Hopes and fears.


I hope, I hope, I hope that I’m not getting sick.

I fear that I might be.

I hope, I hope, I hope that I’ll get lots of sleep tonight.

I fear that I might lost track of time.

I hope, I hope, I hope that I’m not forgetting anything that I should be doing at this very moment.

I fear that I’m forgetting something key.

Today I’m trying to hope three times more than I fear.  It’s so much better to have hope than fear.  As you all know – if you have been reading for at least a couple months – I have an extremely wild and malicious imagination that tells me that disaster is impending almost every day.  Yet, I remain an optimist.

My imagination told me today that this teeny tiny sore throat and hint of fatigue is actually Equine Flu (I made that up… even if it’s real, I made it up.  We’ve had bird and swine flu, so I’m guessing horses are next.).  I’ll be down for the count for weeks, and if that wasn’t bad enough, I’ll get behind on everything.  And I won’t get to see my sister this weekend – which I need to, I just need to.  And I’ll have to spend my entire Thanksgiving break doing makeup work, and I won’t get to eat mashed potatoes and Challah bread and that amazing meringue cake that is always at our Thanksgiving meal.

As I’ve mentioned before, my imagination is quite cruel.

I’m teaching it a lesson today by drinking lots of water and tea.  I’m sucking on vitamin C drops and washing my hands a lot.  I’m eating dried apples and mentally combating sickness.  It’s not going to get me.  No monstrous Halloween virus can take me down.

I have hope, hope, hope.  Jesus is still good today, in case you were wondering.  I woke up this morning and found that He was still here and still loves me and still redeems me and teaches me something new each day.  He’s still faithful.  It’s amazing, people.  I’ve never had a friend like this.

Enter: Robin Williams singing “Friend Like Me”, but modify the words to fit Jesus.  Just try to picture that.

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Exceeds Expectations.


 

Whenever I shop at Jewel-Osco, the cashier gives me a receipt, and she tells me to fill out the survey.  So I do, because there’s a small chance that I’ll be the lucky winner of $100 of groceries.  The survey has you rate each department you visit and the overall atmosphere, etc, from a scale of ‘not meeting my expectations’ to ‘exceeds expectations.’

I would have to say that this life has exceeded my expectations.  Most everything I expected to be or do hasn’t happened.  And things that I never would have thought of in my wildest dreams have walked right into my life.

God throws the best surprise parties, and it seems to me that my life is one.  Opportunities and people and trials and victories are just thrown my way.

THE CONS: Today I’m pretty tired, feeling like my dinner didn’t sit too well with me, and thinking that I have quite a bit of reading looming over my head.  The heater is making my room swelteringly hot, so I have to open the window to counteract that.  I’m missing some of my people from home pretty dearly right now, and I have questions about how the future is going to play out.

The weather is getting bone-chilling cold with winds coming from Sandy that are pretty powerful.  I’m getting a sore throat and trying to combat any sickness that might be trying to worm its way into my system.

THE PROS: I have a weekend with my sister to look forward to.  Jesus continues to surprise me with great encounters every day.  My roommate and I are having a good time living in the same 15×12 foot space.  I have employment.  And I know that the future holds good as long as I follow what Jesus tells me – and I’m pretty sure that if I get it wrong He can make it right.

My rating of my little life here exceeds my expectations.  And I’m sure it will continue to since I still can’t figure Jesus out completely.

Testifying.


Today was supposed to be one of those days where you fly from one thing to another and barely have time to eat and end up feeling completely worn out and burnt out and used by the end of the day.

So far today, however, I’ve gotten out of a class early and gained an extra hour and a half that I thought I needed to be at work.  Turns out someone got sick so the calling segment became optional.

I’m telling you, God cares about the things that make you want to pull all your hair out over.  I woke up this morning with little hope that the day would be much more than stressing and tiring.  But I have extra time to do my work, AND there’s cookie dough in my refrigerator.

Now, this will just be an abbreviated post since I’m going to use the time I’ve been granted to do some work.  And I’m sure that your Monday is busy too.  I just had to take note of God’s goodness, of the evidence that He takes care of me.

Thank you, Jesus.  Now, where’s that cookie dough?

Nomenclature, for a change.


Did you know that the first meteorologist to use proper names for hurricanes used the names of public figures he didn’t like? Then the military during World War II started naming the storms to honor their wives and girlfriends at home.
Wow, how honoring. To have a storm named after you.
I would have to say that I’m glad that feminists took offense so that we have equality in how hurricanes are named.
I was just wondering about why we personalize hurricanes this afternoon while I was doing my homework. So, the History Channel website helped me out.

Funny things happen when you don’t eat dinner.  Or maybe it’s just me.  I can’t seem to ever skip a meal without feeling the effects quite a lot.  Today, dinner didn’t happen.  Chips and salsa and 4:00 and a muffin (I’ve still got some, Mom!) happened.  Stick-a-granola-bar-in-your-purse-as-you-get-on-the-bus-to-go-learn-how-to-repair -bicycles happened.  When that is the evening meal, staying awake on the train ride home after the bicycle repair workshop is hard.  Also, your stomach growls.  And you wonder if you seem like a friendly person or like a grizzly bear.

Then, again, this might just be me.

Despite your hunger on the way home from the L stop, and despite the fact that the cold wind makes you feel über sleepy and unhappy, then you look up and see that the clouds at night are really pretty.  We don’t see the stars here in Chicago, so pretty nighttime clouds are about as good as it gets.

And that reminds you of the verse: “When I consider the heavens, the works of your hands… Who is man that you are mindful of him?”

And all of a sudden, the hunger feels very small.  And you (again, or maybe just me) feel very small.  Very small and thankful.

Thankful that there is cereal back in your dorm.  Thankful that you have warm footie pajamas and a stuffed bunny to cuddle with.  Thankful for the employment and musical endeavors and classes that will keep you busy all day tomorrow.  Thankful for friends who keep in touch.

Thankful that I am not out of God’s sight.  I haven’t slipped under cloud cover or run out of His line of vision.  He’s not just watching me but walking with me.  I hope I never lose awe at that truth.

On a beautiful fall day.


This fine, beautiful fall day was full of metaphors for life.

It started out at Beijo de Chocolat over crepes with my friend who is also an INFJ and exactly a foot shorter than me.  We were talking about how she writes pop songs out of love for it, but she writes choral pieces for her class.  I write blogs for the pure enjoyment of having creative license to write whatever I want, but I don’t mind writing essays.

Just like you do zumba for the fun of it – the workout benefits are just a plus.  You lift weights and run sprints to work out the muscles that will give you more endurance in zumba.  Essays and choral arrangements work out your mind so that the product of your creative pieces are better quality.

Shortly after that moment of brilliance (it may not have actually been brilliant, but as we sat there, soaking in the caffeine, it seemed to be), 4′ 11 1/2” remarked, “I learned so much from my beta fish this week.”  Beta fish are really good with relationships, apparently.  Whoever said that you can’t really have a relationship with a fish was totally wrong.  They’ve never heard these stories.

Enter word picture number 3: As my pen pal and I walked toward Buckingham Fountain, she remarked that she loved that we were walking fast.  Most of our friends don’t walk very fast, so we tone it down in their presence. (which doesn’t make us love them any less… we just don’t get places as quickly)  We decided that it’s a good picture for how we live our lives, bound for a destination.  It’s okay if we don’t know where we’re going – it just matters that we’re going somewhere.

Kind of like how even though the L stops frequently, you don’t get off at every stop.  You might get off to get coffee, but then you get back on until you get to your destination.  And you might not even stay there for very long.  You might just hop back on and go somewhere else until you find home.

We stood on the edge of a very windy Lake Michigan, so close to a drop-off that it made me nervous.  I think that also told me something about myself – nervous when on the brink of something that includes submersion or falling.

Amazing how many parallels to life are found in our everyday existence.

That’s my beautiful city, taken from the edge of windy Lake Michigan.  I’m so thankful, especially today but pretty much everyday, to be here in Chicago with people like my INFJ buddy and my pen pal. And the people who walk slowly.  Jesus knows what He’s doing when He tells us to go somewhere.

It’s Friday again?


Have you ever looked back on your week and thought what in the world did I do this week?

That’s what I’m doing today.  It’s Friday, which sneaked up on me, and I can’t remember how I spent my week.  I mean, I know I went to all of my classes, did some homework, walked 5 miles to go to Target (that’s roundtrip, not one-way, just to be clear), and I worked as well.

I’m not really sure how I got to Friday.  All I know is that this has been the fastest week I’ve had in a long time.

Other things on my mind: Would it really be that bad to just wear my pajamas to my first class? Also, why did I eat so many goldfish last night? I just bought those on Wednesday.  Who knew there was such a big difference between dried mango and freeze-dried mango?  And, last but not least, is fall almost over?

We’d been having fall weather here for a while, but then these two beautiful, high-of-75 days came out of no where this week.  I got all excited and pulled out my lone summery dress that I didn’t take home yet.  Then the temperature plunged last night and has me thinking that perhaps we’ll go straight from Indian summer to winter.

I know you probably aren’t that interested in the weather here, but I just think it’s so funny.  The seasons are set to start on certain dates, but in case you haven’t noticed, they never, ever actually follow that.  The calendar says that we’re supposed to have spring, then summer, then fall, then winter.  But – at least in the midwest – most years the progression starts with winter, winter, then a short bout of spring, about 4 months of summer, a month of fall, a little Indian summer just to throw everyone off and confuse us about what we’re supposed to wear, then back to the bitterly cold winter.

There are so many parallels to life in nature.  When you learn the seasons in kindergarten, you learn that there are four of them.  They come sequentially and have songs to go along with them.  Certain months are assigned certain images.  When school starts, leaves and apples are the decor of your classroom.  Then you move on to snowflakes, then hearts (because apparently Valentine’s Day also has a season), then Shamrocks and flowers.

Everything just gets more complex after kindergarten.

Indian summer throws everything off, and long winters make me cry sometimes.  But a surprise warm day is always welcome – even if it makes the transition to colder weather harder.  And long winters… well they’re not always welcome, but I’m much more thankful for spring because of it.

I bet I don’t need to draw out the parallels to life for you.

 

But in case you haven’t heard about my plan, you should go to yesterday’s post. I could use your help.

The Plan.


I’m starting to wonder if perhaps my alleged resemblance to Taylor Swift is not just a coincidence.  I wonder if this is supposed to serve a purpose in my life other than teaching me how to graciously accept the same comment over and over again.

Or maybe, just maybe there’s something else.  Maybe I’m meant to write her biography like I suggested to her yesterday in this letter!

In all seriousness, I just wonder if perhaps this is something more significant than an uncanny resemblance.  I mean, we have the same build, are within an inch of each other’s height, have almost the same faces.  I mean, people don’t usually airbrush pictures of me since they aren’t going in magazines, but from what I can see we look fairly similar.

So, I’ve decided that I want to do everything in my power to get her to see that letter and acknowledge it.  And I would like to humbly request your assistance.  We all know that social networking has the power to spread ideas.  How many times have you seen a picture of Jesus on facebook that guilt trips you into liking it, one that’s been shared over and over and over again?  How many strange youtube videos have you seen, wondering how exactly they reached their level of notoriety?  I believe in the power of social networking to get a message across.

If you are interested in helping me on my mission, choose from the following options (or do both of them!)

NUMBER 1: If you have a twitter, follow me (@write_and_seek) and find one of the two tweets I have sent to Ms. Swift in the past two days.  Retweet them.

NUMBER 2: If you have facebook, you can share my “Dear Doppelganger” post.  Simply go to the post on my homepage (if you’ve gotten here, you can probably find it), scroll to the bottom of the post, and click the button that says “facebook.”  You’ll be directed to a page where you can add a couple comments about it, then it will be shared with your friends!

We’ll start here and see what happens.

What if I actually meet her?  What do you say to someone that you feel like you already know and identify with?  How do you start a conversation with such a person?

Hi. *awkward laugh* wow, this is weird.  I feel like I’m looking at a better-dressed, more lip-sticked version of myself.  *another awkward laugh* but you have a better paycheck, ha ha.  *start sweating* Do you think we look alike?  No?  Oh, well that’s weird.  I guess all those people were wrong.  Well, this has been nice.  Not really sure what we just accomplished, but it was nice to meet you.  *awkwarder laugh*

I guess we’ll just cross that bridge if we get there.  Are you in?  I hope so.

Dear Doppelganger.


Dear Ms. Swift,

I’m a big fan.

(oh, wait.  scratch that.  Everyone says that.  I’ve gotta start this differently.)

Hey Taylor!

I feel like I know you since so many people think I am you.  We’re even the same height!!!

(oh gosh, now I sound creepy. too many exclamation points. gotta start over.)

Taylor Swift,

For the past five years of my life, the most common first thing people notice or say about me is that I look like you.  I haven’t decided whether its a blessing or a curse since you’re obviously a beautiful girl but I’d like to be seen for who I am.  There are actually a significant number of people on my college campus who don’t know my real name but refer to me as “the girl who looks like Taylor Swift”.  You’ve been a part of my life, without ever really being in it.

Fun facts about you and me:

– We have blue eyes.

– We’re around 5′ 11” in height (I might be half an inch taller, but who needs to gloat about half an inch?)

– We both play guitar.  But you’re better than me.

– People refer to us as ‘Taylor Swift’

– naturally curly blonde hair

– We like sparkles and girly things, like dresses.

Isn’t this whole thing strange?  I’ve never met you.  And I likely never will.  Yet I feel personally insulted if anyone ever criticizes you for anything.  People all over the board have told me that I resemble you: healthcare professionals, little girls at the Mall of America, close friends, acquaintances, teachers, coaches, random people on public transportation, cashiers, and co-workers.  I’m sure no one has ever told you that you look like me, but if I said that 1,000 people have said that to me, I don’t think it would be much of an exaggeration.

I’d like to know why God made me this similar to you.  I’d like to know if someday I’ll be impersonating you in Vegas since I can’t find an employer who will pay me to simply write whatever my little heart desires.  Or maybe it’ll be my ticket to get a writing career… That sounds like a good book, right?  My Life: Perpetually Being Told That I Looked Like/Was Someone Else.

Wait a second, I can just write YOUR biography.  This works out for both of us since you obviously have been looking for the right person to do it, and who better to write it than someone who feels personally insulted whenever anything bad is said about you?

Just a thought.  Take it or leave it.

Bet you’ve never gotten fan mail like this.  By the way, I love the new album.

Love,

Ashley

Update: 12pm, just you can jump on the bandwagon or join the small group of dissenters…

Just so natural.


It’s a rainy day in Chicago.  It’s overcast and drizzling all over the 60625 zip code, and I love it.

For once, the water hasn’t magically dried up when I put my rain boots on.  They were actually useful this morning.  The rain makes all the red brick on campus take on a different, brighter hue, and millions of golden yellow leaves are sticking to the sidewalk all over campus.  There’s a slight chill in the air, but it’s not enough to need a coat – just a cozy scarf.

It’s even better from here in Beijo, with my cup of coffee and complementary donut within arm’s reach.  The whole place is decked out with fall decorations, so obviously that makes me thrilled to come in here at Christmastime, when it will undoubtedly have switched seasons.

There’s so much beauty on this rainy, drizzly, wet day in Chicago.

I’m reading One.Life by Scot McKnight for my Bible class at North Park, which talks about how to use our one life to follow Jesus truly.  It offers a different perspective than some of the other books I’ve read on the same subject, and it’s definitely thought-provoking.  I’m realizing something as I read it and as I’m trying to conform my life to what Jesus wants of me.

The more I make my life look like the life that Jesus laid out for me, the more natural it feels.  It’s like I was made for that kind of living, which is probably how Jesus would say it.  Because I was.  I was made to live that way.

There is so much rest in knowing that and living that way.  And yet I still walk off that path frequently.  And then Jesus reminds me that I’m not meant to walk that way and yanks me back.

Thank you, Jesus, for yanking me.

duct tape and icebergs.


I’m wearing tie-dye socks on my feet, duct tape on my toe, and a treble clef ring on my right hand.  Fortunately for me, no one can see the duct tape on my toe, so this outfit doesn’t seem too weird to the world at large.

My hidden duct tape makes me wonder what other people are hiding under their socks.  Also, it makes me wonder what else I don’t know about them.  Somehow, when I think of the way other people see me, I think of the iceberg illustration from Hitch.

Hitch: “Tonight I want you to meditate on the image of an iceberg. Do you know why I want you to do that?”
Albert: “Because I’m cool?”
Hitch: “No.”
Albert: “I know, I’m not. I…”
Hitch: “Uh, I’m saying that you are an iceberg in that over 90% of your mass is below the surface.”
Albert: “I know I’m heavy. I am.”
Hitch: “No, uh, I’m talking about who you are. It’s a metaphor.”

Other people might be hiding duct tape.  Or maybe their duct tape is more figurative, that they’re trying to use something to hold themselves together.  (My toe isn’t falling off, just so you know.  That’s not the purpose for the duct tape.) It’s good for me to be reminded that people can hide things, so it’s important to be friendly.  Not necessarily to treat them like they’re fragile  but to handle all interactions with care.  It’s a good thing to think about on a Monday.

Today, I’m enjoying these dried apples that the nice lady I sat next to on the plane yesterday gave me since she thought I was such a nice girl.  Sometimes there are surprise benefits to being friendly.

That’s all for now.  Happy Monday, folks.