is a decision I do not regret and intend to keep. Part of the magic and comfort of coming home to my house is because I don't live here anymore. It is no longer something I take for granted, and without my apartment and moving away that never would have happened. I'm just trying to say that when all is said and done Dorothy was right, "there's no place like home."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bloggers with Heart

The blogger world – or “blogspehere” as some call it – has a heart. A BIG heart. I read blogs (almost) daily and I have come across several blog writers (from magazine columnists to photographers) who are writing and financially supporting a fellow blogger. Her name is Stephanie Nielson and she and her husband, Christian, were seriously injured in a private plane crash in August of this year. This couple (and the blog) has also been highlighted in the New York Times.
I have recently become a reader of Stephanie’s blog, the Nie Nie Dialogues, and have also began reading her sister’s blog, C Jane Enjoy It, to get to know their family better and get updates on the recovery. Both sisters have very entertaining and pro-family blogs. Many people who are supporting and reading Stephanie’s blog have commented on the fact that Stephanie makes women want to be better mothers and wives. She inspires them to be better “homemakers” in all senses of the word. If you know me at all you know that this type of inspiration is generally not something I am inspired by, but these blogs have caught my attention. They are definitely worth a read and seeing the blog community come together has been an inspiration all in itself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Top 10: Gilmore Girls

I want to live in Star’s Hollow! A place with town festivals for every season and weekly community meetings (or are they monthly?). Where every neighbor knows your name and your story. A city that has no crime, one stop light and you can leave your doors unlocked at night. I want to eat at Luke’s every day and walk to the market and sit in the center of town under the gazebo. Plus, you never know when Jess might show up!

In case it is still unclear to you, we have been watching a LOT of Gilmore Girls lately. Actually, all the seasons have been on repeat since May. We know, it is a little excessive. It is just so witty and charming and enjoyable!

Here are my top 10 favorite episodes (and some clips!):

1. Sookie’s wedding.

2. Rory moves into Yale.
3. Jess drops in on Rory’s weekend alone.
4. The win a date and lunch picnic.

5. The Life and Death Brigade jump.
6. The Dragonfly test run weekend.
7. The night Jess shows up and asks Rory to run away with him.
8. When Rory visits Jess in New York.
9. When Lorelai and Luke break up (the first time) and she leaves him a very pathetic – uncharacteristic – “come back” message.

10. (a moment not an episode) Lorelai dreams she and Luke are having twins (before they are ever a couple).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Isn't It Romantic?

If I get married I hope...

to be this in love after seven years of marriage.

and this in love after 20 years.

to have a love story as "meant to be" as this.

to have a committed marriage as well known, respected, and admired as these two love birds.

and with any luck I will be married to him.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wanted: A Social Circle

Today is a day of big thoughts. I have spent most of my day being nostalgic and discussing life with Em. Tonight she reminded of what I wish to remember everyday, which is that the first year out of college is the toughest transition. I am in the biggest transition year; some say it is the biggest of your life, which also means it is one of the hardest. The strangest thing is that I am almost out of my transition year, so it will be interesting to see what changes happen afterward.
My most difficult transition is the lack of a support system. I have been having a hard time since I graduated with feeling like I have friends, not causal friends because I have those and should actually spend more time with them, but I am missing strong, deep, “best” friends. What I am really missing is a friend group. That is my problem. I felt this as an undergrad too, but was so busy I didn’t have time to really dwell on it. I had friends in college – many of them very good friends – but no group. I only had one-on-one friendships, which I admit, those are much easier for me because I don’t have to be so out-going and can cultivate deep conversations, which I love. However, now I am really missing a group. I think I miss it so much because I actually knew what it was to be a group in high school.
In high school I had a solid group of girlfriends who I spent every minute with at school and then hung out with every weekend as well. We spent at least six days a week together. Every Friday was full of making plans for that night or the next day. It was a great life. A busy and full life, but busy and full in the best possible way, the kind where you’re busy shuffling from one fun activity to the next. I don’t have weekend plans these days. I don’t have a set group who I can call up and five of us can go to the movies or dinner or have a sleepover. I am still a busy person and I still have some friends, but none of them know the others. I want a steady group of friends. I want a defined social circle and support system back. My roommates feel very similarly and I have been told this is a very normal feeling for my demographic. The biggest question we all seem to have is where to find those people to start that group?
I remember this T.A. I met back in high school who told me he wanted to write a book about how difficult the transition is for people who just got out of college. I remember telling him that the hardest transition was leaving high school and the first year of college. I still stand by that answer in the sense that during that year of my life (my first year out of high school) I was more lonely, depressed, unhappy, and hopeless than I have ever been and ever want to be again. However, I would say that this time of transition, the first year out of college, is the most socially empty. I am more secure in who I am and what I am doing, but I don’t have that group to experience it alongside me. I am envious of the TV shows that depict that group, from “One Tree Hill” to “Friends” to “Sex and the City.” I don’t believe this is a media fairytale either, because my own parents met their core group of friends around my age and spent the next ten years (give or take) making plans and hanging out with them. Many people cultivate their own social circles and that is what sustains their 20s and usually goes on to be the same group of people they raise their families and grow old together with. I just want to know when my will begin and how I find it. I guess we’ll all just have to have faith and wait and see…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I heart NY

Sorry I dropped the ball on more NY updates. All that is really important is that I had an incredible time. Here is an excerpt from my journal about NY:
Describe New York. Describe New York? It is intimidating and homey all at the same time. Intimidating because there are people, cabs, and buildings everywhere. There are smells and noises and languages whizzing around you loudly. Walk into a cathedral on the corner, hear the religious silence. Walk out and realize how jolting-ly loud the city is. There are times I am walking so closely to people I want to scream in frustration. There are times I feel uneasy walking down a block and wish I was among a crowd.
NYC is homey because the city speaks to me. We are soul mates. The kind that challenges one another and pushes each other to our limits, yet understand one another to the core of our beings in a way that constantly inspires, refreshes, and teaches. We have a love/hate relationship. We bring the best and worst out of each other. I love NY for its magic. It “had me at hello.” I love the tall buildings that house offices, apartments, and hotels of all types. I love that you can walk so many places and can (almost) always grab a cab on any street to get anywhere. I love that it is the center of the media the way LA is the center of the film industry. I love that locals don’t react when they see a celebrity pass by. I love Central Park, even though I’ve only explored 100ft. of it. I love the way the city smells and how I wish it had a volume control button and how it really is the city that never sleeps in the sense that someone is always awake, walking, driving, or working.
It is my soul mate because I can people watch, eavesdrop, and observe all the time. It is my soul mate because it challenges me to be brave and makes me hit what I believe is my limit, but then I grow. Everyday is a marathon in NYC. Everyday is survival of the fittest. Everyday is forcing you to know who you are or drown in negativity and apathy and the speed of life. In forcing survival it tells you who you are and asks you to evaluate that. It demands you stay grounded in your foundation, but remain flexible to change in order to foster growth. It is one big challenge course on its own island game show.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New York Part Two

I am so exhausted I hardly know how or what to write! So much has happened. Let's start from where we last left off. On Monday (Day Two) after we rested at the hotel...
- went to Alfredo's for dinner, which is one of Dad's favorite places, but Mom saw a mouse...THREE times, so we had to leave after only receiving Dad's salad.
- then, we went to St. Barts (our old favorite restaurant), which is no longer St. Barts, but is this awful gourmet-type place. It was empty and we couldn't understand the menu and the food was no good. I had vegetable wheat, for example. The whole evening was pretty much a disaster. :(
Day Three:
- went to the MET and had a delightful and delicious lunch there. The art was wonderful. We spent most of our time in the 18-19th century European paintings wing.
- went to Serendipity but didn't stay to eat because we realized we were running out of time before our next plans.
- went to a market and got Dad some cheese and bought some stuff for breakfast this morning.
- went to dinner at a yummy seafood restaurant
- went to see All My Sons. It was fantastic! I loved it, which was great because that was what I was most looking forward to about the trip. It starred John Lithgow, Diane Weist, Patrick Wilson (from "Evening" and "Little Children"), and Katie Holmes. I even got Patrick Wilson's autograph afterward while we waited to see the cast leave. :)
- then Mom and I had a quick drink and a nice chat in the hotel bar.
Day 4: (today)
- met Dad and a co-worker for lunch at SAKS.
- went to the bank.
- in the taxi on the way to The Frick we passes Anne Hathaway getting out of an SUV! She is much thinner in person and her smile gave her away. She was beautiful. It was very cool. :)
- went to The Frick museum, which is me and Mom's favorite. It is an art collection at Frick's house!
- then said hello to my favorite house a block over from The Frick.
- walked up to The Whitney museum. It was way too modern and terrible, except for a Jackie O piece by Andy Warhol. We got free admission from the head of security thanks to a work friend of my parents, but in finding him the two ticket guys were rude and awful and treated us like we were undeserving and dirt poor and disgusting for "cheating the system." People in NY really are a rude as you hear. This has just been one example of many that have happened and I'm still here for another week.
- Now we are back in the lounge of our hotel and going to our room to relax before dinner.
I miss how nice and laid back people are in Cali. I also miss how no one really looks you up and down in a way that is obvious and disdainful. California are way nicer!
More later. Hope all is well.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hello from NYC!

I am writing from the Hilton's computer in the Executive lounge. I only have 15 minutes, so I'll do my best to give you an update of the past two days! We made it to NY safely (thank you, Jesus)! The flight was fine. I am so happy to be back in The City (miss you SO much sis!). Yesterday we arrived in our hotel and then went to Ben Benson's steakhouse, then walked around a bit and went to the room and slept. We were on NY time right away last night because we woke up so early to catch the plane (3:30am for me!). Today Dad worked and Mom and I played in The City. Here is what we have done so far (in order):
- visited St. Thomas Episcopal Church where we unintentionally "attended" (aka eavesdropped) the memorial service of Tad Mosel (thanks to Google here is his obituary:,0,1513137.story).
- then walked around Rockafeller Center
- visited the American Girl Store
- has lunch at SAKS (so yummy! And the best part about sitting at the restaurant is the views of gardens on top of buildings, they are so beautiful).
- attended part of 12:30 Mass at St. Patrick's
- went to the GAP (of course)
- bought yummy chocolate at the Lindt store
- bought pictures from sidewalk sellers by the Park
- sat in Central Park (pictures to come)
- visited the newly re-opened Plaza hotel
- went to a local drug store and bought somethings we needed
Now we are back at the hotel and will go out tonight for dinner when Dad gets off work. We are exhausted but having a nice time and in love with NYC.

I'll write more later. Hope all is well in Cali!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New York, New York

“I’m a New Yorker, fear’s my life.” ~ “Rent”

“Don’t you just love New York in the fall?” ~ “You’ve Got Mail”

“New York. He’s on his way to New York.” ~ “Sleepless in Seattle”

“New York, New York what a wonderful town!” ~ “On the Town”

Goodbye for two weeks, friends! I am leaving for New York City on Sunday morning. I am so excited! New York is one of my favorite cities. I love it. I even have a dream of living there for at least a year someday, but we’ll see what God’s plans are.

I could definitely use your prayers because I HATE to travel, especially fly. It is so hard for me and takes a lot of prayer and courage. I know that once I land in NYC I will be okay. I’ve been reading my bible for comfort this week and praying a lot specifically about the trip. The verse that continues to bring me comfort is Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In addition to that verse, I found a relating quote in Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies (read it!). It says, “(Marge) said, ‘You just give it all to God. You just give it all to the Boss. We used to say in the South, if you pray, don’t worry, and if you worry, don’t pray.” So, every time I worry I stop myself and remember that I can’t pray and worry, I can only worry or pray, and I would be crazy not to choose prayer. The Lord has never let me down and my life is His, not my own, no matter how much I try to ignore that fact.

The first time I ever went to The City was October 2003. I was a senior and was so excited but didn’t know what to expect. Would it be like it is in the movies? Would be too overwhelming? Would I get lost? Would it be too intimidating? Yes was the answer to all of the above questions, well, surprisingly, not really the lost question. I find my way around The City pretty well (thank goodness for the number grid layout). The taxi ride was crazy, but as soon as we drove out of the massive tunnel between JFK airport and Manhattan I looked up and saw the Empire State Building so welcoming with its lights shining from the night sky. When I saw it, and took it all in, I cried. That is when NYC and I literally fell in love. And that was it. No matter how many people there are, or how many blocks I have to walk in a hurry, or how many intimidating vendors there are, or how sometimes walking back at night can be a bit worrisome, The City has my heart. I heart NY.

“New York City. New York absorbs everything and nothing. In New York time stands still yet moves so fast you can barely keep up with it. In New York you’re young, but you’re old too, you’re reckless and wise, you’re innocent and you’re knowing. Every time I step outside in this city I feel the same excitement I did when I first got here. New York City, it assumes nothing, yet demands everything that you can possibly give. Living in New York – it’s like falling in love.” ~ “The Bedford Diaries”

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Danger and Bonding

This postcard from Post Secret ( reminded me of what I was thinking about last night. My sister and roommates and I all went to the Santa Monica Pier last night. It sounds like a great and fun time, but I was a bit of a complainer and a “fun sucker.” I just always think about the things that could go wrong, rather than just live in the here and now. Some would say my heightened sense of danger is a good thing. It keeps me out of trouble, keeps things safe, and keeps me aware of my surroundings. However, it can also be a bad thing when enjoying a night with loved ones on what was supposed to be an adventure becomes a time of fear and anxiousness. The best part of the night was the van ride there. I love riding in the car with friends blasting music and laughing. I just wish I could embrace adventure a bit more and ignore the fear that tends to creep up at the most unfortunate times.

In other news, I had a GREAT time with my sister this weekend!

“[With my sister], our relationship has grown and is changing. When we were growing up, I didn’t really have a choice … I lived four feet away from her, so love her or hate her — she was there. But when you get older, it’s your decision how many times you pick up the phone, and that’s what’s a little scary about growing up, is that your relationships, especially with your family, become less defined and it’s more up to you to define them.”
~ America Ferrera in “Seventeen Magazine” Oct. 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Demonizing the Polls

I am so tired of the demonization in politics. I am tired of the right and the left and the mudslinging and the over-reacting and the misinterpreting and the lies and the empty promises. Thank the Lord this only happens every four years, because it is awful and depressing! It is bad enough that the economy is in shambles and that hurricanes keep striking, but to have spent the last 500 days listening to debates is making everything worse.
What really bothers is me is how much both sides demonize and belittle the other. It is not just one type of group either; it is everyone from the politicians themselves, to the journalists, to my neighbor or co-worker or friend, or my sister’s friend’s uncle’s cousin. It is EVERYBODY. The irony is that if the members of the feuding sides actually sat down and talked over coffee they would see much they have in common and how similar the themes of their lives have been. We can all learn something from the person who is yelling at us loudest in the opposite direction. Every member of society has a good side and a bad side. We are not stereotypes or caricatures, we are human beings. We have stories.
One of my best friends is the complete opposite of me religiously and politically and yet one of the things that keep us connected is our differences and our respect for our differences. We can sit down and discuss and debate the liberalness of her ideas and the conservativeness of my religion and the best part is that we both come away from the conversation smarter and more open than before. We learn so much from the other because there is honesty and trust there to be open. We have this because we respect and love one another. We are sharing ideas and beliefs and stories not to convince the other that we are more right, but to show and explain more about ourselves and why we are the way we are. She and I have learned how to ask one another tough questions about the stereotypes the media, critics, and politicians have placed on our race, religion, and political party. We have come to learn a lot from each other in seeing that stereotypes are not always the whole story and we are more open-minded and patient with that which we don’t agree because of our talks. She (and her dad) has shown me such kindness and respect and openness that they have become my favorite people to discuss politics, social issues, and religion with. They make me feel validated because of my beliefs even though they don’t agree with most of them at all. This is what I love about going to their home. I love how they are open minded enough to accept me for my different opinions and actually listen to me in a way that allows us to discuss my opinions without debating them.
The world needs relationships like the one Kiigan and I have together. We all need to remember that there are people behind those blanketed stereotypes and that if we really knew one another we wouldn’t be so harsh or seem so opposite. We may not agree or vote the same way or attend the same church or live in the same neighbor, but we respect one another for the reasons and experiences behind our given label.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wedding Gowns and Laundry Detergent

Oh how life changes and passes so quickly. I spoke with a friend recently and they mentioned how fast life went before they were twenty and then how much faster it went from 20 to 40, and I think I’m (relatively) slowing starting to see what my friend meant. Sometimes I am just so surprised by how surreal my life seems. I don’t know, maybe it sounds stupid or naïve to some because they wonder what is really so different about my life than it was a couple of years ago and maybe others just think “grow up and move on,” but I am surprised. There are days when I am in my kitchen or making my bed or doing laundry or driving to work in my car or sitting at work or walking to my class when the status of my life just hits me. It can seem so surreal to me at times that I don’t live at home, or even in the same city. It hits me that my name is on the lease of my apartment…and my car. It hits me that I can load the dishwasher a new way (dependent on my roomies) and that I have to decide what kind of Tide to use in my laundry. It hits me that my weekends are full of quick trips to my family’s house or peaceful – sometimes very boring – weekends at my apartment where I can literally spend the whole weekend reading and watching movies. I am just taken by surprise at my “adult” status in life sometimes. Does that ever happen to you? Does it ever happen that you are surprised by the contents and routines of your own life?
I reflect on the above a lot, but it all hit again in a big way this past weekend at Amy’s wedding reception. Driving to the reception at the church I attended during some pivotal years in high school brought back so many memories of church camps, sleepovers on Saturday nights before church, poolside baptisms, asking deep questions about faith, and always saying hello and goodbye to Peter, our BLESSING of a youth pastor. On the way home from the reception I drove past my high school and more memories sprang to mind. Memories of winter formal, birthday celebrations, tears shed at some of our worst moments, laughing in classes, embarrassing moments during school plays, having lunch on the bathroom ramp, and graduation. Seeing such a good friend, who has been a part of my life longer than most, in her wedding gown and glowing with happiness reminded me how great we all had it growing up and what a blessing that time was. The friendships I had during high school were such a blessing and I have been reminded lately how hard those bonds are to find…and, especially, to keep.