Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Drive Home

My windows are rolled down, as usual, but the air feels different.  It doesn't yet feel cool and crisp as it does in the autumn.  In fact, the air is still distinctly summerish.  But it's different.  And I don't realize what it is until I catch the faint smells of chlorine, of steak grilling, of sweat, of freshly cut grass.  These are smells of goodbye, smells of people doing last-minute summer activities before autumn comes.  This is what is in the air--the difference that I feel.  It's not quite summer, not quite fall, but some kind of unnamed season that comes in between the two.  It is some kind of unnamed season that blends the two.  The wind blows.  The trees clap their hands.  The world feels alive, yet sleepy, as though it knows a colder, darker time is coming and it must finish its adventures while it still has the vitality to finish them.  Then, it can rest.

And I look up into the sky and fall in love with the colors there as they reflect off the clouds.  The clouds aren't puffy.  They seem to have been stretched out, as if they don't know exactly where they want to be.  So they just scatter everywhere, and the light that falls upon them seems cautious, almost afraid, as if its not sure the clouds are really supposed to be there at all, or if its supposed to shine on them.  The result is that they kiss the clouds with just the most delicate touch of pale, hauntingly beautiful color.

Blue is my favorite color.  I like the blue of the summertime sky when the sun is out and the clouds are full, but my favorite shade of blue doesn't come until the sunset.  Here the blue fades into a darker, deeper hue.  The daytime blue is rich and alive, but the evening blue seems secretive, as if it is hiding some precious and mysterious knowledge.  And once again there is something unnamed.  There is no name for the color that occurs when the sunset's orange blends with the evening blue.  But I know it must exist, for there is a place where the blue ceases to be blue and becomes orange, and where the orange ceases to be orange and becomes blue.  And in that place there is something that is either too faint or too powerful for my eyes to perceive.  Still, I try to see it.

I stop at a stoplight and look at the streetlights as they fail in their attempts to shine more brightly than the sunset before me.  And I think about how in a few short months, I'll be driving home by their artificial illumination alone.  The days will be shorter.  The sun will sleep earlier and wake up later.  The darkness and the coldness is coming, and maybe there will be a time when autumn will blend with winter into another unnamed season.  We'll make that last loaf of pumpkin bread and put away the Indian corn, and we'll pull out the hot cocoa and Christmas decorations.  And in that in between time?  We will reflect.

I pull into my apartment's small parking lot while some familiar song plays on my car's speakers.  I sing along and roll my windows up.  I turn off the engine and the song stops, though I keep singing harmony as if the melody is still playing.  Then I take in a deep breath of the air in my car that is quickly growing stale.  It takes so little time for things to become stale. 

And I'm grateful for moments like these, when I see and hear, smell and feel.  Life is more than sensations, but they are a big part of the experience of life, as are seasons.  Sometimes, there will be stale moments, and sometimes it's even important to walk through those stale moments, clinging to the truths we know even when we are too numb to feel them.  But for the most part, life is meant to be lived.  And right now, I feel very alive.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Update: The Routine Relationship

My electricity JUST came back on after being off for about 36 hours.  I was living it up, Amish style.  Well, okay, so I had running water (even if it was, shall we say, less than warm).  I also had a cell phone, which I was able to charge at church this morning.  I also drove a car today.  So really, I was merely inconvenienced by the lack of electrical power.  And it almost prevented me from writing a blog today.

And it's pretty late in the evening and I've got a book I want to go read (NOT by candlelight), so this isn't going to be a long update.  Things are getting pretty crazy-go-nuts around here as I prepare for the long-awaited return to the routine, so I'm trying to read as many fun books as humanly possible before I have to pretend to be a grown up again.  I've let my discipline slide SO much this summer, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it back again.  The routine will help, but I'm annoyed with myself that I have to rely on it as much as I do.

Then I'm reminded that as a human, I was probably made to have a routine.  I really think that most humans need a routine of some sort.  It's something that is ingrained in us.  Or maybe that's just an American thing.  All I know is that routine helps me stay on track in all the little areas of my life. 

And sometimes I start thinking, does everything in life have to be a checklist?  Get up. Check. Put on clothes. Check. Brush teeth. Check. Eat food. Check. Go to work. Check.  Because really, that sort of thing helps me, but sometimes it does become monotonous.  And I know sometimes I feel guilty because I start treating my relationship with Christ as a checklist.  Get up. Check. Pray. Check. Read Bible. Check. NOW you can put on clothes and brush your teeth.  Check.

But honestly, there's two sides to that, and I don't think that it does me a bit of good to feel guilty about having Spirituality as part of the daily routine.  Because yes, it is weird to think of a relationship as a routine.  I wouldn't go up to a friend and say, "Right now is the time I have allotted today to spend with you."  If I were married, my husband would probably think it odd if I said, "Honey, I've just brushed my teeth and made the bed.  Spending time with you is the next thing to check off my list before I have to go do something else, so lets get a cup of coffee before our time is up." 

But then, I know myself well enough to know that if I don't set aside a specific time to pray and read my Bible, I'm just not going to do it.  I can SAY I'll do it later, and sometimes I will, but more often than not, I won't.  And if I miss a day, it's not a big deal, but this summer I've just let it slide too much.  I've not made a priority out of spending intentional time with God, and so my Spiritual life has been reduced to little more than a Santa Claus mentality.  I'll go about my business, saying little sentence prayers throughout the day.  "My back hurts, God.  Make it stop."  "My friend is going through something.  Help her."  "Give me strength to deal with this unruly child."  There's nothing wrong with those, and honestly, I think they're good because they're evidence that God isn't just limited to that little time I've allotted Him in my routine.  But it's also not very deep.

Maybe if I were married, I'd spend little pockets of time with my hubby.  I'd call him at work just to say hi.  I'd check to see if he needed something from the grocery.  I'd just tell him "I love you" for no reason at all before going off to make dinner.  But then there would be times we would set aside for deep, meaningful conversation and affection.  I'm not married, but I have a feeling that's how life would be.  That's how most relationships seem to go.  There are short conversations, brief interactions, little jokes and lighthearted moments.  Then there are deeper moments that require greater attention.

And I guess that's what I need to really start making time for.  I need to set aside those times for meaningful conversation and reflection with the Lord.  I need this time because I need Him.  All those little Santa Claus prayers are okay sometimes, but they're skirting the main issue of my heart.  I can ask God for things, but what prayer is really meant to do is align my heart with His.  When it comes down to it, I don't need more things or more answered prayers.  I need Him.  And if I don't intentionally make time for deep prayer, it's not going to happen.  If I don't take meaningful time to look into His Word, then I'm not going to read it.  So, while I don't really like the idea of checking time with God off my list, I think it's something I'm going to have to do.  I know that from experience.

I also know from experience that when I do make that time for God, He does remarkable things with that time.  And even if I'm checking time with God off a list, it's still something I greatly enjoy.  It's still something He uses to change me.  And there are also going to be unexpected moments that I didn't plan for--like looking up and seeing a sunset that takes my breath away.  Those little times of praise and wonder are so precious, and they aren't part of any routine.

Did I say this wasn't going to be long?  Oh.  I guess I was wrong.  Wouldn't be the first time.  Or the last.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fiction Friday: The Wind in the Willows

I'm going to keep this short today because I'm a busy, busy girl.  And I call myself a girl because yesterday someone thought I was a 9 year old's big sister.  So even if I am old enough to be her mother, it doesn't mean I have to look like it.  Just sayin'. 

Anyway, when I was a kid, I saw a couple different movie/tv versions of "The Wind in the Willows."  There was the Disney version, of course, which I don't remember well.  I just remember Mr. Toad stealing cars like a crazy amphibian--and lots of weasels that later appeared in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Mickey's Christmas Carol." 

Then there was this fantastic BBC claymation version they used to show on the Disney Channel back when the Disney Channel was awesome.  I remember this one a little better, but even it is fuzzy in my memories.  Basically, I have some vague impressions of a story that didn't interest me enough to read it.

I was in my late 20's before I ever decided to read The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  To be honest, I wasn't expecting much.  I was expecting a cute children's story with little or no depth to it, because that's what I remember from the movie versions I saw.

I was wrong.  While The Wind in the Willows has a lot of silliness about Toad stealing cars that I could really just take or leave, it also some of the most beautiful and poignant scenes I've ever had the pleasure of reading.  The story is a little disjointed because Grahame originally wrote it as a series of letters to his son.  There are parts I don't even think I'll ever read again, but there are other parts I will return to over and over again, sometimes thinking about them at seemingly random times, and they fill me with joy and sometimes longing.

There are wonderful scenes about friendship, rest and peace by the riverside, about the draw of home, about the pull of adventure.  There are a few profound Christian scenes that I just would never have expected to find within the pages of a children's story.  I could expound on all of these a little, but I don't have the time now, and I think that might spoil part of the enjoyment from someone who wanted to discover those scenes for him or her self.

But I will write a little about my favorite scene.  It's from a chapter (well, it basically is the whole chapter) called "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn."  In this chapter, Rat and Mole go searching for an otter's lost child, and they discover something much more.  It's one of the most deeply Spiritual scenes I've ever read.  Rat and Mole are in Rat's boat, looking for the child, when they are mysteriously and beautifully called to an island.  They are drawn inland, as if in a dream, to a place where they meet the Piper, who is looking after the lost child.

The writing here is some of the most beautiful I've ever read, but the dialogue is what brings me close to tears every single time I read it:

"Rat!" he (Mole) found breath to whisper, shaking.  "Are you afraid?"
"Afraid?" murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.  "Afraid!  Of Him? O, never, never!  And yet--and yet--O, Mole, I am afraid!"
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.

The rest of the chapter is also wonderful, but I really think you should read it for yourself. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Use Your Words!: The Sequel

This has been a busy week so far, and it will continue to be a busy week, so this is going to be an extremely short post.  I just thought I'd show you the end result of the notebook craft project I did with the girls I watch, which I talked about in a previous post entitled "Use Your Words!"  I clipped out tons of words from magazines and newspapers.  Then I glued these words to a hard covered composition notebook and used strips of packing tape to "laminate" them. 

The girls made their own notebooks, too, but I'm not sure they'd like me posting pics of theirs on my blog.  So I'll just post pics of mine.  Sorry about the flash.  I'm a doctor writer/bad hippy/childcare provider, not a photographer.

On the front of the notebook, I used words on the top half that were writing-related.  On the bottom half, I used mostly adjectives that I would use to describe myself (including "short" and "pale").

On the back, I just used words that inspired me, made me feel hopeful, or reminded
 me of why I should keep reaching for my dreams. 

I've still got a LOT of clipped out words left over, and I have three leftover composition notebooks (I got them for dirt cheap during the NC tax free weekend).  I'll probably make more of these, when  have the time.  Who knows when THAT'S going to be.  But then, this is a fun thing to do while watching movies (if I do something with my hands while watching movies, it keeps me from wanting to eat).  Maybe it will tide me over until knitting season begins.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Update: Now

There's a hilly field that I pass by on my way to and from church.  When my preschool job (which is also at my church) starts again, I'll be passing this field several times a week, as I did this past school year.  This field is next to a white house, and all of it is enclosed by a brown fence.  A chestnut horse often peacefully grazes within my view as I drive past this field.  I guess I'll be a Kentucky girl no matter where I live, because I happen to very much like looking at chestnut horses in hilly fields next to white houses, enclosed by brown fences.  My parents taught school  in a county that was half an hour away from where we lived, and I went to elementary and middle school in the county where my parents taught instead of in the county where I lived.  As a result, I spent a great deal of my childhood staring out car windows at Kentucky fields and hills, white houses surrounded by brown fences, horses and cattle grazing on green grass.

It's amazing that I've even paid enough attention to the hilly field I pass several times a week to be able to tell you the color of the house, horse, and fence.  Such things should be commonplace to me, and often times they are.  There is a difference between Kentucky hills and North Carolina hills, just as there's a difference between Kentucky mountains and North Carolina mountains.  But I've spent so much of my life driving past scenic country farmland that I often take all the separate beauty for granted. 

But today, on my drive home from church, that field I pass all the time looked different.  Thousands and thousands of golden flowers (I think they were golden rods) were scattered across the green.  Great purplish bushes contrasted with the gold, causing me to mentally pause (if I had actually paused, the guy riding my bumper would have gladly rear-ended me).  I couldn't stay there, but I took a moment to commit that beautiful scene to memory, because the way nature keeps moving and changing, that field of flowers could be gone tomorrow.  And something tells me I was meant to see them before they passed away.

Next week, the girls I watch go back to school.  I've uploaded all of the pics I took with them this beautiful summer.  It has all gone by so quickly, and I'm glad for the memories I've made with them, as well as a bit regretful that I didn't try to make a few more.  This time of my life is almost over, and soon I'll just have the girls in the afternoons when they get out of school.  I'll be caring for a new classroom of children in my preschool (while saying another sort of goodbye to the ones I cared for last year, who will be across the hall in another classroom, getting loved on by new teachers who aren't me).  I'll be developing new relationships through work and church, choir and my running group, and God only knows what else.  I'll hopefully be writing/editing/querying again with renewed vigor.  And I'm reminded that I am a person who is often resistant to change.  But change happens.  Nothing can stop it.  It's the way life is. 

In the past year, God has done a lot in my life.  He brought me from a very long (5.5 years!!) season of winter into a season of springtime.  I've grown because He's changed me.  And since that winter was so long, I guess I expected the spring season to last a long time, too.  But the thing about spring is, it never seems to last.  There is a tremendous burst of life that all too quickly blossoms into summer, and summer just sort of relaxes into autumn.  And everything changes, once more. 

There's a line from Shadowlands (one of my favorite movies about the later life of C. S. Lewis) that fits my mood right now.  C. S. Lewis was sitting at a desk talking to a friend, and he said, "Give me blizzards and frozen pipes, but not this nothing time.  Not this waiting room of the world."  He was expressing his thoughts about the change--that transitional period between seasons and stages of life.  It was no longer winter, but spring had not yet come, and he felt restless.  And part of me has been restless, too.

The winter that I lived in for 5.5 years wasn't all bad, but a lot of the time I just felt like a frozen Narnia waiting for Aslan to come, bringing Christmas and spring in his wake.  Now that I've lived in a new and glorious Spiritual spring for a short year, I'm sensing that God's bringing me into another season.  Perhaps He's already brought me out of spring and into summer without my knowledge, because I sense that autumn is approaching--both in a literal sense (obviously; there is no stopping the calendar) and a Spiritual sense.  I sense a harvest coming.  I think the harvest is going to involve many things.  Since God has grown me so much in the spring, I expect the harvest is going to be plentiful. 

I am almost afraid to hope for it, but I have a strong sense that a lot of the things I've been waiting for for a VERY long time are going to come to fruition.  I don't know what that fruition will look like, but right now I am cautiously expectant, waiting (and trusting...always waiting and trusting) for what God's going to bring. 

Since I've sensed the end of summer coming upon me, in the past couple of weeks I've checked out tons of books from the library, hoping to read as much as I possibly can before I develop a scheduled routine that makes reading for fun nearly impossible.  I've taken a last-minute summer vacation in the only way I can financially afford to take one--by letting my mind enter into stories. 

One of the books I've read has just served to reemphasize the idea that things are going to change in my life for the better.  And maybe that means that I'm going to have to have a few final struggles before I can experience all the good things that harvest will bring.  Because harvesting is a lot of work.  It involves sweat and labor, long hours and effort.  It involves decisions and discipline, but there's joy in that, too.

And the time will come for that soon.  Very soon. 

Right now, the harvest still hasn't come.  I've still got some books from the library that want to be read.  I still have a couple weeks before the preschool job starts.  The calendar is moving.  The flowers are going through their life cycles.  Everything is changing.  But now, right now, is a gift from God.  There's nothing wrong with remembering; there's nothing wrong with looking expectantly towards the future.  These things are very good, but not if they interfere with the joy that's to be experienced in the now.  It might be one of those "nothing times" right now, but I don't feel restless anymore. 

Sometimes I have to pursue peace, and peace is really something worth pursuing.  That's something God has taught me a lot in this past Spring season.  But I've learned that sometimes peace has a way of sneaking up on you and taking you by surprise.  Right now, peace has surprised me.  I'm exceedingly thankful for this time.  The golden flowers on the hilly fields, the gently moving clouds in the blue late summer sky, the smells and sights and sounds of the world holding its breath...waiting for what the next season has in store. 

This is a good time to be alive.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fiction Friday: Hopeful Endings

I am sort of writing about a genre today, but not really.  I've recently read a popular dystopian (kinda like the opposite of Utopian) YA series, which shall remain nameless for the moment, and it started me thinking about the endings of books.  When I get done with a work of fiction, I usually want to feel better about life in general than when I first started reading it.  I like books that end with a strong sense of hopefulness.  There are exceptions to this, I suppose--like if the book didn't leave me with a good happy feeling, but maybe it really made me think, that would be good, too.  Some of the best fantasy stories are ones that reveal truth about real life, and sometimes that truth is a sad truth.  I like it sometimes when a book ends somewhat (but not completely) sadly, but leaves me thinking about the characters and their philosophies long into the night, perhaps even pervading my dreams.

The dystopian series I recently read (at least the original books for the series) did not end with a good happy feeling.  Rather, the author ended the supposed last book with a stark view of humanity.  The main idea seemed to be that since humanity messed up their world once, they were inevitably going to mess it up again.  I was thrown by this.  Up until the last few chapters of the supposed final book, I was thoroughly enjoying the series.  Then I realized that things were not going to end happily.  I realized that the main character was not going to overcome any of her selfish character flaws, nor did she seem to want to.  Instead, she seemed to turn her back on humanity and recede further inside her own self.  There was another book added, seemingly as an afterthought, which did give me a better sense of closure, but the whole reading experience shook me.  I am thinking about this series late into the night, which I like, but I don't know if I like the reasons I'm thinking about it.

The series was well-written, entertaining, and enjoyable. There were exciting plot twists and the pace was just about perfect.  The characters were well-developed, likable, and believable.  I choose to believe that's why this series has done so well.  But I have to admit there's a dark corner of my mind that entertains the idea that maybe people liked this series so much because they agree with the grim ideas the author seemed to be communicating: that mankind is really screwed up and has no hope.

I agree with the first part of that.  Mankind is really screwed up.  We are selfish creatures who don't know how to love or be loved.  We're hopeless, but that doesn't mean we don't have hope.  Our hope isn't in our own efforts or own worth--if it were, then yes, I'd agree with every sentiment the author of that dystopian series seemed to be communicating: that humans would be better off annihilating themselves.  But if you've read this blog before or if you know me, then you'll probably guess what I'm going to say next.  Our hope isn't in found in anything we can do; it's only in the Lord. 

Now, other dystopian series I've read have not been quite so dark at the end.  They don't necessarily claim any religious viewpoints, but I tend to read Christ into any view of hope.  The Hunger Games series (another hugely popular dystopian series) ended sadly in a lot of ways, but there were tears streaming down when I reached the last few pages and read about the yellow flowers.  I love yellow flowers, perhaps for the same reasons Suzanne Collins (author of the Hunger Games books) used them in her book.  They are symbols of hope.  I am sure she didn't have anything religious in mind when she wrote the ending (or any other part of the books), but I experienced something pretty close to pure Joy while reading it.  I felt a sense that no matter what happened, life was worth living, trials were worth trying, and love was worth sharing.

And that's how I like the ending of a book to make me feel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Being Intentional

My roommate was watching television, and I sat down to watch it with her.  It was some kind of PBS show, and we both sometimes tend to get a little too excited about PBS shows.  Do you think it's because we're awesome?  I think it's because we're awesome.  Anyway, this commercial came on for some sort of adventure show.  And the tagline was something like, "Adventure--with a purpose!" 

I squinted at the television, as I tend to squint at most things that confuse me, and I said, "Isn't the purpose of adventure simply to have an adventure?" 

My roommate didn't make eye-contact with me.  She wanted to avoid having a conversation with me about Narnia (apparently, she knows me well enough to know that my mind immediately went there).  When I kept looking at her, she admitted, "I saw the third Narnia movie.  I didn't like all the CGI."  And I could tell from her tone that she really didn't want to discuss anything else about it, because I tend to get a little crazy when I talk about Narnia.  But by that time, the fascinating PBS show about whales came back on, and she was saved. 

Saved by the whale.  Couldn't resist that pun.

But I've been thinking about purpose.  Ever since college, I've been hearing the phrase, "Be intentional."  I've never liked that phrase.  It's not that I don't agree with it, in theory, but I don't really see that being my personal style.  The "be intentional" phrase, at least in Southern Baptist circles (and even if I'm a member of a Southern Baptist church, I don't consider myself a Southern Baptist--but that's another story), is almost always used when talking about evangelism--leading people to Christ.  Some people seem to have some sort of second nature that allows them to always know what to say and when and how to say it.  They are able to take any conversation and naturally guide it into a conversation about Spirituality and God.  These are true evangelists. 

I'm not one of them. 

That doesn't let me off the hook about telling people what I believe and why I believe it, all the while wanting them to believe in Jesus, too.  It's just that I am not a natural evangelist.  I am not a natural people-person at all.  I get in moods where I need to be alone.  And for a long time, I thought there was something wrong with that, because honestly, that's what society (even Southern Baptist and Christian society) tells you.  But over the years I'd start to wonder if I was doing something wrong by not being intentional.  Except, I've learned that when I do try to be intentional, when I try to be anything instead of just being, then I'm going to fall on my face and NOT give glory to God.  That's just how it is.

I'm not talking about making an excuse for a lack of preparation.  We should be prepared.  Scripture is clear on that.  But if I go out and try to talk to just some random person about Christ, it's not going to be natural for me.  It's going to be wrong.  Why?  Because in my heart I know that I'm not trying to get to know that person; I'm just trying to evangelize them--get them to Jesus so I can move on.  And that's not right.

There are Christians who are able to meet people where they are and almost effortlessly lead them to Christ--and they do this through love, not through some Spiritual exercise where they feel they have to get another notch in their evangelism belt.  I'm sometimes tempted to be envious of them, except for these people are so genuine in their faith and love for everyone that I can't feel something as hateful as envy towards them.  It would be nice to be more like them, but then I'm reminded that God doesn't make cookie-cutter people.  God made one me.  I'm the way I am for a reason.

I'm more of an encourager than an evangelist.  I like relationships that are built on more than just getting someone to Christ--although, I do know that's the most important thing.  But I'm not the sort of person who can just meet someone and say, "HEY, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT JESUS!"  I have done that before, and it did go well, but it was a special circumstance (I've been reading the Uglies series--can you tell?).  I was on a mission trip to Thailand, talking to Buddhist monks, and I actually experienced that awesomeness that comes when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and I was His witness in the uttermost parts of the earth.  But that's the exception for me, not the norm.  The Holy Spirit works different ways in different people, and I'm just not typically that person who gets to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger about anything--especially not something personal.

What I have learned recently is that the Lord is using me in small ways in the lives of some of my non-Christian friends.  And I've found that it's a natural thing for me--not something that seems wrong at all.  Why?  Because I love these friends.  When difficult circumstances arise in their lives, it gives me an opportunity to naturally tell them about Jesus.  It allows me to tell them that I am praying for them, and to encourage them Scripturally--to reinforce that I have hope in my struggles because of Christ.  It's not about evangelism at that point--it's about love.

It's not that I'm against having a purpose or that I'm against being intentional.  I'm just not that person.  There are amazing godly people who are those people.  I'm more of the sort of person who sees the importance of the journey.  Friendships are important whether they're with Christians or nonChristians, and I don't think the main point of those friendships should be just to get them to Christ as soon as possible.  It's not always a copout to say that actions speak louder than words.  Sometimes I'm going to be much more of an effective evangelist by quietly showing who Christ is and who I am in Him, only speaking when it's natural to do so. 

At the same time, I am not comfortable being too comfortable.  So I'm doing a few purposeful things that kind of scare me a little bit.  I've joined a running group with my church--well, it's actually a multi-sport group, but running is one of the main components. The goal of the group is to encourage one another while also trying to build relationships with other runners, in the hopes of sharing Christ.  And even though I'm not a group sort of person or an intentional sort of person, I really just can't ignore the fact that I've just started running fairly recently, right as this group is starting out (Let me pause right here and laugh hysterically at the thought that I, Ruth Campbell, am in a SPORTS MINISTRY.  That's hilarious.  It really is.  God has a great sense of humor).  And last night I went and ran with them.  A lot of it was just me running by myself (which is how I prefer it, and I liked the fact that they let me do that), but I was still part of a group--a group with a purpose in mind. 

So we'll see how things continue to go.  I think I'm ready for some adventure. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Update: Tunnel Vision?

I've arrived at that time of the year when I just want to run around in circles screaming, "I NEED A ROUTINE OR I'M GOING TO PUNCH THE CALENDAR IN THE FACE!"  I'm well aware of the fact that my calendar doesn't really have a face--well, actually, it does.  It has lots of them.  It has faces of cute snuggly kitty cats, and I seriously doubt I could ever bring myself to really punch their furry faces, even if they're just printed on shiny paper.  Come to think of it, since they are just printed on shiny paper, punching them would not do any good.  I'd probably just hurt myself by punching the wall behind their shiny calendar faces, so I'd be left without a routine or a...functional hand.  And since I don't have health insurance, punching walls would be a bad idea.  I like having functional hands.

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  At least, I think there is.  I'm hoping that I don't get to the light at the end of the tunnel just to find that it's some kind of artificial light inside another even longer tunnel.  In less than a month, I'll be on a fairly regular schedule with the majority of my jobs.  I'll have to be up and ready at about the same time every morning--with the exception of Saturday, when I get to sleep in a whole hour (or use the extra time to go for a run.  I'm trying to make exercise a priority again, because this summer killed all my discipline, or at least knocked it down and stole its lunch money).  While I'm greatly looking forward to a routine, I'm hoping that something doesn't happen to mess it all up. 

I'm not trying to be a pessimist.  It's just that in the past week, I've had scheduling conflicts, and I already know there is another to come  One of these days, I might find some way of being in two places at once, but at this stage of my life, I am still unable to break the laws of physics.  I have managed to bend them slightly, but that's not going to help me when I'm scheduled to be at two different jobs in two different places at the same time. 

So I'm facing a problem where I'm going to have to let someone down, and that just makes me feel irresponsible.  And while I'm not sure how this particular sheduling conflict happened, I know there's no one to blame except for myself because I have tried to do too many things at once.  I'm just hoping that it's a one time thing, that once all the craziness of starting new schedules dies down into a comfortable routine, I'll be able to handle all of it without having to be two places at once.

But even if all of that works out, I've done some basic budgeting, and I've come to the conclusion that once I do reach the end of this routineless, undisciplined tunnel in which I am currently living, I might find that the light has been shut off.  It's hard to imagine that even with working 4 jobs, I"ll be struggling every month to make ends meet, but that's reality.  I'm not trying to be a pessimist, but if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a hard core realist.  And the reality is, unless I've overlooked something, I'm not gonna have a lot of grocery money in the next few months.  The light at the end of the tunnel isn't going to work too well if I can't pay my utility bills.  I'm 100% sure it's all going to work out.  I'm 100% sure God is going to provide for me in one way or another.  There's not even a fraction of a percentage that doesn't know that deep down.  I'm just a coward because I don't like having things hard.  And it's probably going to be hard because trust is hard, and discipline is hard, but God loves me too much to just make everything easy as I am sometimes dumb enough to ask Him to do for me. 

But walking down a tunnel is not easy.  Sometimes the tunnel is dark and you can't see anything.  So you just have to trust, taking one step at a time, trusting that it's going to lead somewhere good--trusting the One who's guiding, even in the times when you can't sense Him there.  Sometimes you can see light at the end, but you don't know if it's the light that means hope and daylight, or if it's the kind of scary unknown light that makes you want to shout out, "NO!  Don't go towards the light!  DON'T GO TOWARDS THE LIGHT!" 

Sometimes, I'm really a lot happier in the darkness of my tunnel.  It's nice and quiet and safe.  It takes guts to walk towards the light, not knowing where it'll lead.  I've had a great, restful summer, but the wind is starting to change.  I'm no longer feeling restful.  I'm feeling restless.  There's lots work to be done, and not all of it has to do with the 4+ jobs I'll be juggling.  I need to embrace discipline once again--physically and spiritually--even if it means patiently nursing it back to health.  I need to dream again and not wallow in self-pity that has little basis in real-life.  I need to take a step forward, even if I can't see what's ahead.  I'm tired of not doing things just because I don't know how to do them.  Sometimes, you just have to do something and see what happens.

I guess that means I'm walking towards the soon as I have time to breathe!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fiction Friday: Just How Many Psychological Disorders Can One Fit Into a Children's Book?

I've got a modest collection of Eeyore beanie babies.  You know--that depressed donkey from Winnie the Pooh.  Some of them are the Disneyfied versions.  Some of them are "classic Eeyores."  Some of them are dressed up like butterflies for no apparent reason.  One of them is even dressed up like Ringo Starr, because I like Eeyore AND the Beatles.  And my dad thought I needed the whole "Bee-tles" collection of Winnie-the-Pooh beanies, complete with Paul McCartney Tigger, George Harrison Piglet, and John Lennon Winnie-the-Pooh.  Thanks, dad!  I still think they're amazing.

I still like Eeyore a lot.  People still make fun of me for it, but at least the obsession has calmed down over the years.  For one thing, I've stopped spending money on beanie baby likenesses of my favorite old gray donkey.  But I still get sort of defensive when people off-handedly say something derogatory about Eeyore.  The poor guy can't help being gloomy.  He's stuffed with sawdust (itchy).  His tail keeps falling off, and it has to be reattached with a hammer and nail (ouch).  And, let's face it, the dude is just being honest when he says that no one notices him.  If you pay attention to the original Milne, Eeyore's "friends" did overlook him quite a bit.  One of my favorite Eeyore quotes is from Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh: "One can't complain.  I have my friends.  Somebody spoke to me only yesterday."  Eeyore is also sarcastic.  I like that.

Eeyore has a right to be depressed.  I'll say this for him, though.  On Eeyore's birthday, he was bounced into the river by a very unrepentant Tigger.  His friends all forgot about his birthday.  When Pooh and Piglet finally figured out it was his birthday, Pooh went to get a pot of honey for Eeyore, while Piglet went to get him a balloon.  Well, Pooh accidentally ate all the honey (poor bear of little brain, but I'm getting ahead of myself), and Piglet accidentally broke the balloon.  You know what?  Eeyore was still thrilled with the gifts because his friends thought of him.  That's what kind of guy Eeyore is--so get off his tail.  Poor gloomy donkey has enough tail problems, doncha know.

I think Piglet is my second favorite Winnie the Pooh character, but he's not without his issues.  Piglet is severely shy and has so many phobias it's amazing that he ever leaves his house in the haycorn tree.  Then there's Tigger, the mania to Eeyore's depression.  Rabbit has control-issues and is probably obsessive compulsive.  Owl is narcissistic.  Kanga is overprotective.  Roo is just a kid, but I have my suspicions that his development has been stunted.

Then there's Pooh.  Pooh doesn't have any personality disorders.  There's a reason for this.

His head is stuffed with fluff.

We should all be so lucky.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lessons from the Cicada

This morning started out with a groan.

I stayed up way too late last night reading a book.  So when the alarm clock went off at 6 a.m., I turned it off and groaned. 

Before the groan had fully escaped my mouth, I was convicted.  As much of a complainer as I tend to be, it's pretty remarkable that I was convicted so quickly.  But I knew I had no reason to groan.  It was morning.  It was a new day full of new mercies.  And I was alive.

And I got up and got dressed, resolving to try to refrain from complaining and groaning (which probably only lasted about fifteen minutes, but it's a start).  I was getting my snacks ready for the day when I realized the trash needed to be taken out.  Since my roommate has been out of town for over a week, I've realized that the trash can doesn't magically empty itself.  Someone has to take it.  And since I'm the only one currently staying at my apartment, that someone had to be me. 

So I took out the trash and was greeted by a few pleasant things.  First, my senses were embraced by a refreshing coolness.  Since I'm too cheap to use the air conditioner, it was probably about 15 degrees hotter in my apartment than it was in the morning outdoor air.  The sudden and unexpected coolness felt alive; it seemed to indicate that this summer season and its oppressive heat aren't going to last forever--change is coming soon. 

The second pleasantry was the noises of creation.  There were birds singing, as they do pretty much year round (why some of those crazy birds don't migrate in the winter is a mystery to me.  If I had wings, I'd SO be migrating to warmer places come winter).  There were also the songs of the cicadas--which I thought were supposed to sing when it's hot and not when it's cool, but I guess they just like making noise whenever.

I had a conversation with some friends the other night about cicadas.  We came to the conclusion that it would pretty much suck to be a cicada--at least the kind of cicada that hides underground for 17 years.  Not all of them do.  Some of them are only underground a couple of years.  Some are underground 13 years.  Others are underground 17.  Thank you, Wikipedia.

So imagine being a cicada who lives underground for 17 years.  You haven't seen the sun since you were a little bitty newly hatched baby buggy.  You live in the dirt.  That's gotta be pretty boring--those earthworms are pretty dull neighbors from what I hear.  Finally, after 17 long years of waiting in darkness, you reach adulthood and emerge out into the sunlit surface, where you molt off your old cicada shell, ready to embrace your brand new life.  You sing out your lovely cicada song, happy to be alive and free in a brave new world!

Then you get eaten by a bird.

Yeah.  It would suck to be a cicada.

But the thing is, the cicadas still sing.  I think this must be one of those end of the 17 year cycle years, because they seem to be so much louder than usual this year.  And it makes me happy to hear them sing.  It makes me happy because they're singing as they were designed to sing.  I know that boy cicadas sing to attract girl cicadas, but the bottom line is, God made them to do that.  So when they sing, they're doing what they were made to do, and therefore, they are glorifying God.

The thing is, a cicada doesn't have any say in the matter.  It glorifies God just by being what it is.  But I'm a human being.  I've got the power to choose whether I'm going to sing or groan, whether I'm going to glorify God or not.  And I haven't lived underground for 17 years, waiting to come to the surface.  It's highly unlikely that I'll wake up tomorrow morning and get eaten by a bird.  In fact, no matter what happens to me, as long as I'm alive, I know I'm going to get up tomorrow and be greeted by tons of grace that I don't deserve.

So my prayer is that I wake up tomorrow and start the day with a song.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Update: Still Small Voice

It's almost two in the morning, which means that it's technically Sunday, even though it still seems like Saturday night.  Writing a blog at almost two in the morning isn't at all typical for me, but right now it seems like the thing to do.  I can't sleep and for some reason am not even all that sleepy, even though it seems like I should be. 

Even if I were sleepy, I don't think I'd be able to sleep right now.  There's a lot going on in my head, and to tell you the truth, it's pretty loud.  I'm the sort of person who can sleep like a rock once I get good and asleep--but when I'm first starting to fall asleep, I need quiet.  If I've just fallen asleep, the slightest sound can wake me, and sometimes it takes awhile to get back asleep.  So all these loud voices in my head are keeping me from getting good and asleep.

The voices are from a lot of sources.  I've got characters from my books having conversations in my mind.  I've got characters from other people's books as well--repeating dialogue that I've read and don't quite remember.  I've got voices from friends in real life--friends who love me, but right now it seems as though they don't understand me.  Former friends whom I've lost in the past few weeks or months or even years, and despite all my efforts to make amends, I've had to let them go.  And all I can do in those situations is keep praying.  In some of those situations, my heart still breaks every time I think of those lost friends.  And it seems as though I've failed somehow because they don't think I'm worth any effort it would take to restore the friendship.  I've got voices from family that also doesn't seem to understand me--voices of real people, but voices that probably aren't truly real or really true, but right now they seem so loud.  The voices say how I've disappointed them, not lived up to their expectations.  I've got voices from my past that tell me how I'll always be this angry kid beyond redemption, despite the fact that the Lord has really been working hard on my anger issues over this past year.  I've got voices from people I don't even know--literary agents and editors who will reject all my best efforts, and their imaginary voices become this loud echo in my mind that makes it seem as though I really shouldn't even try.

Things are not as they seem.  I know that very well right now.  I can't make the voices shut up long enough to allow me to sleep, but I can listen to another Voice.  And that's why I'm sitting at a computer at what is now a little after two in the morning, typing all this out.  Things seem one way, but I'm both wise and foolish enough to believe that all those voices are wrong.  All the pain and rejection and struggles I've had in all the various areas of life are not to be ignored.  I have experienced them all, and for that reason, I think they are valid and have some place in my life.  I just don't think they get to define me. 

Sometimes, when I'm really good and depressed or confused or scared or all of the above, I expect God to shout out over all the voices.  That's what I usually have to do at work when there are a lot of kids.  I have to shout or clap my hands or flicker the lights so I can get the attention of all the kids.  And sometimes when the voices are being really loud, I think God should come shout above them so they will be quiet and I can hear Him.  And He could do it, too. 

But sometimes when I'm working with the kids, I don't shout.  Instead, I whisper.  I whisper very quietly, "If you can hear me, go sit down on the carpet."  First, only a few kids hear and they go sit down.  Then other kids see those kids who are sitting down, and they start listening.  Soon, all the kids are sitting down and (for the most part) listening to whatever I have to say, and I never had to raise my voice or cause any kind of scene.

In the Bible, the prophet Elijah fled for his life from Jezebel.  It seemed that he was the only prophet left, the only one who still believed in and stood for God.  He was so afraid/confused/depressed that he wanted to die.  And I'm thinking it's safe to say that he had a lot of voices in his head, too.  But God led him to a cave, and there was a mighty, forceful wind.  But God wasn't in the wind.  Then there was a great earthquake.  But God was not in the earthquake.  Then there was a fire.  But God wasn't in the fire. 

God came in a gentle blowing, a whisper.  A still, small Voice.

Earlier today, or yesterday, depending on how you want to look at it, I was at a gas station giving my car its weekly allotment of overpriced gasoline.  All these voices were already shouting in my head, and I was starting to listen to them.  And I was starting to get really depressed.  A person like me gets depressed fairly easily--even while doing mundane things like pumping gasoline--which is why I have to be really careful about the way things seem.

Well, God didn't shout over the voices, but I heard Him.  I heard Him when I looked up and saw a swallowtail butterfly fluttering around a nearby bush. 

To you, that probably doesn't mean anything (in fact, you may be wondering if perhaps I'm delusional since I'm suffering from a lack of sleep--and I'm hearing voices and all that).  And if it were any other day, it probably wouldn't mean that much to me, either.  But at that moment, in the midst of those loud voices, the gentle whisper of a butterfly's wings was enough to call my attention away from the blaring voices in my head.  Because that very same kind of butterfly is a symbol of hope in my first novel.  And uncertainty about that novel was what started all those voices blaring.  Though it seems like I've put a lot of effort into that book and still have SO much left to do with it--though it seems like I should probably just give up on this dream of being a writer and, I don't know, take up professional water polo or something--I'm going to choose to ignore the way things seem.

And I'm going to listen to the still, small Voice.  The Redeemer.  There are reasons He made me a writer.  Some of those reasons have to do with the fact that when He breathes through my writing, it encourages others.  Some of those other reasons just have to do with the fact that He delights in breathing through my writing, and He wants me to feel His pleasure when I write.  I can't forget that. 

And now I'm going to go try see if the voices will let me sleep so I won't be a complete zombie at church tomorrow...or later today...  I don't think my pastor would appreciate me shouting out "BRAINZZZZ" instead of "Amen!" (not that I'm that big of an 'Amen!-er')  ...hmm.  Might make things more interesting, though.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fiction Friday: Coloring Outside and Inside the Lines

I just rented "Ramona and Beezus" to watch with the girls I babysit/nanny for.  Needless to say, I was a hero in their eyes for that entire afternoon.  Little do they know I just wanted an excuse to rent it.  Redbox doesn't have it, and I only do Netflix vicariously through my roommate who has an account, so I had to go to an actual video store.  They still have one of those fairly close to my humble abode...but I gotta say I wouldn't be surprised if it went out of business.  At any rate, I paid like $4 for that video for a 5 day rental.  It was worth it.

I was an early reader.  I was probably reading Dr. Suess at age 3.  I don't remember exactly when I started reading "chapter books," but I'm guessing it was sometime around kindergarten or first grade.  I do remember getting really bored with some of the stupid reading stuff they made us do in early elementary school...which probably contributed greatly to the fact that I got in trouble a lot in early elementary school. 

...Which probably contributed greatly to the fact that I could relate very well to a character in one of my favorite chapter book series.  A lot of people say this, and I guess they're probably right on some level--but believe me.   I WAS Ramona Quimby.  My poor patient mother will confirm this.  If she had a google account and would actually subscribe to my blog (coughLOVEYOUMOMcough), then she would leave a comment to confirm this.  She could tell you all kinds of stories...but I digress.

Ramona was a middle child, a second born to a big sister who seemed to have it all together.  She had a wild imagination and little restraint over it.  She said (and usually did) whatever came to her mind without thinking things through.  She worried and dreamed and tried and messed things up and just generally gave a weird kid like me someone with whom I could relate.

I am also a middle child.  In fact, I remember being really mad that I didn't have a little sister like Ramona.  I doubt I was reading the Ramona books when my brother was actually born (I wasn't quite six yet), but somewhere in my consciousness, I remember being angry that I had a brother because that made me different from Ramona.  I didn't have a little sister named Roberta.  I had a little brother named Jimmy.  I did have a big sister--but her name wasn't Beezus.  She did think I was a pest.  Sometimes I was.  Sometimes I even meant to be, but usually my being a pest was just a byproduct of me living in my own little world.

But as an adult, I can see a lot better how Beezus must have felt.  As a kid, I always saw through Ramona's eyes.  My sister would come home from school and be angry with me, and I wouldn't understand.  She would accuse me of embarassing her, and I didn't know what she was talking about.  When I did things, I was not thinking about how other people would perceive them.  I just did whatever seemed like the thing to do.  And a lot of times, socially awkward me didn't understand that other people would find my actions weird.  Socially awkward me certainly wasn't thinking about how other people would think of me as weird and THEN go ask my big sister what n the world was wrong with her little sister.

I was probably in my mid twenties before I figured out what her problem was.  She was a teenager who came to the logical (at least from a teenager's perspective) conclusion that everything I did was to embarrass her.  And while that wasn't the case, it sometimes must have really sucked for her to be related to and publically identfied with someone like me. 

Anyway, I really like the movie "Ramona and Beezus."  I originally thought it was going to be an adaptation of one of the books, but I was pleased with how they combined several of the Ramona books to make one truly endearing (and G RATED---how many recent live action movies do you know that are G RATED these days?) film.  I have to admit that I have cried every time I've watched it (three times now).  It's that combination of old reading memories, that family bond (especially the sisterly bond between Beezus and Ramona), and that hopeful moment when Ramona realizes that she's not just a pest, but really something extraordinary, after all.  Those things get me every time. 

I think my favorite part of the whole film is when Beezus and Ramona are talking, and Beezus sweetly says, "You don't color inside the lines."  And after they talk a little, Ramona says, "Sometimes I color inside the lines.  It really depends on the picture."

It's been too long since I read those remarkable Beverly Cleary books, so I'm not sure if that's a line from a book, or if it's just something clever the filmmakers added, but I like it.  I like it because it really does define Ramona.  And it defines me. 

I know exactly what Ramona means when she says that.  She means that sometimes it's easier to conform than other times.  Sometimes, it's easy to be good and not create drama.  But Ramona was her own little person, and when something didn't seem right to her, she couldn't change in order to fit the situation.  It wasn't that she was rebellious; she just didn't know how to be something she wasn't.  She couldn't be something she wasn't.  And I'm the same way.  Ramona didn't mean to embarrass Beezus, and I never meant to embarrass my big sister.  Ramona didn't mean to cause  trouble (most of the time), and neither did I.  Ramona didn't mean to let her imagination run away with her...and let me tell you, I still struggle with that sometimes, but I really do TRY to stay in reality.  But Ramona really was extraordinary, and from time to time, I like to pretend that I'm extraordinary, too.  ...but maybe that's just what ALL the socially awkward people tell themselves....

What I do know is that sometimes it's just easy and right for me to color inside the lines--other times, it would be a tragedy if I tried to color inside the lines.  It really depends on the picture.

I'd kind of like to see a book about Ramona as a grown up.  I wonder if we'd be so similar now.  I'm guessing she'd still have many grown-up Ramona moments.  I know that I sure do...

I need to go reread those books!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Use Your Words!

I've been planning a craft for the girls I watch that involves using words clipped out of magazines and newspapers.  I guess I could *try* to get them involved in the actual word clipping, but I know that would go over about as well as if I asked them to do their own laundry.  The youngest one (The Princess) wouldn't even know what I was talking about (I'm pretty sure she believes the Laundry Fairy comes and washes all her clothes and magics them back into her dresser.  Well, okay, the Laundry Fairy does exist--and her name is Mommy...and sometimes Daddy).  The oldest one (The Drama Queen) would freak out about how hard it is and act as though I were a horrible monster for even suggesting that I try to make her do it.  The middle one (The Diva) would let me know that she was perfectly capable of doing it, but that she had better things to do and wouldn't waste her time on such a trivial activity.  Long story short--I would fight a battle doomed to failure and end up cutting all the words out by myself.  So I saved myself a lot of whining and just started clipping out words.

I've been clipping words out of magazines and newspapers for about a month now.  My roommate told me I was going overboard, but I didn't listen.  Turns out, I probably did go overboard, but now I'm kind of addicted to clipping out words, so I'm still doing it even though I've got a huge ziplock bag full of words!  Every time I go to the library, I grab a handful of each of those free periodicals they have there.  And I don't feel too bad about it, because as I've clipped the words, I've read some of the stuff in there.  Some of it is actually pretty good, but most of it belongs on the bottom of a birdcage.  I have a feeling a lot of those free periodicals end up getting recycled without having ever been read.  I feel sorry for those periodicals.  They were printed for a purpose that they will never realize, stacked on the wire rack of their dreams that will never come true.  So I'm doing them a favor by putting them to some use--even if that use is viciously ripping them apart in search of "big, pretty words."

In my search for words, I've noticed that advertisers are some of the best liars in the world.  For example, do you know what the word "unique" means?  Do you know how many times I've cut the word "unique" out of different ads?  If something is unique, then it's one-of-a-kind, right?  Well, I seriously doubt that all of these similar products and services I've encountered are as "unique" as they claim.  But slap the word "unique" on a page with big, pretty letters, add a picture of a cute kid, and all of the sudden suckers are going to get sucked in.  That is, they would if every other "unique" ad didn't also have big, pretty letters and an equally adorable child.  Maybe even holding a puppy, for good measure.

Words are some of my favorite things in the world.  I like the idea that a bunch of symbols (letters) pieced together in a certain order has a meaning that we assign to it.  I like that you can put those words together into sentences that also have meanings.  I like watching toddlers learn to assign meanings to words, and I like hearing them put those words into sentences--figuring out language patterns.  I like watching kindergartners and first graders learn to write out those patterns.  I like watching them struggle with the MANY exceptions to those patterns.  It's not that I like watching them struggle so much as it's interesting to me to watch their brains try to figure out this crazy English language.  As much as the English language has been warped over the centuries, it's a wonder we have any grammatical rules left....

Some grammatical rules seem more important to me than others.  I can't stand it when people use the wrong form of your/you're or there/their/they're, but I can live with a split infinitive (if James T. Kirk could do it on his five year mission, I can do it, too).  I also don't mind it if you end a sentence with a preposition.  And it's absolutely fine with me if you start a sentence with a conjunction (see what I did there?).  I even like passive voice if it's used effectively.  I think I'm more likely to be a grammar nazi when a broken grammar rule leads to difficulty in understanding the meaning that a writer is trying to convey.  For example, the phrase "Your pretty" leads me to ask the question, "My pretty what?"  Yet that doesn't explain why my ears bleed every time someone says, "I'm doing good" or "I'm real smart" or "He ran quick."  I guess being the daughter of two teachers--one of whom was an English teacher--caused me to pick up on how proper grammar should sound. 

I do think there's a problem with what people do with words today.  That "unique" example is part of it.  C. S. Lewis made a good point when he said, "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."  I do that with the word "awesome."  I use that word like I have to meet a quota.  And when I use it, I'm not even using the original meaning.  I'm using the watered-down 80's version of it.  Word meanings change over time (another thing I really like about words), but sometimes I don't think it's a good thing.  With "awesome," I keep using that word, but I do not think it means what I think it means.  I call my friends awesome.  Does that mean they fill me with awe every time I see them?  Ok...maybe...but I think it more likely that they are just great people whom I like to be around.  Maybe I should find a better word to describe my friends and save the word "awesome" for things that actually inspire awe--like God.

But I really really like the word "awesome," and I really really like using the word "awesome" because it's such an...awesome word.  You see my problem?  That--and I feel the need to repeat the word "really" to convey the really-ness of my like of the word "awesome."

You know what?  Never mind.  I'm pretty sure the English language is doomed to be a train wreck.  I'm the only one of my friends who actually types out words when I text.  I'm sure I annoy all my friends who are able to make sense out of the phrase: "Gng 2 prty @ Sue's 2mrw? 8pm. Cn u br dip?"  I mean, I cause them so much trouble by actually typing it all out: "Are you going to go to the party at Sue's tomorrow?  It's at 8pm.  Can you bring dip?"  All those extra letters to read.  It's such a waste of time!

I believe that in the future, vowels will be obsolete.  Everyone will communicate using only consonants, even whilst speaking, so that all verbal communication will be reduced to a series of grunts.  "Gd mrnng.  Hw r y?"  "Mrnng. M fn. Hw r y?"  "Gd. Nd cff."  "M t."  Yeah.  It'll be really confusing.  To fix that problem, everyone's just going to be implanted with a device that eliminates all need for verbal communication.  To save the time it would take for someone to verbally communicate a thought, the actual thought will actually be projected into another person's actual brain.  ACTUALLY!  This, of course,  will lead to several technical glitches that will eventually make everyone completely telepathic.  Everyone will know everyone else's thoughts all the time.  Then everyone in the world will become uber paranoid and will never leave their houses again.  Until one day a brave soul discovers an ancient book called a "Dictionary" and brings language back into a world that is desperately in need of a few good words.

Ooh.  That would be awesome.