Thursday, March 31, 2011

there is a reason strong moves slow

i want a tire swing in the backyard.

i want to wash off dirty feet in the laundry room sink. i want to pack lunches before the sun comes up. i want to make up lullabies with moonlight streaming in through plastic blinds. with my hands folded under a floral pillowcase and a warm baby's breath melting against my cheek. to wear aprons and tie my hair in loose buns. i want to look good in the kitchen. confident.

i want all these things. one day.

but for right now:

there's a clothesline in the backyard. i fold blankets over it during summer days and let my dresses dry in the sunshine. we don't have a sink in our laundry room. but we do have homemade curtains and a warm rug. i pack my own lunches, usually racing against the clock to make it to work. but every morning, there's a bowl of warm oatmeal at my desk, with blueberries and sugar swirled in.

robert's exhales tickle my cheek. when we finally make it to bed around midnight, a sleepy pablo quick on our heels. we talk for hours into the darkness, our words echoing in the black room. our room right outside the work shed, with the flood light spilling in.

and i'm learning in the kitchen. with every splatter and total mess, with every victory and cake that rises properly, i learn more about myself and feel more like my mama.

so maybe my one-day wishes are a little different. maybe i'm still muddling my way through my twenties and figuring it out hour by hour, looking for the glimmers of hope that come when the smoke clears.

but these are blessed days too. and i'm glad they're moving along slowly. to savor. the desires of my heart take time, as most desire do. and when these days are gone, and replaced by new times, new houses, new faces and new expectations, i will mourn for them. mourn for the days when it was just me and robert. miss the flood light outside and the shrubs that bloom in april.

but i'll also smile.

and swing, in my backyard, with  my head thrown back laughing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

church cookbooks and chicken enchiladas

i love old church cookbooks. i love the font, the recipe names, the notes at the bottom like "serves four, but you might want to plan on just two." from their spiral binding to their simple, sweet covers, these are some of my favorite sources to find tried and true comfort food. there are tons of recipes i am storing away to make this weekend, next week and all summer long.

last night, i made chicken enchiladas from a 1980s church cookbook. i would like to thank a woman named karen abbott, who i never met, for the fabulous recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas

*You'll need 12 small tortillas (I used nine regular sized ones)
4 cups cooked chicken (about three cans, or you can use cut up breasts, rotisserie, etc. whatever you have on hand)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
sprinkle pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, sliced
sprinkle garlic powser
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1 (1 lb) can tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
sprinkle salt
sprinkle pepper
grated cheddar cheese

Shred chicken and combine all filling ingredients, mixing well.

for sauce, melt butter in saucepan. saute onion and green pepper until tender. add remaining ingredients, except cheese and simmer, uncovered, about five minutes.

fill each tortilla with chicken mixture. fold in half and placed in greased 13x9 inch dish, overlapping tortillas slightly. cover with sauce. bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

i suggest enjoying this dish with  some good friends. or a sweet husband. or a begging, precious puppy. whichever you prefer. either way, you're sure to have leftovers, and nothing, i repeat nothing, tastes better reheated than mexican food.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

goodbye old oak hollow

i remember when it was first built. signs that read "this is my mall" hung proudly on the newly painted walls. fresh carpet and shined linoleum were underfoot. the immediate addition of a movie theater, and it was like high point had been reborn. the oak hollow mall. with its giant acorn entrance and just the right number of stores, it breathed life into our asthmatic mill town. 

only two stories high and a light tan color, it's really not much to look at. each of the triad cities has its own mall, and oak hollow is certainly the smallest and least assuming. but it had everything a high school teen could want, especially in its glory days of 2000-2005. two days before my first date, on a warm august night, mama and i spent hours below the fluorescent lights, scouring the department store racks and stacks of folded sweaters at the gap for the perfect ensemble, settling on white capris and a teal tank top with "ciao" written in glitter across the front. i don't have either anymore, and can't tell you where they are.

then, about a year later, on another august night, i had another first date. one that would turn into a thousand subsequent dates. robert and i ate at one of the mall's restaurants. one of those typical ones where waitresses write on the table and talk about cheese fries and rib specials. a friend from school waited on us, and afterward we left the mall to play putt-putt. the restaurant closed down a few years later. nothing took its spot.

and now, a major university has bought the mall. for the time being, it's leaving it as is. however, for the past year or so, the stores have been shutting down. slowly but surely in a sad defeat. now, the only stores left are ones with names like "pastor steve's leather" or "global village." the gap was the first to leave, followed by express, dillards and other snapshot memories of my past.

because a mall is a social experience. and all the movies i watched in the dingy theater, all the half off bins i squirreled my hands through, and all the red plastic benches i ate hot pretzels on are ingrained in me, just like the people i shared those moments with. 

a lot of my friends have left our little town. but i stayed. and i pass the mall on my way home sometimes and remember. and this will always be, no matter what happens to it, my mall.

Monday, March 28, 2011

the one i feed

i read something in my devotional book this weekend that struck me. not just got me thinking, but suddenly aligned everything i've been seeking for in my walk with God and my search for truth:

from a native american faith tradition we receive the story of a grandfather telling his grandchild about spiritual struggle and growth. "inside me there are two wolves who fight each other all the time. one is motivated by peace, gentleness, honesty, justice and love. the other lives by resentment, bitterness, hate, anger and violence." "which one wins?" asks the child.

"the one i feed," answers the elder.

Friday, March 25, 2011

coming to my senses

it's been warm around my little town lately. warm enough that on my ride home yesterday, i rolled down my windows. immediately, it hit me. a gentle breeze, carrying with it the smell of summer. someone was grilling out, or burning leaves, and the smoky, hazy atmosphere attached to my radio waves, and i rode both all the way home.

and as i drove, the sun started to set and my steering wheel warmed, and i went back. to the five summers i spent lifeguarding at the community pool. shopping for sundresses. my first kiss under the august moon. cheap fireworks on the pavement on july 4th, with names like "sprinkling rain" and "lotus flower." the simple scent of fire, and the memories came flooding back. and like the bradford pears shedding their gorgeous blooms on the sidewalks, so my heart shook itself back into feeling.

my mama keeps a little porcelain avon jar on her bathroom sink. just a little screw-top mini container, filled with a pale pink cream that she dabs on her wrists every now and then. it's the scent my grandma used to wear, and when mama found it again in a cosmetics catalog, she started buying it for herself, and it has maintained its place of honor in a pretty yellow vase ever since.

because scents are tied with memories, and good or bad, they stay ingrained in our psyche until, one thursday afternoon at five o'clock, they hit us straight in the heart and open the dam of emotion. it's the reason wives dab perfume on their husband's pillow when they go away for the weekend. why old ladies still cling to moth-holed, dusty sports coats. how babies know their mama in a sea of women.

i used to think that if i had to lose one sense, smell wouldn't be the worst to have taken away. but yesterday, with the sunlight twirling through my hair and the smell of hickory wood filling my little honda, my mind was changed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

you are the bearer of unconditional things.

i've never been much for flowers. or jewelry. but last night, i watched robert feed his grandmother. and that was all it took for me to come completely, utterly undone with love for this man.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the one where they're gonna PARTY!

Chandler: Y’know what? We’re not sad, we’re not sad, we’re just not 21 anymore. Y’know? I’m 29 years old! And I want to sit in a comfortable chair, and watch television and go to bed at a reasonable hour!
Joey: Yeah! And I like to hang out in a quiet place where I can talk to my friends.
Chandler and Ross: Yeah!
Ross: And so what if I like to go home, throw on some Kenny G, and take a bath!
Joey: We’re 29, we’re not women.

robert and i took my brother to an oberhofer concert about two hours away last night. it was a great memory, filled with singalongs in the car and dashes to convenience stores to grab coffee and stay awake. we laughed together, tapped our toes together and, when i looked over at my brother, in the dark, hole-in-the-wall hangout, on the busy college street far from home, and caught a glimpse of the pure joy on his face, i knew it was a night i'd always remember.

however, the night also taught me a little about myself. number one, that i am no longer immune to the deafening effects of sitting right up close to the stage, where the speakers are pumping and the singers keep calling for the sound tech to "give me a little more umph in my guitar." as soon as the band started, i yelled to robert, who was sitting mere inches from me, "must it be so loud?" i looked around at everyone else and felt incredibly ridiculous. it seemed i was the only one just a bit uncomfortable. girls with perfect bangs and vintage floral dresses were right up by the stage, swaying to the vibrations. grown men were standing in the back, swaying just enough to be moving, beer in  one hand, the other raised high in the air, pushing it down in rhythm to the harmony.

i felt even older when i noticed that, at the very front of the stage, was a middle-aged woman. dancing like there was no tomorrow. when the music got to be too much, i would just stare at her and daze. this woman was seriously shaking it, and did not stop even when the band did, as she relived her hair band glory days with her platinum blond hair and ankle boots.

so i left feeling ancient. but that's okay. because even though i might not be able to party like i used to (which was never much to begin with, if we're being honest), i still went. still made the effort to make my brother happy, and still, yes, enjoyed it. even if i fell asleep the second we started for home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a tight pair of genes

on our evening walk yesterday, robert and i came upon this sight. that's my mama and dad, sitting on lawn chairs, on their driveway, reading the newspaper.

perfectly comfortable front porch furniture was mere yards away, with cushions and back support. why they chose to sit on the edge of the pavement, just behind my brother's car and in front of the lamppost is beyond me, but i love it.

because my parents are like that. after almost 29 years of marriage, they are still in love. as we walked toward them, i remembered the time that mama and i flew to chicago to get my senior year prom dress and visit my uncle. my dad stayed behind to take care of my siblings. i'll never forget his eyes glistening with tears as he kissed mama goodbye at the airport terminal. they are never apart.

or the way mama can remember vividly the first time she met dad. at a college party, where their ice-breaking line was the epic "wanna chip?"

i worry about a lot of things in life, but i never worry about my relationships. because they come from strong roots. and last night, as i lowered myself onto the driveway and gathered my legs indian style beneath me, we watched the sun set low in the sky together, then walked into the warm house for dessert.

and i can't wait for the day when that's us. when our kids find us dancing in the kitchen or snuggling on a saturday morning. i can't wait to embarrass them, delight them and ultimately, nurture in them a deep love for others, and pass along this crazy, tight, good-fitting pair of genes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

let's go on an adventure

i reached for his hand across the stick shift.

lets go on an adventure, i said. where to, he asked.

anywhere. i looked out the window at the field beside our house. the blades of grass were swaying in a rustic harmony on the tails of a sunday morning breeze. the window was down and the sun was warm on my closed eyes.

we decided it was too soon, only a month after our last vacation at the coast, with family beach trips coming up and weekend commitments the rest of the month. i let out a sigh of discontent.

then i looked down at the hand i was holding, and followed it up, past the cuffed church shirt and to the face of the man i love. and i smiled. because this, this very moment, was an adventure. driving to church with summer just ahead of us made me feel alive. and later that day, napping on the couch with the window open and birds chirping.

we'll go on another adventure. we're suckers for road trips to kitschy destinations like the world's largest display of pork (nahunta, n.c.). the northeast is next on our list, but it won't happen tomorrow.

no. tomorrow will hold another early morning alarm, my same white coffee cup, and the same daily grind of phones, papers and people. but if i'm lucky, tomorrow will also hold a doorstep greeting, with evening settling into the bones of our house and pablo itching to get out the screen door. i will put down my pocketbook, pull my shades off my head, and collapse into robert. maybe we'll take a walk to mama and daddy's house. or maybe we'll stay in and watch netflix with cheap popcorn. we'll talk about our days over a crock-pot creation and revel in all that is ordinary, natural and satisfyingly simple.

either way, i'm sure, it will be a most spectacular adventure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

to the other grandparents

there is another couple out there who i don't know, but whose life will intersect mine in a powerful, beautiful and permanent way. i prayed for this couple last night. around midnight in my dark bedroom. and again this morning, shuffling through the sunrise behind closed blinds.

the parents of the person my child will one day marry. this child of mine that exists only as a dream. a recurring one, filled with images of sunbathed kitchens and crayons on the table. cartoons on saturday morning and pictures on the front lawn on sunday morning. this child that is still a few years away, but present on my mind.

what were they doing last night? are they married yet? will they marry? did he reach across the pillows last night and hold her? for my sake, i hope they have good genes. and teeth.

robert's mama wrote me a little note one time and said that she was praying for me as soon as robert was born. i love that idea. of praying for someone you don't know or haven't met yet. i prayed for robert before i knew him, too.

and i've never thought to pray for this other couple. down the road or across the universe. but, God willing, we will share the sweetest years of our lives together. we will sit across the aisle from each other in a little chapel. we'll sit anxiously in a hospital waiting room for hours, and then, we will become grandparents together. we'll share in holidays, birthdays and deaths.

i sometimes think about the fact that i'm going to meet someone who will change the axis of my world for the rest of my life, and i don't even have that person's name picked out yet. but somewhere there was a woman last night, and hopefully a man too, whose lives will also be changed. first when they have their baby, then when their baby meets my baby.

and the crazy, twirling, teeny tiny world spins madly on.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

the opening paragraph.

She wasn’t sure when it happened. That slow, sad arc toward not feeling. That moment when indifference turns to empathy and stillness turns to stagnant anger. But it happened still, and that morning, with the sunlight streaming into her coffee, she embraced it. leaned into it, even. And in doing so, leaned even farther away from him.

It was a Sunday, she remembered, when her life was irrevocably altered in the cold hospital room with whitewashed, sanitary walls. A blessed day of rest, spent in an agonizing 48 hours of labor. And then. Sheer, weak relief snatched as soon as it washed into her toes and began up her shins to the rest of her body. A weak cry in her arms, snatched away before she could kiss her forehead, with its goose down hair and squinted eyes. Tests and more tests, visits and more visits, that started on Sunday and continued. A defect. A disability. A despair. And finally, on this Tuesday of reckoning, a discovery.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

to be kissed with a furrowed brow

when i was in 7th grade, i watched the movie music from another room. before jude law was scandalous, before gretchen mol was on boardwalk empire, they starred in this darling film. i remember sitting in my friend's little rec room. the lights were off and we were up way past midnight. there was a half empty popcorn bowl between us on the tiny couch, taking up elbow room and space.

and i watched as jude gave gretchen the most beautiful, heart-swelling kiss i'd ever seen. i would not be kissed until five years later. in robert's car after our third date. with the porch light on and mama waiting up inside.

thankfully, someone thought to put a little movie montage on youtube, which includes the kiss. the whole thing will give you a recap of the movie, but i suggest scrolling right to 1:44. the furrowed brow. the way he gathers her in his arms. her submission. it's the stuff dreams are made of, and hollywood rarely gets it right.

i couldn't embed it, but you can find it here.

it was the idea of that kiss that kept me waiting all through high school. it was the reason why, when i met that boy at the beach who followed me around and watched will and grace in our rented home, as he leaned in to kiss me outside the steps, i gave him a side hug. that wasn't going to be my first kiss. not like that. not with some boy named evan with terrible hair whose last name i didn't even know, who went solely by "ev dog."

every girl deserves to be kissed this way, and when it happens, it's worth the wait, as affairs of the heart usually are.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

i'm thinking i want some treats

sometimes it's not enough to cry. or to vent. or to talk about it to my dog. sometimes it's not enough to think positively, read inspirational quotes or call up mama.

there are days when i just need a little pick me up. something special for only myself. a time of prayer, closed eyes and deep breaths.

last night was one of those nights. honestly, i just needed butter. i needed to soak my bread in its juice and let it run down my chin. to laugh at robert reaching for more paper towels and smile as pablo lapped it up off the floor. so i made the most succulent steak sandwiches i could find, with a butter sauce to end all butter sauces.

and today, with rain looming in the distance, it was cafe mochas. in a little coffee shop near my the post office where my dad works. with the room bathed in noon light, and shade trees beside the window. my bible spread open on the worn wooden table, my hands wrapped around a hot paper cup. whipped cream on my nose after each sip.

we're worth it, you know.

worth those extra treats. those sinfully delicious concoctions. because the truth is, they're not sinful at all. they are blessings and, in moderation, perfect.

so last night i indulged, and today as well. i might or might not tomorrow. but i believe that God met me there today, in that room, and smiled as i leaned my head down toward the foam and prayed, whispered up an offering beside a chatty group of women and what i believe to be a couple on their first date.

i looked around, with only minutes left on my lunch break. at everyone doing the exact same thing as me. chilling out. reading. playing music. drinking tea and crumbling muffins on their plates.

taking the moment to release, before picking back up on their day. finding a minute of recluse to recharge. a multitude of angels in the middle of the afternoon. reminding me that work is good, but so is play, and both are right. so, so right.

Monday, March 14, 2011

a full inbox and heart

mama called me the other day just to tell me my cell phone message inbox was full. and it was true. and i knew it, but didn't know what to do about it. because every single message i've saved makes me smile, brightens my day, and reminds me i am loved.

like the one from robert in april 2009, on my birthday weekend in charlotte. calling with a funny joke, told only in a way that robert can. i hear that 90-second tidbit, and i go back to that beautiful hotel room. the white water rapids. the rock climbing wall where i thought i very well might die, but resulted in the most fabulous zip line ever. it's a gorgeous memory, saved on my silver bit of plastic.

or the calls from my sister and mama, inviting me to go for a walk. the ones from my dad, who hates the phone. for him to call, let alone leave a message, is special to me, and worthy of being saved. i erased a message from one of my good friends once. she passed away in a car accident a few months later, and i'd give anything to hear her voice again.

so i've kept them. and i know i can get one of those recorders and transfer them, so i can save them forever. but right now, i like having them close. it's instant comfort.

just like the people who left them. only a phone call away.

Friday, March 11, 2011

to be vulnerable

in my high school english class, we had an assignment where everyone went to the whiteboard and wrote one word that described humanity.

i wrote vulnerable.

and this week, i've seen exactly why i felt that way back then, and how it still rings true to me now. i received the sweetest compliment from an elderly woman at wal-mart. a simple, "i just love your dress" kept me elated for the next few days. it was enough to get me through pressures at work and growing demands at school that threatened to swallow me whole this week.

but i've been put down, too. called down, pushed down, and gently placed down off my invisible pedestal. and that's been enough to ruin me for weeks at a time. it's a vicious, yet altogether worth it, two-sided coin, this being human.

because at our very nature, we are interactive. yet, as the Bible reminds us, we are also flawed, imperfect creatures. so on this earth, we correspond every day with people who can never, no matter how hard they try, be 100% good, 100% of the time. we're going to hurt each other, there's no getting around that. but we're also going to lift each other up to unexpected heights, too. because as humans, we have the power to do both.

sometimes i forget the weight of my words. their heaviness and impact. their power to leave scars or to erase them. it's a huge and overwhelming responsibility. but scanning through the cold freezer aisle of wal-mart, i was reminded.

that it's also a beautiful gift, bestowed on us by a God who believes in our ability to do great things, and say nice ones. to lovingly reach for that perfect goodness, even if it's always right past our fingertips. because in the reaching, we love, and in the loving, we lift.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

oh, jenny don't be hasty

middle school is quite possibly the most awkward time in one's life, do you agree? i spent the greater portion of mine pining away after an unobtainable crush. i sat for hours in my room, scribbling love poems and songs into a faux cow-fur covered journal. little did i know, there was a reason that boy was unobtainable, and years later i wouldn't want to obtain him if my life depended on it, and those little makeshift sonnets turned into stronger, more beautiful lyrics of love for robert.

and because i was always pining after boys older than me, one line that i would write in the margins of that notebook over and again was "don't treat me like a baby." and isn't that what every girl wants? to have our femininity exalted but not the point of infantilization?

i rediscovered this song the other day. on a mix cd i made called vintch, long before this blog or my shop ever came into focus. since then, it has been on repeat in my car, because:

a) the tempo is killer

b) paolo's voice is just raspy enough to be taken seriously but peppy enough to dance to

and, most importantly:

c) it turns the tables on my childhood woes and approaches love from the heart of a younger man reaching for an older girl, rhyming "don't treat me like a baby" with hasty, which is genius.

where was this song when i was 14? i'm convinced it would have given me a little comfort. but in a way i'm happy for all that teenage angst and unrequited "like." it's made me appreciate my grown-up love that much more.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

a working girl can't win

"she was simply a pencil, scratching, pausing, picking her way down an obscure page. she liked her fate."

i'll never be her.

the glistening girl in the office. with the fashionable high-waisted slacks, pressed jacket and perfectly ruffled blouse. and oh how i want to be. how i shop to be.

but the truth is, i'm the girl in the yellow tights. who drinks too much coffee and sweats over phone conversations.with mousy brown hair and a face not for bangs. who lives not to be in the limelight, but behind it. armed with my red editing pen and stacks of papers. my excel spreadsheets glaring at me from behind a glared screen. i'm comfortable there, and happy too. but i have dreams. oh boy do i have dreams.

and i will achieve them. not in the conference room. not over the telephone.

but in that little corner office, with windows all around. bathed in early morning sunlight and the glow of late afternoon sunsets. where my bible sits on top of my business cards. yes, i will see the desire and ambition of my heart. on the merit of my work and the dedication of my mind. through time and patience, time and patience.

because i swirl hazelnut creamer into my corporate coffee every morning, and as it warms my bones i look around. at this little chunk of space that's mine.

and for a moment i smile. because as much as i can never be her, she can never be me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

people, let me tell you 'bout my best friend

meet my best friend, pablo.

last week, pablo and i started a club. the best friends club.

it's very exclusive, as we are the only members. we made an exception and designated robert and mama as honorary members. however, they do not get to participate in the special club ritual, homemade shirts.

because at the end of the day, what brings you comfort and friendship is personal and unique and altogether special. and whether i find it in the throngs of a great vintage store or hanging on the couch with my husband or nestling my face into a belly of fur is up to me. and it can be all three. but more times than not, i find myself talking to, playing with and listening to pablo. because no one gives me a sweeter greeting when i get home, and no one knows the exact crook of my knees and taste of my cheek quite like he does.

and i'll be forever grateful that even though children are far away on our horizon, and i'm not quite ready to be a mama for real, this bouncy, cuddly seven-year-old mess has allowed me to practice on him. and he'll always be my baby, and quite possibly, my best friend.

Monday, March 7, 2011

weekend recap and giveaway winner

this weekend was beautiful. bright and sunny on saturday, with a calming, change-into-your-pjs-after-church steady rain on sunday. highlights include:

-trips to an adorable downtown about an hour from home, where were found a perfect little flea market, a hole-in-the-wall hot dog shop, and homemade lemon ice cream.
-sunday lunches around my parent's living room table, gathering hands over plates of turkey wraps and chocolate chip pecan pie
-eating with robert at a new little diner in our hometown, with gorgeous live music from the cutest country woman, oblivious to the fact that she sang every lyric to "american honey" wrong.
-falling asleep every night in the nook of our couch, with pablo snuggled in my knees.

-and the best part of this weekend?

making homemade shirts with pablo that say "Best Friends Club." call me crazy, but they are adorable and he looks precious in his. pictures to come soon:)

this weekend was wrapped up sweetly last night when choosing the giveaway winner via
Jane, from Life on Planet Baby

congratulations, Jane. you are, as charlie sheen would declare, a WINNER!

have a beautiful, blessed monday, sweet friends!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

last chance-giveaway

just a little reminder: the "love is a mix tape" giveaway ends at midnight on sunday, march 6. 

go here to enter.

have a beautiful, blessed weekend, friends!

Friday, March 4, 2011

rain and remembrance

i thought time would take it away.

that after 10 years, i wouldn't hear the voice of the boy across the lunch table telling me, in tone loud enough to cause tears to rise from my gut, that i was nothing but a stutterer. the  moment after that big presentation, when the sea of relief was replaced by anguish and a faceless whisper from a boy in the back of the room. "that was g-g-g-great." the teacher by the whiteboard, asking me, while my classmates sat in stale, cold silence, to take a deep breath and start over.

i ran into that lunchroom bully a few months ago and we exchanged the kind of formalities that old high school acquaintances do. a quick side hug and quicker duck out the door. by his wide smile, i could tell he didn't remember. and how could he? but i did. that teacher, the one who also taught my mama, passed away a few years ago. i haven't heard from that whispering boy in ages. last i heard, he got married and lives nearby.

everyone, everywhere, has forgotten. and that's fine. and you know, i forgive them.

but there are days i remember more than i want to. when someone at  work raises an eyebrow as i explain something, or a phone call to my family goes silent for a second when i'm trying to catch my breath. when the glottal blocks give way to giant insecurities that make me want to take a vow of silence.

but then there are days like yesterday. when i saunter in to an executive's office and present my case, in a fluency that is altogether alien but more and more familiar to me. with a slow, deliberate message and confidence rising with every fully pronounced syllable. and again, the cycle of doubt recedes.

and isn't that all we can do? to hope that little by little, those moments of exhilaration join like water molecules until one day they bring forth the most beautiful, healing rain. one that will wash away all the bullies, taunts and lingering fear.

yes, a rain deep enough to cleanse away the past and rush me, on its raging ocean, into a happier future. that's all it would take. and i'm almost there. because after the rain comes the rainbow, and you best believe i'm not missing that.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

wednesday night fiesta

robert and i really like mexican food. as proof, check out this picture of us at our engagement shower:
so last night, watching the sky turn from cerulean blue to amber gold outside my kitchen window, i wanted to pay homage to our shared love of this cuisine. and to be honest, i really just wanted to cheer my husband up. my stuck-inside-the-house-all-day sick puppy. he's feeling much better and is back to work today, but last night just called for a little something special.

so i did what every blogger does when she needs a fabulous recipe stat--i visited the pioneer woman.

and there i found it. cheesy, beefy burritos. guaranteed to be 100% beef, which is more than i can say about taco bell. it required a trip to the grocery store for tomato sauce, tortillas and beef. but as i was roaming the cold aisles during lunch, robert called me to see how my day was. and i was reconfirmed in my decision to spoil him a little.

i modified ree's recipe just a little, adding a little punch of flavor with the burrito fillings. inside the warm tortillas, i stuffed:

ground beef, seasoned with garlic powder, oregano, cumin and chopped onion, mixed with one can of mexican tomato sauce
refried beans heated with melted cheddar cheese
mexican rice
chopped green chiles
mexican salsa
sour cream

if you are vegetarian, these pictures might be a bit unsettling. however, this recipe would be equally fabulous without the meat. in fact, i dare say you wouldn't even miss it. but for me and my carnivorous husband, these truly hit the spot.

eat these tonight in front of the american idol results show, the office, or any other program of interest. these would be especially good on a monday night bachelor viewing.

because food like this--saucy, spicy, put-me-to-sleep-right-after-supper food, is meant to be shared. and holding hands with robert across our old wooden table, with pablo yapping at my heels for a bite and the microwave kitchen timer ringing behind me, i lifted up a prayer of thanksgiving to share this special time with my little family of boys. 

recipe found here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

playing nurse

 robert is home sick. for the second day in a row. with an ear infection, at that.

the last time i thought about ear infections was when i had one when i was nine and mama took me and my sister to wal-mart to get our pictures taken in our christmas dresses. it was super classy, and what made it even more spectacular was the horrified look of pain sprawled across my face, just below my fluffed and teased bangs and fresh chicken pox scar.

and now, 15 years later, i am in my own home nursing my sweet husband back to health.

and spending time with him, just sitting with him, talking. it's funny how things like sicknesses force everyone to slow.down. to just take a breather and relax. on the other hand, i have been busy too. i've been cooking more, scrubbing the sink more, and folding laundry more. and it feels so incredibly organic and good.

to be needed, that is. to feel required and responsible.

and as i folded robert's 1,865,424 work shirt, i breathed it in, and hugged it close. because this man, this blue-collared, strong willed, independently awesome man is eternally linked to me, and will need me, just as i need him, as long as we walk this earth.

in sickness and in health.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

fate as malleable as clay

i look forward to friday lunch breaks. they mean a trip to value village, my favorite neighborhood thrift shop. it's a spacious, beautiful warehouse with rows and rows of darling dresses and pretty retrro furnishings. it's like heaven.

last friday was no exception. at 12:00 sharp, i turned off my computer monitors. i slung my pocketbook over my shoulder and headed for the door, ID badge dangling between my fingers. halfway across the threshold, i remembered something. a work assignment i need to talk to someone about. before lunch. before the mid-afternoon hypnosis set in. but then, a quick conversation led to more work, more conversations. a terrible avalanche at the worst time.

so i spent the next 25 minutes going over a project with one of our managers.

i was frustrated when i left. because i was late. which meant less time shopping, and worse, a hurried, rushed feeling. and no one, i repeat no one, wants to feel rushed while thrifting--an experience to be savored slowly and purposefully. i got in the car and sped away.

then, a few miles before my exit, i saw it.

a row of cars clamoring to merge into one lane. to allow the fire truck to move through. the police cars. the ambulance. right where i would have driven, an accident had just happened.

i sat in the traffic jam for about 20 minutes until i passed the horrible scene. the dilapidated car and torn guardrail.

{in college, as a journalism minor, i was warned against using the word "tragedy" unless i was specifically talking about an event in which the main character has a flaw that causes his own demise, like oedipus. but friday, with the sirens joining in an awful chorus and the sky looming with rain, what i saw can only be described as tragic.)

i received an e-mail forward one time about all the employees who, for some random reason or the other, did not go to work in the twin towers on 9/11. they were all late.

some missed their alarm that morning. one man's son started kindergarten and he was a few minutes late from dropping him off. it was person's turn to bring doughnuts. one man wore a new pair of shoes, developed a blister, then stopped at the drugstore to get a band-aid.

in all of those instances, including mine on friday, something caused a delay. which in turn, caused frustration, anxiety and unhappiness. but in the end, that very delay saved our lives.

so i urge you. embrace every situation as a gift. from a God who knows the future. standing behind an elderly woman in line counting her change, as irritating as it might be, is a deliberate standstill. traffic jams, long-winded friends and unexpected changes at work aren't accidental. by opening ourselves up to the idea that everything is working for the good--the beautiful, deliberate good--of those who love Him, things don't seem so inconvienent anymore. 

and being a Christian doesn't mean i'm immune. that could have easily been me on friday, and it wouldn't have meant God loves me any less. but having that relationship means trusting, searching and finding. looking for the meaning behind the simplest of things. for His mercy.

and it always comes, just in the nick of time.