Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Chasing Autumn

George Eliot wrote:

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

I think George and I could have shared passionate conversations about our love of Autumn. Spring, Summer, and Winter all have their charms, but Autumn mesmerizes and excites me in a way that is unmatched by the other seasons. I simply revel in it. Even though it signals the earth's decent into a period of sleep and death, it is when my senses come alive.

In 48 hours I'll be boarding a plane and trusting its wings to fly me East to Boston, and so in a way I feel as though I am Eliot's bird, chasing after Autumn. Of course, the analogy fails in that it is autumn here now as well, but there is something intriguing and exotic about experiencing the season somewhere new.

Now that I think of it, that would be a pretty cool premise for a book some day: trotting the globe, chasing the successive Autumns...

"Chasing Autumn" by Suzanne Mylastnamehere -- coming someday to a bookstore near you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Terrible Beauty

My boss received these photos from an associate of his who was down South when Katrina hit. It's astounding to me that a force of nature so destructive can at the same time be so beautiful. I could try to draw some profound insight from that fact, but I think I'll just let the pics speak for themselves.

Monday, September 26, 2005

New Specs

Went to the eye doctor this morning. For the first time in my adult life, I have glasses cute enough to wear in public. And unless you look at me from the side, it's not readily apparent that they're like, half an inch thick. So, that's cool.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Everyday Absurdities

Everyday life is at times so absurd that you just have to shake your head and laugh. And then, if you're like me, you have to write about it, so that the next time you're tempted to think that everyday life is achingly wearisome, you have a memory haphazardly crafted with words to remind yourself to keep laughing.

I decided to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work late last night so that I could throw together a lunch for today. I grinned to myself at the odd assortment as I approached Pinky, the cashier (yes, her actual name), with the contents of my basket: 1 gallon of milk, 1 tomato, 1 2-lb brick of medium cheddar cheese, and 1 bag of fun-size Kit Kats. (Don't worry, Mom, my lunch consists of more than that.) I had grabbed just my Visa when I ran into the store, and so I informed Pinky that I had a Fresh Values card, but it was in the car. She said no problem, I could enter my phone number. I did. No go. So then she entered my phone number. No go. Then she entered my phone number again, as if punching the numbers harder and to a different rhythm would somehow yield a new and satisfactory result. Still no go. So she asks me a series of questions about my card, which I answer while trying to remain calm. With shrugged shoulders she informs me that she doesn't have a dummy card that she can just swipe through so we can get on with things, and so I sigh and ask her to set my things aside while I run out to my car, determined to get my fresh values. I'm halfway through the revolving door when I realize I had the card on my keys--in my hand--the whole time. (This is indicative of my brain this week.) I swing back around, sheepishly thrust my keys at her with a mumbled "I'm an idiot" and successfully receive my $4.38 in savings.

With my receipt Pinky hands me that red-striped coupon strip that, after plumbing the depths of your demographic profile and spending history, invariably gives you coupons for the last thing you'd consider purchasing on your next trip to Dominick's.

I snickered on the way to my car as I surveyed my "special offers." The first informed me that I had earned ten cents for the school of my choice. All I have to do is make a trip to the school to turn in my receipt, and all they have to do is log onto some website and enter a TWENTY-FOUR DIGIT redemption code, and in 12-16 weeks (for processing) they'd get their 10 cents. That is less than half a cent per redemption code digit, and I just imagined the school secretary silently cursing whoever dropped of the receipt and expected her to enter 24 digits for 10 cents.

The second offer was a coupon for Always maxi pads. The part that really got me was that under the "Save 2.00" it says, "May we suggest" and then goes on to describe the proffered pad (with or without wings, of course). Okay, hold up. When did grocery store print-outs decide it was their place to offer recommendations on feminine hygiene products?!?

Sometimes you've just gotta shake your head and laugh.

Friday, September 16, 2005

First Fleece

Last night I celebrated First Fleece. Okay, so last night I also made up First Fleece.

You see, I think there should be a holiday that pays homage to that first glorious day each fall when the temperatures finally dip down low enough to prompt a girl to delve into her closet and pull out her beloved fleece pullover that does nothing for her figure but is oh-so-comfy-and-inviting, like a fabric womb with holes for the wrists and neck.

Of course, First Fleece must be celebrated with just a pinch of sadness, as it is the first indication that one's remaining Birkenstock days are limited. And it must also serve as a sober warning that WTBS (Warm Toasty Bed Syndrome) is now likely to strike on any given morning.

Caveats aside, First Fleece is an event worth celebrating. Even if I'm the only one.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Eyes Have It

It's easy to forget how much our eyes betray about our souls. Just a moment ago I stood in the bathroom at my workplace. Staring at myself in the mirror, I plastered on the biggest "say cheese" smile I could muster. It was woefully unconvincing.

No matter how big my grin, how deep my dimples, there was no light in my eyes...just some moisture and hints of redness. I'd just hung up the phone after talking with my best friend and learning that in just 7 days she and her husband will be moving 5 hours northwest of here. I've known their move was coming for a couple months now, and had even been surprised at my own emotionally even acceptance of the fact, but learning the precise date and seeing it there in my calendar in black and white, a week away, caused my heart to clench, pushing tears to the surface and shooting me back to the parallel moment our sophomore year of high school.

Any composure I achieved in the bathroom was lost in the course of writing the last paragraph, and so here I am at my desk with tears running down my cheeks, ruminating on love and loss and pain. And about how curious it is that those who have hope are not confined to the natural assumption that anything that hurts, that causes pain, is therefore bad. There are myriad examples of good things that cause pain (babies screaming at getting their tiny rumps pumped with vaccine shots comes first to mind), but how quickly we forget when next we hurt.

Last night I read the chapter on Dr. Paul Brand in Yancey's Soul Survivor. Though he dealt more with physical pain than emotional, in Dr. Brand's estimation, pain is a gift. "I thank God for pain," Brand told Yancey. "Virtually every response of our bodies that we view with disgust--blister, callus, swelling, fever, sneeze, cough, vomiting, and especially pain--demonstrates a reflex toward health. In all these things normally considered enemies, we can find a reason to be grateful."

And in these tears and heartache, I do have so many reasons to be grateful. One reason is the realization of how the Lord has grown me since the first time Wisconsin swallowed up my best friend. That time, back in high school, I took it personally. I was angry at God for taking (really just relocating) from me something--someone--I was convinced was mine; from somewhere I'd adopted the notion that as an American teenager I had the right to life, liberty, and a best friend who's just a short drive across town. I now praise God for crushing that sense of entitlement before it worked more ugliness in my soul; for enlarging my sense of the world; for deeping my trust in Him; and for the many, many blessings that came from an event that at first caused so much pain.

Now that I'm at the end of this post and my eyes are dry once more, I am utterly sheepish at these musings on loss and pain. Over the past couple weeks, hundreds of thousands have lost everything they owned, and in some cases those they loved, and the pain in their hearts is beyond my imagination. Large-scale tragedy does not negate small-scale loss, but it certainly does lend perspective. And it causes me to wonder, with adoration, at the God who hears their cries and mine and has compassion on us both.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Caboose Has Arrived

To top off a summer that was crazy-full of all things bridal (If my planner serves me well [and let's face it, if it's not in there it didn't happen], since March I've attended 9 weddings, 3 bridal showers, 2 bachelorette parties, 2 rehearsal dinners, an extra reception, and I ushed--Whew!) this past weekend I had the honor of attending not 1 but 2 amazing weddings. It kind of felt like I was riding the wedding train, and the caboose had finally arrived.

For the wedding of Suzanne & Barrett, dear friends from Taylor, there was the added bonus of having a slew of my Taylor friends in for the long weekend. Thursday night we girls went out on the town--or rather, the lake--for a very fun dinner cruise. Friday night we dined Italian style around a huge table, lingering long after the plates were cleared, sharing in turn how much we love and appreciate Barrett & Suzanne. Saturday evening the ladies were stunning in red and the men looked quite dashing, but Suzanne's radiant bridal glow and the joy on Barrett's face eclipsed everything else as Chuck walked Suzanne down the aisle. Hooray for weddings. :) After the bride and groom had stolen away from the reception, the rest of us decided together time was too rare to just go home, so everyone came back to my place where we relaxed until 3:30 in the morning.

Early Sunday morning I took Lynn to the airport, and then by 3:00 it was time to start all over again! Rachel & Eric definitely win the prize for the coolest wedding venue. Quite simply, I loved everything about their ceremony and reception, from the gazebo to the 4 guys playing guitar and mandolin on the side to the chips and guacamole on the veranda (eh, Bonnie, how bout that guac?!) to the paper lanterns hung criss-cross from the beams in the barn to the little pots of grass and green flowers on the table to the cheesecake to dancing to Ann Sather's cinnamon rolls on the way out the door. (You know a wedding & reception were something special when you find yourself closing your eyes and reliving the whole experience! And watering your little pot of grass, willing it to live...)

Okay, so maybe all of these weddings have gone to my head a bit. As much as I enjoyed them all, and as thrilled as I am for all of my lovely married friends, I now breathe a small sigh of relief and smile as the caboose goes rattling down the track.