yesterday

Yesterday was ordinary.

Yesterday I didn’t set an alarm. I woke up, stay snuggled in bed for a while, then hopped in the shower.

Yesterday, I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. They were from a can, and they were delicious. I texted my mom to make her jealous.

Yesterday, I went with Shea to the 2nd Avenue Sidewalk Sale. We browsed our favorite junk shop and stopped by the different vendors set up on the street. I chatted with a ukulele-playing kindergarten teacher and bought a candle.

Yesterday, I made sure we stopped for a while in Reed Books. We looked at old books and new books and pretty books and not-so-pretty books. I bought “The Children’s Classics: Tales from Shakespeare” (1925) and “How to Recognize Typefaces” (1952). They will go in my office.

Yesterday, I made a quesadilla for lunch. I watched Scandal with Suz while I ate.

Yesterday, I straightened my hair. I watched 1.25 episodes of The West Wing during that time.

Yesterday, I played and sang the one full song I know on the ukulele and only messed up a little bit.

Yesterday, I went with Shea, Cameron, and Rex to eat the “best burger in Birmingham.” It was the best burger I have ever eaten, and we concluded that the title is well-deserved. You can find it at Chez FonFon.

Yesterday, I argued with Cameron about the rules of Quelf. I also composed a six-line rhyming poem that is not very good and has since been torn up and thrown away.

Yesterday, I stayed up too late talking with Shea and Rex about the differences between America and China. Cameron fell asleep on the futon.

Yesterday was ordinary.

I like yesterday.

flawed family, perfect love

This morning was the first of a new sermon series at my church focusing on the life of Joseph (the one with the colorful coat, not the carpenter). Today’s title: “Joseph: Staying Faithful in a Flawed Family.”

My pastor spoke about the truth that all families are flawed, all suffering from dysfunction of some sort. He spoke of Joseph’s pretty intense family struggles and gave anecdotes of others he knew with major turmoil in their family life. He went on to speak of their faithfulness in the midst of family strife and how God works for good in all situations, but by that point I had gotten a bit distracted (sorry, Dr. B).

As he spoke of these difficult family situations, my mind began to swarm with every blessing poured into my life by my family. How God put me into a family that never gave me cause for significant struggle. An imperfect family, yes, but one that has always, always, always been a rock for me. 

I give thanks for my dad, who leads our family and Grace Fellowship with humility and courage. For him always putting family first. For passing on the ridiculous sense of humor we both share. For teaching my brother and me to be unapologetically passionate about what we love. I am thankful for his honesty and how he acknowledges his short-comings and struggles. For the way he shares his gifts with our family, our church, our school, and our community. For instilling a love of history inside of me. For his consistent example of servant-leadership. 

I give thanks for my mom, who has poured her life into our family. For the sacrifices she makes in order to be there for the ones she loves. For calling me out when I let fear and complacency take hold in my life. For making time when Jay or I need to talk. For memories captured in her photographs. I am thankful for the way she confronts her weaknesses and helps me face the ones we share. For the way she loves ferociously. For her preparation. For joining alongside my brother and me in pursuing our futures. For embodying Christ-like womanhood.

I give thanks for my parents as a team, who together instilled in me a great love of reading and a thirst for knowledge. For they way they continue to support my dreams and passions. For forever placing Christ as the cornerstone of our family. For praying blessings over Jay and me every day of our lives. I am thankful for them taking the time to know us. For their example of a godly marriage. For the many ways they show they love us and for telling us often.

I give thanks for my brother, who has grown into the most incredible person. For his sharp wit. For his unwavering loyalty. For his uncanny ability to text me at just the right time. For his intelligence and insight. For loving me even after our obnoxious middle years. I am thankful for his heart, how he shares himself with the ones who matter. For his ambition and imagination. For the way he stays true to himself. For his encouragement.

I give thanks to the Lord, who placed me in just the right family. I will be forever grateful for their stability and unwavering love, for the blessings I have received through them. We will never claim perfection, but we will claim each other, and for that I am intensely grateful.

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life lessons in the apple store

After months and months of dealing with my iPhone’s broken lock button, I finally made the time this weekend to take it into the Apple store and get it checked out.

It was a simple issue, and the whole Genius appointment (including wait time, diagnosis, setting up the loaner phone, and putting in the repair paperwork) took less than an hour. That’s insanely good for such a habitually packed store. I’ve had wait times nearly as long at Apple stores before. 

As the Genius was wrapping up the appointment, he looked up from his computer and said, “Thank you. You’ve been so pleasant and cheerful, especially with the wait, and just…thank you.” The look on his face was absolute and total relief, so much so that I felt like I would start crying.

It was clearly evident that this technician had been through a rough morning and most likely a rough few days before, too. He probably dealt with more than his fair share of angry, belligerent customers in his face about issues he was doing his best to solve, maybe so many that the nice customers began to seem like mirages. 

I heard no fewer than three angry couples in the store while I was waiting for my appointment (which, by the way, was 10 minutes tops), and I could see the strain on the employees’ faces as they worked to handle those situations with tact and poise. 

It breaks my heart to see situations like these, to see that much relief on an employee’s face when he finally comes across a pleasant customer. That shouldn’t be such an unusual circumstance. That’s the customer we all should be, isn’t it?

I don’t say this to toot my own horn; I say this because I didn’t feel I was doing anything out of the ordinary, and yet it came across to the technician as extraordinary.  I had an issue, he helped explain the situation and solve it, I said thank you with a smile, and somehow that’s not the norm? Something is wrong there.

Please be nice to your salespeople. They are doing a job that requires a lot of patience and mental stamina, dealing with all sorts of people. If they didn’t do their jobs, you wouldn’t have access to a lot of things you look forward to and/or depend on. You know what it’s like to have hard days, so please don’t be a contributing factor to someone else’s. Actively seek to make someone’s day brighter, and you most likely will.

 

 

2014 bookshelf update: part four

I normally go through phases with my reading, back and forth between my Kindle and physical books. Well, I’ve been in a physical book-phase for about seven months now, and my bookshelf is an overstuffed testament to the fact. Alas, it is a great and terrible thing to realize you have no more room on your bookshelves.

July proved to be a month of non-fiction (quite out of the norm for me), while August was a lovely hodgepodge of genres, from mystery to children’s classics. Only one of the six books I read was on my To Read list, which shows you just how easily distracted I am when it comes to reading. Oh well. I do have quite a few books from my list waiting in the wings for the next couple of months, though.

Moneyball, by Michael Lewis

The movie Moneyball lands on my list of all-time favorites, so when I saw the book on my brother’s bookshelf back at GA home I immediately asked if I could steal it away from him. I was actually fascinated by how much I enjoyed the book, even though its subject matter is actually much, much larger than the scope of the movie. The book focuses on the history of the statistical methods used by the Oakland A’s, with the personal narratives strewn throughout for color and greater understanding. The movie, of course, centers entirely on the narratives. I’m not really a baseball fan, per se, but I love a sports underdog story as much as the next person, and Lewis wrote about the statistical story in such a compelling voice that I found myself truly appreciating the subject matter (and it’s pretty dang hard to get me interested in math). Definitely not a book for everyone, but truly fascinating in its own way.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey

I adore Tina Fey. Absolutely adore her. And though I’ve been meaning to read her memoir for years, I only just picked up a copy this summer. It. Was. Magical. Her humor and personal style comes through as clearly on the page as it does when she’s on TV. I have never known myself to guffaw before, but this book awakened that ability in me. It’s just that funny, as well as being endearing and honest and sarcastic and everything the world loves about Tina Fey. Do yourself a favor and put it on your list (and add Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Amy Poehler’s soon-to-be-released Yes Please to complete the golden trifecta of modern female comedy).

The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon

Thankfully I left some space between my reading of Bossypants and picking up The Winter People because that, my friends, is a massive genre switch. TWP is a mystery/suspense/ghost novel set in the small town of West Hall, Vermont, “a town of strange disappearances and old legends.” In 1908, little Gertie Shea was found dead, driving her mother, Sara Harrison Shea, to desperately search for a way to bring her back. Sara is found burned alive in the backyard not long after. In present-day, 19-year-old Ruthie lives in the old Shea house with her mother and sister…until her mother suddenly disappears. With all the legends and mysteries surrounding West Hall, Ruthie uses Sara Shea’s diary to try and track down her mother. I was mostly pleased with the book, and it was sufficiently creepy throughout the bulk of it. A lot of the suspense is gone by the end, unfortunately (though I actually appreciated that since it made it a lot easier to fall asleep that night), but I think it would make an excellent fireside read for the coming fall/winter.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle

I somehow escaped childhood without ever reading this pillar of children’s literature, so I decided to rectify that situation. It was definitely enjoyable, though I’m pretty sure I would have appreciated it more reading it as a child (I’ve developed a terrible habit of over-analyzing children’s literature in the last few years). Don’t think I’ll attempt the other four books in the quintet, but I’m glad I finally marked this one off my list.

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

This marked the end of my backwards march through Flynn’s published novels (if you’ll remember, I read Gone Girl in January and Dark Places in May). And just like the other two, Sharp Objects left me throughly creeped-out. The novel follows a reporter for a low-tier newspapers in Chicago as she makes the trek back to her small Missouri hometown to cover the unsolved murders of two little girls, presumed to be the work of a serial killer. I’m not going to go into any further plot points to keep as much of the mystery alive as possible for you should you choose to read it, but just know that you need to have some chocolate and a funny follow-up book on hand to help you recover from your time in this dark, unfriendly town.

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date, by Katie Heaney [Recommended by Shea]

It’s no secret to readers of this blog that I’ve never had a romantic relationship in my 23 years of life, so a memoir with this title seemed pretty appealing. And after finishing the first chapter of this book, I was simultaneously excited and terrified to continue reading. I resonated with far too many of Heaney’s experiences, from cringe-worthy middle school crushes to “I have no idea what’s going on here” situations in college, and it was pretty nice to know that these moments are more universal that I often feel they are. Heaney also wrote in such an honest, hysterical voice, and Shea and I shared a lot of late night laughs over nearly every section of the book. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it long-term, but right now I’m still pretty happy I read it. I’ll let you know if those feelings change.

There’s actually a chance I’ll finish another book (Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season) before August ends, in which case I’ll come back to update this post. But for now, my July/August count sits at 6, and I’m pretty happy with that.

As always, book recommendations are more than welcome. I’ll even swap you one if you want.

Happy reading, y’all.

we interrupt your regular blogging for a short public service announcement

I have a lot of things I want to write about. But right now they all seem either really petty or incredibly beyond my skill to discuss. There’s been so much going on this week that I’m still having trouble comprehending it.

What I will say is this: Pay attention to the world around you. Get your news from multiple sources. Don’t rush to broad, sweeping judgements. And remember that sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the news doesn’t make it go away.

If you’re on social media, make it work for you. Follow different news channels and sites, and pay at least a moderate amount of attention to what they’re posting. Use apps like Pocket to save articles for later when you can’t get to them right away. Subscribe to services like theSkimm to get a brief snapshot of world news in your inbox. Find what works for your lifestyle, and use it.

I’m saying this as much to myself as to anyone else. If we’re going to be a Light to the world, we owe it to the world to know what’s going on.

wonder full

First things first I’m the realest: I am now in possession of a ukulele and can now live out my three-week long dream of sitting on the balcony/patio playing “La Vie en rose” like that one really sweet scene from How I Met Your Mother. But so far I’ve only downloaded a tuning app and learned two chords, so…

Second things second, I have realized that I totally skipped last week’s post, but oh well. You’re all adults. You can handle it.

It’s actually been a pretty swell last week and a half, to tell the truth. I’ve felt pretty productive at work, I spent some quality time with the parentals, I got the aforementioned ukulele, and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy twice (you should really go see it yourself if you haven’t as it is golden).

OH, and I also attended the wedding of two really wonderful people at which I got to dance, laugh, and generally enjoy the company of other really wonderful people and my heart is so giddy about it a week later, oh my goodness.

Weddings like this are absolute dreams for a post-grad like me (that is to say, extremely extroverted and possibly-too-attached to college friends that no longer live nearby). There are hugs and stories and laughing and more hugs, and everything just feels right.

And guess what! Tomorrow happens to be the wedding of yet another pair of wonderful people that will be attended by a group of wonderful people, and I don’t think I could be any more excited. It’s basically ENFP crack, y’all.

And that’s really all I wanted to say today. Weddings full of friends are awesome, and I love them. The end.

(Also I was serious about GotGGO SEE IT NOW.)

 

that on-stage itch

This past Monday, I got the chance through an #InstaMeet to explore the the Lyric and Alabama theaters in downtown Birmingham. The Lyric, which hasn’t been operational in quite a while, is currently undergoing massive renovations to revive the landmark, so it was pretty cool to be able to wander around the various parts of the building and get a glimpse of the old grandeur of the place (albeit, a rather dusty glimpse).

The Alabama, on the other hand, has been thriving since 1927, hosting concerts, movies, ballets and more through the years. I had been to see a few movies there before, but Monday was the first time I was able to explore the on- and backstage areas.

As I walked onto the stage to gaze out upon the sea of plush seats, a lump rose in my throat and I felt a few tears roll down my cheeks. I’m pretty sure no one saw it, thankfully, but it did happen.

I miss performing, you guys. It was my lifeblood for so many years, basically from birth until high school graduation. I was in One-Act Play, the spring musical, church children’s musicals, the praise team…whatever I could get my hands on. But then came college, and it all just stopped. And now I’m really beginning to feel the effects of it.

It’s not that there weren’t any opportunities for me in college; in fact, there were plenty. And I participated in a few, but nothing that really gave me an audience. Step Sing was the closest I got, and it’s definitely one of the reasons I became such a Step Sing fanatic. I was always too nervous and scared to try out for even the smallest School of the Arts productions, so I just kind of let it slide and satisfied myself with being a regular audience member. There’s too much other stuff in my life going on, I told myself. I don’t need to add a rehearsal schedule on top of it.

But that itch to be on stage, to sing and act and perform, it never left me. And it’s been resurfacing more and more often in the year-ish since I graduated.

Hence, the tears on the stage of the Alabama.

There’s a very special brand of joy I feel when I’m performing, and I’m verging-on-desperate to recapture it.

All this to say, if anyone in the Birmingham area knows of any opportunities for amateur actors/singers or any opportunities to work with children’s theater, please do let me know. I’ll be incredibly grateful.

Thanks, guys.