Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Because everyone likes pictures more than words.

 Casey gave Taylor a big smooch...

and he wiped it off. If he only knew that girls are always going to cry if they kiss you and you wipe it off, no matter how old they are.
(After this, Taylor frantically sang "circle circle dot dot, now I have my cootie shot." over and over until, I guess, he was assured that he didn't have any cooties.)

A photoshoot ensues...

So, not that many Christmas pictures, huh? No one took any. But we got great footage to blackmail Taylor with when he is older.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Merry little Christmas, a trip to the beach, and a case of the cooties.

Merry Christmas to you! I know things have been super heavy (i.e. semi-truck weights, I know) and somewhat depressing around here recently, and really, I don't want you all to think my family is anything besides loving and wonderful and only slightly insane. So, I will let you in on my Christmas vacay.

Christmas itself- and the days leading up to it- were honestly quite superb. There was some stress when my dad put me in charge of part of his Christmas shopping (read: all of his Christmas shopping), and when, on account of he waited until the week of Christmas (yep.), I couldn't find some of the things requested by some of the people on his list (read: any of this things requested by any of the people on his list), and because I didn't want my family to suffer experience some of the horrible interesting gifts he sometimes selects (once, everyone in the family- I mean everyone- got one of those plastic animated aquariums that shows a rolling montage of the same fish when you plug it in), I scoured every store in central Alabama and came out alright. At least, I wore one smug smile when everyone ripped open the gifts and shrieked with genuine pleasure, instead of immediately trying to hide their true feelings about said "aquariums." But other than those action-packed three days with more shopping than any one only-sort-of-into-it shopper like myself can endure, things went smoothly.

We went to my dad's for Christmas Eve, and although Dad and I had to trek through Prattville (in the rain, no less) for the perfect charcoal grill so that the hamburgers would be Christmas-Eve-appropriate and that we had to go buy all of the meat/toppings/sides for said hamburgers (I know what you're thinking and I agree: Dad's New Year's Resolution should be preparing ahead of time, aye?), everything came together and worked out just fine. And plus, there were all those genuine smiles to light up the afternoon. Later, we went to the Christmas Eve service at church, where I got to watch one leopard-clad shepherd journey across the sanctuary to pay a visit to baby Jesus.

On Christmas morning, we slept until 8 o'clock (!). I don't know about you guys, but when I was a youngun, I seldom made it past, I don't know, 4:37 a.m., and I then sneaked into my big sister's bedroom and pestered her until she begged Mom and Dad to let me come down between the five and six o'clock hours. Anyway, Hailee woke up first and got me up, and we went in to wake up Taylor, who honestly wasn't all that pumped about deserting dreamland for Santa Claus, but he sure perked up after he saw the living room. It was a really lovely Christmas, and I can say that I honestly can't think of a single thing that I wanted and didn't get.

Moving right along (we're hurtling through this break!), to the day after Christmas, which is, folks, when the true fun began. Baby Jesus? A tree overflowing with nifty striped packages that have your name stickered to them? So many haystacks that your stomach starts to sound like Mr. Ed? Nope. Doesn't even compare to a family vacation. (Ahem, just kidding about the Baby Jesus part.) We headed out at 7 o'clock on Saturday morning.

Oh wait, you don't believe me? That's because it's not true. Chris, Lori, Hailee, and Taylor did indeed pull out of the driveway at an ungodly-for-the-day-after-Christmas hour, but not I. Oh no, people. I was riding with my sister, Laine. And who else should be riding with her besides a brand-new teenager, a toddler, and a dog? I'm guessing all of you are feeling jealous right about now and wishing you'd signed up for such a tantalizing trip. After several (and I mean several!) just-short-of-disaster kinks set us back three and a half (THREE AND A HALF.) hours behind schedule, we got on the road for a super duper eight-hour drive. Ah, Internet. Wish you could have been there, every single one of you. Really, though, it wasn't as bad as it sounds, if you don't count the brand-new teenager or the time we locked the keys in the trunk at the gas station or the time a book flew out the window.

When we arrived, we were met with more gifts and dinner and lots of welcoming faces. It was worth it. We hung out at a condo that seemed nice, but also offered us a few roaches new friends, and did things like watch Twilight for the 32nd time and put raw hamburgers on a grill that hasn't worked since 2002 (and then take raw hamburgers off said grill and instead "broil" them) and give cooties (Not me. I didn't give any cooties. I got some, though.)*

We came back today, after two days, and it really was some good quality family togetherness (you can't get more together than in a car. Unless, of course, you're not in a SUV, but are truly in a car.) The holiday proved to be low on stress and drama and high on happiness and excitement and haystacks, which is how I like it. I could've gone for some brownies at some point, but I didn't want to push my luck.

*I tried uploading pictures at this point to give you some cootie visuals, but, alas, Schnathan the computer wasn't going for it. I'll try again later if I find some patience lying around.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I had a whole post worked out in my head about how a baby changes everything (me? inspired by a song? get out!) And how I was feeling today, which you'll also find is rather commonplace on this blog of mine (me? talk about myself? get out!) Anyway, I took a bath because, well, my shower at school is so small I don't even want to know. It's really small. And I came back into my room and glanced into the closet. Everything has been moved around so much because not only did I move so much to school and into storage, I transferred rooms to give Taylor the big room. And so, I guess these things fell out of a box or a bag or something, but I found some miscellaneous items on the closet floor, and the memories stole my breath so quickly that I had to sit. They were photos, and photo-lover that I am, (if you didn't know that, let me go ahead and admit: I am a total picture junkie. They just don't show up too often here because I'm lazy and don't upload 'em.), I had to thumb through them, and I had to get teary-eyed remembering. Most of them were of a weekend that Callie and I spent at the beach with our youth group, but since we're best friends, most of them are of the two of us. We're in the middle of the ocean. We're posing on the deck. She's blowing a putt-putt ball into it's hole; I'm smiling next to a boy who's got his arm slung lazily around me as we pause from our baskets of fried shrimp. Taylor is three years old, gazing into the camera with a birthday crown on his head. The trip was a lot of fun, sure, but nothing extremely memorable. And that's just it; I didn't take inventory, I didn't stop and write down how it felt to be 15, and I'm scared because I can feel the time speeding by me so. I want to write all of it down so that I can remember how it feels to be 18, 19, 20. But I don't want to spend so much time remembering things that were and feeling anxious about remembering now in the future that I totally miss right this minute. I loved that trip; I loved that time. Would I go back? No way! I love right now, too! I'm a completely different person now, and I think that's cool. I've lived and I've learned and I've matured and then I've realized I don't got nothing figured out!  But, still...the memories!

Moving right along. This weekend my dad asked me to do some of his Christmas shopping which quickly turned into all of his Christmas shopping (less than a week before Christmas. I'll let that speak for itself.) When I had to order things because IT'S ONLY A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS AND EVERYBODY IS OUT OF EVERYTHING OR DIDN'T HAVE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE YOU WAITED UNTIL THE WEEK OF CHRISTMAS TO SHOP, DAD, he got kind of peeved and then I got super peeved. I mean, here I am, running all over God's green Earth to save his butt and make sure that everyone doesn't get animated fish aquariums from Belk as per 2007, and I order all my highly-demanding little sister's presents, and get them here by Christmas, and he is concerned about shipping, but insists she have things to open on Christmas morning. Newsflash, Dad: You have to plan ahead. Dad insists that things "work themselves out," and this attitude shows up whether he's buying Christmas presents on the 20th or heading to another DUI trial; what Dad doesn't realized is that people work things out for him, thus they appear to "work themselves out," but really, not much in this world just works out. Somebody has to pay for shipping, Dad, or else Emilee will be looking at pictures of her presents that are en route on the 25th. Anyhow, this is how I was really towards Dad, tonight; I was sick of shopping and wrapping and picking up his slack again. But this background explains why I went to his house in the first place: I had to pick up some more presents to wrap. Chris was making dinner, and I had a 20-minute time window to get there and get back. I let myself in, and the house was mostly dark and quiet, which is how it's been for awhile now. Dad was in his recliner, with a tv tray, complete with used plate and fork, to the side.,like that scene with Arthur in The Holiday. He had the saddest look on his face. It's name was loneliness, or maybe regret or hurt. I made small talk, and asked about his dinner- leftovers. He helped me get the presents to my car, and then he went out on a limb and asked me to stay. I looked at his face, at the hope in his eyes. Just for a minute. And then I turned.

"Chris is making dinner," I said. True.
"I'm supposed to be right back." Also true. He nodded like he understood, and I'm sure he did. But what I'm also sure of is that he went back inside and sat in his recliner, alone. He put his dishes in the dishwasher and turned the kitchen light out and went to bed, alone. I got in my car and instantly regretted leaving, and nearly turned the car around, except that I wanted to avoid the awkwardness that would come if I showed up again. Now I regret that. Dad's a pain in the butt most of the time. Dad's selfish a lot of the time. He deserves most of his loneliness and hurt and pain, and he has a lot to regret. He's pushed his family away and forgotten them when it mattered that he remember. He's chosen other things over us at nearly every opportunity. It's his own doing.

But what if I got what I deserved? What if all of us did? God did not call me to give people love when they deserved it, because I sure as heck do not deserve the love and forgiveness that I freely take everyday, that I live for and breathe and get by on. God didn't call me to let people wallow in their loneliness because, well, they did it to themselves. He called me to be the hope, to sit with the lonely and take away some of that pain. I can't change what I did tonight, but I can surely learn from it. I can use it to see how I'm lacking and to see how I can better mold myself into God's image. And I can pray for my dad, who's sleeping alone tonight.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

life's significant insignificant moments.

I read a whole book today. I can't remember the last time I had time to do that, or the last time I used the time I had to do that. It is absolutely awesome to get lost in a story until, at least for a few hours, it's hard to disconnect your thoughts from the characters'. Anyway, that's not at all the subject of this post. The character in the story (Between the Tides by Patti Callahan Henry) recognizes and investigates some of the moments that changed her life, most of them insignificant. It pushed me to think of my own life, and to do the same. I thought of major things, of course: my mom's death, moving in with Chris and Lori, changing schools, deciding on a college, moving to Tuscaloosa. But it took more effort to uncover those moments that seemed so trivial, that strung everything else together, that would have changed my life had they gone differently. Tiny minutes when I made a choice and I had no idea the impact it would have on the rest of my years, and I shudder to think about what might have happened had I not done some of the things I have. I'm sure it would have worked out; it would be a different life, sure, but one I'd love all the same. I don't want to think about it though, because I love this life so very much.

Some of the most significant insignificant moments in my life thus far (not necessarily in chronological order):

  • The first that comes to mind is deciding to join the yearbook staff my ninth grade year. I had no idea it would snowball into a near obsession and lead me to discover my life's passion and a career path; I was doing it simply because I thought it would be cool to have a class with Callie, and I thought it would be an easy class. It turned out to be one of the most challenging things I've ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. I miss it tendlessly, but I know that Alabama's yearbook, a magazine-type with a yearly output of about 300, wouldn't be the same, and why mess with something good? I can still feel the excitement of sitting down the write some copy, my fingers jumping with anticipation, or opening a new package of proofs, red pen in hand, scouring the page for errors that I'd trained my eyes to jump to. And what if I'd never put my name on the list? What if I'd never become best friends with Callie, or gotten so close to Mrs. Carmichael or the other teachers who frequented that library office? What if I was sitting here now blogging about how I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life because I had never felt the joy that comes when I arrange words into the perfect sentence? Ah. What if, my friends.
  • The second, then, walks hand in hand with the first, but is of an entirely different nature. It is Callie. How friendship wasn't all that much of a chance, and she doesn't remember. I thought she was so cool and awesome and I was literally in awe of her, which is why I struck up conversation with her. My first memory of us is her flipping over periodic table flashcards and I read them out from across the room in Mrs. Stinson's physical science class. What if I hadn't? What if I had chosen to be friends with Laine, who sat behind me, or Rachel, who sat to my left? (On the contrary, I would have never been friends with Rachel because she held some quite hateful feelings towards me for reasons that are still unknown to this day. But still.) What if, on that day, I'd studied my own list of periodic elements since we obviously had a quiz or test coming up, instead of turning to look at Callie studying hers? How different would my high school years have been without her? Would i have stayed friends with Ashley, who was headed down the wrong path, alongside our "best" friends Blake and Krystal? It's a question I don't want to know the answer to, because I'm afraid of what I'll find. 
  • Here's another one: One morning I was flipping through the music channels, trying to find one to listen to while I got ready for school, and I landed on a contemporary Christian one. I hadn't heard much of this style, as my church family, largely comprised of people with walkers, insisted on belting on the beautiful verses of "Victory in Jesus" Sunday after Sunday since I was, you know, five years old. But I absolutely loved it. It launched me into a relationship with the Lord that has blossomed and developed in the years since, and I can trace it back to that one morning when I heard Chris Tomlin or Third Day and realized that my love for lyrics and words and my love for the Lord could connect in a way that left me breathless. 
  • One more: Obviously, deciding to go to Alabama was a big decision in my life, but I still wonder, what I had found a way to go to Vanderbilt, or picked BSC, because they DID come calling? And of course, the day I moved to Tuscaloosa changed my life in more ways than I could ever list, even if I wanted to. I'm absolutely positive there are bookoodles of changes yet to be made, and impacts of this that I haven't yet discovered, but that I will look back and see, much in the way that I'm delineating these. And one might even argue that deciding to participate in Alabama Action was a rather large decision, although I'd counter with the fact that after I dismissed at first glance the first time, I decided in about 13 seconds to do it the second time (due to Lori's "Do it" stare and her words about possibly losing my scholarship. She scared me into action.) So the next moment is after all of this, when I was scared and shaken and vulnerable and homesick that first night. I decided, on a whim, to go to Mellow Mushroom. I decided, on a whim, to sit down at an empty table and I prayed that someone would sit down next to me. It wasn't fate or destiny, but it was God who placed around me the most wonderful people I was so scared I'd never meet. And had I given in to my nerves that night or decided I wasn't in the mood for pizza, things would probably be entirely different. And that thought makes me wince, because I am absolutely certain that I'm friends with the most incredible people I could have chosen on campus.
Life is full of decisions. Some of them are agonizing, and I'm sure I haven't experienced the half of them. So many seem inconsequential, tiny nuggets that don't mean much in the long run. But it turns out that those moments are what decide how our lives will be, and those on-the-spot decisions, when we follow our guts, sure that either outcome would suit us, write our stories.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"What would you think of me now? So lucky, so strong, so proud? I never said thank you for that."

It's a line from a song that got me thinking today on my drive home from Georgia. The whole song reminds me so much of my mother, especially that particular line. I get hung up on it all the time: how different I am from when she was here. It hurts so much to know that if my own mother saw me on a street or in a store, she probably wouldn't recognize me, and not because of anything dramatic. I've simply grown up. I'm not the little girl she knew. Being around other my friends and their mothers like I have been for the past few days always causes me to remember that my situation is so different, that my "mother" isn't my mother, and to dream up "what-ifs" as I'm lying there trying to conquer some sleepless night in an unfamiliar bed. So pardon me for approaching the subject again, for examining it closely and picking it apart, and for writing about it- I know it gets old.

But this song. It's really sort of spectacular, and it fell through my musical cracks, but I rediscovered it on a lost (now found!) cd while I was road tripping this week. I listened to it over and over, as I often do, meditating on the lines, and this one stood out. Of course it made me think of her- duh. But it wasn't just her- it made me think of my father, too, and for that matter, all of them. Each of my siblings has had his or her own share of obstacles, some brought on by themselves, some overcome, and some that are still around. Everyone but me- all of my issues either are or come from dealing with everyone else's issues. I'm not sure if it's the role I was born for, or I just saw this need when I was kid and rose up to fulfill it. I am the hope, the maverick, the  fighter. I am the one who defied the odds, who turned out right, who went to college instead of jail. It hasn't been easy; everyone else's problems have become mine as I struggle to prove them all right, because after all, I am the one who can and will be someone, and that's what they're holding out for. I know that it's my job to keep the peace and smooth the trouble away, all while giving them something to be proud of.

I'm sounding rather haughty, I know. But hear me out. This is the thing: this a real role in my family, and I got it, whether it was always meant to be mine or I was pushed into it by guilt and shame. But how did I learn? How did I know what to do, and what not to do? Who to trust, and who to run in the opposite direction from? What kind of person I should be instead of who was easiest to be?

I learned it from them. All of them.

I know I've said it so many times, but my mother was an outstanding person. I know I tend to look back through a lens that is tinted with longing and pain and "missing out," though, and she had problems. She succumbed far too easily, and hid it for far too long, and tried to be far too many things instead of admitting she couldn't. She stayed with my father when she probably shouldn't have and went on for years like everything was just fine when everything was all wrong. She should have found the strength to confess, to stop, and gotten everyone out of the whole situation, because that was her job, instead of the cooking and ironing and cleaning and carpooling that she took on. She lost herself in all of that, and I lost her, too, because of it. But there were so many good parts and good memories and maybe they outnumber the bad, or maybe I'm imagining, but it doesn't matter. But she taught me how to laugh and chatter and get along. And in her death, she taught me more than she could ever hope. Because I didn't succumb, and I didn't hide, and I did get out.

In the same breath, my father, in all of his selfishness, has taught me what it means to love. I've talked before about my father's  love for me, but I've realized that that's not for me to worry over. I wanted so much to form that ideal relationship with him, where he really is the parent and I really am the child, but it's never going to happen, and once I accepted that, I could get to forming a real relationship with him. And so, his mere presence in my life has taught me all about love and forgiveness. According to 1 Corinthians 13:5, love "keeps no record of wrongs." So then, I chose to love my father, forgetting all of the hurt he has thrown my way, or at least trying. I answer my phone when he calls and visit him when I come home and let him into my life. It's not easy or fast; in fact, it still carries a lot of tension and pain as I open those doors. Ignoring him was incredibly easy to do, but after awhile, I missed him. So, I'm doing my best, and I have to assume he's doing his, because that's what it means to love. Does he stills hurt me? Yeah. But that's okay. It's alright.

And all of them. All four of them- all my older siblings- had dreams, I suppose. They all forgot them or lost them or threw them away as they discovered things that made life seem easy: alcohol, prescription pills, cocaine, marijuana, theft, lies. Things that got them by for the moment and covered the pain for a little while, but all too soon, it resurfaced and they would need more and more and more of their chosen vices to stifle it again. Some of them have overcome, have beaten it, and my pride overflows when I think of it. Some of them haven't, but I have hope for them, that they can do it. Sometimes I just want to scream, "If I can do it, you can do it, because I have to do with all of YOU!" But that wouldn't help. now would it? I've tried to have relationships with them, but it adds toxicity to my life, and they use me, and that I won't stand for, because I am trying to become something here. But I love them all the same. They've taught me about perseverance and standing up again and that sometimes, you're just barely hanging on, and everyone is going to find themselves there. They taught me that you can let go and fall into the canyon, or you can pull yourself over the ledge, as hard as it may be, even if you might fall down again eventually. They've taught me to try. When i wasn't sure if I could do some of the things I've done, like move into acceptance over Mom, or forgive Dad and build a relationship with him, or even move away and enroll in a large university, I looked to the things they've done and said, "Okay. I can do it, too."

And so, I am me, and I decided to be this person, to say no to what nearly everyone else in my family has said yes to, but you should know that who I am is largely because of who they are and what they showed me. Their lives seem messed up to so many, examples of shame and wrongdoings, but I can see the beauty in struggle. They are wonderful, beautiful people, and I am so lucky and strong and proud because of them.

I quoted 1 Corinthians 13, the "love" chapter that every knows. But beyond the definition of love is another verse that delineates my life as I discover what being an adult is all about:

"11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

I'm learning to forgive. To love. And to learn.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I made it

through my first finals week, which proved to be very different from exam week in high school, where you are exempt if you don't miss more than three days. Finals are the real deal, folks, full of essays and entire days (and nights!) at the library, and studying, studying, studying. Did I mention the studying? And I only had two! I feel like the people who have more than that should be given free brownies every day, along with some coupons for free therapist appointments in January because surely they're losing their minds. But anyway, it wasn't so bad, on account of everyone is going through it together and we can complain and procrastinate and hole up in a study room and laugh like we don't have tests that could decide our permanent grades (and thus our transcripts, GPAs, careers, and THE REST OF OUR LIVES) in the coming days. But it was an experience!

And now I'm enjoying a beautiful calm, a period of lazy that I vaguely recall from the beginning of the semester. I have no class and nowhere to be and no alarms to wake me up. Saturday is the very last day I can be here, in my dorm, until 2010, and that makes me a little lot sad. I will miss my little stake on this earth, this place that's all mine, where I can go about my business just as I want to without asking anyone (this does not include doing anything that causes a ruckus, unless the ruckus is too tempting to avoid, and then I just have to deal with the consequences.) I will miss my freedom and independence and getting to sleep until twelve without my brother busting and saying, "What, do you think you're just gonna sleep all day?"

Well, yes. Yes, I thought I would.

I am looking forward to spending time with my family, though, and Christmas and our family vacation and Passion2010. Okay, I lied. Not the family vacation part. But definitely Christmas! I can't believe we're so close, and I haven't even been counting down the days like I have EVERY SINGLE YEAR SINCE I FIRST SAT IN SANTA'S LAP AND FELL IN LOVE. I guess that's what being a grown-up is all about. Sigh. Only 15 days! And by the time I get home, it will be much less! I hope you can feel my excitement out there because trust me, it's spilling over out of me, even at 2 a.m.

Oh boy, it's 2 a.m. That explains the rambling of the previous paragraphs. Sorry, dear Internet. Goodnight and happy dance with me- finals are over!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Semester one.

It's almost over, this first semester of mine. I feel like I need to write it all down, to look at it before me so I can see what I've done and who I've become, because it just doesn't feel surreal in this life, at least not yet. Part of me still feels like I'm at summer camp for an extended period of time and that any day now, I'll pack up and head home, but the other part of me can barely remember what it was like before this life. It's a fine line, a blurred line, a jagged line. It's all about growing up, I suppose.

First, I'd like to do it chronologically. I'm not one for this, but I think I'll start it at the end of every semester. At the end, I can look back and say, "Oh my goodness. I forgot all about that." Which is a beautiful gift. Anyway, here we go!

  • August: Quit work, moved to Tuscaloosa, participated in Alabama Action, met Janie Parker and Gracie Renfroe, started class, went home for the first time, came back, realized I loved it.

  • September: went to the lake for Labor Day, went to the first football game, went to the beach with Callie, got bogged down with homework, went to Doster Cafe every Tuesday and Thursday.

  • October: became good friends with Sarah, Ross, Justin, Jessica, Ginny, Will, Pete, Norm, and so on, went on a Fall Break extravaganza to Peachtree City/Atlanta/Helen/Monticello, won a jar of candy corn at the Halloween Festival, attended Prattmont's new building dedication, stayed bogged down with homework, went to Bryant every Tuesday and Thursday for lunch.

  • November: went home for Hailee's birthday, saw New Moon, went home for Thanksgiving for nine days, got sick of my family, came home for finals, stayed at Bryant for lunch, but then went to the library.

There are more things, though. Things that made this amazing and hard and incredible and worthwhile, and these are things that I want to remember; I want to find the right words to capture these moments so that when I'm 45, I can close my eyes and be here again. Because I don't ever, ever want to lose this.

I want to remember going to the dining halls and eating, and hating it, but loving it because it was "free" and because we'd push the chairs and tables together until we had a big party and we'd eat our crappy food together.

I want to remember how we gathered in various dorm rooms night after night to watch movies or play Catchphrase, and how I always wanted Justin on my team, but never, ever Will.

I want to remember dressing up after the homecoming game and dancing at a party, but getting kicked out and instead going to Ally's dorm and dancing for hours more- Pete taught me the pretzel.

And sitting on the quad for hours at a time, sometimes in the middle of the night, playing frisbee (Well, not me) and drinking cold hot chocolate (hm..) and listening to music.

Or going to Gorgas Library and drinking coffee and blogging, and smiling because I am so in love with this place.

I want to remember staying up until 4:30 a.m. when I had 8 o'clock classes because the conversation was so much deeper than I was used to and I couldn't bear to end it. I don't want to remember the day that I skipped class because of it or the day that I didn't and almost died from exhaustion.

And road trips with Janie...the majority of our friendship has been spent in a car!

I want to remember getting angry at my roommates for eating my food and cleaning the bathroom for the first time and dusting like Lori was always sure I wouldn't.

I want to remember the first time my family came back after moving me in, how I guided them around campus and proudly showed off my house, because, well, this is home now.

I want to remember the first time I was walking down the street and someone saying hey, and how I felt for sure that I belonged after all.

I want to remember how I felt included and loved right away, and how God reminded me time and again that this was the place for me, and that He had His hand in all of it. I want to remember the day that I was walking to the Ferg and I felt His presence so, so much that I literally lost my breath and had to sit on a bench to take it in. I don't want to lose any of it.

I realize that soon- probably next semester or next year- we'll have boyfriends and girlfriends and jobs, and we'll all move off campus. Eventually, those boyfriends and girlfriends will become our husbands and wives and we'll graduate and scatter, and e-mail each other every few months with new pictures of our kids or updates on our great job promotions, but for now, we can get together every night and watch a movie and eat frozen grapes and it has made me happier than I ever thought I could be. I don't want to forget it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1. I saw this on a blog and I really just want to prove I can do it.

2. I'm not sure if I can think of one hundred things about me. I guess we'll see.

3. I really, really love wildflowers...i.e., those not grown for the point of growing and selling.

4. I stop and pick them off the side of the road all the time, even if theyre weeds.

5. I could watch TLC all day long.

6. Sometimes I do.

7. My #1 pet peeve is ditching. If we make plans, I'm going to keep those plans- even if something better comes along. And I'm going to be really mad if you don't, and then I'm left plan-less.

8. My #2 pet peeve is when people just stop responding to your texts without letting you know they were ending the conversation.

9. I am a really bad sleeper.

10. I have issues sleeping away from home.

11. Even at Callie's house, and we've been best friends for four years. That's a lot of sleepovers.

12. I have a purple blankie named Blanka. It goes everywhere with me. Don't make fun.

13. I get heartburn all the time.

14. When I hear a new song, I listen to it over and over to learn the words.

15. I also look up the lyrics online when I hear it for the first time.

16. I steal lines from songs all the time and put them into real life...

17. and post them as my facebook status all the time, instead of what I'm really doing, like watching the OC, riding in a jeep, fighting with my best friend, or eating at chick fil a (which are all things ive done in the last 3 days, but you didn't know about any of them.)

18. I eat at chick fil a like 5 times a week.

19. I bet the u of a chick fil a will get the majority of my dining dollars.

20. My tv changes randomly.

21. I often wind up watching something dumb because I can't change the channel... I now know how to survive in the rain forest ("How to Survive in the Rain Forest") and,

23. once, it landed on porn.

24. I freaked out, and dived for the remote (which I had major problems finding),

25. and knocked my computer on the floor. My computer has a little chipped paint because of the ordeal.

26. It was traumatic experience.

27. I have eaten ice cream almost every day this summer.

28. I quit work in exactly one month.

29. I'm extremely ecstatic about number 28.

30. I like to name animals funny old people names, like Walter.

31. I named callie's freckles Eunice and Dorothy. I think they're adorable,

32. and I'm jealous of them.

33. I named everything.

34. My phone's name is Sadie.

35. When she acts up (which she often does), I curse at her.

36. I am a terrible cook.

37. I mess up easy things, like box macaroni and cheese (it's always soupy) and bronies (um...theyre always soupy, too.)

38. However, I can cook a delicious grilled cheese,

39. and scrambled eggs.

40. I love correct grammar.

41. My favorite punctuation mark is parenthesis (can you tell?)

42. My second favorite is the semicolon.

43. I guess I'm a dork because I actually have favorite punctuation marks.

44. But I also think I'll be a good journalist.

45. I bet most of you have stopped reading by now.

46. I could eat a whole pan of brownies.

47. well...I've never done it, but I really think I could.

48. I don't even really think ice cream is all that great.

49. The part of college that I'm most excited for is buying my own groceries. Well, not buying them, but getting to pick out what I buy.

50. I have skype.

51. I really love babies.

52. But once they hit 3, I don';t really like kids.

53. I like kids in my family though, and in my best friend's family.

54. That kind of it, though.

55. I'm considering going to get a cookie.

56. I eat at least one cookie everyday.

57. Man, this is taking longer than I thought.

58. I'm not a dog person.

59. Most people are horrified by that.

60. But I hate slobber.

62. Callie has a dog named JJ that is the best dog EVER. She doesnt slobber.

63. I have asked if I could take her to college with me.

64. But they said no.

65. I am a cat person.

66. I want to get a cat and hide it in my dorm room.

67. I also want to get a waffle maker.

68. I love waffles. They're my favorite breakfast food.

69. I am a creature of habit.

70. I am kind of scared that I may end up a crazy cat lady.

71. SO I probably won't get a cat.

72. From the ages of 2-4 years old, all I would eat was beanie weenies and fruit cocktail. Seriously. Everyday.

73. I still love both of those things.

74. If I have a little girl, I will name her Katon Lorraine, and call her Kate.

75. I don't have any boy names.

76. I love when boys touch the small of my back.

77. And when anyone asks me how my day went.

78. I'm pretty sensitive.

79. When I'm mad, I will give you the silent treatment all day long.

80. I like to lay out all night with boys.

81. I probably shouldn't have told you that last one. Don't take it the wrong way.

82. I want a black car.

83. I love the color black.

84. I also love white.

84. Most of my clothes are black, or white, or grey.

85. I stay up really late.

86. Usually talking to Jerry, who also stays up really late. (everyone else goes to sleep.)

87. He's the only person I talk to on skype.

88. I am rooming at Alabama with Beka.

89. It aggravates me when people call Alabama "Bama."

90. And I hate the phrase "bahaahaha."

91. I'm also not a fan of the word "totally," but I use it sometimes anyway.

92. While we're on that subject, I hate the word "armpit," too, and "tit." ugh!

93. I get paid tomorrow.

94. I'm pumped.

95. I'm almost done!

96. I have a planner.

98. I write everything down in it.

99. In fact, I have a doctor appointment on July 6th.

100. I bet nobody is still reading!

your turn!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I feel guilty because I don't ever post pictures. What, you want more than my scintillating writing? Fine. Fine.

there's the last four months, give or take a day or two :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I wrote this for a class, but I'd like to remember it..

Advice I Would Give to Freshmen
            I would like to tell you, an incoming freshman, several things that I wish someone had told me, although I would not have listened, and you probably won’t either. But still, I am clearly very seasoned and experienced, and you should listen to me. This is what I would like to say:
            First and foremost, that everyone is in the same position as you, and so stop thinking you’re special. When I came to the University, I so scared. Plain and simple- I was scared about everything, from doing my own laundry and missing my family to cleaning my toilet and not making any friends. These are things that everyone goes through, and if they tell you they don’t, they’re lying to you. Everyone is nervous and frightened and excited. Everyone gets homesick at least once or twice, and everyone feels at some point like they don’t belong- even if it’s only for a second. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. You have hundreds of other people who got plucked from their safe, warm comfort zones and thrown into this brand new world. Maybe some of them brought their best friends or already lived in Tuscaloosa; perhaps that made the transition easier, but they still dealt with same emotions. And even so, most people didn’t. Most people left their friends at home and are here alone. So, my advice would be to leave that stinking comfort zone behind. Jump into the water (warning: it is cold!) and introduce yourself. At first, it seems so silly, because you’re not used to doing it. But before long, it will become second nature for you to introduce yourself and jump into the conversation. Before you know it, you’ll have friends who, although they don’t really know what they are doing either, will help you figure it out. You’ll do it together.
            Secondly, find something to get involved in. That’s the most cliché advice out there, and I know that, and I rolled my eyes every single time someone told me that, but it’s true. I was forced to get involved through the Coca-Cola scholarship program, and it was one of the most beautiful gifts I received. I participated in Alabama Action, a service-minded week, and met some of my best friends (I promise!). Maybe you absolutely love Ultimate Frisbee or football- there are intramurals for you (I don’t see the draw of throwing a piece of circular plastic or a hard ball, but I’m sure it appeals to some people.) If that’s not you, look up some clubs or organizations. There is something, I promise, and if you can’t find something, join a club and feign interest. It will force you to meet people who have the interests, or at least someone who also has impressive faking skills.
            Thirdly, bring an umbrella. It rains, the buses are running late, and you walk to class. It rains a lot. Trust me. Bring an umbrella. (And not one of those puny dollar-store ones, either. You think it only happens in the movies, but there will come a monsoon one day, and it will take you and your umbrella by storm, literally. You want a strong one.)
            Lastly, decide who you want to be. Almost upon the moment you arrive, you will have to start making decisions. Some of them will be simple, no-brainers, and others will require some thought. Soon, you’ll be faced with moral dilemmas that never even touched you in high school. You may or may not have a supportive group of friends to help you make decisions and, and if you don’t, it will be harder, because you might be swayed by people who don’t have your best interests in mind. So decide what kind of standards you want to uphold, and then stick to them. Don’t be afraid to say “no”- and in the same breath, let me say, don’t be afraid to say “yes.” It’s a whole different world, one without your parents there to coach you, guide you and ground you, and you have to be careful. Enjoy your freedom, but remember that freedom walks hand-in-hand with responsibility. It is possible to have incredible fun and still maintain grades, as well as moral standards- I do it every day. Whatever you decide to do, and whoever you decide to be, make sure you’re becoming that person for yourself, and not for people who will try to convince you to be like them. It will happen, but if you let them know that you are who you are, you like that person, and you will not be persuaded to become someone else, thank you very much, you’ll find that they’ll back off. Love who you are, and if there comes a day you don’t, remember that anytime you decide to change, you can just start.
            Depending on whether or not you feel like you need to look like everyone else, you may or may not want to invest in some Nike shorts, leggings, and boots. (I know you won’t believe me now, but these are clothing materials that actually go together, or at least, that’s what hundreds of girls around here believe. It only works on this campus, so if this is up your alley, take advantage.)

Best wishes for your freshman year,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm home.

Don't get nervous or disappointed or think, "Oh, we knew it wouldn't last long." It's just Thanksgiving Break. But because of canceled classes and Hailee's birthday, and despite a University of Alabama vs. University of Tennessee-Chattanooga ticket and a fierce glare from Jane as I threw my laundry in the trunk. I'm home for a whole nine days- four days longer than I'd planned. This is day one. But it feels so, so good.  Fully-stocked pantry, willing-to-pay parents,and a new car aside, my relationship is what makes these visits touch that place in my heart that induces some sort of smile I can't hide. It's not a boy, or a friend- nope. It's my parents.

When I lived here, I was another source of stress. Where was I  and who was I with and was I fed? And my goodness, how were they going to pay for college? I'm sure they still worry; in fact, I know it. But we have college paid for- at least for a few semesters- and I'm proving I'm responsible, and so they worry less. Or they show it less.

And so I come home to this: Let's just spend time together. Watch a movie with us. Go with me to the store. Do you need any groceries? We miss you. We love you. Goodnight.

It's an indescribable feeling, that one that comes when you know you're exactly where you belong, where all of the people around you love you and they're not going to hurt you. Have you ever been around people, maybe people you've just met or don't really like, and you have this urge to flee into the arms of the people you love? People who know you and adore you and protect you and oh my gosh, I want them right now because these people don't love me at all, not one little bit. They're not necessarily mean or hateful or rude, and by golly, they're actually nice, but they're not my people. I've felt that way a lot at college. Don't get me wrong- please don't- I've made wonderful friends and I'm not lonely, by any means. but every now and then I just miss feeling unreserved and loved and understood. And that's what this place gives me. It lets me know I belong somewhere, even if it's not where I think. It says, no matter where you go and who you meet, we're always going to be here. We think you're terrific.

I miss Tuscaloosa, and I miss my friends, and my best friend here is running in the opposite direction, but I've got these people. And although I will probably be ready to go home in eight days, I'm loving being loved right now. And I'm loving them right back.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I just read a post over at Storked! titled, "What would you do with an extra hour?" Chrissy is a single mom in Jersey, and I love her blog not because of the mom factor (although I've been reading since JD was a tiny baby, and I think he is an adorably cute kid!), but because she has a job I'm after. However, she and I are very different, and so, friends, I'd just like to think about the things I get to do with my hours that are all my own. Yup, maybe I'm gloating, but right now, I'm in this time of my life and I know it's a selfish one. What, really, do you have to worry about in college besides yourself? YOUR grades, YOUR friends, YOUR accommodations. Soon (hopefully..), I'll have a husband who will change that, and a job that will change that, and kids that will change it more. So, things that I absolutely love doing:

  • I LOVE my library routine on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I realize I've spoken about it tons, but I want to remember it, because next semester I won't have it. I go to the library after my 8:00 class, when it's still and quiet and only serious studiers or people who got the early classes have crept from bed. I hide out on the third floor in a comfy chair with a large coffee and blog. Occasionally I do homework, but really this is my morning time to get everything together for the long day ahead (and it's a long one). It's all for me.
  • I love taking long showers. I do this rarely, because so many times I'm on a time crunch- shower before church, shower before meeting friends, shower before Janie comes down, shower after working out. But every now and then I just have a pocket of time that I choose to fill with showering and I can shave and deep condition and exfoliate and let the water work out the knots in my shoulders. I can blow-dry and straighten and moisturize. Mmmmmm.
  • I love watching Grey's Anatomy. Enough said.
  • Sleep! I WILL sleep in m/w/f, thankyouverymuch. No, I won't meet you for lunch at eleven or on the quad at ten or for coffee (okay, I do meet people sometimes). But mostly, I just enjoy sleeping. Especially on Fridays. Sadly, I am still very sleep deprived. But I'm not alone: College freshmen everywhere skimp on sleep. Drats. I will get better. I will.
  • Facebooking, blogging, chatting. All those online things that fuel my generation.
  • Reading. Oh, I am revamping my love of reading. Thank you, Gorgas Library!
What do you indulge in? If you can't think of something, shame on you!

Friday, November 13, 2009


What is it about this place that makes it so much harder? Why does it seem so much more evident, when I am sure that I am having the time of my life? What are these feelings, and why now?

It's raw pain. Grief. Honesty. It's remembering things I worked so hard to forget because I have to tell it all over again. I have to clue people in; I have to explain. And forgetting had become so easy, something that became part of my everyday routine. Lori made it easier to pretend that there was never anyone else. But there is and there was, and here I am faced with her face again and again as I tell my story, and talk about how it felt, and am forced to deal with how it still feels.

Having this best friend who directs these questions at me, who looks me in the eye and demands to know why I'm doing what I'm doing and why I'm who I am doesn't make it any easier. I've been running for years, afraid of what my happen if I slowed down to take a breath, and I've realized now that once you slow, it's very hard to get going again. Once you tell it and uncover all of those repressed memories, it's hard to shove them back into the back of your mind and go about your business.

It's hard when she should have been celebrating half a century, but I was simply documenting what I remembered of her 42nd year.

It's hard when I have a friend whose relationship with her mother makes me so jealous that I'm certain the desire in my heart will never lose it's wanting, it's aching.

It's hard when I long to call her and discuss these feelings, and how I'm growing up, and how it's scary.

It's hard when I just miss her. And why do i? Why was it so much easier before I came here? I suppose it's a plethora of reasons: this new time period in my life, all of these news friends for whom I must give explanation after explanation, the relationships of other people and their parents thrust in my face. And it's not their faults; it's my fault for letting it get to me, for pushing it down all of these years, for refusing to talk about it, and this is what happens. My heart hardens, and I am certain nobody will ever understand. Nobody's been here; nobody knows what it feels like to want someone so badly that it consumes your thoughts, filling them with what-ifs and could-have-beens and maybe-one-days. I'm sure someone does.

Someone does, right? Anyone? Does anyone understand that feeling? Does anyone run? I've been running for so long, and I have a feeling that if I don't slow down soon and handle this, it's going to take over my life and ruin relationships and step in before I can start to build anything worth having.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

things that have changed about me since college, and why i'm hating today.

I knew things would change about me once I came to college. I was moving out, moving on, moving up. I had the chance to do things the way I wanted to, even if those things were simply choosing what cereals to buy or how to fold my t-shirts. No longer was I forced to bend to the ways of my home (although I doubt Lori would have stood with a whipping cane, forcing me to fold t-shirts any particular way), but I now have the freedom to experiment, to draw conclusions, to change. I can do things in the way I think is best. Given, these are small, minuscule, trivial, even, parts of life. And some of these things have simply come about; before, there was no need for the things that I now must have. But, on to the list.
  • I drink coffee regularly. More so, I crave coffee the way alcoholics must long for a shot of whiskey. I demand it on rainy days, cold days, i-only-got-three-hours-of-sleep days, and especially rainy, cold, i-only-got-three-hours-of-sleep days, but mostly, all days. Ironically, I used to see it as an occasional treat that I didn't really even like all that much, and I would go for some sort of fancy concoction. I do really adore a white chocolate mocha these days, but a tall, large, bold coffee with skim and sweet n low will work just fine, thank you.
  • I'm a studier. I've never been one who had to study, or felt that desire to "oh my god, i have to be the best at every, single thing," and thus, my life never really warranted too much studying. (Although read any of 2009's posts from January through May, and my anatomy-induced whining will tell you different). However, now, I have come to love the library, and often retreat there between classes to do some not-extremely-pressing studying.
  • I care much less about my appearance. This could be the new friends I have who don't care either, the sleep deprivation, the fact that I am always going somewhere, and I was already supposed to be there ten minutes ago, or a combination of these, but I am super happy to throw on sweats and throw my hair up and forgo makeup, just because, um, that's not all that important.
  • I eat healthier, but, in the same breath,
  • I eat a TON of sweets.
  • I am so much less attached to my phone. This is a funny one, because you would think I would become more attached to it, with so many people that I care about so much farther away from me. But, I find myself leaving it for hours in the room or not really caring when it dies. It's possibly because I am so often with most of the people that would text or call anyway. I am also much less likely to respond to you these days, just because I'm too on-the-move to constantly be texting, and it's takes away from my focus on the people I'm with. This, my friends, is a good thing.
  • I carry a backpack (I stopped doing that in the tenth grade).
  • I get so much less sleep. Internet, I am so sleep-deprived. I am not alone, though. Uh-oh.
  • I have black fingernails. TAKE THAT, NANCY AND ADA!
  • I, supposedly, talk differently. I say, "drats," and also, my voice has changed. I don't even know about that one.
  • I drive a lot less.
  • I did find that the most important food to me is cereal. I love, love, love cereal. I will forgo toilet paper in favor of Oatmeal Squares. Not kidding.
  • Oh, and how I fold my t-shirts.
And, why I hate today: (in list format! a whole list full of HATE! lucky you, you reader, you!)
  • It's raining.
  • Not only is it raining, but it's monsooning in a very tropical-stormy way.
  • It's monsooning in such a tropical-stormy way that it turned my umbrella inside out. Yeah. That happens in real life.
  • That happened today. This morning. Before my coffee.
  • It's cold. This makes the monsooning rain even more difficult to stand and induces shivering that can be misidentified as seizing, not to mention the inside-out umbrella-wrangling. Oh what a joy I must have been a watch as I fled to the library.
  • I only had three hours of sleep last night. Yup. Three. The number babies can count to before they can even say the word banana. Less fingers than are on one hand. I feel like if I get a number of hours of sleep that would also be an appropriate pizza slice serving, I have failed. Three falls into this category, folks.
  • In addition to the sleep and the rain and the cold, I had class. At 8. All the way across campus.
  • I wore flip-flops today and,
  • I don't have a rain jacket with a hood. (Allow me to mention that the desire to steal my roommate's was very large, but I fought it in a good Samaritan way and went with a measly sweatshirt.)
  • I have history tonight. And the outlook of my getting a nap before then seems so small because I have a paper due.
  • AND i found out I have a test on Thursday. Couldn't he have told us last Thursday? That man, I swear.
  • At this point, I have coffee breath, and no gum.
  • I also have class in 53 minutes.

One thing I love about today? This wonderful routine of mine, with coffee and a muffin and a blog or two. Really, quite wonderful indeed. Plus, it's supposed to be sunny tomorrow.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This is what I remember,

from your last birthday.

I remember that Nana cooked enchiladas because you asked for them.
I remember you were wearing jeans, keds, and a red and white checked sleeveless shirt.
I remember standing on the stairs, and how you had your head leaned back on the chair, and how we were talking, and you turned and smiled at me.

That's all I remember because it was eight years ago, and I didn't know I was supposed to be savoring it so. But they're lovely memories.

Happy Birthday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

again, again, again!

Well, I've done this before, but that was a year, and things are different. I still agree with that list, but let's add to it.

List of random things that make me happy:
  • white chocolate mochas after my 8 o'clock class.
  • the library (especially when I don't have homework to do in there!)
  • having a homework assignment finished before right before it's due
  • a stack of books to read
  • movie nights with my friends
  • hot chocolate on the quad
  • anything on the quad...
  • the quad! (i really love the quad)
  • kit-kat bars, brownies, cookies, pasta; really anything that is delicious and bad for you.
  • Bryant's salad bar and turkey sandwiches
  • snuggling
  • Blanka
  • coming up with a creative idea (i.e.- putting drawer liner under my desk calendar to keep it from sliding around)
  • Joanna's singing
  • new jeans
  • new makeup
  • new anything, except zits or pounds or boogers.
  • homemade meals
  • postcards
  • handwritten mail
  • any mail
  • letters, notes, cards
  • a big bowl of cereal
  • a clean house
  • dressing up
  • but also, sweatpants and sweatshirts (especially the $5 ones at Wal-Mart!)
that's all for today!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Last night, just like every other Wednesday night since I've been in Tuscaloosa, I went to the Well. In the spirit of renewing my relationship with the Lord, I've been giving it all I have and begging Him to come to me.

And He does.

Last night, we studied a passage in which Jesus asked a couple of blind men a startling question:
"What do you want me to do for you?"

Wait...Jesus asks me that same question? The God of the Milky Way and Africa and white chocolate mochas asks me, "What do you want me to do for you?" This is what the preacher man tried to convince me. In years, months, days past, I would have responded with something church-y. "Lord, I just want a deeper relationship with you..." Sure I do. But that's less of His doing and more of mine, I'd say. And so, with the urging of the most wonderful pastor in the world, I was candid and true and fierce in my expectations of the Lord, and as I prayed to Him, I told Him exactly what I wanted Him to do for me, and it came out so sudden and raw that I was shocked:

Lord, I want a husband. I want a man who loves You, and who seeks You. I want a man who will love me and see the best in me and remind me when I can't see it, and I want to have the ability to give this gift to him as well. I want someone who has goals and aspirations and can make me laugh. I don't care who it is or where he's from, as long as he's who You want me to have. I'm waiting for him, Lord, but please give him to me. I don't want to be lonely forever. I want the soul mate you've got waiting for me, and I believe he's there and that You will provide him.

Oh, and I want a deeper relationship with You. But really...a husband? Those were the words that flowed. I'm eighteen years old and quite happily single, with only a string of flings to my name- not a serious relationship in sight, and I'm requesting a husband? I didn't even know.

Regardless, I have faith, faith as tiny as a mustard seed that can and does and will move mountains, and that's all I need, because He has promsied to do the rest. And so I will let Him.
Today, my e-mail devotion spoke of God the Performer, and well, He's telling me this: "Let go, and Let God." Okay.

God is a performer! Think about that. He performs things on your behalf. Say this a dozen times, "Father, I thank You that You perform on my behalf. I thank You that You perform on my behalf!"

"Son of David, do not pass me by."
I have faith that He won't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm having one of those weeks.

No, Internet, not one of those weeks- one of THOSE weeks!

The kind where you forget about all the junk that habitually tears you down and tires you out and steals your smile and knots up your shoulders and causes you to walk slower and all of the things that turn you into an unhappy person if you don't catch it and stop and forget it.

Well, Internet, this week I did just that. I'm not sure why I'm so incredibly happy; there's no particularly wonderful thing that happened to me on Sunday to induce all of the joy that I'm experiencing. I just decided to be, and it worked. It worked. Mostly, I looked around and noticed all of the wonderful things God bestowed upon me. I know that if you dig into my background, if you listen to my story, there's a lot of bad. Between the dead mother and the alcoholic father and the psychotic stepmother and the siblings that never got on the right path, I have a lot to whine about, and trust me, I have and I do and I will. I'm a whiner (if you don't believe me, start reading.) But, I have so much to be thankful for, so many blessings! For each trial, each smelly old shoe that gets thrown at me, I am handed a vase full of wildflowers. God holds me and says, "Yeah, I took away your mom and your dad, but that's because Chris and Lori were meant to raise you. Yeah, I took away your dream of Vanderbilt, but that's because I wanted you at Alabama. Yeah, I took away that least week of summer, but that's because you needed to meet your best friends."

I didn't always see that, and I don't always see it now, old and seasoned as I am at 18 years of age. It took me years to understand why my mom died, and even now I don't comprehend the whys, I just appreciate that God knows what He is doing, and that by relinquishing to His control, my life is exponentially more joyful and fulfilling. And even so, I still struggle with giving up control of my own life. It's the human in me.

But, this week isn't like that. For this week- so far at least, until some sneaker hits me in the nose- I am filled with the happiness that all of this provides. And I'm starting to see the pleasure that all of these little things- the tiny things that I usually fly by as I'm focusing on the "bigger picture"- can provide if I'll just let them. And, Internet, let me count my blessings, name them one by one.

  • Sunday, I went to the grocery store. I bought all the things I wanted: Oatmeal Squares, chocolate cereal bars, Cream of Wheat. I spent $15. It was glorious.
  • Then, I had dinner with my best friends. We watched a movie. We laughed. We made noise. There was much fun to be had and we didn't mind if we did, thank you very much. My beautiful, beautiful friends.
  • On Monday, I got to sleep. I GOT SLEEP! Some time after college, I may actually get the recommended eight hours a night, or seven, or six, but let it be said that for the entirety of my college career so far, I have only received an average of 5 hours a night. I know, it's my own fault.
  • Monday night I went to class and the professor- a man who I've really comes to dislike because, my god, he reminds me so much of the dentist, and although I wouldn't admit this in real life, the dentist gives me the heebie jeebies, and actually induces panic attacks- kept talking about the "scholarship." Now, I don't pay too much attention in this class, but I'm not dumb. Nobody else knew what he was talking about either, so we asked and he mentioned (just now!) that, oh yeah, we'd be getting a $2,000 scholarship for the class. Oh, a $2,000 scholarship? Neat. A FREAKING TWO THOUSAND DOLLAR SCHOLARSHIP. Excuse me while I happy dance for at least three weeks straight. The most wonderful part about this wasn't even the money: It was my Lord, who is so freaking wonderful. The college ministry at Calvary Baptist challenged college students to give a lunch offering- something that they would miss. Initially started out with $5, but at the last minute, I doubled that- something I would miss in my grocery budget this week. I did miss it when I went to the grocery store, but a day later, I got my entire next semester paid for. I sent this in an email to Lori: "They say there aren't miracle anymore, but my God is miraculous. He fed the 5,000 with two loaves of bread and five fish, and he paid for my college next semester with $10." How insanely wonderful. God is SO good. So good to me.
  • Then, today was my full day, although I didn't have history. But I woke up at 7 this morning and ran around all day, but it was just so nice. This morning I got a cup of coffee and sat in the library blogging and facebooking and chatting. I went to class, and I went to lunch with those wonderful friends. I worked on my history paper. I read the Great Gatsby. I noticed all the beautiful things life had to offer.

In the land that is plentiful  
Where Your streams of abundance flow 
Blessed be Your name  

Blessed Be Your name 
When I'm found in the desert place 
Though I walk through the wilderness 
Blessed Be Your name 

Every blessing You pour out  
I'll turn back to praise 
When the darkness closes in, Lord 
Still I will say  
Blessed be the name of the Lord 
Blessed be Your name B
lessed be the name of the Lord 
Blessed be Your glorious name

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It hasn't been easy.

As a matter of fact, it's been hard. Harder than I expected; much, much more difficult than I ever imagined. There have been fights, horrible, painful fights, that come from knowing someone well enough to exactly where to hit them, and expecting things out of them that they can't live up to, things that you should never expect. Fights that brew when you take a person for granted far too often and forget that they don't just have to be there. That at any time, especially when they're two hours away, they can decide to stop. But tonight it found it's way back, this friendship of ours. We fell into place again, and danced to the same beat, and we let it be. We laughed and talked, and while the tension let me know that things were still pulled a little snugly, it melted away. And I remembered- I remembered why I fell in love with your friendship in the first place, why I loved you so very much.

Yes, it has been hard. You've hurt me; God knows I've hurt you. We weren't as strong as we thought, but then again, maybe we're stronger. We put fight into this. We said, "No, I will not let you drift away from me. Maybe it is hard, and maybe it hurts, but I love you and if fighting for you is what it takes, then I will do that." Maybe it had to be hard before it could be easy. Maybe we just had to grow up a little. Or a lot. Maybe we're succeeding. I sure hope so.

I can't promise that it will be easy. I live far away. It's not California, but it's farther than we ever imagined. I'm sorry about that. And I love it- sometimes I'm sorry about that, too, that I wanted this, I'm the one who chose to put us through this, and I wouldn't change it. I'm sorry, but I wouldn't. It would have been far too easy to stay, and so I had to go. And my friends? I absolutely love them. I love that I had a chance to pick the friends I wanted instead of being friends with them, because, well, I go to school with them. I love that I have friends who think like me and friends who don't. I love that I found a best friend who understands me, and what I'm going through, and lives upstairs.

I hate that you think any of that changed how I felt about you.

Here's what you should know. You should know I don't have to talk to you everyday, that I don't have to know every detail. Sounds crazy, as in the past, it has upset me when you left things out, but, well, I've grown up. You should know I've changed, but if you could love the new me, I think we could revive this. You should know you haven't been replaced. Oh, no, you haven't. She made your absence more tolerable, but not less noticeable. You should know I'm doing just fine, but don't think I don't get homesick, and for you. I do. You should know that my family is a priority, and that yes, you're a part of that- a huge part- but that balancing it when I come home so that everyone ends up happy and no feelings get stepped on is like trying to not eat brownies- very, very hard. And so, I'm sorry that you're often the one that gets stepped on. I'll try to do better. I swear.

Mostly, you should know that I miss you. And I love you. And I know those are just words, and that lately our words and actions have been more hurtful than anything else, but I swear it's true. And when i say I miss you, I don't necessarily mean physically. My little heart misses yours. Come back to me.

This is who we are, we are intertwined. We can't be without the other, even if that means we're just fighting- we're still connected, still worrying, and fretting, and fighting, and loving. We always have been.

p.s. I decided we're no longer allowed to text. It's just gives us the freedom to say what we don't mean. Just call me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How do I start off a letter to someone that I've missed everyday for nearly eight years? To someone who won't ever even read the letter? To someone who took a little piece of my heart, a fraction that I'll never get back?

Hi, mama.

Happy Birthday.

Wow, you'd be 50! That's half a century. I'm sad you never got there, but I'm determined not to make this about what you didn't accomplish. After all, 42 is quite the accomplishment. Not at all what we strive for, but a milestone we'd all like to reach. Lasting 42 years in this tumultuous world is a lovely achievement. See, mom? I've accepted it. I can joke about it. You instilled in me the traits it would take to be able to do so.

I'm a lot different than I am last time you saw me. I imagine that just as you are frozen in my mind as a beautiful, wise lady with crow's feet and laugh lines and a youthful shine in her eyes, I am frozen to you as an eleven year old little girl with frizzy curls, thick glasses, and buck teeth. (C'mon, mom. You can admit that I wasn't the most blessed child). But, I can look back and see what you saw in me- those characteristics of the fighter I would be, those things that came from you. You saw the girl who could chatter all day long, making friends as she went. The one who couldn't dance or sing but did both everyday anyway. The persistence, the perseverance, the fight. I needed those attributes. But physically, I am not sure you would recognize me. I just look different- grown up. I grew up, Mom, without you.

The hardest part about losing you was everything. You were my world. Your mistakes were nonexistent in my eyes, although I did toy with idea of being angry at you; mostly, I just missed you. At first, I almost felt oddly lucky. Everyone was paying such attention to us, and after all, we'd had a fight that day. I didn't even care that you were gone. About a week later, I realized that I had lost the most important person in my life. And I started crying.

I wouldn't stop for three years.

Mom, it was so hard. I wish that my story went on to say that everyone stepped up, but most people had lost their footing. Dad forgot that he was supposed to be taking care of us half the time, and left us in the care of Mary Anne. I don't know, Mom, if you would have liked her. She was crazy and psychotic and she made my life a living hell wuite often, but she had some good attributes. Give me some time, and I'm sure I could remember what they were. After I got over the initial shock of how quickly Dad was moving on, I relished having a mother again. I soaked it up. But her craziness got in the way and it made me miss you even more. You were a little crazy, but you loved me enough that it didn't matter.

One Halloween night, Laine finally saw how the woman was truly a little insane, and she told her to leave. But Dad was in jail and so that left me and Emilee with a nanny named Robin and broken hearts. But, Mom, you shouldn't worry. Because Chris and Lori stepped in.They picked up the slack, and after awhile, I moved in with them. And I think you'd proud of what they did with me. They put me in public school and taught me all the important things about life, like how to treat people kindly and have a relationship with the Lord and clean a bathroom and save money and get to where I'm going. Next time you see them, say thank you. They did the most beautiful job; sometimes I wonder if maybe they did a better job than you would have, but then again, I have faith that you would have stepped up, too. But I guess I'll never know. I appreciate the way things work out; I thank God everyday for taking you, and I know that sounds crazy, but MOm, it was the right thing. And so you should know, I've accepted it.

That doesn't mean I don't miss you. Sometimes the ache is so deep that my chest actually hurts and it makes my throat hurt and I have to breathe deeply to keep from hyperventilating and then, I have to lay very still in bed to control the breathing. It gets rough, sometimes. But mostly, I'm okay. I think of you every single day, though. I don't want you to think you've been forgotten, because you haven't. I long to talk to you, even if just for an hour, to hear your voice, and to know what you think about all this. I want you to hold me, to rub my back, to murmur soothing things when I've had a hard day. When I see my friends with their moms, I get this wistfulness that consumes me. It's gotten easier over the years, but that's still the hardest part: watching everyone else have (and take for granted) what you'll never ever be able to get. Sometimes I fantasize that this was a trick, that maybe you were kidnapped, or that you ran away, but that at any time, you'll return home. But I don't suppose that would solve anything, just create more mess, huh? I guess things worked out for the best.

Mom, I love you. I am proud to say that I am a lot like you. I can make people laugh, and I take care of other people, sometimes. I am a good listener, and oh, I love to talk! I have your eyes, I think, and I love it. I love being like you.

Happy Birthday.