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.


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