Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dream a Little Dream

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis

It seems like all anything ever talks about is dreams. Not sleeping dreams...the things-I-want-to-do-someday dreams. Like in Tangled, which I saw none too long ago and loved very much...and pretty much every kids’ movie ever made, and even a large number of regular movies. I guess it’s one of those things that are prevalent in movies simply because real actual people are so into them. Especially people my age (a 25 that is approaching far too rapidly for my tastes) and thereabouts--it’s because we’re young, and we have our lives ahead of us. And since we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we have a lot of opinions, we create dreams.

Some people call them ambitions, but it’s not quite the same thing. Usually you work toward ambitions; I consider dreams to be more of the sort that, at least for now, are not in your power to procure. At the age of 6, to be an astronaut is a the age of 26, entering space school (or wherever it is you go to become an astronaut), to be an astronaut is an ambition. A dream can be impossible (time traveling to medieval days), or it might be possible but not in your hands (meeting a favorite actor). The level of possibility is not really a factor, although it is terribly frustrating to have a very possible dream hang just out of your reach....

I have both sorts. In the first category, I dream of being a singer. Yes, I daydream about this often. Not because I want the fame or the money (although money can pay off loans and is therefore always good) but because I like singing and I wish I could do it all the time on big stages with good acoustics and accompaniment. But for a variety of reasons, that dream is not a possible one. I don’t mind very much. It’s just fun to think about. The second sort, the possible ones, really drive me crazy because I want them so very much and I am impatient not blessed with an inordinate degree of patience. Sometimes they make me sad, which is ridiculous because they’re such very good dreams. So, in an endeavor to brush off all that impatience and expose these dreams for how wonderful they actually are, I’ve decided to list them. This is supposed to be a happy-making blog, after all.

Time to Create

I have a bit of a complex where, if I’m not creating something, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything productive. It’s weird, I know, because there are actually times that I feel rather wasteful reading a book or watching a movie since there is no direct product, as there is with drawing, writing, or cooking. (This is the primary reason why I haven’t yet caught up with LOST.) I like to read these blogs by women who do awesome creative things all day, by lack of office jobs. I don’t think I’ll ever really be an office person--that’s where I am now, and I’m not complaining, it’s a great office job. But what I wouldn’t give to spend 100% of my time fixing up my very own house/apartment just the way I want it, cooking and baking amazing new foods, drawing, writing and promoting Three of Swords, learning to crochet/play guitar/garden, and doing some kind of art-related work remotely for money. Just the sheer time to do all those things would give me a lot of pleasure.

Having My Own Fridge House

That brings me to my next dream. The economy is still so nasty in terms of living expenses, especially in New York, one of the most overrated places to live. Where else can you get a stupid roach-infested, sour-smelling one-bedroom apartment above a bodega for upwards of $1,000/month just because Williamsburg is suddenly trendy? (I grew up thinking of Williamsburg as this unpleasant, smelly sort of place where my grandmother lived in the projects...suffice to say it’s colored my view a bit.) Since I am not rich nor do I fancy starving, I live at home. And I am really blessed to have a mother and siblings that are great to live with (I don’t fancy living alone or with strangers, either). But there’s one snag, and that is that it ain’t MY house. I can’t paint the rooms whatever color I want. I can’t decide what everyone’s having for dinner every day, and I can’t run things how I see fit because there are several other competent adults with just as much pull as I have. I even want my own dishes, and teapot, and drinking glasses, and furniture, that I decided should be there and I decide what to do with.

I am a control freak, I think? ...No! This blog is for happy thoughts only! Moving on!


This is a very big dream. In fact it’s a dweam within a dweam--like Inception but with a speech impediment, you know? (For someone who just claimed to feel guilty watching movies instead of making stuff, I reference them a lot. Fact is, I often ignore that guilty feeling.) Mawwaige--excuse me, marriage--is certainly something you can’t predict, since it involves love and I hear that’s a pretty tough one to nail down. Oh, and I’m not really talking about the wedding--although of course I have my considerations (honeymoon, music and food expense trumps my dress I’m only going to wear one day--Caramelldansen will definitely be played at the reception--no lilies anywhere to be found) but about the whole being married deal. I’ve seen lots of my friends starting out and it seems like something I’d be into. And yes, I’ve heard the bit about it’s work! Hard work! And tears! And doooom! and you know, I’ve had some pretty rough breaks...I think I can handle it, thanks. You don’t get through senior portfolio year at SVA and come out a wuss who can’t handle an institution that’s been around forever. What’s the real challenge is wondering when/if this show will get on the road!


I had to put an S at the end of that. I had to. It was just begging for that S. Naturally this comes after that last one...I’m a firm believer in order. Some of my same married friends are having babies! And I’d never experienced the baby-wanting before, though I was a rather accomplished babysitter and kids tend to like me. But like a year ago, I saw some baby things, and I thought, You know, if I had me one of those, I’d put them in this, and I’d teach them this and feed them that, and that other thing that no one wants their kids to eat? I’d let them eat it in moderation. And if they did that thing I just saw that kid do, I’d...well, mine wouldn’t do that, because by age 8 they really should be keeping their clothes on. And so on so forth. Fun stuff. Unfortunately I hear you cannot purchase children at Babies ‘R’ Us, so this remains in the realm of future possibilities.

Yes, my dreams are awfully domestic. That’s okay. So are fuzzy socks, pillows, and tea, and everyone likes those.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Vintage Tea - Vote for Design!

Hi everyone, I don't normally use this blog as a platform for promotions, but I've designed a t-shirt on that rather fits the theme: Vintage Tea, a design that combines 2 of my great loves--Earl Grey tea and past eras! The design is in the voting stage this week; if it receives enough votes by next Friday, Threadless will print the shirt, which means everyone can buy one and have one (including me)! So please go here to sign in, critique and vote: Vintage Tea

Thanks everyone!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Engagement Rings.

For diamonds do appear to be, Just like broken glass to me. ~ Panic! At the Disco, "Northern Downpour"

I can't say how it is I pick topics for this blog. I've been juggling several ideas for the past few months and none of them held me long enough to make a post, or just didn't fit the theme of this blog. For one--elephants. I still would like to do a post on them sometime...that is, elephants, and animals, especially the intelligent ones that some think are as smart as people. I wanted to talk about how the idea of intelligent animals does in no way threaten the Biblical view of man as dominant over creation, which both Christians and not tend to think is the case. Or another topic--abortion. This too I would still like to post on. But this is a blog about beauty, and abortion is ugly. Murder is ugly. So until I can find a way to talk against abortion and focus on its opposite (life), without getting impotently furious and mocking pro-abortioners with sarcasm and all-around nastiness, it'll have to wait.

But this topic just occurred to me today, and wanted to be written about. This is going to sound like another shallow Lipstick post, but hopefully I can express my deeper thoughts on the matter.

Engagement rings. I don't have one of these, because I'm still waiting for someone to help me with that. But I know a lot of people who do. And that's cool too, because I actually really like looking at the things. Why? Am I Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!--diamonds are a girl's best friend? Not likely. My sentiments toward diamonds lean from the vaguely apathetic (they look JUST like cubic zirconias! Admit it!) to the scientific (nothing can cut a diamond but another diamond. So I assume the gems are shaped with diamond gem cutters, right? Well, what cut the gem cutter? My question is, what cut the first diamond?? Huh? I'm going to go the Children's Catechism route and say GOD). No. I just have a weird habit of looking at people's left hand to see if they're married, and I like to see engagement rings best because they're usually more glitzy. And to me, a ring is never just a ring. It has a story.

A frumpy old woman has an engagement ring over her wedding ring, and I start to try to imagine her younger, and someone was so in love with her that he spent some of the money he'd been saving up ever since he finally got a good job, just to buy her that diamond. A beautiful young woman with a body like a model's, sitting next to me with her nice hips and her nicely pedicured feet in sandals, is using her iPhone with a left hand adorned with a very, very large diamond sitting atop her wedding band. Some guy out there once walked into a jewelry shop, still hardly able to believe that a girl that hot was in love with him, and got the biggest gem he could find because she was more than worth it. Okay, so I make up these stories. And yes, I am a romantic. Cynically, I suppose, these stories could be complete fabrications, and the old lady was pressure by her family into a marriage with a cheating drinker. The young woman could be a vain monster who cajoled her boyfriend into putting himself in debt for that massive ring. But both those situations abuse the entire purpose of an engagement ring, which is a pledge. Everyone forgets that, even the cynics.

When I was younger, I read a newspaper article about women buying their own diamond rings. The gist was, if you don't have/want a fiancé, that doesn't mean you can't have a ring! They spoke of many celebrity women who sport diamond rings, and one normal woman in particular who bought herself a diamond solitaire. "I haven't found the right guy yet, and I'm almost 30!" she explained. "I was tired of waiting for a man to buy me one, so I got one myself!" What is sad about this? Not the fact that she can't find anything more useful to blow $1,000 on (like school loans for ME), nor the fact that she is having a hard time finding a husband. It's the fact that one of her biggest reasons for wanting an engagement is so she can have a diamond. Seriously?? I don't want a diamond ring on my left hand without a fiancé, it's fake and silly and belittles the meaning of an engagement ring. Engagement rings are not about the diamond.

I have always felt a gift diamond shines so much better than one you buy for yourself. ~ Mae West

Another thing they're not about? Property. As any feminist--or, better yet, a quick stroll through DoubleX blog--will tell you, men buy women engagement rings because they are purporting some antiquated combination of Bad Oppressive Things. That is, they want to give you a ring because (1) they want to show they can pay for everything so you don't have to work and fulfill dreams and so you can stay home and be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, making sandwiches and nursing his 13 (preferably male) brats; and (2) they want other men to see it and be like, "Oh, man, look, it's Ted's Woman. I can't have that one now, notwithstanding any of her wishes in the matter--she is Ted's Woman, just like that labrador with the collar is Ted's Dog. Man, too bad, I like that Woman and wish to objectify her as a sex object. I must now go find another Woman Thing for myself, and brand her with a bad, oppressive $1,000 ring that she likes the design of and will show off to her Woman Friends." Then he will shuffle off on his knuckles, grunting. Yeah, because if I wanted to show someone how much I loved to step on their neck, the FIRST thing I'd do would be to spend inordinate amounts of money on them. Right. Now, some men are gross pigs who want to own women, but the idea of the engagement ring is not that.

It's a pledge. We don't talk too much about pledges nowadays, but that's what this is. The ring is a symbol of the woman's promise that yes, she'll marry him. I read recently about "man-gagement rings" they put it, "more and more women" are doing the proposing nowadays (wha...?) and are giving their men rings. (Yeah, I don't know anyone who's done this either.) Because they see rings as a dog-collar that tells who's whose, and want their men to be branded and off the market. But that's not the meaning of an engagement ring. In ancient Greece, a piece of jewelry was given to the betrothed woman to indicate that her soon-to-be-husband planned to "adorn" her with his love and protection. In the Victorian era, the engagement ring was often the first wearable gift that the woman could accept from her beau, as clothing and jewelry were seen as permanent gifts that could only be accepted in a permanent relationship, which courtship was not. The betrothal period was therefore almost as serious as the ensuing marriage, and could not be broken off without considerable embarrassment. Etiquette of the time also required a ring be returned upon the breaking of an engagement, since the ring is not a "gift" in the ordinary sense but rather a symbol of the promise made; if the two decide not to marry, no matter whose fault it is, the girl gives it back. It means nothing once the pledge no longer exists.

It's not just a diamond. It's not just an identification tag. It's not just a piece of jewelry. And that's why to me, the sparkle of a diamond on a finger seems so much more than just a ring. It's a beautiful meaning, an entire story--if not of the individual, then of the rich history of betrothal gifts. I was standing on the subway platform and thinking about engagement rings, and I looked at my left hand and tried to picture how one would look. It's hard, because I can't seem to separate the sight of a diamond ring from the story of its bestowal. I don't know how it should look or what size it should be or anything, because I don't yet know my story, and an engagement ring is a symbol of that.

Or maybe I just see everything as a story. Is that bad? I think not.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Whenever a female takes a strong stand for herself, the majority of the time they have to really, really narrow it down to being feminine and wearing dresses and just being lipstick chic. - Michelle Rodriguez

I'm not really 100% sure what Michelle meant when she said this. You know Michelle Rodriguez, right? She's the Puerto Rican actress who is always playing a really tough girl (usually a cop or a soldier) with a gigantic chip on her shoulder. You usually really want her character to die, and she usually does (Ana Lucia in LOST, zombie fodder in Resident Evil). So considering I've never seen her in lipstick or a dress, I think she may have meant this sarcastically. Well, I take it quite literally. If I could choose one thing that I find can make a woman seem more empowered, it is lip color.

This sounds crazy. But lipstick, and lipgloss and lip balm and whatever else we may use, is actually very important to most women. I say this because I find it to be so for myse
lf, and though I'm aware of just how trivial lipstick actually is, that doesn't change the fact that we take it dead serious. I'm not going to attempt to prove this scientifically, nor to philosophize on why exactly I think this might be true. Since this post, like my post on tea, is simply a topic that makes me happy, I'm going to just talk about it.

By far the most iconic and often-used of the breed. I always love it when feminists oppose lipstick on the basis of it being, supposedly, some sort of gooey red shackle men use to keep us down. Yeah, whatever. In ancient Egypt, men wore more makeup than your grandmother, so that doesn't really fly. No man ordered six-year-old girls to smear their faces with the stuff for dress-up or pioneer teens to bite their lips red. (I need to work on keeping my tone light and fluffy. I alwa
ys start sounding really angry.) Apparently, during the Great Depression, when sales of many luxury items were dropping as people tried to be frugal with their money, the sales of one particular product began to rise. That product was bright red lipstick. It seems that during those difficult times, women were allowing themselves the one small luxury that they found lifted their spirits.

I've often Facebooked about my Rosie the Riveter afternoons. In the process of doing much back-breaking sweaty housework, I require three things only: Elvis music
, my big clunky harness boots, and red lipstick. There's something about the stuff, the way it stands out on your face and makes you look like an old-timey actress. Also, even if your hair looks terrible, somehow red lipstick pulls it all together, even when you've got Clorox bleach dripping from the ceiling onto your face like in a horror movie. My pick: N.Y.C. Ultra Moist LipWear lipstick in Retro Red. One dollar, yes, one dollar. Duane Reade and CVS carry them.

A fairly new addition to the lipcolor world. I mean I don't th
ink they really had the stuff when it was most fashionable to wear a matte (non-shiny) lipcolor. These are neat because even girls who don't like the feel/look of lipstick (and I can see where you're coming from) can like this stuff. So many different kinds! So many different colors! I have perfectly clear ones, and dark dark opaque red ones. You can get them in a squeeze-tube, a wand, or a little pot that you can scoop out with your finger. Because of the variety, I have several faves.

C.O. Bigelow.
Lipgloss aficianados swear by C.O. Bigelow. Their glosses are made with at least 2% real peppermint oil, with the result that putting them on feels like swiping your lips with a wintry blast of minty goodness. In fact I'm going to put some on right now. Mmmm. They come in squeeze tubes, and are mostly sheer. I have in my possession Plum Mint, which has a hint of russe
t color, and Ultra Mentha, which is super-minty and clear. Also, around Christmas time they come out with special flavors, like my Ginger Mint that has ginger flavor and gold sparkles. My sister has Chocolate Sundae, and my friend Mrs. Byrd loves Cinnamon. You can find them at Bath & Body Works.

You can also find there Liplicious lipglosses, which smell so good you might want to eat them. Seriously. One of my sisters has a Blackberry-something flavor, and it smells like a popsicle. I bought Maple Sugar once, which smells like pancakes and is the nicest shimmery pinkish-gold. It ran out, and they stopped making them. BUT I found them on eBay for cheap and bought two, so I will have them forever! And yes, it is just like putting maple syrup on your lips. Except you won't attract bees.

And Mrs. Byrd bought me for is so wonderful I have to show you:

Yes. Lipgloss pocketwatch. Mine is red! So beautiful.

Lip balm.
C'mon, even you ladies who hate makeup have to admit that lip balm makes your lips feel nice and smooth and happy. I actually sleep with lip balm on--and no, I am not a crazy who must look made-up all the time (although hey. If Indiana Jones comes crashing through my window asking for my help, or if an owl arrives with a letter from Hogwarts requesting my immediate presence, or if Wolverine barges in and demands I come with him to Professor X's school, or Sam and Dean break in--well, er, if any of those things happened I would be prepared). Lip balm at night helps your lips not be cracked and chappy and peely all day, which looks bad no matter what sort of lipcolor you slather on top.

Good ol' Cherry Chapstick. This stuff smells so good (but be forewarned--it doesn't taste that good. Take my word on this. Like birthday candles, yuck...take my word on those, also). I also love Lip Smackers...yeah, they're for kids, but they have Dr. Pepper and watermelon and all sorts of other delish flavors. Just don't get the sparkly ones, the glitter gets all stuck on your skin and all over your pillows and makes chapped lips worse. Ick.

Is this post too weird? I don't know, lipgloss makes me happy. Whenever I get sad about things, I think about Earl Grey tea and fluffy socks and pillows and Three of Swords and lipgloss. (You can do all those things at once, which is wonderful.) In fact I'm at work now but I wish I was home, sitting on the sofa, drinking tea and holding a pillow, while my sister writes something fun for me to read and I draw a magnificent picture. Quite possibly later, excepting the magnificent picture, of course. It's hard to draw on top of a pillow.

Oh, and time to cross-pollinate some bloggage--Sabe mentioned 3ofSwords in her daily blog, One Thousand Mad Things Before Breakfast. I love her blog, guys. It's fun to read and has introduced me to wonderful stuff like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Take a look.

Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not color, but to accept God's final word on where your lips end.
- Jerry Seinfeld

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Realm of Women

"When men reach their sixties and retire, they go to pieces. Women go right on cooking." ~ Gail Sheehy

I want to reach one kind of Christian with this post. This is the person who misunderstands woman's "role" in the world--that is, the tasks for which God has granted her the capability and perfect capacity for. Because everyone misunderstands it, you know. The over-compensating "career woman" who gets unreasonably angry that
someone might even suggest there are things women are better fitted for than men (i.e., childbirth). The ignorant teenage boy who boasts to his friends that he wants a "submissive wife" when his every action toward girls repulses and offends them. The people who say women shouldn't work, the people who say women shouldn't stay home. The women that agonize over that uncomfortable submission verse, as if it should make anyone uncomfortable. The men who love that submission verse and forget that the "love your wife" verse is far graver and should transfix any man with humility. Anyone, male or female, who tries to make women feel better about their role by telling them, "It's all right. Men are dogs, you are far smarter. Don't feel bad that they run everything."

I hesitate to even say anything, because there is so much, but the theme of this blog keeps it together. I am to write about beauty and loveliness. I want to talk only about what is beautiful and lovely in the God-ordained "role" of women, and hopefully the flip side of that will instruct as well. (For the curious, I put "role" in quotes because there are many roles for women, just as there are many roles for men--they are only different in capacity, not in number.)

I love vintage things. I saw a girl on the train reading a magazine for women that I would like to buy for myself. It did not feature a bikini-clad Scarlett Johanssen on the cover (who are those covers for? Lesbians? Definitely not for the straight older women who are their main demographic). Nor did it feature 300 billion sex tips (come on. There can't be that many) or ways to stretch your face back so men will still like you. I think it was about clothes and music and crafts and things. Anyway there was an article about vintage magazines from the 50's, including one called "Home Improvement for Girls". It was accompanied by a cute picture of a 50's girl in red lipstick and a skirt sitting on the floor and building a piece of furniture. I thought that was adorable. I mean a girl should know how to fix and build stuff...even if you're a stay-at-home mom, if the baby's highchair breaks, you don't want the kid to starve until Daddy gets home. And single women need to do that stuff all the time. It just really stuck in my head that people always assume that being home-oriented means that ALL you do is cook foods and clean floors, when any homemaker knows that managing a household is a monumental and often varied full-time job.

In the Victorian era, a very wealthy woman was not expected to do much of anything at all. If she had servants to clean and cook and plan meals and shop and nurse her baby, she did nothing at all. As a result a lot of women became depressed, ill, and often insane and suicidal. ("The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman is a good example of this, when a woman is deprived of her God-given task of running her home.) This is not the Biblical idea of woman's role. My favorite expulsion of this is Proverbs 31, which everyone knows but not everyone really grasps, I think. I am so thankful God put this work in the Bible, because it is so beautiful and so full of meaning, for married and single women.

A wife of noble character who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.

She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Upon reading it myself I am overwhelmed with the sheer amount of wisdom contained in this small passage. I don't think it's possible to over-rate the profound knowledge it contains for women themselves and the men who live in this world with us. (I am sort of envisioning a nice several-week study on this passage that I would like to do, theoretically, because I think more women need to understand what they are here to do and this passage states it so clearly. Any interest from those in the Brooklyn area? Just a thought) Read it. Read it again. This woman is not a CEO. I don't see the word "power" in here at all (though we can debate till the cows come home about woman's flirt-power and how she can reel men in, so on so forth, which I don't totally subscribe to but I digress). That is not what this is about. Nor do I see anything about sitting around gossiping and watching What Not to Wear (although I do like that show). This is a busy lady, not a busybody. She is not locked in her house, unaware of whether a bomb is currently settling on her city. The Proverbs 31 woman has a car--a decent, working, versatile car, if not a minivan--and she is smart and capable and talented. She is also compassionate and unselfish and responsible. She is frugal but generous, serious but joyful, thoughtful but not anxious. She is a true Woman.

You know the bit about being a helper to Man? A lot of single women might come to better terms with that part by thinking of "Man" in terms of mankind. There is nothing worse than a woman who is self-centered and unhelpful simply because she tells herself she has no husband to be a helpmeet unto. Sorry to say, when you do find a husband, those old selfish habits are not going to just disappear. A selfish single woman will make a selfish wife. Just because you are not married does not mean you cannot extend your hands to the poor. Just because you are alone does not mean you cannot bring good, not harm, to others all the days of your life.

I think the gist of it is that women are here to make this world easier, not just for men, but for ourselves and each other as well. If you are a homemaker, which is an amazing calling and very fulfilling for many women, you are there to make living easier for your family. Everyone knows that a messy, ugly, undecorated house is depressing and can ruin your whole outlook. (Why do you suppose organization experts and interior decorators make so much money, or why Extreme Home Makeover is so popular and mesmerizing?) Homemakers are experts in that, and you can always tell an unhappy woman, married or single, by the state of her home. What about single, working women? God has given you your calling for the moment, and you are to excel at it. But never let that get in the way of your calling to be a helpmeet to mankind. Psalm 68:6 says that "God sets the lonely in families". If you are single, set yourself in a family. Your church family, if you cannot have your blood family with you. Get to know the older people and the children, not just the cute guys or fun girls in your singles group. Surround yourself with human souls that you can love and who will love you and embrace you, and do good to them, and you will be fulfilling woman's role. It is by no means only married women who can fulfill the ultimate goal of woman, which is not solely motherhood. I believe it is utilizing your special ability to get close to people and immerse yourself in their love and esteem. However, if you are a mother, than you know what your first priority is. You don't need me to tell you that it is your children. Nancy Wilson in the book The Fruit of Her Hands relates that she was once washing dishes and began to worry about glorifying God. Doesn't God want me to witness to someone? Lead a Bible study? Start a prayer group?? She then realized exactly what God's holy will was: He wanted her to wash the dishes. We make a grave mistake when we assume that menial tasks do not glorify God. Not all of us should presume to be teachers, we are told. Some of us will be copy editors, dancers, waitresses...and still others may feel like little else besides diaper-changers, but God finds that work holy when it is done to His glory.

*I feel as though one more group needs mentioning, especially since I am of this group--young single women still living at home. You are in a family, and it is hard to be a woman in a home dominated by another woman. Your mother's decisions will dictate how it looks and functions, and this can be hard. But it is doable. Sometimes it may require adjusting your instincts to respect your mother's wishes, even if you disagree and think you can do it better. You're not meant to be in that position forever, but until you move out and/or get married, it can be tricky. Realize that it is uncomfortable for a reason, and a season. While you are there, continue being a helpmeet to your family, and learn all you can about how families work. Whether you marry or not, what your family teaches you about people will be a boon to your whole life.*

I am by no means trying to preach...because I know women Biblically can't be preachers. ;) Which is why I'm talking to women mainly. But I hope some men read this too. I think it would help them understand those woman-things that they share the earth, and sometimes a dining-room table, with.

That's my girl Rosie. She is telling you that not only can women do everything God wants us to do, but also that we can do it in killer red lipstick. Plus, have you ever scrubbed mildew off a bathroom ceiling? Gives you great biceps just like Rosie's. Trust me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." ~Albert Camus

When one is a child, grown-ups often like to pepper one with ridiculous inane questions that are a lot harder to answer than it may appear. "What is your favorite food?" Well, quite honestly, I prefer ice cream to food, but you won't like that, so...whatever Mommy makes. "What is your favorite color?" I'm a child. It changes every day, and today it is black, but you're not going to like that either,

"What's your favorite season?" That one is easier. There's only 4 options, and each one has its beauties, so you won't be penalized for anything. Well, I hate bitter cold and sweltering heat, and living on the East Coast gives you a proper lashing of each over the course of the year. So I tended to waver between spring and fall, being that they're essentially the same in temperature.

Well, I've made up my mind. Fall is unquestionably my favorite season. I told Brittany recently that I realized I associate fall with change. Maybe this is because it's toward the close of the year, and there's a tendency (for me, at least) to go over in my mind everything that's happened in the past year and think, oh, that has definitely got to go! Things are going to change soon, it certainly feels like it! But in actuality, things seem to change for me in the summer, uncomfortable, itchy change, right in the middle of uncomfortable, itchy summer. (During the winter things just sort of, well...hibernate.) Still, my fairly inaccurate and unfailingly deceptive sixth sense tells me fall is change-time. Very well.

My other reasons for liking fall are varied. I like pumpkins. I used to go pumpkin-picking every year with my family as a child. We never did anything with them, not even jack-o-lanterns. We just had them. I actually like the purity of an un-maimed pumpkin...and there were sometimes trips that included hay-rides and petting zoos and losing the baby brother at the checkout line and said baby brother having a potty accident in the cornfields. (This is true, we have pictures.) And the leaves, the leaves, the leaves!

The leaves are fire. The earth just blazes when summer is over.

Alas, I live in New York. I haven't seen any trees really do this yet...I saw several going half-heartedly sallow from the window of the F train. I am planning a trip to New Jersey, wherein I hope to see some trees.

I saw Pride & Prejudice recently (the new one...I'm sorry, I love the old one too, but this one probes my soul) and was just taken aback by the landscape. The English countryside, which I have never seen in real life, just has something that matches something in me. I'm pretty sure my own personal corner of Heaven is going to look like the English countryside. All my best daydreams take place there and when I picture being in love, I picture me and "Bill"-the-Future-Husband hanging around there. Pretty neat.

Back to fall...I forgot to mention the other things that I love about it. Thanksgiving-type food. Pies. Visiting people who have lovely houses and everyone is friendly. Just cold enough out that you need to wear a sweater, but not freezing. That fireplace smell, which just smothers you in youth and the hope of love and strains of acoustic guitar and a tinge of a bitter disappointment that will come later when it's all over and nothing is left but the smell on your clothes. (I can't tell you how many bonfires I've sat by and thought about nothing but wishing for a boy to like me. Even when you stop liking those boys, or when you're too old to let your imagination have its way, the sweet, hopeful part clings to you. That's why the smell of a campfire or fireplace makes me really, really happy and a little sad.)

Cold, cold air rushing through your hair that you've left down because summer's gone and it won't get frizzy, and anyway being outdoors in nature makes you feel so beautiful that it doesn't matter if your hair is a wreck.

Waking up on Thanksgiving morning and your mom has been up since 7 putting the turkey in the oven, the whole house smells like turkey and coffee and you can eat cereal while smelling the aroma of turkey-seasoning and it doesn't bother you one bit, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is on TV but the reception is bad, the screen fizzes and jumps and your mom is wondering when they will show excerpts from Broadway shows. The Christmas commercials have begun, and lovely Santa Clauses are in them.

Your fingers are cold but it's too soon for gloves...right? You put them in your pockets, and your little sister also puts her fingers in your pockets. Her fingers are so freaking cold.

The littlest sister is wearing a strange pink fleecey hat. Nothing she is wearing matches.

Pumpkin pie batter always runneth over when you carry the pans from the table to the oven. It looks (and smells) like baby food.

"What do you want for Christmas?" The aunt that gave the best presents starts calling in October. Your list changes dramatically over the years. Remember the Star Castle? And then you had to list which Enya CDs you had so that she could get you the one you didn't.

Being inside your warm, cozy house. Fluffy, fluffy socks. I wish I had millions of them.

I could go on like this until winter.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Praying Oh So Badly

"Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!"
~Psalm 66:5

Part of my intent in starting this blog was to force myself to look at silver linings, the half-full glass, and all. In light of that goal, I avoid writing in it unless I can actually feel like talking about something...well, good. This will in part explain why I haven't updated in over a month ('in part' meaning I also had tons of stuff to do). Sometimes it's hard to see past the looming monsters of student loan debt, family problems, the economic crisis...not enjoying the single life....

However, one must keep her head up. Last night after a very good Sunday wherein I spent time with friends, ate delicious barbecue food, etc., there was also a lot of saying goodbye to people, and I am still at a loss as to why it was made to seem as though my closest friend was moving to the outer regions of Andromeda 9, some 3 billion light-years past our solar system. She is moving to New Jersey, for crying out loud. I will still see her plenty, thank you very much! But since everyone was rubbing it in, I was all: I AM ALONE IN THIS WORLD.

My sister Brittany wasn't there, which probably had a lot to do with it.

Anyway, there are terms for the way I was feeling at about...oh, 1:30 a.m. Old-timey people called it melancholy, or maybe blue? I don't really like 'blue'. Nowadays some call it 'emo'. Nobody was on Facebook. Nobody was on DeviantART. My drawing was suddenly boring and pointless. I couldn't look at anything or read anything. Sallie Mae informed me via email that I was thisclose to defaulting on my loan, whatever that means (and it can't be something good). That loan, the one that eats up entire paychecks. Whatever! I was so annoyed and alone and kept rotating my neck and mussing my hair (I didn't have any sackcloth and ashes handy).

Well, God, I thought, I am so forlorn, and things are so BAD! Oh, woe is me. You would probably tell me that hey, some people have it worse! Someone always has it worse--you could be sick, or someone could die, or you could have no job at all, or no friends, or--Well, I don't care--I have it pretty bad. And hey, You're God! Your job is to comfort me. So I will read my Bible (extra Christian points for doing it out of my normal routine, AND at night...almost as good as sackcloth!) and You will have some words to tell me yes, it is bad, but everything will be okay and I am a good girl and people love me.

I've done this in the past--felt strongly about something, and opened up to the book of Psalms and read whatever one I saw first. It seems a bit superstitious, but the one I choose is always PERFECT for the situation. However, doing so in such a spirit of whiny me-first presumption, God often has some surprises waiting when we come wailing to His throne. I fully expected to come upon a Psalm like, oh...maybe 46. The sort that basically tells you "God will kick all the bad guys dead. And He'll place YOU on top!" There is a time and attitude for that sort, but mine was not it. I would have crowed in triumph, Yes, God! ME! I'm the worst off! (I deserve it!)--I don't think I'd have said what's in those parentheses, but that was my attitude.

I opened to this:

Psalm 66

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

Sing the glory of his name;

make his praise glorious!

Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name."

Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!

He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.

He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Praise our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;

he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.

For you, O God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.

You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.

You let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.

I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you-

vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.

I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.

Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.

I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.

If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;

but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.

Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

....I almost thought I'd found the 'wrong' Psalm. I wanted to hear about me, me, oh, and quite possibly me, but when I looked at the psalm, God was saying LOOK AT ME! Not at you, not at your problems or at your desires, but at ME! He was saying in this psalm that it is HIS glory that matters, the things He has done that are mighty. The psalm begins with praise to the Lord, telling you to forget ALL that comes before His glory and scream about it, shout that HE IS GOD.

And when it is done saying that, it tells you that God watches all, rules all, and forgets no one. This means that He deals with us in ways we don't always like, He lays "burdens" on us, and lets "men ride over our heads." That last part is so picturesque to me. People stepping, riding horses on your HEAD. How much lower could a person feel? But He does it to REFINE us. He leads us through "fire and water" to bring us to His abundance. And it ends, it ends saying that God HEARS us. He hears us and listens and "does not reject" our prayers! Even if we are praying out of heart filled with discontentment and wounded feelings, He knows which parts of it we really mean, and can sift out of our awful badly-put-together prayers which things are the true pure desires and sorrows. He does not withhold love because of our clumsy, whining way of asking.

It said every single thing I could have wanted to hear. And all at once I realized what I
should have been praying for all along. I should have told God, Lord, I do not have money for such-and-so. Please provide it because I have no way. Please protect my credit from the loan service. Don't let me be treated unfairly. Take away my envy and my discontent, and my anxiety, my crippling anxiety that burdens my health and destroys the gentleness of my spirit, that makes me hard and rough on the inside, and old before my time in my heart. Replace it with peace, and trust, and joy. Thank you for my blessings. Please add more if it is your will. But let me be content anyway.

I think Psalm 66 is now one of my favorites. Along with 2, 46, and 100. It says everything, everything. It's perfect.

I still highly recommend the randomly-opening-to-Psalms method. Sometimes it feels like your heart is just going to overflow with things and you just need to get your head clear.

I apologize for the blatant this is how I really am--a bratty jerk but I think maybe others could relate...?...I hope?...anybody...? Don't all speak up at once now...heh....*sweat sweat*