5

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I did, in fact, survive college.

The Risible Rambler was a college blog. The ramblings of a college student living in a state of perpetual panic. I strung myself between days. I worried. A lot. Hilarity ensued, which was what made the blog…the blog.

But I learned. I’m not sure what else I’ll remember from college, but I’ll remember this: no matter how scary life gets, God is still good.

Look. I’m done. I crossed the finish line. Four years older, four years wiser. I didn’t die in an avalanche of paper like I thought I would. I lived long enough to cross the stage and get my diploma, and I’m still going strong.

Why? Because I’m a tough cookie? No. Because God is good, and He got me through.

That doesn’t come as a surprise at all.

6

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I can write poems.

Perhaps this shouldn’t have been so big of a surprise. After all, I’d been writing poems on and off since I was nine. Bad poems with forced rhymes and overly emotional language, but poems none the less. A baby’s first steps are hardly those of a ballerina, but they’re still steps.

Words are always bouncing around in my head. They’re the screensaver when my brain shuts down for the night. I’m always trying to think of the cleverest way of putting things. I like to rhyme. I also like not to rhyme. I like to string images together to spell a word. I like to string words together to make a thought. Glue the thoughts together to make an image, and start the cycle over again.

I love making poems. I haven’t made on in a very long time. Not one I’m proud of, anyway.

Things happened last year that made me want to poem. I poemed a lot. They’re all over the blog—nonsense poems, ballads, sonnets, free verse, villanelles, sestinas, a whole poem zoo. I took a poetry writing class—the only one the university offers—and I was hooked. I couldn’t stop. I wrote barrels of them, many of which didn’t end up online or anywhere, just in little notebooks that traveled with me everywhere.

I’ll say nothing about their quality because I’m not a very good judge. Enthusiasts don’t always make the best judges of their own creations. But I will say that there are several poems that I’m proud of. They give me a sense of personal satisfaction. Now, personal satisfaction does not a paycheck make, so I will have to improve if I’m going to make this poeming thing a source of turkey bacon.

Still. Anywhere is a start. 

7

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I have wanderlust.

This came as a complete surprise. Until recently I’d spent my whole life as a homebody. I liked going to the same places and eating the same food over and over. I couldn’t imagine leaving home. I couldn’t cope with change.

I’m not sure where it started, this passion for travel and trying new things. Maybe it started with the blog, which was a bit of a leap of faith for me, a girl who didn’t even have a Facebook. But maybe it started before then, years ago when I fell asleep on a bus in Anytown and woke up in New York. Maybe it started with that flight to Germany when I was a little girl. Who knows? I won’t ask questions.

But this wanderlust blossomed when I went to Croatia for the first time. It got stronger when I went again, that time alone. The third time made it stronger still, although this time I didn’t go alone. Never alone.

Now I can’t stay still. The older I get, the clearer it is that this world is not my home. As a little one I was very attached to this planet and to my own little corner inside of it. Now I see the world as just a road. A long road with lovely scenery and rocky, rough pavement. No one can live on a road. You can’t settle down, you just keep moving. Sure, you stop along the way, smell the roses, take some pictures, but Christians aren’t exactly called to settle down. Not yet. Not now. The day for settling into perfect peace is coming, but it’s not today.

I have a long road ahead of me. It’s rather exciting.

8

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I can cook.

If you had asked me three years ago if I could cook, my answer would be a resounding “no.” I can bake. I make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My guacamole is pretty awesome. But I would have told you that no, under no circumstances can I cook. I will burn things. I will break things. I will create a royal and unspeakable mess. But produce something edible? Nope.

But after the first year, I thought, hey, this writing a post every day thing seems to be working out. I wonder what else I can do?

Once upon a time, I knitted things constantly. I had time. I was in high school. College destroyed my creativity. That’s just the name of the game. I still have drawers full of yarn waiting to be knit together with love, and I mean to pick it up and maybe get one project done before September.

I taught myself to knit. One lady showed me the two basic stiches that make knitting what it is. The rest of the stuff—color knitting, cables, knitting in the round, turning heels, gussets, intarsia, slip stitches, yarn overs—that I taught myself with the help of library books. I made fantastic things. Every summer I cranked out an absurd amount of knitwear. Socks were my favorite things to make.

So twenty-two-year-old me figured, hey, if I taught myself how to knit and if I can discipline myself to write a blog post every day, I can teach myself how to cook.

This time I had help. My mother’s a wizard in the kitchen. She comes from a long line of excellent cooks, cooks who didn’t bother with measuring cups or even recipes. A lot of my “teaching myself how to cook” is me hollering from the kitchen: “Mom, does this look done?” “Mom, does this taste right?” “Mom, how do you do so and so?”

And according to my dinner guests on Wednesday (parents and AB included), I finally know how to cook, cook wholesomely, and cook well.

I now can make a mean stir fry. 

9

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Turns out, I can write non-fiction.

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was very young…maybe nine or ten. I wanted to write mystery novels. A whole long series of them. Then I discovered The Lord of the Rings, and ever since I’ve wanted to build a world the way Tolkien did. And I did, sort of, but I don’t have the cleverness to create a language or a clear linear history with rich cultural depth. Which is part of why I’m afraid to touch that fantasy novel I’ve gotten myself into.

But I definitely know how to write non-fiction. Research papers. Essays. A devotional thought here and there. Mildly hyperbolized humorous anecdotes filled with self-depreciating humor. I didn’t know I could write non-fiction. I always thought non-fiction was boring until I found myself writing it.

Now I find myself reading it, too. I’ve read autobiographies, biographies, scientific studies, psychology books, collections of essays, books and books about the craft of writing, books about poetry (not just books of poems), history books, books about cooking, books about movies, memoirs, counseling books, devotional books, any and every kind of non-fiction book. The funny thing is, I liked them all. Me, the girl who couldn’t abide books without pictures in them.

If only one could write a non-fictional novel.

Maybe I’ll try. 

10

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In ten days, I will have written a blog post every day for three years.

My faithful followers will know that this can only mean one thing: there must be a countdown.

So over the next ten days, I will list, in no particular order, thing’s I’ve learned from blogging (and while blogging) that I did not expect to learn.

One of them is that I can stick with something. I was always the girl who bought a ton of journals and never filled them. Started crafts and never finished them. Started books and never got to the final chapter.

In many ways I’m still that girl. Mostly because there’s not enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do.

But here’s what I can do: I can write something. Anything. Every day. Even if it’s crud. Sometimes I write something I’m really proud of. Sometimes I write something I hate, yet everyone on the internet likes it. And I’m okay with that.

The point is, The Risible Rambler went beyond finishing something. My goal was to write every day for a year. Now it’s been three.

I didn’t think I could do that.

What a pleasant surprise.

Shopping

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I’m in a dangerous line of work for a book worm. I work in a library.

I’m not sure if that makes me a librarian. I think you need a degree to earn that title, which is a degree I’m not planning on getting, at least for the time being. Just for fun, let’s call me a librarian. Yes, let’s.

My job is to find all the things. The missing things. The found things that got lost and wandered into the wrong place. The things that decided to be tricksy and stand in the wrong order in line.

I also make lists of things. I make lists of the things that are really, really lost and don’t seem to want to come home. I give this list to my supervisor at some point.

At some point.

But in the process of looking for the little lost books, I get…distracted. Perhaps this is a rookie mistake. But especially when I’m wandering through the section of kid’s books or health books or cook books or psychology books or knitting books I…well I have trouble. Their covers are so enticing. Their back-cover information so fascinating. Their tables of contents so juicy, I want to take a bite.

But I can’t. I have to persevere and ignore my hyperactive imagination, rubbing my hands together to ward off the frostbite in those meat-locker temperatures. I think about call numbers and barcodes. Nothing shuts my imagination down like a number.  

Nevertheless, I came home with a huge stack of books yesterday. One of the job’s perks is that we get first pick. If we see something we like, we get to take it with us and check it out to ourselves, stamp it ourselves, and wish ourselves a nice day without having to go through a mediator. It’s like shopping, but everything is free. You just have to bring it back when you’re done with it.

But the stack will grow. And that’s what I’m worried about. 

And This Has Been “Cooking Adventures with Rizzy”

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Word to the wise: if you want to make an omelet, make sure that the hand-me-down cookware is actually still usable.

Of course, perhaps the only way to know if something is usable is to try using it. At least once.

My kitchen has an oven, complete with a four-range stovetop. So far I’ve only used it to boil water for tea, but that’s not nearly adventurous enough for me. No, sir.

Over vacation, I made my first omelet. I’d never tried before, although the theory was clear: an egg or two, a tablespoon of milk or half and half, combined and beaten with a fork and poured into non-stick pan with desired fillings. Create egg-pancake. Wait until the underside is cooked. Somehow flip it over. Cook other side. Eat.

With this in my head, I proceeded to grab the appropriate materials and create an omelet in the kitchen of my grandmother’s mountain cabin. The first try was a trifle messy, but good. The second was a picture-perfect, golden-yellow half-circle, a bit like the sun when it rises over the mountains. Tasted pretty good, too.

I thought about trying it again, only this time on the electric stove in my apartment. If you’re going to christen an oven, you might as well do it at breakfast.

I grabbed a pan. This pan was in my grandmother’s (the other grandmother—mother’s, not father’s side) kitchen for an undetermined length of time. I’m not sure how often it was used, but by the look of it I’d say that it received a fair amount of use in its heyday. A little dingy, but still a pan, and still omelet sized.

I got out a measuring cup and two eggs and proceeded with the whisking process while allowing a half cup of spinach to cook down in the aforementioned pan. I noticed that the spinach got a little browner than I was expecting quite a bit quicker than I was expecting.

(I will pause here to remind you that the only time I’ve ever made on omelet was on a gas stove in the mountains at an elevated altitude.)

Unperturbed (I am the kind to eat burnt popcorn, after all), I added the egg mixture, allowing it to pancake itself. I reached for a spatula. The only plastic one I own (I’m kitchen-savvy enough to know that metal spatulas on non-stick surfaces is a no-no) was too big to slip past the rim and under the omelet. I tried to flip the egg-pancake a la Julia Child, but I’m not her, nor will I ever be, and I’ve made peace with that. What I got was a wider egg-pancake that was quickly surrounding itself in a cloud of odd-smelling steam. We’ll call it steam.

I finally wedged the corner of the spatula under the omelet and flip part of it over. The underside was a lovely shade of charcoal. I got the rest of it flipped over, but the inside of my now egg-taco was still a bit runny and undone. I felt as if I had no choice but to press the charred hide of my omelet even closer to the floor of the pan in the hopes that it would squish its runny guts closer to the heat source.

Eventually I gave up and plopped the very black and firm Eggenstein onto my plate. Next to the burnt toast with peanut butter and sliced peaches. The toast burnt because I thought surely whole wheat will hold up to the same amount of heat as ciabatta, which I’d been toasting all this week. Apparently not.

Once I chewed past the burnt bits, the omelet was just fine. Ugly, but fine. I’m trying not to think about the amount of carcinogens I consumed. The highly suspect pan is being held for questioning. From now on the larger, newer non-stick pan will be doing the omleting in this household. The other might be good for sautéing vegetables. I’ll have to call in an expert to look at it, and by expert I mean my mother.   

Relatable

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You know that feeling when you have the whole world to write about, and yet nothing comes to mind?

You know that feeling when someone tells a ghost story and no matter how sensible you are you keep checking over your shoulder every ten minutes?

You know that moment when your cell phone isn’t picking up a signal and you go all baby Simba on it and lift it up in the air, like that’s going to help?

You know about the immediate urge to clean when the kitchen floor gets gritty?

You know the sudden urge to nap when you grab an armful of sheets fresh out of the dryer?

You know when you get a new appliance and no matter what chore it entails, you’ve got to try it out?

You know when they introduce a really nice character in an episode of a sci-fi show and you think, “Aw, I like him. I’ll bet he’s going to die” AND THEN HE DOES?

You know when you se a little kid expertly playing some concerto on the piano and you think man, I’ve never done anything with my life.

You know when you look at your collection of books and wonder if you have too many and then you know that’s impossible?

You know that feeling when you’re so tired you could sleep anywhere?

You know how it is on a Saturday night when all you want to do is listen to Broadway tunes and put together a shelving unit?

Well, maybe that’s too specific.

 

Decor

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There’s a tambourine on my bookshelf. It will be joined by pictures.  

On the end table by the futon, there’s an old pair of binoculars resting next to a stack of colorfully bound books and a picture of my roommate’s family. 

There’s a crate under the coffee table that holds our tiny DVD collection. 

My diplomas are sitting atop my desk. Both high school and college. And there’s a colorful pottery vase holding my collection of knitting needles. And my little music box shaped like a piano that plays “Memory.”

Odds and ends, mostly. She and I have two different schools of taste. She has excellent taste. I have…exciting taste. She likes neutrals. Ha. Ha ha. 

We’ve settled on eclectic. Our apartment will be very, very eclectic. 

At least the kitchen has come together nicely. 

Progress

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Aaaaaaand my clothes still aren’t unpacked. I left my suitcase on my bed and everything. Open. So I wouldn’t forget. Yea, so I wouldn’t even be able to go to bed until my clothes were safely stowed away in my dresser. Nope. Nothing but my collection of pants got put away. 

But I built a shelf. 

Well, I put together a kit. And I didn’t do it alone, either–my most organized sister made sure the top of the shelf ended up on top. Hopefully the apartment has passed her inspection. It’s certainly a work in progress, what with all the bags and boxes lying around everywhere.

But I have my pillow now (thanks, Mom) and coffee. And all the important mugs. 

And I even got to host someone. A most important someone. My sister (spiritually adopted, of course) and I have been thick as thieves since sixth grade. In high school we’d hoped to get an apartment together after college, but God has chosen to place us in different geographical locations. Our hearts will always be together, even if the rest of us can’t be. 

She has an apartment by a river. Mine is by a pond. Have fun with that, Whovians. 

If there’s one thing that’s been made clear from this moving process, it’s that I can’t do anything alone. I’m so grateful for all the people who have helped me move furniture and boxes and bags and bags of books. I couldn’t have done it without any of them. Independence really isn’t that independent at all. it’s just shifting your dependence to include more people the older you get. It’s a wonderful thing, having a family as well as a family of friends. 

ALl that to say, I’m not settled yet. But I’m getting there. A day at a time. 

Let It Begin

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There aren’t any books on my bookshelves, but the kitchen is organized and clean. There’s even shelf paper in the cabinets. I even have things to put on top of the shelf paper: brightly colored dishes and brand-new drinking glasses, as well as food and mugs and boxes of tea and coffee filters.

I unloaded the two boxes of cookware that I’d saved from my late grandparents’ kitchen. It was a bit like Christmas, finding all the things I needed in those oversized cardboard moving boxes. Stoneware mixing bowls, vintage spatulas and mixing spoons, even a crockery pot to keep them in. There were baking dishes, pots, and glory hallelujah, there were two pie plates. My grandmother’s massive turquoise-green mixing bowl now adorns their dining room table, filled with our collection of fruit and sitting atop a brightly colored placemat. My grandmother would be so pleased.

I’m playing big band music in the living room, just for her.

I haven’t put my clothes away, but I managed to make my bed. The kitchen took longer than I’d planned. Of course, when I made my bed I realized I’d forgotten to bring my pillow. I always forget to bring my pillow.

We’ve got a coffee table with matching end tables. There’s a futon and a floor lamp. We’ll have shelves soon, once I put the kit together. Except for the bare walls, it almost looks like a home. Needs more color. Pillows and throws will do the trick. It’s beautiful, small, and homey. I love it.

My roommate’s out for the evening, and a strangeness fills my mind. Not quite loneliness, but I’m not sure what it is. I’m looking around at everything and I’m wondering what the future hold, and what my younger self would have thought of this.

Now “Moon River” is playing from the speaker on the end table, and I know I’m not alone, nor will I ever be.

It’s not easy to be excited, and it’s even harder not to be apprehensive about this whole “adulthood” thing. But regardless, I’m content. I know I’m where I ought to be.

And that’s enough. 

Mug Memoires

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Part of the moving-out process is getting rid of things. I’ve gotten rid of clothing, odds and ends, and reams and reams of paper. I’m trying to minimize. There’s not a ton of space in that little apartments, and besides, if I’m going to be mobile I need as little stuff as possible tying me down.

But I can’t bring myself to get rid of the mugs.

I’m a warm beverage person. I like hot tea and coffee. I drink both in abundance. And you can’t drink tea or coffee without a mug.

I have a medium-sized eclectic collection of mugs. Every time I pull one from the cabinet, the sight of it and the feel of it in my hand brings back a host of pleasant memories.

Tonight’s choice is a Kelly green Fiesta Ware soup mug, or, as I have affectionately dubbed it, The Hobbit Hole Mug. (If you turn it upside down, it looks like a hobbit hole.) My parents bought it for me at a Mast General Store in North Carolina many, many summer vacations ago. It’s the mug I use when I need to think happy thoughts in spired by its bright color and associated dreams of North Carolina mountain breezes.

The mug I keep at my desk is the most ornate piece of pottery I’ve ever owned. It has a flared base that tapers before widening into a fuller shape, like the base of a fancy candelabra. It’s a deep cherry brown, except for the scrolled handle and rim, which is glazed in a dark metallic color. My friend gave it to me at my sixteenth birthday party, which was by far one of the awesomest parties I’ve ever been to. I use this mug when I need to think of my four closest friends, my dear sisters, with whom I’ve built so many castles in the clouds.

The mug I used for my morning coffee every day in the dorm is a simple, rounded square-rimmed mug with sloping sides and a simple, earthy brown-on-brown geometric design. When I received it, it had a blue plush bunny sitting inside it—an allusion to an acting role turned inside joke. It’s stable, warm, attractive, and surprising, much like the person who gave it to me. I use it whenever it’s not in the dishwasher.

There are so many more mugs, each full to the brim with memories. The black mug with my society’s Greek letters printed on it in green that I got as a freshman. The hand-warmer mug that has a pocket for your fingers instead of a handle that I wanted so badly and finally got for Christmas one year. The graduation gift I received from my employer. The purple mug with the spoon slot in the handle that matches mugs given to three of my other sisters.

It’s possible to sip a memory. I’ve tried and succeeded. Beautiful memories, like sips from a good cup of coffee, should be taken slowly.