Roller Coaster

I’m trying really hard to be okay.  But I only have three sessions left with my therapist and frankly, I’m not sure that’s going to be enough.

Sometimes I feel so sure.  So confident that everything is going to be okay.  So secure that I’ve got this all figured out.  At least as well as anyone can, and frankly, probably better than most.  Sometimes I feel so in control and so perfectly imperfect.  Sometimes I feel like life will go my way and everyone should stand back and be amazed because I’m everything a person should be.

And sometimes it takes so much damn work to just speak above a whisper.  To feel like my voice has a place in the madness.  Sometimes I just can’t muster up a smile or the energy to make you happy.  Sometimes I feel like I might never fit, I might never be the right thing.  Maybe I’ll spend my life as a very square peg trying to fit into too round of a hole.

Maybe it just takes more work than I want to admit.  And maybe nobody ever really gets it right.  A sad Picasso can still paint sunflowers.  I feel like there are a million possible solutions.  And all I need is one.  Just one to start working.

I can do this.

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Up Beet

I’m still applying.  And I’m starting to hear back from things to which I’ve sent back applications.  They’ve all been no’s.  But it’s just so exciting to even hear back from someone.  At least my credentials justify a response, even if it’s just a form letter.  I’m excited to be getting rejection letters.  I think this may be a personal low.

But in spite of that, I’m happy.  I’ll keep applying and try to stay positive.  I can’t count on anyone else for positive reinforcement, I’m learning.  Not my professors, not my classmates, not my transcripts and resumes, not my friends.  Not that these people won’t come through (well the professors won’t…but my friends do) but because when push comes to shove, I need myself.  And I’m learning that.

So right now, I’m frustrated.  Because for years, I knew I would excel in academia.  I knew I’d make a fucking incredible professor, researcher, mentor, and peer.  This was the field for me.  And that shifted and changed over the years, but I always knew.  I’m a writer and a researcher and a teacher.  And now I sit in class and I don’t know.  Where will I go and what will I do?

But if there is a God [and I’m sure there is], then She has to have a plan.

So for now, I keep dreaming of that PhD.  Keep trusting myself despite the setbacks.  And keep applying to any and every other option I can think of.  And while those plans start to fall into place or start to transform into new doors and windows I couldn’t imagine, I’ll plant a garden.  I’ll watch the Walking Dead even if I really don’t know how I feel about Season 3.  I’ll surprise everyone by cooking something edible.  I’ll do some yoga.  I’ll wrestle with that golden retriever.  I’ll listen to the goddamn Giving Tree Band because I love it.

And it’ll fall into place.  Because I’m only 24.  And I’ve really got my shit together for a girl so young.

There will never be a need

I’ve sent out application after application to nonprofits, cities, and schools.  I’ve got at least fifteen under my belt at this point.  And I’ve heard back from none of them.  That’s right.  Nothing but crickets.  Not even a form letter letting a misspelled version of my name know that the position has been filled.

But I keep trying.  I just applied for a director position at a Des Moines non-profit, an entry-level political advocacy position in DC, and a grant-management position in Salone.  There are three more opportunities.  Three more chances to find some direction for this whirlwind.  Or three more chances to wait on silence, silence, and more silence.

I’m trying to be positive, but my lucky letter opener hasn’t been used in years.  I need some feedback.

I’m trying to keep my chin up, stop crying in grocery stores (seriously…sorry Shnucks), and trust that a Mother Goddess, karma, or qi has my number and plans to take this junkyard body somewhere these metal hands can make a difference and my heart can breathe again.

Sometimes, I believe in divine intervention with every ounce of my being.  And sometimes everything seems recklessly chaotic.  Everything fits together, every turn of the stream, every river bend my pocahontas eyes can’t wait to conquer.  Every broken insect wing tells a story that I need to hear. Right now I’d like an aerial photograph, so I can see where I’m going.

But God grant me patience while that shiny silver knife waits for an envelope.

California Dreamin’

I can tell I’m under stress because mind is racing every night with crazy dreams.  Not necessarily nightmares, just busy dreams.  Like my mind is afraid to take even a few hours of sleep to slow down and shut out the world for a while.  I have to keep running or who knows what could happen.

For being the shortest month of the year, February is too damn long.  Its cold and it makes you feel like summer is never going to come.  And I’m dying for summer.  But also terrified of it, because it will be different than any summer I’ve had before.

I know I’m young.  I’ve got years and years in which everything will change.  But I’m learning that life changes without my advice or permission.  And I wish it would let me in on the process every once in a while.  I make plans and plans and plans and they never work out.  And I know it will all make sense eventually, but in the meantime it’s terrifying and frustrating.

I thought I finally knew what I was going to do.  I thought I’d finally found it, finally figured it all out.  And I made huge sacrifices for that plan, for that dream.  And now I’m left  scrambling to pick up the pieces of my ideas and my hopes and stitch them into something useful. And I wonder why I have to do that.  Why my original pattern had to be torn apart. Why I never make something whole.

I’m tired of these motley plans sewn together with broken dreams. I’m a person, not a patchwork quilt. I’m tired of living in the seams.

But it seems like that’s all I ever do.

A good start

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and I have no idea how far I have to go.  It could be thousands upon thousands of miles, it could be just a couple hundred feet.  It could be just a short journey back the way I came.

But sometimes when nothing goes right, you go left.

Life is always shorter than you think it will be and time flies by too fast.

We’re all silly fools.  And someday we’ll understand what we’re doing.  I hope we can all laugh at how wrong we’ve been.  Maybe we’ll have to cry a bit first. A sort of compulsory nod to the mistakes we’ve made.

I just don’t know.

UptoDate

I had an idea in Mass this week about a blog post I was going to write.  The gospel lesson was the story of Peter in the boat.  Jesus  telling Peter to cast down his nets just once more, enter into the deep and see what you catch.  There was a connection, a moment I could feel like Peter in this story, feel my feet in the water.  I had something to say about it.  And I didn’t write it down.  There doesn’t seem to be a moment in the Mass where it is appropriate to pull out my kitten-themed journal (You’ve Cat to Be Kitten Me Right Meow) and jot down notes.  So like I knew I would, I forgot.  I don’t know if it was the idea that God is sometimes right, even when we think we’re the expert (Peter was the fisherman…Jesus was just a carpenter).  Or if it was that God’s miracles are so extravagant, maybe we could even say wasteful (the crowd watching didn’t see Jesus’ miracle to Peter…Jesus didn’t bring in the catch), but in a way that proves he doesn’t operate on the world’s terms. (Cue Judas singing here…Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication). Maybe its that discipleship means being called out of abundance into poverty, rather than the other way around (Jesus called Peter to leave the biggest catch of his life and join him on an ill-fated quest that ended in death for all involved).  Maybe it was none of these things.  I don’t remember.  All I know now is that God doesn’t work like we do. She’s on some different wavelength entirely.  And it wouldn’t hurt us to try things Her way from time to time.

I’ve been more than scatterbrained lately.  I bounce around from thought to thought, rarely accomplishing anything and sometimes worried about that, but sometimes incandescently happy.

My skin is so dry, I am turning red.  Its time to go use the crappy, greasy lotion my work keeps back by the giant tub of recycling.

No matter how great a haircut, you’ll never be able to style it like they do in the salon.  Ever.  Well, maybe you could.  I can’t.

Beauty is so socially constructed.  I’m learning this and sometimes I don’t care and I still buy in whole-heartedly.  And sometimes I feel like its just not worth my time or money to become “beautiful.”  We’re not gonna pay last year’s rent.

Ash Wednesday is coming up and I think I’m going to give in to the Lenten fast.  Not Chocolat style by any means, but I haven’t really bought in to this ritual since my sophomore year of college back when Elle and I fasted together.  I have a couple of days to figure out what fasting means in the context of religion (not just food-fasting, btw).  Sometimes, I think I could slip into treating it like a New Year’s resolution.  Which is not the point.  Its about sacrificing for the good of our hearts and our world, not for losing 10 pounds or kicking a bad habit.  I think we’re called to give up what separates us from God and from each other.  Even if its only for 40 days, its the will to walk.  I can tell you one thing, though, I won’t be giving up wine.  Jesus understands that one.

Jim’s Pants

Today I am wearing my old pair of denim skinny jeans.  My closet has now expanded to include other pairs of skinny jeans, but these are the only classic blue denim.  I’ve had them for years.  Probably way longer than anyone should ever keep a pair of Target jeans around.  And I think its officially time for them to retire.  I just washed them, so they should have that newly washed denim feel.  They should be a little too tight to put on, relaxing as the day passes.  But no…it’s 10:45 am and they’ve been stretched too big since about 9:00.  Sigh.  Apparently these jeans are tired.  And it’s time to put them to bed.

Goodbye skinny jeans.

Goodbye to the pants that went with me to the Tiger Hill Pagoda.  Goodbye to the pants that sat on the city wall of Xian and climbed the Great Wall.

Goodbye to the pants that have been at every college I have.  Truman, ISU, NIU…these pants have walked on every campus.

These pants have been thrown on the floor of 5 different living spaces.  Apartments, houses, and dorms.  Probably more when you think of all the places they stayed on a more temporary basis.

My first pair of skinny jeans.  My first break-out from my fear of my short stubby legs.  I’ll never go back.

These pants have seen a lot.  Its time for them to go.  But I wonder what they’ll miss.

I hear the people sing

I saw Les Miserables this weekend with my roommates.  It was my second time seeing the film.  I think I liked it better the second time because I knew what to expect from the film, so I could focus more on the beautiful cinematography, the areas of the musical they chose to highlight, Enjolras, etc.  One of the things that stuck with me from this viewing was the “heaven” Jean Valjean (and many of our other notable heroes from the film) finds after his death.  Spoiler alert, I guess.

Heaven is the barricade.  But its not the sad, lonely barricade of the ill-fated revolution. It is rebellion the way it was supposed to be.  The city has risen to its feet and joined our heroes behind the wall, singing the music of a people who will not be slaves again.  This is what the revolutionaries of the ABC cafe had hoped for.  They intended their barricade to be a spark that would set Paris ablaze.  It was to be a call to arms, a sign, a rallying point that would wake the people of France from their slumber to hear the cries of the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved.

It didn’t happen that night, but in Valjean’s sleep we see that dream become real.  We see the city on its feet, the city at the barricade.  We see the road of  injustice barred and we hear a people shouting for freedom, for love, for hope.  At first it seems jarringly violent, to see heaven as the site of a rebellion, a place of battle and death and war.  It seems at odds with the words they sing that we will walk behind the plowshare, we will put away the sword.

And then you notice…no one at the barricade has a weapon.  No one has a gun.  No one has ammunition.  They stand in peace, a powerful force simply because of their numbers.  There is no army in the world that could have overcome that barricade.  It was too strong.  There were too many people who believed in it, too many standing behind the barricade having given their lives to the cause of justice and love.  This is how we overcome; this is how we triumph.  We stand together.  We become a light in the darkness, a spark that sets weary hearts ablaze and we stand.  No weapons, no war.  Just love and faith that the world could be made righteous.

Heaven is a rebellion.  It is a revolution.  It is light coming into a dark world, a world that would do anything to snuff it out.  Heaven says that the poor will sit at the right hand of God.  Heaven says that love is always right and hope will never disappoint.  This revolution started small and for a moment, it may have seemed like all has failed.  But if we open our eyes, if we stand together, I know we’ll find that heaven is a barricade and that we will hear our voices raised in song.

Damn their warnings, damn their lies
They will see the people rise.

Still in bed

Its hard to get started this morning. So I made a list.  Of things I love.

  • Sepia photographs.  Forever.
  • Making eggs.  Scrambled.  Fried.  Omelets. Hard boiled.  Anything.
  • Bearded men with pony tails on top of their heads.  Suspenders encouraged.
  • Hymns
  • Rain.  Especially when it is warm out.
  • Worn ladders.  Anything stacked.
  • Dark hair with a fringe.  Zooey or Michelle.
  • Animals.  Especially wet dogs.
  • Football matches.
  • Stars in a midnight blue sky.
  • Old books.
  • Warm summer air.  Flowers, fields.  Cities.  Gardens.  Streetlamps.
  • Backpacks.
  • Notebooks, journals, and stationary.
  • Getting mail.  Especially postcards.
  • Mellow music.  Alexi Murdoch, Bon Iver, Pearl and the Beard.  Anything that is rich.
  • Sleeping anywhere but in a bed.
  • My family.
  • Board games.  I love all board games.
  • Themed parties.  Any excuse to get together with my friends.
  • Birthdays.
  • Farmer’s markets and small local businesses.
  • Grocery stores.  Small ones.
  • Tee shirts.  Embarrassing but true.
  • Water.  Lakes, ponds, oceans, rivers, streams, fountains.  Anything that is wet and moving.

Today I have a lot to do.  And I’m exhausted inside.  This helps.

Acts

This is just an off-the-cuff thought, but what if we started running our denominations (parishes, synods, whatever word you want to use for your particular resurrection of the Christ) more like they did in the early church?  Not so much asking individuals to share their wealth (can’t get too socialist here) but rather asking the different congregations to do that. How many small or rural congregations (and of course, some urban) are struggling for resources while the latest mega church opens another coffee shop or builds a new worship arena fit to hold 10,000?  Maybe part of being part of the church means looking out for the church.  Not just individuals, but the actual other bodies that we claim to support through common sacraments and creeds and statements of faith?  This doesn’t even have to start crossing theological boundaries.   The ELCA has both Fjeldberg and Lutheran Church of Hope.  Is it the duties of our brothers and sisters to look out for the differing bodies of believers who may be in need?

I need to think about this more.