Sunday, May 31, 2009

No. 9

1. Alix is a little French girl who wears dark denim designer jeans to her gymnastics class and pronounces her name ah-LEEX, and at the age of five bears a certain resemblence to both Audrey Tautou and Sophie Marceau.

While waiting for the Funny Bugs class to finish up in the gym, Alix was getting rather antsy. "I'm booooored, Missy Jenny," she said with a disproportionate amount of ennui for a kindergartener. Miss Jenny and I searched through the emergency box in the office and found a coloring book to keep her occupied until 2:15 when the Giggle Worms class started. To our delight, this was apparently quite the thrill. Alix accepted the book, then held it in her tiny French hands and exclaimed "Whooaaaa... amazing... DINOSAURS!" and then ran to show it to her parents.

"C'est coooooool, ├ža!" [This is cool!] she rejoiced to her devastatingly French mother, and then she began coloring away, scribbling purple onto the belly of a jolly stegosaurus. Is there anything more charming than a bilingual child who is excited out of her mind about a coloring book?

2. The simple pleasure of delighting in a huge cappucino mug filled with coffee, a perfectly-wrapped gingerbread biscuit, and a waitress who already knows my order after only three times and calls me "Sweetie" was much-appreciated after a stressful morning. Especially since the sitting and the sipping gave me time to talk on the phone to Deanna, a dear and funny and comforting friend I met in Chile, who cracks me up and inspires me to be more gutsy in my ambitions.

3. Knowing it was going to be something of a rough day, I pulled out one of my favorite tricks and loaded my iPod with lots of Lauryn Hill (the Joe-Mari time-tested cure for the Bad Day Blues). Right before I got off the bus, this song come on, and was immediately reminded of all things good in the world, which felt very needed after a restless sleep and a gloomy outlook on the morning.

Lauryn's phenomenal song "To Zion" has taught me more about God's grace and redemption than any sermon or book ever has.

If God's grace can cover the enormous challenges of an unplanned pregnancy and transform what seems like a terrible situation into a new life filled with hope and love and joy, then I suppose His grace can cover rude customers and grumpy managers.

Friday, May 29, 2009

No. 8

1. At Job #1 we tend to get lots of customers from Britain. Perhaps Bucktown is the British neighborhood of Chicago; who knew. Anyway, I really do love them and their insistence on certain brands of tea, possibly because the part of my heritage I most identify with is the English portion, to whom I attribute my freckly skin, the awful dental situation of my youth (thanks, braces), and my enjoyment of a good melancholy.

Today one of the Brits came in, a very lovely older man who has taken to drinking iced coffees. While retrieving his beverage, I noted that we were out of lids for iced drinks, leaving me with only one option of giving him one of those obnoxious dome-lids only needed for obnoxious drinks with lots of whipped cream business on the top.

"Would it bother you if I gave you a domed lid?" asked I.

"Bother me? It would delight me!" Mr. Lovely Brit answered. Since I can think of 10 regular customers off the top of my head who would have probably threw the lid in my face (this is seriously what some people consider the proper response to an adverse situation--like having to use a different kind of lid than they're used to), I appreciated his response so much I wanted to hug him.

2. This afternoon on the bus ride home, it started raining right in the middle of my ride--very hard in fact. As we approached a stop I saw a lady on the other side of the street, clearly needing to catch the 49 on which I was happily (and dryly) riding. I thought "Please see her, bus driver," as the woman tried to dodge four lanes of traffic to make the bus.

My telepathy clearly worked, as the kind bus driver indeed saw her, signaled that the bus would wait, and proceeded to wait a good two minutes for this woman to make her way to the other side of the street without getting smashed by a car. She seemed so grateful to make her bus, grateful for the shelter from the rain pellets, and I was grateful to have her on the bus because she kind of smelled like lilies.

3. The grace of two very charitable people saved the day/life this afternoon. I have not been feeling very dependable lately, nor very competent in doing my job or other major aspects of living, and I feel like I've been letting a lot of people down who depend on me. This makes me feel sad, but somewhat helpless. Today I was shown mercy from an authority at work and a friend, and it inspired me to be more easily forgiving when others let me down.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No. 7

1. I was greeted at the first shift of my new job yesterday with the director of the gym giving me a huge hug. Why doesn't everyone greet everyone like that always? Especially on their first days of work? Such a contrast to so many jobs I've had, where I've felt more like a human robot than an actual person of any sort of worth.

2. I've had two mornings off this week, and spent them waking up early and going to my favorite coffee shop to read, blog, and, inspired by Andy Meyer, memorize prayers and poetry. Today I saw a fellow regular of The Grind, who, when he came in to collect his morning tea, walked up to me and said "Are you back?! How was Argentina??" I don't even remember telling this guy anything ever in my life, much less that I was going to South America (Chile, but close enough), and it felt good to feel recognized, remembered, even known. I cherish my small unnamed urban communities. I think of the cities I've lived in as just large collections of small towns, and I like recognizing strangers in a city of millions.

3. This was the Photo of the Day on my homepage [National Geographic's Photo of the Day]. It's my favorite I've seen in a long while. Look at all these people! I just love it. The world is so rich with so much to see.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No. 6

1. I appreciated this rainy day for its coziness, but wearing a very thin shirt during an epic walk [I decided to leave my coat at home after seeing the sun peek its face out early this morning] made me crave warm weather again. I was so worried about having two summers in a row and what that would do to my psyche, but it seems that I am already well-prepared for another summer.

2. There is this large reddish heart on the sidewalk of Lincoln Avenue that spells "Hart" in the middle with small white tiles. I've attempted research on its presence but I can't find out what it's doing there. For now, I like it better as a mystery. It consistently makes me smile when I see it and today was no exception.

3. Today Joe used the phrase "making a spectacle of themselves" in reference to obnoxious high schoolers on the train, and it prompted me to realize that, while I find that phrase very charming, I am not likely to use it often. I decided to change that immediately. Additionally, I am enchanted by the way that Joe speaks and writes and this is one of the reasons why I make him be my friend. Also, we always end up looking like famous supermodels when we take pictures together. It's true, don't lie to yourself.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

No. 5

1. Tonight at the Red Hymnal Society reunion, we sang one of my faves, "My Savior's Love," a very bouncy sort of hymn with a lot of gusto. A bit overzealous whilst in mid-sing, I mixed up the words in the chorus: How marvelous! how wonderful! and my song shall ever be... and instead sang And my SOUL shall ever be (because there are a LOT of hymns with the word "soul" in them). At first this made me giggle, and then I thought "Yes, actually, my soul is marvelous and wonderful!" That was a nice reminder that God ONLY makes marvelous and wonderful souls, no mediocre and pathetic souls. I shall re-write that hymn post-haste. Just what Red Hymnal Society loves is new progressive songs. I jest.

2. I was reminded of the time in a Red Hymnal Society meeting of yore when Leah sang loud and proud, Fairer is the moonshine (as opposed to "moonlight") in the hymn "Fairest Lord Jesus." That made me re-giggle, three years after the fact. The idea of comparing Jesus to alcohol is both humorous and fantastic. Megan once told me that I have a gift for being able to laugh just as hard at something funny that happened years ago as when it first happened, and I honored that gift this evening. Lucky me!

3. Sarah is going to make a rock-star librarian. And I love her.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No. 4

1. I didn't realize how badly I desired the email I received this morning until I received it. I love hearing news from Chile and I love still feeling like a part of that rich community, despite being so far away. It is so good to feel remembered.

2. A woman came in the Grocer today with the most wild and wonderful hair I've ever seen. I couldn't help but exclaim how fantastic it all was, and she looked completely puzzled. "Are you serious?" she responded, and I replied, "Yes, VERY. It's gorgeous!" Despite being a very stylish lady it seemed like she was not fully confident in the wild wonderfulness of her hair, and she appeared truly blessed by my compliment, which was an uplifting surprise to me. At the end of the short transaction she said quietly and earnestly, "I hope you have a really beautiful day."

3. This song by the phenomenal French-Nigerian singer Asa came on one of my Pandora stations this evening, and somehow the collection of cyberspacial chemicals that figure out my musical preferences knew exactly what I would want to listen to. It was sympathetically melancholy, but also comforting. Every note felt scrumptious, and needed.

[This video for the song is a sketchball handmade slideshow, but the song is perfect and lovely and deserves a listen.]

I wake up at dawn, as it dawns upon me
I wake up to the sun, shining upon me
I see doves in the sky, birds flying high

Then in silence I pray for peace
For my people

As if I weren't crying already, y'all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

No. 3: Guest Post!

The author of this post is none other than my dear friend Jon Heaps. Jon is a passionately dedicated philosopher, an insightful and enormously creative writer, and a deeply encouraging friend. He becomes more and more fully himself every day, and through his words both spoken and written I see glimmers of Christ. He also has some great tattoos. I am tremendously proud to share his simple reflections with you this evening. Enjoy, as I did:

1) My best friend is the Director of Student Ministries at the church where we both grew up. When I’m in the Bay Area, I like to show up and help out with youth group events. Last night I crashed the High School group. One of the female leaders was out of town, so it was left to JD and I to fill in for her during the small group time. Her small group demographic: a crew of chatty, texting, tittering, squealing, lunatic freshman girls. I though for sure we’d lose control almost instantly. Instead, we had a really in-depth, thoughtful conversation about when it’s important to wean away distractions and try to hear where God is at work in life. These squirrelly little hooligans have their collective head screwed on straight and that’s a small miracle in this place where we live and breath and have our being.

2) The Decemberists’ new album finally marries Colin Meloy’s ridiculously brilliant lyrics with some music that doesn’t make me want to nap for all of eternity. It’s…well, bad ass, really. Here’s a taste of the lyrical brilliance. You’ll have to drop some cabbage to actually hear the brilliance. Oh man, the organ sounds are worth the cash alone.
The Queen: I'm made of bones of the branches the boughs and the bough beating light / Well my feet are the trunks / my head is the canopy / And my fingers extend to the leaves in the eves / And he was a baby abandoned / Intombed in a cradle of clay / And I was a soul who took pity and stole him away / And gave him the form of a faun to inhabit

3) It’s one of those bars that is all rough-hewn wood and gigantic beer selection and once again I’m sipping at a cranberry-and-soda. Someone jokingly offered JD a Cosmo and now he’s sipping at that, because no joke is safe around him. And with our pink drinks in hand, we riff and chat and laugh and enjoy new friends and old. Without even noticing, it seems, we manage to put our finger on why it is we’re such good friends. I’d share it, but I think that off-handed-insight will just remain between him and I. Suffice to say, its simple enough and was always hiding in plain view. Everyone else was playing darts, though we’d be treated to a fine drunken ramble on the way home. Don’t worry, I drove.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No. 2

1. I spotted the Beautiful Ma on the Western Brown Line platform, and intentionally followed her into the train. She carried a smiling lovely baby in the burgundy sling and she herself wore a flouncy skirt and flowered shirt. The whole ride, the red-headed cerulean-eyed baby nestled into Beautiful Ma's chest and Beautiful Ma would laugh and hug her beloved little girl. I have never seen a mother so crazy for her baby, nor a baby so crazy for her ma. They both kept looking at me and smiling, sharing their joy with me; I felt like a small part of their wonderful family for the entire ride.

2. During the Ascension Day Mass, we read a psalm [47] with these lines in it:
Sing praises to God sing praises,
sing praises to our King sing praises.
I was so struck by these words that I wanted to keep singing them forever and ever.

3. I was worried that my dress was a little short for church, and wanted to get the opinion of several friends before venturing to Ascension Day Mass in my new turquoise get-up with the rather high, perhaps not-so-holy hemline. I asked my roommate Kristina [who has never been to St. Peter's] what she thought, and she responded "I'm sure it's fine. I mean, what do you think Priest Sarah would say?" I got her point, and responded, "Yeah, I think she'd probably compliment it."

And as soon as I got into church, Sarah mouthed "I love your dress!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No. 1

After following a few blogs whose only purpose is to express thankfulness for ordinary mercies and grace (as well as a couple blogs about funny cat pictures and celebrity fashion don'ts), I decided to make my own, as an attempt to focus more on gratefulness and the delightful things that happen around and to me every day.

1. I am walking to the Armitage stop after a sunny morning at the Green City Market. I am drinking a peach-blueberry smoothie made by the fine people at Seedless (the apple cider company) and I see Adam Lambert's beautiful face on the cover of the Red Eye, so I stop to pick one up. Whilst juggling a smoothie, my bag full of local produce (okay, full of pies and pastries, but there was some asparagus in there), trying to rescue Adam from newspaper stand bondage, a woman quickly walked by and said "YOU LOOK ADORABLE." As I shouted "Thank you!" she said again "ADORABLE." She was walking very fast but took the time to express a positive thought about someone she didn't know. Go lady! And thank you.

2. I watched Ellen DeGeneres' commencement address to the Tulane Class of '09 and found this piece of wisdom particularly inspirational: "Life is like one big Mardi Gras, but instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain, and if they like what they see, you'll have more beads than you know what to do with." It reminds me of a line in one of my dear friend Seth's songs: "See the world, and let the world see you; take the time to love the things you do." I find that the best advice I've ever heard is so simple, which makes me think that perhaps life is actually very easy to maneuver. Good news for someone like me who worries all day every day about the enormous trickiness, confusion, and splendor of life.

3. I got a job teaching kids gymnastics, which is a job that does not involve selling things, which is fantastic. My new boss is kind and understanding, and my new place of work is fun and empowering to little yuppie offspring. Out of 60 people who interviewed, I'm one of 2 who got hired. This makes me feel very good, and very encouraged to be more brave, more often. Because you know, you never know.

Okay apparently writing about gratefulness also involves lots of bragging. So there you have it, friends; I am adorable and also hire-able. But also grateful, and that's the point here. Thanks for stopping by.