Sunday, December 4, 2011

Consummatum est

In the words of Dr. Faustus, it is finished - my exam that is, not a deal with the devil or anything like that.

I'm sorry it took me a few days to get my response up here but truth is, I don't really have a firm hold on how I'm feeling about all of this. I'm thrilled it's over, sad it's over, I don't really realize that it's over and part of me doesn't even believe that it was that big a deal looking back. The exam had seemed so impossible and difficult to me initially that I just couldn't even imagine getting to this point. But then when I was sitting in the chair in front of the computer, question in hand and fingers racing it all seemed so doable and not that crazy after all. 

Here's a little breakdown of the questions so that you know why I wanted the "Milton Question" vs. the "Shakespeare Question."

Milton: This question asked us to discuss villains and their impact on Renaissance audiences from 4 plays/texts from the Renaissance period and the only required one was Satan from Milton's Paradise Lost. I chose to also examine Faustus from Christopher Marlowe's play Dr. Faustus, and two of Shakespeare's villains, Claudius from Hamlet and Richard III. 
While we dubbed this question the "Milton Question" it in fact was the only question in which I got to deal with 2 Shakespearean plays, one of them being my ultimate favorite, Hamlet. The Milton question was my last chance to write about Hamlet and I dearly wanted that chance. 

Shakespeare: For this question we had to deal with the presence of "others," those being Jews or Blackamoors in Renaissance texts and discuss the investigation of these figures. For this question I could only use 1 Shakespeare play. I chose The Merchant of Venice, Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, a story by Giraldi Cinthio that serves as the source material for Shakespeare's Othello, and a novel by Margaret Cavendish entitled, The Blazing World. 
I liked this question a great deal but overall I had dedicated less time to it than the villain one, I didn't enjoy the texts as much as my Milton selections and obviously, no Hamlet.

So here's how it went, it's a short story:

Dana and I met at the library about an hour before the exam, she was still studying (I do NOT know how) and I tinkered with a piece of string while I pretended to pour over my notes. As it got closer to exam time we walked over to the building where we chatted nervously with some other fellow students & friends who were taking the exam with us. I gave my sweet husband who accompanied me a quick kiss goodbye and we were off through the doors that led into the exam room. As we entered the hallway leading to the room I saw that there were other students also prepping for the exam sitting on the floors with books and notes around them looking miserable, as if they were all ready to throw up. I felt how they looked. It was the closest I have been to the kind of panic I imagine people feel when they are waiting in a bomb shelter. We all looked like we were awaiting a terrible doom, as if at any minute all our false senses of security would be blown to bits, and then, a professor of ours opened the door to the exam room - and the bomb hit. I walked in nervously, chose a random computer, Dana sat next to me and then they handed us our questions. Dana got hers first and from the "YES!" she cried out I knew that she had gotten the "Milton" question and that it most likely meant I would get the "Shakespeare" question - the one I did NOT want. I tried to tell myself, "no, it's ok, you could get the Milton one, it's ok" - I don't know why I did that. I didn't get the Milton question, my professor handed me a paper with the Shakespeare question circled, my spirit fell a little but my will took over.
With earplugs in place courteous of a sweet and thoughtful friend next to me I began my paper. I wrote it almost from beginning to end and three hours later printed up what I believe was about a 9 1/2 page paper. It went so quickly, writing-time always does. It flew by, the words poured out and I'm pretty positive I made the points I needed to. 4p.m. came and the exam was over.
Dana and I walked outside numb, not talking, just stunned. I had anticipated that I would cry, breakdown with the burden gone and task completed but I sheepishly yelled out to my husband who was waiting for us and he ran over looking far more excited than I felt. He kept saying, "it's over, it's over, you did it!" Words, words, words. 
He whisked me home to coffee and a quick Seinfeld break that was followed by dinner with my family at my favorite restaurant where my dear in-laws surprised me with their warm smiles, champagne and avocados (thanks again!). Then we headed down to the Grand Californian Hotel for some drinks where many unexpected friends also happened to be waiting for us when we got there. It was an amazing day.

So that's the story and a bit longer than I had intended. I'm still processing this "done" idea two days later, it doesn't make sense yet. 
The most rewarding aspect of all of this so far though, has been the overwhelming support that I have received from my friends and family through phone calls, text messages, surprises in person and the countless times I was told "I'll be praying for you". This was an accomplishment that I have largely done in private and frankly, didn't expect many people to care about. I have been floored by the encouragement that God has poured into my heart through this experience. 
And despite getting the Shakespeare question, my cup runneth over.

(*if you spotted my little hamlet quote or my nod to dr. faustus congrats, you have my respect and the full right to be very pleased with yourself)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

on the brink

Tonight I finished studying. 

Tomorrow I have my comprehensive exam where for three hours I will answer a question that I have been preparing to answer for the last two months and in some ways, for the last seven years. Seven years of preparation and somehow, tomorrow, it will all be over. Somehow, Lord willing, tomorrow I will have earned a Master's Degree in Renaissance English Literature

The last few days have been full of joy when I had anticipated them being full of stress, fatigue, anxiety and frustration. God has given me this incredible peace that has also come with a joy that continues to creep onto my face whenever I think about the exam. I just can't stop smiling. I've had so many little notes of encouragement, phone calls & texts and they all have blessed me, overwhelmed me with gratitude, love and hope. I didn't expect many people to care about this but so many of my friends and family have shown me that sweet care that I am positively overwhelmed by God's gifts to me. This has been a great week and today was the perfect end to these last few months of studying.

Tonight was surreal to say the least. My dear friend Dana and I spent the better part of ten hours studying today. We had a lovely coffee break courtesy of my dear, sweet mother and a for our last break we headed down for some delicious seasoned french fries with ranch dressing and coca-colas courtesy of the Nugget. At 10p.m. we called it quits, packed up our computers, turned in the books we had with us (approximately 20) and walked the long, cold, empty way down to our cars giggling, sighing and silent in disbelief. We are done - at least as far as studying goes. 

But there is still tomorrow. 

Our exam starts at 1p.m. and goes until 4. We both would really appreciate your prayers during that time. Specifically, that we would remember our critics & their arguments, that we would have clarity of thought & structure, that we remember the nice little points we really want to get across, and most importantly, that we both get the Milton question!! Thank you so much!

I'll let you know how it goes!


Sunday, September 11, 2011


I've asked a lot of people over the last week or two where they were on 9/11 & what they remembered. It is fascinating to hear person by person their reactions (i.e. "i thought it was a movie," or "i thought it was the end of the world") and the concerns for the country, for New York, and for those poor, poor innocent fellow citizens of ours. - If you shared your story with me this week thank you for sharing with me. I loved learning about you in that way. - If you didn't get to yet & would like to, I'd love to read about it. please share. if there's anything I've learned about pain like this it's that we really do feel something right when we talk about it, especially when other people are certain to understand what we mean.

The memories I have of that day are binding. Like every American who witnessed the horrors of that day I will never be able to forget what I saw. I wanted to just share my morning with you because I want to honor the day with what I can give it, my memory & my story. it's short, here it goes:
I was getting up to go to school (sophomore year) when my mom told me to go turn on the television and watch the news. She was in her bathroom toward the back of the house getting ready and listening to the radio. I knew something serious was happening. I flipped on the television and saw the images of the first building on fire. I'd never heard of The World Trade Centers, I certainly gathered that they were important and that this was terrible but I had no idea of what those buildings could hold, what they meant to America or what they symbolized to the terrorist. I watched as the second plane hit the second tower. I couldn't believe it. I ran to my mom & told her what happened, she was so serious & that is so not like my mom. I ran back to the television and watched until the 2nd tower that had been hit fell. I ran back again and told my mom. This time she was crying, I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what any of this meant, I just knew it was going to be terrible, beyond that even.
I was pretty young/naive being just a sophomore and I remember vividly months after the event saying to a pastor of mine in his office, "I just don't get 9/11, why are people still so upset about it? why is the news still harping on it? Move on." - I have regretted saying that from the minute after I said it. After that I began watching documentaries & learning about the tragedy of the day from perspectives I will never be able to comprehend. I learned through the footage, the audio of last voicemails, the incredible unity I felt amongst my countrymen of the honor & grief that day deserved in my heart. I regret that it took a while before I could grasp the meanings of that day but I have grasped them now.

It is a day every American that witnessed it can join me in saying that they will never forget. What comfort & unity there is in that knowledge; that WE will NEVER be able to forget that morning. We are united in that memory, linked by that national experience. 9/11 is a day that reminds me fiercely of my patriotism, my loyalty to the ideas of this country, to the ideas that were attacked on that day, to the ideas that caused that enemy to hate us. 
I can't wait to watch the ceremony tomorrow, I feel odd saying that I'm looking forward to something filled with so much pain but I find so much glory in remembering & participating with my nation as we remember together. I love my country. And I'll be watching tomorrow with a fixed gaze and bent heart just as I did on that Tuesday morning 10 years ago.

God bless you today as you remember & God bless this place, our home.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

fall semester

fall semester is the most lovely of the semesters. I feel relaxed as I walk onto a campus that is drifting away into the sleep of scarfy winter. I avoid the main thoroughfairs on campus & take a slow and quiet route to my classes. my stroll is peaceful, almost empty of other walkers save for two or three other souls. I feel deeply contented walking past the multi-storied brick buildings full of rooms where I have sat & learned for fifteen semesters. these places are sanctuaries in my mind, places I dearly love looking into & imagining my younger self inside learning some random bits of treasure that hopefully are still stored away in my mind. wandering on campus is nostalgic & magical. it is a place where I always feel that I belong more than anywhere else. somehow I feel as though I have earned this campus, these feelings, these treasured memories & thoughts. after all, fifteen semesters is a very long time to be in a relationship & somehow that's what I have with the campus, a complete & deep relationship.

I am enrolled this semester in "The Age of Milton," a class where we explore the contemporary authors of John Milton's time & end the class with a five week reading & discussion of his epic, Paradise Lost. it is going to be a phenomenal semester. the renaissance period is my favorite, after all, and I have my favorite professor teaching the class. but beyond what I will be learning from my professor & Milton, I will be learning something completely new that I really don't know how I will handle. I will be learning to say goodbye to this place, to my campus, to a place that brings me inexplicable comfort & joy. I fear leaving this place more than my final paper or comprehensive exam. I am so wrapped up in the rhythms of semesters, winter & summer breaks always broken by returning to class that I am at a real loss for knowing how the end of january will feel next year.

I will graduate in December with my Masters in English Literature & I feel caught between a sad disbelief & a sort of rushed sense of the end. "bitter-sweet" sums up my feelings almost exactly.
pray for me. this is going to be the hardest academic semester of my life, but beyond that I expect it to be one of the most difficult for my sentimental & romantic mind as it is forced to say good bye.

It seems most profound to me that I will read Paradise Lost this final semester. The title echoes in my heart as I will learn the meaning of my own paradise lost.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gaskell & Ephron

Here are my summer book picks for all you avid readers. While I was a little late in beginning my summer reading I started off the tradition with two fantastic & extremely quick (which, when they're as good as this means way too quick) reads.

The first one I picked up was my lovely, green Penguin edition of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford.

 I recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed Jane Austen's novels. Written in a similar style that blends delightful irony with quaint but serious tragedy, I was quite literally laughing out loud and not moments later crying (& all out of a singular paragraph!). I delighted in this book, in its sheer "britishness" but also in the sweet heart that felt & told these stories so dearly. Elizabeth Gaskell wrote two other novels that go along with Cranford  and that are woven into the television mini-series starring Judy Dench and Michael Gambon. The series has been wonderful so far, even Bryce is anxious to start the new disc (whenever Netflix graces our mailbox). I've come to understand through Bryce that British Television is somewhat of an acquired taste, however, he seems to have jumped into this particular series more quickly than any other I have made him watch. In fact, as I write this we are fixing up our famous (amongst ourselves, anyway) homemade pizza in anticipation of a Cranford night (white wine was invited as well)! 

And next we have the hilarious Nora Ephron's book, I Feel Bad About my Neck

In a word, this book is scrumptious. I laughed so many times & had to read so many parts of it out loud to whoever was fortunate enough to be sitting near me. To say I am recommending this book is really not accurate. You must read it. For those of you unaware of Nora Ephron & her work, she is responsible for one of my dearest & most treasured movie treats, You've Got Mail. Not only did she write it, she directed it as well. The same wonderful sensations that tickle my brain when I watch the film are found in each page of this short (only 120 page) book. She writes the way she talks & about midway through the book Bryce caught me referring to her on a first name basis - "Nora just said yatta yatta yatta . . . " - that is always a great sign. Take my word on this one, you will not be able to, nor will you want to put this down, much less have it end. It is a perfect little book on life, on lovely writing, on aging, cooking, the Apthorp, & what being a real person is actually like. 

I invite you to come visit me at my "Fox Books" (to quote my father who relishes in reminding me that I work for a nasty book chain - but please note all of you Got Mail fans that I know who Noah Streatfeild is!) & pick up these two titles. If you have other recommendations for me I'd love to hear them. 
I'm picking my way through Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White right now & it is turning awfully & chillingly mysterious. Look for my review on that one sometime next month.

*Pictures of these books are included for those of you who go into book stores armed with only the information about what color the book is. Thankfully these two are very bright & I will at least know what you mean by "the yellow funny one". But please, do try to remember the titles!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter

have you?
if you have never been stuck to a Harry Potter book than i'm telling you now, go get stuck. i was a doubter of the phenomenon myself being an accomplished english major and was convinced the books were below me, far, very far down below me. i was wrong and happily i discovered this about five years ago, in time to make it to the midnight premiers of movies 4 to tonight. TONIGHT.  i'll be camped out starting at 7pm (which is when i get off work) with my wand in one hand & a venti quattro-kajillion shot white mocha in the other. but while i look forward to tonight it is an ending and like all great things in life, there comes a time when we have to say goodbye. i am going to lose the thrill of eagerly anticipating the next movie/story & while other things will come along there is precious little out there that will keep me happily in a line till midnight. i hate the feeling of loss that comes with endings & farewells. tonight will be like finishing the books all over again & if there is something i loathe about a good book, it is the end of it.

in this moment of fandom i would like to just say a few things,

You have been a wonderful friend, I don't have the words right now to truly tell you of the joy, zeal & depth of feeling that your story has led me to. I'm so happy to have gotten to know you & happier to know how many others feel the same as I do.

I have stuck with Harry until the very end.

i'll see you all in line tonight i trust - with a lightning bolt on my forehead.
until then,


broken legs

pray for my husband will you? he's speaking at a camp and while he only has one night left, it is often that one last night where all the changes finally take root and show themselves. so if you'd pray for him, not only i, but i'm sure a great many souls would be thankful.

i wanted to just share a small thought, one that i absorbed from my father, a very wise man who shared with me over a chocolate shake & bacon burger his thoughts concerning our struggle in this life to model Christ. this is what he told me:

-  we are all dancing on broken legs  -

this has been a week of failures. i failed to move the car in time for street sweeping (something b normally does for me) and as a result our month just got a little tighter. i've had some frustrating customers this week as well & while i'm confident i didn't deserve or provoke their anger i'm not as confident that i cared at all to diffuse or be extra kind to them. i've had other small things go wrong that no one has noticed but me, and always in my mind are flawed thoughts that i turn around & around, and scold myself for thinking. ive never had a perfect day & even when i have that shift at work where just maybe i won't have that customer they inevitably show up. in short, i have felt a lot of shame this week, anger & frustration. but you know what i tell myself? grace abides. ah yes, i was blind but now, oh now i see. 
about a month ago i was sharing the story of my numbers, 925 & that exact phrase about coming out of blindness. my friend asked me, "is it better to be blind or to see?" and while the answer seems obvious it holds so much pain at the same time. to see & really see what is to be seen is a difficult & tricky business. i've confronted a great deal within myself that i didn't know was there; new flaws, new failures, new things to be ashamed of & learned that having my sight is in someways a true burden. my response to the question was, "i would rather see, but i am afraid of what i will have to look at". but in all of that looking i have seen a theme emerge and that (surprise!!) has been grace. 
i am trying to dance through the path God has purposed but i am doing it with a body that is broken, a body that hurts with each graceful leap. dancing on broken legs is precisely how i feel, but i take heart in my lord who has  overcome the world & who also delights in my poor but determined dancing.


Sunday, June 26, 2011



I've been inspired to write this blog based upon a cheese I tasted yesterday. I adore cheese. I'm fairly certain that the majority of my body weight can be attributed to cheese & I'm quite happy to think so. I believe I am on my way to becoming a connoisseur in this area and so I thought I would share a few of my favorite cheeses with you!

Long-standing favorite: Cahill Whiskey Cheese

This darling Irish cheese has a lovely whiskey bite to it that makes it sweetly melt in your mouth. It's perfect with grapes and a baguette. I recommend trying it at Venissimo (a 2nd Street must!) the place where I first discovered it. Also, you can conveniently get this cheese at Whole Foods (also known as "Whole Paycheck" in my home).

Next & A favorite since October: Mimolette

This is a hard but absolutely delicious cheese. It's best to pair it with another cheese, I recommend a creamy, soft white cheese to give some balance and variety to your palette. Either of these two white cheeses I'm posting are perfect compliments. This cheese became a favorite just after my purchase of Martha Stewart's Halloween magazine last year. It was the perfect addition to my halloween cheese plate & if you're brave enough to look up how the cheese is made you'll discover an even creepier side to this orange treat! *This cheese is also available at Whole Paycheck

Finally & my most recent discovery: Mainland New Zealand White Cheddar (Grassfed)
This is a simply delightful cheese. It's creamy but not too rich, has just enough of a sour taste to satisfy but not overwhelm & I find it just a little too easy to eat. I paired it with nectarines last night & it made for a fresh & soft summer feast in my mom's kitchen. Lucky for you this cheese is charmingly inexpensive and available at Trader Joe's.

If you venture to try any of these I sincerely hope that you enjoy yourselves & please, stay cheesy. 


Monday, June 20, 2011

a hug

So my husband is speaking at a camp next month. His theme is grace and his talk, from what I've heard so far, is going to rock some little junior high hearts. 
This opportunity has led to some awesome discussions within the small walls of our apartment concerning the vast, reaching & astonishing doctrines of grace. These discussions/debates & deep probings of our minds produced a new thought on grace that I have found truth & comfort in & would like now to share it with you.

Quoting  a scholar, someone who certainly knows what they are talking about, Bryce read a passage that remarked upon grace as a "gift," one that we do not deserve & that cannot be paid back. Well, I don't like that idea, but then, I don't think many of us like the thought of getting something we are unworthy of and that we can't pay back. If Ayn Rand taught me anything it's that I earn what I have and I pay for what I want. But grace doesn't work that way. That I don't deserve it but am given it anyway is the toughest aspect of grace & is often abused by people who feel entitled to it & free to carry on as they would. That's not how it works either. 
As Bryce & I discussed grace and how we experience it I thought back to the time in my life where it first became real to me. I was sitting in church about 5 years ago now, I felt doomed by decisions I had made & to a life I didn't want. I was sad, alone, hopeless & feeling unloved when our pastor began speaking on grace. I don't remember what he said exactly, but the match was lit in my mind and as the flame grew so did the light & the idea; I realized that I could change my life, make new & right decisions, run from my past and into the arms of Jesus. As I gazed into that memory I realized that for me grace has never been a gift - something I run the risk of feeling entitled to, it has always been a hug. I remember distinctly crying, feeling overwhelmed & washed over in truth, hope & grace. That moment led to a break-up, a decision to serve in junior high ministry, meeting a handsome intern, falling for him, marrying him & now he is teaching junior highers about my grace. Life, right? It's a chaotic pattern of perfection, "fearful symmetry" to quote Blake, a divine poem that overwhelms the fragment I am able to read of it even now. 

As I opened this thought I felt the truth & beauty of it. I saw it like this: When I am drenched in my sin, feeling that despair, helplessness & gripping fear in being so lost, it's as though a light turns on behind me, I feel it warm my back, I know what it means, who it is and tears run down my face as I realize that he has come for me. I turn around slowly, I see Jesus standing with his arms held out aching for me. Sometimes I run to them, other times I walk slowly but it always ends the same. I walk into the hug and his arms fold around me, my heart overflows in his love & somehow I am able to put my arms around him, where they have belonged the whole time. 

grace is a hug. I hope you have felt it & that you will feel it many, many times.


Friday, June 3, 2011


When life is full the blog goes empty!

I've missed this place & you somehow even though we don't exactly talk here. But You were missed & that's always a nice thing to be told.

Church has been happening.

Bryce & I have become members of our church & in the journey from the class to the confirmation some pretty interesting & beautiful new thoughts have floated into my head. In a conversation I had with my dear cousin a week or so ago I told her how in being back at the church I feel like I am "getting my voice back" - the odd part is, I don't know where it went to begin with. I've struggled with regularly attending church since we were married & while we have been told that that is ever so normal I don't think the loss of self I have felt was usual. I have been wrapped up & trapped within myself unable to see what I was missing & even convinced I was happier that way. But I haven't been "happy" with who I have been for some time, until these last few weeks.

Recently, I heard a man on the radio listing off the tremendous distances that exist between the earth & other parts of our solar system. His conclusion upon listing these measurements in the billions & trillions was, "that just goes to show how insignificant we are," and this, I think, is the common reaction. It is what we hear & tell ourselves whenever we are faced with calculations measuring the grandeur of the world or our solar system. However, this time when I heard his response a deep cry welled up from within me & my heart screamed at him, "NO! Don't you see, all those huge numbers & unimaginable distances only point to HOW significant WE are!" Doesn't it count for something that we are the only creative, transformative, exploring & reasoning creature to exist in the universe? I have grown up with voices all my life teaching me that I am nothing but "dust," that I am undeserving, that I'm so small I almost don't matter. I'm wondering now if those were the voices that had taken away my own, deprived me of any feeling of action. I think they probably were. But I can't hear them anymore and I do disagree. God's love is why. I am loved, I am called to action & when I am loved so deeply I feel I can do nothing but act on it! It is the greatest feeling & one that is coursing through me, I can't wait to get into fellowship with my dear friends & soon-to-be-friends and the fact that I, Molly, just typed all those words  (one after the other) is proof of a miraculous change within myself over this past month.

I said life has been full & I don't mean with work or routine. It has just been exciting, dynamic & almost like learning how to live again. I feel like I have come home after a cold & too-long journey, the blanket is around my shoulders & the cup of hot soup in my hand. He (my Lord) is feeding me, preparing me for something that just feels like it's going to knock  my little cinderella  flats right off & my heart is leaping to see it.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011


"I hate waiting"  - Inigo Montoya

I don't know many people that like waiting. I enjoy the tension and excitement I feel right now when I think about Harry Potter 7.2 but that's because I'm confident that it will satisfy my expectations & I pretty much know what I'm in for (i.e. so much crying). However, when it comes to waiting and not knowing what you are waiting for, well, that's what Inigo is talking about. The man in black is going to take a while & he'll eventually come to the surface but then what? Is he a good sword fighter or a bad one? Will his banter be witty or sour? Will Inigo kill him too quickly or just quickly enough? - So many questions and none of them will be answered until the man in black is ready.

I'm sure you've realized by now that I am in a waiting period myself, but then, who isn't? We are all waiting for some answer but some of them are bigger or more pressing than others. My pastor taught this week on exactly this topic and I really needed to hear it so perhaps it will help you too.  He said that "God is content to not give you all the answers," in fact, God intentionally keeps them from you. Frustrating? Yes, because I hate not having answers, not having control, not knowing. It's uncomfortable & in some moments it's scary. The obvious purpose of waiting is that it grows (*should grow) us in our faith, trust and dependence upon God. Having grown up in church I've learned that any phrase that sounds as good as that means it's actually something really tough. I get excited when I think about this  waiting phase as a place of safety where I am awaiting a masterful plan that is going to push my husband and I into a new & challenging place in our spiritual lives. That sounds great & probably means we're in for something awful, something like "change". I believe I hate change far more than I hate waiting. So I am stuck, yes? Well, no, not quite. I've been realizing that in waiting there is a correct and an incorrect way to wait. I go  between them on a seemingly daily basis but I am really trying and learning to do it the right way. I'm finding comfort and peace in this silent place of God's will. He's told me to wait here and I am obeying, that's very good and I am happy in that. I'm trying not to "hate waiting" so much, but like Inigo I like to have a plan. But my plans have been falling away (remember that thesis thing?) & God's desire for me to wait is taking hold. In the end there probably isn't a six-fingered man waiting to be killed by me (as no one would take me seriously, shouting  "prepare to die!"), but there will be that joy that I will have if I continue to wait correctly and follow when He tells me to. 

(more to come on this "following" business at some unspecified time)


Saturday, April 23, 2011


I just watched the most recent episode of The Office and I have tears pouring down my face. This may be one of the only times that that show has literally made me cry out of sheer sadness.. I dearly, dearly love the show and I am so sad to see Michael leave. Michael has made me laugh for years and harder than almost anyone else. At perhaps the highest point of my obsession with the show I would say to someone, "Hey, remember when Michael said (funny quote) " and I would laugh, really hard. Then whoever it was would say, "Wait, who's Michael? how do you know him?"  Me: "oh yeah, uh, I meant Michael Scott, uh from The Office,  not like a friend of mine or anything. . ." - this happened a lot. We were close & he has meant a lot to me. I love that in an awkward moment he can make me cringe to the point where I'm  covering my eyes because I don't want to see what I'm hearing -  that's how you know it's good.. I still can't watch the episode, "Phyllis' Wedding" - it's almost unendurable. But that's amazing, it's what amuses me and I love that push. Despite how much I have loved the show I really am surprised by how sad I am. I didn't know how much I loved & cherished having Michael Scott actively participating in my daily or weekly life. To quote him about how I feel right now, "It's simply beyond words. It's incalculacable". So, in an Ode to Michael here are some of my favorite  quotes of all time. I hope these quotes make you laugh & maybe make you watch some old episodes, please feel free to leave a favorite quote of yours below. 

Here's to you Michael,

"I swore to myself if I ever got to walk around the room as manager, people would laugh as they saw me coming, and they'd applaud as I walked away."

"That is a perfectly good mini Christmas tree. We are going to sell that to charity because that is what Christmas is all about."

"Would I rather be feared or loved? Um... Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."

"This is our receptionist, Pam. If you think she's cute now, you should have seen her a couple years ago."

"Armani get me Armani. (pause) You're not going to Paris."

"I'm very fast. I'm like Forrest Gump"

"This is an environment of welcoming, and you should just get the hell outta here,"

"Yeah, I went hunting once. Shot a deer in the leg. Had to kill it with a shovel. Took about an hour. Why do you ask?"

"Yes. It is true. I, Michael Scott, am signing up with an online dating service. Thousands of people have done it, and I am going to do it. I need a username, and... I have a great one. "Little Kid Lover". That way people will know exactly where my priorities are at."

"Toby is in HR, which technically means he works for corporate, so he's really not a part of our family. Also, he's divorced, so he's really not a part of his family." 

Prank call: "Hey, Ryan, this is your girlfriend and I'm mad. (out of control laughter)" 

"You may look around, and see two groups here. White collar, blue collar. But I don't see it that way. You know why not? Because I am collar-blind." 

To Toby: "Why are you the way that you are? Honestly, every time I try to do something fun or exciting, you make it not... that way. I hate... so much about the things that you choose to be."

and finally . . .

"That's what *she* said." 

Thanks for the laughs buddy,

Monday, April 11, 2011


{ s u n d a y . . . }
I had the sunday of sundays this week and I am so excited to share with you. I hadn't quite intended to go to church, I didn't set an alarm and decided that if I woke up too late I would do pilates and clean the house. Bryce was working and I usually don't have the drive to get up and go without him. However, I woke up in time,  called my mom and we were early enough that we had time to grab some coffee and sit outside of church before it started. So nice. 
Four boys were baptized that morning, I saw and talked to a lot of old faces and met a few new ones. My parents and grandmother were there with me for the beginning part of the service, we worshiped together and celebrated the boys. After the baptisms my family left having attended the earlier service and having other places to be. I sat alone in that beautiful church and I was so comfortable and happy that it surprised me.

{ b a c k g r o u n d }
it is necessary for me to tell you this so that you will grasp the meaning of this sunday.
For approximately five years I have been seeing the numbers 925 everywhere I look. Five years ago they were part of a phone number that I called all the time, and that I ceased to call after a painful break-up. I began seeing 925 EVERYWHERE. Each time I would look at the clock morning or night, it was 9:25. It made me crazy. I hated the reminder, the taunt, the pain that I associated with those numbers and I couldn't escape them. Over time their appearance subsided with the occasional flare-up. It felt like a sickness but I hadn't had it for some time. However, last month I began seeing them again; on the clock in my car, on my phone, even on my computer which is unfixably, off by 8 hours. I  turned on an X-Files episode and the first thing I saw was "925" on the side of a huge ship. I was stunned, it was too much and I felt angry. Why was I seeing 925 again?
I shared this issue with a counselor and he immediately, before I could finish going through my list of places, said, "Do you think it could be a scripture reference?"
I looked at him and said that I couldn't think of one but that I would run home and race through my Bible. He suggested I not do that. "Wait for God to reveal it to you," he said, "don't force meaning where it doesn't belong". 

So I waited, & then Sunday happened.

{ . . . s u n d a y }
My pastor began reading out of John 10:10 "I came so that you might have life and have it in abundance". Beautiful. I begin reading that passage where Jesus is calling himself my shepherd and me a sheep. I'm not too flattered but i know it's true. As I'm reading I realize that chapter 9 is just the column to the left of where I'm reading. I think, "why not? I'll look, it'll probably be something about directions or names or just something too random. but I want to know". I read the passage leading up to my numbers. It's the story of the blind man that Jesus has healed. The Pharisees are questioning the man and telling him it wasn't Jesus who healed him because Jesus was a sinner. Then, in John 9:25 the man says, 
"Whether he is a sinner or not I do not know.  
One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see"

Amazing Grace. That was my first thought, it's one of my favorite hymns and was the dearest of ideas to me five years ago when I had lost so much and felt that I had so little. I had Jesus' amazing grace, I had been blind and I was just beginning to see. 
Alone in the back I sat shaking as I read the passage over and over and over again. I had not forced this meaning, this is what 925 had meant all along. This was my verse, my 925, my reason, my grace. I sat there and was struck and overwhelmed by the deeply personal way God was communicating to me. That he was changing those numbers that I had so hated into numbers of tearful joy, into a gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life. 
That morning was a testimony of so many things. God's redemption, goodness, intimate love, personal grace and divine timing. I am overwhelmed still and have to tell myself even as I see 925 now that it isn't bad anymore, I can now see.

my heart is so deeply grateful for sunday and I just had to share it with you.


Saturday, April 9, 2011


this has been a victorious week for me my friends. In the light of one decision that has set me free so many other little moments of sweet revelation have followed. I received so much affirmation from you and others in my life and it has been utterly thrilling. God did not have to add other hearts to mine, as I was confident and happy in my decision to delete the thesis, but He did anyway. As always with God, He overwhelms my soul.

I've been buried in James Joyce this week and if you are aware of my academic history you know how happy that has made me. I first encountered the illustrious Mr. Joyce in HS where I attempted to read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man - it is one of two books I didn't finish in HS (I've added many more to that since but I'm trying to stress how great my hatred was). I hated him.
In 2007 I decided to take a study abroad course in Dublin, Ireland. The course was a seminar in James Joyce. I didn't care anymore, I wanted to go to Ireland and that was my ticket. While there is a very special Dublin story that I could share here I will wait and save it for it's anniversary date in June - this post is for Joyce. 
In Dublin my classmates and I read Joyce's collection of short stories called Dubliners in the first week and in the subsequent two weeks we tackled Joyce's epic and monstrous Ulysses. The 700+ page book takes place in one day and each event happens on a specific and actual street or place in Dublin. I ate the same sandwich Leopold Bloom ate at the Davy Burns pub and walked the shores of Sandy Mount where Stephen Dedalus pondered "ineluctable modality." I have read a lot of books, mostly classic titles and I am proud of my reading list, my crowning achievement thus far is having read Ulysses. This book is not for the faint of heart, the casual or naive reader. You should probably be 24 before you read this book and even then, this is not an add to go read it. However, if you are an English major (and I suspect that many of you dear readers are) then this book is a must for you, it just might change your life. I didn't realize the impression the book, the place and the experience had made upon me until months or maybe a year after I got home. I had carried that book with me everywhere for three solid weeks and even after that I continued to carry it, we were dear friends, my companion in my first great journey. 
I got to re-read another story of Joyce's this semester, a short and lovely little story called "Araby," the name captivates me, I'd name my daughter that if I could, but I will probably have to give it to a second or third basset hound as the first one will obviously be "Ulysses." Anyway, this story I can recommend to you, snatch it somewhere, take 25 minutes to dig in and read it, fall into it, fall in love with it and then sit up and clap yourself on the back, you have read and survived James Joyce. 
Besides just wanting to talk about Joyce, I decided it was probably time to explain that "shellcocoacoloured" is a Joycean creation from one of the first chapters in the book. The phrase, like "Araby" caught me. It is simple, beautiful, with familiar words re-fashioned into a phrase that holds it's own meaning for each reader. I selected it because I find myself and most people feel that way about themselves. We are each made up of pieces of so many different words that we can hardly ever use just one. Joyce doesn't want to, doesn't have to because he's Joyce, so he writes "shellcocoacoloured" and prints a moment of the sublime onto a page.
I suppose in my own way that is what I have set out to do. I don't quite know what I am yet or what this will become, but being "shellcocoacoloured" is a sweet, and enchanting place to start.


Monday, April 4, 2011

a thinky thing

I have been in the depths of my mind this last month, evaluating life decisions, relationships, goals and new ideas. It's been an interesting time and a difficult one as well. Change is a'comin' and that scares just about all of us I think. 

I have made a big decision and I mean really crazy, big, drastic decision: I am no longer going to write a thesis on Hamlet. If you had suggested to me just a couple months ago an alternative option to finishing my masters degree I would have stubbornly and with determination said that I wanted to write it, to have a book, a big bunch of pages that I had written - looking back, I think it was an ego trip. I don't care anymore about the thesis, I do still care about the topic. My passion for Shakespeare hasn't died, but my drive to teach or participate in the academic community has and I am still in a little shock over it. 

My priorities have changed drastically over this last year, slowly but drastically. Bryce and I were sitting in the "New Members" class at our church, a church I have attended for every year of my life and that I am now excited to intentionally commit to. But sitting in that class our pastor started sharing different people groups that are untouched in our surrounding community. I sat there and my heart hurt for them, I wanted to talk to them, explain grace & Jesus and in that moment the grand idea of my thesis fizzled. I realized my time will be better spent without it - as I imagined and realized that reality, my stress level vanished, I was smiling, I felt value and purpose in my decision, a rightness with God. Amazing yeah? I wasn't in a church service, I wasn't even thinking about school, but God came and graced me with peace, joy, and a satisfaction in my decision to do the exam that I never could have imagined. 

I'd love to tell you more but I have to be off to work. Maybe I'll drop in later tonight, my heart is full and the blog is a little empty. I've been caught in this "thinky thing" - a fantastic little phrase my dear friend shared with me (a quote from a professor - yes, see I could teach!) - and I am coming out of it now. I am processing and getting so excited. 

Life is filling up with meaning again.


Friday, March 18, 2011

faraway spring

Another little painting for you to enjoy. I love changing my desktop to different Ellenshaw paintings throughout the year and according to season. There is just something so nice about opening my computer and seeing a simple, sweet and wonder-filled scene of all my old friends. 
This one in particular has a rather peculiar effect on my heart. The picture reminds me of a spring I've lived, faraway and long ago, secret in my memory. The way the golden light shines in and how  little everyone seems beneath the canopy of fresh and quiet trees make is magical.  I had many spring moments like this as a child, running out doors with my friends, playing in the twilit park with my dad, and sailing on the cool dark ocean with my family. These fragmented memories of light and happiness  are what I feel  the glow and wonder in this painting attests to. As I look at it I feel sheltered, there's a quiet over my mind as I observe the innocent play, and my heart rests as I imagine the infinite woods rustling with life. Isn't it nice that through art those moments of a faraway spring can come rushing back? I hope you feel some of that as you look on this, allow your heart and mind to sink into that dear child within you and rejoice over a few memories. Please feel free to share below, I'd love to listen.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

Alright my dears, I have decided that I can trust you and because of that I have decided that it's time for me to confess my complete and slightly unwholesome obsession with a book called Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand published the book in 1957, it weighs in around 1060 pages and it continues to be a top-seller in book stores to this day. I started the monster in 2008, it took me roughly four months to read it, it's a very long book and not for the uncommitted reader. To say I became obsessed is accurate except that it doesn't fully express how every single thought, comment and idea that popped into my head over ensuing year revolved around the book. I breathed it, and got so passionate about it I would sweat. I knew it was bad when Bryce said he couldn't take anymore. I broke the patience of the most patient man I know, he lets me tap his face endlessly to my own amusement but he couldn't take any more of Atlas. Needless to say n reading it I learned many things about myself, how neurotic I could be, but more importantly, I saw my moral and economic outlook change as I recognized Rand's belief that they are steadfastly linked to each other. Rand's philosophy deems people that work hard, earn their own living, who don't rely on the charity or sympathy of others as morally and economically upright individuals. She condemns free-loaders, looters, and anyone willing to complain before they are willing to work. She treats these kinds of people as evil, immoral, shameful and untrustworthy. - It sounds just and I love it, parts of it. She motivates me to work because I am conscious of the fact that as I work I am fairly, morally and truly earning the lifestyle that I have. It is a great feeling, I am indebted to no one, I've made it on my own, I worked hard and I deserve what I have. However, in the novel, Rand takes this philosophy of "objectivism" and applies it to  every aspect of human life: sex, love, work, clothing, relationships, etc . . .
In short, Life of Capitalism = Good, Life of Communism/Socialism = Really Bad/ you suck.

Problematically for me, I couldn't get my Christian philosophy reconciled to Rand's objective outlook. The problem for me, was grace. Grace is never earned or deserved, I am and will always be indebted to the sacrifice of Jesus and I can do nothing to decrease the cost. This was very, very frustrating to the fresh Atlas fanatic that I was. In seeking to reconcile these philosophies I knew I could not accept anything that conflicted with Biblical truth so I turned down the idea of having to earn the love of my husband and chose to just accept it. For example, despite the fact that I failed to do the dishes last night, he still told me he loved me today (yes!). I have limited Rand's philosophy to my work attitude, it boosts me to go and put in the hours, do my job well and in a way that I will be proud of. It is so satisfying to work and leave thrilled with what I got accomplished (even if it was explaining to a dear old man that wifi means "wireless" and no, we don't have a cord to connect your wifi nook to the wireless internet).
I have had to acknowledge that I am not a rational, heroic character out of Rand's book. I am a flawed person, in need of grace, in need of so much more than I can get for myself. Lately, God has been sprinkling money about the earth for Bryce and I. Last week I found a little pile of $3 at school, Bryce found a $50 on a car a few months back and I am always finding pennies or dimes on the ground wherever I go. Our parents have been generous to us in chipping in on groceries and blessing us with sweet gifts. All of that is all money we haven't earned, but God's love and grace has brought it to us. Therefore I will be thankful. I will also go to work tomorrow with the goal of earning enough money to purchase this bracelet conceptualized in Atlas Shrugged. 

 It's made of Reardon Steel! I WANT IT NOW. 
Go read the book and you'll understand how I could so passionately want to earn something as ugly as this.


a fine frazzle

it's been a whirl wind of a week, or month, or whatever that was that just passed me by. oh yeah, the whole beginning of the year! my goodness, how has so much time frittered away? I know I haven't been too attentive to my little bloggy here but that is to blame for two things: school & american idol (with emphasis on Steven Tyler). yes, I am pretty hooked. It's not a show where I've religiously watched season after season but I like mocking people in the beginning at the city auditions and after that my interest inevitably fizzles. however, this year has me interested mostly because of the intelligent, well-versed and actually qualified judges. pretty fun. I'm not sure who I'm voting for yet, I don't think I've ever voted before so making sure I really weigh all the pros and cons and make the right decision could take me some time. I am really into the Paul McDonald guy, so soft-funky that it's ridiculous - like this blog - I mean this one in particular not the whole blog
. . . eeegh. 
obviously I'm up way too late, dishes are in the sink and my brain is more than a fine mess. just wanted to chat. also, I have an x-files dance, yes, it's a legitimate dance that I perform whenever the intro music comes on. I'm proud of it and will probably never share it with any of you because I like to tease like this. 
you'll just have to ask bryce.

good night!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

thin mints

Have you seen the office episode where every time Jim restarts his computer he gives Dwight an altoid? It is one of my favorite pranks that he pulls but I also love it because I am a victim of taste association. 
As a child I was home-schooled which may have provided far more opportunities for this than normal, plus I am a creature of habits, - although I perceive them as splendid traditions I have with myself -  they are really just solid habits. Some examples, at lunch time my mom would make me a grilled cheese sandwich and we would listen to Dr. Laura's radio show. While she isn't on that station any longer and I don't eat nearly as much grilled cheese as I ought to now, I still think of her anytime I am enjoying one.  I also used to watch cartoons in the mornings with my brother and would chow down Captain Crunch during episodes of Transformers - they went together somehow in my head, beyond the food association thing, I don't see a theme really but it's there, trust me cause I feel it. yes. Now my favorite association that does have a theme although I am realizing it is ridiculous, and is also the reason for this post: the annual re-awakening of my taste buds that happens when a fresh CASE of thin min girl scout cookies arrives at my home.  
Thin mints are my favorite,  I actually do refuse to eat any other kind as I see no point in indulging in lesser things. Well, here's what I did while I would eat thin mints, I would watch (usually with my dad) Anne of Green Gables or Anne of Avonlea. I dearly love those movies, they hold truth, joy, humor, the frustrations and wonders of youth and the hassle of growing up. Anne always had a spirit of strength and a sort of independence that didn't repulse me, she still needed, loved and desired other people while being a solid person on her own two feet. I love that about her. I would devour thin mints as my eyes poured over the beauties of Prince Edward Island and Anne began the story reading Tennyson by a stream.
The swift transportation into the past memories of a happy child-life via a small cookie is what I am cherishing tonight before I head off to class. I am so grateful that my mom allowed me the indulgence of treats, that she and my father surrounded and filled my life with films, radio, books and conversation that stimulated and impressed me in tender ways I am only now realizing. What a sweet thing life is.

Go buy yourself your favorite cookie and consider beginning a tradition for yourself, create that connection to something you will love to remember and enjoy it. Also, feel free to send a box of thin mints my way next time you see me, I'm sure I will have room in my freezer, I plan on getting together with Anne very soon.


oh! and that odd theme that I found between Anne of Green Gables and thin minds is just that the thin mints are in a green box just like the eaves of Green Gables. Oh man, that will blow my professor away tonight : )

Saturday, February 12, 2011

the story

 "To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments." 
~ Walt Disney   

A glimpse into the mind of a great man. Don't you love those? I find the struggle between Good and Evil fascinating as meaning could not exist if the struggle was not there. There would be no books as there would be no plot lines for them, no need for friends, for prayers, for churches, for sad movies or for places like Disneyland. While It's not that I believe that Eden wasn't actually a paradise, I know that it was and that it could have been enough, but God sees/saw/knows/has always known the power of story. He saw the need for the struggle, for  loss and victory and knew that paradise had to be lost. The singular elements of good and evil are present in every single piece and moment of your life. All of our motivations, choices, desires and dreams are determined by those two things and we fail to remember so often the fight we are in despite and because of the fact that we are in it every day.   

Today will be a good  day for me. I am going to Disneyland with my mom, meeting some dear friends to pick-up a Bridesmaid dress, having coffee and enjoying the sunshine. I am going to partake of so much good today. But as C.S. Lewis reminds us the joy I will feel today is part of The Problem of Pain - I could not feel all that I will today in it's magnitude if I couldn't compare it to times of less good, not necessarily evil times in my life though I could point to a couple events,  but times when I chose poorly (Indiana Jones) and failed to enjoy, seek, and run into the joy of good that God has created. I was told a long time ago that the most important thing in life is . . . what would you guess? I had no idea, I thought, "um, God?" - and sure that is right but only sort of. God wouldn't be important to me or the most important were it not for my Relationship with Him. The most important thing in life are relationships and I am blessed with so many.

So today I am on a quest and an easy one I think to go and enjoy some very sweet women in my life.    I am excited because today I am going to experience so much good, I am going to shower myself in the most important things in life, my friends. I think Walt really knew all of this, why else would he have created a place that is specifically designed and in fact requires relationships to enjoy? He saw the beauty in family and love and couldn't stop from just telling the stories in his films, he had to create a place that provides all of us with our own stories. That is so good.  

So thanks Walt, I don't think I could ever tell you how much the park and everything you filled it with means to me.  

"Here we go!"   


**and in case you were wondering, Disney references are in pink in part to honor the castle but also because pink is probably the most prominent color on Main Street, USA. You should go soon to see for yourself - there I just found your next excuse to go. You are so welcome!   
{pictures to follow!}

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

keep calm

I turned in my prospectus this week. It's an almost five page paper complete with introduction, chapter titles and outlines that summarize what I will be writing in my thesis. It felt absolutely wonderful e-mailing it off to a professor that I know will be honest and helpful. I am encouraged and feel like I just might be able to do this thing. Here's the last sentence from my paper, I'm really proud of it: 
"Shakespeare makes no attempt to promise heaven, grants no hope and offers no peace, but leaves the audience with and in the simple “silence” of death." 
- I mean you are totally missing context and everything but it's good right? Especially if I were to remind you that Hamlet's last words are "the rest is silence"? Huh huh?

Anyway, of course I am ill now, I have lost my voice and am living on orange juice and robitussin {yummy sound}. While being sick is somewhat miserable I have usually enjoyed it and this time is no different. I can't work as much, I got to go home two hours early yesterday and I enjoyed those hours by taking a nap and watching an old office episode - Grief Counseling, one of my favorites. Bryce made a super tasty hot dinner that felt wonderful to my cracked throat and then we treated ourselves to several x-files. Today I was planning on working but my body has fallen victim to a coma of sorts where it is unhappy moving and requires comfy clothes. I am happy to acquiesce. While I look and sound terrible, my heart is home. I understand all the frustration that gets blasted on facebook about being sick, but to me these winter colds and flus are a little like the weather; I can't really control it so I'll settle down, wrap myself up and enjoy what comes along. 

Browsing Etsy this morning I found my views on handling stress, illness, homework, thesis - all that perfectly reflected in a piece of art. I have been practicing this for years and it has not failed me yet. If you are sick or stressed out give it a try. 

Keep Calm. Enjoy it all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Yes, x-files.  This show has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. My parents (for reasons they have still left unexplained - much like many x-files themselves) allowed us to watch the show from it's very beginning, in 1993. I was 7. I'll allow you time to recover your shock, I am floored actually, I was pretty sure I was 10. Wow mom & dad, wow.  
Yes, the show completely terrified me; I hated the dark, I was convinced someone was going to steal me through my bedroom window, and I was sure there was something living in my closet. The show led me to be perhaps one of the most paranoid children ever, even to this day I find myself freaked out by mirrors, windows and bath curtains. However, I loved and continue to love the show. The intrigue, unexpectedness, and the desire "to believe" in the unthinkable. The idea that "The Truth is Out There" - is so awesome.   
Why this is relevant: when I first met Bryce he had never seen an episode of x-files, not surprising now since he also would have been only 7. I guess I either finally piqued his interest or he couldn't take my ravings anymore, but about 2 months ago we settled down to watch the pilot episode via netflix. It had been years, maybe even a decade since I had watched that episode but I found myself mouthing phrases and remembering exact images from the show. While it was still creepy, I was filled with nostalgia and joy over memories, my connection & familiarity with the show. I realized that I could handle the x-files now, appreciate them truly and enjoy every one of Scully & Mulder's adventures, even their worst: those long treks through dark woods with flashlights in hand just ready to illuminate the face of an alien or night-monster - they are always doing that and it is always creepy.  
Since that night we have made our way through season one all the way up to "The Host," better known as the "Fluke Man" episode - a total classic and one that made me remember why I was so scared of toilets as a kid. Watching the x-files now is a leap back to some of my favorite characters, the Lone Gun Men, the mysterious cigarette smoking man, and of course Dana and Fox.  
I have at last found the perfect two-step method that I believe will help anyone to watch the x-files without getting too freaked out:   
1. watch them previously so that when you watch the whole series a second time you can relax and say to yourself, "hah! I've already seen this one!"  
2. make sure you are married or have a sweet roommate so that you don't have to go to sleep all alone. This is the MOST important step. If not followed properly, extreme cases of creeps and lack of sleep may (will) occur.   
I'm not sure if this is an endorsement to go watch it or not but here is a blast from a long-ago halloween past, my dear little brother and I as Scully and Mulder complete with FBI badges: 

*Note: this photo is also included to provide evidence of the fact that these young children were most likely far too young to be THIS familiar with such a creepy show. Parents ought to be examined (only sort of kidding here).    


Sunday, January 30, 2011

a book for your life

Here is the first book recommendation I have for you.
I've had the pleasure of reading this book for the last few years. Each day is a small excerpt from a variety of his major works; Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, The Problem of Pain, A Grief Observed, Surprised by Joy with other speeches and radio bits mixed in. It's a really wonderful way of becoming acquainted with his books (he wrote over 30), his genius, and his astounding wisdom. 
I am almost always able to read through a passage and just as I begin to remember it his point, word choice, or sheer simplicity strikes me - it's always a surprise and always illuminating to read him. 
I know that my Barnes & Noble has this book waiting for you and I want to greatly encourage you to purchase it, I think it is a beautiful idea to each day make a small pursuit in the name of wisdom and logic, and of course, our good Lord. This is a book that you could read every year of your life, probably the only book I plan on doing that with, I like the companion I've chosen, I hope you will like him too.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

a tulip update

So I promised a few more pictures of what I have been enjoying in my little apartment this last week. Here are a few of my lovely mystery tulip pictures.

So pretty!

They are still blooming which I am just amazed by. I don't know if you can see my one casualty, the smaller little striped tulip has not made it and I have no idea how to treat/prune/care for these things as they are bulbs and that's a weird thing to be. If you have any tips let me know, otherwise I'm going to hit up my grandma and google for some advice. My grandma knows absolutely everything about plants. She was always admiring or being sweet about whatever my mom was trying to grow (sorry mom, you know how I love you). I never had much interest in plants, I would save on occasion for these odd little pink plants that I would see at Lucky's (our old grocery store) but they always died and I was always sad about it. Oddly, a friend just gave me one of those pink ones and it's in my kitchen. "There's an irony there but I'm not drunk enough to figure it out" - a favorite quote from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf - so please don't worry, I don't get drunk at 11 in the morning or to discover ironies. 
The only time flowers meant something to me was when my dad would bring me roses for my birthdays. It was always special to get those roses from him because I knew that he hated them. Hated? Yes, and he hates them still. If you can imagine working for a mortuary where there are endless streams of flowers that you have to carry all about you would probably grow less fond of them too. My dad always said that the roses he brought me were recycled funeral flowers, I didn't care and now, I'm not so sure as they were always absolutely beautiful roses and I remember a few bows being tied on them that he certainly wouldn't have put there.  . . hmmm! Jeff, we need to talk. It doesn't matter though, those birthday flowers were so special to me that I hung them upside down in my room - copying Glenn Close in Sarah Plan and Tall - and preserved them. I still display them in a vase in my room and I made the pleasant discovery this last year that they are perfect Halloween decorations. I still look at them and think of my darling father who lavished a ten year old girl with twelve long-stem red roses - I'll never forget that sweetness - it's a rare thing. It's amazing how happy flowers can make you, even a decade and a few years later. thank you dad (but we still need to talk).


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Globe

So, I am about to start working on my thesis, really I am. Since it will likely be the topic of the year on my blog I believe I should attempt to explain it so that when you read "thesis" on here, you will understand the pain and the grandeur of what I am referencing. 
I am in love with Hamlet (when it is in Italics it means the play, not the man - I love the play, not the man). More than Hamlet I am in love with Shakespeare and have been slowly falling for him over the last four or five years. I find most of his work completely divine in its meaning, power, relevancy and testimony to the beauty and tragedy that is wrapped up in each individual. I had the privilege of seeing three of his plays this summer at The Globe theater in London - if you go to London you will be an idiot if you miss The Globe - a big, sad, uncultured idiot. It is an experience that changes you, makes Shakespeare comprehensible and links you with the audiences of the last four hundred years that have been enjoying his plays. Bryce and I had groundling seats (they only cost £5 but you do stand the entire time) for Henry IV: Part 1, one of the more famous history plays because of the infamous Falstaff (played by the exquisite Roger Allam) who makes his first appearance here. Bryce and I laughed so much, we were enthralled, overwhelmed, swept away by the comedy, the brilliance and the ambiance. We were beaming at each other by the end of the three hour play, shaking our heads and laughing still when we heard - "are you coming back tonight for part 2?" - "PART 2!" we looked at each other with victory in our eyes "Yes yes, we are!!" With that my darling husband let me peruse the amazing Shakespeare gift shop while he ran down to seek out two remaining groundling tickets for the upcoming performance. Yes, we had just stood for three hours - we had also been walking non-stop as we were in Europe and that is all you do - but we did not care, Shakespeare had won both of us over and we were willing to give up all comfort for him. - It was an amazing night, one that I will never ever forget. It is pure joy when the person you love most dearly gets a glimpse (or a full seven hours) of what you are most passionate about. Bryce understood my love and zeal for Shakespeare that night more fully than ever before and to this day when I remember that afternoon & evening my heart softens and my eyes tear up, it was heaven on earth for me and I was blessed to have with me a husband that recognized my joy and then shared it with me.
Huh, as you can see, my passion prohibits me from reaching my point: My Thesis - ah yes, remember that? I will pause here to draw attention to the fact that, clearly, my brain is not working - I cannot focus, I can only go on and on and on about anything you like - except my thesis.  ahem.
Attempt two: In my thesis I am writing about Hamlet (the man) and how he experiences death and grief, how those emotions are likely reflections of Shakespeare's as he had previously lost his father the year before and his son, Hamnet, a few years earlier. While I cannot make the grief connection an important aspect of the thesis as it is purely speculative, I am fascinated at the truth and reality that Hamlet's mind illustrates as he struggles to understand, digest and live with death. So there, in a very small nut shell that is what I will be researching and working on until October. I will be posting quotes, notes & probably some pictures too with the hopes that you learn a little more about Hamlet than you ever cared to know. 

Here's a glimpse of the fun Bryce and I had at The Globe - again, make sure you go and then when you do, write me a REALLY long letter telling me how right I was and how much more complete you are as a person. I'll enjoy it.
The Great Roger Allam as Falstaff (and yes, he's in V for Vendetta and plays a creep).

Another reason why The Globe is my paradise, there is a Starbucks across the street.

The stage set

Resting our weary feet but still oh-so-happy!

Thanks for reading this one and putting up with me. Now I really need to get to work on my thesis, really. Here I go!