December 26, 2010

over it

I used to be sad at bedtime on December 25th. I would prolong it as much as possible, and try not to fall asleep. Because once I closed my eyes, Christmas would be over.

It’s 12:45am. By all technicalities, Christmas is finished. And from an outsiders view, I should be glad. The day didn’t exactly go as planned. I spent a good deal of the biggest holiday of the year alone. But it isn’t all that simple.

Sure, I thought about home-cooked turkey and mashed potatoes as I warmed up my frozen lasagna. But it was veggie lasagna from Trader Joe’s- something I haven’t tried before. It was tasty! And last night, we had tamales and rice and beans. And this morning, I enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast with some of Sophia’s family. So I wasn’t lacking in the food area.

All the places I tried to volunteer were already full. That’s a pretty good problem to have. My goal is to volunteer during the regular year in 2011. And it turned out that I was wiped out from not sleeping last night, so using the afternoon to take a nap was the loveliest gift-to-self…..

Thanks to Verizon, I chatted with various members of my family. And last night, Sophia’s family included me in their Christmas celebration- just like every other year since I moved to California. There was a morning service at WorkChurch, but it didn’t involve any kid activities (tomorrow is another story, haha). I began the day worshipping the Savior who loves us…. so much as to be born in a barn for the ultimate purpose of a cruel death in exchange for our freedom. We miss that when we blaze through the familiar plot points of the nativity story. And taking the long way home meant driving down the coast as the sun sparkled on ocean water.

So yes, it was a quiet day. Yes, I spent a lot of the evening working to prepare for WorkChurch tomorrow. But I also enjoyed a quiet night with Kelly, tasted her mom’s delicious mashed potatoes, and ate a couple of Christmas cookies. And in case you were wondering, we closed the Daily Christmas Film Festival with “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”.

As I close my eyes on December 25th, my heart is full of a variety of complex feelings. But incredibly, at this moment, sadness is not included. Besides, now we can look forward to New Year’s Eve…. and if the excitement of 2010 is any indication, 2011 is going to be quite an adventure.

December 18, 2010

so THIS is Christmas

Wrapping gifts, attempting to bake, decorating the house…. the preparations lead to one single day. As a child, I would marvel at how quickly Christmas day was over and how long it took to return. This year, I am still trying to figure out my plans. After church in the morning, I will likely come home to nap. Christmas Eve with Sophia’s family runs very late, and I’ll be up early to drive to church. So definitely some sleeping will happen. After that…. I’m still looking for a volunteer opportunity. I would love to serve the less fortunate, but most of those needs seem to be filled already. I will likely help another friend with their evening church service. It will be a good day, of this I am certain.

But the point is that, at first, I thought there was a lot of build-up to what is going to be a very low-key day. But that’s silly. It’s not build up, it IS Christmas. The wrapping and the baking, the thinking of others and spending time with friends, the songs and smells…. it’s a month-long holiday, not just a day.

diciembre 004

And what would my holidays be without challenges? Despite begging and pleading on my part, my car refused to wait until January to break down. It’s tempting to stress over the hundreds of dollars in repairs (who am I kidding. I’m stressing), but I’m choosing to focus on the kindness of the auto shop and our flexible payment arrangement. I hate waiting to send Christmas gifts to my family, but somehow I’ll make it work and trust God’s timing.

And now to return to a typical busy Saturday… with holiday flair. This morning was spent at workchurch rehearsing the kids’ Christmas program. Maaaaybe ten kids showed up. It’s still doable, but tomorrow morning’s performance will be a little bit of a zoo as we try to costume these children! After all is said and done, the Masquer Christmas party will be my reward. :)

The rest of my today is earmarked to finish the making and wrapping of gifts, clean the kitchen (it appears a tornado of baking hit), and complete my weekly workchurch tasks, such as writing the family devotional. I’ll probably throw in a mug of hot cider for fun. It seems fitting on a chilly, rainy day. Though worries may linger, this month-long holiday is a celebration to savor.

December 09, 2010

hope peace joy love

Where have I been? If you’ve missed these random updates, check out my theater blog to fill in the blanks. We’re only eight days into December, but I’ve plunged head-first into the pool of Christmas spirit!

Kelly and I decided to watch a Christmas movie each day until the 25th. Of course, the show made this a little tricky, but we doubled up on some days to make it work. So far, we’ve enjoyed Love Actually, Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Nativity Story, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special, The Polar Express, a Christmas episode of The Office and Will & Grace, & a couple from South Park, and the Jeff Dunham Christmas special. I think a there’s a few more, and of course there is a large pending stack next to the television.

Meanwhile, my friend, Lara, and I began crafting the day after Thanksgiving. Also, my gift shopping is about 93% complete. The house smells like cinnamon, and we will obtain the tree this weekend. We’re only eight days into December, but I think we’re right on track. :)

I don’t feel like I’m giving enough this year, though. Now that my occupation is in a church, my volunteer time has slipped. Perhaps that will be my 2011 New Year’s goal… I no longer have the financial freedom to give monetarily, but that is not an excuse to be selfish with my time and energy. But I have been with my friend-family, and will have plenty of quality time with the precious California people in my life. I’m thinking of others near and dear to my heart with the gift-giving. The important things of the season are not completely lost in the busy.

This year brings another first. Our church holds a service on Christmas morning. I’m actually really excited to honor the birth of our Lord by worshipping Him. However, I am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my day. I will not be flying back to Ohi-tucky this year, and will spend Christmas Eve with Sophia’s family. Everyone will be with their own families on Christmas day. Perhaps I will find a volunteer opportunity during the day. If anything, I can spend some one-one-one time with the Birthday Boy on the beach. I’m not worried, I know the right thing will work out.

It’s after midnight. My mind is jumbled with half-formed thoughts about the holidays, pending gifts, trying to make sure what i can give are enough (you all deserve so many good things!), thinking about spots I’m working on for the radio station and projects for workchurch, what i need to study for finals, and going over tomorrow’s schedule of laundry, errands, a haircut, and more. So instead of continuing this stream-of-consciousness fiesta, i’m going turn on my bed-warming heating pad and siesta. :)

November 20, 2010

raining starfire- my facebook note

I can be one of those annoying people who talks endlessly about what's on their mind. Of course, I can also be one of those people who successfully hides anything they don't want others to know. Perhaps that's yet another bipolar tendency- two conflicting traits existing strongly in the same person.

I write this note in order to share. They say, after all, openness fights the stigma, right? In the midst of a particularly harsh depressive cycle (episode? period? I don't even know the correct official clinical term), so many tough questions have risen to the surface. I search for some kind of helpful nugget in an attempt to take a little responsibility for my craziness. The seeds of information found in books or online grow into concepts that swirl in my head as they process. I attempt to balance the annoying chatter by writing. I know I can put my friends through a lot with this tornado called bipolar disorder. At least by writing, you can choose to read.

Yes, a tornado. No wonder I love storms so much. How rare and spectacular when the outside world matches my insides? If I could paint a picture of my bipolarness, it would be raining starfire. Sad, destructive, and yet beautiful.

Can you believe I just said that? Beautiful? In the six years since the official diagnosis, I have attributed many adjectives to this mental disorder (or mental illness, an even uglier term). "Beautiful" has NEVER been used. Clinging to a single scripture was the only honest good point in the long lists of negative challenges.

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Then I discovered THIS. Sitting on our couch with my laptop and Tootsie warming my feet, I could only cry after reading it. Though I can't yet articulate words behind those tears, I want to share the list with you:

THE GIFTS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER:

1. Above average compassion.
2. Acute intuition.
3. Empathetic and non-judgemental.
4. An ability to see the "big picture".
5. Spontaneous attitude towards life.
6. An ability to experience the emotions of happiness and unconditional love on a much purer and deeper level than a "normal" person.
7. Persons with bipolar disorder tend to be either creative, artistic, musical or scientific geniuses.
8. Spiritual leadership qualities.
9. Compassionate.
10. Well, we're not boring!!! Like a box of unmarked chocolates, sometimes you bite into us, you get that icky maple crap, then there is that orange creamy stuff which is okay...sometimes you get that chewy toffee caramel that sticks around, but one thing is for sure...eventually, you will get one that's got NUTS! Crunchy and yummy nuts!

(credit where it's due: full article at http://depressiontribe.tribe.net/thread/4bf661ac-4e84-468e-a17f-989c0721f0e9)

I have seen myself in so many descriptions of bipolar disorder, though they are all undesirable symptoms. But I can find myself in parts of this list, a list of good side effects (?). Ironically, it's still a lot to process.

Thousands of dazzling meteors falling out of the sky, sizzling as they land. A night sky weeping and destroying with a blazing twinkle. Endless tears, horrible decisions, energetic mania. My own bipolar. Raining starfire.

November 18, 2010

eh eh… nothing else i can say

It’s not even nine o’clock yet. It seems much later, since the sun sets so early these days. It seems much earlier, since I’m caffeinated from an afternoon peppermint mocha. The two balance out, and it actually feels exactly as it is: not even nine o’clock.

My chosen evening activity is not-attending-the-midnight-showing-of-Harry-Potter. i have nothing against the series nor any interest. There’s plenty of work to be done, since most of my time today was devoted to writing spots for the radio station and some homework. But since it’s nearing nine o’clock, it’s late enough to lose interest in the productive yet still have energy to still do something. But there’s only so many things to do alone (particularly with the nagging unfinished tasks that still clamor for attention).

Despite the rush to Christmas, today was a lovely pre-Thanksgiving afternoon. Always eager to take advantage of a good deal, Kelly and I walked around the corner to Starbucks for buy one/get one free holiday drinks. Though Starbucks is usually most guilty for premature Christmas, I was pacified by the emphasis on “holiday” drinks and noticeably absent carols. A peppermint mocha can be Thanksgiving-y, too.  There were no decorations beyond the menu board and autumnal window decals- a definite win over yesterday’s Big Lots excursion underscored by Frosty the Snowman and some song about about Santa going to a party (complete with obnoxious ho-ho-ho’s) at a volume too high to ignore.

The crisp, cool air and wonderfully warm spice-scented candle melt thing Kelly brought home wrapped the mood in a nice metaphorical harvest-colored bow. Even the smooth blue of the water and lovely old-building scent of the post office were savory details. This current depressive cycle has brought my disorder to the front burner, causing difficult questions and emotions to re-emerge. Cherishing the present is a highly underrated coping skill, and if the smell of basil and cilantro in the garden patch (or the brilliant emerging red of our budding strawberries!) can soothe anxiety, then it’s better than any medication. Besides, someone has to stand up for the lovely details of Thanksgiving; the oft-neglected holiday has become an “unfortunate” speed bump on the expressway to Christmas.

November 13, 2010

making it work

If you drive from our doorstep, down the main street of our town, you can only go two miles before it ends. If you turn right, you will be treated to a beautiful drive on a cliff overlooking the ocean. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Catalina island pretty well. But if you go straight, you’ll end at a little park hosting a lighthouse and a small outdoor stage (as well as the obligatory picnic tables and playground).

i had to get out of the house yesterday. Working from home has many perks, but it also leads to a touch of cabin fever. So I threw my notebooks into a bag, strapped a leash on Tootsie, and took that two mile drive to the park.

We were rewarded with a beautiful November afternoon. Shorter autumn days are lit by warm golden sunlight. A few leaves crunch underfoot, but most stay green and dutifully attached to their tree branches. The park isn’t large, so we circled it a couple times so Tootsie could get her energy (and other things) out before we settled down to work. I chose a tree- I need to still learn its name- who’s roots crawled around the base before diving deep to anchor it in the ground. Comfortably cradled and shaded by a canopy of sun-filtering leaves, i looked across the glittering blue to sailboats and barges. My new natural office wasn’t too far from the cliff edge (don’t worry, a solid concrete wall prevents any accidental wandering), so the steady roll of seawater against the rocks below quickly dissuaded me from drowning out such calm wonder with my ipod.

There I worked as seagulls glided overhead, using little energy against the sea breeze (they’re really not as annoying when they’re flying by, as opposed to crapping on my car or scavenging my beach snacks). This is why I left my cubicle, and never want to return.

November 01, 2010

deconstructing the madness

Some days, I feel like a decent version of normal. Other times, I am only slightly eccentric enough to be interesting. And occasionally, it feels like there’s a giant “mental disorder” sign brightly lit over my head.

In the years since the official bipolar diagnosis, I have learned to channel the crazy energy in increasingly healthier ways. Thankfully, I have also learned to prevent emotions from escalating into uncontrollable and socially unacceptable levels. Usually.

The analytical part of me wants to take each piece of craziness apart, examine it, and reassemble myself in a more manageable way. Anxiety levels are creeping up now, thanks in part to a lot of life busyness while being in a depressive cycle.

My mind works differently. The racing chaos of mania dissolves into a twisted spaghetti-like mass of thoughts like:

Feeling alone, even when surrounded by a bunch of great people.

i hate being vulnerable.

“But to cry in front of you, that’s the worst thing I could do.”

Scenes play out as they did this afternoon. My computer sat on the kitchen counter, and I stood in front of it, trying to decide my next move. Work on homework? Work on church? Get dressed first? Choosing one thing means neglecting all the others. And forget focusing on that one thing while thinking about those others. It doesn’t help that the flurry of the weekend’s activities has left our house in disarray. I can’t think straight with all the clutter. Must. Clean. Now.

And that’s how I found myself passionately scrubbing the stovetop. Part of me acknowledged that this coping method beats the crap out of previous bad habits. Another part wonders if crazy motivation cancels out the normalcy of the task. A tiny part says to screw it and just return to those previous bad habits. The ones that temporarily soothe and calm, all the while actually making life more complicated.

But I finish the stove. Next, I’ll move on to the counter. Then the floors, then the bathroom, then my bedroom. When the house feels clean, I will channel the energy into work somehow. Before I know it, I will be tired and it will be bedtime. Another day completed, survived.

Back in the therapy days, we identified that I take on a lot when I’m manic, but become overwhelmed when faced with the ambitious workload later. This month, I’ll be practicing NOvember again. I’ll keep current commitments, but will not be making any new ones.Though this means not going on fun outings or accepting new projects, it allows me to dig out from under this heavy pile of class work, church tasks, and miscellaneous life-in-general. It’s a rest before the insanity (and joy) of December’s Christmas season. No matter what, Christmas is always good.

That’s the joy of bipolarity. What comes down must go up.

October 29, 2010

elephant in the web

Many years ago, I discovered a truth. When you are avoiding something that needs to be addressed, there is a lull in conversation. You can’t seem to find other topics to fill the void, and there is silence. But once you actually talk about the matter at hand, things begin to flow again.

As much as this is true in a conversation between two people, it also applies to journaling. By avoiding the things on your mind, you create writer’s block.

As discussed in a previous post, there are blogging boundaries- not everything on your heart goes on the internet. Keeping that in mind, I’ve still decided that, in the spirit of quality writing, I’m gonna talk about personal stuff anyway.

Money is an awkward subject for most of us. I think my upbringing bred additional awkwardness, but my upbringing is another subject all together. I hate talking about money, worrying about money, negotiating money….. pretty much everything but actually possessing money. Even when I was barely a teenager, I dreaded the question, “How much do you charge for babysitting?”. Awkward.

This season of my life is low-income. Most of my life trained me to live low-income-ly (something good came out of that situation), so, for the most part, I’m good with the simple things. I know how to stretch a dollar, cut out luxuries, differentiate between needs and wants, and creatively solve problems. Sure, there are frustrations. But if my biggest issue is not instantly satisfying specific food cravings, I’m pretty fortunate. (For the record, at this moment, I want Jamba Juice, mongolian bbq, and maybe Roscoe’s chicken and waffles. And no, not together.).

Of course, I do worry sometimes. Since my paycheck comes only once a month, a strict and careful budget is necessary. Near the end of the month, I find myself strategically conserving gas and my meals become slightly unconventional in order to make the best of any food we might already have. This isn’t a horrible thing, though. It’s just life right now, and it’s a life for which I signed up when I chose to return to school. I am far from poverty. In fact, by the standards of much of the world population, I am wealthy. I have everything I need, my bills are paid, and I am HAPPY. That’s right, even in the midst of a depressive cycle, I. Am. Happy. That’s worth more than an increased paycheck any day.

Sometimes I want to talk about it. I want to work out the latest mini-crisis of budget, or figure out how to solve an unexpected expense. I want to be honest and tell you I can’t go to a movie or drive that far because I don’t have the money, and not have it be cringingly awkward. And I don’t want you to feel like you have to offer to help. While I MUCH appreciate the caring and support (sincerely, I do), I made this lifestyle decision, and I’m responsible for the consequences. If other people pick up my slack, that’s not right.

So there it is- I’m practically broke, and I’m ok. Christmas gifts will come from the heart this year, not my wallet. I’m behind on many of the latest movies, and I rarely go out to eat. I sacrifice some social outings and instant gratification, but I find fun in free or low-cost places. Any out-of-house dining is directed by coupons. I take advantage of sales, deals, and specials. I am blessed with good friends and family- both blood and adopted. I’ve had so many incredible opportunities in the past to go, do, and see… and I’m sure I will be able to do these things again in the future. But the most important thing is that the present is pretty rich with awesome and win (otherwise know as a blessed life).

October 26, 2010

great pumpkin

Every year, Sophia, Daylene, and I watch the holiday Charlie Brown specials. The simple cartoons have sparked a fun tradition. And sometimes, and it amazes me that a new generation loves them so much. Charlie Brown’s slow pace is a far cry from the frantic jibbering of Spongebob or the Disney channel’s caffeinated pop culture explosion. But the Peanuts gang holds true year after year.

Sophia raised the standards when she hosted the Great Pumpkin Fun Nite. I should’ve sensed the increased level of awesome and win when I received a new t-shirt upon arrival- complete with Linus, Snoopy, and the gang in their trick-or-treat costumes and poses. The rest of the evening followed in the same festive fashion. We decorated small pumpkins and had a carpet picnic with lots of tasty holiday treats. This year, more cousins and friends joined the fun, and it was a giggly girls’ night in.

I think it will be my turn to host Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving. I’m already planning my menu based on Snoopy’s plans- popcorn and toast! I don’t think I can top Sophia’s party, but it shall be enjoyable… and hopefully memorable.

October 19, 2010

cozified

Finally, a small storm graced our little harbor town with it’s beautiful presence. I stretched out on my bed so I could see a bit of the grey sky over our neighbor’s roof- a small glimpse from the confined view of my window.

The ipod is neglected in favor of thunder and the splat of raindrops against roof tile and sidewalk. The light switch is off for softer light from hanging star lamps and candles. Last, the computer and notebooks are moved from the kitchen table to my comfortable bed. At last, I have created the workspace I used to dream about from my cubicle.

One small, unforeseen glitch: productivity is slightly lower than expected.

I’m not sure it’s the too-coziness of the environment (fine. maybe a little.). I’ve started projects, but now i’m just kind of…. stuck. I have scenes to write for homework, and they’re not flowing. See, I’m attempting to be nice and busy. I can’t help it if my creativity wonders what the sand is like when it rains and if it would be risking sickness to go check it out.

Instead, I push through and try to utilize stream-of-consciousness writing to spark creativity, as recommended by my screenwriting professor. The raindrops racing down my windowpane are only a tiny bit distracting. They remind me of long bus rides where I would follow their drippy path on foggy glass between daydreams.

October 13, 2010

seasonal

Summer will always be my favorite season. I love warm weather and going to the beach and sunshine and the whole bit. When I lived in Ohi-tucky, I dreaded the fall for the simple fact that it brought winter. Long, cold, never-ending, damp, dreadful winter.

I didn’t mind autumn itself. The colorful leaves, the cool crisp air, fresh apple cider, and parties in barns were all wonderful. But I didn’t fully appreciate the season, since I knew it was the end of my too-brief summer.

Now, I happily reside in the land of limited seasons. Sure, everyone says that Southern California’s calendar is marked by earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides…. and that’s sort of true. I prefer to describe it as a little rain, lots of summer, indian summer, and the mild holiday chill. This is perfectly respectable, in my book. If i had my way, we would only have crappy weather from November 1st through January 1st, then right back to 75-degrees-and-sunny on January 2nd. We could also do with a few more thunderstorms to keep things fresh… but now I’m getting greedy.

Though we had a nice rainy week recently, we’re back to the cool sunshine that took up permanent residence here all summer. Uncharacteristically, I find myself craving apple cider, fall-themed candles, and rain. Kelly made a yummy veggie/chicken/squash/and-a-touch-of-our-homegrown-rosemary-and-basil soup last night, and it was deliciously autumnal. Though I’m ambivalent about Halloween(bring on Thanksgiving, already.. then Christmas!), I am looking forward to carving a pumpkin in the next week or so.

So there you have it. My musings on the weather and related issues. Thrilling, no? If you’d like something deeper, you can check out a new project we’re doing for theater: www.apagefromthestage.blogspot.com!

October 03, 2010

evaluate

Despite appearances, the September blogging experiment was not a failure. Though I did not accomplish the goal of daily writing, I came to the conclusion that writing for writing’s sake is not beneficial to me or a reader. However, I could use some more frequency and consistency here, so I shall strive for a healthy balance between the daily and the once-in-a-blue-moon.

So now it is October. Kelly has already graced our apartment with orange lights, cobwebs, and a glowing (fake) jack o’lantern. I do want to carve real pumpkins in a couple of weeks. Halloween is not my favorite holiday, but it’s always nice to make the most of the season, right? And since we don’t have cooler temperatures and colorful, crunchy leaves (not that I mind the late arrival of summer weather), we have to mark October in some way.

Ooh, that reminds me….. I need to find me a jug of apple cider. :)

September 24, 2010

thumbelina

 

I just planted something outside… took part in the activity commonly known as “gardening”….. dirt, water, roots, the whole deal.

 

Shocking, eh? I started the cilantro from a seed kit, compliments of Target’s dollar spot. Perhaps if you’ve been reading my blog forever and a day, you remember previous seed kit attempts (resulting, of course, in failure). But something blessed these little cilantro seeds, and they began to reach toward the sunlight from their little window sill perch.

But my trip to Ohio left them without adequate water. I returned to find shriveled leaves and a few pale green shoots barely hanging on for dear life. As a life-saving measure, I transplanted them (and a few extra seeds for a better “round two”) to the little flower bed outside. Now I must overcome out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome and remember to water them. And if I am successful, my reward will be a delicious harvest of tasty goodness.

September 23, 2010

return of the

It’s obvious that i did not achieve my goal of daily blogging this month. This is due to the uncontrollable circumstance of not having computer access during the Ohio trip. It is also due to the very controllable circumstance of laziness as I settle back into the daily groove.

But Ohio was good. My friend, Angela’s, wedding was of course beautiful. The festivities were held at a golf course near Cincinnati, and being outside in the nice, warm weather (take note, So Cal) was lovely. The air smelled sweet as fall settled in, and the sunset the evening of the ceremony was gorgeous. Celebrating their marriage was fun!

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Though I often regard Ohio with a sigh and rolled eyes, it’s only fair to note that southern Ohio is really quite nice in autumn. Wooded areas always get my approval, and it’s beneficial to inhale smog-free air. It’s still early, but just a hint of fall colors were starting to emerge. A thunderstorm or lightning bugs would’ve been nice, but a girl can’t be greedy.

ohio ang wedding 014

I also had about 24 hours to see my family, and let me tell you, that time was efficient. I managed to spend time with my parents, Claudia, Aunt Marta, Tom-Sarah-and-kids, Grandma & Grandpa, Aunt Leigh Ann-Brandi-Jessie-Travis, Uncle Keith-and-Kevin, and Aunt Dorothy & Great Grandma. This also included lunch at the “famous” Young’s Jersey Dairy (the best ice cream, and goats!). My five-year-old cousin Jonas lost his first tooth and taught me how to play a hook-a-ring-on-a-tree game, and I met his year-old sister (or is she two?), Hayley, for the first time. I was introduced to their small town’s prized Chinese restaurant, and my grandpa’s fluffball of a dog. I survived a ride in the van as my baby sister drove it. And of course, I pondered the questions of home and family and belonging.

ohio ang wedding 022 ohio ang wedding 023 ohio ang wedding 024 ohio ang wedding 025 ohio ang wedding 007 ohio ang wedding 015 ohio ang wedding 016 ohio ang wedding 017 ohio ang wedding 020

No wonder I was exhausted when I returned to L.A.

And now it is that I am back, picking up where I left off, as the saying goes. Though Tuesday mainly involved watching a movie and napping until my evening class, yesterday was much more normal in the work-gym-productivity way. Tonight’s rehearsal makes way for the this weekend’s production of “Joseph”, and i’ll be back in water for a dive on Sunday. Soon, Ohio drifts into another memory… and I don’t know how I feel about that.

September 15, 2010

greenpeace

My stomach growled as I left the gym, pointing out that I forgot to pack a lunch before i left the house. This was doubly unfortunate, since I wouldn’t be home until after my class ended at 9pm. Thankfully, the gym is conveniently very close to Trader Joe’s, so I could remedy the problem.

As I carried my paper bag out the door (california roll for lunch, chicken salad for dinner), a solicitor stopped me. While it helped his cause that he was young and good-looking, I had somewhere to be and knew I was not interested in joining his campaign. My strategy of politely dismissing him was not effective, however. Explaining I was late for work did not dissuade him. His persistence became irritating, and I patted his shoulder and walked to my car.

The physical contact clearly surprised him. I admit, it kind of surprised me. I’m normally not so gutsy with strangers. But since I possessed enough self-control to keep from saying, “Oh, I thought invading personal space and causing awkwardness is what we were doing here”, it seemed a good compromise.

Pushy storefront solicitors, beware. This newfound strategy might resurface. That is, unless I start carrying a clipboard containing a petition to stop storefront soliciting. I’ll support your cause if you support mine.

September 14, 2010

down and dirty

i got up this morning to go snorkeling with friends, despite needing sleep and time to be responsibly productive. It was a nice swim, and I’m glad we went out. Sure, it made the time crunch later a bit more hectic. Sure, I still have things that need to be finished. But I needed the de-stresser.

After a three-hour class (the making of “Apocalypse Now”. Sigh. I think I hate that movie as much as “House of A Thousand Corpses”. Ugh Ugh UGH.) and an hour and a half in traffic, I was ready to jump back in the ocean. But it was off to the theater instead.

Putting finishing touches on the “Joseph” set was quite therapeutic. We made stalks of corn from pvc pipe and pieces of foam pool noodle wrapped in yellow cloth. Leaves from a fake palm tree were taken apart and became the corn leaves. Add some fake moss and the top tassel from an actual stalk of corn, and you have it. Credit to our director and friend, Ian, for thinking of the pool noodle and fabric.

cornography

Now sleep. Beautiful, beautiful sleep.

September 13, 2010

foolish fatigue

Sugar-free vanilla iced coffee from McDonald’s, two Dr. Pepper’s, and all the sugar packed into a fudge poptart… that’s the necessary amount to fuel a day that covers seven freeways, four cities, and the ability to handle the hottest glue gun known to man after only four hours of sleep.

I will always choose time with a good friend that I rarely see over sleep, especially when the circumstances are so tremendous. I got through church/work (including teaching a class and attending a meeting) and “Joseph” rehearsal with work on the set. But the unfortunate after-effects of consuming a year’s worth of caffeine in a day leave me exhausted yet awake.

Yet, I’ve laughed so much from the loopy disconnect between spine and brain. No matter what, there’s always joy. And there seems to always be love, too. Just in case anyone is keeping track.

September 11, 2010

airport

This seems to be the week of LAX…. I picked up Becca from LAX on Wednesday and will be flying out myself on Thursday. At the moment, I am waiting for a friend to call to say she’s landed, so I can jet out that way and pick her up.

This friend (her name is Lauren) has had quite a month. She has been in the process of adopting a daughter from Nepal for over a year. After finally completing the process, she flew overseas with the adoption counselor and another also-adopting couple to bring the baby home. That was when the Nepali government decided that perhaps they weren’t going to approve the adoptions after all. It’s been a battle since then as they wade through red tape and appeal to U.S. senators for assistance. At this time, their cases are still being processed, but they are allowed to fly back to the States to regroup while the fight continues. So please pray that Lauren is able to bring her daughter home soon. And, of course, if you know anything about foreign adoptions or have some kind of crazy connection with the Nepali government, please help. :)

On another note, thank you guys for your feedback on yesterday’s musings. You made very excellent points that I’ve considered as I consider all aspects of the idea.

Contextually, another factor is that i really just don’t like being vulnerable. And when I do disclose matters close to my heart, I’m choosy about who and when I tell. An open journal entry on the world wide web takes away the control of information. At the same time, I don’t want my writing to be surface level fluff.

Yet, look how my “real life” mirrors this journal. I have good group of supportive friends both near and far. They have encouraged me, laughed with me, and cried with me. And 94%  of the time, I trust them with my heart. It’s the remaining 6% that becomes tricky. Currently, there are things on my mind that I don’t feel able to share with anyone for various reasons. And maybe I shouldn’t- maybe there are some things you’re just supposed to keep to yourself. It’s not a big big deal, so I’ll just pray about it and let it resolve itself.

Lauren called. She’s on the ground, so I’ve got to head to the airport. Talk to you tomorrow.

September 10, 2010

hidden line

Events in the past twenty-four hours have stirred up issues I thought had already been resolved. This made for a challenging day and currently consumes my thoughts. But the personal nature of the emotional storm caused me to question the personal boundaries of an online journal.

Where’s the proverbial line? How much information is too much? With vulnerability comes personal connection and the chance to turn our experiences into something greater than can help someone else in need. At the same time, it’s very clear and much-discussed how the social network age has blurred the standards of self-disclosure. Folks air their dirty laundry with pride, resulting in entertainment, mockery, and sometimes even growth and support.

I don’t know how to decide. I don’t know the complete scope of my readership. You’re a small group, but there are cans of worms that I don’t have the energy to open in the event that someone dear to me takes something to heart. I’ve seen molehills erupt into mountains and these days, I prefer to chose my battles wisely. (p.s.- can I possibly fit more clich├ęs into such a small space???)

Perhaps it would be clearer if my blog had a specific purpose…. how to get the best deals from coupons or tasty recipes or simple ideas to save the earth or book reviews or traffic reports for dogs or something focused with direction. But that’s a)boring, b)done better by others, and c)not true to my style. I started this as a mass email of sorts- a way to keep up with my scattered loved ones (in the days before facebook). It was also a good way for me to keep a record of life happenings while keeping the writing skills flowing. While my ego would love to regularly publish something worthy of public interest, I’m simply not that interesting.

I might be, if I wrote the matters near and dear to my heart. But my hesitancy to be vulnerable combined with cautionary measures to avoid unnecessary life drama suppress that kind of true journaling. And it brings us back to THE question: where are the boundaries? What is a healthy level of disclosure? What criteria help guide subject matter and which details to include?

The answer is unclear to me. Thoughts welcome- from those who blog and those who read. We can discover together. Isn’t that the purpose, after all?

that month

Remember the “One Month to Live” book? Did anyone ever notice that I quit mentioning it? That’s because I didn’t finish it. I lost interest as it got a little too “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and just rehashed things I already knew. It’s not a bad book, and if you’re looking into stepping up your lifestyle it could be an nice, light read. But I moved on to the next thing (which happened to be a biography on Jane Goodall, books on sharks and local marine life, and another book about dragons).

I was fortunate to spend the day with Becca. We discovered a lovely cafe in Venice with spectacular watermelon rosemary lemonade. We walked to the boardwalk and picked up some incense (i’ve been meaning to do that). We also had dinner at Ports O’Call followed by drinks at a local bar/brewery followed by Becca’s homemade chocolate chip cookies with Theo chocolate (Theo = organic fair-trade chocolate factory that employs my sister). It’s been a lovely day.

September 09, 2010

non-post

The most significant thing that happened today was disappointment. But since it involves another person who reads, and who knows many of my readers, it doesn’t seem right to publish the details. Especially since the issue is unresolved.

But I couldn’t let the matter grow even worse by allowing it to disrupt my daily September blogging. So regardless of having nothing good to say, at least this marks the occasion.

They say friends are the family you choose. I think it’s also key that they choose you. There’s also a line in “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” about theater being a home for all kinds of orphans. This refers to dysfunctional family. 

Meanwhile, my mom deserves mad props for harvesting corn from a field and mailing it to me for the “Joseph” set.

At least my house is clean.

September 07, 2010

island in the sun

Lately, many people in my life are experiencing great sadness and trials. Divorce, illness, death, and more drag them through emotional turmoil and leave them clinging to God with their last bit of strength. Though I am in a very blessed season of life, my heart is still heavy for them. There are times when i weep with them. But i am sometimes privileged to carry joy for them when they have none left. They have done the same for me, when it was my turn to walk through the valley of the shadow. The love, prayers, hugs, smiles, and even laughter from someone who cares are truly sunbeams through a dirty window.

During a past dark time of my own, a friend gave me a flower. I’m not certain they were aware of my circumstances and feelings. But that single gesture of kindness represented in colorful, fragrant flower petals changed my entire day. It didn’t eliminate sadness or reverse circumstances, but the simple gift contained hope.

That’s where the miracle exists. Not that we are protected from ever having to experience the bad, but that it’s possible to have joy in the midst of so much sorrow. It’s like stumbling upon an oasis while stranded in the desert. Except it’s no coincidence. We are guided to that oasis. Sometimes it’s a direct encounter with our Heavenly Father, and other times He works through someone here on earth. Do you need joy in this season? (If you do, call me! I love you!) Or are you willing to carry joy to someone in the valley?

September 06, 2010

deep escape

Where is that scripture that says “I could go to the ends of the earth or the depths of the sea, and You’d still be there”? I know I am paraphrasing, which makes it hard to search for the exact verse. Do you know where it is?

That’s the phrase that went through my mind as I cruised over rocks covered with urchins and ochre sea stars this morning. Anchored by kelp, I floated along with the flow of the surge, in synchronized dance with senoritas and opal eye. There are no to-do lists under the water. There is no drama among the rocks and kelp. Animals behave logically, with no ulterior motives. The only sounds are the clicking of rocks under the waves and the crash of the same waves baptizing rocks on the surface.

All while escaping the craziness of life on land, God is still very present. We are often aware of the Creator’s presence in nature, but there is also a deep peace there. Somehow, God is as close(r) in that freezing, salty water as in a church sanctuary.

thirst

Is it bad that I just submitted a picture of my father to the people of walmart site?

Most of the day was spent at the theater, working on props and other helpfulness for “Joseph”. Occasionally, I got to step in for some blocking. This is like giving a bread-and-water prisoner a taste of Thanksgiving dinner, but only a few small bites. I’ve also caught myself playing songs over multiple times in order to learn them. Is it normal to subconsciously teach yourself new material?

I know I’m being unnecessarily dramatic (there’s irony), as I’ll be learning the Christmas show in about a month. And with all the changes of a a new job and such, I would not have been fully committed even if i WERE in this show (which I would’ve been, if I didn’t already have plans to be out of town during opening weekend. For the record, attending a close friend’s wedding is much more a priority). But it’s the same feeling I had when we moved to a new town in junior high that didn’t have a theater program until high school (that summer I met the high school director and begged for audition info to treat my “theater deprivation”. he was amused and cast me as a freshman). It’s the feeling I had when I could not manage to do shows at APU due to my work schedule that allowed me to afford to attend a school to study theater. And that feeling remained after graduation until I joined Masquer last year. I know the feeling, and I know the solution is to rehearse and perform. It’s in my blood.

September 05, 2010

post midnight

It still counts as “today” since I haven’t gone to bed yet.

Here’s a picture of the side of our fridge:

chalk art and stuff 029

It’s my tally system of identifying fish from dives. The orange one is garibaldi, and the other orange one with blue spots is what it looks like when it’s young. The black-stripey one is a tree fish, though the verdict is still out on whether or not i correctly identified it. The blue whale is more artistic since we saw those from land after the dive. Can you tell the difference between the angel shark and the shovelnose guitarfish? They’re cousins. And obviously, none of these are drawn to scale.

Also in the realm of randomness, this is what is in my head, compliments of Roommate Kelly:

And I think that’s enough for today.

September 03, 2010

floja

I am ashamed to admit how much laziness i am exuding today. It’s almost as if random productive tasks are wrapped in cozy nests of pure, unadulterated lazy. My “Saturday’s” come at various times during the week, depending on work tasks and other scheduled events. I suppose, instead of feeling guilty when I’m not constantly rushing about some nonsense, I should cherish the downtimes before life gets hectic again.

Which will be soon.

I was pleasantly surprised to recently find out that my sister, Becca, will be visiting next week. And a few days after she leaves, I’ll be attending a wedding in Ohio. And the Masquer show will open. And school work will pick up. Then I’ll be planning a couple more church events, and then the holidays (which we all know is another beast entirely). So surely my current snail’s pace is justifiable, right?

Sometimes, I truly don’t know if my schedule is balanced. I hate to admit that, as it borders on the fuzzy line between reality and the occasionally distorted perception of bipolar disorder. Even admitting that fact is embarrassing and awkward. Who wants to broadcast to the world that they are crazy? But if anything, my writing here will be honest. And honesty seems to be one key to dealing with the disorder- whether by communicating to others what’s going on inside my brain or by the extended process of dealing with it all. And since this process produces the degree of normalcy we all know and love, I declare it a good thing.

Until then, I feel guilty and lazy if I’m not always doing something productive. And I’m unsure if that’s a healthy indication to get my butt in gear or a ridiculous notion I should discard.

In the meantime, I think I’ll log off and finish my library book about dragons. i’m pretty sure that’s a fair compromise between busy bee and sloth. Somehow.

seven minutes

Day two of the daily blogging, and I almost forgot-again. So I have seven minutes to write and post- and that’s all you get for now.

Absolutely nothing eventful happened today. Perhaps this is why I don’t write daily. I wrote the singles’ conference spot first thing this morning, attempted to visit the chiropractor at the school health center, but due to a scheduling mistake that didn’t happen.

I was determined not to waste gas on a failed errand, so I drove to Trader Joe’s and the the gym. That’s right, in addition to regular grocery shopping, I decided to join the gym. It’s going to be tricky financially, but I am hoping that regular yoga classes with help my back and reduce the need for the chiropractor and scheduling mistakes.

The rest of the day was filled with working from home, a nap with Tootsie, and teaching Kelly how to play Phase 10.

11:59pm! Must post! Tomorrow is another day, with something more fun for me to write and you to read…..

September 01, 2010

septiembre

Today, I decided to blog daily during the month of September. Then I almost completely forgot about it until just now, a mere forty minutes from midnight. As usual, procrastination motivates me- I should be working on a spot for work that’s due tomorrow.

It doesn’t help that it’s advertising a single’s event. After a day of constant “going”, all my fingers want to type is, “Tired of feeling pathetic while all your friends get married? Come join the handful of remaining loners in this city and wallow in all the different aspects of single life. Nowhere else can you feel so alone in a room full of people! Besides, we know you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night!”

Of course, this is so not what the event is about (and my blog does not express the opinions of my employer, etc etc). And I’m not really THAT bitter about being single. I would just rather be winding down than being creative, and I express this through ridiculousness.

*Pause to pet Kelly’s dog, Tootsie, who is currently saddled with the cone of shame.*

So where did all the energy go? The night is still young, after all. Hmm.… washed car, CVS, auto insurance office, Wal-Mart, theater work evening, traffic, home. Yeah, it must’ve escaped somewhere in there. Now that I get paid once-a-month, I find the “list” of needed items and errands piles up and culminates in first-of-the-month madness.

*Pause to adjust to the sudden presence of Tootsie on my lap and cone of shame obstructing my view of half the computer screen.*

School’s back now, too. Each class is only once a week during this semester. This means easier to schedule work, but longer class sessions and a bit more homework. It also means that a week’s worth of class time is squeezed into one day. My professors seem cool- both adjunct and working in the industry. Already there is personality in both teachers and fellow students. In one short week, I have discovered that “Apocalypse Now” has replaced “Citizen Kane” as my absolute most-despised movie, that my four most favorite movies (Wizard of Oz, Girl Interrupted, French Kiss, and Jurassic Park) contain the common theme of navigating a new world in search of home, and that while learning my classmates’ names is important, it is not nearly as fun as silently referring to them as “Rachel from Glee”, “Old Urine Man”, or “Glasses Dude”.

*Pause to remove Tootsie and Cone from resting directly on my typing hands and completely obstructing my view of the screen.*

*Pause to wonder how Cone Tootsie is even remotely comfortable with head/cone now resting in the crook of my elbow.*

*Pause to wonder how long I’m going to sit hunched over like this to reach the keyboard and accommodate dog, especially since I’m prolonging my work time by blogging instead of writing my spot.*

*Overcome by fatigue, responsibility, and pity for Conehead, pause to post entry, finish spot, and sleep.*

August 28, 2010

spattering

The highlight of my day was sprawled out on the couch with Tootsie, watching Will&Grace while feasting on blue corn chips and m&m’s. This also represents the low point of my day.

Though standing at the checkout at Target while another customer argued with the defensive employee over a receipt was a close second. It gave me time to muse/fume over yet another reminder that national chain department stores operate by “seasons”, despite the fact that our large nation has varying seasons per region. Southern Californians will still want summer items in August (sarcastic gasp), while I bet a girl in North Dakota will be desperate for and unable to find a hat and mittens in March.

Another low point led me to Target. That would be the moment right after I thought, “gee, i’m glad we have hot water today. this warm shower is nice.” The notion was punctuated by the shower head falling off the pipe and spraying said hot water in all directions.

But enough listing all the reasons i’m cranky today (yes, the list starts with “p”, ends with “s”, and has some “m” in the middle). Let’s think about good things… good things… good things, yeah.

I still need to upload pictures from this year’s chalk contest. Sophia and I didn’t put much preparation into it, and it showed. The drawing turned out ok, but it wasn’t our best work. So we weren’t surprised to lose to much better artists. There was no shortage of fun, though!

Latest dive news: this week’s snorkeling seemed like a bust at first, with nothing but murky water and an obscene amount of kelp. The rock climbing to the site was great fun, and i finally had a chance to explore tide pools. I made friends with a hermit crab who crawled through my hands. But the milestone unexpectedly occurred when we drove down the road. In the not-so-distance, bursts of water shot toward the sky from none other than the backs of blue whales. For the most part, we only saw their backs, but occasionally a nose would rise or a flipper would emerge from the sea. As the sun sank toward the horizon and the air turned chilly, we watched them dance.

August 16, 2010

super

Ah, it feels good to be on the other side of a big event. After being consumed with details for kids’ ministry fun day, I felt more than ready for the day.

Everything went smoothly. The parents at this church are incredibly supportive and proactive- no “drop your kids off for free baby-sitting” here! We have a large number of three- and four-year-olds, so an equally large amount of supervision is most helpful. From 9am to 3pm, kids created puppets and beaded glow-in-the-dark crosses, ran around pelting each other with bean bags and water balloons, fought goliath with mentos and diet coke, crossed a blue tarp “red sea”, and transformed into superheroes for Jesus with their own homemade armor of God. Best of all, they left with smiles and happy parents.

Now I am caught up on sleep and ready to tackle the huge pile of supplies in my office I neglected to put away yesterday. But it will wait until tomorrow, because today is my “Saturday”. I shall clean the house a little, then hang out with friends.

My reading lately has included the daily dose of “One Month to Live”, random devotionals, and novels I’ve collected but hadn’t time to read. A few of these have been started and discarded after a couple chapters. I used to be strict about finishing any book I began. Now, I feel like time is too precious a commodity to waste on mediocre story or slow, pointless plot. Randomly, a couple of these (including yesterday’s Sunday School curriculum) have mentioned Jesus’ healing, followed by the phrase, “your faith has made you well.”

Years of studying the Word and seeing it live have brought me to the conclusion that God heals in accordance to His plan. This may mean a quick, miraculous recovery. Sometimes, the healing is final and a very sick or injured person is restored to eternal pain-free life in heaven. Other times, the healing comes slowly in order to teach a life lesson, reach someone in the course of the journey of suffering, or a variety of reasons only the Lord knows until we understand what He’s trying to say. While our faith and devotion can be a catalyst for God’s hand, the Almighty Creator and Great Physician does not depend on us for power. So when people say, “Just have enough faith and you’ll be healed”, I cringe. I have seen the strongest believers lose the ultimate battle with terminal illness, while folks who barely acknowledge His existence became well. God is not a frivolous Santa Claus, arbitrarily sprinkling various amounts of blessing on the lucky few. There are so many factors in His intricate tapestry of a master plan.

So what do we make of “your faith has made you well”? These words were often spoken by Jesus, who certainly He knew what He was talking about. If it was simply faith that healed, why would these folks need an encounter with Jesus at all? Couldn’t they just believe and *poof * be healed? Or perhaps it goes beyond the physical. Maybe Jesus made them physically healthy, while their faith made them spiritually well? After all, Jesus, the Son of God, understood beyond the people’s limited knowledge of that time period. He knew that the person is body, mind, and soul. And this was a guy who was concerned about the hearts of the people- beyond the chambers, ventricles, veins, and arteries. Could it be that trusting the Messiah and surrendering to His mercy (often publicly, in the midst of less-than-compassionate crowds!) helped make them completely “well”?

As always, I welcome your thoughts on this subject. I’m still working out my understanding of God-details, and am in no way an authority on such matters. It’s a life-long study that we’ve got to work together to accomplish!

August 11, 2010

inspired

After a day of solid work on the kids’ fun day event, I need a break. Especially since the rest of the evening will be spent working on lesson planning and the like.

But I do love my job and am glad to spend my days on projects that matter! :)

If you’re interested in the progress of “One Month to Live”, I have little to report. The past few days have been the typical “connect with people you love, reconcile with those you’ve wronged or who’ve wronged you, etc. etc.”. While this is sound advice and good living, it’s not a new concept.

My friend, Becca, brought up the concept that if you truly had one month left in life, you’d likely not waste it on responsible things, like cleaning, or choose to throw nutrition to the wind and indulge in favorite foods. The book mentions that this is not the point and reminds us that we need to be healthy and responsible. But I think Becca makes an excellent point. The reason we have room in life to focus on all the amazing things is that if we actually had only thirty days, we could throw out the necessary crap that sucks away our time. And facing reality while still attempting “One Month to Live” dries up all urgency that motivates us to change our lifestyle. So far my conclusion is that, while the actions and actively reordering our priorities is excellent, using the “if you only had 30 days to live!!” approach is misguided. But it’s only the 11th… maybe I will change my mind after reading 19 more days…..

On a completely different note, I am compelled to post a couple of things that inspire me artistically. These videos speak for themselves… and I hope I can be as creative in the next year when I begin my production projects for school…

And while we’re on the subject of inspiration….. A recent facebook/twitter post included video of great white sharks shot by a semi-local surfer (the giant boobs were in the background, so we know it was almost to San Diego). A comment from my third-grade teacher (oh, the wonder of facebook) reminded me of a book that really hooked my love of the ocean and desire to swim with sharks.

Shark-Lady

And that title is “Shark Lady” (not Shark Lad, fyi). It was hard to find the old cover, but I remember it very clearly. I should, considering I have read that book at least 17 times, if not more. It’s a little incredible that a children’s biography published in the late ‘70’s could give such enthusiasm to a girl who had never seen the ocean.

And yes, I totally stopped writing and bought a copy of the book for 75 cents on half.com. It deserves a place of honor on my bookshelf- not far from the snorkeling equipment that helps me swim with the fish for real.

August 06, 2010

worth $20?

Another Friday… another farmers’ market day. I spent a whole $20, and what do I have to show for it?

A bunch of carrots, a load of grapes, a head of broccoli, two ears of corn, four ginormous peaches, a bouquet of flowers for the dining room table, and a delicious lunch of Peruvian chicken & shrimp rice (which will also be enough for dinner, ‘cause it’s huge). AND I know everything is fresh, organic, and supporting local farmers.

As a bonus, I stopped at CVS to use an extra-care-bucks coupon and get cash for the market. I spent a whoppin’ $1.17 for a bottle of shimmery green nail polish and a bar of Burt’s Bees citrus and ginger root soap.

Perhaps I’m riding the wave of the early stages of mania, or maybe I’m just in a good mood on the first day of my two-week “summer break” from school. But I am inspired to work on art projects as I put together a mini-vbs fun day for church/work and sew burlap sacks for Masquer’s production of “Joseph”. This morning, something in me decided to create fish out of construction paper and crayons. The side of our refrigerator is now a tally of the creatures we encounter on our snorkeling ventures…. our neighbors under the sea.

Like this guy:

09397

He’s a juvenile garibaldi. Apparently, they lose those spots when they grow up to be the familiar brilliant orange dudes we know and love. But those blue patches actually GLOW…. so beautiful and amazing.

Our church is reading a book called “One Month to Live” by Kerry and Chris Shook. The basic premise is how you would change your life if you found out you only had 30 days left, and why/how to make those changes now. It’s the usual “living life to the fullest” deal, completely with a practical game plan. The book is not bad so far (only on day 6), but I feel like it’s the way I already live. This entire year has been about making each day count and not wasting life on matters of falsely-perceived importance. I don’t know how long my current situation will last, but I feel like I’m on the right course. Though everything seems too good to be true, I trust that it will continue to be an incredible adventure as long as I stick with God’s direction.

Do you feel like that? Or are you restless for something more? Or do you think it’s a bunch of hippy rainbows-&-sunshine idealistic nonsense? I want your thoughts. Seriously… email or use the comments, but please tell me what you think.

July 30, 2010

just a short walk away

Running errands on foot (or bike) is now my preferred method. It burns calories instead of gasoline! And today’s usual bank/post office trip included a bonus- the San Pedro farmer’s market.

Since i’m definitely an atm girl, I have never noticed the front of the bank building. Apparently, they have been here a long time.

farmers market 005

Side note for non-Californians- I know it seems odd that old buildings are of any interest. But so many things around here are modern and new. It’s refreshing to see older architecture and know that parts of town were here so many long years ago. Sometimes it reminds me of the old buildings in Greenville, OH (where I lived during a good part of childhood).

The post office also has that old-school charm. I imagine how this port town used to be back in the day…

farmers market 006 farmers market 008 farmers market 010 farmers market 012 Just out the window, you see the harbor and the incoming cargo ships…

Circling back a few blocks closer to home, I finally experienced the weekly farmer’s market.

farmers market 016For $13, I got two huge, tasty peaches, two large ears of corn, a bag of green beans, and some strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries… and all fresh and locally grown. With the exception of carrots, it seems like we can get all of our produce here instead of at the grocery. Next week, I will probably get a bouquet of fresh flowers, too. :)

farmers market 019 farmers market 017 farmers market 018  Additionally, there were food vendors (I think I’m going to try a Peruvian dish next week), live music, and some crafters. Win!

Of course, after feeling all economical and artsy, I jumped in my car and hung out with a friend at the mall…

July 29, 2010

know your region

There was an exam today in film analysis class. I’ve aced the last two, but blew this one. It’s a consequence I accepted in exchange for going on a “camping” trip with friends, and therefore missing two days of class (I say “camping” because we were pretty much in a house. A lovely air-conditioned house.).

It was worth it though, for the adventure. We went to the edge of California, the Colorado River, in order to float lazily in the current while baking in the desert sun. While one is submerged in said river, it doesn’t feel as if you’re in triple-digit heat- it’s rather lovely. In addition to good times with friends, the river offered a close encounter with a pelican and an opportunity to “visit” Arizona for the first time. However, this opportunity reminded me that swimming in current is much more difficult than, say, a pool. It also showed me that when one is stranded in the desert without any shoes, standing on plants will save your sole (thanks to my friend, Daniel, for this much-needed survival technique).

As beautiful as the desert landscape can be, I was surprised to find it smothering. Usually wide open spaces give one a sense of freedom, but perhaps knowing that a person is not truly free to roam the dry, hostile environment lends more to a sense of captivity. It was easy to see why long-term residents develop a thick skin and tough personality.

Now i sit, grateful for the new adventure, and glad to be back home to ocean breezes. It’s nice to remember the full moon and starlight dancing on the water at night, though.

July 24, 2010

rescue crab 911

This afternoon featured snorkel excursion #3. Kelly, Daniel, and I headed first to Lunada Bay. The steep, sandy path down the cliff led to a peaceful cove full of kelp. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of silver fish in the maze of seaweed, so we regrouped and moved to a different site.

Malaga Cove proved rewarding! The water was pretty clear, and hosted the usual garibaldi and various other fish that i need to learn to identify (garibaldi are easy, because they are bright, bright orange). An angel shark swam right under me, and I followed him for a moment! But as you can see below, he’s pretty tame as far as sharks go….

angel sharkI spied a neat shell, so I dove my deepest yet to retrieve it (about 10 feet- not impressive. but i’m increasing time spent under water and stuff). We examined the shell, and found it empty and perfect. Though I don’t want to harvest the ocean of it’s natural beauty, taking one shell to represent this dive seemed reasonable. So in the goody bag it went as we enjoyed the rest of the dive…. including swimming with a school of at least a hundred mackerel!

I couldn’t find an image of the type of shell, so you’ll just have to imagine that it’s cone-shaped with barnacles and stuff growing on the top, and a swirly underside, pearly and shimmery on the inside.

When we got home, we set our shells on the an empty pizza box on the counter for cleaning later. However, when I stepped out of the shower, I noticed two shells were not exactly where we left them… and they were moving!!

Quickly, I gathered the runaway shells, and little crabs ducked back deep inside (invisible again). After recruiting a gladware container to hold the stowaways, I jumped in my car and drove down the street to the beach. Soon the little guys were safely back in the ocean to live the rest of their long, happy, crabby days.

July 15, 2010

long distance phone call

The other day I called Mamaw (paternal grandmother) to wish her happy birthday. Part of me felt a little guilty that the wishes were belated (in all fairness, it’s tricky to match my west coast schedule with her east coast time zone), but the other part of me isn’t sure that she cared. I’m also not certain the extent of her memory loss.

Mamaw seems to remember the long-term stuff much better than the short-term. At least, pertaining to phone conversations I have with her. I don’t interact with her on a daily basis, and I haven’t been back to Ohio in a couple of years. Sometimes I wonder if she even remembers that we’ve talked at all, and if it even matters that I call.

This particular conversation took the usual cycle- what we’ve done lately, when did I plan to visit, the weather… followed by what we’ve done lately, when did I plan to visit, the weather…. and again what we’ve done lately, when did I plan to visit, the weather… interspersed with slight variations, including Mamaw singing a few bars of an old hymn I didn’t recognize. However, I did recognize that moments like that are precious. I would not forget them.

I was careful not to tell the dog to be quiet this time. During our last conversation, she kept forgetting that I live with a dog now:
me: Yes, I’m hoping to visit in September…. Oh, Tootsie, quit barking at the neighbors!
Mamaw: Why are you calling me Tootsie? haha!

This time, she told me how she celebrated her birthday- with dinner at Cracker Barrel. She remember those events of a few days ago. They were important moments with her family. That’s when I figured that even though she didn’t remember the content of our conversation, I was pretty sure she would not forget that I called. The weather didn’t matter. Neither did my latest version of a busy schedule, or what she did today. What counts is the time connected by a cell phone signal, defying time zones and distance to bring together grandmother and granddaughter.

I told her I missed Cracker Barrel. She said we’ll go when I’m there in September- she’ll start saving her money, she said with a laugh. After we hung up, I decided that I was dragging her to that dear old country restaurant, whether or not she remembers why. A dinner with my Mamaw is long overdue.

July 09, 2010

this entry makes no sense

Often, in the middle of some kind of good life experience, I will think to myself, “i’m gonna blog about this.” Then i become consumed with whatever that bloggable thing was, and forget. Later, I find myself sitting in front of a blank page, wondering why i thought i had enough thoughts of interest to write in the first place.

i’m afraid that will happen with screenplays. i need to write them. i want to write them. but the apprehension of sucking prevents me from jumping in and writing. And it’s odd, because that’s not typical of my personality.

But i’m enrolled in a screenwriting course in the fall, so we’ll end this nonsense right quick!

Meanwhile, life continues to be grand. Challenges exist, but God handles them. i’m learning to chill out and let Him do His thing. For those of you interested in the factual recap, here’s the buzz:

Church work is good. We are putting together vacation Bible school from scratch, to be complete in a month. It’s a superhero theme, and i’m having fun brainstorming the ideas.

I still occasionally write copy for Salem. And i think there’s some sort of clause I have to put on my blogs now about this not being the opinions of the company or some sort of silliness. But i’m pretty sure there is no doubt in anyone (all ten of you reading this) that my affiliation with Salem is barely anything.

The next Masquer show is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. I’m doing some production stuff since i’ll be out of town for opening weekend. I know it’s silly, but i miss rehearsing already. i  want to learn music and blocking and… you know. But i remember that i have a still-new job and school that needs focus.

 

My rambling has just been interrupted by one cuddly dog belonging to my roommate, Kelly. Tootsie has been quite a blessing… i’ve missed having a pet around since Jolie died last year….

But onto happier things. Last weekend I went snorkeling for the first time… and it was incredible. First, the fact that such things are available a mere ten minutes from my front door blows my mind. Second, I am hooked, want to do it again, and realize i am a weak swimmer. This must improve. Third…. so beautiful!! We went over a rock ridge that was covered in purple sea urchins and colorful starfish. There were silver fish… orange fish (garibaldi), and a couple with stripes. And lots and lots of kelp. Also, going in and out of the water involved rocks. Many rocks. Rocks that grab flippers and knock a girl in many directions. Rocks that require a girl to bond with band-aids and neosporin for the next few days…. But I’ll embrace my battle wounds. The scars will remind me of my first time snorkeling ever!!

Ok, you’ve put up with this scatteredness long enough. You’re updated, that’s what matters. i shall demonstrate better writing skill next time. seriously. i promise.

July 01, 2010

have work, will travel

First week of summer semester, complete! Thankfully, this is an entry level course, so taking it during this accelerated semester works well. It’s super easy, and moving any slower so boring….  Then again, maybe that’s my short attention span shouting through the two-hours-daily class time.

I hardly have any right to complain. Since I haven’t yet received my church keys, i’m working from home most days. Today, I had my fill of sitting on the computer, so I packed up my notebooks, hopped on my bike, and rode to the beach.

I hadn’t been to this local beach before, and it’s been years since I rode a bike any considerable distance. But the adventure proved a little easier than anticipated. True to a friend’s description, this beach is a teeny bit ghetto. A narrow wooden footbridge led away from the beachgoers (why were there only children in the water?) to a rocky shoreline. Waves rolled over round stones with a delightfully soothing, almost musical, clacking noise. I climbed over graffitied rocks and under cliffs of layered rock to find peaceful solitude. Perched atop a stone barrier, I overlooked the water and worked on a piece of copy for the radio station. And I couldn’t help but think that no matter how hard they tried, no punk can spray paint the ocean.

cabrillo

Thanks to fresh air, sunlight, sand, and even a nice patch of grass, I finished a major project for church. Thanks to the bike, I exercised and saved gas (and my rockstar parking spot in front of our apartment). This is a beautiful, beautiful arrangement.

June 28, 2010

the real girl

School’s back in session for the summer! The two-week break between terms was thankfully well-timed to accommodate the transition between work at the Fish and the church. Now my schedule is roughly: school in the morning, church work in the afternoon…. and there is also time left to write spots (commercials) for the radio station. Yes, in the week of freedom, I was re-hired. Perhaps I will never escape? But I am happy to be doing something I enjoy with the freedom to work from home.

There is also time to take a break and play with Kelly’s dog, or walk outside, or open a window, or light a candle, or……

I recently saw “Lars and the Real Girl” at Sophia’s house. It had been recommended by multiple friends- for good reason. Ryan Gosling gives an excellent performance, and it’s a fun, quirky film. The best thing was the demonstration of a loving community helping someone heal. At face-value, it’s a response to mental-illness that is rarely seen. Of course, “community” does not have to be synonymous with an entire town. It can be a family, a church, a group of friends….. whoever fills the pool of support. But the same principle applies to all kinds of healing, be it physical or emotional. The power of unconditional love (and yes, the love of Christ) overcomes more than we typically expect. Unselfish acts, like taking a doll to the hair salon, could change someone’s life. Can Will you and I love that simply?

As someone with a mental disorder (or just as an average human being with their fair share of brokenness), I can attest to this truth. Healing is born when God’s love is actively brought to life. The encouraging support comes from family and friends, church and theater, and sometimes even work. All of these hands formed a chain to pull me out of the pit that is depression and continue to guide me toward a better way of living. The moments of listening, prayers, patience during the ups and downs of bipolar cycles, the lack of judgment when I am just plain ridiculous, the generosity when I am in need, and of course the precious times of laughter and joy…. these are gifts to be treasured until the end of time (and perhaps even beyond). I can see my past self, a person who lacked feeling and hope, from my current vantage point- that of a real girl, she-who-is-alive.

June 24, 2010

hidden treasures

One of the joys of the new situation is discovering the neighborhood. It seems that there are never-ending points of interest to find! Of course, part of this could be because I focus on one thing, while oblivious to another. For instance, because I’m usually so preoccupied with wherever it is that I’m going, I failed to notice the coin-operated car wash JUST AROUND the corner from our house. Seriously, it has taken me over two months to register its existence. Moreover, the only reason I recognized it was because I had to slow down to find the driveway to the little smog check place next to it.

However, I feel the reward is in the small-town feel of these locally-owned businesses. When I walked into the small waiting area for the smog check, I was greeted by a very handsome german shepherd. I heard a voice from the next room inviting me in, and then met the owner, a little old man eating his lunch- fresh veggies and some kind of casserole in a tupperware. While he checked my car, I played tug-of-war with the dog in the very simple waiting room- a couch, a small table with a variety of magazines (mostly “Lucky” and “Allure”…..?), and not a single thing hanging on the wall (in the waiting room, that is. In his office, there were pictures of family, and even more pictures of the dog).

Tonight, my friend Leah and I will be checking out another neighborhood gem- Shakespeare by the Sea. I’ve heard of people performing Shakespeare in parks, but recently discovered that they use the small stage in the park down the street that overlooks the ocean. And it’s in my budget (read: free). And with my next paycheck, I intend to check out the Friday farmer’s market down the street… and the local coffee shop….. and so on……

But for now I must return to children’s ministry tasks. In this week before summer semester begins, I have allowed myself to be a little relaxed in my schedule, but starting Monday I will have work, school, and even some writing to do… and it will only happen if I am disciplined. Oh, responsibility…. Can you imagine what my procrastinative younger self would say if she saw me now?

June 19, 2010

sabbatical

So I didn’t mean to take time off of blogging. Yet, it seemed strangely appropriate. It wasn’t like I didn’t have anything to say, but energies were directed elsewhere in the whirlwind of my life.

In the time I’ve been “away”, so much has happened. Since you likely follow my twitter/facebook (and if you don’t, you should ;) ), you know most of this already.

- We completed work and performances of “Risen”, and it continued to be the amazing experience it was in production.
- I moved to San Pedro with my friend, Kelly. We live in a groovy little apartment in a neat neighborhood near the harbor. I see the ocean every day, and couldn’t be happier.
- I finished my first semester back to school. My grades weren’t the “A’s” I desired, but considering that this semester held much transition, I accept that.
- My time at the Fish has ended, and Sunday will be my first day as the children’s ministry director at a local church.

Of course, a zillion moments, large and small, fill the three-month space since my last entry, but I kind of like that they're set apart and unrecorded. It almost makes this transition time a little bit sacred in its own way.

March 23, 2010

if you want me to(o)

By the time I sit down with my laptop, my eyes and my brain have glazed over in a haze. This is inconvenient, because there are usually things that still need done… balancing a check book, applying for a job, finding a decent word for a scrabble game…..

But the days are full and take a lot of energy. In the midst of the up-early-for-school-then-work-and-lots-of-driving, the Easter show is rapidly approaching, homework requires attention, and the various details of moving preparation beg to be completed.

Yup, that’s right… moving. Kelly (new roommate) and I started visiting apartments on Friday, March 12th. On our way into the office of the first place, we realized that we forgot to pray! We decided that we would do that as soon as we returned to the car. In the meantime, we scoped out the exterior of the complex (which was a little bit “eh” but hey, we’re girls on a budget). Our decision was made immediately when we learned their no-pet policy would not work out so well for Kelly’s dog….

After seeking the Lord’s guidance, we fell in love with place #2 near the harbor in San Pedro. The set-up was great, it met all of our needs, and the neighborhood was groovy. Though we tried not to get our hopes up, our prayers became, “please please please please God let us live here!!”

We drove to the third apartment complex with little time before I had to leave for work. We prayed that we would be in and out,    and quickly know if this was a place we should pursue. At the office (that smelled of old lady and cigarettes), we found that the vacant apartment had already been rented. Prayer answered….

Less than 24 hours later, we were approved for the apartment in San Pedro that we love. There was lots of happy squealing and excitement. In fact, there still tends to be happy squealing and excitement…. :) I’m going to live near the ocean… i will be happily squealing on the inside for awhile, I think. When i’m not sighing contently, that is.

So now it’s time to pack and work out all the details of moving…. while still keeping up with homework! Screenplay class is pretty low maintenance, though I have a test tomorrow that requires additional studying….. And the bulk of my drawing projects are done in class- only part of each drawing is done at home. Here are the latest projects in various stages of completion:

 

drawing teapotdrawing flowerdrawing skull

Sorry so dark… cell phone shots. You know how it goes…..

And the show…. I am loving the latest Masquer show, “Risen”. It’s an original piece, performance art based on music. My character is just deeply in love with Jesus. In fact, it sometimes feels like cheating to call it acting, as it is so close to myself. But there are also some healthy challenges, like relating to a piece of cloth and handling a couple of solos. So PLEASE come see it, because I am so excited to show you what we’ve been working on (that’s right, so excited that i allowed that preposition to remain at the end of the sentence).

So while some details of current life are unfinished, i am doing all i can to trust God for each day. My impatient self wants everything to be perfect right at this instant, but a wise Father reminds me that big change would be too overwhelming to happen overnight. So moving in will happen gradually between getting the keys April 1st and after the show closes (the week of the 12th). That the rest of the financial details- like a second job- will happen, but I have enough to keep me going for awhile (and longer, if i make sacrifices).

Dinner time…. more will come… and believe me, at this rate, i have a feeling there will be a lot more to come. :)