Wednesday, July 22, 2015

to my hobbits

"You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin--to the bitter end.  And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours--closer than you keep it yourself.  But you cannot trust us to let you face your trouble alone, and go off without a word.  We are you friends, Frodo." - Peregrin Took

Those dear Hobbits, they are cutting straight to my heart this read through of The Fellowship. I'm still in the beginning, before meeting the Elves and Men and Dwarfs, really. But I know them. In my middle school years I read the books and coincidingly watched the movies in early high school--I was a Lord of the Rings Junkie. Some of my friends and I got together and we made our own versions of the movies. I played all the female roles, because, well, I was the only girl interested in doing this sort of thing at fourteen. Had my first love affair with a freshman in college, don't worry, it was pretty PG.

I also played an orc. We all played orcs. You know, we all had to be an extra. This was really the beginning and the end of my acting career. I was really just a fan girl. In love with Tolkein, in love with the story, in love with the genre of fantasy. That is entirely still true. I like make believe.

Rather than wander around the subject of fantasy and make believe, I wanted to talk about my friends. I wanted to be Pippin or Sam tonight, not Frodo. Ugh, Frodo. I don't know if anyone comes out of reading those books really liking Frodo much, but he isn't perfect and I love him for that. He carries a burden that is hard to bear, and some of us know that that weight damn near kills us each and every day. He has friends that understand that weight, and they are terrified! But they are with him.

Sometimes I feel like Frodo. But the good thing is, the amazing thing is, the best thing is. I have a Pippin, Merry and my Sam. There isn't any running away from my crowd, they won't go away. Despite what I do or say or believe they keep sticking with me. Holding my hand. Calling me up. They just won't leave, and they won't let me leave them. I guess I will keep them forever. Forever sounds good.

"You can trust us." Mr. Pippin says. And he sealed the deal. They all danced and sang songs together because they knew that it was done, they were together to the bitter end. We all need friends on our dangerous adventure. And at least two dinners, at least.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Old Habits Die Hard

My thoughts are blurred by sickness, I have been ill all week from kissing my nephews too much last week.  All of their beautiful baby germs absorbed into my healthy cells. As I cough away, sipping on black coffee and peanut butter honey oatmeal just stirred up in a pot, I can envision Winnie the Pooh thinking deep thoughts early in the morning, or not so deep thoughts, as it were.

Sick and tired the past several days, my mood has been short with all, and as me and my neighbors hosted friends in our yard last night I realized I had little to say and felt to be a very lacking hostess. Indeed, I was.  My most useful ability was to hold the sweet but energetic beagle all evening and keep her soothed in my loving arms, a business I am well aware I could make a lucrative living in.  Wrapped up by the comfort of a doe-eyed hound in my lap, my own swirling thoughts, and not a beer in sight as I sniffled away, I meagerly interjected or laughed away at others' conversation but started none and stayed safely in my comfort zone of what seemed like one made from centuries ago.  I have emerged from this cocoon in the past three years immensely, stretched myself to new dimensions, and I will never go back.  But old habits die hard.

Animals and children are on the short list of easy to love, comfortable, simple and quite frankly when I spend a brief amount of time with almost anyone's dog or child they start calling me the "baby" whisperer - insert dog, and I am called upon to dog sit, baby sit, bunny sit, etc. I love it all. I suppose I take a certain amount of pride in this but it has more than that been a matter-of-fact part of who I am. It has never been a desirable career path. Never once have I wanted to work with either children or animals forever, except for when I was very small and wanted to be a veterinarian, like 30% of children who loved animals.

I love easily and freely and children and animals love you back. Children will tell you they love you the day that you meet them. So would a dog if they could talk.  A cat would obviously not.  Perhaps I am saying here I have the maturity level relationally of a child or a golden retriever....Not false. I love kisses. And walks. I am not sure about the rest.

Here is what I have learned. I have learned to be at the party without the dog or the baby by being at the party, over and over and over.

You learn to host a party by hosting one.
You learn to cook a good meal by trying.
You learn to get a raise by asking.
You learn to walk more by taking the steps.
You learn to take a vacation by going.
You learn to fall in love by letting yourself.

Old habits die hard. New habits take work. Bring a friend, Piglet, Tigger. Don't forget to stop and visit Kanga, Roo and Owl. You'll need them. I know that. You'll need them all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"I knoooooooow, Mom"

Every time I get together with my mom I hear it escaping my lips "I know mom." Especially when I get together with my whole family I hear the phrase come out of my mouth over and over again - probably because we are barely listening to each other in the first place. And I hear my sister say it, and I hear my brothers say it. We know, mom.

And you know who sings this song, don't you? And you know what movie they're in? And you know who they were married to?

I know, mom.

Did I ever tell you about the belly flops we did? And what I said to my sister that I'll never forget? And how you should never say anything at all if you can't say anything nice?

I knooooow, mom.

Diet Dr. Pepper with a Cobb Salad. You used to be my little waitress. You used to ask me what I wanted to order and that's what I'd order every time.

I knooooooooooooow, mom.

I just loved my babies, that's all I ever wanted was to be your mom.

We know, mom.

My mother might be one of the very best conversationalist that I have ever met. She doesn't talk too much or pry too deep, say anything awkward or unkind. She says just the right thing and asks just the right question. She has something to say to everyone about everything. Not only does she have something to say, she has something good to say. Quite a feat indeed. If I have picked up just a bit of her warmth I will consider myself a lucky and fortunate child. Her ability to put someone at ease is unmatched by anyone I have ever seen. Disarming. Genuine. Real. I like my mom.

And really, hearing her stories over and over isn't so bad. I have a terrible memory. I think I am starting to forget the stories as she retells them. It's working well for both of us. I want to hear more. I want to listen more and talk less as I get a little older. I'll always be a smart ass at heart, but I want to know what my mom has to say. It's getting through, still. It always has. It always will. Keep on talking mom, we're listening.

To steal one of your favorite quotes seems appropriate.

"We were together. I forget the rest." - Walt Whitman

Monday, February 2, 2015

I'm afraid of church.

I cried in church yesterday. Surprise, surprise. Not. However, it was for a brand-new-never-been-cried and broken over reason.  Before you think of me as the consistent church goer I was once, let me be clear, I have been to church roughly a dozen times in the past two years.  It is for a very specific reason I avoid it, well, it was at first. It's also true that at this point I am lazy and like having Sunday morning free. I lived 23 years without it.  The reason I stopped going to church stirred within me and weighed heavily yesterday, more than I have felt in a long time. Yesterday I visited a friend's Anglican church only because it meant I could see another friend who I haven't been able to see in a while. I trekked to Uptown at 9 in the snow, happy and alive, regretting the choice to wear mascara as it ran down my face.

Liturgy, liturgy. I look around. I see people that look like me. Most do. Some look different. Liturgy, song, prayer, song.

Then someone got up and said the prayers that we're supposed to repeat and say "Lord, hear our prayer" after.  I was vaguely paying attention at this point and feeling very little at all in the spiritual department. And I wasn't sure what to do with my hands. I was standing there, listening, feeling kind of awkward.  All of the sudden we were asked to pray for those who have "unbelief" and then I found myself praying Tears started to fall as I realized how long I had avoided this moment, how long I had kept silent.

I looked around and knew that even though I want to believe despite what my life experiences have taught me, everyone in this room must not be bad. There must be some good ones here, too. I'm scared. The truth is, my heart is very hard. I ran away from church people and Christians because God in someone seemed to mean nothing, seemed to reveal nothing about character and yet. Logically, I know there are people influenced by God and religion that are wonderful. Is it why they're wonderful? I don't know. I don't know if God makes someone wonderful sometimes, or if they did it themselves, or both, or what. All I know is two years ago my earnest heart couldn't take it anymore, and I ran away.

If I zoom out and look down at myself, standing in church yesterday morning. Unsure, disinterested. Crying. Barely believing. Still... I'm living out a life that makes no sense, I choose to love people over everything else, and try to do that every day. Why? It's not me. It's not just who I am. It's this gospel that has modified my heart, pushed me forward, changed me. To see myself in church and blame others for my unbelief is foolish. The only person to blame, is me.

I only need to be saved from myself. Over and over.

"All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others, then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?" - Buddha

It's easy for me to love anyone except those who claim Christianity, I think. Guess I have some work to do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Several blogs have been started and left as drafts the past few weeks. I always end up questioning the motive of why I would post it, these days, and so I don't. That's me being fake humble by the way, don't buy it. I'll post this on Facebook and hope at least one person will read it and like it, because, that's what a writer should do. Writing is a healing act, for me, and my brain goes so crazy with unsaid thoughts that sometimes you just have to indulge me.

What I wanted to tell you about was a little old woman I met today. She is 92. She slowly, slowly crept to the door as I knocked and knocked, impatient and young and wondering why who I thought was going to be answering the door was taking so long. This lovely creature who opened up her home to me for a few minutes this morning was not who I was meant to meet with this morning. We had a delightfully repetitive conversation for 30 minutes or so. As we sat together and I went about my task, she went on to tell me about her life, her husband of 50 years who had passed away 3 years ago, her life in Switzerland, a picture of the boat that brought her to America and of her late husband, and that her grandmother was named Emma, twice. By the time I had to leave I was absolutely beaming at her, I am sure, because, how can you not? If I had had the time to sit with her for hours longer, I would have. Loitering in her grace, soaking up her strong and good kindness. Never mind that she couldn't quite remember what she had said a few minutes before. For someone that knows her, for her son, I am sure that is a sad reality. Perhaps even frustrating. But for me, unexpectedly graced with her presence for a moment this morning, I was only impressed at the impact she had made on me. Do you know the most impressive thing about the encounter? Her handshake. It took us a minute or two to walk the few steps to the door but when I turned around to wish her well she stuck out her hand for a farewell handshake and it was firm. Confident. Assured. Albeit, I was surprised. I felt all the self-possession this woman had in her handshake, and saw her in a flashback as young and poised. Radiating.

I couldn't stop thinking about her handshake all day. I am still thinking about it, feeling it. So I thought I'd tell you. When all we have left is just the remnants of who we are, we still are who we were. Our Soul remains to reveal who, exactly. And so does your handshake.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Wisdom Shmishdom

Many thoughts have been running through my head; questions on Christmas, consumerism, community,  healing, church and other not so noble things like why me? and "boo hoo" and what movie should I watch next as I hibernate away? and that person is a jerk, and so on and so forth.

I went back and read two or three blogs from college, I was 20 and boy was I dumb. Maybe not completely and utterly stupid but what wisdom I thought was worth coming out of my mouth then was ridiculous. I wanted to physically vomit after one in particular because what truth I knew then was not the truth I know now. Some say truth is not fluid like this. That is one of my questions.

The fact of the matter is that what I was proclaiming as beautiful actually turned out quite ugly. Through human error. Through flaws. Through selfishness.

There are too many unknowns than I care for in my life right now. And certainly not enough answers. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

See, I've already said too much. What I meant to come on here to say is...

The shut up and listen route is highly underrated. For us in our 20's, at least. We're the ones that need to hear from you older ones. Speak up. And,

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate.

I'll be here, knitting.

Emma Jean

Sunday, November 16, 2014

(98%) of girls want to be skinnier

I'm completely making that statistic up.

Just to clarify.

But from the conversations I've had and overheard as a woman, it seems to the case.

If you're 11, 12, 13, 14, maybe you're OK with yourself now but God forbid you get some hips. Or strong muscles from all those sports you're playing. Or a little extra tummy from all those beautiful songs you're practicing on the cello. Or stretch marks on your thighs and/or butt from all that amazing growing your body does without us even trying.

The other 1.8% are the can't gain weight ladies that many love to hate. I do not hate you, I do not shame you. I am sorry you can't gain weight and look how you'd like to look. That must also and equally suck.

Really the point is, we want to look different. That's the point.

Oh, and that other 0.2%... those are the ones that are currently completely happy, content, satisfied with every curve, mark and hair. And wouldn't change a damn thing. Not a one.

I'm really, really not trying to shame anyone one way or the other. I'm trying to say...

Like yourself!

Like yourself. Not because someone else will like it, Like yourself.

Here's another reason to stop caring so much about what you look like and what you could change if only...

It doesn't matter. Lipstick is fine. Manicure's are fine. Working out... fine. I'm not saying trying is wrong. But your weight doesn't matter and nobody cares except you, and maybe your doctor.  And whether or not you have some sort of gap in between your thighs or bones sticking out or zits on your face. You know who cares the most? You. You know who has to be OK with you everyday for the rest of your life? You. You know who judges you the hardest? You. You do.

I get Glamour magazine. The December issue is Women of the Year 2014. Some of them are pretty cool. And every page I flip through between the inspirational stories are photo-shopped pictures of beautiful and flawless women (and men). And I mean beautiful in the American meaning... thin. Full lips. Big eyes. Mostly white. No skin imperfections. No rolls. No cankles.

That would be the weirdest magazine ever, wouldn't it. Just a bunch of average, normal looking people. Caught in the middle of their day looking crappy, and windblown, and with a chocolate shake in their hand that they're actually eating.

I don't actually think anything is going to change about magazines. And I think it's stupid that Glamour acts like some sort of Women's advocate. I guess it's better than nothing. Maybe. But it might just be doing more harm than good to pretend like that. I don't know.

I have this weird patch of freckles on my back shoulder that I really like. As long as it's not some sort of skin cancer I don't know about yet. If so get it off of me. I have the longest, ugliest toes and I've never liked my legs. And I'm pretty hairy, in general.

And you know what, none of that has anything to do with my brain, my heart, my ability to be a human and love and care and work and I can freaking walk around and use my legs and I should just be thankful every day I can breathe.

And you should too.

You can breathe. Today.

Like yourself. And like other people. And don't talk about them behind their back unless it's really kind things.

OK. I'm done.

If you want to compare arm hair, I'm always here for you. Always.