Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Good Stuff

E's new favorite game is to pick things up throughout the house and deposit them into a completely different spot. He does this with everything. His toys. My shoes. The remote controls. My yankee candles. The marbles in the tray on top of my dining room table. EVERYTHING. The other night, I went to plug my phone into the charger before bed only to find that it was missing. I looked everywhere that I could possibly think that I may have put my phone charger, and then realized that I needed to be looking everywhere that my son could possibly think to put my phone charger. I found it about 30 minutes later. In the tupperware cabinet. In the deviled egg tray. Where, as any three year old full well understands, IS in fact the best possible place to put a phone charger that someone just haphazardly left plugged into the outlet beside her nightstand.

During the course of one of his trips through the house to collect all things not nailed to the wall, he picked up the yellow box from my bedroom and asked me if he could use it. I told him no, because it had all of my special stuff in it. "You can move anything else, but don't take this box. I don't want to lose the special stuff inside."

This is how I know E is my child. (Well...this, AND the fact that my weight topped 200 lbs the day they cut him from my belly...anyway...I digress...) Upon hearing that there was "special stuff" in that box, a look came across his face that plainly communicated, "I MUST KNOW WHAT IS IN THAT BOX. Like, I might possibly DIE if I don't know right this second." I know this look well. It's the same face my dog used to make when she spotted something dead that she just HAD to roll in....and it's the same face I make when someone says, "Oh, remind me to tell you about this guy I want to fix you up with..." The emotional response to any of these things can be summed up in one word: Urgency.

So I sat with E in my bedroom floor and showed him the Special Stuff. And as I opened the box, I explained that this box is where I keep the good stuff. The first picture he brought home from Mother's Day Out. An envelope of hair from his first haircut. The picture they gave us from his first trip to the dentist. A picture of me and my beloved Nana. A couple of sweet cards from my two most treasured girlfriends. You know....THE GOOD STUFF. And while I waxed nostalgic about each precious item I pulled out of the box, E looked up at me with his big blue eyes, and sweetly asked, "can you put that hair somewhere else so I can put my dinosaurs in this box?" Apparently a three year is not quite capable of sentiment. Who knew?

As I placed things back in the box and E ran off to find another home for his dinosaurs, I began thinking about the good stuff. And I realized that lately, there's not enough good stuff in my life. I am exhausted with grad school, because the end is SO CLOSE...but SO FAR AWAY. I don't enjoy my job, because it's just a way to pay my bills and not something that I actually WANT to do. And then I come home, too tired and, frankly, too boring to do anything besides take a bubble bath and watch Chopped. Add to that my recent disenchantment with dating, and you have one disgruntled chick in a really sassy sundress.

I grew up with a goal: Get Married. Make Babies. Be Traditionally Happy. It didn't seem like too much to ask of the universe, because I was THAT GIRL, the one that everyone expected to grow up and, in the words of an old high school friend, marry a pharmacist. But we all know that things didn't quite work out that way. And I've recently realized that I have wasted years (YEARS!) on pining for a dream that my life is just not set up for at the moment. I have spent a generous amount of time being sad about the fact that the Universe didn't cooperate with my ambitions to be the next Donna Reed, to the point that I am missing out on what my life IS set up for now.

So in the last two weeks, I have taken an inventory of my situation and then sifted out The Good Stuff from the bad, and have decided to rebuild my life in a way that makes the most of where God has me. This means that I have a new found focus on being "in the moment" instead of worrying so much about what may or may not happen 3, 6, or 12 months from now. Which if you know me and my neurosis, you understand is a challenge. When I asked myself the question "what do you want to do NOW" the answer kind of surprised me, because it's never been my focus before. The answer?


And what, you ask, does enjoying life look like for the girl in the sassy sundress?


Yep. I am quitting my boring, frustrating, feast or famine day job and becoming a bartender. For the past two weeks I have been attending a Bartender training school and learning to make drinks with hilariously inappropriate names like Purple Hooter, Sloe Comfortable Screw Against the Wall, and Screaming Orgasm. My hope is that by the end of the month I will be gainfully employed slinging drinks in the city, which is to say the least, quite a departure from anything...well, EVERYTHING...that I have ever done.

It's not going to be a new career. I'm still in grad school and will begin my internship next month. But it's a giant step out of the box that I have forced my life into, and the thought of embracing life outside of the traditional parameters that I have struggled to live in for the last few years makes me SO EXCITED about where God has me. Throwing away the rules that I have always set for myself feels incredible, and for the first time, maybe ever!, I am just loving today!

The response to this change in my life has been interesting. One friend asked me if I had lost my mind. Another asked if she should have her panic attack now or could it please wait until after she had completed her stressful upcoming exam. And another said with a huge sigh of relief, "Oh good. I thought you were about to tell me you were going to be a stripper." But on the whole, the most important people in my life have heard the news and simply smiled....because they A. know that I am rather unpredictable and change my path as often as I change my nail polish, and B. they have all wanted for so long for me to just be happy with where I'm at. You know....because they love me. If I could wrap all of these people up in an envelope and shove them into my yellow box I would. But for now...

Who knew that behind the bar was where they kept the Good Stuff?!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bit Crabby

I love crab legs. There's just nothing like pulling a piece of juicy crab meat from the shell, dipping it in hot butter, and tasting a little bit of heaven. It's just yummy.


crab legs are a lot of work. They require an insane amount of effort...and energy...and tools. And they are messy...and frustrating....and very often disappointing.


I started dating again pretty quickly after I got my house back from the evil clutches of The One That Shall No Longer Be Named. I didn't mean to, really. In fact, I had decided that I wasn't going to get involved with anyone at all for a while. I was going to date myself. And people seemed to think that was a great idea! In fact, there was talk of binding me up in a straight jacket and forcing me into my room so I could think about what I had done. My family, in particular, felt this was the only option. They have gotten tired of watching me muck up my life in such a way that they have to swoop in and count the pieces of me that are left scattered on the floor. And in all honesty, they have earned their right to feel this exhaustion with me. They have, unfailingly, been available in all of my darkest hours, and for that I am thankful.

That said, when a nice guy who I had known through family friends, unexpectedly turned up in my life and struck up an interesting conversation, I went along with it. And soon, we were dating. I enjoyed his company, he made me laugh, and it was a bright spot in my life when everything else was shrouded in introspection and regret. Moving on with someone like him on the sidelines was a more appealing option than going to my room and thinking about what I had done. But dating him didn't stop the mental and emotional processing that needed to take place. In fact, for a good chunk of time, he was a great sounding board for the thoughts that invaded my brain. But for the last few weeks, circumstances, or life, or age, or maturity, or WHATEVER, have changed things, and we are no longer seeing each other. As endings go, it was about as low key as you can get...which, if you are going to have an "ending," that's surely the better route to choose.

And here's the "dating is like eating crab legs" part. In the past few weeks, men have come out of the woodwork like starving little cockroaches, to show some level of interest in me that extends beyond, "hey, let me get that door for you." I'm not saying this to brag. And here's why....

Three, count them...one, two THREE of them are MARRIED. Which to me means NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT AN OPTION. But there was a week in recent recollection where my phone blew up all day long, because three different men with three different unsuspecting wives, woke up thinking it was a good idea to text me all of the reasons they wished not to be married. It did absolutely nothing but PISS. ME. OFF.

One of the guys is engaged...although I think he wishes not to be engaged and is just too damn nice to say that out loud. But still...not an option that can be entertained.

One of the guys is super nice...and super old. So....no.

One guy confuses me because I think we would have a really good time, but I don't think we would have a really good future. So do I really want to waste the effort?

And then, yesterday, a guy whose facebook friend request I accepted only because we had 52 friends in common, literally out of nowhere sends me a chat message and asks me out. It turns out we went to high school together and never really interacted. I don't remember him at all. But he remembers me and would like to "take me to dinner one day next week." The verdict on this one is pending.

I'm tired of dating. It's just like eating crab legs. The plate looks all exciting. But then there is an insane amount of effort put into the process. It's next to impossible to do it with any grace or style, because, like men, crab legs are not always cooperative. It's messy and frustrating, and in the end you have spent so much time trying to get to the good parts, that by the time you get to them, they usually weren't really as good as you expected them to be.

So while I'm not going to throw in the towel completely, (because EVERY NOW AND THEN, you get a good piece of crab that was worth every ounce of effort) I am not interested in getting serious about anyone right now. If someone wants to be with me, it's their turn to do the work. My crab cracker and teeny tiny fork are taking an effing break, and I believe I will have the soup and salad.

On a happier note, I'm going to take a pottery class. I have wanted to for a long time, and since I have just finished my last night class (PRAISE JESUS!!!) and will have my evenings free again, I decided to start dating myself while learning to throw pottery! I am super excited!

At least after all of that time, effort, and mess, I will have a wobbly shaped bowl to show for it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Just Know

E and I have a bedtime ritual. He takes a bubble bath with his sea animals, we brush his teeth with his battery powered Wall-E toothbrush and wild berry Spongebob Toothpaste, we read The Berenstein Bears and Too Much Junk Food, we say our prayers, and then every night I kiss him on the forehead and tuck him in. And if I forget any part of this ritual, or do any part of it differently than normal, E will let me know about it. The other night, I kissed his cheek, tucked him in, and began to walk out of the room only to hear,


In anticipation of the upcoming Julia Roberts film, Eat Pray Love, I have been re-reading my favorite author's memoir. If you haven't read "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, you should do so immediately. She is kind of my hero.

While doing this, I found a quote that I liked. "Everybody has a crack (or cracks). This is how the light of God gets in." I loved it when I read it, so yesterday I posted in on my facebook page. About an hour after I posted it, the little red notification bubble showed up on my mailbox. I went to my inbox and found a message from an old high school friend. This friend found my quote funny, because he has a dirty mind. I'll let you use your imagination on that one.

This friend has also been the source of many spiritual conversations over the years. This is the case, not because he is always so deep in thought (which he is), and not because he is a student of the Bible (which he is NOT), but because he is a self-proclaimed atheist. In high school, it was my mission to convert him to Christianity and save his burning soul. In college, we went on a few friendly dates, which again led to me trying to save him from himself. And in our adult lives, we have come to respect each other as "someone I will never agree with but whom I will always adore." It's a happy place for us, and the result of this mutual respect is a lot of witty facebook banter and an occasional reminder that "you are one of my favorite people."

Our spiritual conversations were always frustrating for me. He is someone who chooses not to believe in something that he can't see. In his eyes, science in no way supports evidence of a higher power, and he obviously can't SEE God, so his question for me was always, "how do you know God exists?" And after many failed attempts at demonstrating God's connection to the miracles of life and the universe in general, the conversation always ended with me huffing, "I just KNOW."

And I did just know. There has never been a time where I questioned the existence of a higher power. Now, over the years, my particular relationship with this higher power has been pulled and stretched like a piece of silly putty, but the relationship itself has never failed. In some form or fashion, I can always see God in my life. He's in my son, and every time E smiles, I'm reminded that God loves me. He's in my school work, and every day that I get closer to finishing this master's program, I'm reminded that He has a purpose for me. He's in my life, and every day that I find peace after the storms of recent years, I'm reminded that He rebuilds the things that are broken. So yes, when it comes to the question of the existence of God, I JUST KNOW is a sufficient answer for me.

But one night, when I was an RA in McCormack Hall at the college on the hill, something happened. I had recently moved to one of the coveted rooms by the elevator. These rooms were reserved for Resident Advisers, because they had a walk in closet space that was situated behind the elevator shaft, and (insert chorus of angels here) a sink in the room. This was a HUGE perk of being an RA, because in any of the other rooms in the dorm, you had to put on your robe and shower shoes and trek a mile down the hall to brush your teeth. The only drawback to this room at all was the fact that it did sit right by the elevators, so all night long you'd here dinging and clattering as drunk sorority girls made their way home. But I didn't care. I had closet space and a convenient teeth brushing experience. It was totally worth a little drunk girl clattering.

In recent weeks in this period in my life, I had been having a hard time sleeping. A lot of this was school stress, as I had come to discover I was most definitely majoring in something that I knew I would HATE. And also at this time, there was a boy that I was losing sleep over. Imagine that. So one night, I lay awake in my bed, and for no reason at all began to cry. And after a few moments, the crying led to praying. And then, something happened to me that I will never forget.

In the midst of my scattered prayer, I felt myself lifted out of the dim funk I was in. My eyes were seemingly glued shut, and at some point the words stopped flowing from my mouth. And in that moment, the spirit of God joined me, right there, beside the elevators, in the room with a sink. It wasn't that He was just there with me. He WAS INSIDE ME. His very energy and power ran through my veins where once there had been blood. His presence washed over me in such a way, that all noise and distraction melted away like hot butter. I ceased praying, because for the first time, a deeper level of communication was taking place. I wasn't talking TO God. I was talking WITH God. There was an intimate exchange between us of hearing the heart of the other. There were no words. There were no sounds. But I heard Him speaking to me. I felt the magnitude of his majesty. I tasted the goodness of His grace. I JUST KNEW.

After a moment, the energy began to soften, and slowly I was dropped back into my bed in the room beside the elevator with a sink in it. I looked at the clock. An hour had passed. Physically, I was completely exhausted, like I had been running up hill for miles, but spiritually I was peacefully still. I drifted off to sleep almost immediately.

Before that night, I believed in my relationship with God because I had had a Christian experience. After that night, I believe in my relationship with God because I have experienced HIM.

For my friend, who asks me "How do you know God exists?" I say, I just know, because one night, at the college on the hill, in McCormack Hall, in the room beside the elevator with the sink in it,

God kissed me on the forehead, and then He tucked me in.