Purge number 2.

I thought I had purged through my belongings last summer before I left for school.  I thought I’d gotten rid of tons of things, that I was down to a reasonable amount of possessions.

Insert picture of my room, in words since I’m too ashamed to show you the real thing:

You cannot walk in there.  Not even one step.  Thankfully, I got everything to a point where I can now open the door almost fully, but it’s a squeeze.  There are boxes everywhere, and since I haven’t unpacked them but have needed things that are in them, they have a little halo of their contents around them, too.  There’s a set of drawers sitting on my floor as well as an easel, a printer, three shopping bags, and a pile of clothing.  I already had boxes of things that I didn’t know what to do with lining my room before I came home, so that just adds to the mess.  My bed hasn’t been made yet today, and my closet is full – but I still have belongings from college to put in there.

Then there are those four boxes in the entryway that have been sitting there since they arrived in Monday a la USPS since I had no where to put them.

This is one of those moments where I could panic and say I don’t know where to being, so why not just sit here and stress about it some more.

But instead, I shall listen to a podcast and start pulling things out of my closet.  I’ll increase the mess in order to decrease the amount fo stuff I have.  I will make multiple trips to Goodwill and will save my tax-deductable receipts.  I’m going to pare down my life because if college has taught me anything (which is has, many things other than this), it has taught me that I can live simply and in a small space.  I have a feeling that will come in handy later in life.

So, without further ado, I begin PURGE NUMBER 2.

Pep talk day.

Sometimes you just need a little pep talk to get you through the day.  I’ve been told that I’m a pretty decent pep talk giver, so here goes.

For the almost high school grads:

You’re almost done.  You know that, but you really are.  And you’re never going to be in high school again.  You’re never going to have to sit through eight hours of class in the same building five days a week after this school year.  Give it all you’ve got!  Smile at all the underclassmen you see and be generous with high fives and smiles.  You can’t go back and re-do high school classes without a significant amount of embarrassment, so make the most of those, too!  You’ll get your diploma soon enough, but until then, enjoy your time with your classmates and don’t wish the time away.  YOU CAN DO IT.

For the workplace warriors:

You.  You are really great.  You faithfully go to your place of employment on a regular basis to bring home the bacon (unless you’re a vegetarian like me, in which case, you bring home the lettuce).  I bet your co-workers love you.  And if they don’t, I’m sure you could buy their love with a plate of cookies.  Spread the love around your workplace.  There’s definitely enough to go around even if it doesn’t go around enough.  Do a little dance in your rolly chair at your desk today in celebration of the fact that you are pretty awesome.

College kiddos:

I get you.  You’re either sitting in the library preparing for finals and wishing you were at the beach or working retail and wishing you were at the beach.  But really, what good happens at the beach?  People lay around.  They don’t get As or paychecks.  They get SUNBURNS and sand in their sandwiches, eyes, and shorts.  You are building a future, free of skin cancer that will benefit more than just you.  Way to go.  You rock, more than real rocks – which is remarkable.

If I missed your category, please forgive me and let me know what your category is.  Now, to the rest of you: may you be full of pep today and pass the pep on to someone who needs it.

Ashley the cheerleader, over and out.

Who I Am.

I keep looking back.  The rearview mirror is perpetually before me, asking me to look deeper into it, to tell everyone what I see.  I have a few blind spots into the past, but as I get farther from it, the easier it is to see what I left behind.  Then I can evaluate and let it continue to shape me.

The only problem is that I shouldn’t do that.  The only problem is that when you’re driving through life looking in your rearview mirror, you don’t look ahead.

It’s not all dark in the past, and that’s the problem.  I’ve been blessed with many bright spots in my life, though I’ve certainly had a portion of grief that has made the journey a more formative one.  Sometimes I’d like to be defined by who I was, by what I did.  When you’re a college student, studying all the time and having time for just a few extras, sometimes you want to lean on who you were.  Well, yeah I’m working for my degree and doing little else right now (except trying to find a place that hires just for the summer, do you know any?), but this is who I was.  I’m proud of that girl.  I did this and went there and cared about that and knew about that before you, I’m sure.  

Chris Tiegreen has words for me:

“Our lives will be shaped not by our past, as the psychologists insist, but by our future, as our God insists. We will grow into the image He has given us.”

He’s talking about my future, the kingdom of God coming to earth, Jesus reigning.

He’s talking about a place and a purpose that makes who I was of little importance.  It’s who I am today that matters and that I’m holding tightly to God’s hand as He leads me to become the person He wants me to be.  Sure, the past is certain – though the perspective about it may change – but the future is the unknown, the determinable, the part that should shape my life.

I think God wants me to dream, not about where I’ve been and how proud or ashamed I am of that but about where He’s taking me, to let Him put His dreams on my heart and in my mind.  I think He wants me to set aside any thought that I have that who I was matters and to take up the state of mind that it’s who I am that is my concern.

Mom prose.

For about six or seven years, every year on Mother’s Day, my sister and I would sing a song for my mom.  We usually modified hymns so that they applied to my mom instead.  Lines like, “our mom is an awesome mom” and “we will love you in the morning, and we will learn to do what you say” are pretty characteristic of these tunes.

Fortunately, we had a tape recorder back in those days, so those sweet little voices, singing sort of cheesy but totally heartfelt parodies for our mom are preserved for as long as there are tape players.  Maybe cassettes will have the same resurgence as vinyl has, and they’ll be heard for generations to come.

I sat by the stereo tonight, rewound the tape so that I could get it ready for when my mom comes upstairs for breakfast tomorrow, and wished I had written her another song.  I intended to just rewind it, but I found myself listening to every song, hearing the voices slightly mature with each year’s recording.

As I listened to them, I realized that it might have been slightly sacrilegious to change the words from glorifying God to honoring my mom, but I think the heart of it was right.

As much as I long to be a mother someday, the thought of having the responsibility for another person’s life and upbringing terrifies me. Even pregnancy and childbirth is daunting enough without a lifetime of relationship to follow.  I’m so thankful to my mom for being brave, for facing parenthood with arms wide open (and my dad, too, but it’s not his day yet).

Thank you, Mom, for frequent embraces and reminders that you love me.  Thank you for making Jesus a priority right from the start and putting me in environments where I could learn for myself what my relationship with God should look like.  Thank you for both opening your ears to me to listen and your mouth to share your wisdom and insight.  Thank you for teaching me discipline and how to do my own laundry early on.

Thank you for reminding me of truth when my circumstances caused me to forget.  Thank you for teaching me how to practice hospitality and that food is always the best way to show someone that you care.

This past year has been a constant progression into new seasons of life: empty nest, partially empty nest when Brooke finished college, full nest for the summer even though Brooke works all week, half empty nest when I go back in the fall, totally empty nest when Brooke gets married in January… Yet, through the seemingly constant transition mode, we’ll learn what our relationship as mother and adult daughters looks like.

It’s a challenge worth accepting.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.


What you do on Fridays.

Sometimes you don’t blog for a couple days because you just finished your freshman year of college, but you don’t want to say anything cheesy about it before you’ve had some time to process it.  So you put it off, because you know you want to write about it, but you want to do it well, you know?

So, you wait and think and wait.  And you start a food blog because it seems like it would be a good idea.  And you leave campus, not to return for a few months – waving goodbye to freshman status, dorm life, and cafeteria food.  You hug good friends and wish you could combine your life at home with your life at school so that you never had to miss anyone.

Then you climb in the car that is filled to maximum capacity of all the things you had in that little dorm room of yours and bring a friend with you to help put off at least one goodbye.

And you quick write a blog post while it’s still Friday so that you can blog without feeling annoying on Saturday as well.

The irreverence of autocorrect.

Autocorrect is so irreverent.  I’m a fair weather advocate for autocorrect.  Sometimes it’s helpful, and sometimes it changes “bittersweet” to “hitters week,” and I almost don’t see it.  It almost made that heartfelt tweet into something incredibly confusing and possibly violent.

I type things about Jesus on my phone all the time because He’s kind of a huge deal.  I’ve never, ever, ever typed “Jesus wept.”  It’s a good verse but not one I typically share with my friends to encourage them.  Still, every single time – every single time – I type “Jesus,”  it predicts the next word as ‘wept.”

Obviously my phone doesn’t really understand my faith.  I think I need to tell it about how Jesus does so much more for me and all of humanity than weep.  Because, really, that’s not the point of it.

Pearl, you need a better understanding of Jesus than that.

She predicts what she thinks I’m going to type next, so I’m just going to let her pick the words of a sentence about Jesus.  Let’s see what she thinks.  Here’s her sentence suggestion (I picked the top suggestions after “Jesus wept,” one word at a time):

Jesus wept over Jerusalem the time to time and money on the phone with a coffee cup of coffee and tea and coffee and tea and coffee. I saw the pictures of the other person is a time of preparation for the first time but I know that the struggle of high school drama does not compare to the word spoken to you by the way to fix the problem.

Well. That made a lot of sense.

Apparently I tie Jesus in with coffee a lot and talk about high school drama (have I ever typed that?!?!?).  I suppose this is just a reminder to check my texts before I send them, making sure that I haven’t said anything atrocious.

Oh, autocorrect.

What I’ll miss.

imageOh, Chicago.  If only you had gotten warmer sooner.  You’d be so much easier to leave.  I’d have had plenty of time to wander along beautiful neighborhood streets on my way to get ice cream while the trees put their new leaves on display.

I have a feeling that I’m going to need to spend more time in the less suburban areas of Minnesota this summer.  Truly, what good is it to be city-savvy if you’re only savvy in one city?

I’ll work on my city driving skills.

I’m going to miss this place and these people.  Now that my parents are a short train ride/short drive/long walk away (but only temporarily), it’s an ideal place to be.  Granted, Brooke and Alex are in Minnesota, and my extended family is still far away, but it’s a step in the right direction.

I’m going to miss the familiar, monotonous voice of the L, especially when it tells you that you’re at Irving Park but the sign outside the window says Addison.  I’m going to miss riding through people’s backyards and behind apartment complexes and dreaming about maybe one day having one of the tinier, cheaper ones.

I’m going to miss having to be extra vigilant for flying discs on sunny, warm days and how all of a sudden the whole community comes together when the weather is beautiful.

I might miss sharing a bathroom with 30 other girls.

Maybe not.

I’ll probably miss all the food options Chicago offers, how varied it is, how you could go to a new place every week.  I’ll miss how inundated we are with Swedishness here.

I’ll miss my view out my window to Foster Ave and the continuous, noisy bustle of city life.

I’ll miss my friends, most of whom I won’t see for at least 4 months.

But I’ll be back.  That’s the beauty of leaving a non-vacation spot.  There’s a plan to come back and a tuition deposit that says I’ll be here in the fall.  It’s bittersweet, like all goodbyes.


Regaining humanity.

We all know what I could be doing right now.  I could be studying Microbes and Society.  I could be reading for Personal Health.  I could be writing for Old Testament Poetry and Wisdom Lit.

I could be packing up all my knee socks since I probably won’t need them this week.  I could be making a list of all the things I should do before I leave.

But, instead, I’m blogging.  Sometimes, it’s a discipline, to take time to write something completely non-academic every day (but sometimes I skip days).  I’m taking time for creativity since biology surely doesn’t need it, personal health doesn’t appreciate it, and packing definitely requires it but in different capacities than I’d like to exercise it right now.

We spent the weekend on Michigan time, which shouldn’t mess you up too badly since it’s only an hour ahead of central time, but I think it did a number on me.  Either that, or the staying up late, not having much of a set schedule, waking up early, and going back and forth from Chicago to Michigan and back for finals has made me feel all messed up.

It’s okay. I just need a reset.  That’s what my mom said at dinner tonight.  “I just need a hard reset.  A good night of sleep, a shower, then I’ll be good.”

Maybe it’s less of a reset and more like restart.  We’re not going to have to rewrite the hard drive or anything here, we just need to close all the programs, be quiet for a little bit, then boot ‘er back up again.

I think the fact that we’re talking about ourselves like computers is an indication that we may not be at our human-est right now.

I’ll be back to spew words into posts tomorrow, after I shut down for a little bit.  I think I’ll have regained some humanity then.

In progress.

It was swelteringly hot the day we moved her in to her freshman dorm.  The welcome week staff helped us get all her belongings into her triple-occupancy room, where we would soon meet her roommates.

10219_139471848370_3361939_nIt was just a few weeks ago, wasn’t it?  We left her there, and my mom cried.  And we drove back to Minnesota so I could go be a sophomore in high school.

But it must have been longer than a few weeks ago or a few months, because she spent three and a half years there.  And I finished high school and went through an entire year of college (minus finals week, which is coming tomorrow).  And we’re different now, all of us.  The time went quickly but made its mark.  She’s got a real, big-girl job now and a fiancé and wedding plans.  And I’ve got a new city and friends and dreams.  And my parents had an empty nest for a semester until Brooke came back home to live there for a bit.

I’m still getting used to the way life works: circumstances change before you’re ready for them to change.  You picture the future, and in this dreamy future, you’re a different person with better habits and fewer rough edges.  Then you get to that point in your life and are shocked to find that you haven’t come as far as you thought you would have by this point.

I suppose we expect to be a finished product a little bit too soon.  But we really sell ourselves short of how much we could grow if we say we must be done growing by adulthood.  We’ll miss out on the changing process if we have to cram it all in eighteen years.

Today, what it means to be nineteen is that time flies by, and I’m not who I expected I’d be, but I’m a work in progress, with an emphasis on the in progress part.


Dental Wars.

It’s May fourth.  And if I didn’t feel like such a hypocrite saying it, I’d say something about Star Wars and May the fourth…  But I feel that it’d be inappropriate for me to just jump on the bandwagon today since I’ve never actually watched any of the Star Wars movies from beginning to end.  I’ve seen sections of the old ones on TV and part of one of the newer ones when I nannied this summer, but I’ve never stuck with it from start to finish.

So, that confession made, I will refrain from wishing you anything related to Star Wars today.

Today’s the day that Brooke picks up her cap and gown and visits her Holland, MI friends.  Today’s the day that I sit in a hammock and write a paper about Ruth.

I should probably also brush my teeth at some point.

Something about not being in my normal environment makes me forget key things, like brushing my teeth.  Man, I’m just full of embarrassing confessions today.  Now that you’ve been invited into these deep, dark secrets of lack of Star Wars knowledge and dental hygiene, you are free to go about your day.  You can forget that I ever told you.

Maybe take this opportunity to brush your teeth and think about if you are actually qualified to post a facebook status about Star Wars.