Strangeness Afoot

There’s something I don’t understand about college classes – mandatory class end times. I understand lectures will require that the students stay all the way through the end, because there’s teaching being done right up until the lecture is over. But in lab classes, where your primary activity is working on the project at hand…I’ve never understood why some teachers require you to stay until a certain time. One of my teachers maintains that she’s trying to prepare us for the ‘real world,’ and I respect that. But this is college. Aren’t we at a point now where we should be trusted to make those types of decisions for ourselves? Perhaps in doing so, we will learn something important about ourselves. If we work better at home, and we find out how that works for us, maybe that will drive us to find a job that allows us to do just that. If we work best in the lab or professional environment, then we can look for a job of that same situation. For some reason, in one of my classes, my teacher would prefer that we sit in the classroom on our phones or browsing the internet on our computers, rather than leave and work on other projects, or build into our lives outside of school.

And why is it assumed that students shouldn’t or don’t have a life outside of the classroom? Particularly in a community college. The vast majority of us enrolled in the community college have quite a busy life outside of the classroom. Full or part-time jobs, a husband/wife, kids. Families and responsibilities that require our time and attention. It’s not that we don’t want to be dedicated to our studies, it’s that we just don’t have the capacity to be completely engrossed in our studies and our lives. Even now, in my lightest semester to date, I struggle to balance my school life and my home life. I’m blessed that my husband supports my pursuit of education, and is willing to work on things around the apartment when I drop the ball. But not all students have that. Some are run ragged by their full-time jobs that refuse to work with the class schedule.

It’s time that we allow our kids to fail. No one likes to see their kids fail, but guess what – kids don’t like to fail either. If we allow them to falter and stumble, yet stay near enough to help them pick themselves up, and dust themselves off, they will learn to look for and avoid the obstacles in their path. That’s how we raise successful, independent adults.

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Steak dinners and fun

School started this week, which means I have class four days a week. Thankfully, this semester I don’t have morning classes at all, in contrast to 5 morning classes last semester – which is a problem for someone married to a night-shift guy!! This way, I get to stay up later and spend time with my husband occasionally, which is rather nice, considering that we’re just now coming up on 7mo of marriage!

img_2615Tonight, before things get crazy with school and whatnot, we invited John’s best friend over dinner. We grilled up some fresh steak that we bought from my parents, and cooked up some delicious potatoes. He, of course, brought a few 6-packs and we’ve been having a great time. I’m so incredibly thankful for the family and friends that I’ve gained through John. I live 8hrs from my family and most of my friends, but I’m never lonely here, thanks to his family. We watched Grand Tour (an Amazon Prime show) until Jon fell asleep – he’s now passed out in our spare room, and John and I will be staying up for a few more hours. Okay, like 6 more hours or so. (have I mentioned how much I love night shift?)

img_2569This weekend will be fun – I have no homework yet, and John works, which means I’m left alone to my own devices. Tomorrow will be spent purchasing art supplies with John, but Saturday will probably include cleaning (welcome to adulthood?), watching Netflix, crocheting, and preparing for the NFC Championship game by re-doing my amazing nails.  Being a Packer fan, I’ll be doing the new Green Bay Packer wraps that I traded with another Jamberry consultant for. With these last few huge games being so close together, my manicures haven’t had a chance to last nearly as long as they would, because I need a new mani for the games!! Last weekend nearly killed me and my nails – I was so nervous sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings! I’m not saying it was my nails that got me through, but…I did get several comments on them! Saturday will also be spent playing a pretty fun game in my customer group for some great prizes. I might also need to do some organization this weekend. I had all my random stuff semi-organized on the spare bed…but of course that’s now occupied, so everything is on my new desk – which desperately needs to be unburied so that I can do homework on it.

One more week of classes, and then John and I have a few days off for our top-secret 5-day trip! More details on that at a later date, once it’s no longer top-secret! However, now that I’ve had a few drinks, and I’m getting sleepy, and I still have to do my yoga for the evening, it may be time for me to sign off.

OH! I almost forgot! I found a little friend on our sidewalk yesterday. He appears to have suffered a massive heart attack, or fallen out of the tree and received a severe concussion or something of a similar nature. John says he was jumping and missed the branch, or said branch broke…I’m leaning towards catastrophic failure of some life system or other. Say a few words in his memory this evening.

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Goodbye

This is a short story that I wrote two years ago, at the least. I posted it on a different blog in February of 2014. I have not edited it since then, so take it with a grain of salt!


goodbyeIt’s not easy to be thrown around carelessly when you know the weight of that which you carry. You try to infuse emphasis and meaning into your flight, but what can one word do in that distance from one set of lips to the ear adjacent?

We watch from the shoulders of the people, riding the breath of their farewell, but it is a rare moment that any of us get a chance to convey the fullness of our mission. Often, instead, we are tossed casually back across the shoulders of one, only to bounce, un-noticed off the jacket of another.

But every now and then, if you’re extremely lucky, and you wait very, very patiently, you just might get a chance to be the most meaningful moment in someone’s life.

~*~*~*~

Often, you can find me in the homes of school children, after the teachers bid them adieu for the day, I have an unpleasant bus ride home, and then an evening of boredom before another trip back to school. I hang on tight to my little people’s backpacks as they trot off to the bus.

One particular frost-laden morning, I was riding with a little girl, dubbed ‘Carrots’ by the middle school quarterback. She seemed happy, for having such an unfortunate nickname, and I couldn’t help but wish someone would punish that boy for his unkindness. No little girl deserved that.

Still, I hoped she wouldn’t leave me on the bus, as I preferred the pretty, polite female teachers to the dirty, unpleasant bus drivers, and I was more likely to get set free from the cyclical life at school if I landed with one of the teachers, but she handed me off to the driver as she disembarked at the sidewalk with an excited ‘Bye, Mr. Garry!.’ With a groan, I tried to kick myself free of his grimy grey beard, but without the breath to set me free, I was stuck.

Careless, I muttered, as I watched the herd of children tripping and hurrying off to class. Don’t they understand the potential they carry inside? I could be so much more to them, if only they understood. Then again, I had to admit; maybe it was better if they didn’t know it all. Not just yet.

I squirmed my way to a somewhat less-greasy position and prepared to wait this one out. As unfriendly as this guy seemed to be, I got the feeling that I could be waiting a good long while.

We left the bus in a parking lot a few blocks from the school – just one yellow bus in a sea of twenty-some yellow buses. A gruff nod to the beautiful bus driver that had pulled in behind us cheated me out of an escape from the dingy beard. I groaned. Would the man never speak?

He climbed into a purple sedan that was easily as dingy as his beard and made his way down to the Rusty Turnpike. Sliding his filthy jeans across the torn barstool, he motioned to the bartender who pulled a cheap bottle of beer out of the cooler and pushed it across the bar. Seriously? I sidestepped quickly to avoid the cold mouth of the bottle. The bus driver might be accustomed to alcohol this early in the day, but I wasn’t up for it.

Three or four longnecks later, my driver stood up and weaved his way through the other early-morning drunks to the door. A clumsy ‘Later’ to the old man sitting at the end of the bar narrowly saved me from the even worse fate of being stuck in the bar for the rest of the day. The beard, at least, wasn’t dark and cloudy – though it did smell distinctly of alcohol.

Stubbing his toe on the leg of a chair, Garry tipped forward, dangerously close to landing flat on his face. He caught the edge of the table with one hand and pushed himself back upright. On our way out, we passed a dark-haired man in dirty jeans and a torn, black t-shirt. He looked far more interesting than the slob I was tied to now, and I dared to hope that maybe-

“‘Bye now,” my bus driver slurred. The apathetic exchange set me free, but left me clawing desperately at the tall stranger’s shoulder seam as he, too, stood up and strode out of the bar. The tiniest hint of an expensive scotch lingered on his breath – no stench of drunkard, no stumbling lack of control, just a bracing shot before…what? This one could be very, very interesting.

~*~*~*~

One short, bumpy ride in his pickup truck later, we pulled up in front of a light blue, single-story ranch-style. Alan turned the key in the ignition and palmed the silver key for a moment. One silver ignition key, with the identifying ‘Chevy’ on the black plastic worn down to a faint impression, and a plain gold key that looked like it belonged to a padlock. I clung to a loose thread as the man made his way up the dilapidated walk to the house. His knock at the front door rattled my hold, but without his voice to break the bond, I was safe from a treacherous fall. Another hearty thundering on the door brought slow footsteps from the inside of the house, and I thought I heard a man’s voice muttering something about knickers and knots.

The white painted door eased open, and a solemn face appeared at the edge of it, mirroring the grim expression that had remained on the face of my silent companion since we met. A silent glance passed between them – one of those inside things that outsiders aren’t supposed to understand. But there wasn’t an outsider here, not that they could see anyway. This house had obviously not seen a woman’s touch in years – the paint was peeling, the window sills showed signs of sun-fading due to the lack of curtains, and around the chiseled face of Alan’s friend, I saw stacks of dirty dishes that I could hide an entire novella in.

I waited for one of the men to say something, but neither of them seemed to move so much as to take a breath. They just stood there – somehow communicating with their eyes. Then Alan reached his right hand into the pocket of his jeans and pulled something out.

“Here, Lane,” he paused and stretched his hand out. “These…these are yours now. Take care of ‘er.”

Lane reached out and took Alan’s hand in his own, in a firm handshake that sent me scrambling for a better grip. When they let go, I saw the glint of metal in the Lane’s hand. He opened his fist for a moment…just long enough for me to see a set of keys resting in his palm.

The keys to the truck we had just arrived in.

I waited for an explanation…surely he wasn’t going to walk all the way back to town! And would these two never speak? I’d been in deaf communities that had more words flying around than this little visit did!

From behind us came the sound of tires skidding to a stop on the gravel road, and I turned to look. A red-headed woman stepped out of the driver’s seat of an 60’s-era Dodge Charger, pushed the door shut with more force that was really necessary, I thought, and leaned back against it. She folded her arms across her chest and stood there. Watching us. Waiting.

These people are literally the strangest I’ve ever seen in my life. Do none of them speak?

I turned back around just as Lane stepped out onto the deck and shoved his hands in his pockets.

Strange.

“You should go.” Lane’s voice was cracking with emotion, but he seemed to have it mostly under control.

Alan nodded. “My ride’s here.”

More silence.

Lane looked down at his feet, then up at the woman behind us and gave her an awkward wave. He clapped a hand firmly on Alan’s shoulder, then turned and opened the door again.

“Love ya, man. Take care.”

Alan nodded. “I will,” he replied, and Lane disappeared through the doorway again and shut the door.

We stood there for a moment longer, as though he was taking in the sights one last time, then the dark-haired man turned and walked away from the strange, lonely house.

He embraced the woman at the car – a hug, a lingering look into her eyes and a quick kiss on the cheek. The type of interaction that leaves all who are watching with a sense that there’s something more going on than what they can see – but no indication as to what that is. Then the man walked around the back of the vehicle, slid into the passenger seat, and we drove away, tires skidding on the gravel driveway once more.

~*~*~*~

We all got out at the airport, though really, it just looked like a mess of tarmac strips that had been left over from a big-city project and got dumped here in the hopes that someday, someone would use them.

Apparently someone had finally found a use for them, because there was a plane sitting in the middle of the black maze, door open, engines idling.

Alan and the woman turned to look at each other, the silence between them as thick as the Jell-O in the middle school cafeteria food line.

Say something, please! Why this silence and secrecy?

“Well, this is it, then,” she said quietly, her lower lip trembling just slightly as she did so.

He nodded. “Yeah…I guess this is it.”

She wrapped her skinny arms around him, burying her face in his chest, and he pulled her in close. I could feel her shuddering breaths as she clung to him, nearly hidden from the world by his far more muscular form.

They were the very image of a protector and his charge. A maiden and her prince.

A woman and the love of her life.

“Goodbye,” she whispered again, and I saw one of my own kind float from her lips to his ear, and hang there – savoring that precious, love-laden moment. The kind we all spend our lives longing for. The kind we cherish.

He held her tight, planted a tender kiss on her trembling lips, cupped her face in his hands and whispered back, “Goodbye, my beautiful. I love you. I’ll come back. For you. Trust me.”

I was caught in the wake of his breath, carried along to her earlobe, where I sat, bathing in the glory of the moment. The honor to carry a salutation of that magnitude…it didn’t happen often, and it never lasted long enough.

He let his hands drop back to his sides, and I felt her sigh. A deep, body-wracking, soul-rending sigh; the sigh of loss, and of pain.

That’s when I saw it. The drab green bag in the backseat of the car. He was pulling it out, now, and slinging it over his shoulder. It looked like nothing more than a large canvas sack, half-filled with unidentifiable objects.

She reached to her neck and wrapped her fingers around something hanging on a chain. I wiggled around to get a better look. It was a tag of some sort…I stopped. Dog tag-

I turned back to the retreating figure, and the pieces fell into place.

This was ‘goodbye for now’ but it was also ‘goodbye, forever,’ – you never know which now could be your last, but when the one you love is leaving for war, you never – ever – take that chance.

“I’ll be here when you come back, Alan Johnson. I promise. Goodbye, Sniper.” her breath blew me across the pavement once more, but lacked the strength to carry me all the way to his ear.

 

I think that’s okay, though. Because maybe I’ll wait here; wait for him to come home. Because ‘hello’ is just as important as ‘goodbye.’ And it hurts so much less.

charlie-brown

 

New Chapters in Life

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Our lives are ever growing and changing – chapters and storylines are continuously coming and going, old ones are ending and new ones beginning, morphing and changing like the living beings we are. As I look back on my life, it’s hard to believe I’ve made it to this point.

Five years ago, I was desperately ill, wondering what could possibly be making me feel so incredibly awful. Three years ago, I was starting off the new year, in a new city, living with strangers, starting a new job and a new life. Even the changes in those two years were mind-blowing. Since January of 2014, my life has made yet another complete 180° turnaround. I am now a full-time student pursuing a graphic design career, I found an apartment that I love in a fantastic part of town, and last but absolutely not least, I married the love of my life on June 23, 2016.

I avoid making New Year’s resolutions as a general rule, because a year is a long time and my goals tend to morph and change as the year takes it’s inevitable turns. That’s still true this year, but I have a few overarching goals that will last me right up until December 31.

First, I want to make my first wedding anniversary special. It’s a big deal, and I have no idea what we’re going to do for it, but it’s going to be great and we’re going to make it special and I’m very excited.

Second, I’m so blessed to have the school schedule this semester that I do, and I’m going to take advantage of that. At most, I have 3 classes per semester, and I may have as few as 2 classes in the fall. This provides me the perfect opportunity to spend more time focusing on my home, my husband, and my hobbies. One of those hobbies is a baby blanket for a family member that I should be working on right now instead of writing this blog post. But writing a blog post sounded like a better idea at 4am.

I love my life. I haven’t been able to say that very often – I’ve loved where it was going, I’ve loved thinking about what my life could be, but love my life right where it was? Not so much. But today? Right now? I do. I’m exactly where God has called me to be. I’m not sure how that happened, because I’m a terrible follower, but He’s a very big God, and I’m so thankful for that.

And with that, I sign off. I have hot food in the crockpot, and my husband should be leaving work any time now, which means I will finally be able to go to bed!

 

 

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Perspective is a funny thing

Hello all!

As we know, I’ve been dealing with the chemo treatments pretty well – some nausea the week following, and of course, the hair loss, but other than that they’ve been going very well. Still, it’s easy to get discouraged. A week is a long time to be nauseated! That uncertainty of whether I’m actually hungry, or actually very nauseous…Whether the smell of what’s cooking in the kitchen will be enough to tempt my appetite, or enough to send me running to the bathroom.

And then, God sends a message straight from heaven. “You think you have it rough, eh?”

My dad came walking out of his office yesterday, having just got off the phone with an old friend of the family, Marc. Marc just told dad about a friend of his who’s 14 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with a similar form of cancer as what I was diagnosed with in February. Except that she has been re-hospitalized several times, due to her body reacting severely with some of the chemotherapy drugs. I went on to read her updates, and found myself in tears. They were overjoyed when she was able to go back to school. For a day. Me? I miss church once every three weeks. That’s about it. She had to get her braces removed, due to mouth sores. Not only did I have my braces off long ago, I’ve had no mouth sores whatsoever.

And so, I sit here at my computer, my stomach doing who-knows-what…and I’d really rather not think about it, to be honest (just the thought of the treatments cues an aerobatic routine that would put the Olympic gold medalist to shame!) …and yet, feeling almost guilty for feeling this way. Not quite…people’s bodies respond differently, and I know that…but why had God given me this seemingly so much easier path to walk down? Is it so that I can give testimony to His greatness? I’m certainly no better than she is…I don’t deserve an easier treatment. I don’t deserve the cure that my doctors expect.

Honestly, I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. All I can say is that I’m asking for your prayers for my new friend Skylar. She’s going through a lot – even more than I mentioned here… Let’s send some angels to wrap their wings around her and hold her close to the heart of God.

And so it continues…

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Life, that is! 🙂

OK, all of you know that I nearly died in February. If you don’t know, now you do. 🙂 I’m doing fine, almost done with treatment. Moving right along, then.

I’ve started my second novel, currently going by it’s working title, Through the Flames. This is a ‘based on a true story’ novel, so those of you who are familiar with me and my life will most likely recognize a few of the events therein. However, I’ve added and changed a few things, so it’s not entirely as you might remember it. 😉

The OYAN Summer Workshop is coming up again in June, and I can’t wait! We’ve already sent in our registration and are making travel plans. Last year was epic, but I’m sure this year will be even better!

Beyond that, there’s not really a whole lot new going on. Summer is quickly descending upon us in all her hot and humid fury. <_< Not looking forward to that! But, with the speed this year is already moving at, I figure we'll hit Christmas and I'll still be thinking it's August! My grandpa used to say that life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end, the faster she goes! Well, either I'm getting awfully close to the end of my roll, or someone's pulling hard and fast on the end! 😛

Walls of My Heart

Here’s a new poem I wrote the other night… I know it’s rough, but lemme know what you think. 🙂

Walls of my Heart

My heart has walls
Walls to keep me safe
But thats the funny thing about walls
They tend to work both ways!

While I’m desperately hiding away
My fragile, quivering heart,
I’m blocking out the love
That’s been banging on the gate so long!

Now, the hinges are rusty,
The lock is stuck for good
And my lonely, tattered heart
Is cowering in the corner

You see, the walls I cleverly designed
Failed on all accounts
The didn’t keep my heart within,
And they couldn’t keep the pain without

And now what choice have I?
None, save to trust or go on in fear and emptiness
Is one safer? No. Which choose I, you ask?
“To have loved and lost is better than to have never loved at all”

Sorry, guys…

Hey, I know it’s been forever…I’m really sorry! After the contest back in August, things just seemed to keep piling on top of me and I couldn’t find any air!

So…let’s see…to hit the high-points…

I went to a Packer game in November! Monday Night Football, Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings. It was pretty sweet! I met a really nice couple who was sitting next to me…they’re from Washington D.C. and come out to Lambeau quite a lot for games. (I kinda wanted to know what he did, and how old their son was, if they have that kind of money!)

As long as we’re on the football topic, the Packers are currently 12-0, and well on their way to a great playoff run, and maybe even another trip to the Super Bowl!! That would be incredible!!

Now…since I know most of you could not care any less about football, I’ll try to think of some other news for you………

Nope, can’t.

Naw, I’m kidding. Lol! 😀

I’m still working at McDonalds (no, we never say ‘did you want fries with that?’ thank you very much!), and yes, I still really like it!

My ‘brother’, Tony, is moving away, first of the new year…it’s so weird to think about……..for so long that’s all I wanted, but now, I can’t think about it too long or I’ll start to cry!

And…Oh yes! Kerry’s back from Hawaii. That’s really good news for me, because I really missed him while he was gone!

Other than that…I think life has pretty much been status-quo….

Do You Dance?

This poem I wrote during church one Sunday after the worship time…

Do You Dance?

I strive to be someone
To succeed at Your call
But daily I fall short
Of all You have for me

We sing the songs,
They say You dance with joy
Each time we gather and praise
But how could that be?

How can You dance
When so often I fail?
You know the struggles I face
So how could You dance over me?

Could it be, just perhaps
That You can see beyond them
Beyond all my fleshly failings
Deep down to the core of me

Here is what I need to know
The question burning my heart
Is it true? Could it be?
Do You really dance over me?

My Prince

I wrote this poem one day while waiting for my sister at the vet, after a very difficult day, and several unpleasant conversations with my parents….

My Prince

Most girls dream of princes
Shining armor and
Trusty steeds

But not this one
Tall, dark and handsome, yes
But no steed for me

I dreamed of a hero
Someone who saves lives
My prince wears combat boots

But where could he be?
AWOL, it would seem
For I’ve seen no sign of him

You say he’s coming
In Your perfect time
He’ll come sweeping into my life

I want to believe You
But turning my love story over
Is harder than I thought

So won’t You take control?
Will You be my Prince
Until my prince comes along?