Shared custody.


“Write every day,” they say. So, here I am, doing my writing for today, though my brain feels a little less than sharp at the moment.

Why aren’t you feeling so sharp, Ashley?

Not sure. It probably didn’t have to do with the fact that I had math today. Our worksheet for class today was entitled, “Counting.” Welcome to General Education life.

No, not much has been required of me today. I’m just fuzzy.

But I finally painted my toenails… just in time for a cloudy, cold day where open-toed shoes aren’t really an option. You win some, you lose some, right?

I’ve been trying to walk the line between being responsible and pro-active and being peaceful this week. Those two camps kind of go to war with each other. Responsibility and Pro-activity both say, “Look ahead. Worry. Pace. Write things down. Don’t forget.” And peace? Well, I’m still trying to figure out what peace says. I’m thinking it must say something like, “Look ahead, but don’t worry,” because peace has to still care about my responsibilities, right? I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and say I don’t care.

Or maybe I’m supposed to throw my hands up because I do care? I know I say I need to let go of control all the time (Hi, I’m Ashley. I’m kind of a control freak sometimes), but it’s still true today because I still haven’t figured it out. If you’re sick of reading about real life where people can’t just blog about their issues and move on to something else, then well, I don’t really have anything for you.

I feel like God and I have this shared custody thing going on with my worries and responsibilities and anxieties. Like he’s responsible for all the doing and carrying and making things work, and I’m responsible for… continually giving it to him and taking steps as they come.

I have to remember that I can only walk up on staircase at a time, one step of that staircase at a time.

Whew. And that will be tiring enough.

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Healthy seasons.


Just a little thought before I get going: Sometimes, people on the CTA are creepy. And I’d like to think that they aren’t trying to be creepy. Whoops, I just keep accidentally looking at you when you’re zoning out in my direction. And you didn’t really mean to do that, but you just did. Now you probably feel awkward.

I mean, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt because I feel like I’ve been accidentally creepy before. It wasn’t on purpose, I promise!

If you’ve ever seen me on the CTA, staring at you, please come up with a good excuse for me. I probably have one.

I feel like I’ve been posting about the CTA a lot lately, so I’ll move on.

I’ve got this things for reminiscing about season changes, so I’ve started making Spotify playlists for each season of the year as it relates to my life. I’ve started one for fall. Take a listen if you like indie folk music and other random lovelies, many with the word “fall” in the title.

It’s probably healthier for me to honor each season change than to hang onto my shorts and tank tops in denial, even though the weather has put a ban on warm weather clothing. Denial is rarely a healthy response.

Speaking of healthy responses, in the spirit of having a very “Monday” post of random ideas, I’ve reached my settled in point now. Of course, not everything is solidified yet since we’re only 5 weeks into the semester, but I’m learning how to be self-propelled at my internship, I’ve got a schedule for most of the week down, and I have a countdown going for how many days til I get to go home for Thanksgiving break. Still got that double-mindedness of wanting to be here fully and wanting to be where my family is. I suppose I’ll never lose that.

In case you were wondering, it’s at 57 days.

I’m sure now that I’ve said that I’m settled in, tornados will come through and uproot. Then I’ll have to settle into a new normal, but such is life. Maybe not after your twenties or something, but it seems like that’s pretty much life for me right now. Just keep adapting.

In the spirit of national coffee day, please have a cup. Also, remember that Tuesdays are always better than Mondays. so, you have something to look forward to.

Foreigners on Friday.


Oh baby. We’ve got some non-Chicagoans on this train.
“Where’s the exit for Union Station?”
“Just Google it. Literally, just Google it. It’ll tell you.”
Man stands up and gives one of the women his seat, she says, “Oh, I’m fine.”
Then sits down. “He probably thinks I’m pregnant.”

Then they talk loudly on a train where it’s evident that this is not the status quo.

No, they aren’t from here.

It makes me feel like I’ve morphed into Chicagoan culture pretty well.

In other news, it’s Friday. I wish I wasn’t always so happy when Friday arrives. I don’t want to live for the weekends, but there’s something fabulous about Fridays. Everyone is just a little bit happier.

Oh, gosh, these women did not get the do-not-yell-and-cackle-loudly-on-the-L-memo.

Today I’m thankful that mornings begin a new day and that sleep offers a hard reset. I’m thankful that I can leave crabby and tired in the previous day and start the next one with newness.

I’m also thankful that it’s been so beautiful all week. It’s basically been a sunny with a high of 75 week, which I can hardly complain about.

It’s payday. Can I get an amen?

Happy Friday, folks.

Commuting.


The commuter life raises so many questions for me.
Which one of you head-phoned fellows is listening to the really heavy metal?
Is it awkward to you that we keep accidentally brushing our arms against each other, so faintly we could both ignore it?
What is it about Wednesdays at 5:00 that make my commute a standing one until 5 stops til home?
Do you realize, Scott from Best Buy, that you are seriously compromising your security by wearing that shirt with all your info on the front? Name tags. They’re removable. Protect yourself from us.
Does anyone else feel like this driver is going a little faster than usual? Talk about getting jerked around.
I had three cups of coffee today, so I’m even more dismayed than usual that I can’t have these conversations with my fellow commuters.
Maybe someday headphones will go out of style.

Roomies


Last night, I asked Liesel, “do you ever wonder where all the snot that comes out of your nose comes from? Like, how does that all fit in my head?” (sorry for the graphicness here. I have a cold and was amazed at how many times I could blow my nose in a row.)

She, being the knowledgeable nursing major she is, didn’t have to wonder. “It comes from your lungs.”

And here I was, wanting to believe that my lungs were some slightly fleshier version of a bellows. Not really enjoying the image of mucus all up in there.

She explains to me why this is so, how colds work, and dispels some more of my ignorance about my body.

Then, because she’s tired and hasn’t had the best day, I work out some of the knots in her back while we watch tv.

This is my roommate, Liesel. It’s high time you met her. I’ve alluded to her multiple times, but she’ll be coming up more this year since we have 9 whole months in the same apartment.
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We met freshman year. Our story is unique, because we were pen pals before we were friends.

She read my blog post where I wrote a poem about the post office, and then she sent me a letter, saying she also loved the post office.

Then one time, she lent me a hair tie in choir, and I mailed it back to her. She says that’s when she knew we would be good friends, because a) no one ever returns hair ties and b) I did it by mail.

Then we had a super awkward breakfast at the Swedish restaurant by campus. But we both realized (on our own) that one awkward breakfast does not a friendship kill.

So we tried again. And it was great.

We have the most fun. For real.

I remember meeting Liesel at choir tryouts. She says the way I tell the story makes her seem timid and really quiet… but she was quiet.

I’ve since learned that she’s only quiet sometimes.DSCN4729

We had so many adventures freshman year. City targets where you ride the escalator next to your cart. DSCN4730

And the pasta place on state street during freshman year where I practically proposed marriage but really just asked her to be my roommate for the next year…. in October…. Yes, I plan ahead. (And no, they didn’t have good lighting, so we both look weird in this picture.)

Funny thing is, she’d been thinking the same thing.

We like to explore. Liesel doesn’t mind getting lost and walking all over the place before we find something, and neither do I.

We enjoy British tv. And not British tv. And garlic. And dessert. (You would be shocked at how much we bake for two people… but we also love sharing food. We get a strange pleasure out of sharing… and watching people eat the things we’ve made)

And here we are this year, brought back together after our travels all over the world (she in Ecuador) and living in an apartment that isn’t a closet. It’s actually so nice. We frequently say (like Jimmy Fallon in Downton Sixbey), “I love this place. I hope I die hyeahhhh [here].”
IMG_20140830_190308Usually, in Liesel’s dreams I am super grumpy and curmudgeony. However, last night I got to be the normal one. I wanted to go downtown and walk around, but Liesel refused. She needed to… (this is weird, remember, it’s a dream) condition her…. legs.

Yes. We did eat before bed.

So in her dream, instead of us having an adventure in the great city of Chicago, she sat on our couch and poured milk all over her legs.

We’re a strange pair, but we like it.

We drink a lot of coffee, but we compost our coffee grounds, so it’s changing the world.

And we’re having a lovely Saturday morning in our pajamas with coffee. So now I shall say sayonara.

 

It IS a good day.


It’s a beautiful day outside. My cold is ebbing away into nothingness, and I’m more than prepared for my math test today. So… why did I seethe all the way home after getting stood up for a writing conference that I reminded the student about yesterday?

Oh, Ashley. Calm it down. Just because you think it’s really valuable to show up places when you say you’ll be there doesn’t mean that this student is not a good person.

Eat your apple and remember that you’ve let people down in annoying ways before. You’re not immune to this disease.

In other news, my pharmacy does delivery. And I had an incredible, edible omelet for breakfast this morning and two cups of coffee. It’s not a day when the garbage truck wakes me up, and I have time to work ahead on some projects today, which I haven’t been able to do much so far this year.

There’s a check in the mail for me.

Jesus is still the same as he was yesterday. He’s still the God who said it was worthwhile to come to earth and show us how to live. He’s still the God who loved enough to die and conquer death, no easy task.

I have fun homework in my poetry class.

I have a plane ticket to go home for Thanksgiving.

There’s still a little bit of pie left from this weekend.

I still have a lot of hours left in the day in which to choose to walk with God. I haven’t abandoned my calling yet today.

I have air to breathe and lungs that can take it in deeply.

And we have parmesan Goldfish.

So really, today’s not bad at all. There’s a little nick of disappointment, but the rest is good. Or has the potential to be.

Some things really are what you make them.

Obsessions and tea.


Hi there. Last time we talked, I was hoping I didn’t have a cold and had drunk about two cups of tea already that day. Well, the next day I upped the number to six and kept it up on Saturday to basically just drink tea all weekend.
I also gargled apple cider vinegar. So now my cold is on its way out of town. Funny thing is that I had just been telling someone about how I had a great immune system now that I’d actually started eating other forms of protein in my vegetarian diet.
Pride cometh before a cold.
So, the cold is on its way out, and I’m on my way back to normal.
I tried to get up earlier this morning as a start to a commitment to spend more time alone with God. I ended up snoozing until ten minutes before my normal alarm.
Well, it’s a start.
This is real life. Maybe I’ll make it to twenty minutes earlier tomorrow.
My roommate and I also have a severe obsession with pizza. I use those intense words because it really is that dire.
We talk about pizza almost every day. And when we don’t have a frozen pizza we have both been known to admit that we’ve both been fighting the urge to order it all day.
Yesterday, Liesel made pies. While the oven was preheating, I could smell the pizza cheese burning on the bottom of the oven.
“Oh, it smells like pizza.” Hear the desperation in that tone.
Liesel laughed. “Oh, this sweatshirt smells like my ex-boyfriend. No, it’s ‘Oh, the oven smells like piiiizzzaaaaaa.'”
It’s a big deal.
We think frozen pizza is underrated and that thin crust and slightly spicy sauce is next to godliness.
In other, unrelated news, the guy sitting next to me on the L (who can hopefully not read my screen), is carrying a teenage mutant ninja turtles mug and a banana.
I’m sure he’s a fabulous person.
That being said, I wish you a happy Monday full of pizza, tea, and interesting encounters.

Cozy tea day.


Today is a tea day. It was also a sleep-in-and-have-weird-post-alarm-clock-dreams day, then put a hoodie over your pajamas and don’t get dressed til it’s mandatory day. I joke that I’m a true Minnesotan because I’m allergic to every season but winter, but really, it’s true. I’ve been feeling my throat get progressively sorer throughout this week. Eventually, it’ll go away because everything will freeze. But until then, I’ll keep drinking tea, gargling salt water, and wearing scarves.

Yes, it’s scarf weather. Scarf and cardigan weather. It might not stick around, but it’s here for at least right now.

I’ve had English Breakfast and Ginger Pear so far. Apfel-Gingko might be next.

Today is a day I wish I could fill our apartment with smells of pumpkin baking into something wonderful from Pinterest, and we could sit wrapped up in cozy blankets and watch tv or just talk or take naps. But then I remember that we don’t have pumpkin, we do have homework and class, and it’s not the weekend.

So instead, I’ll go to math class and work and bring my tea with me as a remnant of my desire to be cozy and warm and at-rest today.

And I’ll use the mug with the awkward picture of my friends and me on it for my tea, because life is better when you have personalized mugs.

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Welcome, fall. It’s nice to have you (and your allergens…. not) back in Chicago. Next time, could you deliver a couple can sod pumpkin to my doorstep when you swing by?

 

No one else can play your part, a prayer on suicide prevention day.


We’ve wondered why we hurt, Lord. Some of us more than others.  And there have been days where we thought it might be better to leave it all behind. God, we’ve been in darkness.

Bring us your light. Meet us where we are. Remind us that you knew us before we were even thought of, pre-utero, before our parents were born or met each other, you knew us and had a purpose for our lives. Remind us of that, because sometimes our vision gets short-sighted.

Let it be now that you carry us. Send us your people to show us how valuable and needed we are. Send us someone to remind us that you are present in pain and that your power is made perfect in weakness. Touch our hearts with hope, God.

If there’s anything we can’t manufacture ourselves besides salvation, God, it’s hope.

Press into the pain, Lord. Bring light to darkness. Bring hope to the hopeless.

You’ve done it before, and we ask you to do it again. Remind us that no one else can play our part.

Chicagoan.


I’ve taken a step this year to be more of a Chicagoan: taking the L to work. I and hundreds of my closest friends do this every day via the Brown line. Others do it on the Red line. The thing we all have in common? We’re paying $2.25 for a seat on a train that may or may not leave on time and may or may not give us a communicable disease.
Little is certain when you use public transportation. Oh, you changed the bus routes just for today? Oh, this train is an express to somewhere I don’t need to go? Oh, this station is closed?
Oh, we’re stopping for “signal clearance?”
At least the view out the window is pretty constant. There’s nothing quite like the Chicago skyline and all that surrounds it.
I and my commuter friends rarely talk, except for that time last week when I sat next to a chatty woman who happened to be a fashion designer. She gave me her card. And sometimes we joke about the strange things that happen or how packed we are when you have to stand shoulder to shoulder on the red line on the weekend nights.
But most of the time, we ignore each other. And it might be okay. We’re letting each other have our quiet, peaceful commute in our less than comfortable seats on this slightly jerky train.
It’s a gift, most days.
Sure, I’m always at least five minutes late to my internship because that’s just how the train schedule works, but it’s not a bad ride.
It’s an initiation into the city people group.
Welcome, the first step in membership is to have sirens around you all the time. The next step is to always feel like your hands are less than clean. Third step : take the CTA multiple times per week and assume the correct posture and behavior. You are on your way to becoming a bona fide Chicagoan.
Considering this is only week three, I’m guessing I’ll have many more moments like this. Yes, I spent a year and a half here before I went abroad, but I think Chicago makes you start over.
Here’s to readjusting.