City memoir.

After being back in my beloved suburb for a couple weeks, my two trips downtown for my internship this week were like coming home.  Ah, tall, shiny buildings.  Pedestrians galore.  Business people everywhere.  It fits me.  I appreciate quiet and green trees and the many lakes of my homeland, but I’m still a city lady.

I’m a city lady who is a copywriting intern and writes press releases.

I just finished reading a collection of essays (really more of a memoir) entitled, I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley.  Her funny and poignant recollections got me thinking that maybe I have enough interesting life experience to write a memoir.  Or a collection of essays.  Granted, I think everyone has enough material to write a memoir, and – because I love reading memoirs – I wouldn’t complain if there was an influx.

When does one start writing a memoir?  Do older people scoff at you if you start one too early?  (Not that that would keep me from writing one, but…) For another matter, when does one start sending things off to publishers?

I still sort of feel like an impostor when I refer to myself as a writer. That might sound silly.  Or maybe you think I am an impostor, in which case, I politely request that you find another blog to read.  (ooh, there’s some sassiness!)

If I send something in to a publisher, which I am contemplating doing this summer (not that I have anything to send yet… I’d have to write it first), I won’t tell you.  Sorry. I’ll buy myself a Writer’s Market and secretly send things off to Canadian magazines and obscure bird-watching magazines first, and I won’t tell you so that I won’t have to tell you when I get a rejection letter.

That’s not me being self-deprecating, people.  Stephen King got tons of rejection letters.  Everybody gets rejection letters.  They make good stories later when someone else accepts the manuscript, and it becomes a bestseller.

I’ll let you know when someone accepts something, a few years down the line though.  And you can say that you’ve been with me through the whole journey (even though I’ll keep all the rejection letters a secret from you).  You’ve still been here.

By the way, I don’t say this enough, thanks for being here.  Thanks for reading.  Thanks for sharing this with your friends.  I’m glad to have you here.

First day.

If you’re getting this message, it means that I’m on my way to my first day of interning.

It’s actually Tuesday night.  I’m cheating by blogging ahead of time.  I know I won’t have time in the morning since I’ve got an office to get to.

Things going through my mind right now:

Is the first day a day to make a fashion statement?  Should I dress mutely or take a small risk?  How much personality is too much?

What should I bring?  

What if I get to the office and no one notices that I’ve gotten there?  Should I just hunt my supervisor down? What if she isn’t there?  What if I say something awkward?

How early is too early to get there?  Don’t want to appear TOO overeager.  Or maybe I do.  Do I? I don’t even know my own mind.

The main question there that I’m able to answer is about what I should bring.  I have four bus passes (just in case the first three aren’t enough for two trips), multiple lip balms, lotions, band-aids (in case things get violent with a copy machine or something), a couple dollars in quarters along with a few of the other coins for good measure, lil bit of cash, my banking information, a journal, a pencil, a Tide to-go pen, another lip balm, allergy medication, ibuprofen,  Tic Tacs, hand sanitizer (what if they run out of soap in the office bathroom?), Sudafed, Vitamin C, and my credit cards in my purse.

Frantically, I’ve been looking around my room, wondering if there’s anything vital I’m missing.  hydrocortisone cream?  Markers? sunglasses? all of my office supplies? (just in case they run out… want to give the impression that I’m prepared for anything)

I almost forgot that I should bring lunch.  That’s out of character, isn’t it?

I’m going to have a great first day.  Jesus and I are going to march in there with all the humility that being an intern entails.  We’re going to make a good impression, be genuine, do hard work, and not mess up with the bus.

It’s going to be great.

Pictures from Tuesday, plus.

Let me paint a couple pictures for you:

  1. You are alone in your house.  It’s not creepy.  It’s nice.  It’s nice… until the CD that has been in the CD player all morning but got to the track where it skips starts making strange noises.  It was quiet for a while then started to make garbley noises every 5 seconds.  Could have been much creepier if you didn’t know that CD skipped.
  2. You haven’t eaten meat in about six months.  Then you get a case of the munchies last night at about 9:00.  You see kosher hot dogs in the fridge.  You think, hmm, maybe that sounds good. Haven’t eaten one of those in a while.  You expect it to taste better than it actually does, even though you coated it in your second favorite condiment – ketchup.  You decide that you’re a happy vegetarian and will likely go for quite some time before consuming one of those again.

Now that you’re updated on my life (in at least a couple respects), let’s talk about the Bachelor(ette).

I get the attraction… sort of.  I mean, I tend to shy away from reality TV unless it’s related to fashion or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (I have no idea why), but I get why people like to watch it.  We genuinely want these people to be happy.  We want them to find the love of their life, and we want to see it.  Or maybe we want to watch the whole thing go to pieces.

Well, by “we,” I mean the people who actually watch it.

I’m a sucker for a good love story.  Really, I am.  But by “good love story,” I don’t mean cheesy chick flicks where no one actually works out the problems that stand in their way (like being completely unsuited to each other or having major differences or already having a significant other) since kissing in the rain and yelling about how you feel about the other person with lots of strange breathing usually seems to fix that.

And I don’t mean reality TV love stories either.  Even though the thought of having a bunch of eligible bachelors brought to you so that they can try to win your heart sounds convenient and sort of flattering, it also sounds fake.  What if you didn’t like any of them?  What if none of them loved Jesus?  What if they didn’t really want to take the time to get to know you?

Aside from those questions, there’s the fact that none of the couples that have come out of the Bachelor have lasted.  Every single one has broken up.  That makes me so sad for the participants, going through so much emotional turmoil to not have it yield anything lasting.  

What if we looked to the people around us to see a good love story?  What if we satisfied our need to hear a good love story by asking the people who have been married for years how they met?  Wouldn’t that be more real?  Wouldn’t that be sweeter?  Wouldn’t we learn more from that?

I think I’m going to start being more nosey about people’s relationships.

Putting my arms back on.

Last night, I spent a beautiful hour in worship at church.  Every song kept talking about what God has done and who He is and what He’s doing.

This is what He’s up to:

The lost are found.

The blind will see.

The lame will walk.

The dead will live.

And You, our God, forever You will reign.

It’s pretty incredible.  That’s what God’s getting up to these days.  He also found me an internship that pays and seems like it will be a perfect fit for me.  I suppose that’s what happens when Jesus gives you three empty months and says trust me.  BOOM. Internship.

You wanna know what I’ve been up to while God is out there finding people and restoring them and reigning?  Oh, I’ve just been hiding in a little, dark corner with some bitterness, frustration, unforgiveness, and anger to keep me company.

I mean, I don’t always live there, and not all of me lives there.  I guess an apt image would be to say that my arms live there.  Just a part of me, but a significant part.

As we worshiped and sang about what God is doing, it struck me that my arms don’t belong there.  It was like Jesus was saying to me look what I’m doing.  Remember that this is what I want to include you in.  Remember who you are and that you are mine.  It’s destructive to stay in that corner.  My arms have been missing out on being a part of what God’s up to.

It takes a little while to put your arms back on.  Stitches are required (at the very least), and those have to heal.  But at least the arms can live in the light, out of the corner where you stew on past hurts and get nowhere.

I’m going to put my arms back on this week.

Moving furniture.

I have a list of 92 books that I want to read this summer.  92.  You’d think that it’s ambitious, but I’m really playing catch-up.  How have I not read so many of the classics?  I mean, sure, I’ve read my fair share, but there are SO many that I overlooked!

So, I’ll read 92 books this summer. Or maybe that will end up bleeding over into next summer.  That’d be okay.

I’m nearing the end of my Purge, folks.  Yesterday, we turned a corner.  I moved furniture.

(this needs some more emphasis)

I… moved….. FURNITURE!!!!  *release balloons and confetti from ceiling and cue cheering track*

It’s a big deal because none of the furniture in my room had moved since I was twelve, when we stripped off the adorable wallpaper of teddy bears having a tea party and painted the walls lime green.  Then we added bead boarding and moved my furniture into the position it was in until yesterday.  My bed stuck out into the middle of the room, smack dab in the middle of everything.  I’m not sure why I thought it was space-efficient to take it from its place by the wall and move it right into my way.

And it was in my way.  I have actually tripped over my bed in my haste to get something on the other side of it.  No joke.  Tripped over my bed

Funny how when things are in your way it can sometimes take 7 years to move them out of the way.  My floor actually looks clean now (partially because I did so much cleaning work prior to the big move), and I have space to sit on the floor if I want to – and I just might!

It makes me wonder what other things I’ve been blind to, what obstacles I’ve ignored because they’ve been in my line of vision for so long.  My family will often set things of mine that have been laying around the house in my doorway, since surely I would notice it there and put it away.  I, on the other hand, typically step over it for a week without a thought before realizing that I should probably find it a home… not in my doorway.

It’s such a relief to have gone through most of my possessions and gotten rid of many of them.  I have two drawers left to go through.  That’s it.  I’m on my way to being a neat person.  I’m nearing the end of The Purge.

I’m getting rid of the obstacles and making room for newness.  I’m rearranging my life to move into adulthood.

Dueling lunch.

Lunch is hard.  I mean, lunch is hard when you’re the only one at home and you’ve already made macaroni and cheese twice this week.  And grilled cheese once. And salad twice. And you’re pretty sure that stir-fry is on the menu for sometime pretty soon, so you don’t want to double up on that.  Not that double stir-fry is horrible, but you’d just rather not do that.

Unfortunately, you’re limited for multiple reasons.  You’re a veggie-o-saurus with a pretty simple palate.  Plus, when you look at the same things in the fridge every day, you start to not see things.  You start to not see possibilities.  It’s just sour cream and slices of cheese and a head of lettuce that’s sort of turning red.

We vegetarians often get put in a box with lettuce.  But sometimes that gets old. Also, there’s very little protein in that box.  So, if you stay there, you might just wither away or want to sleep all the time.  I don’t want to live in a box with lettuce, for a lot of reasons.

You’d make pizza if you had dough, but who makes pizza dough for one?  Does that even exist?  Sure, it’s hard to cook for 500, but it’s equally as hard to cook for one.  Just the opposite problem.

I’m just waiting for the food muses to take over and offer inspiration.  There’s gotta be something. I can conquer lunch.  And I don’t mean conquer as in skipping it.  That’s no solution.

Lunch, I challenge thee to a duel.

Competition and ice cream.

I had forgotten how competitive checkers can be before this evening. Rules go out the window, eerily calm threats of taking the other person down are issued, and at the possibility of loss, surrender is preferable.
I suppose that might only apply to little boys. But it’s hardly fair to call a second and third grader little boys. Maybe I’ll call them medium boys. Not yet to the stage where I’d refer to them as ‘guys’ and certainly not to the stage where I’d call them ‘men.’
That’ll be the day I start feeling old.
This particular game of checkers was one where I forgot that you aren’t allowed to move backwards unless you’re a “king.” Once I remembered that, frustration ensued, and we had to start the game over.
All of a sudden, this rule made the game really hard to play.
I watched them play for a while, then when it turned into a wrestling match, I just sat by and asked questions like, “you can both breathe, right?”
They said they could, but that didn’t keep me from keeping a close eye on them and asking more idiotic questions. Call me paranoid, but I like for everybody to be safe and sound when their parents are out for the evening.
A game of checkers turned into a wrestling match, and when the worrier in me took hold, I offered ice cream since that’s sure to break up any fight. (granted, both participants were laughing, so it might not be considered a real fight)
Thank God for failsafes in life like ice cream.

Interview day.

Today is interview day.  I’ve determined that I will choose to not be nervous because it’s just a conversation with a human being, and Jesus will go with me.

It’s not til 1:00, and I’m already dressed for it.  I’ve got my hair up all professionally, and I’ve got my interview outfit on.  I’ve gone through lists of common interview questions, printed out two copies of my resumé, and thought through what questions I have about the company.

I feel a little strange putting my best foot forward (for one thing, how to I pick a favorite foot? and how do you walk when you’re ONLY putting your best foot forward?  that has to be awkward).  Even though I’m confident that I’d be a good fit for this position, the question what are your accomplishments? trips me up every time.

What the heck qualifies accomplishment?

Um, well, I got out of bed this morning without tripping over the mess on my floor.  I mean, I’m not that messy, but I just got home from college and have been getting rid of a lot of things.  So there’s a lot on my floor.  That’s not really what you asked, but, um….  

Filler words.  Tangential comments.  Bad response.  Let’s try again.

Well, I got a bunch of awards in high school.  I mean, some of them were for volleyball, so you probably don’t care too much about that.  And since I went to a small school there wasn’t a ton of competition, so that doesn’t mean much, I guess.  I got scholarships for my college, but pretty much everyone does at North Park.  

Really, what makes something an accomplishment?  Is it just the achievement – without regard to the competition or difficulty?  Or is it the amount of difficulty or the number of obstacles there were in your way that make it an accomplishment?  Does it have to be recognized by somebody else for it to be an accomplishment?

Oh, please, interviewer, don’t ask that question.  And, Jesus, if she does, give me something good to say.

This’ll be an adventure, an interviewing adventure.

No memos or clichés

I’m having a really hard time spelling today for some reason, and it’s only words with the “ie” thing going on.  If there’s anything I know how to do well, it’s spell.  But for some reason, my fingers think that the rule says “e before i” instead.

Fingers, you’ve got to get back on board.  We’re a team.

I’ve been thinking about how brief life is this morning.  It’s partly due to the fact that I sort of accidentally slept until 10:00 and thus feel like I’ve wasted hours of my day.  But it’s also because people keep dying.

Is it just me, or have there been an extraordinary number of tragedies in the past year that take lives?  Has it always been this common to have school shootings and factories collapsing and tornados and bombings?  Have my eyes been shut to this before?  As troubling as it is that I may have been oblivious to how common this is, it’s even more troubling to me that these people had no notice.

Even though I know this to be faulty, I’ve always had this impression that I’ll be notified at least a week in advance before I head off into eternity.  I don’t know exactly how I thought that would happen.  It’s probably just the typical teen mindset that you’re indestructible that makes me think that death can’t just happen as a surprise, in a flash.

News flash, Ashley.  You don’t usually get a memo.  Even if you’ve got six months to live, that’s not a guarantee.  They don’t give you a date and time unless you’re on death row.   I hate clichés, so I won’t say that this makes me want to live like I’m dying.  I actually think I might do some foolish things if I was dying, along with meaningful things.

I’d rather live like I’m actually alive, like I’m consciously deciding to make the most of my life every second.  I’d rather live in a sustainably meaningful way than to live meaningfully as though I won’t have to keep it up forever.

Today, that means doing some kickboxing and cleaning my room.  I’m still purging because I’d rather live with less stuff.  All this cleaning gives me a lot of thinking time, too, so I can contemplate the life I want to live, who I want to be, who God wants me to be.

And there’s Tuesday for you.

Recovering pack rat musings.

You’d all be so proud of me.  I’m turning a corner in my life.  (I know you’re waiting with baited breath for which corner this could be.)

I recycled stacks of papers yesterday, filled a tall garbage bag, and assembled four big containers of things to take to Goodwill.  I can actually use my closet the way God meant for a closet to be used now.  There’s organization now.  I can actually find stuff.

It’s full of boxes of memories, really.  I haven’t completely laid dormant my sentimental side, so there were things that I couldn’t put in the trash.  Maybe someday, but not yet.  Corsages from formals all four years of high school, stuffed animal friends from childhood, pictures and pictures and more pictures, elementary school projects, meaningful notes.

I’m not sure exactly why I’m saving them, not sure who will care to look at them.  I mean, I will of course, every one or two years when I cull through my things again.  And I’ll smile and remember each event that those things stand for.  It might just be for me.  And maybe that’s enough.  Since it’s likely that I’ll forget those memories without some trigger to bring them back, perhaps it’s enough reason to store away those little things.

I’m a recovering pack rat. I no longer save everything.  I can easily part with many of the things that were once part of my life.  I sent my calculus binder to the recyclers with just a twinge of sadness.  I’m culling out the clutter to make room for new experiences and people. I’m opening up my life to see what God wants to fill it with.

I’ll hang on to my memories and a few little reminders, while still living in the present.  Let THE PURGE continue.