Friday, December 25, 2009

::Cantique de Noël

There is so very much I could attempt to articulate; so many abstract concepts I could try squeezing into awkward molds of eloquence.

I believe John Sullivan Dwight has taken a phenomenal stab at this already.
Truly He taught us To love one another;
His law is love And His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother;
And in His name, all oppression shall cease.
Those words, sweetly blessing my ears this evening, gave me such hope and solace.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

::wise words

The very first Sunday that I attended Trinity Church - July 25, 2004 - I fell in love with its liturgy.

Many Sunday mornings find me feeling inspired and often confounded by the assemblage of words we read responsively.

My spirit is often probed by this phrase:

Before God, with the people of God, we confess to our brokenness: to the ways we wound our lives, the lives of others, and the life of the world.

The Confession of Sin is purposely humbling, and often so beautifully articulate.
I found this morning's Confession particularly provocative.

Confession of Sin for the Fourth Sunday in Advent:

Almighty God, our Father, the days grow darker and colder, and yet somehow we grow accustomed to the gloom around us. We have become all too familiar with death, war, tragedy, sorrow and worry in the world.

Lord, have mercy on us.

The world around us is full of violence and injustice; whole nations are in the grip of darkness as they seek power instead of peace, choosing greed over generosity, loving self above sacrifice.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Our very lives are filled with dysfunction and sin. We neglect and abuse every good thing You have given to us. We are left brooding over our troubled lives, even as we remain indifferent to the suffering of others.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Loving God, break the grip of darkness in our lives, so that Your peace will dawn in our hearts.

Look with favor upon Your people, Lord.
Grant us Your blessing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

::what up, doc?

MTV broadcasts a show called Teen Mom.
It chronicles the lives of girls who were formerly featured on the series 16 and Pregnant.
As all of MTV's documentary series tend to do, it captivates me.

Something that has always bothered me is this: if a girl becomes pregnant and finds herself in very difficult straits, there are many who will dismiss her obvious struggle with statements like,

"Well, she brought it on herself!"

"She should've thought of that before she decided to have sex!"

While I understand the tendency to make such statements, I'm also slightly appalled by their hypocrisy.
It seems to me that the human condition is a near-constant stream of our own poor decisions placing us in painful places, so what right do we ever have to degrade someone else for their decisions?
Even if it's something simple as oversleeping and missing a test or a meeting at work, or willfully disobeying the speed limit and getting a ticket, who among us has not been in a difficult situation that we "brought on ourselves?"
The very notion that a person somehow deserves less compassion or concern - and not only that, but ridicule instead - because they were the architect of their own pain? That just seems utterly ludicrous.
I actually have a theory that when you're struggling with something you've "brought on yourself," it hurts more than something that just happens to you, because there is the added factor of guilt in the equation.

It would clearly behoove us all to gaze upon our fellow humans with the humility expressed in
There but for the grace of God, go I.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

::mon frère

This is my "little brother," Joel.

Today is his birthday.

I need no special reason to celebrate his existence, but I will seize today's occasion as an opportunity to honor him.

Ever since we were very young, he has been my trusted, cherished confidant.

He read my (bad) poetry, listened to my angsty confessions, and tolerated my atrocious adolescent musical obsessions (NKOTB, anyone?).

A self-described "music geek," Joel is incredibly generous with his knowledge, always eager to share new albums, artists, and genres.

When Joel loves you, he will stop at nothing to ensure that you are safe, protected, and happy.
The most abundant evidence I have seen thus far of his enormous heart, has been his adoration of our niece, Emma.

In her presence, he gushes unbridled kindness, compassion, and sheer delight.
The mere timbre of his voice when he addresses her is heartwarming.

Whether we are laughing together at a particularly amusing moment of Family Guy, discussing our daily drudgery, or even embracing one another to soothe our sorrow at our grandparents' funerals, I am always thankful for and proud of this fact: Joel is my brother.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

::civilian reflections

Last night I saw Brothers with Heather, and walked away feeling deeply, abysmally affected by its powerful performances.
Capt. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a Marine called to complete his fourth tour in Afghanistan, preparing to leave his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and two daughters. Before he departs, he retrieves his brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), from a stint in jail for armed robbery.
After he goes missing in Afghanistan, the atrocities he endures are portrayed with horrifying realism.
Maguire's performance is utterly raw, reaching depths I'd never known possible.
This film, though I would not necessarily equate it with Saving Private Ryan, had very similar effects on my psyche. It ushered me into an entirely new dimension of empathy for modern veterans of our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I witnessed the profound isolation that undoubtedly occurs upon homecoming; how a soldier can be surrounded by their nearest and dearest at a homecoming celebration, yet feel completely and utterly alone.
I've seen and read a great deal about post-traumatic stress disorder in recently-returned soldiers, who behave strangely (by our standards) because they have been absent from "civilized life" for so long that daily interactions are often overwhelming.
While they are loved more deeply than they'll ever understand, they cannot help but feel as though no one will ever completely understand what they've experienced. And sadly, they are technically correct.
But films like Brothers can at least teach us civilians to be more sensitive, to be better listeners, to try harder at that most paramount of virtues, empathy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

::merci beaucoup

Last Sunday evening, I gathered with my church family for our annual Thanksgiving service.
I was greeted by this breathtaking image:

My early arrival gave me the delightful opportunity to amble about, snapping shots of whatever moved me.

Many of us shuffled into the sanctuary with heavy hearts, riddled with anxiety over our pastor's serious illness.
As we shared with one another, speaking aloud to express the things for which we are thankful, I believe we were collectively reminded of how overstuffed with blessings we truly are.
Even in seasons of heavy emotional stress, we can still be thankful for the love and compassion drawn upward and outward, splashing on fellow sufferers roundabout us.

Monday, November 23, 2009


One morning last week I babysat my niece, Emma, in the nursery of my parents' church.
She was very talkative, so I decided to try to capture some of her verbiage on video.

Hilarity ensued.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

::photogenic literature

My two favorite hobbies are writing and photography.

I believe this is because I am a natural observer, and those two artistic expressions feel most organic for me.

In 2004, I was about to leave for a trip, about which I felt a fair amount of anxiety.
The night before I left, I met my parents for dinner at a local restaurant.
They had a gift for me.
A Kodak 3.1 mp digital camera. My first.
Since the digital photography revolution had begun, I'd wanted to experiment, and now, here was my chance.
One of the first shots I took, while hiking in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee:


Not terrible, but not fantastic either.

Still, the very notion that I could capture transient moments, freeze them for reflection and recollection, felt absolutely magical.

William Wordsworth once wrote that poetry is "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" and "emotion recollected in tranquility."

I attempt to apply these same notions to my photographic pursuits.

I hope that I have - even if only once or twice - succeeded.'s tricks?

There is a scene in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm - one of the five funniest television shows ever - wherein we find our protagonist, Larry David, in a precarious situation.

He is enjoying dinner at a restaurant with his wife.
He knows that he needs to use the restroom.
However, seated near the restroom, in a completely unavoidable position, is an acquaintance with whom Larry does not wish to speak.
Larry does not wish to speak with this man because Larry hates superficial chit-chat/small talk (or the "stop-and-chat" as he's been known to call it), and ultimately he hates it so much that he leaves the restaurant.
He goes next door to a different restaurant to use the restroom, then comes back and finishes his dinner.

Would I ever do this?
Probably not.
Have I ever wanted to do this?
Oh yes.
Hundreds of times.

Everyday small-town life is overstuffed with "stop-and-chat" opportunities, many of which I have learned to avoid by employing my dear friend's "duck-and-run" maneuver.

I find "small talk" exhausting.
I have accepted it as a necessary evil, but that does not remove my hatred of it.

Questions like
So how have you been?
What have you been up to?

What's new in your life?

What are you doing these days?

make me feel tense, anxious, and irritated.
I understand that the spirit in which they are posed is usually one of kindness and genuine concern.
But I still hate them.

I recently saw an old friend from high school, whom I had not seen in more than a decade.
He asked none of those questions.
He simply gave me a warm, lingering hug, told me how great it was to see me, and we both sat back, settled into our restaurant meal, and the conversation simply flowed. We spoke of experiences both old and new; spoke of our families, our friends, and our memories.

If I want to tell you how I've been, what's new, what I'm doing, what I've been up to?
Rest assured, I will.

But frankly, I'd probably rather talk about Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I have far too many friends who consider themselves "boring."

I assume that they often assign themselves this false classification because they have "settled down" with a spouse and children, so they can no longer be as autonomous as they once were.

I'm certain that this is a "the grass is always greener" sort of thing, but frankly, the stereotypical American societal "single life" is actually what I find boring.
I also find it pointless, vapid, evasive.

I'm not a huge fan of sitting in a bar for hours, choked by cigarette smoke swirling everywhere, annoyed by intoxicated idiots, exhausted by the fact that I'm only there because I don't want to be sitting at home.
So, somehow, driving to a different location to sit with other single people, ingest alcohol, and have shallow conversation means that I have "a social life"?

In so many ways, I wish I could be satisfied by going out to the bar every weekend.
I feel as though I might "fit in" better or feel less isolated.

But the fact is, being in mutual love with someone, creating another human being with them, and nurturing that tiny human as they become who they were created to be?
That doesn't sound boring at all.

Although, since I'm a member of the human race and we're a notoriously restless lot, I bet that I would feel "boring" too.

I'm upset that I live in a body and a culture that are so consumed with desire.
It's as if we are constantly advised that we should have more, do more, be more, because we are so drab and lackluster and no matter what, we will never have or be enough.

Perhaps I am not the only one who could use a healthy dose of the gratitude and contentment of St. Paul.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

::numbering the stars

I love autumn.

I love baby-sitting my niece, Emma, who is now 14 months old, and continues to amaze me every time I see her.

And when I say she's "amazing," I don't mean that she's the watered-down cliche of the word that has nearly lost all meaning, after being employed by the ignorant masses to describe such mundane fare as souvenir shot glasses and comfortable footwear.

I mean she amazes me, as in:


–verb (used with object) overwhelm with surprise or sudden wonder; astonish greatly. bewilder; perplex.


Here are two recent shots I've adored:

She loves to collect acorns :)

Her smiles are so infectious

Although she is my brother's progeny and not my own, she has completely altered my entire life.
She has unwittingly handed me an entirely fresh lens through which I now view all that brushes against my senses.

No word is big or strong or descriptive enough.

is the best one I know.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

::you're sitting in a the SKY

Sometimes it just takes a comedian - employing pure, unadulterated exasperation - to express the sentiments I feel so deeply.

Friday, October 2, 2009

::forfeiting their leaves

Emma with Grandpa, 10-1-09

October is my favorite month.

I always fall in love anew with the crisp, chilly air that greets my lungs.
I adore the cornucopia of colors pleasantly brushing past our corneas as we perform our mundane routines of daily drudgery.

And even when the trees have just surrendered

To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come
You are autumn

~Nichole Nordeman

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

::two-legged memorials to the laws of happenstance

Over the weekend, I was very blessed to spend lots of quality time with my dear friends Zachary and Erin.
After dinner on Saturday evening, we discussed one of my all-time favorite musicians/songwriters, the late Rich Mullins.
We noted our shared affinity for his gorgeous song, Here in America.
Some of the phrases in these lyrics feel almost otherworldly, they are so brilliantly joyful and poignant.
I have included them here, after the video.

Here In America - Rich Mullins

Saints and children we have gathered here to hear the sacred story
And I'm glad to bring it to you with my best rhyming and rhythm
'Cause I know the thirsty listen and down to the waters come
And the Holy King of Israel loves me here in America

And if you listen to my songs I hope you hear the water falling
I hope you feel the oceans crashing on the coast of north New England
I wish I could be there just to see them, two summers past I was
And the Holy King of Israel loves me here in America

And if I were a painter I do not know which I'd paint
The calling of the ancient stars or assembling of the saints
And there's so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see
But everywhere I go I'm looking

And once I went to Appalachia for my father he was born there
And I saw the mountains waking with the innocence of children
And my soul is still there with them wrapped in the songs they brought
And the Holy King of Israel loves me here in America

And I've seen by the highways on a million exit ramps
Those two-legged memorials to the laws of happenstance
Waiting for four-wheeled messiahs to take them home again
But I am home anywhere if You are where I am

And if you listen to my songs I hope you hear the water falling
I hope you feel the oceans crashing on the coast of north New England
I wish I could be there just to see them, two summers past I was
And the Holy King of Israel loves me here in America

Thursday, September 17, 2009

::if I had a hammer

Early this morning, while driving to my brother's house, I heard some upsetting news.

"Mary Travers has died."

Folk is, by far, my favorite genre of music, its raw simplicity a constant source of solace and joy for my sensitive soul.

I vividly remember the moments when this adoration presented itself.
I was riding in a car with my lifelong "bff" Annie on the way home from Meijer.
The fact that she was moving to Utah that week hung suspended in the air like a pungent odor, its nefarious tentacles dangerously close to our membranes.

She asked if she could play Peter, Paul and Mary for me, and I agreed, secretly thinking, Umm, my parents listen to them...are you serious?

As the music softly swelled to its apex, however, I found myself transfixed.
As much as Leavin' on a Jet Plane has been dismissed, maligned, and ridiculed, it remains, to me, a powerful lament of bittersweet melancholy.
The strong, rich vocals by Mary Travers, fused with gentle harmony by Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, somehow managed to isolate all the emotions I could not even identify, extract and soothe every gnawing anxiety.
As Annie and I joined our voices with the chorus, inhaling the palpable reality, I was forever changed.

Years later, I went with my parents to see Peter, Paul and Mary perform live at Meadowbrook Theatre.
My parents, rarely fans of Public Displays of Affection, sat cuddled together as they swayed and sang along to Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
I still recall the tranquil grandeur of that breezy summer evening with a deeply crystallized fondness.

I am certain that I am merely one of thousands who, if not for Mary Travers, would never have shared such precious, intimate moments of sheer delight and poignancy.

For that, I am forever grateful, both to her and for her.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

::television, here I come...

I've always loved this questionnaire, posed to every guest by James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio.

I decided to take a stab at it.


What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on?
Compassion and laughter

What turns you off?

What sound or noise do you love?
The laughter of people I love

What sound or noise do you hate?
Angry shouting

What is your favorite curse word?

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I really want Samantha Brown's job

What profession other than yours would you not like to attempt?

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"I love you, Stacey."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

::what did you expect?

I had a discussion today with a woman who identified something I'd never quite realized.

She was outlining her hopes for her church's pastoral search, and she said that whoever their new pastor turns out to be, he will be stepping into a position that features a large load of expectations, and that she believes this to be true of all pastors.
Every congregant wants various things from their pastor, and some of these things are traits of which they are not even aware.
They want a guy who will always say hello to them or a warm, friendly woman who always greets any guests they bring; someone who always slides a few jokes into weekly sermons, or always begins business meetings with epic, eloquent prayers.

On a larger scale, I stopped to consider the expectations we all have - unwittingly or not - for those who serve us.
We expect waitresses to be friendly, accomodating, and quick, we expect cashiers to respond with bright enthusiasm to our feeble attempts at small talk, we expect police officers to conveniently ignore our speeding.

It might be tempting to wish for our expectations to follow us around in a constant overhead cloud of sorts, clearly displaying themselves to everyone we meet.
I suspect, however, that this would bend most of us to the ground with a profound, trembling fear of impending failure.

Friday, August 21, 2009

::from day to day

I received this from a dear friend, and it truly transformed my day into a much brighter one.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

::organic spiral

I have high-maintenance hair.

That statement is not surprising to anyone who knows me.
I try not to complain about it too much, but sometimes, oh mercy, it frays every single one of my nerves.
Its thick mass of natural spiral curls can be an unruly menace.

When I was little, it was completely straight, silky, and resistant to curl.
But the older I've grown, the more the curl emerges, and the frizz encroaches like a calculating villain.

On countless occasions, I have been approached by strangers, usually female, asking if my hair is, indeed, naturally curly.
My response is always the same: shy smile, slight chuckle, followed by "Yes, it certainly is." Sometimes I throw in an eye roll, depending on the day.
And the kind stranger always says one of three things:

  • Do you know how much money I've spent trying to make my hair do that?
  • Will you trade me?
  • You have to be kidding! That's a perm, right?

And then the conversation ultimately ends with one of us saying, "You always want what you don't have."

My friend Jason once told me that, if I were a giant, he would love nothing more than to shrink himself down to micro-stature, so that he could go bungee-jumping on my hair.
When he introduced me to people, he'd often say, "This is my friend Stacey, and she has bungee hair..." and then demonstrate by pulling down a curl and watching it spring back into position.

I loved this whimsical notion so much that I began using bungeehair as a pseudonym of sorts.

It feels slightly odd that I would grow to become so readily associated with the peculiarities adorning my scalp, but the silliness has helped me to embrace its quirks and hold my head high.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

::boys are yucky

So let's say, hypothetically speaking, I had a crush on some dude.
Let's say this dude and I travel in some similar circles.

And after a significant length of time wherein I secretly harbored this crush, I finally scraped together enough courage to ask him out in a very casual, non-scary way, for a cup of coffee.
Let's say he turned me down.
Let's say he was rather rude when he turned me down.
And I was awake for most of the night after I read this dreaded rejection.

And then a few days later, I had to see him.
I avoided him completely, refusing to allow even the briefest moment of eye contact.
All the details, nuances I used to find charming and attractive - the way he smiles when he hugs people, the way he slouches a bit when he walks, etc.- are things I must now train myself to not love.
I have learned that he is not who I thought he was, that arrogance is his primary personality trait.
And after a short yet painstaking stretch of time of sharing his general vicinity, I leave, and my brain is swimming with intermingled pain, confusion and disgust.

And later, I glance at his LinkedIn profile, which is attractive and clearly achieves its intended smoke-and-mirrors effect.
But upon closer examination, I note that he has misspelled a very simple word.
And this makes me sublimely happy.

::dylan wisdom

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance of a perfect, finished plan
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

~Bob Dylan

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

::my little ladybug

One year ago today, at 12:12 p.m., my darling niece, Emma Charlotte Highfield, was born.

I have grown to love her more than I could have ever imagined, dreamed or conceived.

Below is a poem I wrote as an attempt to honor her.
My sentiments toward her are far too vast for consonants and vowels, but my attempt was diligent and heartfelt.


In the dogmatic corridors of Bible college,
I met stodgy clergymen
who, in their stilted vernacular
introduced one word, claiming it connoted
a plethora of everlasting virtues;
This six-letter summation of sacred blessings:

A clinical depressive prone to daily sobs,
passing hours locked inside my dormitory,
I craved this mythical abstraction,
yet eventually equated its existence with magic
carpets and airborne swine.

One decade passed,
and like a desperately overdue
extravagance, I brushed against its divinity.

My brother's beloved wife -
her belly swollen to an enormous orb -
finally pushed forth an infant woman,
and hours later I sat silent,
her tiny fist beneath my chin,
her flushed cheek perched against my bosom,
my fingers like a giant's across her spine,
my body pulsating with the sound
of every nucleus
of every cell

Monday, August 3, 2009

::dewey decimal

I love libraries.

I always have.

My job search of late has included many searches for openings in local libraries.

I love the instantly-palpable peaceful spirit, the truckloads of books shelved in such an orderly manner, the circulation clerks offering shy smiles and asking "May I help you?" in perfectly hushed voices.

I savor the duality of independence and interdependence; solitary individuals clearly accomplishing errands, while others hunch in groups at tables, searching for definitions of words like ancillary and diphthong.

Whenever I find myself pining for exit, I always feel slightly sad, wondering if there is anything I have forgotten or neglected, anything I could do that might allow me to stay just one minute longer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

::how does that make you feel?

The titles most likely to populate my Netflix queue are those belonging to television shows.

Lately, the show of choice has been In Treatment.

Each episode, with very few exceptions, portrays only a therapy session.

Most often, it is the dialogue that is called upon to retain the viewer's interest, which I always find intriguing.
And the actors who breathe life into this dialogue are superb.

Having been "in treatment" - in psychotherapy - for several years myself, I can attest to the realism and gritty truths exposed in each session.

When I was diagnosed with "major clinical depression" at age 19, there was a painful stigma attached to counseling/therapy.
I thought it meant I was "crazy," that I was irrefutably weak and mentally feeble, that I simply could not "handle my life" the way "normal people" could.

After spending brief stints in therapy over the years, I have come to realize that quite the opposite is true.

Without any trace of arrogance or boastful intention, I can truly state that I believe most people who choose to examine their lives in therapy are actually quite brave. Strong. Exceptional.
Dissecting one's own behavior, identifying patterns, noting unhealthy habits, dredging up painful memories, implementing healthier strategies for living...these are all difficult tasks.
They are not the sort of pursuits sought by the faint of heart.

I enjoyed therapy because it forced me to live consciously, thoughtfully.

It acknowledged the darkness, but always pointed toward Hope.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

::blessed are you

Yesterday I must have been feeling exceptionally self-destructive, because I tuned in to a Christian radio talk show.

The topic?

Examples given by callers?
NOT persecution.
Not even close.

Oh no, adult education student, a transgendered person (gasp!) came into your Cultural Competency class and talked about his negative experiences with judgmental Christians?
It's too bad that you felt discomfort, but you weren't being persecuted.

Oh, you poor soul, you work in Ann Arbor - "a very liberal town" - and all of your coworkers are "liberal" and they disagree with your political beliefs?
Again, I'm sorry for the discomfort, but I doubt that qualifies as persecution either.

How about highlighting such Heroes as Richard Wurmbrand?
Maybe reading from Jesus Freaks?
Maybe explaining the true state of religious persecution - not only of Christians - worldwide?

I don't explicitly intend to sound snide, nor am I claiming to be an expert.
I certainly am not as well-informed as I ought to be.

But I do know that most of what is experienced in America is a tropical vacation compared to atrocities occurring globally every single day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Once in awhile, I wish my life could be magically transformed into a movie.

Naturally I'm well aware that our daily drudgery is not supposed to mirror the manipulated images we absorb in cinema, but a girl can dream.

When I'm really struggling with implementing change or newness into my daily routine, I wish that, instead of actually having to trudge through all the complicated awkwardness, I could just watch a short montage of myself, failing a few times and laughing at myself, then ultimately easing into the change with a seamless grace.

When confronted with a difficult conversation, I want a screenwriter to compose the perfect monologue I could deliver with just the right diction and emotive effects.

When my thoughts feel too convoluted to streamline into words, I want a voice-over to pluck out the most important ones and speak them aloud.

When my spirit is elevated to an unusual level of elation, I want the perfect jubilant symphony to accompany me as a personal soundtrack.

Perhaps these wishes indicate that I am a true "dreamer."
Or maybe I've just seen too many movies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

::a polite request

Dear Creepy Strangers,

Please stop following me on Twitter.

Thank you,

::I just got 'tatered

Many websites that captivate me are the ones introduced to me by my brother Joel.
Wooster Collective is one such example.

Today, while browsing there, I found this:

Potato portraits.

The artist, a Lebanese woman named Ginou Choueiri, explains her work thusly:

I chose the potato to portray human faces because of the many striking parallels. Not only is their skin porous like ours, but their skin texture and color is very similar, and like us, they come in different sizes, shapes and forms. Potatoes grow, live, and then decay, mirroring the ephemeral existence and fragility of our own human nature.

Find more here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

::pinky tuscadero

I'm not a particularly avid fan of pink, or of Hummers, but I must admit, I'm jealous of whoever drives this:

'Twas a lovely jewel of eye candy in the Wal*Mart parking lot.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Emma, 5-8-09

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
and let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
and climb on every rung.
May you stay forever young

~Bob Dylan

Thursday, May 14, 2009

::txt me plz

I'm going to blatantly copy from Stephanie and transcribe a Conversation of the Day.
(I'm sorry, Steph, but imitation is the most sincere form of flattery ;] )

My brother Josh now has unlimited texting.
As noted on Twitter last evening, this translates to me falling out of my chair laughing on a much more frequent basis.

The following exchange took place last evening, after Danny Gokey's departure from American Idol.

JOSH: Danny got hosed!
ME: Haha! Totally! I think he'll be fine though
JOSH: I'd buy his record
ME: Me too! Plus, I may have a little crush on him. Just sayin'.
JOSH: Oh alright
ME: You have a mancrush on him. Admit it.
JOSH: I prefer the term "bromance"
ME: HAHAHA! Okay, Spencer Pratt
JOSH: Spencer Pratt is the hairiest turd on earth how dare you
ME: I apologize. If anyone called me Heidi Montag, I'd be gravely insulted. Although Spencer is worse because of his "creepy flesh-colored beard." (~Joel McHale)
JOSH: That's what happens when turds grow hair

(I'm still laughing.
Yes, I thoroughly enjoy the sophomoric scatological humor.
Who doesn't?)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I hate to sound so clichéd, but since my diabetes diagnosis, I have learned so many valuable lessons.

I suppose the proverbial "swift kick in the ass" is perhaps one of the most educational events one can experience.

Here is what has meant the most to me, though:

I don't need to beat myself up about this.

I've had a lifelong struggle with self-hatred and self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, but I'm learning so very much about the ultimate futility of such unhealthy habits.
If I view these recent events from the most basic level, I see this: an area of my life was careening out of control, and I needed a wake-up call to take the reins and learn to care for myself.

And I've realized that allowing issues in our lives to spiral out of control, well, that seems to be the human condition.
I am not any "worse" than anyone else.
We're all trying to keep our lives "manageable" in all nooks and crannies; our health, our relationships, our vices, our jobs, our families, our emotions...and we all fail on a regular basis.

In my endeavors to become more physically healthy, I've learned that mostly everyone I know, heavy or thin or somewhere in between, is fighting this battle as well.

The fact is, it's difficult to eat healthily and to exercise regularly, and from what I've found, it's difficult for most people.
Temptation is everywhere - especially in America where we seem to worship convenience and instant gratification - and "fat" people like me (although I prefer the word "thick" ;) ) aren't the only ones who struggle with it.

I feel so soothed and comforted by the fact that I'm far from alone on this strenous pilgrimage.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

::my mom, the Grandmom

I have always known, on one level or another, that my mother is an exceptionally nurturing person.
But over the course of these past nine months, watching her with her first grandchild - my niece Emma - has transported me to an entirely fresh dimension of appreciation.
Whether it's a lazy spring afternoon on the porch or a long ride to Myrtle Beach in a mini-van, Mom's compassion and concern for Emma are ever-present and beautiful.

I remember hearing once,
If you ever feel curious about how your parents cared for you, watch them with your children.
Watching my mother's abundant joy and uninhibited adoration of Emma has become one of my favorite pastimes.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

::huit choses

When I'm devoid of fodder for a good narrative, I must resort to lists.
I apologize.
But they're kind of fun.

8 Things I look forward to
1. My week at Lake Louise in July
2. The dvd release of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 7
3. Getting a job
4. Annie's visit this summer
5. Meeting Rowan Oliver Holmes, my friends' new baby
6. Making my niece's 1st birthday present
7. "Around the House" nights @ Trinity House Theatre
8. Finishing my new poem

8 Things I did yesterday:
1. Went to my brother's house to baby-sit my niece
2. Bought a sugar-free iced vanilla latte
3. Watched Jeopardy!
4. Ate dinner at Red Devil
5. Read The Flint Journal
6. Texted a few Twitters
7. Bought new windshield wipers (thank God!)
8. Received a text - complete w/ newborn baby picture - from a wrong number

8 things I wish I could do:
1. Enjoy exercise
2. Visit Europe
3. Play the guitar
4. Travel often
5. Go to Target without buying anything
6. Hate all unhealthy food
7. Live in an exciting city
8. Own a Newfoundland

8 Shows I watch:
1. The Office
2. 30 Rock
3. Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory
4. CSI: New York
5. Gilmore Girls
6. Seinfeld
7. The Mentalist
8. Ellen

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Before I left for Myrtle Beach, I had some blood drawn at the doctor's office.

During vacation, I received a call that my blood sugar had tested very high.

On Thursday, the doctor told me that I'm diabetic.

I knew I had risk factors (obesity, family history, etc.) , so it wasn't a complete shock, and I also know it's a very manageable condition. Also, in the grand scheme of Things That Could Be Wrong With Me, I know it's very mild.

Still, it struck me with a swift, forceful punch.

I've also been very sick for several days with some mysterious respiratory ailment, which the Dr. thought may be pneumonia, but I couldn't afford the chest X-Ray to confirm it. between the coughing spells and blowing my nose every two minutes, I've had lots of time to ponder and ruminate, and I've realized that this diagnosis was one that I needed.

Whatever else it is - frightening, sad, confusing, upsetting, slightly devastating - I've decided that it's actually going to yield positive results.

I've known - and secretly wished for - a "wake-up call" for quite a while now, and a large part of me is grateful for its receipt.

The other part of me? Scared to death.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

::PB + J? Sooo passé

Tonight we went out to dinner at River City Cafe.

I decided to be (uncharacteristically) adventurous.
I ordered the Peanut Butter Burger.
I was understandably apprehensive.

Guess what?
It was shockingly delicious.

::rite of passage

I don't feel small very often.

I inhabit a large body, and generally feel like a hulking behemoth in most everyday moments.

Lee Ann Womack's song I Hope You Dance, while dismissed by many as sentimental, saccharine drivel, contains a lyric that has long intrigued me.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean...

Yesterday morning, for the very first time, I finally stood beside the ocean.

I felt small.
So very small.

And I loved it.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Last year, I lost a job because I was employed by a business that failed.

It was my favorite job that I've ever had, and I was very depressed when it ended.

I am still owed $2,500 in unpaid salary, and was promised ownership of a Nikon D70 SLR camera.
The guy who promised me those things has been an impossible person to locate or contact since everything went to hell. He "went into hiding", as some phrased it.

Today, though?
I was in Rite-Aid, and guess who was on his way out?
You guessed it.
That guy.

And what did I do?
Here's where you'll be really proud of me:
I did . . . nothing.
As soon as I saw him, I panicked and kept walking.
Our eyes never met, our paths never directly crossed.

For several seconds, I contemplated chasing after him, sifting through all the questions I could ask, demands I could reiterate, information I could finally extract.
I stood still, frozen, literally unable to move.

I'm terrible at confrontation, always have been, and when it presents itself, I flee.

What did I really want, though? Answers? Apologies? Money? The camera?
Knowing this man and his shady nature, I'm almost 100% certain that I would not have received any of those things.
And closure is always better in our minds than in reality.
It's never satisfying when it actually happens.

Still, I cannot help but feel like a yellow-bellied coward and a raging idiot.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

::Keyword Poetics

So, Christopher cooked up a new little game for us to play.
We each take turns choosing a word, and then we both have a week to write a poem that includes that word.

He went first and chose Abracadabra.

I wrote this:



In the disarming anecdote served
like a succulent souffle
by my subconscious storyteller,
your mortal coil - having
recently shuffled loose - lay in state
in a bustling room
while a large, imposing screen
displayed a montage of memories
that were mine
and mine alone;
the private smiles you delivered
when only I knew to expect them,
your long, stately fingers swiping
liquid angst from my cheeks,
your hand seizing my head,
drawing my brow to your lips
for a prolonged, tender brush
while every person who mattered
bore witness, and my cheeks flushed
crimson with pride
in the name of Love,
and my synapses spilled euphoria
all over my innards,
as though I'd declared a cosmic
and in those luscious, transient seconds?
You were mine.

Years later, I stood stagnant
in an overpriced dress
as I watched your lips congeal
with hers,
For Better or Worse;
your bliss a jagged wrecking ball,
your blessed union
a wretched demolition.


Comments are warmly invited.
I crave feedback.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I suppose I would describe my countenance of late as weary.

Perhaps drained.

I've felt oppressed by anxiety, melancholy, physical illness and a general malaise.

Tonight, the heavy cloak was yanked away by a few hours of quality time with my cousin and dearest friend, Heather.

It feels as though I can offer so little in the way of explanation, except to say that she has this uncanny way of extracting all the best bits of me and gently coaxing them to the surface.
The bits that everybody else - myself included - often have such difficulty locating.
The bits that hibernate in seasons like this, concealed and silenced by heavy-handed sorrows.

Sometimes all it takes is an evening with her over dinner at Panera, and I'm a brand new creature, refreshed by the power of a cherished friend.

Monday, February 23, 2009

::I'd rather not thank the Academy

I saw Slumdog Millionaire last month.

It does possess some admirable qualities.
Danny Boyle is its director, for instance.
He is irrefutably gifted.

But the story?
Its execution was not powerful enough to motivate me to care about its characters.
I felt no great joy at its climactic music-swell moments, received no grand inspiration from its contrived rags-to-riches clichés.

I simply do not understand what all the fuss is about.

Best Picture of the Year?

I would've voted for The Reader.
And I haven't even seen it yet.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

::Oakwood Cemetery

Everything is equal in the snow: all trees, all lawns, all streets, all rooftops, all cars. Everything is white, white, white, as far as you can see...
Snow, like the silent death it counterfeits, is a great leveler.

~ Adrienne Ivey

Sunday, February 8, 2009


My niece Emma was six months old on Wednesday, February 4.

Here she is, with a special cameo appearance by a shameless admirer:

Thursday, February 5, 2009


You know what I hate?

That nonsensical trendddddd of repeatingggg the lasttttt letterrrrr of everyyyyy worddddd one wantsssss to emphasizeeeeee.

Unspeakably annoying.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

::In the bleak midwinter

I miss the bittersweet drizzly afternoons of autumn.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

::Everybody's doin' it, part deux

I keep getting tagged, and I actually like doing these things, are 25 more:

1 -- I hate raw onions, but I love onion rings and french onion soup.

2 -- I love great fiction, but I'm terrible at writing it.

3 -- Unlike most people I know, I have never been to Florida.

4 -- I've struggled with clinical depression since I was 19. I sometimes still feel ashamed of it, although I know that I shouldn't. I'm finally on a medication that is both affordable ($4 a month at Wal*mart!) and effective.

5 -- The week before Easter, I'm going to Myrtle Beach with my family. It will be the first time I've ever been to the ocean.

6 -- I have a terrible time motivating myself to go to church.

7 -- I love painting my nails silver.

8 -- I like watching reruns of Roseanne, especially the early episodes.

9 -- Stand By Me was my first favorite movie, and I watched it so much that I had it memorized.

10 -- I used to think Dane Cook was hilarious, but now I can just barely tolerate him.

11 -- I'm very close to my parents and I spend a lot of time with them.

12 -- I drink sometimes, but I don't like bars because of the smoke and the noise.

13 -- I'm intimidated easily, especially by people who have strong personalities or some sort of prestige attached to them.

14 -- I sometimes don't know how I'm feeling until I write it down or say it out loud.

15 -- I'm not competitive. Not even close. I feel bad when I give someone the "Draw two" card in UNO.

16 -- I am most definitely a "night person," and I hate getting up in the morning.

17 -- I sometimes get emotional when I see older people eating alone in restaurants.

18 -- In general, I would much rather text than call. It's quicker and avoids gratuitous chit-chat.

19 -- When I was a teenager, I wanted a lava lamp really badly for some reason. I borrowed one from a friend and was mesmerized by it. (I wasn't high though, I swear ;] )

20 -- I miss having a job, feeling productive and useful. I really hope I can find one soon.

21 -- My favorite love songs are The Beatles' "In My Life" and Over the Rhine's "Bothered."

22 -- This year I decided I want to send more mail. I used to love having pen pals; I miss sending and receiving letters and cards.

23 -- I'd like to go to grad school, but I'm torn about what to study.

24 -- I love Sid Dickens memory blocks

25 -- I wish I had the patience to straighten my hair more often.

Friday, January 30, 2009

::are you being served?

I don't necessarily make a habit of watching Oprah, as I have many conflicting feelings about her. But I saw one show in the past few months about rudeness, and was alarmed at some of the behaviors exhibited (by hidden-camera footage) of restaurant diners and gas station patrons.

One convenience store clerk was interviewed, and she wept as she admitted that so many of her customers don't even make eye contact with her, don't even bother to respond to "Hello" or "How are you?" She said she feels as though she is less than human.

Approximately ten years ago, I worked in a video store.
One night after work, as I gave a ride home to a co-worker, she talked about how one man had treated her that evening, berated her in front of other customers and humiliated her, all because of something that turned out to be his mistake. (He'd placed the wrong movie in the wrong case.)

My co-worker, exasperated by the whole situation, asked me, "I know this is a peon job, but I still deserve respect, right?"

Unable to find a job in my field after graduating from college, I took a job at Panera Bread, and as a new trainee, I was sometimes treated very poorly by impatient, annoyed customers who made snide, none-too-subtle comments about my job performance (or lack thereof).

I had a college psychology professor, Dr. Mark Cosgrove, who talked about sometimes seeing a student sleeping through his lectures, and how sometimes it's very tempting to single out or embarrass that student, or judge them. But, he said, "I have to remember that there is a person and a world behind that sleeping student, and I need to be sensitive to that."

I have held on to that sentiment, and have attempted to carry it through my life as a guide to interacting with people.
Naturally, I do not follow it perfectly, and I still have many moments of insensitivity and carelessness.
But if a server takes an extra few minutes to refill my water, I remember to think, maybe they're having a rough night. Maybe her boss yelled at her, maybe he's covering for someone else who's sick, maybe s/he's not feeling well.
Or maybe serving in a restaurant is not his/her strongest skill, but s/he had to take this job to support their family.
And could I do their job any better?
I seriously doubt it.
I'm absent-minded and forgetful, not to mention very clumsy and accident-prone.
I try to be patient with those who serve me; bank tellers, restaurant workers, mechanics, movie theatre ushers, convenience store and grocery clerks, etc., because I have been in their position, and I know that when one spends all day dealing with the general public, a little tenderness and sensitivity will go a long, long way.

There were other customers I met while working at Panera, too.

One day when the computer system kept failing, making it nearly impossible to take and fill orders in a prompt and correct manner, one young couple with a cute little baby came through my line. I was very honest with them about the circumstances, noticeably flustered, and must have looked as though I might crumble before their eyes.
I offered to deliver their coffee drinks to their table, and when I did, they regarded me with warm, compassionate smiles, and as I walked back to the counter, the man followed me, grabbed my shoulder, and slipped a five-dollar bill into my palm.
"Hang in there," he said, "I know you're doing your best."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


John Updike passed away.
Such a substantial loss.

It was my friend Christopher who informed me of this, and also he who introduced me to Updike's work several years ago. I read the novel A Month of Sundays at his insistence, and it became one of my all-time favorites.

His poem Dog's Death is also a favorite, irrefutably poignant and moving; something I wish I could have written to honor a beloved canine companion.

This poem, quoted on his fan page as well, is clearly the ideal memorial:

Perfection Wasted

And another regrettable thing about death

is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,

which took a whole life to develop and market-

the quips, the witticisms, the slant

adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest

the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched

in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,

their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,

their response and your performance twinned.

The jokes over the phone. The memories packed

in the rapid-access file. The whole act.

Who will do it again? That's it: no one;

imitators and descendants aren't the same.

~John Updike

Monday, January 26, 2009

::Everybody's doin' it

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.
If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

1 -- I check my email at least five times a day.

2 -- I really want a pair of Buddy Holly glasses.

3 -- I would love to move out west, but I'm afraid that I would miss my family too much.

4 -- I'm very absent-minded; it can sometimes take me a while to return phone calls and/or emails.

5 -- I can only eat yogurt with crunchy stuff mixed into it, like granola or Golden Grahams.

6 -- For a long time now, I've secretly harbored a desire to dye my hair (at least part of it) pink or candy apple red.

7 -- I would rather see my baby niece Emma than just about any other person on Earth.

8 -- I'm very "touchy" and affectionate, and hugs are one of my favorite things in the world.

9 -- I'm slightly obsessed with photography, especially candid shots; my friends and family get annoyed with me sometimes.

10 -- My parents and I have eaten at Red Devil (a restaurant in downtown Holly) so much that all the servers know us, and we no longer need menus.

11 -- My two most identifiable characteristics - "trademarks," if you will - seem to be my hair and my laugh.

12 -- I wish I had a larger extended family; my mom was an only child and my dad had only one sibling.

13 -- All of my grandparents have passed away - the last one in 2004 - and I still miss them terribly.

14 -- I rarely like pictures of myself that are not self-portraits.

15 -- Flying does not scare me; I would actually like it if I didn't get airsick.

16 -- I find the Saturday morning shows on NPR to be HIGHLY entertaining. (Yep, I'm a Nerd.)

17 -- My current celebrity crushes are Neil Patrick Harris, Simon Baker, Joel McHale, and Zach Braff.

18 -- I often find myself watching French films on Independent Film Channel.

19 -- My ideal job would include lots of writing, editing, photography, and travel.

20 -- I dread and detest conflicts and confrontations.

21 -- Intelligence and eloquence are qualities I find very attractive.

22 -- Someday I hope to own and adore a purebred Newfoundland.

23 -- I think Johnny Depp is a supremely talented actor who disappears into every role he tackles.

24 -- I was "hit on" at a gas station once, and I laughed about it for a long time afterward.

25 -- My least favorite holiday is New Year's Eve.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


A few online locales where I've lurked lately:

Diablo Cody's blog -- She wrote Juno, and more recently, The United States of Tara on Showtime. She and I have a similar love of/obsession with pop culture. Sometimes I find her writing too kitschy, too esoteric. But I relate to her, she intrigues me, and she makes me laugh.

Everyday Loopholes -- I have learned, among other things, how to get cheaper drinks at Starbucks and how to make Firefox browse at lightning-fast speeds. Nice.

Trashy Eats -- I've had a livejournal account for about five years, and just recently found this community. As a lifelong chubby kid, I'm intrigued by some of the wacky recipes and trashy treats these folks are cookin' up.

Mo Rocca -- Oh my, this dude makes me laugh. It seems every time I see or hear him, hilarity ensues.

Quote stumbler
-- Just refresh the page for a new quote. My favorite one so far:

You can judge the character of others by how they treat those
who can do nothing to them or for them.

~Malcolm Forbes

Saturday, January 17, 2009

::soup of the day

Since November, I have known that my dear friend Christopher had a big surprise present in store for me.
As a combination birthday/Christmas gift, he was taking me somewhere, exact destination and featured event undisclosed.

I knew we were headed to Detroit and that "the show" started at 7:30.

I could not have imagined something as glorious as this...


If you're asking "Who?" right now, I am SO sad for you.

Host of E!'s The Soup, tormentor of Ryan Seacrest, comic genius?
Yep, that's him.

What a magnificent, exquisite gift.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

::teen dreams

Inspired by Erin's post about revisiting movies she loved as a child, I would like to report that, after a shopping tip from Annie, I went to Target and purchased a 2-pack of Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too that cost me a mere five dollars.

Teen Wolf is just one example of movies about teenagers that I loved as a "tween"; one of many I'd beg my mom to rent at Starlight Video in beautiful downtown Holly.
Watching it today, I still have a grand affinity for it, much of which is probably comprised of its nostalgic value, but nevertheless, it "still holds up," as they say.
However, were I to watch it as a first-time viewer?
I doubt it would spark anything but snarky comments, a truckload of questions, and a semi-tremendous disgust.

Can't Buy Me Love.
I remember having recorded it from a tv broadcast and watching it on days when I was sick at home from school.
Before Patrick Dempsey was McDreamy, he was Ronald Miller, and I had a serious crush on him.
He was the sweet, sensitive nerd who just wanted to get noticed.
Having already felt ostracized by "the cool kids" at my tender age, I related to him.
I remember hoping I'd meet a guy like him in high school, and maybe he'd want to be my boyfriend.
Also, sadly, I remember being very moved by what is now a sentimental, vomit-inducing cliche: the "slow clap" for Ronald's cafeteria speech.
A young Seth Green as Chuckie Miller? Comedy gold. Still.

I had a hopeless crush on Corey Haim, having ripped several centerfolds of him from the pages of BOP and Big Bopper magazines for display on my bedroom walls.
And he is the undisputed star of this movie.
(Well, unless you count Charlie Sheen.)
Lucas was another sweet, sensitive nerd who captured my sympathies and my admiration.
I remember hoping the movie was exaggerating the cruelty of the high school bullies it portrayed.
Naturally, as is common in the teen-movie-o-sphere, all the meanies grow hearts and decide that the freakishly smart little nerdy kid is a jolly good fellow after all, and I bought it, and cried.
Watching it several months ago on cable, I admit, I was still teary.

The Breakfast Club.
I felt shocked by much of what I saw in this story, but it was always intermingled with appreciation for what I understood then as raw honesty and a refusal to sugarcoat.
I didn't see the characters as overwrought archetypes but as real kids, ones I might encounter in high school, ones I would have liked to have spent a Saturday with in the library.
I'm told that this story still resonates with people, and I can definitely understand why.
John Bender was the quintessential "burnout" (I'm thinking of reviving that term...who's with me?) who stirred up drama and treated people with cruelty, yet managed to remain somehow lovable, even to younger viewers like me, who probably should have found him scary.

When I watch these movies today, they still captivate me.
I am still thoroughly entertained, although my cinematic tastes have naturally evolved.
I now cringe at the cheesy heartfelt speeches I once found so poignant, the dopey dialogue, the absurd attempts at creating the "authentic" high school microcosm.
These stories, though, for better or worse, are etched into my brain.
I've chosen to believe that's not such a bad thing.


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