Sweat

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It’s summer. This should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, it’s July, and while that may mean chilly temperatures for our friends in New Zealand, here in Southeastern America it means heat.

Heavy, sticky, disgusting heat.

Heat that seeps through the drywall. Heat that no car AC can hope to defeat. Heat that filters in through unshuttered windows and hovers above leather seats and steering wheels.

The South is humid. Unlike the West, where the air may be hot but remains breathable, the perpetual 50% humidity of the South turns air of any temperature into barely inhalable soup. Puddles from occasional rainstorms stay for days, and sweat has nowhere to go.

Summer in the South means you never. Stop. Sweating.

Okay, maybe normal people do. I don’t.

Something happened to me when I started my 20s. Something awful. I used to be one of the few teenagers that never, ever got a pimple, glistened vaguely during workouts, and smelled like a flower garden 88% of the time. But my 20s hit and boom, acne and buckets and buckets of inexplicable sweat.

I suspect I have some rare breed of adrenal issue that I might just have inherited from my father. We both have issues with heat. My father and I both start feeling uncomforatbly warm at around 70 degrees (that’s 21 degrees for my friends in New Zealand). We start dripping sweat at 75. Eighty and we’re swimming in our own natural coolant. Ninety and we’re drooling over travel brochures on northern Russia.

I seem to have an added complication to my sweat issue. I sweat when in situations where I have to socialize with strangers or even acquaintences. I sweat at parties. I sweat when I get in front of people to speak, sing, or otherwise perform. I sweat if I sit still too long. I sweat when I stand too long. I sweat if I have to wait in line anywhere, especially government offices. If you see me in any social context where I am thinking of the next thing I have to say, you’ll probably see me with my hands tucked under my arms, not because I am nervous or emtionally gaurded but because I’m trying to gauge just how large the sweatstains under my arms are growing and at what rate and what on earth can I do to hide them.

And that’s just in the fall and winter. In the summer the nightmare gets about 1000x worse.

My poor long-suffering spouse spends his July evenings in flannel pajamas burrowed into a pile of quilts while I sprawl out in shorts and a tank top next to our window AC unit which is allegedly blasting 60 degree air while my sweat glands remain unconvinced. (That’s 15 degrees for our friends in New Zealand.)

And yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Just buy some antiperspirent deoderant. Problem solved.” Yes, sure, but only if they manage to put it in a spray bottle and in large enough quantities to coat my whole body in it every day from May to November.

Or, as an alternative, I could just relocate to a different climate for the summer months. Somewhere like New Zealand.

 

 

 

Adulthood is Stupid

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I’ve been an adult for a few years now. I’m 24. I’ve lived on my own, paying my own rent and my own bills, for about two years.

Being an adult is stupid. It’s the biggest nope that ever was.

So far I’ve discovered that even though your peers are all adults, the playground bullies haven’t left. They’re just taller, and usually they have more money and influence than you.

Everything you thought would be great about adulthood when you were a kid comes with strings attached. You can eat whatever you want, but you also have to pay for it. You don’t have to go to school anymore, but still have to park in front of a desk for eight hours anyway. You can go wherever you want, but you need to think about how much gas will cost and where you have to be tomorrow and whether or not you’ll be fired if you go away for too long.

Being an adult apparently requires having a lot of Stuff even though Stuff isn’t really necessary for a happy existence. If you don’t want a huge house and want to build a tiny one, there are laws against that. If you don’t want to pay a huge power bill and switch to solar, there are laws against that. If you want to start a small business or be self employed so you can skip the rat race and have a job that allows you to escape the articifical and stressful environment of corperate America, you’ll get taxed out of doing that pretty quickly.

Your whole life you’ve been told to go to college so you can get a job. So you go to college and learn to do something you’re good at. Trouble is, the new expecation for entry-level positions usually requires 1, 2, 3, 4, even 5 years of experience in that particular job field before they’ll even think about hiring you. You need both a college degree and real-world job experience before you can get paid so you can eat and pay rent. While you were busy studying away, making As, and working part time to ease costs a bit, all the jobs you care about have decided your degee isn’t good enough for them anymore. Most of us take the first job we can find, even if it’s a job we hate, and we don’t get the chance to gain experience for the jobs we’d actually enjoy.

You discover pretty quickly that renting a living space eats all the money you could be putting towards a house, especially since rent costs as much as a morgage payment if you want to live close to where you work. So you don’t buy a house and you don’t buy a new car because you don’t want to be in debt. Yet, as a newer adult, you’ll probably get flak for not going into debt for things you can’t afford in an economy you didn’t ruin. You’ll want to skip it all and live in an RV or live out of your car so you can actually go see the big world you live in, but refer to paragraph 4. Also, gas prices.

Even if everything is going well for  you in your corner of the world (relatively small rent, a job you enjoy or at least tolerate, a fairly healthy social life), there’s the rest of the planet. It’s exploding. If there’s not a plague, there’s an earthquake. People are killing other people because they’re different from them. Rapists go free while their victims are punished for being victims. Human beings are still sold as slaves. Children die for the crime of being conceived. Riots. Wars. Rumors of wars. And you can’t do anything about it.

The worst thing about adulthood is that even though everyone who is an adult has experienced adulthood and knows how hard it is, very, very few adults have any compassion for other adults. You can’t talk about the injustices and absurdities of this oversized playground without some snot-nosed kid in the sandbox yelling “Grow up and deal with it!”

Oh, sure, we’re growing up and dealing with it, but that doesn’t fix a single thing.

The only thing about being an adult that’s worth talking about is marriage.

Marriage is the best.

Because at the end of a long day of dealing with all of the above, you can come home, and your Spouse is there. You can make dinner together, talk about little things or big things or medium sized things, laugh together, dream together. You can shut all the nonsense out for a while. You don’t have to be what anyone expects you to be. You can be kids, sort of, for an hour or so before bed.

And somehow, by some sort of deep magic, those few hours are worth all the rest.

Family of Three

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No, we don’t have a kid. Nor will we for the foreseeable future.

I’ve discovered I need to clarify that as often as possible.

But we do have a typewriter.

The typewriter belonged to a faculty member at Undisclosed University who, after a long and successful career as a teacher, had decided to retire. She is a published author, and as far as I know hasn’t given up on writing (she just released a new novel in the past year and has a contract with one of the larger publishing houses). At the end of this semester, she put out a table in the hallway outside of her office and started piling up books that she no longer wanted so passers by could take them away to good homes.

I walked away with an armload every time I walked by. My husband (a graduate assistant at UU) had his office right across from her, and gathered a few books for himself as well. We’re not the kind to pass up on free books.

One afternoon I came home to find my husband parked at the dining room table brooding over a large metal object. He looked up at me, beaming.

“Look what I found!”

I looked. Before him was a large mechanical typewriter. It was in stellar condition. The word “ROYAL” was stamped in large silver letters above the keyboard.

That scene from You’ve Got Mail popped into my head: Meg Ryan coming home to what’s-his-face, the columnist, toying with a new typewriter at the kitchen table, and she points out that it’s only one of several.

“It was Mrs. Page’s,” he told me. “It’s in perfect condition.”

“Mrs. Page’s?” I gasped. She’s a published author. I took her introductory Creative Writing course when I was a sophomore in college. Her novels are excellent; she’s personal hero of mine.

We own her typewriter. The typewriter she used to draw up her first published manuscript. I don’t put much stock in the concept of luck, but I feel that surely now that I have her magical typewriter, anything written in this house is blessed with success by the spirit of the beautiful woman whose novels have touched so many hearts.

The typewriter is our baby. By “our,” I mean my husband’s. He found the user’s manual online in PDF format and studied it on and off for days. He bought a new ribbon for it on eBay. He sent hours figuring out how to set margins and indents–even how to make columns and line spacing. I found index cards with snippets of typed phrases scattered in odd places around our apartment for weeks.

“Look at it,” he said once or twice, “there’s no wires, no circuits, nothing! One hundred percent mechanical!” He’d hammer down a few keys, each keystroke sounding like the rapport of machine gun fire. “I want to use it to type out my papers next year.”

I made a mental note to buy some ear plugs.

So far this summer, it has sat quietly in a wicker chair, waiting the day it will move into my husband’s new office. But for now it waits, it’s mechanical calm encompassing so many of our hopes and dreams. For my husband, it seems to symbolize the possibilities and promise of a new semester at seminary. For me, it represents writing, and the hope that with a little determination and a little effort, I can be finish something, shove it over a transom, and hope for the best.

I’m Back

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Hello, loves.

I’m back.

It’s been too long.

I’ve been married for almost one full year. I’ve got another year of graduate school under my belt. I’ve had a big girl grown up job for a year.

I’ve barely written a thing.

So I’m back.

I started this other blog, and it scares me. My subject matter scares me. There’s so much I don’t know and I’m passionate about the topic but very poorly equipped to talk about it. There’s so much that could be said and I can’t possibly say it all at once.

I find myself in the same predicament I was in when I started this blog almost five years ago. I was in college, working towards a degree in creative writing but hardly doing any writing at all. I had hoped once I got out of college I’d have a job that would pay me to write things, but I’ve no such luck. And I haven’t written because I haven’t felt free to write and I haven’t been making the time to do so.

I need a place where I can write like me.

So I’m back.

The Liberated Woman

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The new blog has arrived.

Liberated

I remember the time I first heard the phrase “liberated woman.” I had just graduated high school. I was on a trip to Kansas City, MO with my classmates and my speech coaches to compete in a national speech and debate tournament. We had made a stop in St. Louis to visit the Arch.

There were four girls on the team. Two of them were best friends (still are), and they were the Debaters with a capital D. Both analytical. Both brilliant. Both fiercely independent. I remember my coach, a burly little man with a voice like a foghorn, holding up his camera for a group photo. The two girls put their hands on their hips, stuck out their chins, and smiled into the sunlight.

“There they are!” my coach jibed, “The liberated women!”

I was not included in the group of liberated women. And I wondered why. I wasn’t…

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Write

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I remember where I started. I was a creative wriitng major whose time was consumed with course work which kept me from doing what I went to college to learn how to do well: write.

I started a blog to force myself to write.

And I have. I have written every day for four years.

Is writing easier now? Writing is never easy. Writing is hard work. Writing takes time and dedication and craftsmanship, all things which I’ve not always been able to apply here. Sometimes I wrote posts in the last thirty seconds before midnight. Sometimes I wrote posts days in advance. Sometimes I wrote with passions about something really important to me, and sometimes all I could brain out was a list.

But it is much easier to write what I really think. It is much easier to be honest and objective with myself than it used to be.

This blog has helped me realize I am far better at creative nonfiction than fiction. Far better at poetry than at short stories. Far better and pantoums than song lyrics.

Far better at being me than being anyone else.

I will not post tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure when i’m going to post here again–I haven’t gotten that far. I plan to publish the first post on my new blog on Friday, but the best laid plans of mice and men, so they say, oft go awry. If I start the new blog on Friday, I’ll be sure to put a link here.

I may not post. But I will write. I will always write. Old habits die hard.

I can’t stop now.

Faith

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After all, how else could I have survived the last four years?

Sure, there’s laughter. Laughter is one of the best survival tools ever implemented by man. Laughter is why this blog began. In person, at least, I’m really good at getting people to laugh. I’m even pretty good at getting myself to laugh at impossible or difficult circumstances.

But there are some things even laughter does not help or heal. And that’s where faith stepped in.

I was stuck in Croatia the day they joined the EU. Stuck in an airport surrounded by people who did not speak my language and could not explain why my flight was delayed, why I could not meet my connecting flight, and how I could possibly tell my parents where I was or why I wouldn’t be home on time, if I got home at all.

Fate could not have delayed my flight and landed me in the line to get my flight rerouted. Fate could not have put me in line behind the one person in the airport who was fluent in English and had a phone capable of calling my parents home number from Zagreb, Croatia. Fate could not have put me on a flight sitting next to an EU representative who was questioning his Greek orthodox faith and would let me open my Bible with him as we searched for answers to his questions.

God could. God did. God always will and always does.

The last four years have been a series of seemingly insurmountable odds. I could not have overcome them on my own. I could not have survived on my own. People will laugh at me, tell me of course I did it on my own, that my dependence on God is some kind of sick self-deprecating fantasy.

But it isn’t.

I didn’t do it alone because I am never alone.

God gets full credit for every last moment of it.

Fearless

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It’s easy to be fearless until you’re staring down the lion’s throat.

The thing about blank pages is that there are no limits. No limits but yourself. Yet that limit keeps us from dropping so much as a blob of ink on the page for fear that a blob out of place will send our lives into a downward spiral.

The future is our darkest enemy. It has no face, shows only its back, and is hidden by a cloud, darkly.

The future could keep us from doing anything, unless we choose to be fearless.

There are lions in the streets, we cry. But we are the lions.

But God shuts the lion’s mouths. We can walk unafraid. I can walk unafraid. No matter what happens, no matter the headlines, no matter the lions, I can walk toward the future and they won’t bite me.

Fear silences us, but faith lets us sing.

Fire

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The coals burn, and they burn steady. They may not light up the world, but they light up the little circle around them. And they keep the people close by warm.

You see, the last four years saw me extinguished and reignited. Before I started college hoping for little more than a degree to get me a job to get me a house far away from people, in the mountains, surrounded by trees. Part of me still wants the little cabin in the woods, and I visit occasionally but I can’t live there.

My feet don’t stop. I couldn’t run a mile once–now I can run three and a half. I couldn’t stand the thought of living anywhere but home, and now I want to make the world my backyard, the airport my living room. I want to run. And run.

And I am no longer content to be solitary. I am no longer content to be silent.

Once the coals start, they don’t stop burning. I want to warm everyone around me. I want to change things. I want to change myself, or see myself change, or whatever happens first.

I want to be a lighthouse and warn people about the rocks around them. I want to shine out truth so others can see it–whether they believe me or not. Whether they like me or not.

I want to be fearless.

Milestones

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I’ve been blogging for almost four years, and I didn’t even start a countdown.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I was four years ago. I’m not overfond of that version of myself, but one can’t deny one’s own history.

The me from five years ago…how that was a girl. Six years ago and my, my, you wouldn’t know me. I had so much fire.

Four years ago, I had no idea who I was anymore. I had my walls torn down and my foundation cracked and I was so confused. I had to start all over from the beginning.

That’s when I met me from three years ago. That’s a me I never want to forget. That’s a year I never, ever want to forget.

And the thing is, I won’t, I can’t. Because it’s all here, on the blog. Every day. There’s a snapshot here for every late night, every early morning, every road trip, every escapade. I even saw me fall in love on this blog.

This blog saw me graduate. This blog saw me start my first full-time jobs. This blog saw me married.

Me from six years ago wouldn’t recognize me now. I had so much fire then. Now I have coals.

But goodness knows coals burn hotter.

Success

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“Just How Rich Are the Kardashians?”

Apparently that’s a newsworthy headline. I saw it towards the bottom of the homepage of a news website I frequent. Next to the headline was a (photoshopped) image of Kim herself, her hair whipping dramatically around her allegedly flawless face. Thankfully just a headshot this time.

Because of course we are fascinated by successful people. We are fascinated by those who seem to have it all–the beauty, the money, the attention. How did they get where they are? Where are they going? How do they live their lives? What does one do with all of that money?

Because of course money equals success. Right?

I’d argue that if the only thing you’re good at is being pretty, and if that’s all you ever aspire to be–pretty and rich–then you’re missed the “success” mark by a mile.

I’d even argue you’ve missed if all you are is rich.

If “success” can be defined as simply meeting an established goal, then fine. Success acheived. But what else have you acheived?

Attention? That comes in droves. It follows money.

The most successful people I know are the ones who get very little attention and have very little money. But they do so much good. And they have so much love.

I’d rather be that sort of successful person. Any day.

Gifts

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We are unusually blessed as a couple. We have families that love us individually and together, distant relatives we gladly call our friends, a perfect wedding, a warm and happy home, employment…the list goes on. God has been good, for sure, because we certainly don’t deserve to have all that we do.

We were even blessed (abundantly) with wedding gifts. People gave us everything we asked for, everything we needed and didn’t know we did, and some extra nice things that we’dnever dream we’d own.

These weeks beging the process of thanking all of these lovely people.

However, some gifts seem to have mysteriously appeared. They had no card or name attached, and one had a card but no name. Process of elimination won’t let me figure out who they are–the list is too long, and there are too many variables.

So will the giver of the bag with the cookie sheets, bundt pan, wooden spoons, cake pans, and the 9×13 insulated baking pan, the bag with the navy blue towels, and the bag with the pizza stone please stand up?

Thank you so much, whoever you are.

It Was Like This

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There was a lot I was going to get done this afternoon after church.

I was going to write thank you notes to all the lovely people whogave us wedding gifts. I have a long list of people to thank, and the more I can get done the quicker I can, the better things will be.

I was also going to try an read a little. I love reading, and I never have time to sit down and read something that isn’t an email. I have a really long list of books I’ve read a few chapters from and had to set aside because of school. School is coming again, and even though I’ll only be taking one class, I know life will find ways of being busy and I won’t get to read anymore. Unless it’s for class.

I also wanted to write in my journal, which I haven’t touched since the night before the wedding. There’s a lot that needs recording (such as how the wedding went) but I haven’t had a moment to sit down and record all of those important memories.

But you see, it rained. It was Sunday afternoon, and it rained. A gentle, grey, cool rain that fell lullingly on the roof, on the grass, on the road outside my parent’s house where we were spending the afternoon.

I was forced to nap. I promised myself I would only sleep for thirty minutes, but I was in the coolest and greyest corner of the house, and my stomach was pleasently full, and there was the rain steadily drumming…

I had no choice but to sleep for two hours.

I’m sorry.