Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the gap

I am small enough to fit in the gap between younger and old enough

Sunday, November 18, 2007

sold!

I made my first etsy sale today!!! Wahoooooooooooooooooo!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

etsian not-so-anonymous

So... I'm addicted to etsy. I can't stop. Listing, looking, forum-ing... all-around etsy-ing. Still no sales, but I have 31 "hearts" (fans) now, which is way cool. And tonight, I was feautred in THREE treasuries. This one sort of doesn't count because the curator featured anyone who asked, but this one and this one (both on the still-under-construction Treasury West) were complete surprises to me, and I'm pretty excited. I'm also included on the brand new etsy mini blog. This is so much fun. It's good to be hearted...and treasured...and blogged.

Actually selling something would be nice too. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

bright red boots

I just don't even know what to say about this crazy boy.

"What can I compare you to?
My favorite pair of shoes?
Maybe my bright red boots....
if they had wings."
(the weepies)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

questions and answers

I have so many questions. But what I'm learning is that even though it seems like the goal is to get to the answers, the growth lies in the asking itself.

This week at work, I started doing individual therapy sessions with clients all by myself, and it's the most fulfilling thing I've ever done. Mostly what I do is ask a lot of open-ended questions: How do you feel? What are you thinking? Where did you learn that? How is that working for you? What could you try instead? Why do you think you feel this way? And on the surface, it looks like the point is that the client is supposed to tell me the answers--the correct answers--to the questions. But that's not really it at all. The therapy lies in the client simply acknowledging that the questions exist--asking themselves the questions. Maybe they don't tell me the answers. Maybe they don't know the answers. But the answers aren't what's going to help clients get better. What helps them get better is struggling with, wrestling with, living with the questions.

I'm still talking about parables in my Sunday School class, so I've been thinking a lot about why Jesus spoke in parables. In some ways, it may be because it made things easier to understand, but I don't think that was always the case. In Matthew, we're told very clearly that the disciples didn't understand the parable of the weeds (which I covered last week.) When they're alone with Jesus later, they ask him to explain, which he does. So why didn't he just say it that way the first time? Did he make a mistake? Did he not know what sort of communication the disciples needed? Of course he knew. He knew exactly what his followers needed. And, apparently, as much as they may have wanted clarity, answers, Christ knew that they needed, first, curiosity. They needed to wonder. They needed to ask.

And so do we.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

hell-bent

a boldly remiss man
is belated but
hell-bent on clutching
a waylaid dream

starving artist?


You may recall that, a while back, I mentioned the idea of trying to sell my collages. Well, I decided to go for it. I discovered etsy this summer, and I'm pretty much in love with it. And now, I have my very own shop there! I still feel like a bit of an imposter in the art world, but less so than I did at first. I'm pretty bad at the whole self-promotion thing, but I have gotten some positive feedback from people at indiepublic, an indie art and design community I joined, which is exciting. Also, 2 people have listed my shop as a favorite on etsy, and one (different) person has listed one of my collages as a favorite piece. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal (and maybe it isn't, really), but knowing that there are three people in the world who are moved by my work makes me feel pretty amazing. It makes me feel vindicated. It makes me feel like an artist.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Henry's higher latitudes

That one measley Walden Pond picture just wasn't enough. How about a little more Thoreau goodness?

"I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass..."

"Be rather the Mungo Park, the Lewis and Clarke and Frobisher, of your own streams and oceans; explore your own higher latitudes...Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought."


"...beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes."


"Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations."

And my favorite:
"Only that day dawns to which we are awake."
Am I awake? Are you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

a new thing (or 5)

"See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?"
(Isaiah 43:19)


I perceive it, all right.

Where do I start? Why haven't I written in so long?

Big deep breath. Here goes.

Homecoming weekend at Emory was fantastic. I finally contacted my favorite professor/friend/hero, Dr. Qualls, which I had been needing to do for ages. I hadn't told him anything about what has been going on in my life. It turns out that he already knew about my Graves' disease and medical withdrawal from school, but he nonetheless deserved to hear it from me. I'm not sure why it took me so long to tell him; I think I was afraid of disappointing him. Which was ridiculous, and I knew it. But still the mere thought of him--of all people--not being proud of me was so scary that I just hadn't been able to face the risk. But it had really been weighing on my heart, so at long last, I emailed him and arranged a time to meet with him. It was good for my soul to see and talk to him. He has taught me more than anyone else--about life, about people, about myself. I don't know who I would be if I didn't know him. It was a blessed reunion. He gave me a lot of helpful advice about the grad school application process, but also shared a lot of encouraging words about God's providence... and about the gifts I have and the clinician I'm going to become. Or am becoming. It was very uplifting, but also sad, because of our relflection on my senior year at Emory. I knew that he knew I was hurting then, but I didn't know until now how much it was hurting him. I should have listened when he told me I needed help. We both know that, but still, he didn't scold me. He didn't say he told me so. He just smiled through his almost-tears and said "Welcome back." I feel like he restored peace into my soul, sewed up the faint but still present wound of my feelings of failure and doubt, reintroduced me to myself.

Another joyous homecoming reunion: Dallas and Emory, together again at last. Having my best friend in my favorite place--and the place where we became friends--was tremendously exciting. It felt like the culmination of our semi-parallel healing processes. We took our typical Sara/Dallas middle-of-the-night walk aroud campus, ending at our typical spot by the duck pond for our typical discussion about the intricacies of life. So much has happened since the last time we did that. We are different. Our friendship is different. Everything is different. And yet, everything is exactly, mysteriously, wonderfully, the same.

All in all, it was a weekend of coming full circle.

The next weekend was also an exciting one. Joe and I headed to Boston to visit Jenny and Katie&Nathan. It was SO good to see them. Good friends are such a blessing, and the further away I am from mine, the more I appreciate them. We had a wonderfully fun visit. And I'm quite fond of Boston, I think. The highlight, however, was our trip to Walden Pond. I am a huge fan of Thoreau (and a general literature nerd), and it really was magical to be in the very place where Walden was inspiried and written. I don't see how anyone could behold its beauty and not be transformed into a transcendentalist.




Having experienced the real thing, I want to read Thoreau's masterpiece again. Except I think my obsessive reading habit is going to have to come to a tragic end, as my day-to-day life is about to get really busy. For a few reasons.

First, my job is finally about to start. I've had my first day of computer training, and I have three more this week, after which I will start working for real. I'm still fairly unclear about exactly what goes on at the crisis unit, but it sounds as if I'll actually be doing something that requires specific diagnostic and therapeutic skills that (I think) I have. Which is exciting.

Second, I'm exponentially increasing my church involvement. Ever since I started feelinig healthy again, I've been feeling a desire/need to serve in some capacity, but I really didn't know where to begin. I prayed that an opporunity would present itself, and sure enough, one did. Jo, a lovely woman who I dearly love, asked me to take over her role as senior high Sunday School teacher, which she has filled for something like 12 years. I regarded this request as a direct answer to my prayers and enthusiastically accepted. My plan is that we'll be reading and discussing parables indefinitely. This past Sunday was my first time teaching, and I think it went well. We talked generally about what and where parables are and then examined the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast (Matthew 13:31-35, Mark 4:30-34, Luke 13:18-21.) I figured it was a good one to start with since it's the only one that appears in all 3 of the gospels that contain parables. The kids seem to like me despite my demonstrating my nerdiness by coining the words "micro-kingdom" and "macro-kingdom" in my attempt to offer my interpretation of that oft-compared but never-defined "kingdom of heaven." I'm very excited about what's to come.

The thing is, I thought God was finished answering that prayer about service opportunities. I thought Sunday School was it. I checked "find a way to serve" off the list. But it seems that Sunday School was only the beginning. Another (bigger?) opportunity came along after church on Sunday, in the form of a message from my pastor, Gene, asking me to call him. I did. With what could only be understood as desperation in his voice, he asked me if I had any interest in leading the youth group. (Our youth director has just been fired, which I won't go into, because I don't really know anything anyway.) I told him that I'm getting ready to start a full-time job and the grad school application process and teaching a Sunday School class, and that I would be happy to help someone, but that I don't have time to be in charge. Trying to be polite, but clearly frustrated at my lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation, he explained that it's nice that I'll help, but he has no idea who I'd be helping. In other words, I'm the only hope. I'm really not sure how that happened, but I, too, am having trouble coming up with people who I think would want to take this (volunteer) job on. But, why me? Gene came over this afternoon to talk to me about it, and basically, the conclusion was.... I'm going to do it. Because I love youth. Because I love this church. Because I know how upset they are about their leaders leaving. Because I know how much some of them need a mentor and a listener. Because I don't want the youth program to die after we've worked at rebuilding it. I'm still very unsure about how I'm going to go about this, and I hope I can find someone to help me. I don't know how I fell into this position, but all signs seem to be pointing to me doing this. Except that I don't know if I'll have time. Or energy. But still, the idea is exciting. I'm still trying to sort it all out. I'm not sure if the take-home point is (a) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) or (b) Be careful what you pray for. Maybe a little of both.

So, that pretty much sums up what's been going on with me. Except that somehow, accidentally, in the midst of all this, I fell in love.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

live in love

I am determined to live in love
but afraid I will forget how

Friday, September 28, 2007

God, the Tao, and me

I just finished reading the Tao Te Ching in its entirety for the first time. I'm still not sure I understand the concept of the Tao (and perhaps its essence lies in its elusiveness?), but I think the poetry is beautifully revelatory. Chapter eleven especially resonated with me:

Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness comes from what is not there.


How very true, even for my Western, Christian self. God uses me not in spite of, but because of my insufficiencies--my open spaces, my holes. For it is only when I acknowledge the extent of my inability, my "what is not there," that I can truly and fully invoke the power of the Holy Spirit, who can do all things. If I rely on "what is there"--on what I can do by myself--I may profit, but I will not be useful. The climax of my Graves' disease story was the moment of surrender--the "I can't." It was the beginning of the long healing process that brought me to this point, where I am able, again, to be a servant...an offering... used.

"...power is made perfect in weakness.... For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Thank you, Lord, for making me inadequate.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

waiting for peace

nerves tingling
I wait impatiently
for peace

Sunday, September 16, 2007

one autumnal face

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face
(John Donne)

Autumnal is such a good word. And it's true--fall is in the air. I love it. In celebration, a few of my favortite fall photos:

















Friday, September 14, 2007

to create

to create is to
be freely poured out
so that love rises up
and shines

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

insane and lovely

all I want is
one insane and lovely man

in repair

So... life. An outline seems like a good idea.

I. Weekend Life

A. Labor Day Weekend. It was unexpectedly good. On Saturday, Mom and I went to Mamaw's to visit with some Perry relatives who were in town, some of whom I hadn't seen in a long while. It was much better than my other recent interactions with visiting family members who seemed not to know what to say to me. My aunt Helen and I had a pretty long discussion about academia, her Ph.D. program, the grad school application process, etc. It was refreshing to be addressed as an intelligent, competent, ambitious individual. I also had a great deal of fun playing with my cousin Kibbey's two daughters, Emma and Cecilia as well as my other cousin Angela's daughter, Kate. We all colored, played with Play-Doh, and the like. It was really great. I don't get to spend time with kids very much, and I think my soul needed it. I was especially pleased that Emma (who is 8) greatly enjoyed the Mad Libs we brought along--and she was very well-versed in the parts of speech, so we bonded over our love of language. :) Kindred spirits we are. It is just occurring to me that that's something I really haven't written much about in here, strangely enough. So I'll do it now. :) I'm a bit obsessed with grammar (and punctuation and spelling) and delight in taking photos of errors. If my grammar love can be regarded as an obsession, this photo-taking is the corresponding compulsion, designed to reduce the anxiety that errors cause me. (How's that for being a grammar nerd and a psychology nerd all in the same sentence?! ;)) Here are a few of my favorites:






To see my whole collection, go to my album on Facebook.

My brother also came home for the weekend, and it was good to have him around as always. And he gave me my second stick-shift driving lesson, which was enjoyable. He's a good (and patient) teacher, so perhaps in the near future I'll be able to drive the Z3 we got this summer... I mean somewhere other than in a parking lot. ;)

B. Last Weekend. Also good. I went to Blacksburg for the concert for Virginia Tech with Alex (not my brother... my friend's brother-in-law, actually). It was really fun. Both John Mayer and Dave Matthews were utterly fantastic, and the evening was a blast. On my drive there, I listened to all four John Mayer cds in chronological order, and it was much like re-living the last 6 years of my life. "No Such Thing" came out my senior year of high school, when I did, in fact, desperately want to "run through the halls of my high school" and "scream at the top of my lungs." And now, having been through what I've been through in the last year and a half or so, I'm somewhere between a big screwed-up mess and a totally healthy and content person: "It’s taken so long / I could be wrong / I could be ready / Oh, but if I take my heart’s advice / I should assume it’s still unsteady / I am in repair." And in between, so much love, loss, faith, doubt, confusion, hope, fear, adventure. And all along, John Mayer was the soundtrack. I love music.

On my way from Blacksburg/Radford to Emory, I stopped for some quality Dallas time, which always makes my heart happy. I'm so proud of him on so many levels.

Then to Emory, my very favorite place in all the world. I was half-dreading this visit though, knowing it was going to be bittersweet, being my first Emory visit since Katie and Jenny (and some other people, obviously) graduated. It's very strange being so far removed from what's going on there, and that really didn't happen until this year. Last year, my best friends were still there, I was there a lot, I had an automatic place to stay where I could randomly show up (and did once, accidentally). I still felt very much a part of the community. But now I'm really gone. Saturday afternoon, I was sitting on the front porch of the house where I was staying, and I saw an unfamiliar person walking down the street. This struck me as odd, as if there was no possible way that there could be an Emory student I don't recognize. Then it occurred to me that half the students are people I don't know, who don't know me. This is obvious and natural, I realize, but it was a striking realization. And that probably makes me sound like a loser who really needs to move on with her life, but I really don't care. So much of my heart resides among those hills. So regardless of the weirdness (some expected, some not), it was good to be in that place. I got to see lots of beautiful Emory faces. So many people made me feel so welcome. And loved. I am so blessed.

II. Week Life. Not as good. I still haven't started my job, which is frustrating. I keep calling and leaving various sorts of messages, and my cousin/future boss hasn't called me back. It's strange, because she acted as if she actually needed me to work, even though she is also doing this as a favor to me, I guess. I hope I'll hear something this week. I don't know of anywhere else I could get a job that would be at all relevant.

In terms of my health, my energy level is a bit better, I think, but otherwise, things are the same. I'm feeling fine. I very rarely get muscle cramps, and when I do, they go away really quickly. I'm not gaining weight anymore, but I'm not losing it, either. I'm still working out, but I'm getting bored with my ballet workout, so I think I need to find something else to do. My Granny keeps telling me I should start doing Weight Watchers. I'm not excited about that, but I probably should give it a shot. I really do need/want to lose 20 pounds.

I'm still playing the piano some every day, and enjoying it a lot. I've increased my repertoire quite a bit and am slightly less pathetic.

I think I've decided that I'm not going back to Radford. (I already said that once, I realize.) I think that if I went back, every assignment (in the classes I had last semester) would have to be a reminder of how sick/miserable I was last time I tried to do it. And couldn't. And how I made myself sicker/more miserable in the process. And while I know that now, I can do it, I don't want to have to be faced with such specific, tangible reminders of my past failures. I don't think I deserve that. One person in particular is trying with much (adorable) persistence to convince me to go back, and I really appreciate the sentiment and effort, but my mind is made up. I think. So I'm resuming my doctoral program search and preparing for the application process. I'm feeling a huge amount of overwhelmed dread, but with just the slightest twinge of hopeful excitement.

I've been uncharacteristically fickle lately--my feelings (yes, about one thing in particular) wavering, unsteady. I'm trying not to overanalyze, which, as you might imagine, is quite difficult for me. I need to stop thinking so much, chill out, take it one day at a time. Or maybe ten minutes at a time:

Will you share your life with me
For the next ten minutes?
For the next ten minutes
We can handle that
We could watch the waves
We could watch the sky
Or just sit and wait
As the time ticks by
And if we make it till then
Can I ask you again
For another ten?
-The Last Five Years

Monday, September 10, 2007

playing dress-up

Still pretending to be an artist. Update on my actual life later.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Call me Ishmael.

A few weeks ago, I started writing an entry about the (many) books I've read since I last posted anything book-related. I never finished it, and the list of books is only getting longer, so I decided to go ahead and post a few thoughts about book #1, Daniel Quinn's Ishmael (no, not Moby Dick.)

It was great. I had heard a lot about the book from various people who read it for school, so I expected a lot, but still wasn't disappointed. Being excessively introspective as I am, I too often get so wrapped up in all the things happening within me that I fail to think about the grand scheme of things--the big picture. This book served as a powerful antidote to my selfishness. One thing I'd never given much thought to:

"At present there are five and a half billion of you here, and, though millions of you are starving, you're producing enough food to feed six billion. And because you're producing enough food to feed six billion, it's a biological certainty that in three of four years there will be six billion of you. By that time, however, (even though millions of you will still be starving), you'll be producing enough food for six and a half billion--which means that in another three of four years there will be six and a half billion...In order to halt this process, you must face the fact that increasing food production doesn't feed your hungry, it only fuels your population explosion."

This flaw in logic reminded me of a thought I had when I visited the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing in DC when I was in sixth grade. I was quite fascinated with watching the way money is printed. Realizing that money is something that people literally make with paper and ink, I thought, why, then, don't they just make more of it so that everyone will have enough? I eyed a man who was standing (behind the glass) at the end of a conveyor belt and tried to telepathically send him a command to print off some extra dollar bills and go hand them to all the homeless people outside. I think I had a vague sense, even then, that this act wouldn't actually eliminate poverty, but I lacked the economic vocabulary (and probably still do, much to the chagrin of my economics-major friend, Bethany) to determine just why not. It seemed so simple. But, of course, it wasn't. And yet, we're using the same logic in our attempt to elimiate world hunger. Though very troubling, I found this parallel rather enlightening.

I was also very interested in the book's discussion of the creation of the world in Genesis, partly because it was consistent with my personal (seemingly unpopular) view that Adam and Eve do not dichotomously represent man and woman in the neat and orderly way that seems to be widely accepted. I have always thought it important that the Hebrew words for Adam and Eve do not mean "man" and "woman, but, rather, "human" and "life," respectively, and Quinn, using these definitions, brings to light an eerily sensible etiology not only of the human race, but of modern Western culture. It's brilliant. I could say much more about this book, but I'll stop before I start quoting entire chapters. Let me just say that if you haven't read it, you should: I promise you'll enjoy yourself and learn a little (or big) something.

Monday, September 3, 2007

wild stallion

moved by the mountains
I was thinking like a wild stallion
away from home

Sunday, September 2, 2007

hazy grey things

I have hazy grey things
wrapped in my shadow

I am not falling in love
and I wonder why

Friday, August 31, 2007

staying put, but going places

Another fun trip over the weekend. I went to Lexington to hang out with my brother (and company), which was a lot of fun. Then I went (back) to Durham for the Styx/Foreigner/Def Leppard concert, which was also a lot of fun. I was a little disappointed that Styx failed to play a lot of the songs that I really wanted to hear (including but not limited to Show Me the Way and Mr. Roboto), but Foreigner was way better than I expected. And it was fantastic to spend time with Jess, Heather, and Sarah again. On my way home, I also got to see Dallas, which was wonderful and much-needed.

I'm getting ready to start a job, which I'm both excited and a little worried about. I did an internship (of sorts) at the local mental health agency last summer, and didn't have a very good experience, mostly because there was very little for me to do. My cousin has since been moved to some sort of leadership position there and supposedly has shaped things up. So she's giving me a job at the crisis unit. I don't really know what to expect, but I'm hopeful that it will be more productive and meaningful than my previous experience there. At the very least, it'll be good experience to list on my resume (and I'll make a little money.)

I'm feeling more and more frustrated with my current situation. It sounds rather paradoxical, but it's as if, now that I'm back to my normal mental state (happiness, if you will), I'm able to see beyond my illness and realize just how unsatisfied I am with that fact that I'm living with my parents and not going to school. I had to go to Wal-Mart the other day (the first time since I've been home!), and I desperately wanted to buy school supplies, and it was strange coming to the realization that I don't need any. I almost cried. And tonight I had a very frustrating conversation with my mom. I told her that I'm thinking of/planning on taking a trip to Boston in October to visit my two best friends who both just moved there, and I ended up getting a lecture about how I "play" too much and need to get my priorities straight. And I understand that I have traveled a lot this summer (mostly to weddings) to see my friends, but I feel like I've needed to do that. I don't have any friends here at home (Ashley was here for a couple weeks, but she's back at school now), so it's pretty lonely. If you know me, you know it takes a lot for me to be lonely (I tend to love being alone), but I am lonely. I need friends. Especially considering what I've been through. And even though I know now that my depression was because of my thyroid, I want to be intentional about not putting myself in a position where I'll be at risk of getting anywhere close to that state of mind again (i.e. by not interacting with anyone except my parents.) I don't want to get there again. Depression is hell.

But I don't want to talk about that, because (praise Jesus) I'm not there anymore. I'm restless and unsatisfied, but I'm healthy, and I just have to keep reminding myself of that. And I'm still feeling inspired and creative, which is wonderful, and has led to some more collaging--and more departure from what I normally (used to) do:




Again, feedback (positive or negative) is much appreciated. One thing that makes these different from anything I've made before is that I didn't do them with the intention of giving them to someone in particular, or of keeping them for myself. I just made them... to make them. And the idea of not having a specified audience is very freeing and greatly widens the scope of artistic possibilities. And thus, I have begun fantasizing about selling these things. I haven't told anyone that I'm thinking about that, because it seems very presumptious of me to think that anyone would want to buy them. I'm embarassed that this has even entered my mind. I'm not an artist; I just like to cut and paste, which anyone who went to kindergarten can do. So I don't know if it's something I should even be entertaining. Maybe I just have too much time on my hands (Styx did sing that song, by the way.) Or maybe it could happen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

worn

my heart's not old but still so worn
I have to laugh when they say it glows

Thursday, August 23, 2007

show me the way

I just got back from a bit of a whirlwind adventure to Radford/Christiansburg/Blacksburg/Durham/Raleigh, and none of it was what I expected. I had a doctor's appointment on Monday--a follow-up to being on Synthroid for two months. I think I've mentioned that I felt sure that my dose needed increasing, but, as it turned out, my blood work indicated that that's not the case. While it's good that my hormone levels are normal, I'm a little frustrated, because I don't feel like they're normal. I still don't have the amount of energy that I think I should have, and I still can't lose weight despite working out every day and having the smallest appetite I've ever had (though I'm pretty sure I have at least stopped gaining weight.) I'm just slightly confused, because my understanding was that the point of Synthroid is to get my metabolism (and everything else the thyroid controls, which is everything in the known universe) back to what it was before I ever got sick--in other words, that my endocrine system would function as it did when I had a properly functioning thyroid. But my endocrinologist seemed to be telling me that my metabolism (and stuff) is the same as that of the average person, even though it's a far cry from what mine was in my pre-Graves' disease days. So it seems that the version of "normal" I was waiting on wasn't really the goal after all. And I don't like that. I want to do a little research on this "average person normal" vs. "me normal" issue. It's confusing to me.

I was supposed to go see three amazing 80's rock bands (Def Leppard, Foreigner, and Styx!) in Raleigh on Tuesday with some of my Durham pals, but the show was postponed because of a terrible thunderstorm (the venue is outdoor.) It was a terrible disappointment. My parents are a little less than pleased that I'm making that trip again on Monday (the new concert date), but I've been looking forward to this show for months, so I'm going, irresponsible and expensive or not. It's going to be worth it... plus, it means I get to see Jess, Heather, and Sarah twice in a week, and that's definitely good for the soul. :)

I seem to be internally wrestling with a lot of things right now. For one thing, I made something, in my head, into a much bigger deal than it actually is. And I'm not sure why. I guess I was just excited about the prospect of something, well, exciting. And new. That I think I'm ready for. That I want. At least in theory. And the thing is, it's not even that the prospect isn't actually there, it's just that the feelings I thought I had about it... I really don't. I wanted to. I tried to. I convinced myself that I did. But I don't. And I don't know why. And now I'm just confused about the whole thing.

I'm also becoming really unsure about my future plans. I thought I had decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to go back to school at Radford. A few weeks ago, I started looking at Ph.D. and Psy. D. programs online, making lists of faculty members with research interests that match mine, and planning to apply to lots of programs with the hope of getting in somewhere for next fall. But in the past couple of weeks, I've begun to question this decision. And I'm not sure where this questioning is coming from. Is it God? Me? Fear? Other people's opinions? I can't figure it out. Part of my reasoning for deciding not to go back was that I want to start over. Not have to be faced with my past failures. But maybe that's too easy. Maybe I have to deal with the failure that I was. But didn't I already do that? Isn't that how I got here? Or am I just being a coward, trying to run away from my problems? my disease? my insufficiency? But I'm better now, so why revisit all of that? In the past few days, I've told a few people about this struggle, and I've gotten mixed responses. A new friend told me that I should be glad that I'm "already established" at Radford, because that's hard to do. I countered that being established is not necessarily good, because I'm established as a sick person, incapable of completing the task at hand. "But you're not sick or incapable anymore," he insisted. And he's right, but still, is that enough? Should I have to prove that I'm not that way anymore, when I could just go somewhere new where I never was that way? where I could be the real me from the start--excelling from the beginning rather than having to pull myself out of the shadows of Graves' disease? An old friend, on the other hand, suggested that leaving something undone (i.e. not going back to Radford) might be good for me--a new experience, since I'm not typically the sort of person who leaves things undone. I got to spend some time with some of the clinical girls on Sunday night, and it was really good. I do miss being there with them. But I'd be so behind that, academically speaking, I wouldn't exactly be part of the group anymore. But I wouldn't really be a part of the new class either. And wouldn't that be lonely? But again, is that reason enough not to do it, or am I taking the easy way out? Not that starting a doctoral program will be anything close to easy. If I can even get in. Which I might not. And that's terrifying... and maybe that's where this uncertainty started?

I don't know how this got so complicated. I need a BIG helping of discernment. Which reminds me of the song I most wanted to hear on Tuesday:

"Show me the way / show me the way / Take me tonight to the river, and wash my illusions away..." (styx)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

flaws

A shame that my mind
is not very kind.

More so, that my heart
is not very smart.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I should tell you

Interesting and exhilarating things seem to be happening in my life. The sort of things that only happen when you least expect them. When Dallas asked me how the situation (which shall remain unidentified for now) feels, I very ineloquently replied, "Kind of wonderful... and scary... and wonderful." I still can't come up with a better description than that.

It may not even amount to anything at all, but it might be the beginning of something big. We'll see.

To quote the Eagles, "We may lose or we may win, but we will never be here again."

And to quote RENT, "Who knows? Here goes."

Friday, August 17, 2007

too clever

with a nervous spontaneity in his green-brown eyes
he is unmercifully uttering words too clever for simple me

Thursday, August 16, 2007

my desire

my desire is to be
doubting yet loving
resting yet seeking

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

tuesday's child

Full of grace? Perhaps, but only because I'm kneeling at the feet of Jesus, who has plenty to give.

And what better physical representation of Christ's healing power than JESUS BAND-AIDS?! Hahahaha. Katie sent me these for my birthday, and I laughed out loud for quite some time. They're pretty fantastic. I sported one on the bug bite on my foot all day, and it totally made my day 10 times better.

Not that my day needed improvement. This has been the best birthday I've had in a long time. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't celebrate with my brother (whose birthday was yesterday), but things turned out to be simply wonderful anyway. Granny took me out to lunch, which was very nice. Then I went out to dinner with Ashley, my next-door neighbor/best-friend-since-I-was-four, and our moms (sadly, Dad is having severe back problems and was unable to join us... perhaps he needs a Jesus band-aid?) It was quite a delight. Ashley just returned from Memphis, where she was working for the summer, so we had a lot of catching up to do. She's the sort of friend with whom I always pick up right where I left off, regardless of how much time has passed since we last talked. I have missed her so much. I love her like a sister, and getting to discuss life with her tonight was an absolute joy. It wasn't a present or a cake, but it was exactly what I wanted for my birthday.

And she gave me a compliment of the highest order: "Talking to you is like therapy," she said. I think it dawned on me then more than it really had yet how far I've come in the last few months. I feel healthy. And happy. I had honestly forgotten what happiness was like, but this is it. And I like it.

Jesus does heal. Hallelujah.

Monday, August 13, 2007

art therapy

I made a collage today. Collaging (which, I know, is not really a word, but should be) is a favorite hobby of mine, but I haven't actually created anything in a long time. I'm rather excited about this one, as it's quite a departure from the sort of thing I usually do. And being creative feels so good, which has gotten me thinking a lot about the use of art in therapy, which is something I'd like to study at some point. Anyway, I thought I'd share it with you. I'd like to think that something is lost in the transition from collage to photo to computer screen, but I think you can get the general idea. I'd love to know your opinion. Like it? Hate it? Otherwise?


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

lost and found

on my broken journey
across mountains of blue unknowns
I am lost
and yet
in You
I am found

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." -Matthew 10:39

it's not easy being green

Your Brain is Green

Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance.
You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver.
You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).


Reminds me of a poem I wrote a long time ago:

You've been wearing black a lot lately,
he said, and then a sarcastic smirk and
it matches your soul.

No
My shirt is black, but my soul is
green

And not darkened green or
watered down green but

green like shamrocks green with life
green like John Deere tractors green with energy

Not some version of green like olive green
or forest green or sea green
or jungle green

And not some wannabe green like
chartreuse or granny smith apple
or--heaven forbid--electric lime

Just green
original green
has-been around-forver green
never-gets-old green
is-full-of-life green
always-looks-brand-new green

Green like a blade of grass
nestled in with the others,
rooted firmly, yet delicately,
and reaching toward heaven
green

That matches my soul.

Monday, August 6, 2007

colors not yet invented?

tumbling beneath paint-splashed skies
I yield to earth's hues
soft and dark
I am stained by the delicious colours

living in my head

"...my groans are many and my heart is faint." -Lamentations 1:22

I'm frustrated with life right now. I'm very mad at one of my best friends and I can't imagine a way of becoming un-mad. Another of my best friends seems to be very unhappy and I can't figure out why or devise a way of making it better. I got lectured today about the ungrateful child that I apparently am, and I feel guilty all over again for what I've put my parents through but also annoyed by the nature of said lecture. I think I'm categorically different from the rest of my family--much less practical, which is probably a bad thing. In the words of my beloved Augusten Burroughs, "I live in my head." There's so much to do in there (I've come to the conclusion that my brain contains much more of my favorite neurotransmitter, dopamine, than most people's), and the outside world is infinitely less interesting. The real world--the world where the most important thing is whether or not my car is clean--is an awful bore. Why should I bother with washing my car when there are poems to be read, dreams to be interpreted, theological issues to be pondered? I'm ridiculous, probably, but if so, I'm not so much frustrated with how ridiculous I am as with the fact that everyone else isn't ridiculous too.

Yet another wedding weekend has come and gone. It seems like all I've done this summer is watch my friends get married, and it's obviously very exciting, but it's pretty weird, too. I think my current circumstances make it especially bittersweet, because while I'm very happy for all my friends who are moving on to bigger and better things in life, these celebrations are also powerful reminders of the fact that I'm not moving on to anything bigger or better, or anything at all, really. It's like I'm standing still on the side of the highway because my car (you know, the dirty one) broke down, and I have to wait for someone to come and fix it, and in the meantime, I just get to watch everyone else pass me by. Sometimes I just want to whine about it, to utter those terribly immature words: "it's not fair."

Similarly, I've become increasingly frustrated with our society's tendency to define people based on what they do rather than who they are. This issue is one that has bothered me for a long time, but its destuctiveness has taken on a new level of clarity for me recently, because now, when I'm defined by what I do, I'm being defined, essentially, by nothing, because that's what I'm doing with my life right now. In the past week, I've visited with two different sets of family members who are/were visiting from out of town, and it has been quite awkward. Normally, they'd ask me about school, but since I'm not in school for right now, there's really nothing to talk about. My great aunt and uncle spent about an hour talking to my brother about his engineering classes and his medical school plans while I just sat there, feeling invisible. I can't blame them, really, because they really don't know me, but it was difficult nonetheless. Yes, I am taking a necessary break from being a student, but I am not, for the record, taking a break from being a human being with worthwhile thoughts. And to make this whole exchange worse, one of my most-loved family members (maybe the nicest person I know, really) said something that really hurt my feelings. While my aunt and uncle were talking to my brother about how he might end up as a hugely successful physician in Houston (where they live), she threw in, "If Sara ever finishes, maybe she can work on their minds!" If I ever finish. I hadn't realized that there was any question in my family's mind that I will finish, that I will do what I have planned to do. I know she didn't mean it how it came out, but it left me feeling like she has very little faith in me; it left me feeling (as if I didn't already) like the Black Sheep of the family: Alex will be a doctor, and maybe someday Sara might be a therapist. I am going to be a therapist someday, and I'm going to be a damn good one. It is not a possibility or a maybe. I know this. But still, that "if" has been echoing in my head over and over, and I need it to stop.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

seasoned laughter

your laugh was bright as
the honey-sweet midsummer
but unforgiving as
winter's sunless desolation

Thursday, August 2, 2007

promises and lies

in defiance of my mighty hope
all your comforting promises
are only bitter lies

Monday, July 30, 2007

loser

"That's what a loser is: someone who doesn't even do what they say they're gonna do. I mean... it's bad enough if other people tell you what to do and you don't do it, but when you can't even do what you say you'll do... that's a loser." -Dad

Thursday, July 26, 2007

listening ears

Last weekend was fantastic. I love that I've sort of been adopted into my brother's group of friends. We went out on John's boat for a full day of tubing, cliff-jumping, rope-swinging, and the like. It was good fun. And, of course, Harry Potter was truly magnificent. I have a lot to say about it, but I'll wait a few days before risking spoiling anything for anyone. At this point, I will just say that it was beautiful and wonderful and I loved it. But I'm incredibly sad that it's all over now. After I finished the book, I just sort of walked around my room like, oh... what do i do NOW? It's very hard to believe that this massive and intricate story is complete; that the adventurous journey I've been on for 6 years is over. Forever. I'm being dramatic, but it feels like I already miss the characters, as if they're my friends. As if they're even real. But in the words of the infinitely wise Albus Dumbledore, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why one earth should that mean that it is not real?"

Things are also quite good in the non-literary part of my life (which is, joyfully, the minority.) The past few days have brought several opportunities for me to engage in my favorite activity: listening. Listening is what I love. It's what I do. I've always been a person to whom people come to talk about their problems, and that's something that I have always taken pride in and immensely enjoyed. However, while I was sick, I had a lot of trouble listening well; I was in so much pain myself that it was tremendously difficult for me to step outside of my own issues and empathize with those of others. I was somewhat aware of this at the time, but I didn't fully realize how much I missed that part of my life until it re-emerged the other day on a walk around the park with Tyler. It's when I listen to people--really listen to the real stuff of their inner lives--that I feel most alive, most purposeful. It's then that I feel most clearly that God is using me in just the way He planned to use me. And I have begun to feel that on a near-daily basis again, as two other friends have since come to me needing to talk. I feel resurrected. I am so glad that these opportunities have presented themselves to me and that, more importantly, I've been able to rise to the occasions. I'm still not 100% better physically, but I'm emotionally healthy enough now that I have been able to listen the way I used to, which is a huge blessing, as much (maybe more) for me than for those who've come to me with problems. I'm back. And my name isn't Frasier Crane, but...I'm listening. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

peculiar and promising

a peculiar and promising moment of surrender
signals the official beginning of autumn
or of love

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

wildest flight

"...But I have found our thoughts take wildest flight
Even at the moment when they should array
Themselves in pensive order."
-Lord Byron, Manfred

I'm still having trouble organizing my thoughts such that I can write them down, and the more I have on my mind, the more incapable I feel of sorting it all out.

First things first, I suppose. I really liked the Order of the Phoenix movie. It seems that I actually liked it more than a lot of people did. It is, of course, always frustrating that so many plot elements must be left out for time purposes, but I thought this movie still flowed well, and was, in fact, quite captivating. I thought Delores Umbridge and Luna Lovegood were both perfect. And while this movie was very dark in nature, as the book was, I was especially impressed by the humor in it; I kept finding myself laughing in precisely the way I laugh when I read the books. The trip to Lexington itself was also most enjoyable--surprisingly so, actually. Of course, the movie premiere was just practice for the infinitely more exciting book opening this weekend. I think we're going to Knoxville to Potter-party with John, one of Alex's best friends and also one of my favorite people. It promises to be a good time. I'm becoming increasingly anxious about who is going to die in the book. I had previously rejected the idea that Harry could possibly die, but I'm beginning to fear that he will, in fact, have to sacrifice himself in order to defeat Voldemort. For the record, I think, with quite a lot of conviction, that Snape is good. I think he may actually be the ultimate hero of the story, but that the other characters may never know of his goodness, making him a very successful, if deeply tragic, suffering servant. I'm very excited about finding out what happens, and also sad that the end of Harry Potter is imminent. I feel like I'm about to lose a friend.

Which is also how I feel about the Nickel Creek break-up. I was feeling unexpectedly (thought not outwardly) emotional at the end of the concert on Saturday, reflecting on my three previous experiences seeing them live and mourning the fact that this one would (probably) be the last.

I was also sad because 3 of the 4 friends who were originally coming with me ended up not coming for varying reasons. I was thoroughly disappointed that the weekend didn't turn out the way I planned (not that anything ever does, I guess), as I had been planning/looking forward to it for months.

Where am I today? I wish that I knew
'Cause looking around there's no sign of you

(Nickel Creek)

Of course, the show was amazing anyway. I am always in awe of Chris Thile. It's like he's on some separate plane of existence from the rest of us, hovering somewhere between mania and immortality. It's quite a sight (and sound) to behold.

It's all enchanted and wild
It's just like my heart said It was going to be


I was thinking about how thrilling it would be to meet him (and Sean and Sara, too), but really, I feel like I already know them, perhaps even better than i know some people in "real life."

Every tone I play would give whatever I've not said away

I had a lot of fun, but I'm still trying not to be upset with my friend(s). I'm generally too hard on people, or so I'm told, but I'm just not quite over my disappointment, I guess. My friends really are great, and I really do love them, even when I disagree with them, even when I'm disappointed.

Take every chance you dare
I'll still be there
When you come back down


Speaking of friendships, I've been bummed out/existentially confused since being confronted with the extent to which I failed as a best friend while I was so sick. Somehow I managed not to realize it until it was pointed out to me, and it's a pretty painful realization. The irony is that this "extended period of time" was a period during which I was doing absolutely everything in my (severely lacking) power to be a good friend. I was failing to take care of myself in an effort to take care of my best friend. This was a conscious decision, and I felt strongly that it was the right one, but now it seems as if none of my efforts did anyone any good. And this raises the question, why did I do all of that? I mean...I know exactly why I did it--because I wanted to (and I don't regret anything about it), but what purpose did any of it serve? I don't foresee myself figuring it out anytime soon.

Please give me time to decipher the signs
Please forgive me for time that I've wasted


For now, I'm trying not to focus too much on my failure, to remind myself that I did the best I could do. Operative word here: trying.

I hope he still wants it, but it might remind him of when,
he aimed for the bulls eye and hit it nine times out of ten
That one time his hand slipped, and I saw the dart sail away
I don't know where it landed,
but I'm guessing between green and gray
We thought nothing of it, but it still haunts him like a ghost
With all eyes upon him, except two that matter the most


In any case, the whole thing has gotten me thinking about the interconnectedness of the details of our individual lives--the way every experience affects every other one, the way every relationship we have affects every other one, and so on. It's a pretty simple concept, but makes for such a complicated reality.

I had more to write about, but it'll have to wait. My coherence skills seem to be fading, and I think bedtime is drawing nigh.

If this going to run round in my head
I might as well be dreaming

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

self-handicapping?

I long for stars that laugh with rain
But I am not particularly sane

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

booking it

I finished all three books I was discussing in my pre-beach post. Dry was utterly amazing. It might even be my favorite of Augusten's books, which I wasn't expecting. I have never been particularly interested in substance abuse/dependence. In fact, I have always been more interested in every other cateogry of DSM diagnoses than in the substance-related ones. They've always been at the very bottom of my list. They just never captivated me. Frankly, they even bored me a little. In my undergrad abnormal psychology class, I was assigned to take on the role of an alcohol abuser for a taped clinical interview, and I was fairly disgusted. I desperately wanted disorganized schizophrenia, and instead, was stuck with my very last choice. This assignment did nothing to change my lack of interest in substance abuse. Nor did the time I spent working in the local detox unit last summer. Or my psychopathology class last fall (granted, I was sick then, but still.) The point is that none of my academic work or clinical experience has brought alcoholism to life like this book. I get it now. I was completely fascinated by Augusten's illustrations of the way that for an alcoholic, everything revolves around alcohol. Every thought, regardless of content, is related to alcohol. Cases in point:

(1) In describing his desire for a new love interest, he writes, "I want more of him. In the same way that if he were a martini, I'd want a few more rounds."

(2) He refers to a passion-filled moment as, "one brief though ninety-proof instant."

(3) When asked to think of something calming, he envisions "an icy martini, single olive dead center at the bottom. There's a gentle quiver of the surface tension as the liquid threatens to--but doesn't--spill over the edges."

(4) In assessing the constant applause that occurs in AA meetings, he recognizes, "it's how we buy drinks for each other."

Etc. I just can't say enough about how wonderfully enlightening this book was. I look forward to being able to use my new understanding of the experience of addicts in my future therapy career. Because, as I've always begrudgingly admitted, I will be working with people who suffer from substance-related disorders, because they suffer from all sorts of other mental illnesses too. Comorbidity is the rule, as we say. I'm much more excited about this prospect now. I might even get my AA blue book (yeah, I'm enough of a nerd that I have my own) off the shelf and read it. Early on in Dry, in a moment of frustration, Augusten thinks to himself, "I hate people who don't drink. They understand so little." This assertion is quite true as it relates to me...or it was, before I read this book. I'm deeply thankful that Burroughs was brave enough to tell his own tragic story. I hope he knows the difference he's making.

The Glass Castle, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing. Walls's story is certainly shocking, and it is amazing that she overcame her childhood circumstances, but the writing itself just isn't up to par. Walls is a journalist now, and I think that her line of work comes across in her writing. She writes too much like a reporter--not enough like a human being with complex emotions. Not a bad read, but not a great one, either.

My opinion of Kerouac's On the Road is much the same. I liked it, but I didn't love it. And I really wanted to love it. In terms of plot, it reminded me a little too much of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, of which I'm not a fan. "We drank. We had sex with some girls. We went to another bar and drank some more. We slept. We were hungover. We drove to another place and did it all again." It just gets old. What kept me turning the pages, though, were Kerouac's beautifully poetic descriptions of the geography and the stream-of-consciousness philosophizing of the character Dean Moriarty. I can see why this book came to be regarded as "the testament to the Beat Generation," as the back of the book says, and I'm glad to have read it. I do feel slightly more cultured now. :) But I'm also ready to move on. To Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, which I'm enjoying immensely and will discuss more when I finish.

My own life is infinitely less interesting that any of these books, but I suppose it should be covered here as well. :) Things are going well. I've been eating well and working out every day, and my muscle cramps have almost stopped, which is very good. I haven't lost any weight though, so I think that my Synthroid dose needs to be increased, which won't happen until my next appointment in August, so for now, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hope for the best. I still feel tired a lot, but otherwise, I feel good. Better than I have for over a year. I'm in the process of weaning myself off of my antidepressants, which I don't think have done anything anyway. Because of the time line, I'm quite convinced that my emotional improvement has been a direct result of my thyroid treatment rather than my antidepressants. Technically, they really shouldn't have been prescribed in the first place, because technically I shouldn't have been diagnosed with clinical depression. (Nearly) every DSM criteria set includes a criterion that says, essentially, "rule out a general medical condition," and in my case, we certainly couldn't rule out Graves' disease as the cause of my depression symptoms. I think it was, in fact, the direct cause. This experience has certainly educated me about the way the medical field fails to act in accordance with the DSM. Anyway... hopefully I'm right about the cause of my symptoms, such that they won't come back even when I completely stop taking antidepressants. But if they do come back, at least I'll know what I'm dealing with, which is better than continuing to take medicine that probably isn't doing me any good.

Lots of things to look forward to in the coming week. Tomorrow I'm heading to Lexington to go to a midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie with Alex and his crew. I'm definitely excited about the movie (and donning my Gryffindor tie for the first time in much too long.) I'm carpooling with our long-time friend, Tyler, and am anticipating some good car-ride discussion and catching up, which I'm looking forward to as well. This weekend, Alex, Jenny, Joe, Kevin, and Dallas (who just started a record label that you should check out!) will be here for a Nickel Creek concert that I've been looking forward to for months. I'm still very sad that they're breaking up (seriously, Why should the fire die?), but incredibly excited about seeing them one last time. It's hard to believe that they're coming to Ashland's very own Paramount. My very favorite band with some of my very favorite people. It doesn't get much better than that. :) I can't wait.

Monday, July 9, 2007

considerate creator


My personalDNA Report


I was skeptical about all the "application" things on Facebook, but personality assessment makes me happy. There's a Johari Window application too, which I think is really cool, but I don't want to add it, because you have to make a new Johari window, and I already have one, though I hadn't looked at it in a long time. Contribute to it if you like.

A real post is coming soon. I think.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

somewhere

somewhere beyond this place I know
the way shall not be dreadful slow
tomorrow's sweet new path will glow

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

saturday in the park...


I have a vague sense that I have a lot to say, but my mind feels a little...nebulous? So this post will probably be a bit disjointed.

Yet another wedding weekend has come and gone. My friend/academic hero, Scott, got married on Saturday, and it was a very beautiful wedding. It was fun to see several people who I hadn't seen in a while, particularly Dustin, another Emory psychology buddy, who I hadn't talked to for probably a year, and had missed a lot more than I realized. I also was quite blessed by some encouraging words from Kevin, which made me feel good about myself. He's such a sweetheart. Sadly, Sarah, Jodie, and I had to leave the reception much earlier than we would've liked because we (mostly Sarah) had such a long drive ahead of us, and from what I've heard, we missed out on a great deal of fun. Still, it was a great time, and I'm really glad I got to go. It was wonderful to spend time with Jodie and Sarah too. They're both M.Div. students, and I love getting to hear their conversations about theology. I feel like I'm constantly trying to latch onto their ideas and insights, which is exciting and challenging and fun, not to mention helpful, what with the spiritual rut I've been in. It's wonderful to be around people who are both passionate and deeply thoughtful about their faith, and such interaction has been a rarity for me as of late, it seems. It was also very fun (and weird, I must admit) to hear Jodie talk about married life. It's still seems crazy to me that I have friends who are married, and spending the night with them was especially surreal. I ended the weekeend by worshipping at Duke Chapel, which was an absolutely wonderful experience. I've been to cathedrals all over Europe, but I had never acutally been to a church service in one, and it was utterly thrilling. The huge size of it was such a powerful reminder of the sheer big-ness of the Almighty God.

"...how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." (Ephesians 3:18)

It's kind of strange coming home after these little trips. When I'm with my friends, I feel like I'm part of the world they live in, and they are real, live, adults, so I fee like I am too, until I get in the car to drive home... to my parents' house...where I live...which makes me feel like a child. I'm just in a strange place in my life, I guess, mostly because my current situation doesn't fit neatly into any sort of defined and agreed-upon category. There just isn't a label for a 20-something, intelligent, college-graduate who temporarily lives with her parents and (also temporarily) doesn't have a job, so I feel like I'm floating around somewhere between the shores of adult and child. I never liked labels anyway.

My dreams have been interesting lately. A certain someone who I thought I had finally stopped dreaming about has started showing up again, and it's kind of pissing me off. Also, not long ago, a celebrity was featured in one of my dreams for the first time, and it's been happening fairly frequently ever since. Last night, Morgan Freeman and Miley Cyrus. I don't know what that's about, but it's rather amusing.
I think I had more to talk about, but my brain is tired. Happy [...I think it was the] 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

slow

"What I do not have is kakakaka, the Kikongo work for hurrying up. But I find I can go a long way without kakakaka. Already I have gone as fas as the pools and the log bridge on the north. And south, to clearings where women wearing babies in slings stoop together with digging sticks and sing songs (not hymns) and grow their manioc. Everyone knows those places. But without kakakaka I discover sights of my own..." -Adah (Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible)

I move so slowly these days. It takes very little exertion to wear me out, mind and body. Even the process of getting all my stuff unpacked and organized (in my head, I keep calling it "assimilation and accomodation" like the psychology nerd that I apparently still am) is moving very slowly. I wonder if I can be like Adah and allow this slowness to come to some good somehow. A member of
my church was talking to me after the service the other day, and he said that maybe all this is happening to me because I just needed to slow down. "You'd been going going going for years," he said, "and maybe God knew you needed a break." Maybe so. Maybe all my "going going going," my kakakaka, was getting in the way of something that God was trying to communicate to me. Maybe I wasn't pausing enough to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). I guess that while I'm taking this hiatus from the real world, I will discover sights of my own. Maybe I already am. I guess there's plenty of time, because the process of getting healthy again is going to be, well, slow.

"Been a scratch on the surface
Been a clog in the drain
Been melodramatic
Been sleepin' for days
Been one in a million
Been a million to one
This is takin' forever
Always seems to return that
I'm slow..."

-Guster

Sunday, June 24, 2007

a shore thing


So much time has passed. I’ve been too busy (and then too tired) to blog. Tragic, really.

The beach trip was absolutely fabulous. It was exactly what I needed. Spending time with the old neighborhood crew was so refreshing. The older I get, the more and more I value the connections I have with the people who knew me in childhood. They are my roots. They are where I came from. There was such a huge part of our lives that we shared only with each other, and outsiders just don't, can't, never will understand, no matter how well we try to explain it to them. It seems like there is a part of me that lies dormant most of the time, which only comes to life in the presence of these certain (amazing) people. Because they understand why I'm called Sabie Mokie and Little Buckaroo. They know how Alex bit off part of his tongue. They know what it means to be in the Big Kid Club, to ride in the way back, to play color wolf and "being bored." They know that Ashley wants to be 19 and named Shelly, that Stacy will not part with her Tweety Bird slammer, that jinxing Maggie is not allowed. It seems silly and minor, but it's a powerful bond, and every time we're together, we pick right back up where we left off. It's always tremendously fun to take these trips down memory lane (or, in this case, memory sidewalk.) It was fantastic to have enough time together to get caught up on each other's lives, to really talk, to connect not only to our childhood, but also to each other as the people we are now. I plan on doing a better job at staying in touch with these wonderful friends.

I was sad to leave them, but the wedding weekend was really great as well. The preparation was more work than I had anticipated, but everything looked absolutely beautiful, so it was all worth it. My dress still didn’t really fit well, so I was fairly self conscious about this throughout the evening. I tried to feel pretty anyway, but was largely unsuccessful (pun not intended, but rather enjoyed.) Still, I had a tremendous amount of fun. In fact, it was, by far, the most fun wedding reception I’ve ever been to. Highlights were (1) flat-footing to the fantastic old time music as provided by Martha and company and (2) the send-off, complete with getaway boat and a plethora of sparklers. Katie looked positively stunning, and she and Nathan were clearly giddy the whole time. It was impossible not to see how excited and in love they are. I am incredibly happy for them. And I’m already plotting my trip to Boston. ;)

I returned to Radford Sunday evening. My mom was already at my apartment (my dad had dropped her off there on their way back from the beach) so that she could come to my endocrinologist appointment with me on Monday morning. The appointment was mostly uneventful, but went well. For one thing, I asked about the muscle cramps I’ve been having. I don’t know that I have mentioned these before, but I’ve been having sporadic, Charlie-horse-like cramps in various and seemingly random parts of my body at random times throughout the day. I assumed that since the thyroid, I now know, controls everything in the universe, it was to blame. My doctor confirmed that my low hormone levels (due to my lack of thyroid) were probably the culprit, but assured me that they will go away as my hormones get back to normal. Indeed, I haven’t had as many cramps in the past week or so as I had been having, so things are improving. On a less positive note, it seems that I am still gaining weight despite my efforts not to overeat. My doctor cautioned me that many people who become “normal” (as if I could ever be normal! ha!) after having been hyperthyroid have trouble cutting back simply because they are used to actually needing to overeat because of the too-fast metabolism that comes with having an overactive thyroid. I think I’ve done well with avoiding this pitfall, but I think I’m going to have to do something a little more than “try not to overeat.” Admittedly, I have not done a good job at getting into any sort of exercise routine, mostly because the muscle cramps sort of got in the way. Also, even walking for a very long period of time has become uncomfortable. My lower back hurts a lot; it feels as if I’m constantly, involuntarily, arching my back. I used to be an avid gymnastics fan, and I now understand what commentators mean when they talk about a gymnast “getting used to her new body” after gaining what might seem like a small amount of weight. I feel very uncomfortable, even physically, in my body. I literally don’t know how to even stand up right. (When I typed that just now, I accidentally forgot the space and wrote “upright” instead of “up right.” Way to keep things in perspective. I can’t stand up right, but at least I can, in fact, stand upright. ;))) Hopefully, now that things have calmed down a bit, I’ll be able to really concentrate on working on this weight thing.

I was utterly exhausted (as I am a lot these days) when Mom and I got home from Radford on Monday night. I had almost forgotten that I had been recruited to help with VBS at church this week. This is something I always do, and always enjoy, but, because I knew I’d have to miss the first two days, I didn’t volunteer this year. Even so, I was asked to help lead music on the remaining days, and I had vaguely said I’d do it. I didn’t on Monday, deciding they’d understand that I’m exhausted, but Tuesday, I couldn’t think of a valid excuse, so I went. Of course, once I was there, it was quite fun. Lots of adorable kids. And worshipping God with kids is always a blessing. Sensing their sincerity and innocence gives me hope for the future, and it helps me get in touch with the part of myself that still has faith like a child.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)

And, as fun and catchy as the other songs were, I was especially pleased that a great hymn, Were You There, was also included. Listening to their little voices sings those words, and, it being VBS and all, watching them do the accompanying hand motions, I really got a sense that they understood exactly what the song is about. We just don’t give kids enough credit sometimes. They get things better then we think they do. They are not too young to understand love. They are not too young to be transformed by the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am thankful that God allowed me a part in the process. Even though I was exhausted, even though I am sick, even though I have fallen short, failed, He chose to use me. What a crazy and compassionate God I serve!

VBS ended Friday night, Alex came home, and the family headed to Radford yesterday (Saturday) morning to move me out of the apartment, which—praise God—we finally found someone to rent. It went pretty smoothly on the whole. I had taken home a bunch of stuff already, so there really wasn’t THAT much to pack up. Still though, it was a lot of work, especially for Dad and Alex. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be happy or sad, and, as it turned out, I was really neither. I was numb, and mostly, I still am. What I did feel was guilt about my family having to spend a day doing all this work just for me. They didn’t deserve to have to do that. But I guess they don’t deserve any of this. They don’t deserve any of what I’ve put them through this year. I have lied to them. I have hidden things from them. I have been too proud to be open with them. I have projected my frustration with myself onto them. I have made them sick with worry. I have hurt them. And here they are, loving me anyway. I truly cannot express my thankfulness. I never will be able to, as long as I live. My family has demonstrated God’s love for me in such a tangible way. As my Heavenly Father does, my earthly mother and father have said, “we’re here,” and they have taken me into their arms, and, quite literally, brought me home.

Sometimes, it causes me to tremble.

Friday, June 8, 2007

jealous of the moon?

I just wanted to write once more before I leave for the beach. We may have internet there, but I'm certain of that, and I'm not sure I'll have time to use it even if we do. I'm all packed and ready to go to the beach, and I'm pretty darn excited. Things have continued to be good. I got my dress back today, and while it still doesn't fit the way I'd really like it to, I can wear it, so it will do. Dallas got great medical news yesterday, and he's now allowed to two exciting things: shower and DRIVE. It's hugely exciting that he's more able to function independently now. I can't even imagine how awful it would be to have to depend on people for transportation (and hair washing), especially when you're an excessively independent person by nature. So this is fantastic news and makes me quite happy. And I got to hang out with him in celebration, which was fun. I need as much Dallas time as I can get while I still live here, which is not for much longer (though how long exactly, I still don't know.) I'll probably start having withdrawal when I get home, but I'll worry about that then instead of now. ;)

On a totally different note, I haven't mentioned in here that I (obsessively, you might say) write down, interpret, and organize my dreams. I've been doing it since I took Personality Theories, one of my favorite psychology classes, freshman year. Dream interpretation has been probably the most instrmental tool for self-awareness that I have experienced, and, to top it off, it's wicked fun. With time, I've gotten pretty good at interpreting my (not necessarily others') dreams, but last night I had a very interesting one that I have not quite figured out. In terms of theme, it is clearly related to the jealousy situation that I mentioned a while back, but the people involved are different. I am having trouble determining whether (a) the people in the dream are stand-ins for the real-life people or (b) the people in the dream are actually the ones involved in my jealousy, and the real-life people I thought were involved are actually the result of some sort of mental displacement. Because, in a way, I would prefer to be jealous of the person I thought I was jealous of, rather than this alternative person, but it makes slightly more sense that I'm jealous of this dreamed person, but had a harder time admitting it, and unconsciously changed it to this other person. It seems plausible, as the related situations are, in a way, parallel. Sort of. Maybe just in my head, but that's where this jealousy (and the dream) is anyway. So yeah... my unconscious is either messing with me or telling me something very enlightening. Now to figure out which one.

Again, on a totally different note (have you noticed I suck at transition sentences?), I have become a bit ADHD with my reading habits. Usually, in the summer, when I finish a book, I immediately have another waiting for me which I immediately start reading, and so on, and the process continues all summer (or in this case, probably longer.) But I messed it all up this time. Before I read The Mother Tongue, I had been on an Augusten Burroughs kick. It was more of an addiction, really, such that I even had a dream (ah... this should have been my transition!) that I met him. I was introduced to his writing in the fall when I had to choose a memoir or autobiography to use for a term paper. I read Running with Scissors and wrote a paper about how I'd treat Augusten as a client, using the existential theory of my beloved Viktor Frankl. I pretty much fell in love with this book and felt that my life would be utterly incomplete if I did not promptly read everything else this genius of a man wrote. So when I started reading this summer (as soon as I was well enough to pay attention to read anything, basically), I read Possible Side Effects and Magical Thinking. Then, and only because I went to the terribly-organized Walden Books at home to get my next helping of Burroughs-ness, and I couldn't find Dry and didn't want to ask for help (because I hate asking for help in stores... and in life), I took a break from Augusten to spend some quality time with Mr. Bill Bryson. I intended for this hiatus to be only one book in length, but then I finished The Mother Tongue and had nothing on hand to read. My mom was with me on the back porch (my favorite reading spot) when this happened, and I said to her that I should've planned further ahead and bought another book to start reading. I was feeling urgent, as if every moment I spent not reading was wasted. It was making me anxious. My mom reminded me that I had a book upstairs that I hadn't read yet, which, strangely enough, I bought at the same time as Running with Scissors, as an alternative memoir, in case the first choice didn't work for the purposes of the paper. I was not excited about reading this book, because in my head, I had planned that Dry would be next on my reading list. I missed Augusten. But I begrudgingly went upstairs to fetch The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (whoever that is, I thought) and began reading. I read a few pages, and it was mildly interesting, but I still missed Augusten. Then, when I got back to the apartment the other day, I realized that I bought On the Road by Jack Kerouac ages ago, for cheap, and had also yet to read it. So last night, I picked it up and started reading, hoping to be more satisfied. I like it, and I think Jack and I can be friends, but it just wasn't filling the void. I needed Augusten. So tonight, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought Dry. It was very irresponsible, as I am already reading two books, and possibly a bit pathological, suggesting that I am, in fact, addicted to Augusten Burroughs. My excuse is that the DSM-IV has no diagnosis for author-related dependence, so I'm ok. I haven't started reading yet, but I feel immensely better just knowing that at any moment, Augusten and I can be reunited (and it feels so good.) So yeah... instead of a beach book, I have three.

But really, as much I love Augusten (and if you haven't gotten this, it's a lot), I love my old neighborhood buddies even more, so I'm probably not going to want to take time away from them, even to spend reading Dry. I am increasingly excited about seeing old friends this week...and then not-as-old ones this weekend. It's going to be wonderful. I just can't wait.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

disaster, relief

Foreshadowing of the disaster: I drove back here to Radford on Sunday afternoon. It had been warm when I left, but it was cold and rainy and gross when I got here. Not having hot flashes anymore these days, I was very cold and decided to change clothes. I really wanted to put on my favorite jeans, which are all faded and about five years old, and have holes in them, but are wonderfully broken in and comfy and somehow have always managed to fit me. So I got them out of my bag, pulled them on, and found, to my horror, that the button was gone. Apparently, the last time I wore them, a couple of days before, the button came off at some point, because they were too small, but I refused to accept this and wore them anyway. It was tragic. I looked around for a sewing kit, which I have never used but am pretty sure I have somewhere, so that I could sew on a button, which I'm not sure I know how to do...but I found nothing of the sort. I was very sad and began to mourn the loss of my favorite jeans.

The disaster: Out of spite, I decided that I wouldn't change clothes after all. Then I remembered something that I had said I must do immediately upon arriving at the apartment: try on my bridesmaid dress. So...I did. I tried just stepping into it from the back as I have done every other time I've tried it on, and it was much tighter, such that I was afraid I couldn't even pull it up over my hips. So I tried not to panic and just put it on over my head instead, causing me, of course, to get makeup all over the inside of it. It was too tight before I even zipped it up. It was almost as if the lining was going to rip to shreds if I even took one normally-sized step. I tried to zip it up, and literally couldn't do it. I thought I was going to break the zipper off if I forced it anymore. Now seemed like a good time to panic. I started crying (because that was obviously going to help, right?) and called my mom, verbalizing this shocking and awful truth: My bridesmaid dress is too small. She was stunned, as was I, though neither of us should have been, but, being a mother and all, she told me what to do: call Jessica's mom and ask if she can hook me up with a good alterations person in Radford who can, perhaps, fix my dress this week. Ok... I can do that, I thought, but meanwhile, I will continue to freak out. I took off the dress and pretty much threw it across the room, put my clothes back on (my favorite jeans would've been especially comforting at this point,) and looked in my phone for the Kincaids' number, which, of course, wasn't there. I recently got a new phone and apparently didn't put their number in it for some very stupid reason. So I called Jessica to ask her for her home number, and she didn't answer. So I looked up Lindsey's (Jessica's sister) number, which, even more absurdly, was not in my phone anymore either. I needed Facebook. But my internet hasn't been working for months at the apartment, and my roomate was in the process of moving to her new single apartment around the corner, and her computer is password-protected. So I ran outside in the rain to go to her new apartment and ask her for the password. (I could've just called her, but I wasn't thinking very clearly at this point.) As soon as I got out to the parking lot, Joe had pulled in. I was expecting him, and he was right on time, but I had been hoping he would be a little late, such that I could perhaps stop freaking out before his arrival. I was glad to see a friendly face, but sorry that he had to enter my already-stressful world at this particularly disastrous moment, though, really, he has witnessed enough Sara freak-outs that I suppose he's used to it by now. So anyway, Ashley gave me her password, and I looked up Jessica and Lindsey, neither of whom had their home number of their profiles, and Lindsey didn't have her cell phone listed either. After some other failed attempts at roundaboutly finding the number, I realized I could call Amanda, who could give me Lindsey's number, and I could then call Lindsey, who could give me her home number. Luckily, this plan worked beautifully, as Lindsey was at home, and simply handed the phone to her mom. I was hoping, of course, that she would tell me something to the effect of "Oh yes, one of my best friends does alterations, so if you tell her I sent you, she'll do it in an hour." I did not get this positive of a response, but she did tell me a place downtown that she had used for alterations, directed me as to how to get there, and suggested that rather than calling, I show up, dress in hand, preferably crying. No problem, I thought. When I called my mom back to update her, she had an additional idea: I was going to the doctor Monday morning to get blood taken, but, since I've gained 15 pounds and am obviously hypothyroid now, maybe I can convince my endocrinologist to give me Syntroid now instead of waiting for my next appointment, which is, appropriately, two days after the wedding. Then, perhaps, I could at least not gain a terribly large amount of weight in addition to the dreadful 15 pounds I've already put on. Good idea, Mom. It being Sunday night and all, it was now time, simply, to wait.


The interim: Admirably, Joe tried with great perseverance to convince me that I needed to just relax because there was nothing I could do, but, of course, I continued, though more moderately, to freak out. I should have known this was going to happen... I should have taken my dress home so I could've figured this out sooner...Why do I have to be fat NOW? Of all the times in my whole life up to this point, now is the MOST inconvenient time for me to be fat....God wants me to be in Katie's wedding, right? So they have to be able to fix my dress, right? Etc. Finally, I went to bed, managed not to have nightmares about the dress attacking me, and got up, ready for my fateful day. I journeyed to the doctor's office, realizing, as I drove, that my heart was beating fast (which it shouldn't do anymore, since I'm now off my heart meds totally, no longer in need of them what with my under-active thyroid). I knew my heart was just doing this because of nervousness, but I feared that when I got there, they'd take my pulse, see that it was too high, and decide that I must not be hypothyroid yet and can therefore certainly not start taking Synthroid. Luckily, though surprisingly, they didn't take my pulse at all...or my blood pressure...or even my weight. It was strange. The nurse taking my blood asked me if I'd gained weight (as if he couldn't tell), and when I said how much, he seemed unconcerned, and told me that I could stand to gain the weight, and that I look better. (I assure that this is not the case.) This seemed a bad sign. I went on to explain to him that my weight is a problem because of this whole dress issue. With gross inaccuracy, he refered to the dress issue as a "minor detail," but did, fortunately, let me go talk to the doctor about the possibility of getting on Synthroid sooner rather than later. This marked my first ever entrance into a doctor's actual office, and it made me quite nervous. However, it went as well as I could have expected, even though I didn't cry, which, sadly, I can rarely do on command. He informed me that my blood results would be back the following day, and that if they confirmed that I need Synthroid (which, presumably, they would), then he could call it in and I could immediately start taking it. Perfect. I felt better already. With my new sense of hope and restored belief that there is, in fact, a God, I went straight to the dress shop, dress in hand, though positive I couldn't cry, as I was, at this point, smiling. As it turns out, this place doesn't do alterations anymore, but they told me a place, also in downtown Radford, who does, and directed me there. I took my dress there, explained my circumstances, and the woman very nicely told me that the seamstress wasn't in today, but would come in first thing tomorrow (Tuesday), and would look at my dress and let me know what could be done. I was more than happy to leave the wretched (once beloved) garment there. My work for the day was done, and things, though still uncertain, were looking up. The rest of the day was spent with little to no (ok...little) freaking out, and provided a much-needed opportunity for reflection with one of my favorite fellow psychology majors, which is always nice. The doctor had told me that physical activity, at this point, has the potential of being beneficial (whereas before, I was basically going to gain a lot of weight regardless of what I tried to do to stop it), and, incidentally, Joe and I took a long and delightful walk at the park. Having just finished my heart medicine, I was amazed at how far I could walk, even sans medication, without getting winded and feeling my heart pounding out of my chest. It was fairly exciting, really, and I kept using it to remind myself, I am getting better. I am getting better. I may be fat, and that may suck a lot, but I am getting better. The words of the great poet, Billy Joel, began to run through my head repeatedly: "Keep things in perspective: this is my true objective."

The relief: Yesterday morning I awoke with anxious anticipation of the two phone calls that I would be receiving (from the doctor and the seamstress.) Though it took a bit longer than I would have liked, I finally got a call from the nurse (Mr. "minor detail" himself) who said, simply "Hi, Sara! The doctor just called in the medicine to your pharmacy!" to which I, very unprofessionally and childishly, responded, "Yay!" I would have hugged him if this conversation had happened in person. I was so excited. I drove straight to CVS, got my medicine, frolicked outside like a child with a bag of candy, and decided that I would just call the dress shop. The seamstress hadn't looked at my dress yet, but did it right then, and I went in to try it on for her. She said she could definitely fix it, and that while I'd have to pay an extra $10 rush fee (truly the epitome of the phrase "a small price to pay"), she could easily have it finished for me on Friday, the day before I leave for the beach. I think I probably skipped down the sidewalk and to my car, at which point I called all involved parties to tell them the good news. I was ecstatic...I don't even know to describe it. All is right with the world. And everything I was worried about before all this happened doesn't matter anymore. Maybe I will look fat in my swimsuit at the beach, maybe I will look fat in all Katie's wedding pictures, but I'm going to the beach to hang out with old friends who I love dearly, and one of my best friends is getting married, and I get to be in her wedding...and my dress fits. :) God is good. Life is beautiful.

The celebration: Dallas had invited me to a show in Pulaski last night, and I had previously been torn about going, because I wanted to see him, but was in such a foul mood about all this that I thought it might be better if I didn't go and irritate him and not have fun anyway. Needless to say, this was no longer an issue, so I went. It was a rocking good time, and a fantastic way to end my already wonderful-beyond-words day. He genuinely shared my joy, despite its miniscule nature in comparison with his current situation. We had some terrific and much-needed discussion at Waffle House (what better place for discussion is there?) which I will probably reflect more on later. But it was great. I have done nothing to deserve a friend like him. He listens to me, understands me, makes me feel good about myself, loves me. He's the best. That is.... after my new favorite doctor and my new favorite seamstress. So, maybe, the third best. ;)

One more thing: I'm wearing my favorite jeans...fastened with a safety pin. :)