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An explanation and an excerpt...

So what's been going on?
Um...work. Lots and lots of work. I've read some good books lately, too. C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy (I'm on the third one now, "That Hideous Strength"). "Downsiders," by Neal Shusterman. "An Abundance of Katherines," by John Green. And some others.

I have been trying to write more, but I'm working on about half a dozen different things, so progress is slow. However, I thought it was time I put something new up on my blog so as not to completely abandon it.
So: here is an excerpt from something I've been working on.
It's called "Blind Like Love" and it's about a broken-hearted girl named Brianne (after my bff) who is finishing college with a pottery class and guitar lessons from a blind adjunct professor, Evan Anderson. I'd love to know what you think.

Chapter Six

“I believe in music the way
some people believe in fairy tales....
The music is all around you.
All you have to do is listen.”
—Evan, “August Rush”

“Okay, first things first,” Mr. Anderson said as he settled across from me in the empty pottery studio. “This,” he patted the guitar as he cradled it, “is Grace. As in, 'Amazing Grace.' She was my grandfather's, and the first thing he learned to play was...”
“Amazing Grace.”
“Right. So that's what he named her. And, that was the first thing he taught me, when he gave her to me.” He gave her a quick, arpeggiated strum, and grinned. “She says 'hi.'”
“Right. Um, hi, back, I guess.” I picked up the guitar he'd brought for me. “Does this one have a name?”
“I brought the black Martin, right?”
I checked the name at the top, by all the tuning pegs. “Yep.”
“Right. That's Roxy.”
I was glad he couldn't see the somewhat skeptical look on my face. It seemed silly to be naming inanimate objects.
“Now, I know this feels a little weird, for me to be teaching you guitar. I mean, I have worksheets and textbooks for you, and obviously I don't go by them. But that stuff—that's just mechanics. I learned how to play both guitar and piano before I lost my sight, so I know how to read music and chords, and I understand chord theory. Honestly, you can learn that stuff from anyone. I think you can even teach it to yourself online. But I'm of the school of thought that music is not taught.”
“It's not?” Then what was I paying him for?
“Well, not exactly. Now, some would disagree with me—after all, music has a very mathematical quality to it. It has set rules and forms. It follows patterns and structures. Right?”
“Sure.” I strained to remember the one chord theory class I'd taken. “That sounds right.”
“Well, I think that while music—like other forms of art—contains structural properties and guidelines, it is inevitably something that either flows out of you, or not. That's why I don't charge for the first lesson. This is basically to see if it's in you, or not.”
“If what is in me?”
“Music. Art. Some people think they have it, but they're really just regurgitating formulas. Others don't know they have it, and never try. But think of the great artists: they weren't people who just studied colors and lines and concepts. They painted what they saw, what they felt. Same for musicians. You can study all you want, but it won't make you a musician if you're not one. To really be good, you have to feel it, in your soul. You have to mean it. It's not science. It's...philosophy.”
He was losing me, rapidly. “Huh?”
“I mean, it's something you let soak into you, and flow back out. It's like a religion, or a relationship. When you devote yourself to God, or to a person, you make a commitment. You spend time with them. You study them. Music, really, is like love.”
That sounded interesting. “How so?”
“Well, like I said, you can't just base it around formulas. A plus B equals C. I mean, yes, if you put this finger here, and this finger there, and strum, you get E minor. But making music is about so much more than that. Like a good relationship, you have to put in time and work. But just being with a person and talking to him, even taking care of his needs, doesn't make it a romance. Just like just playing chords doesn't make someone a musician.
“You have to feel it. Like love, music fills you up, heart and soul. You think about it. You obsess. You hear it, you notice. Even when no one else does. You get lost in it, sometimes. That's what makes someone a musician. Even over talent. Just like...a relationship can look perfect from the outside, but be dying. People can play and sing without meaning it, but the great ones...like relationships that last...they mean it. They know it, they feel it.”
“Wow,” I whispered. A little chill went down my spine. “I've never heard anyone talk about music that way. Except in the movie 'August Rush,'” I amended. “You start off all your classes like this?”
He shrugged. “More or less.”
I drew a deep breath. “Well, I'm not sure if I really fit that description.”
“Well, let's find out.”
“What's your favorite song?”
I gawked at him. “Seriously?”
“I...I don't have one favorite,” I told him. “I couldn't possibly.”
“Why not?”
“You should see my iPod,” I said, forgetting that he couldn't actually see it. “Seriously. I have so many different genres and artists and songs I love. I tried to make a playlist of my favorites? Yeah, it's over two hundred songs. Songs I love. I have a hard time even picking a top five.”
He smiled. “And they are?”
I sighed. “Um, 'Cannonball,' by Damien Rice. 'On Fire,' by Switchfoot. 'The Breaking of the Fellowship,' from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. 'Clocks,' by Coldplay, even though I know it's overplayed. And...oh, I don't know. There are too many others. Isn't a top four good enough?”
“Yes,” he replied. “In fact, you just told me exactly what I needed to know.”
“I did?”
“Yes. You love music. In various styles and formats. You seem to cut across genres and labels and trends. That means something.”
“Well, I think it means you're more of a musician than you know.”
I shrugged a little. “Yeah, but, everybody likes music.”
“Not exactly,” he returned. “Some people just like a certain kind of music. And some people just use it as background noise. Some people play music to remind themselves of another time in their life. Some people just listen to the radio and like certain artists because they think they're supposed to—for them, it's just another trend to follow.”
“I guess when you put it that way....”
“Yes, Brianne, you're more unique than you realize.”
He overlooked my sarcasm. “Now, before we get into learning chords, I assume you're most interested in learning worship songs, correct?”
“Um, yeah. I guess. Though I suppose it would be cool to learn a Coldplay song or two.”
He nodded. “I think we can manage that. What kinds of songs are you guys into at IV?”
“Mm, mostly Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and David Crowder stuff. Some oldies. Some hymns.”
“Okay. I'll try to pull some music for you. I've found that most people are more motivated to learn chords if they are learning to play a song they like. For now,” he rifled through a folder, feeling the corners of each sheet, “let's start with this one. It's what I teach all of my students on the first lesson.” He handed me a piece of music.
“Amazing Grace,” I read.
“Yeah. A classic. It's my grandpa's favorite. Grandpa Ray taught me to play the guitar, and since the first thing he learned was 'Amazing Grace,” he figured it should be the first thing I learned, too.”
“And now you carry on the tradition.”
“Exactly. You know the song, right?”
I snorted. “Who doesn't?”
“Right. So you can see the letters at the top of the music—those are chords. G, C, D, and E minor—all very simple, basic chords. Once you learn those, you'll be able to play practically any song in the world. Just maybe not in your key. But that is what this is for.” He felt around in his guitar case and pulled out a funny looking metal contraption. “This is called a capo. You squeeze it here,” he demonstrated, “and you fit it on the fretboard,” it clamped onto the neck of his guitar, “and it puts your song in a different key. I have a circle of fifths for you that helps with transposing, too. And a map of the fret board to help with chord theory.”
“Okay, slow down, Mr. Anderson. I learned a little tiny bit about chord theory, but that was a few semesters ago, so. I barely remember the stuff I'm learning this semester.”
“Okay,” he laughed. “Sorry, sometimes I get ahead of myself. Let's try a C chord first.” He positioned his fingers on on what he called the fretboard and pressed down on the strings. Then, with his right hand, he strummed. “That's a C. Think you can give it a try? Put your fingers where mine are.”
I looked at his fingers carefully and tried to mirror him.
“Okay, now give her a strum.”
I did. It sounded like crap. I let out a grunt of irritation.
“That's okay. Everyone sounds like that at first. Try adjusting your pointer finger down one string. And make sure you press down hard, with just the tips of your fingers.”
I tried again, and it sounded slightly better.
“There you go! You got it!” My teacher was effusive with praise. I was glad he couldn't see my skeptical expression. “Yeah, strum some more. That's a C. Good job. Now let's try a G.” He repositioned his fingers, and once more I copied him. “Okay, good. Now a D.” He taught me an E minor also, and after reviewing, he suggested we try the song.
My fingertips were already sore from pressing down on the thin metal wires that passed for strings. But I gave it a shot, haltingly getting out each chord. It sounded awful, and I knew it.
“Let's try it together,” Mr. Anderson said. He began strumming, and then singing. It was too low for me to sing, so I concentrated on trying to match him and play the same chord at the same time. My strumming was horrible. I stopped after the first verse, but he kept going.
I tried to make my fingers remember where they should go to correspond with each letter. I still didn't sound as good as he did. He had the easy, relaxed strum of someone who's been playing for years and loves it. And he could sing, too. It wasn't a classically good voice, like someone who would do well in show choirs; he had a unique, kind of soulful, yearning voice.
He sang Amazing Grace like he meant it. And though it didn't matter whether his eyes were open or closed, he closed them anyway, as if by default, to shut out the world a little. Like he forgot I was there. So I just listened as he sang the last verse, about singing praises for eternity. Then he circled back and sang the first verse again, and suddenly I felt awkward.
The last line of it—“was blind, but now I see”—stuck out to me, and I wondered how he felt, singing that. He chose to sing it a second time, and chose to teach the song to me in the first place, so it clearly didn't offend him. His strumming stopped and he fell silent. “You stopped playing,” he said.
“My fingers hurt,” I told him.
“Ah. Well, you'll develop callouses. Start by practicing a few minutes every day. Work on the chords we learned, and I expect you to play the whole song with me next time. And sing,too.”
“Um, okay. But how will I practice? I told you I don't have a guitar.”
“Well, you can hang on to Roxy for now. I told you I'd help you find one, and I will. You just worry about practicing. Okay?”
I ran my hand over Roxy's smooth, varnished surface. “Okay. So...I was kind of crap.”
He smiled patiently. “You did fine, Brianne. Trust me, everyone sounds like that when they start out. You'll get better with practice.”
“Yeah, but you gave that whole speech about trying to see if the music was in me, remember?”
“So is it?”
He didn't answer right away. “I didn't hear you sing,” he said. “When I played 'Amazing Grace.'”
“It was too low for me,” I told him.
“You a soprano?”
“Yeah. I can sing some alto parts, but that was just too low.”
He thought for a moment. “Then let's put it in your key. What do you think, C? Or D?”
“Um...” I tried to remember what Clarke would transpose songs into if I was singing lead. “D?”
Evan strummed a few bars. “That sound right?”
“I guess.”
“Then let's hear it.”
I cleared my throat nervously. I was relatively used to singing in front of people, but in the sudden solo performance for an audience of one, I found myself feeling awkward and unsure. I was beginning to think I didn't really have the music in me after all.
Mr. Anderson graciously, quietly started me off, though it was clearly not an ideal key for him. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound....”
“That saved a wretch like me,” I joined in. “I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind,” I tried not to falter, “but now I see.”
Mr. Anderson's gentle chords soothed my jitters; the key was good for me, and I found myself singing the very familiar song with my own eyes closed. And we were in our own little world, the two of us making music that colored the darkness behind my eyelids. I felt as in that moment that the music had a weight and substance to it, like it meant something.
On the final verse, he joined in again, adding a little harmony—I was impressed. He was really very talented. But somehow, he made me feel like I was talented, too. And it was more than that: I felt like our song had lodged somewhere in my soul. It had soothed some rough corner of my heart and I wondered if he felt that way every time he sang.
“That was really beautiful, Brianne,” he said, in the silence that followed our duet. “You have an amazing voice.”
I shrugged modestly, as I always did, then caught myself. “I enjoy it,” I said.
He nodded. “I can tell.” He felt for his case and began putting Grace away, as well as the rest of his materials. “If you keep at the guitar, I have a feeling you'll find you enjoy that, too,” he said, as he gathered up his things and headed for the door. “Don't give up too quickly. It'll be a challenge at first, but you'll get it.” He turned and flashed me a smile. “You do, by the way.”
“Do what?”
“Have the music in you.”
“Oh. Thanks.” My words were simple, and completely inadequate to express the joy I felt knowing he thought so.
“See you Tuesday.”


Dear Switchfoot,

Thank you.

For an awesome concert & a great night. For writing great music that is fun to listen to and still resonates deeply. And for being real & genuine, and hanging out in the parking lot after your show.

Jon Foreman: I got to shake your hand, get a pic, and tell you that your songs have meant a lot to me--but forgive me, I was a bit dazzled being in the presence of one of my heroes. So, here is what I meant to say, if I'd been able to be eloquent, witty, and didn't have to worry about the other people standing around:

Roughly five years ago, my brother told me about a song he heard on the radio. "It's by a band called Switchfoot," he said. "Have you heard of them? Are they Christian? Because I think he's talking about God."
I thought for a moment. I was pretty sure I had a song or two on some Christian compilations, like WOW. "Yeah, I think they are," I replied. Kyle went on to tell me more about the song "Meant to Live" and how good it was. Not long after, he bought the album, "The Beautiful Letdown." My brother is one of my sources for new music recommendations, so when he told me that it was a really good CD, I borrowed it. He didn't get it back for several months.

Eventually, my entire family had to buy our own copies, because we all loved it so much--all four of us with our own "Beautiful Letdown" CD. (Clearly, this was in the days before we had our zunes.) It took me a while to move past the first few songs, but I finally did and was blown away. You see, 2004-2005 was a rough time for me. I was in a job I hated. My family was going through some rough times--my mom had cancer, my dad was switching jobs, my grandmother died, and we were moving out of our house and into a really crappy apartment. And did I mention I hated my job?

Suddenly I had these songs calling to me, urging me, comforting me. Although I had my family, and we are close, I did not have a community of friendships at that point in my life. I was finding the transition from campus life to the real world challenging. It was a dry, deserty time for me. A dark night of the soul, as St. John of the Cross would say. It was, in fact, a Beautiful Letdown.

So, when I say these songs meant a lot to me, I feel like that's kind of an understatement. For the past few years, since TBL, I have continually found solace and strength in Switchfoot's songs. When "Nothing is Sound" came out, I was grateful for the raw, lament-like honesty of songs like "The Blues" and "Lonely Nation." (And I blogged about it, too.) When "Oh! Gravity" was released, I connected with songs like "The Awakening" and "4:12." I also discovered some older tunes like "You," "Let That Be Enough," and "Only Hope," which somehow were just what I needed to hear at the time. Last summer, when I was searching for direction and leaving a job I loved but which had become too much of a constant battle for me, I was touched by "This is Home." (I cried every time I saw the video--but that probably has as much to do with Switchfoot as it does with the fact that I adore anything involving Narnia, Aslan, and C. S. Lewis.) In fact, my few and faithful readers might remember that I used lyrics from that song several times in this blog that summer.

Even earlier this year, as I discovered "Fiction Family" and caught up on all of Jon Foreman's eps, I continued to be uplifted by the words and music. So many of the songs from "Fall," "Winter," "Spring," & "Summer" just hit me right where I was at. It was another bit of a rough time for me, a time of searching and seeking God, a time of wanting to be renewed and refreshed, and I have to say it: God used many of those songs to restore my soul. Songs like "The Cure for Pain," "White as Snow," "The House of God, Forever," "I am Still Running," and especially "Your Love is Strong" (which my friends and I have played many times in our small groups) were like a healing salve for my troubled soul. They became my prayers in a time when going to church was a struggle.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I discovered that you had become my favorite band. Which was something of a shock, because as anyone who knew me in high school and college will tell you, I was a rabid Newsboys fan for the longest time. I'm not going to compare the two bands, because such comparisons are "odious" as Madeleine L'Engle would quote. It's enough for me to say that your songs have changed my life and probably in some way saved me. I apologize if that sounds hyperbolic, but that's certainly how it feels.

People are already talking about your upcoming album, and it bugs me when they compare it to your old stuff. Not every album has to be "The Beautiful Letdown." Not every song can be "Dare You to Move." To expect that is just folly--it's like people who wanted every M. Night Shyamalan movie to be "Sixth Sense," when if they'd just been paying attention, they would have seen that "Signs" and "Lady in the Water" were just as good in their own way (better, in my opinion, but that's me). From what I've heard, both at your concert last night and on Youtube (I shamelessly looked up people's amateur vids of you playing new stuff), I think it's going to be good. In fact, I think "Hello Hurricane" is going to be my new anthem. I'm already in love with that song, and can't wait til November so I can have a copy of it.

So thank you once again for being real and honest; for writing and playing songs that are authentic and which resonate and speak to people's hearts and pour into their souls. Your songs have comforted me, challenged me, pushed me, and healed me. Thank you for letting God use you.


Jessica Richards
(aka the girl who finally went to see you for the first time last night @ Robert Morris U & had an amazing time.)


The Sea

So, I'm copying my friend who posted a poem on her blog a couple days ago. I'd have done it sooner, but I was having computer issues. They are resolved, at least for the moment, so I'm going to share this tidbit I wrote just over a year ago, while in Ireland. Fair, green Ireland totally brought out the poet in me.
The day after seeing the Cliffs of Moher, we took a ferry ride from Galway to the isle of Inishmoor. I wrote the poem (and took the picture) on the ferry ride.

The Sea
The Sea, the sea
the rolling sea
salt spray
and foaming froth;
graceful waves and
misty rain;
islands wreathed in fog.

The Sea, the sea.
the mighty sea:
though men traverse
your breadth,
who can tame your
savage waves?
You are fierce and cold as death.

The Sea, the sea,
the wild sea:
rough winds and
frigid depths;
desolate cries of
lonely birds;
Your kingdom by Neptune kept.

The Sea, the sea,
the majestic sea:
her empire vast
in reach;
a kingdom teeming with
perilous life,
deeper than eye can see.

The Sea, the sea,
the restless sea:
ever churning, never
at rest;
driven by wind and
currents within,
until Earth's final breath.

The Sea, the sea,
the gentle sea:
whispering your
secrets sweet,
to sailors, explorers, and
lovers of life;
your lullaby sings me to sleep.
JMR, 7/22/08


Starbucks, & Spirituality

So, I got a job. Yay!

I started training at Starbucks this week. (And, because I'm telling the whole internet, I'll probably eventually get stalkers or something. Oh, well.) It's a good company, I'll say that. I'm actually impressed with their ethics (at least their professed ethics!) and values of being connected & committed to the communities they are part of. I mean, if I'm going to work for a corporation, it's nice to know they (at least pretend to) care about their employees and suppliers. And the planet.
On my first day of orientation, I was impressed at language they used to describe the ideal working environment. In one pamphlet, called "The Green Apron Book," five goals/values are listed:
  • Be Welcoming.
  • Be Genuine.
  • Be Knowledgeable.
  • Be Considerate.
  • Be Involved.
I really liked that. In fact, it almost sounded spiritual to me. It sounds like an excellent list of goals/values for a church. "Offer everyone a sense of belonging. Connect, discover, respond. Love what you do; share it with others. Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment."

In fact, when my supervisor read me the mission statement, I was struck by the ways in which they are endeavoring to be connected, at every level.

And don't we all want to be connected?

I've been reading a LOT of Madeleine L'Engle lately. I just finished "A Wind in the Door" today, and as usual, I was crying at the end. Her books have (re)highlighted this idea of connection. She puts forth the deeply spiritual idea that everything is intertwined--from galaxies to the smallest part of the molecules that make us up.

I love that.

Because, for all our instant communication technology (which I'm not knocking; I just had a conversation with my bro via text, and one with a very good friend via facebook), we aren't very connected to anything these days.

So. Maybe coffee is just coffee. Or, maybe, (not to sound like I've been drinking the espresso-flavored kool-aid) it's more than that. I'm looking for a way to keep a positive attitude about this job; I'm trying to find ways to integrate it into who I am. So that it's not just someplace I go and rush around at for eight hours so I can pay my bills. I don't want it to be something I endure...I want it to be part of who I am. I'm still figuring out how that might work.

But if Madeleine L'Engle is right (and I think she is...I hope she is...) then maybe making a good cup of coffee for someone and serving it to them with a smile is a way of fighting on the side of good.

That sounded dramatic. I mean, it's just coffee, right? Consumerism at it's finest?


Maybe not.

Maybe I'm just a little farandola who is finally learning how to Deepen.


The Great Hunt

Well, it's that season of my life again: Job Hunting.

I hate it. But, it is a necessary evil.

Seriously, though, I am baffled. Why do companies care what high school I went to? I graduated from it more than a decade ago, and it's about 3,000 miles away. So what does it matter? Ugh. I feel like filling out applications kills a little bit of my soul every time.

Okay, so I'm being melodramatic. I'm just frustrated that I haven't found anything yet. Even the jobs that I've interviewed for aren't making a decision as quickly as I'd like them to. Not to mention, none of the jobs are exactly things I see myself doing for very long.

At this point, well-meaning, good-hearted people always say to me: "What do you want to do?"

And my answer is always a half-hearted, wistful mention of my writing. But I had a revelation lately. Writing isn't a carer for me, either. Not because I haven't been officially published; I'm learning not to look at publication as a "stamp of approval" from the world certifying me as a "real" author anymore. It's just that writing isn't as much a calling as it is a part of me. I write. I can't help myself. Even when I don't have paper or a computer in front of me, I am telling stories. Sometimes they are only in my head--that steady stream of narration that frames who I am and what I'm doing throughout the day.

Still...it would be nice to get published. I read this great book a little while ago called "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, and she talks about how her writing students always come to class wanting to know how they can get their writing into print. And she instead tells them that most likely, their expectations of publication will not come true. It doesn't often bring fame, fortune, and a sense of purpose. But, she says, write anyway. Writing should be its own reward and joy.

It was good for me to be reminded of that. I am trying to use this time of unemployment to work on queries and outlines and revisions (as well as my other stories). But it's because I want to share my stories with the world, not because I need a sense of self. Part of what I love about writing is connecting with other people. Lately, I've been exchanging books and notes with my friends who are also writers. It's not only fun, it's helpful!!

Another thing that has encouraged me is a favorite author of mine. I've been reading a lot of Madeleine L'Engle lately. And I am struck by how she beautifully intertwines the ordinary and the extraordinary, the mundane and the cosmic. I want to be able to write like that, to create and develop characters that really grow and speak and do amazing things.

So, it's not so much that I just want to be a published author; I want to be a really great writer. I want to write things that speak to people and move them to tears and laughter. I am a writer; what I desire is to be really great at it. And that desire is so strong that most other things pale in comparison.

In the end, is that what I've been hunting all along? Maybe.


"Jealousy is the art of injuring ourselves more than others." (Alexander Dumas)

So, pretty typical morning, surfing the web...what started as a simple search to see if I could squeeze in a viewing of Star Trek before work (sadly, no) ended with bitter diatribes against a movie sub-archetype called the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl."

I wanted to post my own reply to the articles I read, but since most of the articles were months, if not years, old I decided instead to voice my thoughts here and share them with you lovely people.

Apparently, there's some resentment building against a female type of character, most notably summed up by Natalie Portman's Samantha in "Garden State." This is what Jezebel had to say: 'The A.V. Club defines the MPDG as "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."' AV Club also provides a worst-offenders list of cinematic examples, which includes at least two of my favorite movies.

There was also a link to a blog by The Petite Sophisticate which ranted about the real-life versions of these women, whom she termed "Amazing Girls."

Now, I'm not going to repeat or try to relate all of the frustration that was poured out against this type of girl. I can, in fact, see where some if it stems from. However, since when is it okay to bash a whole genre of female? Petite seems to imply that somehow these girls are willfully manipulating the men around them, tricking them into wanting only their brand of love and adoration. She comes off sounding jealous; I wasn't the only one who noticed.

There are some things about Amazing Girls (AGs) or Manic Pixie Dream Girls (MPGDs) that I like and can relate to, and some I can't. Sometimes in movies, their quirky, free spirited ways make me (like the guys who they work their magic on) feel like being less afraid of everything.

However, posts like Jezebel and Petite's make it sound like these girls always steal the guy away from the down-to-earth, ballsy, opinionated chick. Not true. In fact, I've found the opposite to be true in my life. I'm not exactly a pixie, nor am I brunette, but I do love the arts, and I do tend to be wide-eyed and sentimental. Did I get all the guys in college? Nope. You know who did? Girls like Gina--short, sassy, and opinionated. I have another friend like this, and I swear--every time she's around, the guys gravitate toward her.

I always felt overshadowed by this kind of girl--ultra spunky, able to talk about guy stuff and sound knowledgeable, unafraid to try anything. In fact, I was quite jealous for a long time. But the truth is, I knew these girls were not as fearless as they seemed to the guys who swarmed around. None of us really are, right? And I knew they dealt with their own insecurities, and felt threatened by different types of girls.

But why should we women spend so much time feeling insecure and threatened by women who are categorically different from us? Instead of heaping girls into categories and labeling them, dissecting them so they sound less special and unique, we should be celebrating each other. I am serious.

I may like the MPDG, but I also like (and always have) the tough action-figure chick. Princess Leia has been one of my favorite heroines since I was about 3. I loved her! Firing guns, barking orders, strangling Jabba, dressing up as a bounty hunter to save the man she loved...she was flat-out awesome. BUT what made her awesome too was that she had another side: a side that cared about her brother Luke, and who was drawn to Han despite her protests.

I also love Rogue of the X-Men, Batgirl, and Sydney Bristow. Heck, I even loved Daria. She was hilarious in all her dark humor. I love the way my BFF can bluntly say what she really feels. She's full of compassion, but has a low tolerance for BS. She voices her strong opinions without worrying if it's going to offend anyone. When I first met her, it intimidated and kind of annoyed me, but now I love that about her. Because I am not like that. I can't shout my opinions and not be concerned about hurting someone's feelings. At least, not yet.

That's why this whole silly debate over which feminine archetype is superior is pointless. We need each other. We need women who can say what needs to be said, and we need women who love wholeheartedly. We need to hang out together, learn from each other, rub off on each other. We need Realists and Idealists. We need starry-eyed dreamers as well as capable and practical doers.

This starts at a very young age, this categorizing. I know second graders who group girls into "girly girls" and "tomboys." And yet at that age, most of the girls are a beautiful blend of both! So why do we start boxing ourselves in and drawing imaginary geographical lines??

Instead of feeling threatened over which group gets the most guys (or attention), we need to realize the bigger picture. We're on the same side. We shouldn't be competing with each other like the contestants on The Bachelor. No, we won't always get along or see eye-to-eye. But we can help each other. I really believe that.

Truthfully, this is something of a new viewpoint for me. I've spent most of my womanhood being jealous. Of skinny girls. I've been threatened by those cute, petite little girls, like the friends I mentioned earlier. I was angry that some girls seemed to attract guys so easily, while most of my guy friends stayed "just friends."

But I'm on a new kick right now. As I prepare to turn 30, I've decided it's time to leave my perpetual insecurity in the dust. I've spent most of my 29 years feeling inadequate and apologizing for existing. Not just with guys. One of the great things about turning 30 is that I'm realizing all the ways in which it's time for me to grow up. Sometimes it's rough, and none of it happens instantaneously. But one way in which it's become glaringly clear that I need to mature is this basic attitude about myself.

I've decided I don't want to spend the next thirty years of my life trying to live up to other people's standards. Even well-meant ones. I will never be as perfect as I'd like to be. I'll never have it all together. I still don't know exactly what I'm doing with my life, but I have a lot less guilt and angst over it, and a lot more grace.

Grace is a beautiful thing, and I feel like there's not quite enough of it here in the world of cyberspace. So I'm sending out this little tidbit in the hopes that it will "tear a little corner off the darkness," the way God has been doing for me lately.


The Examiner Experiment

So, a while back, as I was doing searches on MonsterJobs.com, I found an ad for writers wanted. Trying to remain calm, I looked closer. Turns out there's this website called Examiner.com, which is like an online news community for major cities all over the U.S. And, they were looking for writers in Pittsburgh! About Christianity, no less!!

I was like, pick me!

I applied and waited a couple months while they sorted through a bunch of applications from all over the country. About a week ago, I heard back--I was accepted! This, considering my current career crisis, is good news. Not good financially, since it doesn't pay anything unless I get tons of views (was that a shameless plug? Where did that come from?? *GO CHECK IT OUT.*)

I'm really excited about the idea of this, since as you probably already know, I LOVE writing, thinking and talking about my faith and how it fits into daily living. Yes, I actually like talking about God and Church. I don't know why, but I do. And considering I majored in it, I figure maybe it's time I got a little more mileage out of my degree (and beef up my writing resume, while I'm at it!).

So, in conjunction with my friend Bekah, who is working on her thesis (on different denominations) and E, who I think is just interested in visiting lots of churches, I'm going to begin an experiment. And though I feel a tiny bit bad I won't be chronicling it here...I'm going to post links so you can still follow along, if you're interested. Keep checking back!!

Here's the link to my first article, a "review" of New Community Church in Wexford.

Take a look and tell me what you think!!! You KNOW I always do better with feedback!!!!

Thanks! :)


The Wisdom of Tolkien

Continuing the "month o' poetry," here's another gem I love. From "The Lord of the Rings":

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Somehow it's both stirring and comforting.


Dealing with Doubt

Have you ever had one of those moments when you said you'd do something you were invited to, and later, you regretted accepting? Like, early in the morning, when you could be sleeping? But then you got up anyway, and even through your sleepiness, you realized there was a Reason you were supposed to go to that thing?

That happened to me today.

I went to church with my parents--ironically, not by their invitation, but a friend who really only asked casually, "Will you be going?" For some reason, I said yes.

They had a guest speaker this morning, and it was when he got up to preach that I realized Why I Was There.

We had Easter (we call it "Resurrection") Sunday last week. I went to my parent's church then, also, but I was really cranky and in a bad mood that morning. But I remember standing there last week, reading the apostle's creed in unison with everyone, and thinking, "Do I really believe this?"
Because from the outside, it sounds kind of absurd. Truth be told, I've never really been on the outside of it. It's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. So I took a step back last Sunday, and asked myself, "Do I believe this?"

And the answer was Yes.

Yes, I believe it all. God, Jesus, the cross, the resurrection , the Holy Spirit, Heaven, all of it. It's too integral for me to think of it as untrue. It's my Life.

But lately...well, quite frankly, I've been better. If you're one of those few souls who regularly read this blog, maybe you've noticed it. I try to be optimistic (but honest) in my posts, but lately, I've really been wrestling. And I'd be lying if I said I haven't been struggling somewhat with my faith. The thing is, though, I don't doubt whether God exists. I don't doubt that Jesus came, died, and rose again.

When I doubt, it's a nagging frustration--a feeling that somehow, God is holding out on me. I doubt his heart. I doubt His goodness, that He cares about me.

When I say it like that, it almost sounds worse than doubting His existence. Because haven't I seen His work in my life time & time again? Hasn't He provided for me? Led me, taught me, comforted me? I'm as bad as the Israelites of the Old Testament, forgetting the great rescues & victories God provided, and turning to idols to meet their needs.

So, this morning: the speaker, a professor at Geneva, starts speaking about Thomas the disciple and his doubt. Something clicks, and I know I need to pay attention. I know this is why I've forsaken my bed and shown up. Doubt is something we all face, to varying degrees. We give Thomas a bad rap, because he didn't take the rest of the disciples' word for it that Jesus was alive. But didn't they all wrestle with doubt those first couple days? Resurrection seemed impossible, despite all the miracles they'd seen. He'd given them every reason to expect it--even raised people from the dead right in front of them. They still couldn't see it.

I'm no different. I've been blinded by my own circumstances once again. And, I've grown cynical and somewhat bitter lately.

In an effort to combat the hardening of my heart, I've turned once again to the writings of John Eldredge, which have steadied and softened my heart many, many times over the past decade. I picked up "Desire" (formerly titled "The Journey of Desire") and have been rereading it the past week. And once again, he's nailed me. Out of my frustration, I have been trying to bury my desires and kill my heart, because I just can't stand to be disappointed any more. But that doesn't work. Desire won't be denied; and it begins to crop up in other areas if we don't learn how to live with it. And we must, because God made us to desire--but He also made us so that our desires are only ultimately fulfilled in Him.

Life, Eldredge says, is both a Battle and a Journey.

I've been feeling the battle part lately. But instead of fighting back, I've been hunkered down in a foxhole, trying to ignore the fire raining down all around me.

I don't have it figured out yet. I'm not suddenly "all better." In fact, if anything, I've been more aware of own humble state lately. I've been a Christian for so long that extraordinary things seem ordinary to me. My senses are becoming dull. My heart's grown hard. I've been looking to other things to fill me. But no more. Without wanting to sound ultra-Christiany about it (as if an ultra-Christian would admit to doubting like this anyway!), I need to turn back to God. That sounds so religious, it almost puts me off. But...I can't delay this any longer.

So, I'm on a journey now--to get my heart back. Here I go.


A Psalm of Life

So, Wendy tells me that April is National Poetry Month. Since I have little to blog about, aside from Lost, I will steal/copy/borrow/recycle an idea from Wendy's blog and share with you my favorite poem.

I found it in a High School English book from 1901 (seriously!) and just fell in love with it. It speaks to many of my favorite themes. I've tried to memorize it, but I always seem to forget a stanza. The last three were quoted by the minister at my Grandma Jean's memorial service.

A Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long and Time is fleeting,
And out hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act--act in the living Present!
Heart within and God o'rehead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time;--

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


What's up with that?

I'm spending a lot of time in fictional worlds, lately.

One is an island--hard to get to, hard to leave.

Another is a rainy town in Washington where Monsters live.

The last is one of my own making--and it's familiar enough, though it's inhabitants exist only in my head.

What is it about Story that sucks me in? It's hard for me to explain. And while I love, LOVE analyzing stories and pulling them to bits with friends, sometimes it's hard for me to express all that rushes through my brain.

I succumbed to peer pressure (well, really friendly recommendations) and started the Twilight series. Several friends (whose other literary interests often coincide with my own) told me I should read them. I resisted for a long time, held back by the hordes of teenaged girls who worship the series and its vampiric hero. Also, I don't like vampires. Never have. Likely never will.

I'm nearly done with the second book now...and I'm sort of starting to see why they are so popular. They are entertaining and well written. I keep going, page after page, even though I think most of the characters are kind of ridiculous. It annoys me that I would keep reading a book in which I don't care about most of the characters. Hopefully they will grow and develop some.

The narrator, Bella, is absurd and naive. A typical teenager? Maybe. I hope not. Edward, the guy she falls for (along with half the teenage girls in the country) is not only a vampire, he's practically perfect. Or at least, a representation of perfection. I find him mostly annoying. I think their interest in each other is shallow, even though it's meant to be deep and profound.

It might not bug me so much if I wasn't working on a story of my own with similar-ish themes. (No vampires. I prefer superheroes.) But I don't want it to be all tingles and meaningful gazes. I've been wrestling with this a lot lately. I feel like I'm straddling a fence here--both enjoying the story, and yet, being frusterated by it so far. Wanting my own writing to be both appealing, but deep. (Is that even possible??)

Anyway. I just had to vent a little. It's not like I picked them up because I thought I'd enjoy them. I wanted to know what everyone was talking about, and I wanted to check out the "competition." So to speak.

But I find that I have very little patience with fictional characters. It's easier. I don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings or asking forgiveness. I can just fume and be annoyed by someone who isn't real, while acting that way in real life makes things really complicated.

I wonder, though: am I spending too much time analyzing fictional characters and their stories that I'm neglecting my own? I hope not. My own life is rather complicated at the moment, so escapisim isn't an unnatural reaction. And I want to work on my own writing. It's easy to lose myself in a story of my own making, to plumb the depths of characters I created and am still getting to know.

And the big question on my mind is, "What will people say about my writing?" --That is, if it's ever made available to the greater public. But shouldn't the bigger question be, "What will people say about my life?"

Writing is only one part of my life--granted, it feels like an important part at the moment. But there are other things I want, too: a simple, healthy, natural, debt-free life. I'm trying to work on all those things, too. But a lot of that can't be scripted, no matter how much I would like it to be.

A life like that flows out of big and small moments alike and is shaped by every choice I make. I don't want to be Bella, centering my whole life around one desire (in her case, to be with Edward!) unless that desire is from God, and for God. But the moments slip away, and sometimes I can't see where my own story will end up. Most of the time, I can't even see the next paragraph, let alone chapter.

This is kind of a weird, long, random post, and for that I apologize. Perhaps next time I won't be so scattered.


Updates, Theories, and a Challenge

So! I've been bad about blogging. I would like to blame it on twitter, which I just signed up for...but I just signed up for it Tuesday. Twitter is one of those geek chic sites all about "letting people know" what's "going on." Kind of like your facebook or myspace status. As if anyone cares! But I do...and now I can check from my phone.

Yes, I'm a geek. Been wallowing in geekiness this week, with Twitter...and Lost.

Years ago, I used to talk about Lost a lot. In the first season, I was ALL OVER the message boards. I'd never been so wrapped up in a show before (except possibly MacGyver). You never knew what was going to happen week to week. Each episode was a constant surprise. Polar bears? A fugitive? Sun speaks english? That first season was amazing, and I put a lot of mental energy into trying to figure things out.

As the show went on, though, it wasn't always so action and question packed. I stopped looking up theories and spoilers. I began to get wrapped up in other shows, too--but I stuck it out with Lost. This season it's paying off. So much crazy stuff is going on! I mean, crazy, time-traveling stuff. It's awesome.

I started looking up theories again. Went to Lostpedia.com to try to make sense of the giant statue in last week's ep, and subsequently went crazy when I saw all the Egyptian symbols and connections. I've since been thinking about Lost almost constantly. I wish I could say I have a theory of my own...but I haven't fleshed anything out yet. My friend Sara thinks the island is Eden. Someone on abc.com posted a theory about it being an alien vessel. I had a thought about it being Atlantis.

All I really have figured out is that there are two opposing forces at work on the island. I'm not even sure who is on what side, or what either side wants. But there have been too many inconsitant messages through out the series--a recent example: Kate, in the present and off the island, gets a phone call in the middle of the night. She hears a garbled message--that when played back, said something like, "You need to go back."
Then she hears a noise in Aaron's room, grabs a gun, and opens the door to see Claire, saying "Don't you DARE bring him back!" And she wakes up. Two very opposite messages.

At the begining of the show, Locke talked a bit about dark and light and "sides." Since Ben's appearance, the idea of sides hasn't gone away, just gotten fuzzy. He's so slippery and keeps flipping things, insisting he's the good guy, all while manipulating everyone to get his way. Lately, he's pitted himself agains Widmore, and they're both claiming to have the island's best interests at heart. Who knows, really? I don't like either one! Anyway, that's all I have. I'm still formulating. I think it would help if I knew a little bit more about Jacob and Richard.

If you have theories, PLEASE feel free to share them here. Once upon a time, Brianne & I had a whole blog dedicated just to Lost, but I deleted it. She didn't watch as much, and I didn't have a lot to say about it. But now I'm really anxious to start talking about it again!!

One last thing, completely unrelated: My friend Wendy, who is very craft-y, posted the following challenge on facebook. I decided to take her up on it, so I'm doing my part by reposting. See what you think!

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me!
My choice. For you.
This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

  • - What I create will be just for you.
  • - I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
  • - You will receive your item before the end of the year (or sooner).
  • - You will have no clue what the item is going to be. It could be a story or a cd. It could be a piece of handmade jewelry or potholder. I may draw, paint, collage or knit something. I might bake you something and mail it to you. I may grow you a plant. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
  • - I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? Oh, the catch is that in order to receive a gift, you have to repost this and make and send out five surprises of your own, so if you aren't gonna follow through and make something for five others, you get nothing from me.

Sounds fun, huh? Let me know if you're interested.

Peace, love, and LOST.


I Yield

So, if you know me, if you've spent any time at all with me or talking to me in the last three months or so, you know that I've been stressed. About a lot of things. My future, my purpose; I'm looking for a new job; my finances...all these things keep piling up in my head. All I've been able to see on the horizon is a giant question mark, and it's been driving me crazy.

So, I do what most people do. I make lists. I try to plan out a strategy. I ask people's advice. I do internet searches. I fill out applications; I try not to spend money on frivolous things. Oh, and I pray.

I've been keeping a journal since the beginning of the year (well, longer than that, but this one with renewed consistency). And so many entries revolve around the question of where my life is going. I keep crying out to God: Show me! Tell me! Speak to me! Reveal Your plan!

I don't have any answers. It's not that God has been silent. I've heard His voice on other, smaller matters. ie, Should I go to Branson? Yes.

And then, I've heard him speak to me in another way. Through the wisdom and insight of others. There's been a theme in my life lately. An idea, that God has been shaping. I talked in my last post about hearing God's song and being in tune with Him--but that presupposes that I AM listening.

Last weekend was Jubilee, a conference hosted by CCO, an organization my dad and friend Wendy work for. I went a few years back and blogged about it. This year I went again--but just to the (free) Sunday session. And perhaps because it was Sunday, the theme of the day seemed to be about Sabbath. Lauren Winner returned to Jubilee (the last time she spoke here was when I was there before and kind of made an idiot of myself to her!) and talked about the Jewish rhythms and purposes of keeping the Sabbath.

And it occurred to me that not only do I not keep a Sabbath day, the time I use to "relax" isn't really a kind of Sabbath rest, either. Because when I get home, I like to chill. You know? Grab some dinner, watch TV, mess around online. And I'm not saying all of those activities are always purposeless. But though I have spent days (even recent days, due to being sick) doing relatively little, I still don't know what it is like to take a Sabbath. To set aside a day in which I do not work, or create anything, and I do not fill the the silence.

Yesterday I was listening to a couple of Ransomed Heart podcasts, and John Eldredge was (appropriately!) talking about hearing God. And he stressed the idea that if you are caught up in the urgency of the moment, of needing an immediate answer from God, then you will most likely not be able to hear Him. I think you can see where I'm going with this. So Eldredge says the attitude needs to be one of openness, humility. Yielding.

Which is kind of the opposite of what I've been doing.

I mean, I try to have the posture of one who understands how dependent she is on God for all the good things in her life. But somehow, urgency begins to crowd all of that out. Daily--sometimes hourly--I have to readjust my attitude. Lately, I've found Jon Foreman's song "Your Love is Strong" to be helpful. Because panic sets in all too quickly, till all I can see and hear is chaos and confusion. And then JF sings,
"So why should I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need,
You know what I need.
Your love is,
Your love is,
Your love is, Strong."

Actually, I've been listening to all four of Jon Foreman's Eps a lot lately, and found them to be very healing. If you don't know, he's the lead singer of Switchfoot (currently my favorite band) and he put out four short cds, one for each season: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. (He also collaborated on a project called Fiction Family with Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins, and I've been digging that cd, too. Wendy & E & I saw them in concert at Grove City College a couple weeks back, but that's another story.) He's just incredibly honest and yet hopeful at the same time, and the songs have been speaking to me.

Well, God has. If I just take the time to listen. If I quiet my heart and the desperate questions clamoring to be answered.

If I yield.


Can You Hear It?

There's a movie that I absolutely love called August Rush. I've talked about it before.
It's about a boy who grows up in an orphanage, but wants to find his parents. He believes if he plays the music he can hear in his head, they will hear it too, and find him. While that overly simplified synopsis may sound cheesy, Freddie Highmore's portrayal of Evan (later stage-named August) was very convincing.
He says of music that it is "all around. All you have to do is listen."

I saw it last year, and I fell in love with the idea of "hearing the music," the symbolism of something deeper and truer than the noise around us, that connects people and draws them together, if only they can hear it.

This weekend, a newly begun Girl's Group met at my friends' house. We watched a Nooma video, one called Rhythm. Wendy blogged about this on her own blog, so technically, I'm kind of copying her. But anyway. In Rhythm, Rob Bell says that God is like a melody, one that's been going on for thousands of years, and that being in relationship with Him is more than knowing chord theory or having the skill to play perfectly. It's about joining Him in the song. The question, Bell said, isn't whether you are playing any music at all. It's, "are you in tune with God?"

Afterward, we talked about that concept, one you can probably guess I liked. And of course, it made me think of August Rush. One thing we talked about was how we often feel "out of tune" and don't always know how to get back. You could extend the analogy here and say that certain disciplines can help you get back in that rhythm, just like practicing and studying makes you a better musician. So, conceivably, things like prayer and reading the bible would also help one get back in tune with God.

But I, as usual, tend to see things just a little bit differently. I've noticed that sometimes retuning happens whether or not I'm trying for it. Sometimes God gets my attention in unusual ways. Like movies and TV shows and impromptu conversations. I like to think in those moments He's doing the tuning, not me.

I'm a guitar player. So I know that once in a while, I need to tune Holly. The B string in particular likes to go flat. But other times, I go weeks without tuning it. It sounds just fine, so why should I? But if I begin to play Holly alongside another instrument, and she's not in tune, look out! And then I pull out the tuner.

But being "tuned in" can have another connotation. The idea is that you actually listening for something. You're aware of it. In this sense, being tuned into God is almost like trying to find a good radio signal. You want just the right frequency. But how do you get that? With God? How do you get that tuned into Him? I think you have to start by listening. By believing that there IS a signal (or a melody), and that you're supposed to hear it. And that you might hear it anywhere, at any time. Not just Sunday mornings. Not just when you're being ultra-good.

I like the idea of God being like a song. It reminds me of the beginning of "The Silmarillion." And "The Magician's Nephew." Both J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis depicted creation scenes as songs. Which, I think is pretty brilliant. In both cases, they became these epic symphonies in which other voices participated.

I think of Life as a lot of things: a Journey, a Battle, a Love Story...I like the idea of it being a Song, too. A song that God is singing. Can You hear it? On a beautiful, nearly-spring day, can you hear it? When a stranger shows you a small kindness, can you hear it? In good conversations with good friends, can you hear it? "The music is all around you. All you have to do...is listen." And then, join in.


Most Ardently

So, despite the lack of bloggage, there actually has been a lot going on--at least in my noggin.

2009 has been decent to me so far, how about you?

  • I'm heading down to Branson at the end of the week, tagging along on my dad & brother's road trip to Texas. Can't wait to see my BFF! Brianne's got a great role in her community's production of "Into the Woods," and I get to see it opening weekend!!!
  • Then a couple of weeks later, she's coming to the Burgh. Sweet! Party at my place!!
  • I got to see Fiction Family in concert at Grove City last weekend. Fiction Family is a project of Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins and Switchfoot's Jon Foreman. Check out their album--it's really good. The concert was fun, too!
  • I'm reading this book called "The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl." It's a true story of a girl (Shauna Reid) from Australia who went from 350 lbs to lose half her body weight over six years. She didn't use a magic pill, and she struggled through rough patches where she regained some of what she'd worked so hard to lose. It's really good--and it's not a diet how-to. It's about learning to accept yourself, no matter what flaws you see when you look in the mirror. She even finds love in a Scottish pub (this is me being jealous!!)--before reaching her "ideal weight."
  • I've finally begun to achieve some maturity by keeping my flat relatively clean this past month. This is a big achievement for messy ol' me. But something happened when I cleaned up on New Year's Day. Ever since then, I've magically begun putting this back where they belong, and straightening periodically, instead of waiting until it's an absolute wreck that I can't find anything in.
  • I borrowed my friend Wendy's copy of the Keira Knightley version of "Pride and Prejudice" and have watched it three times.
Wait. Somehow I suspect that last one should not have made it on the list. It's not really an accomplishment; it's certainly not anything to brag about. But...it is true. I even downloaded the soundtrack. Yes, I've been feeding my voracious inner sap with Victorian romance. *Sigh.* There's just something about that Darcy that gets me every time. And, hey, I'm a single, romantic gal. I can't dream, can't I? And make flair...and desktop backgrounds featuring photos and quotes from the movie....Okay, fine, I'm obsessed. You can say it.

Seriously, though--and I hope this isn't a shocker--I've been thinking about love lately. How it seems to come so easy to some people, and yet, it's eluded me for so long. I'm not bitter, though sometimes it's very easy to get cynical. Is it possible there's a "Darcy" waiting for me somewhere? Are there any left? And even if there were, what are the chances he and I would a) meet and b) fall in love?

I've spent the last few years being relatively content with my singleness. (Read the archives. It's documented.) Now, as 30 looms on the horizon, I'm starting to wonder if love will ever come my way. I'm not particularly worried. But heaven help me!--I can't watch a movie like "Pride & Prejudice" without feeling something stirring in my sappy ol' heart! A longing to be pursued and loved, like Elizabeth was. Well, God alone knows if and when that will ever happen.

So, since romance is out of the picture for me right now, I'm trying to focus on other things. Like being healthy, tidy, and content. Mm. Okay, so that last one's a bit tough. The truth is, I STILL have NO IDEA what I'm doing with my life. I keep thinking something's going to change. I keep waiting for a sign, some direction, anything. BUT...I'm also trying not to stress out about not having my life figured out. Even if I am nearing 30!

There are days--most notably, Mondays--when I groan and grumble and whine about feeling stuck. But I'm trying to remember that God has a plan for me, even when I can't see it. He is leading me, even though at the moment it feels like I'm going nowhere. It's not for lack of trying!

I wrote last year about how I felt like I could sense change around the corner. I wasn't kidding; I still do feel that way. But it's vague and hazy; it hasn't taken shape yet. Does it include a Scotsman who will fall "most ardently" in love with me? I have no idea.

For now, I'm trying not to get to overwhelmed with big-picture things. I'm trying to focus on baby steps. Small changes I'm making. Little goals. This time next week, I'll be at Brianne's!! Yay!! And that's about as far ahead as I can see. Luckily, it's a pretty great view.

PS: For those who, like me, share an affinity for all things Austen, I give you my P&P background:

Considering I haven't done one of these in a few years, I'm rather proud of it. Made with the Gimp.