Butter softening.


Taking flour and sugar and all their pantry companions and mixing them up and putting them in my oven brings me such happiness. It’s a way of creating an edible, gift-able thing.

But I have such a problem with allowing butter to soften.

I either forget to set it out before I start baking, start baking spontaneously and therefore can’t plan to set the butter out, or set the butter out and forget to bake. I nearly always have to resort to that tricky microwave butter softening where you try to get it just right and never do. It’s a quick solution to a problem that needs time.

Fortunately, nothing has ever blown up in the oven because the butter wasn’t soft enough, but I’m just waiting for the day when it’ll make an enormous different in how tasty my scones or muffins or cakes are. The day is coming, folks, and I’m going to wish that I had the capacity to soften butter well.

I have no problem with the rest of the baking process. I’m great at a following a recipe and even better at improvising. I can measure, sift, shake, cut, blend, mix, stir, whisk, separate, scoop, fold, beat, pour, scrape, and test with all the other amateur bakers. It’s just that tricky butter softening.

Someday, folks. Someday the butter will be soft when I try to beat it into the sugar. Someday.

Mixed up.


I’ve been thinking about places this week, how I was here at school but then I was home. Then I came back. Then I went to the woods for a weekend and then I came back to school.

I’m all mixed up because at school you check items off the never-ending to-do list. At home you sleep in your own bed, wake up to the smell dad-made coffee, eat at a table with people who’ve known you your entire life, and hug people. In the woods, you sit on a broken tree and contemplate death and life and how the trees go through cycles of that and how you go through cycles of that and my, aren’t your fingers cold since it’s snowing, and you write it all down. Then you come back to school and re-work your resume.

See what I mean? Place determines what you do, how you feel, how you feel about what you do, and what you do about how you feel. It determines your diet, your activities, your sleep, your waking moments, your soul state.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but it seems like where I am determines who I am. Not that I’m amorphous but that I’m multi-faceted. I bet you are, too.

Maybe part of growing up is figuring out how to manipulate place so that I can be all things in all places. Or maybe part of growing up is knowing that I can’t.

Maybe it’s more about being where I am.

Hunker down.


I have ten tabs open on my browser right now. And they all must stay open until they are dealt with. Every single one.

This is what busy weeks are like. When you add buying an international plane ticket and applying for a visa and a paper to start writing and an event you’re thinking about going to and that other to-do list full of the things you’re behind on it makes it even more brain-frying. We weren’t meant to operate this way, I don’t think. I’m pretty sure I operate better with one tab open. Just one. Oh, wait I can close that tab. Now there are only nine open.

Breathe in; breathe out. Is your week like this? If it’s not, I bet you’ve had this before, and you’ll have it again. Not to be a downer. I mean, the positives are that I’m going to get loads of things done this week. (Or I won’t, and I’ll be behind)

It’s a reminder to live each moment to the fullest, not in the throw your arms open wide and sing way but in the hunker down and check things off of your list one by one so that you might have free time and an uncluttered mind (or less cluttered) someday in the near future way.

That’s what this week looks like. I’m in my closet sorting papers and checking lists and hoping I didn’t forget anything then remembering something I forgot and adding it to the list. It’s like one giant run-on sentence, and then, and then, and then.

We can do it, you and me. We can tackle one thing at a time (because if we try more than one we’ll sink) and cross them off. We can work until a reasonable bedtime and pick up the list again in the morning.

It’s all going to get done eventually. And it might work out if it doesn’t get done. Maybe.

B23 dreams.


I sat in B23 at Midway last night for an hour and a half before my flight took off… because the L surprised me with its speed in transportation (a first). During that time, Congress voted to re-open the government. So during the last 30 seconds of voting, a small crowd stood and gathered around the TV screen to see if the House would pass the bill, too.

It did. I’m happy that government workers will be able to get back to work. I wouldn’t enjoy being forced out of work without pay, so even though I’m thoroughly dissatisfied with our government as a whole, I can’t be so petty as to extend that dislike to the government’s employees.

Let’s talk about why I’m dissatisfied with the government. What is the government’s function anyways? What are they supposed to be doing? Is it arguing to no end about whether or not we should continue to spend money that we don’t have? (See: this hilarious and close-to-home SNL skit) Why did we elect representatives in the first place?

I had this crazy notion when I joined the voter population last fall that I had the power to elect representatives who cared about the same things that I cared about – or at least similar ones. I had this insane idea that government employees were responsible enough to manage the power and responsibility we’ve given them.

I’m probably an idealistic teenager who will eventually become hardened to the idea that governments can be nothing but corrupt, people will push their own agendas when they have the power to do so regardless of consequences, and Washington is no place for honest people who actually want to make a difference. Also, term limits will never happen, and when you call your representatives, it doesn’t do anything.

But I have this idea that we’re really missing the point of government with this whole body of people we’ve got that we call Congress. Isn’t the purpose of a good, just federal government to provide the infrastructure necessary for the state governments to be united and take care of the people in their constituency based on their most pressing needs? Wasn’t the idea with federalism that the federal government is needed, but there had to be a government closer to the people so that they didn’t forget what the people needed?

I’m pretty sure this isn’t what our founding fathers had in mind. Maybe they had the idea wrong, too, but we’re so far away from being the dreamland we make ourselves out to be that I can’t help but wonder if their ideas would be better.

Speaking of dreamland, I have a few dreams: I dream of a government where leadership means service, not power. I dream of a system that lives within its means, like any normal human being should. I dream of a government where my representatives know who I am and what I care about. I dream of an educated population who elects their representatives based on the content of their character rather than their charisma or inflated promises. I dream of a government who protects its people and their rights rather than sticks their noses into every single aspect of their lives.

Ah, I dream of reform.

Constant.


Chilly winds and gray skies are ushering in the new season with pomp and colder temperatures today. Leaf tornadoes are everywhere, and I can feel the shift in my ears and the tip of my nose.

It’s a good day to be going home, to reorient myself in the familiar to gear up for the change. I’m hearing An Affair to Remember play in my head, “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.” Indeed, it must.

I talked to someone this week who said that it only seems like change happens as an event. Really, change is constant; we just hang on tight to what we know until we can’t know it anymore. Sounds like we’re all living in denial when we think life isn’t changing and uprooting around us constantly.

I think she’s right, for the most part. Change is always, maybe even a constant if we want to be paradoxical. But not everything is changing all the time. Sure, maybe so many things change at once that it seems nothing is constant, but they take turns.

The leaves are on the ground instead of clinging to branches, and the wind has a harsher feel, but the sidewalks that take me home to my apartment are still flooded with children with backpacks at 3:30, and there’s still a brick wall out my window. And the trains still run all the way to the airport.

Morning singing.


This morning while I talked to God about life and the people I’m praying for today and how much I need Him, I had a flashback.

I don’t know how many times this happened, but I remember it like it was regular. Perhaps because I’m longing to be back with my family so much, it’s more vivid. I must have been at least 3 since my sister was already in school, but no older than 5. Maybe my mom will remember.

I remember creeping down to my parents’ room in the morning, where my mom sat reading her Bible. My dad was already at work, so it was just the two of us. I remember sitting on her bed and singing the songs from Bible Study Fellowship together:

Good morning, God! This is your day. I am your child. Show me your way.

O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Oh Lord, we praise your name. Oh Lord, we magnify your name, Prince of Peace, Mighty God. Oh, Lord God Almighty.

God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me. He answers prayer, He answers prayer, He answers prayer, He’s so good to me. I love Him so, I love Him so, I love Him so, He’s so good to me.

There were more, but memory fails me. I remember looking at the music and lyrics she had with her, but not actually being able to read them. It wasn’t a problem, though, because I knew the tunes at least.

It was the most natural thing to sing with my mom about our Lord in the morning, together, on her bed. It’s one of the most beautiful snapshots of my early childhood that I can remember.

I bet that’s a tradition that doesn’t have to stop.

homonyms are beautiful.


Take three. I started two relatively insipid posts then realized that I didn’t really have anything to say.

So, two hours later, I’m trying again. That’s real life. I was going to blog about why singing in the shower will make you a more efficient person, but that might not be a hard and fast law, so I don’t want to risk lawsuit.

Tonight, my heart rejoices that breaks happen. Breaks as in time off and breaks as in fissures or cracks. Sometimes you need a day off, and sometimes you need to be cracked or for something else to crack. Sometimes a fissure in your schedule gives you the ooomph to keep going, and sometimes a crack in your self just gives you something to focus on.

We can brake and take a break to catch our breath, and we can break and be broken to be fixed up better than we were before. Sometimes you brake to slow down, and sometimes you brake to stop. And sometimes you break a little bit, and sometimes you break down.

And I think they’re all good. And they all have a place, even though we’d much rather brake to take a break than break and be forced to brake because we’re broken.

Homonyms, you beautiful things.

Pep talk/guilt trip.


Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 7.47.05 PMQuick meme didn’t think my title for my meme was funny enough, but I think “Blog-crastinator” is pretty hilarious.

Okay, so maybe hilarious doesn’t totally encompass it.

Maybe you can relate to me day today: The to-do list isn’t super long, at least not the things that are pressing. The only really pressing things are either quick and simple or they include eating pumpkin pie (it is urgent, trust me). I spent the morning catching up with a friend and the afternoon reading through paperwork and figuring things out for studying abroad.

Oh, yeah, announcement time: If you didn’t already know, I’ll be Austria next semester! Woohoo!

Can you see the scatterbrained, unfocused thing going on here?

I’m blogging right now rather than when I get my thoughts all together because a) if I don’t take some time to write things down, my thoughts will never come together and b) this is real life. This lack of organization and hilarity and motivation is real.

Which makes me think that it might be time for a pep talk. Do you need it, too?

Hey there. Yes, you. I see you. I know you have things to do.

No judgment, really, but you have such a great work ethic. You really do, most of the time. I can see you getting all those little things done in like half an hour. Really. You are such a stud when it comes to getting things done. Maybe it’ll take an hour, but either way, won’t you feel better at the end of that hour than you would if you just sat around?

Exactly.

You know it, and I know it. Aristotle (or your equivalent) has been waiting to spend time with you all day. Your relaxation later will feel even better if you get up and at ’em now.

I think that may have been more of a guilt trip. But that might just be what I need right now.

Cheers to productivity!

 

Judging the Psalmist.


At the risk of making you think that I’m a liar, I’ll tell you that it’s hard to be honest. But you already knew that.

I know I’m not the first to walk a road where I’d rather not be. I’m not the first to think that when I’m somewhere I’d rather not be that I should simply tell myself that it’s temporary. I’m not the first to think that I have to just keep speaking truth to myself, even though my heart doesn’t believe it. I’m not the first to think that I have to just keep pressing into the challenges until they give way.

Maybe there’s more to be said for giving up and being honest. Maybe there’s more to be said for not pressing into the challenge for just a few minutes and sitting on the floor while telling God why this isn’t fair. Maybe there’s more healing in that.

I’m not saying that we should all sit around and complain all the time. Heavens, no. That only perpetuates the feeling that we’ve somehow been wronged in all this. I’m talking about an honest conversation to God about what’s going on and how we feel about it, telling Him that we’re counting on Him to bring us through.

I know God knows everything about me. He knows who I am, how I feel, what I want, what I need, why I’m here, where I’m going, and what it going to take to get me there…. even when I don’t know, or maybe especially when I don’t know. That being said, why wouldn’t I be honest, at the very least, with Him? Even if I don’ t lay it all out before anyone else, why can’t I tell God?

The Psalmist did. I know I’m not the first to see that and realize that it’s not something to condemn but rather to emulate, but there it is. I’ve got my role model.

I get embarrassed for the Psalmist sometimes when I read the Psalms. I get all Christian-y and judgmental, don’t you know that God will bring you out of your troubles? Don’t you know that He’s present? Why do you tell God what He already knows instead of trying to spout what you think He wants to hear?

Certainly, there’s something to be said for faith under trial, for continuing to believe that God works in difficulties, but isn’t being honest with Him a better picture of that? Instead of saying, I know you’re good, so I’ll eventually be good. Don’t worry about me. I want to say, I know you have better for me and this is part of bringing me there, but this is hard, and I NEED YOU.

It’s another part of the journey, a lesson that doesn’t come all at once or get engrained in my habits in a blink of an eye. If anyone has every told you that walking with Jesus ever gets easy, tell them they need to read the Bible again.

Facetious.


A few weeks ago, I sat at a soccer game with Liesel and Travis. Travis follows my blog and seems to like what he finds here. So, during the time we were at the game, he sat next to me and pointed to everything within view, “Hey, Ashley… you should blog about that.” “Goal posts?” “Yeah, it’d be great.”

Then somebody said, “facetious,” and Travis jumped on that. “Facetious, you should blog about that!” Of course, Liesel responded by reminding us both that it’s one of the few (or maybe the only) word where all the vowels are present – in order. Oh baby. And if you make it ‘facetiously,’ then the not-always-vowel ‘y’ is in there, too.

From dictionary.com:

fa·ce·tious

[fuh-see-shuhs]  

adjective

1. not meant to be taken seriously or literally: a facetious remark.
2. amusing; humorous.
3. lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous: a facetious person.
Origin: 
1585–95; facete + -ious; see facetiae
Can be confused: facetious, factiousfactitiousfictionalfictitious.
Facetiousness is on the same level with sarcasm, though The Common Parlance says this about the difference:
So, the difference appears to be that facetious is a comment that is cute and not hurtful, while sarcasm is irony intended to taunt. Of course, many mask sarcasm in the guise of facetiousness, so as not to offend (as much).
I wonder where facetious and sarcastic belong in my life. I wonder where I should put them. I’m sure a facetious comment about how cooperative our sink is being to the physical plant guys would be appropriate (but they’re too focused on fixing the sink for me to interrupt them). I’m sure a sarcastic comment to a random passerby about how much I love the fact that they’re wearing leggings as pants would not be a very Jesus-like way to act (even though leggings are NOT pants).

Facetious is like the diplomatic cousin of sarcasm. It’s the sweeter, less bitter version. I think I like facetious.

This post is dedicated to Travis, for all his support and goofy inspiration.