April 30th, 84 degrees.

The sun has left me about 50% of my brain function today.  It’s about 84 degrees currently, and the breeze is helping us all to thoroughly enjoy sitting outside.  It’s days like these where my campus seems like a true community.  Frisbees are almost hitting people right and left, and as more people get out of class for the day, the grassy area of campus gets more populated.

In case you’re wondering why a sunburned person like me is outside, let me just assure you that I am in much better shape today.  My skin feels almost normal again.

Also, I’ve got on SPF 50.  I think that should be sufficient protection.

It’s April 30th, as in the last day of April.  Where did the rest of the month go?  I’m trying to figure out exactly how it became today, the threshold to a summer month.  I’m fairly certain that I spent most of April in the library, which is appropriate.  If there’s any time of life to live in the library, it’s college.

Now I have a week and a half of my freshman year, so I have to think about how to finish well. Finish, as in, I will be leaving next Friday, never to have these classes and this specific school year again.  It’s bittersweet, as most goodbyes are.  I’m pretty bad at goodbyes, if I haven’t already iterated that here.  You should know that.  If we ever have to say goodbye, I’m sure I will be awkward about it or say it too early (then have to say it again when it’s actually time to part ways) or try to refrain from saying it at all. It’s okay, I know that about myself.

Fortunately, I have a few days to prepare myself for the goodbyes.  For now, it’s April 30th, and the temperature is still 84 degrees.

Pre-finals week.

It never fails that the weeks where I get the most creative juice flowing are the weeks where I have to edit two papers, study for two finals, pack up my life, write pointless reflections on how healthy I feel like I am, and do laundry.

My guitar and my cute little notebook for creative writing (made out of an old Beezus and Ramona book, rebound into a journal) that my sister gave me for my birthday are calling my name.  They’re telling me that these ideas may not stick around until I have time for them.  But there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I suppose there’s always night, but I did promise myself that I wouldn’t get sick during finals this time.  (I’ve got a pretty solid record of getting sick finals/midterms week 3/3 times.)

It’s one of those times where I have to remember that I’m in college for a reason.  I have to remember that these little things that seem like they would be so easy to skip or do carelessly are the things that push me closer to having my degree.  And yes, that degree is worth having.

Yes, it’s worth it to spend the extra time editing that paper.  It’ll make me a better writer.  That’s what I want to do with my life, isn’t it?

Yes, it’s worth it to over-study for my finals.

Yes, it’s worth it to practice diligence.

That great thing about creativity is that it isn’t a one-time guest.  It doesn’t stop by to see if you’re busy, see that you are, and never come back again.  It’ll return, and one of these times, I’ll be ready to receive it as my guest.

Pre-finals week, here I come.

Easy Mac.

This is Easy Mac.

If you aren’t familiar with this phenomenon, let me enumerate its many qualities for you:

  • ready in 3.5 minutes
  • microwavable dinner in a disposable cup
  • cheap
  • (sort of) filling
  • no need for pots, pans, real ingredients, or time
  • All you add is water and a fork
  • fake cheese

(If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan.)

This morning, my pastor said something that got me thinking about the intricacies of macaroni and cheese.  “The will of God is not Easy  Mac.  It requires preparation.”

Preparation.  In a world of instant everything, that’s something we try to get out of, but I don’t think that the best God wants for me is fake cheese and three and a half minutes in the microwave.

I bet it looks a lot more like what my mom makes: butter, cornstarch, milk, real cheese.  At least twenty minutes on the stove, lots of stirring.  It’s worth waiting for, worth watching the preparation process, worth being a part of.

Not totally roasted.

I’ve got a new best friend.  First name: Aloe. Last name: Vera.

Honestly, whoever thought of the idea of making that stuff into a gel and selling it (for just over $7.00… not my favorite part) deserves a piece of cake.  Four hours at the beach left me a little fried today.

Really, most days leave me feeling a little bit fried.  Like I’ve been sitting on a charcoal grill with the flames of life trying to roast me.  The charcoal pieces of classes and responsibilities with the stuff you squirt on charcoal to make it light on fire (what in the world is that stuff called?) of emotions and tiredness.

What’s that verse? We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair… So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  How about:

We are sunburnt but not fried.  Tired but not exhausted.  Busy but not in over our heads.  Worn out but not left to weather it alone.  Nearing finals but also almost done with a very busy semester.

Light and momentary troubles.

Light because we do not bear our burdens alone, not because the burden isn’t significant.  Momentary because we don’t carry the same burden eternally.

And with that, it’s time for more aloe vera.


spring beauty

Some days are almost too beautiful for words.  Not that words aren’t beautiful or don’t convey beauty well, but they just don’t seem to suffice sometimes.

Like today.  Today the Windy City has more of a gentle breeze.  The sun barely hides behind the clouds at all, and you can feel its heat on your skin.  Our campus has come out of hibernation today, to play frisbee, soccer and to lay in the sun.  Then there are those poor orchestra kids who have to rehearse their oratorio… inside.

It’s beautiful all right.

So many things about today just scream beauty.  It’s yet another reminder of the creator of beauty, the one with the imagination and power that brings about days like these.

It kind of leaves me at a loss for words.  All I can say is, “so beautiful…”  again and again.

Ah, spring.  Thank you for being here today.

Books and such.

I started adding books to my summer reading list this morning, and it almost made me want to retract my applications for summer jobs.  But then I remembered that groceries and plane tickets and child sponsorships cost money, so I decided to keep up the job hunt.

It seems that no matter how many books I’ve read, I’m still behind.  There are always classics that I’ve been meaning to get to that have just slipped through the cracks.  Then there are those new books that keep coming out (don’t they know that they shouldn’t publish any more high-quality literature until I’ve caught up?!?), so I have to add those, too.

Speaking of books, I know a place that has a bunch.  I spend a lot of time there.  Yep, it’s the library.


That’s pretty much where I live, in that green chair in the first floor on the left side as you’re about to go up the stairs.  Sometimes I mix it up, but that chair has an outlet next to it and is near the reference section, so it works out well.

It won’t be appropriate to spend four out of seven days a week at the library once I graduate.  So, it’s good to do it now.  That’s my stage of life: part-time jobs, living in a dorm, going to classes, and having a special spot in the library.

Maybe that’s what it means to be 19.

Tuesday dreams.

It’s just another Tuesday where the rain pours down outside, I stare into space frequently, and I get ten times more done than I did on the sunny day prior to this one.

This is what I did yesterday.  Dried my finger and toe nails in the sun.


As you can tell, it wasn’t the most productive day.  Unless you, like me, consider a slight sunburn on your nose and a tan line on your neck –  that only you can tell is there – productivity.

Rainy Tuesdays are good days to ponder what you want to do with your life.  They’re good days to talk to your advisor. When he asks you what you want to do after college and you say, “Well, I just want to write, but you can’t tell people that you just want to write…” it’s a good time for him to respond, “You can tell me that,” with a smile.

So you are immediately relieved from having to explain what you mean by that, because all you know is that you want to write.  You aren’t particularly interested in being a poet or a journalist, but you wouldn’t turn down an offer to be a novelist or a screenplay writer.

Unfortunately, people don’t just hire novelists.  So when you say that you just want to write, maybe novels, maybe just stories, maybe screenplays, people give you blank stares (unless they are extremely special.  then they get excited for you… like my mom and dad and a select group of other people) and half smiles.  You know that they’re wondering why you aren’t making a real contribution to society.  And they’re wondering if you enjoy living in a cardboard box and eating saltine crackers, because that’s what you’ll be able to afford unless Oprah picks your book for her book club.

And that doesn’t really matter to you.  You’re not super concerned about the paycheck.  You’d just like to put words on paper and tell stories and make people think.

That’s really it.

So you talk about that and decide that you’re okay with the stigma of looking like you’re an underachiever since you don’t know what life after college holds, but it’s definitely not six figures.

At least something is certain.

That’s Tuesday for you.

Fight, flight, or opossum.

Some strange things happen in the frozen food aisle of Jewel-Osco.

Sometimes you and your friend, Liesel, decide that you’re not going to make anything gourmet for dinner tonight (since you usually make something super classy like… bagel pizzas or rice with microwavable veggies).  Nope, you’re going to get frozen macaroni and cheese that contains about 40% of your daily saturated fat.

And you’re going to accidentally walk in on a fight between two groups of girls in the frozen food aisle.

It’s unclear exactly how they upset each other, but all you know is that you’re in the middle, expletives are flying – along with insults and threats -, and you just want macaroni and cheese.  So you stand, facing the food, hearing the accusations and nasty words flying.

You just happened to slip into the aisle in between these two groups of angry females at the wrong time.

In case you couldn’t tell, this is actually my story.

In this type of situation, most people have the fight or flight response.  This means you either choose to engage in the conflict (fight) or you run away from it (flight).

In our case, we chose… opossum.  We stayed right where we were, didn’t look at either group of angry women, and mumbled things to each other like, “So, which one do you want?” and “I don’t know, how about you?” over and over again without actually realizing what we were saying until their conflict subsided.

That’s called “playing opossum”.  Pretend you’re not there.  Pretend to be dead.  Pray that they don’t include you in the conflict.  You have no opinion in the matter and would rather not be involved.

That, dear friends, is how you handle a shouting match that you are not involved in when you encounter it in the frozen food aisle.  I hope that’s helpful.  Any questions?

Hallway praising.

I’m in the hallway.

You’ve probably been here before, too.  I walked out one door and found myself in the hallway, not sure of where to go next.  There are a few doors here: one that is slightly open extremely heavy, one that is locked shut tightly, a really small one that I think might be unlocked, but I’ve no hope of ever fitting through it, and a window – but we’re on the second floor, so that’s not really an exit.

I’m not really sure what to do. I’ve got time, energy, skills, but no idea what to do with them for three months while I’m home.  All I know is that I have absolutely nothing planned for my summer.

I’m in the hallway.

I might not even need to stay in this building.  Or maybe I need to recruit a strong friend and shove the heavy door open.  Maybe it’d be better to find the key to the locked door.  Maybe I need to learn to scale walls from the second floor down to the first.  Maybe I need to squeeze myself through the tiny door, get squished a little.

I don’t think I’m here by accident.  I’m pretty sure that I got put here for a reason.  Maybe it’s to figure out that the hallway doesn’t just have to be a place we go through.  Maybe it’s a place to stay for a bit.  Maybe I’ll discover something about the hallway that I didn’t know about before.

My dear friend, Christina, who has just begun her blogging journey at “Thoughts From A Porch Swing” had this quote on her Facebook a little while ago: “Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway.”

I’m in the hallway.  And I’m praising.

I’m so excited to tell this story in four and a half months.  “I had my whole summer in front of me, no plans.  I didn’t have a job, kept trying to find one and getting doors shut, didn’t have any trips planned, no agenda at all.  THEN, Jesus did this….”

I’ll keep you posted.  The end to that story will come.

Simple Fridays.

Photo on 4-19-13 at 1.40 PMThis is my “it’s Friday and I just got an email that I get to be a Writing Advisor next semester and live in a two-person apartment with my best friend and I need another cup of coffee and just took a ten minute nap” face.

So, now there’s another cup of coffee brewing.

That’s Friday for you, simply put.