December 04, 2011

i am AWAKE

It is midnight. In six hours, I should be out of bed and walking dogs around the block until they are good and empty. We have a special service at church tomorrow, which requires looking nice and being there early to prepare. The kids are dancing and (hopefully) singing, and reciting memory verses. We will have special guests. It’s a big deal.

It would be really nice, responsible, and healthy if I went to bed now- or an hour and a half ago. But i can’t. I canNOT sleep. My mind is awake. I think my body agrees with being awake. There is energy that must be spent.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this is mania. Whee!

I feel like baking cookies. I could work on a screenplay, but I lack focus. Christmas crafting would be lovely, but the results might be sloppy. Maybe I’ll do yoga. If I didn’t have to be up early, the possibilities would be endless. And a small part of my brain still contains the voice of common sense.

And a smaller part of my brain wonders how I could be drifting into manic territory while on the medication. But i don’t stop there long enough to produce explanations. I can let the professionals figure that out. And really, is this too much personal information for a blog?

Meanwhile, let me show you something that Kelly taught me that is super helpful. Basically, you can use a sock to make a good bun, and wearing it overnight leaves curls in the morning:click here for video because for some reason it won't let me embed it.

Also, are you guys loving Pinterest??


I lost track of where I was going with this. Poseidon left the couch, and I followed him to make sure he didn’t mark anything (two days without an incident! woot!). Then, I thought, “Candy Cane Jo-Jo’s sound really good. A couple more wouldn’t be horrible, right? ‘Tis the season, after all….” I suppose peppermint Oreos are not going to help me sleep.

You know, I don’t know anyone else who is bipolar. Sometimes (a lot of times), I wish I did. My friends are amazing and supportive, but what would it be like to know someone who understands by experience?

Tomorrow is our final rehearsal before tech week! This year’s Christmas show is more of a performance art concert with narration surrounding a loose plot. It’s pretty. There are angels. Someone described it as “a breath of fresh air from holiday madness.” And I hope all you So Cal people see it next weekend. It’s fun and it’s free- and it’s good- so there’s not reason not to come.

So let’s recap…. big, important worship service at WorkChurch tomorrow. Big, long, extended rehearsal at the theatre. Plus all the other stuff from school and Christmas prep and life details that require attention. You know what would be a good thing to do? If you you answered “sleep” in a tone that could also mean “duh, stupid”, you are probably absolutely correct.

But I’ll probably do yoga anyway.

November 28, 2011

avoidance is my gift

I moved my laptop to the kitchen table so that the comfy chair wouldn’t be so inviting. Somehow, it’s easier to stay on task in a wooden chair, instead of sucked into facebook and games while curled up in something softer.

Then I made lists. Lists are deceptively procrastinative under the guise of being productive. On one hand, it helps to organize thoughts and priorities. On the other, more honest hand, it helps me put off the more substantial tasks.

Then I made my workstation a little more…. cozy? I’ve ready about bad study habits, and they include making a nest. This is a strategy that i’ve often employed. Just last week, I prepared for a big presentation from my pillow/blanket/couch nest. Everything was in arm’s reach- food, drink, remote controls, laptop, notebook, backpack…. And to be fair, I did accomplish everything by deadline.

Today my kitchen-table-“nest” includes my backpack on the chair next to me, a candle lit in my rainbow mosaic holder, a (now empty) bottle of coconut water, notebook/pen/homework, and Jonah, the neighbor’s fish we are keeping until they return from a trip. As you can see by the fact that I am writing a blog entry, this set-up is encouraging great progress.

Also by my side is a spray bottle of water. This is intended for quick, effective dog discipline. However, it is not always quick nor effective. Sometimes, it is just better to usher all three dogs into my room for some downtime, whether they like it or not.

Yes, I said THREE dogs. We have our own little pack over here. In addition to Tootsie and Yoshi, we have acquired a little man named Poseidon.

 dog christmas 11 025Seen here with Yoshi in a rejected Christmas card photo.

Kelly and I discovered Poseidon while riding bikes through the neighborhood. When attempts to find and reunite him with his family failed, we couldn’t just leave him at the animal shelter to face almost-certain euthanization (at four years old and with imperfect appearance, he was not likely to be adopted when there are so many puppies available). So Poseidon came home with me. When Kelly and Tootsie move out, this will also work out particularly well for alleviating Yoshi’s separation anxiety.

But now I’ve strayed from my nest of procrastination. If you’re really interested in knowing the latest “life updates”, they are as follows:

-School is busy (nearing semester’s end).
-Work is busy (in the midst of holiday season with it’s special services and events).
-Theatre is busy (our show opens December 9th and only runs one weekend. Come see it!).
-Christmas plans are busy (gift preparations take a little longer when your broke (but crafty!) self is making things).
-My family is coming to visit for New Year’s, so there is preparation for that (plus cleaning if my mother is going to see my apartment).

And so it goes. With that, I should post this and actually work on my homework instead of just feeling comforted by its nearby presence. Besides, the dogs are mostly quie- nevermind. i should’ve known better than to type that. Excuse me while I spray a barking Tootsie and rescue an innocent fish from an inquisitive and surprisingly agile chihuahua.

October 19, 2011


Things have been quite… seasonal… lately. I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween, but something has apparently inspired me to embrace the novelty of October (and then November and December, of course).

My name is Malinda, and I have celebrated the fall season in the following ways:

- I pulled out Kelly’s Halloween decorations, and now you can find a big fuzzy spider on the entertainment center, a sparkly ghost on the coffee table, my pumpkin teddy bear on the radiator, a fake-but-lit jack o’lantern on top of the dryer, and orange Christmas lights (Halloween lights?) hanging from the ceiling.

- For editing homework, I chose to watch and evaluate a scene from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It can also be noted that Kelly has a coordinating blanket on the couch.

- Also, we turned off the lights last night, popped some popcorn (on the stove with coconut oil! woot!), and watched Paranormal Activity 2.

- We are burning festive candles and the wax melty things frequently. Not only does this make the house smell all warm and cozy, but it makes me worry less about puppy odors.

- Apple cider has been enjoyed, both chilled and warm in mugs.

- Halloween costume pieces are currently being assembled, and will premiere at a party Sunday evening and again on Halloween night.

- Two pumpkins are sitting on the counter. The plan is to carve them in the next week or so. Though, if they remain uncarved, they can carry over into November, since they’re still all harvest-y and stuff.

- There has been talk of a caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate…. must increase exercise in preparation.

So while I still delight in every summer-y day we receive (thank you, October in southern California!), I shall also revel in the stuff that only comes once a year(ish). We may not have much in the way of color-changing or brown crunchy leaves, but our plants won’t die from frost, either. So as I sit all cozy in my hoodie and fuzzy socks on a chilly evening, I bid you happy autumn.

October 12, 2011

my dog, the devil

“Job” opened! That was the big happening of the weekend. On one hand, tech week and the run of a show are inherently busy- travel to and from the theater, long rehearsals, performances, and after-show meals at Denny’s….

Then there was the added element of opening a show that is completely original and unlike our typical musicals. I was a little bit nervous, but people seem to be liking it. While it is an intense show, the response is encouraging. We have one more weekend of performances, and I really hope that word-of-mouth will continue to bring audiences.

Meanwhile, the world doesn’t stop for a show and regularly scheduled busyness continues. We’ve entered holiday season at workchurch: harvest fest –> Thanksgiving –> Christmas –> prep for next year. It doesn’t sound exciting in writing, but it consumes a good deal of thought/time/energy. There are some really good things happening with our kids though as we’re integrating them into church life as a whole. :)

Yoshi had to get a couple of baby teeth pulled yesterday…. It would’ve been awesome if she lost them naturally like all the others, instead of the $400 way….

Speaking of Yoshi- an interesting thing happened the other morning. It was breakfast time for the dogs, and each of them had food in their own bowls. Yoshi decided that she would rather have Tootsie’s meal, so she growled, threatened, and bullied her way into her bowl. Tootsie just stood by, watching and looking helpless as the puppy  took kibble that was rightfully hers. Nevermind that Tootsie is much bigger and stronger than Yoshi. In fact, if the two ever really fought, Yoshi would be wiped out before she knew what hit her. So why in the world would Tootsie allow her to steal food?

yoshi 007She looks innocent here, but don’t be fooled.

tootsie 011The sweet but mighty boston terrier. 

I know I have Job and accompanying spiritual warfare on the brain. But isn’t that how we react to Satan sometimes? We have God on our side and the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We learn and recite, “Greater is He that is in you”.  And contrary to popular belief, Satan is not the opposite of God. They are not even close to equal. The devil started out as an angel- one of many created beings. You know, the created beings that we’ll be above once we make our way to heaven. Satan’s got an attitude problem and a mean streak that gain attention, but he’s really small potatoes compared to the Almighty Creator who just so happens to a)love us, b)fight for us, and c)fill us with His spirit to pack an even more powerful punch to a pesky devil.

That’s right. God’s got our back. Bring it.



So why do we freak out when temptation and trouble come our way? Why are we intimidated by a devil who growls, barks, and makes noise, but we are more than capable to fight? Has he really convinced our sweet, trusting selves that he can bully his way into our food bowl and take what he wants?

It’s not that easy…. or is it? I know I’ve certainly cowered at Satan’s threats and lies. Perhaps it’s time to remember the proper perspective, regain our rightful place, and reclaim our stolen breakfast.

October 03, 2011

weekend away, now something to say

Our church is building a youth group. As  a congregation of young families, this is the first time there have been students old enough for youth, so we have the opportunity and challenge to start a program from scratch. Exciting! In the spirit of beginning with a solid foundation and creating good things, I was sent to the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego this weekend.

It was fun, as youth workers like doing all the things kids like to do, whether those kids are present or not. So yes, there was Mario Kart and ping pong and a rock wall and a good deal of free stuff (yay free stuff!). Of course there were the standard sit-here-and-learn-stuff seminars, but the big group sessions were a mix of music and worship and dynamic, varied speakers (yes, i said dynamic. and yes, it’s cliche. but it’s also true so go with it), comedy acts, videos, and those shark balloons that look like they’re swimming as they fly through the air (side note: i have been dying to see one of these things in action the minute i saw them on youtube).

Yes, I learned a lot of valuable info that will hopefully be implemented into our program- even beyond the youth room. Also, so many resources were collected that I’m ready to dive into- like curriculum and local service ideas. So my mission was accomplished.

What I wasn’t expecting was the personal stuff that God had planned. As the conference began, I quickly began to suspect I was the only person who attended solo. Anticipating awkwardness and hoping to meet and hang out with new people, I walked into the large main room with strategically designed stage, lighting, and a dj establishing atmosphere. Yeah, pretty much what I expected. Then there was the singing and praise and worship and- that was when God mentioned one tiny little fact-

“You haven’t been worshipping Me.”

me: “Of course I have, silly God. I worship during church every Sunday morning! Ok, so my mind is also on children’s sermons, lesson plans, and meetings, etc… but I also make sure to do some worship and praying in the car on my way there to prepare and make sure I cover my ‘worship quota’.”

God: “Yeah, try focusing right now withOUT those distractions and see what I mean.”

And what do you know- the Almighty God was absolutely correct. And I was glad I was alone while I broke down in tears in actual worship (because we know that if I was with a friend or church person, I would resist vulnerability like a kid rejects broccoli). Then God decided to address a few other issues.

You know when there’s a problem and someone pulls you aside to discuss it away from everyone else? That’s what this felt like. In the solitary confinement of my (quite comfy) hotel room, God talked me through reading, journaling, praying, listening, and addressing the big issues of the past year. It wasn’t instant complete healing- that process with continue to take time- but He demolished a big chunk of the wall I’ve been diligently building around my heart.

me: “So now what, God? We’ve established that I’m quite broken. Doesn’t that make me too defective to properly shepherd the precious young lives at church?”

And so we processed that one together the next day. A couple different speakers referenced the story of the woman at the well, and pointed out that she ministered to her entire town without being completely put together and without understanding all the answers. Furthermore, my experience with the dark struggles of bipolar disorder equips me to handle issues that many youth workers don’t understand or even fear. There’s no  way I could relate to someone who’s stranded at rock bottom if I didn’t reside there myself. But I have to get through to the other side in order for this to happen.

So I was feeling pretty good about things, and caught myself actually thinking (adventurously expectant, even) about the future- something I had previously given up. I felt ready for the evening’s speaker, Jamie Tworkowski from To Write Love On Her Arms. I knew that the subject matter would hit close to home (for the story behind TWLOHA, click here and scroll down). When Jamie said, “I don’t have the answers”, I wanted to say, “But you do!” The common thread between his story, my story, and even the stories of other people is this: when someone is in trouble, it takes a team of support LIVING active love to change or save a flailing life. He and his friends surrounded a girl in need, and took every possible practical step to walk with her to recovery. When I got lost this spring, my family of dear friends held onto hope for me when I couldn’t grasp it. They walked through every practical task, holding my hand to pull me up.

In “Christianese” we call this “being the hands and feet of Christ”. In straight-up English this means love in real-life action. We MUST do this- in ministry and outside the church walls- it’s not an option or going the extra mile. It is a requirement for people to live.

Holy cow, this is longer than intended. If I could, I’d give you a cookie for sticking with me and reading this far. But I had to tell you where I went this weekend. I’m the woman who went to a well for one purpose (youth ministry training), and left with unexpected living water. The only logical thing to do next is share with everyone who will listen.

Oh, and on the last day, I finally met a group of fantastic guys from West Virginia. So I even got to hang out with fun new people. It was worth the drive to San Diego, don’t you think?

September 28, 2011

the normalcy of busyness

The round-up:

Busy is good. Also, it appears that the current medication is actually working. These two elements combine to make something that resembles normalcy.

Busy consists of these things:

Work: October begins “holiday season” at church- harvest festival, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the fun details that go with them.  Additionally, I get to attend the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego this weekend!

School: Nothing super interesting to report, just continuing the production class and the once-a-week-freaking-five-hour-long editing class. I still haven’t regained the enthusiasm I lost in the spring, but I’ll continue to give my best effort until it returns. Could it be that I just need a reminder that I can actually succeed in this industry instead of playing around with an unrealistic dream?

Theatre: “Job” opens next Friday. There’s not a lot of preparation on my part, just attending the final rehearsals and being on hand to run sound cues and the like. I think that makes me a little more nervous that usual. During a typical show, I’m focused on performing (or if not, tech-ing backstage). Now, all I can do is watch and hope the audience likes this project that has consumed our thoughts and energy for the past nine months. It’s not a feel-good musical romp that people are used to seeing from Masquer. It’s wordy. This semi-unfamiliar book of the Bible is not an easy read, so will it be understood when seen and heard? Will everyone zone out during the monologues and miss the message? Will the typical church person who attends a performance be accepting of the creep factor of Satan and his demons? Don’t misunderstand- I believe it’s a good show, and the actors are doing a stellar job with a big script (memorizing the complicated lines is a feat in itself!). And it’s exciting to watch the production unfold from just an idea to reality.

And the rest of it: Yoshi is making regular appearances at the vet this week- first for a bee sting and soon to get some baby teeth pulled before they cause additional health problems. Meanwhile, I’m brainstorming budget Christmas gift ideas, so if you crafty folks have any helpful websites or resources, please let me know. In unimportant time-wasters, Kelly and I diligently watched all 157 episodes of Desperate Housewives (from season one until the most recent) in preparation for this current (and final) season. The amount of time devoted to this project was both sad and amazing.

Overall, the fact remains that i’m still in a recovery process from the crash in the spring, and recovery is slow. But the normalcy of busyness seems like a good sign of hope quickly approaching on the horizon.

September 08, 2011

when i quit writing

There was so much I wanted to tell you, but I just couldn’t. Blame it on being busy, blame it on still trying to find the right balance of medication, blame it on the cycle that leads to depression, or blame it on laziness, if you want. But i just couldn’t write.

If it makes you feel better, my paper journal isn’t seeming much action these days, either. So you shouldn’t take my neglect personally.

I wanted to tell you about our kayaking trip in Long Beach. We swam with moon jellies and with my dive mask I could look at them from underneath (don’t worry, they don’t sting). The paddling back was quite a test of endurance, and God basically cleared His almighty throat and reminded me the truth in many of Paul’s letters. Endurance is not easy, but it’s necessary. As much as I want to give up  when everything seems hopeless, i canNOT stop paddling. One stroke at a time- even if it feels like there’s nothing left- but stopping is not an option.

moon jelly

In other animal news, I also wanted to tell you about feeding giraffes at the San Diego Zoo with my cousin, Bethany. Being so close, being seen by their big, kind black eyes, and touching their soft noses was a little bit amazing.

giraffe feeding

If entries were posted regularly, you would hear about the progress of of “Job” (we open in four weeks!), creating a Butterbear the Wuzzle costume for an 80’s cartoon party, my friend giving birth to twins, and Yoshi learning how to give high-five. There’d be stories about playing laser tag with church kids and dropping my phone in a toilet. I’d tell you how, after reading Ezekiel 46, I wondered if we’ve gotten the Sabbath all wrong. We think it’s all about what we DON’T do, that we forget the importance of what we DO. Not only do most of forget to even observe a Sabbath each week, we miss the point entirely. Yes, it’s about rest. But should there also be an element of honoring God or worship or something? I’m not sure what this actually looks like in “real life”, but back in the day, there was a lot of directions for how to worship. I wonder how that transfers to here and now.

Then, I might mention that the school semester has begun. I’m taking one production class and a (five-hour-once-a-week!!!) editing course. And for some reason, I’m not as enthusiastic about it as usual.

But maybe that’s because it feels like someone turned on a faucet of sadness, and then it got stuck. Trying to remember that “this, too, shall pass” is a little bit difficult when it takes every smidgen of energy to complete basic routine tasks. And that leaves very little inspiration to write. Besides, even if I am stuck in a cycle of ups and downs, that doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear about it. You can only watch the carousel turn so many times before you tire of seeing the same horses over and over and over again.

August 07, 2011

everything and nothing

When August arrives, it feels like the beginning of the end of summer. While we still experience warm weather well into October and beyond, when fall semester begins there is less time for summer activities. So while I still have three weeks left, it seems as if summer is almost finished.

I had a few goals for this time. Most of it was taking life slowly for a little bit, but I did want to learn to surf, go out on more dives, and get down to my pre-medication weight. I suppose there’s no official deadline for these things, but in three weeks I will return to the regular rush of work+school+theater+life in general.

But the slow days are not a waste. It’s important to me to make each day matter. If I close my eyes at night without accomplishing something worthwhile, it’s as if I’ve carelessly thrown away my day. This week, that has been in the form of adventurous bike rides around the neighborhood, teaching Yoshi new tricks, and watching Desperate Housewives on Netflix between workchurch tasks.

There a few things i can't (or shouldn't) share in a blog:
- details of daily bipolar struggles
- fights with family or friends
- issues i'm working out in therapy

That leaves little else to say for now. Lately, my life has been about the moments- like tasting a perfectly ripe peach from the farmers market or feeling the damp, clear air when I take Yoshi out first thing in the morning (or running from lawn sprinklers when I take her out for the last time at night). Then again, those are the moments that get lost in the shuffle when fall returns. Perhaps I should treasure them while I can.

July 26, 2011

it’s no wonder

Everyone knows the difficulty of returning to work after a long weekend. And I suppose I have no reason to even compare my flexible schedule with any 9-to-5-er’s. But that’s the only explanation i have for my scattered lack of discipline and motivation today.

We had a busy weekend celebrating Kelly’s birthday. On Saturday, we checked out the L.A. Zoo. There we met Reggie, the alligator.

catalina 002I admire Reggie for his escapism skills and spirit of independence. A few years ago, he was spotted in a pond at a local park. He eluded capture many times, to the point where the city was calling experts, like Steve Irwin (who sadly died right before his trip to L.A.). When Reggie was finally caught, he was moved to a lovely home at the zoo- where he promptly escaped again. Seriously, I would love to have seen the look on the face of the zoo employee who discovered Reggie’s absence. As you can see, he was found and returned to his lovely zoo home, where he gets thousands of admiring visitors. And I think there’s even a children’s book about Reggie….

Sunday was a typical work day, with duties at church followed by a picnic with a neighboring congregation. Then I headed to Anaheim to attend rehearsal for “Job”. This was the first time seeing the staging since the initial table read. It’s amazing to watch actors breathe life into a written script. I’m very excited about the project and honored to have such a role in its production.

Yesterday was another first. Thanks to a fantastic deal on groupon, we took a boat to Catalina island!

catalina 014

Catalina is about 25 miles from the “mainland”, and you can see the outline of its mountains from our coast on a clear day. The main tourist-y town is called Avalon, and hosts shops and restaurants, as well as a theater and churches. People do live over there, so there is a school, golf course, and other life necessities. It reminded me of Lakeside, the little resort town on Lake Erie where we attended church conference each year- only this was Lakeside amped up quite a few notches.

On our day trip, we explored the area with a golf cart, swam a little by the beach, and had a tasty meal. One of these days we’ll come back for a weekend, and bring our snorkel gear. The water was so clear that while standing on shore, you could see the orange garibaldi swimming around. Also, there is a massive zip line that is begging me to try.

So now it’s back to summer as usual. I still have mixed feelings about the amount of free time during summer break for school. I feel like I should find a new writing project or something, but wonder if that defeats the purpose of slowing down until fall semester begins….

July 20, 2011

dog days aren’t over

Where is the line drawn between nurturing your dog and spoiling them?

A quick trip to the pet store today yielded a bag of food (plus samples! Centinela Feed & Pet Suppies has the best customer service!), two edible nylabones, and one durable nylabone. Why I didn’t get one more baffles even me. Of course, it only took Tootsie five minutes to devour her edible bone, with Yoshi clocking in at twenty minutes. I busted out the durable bone, and immediately remembered that these pups don’t like to share. There was only one reasonable course of action.

I walked to the store.

Nevermind that I’m still limping from a twisted ankle (slippery post office marble stairs + biking home + klutzy me). It didn’t matter that I’d already spent money on these creatures, or  that they already have existing toys. It was imperative that they weren’t fighting over the same new toy.

And that is how I found myself walking out of CVS with a “ruffin’ it DuraBone rubber dental toy.” Surely this would satisfy Tootsie, the Boston Terrorist and her sidekick, Yoshi the Young, for at least a few days.

I made a pit stop at Yum Yum Donuts on the way home. Just one soft donut sounded like heaven. And hadn’t I been burning calories through these walking errands? A family of three adults was in front of me, carefully selecting their variety of donuts through a rapid conversation in Spanish with the donut lady. During that time, I thought it wise to make my fat-filled choice to speed things up when it was my turn. That’s when I saw it- The FLY. It landed right next to the glazed-with-chocolate-icing I was carefully considering. That was the moment I turned right around to exit this house of sinful delights. Donut craving successfully eliminated.

I walked in the door, somewhat satisfied with the healthiness of my choice (as if I were strong-willed enough to resist temptation instead of just grossed out by unsanitary food). I unwrapped the precious new DuraBone, glad I had reached a canine compromise.

Seven minutes later, I was fishing rubber pieces out of Yoshi’s mouth and collecting the chunky remains of the so-called “Dura”Bone from Tootsie’s jaws of doom. So now we are back to sharing the original bone… at least until they destroy that, too.

And on that note, shall we end with a Plinky prompt?
“If you could banish any one person from your life, who would it be? Why?”

First impression: This is a cruel question.
Second impression: People are too precious to even consider this.
Third impression: Satan is the easiest answer. He’s a punk and screws up everything he touches. But Satan isn’t a person. So…. I got nothing. If I’ve learned anything from my recent drama, it’s that people are in our lives for a reason. I thought that other people’s lives would be better if I wasn’t in them, but that doesn’t seem to be the correct answer, either. The challenges now can change in a heartbeat. Maybe the question should be, who are you glad you included in your life?

July 18, 2011

day trippin’

Plinky's prompt today say, “Describe the longest road trip you’ve ever taken.”

Since moving to the west coast, i’ve driven to San Diego, Laughlin, Las Vegas, and the Colorado River somewhere near Arizona (I didn’t actually drive, so I paid little attention). While all of these were long treks through the desert (blah,desert), They were not as long as the vacation road trip we took as a kid.

The memories are a little hazy since it was so long ago, but it started with a Mickey Mouse figurine hot-glued to the top of a plastic blue Kraft Cheese Singles box. This was representing the money we were saving to go to every kid’s dream destination- Disney World. It was my life goal to ride the “Dumbo” flying elephant ride (though for most of childhood, I thought that the flying elephant ride at local kiddie fair, Fantasy Farm, was just that).

The preparations for the trip helped amp the excitement level. Mom and Dad were actually quite wise as they anticipated the long hours spent in the minivan. They gave each of use a suitcase to fill with things to do. Some of these things were snack or new toys & books we weren’t allowed to touch until we were on the road. I got the farthest back seat in the van, while Becca settled in the middle. We had plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the hours down I-75.

We visited relatives in Kentucky, Rock City in Tennessee, stopped at a hotel in Georgia, and finally made it to Orlando.

photo_lg_kentucky see rock city 

We stayed in a hotel that was designed with kids in mind, and Mom and Dad left us at their kids club a couple of times while they had grown-up time. We also checked out Universal Studios, where we discovered after my freak-out on the Back to the Future and the Earthquake rides that I was slightly claustrophobic (lame, I know). I was disappointed that the E.T. bikes didn’t actually fly, but the King Kong ride was intimidatingly cool. Also, Dad roped us into filming a Star Trek episode. Yes, somewhere in this world there is video evidence of my in a Star Trek uniform and fake typing on the U.S.S. Enterprise (if I remember correctly, my shirt was red. I should’ve taken that as the first warning sign). As a consolation for tolerating Star Trek exploitation, we also got to check out Nickelodeon Studios.

universal-studios-orlando-9 nickelodeon-studios-old-school-nickelodeon-4105281-278-424

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. I don’t remember much of our day at Disneyworld at all. I know it rained. We went on the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea subs, and I was disappointed  that the fish and sharks were styrofoam. I don’t remember riding Dumbo, but I do know we walked though Toontown and met Mickey. My sister made a gift for him, a yarn necklace. We rode Space Mountain and saw the Haunted Mansion. This is all I can remember about the biggest vacation of our childhood, despite being ten or eleven years old. This slightly concerns me.

disney world

On our way back home, we stopped at the beach. We thought we’d got to Daytona beach, but a little car race halted those plans…. So we drove up the coast a little way, and might have stopped in North Carolina. I’m not entirely sure. But it was my first time seeing the ocean- ever. And I loved it even then.

north carolina beach

So there you have it. Biggest road trip ever (for little me), through seven states and hitting some pretty big destinations.

What’s your favorite road trip memory? I really want to know!

July 15, 2011


Remember week-long Vacation Bible School? The games and crafts, the songs and stories…. it was the staple of every summer. It’s also been the focus of my week. It’s a little different from the adult perspective. There are so many details that need covered, you often forget about all the fun stuff. Almost. A quick game of “Spud” with some 2nd-graders, or pelting the kids with some marshmallows during the skit will quickly remind a person about the joys of VBS.

Of course, there is real joy in finally sleeping in tomorrow morning as well.

As you’ve probably heard on the news, they’re closing a major freeway tomorrow. Everyone is all worked up over the inconvenience and the prediction of traffic nightmares.My big plans this weekend involve staying home. I have a hunch that the traffic won’t be as bad as expected, except the immediate area of the construction. We’ll see if the media is blowing yet another minor event way out of proportion…..

In other news….. wait, I don’t really have other news. Life is pretty quiet right now, especially with no school during the summer. My friend, Lara, and I had a girls’ night in Hollywood that was super fun (yes, I did just use the phrase “super fun” and mean it). We got all dressed up, had dinner at Katsuya (Japanese) on Hollywood and Vine, then saw the opening of “Shrek the Musical” at the Pantages Theater. The musical was cute, and I love just being in old theaters (it’s second only to performing in old theaters!). There were even paparazzi and celebrity sightings. Every now and then, it’s fun to feel a little bit glamorous.

I feel like I’ve reached a rut in my blogging as summer is relaxingly slow. So I’m going to try using blog prompts to add a little substance to my writing. I’d love to hear your feedback on this! Especially from fellow bloggers! So here goes my first prompt from a site called Plinky: Have you ever lived outside the country of your birth? If not, would you consider living anywhere else?

Ok, so first things first. I couldn’t help but edit the crappy grammar of their posted prompt. A site for writers should be a little more thorough about these things, don’t you think? But no, I have never resided outside of the United States. In fact, i’ve only stepped on one foreign soil, and that was during summer mission trips to Ecuador in high school. I would love to revisit Ecuador, and one day when there is adequate funding (you know, after I repay dear aunt sallie mae for all those student loans), I would love to travel overseas. Europe… Australia… Kenya…. even Mexico or Canada would be interesting. Also, I would love to see somewhere tropical…. But would I actually want to settle in and LIVE in any of these places? I’m not sure. It’s a difficult call to make without actually visiting them yet. But based on current knowledge and current circumstances, I have no desire to live anywhere else than where I am right now.

This is quite a significant statement. As a girl who’s moved around her whole life (i suspect my genetics are a mix of yeti and gypsy, but that’s another story), to actually want to remain in one place is kind of a big deal. This present living situation is a mix of urban with small town. I can bask in nature yet be conveniently close to pretty much everything in the city. I’m only twenty minutes from downtown L.A. and can bike to the ocean. A beach day or free-diving can happen before or after work. There are mountains not far away, and job opportunities in a field I love. God has really blessed me here, and I am in no hurry to give up these things.

What about you? Do you like where you live, or do you dream of something better?

July 07, 2011

pieces of random from a scattered mind

I know I’m supposed to be taking a slower pace than usual this summer. But, sometimes it feels more like “lose a turn” than “take a rest”. Years of trying to stuff every moment with something worthwhile created a habit of busyness that’s hard to break, and so much downtime makes me feel lazy.

However, the lack of so many pressing deadlines is starting to grow on me. Having flexibility in my schedule is pretty fantastic. Perhaps I could get used to this slower pace lifestyle. Maybe.

So far this week, I’ve done my usual tasks for WorkChurch as well as coordinated and directed rehearsals for the VBS skit team. Household chores are mostly accomplished, and I even rode my bike to complete errands in the neighborhood this morning. As a bonus, we had a holiday weekend to enjoy with good friends and fun. So even when I’m “lazy”, things still happen.

God has been blessing me financially, too! Despite all of the challenges of 2011, He has provided above and beyond my needs… and even some of my wants! I figure since I share my challenges here, it’s only due credit to share the victories in life as well. So here’s a long-distance high five to heaven!

When June is over and July arrives, I start to feel like summer is slipping away. I realize this is silly when you live in a perpetually warm climate, but it’s still true. Before this summer ends and fall semester of school begins, I want to learn to surf or maybe to paddle board. This is in addition to getting back into the water for snorkeling/free-diving. Sunday was my first dive of the season, and while it was a good refresher, I didn’t see a single fish. This was due to my new mask fogging up, and my out-of-practice-ness limiting my time underwater. Now that the weather is consistently warmer, I aim to have more respectable results to share in the near future.

So there you have it, random excerpts from my scattered mind. I think I need to find some blog prompts. Or do you have any ideas? What would you like to read from me? If you leave a comment with a question or topic, this could be fun. It can be silly, serious, informative, or random, and I will respond honestly. Help my blog stay interesting…. ready…. go…..

June 29, 2011


Yoshi has moved beyond potty-training to obeying other commands! We can now “sit” and “stay”, and are working on “lie down”. I have a few fun commands I want to teach her, and am still trying to figure out how to train her to do something useful, like make me breakfast.

In other news, I am officially on summer break for school! I tried to take an intro-to-acting course, but my work schedule would have caused me to violate the attendance policy. And since there are no other classes available that I actually need to take, I’m off until fall semester! This threw me for a loop at first, because of the details of student loan deferment. But, as usual, God worked out the details and gave me a couple of months without classes or homework.

Additionally, my theater involvement is a little less demanding for this show. The Job script is written, and now I’m available for any necessary rewrites between now and opening night. I’ll still be on hand for set construction or other needs, but since I’m not part of the onstage cast, my rehearsal schedule is quite flexible. Could it be possible for me to live a slower-paced lifestyle this summer?

My first instinct was to say, “Now I have time to ______”, and fill that blank with a number of activities I’ve been wanting to do but lacked the time. These include playing my guitar, painting, or other acts of creativity…. or take a yoga class at the studio down the street… or more beach bonfires… or audition for another local theater group…. or catch up on reading… not to mention diving and hiking and such. But, I at least have the presence of mind to realize that is not a good way to “slow down”. So not planning these things, but leaving room to do most of them spontaneously is my best attempt at a balanced lifestyle.

Until then, I do still have workchurch (with upcoming Vacation Bible School) to keep me busy. I don’t know why I seem to require “busyness”, and I really don’t know how to NOT overload my schedule with activities. But I’m going to try- truly give an honest effort- to at least use the summer to attempt this. Meanwhile, how do YOU keep from being too overloaded, stressed, or busy? Suggestions are welcome!

June 24, 2011


Being a film student means that final exams go beyond a written test and require a project. This means that “finals week” is actually two weeks to include filming, editing, and studying. Luckily, these are things I enjoy doing. However, it still makes for a crazy couple of weeks spent juggling schedules like tetris pieces, trying to fit all necessary tasks and deadlines into measly 24-hour days.

Thankfully, my reward for accomplishing this (with A’s in both classes, in case anyone wondered :) ) was a visit from my lovely cousin, Bethany!

Bethany had never been to California, so I gladly took the opportunity to make sure all essentials were covered. Of course, the best part was spending an entire week with her! But if these mad tour guide skills intrigue you, I’d be happy to share them with you on your next visit to Los Angeles.

Here are some of the highlights:

-Driving down the coast for a beautiful view of the sun setting over the ocean.

- Bethany got to experience a typical Sunday in the life-of-mal: the church were I worked and auditions for “Job” at the theater.

- Aquarium of the Pacific

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- California Pizza Kitchen, In-N-Out, Granny’s Yogurt, Ruby’s, & Petrillo’s Pizza

- a beach bonfire

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- hiking in the mountains

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- Hollywood, including seeing the set-up for the “Green Lantern” movie premiere, a visit to Madame Tussauds  Wax Museum, and being part of the Jimmy Kimmel Live studio audience (guests were Chef Gordon Ramsey and Glee’s Mike O’Malley).bethany trip 037 bethany trip 039 bethany trip 017 bethany trip 020 bethany trip 025 bethany trip 029 bethany trip 032 bethany trip 034 

- a trip to Disneyland

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- and just good old-fashioned hanging out… playing old school nintendo, watching “A Mighty Wind”, laying out and boogie boarding at the beach, walking Yoshi and Tootsie, and a trip to Build-A-Bear.


I got used to Bethany being here, and it was sad to see her go! My fingers are crossed that she gets to come back very, very soon. Meanwhile, I have returned to “real life”. Though my summer school plans did not work out, and I suddenly find myself the blessing of a slower pace. Without classes and homework, I have more free time. I am also not in the cast for the summer play, but will only be assisting with work days and script rewrites. I suppose this is my opportunity to do what I’m supposed to be doing- slowing down. The challenge is not to say, “Oh, I have time for ______ now!”, and filling that blank space with new or different activities, leaving me as rushed and busy as before. So the theme of my summer will be a balanced lifestyle. Then I’ll be ready to go full force in the fall…. or does that defeat the purpose?

June 03, 2011

going to the store to get milk

I didn’t think about it until just now, but yesterday was one month since I left the hospital. It’s even more notable, since yesterday was pretty much the first day I was consistently in an actual, honest good mood.

It’s not to say there haven’t been good moments this month, because blessings have flowed in and out of the frustrations, med-induced side effects, and busy schedule. However, each day has been an attempt to catch up on all the things that had fallen behind the day before- a domino effect snowballing out of control. But something about yesterday was different. Perhaps it was being the very first day on new medication, and none of the side effects were able to make their way through my blood stream. Maybe it was completing the second day of filming for finals at school, and the relief of accomplishment boosted some hidden endorphins. Could it have been the pleasant weather that is working it’s way toward summer (albeit slower than I’d prefer, but who am I to direct the sunshine and clouds)? Or maybe it was the brief study/work break spent frolicking on the beach with Kelly, Yoshi, and Tootsie. Whatever the reason- or combination of factors- it worked. And that’s how I found myself standing on the street corner in the evening, contentedly waiting for the red light to turn green and the “hand” to turn into a “man” that permitted me to cross, carrying the milk I just picked up from the store. I took a deep breath of night air with just a touch of sea breeze, and realized I that I noticed colors, details, sounds, smells- pieces of life that have been recently subdued by the combination of medication, stress, and my messed-up brain.

I crossed the street and made my way down the sidewalk towards home. I couldn’t help but make a quick review of the past month while remembering a snippet of earlier conversation with Kelly. It involved an incident with another friend who’d experienced similar struggles. Without going through my past few months, I wouldn't have been able to relate or help him in any way. And this wasn’t the first- or last- time God has used my own challenges to reach another soul. While finding some kind of purpose in pain can be comforting, does that mean that God caused all of this mess just to bring me/us to this moment?

I don’t think that’s the whole story. Because while the Lord is most definitely sovereign, my own choices shaped my situation as well. And, unfortunately, the devil had a little bit of input, too. Between the two of us- Satan and me- we created quite a disaster. Yet, God still has the final say in the outcome, and His ultimate ending is always beautiful. Since I was little, I imagined God and the devil in some kind of martial arts hand-to-hand combat. I envisioned Satan pulling some smooth move that would bring everything down- a symbolic roundhouse kick, if you will. But then God just laughs, and in some kind of divine Chuck Norris style, grabs Satan’s foot mid-kick, twisting him around and bringing him crashing to the ground. The move Satan intended to be catastrophic ends up being the very thing that led to God’s victory- because God was always in control of the fight.

God can redeem my mess. I’m not fighting with God, but I can make some pretty crappy choices. This doesn’t make my sin any less sin-ny, but knowing that He can take my scraps and dried up paint and create a gorgeous masterpiece…. does that blow anyone else’s mind?

One last thought: my reading this morning included Luke 22:31. Jesus is talking to the disciples at the Last Supper, preparing them for the coming events of His death. In this particular moment, Jesus is reminding them to remain humble and foreshadowing the ways they are all going to screw up in the next couple of days. He says to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”     

Life may become difficult, Satan may strike, and we are going to make a mess. But Jesus prayed for Simon- God is working for us, for me, for you. And after the storm, when we have turned back to better days, we can strengthen our brothers and sisters. Could it be that we go back for each other so no one is left behind? And this is why we canNOT give up when things get hard, because the chaos and catastrophe are not how the story ends- not for us, and not for those we love. Instead, that very chaos and catastrophe are the paint and brush in God’s hand as He creates the most beautiful picture you have ever seen, or could even imagine.

I’ll end this before my own tears come again, because these words are not being shouted from a soapbox, but whispered to my own heart. I’m learning along the way, and I promise, when I have turned back, that I will reach out a hand to strengthen you, too.

May 19, 2011

navigating without a map

The walk down the church hallway was breezy with the faint smell of ocean. Our church is housed in what was once a business complex. Like many buildings in southern California, there are courtyards and open-air hallways- great on the many sunny days, a bit of a hassle on the rare rainy ones. But today boasts sunshine despite the cool breeze, and I smiled as I breathed in the light sea air. Then, I marveled at how rare these moments have become.

I’ve been struggling with how to jump back into regular blogging. The past month’s journey has included many personal challenges, many unsuitable for a public forum. It seems as though the fight for balance between honest writing and necessary privacy will never be resolved.

The April-of-Insanity lived true to its name, a strange blend of over-the-top busyness and my brain taking a nose-dive into the pool of bipolar hell. Such dark times feel impossible, and I couldn’t have survived it without the loved ones who walk beside me, at times leading me by the hand back into the light. They truly carry God’s love into tangible action.

Now, I write from “the other side”- you know, that place where you’ve walked through the rock-bottom valley and can turn around and see where you’ve been. You can also look forward to see you still have quite a way to go, because the journey is not over. But it’s only supposed to improve from here. And I suppose you’re wondering where “here” is…

“Here” is living day-by-day, keeping up with the tasks that continue to accumulate despite my slower-than-usual pace. “Here” is on medication again, a daily pill that provides the service of crazy-control in exchange for a long list of side effects that interfere with daily existence. “Here” worries less about the stigma of having bipolar disorder than just taking care of all the details required to manage it all. “Here” tries not to be frustrated with the inability to do everything myself, and instead gratefully relies on my friend-family for support. And “Here” wonders if life will ever be normal again.

So, to wrap it all up (for now)….. I have grown from hopeless to looking to God for a hope that never dies. Each day does have quite enough trouble of it’s own, so I’m not even going to try to worry about tomorrow (or the next day, or the day after that…). And when those peaceful moments of sunshine and ocean breeze occur, I will cherish them as precious- because that’s exactly what they are.

April 24, 2011

touch of tenderness

When I sat down on the couch in my new fuzzy Easter socks, clouds filled the sky. I opened the windows to fill the living room with warm breeze and mentally crossed my fingers for a little thunder and lightning.

Now, the sky is blue and filled with sunlight. Go figure. At least it will make my drive to the theater a little easier. Despite knowing everything is fine, I can’t help but be a bit cautious on that 91 freeway in the rain. The memories of February’s accident are still pretty clear in those conditions.

Back to my now-sunny couch time. The dogs are playing with new toys from my PastorBoss. She so kindly and generously blessed me with an Easter basket this morning! I was so surprised! And she included some puppy toys for Yoshi (who, of course, was nice enough to share with Tootsie- in exchange for avoiding a smackdown, I’m sure).

yoshi 002There’s a little over an hour before I have to leave, and I suppose a nap would be a wise preparation for a late evening of performance. Part of me feels like I should do something special, since it’s a holiday and all, but my options are pretty limited. Due to the scheduling of WorkChurch and the show, this time is probably best spent chilling with these oh-so-patient dogs before they are confined to my room for the rest of the night while we’re gone.

If I am honest, I can’t pretend that I didn’t think about the fact that I’m spending a lot of Easter Sunday alone. It felt like Christmas day all over again. The textbook “right” answer is that we’re never alone because God is always with us…. and while that’s true, for some reason, it doesn’t always feel comforting. It hasn’t been so bad though, today. Love from church families is fantastic, and I’ll be spending the evening with my theater family. So it’s not a bad way to spend Resurrection Sunday. :)

There’s a lot going on in my life right now that I won’t share in a public space. You that have known me for awhile are somewhat familiar with the ups and downs of my chemically-imbalanced brain. This season of vulnerability was met with a thoughtful gift this morning, sweet kindness that drew out a few tears before a morning filled with smiles, kids, and hidden Easter eggs. And this is just one example of God’s grace delivered by the hands of caring friends. Small acts of love make a big difference- that’s been the theme of my April-of-Insanity. I have friends who impact my life more than they are aware. These are gifts that are never forgotten.

April 18, 2011


Greetings, from the April of Insanity!

Today has been a welcome rest after seventeen days of constant activity. Sleeping, homework, and sitcoms from the 80’s have recharged my batteries for the next two weeks. At least, that’s the plan.

My goodness, it’s been so long since I’ve written. I’ll try to break this up with pictures to make it an easier read. Shall we begin with a cute puppy?

yoshi 028Yoshi continues to grow and be adorable. We’re still working on that whole housebreaking thing. Remarkably, she can hold it all night when we sleep, and for seven or eight hours during these recent long tech rehearsals and performances of “Risen”. Yet, on days when we’re home and going out every two hours, she can’t resist the urge to baptize the floor. Go figure. In other news, Tootsie is still her hero.

yoshi 001Also, we have recently discovered a dog beach. Yoshi isn’t yet convinced that she digs the ocean, but she sure digs the sand (see what i did there?). She also loves meeting other dogs, no matter if they are a zillion times her size! I fully intend on working on her love of the sea as we continue to make this one of our hang-outs.

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WorkChurch is moving along and right in the midst of Easter happenings. Yesterday, we had a special Palm Sunday service that really involved the kids. We walked through Holy Week from the triumphal entry through Jesus’ arrest, using drama, special readings, and hands-on experience with the Passover meal. Sometimes, it’s refreshing to depart from a traditional service in favor of creative family worship! We have an egg-hunt next Sunday, then an awards ceremony the following week. It’s festive when children’s ministry is humming along at full speed! Of course, my favorite thing is that, now that i’ve been at this church for almost a year, the kids and I have gotten to know each other more. Last night, one church family even came to see “Risen”. Seeing that three-year-old boy get excited about the show was quite heart-warming. :)

This was from a recent trip to the local aquarium:
At Cabrillo Marine Aquarium 002 

School is school… nothing horribly interesting to report. Classes are increasingly fun the more hands-on stuff we get to do with the camera. I got a bit more editing experience with this last project, a short documentary about the school’s cosmetology program. Also, I was selected to be the “field correspondent” for the on-camera demonstration. Look at my hair! (ok, i know, you’re really looking at the puppy. ;) )

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“Risen” is, of course, a big event this month. We just completed opening weekend, and performances have been fantastic. However, approximately half the cast has been pretty sick at least at some point this weekend. Yet, God always steps in. It’s crazy- one minute they’ll be miserable and barely able to utter a note, then when it’s time to take the stage, they sing beautifully and move as if they have abundant energy. The audience has also seemed to be quite blessed as well. It’s such an honor and privilege to be part of such an incredible project. If you’re in the area, I enthusiastically invite you to come see the show this weekend or next! And all of you should check out photos of the show here.

this christmastime  angel silhouette cross 11 kelly tomb 11I love that one of Kelly!  And if you’re wanting to know a bit more about the show, you can always read my theater blog.


Alright, did I miss anything? Yes, there are many other details that fill in the cracks of this insane schedule, but I think I’ve left you with quite enough for one evening. There’s only a few hours left in the evening before I’m off and running again in the morning. Midterms are this week, after all. And Easter. And more show. And…….

March 28, 2011

my life in poop

After a seemingly infinite wait, the day finally arrived…. bringing with it a tiny little bundle of fur, energy, and messes. Meet Yoshi.

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She’s half chihuahua/half poodle (chipoodle, if you will?), and quite sweet. Yoshi is also the typical playful puppy, much to Tootsie’s slight irritation. Well, she doesn’t seem to mind the playing as much as the biting. But I think we all feel that way.

So now my schedule revolves around the frequency of my puppy’s bladder. Outside walks every two hours, and trying not to leave her alone in the house for horribly long stretches….. that kind of thing. And so far, it’s been slowly moving in the right direction toward housebreaking. Yay!

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In other news, I’m at that familiar stressful place where work gets busy, school is in full swing, and a show opens in a few weeks. Thankfully God and a little bit of mania provide necessary energy. Everything is racing along, and I’m thankful to be healthy again.

So that’s life for now…. workchurch, rehearsal, school, puppy. Relay for Life is on Saturday, and I’m super short on donations this year (so feel free to help! My Relay page is I know the stretches between entries have been long, but it’s just been a mass of busyness with not much time for blogging, nor colorful stories that are fun to read. Wait, that’s probably not true. There’s always a story…. but for now, I’ll just leave you with a couple more puppy shots. Of course, I already need to update them. In the few short weeks since she’s moved in, she’s already growing so fast!

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Half the time they get along, the other half, Yoshi is a pest and Tootsie is a grouch….


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Mrs. Ladypant is her favorite toy!

March 10, 2011

walking palace of germs

Perhaps traipsing barefoot in wet grass at twilight is not the best method for getting over sickness. But isn’t the sheer desire to traipse at all a significant sign of pending healthiness? So with Tootsie in tow, we enjoyed the few last moments of daylight before the night chill set in.

I suppose I should’ve learned my lesson on Saturday. A sudden warm day screamed “Beach!!” loudly and clearly. So with sniffly noses, a sudden burst of energy, and a touch of cabin fever, Kelly and I went down the street to visit the tide pools. It was a glorious afternoon break from the usual Saturday busyness, set to the soundtrack of saltwater waves against rock, lit expertly by the sun and his crew of clouds. Face-to-face with urchins and hermit crabs in the palms of our hands, I could hear the sea call us back under with the promise of warmer water for dives in the near future.

Of course i felt sick again by Monday.

Nevermind the emergen-c and zicam campaign i’ve been waging since the end of February. It has only prolonged whatever disease is being passed around my friends and castmates. I managed to live in denial for almost a week before succumbing to the sore throat, tired, achy, mucus-y time-waster that is illness. Thankfully, that week included my birthday- a day hanging out with friends at the local mini-golf/laser tag/rock wall place, followed by a delicious dinner. Sadly, it postponed other fun birthday plans, including a trip to the local sea lion care center. I’ve traded in fun outings and even some responsibilities for extra sleep and sitcoms on netflix. This is all good and fine for a day or two, but it’s getting rather old as we near the end of the second week of germfest 2011.

But the energy to take Tootsie out for a walk tonight leaves me with optimism and a glimpse of the light at the end of sick tunnel. And, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be taking lots of walks after this weekend, when Yoshi the puppy finally arrives in L.A. So I better have energy for the frequent walks required of housebreaking… and chasing after a non-stop puppy!

February 25, 2011


After a warm late-night shower (by scented candlelight), I am cozy and relaxed in my jersey sheets. Wrapped in my favorite worn grey hoodie with the sound of rain lazily dropping on the window, why would i want to be anywhere else?

Because taking a walk in the rain sounds like fun.

Nevermind that it’s after ten o’clock and a mere fifty-four degrees out there. Forget that I have wet hair from the shower already, and our neighborhood is not exactly peaceful suburbia. I want to go for a walk in the rain, and that’s all there is to it.

And though it takes all my rational thought, I won’t do it. I don’t have time to get sick. I’m rehearsing a show, there’s school and work, various other upcoming plans…. “it’s not a responsible decision,” i repeat to myself as I fight the urge to dance in the frigid raindrops.

And thus is mania.

February 15, 2011

mountains of things

Sometimes stacks are a good way to organize. Things can be ordered by priority, sorted by whatever means appropriate. As my life seems to be divided into varying categories, i’m a big fan of the stack system. That is, until the stacks grow and surround me, imprisoning me in an out-of-control task list.

But i’m never overly dramatic (insert sarcasm font here).

As the school semester begins this week, there are many stacks to burn through (hey, that’s not a bad idea. well, quicker at least). Many stacks hold the same priority level. Sometimes I imagine these priorities pointlessly color-coded like airport security levels. Just as I have no clue if “orange” is more or less urgent than “yellow”, perhaps looking at the stacks chronologically makes more sense. Let’s pick up from my last entry, shall we?

Stack One: Car and accident
Merely four days after the actual incident, I found myself in a new car. Perhaps this was deserving of an entry of its own, chronicling my first vehicle purchase on my own (without ANYone along to make sure i didn’t screw it up!). This was both liberating and a little frightening, in addition to the remaining cloud of “overwhelmed” that refused to leave my still-shocked self. But as we all know by now, “on my own” never truly means “alone”. I found my car at Enterprise, the same place that supplied my insurance-provided rental. My payments and interest are low, and they deferred my down payment until the insurance issued the check from my totaled Cavalier (may it rest in much-deserved peace). Warranties and roadside assistance are included, and they gave me seven days to drive it and change my mind if needed. That seven days was a HUGE nerve-calmer for me as it removed some of the decision-making pressure! So now I have a little Hyundai Accent, much newer and lower in mileage than I expected. My favorite thing is that I can plug in my ipod. :)
Other related items in this stack include insurance, physical therapy to ensure no lasting back and neck injury, and other details that only make for boring reading. And it took an entire week of handling all these logistics before emotions caught up with me. Thank goodness for a supportive roommate who made me stop trying to work, and just go to my room to cry. Once that was out, the difference was incredible.

Stack Two: Job
That’s Job with the long “o”, as in the Biblical dude, not an occupation (that’s another stack). This stack is one part the actual project of working on the script and the rest the challenges of God letting me walk through trials. Though perhaps these are intermingled. I’ll spare you the mundane details, but besides the aforementioned wreck, there has been various financial challenges, conflicts with friends, and many changes of my “best-laid plans”. I counted on my usual tax refund to be much smaller than usual with the changes of 2010- but i did not expect to actually owe the government a little bit of money (thus changing my source of eye exam and new contacts for the year). Sallie Mae- who we lovingly refer to as “dear aunt sallie” with every possible ounce of sarcasm dripping from our tone- decided this was a good time for some student loan-related drama. All of the phone calls between insurance company and dear-aunt-sallie and who knows what else resulted in my phone bill doubling this month. Yesterday, due to a rough, sleepless night on Sunday, i missed my first swim class. This means I was dropped from the roster for absence on the first day. Then there was the whole spacebarwon’twork fiasco that prevented me from completing necessary work. There's other stuff, but you get the idea. This kind of list is pretty long for such a short period of time.


Yes, there’s a “but”, because this IS the Job stack, after all. For every crappy challenge, there’s been some kind of victory. Some of these successes seem grander than others, some are still waiting for resolution. That’s the faith and trust part, I suppose. Yesterday, for example, God reminded me in a still, small moment that I have a LOT going on and a swim class for fun was a little unnecessary. Also, I would save gas (translation: dollars) for driving to campus less. Meanwhile, a phone call to verizon to determine why my bill was so large was met with the kindest customer service rep I have ever met. Maybe she picked up on my slightly bitter chuckle when she greeted the call with “happy valentine’s day”. Or perhaps compassion hit her when i realized just how many minutes i had gone over and i held back tears and said something about, “oh, crap all those calls about the accident”. But she kindly credited my account $20 just to help. Not solving it, but making a difference- in more ways than just dollar amount. At the same time, some supportive theater friends fixed the space bar that now works. There's other stuff, but you get the idea. And this kind of list is pretty long as well, for such a short period of time.

And it goes on. I walked into the first day of this semester’s production class today to see a few familiar faces from previous classes- friendly faces that said “hi” with a smile. What a change from feeling invisible on campus this past year! (not that this was a horrible thing, it’s just part of being new and having little in common with most of my classmates.) After class, one man stopped to say hi. He sat behind me in Screenwriting in the fall, where we exchanged the occasional hello or laughed over something in class. Somehow, today’s very brief conversation revealed that this was a “divine appointment”- those odd meetings that can only be God-arranged. He has been seeking the Lord a little lately, and dealing with some difficulties- some even car-related, ironically. Some of these recent “Job” circumstances really seemed to impact him. And I would’ve never chosen to share these things with a near-stranger without prompting from the Holy Spirit. After, as I walked back to my car, I knew that I wouldn’t have been much use if I hadn’t experienced all of this other stuff. If my life were perfect and easy, how could I relate to anyone? I don’t think this is the complete key to understanding human suffering or anything. But I do believe it is an important point, a key piece in the larger puzzle.

Stack Three: The Daily Grind
It never stops. I’m so glad it never stops, those regular events that keep me (us?) moving forward. WorkChurch is in full swing, with a Fun Day next week full of games, crafts, and activities while the kids are off school for President’s Day. Outings and programs and Easter services loom cheerfully on the horizon. Then there is theater. We’re preparing for our Easter show, rehearsing and creating the set and reviewing music in the car (i’m convinced that we ALL use the car as rehearsal space). If you’re interested, I’m blogging through the production here. I know, as if this post wasn’t long-winded enough…
And there’s school, of course. A couple production-related classes should keep me pretty busy. I’m already looking forward to the one I started today. I had more hands-on time with the camera today than my entire fall semester combined. This equates to happiness in my world.

So on THAT note, I suppose I should return to the actual stacks of tasks calling my attention. Challenges remain and threaten to distract me from more important matters. But either I trust God or I don’t. Do I believe the words that come out of my mouth in good times as much as when seasons become darker? And just because things are not the way I planned or how I think they should be, does that mean that life is horrible? Of course not. When the adventure has ended and stories are told, the best moments come from the trouble and challenges. This is my adventure, and from the beginning, I knew it would not be easy. Remember that cheesy remake of “The Haunting”? Lili Taylor says she can choose to either be a victim or a volunteer, and she would rather be the volunteer and plunge into the adventure of the ghostly mystery instead of plagued by a haunted house. She had a point. Either I’m going to freak out when I hit “white water rapids” of overwhelming challenges, or I’m going to strap on my helmet and enjoy the thrilling adrenaline of the ride.

And I’m pretty sure you know me well enough by now to guess how I feel about such adventures.

February 01, 2011


A month and a half is a long time to be away from the theater. While rest is much needed between shows (not to mention in preparation for such an intense season), a girl starts to miss the stage after a couple of weeks. So it’s almost needless to say that I was highly anticipating the first rehearsal for the Easter show, “Risen”. It was the first thing I thought about when I opened my eyes in the morning, and I was glad to be so busy at WorkChurch so that the afternoon would come quickly.

The rainy day did not dampen my spirits at all as I drove from San Pedro to the theater in Anaheim. As a seasoned driver from the weather-worn roads of Ohitucky, I know how to be cautious on a rainy freeway. Though I maintained a safe and reasonable speed with every other driver, a deep patch of water still caused my car to hydroplane. I struggled to regain control and prayed that I wouldn’t hit the cars near me. In seconds, my car spun toward the concrete wall that separate the east- and west-bound traffic. Once I hit that divider, the force caused my car to spin in the opposite direction until I hit the wall again. I came to a stop right against the concrete, in the carpool lane, facing oncoming traffic.

Though shaking, I prayed that God would handle the cars speeding toward me on the wet road, while I tried to find my phone (Note: the little holder that was supposed to keep my phone handy in such situations failed. Also, while we’re on that subject, my air bags didn’t go off. thanks for nothing, safety precautions.). The 911 dispatcher was most helpful, telling me to keep my seatbelt and hazard lights on, and “stay where I felt safest” (Um, how about NOT sitting on this freeway?!). The highway patrol arrived in minutes, and proceeded to shut down the freeway.

Since I couldn’t move my car, CHP was ready to spring into action. From the car loudspeaker, he said, “Imma move ya”. And instructed me to put my car in neutral and steer. By pushing my car with the patrol car, a few fancy maneuvers had me turned around and on the safer shoulder of the road. If I had to keep all the folks from their destination by stopping traffic, at least they got a show out of it….

We got my car off the freeway and towed away, to enter the realm of insurance claims and the like. For some strange reason, the first words out of my mouth to the officers were “Hallelujah, Holy Shit!” (I am just as bewildered as the CHP guys about that subconscious nod to Chevy Chase.)

Meanwhile, I was not hurt. I didn’t hit any other vehicles. Of course, my neck and back are aching, but I didn’t hit my head or break any bones. There are no visible bruises, cuts, or scrapes on my body. I am beyond grateful for such incredible divine protection!

I was stranded in North Long Beach with no transportation. All of my local friends were in Anaheim, at rehearsal. I hated to ask anyone to drive all the way out there, but they did in a heartbeat. I arrived to rehearsal and my dear castmates, whom I love so much. Still in shock, I was so glad to be near them and felt a little bit safer.

Now, I attempted to focus on the material for “Risen”. This is the same show we did last spring, so much of it was familiar. Of course, tweaks and changes will be made, including the addition of two more members of the ensemble. At last year’s table read, we marveled at the introduction to powerful music and the original concepts of the production. This time, we recalled the emotion of each scene and its meaning. I made it through the first act by directing my focus from the accident to the show. But once we began act II, the shock was starting to wear off. The beautiful and intense truth in some of the songs released tears that had been well-contained until that moment. Lyrics about being saved took on a more immediate meaning and the impact hit my heart with some kind of emotional force. I struggled to sing through my parts between sniffles and tear drops…. and was so glad that, unlike my usual preferred crying situation, i was not alone.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with hugs, prayers, and encouraging reassurance. As always, Masquer extends beyond the production to be a ministry of love. In times like these, I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness when He gave me the gift of my theater family.

Now I deal with the aftermath… sore muscles, a totaled car, and trying to keep up with WorkChurch and theater responsibilities when nothing sounds more inviting than another nap. Yet, I will not forget how fortunate I am to walk away from the crash with virtually no injuries- and, more importantly, I did not hit any of the other cars that were driving near me. All of my needs are being met, and I have no doubt that the rest will work out well. After all, God is in control of the details. He is sovereign, and He is good. And He won’t let me forget it.

January 21, 2011

taking a moment

One one hand, I feel lazy. Things are moving pretty slowly this month, especially since spring semester doesn’t start until February and rehearsals for our next show, “Risen” don’t begin until next Sunday. There is still work to do for both my job and “Job” (working on the script for an original Masquer production based on that particular book of the Bible). But less running back and forth reduces the frantic pace that often marks my days.

On the other hand, I slightly savor the calm before the storm. Of course, I love storms- even metaphorical ones (usually). February marks the beginning of a 2011 busyness that won’t really stop or slow down. I’m assuming my school schedule will increase as I advance in classes- with more involved homework and film projects. WorkChurch becomes more involved this year as I move from adjusting to a new job to raising the standard for our kids’ ministry. Masquer is doing four productions in 2011, instead of the usual three. I’m getting a puppy for my birthday, so there is housebreaking and such on the horizon (advice and tips welcome! i’ve never had a puppy before!). As always, I hope for more writing jobs from the radio station. I’m looking for a local yoga class since I cancelled my gym membership. And as soon as the weather is consistently warm enough, I will be back in the water, reuniting with my fishy friends.

And that’s just the beginning… you know me, you know how it goes. i have a hard time saying “no” to opportunities for new adventure.

Mamaw seems to be doing pretty ok! I would say, “can you believe it?”, but honestly, it’s quite believable. She’s tough and not ready to throw in the towel just yet. She’s out of the hospital and in a rehabilitation facility to build strength. The future is still uncertain- as futures become with age and health issues. There’s talk of the grandkids visiting Ohio sometime to see her…. That brings mixed emotions, as I really want to see her but hate the thought of a good-bye- not to mention that you never really know if it IS good-bye (and always hope it’s not).

I love living in California. I don’t regret my decision to move across the country, and, though I care about my family, I don’t have the tiniest desire to ever live in Ohitucky again. However, there are times like this when I wish I could be more supportive and more present. These are the circumstances that call for visits and taking a turn helping out- sharing the load. This is when you want to play as many games of rummy with your grandmother and make sure you know all the family stories. It’s also the kind of situation that reminds you to cherish the moments you can with the people you love.

So cherish I will… and I do. From moments like this- sitting quietly in the sunlit living room, writing on the couch with my ipod as a companion…. to the joy of exploring the neighborhood on a warm day- walking with Kelly and Tootsie as the sun hits my shoulders and I am inspired to wear the colorful skirt my sister, Becca, sent from South Africa years ago. Or the comforting belonging feeling you get when your friends “kidnap” you for a fun, silly movie…. and it goes on, every day constructed of moments.