Stand up blogging


I don’t know if I’ve ever written a blog post while standing. It probably has never happened before.

I’m guessing that I wasn’t swaying and trying not to bump into the throngs of people in a brown line car if I have done this standing up thing before. It’s nice to break up the monotony of commuting with something new.
Balance and blog.
Let’s multi-task.
I had a profound thought at some point last night and didn’t have time to give it space in my brain. I had a poem about garlic to attend to. As always, I assumed I would remember and be able to put it in my blog today. And, as always, I forgot because I didn’t write it down.
Use it or lose it, they say.
So we’ll just have to deal with less than profound.
Today marks the middle of a busy week. Busy because my brain has more things to think about that I have to do. That might seem relaxing, but my brain is too disorganized for this to not be stressful.

I’m learning to make sense of disorder, to deal with that nagging feeling that stirs up my gut and says I’m forgetting something.

I really hope I’m not.
In other news, Chicago is most beautiful on sunny days, even when it’s cold. I walked back from Buddies today since the bus wasn’t going to be coming for about as long as it would take me to walk home. I craved French fries the whole way (but refrained) and gazed longingly into every single coffee shop I strode past, again, refraining since I’m trying to not drink three cups every single busy day.
So hard to not just brew a cup every time I feel sleepy. There are better ways to be energized, even though coffee tastes… Oh, so good.
I’ll never understand why one of my high school teachers called it demon juice.
Oh, no, this is a holy beverage.
I could probably do the CTA announcements at this stage in the game, just for the brown line.
That’s pretty satisfying. At least I’m getting something out of this commute.

Channeling poets.


I’m channeling Willa Cather tonight. Willa was inspired by the Great Plains of Nebraska, and I find myself marveling at the strange, desolately boring beauty of southern Illinois.

I’m not a country girl, at least not yet. I’ve lived in suburbia and urbania city and have visited small towns to see family, but I’ve never had extended experience in the country. I’ve had no opportunity to survey fields of wheat and corn any closer than the highway, and a train offers a nice vantage point. As the sun sets amidst the changing trees, I can see why people don’t mind living in the middle of nowhere, where the cell service goes out and there’s little to see but fields.

The sun was coloring the harvested, now dormant fields a few minutes ago, filtering red and purple light over it. And I caught a glimpse of why people are attracted to agriculture. I suppose it can be beautiful.

There’s a little white farmhouse and other little white buildings beside it in the field out the window to my left. A few trees stand guard over the buildings, and you can see one sliver of sunset between the clouds and the horizon behind it all.

I suppose I’m channeling Wendell Berry, too. And probably Emily Dickinson.

Perhaps I’m just nearing poet status a bit more. Perhaps I should ride trains more frequently.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take advantage of this forced siting to finally (!!!) finish my book.

Buses and St Louis


I love trains. Trains are my favorite mode of transportation. I love that you have leg room and a big window through which to watch the world go by. I love that they’re fast and that they’re anchored to the ground so you can’t get too crazy.

But mostly, I love that they aren’t buses or airplanes because buses and airplanes are social torture experiments designed to see how people interact when shoved into a small space where their knees touch the seat in front of them. They are designed to see how you will respond when someone leans their seat back to decrease your personal bubble to the bare minimum. Buses in particular, since seats are not usually assigned, test your courage to ask a stranger if “this seat [is] taken?” and to see what you will do with your elbows when there is no space for them to thrive.

You’ve probably guessed it by now, but I spent some time on a bus last night. I was on a train first, and that’s what my ticket was for, but because they’re upgrading the rails, I had to take a bus for the second half of my trip. Which would have been fine. Not all buses are created equal, however, and when driving through rural Illinois then Missouri, it would be helpful to have leg room.

I digress from my main point.

I’m having a lovely weekend away from school, which is the point of fall break. Of course, at North Park, fall break is a pittance, Here, have one Friday off. You just had 8 weeks of school, and you deserve it. No, really, take a day off. Thanks. One day. I suppose we’ll take it. North Parkers are pretty good at making the most of it.

So, I’m in St. Louis. I’m visiting Dawn and Eric, seeing and tasting all the city has to offer, and enjoying being away from Chicago.

I’ve had a day full of sightseeing, so I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves since words aren’t really coming much anymore.

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These are the capsules that we would have gone up in at the arch if three million other people hadn’t already bought out all the tickets for today and tomorrow. Talk about claustrophobia… especially for tall people.IMG_20141017_140307

Dawn is an incredible woman… and hostess. and entrepreneur. and humorist. and driver. and I could go on. friend. that, too.IMG_20141017_162333Yellow curry at one of three Thai restaurants on the Loop (different than the Chicago loop). And Dawn introduced me to Thai tea. So now I’m a huge fan.

All in all, we’ve made the most out of what is a very short trip!

 

Oh, crap, she’s up.


I learned what Neosporin is for today. I’d obviously never thought much about it, because until today, I thought it just made your wound sting more. Makes no sense. Why use it?

You’re totally missing the point, says my nursing major roommate. Then she gets the gravel out of my knee with a Qtip from the very public spill I took today on the sidewalk (where my knee got scraped… but my tights remained intact! A small victory) on my way to work. I dab Neosporin on it, and I’m guaranteed to have this thing heal faster.

It was a Monday.

I’ve noticed that my Mondays include a lot more spills and near spills (I almost poured coffee all over my keyboard at work today) when I get up and spend time with Jesus before I get going.

I’ve always loved this quote:

So, not that I’m such a powerhouse for Jesus when I spend time with Him without being distracted, but Jesus is such a powerhouse that when I spend time with Him, it has the power to change the way I interact with people all day. So naturally, Satan rubs his icky little hands together and conspires to make me trip over uneven sidewalks, nearly miss my train, and get rained on – having left my umbrella at home.

Ohhh, those little defeats. They have a lot of power over me, most days. I think there’s a lot of power in calling Satan’s bluff, however. Because it is a bluff. His hand sucks.

I see what you did there, little man downstairs. I see the pitfalls you threw my way. While I don’t appreciate them and certainly will not tell you to keep them coming, I choose to see them positively. I now know how to trip gracefully while wearing high heels and passing people on the sidewalk. I know what Neosporin does because I skinned my knee. I will have the coolest scab in a few days. I’m not thanking you, but I know that my God works all things for my good because I love Him and am called to a life lived for Him. I would like you to shake in your boots when you know I’m awake. 

Here’s to little defeats and seeing them as victories.

[side note: you know you’re a klutz when you have a tag on your blog for “tripping”… and it’s been used before]

Overrated crumbs.


There are few things about wearing a bulky scarf around your neck that are bad. The good things always outweigh the bad (unless the bad is that it doesn’t match my outfit… which sometimes doesn’t hinder me from doing it anyways). One of said bad things is that the bulky scarf can shame you by retaining crumbs of whatever it is you have eaten while wearing it, shaming you simultaneously for choosing the cookie over the vegetables and for being such a sloppy eater that you got crumbs in your scarf. Points gained for style. Points lost for cookie crumb retainment.

“Pastors and leaders are overrated.”

That’s what my pastor said today, and no, it’s not related to crumbs in my scarf. My pastor preached a sermon about what it means to please God, and he said he, himself, is overrated.

And he meant it.

“Don’t get excited about people,” he said. “Get excited about Jesus.”

Even if you don’t get excited about Jesus, can you just marvel for a moment at the selflessness and humility it takes to say that genuinely? Don’t get excited about me. Sure, I’m funny, insightful, godly, and amazing in general, but I’m overrated. Really. Let me point you to the one who is truly exciting. 

I want that perspective, to have the clear-headedness to see that even though my position (should I ever have one as influential and powerful as the pastor of a thriving church) is necessary, helpful, and changing lives, I’m not all that. Perhaps that’s where our politicians go astray, seeing their name on neighborhood signs too many times, telling people their name and why they’re worthy over and over again. I wonder if the self-promoting nature of our world has lead us to believe that once we don’t have to convince people that we’re capable anymore, we’ve somehow made it.

Is that when our smiles get cheesy and our hair gets coiffed and we start wearing skirt suits and pant suits? (I have nothing against skirt suits and pant suits as a concept for people who genuinely like them, but I’m so bothered by the idea that women think they have to wear them in a professional environment. I’m sure not everyone likes them) Is that when we stick out our hands to people and introduce ourselves by name and profession, instead of extending our hearts to meet theirs?

What makes me exciting? Probably the way Jesus has and is changing me. I bet that’s the most exciting thing about me, and it’s not even the most active part of my life, to be honest. Jesus sometimes has to be a backseat driver because that’s where I stick him. If that’s still the most amazing part of my life, that says a lot about Jesus.

I suppose that has something to do with extending my heart to someone instead of my resumé – letting Jesus be the one who runs my mouth instead of me, remembering that I’m overrated.

I’m going to try to remember that I’m overrated this week.

It shouldn’t be hard since I keep doing things like getting crumbs all over myself.

Fall magic.


It’s Thursday, again. The 7th one this semester, which can’t be right. What is it about each new semester that makes it don a jet pack and skedaddle away faster than the one before?

Fall in Chicago is so pleasant, most of the time. Leaves swirl in wind eddies on the sidewalk, and the sun shines while you walk through the brisk weather to the grocery store. It’s lovely… until dust swirls with the leaves and gets in your eye and strange men in cars honk at you while you innocently walk to get your groceries. We all know how much I could talk about that last bit.

The heaters have turned on, and tis the season of baking. There’s something magical about it. It’s like the last few weeks of the year where we humans of the midwest will see each other. If we see each other from December to March, we’ll be in big puffy jackets and mittens and boots, and we won’t be interested in meandering down the street. We’ll be shivering into new buildings.

So, I’m trying to savor the experience of fall. Because I know what comes later.

I walked behind a girl a few weeks ago in the Old Town neighborhood, and we happened to take a few of the same turns. She had that city girl in fall look to her, with a scarf and wind blown hair. I followed her (not because I’m creepy but because I was headed the same direction) around another corner and into a classic Chicago neighborhood of brick two-flats, where she scampered up the stairs of one and disappeared inside.

I wanted to yell after her, “Your life is adorable!”

But then I thought better of it. No, instead I’ll immortalize her on my blog.

Today brought me a box from home with my sweaters and tights in it, along with new troops of scarves to relieve the old ones of their duties.

So much magic in fall.

Retirement.


There are at least three retirement homes near my campus, which is a funny contrast to the hoards of young people I see on a day to day basis. We’ve got young, and we’ve got… retired. I always feel bad for speeding past an older person on the sidewalk, but I mean, people, I’ve got places to be. I’m not retired. I can’t afford to walk at a one block per hour pace.

Retirement is an oddly popular subject in college, not the longing for it but wondering whether or not you’ll ever get to that point. Will I ever have enough money saved up from my low-paying, bad-economy job in order to stop working? It’s not likely since social security will run out before my generation gets to claim any.

I digress.

I’m thinking about retirement today because the speaker at church said something interesting today, as he talked about what God’s word should accomplish in our lives, “The word of God doesn’t retire in us but lives in us.”

It made me think of all those retirement homes where – I assume – the inhabitants have little labor to attend to, many Bingo games, and lots of similarly minded people with whom to share the experience. To a 20-year-old who can only sit still for about an hour and a half, that sounds inactive and boring.

You know how when you sit through dry lectures or board meetings or phone conversations that have no spark to them you lose your spark? I lose mine frequently when people drone ad nauseam about their accomplishments or economic policy or cytoplasm. That’s not a living word to me. If you’re an economics or biology person, the story could be totally different, and you probably don’t light up when people mention the Oxford comma.

His phrase rang true because God’s word doesn’t retire in me. It finds a way to get out, whether in speech or action. Or it finds a way to change an internal function, like the way I think. Matches are the opposite of retirement. Sparks indicate life.

It offers a bit of encouragement since I don’t always notice that I’ve learned something or grasped what I’m reading from my Bible in the moment, but being reminded that it’s a living word changes things. It’s not setting up shop inside of me to grow stale and die. It’s bouncing around and changing things and looking for an outlet.

Here’s to postponing retirement and the living word.